MSSRP available projects – 2018

New projects will be posted in January for 2018 MSSRP.


Faculty:  Xudong Joshua Li, MD, PhD
Department:  Orthopaedic Surgery
Contact:  924-5937/email:  xl2n@hscmail.mcc.virginia.edu
Project title:  Research on Various Treatment for Intervertebral Disc Degeneration
Project description:  We are doing research on pathogenesis and various treatment for intervertebral disc degeneration, including gene therapy, stem cells tissue engineering, nanoparticle treatment and alternative herbal medicine treatment.  Please visit www.li-spine.com


Faculty:  Nishaki Mehta, MD  (3 students requested)
Department: Cardiovascular Medicine
Contact:   297-5971/email:  nishaki@virginia.edu
Project title:  3 separate projects listed-All three projects represent an effort in designing new medical equipment with a medical-engineering collaborative effort
Project description:
1. Hematoma prevention device: I have worked closely with the school of engineering to develop a hematoma prevention device after implantation of cardiac devices. We would like to conduct a clinical study to determine its efficacy. There is also an allied collaboration with plastic surgery to determine wound healing and cosmetic improvement in scar following this procedure.

2. Non weight bearing lead garment testing: I have previously developed a mobile non weight bearing garment with MIT and would like to assess clinical impact on fatigue and muscle stress for physicians utilizing lead garment during fluoroscopic procedures.

3. Safe vascular access: I have developed a controlled scalpel incision technique which needs to be tested on models and animal tissues to determine device efficacy.


 

Faculty:  Jennifer Charlton, MD, MSc
Department:  Pediatrics
Contact: 924-2096/email:  jrc6n@virginia.edu
Project title:  Effect of Preterm Birth on Renal Development
Project description:  Our laboratory is focused on the effect of preterm birth on renal development and how that impacts long term renal health.  Along with close collaborators have developed non-invasive methods for examining glomerular morphology by MRI techniques.  We have several available projects for an eager and interested student.  The first is looking at the histologic and MRI changes in a mouse model lacking a protein that is developmentally regulated in development.  The second project involves examining histologic and MRI changes detectable in models of acute kidney injury.


Faculty:  Keith Bachmann, MD
Department:  Orthopedic Surgery
Contact:  982-4215/email:  krb3b@virginia.edu
Project title:  Post-Operative Pain Control
Project description:  The main project for the summer will focus on reviewing the utility of lidocaine as an infusion for post-operative pain control in adolescent scoliosis patients. The goal is to then build a prospective study from this information which may continue past the summer but retrospective review can be completed during the summer months. There are also side projects depending on time and desire including the use of PROMIS measures in the pediatric population.


Faculty:  Patrick Cottler, Ph.D.
Department:  Plastic Surgery
Contact:  924-8120/email:  psc5d@virginia.edu
Project title:  Compare the Rate and Cellular Differences of Incorporation of a Commercially Available Surgical Mesh
Project description:  Acellular dermal matrix (ADM) products undergo a process of incorporation defined as vascular ingrowth and a resulting increase in ADM oxygen saturation after implantation for reconstructive surgery. The rate of incorporation varies as a product of different products’ species, decellularization procedures and sterilization processes. The clinical goal of ADM incorporation is for this process to be complete by the end of 3 weeks so that drains can be removed and patients can progress from their surgery. Incorporation has been observed to take longer in radiated patients, complicating recovery and surgical success.

Therefore, we will use a novel animal model of acellular dermal matrix (ADM)-assisted breast reconstruction developed in our lab that allows for real-time visualization of ADM incorporation over a 3 week interval. The study objective is to compare the rate and cellular differences of incorporation of a commercially available surgical mesh over 3 weeks after implantation. In addition, the surgical mesh will be implanted into mice that have been pre-operatively radiated to determine the impact of the radiated environment on the level and rate of incorporation.

