UPMC Physician Resources

Westminster College and UPMC Schools of Nursing Announce New Partnership with Focus on Rural Health Care

The Westminster College School of Nursing will launch its inaugural program in Fall Semester 2017 in a collaborative agreement with the UPMC’s Jameson Memorial Hospital School of Nursing in New Castle, leading to both a nursing diploma and a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree in the new four-year program.

First-year students will take pre-nursing and liberal arts courses at Westminster and matriculate to UPMC Jameson’s School of Nursing. For years two and three, students will follow the UPMC Jameson program while earning credits at Westminster toward the BSN degree. At the completion of the UPMC Jameson program, students will test for the licensing examination for registered nurse (RN) licensure. During the fourth year students will complete higher level nursing courses at Westminster to earn the BSN.

“The bachelor’s degree in nursing is now considered the gold standard for entry into nursing practice within health care,” said Tricia Ryan, newly appointed School of Nursing director at Westminster. “With the collaboration between Westminster College and UPMC Jameson’s School of Nursing, our students will experience the ‘best of both worlds’ in nursing education with this brilliant combination of nursing and the liberal arts.”

“The health care needs of the communities in and surrounding New Wilmington and New Castle are diverse and unique in many ways and provide rich opportunities for these future nurses to develop specialized skills to serve patients in rural areas,” said Linda Kmetz, PhD, executive director of UPMC Schools of Nursing and director of UPMC Shadyside School of Nursing. “During their time at UPMC Jameson School of Nursing, students will have rare opportunities to study and gain practical experience in telemedicine, behavioral health, obstetrics, pediatrics and Amish health customs and practices, in addition to rural medicine.”

Other highlights of the partnership include opportunities for students to study Spanish medical language; a nursing licensure exam pass rate of current UPMC Jameson students that is consistently above the national average; a strong pipeline to nursing positions in home care, primary care offices, in case management and in traditional settings at UPMC’s community hospitals including Horizon, Hamot and Jameson; and opportunities to experience global health through Westminster’s mission programs in the Dominican Republic.

Genetic Test Helps Improve Outcomes in Heart Stent Patients

A genetic test recently implemented at UPMC Presbyterian can significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular events by helping to identify more effective medication for some heart patients, according to the results of a large study conducted in part at the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC. The findings are being presented today at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions in New Orleans.

The test identifies a genetic deficiency that affects the body’s ability to activate clopidogrel, a common anti-clotting drug given after a coronary artery stent is inserted. About 30 percent of all patients have the genetic deficiency, which can lead to decreased clopidogrel effectiveness and increased risk for adverse cardiovascular events, such as strokes, heart attacks and death.

In the current study from the National Institutes of Health’s Implementing Genomics in Practice (IGNITE) Network, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy and other sites throughout the country analyzed medical outcomes in 1,815 patients who had genetic testing at the time of their cardiac procedure. The testing allows physicians to pinpoint the best anti-clotting medication for each patient.

The study reported significant results: About 60 percent of patients with the genetic deficiency were given a different, more effective medication. Using the genetic data to guide changes in therapy reduced the percentage of deaths, heart attacks or strokes by nearly half compared with those who continued taking clopidogrel, the researchers found. Among those who had the genetic deficiency and continued taking clopidogrel, 8 percent experienced one of those complications.

“We saw significantly fewer adverse events among patients who were switched to an alternative drug,” said Larisa Cavallari, PharmD, director of the Center for Pharmacogenomics at the University of Florida College of Pharmacy who led the multi-institutional study.

Earlier this year, UPMC Presbyterian became one of the first medical centers in the country to make this test available for patients as part of the PreCISE-Rx (Pharmacogenomics-guided Care to Improve the Safety and Effectiveness of Medications) initiative. Approximately 10 percent of the study population was analyzed by the team at Pitt and UPMC, one of the affiliates in the IGNITE Network.

