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Xiangya Hospital Partners with UPMC to Create World-Class Medical Center in China

PITTSBURGH, Aug. 25, 2014 Xiangya Hospital, Central South University, located in the Hunan Province of China, is partnering with UPMC to establish an international medical center that will improve access to high-quality care for patients within the region. Through this visionary relationship, Xiangya and UPMC expect to engage in a long-term collaboration.

As part of a five-year advisory services agreement with the 3,500-bed Chinese hospital, UPMC will help it to establish the Xiangya International Medical Center on the existing Changsha campus. The facility will offer world-class care to private-pay patients under a government-endorsed effort to relieve overcrowding in public hospitals by cooperating with private facilities. UPMC will serve as the exclusive advisor on the management of the International Medical Center and will participate in both medical and administrative oversight of all services.

“As one of the most respected medical centers in China, Xiangya Hospital is well positioned to expand its services and its reach throughout Asia. By partnering with one of the largest academic health care systems in the U.S. — and one that brings a wealth of international experience — we believe that the new Xiangya International Medical Center will quickly become a leader in providing the highest-quality medical care available in China,” said Sun Hong, M.D., Ph.D., president of Xiangya Hospital.

UPMC’s services will include training for medical and administrative staff both in China and in Pittsburgh, sharing of enhanced quality assurance and safety processes, recommendations on technology, equipment and staffing plans, and telemedicine links to UPMC’s clinical programs in Pittsburgh and Italy. A small number of UPMC staff also will be located at the hospital for consultative work.

“This clinical collaboration in China is UPMC’s most extensive effort yet in that country,” said Charles Bogosta, president of UPMC’s International and Commercial Services Division. “This effort will ensure that more patients receive the most advanced medical care close to home. At the same time, the financial and intellectual capital generated by this partnership will allow UPMC to advance its clinical and research missions in western Pennsylvania and beyond.”

UPMC’s informal relationship with Xiangya dates back nearly a decade, with physicians from both institutions and the University of Pittsburgh collaborating on patient care and research. “Xiangya has a long history of innovation in medical care and a reputation for advanced clinical programs, including organ transplantation,” noted Bruno Gridelli, M.D., medical and scientific director of UPMC’s International and Commercial Services Division. “We are excited about the potential to exchange knowledge and expertise with one of China’s best hospitals and to lay the groundwork for even greater collaboration in the future. Together, we are building a model for expanding access and raising the quality of health care throughout China.”

Established in 1906, the Xiangya Hospital is affiliated with the prestigious Central South University in Changsha, the capital of central China’s Hunan province. With more than 80 clinical departments, the hospital serves more than 100,000 inpatients and more than 2.1 million outpatients annually.

UPMC announced its first medical services agreement in China in 2011 with the provision of second-opinion pathology consultations to KingMed Diagnostics, the largest independent medical diagnostic laboratory in China. UPMC also has operations or offers services in Italy, Ireland, India, Canada, Singapore, Japan and Kazakhstan. Through its international growth and commercialization efforts with industry partners, UPMC is diversifying its revenue, fueling economic development in its communities, and strengthening its ability to recruit and retain the best and brightest clinicians who are working together to improve health care outcomes globally.

Children’s Physician Receives PCORI Funding for Study on Early Rehabilitation in Pediatric Patients with Acute Brain Injury

PITTSBURGH, August 19, 2014 – Led by a Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC physician, a multidisciplinary research project to improve outcomes for children with acute brain injury was recently approved for a $1.9 million funding award by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI).

The study, “Early Rehabilitation Protocol (ERP) in the Pediatric ICU for Children with Acute Brain Injury (ABI),” led by Ericka Fink, MD, of the Department of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine, will perform a needs assessment to further characterize the current practices, barriers to care, and resources for physical, occupational, speech, and behavioral assessment and therapies needed for ERP implementation in pediatric intensive care units (ICUs). It will also evaluate ERP versus usual care to improve outcomes for children admitted to the ICU with ABI.

