Annual Walk to Remember set for Oct. 1 at UK Arboretum

This Sunday, Oct. 1, UK HealthCare’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and Labor and Delivery Unit will host the Walk to Remember at 4 p.m. at The Arboretum at the University of Kentucky.

Each year, about 100 families gather to mourn a loss from miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal death. The ceremony – open to all families who have suffered loss whether or not affiliated with UK – is a chance to remember and to ensure those children are never forgotten.

“This service provides a way for families to honor and remember their child and to let them know they are not alone in their grief,” said Michelle Steele, chair of the NICU/Labor and Delivery Bereavement Committee. “Many families didn’t have a funeral or service when their infant died through miscarriage or an early loss, and this is a way to help provide that closure and outlet for their grief.”

The event also reunites families with healthcare providers and staff members who provided compassionate care for their child. The walk occurs on Oct. 1 because October is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.

The Walk to Remember includes a craft table for children, a tree planting that includes an engraved memorial plaque, special readings and music, a balloon release, and the walk through The Arboretum.

Families who wish to can write a message to their baby and plant the message with the tree. The tree also includes an inscription and bronze plaque provided by UK HealthCare administration that reads, “In memory of your baby’s life, gone but still cherished. Your baby will always be remembered.”

“The walk has become an important annual event, and some families now come year after year and bring their children they have had since their loss so they can also remember and honor their lost sibling,” said Sandra Mojesky, divisional charge nurse in Labor and Delivery and a longtime committee member. “It is really meant as a time for healing and remembrance, and we hope anyone in the community who has suffered an infant loss will feel welcomed to attend.”

It is not necessary to register for the walk, but those who need additional information may contact the UK Pastoral Care Office at 859-323-5301.


Next steps:

Dr. Mark Newman

Video: Joining UK HealthCare is a homecoming for Dr. Newman

Don’t miss our video interview with Dr. Newman at the end of this blog post!

Dr. Mark Newman’s kids have grown up in North Carolina, where he has practiced medicine for nearly 20 years.

But when Newman talks about home, there’s no mistaking what he means.

“When I say let’s go home,” Newman said recently, “it has always been about going to Kentucky.”

Coming home has taken on even more importance to Newman as he recently assumed the pivotal leadership position as UK’s executive vice president for health affairs.

Newman now leads UK HealthCare, Kentucky’s largest healthcare system – a sprawling, $1.5 billion enterprise that will discharge nearly 40,000 patients this year, includes the state’s only nationally recognized cancer center and is forging partnerships throughout the Commonwealth to provide advanced, subspecialty care to those who need it most.

“I think when you see the kind of trajectory that UK HealthCare has been on, you see the opportunity to continue to drive a difference, to be able to reach out and be the university and the healthcare for Kentucky,” Newman said. “You see the opportunity to make that difference. What we’ve done has really put us on a firm foundation to continue to build and reach out to improve the healthcare of Kentucky.”

To that bold vision and direction, Newman brings a distinctive blend of skills, service and background.

He grew up on a family farm near Owensboro, Ky., was educated in Kentucky schools and universities and then served in the Air Force, where he says he received “leadership training in an environment where there’s an expectation that you’re going to learn and make mistakes.”

That environment included deployments in Operations Just Cause, Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

Since 1992, he has served at Duke University, most recently as president of the Private Diagnostic Clinic, one of nation’s leading physician practice plans. A former department chair and professor of medicine, Newman has published and practiced extensively as a cardiothoracic anesthesiologist.

It’s a career that has taken him to considerable professional heights and around the globe, serving his country during times of strife and need.

Now, he has been called to serve again – this time at the place he has always called home.

“This seems like kind of a dream come true for me,” Newman said. “At each step, you see the opportunities to reach out and help people. To make a difference. I’m excited to work to create an even greater vision and an even greater tomorrow, not only as part of this university, but for the entire state of Kentucky.”


Next steps:

Dr. Mark Newman

Welcome, Dr. Mark Newman!

UK HealthCare is excited to welcome Dr. Mark F. Newman as its new executive vice president for health affairs. He is responsible for UK HealthCare, the clinical enterprise of the University of Kentucky, and also oversees the UK College of Medicine in conjunction with the provost.

Newman joins UK from Duke University Medical Center, where he had a distinguished career in medicine, specializing in anesthesiology, as well as in healthcare management.

In joining UK, Newman is returning to his home state of Kentucky. He is an Owensboro native and grew up on his family’s farm in Ohio County. He earned his undergraduate degree in biology from Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green and went on to attend the University of Louisville College of Medicine on an Air Force Health Professions Scholarship. He earned a medical degree in 1985 and went on to residency training in anesthesiology at the U.S. Air Force’s Wilford Hall Ambulatory Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. He followed that with a fellowship in cardiothoracic anesthesiology and transesophageal echocardiography at Duke University Medical Center.

After completing his medical education, Dr. Newman returned to active duty in the Air Force and was deployed in Operations Desert Shield, Just Cause and Desert Storm. He also practiced anesthesiology at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center in San Antonio.

