March 8, 2018


Upcoming Events

Future Happenings

Mar. 7


Grand Rounds, Anthony Suffredini, MD

May 2


Grand Rounds, Ruchira Jha, MD

Mar. 14


Bimonthly AKI meeting

May 16


Grand Rounds, Holt Murray, MD

Mar. 21


Grand Rounds, Chani Traube, MD

May 31-Jun. 1


Safar Symposium

Apr. 4


Grand Rounds, Carolyn Calfee, MD, MAS

Jun. 2


Fellows graduation

Apr. 17-18


Ethics and Decision Making Lecture &
Grand Rounds, Daniel Brudney, PhD




Apr. 24-25


Mitchell P. Fink Scholar Day &
Grand Rounds, Craig Coopersmith, MD





Think Sepsis, Save Lives

CCM experts were at the forefront of the "Think Sepsis, Save Lives" half-day symposium that attracted an in-person and online audience of more than 400 on February 2. The keynote address was delivered by Ciaran Staunton, who focused on the need to educate the public about the signs and symptoms of sepsis. He and his wife established the Rory Staunton Foundation for Sepsis Prevention after their 12-year-old son died from septic shock. Among the 10 speakers, Derek Angus, MD, gave an overview of sepsis; Chris Seymour, MD, spoke about the timeliness of treatment and mandated emergency care; and Joe Carcillo, MD, focused on pediatric recognition and alerts. The event was part of The 2018 Dr. Loren Roth Quality and Patient Safety Speaker Series. For questions about CME credit, contact Dawn Ekas-Beam.


News from the 47th SCCM Congress

The Society of Critical Care Medicine Annual Congress was held last month in San Antonio, Texas, and numerous faculty and fellows were featured:

  • Marie Baldisseri, MD, Co-director of the Neurovascular ICU, received a Distinguished Service Award for exceptional leadership contributions furthering the mission and vision of SCCM. Marie is also a member of the Board of Regents of the American College of Critical Care Medicine
  • Jessica Wallisch, MD, T32 post-doctoral scholar in the Safar Center, received the In-Training Award
  • Lil Emlet, MD, Program Director for the EM fellowship, received a Presidential Citation Award for extraordinary contributions of time, energy and resources to SCCM
  • Star Research Awards were presented to:
    • Ragi Murughan, MD, et al
    • Ruchi Jha, MD; Jonathan Elmer, MD; Lori Shutter, MD; Jessica Wallisch, MD, and Patrick Kochanek, MD, et al
    • Gilles Clermont, MD, and Michael Pinsky, MD
  • At least 80 alumni, fellows, and current and former faculty members, including a handful of spouses and family members, attended the alumni reunion event on Sunday evening
  • Social media activity: Almost 5,000 impressions and 200 engagements for the single week of Feb. 26 with tweets about Congress, STAT Madness and Tim Girard's Lancet Respiratory Medicine paper

Critical Care Pioneer
As one of the founders of the Society of Critical Care Medicine, it was very fitting that Ake Grenvik, MD, had a book signing at the Society’s 47th Congress in San Antonio, a relatively short drive from his home in Houston. His autobiography, "Adventurer & ICU Doc," caps a prolific academic publishing career—nearly 400 articles and 27 books—when he retired as Emeritus Distinguished Service Professor at age 80 in 2009. Ake also found time to give a short speech at the alumni reunion. His book is available in paperback, hard cover and Kindle edition on Amazon.


Research Spotlight

Jessica Wallisch, MD, presented her work on cerebral edema after pediatric asphyxial cardiac arrest at the SCCM Annual Congress. Her research focuses on the role of aquaporin-4 in the development of cerebral edema and the impact of blocking this pathway on neurologic outcomes post-cardiac arrest. Key findings include the ability to prevent the onset of acute cerebral edema, improve early neurologic deficit, and mitigate neuronal death and neuroinflammation post-cardiac arrest with early aquaporin-4 inhibition. Jessica is mentored by Pat Kochanek, MD, and Mio Manole, MD, a Pediatric Emergency Medicine physician; respectively they are the Director and Associate Director of the Safar Center.


