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S PR ING 2018

Biological Sciences Division

Taking on trauma

By treating violence as a public health issue, UChicago Medicine trauma experts seek to transform care in our community

Dean’s Letter

Dear Colleagues,

I We have a unique opportunity to develop a comprehensive and integrated program that transcends medical care to break the cycle of violence on the South Side.

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

n April 2018, we shared news that the Illinois Department of Public Health approved the University of Chicago Medicine as a Level 1 Adult Trauma Center. This regulatory decision cleared the remaining hurdle for the May 1 launch of adult trauma care at UChicago Medicine’s main Hyde Park campus, thereby bringing this critical service to the South Side of Chicago. While this announcement marks a significant moment for our institution and the community, it also represents a unique opportunity to develop a comprehensive and integrated program that not only builds upon our long-standing pediatric trauma and burn services, but also transcends medical care to hopefully break the cycle of violence on the South Side. Our cover story, which begins on Page 12, explores UChicago Medicine’s plans to take on gun violence as a public health issue by bringing together University of Chicago, community and civic resources to better understand the impact social factors have on our trauma patients. Gaining such knowledge will be crucial to developing programming that not only supports trauma patients even after they are discharged from the hospital, but also helps to address the long-lasting effects of violence on the community. Also in this issue, we explore the complex research of scientists at UChicago and Argonne National Laboratory to map all the neural connections of the human brain. The work involves an estimated 100 billion neurons and neural connections that number in the quadrillions. Needless to say, a complete mapping of this maze of connections, also known as the connectome, is an enormous task that involves a tremendous amount of data. Narayanan “Bobby” Kasthuri, MD, DPhil, and his colleagues are tackling this challenge by using advances in supercomputing, microscopy and neurobiology to study the brain’s inner mechanisms in incredible detail. This research could help us understand what makes us who we are and how the brain is linked to behavior, or lead to better treatments for neurological conditions and supercomputers that don’t require as much energy to operate. The possibilities that come from this connectome research are bounded only by our imagination. While fascinating research continues in laboratories like Kasthuri’s, there is other important work being done in our Biological Sciences Division and the Pritzker School of Medicine. On Page 26, you will learn about the student-led Graduate Recruitment Initiative Team (GRIT) and its resolute co-founders, who are working to enhance diversity and inclusion across our graduate programs — which, in turn, fosters a more creative and innovative environment. And in Pritzker News, you will meet recent graduates whose service to the community will benefit our neighbors for years to come. Finally, we honor the legacy of Ernest Everett Just (PhD 1916), a pioneering biologist who was one of the few African Americans in the country with a doctorate in the natural sciences at the time. His presence on campus lasted only three academic quarters, but his research on marine organisms made fundamental contributions to the body of knowledge in embryology.



on the


Biological Sciences Division

SP RIN G 2018

Taking on trauma

On May 1, the University of Chicago Medicine launched Level 1 adult trauma services, bringing critical care to the South Side. Director Selwyn Rogers Jr., MD, MPH, and his team are shaping a hospital-based program that not only delivers high-level medical care but also partners with the community to tackle violence from all sides. C OV E R S T O R Y

By treating violence as a public health issue, UChicago Medicine trauma experts seek to transform care in our community

Features 6

22 Fitting image

Brain puzzle Argonne’s

25 Cleft care Court Cutting,

Honoring the contributions and legacy of embryologist E.E.

supercomputer is helping neuroscientist Bobby Kasthuri, MD, DPhil, untangle the connections in our brains. 2

Just, PhD 1916.

MD’75, helped create the first cleft lip and palate surgical simulations. Now in retirement, he continues his work to train surgeons worldwide.


Departments Letter from the Dean

BSD News

Pritzker News

Midway News

26 Students lead initiative to recruit more minority students for graduate programs

30 Meet MS4 Shirlene Obuobi and her alter ego, ShirlyWhirl, MD, and enter Medicine on the Midway’s first-ever comic caption contest

28 Scientists reveal the human brain has tripled in size — over 3 million years

32 Graduating students leave behind enduring models for community engagement

3 U.S. News & World Report ranks Pritzker and the BSD among the top programs in the country


4 Diabetes expert Louis H. Philipson, PhD’82, MD’86, honored with a named professorship and a 2018 Order of Lincoln award


34 Match Day 2018


36 Honor society inductions 37 Your News 38 In Memoriam


on the

Spring 2018 Volume 71, 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 Arnold Calica, SM  ’61, MD  ’75 J. Palmer Greene, MS3 Matt Present, MS3 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

Editorial Contributors John Easton Bethany Hubbard Louise Lerner Ellen McGrew Rob Mitchum Brooke E. O’Neill Angela Wells O’Connor Colleen Radzevich Kristin Baird Rattini Gretchen Rubin Anne Stein Matt Wood Lorna Wong Molly Woulfe UChicago News Office Design Wilkinson Design

Photo Contributors Rob Hart Robert Kozloff Jean Lachat Mark Lopez Andrew Nelles Victor Powell Eileen Ryan Joe Sterbenc Joel Wintermantle Nancy Wong 20/20 Communications Marine Biological Laboratory Pritzker School of Medicine Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library





Midway Midway News

New center to study biological systems designed via evolution BY LOUISE LERNER


Bioengineering scholar Rama Ranganathan, MD, PhD, leads the Center for Physics of Evolving Systems.



he University of Chicago has launched the University of Chicago,” said Kenneth S. Polonsky, Center for Physics of Evolving Systems to MD, dean of the Biological Sciences Division and study the secrets behind the extraordinary the Pritzker School of Medicine, and executive vice efficiency, flexibility and robustness of biological president for medical affairs for the University of systems designed via evolution. Chicago. “The creation of this new center, with The new center spans the Biological Sciences Professor Ranganathan at the helm, continues that Division and the Institute for Molecular Engineering, tradition as we explore the fundamental mechanisms bringing together faculty across biology, physics and that define all biological systems.” engineering, and potentially the humanities. “ We’re now at a point where we can begin Nature is full of systems that boggle the minds of engineers. Built by evolution, these systems — like the transitioning from studying parts of the system to proteins in our cells — are constantly performing very trying to understand the whole.” precise and complex tasks, while adapting startlingly Rama Ranganathan, MD, PhD fast to new conditions. This fascinates scientists, who want to illuminate the fundamental principles Ranganathan studies the evolution of biological of design and physics at play — both to understand systems such as proteins and cellular signaling, biology and disease and to improve engineering. decoding the complex processes by which cells communicate with each other and sense their environments. His laboratory combines experimental laboratory work with modeling and simulation, all to unravel the dynamics of biological systems. “My goal has always been the understanding of living systems and the design principles that underlie them,” Ranganathan said. “Thanks to a series of breakthroughs in the past decade, we’re now at a point where we can begin transitioning from studying parts of the system to trying to understand the whole.” “Professor Ranganathan’s focus on understanding the curious mix of robustness and sensitivity of biological systems holds many instructive insights for several of the Institute for Molecular Engineering’s goals, such as our immunology program,” said Matthew Tirrell, PhD, founding Pritzker Director of the Institute for Molecular Engineering. To lead the center, prominent scientist Rama Ranganathan said that he was attracted to the Ranganathan, MD, PhD, has joined the University University’s approach to basic science research. as professor in the Department of Biochemistry and “I’ve always admired the University’s enormous Molecular Biology and the Institute for Molecular commitment to fundamental sciences,” he said. The Engineering. He also leads the BioCARS beamline breadth of the University’s research is attractive at the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National as well: “This really resonates with my idea of the Laboratory. Center for Physics of Evolving Systems, which is to “Collaboration across several scientific disciplines draw from the strengths of different areas to try to has always been a defining feature of research at the address this problem of evolution.”



Paleontology program ranks No. 1 in country, Pritzker tops in Illinois The University of Chicago Biological

Sciences Division moved up one notch to No. 13 — with the paleontology program retaining its top rating and the ecology and evolution program placing eighth — in the 2019 edition of U.S. News & World Report’s survey of the country’s best biological sciences doctoral programs. Meanwhile, the Pritzker School of Medicine placed No. 18 among the best medical schools for research. University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine Median total MCAT score: 520 Median undergraduate GPA: 3.9 SOURCE: U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT (2017 DATA)

Of the 144 medical schools surveyed by U.S. News, Pritzker tied with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai for the 18th spot, with the primary care program placing No. 39. In the previous year, Pritzker was ranked No. 15 among research medical schools and its primary care program was listed at No. 34. Pritzker remains the highest-ranking research medical school in Illinois, ahead of Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine (No. 20). In addition, Pritzker tied with Harvard Medical School and the University of Pennsylvania as the nation’s third-most-selective medical school and ranked among the top five in the country for average National Institutes of Health funding per faculty member ($271,000).

The nation’s 275 biological sciences programs are ranked every four years. The University of Chicago’s paleontology program, which draws from the interdepartmental and inter-institutional Committee on Evolutionary Biology, remains the No. 1rated program in the country, as it has been for more than a decade. The BSD’s doctoral programs tied for No. 13 with Rockefeller University and Washington University in St. Louis. The University’s ecology and evolution program ranked No. 8, down from No. 4 four years ago.


UChicago Medicine attains Magnet Recognition for nursing The University of Chicago Medicine has received the prestigious Magnet Recognition from the American Nurses Credentialing Center. This designation is the highest national honor that recognizes quality patient care and excellence in the professional practice of nursing. The recognition validates the tremendous work and achievements accomplished over

multiple years involving many parts of the organization. The Journey to Magnet began in 2012 with a commitment to increase the voice of nursing teams and empower them to participate in all aspects of decision-making at UChicago Medicine. This effort led to consistently improving patient quality and safety results, as evidenced by the string of A ratings from The Leapfrog Group, among

other national metrics. Patient satisfaction scores also have been inching upward. This designation recognizing nursing excellence could not have been achieved without an enterprise-wide dedication to collaboration, evidence-based practices, quality and safety, and transformational leadership that recognizes and welcomes the voice of nurses in all decision-making at UChicago Medicine.

Leader status recognizes LGBTQ policies The University of Chicago Medicine was named an LGBTQ Healthcare Equality Leader by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation for the fourth year in a row for the academic health system’s inclusive policies and practices related to LGBTQ patients, visitors and employees. “Receiving this designation demonstrates UChicago Medicine’s continued commitment to ensuring we are an organization that welcomes diversity and understands

its benefits in providing quality care for our patients and a safe, inclusive work environment for our employees,” said Brenda Battle, BSN, MBA, RN, vice president, Urban Health Initiative and chief diversity and inclusion officer. UChicago Medicine was one of 418 facilities nationwide to earn the designation, including 10 in Illinois. The 11th edition of the Healthcare Equality Index (HEI) marks the second year

that participants have been given a numerical score based on their LGBTQ-inclusive policies and practices. HEI participants are given scores in four criteria: foundational elements of LGBTQ patient-centered care, LGBTQ patient services and support, employee benefits and policies, and LGBTQ patient and community engagement. UChicago Medicine received the maximum score in each section, earning leader status. MEDICINE ON THE MIDWAY




Midway Midway News

Diabetes authority Louis Philipson honored


ouis H. Philipson, PhD’82, MD’86, professor of medicine and pediatrics and director of the University of Chicago Medicine Kovler Diabetes Center, has been named the first James C. Tyree Professor in Diabetes Research and Care. The endowed professorship continues Tyree’s mission of supporting innovative diabetes care, research and education. Tyree, who lived with diabetes for more than 25 years, was an advocate of research, patient education, counseling, and behavioral health and wellness services. The former chairman and CEO of Mesirow Financial Holdings and board member of the University of Chicago Medical Center died in March 2011 at age 53, while being treated at the medical center for stomach cancer. “I wanted to find another way to honor the memory of my husband and continue his legacy in terms of supporting research and the mission of the Kovler Diabetes Center,” said Eve M. Tyree, chairwoman of the board of the James C. Tyree Charitable Foundation. An authority on diabetes, Philipson and his colleagues have discovered insulin gene mutations that cause neonatal diabetes, and he has helped make

Dean Kenneth Polonsky, MD, left, Eve M. Tyree and Louis Philipson, PhD’82, MD’86, following Philipson’s lecture, “Diabetes: The Chicago Way.” Philipson is the first James C. Tyree Professor in Diabetes Research and Care. PHOTO BY JOEL WINTERMANTLE

UChicago Medicine the national leader in the study of monogenic diabetes. He also directs research in preventing and treating Type 1 diabetes. Last fall, Philipson was named a recipient of the 2018 Order of Lincoln award, which honors public service for the betterment of humanity in Illinois, considered the state’s highest civilian honor. “I am humbled by this magnificent gesture and grateful to the Tyree family and foundation, as it increases the stature and recognition of our entire diabetes program, including the faculty and my colleagues,” Philipson said. “It is particularly meaningful to me because Jim was a special friend and advisor who helped our diabetes center get started.”


Lobbying for women’s health Four University of Chicago OB-GYN

residents recently traveled to Washington, D.C., to learn how to be better advocates for their patients and lobby for continued federal investment in women’s health. Resident physicians Michelle Brown, MD, Caroline Kuhn, MD’16, Alison Bialecki, MD, and Katharina Laus, MD, attended the annual Congressional Leadership Conference hosted by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. This year, the conference focused on advocating for federal funding to support

maternal mortality review committees and continued support for Medicaid, which provides access to lifesaving prenatal care and cancer screening. After two days of learning about these issues from national experts, more than 600 OB-GYNs traveled to Capitol Hill to speak directly with their senators, representatives and congressional staff. “We were proud to be among those physicians who lobbied on the Hill and look forward to taking the lessons we learned back to Chicago to advocate for those here at home,” Brown said.