Later, at Duke, Dr. Newman served as chief of cardiothoracic anesthesiology, chair of anesthesiology, and chairman of the board and then-president of the Duke Private Diagnostic Clinic – Duke’s physician practice organization. He was named the Merel H. Harmel Distinguished Professor of Anesthesiology in 2005 and currently holds research grants of more than $10.5 million.

Newman is a prolific author of medical publications, chapters, editorials and books. He is a 2010 Alumni Fellow of the UofL School of Medicine and received the 2012 Duke Medical Alumni Association Distinguished Faculty Award.

He takes the helm at UK HealthCare during a period of rapid growth and expansion. UK HealthCare and the UK College of Medicine make up the Commonwealth’s largest academic medical center, offering advanced subspecialty care to the people of the state and the region and creating outreach programs throughout the state with the aim of giving people access to high-quality care close to where they live.

Newman and his wife, Susan, have three adult children.


Next steps:

UK College of Medicine-Northern Kentucky

St. Elizabeth gives $2.5M for UK College of Medicine scholarships

St. Elizabeth Healthcare will provide a gift of $2.5 million to support a tuition scholarship program for the UK College of Medicine-Northern Kentucky campus. Through this gift, scholarships will be awarded to medical students enrolled at the Northern Kentucky campus, which is scheduled to open in the fall of 2019.

The affiliation between UK, Northern Kentucky University and St. Elizabeth Healthcare was announced in February. This scholarship program is the next step in the development of a regional medical college in Northern Kentucky.

“In providing these scholarships, we are making an enormous investment in the future of the health of our community,” said Garren Colvin, St. Elizabeth president and CEO. “With our partnership with the University of Kentucky, we will be able to provide additional benefits to both organizations as well as the region and Commonwealth by directly assisting in medical school support and recruitment for the Northern Kentucky campus.”

These scholarships will be provided to medical students who meet the following criteria:

  • Enrolled as medical students at the UK College of Medicine-Northern Kentucky campus.
  • Meet the college’s financial need requirements.
  • Remain in good academic standing and progress toward completion of the medical degree.
  • Maintain continuous, full-time enrollment at the Northern Kentucky campus

“This scholarship program, seeds sown in ground made fertile by a willingness to care for others, will ripple through many generations of health practitioners,” said UK President Eli Capilouto. “We are grateful to St. Elizabeth’s leadership and the donors who support this remarkable gift, one that will directly support medical students, and ultimately the patients whose names the donors may never know. That is the highest form of giving, and it is the highest honor we can receive as a partner in this endeavor.”

Increasing the number of physicians in the Commonwealth will increase healthcare access for residents, which will improve the health of Kentuckians. Kentucky leads the nation in cancer and chronic lower respiratory disease rates and also ranks sixth in heart disease, seventh in diabetes and eighth in stroke.


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Dr. Michael Karpf

Karpf honored for his leadership, dedication to UK HealthCare

Members of the UK HealthCare and UK communities gathered on Sept. 13 to honor the career and leadership of UK Executive Vice President for Health Affairs Dr. Michael Karpf as he prepares to complete his last week in the role he has held for the past 14 years. Dr. Mark Newman will begin his post as the new EVPHA beginning Sept. 18.

“It’s a pleasure to honor an individual who has so deeply impacted our campus and our Commonwealth,” UK President Eli Capilouto said. “Thanks to his vision and his leadership, we now ensure that Kentuckians with complex illnesses do not have to leave the state to receive top-quality care.”

Under Karpf’s leadership, UK has invested close to $2 billion for faculty recruitment, program development, technology acquisition and facilities, while also fostering partnerships with leading regional health providers across the state to extend care to those who need it most.

Since being recruited to UK in 2003 from UCLA, Karpf has developed advanced subspecialty care programs comparable to those available at the nation’s very best referral, research-intensive academic medical centers. This has been achieved in great part through the recruitment of outstanding physicians and aggressively built, nationally competitive tertiary and quaternary programs, which have grown dramatically both in volume and quality.

Karpf plans to transition to a part-time faculty position working on health service and health policy issues and plans to stay involved in the Arts in Healthcare program.

“Our journey together from a small academic medical center (AMC) to one of the nation’s larger AMCs has certainly been challenging yet significantly more rewarding than I could have ever imagined,” Karpf said. “Ellen and I cherish the wonderful friends we have made here, and we intend to continue to make this our home.”

In addition to focusing on advanced subspecialty care on campus, Karpf has also strived to develop strong relationships with community providers by expanding and improving the services they can offer. The culmination of these efforts has been the launching of the Kentucky Health Collaborative, 10 major systems in Kentucky comprising more than 50 hospitals working together to deliver value-based care – producing the best outcomes at the highest level of efficiency.

Check out some photos from Dr. Karpf’s celebration!


Next steps:

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.”


Next steps:

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 myukhealthcare.org. 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.


Next steps:

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.”


Next steps:

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:

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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