Interprofessional Institute Promotes Collaborative Learning
The university is committed to the education and training of health professionals who can work, communicate and lead as members of clinical healthcare teams to build a safer, more responsive, more effective system of patient care.
In dedicating the DeWitt C. Baldwin Institute for Interprofessional Education on May 15, 2014, the university underscored its strategic investment in reshaping medical and health science education through collaborative learning.
DeWitt C. Baldwin Jr., the institute’s namesake, a pioneer of interprofessional learning and practice and now Scholar in Residence at the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, was lauded as “the soul, conscience and courage” of graduate medical education by Timothy Brigham, MDiv, PhD, ACGME senior vice president. Brigham credited Baldwin with leading innovations that improved education and safety in residency programs, the institutions that house them and the clinical practice of medicine.
“It was Dr. Baldwin who said, ‘Look. See. If you do it together, you do it better than if you do it by yourself,’” Brigham said.
RFUMS President and CEO K. Michael Welch, MB, ChB, FRCP, praised Baldwin for his tenacity in teaching that “health and health care improve when we practitioners, each with our own knowledge, perspective and skills, work together in mutual respect, shared responsibility and decision-making and, above all, open communication.
“It’s our desire that the Baldwin Institute and the academics and practitioners, present and future, who contribute to its growth and success, emerge as leaders in interprofessional education and practice to improve the health and well-being of our nation and the world,” Welch said.
Located in a newly renovated wing of the Health Sciences Building, the institute is tasked with identifying, developing, managing and evaluating interprofessional educational activities at RFUMS. An initial priority was a redesign of required first year interprofessional coursework, first offered in 2004. Foundations of Interprofessional Practice now includes training in basic TeamSTEPPS – team strategies and tools to enhance performance and patient safety, an initiative developed by federal healthcare organizations. The institute is also working to expand interprofessional education into portions of clinical rotations while forging creative logistical solutions.
“It’s about expanding access so that our students in clinical rotations can take advantage of interprofessional interactions that naturally exist in a clinical setting,” said Douglas Reifler, MD, vice president and director of the institute and associate dean for CMS student affairs.
Under one iteration, students, wherever they are, may be asked to identify interprofessional interactions through assigned exercises, independent learning and written reflection.
The Baldwin Institute is engaging faculty across the university in interprofessional projects and research initiatives; 20 faculty and students produced more than a dozen papers, posters and presentations for “All Together Better Health,” the seventh international conference on interprofessional practice and education held in Pittsburgh in June. Institute staff also presented at the Chicago Simulation Consortium 12th Annual Conference, held in August.
“It’s important that the institute not only be a place where interprofessional things happen,” Reifler said. “The purpose of the institute is to catalyze and engage faculty from all areas of our university. That’s critical. There’s no way the university can be leading interprofessional education the way we intend to without engaging faculty and students broadly.”
The institute promotes conversations concerning ongoing substantive changes in the way health care is delivered in the United States – from siloed specialties to interprofessional teams that share responsibility for patient care.
“People are definitely taking interprofessionalism in health care seriously,” Reifler said. “There’s widespread recognition that patient safety and the quality of the care they receive are closely linked to good-working teams. It’s an ongoing conversation that we need to promote.”
Alliance Expands, Enriches Learning
The university strives to model the collaboration it prizes as the surest path to the growth and development of faculty and students. Its alliance with DePaul University is an investment that will produce highly qualified, culturally diverse medical and health science professionals prepared to master the challenges the future inevitably brings.
The Alliance for Health Sciences between Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science and DePaul University, now entering its third year, continues to drive collaboration and new approaches aimed at improving the education and development of the nation’s healthcare workforce.
“The alliance not only puts the student first, it also puts the future patient first,” said RFUMS Provost Wendy Rheault, PT, PhD. “It’s helping us identify qualified students with the aptitude and the desire to pursue the health professions. Together, in a collaborative inter-institutional educational model, we are providing education and experiences critical to both career success and the health and safety of patients.”
Highly motivated DePaul students may enter early admission pathways to six highly competitive RFUMS master’s and doctoral programs: medicine, podiatric medicine, pharmacy, physical therapy, pathologists’ assistant studies and physician assistant studies. Under the 3+ program, the first year of graduate school counts toward a bachelor of science from DePaul, thereby shortening the total length of education by one year.
At RFUMS, they will learn and work in interprofessional teams tasked with solving real-world clinical cases.
“It’s our mission to provide a high-quality and up-to-date education to our students,” said Patrick Knott, PhD, PA-C, vice president for strategic enrollment management and RFUMS professor. “DePaul is helping us do that by offering a wider range of courses to our students through collaboration with their colleges of science and health, communication, law, and business.”
An increasing number of courses are shared between RFUMS and DePaul graduate-level programs. Collaboration in the areas of nursing, health informatics, health communication and health business administration translate to increased choices for students at both universities and are helping to build new competencies and skills.
College of Health Professions student Allison McCorkle recently completed Health and Family Communication, an elective provided by the DePaul Master of Arts in Health Communications program.
“The material was really interesting,” said McCorkle, who will earn a Master of Science in health administration from RFUMS in December. “Families and support networks are key to the success of medical treatment and decision-making. It’s important to understand the dynamics of family interaction.”
RFUMS has also opened some of its online courses to DePaul students. This year it has offered classes and a Certificate in Health Administration to DePaul’s Master’s Entry to Nursing Practice students, boosting their expertise and competence in that area of study, said Diane Bridges, PhD, MSN, RN, RFUMS assistant professor and director of the Healthcare Administration program.
“We realize the content of each of our programs will benefit students who can graduate with extra competencies,” Bridges said. “Health administration is about applying knowledge for positive outcomes for patients and the delivery of health care. The additional courses both universities can offer under the alliance make our students more skilled and marketable.”
Bridges, who is also working with DePaul’s MBA in Health Sector Management, MA in Health Communications, MS in Informatics and BS in Health Sciences programs, said DePaul students appear to like the flexibility of a hybrid program, which offers off-campus, online advantages to help meet time, work and family needs.
“We have more diverse students coming into our program from DePaul,” Bridges said. “They’re sharing everything about themselves and their cultures. Our respective faculty members have brainstormed and worked together to develop content-specific needs. Sharing our knowledge and expertise has certainly been worthwhile. The scholarship that has developed through our collaboration is priceless.”
RFUMS has also worked with DePaul in mentoring students and offering summer research opportunities. Knott teaches Introduction to the Health Professions at DePaul’s Lincoln Park campus, where he helps students explore their options for different healthcare careers and counsels them on how to be competitive applicants to the programs they choose.
“The mission of Rosalind Franklin is, in part, to give young, talented scientists the best opportunity for success,” Knott said. “If that’s the ideal, it doesn’t make sense to wait for those students to show up on our doorstep. We have to go out and find them. We want to help cultivate those undergraduates and help prepare them to succeed in a challenging graduate school environment.”
New paths of scientific inquiry have opened under the Alliance for Health Sciences, which promotes the sharing of knowledge, technology and research funding under a joint pilot grant program. When alliances are made, energy flows, relationships are built, possibilities are envisioned. Openness is key.
Collaborations between investigators at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science and DePaul University are driving exciting, high-tech research aimed at improving health in the United States and across the world.
Among the 11 studies funded under the RFUMS/DePaul Alliance for Health Sciences Pilot Grant program is one that will help therapists make informed, data-driven choices about the use of motionbased games in the rehabilitation of patients with brain injuries.
“DePaul has the expertise in computer game design and concept and we have the clinical research expertise on movement and balance,” said Fang “Amanda” Lin, DSc, MMed, BEng, assistant professor of the department of podiatric surgery and biomechanics at Dr. William M. Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine and director of the college’s Human Performance Lab.
“It’s been great to tap into each other’s knowledge,” Lin said. “That’s why the alliance is so powerful.”
Formed in 2012, the alliance helps expand and enrich programs at both universities through defined curricular pathways, academic programs that address emerging needs, faculty research collaborations and enhanced student research opportunities.
Lin and Stephanie C.S. Wu, DPM, MSc, associate dean of research, professor, department of podiatric surgery and biomechanics, and director of Scholl College’s Center for Lower Extremity Ambulatory Research, met Cynthia Putnam, PhD, assistant professor at DePaul’s College of Computing and Digital Media, at a 2013 alliance research retreat.
In discussions, the scientists, who if not for the retreat may have never met, realized they could work
together to expand the study.
“Up to this point, it’s been a qualitative study for a recommendation system that clinicians can use to select games based on their patients’ abilities and therapeutic goals,” said Putnam, who has published and presented on the development of evidence-based gaming tools to help therapists. “Many such systems are based on subjective opinion. There’s a lot more credibility if you can back up use of a game with objective measures.”
Lin and Wu are leading the collection of objective measures for the study, including assessments and measurements on balance, postural stability, gait and physical activity level.
“The objective measures will allow quantitative association of gaming tools with rehabilitation measurements and ultimately lead to focused, target-specific therapy,” said Wu. “Each year, an estimated 1.7 million Americans sustain a brain injury. Knowing that our work can ultimately help improve care for these patients is extremely rewarding.”
Another area of potential collaborative research aims to bring telemedicine to Haiti, spurred additional collaboration between Scholl College at RFUMS and the College of Computing and Digital Media at DePaul.
The remote diagnosis and treatment of patients by means of digital technology could help cluster medical expertise, both clinical and academic, said Robert Joseph, DPM, PhD, SCPM chairman and assistant professor for the department of podiatric medicine and radiology.
Under the proposal, RFUMS and DePaul would partner with several Haitian hospitals and medical schools.
“Working together, we can help improve access to information,” Joseph said. “The alliance helps catalyze initiatives like this by fostering collaboration, communication and innovation.”
Olayele Adelakun, PhD, associate professor in DePaul’s School of Computing, has made two trips to Haiti to explore setting up digital infrastructure and support. He is working to build a partnership with the country’s primary networking company. Cloud computing is the goal.
“It’s exciting to help develop a solution that combines technology and medicine,” Adelakun said. “We can take what we learn from Haiti and apply it in other parts of the world.”
Joseph marvels at the synergy that has developed around the idea that RFUMS and DePaul can join forces to help a country in the Caribbean. Meanwhile, Lin, Wu and Putnam hope to keep working as a team.
“Our collaboration, ultimately, is going to make our research much stronger,” Putnam said.
The student-run Interprofessional Community Clinic embodies the university’s ethic of interprofessional learning, teaching and service through leadership. Students who staff the clinic, and the faculty who supervise them, provide quality, dignified care for the most vulnerable people in the Lake County region. It’s a lesson they will carry throughout their lives.
Patient encounters are pure gold for future clinicians, who spend the first year or two of their graduate education trudging through didactics while anxiously awaiting the opportunity to apply their knowledge in real healthcare settings. At Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, an increasing number of first- and second-year students are attending the lecture circuit by day and diving into patient care by night at the Interprofessional Community Clinic.
“It’s by far the most helpful training I’ve received,” said Thuy Vi Le, CMS ’16. “Actually seeing patients, following a visit, working with an attending, is the best possible experience – real life – where we get to apply the things we’ve learned.”
Initiated by four Chicago Medical School students in 2013 and operated as part of the Rosalind Franklin University Health System, the student-run, faculty-supervised clinic provides priceless patient interaction, interprofessional training and, for underserved patients, free, high-quality care.
Lecia Apantaku, MD, FACS, assistant dean and associate professor of surgery for CMS, and one of seven faculty advisors for the ICC, said it can be difficult for health science students to understand how the basic sciences relate to patient care.
“Seeing patients early on in their education helps them understand the relevancy of what they’re learning,” Apantaku said. “It’s important for students to see, learn and practice.”
Running the clinic has provided many opportunities for leadership. While Le took on administrative duties, Sarah Hershman, CMS ’16, an ICC founder, led the development of a women’s health curriculum. Working under the guidance of Charisse Hudson-Quigley, MD, an obstetrician/gynecologist on the faculty of both the medical school and the College of Health Professions, Hershman developed training for breast and pelvic exams, testing for sexually transmitted infections, contraceptive counseling and endometrial biopsies.
“We’re trying to be responsive to the needs of the community,” Hershman said.
In addition to gynecological care, ICC, which sees many patients with chronic conditions including diabetes and hypertension, also offers primary and podiatric care, physical therapy and behavioral health, in addition to an eye clinic and dispensary.
Each ICC patient is seen by a team that includes students in multiple disciplines. The team completes a history on each patient, then discusses it with either a fourth-year medical student, licensed pharmacist and/or a nurse practitioner. A differential diagnosis is discussed with an attending physician, and the patient is seen again for a physical exam. The group then formulates a cost effective treatment plan.
The early clinical experience is an advantage for students facing increasingly competitive healthcare and medical residencies, according to Jim Zimmerman, RFUHS vice president, who said the clinic is also a setting where interprofessionalism, a top strategic initiative of the university, is practiced.
“Students in the clinic are learning respect for different professions,” Zimmerman said.
“We try to create clinical encounters where we allow the expertise of different professions to emerge,” Hershman said. “A lot of schools are struggling with how to create interprofessional experiences that don’t feel forced. Our clinic doesn’t feel forced.”
“ICC is a positive experience for patients and volunteers,” Le said. “But it’s a constant organizational challenge. We’re always looking at how to use our resources more efficiently.”
“We see ourselves as being incubators for new ideas in medicine,” Hershman said. “We have time. It’s low pressure. We have to be very creative about experimenting with new models so that we can influence the future of health care. None of us really knows what kind of environment we will be practicing in 10, 20, 30 years from now. But what’s going to happen in the future is going to come out of collaborations like the ICC.”
Path to Excellence
The university is committed to building a diverse learning community and future healthcare workforce through outreach and service to underserved high school and college students eager to realize their potential. Numerous interprofessional efforts to guide and prepare students from underrepresented backgrounds for graduate medical and health science education are supported by faculty, students and staff.
How can someone follow a path they can’t see? The question troubled Julie Witkowski, CMS ’16, a first-generation college graduate who has almost always known where she was going and how she would get there.
“I’ve wanted to pursue science my whole life,” said Witkowski, a volunteer tutor and mentor for students at North Chicago Community High School, where she saw a need and came up with a plan.
“I was meeting a lot of motivated students, some with a budding interest in health care, who had no idea what to do with their interest,” Witkowski said.
Working in partnership with the university’s community relations team within the Division of Institutional Advancement, Witkowski designed a pre-health, interactive curriculum for the new Future Healthcare Professionals Club. FHPC members learn about the human body and different healthcare professions under the guidance of RFUMS students of medicine, podiatric medicine, pharmacy, biomedical sciences, physical therapy, physician assistant, pathologists’ assistant and postdoctoral studies.
“We’re a health sciences university filled with motivated students who love to mentor younger students – and we’re only a few miles away from one of the most underserved high schools in the state,” Witkowski said. “It’s a no-brainer that we should be there to mentor them and guide them, especially if they have an interest in the health sciences.”
Students from the club will help populate a new NCCHS academy, the Healthcare Careers Academy Pathway, said Jeff Hollenstein, lead teacher for the program – another partnership between RFUMS and the high school, which is undertaking bold new measures to increase a college-readiness rate that has dipped to 9 percent.
“RFUMS is helping to give our students more purpose and more focus,” Hollenstein said. “Our students say things like ‘I want to be a doctor,’ or ‘I want to be a lawyer,’ but they don’t know how to get there. They’re not getting the correct messages. They’re not being guided in the right direction.”
Educators on the academy planning team and FHPC members participated in an April 11 field trip to RFUMS, which included a tour, demonstration in the gross anatomy lab, session on germs and infection in the College of Pharmacy skills lab and a student Q&A panel. Throughout club sessions, RFUMS students communicate a clear and compelling picture of their lives – how they study, engage in activities and handle pressure.
“You could see it,” Hollenstein said. “Kids starting to realize that a graduate degree is attainable, that the medical students they’re talking to and interacting with have gone through the same struggles they’ve experienced at NCCHS. They’re not super-humans, but people who have advanced through the stages of their lives and attained the goals they’ve pursued.”
Witkowski said one FHPC student reported that her club experience made her feel “empowered” in her biology class. Another, who sat mute during the first FHPC session, soon became the “go to” leader of the group.
“As he gained more knowledge, he became more confident,” Witkowski said.
But RFUMS students gain knowledge too, including what they learn from interacting with young people of different races and socioeconomic levels.
“It is also valuable to practice teaching in both academic and clinical settings,” said Christine Lopez, MEd, RFUMS executive director of community relations and stewardship. “Teaching is an important part of medicine. Medical and healthcare professionals play a vital role in educating their patients/clients on their respective medical condition, as well as preventative medicine.”
Lopez said she watched students blossom during club sessions in which Witkowski reviewed medical concepts, encouraged educated guesses and self-expression, then shifted to application through hands-on activities.
“Listening to the lub-dub of the heart, talking about those sounds, the sound of the heart’s valves, brings something alive in the students,” Lopez said. “This is material they can relate to, that can help them understand how amazing their physiology really is, and just how intelligent they really are in their assessments.”
Witkowski said she was thrilled when students collectively aced the 160-slide PowerPoint quiz she popped during their final club meeting. Each student was rewarded with a new, donated stethoscope, the iconic symbol of the trusted healthcare practitioner.
The Franklin Fellowship, generously funded by a gift in 2012 from Martin and Julie Franklin on behalf of the Franklin family, serves to develop a community of students committed to interprofessional service, leadership and educational excellence. Twelve students from across the university received scholarships and took on the added rigors of the fellowship in its inaugural year, working to improve health and expand opportunity for those in need.
The Franklin Fellowship presented an opportunity for William Alegria, COP ’16, to explore and understand how healthcare providers can learn about and use cultural differences to enhance patient care.
“It’s something I’ve had a passion for ever since I moved away from Miami,” said Alegria, who was born and raised in the city that, according to the U.S. Census, includes a population that is 70 percent Hispanic or Latino. Alegria designed and offered a workshop aimed at helping RFUMS students acknowledge differences and learn to ask patients the right questions. The activity will be adapted for inclusion in the first-year Foundations of Interprofessional Practice course.
“A lot of healthcare professionals don’t listen,” Alegria said. “They fit their patients into a box.”
Providers should not assume, Alegria said, that because people speak a common language or share a skin color that they also share the same cultural or socioeconomic characteristics. “That’s stereotyping and destructive,” he said.
Working at a busy retail pharmacy during a College of Pharmacy rotation, Alegria gained the confidence of patients who shared home remedies, alternative therapies, and attitudes and ideas about their health conditions.
“If you can get to know the person you’re treating, you can ask questions that make sense, that can get to the root of the problem,” Alegria said. “It’s about building that relationship with the patient.”
Nicole Woitowich, MS, SGPS ’16, was once told that she would never get into graduate school. Better to settle for a career in teaching high school biology rather than set her sights for medical research, she was told by a college advisor.
“I was pretty devastated,” said Woitowich, a crystallographer, who went on to earn a master of science from Northeastern Illinois University, where she was befriended by a tough but encouraging female biology professor.
“If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be here,” said Woitowich, who is researching the regulation of mammalian reproduction by novel enzymes in both the department of physiology and biophysics and department of biochemistry and molecular biology at the Chicago Medical School.
Under the Franklin Fellowship, Woitowich developed a mentorship program for female undergraduate students. Women in Scientific Discovery or Medicine, WISDOM, brings female graduate students in a variety of disciplines, from all five RFUMS colleges, to interact with and support Lake Forest College students interested in pursuing graduate education in science, technology, math, engineering and healthcare fields.
“I’m really passionate about STEM outreach (science, technology, engineering and math) and trying to increase participation by women and minorities,” said Woitowich, whose ambitions are fostered at RFUMS by Janice Urban, PhD, professor and chair, physiology and biophysics, and Marc Glucksman, PhD, professor and chair, biochemistry and molecular biology.
“I say it all the time,” Woitowich said. “I am a product of mentorship. I literally would not be here if I didn’t have mentors in my life.”
A native of Albania who hopes to become an oncologist and combat cancer-inducing viruses, Olsi Gjyshi, MD/PhD candidate 2017, recalls the two patients who refused the HPV or human papilloma virus vaccine he offered during volunteer duty at the student-run Interprofessional Community Clinic.
“It was their choice,” Gjyshi said, disappointment lingering in his voice. “My goal is to educate, to teach, about what’s available, about the possible benefits and risks. There are possible side effects, as with any vaccine, but the risk of developing cervical cancer far outweighs them.”
Gjyshi devoted his fellowship to educating communities about the seven viruses that cause cancer which, in addition to HPV, include: hepatitis C, hepatitis B, Epstein-Barr, Merkel cell, human T-cell lymphoma and Kaposi’s sarcoma.
“The topic of virus-induced cancers is not only fascinating, it’s important,” said Gjyshi, who is pursuing his PhD under the guidance of Bala Chandran, PhD, professor and chair in the department of microbiology and immunology.
In addition to his work in the clinic, Gjyshi, who cites a virus-induced cancer rate between 12 and 20 percent worldwide, visited a women’s health fair and delivered a lecture to a group of very inquisitive high school students. He also collaborated with a drug company and the Centers for Disease Control in offering free vaccines to underserved children.
