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Spring 2010

Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center • West Virginia University

Caring for Children’s Hearts


wvuhealth Spring 2010 Vol. 1, Issue 1

A publication of the Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center West Virginia University Morgantown, West Virginia Administration


Chancellor’s Message | Simple Gifts


50 Years on the Hill


QuadMed Healthcare Eastern Panhandle Clinic Good for the Patients and the Doctor, too


Learning by Doing The Experience Is Real, Even if the Patient Is Not


CASE Award Winner Ruth Kernsher ‘Cooler than the other side of the pillow’

James P. Clements, PhD President Christopher C. Colenda, MD, MPH Chancellor for Health Sciences James E. Brick, MD Interim Dean, School of Medicine Georgia L. Narsavage, PhD Dean, School of Nursing Patricia A. Chase, PhD Dean, School of Pharmacy Louise T. Veselicky, DDS, MSD Interim Dean, School of Dentistry Gary Marano, MD Chief Medical Officer University Health Associates Mitchell Harris Chief Operational Officer University Health Associates Bruce McClymonds President and CEO, WVU Hospitals J. Thomas Jones President and CEO, WV United Health System

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Meeting West Virginia’s Oral Health Needs

Saving Douglas Price A Trauma Team’s Heroic Efforts

Editorial Board Bill Case, Editor Heidi Specht, Creative Director Mary Dillon, Production Manager Stephanie Bock Jay Coughlin Norman Ferrari, MD Amy Johns Misti Michael Gary Murdock Amy Newton Lynda B. Nine Tricia Petty Julia W. Phalunas Shelia Price, DDS

Cover Story 16 19

Caring for Kids’ Hearts The CARDIAC Project


Chernobyl’s Children Charleston Physicians and Community Reach Out


Recovery Act Stimulates WVU Health Research


News in Brief


School of Nursing Celebrates Anniversary

Contributors Brian Ballentine Andrea Brunais Jeff Driggs Kim Fetty Angela Jones Michelle Moore Bob Beverly Aira Burkhart Autumn Hill Walt Koski Steven W. Rotsch Wes Lawson

© 2010 West Virginia University West Virginia University is governed by the West Virginia University Board of Governors and the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission. West Virginia University is an Equal Opportunity/ Affirmative Action Institution.

Cover: Deegan Rush was born at WVU Children’s Hospital in September 2007. Photo: Heidi Specht

Chancellor’s Message

Simple Gifts Everywhere I go in West Virginia, someone has a story to tell about what WVU has done to make their lives better. Let me tell you about a brief encounter I had at the medical school’s recent white coat ceremony, where second-year students wear a doctor’s white coat for the first time. A grandparent came up to me after the ceremony and said with earnestness, “Dr. Colenda, you don’t know how much it means to us to have our granddaughter in medical school. She’s worked so hard, and when you spoke about receiving simple gifts, you spoke to my heart.” Needless to say, as a newcomer to West Virginia, I was flattered and speechless. For some, WVU provides the opportunity to learn a profession, start a career, and make a difference in their community. Others thank us for helping in a health crisis or bringing the results of research into play to resolve a pressing local problem. More than in almost any place in the world, West Virginia is a state where the flagship land-grant University

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is engaged in the daily lives of individuals in a very personal and meaningful way. No matter what their relationship to the University, citizens of West Virginia identify themselves as Mountaineers and celebrate our successes. This level of engagement recharges and energizes my work at the Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center. It also means that all of us will be held to a high standard as we play leading roles in educating the next generation of health professionals, advancing scientific discovery, translating discovery into practice, and raising the health status of citizens of our state. That’s a challenge we’re ready to face. The faculty, students, staff, and alumni of West Virginia University, standing together, are the most powerful force for health in our state. In this magazine, you’ll meet some of those at the forefront of our work and learn about some of the lives they’ve touched. Christopher C. Colenda, MD, MPH Chancellor

50 Years on the Hill This year is the 50th anniversary of the WVU Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center. Known when it opened in 1960 as the WVU Medical Center, the original buildings were constructed after a decade-long effort that bound together people from across the state to create a resource for every West Virginian. The original University Hospital’s grand opening was in August 1960; education and research facilities opened shortly thereafter. Celebrations of this year’s multiple milestones began in January when Governor Joe Manchin III issued a proclamation noting the 50th anniversary of the first School of Nursing class. Two members of that 1964 graduating group were on hand at the State Capitol for the occasion.

The WVU Health Sciences Center continues to deliver on its promise to improve the health of West Virginians—creating better access to healthcare and a much higher quality of care.

In October, academic convocations celebrating 50 years of service to the state will be held in Charleston and in Morgantown. Dr. Harvey Fineberg, president of the U.S. Institute of Medicine, will be the featured speaker at both ceremonies. Alumni, students, staff, and friends of WVU health programs and institutions are invited to join the faculty at these events. The fall 2010 issue of WVUhealth will include more information on the Health Sciences Center’s first 50 years.

Save the Date!

WVU Health Sciences 50th Anniversary Convocation October 14, 2010, Noon Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center – Charleston Division October 15, 2010, 4 p.m. WVU Creative Arts Center Morgantown

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Good for Patients

and the Doctor, too by Michelle Moore

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soul searching about his future. He questioned whether he could be happy practicing medicine in a traditional setting.


About this same time, QuadMed’s leaders were talking with Bonfili about finding a doctor to head up their new clinic in Martinsburg. The timing couldn’t have been better.

ow and then, things happen at just the right time and in just the right place. Quad/ “That put the wheels in motion,” Graphics, one of the largest printing Bonfili said. “The relationship with companies in the country, created QuadMed was beginning to develop an in-house medical clinic at their right when I had a conversation with plant in Martinsburg. The clinic Jeff. I thought if Jeff wants a change solved a healthcare dilemma for of environment, this would be the their employees, but it also decided perfect situation for him.” the future for the doctor who would When he was offered the chance become its director, and created a to direct this new, different kind of new partnership between WVU’s Family Medicine program and a major healthcare facility, Whyte didn’t have to think long about his answer. Eastern Panhandle employer.

“It was kind of like the stars all aligned,” said Jay Bonfili, WVU Health Sciences Center’s Eastern Division vice president for administration. Jeff Whyte, MD, of WVU’s Eastern Division is the medical director of Quad/Graphics’ on-site healthcare center, QuadMed. Dr. Whyte says the partnership is perfect for him, because he’s caring for patients in an environment where he can thrive doing what he does best.

“This was a blessing to me in so many different ways,” he said. “It was love at first sight.”