“This study is a major step forward as it shows applying pharmacogenomics to achieve a precision medicine approach in cardiac stent patients can provide significant benefits,” said Philip Empey, PharmD, PhD, assistant professor of pharmacy and therapeutics at the Pitt School of Pharmacy and leader of the Pitt team.

PreCISE-Rx is a leading initiative of the Institute for Precision Medicine (IPM), a joint effort by UPMC and Pitt to move biomedical research into personalized well-being and clinical care.

“The success of PreCISE-Rx demonstrates that the IPM is well-positioned to dramatically improve the standard of care through precision medicine by taking advantage of the world-class clinical and research expertise in Pittsburgh,” said Adrian Lee, PhD, professor of pharmacology and chemical biology at Pitt, and director of the Women’s Cancer Research Center, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute.

Other institutions that participated in the clopidogrel research were the University of North Carolina, the University of Maryland-Baltimore, the University of Alabama-Birmingham, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, the University of Illinois-Chicago, Indiana University-Indianapolis, Sanford Health, Duke University and the University of Pennsylvania.

International Team Decodes Cellular Death Signals

A multidisciplinary international team of scientists solved the mystery of a recently discovered type of controlled cell death, mapping the path to potential therapies for conditions ranging from radiation injury to cancer. The study, led in part by the University of Pittsburgh, is reported today in two papers in Nature Chemical Biology.

Ferroptosis is a way the body uses iron (which is “ferro” in Latin) to catalyze a reaction that safely destroys and recycles a malfunctioning or damaged cell. Until this study, scientists didn’t know how the body signaled – within the damaged cell and to other cells – that this well-regulated death needed to occur.

“Our team successfully decoded the signaling language that cells use to trigger ferroptosis,” said Valerian E. Kagan, PhD, DSc, professor in the Pitt Graduate School of Public Health’s Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, and lead author of one of the papers. “You can think of it like the scanners and radios that policemen use to find and arrest a criminal.

“The goal is to communicate enough information to neutralize the problem and remove the criminal, or damaged cell, but without creating such a commotion that you disrupt the society, which, in this example, would be other, well-functioning cells.”

Through two years of experiments bridging fields ranging from public health and critical care medicine to basic biology and chemistry, the team analyzed hundreds of molecular combinations generated in the ferroptotic process to discover that only four molecules actually signal for the cell to die. All four are phospholipids – naturally occurring molecules that make up cell membranes.

“Scientists have long known that these lipids were important for encasing the cell and giving it structure,” said Kagan. “What they didn’t know – what we’ve only learned in recent scientific history – is that they do so much more, including communicating and signaling messages like ‘danger’ inside the cell itself, to other cells and to the cellular community as a whole, so that organisms can function in a coordinated way.”

Kagan and Hülya Bayɪr, MD, professor in Pitt’s Department of Critical Care Medicine and senior author of one of the papers, had previously worked together to decode another type of more well-known cell death, called apoptosis. They then decided to pursue the more esoteric ferroptosis, which had first been discovered in 2012.

“Ferro means iron, and we live in Pittsburgh, the Iron City – it would be a shame for us not to understand this process,” said Kagan, whose team looked for therapeutic value as they decoded the signaling process.

Kagan and Bayɪr also study ways to protect people against radiation, such as what would be given off in a terrorist attack. The findings gave them reason to think that ferroptosis may underlie radiation induced cellular damage as well.

“More and more, we’re appreciating that the damage from acute radiation is happening to the lining of the intestine, and that damage triggers a cascade of health complications that lead to sepsis, a very deadly syndrome,” said Bayɪr. “We believe that the radiation is triggering ferroptosis in the cells that line the intestine. If we can stop that process and get the body to repair, rather than systematically destroy, those cells, we might save the victims of devastating dirty bomb attacks.”

Conversely, in cancer, the body is failing to destroy dysfunctional cancer cells, allowing tumors to grow unchecked. By understanding the ferroptotic pathway, the researchers hope to find medications that can prompt it to recognize and kill cancer cells.

