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Department News


Department of Medicine Has Strong Presence at Two Gastroenterology Meetings

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

A large group made up of faculty, APPs, and residents gave multiple presentations and earned several awards at two national meetings this fall. In late October, the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) held its Annual Scientific Meeting in Charlotte, NC. In early November, the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD) held the annual Liver Meeting in Washington, DC, the largest international liver conference with almost 12 thousand attendees.

Here are some of the URMC highlights at the two meetings.

ACG Annual Scientific Meeting

Vivek Kaul, M.D., professor of Medicine, was a featured presenter. You can view his ACG 2022 speaker profile here. He led two sessions of the Hands-on Workshop – ERCP, and was a speaker of “Symposium: Artificial Intelligence in Gastroenterology and Endoscopy” and the sole speaker of “Current Applications of AI in Gastrointestinal Endoscopy.” 

Poster Presenters

*Please note: Presenting authors are listed. Each poster has additional authors and/or a faculty mentor who contributed to the project. 

AASLD: The Liver Meeting

APPs from the Division of Gastroenterology & Hepatology Develop Online Education Series

Friday, November 4, 2022

A large group of advanced practice providers (APPs) from URMC were invited by the APP Committee of the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) to participate in a national education project which was completed in October 2022.

Our APPs, along with other APP and ACG committee members, developed an online GI Education Series consisting of 11 modules, covering both organ systems and disease states in gastroenterology and hepatology. The course is geared toward APPs who are new to practice, or new to GI. 

Presentations were developed by:

Sarah Enslin, PA-C

  • Anatomy and Physiology: Pancreas, Gallbladder, and Liver Anatomy in Relation to Biliary Ducts 
  • Essentials of an Inpatient GI Consult Note

Victoria Howard, PA-C: Dysphagia and Odynophagia

Michael Colicchio, PA-C: Gastric Cancer

Jessica D'Acquisto, NP: Primary Biliary Cholangitis

Elise Bauman, MSN, BSN, BA, AGPCNP-BC, RN: Non-HCC Liver Masses

Katherine Rinehart BS/MS, PA-C: Autoimmune Hepatitis 

Carol Lustig, MS, RN, ANP-BC, ACGN: Hereditary Gastrointestinal Cancer Syndromes

Renee Robinson, DNP, FNP-C: Anesthesia and Sedation 

Mary Robinson, NP: Management of Diverticulitis: When to Refer to Surgery

*Margaret Mannellino, MS, RN, FNP-C: Laryngopharyngeal Reflux (LPR)

*Ariana Aliasso, PA-C: Lower GI Bleeding 

*Formerly of URMC

Members from the Division of Infectious Diseases Have Strong Presence at International ID Week in Washington, D.C.

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

ID Week is an annual meeting that brings together the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) and several other prominent societies focused on infectious diseases, microbiology, and global health. Infectious disease health care professionals from around the world gather to share updates on state-of-the-art technology and advancements in clinical care. This recent meeting was the first live event in three years, offering a hybrid program for those unable to attend in person.

URMC was well represented at the meeting with posters, presentations, and live sessions. You can explore the interactive program for further details on presenters and their sessions.

Session / Presentation Speakers

Edward Walsh, M.D. (view his speaker profile)

Ann Falsey, M.D. (view her speaker profile)

  • Efficacy and Safety of Bivalent Respiratory Syncytial Virus Vaccine in Older Adults – Walsh and Falsey
  • Affiliated event panel discussion Viral Respiratory Infections in Adults: Examining Evolving Seasonal Trends and Updates in Vaccine Research – Walsh and Falsey
  • Long term immunogenicity of Ad26.RSV.preF/RSV preF protein vaccine against RSV in a phase 2b study by age and risk level – Falsey

Angela Branche, M.D. (view her speaker profile)

  • SARS-CoV2 Variants: Preparing for the Inevitable
  • Staying a Step Ahead: Can Vaccines Keep Up with Variants?
  • Toward a Universal SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine
  • Covering the SARES-CoV-2 Antigenic Landscape: The COVAIL Trial and Beyond

Ghinwa Dumyati, M.D. (view her speaker profile)

  • Antibiotic resistant gram negative bacterial infections among persons with or without a prior positive test for SARS-CoV2 in 10 US sites, 2020
  • Hospitalizations and Antibiotic Use in the Year Prior to an Incident C. difficile Infection for Medicare Beneficiaries in Four States, 2016-18

Ted Louie, M.D. (view his speaker profile)

  • Drainage Pus and Slough: Oh My! The Role of ID Physician in Wound Care

Poster Presentations

Falsey: Biofire Film Array Pneumonia Panel

Sonal Munsiff, M.D. and Michael Croix, M.D.

  • Clinical Characteristics and Management of Nontuberculous Mycobacterial Infections in the Finger Lakes Region of New York – Munsiff and Croix
    • Croix was recognized with ID Week Trainee Award for this poster
  • Cost Effectiveness of rectal screening for ESBL producing organism in preventing urosepsis following transrectal prostate biopsy – Munsiff

Brenda Tesini, M.D. and Katie Vermilye, M.D.(from the division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases)

  • Epidemiology, virulence and antimicrobial resistance of hypervirulent K. pneumoniae western New York, 2017-20 – Tesini and Vermilye
  • Antibiotic Allergy Delabeling in Pediatric ID Clinic: Missed Stewardship Opportunities – Vermilye and Tesini, with Jessica Stern, M.D. from the division of Allergy, Immunology & Rheumatology

Rodolfo Alpizar-Rivas, M.D. and Paritosh Prasad, M.D.

  • Incidence and outcomes of infections in liver transplant recipients during first year post-transplant
    • Alpizar-Rivas was recognized with ID Week Trainee Award for this poster

Louie and Tyler Stephen, M.D.

  • Formulary Edits and Consistent Messaging for Unproven COVID-19 Therapeutics
    • Stephen was recognized with ID Week Trainee Award for this poster

URMC Earns Recertification as Comprehensive Hypertension Center of Excellence

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

The American Heart Association (AHA) recertified URMC’s Comprehensive Hypertension Center for the next three years. The Medical Center was among the first centers in the country to become certified, a recognition of our teams’ adherence to quality guidelines for the evaluation, diagnosis, and evidence-based treatment of complex or difficult-to-treat hypertension.

The hypertension program provides care for people with the most challenging forms of hypertension. It includes nearly two dozen specialists from Cardiology, Endocrinology, Nephrology, Pediatrics, Community and Preventive Medicine, and School of Nursing, all working together to improve the health of our patients and community. 

Efforts to re-certify were led by Hanna Mieszczanska, M.D., associate professor of Cardiology and director of the center, and Erika Drury, M.D., assistant professor of Nephrology. URMC is the only center in upstate New York to hold this designation. In addition to the recertification, the center also earned a Silver Award for Target BP, which recognizes providers for achieving blood pressure control rates in their communities. 

