UK HealthCare anesthesiologist Dr. Rae Brown has led the FDA advisory committee since last year, providing expert recommendations on opioid regulation.

UK anesthesiologist brings expertise to FDA’s opioid review committee

Raeford E. Brown Jr., MD, FAAP

UK HealthCare anesthesiologist and professor Dr. Rae Brown has led the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory committee since last year, providing expert recommendations on opioid regulation and developing strategies to mitigate opioid risks in society.

In July 2016, Brown was named chair of the FDA Advisory Committee on Analgesics and Anesthetics. He was nominated to serve on the committee by the Commissioner of FDA in 2015 and served on the committee for a year prior to being named chair.

The committee is composed of physicians and scientists from across the nation with expertise in anesthesiology, opioid pharmacology, clinical research and epidemiology. The advisory committee meets monthly at FDA headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Tackling the opioid crisis

During the past year, the committee has reviewed risk mitigation strategies that serve as a major agency response to the current opioid crisis. In addition, the committee has evaluated 10 abuse deterrent formulations of opioids, discussed the risks and benefits of increasing the availability of naloxone – a drug to treat opioid overdose – and reviewed the risks of codeine in the pediatric population. Brown said the committee is cautious and deliberate in scrutinizing every product reviewed for the market, as the availability of new opioids can make the ongoing epidemic in America much worse.

“My first question is, ‘Is it safe?’” Brown said of reviewing opioid deterrents presented to the committee. “Is it a safe medication for the group it is marketed to, and is it effective? My second question is, ‘Do the data support whether or not it has a real deterrent properties that are going to stand up to all the chemists in the U.S.?’ ”

Developing new clinical trials for pediatric patients

In September 2016, Brown served as the chair of an FDA symposium on the lack of clinical trials demonstrating the safety and effectiveness of opioids in infants, especially the premature. Brown, a professor of pediatric anesthesiology, is now involved in the development of an international consortium designed to provide large numbers of pediatric patients for unique safety trials.

Brown will serve as the chair of this committee for three more years. He also currently serves as the chair-elect of the Section on Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine of the American Academy of Pediatrics and will be appointed chair in November of 2017.


Next steps:

  • At the National Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit in Atlanta, UK clinicians, researchers and health policy leaders led discussions on how to combat the opioid drug crisis.
  • Surgical procedures, both major and minor, require pain management. UK Anesthesiology & Pain Management provides comprehensive anesthesiology services following surgeries, as well as for chronic and cancer-related symptoms.
Gilson Capilouto, PhD, along with Tommy Cunningham, PhD, created a device that can measure and improve neonatal feeding, which some infants struggle with.

First-of-its-kind infant feeding device gets its start at UK

Since the early days of her career, Gilson Capilouto, PhD, has been interested in pediatric feeding, but it wasn’t until she joined the UK’s multidisciplinary team in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) that she became especially interested in feeding challenges for children who are born early or with illnesses. Around 15 million babies are born prematurely in the U.S. each year, and up to 70 percent of them, as well as about 10 percent of full-term babies, experience difficultly transitioning to oral feeding.

“My interest in neonatal feeding began in earnest when I came to UK 15 years ago. It seemed a natural extension of the work I was doing as part of the UK NICU multidisciplinary team, following high-risk infants after they’re discharged from the hospital,” Capilouto said.

Feeding is important for a baby’s nutrition, of course, but it also has implications for long-term development and eating. Neonatal sucking is considered the most complex behavior of a newborn. Research suggests that infant sucking may provide an early window into the overall integrity of the central nervous system, possibly predicting long-term neurodevelopmental outcomes. Studies have shown that early sucking correlates with overall development at six months, one year and two years. Infant feeding problems can also spill over into eating difficulties with solid food, especially in cases where feeding might have been an unpleasant experience during infancy, and can cause great distress for caregivers.

Skip ahead a few years, and Gilson and her business partner Tommy Cunningham, PhD, now run an award-winning company, NFANT Labs, LLC, based on a device they developed to measure the strength and coordination of an infant’s ability to suck. The device, called the nfant Feeding Solution, is essentially a “smart” baby bottle that uses low-energy Bluetooth technology and a mobile app to provide immediately actionable information about what’s going on with an infant’s feeding. It displays the impact of feeding interventions in real time, tracks and charts infant progress, and creates a continuity of care among caregivers. It’s also the first “internet of things” medical device cleared by the Food and Drug Administration for use in the NICU. (You can see the device here.)

UK’s multidisciplinary NICU initiates research

This journey began as a simple research question that came to Capilouto during a continuing education conference focused on feeding preterm and sick term infants in the NICU.

