Aesculapian Awards Announced

Each Spring, Aesculapian representatives nominate residents, faculty, and departments, on behalf of their peers, who have shown a true passion and dedication to teaching for the Excellence in Teaching Awards. A primary vote by the student body narrows the field to a final ballot, and then a final vote by the student body determines the winners. 

This year we would like to congratulate the following residents, faculty, and departments for winning Aesculapian Excellence in Teaching Award for 2018! They have gone above and beyond to make sure every student walks away with the knowledge and skills they need to become a great physician.

L1 Fall Semester Award – Dr. William Swartz (Cell Biology and Anatomy)

L1 Spring Semester Award – Dr. Patricia Molina (Physiology) 

L2 Fall Semester Award – Dr. Joy Sturtevant (Microbiology, Immunology and Parasitology)

L2 Spring Semester Award – Dr. Taniya De Silva (Internal Medicine – Endocrinology

L3 Intern Award – Dr. Antoinette Laurel (Psychiatry)

L3 Resident/Fellow Award – Dr. Courtney Cox (Pediatrics)

L3 Staff Award – Dr. Chelsey Sandlin (Pediatrics)

L4 Intern Award – Dr. Christopher Brown (Surgery)

L4 Resident/Fellow Award – Dr. Alykhan Lalani (Vascular Surgery)

L4 Staff Award – Dr. Randy Roig (PM&R)

Junior Faculty Award – Dr. Shane Sanne (Internal Medicine)

Department Award – Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

We thank you on behalf of the Aesculapian Society and student body for your tremendous impact on medical education at LSUHSC.



Juzar Ali Named TB Champion

Juzar AliEarlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Division of Tuberculosis Elimination (DTBE) issued a call for submissions of best practices and success stories from those who were making a significant contribution toward TB elimination through collaboration. Juzar Ali, M.D. (Pulmonary Critical Care & Allergy/Immunology) was nominated and was selected as a CDC U.S. TB Elimination Champion. 

As a CDC U.S. TB Elimination Champion, He is being recognized as making tremendous strides in collaborating with public health partners, health care providers, and community organizations.  His story can be read here:


Dr. Zabaleta Receives AACR Award


Congratulations to Dr. Jovanny ZabaletaDepartment of Pediatrics on being selected as a recipient of the 2018 American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Minority and Minority-Serving Institution Faculty Scholar in Cancer Research award.  Dr. Zabaleta will receive this award at the AACR annual meeting to be held April 14 – 18, 2018 in Chicago, IL


Dr. Robert Maupin Receives Award for Diversity


Dr. Robert Maupin, Associate Dean for Diversity and Community Engagement, received the Dean’s Alumni Award for Diversity and Inclusion from the University of Maryland School of Medicine. The awards was given for Dr. Maupin’s work in advancing institutional diversity programming and supporting pathways into the health profession for disadvantaged and underrepresented minority students. Dr. Maupin received the award at the University of Maryland School of Medicine 11th annual Celebrating Diversity Reception and Dinner held at the Marriott Inner Harbor at Camden Yards in Baltimore, MD on February 24th.  Congratulations! 


Dr. Edwards Receives Physiology Award


Congratulations to Scott Edwards, Ph.D., Department of Physiology, on his receipt of the New Investigator Award from the Central Nervous System Section of the American Physiological Society (APS).  The Edwards lab, which is part of LSU Health New Orleans Alcohol and Drug Abuse Center of Excellence, is investigating the neurobiological changes associated with altered motivational systems in drug and alcohol addiction. The researchers are determining alterations in neuronal signaling following excessive drug or alcohol use and then studying which neuroadaptations are most critically involved in driving excessive drug intake, relapse and other motivational disorders. The interaction of addiction and chronic pain is the most recent target of the research.             

According to the APS, “The American Physiological Society (APS) is a nonprofit devoted to fostering education, scientific research, and dissemination of information in the physiological sciences. The Society was founded in 1887 with 28 members. APS now has over 10,500 members. Most members have doctoral degrees in physiology and/or medicine (or other health professions). APS is a member of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), a coalition of 26 independent societies that plays an active role in lobbying for the interests of biomedical scientists.” 

Dr. Edwards will receive this award at the annual APS meeting to be held in San Diego in April of this year.  Congratulations!  


Patricia Molina Selected for Minority Mentorship Award 

Patricia Molina, MD, PhD

Leslie Capo
Director of Information Services

The American Physiological Society (APS) has selected Patricia Molina, MD, PhD, Professor and Chair of Physiology at LSU Health New Orleans, as the second recipient of its prestigious A. Clifford Barger Underrepresented Minority Mentorship Award.

According to the Society, the A. Clifford Barger Underrepresented Minority Mentorship Award honors a member of the American Physiological Society who is judged to have demonstrated leadership, guidance, and mentorship of underrepresented minority students in the physiological sciences. The award promotes and embodies the APS goal of broad diversity among physiologists by recognizing outstanding mentors who make significant impacts on diversity in physiology. It recognizes mentoring as a highly valued professional activity that merits a high level award by the Society.

