Drs. Darren Johnson and Christian Lattermann have been ranked as two of the best knee surgeons in North America by Orthopedics This Week.

Two UK knee surgeons ranked among 16 best in North America

Dr. Darren Johnson

Dr. Darren Johnson

Dr. Christian Latterman

Dr. Christian Latterman

Drs. Darren Johnson, chairman of UK Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine, and Christian Lattermann, director of cartilage repair and restoration, have been ranked as two of the “16 Standout North American Sports Knee Surgeons” by the publication Orthopedics This Week, the most widely read publication in the Orthopedics industry.

“I am truly honored and humbled to be recognized at this level. I have always strived to provide the best care to the patients I serve,” said Johnson, who has been working at UK since 1993 and serves as chair of the department. “This could not be accomplished without those that I work with in my department including colleagues and partners, residents and fellows, athletic training staff as well as our overall staff support in the clinic and operating room.”

Lattermann was also included in the ranking and serves as director of cartilage repair and restoration. “This honor is the result of hard work towards the orthopaedic mission at the University of Kentucky,” he said. “As a physician scientist I am particularly happy to be included in this list of outstanding sports medicine physicians.”


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Helping LGBTQ teens navigate adolescence

Dr. Mandakini Sadhir works at UK Adolescent Medicine

Dr. Mandakini Sadhir

Written by Dr. Mandakini Sadhir, a physician at UK Adolescent Medicine. This post is part of a series written by Dr. Hatim Omar and his team in Adolescent Medicine related to the unique health concerns faced by teens and young adults.

Adolescence is a time of physical, psychological and cognitive changes. It is an important phase for teens to discover who they really are, how they are perceived and how they fit into the environment they in which they live.

Sexual and gender identity development are two of the most important tasks young adults face during adolescence. For those who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or queer (LGBTQ), these tasks can be a tremendous challenge.

LGBTQ teens face unique challenges

LGBTQ teens often cope with feelings of being different and face dilemmas about revealing their identity, which can be at odds with family and social expectations.

They may encounter family rejection, face harassment, prejudice, discrimination and social isolation in schools as well as communities. According to a national survey, many of these teens face verbal and electronic aggression in school. These experiences at school and the potential lack of family and community support affect the overall psychological and physical well-being of LGBTQ youth.

In fact, LGBTQ teens are eight times more likely to attempt suicide than their peers. They are also three times more likely to engage in substance abuse, unprotected sexual intercourse and have multiple sexual partners leading to increased risk for sexually transmitted infections.

Additionally, transgender youth face unique challenges associated with the transition process including access to comprehensive health care and hormonal therapy.

How we can help

Research has shown that family acceptance and support promotes overall well-being and helps protect LGBTQ youth against risk taking behaviors. Our Adolescent Medicine Clinic at UK is committed to providing specialized and comprehensive care for LGBTQ youth in an inclusive and safe environment.

We also work with families to help them understand sexual and gender identity development and provide individual and family therapy.

Looking toward the future, our clinic is currently in the process of developing a multidisciplinary approach for providing a comprehensive health and hormonal therapy for transgender youth in the state of Kentucky.

To make an appointment with UK Adolescent Medicine, visit our website or call 800-333-8874.


Next steps:

  • Learn more about Transform Health, a University of Kentucky initiative working to improve LGBTQ patient care and provide safe clinical environments for LGBTQ individuals seeking care.
  • Read Dr. Omar’s introductory blog post about how UK Adolescent Medicine is helping improve health and well-being for teens and young adults across Kentucky.

E-cigarettes are not safe during pregnancy

Written by Kristin Ashford, PhD, WHNP-BC, FAAN, associate professor and assistant dean of research in the UK College of Nursing.

Kristin Ashford, PhD, WHNP-BC, FAAN, is an associate professor and assistant dean of research in the UK College of Nursing.

Kristen Ashford, PhD, WHNP-BC, FAAN

E-cigarettes are increasingly popular, and adult women of childbearing age are the most common users. This is especially true in Kentucky, which has the country’s second highest rate of smoking during pregnancy. Many women try to quit or reduce their smoking while pregnant, and may turn to e-cigs under the belief that they are safer or harmless during pregnancy.

But are e-cigs and other electronic smoking products safe for an unborn child? The short answer is no.

