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News and Events

In the Department

Annette Medina-Walpole to Lead American Geriatrics Society

May 6, 2020

Medina-Walpole to Lead American Geriatrics Society

The American Geriatrics Society announced May 6 that Annette (Annie) Medina-Walpole, M.D., has taken the helm as president of the 6,000-member national society that implements and advocates for programs in geriatrics patient care, research, professional and public education, and public policy.

The Paul H. Fine Professor of Medicine and Chief of the Division of Geriatrics and Aging has a simple message for her colleagues, caregivers and older adults: “We’re with you—because building momentum for aging today, troubled as today may seem, will build momentum for a better tomorrow.”

Medina-Walpole was also was recently named as the inaugural director of the University of Rochester Aging Institute, which is poised to have a major impact across the university’s spectrum of aging research, geriatrics education, clinical care and community collaboration.

She is a pioneer in advanced-illness care for older adults, with a focus on championing interprofessional teams, eliciting personal care goals, and treating older individuals as whole persons. Medina-Walpole believes that expertise will be key, not only to combatting COVID-19 but also to ensuring health, safety and independence for all as we age.

“I’ve never been prouder to be a geriatrician and part of such an amazing professional society,” Medina-Walpole said. “Though this has been a time for reflection and resilience, it’s also been one for tremendous growth. I’m inspired by my colleagues, older adults and caregivers, who are rising to the challenge in all settings and health systems.”

An AGS member since 1995, Medina-Walpole is a frequent reviewer for the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society and chaired the 2008 AGS Annual Scientific Meeting Program Committee and the Teacher’s Section. She was co-editor of the Geriatrics Review Syllabus, a premier reference guide for clinicians engaged in continuing education.

Since joining the URMC faculty in 1998, Medina-Walpole became the leader of a highly ambitious program to integrate geriatrics into the whole of the university’s undergraduate medical curriculum. Through her efforts, aging became one of six underlying themes for the entire medical student community, and training of hospitalists and subspecialists in geriatrics has flourished. She also developed a Skills in Complete Patient Evaluation course to engage medical students in understanding the importance of patient history and physical examination, including for older adults residing in nursing homes.

Medina-Walpole also served as the Geriatric Medicine Fellowship Director and co-directed the Dean’s Teaching Fellowship, which trains faculty as master educators.

The American Geriatrics Society is a nationwide, not-for-profit society of geriatrics health care professionals that has—for more than 75 years—worked to improve the health, independence and quality of life of older people. Its members include geriatricians, geriatric nurses, social workers, family practitioners, physician assistants, pharmacists and internists.

Introducing UNMASKED: A Virtual Conference

The Department of Medicine is pleased to announce that it is sponsoring "UNMASKED," a virtual conference for members of the department showcasing scholarship presentations that were canceled due to COVID-19. We invite and encourage faculty, fellows, residents, graduate students and advanced practice providers to submit their proposals which were accepted at a canceled national meeting. Deadline for submission is May 10, 2020.

Read more about this opportunity.

Researchers Awarded $4.3 Million to Conduct Infectious Disease Vaccine, Treatment Trials at URMC

January 24, 2020

Ann Falsey, MD

Ann Falsey, M.D.

Angela Branche, M.D.

Angela Branche, M.D.

Researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) were awarded $4.3 million from the National Institutes of Health to conduct clinical trials of vaccines, treatments and diagnostics for known and emergent infectious threats.

The seven year grant, led by co-principal investigators Ann R. Falsey, M.D., and Angela R. Branche, M.D., will establish a Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit (VTEU) at URMC. The University is one of nine sites across the country to be named a VTEU, and will work closely with VTEUs at Emory University, University of Maryland, Vanderbilt University Medical Center and other sites to conduct a wide range of clinical studies.

URMC has a long history of testing vaccine candidates—from seasonal flu vaccines to smallpox and pandemic H1N1 vaccine candidates—as well as conducting human challenge trials, where healthy volunteers are isolated and exposed to infection and vaccination under tightly controlled conditions. Falsey and Branche will likely run one to two VTEU trials a year, with additional funds (above and beyond the $4.3 million) coming to the University to support implementation.

