African-American medical research

How can medical research better serve minority communities?

A researcher at UK is urging her fellow health scientists to take a more holistic and thoughtful approach when it comes to studying dementia and other diseases in Blacks/African-Americans.

Eseosa Ighodaro, PhD

Eseosa Ighodaro, PhD

Eseosa Ighodaro, PhD, a researcher at the UK Sanders-Brown Center on Aging, is the lead author of a new paper published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease that encourages health researchers to be proactive in addressing the challenges associated with studying dementia in Blacks/African-Americans.

The paper, co-authored by researchers at Sanders-Brown, the University of Washington, Rice University and Rush University Medical Center, assesses the barriers that hinder minority recruitment for dementia research and the misconceptions that potentially distort research results related to minority populations.

“This study helps to identify problems in dementia-related research that are both historical and ongoing,” said Peter Nelson, MD, PhD, who works at Sanders-Brown. “You cannot seek solutions effectively until you are forthright about the problems.”

Race vs. socioeconomic variable

The paper argues that using race as a variable in research can result in inaccurate data interpretation. The authors point to several studies exploring genetic ancestral markers and race self-identification to demonstrate that race is not a dependable substitute for genetics.

“Race is, in many senses, a social construct that evolves over time due to social policy, cultural beliefs and political practices, and that risks misinterpretation of the differences between individuals who identify with certain racial/ethnic groups,” Ighodaro said.

Instead, she suggested that socioeconomic status variables such as zip code, income level, education, access to medical care and other social determinants of health need to be included in data interpretation, pointing to two recent studies that demonstrated socioeconomic conditions were a better predictor of stroke risk and dementia than race.

Historical factors

Ighodaro also identifies the horrific and unethical biomedical experimentation on African-Americans that continued into this century as one of the culprits for the African-American community’s persistent mistrust of physicians and scientists.

As a result, some African-Americans, who fear they are “guinea pigs,” are less likely to participate in research or donate blood or other biospecimens, which can decrease Black/African-American representation in dementia research studies.

Furthermore, the paper asserts, there is a need for efforts to increase the “diversity of thought and identity” among scientists, which studies show will enhance the quality and output of research collaborations.

“Scientists need to think holistically about the determinants of health when studying underserved populations and break out of the conventional and erroneous mindset that genetics are the sole cause of health disparities,” Ighodaro said. “And we must acknowledge and address the historical horrific mistreatment of Blacks/African-Americans in biomedical research as a first step towards improved minority research recruitment.”

“These barriers to what’s called ‘better science’ won’t be easily abated,” she says, “but they are critically necessary to align the quality of our data with all the populations we serve – minority or otherwise.”

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breastfeeding latch

Breastfeeding? Try these tips for getting a perfect latch

Breastfeeding is a healthy choice for both you and your newborn, but learning how to do it successfully can be challenging.

One important aspect of successful breastfeeding is getting the proper latch. Here’s how to do it:

  • While holding your baby belly-to-belly, line them up nose-to-nipple and wait for them to open their mouth wide before attaching.
  • The latch should be deep enough that your nipple reaches to their soft palette. This will keep you from experiencing pain while nursing.
  • Your baby’s chin should touch your breast first. Their head will then tilt back.
  • Their lower lip will turn outward when they’re correctly attached.

Positions for breastfeeding

There are several positions you can use to feed your baby:

  • Laid back: This is similar to the skin-to-skin position. Lay back and use pillows to support you. Place your baby face-down between your breasts and allow them to move into position to attach. This is an easy first feeding position.
  • Cross-cradle: Place your baby on a pillow in your lap so they are at breast level. Place them tummy-to-tummy with you and line their nose up with your nipple. Support their head with your hand at the base of their skull. Form a C with your thumb and forefinger around your breast but away from your nipple. Once your baby latches on, you can release your breast and use this hand to help cradle your baby.
  • Football hold: This is position is great if you have had a Cesarean section, because it keeps pressure off your incision. Place your baby on a pillow at your side with their legs under your arm. Support their head and neck with your hand by sliding your hand under your baby’s back.
  • Side-lying: Lie on your side with pillows supporting you. Turn your baby toward you on their side facing your nipple. You may need to place your arm behind them for support. Line them up, nose-to-nipple.

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Dr. Eric Moghadamian

Broken bones of his own inspired this surgeon’s lifelong passion

Making the RoundsFor our latest Making the Rounds interview, we chatted with Dr. Eric Moghadamian, an orthopaedic trauma surgeon at UK HealthCare. Dr. Moghadamian is originally from Elizabethtown, Ky., and attended medical school at the University of Kentucky. 