“I find research fascinating,” said Gjyshi, who has studied how Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpes virus hijacks molecular mechanisms to infect cells and cause cancer. “But I’m a very patient-oriented person. I like being there for patients who need the support.”
Rebecca Burmeister, SCPM ’16, is on a mission to help patients prevent complications of diabetes which, if poorly managed, can result in blindness, amputation and death.
The future podiatric physician, whose father developed a foot ulcer while she was in college, designed a series of diabetes education classes and teaching materials that are simple to understand and easy to follow, in both English and Spanish.
“We’re tailoring the message, using appropriate health literacy and education levels, and we’re telling them the most important things, of like a million important things, so that they can start taking those first healthy steps,” Burmeister said. “There’s a great need in this community.”
Burmeister worked through the student-run Interprofessional Community Clinic to accomplish her project, which includes the offering of incentives. Eligible patients who attend diabetes management classes receive at-home glucose testing supplies and prescription medications paid for through proceeds of the university’s annual Dance for Diabetes, said Burmeister, who chaired the event in 2014.
Every clinic patient with a diagnosis of diabetes is individually counseled on first steps, including how to keep blood sugar in a healthy range and why it’s important; how to check blood sugar; what to do if glucose levels are too low or too high.
Diabetes, Burmeister said, responds well to a highly interprofessional approach, practiced at the clinic and promoted through education and training at RFUMS.
“We have to put more focus on health education and prevention,” said Burmeister, who recalls patients who lived with an average blood sugar level of 300 for months before seeking treatment.
It Takes a Village
Wherever they serve, RFUMS alumni, students and faculty use their knowledge and training to collaborate, to teach and learn, and to heal with compassion. Our community is at work around the world, caring for humanity and sharing the fulfillment of a life lived in discovery.
Chicago Medical School students Sevgi Sipahi and Natasha Thomas arrived in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2011, and though their month-long service trip quickly came to an end, they resolved to help the suffering refugees they left behind.
“It’s not just one trauma they suffer; it’s a lifetime of trauma that starts from birth – disease, death, abductions, war, rape used as a weapon of war,” said Dr. Sipahi, now a first-year resident in obstetrics and gynecology at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, IL.
The students met hundreds of traumatized people from East African countries including Burundi, Rwanda and Sudan at the nonprofit Hope of Children and Women Victims of Violence in Ndejje, Uganda. Thomas recalls a woman who had lived in the Democratic Republic of Congo until armed rebels raided her village. Her husband was murdered in front of her, the woman said, and she was sexually assaulted by multiple attackers. When Thomas and Sipahi met her, she was withdrawn, sick from the effects of treatment for HIV and struggling to care for her children, including a new baby.
“Her HIV meds were free, but she couldn’t afford food,” said Dr. Thomas, a first-year resident in emergency medicine at Stroger Hospital of Cook County in Chicago.
The second-year medical students, who initially traveled to Uganda as part of the student-led International Health Interest Group, promised to return to HOCW. In the years leading up to the fulfillment of that promise, the university developed student, faculty and institutional support guided by Inis Jane Bardella, MD, FAFP, executive director of the RFUMS Office of Global Health Initiatives, which operates within the Baldwin Institute for Interprofessional Education.
“One of our goals is that student experiences occur in the context of an established organization with a continual presence on the ground and with appropriate responsibility and accountability,” Bardella said.
“It was wonderful, as a student, to have the opportunity to create a partnership,” Thomas said. “The big thing in international health is medical tourism. People visit a clinic, volunteer for a couple of weeks, then leave. But Dr. Bardella stressed the need to create something that will stand, and she gave us the tools to do it.”
“We believe in HOCW and we want to see it grow,” Sipahi said. “We want to provide what they want and ideally what they need.”
Aided by Bardella and the department of psychology in the College of Health Professions, the students developed a plan and wrote a curriculum to train peer counselors in Narrative Exposure Therapy as a treatment for refugees struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Sipahi and Thomas returned as M4s to Ndejje in April 2014, with two other medical students, a doctoral psychology student and Kenneth Kessler, PhD, director of clinical counseling. The team offered intensive NET training to lay counselors, carefully screened refugees who learned fast and asked smart questions.
“NET is a very natural tool for this culture,” Kessler said. “It’s about storytelling. Telling is a coping mechanism. The goal is to get the memories to cool down, so they’re not as painful as they were.”
The team worked to overcome barriers to behavioral therapy including shame, mistrust and a lack of understanding of the western concept of confidentiality. They also learned, from their trainees, what would and wouldn’t work, Kessler said, and made many modifications to their plan as a result.
More than 30 students and faculty have traveled to Ndejje since 2011, including Kevin Rynn, PharmD, College of Pharmacy associate dean for clinical affairs, who accompanied two COP students. Their plane landed in Kampala on a June night in 2013.
“We drove off into the darkness, off-road, up a hill, then finally, knocked at a gate,” Rynn recalled.
The pharmacy team was soon making daily treks to the nearby, government-run Zanta Clinic, down a dirt road lined with huts and sometimes clogged by cattle, as children ran out to greet them. Like other RFUMS faculty and students, they worked within their stateside scope of practice, participating in vaccination clinics, performing lab test screenings for HIV and malaria, and dispensing treatments while learning about challenges related to supply chain issues, including frequent vehicle breakdowns and impassable roads.
“Getting a perspective on another country, another system, makes you more culturally aware, more flexible in your thinking and your work,” Rynn said. “There’s often more than one way to do things. That mindset is helpful, particularly as more pharmacy students travel to Ndejje.”
The university’s global health initiatives also create new avenues for research and funding, re-energize faculty, and inspire empathy and compassion.
Kessler, who marveled at small children lugging five-gallon containers of water and who for lack of a ball kicked a battered avocado in the street, said he arrived back home with a different view of his life and the lives of his patients.
“We worked with people who are resilient, but who have few material resources,” he said. “I came away with a vast appreciation of the things we have as a culture and as a country in comparison. But not all things here are great and not all things there are bad.”
Both Rynn and Kessler will measure outcomes of their interprofessional efforts in Uganda. Rynn, who toured Makerere University in Kampala, is working to collaborate with faculty in its College of Pharmacy in the areas of research and teaching. Kessler uses Skype to work with the counselors he helped train at HOCW.
“It’s not primarily about us and the place we’re going to,” Bardella said. “It’s about how can we build multi-partner relationships, because no one of us can address all the needs. RFUMS, Zanta Clinic and Makerere together can devise a better strategy to meet pharmacy supply chain needs.”
Bardella continues to work to develop partnerships, including in Mexico and Haiti, that can be sustained over decades, that go beyond providing services to help emerging nations build their own capacity to serve and solve pressing health challenges.
“We’re riding this huge wave in global health that has swelled and stayed there,” Bardella said. “Our theory is that this will improve not just awareness, but cultural understanding, which is the first step in producing health professionals who are more effective, who will practice in a way that will truly improve health outcomes wherever they serve.”
RFUMS is striving, through its global health initiatives, to help developing nations hold on to their best and brightest through strategies that build what highly motivated students need to flourish. While that effort awaits realization, health professionals of African, Latino and Asian diasporas contribute substantially to the development of their home countries.
Ibukunoluwa Araoye, CMS ’17, spent his first year of medical school immersed in lectures and labs, gross anatomy, histology and other courses that lay the foundational knowledge for the future he envisions as a neurosurgeon.
But mastery of the basic sciences and his conviction that the brain “can do anything” cannot help Araoye (pronounced ah-RAH-oh-yay) make up his mind, nor answer what could be the defining question of his life: Will he return to his homeland to practice?
Home is Nigeria, the largest economy and most populous country in Africa at 174 million, where malaria, meningitis, hepatitis and a host of other infectious diseases cut short average life expectancy to 52 years.
A recipient of the Dr. Scholl Foundation Scholarship, through the RFUMS Centennial Scholarship Campaign, Araoye is both hopeful and realistic about his future. He wants to practice in the U.S. first, he said, to understand how a health system should work, before returning home, where his father, an agricultural engineer, has a history of activism.
“He never said directly to us that we should have a really intense love for our country,” Araoye said. “A passion for the country is genetic.”
But passion can fade. Araoye, who has several uncles who practice medicine in the U.S., England and Canada, said he has sometimes been mocked for “wanting to go back to help” a country where a nascent healthcare infrastructure often lacks things like gloves and needles, and where the poor die of preventable diseases and treatable wounds.
Challenges in Nigeria – corruption, lack of infrastructure, and extremist attacks including the murder of healthcare and foreign aid workers – have been widely reported.
“I can’t see the future, but in this moment I would love to go back to Nigeria to help,” said Araoye, whose three siblings have pursued higher education abroad and remain abroad. “I could help change how health care is delivered, talk to the government about establishing a healthcare system, try to standardize how physicians are trained and licensed, and teach them what it takes to open hospitals and clinics.”
Araoye sees tremendous possibilities in Nigeria, but also forces beyond the control of any one mind or development strategy.
“You try to imagine a system that works, where things are good,” Araoye said. “But your mind falters. It can’t fathom the connection between today and this future state. You’re fighting cynicism.”
Other medical students, other doctors who have stayed, “wanted to go back,” Araoye muses.
“Maybe I am a different kind of person,” he said. “Lots of people are having this dream: how to help their countries.”
Year of Crystallography
Scientific research underpins RFUMS, where the discovery of new knowledge in the biomedical sciences continues to improve the health of people in the United States and around the world.
The science mastered by Rosalind Franklin, PhD, and celebrated throughout 2014 during the International Year of Crystallography, is helping a team of top researchers at Franklin’s namesake university visualize and understand how protein structures function at the atomic level.
Protein crystallography is helping to push the boundaries of disease prevention and treatment. The science is used in combination with mass spectrometry, electron paramagnetic resonance and other biochemical approaches to understand the structure-based mechanisms of proteins essential to both normal and pathological states.
“We’re one of the few places in the country specifically examining the structural biology of membrane proteins,” said Ronald Kaplan, PhD, executive vice president for research. “If we know these structures, we can design very specific drugs to interact with those molecules. We need more efficacious drugs that have fewer side effects.”
The university has made a significant reinvestment in research facilities and personnel over the past decade, recruiting top structural biologists who have been awarded highly competitive NIH grants to fund their research on membrane proteins of high-biological significance.
The work of Jun-yong Choe, PhD, the primary investigator in a study that solved the crystal structure of a glucose/H+ symporter and its mechanism for action, was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Such glucose transporters – in humans, known as GLUT – play an important role in diseases, including cancer and diabetes.
Thirty percent of all proteins are membrane proteins, which account for 70 percent of all targets for drug therapies.
“The work is high-risk, high-reward,” Kaplan said. “It’s a driving passion to understand, at the molecular and atomic levels, how a membrane transporter functions and how derived information would be used for pharmacological interventions.”
The structures are notoriously difficult to solve. Choe worked for several years to delineate the transporter.
“It can take 50,000 hours to succeed and it doesn’t always succeed,” Kaplan said. “But our researchers are succeeding.”
Investigators in the department of biochemistry and molecular biology also include Min Lu, PhD, who received NIH funding on his first-ever grant proposal to the agency. His study of multidrug and toxic compound extrusion transporters is aimed at understanding why patients develop resistance to medications. Kyoung Joon Oh, PhD, is researching proteins related to apoptosis or controlled cell death. Adrian Gross, PhD, is examining potassium channels, which may play a role in healthy vascular function and the secretion of hormones.
Researchers in the department are also delving into other vital areas. Kaplan is studying citrate transporters, which may play a key role in obesity. David Mueller, PhD, is looking at the F1FO ATPase, an essential energy-conserving enzyme in humans. Marc Glucksman, PhD, department chair and director of the Midwest Proteome Center at RFUMS, is investigating neural processing enzymes. Carl Correll, PhD, is looking at RNA-protein complexes essential to ribosome biogenesis.
“We’ve created a synergy, a team environment in which our scientists can thrive, collaborate and share ideas,” Kaplan said. “We’re giving them the tools to succeed, to advance a key mission of RFUMS – the discovery of knowledge to improve human health.”
Dr. Wendy Rheault, New Provost
Wendy Rheault, PT, PhD, a longtime champion of interprofessional education and team-based care, has been named provost of Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science.
The former dean of the College of Health Professions, Rheault, who took on her new duties Aug. 1, will exercise a central role in the execution of the university’s mission. She will work closely with the president, deans and vice presidents in developing academic priorities, providing strategic direction and ensuring academic accountability.
“It’s an exciting time to help lead our university,” Rheault said. “The growth in interest in interprofessional health science education and collaborative practice is exponential, and RFUMS is at the forefront of that trend.”
CHP doubled its enrollment under Rheault, who was appointed dean in 2003 and who has played a key role in shaping the university’s academic offerings. She first came to RFUMS in 1983 as assistant professor for physical therapy. Named professor and chair of the PT department in 1989, she led several successful accreditation visits. As both dean and associate dean, she helped lead the development of a dozen new master and doctoral programs in disciplines including physician assistant studies, pathologists’ assistant studies, nurse anesthesia, clinical counseling and interprofessional healthcare studies.
“Dr. Rheault’s influence on our growth and transformation over the past decade cannot be understated,” said K. Michael Welch, MB, ChB, FRCP, President and CEO. “The entire university community offers hearty congratulations on her new appointment.”
A native of Canada, Rheault studied physical therapy at Queen’s University and practiced in Toronto before earning a Master of Arts in curriculum instruction and a PhD in educational measurement and statistics, both from the University of Chicago.
“As a physical therapist, I gained an important perspective on the importance of teamwork and the value of interprofessional education,” Rheault said. “The programs RFUMS offers must continue to reflect that value, to respond to emerging needs in health care and, above all, provide students the educational resources they need to deliver excellent patient care.”
Appointed vice president of academic affairs in 2008, Rheault led the development of the Alliance for Health Sciences with DePaul University, as well as the RFUMS interprofessional initiative. In 2013, she presented Grand Rounds at the Mayo Clinic, where she discussed interprofessional education at RFUMS.
Rheault has published in many peer-reviewed journals and has presented at national and international meetings. Her current areas of research include interprofessional education, continuing education in the health professions, and measurement.
A member of the board of the Healthcare Foundation of Northern Lake County, Rheault has served on two national Institute of Medicine committees, is a fellow of the Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions and is the past president of the Midwest Deans of ASAHP.
New Trustees Join RFUMS
The university welcomed two exceptional individuals to its Board of Trustees in 2014, Lawyer L. Burks III and A. Michael Drachler, MD ’78.
Mr. Burks brings many years of executive leadership. He currently serves as vice president and general manager for the medical products division of Illinois Tool Works, a global manufacturer ranked among Fortune magazine’s most admired companies. He brings to the board a strong background in marketing, having previously served as vice president of marketing and product management for Cardinal Health.
He holds a bachelor of science in industrial management/engineering from Purdue University and served in the U.S. Air Force, attaining the rank of captain, before earning an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School and completing the Harvard Business School’s Next Generation Executive program.
The creator and leader of Alcan Chicago Food Depository Partnership, Mr. Burks’ history of community involvement also includes efforts on behalf of United Way, Boys and Girls Club and National Black MBA Association. He is a former officer of Kellogg’s Evening Black Management Association, a member of the Executive Leadership Council and a leadership mentor.
Dr. Drachler is the board’s Chicago Medical School alumnus representative. Board certified in obstetrics and gynecology, he completed a residency at Cook County Hospital and practices through NorthShore University HealthSystem in Skokie, Lincolnwood and Evanston. He has held numerous academic appointments, including at University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago, Rush Medical College and Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Currently senior clinical educator at University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, he is the recipient of awards for teaching from Northwestern University, University of Chicago and Rush.
A longtime, dedicated alumnus, Dr. Drachler is immediate past president of the Chicago Medical School Alumni Association Board of Governors. He has lectured, published and served on numerous committees and is a member of many professional and scientific associations, including the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society. A former president of the Chicago Gynecological Society, he currently serves as chair of the Skokie Board of Health.
“We are pleased that Dr. Drachler and Mr. Burks have so generously agreed to contribute their time and talent to help us achieve our mission of educating healthcare professionals who will work together to improve patient care,” said Gail Warden, board chair. “Each brings a wealth of experience in the complex business of health care and a commitment to helping our university achieve its vision for leading positive change.”
The Chicago Bears and 23 other NFL teams are wearing technology designed by Michael Kordecki, DPT ’03, who took on a challenge to make the game safer.
A team physical therapist and athletic trainer for the Bears for nine seasons, Kordecki owns and operates Praxis Physical Therapy and Human Performance in Vernon Hills, IL. In 2008, he was invited by Stanford R. Tack, MD, an orthopedic spine specialist, to a panel on cervical spine injuries that included a discussion by sports medicine experts about difficulties in quickly and safely removing football shoulder pads.
“Let’s say you have a player with paralysis,” Kordecki said. “You get them on a spineboard. But what if their heart stops? What do you do? You have no access. The equipment prevents us from getting to his airway, getting to his chest.”
Traditional shoulder pads require six to 10 people to lift a player off a spineboard in an excruciating process, before the helmet, shoulder pads and other equipment can be removed.
“At the end of the day,” one rehab expert on the panel said, “somebody has to design better equipment.”
It was a clarion call for Kordecki. On his way home from the conference, he stopped at a sporting goods store and purchased the only pair of shoulder pads left in stock.
“I stayed up until two in the morning, cutting them up and trying some things,” Kordecki said. “The next day I called Tony Medlin, head equipment manager for the Bears, and I said, ‘Tony, I need a favor.’”
Kordecki continued working in his basement workshop, experimenting on several sets of NFL-regulation shoulder pads, cutting and sewing – with plastic-coated cable, a giant needle and a hole punch. He soon had two prototypes. He filed a working patent on Oct. 31, 2008 and called colleague Brian McCaskey, a former assistant athletic trainer to the Bears, who helped set up meetings with sporting goods manufacturers.
“I have great admiration and respect for Mike and his abilities and intelligence,” said McCaskey, now senior director of business development for the team. “He brought the concept to me and asked for my opinion. I was very, very impressed. I saw it had real potential.”
The Riddell RipKord™, unveiled in 2011, offers a significant improvement in the way in which spine and head injuries can be treated on the football field.
“It’s a simple idea,” Kordecki said. “You pull a cord and split the front of the pads open; underneath, the pads sort of melt away. Now the helmet comes off easier, and paramedics have full medical access.”
A certified athletic trainer, Kordecki, who is also board certified in clinical sports medicine, has traveled the country to lecture on emergency management of cervical spine injuries and advanced equipment removal in the cervical spine-injured athlete. He was the lead author of a June 2011 article on the topic in the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy. He is co-author of “How to Safely Remove Helmet and Pads After a Football Injury,” which appeared in the Aug. 8 issue of Emergency Physicians Monthly. He has also trained numerous local fire departments on the subject.
“We’ve learned a lot from Mike and others in his field on how to better manage people with suspected spinal cord injuries,” McCaskey said. “The log roll, which we’d been using, was doing more harm than good. We needed a better way.”
Kordecki grew up in the Village of Mount Prospect, IL, where his father, now retired Capt. Ray Kordecki, modeled innovation, training disabled veterans to run the department’s radios and leading the organization of a division of MABAS, Mutual Aid Box Alarm System. He worked construction after high school and became interested in physical therapy when he suffered a knee injury in a hockey game and underwent surgery and a “disappointing” rehab. He earned a bachelor’s at RFUMS in 1986. Wendy Rheault, PT, PhD, now provost, was chair of the physical therapy department. Roberta Henderson, PT, PhD, current department chair in the College of Health Professions, was one of his instructors.
“If it wasn’t for them, I don’t think I’d be a physical therapist today,” Kordecki said. “It took special people to see I had something inside me – drive and passion – and that I really wanted to help improve the lives of patients.”
A frequent lecturer at RFUMS on the rehab of knee injuries, Kordecki worked for Lake Forest Orthopaedics for 18 years. He was director of rehabilitation services for the practice before striking out on his own. Today, he employs three RFUMS alumni.
“RFUMS students are a cut above,” Kordecki said. “I remember during my internships, I always felt I had a leg-up because I was coming from such a wonderful learning environment – the professors, the instruction, the hands-on learning and labs.”
The Chicago Bears became the first NFL team to purchase RipKord shoulder pads, which are also favored by 51 Division 1 football teams, including Northwestern University. More than 20,000 sets have been sold to high school teams across the nation.
“The RipKord is a game changer in terms of safety and effectiveness,” McCaskey said. “They say necessity is the mother of invention. Mike created this equipment and saw it through the entire process to bring it to market.”
Kordecki said he’s thrilled to hear from trainers around the country who have quickly removed the pads from injured players.
“So many people, who only cared about the health of athletes and the good of the profession, came together to make the technology a reality,” he said.
People sometimes assume that because Dianna Grant, MD ’79, specializes in administration, she prefers to leave patient care to others. Nothing could be further from the truth.
As vice president of medical management for Advocate Trinity Hospital in Chicago, Grant shoulders tremendous responsibility for the welfare of patients.
