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Biological Sciences Division

Data-driven medicine

How scientists are using many of the same technologies that power fitness tracking, online shopping and video games to bring us closer to the vision of precision medicine

Dean’s Letter

Dear Colleagues,

T A global state of mind is essential to success in care and research at the University of Chicago.

his is a fascinating time for medical data science. Researchers have access to an unprecedented amount of clinical and genomic data and an array of highly advanced tools for mining and analyzing it. The compelling cover story by Rob Mitchum, PhD  ’07, describes how physicians and scientists at the University of Chicago are using these advanced technologies to bring us closer to the promise of precision medicine. You’ll read about an automated system that tracks a tumor sample through genetic testing, then generates a report that suggests (or rules out) specific treatments; a “virtual gut” for studying inflammatory bowel diseases built using an Argonne National Laboratory supercomputer; and an algorithm that predicts when a hospitalized patient is at risk of cardiac arrest. Yet, precision medicine is not just about personalized care. Rob, communications manager for the Computation Institute, a joint initiative of Argonne and UChicago that includes faculty and fellows from the Biological Sciences Division, examines the promise that data mining and analytics hold for predicting and preventing problems in population health, hospital operations and more. Even as we discover more about data and all that they can teach us, we as educators and researchers must remain diligent in learning from the people we serve. A feature story on our Center for Global Health (CGH) illustrates the power of collaboration to create effective community health solutions as well as an infrastructure for scholarly work. Susan Kiphart, a Chicago philanthropist, and her late husband, Richard, had already been doing years of philanthropic work in Ghana when they met CGH leaders Funmi Olopade, MD, and Sola Olopade, MD, MPH. The resulting close, collaborative relationships among individuals in the academic, public health and local communities — and those funding the work — have led to tremendous advances in human services and research. Says Sola, “People must have what I call ‘a global state of mind,’ where you don’t think you know everything, where you are open to the thought that some of the solutions to our problems might come from ‘out there.’” I strongly agree that a global state of mind is essential to success in care and research here at the University of Chicago. Faculty, students, residents, fellows and other colleagues from all over the world make invaluable contributions to the rich and exciting intellectual environment that we maintain. As an immigrant myself, who was allowed to come to the United States because I was fortunate enough to qualify for a green card, I have a deep personal sense of the critical role that international graduates play in health care. In this issue, you will meet two inspiring Pritzker School of Medicine students who came to America as children under trying circumstances, but are now realizing their calling to treat those in need — wherever they are. Pritzker’s connections to the world community are embodied by David Silverstein, MD  ’67, who plans to return to Chicago for his 50th Reunion this year. Dr. Silverstein has spent his entire career as a cardiologist in Kenya, and you will enjoy learning about his personal journey and the example that he sets for all of us.  

Kenneth S. Polonsky, MD The Richard T. Crane Distinguished Service Professor Dean of the Biological Sciences Division and the Pritzker School of Medicine Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs The University of Chicago



on the


Biological Sciences Division

SP RING 201 7

Data-driven medicine

The same technologies that power fitness tracking, online shopping and video games are bringing us closer to the vision of precision medicine. Rob Mitchum, PhD  ’07, explains how University of Chicago

scientists are applying highly advanced developments in cloud computing, data mining and computer simulation to generate new strategies for solving some of the most difficult challenges in health care.


How scientists are using many of the same technologies that power fitness tracking, online shopping and video games to bring us closer to the vision of precision medicine

Features 2 Trauma chief

17 Connecting the dots Physician and entrepreneur Ananth Natarajan, MD  ’96, launches engineering solutions for clinical practice.

Meet Selwyn Rogers Jr., MD, MPH, the founding director of UChicago Medicine’s new adult Level 1 Trauma Center, opening in 2018. 2

2 1 Global state of mind Partnership, philanthropy and a philosophy of reciprocity transform health in communities around the world.

34 Long journey For two MS4s, the immigrant experience is shaping their future in medicine.

1 8 Into Africa David Silverstein, MD  ’67, reflects on forty years caring for patients and training physicians in Kenya. 2

Departments Letter from the Dean Midway News 3 Architecture firm chosen for new cancer hospital

BSD News

Pritzker News

26 Researchers show the artistic side of their science — and Medicine on the Midway joins the adult coloring trend

32 Medical students help UChicago Medicine elevate LGBTQ health care


6 Strengthening the influence of science

36 Match Day 2017

29 Reconstructing ancient genes in fruit flies for clues to evolution and adaptation

38 Your News



on the

Spring 2017 Volume 70, No. 1 A publication of the University of Chicago Medicine and Biological Sciences Division. Medicine on the Midway is published for friends, alumni and faculty of the University of Chicago Medicine, Biological Sciences Division and the Pritzker School of Medicine. Email us at Write us at Editor, Medicine on the Midway The University of Chicago Medicine 950 E. 61st St., WSSC 325 Chicago, IL 60637

The University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine and Biological Sciences Executive Leadership Kenneth S. Polonsky, MD, the Richard T. Crane Distinguished Service Professor, Dean of the University of Chicago Biological Sciences Division and the Pritzker School of Medicine, and Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs for the University of Chicago T. Conrad Gilliam, PhD, the Marjorie I. and Bernard A. Mitchell Distinguished Service Professor, Dean for Basic Science, Biological Sciences Division Sharon O’Keefe, President of the University of Chicago Medical Center Holly J. Humphrey, MD  ’83, the Ralph W. Gerard Professor in Medicine, Dean for Medical Education, Pritzker School of Medicine

Editorial Committee Chair Chris Albanis, AB  ’96, MD  ’00 Lampis Anagnostopoulos, SB  ’57, MD  ’61 Hannah Brechka Arnold Calica, SM  ’61, MD  ’75 J. Palmer Greene, MS2 Marianna Johnson Matt Present, MS2 Jerrold Seckler, MD  ’68 Coleman Seskind, AB  ’55, SB  ’56, SM/MD  ’59 Jack Stockert, AB  ’05, MBA  ’10, MD  ’10 University of Chicago Medicine Marketing and Communications William “Skip” Hidlay, Vice President, Chief Communications and Marketing Officer Anna Madrzyk, Editor Gretchen Rubin, Associate Editor


39 In Memoriam

Editorial Contributors Teresa Barker Lori Brooks Tanya R. Cochran John Easton Laura Ramos Hegwer Ashley Heher Ellen McGrew Rob Mitchum, PhD’07 Gretchen Rubin David Rudd Rebecca Silverman Anne Stein Matt Wood Molly Woulfe UChicago News

Photo Contributors Jim Haba Arnie Kanter Robert Kozloff Jean Lachat Mark L. Lopez Andrew Nelles Joel Wintermantle Nancy Wong Kentaro Yamada Medical and Biological Sciences Alumni Association Pritzker School of Medicine Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library Design Wilkinson Design




Midway News


Rogers leads initiative to expand trauma care on the South Side

center — in addition to providing outstanding care to victims of trauma — will be positioned to make important contributions to our understanding of violence as a public health problem and to develop novel approaches to slowing the epidemic of violence that is plaguing our city.” Kenneth S. Polonsky, MD, Dean of the Biological Sciences Division and the Pritzker School of Medicine



elwyn O. Rogers Jr., MD, MPH, a top surgeon and public health expert with 16 years of trauma care experience, has been named to lead the University of Chicago Medicine’s development of the South Side’s only adult Level 1 Trauma Center, scheduled to open in 2018.


Yvette Moyo, publisher of the South Shore Current magazine, greeted Rogers at a community reception to welcome him.

As chief of the section for trauma and acute care surgery and founding director of the University of Chicago Medicine trauma center, Rogers is building an interdisciplinary team of specialists to treat patients who suffer injury from life-threatening events. The team will work with leaders in the city’s trauma network and at other hospitals to expand trauma care on the South Side.

“Trauma from violence needs to be addressed through a public health lens. That is, not only looking at victims of trauma as individual patients — as we often do in the context of the patient-doctor relationship — but also looking at the social determinants of trauma as a disease.” Selwyn O. Rogers, MD, MPH


“Under Dr. Rogers’ leadership, our trauma


“Dr. Rogers will provide leadership to ensure clinical excellence and growth for the medical center, as well as operational leadership for trauma services,” said Kenneth S. Polonsky, MD, executive vice president for medical affairs at the University of Chicago. Rogers comes to Chicago from the University of Texas Medical Branch, where he had been vice president and chief medical officer since 2014. Prior to that, he held leadership positions in surgery at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. A graduate of Harvard Medical School, he has a master’s degree in public health from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. His clinical and research interests have focused on the health care needs of underserved populations. While at Harvard, Rogers helped to launch the Center for Surgery and Public Health, whose mission is to understand the nature, quality and utilization of surgical care nationally and internationally. He has published numerous articles relating to health disparities and the impact of race and ethnicity on surgical Selwyn O. Rogers Jr., MD, MPH outcomes. To allow him to continue work in this area, Rogers also has been appointed executive vice president for community health engagement. In this capacity he will oversee the Urban Health Initiative, the primary civic and community engagement arm of UChicago Medicine. The University of Chicago Medicine’s adult trauma services will include the current emergency department system and supplement its existing Level 1 pediatric trauma program and the Burn and Complex Wound Center. These programs will come together under the newly established section of trauma and acute care surgery.

Architect chosen for new cancer hospital



An architectural rendering envisions the lobby of Mitchell Hospital after its transformation into a cancer hospital.

he University of Chicago Medicine has chosen the Chicago office of architecture firm Perkins + Will, one of the preeminent leaders in health care design, to transform the Bernard A. Mitchell Hospital into a cancer hospital of the future. The award-winning firm was involved in the creation of preliminary concepts for the new Mitchell facility, as part of the team that prepared

The University of Chicago Medicine contributed $373 million in fiscal 2015 to address the pressing health needs of South Side residents and provide other assistance to the community.

Orland Park, South Loop clinics open


he University of Chicago Medicine recently opened two major outpatient clinics as part of an ambitious expansion responding to the growing demand for the academic medical center’s services. The Center for Advanced Care at South Loop, located in a busy retail market in Chicago, provides primary care, women’s health, orthopaedics, urology, PHOTO BY JEAN LACHAT




Read more about the many programs and services we provide in our 2015-2016 Community Benefit Report.

the Certificate of Need application for the new cancer hospital, emergency department and Level 1 Trauma Center. “We’re excited to work with the University of Chicago Medicine to deliver to Chicago, and the world, a best-in-class cancer hospital,” said Ralph Johnson, lead designer for the project and the global design director of Perkins + Will. The firm has been a key development partner with such global leaders in cancer treatment and research as Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, MD Anderson, Memorial SloanKettering, Baylor University and Duke University. Perkins + Will’s high-profile projects in Chicago include Rush University Medical Center’s New Hospital Tower, for which it won the 2014 American Institute of Architects (AIA) National Healthcare Design Award. The Center for Cancer Care is expected to open in 2020. While Mitchell will be the signature “front door” of the cancer center, the long-term plan includes additional investments that will incorporate translational research, diagnostic and supportive care services, and enhanced patient flow for ease of access and convenience.

weight management and minor surgical procedures. The $61 million Center for Advanced Care at Orland Park, the medical center’s largest off-site facility, offers primary care, women’s health, orthopaedics, cardiac care, diabetes care and oncology services. Both locations feature a patient-friendly operating model, which includes extended daytime and weekend hours, same-day appointments in some specialties, convenient parking and self check-in kiosks. In other key projects, UChicago Medicine completed a merger with Ingalls Health System, which has outpatient locations in the South and Southwest suburbs, in October. UChicago Medicine also is growing its regional network of physicians across Chicago. Imaging technology at the Center for Advanced Care at Orland Park includes a CT scanner. Private infusion suites and a linear accelerator support oncology services at the outpatient facility, which opened in December. MEDICINE ON THE MIDWAY



The Uplifted Artist Kentaro Yamada seeks to contribute something positive to the world through his

photography project, The Uplifted. Yamada highlights “joy, accomplishment and success” through portraits of leaders and visionaries levitating objects that represent their life’s work. Several UChicago physicians and researchers are among the first 100 subjects captured for the project. PHOTOS BY KENTARO YAMADA

Midway News


Melissa Gilliam, MD, MPH Ellen H. Block Professor in Health Justice Professor of Obstetrics/Gynecology and Pediatrics Pediatric and adolescent gynecologist Melissa Gilliam, MD, MPH, tackles barriers to teen sexual and reproductive health through youth empowerment and novel interventions such as those designed within the Game Changer Chicago (GCC) Design Lab. Gilliam elevates one of the board games at the GCC Design Lab on UChicago’s campus.



" I love the way Kentaro uses static imagery to animate objects that define his subjects' occupations and passions." David T. Rubin, MD’94

Kathryn Colby, MD, PhD Louis Block Professor Chair, Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science Kathryn Colby, MD, PhD, is pioneering a treatment called Descemet stripping for Fuchs endothelial dystrophy, the most common cause for corneal transplantation in this country. Boosting her work on FED is the confocal laser ophthalmoscope, which gives finely detailed images of the cornea’s cellular structure.

Visit The Uplifted exhibit on the bridge between Bernard A. Mitchell Hospital and the Duchossois Center for Advanced Medicine until the end of May.

David T. Rubin, MD ’94 Joseph P. Kirsner Professor of Medicine Section Chief, Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition David T. Rubin, MD’94, uplifts a high-definition colonoscope in the Center for Care and Discovery endoscopy suite. While performing chromoendoscopy, Rubin enhances images of the colon with blue dye to give greater detail and to help identify high-risk lesions for cancer prevention.


Photographer Kentaro Yamada at The Uplifted display at the University of Chicago Medicine.





Midway News

Pritzker alum endows medical school scholarship program with estate gift


A Pritzker student practices during a clinical skills class.

A physician who graduated from the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine and his spouse are bequeathing their estate to the medical school, creating a new scholarship they hope will encourage future alumni to “pay it forward.” The anonymous gift, valued at $12.3 million, will become the largest endowed scholarship fund at Pritzker. This gift comes as a result of the school’s Legacy Challenge, a campaign to increase student scholarships. “This generous gift will ensure — in perpetuity — that bright, deserving students who want to pursue degrees in medicine will be able to do so regardless of their financial ability,” said Kenneth S. Polonsky,  

MD, Dean of the Biological Sciences Division and the Pritzker School of Medicine. “It’s a testament to the donors’ deep connection to Pritzker and their desire that future generations of physicians are able to come here and thrive.” The physician attended Pritzker thanks to financial aid provided by the school and arranged by the late Joseph Ceithaml, SB  ’37, PhD  ’41, Pritzker’s dean of students from 1951 until 1986. Without the scholarship, he said he would have been unable to attend the renowned medical school. “The donors feel privileged to be able to ‘pay it forward’ to a school that gave them so much,” said Holly J. Humphrey, MD  ’83, Pritzker’s dean for medical education. “They hope this gift inspires current and future alumni to give back to Pritzker and ensure its legacy of medical education.”


