Ward Rounds News

Jameson to Step Down as Feinberg Dean

J. Larry Jameson, MD, PhD, became dean of the medical school in 2007J. Larry Jameson, MD, PhD, became dean of the medical school in 2007. 

In early September, J. Larry Jameson, MD, PhD, announced that he will step down as vice president for medical affairs and Lewis Landsberg Dean of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine to become executive vice president and dean of the school of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. 

Jameson became dean on July 1, 2007, and began his tenure at Northwestern in 1993 as chief of the division of endocrinology, metabolism and molecular medicine, a position he held for seven years. In 2000, he was named Irving S. Cutter Professor of Medicine and chair of the department of medicine.  

Among a number of professional distinctions and honors, Jameson was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Institute of Medicine, established by the National Academy of Sciences to honor professional achievement in the health sciences. 

As dean, Jameson has led significant strategic efforts within Feinberg and across the University and its partners. This work included the One Northwestern planning process and the development of the strategic vision and plan for Northwestern Medicine with Northwestern Memorial Hospital and the Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation (NMFF).

To ensure leadership continuity at Feinberg during the transition, the school named Jeffrey Glassroth, MD, the president and CEO of the Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation, vice dean of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, and a professor of medicine as the interim dean (beginning January 1, 2011) while the University embarks on a national search for a successor.

Northwestern Joins Michael J. Fox Foundation in $40 Million Study

The Northwestern Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Center has been selected as one of 18 official study sites for the Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI), a landmark observational study that aims to identify the biomarkers for Parkinson’s Disease. By using a combination of advanced imaging, biologics sampling and behavioral assessments to track newly diagnosed patients, researchers hope to gain knowledge that will improve the diagnosis of patients and accelerate the development of breakthrough treatments.

“Parkinson’s is a disease without a clear-cut diagnosis and without a cure,” said Tanya Simuni, MD, associate professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, director of the Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Center and principal investigator for the trial at Northwestern. “While significant strides have been made in the development of drugs to manage the disease, hope for the future lies in the development of new drugs to slow or stop the progression of Parkinson’s.”

Simuni and her colleagues have been at the forefront of Parkinson’s research for years, but explain that the missing link for the next generation of therapies is the identification of biomarkers, or objectively measureable characteristics that indicate the presence of the disease.

An estimated one million Americans suffer from Parkinson’s disease. Together with study sites across the United States and in Europe, Northwestern will play a critical role in this collaborative effort to further Parkinson’s research.  The study is sponsored by the Michael J. Fox Foundation.

Michael J. Fox, who was diagnosed with young-onset Parkinson’s disease 19 years ago said, “This is an ambitious undertaking, no doubt. But nothing worth having comes easily. Everything we’ve learned up to now, the partnerships we’ve worked to forge, the results of research we’ve funded — it’s all put us in position to launch this effort. We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and, hopefully, get this done.”

PPMI study participants will undergo numerous tests and assessments of bodily processes related to Parkinson’s, but will not receive an experimental drug or treatment. This study will use a combination of imaging techniques, collection of blood, urine and spinal fluid, and clinical tests to track for potential changes which could indicate the progression of the disease. Beginning in September, Northwestern hopes to enroll 20 subjects who will be followed for approximately two years.

For more information on the study, please visit the Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Center’s web site.

New Ophthalmology Chair Named

Nicholas J. Volpe, MD, Professor and Adele Niessen Chair in Ophthalmology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, was named the new chair of ophthalmology at Northwestern effective Sept 1.

Recognized nationally and internationally for his contributions to neuro-ophthalmology and resident education, Volpe served for more 10 years as vice chair of the department of ophthalmology at the University of Pennsylvania, where he established a pre-eminent neuro-ophthalmology program at the Scheie Eye Institute.  He also was recognized in the Top Doctors list of Philadelphia Magazine for 2009 and 2010.

In his new position, Volpe said he plans to develop a technologically advanced, state-of-the- art specialty practice that attracts patients regionally and nationally, develop focused areas of basic, translational, and clinical research and create “the most outstanding residency program in the country.”

He said he is inheriting what is already “an excellent department and with Northwestern resources, innovative ideas, and continued hard work, I believe this department can continue to advance in all of its missions.”

Volpe currently edits or reviews 10 journals, has authored more than 100 research papers and is co-author of Neuro-ophthalmology:  Diagnosis and Management, a highly regarded textbook of neuro-ophthalmology. His clinical expertise also includes adult strabismus surgery.

Volpe succeeds Lee Jampol, MD, who was chair of ophthalmology for nearly 27 years.

