faculty-recognition | UToledo News




Pharmacy faculty member honored for saving life



Dr. Martin Ohlinger, UT assistant professor of pharmacy, has been recognized as a hero.

Jerry Wiesenhahn, pharmacist and Ohio State Board of Pharmacy member, honored Ohlinger with that distinction for saving his life at a conference two years ago. He recently presented Ohlinger with a Sudden Cardiac Arrest Association (SCAA) Certificate of Heroism and a decorative pin displaying the word “hero” at a special event at the Capital Club in Columbus.

Ohlinger described this award as different from any other honor he has received because it is “very personal and very meaningful.” He also considers a card from Wiesenhahn just as valuable.

“It’s the first time I ever received something in the mail that started, ‘Thank you for saving my life’ and he meant it literally,” he said.

It was at the Ohio Pharmacists Association’s annual licensure ceremony Sept. 10, 2008, when Wiesenhahn lost consciousness and collapsed.

Ohlinger, along with another pharmacist and a nearby nurse, immediately took action. After checking his vitals, they realized Wiesenhahn had gone into cardiac arrest.

Initially, Wiesenhahn was breathing and had a pulse, but that soon stopped. And with no automated external defibrillator (AED) present, Ohlinger had to administer CPR to keep Wiesenhahn alive.

“I was lucky enough that the EMS arrived within six minutes to apply the AED that delivered the crucial shock that brought me out of arrest,” Wiesenhahn said. “There’s no doubt in my mind that if not for the quick response by my team of lifesavers, I’d be a goner.”

According to SCAA, 90 percent of people who go into cardiac arrest die, resulting in nearly 300,000 deaths every year.

Wiesenhahn recently donated an AED to the Ohio Pharmacists Association to keep in its Upper Arlington office and use at events throughout the state.

Ohlinger is celebrating his 10-year anniversary at the University.

Ohlinger received his bachelor’s degree in biology from the College of William and Mary and his pharmacy bachelor’s degree and doctorate from the Medical College of Virginia. He has been a pharmacist for nearly 20 years and, along with his teaching responsibilities at UT, he works with the surgical critical care service at UT Medical Center.

He is a member of the American Society of Health System Pharmacists, the American College of Clinical Pharmacy, the Society of Critical Care Medicine and the Toledo Area Society of Health-System Pharmacists.

Law professor named Fellow of national organization

A University of Toledo law professor has been named a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation.



Susan Martyn, the Stoepler Professor of Law and Values at the UT College of Law, was one of a limited group of lawyers selected for the honor. Membership in the Fellows is limited to one-third of 1 percent of the lawyers licensed to practice in each jurisdiction.

“The American Bar Foundation is part of a national effort to study ways to make legal services available to the public,” Martyn said. “I’m proud to support their efforts.”

The foundation is an honorary organization of attorneys, judges, law faculty and legal scholars who have been elected by their peers to be Fellows. Those selected have demonstrated achievements and dedication to their communities and to the highest principles of the legal profession.

There were 107 new Fellows inducted in July, and Martyn was one of just four from Ohio.

Martyn, who has been a UT faculty member since 1980, is considered a national expert on issues of legal ethics. She has served on national bodies that shape the law-governing lawyers, including serving as an adviser to the American Law Institute’s Restatement (Third) of the Law Governing Lawyers and on the American Bar Association’s Ethics 2000 Commission.

A graduate of St. Olaf College and Marquette University Law School, Martyn previously was assistant dean and associate professor at Wayne State University Law School.

Professor’s poem dedicated to wife published in national journal

Dr. Blair Grubb’s poem was printed on the inside back cover of the autumn issue of The Pharos of Alpha Omega Alpha. The illustration is by Jim M’Guinness.

Dr. Blair Grubb’s poem was printed on the inside back cover of the autumn issue of The Pharos of Alpha Omega Alpha. The illustration is by Jim M’Guinness.

Dr. Blair Grubb, professor of medicine and pediatrics as well as director of UT’s Electrophysiology Program, does not see the human heart as just a muscular organ responsible for pumping blood throughout the body. He also sees it as the seat of value and meaning for humans, the fount of our existential drive.