The two-center, randomized, controlled trial and resource survey is one of 33 proposals PCORI approved for funding to advance the field of patient-centered comparative effectiveness research and provide patients, health care providers, and other clinical decision makers with information that will help them make better-informed choices.

Dr. Fink and Craig Smith, MD, a former pediatric ICU fellow at Children’s and the principal investigator at Lurie Children’s Hospital, expect that participating sites will perceive an inadequate use of rehabilitation in pediatric ICU patients with ABI and predict that children with ABI will benefit from early ICU rehabilitation rather than usual care.

Pitt Analysis Questions Use of Acute Hemodialysis Treatment

PITTSBURGH, Aug. 20, 2014 – A common approach to treating kidney failure by removing waste products from the blood did not improve survival chances for people who suddenly developed the condition, in an analysis led by experts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

Their findings, published online in the journal PLOS One, suggest acute hemodialysis, an aggressive method that is standardly used for people with sudden kidney failure, may not provide a definitive benefit to the patient.

“Our findings question the accepted notion that acute hemodialysis decreases mortality,” said Amber Barnato, M.D., senior author of the study and associate professor of clinical and translational science at the Pitt School of Medicine. Dr. Barnato acknowledges that the study is far from conclusive because it lacks detailed clinical data. “It is impossible to draw conclusions based on an observational study, but I do wonder whether it is time to do a clinical trial on the timing and delivery of acute hemodialysis in the context of acute renal failure and critical illness.”

Dr. Barnato and her team examined records for 2,131,248 patients admitted to Pennsylvania hospitals between October 2005 and December 2007. Some of the patients had varying degrees of kidney failure without end-stage renal disease; 6,657 of those patients had received acute hemodialysis. At one year, patients who received acute hemodialysis had nearly twice the risk of death as similarly ill patients who did not receive acute hemodialysis.

“The most striking finding is the increased mortality risk for patients who received acute hemodialysis, even after risk adjustment which limited the sample to the sickest patients,” said lead author Sarah Ramer, M.D., now of Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, who performed much of the research while a Clinical Scientist Training Program medical student at Pitt. “We know that there is variation in how doctors decide if and when to dialyze a hopspitalized patient. If patients given acute hemodialysis are not carefully chosen, some patients might end up not being helped by the treatment.”

Additional authors on the study are Elan D. Cohen, M.S., and Chung-Chou H. Chang, Ph.D., both of the University of Pittsburgh; and Mark L. Unruh, M.D., now of the University of New Mexico School of Medicine.

Funding for this research was provided by a Doris Duke Clinical Research Fellowship and National Institutes of Health grant R01AG035112.

Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC Launches First-of-its-Kind Recovery Center for Pregnant Women with Substance Use Challenges

PITTSBURGH, Aug. 20, 2014 – Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC, in collaboration with four local insurance companies and the Allegheny County Office of Behavioral Health, has launched a comprehensive Pregnancy Recovery Center to provide concurrent treatment for opiate dependence and prenatal care and delivery. The program is one of the first in the country.

The program, created in conjunction with four managed care organizations (Community Care Behavioral Health Organization, UPMC for You, Gateway Health, and United Healthcare for Families and Communities) and Allegheny County, provides pregnant women who struggle with an opiate dependence the opportunity to begin treatment with buprenorphine on an out-patient basis that is integrated with their obstetric services. Like methadone, buprenorphine is a drug used to treat opioid addiction. In addition to the buprenorphine, patients will receive behavioral counseling and clinic visits as well as routine prenatal care. Patients also will meet with social workers and midwives.

“This effort is an excellent example of ways in which payers and providers can come together to develop an innovative initiative that will improve outcomes for pregnant women and their children. We are pleased to have had the opportunity to collaborate with our colleagues,” said John Lovelace, president of UPMC for You.

“For over a decade, Magee has offered drug recovery assistance for pregnant women,” said Dennis H. English, M.D., vice-president of Medical Affairs at Magee. “The key difference between this program and our more traditional methadone program is the Pregnancy Recovery Center operates from the outset on an outpatient basis. The pregnancy recovery center also will provide consistent, collaborative care throughout the patient’s pregnancy.”

