November 2012 Newsletter

Department of Medicine eNewsletter
November 2012
:: Interview
:: Department News
:: Department Events
:: Leadership Council Minutes
Super Doctors
The following faculty were recognized as "Super Doctors" by their peers and independent research of Key Professional Media. Our physicians have been identified as those who have attended a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement; only 5% of physicians within a state or region make it to the Super Doctors list.

Cardiovascular Medicine
Mauricio Arruda, MD Marco Costa, MD
Barry Effron, MD
James Fang, MD
Judith Mackall, MD
Jose Ortiz, MD
Daniel Simon, MD
Bruce Stambler, MD



Ajay Sood, MD



Amitabh Chak, MD
Fabio Cominelli, MD
Ashley Faulx, MD
Pierre Gholam, MD
Gerard Isenberg, MD
Jeffry Katz, MD
Anthony Post, MD


Hematology/Oncology Brenda Cooper, MD
Clark Distelhorst, MD
Afshin Dowlati, MD
Stanton Gerson, MD
Joseph Gibbons, MD
Hillard Lazarus, MD
Sanford Markowitz, MD
Neal Meropol, MD
Alvin Schmaier, MD
Paula Silverman, MD


Infectious Diseases and HIV Medicine

Keith Armitage, MD
David Bobak, MD
Robert Bonomo, MD
Barbara Gripshover, MD
John Johnson, MD
Robert Salata, MD
Usha Stiefel, MD


Nephrology and Hypertention

Bruce Berger, MD
Donald Hricik, MD
Thomas Knauss, MD
Lavinia Negrea, MD
Mahboob Rahman, MD
Michael Smith, MD
Jay Wish, MD


Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine

Rana Hejal, MD
Reena Mehra, MD



Ali Askari, MD


Congratulations to our faculty for their hard work and dedication!


Leadership Council
November, 2012

Chair ::

R. Walsh


Present ::

B. Arafah

K. Armitage

P. Blumleve

R. Chandra

F. Cominelli

F. Creighton

C. Hoppel

T. Hostetter

D. Hricik

M. Jain

N. Meropol

R. Salata

K. Strohl

R. Walsh
J. Wright


Recorded by ::
A. Staruch
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department interview

Dr. Marcos DeLima, a new Director of the Stem Cell Transplant Program, shares his views on treating an educated patient, effective translational research, and the division's role in advancing the treatments of hematologic malignancies.


You have recently become the Director of the Stem Cell Transplant Program. What is your long-term vision for the expansion of the program? What are some of the immediate steps you are taking to achieve your vision?


First of all, I am very happy to have moved here from Texas. I have found a very skilled workforce, and all the infrastructure we need to grow safely. The expertise and environment of caring is just extraordinary. The cornerstone of my plan is around innovative clinical trials in hematologic malignancies and stem cell transplantation. Our patients are more educated given the widespread access to the internet, for example, and are more able to choose and look for innovation. We deal with a spectrum of diseases for which there is no defined standard of care, and it has been shown by multiple investigators that well-thought, well-planned clinical trials actually lead to improved outcomes in this scenario. Therefore, in order to grow the Stem Cell Transplant Program, firstly, we need to capitalize on the strengths that are already in place. At UHCMC we have outstanding facilities and expertise on cell therapy that can be used more effectively to develop and investigate new technologies.


Secondly, we need to put the minds of physician-scientists together in order to develop such innovative therapies through cross-functional research. Bringing basic researches closer to the bedside is in the best interest of the patients and researchers themselves, since it provides important feedback regarding the applicability of research. Therefore, we have to grow the program by capitalizing on scientific facilities that are already in place, effective interaction and collaboration among physicians and scientists to develop newer treatments that can be translated to more cures.



Could you share your perspectives on the future of the BMT? What are some of the key drugs and therapies that are currently being developed?

The current focus of the field is on increasing the pool of donors so that more patients can receive treatment. Several patients cannot receive a bone marrow transplant because they lack a perfect genetic match. This issue is especially acute for patients from certain ethnicities like African Americans and Asians, which are not only underrepresented in the registries, but also have intrinsic genetic heterogeneity that decreases the odds of finding a good match. An example of an attempt to address this issue is the use of umbilical cord blood. This source of blood stem cells allows a transplant with more mismatches, leading to an enlarged donor pool. The major caveat is the relative small number of cells for transplantation of adults. We are investigating if ex-vivo expansion/growth of umbilical cord blood cells prior to transplant will improve the outcomes for adults. If successful, this strategy will improve access to this type of treatment to minority patients.