Leaders of the VTEUs will work with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at NIH to determine the areas of focus and prioritize projects for the consortium. One major focus will likely be the development and testing of a universal flu vaccine. Sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhea and syphilis, which are spreading rapidly among certain populations in the U.S. and becoming resistant to current treatments, could be the subject of other diagnostic and treatment trials. The consortium will also be ready to respond to emerging disease threats (such as the recent Zika and Ebola outbreaks) with the rapid design and launch of clinical trials.

In addition to Branche, assistant professor of Medicine, and Falsey, professor of Medicine, several co-investigators will participate in the research:

The new grant will also fund a clinical trial tract for infectious disease fellows. Falsey and Branche plan to recruit junior faculty members and train them how to manage clinical trials, including developing protocols, navigating the institutional review board process, recruiting, interacting with and following study subjects over time, and reporting study results.

The VTEU will utilize the Infectious Diseases Research Clinic in the Infectious Diseases Division at URMC.

Jennifer Anolik Authors Study on Rheumatoid Arthritis in Nature Immunology

May 23, 2019

A paper published in Nature Immunology details the results of a study looking at cell populations that contribute to RA, a common disease with chronic inflammation in the joint lining tissue or synovium. Jennifer H. Anolik M.D., Ph.D., professor of Medicine and associate chair for Research in the Department of Medicine, is one of four senior authors of the paper, “Defining inflammatory cell states in rheumatoid arthritis joint synovial tissues by integrating single-cell transcriptomics and mass cytometry.”

One of the unique immune cell populations identified in the RA joints included activated B cells. These findings extend Anolik’s prior RA research demonstrating a key role for B cells in joint damage and bone erosion by pinpointing a specific population of B cells in the tissue that may be particularly pathogenic. “This study gives us a unique window into rheumatoid arthritis that we never had before,” Anolik said. “We now have the tools to obtain joint biopsies and thoroughly dissect their cellular and molecular composition using state-of-the-art technology.”

Read the full article in Nature Immunology

Drs. Hammes and Anolik Named to Department of Medicine Leadership Roles

April 23, 2019

Jennifer Anolik, MD, PhD

Jennifer Anolik, M.D., Ph.D.

Stephen Hammes, MD, PhD

Stephen Hammes, M.D., Ph.D.

As part of a restructuring to further develop its core research and academic missions, the Department of Medicine has created two new leadership positions. Stephen Hammes, M.D., Ph.D., has been named vice chair for Research and Academic Affairs, and Jennifer Anolik, M.D., Ph.D., is the associate chair for Research. Both of these appointments were effective April 1, 2019, pending approval by the Office of the Provost.

Hammes’ new role combines the former associate chair for Academic Affairs and vice chair for Research positions. Anolik’s role is a newly created leadership position. Together, Hammes and Anolik will partner to oversee research and mentoring programs across the department. Their work will focus on identifying strategic growth opportunities around targeted areas of research at the inter-divisional and inter-departmental level. They also will be undertaking a formal assessment of our endowments to see if we can more strategically foster research-program development. Following a review of the department’s research portfolio, they will convene a group to discuss potential growth opportunities.

In addition, Hammes and Anolik will develop a more in-depth approach to faculty mentoring and career development, particularly among junior and mid-career faculty members.

Paul Levy, M.D. to Step Down after Transformative Decade as Chair of Medicine

April 18, 2019

Paul Levy, M.D.During his 10 years as Charles A. Dewey Professor and Chair of the Department of Medicine, Paul Levy, M.D., has guided his faculty through the advent of electronic medical records, the implementation of a new compensation plan, the growth of regional and population health models of care and a host of other changes.

Now it’s time for one more change—one that he’ll preside over with the same steady leadership as all the others. Levy announced today that he will step down as chair after his successor is found.

"I’ve been privileged to work with the best of the best across our clinical, education and research missions,” Levy said. “Our institution, and this department, are full of bright, good-hearted, collegial people, which has made my job a pleasure."

Levy also serves as medical director of our compliance program, a position he’ll retain along with his other non-departmental leadership roles. He’ll also continue to care for patients.

