The University of Arizona Health Sciences


Second Annual ‘Eat Dessert First Day,’ April 21, Honors Memory of Dana Morgan and Raises Funds for Pediatric Cancer Research

The second annual Eat Dessert First Day (EDFD) takes place on Thursday, April 21, to honor the memory of pediatric cancer patient Dana Morgan; to celebrate family and friends; and to raise funds for childhood cancer research at the University of Arizona Steele Children’s Research Center

Scott and Michelle Morgan created Eat Dessert First Day in honor of their daughter Dana, who passed away on Jan. 22, 2015, at the young age of 10, from complications associated with treatments intended to eradicate leukemia. Dana would have turned 12 on April 21.

On April 21, participants eat dessert first for lunch or dinner while celebrating the presence of family and friends in their lives,” said Dana’s mom, Michelle.

In addition to eating dessert first on April 21, EDFD participants are encouraged to donate $12 or more to support the pediatric cancer research program at the UA Steele Center, a Center of Excellence within the...

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UA Sarver Heart Center Minority Outreach Health Advocate Wanda Moore Says Knowledge is Power in Regard to Heart Disease

As an African American woman who heads the University of Arizona Sarver Heart Center Community Coalition for Heart Health Education, Wanda Moore is very aware that she is in one of the highest risk groups of dying from heart disease. She also believes and advocates that lifestyle risk factors are manageable.

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, heart disease disproportionately afflicts African American women, killing about 50,000 each year. For Moore and her committee members, knowledge is power and the good news is women can lower their heart disease risk by as much as 82 percent by addressing these risk factors:

Smoking – about one in five African American women smokes. After one year of quitting, heart disease risk drops by more than half.High blood pressure (hypertension) – about 37 percent of African American women have high blood pressure, which increases the risk of stroke and heart failure. Healthful eating, including low salt intake, regular physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight and moderate alcohol consumption can help, plus taking medication if prescribed.

“Heart disease, diabetes, obesity and inactivity are risk...

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UA Health Sciences Leaders Among Phoenix Magazine’s Top 25 `Maestros of Medicine’

Two University of Arizona Health Sciences leaders were named “Maestros of Medicine” in the April edition of Phoenix Magazine and its listing of “the 25 most influential people in Valley health care.” The magazine recognized the “trailblazing, passionate and empowered individuals dedicated to keeping the Valley at the vanguard of medical science.”

Joe G.N. “Skip” Garcia, MD, and Bentley J. Bobrow, MD, FACEP, FAHA, were nominated by a panel of impartial experts in Arizona’s health care sector, including researchers, clinicians, executives and academics.

Dr. Garcia is the UA senior vice president for health sciences, professor of medicine at the UA College of Medicine – Tucson and the Merlin K. DuVal, MD, Endowed Chair for Leadership and Innovation. An elected member of the prestigious National Academy of Medicine, Dr. Garcia is an internationally noted physician-scientist, health administrator, scholar and educator. He also is a leading authority on the genetic basis of lung disease and the prevention and treatment of inflammatory lung injury.

A key member...

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‘Entrepreneurial Drug Hunter: A Trek for Breakthrough Medicines at the Academic-Industrial Interface’

EVENT: ‘Entrepreneurial Drug Hunter: A Trek for Breakthrough Medicines at the Academic-Industrial Interface’

Tomi K. Sawyer, PhD, will share inspiring stories of his journey from UA graduate student to leader of a team of more than 100 scientists in the Peptide Drug Hunter Network at Merck Research Laboratories.

DATE/TIME:  THURSDAY, APRIL 21, 4-5 P.M. (reception follows)

LOCATION: Drachman Hall, Room B111
1295 N. Martin Ave., Tucson

More than 35 years ago, a young graduate student at the University of Arizona invented a molecule that ultimately became a drug approved to treat a rare but debilitating disease affecting skin pigmentation. Today, Tomi K. Sawyer, PhD, is a “drug hunter” leading a team of more than 100 scientists in the Peptide Drug Hunter Network at Merck Research Laboratories in Boston.

On Thursday, April 21, 4-5 p.m., Dr. Sawyer will share inspiring lessons learned from his career as a versatile and accomplished medicinal chemist. The free presentation, “Entrepreneurial Drug Hunter: A Trek for Breakthrough Medicines at the Academic-Industrial Interface,” is...

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We’re Taking Red Steps to Rise above Heart Failure

The University of Arizona Sarver Heart Center Advanced Heart Failure cardiologists take steps every day to prevent and treat heart failure. Today, we’re part of the “Red Steps Challenge” to #RiseAboveHF with the Heart Failure Society of America #HFSA.

Heart Failure by the Numbers

6 Million – number of people in the U.S. with heart failure

250,000 – number of people who die from heart failure each year

50 percent – likelihood a person will die after 5 years of diagnosis

What Is Heart Failure?

Contrary to what its name suggests, heart failure does not mean that the heart suddenly stops working. Instead, heart failure occurs as a result of weakened heart muscle. Injury to the heart such as damage caused by a heart attack, high blood pressure or abnormalities in a heart valve are all causes of muscle weakening. Each of these creates damage that causes the heart to work harder in order to continue the blood flow to the body. Unfortunately, heart failure often is not recognized until its later stages, where it is most commonly referred to as congestive heart...

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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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