Scientists confront challenges to communicating facts “ The conversation that scientists ought to be having is, how do we get our voices out there more often so that we can amplify the voice of science?” Olufunmilayo I. Olopade, MD


Olufunmilayo I. Olopade, MD, spoke during a panel discussion about focusing on truth in a time of uncertainty.


hether it’s fake news, alternative facts or post-truth, debates around the meaning of objective facts and truth dominate the national conversation. Many scientists are veterans of such battles, arguing during the past decade for the validity of research on climate change, vaccines and genetically modified crops. Such challenges only appear to be growing, prompting the American Academy of Arts and Sciences to bring together scientists for a discussion on re-establishing the authority of science and strengthening its influence. Earlier this year, the University of Chicago hosted “Communicating Scientific Facts in an Age of Uncertainty” as part of the academy’s ongoing initiative to address the relationship between the scientific community, policymakers and the public. The event centered around a panel of faculty from medicine, the social sciences and astrophysics grappling with how to convey the complexity and debate inherent in the scientific method for

audiences that prefer simple and declarative solutions. “We need to understand the worldview of the people who are rejecting science-based public policy,” said Eric Isaacs, PhD, University of Chicago executive vice president for research, innovation and national laboratories. “What are their concerns? What are their fears? And what can we offer to them that will meet their needs?” Panelist Olufunmilayo I. Olopade, MD, the Walter L. Palmer Distinguished Service Professor of Medicine and Human Genetics, and other speakers identified the proliferation of information online and human psychology as factors in the increasingly shaky ground for truth. The Internet creates extra competition for scientific thought, while feeding the innate tendency of people to accept ideas that match their own beliefs. Despite the challenges, the speakers insisted that scientists must engage more in conversations — both online and offline — to promote critical thinking and push back against non-scientific reasoning. “Scientists can’t take it for granted that, because we have done the research, everyone is going to accept it as gospel truth,” Olopade said. — Rob Mitchum, PhD'07




Gajewski honored with Outstanding Investigator Award PHOTO BY NANCY WONG


Thomas Gajewski, MD, PhD, is a pioneer in the field of cancer immunotherapy.

homas Gajewski, AB  ’84, PhD  ’89, MD  ’91, has been awarded an Outstanding Investigator Award by the National Cancer Institute. The National Institutes of Health award, which supports scientists who demonstrate remarkable productivity in cancer research, guarantees $600,000 in direct costs per year for seven years. Gajewski, professor in the Departments of Pathology, Medicine and the Ben May Department for Cancer Research and director of the immunology and cancer program at the University of Chicago Medicine, is a pioneer in the field of cancer immunotherapy, one of the most promising approaches to cancer treatment in decades. “The Outstanding Investigator Award pulls together a number of separate but related projects from our lab and blends them into one massive,

cohesive undertaking,” Gajewski said. “Such funding is necessary for our lab and many others to make continual progress toward treating cancer using the host immune system. It inspires us to be even more aggressive, to move the field forward as broadly and quickly as we can.” Gajewski’s team studies new ways to overcome a tumor’s ability to resist immunotherapy, with a focus on drugs that help the immune system, especially T cells, gain access to tumor sites and stay functional so they can destroy cancer cells. Their approach is multidimensional. “We have treated a large number of melanoma patients using immunotherapies,” he said, “and we now have a great deal of data about the interactions between a patient’s tumors and his or her immune system, pointing toward additional new targets for therapy.”

Janet Rowley elected to Women’s Hall of Fame


he late Janet Rowley, LAB ’42, PhB ’44, SB ’46, MD ’48, was among 10 prominent women recently inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame. A pioneer in connecting the development of cancer with genetic abnormalities, Rowley made a series of discoveries, beginning in the 1970s, which demonstrated that specific chromosomal changes caused certain types of leukemia. Awards for Rowley’s work included the Albert Lasker Clinical Medical Research Award, National Medal of Science, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American

Association for Cancer Research, the Japan Prize for Healthcare and Medical Technology and the Albany Medical Center Prize. She was an elected member of numerous scientific and honorary societies, including the National Academy of Sciences. Among the other 2017 inductees to the National Women’s Hall of Fame are playwright and activist Lorraine Hansberry, journalist Clare Booth Luce and animal scientist Temple Grandin.


Former Dean reflects on a half-century in medicine

Samuel Hellman, MD, the A. N. Pritzker Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in the Department of Radiation and Cellular Oncology, returns to campus to give the 28th annual Lowell T. Coggeshall Memorial Lecture on May 16.

Samuel Hellman, MD, the former Dean of the Biological Sciences Division and the Pritzker School of Medicine, “cannot remember a time when I did not want to become a doctor.” Cancer research is glad he felt that calling. A list of career highlights includes roles as co-editor of seven editions of a leading cancer textbook, physician-in-chief at the nation’s top cancer center and chairman of radiation therapy at the Harvard Medical School. He has also published academic manuscripts, editorials and essays in medical journals and general magazines. Now, select works plus a few unpublished pieces have been compiled into a book: “Learning

While Caring: Reflections on a Half-Century of Cancer Practice, Research, Education and Ethics” (Oxford University Press, January 2017). The title, “Learning While Caring,” is instructive. Physicians must continue their professional education Hellman argues. “Medicine is a learned profession,” he writes, “but perhaps more important, it is a learning profession.” The book includes 31 essays and commentaries, presented in sections including medical ethics and learning, academic medicine and perceptions of cancer. His pithy advice, acquired during a 50-year revolution in biology and medicine, invites continued grappling with practical, philosophical and societal issues. — John Easton





Deep learning Parallel to the tech industry, scientists are using new ways of working with data to develop personalized therapies for cancer and sepsis, and prevent cardiac arrests and disease outbreaks.

Jonathan Ozik, PhD, left, and Charles “Chick” Macal, PhD, agent-based modeling researchers at Argonne National Laboratory, developed a detailed model of Chicago that has been used to study the spread of MRSA and simulate a flu epidemic.







lmost imperceptibly, advances in data and computation have changed our daily lives. To find the fastest route to work, you use an app that gathers live traffic data from thousands of users. A wristband keeps track of how far you’ve walked, and a diet app tells you whether you’ve earned those extra calories of dessert. And to wind down the day, another service recommends a show you’ll probably like and streams it to your television. Behind the scenes of these now-routine applications are highly advanced developments in cloud computing, machine learning, data mining and computer simulation. Parallel to the tech industry, physicians and researchers at the University of Chicago are working to apply these same innovations in the hospital and the laboratory to improve patient care and our knowledge of health and biology. Already, many of the same technologies that power online shopping, fitness tracking, video games and self-driving cars are changing the practice of medicine. Scientists are exploring the potential of these tools to generate new strategies for treating cancer and sepsis as well as preventing cardiac arrest and disease outbreaks. New ways of working with data promise to bring us closer to the vision of precision medicine and to solutions for some of the oldest and most difficult medical challenges. “It is such an exciting and amazing time to be working in medical data science,” said Samuel Volchenboum, MD, PhD, MS, associate professor of pediatrics and director of the Center for Research Informatics (CRI). “The deluge of data and torrents of information from all corners of medicine and health care are overwhelming traditional analysis pipelines and storage and transfer mechanisms. By bringing together data scientists, clinician investigators and engineers, we are in an incredible and unique position to solve some of the most difficult problems facing health care.”

Center for Research Informatics Director Samuel L. Volchenboum, MD, PhD, MS, checks his GPS training watch during a run. Volchenboum and other researchers are applying the technology behind fitness trackers and other tools to improve patient care.

“ By bringing together data scientists, clinician investigators and engineers, we are in an incredible and unique position to solve some of the most difficult problems facing health care.” Samuel Volchenboum, MD, PhD, MS




Recommended for you


y now, most of us are used to the uncannily accurate recommendations served up by online stores and streaming services. To generate these personalized picks, algorithms combine your browsing, listening and viewing history with those of similar users, looking for things others enjoyed that you have yet to try. By putting your taste and purchases in the context of a broader population of people, the process known as “machine learning” makes better predictions about what you’d like. While the stakes are much higher, the concept behind personalized medicine follows a similar principle — combining a patient’s information with results from similar cases to find the likely best

SIMPL tracks each tumor sample through more than 100 steps while it is screened for cancer-causing mutations, then generates a report that can suggest or rule out a specific treatment for each patient. treatment. The approach has particular relevance for cancers, which can be triggered by a multitude of genetic mutations, some of which have proven, targeted therapies. But the enormous number of factors involved in the initiation and progression of cancer, combined with incomplete data on the efficacy of treatments, raises the computational bar. Recognizing the potential and challenges of this task, the UChicago Medicine Department of Pathology formed the Division of Genomic and Molecular Pathology in 2013. Pathologists are at the center of the quest for personalized medicine, as they collect the critical information about patient tumors used in later decision-making. But as known mutations and



test panels rapidly multiply, this initial step becomes more complex and data-heavy. Working with the Center for Research Informatics’ bioinformatics group, the molecular pathology core developed SIMPL (System for Informatics in the Molecular Pathology Laboratory), an automated pipeline for handling the more than 100 steps that each tumor sample passes through while it is screened for cancer-causing gene mutations. What was once a cluttered spreadsheet is now a sleek dashboard, tracking the sample through the different genetic tests and assays, then generating a report that can suggest or rule out specific treatments for the patient. “The ultimate goal is to support personalized medicine initiatives,” said Jeremy Segal, MD, PhD, assistant professor of pathology. “Because each patient and each cancer is different, we need to figure out, based on the genetics of each person’s cancer, how we might treat them and what information we might be able to give them.” The SIMPL interface can also be adapted to coordinate complex multi-hospital collaborations, particularly around rare childhood cancers that lack sufficient data to discover new therapies. One such effort, the Genomic Assessment Improves Novel Therapy (GAIN) Consortium, led by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, will use SIMPL to coordinate sample collection, genetic analysis, and knowledge generation/ aggregation for pediatric solid tumors and blood cancers at more than 20 medical centers. “The GAIN platform facilitates and automates the query of several databases for information and annotations on genomic variants and then makes it easy for pediatric molecular pathologists to analyze and report on the significant findings,” Volchenboum said. “This ultimately allows the physician to make an informed decision about treatment. It really is changing the way in which this type of important clinical work is done.”

Scaling up cancer research data,” Grossman said. “We’ve been happy to see our community develop tools that allow these kinds of discoveries to be made on software applications that run on researchers’ desktop computers, with the needed data streaming from the GDC in real time.” But data is only half the story. Fulfilling the promise of personalized medicine will also require powerful computation, beyond even the level of today’s most powerful supercomputers. As part of the Exascale Computing Project, a Department of Energy initiative to push the frontier of supercomputer speed to one quintillion (or a billion billion) calculations per second, researchers at UChicago and Argonne National Laboratory will help extract clinically relevant discoveries from the huge and

Jeremy Segal, MD, PhD




urrently, only a small minority of cancers has a known relationship between mutation and treatment that can inform today’s clinical decisions. The University of Chicago is at the epicenter of the search for new cancer targets and therapies in the massive — and rapidly growing — data of the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The Genomic Data Commons (GDC), led by Robert Grossman, PhD, the Frederick H. Rawson Professor in Medicine and the College and chief research informatics officer for the Biological Sciences Division, launched in June 2016 with an announcement by Vice President Joe Biden. In the months since, the GDC has expanded to hold over five petabytes of data, accessed by more than 1,500 users a day. The GDC unlocks the potential of the NCI’s vast archive of genomic and clinical data. Because these datasets have grown too large for most laboratories to download or analyze, the GDC provides a centralized and standardized repository and advanced tools so that researchers can work remotely. By working with this extensive data, scientists can find subtle cancerrelated genetic effects and probe whether various combinations of drugs might be effective for particular cancer subtypes.

“ The ultimate goal is to support personalized medicine initiatives.”

Since the launch of the GDC, Grossman has also led the development of a new commons for cancer data called the Blood Profiling Atlas for Cancer (BloodPAC), which will be a home for liquid biopsy data with the goal of accelerating the discovery of new biomarkers. Future projects will apply the data commons concept to other conditions, such as psychological disorders and traumatic brain injuries. “We’re trying to change the way scientific discoveries are made by democratizing access to this large-scale

rapidly growing landscape of cancer data. The CANcer Distributed Learning Environment, or CANDLE, will develop “deep learning” methods” — similar to those used to train self-driving cars — on clinical, experimental and molecular data in the hope of finding new hypotheses, drug targets and treatments for different types of cancers. “It’s a huge computational problem,” said principal investigator Rick Stevens, PhD, associate laboratory director for computing, environment and life sciences at Argonne and professor of computer science at UChicago. “We have lots of data — millions of millions of experiments and expression data from 20,000 patients. But the models we need are still an open question. Once we train and develop the models, clinics can deploy them on relatively small systems and start using models to predict which drugs to give to a given patient.”

Rick Stevens, PhD, above, is working with University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory researchers on a project to extract clinically relevant discoveries from the vast amount of cancer data. Robert Grossman, PhD, talks with Vice President Joseph Biden at the Genomic Data Commons launch in June 2016, far left. The GDC now holds more than five petabytes of data and is accessed by 1,500 users a day.




