May 2012

News

New Drexel Dermatology Center for Transplant Patients

Organ transplant recipients are up to 50 times more likely to develop skin cancers than the general population because of the immunosuppressant medicines they take to prevent rejection. Early detection and appropriate treatment are critical. To meet this need, Alden Doyle, M.D., MPH, a transplant nephrologist who is interested in designing systems to promote long-term wellness in transplant patients, collaborated with Drs. Mark Abdelmalek, Christina Chung, and Carrie Cusack, all dermatologists, to create the Drexel Dermatology Center for Transplant Patients. The center offers personalized treatment by dermatologists who have a particular interest and expertise in the care of this high-risk population.

As part of a continuum of care for transplant patients, the center will allow physicians to track outcomes and set up collaborative research projects between groups. “We can provide really integrated care,” Doyle said. “Because our transplant patients are already in the system, we have a record of all the medicines they are taking. Eventually, we can start to report on the experience.”

Daphney Jean, Ph.D., earned a two-year postdoctoral fellowship (with an option for a potential third year) from the Brody Family Medical Trust to work under the supervision of Dr. Peter Baas at Drexel University on the mechanism and potential therapy for microtubule loss underlying nerve degeneration in Alzheimer's disease. Daphney was one of only three recipients of this honor in a highly competitive arena of applicants. She earned her doctoral degree in Drexel's Graduate Program in Neuroscience in January 2012 working under the co-mentorship of Dr. Baas and Dr. Mark Black at Temple University. Her project dealt with the role of doublecortin in the organization of microtubules in the growth cones of elongating axons from neurons. Dr. Jean will begin her postdoctoral studies on the funded project in July 2012.

Andrew S. Wechsler, M.D., professor and former chair, Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, presented “A New Epicardial Method for Surgical Left Ventricular Volume Reduction: Six Month Results in the first 26 patients” at the European Society for Cardiovascular Surgery meeting in Dubrovnik, Croatia.

Publications

Researchers Develop Assay for Colorectal Cancer

Benjamin P. Song, a former research intern; Surbhi Jain, Ph.D., postdoctoral researcher; Selena Y. Lin, doctoral student; Quan Chen, former research intern; Timothy M. Block, Ph.D., professor; Ying-Hsiu Su, Ph.D., research associate professor, all in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology; and collaborators published “Detection of Hypermethylated Vimentin in Urine of Patients with Colorectal Cancer” in the March 2012 issue of The Journal of Molecular Diagnostics. Drexel University College of Medicine has applied for a provisional patent.

Based on this study, the colon cancer validation study funded by the National Cancer Institute’s Early Detection Research Network (protocol ID 320) has added the collection of urine samples from 6,000 subjects to test hypermethylated vimentin (mVIM) in urine for the early detection of colon cancer. Dr. Su’s group has provided the standard operating procedure for urine collection in this study protocol and will be preparing the SOP for the detection of mVIM in urine in the study.

Grants & Acknowledgements

Major NIH Grant for Research into Antimalarial Compounds

The College of Medicine has been awarded a $1,954,696 grant by the National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for a four-year project to investigate molecular pathways targeted by antimalarial pyrazole compounds. The compounds were discovered and are being developed by the Drexel Med team led by Dr. Akhil B. Vaidya, as the principal investigator (PI), with Drs. Lawrence W. Bergman and Sandhya Kortagere as co-investigators (all are faculty members in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology). The drug discovery and development work has been supported over the last three years with a grant totaling $1,076,000 from Medicines for Malaria Research, a nonprofit organization based in Geneva, Switzerland. The Drexel team is collaborating with an international group of investigators in the United States, Australia, Singapore, and Switzerland for preclinical development of a potentially new antimalarial drug.

Andrew Rosenzweig, M.D., clinical assistant professor, Department of Medicine, has been elected president of the Eastern Pennsylvania Geriatrics Society.

Michael A. Goldfarb, M.D., professor, Department of Surgery, and chair of surgery at Monmouth Medical Center, was named president-elect of the New Jersey Chapter of the American College of Surgeons, after previously serving as vice president.

Malcom Schwartz, D.O., clinical associate professor, Department of Pediatrics, and a pediatric endocrinologist with The Children’s Hospital at Monmouth Medical Center, was recently recognized by the New Jersey Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Association for his work as a pioneer in the research and treatment of myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome.

Douglas F. Clough, M.D., clinical assistant professor of medicine, was honored by the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American College of Physicians for his ongoing leadership and grass-roots involvement in advocacy activities on behalf of patients and physicians in Pennsylvania. He is on staff at Allegheny General Hospital, UPMC Passavant Hospital and St. John’s Specialty Care. Clough is also chairman of the board of the Allegheny County Medical Society.

Christopher Vinnard, M.D., assistant professor of medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases and HIV Medicine, received a Grand Challenges Explorations Grant, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for his proposal to develop a low-cost point-of-care urine test that can safely and accurately identify tuberculosis patients who poorly absorb anti-TB drugs. Testing patients for inadequate drug bioavailability could enable better drug dose optimization and decrease transmission rates. Click here for more information