Advance Research Digest - Summer 2018

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ADVANCING RESEARCH FROM LAB TO LIFE A Biannual Research Digest of the University of Tennessee Medical Center

On the Horizon:

Radiology Research Initiative

Research Spotlight: Dr. Baljepally’s Innovation Impacts Cardiac Care

Studies in Brief:

Ramshaw leads collaboration Improving PET CT Imaging Excellence in Research Research by Dr. Craig Towers Cancer Research Symposium

Summer 2018

Wisdom for Your Life.

Spirit of Discovery…


Table of Contents

The retirement of Dr. Neutens gives us an opportunity to reflect on the research achievements of his tenure especially some of the more subtle ones not highlighted in the excellent articles in this issue of advance. While the medical center was originally established as the UT Memorial research Center and Hospital the emphasis on research dwindled in the decades after 1956. Rightfully, the institution focused on raising the standard of patient care for the community and emphasized its commitment to graduate medical educationresidencies. When Dr. Neutens took over, he continued the emphasis on patient care and education and resolved to increase the institutions footprint in biomedical research, the third leg of out tripartite mission, healing, education and discovery. As a result of his stewardship, the Graduate School has over four million dollars in extramural funding, in stem cell, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, sleep and anesthesia, OBGYN, and bone regeneration research. It has submitted, this year, over 19 million dollars in grant applications of which we should expect a 5-10% acceptance rate. The grants cover a wide range of timely topics such as opiate addiction, simulation in education, COPD, cancer, minimally invasive surgery, gynecologic cancer to name a few. As important are the publications and national presentations of faculty and residents. Not only do they add to our knowledge and educate our fellows, residents and students, they bring national recognition to the institution. That, in turn, brings a higher quality of faculty and trainees who want to be at an institution recognized widely for excellence and results in more advanced and better quality patient care. That necessarily brings patients who realize that they don’t need to go away from Knoxville to obtain state of the art care. This year, faculty and residents published 109 articles in national and international medical and scientific journals and gave over 100 national and international presentations. Both levels of achievement were a quantum leap over the academic productivity of years past. If the metrics of research success are funding and publications, the Graduate School of Medicine has flourished. This success reflects the conceit of the Graduate School that hiring academically oriented faculty, guiding them and supporting them will lead to geometric growth in the institution. We have all gained from Dr. Neutens’ influence.

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Dean Neutens retires Radiology Research Initiative Dr. Baljepally’s Innovation Impacts Cardiac Care


In Brief: Ramshaw leads collaboration to minimize opioid use after surgery

9 In Brief: Excellence in Research 10 In Brief: Research by Dr. Craig Towers 11 In Brief: Improving PET CT Imaging

Affects Change in ACOG Policy

In Brief: Cancer Research Symposium News

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Issue 15: Summer 2018 Publishers James Neutens, Ph.D. Mitch Goldman, M.D. Managing Editor Kristen Vandergriff, M.S. Contributors Mitch Goldman, M.D. Kandi Hodges Photography Kandi Hodges Design Jerry Tracy/J Squared Graphics Advance is produced by the University of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine. The mission of the digest is to spotlight research programs at the institution and explain how the work of our researchers impacts health care in East Tennessee and beyond. Institutional Review Board All research using human volunteers follows stringent federal regulations that require a review by an Institutional Review Board (IRB) before it is approved. The IRB committee is comprised of physicians, pharmacists, scientists, researchers and non-scientific community representatives. The members review research protocol to ensure protections are in place. Faculty from the UT Graduate School of Medicine influence medical care across the world by publishing and presenting. For a comprehensive list of publications and presentations, visit Contact Us Advance UT Graduate School of Medicine Kristen Vandergriff 1924 Alcoa Hwy., Box 93, Knoxville TN, 37920 Telephone: 865-305-9749 E-mail: Web:

Mitchell H. Goldman, M.D.

Assistant Dean of Research University of Tennessee, Graduate School of Medicine

Wisdom for Your Life.


