Prizes for principles
UTMB’s John P. McGovern Academy of Oslerian Medicine has selected six medical students to receive John P. McGovern Student Scholarships in Oslerian Medicine—among the most generous scholarships awarded to UTMB students. The prizes provide $10,000 per student for each remaining year of medical school and recognize students who have demonstrated the principles exemplified by the legendary Canadian physician Sir William Osler (1849–1919): compassionate, personalized patient care that incorporates a sound scientific basis and professional behavior.
Two students from each of the last three years of medical school were chosen to receive the awards. They were 2004–2005 sophomores Ashley Gallagher and M. Zelime Ward, 2004–2005 juniors Stephen Ratcliff and David Martin Rider, and 2004–2005 seniors Barbara de la Torre and Ryan Scott Gregory.
On the road again
Last spring, UTMB began to operate the new, twelve-bed, city-owned Austin Women’s Hospital (AWH) on the fifth floor of Austin’s Brackenridge Hospital. The “hospital within a hospital” provides labor and delivery as well as reproductive and family planning services for medically indigent women in Central Texas. On August 21, only five months after opening its doors, the facility celebrated its 500th delivery, a boy.
Karen Sexton, vice president and CEO of UTMB’s hospitals and clinics, also oversees AWH’s facilities, staff, and all providers. John D. Stobo, UTMB president, notes that “UTMB has a 112-year history of caring for the medically underserved and considerable expertise in addressing the special health needs of women and children.”
Singing Caruso’s praises
The Houston Chronicle named Kleanthe “Anthe” Caruso, a nursing director at UTMB, one of the ten best nurses in the Houston area in a story published on May 2, 2004. The newspaper recognized Caruso for championing a program that allows new mothers being treated in UTMB’s prison health care system to have visits with their babies. Caruso, immediate past president of the UTMB School of Nursing Alumni Association, received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing from UTMB.
Caruso is director of nursing at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Hospital Nursing Services as well as director of medical/surgical nursing for UTMB. She was the first nursing supervisor at the TDCJ prison hospital when it opened on the UTMB campus in 1984.
Shots over Galveston
The latest volleys of a planned multi-year battle to more than double infant immunization rates in Galveston with free shots for all comers ended in October, with UTMB organizers aiming to continue their leadership of a community-wide vaccination campaign that will be repeated every six months. Led by UTMB, the Galveston Island Infant Immunization Coalition began its campaign in April 2004 and will hold subsequent “Community Immunity” immunization drives in April and October.
Project leaders Martin Myers and Christine Turley of the Department of Pediatrics borrowed several outreach tactics successfully used in Mexico, which has achieved immunization rates of more than 90 percent. More than 600 volunteers from UTMB and the community participated in the first year’s campaign. Myers, associate director for public health policy and education for the Sealy Center for Vaccine Development, says the immunization coalition ultimately hopes to equal Mexico’s impressive immunization statistics. Today only about 40 percent of Galveston toddlers have all the immunizations they need.
Combating prostate cancer
Three UTMB faculty members have won separate federal research awards totaling more than $1.1 million to craft new strategies to prevent, detect, or treat prostate cancer—the second most common malignancy in men after skin cancer. With an estimated 170,000 to 200,000 new cases annually in the United States alone, prostate cancer kills about 30,000 American men each year.
The three awards, totaling more than $1.1 million, were won by UTMB scientists Rinat O. Esenaliev, Owen P. Hamill, and Jingwu Xie and were announced by the Department of Defense Prostate Cancer Research Program.
Esenaliev’s research involves a new way of using tiny particles (nanoparticles) so that they accumulate in the prostate tumor blood vessels to selectively deliver any anti-cancer drug into prostate tumors without damage to normal tissues surrounding the tumors. The award to Esenaliev, an associate professor of neuroscience and cell biology and scientist with UTMB’s Center for Biomedical Engineering, was $566,250.
Hamill’s proposal focuses on ultimately slowing or stopping the cell migration that helps spread prostate cancer tumor cells elsewhere in the body, usually to the bone. An associate professor of neuroscience and cell biology, he theorizes that identifying and characterizing the molecules that enhance or suppress cell migration should lead to new ways to measure disease progression—and thus to ways to better treat prostate cancer. Hamill’s research award was $113,250.
Xie, an assistant professor of pharmacology and toxicology and scientist with UTMB’s Sealy Center for Cancer Cell Biology, notes that only a minority of prostate cancer tumors rapidly progress to become advanced cancers—the main cause of prostate cancer-related death. For that reason, he’s using his $566,148 grant to identify the genetic signaling pathways enhancing or retarding cancer progression to help design strategies to combat prostate cancer.
Boosting Alzheimer’s research
To help UTMB scientists discover how best to treat and ultimately prevent Alzheimer’s disease, the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation has pledged $2.5 million to establish a campus research center dedicated to combating it.
The George P. and Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for Alzheimer’s Disease Research supports scientists aiming to develop earlier diagnostic techniques and to design more effective treatments, as well as those seeking to understand how the disease progresses with an eye to stopping it before it begins. The Mitchell Center will be housed in the planned Translational Research Center, expected to open in 2008.
Alzheimer’s disease is an incurable, age-related brain disorder that gradually leads to severe behavioral and personality changes, serious memory loss, and greatly impaired ability to think. It afflicts up to four million people in the United States and typically appears in about 10 percent of people over age sixty-five and in 50 percent of those over eighty-five.
The Mitchell Foundation’s contribution to Alzheimer’s disease research, which was matched by UTMB, is one of the key commitments to UTMB’s five-year, $250 million fund-raising initiative launched in September 2003. UTMB President John D. Stobo said the pledge serves as both a significant investment in advancing research and care and as a leadership commitment to UTMB’s comprehensive campaign. George Mitchell, who was born in Galveston, built Mitchell Energy into one of the nation’s largest independent gas and oil producers, developed The Woodlands, and primed the pump for development of Galveston’s Strand Historic District.