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April 12, 2013
Table of contents
UW scientists advance knowledge of aging process
Our understanding of the treatment and prevention of disease has advanced significantly as a result of the efforts of outstanding medical research. Worldwide, these advances are resulting in longer lives. A research area of vital importance is refining our understanding of the aging process. UW Medicine has a strong team of researchers working in this critical area, led by Matt Kaeberlein, associate professor of pathology, and his colleagues. With more comprehensive knowledge of the aging process, it may be possible to delay aging and the diseases that accompany the aging process.
The research in Kaeberlein’s lab focuses on understanding evolutionarily conserved mechanisms of aging using a combination of molecular, genetic, and biochemical approaches. The rationale behind this approach is that if a particular gene or pathway regulates aging in evolutionarily divergent model organisms, there is a very good chance the gene will have a similar function in humans. By targeting such conserved longevity factors, it may be possible to develop therapies that simultaneously delay the onset and progression of multiple age-related diseases.
Simon Johnson, graduate student in pathology, Peter Rabinovitch, professor of pathology, and Matt Kaeberlein (photo, left) recently authored a review article in Nature on inhibition of mTOR, a protein that controls cell growth, to modulate aging and age-related disease. Inhibition of this pathway extends lifespan in model organisms and confers protection against a growing number of age-related pathologies. Characterized inhibitors of this pathway have been clinically approved, and others are under development. Although adverse side effects currently preclude their use in otherwise healthy individuals, drugs that target the mTOR pathway have the potential in the future to slow aging and reduce age-related diseases in humans.
Kaeberlein and his colleagues are also studying the mechanisms by which dietary restriction can slow aging and reduce age-related disease. One focus of this research centers on improving protein homeostasis. Several age-associated neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease and Huntington’s disease, are caused by loss of protein homeostasis due to misfolding and aggregation of a toxic protein, and Kaeberlein’s work has shown that dietary restriction can have a potent protective effect in animal models of these diseases.
Kaeberlein recently was awarded funding from The Murdock Trust to purchase a Copas Biosort that will be a centerpiece of the Invertebrate Longevity and Healthspan Core. This is part of a larger initiative to establish the UW Healthy Aging and Longevity (HALo) Research Institute. The primary goal of the Institute is to promote scientific research and public policy that will enhance healthy aging and longevity. The Biosort will be used by a variety of UW faculty to study basic mechanisms of aging and other biological processes using the nematode C. elegans as a model system. The Biosort will facilitate high-throughput assays to identify and characterize novel interventions that promote healthy aging.
I would like to congratulate Matt Kaeberlein and his colleagues for their groundbreaking work in an area that will assume increasing importance in coming years.
Paul G. Ramsey, M.D.
UW Medicine and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center have recruited world-renowned neurosurgeon and brain cancer researcher Eric Holland to establish world-class research programs on brain and other solid-tumor cancers. He will leave Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City and arrive in Seattle this summer.
At UW Medicine, Holland will be a professor of neurological surgery, hold the Chap and Eve Alvord and Elias Alvord Chair in Neuro-oncology, and direct the Nancy and Buster Alvord Brain Tumor Center, established in 2009 to promote, develop and coordinate interdisciplinary brain tumor care and research among physicians and scientists in a variety of fields.
One of Holland’s priorities will be to recruit a team of internationally recognized brain cancer investigators to implement the vision of the late Ellsworth “Buster” Alvord, former head of neuropathology in the UW Department of Pathology and a Seattle philanthropist. Alvord and his family funded five endowed chairs in five different UW Medicine departments to create a multidisciplinary brain cancer research center.
“Eric Holland is exceptionally well qualified to lead the Alvord Brain Tumor Center, and I am confident that he will recruit outstanding researchers and clinicians to establish the Alvord Center as the best in the world,” said Paul G. Ramsey, CEO of UW Medicine and dean of the UW School of Medicine. “Under Dr. Holland’s leadership, we will be able to fulfill the vision for brain cancer research and clinical care established by Buster Alvord when he and his family made their extraordinarily generous commitment to establish the Alvord Center. I am delighted to welcome Eric Holland to UW Medicine.”
At Fred Hutchinson, where Holland’s research laboratory will be based, he will be senior vice president and director of the Human Biology Division, an interdisciplinary program that encourages collaboration among faculty with a broad range of expertise—from molecular and cellular biology to genetics and clinical research.
