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January 28, 2011


Vol. 29, No. 22

Researchers beat national average in landing grants By dawn Brazell Public Relations

InsIde New DeaN



ometimes great things do come in small packages. Just take MUSC’s College of Graduate Studies with its 284 students. Though it’s small in numbers, its Ph.D. students hold the bragging rights to an 80 percent success rate in receiving the prestigious National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Research Service Awards (NRSA), compared to the national average of 30 percent. Currently, 22 students hold the awards. Perry V. Halushka, M.D., Ph.D., dean of the College of Graduate Studies, said the college has held this rate for several years. The Ruth Kirschstein National Research Service Award is the most competitive fellowship that a graduate student or a M.D./Ph.D. student can receive. “When I tell my colleagues about the success of our program, it just blows them away. We have a terrific graduate program now. There’s a gem here that many people don’t know about.” The three components of the training grants are based on the quality of the students, mentors and the research. Halushka credits the high success rate to the quality of the training plan between the mentor and student that turns trainees into the independent scientists that they need to become. “To me the whole Ph.D. experience is learning how to ask and answer important scientific questions. You learn techniques, you learn technology, but it’s all to answer questions. It’s all about learning to problem-solve. That’s how people become successful as scientists.” Science is fast-paced, which is even more the case as technology advances, he said. “What you learn today as a Ph.D. student technique-wise, five or six years from now, you may never use again. That’s what you expect. It’s the training that’s important. I want our trainees to learn how to take risks and think outside of the box.”

The right stuff That depends on getting the right people, of course. The goal of Cynthia F. Wright, Ph.D., associate dean for admissions and career development, is to recruit and retain high-caliber students, the kind of students Dr. Joann Sullivan keeps winning research grant applications on hand.

See researchers on page 8

The MUSC College of Pharmacy has a new leader at the helm.

ImagINg excelleNce


MUSC welcomes teams of imaging experts to enhance Radiology’s clinical and research initiative.




Meet Kathy



T h e c aTa ly s T ONlINe http://www. catalyst

2 The caTalysT, January 28, 2011

Medical Center

‘Making a difference every day’ December Employees of the Month



Lane Elsey, Safety & Security/Volunteer & Guest Services “A patient’s mother needed her hair trimmed (the patient had been at MUSC several weeks). Lane went above and beyond to have one of her friends come to the hospital to cut and style this mother’s hair. The mother was very appreciative.” Nominated by Kelly Cavins

Patricia Roberts, Medical Director’s Office “Patricia went above and beyond her call of duty as a social worker to ensure that a discharged patient would receive his medications. The medications were left in the patient’s room upon discharge when he was being transported home. The patient’s family did not have any means of transportation to come to the hospital to pick up the medications. Patricia drove to the patient’s home in Harleyville to deliver his medications. Needless to say, this was on Thanksgiving eve at the end of the workday. Patricia is a wonderful person and a dedicated colleague. She is a role model for the social work profession and an asset to MUSC.” Nominated by Sherrell Thomas-Nelson and Neomi Brown

Editorial of fice MUSC Office of Public Relations 135 Cannon Street, Suite 403C, Charleston, SC 29425. 843-792-4107 Fax: 843-792-6723 Editor: Kim Draughn Catalyst staff: Cindy Abole, Dawn Brazell,

The Catalyst is published once a week. Paid adver tisements, which do not represent an endorsement by MUSC or the State of South Carolina, are handled by Island Publications Inc., Moultrie News, 134 Columbus St., Charleston, S.C., 843-849-1778 or 843-958-7490. E-mail:

Focus on African-American Health Care Issues

Sessions are open to all students, house staff, faculty, research and nursing staff Feb. 1: Disparate Care-Root Cause staff, Office of the President, MUSC; Analysis and Solutions. Dr. Clyde Dr. Leonard Egede, The Allen Johnson W. Yancy, chief of cardiology, NorthEndowed Chair of Internal Medicine western University-Feinberg School of and Geriatrics, director, Center for Medicine, Chicago, Ill. Health Disparities Research, MUSC. Feb. 8: Southwestern Virtual Institute for Health Equity and Wellness: An Integrative Approach to Eliminating Health Disparities. Dr. Sabra Slaughter, associate professor, chief of

All lectures will be held at 8 a.m. in the Institute of Psychiatry. For the complete list, visit the Department of Medicine’s website at medicine.