Focus on Prevention and Wellness QuadMed clinics are located at five of Quad/Graphics’ printing plants around the country. Each clinic has a complete medical staff, lab, physical therapy facility, pharmacy, and fitness center right inside the plant. The QuadMed model is also being marketed to other companies across the U.S. as a sustainable way to manage healthcare costs. QuadMed’s philosophy is similar to Whyte’s: prevention and wellness form the foundation of a viable heathcare program. The new clinic continued next page

“If you can prevent things from happening in the first place, you’ve done yourself and your patient a big favor.” —Jeff Whyte, MD

Whyte was one of the first graduates of WVU’s Rural Family Medicine Residency Program. He stayed on with Harpers Ferry Family Medicine as a faculty member for several years.

Love at First Sight A personable guy, friendly and outgoing, Whyte loves being a doctor. He likes to spend time with patients, get to know their individual conditions, and work with them on preventive strategies for staying well. After a few years in the busy Harpers Ferry clinic, he found himself Spring 2010 | 5

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would focus on those features as much— and more— as on treating sick people. Plus, there would be plenty of time to thoroughly examine patients, so Whyte’s ideas about a broader approach to physical diagnosis could be realized. “The appointment times here are 30 and 60 minutes long compared to the 15-minute acute care model visit,” he said. “So it makes a huge difference, not only in the ability to take better care of patients, but also to take time to get to know people and enjoy the humanity of medicine.”

A gift that helps

West Virginia Hearts The partnership between Quad/Graphics and WVU goes beyond the QuadMed clinic. In 2008, Quad/Graphics donated $1 million to the University to endow a chair of internal medicine at the Eastern Division of the Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center. The gift served as a catalyst for the recruitment of Neal Gaither, MD, a cardiologist and medical director for cardiovascular services at WVU Hospitals–East.

QuadMed’s clinic in Martinsburg is entering its third year. Close to 85 percent of employees use the clinic, which got busy almost immediately.

Prevention and wellness form the foundation... “I was surprised at how much time they spend with you,” said Linda Snider, a Quad/Graphics employee who uses the clinic. “It’s not about the numbers.” Employees pay a nominal fee ($7) per visit, regardless of what they’re being seen for. And if they need physical therapy, they pay $10. That’s it, $10, for whatever regimen of therapy they require. The fitness center is free, and Quad/Graphics also has a program called Lean You, which offers cash incentives for making a conscious effort to get in shape and stay healthy. “Paying attention to wellness and prevention saves you a ton of money down the road in terms of treating chronic disease,” Whyte said. “If you can prevent things from happening in the first place, you’ve done yourself and the patient a big favor.”

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Quad/Graphics’ President and CEO Joel Quadracci said that providing their employees access to quality, affordable healthcare helped them to have a competitive advantage, and his company wanted to help the Eastern Panhandle realize those benefits. “The creation of an internal medicine department will improve residents’ quality of life and attract other businesses to the area and the state,” Quadracci said. “In this instance, healthcare can drive economic development.”

WVU in the Eastern Panhandle WVU’s Eastern Division was established in 2001 to improve healthcare for residents of the Eastern Panhandle and expand educational opportunities for the region’s growing population. The Eastern Division is charged with recruiting students from the area into the health professions, and includes training programs in medicine, pharmacy, and nursing. Two area hospitals, City Hospital in Martinsburg and Jefferson Memorial Hospital in Ranson, are part of WVUH–East; faculty members also operate a busy family medicine center in Harpers Ferry.

Learning by Doing

The Experience Is Real, Even if the Patient Is Not by Kim Fetty

Four nurses hover over the patient as they carry out the doctor’s instructions. They were not able to restart his breathing, and now it looks like they won’t be able to restart his heart with CPR. The doctor comes into the room and asks, “How long has he been down?” The charting nurse answers the doctor, and flies into the next room for the crash cart. Another calls “Code Blue.” In a matter of minutes, the room fills with members of the code team. Defibrillation paddles are applied to the patient’s chest. Twice. Everyone tensely watches the monitor for the flat line to spike upward. The doctor makes one last attempt. He looks at the clock and declares the time of death. “I’m glad THAT was my first code,” nursing student Hannah Widder, of Moorefield, says. Widder and her fellow students are in the West Virginia Simulation Training and Education for Patient Safety (STEPS) Center at WVU Health Sciences. Here, with the flip of a switch and touch of a button the patient—a mannequin—is back to normal. This is not the mannequin from the old days of CPR classes; this is a patient simulator. The mannequins can realistically show the symptoms of a particular illness or injury. They have beating hearts, lungs that work, and

can answer questions. They can even vomit. They are run by a computer, operated by a faculty member who has developed an emergency scenario for her students—in this case, Gail VanVoorhis, RN, WVU School of Nursing. She said since the Center opened in October last year, more faculty from the schools of Nursing, Medicine, Pharmacy, and Dentistry are beginning to use the STEPS Center. Next year, they hope to pilot an interdisciplinary course that will involve students from several areas of study. “Most people learn by doing—it’s more memorable,” Terry Schwinghammer, PharmD, chair of the WVU Department of Clinical Pharmacy, said. “Students not only can use the center for learning about patient emergencies, but they can also use it to practice taking medical histories or teaching patients how to use medical devices, such as an inhaler. These videotaped sessions can be reviewed later so students can improve their skills.” Megan Shepard, a nursing student from McMechen, agrees. “I will remember this better than what I can learn from a textbook.” The simulations at the STEPS center are as close to real as it gets, without being real.

Facts & Figures 6 mannequins in the Center 3 adult mannequins 3 pediatric mannequins Cost: $40–$250,000 each More than 72,000 potential reactions, including: Breathing Heartbeat Speaking Tears Bleeding Perspiration Pupil dilation And more… Spring 2010 | 7

CASE award winner Ruth Kershner

‘Cooler than the other side of the pillow’ by Angela Jones

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f you were trying to gauge the impact Ruth Kershner, EdD, has had on students at West Virginia University, you need not look much further than her office.

Current students wave to her as they travel between classes, or if they have the time, they’ll stop in for a chat. The gratitude of former students adorns the walls of Dr. Kershner’s office. Some are decorated with inspirational messages while others are homemade photo collages and plaques inscribed with the words, “We love you!”

“It’s rewarding to be recognized and acknowledged,” Kershner, associate professor in the Department of Community Medicine, said. “Education is always a work in progress. I learn new ideas from my students every day. It’s an everevolving process.” Originally a public and home health nurse in Roane County, Kershner came to WVU as a student in 1989 to pursue a master’s degree in community and school health. She went on to earn a doctorate in education curriculum in 1995. She made the switch to teaching because, like nursing, it involves mentoring and nurturing. “I found that I had a flair for teaching. I like to be creative and experiment. And I’m not afraid to talk about the tough issues that other people are reticent to talk about,” she said.

