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Last call for registration and abstracts for Council of Biomedical Graduate Students Research Forum 2017

Registration closes at 5pm tomorrow, January 20th.  

Abstract submission deadline at 5pm, January 27th.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to present your work to your colleagues and faculty on the Health Science Campus, and to meet Dr. Andras Nagy, one of the top stem cell researchers in the world!  Make sure to deliver a signed copy of your abstract to your track representative if you are presenting.

Tentative schedule Poster Set-Up: Tuesday, March 21st Poster Presentation Preliminary Rounds: Wednesday, March 22nd, Morning, IISC Oral Presentation Preliminary Rounds: Wednesday, March 22nd, Afternoon, IISC Oral/Poster Presentations Final Round: Thursday, March 23rd, Morning, IISC Keynote Lecture, Dr. Andras Nagy: Thursday, March 23rd, Afternoon, HEB 110 Lunch will be provided to all participants on Wednesday.

Abstract submission link:

CBGS Graduate Research Forum 2016 abstract submission form for both oral and poster presentation participants. ABSTRACT SUBMISSION DEADLINE: January 27, 2017 at 5:00 p.m. Abstract limit: 250 words Please review your abstract carefully before submitting. Once your abstract is submitted, it cannot be changed. Reminder: You must submit a hard copy of your abstract signed by your advisor to your track representative by January 27th at 5:00 p.m.

 Please contact or your track representative with any questions.

Clinical Informatics Analyst Position – Blanchard Valley Health System

Blanchard Valley Health System
Clinical Informatics Analyst
January 17, 2017

This position extracts, manages, analyzes and interprets data for various stakeholders, including local employers, payers and health care providers.  The position is responsible for overall management of the Medical Home Registry database and associated reporting and analytics.  The position is also responsible for preparing analyses of health care quality, processes, outcomes and costs for presentation to medical committees, medical home providers, employers and other audiences.

Job Duties/Responsibilities

Duty 1: Oversees and operates the Patient Centered Medical Home electronic registry software application for the Patient Centered Medical Home. This includes expanding and optimizing registry functionality to support Medical Home operations, enrollment, projects and organizational structure now and as Medical Home program evolves. Ensure and monitor the integrity and accuracy of the data in the registry. Design and generate customized registry reports and alerts. Provide input to software vendor for software development to meet expanding medical home needs.

Duty 2: Produces analyses and reports from health data software system, the registry, electronic medical record data repository and other data sources.  This involves combining data sets from different sources. Prepare analyses of healthcare quality, processes, outcomes and costs for presentation to medical committees, medical home providers, employers and other audiences for Medical Home Program and other programs and projects related to quality and cost.

Duty 3: Develops and produces individual physician and group practice profiles and bonus reports on quality and utilization performance for the Medical Home program and Employer Data Project (“EDOC”).  This includes conceptualizing the analytical framework, evaluating, extracting, synthesizing and processing data and identifying appropriate reporting formats in order to transform data into actionable information. Verifies and ensures the accuracy, validity and integrity of data and of analyses.

Duty 4: Provides extensive data mining and report development support for clinical projects using  SQL Server Management Tools and electronic medical record databases. Creates SQL reports by developing and using complex algorithms. This includes data extraction, data definitions, data alignment and integration across data sets, defining metrics and designing reports, as well as complex modeling. Verifies and ensures the accuracy of data mining.

Duty 5: Manages relationships with multiple data partners (payers, software vendor, third party health claims data administrators, pharmacy and vision plan administrators, and other parties) to define and facilitate data production for existing and new projects and to maintain data security. Oversees system definition, set up and maintenance with electronic registry and other software vendors. Identifies and directly pursues resolution of problems and opportunities for improvement of the software application with the vendor.

Duty 6: Trains others in registry use and reporting in group and individual settings. Acts as resource to and consults with the physician office sites, including problem solving and report writing, responding to requests in a timely and accurate manner. Conducts site visits to physician offices to evaluate and improve use of registry, monitors data integrity, and identifies opportunities for improving medical home processes.

Duty 7: Provides operational and administrative support to the Medical Home and care navigation programs including maintaining physician payment and medical home enrollment files; care navigation patient rosters and indicators; data downloads, scrubbing and uploads; reporting to third party administrators for benefits administration for education/participation benefits; preparation of physician bonus and educational mailings, etc.

Duty 8:  Participates in the writing of analysis plans and reports for EDOC, Medical Home Program and other projects and programs. Documents analytical steps and processes used. Prepares the results of projects, programs and research for presentation and publication. Gathers and integrates a wide variety of healthcare-related information by telephone, Internet searches, and other means.


