“Truly, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine is an institution on the rise,” said Eric G. Neilson, MD, vice president for Medical Affairs and Lewis Landsberg Dean. “In 2016, we continued to be recognized as a destination for world-class research and education. From the breakthrough discoveries of our faculty to the outstanding achievements of our academic programs, the medical school is in an era of unprecedented growth and distinction. The expansion of our health system affiliates gives our faculty, students and trainees extraordinary research and clinical care opportunities. Construction continues on the Simpson Querrey Biomedical Research Center, representing an impressive expansion of our research facilities. I have no doubt that next year will build on this upward trajectory and further strengthen our reputation as a premier academic medical center.”
The following stories spotlight some of the notable moments from the past year:
First-Year Medical Students Save A Life
During a break between classes at Lake Shore Park, five first-year medical students discovered a man who had suffered a medical emergency and performed CPR, saving his life. Jessica Quaggin-Smith and her fellow students attributed their actions in the park to a basic life support course they took during the first week of medical school at the Northwestern simulation center.
“There was a split second of fear, because we’re first-year medical students, and we’d only practiced on mannequins, but we realized if we didn’t do anything then he would die,”Quaggin-Smith said.
Medical Students Celebrate Match Day 2016
In March, fourth-year medical students tore open their envelopes to learn where they will be spending the next several years of residency training. The students gathered at Gino’s East with family and friends for the emotional event. “This is the culmination of a long relationship, and I’m excited to see how all of the tools and skills I learned here will help me in this next stage,” said Prajwal Ciryam, an MD/PhD student in the Medical Scientist Training Program.
12th Annual Lewis Landsberg Research Day Breaks Record
In April, nearly 400 students, staff, trainees and junior faculty presented abstracts at the annual research showcase. This year’s record-breaking participation not only showcased the diverse array of innovative research taking place at Feinberg, but also served as a vivid illustration of the community’s interest in scientific discovery.
This year, for the first time, Research Day included posters on education research, in addition to basic science, clinical research, and public health and social sciences.
Class of 2016 Graduates
“We have Feinberg to thank for pushing us along this journey of passion and caring,” said class speaker Patrick Hurley, ’16 MD, who urged his peers to reflect on how much they’ve accomplished over the past four years and to think about their future.
Founders’ Day Welcomes Incoming Medical Students
In August, members of the Class of 2020 donned their white coats and were welcomed into the medical profession at the 158th Founders’ Day. For Faith Svigos, it represented a transition from longtime patient to doctor-in-training. Many of her physicians and mentors had training at Northwestern and serve as Feinberg faculty members.
“I couldn’t be happier that I’m becoming one of their colleagues, embarking on my medical career at the very institution that has made such an impact on my life,” Svigos said.
Medical Education Day Celebrates Outstanding Teaching and Learning
In October, Feinberg faculty, students and staff gathered for workshops, lectures and presentations at the 6th Annual Medical Education Day. Experienced faculty, novice educators and students exchanged best practices at hands-on workshops, attended didactic lectures and honored faculty members’ achievements at a closing reception.
“Medical Education Day allows us to celebrate the people who love to teach,” said Michael Gisondi, MD, director of the Feinberg Academy of Medical Educators.
HIV Is Still Growing, Even When Undetectable In The Blood
“We now have a path to a cure,” said corresponding author Steven Wolinsky, MD ’82 GME, chief of Infectious Diseases in the Department of Medicine.
Inherited Neandertal DNA Influences Human Disease Risk Today
Rex Chisholm, PhD, vice dean of Scientific Affairs and Graduate Education, co-authored two papers published in Science and the Journal of the American Medical Association that used electronic health records to explore patient genetic data, including genes inherited from early humans.
“This study gives us real insight into human history,” said Chisholm of the first paper. “We knew before that we all carry some genes from the Neandertals. Now we know what some of the implications are.”
Examining New Breast Cancer Therapy
A combination of the drugs palbociclib and fulvestrant provides an effective and well-tolerated therapy for patients with recurrent metastatic breast cancer who are resistant to endocrine therapy, according to a study published in Lancet Oncology.
“We learned the drug continues to be effective and saw significant progression for survival,” said first author Massimo Cristofanilli, MD, professor of Medicine in the Division of Hematology/Oncology.
Nanoparticle Acts Like Trojan Horse to Halt Asthma
“The findings represent a novel, safe and effective long-term way to treat and potentially ‘cure’ patients with life-threatening respiratory and food allergies,” said senior author Stephen Miller, PhD, Judy Gugenheim Research Professor of Microbiology-Immunology.