And with Grubb’s heart, this value, meaning and drive is directed at his wife, Barbara Straus, who he has passionately loved for 34 years.

“Barbara is an amazing woman: a mother, wife, pediatrician and community leader who has bravely battled brain cancer for the last two years,” Grubb said. “She has never once given into remorse or self-pity; rather, she lives each day to its fullest.”

To celebrate her and the strength she has exhibited in battling cancer, Grubb wrote a poem titled “The Gaze” about her and their relationship that was published in the autumn issue of The Pharos. The quarterly journal is published by Alpha Omega Alpha, a prestigious national medical honor society of which Grubb is a member.

Part of the poem reads, “Turning to me your eyes tell it all. A gaze that reaches to my heart’s core.”



“The Pharos publishes engaging and scholarly essays and poetry on a wide array of medical subjects, emphasizing the artistic, the literary, and the place of music, language and culture in medicine,” said Debbie Lancaster, managing editor of the publication.

“The poem is an attempt to put into words the deep feeling and admiration that I have for Barbara,” Grubb said. “It was very gratifying to have the poem accepted for publication. I have always admired the way that The Pharos tries to blend medicine and the humanities into a seamless whole.”

Physicians need to observe this mixture, Grubb said. “Medicine is not a science, but rather it is an art that uses science as one of its tools in the act of reducing human pain and suffering. To lose sight of medicine’s human aspects and origins is to risk depersonalizing people into mere things.”

In fact, Grubb thinks that medicine is “among the foremost of the humanities.” After all, he asked, “What other animal cares for its ill or wounded?”

Grubb indicated that he has been writing poetry and essays for some time, although he says he feels like he is just now learning about poetry. He said he composes his pieces by going “over and over the poem until I hit a point where I have to write it down.” He rarely makes changes to first drafts, which he writes with a fountain pen on paper.

“Nothing matches poetry in it compactness of thought and directness in expression,” he said. “It is the ultimate expression of the beauty of human language.”

Professor of radiation oncology selected president-elect of society

The Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society recently selected a University of Toledo professor its new president-elect.



Dr. John Feldmeier, UT professor and chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology, was tapped by the members of the organization for the leadership position at the annual meeting in June.

“The election represents the culmination of many years of effort by me in this profession in defining the role for hyperbaric oxygen as a treatment for radiation injuries,” Feldmeier said. “I am especially pleased to be elected to this office because it was achieved by a vote of my professional peers.”

Feldmeier has been a member of the society since 1980, has served as chair of the society’s Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Committee, and is the current chair of the society’s Research Committee. He is also the only physician in the nation to be board-certified in both hyperbaric medicine and radiation oncology.

“The election to a national professional medical society is a rare and humbling honor,” he added. “My goal is to live up to the confidence that my colleagues in hyperbaric oxygen have entrusted in me.”

The Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society is the premier professional group for those who practice or pursue research in hyperbaric medicine. The society has a professional membership of about 3,000 physicians and PhDs. These professionals from many different backgrounds share a common interest in diving and/or clinical hyperbaric medicine.

Feldmeier has served as chair of the UT Department of Radiation Oncology for 12 years, and is the former chief of radiation oncology at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, as well as at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio and Grace-Sinai Hospital in Detroit.

The appointment of Feldmeier is an eight-year term. He will be president-elect for two years, then president of the society for two years. Subsequently, he will serve on the Board of Directors as immediate past president for two years, then as past president for a final two-year period.

As president of the society, Feldmeier said his duties will be scientific, political and administrative. One of his primary goals, he said, is to move his presidency “toward a collaborative multi-institutional research group for hyperbaric oxygen comparable to the cancer research groups sponsored by the National Cancer Institute.”

“My highest goal as a clinician involved in hyperbaric oxygen therapy is to ensure the best quality of care to our patients,” he added.

“Dr. Feldmeier excels as an educator and as a physician, and has shown a genuine commitment to advancing science and medicine,” said Raj Patel, a third-year medical student who worked with Feldmeier on a research project last summer. “He has made many contributions to the field of hyperbaric medicine during his years as a physician.”

