September 2013 Newsletter

Department of Medicine eNewsletter
September 2013
:: Interview
:: Department News
:: Department Events
:: Leadership Council Minutes
Website's New Features

Department of Medicine Annual Progress Report 2012/2013


Medicine-Pediatrics Residency Program


Resident Travel Blog

Leadership Council
September 2013

Chair ::

R. Walsh


Present ::

K. Armitage

A. Askari

R. Chandra

F. Cominelli

F. Creighton

G. Gnanaesekaran

L. Harris

C. Hoppel
T. Hostetter
R. Schilz
D. Simon
R. Walsh
J. Watts


Recorded by ::
A. Staruch
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department interview

Mukesh Jain, MD, Scientific Director of Harrington Discovery Institute at University Hospitals Case Medical Center, Chief Research Officer of University Hospitals Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute and Director of Case Cardiovascular Research Institute at Case Western Reserve University, shares his insight on generating quality ideas that lead to NIH funding, offers perspective on effectively mentoring young investigators and discusses the future goals of the Harrington Discovery Institute.


The Harrington Discovery Institute has undoubtedly had a great year with its first class of scholar-innovators, recruitment of the Scientific Advisory Board and Harrington Scientific Symposium. As a Scientific Director of the institute, can you tell us what are some of the future goals the institute will be concentrating on?


We have several major goals for the upcoming year. First, we will continue to be actively engaged in recruiting outstanding physician-scientists in all areas of science and medicine to the Harrington Discovery Institute. Second, we are working on selecting the second class of grant awardees as part of the Harrington Scholar-Innovator grant program. The number of applications has more than quadrupled from last year and so I expect an incredible group of scholars. Third, we have recently established the Harrington Prize for Innovation in Medicine. This international award, given to an individual who has taken fundamental discovery and successfully translated it to clinic, will be awarded at the annual American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI) meeting in April 2014. The affiliation with the ASCI, one of the oldest and most prestigious physician-scientist organization in the U.S., is really wonderful for our institution and community. Fourth, a University Consortium Scholars program has been established where we hope to partner with selected academic medical centers and universities to help advance the efforts of promising physician-scientists. I am excited about this initiative and anticipate partnerships with leading national, and perhaps even international academic medical centers. In fact, I have great hope that we will be able to kick off this new program at our own home institution. And finally, we will continue to celebrate the accomplishments of our scholars through the annual symposium.



You recently became President-elect of the American Society of Clinical Investigation. Your unique position allows you to observe the way clinical investigation is developing on a national level. What are some recent trends that you are witnessing approaching?


Given the incredible advances in science and technology, the opportunity for advancing fundamental discovery from bench to the bedside has never been greater in history. At the same time, however, we are facing great challenges. Funding from the NIH has been and will likely remain a challenge and so investigators will need to remain vigilant and seek alternative mechanisms of support. We also lack support in moving research discoveries to clinic, and as you know, this is one of the main motivations behind The Harrington Project for Discovery & Development. These barriers pose a significant threat for physicians and scientists who wish to engage in biomedical research. The situation is particularly complicated for the physician-scientist who must deal with fierce competition both as a researcher and clinician - a situation that can be disheartening to trainees and young faculty members. Most institutions are quite aware of these issues but it will be how each deals with the challenges and supports its trainees and faculty that will distinguish those who persevere versus those who will be less successful.



What are some of the strategies you are using for developing and mentoring the future generation of physician-scientists in your own lab?


We have used several approaches in our program. Once we decide to support junior investigators, we support them fully with adequate resources to ensure success. Second, we are careful not to overextend young investigators - i.e., we ensure appropriate balance between clinical and research obligations appropriate for their career stage. Third, we work closely with each individual in efforts to obtain grant funding. Fourth, we try to highlight their achievements not only locally, but also at a national level. This includes nominating them for honorific societies or presentations at national and international meetings to enhance their visibility and reputation. And, finally, we encourage our young investigators to not lose sight of their passion for research, despite the difficult funding climate. I believe that the current challenges at the NIH will eventually get better, even though the trough has been longer and more substantial than predicted. Nevertheless, the conversion rate from K grants to R01 level grants of our faculty is quite spectacular and I hope to maintain this moving forward.



NIH receives its funding directly from Congress. How do you see the pressures of the government affecting the structure and processes of the NIH in the long run?