·         Master’s Degree in information management, clinical informatics, healthcare administration, economics, statistics or epidemiology preferred. Bachelor’s degree in information management, health informatics, healthcare administration, economics or related field required.

·         Excellent data management skills applied in health care or other similar data analysis projects, including experience producing data analyses for presentation.

·         Excellent critical thinking and analytical skills. Ability to analyze and integrate multiple disparate data sets and develop analytical framework for using the data to address study questions and topics in healthcare quality and cost areas.

·         Experience with healthcare registry software or database applications preferred.

·         Experience with healthcare and pharmacy claims data, diagnosis and billing codes, and experience identifying and resolving data integrity issues preferred.

·         Ability to use independent judgment and discretion about matters of significance.

·         Expert level of expertise and proficiency with spreadsheet and database management software (SQL, Microsoft Excel and Access) for extensive manipulation and analysis of data, including graphic presentation of data, and writing functional reports that support daily operations in patient case management and other areas.

·         Strong organizational skills and consistent attention to detail.

·         Exercise of judgment and discretion in matters of confidentiality, including in relation to physician performance analysis.

·         Coursework or experience in statistics preferred.

·         Strong written and oral communication skills.

·         Ability to work well independently and with others.

·         High level of initiative; tolerance for long periods of data manipulation and analysis and multiple concurrent projects.


This position requires a full range of body motion with intermittent activities including typing and use of computer for extended periods, walking, sitting, climbing stairs, and standing. The associate must have corrected vision and hearing in the normal range. The individual must have excellent verbal communication skills to perform daily tasks.

Better matches of kidney donors, recipients studied


Imagine having to sit still for four hours, three times a week, week in and week out, year after year. And you know each time you start another dialysis session, your chance of going back to normal gets chipped away a little more.

These dialysis treatments are the mildest downside of living with failed kidneys.

Personally, I feel tremendously thankful for having received my kidney transplant after only a few months and without having to endure these therapy sessions. I returned to normal, but 100,000 Americans on the kidney transplant waiting list are not as fortunate.


Dulat Bekbolsynov, a kidney transplant recipient, is a PhD candidate at the University of Toledo College of Medicine studying how to better match donors with organ recipients.

During the last 30 years, the transplant waiting list has grown relentlessly while the number of transplants has changed very little. People wait for years, and many never get one. On average, 20 patients die every day because a donor was not found for them.

Kidneys are organs that let us eat a banana without suffering a heart attack from potassium spike. The incredibly complex network of tiny blood vessels inside kidney tissue filters many different toxins from our blood. But when these vessels fail to do their job, they can never be fixed, only replaced. Kidney transplantation is the best treatment option for kidney failure.

However, finding a donor for kidney transplantation is difficult. The biggest problem is compatibility; the donated kidney must match the patient closely enough to avoid rejection after transplantation. For example, my brother could not donate to me, because his blood type was different, and my mom had health issues that made it unsafe for her to donate. This happens often and means that a nonrelative matching donor must be found, which can be much more difficult.

Our research lab participates in the Alliance for Paired Donation program hosted at UT Medical Center, which helps patients who need a kidney transplant find a good match. This program works by finding matches with other patients and willing, but incompatible donors, and starting a donation chain. This approach, used creatively, has worked wonders to make more complicated multi-way exchanges possible. In addition, we also use deceased donors to increase compatible matches.

But finding a match and undergoing transplant surgery does not end potential problems. The human body has evolved to have protection against anything foreign. This protection system, or immunity, is helpful when it comes to dealing with infections.

Your immune system detects foreign objects by inspecting specific molecular markers on the foreign object called antigens. Human Leukocyte Antigen, or HLA, is responsible for recognition and rejection of transplanted organs. Once the immune system sees the foreign HLA, it produces antibodies — molecules that will attack and kill the transplant. But the more similar the HLA between donor and recipient, the less visible it is to the immune system and thus, the lower your chances of rejection of the new kidney.

One of our main goals is to better match donors and recipients, so that transplants will last much longer without rejection. We also are working to prevent other post-transplant complications. The ultimate goal of our research is to increase successful transplants and decrease waiting lists and kidney rejections.

How do we do this? We look at antigen matching in a new and different way.

We know that the patient’s immune system detects foreign antigens by examining both physical and chemical differences between antigens of the donor and patient. Therefore, we wanted to look at both donor and patient HLA antigens in a more complete way in our lab by carefully studying both clinical histories and blood samples from different patients.

Using this approach, we can see exactly how much antibody against donor HLA was produced by the patient’s immune system after receiving a transplant. We use this knowledge to confirm that a better match is associated with less antibodies produced by the patient’s immune system against the transplant.

