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Creating a healthy future for West Virginia

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Students from the West Virginia University School of Pharmacy are determined to stop the increasing number of children and adults who are diagnosed with diabetes each year. On Feb. 25, WVU student pharmacists traveled to North Elementary School in Morgantown to educate children in the Kaleidoscope after-school program about diabetes and the importance of diet and physical activity to living a healthy life. “We wanted to focus on a disease state that is common in West Virginia and target children before they get the disease,” second-year pharmacy student Jeff Davis said. “The main causes of Type 2 diabetes are obesity and an inactive lifestyle.” The student pharmacists helped educate the children about making better health and exercise choices through Kaleidoscope - a fun, hands-on activity that uses hula hoops and coloring to illustrate how diabetes affects the body. “We hope the activity made diabetes and the importance of insulin to a healthy body easier for the children to understand,” Davis said. “Physical activity helps the body’s production of insulin. This is why being active is so important.” The student pharmacists not only had a goal of reaching the children through their presentation, but also the children’s parents and guardians. “Parents should be encouraging their children to make healthier lifestyle choices, but they should lead by example,” Davis said. “We must remember that while cases of children being diagnosed with diabetes are increasing, so are cases of adults being diagnosed, especially in the state of West Virginia. We hope the children in Kaleidoscope take the information they learned home to their families so they can start making their families healthier.” The students’ project focused on parts of the Healthy People 2020 initiative, a nationwide program that aims to improve the public’s health over the next 10 years by working toward a variety of healthcare objectives, including reducing diabetes, its economic burden and improving the overall quality of life for people who have or are at risk for diabetes. The student pharmacists were partnered with North Elementary School through the WVU Center for Civic Engagement as part of their Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experience course, which promotes service to the community. The students received funding for the activity through the Mountains of Hope Cancer Coalition and UnitedHealth HEROES Youth Service of America grants. Photo caption: North Elementary School students Cynthia Shi (left) and Shivali Halabe (right) learn through an educational activity that insulin and fitness are important to preventing diabetes.   [...]

Speedway SuperAmerica raises nearly $320,000 for WVU Children’s Hospital

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Speedway SuperAmerica LLC has donated $319,468 to West Virginia University Children’s Hospital as part of the $5.6 million donated to Children’s Miracle Network from its 2010 fundraising campaign. This represents a new record in giving for Speedway and SuperAmerica employees, customers and vendor partners. Additionally, 2010 marks the second consecutive year that Speedway SuperAmerica has increased its fundraising contribution by more than $1 million as compared to the previous year. There are 111 stores in West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky that raise money for WVU Children’s Hospital. Store #9163 in Point Pleasant, W.Va., raised the most money in 2010 with $9,757. Since 2004, more than $1 million has been donated to WVU Children’s Hospital. “We appreciate the generosity of Speedway SuperAmerica employees and customers for donating these funds to us,” Cheryl Jones, R.N., director of WVU Children’s Hospital, said. “With this money we will be able to provide high quality healthcare to children from all over the region.” “We are committed to making a positive difference in the lives of our customers in the communities in which we operate,” Glenn Plumby, vice president of operations for Speedway SuperAmerica, said. “This tremendous accomplishment simply could not have happened without the sincere care and enthusiasm our employees have for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Through their efforts, the generosity of our customers is maximized; when they give in nickels and dimes, it is clear that a little change can make a big difference.” Speedway SuperAmerica raises funds for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals in a variety of ways across its market areas. Speedway has been a committed supporter of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals since 1991. WVU Children’s Hospital provides maternal, infant and pediatric care for West Virginia and the surrounding region, giving care to high-risk mothers, premature infants and children with life-threatening conditions through adolescence to adulthood. It is the only Children’s Miracle Network hospital in the state. For information on WVU Children’s Hospital, see www.wvukids.com.     Children’s Miracle Network is a fundraising program to benefit hospitals providing healthcare for children. Created by the Osmond Foundation in 1983, Children’s Miracle Network includes 170 hospitals throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico. For information on Children’s Miracle Network, see www.childrensmiraclenetwork.org.   [...]