The model uses advanced serial imaging techniques to demonstrate incorporation of a decellularized biologic scaffold into the host defined as the time course and distribution of ingrowing cells and oxygen saturation of the scaffold. This novel model provides a quantitative analysis of the metabolism and oxygen content of acellular matrices with confirmatory histologic, immunohistologic and PCR analyses.

As the ADM constructs integrate into the host tissue, it becomes invested with a metabolically active vascular network. Therefore, incorporation levels will be defined by our primary endpoints, the levels of oxygen saturation and vascular ingrowth within the ADM.


 

Faculty:  Anindya Dutta MD, PhD
Department:  Bioch Mol Genetics
Contact:  924-1227/email:  ad8q@virginia.edu
Project title:  Noncoding RNAs
Project description:  Long noncoding RNAs have burst into biology with the discovery that the human genome encodes up to 60,000 of these expressed entities that do not code for proteins. We have identified scores of long noncoding RNAs that are important for (a) skeletal muscle differentiation or (b) progression for gliomas, glioblastomas and other cancers.  The project could either focus on laboratory research determining how a specific lncRNA affects differentiation or an oncogenic phenotype in a cancer cell line  or on computational research determining how the expression of or genetic sequence variation of a disease causing lncRNA affects the expression of other genes in cancers.  Either project has “legs”.  LncRNAs are rapidly emerging to be as important as proteins for determining normal physiology or disease pathology.  However, unlike proteins, very little is known about how lncRNAs work.  In the long run studying these lncRNAs are expected to yield novel diagnostic or prognostic reagents and novel drug targets, besides illuminating an unsuspected vast area of biology.  This is a perfect project for highly motivated medical student interested in the long run in an academic career.


Faculty:  Mark Okusa, MD
Department:  Medicine/Nephrology
Contact:  924-2187/email:  mdo7y@virginia.edu
Project title:  Acute Kidney Injury
Project description:
Project 1: Pannexin 1 and Acute Kidney Injury. Panx 1, a channel able to release large amounts of ATP to the extracellular space, regulates vital processes including but not limited to ion transport, blood pressure and immune cell activation through purinergic P2Y and P2X receptor activity. Pharmacological inhibition of Panx 1 or global, endothelial and epithelial tissue specific deletion of Panx1 protects mice from ischemia-reperfusion injury. In cultured cells Panx1 deletion or overexpression leads to reduced or increased injury, respectively. Therefore, blocking Panx1 is a promising therapeutic strategy, and research centered around ubiquitously expressed pannexin 1 may contribute not only to the field of nephrology, but also to development of a therapeutic strategy against other acute organ dysfunctions.

Project 2: Ultrasound for Non-Invasive Prevention of Acute Kidney Injury. This project focuses on a novel approach to modulate inflammation through neural control of inflammation and acute kidney injury; a simple ultrasound (US)-based protocol that reduces tissue and systemic inflammation and prevents ischemia-reperfusion injury (IRI) in mice. This effect was a dependent affect which appears to be through the activation of the splenic cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway (CAP). Our studies will define US characteristics to demonstrate a biomechanical effect to protect kidneys from IRI, define mechanistically the contribution of the CAP to protection from AKI through a unique optogenetic approach to specifically stimulate or silence splenic innervation, and establish the efficacy of US in relevant models of AKI including IRI and septic AKI in mice and AKI in pigs to enable transition to clinical trials in humans. Concepts and therapeutic principles could be pertinent to sepsis, colitis, myocardial ischemia, and arthritis

Project 3: Sphingolipids in Acute Kidney Injury and Disease Progression. Regardless of the cause of injury there is a stereotypical response leading to interstitial fibrosis. A key feature is the activation of extracellular matrix-producing myofibroblasts. Sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P), a pleiotropic lysophospholipid that is involved in diverse functions such as cell growth and survival, lymphocyte trafficking, and vascular stability, has profound effects on the immune system and kidney injury. S1P is the product of sphingosine phosphorylation by two sphingosine kinase isoforms (SphK1 and SphK2) that have different subcellular localizations. We observed that Sphk2-/- mice had markedly attenuated renal fibrosis compared to Sphk1-/- or WT mice and marked tissue elevation of interferon gamma. These findings led us to focus our effort on the specific role of SphK2 and determine whether intranuclear SphK2 regulates tissue fibrosis.