PA Program Offers Curriculum that is Directly Applicable to Clinical Practice

Margaret Wilson recently earned a Bachelor of Science degree with a concentration in brain, behavior, and cognitive sciences from the University of Michigan. Her love of medicine inspired her to pursue a career as a physician assistant.

She is part of the inaugural class in the Northwestern Physician Assistant (PA) Program, a two-year graduate program that awards students a Master of Medical Sciences degree. Wilson says she connected with Department of Family and Community Medicine faculty and staff during the interview process and remains impressed with the program’s resources, which are offered as a result of its integration with the medical school and the city of Chicago.

James Van Rhee, MS, PA-C, associate professor and director of the PA Program, credits the recent growth in popularity of the PA profession to health care reform and the changes happening in medical education. A number of well-known magazines including Money and Forbes presently list the PA profession as one of the top in the U.S. 

Money reported that earning a master's degree in physician assistant studies offers the best salary and employment prospects over the next decade,” Van Rhee says, adding that similar statistics were influential in motivating the medical school to launch its program. “It is my hope that the PA Program will enhance the medical education provided here at Feinberg.”

The first class of 30 students each came to the medical school with an average of 2,500 clinical hours, which they will expand on as they obtain real-life experience at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and community clinics. 

When they are not in clinic, students spend approximately 25 hours per week in the classroom. The program includes lectures, which ensure students become competent consumers of medical literature and research, but centers around an innovative curriculum involving problem-based learning.

“PA students collaborate in small groups and work through real clinical cases to learn the medical skills needed to take care of patients,” says Van Rhee. “Through this method, students develop lifelong learning and clinical reasoning skills that they will need for clinical practice.”

Wilson says that the program’s “intense yet helpful” problem based learning technique allows her to directly apply her newfound knowledge to patients. “I have a passion for healthcare and want to make a difference,” said Wilson. “Being a physician assistant means I’ll have the flexibility to pursue different areas of interest and be a part of this changing field of practice.”

Founders’ Day Marks Opening of 2010-11 Academic Year

Students from the Class of 2014Students from the Class of 2014 were welcomed into the medical profession by donning their white coats and reciting the Declaration of Geneva for the first time.

With the passing of the Affordable Care Act earlier this year, the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine 2010 Founders’ Day Convocation on August 27 took on a dual purpose: to officially welcome 170 first-year students from the Class of 2014, and to prepare these future physicians for the coming transformation of health care in America.

Keynote speaker Russell G. Robertson, MD, professor and chair of the Department of Family and Community Medicine, engaged listeners with his Dr. Seuss-inspired presentation, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”

In his address, Robertson advised students on the importance of managing their careers. He asked each of them to compare their internal environment (medical school at an academic health center) with the external environment (health care reform and the economy) in light of their responsibilities to society and, more appropriately, to their patients.

“You will be taught by outstanding clinicians and care for a great deal of sick people in the next four years,” Robertson said. “But, you need to recognize that academic medical centers do not portray the world as it is, since less than one percent of the population has the means to be hospitalized in this setting.”

To broaden their experience, Robertson encouraged students to seek out opportunities to treat patients in community clinics across Chicago and, through Feinberg’s global health programs, the world.

Robertson then shared statistics about universal health care coverage, which he said could add four percent to overall demand for physicians, increasing the projected physician shortfall by 31,000. It also points to a future of more team-based health care, he said, one that relies on partnerships between physicians, physician assistants (PA), nurses, and other healthcare providers.

With Northwestern’s first class of PA students entering this year, Robertson reminded students that their class would be the first to sit alongside these individuals in the classroom and work alongside them in clerkships. Since very few medical schools integrate PA and MD candidates, Robertson says, Feinberg students will earn a leg up on other future providers.

“You’ll be at the cutting edge,” said Robertson. “You have every reason to expect long and satisfying careers.”

Class of 2012 student Bruce Henschen, president of the Medical School Student Senate, led the White Coat Ceremony, encouraging second-year students to assist their first-year “little sibs” in adorning their first white coat — symbolic of their entrance into the medical community.

The tradition proved especially memorable for Class of 2013 student Jennifer Hoffmann, BA ’09, who cloaked her older sister Mindy Hoffmann, BA ’10, a first-year. The New Jersey natives, both Northwestern University undergraduates, say they have always been close and look forward to assisting each other in their medical school journeys.

“I provided Mindy with my old books, my notes, and tons of advice,” Jennifer says. “This ceremony is a special moment for our family, and I’m just so proud to be here with my sister.”

The Les Turner ALS Foundation 30th Anniversary Symposium

In May, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and the Les Turner ALS Foundation celebrated a 30-year partnership in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) research and patient care.