Kevin McGrody, Justin Hopkin Tapped for Department of Medicine Leadership Roles

November 7, 2018

Kevin McGrody, MD, and Justin Hopkin, MD, have been appointed to leadership roles—associate chair for Medical Informatics and chief of Hospital Medicine, respectively—in the Department of Medicine, supporting improvements to efficiency and systems for patient care.

Kevin McGrody, MDDr. McGrody is focused on optimizing clinical software tools and operations to enhance the patient experience. The role is familiar, as he held a similar position with Rochester Cardiopulmonary Group before the practice joined the Medical Center in 2015. The experience helped him as director of the 4-3600 Collaborative Medicine/Cardiology Unit and leader of the Heart and Vascular Service Line Informatics and CUPID Team. “This process really takes everyone on the team—administrative staff, doctors, nurses, schedulers, techs, check-in staff and Informatics/ISD team members—working together toward our goal of making the experience better for our patients and the institution,” Dr. McGrody said. “Improving our processes and software capabilities can be game-changers.”

Justin Hopkin, MDIn the his new role as Hospital Medicine Chief, Dr. Hopkin is focusing on expanding medical education and academic growth opportunities and creating a nocturnist program to support evening and overnight admissions are among his priorities. He joined the division two years ago, establishing himself as a leader and innovative thinker. “The Hospital Medicine Division has been transitioning toward a professional academic division under the leadership of Drs. Paul Levy and Marc Berliant. I want to continue encouraging academic achievement by our faculty, residents and trainees, which will, in the long term, support our patient care,” Dr. Hopkin said.

Five Department of Medicine Specialty Programs Recognized by US News & World Reports

August 13, 2018

Once again, several specialty programs in the Department of Medicine have been recognized by U.S. News & World Reports 2018-2019 rankings for America's Best Hospitals. The Nephrology specialty program has been recognized as one of the nation's best (ranked 44th in the nation). Other programs recognized as High Performing were: Diabetes and Endocrinology, Gastroenterology & GI Surgery, Geriatrics, and Pulmonology. (High Performing programs scored in the top 10 percent among all hospitals analyzed but were not nationally ranked.) In addition, Strong Memorial was again recognized as the top hospital in the Rochester Metro area, and both Strong Memorial and Highland were the only hospitals in the region to earn Top 50 rankings out of nearly 5,000 hospitals evaluated nationwide. Read more about the 2018 rankings and ratings.

Winners of 2018 Pilot Research Program Announced

July 9, 2018

The Department of Medicine is pleased to announce that the 2018 recipients of the Pilot Research Program are:

  • Dr. Douglas Anderson, Division of Cardiology:  "Control of Cardiac Rhythm by a Novel Potassium-regulatory Micropeptide"
  • Dr. Daniel Croft, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care: "A Pilot Randomized Crossover Trial of Indoor Air Cleaning to Reduce Acute Exacerbations of COPD"
  • Dr. David Levy, Division of Nephrology: "Nephrology Division E-Consult Program"
  • Dr. Susanne Miedlich, Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism: "Managing Diabetes in Patients with Schizophrenia: Is Early Therapy with the New GLP (Glucagon-Like Peptide) Analogue Semaglutide Superior to Standard of Care in Patients with Schizophrenia or Schizoaffective Disorder on Olanzapine or Clozapine?"
  • Dr. Melissa Mroz, Division of General Medicine: "Addressing Obesity and Mental Health through Primary Care Based Lifestyle Management Intervention at Strong Internal Medicine"
  • Dr. Tanya Sahay, Division of Gastroenterology/Hepatology: "Development of Primary Care Infrastructure for the Treatment of Chronic Hepatitis C Virus Infection at Strong Memorial Hospital"
  • Dr. Maria Slack, Division of Allergy, Immunology & Rheumatology: "Regulation of the Nasal Transcriptome by House Dust Exposure"
  • Dr. Lisa Vargish, Division of Geriatrics & Aging: "Interprofessional Education in Geriatrics"
  • Dr. Himabindu Vidula, Division of Cardiology: "Telemedicine for Left Ventricular Assist Device Patients: Feasibility and Patient Perceptions"

Funding will begin in July 2018. Learn more about the Pilot Research Program.

