The Scoop: A Publication of the University of Texas Medical School at Houston

Brain Awareness forum set for March 7

Brain Awareness Week poster

New surgical and technological advances in stroke diagnosis and treatment will be the focus of the 14th annual Public Forum for Brain Awareness Week moderated by a pioneer in stroke treatment, Dr. James Grotta, professor and chair of the Department of Neurology.

The free forum, hosted by the Neuroscience Research Center, will be held from 10:30 a.m. until noon, Saturday, March 7, in MSB 3.001. Experts will be available to answer questions. To register, call the Neuroscience Research Center at 713.500.5540 or e-mail nba-nrc@uth.tmc.edu.

Stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is interrupted by a blockage or a rupture in an artery, depriving brain tissue of oxygen. It is the third-leading cause of death behind heart disease and cancer. According to the American Stroke Association, nearly 800,000 Americans suffer a stroke each year — one every 40 seconds. On average, someone dies of stroke every three to four minutes.

Grotta, co-director of the Mischer Neuroscience Institute at Memorial Hermann – Texas Medical Center, participated in the first trials to investigate the clot-buster tPA and helped create one of the first stroke teams in the country. He is the chair of the Stroke Committee of the Southeast Texas Trauma Advisory Council, which was established as part of a 2005 Texas Legislature mandate to create a statewide stroke network.

A panel of experts will discuss key advances as well as the emotional, physical, social, and caregiver burden of stroke, how and why stroke risk varies in different ethnic groups, and how stroke can best be prevented.

Panel experts include Dr. Andrew Barreto, assistant professor of neurology; Dr. Nicole Gonzales, assistant professor of neurology; Dr. Dong Kim, professor and chair of the Department of Neurosurgery; and Dr. Sharon Ostwald, professor and Isla Carroll Turner Chair in Gerontology Nursing in the Center on Aging.

The Neuroscience Research Center also is hosting “Brain Night for Children” 6 - 8 p.m., Thursday, March 19, at the John P. McGovern Museum of Health and Medical Science, 1515 Hermann Drive. The event, which will present brain activities in a kid-friendly way, is free to children and their families.

-D. Mann Lake

Medical School launches stem cell study for acute stroke patients

Dr. Sean Savitz

Dr. Sean Savitz

A first-of-its-kind stem cell study to treat acute stroke victims is being launched by Medical School investigators.

The Phase I study, funded with a pilot grant from The National Institutes of Health, will use the patients’ own stem cells. Researchers will enroll 10 patients who have just suffered a stroke and are being treated in the Emergency Center at Memorial Hermann – Texas Medical Center. Physicians will obtain permission from the patient or patient’s surrogate.

“This will be our first attempt to look at the safety of using stem cells in acute stroke patients,” said Dr. Sean Savitz, assistant professor of neurology. “There’s a lot of promise behind this, but we want to do it in a slow, rigorous fashion. Because we are injecting them intravenously, these cells can disperse to lots of different parts of the body, and that’s why we’re looking at safety parameters.”

Stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is interrupted by a blockage or a rupture in an artery, depriving brain tissue of oxygen. It is the third-leading cause of death behind heart disease and cancer. According to the American Stroke Association, nearly 800,000 Americans suffer a stroke each year – one every 40 seconds. On average, someone dies of stroke every three to four minutes.

The stem cells will be harvested from the bone marrow in the iliac crest of the leg, then separated and returned to the patient within three to six hours. Because they are the patient’s own stem cells, rejection is not expected to be an issue.

“This study is the critical first step in translating laboratory work with stem cells into benefit for patients. If effective, this treatment could be helpful to a huge segment of stroke patients to reduce their disability,” said Dr. James Grotta, Roy M. and Phyllis Gough Huffington Distinguished Professor of Neurology and chair of the Department of Neurology. “We are fortunate here at UT Houston and the Texas Medical Center to have the resources needed to carry out this work, and to have attracted someone of Dr. Savitz’s caliber to lead this study.”

The clinical study builds on laboratory and animal research indicating that stem cells from bone marrow can migrate to the injured area of the brain and help repair the damage.

“Animal studies have shown that when you administer stem cells after stroke, the cells enhance the healing. We know that stem cells have some kind of guidance system and migrate to the area of injury,” Savitz said. “They’re not making new brain cells, but they may be enhancing the repair processes and reducing damage.”

