This year's CCTS conference acknowledges the significant challenges of translating knowledge into new interventions for individual and community health.

UK conference highlights impact of research on community health

The UK Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCTS) this week hosted its 12th Annual Spring Conference highlighting the impact that collaborative team science can have in bringing translational medical research to communities across Appalachia.

The conference brought more than 800 researchers, clinicians, students and partners to Lexington to discuss this year’s theme of “Clinical Trial Networks and Team Science: Moving Discoveries to Interventions.” The CCTS, funded by a Clinical and Translational Science Award from the National Institutes of Health, hosts the conference each year to share science and enhance research collaborations.

The CCTS doesn’t focus on any one type of disease, but instead provides pilot funding, a spectrum of research support services, and training and education to accelerate discoveries related to health issues affecting Kentucky and Central Appalachia.

This year’s conference theme acknowledges the significant challenges of translating knowledge into useful interventions for individual and community health, a process that often takes years or decades. Multidisciplinary research teams and networks of clinical trials, however, can quicken the process by combining expertise and leveraging existing research systems.

“In the not-so-distance past, ‘medical research’ conjured the image of a single investigator, alone in their lab with a microscope,” said Dr. Philip A. Kern, director of the CCTS. “But as research methods have become more specialized and health problems more complex, multidisciplinary collaboration is critical to gaining new knowledge and turning discoveries into new interventions. Combining the expertise of multiple specialties and bridging our work across the clinic, the lab and communities is essential to making real advancements to improve health.”

Reflecting the importance of a multidisciplinary approach, the conference was held in conjunction with the UK College of Dentistry Research Day, the UK College of Engineering Biomedical Research Day, the UK College of Health Sciences Research Day​, the UK College of Nursing Scholarship Showcase, the UK College of Public Health Research Day and the UK MD/PhD Program Research Day.

Representatives from Marshall University, a partner of the CCTS in the Appalachian Translational Research Network, were also in attendance, as were colleagues from the UK Center for Excellence in Rural Health.

A special ‘thank you’ to Dr. Lowe

A special recognition award was presented to Jane S. Lowe, PhD, administrative director of the CCTS, who is retiring after more than 25 years of academic and research administration.

“Dr. Lowe has been at the heart and soul of the CCTS since its inception, and will be forever linked with our center,” Kern said. “Over the years, as members of the leadership of the center and of the university have come and gone; as faculty, staff and students have traversed its waters; as local and national policies and priorities have changed  the one true constant of the UK CCTS has been Jane Lowe. She has faithfully served as an intrepid founder, an exacting archivist, an unrelenting challenger and our most ardent supporter. Without reservation I can say that Dr. Lowe’s leadership has been at the core of every success of the CCTS.”


Next steps:

  • Learn how a $19.8 million grant from the NIH has put CCTS in elite company among research institutions across the country.
  • Researchers are working hard to identify new treatments and strategies to improve health, but they need healthy participants and those with medical conditions to participate in clinical studies. Find out how you can participate in clinical research at UK HealthCare.
UK Advanced Eye Care clinic now open.

UK Advanced Eye Care clinic opens in Shriners building

UK Advanced Eye Care opened the doors of its new clinic this week, ushering in a new era of expert ophthalmic care in Kentucky.

UK Advanced Eye Care, formerly located at the Kentucky Clinic, now occupies the fourth and fifth floors of the new Shriners Hospital for Children Medical Center  Lexington building. The Shriners building is located at 110 Conn Terrace, across the street from the UK Albert B. Chandler Hospital. The new state-of-the-art clinic will be the flagship location for advanced ophthalmic care, research and education in Kentucky.

Designing a patient-friendly space

The patient-centered clinic is designed for ease of navigation and convenience. Patients can park in the UK HealthCare parking garage on Transcript Avenue and reach Shriners directly via a pedway located at Level C of the parking garage. Once inside the Shriners building, patients will take the elevator to the fourth or fifth floor, depending on where their appointment is.

Both clinic floors offer spacious reception areas for patient registration. The fifth floor, where pediatric specialists see patients, includes a playroom and resources for children and families.

The space is designed to move patients through testing and procedures efficiently in a pleasing and private environment. The new clinic has nearly double the number of exam rooms as the previous clinic, allowing our providers to care for more patients each day and offer shorter wait times.

UK HealthCare Optical is located near the fifth-floor lobby for patients who wish to purchase their eyewear on location. It offers a special section of pediatric eyewear for UK’s youngest patients. The fifth floor accommodates the administrative offices for faculty and staff. It also includes dedicated teaching space for residents and medical students, including a surgical skills lab and a medical library.