Celebrating a Legacy: Dean Neutens Retires James Neutens, PhD, Dean of the University of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine since 2007, will retire on October, 1st after a 34-year career with UT. He served as the third dean since the formalization of the UT Graduate School of Medicine in 1991. Dr. Neutens has served the UT Graduate School of Medicine since 1990 where he taught clerkship and residency programs in OB/GYN. In 1997, he was selected to serve as Associate Dean and eventually Executive Associate Dean. He was appointed as the Interim Dean in 2005 and was selected to fill the Dean’s position in 2007.

As Dean, Dr. Neutens oversaw incredible growth for the UT Graduate School of Medicine while supporting the mission of healing, education and discovery. His leadership in managing partnerships with physicians, UT institutions and area organizations leaves a legacy that will continue to be prominent for UTGSM.


William Metheny, PhD, Assistant Dean of Graduate Medical and Dental Education said, “Dr. Neutens made medical education the first priority in his leadership to sustain, improve and expand our residency and fellowship programs.”


In 2008, the UT Center for Advanced Medical Simulation opened in a 400-square-foot facility and then in 2012 moved to its new 6,500 squarefoot facility, allowing physicians, medical students, and other members of the healthcare team to learn, practice, and improve skills in a safe, controlled environment. Dean Neutens also re-instated an educational research-based program, the I. Ried Collmann, M.D. Medical Student Educational Endowment, for medical students to begin learning about bench research and how it ultimately effects patient care.

• Development of a Biostatistics resource that resulted in an exponential increase in the academic productivity of faculty and residents. • Identification of human papillomavirus in oral cancer, previously thought to only be pathogenic in oropharyngeal cancer. “Dr. Neutens has always recognized that our research strength lies in a focused approach and he has supported these endeavors despite lean financial times. His faith and support of what we do has resulted in remarkable discoveries and tools that benefit patients around the world” said Jon Wall, PhD, Professor of Medicine and Director of the Amyloidosis and Cancer Theranostic Program. Under his leadership, UTGSM has increased research collaborations with other UT institutions as well as area organizations such as Siemens and ORNL/UT-Battelle. He supported several seed grant opportunities for UTGSM faculty members who collaborated with UT Knoxville and the UT Institute of Agriculture, and supported the initiating of several communities of scholars to further grow our collaborations.


Discovery embodies many important aspects to both medical education and healing, and having a Dean who understood its importance was critical. Mitchell Goldman, MD, Assistant Dean for Research, said, “He was the right man for the right time.” As Dean, Dr. Neutens influenced significant growth in scholarly activity, encouraging faculty and residents to participate in national and international presentations as well as publish original research in peer-reviewed journals. During a time when laboratory-based research received less national focus, Dr. Neutens helped establish and grow bench research related to molecular imaging, vascular research, anesthesiology, and amyloidosis and cancer. This research has led to several discoveries and changes in healthcare including:


As an educational institution for physicians, healing patients is the ultimate goal. The GSM clinical partner, University Health Systems Inc., spearheads most of these endeavors, however, Dean Neutens has been instrumental in several key areas of growth. Overall, Dean Neutens’s strength was in seeing a big picture. Amy Paganelli, Assistant Dean for Finance and Administration said, “Dr. Neutens was thorough in researching facts before making a decision.” In 2009, he enlisted assistance through the formation of the Board of Visitors, a diverse group of community leaders to advise and assist him in strategic planning, development, community outreach, and implementation of short-term and long-term goals. Rajiv Dhand, MD, Associate Dean of Clinical Affairs, said, “Dean Neutens is a dedicated educator, an effective leader with a great sense of humor and he has unique story-telling skills. Over the years, he has guided the GSM to a position of strength as an academic institution.” Through these successes, Dean Neutens will be remembered as a dean who promoted collaborations, multidisciplinary care, novel research, and compassion in education and healing, always reaching to break through barriers on the path to excellence. Dr. Paul J. Hauptman has accepted the positions of Dean of the Graduate School of Medicine (GSM) and Senior Vice President and Chief Academic Officer of the University of Tennessee Medical Center (UTMC). Dr. Hauptman is slated to begin on or before October 1, 2018.

