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In the Department

Marie Laryea to Lead Medicine’s DEI Initiative

October 27, 2020

Transplant hepatologist Marie A. Laryea, B.Sc., MDCM, associate professor of Gastroenterology/Hepatology and Surgery, will lead the Department of Medicine’s effort to support the Medical Center’s Equity and Anti-Racism Action Plan. She was named associate chair for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

She will focus on building a culture that embraces diversity as a core value through training, mentorship and leadership, fostering advancement of all faculty based on gender and rank, and faculty recruitment.

“We are very fortunate and excited that Dr. Marie Laryea has accepted this important leadership role in our department. Dr. Laryea will help us develop a comprehensive initiative to address diversity, equity and inclusion challenges and move forward in concert with the Medical Center’s plan,” said Paul Levy, Charles A. Dewey Professor of Medicine and Chair of Medicine. “I look forward to working closely with her as she develops an impactful and sustainable program that will touch all of our divisions and training programs.”  

Laryea is optimistic and humbled by the opportunity “to have real impact on our community and to help colleagues and trainees. This is an important process for the department and institution and I felt the need to step up and play my part.”

“We will work to welcome all patients and deliver the absolute best care to them. We will also strive to make all students and trainees feel welcome, no matter who they are or where they are from. We also will work to make faculty representative of the community we serve. What makes us all different makes us great.”

Rochester Academy of Medicine Recognizes Paul Levy for Lifetime Achievements

October 20, 2020

The Rochester Academy of Medicine’s highest honor, the Albert David Kaiser Medal, will be awarded on Oct. 20 to Paul C. Levy, M.D., the Charles A. Dewey Professor and chair of the Department of Medicine. The honor recognizes individuals who exemplify outstanding professional and personal qualities and lifetime service in areas of medicine, public health and community welfare. He will receive the Kaiser Medal as part of the academy’s annual awards event, this year being held virtually.

Levy arrived at URMC as an Internal Medicine resident in 1982 and after serving as chief resident in 1985-86, he completed a fellowship in Pulmonary Diseases & Critical Care. By the early 1990s, he was mentoring the next generation of clinicians, including Chief Medical Officer Michael Apostolakos, M.D. Levy was named interim chair of Medicine in 2009 and chair a year later.

Over the past 11 years, he has helped one of the medical center’s most expansive and complex departments to adapt and grow. He has underscored the importance of a dedicated physician role in providing high-quality patient-centered care within the department expanding programs across the inpatient and outpatient areas of the dozen-plus medicine specialties at Strong, Highland and our affiliated regional hospitals.

His legacy includes a strong emphasis on research and education missions, such as expanded efforts to foster research-program development in strategic areas and a highly successful annual pilot grant program to support junior and mid-career faculty. He’s particularly proud of his departmental leadership team and the roles they have played in developing mentoring and career development programs for our faculty, fellows and residents.

In 2019, Levy announced his plans to step down as chair. He completes his tenure at the end of this year, when newly recruited chair Ruth O’Regan, M.D., takes the helm. Levy will continue to serve as medical director of the URMC compliance program, along with his other non-departmental leadership roles. He also will continue to care for patients and oversee the Monroe County Tuberculosis Control program.

“Paul Levy is richly deserving of this honor,” said Mark B. Taubman, M.D., CEO of URMC. “For nearly 40 years, he has been humbly and quietly taking on some of our greatest challenges. He built the organization’s compliance program, stepped up to lead the Department of Medicine, and—in his own warm, approachable way—has instilled a culture of respect among faculty, staff and learners. He’s also an outstanding clinician who is loved by his patients and revered by those whom he has mentored.”

“I am both very humbled and honored to receive this award from the Academy of Medicine,” said Levy. “Having spent my entire professional career in Rochester, I deeply appreciate how fortunate I am to have worked with so many distinguished colleagues at the Medical Center and from across our community. The collaborative spirit among Rochester health professionals is truly unique and has fostered the development of so many programs targeted at improving health and health care of our community. Hopefully these partnerships will continue to pay dividends as we bring new energy to tackling access and care disparities in Monroe County.”

Ruth O’Regan Named Department of Medicine Chair

September 22, 2020

Ruth O’Regan, M.D., chief of Hematology, Medical Oncology and Palliative Care at the University of Wisconsin, has been named the next Charles A. Dewey Professor and Chair of Medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center’s School of Medicine and Dentistry, pending approval by the University Board of Trustees.

O’Regan brings more than 20 years of experience in academic medicine and a distinguished history of research and publication to her new role, which she will begin Jan. 1, 2021.

“Dr. O’Regan’s career to date is a testament to excellence, and we’re both pleased and fortunate that she will be joining URMC,” said Mark Taubman, M.D., CEO of URMC. “Not only is she an engaging, upbeat leader with a history of innovation: She has a bold vision for our Department of Medicine, and a strong track record as a clinician, mentor and outstanding investigator in breast cancer. We’ll be able to rely on her wide-ranging expertise to help us to grow our program locally and enhance its national reputation, building on the strong foundations that already exist.”

O’Regan succeeds Paul Levy, M.D., who is stepping down after a transformative decade as chair. Medicine has nearly 500 faculty across 14 divisions, making it URMC’s largest clinical and academic department.

“Dr. O’Regan rose to the top in a highly competitive search that drew a broad range of strong candidates from across the nation,” said Michael Rotondo, M.D., CEO of the University of Rochester Medical Faculty Group. “Her expertise will guide our Department of Medicine into a successful future across its patient care, research and educational missions. And her background as a distinguished hematologist and oncologist will open the way for important synergies as the Wilmot Cancer Institute continues to pursue National Cancer Institute designation.”

