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NEWSLETTER - May 29, 2018


Upcoming Events

May 31-June 1


"The Opioid Epidemic: Implications for Resuscitation Medicine" Safar Symposium & Patient Safety Simulation

June 2


Fellows Graduation

June 6


AKI Bi-Monthly Meeting

Future Happenings

Oct. 11-12


8th Annual AKI Symposium

Apr. 16, 2019


8th Annual Mitchell P. Fink Scholar Day


Kids on Campus

  • April 26 was Take Your Child to Work Day!
  • CCM and Anesthesia hosted 30+ daughters and sons from CCM and Anesthesiology ranging in age from six to 14
  • Activities: patient simulation at WISER, ultrasound demo with live models, team-learning exercise, and tours of the CRISMA lab, OR, STAT MedEvac and helipad
  • Big thanks to Kim Basile and Kim Kushon for coordinating the day's activities, Jeremy Kahn, MD, and David Wallace, MD, for leading CCM-hosted events, Shawn Beaman, MD, at WISER, and Stanford Littwin, MD, and Jen Branik in Anesthesiology



Fink Scholar Day

  • 4 oral presenter awardees
  • 12 moderators & Fink Day committee members
  • 22 abstract posters
  • 100+ faculty, fellows, researchers and staff

Congratulations to the four Fink Day prize winners!

Clinical Research
Idris Evans, MD, MA
NIH T32 Scholar and Clinical Instructor
"One-hour Bundle and Mortality During Care for Pediatric Sepsis"

Karthik Kode, MD
Adult Fellow, Internal Medicine
"Teaching Versus Learning: Impact of Deliberate Practice and Formative Feedback on Developing Point-of-Care Ultrasound Skills"

Quality Improvement
Namir Khandker, MD
Adult Fellow, Neurocritical Care
"Telemedicine Assessment of Brain Death Examinations"

Translational Research
Alicia Alcamo, MD, MPH
Pediatric Fellow, Postdoctoral Scholar in Safar Center
"Effects of High Fiber Supplementation on Gut Barrier Function in a Murine Sepsis Model"


Thanks for Exceptional Care

"There are so many skilled individuals on your Surgical Trauma ICU that my family has come to care so much about. Their poise, compassion, and love for my mother was always apparent. The attention to detail and conversations with my family were always handled delicately and professionally. I have come to care about these talented individuals, who I've known for a brief 5 weeks, on a deeper care level than those I've known much longer. I hope that my mom had a teachable, 'ah ha' moment for someone that cared for her and they can continue to best serve others like they did her.

Please send my sincere gratitude to your team. I also want to ask you to send a huge thank you to Carlos, even with him no longer around. I have the upmost respect for what everyone that we have encountered on this journey does each day. The level of care my mom received was unmatched, and of the highest quality. Thank you simply doesn't say enough."

Sent to Scott Gunn from Rose Schuring's family
April 19, 2018
(Minor edits for brevity)


2018 Best Doctors in America

Fourteen CCM physicians have been named to the Best Doctors in America list for 2018.

For Critical Care Medicine:

For Pediatric Critical Care:

Ali Al-Khafaji, MD, MPH

Raj Anega, MD

Derek Angus, MD, MPH

Hülya Bayır, MD

Marie Baldisseri, MD, MPH

Joe Carcillo, MD

Arthur Boujoukos, MD

Bob Clark, MD

Scott Gunn, MD

Melinda Hamilton, MD, MSc

John Kellum, MD

Holt Murray, MD

For Pulmonary Medicine:

Penny Sappington, MD

Arthur Boujoukos, MD

Lori Shutter, MD


For Emergency Medicine:

Scott Gunn, MD

Holt Murray, MD


3 Questions for Trista Polaski

What excites you about working at CCM?

I'm most excited about all the new technology I am working with and learning about—VMware, Freshdesk, SQL Server, and Visual Studio—in my role in the Health Science Research Data Center (HSRDC).

What projects are you currently working on?