The researchers have already partnered with several UPMC clinicians to explore ways to translate their scientific findings into therapies that could help patients.

Sebastian Doll, PhD, José Pedro Friedman Angeli, PhD, and Marcus Conrad, PhD, all of Helmholtz Zentrum München in Germany, are lead or senior authors on the accompanying Nature Chemical Biology publication. In addition to a multi-disciplinary team of Pitt leading investigators, including  Joel Greenberger, MD, Rama K. Mallampalli, MD, Claudette St Croix, PhD, Simon Watkins, PhD, and Ivet Bahar, PhD, and others at Helmholtz Zentrum München, additional co-authors are from the University of Heidelberg in Germany and Columbia University in New York.

This research is supported by National Institutes of Health grants P01HL114453, U19AI068021, NS076511, NS061817, P41GM103712 and ES020693; Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft grants CO 291/2-3 and CO 291/5-1; and the Human Frontier Science Program grant HFSP-RGP0013/2014.

Heart Failure Care Improving, but Hospitalizations on the Rise

Although hospitalizations have increased in recent years for patients with congestive heart failure, survival rates and length of stay have improved, according to new research from experts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute. The results, published in the journal Clinical Cardiology and presented Sunday at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions, were based on more than 15 million US hospital admissions between 1996 and 2009 due to congestive heart failure.

The prevalence of heart failure is increasing in the US due to its aging population and significant advancements in management of associated co-morbidities, such as ischemic heart disease, diabetes, stroke, peripheral vascular disease and hypertension. More than 5 million Americans are living with heart failure, and close to 500,000 patients are newly diagnosed each year.

Heart failure also is a common cause of hospital admissions, leading to significant costs for the nation’s health care system. A recent report from the American Heart Association estimated the annual direct and indirect costs associated with heart failure in the US at more than $30.7 billion. However, until this study, little was known about recent trends involving those admissions, including length of stay and in-hospital mortality.

“There has been significant progress in heart failure management over the past two decades, but more has to be done,” said Muhammad Bilal Munir, MD, clinical instructor of medicine in Pitt’s Division of General Internal Medicine and corresponding author of the study. “The number of hospitalizations has increased, identifying a need to implement heart failure quality measures stringently to reduce these admissions, therefore reducing heart failure-associated health care costs.”

The number of heart failure hospitalizations increased from 1,000,766 in 1996 to about 1,173,832 in 2009, according to study results. The mean length of stay fell from 6.07 days in 1996 to about 5.26 days in 2009, and inpatient mortality rates declined from 4.92 percent in 1996 to 3.41 percent in 2009.

Researchers say the findings likely reflect the changes in the management of heart failure across the country, which include numerous advances in care such as new drug therapies and sophisticated devices. Further efforts are needed to curb the cost of heart failure management, experts agreed, with a focus on reducing heart failure hospital admissions and readmissions, especially for patients with less severe symptoms who could be treated with aggressive outpatient management.

Additional study authors are Michael S. Sharbaugh, MPH; Floyd W. Thoma; Muhammad Umer Nisar, MD; Amir S. Kamran, MD; Andrew D. Althouse, PhD; and Samir Saba, MD, all from the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute.

Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic of UPMC Host 33rd Annual Pittsburgh Schizophrenia Conference

On November 18, 2016, join Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic of UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh Department of Psychiatry for the nation’s longest running scientific meeting devoted to exploring the latest research findings related to schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders.

Held at the Sheraton Station Square, this year’s program features presentations on a wide range of topics including:

  • The relevance of animal models to the prevention and treatment of schizophrenia
  • New findings in the area of genetics 
  • The importance of early detection and intervention 
  • The role of spirituality in recovery from serious mental illness

The conference also welcomes Stephen Marder, MD, Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, who will be presenting the Gerald E. Hogarty Excellence in Schizophrenia Research Memorial Lecture. Dr. Marder will present on the topic of “New Clinical Targets for Improving Functioning in Schizophrenia.”