Read more in UW Today.
New genetic factors that predispose to schizophrenia have been uncovered in five families with several affected relatives. The psychiatric disorder can disrupt thinking, feeling, and acting, and blur the border between reality and imagination.
Debby W. Tsuang, UW professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, and Marshall S. Horwitz, UW professor of pathology, led the multi-institutional study. Tsuang is also a staff physician at the Puget Sound Veterans Administration Health Care System. The results are published in the April 3 online edition of JAMA Psychiatry.
Loss of brain nerve cell integrity occurs in schizophrenia, but scientists have not worked out the details of when and how this happens. In all five families in the present study, the researchers found rare variants in genes tied to the networking of certain signal receptors on nerve cells distributed throughout the brain. These N-methyl-D-aspartate, or NMDA, receptors are widespread molecular control towers in the brain. They regulate the release of chemical messages that influence the strength of brain cell connections and the ongoing remodeling of the networks.
These receptors respond to glutamate, one of the most common nerve-signaling chemicals in the brain, and they are also found on brain circuits that manage dopamine release. Dopamine is a nerve signal associated with reward-seeking, movement and emotions. Deficits in glutamate and dopamine function have both been implicated in schizophrenia but most of the medications that have been developed to treat schizophrenia have targeted dopamine receptors.
Tsuang and her groups’ discovery of gene variations that disturb N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor networking functions supports the hypothesis that decreased NMDA receptor-mediated nerve-signal transmissions contributes to some cases of schizophrenia.
Read more in UW Today.
The following article was adapted from an article by Catherine Britain published in News & Views, a publication of the Northwest Regional Telehealth Resource Center.
Rural providers can be uncomfortable when treating patients with chronic pain. The UW Division of Pain Medicine wants to help change that. They offer weekly TelePain services using a panel of interprofessional specialists who are experts in the management of challenging chronic pain problems.
David Tauben, interim chief of the Division of Pain Medicine and medical director of UW Center for Pain Relief (photo, left), serves as the clinical lead for UW TelePain. Tauben states that limited training and expertise of community providers in pain medicine has led to poor patient outcomes and limited access to specialists, a problem detailed by the 2011 US Institute of Medicine report on pain care in America (more than 33,000 people with chronic pain for every specialist) and highlighted by Washington state’s 2012 opioid prescribing rules that require pain specialty consultations for high dose and high risk patients.
UW Medicine telehealth program has been providing UW Telepain video-conferencing to support community providers (both primary and specialty) in the management of complex and challenging chronic pain problems since 2006 as part of a telehealth project funded HRSA’s Office for the Advancement of Telehealth. The project was designed to serve American Indian and Alaska Native communities. With funding from the National Institutes of Health, the program was expanded to include rural hospitals and clinics. In 2011, the program merged with a new collaboration between the UW Division of Pain Medicine and Project ECHO (Extension for Community Health Outcomes) at the University of Mexico, sharing the mission "to develop the capacity to safely and effectively treat chronic, common, and complex diseses in rural and underserved areas, and to monitor outcomes of this treatment."
Read the entire article in News & Views.
The UW Medical Center/Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (UWMC/SCCA) Anticoagulation Services Program has been designated a Center of Excellence by the Anticoagulation Forum, a multidisciplinary, nonprofit organization of healthcare professionals dedicated to improving the quality of care for patients taking antithrombotic medications.
The two-year Anticoagulation Center of Excellence designation is awarded to programs that provide the highest level of comprehensive care and achieve the best possible outcomes for patients on antithrombotic medications.
UWMC/SCCA Anticoagulation Services Program met all criteria related to the five pillars that are assessed, including drug therapy management, disease state management, transition and coordination of care, service operational performance, and patient/family education.
The web-based Centers of Excellence program offers a roadmap to achieving consistent, sustainable excellence in patient care through three essential components:
Read more about the Anticoagulation Forum Centers of Excellence.
Daniel Lessler, UW professor of medicine in the Division of General Internal Medicine (photo, right), has been selected as the new Chief Medical Officer for the state’s Medicaid Program and Public Employees Benefits, starting May 13.
Stephan Fihn, UW professor of medicine and chief of the Division of General Internal Medicine, said "Dan Lessler has been a faculty member in the division for two decades. During that time he has distinguished himself as a superb clinician, devoted teacher and innovative health services investigator. His most unique accomplishments, however, have been as a leader and advocate for delivering healthcare to vulnerable and underserved people.”
