Faculty and Staff News
IU School of Medicine awards degrees, celebrates graduates in virtual ceremony
Members of the Indiana University School of Medicine Class of 2020 were honored Friday, May 15, during a virtual graduation recognition ceremony.
Like nearly every other planned gathering this spring, the annual event was forced to go digital due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Typically held at the Indiana Convention Center’s Sagamore Ballroom, this year’s event took place in the form of a Facebook livestream. Members of IU School of Medicine’s leadership shared their well wishes in pre-recorded messages, joined by keynote speaker VADM Jerome M. Adams, MD, MPH, U.S. Surgeon General.
Adams, a graduate of IU School of Medicine and a former faculty member with the Department of Anesthesia, spoke to the class in a prerecorded message—espousing the importance of advocacy for today’s doctors.
“You can often do as much for your patients through good communication and advocacy as you can by patching them up when they get sick or hurt. Your medical skills will save lives, but our advocacy skills can save lives as well,” Adams said. “Though this may seem like an especially challenging time to graduate from medical school, I will say it’s precisely the perfect time. You chose a profession to help people, and now more than ever people need your help.”
“I’ve had the privilege of watching you develop into professionals over the last several years, but particularly during this pandemic. I want you all to know how incredibly grateful I am for the way that you have stepped up for the School of Medicine and for your community,” said IU School of Medicine Dean Jay L. Hess, MD, PhD, MHSA, during the ceremony. “(Through this pandemic) you have looked for ways to help. One hundred twenty-six members of the Class of 2020 graduated early, many joining the frontlines of the COVID response.”
In addition to the 432 doctorate- and master-level degrees awarded this year, 136 associate and bachelor of science degrees will be presented to graduates of IU School of Medicine Health Professions Program. The Health Professions Programs award degrees in histotechnology, paramedic science, radiology, cytotechnology, clinical laboratory science, medical imaging technology, nuclear medicine technology, radiation therapy and respiratory therapy.
For more details on the virtual festivities, visit the Newsroom.
Remembering George H. Rawls, MD, founding director of MSMS program
George H. Rawls, MD, Indiana University Clinical Professor Emeritus of Surgery and founding director of the Master of Science in Medical Science (MSMS) program at IU School of Medicine, passed away on Saturday, May 16, at age 91.
Dr. Rawls was a pioneer for African American surgeons in the Indianapolis community and was a lifelong advocate for advancing minority representation in medicine. After a distinguished 34-year career as a surgeon, Dr. Rawls retired in 1993 and then served as assistant dean of student affairs and clinical professor of surgery for five years at IU School of Medicine (1994-1999). In 2001, Indiana University awarded Dr. Rawls an Honorary Doctor of Science degree to recognize his enduring efforts to increase representation of minorities in medical professions. His legacy includes facilitating increases in both the admission and graduation of underrepresented minority candidates at IU School of Medicine.
Dr. Rawls graduated valedictorian from Florida A&M University, where he earned his Bachelor of Science in Biology. He then matriculated to Howard University Medical School, where he earned his medical degree with Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA) honors. He served in the U.S. Army for two years and completed his surgical residency at The Ohio State University and a surgical internship at Philadelphia General Hospital. In 1959, Dr. Rawls became one of the first black physicians to practice surgery in Indianapolis.
At IU School of Medicine, recognizing the need for equitable representation in medical education, Dr. Rawls helped launch the Master of Science in Medical Science program in 1995. Now celebrating its 25th anniversary, the MSMS pipeline program has graduated 449 students, with 302 matriculating into medical school.
Dr. Rawls held leadership positions with several professional organizations, including serving as president of the Marion County Medical Society, the Indiana State Medical Association and the Aesculapian Medical Society. He was also a long-term member and past president of the Indiana State Medical Licensing Board. Additionally, he has authored several books.
If you would like to share a memory of Dr. Rawls or leave condolences for his family, please fill out this form, which also gives the option of uploading any photos you may like to share. A virtual memorial service is being planned in the coming weeks.
At the family’s request, in lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Dr. Rawls’ church community: Witherspoon Presbyterian Church, 5136 Michigan Road, Indianapolis, Indiana 46228.
For more on Dr. Rawls’ life and his contributions to medical education, including scholarship programs in his name, visit the Newsroom.
IU research shows electroceutical fabric eradicates coronaviruses on contact
With the number of novel coronavirus infections at 4 million and growing, use of personal protective equipment, or PPE, has become essential to safeguard health care providers against COVID-19. Coronavirus particles that attach to PPE surfaces pose a significant threat to the spread of the virus.
A team of researchers at Indiana University has published significant research findings via pre-print in ChemRxiv demonstrating for the first time that coronaviruses are killed upon exposure to an electroceutical fabric.