Click here to register online and here to download the conference program.

For more information about the conference and how to register, please contact Nancy Mundy at mundynl@upmc.edu.

Click here for more resources and free online CME in psychiatry.

Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Experts At the 30th Annual North American Cystic Fibrosis Conference

PrintThe 30th annual North American Cystic Fibrosis Conference was held October 27-29 in Orlando. The event brought scientists, clinicians, and other healthcare professionals from around the world to share the latest ideas and advances in cystic fibrosis research, drug development, and patient care, and included posters and presentations from field-leading experts.

Several Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC faculty and staff presented at the conference on a number of topics including:

 

Poster: Identification of Novel Inhibitors of Ubiquitination That Improve Rescue of F508DELCFTR by VX-809

Goeckeler-Fried, Jennifer; Estabrooks, Samuel K; Chiang, Annette; Chung, Wook Joon; Ye, Zhaofeng; Denny, Rajiah Aldrin; Weissman, Allan M; Camacho, Carlos J; Sorscher, Eric J; Brodsky, Jeffrey L

Poster: Recognition of CFTR By BCL2 Associated Athnaogene 3 (BAG3): A Pathway meditating Autophagic CFTR Degradation

Mishra, Sanjay K ; Frizzell, Raymond A.

Poster: Ubiquitin-Specific Proteases 11(USP11)and 28(USP28)Regulate F508DELCFTRStability Via SUMOConjugation

Gong, Xiaoyan; DaPaula ,AnaCarina; Ahner, Annette; Frizzell, Raymond A

Poster/Workshop Presentation: Predicted Phosphorylation Site in SLC26A9 Modulates CFTR-Dependent Activity

Wang, Xiaohui; Larsen, Mads B; Frizzell, Raymond A.; Bertrand, Carol A.

Poster: Pseudomonas aeruginosa Benefits From Respiratory Viral Infection in Cystic Fibrosis

Jeffrey Melvin

Poster: Viral-Bacterial Interactions in the Paranasal Sinuses in Cystic Fibrosis

Jeffrey Melvin

Abstract: Dynamics of Staphylococcus aureus growth on airway epithelial cells

Megan R Kiedrowski

Presenting: Thursday, Oct. 27 – W06: INF/MIC: Pathogenesis of Airway Infection (speaking 10:20-10:30a)

Poster Session I (11:15a-1:45p), Friday, Oct. 28 – JIB: Junior investigators best abstract session: Basic Science (12:15-1:35p)

Poster: Dysregulation of Nutritional Immunity during Respiratory Viral Infection Promotes Pseudomonas aeruginosa Biofilm Growth

Matthew Hendricks

Poster: SIRT1 Mediates Resveratrol Inhibition of CFTR In Primary Bronchial Epithelium

Agnieszka Swiatecka-Urban, MD, FASN

Poster: TGF-β1 Upregulates Microrna- 145 To Block ∆F508-CFTR Rescue

Agnieszka Swiatecka-Urban, MD, FASN

Poster: Anti-biofilm activity and in vivo efficacy of an engineered peptide antibiotic”

Berthony Deslouches

Workshop III: CLIN: *Emerging Issues in CF Lung Transplantation

A. Faro, J. Pilewski

Poster: Infection and depressed mucociliary clearance in pediatric and adult CF patients

Corcoran TE, Locke LW, Myerburg MM, Weiner DJ, Pilewski JM

Poster: Nitrogen Back Diffusion During Multiple Breath Washout With 100% Oxygen

Weiner DJ, Pederson K, Nielson JG.

Poster: Lung Function Perception in Cystic Fibrosis

Forno E, Weiner DJ

UPMC Heart and Vascular Experts to Present at the American Heart Association’s Annual Scientific Sessions

The UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute will be well-represented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions in New Orleans on Saturday, Nov. 12 – Wednesday, Nov. 16. Faculty research will be presented in both oral and abstract presentations.