According to Dr. English, pregnancy can enhance a woman’s chances at recovering from opiate addiction. The instinct to care for a newborn baby can be a powerful motivating factor for some women.

James Schuster, M.D., M.B.A., chief medical officer of Community Care, notes that, “A key goal of treatment for substance abuse is to help individuals stay engaged in care for at least 90 days. This program is a well-designed effort to support pregnant women in ongoing treatment.”

“Treating pregnant patients with buprenorphine is a relatively new practice,” said Michael Madden, M.D., chief medical officer of Gateway Health. “Early research suggests babies born to mothers taking it instead of undergoing methadone treatment recover more quickly after birth. Recovering from an opiate dependency is a difficult process. We hope this approach will make it easier for our pregnant patients to recover from their dependencies and start their parenting journey confidently and in good health.”

The Pregnancy Recovery Center’s goal is to offer comprehensive care for women suffering from opiate addiction by providing medical support to prevent withdrawal during pregnancy, minimizing fetal exposure to illicit substances and engaging the mother as a leader in her recovery. Women interested in learning more about the program should call 412-641-1211.

Childhood Disability Rates Highest Recorded, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC Finds

PITTSBURGH, Aug. 18, 2014 – The percentage of children with disabilities due to neurodevelopmental or mental health conditions continues to rise, particularly among children in more socially advantaged households, according to a Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC analysis that appears in the September issue of Pediatrics.

Results of the study, led by Amy Houtrow, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., chief, Division of Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine at Children’s Hospital, found that while there has been a decline in physical health-related disabilities by approximately 12 percent, there was a large, nearly 21 percent rise in disabilities classified as neurodevelopmental or mental health in nature.

The researchers studied data from the National Health Interview Survey conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention between 2001 and 2011, evaluating each child’s ability to perform activities at home and school.

Although children living in poverty have the highest rates of disability, children living in families at or above 400 percent of the federal poverty level reported a 28.4 percent increase in disabilities over the past 10-year period.

Dr. Houtrow and the researchers offered four reasons that may explain the increased rates of disability related to neurodevelopmental or mental health conditions:

  • shifts in diagnostic criteria
  • overall increases in rates of certain problems including autism
  • increased awareness of these conditions
  • the need for a specific diagnosis to receive services such as early intervention

“This study demonstrates what a lot of pediatricians have been noticing for several years – that they are seeing more neurodevelopmental and mental health problems in their clinical practices,” said Dr. Houtrow, who also is an associate professor of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and Pediatrics and vice chair in the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine’s Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. “As we look toward the future, the pediatric health care workforce and system needs to adapt to assure the best possible health and functional outcomes for children with disabilities related to neurodevelopmental and mental health conditions.”

The authors concluded that documenting the changes in childhood disabilities is an important step in developing better prevention and treatment strategies and in determining how to create and deliver services to best meet the needs of all children.

Co-investigators were: Kandyce Larson, Ph.D., and Lynn M. Olson, Ph.D., American Academy of Pediatrics; Paul Newacheck, Dr.P.H., University of California San Francisco; and Neal Halfon M.D., M.P.H., University of California Los Angles.

The research was funded by grants K12H133B031102 and T76MC000141900 from the National Institutes of Health and Department of Health and Human Services.

For more information on Dr. Houtrow and the Division of Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine, visit http://www.chp.edu/rehab.

Older Adults with Depression and Mild Cognitive Impairment are More Vulnerable to Accelerated Brain Aging, Pitt Study Says

PITTSBURGH, Aug. 7, 2014 – People who develop depression and mild cognitive impairment (MCI) after age 65 are more likely to have biological and brain imaging markers that reflect a greater vulnerability for accelerated brain aging, according to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. The findings were published online in Molecular Psychiatry.

Older adults with major depression have double the risk of developing dementia in the future compared with those who have never had the mood disorder, said senior investigator Meryl A. Butters, Ph.D., associate professor of psychiatry, Pitt School of Medicine. But there’s no clear explanation for why a treatable mood disorder like depression leads to increased risk for dementia, a progressive brain disease. Until now, most studies have examined only one or two biomarkers to get at this question.

