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Expert in Immune Responses in Stem Cell Transplantation Joins UPCI

PITTSBURGH, Dec. 17, 2014 – Warren Shlomchik, M.D., a leading expert in investigating the immunologic mechanisms underlying graft-versus-host-disease (GVHD), a common complication for some stem cell transplant patients, has been named director of stem cell transplantation and cell therapies for the University of Pittsburgh’s Division of Hematology-Oncology and University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI), a partner with UPMC CancerCenter, and UPCI’s scientific director of hematopoietic malignancies.

Dr. Shlomchik’s appointment is effective March 1, 2015. He will also serve as a professor of medicine and immunology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. He comes to Pittsburgh from Yale Cancer Center at the Yale University School of Medicine, where he had been on the senior faculty for 16 years.

“Warren’s work has been invaluable in helping researchers understand more about the mechanisms of GVHD. His main priorities here in Pittsburgh will be to continue to conduct innovative, ground-breaking lab-based science and to oversee the translation of that science into investigator-initiated clinical trials, which will be a huge advance for our transplant and hematopoietic malignancies clinical research program,” said Edward Chu, M.D., chief of the Division of Hematology/Oncology and deputy director of UPCI.

Dr. Shlomchik is a leading expert in GVHD, a well-established complication that can occur after a stem cell or bone marrow transplant in which the newly transplanted donor cells attack the transplant recipient’s body. At Pitt, Dr. Shlomchik will continue his research on GVHD mechanisms as well as work to develop novel immunologic-based and cell therapy approaches to circumvent and/or overcome the development of GVHD.

“We’ve been very fortunate at UPCI this year to add several renowned researchers to our ranks, including Dr. Shlomchik,” said Nancy E. Davidson, M.D., director of UPCI and UPMC CancerCenter. “The decision of these researchers to come here shows that we are serious about the work we are doing to unravel the mysteries of cancer and take those findings directly to our patients.”

Dr. Shlomchik earned his bachelor of arts at Harvard University and his medical degree at the University of Pennsylvania. He completed his residency in internal medicine at New York Hospital/Cornell Medical Center and was a fellow at the University of Pennsylvania in hematology-oncology.

Pitt Team Publishes New Findings from Mind-Controlled Robot Arm Project

PITTSBURGH, Dec. 16, 2014 – In another demonstration that brain-computer interface technology has the potential to improve the function and quality of life of those unable to use their own arms, a woman with quadriplegia shaped the almost human hand of a robot arm with just her thoughts to pick up big and small boxes, a ball, an oddly shaped rock, and fat and skinny tubes.

The findings by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, published online today in the Journal of Neural Engineering, describe, for the first time, 10-degree brain control of a prosthetic device in which the trial participant used the arm and hand to reach, grasp, and place a variety of objects.

“Our project has shown that we can interpret signals from neurons with a simple computer algorithm to generate sophisticated, fluid movements that allow the user to interact with the environment,” said senior investigator Jennifer Collinger, Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R), Pitt School of Medicine, and research scientist for the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System.

In February 2012, small electrode grids with 96 tiny contact points each were surgically implanted in the regions of trial participant Jan Scheuermann’s brain that would normally control her right arm and hand movement.

Each electrode point picked up signals from an individual neuron, which were then relayed to a computer to identify the firing patterns associated with particular observed or imagined movements, such as raising or lowering the arm, or turning the wrist. That “mind-reading” was used to direct the movements of a prosthetic arm developed by Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory.

Within a week of the surgery, Ms. Scheuermann could reach in and out, left and right, and up and down with the arm to achieve 3D control, and before three months had passed, she also could flex the wrist back and forth, move it from side to side and rotate it clockwise and counter-clockwise, as well as grip objects, adding up to 7D control. Those findings were published in The Lancet in 2012.