The symposium featured the research of Teepu Siddique, MD, Les Turner ALS Foundation/Herbert C. Wenske Foundation Professor and director of the Division of Neuromuscular Medicine, and Pembe Hande Ozdinler, PhD, assistant professor in the Ken and Ruth Davee Department of Neurology and Clinical Neurological Sciences.

Siddique described the history of ALS research and shared recent breakthroughs. In particular, he explained his team’s recent discovery of a link between sporadic and familial forms of the disease. Ozdinler described several high-impact collaborations in which she is involved.

Speaking about her passion for ALS research and patient care, Wendy Abrams, executive director of the Les Turner ALS Foundation, said that she felt privileged to collaborate with Northwestern on this endeavor.

John A. Kessler, MD, Ken and Ruth Davee Professor of Stem Cell Biology and chair of the department of neurology and clinical neurological sciences, pointed to the pivotal role the Les Turner foundation has played in ALS breakthroughs, and discussed some of the promising research in cell regeneration currently being conducted at the medical school.

Innovation Day Brings Entrepreneurial Minds Together

Guillermo Ameer, MDGuillermo Ameer, MD, associate professor in the Department of Surgery at Northwestern, presented two recent spin-out companies, ProSorp BioTech and VesselTek Biomedical during the afternoon pitch session at Innovation Day.

Innovation Day 2010 promoted the latest translational research and new biomedical products being developed across the University. It also served as a venue to stimulate dialogue between academic researchers, clinical affiliates, and commercial enterprises.

The panelists and speakers spanned multiple disciplines, campuses and clinical affiliates, and featured research based on grant funding programs, such as the NUCATS Center for Translational Innovation (CTI) pilot program, the Dixon Translational Research pilot programs, and the Baxter/NU Alliance program. Norbert Riedel, CSO of Baxter Healthcare, served as a keynote speaker.

An afternoon session featured five-minute pitches about late-stage commercialization projects and recent startup companies to business development professionals and early-stage investors. More than a dozen company founders and scientists presented their ideas to potential funders.

“Attendees particularly gravitated to the pitch session, which was a great way to get across a tremendous amount of potential high-impact activity in a short period of time,” explained Jim Bray, assistant director for CTI. CTI will track outcomes and hopes to be able to point to specific cases of sponsored research, licenses and/or investment as a result of the event, which was sponsored by Baxter, along with the Johnson & Johnson Corporate Office of Science & Technology and Northwestern.

Faculty Receive Internal and External Recognition

Researcher Michael Wolf Awarded Fulbright Scholarship

Michael S. Wolf, PhD, MPH, MA, associate professor of medicine and associate division chief of research in the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine Division of General Internal Medicine, has been awarded a J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship. The Fulbright Program, designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other countries, provides participants with the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas, and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.

Wolf, also a member of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center and director of the medical school’s Health Literacy and Learning Program, aims to use this opportunity to bridge longstanding collaborations between Northwestern and the United Kingdom around the topic of health literacy and health disparities research.

“I am very honored to have the opportunity to work with several academic and public health institutions across the United Kingdom, including the World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre for Policy Research on Social Determinants of Health,” Wolf says. “My hope will be that the time I spend abroad will spark many future partnerships — from sharing knowledge on health interventions to joint research applications in either country.”

As a Fulbright Scholar, Wolf plans to focus on several research projects that investigate the feasibility of promoting health literacy in the areas of medication safety, chronic disease management, and physician-patient communication. He plans to spend a great deal of time addressing how health tasks can be deconstructed and simplified.

Northwestern Shares in Global Humanitarian Award

When it came time to recognize one Chicago metropolitan area individual or organization that provided voluntary, longstanding, and international humanitarian health services this year, the Institute of Medicine of Chicago was faced with a difficult task. Unable to choose one person or group that had the biggest impact, as there was a huge outpouring of aide from the Chicago medical community for Haiti, the organization decided to honor all of the people and institutions that submitted information about their Haiti relief efforts. Northwestern was among six institutions recognized during an IOMC annual meeting and awards dinner in May for Chicago’s Response to the Crisis in Haiti.

Dr. McLone Receives Russe Citation for Exemplary Compassion in Health Care

David G. McLone, MD, PhD, has devoted his career to the care of children with spina bifida. The professor of pediatric neurosurgery at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine has addressed the issues from many perspectives, including scientific study of anatomy and physiology, development of new surgical techniques and tools, clinical outcomes data collection over several decades, and the founding of The Village, a residential transitional housing complex for adults with spina bifida.

This work began as early as his neurosurgical residency at Children’s Memorial Hospital where he established a spina bifida clinic. It continued as he studied outcomes and developed new surgical techniques. Through his work over the years, he developed the standard of care for children with spina bifida, and now more than 75 percent of those he treats as medical director of the Spina Bifida Program at Children’s Memorial Hospital survive into adulthood.

