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UA Physician-Scientist Tackling Neurogenerative Disorders With Novel Stem Cell Technology

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a common age-related neurological disorder that affects about 1.5 million people in the United States alone. Although drugs and surgical approaches that alleviate PD symptoms are available, no treatments exist to slow or prevent the progression of the disease. One major roadblock in developing such disease-modifying treatments has been an inadequate understanding of how PD develops.

That soon may change, as University of Arizona physician-turned-researcher Lalitha Madhavan, MD, PhD, is studying novel stem cell biology and its applications toward understanding and treating neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s disease.

Dr. Madhavan, an assistant professor in the Department of Neurology in the UA College of Medicine – Tucson and head of the UA Stem Cells and Neurodegeneration Lab, always dreamed of being a physician. After completing medical school, for several years she was involved in clinical practice where she supported the care of patients with degenerative brain diseases like...

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Dr. Lawrence J. Mandarino to Head new UA Center for Disparities in Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism

Lawrence J. Mandarino, PhD, has been appointed to lead the new UA Center for Disparities in Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism at the University of Arizona Health Sciences. Dr. Mandarino also will serve as chief of the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism in the Department of Medicine at the UA College of Medicine – Tucson.

Dr. Mandarino comes to the UA from Arizona State University where he has served as director of the Center for Metabolic Biology and director of the Mayo/ASU Center for Metabolic and Vascular Biology at Mayo Clinic Arizona. Dr. Mandarino previously spent more than 12 years at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio in the Departments of Medicine, Biochemistry and Physiology. He has held faculty appointments at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of California, San Diego, after performing a postdoctoral fellowship in endocrinology at the Mayo Clinic.

 “I am extremely pleased to welcome Dr. Mandarino to the UA Health Sciences in these important leadership roles,” said Joe G.N. “Skip” Garcia, MD, UA senior vice president for health sciences. “As an established scientist with an...

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New Snakebite Treatment Under Development at UA College of Medicine – Tucson

Time is of the essence for treating venomous snakebites, and a product being developed by University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson researchers may extend that window for treatment.

The researchers hope this new treatment will delay or prevent some of the most serious consequences of bites from rattlesnakes and other venomous snakes.

The product – which still must undergo lengthy lab and clinical trials – is intended to act as a “bridge” that buys time for a person who faces the potentially life-threatening effects of a snakebite, which may occur far from medical care. The treatment might be stocked in ambulances, or included in first-aid kits for campers and hikers, said Vance G. Nielsen, MD, professor and vice chair for research in the Department of Anesthesiology.

Dr. Nielsen led the research, collaborating with toxinologist Leslie Boyer, MD, founding director of the UA VIPER Institute and associate professor of pathology, who develops antivenom treatments for snakebite and scorpion stings.

The team has been working with...

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UAHS Researchers Contribute to National CDC Study that Estimates 1 in 68 U.S. Children Having an Autism Spectrum Disorder

Researchers from the University of Arizona Health Sciences participated in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study that estimates that 1 in 68 children in the United States has been identified as having an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), based on tracking across multiple areas of the nation.

In Arizona, the findings were slightly higher, with 1 in 66 of 8-year-old children in Maricopa County identified with ASD.

However, the 2012 findings showed no significant change from 2010 in the percentage of children identified with autism.

Margaret Kurzius-Spencer, PhD, MPH, MS, assistant professor, UA Department of Pediatrics and researcher with the UA Steele Children’s Research Center, and Sydney Pettygrove, PhD, epidemiologist and assistant professor in the UA Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, are co-principal Investigators of the Arizona Developmental Disabilities Surveillance Program (ADDSP), the Arizona site of the...

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Dr. Charles B. Cairns Named Dean of UA College of Medicine – Tucson

Charles B. Cairns, MD, FACEP, FAHA, a nationally recognized leader in emergency medicine and critical care research who has served as interim dean of the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson since February 2015, has been appointed dean of the college, effective April 11.

“As interim dean for the past 14 months, Dr. Cairns has provided outstanding leadership stability and played a critical role in the transition of the college’s clinical practice group under the University’s Academic Affiliation Agreement with Banner Health,” said Joe G.N. “Skip” Garcia, MD, UA senior vice president for health sciences. “His leadership skills and passion for academic excellence have been recognized and embraced by everyone at the college and by our colleagues within the University and from Banner Health,” said Dr. Garcia.

“It is an exceptional honor to be asked to serve as the eighth dean of the College of Medicine – Tucson, following in the leadership footsteps of such icons as Merlin DuVal and James Dalen,” said Dr. Cairns. “The faculty, staff and trainees of the college are an incredibly talented group who demonstrate daily a passion for discovery and...

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‘The Science of Consciousness’ Conference Asks Big Questions, April 25-30

After 23 years, the seminal conference “Toward a Science of Consciousness” now is simply “The Science of Consciousness” (TSC), the world’s largest and longest-running gathering related to consciousness and perceived reality. But as consciousness cannot be observed, explained nor commonly defined, is there now truly a science of consciousness? Are we there yet?