“In the next part of the study, described in this new paper, Jan mastered 10D control, allowing her to move the robot hand into different positions while also controlling the arm and wrist,” said Michael Boninger, M.D., professor and chair, PM&R, and director of the UPMC Rehabilitation Institute.

To bring the total of arm and hand movements to 10, the simple pincer grip was replaced by four hand shapes: finger abduction, in which the fingers are spread out; scoop, in which the last fingers curl in; thumb opposition, in which the thumb moves outward from the palm; and a pinch of the thumb, index and middle fingers. As before, Ms. Scheuermann watched animations of and imagined the movements while the team recorded the signals her brain was sending in a process called calibration. Then, they used what they had learned to read her thoughts so she could move the hand into the various positions.

“Jan used the robot arm to grasp more easily when objects had been displayed during the preceding calibration, which was interesting,” said co-investigator Andrew Schwartz, Ph.D., professor of Neurobiology, Pitt School of Medicine. “Overall, our results indicate that highly coordinated, natural movement can be restored to people whose arms and hands are paralyzed.”

After surgery in October to remove the electrode arrays, Ms. Scheuermann concluded her participation in the study.

“This is been a fantastic, thrilling, wild ride, and I am so glad I’ve done this,” she said. “This study has enriched my life, given me new friends and coworkers, helped me contribute to research and taken my breath away. For the rest of my life, I will thank God every day for getting to be part of this team.”

The team included John E. Downey, BS, Elizabeth Tyler-Kabara, M.D., Ph.D., and Michael Boninger, M.D., all of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine; and lead author Brian Wodlinger, Ph.D., now of Imagistx, Inc. The project was funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the UPMC Rehabilitation Institute.

Health Care Gaps Narrow as More Patients of All Races Receive Recommended Treatment, Study Finds

PITTSBURGH, Dec. 11, 2014 – Racial and ethnic disparities in the quality of U.S. hospital care for patients with heart attack, heart failure and pneumonia shrank considerably between 2005 and 2010, as more patients of all races received recommended treatments, according to a national analysis by several institutions, including the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that care for blacks and Hispanics became better and more equitable when comparing hospitals principally serving whites to hospitals principally serving minorities and when comparing changes in care over time within the same hospitals. The work was supported by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

“It is heartening that we found higher quality of care overall and large reductions in racial and ethnic disparities in health care for patients with these common conditions,” said senior author Michael Fine, M.D., M.Sc., professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and staff physician at the Veterans Affairs Pittsburgh Healthcare System. “However, it is critically important to demonstrate that these improvements in care are accompanied by better patient outcomes. Further studies are needed to investigate if racial and ethnic disparities in mortality have also decreased over time.”

Dr. Fine also directs the Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion (CHERP) at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, which is focused on detecting, understanding and reducing disparities in health and health care in vulnerable populations.

Dr. Fine and his co-investigators looked at more than 12 million acute care hospitalizations over the five-year span and found that, as quality of care improved and hospitals did a better job providing and performing recommended treatments and procedures, so did racial and ethnic equity. Nine major disparities evident in 2005 had mostly or totally disappeared by the end of 2010.

“This is happening because hospitals that disproportionately serve minority patients improved faster, and it’s also the case that individual hospitals are delivering more equal care to white and minority patients over time,” said lead author Amal Trivedi, M.D., M.P.H., an associate professor in Brown University’s School of Public Health and a hospitalist at the Providence Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

Widespread evidence remains for racial, ethnic and socioeconomic disparities in medicine, Dr. Trivedi acknowledged, noting that the results of his team’s analysis, while very positive, address only a narrow spectrum of care delivery. But they suggest that when hospitals strive to improve quality, they can improve equity.

Using data publicly reported to CMS through the Inpatient Quality Reporting Program, the team looked at the performance rates by race and ethnicity for 17 procedures that are recommended to improve patient outcomes, such as giving an aspirin to heart attack patients, a flu vaccination to pneumonia patients or clearing a blood clot in an artery of heart attack patients within 90 minutes.

