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Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine

Peering into the future through the lens of reseach

Winter 2014 Volume 41, No. 1


Volume 41, Issue 1 Copyright 2014 Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine Published three times per year by the Office of Public Relations East Fee Hall 965 Fee Road, Room A306 East Lansing, MI 48824 To contact Public Relations: 517-353-0616


EDITOR Pat Grauer

DESIGN Annmarie Y. Cook

PHOTOGRAPHY Annmarie Y. Cook Jennifer Lanuzza Laura Probyn Rose Shubeck

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Mary Louder, D.O. Kristopher Thomas Nicholoff

EDITORIAL ASSISTANCE Beth Courey Meghan Tappy DiPiazza Katie Donnelly

Research: part of who we’ve been and who we’ll always be Research (along with education and outreach) is one of the three core tenets upon which the land-grant system is built. Though MSUCOM is one of MSU’s newer colleges, having only been part of the university since 1971, I believe that with our strong commitment to our students, our myriad outreach efforts and our research portfolio, we fit seamlessly into a system that was created way back in 1855. I’m very proud of all of the investigations that go on across our college, not only in terms of the quality and the quantity, but also in the nature and locations where our scientists do their work. Our many highly regarded investigators include two professors who hold endowed chairs, and four University Distinguished Professors. One of those, Andrea Amalfitano, was recently named the director of MSU’s Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute, an entity that works across MSU colleges and departments to support research with partners from across Michigan and beyond. We’re not just leaders in our own backyard, as MSUCOM receives more funding from the National Institutes of Health than any other osteopathic college – a testament to the quality of the research that is conducted here. We have faculty members who are working together and with their peers across the institution, across the nation and around the world. In this issue of Communiqué you can find out about work that’s going on from as far away as sub-Saharan Africa to studies right here in Lansing to determine how to better use technology to treat neurology patients in those critical minutes and hours after they’ve suffered a stroke. Other stories focus on fascinating studies and people, including: • Min-Hao Kuo, an associate professor of biochemistry, who is exploring hyperphosphorylated tau protein, a new target for drugs to treat Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders. With the failure of large drug trials this summer focusing on beta amyloid as the treatment target, Kuo’s objectives include developing a system to cause these p-tau proteins to clump together in the laboratory, and then to screen for compounds that increase or decrease the clumping. • Douglas Postels, associate professor of pediatric neurology and a marathon runner, who is working to lower rates of child morbidity and mortality in subSaharan African nations. The Child Neurology Society recently recognized him for his work with the 2013 Arnold P. Gold Foundation Humanism in Medicine Award. • Stephanie Watts, a dynamic professor of pharmacology and toxicology, who is committed to giving young scientists the same kind of support and encouragement that she received as an undergraduate, graduate and budding researcher. And speaking of encouraging young researchers, take a few minutes to read about our new SUPER summer science experience for undergraduates. It gives a select group of promising students a very special opportunity to learn from some of our brightest physician-scientists. These are only a few of the many research activities that are taking place across MSUCOM. There are numerous others that are just as exceptional as those presented in this issue of Communiqué and many more in the planning stages. William D. Strampel, D.O., Dean


Min-Hao Kuo: Seeking the truth about Alzheimer’s disease by Pat Grauer

Two major observations of the brains of Alzheimer’s disease victims have long been associated with the disease. The first is the development of beta-amyloid deposits – the “plaques” that can be found outside the neurons, the nerve cells in the brain. The second is the presence of neurofibrillary tangles inside the neurons, which are believed to cause miscommunication among cells, and possibly cell death. Research on amyloid deposits has led to frustration. Vaccines that cleared the plaque didn’t affect the dementia. Last year, major clinical trials on the amyloidtargeted drug bapineuzumab determined there was no sign of clinical effect. Min-Hao Kuo, associate professor of biochemistry, is focusing on the damage that occurs within the neurons as the major culprit of the disease. His research comes in from a different angle, that is, Alzheimer’s being a “tauopathy,” a disease caused by changed tau proteins in the cells. The tau of biochemistry Tau proteins normally function through their interactions with microtubules, the transport system in neurons. Once

tau proteins are compromised, the microtubule functions may be jeopardized as well, causing chaos in the cell and possibly blocking communication among neurons. Worse, the compromised tau molecules themselves are thought to be an underlying cause of neurodegeneration. This is because normal tau proteins are moderately phosphorylated, that is, they possess on average two to three phosphate groups per molecule, a result of balanced action of two families of enzymes – kinases and phosphatases – that add and remove phosphate groups from specific proteins. “However, when this balance goes awry, tau may become what’s called hyperphosphorylated,” Kuo noted. “This causes tau to dissociate from microtubules, and form the neurofibrillary tangles (NFT).” Studies have shown that the density of these tangles correlates with cognitive impairment and other neurodegeneration in Alzheimer’s and other tauopathies. “Other researchers exploring the NFTs have found compounds that can dissolve them in the test tube,” Kuo said, “but we are concerned that they are studying unmodified tau, not hyperphosphorylated ‘p-tau,’ which may form NFTs in different ways. Second, there is some indication in animal studies that tau aggregation in

living beings may actually be protective. A soluble form of p-tau may be what’s causing the damage, and precipitating it out as NFTs might be helpful. Dissolving the tangles may actually make things worse.” Kuo’s research has two objectives • To develop a research system that will reliably cause p-tau proteins to aggregate into NFTs in vitro • To screen for compounds that modulate, positively or negatively, p-tau aggregation – enhancers, inhibitors and dissolvers. Zipping up p-tau production Considering the facts that even the nonphosphorylated tau may cost researchers as much as $30,000 for a milligram, that it aggregates much more slowly than p-tau, and that it might not be the best target for Alzheimer’s treatment, Kuo and his team have developed a modified production system for p-tau that would speed their research, make it more relevant, and will cost only $1,000 a milligram. Rather than simply mixing tau proteins and kinases to create p-tau, Kuo employs leucine zippers, matching protein motifs that physically bind each other tightly, to facilitate the association between tau and one of its modifying kinases. As such, a maximum amount of p-tau can be produced, purified, and then “unzipped.” The process is called ZAC (zippers-assisted catalysis), and Kuo has effectively used it in producing p-tau in bacteria. To this point, Kuo’s research has been to develop this system that will allow him to study p-tau efficiently, effectively and economically. With pure samples available, he can analyze what actually happens to these proteins, how they behave under different circumstances, and what role they may play in Alzheimer’s disease and other neuropathies. Then, based on this information, he will be able to assess the efficacy of certain drugs and, perhaps, find the magic bullet that will save the minds of an estimated 36 million people worldwide. “Before such a drug goes to clinical trials, we need to look at everything we can in the lab, patiently, methodically and carefully,” Kuo said. “Alzheimer’s disease is devastating enough to victims and their families without rushing forward with a drug that only offers false hope.”




It’s a SUPER summer for undergraduates in new MSUCOM program by Laura Probyn

MSUCOM’s DO-PhD Physician Scientist Training Program gives graduates the opportunity to study with outstanding faculty members and explore the possibilities for a career as a physician-scientist. But recruiting candidates can be challenging. “We’re always looking for highly qualified students, and it’s hard to find them,” said Justin McCormick, associate dean for research and graduate studies and director of the DO-PhD program. “Only a few osteopathic medical student applicants consider the dual-degree curriculum. Most are so focused on the strong patient-orientation of D.O.s that they fail to realize the immense need there is to develop new therapies, better pharmaceutical agents, and improved procedures. These are the kinds of improvements individuals with a DO-PhD can bring to osteopathic medicine.” Enter the Summer Undergraduate Physician-scientist Education & Research (SUPER) program. SUPER introduces undergrads to the DO-PhD option and a career that marries research and medicine by exposing them to professionals who are engaged in that work. McCormick and Bethany Heinlen, the DO-PhD program administrator, were looking for an effective way to channel top undergrads to the program and wouldn’t require them to reinvent the wheel, and a summer undergraduate recruitment program seemed to fill the bill. Nearly 20 students applied for the inaugural four slots. Finalists were selected based on criteria that included their GPAs and whether they had previous research experience. Recruiting faculty mentors was a much more streamlined process. “We sent announcements to MSUCOM and basic science department faculty and we had 10 volunteers.

