Faculty and Staff News
Palkowitz named president and CEO of Indiana Biosciences Research Institute
Alan Palkowitz, PhD, veteran researcher and IU School of Medicine faculty member, will be taking on a new role with the Indiana Biosciences Research Institute—a leading industry-inspired applied research institute. He was named the new president and CEO of the IBRI in an announcement on Wednesday, September 2.
Palkowitz will spend 80 percent of his time at the IBRI serving in this new position, while maintaining his role at IU School of Medicine as a senior research professor of medicine and leader of the IUSM-Purdue TaRget Enablement to Accelerate Therapy Development for Alzheimer’s Disease (TREAT-AD) Center.
According to IU School of Medicine Dean Jay L. Hess, MD, PhD, MHSA, Palkowitz’s new position as leader with the IBRI will nicely complement the school’s clinical research strategic priority.
“We are happy to have Alan serving in this important role with the IBRI, and excited for the opportunities to grow our research enterprise through this partnership,” Hess said. “His work with the IBRI will align with the school’s clinical research strategic priority, allowing us to translate discoveries into new diagnostics, treatments and cures faster than ever.”
IU School of Medicine and the IBRI have a longstanding tradition of collaboration.
“I’m thrilled to join the IBRI at this time in its history,” said Palkowitz. “In addition to moving into Innovation Building 1 in 16 Tech, this is a very exciting time for the life sciences in Central Indiana. The IBRI has an opportunity to emerge as a key strategic partner with industry and regional academic centers to find innovative solutions to some of the most challenging biomedical problems. Working together, I believe we can achieve great results to advance science, benefit patients and grow our entrepreneurial biomedical community.”
For more on Palkowitz’s appointment, visit the Newsroom.
Reminder: Next diversity town hall is September 17
The last of three diversity town hall events will be held from 4-5 pm, Thursday, September 17, on Zoom. Aiming to address diversity, equity and inclusion at IU School of Medicine, the town halls are an opportunity for the school community to share concerns, feedback and ideas for improvement. The town hall series began last month and is hosted by Dean Jay L. Hess, MD, PhD, MHSA. The September 17 session will use the same format and cover the same content as the previous town halls.
IU School of Medicine is committed to increasing representational diversity, fostering an inclusive working and learning environment, and developing culturally competent health care professionals dedicated to patient-centered care and innovative research. As a community, each person’s voice and contribution impacts the advancement of systemic change.
Check out IU’s COVID-19 testing dashboard
Indiana University’s COVID-19 testing results are available on a new dashboard. Updated every Monday, the dashboard includes results from the testing IU has implemented to keep students, faculty and staff safe. The testing monitors the spread of the virus on IU campuses.
Several IU School of Medicine faculty members lead the university’s COVID-19 Medical Response Team. The team meets daily to continually assess how the virus is spreading, the effectiveness of IU’s efforts in controlling it and allocation of resources. Faculty members on the team include:
Cole Beeler, MD
Director of Symptomatic Testing
Assistant professor of infectious diseases, IU School of Medicine
Aaron Carroll, MD
Director of Mitigation Testing
Professor of pediatrics and health outcomes research leader, IU School of Medicine
Adrian Gardner, MD
Director of Contact Tracing
Associate dean for global health, IU School of Medicine
Director of IU Center for Global Health
For more on IU’s response to COVID-19, visit fall2020.iu.edu.
On the blog: Could the eye be a detector of Alzheimer’s disease?
From the latest technologies in neuroscience to exploring the development of effective therapies—new advancements in Alzheimer’s disease are uncovered each year. Nearly six million people in the United States have Alzheimer’s disease, with the number expected to more than double by 2050. While experts at IU School of Medicine pursue research that could lead to effective treatment, the researchers at the Indiana Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center also aim to discover new methods for screening at-risk older adults for early symptoms of the disease.
Shannon Risacher, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Radiology and Imaging Sciences and leader of the Neuroimaging Core of the Indiana Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, recently published a study on a new biomarker for Alzheimer’s disease in the journal “Brain Communications.”
Using a technique that had not been studied in depth in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, visual contrast sensitivity or the ability to distinguish dark from light, Risacher found that poor contrast sensitivity was linked to the presence of Alzheimer’s pathology in the brain, even in older adults who were cognitively normal. The study, which included participants with an average age of around 70 years old, is the first using contrast sensitivity as a non-invasive way to better detect early signs of the disease and eventually aid in screening and prevention.