Annual Van Liere event offers WVU Health Sciences students opportunity to display research and learn

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Student researchers from the various West Virginia University Health Sciences programs along with residents, faculty, postdoctoral students and clinical fellows will join together during a two-part event at the Health Sciences Center this week. The 2011 E.J. Van Liere Memorial Convocation and Research Day will highlight research work done by students and feature a guest speaker. The first portion of the event, which begins on Friday, March 11, culminates months of research and work done by students in the schools of Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy. Students’ research will be displayed in a poster-viewing session allowing staff members, faculty and peers to discuss work being done at the HSC. The poster session will be held in the Ruby Grand Hall of the Erickson Alumni Center.     “We invite HSC employees and the WVU and Morgantown communities to engage in lively scientific discussions at the Van Liere Convocation and Research Day. This day highlights the research of our students, residents, fellows and faculty in a setting much like a national scientific meeting,” Fred Minnear, Ph.D., assistant vice president for graduate education, said. Not only does the Van Liere event allow students to engage in competitive research, but it also affords them a chance to learn from an established member of the medical research community. At 1 p.m., after the research poster session, Kenneth Chien, M.D., Ph.D., professor of cell biology at Harvard Medical School, will present “How to Make a Heart: Towards Heart Stem Cell Therapeutics” in the Fukushima Auditorium.   Chien is the scientific director of the Cardiovascular Research Center at Massachusetts General Hospital. He is also a member of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute. His research has focused on cardiovascular stem cells used to achieve heart muscle regeneration. After the lecture, from 2 to 4:30 p.m., the event will wind down with the Van Liere Memorial Convocation during which students will give presentations on their work. The day will conclude with an award ceremony at 5 p.m. Both the convocation and the award ceremony will be held in the Fukushima Auditorium. The event is named after Edward J. Van Liere, M.D., who was critical in the creation of the medical program at WVU. Called the “father of the WVU Medical Center,” Dr. Van Liere was professor and chair of physiology before he became dean of the School of Medicine in 1937. He developed the two-year medical school into a four-year accredited program. For more information on the 2011 E.J. Van Liere Memorial Convocation and Research Day see www.hsc.wvu.edu/resoff/vlrd/Default.aspx.   [...]

WVU researchers develop online prognostic tool for lung cancer

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Determining the best way to treat lung cancer – the leading cancer killer for both men and women – is an ongoing challenge to cancer doctors. But researchers at the West Virginia University Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center have developed an online tool to help doctors develop a treatment plan for their patients. Current treatment is based on tumor staging, which determines the extent of cancer and whether it has spread to other parts of the body. While staging is a strong predictor of survival, doctors can not rely on it to predict patient outcomes using various methods of treatment. Patients diagnosed with early disease can respond differently to the same treatment and up to 50 percent of those who undergo surgery – the major treatment option – relapse within five years. Cancer Center researchers led by Lan Guo, Ph.D., have created an online prognostic tool called personalizedrx.org aimed at helping lung cancer doctors accurately estimate patient outcomes and determine the best course of treatment on a patient-by-patient basis. Their work, “Combining Clinical, Pathological, and Demographic Factors Refines Prognosis of Lung Cancer: A Population-Based Study,” has been published in the Feb. 25 edition of “PLoS ONE,” an international, peer-reviewed, online publication of the U.S. Public Library of Science. “Personalized Rx is a comprehensive prognostic model that investigates the impact of clinical, pathological and demographic factors on lung cancer survival based on clinical data on thousands of lung cancer patients from the SEER (Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results) database,” Dr. Guo said. “Those factors include tumor stage, tumor grade, age, race, gender and histology, all of which are strongly associated with lung cancer survival.” The SEER Program database is a key source for  cancer statistics in the United States. To use personalizedrx.org a doctor simply plugs in the clinical, pathological and demographic factors for a specific patient, which allows the model to draw from its data to calculate an estimated survival rate for that patient and an estimated survival rate based on specific treatment options. The model also estimates the patient’s risk for tumor recurrence. “This model takes into account factors that are critically important in the clinical decision-making process,” Scot Remick, M.D., director of the Cancer Center and co-author of the research, said.  “It is to be used strictly as a supplemental tool by doctors to help them individualize lung cancer treatment.” Funding for the research was supported by a $1 million National Institutes of Health grant provided under the Recovery Act and a $1 million dollar grant funded by the U.S. National Library of Science. Joseph Putila, graduate student in the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center, also co-authored the research.  To view the research online see http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0017493.   [...]

