Faculty and Staff News
A million dreams for breast cancer at Vera Bradley event
The Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer continued its two decades of support for Indiana University School of Medicine’s breast cancer research program with a donation of more than $1 million at its annual charity golf outing on June 3.
The foundation—the charitable arm of the Fort Wayne-based handbag and accessory maker—has donated more than $32.5 million to IU School of Medicine toward a total commitment of $37.5 million.
In recognition of that generosity, the school established the Vera Bradley Foundation Center for Breast Cancer Research at IU School of Medicine in 2018.
“Today, I’m here to tell you that we are barreling ahead,” IU School of Medicine Dean Jay L. Hess, MD, PhD, MHSA, told a crowd of several hundred people at the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer Classic. “Over the past year, we’ve focused tremendous time and energy on one of the most aggressive types of breast cancer: triple negative breast cancer. And we are making terrific progress.”
The theme for the evening was “A Million Dreams,” based on the song from the popular movie “The Greatest Showman.” Hess, who sings in his church choir, delighted and surprised guests by joining Fort Wayne-area vocalist Rachel Smith onstage to sing the final lines of the song: “A million dreams is all it’s gonna take/A million dreams for the world we’re gonna make.”
For more, read the Breast Cancer Research blog post.
Smith receives Ritchey Emeriti Faculty Service Award
James W. Smith, MD, who enjoyed a distinguished career at Indiana University School of Medicine as an infectious disease researcher, was honored this week with the Ritchey Emeriti Faculty Service Award—for contributions to the school and community in the years since his retirement.
Smith, a pathologist and Nordschow Professor Emeritus of Laboratory Medicine, retired from IU School of Medicine in 1998. His support for the medical school, and its mission, has continued in a variety of ways.
In 2000, he established the James W. Smith Professorship in Clinical Microbiology to improve the school’s ability to recruit and retain outstanding microbiology faculty.
Smith has served as a member of the development board for AMPATH, a partnership led by IU School of Medicine that’s impacted the lives of millions of Kenyans through clinical care, research and medical training. He has served as a consultant to AMPATH’s reference lab and has worked to strengthen anatomic teaching and pathology in Kenya.
As a member of the board of directors of the Indiana Medical History Museum, Smith helped secure grant funding for much-needed repairs. He also was instrumental in the development of a book on the history of IU School of Medicine.
Still maintaining an office in the microbiology department, Smith said he enjoyed his work at the school, as well as what’s followed in retirement.
“I think it’s been a good trip and I’m pleased to join the list of previous recipients of this great honor,” he said.
For more on Smith’s contributions to IU School of Medicine, visit the Newsroom.
IU to tag email senders from outside university to help protect against phishing
To protect against phishing scams, Indiana University will soon begin flagging all emails that come from addresses outside the university to prompt users to take a second look before responding or engaging.
The service is known as External Email Flagging. It marks any messages received from non-IU email addresses with an [External] tag added to the beginning of the subject line. Additionally, a warning is added to the top of the message to remind users to be cautious when clicking links or opening attachments from external sources.
The service will be turned on by default for the entire university on Wednesday, July 24. Users could previously opt-in on their own through the IU Security Center.
Due to IU School of Medicine’s close working relationship with IU Health, emails from the iuhealth.org domain will be exempt from the external classification. That process is continuing to be refined, so users may initially experience some inconsistencies in whether IU Health addresses are flagged but should see continuous improvement.
“This is an important tool to prevent against phishing attacks that are becoming increasingly sophisticated and that put the school, university and each of us at risk,” said Rob Lowden, IU School of Medicine’s executive associate dean for technology affairs and chief information officer. “Phishing is often successful because users are tricked into thinking an email is legitimate. By flagging messages from outside IU, our faculty, staff and learners will be more equipped to distinguish between emails they can trust and those that may be malicious.”
For more on the initiative and details on how to report phishing, read the blog post.