“Our study represents a significant advance because it provides a more comprehensive and integrated view of the neurobiological changes related to mild cognitive impairment in late-life,” she said. “Better understanding of the neurobiology of cognitive impairment in depression can provide new targets for developing more specific treatments, not only for its prevention and treatment, but also for its down-stream negative outcomes, including the development of dementia and related disorders.”

The team collected blood samples from 80 older adults in remission after being treated for major depression, 36 of whom had MCI and 44 with normal cognitive function. Their blood was tested for 242 proteins involved in biologic pathways associated with cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and metabolic disorders as well as psychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders. The researchers also performed PET and MRI brain scans on the participants to look for indicators of cerebrovascular disease, brain atrophy or shrinkage, and beta-amyloid, which is the protein that makes up the brain plaques associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

The MCI group was more likely to have differences in the biologic activity of 24 proteins that are involved in the regulation of immune and inflammatory pathways, intracellular signaling, cell survival, and protein and lipid balance.

Brain scans revealed a greater propensity for cerebrovascular disease – for example, small strokes – in the MCI group, but there was no difference in the amount of beta-amyloid deposition.

“If you take these results altogether, they suggest that people with depression and cognitive impairment may be more vulnerable to accelerated brain aging, which in turn puts them at risk for developing dementia,” Dr. Butters said. “Ultimately, if we can understand what happens in the brain when people are depressed and suffer cognitive impairment, we can then develop strategies to slow or perhaps stop the impairment from progressing to dementia.”

Next steps include assessing the protein panel in older people with normal cognitive function who have not experienced depression.

Co-authors of the study include Etienne Sibille, Ph.D., Ying Ding, Ph.D., George Tseng, Ph.D., Howard Aizenstein, M.D., Ph.D., Frances Lotrich, M.D., Ph.D., James T. Becker, Ph.D., Oscar L. Lopez, M.D., Michael T. Lotze, M.D., William E. Klunk, M.D., Ph.D., and Charles F. Reynolds, M.D., all of the University of Pittsburgh; and the first author is Breno S. Diniz, M.D., Ph.D., now of the Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil.

The project was funded by National Institutes of Health grants MH080240, MH90333 (ACISR for Late Life Depression Prevention and Treatment), AG05133 (Alzheimer Disease Research Center), MH09456; CA047904-22S1, CA160417, CA181450; the John A. Hartford Foundation Center of Excellence in Geriatric Psychiatry; and the Brazilian Intramural Research Program.

Screening and Drug Therapy Predicted to Make Hepatitis C a Rare Disease

PITTSBURGH, Aug. 4, 2014 – Newly implemented screening guidelines and improved, highly effective drug therapies could make hepatitis C a rare disease in the United States by 2036, according to the results of a predictive model developed at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.

The results of the analysis, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and performed with the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, are published in the Aug. 5 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

A “rare” disease is one that affects at most one in every 1,500 people. Approximately one in every 100 people in the U.S. currently has chronic hepatitis C, a viral infection that compromises liver function.

“Making hepatitis C a rare disease would be a tremendous, life-saving accomplishment,” said lead author Mina Kabiri, M.S., a doctoral student in Pitt Public Health’s Department of Health Policy and Management. “However, to do this, we will need improved access to care and increased treatment capacity, primarily in the form of primary care physicians who can manage the care of infected people identified through increased screening.”

In the U.S., hepatitis C is the leading cause of chronic liver disease and the leading reason for liver transplantation. At 15,100 deaths annually, hepatitis C surpassed the annual number of deaths from HIV in 2007. The economic burden associated with chronic infection is estimated at $6.5 billion a year.

“This is, indeed, a very interesting time for hepatitis C patients and providers,” said senior author Jagpreet Chhatwal, Ph.D., now of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, who performed most of the research while at Pitt Public Health. “Several changes have happened in the last two years, including screening policy updates and availability of highly effective therapies.”

