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Medicine and Life Sciences

Neurology Professor Receives New American Headache Society Award

Dr. Gretchen Tietjen, Distinguished University Professor of Neurology, is the first recipient of the American Headache Society’s Women’s Health Science Award, which recognizes a researcher whose body of work has made an outstanding contribution to the understanding of topics related to women’s health and headache medicine.

The award was presented in November at the American Headache Society 2019 Scottsdale Headache Symposium. Tietjen also presented a lecture, “Migraine, Stroke and Toxic Stress,” that provided an overview of her research.

Tietjen

Tietjen joined the then Medical College of Ohio in 1996 and in 1997 was named chief of neurology, which at the time was a part of the Department of Medicine. In 1999, neurology became a stand-alone department and Tietjen was appointed the inaugural chair, a position she held until July 2019.

The American Headache Society has honored Tietjen with other research awards, including the Seymour Solomon Lecture Award (2008), the Harold G. Wolff Lecture Award (2011) and the John R. Graham Lecture Award (2017).

She also received the 2009 Stroke Innovation Award from the American Heart Association journal Stroke, as well as the 2011 University of Toledo Outstanding Faculty Research Award.

Tietjen is retiring from The University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences at the end of the year.

Submissions Sought for 2020 Health Science Campus Artist Showcase

Mulford Library is seeking submissions for its 15th Annual Health Science Campus Artist Showcase.

The deadline to apply for consideration to be included in the exhibition is Friday, Jan. 10.

The library is accepting submissions from UToledo faculty, staff and students in the health sciences — nursing, medicine, pharmacy and the health professions — as well as hospital employees.

To be considered for the show, digital images of artwork can be sent to hscartshow@utoledo.edu, along with a submission form that can be found with guidelines on the Health Science Campus Artist Showcase website.

In the past, the showcase has featured artwork in a variety of media, including photography, painting, drawing, sculpture, jewelry, quilting, multimedia, graphics, wood carving and more.

Artists will be notified by email if their work is accepted into the show by Wednesday, Jan. 15.

The showcase will be on display from Feb. 17 through April 8 on the fourth floor of Mulford Library.

Questions about the exhibit can be directed to Jodi Jameson, assistant professor and nursing librarian at Mulford Library, who is a member of the artist showcase committee, at 419.383.5152 or jodi.jameson@utoledo.edu.

Families Set to Celebrate Commencement Dec. 14

More than 2,000 students at The University of Toledo will graduate at commencement ceremonies Saturday, Dec. 14, in Savage Arena.

The University is holding two ceremonies to include both undergraduate and graduate students from each of the colleges.

A total of 2,070 degrees will be awarded: 1,474 bachelor’s degrees, 426 master’s degrees, 104 doctoral degrees, 41 associate’s degrees, 15 education specialist degrees and 10 graduate certificates.

The 9 a.m. ceremony will recognize all Ph.D. candidates and graduates from the colleges of Arts and Letters; Engineering; Judith Herb College of Education; Natural Sciences and Mathematics; and Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

The 1 p.m. ceremony will recognize undergraduate and graduate students receiving degrees from the colleges of Business and Innovation; Health and Human Services; Nursing; University College; and Medicine and Life Sciences.

Commencement is always a time to celebrate with family. Their support is critical to achieving success. For several students walking across the stage this year, family was literally at their side for the journey.

Lori and Jordan Boyer in 2001 and 2019

At 48 years old, Lori Boyer is set to take the stage and grasp her diploma on the same day as her son, Jordan.

Lori, a preschool teacher, started taking classes at UToledo in 1990, but stopped to raise her three children.

After returning in January to cross the finish line, the UToledo employee at the Early Learning Center is graduating from University College with a bachelor’s degree in an individualized program of early childhood education and educational leadership. Her son is graduating from the College of Engineering with a bachelor’s degree in computer science and engineering technology.

“I am proud to share this special moment with my oldest son,” Boyer said. “It’s important to me to prove to all of my children that you can accomplish anything no matter what point you are in life. I accomplished something I set out to do a long time ago, and it has the potential to take me in different directions in my career.”

Fall commencement also is a family affair for a brother-and-sister duo who worked side by side as undergraduates in the same exercise biology research lab.

Nicole and Dylan Sarieh

Dylan and Nicole Sarieh, two-thirds of a set of fraternal triplets, both chose to study exercise science as pre-med students in the College of Health and Human Services, while their brother studies business at UToledo.