WVU researcher receives international award for work in nanotechnology

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – When a prestigious international foundation that specializes in recognizing landmark innovations for trauma and musculoskeletal procedures meets in Berlin this summer, a West Virginia University professor’s nanoscale research aimed at preventing infections in people suffering with open or compound fractures will be in the spotlight. Bingyun Li, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the WVU Department of Orthopaedics, will receive the AO Foundation’s Berton Rahn Research Prize on July 23 in Berlin. The foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Switzerland and led by an international group of surgeons who specialize in the treatment of trauma and disorders of the musculoskeletal system. It offers affiliated surgeons and operating room personnel global networking opportunities and knowledge services. Dr. Li is receiving the award in recognition of his successful research on innovative ways to treat open fracture-associated infections. His research group piloted the concept of stimulating appropriate immune responses using a unique cytokine, a protein released by cells, to prevent infection and then using nanotechnology to deliver infection-fighting medication to fracture sites. An open fracture is a broken bone that penetrates the skin, often requiring an operation to clean the area of the fracture. The injury is specifically difficult because of the risk of infection and healing when a fracture is open to the skin. “Infection is one of the most common and potentially problematic complications faced by literally millions of patients annually,” Li said. “Current antibiotic therapy strategies are facing challenges. The objective of our study was to explore local delivery of medication with nanocoatings to restore and enhance immunity for infection prevention.” Li’s approach made use of multilayer nanocoatings for delivery of medication. “The work was innovative because it explored, for the first time, local applications of a natural cytokine at the implant/tissue interface for infection prevention. The cytokine (i.e. interleukin 12) plays a central role in cell-mediated immune response and bridges innate and adaptive immunities, and local application of such a cytokine could have significant applications in the field of orthopaedics and other biomedical fields,” Li said. Nanoscience is the science of the extremely tiny, not as small as atoms or molecules, but much smaller than anything that can be seen with the naked eye. At these “nanoscales,” materials possess very different properties giving them very unique abilities. Nanoscale science and engineering is the attempt to learn about and use those special properties in the creation of novel products for a range of different industries. Li’s work uses coatings on the nanoscale to more effectively deliver medications and, in this case, prevent infections. He will receive the award at a meeting that will be attended by world renowned surgeons, clinicians and researchers from all over the world. He has also been asked to make a presentation about his research. WVU Vice President for Research and Economic Development Curt M. Peterson said the international recognition brings prestige to Li’s work and WVU. “The University is delighted that Li’s research is being honored in this fashion,” Peterson said. “His work has the potential to help prevent a great deal of suffering by future patients – a worthy accomplishment that is being appropriately recognized by an international audience.” Li became an assistant professor of orthopaedics at WVU in 2005.  He is director of the Biomaterials, Bioengineering and Nanotechnology Laboratory at the WVU School of Medicine and a participant in WVNano – West Virginia’s focal point for discovery and innovation in nanoscale science, engineering and education.  He is a guest researcher at the federal National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention facilities in Morgantown. In addition to being on the graduate faculty at the WVU School of Pharmacy, Li is an adjunct assistant professor of chemical engineering in the WVU College of Engineering and Mineral Resources.   [...]

