Patricia Molina Selected for Minority Mentorship Award 

download
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.

 

Advertisements

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.

 

Noted Research for Treating Obesity and Diabetes 

Leslie Capo
Director of Information 

alahari2Research led by Suresh Alahari, PhD, Fred Brazda Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine, has demonstrated the potential of a protein to treat or prevent metabolic diseases including obesity and diabetes. The findings are published online in the Journal of Biological Chemistry. 

Nischarin is a novel protein discovered by the Alahari lab. The research team demonstrated that it functions as a molecular scaffold that holds and interacts with several protein partners in a number of biological processes. The lab’s earlier research found that Nischarin acts as a tumor suppressor that may inhibit the spread, or metastasis, of breast and other cancers. 

The current research project, conducted in a knockout mouse model, found that Nischarin interacts with and controls the activity of a gene called AMPK. AMPK regulates metabolic stability. The research team discovered that Nischarin binds to AMPK and inhibits its activity. In Nischarin-deleted mice, the researchers found decreased activation of genes that make glucose. The study showed that Nischarin also interacts with a gene regulating glucose uptake. Blood glucose levels were lower in the knockout mice, with improved glucose and insulin tolerance. As well, the researchers showed that Nischarin mutation inhibits several genes involved in fat metabolism and the accumulation of fat in the liver. The knockout mice displayed increased energy expenditure despite their smaller growth and appetite suppression leading to decreased food intake and weight reduction. 

“These studies demonstrate the potential of Nischarin as a regulator of metabolic diseases and suggest suppression of Nischarin function may be a valuable approach in the quest to cure such diseases as diabetes and obesity,” notes Dr. Alahari. 

 

According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 2013-2014, more than 2 in 3 US adults (70.2 percent) were considered to be overweight or obese. The American Diabetes Association says that in 2015, 30.3 million Americans, or 9.4% of the population, had diabetes. 

 

Spirit of Charity Awardee 

deBoisblancThe Spirit of Charity Foundation announced Dr. Bennett deBoisblanc, LSU Pulmonary/Critical Care as the 18th recipient of the Spirit of Charity Award.  This award is presented annually to a physician whose career began or was nurtured in the healing and teaching wards of Charity Hospital and who has made a significant contribution to medicine.  

John T. Paige, MD, FACS 

Paige PhotoDr. Paige is a Professor of Clinical Surgery with appointments in Anaesthesiology and Radiology at the LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine.  He is Director of the American College of Surgeons’ accredited Learning Centre there, is the Chairman of the Peri-Operative Simulation Interest Group of the Society for Simulation in Healthcare, and immediate past Chairman of the Simulation Committee for the Association for Surgical Education.

Dr. Paige received the SimHealth Best Paper Research Award for his presentation MOVING ON UP:  TEAM TRAINING FOR EMERGENCY ROOM TRAUMA TRANSFERS (TTERTT) given at the Australasian Simulation Congress 2017, in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia on August 31st 2017.

Research Targets Long-Term Brain Deficits In Cardiac Arrest Survivors

Leslie Capo, Director of Information Services, LSUHSC 

Jason Middleton, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Cell Biology and Anatomy, and Neuroscience at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine, and colleagues have performed research that may lead to a treatment to prevent long-term sensory problems by restoring normal brain function in survivors of cardiac arrest. The study, done in a rodent model and using modeling data, is published online in eNeuro, an open-access journal of the Society for Neuroscience.

Cardiac arrest is a common cause of brain injury. When the brain is deprived of oxygen, not only can cells die, but surviving cells can suffer damage resulting in long-term sensory dysfunction in the cortex. The cerebral cortex is the outer covering of the brain – the gray matter that covers hemispheres of the brain like a helmet. This is the part of the brain that receives sensory input, such as vision, hearing and touch, and areas of the cortex are also involved in more complex functions, such as memory, language, creativity, judgment and emotion.

The research team studied the long-term impact of cardiac arrest on the cortex in a rat model.  They measured sensory response and found that after oxygen deprivation, the sensory circuits in the cortex are less responsive with behavioral deficits. Their data suggest that cardiac arrest and resuscitation permanently affect cortical circuit function in survivors.