Read resident physician Michelle Brown’s op-ed on women’s health advocacy: 4


Resident physicians Michelle Brown, MD, left, Caroline Kuhn, MD’16, Alison Bialecki, MD, and Katharina Laus, MD, in Washington, D.C., where they attended a lobbying “boot camp” to learn effective techniques for legislative advocacy.


Irish exchange program honors legacy of pioneering radiologist John Fennessy, MB, BCh, former chair

of the University of Chicago Department of Radiology, was an internationally recognized thoracic and GI radiologist and a beloved teacher, colleague and clinician. Though he lived for decades in Hyde Park, he kept close ties with his native Ireland, which he visited often. “I think everyone in Ireland knew Dr. Fennessy,” said Christopher Straus, LAB’84, AB’88, MD’92, associate professor of radiology. Fennessy died in 2015 at age 82. His former students and colleagues have established an endowed fund to support the John J. Fennessy Exchange Scholars

Program. The exchanges will last two to four weeks and give radiologists and trainees at the University of Chicago Medicine and in Ireland the opportunity to experience how the specialty is practiced in each other’s countries. “It was the best way we could honor what was really special to him,” Straus said. The program’s goals are to increase global awareness and foster a two-way exchange of information that leads to long-term collaboration and research. “How they allocate their imaging in Ireland is certainly different because they have government health care and different resources,” Straus said. “We and they have much to learn from each other.”

John Fennessy, MB, BCh

The Department of Radiology’s Hodges Society — an alumni society for residents, fellows and faculty of the department — has raised $95,000 toward the $150,000 needed to launch the program. Donations can be made at on the donor page of the “Give” site. Choose “Radiology — Hodges Society” from the drop-down menu; please specify the Fennessy fund in the Special Instructions section. Donations may also be mailed to: Department of Radiology, Fennessy Fund, UChicago Medicine, 5841 S. Maryland Ave., MC 2026, Chicago, IL 60637. If you have questions or stories to share, email


New double degree program in global health policy launches


he University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy and the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) are now offering the world’s first transatlantic master’s program in global health policy and economics. “This is such a unique opportunity to share experiences across borders,” said Jason Helgerson, MPP’95 and Medicaid

director for the state of New York. “Health care challenges are not unique to the U.S. There’s a tremendous amount that we can and should be learning from each other.” The Double Executive Master’s in Health Policy will equip mid-career professionals to create solutions to significant health care issues and manage large-scale challenges in the private, public and government sectors. Thought leadership will be brought to life by world-class faculty at the heart of policy decision-making and research. The program will be taught evenly between Chicago and London in executive-style teaching modules. In each year of the twoyear program, participants spend two to three weeks in London and two to three weeks in Chicago. The intensive curriculum covers foundations in global health policy and health care economics. Participants who successfully complete the program will receive two degrees: a master of arts from Harris and a master of science from LSE.

“There is a tremendous need to develop health care leaders who can effectively operate across widely varying health care systems,” said Ryan Richardson, IMB’11, vice president of Healthcare Investment Banking at JP Morgan Chase and an alumnus of LSE and the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. “This extraordinary program is uniquely placed to address this need.” The two universities also will seek to establish a joint research fund encouraging collaborative research in global health and related policy areas. Learn more:




Wiring diagram Can the connections between the 100 billion neurons in the human brain be mapped?

Neuroscientist Bobby Kasthuri, MD, DPhil, and colleagues at the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory tackle the brain’s mind-boggling complexity






f you want to know how a machine works, it helps to look inside. Crack open the case and look at how it’s wired together; you might need an engineering degree, a microscope and a lot of time, but eventually you can puzzle out what makes any given device tick. But can that same approach work for the most amazing machine we know, one capable of making complex calculations in a fraction of a second, while using less energy than a common light bulb? Reverse engineering the human brain is one of the great scientific challenges of our time, and scientists at the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory are combining new techniques in microscopy, neurobiology and computing to reveal the brain’s inner mechanisms in unprecedented detail. Treating the brain as a machine is not a far-fetched metaphor. In the abstract, the brain is an electrochemical computer, operating on electrical impulses and chemical signals sent between cells. Though the individual pieces may be small, on the scale of mere nanometers, drawing the wiring diagram for this machinery is theoretically possible, and has been done for very simple organisms such as the roundworm C. elegans. But the size and complexity of the human brain create far bigger challenges. Scientists estimate that the brain contains nearly 100 billion neurons, the basic type of brain cell. Each of those neurons makes tens of thousands of contacts with other cells, bringing the number of connections into the quadrillions, or a million billion. A complete map of these connections — sometimes called the connectome — would be nothing less than the largest dataset ever created. But within that massive inventory could lie answers to some of the most elusive scientific questions: the fundamental rules of cognition, explanations for many mental illnesses, even the biological factors that separate humans from other animals. “It’s a huge theory of neuroscience that all of our behaviors, all of our pathologies, all of our illnesses, all of the learning that we do, is all due to changes in the connections between brain cells,” said Narayanan


A 3-D reconstruction of five synaptic connections clustered on a small bump in a neuron’s long, stringy axon (blue).

“Bobby” Kasthuri, MD, DPhil, assistant professor of neurobiology at the University and neuroscience researcher at Argonne. “It’s probably the equivalent of the standard model in physics, but in neuroscience.”

‘Soft, squishy things’ Since the time of Hippocrates and Herophilus, scientists have placed the location of the mind, emotions and intelligence in the brain. For centuries, this theory was explored through anatomical dissection, as the early neuroscientists named and proposed functions for the various sections of this unusual organ. It wasn’t until the late 19th century that Camillo Golgi and Santiago Ramón y Cajal developed the methods to look deeper into the brain, using a silver stain to detect the long, stringy cells now known as neurons and their connections, called synapses. Today, neuroanatomy involves the most powerful microscopes and computers on the planet. Viewing synapses, which are only nanometers in length, requires an electron microscope imaging a slice of brain thousands of times thinner than a sheet of paper. To map an entire human brain would require 300,000 of these images, and even reconstructing a small three-dimensional brain region from these snapshots requires roughly the same supercomputing power it takes to run an astronomy simulation of the universe. Fortunately, both of these resources exist at Argonne, where, in 2015, Kasthuri was the first neuroscientist ever hired by the U.S. Department of Energy laboratory. Peter Littlewood, PhD, the former director of Argonne who brought him in, recognized that connectome research was going to be one of the great big data challenges of the coming decades, one that UChicago and Argonne were perfectly poised to tackle. “All real advances in science are advances in technology,” said Littlewood, professor of physics at the University. “What we were doing at Argonne with X-rays and electron microscopy was going to produce a straightforward change in the way we could process data in high resolution. We just needed somebody crazy enough to imagine this was a real possibility and who also owned the technology and understanding to do it.”

Hear Bobby Kasthuri talk about brain mapping at





Peter Littlewood, PhD, professor of physics at the University of Chicago and former director of Argonne National Laboratory.

roughly the same,” Papka said. “Actually, the brain’s probably even more complex.” But the close relationship between the University and Argonne provides a unique location to untangle this knot. “At most other universities, I’d just have to give up this idea,” Kasthuri said. “Even a small part of a brain I could never map, because even 1 percent of a mouse brain is something like 1,000 terabytes of data. No other university in the world, I think, could conceivably handle that.”

Comparing connections

Just 1 percent of a mouse brain yields 1,000 terabytes of data. A complete map of connections in the human brain would be the largest data set ever created.


Kasthuri brought with him automated methods he developed for efficiently mapping the brain. A diamond knife with an edge only five atoms thick cuts 50-nanometer-thin slices of human, mouse or even octopus brain, which float away on water to a conveyer belt that takes them sequentially beneath the gaze of an electron microscope. “You look at Bobby’s setup, it’s like somebody slicing cheese at the deli,” said Michael Papka, SM’02, PhD’09, director of the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility and professor of computer science at Northern Illinois University. “It’s not the world that computer scientists normally work with, it’s soft squishy things. I find it a fascinating pipeline.” That’s the easy part. The Theta supercomputer at Argonne clocks out at 11.69 petaflops — between 11,000 and 12,000 million million operations per second. It’s typically used for processing particle physics data from the Large Hadron Collider at CERN or running models of universal expansion that assist the search for dark matter. Kasthuri’s data, Papka said, is beyond the capabilities of this world-class machine; the data has to be simplified, or downscaled, before it can be analyzed. “Bobby talks about the number of neurons and number of galaxies, how complexity-wise they’re


To reduce this mind-boggling complexity into more practical science, Kasthuri is starting (relatively) small. Where other high-profile connectome projects have focused on building a complete map of the human brain, Kasthuri is focusing first on comparisons: between young brains and old, between animal brains and human, between “normal” brains and the brains of people with mental disorders. “I think the only way we’re going to understand the brain is by comparing it to other things,” he said. “As far as we know, a neuron in the mouse looks like a neuron in the human. The ion channels in a mouse neuron are the same; the genes are the same. We’re left with this idea that the difference between a human brain and a mouse brain is in the pattern of connections, the number of neurons and, therefore, the number of connections in those two brains.” One approach is to compare a common segment of brain from two very different organisms, such as the mouse and the octopus. The largest invertebrate brain belongs to the octopus, and cephalopod species have been well studied with neuropsychological and genetic methods by scientists such as Clifton Ragsdale, PhD, professor of neurobiology at the University. In a proposed project with Ragsdale, Kasthuri will map and compare the visual brain areas of the mouse and octopus — the latter an extremely visual species, yet one that views the world differently from most mammals, focusing on form instead of movement. “If you’re going to apply connectomic techniques to a particular system in octopus, then you should pick something like vision,” Ragsdale said. “What’s striking about it is the eye looks vertebrate-like, but as soon as you hit the photoreceptors and the optic lobe, those are invertebrate structures. So we might get insight at a circuit level into how cephalopod mollusks carry out their visual processing, and knowing the key elements of the circuitry is essential to begin to have any chance of understanding how neural circuits in invertebrates and vertebrates underlie behavior.”

“ I think the only way we’re going to understand the brain is by comparing it to other things,” Kasthuri said. In a proposed project with Clifton Ragsdale, PhD, professor of neurobiology, he will map and compare the visual brain areas of the mouse and the octopus.




Two neighboring neurons (blue and green) form multiple synaptic connections (orange) with each other.

“ It’s a huge theory of neuroscience that all of our behaviors, all of our pathologies, all of our illnesses, all of the learning that we do, is all due to changes in the connections between brain cells.” Narayanan “Bobby” Kasthuri, MD, DPhil




continued from Page 8


Unlocking the possibilities Extending the applications of connectome research to medicine may be a longer road. Though scientists have found evidence of neuroanatomical differences in people suffering from schizophrenia and behavioral disorders, the link remains controversial. Instead, the near-term benefits of brain mapping will be to equip scientists studying more elemental links between brain and behavior with a deeper understanding of the organ’s complex mechanical structure. “You won’t understand the brain with just the wiring diagram, but you also probably won’t understand the brain without that wiring diagram,” said John Maunsell, PhD, the Albert D. Lasker Professor of neurobiology and director of the Grossman Institute for Neuroscience, Quantitative Biology and Human Behavior. “On the basic science side, there’s lots of different questions that haven’t been approachable, things I think are just sitting there waiting to be done as soon as we can get some really solid data on what’s changing synaptically.” Another potential application spills outside of neurobiology itself into the world of computer engineering. Computer scientists already take inspiration from the brain in how they design both hardware and algorithms — one popular machine learning technique used to make predictions on data is called a “neural network” and works in similar fashion to today’s understanding of how neuronal connections strengthen and weaken. The connectome’s higher-resolution view of how the brain stores information and learns new

functions could lead to even more advanced artificial intelligence approaches. And the incredible energy efficiency of the brain — running at only about 20 watts — could hold lessons for designing less power-hungry supercomputers. “Our brains can compute at an energy scale that’s impossible to currently imagine with these kinds of computers, and [people] can still do operations that these computers cannot do,” Kasthuri said. “There’s already an effort here — at Argonne and at the UChicago Institute of Molecular Engineering — to think about the next generation of computing hardware. If that next generation is modeled on the energy efficiency of our brains, that is going to be a game changer.” For the computers inside our skulls, mapping the connectome also unlocks myriad new science and engineering possibilities. Like the Human Genome Project, its potential is equaled only by its challenges,

Scientists can look at brain regions down to the subcellular level; here, mitochondria illustrate the intricate tangle of neuronal subtypes (represented by different colors) at a single synapse.


Another comparison, this one within species, could offer answers to a classic dilemma: Can you teach an old dog, or human, new tricks? Kasthuri, fascinated by the ability of children to easily acquire new skills or assimilate culturally compared to adults’ difficulty with the same tasks, wants to compare young and old brains. Beyond the age curve of learning, such a study could also address fundamental questions about how the adult brain is built — one connection at a time like a mosaic or pruned from a surplus of neurons and connections like a topiary. “There’s some deep trade-off in our brains between having a young brain capable of learning anything but not really being good at any of it, and having an adult brain being good at a few things, but having no capacity to learn,” Kasthuri said. “There has to be a physical basis to this phenomenon at some level, and I want to know what that is.”

and the path to the finish line is steep, but reaching it and understanding how the brain is wired can make great strides in teaching us who we are. “I have to categorically dismiss the claim that it’s beyond our understanding,” Maunsell said. “It is complex, it’s fantastically complex. But just because we’re not there yet doesn’t mean we’re not going to get there. And you know the whole history of science is just breaking down these walls one after the next.”