“This whole thing started when I was attending a conference and the speaker was talking about the fact that for adults who aren’t orally fed for a while, their tongue muscle atrophies in a short period of time,” Capilouto said. “But we didn’t know if this was true in pre-term babies, who could go many weeks before they’re ever allowed to feed orally, sometime around 32-34 weeks gestation. So if baby is born at 28 weeks, for example, it will be many weeks before they can start to use their tongue muscle.”

When she got back to UK, Capilouto assembled a multidisciplinary team that could undertake the task of trying to measure infant sucking. The group included an expert in muscle biomechanics (Dr. Tim Butterfield also in the UK CHS), a muscle biologist, a clinical radiologist, and Cunningham, who at that time was at UK as a PhD student in biomechanics. An inventor with a couple patents under his belt, he’d also started a small engineering firm to help clinicians develop the tools they needed to conduct their research. His particular focus was, and remains, using evidence-based medicine to inform product development.

“Gilson came to me and Dr. Butterfield and said, ‘I need a bottle that can measure the strength of a baby’s tongue.’ She specifically wanted to be able to measure tongue strength during actual bottle feeding. Dr. Butterfield and I were intrigued by the challenge and after a couple of months, we had a proof-of-concept device.”

With a grant from the Kentucky Science and Engineering Foundation in 2011, they developed and tested the device, hypothesizing that both tongue force and tongue size would be different between preterm infants beginning to orally feed and full term infants. Results of that first study provided support for their hypothesis, as pre-term infant tongue force was found to be significantly less than full-term infants relative to nutritive sucking; interestingly, simple pacifier sucking strength was not different between the two groups.

“When we got those results, we were pretty excited, we knew we wanted to continue this line of research, but we needed instrumentation that was more NICU-friendly. Ultimately we saw the clinical utility of what we were doing, so we wanted to build an instrument not just for research purposes, but also a tool that could be used in clinical practice at the bedside,” Capilouto said. “We knew we were on to something, but the methods were cumbersome – it required a bank of computers and four people to collect the data, and we knew for the long term that would not be feasible.”

Following release of the Intellectual Property from the University, Capilouto and Cunningham sought further funding from the Office of Research in the UK College of Health Sciences in 2012 to help them develop a second prototype that could be used bedside in the NICU.

“We leveraged a lot of technologies out there, like what’s in your cell phone, and built it on a scale to fit around a baby bottle so it could be easily incorporated to bedside work flow. We also wanted the final device to be easy to use and low cost. Millions of cell phones are made, so that drives down prices of the components,” Cunningham said.

Testing the second prototype provided the necessary confirmation for the new design and also provided important feedback about desirable features and characteristics from NICU bedside nurses. Armed with this information, Cunningham, who had moved to Atlanta after he finished his PhD at UK, left his job to devote himself full-time to development of the device. After rapid prototyping and validating the final device, Capilouto and Cunningham founded NFANT Labs, LLC, based in Atlanta, in 2013. The company has two patents and a third one pending.

In the fall of 2015, the nfant Feeding Solution device was cleared by the FDA and that following January, Capilouto took a one-year, university-approved entrepreneurial leave of absence and relocated to Atlanta to work with the company. During this time, they were able to introduce the product in NICUs around the country and establish partnerships for conducting clinical trials. The company also developed, tested and launched a second product — a line of high quality silicone bottle nipples.

UK offers its support

Currently, a novel methodology award from the UK Center for Clinical and Translational Science and the UK College of Health Sciences supports a research study to determine if the measures of sucking performance from the nfant Feeding Solution can be used to identify infants who are most likely to experience ongoing feeding problems after discharge. Dr. Peter Giannone, chief of the division of neonatology at UK, serves as co-investigator on the grant.

The study is following preterm infants at high risk for developmental concerns from hospital discharge through their first year. For those babies whose one-year developmental testing reveals cognitive or motor issues, the team will go back to data from their early feeding behaviors in the hospital in the hopes of identifying sucking performance variables that could possibly have predictive power.

“We want to identify babies who we are at risk for poor developmental outcomes as early as possible, so we can get them the help they need as soon as possible and take advantage of the mechanisms of neuroplasticity.” Capilouto said.

NFANT Labs has earned several accolades for its pioneering work. In March of this year, the Technology Association of Georgia, the state’s leading association dedicated to the promotion and economic advancement of Georgia’s technology industry, named nfant Feeding Solution as the Breakthrough Technology of the Year and NFANT Labs one of its Top 10 Innovative Technology Companies in the state. Last year, NFANT Labs was named a Silicon Labs “Internet of Things Hero” and also received Georgia Bio’s coveted Innovation Award. In 2015, the company received the E-Achiever Award from the Lexington Venture Group.