Special agents

Y Gary An, MD, built a “virtual gut” for studying inflammatory bowel diseases using the Argonne National Laboratory petascale supercomputer to simulate three feet of colon at a 10-micron scale.

et even the current expanse of cancer data may not be enough. Because clinical research is expensive and slow, the ability to carefully test new therapies and hypotheses in human patients and then refine them further is a major bottleneck for medical advancement. One solution under development by scientists at the Computation Institute (CI) — a joint initiative of UChicago and Argonne — looks to a method used regularly by films and video games: agent-based simulation. When creating hordes of computer-generated combatants in an epic movie battle or the automated characters that fill a game’s open world, it would be cost and time prohibitive to manually animate or direct each individual. Instead, programmers create


Researchers at the Computation Institute are applying a method used in films and video games — agent-based simulation —  to biological systems and disease with the goal of making individualized decisions about therapy.



reproducible “agents,” which behave according to simple rules, such as “when near an enemy soldier, attack.” When multiplied thousands of times, these automatons can produce incredibly complex, realistic and, occasionally, unexpected behavior. Gary An, MD, professor of surgery and a CI senior fellow, applies these same techniques to study biological systems and disease. Trained as a trauma surgeon, An first became interested in modeling the complex process of sepsis, the dangerous runaway inflammation that can set in after an injury or medical procedure. To study the process, he built agent-based models of how the immune system responds to tissue damage, assigning behaviors to each cell based on findings from scientific literature. With this model, An could recreate the process of sepsis and test different proposed treatments for their efficacy in stopping the inflammation. Subsequently, An worked with University of Chicago Medicine clinicians on building similar models for ulcerative colitis, breast cancer and necrotizing enterocolitis. He built a “virtual gut” for studying inflammatory bowel diseases, using the Argonne petascale supercomputer Mira to simulate three feet of colon at a 10-micron scale. Now he’s looking at more abstract exploratory models to help fill out the missing clinical data needed to make significant strides in personalized medicine. “We need simulation to get the scale of data we need for deep learning,” An said. “By borrowing simulation and modeling methods from climate and astronomy studies and applying them to biology, we can find the range of possible disease outcomes and responses to treatment, then plot each individual patient within that range and make individualized decisions about therapy.” Other UChicago and Argonne scientists are using agent-based models to probe higher-order complexities of health care. John Fahrenbach, PhD, a data engineer with the University of Chicago Medicine Center for Healthcare Delivery Science and Innovation, is working with Thomas Spiegel, MD, and administrator Garrett Larance on modeling the hospital’s emergency department to find bottlenecks that slow patient care. Similarly, An and Fahrenbach are building a hospital-wide model to study ripple effects across units, including how the addition of a


trauma center or an influenza outbreak could affect operations in the emergency department, surgical suites, the ICU and inpatient units. “Agent-based modeling allows us to ask: as we grow as a health system, how will that affect our inpatient volume? For example, how will increased patient volumes in Orland Park affect ER wait times in Hyde Park?” Fahrenbach said. “It’s a phenomenal tool to help hospital operations with these really challenging questions they need to answer for us to thrive.” Agent-based models are also a powerful tool for studying public health, capable of simulating the spread of disease across thousands or even millions of simulated individuals. Working with researchers from the Department of Public Health Sciences, Jonathan Ozik, PhD, Charles “Chick” Macal, PhD, Nicholson Collier, PhD, and the Complex Adaptive Systems group at Argonne developed a detailed model of Chicago, called chiSIM. Using building and census data, the nearly 3 million citizens of Chicago can be represented in geographic space and trained to behave normally — going to work, school, the park or even jail. Originally created to study the spread of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), the platform has also been used to simulate epidemics of influenza, Ebola virus disease, and HIV in the city, and test out different strategies for slowing or isolating infections. But the model can also be used to study more positive transmissions as well, such as the spread of information about local health resources distributed to patients as part of the CommunityRx program, led by Stacy Tessler Lindau, MD, MA, associate professor of obstetrics/gynecology and medicine. By simulating how this information migrates from study participants to family and friends, Lindau’s team can better assess the full impact of their work. “This approach allows us to move from understanding the mechanisms through which the CommunityRx intervention produces better health and health care to predicting the impact of the intervention in different settings and conditions,” Lindau said. “The simulation model will allow us to present CommunityRx to organizations and leaders in other cities and demonstrate quantitatively the potential impact of the intervention for their clients or residents. There’s just no way to do that with a traditional model.”

A statistical crystal ball


he most common purpose of data mining is predicting the future. Investors want to know what stocks are going to spike or tank, stores anticipate what products their customers will want to buy and sports teams search for the next breakout player. These industries use statistical techniques to comb through large datasets and find new insights and predictive formulas. The potential of this prognostication in medicine is obvious: for virtually any illness, earlier diagnosis and treatment improve outcomes. But until the recent acceptance of electronic medical records, health care lacked the data and mechanisms to replicate the advances of other industries. Since the transition to electronic records, UChicago Medicine has ensured that the data collected will benefit both current and future patients, fueling research efforts to improve care. The Clinical Research Data Warehouse (CRDW), maintained by the CRI and designed and built by Timothy Holper, SM  ’09, MA, now holds rich information from roughly 800,000 patients, available to researchers interested in datadriven medical advances. Early uses of this resource are already making an impact in critical care, while machine learning techniques are giving clinicians valuable early warnings. More than 200,000 in-hospital cardiac arrests occur every year in American hospitals. These seemingly sudden events represent one of the most difficult challenges in hospital care, resulting in high mortality rates and severe strain on critical care personnel and resources. Since the 1990s, clinicians have tried

Stacy Tessler Lindau, MD, MA, participated in a forum on data-driven approaches to urban issues, including health care. Lindau and her team use a simulation model to predict the impact of health interventions in the community.

continued on page 15




Data collection: home edition

Physicians have long bemoaned

In an ongoing study, Rubin is testing the

hear 30 million fewer words than their

their lack of information from the

reliability of such data, using both Fitbit

peers by fourth grade, which correlated

99.9 percent of time that patients

wristbands and a specially designed app

with decreased academic success.

spend outside of the clinic. Many of

that allows patients to easily assess sleep

Suskind’s team helps close that gap

the lifestyle changes necessary to lead a

quality, pain and other measures each

by sending families home with a word

healthy life can’t be measured during a

day. Once validated, these data could

pedometer, a “Fitbit for talking” worn

yearly checkup, and patient self-reporting

help study regional and environmental

by a child, which counts the number

on diet, exercise and other daily habits is

influences on IBD, and on an individual

of words spoken near the child for

often flawed.

level, customize treatments.

16-hour periods.

But as a new wave of devices and

“The best way to personalize medicine

Using a platform built by the Center for

smartphone apps popularize the idea of

in 2017, at least in my field, is to use the

Research Informatics, TMW home visitors

“the quantified self,” UChicago Medicine

patient as their own control,” Rubin said.

can generate a report on the number of

physicians are finding inventive ways to

“So by using monitors or biosensors to

words registered by the device, incorporat-

use these new data streams to improve

track what’s going on with a patient’s

ing the data into their recommendations

patient care.

disease, you will also be able to adjust their

for parents.

When gastroenterologist David Rubin, MD’94, the Joseph B. Kirsner Professor of Medicine, noticed how many of his patients

therapy in a smart way to get them better, and to keep them better over the long term.”

the families to see their numbers,” Suskind said. “Many of us haven’t actually thought

with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

Another piece of home technology

about how much we talk and interact

were wearing Fitbit fitness trackers, it

drives the research of the Thirty Million

with our children. After you’ve gotten the

sparked an idea. Could data collected

Words (TMW) Initiative, a child cognitive

feedback, you can gauge it better. The

passively on activity at home, at work

development effort led by Dana Suskind,

point is a mindfulness not only about how

and everywhere in between, help

MD, professor of surgery and pediatrics.

important your interaction is, but how

patients monitor their health and

A 1995 study found that some children

much you’re doing.”

prevent flare-ups of the disease?


“It’s very inspiring and motivational for


“ It can’t get much better than predicting illness before it happens.” Nelson Sanchez-Pinto, MD, MBI

continued from page 13

to predict cardiac arrest in advance, relying upon simple vital signs thresholds or calculations that can be manually calculated by on-duty staff. But many of these scoring systems could only anticipate cardiac arrest shortly before it occurred, and even the best produced too many false alarms. Using the CRDW, UChicago Medicine’s Dana Edelson, MD  ’01, MS  ’07, and Matthew Churpek, MD, MPH, PhD  ’14, both assistant professors of medicine, sought to use machine learning methods to develop a better early warning score for cardiac arrest. The result, called eCART, is an algorithm that uses vital signs, lab results and demographic data to calculate a real-time risk score of cardiac arrest for each patient. Testing the algorithm on data from UChicago Medicine and NorthShore HealthSystem hospitals, the researchers found that they could improve the lead time for cardiac arrest predictions from minutes to hours — even days. “We started by aggregating large sums of data that hospitals didn’t have previously,” Edelson said. “Then we created a model with new analytics commonly used in the world of business and finance, but not yet used in health care, and built it into the clinical workflow so that people could use it in real time. The combination of those elements created a really powerful tool for predicting who’s going to deteriorate in the hospital.” For the past two years, UChicago Medicine critical care nurses have used eCART in their daily workflow, with software that updates in real time for each patient. Nurses view a constantly refreshed dashboard of each patient’s current score, seeing different symbols

representing current level of risk, or looking at how the score has changed over time. When the score passes a certain threshold, rapid response team members are notified through the electronic record or by pager. Together, these warnings facilitate earlier application of preventive measures — a possible contributor to the recent decline of in-hospital cardiac arrest at the medical center.

The success of eCART has inspired efforts to develop similarly data-driven early warning scores for other critical events, such as respiratory failure, acute kidney injury, or pulmonary embolism. Sepsis is a particularly ripe target for data mining, as the excessive inflammatory response to infection is very difficult to anticipate and treat, with extremely heterogeneous outcomes. By knowing who is at elevated risk of sepsis and starting them on antibiotics and fluids as early as possible, clinicians will be able to save lives. “In critical illness, it’s pretty well-known dogma that the sooner you detect and treat things, the better patients are going to be,” said Nelson Sanchez-Pinto, MD, MBI, assistant professor of pediatrics. “It can’t get much better than predicting illness before it happens.” Sanchez-Pinto and other UChicago researchers are also working with CRI data scientists such as Anoop Mayampurath, PhD, on using the CRDW

and additional data sources such as genomics, proteomics and the microbiome to find new, more targeted treatments for sepsis and infection. Using data to look back and compare patients with positive and negative outcomes, researchers hope to find the biological factors that explain high or low risk and exploit them to create new treatment strategies. “The concept here is not only detecting who’s at high risk, but also why they are high risk, and to help us develop tailored interventions that we can then test and see if they make a difference in the long-term

Matthew Churpek, MD, MPH, PhD’14, and Dana Edelson, MD’01, MS’07, developed an algorithm that uses vital signs, lab results and demographic data to calculate a real-time risk score of cardiac arrest for a patient in the hospital. The eCART dashboard, below left, is constantly refreshed.





outcomes of those patients,” Sanchez-Pinto said. “It’s a very attractive idea, because it fuels big areas of research where you go not only from the bench to the bedside, but also from the bedside back to the bench.” One promising lead is being pursued in the laboratory of Philip Verhoef, MD, assistant professor of medicine and pediatrics, who has used patient data

“What I think is so cool is the possibility that hidden in all of the hospital records might be the mechanistic clues that we need to develop new therapies. We’ve only just scratched the surface as far as mining that information.” Philip Verhoef, MD, assistant professor of medicine and pediatrics

as the bridge between his clinical work and research in animal models. To test his hypothesis that patients with allergies and asthma are protected against sepsis, Verhoef queried a dataset of 100 million insurance claims from across the country. Not only did he find support for his theory, he also found that other

autoimmune conditions, such as ulcerative colitis and multiple sclerosis, drove elevated risk for sepsis. That study, along with subsequent work using more detailed CRDW data, generated new hypotheses about immune factors involved in increasing or lowering the risk of sepsis that Verhoef is now testing in mouse models. “What I think is so cool is the possibility that hidden in all of the hospital records might be the mechanistic clues that we need to develop new therapies,” Verhoef said. “We’ve only just scratched the surface as far as mining that information.” From the building blocks of these early successes, the long-promised potential of data-driven medicine gains definition. A combination of smart alerts providing early warning of illness, automated recommendations on diagnosis and treatment, and personalized therapies backed by computational modeling and data analysis will provide clinicians with a virtual assistant — one that can complement and support the irreplaceable human dimension of medicine. “You really want a partnership where you’re getting useful information that will help you treat a patient, but you also have your own clinical intuition and expertise,” Churpek said. “Those will intersect and interact when making final diagnosis and treatment decisions for a patient. I really think this is going to be the future of medicine.”

Nelson Sanchez-Pinto, MD, MBI, seated, and Samuel Volchenboum, MD, PhD, MS, are using data mining to identify patients at high risk of sepsis and develop tailored interventions.






Engineering solutions for real-world clinical problems Physician-entreprenuer Ananth Natarajan, MD  ’96, advances biomedical innovation



nanth Natarajan, MD’96, wants to mend the “disconnect between engineering and medicine.”

“Clinicians are not sufficiently involved in designing and developing clinically meaningful solutions to real problems,” said the third-generation physician. Natarajan earned his bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering and electrical engineering from Duke University when he was just 18, followed by a master’s degree in biomedical engineering from Johns Hopkins University. He continued to explore his interest in biomedical technologies after enrolling in the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine.

“The ability to acquire and process data cheaply is enabling a paradigm shift in our approach to health care.” Ananth Natarajan, MD’96

“The flexibility of the fourth-year schedule at Pritzker was critical to enabling me to do what I wanted to do,” he said. During his residency in obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Southern California Medical Center, he founded Infinite Biomedical Technologies, LLC, (IBT) and served as its CEO for 10 years. While at IBT, Natarajan raised substantial funding from the National Institutes of Health and

oversaw the development of the company’s prosthetics business, which serves upper limb amputees. The company also spun off a medical imaging subsidiary called Ikona Medical, Inc., which developed the first mobile reader app for capsule endoscopy on the iPad platform. IBT also launched a health care IT subsidiary, Vigilant Medical, Inc., which has a medical image sharing platform that serves 25,000 patients a year. Today, he still raises funds and provides guidance for the three companies. He also has applied his entrepreneurial skills as an angel investor, helping to mentor and support more than a dozen ventures, several of which successfully scaled up in size.

Ananth Natarajan, MD’96, an obstetriciangynecologist and biomedical engineer, founded Infinite Biomedical Technologies, LLC.

In the rapidly changing world of biomedical innovation, Natarajan believes that artificial intelligence holds considerable promise. “Machine learning and deep learning, in particular, provide great potential for transforming health care,” he said. Information technology is another area that Natarajan follows closely. “The ability to acquire and process data cheaply is enabling a paradigm shift in our approach to health care,” he said. “What this means from a research standpoint is that we are able to understand human health in a way that was not possible before and offer treatments in a highly personalized way.” He also expects that bioelectronic implants, also known as electroceuticals, will offer promising treatment options for patients with neurological diseases, pain and other conditions.