November 13, 2016

511 – The Role Of Exposure To Environmental Pollutants In Racial Disparity In Cardiovascular Risk Factors And Novel Markers

Presented by: Sebhat Erqou, Jane Clougherty, Steven Reis

553 – Population Based Characterization of the Definition, Prevalence and Associated Mortality of Pulmonary Hypertension in the Setting of Left Heart Disease

Presented by: Rebecca R. Vanderpool, Melissa I. Saul, Seyed Mehdi Nouraie, Mark T. Gladwin, Marc A. Simon

 S4127 / 4127 – Trends in Heart Failure Hospitalizations Using Data From National Hospital Discharge Survey

Presented by: Muhammad Bilal Munir, Michael S. Sharbaugh, Floyd W. Thoma, Muhammad Umer Nisar, Amir S. Kamran, Andrew D. Althouse, Samir Saba

Advances in Contrast Echocardiography, Molecular and Myocardial Imaging

S4217 / 4217 – Targeted Delivery of AntimiR-23a Using Ultrasound and Microbubbles Suppresses Cardiac Hypertrophy and Improves Cardiac Function in vivo

Presented by: Jonathan A Kopechek, Charles F. McTiernan, Xucai Chen, Rafey Feroze, Bin Qin, Jissy Cyriac, Linda Lavery, Daniel Whitehurst, Flordeliza S. Villanueva

Clinical Applications of Nuclear Cardiology

S4251 / 4251 – Assessment of Dyssynchrony as an Indicator of Right Ventricular Free Wall Function by Gated Blood Pool SPECT (GBPS) in Patients undergoing LVAD Implantation

Presented by: Aditi Nayak, Christopher B. Link, Andrew D. Althouse, Robert L. Kormos, Marc A. Simon, Jeffrey J. Teuteberg, Luigi G. Lagazzi, Prem Soman

November 14, 2016

Metabolic Disease and Pulmonary Hypertension

670 – Development of a Mouse Model of Metabolic Syndrome, Pulmonary Hypertension, and Heart Failure With Preserved Ejection Fraction (PH-HFpEF)

Presented by: Yen-Chun Lai, Qingqing Meng, Neil Kelly, Marta Bueno, Jeffery Baust, Timothy Bachman, Rebecca Vanderpool, Josiah Radder, Jian Hu, Alison Morris, Ana Mora, Mark T. Gladwin

Imaging the Mitral Valve and Strain Imaging

M5020 / 5020 – Vector Flow Mapping Quantification of Left Ventricular Energy Loss Occurring in Normal Subjects

Presented by: Masataka Sugahara, Zhi Qi, Tijmen Koopsen, Marc A. Simon, John Gorcsan lll

Imaging the Right Heart and the Left Ventricle in Mitral Regurgitation

M5027 / 5027 – Three Dimensional Echocardiographic Wall Motion Tracking Assessment of Right Ventricular Remodeling and Effects on Left Ventricular Function as Prognostic Predictors in Patients With Pulmonary Hypertension

Presented by: Masataka Sugahara, Zhi Qi, Marc A. Simon, Michael A. Mathier, John Gorcsan lll

 Percutaneous Non-Coronary Cardiac Intervention (including Percutaneous Valves) III

M5078 / 5078 – Predictors of Mortality in Patients With Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension Following Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement

Presented by: Ahmad Masri, Michael S. Sharbaugh, Andrew D. Althouse, Islam Abdelkarim, Wei Han, William E. Katz, Frederick Crock, Mathew Harinstein, Dustin E. Kliner, Forozan Navid, Thomas G. Gleason, Joon S. Lee, John T. Schindler, João L. Cavalcante

Percutaneous Non-Coronary Cardiac Intervention (including Percutaneous Valves) III

M5081 / 5081 – Prognostic Value of Baseline Right Ventricular Dysfunction in Patients Undergoing Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement

Presented by: Islam Abdelkarim, Wei Han, Floyd Thoma, Andrew D Althouse, William E Katz, Frederick W Crock, Matthew E Harinstein, Dustin E Kliner, Forozan Navid, Thomas G Gleason, Joon S Lee, John T Schindler, João L Cavalcante