In addition, scientists are concentrating on improving patient tolerance of donor cells. The idea is to increase tolerance through immune system manipulation without relying on chemotherapy. Scientists are also trying to achieve this by developing engineered cells and vaccines as well as closely studying cancer cells to understand the way cancer works. The ultimate goal is to develop therapies that have high long-term sustainability and cause minimal side effects to patients.



What role does Hematology/Oncology Division play in the development of new therapies and advancing treatments of hematologic malignancies? Could you tell us about new clinical trials currently taking place in the division?

There are a number of outstanding individuals that are performing cutting-edge clinical research at the Division of Hematology and Oncology and School of Medicine. One example is the Adult Sickle Cell Disease Program led by Dr. Jane Little that concentrates on preventing, treating, and reversing the damaging effects of sickle cell disease. Graft-versus-host-disease (GVHD), a frequent complication of allogeneic transplants, is intensively under investigation by a team led by Dr. Ken Cooke at Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital. Another example of upcoming innovative clinical trials facilitated by the division is a collaboration between Drs. Paolo Caimi and David Mansur to develop a new way of administering a combination of chemotherapy and radiation therapy prior to allogeneic transplant. This approach will employ total marrow radiation, by using a targeted way to deliver radiation that is expected to dramatically reduce toxicity of the transplant.



You have concentrated your research on stem cell transplantation for treatment of acute and chronic leukemias. What potential do you see for translational research and multi-disciplinary collaborations within the School of Medicine?


The cure for cancer will have to come from multiple modalities and multiple interventions. This will require collaborative research to reach new heights. Currently we are in the process of initiating collaborations with the Center of Regenerative Medicine, the Division of Infectious Diseases, the Radiation Therapy group and several others in basic research, to name a few.

department news report

Division of Cardiovascular Medicine

Brandy Atkins, MDDr. Brandon Atkins joined the Internal Medicine Residency Program as a new Associate Director.











The division earned The Joint Commission's Gold Seal of Approval® for its In-Patient and Out-Patient Heart Failure Program by demonstrating compliance with The Joint Commission's national standards for health care quality and safety in disease-specific care. The certification award recognizes the division's dedication to continuous compliance with The Joint Commission's state-of-the-art standards. Dr. James Fang, medical director of the Advanced Heart Failure Program, stated that achieving Joint Commission certification in Heart Failure is essential for maintaining excellence and continually improving the quality of care.


Dr. Mukesh Jain received the 2012 Established Investigator Award in the amount of $400,000 from the American Heart Association. The award is given to investigators with unusual promise and established record of accomplishment; only 15 grants were awarded nationally. Dr. Jain will concentrate on investigating circadian mechanisms controlling cardiac gene expression and function by studying the intersection of inflammation, metabolism, and the cardiovascular system. His project is entitled "Circadian Control of Cardiac Biology."

Dr. Jain's research has consistently shown outstanding results. His recent publication in the Journal of Clinical Investigation entitled "Endothelial Kruppel-like factor 4 protects against atherothrombosis in mice" identified a genetic factor that prevents blockages from forming in blood vessels. This finding could lead to the development of new treatments for cardiac diseases.




Division of Clinical and Molecular Endocrinology


Dr. Armand Krikorian and Dr. Keith Armitage gave a presentation at the Academic Alliance for Internal Medicine workshop entitled "Teaching Patient Satisfaction: How to Satisfy Both Your Hospital and the ACGME".










Division of General Internal Medicine and Geriatrics

Dr. Debra Leizman received the 2012 Ohio Chapter of the American College of Physicians' Master Teacher Award that recognizes professionals who have exemplified excellence in teaching medical students, residents and peers.










Division of Hematology and Oncology

Dr. Basem William was the co-author of chapter entitled "Follicular Lymphoma: Recent Advances" in a recently published book "Hematologic Cancers: From Molecular Pathobiology to Targeted Therapeutics".