WVU Pharmacy students advocate for changes to the profession

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Eighty West Virginia University School of Pharmacy students will travel to the State Capitol on Monday, March 7, to advocate for their profession during Pharmacy Day at the Legislature. The goal for the student pharmacists is to discuss the revisions and updates to the Pharmacy Practice Act, which is in review this legislative session. A practice act defines how a certain profession can practice in the state and outlines all laws and regulations that must be followed for that profession. Each year the legislature asks different boards in the state to review their practice act to keep the laws current. “We are fortunate as students to be able to give our input on the way we will practice as future pharmacists,” second-year student pharmacist Kristin Showen said.  “It’s great to see so many WVU pharmacy students taking an interest in this important matter.” Changes to the Practice Act have been proposed by the West Virginia Board of Pharmacy, with input from the WVU School of Pharmacy and University of Charleston, and will be introduced as House Bill 2513. There has not been an update to the Practice Act since pharmacy schools have changed from a bachelor’s degree to a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree — approximately a decade ago. The advanced Pharm.D. degree provides more clinical knowledge and training, making the need to expand the scope of pharmacy practice as stated in the current West Virginia Code even more important. Students will meet with legislators and talk to them about the important changes that are proposed, including allowing trained and certified pharmacy students to provide immunizations. “Allowing student pharmacists to provide immunizations will give us the experience we need to provide this service to our community members after we graduate,” Showen said. “This will help increase the number of immunizing pharmacists in our communities, and it will also make it easier and more convenient for patients to get these immunizations.” The WVU student pharmacists will also provide health screenings during Pharmacy Day at the Legislature in the lobby of the State Capitol. Screenings will include blood glucose testing, blood pressure screenings and bone density screenings. “We hope that through educating our legislators about the types of healthcare services pharmacists offer to the members of our community, the proposed changes pass so pharmacists can provide the best healthcare to West Virginians who need it,” Showen added.   [...]

Bonnie’s Bus begins third year of operation

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Bonnie’s Bus, a digital mammography center on wheels offering digital mammograms and breast care education to women, will visit Lewis County as the Bus begins its third consecutive year of operation. A service of WVU Healthcare, Bonnie’s Bus will be at Stonewall Resort in Roanoke from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, March 15, and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesday, March 16.   The mammograms are billed to insurance, Medicaid or Medicare if available. Mammograms for women who do not have insurance will be covered by the West Virginia Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program or through a special grant from the Susan B. Komen for the Cure Foundation. A physician’s order is needed for a mammogram. For a Bonnie’s Bus appointment call the Tri-County Health Clinic at 304-924-6262.  Last year, Bonnie’s Bus made 65 visits in 30 counties throughout West Virginia providing mammography screening to nearly 800 women. About half of those screened were medically underserved women from challenged socio-economic backgrounds and qualified for screening through the Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program. The goal for this year is to screen at least 1,200 women. Bonnie’s Bus works in collaboration with a statewide partnership of women’s groups, clinicians, public health professionals and other community leaders working to help reduce the number of deaths from breast cancer in West Virginia. Made possible by a generous gift from West Virginia natives Jo and Ben Statler to WVU’s Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center, Bonnie’s Bus is operated by WVU Hospitals. The bus is named after Mrs. Statler's late mother, Bonnie Wells Wilson. For information on Bonnie’s Bus, see www.wvucancer.org/bonnie. Attention reporters and editors: If you are interested in covering Bonnie’s Bus when it visits your area, please call the HSC News Service in Morgantown at 304-293-7087 in advance. Out of respect for patient privacy, please do not show up at the location without scheduling an appropriate time for interviews and/or photos.   [...]

Walk your way to better health

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – It’s that time of year again – time to start organizing your team for the annual “Walk 100 Miles in 100 Days” campaign, which runs from March 21 through June 28. [...]

Take control of your health

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Heart disease is the leading cause of death among men and women in West Virginia and the United States. In fact, it kills nearly 7,000 West Virginians each year; in the United States, that number is close to a half million. [...]

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