E-cigarettes may be new, but we know they’re harmful

E-cigs and similar products are fairly new, so we are still learning about their full health effects on the body and brain of developing babies, but we do know that e-cigarettes are not safe during pregnancy. Here are the reasons why:

  • Nicotine harms a fetus. E-cigarettes and other electronic smoking products, like vapes, contain nicotine, which we know can cause birth defects and long-term health consequences for the developing brain and body of an unborn child.
  • E-cigs don’t help you quit smoking. Recent research shows that most pregnant women who have used e-cigs end up using both e-cigs and traditional cigarettes (dual use), or relapse back to traditional cigarettes entirely. It is possible that e-cig use could actually increase harm to a fetus as a result of dual use or full relapse.
  • E-cigs contain other harmful chemicals. There is formaldehyde and cancer-causing agents in the cartridges and aerosol (commonly referred to as vapor) of e-cigarettes. A fetus is exposed to these agents if the mother uses e-cigs. E-cigs and similar products were not previously regulated, so it is not always clear what other harmful chemicals they might contain.
  • Secondhand exposure e-cigs is also dangerous during pregnancy. Pregnant women should not be around e-cig aerosol (vapor), just like they should not be around secondhand smoke from traditional cigarettes.

If you are pregnant or might become pregnant and would like to quit smoking or using e-cigs, talk to your nurse midwife, doctor or pregnancy care provider. You can also call the Health Department’s Quit Line, specifically for women who are pregnant or recently had a baby, at 800-784-8669.

At UK, we are conducting a health research study to learn more about the effects of e-cig use during pregnancy. If you are in your first trimester of pregnancy and have used cigarettes or e-cigs in the last three months, we invite you to participate. All information is kept confidential. To learn more, call our research team at 859-333-1572 or visit our website.


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The second installment of our Making the Rounds series, Dr. John D'Orazio talks about how he likes to spend his vacations, his favorite foods and more.

Dr. John D’Orazio takes us back to his first day of medical school

The second installment of Making the Rounds features Dr. John D’Orazio, a clinician and researcher at the DanceBlue Kentucky Children’s Hospital Hematology/Oncology Clinic. Making the Rounds is a Q&A series where you’ll get to know the providers at UK HealthCare and what they’re like outside the lab and clinic.

Making the RoundsDr. D’Orazio received his medical degree from University of Miami, School of Medicine, Miami, Fla. He then completed a Pediatrics residency at the Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, and a Pediatric Hematology/Oncology fellowship at Boston Children’s Hospital and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston. D’Orazio is of Italian descent, and he enjoys eating and cooking Italian food.

Dr. John D'Orazio

Dr. John D’Orazio

Where could someone find the most authentic Italian food in Lexington?

In Lexington? You’d have to come over to my house!

What do you like to cook yourself?

Well, the other night I made a good risotto. I make fresh pasta, and I make a sauce to go with it… Pizza – I do pizza a lot. The more toppings you can put on it and the less crust, the better for me!

Describe your ideal vacation.

So [my family and I] like nature. We like outdoors, we like hiking. I like photography. We’ve been three times up to the Yellowstone glacier. We’ve been a couple of times to Costa Rica – love it down there.

It would be a place like that, where you can just get away, you know. We like to rent a house for a week and just have a low-key time – go hiking, go fishing kind of a thing.

How would your friends describe you?

Optimistic, funny, kind.

Do you recall your first day of med school?

Yes. So I’m an MD, PhD – I’m a physician scientist. I did a kind of blended thing. But yes [I remember]. Just the great honor of sitting there and realizing that this is the beginning of a journey I followed my heart to.

You know, I’m the first person in my family to ever go to college, not even to mention med school. It was just a great honor, and I soaked it up like a sponge.


Watch this video to hear Dr. D’Orazio explain why making a connection with his patients is so important to him.


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Health care for LGBTQ community

UK coalition aims to improve health care for LGBTQ community

Concerns about privacy, safety, stigmatization and quality of care often deter members of the LGBTQ community from accessing health care services and resources. Disengagement from the health care system has contributed to many health disparities affecting the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer population.

A new coalition at the University of Kentucky is working to increase LGBTQ health care engagement and provide safe clinical environments for LGBTQ individuals seeking treatment.

Transform Health is a health care home serving LGBTQ patients in the Lexington and UK community. The university-wide initiative comprises UK faculty members and health care providers, including doctors, nurses and counselors, as well community members.