The caTalysT, January 28, 2011 3

New MUSC College of Pharmacy dean named “Dr. Karig was a great mentor for me,” said Hall, who served as associate dean from 2004 until his appointment as interim campus dean. “He and other senior faculty and administrators built a proud legacy of MUSC pharmacy, which I will strive to uphold. Under Dr. DiPiro’s leadership, SCCP has emerged as an even more formidable institution in pharmacy education. I am excited to have the opportunity to contribute to its continued growth and success.” Hall received his bachelor’s in pharmacy from the University of Georgia in 1986 then completed his Doctor of Pharmacy from the Medical College of Virginia/Virginia Commonwealth University in 1988. With a special interest in oncology pharmacy, Hall completed an oncology pharmacy residency at the Audie L. Murphy Veterans Administration Hospital in San Antonio and cancer immunotherapy research fellowship at the University of Texas Health Science in San Antonio & University of Texas College of Pharmacy from 1988 – 1991. Hall was recruited to the faculty of the MUSC College of Pharmacy in 1991 as an assistant professor. Serving in a number of leadership roles as a member of the faculty, both in the college and at the university level, he was promoted to associate professor in 1998 and was promoted to full professor in 2009. He served

as associate dean for the MUSC campus from 2004 to 2010, taking a role in developing the joint curriculum of the integrated college, program assessment, and admitting and advising students. He practiced pharmacy at the Hollings Cancer Center and MUSC until 2010, when he was asked to serve as interim campus dean at MUSC. He is board certified in both pharmacotherapy and oncology pharmacy. His research, both clinical and laboratory-based, has focused on harnessing the immune system against cancer. He has received funding from the National Cancer Institute, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the American College of Clinical Pharmacy, and the pharmaceutical industry. Currently, his research focuses on factors that predict a student’s success in pharmacy school. Hall has won a number of teaching awards in the classroom and by the bedside. He has been named professor, teacher and preceptor of the year 10 times, including most recently as fourth-year class Professor of the Year and the Overall Teacher of the Year, both in 2009. Hall lives in Mount Pleasant with his wife Rayna Kneuper-Hall, M.D., chief of hematology/oncology at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center and assistant professor of hematology/oncology at MUSC, and daughter Lauren and son Brandon.


Philip D. Hall, PharmD, was named campus dean of the MUSC campus of the South Carolina College of Pharmacy (SCCP). A full professor of clinical pharmacy and outcomes sciences, Hall has been serving as the interim MUSC campus dean since February 2010. “Dr. Hall is highly qualified to serve as campus dean and has demonstrated those skills and abilities thoroughly during his tenure as interim campus dean,” Hall said Joseph T. DiPiro, PharmD, executive dean of SCCP. “He has been an outstanding leader both as an administrator in the college and as our representative on the university level at MUSC. I’m sure he will continue to be a tremendous asset in this new capacity.” SCCP has a campus dean at each home campus of its founding institutions: the University of South Carolina (USC) in Columbia and MUSC. Both campus deans report to the executive dean. Arnold W. Karig, Ph.D., the former MUSC campus dean, retired at the beginning of 2010 after a 40-year career in MUSC pharmacy education. Randall C. Rowen, PharmD, serves as the USC campus dean.

4 The caTalysT, January 28, 2011

After one semester, med student finds new ‘normal’

a great opportunity to piece together the knowledge derived from hours in the library and attempt to apply them to something that I was observing. There is no greater moment for a medical school student than he start of the semester, I found myself stirring at glorious opportunities to spout off the awe4:30 a.m. clumsily stumbling around the some intricacies of the body that we have dimly-lit world until the brisk weather of that been forced to learn in excruciating detail, January morning abruptly brought me to my let alone to a receptive audience. This isn’t senses. Release of epinephrine acting on the alpha always the case. It’s an adjustment to realize receptor, causation of increased alertness. that what you find amazing not only doesn’t I made my way to ART’s (Ashley River translate to amusement for others, but also Tower) fourth floor, main OR lobby. I had at times can lead even to the opposite. For come to shadow an anesthesiologist in an instance, my best friend from undergraduate attempt to rejuvenate the excitement that is school and I used to find amusement in all dampened by stacks of note cards and dauntthe same things. Verbal filtering has become ingly thick syllabi. By the time I had made it Chelsey Baldwin quite necessary for “appropriate” conversainto the building my toes were numb, my absotion between us. No matter how fascinating lute least favorite part of winter. Arteriovenuous anastomosis, mechanism for shunting blood to the vital organs my explanation of lactose intolerance symptoms may be and despite the seemingly thrilling tales I have to tell to maintain core temperature. about the trials and tribulations within the dissection One of my professors, Dr. Jake Abernathy, placed me lab, I have had to accept that this will never be welin a bay with an elderly woman receiving an epidural from Dr. Tara Queener, an anesthesiology and perioper- comed dinner conversation between us. Apparently I am not the only one who has an evident ative medicine resident. It was explained out loud that Dr. Queener would recognize the “right spot” had been disconnect with the normal and appropriate. My lab partner, the very lovely and dedicated Aisha Jackson, hit when the plunger of the needle easily descended explained to me just the other day how every now and into the patient’s body. I wracked my brain with what then our altered concept of the norm is all too apparthis could mean while watching the hunched-over ent. “Is it odd that I eat cereal while reading Rohen?” patient, who was seemingly wondering the same thing. she said, referring to a dissection guide that uses images Epidural space, site at which spinal nerves can be accessed to of actual cadavers. “Sometimes I think something isn’t block sensation and pain to a given dermatome. quite right here.” We shrug and acknowledge the posBeing there, with Dr. Queener and her patient, was