John Bisognano, M.D., Ph.D., professor emeritus of Cardiology and founding director of the center, reached out with this message:

“Congratulations to UR Medicine for this recognition! It is a real testimony to the efforts of Drs. Mieszczanska and Drury and is a major accomplishment (the AHA can be tough).”

New Artificial Intelligence is Helping Increase Polyp Detection Rate

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

The division of Gastroenterology & Hepatology recently began using artificial intelligence (AI) technology that enhances colonoscopy visuals, significantly improving accuracy in polyp detection.

Truptesh Kothari, M.D., M.S., associate professor of Medicine and a gastroenterologist, is excited about what this means for physicians and patients alike. “Early detection plays such an important role,” Kothari said. “Studies have shown that we can beat colon cancer if caught early by early detection of polyps.”

The AI-powered GI Genius module, made by Medtronic, is currently being used at Strong West, one of the first few sites in the upstate NY region. GI Genius is able to analyze the video stream in real-time, so for most of the endoscopic equipment it currently corresponds to 30 frames per second. The GI Genius training set comprises about 13 million images.

While interpreting a standard colonoscopy video, there is a potential for misses: a polyp may be flattened and not as visible to the naked eye, or there could be incomplete exposure of the entire surface of mucosa for the provider to see. By adding AI, it will help reduce that miss rate. According to research from the Mayo Clinic, the machine can reduce the miss rate by approximately 50 percent and results in fewer instances of false-positives.

Kothari recognizes that this is truly a team effort, and a successful colonoscopy relies on the physicians, nurses, technicians, and anesthesiologists involved in the procedure. As they perform more cases, they will be able to enhance the workflow. While AI provides an incredible benefit to visualization, it does not replace the need for a trained provider to interpret the images and make clinical decisions. Kothari and team are grateful for its assistance.

Nuclear Cardiology Team Honored by ASNC

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Nuclear Cardiology Laboratory members Ronald G. Schwartz, M.D., M.S., F.A.H.A., F.A.C.C., A.B.N.M., M.A.S.N.C., and Maria Mackin, M.S., C.M.N.T, R.T.(N), were recently honored by the American Society of Nuclear Cardiology for their contributions to advance the field.

Schwartz, professor of Medicine, Cardiology, and Imaging Sciences, Nuclear Medicine, received the Distinguished Teacher and Clinician Award. He is a founding member of the ASNC and past president of the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI) Cardiovascular Council.

Maria Mackin received the Distinguished Nuclear Cardiology Team Member Award, which is given in recognition of protocol development or implementation, teaching excellence, clinical excellence and service to ASNC. She is the Nuclear Cardiology chief technologist in the Paul Yu Heart Center and has been instrumental in development and implementation of advancements in cardiac imaging at the Medical Center.

Schwartz and Mackin perform dynamic acquisition CZT (cadmium zinc telluride) SPECT imaging to support treatment of coronary disease, cardiac amyloidosis and pulmonary hypertension, and assessment of organ rejection following heart transplantation.

They also worked with URMC’s Radiation Safety team to create an 80-hour course on radioisotope handling. The course was expanded to include international leaders, and endorsed and released by ASNC and SNMMI for high quality, standardized, efficient modular computerized radioisotope training and certification.

During the ASNC scientific sessions, Schwartz and Mackin presented abstracts and case studies along with Cardiology fellows Anas Jawaid, M.D., Jeffrey Fitch, M.D., and Erin Armenia, M.D., and Internal Medicine residents Paul Blasio, M.D., and Piotr Karmolowicz, M.D.

Shivangi Kothari Appointed to Board of Governors of the ACG

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Starting in October 2022, Shivangi Kothari, M.D., from the division of Gastroenterology & Hepatology, will take her place as governor of Northern New York for the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG). She will serve a three-year term along with 76 other governors, 67 of whom are US based, and ten internationals.

The ACG is an international organization of medical professionals focused on enhancing patient care, education, advocacy, and research for digestive disorders. The organization has more than 16,000 members worldwide.

As governor, Kothari will represent all members of our region and play a role in recruiting new members. She will provide two-way communication between the ACG and its members, which will inform her actions while attending the board of governor’s meetings several times a year. With a focus on education, she will have a hand in encouraging local postgraduate programs in gastroenterology. Kothari will have the ability to advise the ACG on the effectiveness of current programs, as well as suggest new programs, and work with the ACG and Washington DC for various bills that can benefit the patients in our region.

“I’m excited about this role as this gives me the opportunity to continue building the bridge created by our prior governors between our GI community and the ACG. I can help facilitate and advance the mission of ACG in serving its members’ needs and reflect our vision to the ACG to help optimize patient care in the region. Addressing the educational needs and advocating for ACG members and enhancing patient care are my priority for the term I serve as the ACG Governor for Northern New York.”

Two Department of Medicine Advanced Practice Providers Named to Leadership Roles of Sovie Center

Thursday, August 4, 2022

The DOM is pleased to announce that Cheryl Lustik, DNP, RN, MS, APN-C was named Chief Advanced Practice Officer of the Margaret D. Sovie Center for Advanced Practice in May. In this role, she will work in conjunction with clinical areas regarding models of care that allow nurse practitioners and physician assistants to work to the fullest scope of practice allowed by law. She will foster professional development through APP advancement models, fellowships, publications, and research.

“My vision for the Center for Advanced Practice is to foster the professional aspects of advanced practice providers,” said Lustik. She hopes to create more opportunities for APPs to advance their work, building on current strengths, such as the APP officer for Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion and APP Education officer. “I’m excited to partner with our regional practices,” said Lustik, “in organizing and elevating the structure of APPs. URMC APPs perform amazing work daily, they provide great care to our patients and families. They are valued. We must ensure APPs feel they are valued and that their input matters.”

The DOM is further pleased to announce that Greg Rosinski, PA-C, has been named director of Advanced Practice. He has practiced within the area for over 25 years and served in a variety of specialty areas, including Emergency Medicine, Hospitalist, ICU/SICU, and Primary Care. He has been with Clinton Medical Associates since 2009 and for the past three years has served as the APP Manager for the UR Medicine Primary Care Network.

“Greg is a highly experienced clinician/primary care provider as well as a thoughtful, conscientious, and experienced administrator and mentor,” Wallace Johnson, M.D., director of the Primary Care Network, said.

In his new role, Rosinski will provide direction and leadership for daily operations of the Sovie Center, focusing on APP recruitment and retention, credentialing, regulatory oversight, and performance measures. He will work collaboratively with the established Sovie team as well as individual department APP leaders, department chairs, and administrators. He will continue in his leadership role with the Primary Care Network, supported by a team of APP Leads. This includes his ongoing efforts with the new PCN Digital Health APP Team. Rosinski looks forward to building on the tremendous successes that have been achieved by APPs and APP leaders over the past few years. With the new department of Advanced Practice, APPs have been brought together with other health teams to demonstrate high-quality and cost-effective patient care. 