 Arrhythmia: Clinical Electrophysiology, Diagnosis and Risk Stratification V

M5186 / 5186 – Depression and 5-Year Stroke Risk in Patients With Atrial Fibrillation

Presented by: Bruno B. Lima, Andrew D. Althouse, Muhammad B. Munir, Michael S. Sharbaugh, Bruce L. Rollman, Samir Saba

 

Treatment of Arrhythmias: ICD/Pacemaker – excluding CRT II

M5276 / 5276 – Reversible Cause of Sudden Cardiac Arrest and Rates of Defibrillator Implantation

Presented by: Adetola Ladejobi, Deepak Kumar Pasupula, Shantanu Patil, Shasank Rijal, Bilal Munir, Asad Durrani, Awais Javed, Max Wayne, Oluremi Ajala, Natasha A. Kassim, Shubash Adhikari, Samir Saba

 

Ventricular Function/Hemodynamics and Biomarkers III

M4257 / 4257 – Myocardial Fibrosis is Associated With Pulmonary Artery Pressure and Adverse Outcomes in Patients With Preserved Left Ventricular Systolic Function

Presented by: George Cater, Erik Schelbert, Marc A. Simon, Peter Kellman, Timothy Wong

 

November 15, 2016

Echocardiography in Clinical Syndromes: CAD, Stress Echo, Vascular Disease

Echocardiographic Radial and Circumferential Strain Follow-up Analysis of Neurocardiac Injury in Patients With Subarachnoid Hemorrhage

Presented by: Zhi Qi, Masataka Sugahara, Elizabeth A. Crago, Yugang Chang, Theodore F. Lagattuta, Khalil Yousef, Robert M. Friedlander, Marilyn T. Hravnak, John Gorcsan III

 

Medical Aspects End Stage Heart Failure: Transplantation and Device Therapies IV

T4071 / 4071 – Critical Preoperative Factors and Specific Postoperative Adverse Events Drive Left Ventricular Assist Device Implant Hospitalization Costs

Presented by: Christine V. Nikas, Jennifer O. Larsen, Jeffrey J. Teuteberg, Luigi G. Lagazzi, Andrew D. Althouse, Michael S. Sharbaugh, Michael A. Shullo, Kathleen L. Lockard, Elizabeth M. Dunn, Nicole M. Kunz, Robert L. Kormos

 

770 – Heart Failure Admissions Under Observation versus Short Inpatient Stay: A Cohort Study

Presented by: Ahmad Masri, Andrew D. Althouse, Jeffrey McKibben, Floyd Thoma, Michael A. Mathier, Ravi Ramani, Jeffrey J. Teuteberg, Oscar C. Marroquin, Joon S. Lee, Suresh R. Mulukutla

 

VA.RFO.14 – Novel Insights into the Clinical Spectrum of PH and PAH

819 – Identification of a Pro-Hypertrophic Pathway With Chamber Specificity for the Right Ventricle; Implications for Right-Heart Dysfunction in Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension

Presented by: Imad Al Ghouleh, Daniel Meijles, John Sembrat, Mauricio Rojas, Rebecca R. Vanderpool, Jeffrey Baust, Asma Naqvi, Patrick J. Pagano,

 

Determinants of Clinical Outcome in Pulmonary Artery Hypertension

T4261 / 4261 – Nitric Oxide Synthase (NOS3) Asp298Glu Polymorphism and Survival in Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension

Presented by: Andrew Klein, David Ishizawar, Karen Hanley-Yanez, Dennis M. McNamara

 

For more information, visit the event website.

Topical Therapy for Radiation-Induced Skin Damage Shows Promising Results

A team of University of Pittsburgh researchers has demonstrated that a newly developed topical therapy applied before or after radiation exposure prevents skin damage in both animal and human models.

