LSUHSC Walk to Support Heart Health

Bradley Spieler, M.D.

Suresh Alahari, Ph.D.

Dan Kapusta, Ph.D.

Zee Ali, M.D.

LSU Health Sciences Center was represented at the American Heart Association Heart Walk on November 17th at Lasalle Park in Metairie.  Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of men and women in America and has a higher-than-average incidence in south Louisiana. Each year ~600,000 Americans die of heart disease with an average of one death every 38 seconds.  LSU’s Cardiovascular Center of Excellence is at the forefront of research and discovery of treatments for cardiac disease and is supported through grants from the American Heart Association, amongst others. 

Forty five LSUHSC faculty, staff, and students signed up to participate or fundraise for the team, raising over $1300 in funds for the effort.  Members from multiple schools such as students from the School of Nursing assisted in staffing the event. LSU’s presence was recognized in formal event materials and with a shout-out during the morning’s warm up.

Thank you to all who participated and contributed; we know that heart disease is something with which many of our colleagues will have personal or family experience with, and are proud of our campus’s commitment to this endeavor which underscores our passion and pledge to the care of patients with cardiovascular disease. 


LSU Health Psychiatry Expertise Tapped For La Response To Opioid Crisis

Leslie Capo – Director of Information Services 

NOTE:  The following story also appeared in New Orleans’ City Business Magazine 

Working with the Louisiana Office of Behavioral Health, LSU Health New Orleans Department of Psychiatry will receive $7.2 million to address the opioid crisis in Louisiana. The funding, which will be directed toward the delivery of a combination of treatment, training and consultation activities, is part of  $23.5 million in grants over two years  from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the US Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to the Louisiana Department of Health. The Louisiana State Opioid Response Program will follow an evidence-based model that integrates a center of addiction expertise as a hub with spokes – a regional network of providers. 

As the only medical school in Louisiana certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology in the subspecialty of Addiction Psychiatry, LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine is the most qualified entity in the state to deliver and/or coordinate integrated supports and services designed to increase patient access to Opioid Use Disorder treatment. LSU Health New Orleans Department of Psychiatry’s role will involve a range of training and consultation services. These services include broad-based patient and programmatic support, as well as consultation to treating physicians participating in the Louisiana State Opioid Response Program. A major responsibility for the Department of Psychiatry will be to assure Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) services are consistent with the program requirements and patient needs. This important and innovative work will be directed by Dr. Howard Osofsky, Chairman of the LSU Health New Orleans Department of Psychiatry. Under Dr. Osofsky’s leadership, LSU Health New Orleans Department of Psychiatry has a distinguished history of bringing innovations in care to address serious and complex behavioral health issues affecting the health of Louisiana residents. 

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health, in 2016, there were 346 opioid-related overdose deaths in Louisiana—a rate of 7.7 deaths per 100,000 persons—compared to the national rate of 13.3 deaths per 100,000. 

Since 2012, use of heroin and synthetic opioids has increased dramatically in the state. From 2012 to 2016, heroin and synthetic opioid-related overdose deaths increased from 51 to 149 deaths and from 19 to 89 deaths, respectively. 

“The successful implementation of this collaborative endeavor led by the Office of Behavioral Health, will increase much needed access to evidence-based treatment models throughout Louisiana,” notes Dr. Howard Osofsky, Chairman of Psychiatry at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine. 

Tiger Run 2018

Aubrey Schacter (Class of 2020) 

The 32nd Annual Tiger Run 5K and 1 Mile Fun Run took place on November 18th in Audubon Park. It was a beautiful day spent with colleagues, friends, and family. Over 150 runners came out to support, and a wonderful time was had by all. After a fast and fun race, runners enjoyed jambalaya and other delicious refreshments. They also participated in various post-race festivities hosted by our student-run organizations, including a health fair, face painting, and other fun activities. Congratulations are due to Kaylin Beiter and Patrick Bernard, the fastest Female and Male 5K runners, respectively. Congratulations are also due to largest and fastest team, the L-Runs, who entered the race with 19 participants.  

Hosted by the LSU School of Medicine Student Government Association, funds from the Tiger Run directly benefit various student-run charitable organizations. This year, funds were allocated to Student Run Homeless Clinics, CORE, Tiger Cubs and NOWS Outreach Program. In addition, the students elected to make a special donation in honor of their late classmate, Seth Bombet. Seth was a counselor at Camp Dreamstreet, a summer camp that benefits children with physical disabilities in the Southeast region, and the organization was very important to him.  

These student-run organizations receive funding from community donations and grants, and much of their support comes from those who generously contribute to the cause and recognize the value that these groups provide to the community. Donations directly fund the organizations and their charitable outreach, and students are grateful for any financial assistance. Donations are handled by the LSU Health New Orleans Foundation, which is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization. If you missed this year’s Tiger Run and would like to help support these student-run organizations, please visit the LSU Health New Orleans Foundation web page today.  