“I am thrilled to take on this new role and join the team at Sovie and am grateful for the opportunity to build on a legacy of excellence. Time and again we have seen our dedicated APPs deliver high-quality patient care when and where it is needed the most,” Rosinski said. “It is a true honor to help grow the voice of APPs as part of the solution to the healthcare needs of our institution and community.”

Geria Furtuna Named Associate Medical Director of Monroe Community Hospital

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

As of July 1, Geria Furtuna, M.D., from the division of Geriatrics & Aging, is the new associate medical director of Monroe Community Hospital, a residential health care facility that provides long-term care for individuals with complex health conditions. She joins the hospital’s medical leadership team with current medical director, Ian Deutchki, M.D.

Furtuna joined URMC in 2007 for her Geriatric Medicine Fellowship, after completing a Family Medicine Residency at Duke University. She is currently an associate professor of Clinical Medicine at URMC. She brings years of leadership experience, skill, and expertise in quality care of older adults in long-term care settings. 

Division chief Annie Medina-Walpole, M.D., said “Dr. Furtuna is a competent, compassionate, and thoughtful geriatrician. As a nursing home physician at MCH, a University-affiliated teaching nursing home, Dr. Furtuna personally cares for the most medically complex and frail members of our community. We wish her and Dr. Deutchki continued success in their MCH leadership roles.”

Division of Geriatrics & Aging Announces New Leadership Roles

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Division chief Annie Medina-Walpole, M.D. is thrilled to announce that two faculty members have recently been promoted to leadership positions. Both went into effect on July 1. 

Corey Romesser Named Medical Director of Geriatrics at Highland Hospital

Corey Romesser, M.D., earned his M.D. at New York Medical College, and completed his residency in Internal Medicine here at URMC, followed by a fellowship in Geriatrics at Monroe Community Hospital. “Dr. Romesser brings a wealth of experience as a Geriatric Hospitalist and administrative leader,” said Medina-Walpole, “and is the perfect person to take on this new role of Medical Director. I am confident that he will continue the visionary advancements in geriatric models of care at Highland and serve as a role model and mentor to faculty and trainees alike.”

Rebecca Monk, M.D., chief of Medicine at Highland Hospital, said “Corey goes above and beyond to ensure that hospitalized older adults get the best care possible. He has already demonstrated skillful leadership in his role as head of the geriatric fracture/co-management team at Highland. The physicians on his team (and I) appreciate his meticulous care and attention to all he does, his compassion, and his fairmindedness. I have no doubt that he will continue to grow and excel in this role.” 

Jennifer Muniak Named Medical Director of the Highlands at Brighton, a University Nursing Home

Jennifer Muniak, M.D., earned her M.D. at SUNY Upstate Medical University and completed her residency in Internal Medicine here at URMC. She is succeeding Joseph Nicholas, M.D., M.P.H. as medical director. “Dr. Muniak is well known regionally and nationally,” said Nicholas, “for championing effective and efficient interprofessional care for older adults. There isn’t a better person in our system to lead the medical staff at HAB, and work collaboratively with other nursing home colleagues to optimize care for the most complicated patients in our system.”

Medina-Walpole said, “Dr. Muniak is a rising star in the division and the recipient of the four-year national career development grant, the Geriatrics Academic Career Award. She was one of only 26 awardees nationally in 2019! This award is given to the brightest and the best geriatrics educators in our nation and reflected her accomplishments in the field of academic Geriatrics and her potential to be a high-impact leader in our field. She is championing the Age-Friendly Health Systems efforts at Highland Hospital and developed a novel education curriculum to bring the AFHS concepts to our regional nursing homes through her work in Project ECHO®.  Dr. Muniak will continue the tradition of excellence at Highlands of Brighton, caring for the most medically complex members of our post-acute and long-term care community and spearheading innovative education programs in this venue.”

“I'm very excited to take on this new role as medical director,” said Muniak, “it should be a great place to grow as a leader and apply my existing passions for Geriatrics Education and Interprofessional care of complex patients. Highlands at Brighton is a unique nursing home environment and a critical piece of URMC, given that we care for patients with complex medical, psychiatric, and behavioral needs that cannot be met in other settings. I'm proud to have a great team and I'm hopeful that we can grow our academic and educational presence for students and trainees.”

Researchers Receive $2.5 million NIH Grant to Study Potential Sepsis Drug Therapies

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Every year, nearly 11 million people around the world die of sepsis, and there is currently no FDA approved drug to treat the condition. URMC researchers are out to change that.

When Anthony Pietropaoli, M.D., first met Minsoo Kim, Ph.D., over 15 years ago, they found they had common scientific and clinical interests, and started a fledgling translational research project combining a small cohort of septic patients with preclinical investigations using a mouse model of sepsis. In 2014, they earned a $4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to study how immune cells would penetrate blood vessels. Fueled more recently by a URSMD Scientific Advisory Committee Faculty Pilot Incubator award, they have continued to build on that work and grow their collaborative sepsis research program.

This new grant from the NIH is for $2.5 million over four years, and will allow Pietropaoli, a professor of Medicine in Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine, and Kim, the Dean’s Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, to conduct research for their ambitious proposal: determining whether a specific blood complement factor could be used as a drug treatment for sepsis.

With funding from previous grants and their intense study of blood markers, they discovered that the complement protein C1q, which occurs naturally in our blood and is one of the bacteria fighting molecules, has other functions, such as promoting resolution of inflammation. They aim to do a deep dive into C1q to see if harnessing its functions can lead to a new therapeutic treatment. 

Drug therapies for sepsis have been difficult to obtain so far because the patient population is so diverse. There is no one treatment for the wide variety of situations of septic patients.

“The goal of this new research,” said Pietropaoli, “is to determine whether the production of C1q by neutrophils in septic patients is an important prognostic marker in our cohort of critically ill patients with sepsis. If we can show this is true, independent of other things like age, and comorbidities, then we have something that might be a relevant target for therapy. Our preliminary work suggests that when neutrophils don't or can't produce C1q, they can't be effectively cleared, and thus they continue to promote organ failures and sepsis. We want to both prove that it's prognostically significant, and further investigate the reasons why neutrophil C1q is so important.”

Their work is also a very timely topic as we continue to see COVID cases in hospitals. “A lot of COVID patients,” said Kim, “they don’t really die because of the virus, they die because of the overall inflammation response. It’s not the virus that kills them, it’s what it does to their bodies, and a lot of COVID patients are dying of sepsis.”