A UT Medical School study involving acute brain-injured children using their own stem cells has been under way since 2006 at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital. Principal investigator of the study is Dr. Charles Cox, The Children's Fund, Inc. Distinguished Professor in Pediatric Surgery and Trauma. Co-investigator is Dr. James Baumgartner, research collaborator and a pediatric neurosurgeon at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital.

“It’s beneficial for this study that we have precedence. Dr. Cox and Dr. Baumgartner have been great in guiding me. That study has served as a model for us,” Savitz said.

Enrollment will begin mid-February. The study is only open to patients who are admitted to the Emergency Center at Memorial Hermann – TMC with symptoms of an immediate stroke.

-D. Mann Lake

CENTURY study looks at coronary heart disease therapy

Drs. Stefano Sdringola and K. Lance Gould

Drs. Stefano Sdringola and K. Lance Gould

The Medical School and Memorial Hermann - Texas Medical Center are collaborating on advanced heart treatment in the CENTURY Health Study.

The study, which starts Feb. 14, aims to compare current standard therapy for coronary heart disease (medications, invasive procedures, and regular doctors visits) guided by the conventional nuclear stress test (SPECT) with an advanced comprehensive therapy program of risk factors modification (medications, procedures as needed, with coaching on healthy lifestyle) guided by a newer stress test, positron emission tomography (PET).

Dr. Stefano Sdringola, Weatherhead Distinguished Chair in Heart Disease and associate professor of cardiovascular medicine, is the principal investigator with co-principal investigator, Dr. K. Lance Gould, Martin Bucksbaum Distinguished University Chair, professor of cardiovascular medicine and executive director, Weatherhead PET Center for Preventing and Reversing Atherosclerosis. The project is sponsored by The Weatherhead Foundation.

The goal is to help clarify two important questions in cardiovascular medicine:

  1. Is PET the accurate definitive non-invasive technique for determining which patients need revascularization and which patients can be medically managed?
  2. What are the additional benefits of intense lifestyle modification and optimal medical management over longterm five-year follow-up?

Participants must be over the age of 40 and have been referred for a SPECT. Those agreeing to the study will then have a free PET test and will be randomized into the SPECT and therapy group or the PET-guided comprehensive therapy. Those in the SPECT group will be seen by research study personnel once a year for five years, while those in the PET group will have clinic visits five times during the first year, then every six months for the five years of the study.

It is important to emphasize that the service offered by the CENTURY study program will complement and not substitute the optimal medical care provided by the referring physicians.

To enroll patients or to get more information about the study, please call the Century Study Hotline at 713.500.5200 or visit the Web site.

-D. Brown

TMC hosts National Postdoctoral Association meeting

National Postdoctoral Association logo

Along with the postdoctoral offices of Baylor, M. D. Anderson, Rice, UTMB, and the University of Houston, the UT Health Science Center Office of Postdoctoral Affairs will co-sponsor the Seventh National Postdoctoral Association (NPA) Annual Meeting March 27-29 in the Texas Medical Center.

The event will bring approximately 250 Ph.D.s and postdoctoral leaders to the Texas Medical Center — the first trip to Houston for most attendees.

“In the past, meetings were held back and forth, coast to coast, at the NIH, UC-San Francisco, and last year at Harvard Medical School,” said Leslie Beckman, coordinator of special programs for the UT Postdoctoral Office. “The local planning committee is thrilled to have this event on the Gulf Coast in the Texas Medical Center.”

The focus of the meeting is on career development for young investigators and training for administrators of offices that support postdoctoral training. There are workshops, plenary sessions, panel discussions, and a keynote address by Dr. Peter Doherty, Nobel Prize laureate and author of The Beginners Guide to Winning the Nobel Prize. One of the highlights of the meeting will be a Texas-style barbeque at the Institute for Molecular Medicine.

To register, visit the Web site . All UTHSC-H postdocs receive a 30 percent discount on registration fees, and Dean Giuseppe Colasurdo is sponsoring several postdocs at this meeting. The barbeque is open to all postdocs and faculty, and for those not registered for the conference, a limited number of tickets at $20 is available.

-D. Brown

AAMC accepting applications for TeamWorks! Program

AAMC TeamWorks! Program officials are accepting applications for its 2009-2010 program. AAMC member institution faculty and staff who are actively engaged in institutional teamwork initiatives are eligible for the seven-month program, which begins in August.

The program consists of a variety of workshops and offers participants an opportunity to enhance leadership skills and learn principles for effective teamwork. Groups of two or three team members are encouraged to apply. Forty applicants will be selected on the basis of institutional support, team diversity, and clarity of team charge. The deadline is May 2.

