Dallas Health News   
Scroll down for most recent articles
Parkland names new Chief Nursing Officer

Chief Nursing Officer. NGHS is a not-for-profit health system comprised of a 557-bed medical center, 261-bed skilled nursing facility, three urgent care centers, two outpatient imaging centers, outpatient therapy clinics and a mental health and substance abuse treatment center. During her tenure she had direct responsibility for operational and strategic direction for clinical services including surgical services, medical surgical services, women’s services, professional practice, respiratory therapy/sleep centers, critical care services, transport and long-term care.

In addition, Watts expanded and implemented a capacity management plan to handle unprecedented volume growth locally and regionally. This work included the opening of four overflow areas, emergency department triage changes, transfer center development, throughput dashboard and capacity as a strategic imperative for the NGHS system resulting in no instances of diversion.

From 2009 to 2013, Watts was System Senior Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer at Good Shepherd Health System in Longview, Texas. There she had direct responsibility for operational and strategic direction for critical care, medical-surgical, women’s services, emergency services, infection prevention, professional practice and the center for innovative learning. She also reduced the registered nurse vacancy rate from 22 percent to 3 percent in less than a year.

Prior to that, Watts held a wide variety of leadership roles from 1992 to 2009 at Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah, Georgia including the role of Senior Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer.

“Karen brings a vast amount of nursing and leadership experience to this position,” said Fred Cerise, MD, MPH, Parkland’s president & CEO. “Maintaining high levels of quality and safety as well as competing for nursing staff is challenging in today’s healthcare environment. Karen has a track record of strong performance in all of these areas. Her strategic planning and critical thinking ability will benefit Parkland and ultimately all of the patients we serve. We are pleased to welcome her into the Parkland family.”

Watts holds a Master of Science in Nursing from Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Georgia. She is a member of numerous professional associations and holds several certifications. She is a published author and has received multiple honors throughout her nursing career.
Karen S. Watts has been named Executive Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer for Parkland Health & Hospital System. She will join Parkland on May 11, 2015.

Watts comes to Parkland from Northeast Georgia Health System (NGHS) in Gainesville, Georgia, where since 2013 she served as System Vice President of Patient Care Services and
Methodist Health System Receives Prestigious Texas Award for Performance Excellence

“Recognition through the Texas Award for Performance Excellence is the culmination of a journey to excellence that began with the unfailing dedication of our staff and physicians to live out our mission, vision and values each and every day,” said Methodist Health System Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Pamela Stoyanoff. “We are proud to receive this well-respected honor. Achieving this award was a team effort. The examiners cited our family-like culture and emphasis on continual process improvement as key success factors.”

TAPE employs the full set of performance excellence criteria used for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. The TAPE recognition is the result of a comprehensive application process that includes a demonstration of performance excellence in the areas of organizational leadership, strategic planning, customer and workforce focus, measurement, analysis and knowledge management, and process management and results. Onsite visits were conducted by state examiners at each campus.

About Methodist Health System: Guided by the founding principles of life, learning, and compassion, Dallas-based Methodist Health System (Methodist) provides quality, integrated health care to improve and save the lives of individuals and families throughout North Texas. Four hospitals and 27 Methodist Family Health Centers and Medical Groups are among the facilities served by the nonprofit Methodist Health System, which is affiliated by covenant with the North Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church. Recognized by Modern Healthcare as one of the fastest-growing health systems in America, Methodist continues to add facilities and services to enhance patient care along the entire continuum. Additional information is available at MethodistHealthSystem.org. Connect through Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter at MethodistHealthSystem.org/SocialMedia.
Today Methodist Health System announced it has received the distinguished Texas Award for Performance Excellence (TAPE) from the Quality Texas Foundation. This award establishes Methodist Health System as a consistent leader in quality care, and a state role model for achieving sustained performance excellence.
AccentCare Announces New Chief Medical Officer

comprehensive, integrated clinical platform to deliver high value, patient-centered care in the home environment.

“I am pleased to have Dr. Sheff as part of our team,” said Chief Executive Officer Steve Rodgers. “We are a highly diversified post-acute care provider serving a very wide range of client needs.  Dr. Sheff will lead our efforts in further expanding our clinical platforms and innovative healthcare partnerships that improve the patient experience while reducing the cost of care.” 

Sheff joins AccentCare from Seton Healthcare Family, where he served as executive vice president, clinical systems and served as chief executive officer of Seton Health Alliance ACO. Previously he served in senior leadership positions at Austin Regional Clinic, a large multi-specialty physician group.

“I’m joining AccentCare at an exciting time,” said Sheff. “The company is growing and has a very sound strategic vision for success in our evolving healthcare environment.  I can’t wait to contribute to our advancements in provider partnerships and integrated, coordinated delivery models, while also supporting our continued focus on clinical excellence. I believe dedication to these efforts sets us apart in the industry.”

Sheff’s resume includes degrees from Stanford University, the University of New Mexico School of Medicine and residency in family medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center.

About AccentCare: AccentCare, Inc., headquartered in Dallas, Texas, is one of the nation's leaders in post-acute healthcare services ranging from personal, non-medical care to skilled nursing, rehabilitation, hospice and care management.  Nearly 17,000 dedicated professionals provide comprehensive care for individuals with a wide variety of care needs including complex chronic conditions.  AccentCare has more than 110 locations in Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas and Washington. AccentCare is a portfolio company of Oak Hill Capital Partners.
Dr. Gregory S. Sheff has joined AccentCare, Inc. as executive vice president and chief medical officer, the company announced Thursday.

Sheff will serve as the senior clinical leader for all lines of business, consisting of home health, medical home care, hospice, personal care services and care coordination and management.  He will lead the development of a
Biomedical Research Building named in honor of UT Southwestern President Emeritus Dr. C. Kern Wildenthal

Dr. Wildenthal, currently President of Children’s Medical Center Foundation and Executive Vice President of Children’s Health System of Texas, served as UT Southwestern President for 22 years, during which time he helped lead the Innovations in Medicine campaign, which raised more than $750 million between 2001 and 2007 for research and clinical programs at UT Southwestern. Among other accomplishments, he also led the initiative to develop the North Campus, including construction of the building now being named for him.

“The C. Kern Wildenthal Research Building is a fitting acknowledgment of Dr. Wildenthal’s legacy of significant contributions and enduring impact,” said Dr. Daniel K. Podolsky, President of UT Southwestern, who holds the Philip O’Bryan Montgomery, Jr., M.D. Distinguished Presidential Chair in Academic Administration, and the Doris and Bryan Wildenthal Distinguished Chair in Medical Science. “As home to the groundbreaking research that Dr. Wildenthal’s vision helped promote, the building stands as a testament to his passion and commitment for our missions of research, education, and patient care.”

The C. Kern Wildenthal Research Building (NL on UT Southwestern campus map), is home to state-of-the-art laboratory space that includes the Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern (CRI), and laboratory space for the Departments of Neurology and Neurotherapeutics, Dermatology, Microbiology, and Cell Biology. The building also houses offices for UT Southwestern’s Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences’ Rolf and Ute Haberecht Administration and Academic Center.

The CRI, directed by Dr. Sean Morrison, Professor of Pediatrics and holder of the Mary McDermott Cook Chair in Pediatric Genetics, is a joint venture established by Children’s Medical Center Dallas and UT Southwestern in 2011. Its research programs focus on areas of unmet needs of children and encompass stem cell biology, cancer, and metabolism.