The results, published online in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, are expected to accelerate efforts that will lead to clinical studies and licensing of the technology, said Louis Falo, MD, chairman of the Department of Dermatology at the Pitt School of Medicine and corresponding author for the study.

The skin is the largest human organ and protects the body from physical, chemical and environmental exposures. Radiation-induced skin damage ranges from photo-aging and ultraviolet sun exposure to radiation dermatitis, a treatment-limiting condition caused by radiation therapy; and skin radiation syndrome, a frequently fatal consequence of exposures from nuclear accidents.

Dr. Falo teamed with Joel Greenberger, MD, professor and chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology, and Peter Wipf, PhD, Distinguished University Professor of Chemistry, in 2008. Drs. Greenberger and Wipf were exploring treatments to mitigate radiation poisoning caused by an accident at a nuclear power facility or from a so-called “dirty bomb” device. Together, they determined that the approaches being developed and investigated at Pitt could potentially benefit the approximately 1 million people annually in the U.S. who undergo radiation therapy to the skin for breast, head and neck, and other cancers.

“During the course of radiation therapy, patients can develop irritating and painful skin burns that can lead to dangerous infections and diminished quality of life,” Dr. Falo said. “Sometimes the burns are so severe that patients must stop their treatment regimen. Our results show that topical treatment with this therapeutic agent prevents skin damage at the source.”

Dr. Wipf’s lab developed the molecule that targets the formation of oxidative free radicals in the cell’s mitochondria, thereby preventing inflammation and cell death.

“This provides for potentially improved treatment options for patients undergoing radiation therapy with the prospect for more simplified treatment regimens and reduced concern about quality of life post-treatment,” he said. Dr. Wipf’s former student, Joshua Pierce, PhD, who now operates his own lab at North Carolina State University, is credited with synthesizing the molecule, named JP4-039.

Dr. Falo said he is optimistic about the therapy’s performance in clinical trials because the treatment appears to be effective in a model that uses human skin obtained from cosmetic procedures.

Looking beyond treating radiation therapy, he and his team are pursuing further studies of the molecule’s ability to reduce skin damage from sun exposure, including sunburns and the molecular changes that lead to skin cancer, as well as cosmetic applications to prevent skin changes caused by the oxidative stress that is associated with normal skin aging.

Additional authors on this study are Rhonda M. Brand, PhD, Michael W. Epperly, PhD, J. Mark Stottlemyer, BS, Xiang Gao, PhD, Erin M. Skoda, PhD, Song Li, MD, PhD, Saiful Huq, PhD, and Valerian E. Kagan, PhD, D.Sc, all of Pitt.

This research was funded by National Institute of General Medical Sciences grants P50 GM067082 and U19-A1068021, and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases grant 1RC1AI081284, and the Coulter Foundation.

UPMC Partners with Bon Secours to Open Advanced Radiation Treatment Center in Ireland

UPMC and Bon Secours Health System Ltd. today announced that they have formed a joint venture in Cork, Ireland, to own and operate one of the nation’s most advanced radiation therapy centers for the treatment of cancer patients. The new center will combine the expertise of Ireland’s largest independent health care provider with UPMC’s world-renowned model of cancer care that brings innovative and personalized treatments close to where patients live.

“This partnership builds upon the world-class medical and surgical oncology services that we already offer to patients in Cork,” said Bill Maher, chief executive officer of Bon Secours Health System. “With the help of UPMC, we will soon enhance our cancer services by providing access to leading-edge radiation technology and clinical protocols.”

The radiotherapy center will be built on the Bon Secours campus in Cork as part of a new, six-story expansion currently under construction. The joint venture, to be managed by UPMC and owned equally by both partners, will lease space from Bon Secours. Starting in 2019, it expects to treat patients with two advanced Varian TrueBeam Radiotherapy System linear accelerators, providing image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT) and intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT). Used for a variety of cancers, these approaches are designed to improve patient outcomes while minimizing side effects.

