Faculty and Staff News
IU scientists: Brain scans link physical changes to cognitive risks of widely used class of drugs
A research team led by IU School of Medicine scientists has recommended that older adults might want to avoid using a class of drugs commonly used in over-the-counter products such as nighttime cold medicines due to their links to cognitive impairment.
The researchers found lower metabolism and reduced brain sizes among study participants taking the drugs known to have an anticholinergic effect, meaning they block acetylcholine, a nervous system neurotransmitter. The study, “Association Between Anticholinergic Medication Use and Cognition, Brain Metabolism, and Brain Atrophy in Cognitively Normal Older Adults,” was published online in the journal JAMA Neurology.
"These findings provide us with a much better understanding of how this class of drugs may act upon the brain in ways that might raise the risk of cognitive impairment and dementia," said Shannon Risacher, Ph.D., assistant professor of radiology and imaging sciences, first author of the paper.
"Given all the research evidence, physicians might want to consider alternatives to anticholinergic medications if available when working with their older patients," Dr. Risacher said.
Drugs with anticholinergic effects are sold over the counter and by prescription as sleep aids and for many chronic diseases including hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Previous research found a link between the anticholinergic drugs and cognitive impairment and increased risk of dementia. The new paper is believed to be the first to study the potential underlying biology of those clinical links using neuroimaging measurements of brain metabolism and atrophy.
A 2013 study by scientists at the IU Center for Aging Research and the Regenstrief Institute found that drugs with a strong anticholinergic effect cause cognitive problems when taken continuously for as few as 60 days. Drugs with a weaker effect could cause impairment within 90 days.
The current research project involved 451 participants, 60 of whom were taking at least one medication with medium or high anticholinergic activity. The participants were drawn from the Indiana Memory and Aging Study and from the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative, for which paper co-author Andrew Saykin, Psy.D., is director of the Genetics Core.
In the current study the researchers replicated the earlier findings of cognitive effects, and identified metabolism differences using positron emission tests (PET) and brain structure differences using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans.
Dean Hess holds office hours this afternoon
This afternoon IU School of Medicine Dean Jay Hess, M.D., Ph.D., kicked off the first in a series of deans’ office hours from 1:30 to 5 pm in MS 166. This pilot on the Indianapolis campus offers an opportunity for students, faculty, and staff to meet with members of the IUSM executive leadership team to ask questions or offer comments and suggestions.
Future office hours will be posted outside MS 166 and on MedTV. Individuals are welcome to stop in on a first-come, first-served basis during these office hours. Depending on demand, options for similar pilots on the regional campuses will be explored.
Shekhar to speak about Grand Challenges initiative
Indiana University will host public events in Indianapolis and Bloomington recognizing the five research teams submitting final proposals in the first year of the university’s $300 million Grand Challenges Program. Anantha Shekhar, executive associate dean for research at IU School of Medicine and associate vice president for clinical affairs at IU, will present information on IUSM’s “Precision Health Initiative" Grand Challenges program during the public events on Tuesday, April 26 and Monday, May 2.
April 26: 5 to 7:30 pm; Campus Center Theater, IUPUI campus
May 2: 4 to 6:30 pm; Presidents Hall in Franklin Hall, Bloomington campus
Both events are free and open to the public; those planning to attend are asked to RSVP for either or both events.
Developed as a component of the university's Bicentennial Strategic Plan, the Grand Challenges Program will fund three to five initiatives over the next five years that will each address major and large-scale problems facing society. The largest single research investment in the university’s history, the program is expected to lead to as many as 175 new faculty hires and hundreds of graduate student and postdoctoral fellow hires, as well as funding for new equipment and facilities.
For more, visit Inside IUPUI.
Faculty and Staff News
Instructors needed for new Foundations of Clinical Practice course
Applications are now being accepted for small group instructional positions for the Foundations of Clinical Practice (FCP) Year One course, part of IUSM’s new curriculum launch this fall.
FCP Year One is an integrated series of lectures, small-group discussions, and simulated patient encounters along with a clinical component. The course provides instruction in fundamental clinical skills: taking a patient history, documenting a patient encounter, and performing a physical examination of a normal adult. Students are also introduced to social determinants of health, barriers to care, fundamentals of communication, interprofessional education, and systems-based practices.
The total time commitment for FCP small group instructors is expected to be four hours of in-class time per week. Additional time will be needed to meet with students and to grade assignments. More information about the instructional roles and qualifications is available here.
