Continuing Medical Education News

March 4, 2013

Primary Care Conference features wide spectrum of experts, topics

JOHNSON CITY – More than 35 physicians and other health care providers will highlight the latest advances in medicine during the 17th annual Primary Care Conference, being held March 25-28 by East Tennessee State University's James H. Quillen College of Medicine.

The conference, which is presented by the ETSU Office of Continuing Medical Education (CME), will be held at the Millennium Centre and is intended for primary care physicians of all specialties, as well as surgeons, orthopedists and emergency medicine physicians. Other providers who deliver frontline health care will benefit, including advanced practice nurses, physician assistants, registered nurses, dietitians, dentists and psychologists.

The scope of topics has made the conference one of the signature events for the Office of CME, a division of the Quillen College of Medicine. A new feature this year will be workshops on suturing and injection techniques that will be held at Quillen.

Dr. T. Watson Jernigan, chair of the ETSU Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and associate dean for Clinical Affairs at Quillen, has been a presenter and audience participant at the Primary Care Conference, and he marvels at the spectrum and quality of information for health care providers.

Jernigan's presentation this year focuses on new evidence pertaining to the cardiovascular effects of estrogen therapy for women with menopause. A highly publicized 2002 study – known as the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) – linked estrogen therapy to an increased risk for heart disease, Jernigan said, but a new investigation offers additional insight.

The Kronos Early Estrogen Prevention Study (KEEPS) is a renewed look at estrogen use and menopause, especially in patients in early menopause. Jernigan's presentation, "Battle of the Titans: WHI vs. KEEPS," arose from his attendance at a national meeting of leading experts on menopause.

"What I'm presenting is what I learned at the North American Menopause Society national meeting – the results were very significant, but they haven't even been widely published yet," Jernigan said. "The Women's Health Initiative changed the environment of menopause treatment, because it talked about women being at increased risk for heart disease and breast cancer with estrogen therapy.

"The WHI study was significant; it showed that there's no doubt that if you've had a heart attack and you're over the menopausal age, estrogen is probably not the best therapy for you. But we are seeing 48-year-olds, 55-year-olds, who are athletic, who are in the early stages of symptomatic menopause, who we believe should not worry about increased heart disease risk with estrogen use."

Jernigan said he considers it a privilege to pass along new information in his specialty to colleagues from throughout the region, and he appreciates the reciprocal knowledge gained when he's in the audience.

"A physician or a nurse practitioner could attend 30 conferences around the country to learn about the hottest topics and latest advances in treatment," Jernigan said, "but that isn't realistic because of the time and the cost it would involve. Instead, everyone gets to come to one place that is very accessible. And then, in turn, they take what they've learned and put that into practice in communities throughout our region, which results in improved care for patients."

The new, hands-on workshops that offer instruction on suturing techniques and joint aspirations will be held in the gross anatomy lab at the College of Medicine. Dr. Caroline Abercrombie, ETSU instructor and director of the gross anatomy lab, developed the workshops in collaboration with several experts she recruited, most of whom have Quillen ties. Workshop instructors Drs. Gaurav Bharti, Sarah Edwards, Jason Moore and Howard Herrell are Quillen alumni, and a second-year medical student, Jon Miller, is also participating.

"There's a wide variety of attendees at the conference – including physicians, surgical PAs, nurse practitioners and students – so these workshops will allow some to refresh the skills they already have and also provide the opportunity for others to learn new ones," Abercrombie said. "I had a reason for reaching out to a number of Quillen graduates for help. This will showcase the highly competent medical education we have here. All of those doctors are excellent teachers; they all went to school at Quillen; and they all have either stayed here or returned here."

For online registration and more information, including a complete list of speakers and topics, visit www.etsu.edu/com/cme. Registration for the conference, as well as assistance for those with disabilities, is also available by calling the Office of CME at (423) 439-8027.

The Quillen College of Medicine is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. Topics related to dental care and nutrition are included in this year's conference, and ETSU has filed applications for additional educational credits through the Commission on Dietetic Registration, the Tennessee Nursing Association, the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education, the Tennessee Board of Dentistry, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the National Association of Long Term Care Administrator Boards, also known as NAB.

September 19, 2012

ETSU researchers receive Department of Defense grant to unravel mysteries of autism

JOHNSON CITY – A scientist at East Tennessee State University renowned for his studies of brain biology and its relation to psychiatric illnesses has received grant funding from the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) to investigate brain abnormalities that may play a role in the development of autism.