“Up to 500 people come through our doors in my area of responsibility every day,” Grant said. “I take that very seriously. If you’re having surgery here, is the operating room the right temperature, the equipment sterilized properly? Are the right surgeons – credentialed and competent – in that room? If we don’t make the right decisions, put the right processes in place, buy the right equipment, hire the right people, patients won’t receive the care they deserve.”
Thirty-six years ago, Grant was an M4 at the Chicago Medical School – then still located in the West Loop – learning under a community medical preceptorship at nearby University of Illinois at Chicago. She would go on to serve as chief resident, then attending physician in family practice, at the former Cook County Hospital
from 1982 through 1995.
“I thought the world was waiting for me to get my degree,” Grant laughed. “I had it going on – a young African-American woman, coming to save her people.”
Grant was inundated with patients who were grateful, but did not live up to her expectations.
“I was so disappointed,” she recalled. “People wouldn’t do what I told them to do. I had all this knowledge. I wanted to help. But the blood sugar wasn’t being controlled. The blood pressure medication wasn’t being taken. I had to step back and think – how do we influence compliance?”
The young doctor found the answer in a team-based model of care, under which responsibility and management of patient care is shared.
“On a team, I’m not just one person,” Grant said. “Other team members can influence the process. The team increases knowledge.”
Grant, who was raised by her maternal grandparents in Mississippi, is married to Scholl College alumnus Winstone Burke, DPM ’81. The couple has three children. Grant combined marriage, family and a demanding career with the help of a supportive husband and extended family, she said.
Pegged for leadership roles early in her career, she was appointed the assistant medical director of Cook County Hospital in 1988. Then, as medical director for long-term care, she launched a Cook County Family Medicine geriatric training program. When the hospital pushed in 1991 for the Cook County Board of Commissioners to acquire then-shuttered Provident Hospital, Grant was appointed to the institutional review board.
“They put me in front of the commissioners,” Grant said. “I could always see the big picture and break it down.”
Grant, who has served in numerous other executive capacities for hospital systems and health insurance companies, was Alpha Omega Alpha visiting professor and medical grand rounds presenter at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science last spring. She spoke about “the laying on of hands,” the role of technology and the importance of patient satisfaction.
“Health professionals today can hold technology in the palm of their hand,” Grant said. “They use it for assessment, to chart-out patient plans. Technology gives them results. But you must still touch the people you take care of. When you make a patient care plan, you have to make it together, with the patient. As physicians, we have to lay hands, be at eye-level with our patients to come up with what it is that will help define their quality of life.”
Today’s physicians are challenged by higher patient expectations, said Grant, who asks her staff to commit to the three Cs – concern, caring, communicate.
“We’re trained to process information from our patients very rapidly, get those labs done, so we can quickly come up with a diagnosis,” Grant said. “We forget when patients come to us, they trust that we have the answer. We don’t have to prove that. But we have to make an environment in which they can receive the answer, accept the answer and follow the plan.”
Playing a Vital Role
Throughout pharmacy school and even before she enrolled in 2012, Erica Marchese, pharmacy class of 2016, has shown an unwavering commitment to patients with cancer.
Marchese has gained real-world experience as a pharmacy technician for Cancer Treatment Centers of America, as well as an understanding of heroic struggle against devastating illness.
“It’s inspiring,” Marchese said. “Our patients are some of the strongest individuals I’ve ever met in my life. They make coming to work every day amazing.”
After taking a position with CTCA in 2006 at the hospital in Zion, IL, Marchese experienced integrative care teams in action. Prior to that position, she worked as an oncology information specialist – the first point of contact for people reaching out to CTCA for care.
“I have always been interested in the pharmacy field,” said Marchese, a graduate of the University of Louisville, Louisville, KY. “My part-time position as a pharmacy technician throughout college helped me realize this was a career I wanted to pursue.”
Her experience at CTCA further confirmed the critical role pharmacists play in the delivery of care.
“That was my first exposure to interprofessional health care, seeing how clinicians work together to provide personalized treatment for every patient,” Marchese said. “I thought it was absolutely remarkable.”
The RFUMS PharmD curriculum has reinforced Marchese’s commitment to patient-centered care.
“At Rosalind Franklin, I was introduced to a wider range of practice environments through the Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experiences requirement,” Marchese said. “It has been interesting to see how other healthcare institutions function and how pharmacists play a vital role in patient outcomes.”
At CTCA, Marchese currently works as an admixture technician on what she insists are her “days off.”
“I’m making chemotherapy and IVs for patients, and making sure they get the medications that have been ordered,” Marchese said. “It’s very detailed work that takes a lot of focus and teamwork.”
Jamie Holmes Dillig, PharmD, assistant professor of pharmacy practice and assistant director of pharmacy skills education, cited Marchese’s impressive professional track record.
“It’s not every day we see a student with such steadfast dedication to a specialty before even stepping foot on campus,” Dillig said. “But Erica’s passion is authentic. It’s no wonder she would be drawn to a field where compassion is exceptionally requisite.”
Marchese’s dedication to oncology transcends her work and studies. She is a board member of the university’s Oncology Interest Group, through which she has fostered shadowing opportunities at CTCA for medical, PA, and pharmacy students. She will co-chair the 2015 St. Baldrick’s student fundraiser for children with cancer.
“I had never formally taken on a leadership role,” Marchese said. “OIG gave me that opportunity. I enjoy being with other future healthcare clinicians who share my interest in oncology.”
Marchese is also enrolled in an online master’s degree program in health administration through RFUMS, which she is slated to complete in 2015.
“I study whenever, wherever I can,” she said. “Pharmacy school has definitely taught me how to prioritize and the need to stay organized.”
The pharmacy student does still more, organizing an athletic fundraiser for the Gateway for Cancer Research. In September 2013, she headed a team of 80 runners and raised $15,000 as part of the Chicago Half Marathon – a tribute to a friend who succumbed to cancer at age 22.
Once she earns her PharmD, Marchese, a native of Barrington, IL, hopes to continue her career at CTCA with an eye to a future position in administration.
“Recognizing that I am young in a growing field is exciting,” she said. “It’s inspiring to know that I will grow within the industry and continue to be surrounded by individuals who share my passion.”
Addiction researcher Jessica Anne Loweth, PhD, is the first postdoctoral fellow at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science to win a highly competitive NIH Pathway to Independence Award.
Established in 2006, the five-year $1 million award, also known as K99-R00, is designed to offer support for both mentored and independent research during the early phase of an investigator’s career, helping them to make the transition from postdoctoral research to a tenure-track assistant professor position.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity,” said Loweth, an Evanston, IL native who was accepted as a postdoctoral fellow in the department of neuroscience in 2010 after earning a PhD in neurobiology from the University of Chicago.
The grant calls for Loweth to receive two years of mentored support, including training in new research skills, from a team led by her research sponsor, Marina Wolf, PhD, professor and chair, department of neuroscience.
“With cuts to funding in academia, it’s difficult to obtain an academic position – even to get an interview,” said Loweth, who cites data by the NIH Office of Extramural Research showing that in 2009, just 23 percent of U.S.-trained biomedical PhDs were in tenure-track positions.
“The K99 makes you much more competitive,” Loweth said. “It really helps senior-level postdoctoral fellows like me make this important transition.”
Loweth has always known, she said, that she wanted a career in academic research and that she wanted to run her own program.
“I love scientific discovery,” she said. “As head of your own lab, you can guide your own research. It’s exciting to design your own studies. I also enjoy training students. I really enjoy the process of teaching them about neuroscience, about the laboratory, mentoring them and helping them learn.”
Loweth will also receive guidance as she transitions to an independent tenure-track position through twice-yearly Skype sessions with her RFUMS Research Committee. Together, they will follow her progress and help her adjust to the myriad issues faced by new investigators – ordering equipment and setting up a lab, hiring and training a technician, recruiting students and postdoctoral fellows, teaching and administrative responsibilities, as well as manuscript and R01 submissions and reviews.
Because it dispels financial worries, the K99/R00 frees Loweth to focus intently on her research. She’s using the grant to study the question, “Do cocaine and chronic stress converge in the basolateral amygdala?” Her ultimate goal is to help recovering addicts maintain abstinence.
“I’m really interested in investigating why some people are more susceptible to stress-induced relapse and to see if, using animal models, we can identify neuroadaptations that drive compulsive drug-seeking behavior,” Loweth said. “Through these studies, I hope to contribute to the development of pharmacotherapies for the treatment and prevention of stress-induced craving and relapse in abstinent addicts.”
Joseph DiMario, PhD, professor and dean, School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, noted that the extremely competitive K99/R00 Award is a recognition of the productivity and quality of Loweth’s previous research as well as the significance and quality of her proposed research.
“It’s also an acknowledgement of the dedication of individual SGPS mentors, like Dr. Wolf, who create a research environment conducive to the development of research trainees,” said DiMario, who points to another way in which the university fosters new scientists: Career Enhancement and Development for Postdoctoral Fellows. Developed by DiMario in collaboration with faculty and postdoctoral fellows, the program draws upon resources from national postdoctoral organizations and funds events designed to enhance postdoctoral professional development.
Loweth will use the results of her current NIH-funded study to identify new research topics, make new discoveries and advance in her career.
“You start with an idea and little by little, your results guide you in the next stage of the process,” Loweth said. “You never know how the data will turn out. It’s exciting. It’s challenging. That’s why I love academia. I very much look forward to this next chapter.”
Future healthcare clinician Paige Skorseth has been fortunate in encountering pathfinders who have helped her discover and pursue possibilities for her life and career.
Excellent teachers at River Falls High School, River Falls, WI, first piqued her interest in science. Then, the summer before college, on a trip to the Peruvian Amazon, 40 miles upriver from the port city Iquitos, she met a dentist, also from Wisconsin, the sole provider at a small and isolated clinic.
“She was doing dentistry, but she was also delivering babies and providing basic care for natives who couldn’t afford to go down river,” Skorseth said. “I was kind of shocked. There’s such a lack of health professionals in so many parts of the world.”
As a sophomore in DePaul University’s Pathways Honors Program under the Alliance for Health Sciences with Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, Skorseth receives special access to health-science faculty and resources. She benefits from regular advising by RFUMS faculty and staff, opportunities to network with RFUMS graduate students and summer research opportunities. Pathways students, highly qualified and motivated undergraduates who plan a career in health care, also participate in small-learning cohorts, pre-professional workshops and take courses taught by either RFUMS or DePaul faculty.
Since her freshman year, Skorseth has been mentored by her RFUMS advisor and professor Patrick Knott, PhD, PA-C, a veteran physician assistant and longtime faculty member specializing in orthopedics. He invited Skorseth to observe his research, including a recent project measuring spinal motion during different types of running.
When Skorseth expressed an interest in podiatric medicine, Knott connected her to Dyane Tower, DPM ’09, MS, MPH, who invited her to spend the day at RFUMS.
“I sat in on an osteology class, ate lunch with first-year podiatry students and attended an interactive class,” Skorseth said. “I’d never experienced a class like it – students working together, studying symptoms and health histories, following a protocol to come up with a diagnosis.”
Knott said such experiences are crucial for undergraduate students.
“They help students gain an understanding of each profession and fuel their desire to become a healthcare provider,” he said. “They steer them toward coursework, shadowing and healthcare experiences that are essential for entry into these competitive programs.”
In May, RFUMS welcomed Pathways students to its campus for a day that included a tour, visit to the Simulation and Skills Lab, Center for Lower Extremity Ambulatory Research, and a student Q&A panel.
Skorseth, who shadowed physical therapists over the summer, has yet to decide which discipline she will pursue through graduate school and into the workplace. The Pathways program is designed to help her discover her passion.
“It’s important to look at different careers and the alliance makes that possible,” Skorseth said. “We’re able to network with people at RFUMS who are already practicing in different professions. It’s really valuable to be able to talk to people we know.”
Generations of Giving
Kimberly Blankshain, CMS ’17, never met the retired family practitioner who helped lighten the financial freight of her education, but student and doctor shared a powerful connection – a gauntlet called medical school.
“Knowing that someone who went through what I’m going through is willing and able to help someone else on that journey shows a dedication to our school, pride in our school and faith that it’s training excellent physicians,” said Blankshain. “It also says a lot about how much being a physician meant to him.”
Herbert Fisher, MD ’41, who along with his brother generously endowed the Louis Fisher Scholarship, died on April 29. He was 97.
The scholarship honors Fisher’s father, who with his wife operated a butcher shop in Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood. During World War II, Louis Fisher struggled to save relatives, living in what is today the Czech Republic, from Nazi death camps. He managed to obtain student visas in 1939 for a teenage nephew and cousin, who became younger siblings to his own four children. Both young men, who lost entire families in the Holocaust, joined the war effort – serving in the U.S. military.
Dr. Fisher attended the University of Illinois before his acceptance by the Chicago Medical School. He completed an internship at Ingalls Memorial Hospital in Harvey, IL and served in the U.S. Army during World War II, attaining the rank of major. He was a general practitioner in private practice for more than 34 years, affiliated with Ingalls and St. Francis Hospital in Blue Island, IL. Fisher, who operated the Community Medical Center in Harvey, was a doctor and friend to young and old, parents and children, and to the athletes at nearby Thornton High School, as one former patient observed. He was a leader in both his profession and community, serving two terms as president of Ingalls’ medical staff, on numerous hospital committees and helping to organize and train a paramedic unit for the city of Harvey, where he served as health officer from 1950 to 1975.
He was president of the Southern Cook County Branch, Chicago Medical Society, a charter member and fellow of the American Academy of General Practice. He also served as surgeon general for Illinois Amvets and evaluated hospital services for the state’s veterans.
During summers spent on the family farm in Michigan, Dr. Fisher treated patients at a local clinic. It wasn’t until very late in life that he gave up the practice of medicine. After retiring to the Sherman Oaks area of Los Angeles in 1975, he continued to work into his 70s, attending to the health needs of special education students in the Los Angeles Unified School District. He spent more years volunteering at a free health clinic.
The Louis Fisher Scholarship was also awarded in 2010 to Kimberly Pillsbury, MD ’14, for the four years of her medical school career. In thanking Dr. Fisher, Pillsbury wrote that the award demonstrated his belief in her.
“You gave me more confidence, which translates to working harder, and success in my medical career,” Pillsbury wrote.
Blankshain, who graduated from the University of Iowa and hopes to pursue a specialty in ophthalmology, said she chose RFUMS because of its collaborative learning environment and strong sense of community.
“The RFUMS community has made my life a lot less stressful than it might otherwise be,” Blankshain said. “The people around you can make such a difference, help you keep things in perspective. People here are friendly, glad to share what they know. There’s a ‘we’re all in this together’ kind of feel.”
Blankshain intends to settle in the Chicago area or Iowa.
“I want my practice to become a strong part of the local community and serve patients throughout their lives,” Blankshain said. “Every time I’ve had a patient interaction, it confirms what I feel – that I will become a good physician and find fulfillment in my career.”
Scholarship support is key to the fulfillment of the university’s mission to educate, discover and serve.
“The generosity of donors like Dr. Fisher inspires our students to keep working hard to achieve excellence and, in turn, to give back to the next generation of future healthcare professionals,” said Tina Erickson, vice president, Division of Institutional Advancement. “Dr. Fisher is a role model to fellow alumni and to current and future students.”
Breaking Down Barriers
Every time Alfonso Gomez of Waukegan, IL, translates for a patient and providers at the student-run Interprofessional Community Clinic, he helps to build trust, participates in the power of team-based care and moves a little closer to a future in medicine.
“I live here,” Gomez said. “I see the need. It feels good to help. But I’m also learning. I’m relating the basic sciences to the patient, and the person behind the patient.”
Gomez is among a small group of young Latinos who each week volunteer to interpret at the ICC. The experience is helping to translate their aspirations into future careers in the healthcare professions.
A bilingual substitute teacher, Gomez was recruited to help at the clinic in the fall of 2013, shortly after it opened, by music teacher Daniel Hershman-Rossi, husband of ICC co-founder Sarah Hershman. An aspiring physician, Gomez was studying for the MCAT during downtime at Clearview Elementary in Waukegan.
“He would see me during recess reading textbooks – biology, organic chemistry, physics,” said Gomez, who graduated from Northern Illinois University and also earned an associate degree in automotive technology from the College of Lake County.
Gomez soon asked his older brother, Luciano, another NIU grad and substitute teacher at Clearview, to donate time to the clinic, where volunteer interpreters have also included their sister, Griselda, now pursuing a graduate degree at Indiana University, and a close friend, Laura Rodrigues, a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Hershman, now a third-year medical student, said it made sense for the clinic to turn for help to the neighbors it serves.
“It shows that we’re really trying to make this clinic deeply rooted in the community,” she said. “We’ve been successful in making connections that are mutually beneficial. We get help understanding our patients. Our faithful translators get opportunity and professional connections.”
Luciano, who has long been interested in psychology, is now a student in the College of Health Professions’ Master of Science in Psychology: Clinical Counseling. At the clinic, where patients are routinely screened for stress and other mental health issues, he has seen the close connection between mental and physical health.
“Working at a school, you see kids with trauma, behavioral issues, neglect,” Luciano said. “Working at the clinic helps put that in perspective. So many parents are worried about their children, afraid they’ll be taken away. They fear being reported for lack of documentation. It helps you understand the human aspect.”
Translating a stream of conversation between patients and student clinicians, the interpreters work to convert medical terms and colloquialisms from English to Spanish and Spanish to English – “la presión,” for instance, is short for blood pressure – and to understand certain dialectical nuances of the Spanish spoken by native Ecuadorians, Hondurans and Peruvians.
“When they hear my voice, they start talking,” Alfonso said. “Some of our patients may understand English, but they can’t speak it. When they see me it’s, ‘Okay. Thank you, no more guessing.’ They open up.”
The interpreters are mentored by volunteer faculty advisors and welcomed by student practitioners. Associate professors of psychology, Kenneth Kessler, PhD, and Arthur Cantos, PhD, encouraged Luciano to pursue a graduate degree.
“When a professional doctor tells you to hurry, that he needs your help, you listen,” Luciano said.
Alfonso and Laura are participating in the university’s problem-based learning sessions, offered in cooperation with the Chicago Area Health and Medical Careers Program, or CAHMCP, which aims to increase the number of qualified minority applicants and matriculants to medical and other health professional schools.
Hispanics, according to a 2013 U.S. Census report, made up just 7 percent of the nation’s STEM workforce in 2011.
“I’ve always wanted to learn how the body works,” Alfonso said. “It sparked my interest when I was little and I was like, ‘Yes. This is what I want to do.’ Teaching is great, but I’m not fixing what’s wrong. Is a kid coughing? I want to know why he’s coughing and I want to fix it.”
Alliance for Health Sciences Pursues Collaborative Research
More than 100 scientists and other academics from Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science and DePaul University recently attended a joint research retreat designed to develop innovative projects aimed at improving health and well-being.
The academics, from disciplines as diverse as digital media, physics, literature and linguistics, neuroscience, and microbiology, met in six working groups that covered potential areas of collaborative research including socioeconomics and health, immunology and inflammatory disease, psychological stress, and biochemistry and molecular biology.
“It was amazing,” said Tamzin Batteson, PhD, of RFUMS, who explored research ideas with a professor of English literature, a psychiatric nurse, scientists and psychologists. “Different brains are coming together to talk about one topic. That's really important. We tend to get stuck in our ways, focused on one issue, looking in one way. This helps broaden your perspective in your area of interest.”
Held May 9 at DePaul's Lincoln Park campus, the second annual retreat is expected to produce studies that will be funded through the Pilot Grant program, an initiative of The Alliance for Health Sciences formed by the two universities in 2012. The program creates interprofessional, collaborative research teams of clinicians, basic scientists and other academics and expands research opportunities for students. A total of $800,000 has been earmarked for 11 collaborative research projects to date.
Ronald Kaplan, PhD, RFUMS vice president for research, said the event aims to generate creative synergy.
“We continue to bring together faculty from throughout our two universities, in widely-varying fields of interest and areas of experience, to combine their talents on important research questions,” Kaplan said. “I expect important advances in knowledge and high impact publications leading to substantive extramural funding over the next year or two.”
Under the health sciences alliance, DePaul and RFUMS have committed to a cross-college, collaborative approach to both coursework and research, an approach that has been shown to expand opportunities in learning and teaching by strengthening faculty relationships and scholarship, broadening student perspectives, and generating more new ideas for future projects.
Numerous faculty members during the retreat expressed an interest in studying the role of technology in caring for a hyper-connected generation. Kristin Schneider, PhD, a health psychologist and RFUMS assistant professor, hopes to obtain a pilot grant to study how underserved patients will respond to physician recommendations for mobile apps to help treat chronic conditions like obesity, diabetes or depression.
Schneider's Health Issues working group also includes academics in nursing, physician assistant practice, computing and digital media, and biomechanics.
“We all brought our own unique ideas to the table,” said Schneider, who is already working with DePaul's Jocelyn Carter, PhD, a clinical psychologist, and Cynthia Putnam, PhD, assistant professor in the university's College of Computing and Digital Media, on a study examining factors that promote active video game use in children – as a means to increasing physical activity. While Schneider has worked with adult populations, Carter's experience is in children and adolescents.