For aspiring entrepreneurs who want to pursue a similar career path, Natarajan offers some advice: Find good mentors and share your success with them. He credits Arthur Herbst, MD, the Joseph Bolivar DeLee Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus and former chair of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Chicago, for connecting him with biomedical leaders in California. “He did a great job of supporting me and enabling me to pursue this career,” Natarajan said. “It takes a broader world vision to realize that not everyone is meant to focus exclusively on patient care.”

Natarajan lives in San Marino, Calif., with his wife, Margaret, also an obstetriciangynecologist, and their teenage son, Ajay.

Natarajan and his mother are avid hikers who have taken trips together to the French Alps and Iceland.

Natarajan also recommends interdisciplinary training, such as pursuing a business, law or engineering degree, in addition to a medical degree. As he said, “Being able to speak more than one language is exponentially valuable.”




Rooted in Africa

Cardiologist David Silverstein, MD  ’67, went to Kenya four decades ago to set up a cath lab. He never left.

David Silverstein, MD  ’67, and his wife, Channa Commanday, a nurse practitioner. Despite the years and distance, he has retained his ties to his alma mater and is looking forward to seeing his medical school classmates at their 50th Reunion in May.


“ Dr. Silverstein, I’m still alive,” Nelson Mandela quipped when the two men ran into each other a few years later. “You’re a better doctor than you thought.”





n Kenya, David Silverstein, MD  ’67, is known as the father of cardiology. Shortly after his arrival there in the 1970s, he turned an empty room in a Nairobi hospital into the country’s first cardiac catheterization lab.. But that was just the beginning for the Chicago native, whose plans for a two-year stint in the East African country turned into an adventure of a lifetime spanning more than four decades. “When I was at the University of Chicago, I didn’t really know there was a world out there,” the 72-yearold physician said. “I was so much into academics and school and trying to excel.” Silverstein graduated from medical school at the University of Chicago when he was just 22 and did his residency in Seattle. A stint at a U.S. Air Force base in Taiwan sparked a desire to see more of the world. After his military service, he returned to Seattle and completed a cardiology fellowship. When a cardiologist friend from Kenya suggested he apply for a position in Nairobi, he didn’t hesitate. “I didn’t hear from them for a long time, and suddenly they called and said, ‘Please come tomorrow. You’re badly needed to run our new cath lab,’” he recalled. Silverstein quickly discovered the “cath lab” was nothing more than an empty room. “Everybody was telling me, ‘Just enjoy your time here. You’re not going to get a cath lab going.’ But somehow, I still wanted to do it.” At the time, Silverstein was the only cardiologist in Nairobi. No one there had ever seen a cardiac catheterization, so he had to educate a team. A lack of trained professionals meant cultivating those with a desire to learn. “There was a gardener who was taught to do EKGs, who we then trained to be a technician,” Silverstein said. “Now he’s retired, but he was a very capable technician. He ended up going to England for further training. And by then, I had given several lectures, and several of the young Kenyans who were residents were interested in cardiology.” Career set for take off Within a few years, Silverstein went from running the cath lab at the Kenyatta National Hospital to heading its cardiology unit. He also was promoted to senior lecturer at the University of Nairobi School of Medicine. “I had just arrived for the first graduating class, so every student from the second graduating class onward was my student,” he said.

In 1977, he was named chief cardiothoracic physician for the government of Kenya, and in 1983 he was asked by then-Kenyan president Daniel arap Moi to be his personal physician. Thirty-three years later, he still cares for the former president. “The exciting part is that I got to travel with him all around the world,” Silverstein said. “Whenever he traveled overseas, I would go, too. I was in the Great Hall of the People in China during Deng Xiaoping’s time.” Along the way, Silverstein would care for the first attorney general in Kenya as well as the former president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela. Years later, Silverstein ran into Mandela in a hotel. “When he passed by me, he said, ‘Dr. Silverstein, I’m still alive. You’re a better doctor than you thought,’” Silverstein recalls with a chuckle. “I couldn’t believe he remembered my name.” Silverstein has “cut back” to working 12 hours a day and has no plans to retire. “His phone is always ringing,” his wife says. “He gives out his personal number, and if he wants to spend 45 minutes with a patient, it’s okay.”

A celebrity in his own right But that didn’t surprise Silverstein’s wife, Channa Commanday, a nurse practitioner. “He’s very famous in Kenya,” said Commanday. “He’s famous among the medical people, and it’s a big honor for the young residents to get a spot rotating with him.” The recognition started not long after Silverstein’s arrival. In the 1980s, Nairobi experienced two incidents of Marburg virus disease, a severe illness with symptoms indistinguishable from Ebola virus disease. Silverstein was involved in the treatment and diagnosis of both cases. Other conditions he has diagnosed and treated have included bubonic plague, rabies, tetanus, kala azar, botulism and many cases of malaria and tuberculosis.




“I would get so excited about the many different epidemics and diseases I identified,” he said. “That doesn’t happen often in the United States unless you’re working for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and it certainly doesn’t happen for a cardiologist.” Silverstein also appreciates having no restrictions on how he treats his patients. “I can practice medicine the way I want to practice medicine. In America, it’s changed so much I wouldn’t know what to do,” he said. Added Commanday, “He’s a doctor whose phone is always ringing. He gives out his personal number, and if he wants to spend 45 minutes with a patient, it’s okay.” As a teacher, one of the initiatives he’s most proud of is the establishment of a journal club in his office at Nairobi Hospital for the University of Nairobi internal medicine residents. More than 20 years later, the club still meets twice a week. Residents convene in the mornings to review the latest medical articles and discuss relevant topics. They also rotate through Silverstein’s internal medicine practice to get a glimpse of various medical procedures not seen in the private sector due to limited resources. “A lot of my patients are coming from Tanzania and Uganda and other parts of Central and East Africa,”

Where the buffalo roam After establishing a private practice, Silverstein bought a farm in Lake Naivasha in the Great Rift Valley of Kenya. The farm — with many chickens, cows, horses, geese, dogs and cats — serves as a place of refuge and peace for him and his wife. “I go out and jog in the morning with giraffes, zebras, impalas, warthogs and eland,” he said. “Hippos are also in the background, and occasionally a buffalo, which is a little more exciting.” Silverstein, the father of four adult sons, met his wife at Nairobi Hospital, where she was working at the time. Their first date followed the bombing of the American Embassy in 1998. After a long, intense day treating nearly 500 patients, they had dinner together. “We’ve been together ever since,” Commanday said. When he’s not working or relaxing on his farm, Silverstein serves as vice chairman of the Nairobi Hebrew Congregation and is an honorary Life Rosh Kehilla for the small synagogue. He was responsible for guiding President Moi in re-establishing strong relations with Israel. Despite the distance, Silverstein maintains his ties to the University of Chicago and is a member of the Alumni Leadership Society and the Maroon Loyalty Society.

“To be honest, I don’t think I’ll ever retire, as I haven’t found anything more rewarding than being a doctor in Africa.” David Silverstein, MD  ’67

Silverstein’s farm in the Great Rift Valley of Kenya is a place of refuge and peace. He jogs in the mornings amid wildlife, including giraffes, zebras and warthogs. “I think they are beginning to know who I am now,” he joked.


he said, noting that Nairobi Hospital is the medical referral center for specialized care. Despite Silverstein’s success in Kenya, he faced many challenges along the way. As soon as he started seeing patients, he realized he had better learn Swahili. Now he’s fluent in four languages and comfortable with six. Despite his service in the Air Force, Silverstein had a tremendous fear of flying. To overcome this trepidation, he earned his pilot’s license. “Somehow I was convinced that the only way I was going to relax was if I learned how to fly,” he said.


Today, he continues to practice at Nairobi Hospital and teach at the University of Nairobi — though he has managed to cut back to 12 hours a day. A ravenous reader who is academically driven, Silverstein said he still has more to accomplish. “I’ve really enjoyed the type of medicine I get to practice,” Silverstein said. “It’s been very challenging and a lot of fun. I know I’ve made a big difference to a lot of people. Many of my friends and colleagues in the United States have retired due to burnout. To be honest, I don’t think I’ll ever retire, as I haven’t found anything more rewarding than being a doctor in Africa.”

From the South Side to across the globe — and back Groundbreaking partnerships and a philosophy of reciprocity underlie the University of Chicago Center for Global Health’s work in communities around the world

Children surround Christopher Sola Olopade, MD, MPH, clinical director of the Center for Global Health, on the opening day of a 34-desk computer lab in a rural village in Ghana. The new lab will offer computer education programming and provide an after-school outlet for jobless teenagers.


“ People must have what I call ‘a global state of mind,’ where you don’t think you know everything, where you are open to the thought that some of the solutions to our problems might come from ‘out there.’ We know there is a lot we can learn from observing people, watching them, collaborating with them and developing real partnerships to help the most vulnerable among us, locally and globally.” Christopher Sola Olopade, MD, MPH






ike aging infrastructure anywhere, the weathered cement-block building that houses the Ghana Health Service is hardly impressive. But the health service and its regional outreach programs actually are part of a dynamic infrastructure, one that is transforming health and health care in col-


Scholarship-based partnerships with regional colleagues and local residents are a cornerstrone of the Center for Global Health. Included in this group photo, taken several years ago in Ghana, are philanthropists Susan and Richard Kiphart (center, front row and back row), and physicians Funmi Olopade (middle row, far right) and Sola Olopade (standing, second from left).

The benefits of global health partnerships extend both ways. For example, research into breast cancer among Nigerian women produced new biological insights that are being used to advance cancer treatment for African American patients in Chicago.


laboration with the University of Chicago Center for Global Health (CGH). Through education, research, training and service programs, CGH and its partners in Ghana and elsewhere are defining the new “bricks and mortar” of global health partnership. “I had walked past that building a number of times in our previous trips to Ghana, and just looking at this bedraggled building with a rusty sign, it was hard to imagine much going on inside,” said Susan Kiphart, a Chicago philanthropist, who, with her late husband, Richard, discovered a different reality when they stepped into a global health collaboration with CGH. The Kipharts had already been doing philanthropic work in Ghana for years when a mutual friend introduced them to CGH leaders Olufunmilayo (Funmi) Olopade, MD, the director, and Christopher Sola Olopade, MD, MPH, the clinical director. On a subsequent trip to Ghana, the Kipharts met with the Olopades to learn more about the region, the people, and the public health challenges. “We were able to see Africa through their eyes, through their


deep understanding of the people and the culture, as Nigerians themselves, and through their capacity to see what is not apparent to American eyes,” Susan Kiphart said. “Some people might look around and see what isn’t there and think ‘Oh, they have nothing, there’s nothing to be done,’ but Funmi and Sola step past that and find the strength in people — and there is a lot of strength.” As they would discover in long Jeep rides into the most remote communities with the Olopades, a sophisticated network of community health workers had been highly effective in some vital targeted initiatives, such as infant and child vaccinations and parent education on child development. Cell phones were ubiquitous in almost every community and created a vibrant health support network for sharing information, encouragement or practical support among women and health care providers. In contrast to the tired façade of the building in town, Susan Kiphart said, “there was a lot going on — it just did not look like the Western model.” Building on strengths The Kipharts’ partnership with CGH eventually expanded to improve management of a growing system of wells and clean-water projects, develop new educational programs and strengthen state support for staffing new schools, and launch public health initiatives to improve maternal and child health, adolescent health and career counseling. Another project, providing clean-burning cook stoves to Nigerian families, improved indoor air quality and decreased incidence of respiratory illnesses. And research into breast cancer among Nigerian women produced new biological insights that are being used to advance cancer treatment for African American patients on Chicago’s South Side. In these and all CGH projects, the philosophy of partnership and reciprocity is embedded in every facet through community engagement, Funmi Olopade said. CGH leverages the institutional strength of the University of Chicago to bring together faculty and students from different schools and programs with peers and mentors globally in fields such as epidemiology, biostatistics, economics, sociology, anthropology, law, ethics and human rights. The University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine’s four-year Global Health Track combines academic, clinical and research components to train students to work effectively in any global setting, not only with individual patients, but also with health systems,

‘ Whatever you have to give, that’s what you give’ institutions and policymakers. “We want to give our students the opportunity to see the world,” Funmi Olopade said. “You can’t really fix the problems of the world from your little corner.” CGH coordinated the development of academic partnerships with more than 30 institutions worldwide in nations that include Argentina, Chile, India, China, Nigeria, Ghana and Morocco. At each site, CGH, regional colleagues and local residents work together to identify the local needs and challenges, as well as their strengths and resources. They draw heavily on the experience of those who live and work in the community for their understanding of cultural or socioeconomic factors that could make or break a project. Despite being resource-poor, many of these communities have for centuries drawn upon their own deep assets of resourcefulness and wisdom to solve problems, and in a scholarship-based partnership, those assets find new applications in science and health globally, Funmi Olopade said. “My frame of mind is we can sit in ivory towers and universities and write about the plight of poor people or we can go in partnerships with people we want to help and see what we can do to help them. It is that two-way approach that holds the promise of the global village that will allow us to advance the best ideas.” Lessons learned When a joint CGH and local agency team set out to update the status of dozens of wells the Kipharts had built in previous years, the group learned that many of the wells were no longer operational. No one had been trained to make routine repairs, and the villages had no budget to pay for maintenance. But the solution wasn’t simply a matter of money, Sola Olopade explained. “In anthropology they say you need to do ethnography, you need to really understand people, before you can figure out a way to really help them,” he said. “In Ghana people are very polite and the custom regarding gifts is that you cannot use a gift to make money.” So although community leaders had enthusiastically accepted the Kipharts’ gift, they were not prepared to monetize the water system to charge reasonable fees for supporting ongoing maintenance of the wells. “We knew we needed to educate the leaders and give them the permission — the cultural permission — to take in revenue responsibly and see this as a mutual partnership,” Sola Olopade said. The team created a standard business model for the well enterprise to help community leaders manage their new resource. The agreement required that a


s young newlyweds, Susan and Richard Kiphart were driving from the Midwest to Mexico when, somewhere in southern Texas, they ran into a hurricane. They took cover in a motel room, but with the wind shrieking and a sign just outside their window thrashing on its hinges, Susan was a bit unnerved. “I was thinking, ‘Should we get under the bed? What should we do?’ But Dick was saying, ‘This is great! I always wanted to be in a hurricane and see what it was like!’ And all I could think was, ‘Oh dear, what am I in for? What have I gotten myself into?’”

