news, awards, grants and other UMDNJ happenings in brief
MED STUDENT ADVOCATES FOR PHYSICIANS
DELIVERING BABIES is definitely in fourth-year medical student LeAnne Roberts’ future, but first she’s headed in a new direction — as a student leader of the American Medical Association (AMA). In November, after what she describes, somewhat humorously, as a “tough campaign,” she was elected chair of the AMA-Medical Student Section, the largest and most influential organization of medical students in the U.S. In this role, she will serve as the voice of the more than 50,000 student members.
It’s the second time this year that a member of the NJMS community has been elected to a prestigious AMA position. Peter Carmel, MD, professor and chair of the Neurological Surgery Department at NJMS, assumed the post of AMA president in June. “The election of the AMA president and the AMA-Medical Student Section chair-elect from one school is notable, if not exceptional,” says NJMS Dean Robert Johnson, MD. “It’s wonderful for NJMS and for LeAnne.”
It’s no accident that Roberts describes Carmel as “her strongest mentor ever. He’s inspired me to pursue advocacy. I admire how he is speaking out so strongly on behalf of physicians.” Roberts, whose term is for two years, will first serve six months as chair-elect and will then assume her year-long term as its chair in June 2012 following the Annual Meeting of the AMA House of Delegates. The last six months is spent supporting the new chair-elect. The position requires travel once or twice a month, primarily on weekends, to chapter, state and national meetings and regional events. “I’m so excited about having this opportunity,” she says.
Originally from California, Roberts came to New Jersey as an undergraduate, brought by the offer of a great scholarship from Rutgers. “I love New Jersey and I want to stay here,” she says. “I enjoy the diversity, the density, the motivation to succeed. I feel so at home here.” She’s energetic, enterprising and forward-thinking, campaigning for the AMA position by launching a Facebook page titled Leanne Roberts for AMA-MSS Chair.
There’s no doubt in Roberts’ mind that she wants a career in clinical care, most likely obstetrics and gynecology. “But I also hope to spend a significant portion of my time doing physician advocacy work,” she says. “We need physicians to advocate for themselves to improve the medical profession and healthcare.”
Can You Be Obese and Healthy? New Study Says You Can.
IS IT POSSIBLE TO BE overweight or even obese and be considered healthy? Absolutely, say researchers from the Weight Management Services Program at SOM. In a recent study, the researchers analyzed the records of 454 SOM patients. Each of the patients had a body mass index (BMI) greater than 30, a standard for defining obesity. The group’s average body fat percentage was more than 46 percent.
Their analysis revealed a distinct sub-group of 135 metabolically healthy obese individuals who, despite their high BMI and body fat percentages, had essentially none of the measurable health risks such as high blood pressure, elevated blood sugar or cholesterol levels, normally associated with obesity. Another sub-group of 167 individuals was categorized as “medically unhealthy obese” because their corresponding results for the same measurements indicated an elevated risk for chronic disease.
“Our results indicate that metabolically healthy obese individuals may represent as much as 20 to 30 percent of the obese population,” says Adarsh Gupta, DO, MS, associate professor of family medicine, and director of Weight Management Services at SOM, who, along with Gwynn Coatney, DO, a general practice physician, conducted the research.
“This highlights the need for clinicians to be cautious when using obesity as a criterion for prescribing treatment,” explains Gupta
New Interim President for UMDNJ
DENISE V. RODGERS, MD, was named the University’s Interim President, effective January 1, 2012, by the UMDNJ Board of Trustees. She has been Executive Vice President for Academic and Clinical Affairs since 2006, and prior to that was University Chief of Staff. She remains a professor of family medicine at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, where she had also served as Senior Associate Dean for Community Health. Before she came to UMDNJ, Rodgers was professor and vice chair in the University of California, San Francisco Department of Family and Community Medicine and director of the San Francisco General Hospital Family Medicine Residency Program.
In 2010, Rodgers received the Edward J. Ill Excellence in Medicine Physician’s Award. She has devoted her career to effectively addressing health disparities among minority and underserved populations and communities. She also serves on a number of local, statewide and national committees.