The initiative aims to improve patient care, conduct evidence-based research, market and promote LGBTQ-specific health services, and educate health care providers about customizing care to the distinctive needs of these patients.

“Our objective is to promote health services centered on the unique needs of LGBTQ patients,” said Dr. Keisa Fallin-Bennett, a UK Family & Community Medicine physician and Transform Health task force member.

“Creating inclusive health care settings is not just about providing services. We are building a movement through patient care, provider training and research that aims to improve the climate of health care for LGBTQ individuals in the local community. We want patients to be able to identify a safe and welcoming space for care and be a resource for students and providers.”

Transform Health providers, who are located at multiple UK clinic locations, offer medical treatment and services for the specific medical and psychological needs of LGBTQ patients. These nurses, doctors, counselors, and educators foster inclusive environments while providing medical treatment and services such as preventive care, hormone therapy, counseling and tobacco cessation therapies.


Next steps:

  • Transform Health clinics are located at the UK Family & Community Medicine clinic at Turfland. Appointments are available this fall. To make an appointment or refer a patient, call 859-323-6371 and ask for a Transform Health Clinic appointment.
  • Students who use University Health Service and are seeking a specific hormone therapy through a Transform Health provider should ask for the specific need when making their appointment. To reach UHS, call 859-323-2778.
  • Learn more about Transform Health and the UK Office of LGBTQ Resources.

Doctor from Ethiopia visits UK to observe breast cancer research

From the mountains and waterfalls of Bahir Dar, Ethiopia, to the rolling hills and equine landscapes of Lexington, Kentucky, Dr. Getachew Hailu endured an exhausting 17-hour trip this summer to begin his sabbatical year at the University of Kentucky.

During this year, Hailu said he hopes to observe other doctors and learn more about cancer, his main field of interest, while working at UK’s College of Medicine.

“I was already considering a sabbatical, and in January of this year, (a representative from) the UK College of Medicine made a trip to Bahir Dar and eventually convinced me to come to Kentucky,” Hailu said.

Hailu is no stranger to Kentucky. He visited in 2014 and enjoyed a tour of UK’s campus. He said he was amazed by the “kindness and receptiveness” of the people. This time around, his trip is not for tourism, but to learn more about his field of pathology and observe the medical practices in the United States.

Hailu defines pathology as the “medical discipline focusing on diseases” with his personal focus being cancer diagnosis. His interest was sparked after seeing how so many women in his home country of Ethiopia were diagnosed with breast cancer at a stage too late due to inadequate technologies. Moved by the pain his community experienced, he has devoted a significant part of his career to breast cancer research, and it is something he has managed to observe in great detail during his first months in Lexington.

Though he has loved his time in Kentucky so far, he said he misses his family back in Ethiopia and is hoping his wife and three children can visit soon. Aside from the southern hospitality, Hailu said he loves the food in the Bluegrass and his favorite dish is grilled chicken and French fries.

When asked how he found his passion in pathology and cancer research, Hailu said it was as simple as wanting to help his home country with a problem that was taking many lives – breast cancer. As an expert in his field, Hailu offered a piece of advice to students who are interested in scientific research, “Look around and find the problem. The problem is something experienced largely by your community. Base your research on the problem and find the solution to help and empower your community.”


Next Steps

Dr. Carmel Wallace

UK Pediatrics chief honored by Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Bluegrass

The Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Bluegrass (RMHC) recently honored Dr. Carmel Wallace, chair of the UK Department of Pediatrics and physician-in-chief of Kentucky Children’s Hospital, with the 2016 Elizabeth Carey Nahra Legacy of Love Award.

The award recognizes an organization or individual whose exceptional contributions or projects have enabled the Ronald McDonald House of the Bluegrass to assist families of children hospitalized at Kentucky Children’s Hospital. Wallace founded the Helping Hands Fund, which supplements family donations to cover the charity’s operational costs through scholarships. The fund contributes $20,000 annually to the RMHC.

“Many of our Kentucky Children’s Hospital families reside in Eastern Kentucky and travel long distances to receive the best care possible for their child,” Wallace said. “The Ronald McDonald House Charities have provided support so parents can stay close to their children and have a place to lay their head at night. Covering the operational cost to stay at RMHC was an opportunity for us to make life a bit easier for these families.”

A native of Eastern Kentucky, Wallace has worked to ensure Eastern Kentucky families receive access to advanced pediatric care available at Kentucky Children’s Hospital. Through Wallace’s leadership, Kentucky Children’s Hospital has extended its presence in Eastern Kentucky by providing specialists and clinical services in rural communities.