In this Research Updates blog post, Risacher answers questions about her interest in this research.
IU cancer researcher awarded $5.7 million to study chemo-induced hearing loss, toxicities
A researcher at the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center has been awarded a five-year, $5.7 million National Cancer Institute grant to evaluate long-term health outcomes for cancer patients who receive platinum-based chemotherapies.
An internationally recognized expert on cancer survivorship, Lois B. Travis, MD, ScD, leads the ongoing study that could lessen cancer treatment side effects for millions of patients.
Nearly 6 million patients globally are diagnosed with a cancer each year in which first-line therapy potentially includes highly toxic, platinum-based chemotherapies. While the treatment may lead to hearing loss, ringing in the ears, numbness in hands and feet and other side effects, it is the only proven cure for the vast majority of testicular cancer patients.
When IU’s Lawrence Einhorn, MD, developed a revolutionary therapy for testicular cancer in the 1970s, he flipped the 95 percent mortality rate for the disease to a 95 percent survival rate. His regimen of platinum-based cisplatin and two other drugs continues to be the standard care for testicular cancer. Einhorn is the Livestrong Foundation Professor of Oncology at IU School of Medicine and a physician scientist at the IU Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Now Travis, Einhorn and a team of researchers from other top cancer centers are following more than 2,000 testicular cancer survivors who are part of the largest clinical cohort of germ cell cancer survivors worldwide. The alliance of researchers leads The Platinum Study, which was established through a previous NCI grant awarded to Travis in 2012.
“We have shown with audiometric examination that 80 percent of the patients had hearing loss with one in five classified as severe to profound, levels at which hearing aids are recommended,” Travis, the Lawrence H. Einhorn Professor of Cancer Research at IU School of Medicine, said. Additionally, researchers found that 56 percent of patients had nerve damage called neuropathy and 40 percent had tinnitus or permanent ringing in their ears.
With this grant, researchers will tap into the existing cohort of patients who are part of the Platinum Study. The median age at diagnosis for testicular patients is 30, and the cohort’s median age now is 37. As patients age, researchers will continue to follow health changes, including if they are more susceptible to age-related hearing loss.
Visit the Newsroom for more on the study.
Research shows new tie between recovery time, degree of injury in concussions
Research at IU School of Medicine has uncovered a correlation between concussed athletes’ recovery time and the degree of concussion-related brain white matter alterations.
Led by Yu-Chien Wu, MD, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Radiology and Imaging Sciences at IU School of Medicine, and published in the journal Neurology, the study focused on the measures of white matter, axonal integrity, the components of brain cells that communicate information within the brain.
“Axons play a critical role in facilitating communication between different brain regions,” Wu said. “This connection enables our brain to perform high-level functionalities such as memory formation or executive functioning.”
Wu’s team looked at 219 college athletes from different contact and non-contact sports and used diffusion tensor imaging to detect acute changes in the brain white matter due to concussion. They discovered that these differences were associated with clinical outcomes and delayed recovery time for college athletes.
Athletes with the least burden of white matter involvement had a median return-to-play time of seven days, while athletes with the greatest burden of white matter involvement had a median return to play time of 27 days.
Read more about the study in the Newsroom.
Regenstrief Institute names inaugural Venture Fellows
Regenstrief Institute has selected four research scientists for its first class of Regenstrief Venture Fellows. The new program will support researchers in exploring the commercial potential of their ideas and learning how to launch a startup.
“The new fellowship program is an exciting opportunity for Regenstrief to broaden the impact of its faculty’s research,” said Todd Saxton, PhD, Regenstrief vice president for business development and co-leader of the initiative. “We look forward to working with these outstanding research scientists to explore their ideas and possibly create a new venture that will benefit health care delivery.
“Additionally, the program seeks to build the entrepreneurial capacity of the participants. Whether the venture idea moves forward or not, they will have the toolkit and relationships to continue to pursue this type of innovation.”