I don't believe it will change significantly from the current format. The peer review system is not perfect; however, it is probably still the best option. The NIH has special high-risk, high-reward grant mechanisms in place and these are likely to continue. I suspect that large program grants will be reduced, perhaps even phased out in some institutes. While the challenge in obtaining NIH funding is considerable, I do believe that as long as an investigator engages in leading-edge work, poses the right questions, and focuses on the fundamental questions, support will follow. I also believe collaborative science is an important avenue to pursue. For example, co-PI grants often explore science at the intersection of disciplines and thereby offer new and unique insights. In my experience on study section, these grants tend to be well-received.



You are a distinguished scientist with multiple NIH grants and internationally recognized studies. What are some of the key strategies you employ to keep your ideas fresh?


First and foremost, an investigator has to be aware of the need to stay fresh and continue to generate novel ideas. It is very easy to become complacent and this can hinder productivity and one's competitive edge. Second, whenever possible, I try to read literature and attend seminars or conferences outside of my discipline. By interacting with colleagues in other specialties, one is exposed to new ways of thinking that may not occur by working just in one's own field. In addition, I have been very fortunate in my lab to be surrounded by individuals whose abilities often exceed my own. I am always eager to recruit really bright people because they can become catalysts for new ideas and help maintain our edge as a team. I must acknowledge that as I have grown older, the interaction with my junior colleagues is much more of a two-way street - I learn just as much from them as I can offer in return.


Finally, I would add that there are other important elements to success that deserve mention. As you know, we have been fortunate to garner considerable philanthropic support that has enhanced our efforts. We are also fortunate to be part of the organization that understands the importance of scientists and physician-investigators on the divisional, departmental and institutional levels. This alignment of enlightened leadership and their commitment to excellence is atypical, yet essential for our individual and collective success.

department news report

Division of Cardiovascular Medicine

Brandy Atkins, MD Brandon Atkins, MD, PhD, received the Edgar Jackson Jr. Faculty Mentor award at the University Hospitals Minority Resident, Faculty and Medical Student Welcoming Dinner and Reception. The award is presented by the Minority House Staff Organization to a physician in the University Hospitals community who has shown outstanding service and dedication to mentorship.




Marco Costa, MD, PhD, was appointed the Angela and James Hambrick Master Clinician in Innovation in the University Hospitals Heart & Vascular Institute.








Saptarsi Haldar, MD, discovered that a newly introduced cancer drug, JQ10, is also effective in treating heart failure. The medicine originally developed by James Bradner, MD, at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute to stop a cancer cell's growth genes also silences the genetic cascade that leads to enlargement of the heart and damage to heart cells characteristic of heart failure. Dr. Haldar plans to continue his translational research and collaboration with Dr. Bradner's team to develop other compounds that may bridge the cardiology and cancer treatment worlds.



Mukesh Jain, MD, and his team have discovered that Kruppel-like factor (KLF) 15 play a prominent role in blocking the blood vessel inflammation leading to heart attacks, strokes and other cardiac problems. Dr. Jain's finding reveals a novel understanding of the origins of inflammation and may lead to the development of new anti-inflammatory therapies for vascular disease.




Schedule a clinical appointment with Cardiovascular Medicine physicians




Division of Gastroenterology & Liver Disease

Fabio Cominelli, MD Fabio Cominelli, MD, PhD, published an article entitled, "Inhibition of Leukocyte Trafficking in Inflammatory Bowel Disease," in New England Journal of Medicine. In his work, Dr. Cominelli argues that vedolizumab may become the medicine for the treatment of IBD, particularly those patients who did not have a response to TNF inhibitor.







Schedule a clinical appointment with Gastroenterology & Liver Disease physicians





Division of General Internal Medicine & Geriatrics


School of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University received the 2013 Gold Medal Award for the highest percentage of abstracts accepted for presentation at the 2013 Ohio Chapter of the American College of Physicians Meeting in Columbus in October. Debra Leizman, MD, played a key role in mentoring and facilitating the submissions of medical students' articles.





Charles LoPresti, MD, joined the Internal Medicine Residency Program as an Associate Program Director.









Goutham Narla, MD, PhD, received a $400,000 sponsored research agreement grant from BioMotiv to support the development of small molecule based therapies to activate PP2A.

Division of Hematology & Oncology


Stan Gerson, MD

Stanton Gerson, MD, received the title of 2013 Distinguished University Professor, the highest honor a faculty member can earn at Case Western Reserve University. Dr. Gerson was recognized for his outstanding contributions in research, scholarship, teaching and service.