What kinds of patients do you see?

I tend to see patients on their worst day, after they fall off a roof or they’re involved in a motor vehicle collision, motorcycle accident or even a sporting activity where they just break a simple bone.

My job is to put those folks back together and to restore them back to their normal function that they had prior to their accident.

How did you become interested in medicine?

During the course of my own sporting activities as a kid, I wound up breaking quite a few bones. And through my visits in and out of the doctor, I ended up having an affinity for orthopaedics. That’s kind of what set me on the path that I ended up following.

Are you a sports fan?

Oh yeah. I grew up playing soccer and baseball. I played sports in high school and some in college, and I still watch sports on a regular basis. I watch a lot of Premier League soccer and, of course, UK basketball and UK football.

What’s something that most people don’t know about you?

Most folks, in general, are surprised that I’m from Kentucky. They see my name, they see my picture and they tend to ask, “Where are you from?” And I’m like, “I grew up down the road.”

You have young kids – what’s your favorite part about being a dad?

It’s all good! The hugs are the best, I guess.

Check out our video interview with Dr. Moghadamian, where he explains how his team works to provide the best care possible for people with traumatic injuries.

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online bill payment

Online bill payment now available via My UKHealthCare portal

A new and much-requested service has been added to the My UKHealthCare patient portal: online bill payment.

To access online bill payment, simply log in to your portal account and choose “My Account” in the top right menu and then choose “Billing.”

The My UKHealthCare patient portal is a convenient, secure way for patients to connect with UK HealthCare through self-service online tools.

Don’t yet have a portal account? Be sure to provide an accurate email address at your next appointment. You can also request an account at Note that it may take up to three days after request for your portal account to be set up. Other portal benefits include:

  • Send a secure email message to your care team.
  • Request prescription renewals when it’s convenient for you, not just when our offices are open.
  • Request, cancel or reschedule appointments.
  • Pay your bill online.
  • View lab test results, radiology reports and office visit summaries.
  • Get health maintenance reminders.
  • View your immunization record and allergies.
  • See your healthcare provider’s notes from your clinic visits and discharge summaries for hospital stays.
  • View your hospital discharge instructions.

If you have questions about the medical information contained in your portal, please send a message to your care team via the portal’s messaging system. You may also call the appropriate clinic. For assistance with portal functionality, call 859-218-6221 or 844-820-7344 daily 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.

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Kip Guy malaria research

UK College of Pharmacy dean receives $5M for malaria research

UK College of Pharmacy Dean Dr. Kip Guy will use a $5 million award to develop an innovative drug that could provide a cure for patients with malaria and offer protection against the disease after treatment.

The additional funding comes from the Global Health Innovative Technology Fund (GHIT), and Guy will work with Eisai Pharmaceuticals and Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) in this ongoing research effort. This award from GHIT funds research over two years with Guy serving as the project’s principal investigator.

The innovative drug being developed by the research team is known as SJ733. This drug, in combination with one or more other antimalarial drugs, would potentially cure patients and could provide substantial protection after treatment. Malaria remains a global health problem, and growing resistance to available antimalarial drugs underscores the importance of discovering next-generation therapies.

“This award from GHIT will continue to support our research, and we’re excited about being able to take this promising drug through the next stages of development,” Guy said. “Despite being an entirely preventable and treatable disease, malaria still places 3.2 billion people at risk and is still the cause of almost half a million deaths each year. We want to see those numbers fall.”

The Phase IIa studies, undertaken in malaria patients, will set the stage for additional testing to determine appropriate combinations of malaria treatments, which will ultimately help those hit hardest by this disease, including children and pregnant women.

“We welcome GHIT’s sustained and generous support,” said Dr. Joerg Moehrle, head of Translational Medicine at MMV. “It is critical to the success of this promising research into novel antimalarial compounds. With Eisai and University of Kentucky, we have forged an excellent team fully committed to developing next-generation medicines with the ability to counter the growing threat of multidrug-resistant malaria and to save the lives of countless people at risk from this terrible disease.”

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Dr. Ken Campbell

UK physiologist runs 5k for 1,000 straight days to support heart care

On Saturday, Aug. 26, a crowd gathered to watch Dr. Ken Campbell run his 1,000th 5k in as many days. About 20 people joined Dr. Campbell on his run to help celebrate his achievement.

Dr. Ken Campbell

Dr. Ken Campbell

Campbell, a UK physiologist and researcher, began his running streak on Dec. 1, 2014, and has run at least five kilometers each day since then. He has logged miles through days of work, travel and sickness. He has continued his streak on the UK campus, in his neighborhood in Lexington, and around the world, including Australia, Britain, Mexico and New Zealand. When there was no other option, he ran on a treadmill in the Johnson Center.