Our results show that a better physical and chemical match is associated with longer survival of transplanted kidneys and patients. We are continuing to investigate this new method of donor matching to increase our knowledge and improve this method for clinical use in the future.

Overall, our initial results are promising. As our research progresses, we hope to see more transplants, fewer people die on waiting list and a reduction in rejections after transplantation.

Dulat Bekbolsynov is a PhD student in the department of medical microbiology and immunology in the Biomedical Science Program at the University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences, formerly the Medical College of Ohio. Mr. Bekbolsynov is doing his research in the laboratory of Dr. Stanislaw Stepkowski. For more information, contact or go to

COGS 2017 Annual Fellowships, Scholarships and Awards – Deadline: February 17, 2017


Doctoral student Kevin Hardegree wins NASA fellowship

The James Webb Space Telescope, successor to the 26-year-old Hubble, will be the largest and most powerful ever sent into orbit when it blasts off in fall 2018.

To prepare for Webb’s decade in space in search of a planet that could support life, NASA selected a University of Toledo PhD student studying small stars and the exoplanets closely orbiting them to join the team.

UT doctoral student Kevin Hardegree-Ullman is part of a NASA team that will help select what planets the new James Webb Space Telescope will focus on when launched in 2018.

Kevin Hardegree-Ullman will contribute to choosing which planets the new space telescope will observe.

“There is going to be a lot of competition between astronomers for time on that telescope, which has an enormous gold-coated mirror and is much larger than Hubble,” Hardegree-Ullman said. “Before Webb launches, we will choose the best stretches of sky to look for another Earth-like planet. The best candidates are around low-mass stars that are less than half the size of the sun. Those are the stars that I have been focused on for years. This is an awesome opportunity.”

Because of his published work and experience collecting data about brown dwarfs using the Spitzer Space Telescope, Hardegree-Ullman won a NASA Graduate Fellowship that will pay for him to work with NASA scientists for six months.

In January, Hardegree-Ullman will head to the NASA Infrared Processing and Analysis Center for Infrared Astronomy at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena to identify a handful of locations to target in our galaxy where it’s most possible to find planets with water.

“We’ve already identified a bunch of star systems with planet candidates,” Hardegree-Ullman said. “My job will be to make sure there is a planet there using the data from the Spitzer Telescope and then figure which of these planets are the best to look at in follow-up observations with the future telescope.”

Hardegree-Ullman is the second UT PhD student in astronomy to recently win one of these competitive awards. Aditya Togi won the same NASA Graduate Fellowship in 2014.

“Kevin will get to interact with some of the best scientists in the world in an entirely new academic environment — something graduate students very rarely get to do,” said Dr. Mike Cushing, associate professor of astronomy and director of UT’s Ritter Planetarium, who is Hardegree-Ullman’s faculty advisor.

Hardegree-Ullman worked as a NASA Space Grant intern in 2011 while an undergraduate at the University of Arizona. He studied a specific molecule in interstellar clouds where stars form.

The PhD student now hunts for exoplanets by identifying dimming patterns caused when a planet blocks out a portion of a star’s light.

“It’s easier to find a smaller planet around a smaller star,” Hardegree-Ullman said. “Low-mass stars have a lower temperature, and that means a habitable planet has to orbit a lot closer to the star. It’s beneficial to an astronomer because you might only have to wait a couple weeks to watch the transit and find an Earth-size planet that could potentially contain water. You can determine size and radius monitoring the star’s light output. With a star the size of the sun, you have to wait an entire year.”

“Winning this fellowship highlights the caliber of scientist that Kevin has become during his time at UT,” Cushing said.

Stephanie McGuire Wise presented with the Ohio Counseling Association’s Susan J. Sears-Counselor of the Year Award!


The College of Graduate Studies joins the Counselor Education program and College of Health and Human Services in congratulating Ms. Stephanie McGuire Wise, a counselor and supervisor in the UT Counseling Center, who was presented with the Ohio Counseling Association’s Susan J. Sears-Counselor of the Year Award on November 3, 2016 at the All-Ohio Counselor’s Conference in Columbus, Ohio. Stephanie recently defended her counselor education dissertation and will graduate this December. Stephanie provides leadership and clinical services in the counseling center as well as serves as a supervisor for many of our masters-level counselor trainees. This award is posthumously named after Ohio’s first licensed counselor, Dr. Susan Sears, who was a full-time faculty member at Ohio State. We are sure that you are pleased to know of Stephanie’s good work.