Exemplar of Professionalism Honor Roll nominations open year-round
Have a few minutes to spare during the summer months? Consider nominating a colleague or student for IU School of Medicine’s Exemplar of Professionalism Honor Roll. With nominations open year-round, the honor roll recognizes those at the school who embody the core values of excellence, respect integrity, diversity and cooperation. Celebrating positive role models who uphold the IU School of Medicine Honor Code in their daily interactions, the exemplar designation is designed to recognize faculty, residents, fellows, students and staff members.
Nominate a colleague and learn more about the award and past recipients.
IU cancer researcher, collaborators earn $4.1 million grant from Cancer Moonshot
A team of researchers from Indiana University and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center have been awarded a $4.1 million National Cancer Institute “Cancer Moonshot” grant to develop immunotherapy treatments for cancer in children and adolescents, especially those with leukemia. The research promises to achieve more effective, better targeted and less toxic therapies for pediatric cancers.
Sophie Paczesny, MD, PhD, Nora Letzer Professor of Pediatrics and professor of microbiology and immunology at IU School of Medicine, and a researcher at the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center, will collaborate with Nai-Kong Cheung, MD, PhD, of Memorial Sloan Kettering.
Paczesny and her colleagues want to better understand how tumors and the tissues that surround them—called the tumor microenvironment—put up defenses to protect the tumor cells. The body routinely creates immune system cells called T cells that attack foreign invaders such as bacterial infections, but the tumor microenvironment creates barriers to thwart those “killer” T cells from attacking cancer cells.
Cancer researchers currently are working on treatments to counteract the molecules—called checkpoint molecules—that prevent the immune system from attacking cancer cells. Deactivating those checkpoint molecules could enable the T cells to go to work on the cancer cells.
Paczesny and her team have identified a new checkpoint molecule, a protein called ST2. They have been working on ST2 for several years because it plays an important role in how the immune system reacts to bone marrow transplants used in cancer therapy. Now they plan to study how ST2 functions in the complicated sequence of chemical signals that creates tumor defense systems.
Early studies in mice have indicated that restricting ST2 activity resulted in reduced proliferation of acute myeloid leukemia cells.
For more on the research and Cancer Moonshot, visit the Newsroom.
IU Precision Health Initiative sheds new light on gestational diabetes
Faith Kuntz was glad her doctor tested her for gestational diabetes early when he noticed a significant weight gain during her pregnancy. For the 35-year-old patient, gestational diabetes wasn’t even on her radar.
“Gestational diabetes, or diabetes during pregnancy, complicates about one in 12 pregnancies for women in the United States,” said David M. Haas, MD, Robert A. Munsick Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at IU School of Medicine, and leader of the diabetes team for the IU Grand Challenge Precision Health Initiative.
The complications include a higher risk for a cesarean section and increased jaundice in the child at birth. The biggest concern, however, is a 70 percent lifetime risk of mom developing Type 2 Diabetes and a risk exists for her children, too.
The IU Grand Challenge Precision Health Initiative is focused on the prediction and prevention of gestational diabetes. The team is looking at both a person’s environment and a person’s genetics to predict who is most at risk for gestational diabetes and do all they can to prevent the disease from ever happening. If the person does develop gestational diabetes, the team plans to give the patient options to stop gestational diabetes from ever developing into Type 2 diabetes and to offer those solutions in a structure that works within their family.
“Overall,” said Haas, “we want to make sure people are informed, so they can be empowered to take charge of their own health.”
Watch this video that highlights Kuntz’s story and the care she received.
Study reveals new insights about treatment of early Type 2 diabetes
A set of clinical trials examining youth and adults with Type 2 diabetes or impaired glucose tolerance has found that disease progression in adults slowed during medical treatment but resumed after treatment stopped. Youth on the same treatment had markedly poorer outcomes with continued disease progression both during and after the treatment. This research, funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) and based partly at Indiana University School of Medicine, was published June 9 in the journals Diabetes and Diabetes Care and presented at the American Diabetes Association Scientific Sessions in San Francisco. NIDDK is part of the National Institutes of Health.