According to the American Heart Association, more than 350,000 Americans experienced out-of-hospital cardiac arrest last year. With bystander CPR, 46.1% survived.  “These findings lay the groundwork for further studies to pinpoint therapeutic targets to restore excitatory/inhibitory balance in the injured brain and mitigate sensory deficits later in life,” concludes Middleton.

The research team also included Drs. Daniel J. Simons, Robert S. B. Clark and Patrick M. Kochanek from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Drs. Jennifer W. Simmons and Michael Shoykhet from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

 

O2 & Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Reverses Brain Damage In Drowned Toddler

 Leslie Capo, Director of Information Services 

Dr. Paul Harch, Clinical Professor and Director of Hyperbaric Medicine at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine, and Dr. Edward Fogarty, at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine, report a case of the reversal of brain volume loss in a two-year-old drowning victim unresponsive to all stimuli treated with normobaric oxygen (oxygen at sea level) and hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT). The report is published in Medical Gas Research.

The two-year-old girl experienced cardiac arrest after a cold water drowning accident in a swimming pool. After resuscitation at Arkansas Children’s Hospital, MRI revealed deep gray matter injury and cerebral atrophy with gray and white matter loss. She had no speech, gait, or responsiveness to commands with constant squirming and head shaking at hospital discharge.

Dr. Harch was consulted, and because hyperbaric oxygen therapy was not available in the patient’s location, he began a bridging treatment to prevent permanent tissue degeneration until he could get the patient to a hyperbaric treatment center. Fifty-five days post-drowning, he began short duration treatment with 100% normobaric oxygen for 45 minutes twice a day through a nasal cannula. The patient became more alert, awake and stopped squirming. Her rate of neurological improvement increased with laughing, increased movement of arms, hands, grasp with the left hand, partial oral feeding, eye tracking and short-sequenced speech (pre-drowning speech level, but with diminished vocabulary).

The patient and family then traveled to New Orleans where 78 days post-drowning, Dr. Harch began treating her with hyperbaric oxygen therapy. She “dove” in a hyperbaric chamber for 45 minutes a day, five days a week for 40 sessions. At the beginning of each session, the patient showed visually apparent and/or physical examination-documented neurological improvement. After 10 HBOT sessions, the patient’s mother reported that her daughter was “near normal” except for gross motor function, and physical therapy was re-instituted. After 39 HBOT sessions, the patient exhibited assisted gait, speech level greater than pre-drowning, near normal motor function, normal cognition, improvement on nearly all neurological exam abnormalities, discontinuance of all medications, as well as residual emotional, gait and temperament deficits. Gait improvement was documented immediately upon returning home. An MRI at 27 days following HBOT session 40 and 162 days post-drowning demonstrated mild residual injury and near-complete reversal of cortical and white matter atrophy.

The synergy of increased oxygen and increased oxygen with pressure in the hormone-rich environment in a child’s growing brain is consistent with the synergy of growth hormones and hyperbaric oxygen caused by normobaric and hyperbaric oxygen-induced activation of genes that reduce inflammation and promote cell survival.

 

Aesculapian Society Awards 

The votes are in and the following faculty members and residents have been recognized by the Aesculapian Society, voted on by the medical students, for the Excellence in Teaching Award:

  • Fall, First Year Professor Award
    Dr. Jason Mussell (Cell Biology and Anatomy)
  • Spring, First Year Professor Award
    Dr. Mitzi Glover (Clinical Laboratory Science)
  • Fall, Second Year Professor Award
    Dr. Hamilton Farris (Neuroscience/Anatomy)
  • Spring, Second Year Professor Award
    Dr. Daniel Kapusta (Pharmacology)
  • Third Year Faculty Award
    Dr. Dean Lauret (Internal Medicine – Baton Rouge)
  • Fourth Year Faculty Award
    Dr. Fred Lopez (Medicine)
  • Junior Faculty Award
    Dr. Shane Guillory (Medicine)
  • Third Year Resident Award
    Dr. Katie Veron (Internal Medicine – Baton Rouge)
  • Fourth Year Resident Award
    Dr. Randy Rossignol (Internal Medicine – Baton Rouge)
  • Third Year Intern Award
    Dr. Matt Berlinger (Internal Medicine – Baton Rouge)
  • Fourth Year Intern Award
    Dr. Brandon Mong (Emergency Medicine – Baton Rouge)
  • Department Award
    Internal Medicine (Baton Rouge)