The Scoop: A Publication of the University of Texas Medical School at Houston

Produced by the Office of Communications // March 1, 2012

Bayshore Family Practice joins UT Physicians, offers weekend hours

Bayshore Family Practice Center

The UT Physicians Bayshore Family Practice Center is now open Sundays for urgent care.

The Bayshore Family Practice Center is now part of the UT Physicians family. Located in the Clear Lake/Pasadena area, off of Beltway 8 at 11452 Space Center Blvd., the center offers a team of family physicians and specialists ready to care for patients age 1 week and up, seven days a week.

With a staff of family practice physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and a growing number of specialists, including cardiologists and endocrinologists, the UT Physicians Bayshore Family Practice Center prides itself on compassion, good listening, and creating a true patient connection. The staff of more than 50 employees welcomes patients into a family atmosphere—ready to serve their needs.

The practice was founded by husband-wife physician team, Dr. Thomas Murphy and Dr. Glenda Goodine.

“While we have been serving patients for more than 25 years, we now have expanded to provide urgent-care needs on the weekends,” Dr. Murphy said. “The weekend times are reserved for walk-in patients with acute issues—not for routine visits that can be scheduled during the week.”

For more information, or to schedule an appointment, please call 713.486.6200.

— Darla Brown, Office of Communications, Medical School

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Researcher looks to stem cells to treat arthritis

Dr. Naoki Nakayama

Dr. Naoki Nakayama

When it comes to treating the millions with osteoarthritis, health care providers could use more options beyond treating symptoms with medications and recommending surgery in severe cases.

Osteoarthritis is associated with wear and tear of joints. Joints are areas where bones come together, and the bones are cushioned by a tissue called cartilage, which can thin over time. Osteoarthritis is a chronic and sometimes painful disease.

Dr. Naoki Nakayama, an associate professor of molecular medicine, said he believes he can repair damaged cartilage with the aid of stem cells and has received a grant from the Arthritis Foundation to begin preliminary work. It is the first new Arthritis Foundation research grant in the Texas Medical Center since 2007 and the largest ever granted here.

There are different types of cartilage, and Nakayama’s research is centered on articular cartilage, the kind that covers the tips of bones that come together in joints. While wear and tear is a major cause of articular cartilage problems, sports injury also can be a factor.

“If this works, you could repair the damaged cartilage in an affected knee by injecting stem cells,” Nakayama said. “The damaged cartilage is sticky and would hold the stem cells that would start to regenerate. Multiple injections may be required.””

Nakayama said the treatment would be reserved for damaged cartilage. “People with osteoarthritis may have one or two painful joints, but the rest are fine. There is no need to treat healthy joints,” he said. The potential treatment would not treat rheumatoid arthritis, which stems from a problem with the patient’s immune system.

To create such cells, he will be working with induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS), which the National Institutes of Health describes as adult cells that have been genetically reprogrammed to an embryonic stem cell–like state.

“We basically turn the clock back on these cells and use them to recreate different cell types,” he said. The iPS cells will allow him to generate any type of embryonic cells in a culture dish. In this case, he is seeking to create precursors to a form of chondrocyte found in articular cartilage.

There have been other attempts to regenerate cartilage using different types of stem cells, but the effect of the stem cells on regenerating stable articular cartilage has been difficult, said Nakayama, whose laboratory is in the Centre for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine at the Brown Foundation Institute of Molecular Medicine for the Prevention of Human Diseases.

“I’ve always been interested in regenerative medicine. I’m particularly interested in joint cartilage regeneration because it cannot be done properly now. This is a real challenge,” he said.

If he is successful in generating and replicating the precursor cell, the next step would involve tests in an animal model to see if damaged cartilage can be restored.

— Robert Cahill, Office of Advancement, Media Relations

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Houston Aortic Symposium set for March 22–24

ouston Aortic Symposium: Frontiers in Cardiovascular Diseases poster

Healthcare professionals involved in the care and treatment of patients with cardiovascular diseases are invited to register for the upcoming Houston Aortic Symposium: Frontiers in Cardiovascular Diseases, which will take place March 22–24 at the Westin Oaks Hotel.

The symposium is designed for cardiac surgeons, cardiologists, vascular surgeons, internists, family practice physicians, anesthesiologists, cardiac nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, residents, and other healthcare professionals involved in the care and treatment of patients with cardiovascular diseases. Course directors are Dr. Hazim Safi, chair of the Department of Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery, and Dr. David McPherson, chair of the Department of Internal Medicine.