With this strong foundation, NFANT Labs is experiencing rapid growth. To date, they have raised $3.5 million of private capital and are gearing up to raise another $5 million to expand their sales force, create additional products and take the company to the next level. The device is being used in NICUs across the country to assist healthcare teams in clinical decision making regarding a fragile infant’s transition to oral feeding. UK is currently in the process of purchasing and integrating it into their standard of care. It is also being used in several of the top children’s hospitals in the country to study important research questions, including the relationship between early sucking performance and neonatal brain injury.

Capilouto and Cunningham both emphasize the necessity of a team that takes advantage of multiple fields of expertise.

“To get us to this point, we assembled a distinctive interdisciplinary research team consisting of basic, translational and clinical investigators with expertise in pediatric feeding and swallowing, muscle physiology, muscle biomechanics, biomedical engineering, diagnostic radiology and neonatology,” Capilouto said.

Cunningham added that “the idea is just one thing. You need clinical research, executive leadership, capital backing, sales and marketing, manufacturing, etc. It takes a vast amount of resources to go from an idea to a sustainable business focused on improving patient care.”

As their company grows, the team hopes to broaden the use of the nfant Feeding System to learn more about feeding behaviors and neurodevelopment of specific groups of infants, as well as extend their capacity to support caregivers.


Next steps:

The 29th annual Barnstable Brown Kentucky Derby Eve Gala will take place Friday, May 5 in Louisville. It has raised over $13 million over the past decade.

Celebrity guests announced for this year’s Barnstable Brown Kentucky Derby Eve Gala

The 29th annual Barnstable Brown Kentucky Derby Eve Gala will take place Friday, May 5 in Louisville. The gala benefits the UK Barnstable Brown Kentucky Diabetes and Obesity Center.

Even if you aren’t able to attend the Barnstable Brown Derby Eve Gala, you can still support the groundbreaking diabetes research at the UK HealthCare Barnstable Brown Diabetes Center. Donations can be sent to: UK HealthCare Office of Philanthropy, Attn: Barnstable Brown Diabetes Center, PO Box 34184, Lexington, KY 40588.

The annual star-studded bash is held at the home of Patricia Barnstable-Brown, who co-hosts the event with her twin sister, Priscilla Barnstable. The event is internationally recognized as the “premier” Kentucky Derby gala and counted among the “Ten Best Parties in the World” by Condé Nast.

This year’s guests will include:

  • Tom Brady
  • Kid Rock
  • Tracy Morgan
  • Katie Couric
  • Larry David
  • Kacey Musgraves
  • Aaron Rodgers
  • Sammy Hagar
  • Richie Sambora
  • Harry Connick Jr.
  • Brian McKnight
  • Maren Morris (Grammy-winning country music artist)
  • Rob Gronkowski (New England Patriots)
  • Kix Brooks (Brooks & Dunn)
  • Justin Hartley (This is Us)
  • Boyz II Men
  • Rickie Fowler (PGA Tour golfer)
  • Brooks Koepka (PGA Tour golfer)
  • Justin Thomas (PGA Tour golfer)
  • Jimmy Walker (PGA Tour golfer)
  • Johnny Gill
  • Montgomery Gentry
  • Orianthi
  • Stephen Amell
  • Josh Henderson
  • Travis Tritt
  • Terri Clark
  • Cam (Grammy-nominated country music artist)
  • Clay Walker
  • Giada De Laurentiis
  • Chrishell Stause
  • Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Rickey Medlocke
  • Jordan Smith (The Voice)
  • Taylor Dayne
  • Joey Fatone
  • Bode Miller
  • Mary Wilson
  • Randall Cobb (Green Bay Packers)
  • Jay Gruden (NFL head coach)
  • Wes Welker (former All-Pro NFL player)
  • Matt Cassel (Tennessee Titans)
  • Mike Vrabel (Houston Texans)
  • Larry Izzo (Houston Texans)
  • Rob O’Neill (Decorated U.S. Navy Seal)
  • Larry Birkhead
  • Justin Cornwell (Training Day)

Next steps:

NACCDO-PAMN

Markey hosts conference for nation’s elite cancer centers

Highlighting Lexington and the services and expertise of UK HealthCare, the UK Markey Cancer Center and the Markey Cancer Foundation served last week as hosts for the 2017 annual conference for the National Association of Cancer Center Development Officers (NACCDO) and the Public Affairs and Marketing (PAMN) Network of National Cancer Centers.

In total, 437 participants representing more than 75 cancer institutions attended this year’s conference, making it one of the highest-attended conferences since the joint event began in 1987.