“I get way more out of teaching than I put into it. And it’s tied with heartstrings.” —Ruth Kershner, EdD Today Kershner teaches undergraduates in school health, and her specific interests include substance abuse education, violence prevention, rape prevention education, women’s health, nursing care of the elderly, and hospice. All of Kershner’s classes include a service-learning component. Students learn about agencies that provide for the less fortunate and identify a problem or project they would like to address. “It is very gratifying to see students recognize the many gifts that we receive from giving to others—perhaps the most important element of lifelong learning,” she said.

In November, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education selected her as West Virginia’s Professor of the Year. “I am thrilled to be recognized. There are many, many wonderful teachers at WVU and in the state of West Virginia. I accepted this award on behalf of them.” This award, she added, is unique because of its emphasis on undergraduate teaching, which she described as tough. “The classes are larger. There are more tests and written assignments. Therefore the creativity to enhance the learning process has to be amped up.” Alan Ducatman, MD, chair of the Department of Community Medicine, said Kershner’s students, who often become educators, can emulate her enthusiasm, methods, dedication, and commitment to community engagement. “Anyone reading Dr. Kershner’s student evaluations will see things like: ‘I want to be like her,’ ‘She is the role model,’ and my personal favorite, ‘Cooler than the other side of the pillow.’ We are talking about 400–500 students a year, so it is a statistically significant sample. That is special,” he said. Lisa Costello, an MD/MPH student at WVU, said Kershner is a friend of students and always has their best interests at heart. “Her students receive an education in how to be successful in life. Ruth inspires me to be more like Ruth.” “I love what I do. I love teaching and interacting with the students. I love their honesty, their sharing, their humanity, and their aspirations,” Kershner said. “I am energized by being a small piece of somebody’s life and seeing where they go. I get way more out of teaching than I put into it. And it’s tied with heartstrings.”

“Ruth is innovative. She is constantly on the lookout for new teaching ideas and materials,” former student John Blosnich said. “She brings in current issues and topics to keep the course material relevant and applicable for new generations of students. She encourages debate and discourse while always keeping the class environment respectful. “She creates a comfortable learning atmosphere in which students feel safe to share their thoughts and opinions and know that their input is valued.” Kershner said she likes the connectedness students feel in her classes. “I like that students feel comfortable with me as a person and respect me as a professor,” she said. “I want my classes to have a feel of community, where people can dialogue and feel free to disagree in a respectful way.”

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Meeting West Virginia’s

Oral Health Needs by Angela Jones

“If we don’t do it, who will?” —Elliot Shulman, DDS

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he looks at the map.

For Louise Veselicky, DDS, interim dean of the WVU School of Dentistry, the map, which shows a county-by-county breakdown of dentists and hygienists in West Virginia, poses a challenge. The good news is that every county has a dentist, most of them WVU graduates. The bad news is that some have only one.

“We need care in our state,” she said. “We need to get to the areas that really need someone. It’s going to take a grassroots effort. As a school, we’re willing to get involved to connect the communities with dentists.” And therein lies Dr. Veselicky’s passion: providing rural West Virginians with accessible oral healthcare. Fortunately for those West Virginians, the School of Dentistry is a pioneer in sending students to rural sites to care for patients through the West Virginia Rural Health Education Partnerships Program. Every student participates in a six-week rural rotation at one of 42 sites across the state. In 2008-9 the students performed more than 10,000 procedures and assisted nearly 6,000 patients. Students in the School of Dentistry are eager to do their part to help rural West Virginia. As a matter of fact, Heather Gibson and Tabitha Justice, both members of the Class of 2010, can’t imagine practicing anywhere else. Gibson will return to her hometown of Elkview, where she will join her father and brother in their family’s general dentistry practice. “Even if I didn’t have the opportunity to practice dentistry with my family, I would still stay in West Virginia,” she said. “This is my home. I have always been interested in underserved populations and how to improve access to dental care. It seems to me that it is my responsibility to find a way to help this population.” Justice, a southern West Virginia native, will return to that part of the state to practice general dentistry. She and Gibson hope other students will follow in their footsteps.

“Think of all West Virginia and its people have to offer you. The opportunity to do well in this state is there if you want it,” Justice advised. “Think about the fact that West Virginia needs professional people who care about the welfare of their patients to stay in this state if we are ever going to make a difference in the oral health of West Virginians. Think of that one life you might make a difference for.” Gibson added, “There are so many people all over the state who need dental care. You could be the one person who could go into a community and change the lives of generations of people. You could singlehandedly change the future of a small community by providing dental care.”

Interim Dean Louise Veselicky, DDS

To promote good oral health among West Virginia’s schoolchildren, students and faculty at the WVU School of Dentistry are distributing “Lessons In A Lunch Box: Healthy Teeth Essentials and Facts About Snacks.” This spring, the School of Dentistry provided lunch boxes to children in Pocahontas and Wayne counties.

Reaching out WVU can’t have an impact on oral health across the state without going directly to people in their communities. “If we don’t do it, who will?” said Elliot Shulman, DDS, a WVU pediatric dentist. “Rural health in West Virginia has a long way to go. No one organization in the state is able to tackle it all. It’s going to take WVU working together with other agencies to make a difference.” The newly launched WVU Oral Health Initiative, which is aided by a $250,000 grant from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, continued next page

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Dental student Chris Banks shows a little girl her shiny teeth during the Give Kids a Smile free screening event this February. Since 2003, the WVU School of Dentistry has provided more than 530 free children’s exams through this program.

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is intended to change perceptions of oral health, improve oral hygiene behavior, and help place new dental professionals into areas of greatest need. The grant will allow the School of Dentistry to expand some of its existing community programs, such as CHOMP (Children with Healthy Oral Cavities Morgantown Program), launched in 2009 in coordination with the Monongalia County Board of Education. Dr. Shulman heads up the program, which targets children who don’t have a dental home. They ride buses from their school to WVU, get dental treatment, and are bused back to school. Parents are encouraged to attend with their children.

Professor Jay Dyer, DDS, answers questions from the patient’s mother.

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“A number of kids had never seen a dentist and many had large amounts of decay,” Shulman said. “But we have seen significant improvements. One teacher wrote to us about the huge difference she saw in a child who had been a mediocre student before and is now excelling. This is a child who had a mouth full of decay, needed 10 to 12 extractions, and a few restorations. The teacher said the student’s personality has totally turned around.” With rave reviews from teachers and parents, Shulman said, they are adding an additional school in Monongalia County and are talking about expanding to two other counties.

“I’d like to see the pediatric clinic full every morning with CHOMP patients,” Veselicky said. The Oral Health Initiative will also help the School of Dentistry establish new programs to support the efforts of oral health educators in the state, create an online community and educational resources, and collect data about the efficacy of oral health programs. Veselicky said the school will partner with WVU’s Perley Isaac Reed School of Journalism to help develop a public education campaign that would encourage parents to take their children to the dentist before their first birthday, to use fluoridated water, to cut down on foods that are high in sugar, and more. “Dental decay is the number one chronic disease in humans,” Veselicky said. “We really need to do something about that.”