Exploring the Role of Transcription Factors in Lymphatic Diseases
In a study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, Northwestern Medicine scientists identified a pathway by which the proteins Foxc1 and Foxc2 regulate signaling in lymphatic vessel growth.
“This finding expands our knowledge of lymphatic vessel formation and provides new insights into other disease processes,” said Tsutomu Kume, PhD, associate professor of Medicine in the Division of Cardiology.
New Gene Shown to Cause Parkinson’s Disease
“Many genes have been claimed to cause Parkinson’s disease, but they haven’t been validated. We show that mutations in this new gene lead to pathologically and clinically proven cases of the disease,” said principal investigator Teepu Siddique, MD, the Les Turner ALS Foundation/Herbert C. Wenske Foundation Professor of Neurology.
Investigating Mechanisms Behind Immunological Mystery
Northwestern Medicine scientists identified a new potential target for treating autoimmune diseases in research published in Nature Communications.
The suggests that certain signaling increases the genes that suppress self-attacking T-cells and others decrease the activators that maintain T-cell tolerance, “similar to a vehicle that can be slowed down by either tightening a break or shutting off the gas pedal,” said Deyu Fang, PhD, professor of Pathology.
Enzyme Identified as Target Against Triple-Negative Breast Cancer
In a study published in in Nature Medicine, scientists identified an enzyme as a potential new target for triple-negative breast cancer, a form of breast cancer associated with early tumor recurrence and significantly increased mortality rates when compared to receptor-positive breast cancers.
“Our study has successfully identified a specific patient population who can be expected to benefit from a targeted therapy based on PIM kinase inhibition,” said lead author Dai Horiuchi, PhD, assistant professor of Pharmacology.
New Antidepressant Target Discovered
If the study’s findings, published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, were replicated in humans, they could inform fresh therapies for millions of patients who do not respond to existing treatments for depression. “Drugs currently available for treating depression help most patients, but they stop working for some patients and don’t work from the get-go for others,” said senior author Dane Chetkovich, MD, PhD, professor of Neurology.
Scientists Find New Path in Brain to Ease Depression
A new pathway in the brain can be manipulated to alleviate depression, offering a promising target for developing a drug that could be effective in individuals for whom other antidepressants have failed.
“Identifying new pathways that can be targeted for drug design is an important step forward in improving the treatment of depressive disorders,” said Sarah Brooker, first author of a paper about the research in Molecular Psychiatry and a student in the Medical Scientist Training Program.
Understanding Signaling Pathways in Brain Tumors
Northwestern Medicine scientists have shown how a signaling pathway and genetic material work together in regulating the behavior of two subtypes of brain tumors called glioblastomas in a paper published in Nature Communications.
“Our findings could lead to the development of more effective therapies for patients,” said Shi-Yuan Cheng, PhD, professor of Neurology in the Division of Neuro-Oncology.
New Diabetes Screening Recommendation Misses More Than Half of High-Risk Patients
The latest government guidelines doctors follow to determine if patients should be screened for diabetes missed 55 percent of high-risk individuals with prediabetes or diabetes, according to a study published in PLoS Medicine.
“If you miss someone now, it might be years before they come back, at which point they have overt diabetes and maybe even complications, like heart attacks or strokes,” said study senior author Matthew O’Brien, MD, assistant professor of Medicine in the Division of General Internal Medicine and Geriatrics.
Stem Cell Method Predicts Patient Response to Cancer Drug
A Northwestern Medicine study published in Nature Medicine showed that reprogrammed stem cells can be used to identify patients with cancer who are likely to experience a dangerous side effect of a common chemotherapy drug.
By analyzing gene expression in the cells, scientists were able to establish genetic differences in drug response. Their work also suggests that mitochondrial dysfunction could be behind the toxic side effect.
Rankings and Honors
Feinberg Rises in Medical School Rankings
“This year’s ranking recognizes Feinberg’s exceptional accomplishments and our upward trajectory among the nation’s elite medical schools,” said Eric G. Neilson, MD, vice president for Medical Affairs and Lewis Landsberg Dean. “The outstanding achievements of our faculty, trainees, students and staff continue to reinforce our reputation for academic excellence and leading-edge research.”
Northwestern University Ranks Among Highly Cited Researchers in 2016
Thirty Northwestern faculty members are on the 2016 annual list of highly cited researchers compiled by Clarivate Analytics (formerly a part of Thomson Reuters). Highly cited papers are those that rank in the top one percent by citations for field and publication year. “These researchers have achieved something truly impressive,” said Karen Gutzman, impact and evaluation librarian at the Galter Health Sciences Library.