Rodgers received a Bachelor of Arts in psychobiology from Oberlin College. She graduated from Michigan State University College of Human Medicine and completed her family medicine training in the Residency Program in Social Medicine at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx. She is board certified in family medicine and is a diplomate of the American Academy of Family Physicians.
William F. Owen, Jr., MD, president of the University since 2007, resigned his post effective December 31 but will remain in an advisory capacity to the Interim President and the Board of Trustees through August 2012.
SOM STUDENT GOES TO WASHINGTON
FARHAD MODARAI, a fourth-year SOM student, is participating in a one-year fellowship at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta. He was one of just eight medical students selected from across the country to take part in the CDC’s Experience Applied Epidemiology Fellowship Program, designed to provide new Fellows with an in-depth understanding of the role of epidemiology in medicine and health, and the role of physicians in the public health system.
Modarai is sitting in on monthly seminars, receiving hands-on training and work experience at the CDC, participating in field investigations, and traveling to areas where disease outbreaks have occurred. He will have the opportunity to conduct research under the mentorship of Karin Mack, PhD, a senior behavioral scientist at CDC, and to work on a number of projects that range from prescription overdoses and issues arising from polypharmacy (the use of multiple medications) to prevention of falls in the elderly and injury prevention in children and teens.
He is looking forward to pursuing his special interest in “Epi-Aids,” which are epidemiologic assistance investigations that the CDC conducts to assist U.S. health departments and overseas health organizations with emergency responses to infectious and environmental disease outbreaks or pandemics.
Not One, But Two National Awards
WE ARE PROUD TO ANNOUNCE that UMDNJ Magazine won two 2011 Platinum Marcom Awards, the highest honor from the Association of Marketing and Communications Professionals.
The Fall 2010/ Winter 2011 issue, Innovation and Your Future, won in the educational institution category, and the Spring/Summer 2011 issue, Brain Breakthroughs, won in the special edition category. The award recognizes excellence in all aspects of creating and producing a magazine, including writing, editing, photography and design. This is the second year in a row that the magazine garnered the top honor in the competition.
MOM2MOM EXPANDS REACH
MOTHERS OF CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL NEEDS often feel shocked, consumed with guilt, and overwhelmed with care-giving duties. Many feel isolated and alone. Mom2Mom, an initiative launched by UBHC in November 2010, helps parents of special needs children cope with the unique personal stresses they face. It was founded with a $91,868 grant from the Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey, awarded through the Foundation of UMDNJ.
“We recognized there was a need, and since Mom2Mom’s launch, we have made 2,500 contacts,” says Cherie Castellano, MA, LPC, director of Mom2Mom. In July 2011, a second grant from the Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey for $135,000 allowed the program to expand its focus from Essex and Union counties to include Morris County. Funds were also allocated to further develop the call center, and for staff training, volunteer recruitment, and to continue to develop partnerships statewide.
As Mom2Mom enters its second year of operations, the program officially opened the doors to its new Newark Peer Support Helpline and Resource Center at UMDNJ-University Hospital in October. Funded its first year by a grant from the UMDNJ-University Hospital Auxiliary, the center will address a strong need for services in the Greater Newark community.
For further information, call the Mom2Mom helpline at 1-877-914-MOM2 (1-877-914-6662).
University Hospital Earns Top Rankings
UMDNJ-UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL RANKS NUMBER ONE in the country among academic medical centers for the care of heart failure patients, according to data released by the University Health Consortium (UHC). An alliance of 115 academic medical centers and 257 of their affiliated hospitals, UHC represents approximately 90 percent of the nation’s non-profit academic medical centers and helps hospitals enhance their quality improvement standards.
The top ranking, based on data from April 2010 to March 2011, reflects the hospital’s stronger performance than other UHC hospitals on the core measures of heart failure care. Marc Klapholz, MD, FACC, director of cardiology, says the ranking is the result of University Hospital’s efforts to treat heart failure patients with a comprehensive, multidisciplinary, integrated team approach.
“Our goal is not just effective immediate care,” he says. “We apply a more long-term approach that helps heart failure patients transition from the inpatient to the outpatient environment effectively and improve their overall quality of life.”
According to the American Heart Association, heart failure is a chronic, progressive condition in which the heart muscle does not pump sufficient blood through the heart to meet the body's needs for blood and oxygen. This can lead to fatigue, shortness of breath, water retention and even damage to the kidneys.