The overall range of improvements was between 3.4 and 58.3 percentage points. At the beginning of 2005, there were nine metrics – three among blacks and six among Hispanics – for which there were white vs. minority gaps greater than five percentage points. By 2010 all the gaps had narrowed significantly. Gaps between blacks and whites tightened by 8.5 to 11.8 percentage points. Disparities between whites and Hispanics narrowed by 6.2 to 15.1 percentage points.

Dr. Trivedi noted that hospitals self-report this data, which has become tied to their federal compensation. Federal authorities have audited the veracity of some, but not all, of it.

In addition to Drs. Trivedi and Fine, the paper’s other authors are Wato Nsa, M.D., Ph.D., and Allen Ma, Ph.D., both of the Oklahoma Foundation for Medical Quality; Dale W. Bratzler, D.O., M.P.H., of the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center; Leslie R. M. Hausmann, Ph.D., and Maria K. Mor, Ph.D., both of the VA CHERP and Pitt; Jonathan S. Lee, M.D., of Pitt; and Kristie Baus, M.S., R.N., and Fiona Larbi, M.S., R.N., both of CMS.

This research was funded by CMS contract HHSM-500-2011-OK10C.

Drug Developed at Pitt Proves Effective Against Antibiotic-Resistant ‘Superbugs’

PITTSBURGH, Dec. 10, 2014 – A treatment pioneered at the University of Pittsburgh Center for Vaccine Research (CVR) is far more effective than traditional antibiotics at inhibiting the growth of drug-resistant bacteria, including so-called “superbugs” resistant to almost all existing antibiotics, which plague hospitals and nursing homes.

The findings, announced online in the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy and funded by the National Institutes of Health, provide a needed boost to the field of antibiotic development, which has been limited in the last four decades and outpaced by the rise of drug-resistant bacterial strains.

“Very few, if any, medical discoveries have had a larger impact on modern medicine than the discovery and development of antibiotics,” said senior author Ronald C. Montelaro, Ph.D., professor and co-director of Pitt’s CVR. “However, the success of these medical achievements is being threatened due to increasing frequency of antibiotic resistance. It is critical that we move forward with development of new defenses against the drug-resistant bacteria that threaten the lives of our most vulnerable patients.”

Each year in the U.S., at least 2 million people are infected with drug-resistant bacteria, and at least 23,000 die as a direct result of these infections, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

On the tail end of HIV surface protein, there is a sequence of amino acids that the virus uses to “punch into” and infect cells. Dr. Montelaro and his colleagues developed a synthetic and more efficient version of this sequence – called engineered cationic antimicrobial peptides, or “eCAPs”—that can be chemically synthesized in a laboratory setting.

The team tested the two leading eCAPs against a natural antimicrobial peptide (LL37) and a standard antibiotic (colistin), the latter being used as a last-resort antibiotic against multidrug resistant bacterial infections. The scientists performed the tests in a laboratory setting using 100 different bacterial strains isolated from the lungs of pediatric cystic fibrosis patients of Seattle Children’s Hospital and 42 bacterial strains isolated from hospitalized adult patients at UPMC.

The natural human antimicrobial peptide LL37 and the colistin drug each inhibited growth of about 50 percent of the clinical isolates, indicating a high level of bacterial resistance to these drugs. In marked contrast, the two eCAPS inhibited growth in about 90 percent of the test bacterial strains.

“We were very impressed with the performance of the eCAPs when compared with some of the best existing drugs, including a natural antimicrobial peptide made by Mother Nature and an antibiotic of last resort,” said Dr. Montelaro. “However, we still needed to know how long the eCAPs would be effective before the bacteria develop resistance.”

The team challenged a highly infectious and pathogenic bacterium called Pseudomonas aeruginosa – which flourishes in medical equipment, such as catheters, and causes inflammation, sepsis and organ failure – with both the traditional drugs and eCAPs in the lab.