Special thanks to Mr. John Melvin, The Talley Family, Costa del Mar, Insanitea Kombucha, Zapp’s, LSU Medical Alumni Association, Campus Federal, Sonic, Oral & Maxillofacial Surgical Associates, Dr. DaShawn Bakari, Dr. Anh Lee, Dr. Amanda Bray, and Dr. Raymond Watts for their contributions to the event.   

PurpleStride – The Walk to End Pancreatic Cancer!

Jennifer Gnerlich, M.D. (Department of Surgery) 

While pink may be the rage in October, we find ourselves turning to purple in November to support pancreatic cancer awareness. While not a common cancer, the number of people affected is increasing every year with an expected 55,000 to be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this year. 

The hardest part about pancreatic cancer? There is no screening test, blood work, or X-ray to detect this cancer at an early stage. So, people are left to try and figure out the warning signs on their own, usually after the cancer is at advanced stages. In fact, over 50% of patients will present with Stage IV (terminal) disease. 

I was recently asked how we can make rare cancers more well known to aid in patient support and funding for research. Awareness is the key, but not always a simple solution. A celebrity being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer brings it to the spotlight for a brief time: Patrick Swayze, Alan Rickman, and Aretha Franklin, to name a few. To really have an impact, we need something more lasting, and that is where the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN) comes into play.  

Their main event is PurpleStride – the walk to end pancreatic cancer and wage hope. While it happens around the nation at different times of the year, their mission is the same: raising money for research, counseling services for patients, and advocating on a federal level, which happens every June in Washington DC. The NCI funding for other major cancers is anywhere from 3 to 6 fold more than for pancreatic cancer, but the 5-year survival rate is 8.5% for pancreatic cancer compared with 90% for breast cancer. These huge differences mean that funding support needs to make a major shift.  

My passion for my patients extends outside of the operating room, and that was why it was important for LSU to become the first Flagship Team in Louisiana and the first of four Flagship Teams in the nation. By becoming a Flagship Team, we announce to the Louisiana area and nation that we are dedicated to finding help for his disease and becoming a destination center. With almost 100 team members to run, walk and fundraise, we ended up raising over $6500 for PurpleStride and helping PanCAN reach their goal of achieving over $100,000 in funds. A superb achievement for LSU and PanCAN!  

There were so many great things about the PurpleStride event held on Sunday, November 4, 2018. LSU received an award for the #3 team in fundraising, which means that we are not only standing out for the excellent cancer care that we provide for our patients, but also by our community involvement and spirit.  My patient, Mr. Joseph Durr, and his wife came out to walk after 45 days in the hospital following a very difficult pancreatic surgery. It makes me proud that my patient is back up on his feet and ready to tell the world his story in order to bring about the necessary change.  

As you can imagine by the above numbers, survivors are the minority here and a lot of family members walk in remembrance of a loved one. My hope is that this will slowly change in the future. With fire in our belly and purple in our hearts, I truly believe that we can find new ways to treat this disease. While PurpleStride and the LSU team “Purple Reign” is over this year, plan to come out next year for the event! 

NIH’s All of Us Brings the Future of Health to LSU Health New Orleans

Leslie Capo, Director of Information Services 

 On October 11th and 12th LSU Health New Orleans hosted the National Institutes of Health’s All of Us Journey, a traveling hands-on exhibit that raises awareness about the All of Us Research Program. All of Us aims to speed up health research and medical breakthroughs. To do so, All of Us is asking 1 million volunteers to share different types of health and lifestyle information—information like where they live, what they do, and their family health history. 

New Orleans is one stop on the All of Us Journey’s national tour. Unlike a single research study focused on a specific disease or community, the All of Us Research Program will create a research resource to inform thousands of studies, covering a wide range of health conditions. This information could help researchers learn more about different diseases and treatments and improve health for generations to come. 

NIH and its partners, including LSU Health New Orleans, are creating a research community of one million people who will share their unique health data. This will include answering survey 

questions and sharing electronic health records (EHR). Some participants may also be asked to 

provide blood or urine samples. They will be asked to answer more questions from time to time. It’s up to participants to decide how much information they want to share. 

The health data gathered from participants will be stored in a database. Approved researchers can access this data to explore how factors like environment, lifestyle, and genes, can impact health. This may help develop new medical treatments that are unique to individuals, and enable a future of precision medicine for all of us. 

The All of Us Research Program is part of the Precision Medicine Initiative. Precision medicine is health care that is based on individuals. It takes into account factors like where a person lives, occupation, and family health history. Precision medicine’s goal is to be able to tell people the best ways to stay healthy. If someone does get sick, precision medicine may help health care teams find the treatment that will work best. This will help give health care providers the information they need to make tailored recommendations, relevant to people of different backgrounds, ages, or regions. 

Researchers can use All of Us data to better understand health and disease, which could: 1) Identify risk factors for certain diseases; 2) Join people with the right clinical studies: 3) Figure out which treatments work for different types of people; and 4) Explore how technology can encourage people to take better care of their health. 