Raising money for patient groups and research

It all began as a way to raise awareness and funds for UK HealthCare’s ventricular assist device (VAD) and transplant support group and the Campbell Muscle Laboratory.

Through his research, Campbell has developed a relationship with Heart to Heart (the UK HealthCare Cardiothoracic Transplant/VAD Support Group), which offers support to patients and families of patients who have undergone a heart transplant or the implantation of a VAD. VADs are mechanical pumps that support blood flow in weakened hearts. Donations to Campbell’s cause benefit both the patient support group and student-driven research at the Campbell Muscle Lab.

Campbell’s running highlights the importance of the work he and his team are doing. His group at the Campbell Muscle Lab study the causes of cardiac failure, and his run streak will also help raise money for important research that benefits heart patients at UK.

Ending the amazing streak

After 1,000 days, Campbell is ending his run streak. He will no longer feel the need to rise at 3 a.m. on travel days or go out in the rain just to make sure he gets a run in.

“I’m really pleased at the turnout we had today,” he said after his run on Saturday. “We had this mixture of scientists and clinicians from all levels, from lab staff to the chief of Cardiovascular Medicine. We’re all coming together to push forward research and the care of our patients.”

Dr. Ken Campbell and his supporters

Dr. Ken Campbell and a group of supporters celebrate his 1,000th consecutive day running five kilometers.

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toxic shock syndrome

Toxic shock syndrome can affect anyone. Know the symptoms.

Joanne Brown DNP, APRN

Joanne Brown DNP, APRN

Written by Joanne Brown, DNP, APRN, an adjunct instructor in the UK College of Nursing and women’s health nurse practitioner at University Health Service.

Toxic shock syndrome, or TSS, is a life-threatening illness that occurs when poisonous toxins are released into the bloodstream, potentially damaging skin tissue and harming vital organs, such as the lung, liver and kidney.

It’s important to remember that toxic shock syndrome can affect anyone. The disease can occur in women, men and children of all ages.

It was first reported in children in 1978, but it was later identified in women who were using tampons during their menstrual periods. However, after highly absorbent tampons were removed from the market, the number of TSS cases associated with the use of tampons has declined. In fact, 50 percent of TSS cases today are not associated with menstruation.

Risk factors, symptoms of toxic shock syndrome

Risk factors for TSS include:

  • Recent childbirth.
  • Skin infections, cuts and burns.
  • Wound infection after surgery.
  • Viral infections, such as the flu or chickenpox.
  • Use of contraceptive sponges, diaphragms, super-absorbent tampons, nasal packing and other foreign items.

Common symptoms of TSS are:

  • Sudden high fever.
  • A rash resembling a sunburn, especially on the palms and soles of the feet.
  • Peeling skin one to two weeks after the onset of acute illness.
  • Low blood pressure.
  • Redness of the eyes, mouth and throat.
  • Vomiting or diarrhea.
  • Seizures.
  • Confusion.
  • Headaches and muscles aches.

There is currently no test used to identify TSS. Clinicians can make a diagnosis based on a physical examination and the patient’s symptoms. Some examinations may include blood tests to check organ function or swab samples from the cervix, vagina and throat.

Treatment for TSS

Treatment includes removal of foreign bodies and drainage of infections. Patients may be prescribed antibiotics to fight bacterial infections in the body as well as dialysis, intravenous therapy and medicines to control blood pressure. Patients with a severe condition might need to stay in the hospital intensive care unit for monitoring.

Anyone who notices signs of TSS should see a doctor immediately, especially if the person has a wound or skin infection or has recently used tampons. TSS can cause severe health concerns, such as liver, kidney, and heart failure, and shock or reduced blood flow through the body. TSS is a medical emergency that can cause death if untreated.

TSS can reoccur. To lower the risk of menstrual TSS, avoid using highly absorbent tampons, change tampons frequently and alternate using tampons and sanitary napkins.

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opioid research

UK partners with Ky. counties to fight back against opioid epidemic

A UK College of Public Health researcher is using a $1.16 million grant to pursue effective interventions in the fight against opioid addiction in communities across 12 Eastern Kentucky counties.

The grant is a cooperative agreement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute on Drug Abuse, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and the Appalachian Regional Commission, and will be led by April Young, a researcher at the UK Center on Drug and Alcohol Research and the College of Public Health, and a co-principal investigator at Emory University.