The NACCDO-PAMN annual conference is an opportunity for public relations, marketing and development professionals who work for major cancer centers to network and learn more from their peers about the best practices for highlighting their center’s cancer research and clinical care.

Members of the UK HealthCare community who presented during the the three-day conference included Kentucky Neuroscience Institute’s Dr. Dan Han as well as Robert DiPaola, dean of the UK College of Medicine. Han hosted a session with Kentucky Chef Ouita Michael focused on neurogastronomy, the study of how the brain influences our perceptions of what we eat. Their interactive presentation explored the unique application of using neurogastronomy to help cancer patients whose taste and appetite have been affected by treatment. DiPaola was on-hand to lead a panel discussion of cancer center directors.

Conference participants also had the option of attending a “Markey patient experience tour” highlighting six of the cancer center’s integrative medicine offerings: a cooking demo, art therapy, music therapy, narrative medicine, jin shin jyutsu, hand massage/aromatherapy and a UK HealthCare Arts in HealthCare tour.

“We were honored to host our fellow cancer center colleagues here in Lexington for this year’s conference,” said Mike Delzotti, president of the Markey Cancer Foundation. “We enjoyed not only the opportunity to provide valuable education and information for other cancer communicators across the nation, but also the chance to show off some of the things that make Markey, and Kentucky, so special.”

Check out the video below for more highlights from the conference.


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Chefs in Action

Chefs In Action teaches healthy cooking techniques

When UK HealthCare opened its state-of-the-art dining facility, Chandler Dining, last year, it embraced the concept that food service should be as involved in teaching healthy habits as medical and nursing staff.

The long lines of institutional steamers and shelving to slide plastic trays along were gone, replaced instead with cooking hubs where diners can choose nutritious, freshly prepared food ingredients and have their dish prepared to order before their eyes.

The new facility, which is open to patients, families, staff and the public, offers restaurant-quality food selections that you wouldn’t expect to see in a hospital cafeteria.

Perhaps less expected was a teaching kitchen where chefs can demonstrate healthy meal preparations. UK HealthCare Executive Chef Pete Combs was tasked with creating a platform for sharing with hospital patients, visitors and staff the tips and techniques that make food more nutritious. The result? A monthly series called Chefs in Action.

“Chefs in Action is designed to help people see that it’s not difficult to cook healthy dishes with high-quality ingredients,” said Combs, a food service industry veteran of more than 30 years. “The power of food [in improving health] is huge.”

At 4 p.m. on the third Thursday of every month, Combs and sous chefs Justin Clark and Sarah Null prepare a themed menu with an extra dash of theater and humor. At the February event, the Heart Month-themed menu included:

  • Flaxseed hummus with almond crackers, jicama, rainbow peppers and carrot.
  • Three-bean salsa with avocado, tomato and cucumber chips.
  • Roasted butternut squash boat with asparagus, ginger, almond and wild mushrooms.
  • Rainbow trout stuffed with Fuji apples, walnuts, spinach and raisins with orange saffron sauce.
  • Raspberry banana and dark chocolate bites.

As they demonstrated each recipe and distributed free samples to the audience, dietitians Andrea Francis, Jill Haeberlin and Katie Lewis listed the ingredients in each dish and explained how they boosted heart health.

“Sharing nutrition information is as important as showing people how to make the recipe,” Combs said. “People may not want to make the apple-walnut stuffing, but they might add walnuts to one of their favorite dishes once they learn that walnuts can reduce cardiovascular problems and Type 2 diabetes.”

Housley says the long-term goal for Chefs in Action is to make the demos available to patients via the Get Well Network, an in-room patient engagement system that helps improve the transition of care from hospital to home.

“UK HealthCare is not just about medicine,” said J.J. Housley, UK HealthCare’s director of enterprise operations. “This enterprise strives to provide Kentuckians with the tools for healthy living, and why wouldn’t our food service be a significant player in that effort?”

The next Chefs in Action will be at 4 p.m., this Thursday, April 20.  The menu will center on healthy twists to Kentucky’s classic dishes. No reservations are necessary and the event is free. Check out the video below to learn more about Chefs in Action.


Next steps:

Researchers and health policy leaders from UK discussed how to combat drug abuse during this year's National Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit.

UK brings expertise to national summit on opioid drug crisis

Addiction researchers, clinicians, intervention coordinators and health policy leaders from UK and UK HealthCare are taking part in a national conversation this week focused on combating the opioid drug crisis.