Professor recognized for research on headaches, strokes

A University of Toledo researcher’s work with the impact of childhood abuse on future pain and health disorders is receiving national attention.



Dr. Gretchen Tietjen, professor and chair of neurology, director of the Headache Treatment and Research Program, and director of the Stroke Program, recently gave four oral and two poster presentations on the breadth of her research at the American Headache Society’s annual meeting in Los Angeles.

A study Tietjen led of more than 1,300 migraine patients revealed a link between the risk of stroke and heart attack and the number of forms of abuse a person suffered as a child, such as neglect or physical, emotional or sexual abuse.

“It’s fascinating,” Tietjen said. “A few years ago you didn’t see much on the links between childhood stresses and future health problems, but research in this area is really starting to grow.”

The study was noted in a number of journals and news outlets following the June conference. Building on additional work that had already shown that childhood maltreatment is linked to migraines, this study showed that early abuse also puts adults with migraines at greater risk of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease, Tietjen said.

“Dr. Tietjen and her teams are pioneers in understanding the relationship between negative childhood experiences and migraine,” Dr. David Dodick, president of the American Headache Society, said in a news release. “Now we need to drill even deeper to understand the relationship between migraine, aura status, childhood maltreatment and [cardiovascular] disease risk.”

Because people with migraines can be predisposed to other pain conditions, such as fibromyalgia and irritable bowl syndrome, finding the best ways to treat and intervene early could really have an impact on the health of those patients, Tietjen said.

“It’s interesting to learn what course has been set in motion and work to find ways to stop it,” she said. “If you are able to treat the headaches, would that be enough to stop related future conditions? We don’t know yet.”

Tietjen’s research in this area continues. She is involved in another study with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study,” of the general population that surveys thousands about stressful childhood experiences and physical and mental illnesses, including headache, to look for links there.

A larger study, “The American Migraine Prevalence and Prevention Study,” also is under way to investigate if there is a link between child abuse and migraines specifically or headache pain more broadly, Tietjen said.

“I’d love to be able to take the information from these surveys and research to find ways to help people,” she said.

Tietjen’s research crosses disciplines; her work on stroke is being recognized at the same time as her migraine studies. She earned a first-place Innovation Award at the 2010 International Stroke Conference for her research on biomarkers that linked migraine and stroke in young women.

Chemical engineering professor receives Fulbright Distinguished Chair Award

Dr. Abdul-Majeed Azad, UT professor of chemical engineering, has been selected as the recipient of the 2010-11 Fulbright Distinguished Chair Award in Alternative Energy Technology.

Dr. Abdul-Majeed Azad works in the North Engineering Building Materials Research Lab, where the Hiedolph LR20 rotary evaporator is used for large-scale catalyst synthesis and for coating catalysts on honeycomb monoliths.

Dr. Abdul-Majeed Azad works in the North Engineering Building Materials Research Lab, where the Hiedolph LR20 rotary evaporator is used for large-scale catalyst synthesis and for coating catalysts on honeycomb monoliths.

Beginning this fall, he will spend a nine-month sabbatical in the Department of Energy and Environment at Chalmers Institute of Technology in Göteborg, Sweden.

“I’m extremely grateful to the Fulbright Foundation for this prestigious award,” Azad said. “This recognition is a testimony of the tremendous support of my family and friends and the faith that so many colleagues across the two campuses have in me.”

The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs administers the Fulbright awards, which are designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and citizens of other countries.

Distinguished Chair awards are viewed as among the most prestigious appointments in the Fulbright Scholar Program. Chair holders have a prominent record of scholarly accomplishment. They also have a high degree of visibility and are frequently asked to provide guest lectures and represent the program in other ways in the host country.

The program comprises about 40 distinguished lecturing, distinguished research and distinguished lecturing/research awards spanning a wide range of academic disciplines.

Officials with the Fulbright Scholar Program said Azad stood out because of his international recognition in the field of alternative energy research. He has authored more than 90 peer-reviewed publications, has participated in a number of conferences, possesses several patents, and achieved significant grant funding.

In addition to this outstanding research, Azad consistently has been evaluated well by his students.