We do, finally, have proper questions. Is the brain a computer? When, where and how did consciousness evolve? Can we have free will, or are we just “along for the ride?” Will consciousness be reproduced through brain mapping, trans-humanism and/or artificial intelligence? Or, has consciousness “been here all along”? Does the brain “tune into” conscious precursors existing naturally in the universe? What are the implications of either view for the nature of existence, and mental, cognitive and spiritual disorders?

These questions will be debated in plenary and concurrent talks, posters, exhibits, workshops, parties and performances at TSC beginning Monday, April 25, 9 a.m., through Saturday evening, April 30, at Loews Ventana Canyon, 7000 N. Resort Drive, Tucson, Ariz.

Nine hundred...

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UA College of Medicine - Tucson names new associate dean for student affairs and admissions

George Fantry, MD, has been named associate dean for student affairs and admissions at the UA College of Medicine – Tucson. Dr. Fantry will begin in this role in July 2016.

"I am looking forward to the opportunity to collaborate with great colleagues and staff, working to create an environment and overall experience that will allow each student to flourish academically, personally and professionally, leading them to a successful residency match and pursuit of their career goals," Dr. Fantry said.

Dr. Fantry plans to build the student affairs and admissions teams’ strengths and further enhance services to students, including optimizing communication and accessibility, providing consistent and collaborative career guidance and mentorship, and encouraging wellness and life balance.

"I’m extremely pleased to be able to announce a successful conclusion to our national search for a permanent associate dean for student affairs and admissions," said Deputy Dean of Education Kevin Moynahan, MD, FACP. "Dean Chuck Cairns and I would like to thank the search committee and the numerous faculty, students and staff who participated in the search. I have no doubt that Dr....

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People and Programs On The Move at Banner – University Medical Center

Valley Fever Clinic Opens in April

Banner – University Medical Center Tucson will open a Valley Fever Clinic in April staffed by John Galgiani, MD, director of the University of Arizona Valley Fever Center for Excellence.

Dr. Galgiani, a professor in the UA Department of Medicine, has been treating and researching Valley Fever (Coccidioidomycosis) for the past three decades. In addition to treating patients, he operates a UA research lab focused on the detection of the fungus in the environment, increasing the sensitivity of diagnostic tests for patients, and the development of a vaccine to prevent the disease in both humans and animals.

Two-thirds of all Valley Fever infections in the United States are contracted in Arizona. For an appointment at the outpatient Valley Fever Clinic at Banner – UMC Tucson, please call 520-694-8888.

Hospital Volunteers To Be Feted April 8

Banner – University Medical Center will thank and honor its amazing volunteers at a luau-themed reception Friday, April 8, as part of National Volunteer Appreciation Month in April.

More than 500 volunteers donate their time to assist patients...

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UA Arthritis Center and UA Athletics Team Up For 2016 Desert Diamond Bear Down Luncheon, April 21

Arthritis is the most debilitating disease in society today. Every day, 53 million people experience the effects of this insidious ailment; 140,000 people with arthritis will visit their doctors; and 3,750 joints will be replaced due to the damage caused by arthritis.

The University of Arizona Arthritis Center wants to end all of that. But combating arthritis requires a team effort – and that’s why the UA Arthritis Center is teaming up with the UA Department of Intercollegiate Athletics for the game-changing 2016 Desert Diamond/University of Arizona Arthritis Center Bear Down Luncheon, to benefit the Center and its research efforts to find a cure for arthritis.

This unique event, sponsored by Desert Diamond Casinos & Entertainment, will be held Thursday, April 21, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., at Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, 6360 N. Campbell Ave., Tucson.

Since it began in the early 1980s, the UA Arthritis Center (UAAC) partnership...

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UA Emergency Medicine Researchers to Study Quicker, More Accurate Detection of Bacterial Infections in Infants with Fever

University of Arizona Department of Emergency Medicine researchers have joined a nationwide, multicenter collaborative study to develop a quicker, more accurate diagnostic test to better treat “febrile” infants – babies 2 months or younger – with serious infections.

The goal of the study, which is through the federally funded national research consortium, Pediatric Emergency Care Applied Research Network (PECARN), is to validate a test that will rapidly determine if an infection is bacterial or non-bacterial, thereby sparing many newborns from unnecessary antibiotics, invasive procedures (such as lumbar punctures) and hospitalizations, said and the study’s principal investigator at the UA College of Medicine – Tucson.

“The technology we are working to develop will help us shorten the hospital stay, avoid painful procedures and give a better answer for what is causing the fever. This will be the most important research on how to treat febrile infants with fever in the last 30 years,” said Dr. Leetch.

Annually, about 500,000 babies ages 2 months or younger with high fever are taken to emergency departments across the country....

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