John Maunsell, PhD, director of the Grossman Institute for Neuroscience, Quantitative Biology and Human Behavior. Maunsell is now co-chairing a working group, assembled by the NIH Director’s Advisory Committee, to review progress on the U.S. BRAIN Initiative and advise on future directions.




No little plans The University of Chicago Medicine’s new Level 1 Adult Trauma Center takes on gun violence as a public health crisis. Our trauma specialists want to break the cycle on the South Side — and create models of violence prevention that can be replicated nationally.


bviously it’s a huge job to stand up a Level 1 trauma center from the ground up,” said Selwyn Rogers Jr., MD, MPH, director of the University of Chicago Medicine’s new Level 1 Adult Trauma Center and chief of trauma and acute care surgery. “But it can’t be the only solution.” For Rogers, filling the 27-year absence of adult trauma care on Chicago’s South Side is part of a much larger mission: reduce the violence that has left residents devastated and a generation traumatized. “I attend a community event here on the South Side and there might be 100 people in the room, half of whom know someone who’s been killed by gun violence,” said Rogers, who also serves as executive vice president for community health engagement. “What does that do to someone’s psyche? What does that do to their sense of wellness?”



These are questions Rogers has weighed heavily as he has brought together a multidisciplinary team of surgeons and recovery experts and joined forces with innovators across the University to combat gun violence. Although most of the patients UChicago Medicine treats won’t be gunshot victims — the most common life-threatening injuries that bring people to any trauma center are car accidents and falls — many will be. “If we don’t address violence as a public health issue,” Rogers said, “and deal with its root causes — the impact of trauma over the life cycle, the lived experiences of communities that are chronically disinvested in, and the resulting poverty, discrimination, and lack of economic opportunity — we will continue to see this problem of intentional violence manifest itself.” The father of three sons, ages 15, 18 and 22, he often



“ We have an opportunity to do something transformative here on the South Side.”

Selwyn Rogers Jr., MD, MPH Director, University of Chicago Medicine Level 1 Adult Trauma Center



reflects on how environment shapes trajectory. He thinks about how his youngest, a high school sophomore, called him up in a panic because he didn’t yet know what his college major was going to be. “The point is, my son is future oriented,” Rogers said. “He’s traveled, he’s thinking about what’s next. I meet another 15-year-old in Englewood, lives 2.3 miles from Lake Michigan and he’s never seen the lake, never been to the Magnificent Mile. Tell me his future orientation compared to my son’s. How can you imagine a world or how can you be what you can’t see? In some ways, that’s one of our greatest challenges because we are likely wasting generations of young people who don’t become their best selves. “Now, those are all big things,” Rogers said. “But, as Daniel Burnham once said, ‘Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s — ‘and women’s,’ Rogers added — blood.’”

Breaking the cycle of violence It’s a rallying cry that has resounded loud and clear among his trauma surgery team. Joining UChicago Medicine from cities such as Flint, Michigan; Los Angeles; and Cleveland, all besieged by violence of their own, many have come to the South Side frustrated by what they see as a disconnect between what they do in the operating room and the situations that bring patients there in the first place. 14


“It’s very easy for us as trauma surgeons to just operate on people, take care of them in the ICU, and leave it at that,” said Jennifer Cone, MD, MHS, a Chicago native who recently completed her surgical fellowship at Los Angeles County Medical Center. “But that’s not fixing anything when we get the same patients in over and over.” Military veteran Kenneth Wilson, MD, agrees. “My entire surgical career I’ve struggled with the fact that we’ve gotten very good at fixing the physiology as a consequence of trauma — and often pat ourselves on the back — but we’ve never tackled the psychology of what gets you into that situation.” With Rogers at the helm, they’re taking a different approach. “One of our roles really is to partner with the community, to gain their trust and help build those bridges out of the cycles of violence,” Cone said. What that ultimately looks like — she mentions initiatives that she saw work in Los Angeles, such as bringing together rival gang members for vocational training or providing free tattoo removal for individuals wanting to shed gang symbols — depends on local needs. “We have an incredible opportunity at the University of Chicago Medicine to partner with the communities that we serve to make a positive, lasting impact on the health of the population,” Rogers said. “And if we can actually narrow a 16-year mortality gap between those of our citizens who live in the Loop versus those who live in Washington Park, that would be an amazing accomplishment.”

A community mobilized The community is ready. Over the past two decades, local leaders have fought hard to bring adult trauma care to the South Side. The outcry reached fever pitch in August 2010 when Damian Turner, an 18-year-old activist, was gunned down in a drive-by shooting several blocks from the UChicago Medicine campus. Paramedics took him to the nearest adult trauma center, more than nine miles away. According to news reports, he was pronounced dead about 90 minutes after the shooting. “There was a lot of frustration and anger within the community,” said Rogers, who came to Chicago from

‘Leave no man behind’

the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, where he served as vice president and chief medical officer. Once UChicago Medicine made the decision to offer adult trauma services, however, residents have fueled its creation with “incredible passion.” “You can really feel a sense of community around this,” Rogers said, explaining that more than 100 individuals applied to join UChicago Medicine’s 20-person Community Advisory Council, a task force designed to keep community health needs at the forefront. Rogers talks about running into a worker who suggested that his facilities team could possibly assist recovering trauma patients who needed help developing work skills. Then there was 79-year-old Paul Willis, a produce seller on Ellis Avenue. Willis, who passed away earlier this spring, had offered, “Dr. Rogers, if any of your patients ever need some fresh fruits and vegetables, I’m here for you.” “I’ve been struck by the incredible amount of pride and resilience here,” said Rogers, who has spent many hours in the past months doing listening tours around the South Side. As far as bringing adult trauma care to UChicago, it’s time, he said. “Where else in America is there a

Kenneth Wilson, MD Associate Professor of Surgery Trauma surgeon and Army veteran Kenneth Wilson has spent 15 years in war zones. From multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan to director of pediatric trauma at Hurley Medical Center in Flint, Michigan, he’s had one focus: saving lives. At Chicago, he plans to tackle both the wounds and their underlying causes. The problem We’ve gotten very good at fixing the physiology as a consequence of trauma from intentional violence, but we’ve never tackled the psychology of what gets you into that situation. Call to action Dr. Rogers contacted me after I returned home from Afghanistan — and he had decided not only to tackle the physiology, but the psychology. It was a perfect marriage. Military precision I’ve worked in pretty austere environments with maybe a two-man team, where you don’t have enough blood or supplies. The whole goal is to get someone home. My military experience certainly has made me focused on a mission —  anything to complete it, leave no man behind. I’m going to bring that same focus to my civilian hospital. Witness to violence At one community meeting we had here, someone asked the teenagers, “How many of you have people in your family who have been shot?” Almost every hand in the auditorium went up. If I’m a child growing up in the Middle East where there’s a war going on every day, that’s part of the traumatization. Then you add me getting shot. Well, that’s not my first trauma. Same here. These kids, they’ve seen trauma; they’re surrounded by it. Changing the outlook The community is obviously excited about the trauma center for what it means for survival outcomes, but it’s also about decreasing the amount of hopelessness and showing these kids there’s a future.





Trauma surgeon Jennifer Cone, a Chicago native, completed her medical degree and residency at Tulane University, where she provided free medical care to residents in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. “That’s what got me started on community engagement,” said Cone, who began focusing on violence prevention during her recent surgical fellowship at Los Angeles County Medical Center. Professional obligation I don’t want to just take care of another 3-year-old who’s been shot in a drive-by. For me, addressing violence at that root cause level and being a trauma surgeon is a natural blend. Stopping the cycle Even within my one-year fellowship, I’ve taken care of patients who have been shot more than once. It’s very easy to stick your head in the sand, operate on people and think you’re making a difference that way. And you are. But you’re not tackling the source of the problem. Coming home I interviewed at a lot of trauma centers and this really isn’t just another trauma center. Dr. Rogers really wants to make a bigger impact on the community. I love Chicago — grew up here — and we have an obligation to help each other, especially on the South Side where there’s so much need. Starting from scratch Most trauma centers around the country have been established for 50 years or so. It’s really exciting to be able to shape it from the ground level up to be what the community needs and not just create a generic trauma center.


top-notch medical school and not a trauma center? We’re fixing that aberration — and we’re going to do it in a dramatic way with the best intentions based on the best available evidence in the 21st century.”

Changing trajectories So, what exactly does that vision look like in practice? “Obviously, we’ll focus on restoring peoples’ physiology,” Rogers said, “but entry starts off with a conversation, not judgment. A few simple words: ‘How can I help?’” It’s a fleeting moment that can be transformative, particularly for someone who’s grown up in a traumatic environment. “Many of these kids coming in are surrounded by neighborhood violence, many suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder,” said Debra Allen, MSN, RN, clinical director of trauma services. “There is a moment of opportunity — and this is rare in a person’s life — where we can change the path they’re on. One of those moments is when people are injured.” Holistic care is critical. “Getting shot can be the point at which someone either becomes street-involved and © EILEEN RYAN PHOTOGRAPHY, 2018

‘We have an obligation to help each other’ 16

Jennifer Cone, MD, MHS Assistant Professor of Surgery

wants to retaliate, or they want to heal and move forward in their life,” said David Crump, a nationally recognized violence recovery expert. After more than three decades as a violence interrupter and trauma responder on the streets of Boston, Crump was recruited to UChicago Medicine last summer to launch the trauma center’s Violence Recovery Program. Due to family reasons, he recently returned to Boston. However, “Crump’s vision and engagement with the communities on the South Side have been pivotal to creating the structure of our Violence Recovery Program,” Rogers said. “We will continue to build upon his conceptual framework as we build out the processes internally for our clinical care of patients and extend holistic recovery with our community partners.” Crump boils violence prevention down to one basic principle: show up in peoples’ lives. That means caring for victims of violence and their families from the moment they arrive to long after they are discharged, opening doors to social services, mental health care, pastoral care, vocational resources and other support. To this end, Crump forged connections with several local organizations, including Chicago Survivors, the Heartland Alliance, and the YMCA. At the end of last year, the trauma team and University faculty from medicine, law and history came together with more than 100 community partners at the Gary Comer Youth Center in the Greater Grand Crossing neighborhood

to begin shaping a hospital-based violence recovery program designed for the South Side. Mental wellness emerged as a key focus. “We know that after trauma, it doesn’t just affect the individual who has been traumatized, but also close contacts and friends,” Rogers said. He pointed to one heartbreaking example among far too many: the tragic deaths of two young South Side girls, Takiya Holmes, 11, and Kanari Gentry-Bowers, 12, both shot by stray bullets in separate incidents on February 11, 2017. “What’s the effect on their peers as they move forward?” he asked. “Where does their hope for a better day come from?”

Finding a calling For Rogers, wrestling with such questions is now part of practicing medicine, but that wasn’t always the case. Raised in St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, he was drawn to the idea of “science and service” early on. He initially planned to be a high school biology teacher, then gravitated toward medicine as a Harvard undergraduate, eventually settling on surgery. “I’m incredibly goal-oriented,” Rogers said. “When I was in medical school, the idea of managing someone for the rest of their life with diabetes or hypertension did not appeal to me. I would think, ‘What are we gonna fix?’ In surgery, there’s a problem you diagnose and a solution you plan. Solutions have a beginning, a middle and an end. When you’re done with the




operation, you look at the outcome and get feedback. I love that.” As a young trauma surgeon in Boston, he had seemingly found the perfect blend of solution and service — but something gnawed at him. “Everybody who came in shot looked like me,” he said. “Black and brown people were disproportionately the victims of violence. That made me question: If my job is only to put sutures in damaged bodies after bullets traverse them, I’m missing my calling. “That was the genesis of this big idea that perhaps we can look upstream and prevent people from being thrown into the water in the first place, rather than waiting till we have to pull them out after they’ve been shot.” Rogers went on to become a health disparities researcher and renowned surgeon. He served as chair of surgery at Temple University School of Medicine and division chief of trauma, burns and surgical care at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, where he launched the Center for Surgery and Public Health, created to track surgical care quality around the country and globe. His focus on improving outcomes, particularly for underserved populations and victims of violence, made leading UChicago Medicine’s trauma center an ideal next challenge. “We want our trauma center to be a leader in thinking about violence,” said Kenneth S. Polonsky, MD, dean of the Biological Sciences Division and the Pritzker School of Medicine and executive vice president for medical affairs for the University of Chicago. “How can you prevent it? How can you identify people who are at risk? How can you reduce the risk of recurrence in people who have already been involved? Dr. Rogers is extraordinarily well-qualified for that.”

