‘Humanizing’ Mice to Advance Research

Dr. Whalen

Mice are playing a key role in cancer research at the UMass Cancer Avatar Institute. “Humanized” mice carry functioning human genes, cells, tissues or organs, which are then used to study the efficiency of human therapies. One form of therapy being tested by Giles Whalen, MD, chief of the Division of Surgical Oncology and Endocrine Surgery, is immunotherapy. “The mice avatars are a superb tool for understanding which immunotherapy drugs might work or should be developed further, and to understand why a particular treatment is working or not, before taking it into clinical trials with human patients,” Dr. Whalen said. Read more in our UMass Memorial Health Care 2017 Annual Report of Cancer Services.

Attend This Week’s Innovation Celebration

Four new Lean Green Belts were recognized at the last Innovation Celebration. Left to right are: Ana Mechlin, Kathleen Mondor, Kayla Mantegazza and Valerie Tortora.

All caregivers are encouraged to stop by the Innovation Celebration on Friday, January 18, noon to 1 pm, Hahnemann Campus lobby. Learn about and recognize Medical Center initiatives, projects and ideas such as Standards of Respect, residents’ appreciation week, the patient experience tissue drive, wellness initiatives, internal medicine’s idea system and more! We will also celebrate the Medical Center Innovators of the Year winning team, the University Campus Emergency Department!

See the Final Two Sweet 16 Videos; Vote for Your Favorites

Welcome to the final two videos, below, featuring the “Sweet 16” finalists for the Innovator of the Year Awards. Watch to learn more about the Office of Capital Planning; Information Services Hosting and Biomedical Device Integration; Environmental Services on the Leominster Campus of HealthAlliance-Clinton Hospital; Granger 1 and 2 at Marlborough Hospital; Adult Outpatient Department at Community Healthlink; Laboratory at HealthAlliance-Clinton Hospital; and 6 East and Endoscopy/Gastroenterology Scheduling at the Medical Center. Vote for your favorite teams by the December 21 deadline, then join us Monday, January 7 from 10 to 10:45 am at a watch party near you as we announce the Innovators of the Year winning team(s)! View the flyer for details.

Watch Premiere of Sweet 16 Video Series

Our Innovators of the Year finalists – also known as our “Sweet 16” – have been announced, and you’re invited to learn more about them by watching a four-part video series featuring four teams each. The kickoff video below highlights Information Services/Desktop Services and Medical Center teams from Emergency Mental Health, 5 East, and the Memorial Campus Emergency Department. The next video will be included in the next edition of News & Views. After all four videos have been featured, you’ll get to vote for your favorite team! The winning team(s) will be announced in January.

Video Series to Feature our Sweet 16 Finalists

The 2018 Innovators of the Year finalist teams – our “Sweet 16” – were announced earlier this month to all caregivers across the system. Starting next week, News & Views will be featuring these teams in a four-part video series to give you the chance to learn more about them. The Innovators of the Year winning teams will be announced in early January. New this year: You’ll get to vote for your favorite team! Watch the video series for additional details.

Medical School Seeks Participants for Asthma Study

If you’ve been diagnosed with asthma, you may be eligible to participate in a research study at the Medical School that compares two programs designed to increase asthma control and improve quality of life. If you are interested and eligible to participate in the study, you will be randomly assigned to one of the two programs. Each involves coming to eight, weekly 2½-hour classes, one all-day class on a weekend day, and some time spent on home assignments. An assessment of your asthma control and lung function will be completed before you start the classes, and again at six, 12 and 18 months after your initial visit. The assessments involve completing questionnaires at home, using a peak flow meter for two weeks, and having lung function tests done in the pulmonary clinic. Participants will be compensated for their time. If you are interested and would like more information, email Dante Simone or call 508-856-8384.

Call for Proposals to Improve the Lives of Those With Diabetes

The Berkman Fund Governance Committee, in conjunction with our Diabetes Center of Excellence, is soliciting proposals for funding of clinical projects intended to improve the lives of people with diabetes. Proposals requesting between $50,000 and $150,000 will be considered. Applicants are requested to submit an abstract of the proposed project before 5 pm , Wednesday, October 31. Faculty and staff of our health care system and the Medical School are invited to apply. Return the abstract application with a copy of your curriculum vitae to Lisa Hubacz, administrator, Diabetes Center of Excellence. Email Michael Thompson, MD, clinical research chief, Diabetes Center of Excellence or Lisa Hubacz with questions.

Dr. Choueiri’s Autism Screening Tool Featured in T&G

Dr. Choueiri works with a 2-year-old child on the autism test she developed. (Photo courtesy of the Telegram & Gazette)

Roula Choueiri, MD, chief of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics at our Children’s Medical Center, was recently interviewed by the Telegram & Gazette to share the benefits of a new Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) screening tool she developed called the Rapid Interaction Screening Test for Autism in Toddlers (RITA-T). According to Dr. Choueiri, many families are left waiting anywhere from six to 12 months to be seen for a diagnosis, which delays intervention, and ultimately impacting a child’s outcomes. Dr. Choueiri’s screening can be conducted in only 10 minutes and quickly identifies the need for further testing. Read the story; watch Dr. Choueiri explain the tool.

Get Gift Basket Raffle Tickets to Support Colorectal Cancer Research

The Division of Colon and Rectal Surgery is coordinating a gift basket fundraiser raffle for the UMass Memorial Colorectal Cancer Fund. Basket themes include museums, movies, martinis, wine, car care and men’s items. In addition, you can participate in a silent auction for a seven-day Maine trip to Kennebunkport and fishing charter from Wells. Sleeves of 23 tickets are $20. Stop by the Memorial Campus cafeteria Wednesday, June 6, and Thursday, June 7, 11:30 am to 1 pm, for a chance to win! Want to participate but cannot travel to the Memorial Campus? Contact Cheryl Ferriter: Email or call 508-334-5432.

Dr. Choueiri Develops New Autism Screening Test

Roula Choueiri, MD, chief of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics at UMass Memorial Children’s Medical Center, recently developed the Rapid Interactive Screening Test for Autism in Toddlers (RITA-T). The new tool, which takes only 10 minutes to administer, aims to trigger a reaction from children through play in order to study their ability to make eye contact and share enjoyment, surprise and attention. This information helps providers identify the signs associated with autism in toddlers as young as 18 months old, resulting in earlier access to treatments and better integration at school and in other areas. Watch the Worcester News Tonight interview below.