June 2012 Newsletter

Department of Medicine eNewsletter
June 2012
:: Interview
:: Department News
:: Department Events
:: Leadership Minutes

2012 Spring Dinner Awards

Congratulations to our faculty, residents and fellows who were recognized for their hard-work at Annual Spring Dinner.


Master Clinician Educator Award

Sarah Augustine

Rajesh Chandra

Jay Wish

Research Awards

Andrew Lavik

Chris Ryder

Daniele Corridoni


Vijay Narandran

Emile Mehanna

James Cireddu

Sumit Bose


Ashely Rosko

Sebastian Kurz

Jennifer Eads

Chris Longenecker


Diana L. Ramirez-Bergeron

Evi Stavrou

Xudong Liao

Ambulatory Excellence

Megha Ambati

Faculty Teacher of the Year

Madan Mohan

Jeffrey Solomon

Resident Clerkship Teaching Award

Charles Lo Presti

Sunit Chaudhry

Faculty Clerkship Teaching Award

Ismail Dreshaj

Agre Award/Faculty Research Teaching Award

Erik van Lunteren

Norman Gordon Award

Deema Ismail

Peter Morgan Award

Kavita Krishnasamy

Willard A. Bernbaum Award

Marty Tam

Harold C. Klein Award

Kevin Cronley

Medicine/Pediatrics Resident of the Year

Babak Moini

Charles C.J. Carpenter Award

Varun Sundaram

Leadership Council
June 11, 2012

Chair ::

R. Walsh


Present ::

K. Armitage

A. Askari

R. Bonomo

F. Creighton
R. Hejal

T. Hostetter

D. Hricik

M. Jain

A. Kistemaker

N. Meropol

R. Salata

L. Sayyed Kassem

D. Simon

R. Walsh


Recorded by ::
A. Staruch
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Welcoem to the Department of Medicine Agre Society
department interview

We sat down with Dr. Tom Hostetter, Vice Chair of Research, to discuss the changes currently taking place in the research industry and strategies the Department of Medicine is using to sustain its research excellence.

What are you thoughts on the long-term sustainability of basic research as we know it today, given the changes with the NIH salary cap, funding lines, and overall budget?

The fact that currently there are fewer trainees who are interested in laboratory-based, translational and clinical research is an issue that stands outside of funding.


NIH funding is unlikely to increase over the next few years. Indeed, if the worst scenarios in the budget process unfold in January, NIH stands to further cut 9% of its funding. Even if we are lucky to maintain the current level of budget, inflationary effects will be substantial. Though the prospects of NIH funding are not promising, NIH will continue to be an important force, almost surely the most important force, in supporting high quality investigators and institutions. The Department of Medicine should aspire to be one of those institutions.

There are other federal government agencies that fund research, though not at the level of NIH, for example Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). The agency concentrates on assessment of evidence and comparative effectiveness of research and has recently seen an increase in budget. Another potential resource is Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) that was part of the Affordable Care Act and would be doing clinical and comparative effectiveness research. PCORI had already begun to give out research grants and its budget is likely to increase if the Affordable Care Act remains in effect. In addition, the VA has always been a major source of research support for medical investigators.


We are currently experiencing a shift in research funding as we are moving away from relying solely on NIH and diversifying financial support of research programs by looking outside of the federal sector. Research opportunities that exist outside of the federal government include non-profit groups like the American Heart Association, American Society of Nephrology, American Cancer Society as well as commercial and non-profit companies.



The research "team" concept has seemingly gained favor recently. Do you see interdisciplinary teams made up of clinical and basic science researchers as value added in accelerating discovery and increasing funding potential?


I believe so. It seems that funding agencies, NIH in particular, are interested in the team approach. It appears that the concept of the team has been widespread in cancer research, though it is broadly applicable. It would be worthwhile for the Department of Medicine to increase its efforts in developing and expanding multi PI grants.



In many places, philanthropy for research-related activities lags "giving" to clinical programs. What are your thoughts on how to increase the "giving" potential to our research programs in Medicine?

The Department of Medicine has seen some great examples where contributions to research programs have made a substantial impact. One of the recent philanthropy-supported initiatives is the Harrington Project with a mission to discover and develop medical breakthroughs.