Keith Lookingland, associate professor of pharmacology and toxicology, works with MSU biochemistry and molecular biology major Charles Swanson


Nathan Rietberg, a University of Michigan kinesiology and movement major, works with research assistant Kiilani Kaaikala and Peter Reeves, assistant professor of osteopathic surgical specialties.

Everybody seems to be well matched and we are excited,” noted Heinlen. The 10-week program was launched on June 3. Each student spends time working in the lab, shadowing clinicians and attending weekly seminars offered by DO-PhD students. They also attend workshops on such topics as creating academic résumés, applying to graduate school and developing a research poster. The students are provided housing on campus for the program’s duration and receive a $2,500 stipend. Laura Harding, an MSU senior from Okemos, Mich., majoring in genomics and molecular genetics is working with Andrea Amalfitano, professor of microbiology and molecular genetics. She’s taking part in work to make viruses for use in a vaccine for Clostridium difficile, an infection that causes colitis and diarrhea in individuals being treated with antibiotics, often in hospitals or long-term care facilities. “I love working with cell lines and didn’t get a chance to do that before,” she said. “It’s nice to see the end product— undergrads don’t get to see that. Here you get to see it from start to finish.” McCormick and Heinlen point out that the program helps the students target their interests and clarify their futures. To excel as a physician-scientist, focus is essential. McCormick noted. “If it’s research here and medicine there you don’t have time to do both. The program is intended to help them see, ‘when I’m doing one, I’m doing the other.’” This message is striking a chord with Charles Swanson, an MSU senior majoring in biochemistry and molecular biology from South Lyon, Mich. He’s working with John Goudreau,


associate professor of neurology and pharmacology and toxicology and Keith Lookingland, associate professor of pharmacology and toxicology. “The shadowing experiences are impressive,” Swanson said. “They give you an appreciation for research and how it can benefit the people you see every day [as a physician].” Nathan Rietberg, a University of Michigan senior from Jenison, Mich., majoring in kinesiology and movement science, is working with Peter Reeves, assistant professor of osteopathic surgical specialties. He appreciates the chance to get directly involved in the research. “It’s great being exposed to the Friday seminars. The research is great because they are testing actual subjects. It’s not in the planning or preparation— it’s the fun stuff,” he said.

Matthew Thomas, a biopsychology and neurosciece student at The University of Michigan, works with Brian Schutte, associate proessor of microbiology and molecular genetics.

Andrea Amalfitano, Osteopathic Heritage Foundation Endowed Chair and professor of pediatrics and of microbiology and molecular genetics, works with Laura Harding, an MSU senior from Okemos, Mich., majoring in genomics and molecular genetics.

He also appreciates the chance to interact with current DO-PhD candidates. “The speaker last week [DO-PhD student David Rastall] gave us the straight truth about being a DO-PhD student and did not sugarcoat anything.” Matthew Thomas, a University of Michigan senior from Bloomfield Hills, Mich., is studying biopsychology and neuroscience. “Before the SUPER Program, I was interested in getting a Ph.D. instead of just a D.O. or an M.D. and contemplating a life in research rather than just surgery,” Thomas said. Swanson agrees. “I wasn’t considering dual-degree programs before this, now I’m considering it. When all is said and done, you have a powerful tool set and can run medical experiments that are scientifically valid. With the dual degree, you train your mind to think scientifically about medicine.”

Amalfitano named director of MSU Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute by Laura Probyn

Andrea Amalfitano, Osteopathic Heritage Foundation Endowed Chair, and professor of pediatrics and of microbiology and molecular genetics, has been named director of the MSU Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute. The CTSI was established in 2008 to bring together researchers from across a variety of disciplines to conduct studies that can range from academic laboratory investigations, to clinical trials, to work toward identifying gaps in current health care outcomes or treatments. Amalfitano believes the institute can fill a vital role in enabling basic researchers to “translate” their work from the discovery phase to viable medical options, as well as allow health care workers or community members to bring their questions to MSU researchers for potential collaborative investigations and eventual development of solutions. Amalfitano, who is an MSUCOM graduate with both a D.O. and a Ph.D., is working to position the CTSI as a place that will support clinical research by doctors, hospitals and health systems and that will respond to patient community needs. “We want to make the university available to all our health system partners who are seeing patients or are engaged in their community but have questions they can’t answer on their own. But in collaboration with the expertise here at MSU, they might be able to do that,” he said. The CTSI is part of the office for the MSU Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies. For more information, visit




Anmar Razak, assistant professor of vascular and interventional neurology and director of stroke outreach and telemedicine.

Pairing technology and medical expertise to improve stroke victims’ chances for recovery by Laura Probyn

In rural areas, a patient might suffer a stroke miles away from a stroke center and might be transported to a small, local hospital that doesn’t have a staff neurologist. To help these patients get immediate attention from a stroke specialist who can diagnose and recommend treatment, the MSU Department of Neurology and Ophthalmology, in collaboration with Lansing’s Sparrow Hospital, launched mid-Michigan’s first telestroke network. It’s a treatment model that can be put to use as soon as a stroke patient enters the emergency room. “When you’re facing a stroke victim, it’s a race against time,” said Anmar Razak, MSU assistant professor of vascular and interventional neurology and director of stroke outreach and telemedicine. “In stroke, time is brain and every minute without blood flow results in a loss of two million brain cells.” The telestroke network, with its command center at the new Sparrow Neuroscience Facility, is in its first phase and is connecting MSU neurology and stroke specialists at Sparrow with physicians and staff at four small, rural hospitals—Eaton Rapids Medical Center, Eaton Rapids; Clinton Memorial Hospital, St. Johns; Hayes Green Beach, Charlotte; and Sparrow Ionia Hospital, Ionia. “We’re using a hub-and-spoke model,” Razak said. “Stroke specialists from the ‘hub’ hospital connect electronically via hand-held audio and video equipment to multiple smaller ‘spoke’ hospitals. These spoke sites are typically in remote or rural areas with no access to a local neurologist or stroke specialist.” When a patient with stroke presents to these sites, specialists at the hub, using telestroke, can quickly perform a neurological assessment to determine if the patient should receive a timesensitive clot-busting treatment, or recommend transfer to the hub for interventional or surgical treatment. The initiative began in April 2013 and is fully functioning at all four smaller hospitals. Faculty members from the Department of Neurology and Ophthalmology, along with support staff from 4 COMMUNIQUÉ WINTER 2014