In the HSRDC, I work on projects such as server administration and web app development. The HSRDC serves all schools in the Health Sciences so I work on an assortment of research projects with many different users. In my CCM IT role, I support our Pitt users to ensure smooth operation of PCs and networks.

Where have you traveled to recently?

Last December, I traveled to Las Vegas to see the Pittsburgh Penguins vs the Vegas Golden Knights…the first Murray vs. Fleury game. There were so many Pens fans it felt like a home game. Unfortunately, the Penguins lost but the weather was nice and restaurants were amazing. We also went to the impressive Cirque du Soleil show "Love".

Trista joined CCM as a Systems Analyst for HSRDC and the Office of Technology in July 2017.


Timely Topic for Safar Symposium

With the Pittsburgh region at the center of the opioid epidemic it makes sense for the 16th Annual Safar Symposium to focus on this issue. "The Opioid Epidemic: Implications for Resuscitation Medicine" will be led by the Peter & Eva Safar Lecturer, Lewis S. Nelson, MD, whose talk will be "The Newest Opium War: Insights into the Current Opioid Crisis." Join Dr. Nelson and six local and national experts as well as trainees for the research poster session on Thursday, May 31 at The University Club. The half-day simulation-focused session on Friday, June 1 will be held at the Winter Institute for Simulation, Education and Research.


ATS Buzz

Three CCM studies made news headlines at the ATS 2018 conference in San Diego, May 18-23.

  • The PARTNER study by Doug White, MD, which was announced via a UPMC/Pitt news release and was published in the NEJM, has shown to improve patient care with structured family support and communication by the ICU team.
  • The first-author poster by Jason Kennedy about hospital-stay opioid use and the likelihood of filling a post-discharge prescription for an opioid was announced via an ATS news release.
  • David Huang, MD's 'late breaker' abstract with the results from the ProACT trial also drew news media attention via a UPMC/Pitt news release. ProACT is an NIH-funded, 14-center trial of procalcitonin guided antibiotic prescription for suspected lower respiratory tract infection.


Breathe Easy

NIH Critical Care Fellow Dominique Pepper, MD, talked with Derek Angus, MD, for the American Thoracic Society's Breathe Easy podcast in April. During a conversation about "Critical Perspective: Precision Medicine in the ICU" Dr. Angus discusses how precision medicine has been the essence of medicine forever but now has implications for targeted therapies and clinical trial design. Listen to the podcast on the ATS website.


Promotion to Associate Professor

Chris Seymour, MD's promotion to Associate Professor on February 1 capped off a string of accomplishments in the past year. He was first author of a highly impactful NEJM paper in June 2017 that has already been cited over 100 times. He was also awarded a prestigious R35 grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences and appointed to the council of the International Sepsis Forum.


Recognized Authority

Jeremy Kahn, MD, has been appointed as incoming Chair of the NIH Health Services, Organization, and Delivery (HSOD) scientific review group. HSOD is the leading NIH study section for health services research. As Chair, he will lead national experts in discussion about grant applications focusing on health care financing, cost-effectiveness, utilization and outcomes of health services. In the 2018 the NIH is expected to disperse $37 billion for biomedical research.


New Funding

Christopher Schott, MD, was awarded an Innovation Grant by the Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine for the "Hierarchical Observed Competency and Utilization of Skills with Point of Care Ultrasound (HOCUS POCUS)" project. The project aims to validate an instructional assessment tool for learner competence.

CCM graduate student and MD/PhD candidate Andrew Lamade received an NIH F30 fellowship grant to examine the roles of mitochondrial PARP in neuronal ischemia-reperfusion injury using a novel mitochondria-localizing inhibitor. Hülya Bayır, MD, is Andy's mentor. His mentorship committee includes Bob Clark, MD, Peter Wipf, PhD, from the Department of Chemistry and Valerian Kagan, PhD, from the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at GSPH.