Dr. Gregory Ordway, professor and interim chair of the James H. Quillen College of Medicine's Department of Biomedical Sciences, received the DOD grant to search for new understandings of how dysfunction in the brain's white matter – the areas that communicate signals from one part of the brain to another – may be a precursor or indicator of autism.

Ordway and his research associate, Dr. Michelle Chandley, theorize that these abnormalities in white matter may contribute, in particular, to difficulties in social interactions, a signature symptom of autism. They received a grant of $150,000 for the two-year pilot study.

In the human brain, gray matter is where information resides and processing of that information takes place, Ordway explained. White matter serves as the pathway for transmitting signals from one area of the brain to another.

A certain kind of abnormality within that white matter is the target of the study. The appearance of these "hyperintensities," which reveal as white spots on a magnetic resonance imaging scan, can be part of the normal aging process, but an early onset of them can be an indicator for some neurological conditions, including autism.

"We're trying to understand why they occur and what they mean," said Ordway, who is principal investigator. "Autism is associated with having more of these white matter hyperintensities, which show up as very white spots on a scan. Behaviors that are associated with normal social behaviors and interactions are processed in several areas of the brain, but especially in a region called the anterior cingulate cortex. Abnormalities in the white matter of that region have been particularly observed in people who have autism."

Neurochemical imbalances in the brain that can lead to depression and suicide remain Ordway's primary research focus, but the DOD grant represents the second time in two years his lab has received extramural funding to study autism. Chandley, who is serving a postdoctoral fellowship, first urged Ordway to explore the biological causes of autism, and her insistence led to an investigation funded by Autism Speaks.

Her persistence also led to the DOD grant, Ordway said. Both are hopeful that their study could identify unique molecular targets for drug development, which would be a scientific breakthrough since there are few adequate drug treatments for autism.

"Autism is still a mystery because there's so much we still don't understand, and it affects 1 in 88 children," Chandley said. "We not only lack treatments for autism – there's no biochemical or molecular screening for the disorder, either."

The study is notable not only for its pursuit of new understandings but also for the process involved. Ordway's lab will harvest cells from postmortem autism brains through a process called laser capture microdissection, an extremely precise method of extracting a single type of human cell so that the cell can be screened for signs of disrupted function. The typical harvest method yields what is more an admixture of cells – still useful, Ordway said, but not as precise.

"With laser capture microdissection, we will be able to do an analysis of all transcribed genes of a single cell type," Ordway said. "If we can get this method to work, it will be a major step forward in the science, and could reveal currently unknown pathology of autism. We could also apply this method to research on other brain disorders."

 

August 2, 2012

Dr. Keith Huffaker Named Medical Director of Telemedicine

R. Keith Huffaker, M.D., M.B.A., FACOG, Assistant Professor, Chief of Urogynecology and Clinical Coordinator in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, has been named Medical Director of the Telemedicine Project at the Quillen College of Medicine at East Tennessee State University. Funded by a USDA grant, this project will seek to meet the educational and health related needs of five counties in the Southern Appalachian region related to high risk obstetrics, pediatric infectious disease, and geriatric services. Telemedicine services will include consultation, assessment, diagnosis, and prevention education. Continuing Medical Education will be provided through virtual connections to the Quillen College of Medicine, with particular emphasis on the identified needs of the healthcare providers in these communities.

Dr. Huffaker received his medical degree from the Quillen College of Medicine at ETSU in 2002 and completed an internship/residency at the University of Tennessee School of Medicine in 2006. Prior to coming to the Quillen College of Medicine as Chief of Urogynecology in 2009, Dr. Huffaker completed a Fellowship in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Scott and White Memorial Hospital and Clinic, Texas A & M Health Science Center College of Medicine, Temple and Round Rock, Texas. He completed an MBA at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in December 2011.

Please join us in congratulating Dr. Huffaker on this appointment.

Barbara Sucher, Associate Dean for CME and the P.I. for the USDA grant, will continue as Project Director for the telemedicine project.

 

July 30, 2012

LIFEPATH conference includes wide spectrum of topics for health care workers

JOHNSON CITY – Public health professionals can learn new skills and enhance existing ones at an upcoming conference on Friday, Aug. 17, sponsored by LIFEPATH, Tennessee's public health training center.

"Public Health and You" will feature experts speaking on a variety of topics suited for health professionals, including health educators and administrators, nurses, pediatricians, physicians, social workers, epidemiologists and others. The conference will be held from 7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

LIFEPATH, which is housed in the East Tennessee State University College of Public Health, provides academic and non-academic training opportunities for the public health workforce across Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. "Public Health and You," which attracted attendees from across the state last year, will include guest speakers from academia, health care and mass media.