The Restoring Insulin Secretion (RISE) Adult and Pediatric Medication Studies compared the use of different treatments among adults aged 20-65 and youth aged 10-19 with impaired glucose tolerance or early onset type 2 diabetes with the aim of preserving beta cell function—key to the body’s ability to make and release insulin.
For more on the study, visit the Newsroom.
Brain injury marker linked to long-term impairment in children with malaria
Malaria continues to be a major threat to public health for much of the world’s population. In 2017, more than 400,000 malaria-related deaths were reported globally, and over 90 percent were in sub-Saharan Africa. Almost two-thirds of the deaths were in children.
The most severe and deadliest form of the parasitic disease is cerebral malaria, a condition that is most often diagnosed in children under 5 years old and is characterized by a malaria-related coma. In those who survive, risk for long-term impairment is increased.
Understanding how this impairment develops is a major focus of Chandy John, MD, and his IU School of Medicine research team. In a recent study published by Clinical Infectious Diseases, John’s team presents novel findings about one possible factor: a protein called tau.
The study found that elevated levels of tau in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is related to long-term neurocognitive impairment in children recovering from cerebral malaria.
“Our results show a strong association of CSF tau with clinical factors that reflect disease severity,” said Dibyadyuti Datta, MS, PhD, assistant professor of pediatrics and lead investigator of the study. “Importantly, this is the first study to conclusively show that brain injury during the acute phase of cerebral malaria is associated with long-term neurocognitive outcomes.”
Find out more about the research in the Newsroom.
Immunotherapy delays Type 1 diabetes diagnosis in people at high risk
Presented this month at the 2019 American Diabetes Association’s 79th Scientific Sessions in San Francisco and published in the New England Journal of Medicine, findings from TrialNet’s Teplizumab (anti-CD3) Prevention Study show a drug that targets the immune system can delay Type 1 diabetes a median of two years in children and adults at high risk.
“These study results demonstrating that we can delay the onset of Type 1 diabetes are of great worldwide importance for persons impacted by Type 1 diabetes, especially the relatives of people with Type 1 diabetes who are themselves at 15 times greater risk of developing the disease than the general U.S. population,” said Linda DiMeglio, MD, MPH, TrialNet principal investigator and professor of pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine.
IU School of Medicine is one of 28 sites that participated in the study conducted by TrialNet, the largest clinical trial network ever assembled to discover ways to delay and prevent Type 1 diabetes.
Visit the Newsroom for more on the study.
Faculty and Staff News
Access changes coming to Fairbanks Hall parking lot July 8
If you regularly park in the lot at Fairbanks Hall, you have probably noticed how crowded—and, at times, overcrowded—it can get.
A joint audit conducted by Indiana University Health and IU School of Medicine has revealed that IU School of Medicine codes used to operate the keypad at the parking lot’s two gates have been regularly overused. As a result, starting Monday, July 8, all previously used codes will no longer work.
Visitors coming from campus or IU Health Methodist Hospital to Fairbanks Hall are encouraged to use the IU Health shuttle service. The downtown route runs from 6 am-10 pm, Monday through Friday, and 8 am-5 pm on Saturday. It stops at the Senate Boulevard entrance to IU Health Methodist Hospital, the IU Health Pathology Lab, Walther Hall on Walnut Street, IU Health University Hospital Adult Outpatient Center and the Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health Simon Family Tower. Shuttles are expected at each stop every 12 to 15 minutes.
Riders can track the progress of the shuttles via an online tracker and the DoubleMap app, available from the app store on mobile phones. In DoubleMap, search or select “IU Health” to see the routes. IU Health officials are always looking for ways to improve the shuttle, so be sure to share your suggestions and comments after taking your ride.