Feinberg’s NIH Funding Rankings Increase
Feinberg ranked 18th among U.S. medical schools in total National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding in 2015, an increase over previous years, according to an analysis from the Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research.
“Feinberg investigators are at the top of their fields, using NIH awards to conduct research that will help answer the most pressing questions in medicine, leading to tomorrow’s better treatments and cures,” said Eric G. Neilson, MD, vice president for Medical Affairs and Lewis Landsberg Dean. “These rankings reflect our ability to secure key funding in an increasingly competitive biomedical environment.”
Northwestern Hospitals Among the Best in Latest U.S. News Rankings
Four Northwestern Medicine hospitals have been recognized by U.S. News & World Report in its 2016-17 ranking of America’s Best Hospitals.
Northwestern Memorial Hospital is again recognized as one of the top hospitals in the country, ranking 8th on the prestigious Best Hospitals Honor Roll. Northwestern Memorial is also ranked 1st in both the Chicago Metro Region and Illinois for the fifth consecutive year. “With four of our hospitals and 13 clinical care specialties recognized by U.S. News, this is an achievement that further distinguishes Northwestern Medicine as Chicago’s premier academic health system and reaffirms our commitment to providing world-class healthcare to our patients,” said Dean M. Harrison, president and chief executive officer of Northwestern Memorial HealthCare.
Yancy Elected to the National Academy of Medicine
Clyde Yancy, MD, MSc, vice dean for Diversity and Inclusion, Magerstadt Professor and chief of Cardiology in the Department of Medicine, has been elected to the National Academy of Medicine (NAM). Election to NAM, based on professional achievement and a commitment to service, is considered one of the highest honors in medicine.
“I am truly humbled by this election,” Yancy said. “This honor is less a celebration and more a platform to press with even more vigor as a leader, teacher, investigator and physician.”
Cella Receives Lienhard Award From the National Academy of Medicine
David Cella, PhD, chair of Medical Social Sciences and Ralph Seal Paffenbarger Professor, received the Gustav O. Lienhard Award from the National Academy of Medicine for his work to measure and apply patient-reported outcomes in healthcare.
“This is the highest honor I could ever have imagined,” said Cella, also director of the Center for Patient-Centered Outcomes in the Institute for Public Health and Medicine. “It recognizes several decades of effort moving the patient’s voice to front-page status in the consideration of the value of healthcare interventions.”
Chandel Awarded NCI Outstanding Investigator Award
Navdeep Chandel, PhD, David W. Cugell Professor of Medicine in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, received the National Cancer Institute’s Outstanding Investigator Award. The seven-year, $6.4 million grant supports leaders who have made significant contributions in cancer research and are pursuing areas with unusual potential to move the field forward.
“In the last five to ten years, the idea that the metabolism of cancer cells might be different than the metabolism of normal cells has emerged,” Chandel said. “We believe that mitochondrial metabolism is central to tumorigenesis. If that’s true, we have to figure out how that works.”
Hou Appointed to ‘Moonshot’ Cancer Initiative Panel
Lifang Hou, MD, PhD, chief of Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention in the Department of Preventive Medicine, has been named a member of a Blue Ribbon Panel of scientific experts, cancer leaders and patient advocates that will inform the scientific direction and goals at the National Cancer Institute of Vice President Joe Biden’s National Cancer Moonshot Initiative to accelerate cancer research.
“It is a great honor to be able to participate in the vice president’s National Cancer Moonshot Initiative,” Hou said. “I am confident that the initiative will enable cancer researchers to leverage novel technologies, exciting scientific findings, existing infrastructures and interdisciplinary expertise and experience from the entire scientific community to move our current cancer research, treatment and preventive efforts to ever-higher levels, including addressing the persistent disparities in cancer screening, early detection, prevention and therapies.”
Five Named Elite Medical And Biological Engineering Fellows
Northwestern University scientists Chad Mirkin, PhD, Samuel Stupp, PhD, Richard Van Duyne, PhD, Todd Kuiken, MD, PhD, and Lee Miller, PhD, were inducted into The American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering’s (AIMBE) College of Fellows.
The College of Fellows is comprised of the top 2 percent of medical and biological engineers in the country. Since 1991, AIMBE‘s College of Fellows has helped revolutionize medicine and related fields in order to enhance and extend the lives of people all over the world.
Hogue Named Chair of Anesthesiology
Charles Hogue, Jr., MD, a renowned specialist in cardiovascular and thoracic anesthesiology, was named chair of the Departments of Anesthesiology at Feinberg and Northwestern Memorial Healthcare. Previously, Hogue served as chief of the Division of Adult Anesthesia in the Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
“I am very excited to have this opportunity to join the leadership of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and Northwestern Memorial HealthCare,” Hogue said. “I look forward to leveraging the extensive talents of Northwestern Medicine’s faculty, administration and healthcare providers to continue to grow its national and international reputation as a leader in medical education, research and superb family- and patient-centered care.”