GME Conference Kudos

Congratulations to Adult IM fellow Karthik Kode, MD, and Kendra Woods, MD, a Pediatric Critical Care Instructor, who were both selected to present posters at the 2018 GME Leadership Conference, "Seeing is Believing!" Karthik's poster was "Teaching versus Learning: The Impact of Deliberate Practice and Formative Feedback on Developing Point-of-Care Ultrasound Skills," and Kendra's poster was "Formation of interdisciplinary pediatric intensive care unit leadership committee improved ratings of resident rotation."


STAT Madness

The BMJ publication about Night Shift—the video game developed by Deepika Mohan, MD, to reduce diagnostic error by doctors in the emergency department—is competing in an online medical-publication version of basketball's March Madness. Pitt/UPMC beat out Caltech in the first round last week and face Boston University next. The team with the most votes wins. To vote, go to STAT Madness and click on Pitt/UPMC logo.


Notable Publications and News Coverage

In the days of non-digital news, a photo above the fold was a big deal. It still is…there's just no fold anymore. The January issue of CHEST Physician ran a front-page 'above the fold' photo of Ragi Murugan, MD, Gilles Clermont, MD, and Priyanka Priyanka, BAMS, standing in the Magee ICU to accompany the story about their study on urine output monitoring for detecting AKI. The publication in CHEST Journal also includes John Kellum, MD, and three former researchers.

Tim Girard, MD's first-author publication "Clinical phenotypes of delirium during critical illness and severity of subsequent long-term cognitive impairment: a prospective cohort study" in the March issue of Lancet Respiratory Medicine also ran as a story in the February 26 issue of Health Management.

A single center, pilot study by first-author Ericka Fink, MD, assessed the benefit of 72 hours versus 24 hours of hypothermia in the production of favorable biomarker profiles in children surviving cardiac arrest. The study appeared in the February 14 issue of Resuscitation. Co-authors include Bob Clark, MD, Derek Angus, MD, and Pat Kochanek, MD.


New Funding

David Wallace, MD, received a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant for research in transforming health and health systems. The 12-month grant will fund a study of the effects of Medicaid expansion on timely geographic access to safety-net and acute-care hospitals.

In late February, the Chuck Noll Foundation For Brain Injury Research awarded five grants to Pittsburgh research teams. Lori Shutter, MD, and Jonathan Elmer, MD, are part of a six-PI team from Pitt and CMU to be awarded one of the grants. They will be studying automated detection and suppression of brain tsunamis.


3 Questions for Jen Vates

What brought you to CCM?
When I was nearing completion of my master's degree in Regulatory Affairs, I knew I wanted to return to academia to build infrastructure with the goal of optimizing clinical research. Having worked for both Pitt and UPMC and established relationships with CCM faculty and staff, joining CCM was an easy decision for me.

What projects are you currently working on?
My role is to provide the day-to-day programmatic oversight of our REMAP (Randomized, Embedded, Multifactorial, Adaptive Platform) clinical trial program, which is designed to seamlessly merge clinical research with the everyday practice of medicine. This includes developing standard operating procedures, facilitating regulatory aspects, and preparing training. Through the development of our first REMAP clinical trial, I will also be creating standardized processes for future trials.

What do you do in your spare time?
I am often baking, either recreating the delicious sweet treats seen on "The Great British Baking Show" or competing against my nephews in our own version of "Chopped" where we only make desserts. I also enjoy spinning, cycling, and music of all types. You may see me wearing headphones listening to something with a good beat as that always helps me focus when I'm working on something technical.

Jen Vates joined CRISMA on January 29 as a Senior Project Manager. She is a graduate of Northeastern University with a Master's in Regulatory Affairs. You can find Jen in the cube by Scaife 612C.


Congratulations to...

Hülya Bayır, MD, is one of only five Pitt faculty members who received the 2018 Chancellor's Distinguished Research Award, which honors a faculty member with an outstanding and continuing record of research and scholarly activity. She received $3,000 to support her research on novel therapies targeting ferroptotic death as well as a cash prize.