Volunteer Projects Beyond the classroom and the educational opportunities provided by WVRHEP, students and faculty of the School of Dentistry take oral health outreach one step further through a variety of volunteer projects.

“The MOM Projects brought attention to the great need for oral health care services in our state,” she said. “But they are not long term solutions. Many people who stood in line were turned away. Others, especially the medically compromised patients, could not stand in line to be seen. The MOM Project does not give people a dental home.”

“Students need to be exposed to other populations, and the athletes who participate in the Special Olympics make up a special population with special oral health needs,” Dr. Meckstroth said. “I want our students to think about how to reach out and meet the needs of this population.”

In the Eastern Panhandle, the MOM Project led to the opening of the new Healthy Smiles Dental Clinic in Martinsburg in late 2009. The clinic offers dental care on a sliding fee scale, making it much more affordable. Volunteers also bring oral health services to the West Virginia Special Olympics. Richard Meckstroth, DDS, chair of dental practice and rural health, rounds up 25-30 volunteers to participate in the Special Smiles program, which provides dental screenings, oral health information, and proper brushing and flossing instructions to the athletes who participate in the games.

The 2008 Orna Shanley Prize for Enhancing Access to Care was awarded to the WVU School of Dentistry. The prize recognizes academic dental institutions and their innovative approaches to addressing access to care issues. It is sponsored by The American Dental Education Association and the International Federation of Dental Educators and Associations.

Take, for example, the Mission of Mercy (MOM) Project. Launched in the summer of 2008 in the Eastern Panhandle, the MOM Project provides exams, X-rays, cleanings, fluoride treatments, fillings, extractions, root canals, and denture services to underserved patients. In the first year, more than 1,100 patients crowded a giant temporary dental clinic in Hedgesville. Forty-seven students and faculty from the School of Dentistry volunteered their time for the event. The next year, the MOM Project expanded to two locations—Hedgesville and Parkersburg—and more than doubled the number of patients. Some stood in line all night to receive care. Many of them, Veselicky said, cried tears of joy in appreciation for receiving dental services.

Volunteers from the WVU School of Dentistry saw more than 1,200 patients at the temporary dental clinic set up at Hedgesville High School as part of the Mission of Mercy Project in June 2009.

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“I came broken, and they put me together again.”

Saving Douglas Price

A trauma team’s heroic efforts by Andrea Brunais

One moment Douglas Price was sawing branches off his neighbor’s tree at a height of 53 feet. The next he slammed into the ground. The fall left him with a broken neck and other life-threatening injuries. Emergency rescuers found the Masontown resident with face bloodied, teeth smashed, left eye gouged, left femur broken so badly the entire leg rotated grotesquely.

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Amazingly, he was conscious, though he remembers none of it. He was going into shock, which could have killed him, too. Though not discovered until he arrived at WVU Hospitals, Price suffered a ruptured aorta—an injury similar to the one that proved fatal to Dodi Fayed in the crash that also killed Princess Diana of Wales. Before help arrived, Price hoisted himself up and said to his wife, “Honey, I think I’ve really done it this time.” His knees had sunk six inches into the earth. “My whole face was crushed. A lot of my teeth were broken,” he says now. “They told my wife I had zero chance of living. When I got to the hospital, I think I was already dead.” “I get chill bumps when I think about the fact that this man survived,” says Sandra L. “Sam” Cotton, RN, the nurse practitioner who is Price’s primary healthcare provider. “If he had outside bruises, that didn’t tell the story of what was going on inside him.” A ground ambulance crew quieted him— “wrapped him up like a baked potato in foil,” Cotton said—and stabilized him until the air ambulance arrived. “Had they not immobilized him, he could have been paralyzed,” Cotton says. “His first vertebra was broken, the one responsible for holding the head up. He could have died with one wrong move.” Lifting off the roof of WVU Hospitals, the HealthNet Aeromedical crew landed in Masontown at 3:47 p.m., put Price on oxygen, started an IV, and took off after spending only seven minutes on the ground. As they flew back to Morgantown, dozens of pagers went off inside WVU Hospitals as the call went out to mobilize the Jon Michael Moore Trauma Center team. As the helicopter lowered to the roof, the trauma team—including surgeons, respiratory therapists, X-ray technicians, ER doctors and nurses, and others—stood ready in the Emergency Department.

By 4:15 p.m. Price was in the Emergency Department with medical personnel swarming around him. Records show he was conscious, answering questions, though his memory of that day is gone. At 4:20 p.m., he got his first dose of pain medicine. The trauma team catalogued the damage to Price’s body. As they performed lab tests, CT scans, and other assessments, they called in more surgeons to deal with his broken nose, facial bones, and smashed eye, not to mention his broken wrist and leg.

Hospitals are accustomed to seeing injuries as severe as Price’s. From five to eight times each day, the trauma team’s pagers go off, and a team assembles as Price’s did. Mining accidents, car wrecks, cases of severe abuse, and gunshot wounds all call for the assembly of highly skilled surgeons and other medical professionals.

But all of that would have to wait. Soon after Price arrived, doctors discovered the ruptured aorta, the most urgent lifethreatening injury.

“That’s why we’re here,” she says.

Vascular surgeon Alexandre C. d’Audiffret, MD, a surgeon experienced in wartime casualties, was called in immediately. He recommended a novel procedure in which a stent would be inserted via the groin to stop the ruptured aorta’s bleeding.

“Just as important is the role of ICU, the intensive care unit,” Dr. Wilson explains. Doctors, nurses, and therapists in the ICU monitor the patient’s progress, stay alert for any setbacks, manage medications, and more.

A less experienced surgeon might have used a graft and sewn the injury shut, Dr. d’Audiffret explains. “It works, but the complications and mortality rates of doing the procedure the old way are much higher.” So much was wrong with Douglas Price, it was two days before the other surgical teams were cleared to repair his broken left leg and five days before they could restructure his face. Price himself knew nothing about the fall until 28 days later when he woke up at WVU Hospitals. Details came later: how emergency personnel told his wife he would be lucky to survive the trip to the hospital, how even in the emergency room he wasn’t expected to live. Alison Wilson, MD, chief of the Division of Trauma, Emergency Surgery, and Surgical Critical Care, says trauma teams at WVU

And almost every day, someone is admitted to the trauma service with injuries as dramatic as Price’s.