Ragi Murugan, MD, was awarded a 2017 Volunteer Service Board one-year grant from Magee-Womens Research Institute Foundation for a study of novel urine biomarkers in high-risk pregnant women admitted to the hospital and in women with healthy pregnancies. Currently there is no test to diagnose AKI early in pregnancy.


Hats Off to…

Matt Siedsma, MD, and Mary Przybysz, MD, who were lauded for their excellent communication skills and positive attitude by Respiratory Therapists at UPMC Mercy…

Mackenzie Martin, GME Senior Department Manager, who presented "Fellow Onboarding" at the GME Coordinator Symposium on April 5…

Neurocritical Care fellow, Mohammad Hirzallah, MD, who has been accepted to undertake the Certificate in Clinical Research at the Institute for Clinical Research Education for July 1 admission.

And Jim Rieker, Education Media Developer, who completed the Classroom Assessment faculty pathway at Pitt's Center for Teaching & Learning.


Highly Cited Researchers

Webometrics released its eighth edition of world researchers who have an h-index greater than 100. The list of 2,610 authors, both living and deceased, includes 17 from Pittsburgh. John Kellum, MD, was 2,315 (h = 104) and Derek Angus, MD, was 2,504 (h = 101). Top of the list? University of Vienna's Sigmund Freud with an h-index of 280. The ranking is based on the Google Scholar Citations (GSC) database, which Webometrics acknowledges makes the ranking incomplete since many scientists have not created their free GSC profile.


Exam Excellence

The Adult fellows surpassed the national averages on their respective fellowship assessment exams. The 30 Adult fellows taking the Multidisciplinary Critical Care Knowledge Assessment Program (MCCKAP) exam received a raw score mean of 138.7 (national mean 127.6). Alex Kobzik, IM and EM Adult fellow, top scored with 159.


Notable Publications

Germane to the opioid epidemic and published March 10 in Critical Care Medicine, Cameron Dezfulian, MD, and his team showed, in both rats and humans, that the type of cardiac arrest produced by an opioid overdose leads to more brain injury than a conventional cardiac arrest. Cameron is one of the national leaders in the concept of phenotyping cardiac arrest. Co-authors include Thomas Uray, MD, Andy Lamade, Thomas Drabek, Jason Stezoski, Amalea Missé, Keri Janesko-Feldman and Pat Kochanek, MD, from the Safar Center, and Jonathan Elmer, MD, from CCM.


Ruchira Jha, MD, is at the forefront of precision medicine research for treating traumatic brain injury, as many in the Department heard at her Grand Rounds talk on May 2. Ruchi and colleagues have identified four ABCC8 single-nucleotide polymorphisms that are associated with cerebral edema and outcome in severe TBI. Their work was published April 19 in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry. Co-authors include Bob Clark, MD, Lori Shutter, MD, Jessica Wallisch, MD, and Pat Kochanek, MD.


Distribute It!

Communicating to everyone in the Department just got easier. We now have two "CCM All" distribution lists. Why two?

  • CCM All Users (CCMAllUsers@upmc.edu) reaches UPMC-only employees
  • CCM - All (CCM-All@pitt.edu) reaches Pitt-only employees
  • Both distribution lists also reach people with dual appointments, who will, unfortunately, receive duplicate messages (apologies, but there's no way to avoid dupes)

Before sending to these "All CCM" lists, consider if everyone really needs to receive your message. There are lots of smaller, targeted distribution lists to reach a specific audience. If in doubt, ask Wendy O'Donnell, Director of Communications.


In-House Pitt IT Help Desk

In April, the Office of Technology under Director Dan Ricketts rolled out a new help desk email account ccmit@pitt.edu for all CCM employees using Pitt computers and accounts. Use this email address for:

  • Pitt IT requests  ̶ ordering new software or hardware, requesting sponsored accounts
  • Pitt IT help  ̶ my computer won't turn on, my software needs updating
  • Pitt IT questions  ̶ how to remote into my machine, how to use box for data storage

Sending an email to ccmit@pitt.edu creates a help desk ticket that gets assigned to the appropriate IT team member and includes a priority assessment to ensure timely response.