“I've learned a lot about adult research models,” Carter said. “It's been nice to use both our areas of expertise to address this issue in what I think will be an innovative way.”
Also working on the project are six graduate students, four from RFUMS and two from DePaul.
“It's great to be able to help graduate students grow their research skills and expose them to the data collection process and all the frustrations as well as the triumphs that can go along with it,” Schneider said.
Joanne Romagni, DePaul associate vice president for research, urged faculty members to “Open up your minds.”
“It's exciting when you get people from different groups and you can all of a sudden see what the potentials are,” Romagni said. “This is a huge investment in research from both institutions.”
Potential new research subjects brought forward during the retreat also include: data mining of personalized health trend genomics to diagnose chronic disease; curriculum development for cultural competency in the health professions; and the effect of hypertonicity on sodium transport in epithelial cells.
The latter proposal would partner Jason Bystriansky, PhD, assistant professor in comparative physiology at DePaul with Hector Rasgado-Flores, PhD, associate professor of physiology and biophysics at RFUMS. The two investigators confirmed during the retreat that they were honing-in on a similar biological phenomena that is employed by very different species to accomplish quite distinct ends. Bystriansky has been studying how migratory fish adapt to changes in salinity and osmolarity as they migrate from the ocean to freshwater rivers, whereas Rasgado-Flores has been trying to figure out why inhalation of hyperosmotic saline solutions produces remarkably beneficial results in the breathing of cystic fibrosis patients.
The researchers theorize that exposure induces endocytosis of sodium transporters in respiratory epithelial cells.
University Marks 100th Commencement Celebration
Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science held its 100th Commencement Celebration on June 6 at the Civic Opera House in Chicago, conferring more than 600 graduate degrees in numerous biomedical and health science disciplines.
K. Michael Welch, RFUMS president and CEO, reminded attendees of the university's centennial in 2012 in calling the 100th commencement “another significant milestone in our history.”
“During your years of study at Rosalind Franklin University, you have engaged in an intentional interprofessional learning experience,” Dr. Welch told graduates. “In our classrooms, laboratories, clinics and hospitals, you have discovered not only wisdom, but also the strength, courage, and integrity critical for a health professional.”
Dr. Welch also hailed the university's commitment to interprofessionalism in educating professionals who can navigate and lead major shifts in practice and delivery under the Affordable Care Act.
“As our nation is in the midst of great changes in the delivery of health care, you have given of yourselves to those who have less access to care,” he told the Class of 2014. “You are poised to be leaders in collaborative, interprofessional healthcare teams that will make a difference, as you join the ranks of more than 20,000 graduates who have gone on to heal, treat, teach, discover and serve.”
Mr. Gail Warden, chair of the Board of Trustees, acknowledged his fellow board members, faculty and the university's 17,000 living alumni “who have dedicated their careers to promoting the health and well-being of their patients.” He also thanked the families and friends of graduates, “for the hard work, dedication and sacrifice that has led to the success of your loved ones.”
An honorary doctorate of humane letters was awarded to Sylvia Manning, who delivered the commencement address. Manning, who earned an MA and PhD in English language and literature from Yale University, is president of the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. She previously served as chancellor of the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Manning read “On Hope,” a story by author Spencer Holst, then told students that their professional skills will bring hope to thousands as they progress through their careers. “May your talents gleam in the darkness as in the light,” she said.
Brandy Lockhart, a third-year pharmacy student and president of the university's Executive Student Council, told graduates that the interprofessional leadership they demonstrated through involvement in student organizations was an inspiration to fellow students and the entire university community.
“Class of 2014, let your success as a healthcare professional or scientist reflect the knowledge and skills you have gained working together, inside and outside the classroom. Remember to enhance the interprofessional nature of the institutions you are about to enter – and lead as you have done here.”
University Honors Namesake With New Sculpture
In celebration of Dr. Rosalind Franklin's legacy to science, Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science has installed at its main entrance a sculpture in bronze of the British researcher whose Photo 51 was crucial to the discovery of the structure of DNA – the single most important advance in modern biology.
In a ceremony on May 29, 2014, 10 years after making history as the first medical institution in the nation to recognize a female scientist through an honorary namesake, RFUMS celebrated Dr. Franklin's brief life and invaluable contributions that earned her a place among the top 100 scientists of all time. “Her passion for learning and for her research, her pursuit of extreme clarity, her unflinching commitment to the highest standards in both her scientific and personal life, and her high expectations for others, make her an ideal role model for our university and aspiring scientists throughout the world,” said RFUMS President and CEO K. Michael Welch.
Attending the event were family members of the scientist, who died in 1958 at age 37, including Martin Franklin, her nephew, and Rosalind Franklin Jekowsky, her niece.
“Our aunt would be pleased that her legacy includes this university, which is preparing health science and biomedical professionals who will work on behalf of patients, not in isolation, but in teams that build and capitalize on each member's skill, knowledge and strengths,” said Martin Franklin. “In honoring her, you honor ideals that can lead each generation to greatness.”
Rosalind Franklin Jekowsky spoke of her aunt's determination to pursue her education at the highest level despite a world war that raged outside the doors of Cambridge University, where she earned a PhD in physical chemistry in 1945.
“Our aunt rejected the notion that she should interrupt her education to contribute full-time to the war effort,” Jekowsky said. “She rightly saw that if she continued to develop her scientific skills, she could use them to benefit the Allied cause and indeed she did; her study of coal, carbon and graphite, both during and after the war, resulted in enduring contributions to science and industry.”
Franklin also did important work in viruses. She was researching the polio virus with a team at Birkbeck College London at the time of her death, work that, like the discovery in DNA, would eventually be recognized with the Nobel Prize.
The larger-than-life bronze partial figure mounted on a granite base, which stands in the center of University Circle Drive, is the work of artist Julie Rotblatt Amrany, who has produced many pieces of public art.
“It is rare that women get immortalized in sculpture,” Amrany said. “I am delighted that I could be part of the effort to contribute to the recognition of an outstanding and accomplished female leader.”
In taking Dr. Franklin's name on Jan. 27, 2004, the university also took her famous Photo 51 as its logo and “Life in Discovery” as its motto.
“It is our intention that the sculpture that we unveil today will remind all who enter her namesake university that a life lived in discovery is a worthy and attainable goal and one that reverberates beyond the veil of our own mortality,” Welch said.
RWCLC: Form Follows Function
The state-of-the-art learning spaces in the university's latest expansion, the Rothstein Warden Centennial Learning Center, are proving fertile ground for interactive learning.
“After using it for a full term, I think I can say it's been very successful,” said James Carlson, PhD, PA-C, vice dean, College of Health Professions, who uses RWCLC for interprofessional instruction. “You can effectively run 300 students in small groups that are engaged in discussions, actively reasoning through problems. It's very student-centered.
The three-level, 73,000-square-foot FWCLC, designed with the input of faculty, students, and staff, features multifunctional instructional and meeting rooms including three lecture and learning labs. The labs are furnished with eight-seat circular workstations topped with monitors through which students share information, perhaps a radiologic image or evidence-based research to inform clinical and diagnostic decision making.
“The technology allows students or groups to mirror their device for all the other groups to see and promote greater collaborative learning,” said Carlson, who uses RWCLC to help teach interprofessional Clinical Decision Making and Essentials of Clinical Reasoning. “The space and technology allows learners to work together to identify what they know, but more importantly, identify what they don't know and work to find the answers.”
The interpersonal communication fostered within the adaptable spaces of RWCLC makes it easier to structure lessons that allow students to arrive at course objectives through their own process of discovery, said Carlson, who also serves as associate vice president for simulation.
“That's powerful,” he said. “You're nudging them in a direction but you have to let them experience decision-making. We're not training our clinicians to be automatons or to regurgitate information, but to apply knowledge and make clinically sound decisions.”
RWCLC classrooms work because they allow for dynamic, collaborative, give-and-take learning.
Staci Von Holten, a first-year PA student, is learning side-by-side in the new wing with pharmacy, physical therapy and pathologists' assistant students. In Clinical Decision Making, she works in a small group to evaluate hypothetical patient cases, as Carlson pushes out new information, via workstation monitors, until each group arrives at a final diagnosis they share with the rest of the class.
“The way the new classrooms are set up is incredibly conducive to this type of interactive learning,” Von Holten said. “The tables are ideal for discussion.”
“The classroom has to be a flexible lab where students can ask clinical questions, seek information to make clinical decisions and get feedback on the accuracy of those decisions,” Carlson said. “This more effectively mirrors what happens in actual patient care. That's ultimately what these classrooms allow us to do.”
The addition of RWCLC also helps the university meet varied learning styles – lecture, lab or small group.
“We have a well-rounded environment for anything we need to teach,” Carlson said. “That helps us create well-rounded clinicians.”
As an intern and resident in internal medicine at Chicago’s Cook County Hospital in the early 1980s, Bradley Hersh, MD ’80, saw some of the nation’s earliest cases of AIDS.
“Young men were coming into the hospital with fever, enlarged lymph glands, weight loss, pneumonia and chronic diarrhea,” Hersh said. “It was a strange disease. It was bizarre. My attendings and senior residents said, ‘We don’t see young men dying of infections.’ We knew something different was happening, and it was scary.”
More than 30 years later, Hersh, a senior advisor at UNAIDS, can see the result of his work as a member of a global coalition battling a pandemic that has claimed the lives of an estimated 36 million people.
“We can now envisage the end of AIDS,” Hersh, a Chicago native, said recently from his office in Geneva, Switzerland. “AIDS and AIDS-related deaths can be prevented and HIV transmission can be reduced. That to me is really exciting.”
Hersh’s peripatetic career, which has also included positions with the CDC, World Health Organization and Pan American Health Organization, was launched after he was encouraged by a Chicago Medical School professor to consider a career in public health. Infectious diseases and epidemiology quickly absorbed his attention as he simultaneously studied for a master’s degree at the University of Illinois, School of Public Health in Chicago and worked in Cook County Hospital’s ER. There he undertook a project that revealed, through data collected from thousands of patients over a one-month period, that Cook County was, in effect, the city’s busiest clinic for sexually transmitted infections. The CDC took note of that research and asked the young doctor to collaborate on strengthening Chicago’s STI program.
After failing to gain admission in 1986 to the CDC’s highly competitive two-year training program, the Epidemic Intelligence Service, which Hersh describes as “the pinnacle of training in applied epidemiology and the frontier between individual patient health and that of populations,” he stayed on at Cook County and worked for the city of Chicago as a medical consultant for STIs. He applied again and in 1987 earned a coveted spot in EIS.
“I worked with some really fantastic people,” Hersh said. “They taught me epidemiology and gave me room to make mistakes – and accomplishments.”
His first overseas assignment in 1990, when he was a preventive medicine resident at CDC, came at the invitation of Dr. Jonathan Mann, then head of WHO’s Global Program on AIDS. Hersh was invited to join a team headed for Romania in the wake of the fall of the country’s communist government and where more than 1,000 infants and young children, many languishing in orphanages, were infected with HIV.
“I flew to Geneva where I was told there was good news and bad news,” Hersh recalled. “The bad news was the team had fallen apart for a variety of reasons; the new government in Romania wouldn’t give entry visas to senior European members of the team.
The good news: I was the team leader. I was the team.” His findings in Romania that HIV had been transmitted through transfusions of unscreened blood and multiple injections with unsterilized needles earned media attention including publication in the medical journal The Lancet.
“This experience really increased my interest in global public health,” Hersh said.
During his EIS training, Hersh investigated several outbreaks of mumps and measles in the United States. The required second dose of measles-mumps-rubella or MMR vaccine in the U.S. is a direct result of those investigations. His adaptation of the two-dose measles immunization strategy for use in developing countries and its implementation in many low- and middle-income countries has resulted in an 80 percent reduction in global measles deaths compared to the year 2000.
Board certified in internal medicine and preventive medicine, Hersh, who has also lived and worked in Burundi, East Africa and Phnom Penh, Cambodia, has enjoyed the trajectory of his professional life – from the treatment of individuals to populations, from domestic to international, from a focus on immunization to HIV.
“I’ve been in the right place at the right time,” he said. “My training at CMS opened doors at U of I, at the CDC, at WHO and now UNAIDS. One step led to another.”
While he has been gratified to see the impact of his work – a steep decline in worldwide measles deaths and a continuing decrease in the incidence of new HIV infections – the work has only begun.
Scientific progress has empowered a new crop of public health and medical leaders to take up the quest of creating an AIDS-free generation. Long-term challenges include providing HIV testing and ongoing antiretroviral therapy for the 25 million people living with HIV in Africa, implementation of UNAIDS’ and PEPFAR’s (U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) strategy to integrate HIV clinical services into primary health care, and the rise of chronic illness – diabetes, hypertension, cancer, heart disease – among both HIV and non-HIV patients in low- and middle-income countries.
Hersh advises medical and health sciences students interested in public and global health to volunteer with international or charitable groups and travel to Africa, Asia and South America where they can work at the district level and better understand the medical and public health challenges affecting developing countries.
“There has never been a better time to practice public health and medicine in developing countries,” said Hersh, who noted that UNAIDS is working to support countries to make strategic investment in interventions that make the biggest impact in reducing HIV morbidity and mortality.
“Economic development, globalization and improved communications mean we can quickly apply lessons learned from one country to others,” Hersh said. “The challenge is to build health systems that can effectively and sustainably respond to HIV and other public health priorities.”
In the 10 months since she was named a Schweitzer Fellow, future pediatrician Diana Chen, CMS '14, has grasped the importance of a skill that puts patient interaction at the forefront of treatment.
“You just need to sit down and listen,” said Chen, who is using her fellowship to work among the medically underserved on Chicago's West Side. “In rotations in general, the more you listen the more you can see where improvements are needed and what you can do. Listening is therapeutic.”
Chen, one of 32 individuals selected for the Chicago-area 2013 Schweitzer Fellowship, has been listening very carefully to students at Ames Middle School in Logan Square where she is working with several other fourth-year Chicago Medical School students to develop a curriculum to combat environmental stressors that, she said, have been identified as major challenges: bullying, teen sex and mental health.
“It's hard seeing some of the situations at Ames,” Chen said. “There are a lot of pregnant teens, students involved in gangs, widespread marijuana use and stressed parents who have nowhere to turn for help. But the students are so resilient. If you go in and show you're committed to them, they welcome you in. I feel so fortunate to be a part of that.”
On a recent monthly family night at Ames, Chen talked up ideas for improving the overall health and well-being of the school community including a proposal for Saturday sessions focused on communication and parenting under stress. She also proposed an activity in which students might study organs from the RFUMS Gross Anatomy Lab in an after-school project on drug abuse.
Chen is working under the guidance of Douglas Reifler, MD, associate dean for student affairs and medical education, and in partnership with federally funded PrimeCare, which operates community health centers around Chicago, including at Ames.
The fellowship posed an opportunity to merge her interest in serving the health needs of underserved communities and the skills and knowledge she has gained from her RFUMS coursework.
“I've learned about medical literacy and the struggles of the uninsured,” said Chen, who has helped enroll adults in the Medicaid program CountyCare. “I've heard many stories in the clinics about patients falling through the cracks and just not getting adequate information or care from their healthcare providers.”
Chen is also teaching weight and stress management at the Diabetes Empowerment Center in Humboldt Park, another PrimeCare partner. “We want people to understand that controlling and maintaining weight is a lifelong process that requires developing healthy habits and behaviors,” Chen said. “It's a balance of multiple factors including managing stress, eating a balanced diet and incorporating exercise.”
The highly competitive Schweitzer Fellows Program, named after physician and Nobel Laureate Albert Schweitzer, provides students the opportunity to identify and address, through a yearlong service project, an unmet health need while also continuing their academic studies.
“The fellowship is a great opportunity to get involved in the community,” Chen said. “It's so important to gain that experience really early on. I've been active in student organizations during my time at CMS and it really showed me and my classmates what we can do to help where we are needed. I wanted to create more opportunities to do just that.”
Chen, a fluent Spanish speaker, also spends time engaging patients in the waiting rooms of PrimeCare's clinics, where she has identified a lack of medical literacy as a major challenge and where she learns about issues like domestic violence and cyberbullying.
“Things I'm not exposed to in my rotations I get here,” Chen said. “Listening to patients helps you understand where they're coming from. I'm learning what to do for my patients in the future.”
A Head Start
While Nathan Lashley, DPM '06, worked for a medical sales company in his native Oklahoma after graduating college, he was also honing in on what would become his medical career by shadowing a podiatric surgeon.
“I'd get in the operating room with him,” Lashley said. “I spent time in his office. Shadowing let me see the position up close and what the job entailed in the real world and on a daily basis. It also gave me a better understanding of how I was going to function as a clinician.”
Shadowing gave Lashley a good glimpse into practice management, scheduling, the interpersonal give-and-take with staff and “how the flow of a clinic should go.” It also helped him decide that podiatry, which offers work-life balance and entrepreneurial opportunities, was the right profession.
“Seeing the workings on a daily basis means a lot more,” said Lashley, who is one of a group of Scholl College graduates paying forward the opportunity for clinical exposure at their busy, four-location practice, Metro Tulsa Foot & Ankle Specialists.
Abdurrahman Kabani, SCPM '17, who re-visited the practice during February's winter break, said he became interested in podiatry after suffering runner-related foot problems including plantar fasciitis and calcaneal or heel bone fractures.
“Podiatry merges all my interests – diabetic care, surgery, sports medicine,” Kabani said. “I had all these interests but I wanted to see what it was like day-to-day in the podiatric field. Shadowing helped me understand that I wanted to live that role.”
Kabani is a native of Tulsa and so are the Scholl grads who predominate on the Metro Tulsa clinical staff. Raymond Hurlbutt, DPM '76, founder of the practice, Justin Albright and Phillip Hatfield, both DPM '06, and Jeremy Mason, DPM '05, all hail from the Sooner State.
Mason, who Kabani previously shadowed, underwent a three-year residency at the Cleveland Clinic followed by two years of training at the Surgical Hospital of Oklahoma in Oklahoma City.
“I was the first from Scholl to do that program,” Mason said. “The year after I started, Dr. Lashley started, then a number of Scholl students followed. There are some really good residency programs in the south and southwest, Oklahoma and Texas. Getting involved in this region can open opportunities to practice.”
Jobs are drawing more people to the Tulsa region, where unemployment hovers at 5 percent, compared to 7 percent in the United States overall.
“Tulsa's big and it's growing,” said Mason, adding that Kabani is smart to seek out shadowing opportunities. “He's getting a head start and making connections early,” Mason said. “You never know what those connections mean down the line.
There's a residency crunch. The earlier you get your name out there, your face out there, the better people know you. Meeting doctors in this area is never a bad thing.”
“There are fewer podiatrists in Oklahoma versus larger states and not so many hospitals,” said Lashley who, along with Hatfield and Albright, helps run hospital-based wound care clinics.
“The demand is greater,” Lashley said. “There's demand for routine podiatric care and surgical treatment. That bodes well for our profession. Practices tend to thrive here.”
Podiatric physicians who donate their time and expertise to students through shadowing also help their profession thrive by investing in its future, said Scholl College Dean and alumna Nancy Parsley, DPM, MHPE.
“It's great to see our alumni provide these opportunities to our students,” Parsley said. “They're modeling leadership to the next generation of podiatric physicians who can also bring value to the experience. Podiatry students can offer a fresh perspective to emerging trends and research as they shadow clinical practice.”
Discovering a Future
Leaving Greece wasn't easy for Maria Bompolaki, SGPS '16, who arrived at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science in the fall of 2012 to pursue a profession in science.
Raised on the ancient isle of Crete, in the port city of Chania, Bompolaki has, with good nature and determination, made the shift from shimmering seas and gleaming beaches to Chicagoland. She has put into perspective the separation from her close-knit family and a town “where everybody knows each other.”
In Greece, where a debt crisis continues to choke the economy, employment and professional opportunities are slim.
“In Greece, you can get a degree, a very high level of education, but it's almost impossible to get a job,” said Bompolaki, a PhD candidate in the interdisciplinary graduate program in biomedical sciences. “The opportunity I was given to come here really opens up my possibilities for the future. What I'm doing now is what I want to do with my life.”
As a girl, Bompolaki listened to her father, a former high school teacher who holds a degree in physics, talk about his true love, the planets and stars. But she was interested in a different universe – human biology.
“When I got into biology, I realized what I really liked was brain function,” said Bompolaki, who earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Crete. She worked in the university's medical school neuropharmacology lab on a project that looked at the immunological response of the brain to neurodegeneration.
“I liked being part of developing a drug for treatment of neurodegenerative disease, which is very debilitating,” Bompolaki said.
It was while doing lab work that Bompolaki met Professor Kyriaki “Kiki” Sidiropoulou, PhD '03, who encouraged her to apply to RFUMS.
“Before that I never considered it a possibility,” Bompolaki said. “I knew RFUMS' graduate school was very active in neurobiology and it would be a perfect fit for me. I knew that if I could come here it would be a huge break for my career.”
Bompolaki, who speaks three languages, including German, studied biosciences for a semester in Manchester, U.K. and upon her return in 2010 she began preparing her family for the move stateside that she hoped to make.