For outside visitors coming to Fairbanks, the two-hour visitor parking spots located outside the building will still be available. If all-day parking is required, a temporary code can be issued for guests. For more information on how to access a temporary code, contact your supervisor.
July 10 well-being event designed to help faculty “find a path forward”
A workshop focused on managing environmental and personal drivers of burnout and poor health, “Faculty Well-Being: Finding a Path Forward,” will be held from 8:30-10 am, on Wednesday, July 10. Featured speaker Stuart Slavin, MD, MEd, will explore strategies and approaches to improve the clinical and learning environment, as well as strategies and tools that faculty can use to enhance their ability to manage work stresses and demands. Slavin is senior scholar for well-being at the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.
Register for the event, which will be held in Fairbanks Hall (FS), Room 1112.
Apply by July 1 for Precision Diabetes Program funding
The Precision Health Initiative’s (PHI) Precision Diabetes Program seeks proposals for pilot projects from Indiana University investigators who want to utilize, build upon and enhance the current research being conducted by this team. Applications should focus on understanding the risk and/or optimizing the treatment of gestational diabetes in pregnant women. The purpose of this grant is to allow researchers passionate in the field of diabetes and/or personalized medicine to pursue their interests while contributing to and strengthening the merit of the overall PHI diabetes project.
Two pilot projects will be selected annually, and each is limited to $10,000 (total cost) for one year, with the potential for reevaluation and additional funding after the first year.
More details are available. Visit Indiana CTSI to download the application and for full award description. Application deadline is Monday, July 1. Completed applications should be emailed to David Haas, MD, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
LOIs due July 1 for alcohol use disorders research funding
The Indiana Alcohol Research Center is soliciting proposals for pilot projects from investigators who want to develop research on alcohol use disorders. Applications pertinent to basic mechanisms and genetic underpinnings of alcohol preference or compulsive drinking and tolerance are welcome. Previous experience in research on alcoholism is not required. Letters of intent are due Monday, July 1, and full applications are due Sunday, September 1. Eligibility and submission details are available.
August 1 is deadline to apply for Bloomington research equipment funds
The Indiana CTSI (Bloomington) Research Equipment Program supports purchase of commercially available research equipment to be used by groups of investigators, working together or separately, on innovative projects to enhance externally funded research and the mission of the Indiana CTSI. An applicant must be an IU Bloomington faculty member, but applicants may include interested researchers at CTSI partner institutions. Full details are available. Application deadline is Thursday, August 1.
Eskenazi Health on Becker’s list of “top places to work in healthcare”
Eskenazi Health has been named one of Becker’s Hospital Review’s “150 Top Places to Work in Healthcare.” This marks the fourth consecutive year that Eskenazi Health has earned this distinction.
Eskenazi Health is one of only two Indiana hospital and health systems on the list. The other is Parkview Health in Fort Wayne. Organizations on the list include Massachusetts General Hospital, Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Becker's Healthcare developed the list based on nominations and editorial research.
Med student Grant Callen awarded Fogarty Fellowship to continue research
IU School of Medicine medial student Grant Callen has received the Northern Pacific Global Health Fogarty Fellowship through the Fogarty International Center at the National Institutes of Health. The fellowship will allow him to continue his research, which focuses on the social and demographic characteristics that contribute to a lack of prenatal care and the transmission of HIV from mothers to their babies. For more on Callen and the award, read this Global Health blog post.
Global Health Scholars Day showcases international efforts
The Indiana University Center for Global Health convened its first Global Health Scholars day in May. The event featured poster presentations and the opportunity for those interested in global health throughout the university to network and share information. For poster winners, photos and full details, read the Global Health blog post.
New IUPUI campus shuttle service debuts next month
JagLine, IUPUI’s new campus shuttle service, plans to begin running next month. The service will include 12 new shuttles and six new routes. With the new service, riders should expect to see more routes with faster service times and an app to track shuttles in real time. For details, visit News at IUPUI.