January 2017 Newsletter

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Department of Medicine eNewsletter
January 2017
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department interview
Sanjay Rajagopalan, MD, Division Chief of Cardiovascular Medicine, gave an overview of his vision for the division's growth, highlighted the cardiovascular services he is planning to introduce in the community and shared his views on effective leadership.

You joined the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine as Division Chief this past fall. What would you like to accomplish within your first year of leadership?

My primary goals are centered around the mission statement of University Hospitals. Clinically, I want to ensure the division accomplishes key metrics of clinical excellence, expands health care services, and grows the geographical reach of cardiovascular services. As for the research focus, the division has clearly excelled under the leadership of Daniel Simon, MD, and Mukesh Jain, MD; and I am eager to begin a new chapter of research growth in the division, including securing a broad range of translational research projects that connect basic science with clinical care and effectively bridge the gap between clinical protocols, innovative equipment, and departmental resources. In order to effectively reach the clinical and research goals, it is essential to integrate breakthrough technology with world-class talent. I would therefore like to put in place the mechanisms that will help the division secure future growth by identifying promising talent. This goal of identifying the best individuals certainly coincides with the vision for our educational programs as we look to improve the next echelon of fellows and research trainees. I also look forward to attracting talented fellowship applicants across the country who have the potential to become not only inquisitive scientific leaders, but also dedicated faculty members and serve as role models for the next generation of trainees. We want to attract physicians who can set a new bar for professional growth and demonstrate continued clinical success, inspiring our medical students, residents and fellows.

What is your plan for reaching key clinical metrics and demonstrating high productivity while avoiding faculty burnout?

I believe the answer lies in finding ways to be more efficient as a system as well as identifying promising technological solutions that help physicians stay productive so that they can focus on the quality of care. As our faculty work on improving the bottom line of the health system, some of the resources should be reinvested back into the people to reengage them in the hospital's mission. We need to ensure we streamline our operations and deliver quality care at a lower cost; as we optimize our operations, we have to reinvest funds into meaningful endeavors benefitting our faculty members. The health care system should concentrate on creating new resources that can be plowed immediately back to grow it further.

What services are you looking to introduce in the near future in our community?

I am a big believer in approaches that help integrate specialties together. To illustrate that, I cannot think of a better example than imaging, as it helps guide intervention, diagnosis and treatment. A big opportunity lies in advanced imaging as CT and MR technologies have evolved to become fundamental and mainstream; my goal is to apply novel imaging technologies for better diagnosis and treatment of our patients today. By making these services available here and eventually throughout the system, we will solidify our position as the state-of-the-art center for cardiovascular care in Ohio and indeed nationally.

What opportunities for partnerships have you identified within the Department of Medicine so far?

I can think of opportunities for partnership with every division to maximize our strengths and provide a new level of clinical care in the community. We would like to enhance the partnership with the Division of Endocrinology to help create a Center for Diabetes focused on addressing cardiovascular problems of patients suffering from diabetes. As the most common cause of mortality in diabetes is cardiovascular disease, we want to not only be able to consistently provide better care and effective treatment approaches, but also be on the forefront of leading-edge clinical trials, using newer therapeutics and next-generation wearable technologies.

We can leverage our imaging expertise to advance our relationship with the Division of Rheumatology, optimizing the management of psoriasis, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis, which all have cardiovascular complications. I look forward to strengthening our relationship with the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine as I believe the next generation of critical care cardiologists should not only be well-versed in managing cardiovascular complications, but also be skilled intensivists. In addition, understanding the overlap among air pollution, environmental agents and their effects on lungs and heart is growing to be increasingly important.

Also, as our colleagues in the Division of Gastroenterology continue to lead discoveries in inflammatory bowel disease, we want to establish common clinical and research programs where we can harness treatments and discoveries in patients with ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease for better understanding of cardiovascular disorders. The recent revolution in gut microbiome and its potential impact on the treatment of cardiovascular disorders is immense.

Currently we have a robust onco-cardiology program. As cancer therapies have cardiovascular toxicity, we need to identify cardiovascular risk early. This is becoming increasingly possible with the help of advanced imaging. Finally, we cannot overlook the importance of influencing global health through a partnership with the Division of Infectious Diseases & HIV Medicine that has a long history of international collaboration. We are all witnessing new developments in pharmacology and medical devices pushing physicians to work more closely together, uniting their efforts to seek optimal health care management for patients. I believe the next generation of cardiovascular physicians should be trained to act globally. My hope is to leverage the department's strengths for collaboration, while effectively expanding our research portfolio and creating international opportunities for discovery and growth.

With such ambitious goals ahead of you, what leadership strategy are you looking to employ to unite and energize your faculty members?

I am a strong believer that change, progress and improvement are possible through the meaningful involvement of faculty. My leadership style relies on involving people in decision-making to ensure they are responsible for their actions. Our faculty members understand their areas of expertise best, so I see my role as empowering faculty members to make the best decisions they need to make. By providing ownership and responsibility, I hope we can re-energize and reconnect faculty members under the mission statement of the institution. I believe that once you set up the necessary mechanism to ensure faculty members are successful and trust them to make the right decisions, it is inspiring for them to see the impact they are making. As the famous Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said about leadership: "A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves."

department news report
Division of Cardiovascular Medicine
Mukesh Jain, MD, was awarded a prestigious Outstanding Investigator Awards from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to support his breakthrough work. The highly competitive award is the largest individual support grant from the NIH and provides funding to investigators with outstanding records of productivity in research by ensuring extended funding stability and encouraging investigators to continue to embark on projects of noteworthy potential. Dr. Jain is internationally known as a though leader in cardiovascular medicine, he has made significant contributions to the field by identifying a family of proteins known as Kruppel-like factors (KLFs) that regulate critical aspects of heart, blood vessel, and immune cell biology. Dr. Jain's recent work expands on his previous findings and suggests that KLFs control lifespan and general health. The $ 6.65 million award will support Dr. Jain's future work in examining ways KLFs influence aging and the affect KLF manipulation has on regulating cardiovascular health and age-associated diseases.