Potential donors need to be informed and educated about the investments they are making. An investment into a research program is a long-term investment not only in the economic sense, but also in the sense of developing new ideas which may give rise in turn to novel pharmaceutical products and medical devices. We must remember that up until now U.S. has been the leader in these industries and has experienced great economic rewards from it. More important than the economic return, however, is the investment into future generations to create better healthcare and ultimately prevent people from becoming patients. Making a gift to accomplish this goal is probably the most generous type of giving.



Can you give our readers your early assessment of potential new collaborative interfaces the Department might consider?

Two areas that particularly stand out for fruitful collaborations would be Genetics and Epidemiology. Collaborations with these departments would yield a great opportunity to develop strong interdisciplinary teams. In addition, the Department of Medicine should capitalize on its proximity to Veterans Administration, Metro Health Medical Center, and Cleveland Clinic.



Finally, please give us your thoughts on the role industry sponsored research should play in a Department of Medicine today. Should one expect this type of research, in an environment such as ours, to exceed 10-15% of the total funding portfolio?


There is no magic number. However, given the fact that federal funding will be declining, industry appears to be a major sector we should be tapping into in order to increase our research funding. Therefore, the Department of Medicine should aspire to increase the funding portfolio to include three types of industry-sponsored research - investigator initiated, industry initiated, and industry initiated projects congruent with individual investigator's interest. Partnerships like these will help in determining logistical and economical feasibility of a study. The new access to COS Pivot System may prove useful to identify potential research, funding, and collaboration opportunities both locally and globally. (To explore Pivot, please visit http://pivot.cos.com/)

department news report
Division of Gastroenterology and Liver Disease

During May 2012, members of the Division of Gastroenterology & Liver Disease attended Digestive Disease Week, an international conference held in San Diego, California. Amongst thousands of submissions, members of our division were selected to be involved in various moderations, oral presentations, and poster presentations. Some of these notable presentations are as follows:

Dr. Amitabh Chak moderated a session titled "World Cup of Endoscopy". This new format was developed under the direction of Dr. Chak, where international endoscopists submit exceptional video cases. In addition, Dr. Chak gave two oral presentations titled "Genetics of Barrett's Esophagus: Practical Applications" and co-presented along with Vanessa Shami, MD "EUS Staging and Sampling Neoplasms: When Do We Need it and What Good Does it Do for Us?"


Dr. Niraj Kandelwal, a third year clinical fellow, contributed a very well received poster presentation titled "Admission hematocrit is an independent risk factor for mortality, surgery, and length of stay in those with upper and lower acute gastrointestinal hemorrhage (GIH)." Dr. Kandelwal, along with his senior authors, Dr. Gregory Cooper and Dr. Richard Wong, recommends including admission hematocrit in the initial assessment and triage of patients.




Division of Hematology and Oncology

Dr. Joe Bokar received the first annual Hematology and Oncology Faculty Award for Excellence in Fellow Education. This honor was bestowed upon Dr. Bokar for his commitment to teaching, mentorship and career development of fellows at Fellows' Farewell Breakfast.






Dr. Cheng Chee was awarded a $50,000 GI SPORE Pilot grant for her project entitled, "Methylated Vimentin DNA in Blood as a Novel Biomarker in Colorectal Cancer." Dr. Chee hypothesizes that methylated blood vimentin will be able to detect more recurrences of early-stage colon cancer earlier when compared to serum CEA.  Dr. Chee also believes that methylated blood vimentin will be able to detect more cases of residual disease when compared to serum CEA in patients with metastatic colorectal cancer. Dr. Chee also received a VA Medical Research and Education Foundation grant for this project.

Dr. Smitha Krishnamurthi has been promoted to Associate Professor of Medicine. This is a well-deserved recognition of Dr. Krishnamurthi's contributions to patient care, research, and education at the School of Medicine.








Dr. Neal Meropol received a $30,000 CTSC grant for the informatics pilot project entitles "TrialProspector: An Automated Clinical Trials Eligibility Screening Tool." Dr. Meropol and his team are developing an automated system for matching patients with available clinical trials by merging data from the EMR, Tumor Board database (Caisis), and Clinical Trials database system (Oncore).