Lessler’s administrative roles have included directing the Adult Medicine Clinic at Harborview Medical Center and serving as senior associate medical director at Harborview. On the national stage, he has been widely recognized for developing creative solutions that enable safety net hospitals to better serve vulnerable and underserved patients. In his new position, Lessler will be involved in enhancing and expanding the Medicare Program as part of the Affordable Care Act.
“There is no one better suited for this responsibility,” Fihn said. “We are grateful for his manifold contributions to UW and look forward to working with him in his new role."
Six UW health sciences students have been named 2010 Magnuson Scholars, one of the highest awards given by the University. Alan Kwan, School of Medicine; Sunniva Zaratkiewicz, School of Nursing; William Canestaro, School of Pharmacy; Cynthia Curl, School of Public Health; Charles Hoy-Ellis, School of Social Work; and Emily Chu, School of Dentistry receive the honor this year.
Each year the University names six Magnuson Scholars, one from each of the six UW health sciences schools. The scholars are selected by their deans on the basis of their academic performance and their potential contributions to research in the health sciences.
The Magnuson Scholars program was established in the name of the late U.S. Sen. Warren G. Magnuson (photo, left), who was committed to improving the nation’s health through biomedical research. He was instrumental in establishing the National Institutes of Health, Medicare and Medicaid during his long career in the United States Senate.
This year’s Magnuson Scholars are:
Learn more about the 2013-2014 Magnuson Scholars online.
Pediatric residents from Seattle Children’s Hospital have been completing rotations at Peninsula Children’s Clinic since 1980, when the clinic started with four residents doing two-month rotations. Since then, 378 pediatric residents have rotated through Peninsula Children's Clinic and Olympic Memorial Hospital, gaining the type of experience and knowledge the WWAMI program aims to deliver.
One resident writes of his experience at Port Angeles, "It is so encouraging to see that there is life after residency. The doctors all have families and outside interests and have set up their practice to make time for them. The teaching was superb, and you are allowed to act as a full member of the group, not an apprentice...advice and or help was always there for the asking."
Those who foster this unique learning experience by precepting students and residents in Port Angeles are medical community members and leaders of their communities. One person who has played a significant role in the robust activities in Port Angeles is family physician Rob Epstein. Epstein has been spearheading the Port Angeles WWAMI rotations since early in his career. Epstein joined the Family Medicine Port Angeles (FMPA) group in 2001, upon completion of his residency at Spokane Family Medicine. Soon after Epstein arrived in Port Angeles, medical students began going to Port Angeles for their summer Rural Underserved Opportunities Program (R/UOP). In 2008, under the guidance of regional assistant clinical deans Deb Harper and John McCarthy, Port Angeles became the first WWAMI Rural Integrated Training Experience (WRITE) site in Western Washington, receiving its first WRITE student in 2010. Port Angeles also subsequently became one of four Targeted Rural and Underserved Track (TRUST sites in Western Washington.
For this expansion, Epstein credits several doctors in his clinic, as well as others who gave their time and effort to teaching. Contributors include Mike Maxwell, Chris Frank, Rienera Sivesind, Kate Weller and Stan Garlick, each from FMPA, and Bill Hobbs (IM), Jeff Weller (Peds), Scott Kennedy (Family Medicine), Sandra Tatro (Surgery), Josh Jones (Psychiatry), and Tom Locke, Clallam County health officer.
When asked about the reasons for all his own hard work, Epstein states, “I really enjoy it. I enjoy working with the students and building a community around the educational process.” He also strongly believes this process will improve the long-term recruitment and retention of health care providers in the Port Angeles area.
Epstein has ambitious plans for further expanding educational opportunities in Port Angeles. He hopes to form a relationship with the MEDEX program to start training physician assistant students in the community. In addition, he dreams of eventually developing a Rural Training Track, where family medicine residents would spend the R1 year in Seattle at a tertiary care hospital and then R2 and R3 years in Port Angeles at Olympic Medical Center. Epstein realizes this will take hard work and years to develop, but he finds the idea of being able to train students and trainees from medical school through residency in his community worth every effort.