All hands on deck Just as combating violence requires “all hands on deck,” Rogers said, the same is true for creating a world-class trauma hospital. From designing a system of comprehensive care to implementing quality improvements, hiring surgeons and connecting to a thriving regional trauma network, Rogers and UChicago Medicine’s team of physicians, nurses and other clinicians have spent the past 17 months building a center that will deliver the highest level of care for life-threatening injuries. 18


“I love to say that this will lift all our boats,” he said, explaining how trauma care fosters a greater level of excellence across the entire medical system. In December, the medical center opened its new $39 million adult emergency department. The ED is the primary entry point for trauma patients, who are moved to other parts of the hospital once stabilized. Designed to dramatically improve speed and efficiency, the state-of-the-art facility has three rapid assessment bays for initial physician screenings; four specialized bays for stroke, heart and trauma patients; and 24/7 emergency radiology services, a first for the hospital and a significant improvement over prior state. The addition of Level 1 adult trauma services builds on these advancements, bringing with it a culture that demands physicians, nurses, food service, facilities and other staff be at the top of their game. Adult trauma also builds on UChicago Medicine’s existing Level 1 pediatric trauma program and its Burn and Complex Wound Center. “Trauma is hospital-wide, so it affects every employee here,” Allen said. “Everyone will be involved in caring for these patients. For us to be successful, we have to have everyone on board and working together for a common goal.”

Transcending trauma Achieving that goal means reaching far beyond hospital walls. “The University of Chicago Medicine and the University of Chicago have a tremendous opportunity to bridge biomedical sciences, social sciences, social work, law and public policy as we craft a uniquely Chicago way forward to advance knowledge and make impact in our communities,” Rogers said. “We have an opportunity to draw on all of those parts of the academy to think about intersectional solutions to these complex problems.” “The opening of the trauma center reflects what can be accomplished when the University, UChicago Medicine and the community come together to work toward common goals,” said Derek Douglas, the University’s vice president for civic engagement and external affairs. “In that same spirit of partnership, the University is leveraging its strengths in education, research, innovation and community engagement to identify ways to prevent violence.” Many University faculty already see Rogers as an indispensable partner. “The trauma center isn’t a place,

but fixing someone’s mind or soul is really

Debra Allen, MSN, RN Clinical Director of Trauma Services Nurse Debra Allen has worked in trauma for three decades, most recently developing northeast Ohio’s first regional trauma system. Now responsible for trauma services’ strategic planning and administrative, educational and financial management, she has been preparing nurses, clinicians and staff to serve at the Level I Trauma Center — and create a new paradigm of care. Setting the standard Dr. Rogers has hired some of the best trauma surgeons from around the country. The practices are a little bit different in each area, so we’re bringing them all together and are developing our own best practices. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. All hands on deck Trauma is hospital-wide, so it affects every employee here. From physicians and nurses to lab and X-ray to food service. Everyone will be involved in caring for these patients. For us to be successful, we have to have everyone on board. Rallying the troops We have been very transparent about what it takes to be a trauma center. It’s not easy. We came here to be leaders in trauma care. Everyone is a part of that and should be very proud.

hard work that requires a multidisciplinary team of people. We can be connectors and help people on their journey to recovery. Recovery is not just ‘Are you alive after trauma?’ It’s ‘Can you work, play, pray, love the way you did before?’” Selwyn Rogers Jr., MD, MPH Director, University of Chicago Medicine Level 1 Adult Trauma Center


‘We came here to be leaders in trauma care’

“ We can fix peoples’ bodies pretty darn well,

Charting a new course I’ve seen multiple cases in my career where patients are coming back again in a couple of months, re-shot, re-injured and maybe even dead. Now we have this incredible opportunity that has really never been fully explored with violence in one program: that when somebody comes in, we can intercept them, change the path they’re on and maybe change their long-term outcome. It’s very exciting.




“The opening of the trauma center reflects what can be accomplished when the University, UChicago Medicine and the community come together to work toward common goals. In that same spirit of partnership, the University is leveraging its strengths in education, research, innovation and community engagement to identify ways to prevent violence.” Derek Douglas Vice President for Civic Engagement and External Affairs, University of Chicago

it’s a network,” said Kam Buckner, lecturer in public policy studies in the College. Last year, he and Rogers co-taught a field research course for third- and fourthyear public policy majors that focused on health care disparities, specifically differences in trauma and life expectancy between the South Side and downtown Chicago. With his big-picture approach to trauma, Rogers brought real-life pragmatism to public policy teaching. As one student told Buckner, the course “completely changed the way she thinks about how to invest in communities.” Because Rogers knows there is no quick fix to stemming violence on the South Side, he keeps



pushing the conversation. Through the MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics, the trauma center is co-sponsoring a yearlong lecture series that brings together researchers and community leaders to explore issues in violence, trauma and trauma surgery. Among the topics: the use of geographic information systems in trauma research, violence across generations and the role of faith communities. “We have an opportunity to do something transformative here on the South Side,” said Rogers, who aims to create models of violence prevention that can be replicated nationally and position the University as a thought leader. “I’m trying to challenge people to think differently. Certainly, UChicago Medicine and UChicago cannot do it by ourselves, but we have powerful voices. When you think of that 15-yearold kid in Englewood, what voice does he have? If we cannot lift up those voices, if a great research university like the University of Chicago can’t take on big problems, what is our calling?” For Rogers, it’s a calling as clear as his response: make no little plans.

What’s in a name? Fifty years of excellence in medical education.








“Great benefits to medical science will result from their generosity.” — George W. Beadle, president of the University of Chicago, 1961–1968, 1958 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, quoted June 13, 1968.

Just tribute Honoring the legacy of pioneering biologist Ernest Everett Just, PhD 1916 BY ANGELA WELLS O’CONNOR


Members of the E.E. Just Working Group include graduate students Sophia Carryl, SM’17, left, Victoria Flores, Daniela Palmer, Shane DuBay and Unjin Lee, AB’13.



rnest Everett Just, PhD 1916, spent only three academic quarters on the University of Chicago campus. A professor at Howard University and a research assistant at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, he was pursuing his PhD in zoology in absentia and needed to fulfill the residency requirement. Despite his brief physical presence on campus, the research he conducted for his dissertation on the fertilization of marine worms — including a key discovery about cell cleavage — made a lasting contribution to the body of knowledge in embryology. More than 100 years later, a group of Biological Sciences Division (BSD) graduate students formed the E.E. Just Working Group to promote his achievements and legacy, including the challenges Just faced as an African American scientist in the early 20th century.

Their work builds upon two other BSD initiatives to honor Just’s legacy. The annual E.E. Just lecture, sponsored by the BSD graduate Diversity Committee (BDC) and the Office of Graduate Affairs, brings distinguished scientists from underrepresented groups to campus. This past year, a second-floor lecture room in the Erman Biology


Center was renovated and named for Just, through the efforts of the BDC, especially previous co-chair Carolyn Johnson, PhD, of the Committee on Evolutionary Biology; Victoria Prince, PhD, dean and director of the Office of Graduate Affairs; and Joy Bergelson, PhD, chair of the Department of Ecology and Evolution. Kenneth R. Manning, author of the definitive biography, Black Apollo of Science: The Life of Ernest Everett Just (Oxford University Press, 1983), and the 2018 E.E. Just Lecturer, spoke at the dedication in April. For their focus, the students sought a more visually impressive way to commemorate Just beyond the wall plaque planned for the E.E. Just Room. A similar room — on the second floor of the adjoining Zoology Building — features a dramatic portrait of Just’s mentor, Frank Lillie, PhD 1894, the renowned director of the Marine Biological Laboratory and the first dean of biological sciences at the University of Chicago. “We thought that a portrait would be an appropriate and necessary way to commemorate Just and his significant and lasting contributions to his field,” said Shane DuBay, a graduate student in evolutionary biology. “It would be a visual memorial for a prominent black scientist, when images like these are often lacking.” Daniela Palmer, also pursuing a PhD in evolutionary biology, was instrumental in helping to secure initial funding for the portrait, which is being provided by the BSD Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the Campus-Wide Inclusive Climate Initiative. Fundraising to support the portrait project and the annual EE Just lecture in future years is ongoing. Palmer said it’s important to bring attention to Just’s story — both the achievements and the difficulties he faced in his career, including racism, lack of financial support for his research and disagreements with other prominent scientists. “The struggles that people face are part of the experience of

A career marked by discovery and struggle The discoveries of embryologist Ernest Everett Just, PhD 1916, yielded important contributions to research on fertilization, embryology, and ecological developmental biology. In his experiments with marine invertebrates, Just was acclaimed for his skill and the exacting measures he took to create a natural environment in the lab. Just had ample opportunity to develop and refine his approach as he assisted Frank Lillie, PhD 1894, at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, where Lillie served as director. It was in Woods Hole that Just conducted much of the research for the PhD he earned from the University of Chicago. At the time, he was one of the few African Americans in the country with a doctorate in the natural sciences. Just worked toward and attained his PhD while already a faculty member at Howard University, a position he held throughout his career, despite his misgivings regarding the lack of time and support provided for his research. In Black Apollo of Science: The Life of Ernest Everett Just, biographer Kenneth Manning describes how Just’s methods and knowledge earned respect and deference from his colleagues: “The beauty of his cytological preparations was generally admired and his contribution in the field of experimental embryology was seen as fundamental not only at Woods Hole but throughout the country, and abroad as well. He knew more than anyone else about the natural history of the life forms the investigators were using at Woods Hole.” At Woods Hole, working with the marine worm Nereis, Just discovered that the entry point of the sperm is a key determinant of how the egg cleaves. His paper, “The Relation of the First Cleavage Plane to the Entrance Point of the Sperm,” was published in 1912.

Ernest Everett Just in the laboratory, top photo, and pitching horseshoes with colleagues.

Just’s later research and discoveries focused on sperm penetration and the role of the cell’s surface in fertilization and the block to polyspermy. Just also conducted experiments testing Lillie’s hypotheses regarding how egg and sperm are bound by fertilizin molecules. Just’s most important work, The Biology of the Cell Surface, published in 1939, defended the role of the cytoplasm and the cell surface, eschewing reductionist principles and the nucleus-focused view of contemporary geneticists. Just seized the opportunities available to him to advance his work, but his research funding and employment options were limited in part by the racial discrimination inherent in the academic and scientific communities of the time. He died, impoverished, of pancreatic cancer at age 58. Despite his discoveries, prolific work and the respect he earned throughout his career, his scientific legacy faded until the publication of Manning’s 1983 biography, along with more recent efforts to bring attention and recognition to Just’s scientific contributions.




­— Angela Wells O’Connor





Artist Stephen Flemister, right, works with model Patric McCoy, AB’69, MA, a retired environmental scientist serving as the photographic model for the portrait of E.E. Just.


being a scientist,” Palmer said. “The story is not always this perfect arc of a hero.” Graduate student Victoria Flores, also in evolutionary biology, emphasized the personal relevance and power of including Just’s image among the historical portraits and photographs of prominent — and mostly white male — University scientists and scholars. “Just is one of those people who could provide that image,” added Sophia Carryl, SM’17, a graduate student in evolutionary biology, “that figure where you can say, ‘Look, there’s someone like me, and if he could do it, I can do it as well.’” The working group, in collaboration with the Multicultural Graduate Community, commissioned artist Stephen Flemister to create the portrait. Flemister recently served as artist-in-residence with the University’s Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture, and now teaches in the Department of Contemporary Practices at the School of the Art Institute, where he earned his master of fine arts degree. Flemister’s artwork has been exhibited at the Hyde Park Art Center, Columbia College Chicago, South Side


Community Art Center and the University’s Arts Incubator, with public installations and performances throughout Chicago. While he is known for incorporating multimedia and technology into his works, as well as for his innovative use of more traditional media, Flemister said he is taking a more conventional approach in his depiction of Just. In order to capture variations in postures and form for the portrait, he took a series of photographs of the model, Patric McCoy, AB’69, MA, to use as he makes digital alterations, drawings and sketches to find parallels between the model and Just. For the final work, he will be producing an acrylic and oil painting in the likeness of Just. The students said that they were impressed with Flemister’s signature use of color to convey depth and emotion in his portraits. Palmer also appreciated his academic interests in art, along with “his ideas about how to represent a person fully.” “The portrait had to fit in but also stand out, and Steve’s work has this stand-out character that can bring the project to life,” she said. Flemister, whose master’s thesis addressed the “shared public image in memory and the problems of representation,” is exploring beyond the visual aspects of the project to unearth aspects of icons, memory and recognition within the subject. In addition to researching general portrait styles and postures from the National Portrait Gallery’s Regency collection, Flemister studied Just’s history and legacy. He read the Manning biography and also interviewed McCoy to gain a better appreciation for the experience of a contemporary African American scientist. Like the students who commissioned him, Flemister hopes that the portrait will stimulate interest in Just’s story and operate as a tool of representation. He is documenting his work on the project through photographs and blog posts highlighting his research. “I’m looking at how far we can push certain ideas past this figurative, realistic painting,” he said, “and ask, ‘Can we generate questions that introduce a new conversation?’”