For nearly a decade, philanthropists Susan and the late Richard Kiphart partnered with the Center for Global Health on clean-water projects, educational programs and public health initiatives.

In the nearly five decades since then, her husband’s characteristic “cowboy spirit” blazed their trail as philanthropists. They would travel it together as peers with a shared sense of civic responsibility and the desire to support meaningful work to improve the lives of the most vulnerable people in the world. For nearly a decade, their passion and partnership with the Center for Global Health has advanced the construction of community wells and schools and expanded business opportunities in Ghana’s Ashanti and Cape Coast regions. Since Dick Kiphart’s death in September 2016 at 75, his legacy as a philanthropist has been widely honored. For Susan, the concept of legacy continues to be a living commitment. She remains passionate about cultivating, for future generations, the qualities of partnership and sharing that always defined the Kipharts’ philanthropy.


“I’m influenced by the concept of biblical justice, which really says that you don’t really own any of this anyway,” Susan said. “It’s by grace that you have it, therefore sharing it is not what you’re supposed to do, it’s what you have to do to fulfill yourself as a person. Whatever you have to give, that’s what you give.” During Richard Kiphart’s career as an investment banker and executive at William Blair & Co., he and Susan became leaders in Chicago and global philanthropy supporting the arts, education and health care. Both self-deprecating and expansive in their vision, their philanthropic activity has been grounded in the core values learned in their own childhoods in families of more modest means, Susan said. Their parents’ models of life, work and a spirituality based on fairness, respect and compassion, created an ideal foundation for becoming philanthropists — and for passing on those values and resources. Their children and grandchildren have already shown they are carrying this legacy forward, each in his or her own way.





Today, projects supported by philanthropists Susan and the late Richard Kiphart are bringing clean water to more than 15,000 people in remote communities in Ghana and Nigeria, and children attend Kiphartfunded community schools in rural villages.

In all, CGH and its Ghana-based academic, medical and community development partners, with Kiphart funding, installed nine new wells and evaluated and repaired 67 wells in 58 rural Ghanaian communities, providing safe water to more than 12,000 people. They also mapped the GPS coordinates of all the wells for ongoing monitoring, and met with districtlevel officials to explore possibilities for leveraging community development projects with other government initiatives. An additional eight wells have been developed in Ekiti and Ondo states in Nigeria, serving an estimated 3,000 people. 24



community receiving a Kiphart well agree to appoint a water committee of four or five people — including at least one woman — and set a reasonable fee for the well water. That revenue would be earmarked for maintenance costs, with an initial seed grant of $100 from CGH. The project funding also included training for local community members to make minor repairs and provided them with basic tool kits and spare parts. The CGH team then linked the community water committees to existing regional government departments overseeing waterworks and water quality. “That simple approach made it possible for them to take ownership, to say, ‘This is our well. Be careful the way you use it. Because if something breaks, it’s going to cost us money to fix it,’” Sola Olopade said. Research followed. A CGH student research team tested water samples that people from the communities with Kiphart wells and those without the wells drank, and also monitored the frequency of diarrheal diseases. The data showed less contamination in the well water than in other local sources, and lower incidence of waterborne diseases. And when people had access to clean water they were less likely to casually drink from nearby contaminated streams.

Investing in people The resulting close, collaborative relationships among individuals in the academic, public health, government and local communities — and philanthropists funding the work — have served as “an infrastructure for scholarly work” by UChicago students and their international peers, Sola Olopade said. As the network of collaborations has grown, so have multifaceted initiatives to address a range of health concerns — diabetes, hypertension, high-risk pregnancy, birth control, respiratory diseases and cancer — in tandem with efforts to improve education for children and adults, and stimulate sustainable development in economically depressed areas. For example, a recent project created a 34-desk computer lab in an elementary school in Ghana, to expand access to information, technology and training, making the school more of a social hub for communities, especially for teens. “We can’t think of a better way to actually spend people’s resources because the returns just don’t stop,” Sola Olopade said. “You invest it in the people to be the owners of their own careers and livelihoods.” From the on-site work to the published research, the project exemplifies CGH’s mission to advance the science of global health and share knowledge with those working on similar issues in other parts of the world. This interdisciplinary, cross-cultural approach to scholarly research, coupled with patient care and other clinical activity, expands the scientific literature and real-world models for sustainable improvements in health and health care, Sola Olopade said. Because the projects have been designed from the ground up to succeed in the local cultural and environmental contexts, the local pilot programs make the models and expertise more readily accessible to


other communities and researchers in the region. At the same time, some research findings — those identifying genetic patterns for breast cancer and other diseases or disease resistance, for example — are providing new potential for clinical application with populations in Chicago and around the world. “People must have what I call ‘a global state of mind,’ where you don’t think you know everything, where you are open to the thought that some of the solutions to our problems might come from ‘out there,’” Sola Olopade said. “We know there is a lot we can learn from observing people, watching them, collaborating with them and developing real partnerships to help the most vulnerable among us, locally and globally. “You have to have a holistic approach to human development regardless of where people are, whether it’s on the South Side of Chicago or the poor rural communities of the Ashanti region. How do you build capacity? How do you help those communities to enhance their gifts and their talents, whatever they have, to be the best that they can be? It makes aid more sustainable — otherwise you’re just scratching the surface without a sustained reward.”

Global health partnerships support initiatives to improve the health of women and children. In one study, researchers from the University of Chicago and the University of Ibadan (Nigeria) found that replacing traditional cook stoves with clean-burning ethanol stoves reduced the risk of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease in pregnant women.

Sharing small gestures, making powerful connections


n her work with mothers in Ghana, MeeSoh Bossard, a 2016 Center for Global Health Summer Research Fellow, discovered the power of connection in seemingly small gestures. Bossard, a student in the joint AB/AM program, is a fourth year studying human development in the College while also working on her master’s degree in social work in the School

of Social Service Administration. She traveled to Ghana to conduct qualitative research on how sociocultural factors affect child and maternal health. One early morning, she arrived at the hospital to ethereal sounds coming from the maternity ward. The mothers were singing together as they cradled their newborns, and the clinicians had joined in. The melodies were, Bossard was told, “a song of gratefulness, thanking God for the safe delivery of the babies and also just celebrating they were all mothers here with their newborns on this day. That was one of the most powerful things I’ve ever witnessed,” she said. “They have this kind of communitymaking and relational way of health care — something that isn’t as prevalent in the American system.” Bossard appreciates how the CGH practice of collaborative community engagement defined her experience “not as in ‘we’re superior and we’re going to give you all these resources,’ but rather ‘let’s each give each other small gifts and small insight and receive it as big opportunities and ways to better ourselves and think of how connected we are.”

University of Chicago student MeeSoh Bossard, a 2016 Center for Global Health Summer Research Fellow, thanks the head nurse at the maternity hospital where she conducted the interviews for her research.





BSD News

Art and Sciences BSD researchers find artistic inspiration in neurons, model organisms and data

Haley K. Stinnett PhD candidate, organismal biology and anatomy

Fish Fire | 2 0 1 5

H Dana Simmons PhD candidate, neurobiology SciArt Center resident (2015-16); Co-author, The Trees Inside Our Brain; New England Biolabs Passion in Science Award winner (2016)

Branching Out | 2 0 1 6


ana Simmons researches how patterns of communication differ for neurons in an autistic versus non-autistic brain, using a genetic mouse model. While examining cerebellar Purkinje neurons, she injects them with fluorescent dye and visually tracks currents inside the neurons with a laser. Inspired by the artistic, tree-like shapes in the resulting images, Simmons began taking 3D images of the neurons with a confocal microscope and applying color filters. Branching Out is featured in Thermo Fisher Scientific’s Beautiful Science Cell Imaging Coloring Book. Two other pieces, Precipice and Grossman, are permanent installations in the Grossman Institute for Neuroscience, Quantitative Biology, and Human Behavior. See more of Simmons’ art at

aley Stinnett studies embryonic development, focusing on mechanisms that result in various morphologically distinct structures. Using the zebrafish as a model organism, Stinnett studies the development of fins and limbs. Fish Fire, an image of the right pectoral fin in a 48-hour-old zebrafish embryo, was captured on a compound microscope using a 20X objective. As Stinnett attempted to capture the red fluorescent protein in the nuclei, she unintentionally overexposed the image — and saw the beauty in the mistake. A R T I S T ’ S S TAT E M E N T

Developmental biology has always been linked intricately with art; the earliest works were often reported using beautiful, hand-made drawings of embryonic morphology. I am able to watch the many complex events that must take place in concert as a zebrafish goes from a single cell to a free-swimming larva in under 48 hours! It is remarkable that all of these moving parts work so beautifully together to form a complex organism.


My goal with creating science-art is to explore structural patterns in nature. I aim to create striking visual images of Purkinje neurons so that people will ask, “What is that? What does it do? Why does it matter?” I want to use my scienceart to promote curiosity and discussion about science and the natural world. 26


Grab some colored pencils or felt-tip markers and create your version of Branching Out.





BSD News

Adam Brown Graduate student, computational neuroscience Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology BioArt competition winner (2015)

Global Worming | 2 0 1 4

A Kyler Brown PhD candidate, computational neuroscience Arts Science & Culture Initiative Collaboration Grant recipient (2014-2015)

Spikes | 2 0 1 4


yler Brown is interested in the acquisition and control of motor sequences. His graduate work focuses on the neural basis of vocal behavior using zebra finch song activity, biophysical models of song production and neurophysiology. By placing micron-size electric sensors in the brains of the zebra finch, he “listens in” on their communication. Brown created Spikes by collecting data from a sleeping finch and analyzing it with a program called Phy. The grid pattern is the shape of the sensor array, with each color representing waves from a single brain cell.


“Spikes” wasn’t intentionally art. It’s a summary figure of my data. Part of being a scientist is loving science and finding art in the strange shapes nature takes.



dam Brown is no stranger to a microscope. He spends his days studying the neurobiology of the nematode worm C. elegans. But these tiny round worms don’t just serve as model organisms for Brown’s research. They do double duty as models for his art. In Global Worming, dozens of 1 mm long nematodes feed on bacterial growth coating the surface of an agar plate. Brown takes his images with his smartphone camera, aiming it through the eyepiece of his microscope. See more of Brown’s images at A R T I S T ’ S S TAT E M E N T

As a scientist, I see really striking things every day. My laboratory art is an effort to share that experience with the world.

Science-art created by University of Chicago researchers will be on display in the Gordon Center for Integrative Science atrium on Friday, May 12, from 5 to 8 p.m.


A fruit fly with 2 million-year-old genes BY MATT WOOD


he fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster is one of the most studied organisms in genetics and evolution. In the wild, it lives in alcohol-rich rotting fruit, tolerating far higher alcohol concentrations than its closest relatives, which live on other food sources. Twenty-five years ago at the University of Chicago, biologists Martin Kreitman, PhD, and John McDonald, PhD, invented a new statistical method PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA

Graduate student Mohammad Siddiq, right, and collaborator Kristi Montooth from the University of Nebraska engineered fruit flies with ancient genes for a study on the genetic basis of adaptation and evolution.

for finding “signatures of selection” — patterns suggesting that a gene changed so quickly during its evolution that selection is likely to have been the cause. They demonstrated it on the alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) gene — the gene for the enzyme that breaks down alcohol inside cells — from this group of flies. ADH had a strong signature of selection, so the idea that the ADH enzyme was the cause of the fruit fly’s adaptation to ethanol became the first accepted case of a specific gene that mediated adaptive evolution of a species. Mo Siddiq, a graduate student in the Department of Ecology and Evolution, realized this hypothesis could be tested directly. Using new technologies pioneered by his advisor Joseph Thornton, PhD, professor of ecology and evolution and human genetics, he created genetically modified flies containing reconstructed ancient genes from just before and just after D. melanogaster evolved its ethanol tolerance, some two to four million years ago. He synthesized these genes and measured their ability to break down alcohol in a test tube. The results were surprising: the genetic changes that occurred during the evolution of D. melanogaster had no detectable effect on the protein’s function.

Working with collaborators David Loehlin at the University of Wisconsin and Kristi Montooth at the University of Nebraska, Siddiq then created transgenic flies containing the reconstructed ancestral forms of ADH. They bred thousands of these “ancestralized” flies and tested how quickly they could break down alcohol and how well the larvae and adult flies survived when raised on food with high alcohol content. Surprisingly, the transgenic flies carrying the more recent ADH were no better at metabolizing alcohol than flies carrying the ancient version. Even more strikingly, they were no better able to grow or survive on increasing alcohol concentrations. So while there is no doubt that D. melanogaster did adapt to high-alcohol food sources during its evolution, it’s not because of changes in the ADH enzyme. “One of the major goals of modern evolutionary biology is to identify the genes that caused species to adapt to new environments, but it’s been hard to do that directly, because we’ve had no way to test the effects of ancient genes on animal biology until now,” Siddiq said. The study, published in Nature Ecology & Evolution, was the first time scientists have created genetically modified animals with reconstructed genes from

Drosophila melanogaster collected for research.

the past. Thornton said these techniques could be used to answer many other evolutionary questions. “For the first test case, we chose a classic example of adaptation,” he said. “The ADH story was accepted because the ecology, physiology, and the statistical signature of selection all pointed in the same direction. But three lines of circumstantial evidence don’t make an airtight case.” MEDICINE ON THE MIDWAY



BSD News


Octopus video wins regional Emmy


Kronforst explores nature in our cities for digital series


volutionary biologist Marcus Kronforst, PhD, leads audiences on a tour of overlooked ecosystems in Chicago, New York and San Francisco in the new online series “Urban Nature.” Kronforst hops on a bike, grabs a kayak, and even takes the subway to seek out the unlikely habitats that are hidden among skyscrapers. He talks with the passionate conservationists who are ensuring these urban oases survive despite the constant dangers posed by the surrounding city. And he discovers how these havens are essential to the health of our cities — and the future of our planet. “As a biologist, of course I knew that there was nature around us in the city,” said Kronforst, Neubauer Family Assistant Professor of Ecology and Evolution, “but I had no appreciation for just how much ecology is happening out there, and how important cities actually are in driving some natural systems.”


A feature video looking at the work of Clifton Ragsdale, PhD, professor of neurobiology, and graduate students Carrie Albertin and Yan Wang as they study one of the most amazing creatures on the planet — the octopus — has won a 2016 Chicago/Midwest Region Emmy for Outstanding Achievement for Informational/Instructional Programming.