• A strengthened collaboration with Siemens imaging groups that led to the development of new technology and tools that enhanced PET/CT and PET/MRI imaging technology and improved detection of cancer and other diseases. • Development of a free-to-use web-based breast cancer recurrence prediction tool. • Identification of two novel immunotherapy agents (antibodies) for the treatment of systemic light chain amyloidosis that resulted in international clinical trials. • Performance of the first-in-man evaluation, using PET/CT imaging, of the antibody 11-1F4 for the detection of amyloid deposits, which has never before been achieved. A clinical trial, to be performed at UTMC, will begin this year to study the next generation of amyloid-imaging agents. • Discovery of ODAM, a previously undiscovered protein that has been shown to be an indicator of metastatic disease in patients with breast cancer and melanoma. • Studies that identified the complex role of aspirin as an anti-coagulant. • Identification and characterization of new disease mechanisms that underlie the pathology of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.


Collaborative Radiology Study Improves PET Image Reliability To have a PET scan, patients are injected with a radioactive sugar molecule that attaches to tumors. If the tracer does not attach properly, the scan may not produce reliable images, and a second scan may be needed. One reason the radiotracer does not attach is that is that it leaks into surrounding tissues — what doctors call “infiltration.” Researchers at The University of Tennessee Medical Center are part of a nationwide multi-center quality improvement project led by Lucerno Dynamics to assess and reduce infiltration. Traditionally, infiltration is only confirmed if the injection site for the radiotracer is within the PET field of view. Even if the injection site is inside the field of view, the tracer may spread through tissue and not be visible on the final images. However, Lucerno Dynamics has developed technology to assess injection quality, which ultimately helps imaging specialists determine the success of a scan and aids physicians in recommending the best treatment. Through this quality improvement project that examined more than 800 University of Tennessee Medical Center patients and more than 2400

Infiltration in Scan Field of View – Infiltration seen as high activity in arm of patient

Why this matters:

Compromised injections can alter images which may impact diagnosis of disease and assessment of therapy response.


Injection monitoring has continued and additional studies are under way to determine key risk factors for patient at higher risk of injection infiltration.

High Injection Quality

Low Injection Quality

patients study-wide, Dustin Osborne, PhD, Associate Professor and Clinical Director of the Molecular Imaging and Translational Research Program, and his study team found that infiltration rates were 2.1 percent for the initial 10 week assessment period, among the lowest of the participating nationwide institutions. Following initial results, a quality improvement plan was created with the study team that also included department

of radiology nuclear medicine technologists. Changes implemented by the team further reduced infiltration rates to 1.9% compared to national averages previously reported of 15%. Initial results of this multi-center study were presented at the 2018 Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging meeting in Philadelphia, PA and the full manuscript is being revised for publication later this year.


Dr. Baljepally’s Innovation Impacts Cardiac Care Every day, physicians have to think on their feet. Sometimes, this quick thinking leads to game-changing techniques for the whole industry. This was the case when Raj Baljepally, MD, Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine, and his medical team invented a new way of putting in a small heart pump, called an Impella device. The Impella pump sits in the left ventricle and is used to help hearts that are weak or failing to keep blood flowing to the body until the heart can recover enough to pump on its own. Dr. Baljepally diagnoses and treats heart conditions with the help of tubes, called catheters. The catheters run from an artery in the groin or wrist into the heart. They send things like dye, or tools like the Impella, which help the medical team learn what is causing the heart to not function correctly, and to repair it when possible. The Impella is used temporarily to keep the heart pumping until it can take over on its own. The catheter holding the device attaches to a machine at the bedside, which controls

the pump. From that console the medical team can change how much the pump works. As patients recover, the team can turn down the pump and let the patient’s own heart take over. Once that happens, the patient goes back into surgery and the doctors take the Impella out. “This pump is a revolutionary method of management,” said Dr. Baljepally. “You can keep blood flowing to the brain, kidneys and other organs during or after a procedure.” Dr. Baljepally and his team were working on a 45-year-old man who’d had a heart attack. They put a catheter through the patient’s groin to his heart, then slid the Impella pump into place in the left ventricle. The Impella pump worked well for the first day, but as happens in a small percentage of patients, the wires of the pump kinked, which made the pump malfunction. Scott Cook, MD, is a third-year Cardiology Fellow on Dr. Baljepally’s team. He said, “When the pump stopped working, it made the patient’s blood pressure crash. We knew we had to replace the pump.”