In 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended that anyone born between 1945 and 1965 — encompassing about 81 percent of chronically infected people — receive a one-time screening for hepatitis C. Hepatitis C often is asymptomatic, meaning that infected people do not know they have it until it is detected through a blood screening.

In early 2014, hepatitis C drug regimens that could be taken orally were introduced to the market, allowing primary care physicians and infectious disease specialists to take on the role of treating hepatitis C patients. The drugs have been shown to be highly effective in making the virus almost undetectable in the blood of patients previously found positive for hepatitis C.

The research team created a highly detailed computer model of the natural history and progression of hepatitis C, both with and without treatment. The model predicts the number of hepatitis C infections in the U.S. at any given time from 2001 to 2050, under multiple potential scenarios describing future treatment, while taking into consideration infection status awareness, stage of disease, treatment history and continued drug development, based on data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and published clinical studies.

To validate the prediction, the researchers ran the model for the years 2003 to 2010 and predicted 2.7 million cases of hepatitis C, which equaled the actual number of cases reported by NHANES.

The research team then considered what would happen if the guidelines were increased to include a one-time universal screening for hepatitis C among all U.S. citizens, not just baby boomers.

“In that scenario, nearly 1 million cases of hepatitis C would be identified in the next 10 years,” said Ms. Kabiri. “And that translates into making hepatitis C a rare disease by 2026, a decade earlier than we’d predicted with the current screening guidelines.”

The researchers note that such a measure would bring increased costs. The oral therapy regimen costs as much as $1,000 per day.

The model estimated that universal screening coupled with the new drug therapies would reduce liver-related deaths by 161,500 and liver transplants by 13,900 from 2014 to 2050.

“Though impactful, the new screening guidelines do not identity the large number of hepatitis C patients who would progress to advanced disease stages without treatment and could die,” said Dr. Chhatwal. “More aggressive screening recommendations are essential in further reducing the burden, preventing liver-related deaths and eventually eradicating hepatitis C.”

Future research will be needed to determine how the reduction in deaths and transplants offsets the increased costs of screening and drug therapy.

Additional researchers on this study are Alison B. Jazwinski, M.D.; Mark S. Roberts, M.D.; and Andrew J. Schaefer, Ph.D., all of Pitt.

This study was supported by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the NIH under award number KL2TR000146.

Community Pharmacist Intervention Boosts Drug Adherence, Reduces Health Care Costs, Pitt Study Says

PITTSBURGH, Aug. 4, 2014 – Community pharmacists can dramatically help their patients stick to their prescription regimens, according to a new study led by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy. The findings, reported today in Health Affairs, suggest also that greater adherence to medications can lead to a reduction in emergency room visits and hospital admissions, thereby lowering health care costs for a variety of chronic conditions including diabetes and asthma.

About 70 percent of all Medicare patients get their prescriptions filled at neighborhood drug stores, but pharmacists can do more for patients than just prepare medications, said lead investigator Janice Pringle, Ph.D., associate professor and director of the Program Evaluation and Research Unit (PERU) at Pitt’s School of Pharmacy. She noted their training, knowledge and community accessibility perhaps makes them the ideal health professionals to help people learn how and why to take their medications.

“This untapped resource could be harnessed and used to improve public health and reduce overall health care costs,” Dr. Pringle noted. “If people took their medications as prescribed, diabetes would not evolve and worsen, blood pressure would normalize, cholesterol would be reduced dramatically, and the risk for severe health problems, such as heart attack or stroke, would be reduced. Patients would live longer and probably enjoy a higher quality of life.”

For the study, dubbed the Pennsylvania Project, 283 community pharmacists were trained at short workshops by PERU staff to ask customers a few quick questions about medication adherence using established survey tools. They also were taught to have a brief dialog with patients whose screening scores indicated they were at risk of not taking their medications as prescribed by their doctors. The conversation might include questions and reassurances about side effects or to request that the patient talk to the pharmacist after taking the medication for a little while to report how they were feeling.

During 2011, 29,042 people had prescriptions filled at 107 Rite Aid pharmacies that implemented the screening and brief intervention approach (SBI) and 30,454 people who went to 111 “control” pharmacies that didn’t use SBI.