His work as a Fulbright Scholar will involve improving the Chemical-Looping with Oxygen Uncoupling (CLOU) process for the capture and storage of carbon dioxide that is being employed at Chalmers.

Azad’s proposed research at Chalmers aligns well with his own work at UT, where he has independently developed technologies that utilize rather than sequester carbon dioxide. The sequestration method involves pumping the greenhouse gas underground into depleted coal and natural gas mines after it is “scrubbed” from the air during the burning of solid fuels such as coal.

Utilization, on the other hand, generates synthetic gas, also known as “syngas,” by combining carbon dioxide and water vapor that could then either be used as a fuel in solid oxide fuel cells or converted catalytically into liquid fuels via the Fischer-Tropsch process.

Azad also is working with NASA on this technology as well as with the Battelle Memorial Institute for its possible commercialization.

“Dr. Azad is a great asset to this university and is a fine representative of our commitment to be a transformative leader in renewable energy,” Dr. Nagi Naganathan, dean of the UT College of Engineering, said.

“The Fulbright Award is an affirmation of his accomplishments in this area as well as our commitment,” Naganathan added. “It is great to see Dr. Azad have the opportunity to share his valued talents in an internationally collaborative fashion.”

Researcher takes creative approach to solving child nutrition issue

Dr. Hironori Matsushima, left, and Dr. Akira Takashima look at a culture dish to see if the antimicrobial proteins can kill bacteria. The researchers plan to incorporate those proteins into a powdered milk that would help solve the problem of chronic diarrhea in children of developing countries.

Dr. Hironori Matsushima, left, and Dr. Akira Takashima look at a culture dish to see if the antimicrobial proteins can kill bacteria. The researchers plan to incorporate those proteins into a powdered milk that would help solve the problem of chronic diarrhea in children of developing countries.

A University of Toledo professor has an idea to solve the problem of chronic diarrhea, a large cause of infant mortality in developing countries, that is so simple it might just work.

Dr. Hironori Matsushima, a research assistant professor in the UT Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, proposes a powdered milk that could be produced with antimicrobial proteins allowing it to be mixed with virtually any water source and be safe to drink. And this enhanced milk would kill the pathogens such as E. coli and salmonella that cause diarrhea, the problem that is responsible for 1.5 million children under the age of 5 dying every year in developing countries.

Not only would it provide the necessary proteins to prevent gastrointestinal bacterial infections that lead to digestive problems, but the powdered milk product also would provide necessary nutrition to these young children.

“I had never really thought of diarrhea as such a serious problem, but it is for children in developing countries,” Matsushima said. “I started to think about how to help and came up with this idea. It really could be a relatively easy solution to a widespread problem.”

It’s a much less-expensive approach than providing antibiotics to these countries or attempting a complete overhaul of water resources for cleaner drinking and food options, said Dr. Akira Takashima, professor and chair of the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, who is assisting Matsushima with the research.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation also saw merit in the idea and awarded a $100,000 Grand Challenges Explorations grant that promotes innovation in global health.

UT’s project is one of 78 grants awarded in the fourth round of the initiative that helps fund scientists to explore bold and largely unproven ways to improve health in developing countries.

So how exactly would the correct antimicrobial proteins get into the powdered milk to help the children? It starts with the cows.

Matsushima and Takashima explain that mammals are capable of producing antibiotics, so the plan is to engineer cows to produce milk containing human antibiotics, specifically the peptidoglycan recognition protein-1. The milk from those transgenic cows will be turned into powdered milk so that it can be stored for long periods without refrigeration.

When that milk is mixed with water and ingested, those human antimicrobial proteins will work with the stomach acids to combat bacteria that would otherwise cause diarrhea.

Matsushima, with Takashima and doctoral student Yi Yao, first will test the antibiotic proteins in the lab against common pathogens to confirm it is the best to counteract those bacteria and will work successfully in the powdered milk form.

If successful, the team will pursue additional funding to test the concept in mice and then to cows.

“Simple is the best,” Takashima said. “This is really a creative and interesting approach that could address the massive problem of chronic diarrhea in these young children and at the same time provide a nutritious and preventive care method with continued drinking of this milk. It could indeed be a breakthrough.”