Visit the symposium’s website to learn more about this continuing education opportunity, as well as register online.

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Researchers link MS to different area of brain

Dr. Olga Popova, left, Dr. Ming Hu, and Dr. Slavena Vylkova are shown with Dr. John Byrne after being presented with the Post Doctoral Travel Award.

Dr. Khader Hasan, from left, Dr. Ponnada Narayana, and Dr. Jerry Wolinsky.

Medical School researchers have found evidence that multiple sclerosis affects an area of the brain that controls cognitive, sensory, and motor functioning apart from the disabling damage caused by the disease’s visible lesions.

The thalamus of the brain was selected as the benchmark for the study led by Dr. Khader Hasan, associate professor of radiology, and Dr. Ponnada Narayana, professor and director of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) in the Department of Diagnostic and Interventional Imaging; and Dr. Jerry Wolinsky, the Bartels Family and Opal C. Rankin Professor in the Department of Neurology.

Results of the research were published in a recent edition of The Journal of Neuroscience.

“The thalamus is a central area that relates to the rest of the brain and acts as the ‘post office,’” said Hasan, first author of the paper. “It also is an area that has the least amount of damage from lesions in the brain, but we see volume loss, so it appears other brain damage related to the disease is also occurring.”

Researchers have known that the thalamus loses volume in size with typical aging, which accelerates after age 70. The multidisciplinary team’s purpose was to assess if there was more volume loss in patients with multiple sclerosis, which could explain the dementia-related decline associated with the disease.

“Multiple sclerosis patients have cognitive deficits, and the thalamus plays an important role in cognitive function. The lesions we can see, but there is subclinical activity in multiple sclerosis where you can’t see the changes,” said senior author Narayana. “There are neurodegenerative changes even when the brain looks normal, and we saw this damage early in the disease process.”

For the study, researchers used precise imaging by the powerful 3 Tesla MRI scanner to compare the brains of 109 MS patients to 255 healthy subjects. The patients were recruited through the Multiple Sclerosis Research Group, directed by Wolinsky, and the healthy controls through the Department of Pediatrics’ Children’s Learning Institute.

Adjusting for age-related changes in the thalamus, the patients with multiple sclerosis had less thalamic volume than the controls. The amount of thalamic loss also appeared to be related to the severity of disability.

“This is looking at multiple sclerosis in a different way,” Hasan said. “The thalami are losing cellular content, and we can use this as a marker of what’s going on. If we can find a way to detect the disease earlier in a more vulnerable population, we could begin treatment sooner.”

UTHealth co-authors are Dr. Indika Walimuni, post-doctoral research associate; Dr. Humaira Abid, former post-doctoral research associate; Dr. Linda Ewing-Cobbs, professor of pediatrics; and Dr. Richard Frye, former assistant professor of pediatrics and neurology. The research was funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health. The title of the article is “Multimodal Quantitative Magnetic Resonance Imaging of Thalamic Development and Aging Across the Human Lifespan: Implications to Neurodegeneration in Multiple Sclerosis.”

— Deborah Mann Lake, Office of Advancement, Media Relations

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Heads and hearts

Medical students hosted a “Hard Hats for Little Heads” event in conjunction with the Texas Medical Association Feb. 11 at Woodland Acres Elementary School at their annual health fair. Bike helmets were given to children, and the students provided educational demonstrations and fliers. The event was a huge success, and the students enjoyed it as much as the children. The chapter looks forward to another similar event in the future.

Medical students hosted a “Hard Hats for Little Heads” event in conjunction with the Texas Medical Association Feb. 11 at the Woodland Acres Elementary School's annual health fair. Bike helmets were given to children, and the students provided educational demonstrations and fliers. The event was a huge success, and the students enjoyed it as much as the children. The chapter looks forward to another similar event in the future.





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Events to know

Proposals for Faculty Development Leave are due April 1 in the Office of Faculty Affairs, MSB G.420. Proposals can be submitted twice a year: April 1 and Nov. 1. The guidelines can be found here. For questions, call Faye Viola, 713.500.5101.

March 5

Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology Seminar Series: Dr. Itzhak Fishov (Ben-Gurion University of the Negev) presents, “Interactions of the initiator of chromosome replication in bacteria DnaA with membrane in vitro and in vivo.”
Noon–1 p.m., MSB 2.135.