Butterfly researcher Marcus Kronforst, PhD, introduces viewers to surprising slices of nature thriving in urban areas in a digital series produced by WTTW, Chicago’s PBS station.

Posted on, the series consists of 16 four- to 10-minute episodes featuring everything from birds, butterflies and coyotes in Chicago to sea lions in San Francisco to a deserted island hospital just a mile from Manhattan.


Microbiome workshop


he first annual microbiome workshop, “Getting Involved with Microbiome Research for Clinicians: From Sequencing to Grant Writing” will be held at the Marine


Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass., from May 23-26, 2017. The goal of the introductory course is to improve understanding of microbiome research, build clinical skills and improve patient care now and in the future. Speakers range from experts in microbiome science, biology and bioinformatics to surgeons and physicians who are using knowledge of the microbiome in clinical practice. Clinicians, researchers, residents and fellows are invited to attend the workshop, which includes an optional hands-on laboratory session. For more information and to register online, visit cme.uchicago. edu/microbiome2017.


Watch the video at

In 2015, Ragsdale and his team sequenced the genome of the California two-spot octopus (Octopus bimaculoides), the first cephalopod ever to be fully sequenced. They found striking differences from other invertebrates, including a dramatic expansion of a gene family involved in nervous system development that was once thought to be unique to vertebrates. Anthony Penta of UChicago Creative, an on-campus multimedia and creative agency, produced the award-winning video. — Matt Wood


Researcher wins Vilcek Prize ichaela Gack, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Microbiology, received a 2017 Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Biomedical Science. The Vilcek Foundation established the prizes “to encourage and support young immigrants who have already demonstrated exceptional achievements, and who often face significant challenges early in their careers.” Gack, a native of Germany, is studying how the intricate interplay between viruses and the host’s immune system impacts the outcome of viral infection and disease. In announcing the award, the Vilcek Foundation cited her “meteoric rise

through the ranks of molecular biology.” Gack’s research “could pave the way toward the rational design of vaccines against emerging infectious diseases,” the foundation said. In 2014, Gack received the Merck Irving S. Sigal Memorial Award of the American Society for Microbiology, and she has also been selected twice for Germany’s list of “Top 40 under 40” scientists. The Vilcek Foundation is dedicated to raising awareness of immigrant contributions to the United States and fostering appreciation of the arts and sciences. Read more at

“ The U.S. is so multicultural, it gave me so many new perspectives —  for research and for life. I think it’s the diversity of people and opinions that keeps me in this country.”

Michaela Gack, PhD, in Vilcek Foundation announcement

Roizman honored by National Academy of Sciences Bernard Roizman, ScD, the Joseph

Regenstein Distinguished Service Professor of Virology, has been awarded the 2017 Selman A. Waksman Award in Microbiology for his pivotal research on how herpes viruses replicate and cause disease. The National Academy of Sciences gives the award biannually to recognize a major advance in the field of microbiology. Roizman made significant scientific contributions to the understanding of herpes virus. His research first identified viral herpes genes and proteins, as well as the structure of viral DNA, and defined the principles of herpes simplex virus gene regulation. He also constructed the first recombinant virus specifically targeted to malignant cells.

A member of the faculty since 1965, Roizman was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1979 and to the National Academy of Medicine in 2001.


Bernard Roizman, ScD, with a model of the herpes simplex virus in 1978.


AAAS inducts four BSD faculty members Four BSD faculty members were named 2016 Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The 2016 Fellows are:



Geoffrey Greene, PhD, the Virginia and D. K. Ludwig Professor and chair of the Ben May Department for Cancer Research, for distinguished contributions to the field of steroid hormone action and breast cancer, particularly for the development of estrogen and progesterone receptor antibodies. Zhe-Xi Luo, PhD, professor in the Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy, for outstanding descriptions of mammals from Jurassic and Cretaceous strata of China, and for documenting the diversity, ecology and relationships of early mammals. Clifton Ragsdale, PhD, professor in the Departments of Neurobiology and Organismal Biology and Anatomy, for exceptionally insightful experimental observations on the evolution and development of the brain. Jonathan Staley, PhD, professor in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology, for distinguished contributions to the RNA splicing field, particularly conformational rearrangements, maintenance of fidelity and active site of the spliceosome, a highly dynamic RNA-protein machine. The AAAS is the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science as well as several other journals. Fellows are elected by AAAS members for their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications. Our faculty members are among 391 newly elected AAAS Fellows this year.





Pritzker News

Pritzker students lead effort to improve LGBTQ care BY ANNE STEIN


That was 2011, and the HEI wasn’t on the radar yet for the University of Chicago Medicine, said James Woodruff, MD, associate dean of students. “It was through Alan’s efforts,” Woodruff said, “and those of students who subsequently joined the effort that the medical center identified this as a focus.” The next year, UChicago Medicine joined the survey, scoring only one point out of four. (The criteria were patient nondiscrimination policies, visitation policies, employment nondiscrimination policies and training in LGBTQ patient-centered care.) “We worked with many departments across the enterprise to improve our patient rights and responsibilities, visitor access and employee equal opportunity


lan Hutchison, PhD  ’16, MS2, didn’t know much about LGBTQ health until he took the Health Care Disparities: Equity and Advocacy course required of all incoming Pritzker School of Medicine students. That’s when he first heard about the Human Rights Campaign’s Healthcare Equality Index (HEI), which evaluates facilities for their policies and practices related to equity and inclusion of LGBTQ patients, visitors and employees. “I didn’t realize it was something that hospitals were surveyed on,” Hutchison said. “After the class, I felt compelled to some kind of advocacy to make things better. And I felt as a medical student, I had a voice in the community.”

Ren Belcher, MS3, left, Rebecca Zuckerman, MS3, Hannah Wenger, MD’15, and Alan Hutchison, PhD’16, MS2, worked to help the University of Chicago Medicine achieve leader status in LGBTQ health care equality.



antiharassment policies to specifically include LGBTQ individuals,” said James Williams, director of Diversity, Inclusion and Equity. Since 2014, team members have engaged in more than 700 hours of training on health care services for LGBTQ patients. The institution-wide commitment to providing equitable and culturally competent care and services resulted in UChicago Medicine achieving status as a Leader in LGBTQ Healthcare Equality for 2015, 2016 and 2017. For 2017, institutions were required to meet additional criteria based on best practice care for LGBTQ patient services and support. John Schneider, MD, MPH, and his team at the Chicago Center for HIV Elimination provided research, expertise and care that contributed to UChicago Medicine’s score. The HEI Equality Leader status “shows that LGBTQ patients are a priority and that in addition to not discriminating, we actively welcome and address issues that people in this community face, especially when they’re in a vulnerable situation,” said Rebecca Zuckerman, MS3. Zuckerman and Ren Belcher, MS3, also joined the effort after completing their Health Care Disparities course, as did teaching assistant Hannah Wenger, MD  ’15, now a UChicago Medicine resident. In May 2016, Hutchison, a student in the Medical Scientist Training Program, was recognized with the Jane Morton and Henry C. Murphy Award, a Universitywide honor, for his work in helping the medical center achieve leader status in LGBTQ health care equality. “He also brought this issue to the other medical centers in the city, the bulk of which were not aware of the HEI, and encouraged them to take action as well,” Woodruff said. “Through this work, Alan and the other students showed great leadership institutionally and regionally.”


Evaluation of emergency medicine residents points to gender bias BY JOHN EASTON

become emergency medicine specialists scored as well as their male colleagues during the first year of their three-year programs, by the end of the third year, male residents, on average, received higher evaluations on all 23 emergency medicine training categories — including medical knowledge, patient safety, team management and communication — than female residents, a new study showed. The gap emerged early in the second year of training and steadily widened until graduation. “The results are definitely concerning,” said Arjun Dayal, MS4, the study’s co-lead author. “The wide difference between males and females, seen at all of the institutions that participated in this study, suggests that medical school faculty who evaluate residents should be aware of and attuned to ongoing concerns about gender bias.”


Carrie Jurkiewicz, MD, chief emergency medicine resident, reviews a case with Gregg Helland, MD, associate professor of medicine.

Although female doctors training to

The study, published March 6, 2017, in JAMA Internal Medicine, included 359 emergency medicine residents. One-third (122) of the residents were female; two-thirds (237) were male. About a third of the faculty physicians who evaluated the trainees were female (91) and two-thirds were male (194). Male and female faculty members evaluated residents similarly, consistently giving female residents lower scores throughout residency years two and three. In a one-year period, the researchers collected 33,456 “milestone evaluations,” about 90 for each of the physicians in training. Milestone evaluations are detailed, direct observations by emergency medical faculty of residents performing 23 subcompetencies. These include basic skills such as diagnosis and medical knowledge, as well as specific procedures, such as emergency stabilization, airway management or vascular access. This evaluation system, adopted by the ACGME, is now used by all U.S. training programs. The nationally standardized approach allows for analysis of performance “at a scope and level of detail never previously possible,” the authors note. This study is the first to focus on how gender affects the process. “We hope that our findings will focus attention on this disparity and encourage efforts to improve and provide balance, as needed, in the residency evaluation system,” said the study’s senior author, Vineet Arora, MD, AM  ’03, assistant dean for scholarship and discovery and director of GME clinical learning environment and innovation. Pritzker student Usama Qadri, MS4, is listed as third author on the paper.

New MD-PhD program focuses on aging


edical students from across the country can now study aging and earn a PhD from one of the University of Chicago’s quantitative social science programs or professional schools. Funded by the National Institute on Aging, the new MD-PhD Program in Medicine, the Social Sciences, and Aging National Track trains clinician scholars to be leaders in clinical care for the aging population and to conduct research at the interface of aging, health and the social sciences.

“The social sciences — including economics, psychology and sociology — hold the key to understanding and addressing many of the most important challenges in improving health, perhaps especially for older persons,” said David Meltzer, MD  ’92, PhD  ’93, the Fanny L. Pritzker Professor of Medicine, who co-directs the program. Prospective students must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents and need to apply before their first, second or third year of medical school. Learn more:




Pritzker News

M AT C H DAY 2 0 1 7

The path to medicine began with journeys from Iraq and Nepal BY TERESA BARKER


ife experiences inevitably shape career choices and passions, and for some medical students, their families’ immigrant experiences have been a profound influence as they move forward as physicians and researchers. Pritzker School of Medicine students Hasenin Al-khersan and Shirish Poudyal arrived as children in the U.S. under very different circumstances, but

“ It was kind of random chance that led to my first opportunity, which I was able to build on. In that regard, looking to the future, for me it’s about helping people in circumstances similar to my family’s.”

Hasenin Al-khersan Hasenin Al-khersan was a young boy when his family fled Iraq, finding refuge first in New Zealand and then in the U.S. But as their family’s horizon brightened, deteriorating vision from glaucoma dimmed his grandmother’s journey and shaped his passion to become an ophthalmologist. Al-khersan, MS4, currently works on a research team developing an inexpensive, portable glaucoma screening tool to bring ophthalmic care to underserved communities. The tool, called SimField, is a PHOTO BY JEAN LACHAT

Hasenin Al-Khersan

the element of good fortune that brought them here compels them to want to improve the lives of others. Through their work with Chicago’s underserved communities and in global health research, both have found a calling to work on behalf of those in need locally and globally.

Hasenin Al-khersan, MS4, left, and Shirish Poudyal, MS4



computer-simulated, virtual reality visual field test. It was selected for the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation I-Corps program, which is supported by the National Science Foundation. His family’s experience as immigrants and his role at age 10 as his grandmother’s interpreter in appointments with her ophthalmologist inspired Al-khersan as he witnessed the power of the physician-patient relationship to bridge cultural differences. “He didn’t know any Arabic and she didn’t know any English, but he was a very compassionate guy and took really good care of her. I was able to see that relationship develop over time, see how essential it was.” He also saw firsthand how critical health care is for those in need. More specifically, he said, “I was able to see and understand the importance of sight in determining people’s quality of life — just how it becomes more and more important, the less you have of it.” The same could be said for opportunity in life. He contrasts his access to advanced education in a peaceful society with the lives of his cousins and friends who remained in Iraq and suffered through the subsequent trauma and losses of war, displacement, disrupted schooling, and desperate moves from country to country throughout the Middle East. “Seeing the way our paths diverged, it’s a very real counter-history in terms of what might have been had I not been able to leave,” he said. He feels an obligation to use his good fortune to improve the lives of others. “I see the need within disenfranchised, marginalized elements of society here in the U.S.” Al-khersan believes physicians today must address problems in health care at the micro and macro level: in the one-on-one way they practice patient care and in advocacy and action at the policy level. “Health care is always a hot button political issue and recent developments discourage a lot of people,” he said. “But I think with much of this disruption comes opportunity to remold whatever infrastructure is going to remain. If you can look at that problem as an opportunity, it’s very exciting. And I think doctors have an obligation to be involved in that conversation because we have the expertise of seeing patients on a daily basis, seeing how the systems work.” Al-khersan will do his ophthalmology training at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. He will spend his transitional year at MacNeal Hospital in Berwyn. Shirish Poudyal Some might say that Shirish Poudyal’s luckiest day was the day his mother won the lottery. It wasn’t a lottery for a cash prize or a new car; this was the U.S. Diversity Green Card Lottery, designed to draw immigrants from underrepresented countries. The Poudyals’

winning ticket meant they had won permanent legal residency if they chose to leave Nepal and make a new life in the U.S. They hesitated at first. Poudyal, MS4, was 15 at the time and for his family, choosing to come meant uprooting him from school and leaving behind a comfortable home, large extended family and friends, his father’s 30-year military service career and his mother’s career as a law professor. But Poudyal had a penchant for math and science, and his parents wanted him to have the educational opportunities that would make the most of that. Political upheaval in Nepal and the violent Maoist insurgency also pushed the family toward the U.S. They came. They struggled, at first unable to find work. And they almost gave up and returned to Nepal. “We were ready to go back because the great American experiment had failed,” Poudyal said. “Before you come here you have all these dreams of what America is about and then you come and you realize it’s actually extremely hard to make a living, especially for outsiders, in the beginning.” For the next 10 years his parents persevered, finding low-paying hourly work but never jobs with health insurance. Poudyal came to know intimately how it feels to be without that safety net. His interests turned to medicine and the potential to help people. “I always thought I’d be a physicist or engineer — I really enjoyed analytical things, things with very precise answers. But eventually I realized I would like to work with people, learn a science that you can apply every day for people, with people.” His research at the University of Chicago has focused on HIV elimination, and he works in Chicago’s New Life Volunteering Society (NLVS) free clinic serving the uninsured. Every patient’s life is a story that goes beyond a clinical diagnosis, said Poudyal, who matched in internal medicine at the University of Michigan. “So many social forces affect people. You get to see different people respond to different things or to the same thing in different ways, or how a simple disease can affect somebody in terrible ways, or you help someone overcome something and there is joy.” Of his future plans, Poudyal said: “We won a lottery to get here, so I need to give back somehow. It’s personally important for me to try and serve those people who might be underinsured or are in need because there is such a big disparity in health care and that is a place where we can do the greatest amount of good. And at the very least, the reward that comes while helping and learning from patients is going to be present every single day as a physician.” And that, he suggests, is really what makes him a lucky man.