In addition to this award, Stephanie is the past recipient of the NWOCA Counselor of the Year Award (2005) and the past president of Ohio-Association of Counselor Education and Supervision. Additionally, she received the Ohio-ACES Outstanding Supervisor award in 2013 and the Chi Sigma Iota Outstanding Practitioner Supervisor Award in 2015.

UT students studying genetic link to hypertension

Have you been diagnosed with high blood pressure? If so, you represent one out of every three adults in the United States who has high blood pressure, also called hypertension.

Only about half of those with hypertension have their blood pressure under control because many don’t know that they have it, as there are no symptoms, especially at an early stage. Because of this, high blood pressure is known as the silent killer, contributing to more than 200,000 deaths every year.


Xi Cheng is a PhD student at the University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences.

Hypertension is a complex disorder involving both your surrounding environment and your inherited genetic makeup. Hypertension can be improved by controlling known risk factors in your environment, such as eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly. But making these good lifestyle choices alone is usually not enough to control your blood pressure. You also may need to take medicines, which must be taken the rest of your life because they only help lower blood pressure, but cannot cure high blood pressure.

For most with hypertension, genetically inherited factors are an important contribution to this condition. Therefore, if your parents or your grandparents have high blood pressure, you should monitor your blood pressure as you get older, in addition to living a healthy lifestyle.

Despite our knowledge of the important role of genetics in hypertension, the precise genetic factors that control blood pressure still remain largely unknown because the genetic control of blood pressure is very complex involving many factors distributed throughout your entire genome within each cell of your body. Each genetic factor may function individually or interactively with other factors to control your blood pressure.

To better understand this issue, our lab at the University of Toledo has been working to identify the genetic factors of hypertension by using hypertensive rat models, developed to study human hypertension. We carefully track the genetic inheritance of hypertension to identify small genetic factors or pieces in the genome that are transmitted from generation to generation.

Once the genetic factors are identified, we replace each piece in its specific genomic location within the hypertensive rat with that same genetic piece from a rat with normal blood pressure. These new models are called congenic rat strains. The only difference between the new congenic strain and the original hypertensive model is the single genetic piece that has been replaced by the normal genetic piece. If the blood pressure is changed in this congenic strain, then we know this small genetic piece contributes to the control of blood pressure.

UT researchers have discovered many different genetic pieces of this complex puzzle important for controlling blood pressure using this step-by-step approach.

Each genetic piece of your entire genome contains a specific DNA sequence using variations of only four different DNA bases: G, A, T, and C. Your genome contains about three billion of these four bases. Similar to a song played by different artists in which some of the notes are changed slightly from one artist to another, sometimes the specific DNA sequence of the four bases within a genetic piece from one person will be changed slightly at that same location in another person. The entire song may be a genome long, with each small piece of it, or sequence, exactly the same or containing very small differences.

Sometimes, it is that slight change of the DNA sequence in a specific position that can cause diseases. For example, a healthy individual may have “A” in a specific genetic position, but a hypertensive patient may have “C” there or perhaps “A” is missing at that same location. In our lab, we look carefully for variations in DNA sequence within each genetic piece.

By using this approach, my recent study identified a 19-base sequence of DNA in a rat model with lower blood pressure is missing in another model with higher blood pressure. We use a new research technology called CRISPR/Cas9 to investigate whether these 19 bases are important for the differences in blood pressure between the two rat models.

With this new method of genome surgery, we deleted the 19 bases in our rat model with lower blood pressure and found that blood pressure was now higher. The next important step was to see whether the rat model with higher blood pressure could be treated successfully for hypertension by inserting back these 19 bases into the same location as the model with lower blood pressure. So we again used the CRISPR/Cas9 technology to perform genome surgery to precisely insert the 19 bases in the correct genetic location within the entire genome. We discovered that the blood pressure of this new model was decreased successfully.

This research is important because it revealed that genome surgery can be used to cure a genetically inherited cause of hypertension. This is not the traditional approach of taking medication for your entire life to control your blood pressure. Rather, our approach permanently corrected an inherited cause of hypertension in this model system.

Additional research will determine the possibility of this approach to cure hypertension in humans as we work to identify all the genetic pieces within the human genome that contribute to hypertension.

Xi Cheng is a PhD student in the Molecular Medicine track in the department of physiology and pharmacology at the University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences. He is doing his research in the laboratory of Dr. Bina Joe. For more information, contact or go to

Congratulations to Hossein Lavvafi, Medical Physics MSBS Student for winning a National Travel Award from AAPM

Hossein Lavvafi, Ph.D. has received the 2016 Expanding Horizons Travel Grant award offered by the American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM). This is a very competitive award where graduating students and residents from around the country are eligible to apply for, and only the top proposals demonstrating a strong commitment to expanding the scope of research in medical physics are selected for the award.