Editor’s Note: Chelsey Baldwin of Little River is a firstyear medical student. This column follows the journey of her class in becoming doctors.


Medical musings

sible oddness of the situation. But as it were, my decision to do shadowing was good timing and fun to make use of the various morsels of information that streamlined through my thoughts as Dr. Queener worked to place a catheter in the epidural space. In fact, it was a good change of pace from the bewildering feelings of “I don’t know anything” that typically accompanies my interactions with real patients, and I found it exciting to have a chance to pick the brains of those who do. Hence, when left alone with Dr. Queener, I couldn’t help but spout off a stream of various questions about the procedure taking place before me. What will they do with that node? What does that number mean over there? Why do you need that other tube? The list could go on and, luckily for me, Dr. Queener was more than a good sport and answered my plethora of questions. She even filled me in on her life as a resident. I asked the typical questions: how long her residency program would take to complete, how many hours she works each week and what she enjoys about the job? After hearing horror stories about residency, I was rather pleased to hear her say, “I have time to read.” I thought about it for a minute and remembered the book I had started over Christmas break that now just sits on my bed stand, not touched since my return to school. “Did you have time to read in medical school too?” I asked her. “ … Oh, no” Dr. Queener replied. A wave of relief came over me. “Okay… just making sure.”

Prepare to be challenged

MUSC Harper Student Wellness Center’s James Johnson, left, pushes participants to test their stamina in the High Intensity Training System (HITS) program. The class, which meets every Wednesday and Friday for six weeks at the wellness center, is limited to 20 participants. For information, call Johnson at 792-7141.

Free wine and cheese reception

The caTalysT, January 28, 2011 5

Meet Kathy

Many of my listings have closed or gone under contract. If you are thinking about selling, call me for a no obligation consultation. If you tried to sell your home last year and it did not sell, let's talk about what my experience and extensive marketing plan can do for you! I also closed several short sales in 2010, call me if you have questions regarding the short sales process.

Kathleen Kleskie Department Medicine, Division of Cardiology How long at MUSC 2 years 843-270-0292 IP03-463145


What music is in your CD player Contemporary Christian and light rock A unique talent you have Creative writing What is your idea of a dream job A published author Role model

My parents. I owe all that I am to them.

What do you do on a rainy day Lay on the couch and watch movies

Favorite person in the world My mom. There is nothing that compares to the love between a mother and daughter.


People you would love to have known in your adult life My maternal grandmother and greatgrandfather


Favorite place in the world Sitting in front of the fire place with my husband

6 The caTalysT, January 28, 2011

Biomedical imaging gets competitive edge

By cIndy aBole Public Relations

FOr mOre INFO: Visit http://clinicaldepartments.


iomedical imaging will rise to the next level as MUSC applies new technologies that focus on the needs of the research community while tapping the talents of a team of scientists. MUSC leadership and statewide collaborators believe this new imaging-based biomedical research initiative has the potential to someday rank among the best in the nation. In fall 2010, the MUSC board of trustees approved a university center designation for the new Center for Biomedical Imaging (CBI). The CBI will be headed by Joseph A. Helpern, Ph.D., one of the South Carolina Centers of Economic Excellence Endowed chairs in brain imaging recruited to MUSC in late 2010. A world-renowned imaging scientist and recipient of numerous awards, patents, and National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant awards, Helpern moved from New York University School of Medicine where he led similar efforts as founding director of the Center for Biomedical Imaging. Joining Helpern in guiding MUSC imaging research efforts is Truman R. Brown, Ph.D., professor of radiology and director for the Center for Advanced Imaging Research (CAIR). Brown, who was recruited from Columbia University will serve as scientific director under the newly formed CBI. Brown has several patents in magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging, which have helped advance the field especially in the study of cancer. Helpern, who also is vice chairman for research in radiology, has built a career on enhancing imaging research and developing new applications and technologies in this growing area of medicine. He was a pioneer in the field of Magnetic Resonance Imaging since its beginnings in the late 1970s and helped build the first version of what is now considered a clinical 3 Tesla MRI system. Helpern and Brown have previous experience establishing several imaging research centers around the country. Helpern was