As for Price’s ICU experience, he remembers intense nightmares but recalls nothing of the delusions that plagued him as he was pumped up with pain and other drugs. “My wife had been there every day,” he said. “I don’t recall being awake. I had terrible dreams; I’ll never in my life forget the dreams I had.” Mental health teams came in from Chestnut Ridge Center to help calm the agitated and hallucinating man. “When I look back at all that he has been through, I’m in constant amazement that he survived,” Cotton says. After the accident, Price took part in physical therapy to learn to walk again and physical therapy for his broken neck. “The first six months was a misery,” he remembers. But Price knows he is lucky. “I have got to have angels hanging all over me,” he says. Of his doctors, he says: “I love them. I came broken, and they put me together again. I appreciate life more than I did before the accident. I want to cry every time I see the doctors because I’m so proud of them.”

“They brought me back to life.” Spring 2010 | 15

Children with faulty hearts may need a lifetime of care. At WVU, a nationally recognized team of pediatric specialists starts that care even before birth.

Caring for

Kids’ Hearts

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by Amy Johns


hen pediatric cardiologist Larry Rhodes, MD, was lured away from West Virginia University in 1995 by one of the world’s most renowned children’s medical centers, he thought he’d found his dream job in Philadelphia. He was flattered by the opportunity, which reflected his great expertise in caring for children’s hearts and his excellent education from WVU.

But Dr. Rhodes grew up in the hills of West Virginia, and as any native will tell you, those roots are strong. He returned to WVU 10 years later, older and wiser.

“As you get older, your priorities switch,” Rhodes says. “I came back because this is where I belong.”

With his years of experience at top-rated Boston Children’s and at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, he is unafraid to compare the excellence of heart care at WVU to any program in the country. “I’m not telling you what I think,” Rhodes says. “It’s what I know.”

WVU’s pediatric heart program has a range of expertise unmatched in the region. It includes a multidisciplinary team of pediatric cardiologists, intensivists, anesthesiologists, nurses, perfusionists, and more. It also has the state’s only pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon and the only two pediatric electrophysiologists, who treat abnormal heart rhythms.

Children born with holes in their heart, malfunctioning valves, inadequate blood flow, or other serious heart problems rely on this team to save their lives. Care often begins before birth, or when they’re newborn, through childhood and adolescence.

As a young doctor at WVU, Rhodes learned to care for children’s hearts from some of the founding specialists of WVU Children’s Hospital. Since his return to Morgantown, he has once again had the opportunity to work with a mentor from those early days, William Neal, MD. Rhodes says it is Dr. Neal more than anyone who laid the foundations for excellence in children’s heart care at WVU. Early on, Neal realized that success requires both a strong heart team in Morgantown, and a supportive network throughout West Virginia that would draw in the patients who need heart care, and make sure

they continued to benefit from it for years after their treatment at the University. Neal established outreach clinics across the state, where he and other physicians travel to see young patients close to their homes.

Today, Neal, Rhodes, and their colleagues John Philips, MD; Stanley Einzig, MD; Arpy Balian, MD; and Malek El Yaman, MD, put thousands of miles on their cars each year to visit patients at kids’ heart clinics in Wheeling, Beckley, Parkersburg, Princeton, Lewisburg, Huntington, and Martinsburg. They work closely with each other and with the patient’s pediatrician or family physician to make sure there are no gaps in care.

West Virginia’s One and Only “Dr. Gus”

One of the enduring strengths of children’s heart care at WVU is near-legendary surgeon Robert Gustafson, MD. According to Rhodes, “Dr. Gus,” as he is affectionately known to his patients and their families, is among the very best pediatric heart surgeons in the country. He is also West Virginia’s only pediatric heart surgeon, performing more than 400 procedures per year.

The Pediatric Cardiology team includes (l-r) Larry Rhodes, MD; John Philips, MD; Stanley Einzig, MD; William Neal, MD; Arpy Balian, MD; Tracy Coup, CPNP; and Malek El Yaman, MD.

“When you have a surgeon as good as Gus, I know my patients get top quality here,” Rhodes says.

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Spring 2010 | 17

“They whisked him away as soon as he was born,” recalls Clifton Inman’s mother, Sarah. “I had an uneventful pregnancy and we didn’t immediately realize that anything was wrong.” The attending pediatrician at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Parkersburg soon delivered some bad news: Clifton was born blue—a sign of a heart disorder—and needed an immediate transfer to WVU Children’s Hospital. Within minutes he was in a helicopter on his way to Morgantown. By the time his worried parents arrived, Clifton had already received his first procedure. Two days later, Dr. Gustafson performed open heart surgery, correcting transposition of the great arteries and a ventricular septal defect. After 18 days in the hospital, he was healthy enough to go home. Today, Clifton is thriving. He receives regular follow-up care from Dr. Rhodes at the pediatric outreach clinic in Parkersburg. “He may need more surgery down the line,” says Sarah, “but from the looks of things, we think he’s cured.” continued from previous page

Like Rhodes, Dr. Gustafson is also a native of West Virginia, and a graduate of the WVU School of Medicine. He was fellowship trained at Boston Children’s Hospital, before returning to WVU in 1984 to lead the pediatric cardiothoracic surgery team.

“From the operating room to the intensive care units, we’ve evolved into a family, taking care of the children,” Gustafson says. Often, the patients Gustafson treats as infants will require additional care as they and their vulnerable hearts grow.

Chelsea Grubb of Morgantown is 14 years old and is on her third pacemaker. She has had seven open heart surgeries. 18 | WVUhealth

In a few years, she will likely need another to replace an artificial valve.

Chelsea was born with various heart problems, including atrial septal defect, ventricular septal defect, and tricuspid valve regurgitation. Her issues were so complicated, there were many times her family came close to losing her. But Dr. Gus and the team at WVU Children’s Hospital saved her. Chelsea goes to school, and while small for her age, is a very active teenager. Her mother, Tammy, calls Chelsea a miracle child.

“She’s one of ‘Dr. Gus’ kids.’ I like that. And he said she will always be one of his kids, even when she’s all grown up,” Grubb says.

Gustafson says, “What I’m most proud about is that we have been able to fulfill our primary mission—to make sure kids don’t have to leave West Virginia to get first-class heart care.”

Success Brings New Challenges Rhodes and Gustafson are experts in diagnosing and treating flawed hearts in children, but more and more lately, they’re also caring for grown-up heart patients who are also coping with arthritis, osteoporosis, or menopause. Rhodes says diseases of middle age are not exactly their area of expertise.

But that’s just fine with his patients. If it weren’t for Rhodes, Gustafson, and their colleagues, they wouldn’t be alive today to have achy joints and hot flashes. Many survivors of congenital heart defects are now adults.

“They’re like pioneers,” Rhodes says. “We were so concerned about getting these babies to survive so they could go to school—we never thought about who’s going to take care of them as adults.” They still need care for their heart issues, and now, also for the everyday issues of aging.

So at WVU, the heart specialists for adults and children are working together, teaching and learning from each other, thanks to the Congenital Heart Program. The program includes a comprehensive, multidisciplinary clinic to treat adult patients. The pediatric heart specialists are consulted when adults with congenital heart problems are hospitalized for other reasons.