These Regenstrief research scientists, who are also faculty members at IU School of Medicine, were chosen as the inaugural Venture Fellows:
Nicole Fowler, PhD, MHSA, associate professor of medicine, IU School of Medicine
Richard Holden, PhD, MS, associate professor of medicine, IU School of Medicine
Suranga Kasthurirathne, PhD, assistant professor of pediatrics, IU School of Medicine
Kathleen Unroe, MD, MHA, associate professor of medicine, IU School of Medicine
The fellowship will provide instruction on venture development as well as mentorship. The research scientists will also interact with members and organizations in the Central Indiana venture ecosystem. The program will last for approximately six months.
Visit regenstrief.org for more details.
Posters selected for live presentations at Indiana CTSI Annual Meeting
Out of 65 video submissions, 50 scientific posters will be presented live during the 2020 Indiana CTSI Annual Meeting on Friday, September 11. Those who have been selected will deliver two-minute live presentations of their research during the meeting and answer any audience questions for up to three minutes per presentation.
The selected posters highlight research across the translational spectrum from basic science to community implementation and policy, including some related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and addressing health inequities and racial disparities.
The virtual poster presentations during the annual meeting will occur as ten concurrent breakout rooms, with five presenters selected for each room. Annual meeting participants will be able to choose which breakout room they want to join during the live session.
A recorded version of the scientific poster presentations will be available to view on the Indiana CTSI website ahead of the annual meeting to give participants more insight into which poster session they would like to attend.
For more details and a list of the selected presentations, visit Indiana CTSI.
Faculty and Staff News
Remembering William W. Baldwin: Second director of IU School of Medicine–Northwest
William W. Baldwin, PhD, passed away on Tuesday, August 25, at age 80. Baldwin was a professor of microbiology and immunology and served as assistant dean and director of IU School of Medicine–Northwest-Gary from 1998 to 2005.
A microbiologist, Baldwin earned his undergraduate degree from Indiana Central College and his master’s degree and PhD from Indiana University. He began his career as a teacher at George Washington High School in Indianapolis before becoming a professor at IU School of Medicine and, subsequently, the medical school’s executive director of the Northwest Center for Medical Education.
He retired after a distinguished 42-year career as an educator and published several notable research papers as a bacterial physiologist. Baldwin received the prestigious Sagamore of the Wabash Award in 2005—at the time, the highest honor presented by the Indiana governor for distinguished service to the state. He was very involved in his community as a member of Rotary International, serving as Rotary District 6540 governor from 2004-2005. He also was a member of the United States Power Squadron, a non-profit educational organization which promotes maritime safety and enjoyability.
Baldwin’s major accomplishment as director of IU School of Medicine–Northwest-Gary was working with state government and university leaders to obtain funding for and plan the construction of a state-of-the-art teaching and research facility at Indiana University Northwest. Opened in 2004, the Dunes Medical/Professional Building is home to the only medical school in the northwest Indiana region, along with other medical and professional programs.
For more on Dr. Baldwin, visit Faculty News. The post includes insights from colleagues, a link to his obituary and information about memorial contributions.
Regional campus note re: COVID-19 mitigation testing
Indiana University has rolled out its plan for semester-long, COVID-19 mitigation testing of nearly all faculty, staff and students. The goal of mitigation testing is to quickly identify and isolate any individuals who test positive for COVID-19, including asymptomatic carriers of the disease. Scientific models show this level of screening is the best tool for keeping any breakouts at bay.
Thousands of people per week will be tested across all IU campuses. IU School of Medicine regional campus faculty, staff and students do not need to travel to IUPUI to be tested. If you are on a regional campus and are selected for testing, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, and you will be directed to the appropriate local testing site or advised on getting a waiver. There are testing sites on most IU campuses.
For details about the mitigation testing, see the article in the Thursday, August 27, issue of INScope, which includes links to additional university resources for more information.
New Zoom security measures coming September 27
Beginning Sunday, September 27, Zoom will require all meetings to feature a waiting room or a passcode to ensure greater meeting security. For Zoom at IU, waiting rooms will be enabled as a default. If you have already added a passcode or waiting room, there will be no change to how you schedule meetings.
While this change isn’t mandatory until late September, faculty using Zoom for class meetings are encouraged to enable their preferred security feature now to avoid future confusion or disruption for students. Learn more.