A simulation operation Court Cutting, MD’75, is shaping the future of surgical training BY BETHANY HUBBARD



Court Cutting, MD’75

n a simulator, pilots are trained to automatically handle the most horrible situations and are given a world of experience that hopefully they’ll never actually have in a real plane,” said Court Cutting, MD’75. “If they ever did, they know exactly what to do. That’s the advantage of training a pilot in a simulator. Shouldn’t the same thing happen for a surgeon?” The answer to the question seems obvious. But, as Cutting will tell you, it is rarely asked. It’s what has inspired his work for more than three decades. Cutting, former professor of plastic surgery and director of the Cleft Lip and Palate Program at New York University, spent his career building and championing the use of computer simulations to train surgeons in reconstructive surgery for facial malformations. In 1992, he began volunteering with Operation Smile, traveling overseas to perform cleft lip and palate surgeries in developing countries. “What we were doing was a drop in the bucket,” he said. “The real way to solve the problem was to empower the local doctors to take care of the problem themselves.” To do this, Cutting joined the Smile Train organization. He and his colleagues quickly realized physicians not only needed to be empowered, but also properly trained in these complex surgical procedures.

Cutting turned to computers for a solution, working with a team in his laboratory to create the first 3-D computer graphics animations of cleft surgeries. Released in 1999, the videos have since been distributed in more than 150 countries. In 2013, the team took their work to the next level with the launch of Smile Train’s Virtual Surgery Simulator, the first free, open-access, web-based teaching tool that provides a step-by-step, interactive experience for cleft care. For Cutting, there is more work to be done. Namely, how do you recreate the elasticity of soft tissues in a virtual setting to truly mimic the experience of operating on a human? “There’s a lot of work now on making silicone models of cleft lip that people can practice on,” he said. “They’re great, but they are expensive and aren’t really accurate biophysics. Skin doesn’t behave like that. Skin isn’t rubber.” Since his retirement from NYU, Cutting has spent his time immersed in computer coding as he works to further perfect the virtual surgical experience so budding surgeons can learn from mistakes — just like pilots — before testing their skills in an actual hospital. “ Now my job is to teach and propagate what it took me a lifetime to learn.” Court Cutting, MD’75

He looks back fondly on his time at the Pritzker School of Medicine, where he fell in love with plastic surgery during a two-week rotation. And Cutting is especially grateful to the late Joseph Ceithaml, SB’37, PhD’41, dean of students, who made his education possible through scholarships. “Even though medicine was relatively primitive 40 years ago, the University of Chicago was a leader in giving students a conceptual framework for how to approach medicine,” he said. “For a mind like mine, there was nothing better. What a great medical school it was and still is.” Visit to see the simulation in action.




BSD News

True grit The grassroots Graduate Recruitment Initiative Team (GRIT) works with faculty to enhance diversity BY KRISTIN BAIRD RATTINI

Grit (noun): courage and resolve; strength of character.



here’s no “grit” box for prospective students when applying to graduate programs in the Biological Sciences Division (BSD). It’s a crucial trait for all researchers, who must persevere through the inherent trials and failures of the scientific process. Yet the very applicants for whom grit is often a defining character trait — including underrepresented minorities (URM) and LGBTQ students — have historically had to overcome greater barriers to entry into science. Launched almost two years ago, the student-led Graduate Recruitment Initiative Team (GRIT) is working to increase minority graduate enrollment in the BSD, one student at a time. GRIT members travel to conferences to recruit students, build relationships with candidates, serve in an advisory role in the interview selection process and connect with potential students when they come to campus. And the student leaders have sparked the creation of a

Cody Hernandez, left, and Mat Perez-Neut are working to expand the GRIT initiative to other institutions.


permanent forum — the Faculty Diversity Council — for ongoing collaboration on matters of diversity and inclusion within the BSD. “We have always attempted to involve our underrepresented students in the efforts to enhance diversity here,” said Nancy Schwartz, PhD, dean and director of postdoctoral affairs and GRIT’s faculty advisor. “I think that the coordinated, committed effort on the part of this cohort of students has really taken it to another level.” ‘Someone gave us a chance’ GRIT’s three cofounders — Cody Hernandez, Mat Perez-Neut and Christina Roman — share a common thread in their backstories. “We all come from backgrounds that tell us we shouldn’t be here,” said Hernandez, a doctoral candidate in molecular genetics and cell biology. “But somewhere, someone gave us a chance.” Their CVs all include an alphabet soup of prestigious national programs — such as the NIH’s Minority Access to Research Careers and Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD) — that promote URM participation in scientific fields. “Those initiatives fund the most promising students and give them not only the support they need to become leaders in science but the confidence to believe in themselves,” said Roman, a doctoral candidate in biochemistry and molecular biophysics. “With GRIT, we aim to do the same.” The launch of GRIT coincided with the students’ shared success on another diversity initiative. Building on the establishment of a new University of Chicago chapter of SACNAS (Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics


and Native Americans in Science), GRIT members played a central role in hosting nearly 100 regional graduate students at the first Chicago SACNAS symposium. “That success galvanized us,” Hernandez said. “We realized we had the potential and ability to make an even bigger change.” GRIT focuses its efforts in three areas: recruitment, retention and sustainability. Whether meeting prospective students for the first time at national URM conferences or at inclusion discussions during the nine on-campus interview weekends, GRIT members approach recruitment not with a formal handshake but a welcoming embrace as they shepherd candidates through every step of the application process.

GRIT played a major role in recruiting 60 percent of the minority students entering BSD graduate programs in fall 2018. “Cody and Mat made me feel a part of their community, even though I was only on campus for a weekend,” said Jimmy Elias, now studying cell and molecular biology at the University. “Afterward, they contacted me via email, text and phone calls to provide me further information about diversity initiatives and fellowship opportunities. One day we ended up talking for more than half an hour about a number of my concerns and interests. It was a very sincere discussion and was a significant deciding factor for me.” Despite their busy schedules, GRIT’s leaders make time whenever possible to connect with prospective students.


GRIT co-founder Christina Roman meets with faculty advisor Nancy Schwartz, PhD, dean and director of postdoctoral affairs.

Perez-Neut, a doctoral candidate studying theme, we can build a workshop around it heels of its success in the BSD, GRIT is molecular epigenetics and proteomics, or take it to the Faculty Diversity Council.” expanding to the University’s Physical recently had an hour of downtime while As GRIT evolved into an umbrella diver- Sciences Division. in the middle of an experiment. He used sity organization — with teams dedicated to GRIT’s reach also is spreading off the time to call a recruit interested in cancer URM, LGBTQ and women in STEM — and campus. GRIT members have been invited biology. became a central conduit for inclusion to speak at conferences around the country, “We talked about everything from concerns, the Faculty Diversity Council including Scientista, a pre-professional UChicago culture to the commute, the was established to serve as its counterpart. organization for women in STEM, and challenges for first-generation college It includes faculty representatives from the national IMSD conference. And GRIT’s students and more,” he said. “I know I am every BSD department. “We’re the bridge leaders have been contacted by graduate not the only one in GRIT making these between GRIT and faculty,” Schwartz said. students from Vanderbilt University, calls; this culture of connection with URM “We keep the communication open and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill students lives here now. That’s something I are developing a lot of areas where we can and other institutions for advice on how think GRIT inspired and, as a co-founder work together.” to establish GRIT on their own campuses. of GRIT, I’m most proud of.” “GRIT is moving at a breakneck pace,” Spreading the word That connectivity continues once Roman said. “We’ve already been given a lot students arrive on campus. Do they need Among such collaborations, GRIT of opportunities to make positive changes. a private tutor? An introduction to a members have made diversity presentations We intend for that momentum to continue. particular faculty member? Information to individual BSD departments and to We’re ready and open-minded to be as proon a fellowship? As part of its retention faculty admissions committees. On the ductive, efficient and inclusive as we can be.” efforts, GRIT plugs newcomers into its network of peers, other BSD and cam- “ I began living by myself at 15. During my first semester of college, I nearly failed puswide diversity groups, faculty and all of my remedial classes. Now I’m at the University of Chicago, and I owe administrators. “One of our goals is to much of that to the people who could see what I was capable of. After seven make sure the students we recruit have years of working to promote the success of marginalized groups, I’ve learned an environment in which they can thrive,” many of us have something you can’t quantify on an application — grit. Our Perez-Neut said. For example, if students mission is to find these students and let them know that UChicago is where they need to vent, they can do so at the GRIT can and will thrive. ” Wolf ’s Den events. “It’s a mental health and wellness check,” Roman said. “We Cody Hernandez can share our problems and talk about PhD candidate, NIGMS-IMS fellow, NIGMS-T32 Molecular and Cellular Biology trainee potential solutions. If there is a recurring




BSD News


Why birds are smarter than you think


euronal cell types in the brains of birds linked to goal-directed behaviors and cognition are similar to cells in the mammalian neocortex, the large, layered structure on the outer surface of the brain where most higher-order processing takes place. In a new study, published in Current Biology in February, scientists from the University of Chicago showed that some neurons in bird brains form the same kind of circuitry and have the same molecular signature as cells that enable connectivity between different areas of the mammalian neocortex. The researchers found that alligators also share these cell

types, suggesting that while mammal, bird and reptile brains have very different anatomical structures, they operate using the same shared set of brain cell types.

“Birds are more intelligent than you think, and they do clever things. So, the question is: What kind of brain circuitry are they using?” said Clifton Ragsdale, PhD, professor of neurobiology at UChicago and senior author of the study. “What this research shows is that they’re using the same cell types with the same kinds of connections we see in the neocortex, but with a very different kind of organization.” The research study, led by graduate student Steven Briscoe, suggests an interesting possibility that birds and primates evolved intelligence independently, developing vastly different brain structures but starting with the same shared sets of cell types. — Matt Wood


Brain size of human ancestors evolved over 3 million years three times larger than our closest living relatives, chimpanzees. Scientists don’t agree on when and how this dramatic increase took place, but new analysis of 94 hominin fossils shows that average brain size increased gradually and consistently over the past 3 million years. “Brain size is one of the most obvious traits that makes us human,” said Andrew Du, PhD, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Chicago and first author of the study. “It’s related to cultural complexity, language, tool making and all these other things that make us unique. The earliest hominins had brain sizes like chimpanzees, and they have increased dramatically since then.” Du and his colleagues compared published research data on the skull volumes of 94 fossil specimens from 13 different species, beginning with the earliest unambiguous human ancestors,


Modern humans have brains more than

Australopithecus, from 3.2 million years ago to pre-modern species, including Homo erectus, from 500,000 years ago, when brain size began to overlap with that of modern-day humans. The research, published in The Proceedings of the Royal Society B, showed that when the species were counted at the clade level, or groups descending from a common ancestor, the average brain size increased gradually. Looking more

closely, the increase was driven by three different factors, primarily evolution of larger brain sizes within individual species populations, but also by the addition of new, larger-brained species and extinction of smaller-brained ones. The team also found that the rate of brain size evolution within hominin lineages was much slower than how it operates today, although why this discrepancy exists is still an open question. — Matt Wood




Genetic analysis uncovers the evolutionary origin of vertebrate limbs BY MATT WOOD


dorsal fin. The paired pelvic and pectoral fins developed normally. This led the team to look for other genetic enhancers that might be involved, and they found a related “shadow enhancer” nearby called sZRS that seems to work in conjunction with the main ZRS switch. When they knocked out both ZRS and sZRS in the medaka, both its dorsal fin and paired fins were lost. That means ZRS likely was first used in the development of dorsal fins, then later copied and reused as sZRS when paired fins first appeared about 475 million years ago. Shubin said understanding the activity of these enhancers helps identify the traces of evolutionary ancestors present in all vertebrates, from Tiktaalik roseae, the 375-million-year-old transitional “fishapod” species he discovered in 2004, to modern-day humans. “A number of human maladies are based on mistakes in the ZRS that can lead to extra or missing fingers, or changes in the shape of hands,” he said. “Humans probably have this shadow enhancer, too, so if we want to study the dynamics of how this affects limb patterning, what we see in these fish models is a great place to start.”

A medaka fish with normal dorsal and paired pectoral/pelvic fins, top photo. When the ZRS and sZRS enhancers are knocked out, bottom, the fins do not develop normally.


s you picture the first fish to crawl out of primordial waters onto land, it’s easy to imagine how its paired fins eventually evolved into the arms and legs of modern-day vertebrates, including humans. But a new study by researchers from the University of Chicago and the Andalusian Centre for Developmental Biology in Spain shows how these creatures used an even more primitive genetic blueprint to develop their proto-limbs: the single dorsal, or back, fin common to all jawed fish. The study, published in Nature Genetics, demonstrates that fish, mice and likely all modern-day vertebrates share genetic elements first used to develop the unpaired dorsal fin in ancient fish. They later copied these elements to produce paired appendages, like pelvic and pectoral fins, arms and legs. “The unpaired dorsal fin is the first one you see in the fossil record,” said Neil Shubin, PhD, the Robert R. Bensley Distinguished Service Professor and co-author of the new study. “Here, we show that the genetic mechanisms that pattern all the fins and other paired appendages originally arose there and were redeployed to others.” The researchers conducted genetic analysis in mice and several kinds of fish to track the expression of Sonic hedgehog (Shh), a gene widely used in a variety of basic biological functions, but especially important in the formation of limbs. In mice, a genetic enhancer, or on/off switch, called ZRS controls the expression of Shh limbs. If you knock out ZRS in a mouse, its limbs won’t develop properly. The researchers used CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing tools to knock out ZRS in the medaka, a small, popular aquarium fish also known as a Japanese rice fish. They expected that deleting ZRS in the medaka would affect its paired fins, but instead the fish didn’t grow its unpaired

Listen to Neil Shubin discuss his discovery of the Tiktaalik fossil in the first episode of Big Brains on the new UChicago Podcast Network.




