Jamey Weichert, PhD, Associate Professor and Director of the UW Carbone Cancer Center’s Small Animal Imaging and Radiotherapy Facility, and his Co-PI, Zachary Morris, Assistant Professor in the Department of Human Oncology, recently received a $3.8 million, a five year National Cancer Institute Biden Moonshot UO1 grant for their research. Drs. Weichert’s and Morris’ work focuses on combining molecular targeted radionuclide therapy (MTRT), developed by Dr. Weichert, and immunotherapy being developed by Dr. Morris and Paul Sondel. The grant, which is the direct product of an interdisciplinary UW2020 award to this group, began in September and includes the Weichert Lab (Radiology), Morris Lab (Human Oncology), Sondel lab (Pediatric Oncology), and Bednarz Lab (Medical Physics).
A huge challenge in treating cancers is their ability to avoid immune surveillance and control. Recent research has focused on enhancing the detection of cancer cells by the immune system and recent clinical results have afforded increased survival for many patients with advanced melanoma and lung cancers for example. Although immunotherapy results are encouraging in several advanced cancers, only a fraction of patients respond and some eventually develop resistance to the treatment. In preclinical studies, Weichert and Morris discovered that delivering low-dose radiation to all disease sites with tumor targeted radioactive molecules modifies the tumor microenvironment in a way that significantly enhances systemic immune recognition and destruction of tumors anywhere in the body. Moreover, in initial animal studies with melanoma, breast, and lymphoma cancers, not only do a majority of animals become disease free, an immune memory is produced which rejects subsequently injected cancer cells.
This grant will enable Weichert, Morris, and their colleagues to improve the delivery of immunomodulatory radiation to all tumors in a less invasive manner. MTRT is unique due to its ability to deliver radiation to all tumor sites, even those that are hidden or undetected. Administered intravenously, it allows selective delivery of radiation to tumor cells and subsequently enhances immunologic detection and destruction of the cancer cells with the potential of developing memory for that cancer type. The grant will also help to decipher the biologic mechanisms of this new approach.
Dr. Vivek Prabhakaran, Associate Professor of Neuroradiology, and his interdisciplinary team of researchers were recently awarded a prestigious five-year NIH-NINDS R01 grant. This grant is worth ~$2.25 million, and is focused on Brain Computer Interface (BCI) technology research and its effects on the rehabilitation time of stroke patients. This team includes Professor Justin Williams, the Chair of Biomedical Engineering, Professor Dorothy Edwards of Kinesiology, Associate Professor Justin Sattin of Neurology, Assistant Professor Kristen Caldera of Rehabilitation Medicine, and Dr. Veena Nair, Associate Research Scientist in Radiology.
Strokes are the fourth leading cause of death in the United States, with ~800,000 people suffering each year from a new or recurrent stroke, and around four million Americans currently living with the after effects of a stroke. Dr. Prabhakaran and his team plan to collect neuroimaging (fMRI, DTI) and behavioral measures of around 190 stroke patients to assess the efficiency of novel BCI technology used to rehabilitate these stroke patients, in order to discover more effective stroke treatments.
Brain-Computer Interface is a technology that enables direct communication between the brain and an external device. This is more accurate than the current standard of care Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) because it interacts more with the brain rather than simply strengthening the stroke-affected muscles as it is done with regular FES. Dr. Prabhakaran views this combination of BCI coupled with FES as a "Smart FES" vs. the current stand-alone FES system, which is the current standard of care.
Dr. Elizabeth Sadowski, Professor and Director of Gynecologic Imaging, was recently named the Dr. Morton Bosniak Lecturer for the New York University Head to Toe Abdominal Course. This course will take place at the New York Hilton Midtown hotel from December 17-21. Dr. Sadowski will lecture on US and MR imaging of adnexal masses, and MR/PET imaging of endometrial and cervical cancer.Dr. Sadowski has spent the past two decades investigating and publishing on topics related to gynecologic imaging, helping radiologists around the world understand how to provide clinicians with accurate imaging assessment information so they can tailor treatments appropriately for their patients.
The UW School of Medicine and Public Health's Quarterly magazine recently featured two faculty members in the Department of Radiology, Vivek Prabhakaran, MD, PhD, and Elizabeth Burnside, MD, MPH, MS, FACR. Dr. Prabhakaran's work on post-stroke brain plasticity received a NIH KL2 award and a pilot award from the UW Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (ICTR). Read the full story here.
Weibo Cai, PhD, Professor in the UWSMPH Department of Radiology, was one of the collaborators on a project that developed new, low-cost technology for a bandage that promotes faster healing.
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This past June, the UW Physician Assistant Program held its annual White Coat Ceremony, a tradition that commemorates the beginning of students’ clinical year.
Guest speakers included Venkata Meduri, MD, a clinical assistant professor in the UW Department of Radiology Community Section, who shared a lively and inspirational talk, sharing three lessons with the PA audience:
The first? Get ready to get dirty. “Look at your coat right now,” he laughed. “This is the cleanest it will EVER be.” A white coat stained with sweat, blood or vomit is a reminder that “medicine is visceral and real work, and that your decisions and actions always matter.”
The second? Rely on others. Recalling a night shift early in residency when a colleague helped him identify a ruptured aorta, he reminded students that “medicine is not a vacuum, and when possible, is best practiced as a team effort.”