“My parents initially were very concerned about me going so far away,” she said. “But they knew that working in the lab is something that really excites me, that it's really my dream job, that I can't imagine doing anything else with my life. They never said ‘No.' Now that I'm here and everything went according to plan, they're very satisfied and proud.”
Under the guidance of Dr. Janice Urban, professor and chair of the department of physiology and biophysics, Bompolaki is studying the role of the amygdala in stress and stress resilience in rat behavioral models.
“We're working to understand the mechanisms involved in prevention and treatment of anxiety-related disorders, like PTSD,” said Bompolaki, who enjoys the camaraderie of working in a lab. “I feel very fortunate that in all the labs that I have worked in so far, I've never felt isolated. That's very important for me – to work in an area where I can talk with people and socialize.”
What does the future hold for the outgoing young scientist? Bompolaki, who this summer will mentor a recent high school graduate through the university's INSPIRE program, is excited at the prospect. She expresses gratitude to her own academic mentors “who made this all come true for me.”
“I no longer have to worry about the future, who will take me, will I ever have a job again,” she said. “I'm really getting excellent training here and that will help me continue doing whatever I like, and choose what's best for my career.”
Prescription for Leadership
The year 2013 was a defining and fruitful time for Alyssa Wenzel, COP '15, who pursued opportunities for growth in both her chosen discipline and the larger world where she will soon put it into professional practice.
Wenzel is founding president of the Wisconsin Student Pharmacist Association at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, which provides pharmacy community outreach in the neighboring state and opportunities for networking and support to students who complete rotations at the College of Pharmacy's many experiential sites in Wisconsin. About 20 WSPA members pay dues and can take part in the annual meeting of the Pharmacy Society of Wisconsin and its annual state Legislative Day.
“We're so close to the border,” said Wenzel, a native of West Bend, northwest of Milwaukee. “Rosalind Franklin University does a lot of recruiting out of Wisconsin and a lot of our graduates are going to be working in Wisconsin. The group offers a way to be unified and have a presence.”
Wenzel became interested in basic science research and its role in drug development during a summer internship in the lab of Dr. David Harrison, COP vice chair and professor of pharmaceutical sciences. Before she headed to D.C. for a service learning project on behalf of the National Brain Tumor Society, she researched issues around oral chemotherapy parity access laws adopted by some states.
“Healthcare professionals have so much knowledge,” Wenzel said. “I feel, in general, we should be more outspoken and advocate for our patients.”
Wenzel admits that she was nervous, at first, speaking to top aides for U.S. senators Tammy Baldwin and Ron Johnson. “They were really receptive,” she said. “I wasn't expecting them to listen as much as they did. I felt like I had a lot to say.”
After earning a degree in biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Wenzel chose to pursue a PharmD partly because the degree has a foundation in the basic sciences, which she enjoys and because “I thought pharmacy would offer a lot of different opportunities,” she said.
In COP, where students are required to begin diverse clinical rotations in their first year, Wenzel has learned that she enjoys the pharmacist's role in direct patient care and the study of infectious diseases. But she is also exploring a growing interest in academic pharmacy. A natural teacher, she tutors other students in a variety of subjects, including biochemistry, pharmacotherapy and pharmaceutics.
“Some of these subjects are hard to grasp,” Wenzel said. “It's difficult to fit all the information in an hour a week.”
Her interests in pharmacy academia deepened when she received a scholarship to attend the annual meeting of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, the national organization which represents pharmacy education, held in 2013 in Chicago.
In another 2013 adventure, Wenzel spent the month of June with COP third-year student Rita Huynh and Dr. Kevin Rynn, COP associate dean for clinical affairs and associate professor, volunteering with the non-governmental organization Hope of Children and Women Victims of Violence in Uganda, where she helped teach health education classes at a school for refugees. She also worked at a government-run clinic, where she cared for patients in a challenging environment of medication shortages and lack of cold storage for vaccines.
“We were impressed with how much they did with limited resources,” she said.
Wenzel is a runner. She is training for the Chicago half-marathon. She and other COP students sometimes meet at a local fitness club where they prop their course notes on their treadmills and quiz each other during workouts.
“I'm definitely the person who studies for new material right after an exam,” Wenzel said. “I like to stay ahead of things.”
Food for Life
It was the usual whirlwind day for Malena Perdomo, RDN, CDE, MS '08, who has forged a career in social, print and broadcast media as a nutrition expert and consultant in her home state of Colorado and beyond.
On the day's agenda: getting two rambunctious boys off to school, entertaining guests from her native Panama and television appearances on both 9 News Denver and Telemundo to discuss a breaking news story – the backlash against a chemical ingredient found in Subway sandwich bread.
Used to increase elasticity in things like yoga mats and shoe rubber, the compound azodicarbonamide is already banned from foods in Europe and Australia, said Perdomo, who used her on-air time to support the work of the blogger who led a successful petition drive to stop Subway from using the additive.
“I have a voice in my community here in Colorado,” said Perdomo, a registered dietitian. “A voice where I can set the record straight about food and nutrition.”
Perdomo is the Spanish spokesperson for Denver-based, LiveWell Colorado, which aims to reduce obesity in the state. She also serves as nutritionist for the non-profit's Spanish reality TV show“La Familia de la Cruz.”She writes a column for the Denver Post's bilingual publication Viva Colorado. She also pens a Spanish language blog for AARP and as a certified diabetes educator, teaches classes through the American Diabetes Association.
“Nutrition is so important, it enriches the quality of life,” said Perdomo, who speaks to a targeted audience in metro Denver, where more than 627,000 residents, or 22 percent of the population, are Latino.
“Preparation of authentic dishes can be labor-intensive,” Perdomo said. “I see a lot of families where everyone has to work two jobs. They don't have grandma to help prepare the food. We all have to adapt to make food a little faster but keep it healthy.”
Perdomo speaks to recent immigrants who face lifestyle shifts including less physical activity, loss of support networks and lack of access to fresh foods. “I encourage really planning what we're going to eat, cook, shop for and feed our kids,” Perdomo said. “You also have to plan activity level. Today it's from a car to a place, from a place to a car. With a few ideas on how to adapt, people can totally live healthier lives.”
Obesity and its complications can be prevented in vulnerable immigrant populations, Perdomo insists. Eighty-five percent of people with Type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese according to the ADA, which also reports that Hispanics are 1.7 times more likely than non-Hispanic whites to be diagnosed with the disease, which costs the U.S. healthcare system a reported $1 billion per day.
“The more connected to the community they are, the better they can find ways on how to live healthy here, how to make it all fit,” Perdomo said. “There's a lot of adaptation that has to happen.”
Perdomo said her MS in nutrition, earned through a Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science distance learning program, helped position her for success in a professional career that also includes teaching on the cultural aspects of nutrition for Metropolitan State University of Denver.
“Everything I learned from RFUMS, I'm actually using as an adjunct instructor,” said Perdomo, who earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
A favorite course, taught by Assistant Professor Hope Bilyk, MS, RDN, LDN, challenges students to think about issues of cultural diversity, socioeconomics, health literacy and patient interactions in clinical settings.
“We may provide information,” Perdomo said. “But do patients grasp what we're telling them? As a health professional you have to continue to adapt and adjust. There are many ways cultural barriers come in. I learned from Hope that we need to keep it very personal to the client we have in front of us.”
RFUMS professor shares expertise on interprofessional education
When a California health professions university needed an expert on building a culture of interprofessionalism, it called on Sarah Garber, PhD, director of interprofessional studies in the College of Pharmacy at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science.
Garber, who also serves as the college's assistant dean for assessment and professor of pharmaceutical sciences, was a keynote presenter at a recent retreat for Marshall B. Ketchum University in Fullerton, CA. Formerly the Southern California College of Optometry, the university anticipates matriculating its first class in the School of Physician Assistant Studies in August and will open a College of Pharmacy in 2016.
Garber first impressed MBKU administrators at a meeting of the national Interprofessional Education Consortium, which she attended leading an interprofessional team that included representatives from different RFUMS programs and students who help run the all-volunteer RFUMS Interprofessional Clinic for the medically underserved.
“Dr. Garber is very passionate about interprofessionalism and that's contagious,” said John H. Nishimoto, OD, MBA, FAAO, vice president and dean of interprofessional studies at MBKU, who visited RFUMS last year with Robert Rosenow, PharmD, OD, founding dean of MBKU's College of Pharmacy.
“It was a great visit,” said Rosenow, a consultant on the establishment of RFUMS COP, which opened in 2009, and a member of the college's advisory board. “We got to see what Rosalind Franklin was all about. We recognized the need to provide our healthcare education within a culture of interprofessional education. That was the reason to become a comprehensive health care university.”
“Like us, they have a similar vision with leadership coming from the top,” Garber said, referring to MBKU President Kevin L. Alexander, OD, PhD. “They need to grow a culture of interprofessionalism from the ground up and let the community take over.”
Garber worked closely with Nishimoto to develop a workshop highlighting many practical aspects of implementing interprofessional education. During her visit in late February, she spent several hours with the university's Interprofessional Education Committee and met with Alexander, who is spearheading the IPE effort and Morris S. Berman, OD, MS, senior vice president for administration. She also led a four hour workshop that addressed topics including incorporating IPE into appointments, promotions, assessments and the tenure process, and moving from a multidisciplinary to interprofessional mode. The retreat included administration, staff and faculty.
“The group at MBKU is primed to embrace IPE in their programs,” Garber said. “That made conducting the workshop and breakout groups extremely productive and a lot of fun for all. My goal was to leave the university community with concrete elements to add to their strategic IPE mission.”
Garber's goal is not to tell MBKU what to do, but to help the university define its journey.
“The challenges for any institution are unique and they're certainly going to have their own challenges,” she said. “I'm explaining, ‘Here are the tools to help you get to where you want to go,' and telling stories on how we got to where we are at.” “Marshall B. Ketchum University is in many ways following a very parallel process to Rosalind Franklin University,” Nishimoto said.
Garber points to the importance of university-wide buy-in on IPE, including strong support from faculty and student governance, and the need for “giving credit where credit is due.”
“You have to create benefits for the faculty,” she said. “Interprofessionalism is a part of their job and you have to make it part of their promotional and development package.”
Adoption of the IPE model, according to Nishimoto, will help MBKU stay competitive in a market that is transforming the way health care is delivered. It will also better serve both students and their future patients.
“Providing collaborative health care in an interprofessional environment has really been shown to improve patient outcomes and enhance care,” Rosenow said. “That needs to be the focus.”
Bringing Focus to Critical Care and Mobile Technology
His expertise is always just a smart phone away. Sean Kane, PharmD, assistant professor in the College of Pharmacy, has made that possible by creating apps such as FlashRx, which provides students with quick reference to information on common drugs, including their uses, side effects and contraindications.
Developing and maintaining FlashRx is just one of the contributions Dr. Kane has made since he joined the faculty in 2012. He also serves as a faculty advisor to pharmacy students, is a preceptor for the RFUMS summer research program and teaches the College’s Critical Care Pharmacy course.
Dr. Kane recalls that his interest in pharmacy started early. “In high school, I loved chemistry,” he recalls. “So my choice of a pharmacy career grew from there.” He attended Butler University’s College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, where he completed a six-year Doctor of Pharmacy program. It was during his time at Butler that Dr. Kane cultivated his skill in app development. “I worked in the college’s Information Resources department, where one of my early projects was the creation of a scheduling and time clock application for student workers,” he says. “Before long it was being used throughout Butler.”
After Butler, Dr. Kane completed his pharmacy practice residency, followed by a second residency in critical care pharmacy at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). “I loved working in critical care as a student and early on decided this was a specialty I would pursue. When I completed my residency at UIC I knew I wanted a position where I could work in a critical care environment and fulfill my desire to be a teacher, do meaningful research and continue to use technology in both the learning and clinical practice environments. Rosalind Franklin University’s new College of Pharmacy was the ideal choice.”
Dr. Kane now divides his time between the College and his work as Critical Care Clinical Pharmacist at Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, Illinois, one of Rosalind Franklin University’s hospital partners. There, Dr. Kane provides clinical pharmacy services to a 17-bed intensive care unit. “My Condell position also enables me to serve as the primary preceptor for 10 Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experience second year students each year. They are able to see, firsthand, how a clinical pharmacist plays a vital role in caring for patients in an ICU setting. They see how the pharmacist, as part of the critical care team, rounds with attending physicians and helps make decisions about medications that can impact the patient’s treatment plan and outcome.”
His classroom responsibilities at the College include courses on pharmacotherapy and pharmacokinetics, and he coordinates and teaches the critical care elective. Dr. Kane is also pursuing research interests, including two retrospective studies of adjunctive therapy in septic shock. Two College of Pharmacy students have assisted in this project under his direction.
Notable too is his continued dedication to using web-based and mobile application technology to expand learning resources for students and practitioners. While at UIC, Dr. Kane combined his interest in technology and his professional specialty, creating ClinCalc.com, which provides evidence based clinical decision support. “This is a free website that serves as an educational resource for clinical pharmacists, residents and students,” he explains. “I update it and maintain it regularly and have added a mobile smart phone application for dosing guidelines on two common drugs. This app also features a database where visitors can find evidence-based, landmark critical care trials. ClinCalc, in its web-based and mobile app formats, now gets more than 24,000 new visitors each month.”
Dr. Kane appreciates and embraces his position as a role model for a new generation of pharmacists. “This is an exciting time,” he says. “Our role on the health care team is expanding, and we’re using creative approaches to ensure that today’s students are ready. I am proud to play a part in that.”
Embracing Student Life and Studies
Shannon Liu came to the Chicago Medical School determined to focus only on her studies, eschewing the high level of extracurricular activity that marked her undergraduate experience at the University of California, Davis. “I have always been a joiner, one who wanted to be part of lots of things. But when I was
accepted into medical school I thought I should focus solely on my studies.”
Her resolve was short-lived. “I couldn’t resist,” she says. “Once I arrived at the Chicago Medical School and saw for myself how many great opportunities there were, I changed my mind.” Shannon quickly joined the emergency medicine and pediatrics interest groups as well as the CMS Faculty Awards committee.
Soon she had a reputation among her peers as someone who was always willing to serve. That led to a surprise role during her second year. “I attended a meeting at which elections for president of the Executive Student Council (ESC) were being held. But when the call went out for nominations, a friend of mine
offered up my name, encouraging me to run. I did, and I was elected.”
She says her tenure as ESC President was very rewarding. “Rosalind Franklin University is a school where the faculty-student relationships aren’t just given lip-service, but are very real and extremely meaningful. In my role, I was able to see up close just how important and valued the student voice is, and that was wonderful.”
Shannon says her busy life at CMS makes it easier to be so far from home. “That’s one of the things I worried about when I applied to school,” she says. “I am close to my parents, my sister and our three dogs, and I also worried about leaving behind the moderate temperatures of my home in California.”
Growing up, Shannon had lots of interests. “After undergraduate school I took a break and worked with children in a sports medicine center,” she shares. “I loved the work, but soon yearned for something more challenging. Medical school had always been in the back of my mind, and so I went forward with that plan.”
Right now, she’s keeping specialty options open. “As a third-year student I am going to be doing a number of clinical rotations, so I will be exposed to many medical and surgical environments,” she says. “I have always been interested in both pediatrics and emergency medicine, but I realize that might change. In another year or so, who knows?”
Shannon continues to maintain her commitment to service, too. As a third-year student, she serves as CMS Student Dean, a liaison between administration and students. “In addition, I am involved in activities aimed at celebrating CMS pride,” she adds. “Our school deserves notice, and I like being part of that.”
As ESC President, Shannon was the featured speaker at the 2013 University Commencement. In her speech, she shared thoughts that will no doubt be appropriately spoken to Shannon herself when she graduates in 2014.
“Day in and day out, you put one foot in front of the other and worked for your achievements. Yes, your journey was long and probably exhausting, with late nights studying and unpredictable hospital and clinic hours. You made sacrifices. But you chose to pursue your dream, for this is what you were meant to do.”
Program Helps Postdoctoral Fellows and Graduate Students Explore Career Paths
Is there a perfect place for everyone? This is a question considered by leadership of Rosalind Franklin University’s School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (SGPS). “The answer to that may be a qualified ‘Yes,’” says Joseph X. DiMario, PhD, Dean of SGPS. “To support this goal, we have created a program called Career Enhancement and Development for Postdoctoral Fellows, commonly known as CED.PDF.”
Dr. DiMario explains that CED.PDF is a multifaceted approach to providing information, support and mentoring to SGPS’s graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. “The need for this program has grown from a new reality,” he says. “There was a time when most postdoctoral fellows and graduate students could expect to find a good academic research and teaching position following completion of their postdoc work,” he adds. “But today, with funding opportunities dwindling in relation to the number of fellows seeking positions, the environment has changed. The career landscape is now more diverse. The good news is that there are options, and Rosalind Franklin University is in a good position to help our fellows and students cultivate skills that position them for success.” He points to business, industry and the government, in addition to academia, as potential employers for those with scientific training. “Rosalind Franklin University itself is located at the center of scientific possibility, with a number of pharmaceutical companies within just miles, and the many business and academic centers of the Chicago area also located nearby. All of these are enterprises that rely heavily on the expertise of scientists like the ones who are studying on our campus.”
The CED.PDF program aims to help students and fellows explore the full range of professional options that will be available to them. It was created, with support from SGPS, through the efforts of three postdoctoral fellows — Alicia Case, PhD; Daniel Christian, PhD; and Karen Johnson, PhD, who have a vested interest in its objectives.
One of the key elements of CED.PDF is the Individual Development Plan (IDP), a tool for self-evaluation and goal-setting. “The IDP identifies competencies, sets goals and is an effective mechanism for fellows to chart a plan for continued training and crystallize plans for career direction,” says Dr. Johnson, who is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Bala Chandran, PhD, chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology. “The self-assessment component of the IDP asks fellows to rate their interest and proficiencies in categories such as research skills, computer skills, communication, and administrative and leadership skills.” She explains that the IDP self assessment explores specific skill sets such as working in a group, grant preparation and teaching, with the rankings designed to help them understand their proficiencies and interests.
The CED.PDF program also matches fellows with mentors and sponsors presentations and workshops highlighting careers in academic environments, business and industry, and government. “We want to encourage a steady dialogue about the options available in multiple settings,” Dr. DiMario says.
He points out that SGPS has already witnessed an encouraging by-product of CED.PDF’s focus on self-assessment. “We’ve noted that our graduate and postdoctoral students are increasingly applying for their own research grants,” he says. “This may reflect the CED.PDF program’s emphasis on empowerment and on taking control of their own futures. This is a positive sign. Clearly, this program benefits our current fellows and students. But it also benefits our University as a whole. It demonstrates to those inside and out that Rosalind Franklin University is committed to their development. It’s a distinguishing feature for us that will help us continue to recruit the best and brightest.”
Dual Degrees Lead CHP Alumna to Career in Health Administration
Amy Mendoza was still pondering decisions about her undergraduate major when fate stepped in. “I secured a job in a pathology laboratory and fell in love with it,” she says. That move led Mendoza to Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science and to two degrees from the College of Health Professions — Master of Science in both Pathologists’ Assistant and Healthcare Administration and Management.
“Coming to Rosalind Franklin University was a big step,” she says. “I lived in Oregon, where I was raising two young daughters. I knew I wanted to pursue a pathologists’ assistant career, but I also had my girls to think of. I needed a place where our quality of life and my education would be good.” Mendoza says RFUMS made that possible. “I applied to several competitive pathologists’ assistant programs in the U.S. and was invited to interview at most of them,” she explains. “But Rosalind Franklin was the best fit for us. With great financial and practical support, the University made it possible for me to come east from Oregon, make a life for my family and receive an outstanding education in the field I loved.”
Amy says that being at RFUMS, and seeing the range of educational opportunities available, led to another decision. “While I loved the lab, I saw that my eventual career path might be in an administrative or leadership role,” she says. “So I pursued the master’s degree in healthcare administration.”
Following graduation in 2012, Amy made another move that has impacted her career and future. She was invited to participate in a 10-week summer internship sponsored by the Institute for Diversity in Health Management Summer Enrichment Program (SEP), which is affiliated with the American Hospital Association. Through SEP, she was placed at Connecticut’s Yale-New Haven Hospital, where she worked on projects including helping to prepare for a hospital acquisition by designing the integration of the multimillion dollar protective services department. When it came time for the internship to end, Yale New Haven Health System (YNHHS) offered her a one-year fellowship in healthcare administration.
“I was thrilled to be able to extend my experience within Yale New Haven Health System,” she says. “During the fellowship year I continued my work on the department integration and was involved in creating and implementing new business plans around population health management. Several of my projects were focused on laboratory medicine so my training as a pathologists’ assistant, in addition to my degree in healthcare administration, was very useful in addressing the redesign of those areas.”
“We were not at all surprised to learn that Amy was staying on for a fellowship year at Yale New Haven Health System,” says Diane R. Bridges, MSN, RN, CCM, chair of the Department of Health Services Administration. “A gifted, hardworking, outstanding student, she took the insights and skills she learned at RFUMS to one of the country’s most esteemed medical centers and, in doing so, spoke volumes about the excellence of Rosalind Franklin University. Her experience also underscores the importance of financial support. Without scholarship help from Rosalind Franklin University, this amazing young woman might not have been able to pursue the career she was clearly meant for.”