"Electroceutical" refers to a matrix of embedded microcell batteries that creates an electric field and wirelessly generates a low level of electricity in the presence of moisture.
It is well known that viruses can be electrically charged. Coronaviruses rely on electrostatic interactions to be able to attach to their host and assemble themselves into an infective form. Their structure must remain stable in order to spread infection. The IU researchers sought to exploit the coronaviruses' own electrokinetic characteristics to try to dismantle their infectivity.
The team at IU has been heavily involved in the generation of foundational evidence of the electroceutical fabric's mechanism of action and use during the last six years. The research results demonstrate that the ability of the virus to infect is fully eliminated within one minute of contact with the fabric, which disrupts the electrostatic forces the virus needs.
The data shows that coronaviruses are killed by exposure to the low-level electric field-generating fabric, which is currently in use as a broad-spectrum antimicrobial wound care dressing.
The immediate goal with the data findings is to receive approval through the FDA's Emergency Use Authorization program to apply use of the fabric specifically for face masks in the fight against COVID-19. Currently, face masks have little to no ability to kill viruses or bacteria.
The electroceutical surface technology, called V.Dox Technology, is a proprietary dot-matrix pattern of embedded microcell batteries that create an electric field and wirelessly generate a low level of electricity when moist.
Previously, the same researchers have reported the antibacterial and antibiofilm effects in the management of infected wounds. The electroceutical technology offers clinicians a non-antibiotic solution for infection risk reduction and potentially increases its value for use in face masks and possibly other surface treatments.
The electroceutical dressing is currently FDA cleared and commercialized by Vomaris Inc. It is made of polyester fabric printed with alternating circular metal dots of elemental silver and zinc that create moisture-activated microcell batteries.
"This work presents the first evidence demonstrating that the physical characteristic features of coronaviruses may be exploited to render them non-infective following contact with low-level electric field-generating electroceutical fabric," said Chandan Sen, PhD, principal author of the study and director of the Indiana Center for Regenerative Medicine and Engineering at the IU School of Medicine.
"Our hope is that these findings will help Vomaris receive FDA Emergency Use Authorization and that we can utilize this fabric widely in the fight against COVID-19, ultimately saving lives."
For more details, visit News at IU.
Assistant professor sought after as national expert for rare disease believed to be linked to COVID-19
While researchers around the globe are working toward advancing treatments for COVID-19, new developments and potential connections are also being explored. One of those latest connections involves Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C), a condition that has been diagnosed in children who also had the virus that causes COVID-19. Experts say MIS-C acts similarly to Kawasaki Disease, which is an area of expertise for IU School of Medicine Assistant Research Professor of Pediatrics James Wood, MD. Wood has been invited to speak about his understanding of the disease and give context in relation to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on multiple national news programs, including MSNBC and NBC News NOW.
MIS-C can cause inflammation in the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes or gastrointestinal organs. Other symptoms can include fever, rashes, abdominal pain, chest pain, changes in skin color or rapid heart rate. MIS-C can be deadly, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most children diagnosed with the condition have recovered with medical care. Wood says parents shouldn’t be overly worried about the disease, since it is still rare, but said it’s important for health care professionals to be aware of the symptoms and continue to gather more information to help them better understand the condition. Indiana reported its first case of MIS-C earlier this week, a pediatric patient at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health.
Frontline workers recount experiences with virus during Zoom panel
Worried, concerned and overwhelmed, but encouraged, appreciated and optimistic.
Those are among the range of emotions felt by IU School of Medicine emergency medicine and critical care faculty members and learners who are working on the front line of COVID-19 response in central Indiana.
A dozen doctors shared their experiences with nearly 200 people during a recent virtual panel discussion, held via Zoom. They told stories about the steps their hospitals have taken to combat COVID-19, about the challenges they’ve faced, the patients they’ve encountered and their thoughts on the future. Learn more in this blog post.
IU study tracks COVID-19 spread in pediatric dialysis unit
As COVID-19 continues its sweep around the globe, dialysis units have continued to be hotspots for the virus’ spread. Researchers at IU School of Medicine hope to combat that threat, through a novel study published this month in JAMA. The study, conducted by members of the Pediatric Nephrology Dialysis Unit at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health, used antibody testing on patients, doctors, nurses and staff within the unit to track symptomatic and asymptomatic spread in a confined space, such as a dialysis unit.
“There are unique exposure challenges in dialysis units that limit social distancing efforts, including open bay formats and rotating nursing assignments,” said David Hains, MD, lead investigator on the study. “Dialysis units find threat among many infectious diseases, and COVID-19 is dangerous to patients receiving dialysis.”