Dr. Joy Wachs, director of the ETSU University and Midway Honors Program, will speak on community partnerships.

Tony Benton, CEO of Mountain States Health Alliance's Franklin Woods Community Hospital, will focus on Accountable Care Organizations, a health care model where groups of physicians, hospitals and other health care providers come together to coordinate and improve care for patients while also lowering costs.

Joe Smith and Josh Smith will bring dual perspectives to the topic of media and public relations. Josh Smith is the evening news anchor for WJHL-TV 11 Connects, and Joe Smith is director of media relations for ETSU's Office of University Relations.

Dr. Mike Stoots, an assistant professor and undergraduate program coordinator for the ETSU College of Public Health, will discuss how participants can conduct evaluation of their own organizations to better measure outcomes and success.

Admission is free, but pre-registration is encouraged due to advance planning requirements. Online registration is available on the LIFEPATH website at www.tnphtc.org. For more information, contact Paula Masters, director of LIFEPATH, at (423) 439-4421 or .


July 20, 2012

Quillen College of Medicine will celebrate Adebonojo's legacy at Southwest Virginia Pediatrics Conference

JOHNSON CITY - Physicians and other health care providers can explore the latest issues unique to delivering health care for children at the 28th annual Southwest Virginia Pediatrics Conference, being presented Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 4-5, by the East Tennessee State University Department of Pediatrics.

Faculty from the James H. Quillen College of Medicine and other academic medical centers are among those who will speak on a wide spectrum of pediatric topics at the Martha Washington Inn in Abingdon. The conference, which is co-sponsored by the ETSU Office of Continuing Medical Education and Niswonger Children's Hospital, is designed for pediatricians, primary care physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurses, medical residents and medical students.

This year's event is being held in memory of a physician who was an extraordinary influence on pediatrics in the region: the late Dr. Festus Adebonojo. A former ETSU professor and chair of Pediatrics, Adebonojo died at his Johnson City home in June.

The first Nigerian to graduate from Yale University, Adebonojo came to ETSU in 1989 to be a professor of Pediatrics and chair of the department. For the rest of his life, he remained a constant presence at Quillen, where his legacy is considerable. He recruited pediatric sub-specialists to ETSU, established an accredited pediatric residency at the university, and also recruited Dr. Philip Bagnell, dean of Quillen, and Dr. David Kalwinsky, to Johnson City.

Kalwinsky, who is now chair of Pediatrics at Quillen, said Adebonojo's contribution to children's health care in the region cannot be overestimated.

"Early on in his tenure at ETSU, Dr. Adebonojo championed a children's hospital within a hospital at Johnson City Medical Center, and he was instrumental in developing what became Niswonger Children's Hospital," Kalwinsky said. "Because the wide scope of learning opportunities at the conference directly influence the quality of health care that children receive in our region, this is an ideal time for us to remember Festus and salute his legacy.

"Festus was proud of Yale and proud of ETSU. He worked tirelessly for the welfare of our children."

The keynote speaker for this year's conference is Dr. R. Allen Coffman, who is president of the Tennessee chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Elizabeth B. Brown will speak as a parent on the topic of "Surviving the Death of a Child - Help for Struggling Families." She and her husband, Dr. Paul E. Brown Jr., have made an impact at Quillen as well. One of the conference presenters - Dr. Apostolos Psychogios, medical director of the ETSU Division of Genetics - holds the LeeAnne Brown Chair of Excellence in Pediatrics, named for the Browns' daughter, a Johnson City girl who died in 1984 at age 6. The Chair of Excellence was founded in 1993 in her memory by the College of Medicin and the State of Tennessee, with additional gifts from her parents and their family and friends.

For a complete list of presentations, to register, or to request special assistance, visit the ETSU Office of CME website at www.etsu.edu/com/cme or call (423) 439-8027. The Quillen College of Medicine is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

 

January 31

USDA Telemedicine Grant for ETSU College of Medicine

"At 9 am today, ETSU Quillen College of Medicine received a $191,601 USDA Rural Development grant supporting telemedicine connections between Quillen and 5 counties in TN, KY, and VA. USDA's Rural Development State Director, Bobby Goode, presented the award to Associate Dean Barbara Sucher, who was accompanied by President Noland, Vice President Bishop, and Dean Bagnell. ETSU's eLearning office is helping with the technology behind the project."