The bacterium developed resistance to the traditional drugs in as little as three days. In contrast, it took 25 to 30 days for the same bacterium to develop resistance to the eCAPs. In addition, the eCAPs worked just as effectively at killing Pseudomonas aeruginosa after it became resistant to the traditional drugs.

“We plan to continue developing the eCAPs in the lab and in animal models, with the intention of creating the least-toxic and most effective version possible so we can move them to clinical trials and help patients who have exhausted existing antibiotic options,” said Dr. Montelaro.

Additional researchers on this study are Berthony Deslouches, M.D., Ph.D., Jonathan D. Steckbeck, Ph.D., M.B.A., Jodi K. Craigo, Ph.D., and Yohei Doi, M.D., all of Pitt; and Jane L. Burns, M.D., of Seattle Children’s Research Institute.

This research was supported by NIH grants P30DK072506, R01AI104895, R21AI107302 and P30 DK089507, as well as funds from Pitt’s Center for Vaccine Research and Cystic Fibrosis Research Center.

Newly-Identified Gene Mutation Could Help Explain How Breast Cancer Spreads

SAN ANTONIO, Dec. 9, 2014 – A newly-identified genetic mutation could increase our understanding of how breast cancer spreads and potentially guide treatment options for women with the disease, according to a study from Magee-Womens Research Institute (MWRI) and the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) presented today at the 2014 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

This research represents the most comprehensive analysis to date of genomic changes that occur in breast cancer progression and indicate the extensive changes that happen during the spread of the disease.

Researchers from MWRI and UPCI sequenced frozen breast tumor samples from six patients, beginning with the primary tumor when the cancer was first diagnosed through the progression of metastatic disease.  Using multiple sequencing techniques, the team identified a new gene created by two separate genes that fused together as a result of unstable DNA.  This fusion gene was identified in a metastatic tumor sample and is believed to play a part in the spread of the original breast cancer.

“We applied all of our sequencing technologies to the tumors in order to understand the changes that occur between the first breast cancer occurrence and late-stage disease,” said Ryan Hartmaier, a research instructor at the University of Pittsburgh and lead author of the study.

Since several types of breast cancer are fueled by the hormone estrogen, estrogen blocking treatment is often recommended to prevent the disease from spreading. However, the fusion gene identified did not  respond to estrogen blocking treatment, contributing to the breast cancer’s spread.

“This research helps us further understand the genomic landscape of metastatic breast cancer,” said Adrian Lee, Ph.D., the study’s senior author, director of the Women’s Cancer Research Center and professor of pharmacology, chemical biology and human genetics Pitt. “The new class of genetic changes identified take us another step further in personalized medicine and could change the way we treat certain patients if we are able to identify who will develop this genetic mutation.”

New Drug Therapy A Safe, Effective Option for Elderly Patients with Acute Myeloid Leukemia

PITTSBURGH, Dec. 8, 2014 – Seventy percent of elderly patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) who were treated with a combination of drugs aimed to make chemotherapy treatments effective and less toxic achieved remission or a slowing of disease progression, according to research at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI), partner with UPMC CancerCenter. The findings were presented Sunday at the 56th American Society of Hematology Annual Meeting in San Francisco.

The research is important because most elderly patients diagnosed with AML can’t tolerate the aggressive chemotherapy needed and tend to have more aggressive disease than younger patients, making prognosis poor. So researchers, led by UPCI’s Annie Im, M.D., an assistant professor of medicine in Pitt’s Division of Hematology/Oncology, examined whether an epigenetic strategy using the drugs decitabine followed by cytarabine would help make other treatments more tolerable by reactivating genes that had previously been silenced by the malignancy.

“Outcomes are really poor in elderly patients who have AML because the only therapies we have are often too toxic to offer as treatment options, and the unmet need for novel therapies is dire,” Dr. Im said. “But we have shown that using this therapy in this patient population is safe and effective.”