Dr. Julia Stevens, a provider at UK Advanced Eye Care, works with a pediatric patient.

Improving care with advanced medicine

UK Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences has long offered patients access to the most current and leading-edge technology for enhanced treatment. The clinic recruits elite physicians, researchers and scientists to support its clinical services, education and research program.

“UK has a long-standing commitment to world-class biomedical research, contributing to several major scientific discoveries and medical advances in the past few decades,” said Dr. Mark Kleinman, an ophthalmologist at UK Advanced Eye Care. “Our laboratories developed the first intraocular drug implants to treat vision-threatening eye infections and inflammation, engineered the first RNA-targeted therapeutics for the treatment of advanced dry macular degeneration, and identified several new biomarkers for age-related retinal diseases. We continue to build on these important and exciting research programs to improve our abilities to cure blindness and provide the most leading-edge eye care to our patients.”

UK’s research efforts related to pediatric eye care were recently given a boost with the addition of advanced pediatric electroretinogram, or ERG, equipment thanks to a gift from the Susan Bradley-Cox Tri For Sight program. This important equipment will allow full evaluation without sedation of children with unexplained vision loss, providing better understanding of genetic eye diseases for both research and clinical care.

Where people want to go

UK Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences sees about 60,000 patients each year for everything from preventive eye care to treatment for the most challenging ocular diseases.

“The new clinic will gives us the infrastructure we’ve needed to meet the high-quality care that we already provide,” said Dr. Andrew Pearson, chair of UK Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences. “We want to be the place that people of the state and region want to go to for complex eye care.”

UK has the largest multispecialty eye care group based solely in Kentucky. In addition to the clinic on the main medical campus in Lexington, UK has multiple outreach clinics throughout the state and works with community providers to offer the most comprehensive eye care available. Outreach clinic locations include Campbellsville, Corbin, Harlan, Lexington, London, Maysville, Nicholasville, Morehead, Paris, Richmond and Somerset.


Next steps:

precision medicine symposium

Video: Markey hosts inaugural Precision Medicine Symposium

The UK Markey Cancer Center on Wednesday hosted its inaugural Precision Medicine Symposium, aimed at teaching oncology healthcare providers how to implement precision medicine into their clinical practice.

Precision medicine in cancer treatment focuses on understanding genetic mutations and using those mutations to select the best therapy for patients. Precision medicine is one of the recommendations highlighted by the White House Cancer Moonshot’s Blue Ribbon Panel. Presentations at Wednesday’s symposium included discussions about oncogenomic testing, Markey’s new Molecular Tumor Board, clinical trials and more.

Attending the symposium were more than 190 providers, including oncologists, hematologists, pathologists, radiologists, oncology nurses, researchers, pharmacists, genetic counselors, and cancer center administrators and leaders representing more than 20 different medical centers and healthcare entities across the region.

Breakout sessions allowed providers to meet in smaller groups with presenters and ask questions about precision-medicine issues, such as payment and reimbursement for Molecular Tumor Board recommendations.

The symposium concluded with a keynote speech from Dr. Shridar Ganesan, chief of molecular oncology at the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey.

“This event is so important because we want to bring precision medicine to all patients with cancer in Kentucky,” said Jill Kolesar, PhD, co-director of the Markey’s Molecular Tumor Board. “We’re bringing together clinicians and scientists to bring initiatives from the Markey Cancer Center to the entire Commonwealth of Kentucky.”

Watch a video below for more highlights from this exciting event.


Next steps:

After experiencing a life-changing car accident, Baylee Booth underwent a miraculous recovery, allowing her to return to cheerleading.

Ky. high school cheerleader honored by UK Sports Medicine

A high school cheerleader who, in 2014, was severely injured in a car crash, has been named the UK Sports Medicine Comeback Athlete of the Year.

In June 2014, Baylee Booth, now a senior at Russell Independent High School in Greenup County, was in a car accident that changed her life. The accident left her with head trauma and multiple skull and facial fractures. She was in a coma for almost a week. The Comeback Player of the Year Award is given to a student-athlete who has overcome adversity that affected their ability to participate in Kentucky High School Athletic Association-sanctioned sports.

After the crash, Booth had to relearn how to walk, speak and feed herself. In the fall of 2014, Booth was able to return to the sport she loved – cheerleading. During the 2015-16 cheer season, Booth participated in competitions and was on the sideline cheering for her team at every game, including the girls state basketball tournament. She’s even back to stunting and tumbling practice twice a week.

“I would like to dedicate this award to people that have supported me since my TBI [traumatic brain injury]. Without my coaches, teachers, teammates, family, friends and countless medical professionals, I would not be here today,” Booth said. “They never gave up on me, and I would like to thank each and every one.”