The Impella pump is larger than the catheter that carries it to the heart. So when you take it out, the tube has to come out, too. This means, when the team needs to put in another device, they have to find a new place to put a catheter. The challenge is that heart patients are on high amounts of blood thinners. Using a second insertion site can cause the patient to bleed, which can be difficult to stop when the blood is so thin. “But during this surgery,” said Dr. Baljepally, “we found a new way to use the same site.” First, they took out the Impella and its catheter. Then, they placed a wire to hold open the site. “We tried using the wire to thread in the new Impella, but the wire and the Impella’s catheter together were too thick,” said Dr. Baljepally. “So we discovered we could use the tubing of the Impella, itself, to slide a

new catheter through,” said Dr. Baljepally. “This let us put in a new device without endangering the patient with a second stick.” After the procedure, the team realized this information might be helpful for other medical teams. They went to the medical center’s Simulation Lab and redid the procedure. “We walked ourselves back through it step by step to figure out how to explain it to someone else,” said Dr. Baljepally. “If other physicians learn to do this, it might help other patients, too.” Since then, Dr. Baljepally and Dr. Cook have published a paper in the medical journal, “Catheterization and Cardiovascular Interventions.” As a result, the company that makes the Impella pump has started posting how-to instructions of the procedure on their consoles.

Why this matters:

This innovation will positively impact patient care not only at UTMC, but also wherever this device is used around the country. 7

IN BRIEF »»»»»» Ramshaw leads collaboration to minimize opioid use after surgery To improve patient outcomes and combat a segment of the national opioid epidemic, The University of Tennessee Medical Center and Pacira Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: PCRX) announced a continuous quality improvement (CQI) project designed to develop low- or noopioid postsurgical pain management pathways for patients undergoing one of the most common surgical procedures, hernia surgery. The project is intended to demonstrate that effective postsurgical analgesia is achievable without the need for high volumes of opioids, which in turn, can make a meaningful impact on the patient recovery experience. Utilizing the expertise of CQ-Insights, a leading-edge healthcare data analytics firm, hospital data will be analyzed to track the progress of pathway implementation, the resulting reduction in overall opioid consumption, length of hospital stay, costs, and patient satisfaction. “Our goal is to truly improve the value of care for our patients by effectively managing pain while preventing unnecessary exposure to postsurgical opioids through the use of multimodal, non-opioid pain management strategies,” said Bruce Ramshaw, MD, Professor and Chair of the Department of Surgery at The University of Tennessee Medical Center and UT Graduate School of Medicine. “The ability to measure the value of care, which results in improved patient outcomes and decreased healthcare costs, will come to fruition through projects such as this that include collaboration, outcome measurement and data analytics. The potential for significant improvement exists for hernia patients as well as the entire healthcare delivery system.” Following a successful demonstration of opioid reduction and quality outcomes among hernia patients, The University of Tennessee Medical Center, an academic medical center, and Pacira intend to develop an educational program that can be shared with other hospitals and providers, and will consider implementing similar CQI projects in other surgical procedures.

“We are proud to collaborate with the University of Tennessee Medical Center at Knoxville to identify innovative ways to reduce reliance on opioids as the first line of defense for managing acute pain,” said Dave Stack, chairman and chief executive officer of Pacira. “Through their commitment to low-opioid pain control, the University of Tennessee Medical Center at Knoxville is truly taking a leadership position in redefining what is possible when it comes to postsurgical pain management and patient outcomes.” Beyond the unwanted and potentially lifethreatening adverse events associated with opioid use, research continues to uncover the connection between their introduction in the hospital setting and the overall societal opioid burden. A recent JAMA Internal Medicine article highlighted that for opioid-naive patients, many surgical procedures are associated with an increased risk of chronic opioid use in the postsurgical period;1 perhaps more startling, a recent national survey revealed that 1 in 10 patients admit they’ve become addicted to or dependent on opioids after being exposed to these powerful medications following an operation. The University of Tennessee Medical Center at Knoxville serves East Tennessee, Southeastern Kentucky, and Western North Carolina, three of the top 15 states in the U.S. in terms of per capita opioid prescriptions. In 2016, enough opioids were prescribed in these states combined for every resident to have approximately 62 pills each.