Project 4: Leukocyte trafficking in acute kidney injury Acute kidney injury may progress to chronic kidney disease. Progressive fibrosis, a hallmark of chronic kidney disease, is characterized by deposition of extracellular matrix by myofibroblasts. Mechanisms underlying these maladaptive repair processes are not well understood. We provide evidence that deletion of CD73, an enzyme that converts AMP to adenosine on the extracellular surface, in perivascular cells (pericytes and fibroblasts), the cellular precursors to myofibroblasts, may have therapeutic value as a target after injury to prevent progressive fibrosis.


Faculty:  Charles Landen, MD
Department:  OBGYN/Cancer Center
Contact:  243-6131/email:  clanden@virginia.edu
Project title:  Ovarian Cancer
Project description:  Laboratory research examining novel drugs this might increase sensitivity to conventional chemotherapies in ovarian cancer.


Faculty:  James A. Browne, MD
Department:  Orthopaedic Surgery
Contact:   243-0278/email:  jamesbrowne@virginia.edu
Project title:  Outcomes Following Total Joint Replacement
Project description:  This research position includes two projects.  First, the student will work closely with our clinical research coordinator in helping to administer the ongoing Pulmonary Embolism Prevention after Hip and Knee Replacement (PEPPER) trial at UVA.  Duties will include visits with patients and data collection.  Second, the student will conduct an independent research project involving patient outcomes following total joint replacement.  Duties will include data analysis and manuscript preparation.


 

Faculty:  Araceli E. Santiago PhD
Department:  Pediatric/CHCR
Contact:  243-1900/email:  aes8j@virginia.edu
Project title:  AraC-ANR-H-NS, in the setting of infection
Project description:  Pathogenic bacteria utilize elegant regulatory mechanisms to assure that they express the appropriate virulence factors at the appropriate time and place in the course of infection.  However, little is known about how such regulatory systems are assembled, or how they behave at the system level. We have discovered a novel regulatory motif that is present in a large number of bacteria that cause diarrhea in humans.  In this project, we will characterize the behavior of this system, called AraC-ANR-H-NS, in the setting of infection.  Our work will illuminate fundamental features of bacterial regulation and allow investigators to develop anti-infective strategies that spare the normal healthy bacterial populations.


Faculty:  Bijoy Kundu, PhD
Department:  Radiology and BME
Contact:  924-0284/email:  bkk5a@virginia.edu
Project title:  Myocardial Metabolic Remodeling in Pressure Overload Left Ventricular Hypertrophy
Description: Sustained pressure overload results in profound metabolic, functional, and structural changes in the heart. The temporal and causal relationship between metabolic changes, impaired cardiac function, and the development of left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH) is poorly understood. We are studying this using in vivo PET and MR imaging and ex vivo metabolic and molecular during the early development of hypertension and progression to LVH and failure in hearts of a clinically relevant animal model, the spontaneously hypertensive rat (SHR). The underlying hypothesis is that metabolic remodeling precedes, triggers and sustains functional and structural remodeling in hypertension induced LVH. We will also test whether intervention with a metabolic therapy can prevent impairments in the contractile function and cardiac structure of the SHR heart by serial FDG PET and MR imaging in vivo and ex vivo molecular and metabolic analysis. The student will learn in vivo imaging and analysis methods and ex vivo metabolic and molecular analysis techniques in the lab.


Faculty:  Mark Russell, M.D.
Department:  Dermatology
Contact:  924-5599/email:  mr2h@virginia.edu
Project title:  Creation of a digital photographic database of clinical and histologic dermatology teaching slides.
Project description:  Creation of a digital photographic database of clinical and histologic dermatology teaching slides.  This will be used for the education of medical students, residents, fellows, and attending’s in the department of Dermatology, the medical school, and the medical center.  The student will be involved in the process of scanning, indexing, and validating the photographic contents in conjunction with an archivist and faculty member.  The student will be part of the team that creates, evaluates, and refines the process.