Among MUSC’s new imaging faculty recruited in 2010 include Dr. Fatima Falagola, Dr. Ali Tabesh, Dr. Saeid Tajeri, Dr. Etta Pisano, Elodia Cole, Dr. Joseph Helpern, Dr. Truman Brown and Dr. Jane Joseph. Not pictured are Drs. D.J. Connor and Colleen Hanlon. originally contacted by MUSC leadership dean of the College of Medicine and vice in 2006, but the timing was not right. president of medical affairs. Pisano is an Helpern said, “MUSC already had internationally recognized breast imaging an incredible amount of quality imagradiologist and translational researcher. ing equipment within the Department “The clinical and research applications of Radiology— a 3 Tesla MRI, PET, CT for biomedical imaging have seen unprecand other specialty MRI machines—but edented growth during the past three lacked an expedecades.” rienced commuHelpern is meetnity of imaging ing with basic scispecialists to entists and imaging support this efscience colleagues fort. Since then, on campus and we’ve focused on researchers across what was needed South Carolina. to take imaging He’ll promote CBI’s at MUSC to the biomedical imagnext level.” ing capabilities and To help escommunicate the tablish a critical CBI’s mission to mass of experts serve as a centralon campus, both ized facility and Helpern and resource providing Dr. Etta Pisano Brown have been opportunities for busy recruiting basic and clinical imaging scientists while enriching the scientists to collaborate and discover Department of Radiology’s NIH research new ways to study diseases and disease grant portfolio. Already, the program processes and to translate these advances has recruited eight imaging research facto the patient community. ulty who have brought along more than Phillip Costello, M.D., chairman of $3 million in research funding. the Department of Radiology and RadioAs director of the CBI, Helpern will logical Science, said “Dr. Helpern will report directly to Etta Pisano, M.D., be a great colleague and mentor to our

“The clinical and research applications for biomedical imaging have seen unprecedented growth during the past three decades.”

research scientists who have an interest in medical imaging.” Helpern will be establishing a CBI strategic planning committee consisting of leaders in the field of imaging at MUSC and will be working to set in place the necessary foundation for a projected opening on July 1. He also plans to identify and share other statewide imaging resources. Both Helpern and Brown have defined CBI’s biomedical imaging technology to include magnetic resonance imaging, PET, CT and optical imaging. These technologies can be used to image cells in the study of breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal disorders, Alzheimer’s disease, drug addiction, ADHD, autism and many other important diseases. Several of the new imaging faculty will have a presence in the new bioengineering building slated to open later in 2011. Helpern said there’s a support network for imaging research that is important. “No one can develop ideas and write grants on their own. This group’s presence on campus, plus the interactions with other campuswide faculty, will help cross fertilize our ideas and help them grow into funded research projects. Imaging research can be applied to many areas of medicine including neuroscience, psychiatry, rehabilitative medicine and bioengineering,” he said. Asked what best promotes MUSC’s growth in medical imaging Helpern said it’s a matter of changing expectations. “I think our biggest barrier or challenge is ourselves,” Helpern said. “We need to shoot for the stars in this effort and let others look at MUSC’s biomedical imaging expertise and statewide commitment with envy. We have creative, bright and hard working people who can get things done. All of the ingredients for success are here. We just need to believe and challenge ourselves to move forward to achieve success. “