Why this matters:

Identifying innovative ways to reduce reliance on opioids as the first line of defense for managing acute pain will help decrease the overall societal opioid burden 8

IN BRIEF »»»»»»

Improving PET CT Imaging As the Clinical Research Leader for Molecular Imaging and Translation Research Program at the University of Tennessee Medical Center, Shelley Acuff is always looking at ways to continue growth in PET/ CT. One of the best ways to support the growth of PET imaging is to get involved at the councils and center level with the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI). In June 2017, Shelley was selected to serve as the intern for the PET Center of Excellence (PET CoE) Board of Directors. This program was created to provide young professionals the opportunity to get involved with the society at the council and center level. The internship has a two-year term starting at the SNMMI annual meeting in June. It comes with a travel budget of $1,500 annually so the intern can attend trainings and conferences. Shelley has completed her first term, which included a one-day training with the PET CoE in February and the annual SNMMI meeting in June, both of which were fully funded by the internship. For one of her projects during the first year, Shelley wrote a manuscript on Practical Consideration for integrating PET/CT in Radiation Therapy Planning for Patient Care. The purpose of this manuscript is to cover how to develop a successful collaboration between a PET center and a Radiation Oncology center. Items of discussion in the manuscript include the needs of the PET center to accommodate a collaboration with Radiation Oncology, the types of scans that can be offered, the PET centers growth, the impact PET/CT can have on Radiation treatment planning, and how a collaboration of this kind can lead to a better course of treatment for patients. Shelley’s inspiration for the manuscript came from a collaboration her and other coworkers in the Cancer Institute at University

of Tennessee Medical Center developed between the PET/CT department and the Radiation Oncology department. The group has developed unique workflows and both departments have seen growth and better patient care. This impactful collaboration has changed the way PET/CT scans are performed and used for treating cancer at University of Tennessee Medical Center. The full manuscript was accepted by the Journal of Nuclear Medicine Technology and will be available soon. In addition to her internship on the PET CoE, Shelley was awarded the CMIIT Lab Professional Recognition Award for Contributions to Molecular Imaging at the June 2018 meeting. This award is designed to recognize laboratory professionals that have made a significant contribution to molecular imaging and therapy while working in the laboratory of a principal investigator. Presented annually, its purpose is to promote the exemplary accomplishments by individuals in the lab who may not have the opportunity to receive recognition in other arenas. This is her second time receiving this award.

Why this matters:

The continual growth and success of our research leaders has a positive impact on patient care at UTMC


IN BRIEF »»»»»»

Faculty and Residents Awarded for Excellence in Research The 16th annual UT Graduate School of Medicine Faculty Awards were presented by James J. Neutens, PhD, Dean; William Metheny, PhD, Assistant Dean for Graduate Medical and Dental Education; and Mitchell Goldman, MD, Assistant Dean for Research, during the New Resident and Fellow Reception and Awards Ceremony. Among the awardees, Dean Neutens received a GSM Spirit Award for his outstanding tenure as Dean for the UT Graduate School of Medicine since 2007. Dr. Kimberly Fortner, Associate Professor, Obstetrics and Gynecology, was also recognized for excellence in teaching. Awarded for their efforts in research are

lectures, mentored six residents in scholarly presentations and authored two book chapters. Dr. Russ sits on three departmental committees, six hospital committees and two national society committees. He also holds two invention disclosures. Excellence and Leadership in Basic Science Research: Stacy Stephenson, MD, Assistant Professor, Surgery Dr. Stephenson came to the UT Graduate School of Medicine in 2013 and has a current grant through the National Institutes of Health for her research on expressing humanized bacterial luciferase in stem cells.