Together, Dylan and Nicole researched the molecular regulation of skeletal muscle growth under the guidance of Dr. Thomas McLoughlin, associate professor in the School of Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences, in order to help clinicians develop ways to help patients grow stronger after suffering from muscle loss.

“The opportunity to do real, meaningful, hands-on work in the lab definitely built our confidence and opened our eyes to what is important,” Dylan said about his undergraduate research experience. “My sister and I both plan to next go to medical school. She wants to be a dermatologist, and I want to be a general physician.”

“Whether at home, in the classroom or in the lab, I always had someone I could lean on who was tackling the same challenges,” Nicole said. “Putting our two brains together — even during car rides — made a big difference in our success.”

For some graduates, they found love and are starting their own family.

McKenna Wirebaugh completed a co-op at the BP Whiting Refinery in Whiting, Ind. This photo shows Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline.

McKenna Wirebaugh, who is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, met her soon-to-be husband at UToledo. Both she and Travis Mang, her fiancé, will receive degrees Saturday.

Turns out, planning their upcoming wedding is the only item left on the to-do list. Wirebaugh secured a full-time job as a process engineer at BP’s Cherry Point Refinery in Blaine, Wash., located about 40 minutes south of Vancouver. She is scheduled to start her new job in March, about a month after her honeymoon.

“I chose to go to UToledo because of the mandatory co-op program in engineering,” Wirebaugh said. “It guaranteed I would have a paycheck while in school and build my resumé. I’m grateful for my decision because it ended up launching my career.”

Wirebaugh completed four co-op rotations with BP while at UToledo. She also helped build a water purification unit that was sent to Ecuador through the nonprofit organization Clean Water for the World.

Her favorite experience as a student in the Jesup Scott Honors College was a class focusing on creativity. For a group project on the dangers of cell-phone use, they brought in a PlayStation 2 system and challenged students to text and drive on Mario Kart without crashing.

“My professors have truly cared about me inside and outside of my academic career,” Wirebaugh said. “I don’t see the friendships I’ve made here ending anytime soon.”

In the event of inclement weather, the approximately two-hour commencement ceremonies will be moved to Sunday, Dec. 15.

For those unable to attend, the ceremonies will stream live at video.utoledo.edu.

For more information, go to the UToledo commencement website.

University Opens New Germ-Free Research Facility

The University of Toledo is expanding its microbiome research capabilities with the creation of a new germ-free laboratory that will provide unique opportunities for scientists investigating the link between gut bacteria and chronic conditions such as hypertension.

Researchers in the UToledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences have been at the forefront of innovative research that suggests the particular makeup of our individual gut bacteria has major implications on our health.

Doing the honors to mark the creation of a new germ-free laboratory on Health Science Campus were, from left, Scott Bechaz, associate director of the Department of Laboratory Animal Resources; Dr. Lisa Root, attending veterinarian and director of the Department of Laboratory Animal Resources; Dr. Matam Vijay-Kumar, director of the UToledo Microbiome Consortium; Dee Talmage, chair of Women & Philanthropy; Marja Dooner, chair of the Women & Philanthropy Grants Committee; Dr. Bina Joe, Distinguished University Professor and chair of the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology; and Dr. Christopher Cooper, dean of the College of Medicine and Life Sciences, and executive vice president for clinical affairs.

The research is particularly promising with relation to high blood pressure — so much so that the University has recognized the work among its spotlight areas of unique distinction.

“We have been working with available models asking as many research questions as we can. We are getting definitive links, but we haven’t yet found definitive answers for mechanisms,” said Dr. Bina Joe, Distinguished University Professor and chair of the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology. “It is our hope this new lab will help provide those answers and open avenues for new therapeutic methods.”

By studying germ-free animal models that completely lack microbiota, Joe and other UToledo researchers will seek to further their understanding of how the colonies of tiny organisms that call our bodies home benefit or harm human health.

The project received $65,000 in grant funding from Women & Philanthropy and matching funds from the College of Medicine and Life Sciences.

While germ-free models are used for a variety of research applications, UToledo’s lab will be one of the only academic sites in the country with germ-free rats, which Joe said more closely mimic human disease states.

Preliminary work on the new Women & Philanthropy Germ-Free Facility for Biomedical Research is underway, with the facility expected to be up and running in 2020 under the guidance of Dr. Matam Vijay-Kumar, director of the UToledo Microbiome Consortium.