The National Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit, taking place April 17-20 in Atlanta, is the largest national collaboration of professionals from local, state and federal agencies, business, academia, treatment providers, and allied communities impacted by prescription drug abuse and heroin use. It was introduced in 2012 under the leadership of Operation UNITE and U.S. Rep. Harold “Hal” Rogers (KY-5th) with the purpose of alleviating the burden of illegal substance abuse through comprehensive approaches. In this regard, UK leads the way.

Last year alone, investigators in the UK Center on Drug and Alcohol Research received $9.6 million for projects dedicated to substance abuse and addiction. Since 2010, the National Institute on Drug Abuse has awarded more than $92 million to UK research projects. UK HealthCare is proud to support the summit through sponsorship.

“UK is uniquely positioned to confront these questions because of its multidisciplinary research endeavors, leading academic medical center and regional referral network deployed to confront the scourge of opioids. We’re committed to working in – and with – communities to help navigate the complex nature of critical policy changes and effective healthcare implementation,” UK President Eli Capilouto said.

Kentucky’s rate of opioid overdose death remains above the national average, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting 1,273 Kentucky overdose deaths in 2015.

“The opioid epidemic is far-reaching and multifaceted, leaving a void in each family and community it scars,” Capilouto said. “Kentucky families and communities throughout Appalachia know the devastation and havoc of addiction. That’s why this question is critical to UK researchers who lead the research, healthcare and policy questions surrounding opioid abuse.”


Next steps:

Kate Zaytseva, one of four project leaders on the COBRE grant for the Center for Cancer and Metabolism, and postdoc Naser Jafari are studying the importance of an enzyme called fatty acid synthase in controlling survival and spread of colorectal cancer.

UK wins $11.2 million NIH grant to study cancer-obesity link

UK has been awarded an $11.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to study the link between cancer and metabolic disorders, including obesity. The prestigious award will enable UK to launch the UK Center for Cancer and Metabolism (CCM).

The Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) grant to study the metabolism of cancer comes from the NIH’s National Institutes of General Medical Sciences and will fund the UK Center for Cancer and Metabolism over the next five years.

Kentucky has disproportionately high incidences of both cancer and metabolic disorders – our state leads the nation in cancer deaths and is in the top 10 for highest obesity rates in the country. While scientists have long known of a direct link between obesity and cancer, the need for further research into this field is a necessity for Kentuckians.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, an advocate of the 21st Century Cures Act, contacted NIH Director Francis S. Collins on behalf of UK’s grant application.

“In an effort to improve healthcare access and outcomes for my constituents, UK has long made a priority of undertaking important research specific to Kentucky and the Appalachian region,” McConnell said.

“Over the years, UK and its Markey Cancer Center have developed one of the strongest cancer research, prevention and treatment programs in the country, as demonstrated by the center’s 2013 NIH National Cancer Institute designation, which I was proud to support. I was also pleased to assist UK in securing this competitive grant to advance and strengthen this critical health research for Kentucky by enabling advanced research focusing on the development of novel therapies for cancer treatment.”

Kentucky Representative Andy Barr echoed McConnell’s sentiments, noting that support and funding for innovative cancer research remains a priority.

“The awarding of this competitive grant is a recognition of the University of Kentucky as a national leader in biomedical research,” Barr said. “I have consistently supported the National Institutes of Health because these investments not only contribute to our local communities and institutions, they will improve and even save lives by advancing new treatments and cures. I am confident the healthcare services provided by the NCI-designated Markey Cancer Center and the research done by UK scientists funded by this grant will help us to find better ways to fight cancer, which will benefit patients and families in Kentucky and around the world.”

Linking metabolism and cancer

The UK Center for Cancer and Metabolism capitalizes on highly specialized institutional strengths in cancer and advanced metabolomics tools to focus on the underlying mechanisms that link dysfunctional metabolism to cancer. Recent studies have shown that the metabolic powerhouse of cells – the mitochondria – can influence how aggressive a cancer becomes.

UK has internationally renowned experts in the field of cancer and metabolism, and new state-of-the-art technology has improved the ability to understand how metabolism impacts cancer.

“As the University for Kentucky, we are uniquely positioned to conduct this level of sophisticated research thanks to the presence of a diverse array of biomedical researchers, clinicians and our leading academic medical center,” UK President Eli Capilouto said. “Research and development is at the core of economic and human development, and it is why UK is Kentucky’s most instrumental change agent, health provider and economic engine. The progress we make offers the brightest future and best hope for Kentucky.”

The CCM will bring together highly complementary disciplinary strengths at UK in cancer, metabolism and data sciences, coupled with sophisticated metabolomics tools and advanced cancer imaging capabilities, to strengthen the university’s cancer research enterprise by providing a thematically focused multidisciplinary infrastructure dedicated to defining the role of metabolism in the development and treatment of cancer.