Sparrow, are providing public awareness campaigns, staff education and marketing assistance to help communicate the system’s benefits. The system works using specialized industry manufactured telemedicine machines equipped with Wi-Fi, audio and video. The machines act as remotecontrolled audiovisual robots and are placed at the spoke hospitals. They connect wirelessly to portable electronic devices that are typically carried by the hub hospital specialists day and night. The telestroke network gives doctors at the spoke hospitals the chance to log in and confer with the specialists about treatment options as soon as they see patients, instead of transferring them directly to a stroke center. This can eliminate delays in receiving treatment and may, in turn, significantly improve the patient’s chances of a good outcome. Future plans for the network include expanding it to additional rural hospitals and building a partnership with the MSU College of Communication Arts and Sciences to develop and implement lower-cost telestroke alternatives. These alternatives would use more available commercial devices, such as tablets and smartphones with built-in cameras, that would be equipped with customized, HIPAA-compliant two-way communication software. There are plenty of data that suggest using a telestroke system significantly improves stroke outcomes. The American Heart Association recommends implementing telestroke networks in areas with no local access to stroke specialists. “Installing innovative, low-cost, tablet-based systems and comparing them to higher-cost, industry-supplied units in a head-to-head research study will allow us to examine the difference in cost effectiveness, safety, reliability and efficacy of the two systems,” Razak said. “Our goal will be to make telestroke networks more affordable to implement nationwide and ultimately provide better patient care.” There’s also a separate effort in the works in collaboration with the College of Communication Arts and Sciences and the Department of Computer Science and Engineering to develop unique, stroke-specific telemedicine software that can be used to build a custom tablet-based network. When completed, this tool will be made available to other universities and health care systems that may be interested in establishing their own low-cost networks. Razak and his colleagues also plan to test the utility of such a tablet-based system before the patient arrives at the emergency room. That would include equipping ambulances with portable telestroke devices that could enable neurologists to connect with EMTs and offer patients help while they are in transit to the hospital, to expedite diagnosis and management. “If we can look at patients before they get to the hospital, we can determine if they are in acute stroke and save time when they arrive or divert them directly to a more dedicated stroke center,” Razak said. “This initiative –the Prehospital Ambulance-based Telestroke System, or PATS—may change the way stroke victims are triaged in the future.”


A stroke of hope: New research explores possibility for reversing neurological damage by Laura Probyn

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stroke is the leading cause of serious, long-term disability for Americans. This does not speak to the emotional toll that a debilitating stroke can take on individuals and families. While physicians are driving home the message that early action when stroke symptoms are present is key to preventing serious, permanent debilitation, a new research project is looking at whether it’s possible to reverse serious damage from stroke once it has occurred. Syed Hussain, MSU assistant professor of neurology and ophthalmology, medical director of Stroke Services at Sparrow Hospital and director of the MSU interventional neurology program, is the lead investigator for the study at MSU. It is the only Michigan location that will be part of the multi-site, multistate study called RECOVER, based at the University of TexasHouston. This industry-sponsored, national trial is looking at whether it is possible to reverse permanent stroke damage by harvesting, concentrating and replacing an individual’s own stem cells in a process called autologous stem cell infusion. Data have been collected that show that the process is safe and the Food and Drug Administration has given the go-ahead to begin testing it on stroke patients. Hussain and his team began screening patients on Nov. 1. “Stem cells will be harvested from the patients’ own bone marrow and then processed, refined and concentrated,” Hussain said. “That marrow will be infused via a catheter into their brains and these patients will be followed clinically as well as radiographically over the course of a year to see what type of improvements there are, if any, and to see if there are any changes on the follow-up imaging within the brain.” This study is especially critical because this process is already being used in other countries and, according to Hussain, there is no established efficacy. There have been self-reported studies, but nothing at the level of scientific rigor that will be underway in this endeavor. “In other countries people are paying a lot of money out-ofpocket for stem cell therapy,” he said. “We hope that once this trial is completed it will provide the highest level of evidence about whether stem cell infusions work or not. We are all very keen to get this trial off the ground and enroll patients and reach completion.” Other trials, especially one centered at the University of Miami, have shown that animals who received the stem cell infusions after stroke showed smaller area of stroke, better functional outcomes and a greater degree of healing. “There are a lot of animal data. That’s why we’re excited this trial is happening, but right now we really don’t know if this works,” Hussain noted. “We’re not saying we know this is going to work—we’re just saying, ‘Let’s evaluate this treatment systematically’ and that’s the whole goal.” The research is a double-blind, placebo, randomized study. This means that some of the participants will be infused with their stem cells and others will receive a placebo—and that neither the researchers nor the patients will know who is receiving the stem

cells and who is receiving the placebo. “That’s really to prevent the introduction of any type of bias by both the investigators and patients,” Hussain said. “Performing these kinds of procedures as part of a clinical trial is a major undertaking and goes through regulatory review at the national level, as well as within our institution. After this extensive review process It has been deemed safe to enroll patients.” Patients will be screened for participation roughly three weeks following a stroke incident, and only those whose strokes have significantly affected their daily lives will be considered. Hussain expects to screen 15 to 20 patients for every individual who is enrolled into the study. “As this trial requires a lot of coordination between different departments, our initial goals are modest,” Hussain said. “We are looking, on average, to enroll one patient a month for the first year. For that we’ll have to be screening a lot of patients.” He said that the study may continue for up to five years. Local participating entities include the MSU neurology and stroke division; the MSU hematology/oncology team, Sparrow Hospital Heart and Vascular Center and Sparrow Hospital Nursing and Rehab Services. Once they are enrolled into the study, patients will receive treatment (stem cells or placebo) one time at Sparrow Hospital and then subsequently take part in follow-up neurological and radiographic examinations over the course of a year at the MSU Clinical Center. The patients will also complete questionnaires to apprise researchers of their regular activities throughout the study. “If the results are positive it will usher in an era where stem cell treatments may be a realistic option for patients who are left with significant disability after stroke,” Hussain added.

Image of a blood vessel occlusion on an angiography

The corresponding MRI picture revealing an area of stroke related to the occlusion.




Postels finds Gold while seeking treatments for cerebral malaria by Laura Probyn

Douglas Postels, M.D., associate professor of pediatric neurology, works to lower the high rates of childhood neurologic morbidity and mortality in medically underserved African nations. He was recently honored for his work, receiving the 2013 Arnold P. Gold Foundation Humanism in Medicine Award of the Child Neurology Society. Postels, who does clinical work and research in Michigan and sub-Saharan Africa, received the award on Nov. 1, during the 42nd Annual Meeting of the Child Neurology Society in Austin, Texas. “I am very happy to have received this year’s Gold Humanism Award. The Child Neurology Society does not grant many awards and I am the fourth recipient. And, of course it is always an honor to be recognized by one’s professional society,” Postels said. In announcing Postels’ receipt of the award, the Child Neurology Society noted, “This prestigious award recognizes him as a physician who has shown extraordinary and ongoing humanism in medicine, both for his work in the United States and abroad. His interactions with patients and their families, both at Michigan State University and abroad, demonstrates his empathy, respect for others, sensitivity, and clinical and research expertise, all attributes of a humanistic physician.” After completing pediatric neurology training, Postels initially built a career as a clinician. He worked with Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders before coming to MSU in 2010. He is part of a team addressing the high rates of mortality and poor neurologic outcomes related to childhood malaria in African nations. Pending funding, Postels’ next research project involves collecting spinal fluid and blood from patients in Ghana, Uganda and Malawi to identify viruses that may be simultaneously infecting children with cerebral malaria. His long-term hope is to identify and test adjunctive anti-viral therapies that will help decrease death rates of and improve neurologic outcomes in children surviving cerebral malaria. The statistics are grim. The World Health Organization estimates that annually there are 600,000 people diagnosed with cerebral malaria. More than ninety percent of the mortality from this condition is in African children less than 5 years old. Even with the optimal clinical care provided by the MSU team working in Malawi, 15 percent of children with Douglas Postels, associate professor of cerebral malaria die and 30 percent of survivors are left with pediatric neurology, in the Paediatric neurological, intellectual or behavioral injuries. Research Ward at Queen Elizabeth Central Postels is currently part of the team led by Terrie Taylor, Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi. Postels was D.O., University Distinguished Professor of osteopathic a visiting professor of pediatric neurology, funded by the World Federation of medical specialties, who is exploring therapeutic interventions Neurology. to decrease mortality and morbidity rates in children with cerebral malaria. As an academic physician, his work does not end with clinical work and research in Africa. He provides clinical care to Michigan children when he is in the U.S., in addition to teaching MSUCOM medical residents in adult neurology, pediatrics, and child psychiatry. To learn research skills while transitioning from clinical practice to academia, Postels continues to pursue a master’s degree in epidemiology at MSU. Two days after receiving the Gold Foundation Award at the Child Neurology Society annual meeting, Postels ran the New York City marathon, completing the 26.2 mile course in 4:48:03, a few minutes slower than his time in 2012’s Berlin Marathon. His run wasn’t only a personal accomplishment. He and his spouse (and running partner) ran both races as fundraisers for Médecins Sans Frontières/ Doctors without Borders, raising more than $9,000 to further the organization’s aim of providing medical care to those in need. Like many other physicians within the MSU community, Postels exemplifies our university’s spirit of cultural inclusiveness and humanism in medicine. 6 COMMUNIQUÉ WINTER 2014