“I am very gratified by this recognition, and deeply honored to be associated with the world-class research that is undertaken every day in these laboratories,” said Dr. Wildenthal, a 1964 graduate of Southwestern Medical School.

Dr. Wildenthal spent the majority of his career, from 1970 to 2008, at UT Southwestern, first as a faculty member, then as a Dean for 10 years, and finally as the institution’s President from 1986 to 2008. He then served as President and Senior Consultant of Southwestern Medical Foundation for five years, and in 2013 joined UT Southwestern’s pediatric partner, Children’s Health System of Texas, where he continues to be an advocate for the institutions that comprise the Southwestern Medical District, including Children’s, Parkland Memorial Hospital, and UT Southwestern. In 2013, the UT System Board of Regents elected him to the honorific positions of Professor Emeritus and President Emeritus of UT Southwestern, in recognition of his contributions.

Under Dr. Wildenthal’s leadership, the institution more than quintupled in size and emerged as one of the world’s leading medical institutions. Research expenditures grew more than tenfold to nearly $400 million per year. The medical center’s endowment grew from $40 million to more than $1.3 billion, including more than 300 new chairs, professorships, and other special endowed funds. The size of the campus grew from 65 acres to more than 300 acres, including the addition of two referral hospitals and outpatient facilities, as well as the first half of a planned 4-million-square-foot research complex.

During his academic career, Dr. Wildenthal practiced cardiology, was active in teaching (he was elected by the student body as Outstanding Teacher of the Year in 1975), and led an internationally prominent heart research program. He has published more than 120 scientific and medical papers, as well as numerous articles on health and education policy issues. He has held leadership positions in the American Federation for Medical Research; Association of Academic Health Centers; American Heart Association; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; and International Society for Heart Research, among many other organizations. In 1975, he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, and in 1999, he was elected to the Institute of Medicine.

Dr. Wildenthal has been a visiting lecturer and organizer of conferences in 24 countries. He was awarded honorary Doctor of Science degrees by Southern Methodist University in 2006 and by Austin College in 2010. In 2008, Dr. Wildenthal was elected to the Texas Business Hall of Fame, the first leader of a non-profit organization to be so honored. Also in 2008, upon his retirement and in appreciation of his contributions, community and medical center leaders donated more than $20 million to establish two professorships, a distinguished chair, and the “Kern Wildenthal Fund” in his name.

Dr. Wildenthal earned a B.A. from Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas, an M.D. from UT Southwestern, and a Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge in England. He spent his post-graduate training in internal medicine, cardiology, and research at Bellevue Hospital in New York; Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas; at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute in Bethesda, Maryland; and at the University of Cambridge.

About UT Southwestern Medical Center: UT Southwestern, one of the premier academic medical centers in the nation, integrates pioneering biomedical research with exceptional clinical care and education. The institution’s faculty includes many distinguished members, including six who have been awarded Nobel Prizes since 1985. Numbering approximately 2,800, the faculty is responsible for groundbreaking medical advances and is committed to translating science-driven research quickly to new clinical treatments. UT Southwestern physicians provide medical care in 40 specialties to about 92,000 hospitalized patients and oversee approximately 2.1 million outpatient visits a year.
UT Southwestern Medical Center’s newest biomedical research building is being named in honor of Dr. C. Kern Wildenthal, President Emeritus and Professor of Medicine Emeritus, who served more than two decades as UT Southwestern’s second President and helped steer the development of the campus and its research and clinical facilities.

The 12-floor, 331,400-square-foot, $216 million C. Kern Wildenthal Research Building, located on UT Southwestern’s North Campus at 6000 Harry Hines Blvd., is being formally named for Dr. Wildenthal in a special dedication ceremony on Friday, March 20.
Parkland physician named one of nation’s ‘Leading Experts in Patient Safety’
Pranavi Sreeramoju, MD recognized by Becker’s Hospital Review

Individuals selected for the honor are “advocates, professors, researchers, administrators and healthcare providers who have won awards, published articles, spoken out and led initiatives to reduce patient harm and ensure safety,” Becker’s editorial team said. This year marks the third running of the list.

Dr. Sreeramoju chairs the infection prevention and control committee at Parkland and also is Associate Professor in Medicine–Infectious Diseases at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. She is responsible for leading system-wide quality, safety and process improvement efforts related to healthcare-associated infections and advancing scholarly activities in healthcare epidemiology.

“I am honored and humbled to be named to this list that includes many esteemed leaders in the field of patient safety,” Dr. Sreeramoju said. “It is also a tribute to the efforts and dedication of the entire team at Parkland that is achieving significant quality improvement results in our efforts to enhance patient safety.”

Among Dr. Sreeramoju’s key accomplishments during her six-year tenure at Parkland have been enhancement of infection prevention processes including hand hygiene, implementation of mandatory influenza vaccination program for healthcare personnel that placed Parkland in the National Honor Roll for Patient Safety; enhancement of data infrastructures; and establishment of training programs in healthcare epidemiology. Dr. Sreeramoju is currently leading a major four-year initiative at Parkland funded by the state’s 1115 Waiver program, known as RITE (‘Reduce Infections Together in Everyone’), designed to reduce healthcare associated infections and reduce sepsis mortality.

A graduate of Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research, Pondicherry, India, Dr. Sreeramoju also trained at Tulane University School of Public Health in epidemiology. She completed internal medicine residency at Cook County Hospital, Chicago, and Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Oakland, CA; and infectious diseases fellowship at the University of Illinois at Chicago and University of Chicago.

To learn more, visit www.beckers_sreeramoju.com
The Chief of Infection Prevention at Parkland Health & Hospital System, Pranavi Sreeramoju, MD, has been named one of the “50 Experts Leading the Field of Patient Safety” in the United States by the prestigious healthcare industry publication  Becker’s Hospital Review.
Parkland, Regional Hispanic Contractors Association join forces for Day of the Construction Worker
Parkland CEO to serve as honorary co-chair

Other event partners include the Regional Black Contractors, Asian American Contractors, DFW Minority Supplier Development Council, National Association of Women in Construction and Women in Transportation. This year’s event was expanded to include a Health & Wellness Fair for construction workers and their families. Parkland and Children’s Health will provide preventive health screenings and wellness information. The event, including screenings, is open to the public at no cost.

“Parkland is proud to be a part of this important event that not only honors those in the construction industry but also provides valuable health services and resources to their families,” Dr. Cerise said. “As Dallas County’s public safety-net hospital, we believe it is a vital part of our mission to participate in efforts that serve the community that supports us.”

Jobs for an estimated 3,000 workers were created during construction of the new Parkland hospital, which was the largest hospital construction project in the country.

In addition to recognizing the contributions of construction workers, the goal of the Day of the Construction Worker is to raise awareness of health issues and provide information about health and education resources available in the community, including college and scholarship information.

“I am proud that the RHCA as well as our local business and civic leaders recognize the contributions that construction workers make in building our community, and the importance of safety at the jobsites,” said Luis Spinola, President and CEO of Azteca-Omega Group, and chair of the Day of the Construction Worker event.

Signature sponsors for Day of the Construction Worker include Dallas Area Rapid Transit, Ford and Lowe’s Pro Services.