Hillard Lazarus, MD, was named Honorary Alumnus of the Year by Case Western Reserve University.








Jane Little, MD,
received a grant award from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation for her project entitled "SCD Biochip: Towards a Simple and Reliable Way to Monitor Sickle Cell Disease." This highly competitive award given for innovations in clinical research recognizes projects that have the potential to catalyze breakthroughs in sickle cell disease. Dr. Little's project specifically focuses on the development and clinical testing of a biochip to measure key cellular properties and interactions, including RBC and WBC cellular and adhesive properties, circulating endothelial and hematopoietic precursor cell characteristics in patients with sickle cell disease.

Rami Manochakian, MD,
was awarded a $500,000 grant from the Specialty Care Transformation Office in the Department of Veteran Affairs. Dr. Manochakian's work is entitled, "IVALu: Improving Veteran Access to Lung Cancer Care," and concentrates on building a designated multidisciplinary lung cancer program that delivers a multispecialty coordinated care for veterans with lung cancer. The project will optimize timeliness of diagnosis and treatment, implement a patient navigation system as well as lung cancer care tracking system, and improve lung cancer patient access to palliative care and survivorship care.

Alvin Schmaier, MD, and Evi Stavrou, MD,
were featured on the cover and in the editorial of the August 2013 edition of Blood Journal as authors of the article entitled, "Prolylcarboxypeptidase promotes angiogenesis and vascular repair."







Schedule a clinical appointment with Hematology & Oncology physicians





Division of Infectious Diseases & HIV Medicine


The ID Alliance, led by Amanda Healan, MD, and Robert Salata, MD, has successfully earned funding from the United Black Fund of Greater Cleveland and the Cleveland Foundation. The $30,000 grant will be used to support and sustain the Peer Education program that teaches high school students about sexually transmitted infections and effective prevention strategies.




Case Western Reserve University recently became a site institution for the Sexually Transmitted Infections Clinical Trials Group (STI CTG) led by Robert Salata, MD. STI CTG is a collaboration of institutions that work together to identify, support and administer clinical trials that will contribute to the reproductive health of people and specifically lead to prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections.




Schedule a clinical appointment with Infectious Diseases & HIV Medicine physicians





Division of Nephrology & Hypertension

Donald Hricik, MD, published his work entitled, "Urinary Cell mRNA Profile and Acute Cellular Rejection in Kidney Allografts," in New England Journal of Medicine. In his article, Dr. Hricik argues that noninvasive tests would be preferable for the diagnosis of acute rejection in kidney transplants; specifically a molecular signature of CD3ε mRNA, IP-10 mRNA, and 18S rRNA levels in urinary cells appears to be diagnostic and prognostic.



Schedule a clinical appointment with Nephrology & Hypertension physicians


department conferences & events

Cardiovascular Research Institute Keynote Lecture

Date: Friday, September 27

Time: 12:00 - 1:00 p.m.

Location: Wolstein Research Building

RSVP: contact Kathy Malone at 216.368.3109 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Join Daniel Simon, MD, Director, Case Cardiovascular Center, and Mukesh Jain, MD, Director, Case Cardiovascular Research Institute, for lunch and a keynote lecture by Richard Kuntz, MD, MSc. Dr. Kuntz is Senior Vice President and Chief Scientific, Clinical and Regulatory officer of Medtronic and his lecture is entitled, "Secular Changes in Clinical Research Methodologies and Open Science Policies for Evaluation of Medical Devices."



7th Annual Cardiovascular Disease Update: Continuing Medical Education

Date: Tuesday, October 15

Time: 6:00 - 9:00 p.m.

Location: Landerhaven, 6111 Landerhaven Drive, Mayfield Heights, OH 44124

Tuition Cost: $45

RSVP: Register online at or call 216.983.1239

The conference is intended to update practicing internists, family medicine physicians, primary care physicians, cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, vascular surgeons, endocrinologists, pulmonologists, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses, residents and fellows on current topics in cardiovascular disease.

Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine designates this live activity for a maximum of 3.0 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.




Grand Rounds

When: Tuesdays, 12:00 - 1:00 p.m.