Research electives gives first-year students experience in clinical studies in Detroit by Laura Probyn

An understanding of how research is carried out is valuable to any medical student. It can help bolster a residency-hunter’s résumé and later makes a practicing physician a better research consumer. Students don’t have to wait past their first year to begin getting experience conducting research, thanks to a program that began in 2011 and is coordinated by Janice Schwartz, assistant professor of physiology, and Rami Ibrahim, assistant professor of pharmacology and toxicology. The preclerkship medical research elective opportunity was developed for students who have completed at least half of their first year, are in good academic standing and have an interest in clinical studies. They get the opportunity to work with scientists and clinicians in one of the research hospitals located near the Detroit Medical Center. “Medical students get exposed to clinical research during their first year of medical school, something that’s unique in the D.O. world,” Ibrahim said. This is an elective that takes advantage of the fact that MSUCOM/DMC is located so close to several large teaching hospitals.” Ibrahim and Schwartz work with a number of clinical faculty members at DMC hospitals to place students in research labs and clinical research-oriented practices. Students must be in good academic standing when they begin their work, and can use the experience as a springboard to future opportunities. “Students want to spruce up their résumés to prepare for residencies in the future,” Ibrahim said. “Even if they are going to work in private practice, they want competitive residencies.” The electives began with six students selected from an applicant pool of 16. One withdrew early in the process, so five first-year students commenced work on research areas ranging from infectious diseases to malignant hematology to orthopedics. Four of those students have obtained MSUCOM elective research credit for their participation. One student, who was the first to be placed, presented his research findings at a medical meeting as well as at the MSU Research Week last spring. The duration of each research project is variable. One Canadian

The MSUCOM student research program based at the Detroit Medical Center site is led by (left to right) Gary Willyerd, Janice Schwartz, Katelyn Johnston, and Rami Ibrahim.

student completed a project at Henry Ford Hospital and took advantage of the opportunity to work on a second study. “To be competitive in Canada you have to have a strong résumé and you have to go all out,” Ibrahim said. “The Henry Ford experience gives him that luxury of being engaged all the way through.” Another benefit to the program is the wide variety of medical studies being conducted at Detroit area hospitals. Ibrahim noted that students can pursue studies in a variety of specializations. The students aren’t the only ones who are sharing what they’ve learned through this elective. Ibrahim, Schwartz, and DMC Associate Dean Gary Willyerd and Curriculum Assistant Katelyn Johnston have submitted an abstract for presentation at a national meeting in 2014. It is anticipated that the DMC preclerkship elective will be opened for new applicants in Spring 2014.

Dewitt pediatrics clinic doubles its facilities by Pat Grauer

The DeWitt Pediatrics office staff. Front row, left to right, Nikki Wieber, Dr. Joel Greenberg, and Dr. Rachel Christensen. Back row, left to right, Renee Fouts, Cathy Cole, Emily Spicer, Jeanna Price and Dawn Box.

Due to an anticipated increase in young patients with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, MSUCOM’s Department of Pediatrics is doubling the size of its clinic in DeWitt. The clinic, just north of the intersection of Airport and Clark Roads, has grown from four to nine examination rooms, with expansion of its nursing facilities, front office and waiting room. “We’re hiring a nurse practitioner, and looking for another osteopathic physician,” said Chairperson Joel Greenberg. In addition to Greenberg, current coverage is offered by faculty Andrea Amalfitano, Jennifer Boote, Rachel Christensen, Kimberly Mitcham, Christopher Pohlod, and Robert Root.





A passion for teaching and advocacy for elegant health care

by Pat Grauer

He’s a pondside denizen, a poet, an enthusiastic bear of a Renaissance man whose email name is “hiramcatfish.” He teaches ornithology, botany and fly fishing. But most of all, Stephen Williams is a physician who is passionate about teaching, modeling and practicing efficient, cost-effective, gold-standard health care. The teacher An associate professor of pediatrics, he said that, “If students are burning to excel, then wonderful things happen. Curiosity drives learning. They want to know. But so many learners are closed down.” The coordinator for MSUCOM’s dermatology course, he decided to make “learning horizontal . . . morphing the lecture into a laboratory.” Students are grouped in teams of three, prepare ahead of class, and then have to answer questions in front of their peers. Williams and the other four faculty members who teach the class go out among the students with a microphone, and the teams can win or lose points based on their knowledge. “Their class participation is worth 60 percent of their grade. It gives merit to preparing, to paying attention. There’s something at stake,” he said. “The final, all pictures, is the remaining part of their grade, and the teams can consult among themselves during the exam.” The poet emerges. “We put our feet in the shifting sands of an archipelago of knowledge in a looming sea of ignorance,” he said. “I want to help build boats, and say to the students, ‘Tell me what you find when you explore.’” PREPmaster For more than two decades, Williams has been writing test questions for the American Academy of Pediatrics PREP (Pediatrics Review and Education Program), which provide a wide array of assessment and educational programs for pediatricians and subspecialists to use for self-teaching, patient care or board preparation. “I created in our department the first evidence-based seminar in the country – the first published,” Williams noted. “We meet monthly, and have now 8 COMMUNIQUÉ WINTER 2014

Teaching is at the heart of everything Williams does.

discussed more than 60 topics to help each other assay and improve what we do. In so doing, we created a dialog that never existed before.” “Value equals quality over cost,” Williams said. “Quality, which should not be compromised, is the sum of patient-centered, clinical outcomes, patient safety and patient satisfaction. Since we don’t have the resources in medicine to meet all needs, the thrust of our work becomes reducing the cost while preserving or even increasing quality. Our routines, which we establish in the name of efficiency, risk reducing value if we don’t regularly scrutinize our practices.” Noting that physicians drive 70 percent of health care costs, Williams raises the issue of whether current practice uses scarce resources appropriately. “My mantra is, ‘Don’t just do something. Stand there. Think.’ “We have known for 35 years that cough and cold medications don’t work for young children,” he said, “but we’re still prescribing them today. We know that overprescribing antibiotics is bad for all of us, but parents push for them, and doctors all too often give in, even feeling better doing so.” He teaches five objectives to address the issue • Develop more confidence in using clinical patterns to make accurate diagnoses and effective treatment decisions • Learn to question if diagnostic tests will truly help decide what to do in a particular situation • Learn to ask what harm might be

caused by simply ordering a test • Learn to question if any treatment is really necessary and what harm might come from any treatment chosen • Get in the habit of continuously reshaping and often trimming practice behavior as new evidence comes to light. During 35 years of practice, Williams has kept an inventory of treatments that have been used and then later shown not to work. For example, diagnostic studies for Group A strep are generally not recommended for the vast majority of children under three. Pneumonia is very uncommon among patients who wheeze. There is no need to evaluate simple febrile seizures. Neuroimaging for classic migraine and typical stress headaches is not useful. Williams readily acknowledges the challenges he is presenting. “In medicine, it is easier to do some wellintended concrete thing, such as order a test or write a prescription. Inertia is hard to shed. The comfort zone is oh-so-comfortable indeed. Why else do we continue to prescribe azithromycin for acute bronchitis in children when every pediatric infectious disease expert advises us not to?” He finds a touchstone in a quote by Antoine de Saint-Exupery from Wind, Sand and Stars: “In anything at all, perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away.” “I’m discarding dowsers, amulets and leeches,” Williams grinned. “I invite my students, residents and colleagues to do the same.”