The third? Never be afraid to ask a question. “It’s humbling to realize how much you don’t know,” he said, but “if you’re not asking questions, you’re not learning.... One day, you’ll find things haveflipped and you’re answering more questions than asking.”
Dr. Meduri closed his talk with the same advice that he not only gives the PA students at the end of his lecture series, but that he also received during hisfirst few weeks at UW: “Be humble, be hungry, and be the hardest worker in the room.” The source? Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
Dr. Meghan G. Lubner was selected to serve as faculty for the Society of Abdominal Radiology (SAR) International Educational Conference in Dublin, Ireland.Dr Lubner was selected in recognition of her expertise in oncologic imaging, biopsies, and CT biomarkers and in recognition of her record of outstanding education.She delivered six lectures, both to the local trainees and as a part of the Annual Scientific meeting.Congratulations, Dr. Lubner, on this fabulous honor!
David Bluemke, MD, PhD, and Christopher François, MD, recently made presentations to an international conference in Mexico City – without leaving Madison. Both doctors spoke on cardiac MRI "virtually" to a Mexico City audience attending a multi-modality cardiac imaging conference. This was done as part of an international outreach effort supported by the Society for Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance (SCMR) and the Society for Cardiovascular Computed Tomography (SCCT) in collaboration with colleagues at several other institutions in the US and overseas.
“Apparently the session was very well-attended and well-received,” Dr. François said. We anticipate we will be repeating this type of interaction through future international outreach efforts.”
Dr. Bluemke added, “It should be mentioned that Chris really showed everyone how to do this by lecturing in Spanish!”
Myron Pozniak, MD, FACR, Professor Emeritus of Radiology, competed in The Ironman 70.3 international Championship in Port Elizabeth, South Africa on September 2. Over 2,500 male athletes around the world qualified, from between the ages of 18 to 75+ and represented over 70 countries across the globe.
To qualify, one had to win a race against their age group which, in Dr. Pozniak’s case, took place in October the year prior. Myron Pozniak, as well as Tony D’Alessandro, a UW Health transplant surgeon, qualified in the Austin, Texas half Ironman, presenting them with an opportunity to compete.
Dr. Pozniak’s overall goal was to finish the race in under six hours, which would have surpassed his personal record by 15 minutes. Unfortunately, the weather was not on his side, as it ended up raining on the bike course. This was only a small bump in the road for Dr. Pozniak, and he would not let it bring down his positive attitude or ability to finish the race. Despite the rain, he was still able to complete the race in just over six hours and five minutes, in the middle of his age group, against against approximately 60 international competitors.
“Overall, I am happy with my performance. It could’ve been a little better, but so can everything in life. I enjoy competing in the Ironman. It gives me a healthy focus for something to do in retirement; or at least what I am currently calling retirement.” Dr. Pozniak said. He currently does not have plans set up for another race, although he is looking into a few opportunities. “My knees are going to have to stop talking to me however before I do anything. They have the potential to veto my ego.”
Greg Avey, MD, Assistant Professor (CHS) at the UWSMPH Department of Radiology, recently returned from his 2018 American Society of Neuroradiology (ASNR) Outreach Professorship in Accra, Ghana. He recounts his experience:
It was an honor to be selected for the ASNR Outreach Professorship to Ghana for 2018. I have just returned from my week-long visit to the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra, Ghana. Dr. Yaw Mensah and his residents were kind and gracious hosts throughout my experience. It was an immensely rewarding experience to visit their country, their practice, and to be a part of their training program during my short time in Ghana.
Ghana is a country undergoing rapid transformation, with a total population of 27 million, 57% of which are under 25 years of age. The radiology training program at Korle Bu Teaching Hospital is similarly young and vibrant, as it inducted it first class of residents in 2001. Under the tireless leadership of Dr. Mensah, the radiology department provides imaging services to approximately 2000 tertiary patients with a single MRI and a single CT scanner. The residents also perform a large number of ultrasounds as well and review radiographs as requested by referring physicians.
During my visit the MRI and CT machines were under repair, which yielded ample time for didactic lectures and case reviews. A typical day would start with a didactic lecture at 7:30 am, followed by alternating case conferences and didactic sessions until 1pm. We focused on a different region of the head and neck each day (Paranasal Sinuses, Neck, Temporal Bone, Orbit, and Cranial Nerves) and even added some sessions on CT protocol design, acute stroke imaging, and imaging guided biopsies in the head and neck. These sessions were well attended by radiology residents and faculty, private practice radiologists, and visiting faculty from other departments. The residents were smart, curious, attentive and were a delight to work with throughout the week.
During the visit we also discussed Dr. Mensah’s vision for his department. He is working to gain additional resources in imaging equipment to reduce the impact of equipment downtime. Additionally, he has been working to increase the subspecialization of his faculty, which he expects will be a boon to his department and to the profession of Radiology in Ghana.
My hosts were immensely helpful throughout the experience. They took me on several tours of Accra, including the Independence Arch, the James Town Lighthouse, the University of Ghana, and the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park. Afternoon lunch was a delicious Ghanaian specialty, helpfully selected by the residents. Friday is traditional dress day throughout Ghana, and the department presented me with a beautiful shirt so that I could also partake in this tradition.
I want to thank the ASNR International Outreach Committee and Dr. Osborne for creating this opportunity. This was an immensely enjoyable and gratifying experience, and I believe that this collaboration will continue to advance neuroradiology for many years to come.
Greg Avey, MDUniversity of Wisconsin Department of RadiologyMadison, Wisconsin