Mendoza completed her fellowship at YNHHS during the summer of 2013 and was offered a position in Washington, DC. “I am excited to begin the next step of this journey,” she says. “My years at Rosalind Franklin University prepared me well, gave me the opportunity to expand my skills and helped put me on a path to a wonderful career and life for me and my daughters.”
Alumna Returns as Faculty Member
On a recent visit to her childhood home, Dyane Tower, DPM ’09, was shown something her parents had found while sorting through old boxes. It was a report she had filled out in eighth grade in preparation for high school. Asked the “what do you want to be when you grow up” question often posed by parents and teachers, she had responded simply… “I want to be a surgeon.”
“My parents were rightfully charmed by this and were eager to share it with me,” says Dr. Tower, who, as an alumna and assistant professor of podiatric medicine and radiology at the Dr. William M. Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine, does indeed include “surgeon” as one of her skills. “To see that in print — that I was so sure at such a young age — made us all smile.”
With an early interest in medicine and a lifelong participation in sports, her pursuit of podiatric medicine seemed inevitable. “In college I worked with the team physician, an orthopedic surgeon, who guided me in this direction. Because of my interest in athletics and sports medicine, he mentioned podiatric medicine,” she explains. “At his urging, once I took my MCAT exam, I paid special attention to the materials I was receiving from podiatric medicine programs. Once I visited Scholl, I knew it was the place for me.”
After graduating with dual degrees, a Master of Science in Healthcare Administration and a DPM, Dr. Tower moved to Greeley, Colorado, to complete her podiatric medicine residency at Banner Health. Her responsibilities there included overseeing clinical care at a podiatry specialty clinic at a community health center. “My work there was pivotal in several ways,” she says. “I took increasing notice of the importance of podiatric medicine in the health and wellness of a community. I became more and more interested in community health and in exploring ways to improve it.” Dr. Tower says her Colorado years also led to a desire to make teaching a part of her future. “I was responsible for teaching junior residents and medical students,” she says. “I loved it.”
Nearing the completion of her residency, Dr. Tower was presented with another opportunity. She was named the APMA/TDI Public Health Fellow by the American Podiatric Medical Association and spent a year at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice in Hanover, New Hampshire, fulfilling the requirements to obtain a Master of Public Health degree. “This was an incredible program, which included health care professionals from many disciplines and many countries, all coming together to learn from the Dartmouth faculty and from one another,” she says. “It gave me an excellent chance to enhance my skills and build on my experience in community health.”
Dr. Tower explains that nearing completion at Dartmouth she was faced with decisions. “I wanted to find a place where I could practice, pursue my interest in making a difference in a community, participate in research efforts and, importantly, be a teacher to the new generations of health care professionals,” she says. “There was an opportunity at Scholl and I was thrilled to pursue it.” She now teaches a variety of courses, including the capstones, six-week “mini” courses in which students get hands-on experience in techniques and procedures. She will also practice podiatric medicine and teach students at both the Scholl Clinic and at the Vista Health Center in Waukegan.
“When the opportunity to come back to Rosalind Franklin University and Scholl College was presented, I knew it was the right choice. I had come full circle.”
Research has long been a passion for Monal Punjabi, COP ’15, who was always amazed that a tiny pill could treat and possibly cure an illness.
“Since my high school days, I knew that I wanted to conduct research,” said Monal, who moved with her family from her native India to Chicago in December 2006.
While working toward her undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois-Chicago, she encountered what a career in outpatient pharmacy practice might be like while working at a local community pharmacy. This experience showed Monal the integral role the pharmacist plays in population health and would eventually lead her to pursue her PharmD degree.
“My passion for improving the health of humankind confirmed my interest in the pharmacy program,” she said. “I really liked the smaller-sized campus.” The importance of education has always been a high priority for Monal, as neither of her parents were able to finish high school while in India due to lack of resources.
“My parents always encouraged my siblings and me to get a good education,” she said. “They were very excited for me when I was the first in my family to go on to college.”
Undeterred after not receiving a research position the summer following her first year of school, she applied to a variety of internships for the summer of 2013, ranging from academic settings to private drug companies to a research position through the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
“I knew it was the time to see if research was really for me,” said Monal. “I wanted to see if I liked it enough to pursue it as a career after graduation.”
Approximately two weeks after submitting her NIH application, she received word from future supervisor Katherine Meilleur, PhD, NP, that her application had been accepted and that she would be heading to the NIH Clinical Center, the nation’s largest hospital devoted to clinical research.
Working at the National Institute for Nursing Research (NINR) in Bethesda, Maryland, the eight-week internship focused on the preparation of an investigational new drug for use in an upcoming clinical trial in patients with central core disease. Her project also involved validating a clinical severity score for patients with congenital muscular dystrophy for use in future clinical trials.
Having already benefited from the interprofessional education she experienced as a first-year student at Rosalind Franklin University, Monal had an opportunity to see interprofessionalism at work. Her internship was a collaborative exercise between nurse practitioners, nurse scientists, neurologists, and a pulmonologist.
“It was great to take what I learned while in class and apply it to my work experience,” said Monal. “We say that research is very important, but you don’t realize how true that is until you are there, doing it.”
A testament to her dedication and contributions to the team at NINR, she has already been invited to continue her involvement with the project next summer. “I’m looking forward to returning to Bethesda,” said Monal. “I’m excited to be able to provide the pharmacist’s perspective and make a difference on the team.”
Researching Effective Remedies
On any given day, a podiatric physician will need to administer the most effective course of treatment for time-sensitive conditions, such as foot ulcers. Finding the most effective treatment as quickly as possible can have great implications on improved quality of care for patients trying to manage diabetes.
In her first trip to the American Podiatric Medical Association Annual Scientific Meeting in July, Cassey Crowell, SCPM ’15, earned second place in the Outstanding Poster Abstract, Student or Resident category for her research entitled “Identification of Biomarkers Associated with Prediction of Healing versus Non- Healing Chronic Diabetic Plantar Foot Ulcers.”
Under the tutelage of Associate Dean of Research and Director of the Center for Lower Extremity Ambulatory Research (CLEAR) Stephanie Wu, DPM, MSc, and Marc Glucksman, PhD, Chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and Director of the Midwest Proteome Center, Cassey’s project took a closer look at blood samples that may eventually lead to more efficient treatment plans to decrease healing time.
“This is the quintessential translational research endeavor with clinical samples that traverse from the lab bench, to hopefully in the future, the patient’s bedside with diagnostic and prognostic potential,” remarked Dr. Glucksman. “This project was the first to utilize the University’s newly acquired Thermo Orbitrap Elite mass spectrometer, funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health, to begin to decipher differences in the proteins of different afflicted patients with diabetic foot wounds.” The mass spectrometer is the only one of its kind in the Chicagoland area.
“If you can better predict a wound’s progression, you can treat a patient more effectively from the start and help save them unnecessary treatment,” said Cassey.
“Foot ulceration is one of the most common complications secondary to diabetes that often leads to infection and amputations. Cassey’s work can help us identify biomarkers in patients who develop these difficult to heal wounds,” said Dr. Wu.
Cassey took advantage of research opportunities within a molecular biology lab while studying biology and biochemistry as an undergraduate student at Indiana University, knowing she wanted to explore all the research options that exist within the podiatric field.
“Looking at the molecular level of wound care was just a natural progression for me, which is why I chose to work with Drs. Wu and Glucksman on the project,” said Cassey, who intends to incorporate research into her professional career after she graduates from the Dr. William M. Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine.
“I’ve always enjoyed research, but I love being in a clinical setting and experiencing interactions with patients,” said Cassey. “I like having the full perspective and understanding of the profession.”
Aside from her studies at Scholl College, the Richmond, Indiana native is concurrently working toward her master’s degree in health services administration, offered through the College of Health Professions. Having earned a certificate in business as an undergraduate, Cassey hopes to one day open her own practice.
“I look forward to experiencing the full scope of practice but also being able to conduct research as well,” she said.
For Nick Hawley, CMS ’16, having connectivity with his classmates has been tantamount to his experience from the very beginning.
“When I started looking into schools, my friends who had participated in the summer research program spoke so highly of the people that the Chicago Medical School (CMS) had in place, both the students and faculty,” said Nick, who earned his undergraduate degree from DePaul University.
“Once I began the application process, an acquaintance who was in his third year here went out of his way to talk to me, telling me all the great things that Rosalind Franklin had to offer, asking if I had any questions and offering advice based on his experience. “In that gesture, it really showed me that the people I would be interacting with and having as my classmates at CMS were people who look out for each other,” said Nick.
And since beginning his studies in the 2012-2013 academic year, he has certainly looked out for his fellow classmates in return. “I’m very involved on campus,” said the Rockford, Illinois native. “Maybe a little too involved.”
Nick currently serves as the president of the Oncology Interest Group and sits on the class council as the CMS ’16 representative in the Organization of Student Representatives, or OSR.
“The OSR is really the voice of the CMS student body for my specific class, speaking to the larger medical school community as it’s an organization within the Association of American Medical Colleges.
“I attended a conference in the spring and met with several other medical students,” he said. “It was great to represent CMS on the national level and engage with students from across the country.”
Back on campus, Nick has been instrumental in the creation and implementation of programs that help introduce first- and second-year students.
In the spring of 2013, he began working on what he coined the “CMS Sibs Program,” where a second-year student serves as the elder sibling to an incoming “little sib.” More than 250 students have signed up to take part in the collaborative program that counts on support from the CMS Office of Student Affairs, as well as the Office of Academic and Retention Services.
Nick also implemented the first CMS Field Day, held at the end of August, where both first- and second-year students joined with faculty members for a day of recreation as classes got underway. The festivities included the unveiling of the newly implemented Learning Communities initiative for the school, which sorted students into four teams which were named after noteworthy Chicago Medical School alumni.
“We had about 200 students, along with faculty and staff, come out to play various games,” he said. “It really brought people together.” Nick was very enthusiastic about the new programs in place for the new academic year. “I’m hoping that both of these initiatives will help bridge the gap between the M1 and the M2 classes. We’re all in this together.”
A chance encounter while fulfilling an undergraduate requirement would completely shift PhD candidate Andrew Scheyer’s course of study from the liberal arts towards a life of research and the sciences.
The Chicago native entered Pitzer College in Claremont, California with the intent to major in English, but a course titled “Brain and Behavior” would provide the spark that would guide Andrew down a different path. “I decided then that I wanted to shift my studies to neuroscience,” said Andrew, SGPS ’15. “One of the things that really attracted me to the sciences is that there is an answer. I wanted to be in a field that felt a lot more gratifying in that regard.”
As an undergraduate, Andrew would work on a thesis which focused on amphetamine sensitization, a process that sees repeated doses of the drug creating a direct enhancing effect on behavioral responses over time. “It is a way to model certain aspects of addiction,” he said.
While working on his final project, he realized that Marina Wolf, PhD, chair of the Department of Neuroscience at the Chicago Medical School, was coming up quite frequently in his citations, so Andrew reached out to the researcher. The initial point of contact would eventually lead him to continue his studies with Dr. Wolf and Dr. Kuei-Yuan Tseng in the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.
Taking his initial interest from his undergraduate studies in neuroscience, Andrew’s continued research, funded by an individual predoctoral grant from the NIH, looks at addiction and what may cause potential relapse triggers at the cellular level.
“My research focuses on changes in a part of the brain in a region called the nucleus accumbens, which is integral to the reward circuitry that underlies compulsive and addictive behaviors,” said Andrew. “What I am looking at is a subset of cells that we have shown to drive a lot of behaviors associated with relapse.
“What we want to understand as a lab is what is causing people to be so sensitive when facing cues and environmental situations that they may associate with previous drug use,” he explained. He has found that changes occur to receptors within the brain that may be the key to relapse triggered by such cues.
“We believe and have shown that these particular cells, these medium spiny neurons of the nucleus accumbens, undergo changes over time that underlie the increased risk of relapse,” he said.
The experience while working with Dr. Tseng and Dr. Wolf created an ideal path for Andrew, who intends to remain within academia upon receiving his doctorate. “I really enjoy teaching,” said Andrew, who teaches a course in neuroanatomy for medical students on campus. “I would like to ultimately one day hold a faculty position at an institution where I’m able to run a lab and teach.”
Rosalind Franklin University Opens New Rothstein Warden Centennial Learning Center
Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science (RFUMS) hosted more than 500 guests for the dedication ceremony that marked the opening of the new Rothstein Warden Centennial Learning Center, a 73,000-square-foot, three-level addition to its campus.
As part of the Alliance for Health Sciences initiative between RFUMS and DePaul University, the new facility houses a suite of offices for DePaul’s Master Entry into Nursing Practice program. School of Nursing students will have the option of taking courses either on DePaul’s Lincoln Park Campus or at Rosalind Franklin’s North Chicago campus.
The Alliance for Health Sciences, launched in October 2012, streamlines entry for qualified students into the health professions, strengthens academic programming, deepens opportunities for faculty collaboration, and expands research opportunities for students. With this Alliance, DePaul and RFUMS offer one of the widest arrays of health science programs in the Midwest.
The latest expansion at Rosalind Franklin was named in honor of Mrs. Ruth M. Rothstein, who served as chairman of the RFUMS Board of Trustees from 2005 until her passing in 2013, and for Mr. Gail Warden, a longtime board member who now serves as chair.
The facility features state-of-the-art learning spaces that foster collaboration and enhance interaction between students and faculty. These rooms and their configurations further the university’s commitment to interprofessional education. The circular workstation seat eight students and gives them the ability to interact during group course work more efficiently and effectively.
The Centennial Learning Center provides additional student common areas, including an expanded and renovated cafeteria, new fitness center, game room and media room.
University welcomes American Medical Association President to campus
Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science welcomed American Medical Association president Ardis Dee Hoven, MD, to its campus on Sept. 26. Hoven’s visit included a breakfast with student leaders, meetings with university leadership, and a presentation to more than 500 members of university community regarding the future of American health care.
Hoven’s visit to the first medical university in the nation named for a female scientist coincided with Women in Medicine month. Rosalind Franklin, PhD, first captured the double helix structure of DNA through the use of X-ray crystallography. Her discovery led to Francis Crick, James Watson and Maurice Wilkins receiving the 1962 Nobel Prize. Franklin passed away in 1958.
During her presentation entitled “Shaping the future of American health care,” Dr. Hoven stressed the importance of team-based healthcare delivery, a cornerstone of the university’s interprofessional education. Hoven would also discuss the anticipated shortage of family medicine physicians, the Affordable Care Act, health system reform and long-term strategic goals of the American Medical Association.
University Community Mourns the Passing of Board of Trustees Chair Ruth Rothstein
From Dr. K. Michael Welch, President and CEO of Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science:
It is with great sadness that I must share Mrs. Ruth Rothstein, chair of our Board of Trustees, passed away on the morning of Sunday, August 4.
As many of you are aware, Mrs. Rothstein was an integral part of the University community, having offered her steadfast support throughout her years of service on the board, providing guidance at critical junctures in the University’s history and helping shape our vision for the future. Through her dedicated leadership, the University refined its interprofessional mission, expanded its programs to meet future health care needs, and opened the College of Pharmacy. Her life-long commitment to improved access to health care was recognized and celebrated at the University’s Centennial Gala last fall where she received the Rosalind Franklin, PhD Award.
Shortly thereafter, in additional recognition of her service on the board and that of our equally dedicated vice chair, Mr. Gail Warden, we announced that the new facility on campus would be named the Rothstein Warden Centennial Learning Center. Mr. Warden, a long-standing member of our board who has served as vice chair for several years, will assume the role of acting chair of the University’s Board of Trustees.
I know you will join me in sharing our deepest sympathy with the Rothstein family and ask that you keep them in your thoughts and prayers. There isn’t a part of our University that was not impacted by Mrs. Rothstein’s leadership.
To honor the legacy and accomplishments of one of the most steadfast supporters of the University, please consider making a contribution to the Ruth Rothstein Memorial Fund.
Rosalind Franklin's Birthday Honored By Google
On what would have been her 93rd birthday, the scientific achievements of Rosalind Franklin and her groundbreaking imagery of DNA is being celebrated by Google on July 25 in the form of a Google Doodle. The RFUMS Marketing and Communications department submitted a suggestion of Dr. Franklin as a potential subject to Google for her breakthrough advances of understanding DNA through the use of crystallography, or x-ray diffraction.
Part of an ongoing series of images that grace the popular search engine’s home page, the Google Doodle highlights cultural milestones like that of Dr. Franklin’s “Photograph 51,” the first structural documentation of DNA ever captured on film.
Through more than 100 hours of X-ray exposure using a special equipment that she modified and assembled herself, Franklin's photo was the first to capture what would become the most significant biological breakthrough of the century--the discovery and description of the double helix structure of DNA, which earned Franklin's fellow scientists Francis Crick, James Watson and Maurice Wilkins the 1962 Nobel Prize.
Construction of Rothstein Warden Centennial Learning Center Underway
The architect's rendering of the Rothstein Warden Centennial Learning Center
In November 2012, Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science (RFUMS) celebrated the construction kickoff of the Rothstein Warden Centennial Learning Center. This 73,000-square-foot, three level building, designed for interprofessional learning, expands Rosalind Franklin University’s facilities with lecture halls, wellness center, a cafeteria and student common areas. Also included in the Rothstein Warden Centennial Learning Center will be a suite of offices for the DePaul University School of Nursing’s Master Entry into Nursing Practice program, which will be partially located on the RFUMS campus as part of the innovative Alliance for Health Sciences created in 2012 by DePaul University and RFUMS. Approximately 75 percent of the building will be dedicated to learning spaces, featuring state-of-the-art and innovative designs that foster collaboration and enhance interactions between faculty and students. This expansion provides much-needed space for our students and also serves the needs of future classes as the demand for health care professionals continues to grow.
The new building is named in honor of Mrs. Ruth M. Rothstein, longtime board chair, and Mr. Gail Warden, board vice chair, for their steadfast commitment to the institution. “Planning for the future is of the utmost importance to our University, and we would not be able to do this without the leadership support of Mrs. Rothstein and Mr. Warden,” said Dr. K. Michael Welch, President and CEO of Rosalind Franklin University. “Their service to the University, and in turn to our students, faculty, staff and the countless communities we impact, can never be repaid.”
In her remarks, Mrs. Rothstein noted that the past four years, especially, have been very exciting. “We have expanded programs in the College of Health Professions, added the Interprofessional Education Center and started our fifth college, the College of Pharmacy. At the same time, we welcomed new board members, expanded our role in the community and redoubled our efforts to provide care to the underserved,” she said.
Mr. Warden shared his perspective of the University’s accomplishments. “For the benefit of our students, we have expanded our academic programs, enhanced facilities and entered into strategic alliances,” he said. “That’s a testament to strong leadership, from the staff to the faculty to the administration.”
Mrs. Rothstein concluded, “It is truly an honor to be affiliated with this University and to celebrate the start of our next chapter, the Centennial Learning Center.”
2013 Kids 1st Health Fair
On August 7, the Kids 1st Health Fair reached its 21st year of providing free health screenings to local families. Rosalind Franklin University has been an early supporter of this event and has worked in partnership with the Lake County Health Department/Community Health Center and the United Way of Lake County to offer these critical services.
The fair began in 1993 to help children from low-income families in Lake County receive required health services in time for school enrollment deadlines. Today, hundreds of Rosalind Franklin University volunteers provide health screenings, foot and shoe assessments, and nutrition recommendations for families. In addition, physical therapy professionals are on hand to analyze the impact a student's backpack has on their gait and make necessary adjustment for better weight distribution. This year, almost 900 children received these much-needed services.
Kids 1st Health Fair is made possible through the steadfast dedication of its supporters, donors, in-kind contributors, and community volunteers. We thank the Abbott Fund and AbbVie for their major funding support and Baxter International Inc, the Chicago Dental Society Foundation, Sharon Doney, First Bank of Highland Park, North Shore-Highland Park Hospital, WIntrust Community Banks: Lake Forest Bank and Trust, Libertyville Bank and Trust, State Bank of the Lakes, Gurnee Walmart (Wal-Mart Foundation) and Zion Walmart (Wal-Mart Foundation) for their contributions.
“Kids 1st allows our students to see the impact of health care and how, by working together as a team, physicians, physical therapists, physician assistants, and other providers can best deliver care to the families who need us most,”said Dr. K. Michael Welch, President and CEO of Rosalind Franklin University.
RFUMS students teaching in Uganda
Can Rosalind Franklin University play some role in meeting the health needs of the world? Dr. Inis Bardella says the answer to that question is a resounding “yes.”
As Associate Dean for Faculty Development and Global Health Initiatives at the Chicago Medical School, Dr. Bardella, who joined the University in 2011, is charged with leading efforts to fulfill an important mission. “My role is to facilitate engagement of the entire institution in efforts to reduce morbidity and mortality in underserved populations, both in the US and globally,” she says.