The GSM Spirit Award: Amila Orucevic, MD, PhD, Associate Professor, Pathology Dr. Orucevic received the GSM Spirit Award for displaying excellence in healing, education and discovery. Dr. Orucevic’s greatest passion is research, and she conducts quarterly sessions with the residents regarding research design. Since October 2014, Dr. Orucevic serves as the department’s Director of Research and has been recognized for her work and innovation in breast cancer care.

Resident and Fellow Research Awards The 2018 Resident and Fellow Research Awards were presented to Best Original Research Shannon Beierle, MD General Surgery “A Correlation Between Emotional Intelligence and Burnout in Surgical Residents” Best Case Research Jeremy Edwards, DDS Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery “The use of Stereolithographic Models for Optimal Surgical Stent Fabrication in Complex Pre-prosthetic Vestibuloplasty and Dental Implant Placement: A Case Report “

Excellence and Leadership in Clinical Research: Andrew Russ, MD, Associate Professor, Surgery Dr. Russ shows true leadership through discovery and clinical practice. He has given three invited

Why this matters:

It is important to recognize the efforts of the faculty and residents who have exhibited outstanding accomplishments in research, creating a supportive environment for continued research projects. 10

IN BRIEF »»»»»»

Research by Dr. Craig Towers Affects Change in ACOG Policy The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has updated its recommended therapy for pregnant women with an opioid-use disorder. The new guidance includes treatment options and screening recommendations pioneered by Craig Towers, MD, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and a maternal-fetal medicine specialist. On February 6, 2016, at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine’s annual meeting in Atlanta, Dr. Towers unveiled important research findings on a study he lead, showing evidence that maternal opiate detoxification during pregnancy significantly improves pregnancy outcome, without putting the fetus at risk. Additionally, Dr. Towers’s findings were published in some of the nation’s leading obstetrics and gynecology publications and his work at the University of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine has been profiled by national media outlets including CNN and Modern Healthcare magazine. “As opiate addiction increasingly creeps into the pregnant population, mothers expose their unborn babies to drugs that often cause Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS),” said Dr. Towers. “Identifying opiate addicted pregnant women, getting them into a program

that can first medically withdraw them and then be supported by follow-ups to further aid a drug-free lifestyle is of paramount importance.” According to ACOG, opioid agonist pharmacotherapy, also known as medicationassisted treatment (MAT), continues to be the recommended therapy for pregnant women with an opioid use disorder. However, this new guidance, spearheaded by Dr. Towers, also recognizes that medically supervised withdrawal can be considered under the care of a physician experienced in perinatal addiction treatment if a woman does not accept MAT. “I am glad to hear ACOG is recognizing that medically supervised withdrawal under the care of an experienced physician can be offered to pregnant women with opioid use disorder as an additional option beyond MAT,” said Dr. Towers. “This approach is very successful when connected with behavioral health and results in babies born who do not suffer NAS.”

Why this matters:

Offering medically supervised withdrawal under the care of a physicians allows for opioid addicted mothers to successful come off the opioids and deliver babies that do not suffer from neonatal abstinence syndrome. 11

IN BRIEF »»»»»»

Cancer Research Presented at 4th Annual Cancer Research Symposium

The 4th Annual Cancer Research Symposium featured the latest in cancer research by UT investigators, including a poster presentation program to share research and collaborate on new ideas, and a presentation by featured speaker Lawrence Pfeffer, PhD, Director of the Center for Cancer Research at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. More than 20 research poster projects were featured including collaborations among UT institutions as well as national and international collaborations. The symposium is sponsored by UT Cancer Community of Scholars, UT Medical Center, UTK Office of Research and Engagement, Cancer Institute, Departments of Biochemistry and Cellular & Molecular Biology, Genome Science & Technology, Nutrition, Microbiology, and Center for Environmental Biotechnology. Dr. Lawrence’s presentation discussed, “Therapeutic targeting microRNA (miRNA)-203 in glioblastoma” noting that

patients with the most common primary adult brain tumor, glioblastoma, have a median survival of only ~15 months, and a 5-year survival rate of less than 5%. Despite aggressive surgery and treatment, these malignant glial tumors remain a serious clinical and scientific problem. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs that suppress the expression of genes implicated in many fundamental biological processes that are dysregulated in cancer. Because tumor suppressive miRNAs are often downregulated in cancer, the overarching goal of our research is to determine whether restoration of such tumor suppressive miRNAs can be employed to treat glioblastoma. Several faculty members from The Graduate School of Medicine did poster presentations. The symposium was well attended by faculty, staff, and students from The Graduate School of Medicine, The University of Tennessee, and The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture.