Congratulations of another sort to MACRO’s Financial Manager Dan Unikel…he celebrates 10 years working at MACRO on March 24. In his decade here, Dan has financially restructured MACRO to a service center model and witnessed a dramatic numerical increase in studies, investigators and departments using MACRO. This has necessitated growth from five research coordinators to today’s almost two dozen full-time staff and three dozen student and temp workers.  Dan began his career at Pitt in 2006 with the Research Cost Accounting Department.


New Leadership Roles

Two CCM members have been tapped for leadership roles with national and local healthcare-related organizations. Lori Shutter, MD, added to her responsibilities when she was elected to the Board of Regents of the American College of Critical Care Medicine. Similarly, ICU Clinical Program Director Aimee Skrtich took on new obligations when she was elected to the Executive Board of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Organizational Nurse Leaders.


Diagnosis via Post-it Note

An Imaging Services employee at Montefiore Hospital is thankful her patient was professor emeritus Jim Snyder, MD, who just happens to know a thing or two about brain injuries and cerebrovascular symptoms. Rather than tell the employee he'd noticed signs of neurological deterioration, Jim scribbled a post-it note saying, "Word-finding difficulty merits neuro evaluation, help medically as well as preserve job," and passed it to one of her imaging coworkers. Marla Johnson, director of Imaging Services and who helped to get the necessary medical care for her employee, says of Dr. Snyder, "His thoughtfulness for a person that he did not know plus the concern in preserving her job speaks volumes. I can only hope one day our paths will cross so I can thank him personally. He was a small gem of light and hope in an otherwise chaotic daily environment."


I Want to Know About...

Is there something you want to know about the Department? Ask your question and we'll have the answer in the next newsletter. Kelly Gottschalk kicks off this new feature by asking…

What is BDMC?
BDMC stands for the Biostatistics and Data Management Core and it's one of CRISMA's four core services. BDMC's data team is a mix of web application developers, data managers, systems analysts and biostatisticians. They are the custodians of the UPMC e-health records and almost 2TB of data for legacy and current clinical trials data. At their fingertips are more than eight-years of UPMC data records, and they will soon purchase (yes, they buy it) the 2016 data set. On the horizon are plans to acquire the CHP data set. BDMC services range from web data collection tool development, data warehousing and honest brokering to randomization, statistical analysis and specimen inventory tracking.

Edvin Music, MSIS, MBA, is the liaison between the research team and the BDMC data team, and it's his job to keep the bridge between the two teams as short as possible. He helps his staff understand enough about the clinical side so they work efficiently, and helps the investigators ask better questions for data mining, and understand the resulting digital "gold." Contact Edvin to discuss using BDMC's services.

The BDMC team is:

  • Joyce Chang, PhD, Director, Professor of Medicine, Biostatistics, and Clinical & Translational Science
  • Chris Seymour, MD, Clinical Advisor
  • Edvin Music, MSIS, MBA, Assistant Director and Manager
  • Jonathan Holton, Lead Systems Analyst
  • Hanjay Kim, Systems Analyst
  • Samantha Kerti, MS, Biostatistician
  • Yueru (Lucy) Ma, Application Developer

Email your "I Want to Know About…" question to


Faculty Promotions & Retirement

Marie Baldiserri, MD, MPH, was promoted to Professor, effective September 1, 2017.

Deepika Mohan, MD, MPH, was promoted to Associate Professor, effective December 1, 2017.

Lina Du, PhD, research scientist at the Safar Center, retired on January 31 after 18 years at Pitt. "Her ground breaking in vitro studies on the impact of gender on neuronal death pathways published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry has been cited nearly 100 times. Lina has been a great collaborator and colleague of many of the investigators in our Center," said Pat Kochanek, MD. In retirement, Lina plans to travel the world and spend more time with her grandchildren.