“Research is at the heart of any progress we hope to make in bridging health gaps in the Commonwealth,” said Lisa Cassis, UK vice president for research. “Increased funding opportunities through the 21st Century Cures Act, and in particular this COBRE focused on cancer and metabolism, will enable the university to foster the development of the next generation of scientists who will lead our efforts in translating basic research findings into promising new therapies.”

Fighting back against cancer in Kentucky

The scientific discoveries achieved through the CCM will continue to help the UK Markey Cancer Center in its mission to conquer cancer in the Commonwealth. As Markey prepares to renew its National Cancer Institute Cancer Center designation, and simultaneously compete to become a Comprehensive Cancer Center later in 2017, Markey Director Dr. Mark Evers emphasizes the need for increased cancer research funding and continuing to push for new discoveries.

“Nowhere in the country is it more important to have this level of cancer research underway,” Evers said. “Kentuckians face a unique set of health issues, but we at the UK Markey Cancer Center are distinctly positioned to help solve the problem. Being an NCI-designated cancer center means being a leader in research as well as clinical care and outreach. This funding will allow us to translate our findings into potential new therapies for cancer patients from Kentucky and beyond.”

The CCM leverages expertise with mentors and collaborators from across multiple UK centers, disciplines and departments. The multidisciplinary collaboration is indicative of the type of work ongoing at UK and UK HealthCare every day.

“This new funding is another example of the vital importance to the people of Kentucky – and this region – in having an academic medical center at the University of Kentucky,” said Dr. Michael Karpf, UK executive vice president for health affairs. “The synergy and collaboration between researchers and clinicians to further studies in cancer can only be done at a place like this, where people are working together to make a difference in the lives of patients now and for generations to come.”

Promoting collaboration

COBRE grants also use this platform to develop promising early-stage investigators with enhanced skillsets in exciting new areas of cancer research and to enhance their success in competing for NIH grant support. The grant promotes collaborative, interactive efforts among researchers with complementary backgrounds, skills and expertise.

Four junior investigators, mentored by teams of clinicians and scientists from a variety of disciplines, departments, and colleges at UK, will lead major projects investigating an aspect of cancer metabolism:

  • “Role of vitamin D in protecting against cachexia in cancer patients,” led by Travis Thomas, Department of Clinical Sciences, UK College of Health Sciences
  • “Role of serine biosynthesis pathway in breast cancer,” led by Yadi Wu, Department of Pharmacology and Nutritional Sciences, UK College of Medicine
  • “Role of RORα in breast cancer metastasis,” led by Ren Xu, Department of Pharmacology and Nutritional Sciences, UK College of Medicine
  • “Role of fatty acid synthase in colorectal cancer,” led by Kate Zaytseva, Department of Toxicology and Cancer Biology, UK College of Medicine

The CCM is co-led by program directors Daret St. Clair, professor and James Graham Brown Foundation Endowed Chair in the UK Department of Toxicology and Cancer Biology, and Peter Zhou, professor in the UK Department of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry.

“Having the kind of environment where learning and collaboration are placed at the forefront is why we were chosen for this grant, and we hope to continue that throughout the life of this center,” St. Clair said. “It will also enable us to reach out to new and talented researchers who want to come to UK to become new project leaders and continue the work we’re doing.”


Watch the video below to learn more about the Center for Cancer and Metabolism.


Next steps:

World Voice Day

On World Voice Day, take time to celebrate your voice

JoAnna E. Sloggy, MA, CCC-SLP

Written by JoAnna Sloggy, a speech-language pathologist and singing-voice specialist at the UK Voice & Swallow Clinic.

In the U.S., 7.5 million people have trouble using their voices. We often forget the important role voice plays in our daily lives. On Sunday, April 16, World Voice Day is a time to stop and consider the importance of the human voice in every part of our daily lives. World Voice Day aims to celebrate the human voice and raise awareness for voice disorders, vocal health, vocal training and voice research.

What causes voice disorders?

Voice is created by vibration of the vocal folds, and a voice disorder occurs when the vocal folds are unable to vibrate well enough to create a clear vocal sound. A voice disorder may be caused by voice overuse or misuse, neck and throat injuries or growths, and diseases such as cancer or Parkinson’s disease. Voice adds intent, mood and meaning to the words we speak – imagine the interpersonal loss of not being able to express yourself vocally through speech or song.

Most people have experienced temporary vocal problems such as hoarseness or loss of voice due to allergies, colds or cheering too enthusiastically for your favorite team. Usually, voice returns to normal within several days. However, if a voice change lasts for longer than two weeks, the problem should be checked by your doctor.