The research team then reviewed insurance claims data to evaluate medication adherence with a measure called “Proportion of Days Covered” or PDC. A PDC of 80 percent, meaning the medication was taken for at least 80 percent of expected period, is considered to be the minimal medication dose needed to achieve the desired clinical outcome. PDC80 values were calculated for both the intervention year and for 2010, the year prior to SBI implementation.

For the five classes of common medications the researchers reviewed, PDC80 rates increased in the SBI group during the intervention compared to the control group, ranging from 3.1 percent for beta blockers to treat high blood pressure to 4.8 percent for oral diabetes drugs. About 75 percent of the net improvement was due to patients who were at high risk for poor medication adherence achieving the PDC80 benchmark after the intervention. Health care costs dropped by $341 annually per person for SBI patients taking oral diabetes drugs and by $241 for SBI patients taking statins to lower cholesterol.

“The cost savings demonstrated by the Pennsylvania Project should draw the attention of many payers to the value of leveraging pharmacists in the community where their members live to improve health and wellness and reduce overall health care costs,” said study co-author Jesse McCullough, Pharm.D., director of field clinical services at Rite Aid Corp. “This is another area where the value of the pharmacist to the health care system is demonstrated.”

“High quality medical care is a ‘team sport’ involving physicians and other providers, nurses, care managers, health plans and well trained pharmacists,” said Michael Madden, M.D., vice president and chief medical officer at Gateway Health Plan, which provided pharmacy claims data for the study. “Improving medication adherence rates improves quality, public health and saves money, and this study demonstrates the value pharmacists can add.”

“The Pennsylvania Project demonstrated that realizing untapped clinical performance value from a network of pharmacies is as much about the ability of a health plan to foster a supportive environment as it is about the ability of a pharmacy to execute an improvement effort,” said study co-author Mark Conklin, Pharm.D., vice president at Pharmacy Quality Solutions. “The relationship between the two entities, based on shared objectives and continuous learning, is the key ingredient.”

Each SBI pharmacy also received monthly PDC-measure feedback reports through CECity’s cloud-based performance management platform that allowed pharmacists to gauge their performance relative to peers and helped them identify their population of patients at risk for non-adherence.

“The Pennsylvania Project is a perfect example of how a continuous learning health system model can be developed and scaled to improve quality and decrease the cost of patient care,” said study co-author Annette Boyer, R.Ph., vice president of business development at CECity.

Arnie Aldridge, Ph.D., of RTI International, also was a co-author of the study.

The project was funded by Pharmacy Quality Alliance.

Ann E. Thompson, M.D., to Become Next Vice Dean of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

PITTSBURGH, Aug. 1, 2014 – Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs Ann E. Thompson, M.D., will become vice dean of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine on Oct. 1.

In this role, Dr. Thompson will serve as a senior deputy to Arthur S. Levine, M.D., Pitt’s senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and John and Gertrude Petersen Dean of the School of Medicine, in the management and advancement of the medical school.

“Dr. Thompson’s many achievements include building and maintaining successful clinical and academic programs with exceptional records for fellowship training and research productivity,” Dr. Levine said. “She has held leadership roles as a medical school administrator and in her clinical field of critical care medicine, and has consistently advocated for the recruitment and promotion of outstanding women at Pitt and in academic medicine as a whole.”

Dr. Thompson is professor and vice chair (professional development) of the Department of Critical Care Medicine and medical director for clinical resource management at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. She served as chief of pediatric critical care from 1981 to 2009 and was interim chair of the Department of Critical Care Medicine from 2006 to 2008. She is a past president of the Society of Critical Care Medicine — only the second woman to hold that position — and she is a senior editor of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine.

“I look forward to this new challenge and the chance to contribute to the continued growth and success of our premier medical school,” Dr. Thompson said. “Living up to the standards set by my predecessor, Dr. Steven Kanter, will be a major challenge, but the faculty, students and staff here are truly exceptional, and I am confident we will continue along the same world-class trajectory he helped so much to establish.”