Faculty:  Coleen McNamara MD  (2 students requested)
Department:  Medicine/Cardiology
Contact:   243-5854/email:  cam8c@virginia.edu
Project title:  Atherosclerosis
Project description:
Atherosclerosis is a chronic inflammatory disease and B1 cells are the important B cell subtype that attenuates disease by secreting IgM antibodies. B1 cells are predominantly located in body cavities and these cells migrate into circulation through omental fat (OMF). OMF is visceral adipose tissue and harbors different types of immune cells such as B cells, T cells, and macrophages. In OMF, >50%  of the B cells are B1 subtype and they consecutively secrete atheroprotective IgM. However, the role OMF in B1 survival and atherosclerosis is unknown. In this current project, we have performed surgeries (omentectomy or SHAM) and adoptive B1 cell transfer experiment in atherogenic mouse models to understand the role of OMF in B1 survival, migration into antibody secreting tissues and disease modulation. In this project, student will learn and perform ELISA experiments to quantify IgM and other immunoglobulins in plasma samples. In addition, the student can learn other immunology techniques (ELISPOT, IHC, FACS staining etc.).


Faculty:  F. Winston Gwathmey, MD
Department:  Orthopaedic Surgery
Contact:  243-0245/email:  fwg7d@virginia.edu
Project title:   Femoral Acetabular Impingement
Project description:  Novel imaging techniques for femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) of the hip.  Evaluate diagnostic algorithm in athletes with FAI and refine imaging protocols for surgical templating and patient education.  Identify applications for utilization of 3 dimensional printing of hip models.


Faculty:  Susan Pollart, MD, MS
Department:  FamMed/Faculty Development
Contact:  982-4335/email:  SPS2S@hscmail.mcc.virginia.edu
Project title:  A Pilot Study of Junior Faculty Leadership
Project description:  The complex and evolving environment of academic medicine poses tremendous leadership challenges for faculty. Junior faculty, in particular, encounter unique challenges as new and emerging leaders. This pilot project will explore junior faculty perceptions of and experience with leadership. Research will involve reviewing leadership literature, conducting semi-structured interviews, and engaging in qualitative data analysis. The results of this preliminary project will inform the feasibility and design of a formal study of junior faculty leadership.


Faculty:  John M. Olsson, MD
Department:  Pediatrics
Contact:   297-6257/email:  jo4da@virginia.edu
Project title:  Practice Patterns of Pediatricians Making the Diagnosis of Strep Pharyngitis
Project description:  Sore throat is third most common complaint in outpatient pediatrics practice. Infectious pharyngitis is most often viral, however, Group A beta-hemolytic strep (GABHS) is found in 20-30% of children with sore throat and 10-15% of adults with sore throat. The classical presentation of GABHS includes: sudden onset sore throat, fever with a temperature greater than 38⁰, tender cervical lymphadenopathy, and often headache and/or abdominal pain. There are generally no cold symptoms, conjunctivitis, or diarrhea.

Making an accurate diagnosis is important because antibiotic treatment is important in reducing suppurative and nonsuppurative complications, as well as reducing the length of discomfort and contagion. Making a diagnosis is difficult because there are no specific history or physical examination findings for GABHS and testing can be lack sensitivity, specificity, and be costly.

There are a number of ways pediatricians can address management of patients with sore throat. These range from treating without testing, treating based on results of testing on all patients, or using clinical scoring systems to focus testing/treatment based on risk. There is no evidence, in spite of published guidelines, on how pediatricians manage children with sore throat.

The purpose of this study is to survey pediatricians in practice in the State of Virginia to determine how they diagnose and treat children presenting with sore throat. A medical student participating in this study will help pilot the survey tool, help identify possible participants, and then distribute the tool to participants. The student will have the opportunity to analyze data and write up a summary in a form suitable for presentation and/or publication.