Pritzker News


The adventures — and misadventures —  of ShirlyWhirl, MD


hirlene Obuobi, MS4, has loved drawing since she was little. During her teen years, she drew a comic strip for the school paper. In college, she started the comic club KaPOW! And at the Pritzker School of Medicine, Obuobi created her comic character ShirlyWhirl, MD — a black female student who muses about medical school struggles, pokes fun at her own inadequacies and bristles at the state of our health care system. “My comic counterpart is a very close approximate of me, but not exactly me,” Obuobi said of her forthright alter ego. “Sometimes I have her do or say something that wouldn’t necessarily align with my actual self. I can be an activist through her and launch a forum for more discussion.” Obuobi will bring ShirlyWhirl, MD, with her into residency, where the two will take on more serious topics about the medical field. She matched in internal medicine at the University of Chicago Medicine. “I’m still figuring out what I’ll do from there,” Obuobi said. “Something procedural, of course, because clearly I like to work with my hands.” — Gretchen Rubin

This is what I imagine goes through every patient’s mind when we tell them we’re gonna order some expensive diagnostic test.

Follow ShirlyWhirl Read a Q and A with Shirlene in UChicago Magazine



We all work hard to do the best for our patients, but of course our grades determine whether we will able to pursue the career of our dreams.

We matched together at UChicago Medicine!


What would Shirly say? Channel your inner Shirly in our first-ever caption contest. ShirlyWhirl, MD creator Shirlene Obuobi, MS4, drew this comic especially for Medicine on the Midway readers. Write a caption for Shirly or the patient or both! The deadline is July 31. Please send your caption to Shirlene and Medicine on the Midway editors will choose the winning caption, which will be posted on We’ll also print the comic and caption in the fall 2018 issue of Medicine on the Midway.




Pritzker News

M AT C H DAY 2 0 1 8

Lasting impact As these Pritzker students graduate, their legacy of service to the community endures


“Through the enthusiastic and highly accountable leadership of Victoria and her team, this clinic has become an incredibly important model for delivering health care to a marginalized population.” Karen Kim, MD Director, Center for Asian Health Equity at UChicago Medicine

Victoria Wang tapes up signs to prepare the Bridgeport Free Clinic for evening clinic hours. She co-founded the student-run clinic, which serves the immigrant Chinese community.


Where the Class of 2018 matched — Page 34 32


Victoria Wang, MS4


our years ago, Victoria Wang, along with several of her first-year Pritzker School of Medicine classmates, trudged through the snow in Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood, home to the city’s largest Chinese immigrant population. The students went door-to-door conducting health assessments, met with community partners and created a map of available resources. “We learned that a lot of people were insured through the Affordable Care Act, but didn’t know what to do with their insurance,” Wang said. “They didn’t understand preventative health measures or have a regular care provider. It became clear that the best way to serve was by providing a consistent place where people could come with acute medical complaints or to establish medical care.” Less than a year later, in the fall of 2015, the student-run Bridgeport Free Clinic opened its doors. Located in the Chinese Christian Union Church (South), the free clinic is open Monday evenings — the only night off for the many neighborhood residents who work in the restaurant business. The three-bed clinic treats the usual cold and flu cases, as well as patients with complex health histories who have never seen a physician in the United States. The volunteer staff includes an attending physician, medical students and undergraduate students who serve as translators. “Having interpreters who speak to patients in their dialect, and medical students and doctors who look like them, has been immensely helpful in getting people in the door,” Wang said. “Once they are here, we can connect them with a primary care physician.” The Bridgeport clinic has treated more than 300 patients in its first three years. “The clinic taught me there are very tangible ways that doctors can increase health access: by volunteering, by helping to advise medical students and by creating new health spaces,” said Wang, who matched in obstetrics and gynecology at Tufts Medical Center in Boston. “It has been a rewarding and important part of my medical education.”

Eric Whitney, right, talks with first-year medical student Kavia Khosla, LAB’12, left, and Doriane Miller, MD’83, at a Community Grand Rounds event.

“Eric was deliberate in how he approached others and facilitated their participation. He set a great example for his fellow students —  in his engagement PHOTO BY JOE STERBENC

Eric Whitney, MS4, MSEd


itting in his first-year health disparities class, Eric Whitney listened intently as Doriane Miller, MD’83, described Community Grand Rounds (CGR). Launched in 2010 by the University of Chicago Medicine’s Center for Community Health and Vitality, CGR events bring knowledge and research from the University to the community to improve health on the South Side. But when Whitney attended a CGR event that winter in the Chicago Lawn neighborhood, he was disappointed to see he was the only Pritzker student in the audience. “It didn’t seem right that there wasn’t visible support from medical students for such a flagship community health program,” he said. He got in touch with Miller and the two brainstormed on ways to drive student involvement. As MS2s, Whitney and classmate Sean McGuire launched a recruitment drive. They promoted the monthly CGR events taking place in nearby neighborhoods. And Whitney organized carpools to transport students from the medical campus for each session. Soon, Miller invited Whitney to attend CGR stakeholder meetings, which set the agenda for the following year’s grand rounds. “Getting to know people in our patient population in a setting outside the hospital — and hearing the things they wish they had more resources for — enriched my learning experience,” Whitney said.

with the community and

During his fourth year, while serving as a Pritzker Chief, Whitney has used his leadership position to further publicize and expand student participation in CGR. He and his fellow chiefs established a board of six student liaisons, helmed by two directors. They will carry on what Whitney started, working closely with Miller and her team to mobilize student support and create programming to meet the needs of the community. As he prepares for his psychiatry residency at New York University School of Medicine, Whitney thinks about one particular CGR on violence and trauma. “It was so powerful and moving,” he said. “They not only brought in clinical specialists but also teenagers who shared their stories about living with violence. That lecture really spoke to me and those I hope to serve in my practice.”

ability to expand boundaries.” Doriane Miller, MD’83 Director, Center for Community Health and Vitality at UChicago Medicine

Panelists spoke about men’s health at a recent Community Grand Rounds event at St. Bernard Hospital in the Englewood neighborhood.





Pritzker News

M AT C H DAY 2 0 1 8

Countdown to the big reveal “I want you to know that we are proud of each and every one of you, not only for what’s inside the envelope, but for the impact you’ve made on our institution and on our campus during the time you’ve been here.” Holly J. Humphrey, MD’83 Dean for Medical Education


t’s a match! Members of the Pritzker School of Medicine Class of 2018 will be heading to top residency programs around the country to begin the next phase of their medical school careers. The most popular specialty chosen this year by Pritzker’s 97 matching students is internal medicine, with 26 students, or 27 percent of the class. Other popular specialties are pediatrics (12 students), psychiatry (10), emergency medicine and general surgery (8 each), and anesthesiology and obstetrics-gynecology (7 each). Twenty-two students will remain at the University of Chicago Medicine for all or part of their training. Fourteen students are headed to residencies at Harvard-affiliated hospitals. Other hospitals accepting multiple Pritzker recruits are the University of Michigan, University of Texas programs and University of Washington (4 each); and Duke University, University of Pennsylvania and University of California-San Francisco (3 each).


Iboro Umana, MS4, PhD’15, reads his letter with his wife, Jasmine Taylor, MD’14. His residency assignment: Internal Medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. YEESSS!





Pritzker partners with pathology department to offer point of care tests at free clinics BY MOLLY WOULFE

A small office with a blue steel locker doubles

as a clinical laboratory in the Bridgeport Free Clinic. University of Chicago Medicine pathology resident Zhen Wei Mei, MD, volunteer lab director for the student-run clinic, performs a quick inventory of the supplies for urine analysis, diabetes screening, rapid strep tests and more. MS1 Stephanie Bi, AB’16, sets up a pregnancy test on the desk, and a few minutes later, the medical student tells her patient the test is negative. Most care centers provide simple, pointof-care tests, but a unique Pritzker School of Medicine-Department of Pathology partnership ensures that even finger pricks at three student-run free clinics meet federal standards. The tests are provided at no cost to the patients.

Under the alliance, the pathology department donates lab tests and supplies to the Bridgeport clinic, which focuses on a mostly immigrant, Asian population; the Maria Shelter Clinic in Englewood, which treats women and children; and the Washington Park Children’s Free Clinic. “A goal of the clinics is to provide the highest quality of care to the uninsured and underserved communities,” said Wei Wei Lee, MD, MPH, director of wellness programs and faculty advisor to the clinics. “It is really important to provide the same care as we do for insured patients.” Overseeing the program from the pathology perspective is Edward Leung, PhD, director of phlebotomy and pre-analytical services. Pathology residents make one- to threeyear commitments to work in the clinics, where they gain mentoring and management experience. Medical students learn about

Hannah Caldwell, MS1, is one of the co-directors at the student-run Washington Park Children’s Free Clinic, which provides free care for children, including immunizations.

what tests to order and how to confer with the pathologist when interpreting results. “As a pathology resident, this has been a good experience in terms of leadership and management of a lab,” said Meredith Reynolds, MD, who helped students organize the lab testing at the Washington Park clinic.


Pritzker student leads international study on racial bias


hen an overweight, middle-aged patient with minor medical complaints walks into a clinician’s office in the U.S., will he be treated differently depending on his race? And if he is, why? Numerous studies have documented poorer health care and outcomes for black patients in the U.S., but few have asked why or compared racial bias across different nations. Second-year medical “ I urge the scientific community to take from these results that we need to start talking openly about racial bias, and admitting that we contribute to it, because bias awareness is the first step to reversing it.” Natalia Neha Khosla, MS2, LAB’10

student Natalia Neha Khosla is first author of “A Comparison of Clinicians’ Racial Biases in the United States and France,” published in April in Social Science & Medicine.

Khosla and her team found that American clinicians rated white patients as significantly more likely to improve, more likely to adhere to recommended treatments and more personally responsible for their health than black patients. Then they compared the findings to clinicians in France, where health care providers didn’t exhibit significant bias toward either race. “We found in the U.S. that the reason clinicians saw black patients as less likely to improve is because they saw those patients as less personally responsible for their health than white patients,” Khosla said. The study surveyed 164 clinicians — 83 in a Chicago hospital and 81 at a hospital in Nice, France — by asking doctors, nurses, physician assistants and medical students to read doctor’s notes about a hypothetical male patient diagnosed with hypertension. The notes were identical with the exception of race, which was noted as either black or white. “We need to continue to examine if medical providers have preferences for some groups over others, either implicit or explicit, and how that affects treatment, expectation for patient success and interactions with patients,” said co-author Sylvia Perry, PhD, an assistant professor of psychology at Northwestern University. MEDICINE ON THE MIDWAY



Gold Humanism Honor Society Pritzker News

The 2018 Pritzker School of Medicine Gold Humanism Honor Society inductees are, from left, bottom row: Eric Whitney, MSEd, Ava Ferguson, AM’10, Victoria Wang, Ellie Proussaloglou, Rachel Stones. Middle row: Colleen Kelly, Santiago Diaz, Shirlene Obuobi, Miguel Barajas, Sophia Bellin Warren. Top row: Joshua Waytz, Graham Block, Savas Tsikis, Lawrence (Ren) Belcher, AB’11, Amol Naik, AB’09, MS, Kurt Alberson. Not pictured: Sarah Kennedy, MEd, and Katherine Palmer.


ntroduced by Dean Holly J. Humphrey, MD’83, as “change agents for the patients whom they are privileged to care for,” 18 members of the Pritzker School of Medicine Class of 2018 were inducted into the Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS). The national organization recognizes students and faculty who are role models for humanism in health care, inspiring those around them in cultivation of a compassionate doctor-patient relationship.

Rachel Stones, MS4, is the student awardee of the Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award, given to those who exemplify excellence in patient care, respect for humanity and deep compassion in their medical practice. Sonia Oyola, MD, clinical assistant professor of family medicine, was honored as the Leonard Tow faculty awardee. The keynote speaker, she dedicated her talk to the memory of Arnold P. Gold, MD, a pediatric neurologist and founder of the Gold Foundation, who died in January

at age 92. “As we celebrate his unique life, we can all move his legacy forward with love,” she said. Michael Marcangelo, MD, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience, is the 2017 AAMC Humanism in Medicine nominee. The group also honored Mindy Schwartz, MD, professor of medicine, for her leadership and service as chapter advisor for the past 13 years. Nicola Orlov, LAB’97, MD’08, MPH, assistant professor of pediatrics, is the new chapter advisor.

Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society PHOTOS BY 20/20 COMMUNICATIONS

Members of the Alpha Omega Alpha Class of 2018 are, from left, bottom row: Curt Ginder, Jeremy Treger, PhD’15, Erin Mowers, AB’09, PhD’16, Brandon Berger, Jacob Tallman. Middle row: Lukas Matern, Sonja Boatman, Diana Bouhassira, Annabel Boeke, Ellie Proussaloglou, Brooke Gabster. Top row: Ava Ferguson, AM’10, Kathleen Wiest, Julia Nath, Claire Smith, MFA, Josh Piche, Miguel Barajas.


eventeen fourth-year Pritzker School of Medicine students were inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society (AOA). Students are selected based on academic excellence, leadership, compassion and fairness. James O’Connell, MD, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and founder and president of the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, is this year’s AOA visiting professor. He presented grand rounds on “Lessons from


the Street: Three Decades of Caring for Boston’s Rough Sleepers.” The Class of 2018 elected the following to the Illinois Beta chapter: Alumni: Irene Aguilar, MD’85, state senator in Colorado District 32; and Gaurav Upadhyay, MD’06, assistant professor, Department of Medicine. Faculty: Mark Roome, MD, assistant professor, Department of Pediatrics; and Audrey Tanksley, MD, assistant professor, Department of Medicine.