Next steps:

To increase the number of preventive colorectal screenings, the UK Markey Cancer Center will follow a National Cancer Institute (NCI) initiative.

Markey joins national colorectal cancer screening initiative

The UK Markey Cancer Center is joining a National Cancer Institute (NCI) initiative aimed at improving colorectal cancer screening rates among men and women aged 50 and older from racially, ethnically and geographically diverse communities.

The national Screen to Save (S2S) Colorectal Cancer Outreach and Screening Initiative is led by the NCI’s Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities.

Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men and women combined. Kentucky’s mortality rate is among the highest in the country, and more than 800 people in the state die from the disease each year.

Markey’s Mindy Rogers, a community health educator, will collaborate with state and regional organizations and community stakeholders throughout Appalachian Kentucky to conduct the initiative’s culturally tailored education and outreach.

“Colorectal cancer is a screenable cancer. The earlier we can find the disease, the better the chances of survival,” Rogers said. “The intent of this initiative is to provide additional community and regional resources to aid our efforts to improve cancer screening rates and save lives. The S2S effort complements many of our existing colorectal cancer outreach programs conducted by colleagues at Markey and its affiliates, the Kentucky Cancer Program and our local health departments.”

S2S stems from research recommendations from the Cancer Moonshot Blue Ribbon Panel and will be supported by the Geographic Management of Cancer Health Disparities Program Region 1 North, led by Dr. Mark Dignan, the co-leader of Markey Cancer Prevention and Control.


Next steps:

Empowering those in our community affected by Down syndrome

Written by Traci Brewer, executive director of the Down Syndrome Association of Central Kentucky (DSACK). UK HealthCare is proud to support DSACK and many other community organizations.

Today, March 21, is World Down Syndrome Day. Why? Because it’s 3/21, and people with Down syndrome have three copies of the 21st chromosome. That means they have 47 chromosomes instead of the typical 46, so we like to say they have a little something extra.

A lot has changed over the years for people with Down syndrome and for those who help care for them. As recently as the 1980s, individuals with Down syndrome had an average life expectancy of 25. Today, thanks to better medical treatments and screening, people with Down syndrome can live well into their 60s.

Education has also changed dramatically. As recently as the 1980s, families were told to institutionalize their loved ones with Down syndrome because they would never be able to read, write, talk, or contribute anything of value to their family or society. Today, right here in Kentucky, people with Down syndrome are attending college, working in meaningful jobs, driving, dating, volunteering in their communities and living productive, meaningful lives.

Organizations such as the Down Syndrome Association of Central Kentucky provide support for new families and empower self-advocates and their families by providing important information such as early math and literacy learning, financial planning, Individualized Education Plans consulting, career planning, and much more. One of our most exciting initiatives is We Work!, a multiphase program for students age 15 and older that teaches job skills, leadership skills, how to explore career opportunities and how to serve as peer mentors.

Recently someone said that DSACK has a great story to tell and many more chapters to be written. We still have more milestones to reach, more bridges to cross and many more chapters to write. You can learn more about us by visiting our website at www.dsack.org and by visiting our Facebook page, the Down Syndrome Association of Central Kentucky.


Next steps:

UK Markey Cancer Center and the Neuroendocrine Cancer Awareness Network will host the 2017 Neuroendocrine Cancer Patient Conference on Saturday, April 22.

Markey to host major conference on neuroendocrine cancer

For the 120,000 patients in the U.S. already living with neuroendocrine cancer, the sudden flushing or recurring stomach aches aren’t symptoms of common ailments. Sometimes they are indications of the rarely-understood neuroendocrine cancer. The UK Markey Cancer Center, in conjunction with the Neuroendocrine Cancer Awareness Network (NCAN), will host the 2017 Neuroendocrine Cancer Patient Conference on Saturday, April 22, in order to provide support and information for those dealing with this disease.

Centered around educating neuroendocrine cancer patients, family members and caretakers, the conference features presentations on recently published information by Markey specialists Dr. Lowell Anthony, Dr. Riham El Khouli and Dr. Aman Chauhan, as well as nationally known neuroendocrine expert Dr. Larry Kvols.

“Because neuroendocrine cancers are relatively rare, many cases of neuroendocrine cancer are misdiagnosed or incorrectly treated,” Anthony said. “It’s our goal to help patients across the country dealing with this disease. This conference is designed specifically for them, with useful information they can use to be an advocate for their own healthcare.”