Promoting diversity and individuals along with science. by Nick Bruckman

Just looking around her laboratory in MSU’s Life Sciences Building, it’s hard to believe that science is a male dominated field. Thanks to a bit of guidance and a lot of growth, new scientists with diverse stories are being nurtured here every day. With seven undergraduate researchers, one graduate student, and four research associates, Stephanie Watts’ lab is crowded. Filling her lab are students who demonstrate a lot of heart in the pursuit of science, academics and their own lives. “If I see a person who is willing to try, to communicate, and to make themselves vulnerable to fail—those are the things that I want to support. Knowing something is good, but I’m not so concerned about grades. It’s your skills and your ability to troubleshoot that concern me, and students all grow at different rates,” said Watts, a professor of pharmacology and toxicology. While managing a full lab is a big job, cultivating young minds is equally important to her. “When I was at the University of Illinois, I was given the chance to be in the lab and for that I will always be grateful,” said Watts. “Many of the students start with me their freshman year and they stay all four years.” This same opportunity is what has allowed chemistry major David Ferland to become an undergraduate researcher

in Watts’ lab. Driven by his desire to provide patient care, Ferland, a senior, hopes to become a physician who works directly with developmentally disabled patients. When he started, he had little lab experience outside of coursework, but was quickly surprised to see how much support he received. “I first started working for Dr. Watts part time in spring semester 2013 and it was the steepest learning curve I have ever experienced,” Ferland said. “Dr. Watts and the rest of the lab were there to help me along the way and they all proved to be great resources.” Since opening in 1995, Watts has had more than 80 undergraduate students in her lab, some of whom have continued to pursue careers in research. While she invests many hours in teaching students how to work in a lab, preparing students to become strictly researchers isn’t Watts’s main objective. “One thing I’ve always tried to do is make research approachable for students. I think more than anything, I show students that they’re capable—that they have a brain and can do things with it,” said Watts. “What students learn is that they can do research; it’s not a daunting and intimidating thing that only people with white coats and hair can do.” These capabilities move beyond lessons in the lab; along with research

skills, Watts helps prepare students to mitigate the demands of life. “Working with Dr. Watts has shown me that all is possible, and I don’t necessarily have to make huge sacrifices in my life because of my work. I have to work hard, yes, but much can be accomplished with proper time management and pure will,” said graduate student Nadia Ayala-Lopez. Watts’s influence isn’t limited to the students who work with her. Cristiane Neves Pereira-Hicks, a research technologist from Brazil, found a supportive new home in the lab. “Dr. Watts’s absolute passion for what she shares with her students and employees is truly inspiring. By asking me to simply ‘speak from my heart,’ rather than conform to a sterile academic standard, Dr. Watts has brought out the authentic best in me,” said Pereira-Hicks. While her basic goal is not to turn every student worker into a scientist, providing a supportive and challenging environment may not hinder that outcome. “As it turns out, this experience with Dr. Watts has opened me up to a world I had never before considered as a career. Now, although my passion still lies with patient care for the developmentally disabled, research is something that, if given the opportunity, I would love to assist,” Ferland said.

The team from Stephanie Watts’ lab: Back row, left to right, Janice Thompson, research assistant; Emma Darios, research assistant; Lindsey Young, research assistant; Robert Burnett, research assistant; Marisa Martini, MSU junior physiology major; David Ferland, MSU senior chemistry major; and Nadia Ayala-Lopez, pharmacology and toxicology doctoral candidate. Front row, left to right, Cris Pereira-Hicks, research technologist; Kyle Johnson, MSU student; Watts; Bridget Mahon, department aide; Kristian Frimodig, undergraduate research assistant. Not shown: Karen Toledo and Humphrey Petersen-Jones




New Faculty ANATOMY DIVISION/RADIOLOGY Carrie L. Tatar, Ph.D., serves as assistant professor at the Macomb University Center site, teaching anatomy, neuromusculoskeletal anatomy, histology and human prosection. She received her Ph.D. in anatomy and cell biology from the Wayne State University School of Medicine. Carrie Tatar

Anmar Razak


David Malouf

David Malouf, D.O., has been named assistant professor and director of medical education at MSUCOM’s international site in Mérida, México, at Hospital General Dr. Agustin O’Horan. He practices family medicine and osteopathic manipulative medicine, and mentors medical students and residents. He graduated from Midwestern University Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine and completed his family medicine residency at Botsford Hospital in Farmington Hills, Mich.


Annette Pantall


Robert Hausinger

Robert P. Hausinger, Ph.D., has been named interim chairperson for the MSU Department of Microbiology & Molecular Genetics. Hausinger, who came to MSU in 1984, holds two patents and has written two books, Biochemistry of Nickel and Mechanisms of Metallocenter Assembly. He’s currently the principal investigator on one NIH-funded grant and is co-PI on a second NIH study. His academic work focuses on microbial physiology involving metal ions, especially on studies related to metal-dependent enzymes such as urease, DNA repair proteins, and various hydroxylases.

Mathew Zatkin

Amit Masih

Erica Austin, D.O., a 2008 alumna of MSUCOM, completed her neurology residency and neurophysiology fellowship at MSU. She joins us as an assistant professor. Amit Masih, M.D., joins us as an assistant professor with expertise in headache and pain management. A graduate of St. Matthews University School of Medicine, Grand Cayman Islands, he was an intern and neurology resident at MSU/Sparrow and completed a headache fellowship at the University of Michigan.


Annette Pantall, Ph.D., D.O. (U.K.), joins us as an assistant professor. She completed her Ph.D. at the University of Surrey, U.K., followed by four years postdoctoral research at the University of Michigan and Georgia Institute of Technology. Her research interest is altered motor control in clinical populations. Mathew Zatkin, D.O., a 2010 alumnus of MSUCOM, also completed his residency in neuromusculoskeletal medicine and osteopathic manipulative medicine here. An assistant professor, he is working in the OMM clinic and providing inpatient service at McLaren Greater Lansing. His interests include neuromusculoskeletal medicine, osteopathic manipulation and integrative medicine. OSTEOPATHIC SURGICAL SPECIALTIES Ruby Chahal, D.P.M., comes from Oakwood Health Care System, where she completed her residency in podiatric surgery with reconstructive rear foot and ankle surgery. She serves as an assistant professor.


Erica Austin

Anmar Razak, M.D., assistant professor, serves as an endovascular interventional neurologist at the Sparrow Hospital Comprehensive Stroke Center. He received his M.B.B.S. from the University of the West Indies in Jamaica, and completed his internship, neurology residency, vascular neurology fellowship and endovascular surgical neuroradiology fellowship at MSU/ Sparrow Hospital. His areas of research include stroke reperfusion therapies, telestroke, neuroprotection in stroke and stem cell use in stroke recovery.

Ruby Chahal

Nathan Condie

PHYSICAL MEDICINE AND REHABILITATION Nathan Condie, D.O., joins the department as an assistant professor. He earned a B.A. in biology from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and a D.O. from Midwestern University Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine. He completed an internship at MSU/Sparrow and his residency at MSU. His professional interests include electromyography and interventional spine and musculoskeletal medicine.


