3D metal printer at College of Dental Medicine expands possibilities for innovation

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IMAGE: The component that Renne was able to print for the ZIAN team.
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Credit: MUSC

When the Zucker Institute for Applied Neurosciences at the Medical University of South Carolina needed to bring to life a neurosurgeon’s idea for better instrumentation for sacroiliac surgery, there was one obvious partner to turn to: the MUSC College of Dental Medicine.

The college is the only dental program in the nation to have the Sisma Mysint100 3D selective laser fusion printer that creates 3D prints from metal rather than plastic, and Walter Renne, D.M.D., a professor in the Department of Oral Rehabilitation and assistant dean of innovation and digital dentistry, is eager to see what it can do.

“3D printing is how we get stuff from our imagination into reality. One of the issues in the past was most of what we could print was plastic, and plastic degrades. You need something to actually function,” he said. “Now, instead of imagining something and developing a plastic prototype that I can look at, I can imagine something and develop a real, usable final product that can be put into a drill or placed in a patient’s mouth. It’s really exciting to have that at the university.”

The manufacturer, Sisma, donated the printer about six months ago. Renne said Sisma wanted its latest device to find a home in a college that would think up creative and innovative uses for it. Those uses aren’t limited to dentistry, however.

The college and ZIAN have collaborated in the past, so it was natural for ZIAN to turn to Renne and colleagues for help with this project, which started with an idea from Stephen Kalhorn, M.D., a professor in the Department of Neurosurgery.

Kalhorn has worked several times before with ZIAN, a technology accelerator that exists to help MUSC’s medical providers to develop their ideas for new devices or device improvements.

“I run things by them because then I can spend the majority of my time in the operating room actively helping patients,” he said. “I can literally drop off a napkin sketch at a ZIAN engineer’s desk or even less than that. There’s even been times that I’ve just drawn on the dry-erase board in the OR and taken a picture and sent it to them, and they’re off to the races.”

This time, Kalhorn had an idea to improve sacroiliac joint fusion surgery. The sacroiliac joint is where the pelvis and spine meet; it is also a source of lower back pain. Fusion surgery encourages the two bones to grow together into one so there is no wiggle room between the two.

Bony fusion requires three elements, Kalhorn explained: stabilization, such as when a cast is placed on a broken limb; decortication, which is the removal of the top layer of tissue to ensure there’s no cartilage or fibrous material blocking the bone cells from building a bridge between the two bones; and compression, whereby the pressure encourages more bone growth. But nothing on the

College of Medicine researcher makes novel discoveries in preventing epileptic seizures

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IMAGE: Sanjay Kumar, an associate professor in the Florida State University College of Medicine’s Department of Biomedical Sciences
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Credit: Colin Hackley

A team of researchers from the Florida State University College of Medicine has found that an amino acid produced by the brain could play a crucial role in preventing a type of epileptic seizure.

Temporal lobe epileptic seizures are debilitating and can cause lasting damage in patients, including neuronal death and loss of neuron function.

Sanjay Kumar, an associate professor in the College of Medicine’s Department of Biomedical Sciences, and his team are paving the way toward finding effective therapies for this disease.

The research team found a mechanism in the brain responsible for triggering epileptic seizures. Their research indicates that an amino acid known as D-serine could work with the mechanism to help prevent epileptic seizures, thereby also preventing the death of neural cells that accompanies them.

The team’s findings were published in the journal Nature Communications.

The temporal lobe processes sensory information and creates memories, comprehends language and controls emotions. Temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) is the most common form of epilepsy in adults and is not improved with current anti-epileptic medications.

“A hallmark of TLE is the loss of a vulnerable population of neurons in a particular brain region called the entorhinal area,” Kumar said. “We’re trying to understand why neurons die in this brain region in the first place. From there, is there anything that we can do to stop these neurons from dying? It’s a very fundamental question.”

To help further understand TLE pathophysiology, the Kumar lab studies underlying receptors in the brain. Receptors are proteins located in the gaps, or junctions, between two or more communicating neurons. They convert signals between the neurons, aiding in their communication.

Kumar and his team discovered a new type of receptor that they informally named the “FSU receptor” in the entorhinal cortex of the brain. The FSU receptor is a potential target for TLE therapy.