From the start, the research team knew that success of the project would rely on the involvement of the communities where the research will take place. As Young and her co-principal investigator began to draft the research proposal, they sought support from organizations that operate in the region and leaders such as U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, who drafted a letter of support for the grant application.

“The more we learn about drug abuse and addiction, the more we can thoughtfully and strategically intervene to save lives and change the trajectory for families across Eastern Kentucky,” said Rogers, the co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Prescription Drug Abuse.

“I applaud the University of Kentucky for utilizing its powerful research resources to pinpoint the challenges we face in combatting opioid abuse in an effort to implement effective, lifesaving programs that can be sustained in our communities for generations to come.”

Understanding the opioid epidemic

The project, titled Kentucky Communities and Researchers Engaging to Halt the Opioid Epidemic (CARE2HOPE), includes both epidemiological and qualitative research that will be conducted by Young and her colleagues in the UK Center on Drug and Alcohol Research, Emory University and other partnering institutions.

The first two years of the five-year project will focus on better understanding opioid use and its context in the 12-county area that comprises Bath, Rowan, Elliott, Menifee, Morgan, Wolfe, Lee, Owsley, Leslie, Perry, Knot and Letcher counties.

Through interviews and surveys with the community, the team will collect information about resources and factors that impact access to treatment for opioid-use disorder as well as risks for related harm such as overdose, hepatitis C and HIV.

This collaborative effort is vital to developing intervention strategies, as those who live in these communities are the best source for identifying resources and factors that impede access to treatment and contribute to risk. During the first two years, the team will also work with communities to identify evidence-based community-response projects that meet their needs.

Pursuing long-term solutions

The final three years of funding, which is estimated to total about $3.25 million, is contingent on meeting milestones in the first two years. During the three-year intervention phase, the team will work with the community to implement and evaluate the evidence-based community-response projects.

Sustainability is at the forefront of the team’s efforts. The primary goal is to give communities the tools to continue programs that are implemented long after the research has been completed. After completing its data collection, the team will work with communities to identify and apply for additional funding to maintain programming.

A key strength of this initiative is the collaboration with other institutions, including the Harm Reduction Coalition, Kentucky Department for Public Health and other state departments and agencies, Boston University, the Gateway and Kentucky River District Health Departments, AIDS Volunteers, Inc., and other community leaders and organizations.

“It benefits these communities to have experts from across the country working to address the opioid epidemic,” Young said.

The power of collaboration

Hannah Cooper, associate professor in the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University and co-principal investigator, is familiar with Kentucky, having worked with Young on another project focused in and around Morehead, Ky. That project was her first opportunity to visit Eastern Kentucky.

“On my first trip, I was struck by both the devastating consequences of the local opioid epidemic and by the local community’s fierce commitment to stopping it,” Cooper said. “Whenever two institutions collaborate, you end up with a proposal that is stronger than it would have been with just a single institution.”

The UK team members for this project include Sharon Walsh, Jennifer Havens, Carrie Oser, Michele Staton and Michelle Lofwall, all faculty associates in the UK Center on Drug and Alcohol Research. The team has more than 40 years of combined experience in research on rural drug use, including in substance use disorder treatment, hepatitis C and HIV risk reduction and intervention in criminal justice settings.

UK team members were among the first to document the rise in opioid injection in Appalachia and have a history of highly productive collaborations with federal, state and local stakeholders in Appalachian Kentucky communities.

Next steps:

Simple medication errors can cause a dangerous overdose

Simple medication errors can cause a dangerous overdose

Dr. Clark Kebodeaux

Dr. Clark Kebodeaux

Written by Clark Kebodeaux, an assistant professor in the UK Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science.

It’s an unfortunate statistic: Kentucky ranks third in the nation in drug overdose deaths. Although much of this stems from opioid overdoses related to prescription or illicit drugs, the statistic covers all examples of drug overdose, including those from common medications you probably have stocked at home.

Nonprescription drugs, commonly referred to as over-the-counter (OTC) medications, play a crucial role in our nation’s healthcare system. The vast array of OTC drugs that are available to consumers serves to treat many common ailments, from simple aches and pains to dental care.

Although OTC medications promote the health of millions of people, their inappropriate use can cause unintentional harm.

Know your dosage

Knowing which ingredients are in the medicine you’re taking is crucial in avoiding an overdose. For example, one of the most common overdose culprits is acetaminophen, or Tylenol. When used at the appropriate dosage, acetaminophen can help reduce a fever or improve pain, but too much can cause serious side effects, including damage to the liver.

