News

UA Surgeon Helps Lead Charge Against ‘Medjacking’

It’s the stuff of primetime TV drama – terrorists hack into a vice president’s pacemaker and assassinate him with electrical shocks to the heart. 

While the storyline is a work of fiction, the potential for “medjacking” – or malicious medical device hacking – is real.

David G. Armstrong, DPM, MD, PhD, professor, University of Arizona Department of Surgery, is joining forces with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. National Security Council, NASA and other government agencies and industry leaders to create strategies to keep the world safe from medjacking.

A podiatric surgeon and the director of the UA Southern Arizona Limb Salvage Alliance (SALSA), Dr. Armstrong is the lone medical academician on the Cybersecurity Standard for Connected Diabetes Devices Steering Committee, which meets for the first time July 20-21 in Bethesda, Md.

The UA is well represented on the committee, with the inclusion of Hsinchun Chen, PhD, a UA Regents’ Professor and the Thomas R. Brown Chair of Management and Technology in the UA Eller College of Management, who also is director of the UA Artificial Intelligence Lab.

While devices...

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HIV Care Rated Among Best in Nation

Each year, more than 50,000 people are diagnosed with HIV and even more are living with HIV and don’t realize it. To improve the care and outcome of those with HIV, the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson’s Division of Infectious Diseases and its Petersen Clinics partner with the Tucson community to conduct research, provide training, education and excellence in patient care in the treatment of HIV.

Banner – University Medical Center Tucson was ranked third in the nation by the University HealthSystem Consortium (UHC) in its Critical Care Outcomes Report, when the hospital was known as the University of Arizona Medical Center – University Campus, for the year 2014.

“It really does take a village to care for HIV patients effectively,” said Stephen A. Klotz, MD, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the UA College of Medicine – Tucson. “In addition to our local hospital and clinical care of HIV patients, we are also the Arizona AIDS Education and Training Center (also funded by HRSA), which is a...

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Community Input Needed to Help UA Sarver Heart Center Launch a Clinical Research Study for Cardiac Arrest Patients

University of Arizona Sarver Heart Center researchers are seeking community input on a clinical trial that requires qualified patients to be enrolled when they are unconscious and unable to give consent. This study may improve care for all cardiac arrest patients.

Why is this important?

Cardiac arrest is a major public health issue, claiming nearly 300,000 lives in the United States each year. Survival rates are poor. Cardiac arrest occurs when a person’s heart suddenly stops pumping blood. In adults, this often occurs following a heart attack.

Only 40 percent of the people who have an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest are resuscitated and brought alive to the hospital. Of those 40 percent brought to the hospital, only one in four survives to go home.

When a cardiac arrest patient makes it to the hospital alive, doctors run an electrocardiogram (ECG).

If the electrocardiogram (ECG) shows changes of a heart attack, cardiac arrest patients have a coronary angiogram (heart catheterization). When the ECG does not show an obvious heart attack, the timing of the heart catheterization is decided on a case-by-case basis by treating doctors.

Karl B....

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AHSC’s Med-Start Program Aims to Change the Face of Health Care

High school students from Douglas, Kearney, Nogales, Payson, the Phoenix area (Gilbert, Glendale, Goodyear, Mesa), San Carlos, Sells, Tuba City, Tucson, Whiteriver, Winslow and Yuma successfully competed for a place in Med-Start, the health career interest and college-level engagement summer program at the Arizona Health Sciences Center (AHSC) in Tucson. For six weeks, they have been living on the University of Arizona campus while participating in the program which ends Saturday, July 11.

The highly competitive program is a proven success: 80 percent of its participants go on to enroll in higher education courses.

Med-Start has two goals: to address the critical shortage of a diverse health-care workforce and to provide high school students with opportunities to explore health careers and college experiences to successfully reach their academic and career goals.

Creating a diverse health-care workforce representative of the populations it serves is a priority for Joe G.N. “Skip” Garcia, MD, UA senior vice president for health...

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Epidemiologist Tomas Nuño, PhD, Joins UA Department of Emergency Medicine

Tomas Nuño, PhD, has joined the University of Arizona Department of Emergency Medicine as research assistant professor.

With expertise in epidemiology and biostatistics, Dr. Nuño’s work will focus on providing research support for department faculty members, serving as associate director of ScholarQuest (the department’s program that delivers a resident curriculum in epidemiology, biostatistics and research methods), and establishing a research program centered on the reduction of cardiovascular health disparities in emergency medicine populations, including racial and ethnic minorities and rural populations.

Dr. Nuño employs health services, health economics and comparative effectiveness (the direct comparison of existing health-care interventions to determine which work best for specific patients) to his research methods. He is an expert in the use of large government and cancer-specific databases to investigate cancer prevention and control issues regarding screening and outcomes among racial and ethnic...

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UA Researchers Receive $1.5 Million NIH Grant to Develop Mobile, Wearable Technology to Assess Frailty

University of Arizona researchers were awarded a $1.5 million Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop an Upper Extremity Frailty Device to identify elderly patients who may be at high risk for certain medical treatments.