Why this matters:

This symposium allows researchers from many campuses to display their work and builds collaborations among our institutions 12


Anesthesiology Resident Accepted to ASA Policy Research Rotation

Karlstad receives compliance award

The Office of Research and Engagement’s third annual Research Integrity and Compliance Awards were held at the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy Tuesday, February 6 Robert Nobles, interim vice chancellor for research and engagement, celebrated faculty, staff, and students who practice excellence in safety and compliance areas every day. “These awards were created to highlight the value and importance of shared governance, which lays the foundation for UT’s continued success,” said Nobles. “I am indebted to those who contribute to our research integrity, safety, and compliance infrastructure, and appreciate their dedication.” Michael Karlstad, PhD won the 2018 award for Promoting Animal Care and Use

Anesthesiology Resident Patrick McFarland, MD, completed a one-month Policy Research Rotation in Political Affairs in Washington DC through the American Society of Anesthesiologists. The selection process was very competitive and the awardee was selected by the ASA Committee on Governmental Affairs. During the rotation, Dr. McFarland learned about the political, legislative, and regulatory factors that affect the delivery of patient care with supervision from the ASA’s Director of Congressional Affairs. In light of the national opioid epidemic and the work being done at The University of Tennessee Medical Center to study it, understand it and address it, Dr. McFarland found himself heavily involved in researching opioid legislation and discussing it with several members of Congress from Tennessee and beyond. Regarding the experience and what he learned, Dr. McFarland said, “Given our specialized education and training, it is our duty as physicians to advocate on behalf of our patients to ensure legislators are well-informed of current healthcare issues and how to best deliver safe and high-quality patient care.

Martin receives UT Research Foundation (UTRF) Maturation Fund for 2018 Technologies invented at the University of Tennessee, like the majority of university discoveries, typically require additional development to attract commercial interest. UTRF awards grants each year through its annual Maturation Funding Program to help researchers advance new technologies on the path to market. Emily Martin, Assistant Professor, UTGSM, Department of Medicine, and Jonathan Wall, Professor, UTGSM, Department of Medicine, for “Amyloid Risk Assessment to Determine Patient Management”. The UTRF Maturation Funding Program is open to all University of Tennessee campuses and institutes. The selection process included evaluation of three key areas: (1) demonstration of a path for commercial development, (2) market potential, and (3) stage of development. As part of the award process, UTRF will receive interim and final reports from the researchers that will describe increased knowledge and improvements in the subject technology. This information is expected to assist UTRF in better positioning the technologies for licensing.

NIH Supports Amyloidosis Research

Jonathan Wall, PhD, professor at The University of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine and the director of the Amyloidosis and Cancer Theranostics Program, has been studying amyloidosis for over 20 years. He and his research team recently received a new three-year grant from the National Institutes of Health. The grant will allow them to study, “Pre-targeting Immunotherapy for Light Chain (AL) Amyloidosis.” For this project, Wall is working to develop a new two-stage therapy to treat patients with AL and any other forms of systemic amyloidosis. This therapy is designed to kick-start the body’s immune system that can ultimately lead to the removal of amyloid from affected organs. This approach will build upon the success of current treatments for AL patients.

Your Chance to Advance The people at the UT Graduate School of Medicine would be happy to discuss our research programs and how your support can help advance healthcare. For information about philanthropic giving to the UT Graduate School of Medicine Office of Research, please contact the development office at 865-305-6611 or If you would like more information about any research programs described in this issue of Advance, please contact the UT Graduate School of Medicine’s Research Coordinator, Kristen Vandergriff, at 865-305-9749 or visit online:


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