Katie McCausland, D.O., focuses her practice on electromyography, musculoskeletal ultrasound and interventional spine medicine. A 2009 MSUCOM alumna, she received her B.S. in exercise and health science at Alma College. Her internship was at MSU/ Sparrow, and her residency at MSU. She joins us with the rank of assistant professor. Katie McCausland

Ryan C. O’Connor, D.O., returns to us as an assistant professor, with expertise in electromyography, injection procedures and manual medicine. He received a B.A. from American University and a D.O. from Nova Southeastern University College of Osteopathic Medicine, and completed his residency at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and a fellowship in sports, musculoskeletal and electrodiagnostic medicine at MSU. Ryan O’Connor

SPORTS MEDICINE/RADIOLOGY Feng Wei, Ph.D., is a 2011 MSU alumnus and joins us as an assistant professor. He completed his postdoctoral training in the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. His research covers orthopedic biomechanics, pathological gait, and sports injury prevention and rehabilitation. Feng Wei

Anastasia Kariagina

RESEARCH AND ADVANCED STUDIES PROGRAM Anastasia Kariagina, Ph.D., assistant professor, has worked in MSU’s Department of Physiology since 2003. For two years, she was principal investigator of a U.S. Department of Defense study on the effect of estradiol and progesterone on functions of mammary cancer stem cells. In September she joined Justin McCormick to investigate the changes in gene signaling that occur during the process of malignant transformation of human fibroblasts.


Improving health care through your research by Kristopher Thomas Nicholoff CEO and Executive Director, Michigan Osteopathic Association

The Michigan Osteopathic Association (MOA) recognizes that the advancement of scientific research plays a critical role in our mission to improve health care through promoting osteopathic medicine — so much so that research is included in the association’s mission statement and its mission of quality of care. Every year, MOA hosts two Scientific Research Exhibit (SRE) competitions at both the Spring and Autumn Scientific Conventions. These competitions provide osteopathic medical students, residents, fellows and attending-level physicians an opportunity to present their medical and scientific research to our profession. The SRE event demonstrates the very best of what osteopathic medicine is and reaffirms our commitment to the advancement of science in osteopathic medicine. The 2013 Scientific Research Exhibits at the MOA 9th Annual Autumn Scientific Convention had six awarded entries • First place: Joshua Thomas with his poster titled “TNF – Receptors 1 and 2 Contribute to the Development of Upper Genital Tract Pathology Following Primary Genital Chlamydia muridarum Infection in Mice” • Second place: Captain Kevin Martin, D.O. with his poster titled “Simulation Training Decreases Surgical Errors during Diagnostic Shoulder Arthroscopy Performed by Residents in Training” • Third place: Jaimin Patel, D.O. with his poster titled “Clinical Impact of Direct Sputum Nucleic Acid Amplification Test for Diagnosis of Tuberculosis” • Outstanding Case Report: Sonali Soral, D.O. with her poster titled “Pneumopericardium Resulting from Gastropericardial Fistula: A Rare Complication of Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass” • People’s Choice Award: Rob Zonderman with his poster titled “Preconditioning: Making Spines A Little Less Creepy” Honorable Mentions: • Ramona Wallace Kwapiszewski, D.O. with her poster titled “Using Phenotypic Expression in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Childhood Obesity” and • Lauren Kuehne with her poster titled “Childhood Obesity: United States of America vs. Peru.” On behalf of our more than 8,000 members, we congratulate each and every one of you for what you are doing for the osteopathic profession.




STAFF MATTERS: Heinlen and Kohler Serving MSUCOM’s research mission by Pat Grauer

Between them, Suzanne Kohler and Bethany Heinlen have provided more than 60 years of service to MSUCOM’s Office of Research and Graduate Studies, and to the Carcinogenesis Laboratory, an internationally recognized unit headed by two University Distinguished Professors – J. Justin McCormick, who serves as associate dean for research and graduate studies, and Veronica Maher, now retired, who was associate dean for graduate studies.

Bethany Heinlen and Suzanne Kohler help move MSUCOM research engine forward.

Suzanne Kohler Kohler started 35 years ago as a bench tech, working for ten years hands-on in the Carcinogenesis Laboratory. After she received her M.S. degree, she was promoted to run the lab, and became the resource manager for everything, including space, equipment, finances, supplies and especially people. “It was an amazing experience,” she said. “At its highest point there were 60 people working in the lab – undergraduate and graduate students, postdocs, research technicians and visiting scholars. The Carcinogenesis Laboratory impacted the lives of many, and Justin and Veronica dedicated their lives to the work, creating a unique cohesive family of all different nationalities. It was interesting every single day.” Kohler has used the skills she fine-tuned running the lab in her role as administrator for the Office of Research, which has the mission to advance and support research within the college. She assists scientists with grant transfers, proposal development, budget details, human and animal subject compliance and troubleshoots problems as they arise. She is the college representative to the SPROUT (Sponsored Program Research Opportunities & University Training) executive committee. She prepares annual reports on college research efforts for external agencies and assists with the process of bringing research faculty the recognition and awards they deserve. “Among osteopathic colleges in the nation, we are a research leader in terms of both funding and prestige,” she said. “We are a significant presence in the University’s research environment, working with the MSUCOM departments and the MSU Office of the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies.” Bethany Heinlen Heinlen, administrator of the DO-PhD Physician Scientist Training Program, began at MSU in 1988 by assisting McCormick and Maher with personnel management, budget, publications, grant proposals, research support, graduate studies and the DO-


PhD Program. The program, the first of its kind in the world, was begun in 1979. It now includes 32 elite students, who spend approximately eight years getting both degrees, with the goal of becoming physician-scientists who can excel in biomedical research and academic medicine. The goal is to accommodate 50 students. “I’m proud to have worked with the DO-PhD Program for the last 25 years,” Heinlen said. “We have strong recruitment, a rich educational program, and have added more Ph.D. disciplines.” Her work includes the web page content and recruiting events. She assists in interviewing about 70 applicants each year. She is responsible for the budget, and tracks students’ progress, monitors schedules, maintains data and troubleshoots all issues. She sets up educational events: invited dinner speakers four or five times a year, and student directed programs. She also plans some fun events such as the welcome picnic and graduation dinner. Heinlen was responsible for the new SUPER summer program for undergraduates at MSUCOM (see page 2-3) On the lookout for ideas to enhance recruitment, she noted the success of such programs nationally and implemented it here. “We recruited our DO-PhD students for talks, and the undergrads were animated and engaged. They heard fantastic presentations on clinical medicine and research. The best thing about working with the program is our students. They’re fun, enjoyable, smart. I learn a lot from them,” she said. Kohler and Heinlen are also “jills-of-all-trades” in the unit, pitching in to do whatever is necessary. Both accomplished graduates of the “Veronica Maher School of Fine Writing,” they and McCormick meet with students to help edit proposals, dissertations, and publications, projecting the writing on a screen and assisting the students to enhance their work before it goes to major professors for review. “We have a good time. We like each other. We’re like a welloiled machine,” they said.


Office of Continuing Medical Education CME Programs CRANIOSACRAL TECHNIQUES: PART I January 24-28, 2014 Tucson, Ariz. • 35 Category 1-A credits • Chairperson: Barbara Briner, D.O. PEDIATRIC UPDATE February 22, 2014 MSUCOM, Fee Hall East Lansing, Mich. • 8.5 Category 1-A credits • Chairperson: Christopher Pohlod, D.O. CARDIOLOGY UPDATE March 19, 2014 University Club East Lansing, Mich. • 8 Category 1-A credits • Chairperson: David Strobl, D.O. MUSCLE ENERGY: PART I April 11-15, 2014 MSUCOM, Fee Hall East Lansing, Mich. • 34 Category 1-A credits • Chairperson: Carl Steele, D.O. SPORTS MEDICINE UPDATE June 6, 2014 Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center East Lansing, Mich. • 7 Category 1-A credits • Chairperson: Lawrence Nassar, D.O. INTEGRATED NEUROMUSCULAR AND MYOFASCIAL RELEASE September 5-7, 2014 MSUCOM, Fee Hall East Lansing, Mich. • 20 Category 1-A credits • Chairperson: Lisa DeStefano, D.O. FALL CME KALEIDOSCOPE September 19, 2014 Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center East Lansing, Mich. • 8 Category 1-A credits • Chairperson: Mary Louder, D.O. CME ONLINE Up to 56 Category 1-B credits

WWW.COM.MSU.EDU/CME Phone: 517-353-9714 Toll Free: 800-437-0001

Rick Hallgren began developing online CME content in 1997.