In the study, 23 patients were evaluated after receiving what’s called an induction therapy of decitabine intravenously for five days followed by a standard dose of cytarabine intravenously for five days. Fourteen patients had complete remission and five patients had a complete remission with delayed bone marrow recovery. All patients except for two received two cycles of induction.

Researchers believe the drugs work because they help reactivate genes that had been silenced by the malignancy. In addition, evidence suggests that epigenetic priming by decitabine enhances the efficacy of cytarabine. The next phase of the trial will examine overall survival and the rate of adverse events, and include epigenetic correlative studies.

Gastroenterology Experts Present at AIBD 2014

PITTSBURGH, Dec. 8, 2014 – Faculty from the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition were among the experts who presented at the recent 2014 Advances in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation’s Clinical & Research Conference in Orlando, Fla. Faculty research was presented in both oral and poster presentations, and covered a wide range of topics, including:

  • A Model Integrating Genetic and Environmental Factors Can Differentiate Crohn’s Disease from Ulcerative Colitis
    UPMC Co-Author: Richard Duerr, MD
  • The Patient-Centered IBD Medical Home: Will This Be the Future of IBD Healthcare Delivery?
    Presented by Miguel Regueiro, MD
  • E. Management of Psycho-Social Issues in IBD Patients: Case Studies
    Co-presented by Eva Szigethy, MD, PhD
  • Clinical Predictors of Moderate Depression and Suicidality in Adults with IBD
    UPMC co-Authors: Victor Chedid, MD, Jana Al Hashash, MD, Gregory Thorkelson, MD, Claudia Rivers-Ramos, MD, David Binion, MD, Miguel Regueiro,MD, Eva Szigethy, MD, PhD
  • What is the Optimal Medical Management of Post-Operative Crohn’s Disease?
    Presented by Miguel Regueiro, MD
  • Stop the Scanners! External Validation of Algorithms Predicting Complications in Patients with Crohn’s Disease Presenting to the Emergency Department
    UPMC Co-Author Jason Swoger, MD
  • Preventing and Treating Narcotic Dependence in Our IBD Patients
    Presented by Eva Szigethy, MD, PhD
  • IBD CONNECT: A Novel Inflammatory Bowel Disease Volunteer Program for Hospitalized Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis Patients
    UPMC Co-Authors: Miguel Regueiro, MD, Eva Szigethy, MD, PhD

For more information on the conference, please visit AdvancesInIBD.com.

PET Scans Help Identify Effective TB Drugs, Says Pitt School of Medicine Study

PITTSBURGH, Dec. 3, 2014 – Sophisticated lung imaging can show whether or not a treatment drug is able to clear tuberculosis (TB) lung infection in human and macaque studies, according to researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and their international collaborators. The findings, published online today in Science Translational Medicine, indicate the animal model can correctly predict which experimental agents have the best chance for success in human trials.

In 2012, an estimated 8.6 million people in the world contracted TB, for which the first-line treatment demands taking four different drugs for six to eight months to get a durable cure, explained senior investigator JoAnne L. Flynn, Ph.D., professor of microbiology and molecular genetics, Pitt School of Medicine. Patients who aren’t cured of the infection – about 500,000 annually – can develop multi-drug resistant TB, and have to take as many as six drugs for two years.

“Some of those people don’t get cured, either, and develop what we call extensively drug-resistant, or XDR, TB, which has a very poor prognosis,” she said. “Our challenge is to find more effective treatments that work in a shorter time period, but the standard preclinical models for testing new drugs have occasionally led to contradictory results when they are evaluated in human trials.”

In previous research, Dr. Flynn’s colleagues at the National Institutes of Health found that the drug linezolid effectively treated XDR-TB patients who had not improved with conventional treatment, even though mouse studies suggested it would have no impact on the disease. To further examine the effects of linezolid and another drug of the same class, Dr. Flynn and her NIH collaborators, led by Clifton E. Barry III, PH.D., performed PET/CT scans in TB-infected humans and macaques, which also get lesions known as granulomas in the lungs. In a PET scan, a tiny amount of a radioactive probe is injected into the blood that gets picked up by metabolically active cells, leaving a “hot spot” on the image.