Pietropaoli and Kim stress that all of this work is made possible by the enthusiastic assistance of the clinical ICU teams of nurses, respiratory therapists, and providers, and the selfless generosity of their patients and their families.

For the time being, their treatment studies will be conducted with lab mice, providing pre-clinical data that will be used to build rationale for potential human clinical trials down the road. Should their work prove successful, URMC may present the world with a new drug treatment for sepsis.

A Generous Gift from a Grateful Family Establishes Pulmonary Education Endowed Fund

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Ellen and Donald Bilgore have donated $500,000 to the divisions of General Medicine and Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine to establish the Donna Bilgore Robins Research, Education & Clinical Innovation Endowment. The fund will support education initiatives for junior faculty. The Bilgores are lifelong Rochester residents, and are extremely grateful for how Strong Memorial Hospital has cared for their daughter, Donna, all her life.

At only six months old, Donna was diagnosed with severe asthma. She is now in her 60s, and as she points out, “I never have a day that’s asthma free.” During her childhood, her parents were very involved in her care, which included many trips to the hospital.

Don had already developed a great patient/doctor relationship with his primary care doctor, Marc Berliant, M.D., who is now division chief of General Medicine. Together with Paul Levy, M.D., professor of Medicine in Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine, and Augusto Litonjua, M.D., M.P.H., chief of Pediatric Pulmonology, they have worked with the Bilgore family for many years.

The endowed fund will also establish the Donna Bilgore Robins Teaching Day, for updates on education, training, treatment, and management of asthma and other airway diseases, to and by providers for patients, patients’ families, and their caregivers. 

To honor the Bilgore family and their generosity, the Pulmonary clinical care suite has been named after Donna Bilgore Robins, where a new plaque has recently been installed that includes the phrase “to breathe is to be free.” There is a similar plaque in her honor at the Mary Parkes Asthma Center.

Presented with the plaque, Donna said “I want to thank the University of Rochester Strong Memorial team who have helped to develop the focus of this fund. In particular, I want to recognize Dr. Levy, Dr. Berliant, Joe Lynch and Michael Fahy from Advancement. This is definitely one of the most memorable days of my life. I am humbled by the naming of this gift that recognizes my personal struggle.”

You, too, can donate to the division of Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine.

Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism Make Their Mark at Annual Endocrine Society Meeting

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Faculty, fellows, and grad students from URMC recently attended the annual conference of the Endocrine Society in Atlanta, Georgia. The society is a global community of more than 18,000 physicians and scientists who are dedicated to hormone research. Our faculty and students presented their work through posters, talks, presentations, and workshops.

See a full list of presenters and their titles.

Of special note, Stephen Hammes, M.D., division chief of Endocrinology, served as the chair for the meeting, and on the final day officially became the president-elect of the Endocrine Society. Hammes was also a top influencer on social media. You can follow him on Twitter, @StephenHammes for news and research. 

“I could not be more proud of the huge participation by our University of Rochester faculty and fellows at the annual Endocrine Society meeting,” said Hammes, “which was our first live meeting in 3 years. Meetings like this afford us the opportunity to learn from others around the globe, to show off the great work being done at Rochester, and to meet new friends and colleagues who will remain with us for the rest of our lives.”

Department of Medicine Hosts Successful DEI & Healthcare Equity Symposium

Thursday, June 9, 2022

The inaugural department of Medicine DEI & Healthcare Equity Symposium was hosted by Marie Laryea, B.Sc., M.D.C.M. and Laura Stamm, Ph.D., on May 24, 2022. The symposium had over 170 attendees, from medical students to faculty belonging to different departments across URMC, including Medicine, Pediatrics, Psychiatry, Public Health Sciences, School of Nursing, Surgery, and Medical Humanities. The diversity of participants attests to the widespread growing interest in DEI and healthcare equity research across the institution.

This year’s symposium featured a special spotlight on LGBTQ+ healthcare with a panel, posters, and keynote devoted to the topic. The inclusive care panel (Deanne Fuller, M.S., R.N., TramAnh Phan, M.D., Susan Miller, B.A., Davy Ran, M.Sc., M.P.H., and Catherine Cerulli, J.D., Ph.D.) took an intersectional perspective on LGBTQ+ health with a range of approaches to sex, gender, race, and disability. Hil Malatino, Ph.D., from Penn State University, delivered a keynote on trans care titled “Trans Care Within and Beyond the Healthcare Industry.” Lastly, Allison Ogawa, MS4 won the prize for Best LGBTQ+ Project with their poster titled “Pandemic Narratives of LGBTQ+ Older Adults: Community, Resilience and Grief” (see below).

The symposium also included research on healthcare equity in the Rochester community with a panel, workshop, and posters demonstrating the excellent work being done to better serve everyone in Rochester. The Healthcare Equity in Rochester panel (Wilhelmina Sizer, D.N.P., R.N., Diane Morse, M.D., Mahala Schlagman, M.D., Andrea Gero, M.D., Allison Ogawa, MS4, and Jessica Meyer, M.D.) featured novel care approaches to working with underserved community members. This panel included the prize winners for Best Oral Presentation, Al Ogawa and Jessica Meyer, with their presentation titled “Addressing the Use of Law Enforcement Restraints on Incarcerated Pregnant Individuals” (see below). The workshop on getting started with community engaged research workshopped an initiative to increase home dialysis utilization (Eliot Sachsenmeier, MS4, Veronica Yu, MS4, Sai Reddy, M.D., TramAnh Phan, M.D., and Catherine Moore, M.D.) with a panel of experts (Liz Miller, M.D., Candice Lucas, Ed.D., M.B.A., and Nancy Bennett, M.D., M.S.). Liz Miller, M.D., Ph.D., from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, gave the keynote “Centering Community Voices to Promote Thriving and Health Equity” that provided inspiration for furthering URMC’s engagement with the Rochester community. Finally, Jessica Oribabor, M.D., M.S., won the prize for Best Poster for her project titled “Ramadan Dietary Order Quality Improvement Initiative” (see below).

The symposium highlighted research on DEI in medical education with a roundtable discussion and posters. The DEI in medical education roundtable (Melissa Mroz, M.D., Emily Salib, M.D., Erica Miller, M.D., Alec O’Connor, M.D., M.P.H., and Nikesha Gilmore, Ph.D.) allowed researchers to showcase their individual projects before engaging in a discussion about the future of DEI in medical education.

Award Winners

Best Oral Presentation

Allison Ogawa, MS4 and Jessica Meyer, M.D.

“Addressing the Use of Law Enforcement Restraints on Incarcerated Pregnant Individuals”

“SMH Policy 9.10: Once a patient who is incarcerated or in custody is in labor, is admitted to the hospital for delivery including termination of pregnancy and pregnancy loss, regardless of gestational age, or is recovering after these events, no law enforcement restraints (such as handcuffs or shackles) shall be used. Now law enforcement officers shall be present in the delivery room during birth, unless requested by the medical team or by the patient themselves.”