Faculty:  Abigail Kumral, MD & Amy Brown, MD
Department: Pediatrics
Contact:  980-6555/email:  apv4y@virginia.edu
Project title:  Oral Health in the Southwood Community – a summer community/research project
Project description:  Poor oral health has many detrimental effects on the health of a child. In addition to cosmetic issues, the pain of tooth decay can impact a child’s school performance. Oral abscesses can also develop requiring additional medications, treatments, and occasionally dental surgery. African American and Hispanic children are at increased risk for tooth decay, and yet even among children with insurance, African American and Hispanic children are less likely to visit the dentist than white children and are more likely to have longer intervals between visits1. Despite these facts, there is compelling evidence that patients are much more likely to see a dentist after external prompts such as reminders at the pediatrician’s office.

Southwood is a Mobile Home Park with approximately 1500 residents, located just south of the city line in Albemarle County. The community is 61% Hispanic and children are disproportionately represented (39% of residents are between the ages of 0 and 19 years, as compared to 26% of the county as a whole 3). Children in this community experience many barriers to health care including poverty, lack of medical knowledge, lack of transportation, and other social stressors.

In 2015 we performed a community-wide needs assessment survey in two largely underserved populations in Charlottesville to determine community member’s perceived child health needs. Results of that study revealed that dental issues was among the top ten health concerns cited by residents of the Southwood community and the 3rd most common reported medical condition for children. The study also revealed that the majority (over 63%) of children in this neighborhood receive their preventive care at our academic pediatric clinic, suggesting an additional site of intervention.

We are proposing a multidisciplinary project around the theme of oral health in Southwood. The student will be involved in organizing educational sessions around oral health for the community, performing updated community needs assessment surveys with the Southwood community health workers (“Promotores”) in conjunction with current, on-going outreach activities, organizing a mobile dentistry clinic/oral health fair in collaboration with the Southwood Boys and Girls Club, and working to better integrate oral health education into our preventive care visits in the Birdsong General Pediatric Clinic. Spanish language skills (at least intermediate) are important for this project. This student should have an interest in partnering with the local community and dedication to promoting the health of children through community-based outreach. This student will be expected to present their project in either a poster or platform presentation.

The overarching goal of this project is to improve children’s access to dental health care, empower families within the largely under-served neighborhood of Southwood, and reduce child health disparities by creating well-designed educational programs and community health interventions that target perceived needs.


Faculty:  Wynn Legon, PhD (2 students requested)
Department:  Neurosurgery
Contact:   924-1154/email:  wlegon@virginia.edu
Project title:  Ultrasound use for non-invasive neuromodulation
Project description:  We study the use of ultrasound for non-invasive neuromodulation. We primarily work with large animal and human models though collaborative work with the department of chemistry also involves small animal work. The work in the lab employs several techniques including transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), electroencephalography (EEG), electromyography (EMG), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), stereotaxic neuronavigation, cyclic voltometry (collaboration), computational acoustic modelling and empirical acoustic testing. Summer projects will mainly consist of involvement with small animal collections (collaboration with chemistry), large animal ultrasonic brain mapping and safety testing, acoustic computational modelling assessing the use of UTE MR scans as a replacement for CT scans (in collaboration with radiology) and the potential to do ultrasound investigations on healthy human populations. Summer placements will have access to all study areas though a single area of dedicated research is also possible depending upon interest and need.


Faculty:  Jeffrey Young, MD, MBA
Department:  Surgery/Trauma
Contact:   982-3549/email:  jsy2b@virginia.edu
Project title:  Outcomes of trauma patients
Project description:  We are using a tool we developed known as the Relative Mortality Metric to examine outcomes of trauma patients. The tool allows us to examine and compare populations of trauma patients in many different forms. We also able to perform outcome analyses of trauma patients using other statistical tools. In addition, we will help the students perform outcome, case control, or retrospective studies on any trauma or critical care question they are interested in.