“The Women & Philanthropy grant is what is fueling this. We’re extremely grateful for their investment,” Joe said. “I think they see the value in promoting a woman scientist, and they see the value in the technology. We at The University of Toledo want to remain the first to fully understand these links and mechanisms in order to develop new clinical approaches. Rather than taking pills and monitoring your blood pressure every day, you might eventually be monitoring your microbiota and transferring beneficial ones as needed.”

“Women & Philanthropy is proud to be a part of such critical research and cutting-edge technology here at The University of Toledo,” Dee Talmage, chair of Women & Philanthropy, said. “It is a pleasure to support this important medical research, particularly when it has such a national impact.”

Women & Philanthropy has allocated up to $65,000 for 2020 grants to be awarded next spring. Learn more on the Women & Philanthropy website.

College of Medicine and Life Sciences Launches Program That Introduces UToledo Research to Saudi Medical Students

A new program at The University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences that brings medical students from Saudi Arabia to UToledo for an intensive, six-week research program will look to expand next year.

Under the leadership of Dr. Alexzander Asea, professor of medicine, and Dr. Punit Kaur, associate director of the Precision Therapeutics Proteogenomics Diagnostics Center, five students from Alfaisal University College of Medicine in Riyadh spent a portion of their summer in Toledo getting experience in various biomolecular techniques.

Dr. Punit Kaur worked in the lab with medical students from Saudi Arabia.

Students also toured UToledo’s facilities and met Saudi-born faculty who shared their current research work and career path.

Unlike in the United States where getting into medical school requires an undergraduate degree, in Saudi Arabia and many other parts of the world, students enroll in medical school right out of high school.

“Because of that, they lack the lab experience and the experience of doing research, so it can really put them at a disadvantage,” Asea said. “We give them a hands-on look at how to analyze proteins in proteomics, how to look at DNA in genomics, and how to identify different cell lines in cell cultures. We think those are all things they are going to use in whatever specialty they ultimately choose.”

All of the projects the students engaged with were tied to colorectal cancer, which has become one of the most common forms of cancer in Saudi Arabia.

Dr. Alexzander Asea, left, talked with medical students from Saudi Arabia who visited UToledo during the summer.

Asea brought the idea to UToledo from Texas A&M, where he developed a similar program in 2010.

The students’ home university pays a stipend for each student who enrolls; this covers the costs of the program and provides additional resources for research equipment and supplies.

The program also helps to establish a pipeline between Saudi medical schools and UToledo. Kaur said all five students who participated in the 2019 program hope to eventually practice in the United States.

“We wanted to give them an opportunity to learn about The University of Toledo and see what a great institution this is,” Asea said. “When they finish their medical degrees and are looking for fellowships or residencies, we hope they come here because they know the faculty and institution. Our hope is this establishes a pipeline.”

Asea and Kaur are aiming to expand the program to include at least 30 students in 2020.

Drive to Collect Stuffed Animals, Books for UToledo Medical Center Patients

The Master of Science in Biomedical Science Volunteer Patient Advocate Assistants will hold a stuffed animal and book drive Tuesday through Thursday, Oct. 29 to 31, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in The University of Toledo Medical Center Four Seasons Bistro.

The volunteer student group works throughout The University of Toledo Medical Center, with much of their time spent in the Emergency Room. Students who see patients in the ER know that a stuffed animal can make a difference in a child’s experience while those that see patients throughout the medical center can attest to the joy and accompaniment a book can bring a patient throughout their care at the hospital.

Master of Science in Biomedical Science Volunteer Patient Advocate Assistants showed off some of the stuffed animals and books they collected during a previous drive.

“A stuffed animal or book can considerably calm a patient and help put their mind at ease. With these simple gestures, ER and hospital staff are able to provide the effective and compassionate care UTMC is known for,” said Jihad Aoun, a member of the Master of Science in Biomedical Science Volunteer Patient Advocate Assistants.

All stuffed animal donations must be new, and books of all reading levels should be new or gently used. Monetary donations also will be accepted. All proceeds will be used to purchase stuffed animals for pediatric patients in the UTMC Emergency Department. This is the third year for the program.

Many of the group’s members plan to attend medical school.

“As patient advocates, we aim to facilitate improved medical care by advocating for the patients we come in contact with,” said Mirlinda Elmazi, a Master of Science in Biomedical Science Volunteer Patient Advocate Assistant. “We do this by improving doctor-patient communication with explanations of complicated medical concepts in terms that patients can understand. We hope to leave the program with effective communications skills so that, as physicians, we are able to better communicate with our patients and provide them with the best possible care.”