Wallace accepted the award during the charity’s annual McDazzle Gala on Sept. 10. Recipients of the award are selected by the family of Elizabeth Carey Nahra, an advocate and former director of the Ronald McDonald House who passed away in 2015. Past recipients include Kentucky Children’s Hospital, Children’s Charity Fund of the Bluegrass and UK neonatologist Dr. Nirmala Desai.


Next steps:

  • When your child is sick or hurt, you want the best care possible, close to home. That’s exactly what you get at Kentucky Children’s Hospital. Learn more about our services.
  • KCH patients and their families share their stories. Read them here.
Dr. Kyrkanides, second from left, and his research team.

UK Dentistry dean aims for excellence through research

Twenty-five years ago, Dr. Stephanos Kyrkanides began a research project during his orthodontic residency studying children born with cleft lip and palate. It was this project that sparked the realization for him that research is crucial and has been a driving force throughout his career.

“It was through the cleft lip/palate project and others that I came to the realization that research is the main engine in producing new, original knowledge so we can advance our science, both in medicine and dentistry, in order to improve patient care,” Kyrkanides said.

Watch a video featuring Dr. Kyrkanides below.

Dean of the UK College of Dentistry, Kyrkanides is both a dentist and neuroscientist. He came to UK last year from Stony Brook University in New York, one of the leading public research institutions in the country.

Kyrkanides has many accomplishments including inventing Natural Enamel, a new biomaterial for use in restorative dentistry. He also collaborated with researchers from across the country, including Dr. Sabine M. Brouxhon from the UK College of Medicine Department of  Surgery, to develop a novel cancer drug while at the State University of New York that is licensed by COI Pharmaceuticals Inc., an Avalon Ventures/GlaxoSmithKline consortium.

Currently, Kyrkanides and his team are dedicated to researching regenerative dentistry and are working to prove that dental enamel and fillings can be made out of patients’ cells. This would eliminate having to use plastic, metal or glass for dental reconstruction.

Kyrkanides said being a researcher at UK has been a rewarding experience.

“Having joined UK from the east coast, I have realized that UK, as a campus, is the place to be as a researcher,” he said. “It offers many collaborative opportunities through its many centers, such as the Markey Cancer Center, an NCI designated center … the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging, the Center for Oral Health and many others. There’s probably no other place where all this activity happens on one campus.”

Kyrkanides has excelled during his career and continues to accomplish more goals at UK. He believes that he is in a great atmosphere for research and has big plans to further transform the school of dentistry.

“As dean of the college, I’m committed in leading UK Dentistry into its full potential,” he said. “What I realized from the beginning, is that we have a group of faculty, staff and students that are very talented, very motivated and willing to work hard to join me into making UK Dentistry the No. 1 dental school in the country, maybe in the globe.”


Next steps:

  • Learn more about UK Dentistry, which offers expert comprehensive dental treatment for the entire family, including general, orthodontic and oral surgery services.
  • Visit UK Dentistry on Facebook to stay up to date on community events, programs, treatments, research, new physicians and more.
What is atrial fibrillation?

What is atrial fibrillation? Our expert Dr. Ted Wright explains.

In honor of Atrial Fibrillation Awareness Month, we sat down with the UK Gill Heart & Vascular Institute’s Dr. Ted Wright to discuss the condition, how it’s treated and what you can do if you have it.

Watch our conversation with Dr. Wright below.

Atrial fibrillation, also known as AFib, is a type of irregular heartbeat. If left untreated, it can increase a person’s risk for stroke and heart failure.

Dr. Ted Wright

Dr. Ted Wright

Dr. Wright is a heart surgeon at the UK Gill Heart & Vascular Institute. He is UK’s leading expert in atrial fibrillation treatment and is the only doctor in the region performing the Mini-MAZE procedure, a surgical treatment for people with the condition.


Check out the first video in our interview series below where Dr. Wright explains what AFib is and how it’s diagnosed. Be on the lookout for more highlights from our conversation with Dr. Wright in the coming days.


Next steps:

  • The UK Gill Heart & Vascular Institute is a leader in diagnosing and treating abnormal heart rhythms, including AFib. Learn more about Gill’s Heart Rhythm Program.
  • Check out our Q&A with Dr. Wright about heart disease and African-Americans.
Jim Lester was in end-stage heart failure, but a doctor from the same hometown helped him to trust in a heart procedure that eventually saved his life.