View the poster

Best Poster

Jessica Oribabor, M.D., M.S.

“Ramadan Dietary Order Quality Improvement Initiative”

“With this new meal ordering system in place, URMC now has the ability to offer culturally sensitive dietary options to Muslim patients during Ramadan. This initiative demonstrates how multidisciplinary QI collaborations can create institutional change to advocate for patients and improve inpatient experiences within our hospital system.”

View the poster

Best LGBTQ+ Project:

Allison Ogawa, MS4

“Pandemic Narratives of LGBTQ+ Older Adults: Community, Resilience and Grief”

“In addition to looking for risk factors, we must employ resilience-based models by listening to patients’ stories and setting aside expectations of how grit, community and survival ‘should’ appear. In doing so, we can affirm queer and trans patients’ values and provide better historically informed and culturally connected healthcare.”

View the poster

Tweets from the Symposium

Faculty from URMC Have Large Presence at ATS Conference

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

The American Thoracic Society (ATS) is the world's leading medical society dedicated to accelerating the advancement of global respiratory health through multidisciplinary collaboration, education, and advocacy. M. Patricia Rivera, M.D., division chief of Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine, is currently the president-elect of ATS and will assume the role of President in May 2023.

From May 13 – 18, 2022, the ATS held its annual conference in San Francisco, California. URMC had an exceedingly large presence with many faculty presenting talks, symposia, and research projects. Faculty were present from the division of Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine, as well as Pediatric Pulmonology, Neonatology, and Environmental Medicine.

View the full list of presenters.

Faculty from the Division of General Medicine Have Strong Presence at SGIM and ACP Annual Meetings in April

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

In April, the American College of Physicians (ACP) held its annual meeting in Chicago, Illinois, and the Society of General Internal Medicine (SGIM) held theirs in Orlando, Florida.

These events featured workshops, clinical updates, symposia sessions, and keynote addresses, which included a strong presence from several faculty and residents from the department of Medicine.

Poster Abstract

Jared Walsh, M.D. and Catherine Gracey, M.D.
“Implementation of an Online Learning Module Curriculum for Type 2 Diabetes” *SGIM

Poster Presentations

Mahala Schlagman, M.D. and Samuel Ayo, M.D.
“An Innovative Multidisciplinary Approach to Quantify Referrals to our Medical Legal Partnership” *SGIM

Mahala Schlagman, M.D.
“Unequal distribution: Access to SARS-COV2 testing sites in comparison to SARS-COV2 positivity rates in Monroe County, NY March – October 2020” *SGIM

Andrea Garroway, Ph.D.
“Patient-reported acceptability of Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) screening in adult primary care” *ACP

Oral Presentations

Jared Walsh, M.D.
“Pilot Phase Report of a Novel Mobile Substance Use Disorder Treatment Program in an Academic Health System” *SGIM

Melissa Mroz, M.D.
“Clinical Update in Obesity Medicine” *SGIM

Members from the Division of Geriatrics & Aging Present Work at AGS Annual Meeting

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

The American Geriatrics Society (AGS) held its annual scientific meeting this May in Orlando, Florida. Faculty, fellows, and APPs from Geriatrics & Aging and Oncology were well received with posters, symposia, and workshops of their projects.

It was a special occasion for division chief Annie Medina-Walpole, as she is the immediate past president of the society, and is completing her term as chair of the board next month.

Fellowship Director’s Preconference Session

Annie Medina-Walpole, M.D. – division chief of Geriatrics & Aging
“AGS Initiative Addressing the Intersection of Structural Racism and Ageism”

Sessions, Networking, and Workshops

Thomas Caprio, M.D.
Paper Session: “ECHO in Action: Impact, Barriers, and Lessons Learned Across Six Age-Friendly Geriatric ECHOs”
Workshop: “Project ECHO: a variety of robust uses for interdisciplinary education”

Melissa Loh, M.B.B.Ch., B.A.O., M.S.
Talk: “Barriers and Facilitators to Real-World Implementation of Precision Medicine”
Talk: “Developing and Assessing a Mobile Health Exercise Intervention for Older Patients with Cancer”
Networking Session: “Cancer and Ageing Special Interest Group”
Poster Session: “Feasibility and usability of a mobile health exercise intervention (GO-EXCAP) in older patients with myeloid malignancies”

Jennifer Muniak, M.D.
Moderator: “Racism in Healthcare: How Can We Respond as Targets, Colleagues, and Leaders”

Amber Birkland, PA-C
Workshop: “Geriatric Education Materials and Methods Swap”
Poster Session: “Breaking Down the Hierarchy: Impacts of a Certified Nursing Assistant (CAN) Experience on Internal Medicine Residents”

Fatima Hafizi, M.D.
Poster Session: “When Less is More: A Case of Diligent Care Obviating the Need for Advanced Testing and Hospitalization"

Naveen Silva, M.D.
Poster Session: “Indwelling Pleural Catheters in Select Patients with Non-Malignant Pleural Effusions”

Mark Shehata, M.D., M.B.A.
Poster Session: “A Great Distractor: CIDP Presenting as a Paraneoplastic Syndrome of Lymphoma in an Older Adult Patient”

Mostafa Mohamed, M.B.B.Ch.
Poster Session: “External validation of a predictive model for unplanned hospitalization in older adults with advanced cancer receiving chemotherapy”

Amy Blatt Named Internal Medicine Residency Program Director

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Beginning on June 1, 2022, Amy Blatt, M.D., will take on the role of program director for the IM Residency Program. She has already served URMC residency programs well, with six years as IM clerkship director, 12 years as associate program director for Medicine/Pediatrics, and one year as associate program director for IM. She is a well-known academic educator who has received numerous teaching awards and has presented at many national conferences.

Blatt is succeeding Alec O’Connor, M.D., M.P.H., who has served as program director for ten years. He will continue to be involved with the residency as associate program director. His accomplishments during his tenure are many, including expansion of the program from 75 to 88 trainees, addition of a primary care track, and expansion of the curriculum to include training in quality improvement, health equity, point of care ultrasound, and a greater emphasis on ambulatory experiences. O’Connor has published 29 peer-reviewed articles and presented at national conferences 25 times during his tenure.

“Our residency has been in great hands with Dr. O’Connor for ten years,” said Ruth O’Regan, M.D. chair of Medicine, “and is now entrusted to the excellent hands of Dr. Blatt. We are indeed fortunate to have both of them on our faculty and as part of our team.”