2018/19 Fellowship Leaders

Congratulations to these fellows selected to hold leadership positions for the next academic year:

  • Chief fellow of Pediatric Division: Justin Azar, MD
  • Chief fellows of Adult Division: Sabrina Arshed, MD, and Matt Niehaus, MD
  • MCCTP lecture series fellow Co-directors: Mohammad Hirzallah, MD, and Alex Kobzik, MD
  • Patient Safety Officer: Ammar Syed, MD
  • QI Officer: Garima Gupta, MD
  • Rapid Response Service Fellow Co-director: Carlos Pacheco, MD
  • Wellness Champion: Bachar Hamade, MD


Certification Feathers in Their Caps

Congratulations to Firas Abdulmajeed, MD, Josh Keegan, MD, and Deepa Malaiyandi, MD, who have the very happy pleasure of becoming certified in Neurocritical Care for the first time. Welcome to the certification team!


Welcome Aboard

Two new hires joined the Department on March 5. Meghan Allwes joined the CRISMA Lab and Shashank Badavanahalli joined CCCN as a student worker. Research Technician Meghan will assist Vanessa Jackson by performing in-house immunoassay testing such as Luminex and ELISA assays. She holds a BA in Biology from Saint Vincent College and has worked for the College as an athletic trainer. While Shashank is working with Priyanka Priyanka, BAMS, to provide programming support for the HiDenIC and Peds-HiDenIC projects. He is pursuing a Master's degree in Information Science, focusing on data analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence.

New to Pittsburgh but not new to working for higher ed leaders, we welcomed Robertta Goffeney as Executive Assistant to the Chair on February 19. Last summer, Robertta and husband Robert moved with Niles the cat from Ann Arbor, MI when he (not the cat) accepted an IT position at Duquesne University. She fills her spare time walking/hiking, biking, Pilates, crochet, reading and cooking.

MACRO welcomed Sarah Kapp as a Research Specialist/Coordinator on November 20. She has a healthcare background in patient care at UPMC and is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville with a BS in Biology.

CCCN has another new Pitt student worker, Bridget Kotek, who is a sophomore majoring in Rehabilitation Science/Emergency Medicine on the pre-physician assistant track. Bridget began her social media and administrative tasks on February 12.

As a Research Technician in the CRISMA Lab, Misha Kozikowski's primary focus is the BEACON project directed by Ragi Murugan, MD, while also assisting Vanessa Jackson with other research projects. Misha holds a BS in Biology from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and has worked for Medix Scientific-PPG and AVETS Emergency Hospital. She joined the Department on February 26.

Bringing a clinical research background to her role as a Research Project Manager, Kelsey Lindstrum began working with Tim Girard, MD, on January 22. Her focus is getting the DEterminants of COgnitive DEcline in Sepsis (DECODE Sepsis) project up and running. Kelsey holds an MS in Human Genetics from the University of Cincinnati.

Elizabeth Myers joined the Department as an Administrative Coordinator on November 6. She will oversee the CRISMA T32 and coordinate a number of other initiatives in the Office of Academic Affairs. She joins us after positions at Pitt and the American Red Cross. Betsy holds an International MBA from Point Park University.

On January 24, Kate O'Neill joined the Education Office team as the GME Senior Department Manager for the pediatric fellowship program. Kate was a human capital management specialist working with international students, faculty and staff at CMU. She holds a BA from Seton Hill University.



Denise McCloskey left us on February 9 to return to the University Center for International Studies.

The team at CCCN said goodbye to Seth Morrisroe as he moves on to new endeavors. His last day was February 2.

In Memoriam

Critical care medicine physician Chester “Skip” Hollinger, MD, died unexpectedly on Sunday, March 4. Dr. Hollinger is a graduate of Ross University School of Medicine (1984) in Dominica, West Indies where he also completed a clerkship. He completed an Internal Medicine residency at Pittsburgh’s St. Francis Medical Center in 1989 and a Critical Care fellowship in 1991 at the University of Pittsburgh. He subsequently worked in Critical Care at St. Francis, West Penn, and Veterans Affairs hospitals for over 25 years. He was recently the Director of the Medical/Surgical Intensive Care Unit known as 3E-ICU. Skip will be fondly remembered by his friends at the University and Veterans Affairs hospital.  



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