For more details, Click Here

Research Symposium to Spotlight Work by Biological Science Students – October 29, 2016

The fourth annual research symposium for biological science graduate students will be held Saturday, Oct. 29, from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. in Student Union Rooms 2582 and 2584.

There will be approximately 25 poster presentations on several topics, including cancer, immunology, fertility and neurology.

The free, public symposium is funded by the Graduate Student Association, the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, and the Department of Biological Sciences.

“This event will be a great opportunity to learn what kind of biology research is being performed in Toledo,” Kyoung Jo, a PhD candidate and teaching assistant in the Department of Biological Sciences, said.

For more information on the event, email

Book on Global Brewing Industry dedicated to Late UT Grad Student

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Michael Moore enjoyed sharing a pint of cold beer, but had no thirst for the standard domestic titans.

The University of Toledo PhD student researcher was a craft beer aficionado who found a way to combine his passion with his academic work.



“He loved geography and craft beer,” Andy Moore, Mike’s brother, said.

Moore’s research on the rapidly growing artisanal industry recently was published more than a year after he died at the age of 34 from an aortic aneurysm while at a local brewpub.

“The large vessel that comes out of the heart ruptured unexpectedly,” Andy said. “Doctors told our family it’s very rare for someone that young. The fact that it happened where it did is so unusual because we loved to hang out there and watch a Tigers game.”

“Mike enjoyed debating varieties of hops and India pale ales as much and as easily as he dove into complex statistical analyses of the industry,” said Dr. Neil Reid, professor of geography and planning and director of the Jack Ford Urban Affairs Center, who is known as UT’s “Beer Professor.” “It’s devastating and sad, yet if he had to choose how to go, that’s what he would’ve chosen.”

Dr. Neil Reid and Andy Moore, Mike Moore’s brother, got together recently at the Black Cloister Brewing Co. in Toledo.

Dr. Neil Reid and Andy Moore, Mike Moore’s brother, got together recently at the Black Cloister Brewing Co. in Toledo.

The editors of a new volume published on the craft brewing industry called Brewing, Beer and Pubs: A Global Perspective dedicated their book to Moore, who co-authored a chapter with Reid and Ralph McLaughlin, a colleague from California. The chapter is titled “The Locational Determinants of Micro-Breweries and Brewpubs in the United States.”

The editors wrote in the dedication at the beginning of the book, “It is very fitting that Mike passed away in a local brewery.”

Moore collapsed and fell to the floor April 8, 2015, as he was sitting on a bar stool enjoying a beer.

The Black Cloister Brewing Co. last year created a beer in Mike Moore’s honor: Michael’s Memory.

The Black Cloister Brewing Co. last year created a beer in Mike Moore’s honor: Michael’s Memory.

“I was sitting next to him when it happened. We were drinking Summer Stinger, an American pale wheat ale that was just bottled the day before,” Reid said. “We were talking with a visiting scholar from Turkey about our upcoming trip to a geographers’ conference and attending the Beeronomics Conference in Seattle in the fall when I heard a thud. I thought a bar stool had fallen over. I looked down and Mike was on his back on the floor.”

“It’s still hard for our family and Mike’s longtime girlfriend, Jeanette, to process, but seeing Mike’s work being published and honored helps us find closure,” Andy said.

Moore was a doctoral student studying spatially integrated social sciences in UT’s Department of Geography and Planning.

His dissertation — left incomplete — was an examination of the spatial dynamics of the American craft beer industry.

“The craft brewing industry is growing so fast and changing the whole brewing landscape,” Reid said. “Mike analyzed where it’s growing and why. He was well on his way to being a really successful academic.”

UT posthumously awarded Moore a PhD based on his completed course work and publications while a student.

The Department of Geography and Planning created a scholarship in his memory for UT students pursuing the geography and planning field.

“I miss our Monday morning meetings and the occasional exchanging of beer-related gifts,” Reid said. “I cherish the memories — memories, by and large, created around a common love and appreciation of craft beer, the people who brew it, and the people who drink it.”

Black Cloister Brewery in downtown Toledo created a special brew last year to commemorate Moore’s life and called it Michael’s Memory. The owners contributed some of the profits to the scholarship fund.

“The outpouring of support is amazing and unexpected,” Andy said. “It’s excellent to see the fruit of all the research he had done. The recognition of Mike’s work makes it just a little bit easier to deal with his loss.”

Moore’s family is working to organize a golf outing next year to raise money for the scholarship fund.

Gifts can be made at to the Geography and Planning Progress Fund.