Getting Credit: From the couch by Pat Grauer

Closing a practice for a day or two (or five) to travel to obtain continuing medical education credits is becoming increasingly costly for physicians. That’s why MSUCOM’s Office of CME is expanding its AOA-accredited, online educational opportunities – allowing doctors to learn anytime, anywhere, in comfort. Rick Hallgren, professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, has a formidable level of experience in creating computer-assisted instruction materials, and began developing CME content in 1997. His educational content uses interactive simulations, animations, video, audio, and color graphics – all of which are intended to help users master the knowledge and skills necessary to both diagnose and treat musculoskeletal problems. Clinical content comes from MSUCOM’s Associate Dean Emeritus, the late Philip E. Greenman, an internationally recognized practitioner and teacher of osteopathic manipulative medicine. His work has been preserved by Hallgren on digital media. Didactic content includes barrier concepts, axis reference system, basic concepts of osteopathic medicine, autonomic nervous system, clinical significance of the pelvis, and one course each of cervical, lumbar, thoracic, rib cage, and pelvic anatomy and biomechanics. Users have free access to all content, and pay only $11 per AOA Category I-B credit hour when they take a graded examination; MSU also accredits this content for AMA PRA Category 1 credits. Self-evaluation quizzes are embedded throughout the content. Successful completion of all 10 courses would enable a physician to obtain 56 CME credits. In addition, a collection of DVDs featuring Dr. Greenman is available, including full sets of muscle energy and high velocity thrust techniques, and myofascial release and functional techniques. Users praise the programs: “I was down to the wire.” “Excellent models and graphics, well-written.” “I would have to travel more than 300 miles otherwise to get this education.” Hallgren said, “The college feels that it is important for D.O.s to maintain a high level of competence in osteopathic principles and practice. Our online CME content offers physicians an excellent opportunity to maintain their knowledge and skills and to stay connected to the osteopathic profession.” When is the class being held? Anytime you want. Where is the class being held? Anywhere you want. What should you wear for the class? Anything you want. To use CME Online, see WINTER 2014 COMMUNIQUÉ




The power of gentle hearts

The gifts of Walter F. and Leone Patenge land, which was sold and the money invested. “It’s difficult to express the enormous good that Walter Patenge and his family have done for the college and for the osteopathic profession,” said Dean William D. Strampel. “Their advocacy and generosity have blossomed into a mature, cutting-edge, internationally recognized college of osteopathic medicine. In addition, their Walter F. Patenge: advocate and philanthropist legacy continues to change for osteopathic medicine. lives – possibly millions of lives – as the return on their investment supports important by Pat Grauer research.” In the past few years, three major Rightly called an “industrialist, MSUCOM initiatives have been made humanitarian, community leader and possible through the Patenge funding – courtly gentleman,” Walter F. Patenge’s legacy within the College of Osteopathic support for the Walter F. Patenge Chair in Osteopathic Medicine, occupied Medicine is rooted before its founding by Jacek Cholewicki; support for the and will extend far into its future. internationally recognized research President of the Wohlert Corporation and clinical care on cerebral malaria in Lansing for more than 33 years, in children done by Terrie Taylor; and Patenge had been highly impressed with support for a new endowed chair, the a therapy – osteopathic manipulative Walter F. Patenge Chair of Radiology, medicine – that was getting his occupied by Suresh Mukherji. employees with back pain back to Jacek Cholewicki: Osteopathic work in record time. This experience manipulative medicine improves the made him a staunch supporter of the quality of life for patients, but the osteopathic profession, and he worked mechanisms by which it works in the hard to improve it in Michigan. He body are largely unknown, primarily helped establish the private Michigan College of Osteopathic Medicine in 1969 because identifying these mechanisms is an exceedingly complex task. Under in Pontiac, and lobbied to bring it to a $4.5 million grant from the National MSU in 1971. A member of the board Institutes of Health, Cholewicki is of the Michigan Osteopathic College leading a team who is incorporating Foundation, he was appointed by Gov. systems science, a branch of engineering William G. Milliken as the first chair that is useful to study complex systems. of the Michigan Osteopathic Medicine The projects under the grant include Advisory Board. OMM and postural control; OMM’s There’s no doubt that industrialist effect on sudden events causing lowPatenge put his skin in the game, but he back pain; and the effects of OMM on and his wife Leone also donated to the neuromuscular control of the head and university their resources, most notably neck. a valuable plot of Meridian Township 14 COMMUNIQUÉ WINTER 2014

Terrie Taylor: Taylor’s life commitment is defeating cerebral malaria in children, the most deadly manifestation of the disease. Her work has won international recognition; for example, in 2010 she received $9.1 million in funding from NIH as one of ten International Centers of Excellence for Malaria Research on the planet. She is “so close” to an understanding of the mechanisms that lead to death in 15 to 20 percent of cases. Research suggests that among children with cerebral malaria, one-half develop brain swelling, and one-third of these die; those without the swelling recover. Her research goals include finding out what causes the swelling, developing inexpensive and noninvasive ways to test for it and finally, testing those interventions. Patenge funding supports these efforts, most notably the installation of the only MRI (imaging) machine in the country of Malawi. Suresh Mukherji: Newly appointed as chairperson of MSU’s Department of Radiology, Mukherji also is the occupant of the new Walter F. Patenge Chair of Radiology. His life’s work has been in the area of imaging and treating head and neck cancers. In MSU’s Molecular and Cellular Imaging Laboratory, he can image the molecular basis of many diseases, including possibly stem cell cancers to uncover their role. In MSU’s Cognitive Imaging Research Center, MSU has its highest-end equipment for human imaging, and it is available to university researchers across disciplines. Mukjerji believes that after a decade of imaging the brain, scientists can move into imaging of the mind – they can “see” how people think. “As Cholewicki, Taylor and Mukherji continue their work, more and more people around the world will benefit from the knowledge they generate,” said Strampel. “The Patenges, a gentle mid-Michigan couple with a passion for good, have made quite a contribution.”



N E T W O R K Upcoming Events Jan. 23-26

MAOFP Mid-Winter Family Medicine Update Shanty Creek Resorts Bellaire, Mich. Reception Jan. 25, with MSU vs. UM basketball

Feb. 1

MOCF Ball The Henry – Autograph Collection Dearborn, Mich.

Mar. 1-8

Healthy Lifestyle and Preventive Care: Future Directions Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Sept. 19-20

Silverfest: CME, golf, reception, tailgate, football East Lansing, Mich.

A happy cadre of MSUCOM alumni pose during the reception at ACOI.

Alumni, Tigers present at ACOI reception More than 75 alumni and friends attended MSUCOM’s reception held Oct. 10 at the American College of Osteopathic Internists convention in Indian Wells, Calif. They enjoyed gnoshing, sharing news with colleagues and watching the Detroit Tigers trounce the Oakland Athletics.