Where: Kulas Auditorium, Lakeside, 5th Floor


September 24

"Lost in Transition: Elevating Care from Patient-Centered to Patient-Directed" by Stefan Gravenstein, MD

October 1

"Landmark 21st Century Clinical Trials in the Treatment of Atrial Fibrillation: Lessons Learned" by Albert Waldo, MD


October 8

"TBD" by Robert Bonomo, MD


October 15

"Cord Blood Transplantation" by Marcos de Lima, MD


October 22

"Lupus Nephritis" by Jay Wish, MD




Morbidity and Mortality Conferences

When: Fridays, 12:00 - 1: 00 p.m.

Where: Kulas Auditorium, Lakeside, 5th Floor

October 4

A case of a 30-year-old male with hypercoaguability and vasculitis with a long and complicated hospital stay.

Discussion Leaders: Kord Honda, MD (Director of Dermatopathology); Maya Mattar, MD (Division of Rheumatology), Lalitha Nayak, MD (Division of Hematology and Oncology), Benigno Rodriguez, MD (Division of Infectious Diseases and HIV Medicine)


department leadership council minutes

Leadership Council

Dr. Walsh announced that the State of the Department Address is scheduled for Tuesday, September 24 at 5 p.m. in the Wolstein Auditorium. There will be a reception immediately following in the Wolstein Lobby.


Leadership Council
Dr. Walsh updated council members on the recruitments of Anthony Wynshaw-Boris, MD, as Chair of Genetics, Douglas Rhee, MD, as Chair of Ophthalmology and Jonathan Haines, MD, as Director of the Institute of Computational Biology and Chair of Epidemiology and Biostatistics. Dr. Walsh announced that a lead candidate will be coming for a third visit for the position of Director of the Respiratory Health Institute and Division Chief of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine later this month. Also, two other candidates will be making first visits to Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and UH Case Medical Center this month.

Leadership Council

Dr. Walsh distributed reports on the Patient Satisfaction Survey for the Department of Medicine and also divisional information for the Division Chiefs.


Leadership Council


A discussion was held regarding the 2014 budgets for the School of Medicine, UH Case Medical Center and UHMG.



5Mr. Creighton distributed data and led a discussion on the following: UHMG Departmental Productivity to Compensation Comparison, Medicine YTD July 2013; UHMG Medicine New and Established Ambulatory Visits July 2013 YTD; and the UHMG Statement of Operations, July 2013.

Leadership Council

Mr. Creighton recognized the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine for its seamless transition during the EMR conversion. He plans to use Cardiovascular Medicine as a model for the remaining division conversion processes.


Leadership Council


Dr. Walsh thanked council members for their participation in the CARTS Analysis project.


Leadership Council

Dr. Walsh reviewed the UH Case Medical Center results for the 2013/2014 U.S. News & World Report rankings.



Leadership Council

Dr. Walsh recommended that faculty explore the Choosing Wisely© website at This website is an initiative of the ABIM Foundation and is described as follows:

"Choosing Wisely© aims to promote conversations between physicians and patients by helping patients choose care that is: supported by evidence, not duplicative of other tests or procedures already received, free from harm and truly necessary. In response to this challenge, national organizations representing medical specialists have been asked to "choose wisely" by identifying five tests or procedures commonly used in their field, whose necessity should be questioned and discussed. The resulting lists of "Five Things Physicians and Patients Should Question" will spark discussion about the need - or lack thereof - for many frequently ordered tests or treatments. This concept was originally conceived and piloted by the National Physicians Alliance, which, through an ABIM Foundation Putting the Charter into Practice grant, created a set of three lists of specific steps physicians in internal medicine, family medicine and pediatrics could take in their practices to promote the more effective use of health care resources. These lists were first published in Archives of Internal Medicine. Recognizing that patients need better information about what care they truly need to have these conversations with their physicians, Consumer Reports is developing patient-friendly materials and is working with consumer groups to disseminate them widely. Choosing Wisely recommendations should not be used to establish coverage decisions or exclusions. Rather, they are meant to spur conversation about what is appropriate and necessary treatment. As each patient situation is unique, physicians and patients should use the recommendations as guidelines to determine an appropriate treatment plan together."


Leadership Council

Dr. Armitage gave an update on the Medical Education Building Steering Committee of which he is a member. Dr. Watts also reported on the Medical Education Building committees she serves on.

Among the nation's leading academic medical centers, University Hospitals Case Medical Center is the primary affiliate of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, a nationally recognized leader in medical research and education.