Faculty from Divisions of Hospital and General Medicine Make Their Mark at Academic Internal Medicine Week

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

From April 10 – 13, faculty and staff from departments of Internal Medicine at medical schools and teaching hospitals from across the nation gathered in Charlotte, NC, for the annual conference, Academic Internal Medicine Week. Faculty from URMC had a strong presence, hosting several workshops, facilitating discussions, and presenting abstracts. Follow the links for full descriptions and resources.


Jennifer Pascoe, M.D.
Update in Medical Education Literature – A plenary session for Clerkship Directors in Internal Medicine (CDIM), focusing on a review of the most recent medical education literature



Department of Medicine Begins Preparations for Incoming Chief Residents

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

As the school year comes to a close and plans for the following year are made, the two residency programs of the department of Medicine are preparing for outgoing Chief Residents to pass the torch to the incoming Chiefs.

The Internal Medicine Residency Program has four Chief Residents. All of them are staying within URMC as they move on to the next chapter of their lives. Siobahn Evans, M.D., will join the Primary Care Network. Katlyn McBride, M.D., will start her fellowship in Geriatrics. Robert Reynolds, M.D., M.P.H., will join Highland as a hospitalist. Edward Shanley, D.O., will start his fellowship in Hospice & Palliative Care.

Alec O’Connor, M.D., M.P.H., is the program director for Internal Medicine, and is excited to announce the incoming 2022-23 Chief Residents. They are Samuel Ayo, M.D., Sara Gianfagna, D.O., M.S., Jenny Schreiber, M.D., and Mujtaba Soniwala, D.O.

The Medicine/Pediatrics Residency Program has one Chief Resident. Georgia Farrell, M.D. will be leaving URMC and is heading to the University of Vermont as a Med/Peds hospitalist.

Brett Robbins, M.D., is the program director for Medicine/Pediatrics, and is also excited to announce the incoming Chief Resident, Guylda Johnson, M.D.

Chief Residents are selected each year by the program director, based on input from other residents, faculty, and staff. They are chosen for their academic excellence, having outstanding interpersonal and teaching skills, and for being fantastic role models and mentors to junior trainees. “We are fortunate to have a deep bench of excellence to choose from each year in both programs,” said Robbins.

April 10 – 13 was the annual Academic Internal Medicine Week, a conference that convenes faculty and staff from internal medicine departments across the US. Program directors attend workshops and educational sessions where they can network and share ideas with their peers from around the country.

One aspect of the conference is the Chief Residents Meeting, where incoming chief residents attend a “chief camp” where they network and learn skills to prepare them for their new roles. O’Connor and Robbins were thrilled to attend with this year’s rising chiefs.

Incoming 2022-2023 Internal Medicine Chief Residents

Helping Hearts: Financial Program Named for Frank Richeson Supports Cardiac Patients

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

In 2019, Eduardo Arazoza, M.D., associate professor of Clinical Medicine in Cardiology, was invited to co-chair the URMC Toast to Your Health fine wine auction. The event raised funds that were intended to support heart and vascular research at the Medical Center. While the event was a great success and supports one of our missions, Arazoza felt that patrons and philanthropists should have several options for where their donations go: some could support research, or they could support direct cardiac patient care, something Arazoza saw a need for.

Arazoza got the ball rolling for this new type of fund. The intent is to provide financial assistance for patients who may have difficulty affording treatments and therapies that they medically require. The fund can help provide patients with blood pressure cuffs, pulse oximeters, and even scales to help people track their weight at home. Arazoza initially received donations from faculty, and soon expanded to the public. Now, when patrons visit the Cardiology Giving website, they have options for where they can direct their donations.

The name of the fund was meant to reflect the Meliora values of the University. Understanding this, Charles Lowenstein, M.D., then chief of Cardiology, approached Frank Richeson, M.D., professor emeritus of Cardiology, to be the face of the program. Richeson had a long career dedicated to providing excellent care to his patients, and acting as mentor to the next generation. He earned his M.D. at the University of Rochester, where he also held his residency in Internal Medicine, and fellowship in Cardiology. He joined our faculty in 1979. In honor of his career, passion, and dedication, the fund was named the Richeson Cardiology Patient Care Assistance Program.

“Most of the diseases we deal with are highly preventable,” said Richeson, “and optimally require day-to-day home management. Many of our patients cannot afford the tools to monitor and regulate their cardiac issues. It is difficult to treat hypertension effectively if the only reading one has is a random measurement in the cardiologist's office. Allowing the patient to monitor (and report) home blood pressure readings permits a more highly informed treatment. Patients with obesity and congestive heart failure need to follow their weight closely so that their cardiologist can intervene in a more timely way. Patients who cannot afford to travel to their cardiologist's office often need assistance with transportation costs. And, while most medications that cardiologists prescribe are relatively inexpensive, many patients have difficulty affording even those. The list of relatively cheap and simple interventions that the Patient Assistance Fund can provide is a long one. I am pleased that this is now available.”

Throughout 2021, the Richeson Program assisted 704 patients. It provided items to both inpatient units and outpatient offices, including 538 blood pressure cuffs, 42 pulse oximeters, and 124 scales.

Match Day 2022: DOM Announces Incoming Residents

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

On March 18, graduating medical students celebrated Match Day, when they found out where they will hold their residency. The University of Rochester celebrated in-person for the first time in two years. Some UR students will continue their education here at URMC, and URMC will also see incoming residents from other great institutions.

The department of Medicine hosts two residency programs: Internal Medicine and Medicine/Pediatrics.

The Internal Medicine Residency Program is directed by Alec O’Connor, M.D., M.P.H., and has accepted 38 incoming residents, eight of whom are from UR. They fall under five groups:

Categorical Internal Medicine: 21 (5 of whom are from UR)

  • Troy Anlage – Drexel University
  • Louis Arens – SUNY Upstate
  • Kristen Clements – Penn State
  • Meghan DioGuardi – University at Buffalo
  • Joseph Glick – SUNY Upstate
  • Aneliya Hanineva – University at Buffalo
  • Emma Hassell – Hackensack Meridian
  • Anan Kazi – SUNY Downstate
  • Filip Koritysskiy – University of Rochester
  • Jean Lafontant – Tulane University
  • Kelsey LaPiano – University at Buffalo
  • Lauren Lewis – University at Buffalo
  • Seif Nasir – University of Nebraska
  • Rohith Palli – University of Rochester
  • Nataliia Paone – University at Buffalo
  • Nina Rizk – University of Rochester
  • Casey Robinson – University of Rochester
  • Xingyi Shi – St Louis University
  • Michael Tiongson – Albany Medical College
  • Rachael Turner – Albany Medical College
  • Anne Zhang – University of Rochester

Primary Care: 3

  • Neesha Desai – SUNY Upstate
  • Christina Moore – University at Buffalo
  • Jade Willey – East Tennessee State University

Research Pathway: 3

  • Maya Shumyatcher – University of Toledo
  • Tony Sun – Weill Cornell
  • Keyan Zarei – University of Iowa

Preliminary Medicine: 3 (2 of whom are from UR)

  • Gayin Lee – University of Rochester
  • Gregory Matos – University of Rochester
  • Russell Melero Johnston – Hackensack Meridian

Neurology Preliminary: 8 (1 of whom are from UR)

  • Bruce Aidukaitis – Eastern Virginia
  • Kyra Curtis – University of Texas, Galveston
  • Tiffany Duong – University of Virginia
  • Anna Gershteyn – University of Rochester
  • Allen Hoste – SUNY Upstate
  • Alexandra Kuhajda – Geisinger Commonwealth
  • Joseph Logosh – University of Texas, San Antonio
  • Namita Patel – Virginia Commonwealth

The Medicine/Pediatrics Residency Program is directed by Brett Robbins, M.D., and accepted eight incoming residents, an entirely female class, all who graduated from other institutions.