For more information about the Day of the Construction Worker, contact the RHCA at 972.786.0909 or visit www.regionalhca.org. For more information about Parkland, visit www.parklandhospital.com
Parkland Health & Hospital System is joining with the Regional Hispanic Contractors Association (RHCA) and other Dallas County partners to present the 10th annual Day of the Construction Worker. This year’s observance takes place from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., Sunday, May 3 in El Embarcadero Hall at Fair Park, 3800 Parry Ave., Dallas, 75210. Honorary co-chairs are Fred Cerise, MD, MPH, Parkland’s President and Chief Executive Officer and Miguel Solis, Dallas Independent School District Board Trustee.
UT Southwestern scientists identify key receptors behind development of acute myeloid leukemia

“We showed that these receptors are expressed by AML cells and that they support the development of AML. Although counterintuitive, this result is consistent with the generally immune-suppressive and thus tumor-promoting roles of inhibitory receptors in the immune system,” said Dr. Chengcheng “Alec” Zhang, Associate Professor of Physiology and Developmental Biology, and a member of the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center. “These findings suggest that blocking ITIM-receptor signaling in combination with conventional therapies may represent a novel strategy for AML treatment.”

AML is a type of blood and bone marrow cancer in which certain stem cells or progenitor cells fail to properly mature into healthy white blood cells and instead become abnormal red cells, called leukemia cells, according to the National Cancer Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health. Leukemia cells can build up in the bone marrow and blood so there is less room for healthy white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets, which can result in infections, anemia, or bleeding. Leukemia cells also can spread outside the blood to other parts of the body, including the central nervous system, skin, and gums, according to the NCI. Symptoms of adult AML include fever, feeling tired, and easy bruising or bleeding.

The study, which appears in Nature Cell Biology, focused mainly on an ITIM-containing receptor called LAIR1. Researchers found that deleting LAIR1 abolished leukemia development in several different mouse models of leukemia. They also identified an important pathway that sustains the survival and self-renewal of AML cells, the mechanism by which LAIR1 supports AML development.

“Our study suggests that current treatment options, including chemotherapy, may not efficiently target cancer stem cells because these inhibitory receptors enable the leukemia stem cells to survive conventional therapies, eventually resulting in tumor relapse,” said Dr. Zhang, Michael L. Rosenberg Scholar in Medical Research. “The blockade of ITIM-receptor signaling may prove to be a novel, effective strategy for elimination of leukemia stem cells and lead to complete remission in patients.”

Treatments for AML generally yield poor outcomes, especially for typical senior patients, Dr. Zhang noted. Despite continuous treatment, most AML patients relapse within 5 years, according to published outcome studies.

The medical need for new therapies for AML is further underscored by the fact that no new therapies for AML have been approved in over 30 years. There are more than 50 experimental agents in clinical trials for the treatment of AML, but only a few agents have yielded promising data to date, he noted.

“New molecular targets and therapeutic strategies are needed for AML treatment,” he said.

The Zhang laboratory studies the roles of immune inhibitory receptors in stem cells and cancer. Dr. Zhang hopes to understand the molecular mechanisms that govern the fates of adult stem cells and cancer cells, and apply this knowledge to the development of new cell and antibody therapies for treating cancer and other diseases.

Researchers involved included Dr. Robert Collins, Professor of Internal Medicine and holder of the Sydney and J.L. Huffines Distinguished Chair in Cancer Research in Honor of Eugene Frenkel, M.D. and the H. Lloyd and Willye V. Skaggs Professorship in Medical Research; UT Southwestern postdoctoral researchers Xunlei Kang, Mi Deng and Zhigang Lu; former UT Southwestern researchers Changhao Cui, and Yuqi Fan; and researchers from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Oregon Health and Science University Knight Cancer Institute, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston, and the Dalian University of Technology in China.

The researchers are supported by grants from the National Institutes for Health, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the March of Dimes Foundation, the Robert A. Welch Foundation, When Everyone Survives Foundation, V Foundation for Cancer Research, the William Lawrence and Blanche Hughes Fund, National Cancer Institute, Susan G. Komen Foundation, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Ladies Leukemia League, Developmental Research Awards in Leukemia, Center for Inflammation and Cancer, IRG, Center for Genetics and Genomics, Sister Institution Network Fund and Physician Scientist Award of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

UT Southwestern’s Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center is the only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center in North Texas and one of just 68 NCI-designated cancer centers in the nation. The Simmons Cancer Center includes 13 major cancer care programs with a focus on treating the whole individual with innovative treatments, while fostering groundbreaking research that has the potential to improve patient care and prevention of cancer worldwide. In addition, the Center’s education and training programs support and develop the next generation of cancer researchers and clinicians.

The Simmons Cancer Center is among only 30 U.S. cancer research centers to be named a National Clinical Trials Network Lead Academic Participating Site, a prestigious new designation by the NCI, and the only Cancer Center in North Texas to be so designated. The designation and associated funding is designed to bolster the cancer center’s clinical cancer research for adults and to provide patients access to cancer research trials sponsored by the NCI, where promising new drugs often are tested.

About UT Southwestern Medical Center: UT Southwestern, one of the premier academic medical centers in the nation, integrates pioneering biomedical research with exceptional clinical care and education. The institution’s faculty includes many distinguished members, including six who have been awarded Nobel Prizes since 1985. The faculty of more than 2,700 is responsible for groundbreaking medical advances and is committed to translating science-driven research quickly to new clinical treatments. UT Southwestern physicians provide medical care in 40 specialties to about 92,000 hospitalized patients and oversee approximately 2.1 million outpatient visits a year.
UT Southwestern Medical Center scientists have discovered that a certain class of receptors that inhibit immune response are crucial for the development of acute myeloid leukemia (AML), the most common acute leukemia affecting adults.

Researchers found that some receptors containing the immunoreceptor tyrosine-based inhibition motif (ITIM) are important to the development of AML, providing a target for potential therapies.
Dallas hospital pioneers employee health program

Partnering with the corporate wellness company Fitness Interactive Experience (FIX), Methodist Health System created a fitness challenge for its staff, primarily nurses. This six-week challenge ran on FIX’s UtiliFIT platform and sent hourly reminders to employees throughout the workday to complete short, low-impact exercises like desk pushups and chair squats.

Because the challenge was voluntary, Methodist executives anticipated 100 employees to sign up. Surprisingly nearly 500 employees enrolled, and of the 87% who completed the challenge:

·         100% did everything prescribed for hourly fitness games

·         100% did everything prescribed for exercise

·         63% did everything prescribed for nutrition

·         45% did everything prescribed for lifestyle

Although the challenge has officially ended, many Methodist employees are continuing to replicate the exercises and schedule on their own. The challenge accomplished Methodist’s goal of bringing activity to its patient care staff and added a much-needed layer of fun to its results-based wellness program.
Executives at Methodist Health System, a network of hospitals headquartered in Dallas, noticed that, as with hospitals throughout the country, its nurses struggled to maintain healthy lifestyles. Nationwide, 55% of nurses are overweight or obese, citing job stress, irregular hours and being on their feet all day as obstacles toward being healthy.
Methodist Health System Celebrates Seven ‘Great 100’ Nurses

compassionate caregivers and significant contributors to the nursing profession. The nurses recognized come from all practice areas in nursing including acute care, sub-acute care, school nursing, nurse leaders, academics and many more.