2018 Medical Student Research Day

Medical Student Research Day – October 19th, 2018 

On Friday, October 19th, 2018 the LSUHSC School of Medicine hosted its annual Medical Student Research Day. The event, organized by the Office of Medical Student Research, featured 52 poster presentations.  

The School of Medicine invites all medical students and MD/PhD students who are pursuing research studies to submit an abstract and present a poster. Students who participate in the summer research program have committed to submitting an abstract for Research Day. Students must have conducted their research during medical school in order to present at Research Day. 

A group of faculty and postdoctoral fellows review the abstracts and award prizes for best presentations.  The following students were chosen by the judges to have exemplary research and presentations: 

First Place:  Blake Denley 

Mentor:  Grace Athas 

Project:  “Exercise, Stress and Happiness in the Pre-Clinical Medical Students”   

Second Place (tie):  Jacob Stove & Joshua Grace 

Project:  “The Epidemiology of Fatal Accidental Overdoses in East Baton Rouge Parish from 2013 through 2016:  A Four Year Survey” 

Second Place (tie):  Mariana Tumminello 

Mentor:  Patrick Greiffenstein 

Project:  “ Understanding the Relationship Between Pulmonary Contusion and Rib Fracture Severity” 

Second Place (tie):  Nicole Dominique 

Mentor:  Amanda Staiano 

Project:  “ Healthy Lifestyle Summer Camp for Children at Risk for Type 2 Diabetes: Reduction in Weight and Screen-Time Usage” 

Third Place (tie): Camille Prejean 

Mentor:  Jennifer Lentz 

Project:  “Harmonin Expression & Localization in the Retina of Non-human Primates and Mice at Multiple Developmental Stages” 

Third Place (tie): Adam Prevot 

Mentor:  Gerard Mundinger 

Project:  “20 Years of VCFS in South Louisiana:  A Look at Cardiac Anomalies and Surgical Palate Repair in 22q11 Deletion Syndrome Patients” 

In Memorium – Dr. Gerald S. Berenson

One of the principal findings of the Bogalusa Heart Study changed our understanding about the onset of adult heart disease. A primary finding of the study is that the major causes of adult heart diseases begin in childhood; this includes atherosclerosis, coronary artery disease, hypertension, Type II Diabetes and obesity, which had never been seen before. 

Following his graduation from Tulane University School of Medicine in 1945, Dr. Berenson served in the United States Navy. He was a Navy doctor at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and a ship’s doctor to approximately 400 crewmembers on the USS Tanner AGS-15. 

In 1954, he joined the faculty of LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine, where he remained for the next 38 years. He rose through the academic ranks becoming a professor and Chief of Cardiology. Dr. Berenson became Director of the first National Heart Lung Blood Institute National Research and Demonstration Center – Arteriosclerosis. The program operated out of LSU Health New Orleans. It was the first and only National Research and Demonstration Center for Arteriosclerosis; the funding for the first year of the program was $2,691,382 and the funding for the second year was $2,892,631; these are the largest one-year grants he received over the course of his research career, although the total research funding he was awarded was $55 million.       

Dr. Berenson rejoined the LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine faculty in 2015. His goal was to continue research and to facilitate the development a Center for Healthy Aging and Longevity at LSU Health.  

Over six decades of researching the causes of heart disease, Dr. Berenson authored more than 1,000 peer-reviewed publications. He was elected to leadership positions at the Louisiana affiliate of the American Heart Association, the Southern Society for Clinical Investigation and Louisiana Heart Association. Nationally, he served as Governor for Louisiana of the American College of Cardiology and was invited to join the Association of University Cardiologists, an organization that is limited to 125 cardiologists. He was elected Chairman of the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease Committee of the American College of Cardiology and was named Laureate of the American College of Physicians. Dr. Berenson was also a president of the American Society of Geriatric Cardiology. He was the recipient of professional awards in cardiology, public health and epidemiology, including the Spirit of Charity Award, the American Heart Association Population Research Prize, the American Heart Association Distinguished Scientist Award, and the Paavo Nurmi Foundation International Award. Dr. Berenson was named 2007 Honorary Alumnus by the LSU Medical Alumni Association. 

Dr. Berenson was also honored with numerous awards for community service, philanthropy and humanitarian initiatives, including being named a Paul Harris Fellow by the Bogalusa Rotary Club in 2013 when he also received a Certificate of Merit and Key to the City from Bogalusa Mayor Charles Mizell, as well as the A. I. Botnick Torch of Liberty Award from the Anti-Defamation League of New Orleans (awarded jointly with wife Joan Berenson) in 2014. 

Dr. Berenson was featured in the multi-part HBO documentary on obesity entitled “The Weight of the Nation,” which includes a substantial segment on the Bogalusa Heart Study. 

Among his other interests, Dr. Berenson bred cattle. He received the “Breeder of the Year” Award from Beefmaster Breeders United at the organization’s annual meeting in San Antonio, Texas. 

Dr. Berenson is survived by his wife of 67 years, Joan Seidenbach Berenson, four children, Leslie, Ann, Robert and Laurie, as well as nine grandchildren and three great grandchildren.