The Catalyst, January 28, 2011 7


8 The caTalysT, January 28, 2011

researchers Continued from Page One

who can land training grants. “These training grants are important because they demonstrate that our programs have been evaluated by funding agencies, largely NIH, and found to be worthy of receiving funding support,” said Wright. “This means that our training program, faculty, and student quality are competitive with the best programs in the nation. “We are small enough to have close interaction between trainees and faculty and yet large enough to provide world-class facilities to our students and researchers,” she said. “There is a feeling of growth and excitement here that we are always getting better, and we are attracting great faculty and students.” They also pay attention to the nuts and bolts involved, such as the summer grant training class taught by Ed L. Krug, Ph.D., assistant dean for postdoctoral affairs. The course prepares students to write grant applications. Joann F. Sullivan, Ph.D., director of the office for research development, praises how the course helps students stay ahead of the competition. “The bar with NRSA is always being raised. We always have to be one step ahead of the curve.” Her office’s relationship with the college has been a factor in the success of getting repeating renewals on training grants, she said. They keep past successful applications and reviewers’ critiques and comments to serve as a training guide. They also provide an institutional boiler plate of applications, maintain several databases needed for individual and institutional grants, track competing grants and provide general assistance. She tries to make sure the institutional infrastructure is in place to support the students because they all know what the expectation is, she said. Students are expected to land these training grants. “I think it’s Dean Halushka’s can-do attitude,” she said of a critical factor behind the college’s success rate. “He’s so supportive of these applications. He’s a problem solver. He’s responsive to what we need.”

Mentor magic Graduate student Linnea Freeman said the grants focus on the training experience a student gets, and she has been impressed by the feedback she’s gotten from her mentors and collaborators. “We have great preparation from our grant writing course in the summer. We also have great examples from people at the university who write grants all the time. NIH is looking for grants that have clinical relevance. Because we’re at the medical university, we’re doing basic science research at the bench that has a lot of clinical relevance, and we can bridge that to what’s being done at the hospital. I think we can have the relevance that NIH is looking for to get those grants.” Speaking from her experiences of working with the Department of Neurosciences, Freeman said she’s had access and exposure to the latest techniques and hightech equipment. One of her colleagues, for example, is

Linnea Freeman works in her lab. For a list of award recipients, visit catalyst/archive/2011/co1-28winners.html. using laser light that can control how the brain works by turning on or off specific proteins or actions within the brain. “Everyone here is hands-on with the best equipment. That kind of technology isn’t being used at many other research universities.” She also likes how small the graduate classes are, which allows her to have more one-on-one time with mentors and other professors. “I feel like there is always more than one person available to talk to—there’s a lot of collaboration here. For example, if there’s a technique that your lab doesn’t have experience with, there’s always someone you can go to who is happy to help you. That brings that technique into the lab, so that lab only gets stronger.” Krug said he’s found the most important characteristic of a good training environment is the belief of the faculty and administration that its students and post-doctoral scholars are capable of great achievement, and then providing the support to make it happen. It’s a team effort that gets the job done, he said, listing some of the influential staff. q Sullivan gives an overview of the National Institutes of Health extramural funding programs, replete with valuable tips on the fellowship application itself. q Tom Smith, Ph.D., associate director of the Center for Academic Excellence, discusses the importance of rhetoric conducive to effective communication with reviewers. q Sharon Yeatts, Ph.D., assistant professor of biostatistics, helps students focus on the critical elements of experimental design. q Robbie Lee and Amy Boehm of the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, conduct a stepby-step hands-on workshop for submitting the final fellowship application to NIH via the Cayuse portal.

“But perhaps one of the most influential components of the course is the involvement of many postdoctoral scholars who serve as facilitators of small study section group discussions where the students critique each other’s proposal drafts. My role is to simply bring all these players together and stay out of the way.” Krug said one of the joys of his job is to watch how the mentoring and collaborative process shapes the professional development of students. Professional development without mentoring is a hit-or-miss process. Students and postdoctoral scholars benefit tremendously from faculty sharing lessons learned and listening to their individual aspirations and goals. They provide constructive feedback on students’ strengths and weaknesses that might impact achieving those goals. The preparation of a fellowship application is the perfect platform to facilitate such mentoring interactions, he said. Describing the transition from undergraduate to graduate student as a “titanic moment,” Krug said students move beyond textbook learning to a process that creates new knowledge. Postdoctoral trainees also face significant issues, especially when entering an increasingly competitive job market. “One needs a good number of life boats on board to persevere through the challenges that are inherent in the process of arriving at a successful dissertation defense.”

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The caTalysT, January 28, 2011 9



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10 The caTalysT, January 28, 2011

Nominations being accepted for awards Developing Teacher. The deadline for nominations is 5 p.m., Friday, Feb. 11. Nominees will be invited to submit supporting materials, and a committee of faculty and students representing MUSC’s six colleges, Library Sciences and Informatics, and the Student Government Association will review the nominations and select the recipients for this year’s awards. Visit nomination/ or call 792-2228.

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The caTalysT, January 28, 2011 11



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