From Methodist Dallas Medical Center, Cassie Oden, RN, CEN, EMTP; Cynthia Lantz, RN; John M Vo, MSN, RN; Judith Mary VonEhr, RN, BSN; Nancy Valant, BSN, RN, CEN; and Sherri Floyd, RN, BSN, were selected. From Methodist Mansfield Medical Center, Karrie Klein, RNC-OB was selected.

“We are proud of each of our honorees,” says Karla Ramberger, Vice President of Nursing at Methodist Dallas. “They are stellar nurses and so deserving.”

“We are proud of these nurses who exemplify the compassionate care shown by all of our nurses, medical staff and employees every day at Methodist Mansfield,” says Nora Frasier, CNO at Methodist Mansfield.  “We are proud and grateful for their leadership, quality of care, service to our community and dedication to making a difference for their patients.”

The 25th 2015 DFW Great 100 Nurses celebration was held April 28 at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas.

About Methodist Health System: Guided by the founding principles of life, learning, and compassion, Methodist Health System provides quality, integrated care to improve and save the lives of individuals and families throughout North Texas. Methodist Dallas Medical Center, Methodist Charlton Medical Center, Methodist Mansfield Medical Center, Methodist Richardson Medical Center, and Methodist Family Health Centers are part of the nonprofit Methodist Health System, which is affiliated by covenant with the North Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Methodist Health System is celebrating seven of its own recognized for nursing excellence at the 25th annual DFW Great 100 Nurses celebration. The prestigious event honors 100 registered nurses who were nominated by their peers and selected for being role models, leaders, community servants,
Dallas Healthy Start supports Text4baby free health information service
Parkland promotes program locally to improve prenatal care, infant health

2020 goal of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for women to receive prenatal care in the first trimester of pregnancy is 77.9 percent. Parkland Health & Hospital System is bucking the trend, with more than 97 percent of pregnant patients receiving prenatal care, according to Paula Turicchi, administrator, Women & Infants Specialty Health (WISH) at Parkland.

“But there are many women in the Dallas community still not receiving prenatal care and education,” Turicchi said.

Lack of access to health information, medical care and poverty are the leading causes for premature birth, infant mortality and birth defects, according to the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition. The group is part of a public/private partnership that created a nationwide service called “Text4baby” to address the need for better health information for expectant and new mothers.

Supported locally by Dallas Healthy Start, a program of Parkland’s WISH division,Text4baby provides free health messages on a variety of topics critical to maternal and child health during a woman’s pregnancy and the first year of the baby’s life.

New mother Meshayla Brown, 19, Dallas, signed up for Text4baby messaging after learning about it last fall during a regular prenatal check-up at Parkland’s Oak West Women’s Health Center. Her first child, a healthy baby boy named Jhayden, was born in late November.

“Getting the texts helped me during my pregnancy, educating me about good nutrition and foods to eat and teaching me about how my baby was developing at different stages,” Brown said. “I recommend it for new mothers because I learned a lot.”

“That’s why we support Text4baby in Dallas County,” Turicchi said.  “It’s an innovative service that provides free health messages to women like Meshayla who are most in need of the information.”

Text4baby sends text messages to pregnant women and new moms on topics like prenatal care, baby health, parenting, immunization, birth defects prevention, nutrition, car seat safety, injury prevention, exercise and more. The text messages are timed to the pregnant woman’s due date and continue through the first year of the baby’s life.

Women and families can sign up for the service by texting BABY (or BEBE for Spanish) to 511411.

The Text4baby app provides an additional way for participants to access key information beyond the character limit of text messages. As a complementary tool to the texts, the free app offers additional content and interactive features that enhance the overall Text4baby experience. You can download the Text4baby app for Apple or Android devices.

Research shows that more than 85 percent of Americans own a cell phone and 72 percent of cell users send or receive text messages.

Dallas County Healthy Start promotes Text4baby on the Parkland website and serves as the lead Text4baby ambassador for the community, assisting local agencies and organizations that support the program. Free messaging services are provided by participating mobile operators nationwide.

Dallas Healthy Start seeks to reduce infant deaths, pre-term and low-weight births. The program offers services in seven ZIP codes that have the highest rates of infant deaths in Dallas County. According to the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies coalition, each year in the U.S. more than 500,000 babies are born prematurely and an estimated 28,000 children die before their first birthday. The infant mortality rate in the U.S. is one of the highest in the industrialized world and for the first time since the 1950s, that rate is on the rise. The infant mortality rate in Dallas County is higher than the Texas’ average.

“Text4baby provides valuable information to women in a convenient, free and easy way, ensuring that more babies in Dallas County can be given a healthy start in life,” said Rebecca Shoemaker, Assistant Program Coordinator of Fetal and Infant Mortality Review Program at Parkland.

For more information about Text4baby and Dallas Healthy Start programs, visit www.dallashealthystart.com
Dallas has a lot to boast about – the five-time Super Bowl champion Dallas Cowboys, the biggest Ferris wheel in the western hemisphere and the nation’s most state-of-the-art public hospital, for example.

But Dallas County falls short when it comes to prenatal care rates, ranking among the lowest in Texas with 43.2 percent of women receiving late or no prenatal care. The Healthy People 
UT Southwestern testing whether implant device can help restore lost arm function after stroke

nerve, causing chemicals called neuromodulators to be released in various parts of the brain. Alternate forms of vagus nerve stimulation therapy already are approved for use in the U.S. by the Federal Drug Administration for treating other illnesses, including depression and epilepsy.

           “These neuromodulators appear to facilitate the creation of new neuron pathways in the brain, which play a key role in restoring muscle movement,” said Dr. Ty Shang, Assistant Professor of Neurology and Neurotherapeutics at UT Southwestern, who is heading the UT Southwestern arm of the trial. UT Southwestern is one of three sites in the nation.

“A stroke deprives brain cells of oxygen,” said Dr. Shang, a vascular neurologist who is part of UT Southwestern’s stroke team. “Without oxygen, the brain cells die, and can no longer perform the function for which they were intended. There has been no known way to regenerate new brain cells to replace them, but in early tests with this device, the brain appears to ‘rewire’ other cells to perform the function.

  The study is sponsored by MicroTransponder Inc. and partially funded by the Texas Biomedical Device Center at UT Dallas. The Vivistim® system, designed to improve motor function in the more involved arm of a person following stroke, was studied starting in 2013 for efficacy and safety in a small study in Glasgow, Scotland. Individuals in the Glasgow study experienced meaningful functional improvements in their more involved arm. Many were able to resume daily activities like swimming, driving, and caring for grandchildren.

“VNS therapy may be the stimulus for motor relearning with the more involved arm for individuals following stroke. Gaining functional improvement in the impaired arm is an arduous task. VNS therapy might make achieving functional gains easier,” Dr. Shang said.

UT Southwestern researchers are seeking persons in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex who had a stroke four months to five years ago to participate in the trial. After having outpatient surgery to implant the device, participants will be scheduled for 18, 90-minute sessions of intensive, task-specific therapy over a six-week period with quarterly follow-up evaluations for the next year. Interested participants can register at  www.vnsstroketrial.com or contact the Department of Physical Therapy at 214-648-1533. The therapy interventions are in the Upper Extremity Motor Laboratory under the leadership of Dr. Patricia Smith, Chairman of Physical Therapy. 