The funding from the Gates Foundation program is a highly competitive process with nearly 2,700 proposals submitted for this round. Scientists such as Matsushima who received the awards represent 18 countries on six continents.

“The winners of these grants show the bold thinking we need to tackle some of the world’s greatest health challenges,” said Dr. Tachi Yamada, president of the Gates Foundation’s Global Health Program. “I’m excited about their ideas and look forward to seeing some of these exploratory projects turn into life-saving breakthroughs.”

Bioengineering professor receives lifetime achievement award

One might say that scholastic achievement has been the “backbone” of Dr. Vijay Goel’s academic career. This statement about the Distinguished University Professor of Bioengineering was reaffirmed recently when he received the International Society for the Study of the Lumbar Spine’s (ISSLS) Wiltse Lifetime Achievement Award.

Dr. Vijay Goel, center, received the Wiltse Lifetime Achievement Award from Robert Moore, secretary of the International Society for the Study of the Lumbar Spine.

Dr. Vijay Goel, center, received the Wiltse Lifetime Achievement Award from Robert Moore, secretary of the International Society for the Study of the Lumbar Spine.

Goel is the Endowed Chair and McMaster Gardner Professor of Orthopedic Bioengineering in the College of Engineering and the College of Medicine and co-director of the Engineering Center for Orthopedic Research Excellence at UT.

The annual award is given to scientists, clinicians and basic science researchers responsible for exceptional achievement in the field of spinal medicine, according to the group’s website. He received the award April 16 during the organization’s annual meeting in Auckland, New Zealand.

Even though it is his third such award, having received two other recognitions for his lifetime of achievements from similar organizations, Goel said he felt surprised and blessed to have won the ISSLS prize after his first nomination.

“I never thought even for a second that I would get the award, especially at the first submission — so much so that I did not make any reservations to attend the Auckland meeting, being far away,” he said.

Goel has an internationally recognized 30-year academic career in bioengineering work on spinal diseases and mechanics, as well as orthopedic and dental biomechanics more broadly.

Early in his career, he was a pioneer of three-dimensional finite element modeling of orthopedic implant-constructs and studied their load-displacement behavior. He later developed finite element models of ligamentous spinal sections at the University of Iowa, where he established the Iowa Spine Research Center.

In 2000, he joined UT as professor and chair of bioengineering and helped build from the ground up the orthopedic departmental tract comprised of courses and labs. He also collaborated with the MUO Department of Orthopedic Surgery to establish the UT Spine Research Center.

Goel has authored more than 260 peer-reviewed articles as well as two textbooks and has delivered more than 450 presentations on scientific and clinical matters. He is also a member of the editorial boards of several prominent journals.

He continues to work on spinal implants and uses his finite elements method to spur commercialization and economic growth as a consultant and scientific adviser.

“Dr. Goel is one of our most accomplished faculty members. His contributions to the broader community through his work on the mobility of spine and the design of spinal implants is truly outstanding,” said Dr. Nagi Naganathan, dean of the College of Engineering. “The ISLLS Lifetime Achievement Award is a significant celebration of his scholastic achievements.”

While at UT, Goel also has secured more than $19 million in extramural funding from national and international industries and federal and state agencies. One of his recent submissions to Ohio’s Third Frontier Ohio Research Scholar Program resulted in a grant award of $4.6 million that will allow UT to recruit another accomplished scholar in the area of spinal implants.

Researcher receives national honor for hypertension work

Dr. Bina Joe, UT associate professor of physiology and pharmacology, thanks her mentors for fostering an interest in science and exploration leading to a successful research career that recently was recognized with a national honor.

Dr. Bina Joe received the Young Scholar Award from the American Society of Hypertension from the organization’s president, Dr. Henry R. Black. Dr. Nader Abraham, UT professor and chair of the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, was in New York for the presentation at the society’s annual meeting.

Dr. Bina Joe received the Young Scholar Award from the American Society of Hypertension from the organization’s president, Dr. Henry R. Black. Dr. Nader Abraham, UT professor and chair of the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, was in New York for the presentation at the society’s annual meeting.