Housestaff: Benjamin Ferguson, PhD’11, MD’13, Department of Surgery; Kristina Guyton, AB’06, MD’12, Department of Surgery; and Caroline Kuhn, MD’16, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Kim Grahl, MD, a teaching attending, senior clinician educator and preceptor 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.

We want to hear news about your life and accomplishments:



Executive Committee Paul H. Rockey, MPH, MD   ’70 President Michael H. Silverman, MD   ’73 Immediate Past President Chris Albanis, AB   ’96, MD   ’00 Vice President Ernest Mhoon, MD   ’73 Alumni Awards and National Reunion 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

Leonard Korn, MD’68, was inaugurated as president of the New Hampshire Medical Society. He is the society’s 186th president. Korn has served on the executive council of the New Hampshire Psychiatric Society since 2003.

Oluwaseun Adelanke Adetayo, MD   ’06 Andrew Aronson, MD   ’69 Mark R. Aschliman, MD   ’80 Juliana Basko-Plluska, AB   ’04, MD Kenneth Begelman, MD   ’71 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 A. Horvath, AB   ’83, MD   ’87 Karyl Kopaskie, AB   ’07, PhD   ’14 Dennis Lee, MD   ’91 Daniel Leventhal, SM   ’13, PhD   ’16 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, MD   ’59, SM   ’59 Rostik Zajtchuk, SB   ’60, MD   ’63 Student Representatives Olufemi E. Adams, MS3 Ava Ferguson, MS4 Pritzker School of Medicine

Alan M. Jacobson, MD’69, along with his team at NYU Winthrop Hospital, secured a $4.2 million stipend from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study the long-term neurocognitive effects of type 1 diabetes. Jacobson has been the chief research officer at NYU Winthrop Hospital since 2010 and will be the principal investigator for the NIH grant.

1970s Jeffrey Ivan Gordon, MD’73, received the Sanofi-Institut Pasteur International Award for his research on the gut microbiome. He is the Dr. Robert J. Glaser Distinguished University Professor and director of the Edison Family Center for Genome Sciences and Systems Biology at Washington University in St. Louis. Norman Sobol, SM’72, MD’74, was named a 2017 Top Doctor in Brooklyn, New York. He is double certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine and the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. Sobol is affiliated with Mount Sinai Beth Israel and the New York Community Hospital in Brooklyn. Nathan M. Szajnberg, AB’74, MD’74, published a new novel entitled JerusaLand: An Insignificant Death. He is the Wallerstein Research Fellow in psychoanalysis at the Hebrew University. He also has a private practice in the Bay Area.

Ittai Eres Alyssa J. Harker Biological Sciences Divison

Steven L. Spitalnik, MD’78, was nominated to become the at-large director by the AABB (formerly American Association of Blood Banks)

Resident Representative Noura Choudhury, MD   ’16

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Board of Directors. He has been an active member of the AABB for several decades. He received the AABB’s Emily Cooley Award and Lectureship in 2013 and was inducted into the AABB National Blood Foundation Hall of Fame in 2016. Spitalnik is a professor and executive vice chair in the department of pathology and cell biology at Columbia University and medical director of clinical laboratories at New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

1980s Laurence Mark Epstein, MD’85, was named the director of electrophysiology at Northwell Health and appointed professor of medicine at the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/ Northwell. Previously, Epstein was chief of the cardiac arrhythmia service and a professor of medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Charles Michael Gibson, AB’82, SM’84, MD’86, was named president and chief executive officer at the Baim Institute for Clinical Research. Before assuming his new role, he was an interventional cardiologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and a professor at Harvard Medical School. Gibson is the founder and editor-in-chief of WikiDoc, an online open source textbook of medicine, and the founder of PERFUSE, an academic research organization offering services for managing clinical trials. James C. Jensen, MD’86, was named interim medical director of the Edwards Comprehensive Cancer Center at Cabell Huntington Hospital, an academic medical center in Huntington, West Virginia. He is a professor of surgery at the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine. Jensen is cited as one of the first 20 physicians in the country to engage in robotic surgery as a fulltime practice.

1990s R. Sean Morrison, MD’90, was appointed the Ellen and Howard C. Katz Professor and Chair of the Brookdale Department of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (ISMMS). He has been a faculty member of ISMMS since 1995. Before his current role, Morrison served as director of the Lilian and Benjamin Hertzberg Palliative Care Institute, vice chair for research in the Brookdale Department of Geriatrics and as the founding director of the National Palliative Care Research Center.

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Paul Sniegowski, PhD’93, was appointed Stephen A. Levin Family Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania. He is a professor of biology. In addition to being published in various top journals, his research on population and evolutionary genetics has been supported by NASA, the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. Sniegowski won the Department of Biology’s Excellence in Teaching Award twice. In 2005, he was awarded the University of Pennsylvania’s highest teaching honor, the Ira H. Abrams Award. Mustafa Noor, AB’90, MD’94, was appointed the chief development officer for Akcea Therapeutics, where he will help develop drug therapies for unaddressed drivers of cardiometabolic disease. Noor has 20 years of experience in cardiovascular and metabolic clinical research and development, with previous positions at Bristol-Myers Squibb, GSK, Pfizer Inc. and Rugen Therapeutics. Risa Marie Stack, PhD’96, was featured in an article by Nasdaq about her role as general manager for the new business creation team at GE Ventures. Previously, Stack was a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and a derivative specialist on

All aboard for Reunion, June 1-2, 2018

Attention medical alumni who graduated in the following years: 1968, 1973, 1978, 1983, 1988, 1993, 1998, 2003, 2008, 2013.

Don’t miss this opportunity to reunite with your classmates and reminisce about your medical school days. Register online at

Register by phone at 888-303-0030. Already signed up? Visit for a full schedule of events. Share photos, see photos #PSOMReunion2018.




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the Chicago Board of Trade. Her PhD is in immunology. Yvette Efua Appiah, MD’97, is launching SkynergyMD, a high-end cosmetic brand, with three other board-certified dermatologists. Appiah is the founder, chief operating officer and managing partner of AllPhases Dermatology, LLC, in Washington, D.C. Michael Shrader, MD’99, was appointed the division chief for cerebral palsy at the Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Delaware. Before this appointment, he served as professor and chief of pediatric orthopedic surgery and medical director of children’s rehabilitative services at Children’s of Mississippi, part of the University of Mississippi Medical Center. Shrader has also served as the director of the Cerebral Palsy Program at Phoenix Children’s Hospital and as an engineer at NASA.

2000s Alexander Slotwiner, AB’95, MD’00, joined the interventional cardiology team at NYU Langone Hospital-Brooklyn. He completed fellowships in cardiovascular disease and interventional cardiology at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. Erinn Lynn Gardner, MD’01, was named one of Atlanta’s Top Doctors in 2017 by Atlanta magazine. She completed her fellowship in allergy and immunology at Northwestern University and Children’s Memorial Hospital (now Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago). Gardner practices at Atlanta Allergy & Asthma. Stephanie Beidler Teotia, MD’02, was named on the 2016 RealSelf 500 list as one of the top influencers in plastic and reconstructive surgery. She will also become a feature medical reviewer for RealSelf. Teotia is a board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon in the DallasFort Worth area. Pat A. Basu, MBA’05, MD’05, and Pilar Ortega, MD’06, were named to the Crain’s Chicago Business 40 Under 40 list for 2017. The list honors Chicagoans under 40 who are making their mark in business and nonprofits. Basu is the senior vice president of Optum. He previously served as a White House fellow and senior adviser under President Barack Obama, and president, chief operating officer and chief medical officer at Virtual Radiologic. Ortega founded the Medical Organization for Latino Advancement in 2017, dedicated to connecting Chicago’s Latino physicians and health care providers in training.


The organization has more than 300 members. She practices emergency medicine at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center and teaches medical Spanish at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Oluwaseun Adelanke Adetayo, MD’06, established the first pediatric plastic surgery section at Albany Medical Center and the first regional cleft-craniofacial center in

northeastern New York in 2015. In July 2017, a local family donated $2.5 million to allow Adetayo and the cleft-craniofacial center to increase the number of children from the region treated for cleft, cranial and facial abnormalities. In 2016, she was awarded one of the highest honors of the University of Chicago Medical and Biological Sciences Alumni Association, the Distinguished Service Award for Early Achievement.

Jeffrey C. Eisen, MD’09, was named chief medical officer of Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare. Before the announcement, Eisen was a faculty member at Harvard Medical School, as well as the medical director for community behavioral health sciences at Lahey Health in Massachusetts. He is an alumnus of Stanford Graduate School of Business, where he received his MBA with certification in public management.

Day Campus. After his retirement, he served as scientific director of the International Consortium for Research on the Health Effects of Radiation and founded the Science and Management of Addictions Foundation. He also founded and chaired a number of biotech startup companies. Day was preceded in death by his wife, C. J. Taylor-Day. He is survived by their children, Natalia and Julia; his first wife, Jane Day, and their children, Nate and Christopher; and his two grandchildren.

Following his retirement in 2004, he continued to attend the weekly surgery department meetings at Jersey Shore. Knecht played with the Monmouth Symphony Orchestra for 46 seasons and was a member of the American College of Surgeons, the American Board of Surgery, the Monmouth County Medical Society, the Medical Society of New Jersey and the Society of Surgeons of New Jersey. He is survived by his wife, Judy; his daughters, Mary (Adam) and Katherine (Harry); his sister, Dolores; and seven grandchildren.

In Memoriam 1950s Eugene Gootnick, PHB’47, SB’48, MD’52, died on November 19, 2017. He was 89 years old. After beginning his training at the University of Chicago Lying-In Hospital, he completed his internship at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital and Los Angeles County General Hospital. He also served as a captain in the U.S. Air Force Medical Corps. In addition to practicing for more than 40 years in the San Fernando Valley, Gootnick was a clinical professor emeritus of obstetrics and gynecology at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California. He is survived by his wife, Marian; his daughters, Carol (Richard), Susan and Nancy (Ken); and his two grandchildren. Weldon L. Thomas, MD’52, died on October 19, 2017. An alumnus of Albertson College of Idaho, he served as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Infantry from 1944 to 1946. An ophthalmologist, he practiced for almost 40 years at the Wheaton Eye Clinic in Wheaton, Illinois. He is survived by his wife, Juanita; his children, Craig (Gunilla), Julie (Brett) and James (Amy); his siblings, C. Lloyd and Mary; 11 grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren. Robert W. Day, MD’56, died on January 6, 2018. After graduating from medical school, he received a PhD in public health from the University of California, Berkeley. He worked at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of Michigan as a visiting professor, served as bureau chief and chief deputy director of the California Department of Public Health, and was dean and a professor at the University of Washington’s School of Public Health. For 16 years, Day served as president and director of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center at the University of Washington. During his tenure, he oversaw the development of a 13-building complex, now named Robert W.

Wendell W. Weber, MD’59, PhD, died on January 28, 2018. He was 92 years old. He received his PhD in physical chemistry from Northwestern University. He completed his residency at the University of California, San Francisco, followed by a special fellowship with the U.S. Public Health Service at University College London. From 1963 to 1973, he worked as a professor in the department of pharmacology at New York University Medical School. He became a faculty member at the University of Michigan in 1974 and in 1998 was appointed professor emeritus of pharmacology. He is survived by his wife, La Donna; his children, Jane (Lawrence) and Theodore (Kristina); and two grandchildren.

William F. Redding, PhD’67, died on January 16, 2017. He was 88 years old. After graduating from the University of Rhode Island, he joined the U.S. Army as a meat inspector. Redding received his master’s degree from DePaul University and his PhD from the University of Chicago. He taught botany and genetics at a number of institutions, including Loyola University Chicago, Southern Oregon College and Grand Valley State University. In his retirement, Redding completed the Michigan State University Extension Master Gardener Program. He is survived by his wife, Corinne; his children, Alison and Christopher; and his grandchild, Alexandra.



James W. Knecht, SB’60, MD’63, died suddenly on June 14, 2017. As an undergraduate at the University of Chicago, he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and the fencing team. In medical school, he was a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society. He completed a surgical residency at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania before beginning his practice in general and vascular surgery. Knecht worked at both Monmouth Medical Center and the Jersey Shore University Medical Center for almost 35 years. At both centers, he served in several positions, including surgical residency program director and chair of surgery.

Jeffrey P. Davis, MD’73, died on January 16, 2018. An adjunct professor of pediatrics and population health sciences at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Davis also served as chief medical officer for communicable diseases and the state epidemiologist for the State of Wisconsin for more than 40 years. He completed his pediatric residency at the University of Florida, followed by a pediatric infectious disease fellowship at Duke University Medical Center. He is survived by his wife, Roseanne Clark; his children, Eli and Ethan Clark-Davis; his sister, Susan (Larry); and his nieces and nephews.