The Interdisciplinary Consortium on Advanced Motion Performance (iCAMP) and the Division of Trauma Surgery in the UA Department of Surgery, and the Arizona Center on Aging (ACOA) are collaborating on a mobile system to assess frailty based on a brief arm movement task. This technology would replace existing tools that are too time-consuming for routine clinical use or are impractical for mobility-impaired patients.

To date, frailty screening has required lengthy questionnaires, or gait assessment, both of which are difficult to perform in busy clinical settings or on patients who are bed-bound.  The Upper Extremity Frailty Device takes less than 1 minute and is highly...

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Standing, Carol C. Gregorio, PhD, principal investigator with Christopher Pappas, PhD, postdoctoral research associate.

UA Sarver Heart Center Scientists Awarded NIH Grant to Study Contractile Proteins that Keep Hearts Beating in Dilated Cardiomyopathy

The Gregorio Lab in the University of Arizona Sarver Heart Center’s Molecular and Cardiovascular Research Program (MCRP) was awarded $1.77 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for a study called “Deciphering the Role of Lmod2 in Thin Filament Length Regulation and Dilated Cardiomyopathy” (NIH Grant 1R01HL123078).

“This award demonstrates the value of Sarver Heart Center’s Investigator Awards Program, which provides seed funding for promising research ideas,” said Carol C. Gregorio, PhD, head of the UA College of Medicine – Tucson Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, director of the MCRP and co-director of the UA Sarver Heart Center. She is the principal investigator on the NIH grant.  

Under Gregorio’s mentorship, Christopher Pappas, PhD, a postdoctoral research associate, obtained a Sarver Heart Center Investigator Award funded by the Steven M. Gootter Foundation. With the funding, Pappas studied the role of the protein Lmod2 in cardiac development and dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). The Investigator Award enabled Pappas to jump-start his path to career independence by obtaining...

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Craig Weinkauf with the Highbergers

UA Surgeons Perform Dramatic Midair Rescue, Saving Tucson Man’s Life

Life stopped suddenly for Tucsonan Richard “Dick” Highberger at 40,000 feet, when a silent and devastating cardiac arrest left him not breathing and with no heartbeat during a flight over Texas.

Within moments, however, three vascular surgeons with ties to the University of Arizona Department of Surgery were at his side, saving Highberger’s life in the cramped aisle of a regional commuter jet.

“We are still stunned,” said Highberger, 64. “If you are going to have something like this happen, you should have three vascular surgeons sitting 10 feet away. I couldn’t have planned it any better. Everything happened almost perfectly, with the best medical care right there.”

Said his wife, Jan Highberger, “We as a community can be proud of the UA doctors.”

UA vascular surgery resident Craig Weinkauf, MD, PhD, said the incident was life altering for him. “It was great to help someone and be so lucky that it happens to be a couple that is so wonderful and happy,” Dr. Weinkauf said.

The Highbergers and Dr. Weinkauf recently met for lunch, where they celebrated life and chatted for more than two hours. The...

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UA Experts Co-Author National Report that Focuses on How to Save More Lives from Cardiac Arrest in the U.S.

How likely are you or your loved ones to suffer a cardiac arrest and, most importantly, how likely are you to survive this devastating and common event in the United States? The Institute of Medicine tells us just that in a new report, “Strategies to Improve Cardiac Arrest Survival: A Time to Act,” released this morning in Washington, D.C.

The Institute of Medicine report examines national data on the incidence and survival rates from cardiac arrest in the United States, assesses evidence on existing lifesaving therapies and recommends public health strategies that could save lives. Additionally, the report explores CPR and the use of automated external defibrillators, emergency medical services and hospital resuscitation systems of care and resuscitation research.

Two University of Arizona Department of Emergency Medicine researchers are co-authors of the report: Arthur B. Sanders, MD, MHA, professor and a member of the Arizona Emergency Medicine Research Center (AEMRC) – Tucson and the Institute of Medicine, and Bentley J. Bobrow, MD, professor and co-director, AEMRC – Phoenix, and medical director for the Arizona Department of...

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Rare National Certification for Pediatric Asthma Program

The Terry family was new to Tucson in 2007 when their daughter Ashanti, then 5, had an asthma attack so severe she was intubated and hospitalized for a week, near death.

Now 13, Ashanti is thriving at her Oro Valley school, stays active and plays the viola. She has never again had such a terrifying experience with her asthma – a testament to her own determination, the vigilance of her parents and excellent medical care. 

“We got the resources we needed to keep her asthma under control, and we ran with it,” said Ashanti’s mother, Keyshanna Terry, a nurse, respiratory therapist and an asthmatic herself. “We connected with great doctors, got educated about her triggers and got her on the right meds.”

Last month the Pediatric Asthma Program at Banner – University Medical Center Tucson was re-certified by The Joint Commission, the national health-care quality improvement and accrediting body, with a gold seal of excellence following a rigorous, day-long survey. Banner – UMC is the first hospital in Arizona with this elite certification.

One of the program’s strengths is its focus on  asthma education, including videos now under production  specifically...

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