Division of Hematology & Oncology
Sanford Markowitz, MD, PhD, received a $6.65 million NCI Outstanding Investigator Award. Dr. Markowitz has a long history of significant scientific breakthroughs in identifying key genetics causes of colon cancer and developing molecular tests for early detection of the disease. Some of his notable discoveries include identifying colon cancer tumor suppressor genes, TGF-beta RII and 15-PGDH, well as developing a test for the detection of colon cancer through stool DNA. The $6.7 million grant Dr. Markowitz received will be used to further advance his work in developing novel methods and drugs for early detection, prevention and treatment of colon cancer.

Reshmi Parameswaran, MD
, received a $30,000 award from the Children's Leukemia Research Foundation to support his research project titled "Novel Therapeutic Strategies for Pediatric Leukemia Using Natural Killer Cells." Dr. Parameswaran's research project focuses on understanding the mechanisms leading to national killer (NK) dysfunction in leukemia patients and identifying factors responsible for NK cell exhaustion, maximizing the survival and proliferation of NK cells in patients.

Evi Stavrou, MD, developed ClotChip, a new device for rapid assessment of blood clotting with dielectric spectroscopy using a single drop of blood. The device was presented at the American Society of Hematology Annual Meeting and Exposition and showed detailed and accurate results in sensitivity for diagnosis of a coagulation defect as well as low false-negative results. The device has the potential to become a point-of-care coagulation testing.




Division of Infectious Diseases & HIV Medicine
Federico Perez, MD, was appointed to the Infectious Diseases Training program Directors' Committee of the Infectious Diseases Society of America.




Puja Van Epps, MD,
received a $40,000 grant from HIV, Hepatitis, and Related Conditions (HHRC) Office of Patient Care Services for her project titled "Predict-Prioritize-Prevent." Dr. Van Epps' work details a novel clinical tool to predict neurocognitive impairment, prioritize panel management, and prevent adverse health outcomes in HIV+ veterans. The overall goal of the research project is to pilot an innovative process, using a novel clinical prediction tool, to identify HIV+ veterans at risk for neurocognitive impairment and needs-based targeted intervention aimed at improving medication management.
In addition, HHRC Office of Patient Care Services awarded $10,000 to Dr. Van Epps for her work on multi-modal education intervention for primary care providers to improve HIV prevention in veterans. This research project focuses on educating primary care physicians in identifying veterans at high risk for HIV acquisition and in the use of pre-expo prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV prevention.
department conferences & events
Grand Rounds
Time: 12 - 1 p.m.
Location: Kulas Auditorium

February 7
"Cell Therapy" by Hillard Lazarus, MD

February 14
"Acid Base Disturbances Affect Cardiovascular Risk" by Mirela Dobre, MD

February 21
"Special Considerations for Cancer in the Elderly" by Cynthia Owusu, MD

February 28
"New Options for Advanced Congestive Heart Failure: Devices and Drugs" by Michael Zacharias, DO

department reminders
Research Showcase 2017
Date: Friday, April 21
Time: 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Location: Veale Convocation Center
Abstract Deadline: Sunday, February 5
Abstract Submission: Click here

Faculty Activity Summary Form
Due Date: February 15
Faculty EPortfolio Link: Click here

Outside Financial Interests Disclosure for Researchers
Instructions: Click here
department development & diversity
Medical-Legal Partnerships: Transforming Interprofesional Collaboration and Education
Date: Friday, February 10
Time: 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Location: Tinkham Veale University Center
Sponsor: Case Western Reserve University School of Law and the Law-Medicine Center
Audience: Faculty and staff interested in interprofessional education models and interdisciplinary collaboration

Annual Faculty Wine Tasting
Date: Friday, February 17
Time: 5:30 - 9:00 p.m.
Location: Thwing Center Hart Crane Reading Room
Sponsor: Case Western Reserve University Office of Faculty Development and the Newcomers Group
Audience: All interested Case Western Reserve University faculty members, their spouses/partners, and friends
Note: Cost $10/person; prepayment due by Friday, February 10th to Helen Day (216)368-1610

Quality Improvement
Date: Tuesday, February 21
Time: 8:00 - 9:00 a.m.
Location: Kulas Auditorium, Lakeside, UH Cleveland Medical Center
Speaker: Mamta Singh, MD, MS, Assistant Dean for Health Systems Science
Sponsor: Center for the Advancement of Medical Learning
Audience: Faculty and trainees interested in describing the history behind the quality movement, learning the core principles and methods of quality improvement as applied to one's environment, and identifying standard steps of implementing an improvement project

Power of Diversity
Date: Thursday, February 23
Time: 4:30 - 5:30 p.m.
Location: Wolstein Research Building Auditorium
Speaker: Beverly Daniel Tatum, PhD, Author of "Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?", Past President, Spelman College
Sponsor: Case Western Reserve University Office of Diversity and Inclusion
Audience: All faculty, trainees and staff interested in understanding and promoting a culture of diversity and inclusion in the workplace