Faculty:  Christopher Kramer
Department:  Radiology/Cardiology
Contact:  243-0736/email:  ckramer@virginia.edu
Project title:  Comprehensive magnetic resonance in peripheral arterial disease
Project description:  Comprehensive magnetic resonance in peripheral arterial disease – Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is characterized by lower limb arterial obstruction due to atherosclerosis. Over the past 15 years, our multi-disciplinary team of investigators funded by HL-075792 has developed several novel magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) endpoints for clinical trials for PAD patients with intermittent claudication (IC). Creatine chemical exchange saturation transfer (CrCEST) is a novel non-spectroscopic imaging method that allows measurement of creatine kinetics in a spatially localized manner on a standard 3T scanner that could increase the applicability of measuring energetics and allow spatial matching to muscle perfusion. We hypothesize that CrCEST kinetics will distinguish PAD and normals in a highly reproducible manner and will correlate with phosphocreatine kinetics as measured by 31P MR spectroscopy. Thus, Specific Aim 1 is to demonstrate that CrCEST kinetics distinguishes PAD patients from matched normal subjects and reproducibly measures calf muscle energetics with exercise.


Faculty:  Joel W. Hockensmith/Ph.D.
Department:  Bioc. & Mol. Gen.
Contact:  924-5673/email:  jwh6f@virginia.edu
Project title:  Identification of Pharmacological Interventions
Project description:  Identification of Pharmacological Interventions for ATP-dependent Chromatin Remodeling DNA-dependent enzymes hydrolyzing ATP play critical roles in all DNA metabolic processes (e.g. replication, recombination, transcription, etc.) . Consequently, selective control of one subtype of these enzymes could play an important role in controlling processes that run rampant in cell growth and therein provide mechanisms for control of diseases such as cancer. One subfamily of the DNA-dependent ATPases is the ATP-dependent chromatin remodeling proteins belonging to the SWI/SNF family. Our laboratory has developed novel, naturally-occurring inhibitors of this family of proteins which has been used to control nucleosome remodeling, transcription and a variety of other processes. An example of the utility of these inhibitors is demonstrated in triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) wherein multiple drug resistant (MDR) pumps are upregulated resulting in cellular resistance to traditional chemotherapy but our inhibitors alter chromatin remodeling therein decreasing transcription of MDR mRNA and reducing production of MDR proteins. The result in cell culture is that all tested TNBC cell lines become sensitive to standard chemotherapy (e.g. 5-fluorouracil, cisplatin, paclitaxel, etc.). The project entails final purification and identification of the precise chemical structure of the inhibitors using column chromatography and specifically HPLC.


Faculty:  Golam Mohi, PhD
Department:  Biochem Mol Genetics
Contact:  924-5657/email:  gm7sj@virginia.edu
Project title:  Identify new therapeutic targets and develop novel therapeutic strategies for treatment of MPNs/leukemia.
Project description:  My laboratory focuses on understanding the molecular and epigenetic mechanisms involved in the regulation of normal hematopoiesis (blood cell development) and hematologic malignancies (leukemia). JAK2, a member of the Janus family of non-receptor protein tyrosine kinases, is activated in response to a variety of cytokines. A somatic JAK2V617F mutation has been found in a majority of patients with myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs). One of the major interests in our lab is to study the role of the JAK/STAT signaling in the pathogenesis of MPNs. We are also investigating the interaction of epigenetic modulators with the JAK2 mutation in MPNs using state-of-the-art techniques and genetically engineered animal models. The ultimate goal of our research is to identify new therapeutic targets and develop novel therapeutic strategies for treatment of MPNs/leukemia.


Faculty:  B. Cameron Webb, MD, JD (3 students requested)
Department:  Public Health Sciences
Contact:  924-1938/email: cwebb@virginia.edu
Project title: 3 projects listed
Project description:

PROJECT 1 | The State of Medicaid: State-by-state Analysis
A state-by-state analysis of quality and efficiency in Medicaid programs across the country. Developing models to assess programs with regard to three domains: access, value (as determined through measures of quality and cost), and sustainability. Further analyzing performance of programs when categorized as innovation waiver (1115 or 1332), expansion or non-expansion (under the ACA) states.