John Cacioppo, PhD deeply within the field. He is a creative genius whose cumulative accomplishments are so inseparable from the field that it is hard to imagine contemporary psychology without him.” Richard E. Petty, PhD, Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Psychology, The Ohio State University


ohn T. Cacioppo, a pioneer and founder of the field of social neuroscience whose research on loneliness helped to transform psychology and neuroscience, died unexpectedly and peacefully at home on March 5, 2018. He was 66. Cacioppo was the Tiffany and Margaret Blake Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Chicago and served as director of the Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience and chair of the Social Psychology Program. Cacioppo’s colleagues and family said he will be remembered as a truth seeker, creative genius, brilliant scientist, innovator, colleague, teacher, mentor, leader, father and husband.

John Cacioppo, PhD, and Stephanie Cacioppo, PhD

Social neuroscience as a distinct field of study was first coined by Cacioppo and colleagues at the Ohio State University in 1992. The interdisciplinary field that Cacioppo developed focused on human and animal investigations of the multi-level interactions between neural, hormonal, cellular and genetic/genomic mechanisms underlying social structures and processes. While most research in neuroscience focused on the individual, the new discipline examined the associations between social and neural development and evolution from a multidisciplinary perspective. Born June 12, 1951, in Marshall, Texas, Cacioppo received his PhD in psychology from the Ohio State University in 1977. He began his career at the University of Notre Dame before returning to Ohio State in 1989. He joined the University of Chicago’s faculty in 1999. For two decades

In Memoriam

“Put simply, John is one of those once-in-a-generation psychologists whose impact is felt broadly and

he studied social fitness, resilience and the effects of loneliness, showing the negative impacts social isolation has not only on mental health but physical health. Cacioppo and his wife, Stephanie Cacioppo, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience and director of the brain dynamics laboratory, shared an office and a desk, maintaining a partnership in life and in research. “He was, he is and he will remain the love of my life; my intellectual hero, my inspiration, and my role model in life and science,” Stephanie Cacioppo said. “His legacy will live on through his seminal work, our forever lasting love and through all of us whose minds had the privilege of his influence.” Over a celebrated career, John Cacioppo made several breakthroughs and authored more than 500 articles and books, including Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connections (2008). He was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, served on numerous advisory panels and was elected as a fellow to 19 scientific societies. His innovative lines of inquiry and his substantive findings received wide recognition. In 2017, Cacioppo was honored with the Phoenix Prize, the highest honor of the Division of the Social Sciences, for his exceptional work that shaped the direction of research and inquiry around the world. In May 2018, Cacioppo was to receive the prestigious William James Fellow Award from the Association for Psychological Science for a lifetime of “significant intellectual contributions to the basic science of psychology.” In addition to his wife, he is survived by his children, Anthony and Christina. A University memorial service was held in March in Rockefeller Memorial Chapel.

Former faculty

Otto Thilenius, MD, PhD’62


ediatric cardiologist Otto G. Thilenius, MD, PhD’62, died December 27, 2017, after suffering a stroke three days earlier. He was 88. Born in Germany, Thilenius earned his medical degree at Goethe University Frankfurt and immigrated to the United States, where he would emerge as a mainstay of pediatric heart care for a half-century in Chicago. After completing his residency at the University of Chicago in 1959, he earned a PhD in physiology in 1962 and was recruited as an instructor for the medical school. An excellent clinician and mentor-teacher, Thilenius rose through the ranks, receiving promotions to assistant professor in 1964, associate professor in 1969 and professor in 1973. A champion of early intervention, he launched the first pediatric cardiac catheterization lab at the University of Chicago to treat infants with congenital heart defects and other diseases. A patient, kind and methodical physician,

Thilenius also was a prolific researcher, authoring or co-writing more than 50 articles on ventriculoarterial issues in children. He left the University in 1987 to expand pediatric care services at other institutions in the city. Both the heart specialist and his wife, Elsbeth, were generous patrons of the arts on campus, supporting Court Theatre and endowing two music scholarships — one for organ, one for voice — at Rockefeller Memorial Chapel. Thilenius is survived by his wife; two sons, Hans and Stephen; a daughter, Anja van Swinderen; his children’s spouses; and grandchildren. A memorial service held in January at Rockefeller Memorial Chapel featured excerpts from Fauré’s “Requiem” and Brahms’s “A German Requiem” in his honor.




In Memoriam

Faculty emeritus

Louis Cohen, SB’48, MD’53

L “My father treated his patients with kindness, and took time to listen and investigate the cause of their symptoms. He was a preventionist before prevention became popular.” Ruth Kubicek, daughter of Louis Cohen, SB’48, MD’53

ouis Cohen, SB’48, MD’53, professor emeritus and distinguished member of the University of Chicago Medicine’s cardiology faculty, died surrounded by family on January 10, 2018. He was 89. A University of Chicago graduate, he became a talented clinician, respected scientist and beloved professor during his six-decade medical career in Hyde Park. Only his concern for his patients matched Cohen’s passion for scientific discovery, making him a role model for generations of physician-investigators. He made significant contributions to basic and clinical research, with an emphasis on atherosclerosis, blood lipids, cholesterol, arrhythmias and the diagnosis of acute coronary syndromes, and he authored or co-authored more than 70 research publications. Born December 5, 1928, in Chicago, Cohen spent most of his career at the University of Chicago. When he graduated from the College at age 19, he was recruited as a research associate by Emmett Bay, MD, section chief of cardiology. After graduating with honors from medical school, he completed his internship, residency and fellowship in cardiovascular diseases at the University. He was appointed an instructor in medicine in 1959. His teaching career was temporarily interrupted when he was called for active duty in the U.S. Navy Medical Corps in the early 1960s. One assignment included a stint with the Care-Medico humanitarian organization during the Algerian War of Independence, for which the young physician received a Presidential Citation from John F. Kennedy. Back in Chicago, Cohen rose through the ranks to become an assistant professor in 1961, associate professor in 1968 and professor in 1975. Students at the Pritzker School

of Medicine chose Cohen for the Excellence in Clinical Teaching Award from 1963 to 1969. Cohen was especially known for his popular electrocardiogram course, co-taught with colleague Rory Childers, MD. Between instructing students on how to interpret electrocardiograms, he devised preclinical courses on pathophysiology and therapeutics. Just as busy in his laboratory, Cohen developed two compounds for the treatment of Duchenne muscular dystrophy in the 1970s, one of which is still in clinical use. In the 1980s, Cohen and colleagues investigated the physical chemistry of compounds such as verapamil, now used to treat hypertension and chest pain. Cohen chaired the committee that designed UChicago Medicine’s first coronary care unit and served as president of the Chicago chapter of the American Heart Association from 1992 to 1994. An in-demand mentor, he was twice elected president of the Medical and Biological Sciences Alumni Association. He received the Gold Key Award from the medical alumni association in 1996 and the Distinguished Service Award from the Department of Medicine in 2007. He took emeritus status in 2011. He is survived by his daughter, Ruth Kubicek; two sons, Frederick and Curtis; eight grandchildren; and six greatgrandchildren.

Former faculty

Knight Aldrich, MD


night Aldrich, MD, the trailblazing first chair of psychiatry at the University of Chicago and a pioneer in integrating psychiatry into general medical practice, died November 3, 2017. He was 103.

In the 1950s, psychiatry was a section in the Department of Medicine. Inspired by efforts to treat World War II veterans for post-traumatic stress, Aldrich proposed that all physicians be trained to recognize psychiatric disorders. His belief led to the new Department of Psychiatry, which Aldrich helmed from 1955 to 1964. A major initiative invited students to take an elective psychiatric course each year of medical school. During their fourth year, medical students were assigned psychotherapeutic patients for a period of 16 weeks. Aldrich, whose businesslike efficacy was tempered with warm compassion, parlayed the program into an introductory guide to psychiatry for medical students. He co-authored The Student Physician as Psychotherapist in 1962, a book that outlined interview techniques and care. He also helped to build the University’s groundbreaking sleep research program led by Nathaniel Kleitman, PhD’23, and Eugene Aserinsky, PhD’53. Aldrich’s commitment to psychiatry led him in 1964 to focus on improving the care of psychiatric patients in Newark, New Jersey, and Charlottesville, Virginia. He later


joined the faculty at the University of Virginia as a professor of psychiatry and family medicine. He remained active and provocative well into his retirement, publishing an article in 2003 that lambasted the public care of mentally ill Americans as a “national disgrace.” He was 89 at the time. C. Knight Aldrich was born April 12, 1914, in Chicago. He graduated from Northwestern University’s School of Medicine in 1940. He interned at Cook County Hospital, then served as a psychiatry resident at the Marine Hospital on Ellis Island — where he met his wife — and later as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Public Health Service. He taught at the medical schools at the universities of Wisconsin and Minnesota before coming to UChicago. Aldrich’s wife, Julie Honore Aldrich, died at age 103 in 2013 after 71 years of marriage. He is survived by his daughter, Carol Barkin, and her husband, Coleman; his son, Robert, and wife, Amy; daughters-in-law, Leslie Aldrich (the widow of his son Michael, an internationally known sleep researcher) and Susan Aldrich (the widow of his son Thomas); eight grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.


Faculty emeritus

Angelo Scanu, MD “His groundbreaking research persuaded heart and vascular specialists around the world that certain variants of Lp(a) are strongly associated with an increased risk of coronary artery disease.” Sandra Tremulis, founder of the Lipoprotein(a) Foundation, a patient advocacy organization


hysician-scientist Angelo M. Scanu, MD, professor emeritus of medicine and biochemistry at the University of Chicago and a world authority on a major risk factor for heart and vascular disease, died on January 12, 2018, after a fall at his home. He was 93. An expert on lipoprotein(a), Scanu was the first to identity this cholesterol particle as a risk for coronary artery disease for one in every five or six people. His 1987 discovery and a series of subsequent studies gradually persuaded specialists around the world that certain variants of Lp(a) were associated with an increased risk of coronary artery disease. By 2009, more than 20 years after Scanu’s team first described the mechanism, data from multiple studies were able to “support a causal role of Lp(a) lipoprotein in coronary disease,” a study reported in The New England Journal of Medicine. “We discovered something that overnight made the field just go boom,” Scanu said in 2009, when he was director of the University of Chicago Lipid Clinic. “It brought together the fields of cardiology and thrombosis.” There is currently no medication that can safely lower blood levels of Lp(a). Scanu counseled patients to “go around the iceberg” and “correct what is correctable.” That meant an appropriate diet and exercise, plus treatment with lipidlowering agents when necessary. Scanu was also known for previous research. In a classic paper, published in 1958 when he was at the Cleveland Clinic, he coined the term “good cholesterol” for high-density lipoproteins.

his residency there in 1950, he did additional research at universities in Spain and Sweden before joining the faculty at the University of Naples in 1953. In 1955, he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study biochemistry in the United States, at the Cleveland Clinic, where he joined the staff. From 1959 to 1961, he worked as a biochemist at the Brookhaven National Laboratory. Scanu’s work gradually shifted from animal models to humans, and he began a second round of residency training in 1961 at the University of Chicago. He joined the faculty as an assistant professor in 1963 and rose through the ranks to become a professor of medicine and biochemistry in 1970. The much-honored researcher published more than 275 papers and multiple book chapters and articles during his career. In 2010, he received the Department of Medicine’s Distinguished Service Award in recognition of his nearly 50 years of dedicated service. He retired in 2011.

Angelo Maria Scanu was born December 16, 1924, in Sassari, Italy. He earned his bachelor’s degree in 1943 from the Scientific Lyceum in Sassari and his medical degree from the Sassari University Medical School in 1949. After completing

Scanu is survived by his partner, Celina Edelstein; his daughter, Gabriella Scanu; his son, Marco; and two grandsons, Niccolo and Matteo. A memorial service was held in April in Bond Chapel.

Former faculty

Frank Leonard Johnson, MD


rank Leonard “Len” Johnson, MD, founder of the pediatric bone marrow transplant program at the University of Chicago, died after a brief illness on December 24, 2017. He was 72. A native of Australia, Johnson received his medical degree in Sydney and moved to the United States to 1971 to pursue an oncology fellowship at the University of Washington in Seattle. There he met transplant pioneer E. Donnall Thomas, MD, and became the first pediatrician on Thomas’ team. Johnson returned to Australia in 1975 to set up the first bone marrow transplant program at the Children’s Hospital in Sydney. He came back to the U.S. a year later, where he oversaw transplant programs at the Children’s Orthopedic Hospital and Medical Center in Seattle and at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. It was at St. Jude that Johnson led the team that first cured a child with sickle cell anemia using a bone marrow

transplant. Johnson served as chief of pediatric hematology/ oncology and director of bone marrow transplantation at UChicago Medicine’s Wyler Children’s Hospital in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He relocated to Oregon Health & Science University in 1995, where he was chair of pediatrics, and later mentored students at the University of California, San Diego. Always a leader, he served as president of the American Society of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology and of the North Pacific Pediatric Society. Johnson is survived by his wife, Liz, a physical therapist at La Rabida Children’s Hospital for many years, and his three sons, Peter, Michael and Geoff.




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Comic relief MS4 Shirlene Obuobi created ShirlyWhirl, MD, her autobiographical comic strip character, to help relieve stress during medical school. Soon her Pritzker classmates and medical students across the country started following Shirly as she copes with the ups and downs of learning to be a physician. See more ShirlyWhirl comics on Page 30. What would Shirly say? Enter our ShirlyWhirl caption contest on Page 31.


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Medicine on the Midway - Spring 2018  

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

Medicine on the Midway - Spring 2018  

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