Send a letter of interest and a current resume or CV to Bernadette Bills at email@example.com. If interested in a FCP small group instructor’s position at a regional campus other than Indianapolis, contact the center director.
More IU campuses merging to unified parking system; permit changes planned
This summer, four regional campuses will join IU’s unified parking management system, and the permit naming convention will change for multiple campuses.
The IU Bloomington, IUPUI and IU Southeast campuses began using the new unified system in October, while parking operations for IU Kokomo, IU East, IU South Bend, and IU Northwest are expected to shift to the new system in May. The new unified parking management system is a software program that maintains all the financial records and data related to employee permits by individual campus, as well as parking ticket information and other details.
In addition, parking permits issued to IU employees for 2016-17 will have a new look and a new naming convention. This Inside IU article includes more detail and breaks down changes by campus. With questions, contact the parking office on any IU campus at 317-274-PARK or visit parking.iu.edu/contact for links to regional campus parking operations Web pages.
Sarah Elsarrag remembrance
The IU School of Medicine community was deeply saddened by the recent death of Sarah Elsarrag, a second-year student on the Indianapolis campus. Sarah passed away over the weekend.
Motivated to go into medicine to help address health care disparities, Sarah's friendship and spirit were remembered at a Tuesday night candlelight vigil organized by IU School of Medicine students. Her fellow students joined others in sharing their fondness for Sarah and the legacy she leaves behind.
Antwione Haywood, Ph.D., assistant dean for medical student education, told those gathered that their candles burned with many emotions: “For many of us…there is sadness and grief at the loss that we feel…there is admiration and celebration for the wondrous life of Sarah.”
Sarah was born in Khartoum, Sudan, and most recently lived in Richmond, Virginia. She is survived by her parents, four brothers and one sister.
Sarah graduated with multiple honors from George Mason University. She volunteered in support of leukemia and lymphoma charities. Sarah's mother, Salwa Salih, described Sarah’s main focuses outside of medical school as “her commitment to Islam and to encouraging respect, understanding, and equal treatment between people from all backgrounds.”
A memorial fund is being established in Sarah’s honor. Details will be shared in the coming weeks.
Stierwalt and Han named Chancellor’s Scholars
IUSM students Whitney Stierwalt and Woody Han are being honored today as “Chancellor’s Scholars” during the Chancellor’s Academic Honors Convocation, part of IUPUI’s annual recognition for student, faculty, and staff achievement. Stierwalt is a student in IUSM’s Health Professions Programs and Han is a fourth-year medical student.
IUSM students help support Evansville’s homeless
IUSM-Evansville students organized several efforts to support homelessness awareness month in Evansville. During April, students set a goal to provide 500 care packages for the homeless. They donated items for a health and wellness drive and requested donations of new and gently used shoes.
Half of long-stay nursing home residents go to ED regardless of cognitive status
A new study from the IU Center for Aging Research and the Regenstrief Institute found that almost half of all long-stay nursing home residents experience at least one transfer to an emergency department over the course of a year regardless of their cognitive status. While a high percentage of long-stay nursing home residents were sent to the ED, only about a third of these individuals were subsequently admitted to the hospital.
The study determined that while dementia severity was not associated either with likelihood of transfer to the ED or with having that transfer result in a hospitalization; age, race, two or more chronic diseases, number of hospitalizations in the year prior to study entry, and "Do Not Resuscitate" status all influenced the time to first ED visit.
"Transferring to an ED is stressful for most people, but it is especially difficult for cognitively impaired older adults from nursing homes who may not understand what is happening to them," said IU Center for Aging Research and Regenstrief Institute investigator Michael LaMantia, M.D., MPH, first author of the study. "We -- physicians, nursing home staff, and all who are concerned with older adults who live in long-term care facilities -- should be thinking about why individuals with advanced dementia, for whom comfort-oriented care is often more in line with preferences indicated by family members, have ED utilization patterns similar to those patients with early to moderate dementia and even those with no dementia.”
For more on the study, visit the IUSM Newsroom.
Today is deadline for Cancer Research Day submissions
Those interested in submitting abstracts for the IU Simon Cancer Center Cancer Research Day on Thursday, May 12, have until 5 pm today to send their information. Abstracts may be submitted in four categories: basic science, behavioral, population science/epidemiology, and translational/clinical research.
Visit cancer.iu.edu/education to complete the registration and the abstract template. Students, fellows, and faculty conducting cancer research at IUPUI, Indiana University-Bloomington, Purdue University, and the Harper Cancer Research Institute, a collaboration between the IU School of Medicine and the University of Notre Dame, are eligible to present at Cancer Research Day.