Rhodes says it’s not uncommon for a 40-year-old patient to be admitted to the WVU Children’s Hospital Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, because nurses there know how to care for patients with congenital heart disease.

The CARDIAC Project Stopping Heart Disease Early Twelve years ago in Boone County, a group of healthcare professionals and educators led by WVU pediatric cardiologist Bill Neal, MD, began screening fifth graders at Sherman Elementary School for heart disease risk factors. Today, 100,000 children later, the statewide CARDIAC Project is still going strong. The Coronary Artery Risk Detection in Appalachian Communities (CARDIAC) Project was started with a goal of reducing the high rates of heart disease and diabetes in West Virginia. Dr. Neal and his colleagues believed that if young children made changes at an early age, they would grow to be a healthier generation than their parents. “Forty-seven percent of fifth graders in this state are overweight. Six percent are morbidly obese,” Neal said. “Unless we reverse the prevalence of obesity in West Virginia, for the first time in history our children will have shorter life expectancies than their parents. “The CARDIAC Project is making great strides, working to change those statistics.” Megan Atkins was one of the first students screened in Boone County. Blood tests at the time showed that she had high cholesterol, even though she was thin and an athlete. Through the CARDIAC Project, Atkins learned to eat healthier foods and lowered her cholesterol. Now 22 years old and a senior at WVU, Atkins is graduating with a degree in exercise physiology. She plans to enroll in graduate school here to study public health. Atkins says she hopes to inspire other people to get healthier. “One of the things I learned is that you’re never too young to start,” Megan said. Neal and the CARDIAC Project have been recognized by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as a national leader in assessing the health risk factors of children.

Rhodes says, “We are actually one of the few specialties in medicine that can take care of patients from before they’re born, through childhood, and once again into their adult life.”

Brian Ballentine contributed to this story.

Spring 2010 | 19


hernobyl’s Children by Jeff Driggs

Children from Belarus, along with members of their host families, pose for a group picture in a waiting room at the WVU clinic in Charleston.

Many victims of Chernobyl were not yet born when the worst nuclear power plant disaster in history occurred in 1986. Chernobyl is in Ukraine, but prevailing winds carried about 70 percent of the radiation fallout to neighboring Belarus. “Chernobyl did a wonderful job of contaminating the world,” said Steven Artz, MD. An endocrinologist and professor of internal medicine at WVU’s Charleston Division, Dr. Artz is a long-time participant in an international program coordinated by the American Belarus Relief Organization. Dangerous levels of radiation still exist in Belarus, and children born in the region since 1986 have high rates of cancer, heart disease, bone disorders, and other illnesses. In the past 20 years some 3,100 Belarusian children have travelled to the U.S. for medical review and treatment, including more than a dozen each summer to Charleston. • Dima told officials at his orphanage he was having trouble swallowing and sleeping. He was treated for a sore throat. Upon his visit to West Virginia two years ago, he was diagnosed with thyroid cancer.

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Patients are monitored annually to check for abnormalities in their blood work and vital signs.

• Masha, 16, suffers from hyperthyroidism. With her father’s death and her mother’s sudden loss of employment, she is trying to find work. But in her country she is a social outcast. • Pasha, who lives about 50 miles from Chernobyl, has had an enlarged thyroid since he was 10. “Good morning, my Papa and Mama for six weeks!” he greeted his host family, the Goins, on the first of his seven annual visits to Charleston. “In Belarus everyone has an abnormal thyroid, and doctors usually ignore problems or minimize the risk,” said Kathy Goins, a volunteer host with the program. According to Artz, “The idea is to give the children six weeks away from the radiation. If we see something unusual in their blood tests, we bring the children back for additional testing. This is part of an ongoing longitudinal study of the incidence of radiation-induced injury.” Belarusian pediatrician Tatsiana Rylkova, MD, accompanied the children on a recent visit to the WVU clinic in Charleston. Artz’s examination of a young man

A Personal Connection by Michelle Moore

Steven Artz, MD, of WVU’s Charleston Division has worked with sick children from Belarus for about 15 years. Because of his family history, Dr. Artz says, he shares a deeper connection with them than his role as their doctor. Back around the turn of the 20th century, his great-grandfather Bernard Shulman made wooden shingles for a living in the same part of Eastern Europe. One day while he was working, a falling tree hit and killed him. With the loss of her husband and breadwinner, Ada Shulman feared she wouldn’t be able to care for her family. She made the difficult decision to send her young children to live with relatives in America. “She literally put tags on the kids,” Artz said, “three boys and the girl, and put them on the train for Bremen.” “My grandfather ended up in New York City,” Artz said, “and when I was a kid, like many people in New York City, we lived with our grandparents.”

Steven Artz, MD, (left) provides care for children and teenagers whose medical issues are linked to the radioactive fallout from the Chernobyl reactor disaster.

with thyroid abnormalities led to a diagnosis of a malignancy. Back in Belarus a successful thyroidectomy saved the young man’s life. “Dr. Artz made a victory for this child,” Dr. Rylkova said.

Through the years, Artz heard stories about his older relatives: their trip to America, a long-lost brother in Arizona, and their mother who joined the children four years after putting them on the train. Artz can’t help but wonder what might have happened had his grandfather never left Belarus. He knows that if his family had stayed, they inevitably would have been exposed to the radiation from the Chernobyl accident. And his children, like these kids for whom he feels such sympathy, could be suffering with the same health problems.

Others, like Dima, may not be as lucky. The Belarusian government would not allow Dima to have cancer surgery in the U.S. But when doctors in Belarus eventually performed the surgery, they removed only part of Dima’s thyroid, leaving him at greater risk of recurrence. Children in the program range from 7 to 17. “This past year was Pasha’s last in the program—he will be too old to come back,” Goins said. “It was very hard to say goodbye. God willing, we will visit him in Belarus.” Other children will take Pasha’s place. “Unfortunately,” said Artz, “the effects of the Chernobyl disaster will be felt forever.” Joseph and Rose Shulman. Rose was born in Patterson, NJ. Spring 2010 | 21

Recovery Act Stimulates WVU Health Research by Bill Case

Early in 2009 the federal government poured billions of dollars into funding projects that could quickly get people back to work. The most visible effects were the “shovel-ready” highway and infrastructure projects that were fast-tracked by state and local governments. But the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) also injected a new stream of funding into the country’s health research laboratories. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) will receive $10.4 billion through the Recovery Act for use through September 2010. Nearly $20 million has been allocated to the Health Sciences Center, all of it based on a competitive peer review process. WVU’s largest grant so far will provide $14.5 million to build a new biomedical research facility. It was proposed by a team of researchers led by Stanley Yokota, PhD, of the School of Medicine.