“We’re excited to work with such a highly regarded clinical partner as Bon Secours to reach more patients in Ireland with world-class care close to home,” said Charles Bogosta, president of UPMC International and UPMC CancerCenter. “This new facility will share in the learning and best practices at the UPMC Whitfield Cancer Centre in Waterford, now celebrating 10 years of providing state-of-the-art radiotherapy and personalized care in Ireland.”

The center in Cork also will benefit from access to the entire UPMC CancerCenter network, comprising more than 40 sites in the US and around the world. As part of that powerful network, patients have access to cutting-edge treatments, protocols and technologies guided by the latest scientific evidence. UPMC CancerCenter partners with the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, western Pennsylvania’s only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center.

In 2006, UPMC CancerCenter opened its first international cancer center, UPMC Whitfield, based on UPMC’s “hub-and-spoke” model in which a wide range of oncology services are offered in local communities with support from UPMC’s academic and clinical hub at the Hillman Cancer Center in Pittsburgh. Based on its high quality standards and patient safety, UPMC Whitfield was accredited by the Joint Commission International in 2008. UPMC also operates a radiation center in Rome and works with partners in Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Colombia, Russia, Myanmar and other nations to improve cancer care worldwide.

“With Bon Secours, we look forward to continuing to grow the number of patients that we can help in Ireland,” said Mr. Bogosta. “This investment underscores UPMC’s commitment to improving cancer care in Ireland, while giving us access to knowledge and resources that will strengthen our medical and research mission in Pittsburgh and around the world.”

Completion of the agreement is contingent on the approval of the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission of Ireland.

UPMC Senior Services Honors Resnick as 2016 Grand Champion

UPMC Senior Services will honor Neil Resnick, MD, Thomas Detre Professor and chief of the Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology as its 2016 Grand Champion for demonstrating exceptional leadership in improving the lives of seniors in western Pennsylvania and nationally. It is the highest honor awarded by UPMC Senior Services.

“Dr. Resnick’s research has fundamentally changed the clinical care of older patients around the world. Through innovation and collaboration, he’s created specialized centers to evaluate the most difficult problems, trained others to do the same, and has investigated geriatric conditions that had fallen through the cracks,” said Deborah Brodine, president of UPMC Community Provider Services. “UPMC Senior Services is exceptionally proud to recognize him for such exemplary work on behalf of the seniors in western Pennsylvania.”

The awards will be presented October 26 at the annual UPMC Senior Services “Celebrating Senior Champions” Dinner and Auction at the Omni William Penn hotel.

Dr. Resnick founded the Aging Institute of UPMC Senior Services at the University of Pittsburgh, which is now one of the country’s top-funded aging research programs. His research led to a discovery of a new cause of incontinence, a syndrome that leads to significant disability, and helped develop new approaches to its diagnosis and treatment. These approaches also led to federal guidelines that have since been adopted by many other countries.

Additionally, Dr. Resnick has made major research contributions to other geriatric conditions, including osteoporosis, falls and delirium. Lessons from his research also enabled him to develop geriatric modules for primary care providers and help national urological and gynecological organizations develop training programs in geriatrics.

“This award is such a wonderful testament to the importance of geriatric care, as well as to the research we need to offer still better care tomorrow,” said Dr. Resnick. “It’s been an incredible privilege to have been able to do both and it is a real honor to receive this award.”

The UPMC Senior Services also will honor Operation Safety Net as its 2016 Community Champion. James S. Withers, MD, founder and CEO of Pittsburgh Mercy’s Operation Safety Net, will accept the award on behalf of the organization. Operation Safety Net supports the homeless of Pittsburgh, a growing segment of which are seniors, by delivering health care, case management, housing follow up, and other vital health and human services.

Elaine H. Berkowitz, DMD, will receive the 2016 Caregiver Champion award. Dr. Berkowitz practices geriatric and special needs dentistry in private homes, nursing homes, personal care homes, rehabilitation hospitals and general hospitals, bringing essential oral care to the home-bound, including residents at UPMC Canterbury Place.

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