Dr. Cheng-Kui Qu was invited to serve as the Executive Editor-in-Chief for American Journal of Stem Cells. Dr. Qu will also be moderating the Molecular Pharmacology session at the upcoming 54th American Society of Hematology meeting.

In addition, Dr. Qu's work entitled "Critical Role of the Gab2/PI3K/mTOR Pathway in the Pathogenesis of Ptpn11 (Shp2) mutation-induced Myeloprolifertive Disease" received the Abstract Achievement Award from the American Society of Hematology. Dr. Qu also published another noteworthy paper in Cancer Research, his article was entitled "Protein Tyrosine Phosphatase Shp2 (Ptpn11) plays an important role in maintenance of chromosome stability."




Division of Infectious Diseases and HIV Medicine

Dr. Keith Armitage became the Chair Elect of the Organization of Program Directors Association that is part of the Council on Medical Specialty Societies. CMSS was created to provide an independent forum for the discussion by medical specialists of issues of national interest and mutual concern.
In addition, Dr. Armitage gave a presentation entitled "Learners in Need: Principles of Diagnosis and Remediation" at the Academic Alliance for Internal Medicine meeting.


Amanda Healan was awarded a $15,000 grant from StartingPoint in partnership with St. Martin de Porres Family Center and Cleveland Catholic Charities. This award will be used for Peer Educator stipends, partial salary support for ID Alliance staff, and for field trips for the Peer Educators. Peer Educators are high school students who received summer training in STI prevention and have been developing PSAs for middle school students while facilitating sessions for youth groups in the Cleveland area. Through the partnership reinforced by this award, Peer Educators will be facilitating sessions about sexual health and STI prevention as part of regular after school programming at St. Martin de Porres. In addition, Amanda Healan published an article entitled "Stability of colistimethate sodium in aqueous solution" in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.

Marion S. Skalweit, PhD, MD

Dr. Marion Skalweit was awarded a VA Research and Education Foundation grant in the amount of $25,000 for a project entitled "Mutations in Acinetobacter beta-lactamases enhance sulfone susceptibility".








Division of Nephrology and Hypertension


Dr. Joshua Augustine accepted the position of the Director of the Transplant Nephrology Training Program that was recently recertified by the American Society of Transplantation.





department conferences & events

Medicine Grand Rounds

Location: Kulas Auditorium

Time: 12:00 - 1:00 p.m.

  • December 4 - "New Managment Strategies for Diabetes Mellitus: Medications and Beyond" by Ajay Sood, MD, Division of Endocrinology
  • December 11 - "Medical Benefits of Acupuncture" by Anisha Durve, Licensed Acupuncturist, UH Connor Integrative Medicine Network, Ahuja Medical Center
  • December 18 - "How Palliative Care Can Help Patients and Decrease 30-Day Hospital Readmissions" by Charles Wellman, MD, FAAHPM, Hospice of the Western Reserve
An Event at Cleveland Racquet Club
The evening will include brief presentations and open discussions on novel therapies for treatment of peripheral arterial disease and hypertension.
Date: Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Time: 6:00 - 8:30 p.m.
Location: Cleveland Racquet Club, 29825 Chagrin Blvd, Pepper Pike, OH 44124
To RSVP contact Lori Hammer, RN, BSN via email or call 216-983-4719
department leadership council minutes

Leadership CouncilDr. Walsh introduced Mr. Peter Brumleve, Chief Marketing Officer for University Hospitals. Mr. Brumleve discussed the goals of the Marketing Department including increasing market share, strengthening the University Hospitals brand, formulating a strategic plan, establishing measurements, credibility, efficiency and effectiveness. In 2013 he plans to focus on the following: physician outreach with a new Physician Liaison Office, market research and development, service line and regional marketing and investment in digital communications. Dr. Walsh thanked Mr. Brumleve for his presentation.


Leadership Council

Dr. Walsh announced a special session of the Leadership Council on the topic of Clinical Integration Strategies between UHMG and UHMP. Key leadership from UHMP will be in attendance including Dr. David Cogan.


Leadership Council

Data regarding referrals by division and service lines was discussed.




Leadership CouncilDr. Walsh thanked the members of the Council for their cooperation with the 2013 budget and for their continued participation in the Intern Recruitment process.


5Dr. Salata announced that the Department of Medicine Quality Summit was a great success with 370 participants.