Dr. Brett Robbins Appointed Vice Chair for Education

July 1, 2018

Brett Robbins, MD has been appointed the new vice chair of education for the Department of Medicine. He assumed the post as of 7/1/18, following in the footsteps of Dr. Donald Bordley, who held the post for 20 years. He will oversee all educational activities in the Department of Medicine including the medical student clerkship and student electives, Internal Medicine and Medicine/Pediatrics residency programs, and subspecialty fellowship training programs. He will also continue in his roles as director of the Medicine/Pediatrics residency training program and assistant designated institutional official (to Dr. Diane Hartmann) for all training programs at URMC that are categorized as “Medical” by the ACGME. “I am humbled and honored to assume the post held by Dr. Bordley, a true living legend in medical education and one of my most respected mentors. I hope to continue his tradition of educational excellence.”

Plans for the year include:

  1. Consolidate the administration of the 15 fellowship programs underneath 4 highly motivated and talented administrators whose skills we will develop and invest in.
  2. Create an infrastructure for mentoring and academic productivity utilizing the incredibly talented team of educators we have in the department
  3. Engender a community of mutual support, mentoring and professional development for all fellowship directors.
  4. Maintain and build on the outstanding national reputation we have in the department of medicine in the wake of Dr. Bordley’s leadership.

Six Department of Medicine Specialty Programs Recognized by US News & World Reports

August 8, 2017

Six specialty programs within the Department of Medicine earned a High Performing designation from US News & World Reports for 2017-2018. The Specialties recognized were: Cardiology & Heart Surgery, Diabetes & Endocrinology, Gastroenterology & GI Surgery, Geriatrics, Nephrology, and Pulmonology. In addition, Strong Memorial was ranked High Performing in seven conditions and treatments, including five performed by the Department of Medicine: Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Repair, Aortic Valve Surgery, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Heart Bypass Surgery, and Heart Failure. U.S. News recognized hospitals that were high-performing across multiple areas of care and ranked them within their states and by metropolitan areas. U.S. News rated Strong Memorial as the top hospital in the Rochester Metro area and fourth among New York state hospitals. Read more about the 2017 rankings and ratings.

Michael Apostolakos Named Chief Medical Officer of Strong Memorial and Highland Hospitals

July 19, 2017

Michael J. Apostolakos, MD, Director of Adult Critical Care in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine for 20 years, is being named Chief Medical Officer of both SMH and Highland.

His appointment is pending approval from both URMC and Highland governance. Apostolakos will succeed Raymond Mayewski, MD, who stepped down June 30. As CMO, Dr. Apostolakos will oversee all matters related to medical staff affairs, clinical outcomes, patient safety and more.

Two DOM Faculty Appointed to Endowed Professorships

July 7, 2017

The University of Rochester Board of Trustees has appointed two Department of Medicine faculty to endowed professorships.  Steve Georas, MD of the Division of Pulmonary & Critical Care has been appointed to the Walter & Carmina Mary Parkes Family Endowed Professor for 5 years, effective January 1, 2017.  Annette Medina-Walpole, MD, chair of the Division of Geriatrics & Aging, was appointed as the Paul H. Fine Professor in Medicine from July 1, 2017 through December 31, 2021.

Read the full announcement about faculty appointments

Brett Robbins Named President-Elect of MPPDA

April 4, 2017

Brett Robbins, MD,  professor of Medicine and Pediatrics and director of URMC’s Internal Medicine-Pediatrics Residency Program, is the new president-elect of the Medicine-Pediatrics Program Directors Association (MPPDA), which is part of the Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine (AAIM). 

Effective July 1, Robbins will transition into a four-year term as president of the MPPDA, which is entrusted with advancing medical education in combined medicine-pediatrics programs across the country, promoting the growth of new combined programs, and educating medical students about opportunities in the field.

Robbins, who is also chief of Adolescent Medicine, said he sees the role as being an ambassador for the importance of having physicians in our health system who can provide high quality care for patients across the lifespan.

From the Press Room

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