Department of Integrative Biology and Pharmacology Seminar Series: Dr. Jon D. Levine (University of California, San Francisco) presents, “Mysteries of the Nociceptor: Toward a Cell Biology of Pain.”
4–5 p.m., MSB 2.135.

March 6

Microbiology and Molecular Genetics Seminar Series: Dr. Yunrong “Win” Chai (Harvard University) presents, “Multicellular development by Bacillus subtilis.”
10:45 a.m., MSB 2.135.

March 7

Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences Grand Rounds: Dr. Octavio Martinez (executive director, Hogg Foundation for Mental Health) presents, “Current Interest and Trends in Behavioral Health Funding from a Philanthropic Perspective.”
Noon–1 p.m., HCPC Auditorium.

March 8

Department of Surgery Grand Rounds: Dr. John Harvin, administrative chief resident, Department of Surgery, presents, “The Open Abdomen.”
7 a.m., MSB 3.001.
CME credit is available.

Microbiology and Molecular Genetics Seminar Series: Dr. Laura Lackner (University of California, Davis) presents, “The molecular mechanisms of mitochondrial division and positioning.”
10:45 a.m., MSB 2.135.

Neurobiology and Anatomy Seminar Series: Dr. Helmut Koester (UT Austin) presents, “Fine Local Control Over Neural Correlations in Layer 2/3 of the Rodent Barrel Cortex.”
4 p.m., MSB 2.135.

March 12

Center for Membrane Biology Seminar Series: Dr. Claudio Grosman (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) presents, “The Unanticipated Complexity of the Ring of Glutamates in the Charge Selectivity Filter of the Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptor. Protonation-deprotonation or Side-chain Dynamics?”
Noon–1 p.m., MSB 2.135.

Department of Integrative Biology and Pharmacology Seminar Series: Dr. Sarah Plowman, assistant professor, presents, “Regulation of EGFR function by the lipid environment.”
4–5 p.m., MSB 2.135.

March 14

Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences Grand Rounds: Dr. Katie Roberts, chief resident, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, presents, “Ethical Issues in Child & Adolescent Consult Liaison Psychiatry.”
Noon–1 p.m., HCPC Auditorium.

5th Annual Cheves Smythe Distinguished Lecture in Geriatrics and Education: Dr. Charles Reynolds III (University of Pittsburgh) presents, “Prospectives on Positive Aging and Depression.”
4–5 p.m., MSB 3.001.

March 15

Medical School Research Committee Workshop: “Mechanisms of RNA Metabolism and Action in Disease and Infection.”
Chair: Dr. Joseph Alcorn, associate professor of pediatrics. Speakers: Drs. Ambro van Hoof, Eric Wagner, Ann-Bin Shyu, and Barrett Harvey.
9 a.m., MSB 2.135.

Brain Night for Kids.
The UTHealth Neuroscience Research Center is hosting Brain Night for Kids, which allows hundreds of children in the Houston community to learn more about the brain through interactive displays and booths. Invite your family and friends to this free event!
6–8 p.m., The Health Museum, 1515 Hermann Dr.

March 19

Department of Integrative Biology and Pharmacology Seminar Series: Dr. Jeff Rosen (Baylor College of Medicine) presents, “Wnt/Fgf Interactions in Mammary Stem Cells and Breast Cancer.”
4–5 p.m., MSB 2.135.

March 21

Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences Grand Rounds: Drs. Melissa Allen and Bobby Nix, chief residents, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, present, “Toxic Leadership.”
Noon–1 p.m., HCPC Auditorium.

March 22

MD Anderson Cancer Center Women Faculty Programs Kripke Legend Award: Dr. Nancy Hopkins (MIT) presents, “Engineering Equity for Women Faculty in Science and Engineering: The MIT Story.”
4 p.m., Onstead Auditorium, MD Anderson Cancer Center.

March 26

Department of Integrative Biology and Pharmacology Seminar Series: Dr. Robert Kass (Columbia University) presents, “Molecular Pharmacology of Cardiac Ion Channels: Disease-Associated Mutations and Patient-Specific Genetics.”
4–5 p.m., MSB 2.135.

March 28

Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences Grand Rounds: Dr. Elizabeth Truong, resident, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, presents, “Identifying and Managing Burnout during Residency.”
Noon–1 p.m., HCPC Auditorium.

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