AN ONGOING COMMITMENT
EVER SINCE THE SEPTEMBER 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center, physicians at RWJMS have been paying close attention to the health and well-being of first responders living in New Jersey who worked at Ground Zero.
In 2003, Iris G. Udasin, MD, RWJMS professor of environmental and occupational health, established the World Trade Center Responders Monitoring and Treatment Program at the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute (EOHSI), a shared institute of RWJMS and Rutgers. She cares for WTC first responders suffering with chronic, debilitating medical conditions.
The program was recently awarded a five-year, $3,882,489 grant from the Centers for Disease Control/National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. It has provided treatment for nearly 1,700 WTC responders.
$1 Million Gift from Wakefern Foods Establishes Endowment
THE FOUNDATION OF UMDNJ has received a $1 million gift from the Wakefern Food Corporation to support groundbreaking research, scholarships for future healthcare professionals and patient care and community service programs for the underserved. Wakefern, the merchandising and distribution arm of ShopRite supermarkets and PriceRite stores, is the largest retailer-owned cooperative in the country. The gift, to be donated to the New Jersey Health Foundation and its affiliate, the Foundation of UMDNJ, establishes the Dean Janeway Endowment to Advance Healthcare Excellence in honor of the Wakefern president and chief operating officer who will retire in January 2012, after 45 years with the company, the past 16 as president. The endowment reflects Janeway’s significant philanthropic efforts to support community causes throughout his career.
STUDENT-RUN FREE CLINIC RECEIVES FEDERAL GRANT
A HIGHLY COMPETITIVE federal grant of $940,265 has been awarded to the Department of Family Medicine at NJMS to expand and improve its Student Family Health Care Center, one of the oldest student-run medical facilities in the nation.
The five-year award is provided by the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HRSA) to fund the planning, development and operation of programs that train medical students for careers in family medicine, general internal medicine and general pediatrics.
In response to the 1967 Newark riots, the health center was established to meet the needs of the medically underserved by providing free health care to uninsured Newark residents. The clinic is run by first- through fourth-year NJMS students who work under the supervision of board-certified family and internal medicine physicians as well as faculty advisor Robin Schroeder, MD, assistant professor and interim chair of the Department of Family Medicine. It offers a variety of free medical services, including physical examinations, chronic disease management, gynecological care and psychosocial counseling several evenings each week.
Among the improvements planned with funds from the HRSA grant are the development of a Student Consultation Program, where NJMS students will advise medical students from across the country on how to implement similar student-run free clinics at their schools, and the creation of a new outreach program that will bring center participants, accompanied by faculty, to a homeless shelter where they will deliver care to the occupants.
VETS4WARRIORS GOES NATIONAL
DECEMBER 13 marked the national launch of Vets4Warriors, an outreach and support initiative that will provide critical military peer-to-peer counseling to National Guardsmen and Reservists 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Vets4Warriors takes an unprecedented approach to veterans outreach by providing a help line where service members can find assistance with everyday life issues, as well as mental health problems, from another veteran who knows the challenges of military life. The program has a proven record of successfully serving local military men and women.
Vets4Warriors began six years ago at UMDNJ as a program for New Jersey veterans. Due to its proven effectiveness, Senator Frank Lautenberg, an army veteran, advocated to President Obama, the Defense Department and the National Guard that it be made into a national program. The help line will now be available in all 54 states and territories.
Unlike many other national veterans’ assistance programs, Vets4Warriors provides service members with immediate and direct contact with a veteran trained to do this work. Additionally, veterans staffing the help line will follow up with callers to ensure their progress and proactively reach out to at-risk service members.
More than 2,200 service members on active duty took their own lives from 2001 through 2010. In 2010, 293 service members took their own lives while on active duty. The suicide rate among Army soldiers has climbed steadily since 2004 and the Army reported a record-high number of suicides in July 2011. Rates of mental health problems among new veterans is unprecedented, and reports indicate that nearly 20 percent of military service members who have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan have reported symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or major depression.
The Vets4Warriors toll free hotline is 1-855-VET-TALK. More information about the program is available at www.vets4warriors.com.