Lily Peacock is a polar bear expert who spent four years in the remote Inuit village of Igloolik in the territory of Nunavut, Canada, researching the territory’s bear population. Her wildlife biologist colleagues were shocked when she announced her intent to leave her job as a polar bear researcher and return to the classroom to become a physician.
“People said to me, ‘You have the best job in the world—you work with polar bears and you’re really successful at what you do,” Lily says. But she didn’t decide to leave her job because she didn’t like it; she wanted to do something different with her life. “I was in a job that I liked 95 percent of the time, but I want a job that I like 110 percent of the time,” she says.
Peacock, who holds a doctoral degree in ecology, evolution and conservation biology from the University of Nevada, Reno, is a first-year medical student in the WWAMI medical education program in Alaska.
Her experience living and working in remote villages has magnified for her the desperate need of medical professionals among underserved populations. “It became very apparent to me that serving these populations would be a job I’d enjoy doing,” she says. Already a scientist, Lily decided it was time to shift her focus to medicine.
To Lily, working in medicine is the perfect combination of mind and heart. “Doctors understand science, but they also show compassion,” she says. “Compassion wasn’t a part of my scientific work—that element is really appealing to me in a profession. In medicine, you can choose to make an impact every day with individual patients.”
Lily Peacock’s journey from polar bear expert to medical student is featured in the Student Spotlight section of the University of Alaska Anchorage Green & Gold newsletter.
The following events may be of interest to the UW Medicine community:
UW Medicine GME Research Day, April 13
First annual multi-specialty UW Medicine GME Research Day, 8 a.m. to noon, Saturday, April 13, South Lake Union, Orion Smith Auditorium. The event, hosted by the Office of Graduate Medical Education, will showcase projects from UW GME residents and fellows in basic sciences, translational or clinical research through presentations or posters. Cash research awards, ranging from $1,000 to $5,000, will be given for the top presentations. Contact Shawn Banta at firstname.lastname@example.org or 206.616.8286 for more information.
2013 Walk to fight MS, April 14
2013 Walk MS, Sunday, April 14, sponsored by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. The annual event supports life-changing programs and research for the 12,000 people living with MS in our community. Sign up as a walker or make a donation on the UW Medicine Multiple Sclerosis Center Team website. The four-mile walk follows the Burke-Gilman Trail from the UW campus to Gas Works Park. On-site registration begins at 9 a.m. at UW Lot E18. Each participant will also receive a UW Medicine T-shirt. For more information, contact Kelly Bender at 206.598.3894 or email@example.com
Washington Global Health Alliance Discovery Lecture, April 17
Malaria Today: Challenges and Opportunities, 2:30 to 3:30 p.m., Wednesday, April 17, Health Sciences Building, Room K-069. Robert Newman, director of the Global Malaria Programme at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, will give the lecture. Newman, a pediatrician, received his medical degree from Johns Hopkins University and a master’s in public health from the UW. He is a clinical associate professor in the Department of Global Health at the UW. A reception follows the lecture from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. in the Rotunda Café. Learn more about the WGHA Discovery Series online. For more information contact Ashlee Choi at firstname.lastname@example.org or 206.685.7362.
11th Annual Alvord Lecture in Neuropathology, April 17
Neuropathology of the Dystroglycanopathies: Muscular Dystrophy, Developmental Brain Abnormalities and Peripheral Neuropathy, 4:30 p.m., Wednesday, April 17, UW Health Sciences Building, Room T-739. Steven Moore, professor of pathology at the University of Iowa, will speak. This special lecture is in memory of the life and scientific legacy of Ellsworth C. Alvord, professor and chief of UW Medicine Neuropathology. For more information, visit the UW Medicine Pathology website or contact Steve Berard at 206.685.0564 or email@example.com.
Rabinowitz Symposium in Medical Ethics, April 19
Whose Medicine, Whose Care? Troubling Inequities in the Migration of Health, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday, April 19, at the UW South Campus Center, Room 316. The UW Department of Philosophy and the Program on Values in Society presents an interdisciplinary symposium on the differences and inequities in the global circulation of medical expertise and caregiving labor. Register online. Contact Sara Goering, UW associate professor of philosophy, for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the UW Department of Philosophy website.