Joe received the Young Scholar Award from the American Society of Hypertension Inc., the country’s largest organization dedicated to hypertension and related cardiovascular disease, for her work identifying specific genes that contribute to the disorder. She received the award earlier this month at the society’s annual scientific meeting and exposition in New York.

“We know hypertension runs in families and something is being inherited, but what that something is we don’t know,” Joe said.

There are both genetic and environmental factors, such as salt, exercise and weight, which lead to hypertension issues. Joe’s laboratory works with segregated rats that have hypertension and those that are resistant to it. By controlling the environmental factors, the researchers can pinpoint genes that contribute to the disorder.

Joe’s predecessor and mentor at UT, Dr. John Rapp, identified a gene and her team has found another. There could be several more that contribute to hypertension. After mapping the genes, the focus will switch to changing the variations in them that lead to problems.

“Usually when a person receives an award for their research, they may not be really doing the work anymore. It’s their team. But for me, it’s both; I’ve done the work, and I’ve led postdoctoral students in doing the work,” Joe said. “It’s been very gratifying for me to both be part of it and leading a group. I owe it both to my mentors, who I owe my start and earlier career to, and the youngsters who are the future.”

The Young Scholar Award recognizes the achievements of outstanding young investigators in the field of hypertension. Candidates for the award must have received an advanced professional degree within the last 15 years and be active in research.

Professor involved in climate change research project reported in Science journal

Dr. Timothy Fisher, shown here three years ago with a thrust rod of a corer, which he used to recover 1-meter segments of sediment cores from lake ice on Goshorn Lake, an inland lake next to Lake Michigan south of Holland, Mich., conducted similar research on small lakes around Lake Superior.

Dr. Timothy Fisher, shown here three years ago with a thrust rod of a corer, which he used to recover 1-meter segments of sediment cores from lake ice on Goshorn Lake, an inland lake next to Lake Michigan south of Holland, Mich., conducted similar research on small lakes around Lake Superior.

UT Professor of Environmental Sciences Dr. Timothy Fisher is part of a team of scientists who discovered that a flood of fresh water from Lake Superior into the Atlantic Ocean contributed to a cold event 9,300 years ago.

The discovery of what caused a widespread cold anomaly is detailed in the paper called “Freshwater Outburst From Lake Superior as a Trigger for the Cold Event 9,300 Years ago.” The paper is posted on the Science Express website, which previews articles that will be published in a future print edition of Science journal.

The scientists propose that a drift dam in the southeastern corner of Lake Superior broke, causing fresh water to surge through the upper Great Lakes and into the ocean via the St. Lawrence Seaway at the end of the last ice age. That rush of fresh water caused the cold event by disrupting the Gulf Stream that pulls warm water north.

The Gulf Stream current brings warm salty water to the North Atlantic, where after cooling, its increased density causes it to sink to the bottom and flow south. The process drives much of the world’s ocean circulation pattern.

But when fresh water covers the top of the salt water, that warm water doesn’t get the chance to cool and the process is essentially stalled. Without warm water coming from the north, the area cooled and stayed that way for a couple hundred years. While the cold event 9,300 years ago has been recognized, a mechanism that triggered it had not been put forward.

Fisher is a lead writer and one of eight researchers involved in the paper published in Science; Shi-Yong Yu, a postdoctoral fellow at Tulane University, led the group.

“As geologists, we study past events in Earth’s history in association with modern processes to develop a historical context, equipping us to make better decisions for the future,” Fisher said.

“While a flood of fresh water such as what happened with Lake Superior at the end of the ice age is a different mechanism than what we see now with global climate change, this information tells us that the North Atlantic Ocean was very sensitive to minor changes in freshwater input,” Fisher explained. “Such information is useful as currently the increase in glacier melting on Greenland and mountain glaciers is not only driving seal level rise, it is also increasing the flux of fresh water to the oceans.”

Fisher contributed to the research by collecting sediment core samples from small lakes around Lake Superior that showed they were once actually a part of a larger lake in the Lake Superior basin, before the dam broke and the lake fell 43 meters in about a year.

The flood also explains the previously unknown cause of the oxygen isotope changes in Lake Huron and Lake Michigan at that time, when water from Lake Superior rushed into the other lakes, Fisher said.