Dr. Thompson received her bachelor of arts in biology from the University of Chicago in 1969 and her medical degree from Boston’s Tufts University School of Medicine in 1974. After completing her pediatric residency training at the Tufts New England Medical Center and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), she trained in anesthesiology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and did a fellowship in pediatric critical care and research at CHOP, which is where she held her first faculty position. In 2003, she received a master’s degree in health care policy and management from Carnegie Mellon University.

Dr. Thompson succeeds Steven L. Kanter, M.D., who will become dean of the medical school at the University of Missouri-Kansas City on Oct. 1.

“During his 12-year tenure as vice dean, Dr. Kanter has become an international expert in medical education and curriculum innovation, and has created a culture of collaborative learning and support for our medical students and faculty alike,” Dr. Levine said. “While we will miss him greatly, we are delighted that he has earned this wonderful opportunity to implement his well-honed leadership skills, experience and creativity as the dean of a medical school.”

Surgical, Other Advances Made at UPMC Improve Graft Survival of Intestinal, Multi-Visceral Transplant Patients

SAN FRANCISCO, July 30, 2014 – Innovations in surgical techniques, drugs and immunosuppression have improved survival after intestinal and multi-visceral transplants, according to a retrospective analysis of more than 500 surgeries done at UPMC over nearly 25 years.

The study was led by Goutham Kumar, M.D., a transplant surgery fellow at UPMC’s Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute. Dr. Kumar was recognized for his work with the Young Investigator Award by the 2014 World Transplant Congress and presented his findings at the group’s July 26 to 31 meeting in San Francisco.

“UPMC has led the way in the development of new surgical techniques and important research involving transplantation, and our analysis shows that our innovations have made a real difference to patients,” Dr. Kumar said.

The researchers examined 541 intestinal and multi-visceral transplants done at UPMC from 1990 to 2013. The total consisted of 228 pediatric transplants and 313 adult transplants; 252 were intestine-only transplants, 157 were liver-intestine, 89 were full multi-visceral, and 43 were modified multi-visceral. A majority of the pediatric patients suffered from gastroschisis, followed by volvulus and necrotizing entercolitis. The adult patients needed transplants because of thrombosis, Crohn’s disease or some kind of obstruction.

Researchers analyzed several outcomes and found that pre-conditioning with certain immunosuppressants, the time the graft is outside of the body, certain blood types and a disparity in the gender of donor and recipient were among the factors predicting graft survival.

Co-authors on the study are George Mazariegos, M.D., Guillerme Costa, M.D., Gaurav Gupta, M.D., Dolly Martin, Geoff Bond, M.D., Kyle Soltys, M.D., Rakesh Sindhi, M.D., Abhinav Humar, M.D., and Hiroshi Sogawa, M.D., all of either the Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC or UPMC.

In addition to Dr. Kumar, six other UPMC and University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences researchers were recognized this year with Young Investigator Awards by the World Transplant Congress. They and their presentations are:

Aravind Cherukuri, M.D., Ph.D.
“Transitional B Cell (TrB) T1/T2 Ratio is a Marker for Graft Dysfunction in Human Kidney Transplant Recipients (KTRs)”

Vinayak Rohan, M.D.
“Outcomes of Liver Transplantation for Unresectable Liver Malignancy in Children”

Qing Ding, Ph.D.
“TIM-1 Signaling is Required for Maintenance and Induction of Regulatory B Cells Through Apoptotic Cell Binding or TIM-1 Ligation”

Kanishka Mohib, Ph.D.
“TIM-4 Expression by C Cells Identifies an Inflammatory B Effector 1 Subset that Promotes Allograft Rejection and Inhibits Tumor Metastases”

Dalia Raich-Regue, Ph.D.
“Myeloid Dendritic Cell-Specific mTORC2 Deficiency Enhances Alloreactive Th1 and Th17 Cell Responses and Skin Graft Rejection”

Tripti Singh, M.D.
“B Cell Depletion of Naïve Recipients Enhances Graft Reactive T Cell Responses”

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