Specific points of discussion will include the recently FDA-approved drug telotristat ethyl (Xermelo) along with other emerging therapeutics options for managing neuroendorcine tumors and cardinomas. Afternoon sessions include personal presentations from patients on their experiences with the disease, as well as a support group session.

For NCAN president Maryann Wahmann, the conference also provides an opportunity to show patients dealing with neuroendocrine cancers that they’re not alone in their battle.

“Doctors are taught, ‘when you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras,’ ” said Wahmann. “But more than 12,000 times a year in the U.S., the diagnosis proves that those hooves belong to a zebra.”

The conference runs 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. on April 22 at the Griffin Gate Marriott Resort & Spa in Lexington, Ky. To purchase tickets, visit the NCAN registration page.


Next steps:

  • Thanks to our world-class treatment, research and providers, the UK Markey Cancer Center is the only NCI-designated center in Kentucky.
  • In his Making the Rounds interview, Dr. Anthony told us that working at Markey is incredibly rewarding due to its multidisciplinary approach and patient care. Read the full interview.

This week’s Gallery Hop features artwork from UK HealthCare, Eastern State patients

Patients from the UK Markey Cancer Center and Eastern State Hospital are getting the unique opportunity to feature their artwork during this week’s LexArts Gallery Hop.

The exhibit is part of a program called CREATE, which was founded in partnership by the Lexington community, UK Arts in HealthCare and the UK School of Art and Visual Studies. CREATE aims to expand, promote and raise awareness about the ways in which art positively affects health and wellness. Named “Expressions of Hope and Healing through the Arts,” the Gallery Hop exhibit will be open from 5-8 p.m. this Friday at Arts Place, located at 161 N. Mill St. in Lexington.

In addition to the visual art exhibit, staff and faculty from the School of Art and Visual Studies will demonstrate innovative art applications for enhancing the quality of life for people with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Following the Gallery Hop exhibit, CREATE will host a panel discussion from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 18 at Arts Place. Panelists will discuss their approaches to healing through the arts. The panelists include art therapist Fran Belvin, music therapist Austin Robinson, psychologist Gary Stewart, art historian Linda Stratford, Arts in HealthCare specialist Jason Akhtarekhavari and moderator Jesse Mark.

The public is invited to participate with questions and comments. There is no charge for the event, and attendees may bring lunch to enjoy during the discussion.

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Next steps:

Pneumonia in Bangladeshi children is pandemic, and their current healthcare model makes it difficult to treat. But KCH's Dr. Fuchs may have a solution.

UK pediatrician uses his expertise to save children in Bangladesh

In developing countries, pneumonia is the leading cause of disease-related death in children ages 5 and younger, accounting for more than 1 million deaths a year. Most of the world’s pediatric pneumonia cases are condensed to Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, including Bangladesh, where the disease is pandemic.

Bangladeshi children diagnosed with pneumonia also often suffer from malnutrition, an undertreated condition that increases the likelihood of death from pneumonia. In developing countries, more than half of all pediatric deaths in children younger than 5 are associated with a moderate to severe malnutrition diagnosis. If both conditions are not treated, children are susceptible to recurrent pneumonia and further health complications that can lead to death.

Now, after years of researching this problem, Dr. George Fuchs, a pediatric gastroenterologist at Kentucky Children’s Hospital, is working to improve the care Bangladeshi children receive and to reduce the number of deaths related to pneumonia and malnutrition.

Through his research, Fuchs found barriers in the Bangladesh healthcare system that delayed care for children suffering from severe pneumonia and underlying nutritional deficiencies. A scarcity of hospital beds, limited pediatric resources and practical barriers  such as the burden of hospitalization on the family  prevent children from receiving sufficient treatment for both conditions. Fuchs and collaborators at the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh, with funding from UNICEF and UBS Optimus Foundation, proposed a solution to address these health system barriers and decrease child mortality in Bangladesh.

The Day-Care Approach

Fuchs, who has studied nutritional deficiencies and interventions in developing countries since the late 1980s, is conducting a multisite trial to evaluate the effectiveness of a treatment method called the Day-Care Approach (DCA). This new pediatric care model responds to a lack of hospital beds and pediatric resources by diverting children with severe illness to outpatient, or day-care, clinics.

These day-care clinics provide safe and effective therapies for severe forms of pneumonia and malnutrition, as well as diarrhea and other common illnesses, during the daytime hours. Previous studies in controlled settings have shown the success of the DCA model in treating severe pneumonia and malnutrition. Compared with traditional hospital care, the DCA system model reduces healthcare costs by a third. Fuchs and his colleagues are now testing a scaled-up version of the DCA model in the Bangladesh healthcare system.

