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News – Dec 2016

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Courtney Joins Baptist Health Medical Group Neurology

LEXINGTON Tre Courtney, MD, has joined Baptist Health Medical Group Neurology at Baptist Health Lexington. Courtney earned a medical degree from the University of North Carolina. He completed an internship and residency at the University of Kentucky Albert B. Chandler Medical Center. He is a diplomat of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and is a member of the American Board of Medical Specialties.

ZBousamra Joins Baptist Health Floyd

NEW ALBANY, IND. Baptist Health Floyd is proud to welcome Michael Bousamra II, MD, to its growing Baptist Health Medical Group network. Bousamra, a board certified thoracic surgeon and director of thoracic surgery for Baptist Health Floyd, is perhaps most recognized for his extensive background and renowned research in the detection of lung cancer by breath analysis.

A team of developers created a silicon microchip that selectively traps cancer specific aldehydes and ketones from one’s breath. From a single breath, these compounds are concentrated on the microchip and analyzed. When three or four markers are elevated, cancer is highly likely. Bousamra currently leads a medical team focused on this continued research endeavor.

In addition to his commitment to providing quality patient care and continuing research focused on the detection of lung cancer, Bousamra also specializes in the following clinical areas: esophageal cancer, benign esophageal disorders, minimally invasive surgery and lung cancer surgery. Bousamra joins Dr. Robert Linker and Dr. Jonathan Kraut in serving the chest surgical needs of Kentuckiana within the Baptist Health System.

Bousamra received his medical degree from the University of Michigan Medical School and completed his residency in general surgery at the Medical College of Virginia Hospital in Richmond. He completed his cardiothoracic residency Washington University Medical Center in St. Louis. Bousamra is a member of the American Association for Thoracic Surgery and the Society of Thoracic Surgeons and was named the 2009 Brown Cancer Center Scientist of the Year for his metabolomic research. He received the 2012 Cardiothoracic Award of Excellence from the American Board of Cardiology and has been recognized multiple times as a “Top Doc” in Louisville Magazine.

Schapmire to Lead World’s Largest Oncology Social Work Group

LOUISVILLE A University of Louisville faculty member has been tapped for leadership roles with the world’s largest organization of professionals who provide psychosocial services to people with cancer and their families and caregivers.

Tara Schapmire, PhD, has been elected president of the Association of Oncology Social Work. Her three-year term begins in January 2017 with one year as president-elect, followed by one year as president and the final year as past president.

Schapmire is an assistant professor at the University of Louisville School of Medicine in the Division of General Internal Medicine, Palliative Care and Medical Education of the Department of Medicine. She also is on the faculty of the Kent School of Social Work.

As a long-time oncology and palliative care social worker, Schapmire’s research interests include psychosocial care of cancer survivors and their families, gerontology, health disparities, communication and cancer, caregiver issues, palliative care, survivorship, end of life care, and interprofessional education.

Harkema, Angeli, and Rejc Win Grant to Develop Tethered Pelvic Assist Device

LOUISVILLE Spinal cord injury researchers at the University of Louisville pioneered activity-based interventions that have helped individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI) improve mobility. The addition of epidural stimulation to the lumbosacral spinal cord has allowed individuals with SCI to stand without assistance. Susan Harkema, PhD, who leads this research at U of L, Claudia Angeli, PhD, Enrico Rejc, PhD, and Sunil Agrawal, PhD, an engineer at Columbia University, have won a $5 million grant to develop a robotic device that will aid individuals with SCI further by helping them regain balance. The Tethered Pelvic Assist Device (TPAD) will provide stimulation and feedback to aid in the recovery of balance, and will be integrated with activity-based training and epidural stimulation research at U of L.

Harkema, Angeli, and Rejc, faculty members in the Department of Neurological Surgery at UofL, are working with Agrawal, professor of mechanical engineering and of rehabilitation and regenerative medicine at Columbia Engineering, to develop TPAD. Agrawal specializes in the development of novel robotic devices and interfaces that help patients retrain their movements.

The project has won a five-year, $5 million grant from the New York State Spinal Cord Injury Board. The project also includes Joel Stein, chair of the Department of Rehabilitation and Regenerative Medicine, and Ferne Pomerantz, MD, assistant professor in that department at Columbia University Medical Center.

TPAD is a wearable, lightweight cable-driven device that can be programmed to provide motion cues to the pelvis and corrective forces to stabilize it. It consists of a pelvic belt with multiple cables connected to motors, a real-time motion capture system, and a real-time controller to regulate the tensions in the cables. The U of L researchers will incorporate the device into the training of SCI patients during standing.

“Our stand and step training, combined with epidural stimulation, have shown success in enabling individuals with SCI regain the ability to stand. We hope the integration of the TPAD device will help these individuals with balance, further improving their functional ability and quality of life,” said Harkema, who also is director of research at Frazier Rehab Institute, part of KentuckyOne Health.

In their work with the Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center (KSCIRC), the U of L researchers have studied the effects of stand and step training along with epidural stimulation in adults with spinal cord injury. Epidural stimulation involves surgically implanting an electrode array over the lower spinal cord to activate the neural circuits.

Markey Cancer Center Launches Molecular Tumor Board

LEXINGTON The University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center recently launched its own Molecular Tumor Board, an approach to cancer care that uses genetic analysis to help oncologists choose cancer therapies tailored to each patient’s individual needs. The Molecular Tumor Board is the latest precision medicine initiative to come online at Markey.

“Oncology is now more genetic-based, whereas before it was based upon tumor types,” said Dr. Mark Evers, director of the UK Markey Cancer Center. “Through understanding the genetic makeup of our patients and their tumors, we can then help to direct their therapy.”

The Molecular Tumor Board is co-directed by clinical pharmacologist Jill Kolesar, PharmD, who recently joined Markey and the UK College of Pharmacy after starting a similar initiative at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Markey gynecologic oncologist Dr. Rachel Miller.

Currently, clinical trials often target tumors with certain molecular or genetic characteristics, then search for patients with tumors that matched those criteria — like looking for a needle in a haystack. The information gleaned by the Molecular Tumor Board will instead allow researchers to develop clinical trials targeted to the needs of the patients Markey treats; in other words, it means starting with the needle, rather than the haystack.

Here’s how the Tumor Board process will work at Markey: when a patient undergoes a biopsy, the physician may choose to request a Molecular Tumor Board review of that case. The patient’s tissue will then be sent to UK’s in-house pathology lab for genetic type testing. Using technology known as Next Generation Sequencing, pathologists will run tests to compare the patient’s genes against a panel of 198 gene mutations that are associated with all types of cancer – 94 are for blood cancers and an additional 104 are added for solid tumors.

Once the sequencing is complete, the final report – containing the findings of any possible gene mutations – is sent to Molecular Tumor Board members. The report will be evaluated for three types of potential care: FDA-approved therapies for that patient’s cancer type, FDA-approved therapies in another tumor type (colloquially known as “off-label use”), and potential clinical trials.

The Tumor Board itself comprises a vast array of experts across both the UK medical and academic campuses, including oncologists, hematologists, surgeons, pharmacists, pathologists, biostaticians, basic scientists, and epidemiologists who meet on a regular basis to discuss each individual case together in person. Each brings their own expertise to discuss the available options and ultimately make a recommendation for the best course of care for that patient.