“This grant will help us meet a long-felt need at the Health Sciences Center—the construction of a fully state-of-the-art facility to house and care for research animals,” said Christopher C. Colenda, MD, MPH, WVU’s chancellor for health sciences. “The funding of this project by the NIH is a recognition of the quality of the research conducted by our faculty, and their confidence in our ability to continue and expand this work.” Each WVU researcher who wanted to tap into the new funds had to quickly organize a research proposal that could withstand the scrutiny of scientific reviewers. Another $5 million in grants has been awarded to more than a dozen researchers in the schools of Medicine and Pharmacy. The grants range from laboratory studies to statistical analysis of health data to training funds for future researchers. Several labs were able to add staff or purchase vital research equipment and supplies.

By late 2009, ARRA funds had already resulted in at least one new published research paper: “Nanoparticle Inhalation Impairs Coronary Microvascular Reactivity via a Local Reactive Oxygen Species-Dependent Mechanism” appeared in the online journal Cardiovascular Toxicology in December, thanks to the work of six researchers led by Timothy Nurkiewicz, PhD, in the School of Medicine. 22 | WVUhealth

Research programs funded by the Recovery Act include: • The Biology of Learning Bernard Schreurs, PhD, is examining the changes that take place in individual cells in an animal brain as learning takes place.

• Long-term Effects of Medical Injuries Mary Carter, PhD, is analyzing the health records of thousands of senior citizens to measure the impact of adverse medical events on long-term health.

• Herbicide Exposure and Immune Function John Barnett, PhD, is examining the lifelong immune system impact of prenatal exposure to the herbicide atrazine.

• Health Effects of Nanoparticles Timothy Nurkiewicz, PhD, and Bing-Hua Jiang, PhD, are studying the biological effects of exposure to nanoparticles.

• Summer Internships Rae Matsumoto, PhD, will bring summer research interns to WVU to work with researchers studying the effects of drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine.

• Regulation of Lung Cell Death Yon Rojanasakul, PhD, is working to determine how and why cancer cells survive beyond the lifespans of normal cells.

• Getting to the Bottom of Conflicting Studies George A. Kelley, DA, will review hundreds of past studies on aerobic exercise, diet and cholesterol.

• Improving Lung Cancer Survival Lan Guo, PhD, is studying ways to improve the five-year survival rate for persons with a recurrence of lung cancer.

• Health Info and Coaching Ann Chester, PhD, is developing a web portal to help high school students manage their health and share health information.

• Developing New Psychiatric Drugs James O’Donnell, PhD, is working to identify a new biological target for drugs that treat depression and anxiety. He also leads a program that provides rigorous research training to students in the behavioral and biomedical sciences.

• Public Health Education Rachel Abraham, MD, MPH, created a dual-degree program for health professions students to be certified in public health.

• Intestinal Virus Research Christopher Cuff, PhD, is studying how cells in the diet create defenses against waterand food-borne disease.

• Core Facilities for Neurosciences Research George Spirou, PhD, won three ARRA grants, including funding for core laboratory facilities that serve many researchers across the University.

• Digestive Processes and Gallstones Uma Sundaram, MD, is adding a postdoctoral fellow to the West Virginia Clinical and Translational Science Institute to conduct laboratory studies on development of gallstones.

• Improving Drug Safety and Effectiveness Peter Gannett, PhD, will develop new methods to determine enzyme kinetics so that researchers can better predict how the body will use a medication.

Spring 2010 | 23


WVU Hospitals Recognized for Quality Care by Stephanie Bock WVU Hospitals is the first—and only—hospital in West Virginia to receive the prestigious Magnet designation, which recognizes nursing excellence. The hospital’s Magnet Hospital status was renewed by the American Nurses Credentialing Center in late 2009.

The recognition is one of many signs that the quality of patient care available at WVU Hospitals ranks among the best in the country. “Only 28 academic medical centers and less than six percent of all hospitals in the United States have Magnet status,” said Dottie Oakes, RN, vice president and chief nursing officer. “It’s one of the highest recognitions available to healthcare institutions.” Bruce McClymonds, the hospital’s president and chief executive officer, said that everyone in the hospital is reminded daily of the need to focus on delivering quality care to patients. “Excellence is the only standard we can accept. Our success is dependent on our quality efforts— and the faculty, staff, and students who work here understand that.”

WVU Hospitals, along with University Health Associates, took a big step toward improving quality when they made a major investment in information technology, sharing patient records, images, and other crucial health data across hospital departments, medical clinics, and other sites where WVU provides care. “Our new Merlin system is allowing us to improve clinical outcomes, quality, and patient safety, as well as patient and provider satisfaction,” said Mary Lynne Withrow, RN, interim director of adult cardiac services. “It’s a win-win for everyone involved.” Recruitment and retention efforts are also helping WVU Hospitals achieve its quality goals. “It’s the people providing the care that ultimately make the difference in our patients’ lives,” said McClymonds. “We’re constantly striving to hire the ‘best and brightest’ and to be the region’s ‘employer of choice.’” WVU Hospitals was recently recognized by AARP as a best employer. It was one of only 15 healthcare organizations nationwide to achieve that designation. “It’s an exciting time,” said McClymonds. “Others around the country are taking notice of what’s happening here, and I’m confident that the best is yet to come.”

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The New WVU Heart Institute

Built on Decades of Cardiac Excellence by Kim Fetty As soon as you step off the elevator, you know you’re in a special place. The doors open to a view more associated with a spa than a doctor’s office. This is the new home of the WVU Heart Institute. Located at Suncrest Towne Centre in Morgantown, the 16,000-squarefoot facility is about a mile away from the Health Sciences campus. Cardiologists, surgeons, and rehabilitation specialists have brought their services together in this $3 million, state-of-theart center to meet the growing demand for heart care. From examinations to stress tests, all outpatient visits will be in this new location. Robert Beto, MD, cardiologist and director of the WVU Heart Institute, said the new building meets the need for expanding outpatient services. Situated on two floors, the Heart Institute includes 20 exam rooms, two triage rooms, a procedure room, five stress labs, an EKG room, an ultrasound room, and an X-ray room, plus several work areas for the physicians and staff. A 1,200-square-foot rehabilitation facility, with locker rooms and showers, is located on the first floor. For decades, the WVU heart team has performed openheart surgery and has provided