“ I came here from another part of the world. Went through high school, went through college and now I’m going to graduate from medical school. This would be impossible in many other parts of the world, for many, many different reasons.” Shirish Poudyal

Where the Class of 2017 matched: Page 36




Pritzker News

M AT C H DAY 2 0 1 7


Pritzker’s Class of 2017 meets its Match PHOTOS BY JOEL WINTERMANTLE

Match Day moments with friends and family. From top to bottom: Ala Soofian, MS4, right, and Nisha Abu. Below: Enjoying a slide show of medical school memories. Far below: Katie Venegas, Sean Gaffney, MS4, M.Ed., and Oluseyi Fayanju, MS4, MA, celebrate.

See the big moment on YouTube:

National survey ranks Pritzker, BSD programs


he University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine earned a No. 15 spot in an annual review of the country’s top medical schools. Pritzker tied with the University of Pittsburgh in the 2018 edition of U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Graduate Schools,” remaining the highest-ranking research medical school in Illinois. Pritzker was ranked No. 11 among research medical schools in the magazine’s 2017 issue. The primary care program was ranked No. 34, down from its No. 20 spot the year before. The magazine republished results for biological sciences programs that were released in 2014. The BSD’s doctoral programs were ranked No. 14. The paleontology program, which draws from the interdepartmental and inter-institutional Committee on Evolutionary Biology, was rated No. 1, and the ecology/evolutionary biology program tied for 4th place. The rankings will be updated next year.


Median MCAT score


Median undergraduate GPA


Average NIH grant funding per faculty member

$237,800 Most selective medical school (tie) 3rd

Source: U.S. News & World Report

MSTP marks 50 years of training physician-scientists The University of Chicago Medical Scientist

Most popular specialties: internal medicine (25), pediatrics and pediatricrelated specialties (10), emergency medicine (8), anesthesiology (8), psychiatry (5), general surgery (4) and otolaryngology (4) 13 graduates will stay at the University of Chicago Medicine for all or part of their training Other top programs: University of California-affiliated programs (10), Harvard-affiliated programs (6), Northwestern-affiliated programs (5), New York University (4) and University of Michigan (4)



Training Program celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2017. The program is one of the longest running physician-scientist training programs in the country. As part of the celebration, some of the program’s most accomplished alumni will return to campus for an alumni research symposium, 1 to 6 p.m. on June 23 in the Gordon Center for Integrative Science. The event is free and open to the entire University community. For more information about the symposium and the MSTP 50th Anniversary Reunion and Retreat, June 23-25, 2017, please visit 50th-anniversary-reunion-and-retreat.

CLASS OF 201 7

Pritzker students, faculty inducted into honor societies

Members of the Alpha Omega Alpha Class of 2017 are, from left, bottom row: Jacob Young, Matthew Odenwald, PhD ’15, Joseph Bellairs, David Hamilton. Middle row: Shane Regnier, PhD ’15, Hasenin Al-khersan, David Blair, PhD ’14, Pamela Peters, Lindsay Poston, Shilpa Vasishta. Top row: Rebecca Wellmann, Melissa Tjota, PhD ’15, Maryam Mohammed, Dara Adams.

ourteen fourth-year Pritzker School of Medicine students were named to the Alpha Omega Alpha Class of 2017 during the annual AΩA induction in February. Students are selected based on academic excellence, leadership, compassion and fairness. The Class of 2017 elected the following University of Chicago alumni, faculty and residents to the Illinois Beta Chapter (University of Chicago) of the AΩA Honor Medical Society: Faculty: Aliya Husain, MD, professor, Department of Pathology; and Nicola Orlov, MD  ’08, MPH, assistant professor, Department of Pediatrics. Alumna: Julie Chor, MD  ’04, MPH, assistant

professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Housestaff: John Byrne, MD, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology; Vincent DiMaggio, MD, Medicine-Pediatrics Residency Program; and Changrui Xiao, MD, Department of Neurology. Frederic Ettner, MD, family medicine practitioner at NorthShore University HealthSystem, received the Volunteer Clinical Faculty Award, which recognizes a community physician who contributes with distinction to the education and training of clinical students. The students chose Howard Bauchner, MD, editorin-chief of JAMA and the JAMA Network, as this year’s AΩA visiting professor.


student Sean Gaffney, M.Ed., with the Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award. The award recognizes physicians and students who best demonstrate the Gold Foundation’s ideals of outstanding compassion in the delivery of care; respect for patients, their families, and health care colleagues; and demonstrated clinical excellence. H. Barrett Fromme, MD, MHPE, associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics, is the 2016 AAMC Humanism in Medicine Award Nominee.

he Gold Humanism Honor Society honors senior medical students, residents, role-model physician teachers, and other exemplars recognized for “demonstrated excellence in clinical care, leadership, compassion and dedication to service.” Seventeen members of the Pritzker School of Medicine Class of 2017 were inducted during a ceremony in Joseph Bond Chapel. In addition, the class honored Nicola Orlov, MD  ’08, MPH, assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics, and fourth-year


Gold Humanism Honor Society



Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society

The 2017 Pritzker School of Medicine Gold Humanism Honor Society inductees are, from left, bottom row: Lindsay Poston, Jackie Wang, Kathryn Kinasz, Hasenin Al-khersan, Pamela Peters. Middle row: Richard Loeb, David Hamilton, Sean Gaffney, M.Ed., Daniel Blech, Victoria Thomas, Laura Christianson, Elizabeth Donnelly. Top row: Christopher Mattson, Oluseyi Fayanju, MA, Gabriel Saltzman, Michael Rydberg, Richard Newcomb.




Your News

Your News 1960s William Sloan, SB  ’63, MD  ’67, was elected to the board of directors of the Violin Society of America. Sloan devotes time to violin construction and has made three complete violins, which were used in performances of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He also spends two weeks each summer at a violinmaking workshop at Oberlin College in Ohio. Sloan continues to practice urology in Los Angeles, presently with Ben Shenassa, MD, but he is attempting to find a little more time for violin making and performance. John E. Beebe, MD  ’65, is the author of “Energies and Patterns in Psychological Type: The Reservoir of Consciousness,” recently published by Routledge. The book encapsulates his work on the analytical psychology of consciousness. William K. Stell, PhD  ’66, MD  ’67, continues to work full time at the University of Calgary doing research, publishing, and supervising student research trainees. He still loves his work.

1970s Paul A. Gallagher, MD  ’72, retired in November 2016 after working 15 years within the prison system and 28 years in private practice. He plans to work a few days per week at a free indigent clinic in his local community. Daniel Levitt, MD  ’75, PhD  ’75, was appointed to the newly created role of chief operating officer of CytRx Corporation, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on discovering, developing and commercializing new therapeutics to treat patients with cancer. Levitt previously served as the company’s executive vice president and chief medical officer. Levitt will continue to serve as CytRx’s chief medical officer, a role he has held since he joined CytRx in 2009.

1980s Jonathan Fox, AB  ’79, PhD  ’85, MD  ’87, after 20 years in Philadelphia, moved to San Francisco almost four years ago to join MyoKardia, a company focused on heritable cardiomyopathies, a group of genetic heart diseases. As CMO, he brought


MyoKardia from a discovery stage startup to a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company in a little more than two years. After helping take the company public in 2015, he recently moved to join another startup in a similar capacity. At Eidos Therapeutics, he is working to develop a targeted therapy for familial amyloid cardiomyopathy. Eidos is a subsidiary of BridgeBio Pharma, a holding company working to find and develop novel approaches to a variety of rare genetic diseases. Jonathan and his wife Suzanne enjoy living in the city, within walking distance of fine food, drink, music, museums and the Bay. He looks forward to seeing classmates at their upcoming 30th Reunion. George R. Woodbury, Jr., AB  ’83, MD  ’87, is a Communications Committee member of the American Society for Mohs Surgery. He has also served as editor of the monthly Health e-newsletter, a publication focused on health care issues in dermatology, rheumatology, and general medicine, as well as healthcare advocacy, since 2007.

1990s Sunanda Singh, AB  ’85, PhD  ’92, MD  ’92, is the founder and CEO of Singh Biotechnology, which uses a novel technology platform to create single-domain antibodies (sdAb) to target intracellular proteins that are important in the pathogenesis of cancer, autoimmune diseases and ophthalmic diseases. In August, the company received the FDA’s Orphan Drug Designation for the treatment of pancreatic cancer. The company plans to file an Investigational New Drug application this year for drugs targeting triple negative breast cancer and pancreatic cancer. Sigal Klipstein, MD  ’97, has been appointed chair of the Committee on Ethics of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. She is also a member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine Ethics Committee. Pringl L. Miller, MD  ’97, is completing a clinical fellowship in hospice and palliative medicine at the University of Chicago Medicine. She has been practicing general surgery since 2002.

Reunion is coming in May Attention medical alumni who graduated in the following years: 1962, 1967, 1972, 1977, 1982, 1987, 1992, 1997, 2002, 2007, 2012.

Due to the ASCO conference and limited availability, Reunion was moved to May 4-6, 2017. See you on campus!

2000s Raina Merchant, MD  ’03, has been named an associate vice president for the University of Pennsylvania Health System and director of the newly created Penn Medicine Center for Digital Health. Merchant is an assistant professor of emergency medicine with secondary appointments in general internal medicine and anesthesia and critical care. In 2012, she was named one of the top 10 national leaders in health care under the age of 40 by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and she has been named by Philadelphia magazine as one of the city’s top doctors under 40. Chemen Neal, MD  ’04, received the 2016 Women of INfluence Trailblazer Healthcare Provider and Research Award from the Indiana University National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health and MDwise. The Trailblazer award is given to a woman who has made an outstanding impact in the community through her work, leadership and services for the advancement of women’s health. Neal was nominated as an inspiring leader and mentor whose hard work to improve equality and increase diversity in academic medicine has been recognized and valued. Oluwaseun (“Seun”) Adelanke Adetayo, MD  ’06, is the director of the Cleft-Craniofacial Center, section chief of pediatric plastic surgery at Albany Medical Center, and assistant professor of plastic surgery at Albany Medical College. Her most recent honors and awards include the University of Chicago Medical & Biological Sciences Alumni Association Distinguished Service Award; Top Plastic Surgeon Award; Clinician Leader in Philanthropy; International Society of Business Leaders Network honoree; Harvard Medical School Office for Diversity Inclusion and Community Partnership Visiting Scholars Program Award honoree; Rotary Foundation Global Grant Award; and American Society of Maxillofacial Surgery and Maxillofacial Surgeon Foundation CRANIO Fellowship Award recipient.


Nicola Orlov, MD  ’08, MPH, is a Leonard Tow Faculty Awardee of the University of Chicago’s Gold Humanism Honor Society and an honoree of the University of Chicago Beta Chapter of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society.

2010s Daniel S. Leventhal, SM  ’13, PhD  ’16, is a research scientist at Agenus, a biotechnology company focused on developing the next generation of immunotherapies for cancer.

Nathan David Smith, SM  ’08, PhD  ’11, is associate curator of the Dinosaur Institute at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and an adjunct associate professor in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Southern California. Previously, he was an assistant professor of biology at Howard University in Washington, D.C. Lauren Sallan, SM  ’09, PhD  ’12, has been named a TED Fellow and will deliver a TED Talk at the organization’s April 24-28 conference in Vancouver. “TED2017: The Future You” is sold out, but highlights will be screened in cinemas worldwide. Paleobiologist Sallan, an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania, uses “deep time databases” to explore how global events, environmental changes and ecological interactions affect biodiversity. A particular interest is using the record of fossil fishes to assess the potential impacts of mass extinction. Sallan earned her doctorate in integrative biology.

In Memoriam 1940s

1950s Theodore L. Johnston, MD  ’50, died on December 19, 2015 in Loveland, Colorado. He was 94 years old. A native of Chicago, Johnston earned degrees in chemical engineering and zoology at Iowa State University. Upon entering medical school in 1946, he met dietetics teacher Barbara Ruby and, as he would repeatedly state, “When she gave me an A, I decided to marry her.”

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Robert “Bud” Ozeran, SB  ’51, MD  ’55, died on June 2, 2016, after living with Alzheimer’s disease for many years. He was 85. After his graduation from medical school, he moved to Los Angeles for surgical training at the Wadsworth VA hospital. On completion of his residency, he continued as staff surgeon at the VA. Starting in 1960, he served two years as a captain in the U.S. Army at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. He returned to Los Angeles and ultimately became chief of surgery at the Wadsworth VA and taught at UCLA Medical Center. He was one of the pioneers of dialysis access surgery and together with Jack Cannon, MD, led the UCLA program. He developed and perfected fistulas and shunts that improved the quality of life for many patients with renal failure — before and after the advent of kidney transplantation — and published many articles and book chapters on the topic. In 1971, Ozeran entered private practice but continued to teach and mentor many surgeons. He was an active and proud member of the American College of Surgeons and served leadership roles in many surgical societies. He loved his family and was proud of their accomplishments. He enjoyed travel, was an excellent chef and supported may charitable causes. He was preceded in death by his wife of 46 years, Sue. He is survived by his four children: Larry, MD  ’86; Steven, AB  ’84, MD  ’88; Danny, SM  ’86, PhD  ’95, MD  ’97; and Victoria; their spouses and seven grandchildren. Jack P. Edelstein, MD  ’56, died on November 25, 2016, in Palo Alto, California. He was 85. A respected physician and psychiatrist, he founded one of the first child and adolescent psychiatry practices in the Palo Alto area. Edelstein interned at Mount Sinai Hospital in Miami Beach

and completed a pediatric residency at the Mayo Clinic. After a stint as a captain in the U.S. Army, he trained in general psychiatry, child and adolescent psychiatry and psychoanalysis at The Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas. He and his wife, Marcia Cecile Swiren, a graduate of the University of Chicago, and their three sons moved to Palo Alto in 1965, where Edelstein established his practice and was appointed clinical professor of psychiatry at Stanford University. Beloved for his gentleness, kindness, humor and intellectual curiosity, he received an Outstanding Teacher Award for his work with residents. He volunteered at the Alzheimer’s Association in his later years and became a reading mentor for schoolchildren. Edelstein is survived by his wife; sons, Mark, Scott and Peter; sister, Vivian Nelson; and six grandchildren.