ICARE to address racial equity; cohort programs begin this fall
The IU School of Medicine Implementing Conversations to Advance Racial Equity (ICARE) series aims to prepare members of the school community to lead action and conversations related to addressing systemic racism and race inequities. While this series is open to all members of the IU School of Medicine community, the target audience is non-minority people, seeking to reach those whose identity is connected with the larger white racial group.
The series is designed to advance the cultural competence and cultural humility of faculty, staff and learners at all levels. It also promotes an inclusive working and learning environment and works to ensure that all members of the IU School of Medicine community feel welcomed, valued, respected and encouraged to fully participate in the institution.
Participants in the cohort-style program commit to either a four-week model or a two-week model. The four-week model begins Friday, October 30, and the two-week model begins on Friday, December 4. Learn more about ICARE.
Virtual IU Innovation and Commercialization Conference is September 17-18
The fifth annual IU Innovation and Commercialization Conference—an online event this year—will be held on Thursday and Friday, September 17 and 18. Programming includes a plenary session about turning research into a multibillion-dollar enterprise, a survey of IU's resources to support innovators interested in commercialization, breakout sessions regarding industry partnerships and assessing faculty startups, and an overview of the IU Innovation and Commercialization Office's services.
The conference is free and open to everyone at IU. More information and an agenda are available.
Register for the September 22 cancer wellness symposium
Join LifeOmic, the Karuna Precision Wellness Center and the Indiana CTSI for a virtual symposium on cancer wellness. The Zoom webinar will cover a variety of topics, including integrative survivorship care, enhancing cancer survivor outcomes with metabolic flexibility, and a panel discussion with cancer survivors on traditional and integrative approaches aiding in their recovery. Presenters include Jamie Renbarger, MD, Caroline Symmes Professor of Pediatric Cancer Research, IU School of Medicine.
Deadline extended: Apply for Translational Cancer Biology Training Program
The application deadline for the Translational Cancer Biology Training Program (TCBTP) has been extended to Tuesday, September 15. The program is designed to enhance the training received in any individual laboratory or department. Trainees are exposed to a broad range of cancer-related research encompassing both basic and clinical aspects of the disease. TCBTP predoctoral students fulfill the requirements of their individual basic science departments and complete the cancer biology minor. Pre-doctoral CBTP trainees attend both a basic science and a clinical seminar series, co-sponsored by the IU Simon Cancer Center and participate in the IU Simon Cancer Center's annual Cancer Research Day.
TCBTP stipends are available on a competitive basis for trainees conducting their research in the laboratory of a TCBTP preceptor. Candidates must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents. More information is available. E-mail Harikrishna Nakshatri, PhD, at email@example.com with questions.
IU Health: Surgeons perform first living donor liver transplant in 20 years
The IU Health adult academic health center transplant team recently performed its first living donor liver transplant in more 20 years. With the number of people needing transplants increasing and upcoming changes to the liver allocation policy threatening to make it harder for Hoosiers to receive deceased organ donations, the IU Health transplant team developed a living donor option. The team, led by the IU School of Medicine faculty members Shekhar Kubal, MD, and Marco Lacerda, MD, developed the program and sent transplant surgeons to some of the most experienced living donor liver transplant centers in the world for training.
The living donor transplant was performed in July.
Riley updates visitor guidelines
Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health has implemented updated visitor guidelines to minimize traffic within buildings to keep patients, families and team members safe. The new guidelines also support patient and family connections.
With some exceptions, inpatients staying overnight at Riley may have one visitor (parent/legal guardian) in the building at a time. Surgery patients may have two visitors (parent/legal guardian) in the building during surgery. After surgery, one visitor must leave once the patient is settled into their care environment. Physician office appointments may include one parent/guardian (no siblings). Some exceptions apply.
The updated visitor guidelines apply to Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health, Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health North Hospital and Riley Maternity & Newborn Health at IU Health Methodist Hospital.
Strachan honored with 2020 Fitzgerald leadership award
Christian Strachan, MD, clinical affairs vice chair, Department of Emergency Medicine, and assistant professor of clinical emergency medicine, received the third annual John F. Fitzgerald Leadership Award. The Fitzgerald leadership award is awarded to an IU Health Physicians leader who exemplifies leadership traits that include putting patients first, servant leadership, humble integrity and decision-making that benefits the health care system.