Cash awards will be given for best poster(s) in each research category, by group. Questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Biostatistics short course begins May 10
The IUSM Department of Biostatistics and the Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health will present a short course in biostatistics designed especially for health care researchers in the health sciences.
When: Tuesday, May 10, through Thursday, May 12; 1 to 5 pm each day
Where: Health Information and Translational Sciences Building, Conference Room 1110
The course covers basic principles, design of medical research studies, standard statistical tests and data analyses, and data management. Session III focuses on more advanced topics, including multiple linear and logistic regression, survival analysis, longitudinal data, and genetic analysis.
Calendar note: Epidemiology Day conference is May 13
“Epidemiology in the Era of Precision Medicine” is the theme of the Epidemiology Day 2016 conference on Friday, May 13, from 10 am to 5 pm, in Walther Hall on the IUPUI campus. Hosted by the Department of Epidemiology, IU Fairbanks School of Public Health, and the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute, the conference will include presentations from experts in the field, including Tatiana Foroud, Ph.D., chair, department of Molecular Genetics, Chancellor’s Professor at IUPUI, and the Joe C. Christian Professor of Medical & Molecular Genetics at IU School of Medicine. Dr. Foroud will discuss “Biobanking and Precision Medicine.”
View the agenda for the meeting schedule, along with summary of presentations and speakers. There is no cost to attend, but please register by May 6. For more information, contact Jianjun Zhang, M.D., Ph.D. at (317) 274-4287 or JZ21@iu.edu.
IU Health Physicians taps Tinker as new COO
IU Health Physicians President and CEO John Fitzgerald, M.D., announced last week the appointment of David Tinker, J.D., as the organization’s new chief operating officer. Tinker most recently served as vice chairman for finance and administration in the Department of Surgery at Yale School of Medicine. In a letter to IU Health Physicians leaders and team members, Dr. Fitzgerald said Tinker will “promote collaboration within IU Health Physicians and across IU Health, IU School of Medicine, and IU Health Physicians to help align our enterprise-wide clinical, education, and research goals.”
Tinker will join IU Health Physicians on May 23.
Eskenazi Health’s weekly farmers’ market opens May 10
On Tuesday, May 10, the Eskenazi Health Farmers Market begins its ninth season providing fresh and local produce, fresh baked goods, plants, and other market items to the public. This year’s market incorporates music and movement, plus fun games such as corn hole and football toss, live music, and a DJ.
Every Tuesday from 11 am to 1:30 pm, The Commonground in front of the Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital, located at 720 Eskenazi Ave., will be transformed into a farmers market with several vendors, local farmers, and games. The market goes throughout the summer months and ends Tuesday, Sept. 13. The event will occur rain or shine.
Indy – Make your mark with medical library’s crowdsourced canvas
To emphasize the importance of work-life balance, the Ruth Lilly Medical Library offers some of its space for visitors to take a study break and contribute to a crowdsourced art canvas. Here’s how it works: Library staff will prepare a canvas and trace an image, then students and library visitors will use acrylic markers to complete/color the painting.
IUSM students, residents, faculty, and staff are welcome to participate in the current crowdsourced canvas project, which is located on the second floor in the 24/7 study area.
Congratulations to IUSM students and medical library visitors who contributed to several crowdsourced art pieces accepted into this year’s IUSM Art Exhibition, "Scientific Inquiry, Artistic Expression," which runs through April 30 in the Cultural Arts Gallery in the IUPUI Campus Center.
For more information on the library’s crowdsourced art program, visit library.medicine.iu.edu/art.
West Lafayette – Purdue’s Grand Prix is Saturday
The “Greatest Spectacle in College Racing” -- Purdue University’s Grand Prix -- is Saturday, April 23, at the university’s track at the Northwest Athletic Complex. Gates open at 8:30 am, and the 160-lap main feature begins at 2:30 pm. Tickets are $5 in advance and are available at various locations and online at the Grand Prix website. Sponsored by the Grand Prix Foundation, the event raises money for annual student scholarships.
Indy – Brain tumor radiosurgery is focus of June 8 Mealey Lecture
Douglas Kondziolka, M.D., M.Sc., FRCSC, FACS, of the Department of Neurological Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh will give the Mealey Lecture at 5 pm, Wednesday, June 8, at the Indiana University Health Neuroscience Center, 320 W. 15th St., in Indianapolis. Dr. Kondziolka will discuss “The Future of Brain Tumor Radiosurgery. View this flyer for more information.