Robert C. Talley, MD  ’62, died on October 8, 2016, in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He was 80 years old. Talley completed an internship and residency at Yale-New Haven Hospital and was a cardiology fellow at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta. A leader in medical education, Talley served as chair of the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine (SSOM) from 1975 to1987 and as dean and vice president for health affairs from 1987 to 2004. As dean, Talley introduced the now-prevalent longitudinal model for clinical education. He went on to direct the SSOM Internal Medicine Residency Program and to chair the

In Memoriam

James R. McGrath, SB  ’43, MD  ’45, died on November 15, 2016. He was 95 years old. The first full-time pediatrician in the Eastside area of Seattle, McGrath was a trusted physician for three generations of children. The son of a Nebraska physician, he graduated magna cum laude from Doane College, where he met and married Charlotte Balzer in 1945. An accomplished actor in college, he briefly toyed with a stage career but chose to pursue medicine. He served two years as a captain in the U.S. Army Medical Corps. After completing a pediatric fellowship in 1949, he joined the Bellevue Clinic outside of Seattle. McGrath later joined a group of physicians who established the Overlake Medical Center and served as the first chief of pediatrics and then chief of staff. In the 1980s, he became involved with Physicians for Social Responsibility, reflecting his lifelong dedication to nonviolence. He and his wife also supported efforts to provide transitional housing for at-risk groups. McGrath, preceded in death by his wife in 2004, is survived by their children, Margaret, John (Paula), Peter (Barbara), Robert (Yasmine) and Mary (Bill), and 18 grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

After completing his training in ophthalmology, he entered the U.S. Air Force and was stationed in 1955 in Cheyenne, Wyoming. The couple enjoyed Cheyenne, and Johnston and Robert Stump, MD, formed a partnership ophthalmology practice there in 1957. “Dr. Ted” went on to practice at the Cheyenne Eye Clinic and the Johnston Eye Clinic before he retired in 1994. Both Johnston and his wife were active in musical theater and he was a familiar figure on stage, performing lead roles in “Man of La Mancha,”“The Mikado,”“The Pirates of Penzance” and more. He is survived by his children, Randolph L. Johnston, MD (Patty), Patty Johnston McNussen, MD (Jon McNussen), and P. Scott Johnston, MD (Ann Yanagi), three grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

continued on page 40


David P. Gormley Sr., MD  ’61, died on January 1, 2017, after a prolonged illness. A graduate of Tufts University, Gormley interned at Philadelphia General Hospital, completed residency training at the University Hospital in Cincinnati and served two years in the U.S. Public Health Service. Gormley specialized in child psychiatry, first in private practice and then at the Fairfax County (Virginia) Behavioral Health Services. A devoted father of three, he enjoyed traveling, reading, the arts and coin collecting. He is survived by his three sons, David Paul Gormley, Jr., Craig Gormley (Elizabeth) and Blair; their mother, Charlene; and two grandchildren, Melinda and Owen. John R. Hotchkiss Sr., MD  ’61, died in Evanston, Illinois, on November 14, 2016. He was 84 years old. A graduate of Wheaton College, Hotchkiss served as a corpsman in the U.S. Navy before attending medical school, where he was elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society. He completed his internship, medical residency and nephrology fellowship at his alma mater. A quiet, steady physician-educator, he established an active practice in internal medicine and nephrology at Evanston Hospital and taught at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine for 35 years. An avid outdoorsman, Hotchkiss enjoyed many camping trips with his sons and was fascinated by forestry and ornithology. He also loved music, and sang with church choirs the Swedish Choral Club and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Chorus. Hotchkiss is survived by his wife of more than 55 years, Sandra Hotchkiss; their sons, John (Dr. Mary) Hotchkiss, MD, and Andrew (Michelle) Hotchkiss, MD; his sister-in-law, Suzanne Wahlstrom Smith; five grandchildren; and nieces and nephews.

Executive Committee Michael H. Silverman, MD    ’73 President Rene Mora, PhD   ’88, MD   ’89 Immediate Past President Paul R. Rockey, MPH, MD   ’70 Vice President Ernest Mhoon, MD   ’73 Alumni Awards Chair Douglass B. Given, PhD   ’79, MD   ’80 Chicago Partners Chair Chris Albanis, AB   ’96, MD   ’00 Editorial Committee Chair Dean Rider, MD   ’78 Regional Programs Chair Andrew Aronson, MD   ’69 Mark Aschliman, MD   ’80 Juliana Basko-Plluska, AB   ’04, MD Oliver G. Cameron, PhD   ’72, MD   ’74 Amy Derick, MD   ’02 Jeanne Farnan, AB   ’98, MD   ’02 Stanley E. Friedell, MD   ’85 Sanford A. Garfield, PhD   ’74 Susan Glick, MD   ’90 Keith Horvath, AB   ’83, MD   ’87 Joel E. Kleinman, SB   ’66, MD   ’73, PhD   ’74 Karyl Kopaskie, AB   ’07, PhD   ’14 Dennis Lee, MD   ’91 Howard Liang, PhD   ’92, MBA   ’01 Doriane C. Miller, MD   ’83 Christian W. Sikorski, AB   ’94, MD   ’00 Jack Stockert, AB   ’05, MBA   ’10, MD   ’10 Baruch Solomon Ticho, PhD   ’87, MD   ’88 William Weese, MD   ’69 Lifetime Members L.D. Anagnostopoulos, SB   ’57, MD   ’61 Arnold B. Calica, SM   ’61, MD   ’75 Coleman Seskind, AB   ’55, SB   ’56, MD   ’59, SM   ’59 Russ Zajtchuk, SB   ’60, MD   ’63 Student Representatives Olufemi E. Adams, MS2 Ava Ferguson, MS4 Pritzker School of Medicine Ittai Eres Alyssa J. Harker Biological Sciences Division Resident Representatives Noura J. Choudhury, MD   ’16 Robert J. Sanchez, MD   ’15 University of Chicago Medicine




In Memoriam

continued from page 39

American Medical Association Section on Medical Schools and the Internal Medicine Committee of the National Board of Medical Examiners. After retiring as dean emeritus, Talley volunteered at the University of South Dakota and on national medical school committees. He received many awards recognizing his innovative programs to drive excellence in medical education. Talley is survived by his wife, Katherine Ann; his sons, Andy (Judy) and David (Jodi); grandchildren; his sister, Carolyn; brother-in-law, Charles; and son-in-law, Daniel. Peter J. Lindberg, MD  ’65, died from esophageal cancer on September 13, 2016. He was 76 years old. The exuberant, fiercely intelligent cancer specialist completed an internal medicine residency at Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Hospital and a hematology fellowship at Rush Medical College. While serving as a captain in the U.S. Air Force in the mid-1960s, Lindberg “discovered” northern New Mexico during weekend leaves from Cannon Air Force Base.

Captivated by the mountains, he leaped at the chance to practice at Los Alamos Medical Center in 1972 and stayed for more than 40 years. He joined the New Mexico Cancer Center in Albuquerque in 2014 and increasingly focused his research on prostate cancer, treating patients until shortly before his death. Lindberg was active in his church choir, and enjoyed bicycling and his border collies. The born outdoorsman also loved traveling with his wife and children and could always be talked into an adventure. He is survived by his wife of 56 years, Mary; his daughters, Kirstin, MD  ’04, and Katherine; three grandchildren, Avery, Kiera and Hawke; his sons-in-law Tim, MBA  ’05, and Shane; and his dogs and cats. John D. Zachary, MD  ’67, died on May 2, 2016 in Strongsville, Ohio. He was 76 years old. He was a caring surgeon whose utmost concern was his availability to his patients. A man of grace and strength, he is remembered for his humor, brilliance, keen understanding of humanity and ability to share his knowledge with others. He is

survived by his wife, Wendy; his children, Alaine (Raul Diaz) and Sharon; grandchildren, Carolina, Alexandra, Jessica, Elizabeth, Rebecca, Allen, Evan and Ryan; and siblings Delores, Joseph, Carol, Elaine, and Alexandra. Blake Berven, MD  ’68, died in Klamath Falls, Oregon, on September 29, 2016. He was 73 years old. After finishing his residency at the University of Michigan, he moved his family to Klamath Falls, becoming a beloved figure in the medical community over the next 40 years. An internist in private practice, Berven became a well-known specialist in geriatrics and infectious disease, most recently working as a hospitalist at Sky Lakes Medical Center. A fellow of the American College of Physicians, he took great pride in caring for his patients and teaching the next generation of doctors at Oregon Health and Science University. An avid outdoorsman, Berven loved hiking, rock climbing, fishing and skiing. He will be remembered as a kind and gentle man with time for everyone. He is survived by his wife, Nancy, and family, including his children, Shawn, Gwen, Mike, Ric, Angie and Allen; nine grandchildren; and a sister, Pam.


John C. Bailar, MD, PhD

R “John Bailar was a distinguished biostatistician and cancer epidemiologist, with a strong and often controversial voice in aspects of health policy.” Ronald Thisted, PhD Professor, Departments of Public Health Sciences, Statistics, and Anesthesia and Critical Care


enowned biostatistician and epidemiologist John C. Bailar, III, MD, PhD, who redirected U.S. cancer policy, died September 6, 2016. He was 83. A professor emeritus in the Department of Public Health Sciences, the public health advocate’s six-decade career inspired rigorous statistical analysis in clinical investigations and championed prevention as a tactic in the war on cancer. His controversial study “Progress against Cancer?”, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1986, argued that the nation’s basic anti-cancer battle plan was a failure after 35 years. Cancer research focused too much on treatment at the expense of prevention, suggested Bailar and co-author Elaine Smith, PhD, and death rates from cancer had barely budged despite significant investments. The article “shook the world of oncology by the roots,” wrote Siddhartha Mukherjee, MD, author of the “The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer.” A decade later, Bailar, then at UChicago, working with then-fourth-year medical student co-author Heather Gornik, published a sequel, “Cancer Undefeated.” Another decade of statistical evidence supported the previous findings. This shift in perspective “contributed to the moment at which the war on cancer became a war on smoking,” Mukherjee pointed out. The outspoken Bailar also published and lectured extensively on health and statistical issues such as the risks and benefits of mammography and the impact of environmental exposures. Bailar earned his medical degree from Yale School of Medicine and his PhD in statistics from American University in Washington, D.C. He spent much of his early career at the National Cancer Institute. He moved to Boston in 1980 to teach biostatistics at the Harvard School of Public Health, serving also as a statistical consultant and later as a member of the editorial board for the New England Journal of Medicine. Posts with the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Health and Human Services and McGill University followed. Bailar joined UChicago as a professor and the first chairman of the Department of Health Studies (now Public Health Sciences) in 1995, with an additional appointment in the Harris School of Public Policy. His many honors include a MacArthur Fellowship and election to the Institute of Medicine (now the National Academy of Medicine) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is survived by his wife Barbara; brother Benjamin; children, Elizabeth, Melissa, John IV and James; one stepdaughter, Pamela Monaco; and eight grandchildren.


1970s Jack L. Weiss, MD  ’77, passed away suddenly on August 29, 2015. He was 63. The respected eye and vision specialist served as chief of ophthalmology at Scripps Memorial Hospital Encinitas and Sharp-Rees Stealy Medical Group. He also was medical director of Pacific Laser Eye Center in La Jolla, a partner at Gordon Weiss Schanzlin Vision Institute and most recently medical director at Vision Eye Centers. His work garnered Weiss several honors, including the American Academy of Ophthalmology annual award for outstanding research. His is survived by his beloved wife, Beth; children Adam (Gosia), Josh, and Caroline (Greg); stepdaughter Jennifer; granddaughter Julia; stepgrandson Keaton; mother Ruth; siblings Marcy (Lex), Gary (Cathleen) and Cynthia (Benjamin) and many family members and friends.

Faculty Edward S. Ogata, MD, MBA, a neonatologist at the University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children’s Hospital, died on February 24, 2017, surrounded by his family after a stroke. Ogata, 71, was a professor of pediatrics and director of pediatric outreach and process improvement programs. Before joining UChicago Medicine as a consultant in 2014, he served as chief medical officer of the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago from 1998 to 2012, where he was instrumental in opening the hospital’s new downtown facility. From 2012 to 2014, he was chief medical officer at Sidra Medical and Research Center, an academic medical center that cares for women and children in Qatar. Ogata earned his undergraduate degree from Harvard University in 1967 and completed degrees at the Northwestern University Medical School (now the Feinberg School of Medicine) and J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management. He completed his internship and residency at the University of California-San Francisco Medical Center. He also served as a major in the U.S. Army Medical Corps from 1975 until 1977. He was a loving and attentive father and grandfather, and his many interests included sailing, fly fishing, biking and cooking. Along with myriad friends and colleagues, Ogata is survived by his wife, Kathleen Field Orr; three daughters, Alexa, Beth and Maisie; two stepchildren, Elizabeth and James; and four grandchildren, Patrick, Peter, Liam and Emma. A memorial service was held April 1 in Rockefeller Memorial Chapel.

7 May 4-6, 2017 1962 | 1967 | 1972 | 1977 | 1982 | 1987 | 1992 | 1997 | 2002 | 2007 | 2012

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Robotic duo Neuroscientists Sliman Bensmaia, PhD, left, and Nicholas Hatsopoulos, PhD, decode the brain’s language behind the hand’s movement and sense of touch. Hatsopoulos helped develop the technology that enables neural signals to control movement in robotic limbs. Bensmaia’s work led to the creation of a robotic hand that sends electrical signals to the brain, recreating the same response to touch as that of a real hand. Photo by Kentaro Yamada for his project, The Uplifted. See more of Yamada’s captivating portraits of our faculty on page 4.

Medicine on the Midway - Spring 2017  
Medicine on the Midway - Spring 2017  

Medicine on the Midway is published for friends, alumni and faculty of the University of Chicago Medicine, the University of Chicago Divisio...