            Stroke occurs when blood supply to the brain is suddenly interrupted, typically when blood vessels supply the brain become blocked or burst. About one in six Americans will experience a stroke after age 65, though it can occur at any age, according to research supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). While fatal in 10 to 20 percent of cases, stroke can result in lost mobility such as arm or leg function, impaired speech, and cognitive problems, making it a major cause of disability in the U.S. Stroke is the number one cause of serious adult disability in the United States, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, part of the NIH.

UT Southwestern stroke specialists pioneered the development of some of the most advanced and effective brain aneurysm procedures in use today. In 1989, UT Southwestern researchers refined a fast-acting drug called tissue plasminogen activator, or tPA, which can rapidly dissolve blood clots in patients with ischemic stroke, greatly reducing the risk of death or severe disability.

UT Southwestern’s Neurology Clinic is one of the nation’s top stroke treatment facilities, treating more aneurysm cases than any other facility.

The Joint Commission certified UT Southwestern University Hospitals as an Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center in 2014, a distinction for hospitals fostering specialized stroke care and expertise for patients. UT Southwestern’s Robert D. Rogers Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center is the first and only Joint Commission-certified Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center in North Texas and only the second in Texas.

UT Southwestern’s multidisciplinary cerebrovascular program brings together neurologists, neuroradiologists and neurosurgeons with vascular, endovascular and critical-care expertise to treat all forms of stroke and blood-vessel disease affecting the brain and spinal cord. This includes referrals, both acute and subacute, for complex cases throughout Texas and the surrounding five-state area. The certification requires that the hospital provide ready access to the technology and medications that can limit damage during or after a stroke. A 2010 study in the journal Stroke found that stroke centers following national guidelines recorded fewer fatalities and reduced institutional care a year later compared with general hospitals; had lower mortality rates during a nine-year follow-up; and increased median survival rates.

About UT Southwestern Medical Center: UT Southwestern, one of the premier academic medical centers in the nation, integrates pioneering biomedical research with exceptional clinical care and education. The institution’s faculty includes many distinguished members, including six who have been awarded Nobel Prizes since 1985. The faculty of more than 2,700 is responsible for groundbreaking medical advances and is committed to translating science-driven research quickly to new clinical treatments. UT Southwestern physicians provide medical care in 40 specialties to about 92,000 hospitalized patients and oversee approximately 2.1 million outpatient visits a year. 
UT Southwestern Medical Center will be one of three national sites to pioneer U.S. testing for an implant device that stimulates the vagus nerve in stroke patients to see whether it can help restore lost arm function.

The Vivistim® System device, developed by Dallas-based MicroTransponder Inc. with a license from UT Dallas, stimulates the neck’s vagus nerve, a key nerve stretching from the medulla oblongata in the brain down to the throat, larynx, trachea, lungs, heart, esophagus, and intestinal tract. Implanted under the collarbone, the device, which is about the size of a pacemaker, sends painless, half-second electrical pulses up the vagus
Post-Acute Care Provider AccentCare Announces Tim Ryan as New General Counsel

of industry knowledge, and will play a key role as we expand the breadth and integration of our post-acute services.”

Ryan joins AccentCare after 23 years in a variety of roles at UnitedHealth Group, including his most recent role as General Counsel for Optum Health. Prior to that, he spent time as an attorney at law firms in Chicago and Detroit.

“I’m thrilled to join AccentCare,” said Ryan. “This is a great opportunity to contribute to a company that is leading change in the post-acute care environment. I’m excited about the focus of the executive team and the shared vision for AccentCare.”

Ryan earned his J.D. from the Boston University School of Law and received his B.B.A. from the University of Michigan.
AccentCare, Inc. has hired Timothy Ryan, J.D. as its general counsel, the healthcare company announced Monday.

Ryan will assume his new responsibilities with the home health, hospice, medical home care, personal care and care management services provider on May 11, 2015.

“Tim is a great addition to our team”, said Chief Executive Officer Steve Rodgers. “He has a wealth
Parkland staff celebrates National Hospital Week
Caring for the community’s needs is paramount to system mission

Each day thousands of people receive care from providers across the Parkland system. On any day in fiscal year 2014, approximately 581 patients were cared for in the hospital, more than 2,700 people received outpatient treatment and over 1,800 individuals received primary care in one of Parkland’s Community Oriented Primary Care health centers. And through the miracle of birth, 28 new lives entered this world in Labor & Delivery while 20 inpatients received care in Parkland’s renowned Burn Center. These are but a part of the services the residents of Dallas County and indeed, the region, rely on 24/7, 365 days a year.

“When I came here a little more than a year ago, I knew the reputation Parkland had for caring for the most vulnerable in our community,” said Fred Cerise, MD, MPH, Parkland’s president & CEO. “Parkland cares for the special needs of the entire population and we couldn’t do that without the men and women who make this system great. They put their heart and soul into all they do.” 

National Hospital Week dates back to 1921 when it was launched in Chicago to promote trust and goodwill among members of the public toward their local hospitals. Eventually, the celebration spread to facilities across the country.

For more information on the services provided at Parkland, please visit our website at www.parklandhospital.com
The staff of Parkland Health & Hospital System will take time during the second week of May to celebrate 2015 National Hospital Week, the nation’s largest health care event, by focusing on the rewards and satisfactions of playing a vital role in serving the community. This year’s theme is, “Where miracles happen every day.”
Texas Health Arlington Memorial earns Fragility Fracture Certification from The Joint Commission
Hospital recognized as first facility in the country to earn designation

Approval is a symbol of quality that reflects an organization’s commitment to providing safe and effective patient care.
               Texas Health Arlington Memorial underwent a rigorous on-site review last month, where a Joint Commission surveyor extensively reviewed clinical practice guidelines and performance measures. The hospital’s program includes nutrition counseling, exercise recommendations, lifestyle coaching, medicinal information and bone density testing.

               “Without the tireless work and talent exhibited daily by our employees and physicians on the medical staff, this impactful achievement would not have been possible,” said Blake Kretz, hospital president. “It’s an honor to be the first facility in the country to receive this prominent certification, but it especially shines the well-deserved spotlight on our dedicated clinical team – the individuals at the forefront of care delivery.”

               Established in 2002 and awarded for a two-year period, The Joint Commission’s Disease-Specific Care Certification evaluates clinical programs across the continuum of care and addresses three core areas:

·         Compliance with consensus-based national standards;

·         Effective use of evidence-based clinical practice guidelines to manage and optimize care; and

·         An organized approach to performance measurement and improvement activities.

               “Texas Health Arlington Memorial has thoroughly demonstrated a high level of care for patients with fragility fractures,” said Wendi J. Roberts, R.N., executive director, Certification Programs, The Joint Commission. “We commend Texas Health Arlington Memorial for becoming a leader in fragility fracture care, potentially providing a higher standard of service for fragility fracture patients in North Texas.”

               Since 2012, the hospital has been offering its fragility fracture program to the community, in hopes of reducing the incidence of future fragility fractures. By definition, fragility fractures are broken bones resulting from a fall near standing height or less and are commonly associated with osteoporosis.

“We’re definitely proud of this recent certification, but the accolades don’t drive us to excel,” said Dr. Joseph Borrelli Jr., the hospital’s Fragility Fracture Committee chairperson, orthopedic surgeon on the medical staff at Texas Health Arlington Memorial, and on staff at Orthopedic Medicine Specialists, a Texas Health Physicians Group practice. “We understand the importance of a patient’s health and well-being when making decisions, and it is common practice for clinicians at Texas Health Arlington Memorial. As long as we continue to do that, then we are doing what matters most to us and to our patients.”

About Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital: Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital is a 369-bed acute-care, full-service medical center serving Arlington and the surrounding communities since 1958. The hospital’s services include comprehensive cardiac care, women’s services, orthopedics, an advanced imaging center and emergency services. Texas Health Arlington Memorial is an affiliate of the faith-based, nonprofit Texas Health Resources system. For more information, call 1-877-THR-WELL, or visit TexasHealth.org/Arlington.

About Texas Health Physicians Group: Texas Health Physicians Group (THPG) is Texas Health Resources’ not-for-profit physician organization based in Arlington. The group includes more than 800 physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners and medical professionals dedicated to providing safe, quality care for its patients. THPG’s primary care and specialist network represents 57 medical specialties, in addition to offering sleep lab services, infusion services and diagnostic imaging. Its 230-plus locations cover 6,429 square miles in 11 North Texas counties. For more information about THPG, or to schedule an appointment, call 1-800-916-8080 or visit THPG.org.
Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital recently earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval for Fragility Fracture Certification, becoming the first health care facility in the country to receive Joint Commission certification for a fragility fracture program. The Gold Seal of
Methodist Health System Wins Four Readers’ Choice Awards

Methodist Charlton, was named Best Doctor. The Readers’ Choice Awards were based on votes from readers and members of the community.

To compile the best list in the community, the local newspaper asked readers to vote for the best company in dozens of categories. They received hundreds of votes, and the editors selected the best companies based on votes.

"These honorees are being praised for much more than their business prowess; these organizations and individuals can revel in the fact that they have succeeded in being community builders," said Joshua C. Johnson, Editor of Focus Daily News. "We congratulate Methodist Health System and all their employees."

Methodist Charlton and Methodist Mansfield have been honored four consecutive years with the awards.

“The physicians and staff of Methodist Mansfield are truly honored that the community voted us Best Medical Facility and Best Maternity Ward,” says John Phillips, President, Methodist Mansfield Medical Center. “We strive every day to help improve the health of our community by partnering with patients and treating their immediate health needs while encouraging preventive care and ongoing dialogue with their primary care physician.”

“It is such an honor to receive the Best Hospital Award and be recognized by the community we have the privilege of serving,” says Methodist Charlton President Fran Laukaitis, MHA, BSN, FACHE. “We are especially proud of Dr. Jill Waggoner and the community’s acknowledgement of the dedicated service and compassionate care she provides to her patients and their families.” 

Dr. Waggoner is a family medicine physician who has practiced in the Dallas area for almost 20 years and has certifications in preventive medicine and wellness coordination from the prestigious Cooper Institute, as well as a special interest in integrative medicine. Dr. Waggoner is involved in several community endeavors, including serving as a

member of the Methodist Charlton Advisory Board and the President’s Leadership Council at Methodist Charlton. She is the author of four books on stress, diabetes and women’s health and is also the developer of the ABC’s of Diabetes diabetic education series.

The awards were presented at the fifth annual Reader’s Choice Awards celebration at Hilton Garden Inn in Duncanville.
About Methodist Health System: Guided by the founding principles of life, learning, and compassion, Dallas-based Methodist Health System (Methodist) provides quality, integrated health care to improve and save the lives of individuals and families throughout North Texas. Eight hospitals and 27 Methodist Family Health Centers and Medical Groups are part of the nonprofit Methodist Health System, which is affiliated by covenant with the North Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church. Recognized by Modern Healthcare as one of the fastest-growing health systems in America, Methodist continues to add facilities and services to enhance patient care along the entire continuum.

Additional information is available at MethodistHealthSystem.org. Connect through Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter at MethodistHealthSystem.org/SocialMedia.
Methodist Charlton Medical Center was named Best Hospital and Methodist Mansfield Medical Center was named Best Medical Facility and Best Maternity Ward by the Focus Daily News Focus on Excellence 2015 Readers’ Choice Awards. Jill Waggoner, MD, a physician on the medical staff of
Parkland hosts Women’s Health Fair during National Women’s Health Week
Providers urge women to get regular screenings, check-ups

To improve health awareness, a Women’s Health Fair providing information and healthcare assistance to women is being presented by Parkland May 12-15 at the E. Carlyle Smith Jr. Health Center in Grand Prairie from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., focusing on different topics daily. On May 13, the topic will be nutrition and exercise; May 14 will be breastfeeding; and on May 15 health screenings for blood glucose, cholesterol and rapid HIV testing will be provided. Speaker presentations are in English and Spanish, and admission is free. For more information contact Patricia Chenault-Salisbury at 214.266.3527, or email at patricia.chenault-salisbury@phhs.org

“Too often, women put their own needs last,” said Sentayehu Kassa, MD, Lead Staff Physician, Parkland’s Vickery Health Center. “Women make healthy lunches for our husband and children but are too busy to take a lunch break ourselves,” said Dr. Kassa. “We run our kids from school to soccer or dance practice, but can’t find time to get ourselves to the gym. And many times, women make sure everyone else in the family gets regular check-ups but fail to schedule their own doctor visits.”

Making your own health a priority is the best thing you can do for your loved ones, physicians say, because if you aren’t getting oxygen, how can you help others breathe and thrive? And the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services agrees. The agency’s Office on Women’s Health (OWH) leads the annual observance of National Women’s Health Week, this year observed May 10-16, to encourage women to improve their health. 

According to OWH, one of the most important steps to protect your health is to visit a doctor for regular checkups and preventive screenings. Here’s a list of some of the most essential health screenings recommended for women by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) and other healthcare organizations:

Blood pressure screening, starting at age 18, at least every two years.
Cholesterol: the USPSTF recommends screening women aged 20-45 for lipid disorders if they are at increased risk for coronary heart disease and strongly recommends screening women 45 and older for lipid disorders if they are at increased risk for coronary heart disease.

Cervical cancer screening in women aged 21-65 years with Pap smear every three years.
Mammograms and breast exams: The USPSTF recommends screening mammography for women 50-74 years of age every two years. However, the American Cancer Society recommends that women age 40 and older should have a mammogram every year and should continue to do so for as long as they are in good health. Breast self-exam is an option for women starting in their 20s.

Bone density screening: The USPSTF recommends screening for osteoporosis in women 65 years and older and in younger women whose fracture risk is equal to or greater than that of a 65-year old white woman who has no additional risk factors.

Blood glucose tests, every three years starting at age 45, or sooner if risk factors or symptoms of diabetes are present. The USPSTF recommends screening for type 2 diabetes in asymptomatic adults with sustained blood pressure (either treated or untreated) greater than 135/80 mm Hg.

Colon cancer screening using fecal occult blood testing, sigmoidoscopy or colonscopy in adults, beginning at age 50 and continuing until age 75.

Body mass index, a calculation performed during annual physical exam to assess risk for heart disease, diabetes and other weight-related health conditions.

Screenings for sexually transmitted diseases (HIV, gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis) as recommended by your healthcare provider according to your age and risk.