Studies from Wuhan, China, show the spread of COVID-19 among dialysis units, but this study is the first of its kind in a pediatric setting, as well as being one that used antibody status as a determining factor.
For more details on the study, visit the Newsroom.
Update: Indiana CTSI and partners printing thousands of medical supplies to address COVID-19 shortages
Since launching the 3D printing effort in April, the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CTSI) and its partners have printed thousands of pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) for Indiana hospitals and other organizations on the front lines of the war against COVID-19. The various teams are currently developing designs and printing face shields, N95 masks, ventilator parts, test swabs and “ear savers” (small pieces of plastic that can be attached behind someone’s head to alleviate discomfort from wearing surgical masks).
The Indiana CTSI is helping coordinate efforts between various “maker” groups at its partner universities (Indiana University, Purdue University and the University of Notre Dame), as well as working with other universities and the local campuses of Ivy Tech Community College. The team is also working with healthcare organizations to coordinate needs with supply in real time, helping alleviate supply shortages by mobilizing 3D printers for rapid manufacturing and distribution.
“The speed at which this collaboration has been able to form and evolve—starting from the first call-to-action in late March—has been amazing to watch,” said Kara Garcia, PhD, who is the Evansville navigator for the Indiana CTSI. “Our maker groups have worked incredibly hard to quickly, efficiently pivot to meet the ever-changing supply needs in the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Visit the Indiana CTSI website for more.
Faculty and Staff News
INScope to begin summer publication schedule next month
INScope will begin its bi-weekly summer publication schedule following the May 28 issue. Weekly publication will resume Thursday, August 6. During June and July, INScope will be distributed on the following Thursdays:
The schedule is subject to change if issues of importance to faculty and staff are announced. As a reminder, the deadline for news item submissions is Wednesday at noon for each Thursday’s issue. Email submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
May is Mental Health Month: Check out these well-being resources
Life is full of challenging events that can cause stress. Most of the time these feelings pass, but sometimes they can develop into more complex problems such as depression or anxiety that can impact daily life. Resources to restore well-being and mental and emotional health are available to IU faculty and staff:
- SupportLinc, IU’s new employee assistance program provider
- Healthy IU Work+Life mental health support webpage
- Healthy IU
In addition, IU medical plan members have 24/7 virtual access to board certified physicians. IU Health Plan members can access IU Health Virtual Visits, and Anthem plan members can access LiveHealth Online (Anthem also offers psychiatry and psychology visits online). Telemedicine visits are covered at no cost for IU medical plan members through June 2020.
Box cloud storage to be phased out
Indiana University will begin to phase out Box cloud storage—Box usage—in June. The first phase of the migration will only affect personal Box accounts—the account that is associated with your individual IU username. This does not affect Box Health folders, which will be migrated at a later date.
All Box accounts will move by default to Microsoft OneDrive—the preferred platform recommended for all users. If you prefer to use Google Drive instead of OneDrive, you may choose this option by completing the Find your drive survey before Friday, May 22. If you have a Box Health folder, it’s recommended that you choose OneDrive as Box Health folders will be moving to Microsoft Secure Storage, and files on OneDrive and Microsoft Secure Storage will be conveniently accessible through the same interface.
You will receive email notification approximately one week before your Box files are migrated to the new platform. Once files have been migrated, begin using OneDrive. Your Box files will continue to be accessible as “read-only” files until Box access is retired in May 2021.
CTR funding applications due August 4
The objective of the Indiana CTSI Collaboration in Translational Research (CTR) pilot grant program is to foster and encourage collaborations across the CTSI partner institutions and to initiate or continue translational research projects that have very strong and immediate potential to develop into larger, externally funded research programs or generate novel intellectual property (IP). Applications will be evaluated on the quality of the proposed science, as well as the application’s strength in clarifying the plan for leveraging the award toward the achievement of the two primary CTR objectives. Significant weight will be given in the review process for collaborative arrangements that have the potential to develop into a long-term partnership; one that uniquely positions the individuals to further their existing or new fields of research.
Learn more and apply by Tuesday, August 4.
IU Health AHC returns to normal parking procedures in June
Parking garages across the IU Health academic health center will return to normal operations in June. The AOC/University and ROC garage gates will be lowered on Monday, June 1, and will return to normal use. In addition, Parking Garage 3 at IU Health Methodist Hospital will return to normal use on June 1; gates will be lowered and monthly permits will be reinstalled.
The week of Monday, June 8, all IUPUI garage gates will be lowered, and garages will return to normal use. There are no plans to re-open valet parking at this time. The service will be re-evaluated in the coming weeks.