The researchers found that humans and macaques had very similar disease profiles, and that both groups had hot spots of TB in the lungs that in most cases improved after drug treatment. CT scans, which show anatomical detail of the lungs, also indicated post-treatment improvement. One patient had a hot spot that got worse, and further testing revealed his TB strain was resistant to linezolid.

The findings show that a macaque model and PET scanning can better predict which drugs are likely to be effective in clinical trials, and that could help get new treatments to patients faster, Dr. Flynn said. The scans also could be useful as a way of confirming drug resistance, but aren’t likely to be implemented routinely.

“We plan to use this PET scanning strategy to determine why some lesions don’t respond to certain drugs, and to test candidate anti-TB agents,” she said. “This might give us a way of tailoring treatment to individuals.”

The research team includes lead author M. Teresa Coleman and others from the Pitt School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC; co-senior author Dr. Barry and others from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health; as well as scientists from the International Tuberculosis Research Center in Changwon, Republic of Korea; Rutgers New Jersey Medical School; Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research; Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea; and the University of Cape Town, Rondebosch, South Africa.

Funding for this study was provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the National Cancer Institute; the Ministry of Health and Welfare, Republic of Korea; and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Link Exists Between White Matter and Concussion-Related Depression, Anxiety, Pitt Researchers Find

PITTSBURGH, Dec. 2, 2014 – White matter brain abnormalities in some patients with depression disorders closely resemble abnormalities found in patients who have experienced a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), more commonly known as concussion, according to new research presented by University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine researchers this week at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

The researchers, who also studied anxiety in concussion patients who underwent imaging, believe determining these white-matter injuries also could help guide treatment in people who suffer such symptoms, whether they are due to trauma or not.

White matter in the brain is made up of long, finger-like fibers projecting from nerve cells and is covered by a whitish fatty material. While gray matter, the part of our brain without the fatty covering, holds our knowledge, white matter is what connects different regions of gray matter, allowing different parts of the brain to communicate with one another.

Over the past several years, cognitive consequences of concussion have dominated the news.  Any association between concussion/mTBI and the development of psychiatric disorders hasn’t garnered the same level of attention.  Saeed Fakhran, M.D., assistant professor of radiology at Pitt and his team wanted to determine if a trauma to the brain could be found in imaging as an underlying cause of depression or anxiety in certain patients.

“We know that neuropsychiatric disorders like depression and anxiety can be as disabling as Alzheimer’s dementia and chronic traumatic encephalopathy, affecting a person’s quality of life, and are often accompanied by higher rates of obesity, substance abuse and even suicide,” said Dr. Fakhran. “We wanted to see if there were commonalities shared by patients with depression and anxiety disorders caused by brain trauma and those with non-traumatic depression.”

For this study, Dr. Fakhran and his team examined MRI scans performed in 74 concussion patients from 2006-14 using an advanced technique called diffusion tensor imaging.  Diffusion tensor imaging allows doctors to visualize the white matter and look for places where the white matter may be injured, resulting in decreased connections in the brain and post-concussion symptoms.  In patients with depression, researchers found injured regions in the reward circuit of the brain, which has also been found to be abnormal in patients with non-traumatic major depressive disorder.  Greater injury to the reward center of the brain correlated with a longer recovery time, similar to patients with non-traumatic major depressive disorder, the researchers said.

“Finding such similar injuries in mTBI patients with depression and major depressive disorder may suggest a common pathophysiology in both traumatic and non-traumatic depression that may help guide treatment,” said Dr. Fakhran. “The first step in developing a treatment for any disease is understanding what causes it, and if we can prove a link, or even a common pathway, between post-traumatic depression and depression in the general population it could potentially lead to effective treatment strategies for both diseases.”