Party beCause benefit for RotaCare Free Clinic, April 19
The second annual party beCause this year benefits the RotaCare Free Clinic, 7 p.m., Friday, April 19, UW Center for Urban Horticulture, 3501 NE 41st St., Seattle. The event will raise funds to support RotaCare’s mission of providing free medical care to underserved and uninsured individuals in the Seattle area. Party beCause features an evening of music, dinner, and live and silent auctions. All proceeds from the event will be given directly to provide vital funding to support RotaCare's mission. Tickets are $60 ($30 for students) and include live music, catered dinner and one drink from the bar. Purchase tickets online. The event is sponsored by the UW School of Medicine's Student Health Initiative for Access, Medical Student Association, Health Equity Circle, and Party beCAUSE Planning Committee.
Palliative Care Center of Excellence to host community forums, April 27 & 29
The new UW Palliative Care Center of Excellence is inviting community members to help shape its future programs. The center, which launched in October, will hold its first community forums Saturday, April 27 at 2 p.m., at the UW Center for Urban Horticulture, 3501 NE 41st St., Seattle, and at 6 p.m., Monday, April 29 at the Dumas Bay Centre, 3200 SW Dash Point Road, in Federal Way. Members of the public will have an opportunity to share their experiences coping with serious illness, and to learn more about the Center. For more information and to RSVP to the community forums, contact the Palliative Care Center of Excellence at email@example.com or 206.744.5412. Read more about the forums on the Center’s website.
Center for Medical Education Feedback Summit, April 30
Feedback Summit, 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 30, UW South Campus Center, Room 316. The UW School of Medicine Center for Medical Education will host a half-day faculty development session and celebration of the new center. The Feedback Summit will provide a forum for discussion and dissemination of best practices in providing feedback to students, residents, fellows and peers. Presenters will include Heidi Combs, assistant professor of psychiatry & behavioral sciences; Eileen Klein, professor of pediatrics and emergency medicine; Patricia Kritek, associate professor of medicine, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine; Daniel Lin, professor of urology; and Sherilyn Smith, professor of pediatrics. Register online. For more information, contact Michael Ryan, center director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or Sara Kim, associate director, at email@example.com. Read more about the new Center for Medical Education in the Jan. 18 Online News.
The Brotman and Ragen Awards: Nominations due May 6
The UW Medicine Board is calling for nominations for two awards: the 2013 Brotman Leadership Award and the 2013 Ragen Volunteer Service Award, named after UW Medicine advocates Jeffrey H. Brotman and Brooks G. Ragen. The Brotman Award recognizes visionary philanthropic leadership, while the Ragen Award recognizes outstanding service from volunteers, faculty and staff. Nominations are due Monday, May 6. If you have questions, please contact Lynn Hogan, chief advancement officer at UW Medicine, at 206.543.6865 or firstname.lastname@example.org. (Please note: current UW Medicine Board members are not eligible to receive these awards.)
22nd Annual Visiting Scholar in Cardiothoracic Surgery Lecture, May 10
A New Paradigm in Transplantation: Personalized Medicine for the Organ, 3:30 to 4:30 p.m., Friday, May 10, Health Sciences Building, Room K-069. Shaf Keshavjee, director of the Toronto Lung Transplant Program and surgeon in chief of the University Health Network, University of Toronto, will speak. The lecture is presented by the UW Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery. Reception follows. Contact Kelsey Hobbs at email@example.com or 206.543.3093.
Continuing Medical Education
Visit Continuing Medical Education for information on upcoming classes.
Spring UW Medicine magazine available online
The spring issue of UW Medicine. Read about the new UW Palliative Care Center of Excellence, which is taking care of people at the most vulnerable times in their lives, and take a look at the story on ENCODE, the ground-breaking study that is mapping the living genome. You can also learn about two UW Medicine alumnae who are fighting human trafficking and fighting for women’s health, the development of an artificial pancreas for diabetes patients, a student who wants to bring equity in health treatment to her community and much, much more.
UW Medicine health and wellness initiative on the air and online
UW Medicine’s new multi-media health and wellness initiative provides consumers with health and wellness information and the latest treatments and medical breakthroughs at UW Medicine. Look for regular television and radio spots on Fisher Communication’s KOMO News, KOMO News Radio and STAR 101.5 featuring UW Medicine experts and patients. A new dedicated website, UW Medicine Health, features timely news items, features and columns about health and wellness, medical research advances and patient stories. For more information, contact UW Medicine Strategic Marketing & Communications at 206.543.3620.
UW Medicine Brand Resources website (UW NetID required)