RRT Handbook

From common medical and surgical emergencies to special circumstances such as obstetric or behavioral complications and palliative care, this Rapid Response Team handbook is the place to find practical solutions. The book, Rapid Response System: A Practical Guide (Pittsburgh Critical Care Medicine) is co-edited by Ragi Murugan, MD, and Joe Darby, MD. It's available for sale at Amazon.


Faculty Affairs Update

As Faculty Affairs ramps up to full speed under Director Kelly Gottschalk, supporting staff have added new responsibilities. In particular, Traci Green now supports faculty recruitment efforts as well as her administrative functions for Drs. Lori Shutter, Luke Chelluri, Jason Moore, Ruchi Jha, and Alan Rosenbloom. Gretchen Winstein has added faculty compliance, promotions administration and expanded duties liaising with PSD IT. She also collaborates with project lead Stephanie Wigenton on the creation of our UPMC SharePoint site.


Elite Steppers

Congratulations to the Hot Steppers team of Mackenzie Martin (captain), Lynn Bonnaci, Traci Green, Holly Lapinski and Jackie Toboz who stepped their way to first place with 1,399,269 steps in the GME-sponsored step competition during April. All those strides have earned the Hot Steppers a UPMC-catered lunch courtesy of the GME Office. Mackenzie also hit a team-high of 21,000 steps on a single day.


Welcome Aboard…

On March 4, Aja Wilkerson moved to full-time from temporary status as the Medical Education Coordinator for Pediatric Critical Care Medicine. Aja graduated from Pitt in December 2017 with a BA in Health Services Management.

MACRO has had a busy hiring season adding five Pitt grads as Research Specialists and Project Manager Rachel Molinaro, who holds a BS and Masters of Education from Carlow University as well as a Certification in Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecology from Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia.

Research Specialists working under Pete Adams are Erin Gramm, BS in Biological Sciences, and Emily Klawson, BS in Psychology. In fall, Emily will begin an MPH in Behavioral and Community Health Sciences at GSPH.

Megan Buhay manages the other new Research Specialists: Brianna Higginbottom, BA in Anthropology; Lydia Grubic, BS in Neuroscience and Masters in Nutrition from Case Western Reserve University; and Brett O’Donnell, BS in Neuroscience and Film Studies.

Tara Smith, MD, joined St. Joseph's Children's Hospital in Tampa as a full-time Clinical Associate Professor, effective March 12. Most recently, she practiced pediatric critical care medicine at Cooper Children's Regional Hospital in southern New Jersey. The CCM Pediatrics Division provides ICU services to St. Joseph's.

We welcomed Manjunath Muddaraju, MD, as a Clinical Assistant Professor at UPMC Mercy on April 1. He moved to Pittsburgh after two years as an Intensivist at Yale New Haven Hospital.

On May 1, Aisha Saand, MBBS, began as a Visiting Research Scholar for Sherry Chou, MD. She was previously in the Pulmonary Division working with Sanjay Patel, MD.


…And So Long

Hanjay Kim's last day as a Systems Analyst for BDMC will be May 31.

Stephanie Wigenton, Manager of Academic and Administrative Operations, left us on May 18.

Dana Freund, who managed Pitt HR functions, heads to the business world as a recruiter. Her last day was May 24.

Arthur Boujoukos, MD, CCM Professor and Executive and Clinical Vice Chair, departs on June 3.


Did You Know?

  • Conference room 615 in Scaife is called the Safar Conference Room
  • Take Your Child to Work Day happens on the fourth Thursday in April
  • MACRO enrolls for clinical trials 24/7, including weekends
  • UPMC threats/complaints number is 412-647-4969. Use it to report UPMC non-hospital threats, incidents and complaints


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© 2018 University of Pittsburgh Department of Critical Care Medicine, 3550 Terrace Street, 6th Floor Scaife Hall, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213