  • Joanna Abaraoha – CUNY
  • Charlotte Blumrosen – Case Western
  • Shelsie Lindor – Ohio State
  • Bethany Marbaker – SUNY Upstate
  • Irene Martinez – Rutgers New Jersey Medical School
  • Ndidiamaka Okorozo – Drexel University
  • Jaimie Rogner – SUNY Upstate
  • Nkemdirim Ukoha – Saint James School of Medicine Anguilla

Suzanne Gillespie Named President of AMDA Society PALTC

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Suzanne Gillespie, M.D., an associate professor of Medicine from the division of Geriatrics & Aging, has been named president of AMDA - The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care (PALTC). She officially began this new role during the society’s annual scientific conference in Baltimore.

Gillespie was inspired to follow a career in geriatrics by the vastly different aging experiences of her grandparents. One grandmother aged in place with long-term care supports in the comfort of her own home. Her other grandmother needed to live in a nursing facility after a fall that injured her, and she experienced functional challenges toward the end of her life. Gillespie became interested in quality of care and life in post-acute and long-term care settings, the foundation of her entire career. After earning her M.D. at the University of Virginia, she came to URMC for her residency in Internal Medicine, and her fellowship in Geriatric Medicine.

AMDA PALTC is the only medical specialty society that represents medical directors, physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and other practitioners who work in post-acute and long-term care settings. Gillespie joined the society in 2005, the same year she earned the AMDA Foundation Futures award. She has already served the society in many capacities: as chair of House Delegates, chair of the Annual Meeting Program Planning Committee, chair of the Public Policy Steering Committee, a member of the Finance Committee, and chair of the Society’s Workgroup on Telemedicine and Technology.

As president, she will chair the Society’s Board of Directors and work to advance their mission, which promotes the development of competent, compassionate, and committed medical practitioners and leaders in the field. “As president of AMDA,” Gillespie said, “I am afforded the privilege of working with incredibly intelligent and compassionate leaders from across the nation who dedicate their time to caring for the most vulnerable members of our society. They inspire me, and together our work makes a real difference in people's lives. Professionally, I can't think of anything else more exciting. It is really a gift.”

“Dr. Gillespie is a visionary leader,” said Annette Medina-Walpole, M.D., division chief of Geriatrics & Aging, “whose career accomplishments in patient care, teaching, scholarship, and administration are exemplary. She takes the helm as president of AMDA at a critically important time. The COVID-19 pandemic provided unprecedented opportunities for crisis management and leadership at both a local and national level. Dr. Gillespie rose to this challenge and continues to exhibit extraordinary commitment and leadership. In this very influential role, she will advocate for health care providers in the post-acute and long-term care setting, impact national change, and improve the care of the older adults we serve in these settings.”

Read the AMDA press release.

Update, 4/6/2022: Read this Q&A interview with Gillespie about how COVID-19 solidified the increasing role medical directors play in the nation's nursing home.

Thu Le Named Vice-Chair of AHA Council on the Kidney in Cardiovascular Disease

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Thu Le, M.D., division chief of Nephrology, has been elected to serve as vice-chair for the American Heart Association’s Council on the Kidney in Cardiovascular Disease (KCVD). Her term will begin in July 2022, and will continue for two years. After that term ends, she will assume the role of chair for two years.

Le previously served as an advocacy ambassador for the council from 2010 to 2013. Leadership of the council nominated her for the vice-chair position based on her accomplishments and background in both research and clinical care. In this new role, Le will work with the chair to steer the council, enact new initiatives, and work toward fulfilling the council’s mission of promoting excellence in research, communication, advocacy, and education in the field of kidney disease.

“I am thrilled and honored to be chosen for this leadership position at the national level,” said Le. “In this capacity, I hope to be able to increase awareness of the important role of the kidney in cardiovascular health and disease, funding support for research in kidney-related cardiovascular disease, and the council’s membership and active participation and engagement of its members to improve the lives of patients suffering from kidney disease and its related cardiovascular consequences.”

Dr. Anandarajah Awarded Grant to Reduce Racial Disparities in Clinical Trials

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Allen Anandarajah, M.B.B.S., has been awarded a grant from the American College of Rheumatology (ACR), funded through the US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health. Funding will go towards developing initiatives that will reduce racial disparities in lupus clinical trials. The grant is titled TIMELY, which stands for Training to Increase Minority Enrollment in Lupus trials with communitY engagement. TIMELY is a two-year grant for $500,000, which will be split between URMC and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, both universities leading the efforts on this initiative. The grant will run through September 2023.

Anandarajah and URMC were chosen as leaders for this new program due to the success of a previous two-year program, Materials to Increase Minority Involvement in Clinical Trials (MIMICT).

In the US, lupus is more common in African American and Hispanic populations, however, patients from these populations are currently underrepresented in lupus clinical trials. The goal of the project is to increase clinical trial literacy for physicians and community health workers on phases, functions, and benefits, through educational materials woven throughout a multi-stage, interactive training program. This will lead to raising clinical trial awareness among underrepresented patients living with lupus in our region.

“This project will help us continue to be national leaders in providing high-quality care for patients from minority communities with lupus,” said Anandarajah. “We started a few years ago with the IQ-LUPUS project that was partly funded by the Greater Rochester Health Foundation (GRHF) and have continued to improve our efforts first with the MIMICT and now the TIMELY projects. In addition to serving our patients, these grants will ultimately help build better relationships with our community."

Read the press release from the ACR.

Hima Vidula Wins Grant to Develop Program Addressing Microaggressions

Monday, February 28, 2022

Hima Vidula, M.D., M.S., is an associate professor of Cardiology, and currently serves as the president of the New York State Chapter of the American College of Cardiology (ACC). Vidula has recently won funding from the ACC to develop a program that will train women and early-career cardiologists to recognize workplace hostility, develop effective strategies to navigate challenging situations, and become ambassadors and allies for others.