As Director of LSU Health New Orleans’ Biomedical Alcohol Research Training Program, an NIH-funded grant that supports the training of MD and PhD pre- and post-doctoral fellows, Dr. Molina has helped trainees submit successful grant proposals. More than half of her predoctoral trainees obtained extramural funding under her guidance. Molina has worked to increase general recruitment and has been successful in recruiting a diverse group of trainees, including Hispanics, African Americans, females, and other individuals from underrepresented backgrounds. She has started new courses for graduate and medical students, as well as journal clubs for graduate students and weekly seminars from intramural and visiting distinguished researchers. One of her main initiatives as Physiology Department Chair has been to help junior faculty receive grant funding from major sources.

In 2016, Molina received the Aesculapian Excellence in Teaching Award from LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine. She developed a Medical Spanish Elective for students in all health care professions to help them develop skills needed to work with Spanish-speaking patients.

Molina has mentored two high school students, 13 undergraduates, 13 graduate students, 15 medical students, 11 postdoctoral fellows, 1 post-resident, and two junior faculty members. Of these, more than half are women or underrepresented minorities. She also serves as a role model in her professional societies. She has met many trainees across many institutions that seek her guidance. Many of her trainees have gone on to make their marks on science, medicine, and education.

Molina will be honored as the recipient of the 2018 Barger Award during the 2018 Experimental Biology Meeting in San Diego in April.


Lindsey Receives Top Honor from American College of Rheumatology

Technology To Drive Advances In Obesity-Related Diseases 

Leslie Capo
Director of Information Services

For the first time, researchers led by Frank Lau, MD, Assistant Professor of Clinical Surgery at LSU Health New Orleans, have successfully kept white fat tissue alive outside of the body for up to eight weeks. This breakthrough will pave the way for research advances improving treatment or prevention of such diseases as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer and others associated with white adipose tissue. Details are published as an Instant Online Article by the journal Tissue Engineering Part C: Methods.

The paper describes a tissue-engineered microstructure called Sandwiched White Adipose Tissue, or “SWAT” for short. White adipose tissue (WAT) is a type of human fat that is strongly associated with several life-threatening illnesses.  An ongoing hurdle for scientists has been developing a technique for the long-term culture of WAT.  In SWAT, WAT is cultured in a three-dimensional, multicellular environment, and these conditions faithfully mimic those of the human body.  In SWAT, WAT is viable in culture for up to eight weeks, and during this time frame, it maintains crucial cellular qualities and whole-tissue functioning.

“We are the first group in the world to keep human fat alive outside of the body for several weeks,” notes Dr. Lau, who is also Surgical Director of Regenerative Medicine at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine.  “This isn’t just a major breakthrough for our lab, but also for obesity and fat research. SWAT holds great potential for anti-obesity drug screening, new research into cancer-obesity interactions and many basic experiments regarding fat physiology.”

The research validates SWAT as the first primary human White Adipose Tissue Microphysiological System against standards established by the National Institutes of Health. It’s attributes position SWAT as a powerful tool for the study of WAT physiology, pathophysiology, personalized medicine, and pharmaceutical development.

The research team also included Drs. Camille Rogers, Oren Tessler, Charles Dupin, Hugo St. Hilaire, Kazi Islam, as well as Kelly Vogel, John Luckett, Maxwell Hunt, Alicia Meyer and Steven Scahill at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine, along with Dr. Jeffrey Gimble at Tulane University and Dr. Trivia Frazier at LaCell, LLC.

The data were presented at the 2017 International Federation for Adipose Therapeutics and Science annual meeting in Miami.


Veterans Study Reports Reduction in Suicide Ideation After Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy 

Leslie Capo
Director of Information Services

A pilot case control study of veterans of the US armed forces with mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) or persistent post-concussion syndrome (PPCS), with or without post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), has found significant improvements in persistent post-concussion syndrome and PTSD symptoms, neurological exam, memory, intelligence quotient, attention, cognition, depression, anxiety, quality of life, and brain blood flow following hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT). Compared to controls, the patients’ brain scans were significantly abnormal before treatment and became statistically indistinguishable from controls in 75% of abnormal areas after treatment.

“Simultaneously and most importantly, subjects experienced a significant reduction in suicidal ideation and anxiety, possibly the most significant finding in the study given the current veteran suicide epidemic,” notes Dr. Paul Harch, Clinical Professor and Director of Hyperbaric Medicine at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine. “The PTSD symptom reduction is one of the greatest reductions in PTSD symptoms in a four-week period with any reported treatment, and combined with the effect on PPCS outcomes, HBOT represents the only reported effective treatment for the combined diagnoses of blast-induced PPCS and PTSD.”

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is the use of increased atmospheric pressure and increased oxygen levels to treat disease. Treatment effects are a function of dose and timing of intervention in the disease process.

“Dr. Paul Harch, for the past three and a half decades, has meticulously researched and published quality laboratory and clinical research about the efficacy of hyperbaric oxygen in treatment of sub- acute and chronic TBI, convincingly demonstrating its efficacy by favorable outcomes with careful statistical substantiation of his findings,” says Dr. Keith Van Meter, Clinical Professor and Chief of Emergency Medicine at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine.  “He has added to his quality team of researchers, and their steadfast persistence has achieved these remarkable results.”

In addition to Drs. Harch and Fogarty, the research team also included Dr. Keith Van Meter, Juliette Lucarini and Dr. Susan Andrews.

Dr. Harch and Juliette Lucarini own a small hyperbaric consulting company. Dr. Van Meter owns a hyperbaric equipment leasing company and the treatment facility. Dr. Fogarty is President of the International Hyperbaric Medical Foundation and owns a holding company for a mobile hyperbaric clinic.