Be sure to practice vocal hygiene

To keep your voice healthy, follow these vocal hygiene recommendations.

  1. Listen to how your voice sounds. Hoarseness or other voice changes lasting longer than two weeks should be evaluated by a voice care team, such as an otolaryngologist and a speech-language pathologist who specializes in voice disorders.
  2. Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water to keep your vocal folds and voice box well lubricated.
  3. Quit smoking. Tobacco, nicotine, chemicals, inhaled heat and other substances can cause inflammation and swelling of the voice box and cause cancer in the mouth, nose, throat and lungs.
  4. Avoid screaming, cheering loudly or talking over loud noise. These behaviors cause damage to the vocal fold tissue and strain to the voice muscles.
  5. Limit alcohol and caffeine. These substances have a drying effect on the vocal folds.
  6. Avoid repeated throat clearing and/or coughing. These behaviors can cause vocal damage. Try sipping water and swallowing hard when you have the urge to cough or throat clear.
  7. Manage acid reflux. Stomach acid can damage the tissue of your throat and cause hoarseness and other vocal problems.
  8. Give your voice a rest when recovering from hoarseness. When your vocal folds are swollen and inflamed, there is increased risk of vocal damage. Until your voice returns to normal, avoid straining or forcing your voice.
  9. Give your voice a break. Vocal “naps” are good when your voice is tired from overuse or from talking too loudly.

You are never too young or too old to stop and check your vocal health. Making changes to improve or maintain your good voice habits will benefit your health for years to come. This World Voice Day, take time today to celebrate your voice!

This column is scheduled to run in the Lexington Herald-Leader this weekend.


Next steps:

What you need to know about mumps

What you need to know about mumps

Last week, UK’s University Health Service saw a couple of isolated cases of mumps, a contagious virus whose tell-tale symptom is swelling near the neck and jaw.

Although the overwhelming majority of people who get mumps recover completely, it’s important to know the signs of the virus and what to do if you think you have it.

What is mumps?

Mumps is an illness caused by the mumps virus. It’s easily spread by airborne droplets from the upper respiratory tract.

Mumps typically starts with a few days of fever, headache, fatigue and loss of appetite, followed by swollen salivary glands, or swelling near the neck and jaw. Since the introduction of the mumps vaccine, cases of mumps in the U.S. are uncommon.

What are the symptoms of mumps?

Many children have no symptoms or very mild symptoms. The following are the most common symptoms of mumps that may be seen in both adults and children:

  • Discomfort in the salivary glands (in front of the ears), which may become swollen and tender.
  • Difficulty chewing.
  • Pain and tenderness of the testicles.
  • Fever.
  • Headache.
  • Muscle aches.
  • Tiredness.
  • Loss of appetite.

The symptoms of mumps may look like other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.

What should you do if you think you have mumps?

  • UK students: Students who have swollen parotid salivary glands should make an appointment with UHS to be evaluated or see their family physician. Students can go online and make a clinician appointment via the Student Health Link on the LinkBlue/My UK portal or by calling 859-323-APPT (2778) Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • UK faculty and staff: If you have symptoms, see your local clinician, or if you can’t get an appointment with your regular clinician and have UK HMO, PPO, or EM, you can call for an appointment at the UK Health Plans Urgent Care Clinic at 859-323-SICK (7425).
  • Non-UK employees: If you’re not a UK employee, but are experiencing symptoms, contact your primary care physician and make an appointment.

If you have any of the symptoms of mumps, avoid prolonged close contact with other people for five days after your salivary glands began to swell. You should not go to work or classes during this period.

In addition to staying away from others, you can help prevent the virus from spreading by covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, washing hands frequently, and wearing a mask if you have to be around others.

What complications are associated with mumps?

Complications of mumps occur more frequently among adults than children, and may include:

  • Meningitis or encephalitis. Inflammation of the membrane that covers the brain and spinal cord or inflammation of the brain.
  • Orchitis. Inflammation of one or both testicles.
  • Mastitis. Inflammation of breast tissue.
  • Oophoritis. Inflammation of one or both ovaries.
  • Pancreatitis. Inflammation of the pancreas.
  • Deafness

How is mumps diagnosed?

In addition to a complete medical history and medical exam, your healthcare provider may also take a swab of the side of your mouth to confirm the diagnosis.

What is the treatment for mumps?

Treatment is usually limited to medications for pain and plenty of fluids. Sometimes bedrest is necessary the first few days. According to the CDC, adults should stay home from work for five days after glands begin to swell. Children should stay out of school until symptoms have subsided. Both adults and children with mumps symptoms should minimize contact with other people who live in their homes. Good basic hygiene practices, such as thorough hand-washing, covering the mouth when sneezing or coughing, and regularly cleaning frequently-touched surfaces, are also important in disease control.