For more information, visit the Web site.

-AAMC

Runnells Lectureship set for March 25

Dr. William Barsan

Dr. William Barsan

Dr. William Barsan, professor and chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Michigan Health Systems, will present the Nancy and Clive Runnells Lectureship March 25.

Barsan will speak on “NETT: Neurological Emergencies Treatment Trials” at 8 a.m. in MSB 3.001.

Barsan’s clinical interests include emergency care for central nervous system diseases and cardiovascular diseases, and his research interests include stroke, brain injury, and cardiac arrest.

GSEC poster winner

Nancy Nabilsi, GSEC poster winner

Nancy Nabilsi, of the Department of Integrative Biology and Pharmacology, displays the first-place check while standing in front of her winning poster during the Graduate Student Education Committee Research Poster Competition Wednesday, Feb. 11, in the Leather Lounge.

 

 

Comments will be moderated and relate to this issue of Scoop only

Subscribe to Scoop

Events to Know

February 26

Microbiology and Molecular Genetics Seminar Series: Dr. David Lipman (director, National Center Biotechnology Information, NIH; Director, PubMed Central/Medline) presents “Evolution in Computational Biology.”
4 p.m., MSB 2.103. Reception to follow in MSB 1.180.

March 4

Family & Community Medicine Grand Rounds: Dr. Pablo Okhuysen, professor of internal medicine, presents “Prosthetic Device Infections.”
1 - 2 p.m., MSB 2.135.

March 5

Seminars on Applying Emerging Technologies to Your Research: Dr. Elmer Bernstam, assistant professor of health information sciences and internal medicine, presents “What Can CCTS Biomedical Informatics Do For Investigators?”, and Phillip Reeder, manager, system analyst services, SHIS, presents
“Data Mining with IB2B.”
Noon – 1 p.m., UTPB, Suite 1100.55.

Microbiology and Molecular Genetics Seminar Series: Dr. Judith Berman (University of Minnesota) presents “Genome dynamics in Candida albicans.”
4 p.m., MSB 2.103.

March 11

Family & Community Medicine Grand Rounds: Dr. Rodrigo Hasbun, associate professor of internal medicine, presents “Meningitis: An Evidence-Based Approach.”
1 – 2 p.m., MSB 2.135.

March 12

Microbiology and Molecular Genetics Seminar Series: Dr. Xuewen Pan, Ph.D. (Baylor College of Medicine) presents “Functional genomic tools and their applications.”
4 p.m., 3.301. Reception to follow in MSB 1.180.

March 18

Family & Community Medicine Grand Rounds: Dr. Gailen Marshall (U. of Mississippi) presents “Can Stress Really Kill You.”
1 – 2 p.m., MSB 2.135.

March 19

Seminars on Applying Emerging Technologies to Your Research: Dr. Frank Arnett, professor of internal medicine, presents “Genomic Studies in the Autoimmune Diseases in Scleroderma.”
Noon – 1 p.m., UTPB, Suite 1100.55.

March 26

Seminars on Applying Emerging Technologies to Your Research: Dr. Ponnada Narayana, professor of diagnostic and interventional imaging, presents “What Can the MRI Core Do For You?”
Noon – 1 p.m., UTPB, Suite 1100.55.

March 27

Center for Nursing Research Seminar Series: Dr. Charles Cleeland (M. D. Anderson) presents “New Directions in Symptom Research.”
Noon – 1 p.m., SON 508.

UTMost

Dr. Allan Katz, professor of obstetrics and gynecology; Dr. Keith Hoots, professor emeritus of hematology; and Dr. Stephen Larson, professor of anesthesiology, all were named Distinguished Physicians of Memorial Hermann – Texas Medical Center. To be considered for the honor, a doctor must have been credentialed with the hospital for more than 20 years and must be in the later years of their medical practice or have retired. They must have demonstrated true leadership, significant contributions, and dedication to Memorial Hermann – TMC.

Scoop is a weekly electronic newsletter providing timely information to the Medical School.

Submit event items or news tips for Scoop by noon on Thursday preceding the week of publication in which you would like your event or news to appear (seven days in advance).

To submit content for Scoop, send an e-mail to Scoop@uth.tmc.edu.

Giuseppe N. Colasurdo, M.D.
Dean

Darla Brown
Director of Communications

Carlos Gonzalez
Web Developer II