PROJECT 2 | Social Determinants of Health Care Spending
Zip code level analysis of various social determinants of health and their correlation to health care utilization and expenditures. Identifying which determinants consistently exert the greatest impact on increasing health care spending and, as such, are best situated for targeted intervention as a means of improving health outcomes and reducing health expenditures in the age of value-based payment.

PROJECT 3 | Paying a Premium: Drivers of the cost of insurance in the Individual Marketplace
A nationwide analysis of changes in insurance premiums in the Obamacare era. Will review premium cost data from Open Enrollment 1 (OE 1) through OE 5 (i.e., 2014 – 2018). Comparing silver plans, will look across the 509 market rating areas and compare changes in premium costs over the years to factors including (a) risk pool size, (b) network participation (e.g., +/- academic medical centers & DRG charges), (c) number of insurers in the region, (d) case mix indices within the region, (e) measures of illness burden within the region, and (f) uninsured percentages (particularly among young adults). Hope to extrapolate the cost of market uncertainty surrounding changes in health policy (e.g., changes to CSR, individual mandate, etc) in 2018.


Faculty:  Sean R. Moore, MD, MS
Department:  Pediatric Gastroenterology
Contact:  924-7749/email:  SRM5U@hscmail.mcc.virginia.edu
Project title:  Investigate the relationship between the microbiota and the function of the gastrointestinal tract
Project description:  Circadian rhythms are biological oscillators which regulate many biological processes from immune function to host metabolism. Recent work in the field has demonstrated that host circadian rhythms can be controlled by both the composition and timing of food intake, as well as by the intestinal microbiota. The student will investigate the relationship between the microbiota and the function of the gastrointestinal tract by focusing on how microbiota-produced metabolites influence maturation and the circadian rhythm of the gastrointestinal tract. During the program the student will work with murine intestinal stem cells to create “enteroids” or “mini-guts”, a 3-dimensional structure composed of all intestinal cell types present in the epithelium. Students will then use a variety of laboratory techniques to assess the maturation and rhythmicity of these enteroids with the possibility of further studying how these enteroids respond to pathogen infection and potentially advancing to utilizing human organoids, derived from patient biopsies. The student will also be assisting with manuscript preparation and figure development in preparation for a paper submission. Based on the amount of work accomplished, the student could acquire authorship on the paper from their summer work.


Faculty:  Kim Dowdell, MD
Department:  Medicine
Contact:   924-2472/email:  KJD3M@hscmail.mcc.virginia.edu
Project title:  eConsults: PCP Consult Question Driven Education and Effects of Utilization Rates
Project description:  eConsults creates standard work for PCP to sub-specialist consults. The model facilitates an asynchronous exchange of information, ideas, and input via the EHR. eConsults is housed in the Karen S. Rheuban Center for Telehealth.

UVA was among the nation’s first health systems to implement this patient centered model, with numerous academic medical centers subsequently adopting the service. For patients, pairing reduced costs through unnecessary referrals with increased access to subspecialty care leads to higher patient satisfaction rates. This program is designed to enhance physician communication and coordination of care via technological innovations. Students will have potential opportunities to work with senior faculty from both primary care and a variety of subspecialties to assess the utilization and outcomes of the program. Utilization of the program involves collaboration and support from faculty and staff in Telemedicine, Clinical Informatics, and Data and Analytics. Work is underway to include new specialties and an expansion of the service for UVA Pediatrics.

Research will examine how eConsults both creates and impacts educational opportunities for PCPs based upon review of actual clinical questions submitted. The pursued outcomes would be gaining knowledge of recurring clinical themes throughout the examined consult exchanges and what actions could be developed to provide PCP education that addresses these recurrences.

Tangentially, research would also examine referral patterns, considering how the use of eConsults affects the rate of standard referrals. Research would also consider utilization differences amongst at UVA regional clinics versus academic clinics.


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