Hometown connection leads to life-saving heart procedure

Jim Lester encourages others to listen to his heart. As you adjust the stethoscope’s earpieces and lean in, you hear an electronic whir and zing reminiscent of a video game. The sound that startles others makes Lester laugh. Apparently this is not the first time he’s unleashed this parlor trick.

Just two weeks prior, Lester was gravely ill, in end-stage heart failure, the result of a lifetime of repeated heart attacks (three), blood clots (four) and a stroke. His ejection fraction – a measure of the heart’s ability to pump blood – was less than 20 percent. A healthy person’s EF sits in the 50 to 70 percent range.

Lester remembers the conversation with Alexis Shafii, his physician at the Gill Heart Institute. “Dr. Shafii was straight to the point,” Lester remembers. “He said that I had to have an LVAD in order to survive.”

A left ventricular assist device, or LVAD, is a mechanical device that helps a weakened heart pump blood. “An LVAD doesn’t replace the heart,” said Dr. Maya Guglin, medical director of Mechanical Circulatory Support at the UK Gill Heart Institute. “It just helps it do its job.” However, Guglin was cautious. Implanting an LVAD requires open heart surgery and a lifetime of maintenance. It’s not a good fit for every patient.

A common connection

Lester was afraid of surgery. He kept asking whether there were any pills that could help him instead of this strange-looking machine. Then he met Sarah Branam, one of the three LVAD coordinators at the Gill.

“The team asked me to do some education with Jim, since he was very standoffish about the idea of having an LVAD,” Branam said. “I started discussing with him what his fears were with the LVAD, I just wanted to help relieve his concerns. And I always say, ‘Where are you from?’ and when he said, ‘Maysville, Kentucky,’ I was like, ‘Well, funny thing, so am I!'”

They bonded instantly. Lester knew Branam’s “Papaw,” Clarence Branam, and then knew he could trust Sarah. She understood Lester’s fear of the unknown, but she could also share her experiences with many patients with LVADs.

“I got to see patients go from being in the ICU, and being as sick as they are, to see them with quality of life: the stamina, no oxygen tank, being able to walk farther, getting back to what they wanted to do… it was just amazing,” Branam explained.

“I was awful scared, but after talking to Sarah and finding out she comes from Maysville, why, everything leveled out,” Lester said tearfully. “This little thing came in, and she would answer any questions I had, and took all my fears away.”

Even better: Lester qualified for a clinical trial to implant a new version of an LVAD called HeartMate 3.

The power of advanced medicine through clinical trials

According to Guglin, the HeartMate 3 is a tremendous improvement from its predecessor with a longer battery life, smaller profile and engineering that minimizes the potential for complications like blood clots and GI bleeds.

“That the Gill was included in this major clinical trial was a coup for us,” Guglin said. “It’s a signal that the cardiology world recognizes our expertise, our professionalism and our teamwork.”

And, Guglin adds, this also helps fulfill the heart institute’s academic mission, since high-profile trials like that for the HeartMate 3 expose Gill trainees to the newest available technology – technology that could become standard treatment by the time they are in their own practice.

On Aug. 8, Lester was implanted with the HeartMate 3. Everyone noticed immediately how improved he was.

“The biggest thing I saw about Jim before the surgery was how hard he was struggling to breathe. And the day after the breathing tube was pulled out, he did not need supplemental oxygen,” Branam said.

“It felt like I was getting too much oxygen,” Lester laughs.

A new lease on life

After a couple of weeks of recovery and therapy, Lester was discharged. What will he do with this new lease on life?

“Well, I aim to go home, sit on my front porch, watch the traffic go up and down the street, and hug my wife,” Lester said.

Lester was the Gill’s first HeartMate 3 patient, but three others followed within 10 days. This phase of the trial is now closed, but the UK will be involved in the next phase, a “Continued Access Protocol” that permits all qualifying patients to receive the HeartMate 3 while FDA approval is pending.

Based on her initial involvement with the HeartMate 3 trial, Guglin has great hopes for the device.

“It’s an amazing feeling when you come to see the patient next morning after the surgery and their skin color is different and there is life in them,” she said. “And when they are being discharged 10 days or two weeks later it’s gratifying to see how much they improved on your watch because of the intervention you were able to offer.”


Next Steps