Her responsibilities include leading efforts to cultivate faculty members who are valued and engaged as effective educators, scholars and leaders, and to cultivate long-term, equitable global partnerships that prepare students, residents and faculty to meet the health needs of the world, especially the poor.
Dr. Bardella emphasizes that in creating her position, the University demonstrated its strong commitment to global health. “It is important to note that efforts have been underway at Rosalind Franklin University for a number of years, largely due to the incredible energy and passion of the students themselves. In fact, global health initiatives in the past were largely coordinated through a student organization, International Health Interest Group (IHIG). Now, through our office, the University is enhancing student electives and developing equitable partnerships locally and globally.
“We are building on existing students, faculty and alumni relationships and forging new ones,” she adds. “Importantly, these are partnerships in which we work with in country organizations to determine how we might best help them achieve their goals. We are interested in cultivating long-term collaborations so that we may support our partners to achieve sustainable improvements.” Current partnerships include Hope of Children and Women Victims of Violence (HOCW) in Uganda, which provides education, job skills, English classes and access to health care for refugees assimilating into Uganda; and Heartland Alliance, a human rights organization, through which RFUMS is exploring a partnership with the Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolas de Hidalgo Medical School in Mexico to transform the curriculum and enhance information resources for both schools. Several partnerships are in the exploration phase. The University’s global health initiatives are assessed for their potential for RFUMS to contribute to education, research or clinical care. “Our efforts must contribute to at least one of these,” Dr. Bardella says. Efforts are also underway to provide scholarships for interested students to help defray the costs of travel and projects. “We have support from several alumni and faculty, which is much appreciated.”
Dr. Bardella says her interest in global health initiatives stems from her religious faith, rural background and longstanding commitment to serve underserved rural and urban populations globally. She grew up in rural Pennsylvania, received her MD degree from Temple University School of Medicine, Philadelphia, and completed a family medicine residency at Washington Hospital, Washington, Pennsylvania. Over the years, her clinical practice emphasis has been on the care of underserved rural and urban populations. She has served on regional and national committees, addressing both clinical care and education of health professionals for these populations. She also has firsthand global experience, having worked as a physician, consultant and medical educator in Rwanda, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Albania and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
“As a health sciences university in the United States with great resources, we have a responsibility to address the health needs of low-income regions and countries in a manner that will improve morbidity and mortality,” Dr. Bardella says. “By applying our passion, abilities and resources through equitable, collaborative partnerships we can make a sustainable worthwhile impact.”
DePaul and Rosalind Franklin Faculty Explore Joint Research Initiatives
The Alliance for Health Sciences between DePaul University and Rosalind Franklin University took another step forward as faculty members from both institutions met to explore areas for potential research collaboration.
“We were delighted with the turnout and amazed at how quickly faculty produced actionable projects on which to begin collaborating,” said Dr. Joanne Romagni, DePaul’s Associate Vice President of Research, who helped organize the program at DePaul’s Lincoln Park campus.
The 70 participating faculty members, split evenly between the two schools, broke into eight working groups for an afternoon of discussion on the research currently underway. They discussed where new and expanded joint efforts might logically take place. Though most DePaul participants were from the College of Science and Health, some initiatives will draw on the talents of faculty from other schools, including the colleges of Communication and Computing and Digital Media.
According to co-organizer Dr. Ronald Kaplan, Vice President of Research for RFUMS, participants will provide written summaries of what they specifically would like to pursue and what resources would be required. “This was an extraordinary event in which faculty from many diverse fields worked together to develop new collaborative projects, thereby enabling their distinct areas of expertise to be utilized to explore problems of scientific importance,” Dr. Kaplan said. “The pilot project funds, which exemplify the commitment of both institutions to support research, will provide the wherewithal for the development of new high-impact projects leading to important advances in knowledge.”
First PhD in Interprofessional Healthcare Studies: Team Dialogue a Focus for Simulation Lab's Jim Carlson
As a high school chemistry teacher, Dr. Jim Carlson enjoyed the fulfillment of seeing students grasp difficult concepts. Though his career took a different path, his love of teaching and learning has continued. Today, Dr. Carlson is the Director of Interprofessional Simulation at Rosalind Franklin University and recently became the first person to earn a PhD in Interprofessional Healthcare Studies at RFUMS.
“I left teaching to become a physician assistant,” he explains. He earned his Master of Science degree in physician assistant practice from Rosalind Franklin’s College of Health Professions in 2001. “I worked for about 10 years in a range of clinical settings, including occupational medicine and dermatology. But I wanted to pursue an advanced degree, and a master’s is considered a terminal degree for a physician assistant.”
Having joined RFUMS in 2003, he became interested in the dynamics of interprofessional education. “In particular, I was eager to explore how teams work, how the individuals on a health care team especially can work together to improve diagnostic accuracy and ensure good outcomes.” With this focus in mind, Dr. Carlson decided to pursue a PhD in Interprofessional Healthcare Studies.
His dissertation included assessment of a simulation exercise in which students and residents conferred with interprofessional members of the team in making a diagnosis, and were then also asked to use a web-based clinical decision support tool. “The results have led me to increased understanding about the needs and opportunities,” he says. “We continue to explore how we can work more collaboratively and remove biases that can get in the way of our dialogue. Importantly, our team is working on ways to use our Simulation Laboratory to accomplish these goals, which means that students in every school at Rosalind Franklin will benefit. My hope is that through simulation exercises in which they will be asked to engage a member of the team, often someone from another discipline, students will improve their assessment, diagnostic and treatment accuracy. Of course, this approach also prepares them for their work after graduation, where they will likely be part of a team model when providing patient care.”
Dr. Carlson notes that health care has, until recently, lagged behind other industries in understanding the role of teamwork in ensuring successful outcomes. “High-risk industries such as aerospace, nuclear power and the military have focused on how teams work in achieving goals and ensuring safety,” he says. “A university such as ours, which is already ahead of the curve in its focus on interprofessional teamwork, is well poised to be a leader in this area.”
Moving Performance: Dr. Fang Lin Is New Director of Human Performance Lab
Fang “Amanda” Lin, DSc, brings a career long interest in body mechanics and movement to her new role as Director of the Human Performance Laboratory of the Dr. William M. Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine.
“Growing up in China in a family where both parents were college professors, I always loved science,” she says. “As an undergraduate I chose to focus on biomedical engineering. Then I pursued a medical degree and worked for a time doing research at a cardiovascular specialty hospital.” But she says she became restless and yearned to return to engineering. “So I went back to school and got a doctorate degree in electronic engineering and information processing.”
Several years later, Dr. Lin had the opportunity to complete a postdoctoral fellowship in biomechanics at Northwestern University. “This was transformational for me, since as part of this fellowship I worked with patients at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC), the country’s finest rehab hospital. It was there that I first appreciated that my work was not just theoretical—that it could have a real impact on a person’s life and mobility.”
Dr. Lin says she was delighted to have the opportunity to come to RFUMS and direct the Human Performance Lab, a state-of-the-art facility for the quantitative and qualitative analysis of human physical activity. “I was so impressed when I first saw it—it was unlike anything I had ever worked in. The lab includes a state-of-the-art movement capture system that allows us to do very faithful recording and detailed analysis.”
As a part of Scholl College’s Center for Lower Extremity Ambulatory Research (CLEAR), the lab’s activities include study of the issues pertaining to lower limb complications of diabetes. These include wound prevention and healing, fall prevention, objective assessment of corrective surgeries, and safely improving physical activity levels in individuals at risk of diabetic foot ulceration. In addition to the diabetic complications, additional focuses include reducing and preventing athletic injuries, improving physical activity performance and evaluating the impact of medical interventions on physical activity.
Dr. Lin says she hopes to cultivate research partnerships with RIC and other institutions to promote research at Human Performance Laboratory with the strength that RFUMS offers. “In line with our University’s effort to launch the research collaboration with DePaul, my colleagues at CLEAR and I have already been in discussion with colleagues from the College of Computing and Digital Media at DePaul,” she says. “We are hoping to use their expertise in video game design to benefit patients with diabetes and other conditions. The game would have a physical movement feature, like the Wii system, and would implement emotional empowerment to encourage patients to engage and track their success. Our objective is to create a game that includes lots of positive reinforcement so that the player does not get discouraged. The goal is to help diabetes patients reach fitness goals that can help them manage their disease.”
“Understanding human movement is so important to our efforts to assess, prevent, diagnose and treat a range of conditions,” Dr. Lin adds. “I am privileged to do this work.
PhD Seeking the Best of Both: Olsi Gjyshi Pursues Combined MD/PhD
Olsi Gjyshi’s love for science began when he was a child in Albania. “I always loved it and early on thought I would choose a career in medicine.” At 19, his dream, commitment and the unconditional support from his parents took Olsi to the United States, where he pursued his undergraduate degree at the Wilkes Honors College of Florida Atlantic University in Jupiter, Florida “I also had an interest in cancer research, and was lucky that my college was located next door to the famed Scripps Research Institute. I was able to get experience in microbiology and oncology there, and also had the opportunity to do an internship in cancer biology at Harvard Medical School and in neuro-oncology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.”
Olsi says he loved the research work but was also interested in clinical care. “As an undergraduate, my interest in cancer studies strengthened, but I also knew I would enjoy both patient care and research,” he says. “So, as I prepared to apply to medical schools, I looked at programs that offered a combined MD/PhD.”
The Chicago Medical School and the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies at Rosalind Franklin University were among the programs that seemed like a fit. “When my older brother, who is an attorney, moved to the Chicago area right about that time, I knew it was meant to be.”
Olsi explains that in the combined MD/PhD program at Rosalind Franklin, students complete the first two years of medical school, then the three or four years needed for the PhD, followed by completion of the MD studies, then a residency in the chosen specialty. Right now, Olsi has completed the first two years of medical school and has begun working on his PhD in microbiology. His work is mentored by Bala Chandran, PhD, Professor and Chair, and Virginie Bottero, PhD, Research Assistant Professor, Department of Microbiology and Immunology.
“My research is focused on Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV), which infects up to three percent of the western population and as many as 40 to 50 percent in certain Asian and African populations. It is a virus that is linked to several cancers, including Kaposi’s sarcoma.” Olsi explains that his research focuses on the upregulation of a key molecule that regulates anti-oxidant response. “I am trying to determine the role of this molecule in KSHV pathology and how it might relate to the development of cancer. This work is being done in two steps. First, we want to look at how this molecule is upregulated by KSHV. Then, we look at whether this upregulation aids KSHV in causing cancer and, if so, what to do about it.”
Olsi knows his dream of a combined degree will take some time. “I am lucky to have found the right place,” he says. “I love this work and am fortunate to work with Dr. Chandran, who is one of the top researchers in this field.” He adds that his ultimate goal has not changed. “I want to make a difference both short term, in caring for patients as a clinician, and long term, as a researcher contributing to finding causes and cures. I look forward to doing both.”
Bringing Clinical Expertise to College of Pharmacy Faculty
Dr. Abbie Lyden is a team player. And, as an emergency department (ED) pharmacist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, her role on the team is vital in providing responsive care, often when minutes count. In August 2012, Abbie Lyden, PharmD, BCPS, brought this expertise, along with a commitment to interprofessional care, to the faculty of RFUMS’s College of Pharmacy, where she is now an assistant professor.
“The College of Pharmacy at Rosalind Franklin University, through its emphasis on the pharmacist’s role as a member of the health care team, exemplifies the changing nature of health care,” Dr. Lyden says. “Every day in the ED I see the critical role our profession plays in the delivery of patient-centered care, and I feel privileged to be able to share that with students.”
Dr. Lyden, an Indiana native, received her Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Purdue University. She then completed a pharmacy practice residency at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. “This type of residency is one important way we prepare pharmacists to practice,” she explains. “It puts the pharmacist on the frontlines with other caregivers, providing hands-on experience in a variety of clinical settings. It was at Brigham and Women’s that I became interested in emergency department clinical pharmacy. This led to my current position at Northwestern Memorial and my commitment to share my passion for pharmacy practice with students. It’s important for students pursuing a pharmacy degree, as well as those pursuing other health care careers, to see us as part of the team in a clinical setting and understand the essential contribution our profession makes to patient care.”
Her critical care pharmacy expertise has also led to research interests. She and her colleagues at Northwestern Memorial are in the process of publishing a case series focused on the acute management of bleeding complicated by the use of new, novel oral anticoagulant medications. “The newer drugs are potential alternatives to warfarin, which has been the standard oral anticoagulant treatment for decades. Unfortunately though, the novel oral anticoagulants lack any direct antidotes, which presents new and difficult challenges in the management of life-threatening bleeding. Our case series describes two cases of patients with bleeding complications taking novel oral anticoagulants, their management and outcomes.” She has also participated in a randomized, multi-center analysis, with results published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, which demonstrated the positive impact of ED pharmacists on reducing medication errors.
Joining the College of Pharmacy allows Dr. Lyden to fulfill another passion. “I have always wanted to teach, which may be something of a ‘genetic’ trait,” she jokes. “My father was faculty at Purdue University in the Department of Agricultural Economics and my mother is a third grade teacher. I am so happy to be able to share my insights and knowledge about the profession I love with the next generation of health care professionals.”
Centennial: Celebrating 100 Years of Life in Discovery
One hundred years. It’s a milestone that signifies achievement. For Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, the roots of a distinguished history lie in the founding of two of its schools, the Chicago Medical School and the Dr. William M. Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine, which both opened their doors in 1912. The visionary commitments of these two schools led to the later establishment of the College of Health Professions, the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies and the College of Pharmacy. It is, then, the history of all of RFUMS’s five schools, beginning with CMS and Scholl, which we now celebrate.
Chicago Medical School
Chicago Medical School (CMS), originally named Chicago Hospital-College of Medicine, was founded in 1912 with the vision of creating a school that, in quiet defiance of the times, would welcome students of diverse backgrounds and without bias due to race, religion, gender or ethnic origin. The school was first located at 38th and Rhoades; it moved to 710 S. Wolcott St. in 1930 and to 2020 W. Ogden Ave. in 1961.
Over the years, the school would weather many storms and for more than three decades it fought for accreditation. In 1948, under the inspired leadership of John J. Sheinin, MD, PhD, DSc, Chicago Medical School would become the first and only privately funded independent medical school to survive a national effort to reduce the number of medical colleges.
Over the next six decades, CMS made significant investments in research and facilities and in developing clinical affiliations with hospitals and universities throughout the US. The establishment in 1967 of the University of Health Sciences expanded the CMS curriculum and mission, making it one of the first medical schools in the nation to develop integrated educational programs for both future physicians and health sciences professionals. This was one of the early steps in RFUMS’s journey to become a leader in interprofessional education.
Chicago Medical School moved to its present campus in North Chicago in 1980. Today, it welcomes nearly 200 students each year, providing them with an interprofessional, team-based education that continues the school’s legacy of preparing outstanding physicians and health care leaders.
Dr. William M. Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine
The history of the Dr. William M. Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine also begins in 1912, when its namesake, Dr. Scholl, opened the school, then called the Illinois College of Chiropody and Orthopedics, at 1321 N. Clark St. Dr. Scholl was a man of indisputable drive, character and foresight. His conviction that the lower extremity, all but neglected by early medicine, was a vital part of overall health ignited the emerging field of podiatry and helped transform it into a respected and highly valued discipline. Throughout his career, Dr. Scholl pushed to advance the specialty and improve the college through a series of reorganizations, a move to larger quarters and stronger curriculum and research. The college would ultimately undergo a number of name changes, taking the name of its founder and most ardent supporter in 1981.
Like CMS, Scholl College withstood challenges from the medical establishment of the times. The school advocated for the specialty and its students, eventually prevailing in a number of efforts, including insurance parity, inclusion in the Medicare program, clinical privileges at the nation’s hospitals and federal funding under the Health Professions Educational Assistance Act. The college joined RFUMS in 2001.
In the 100 years since its founding, Scholl College has educated more than one-third of the nation’s podiatric physicians and continues to be at the forefront of podiatric medicine, research and interprofessional education.
An Interprofessional Commitment
The commitment to excellence that led to the founding of both CMS and Scholl College is echoed in the stories of RFUMS’s other schools: the College of Health Professions (CHP), the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (SGPS) and the College of Pharmacy. In fact, the University’s current stature as a model of interprofessional education began in 1967, when the University of Health Sciences was created and joined with CMS. This model was strengthened the following year, 1968, with the establishment of SGPS. And, at the forefront of the concept of the interprofessional health care team is CHP, which was modeling and teaching teamwork long before national and international commissions began calling for strategies to address issues including physician shortages, lack of accessibility and disparities in patient outcomes. Today, CHP is home to programs for future physician assistants, pathologists’ assistants, physical therapists, nurse anesthetists, nutritionists, psychologists, clinical counselors, health care administrators, and those pursuing interprofessional studies, to name a few. In 2011, RFUMS further enhanced the scope of its health sciences education programs with the creation of its newest school, the College of Pharmacy, and the arrival of its first class.
Today and Tomorrow
Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science stands as a tribute to its visionary early leaders, men and women who fought for an inclusive approach to medical education and advocated for acceptance of an emerging specialty. One hundred years later, this spirit continues to inspire its current leaders, faculty and students, who on a daily basis exhibit a strong commitment to excellence, interprofessional education and an innovative vision for the future.
RFUMS of 2012 reminds us that many of the obstacles faced by young people a century ago have been largely erased. But there are still challenges to address, especially the cost of education. To help ensure that worthy students are given the opportunity they deserve, the University, in commemoration of its 100th year, has embarked on a 5-year, $5 million campaign to increase support for scholarships and to help fulfill a commitment to invest in the educational future of tomorrow’s health care leaders. Two lead gifts have been received in support of this campaign.
The Dr. Scholl Foundation, established by Dr. William M. Scholl in 1947, has donated $1 million toward this effort. This gift will provide scholarships for students in RFUMS’s colleges for the next several years. In addition, during the Centennial celebration, the family of Rosalind Franklin announced a gift of $500,000 to the Centennial Scholarship Campaign. In making this gift, Martin Franklin underscored the importance of this gift in securing the University’s continued focus on innovation and interdisciplinary education.
Promoting Senior Health: Physical Therapy Student Aided by Schweitzer Fellowship Award
Nicole Oddo says she was raised in a home where health and fitness were valued. Now, as a second-year physical therapy student in the College of Health Professions, she is sharing those commitments with people in the community. A 2012 recipient of a Schweitzer Fellowship, Nicole has designed and implemented a program aimed at improving the health of underserved older adults in Waukegan, Illinois.
“I appreciate the role of regular screenings, diet and exercise in helping people get healthy,” she says. “When I heard about the Schweitzer Fellowship and its goals, I saw an opportunity to develop a program that could have an impact.” Named in honor of famed humanitarian and Nobel laureate Dr. Albert Schweitzer, the Chicago Area Schweitzer Fellows Program encourages service-minded health professions students to follow his mission to “make their lives their argument” by addressing the health challenges of people whose needs are not currently being met. Nicole proposed a multifaceted project that aims to improve the health and safety of seniors, especially those who have been inactive.
Her Balance Workshop combines fitness approaches and education to help seniors understand the importance of fall prevention, determine their level of risk and learn techniques to improve balance.
The other initiative is the Walk It Out program, aimed at encouraging senior participants to make walking a regular part of their efforts to be healthy. Both programs are being presented through a partnership with Waukegan’s Park Place Senior Center.
“In addition to the fitness programs, I am also presenting lectures on health-related issues such as nutrition and conditions common to seniors,” she says. “And, an important part of the program is its focus on bringing people together to promote a sense of community, friendship and mutual support. Preventing the isolation and loneliness that can plague our older adults is a central feature of this program.”
Through the Schweitzer Fellowship, Nicole is expected to provide at least 200 hours that address an unmet community need. And she must submit regular reports that detail the progress of her program. “I have identified goals and objectives, such as the number of steps I hope my ‘walkers’ will eventually complete,” she says.
Her fellowship also provides Nicole with a monetary award that will help with tuition costs. “I am so grateful,” she says. “The Schweitzer Fellowship has given me some financial support for my schooling at Rosalind Franklin University. But even more important, it has allowed me to create a program that can help people in our community. I feel very lucky.”
Making His Mark: Jeeten Singha Embraces Role as Student Leader
Jeeten Singha admits he had a singular motivation in seeking the office of vice president of social affairs for the Class of 2014, Dr. William M. Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine. “I knew that one of the main responsibilities of this position was to be in charge of the Dance for Diabetes,” he says. “I wanted that job!” Jeeten got his wish, with a position that also included organizing fundraisers, setting up class events and attending Student Council meetings. But he says the most exciting challenge was organizing the Dance for Diabetes, an annual event sponsored by Scholl students that raises money for the American Diabetes Association. “This year, our Dance would be the first event of the University’s Centennial year celebration,” he says. “And I planned to knock it out of the park!” The event, held in January at Chicago’s Drake Hotel, was attended by more than 500 guests. Through Jeeten’s efforts, and with strong support from students at all RFUMS schools, faculty, administration, staff and alumni, the event raised $28,000 — $21,000 for the ADA and another $7,000 for the University’s new Students Dedicated to Diabetes Research and Education Initiative. “We aimed to start our Centennial year with a night to remember, and we did,” Jeeten says.