WHERE ARE YOU? Please keep us informed of recent moves or changes in your practice. It is important for college reports, grant writing, etc., that we have up-to-date information on our alumni. Changes to your information can be made on the MSUCOM website under the alumni section or by calling (877) 853-3448. MSUCOM Alumni Office 965 Fee Road, Room A310 East Lansing, MI 48824 (517) 432-4979 or toll free (877) 853-3448 email:

MSUCOM alumni Mike Kolinski, ’02; Lisa DeStefano, ’93; Randy DeArment, ’75; Katie Donahue, ’12; Ron Varcak, ’75; and Glaucio Bechara, ’80 at AOA.

Enjoying the fellowship and food were Lynn Gibson-Brook, ‘84 ; Daniel Wallerstein, ’84; Robert Piccinini, ’92; and Gregory Pecchia, ’83.

MSUCOM reception at AOA attracts a crowd! More than 225 alumni attended MSUCOM’s reception, Oct. 2, at Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, in conjunction with the American Osteopathic Association’s OMED convention. They heard a short update from Dean William D. Strampel and the presentations of the college’s alumni awards (See next page.). WINTER 2014 COMMUNIQUÉ



2013 ALUMNI AWARDS by Pat Grauer

Patricia M. LoRusso, an internationally recognized cancer researcher and Craig Magnatta, a physician who has given exceptional service to the osteopathic profession and his community, were both recognized with MSUCOM’s highest alumni awards. They received them at the American Osteopathic Association reception on Oct. 2 in Las Vegas.

Alumni of the Year Award Patricia M. LoRusso, Class of 1981 LoRusso, a 1981 alumna and the recipient of the MSUCOM Alumni of the Year Award, has become an exemplar and respected advocate of translational therapeutics for cancer. She is professor of medicine at the Wayne State University School of Medicine Department of Oncology and director of the Eisenberg Center for Translational Therapeutics at the Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit. She directs one of only 14 National Cancer Institute UO1-funded phase 1 sites in North America, and is the co-leader of the Melanoma Dream Team, funded by the Stand Up to Cancer/Melanoma Research Alliance.

Dean’s Award for Meritorious Contribution Craig Magnatta, Class of 1978 Magnatta, a physician at the Oakland Medical Group in Rochester Hills and McLaren Oakland in Oxford, Mich., received the Dean’s Award for Meritorious Contribution. A

Dean WIlliam D. Strampel congratulates award winners Craig Magnatta and Patricia LoRusso.

1978 alumnus and a clinical faculty member since 1984, he has served numerous leadership roles in his profession and community, including president of the Michigan Association of Osteopathic Family Physicians, president of the Michigan Osteopathic Association, board member of DOCARE and the Michigan Osteopathic College Foundation and serving as team physician for eight secondary school sports. He is first vice president of the AOA board of trustees.

IN THE SPECTRUM OF OSTEOPATHIC RESEARCH, GREEN IS DOMINANT You need to search and then research. That is how you find something. In medicine a lot can be apparent and obvious – the open fracture, a specific skin lesion, a measured vital sign or laboratory value. But sometimes as physicians we need to research something that we are not quite sure about. This may be rethinking a patient’s history, a review of systems, or a physical exam to see if there is another clue to a not-soobvious diagnosis. Sometimes research is traditional: in the lab, behind the Bunsen burner, calculating and observing a double-blind study. And sometimes research is asking questions of what may seem so obvious, such as a specific treatment result in osteopathic manipulation. In all of these various aspects of research, MSUCOM is doing a tremendous job. We lead the osteopathic world in research dollars, we have excellent faculty who run world-class research projects and we have validated the maintenance of the quality of our education with the expansion to three campuses for our medical students. Recently, at the national OMED meeting there were lectures about osteopathic manipulation and primary care. Both are areas where MSUCOM excels. What was apparent, however, is the push and encouragement for all practicing primary care physicians to consider participating in research. I thought 16 COMMUNIQUÉ WINTER 2014 FALL 2013

personally this is a brilliant idea. It seems our generation of physicians are quantifying data for osteopathic outcomes that we have taken for granted and developing networks such as the and other community driven research projects to publish the outcomes of osteopathic treatment in the primary care setting. My observation of physicians at OMED who were interested in research was that they are eager to answer questions and further validate patient outcomes, and that considering the idea of working together in a network of likeminded osteopaths was exciting and invigorating. There was a strong sense of research camaraderie. It was great to be a part of that atmosphere. Throughout my career, I have thought of various research projects to try to complete, but simply do not have time to develop them because of a busy primary care practice. But by working together with osteopathic colleagues, the infrastructure is already in place, and you can join in with an ongoing project. Whatever your level of interest in research, be proud that MSUCOM is leading the way and that by having access to networks of osteopaths researching together around the nation, we will continue to express our unique identity to the medical world. It is always great to be a Spartan. That research result is obvious. Go Green. Mary (Mark) Louder, Class of 1993 President, MSUCOM Alumni Association Board of Directors




23-26 Michigan Association of Osteopathic Family Physicians Mid-Winter Family Medicine Update – Shanty Creek Resort, Bellaire. 20+ Category I credits. 734-239-8017 or 24-28 CME: Craniosacral Techniques: Part I – Tucson, Ariz. 35 Category 1-A credits. Chairperson Barbara Briner, D.O., 517-353-9714 or


1 MOCF Ball, 6 p.m. – The Henry – Autograph Collection, Dearborn. Contact 517-355-9616, 6, 13, 27, 2014 “Slavery to Freedom: An American Odyssey,” a lecture series featuring iconic speakers of the Civil Rights Movement. 5 p.m., Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center, East Lansing. 517-432-4979, 22, 2014 CME: Pediatric Update – MSUCOM, Fee Hall, East Lansing. 8.5 Category 1-A credits. Chairperson Christopher Pohlod, D.O., 517-353-9714 or


1-8 CME: Healthy Lifestyle and Preventive Care: Future Directions – Playa del Carmen, Mexico. 20 Category IA credits., 517-432-4979, 13-15 American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians convention – Philadelphia Marriott Downtown, Philadelphia, Penn. 19 CME: Cardiology Update – University Club, East Lansing. 8 Category 1-A credits. Chairperson David Strobl, D.O., 517-353-9714 or


11-15 CME: Muscle Energy: Part I – MSUCOM, Fee Hall, East Lansing. 34 Category 1-A credits. Chairperson Carl Steele, D.O., 517-353-9714 or 6 CME: Sports Medicine Update – Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center, East Lansing. 7 Category 1-A credits. Chairperson Lawrence Nassar, D.O., 517-353-9714 or 13 Entering class convocation for the Class of 2018, Breslin Center, MSU.


5-7 CME: Integrated Neuromuscular and Myofascial Release – MSUCOM, Fee Hall, East Lansing. 20 Category 1-A credits. Chairperson: Lisa DeStefano, D.O., 517-353-9714 or 19-20 MSUCOM Silverfest alumni weekend including Osteopathic Open, CME: Fall Kaleidoscope, reception, tailgate and MSU vs. Wyoming football – East Lansing WINTER 2014 COMMUNIQUÉ



COLLEGE OF OSTEOPATHIC MEDICINE Office of Public Relations East Fee Hall 965 Fee Road, Room A306 East Lansing, MI 48824 ADDRESS SERVICE REQUESTED  Change my name and/or address as indicated.  I received a duplicate copy.  Remove my name from your mailing list.  Stop my paper subscription and send an electronic version to email:______________________. Please check the appropriate box and return this page to the address above or email

A new approach to Alzheimer’s disease

SUPER undergrad researchers



Training women in science



Healthy Lifestyle and Preventive Care: Future Directions March 1-8, 2014

Playa Del Carmen, Mexico featuring a 20-hour AOA Category 1-A CME Course

Contact MSUCOM: 517-432-4979 Toll free 877-853-3448 Contact Classic Travel: 517-349-6200 800-643-3449 Toll free

College of Osteopathic Medicine


Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine Communique Winter 2014

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