Dr. Neelesh Sharma was awarded a $50,000 CTSC Pilot Grant for his proposal entitled, "Modulating tumor vascular permeability by deletion/inhibition of sphingosine kinase-1 to enhance the response to chemotherapy in lung cancer." This project is a multidisciplinary collaboration with Drs. Karathanasis, Dowlati, and Schroeder. The project will evaluate the ability to alter the permeability of the endothelial barrier in tumors through manipulation of sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P). This will be accomplished through an animal model of tumor development in wild type and Sphk1 -/- mice and also through pharmcologic agents to inhibit S1P formation. Enhanced permeability and retention (EPR) of cancer vasculature will be measured using nanoparticle contrast agents and micro CT. Dr. Sharma and his team hypothesize that increasing the EPR effect of tumor microvasculature will allow enhanced delivery of nanoparticle conjugated drugs to the tumor site and increase their efficacy.




Division of Infectious Diseases and HIV Medicine

Dr. Robert Bonomo was appointed to the Antimicrobial Availability Task Force (AATF) of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA). AATF is charged with evaluating current trends in research in anti-infective therapies.







Dr. Nick Funderburg was awarded a highly competitive K99-R00 award (Tissue Factor in HIV Disease - Implications for Cardiovascular Risk) from the NHLBI that will provide him with 5 years of support based on the important observation that monocytes from persons with HIV infection have increased surface expression of the procoagulant tissue factor (thromboplastin). This work was published as a feature article in Blood last year and earned a highly enthusiastic editorial commentary. Dr. Funderburg proposes that this may be an important underpinning for the growing cardiovascular disease risk that our patients are experiencing. 


Dr. Amanda Healan became the newest faculty member. Her appointment as instructor was effective June 1, 2012. Dr. Healan's responsibilities will be to accomplish the goals of the ID Alliance to improve awareness and prevention of infectious diseases in underserved Cleveland neighborhoods, and coordinate development of scientific documents for the ID Clinical Trials Unit (NIH funded contract). She will also be involved in teaching activities.





Division of Rheumatology

The Division of Rheumatology fellows' graduation was held on Thursday, June 14th.  Each fellow was presented with a framed Certificate of Graduation and desk set. The fellows commended Dr. Askari for his tireless efforts as the Fellowship Program Director and Dr. David Blumental was bestowed the Fellows' Choice Award for teacher of the year.

Dr. Sivaraman became the newest faculty member and will start on the new position in July. Dr. Sivaraman will be a clinicial educator and will be involved in the education and rheumatology practice at Chagrin Highland practice sites. Dr. Sivaraman's area of research is osteoporosis.
department conferences & events

Spring Dinner 2012

The Department of Medicine got together to say goodbye to graduating residents, recognize outstanding faculty members, and present Research Day awards.

See all photos from Spring Dinner 2012 on our Facebook page.



Summer Picnic 2012

Residents and family members enjoyed an afternoon filled with good food, heartfelt conversations, and outdoor activities at Squire Valleevue Farm.


See all photos from Summer Picnic 2012 on our Facebook page.


department leadership minutes

Leadership Council

Dr. Walsh distributed several recent articles from JAMA and NEJM regarding the impact of healthcare reform, specifically: variations in costs and quality across the US health care system; the association of hospital spending intensity with mortality and readmission rates; and the long-term effect of premier pay for performance on patient outcomes. Dr. Walsh also distributed a report from Deloitte on strategic considerations in anticipation of the Supreme Court's ruling on the Affordable Care Act.

Leadership Council


Dr. Walsh reviewed the current chair searches for the CWRU School of Medicine with the Council.


Leadership Council


Dr. Walsh led a discussion regarding the qualifications and standards for faculty appointment, promotion and the award of tenure. He reviewed departmental and School of Medicine guidelines for this process.


Leadership CouncilDr. Walsh reminded Council members that Dr. Richard Hanson, President, Community Hospitals and Ambulatory Services at UHCMC, will assist with community/satellite hospital requests for subspecialty physicians to be located at sites outside of the main campus. These requests will be reviewed by the UHMG Steering Committee and then forwarded for Division Chief and Department Chair approvals.



5Dr. Walsh and Mr. Creighton reviewed salary metrics for the Department of Medicine. The School of Medicine (SOM) has requested departments compose an outline of general minimum metrics for annual merit increases. These metrics should fall within annual School of Medicine salary augmentation guidelines. Dr. Walsh asked Council members for faculty nominations for an ad hoc subcommittee which will be formed to give feedback to the Council regarding these metrics.


Leadership CouncilDr. Armitage announced the Department of Medicine awards that were presented at the annual Spring Dinner.