Jeeten’s leadership of the Dance is just one of the ways this third-year student has made his mark since coming to Scholl. He is also active in a number of student professional organizations, including the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons Student Chapter, the American Podiatric Medical Student Association and the Illinois Podiatric Medical Student Association. He has also served as Chair of the Lake County Arthritis Walk and has volunteered for events such as Lollapalooza, the Chicago Marathon and the Ironman, Wisconsin.
He also serves as a Scholl Ambassador, a role he relishes. “I love having the opportunity to talk to prospective students about this wonderful college,” Jeeten says. His activities have also included outreach to the community’s young people. He served as President of INSPIRE, a student group that mentors and tutors at-risk students from Zion-Benton Township High School, in nearby Zion, Illinois. His efforts as a student leader have led to a number of awards and recognitions, including the RFUMS Student Leadership Award and Scholarship, the “You Rock” Student Leadership Award and Scholarship and the Scholl College Alumni Association Community Engagement Award.
Jeeten was also a nationally ranked junior tennis player, a passion he credits with his interest in podiatric medicine. “As an athlete, I was always aware of the importance of sports medicine,” he says. “As an undergraduate at Olivet Nazarene University, I got to know an inspirational podiatric physician, which contributed to my decision.” But Jeeten also attributes his choice of profession to the home where he and his identical twin, Seeten, grew up. “My mother and father are both in health-related fields and openly shared with us the joy and fulfillment of working in a profession where they could help people,” he says. “They are happy with their work and inspired me to follow in that direction. I know I’ve made the right choice.”
A Reminiscence: Rosalind Franklin’s Family Shares Their Memories
Three generations of the Franklin family joined the Centennial celebration.
During the Centennial celebration, three generations of the Franklin family traveled to Chicago to be present at the unveiling of the Dr. Rosalind Franklin Tribute Wall as well as a weekend of Centennial activities celebrating the University named in her honor. During this visit, Sir Roland Franklin and his wife, Lady Nina Franklin, took time to reflect on their memories of Rosalind.
“My sister was almost six years older than me, and I did not really get to know her well until I had finished my naval service in 1947,” he says. “I remember several holidays that we spent together walking up mountains in Wales, rambling in the Lake District and skiing in France. This last was a typically exciting excursion as neither of us could ski properly, but as mountains were there Rosalind had to climb them. We had a guide who was appalled when he realized after a few thousand feet of climbing we had no idea at all how to ski down. Fortunately, he was an expert guide, but said he had never before been so relieved to get clients down safely!
“I never went rock climbing with her but I understand she was a competent mountaineer,” he continues. “We played tennis quite a lot together. Dinner with her was never dull. She was all too likely to serve disgusting-looking toadstools, which any sensible but ignorant person like myself would never dream of eating. However, such was my reverence for my older sister that I always ate them and of course found that they were delicious.
“Rosalind got on very well with my wife, even though they had nothing whatsoever in common except strong characters. Once a week they used to go to the theatre together while I was trying to manage a boys’ club in the East End of London.
“I have to confess that neither I nor my brothers or sister appreciated for one moment how distinguished Rosalind was,” Sir Roland adds. “My father, who had studied science at University, probably did. The only person who really understood her importance and who knew nothing about science whatsoever was my wife.”
“At that time we didn’t yet know the meaning of her work,” says Lady Nina. “But I could see back then that she was special, and I told her so.”
“Rosalind was modest,” Sir Roland says. “She hardly ever talked about her work. She had an independent income and never used any of the money gifted to her by our parents. She never made a virtue of this. Her reluctance was principled but never advertised.
“When she became terminally ill she was only 35,” he continues. “She was unable to look after herself in her apartment and came to live with us. She was always good with children and they adored her. We had four at the time and I think they helped take her mind off her illness. She had extraordinary courage and while she was physically able to work or play tennis she did. When her pain was too great she returned to the hospital and then came back to us. She never made a fuss and never complained. At one time she told Nina what a pity it was that her life was going to be so short as she felt she was working at problems, the solution of which could materially improve the chances of survival of cancer victims.”
Lady Nina Franklin agrees about Rosalind’s strength during the time she was battling her disease. “She was very focused, even while fighting her illness,” she says. “When she was feeling good she kept on working, with the same purposeful approach she brought to everything she did.”
“I believe Rosalind would be astonished and delighted to know that RFUMS was named for her,” Sir Roland concludes. “The great honor conferred on Rosalind’s memory by the naming of this University is so appropriate in every way that it stands out far beyond all the other honors that have been so liberally bestowed upon her. She would have loved to have known that she had become a source of inspiration to so many students.”
University Receives Lead Gift for Centennial Scholarship Campaign
Each year, the University receives almost 10,000 applications for less than 800 admission slots. In some instances, students who have the drive and the aptitude to pursue a career in health care face difficult financial decisions as they try to balance existing student loans with other life circumstances. Giving these students the opportunities they deserve is critical, and as part of the University centennial celebration, Rosalind Franklin is embarking on a five-year, $5 million campaign to increase support for scholarships. Students with the talent and compassion to make a difference in the world of health care tomorrow need our commitment today.
We are pleased to announce that the University has received a lead gift of $1 million from the Dr. Scholl Foundation toward this effort. The Foundation, established by Dr. William M. Scholl in 1947, is a private, independent grant-making foundation for charitable purposes, and for many years has been extremely generous to Scholl College and Rosalind Franklin University. The Foundation’s gift will provide scholarships for the students in our colleges for the next several years. With this gift, the Dr. Scholl Foundation is challenging our supporters, alumni, faculty, staff and friends to donate an additional $250,000 during the 2012 Centennial Year. Alumni donations made towards the challenge will be utilized by the college from which the alumnus graduated, and the sooner we can meet the challenge, the sooner our students will benefit.
In addition to the generous support of the Dr. Scholl Foundation, the University Board of Trustees, President Welch, the deans, members of the President’s Cabinet and other donors have already made commitments to the campaign.
“We know that scholarships transform the student experience and provide opportunities for students with the aptitude and the desire to pursue a career in health care. Raising additional funds for scholarships will help the University to remain competitive with peer institutions, to attract and retain the highest caliber of students, and to maintain a diverse student body,” said Dr. K. Michael Welch, President and CEO.
Rosalind Franklin University has experienced tremendous growth in enrollment over the past five years, and has expanded its health sciences education to five graduate-level colleges and schools.
To learn more about the scholarship campaign and the students who have already benefited from donor generosity, please visit
Scholl Student Continues Legacy of Inspiration
Jessica Richason’s parents always stressed the importance of faith, hard work and service. “They were also great motivators,” she says. Now a third-year student at the Dr. William M. Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine, Jessica recalls how her parents raising their four children in Denver, Colorado, thought successful role models were important. “My dad used to drive me by the home of a well-respected African-American surgeon and say, ‘See, Jessica, that could be you someday.’”
Motivation, along with her academic success and career ambitions, eventually led Jessica to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where she received her bachelor of science degree from Southern University. She then went to the DeBakey Institute at Texas A&M University in College Station, where she conducted graduate biomedical engineering research on the Pallid bat wing. “I got a taste of research, which I liked, and firmed up my resolve to pursue health care.”
Her objectives next took Jessica to the University of Memphis, where she received a master’s in health administration. “While I was in Memphis, I also shadowed and assisted some physicians in the hopes of solidifying my plans to go to medical school,” she says. “It was in this environment that I decided that podiatric medicine was the best fit. I applied to Scholl and was thrilled to be accepted.”
Jessica adds that in her first year at Scholl, she embraced the chance to be involved in the community. “Volunteering at events including the Kids Ist Health Fair, Chicago Marathon, Avon Breast Cancer Walk and Midwest Podiatry Conference deepened my passion for my chosen profession,” she says.
The commitment and hard work that has fueled Jessica’s educational path earned her the Geppner-Turnbow Minority Scholarship, an award given to a student who reflects the values and ideals of the Dr. William M. Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine. “The financial support helps, and the award reminds me of the goals I have set for myself once I complete my education,” she says. “I hope to one day work in a hospital setting, using all of my experience and education to improve care for patients.”
Jessica also understands the influence she may have. “I am proud of the choices I have made and hope to give back, to inspire others like myself to set a goal and work hard to reach it. Maybe someday a child will look at Dr. Jessica Richason and think, ‘That could be me.’”
Intervention Strategies in Social Medicine
In November 2011, Ateequr Rahman, PhD, MBA, RPh, joined the College of Pharmacy as associate professor of pharmacy practice, bringing with him his passion for providing quality care to the medically underserved, and enhancing the public health perspective of the college’s curriculum. Dr. Rahman has worked extensively on rural health issues and has studied how the underserved population is affected by health disparities, focusing on the socioeconomic conditions that impact access to care.
Dr. Rahman earned his PhD in pharmacy administration with a focus on pharmacoeconomics and outcomes research from the University of Louisiana at Monroe. Previously, he had obtained a master’s degree in business administration with a focus on health economics from Northeast Louisiana University. Rosalind Franklin University presented unique opportunities for him – the chance to be part of a new college, grow along with it and help shape its future.
He also knew he could make a difference in Lake County, Illinois, a diverse community with marked health disparities and where his research experience translated well.
His research in the areas of diabetes management and fall prevention has looked at how infrastructure affects access to services and influences the health of a community. By designing appropriate intervention strategies, nurses and case managers are able to educate patients on simple but important things, such as using the right test strips with glucometers, and are able to fall-proof homes by customizing bathrooms or recommending the installation of carpeting to provide more traction. “The intervention strategies have a measurable effect on patient health and outcomes,” Dr. Rahman said. “You can never assume that everyone has the same basic understanding of the little things they can do to help manage their conditions and improve their health.”
Dr. Rahman’s passion for pharmacists’ unique abilities to impact patient health is evident. “Whether it’s by counseling patients on their medication therapy or teaching them how to use a medical device, our students must always remain cognizant that they are in a position to empower patients to be their own advocate.”
Since joining Rosalind Franklin University, Dr. Rahman has sought out various organizations that offer care to low-income residents and has discussed the potential of developing partnerships. Dr. Rahman will also play a critical role in pharmacy student development by lending his expertise in support of student organizations. Specifically, the college is in the process of starting a student club, made possible thanks to a generous gift from Walgreens, which will celebrate diversity in pharmacy, both from the perspective of student development and community outreach.
Lisa Zenni Joins the University’s Board of Trustees
Recently, Lisa W. Zenni, a Lake Bluff resident who is active in a variety of community and philanthropic causes, joined the University’s Board of Trustees. She comes to us with an admirable history of service to our community.
Currently, Mrs. Zenni is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Allendale Association, a private, not-for-profit organization located in Lake Villa, Illinois, that provides social services and advocates for troubled children, youth and their families. She is a member of the Allendale Shelter Club, which provides fundraising support to Allendale Association and through its efforts has become the Association’s largest donor, and is actively involved in the strategy and the management of the school.
Mrs. Zenni’s other charitable causes include the Equestrian Connection, a therapeutic riding center located in Lake Forest, Illinois, that provides critical programs for individuals with special needs. Additionally, Mrs. Zenni was a longtime member of the Parent Board of the Lake Forest Country Day School, and was the recipient of the Bondy Hodgkins Award in 2007 for outstanding accomplishment and service.
She and her husband have supported numerous children’s causes and have provided scholarships for local high school and college students in Lebanon. Mrs. Zenni was a founding supporter of Millennium Park in downtown Chicago.
Prior to being involved in philanthropy and community service, Mrs. Zenni was employed by Merrill, Lynch & Co. Inc. at the Chicago Board of Trade.
Centennial Celebration: 100 Years of Life in Discovery
A striking, two-story image of Dr. Rosalind Franklin on the wall of the Morningstar Interprofessional Education Center was dedicated to her memory, including a permanent installation highlighting her life and work, on Thursday, September 6, 2012, as the University kicked off its Centennial Weekend.
Honored guests at the Centennial Salute and Tribute to Dr. Rosalind Franklin included three generations of the Franklin family: Dr. Franklin's brother, Sir Roland Franklin and his wife, Lady Nina; Dr. Franklin's nephews, Martin Franklin and his wife, Julie, and Jonathan Franklin and his wife, Jennifer; University Trustee Rosalind Franklin Jekowsky and her daughter, Stephanie. The ceremony was capped off with the announcement of a $500,000 gift to the Centennial Scholarship Campaign from Dr. Franklin's family. Also joining the celebration were members of the University's Board of Trustees, elected officials, community leaders, academic partners and alumni, as well as faculty, staff, and students.
The significance of adopting Dr. Franklin's name for the University in 2004 was explained by Shannon Liu, MS '11, CMS '15, President of the Executive Student Council. “The students and faculty wanted a story to tell about their school - one that would be compelling, one that would speak to a quality medical education, one that would inspire. Dr. Franklin was a brilliant scientist who demonstrated an unwavering commitment to her life's work- she sets an example for our community of students, faculty, staff, and researchers to pursue excellence with courage and humility."
University President and CEO K. Michael Welch, MB, ChB, FRCP, also spoke of similarities between the determined researcher and the University, in particular, her refusal to accept the status quo. “Like her, we are pioneers, striving to find new ways to meet the health care challenges of tomorrow,” said Dr. Welch. “Like her, we are tenacious. We will continue to challenge and replace archaic systems that inhibit the delivery of care. We will continue to work to break down barriers to the education needed to supply highly skilled clinicians to every corner of the country, thereby ensuring that every man, woman, and child in this great nation can get the health care they deserve.”
“Our family is deeply touched by this tribute,” said Martin Franklin, Dr. Franklin’s nephew. “We too are proud of this institution’s rich history and the tremendous growth it has enjoyed since it aligned itself with the identity of our beloved sister and aunt…. We appreciate the faithfulness with which the University has stewarded her story and spirit.”
Connecting Research to Life
It's not a stretch to say that Barbara Vertel, PhD, Professor of Cell Biology and Anatomy at Chicago Medical School, sees connections in everything around her. Having studied cell biology as it relates to cartilage and connective tissue, she welcomed the opportunity at Rosalind Franklin to see how her research related to human diseases and medicine. Finding new and unexpected connections between one field of study and another is the main reason she is so enthusiastic about the Molecular and Cellular Sciences Seminar Series.
“The series really evolved from my longstanding interest in cell biology combined with the interests of my colleagues strongly focused on molecular biology, and the fact that my intellectual life is fueled by going outside of my area to learn what is relevant in other fields,” Dr. Vertel explains. “I believe in minimizing boundaries and promoting collaboration and interaction.”
Dr. Vertel's own career followed a similar path. When she started out, she was comfortable studying cells through light and electron microscopy. “I am a very visual person,” she notes. But over time, from exposure to and collaboration with colleagues in different fields, she came to appreciate a more multidisciplinary approach to problems. She began to wonder how her studies of chickens – and the discovery of a mutation in aggregan (a cartilage proteoglycan) that causes dwarfism through a mechanism of cellular quality control - might be applicable to human diseases as well. “This discovery had a profound effect on me,” she explains. “One of the reasons I came to Rosalind Franklin was for the opportunity to collaborate and learn from colleagues with completely different expertise who might offer some insight into my specific research areas, and vice versa. From the beginning, my participation in team-taught courses here allowed me to contribute my knowledge of cell and developmental biology and expand it into the realms of human biology and disease.”
To encourage this kind of interdisciplinary learning, every year the Molecular and Cellular Sciences Seminar Series features one speaker invited by faculty from each of the basic science departments and one speaker invited by the graduate students. The series includes the Werner Straus Memorial Seminar, in honor of an esteemed faculty member who passed away in 2003. The speakers are highly esteemed thinkers, cutting-edge researchers, and leaders in their fields; some have even been Nobel Prize winners, such as John Walker (Chemistry) and Giinter Blobel (Physiology/Medicine).
Meet Student Researcher and Scholarship Recipient Jessica Minder
Jessica Minder wants to do it all. A student researcher and scholarship recipient at the Center for Lower Extremity Ambulatory Research (CLEAR) at the Dr. William M. Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine, Jessica is nearing the completion of her core rotations. She dreams of continuing her research after graduation in 2013 while carrying a large patient load in her own practice. “I just want to keep learning,”she laughs,“and that's the great part about seeing patients-you never see the same thing twice."
Her interest in podiatric medicine started at an early age. “My mother was a diabetic educator and dietitian. She taught me about the importance of podiatric care in the diabetic population,"says Jessica. “Then I spent time working in public health with underserved populations in New Mexico where there was a high incidence of diabetes. I saw firsthand how important podiatric care is. Plus,”she adds,“I was also interested in surgery and trauma care, and podiatry combines them all."
Why did Jessica end up at Scholl College at Rosalind Franklin University? Three reasons:“First, the legacy of the Scholl name. So many practicing clinicians have graduated from here; it has such a good reputation and a wonderful alumni network. Second, I liked the interprofessional aspect of taking classes with students going into other professions. And third, Scholl gave me the greatest opportunity to do research as a student. Rosalind Franklin just has more and better research resources than most other colleges."
Jessica has taken full advantage of those resources, garnering many awards and accolades, including the Gold Prize in the student/resident abstract competition at the American Podiatric Medical Association's scientific meeting in 2011. Jessica's detailed poster on the safety and efficacy of mild compression (18-25 mmHg) therapy in diabetic patients with edema in their lower extremities has also been presented at several other forums and meetings. “While further research is needed,”says Jessica,“in our five-week study, we did not find any danger of using mild compression on diabetic patients."
Jessica was also named Student of the Year by the Illinois Podiatric Medical Students' Association in 2012, which comes as no surprise to those who know her. “The amazing thing about Jessica,”says Dr. Stephanie Wu, DPM, Director of CLEAR and Jessica's advisor,“is her dedication to and focus on everything she does, and how she makes it all look so easy."
Kids 1st: 20 Years of Helping Children
On August 1, the Kids 1st Health Fair reached its 20th year of providing free health screenings to local families. Rosalind Franklin University has been an early supporter of this event and has worked in partnership with the Lake County Health Department/Community Health Center and the United Way of Lake County to offer these critical services.
The fair began in 1993 to help children from low-income families in Lake County receive required health services in time for school enrollment deadlines. Today, hundreds of Rosalind Franklin University volunteers provide health screenings, foot and shoe assessments, and nutrition recommendations for families. In addition, physical therapy professionals are on hand to analyze the impact a student's backpack has on their gait and make necessary adjustment for better weight distribution. This year, more than 1,000 children received these much-needed services.
Kids 1st Health Fair is made possible through the steadfast dedication of its supporters, donors, in-kind contributors, and community volunteers. We thank the Abbott Fund for their major funding support and the Chicago Dental Society Foundation, Baxter International Inc, First Bank of Highland Park, NorthShore University HealthSystem/Highland Park Hospital, Sharon Doney, Gurnee Sam's Club (Wal-Mart Foundation), and Baxter Healthcare for their contributions.
"Kids 1st allows our students to see the impact of health care and how, by working together as a team, physicians, physical therapists, physician assistants, and other providers can best deliver care to the families who need us most,”said Dr. K. Michael Welch, President and CEO of Rosalind Franklin University.
Friedman Visits Campus
To better understand the challenges in education today, Rosalind Franklin University is co-hosting a speaker series on the state of education in America and its effect on global competitiveness and human potential. The first speaker, invited by the Gorter Family Foundation, North Chicago Community Partners, Advance Illinois and Trinity International University, was Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Thomas Friedman. He spoke to an audience of more than 700 people and shared that employers are looking for team members who possess critical thinking and problem-solving skills, “people who can invent, re-invent, and re-energize” their jobs while they’re performing them. To see Mr. Friedman’s entire presentation, visit www.youtube.com/rosalindfranklinu.
Alumna Creates Scholarship Opportunities
Beginning in the 2012-13 academic year, the Chicago Medical School will award the Israel and Bella Finkel Scholarships. These scholarships were created through a bequest made by Dr. Marion Finkel, CMS ’52, in honor of her parents. As part of the Centennial Scholarship Campaign, these scholarships will make a significant impact for several students over the four years of medical school.
After graduating from the Chicago Medical School in 1952, Dr. Finkel went on to have a very successful career. She completed a rotating residency at the Jersey City Medical Center and internal medicine residencies at Cumberland Hospital and Bellevue Hospital in New York. Dr. Finkel worked at the Food and Drug Administration for 22 years, holding several key positions including Director of the Office of Orphan Products Development. Following her career at the FDA, Dr. Finkel worked with Berlex Laboratories, now a part of Bayer HealthCare. She received many federal awards including a presidential award, public health service awards, and FDA awards. Dr. Finkel passed away in June 2011.
Dr. Finkel embodied Rosalind Franklin University’s core values of excellence and innovation, and was awarded the CMS Distinguished Alumni Award in 1997. She has further distinguished herself through her generous gift.
Even if you weren’t able to join us for Centennial Weekend, you can still be part of the celebration. Visit our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/rfums to see photo albums of the weekend’s activities and see what our alumni, faculty, and current students are sharing online. By visiting www.rosalindfranklin.edu/centennial/aspx, you can share your memories and reconnect with your classmates.