In 2009, the National Spina Bifida Foundation recognized Dr. McLone’s pioneering efforts in the field with a Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2010, the Institute of Medicine of Chicago honored Dr. McLone with the Russe Citation for Exemplary Compassion in Health Care, which demonstrates that humanitarianism must characterize the practice of medicine and medical education.

New Book Gives Doctors Proven Approaches to Integrative Cardiology

Stephen Devries, MD, a preventive cardiologist and associate professor of medicine-cardiology at Northwestern, is taking sides in the decades-long debate over the merits of traditional medicine versus alternative treatment for cardiac care—both sides!

Devries shares an approach to heart health that is gaining popularity in the book “Integrative Cardiology” (Oxford Press, October 2010), co-authored by James E. Dalen, MD, of the University of Arizona College of Medicine.

Like most cardiologists, Devries prescribes prescription cholesterol and blood pressure medications and surgical procedures to his patients. But he also recommends red yeast rice supplements, the Mediterranean diet and daily yoga sessions to some patients

His new book offers a comprehensive compilation of scientifically validated information on integrative cardiology — the combination of modern medicine and alternative therapies — in one place.

O’Leary Receives NMFF Excellence Award for Clinical Innovation

Kevin O’Leary, MD, associate chief in the division of hospital medicine, led efforts to implement unit-based co-leadership and Structured Inter-Disciplinary Rounds (SIDR), which has resulted in improved teamwork ratings among hospital professionals and reduced the rate of preventable adverse events on medical units. The Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation recognized these efforts with the Excellence Award for Clinical Innovation. Dr. O’Leary is also an associate program director for the internal medicine residency program and co-chairs the Department of Medicine Quality Management Committee.

Medical Faculty Council Announces 2010 Mentors of the Year

Kiang Liu, PhD (left), and Stanford T. Shulman, were honored with 2010 Mentor of the Year awards.

The Medical Faculty Council (MFC) honored Kiang Liu, PhD, and Stanford T. Shulman, MD, with 2010 Mentor of the Year awards in September. The medical school awards recognize outstanding faculty members who have demonstrated a deep commitment to fostering the professional growth and development of their colleagues. 

This year the MFC received peer nominations for 27 faculty members. For the first time, the organization recognized two mentors, one in the clinical arena and the other in research.

“I try to provide opportunities for my junior colleagues to grow by helping them to conduct their studies, and by introducing them to potential collaborators,” says Liu, professor and associate chair of research for the Department of Preventive Medicine and professor of medicine. “Collaboration is not a one-way street. I learn a lot from my junior colleagues; they broaden my knowledge base, too.”

Clinical faculty mentor Shulman, Virginia H. Rogers Professor of Pediatric Infectious Diseases in the Department of Pediatrics and chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Children's Memorial Hospital, says he promotes the view that the most important task of a division, section, or department head is to support the mentoring of trainees and junior faculty.

“I think most of us in academic medicine are here in large part because we want to identify and to nurture the careers of bright young students, residents, fellows, and faculty — supporting their academic careers in research, education, clinical work, and other endeavors,” Shulman says.

DeCamp, Eskandari, Mendelson, and Morasch Invested

Four faculty at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine were honored with investiture celebrations this summer.

Malcolm M. DeCamp Jr., MD, was invested as the Fowler- McCormick Professor. Dr. DeCamp joined the Department of Surgery in December 2009.

Mark K. Eskandari, MD, was named the James S.T. Yao Professor of Education in Vascular Surgery.

Ellen B. Mendelson, MD, FACR, was invested as the Lee F. Rogers, MD, Professor of Medical Education in the Department of Radiology.

Mark D. Morasch, MD, was named the John Marquardt Clinical Professor in Vascular Surgery.

McGee Honored by University of Iowa

Richard McGee, PhD, associate dean for faculty recruitment and professional development in the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University, has received the Distinguished Alumni Award for Achievement from the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine. He earned his PhD in biochemistry from the University of Iowa in 1975.

Faculty Shine during Founders’ Day Celebration

Everyone knows that the Founders’ Day White Coat Ceremony acts as an initiation for each new class of first year medical students each year, but it also serves as the venue for presenting numerous honors to faculty who have made an impact on students, as well as on Feinberg leadership. This year’s convocation was no exception. 

The Dean’s Awards for Teaching Excellence went to:

George H. Joost Awards for Teaching Excellence honored four faculty, including:

Michael M. Ravitch Outstanding Teacher Awards went to:

Martha Gulati, MD, assistant professor in the Departments of Medicine and Preventive Medicine received the 2010 American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA)/Gender Equity Award.