“What’s striking about this receptor is that it is highly calcium-permeable, which is what we believe underlies the hyperexcitability and the damage to neurons in this region,” Kumar said.

When FSU receptors allow too much calcium to enter neurons, TLE patients experience epileptic seizures as neurons become overstimulated from the influx. The overstimulation, or hyperexcitability, is what causes neurons to die, a process known as excitotoxicity.

The research team also found that the amino acid D-serine blocks these receptors to prevent excess levels of calcium from reaching neurons, thereby preventing seizure activity and neuronal death.

“What’s unique about D-serine, unlike any other drugs that are out there, is that D-serine is made in the brain itself, so it’s well-tolerated by the brain,” Kumar said. “Many medications that deal with treating TLE are not well-tolerated, but given that this is made in the brain, it works very well.”

With assistance from Michael Roper’s lab in the FSU Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, the research team found that D-serine levels were depleted

UNE to move its College of Osteopathic Medicine to Portland

BIDDEFORD, Maine (AP) — Funding from the Harold Alfond Foundation will help the University of New England move the College of Osteopathic Medicine from the main campus in Biddeford to a 100,000-square-foot building in Portland, the university announced Tuesday.

The $30 million grant also will be used to accelerate high-growth undergraduate and graduate programs to meet student demand and workforce needs in areas like aquaculture, entrepreneurship, criminal justice and sports media communication, among others, officials said.

The move of the College of Osteopathic Medicine will put it on the Portland campus along with other health-related programs like dentistry, pharmacy, physician assistant, nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, social work, dental hygiene and nurse anesthesia.

“With a truly integrated health care campus, like none other in our region, our health professions students will capitalize on opportunities for cross-professional learning, enhance their team-based competencies, and will benefit from amazing new learning spaces that will complement UNE’s existing assets,” said UNE President James Herbert.

The university hopes to break ground on the new building in the spring 2022 and looks to the fall 2023 as a targeted completion date, officials said.

The grant from the Harold Alfond Foundation is part of a $500 million commitment over 12 years to provide an economic boost to the state.

“We believe that two fundamental components of a bright future for Maine are a high-quality education and a healthy population, and UNE is a significant contributor toward both of these goals,” said Greg Powell, chairman of the foundation.

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OU college of medicine plans mobile classroom to promote diversity in health professions

OKLAHOMA CITY — A large RV, customized as a health education classroom on wheels, is among the new projects the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine plans with a $2.8 million grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration.

The grant is a one-year supplement that augments an initial $4.7 million award to the OU College of Medicine last year. The aim of the grant is to recruit, retain and admit students from rural, tribal and medically underserved areas, and to expand the primary care experience among current medical students. Data shows that students from those groups who attend medical school and residency in Oklahoma are more likely to return to their communities to practice medicine.

“Of Oklahoma’s 77 counties, 76 have a shortage of primary care physicians, and the need is particularly great in rural areas, underserved communities and tribes. The ultimate goal of this grant is to reduce healthcare disparities among Oklahomans and raise the health of the state,” said Steven Crawford, M.D., Senior Associate Dean of the College of Medicine and director of the Office of Healthcare Innovation and Policy. Crawford is leading the grant with James Herman, M.D., Dean of the OU-TU School of Community Medicine on the Tulsa campus.

The mobile classroom will allow the OU College of Medicine to introduce young people across Oklahoma to careers in health and to give them hands-on experience with activities like suturing, using a stethoscope or a microscope. The classroom will especially be geared toward smaller communities with fewer resources. Students from those areas may have the interest and skills to enter a health profession, but lack the opportunities to pursue it, said Robert Salinas, M.D., Assistant Dean for Diversity in the College of Medicine and a faculty lead for the grant.

“This mobile classroom will be a major asset in our outreach and in building long-term relationships with young people,” Salinas said. “This is not a one-year event, but is part of our efforts to build a pathway to medical school in which we mentor them over several years.”

Current students from all seven colleges at the OU Health Sciences Center, as well as the Anne and Henry Zarrow School of Social Work on OU’s Norman campus, will accompany the mobile classroom on trips around the state as part of their training to care for patients as an interprofessional team. They will not only introduce their chosen disciplines to the young people they encounter, but also see first-hand the challenges of life in underserved areas, where there are numerous barriers to good health.