“I realized these children were not getting treatment, and these are really sick kids, so I said, ‘Let’s at least try something else with an outpatient approach,’” Fuchs said. “It has to be better than the alternative, which is no care.”

Since January 2015, Fuchs has collected and analyzed outcome data from patients treated in the DCA model and compared it to data from patients in the existing model of hospitalized care. In the existing healthcare system, community health workers identify children with pneumonia and refer them to local health clinics, where their symptoms are categorized as moderate or severe. Those children in the moderate category are sent home with 48-hour antibiotics.

However, children presenting to the local clinic with severe pneumonia and those who fail the 48 hours of antibiotics are sent to the hospital for supportive therapies, such as airway suction, fluids, nutrition, antibiotics and constant oversight.

In the DCA model, children receive the same initial treatment, with community health workers locating pneumonia cases and determining severity. What’s different is that children with severe pneumonia or those who fail antibiotics at home are sent directly to the day-care clinic, where they receive supportive therapies throughout the day. They then return to their homes in the evening and come back for care the following morning. Hospitalization occurs only if the treatment available through the day-care service fails.

According to Fuchs, an initial set of studies over 10 years indicates the DCA model is a viable and sustainable system with the potential to reduce the rates of pediatric mortality caused by pneumonia and malnutrition. The DCA model is also much less costly for both the health system and for families seeking treatment. While data collection is ongoing for the current trial, Fuchs is encouraged by the preliminary analysis.

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DCA model overcomes barriers to care

The DCA system also proved more feasible and desirable for Bangladeshi families. In the traditional Bangladeshi household, the mother cares for multiple children throughout the day while the father works outside the home. As the primary caregivers, mothers confront practical barriers to accessing treatment for one child. The DCA system delivers advanced care so a child doesn’t require a burdensome and costly hospital stay, which families avoid to the point of not seeking treatment.

“The underlying problem is there are not enough hospital beds,” Fuchs said. “Another obstacle is mothers are required to stay with children in the hospital, but they often leave against medical advice or won’t go in the first place because of other important family responsibilities at home.”

Fuchs said health workers in Bangladesh have embraced the DCA intervention as a beneficial treatment system for pediatric pneumonia. If it’s successful on a larger scale, the cost-effective DCA model holds the promise of reducing the occupancy of scarce pediatric beds in regional hospitals, which can be used for children with other illnesses. Fuchs and his collaborators are working with government officials and Bangladeshi health agencies to implement the system as a viable and sustainable replacement for the existing pediatric care system.


Next steps:

Uncontrolled bleeding is the leading cause of preventable death from trauma. Severe bleeding can lead to death well before paramedics can respond.

In an emergency, follow these steps to stop severe bleeding in others

Hannah Anderson, PA

Written by Hannah Anderson, physician assistant for UK HealthCare Trauma & Acute Surgery, and Amanda Rist, injury prevention/outreach coordinator for UK HealthCare Trauma & Acute Care Surgery.

Uncontrolled bleeding is the leading cause of preventable death from trauma. Severe bleeding can result in death within minutes, before paramedics have a chance to respond. In some cases, the difference between life and death for the victim of an incident is the bravery of a bystander.

How to stop severe bleeding

Research suggests bystanders with little or no scientific training can save lives during an emergency situation. Just like responding to respiratory distress with CPR or intervening with an automatic defibrillator (AED) during cardiac arrest, compressing a wound after a traumatic injury improves the chances of survival for trauma victims. You can turn bystander helplessness into heroism by remembering the following actions:

  • Make sure the scene is safe and call 911. You cannot help anyone if you become injured, so be sure to do this before attending to an injured person.
  • Find the source of the bleeding and apply firm, steady pressure with both hands. If you have a first-aid kit, use safety gloves and cover the wound with a clean bandage. In the absence of a clean cloth, pack the wound using a shirt or cloth.
  • Continue applying pressure until first responders arrive.

Class offering: ‘Stop the Bleed’

Members of the UK HealthCare trauma program are offering a course called Stop the Bleed, an initiative developed by the American College of Surgeons and The Hartford Consensus to train the public. Classes are open to anyone in the community interested in developing life-saving skills, and the first classes will be held at Tates Creek High School on March 28-29. Contact amanda.rist@uky.edu for more information about hosting a class free of charge.

You can learn more tips to Stop the Bleed at http://www.bleedingcontrol.org.


Next steps:

  • The UK HealthCare trauma program is one of only three American College of Surgeons accredited Level 1 Trauma Centers serving Kentucky. Find out more.
  • Learning CPR is important for anyone, and it can be the difference between someone living and dying. Are you familiar with CPR’s five steps? Visit our website to find out.