intervention, management, and rehabilitation for cardiac patients with a range of problems, from congenital heart issues to heart attacks. New technologies, such as minimally invasive cardiac surgery, are less traumatic for patients, so hospital stays are shorter. More and more heart care is provided in the office and rehabilitation setting. As Heart Institute administrator Wayne Cochran notes, “Instead of having to go to many different areas—the lab in one building, the doctor’s office in another—our one-stop shop makes outpatient cardiac care more convenient for the patient.” The patient’s comfort is an obvious priority. Subdued lighting, warm colors, and plush furnishings invite visitors to unwind in the waiting area. The décor is earthy and relaxing, even in the exam and testing rooms. “We see larger numbers of outpatients and have more noninvasive testing,” Dr. Beto said. In the first two weeks in the new facility, physicians saw 800 patients. The cardiac specialists at the Heart Institute address a multitude of concerns through diagnostic procedures such as non-invasive cardiovascular imaging, including nuclear stress testing, electro-

cardiograms, chest X-rays, and other tests. Heart surgery and catheterizations will still be performed at Ruby Memorial Hospital, but most outpatient appointments and pre-testing will be done at the new location. The facility is online with the hospital, tapping into the electronic medical records system. Through this system, known as “Merlin,” doctors can share patient information from either location while they plan surgery or other treatment. The Heart Institute also has a more-efficient, 24-hour cardiac call center with only one phone number for patients and referring physicians. This is a major change, Cochran said. “You only have to call one number to reach someone who can connect you with the appropriate person or department.”

Visit for more information about the WVU Heart Institute.

Spring 2010 | 25

Students Organize

Pharmacy Research Day by Amy Newton

Michael Seminerio, a doctoral student in the School of Pharmacy Department of Basic Pharmaceutical Sciences, lives to do research. Having attended various research seminars and presentations, Seminerio wondered how researchers could be brought together to foster collaboration on projects throughout all health sciences disciplines.

“I think it is significant that the School implemented a research day to show people across the Health Sciences Center the importance of research as a whole,” said Seminerio. “It was also good for people to realize some of the research going on within the School of Pharmacy and how vital it is in the grand scheme of health sciences.” The event featured oral presentations, a career panel discussion for pharmacy and graduate students, and a poster session of ongoing research by HSC faculty and students.

Dr. Charles Ponte and fourth-year Pharm.D. students Jeremy McCourt and Daniel Harrison

“As a basic science graduate student, I wanted to learn more about the research being conducted in other departments in the school,” said Seminerio. “I had attended research retreats sponsored by other programs and thought, ‘why don’t we have one in pharmacy?’” Thus, the School of Pharmacy Research Day was implemented. Seminerio and fellow graduate students Matthew Robson; Neel Shah; Elvonna Atkins; and pharmacy student, Mark Medina, coordinated the event. The group was supervised by Rae Matsumoto, PhD, associate dean for research and graduate programs.

“Being that many of the participants and event attendees are themselves involved in research, I hope the Research Day made everyone realize the importance of bringing students and faculty from multiple disciplines together and discussing current and future research interests,” said Seminerio. “Researchers can get caught up in our own projects and forget all the other great studies going on at the Health Sciences Center. We have received an abundant amount of positive feedback from students to faculty to administration. I really felt the research day was a huge success and will continue to be a great event for years to come.”

Major Gift to Fund WVU Charleston Research Initiative The Maier Foundation has pledged $1 million to establish the William J. Maier Jr. Chair of Research at the Charleston Division of the West Virginia University School of Medicine.  The gift is expected to be matched under the “Bucks for Brains” program with an additional $1 million from the West Virginia Research Trust Fund, creating the largest endowment ever to advance biomedical research in the Kanawha Valley.  “The ‘Bucks for Brains’ matching grant component was a compelling

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aspect of the request from WVU,” said Ed Maier of the Maier Foundation.   “This would not have happened now were it not for the matching funds from the state of West Virginia.” West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin III, who proposed “Bucks for Brains” in his 2008 State of the State address, thanked the Maier family and the Maier Foundation for their generosity and investment, reminding a standing-room-only crowd at the announcement of the family’s decades of support to WVU. “The Maiers

have shown time and again their commitment to West Virginia and its economic growth.” This endowment will fund a faculty position dedicated to basic, applied, and transitional research projects, said Chancellor Christopher C. Colenda, MD, MPH. “WVU is extremely grateful to the Maier Foundation for this gift, and to Governor Manchin and the Legislature for providing the matching grant that will allow us to create a $2 million endowment for Charleston research activities.”

Dr. France Goes to Haiti

by Angela Jones

In mid-January, a catastrophic earthquake shook Haiti to its core. Port-au-Prince, its capital city, was left in ruins. And thousands of people were desperately in need of medical care. When the call for help came, John France, MD, answered it. Dr. France, a professor in WVU’s Department of Orthopaedics, traveled to Haiti as a member of the International Medical Surgical Response Team (IMSuRT), which he joined in 2001 following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11. This trip marked his first international deployment with the group.

“They needed a lot of orthopaedic surgeons, and it seemed like the right thing to do.” France said he was familiar with Haiti after having been there with the military in 1994. “It’s an ungodly place. The poorest people in the United States are well off compared to those in Port-au-Prince. It’s poverty beyond imagination. There’s no running water, no sewage, and now, it’s basically been leveled to the ground.” After meeting with fellow IMSuRT members in Atlanta, France arrived in Haiti on Jan. 23. During his two weeks there, the group treated about 1,300 patients and performed between 30 to 40 surgeries. The team worked in a tent hospital because the actual hospitals were uninhabitable. The patients he saw were both adults and children who had crush injuries or needed wound debridement. In retrospect, France said, the one thing that has stuck with him the most is the gratitude of the Haitian people. “It gave me a new appreciation for what we have here. The people there were happy and grateful for anything they were given, and they had no expectations,” he said. “It gave me a whole new appreciation for what I have and for our medical system.”

Photos: John France Spring 2010 | 27

School of Nursing

Celebrates Anniversary

A group of WVU Nursing faculty, staff and alumni, including two members of the first graduating class, was present at the State Capitol Jan. 19 when Governor Manchin issued a proclamation honoring 50 years of nursing education at WVU. For more information on School of Nursing 50th Celebration activities, please visit

Top 10 for WVU SOM The West Virginia University School of Medicine has been named one of the top 10 schools of medicine in the country for rural medicine. WVU made the top 10 list for the second time in U.S. News & World Report’s 2011 edition of “America’s Best Graduate Schools.” The rankings are based on ratings by medical school deans and senior faculty in the nation’s 125 accredited medical schools and 20 accredited schools of osteopathic medicine. The School of Medicine also was listed in the top 50 for primary care. The School of Nursing’s masters’ program earned high marks. School of Medicine students learn and care for patients in rural areas of West Virginia as part of the requirements for graduation. They work in partnership with

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rural communities and with other health care providers in rural clinics across the state. About half of WVU School of Medicine graduates choose to practice in primary care areas, such as family medicine, internal medicine, emergency medicine, and pediatrics. The number of physicians who practice in rural, underserved communities has increased by 200 percent in recent years.

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WVU Health Magazine Spring 2010