How can mumps be prevented?

The measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) is a childhood combination vaccination against mumps, measles and rubella. The MMR provides immunity for most people. People who have had the mumps are immune for life.

If you have not previously been vaccinated or if you are unsure if you have received two doses of the MMR vaccine, we are recommending that you get vaccinated.

Usually, the first dose of the MMR vaccine is given when a child is 12 to 15 months old, and a second dose is given at 4 to 6 years of age. However, if 28 days have passed since the first dose was given, a second dose may be given before the age of 4.


Next steps:

Specialized research nurses who work with the UK Center for Clinical and Translational Science provide outpatient, inpatient, and off-site care for research participants, along with an array of other research support services.

UK’s clinical research nurses help make discoveries happen

Across the University of Kentucky, clinical research nurses carry out clinical procedures and care for those who participate in research studies. They not only provide the best possible patient care, but they also help make discoveries that advance healthcare altogether.

Research nurses have long been at the heart of health research, but it wasn’t until late 2016 that the American Nurses Association recognized clinical research nursing as nursing specialty practice.

For Linda Rice, a registered nurse and director of clinical operations for the clinical services core (CSC) of the UK Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCTS), the designation of a clinical nursing specialty for research means a great deal.

“It means a lot to me that my colleagues recognize our specialty – that all the time and effort and years of training are acknowledged by our board and peers,” Rice said. “I’ve enjoyed seeing my profession grow, and knowing that the decisions we make to take care of our patients are based on evidence-based research. It does take nurses to conduct successful clinical research, and they have to specifically trained – it’s a body of knowledge and experience.”

Working across medical specialties

Rice oversees a team of nurses who assist in conducting research in the CCTS inpatient and outpatient research units for adults and children. They also provide additional clinical research services, such as study coordination.

Over the last three years, the CCTS CSC has averaged between 1,200 and 1,500 inpatient bed-nights per year, 1,600 to 1,800 outpatient days per year, and 500 to 700 offsite visits per year. During this time, the clinical research nursing team has also had to perform increasingly complex tasks, such as euglycemic clamps, oral glucose tolerance tests, muscle/bone biopsies, a wide variety of infusions (like monoclonal antibodies and immunotherapies), pediatric care and off-site care.

In total, about 56 research nurses work in research across medical specialties at UK, such as cancer, neurology, surgery, neonatology/pediatrics, cardiology, behavior science and substance use disorders, emergency care, and infectious diseases.

‘Research is the hope of the future’

Rice entered the field after encountering research nursing in her undergraduate training. Hoping to use this aspect of her education, she applied for a research coordinator job. The possibility of finding ways to improve patient care has motivated her work for nearly three decades.

“I love being on the cutting edge,” she said. “I love knowing, as a nurse, what other things are out there that are being trialed to improve care for patients. I was drawn to this profession because I wanted to help people. And what better way than to be on the front end of trying to make things better? Someone told me once that without research, there is no hope. Research is the hope of the future for better health. And to help facilitate that is such a reward.”

The primary task is the same in research nursing as in standard clinical nursing: to care for people, in this case research participants. But research nurses must possess a repertoire of knowledge and skills far beyond clinical practice. They must also know the complex tiers of institutional and federal regulations that govern health research in general, as well as the intricate protocols and diverse clinical skills required by each specific research study.

No two days are alike

Kathy Holbrook is a registered nurse and is a clinical research coordinator who also works with the CCTS. She’s been a research nurse for 13 years but said that when she started in the field, she didn’t know exactly what she was getting into.

“I learned as I went along,” she said. “But you’re still a nurse first. That means you’re ensuring the health and safety of whomever you’re taking care of. For me, it’s research volunteers.”

Holbrook finds the her work in research nursing to be invigorating and appreciates that no two days are ever alike. At any given time she might be working on several research studies in different medical specialties that require her to perform an array of tasks.

“We do a lot of data collection and we make a lot of observations to support the thesis of the protocol,” Holbrook said. “We educate our participants and volunteers on what it means to be a participant in research. And research protocols have you do procedures you might not often do in bedside or clinic nursing. The variety is endless, and that’s one of the things that keeps it fresh and interesting.”

Working closely with study volunteers and researchers is another highlight of the job, Holbrook said.

“It’s very heartwarming to know that people are willing to give of themselves for altruistic reasons,” she said. “And in working with the researchers, we get to see people being creative and thinking outside of the box to really look at something differently and ask how we can do something better.”


Next steps:

  • 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.
  • Learn more about the groundbreaking translational research happening at UK CCTS.