Graduate and Professional Program Fair Slated for Oct. 30

Looking to advance your career? Want to learn more about continuing your education? Stop by the Graduate and Professional Program Fair Wednesday, Oct. 30.

The event will take place from 2 to 6 p.m. in the Thompson Student Union Auditorium.

Attendees can meet with representatives from colleges and programs; learn ways to fund graduate education; and start the graduate program application process.

On hand will be representatives from all UToledo colleges: Arts and Letters; Business and Innovation; Engineering; Health and Human Services; Judith Herb College of Education; Law; Medicine and Life Sciences; Natural Sciences and Mathematics; Nursing; Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences; Graduate Studies; Jesup Scott Honors College; and University College.

Go to the Graduate and Professional Program Fair website and register.

The first 100 to attend the event will receive an application fee waiver; J.D., M.D. and Pharm.D. applications not included.

For more information, email graduateinquiry@utoledo.edu.

Day of Giving College Events and Giving Stations

UToledo’s third annual Day of Giving will take place Tuesday and Wednesday, Oct. 15 and 16.

The 36-hour campaign, “Rocket Forward: You Launch Lives,” will begin at midnight Oct. 15 and end at noon Oct. 16.

Several events are planned Tuesday, Oct. 15:

Day of Giving Fall Festival — 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Centennial Mall

• Student organizations will host booths with games.

• The Rocket Marching Band and UToledo cheerleaders will perform.

• President Sharon L. Gaber will greet students from noon to 12:30 p.m.

• The festival also will offer a dog-petting station, corn hole games, a basketball contest, pie in the face, pumpkin bowling and pumpkin golf.

College of Business and Innovation — 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Savage & Associates Business Complex Second-Floor Atrium

• Giving station with ice cream.

Judith Herb College of Education — 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Gillham Hall

• Giving station with popcorn.

College of Health and Human Services — 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and Wednesday, Oct. 16, 8 to 10:30 a.m. in the Health and Human Services Building Atrium

• Giving station with popcorn, other snacks and prizes.

Jesup Scott Honors College — 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. outside MacKinnon Hall

• Giving station with snacks.

College of Law — 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the Law Center Patio

• Fall Fest hosted by the Student Bar Association: Donate to decorate mini-pumpkins; play corn hole, ring toss and horseshoes; and eat kettle corn, caramel apples and cider.

Student Recreation Center — 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

• Giving station; popcorn from 2 to 6 p.m.

University College — 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Wednesday, Oct. 16, 9 to 10:30 a.m. in Rocket Hall

• Giving station with popcorn, snacks, and a chance to spin the wheel to win prizes with a donation.

The University of Toledo Medical Center — starting at 9 a.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, Oct. 15 and 16, in the Four Seasons Bistro

• Giving station in the cafeteria.

Colleges of Nursing; Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences; and Medicine and Life Sciences — 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Collier Building Lobby

College of Nursing will host a Day of Giving party with a giving station, snacks, a pumpkin decorating contest, music and entertainment. President Sharon L. Gaber and Health Science Campus deans will be on hand for Day of Giving selfie photos with students, faculty and staff.

Give online at rocketforward.utoledo.edu Oct. 15-16 and share your UToledo story on social media at #RocketForward.

Hussain Lecture to Chart Transformation of Medical Science

The great Greek physician Galen of Pergamon was one of the most influential forces in medical history, with his theories informing the profession for centuries.

Unfortunately, many of Galen’s ideas were wrong.

“For nearly 2,000 years, we were practicing medicine like it was the Stone Age. There was nothing scientific about it,” said Dr. Syed Tasnim Raza, a cardiothoracic surgeon and associate professor of surgery at Columbia University Medical Center.

Tasnim Raza

Thankfully, real scientific discovery eventually won out, helping to lead medicine into the cutting-edge field it is today.

Tasnim Raza, who has spent the last decade studying the history of medicine after more than three decades as a heart surgeon in Buffalo, N.Y., will outline those radical changes at the 11th annual S. Amjad Hussain Visiting Lecture in the History of Medicine and Surgery Thursday, Oct. 17, at 5 p.m.

The free, public lecture will be held in Health Education Building Room 110 on Health Science Campus. RSVPs are requested; email hscevents@utoledo.edu or call 419.383.6300.

One of Galen’s primary mistakes was assuming the anatomy of animals he dissected was wholly applicable to humans. For 1,300 years, no one dared question him.