The grant supplement will also allow the OU College of Medicine to launch the Medical School Readiness Program, an opportunity for students to be mentored as they prepare for the Medical College Admission Test, take part in mock interviews and job shadowing. This program is geared toward highly motivated students who traditionally have lacked the resources, because of time or money, to prepare for medical school.

The OU-TU School of Community Medicine, the

Top federal health officials visit Baylor College of Medicine for an update on COVID-19 vaccine trial

HOUSTON – Baylor College of Medicine is playing a crucial role in two of the most important parts of the fight against COVID-19 — the development of a safe and effective vaccine and some of the next most promising treatments for the virus.

Two of the country’s top health officials, Eric Hargan, the Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, both said there are many reasons to be optimistic in the fight against COVID-19.

Four vaccines are now in Phase 3 human trials, including one at Baylor College of Medicine. All the trials being conducted under President Donald Trump’s Operation Warp Speed.

“There are no safety corners being cut here. It’s really about buying down the risk by doing multiple steps at the same time that normally would have taken months and in most cases, years to accomplish in a stepwise fashion,” Adams said.

Health officials said they won’t support a vaccine’s approval unless the trial includes a large and diverse group of volunteers. Baylor College of Medicine is playing a crucial role in that.

“Baylor is doing a lot on this space to make sure that when we have a vaccine, it is safe and effective and that people trust it,” Adams said.

Getting a safe and effective vaccine across the finish line, from a research point of view, is only step one of the process.

“We will have, hopefully, a number of vaccines and hopefully we will get them produced. It could be produced at the same time,” said Hargan.

The Department of Health and Human Services released it’s initial vaccine distribution plan last week. They discovered delivering substantial quantities of a vaccine, which health officials said could happen by the end of the year, will logistically be the hardest vaccine distribution in history.

“We’ve got some vaccines that are two doses. We’ve got some vaccines that are one dose. We have some vaccines that have to be kept refrigerated at an incredibly cold temperature,” Adams explained.

Copyright 2020 by KPRC Click2Houston – All rights reserved.

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Harvard Psychiatric Leader Appointed to Posts at Baylor College of Medicine and Menninger Clinic

HOUSTON, Sept. 28, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Baylor College of Medicine and The Menninger Clinic jointly announce the hiring of Robert J. Boland, M.D., as vice chairman of the Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Baylor College of Medicine and chief of staff at The Menninger Clinic. Boland joins the organizations on January 4, 2021, after transitioning from Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Boland is currently vice chair of education and director of the psychiatry residency program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He is also an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and is board certified in psychiatry with expertise in medical education, psychosomatic medicine and geriatric psychiatry. He is an alumnus of Georgetown University where he earned his undergraduate and medical degrees.

Prior to joining Brigham and Women’s Hospital five years ago, Boland had an 18-year tenure at the Alpert School of Medicine at Brown University, Providence, RI. He developed special interest in depression resulting from medical illness and, with Brown and the Centers for Disease Control, he examined the influence of depression on the course of HIV in women.  Currently, he’s an associate editor of Journal of Technology in Behavioral Science.

“Dr. Boland brings exceptional leadership experience and skills to The Menninger Clinic and to Baylor College of Medicine. His focus on innovation and the application of technology in our field of medicine is important to patients of the Texas Medical Center,” says Wayne Goodman, M.D., Chair and the D.C. and Irene Ellwood Chair in Psychiatry, Baylor College of Medicine Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science.

As one of Baylor’s teaching hospitals for psychiatrists and psychologists, The Menninger Clinic values Boland’s mentoring of early-career psychiatrists and other mental health clinicians. In addition, His work in geriatric psychiatry and consultation-liaison psychiatry required the ability to treat complex patients, which Menninger has specialized in treating for 95 years.

“Dr. Boland is an innovator in the way patient care is delivered to meet the needs of communities today,” said Armando E. Colombo, president and CEO of The Menninger Clinic. “We share a common belief about the opportunity of psychiatry to improve the productivity and health of individuals, families and communities.”

A nationally ranked hospital, The Menninger Clinic serves Houston and Texas and is also a trusted assessment and treatment provider for people across the country.

Contact:  Nancy Trowbridg
C: 713-806-5061
ntrowbridge@menninger.edu

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