In addition to Tylenol, acetaminophen is also in many cough and cold products – both prescription and OTC. People may not be aware that acetaminophen is in these medications, which can lead to an accidental overdose. Always double-check the “drug facts” label on your OTC medications for active ingredients, and consult your pharmacist or healthcare provider to avoid using too much of any one medication.

Be careful with kids

Medication for children and infants poses another risk for overdose.

Regardless of the product, it is important to always use the measuring device – such as an oral syringe, dropper or dosing cup – that is included with the medication. Many of these products are uniquely designed for medicine, and using a spoon from home or an alternate form of measurement can result in an accidental overdose.

Talk to your pharmacist

One of the best ways to prevent an overdose is to talk to your pharmacist.

Pharmacists are excellent resources for drug information and can help reduce and prevent errors with medications. In particular, pharmacists can help you understand when and how to take your medications, their potential side effects and how to identify if two medications should not be taken together.

In an emergency, call Poison Control

If you suspect that you or someone else may have taken a medication incorrectly, call Poison Control immediately at 800-222-1222.

Each medication may have a different overdose treatment, and there are professionals available to help with each specific situation.

Next steps:

Kip Guy

Video: College of Pharmacy dean explains his research philosophy

He’s well-known now for his scientific discoveries in the lab, but UK College of Pharmacy Dean Kip Guy says he’s actually been performing experiments his entire life.

“As long as I could remember, I was always the kid out there poking the bug with a stick or playing with the pond, trying to understand what was happening and why,” he said.

As a professional chemist, Guy’s work focuses on drug discovery and development for neglected diseases, particularly those that affect pediatric patients. Coming to UK from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Guy has focused on fighting malaria, a major killer of children, as well as pediatric cancers including ependymoma, leukemias and medulloblastoma.

Although it was initially the “neat solutions” that attracted him to the field, Guy quickly learned that not even science provided easy black-and-white answers and that the work is never as simple as one might expect it to be. While researchers may have expectations of how an experiment may play out, they often learn more from the failures than if it had unfolded as planned.

“You’ve put in all this time and effort because your model told you ‘X’ was going to happen, and then you run the experiment and what you wind up with is something completely different,” he said. “These are the moments in science that are the most fun. … It’s when you break your own model and learn something fundamentally new.”

Coming to UK

As his research projects grew larger and more intensive over the years, Guy says he was looking specifically for a place where he could take a larger administrative role and begin mentoring the next generation in scientific discovery.

“I realized that one of the really big impacts we have is teaching,” he said. “So I wanted to be in a place where I could help combine the way we think about research – that interdisciplinary, interprofessional approach – with the way we teach not only research, but also clinical practice.”

As a scientist who focuses on drug development, the area of pharmacy seemed the most natural fit for Guy. He began searching for a dean position at a school that supported research collaboration with a focus on bringing new treatments to the community. He says he found “a perfect storm” at UK – a place known nationwide for its research excellence, its top-ranked College of Pharmacy and a local population in need of therapeutic intervention for a variety of serious health disparities.

“The first thing I’d say is, ‘Why wouldn’t you come here?'” Guy said. “It’s an incredible place, with amazing faculty and a long, rich and successful history of positively affecting clinical practice and the research world. … It’s about being in a place where I can work the way I want to work, with the kind of people who are here, and focusing on problems that are really serving unmet needs.”

Working for Kentucky

One example of Guy’s work having a potentially significant impact in the Commonwealth is a recently published study on research that could lead to new solutions to treat lung cancer by preventing cells from metastasizing. Kentucky ranks first in the nation in both lung cancer incidence and death, with the disease disproportionately affecting the Appalachian area of the state.

Lung cancer is one of the toughest cancers to treat – according to the National Cancer Institute, one out of every two patients diagnosed won’t survive past 12 months. Because this cancer is a disease characterized by metastatic growth, Guy says controlling that metastasis could be key to longer-term survival for lung and other cancers.

“For a lot of cancers, it’s not the primary tumor that kills you, it’s often the metastatic disease,” he said. “Being able to block that, if we can do it in a way that’s really effective and safe, could be a game changer.”

Guy has three major goals for the UK College of Pharmacy as he leads it into a new era – continue its tradition of innovation in both teaching pharmacy practice and pharmaceutical science and research; engage in even more interdisciplinary research across many different viewpoints; and emphasize the importance of a broadly inclusive and service-oriented culture at UK.

“We’re not just about working in the lab or the clinic,” Guy said. “We’re also about living in this community and doing well by it.”

Watch the video below to hear why Kip Guy came to UK and about his new findings on a compound that could block lung cancer.

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