O’Regan has held her current position at the University of Wisconsin since 2015. She is also an endowed professor of Hematology/Oncology, deputy director of the University’s Carbone Cancer Center, chief scientific officer of the Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium and vice chair of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network’s Board of Directors.

“The Department of Medicine includes many different subspecialists and disciplines,” said Jeffrey Lyness, M.D., senior associate Dean for Academic Affairs, who chaired URMC’s search committee. “Dr. O’Regan has a great deal of experience and an outstanding record of successfully convening and leading interdisciplinary groups of people in tasks that span our missions of clinical care, education, research and scholarship, and community partnerships.”

A native of Galway, Ireland, O’Regan grew up in Dublin. She earned her medical degree at University College, Dublin, in 1988, and completed a residency in Internal Medicine at Mater Hospital, Dublin. She moved to the United States for subsequent residencies at the Medical College of Wisconsin and Northwestern University and a fellowship in hematology/oncology at Northwestern.

Prior to joining the University of Wisconsin, she was a professor at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Ga., where she was the Louisa and Rand Glenn Family Chair in Breast Cancer Research and led the Translational Breast Cancer Research Program. She also served as medical director of the Emory Breast Center (now the Glenn Family Breast Center), as chief of Hematology and Medical Oncology at the Georgia Cancer Center for Excellence at Grady Memorial Hospital and as director of the Hematology/Oncology Fellowship Program.

"I’m excited and honored to be joining the University of Rochester at this important time," O’Regan said of her appointment. “URMC’s Department of Medicine has a solid research program, a strong commitment to education and an impressive clinical enterprise. Everyone I’ve met is highly invested in the success of the department and the University as a whole. In addition, I find URMC’s community outreach efforts especially compelling. One of my passions is working with patients from traditionally underserved urban and rural populations, and I look forward to continuing that work in Rochester.”

O’Regan’s research centers on developing novel therapeutic approaches for treatment-resistant breast cancers, with a focus on triple negative and endocrine-resistant metastatic breast cancers—areas in which she is a nationally known thought leader. O’Regan’s work has been supported with funding from the NCI, foundations and industry.

She has written more than 100 peer-reviewed publications that have appeared in leading oncology, radiology, molecular biology, surgery and pathology journals.  She currently serves as editor-in-chief of Clinical Breast Cancer and as Breast Section Editor for Cancer.

Along with her research, O’Regan has a record of leadership in education and career development for trainees and faculty and has been invited to speak widely across North America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

DOM Faculty and Residents Recognized at University of Rochester-wide Convocation

September 14, 2020

The 2020 University of Rochester Convocation, held virtually this year due to COVID-19, has recognized several Department of Medicine faculty for their achievements in teaching and research.

  • John L. Mariano, MD and Shalom Schlagman, MD, both PGY-4th Years in the Medicine/Pediatrics Residency Program, received the Arnold P. Gold Foundation Humanism in Medicine Resident Teaching Award
  • Christopher J. Mooney, PhD, MPH, Assistant Professor of Medicine, was awarded a commendation for First Year Teaching
  • Chin-To Fong, MD, Professor of Pediatrics, Medical Humanities and Bioethics, Medicine, and Biochemistry and Biophysics and Chief of the Division of Genetics, received the Manuel D. Goldman Prize for Excellence in First Year Teaching
  • Catherine Moore, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine in the Division of Nephrology, was received a Commendation for Second-Year Teaching
  • Amy E. Blatt, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine in the Division of Hospital Medicine, received the Harry L. Segal Prize for Excellence in Third-Year Teaching
  • Jared Walsh, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of General Medicine, was awarded a Marshall Lichtman Dean’s Teaching Fellowship
  • Guylda Johnson, MD, PGY-3rd year Resident in the Medicine/Pediatrics Residency Program, received the UR School of Medicine Trainee Diversity Award
  • Laura M. Calvi, MD, Professor of Medicine and faculty in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, received the SKAWA Foundation Professorship in Endocrinology and Metabolism
  • Benzi Kluger, MD, MS, Professor of Medicine and faculty in the Division of Palliative Care, received the Julius, Helen and Robert Fine Distinguished Professorship
  • Chen Yan, PhD, Professor of Medicine in the Aab Cardiovascular Research Institute, received the Dean’s Professorship
  • Theresa Bingemann, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics, was elected to the American Board of Allergy and Immunology.

More information about these awards is available on the School of Medicine Convocation website.

Congratulations to Our Two New Clinical and Translational Science Institute (UR CTSI) Trainee Pilot Awardees

September 8, 2020

Trainee Pilot awardee Alan Brooks, M.D., Ph.D., a cardiology fellow mentored by Eric Small, Ph.D., Jeffrey Alexis, M.D., and Ilan Goldenberg, M.D., will tap into URMC’s heart tissue bank to compare gene expression in hearts from left ventricular assist device (LVAD) patients who developed right heart failure and those who did not. Through this comparison, Brooks hopes to discover biomarkers and develop a diagnostic test to predict which patients will develop right heart failure if they receive an LVAD.

Trainee Pilot awardee Carlos Diaz-Balzac, M.D., Ph.D., an endocrinology fellow mentored by Douglas Portman, Ph.D., aims to better understand the genetic mutations that disrupt normal brain function and cause intellectual disabilities. Using the nematode C. elegans as a model, he will study genetic mutations of a transcription factor known to cause intellectual disabilities.

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.

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