Dental check-up, twice-yearly.
For more information about women’s health and screening recommendations, visit www.womenshealth.gov . For more information about Parkland’s women’s health services, visit www.parklandhospital.com
Everyone who flies has heard the refrain over the airplane intercom: “In the unlikely event of emergency, put your own oxygen mask on first before assisting others.” It’s a message more women should take to heart in their personal lives, healthcare experts say.
Parkland’s CEO to speak at community forum
Keeps pledge for two-way communication

Dr. Cerise has participated in seven community forums since joining Parkland in March 2014. Five of the forums were hosted by Dallas County Commissioners and held in their districts, and a sixth forum was organized by one of Parkland’s Community Oriented Primary Care Advisory Boards. In October, Dr. Cerise took part in a forum held at True Lee Missionary Baptist Church in South Dallas. At each, he pledged to keep the lines of communication open between Parkland and those it serves.

“I think it is important that the executive leadership of Parkland stay in touch with the clients they serve, just as it is important for our residents that use Parkland to know that their questions and concerns are being heard. Forums like this help promote that connection between Parkland and the community it serves,” said Commissioner Garcia.

“Our ultimate goal is for Parkland personnel to provide the highest quality of care, and to provide it in a caring manner,” the Commissioner noted. “Dr. Cerise and his staff are working toward this goal by giving residents the opportunity to talk to them directly and tell them their expectations for the care that Parkland provides.”

“The purpose of this meeting is to allow our constituents an opportunity to visit and ask any questions to our Parkland CEO and extend a welcome as well,” said Dallas Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Alonzo.

“From the beginning it has been important to hear what the community has to say,” said Dr. Cerise. “Our mission at Parkland is to serve the individuals and communities entrusted to our care. To do that well, we are continuing to reach out to people in the region, engage in conversations about their expectations and needs, and incorporate their vision into our planning.

“We are focused on our patients and want to be sure that we are always listening to them and looking for new ways to improve care. Meeting with people in their neighborhoods has been both rewarding and informative to me,” Dr. Cerise added. “I look forward to this opportunity to have an open discussion about the role Parkland plays in the health and well-being of Dallas residents.”

For more information about Parkland, visit www.parklandhospital.com
Dallas County residents are invited to “Share Your Voice” during a community forum with Parkland Health & Hospital System CEO Fred P. Cerise, MD, MPH, that will take place from 6 to 7:30 p.m., Thursday, May 28 at the West Dallas Multi-Purpose Center, 2828 Fish Trap Road, Dallas, 75212. This Meet the CEO event is co-sponsored by Dallas County Commissioner Elba Garcia, DDS and Dallas Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Monica R. Alonzo.
CPRIT awards $16.6 million for cancer research, prevention, and faculty recruitment at UT Southwestern Medical Center

“We are deeply grateful for this support from CPRIT and the people of Texas. These grants will fund important and innovative research projects and prevention programs, leading ultimately to improved treatments for cancer patients and more widespread prevention efforts for the population of Texas and beyond,” said Dr. Daniel K. Podolsky, President of UT Southwestern, and holder of the Philip O’Bryan Montgomery Jr., M.D., Distinguished Presidential Chair in Academic Administration, and the Doris and Bryan Wildenthal Distinguished Chair in Medical Science.

New research grants were awarded to four UT Southwestern researchers at the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center as part of CPRIT’s High-Impact/High-Risk Research Awards. Prevention grants were awarded to two UT Southwestern programs, one for breast cancer screening and another for colon cancer screening. The colon cancer screening initiative received $4.8 million, the largest prevention grant ever from CPRIT.

“These projects demonstrate the collaborative research efforts we value at the Simmons Cancer Center, and they encourage further discoveries that will help cancer patients,” said Dr. James Willson, Associate Dean of Oncology Programs at UT Southwestern, and Professor and Director of the Simmons Cancer Center, the only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center in North Texas and one of just 68 in the country. Dr. Willson holds The Lisa K. Simmons Distinguished Chair in Comprehensive Oncology.

Research Grants

Core Facilities Support Awards - $5.59 million

Bioinformatics Core Facility at UT Southwestern Medical Center – $5,593,882 to Dr. Gaudenz Danuser, Professor of Cell Biology, and holder of the Patrick E. Haggerty Distinguished Chair in Basic Biomedical Science.

This supports the development of UT Southwestern’s bioinformatics capability, which involves managing huge data sets that can identify complex patterns in the organization and regulation of molecules, cells, tissues, and organs. Finding these patterns has become an essential component of biomedical discovery and is crucial to understanding the foundations of life and the defects causing disease, including cancer, as well as developing diagnostic approaches and new therapeutic strategies. As bioinformatics has grown in importance in medical science, UT Southwestern’s scientific leaders identified the discipline as the area of greatest future need for the continued success of the Medical Center’s diverse research missions – noting that information technology will shape every aspect of the next era of research.

High-Impact/High-Risk Research Awards - $800,000

Dynamin GTPase: A Novel Pro-Apoptotic Cancer Therapeutic Target – $200,000 to Dr. Sandra Schmid, Chair, Department of Cell Biology and Professor of Cell Biology, and holder of the Cecil H. Green Distinguished Chair in Cellular and Molecular Biology.

Apoptosis, or programmed cell death, can be triggered by so-called death receptors that kill target cells upon activation by their corresponding ligands. One of these ligands, called TRAIL, selectively kills cancer cells and is being developed as a potential anti-cancer therapeutic. This project stems from the researchers’ recent discovery that cancer cells made deficient in the large GTPase dynamin-1 are rendered more sensitive to TRAIL-induced apoptosis. Researchers will identify the mechanism for this increased sensitivity and perform a high-throughput screen for small molecule inhibitors of dynamin-1, as potential therapeutic leads for cancer cell-specific, pro-apoptotic compounds.

Acetate May Be a Key Substrate Driving Growth in Early Stage Breast Cancer in Patients – $200,000 to Dr. Robert Bachoo, Assistant Professor of Neurology and Neurotherapeutics, and Internal Medicine, and holder of the Miller Family Professorship in Neuro-Oncology.

These researchers previously have shown that brain tumors, including breast cancer brain metastases, are able to use acetate as a fuel for growth. The current study is designed to determine whether early stage breast cancers can also use acetate for fuel or if this is a property unique to late stage advanced cancers. Findings from this study will help direct therapeutic development of drugs targeting cancer cell metabolism.

Identification of Novel Melanoma Metastasis Driver Genes through Transposon-Mediated Mutagenesis – $200,000 to Dr. Kathryn A. O'Donnell, Assistant Professor of Molecular Biology.

Melanoma is one of the most lethal cancers. Once it spreads to distant organs of the body, in a process called metastasis, the survival of patients drops dramatically. The goal of this grant is to identify new mechanisms that contribute to the ability of melanoma cells to metastasize. If successful, these studies may accelerate the development of new therapies for this deadly disease.

Identifying Inhibitors of Ascl1 to Block Growth of Malignant Neuroendocrine and Neural Tumors – $200,000 to Dr. Jane E. Johnson, Vice Chair and Professor of Neuroscience, and holder of the Shirley and William S. McIntyre Distinguished Chair in Neuroscience.

The goal of this project is to identify inhibitors of a tissue and stage-restricted protein, ASCL1, crucial in tumor growth in multiple malignant tumor types, such as lung neuroendocrine tumors, for which there are no effective long-term treatments available. Targeting ASCL1 and related factors for inhibition provides unexplored therapeutic opportunities to disrupt growth in multiple tumor types that required these factors for cell survival.   