While noting that continuing research is vital in this area, the researchers said their project was limited by its retrospective nature and moderate sample size. Because so few concussion patients undergo imaging, the researchers added that future, prospective research could benefit from following a larger group of patients. Moreover, their findings didn’t include irritability, the third neuropsychiatric symptom they set out to study – causing them to determine that not all such post-concussion/mTBI symptoms appear to result in discrete white matter injuries. It also was difficult to determine, they said, if pre-existing brain abnormalities rendered certain patients more susceptible to depression or anxiety.

Physicians and Researchers Present at AASLD 2014

PITTSBURGH, Dec. 1, 2014 – Faculty from the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition and the Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute were well-represented at The Liver Meeting® held by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases in Boston. Experts from the division gave oral and poster presentations on topics such as:

  • BPAR (Biopsy Proven Acute Rejection) During Protocolized Immunosuppression Withdrawal (ISW) is Readily Reversed in Pediatric Liver Transplant (Tx) Recipients
    UPMC Contributors: Veena Venkat, MD, George Mazariegos, MD, Anthony Demetris, MD
  • Incremental Dose Model Identified GSK3β and β-catenin as Potential Targets for Regenerative Therapies for Acetaminophen-Induced Acute Liver Failure
    UPMC Contributor: Satdarshan (Paul) Singh Monga, MD
  • Cost-Effectiveness of Novel Hepatitis C Drug Regimens Among Treatment-Experiences U.S. Veterans
    UPMC Contributors: Cindy Bryce, PhD, Michael Fine, MD, MSc, Chester Good, MD, MPH, Larissa Myaskovsky, PhD, Vinod Rustgi, MD, MBA, Allan Tsung, MD, Kenneth Smith, MD, MS
  • Infection Challenges in the Cirrhotic Patient
    UPMC Contributor: Kapil Chopra, MD
  • The Economic Impact of Sofosbuvir-and Simeprevir-Based HCV Treatment in the Unites States
    UPMC Contributors: Mark Roberts, MD, and Michael Dunn, MD
  • Predictors of Mortality in Patients With Low MELD on the Liver Transplant Wait List
    UPMC Contributors: Swaytha Ganesh, MD, Chandraprakash Umapathy, MD, Abhinav Humar, MD, Christopher Hughes, MD, Mark Sturdevant, MD, Elizabeth Kallenborn, MSN, RN, Vinod Rustgi, MD, MBA, Shahid Malik, MD, Amit Tevar, MD
  • HCV Infection in Opiod-Using (OU) Pregnant Women
    UPMC Contributors: Elizabeth Krans, MD, MSc, Vinod Rustgi, MD, MBA
  • All Oral Treatment for Genotypr 4 Chronic Hepatitis C Infection With Sofosbuvir and Ledipasvir: Interim Results from the NIAID SYNERGY Trial
    UPMC Contributor: Vinod Rustgi, MD, MBA
  • Prevalence of Precore and Dual Basal Core Promoter HBV Variants in a Racially Diverse Cohort of Patients With Chronic HBV Infection in North America
    UPMC Contributors: Obaid Shaikh, MD, Abdus Wahed, PhD
  • ABT-450/r/Ombitasvir + Dasabuvir With or Without Ribavirin in HCV Genotype 1-Infected Patients Receiving Stable Opioid Substitution Treatment: Pooled Analysis of Efficacy and Safety in Phase 2 and Phase 3 Trials
    UPMC Contributor: Vinod Rustgi, MD, MBA
  • Safety of ABT-450/r/Ombitasvir + Dasabuvir With or Without Ribavirin in HCV Genotype 1-Infected Patients ≥65 Years of Age: Results From Phase 2 and 3 Trials
    UPMC Contributor: Vinod Rustgi, MD, MBA

For more information on The Liver Meeting, please visit the conference page.

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