“The thinking was, ‘If Galen said it, it has to be true,’” said Tasnim Raza. “We need to have the strength to challenge conventional wisdom, dogma and current thinking to improve and continue to change.”

The S. Amjad Hussain Visiting Lecture in the History of Medicine and Surgery was created in honor of Hussain, professor emeritus of cardiovascular surgery and humanities, a former member of the UToledo Board of Trustees, and columnist for The Blade.

“Dr. Tasnim Raza has had a deep interest in the history of medicine and has just finished a book manuscript on the history of heart surgery. He is a man who is well-versed in not only the subject of surgery, but also in the arts and humanities,” Hussain said. “The study of the history of medicine is important because it shows us the distance we have covered and the path we have traversed to reach the present. History being a continuum, we cannot chart a future unless we know the past.”

In part, the lecture series helped further inspire Tasnim Raza’s interest in the history of medicine after he came to Toledo in 2013 to hear author Wendy Moore speak about her biography of the 18th-century Scottish physician Dr. John Hunter.

Tasnim Raza’s sister also has presented the Hussain lecture. Dr. Azra Raza, a well-known oncologist and cancer researcher, and Chan Soon-Shiong Professor of Medicine at the Columbia University Medical Center, visited Toledo in 2017.

Azra Raza will join Tasnim Raza in Toledo to kick off a book tour for her forthcoming title, “The First Cell: And the Human Costs of Pursuing Cancer to the Last.”

National Lab Day at UToledo to Fuel Region’s Engagement With Preeminent Scientists, World-Class Facilities

For the first time, The University of Toledo will host National Lab Day to connect students and researchers with scientists from U.S. Department of Energy national laboratories and explore opportunities for additional partnerships.

The event to enhance northwest Ohio’s collaborations to make discoveries, find innovative solutions, and create groundbreaking technology will take place Thursday and Friday, Oct. 10 and 11, on the University’s Main Campus.

“We are proud to welcome to our campus the country’s preeminent scientists from world-class facilities across the country,” UToledo President Sharon L. Gaber said. “This event presents an extraordinary opportunity for our students and scientists. We appreciate the Department of Energy recognizing UToledo’s momentum in advancing science and selecting us to host National Lab Day.”

A kickoff ceremony will be held at 8:45 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 10, in Nitschke Auditorium and feature Gaber, Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur and Chris Fall, director of the Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

“From manufacturing the first Jeeps for the U.S. government at the onset of WWII, to the founding of America’s largest solar company — First Solar – Toledo has a long and storied history as a world leader in manufacturing, national security, and cutting-edge research and development,” Kaptur said. “That is why Toledo is the perfect place to host an event like National Lab Day. Partnership is at the core of the success of our national labs, and National Lab Day will help facilitate important and long-lasting partnerships that bring students and faculty together with the National Lab directors.”

The Department of Energy maintains 17 national labs that tackle the critical scientific and national security challenges of our time — from combating climate change to discovering the origins of our universe — and possess unique instruments and facilities, many of which are found nowhere else in the world.

Toledo native and director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Mike Witherell, who grew up just blocks from the University, is a key organizer of the event.

“The University of Toledo is experiencing tremendous growth in its research enterprise,” Witherell said. “As a resource for the nation, the Department of Energy national laboratories are a resource for the University as it innovates and drives economic growth for Toledo, the northwest Ohio region, the state and the nation. My colleagues from the labs and I are delighted to join with the University and Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur at National Lab Day to explore the many exciting possibilities for engagement.”

Participants in National Lab Day 2019 at UToledo will meet laboratory directors and researchers; explore funding and fellowship opportunities; discover facilities open to academic and industry scientists; and learn about student internships and postdoctoral fellowships.

UToledo scientists will lead panel discussions with national laboratory scientists on a variety of topics, including:

• The Land-Water Interface: The Great Lakes Region and the World;

• Sustainability and Life Cycle Assessment;

• Structural Biology, Imaging and Spectroscopy;

• Astrophysics;

• Exposure Science — ‘Omics’ Applications for Human Health;

• Materials and Manufacturing; and

• Photovoltaics.

Registration, which is open for the academic and commercial research community, is required. Visit the National Lab Day website to register.

As part of National Lab Day, about 100 high school seniors will be on campus Friday, Oct. 11, to learn about career paths in STEM, meet national laboratory scientists, and learn about each of the national laboratories.