Recruitment Grants

Recruitment of First-Time, Tenure-Track Faculty Members* – $4 million

Maralice Conacci-Sorrell, Ph.D. Recruitment to The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center – $2,000,000.

Andreas Doncic, Ph.D., Recruitment to The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center from Stanford University – $2,000,000.

*Recruitment grants awarded indicate only approval to negotiate offers; at the time of this news release, candidates have not accepted offers.

Prevention Grants

Competitive Continuation/Expansion Grants - $1.49 million

BSPAN3: Breast Screening and Patient Navigation for Rural and Underserved Women across North Texas – $1,499,993 to Dr. Simon J. Craddock Lee, Assistant Professor of Clinical Sciences, and Population Sciences and Cancer Control.

With prior CPRIT support, this program tested a decentralized regional delivery model to provide breast cancer screening and nurse-driven patient navigation to more than 14,000 under- and uninsured women across 17 rural and underserved counties. With this competitive renewal, UT Southwestern’s Moncrief Cancer Institute will further expand access to prevention services into Ellis, Navarro, and Grayson Counties, while sustaining quality metrics that reduce time to clinical resolution and referral to treatment, as needed. BSPAN3 builds on the Institute’s existing rural network of more than 40 community organization partners to strengthen grassroots outreach to underinsured women, and to enhance local visibility for participating providers in this rural network.

Evidence-Based Cancer Prevention Services - $4.8 million

The C-SPAN Coalition: Colorectal Screening and Patient Navigation – $4,800,000 to Dr. Keith Argenbright, Director of UT Southwestern’s Moncrief Cancer Institute and Associate Professor of Clinical Sciences and the Simmons Cancer Center.

A systematic colorectal screening outreach strategy was developed and tested through two prior CPRIT grants to increase screening completion among uninsured patients not up-to-date with screening at John Peter Smith Health System. This project will transition the current screening program to mail FIT (fecal immunochemical test) screening invitations and provide follow-up to an estimated 95,000 underserved residents in 20 counties. A coalition for colorectal cancer screening and patient navigation (C-SPAN) will be developed by extending the current partnerships already in place with county leadership, hospitals, and health care providers – a large number of whom participate in the UT Southwestern/Moncrief Cancer Institute breast cancer screening programs.

Beginning operations in 2009, CPRIT has, to date, awarded $1.33 billion in grants to Texas researchers, institutions, and organizations. CPRIT provides funding through its academic research, prevention, and product development research programs. Programs made possible with CPRIT funding have reached all 254 counties of the state, brought more than 80 distinguished researchers to Texas, advanced scientific and clinical knowledge, and provided more than two million life-saving education, training, prevention and early detection services to Texans. Learn more at cprit.state.tx.us.

UT Southwestern’s Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center includes 13 major cancer care programs with a focus on treating the whole patient with innovative treatments, while fostering groundbreaking basic research that has the potential to improve patient care and prevention of cancer worldwide. In addition, the Center’s education and training programs support and develop the next generation of cancer researchers and clinicians.

The Simmons Cancer Center is among only 30 U.S. cancer research centers to be named a National Clinical Trials Network Lead Academic Participating Site, a prestigious new designation by the NCI, and the only cancer center in North Texas to be so designated. The designation and associated funding is designed to bolster the cancer center’s clinical cancer research for adults and to provide patients access to cancer research trials sponsored by the NCI, where promising new drugs often are tested. 

About UT Southwestern Medical Center: UT Southwestern, one of the premier academic medical centers in the nation, integrates pioneering biomedical research with exceptional clinical care and education. The institution’s faculty includes many distinguished members, including six who have been awarded Nobel Prizes since 1985. The faculty of more than 2,700 is responsible for groundbreaking medical advances and is committed to translating science-driven research quickly to new clinical treatments. UT Southwestern physicians provide medical care in 40 specialties to about 92,000 hospitalized patients and oversee approximately 2.1 million outpatient visits a year.
The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) has awarded UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers more than $12.6 million in research grants for cancer research and prevention, as well as an additional $4 million for recruiting cancer scientists.

The May awards bring the total awarded by CPRIT to UT Southwestern for cancer research, recruitments, and prevention efforts to nearly $55 million in fiscal year 2015. These grants are among 41 awarded statewide that represent an $89 million investment in the fight against cancer.
Excessive tanning raises risk for skin cancer, says Parkland expert
Skin cancer can be avoided by following sun protection practices

Physicians at Parkland Health & Hospital System caution that everyone from toddlers to seniors should be aware of the risk of skin cancer, but especially teens, whose skin may be extra-susceptible to damage because their cells are dividing and changing more rapidly than those of adults.

“Despite evidence that skin damage can be caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun, too many people still think a tan makes them look healthier,” said Benjamin Chong, MD, Medical Chief of Dermatology at Parkland and Associate Professor of Dermatology at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. “We see too many cases of skin cancers that could have been prevented by minimizing UV exposure.”

The American Cancer Society reports that each year there are more new cases of skin cancer than the combined incidence of cancers of the breast, prostate, lung and colon. An estimated 73,870 new cases of melanoma, the most aggressive type of skin cancer, will be diagnosed in 2015. Melanoma accounts for less than two percent of all skin cancer cases, but causes the vast majority of skin cancer deaths.

Young people and teens are especially vulnerable to the tanning mystique. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) more than 80 percent of individuals 25 and younger believe they look better with a tan and only three in 10 teens say they “always” use sun block.

The AAD reports that teenage girls and young women are also the most frequent users of tanning machines, even though people who tan indoors are 74 percent more likely than non-tanners to develop melanoma.

“Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer,” said Dr. Chong. “And the myth that dark skin protects against skin cancer is not true.”

Studies reported by the Skin Cancer Foundation show that African Americans, Hispanic and Asian patients are less likely to seek treatment for skin lesions before the disease has reached an advanced stage. Detecting skin cancer early by watching for new or changing skin growths and reporting them promptly to a physician helps save lives.

While everyone is at risk for skin cancer, fair-skinned people are at higher risk. Preventing exposure to UV radiation is the best way to lower the risk of getting any type of skin cancer, including melanoma, according to the American Cancer Society.

Dr. Chong recommends everyone take the following steps to lower their skin cancer risk:
Wear sunscreen and lip balm every day, year round, regardless of the weather. Select a product with sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 and that is labeled “broad spectrum,” meaning it protects against both UVA and UVB rays.

Apply sunscreen at least 15 minutes before going outside.
Reapply sunscreen at least every two hours or more often if you're sweating or swimming.
Wear sunglasses with total UV protection.
Wear wide-brimmed hats and long-sleeved shirts and pants.
For additional protection, wear sun-protective clothing with a UPF ((Ultraviolet Protection Factor) rating of 30 or higher
Avoid being out in the sun from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Check your skin regularly, watching for any changes or new growths.
Use cosmetics and contact lenses with UV protection.
Parents should protect their child's skin and teach children the importance of sun protection.
Avoid using tanning beds.

For more information about skin cancer, visit www.cancer.org. For more information about health services at Parkland, visit www.parklandhospital.com
Whether the “healthy glow” comes from sun exposure outdoors or an indoor tanning bed, a tan is not a sign of good health, say dermatologists. May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month – a good time to brush up on your SPF IQ, stock up on sunscreen, check out the latest fashions in sun-protective clothing and get the facts about skin cancer.