Interest in developing such a program was born from research the ACC conducted, which demonstrated that hostile work environments can be prevalent in Cardiology, where women and early-career faculty are more likely to experience microaggressions, bias, or discrimination. Vidula and other team members from the ACC have been awarded $13,000 in funding to develop the program, titled Microaggressions, Bias, and Toxicity: Navigating Difficult Interactions in Cardiology, which is a collaboration between the New York and Pennsylvania ACC chapters.

Her goal is to create an interactive program that will equip participants with the skills to navigate difficult conversations and scenarios in the workplace. The program will include four 90-minute workshops, each including a 30-minute lecture from a professional coach, followed by a 60-minute open discussion, that may include role-playing scenarios.

Planning and development are underway, and Vidula aims to launch the program this summer.

Members of the Department of Medicine Earn RBJ Health Care Hero Awards

Monday, February 28, 2022

The Rochester Business Journal has recently announced the full list of winners for the 2022 Health Care Hero Awards. Four of the honorees are faculty members of the department of medicine. Congratulations to our colleagues on these well-deserved recognitions!

Winner: Greg Rosinski, RPA-C, from Primary Care
Category: Advanced Practice Provider
This award honors physician assistants whose impeccable performance goes above and beyond in the workplace. Factors to be judged include patient satisfaction and evidence of performance effectiveness, including testimonials from superiors, peers and patients.

Winner: Irene Perillo, M.D., from Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine
Category: COVID-19 Heroes
This award honors individuals making impacts during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Winner: Bilal Ahmed, M.B.B.S., from Internal Medicine at Highland Hospital
Category: Physician
This award honors a physician whose job performance is considered exemplary by patients and peers. Factors to be judged include evidence of positive outcomes, patient satisfaction and testimonials from peers and administrators.

Winner: Annie Medina-Walpole, M.D., division chief of Geriatrics & Aging and director of the University of Rochester Aging Institute
Category: Senior Care

This award honors an individual for exceptional care to the elderly. Factors to be judged include evidence of performance effectiveness as well as testimonials from peers and administrators.

The RBJ will host a celebratory event for all honorees on March 24.

Department Creates New Leadership Role: Advanced Practice Provider Manager

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Each of the department’s 14 divisions has a large number of advanced practice providers (APPs) who play an integral role in patient care. Most divisions have an APP lead who oversees quality of care and productivity of APPs in their division and is responsible for performance evaluations, orientations for new hires, and other aspects of clinical practice.

The department recently created a new leadership role to oversee the DOM APP leads, serve as a liaison between divisions, and represent DOM APPs as a whole. Sarah Enslin, PA, has been named APP Manager for the DOM effective February 1, 2022. Enslin joined the University of Rochester in 2007 in the Solid Organ Transplant division. She has been working in the division of Gastroenterology & Hepatology since 2011 and became co-lead APP for the GI division in 2018. She serves on several GI society committees at the national level and is co-director for national courses at the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy. She has several peer-reviewed publications to her credit and is a sought-after speaker nationally.

In her new role, Enslin will work with department leadership to represent APP’s and collaborate on recruitment, onboarding, and retention efforts. She will also focus on ensuring compliance with regulatory procedures. She will work with both department leadership and the group of lead APP’s to help support the APP group through more academic activity, professional development opportunities, and diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. 

"I am excited and honored to assume this role,” said Enslin, “especially in such challenging times. With the support of departmental and institutional leadership, I hope to help elevate, enhance, and strengthen the role of our APPs not only in clinical practice, but also on the academic and professional development fronts. The University of Rochester is uniquely positioned to adopt and implement several of the innovative and progressive national paradigms currently in play for APPs, and I am privileged to contribute to this evolutionary process."

Wilmot Cancer Institute Has Good Year of Clinical Trials Despite Pandemic

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Enrolling patients in research studies is always a challenge, and the COVID pandemic brought new hurdles to recruiting clinical trial participants. While many cancer centers saw a decline in enrollment due to the pandemic, Wilmot Clinical Trials continued to treat a large number of individuals.

The entire division of Hematology & Oncology contributed to the success of clinical trials last year through teamwork and collaboration, keeping the impact of COVID at bay for their patients. Aram Hezel, M.D., division chief, says this is “an achievement the whole group can be proud of.”

Hezel makes it a point that for every patient, they look for a trial that fits their unique health situation. There are more than one hundred types of cancer, each with different stages, and so there are over 200 clinical trials open at Wilmot at any given time. Patient education is the key to enrolling participants: ensuring that the patient and their family know about available trials and understand the risk versus benefits. Approximately half of patients decide to enroll in a trial after speaking with their physician.

“Clinical trials are very positive for patients,” said Hezel, “because it offers them treatment options they might not otherwise have access to. Sometimes a trial will lead to the FDA approval of a new therapy. Trials are also positive for us as physicians, because there’s an exciting aspect of exploration, the freshness of trying something new, knowing that it could lead to finding better treatment options for our patients.”

The latest issue of Dialogue magazine offers a deeper dive in the article “Clinical Trials Office Steps Up Its Game.” Learn how the CTO has been instrumental in preparing for National Cancer Institute designation, and how it has been transforming processes while still providing care.  

Anderson Laboratory Awarded Research Funding for Trans-Splicing Technology

Thursday, January 6, 2022

The Anderson Lab has been awarded over $850,000 in research funding through Scriptr Global Inc. Douglas Anderson, Ph.D., assistant professor of Medicine, Aab Cardiovascular Research Institute, is the principal investigator. The funding will be provided through October 2023.

The funding will go towards developing a novel RNA trans-splicing technology, called StitchR, into a therapeutic approach for treating Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) and other dystrophinopathies. StitchR, which stands for ‘Stitch RNA’, arose from the team’s serendipitous discovery that when two independent RNAs are cleaved by ribozymes (small self-cleaving RNAs), the resulting RNAs become trans-spliced, or ‘stitched’ together. Remarkably, if two halves of a protein-coding mRNA are used, the subsequent ‘stitched’ mRNA will be translated and express the full-length protein in cells. For this sponsored research agreement, Anderson’s group is using StitchR to develop a dual AAV-based gene therapy to deliver and express a large functional copy of the Dystrophin gene, which is normally too large to be encoded within the packaging limits of a single AAV vector. This project brings together their background in RNA and muscle biology, with the ultimate goal of making a positive impact for patients suffering with dystrophinopathies.

This work will also help validate the potential for StitchR-enabled AAV gene therapies to be utilized for other human diseases which occur from mutations in very large genes, such as hemophilia A, cystic fibrosis, dyferlinopathies, macular degeneration, and others.

Disclosures: The StitchR technology has been licensed from the University of Rochester to Scriptr Global, Inc., for which Douglas M. Anderson, Ph.D. is Chief Scientific Officer and Co-Founder.