Ackermann Named New Leader of Public Health Institute
Ronald Ackermann, MD, MPH, was named senior associate dean for public health and director of the Institute for Public Health and Medicine (IPHAM), succeeding IPHAM’s inaugural leader, Rowland Chang, MD, MPH.
“The opportunity to serve as IPHAM’s next director is an exceptional honor,” said Ackermann. “Under Dr. Chang’s leadership, we have witnessed the institute evolve from what began as an exciting vision just four years ago to what has become a vital epicenter for education, training, service and research to improve individual and population health and health equity.”
Green Named Senior Associate Dean for Medical Education
Marianne Green, MD, was named senior associate dean for Medical Education, succeeding John X. Thomas, PhD, professor of Physiology and Medical Education.
“I’m very honored and excited to have the opportunity to foster continued innovation in our undergraduate medical education program,” Green said. “I view this as a shared responsibility with our outstanding faculty, students and staff and am eager to grow this educational community for the benefit of our graduates.”
Budinger Named Chief of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine
Scott Budinger, MD, was appointed chief of the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine. He succeeds Jacob Sznajder, MD, who stepped down from the position to develop new research programs at Feinberg.
“As chief, I hope to build on the accomplishments of Dr. Sznajder and work with our faculty and campus partners to develop an integrated respiratory care program. The goals of this center will be to enhance the patient experience within our established tradition of outstanding clinical care and facilitate the translation of insights from our world-class research programs to the personalized care of our patients, while providing the optimal environment to educate Northwestern Medicine students, housestaff and fellows,” Budinger said.
Linder Joins Northwestern as Chief of General Internal Medicine
Jeffrey Linder, ’97 MD, MPH, announced that he would join Northwestern as chief of General Internal Medicine and Geriatrics in the Department of Medicine. Linder spent the previous fourteen years on the faculty at Harvard Medical School and as a general internist and primary care clinician-investigator at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
“I am thrilled to be returning to Northwestern,” Linder said. “It is a tremendous honor to be named the chief of General Internal Medicine and Geriatrics. I am looking forward to the position and collaborating with others to enhance the recognition of the Feinberg School of Medicine and Northwestern Medicine as regional, national and international leaders in medical education, innovation, clinical care and research.”
Kundu Named Associate Dean for Admissions
Roopal Kundu, ’01 MD, ’02 GME, was named associate dean for admissions, succeeding Warren Wallace, MD, ’79 GME, assistant professor of Medicine in the Division of General Internal Medicine and Geriatrics.
“I’m excited for this new role and opportunity,” said Kundu, an associate professor of Dermatology and Medical Education. “I have always been impressed how much thought goes behind the scenes to the care and culture of teaching here at Northwestern for all of our learners. I hope we can show prospective students how dynamic our curriculum is, and how engaged we are in early clinical experiences.”
Taiwo to Lead Division of Infectious Diseases
Babafemi Taiwo, MBBS, ’06 GME, was named chief of Infectious Diseases in the Department of Medicine. Taiwo started at Northwestern in 2005 as an infectious disease fellow and since then, has established himself as an influential physician, scientist, mentor and leader on campus. Taiwo is also the director for African Research in the Center for Global Health.
“Infectious Diseases have major relevance to the healthcare experience of individual patients on a daily basis and to the health of peoples across the globe. Our goal in the Division of Infectious Diseases is to occupy the frontline of patient-centered discovery in our field and deliver high-quality care and education every day,” Taiwo said.
Zoghbi Delivers Keynote Nemmers Prize Lecture
In September, Huda Zoghbi, MD, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and professor of Pediatrics, Molecular and Human Genetics, Neurology and Neuroscience at Baylor College of Medicine, presented a lecture about her research on Rett syndrome, as the first recipient of the Mechthild Esser Nemmers Prize in Medical Science at Northwestern University.
“Dr. Zoghbi and her collaborators have unraveled the genetic underpinnings of a number of devastating neurological disorders,” said Rex Chisholm, PhD, vice dean of Scientific Affairs and Graduate Education.
“It is a tremendous honor to be the inaugural Nemmers Prize recipient in Medical Science, and to have the opportunity to share my research with the stellar community of Northwestern University. It is truly humbling to be rewarded for what I love to do,” Zoghbi said when the prize was announced.
Northwestern To Participate In White House-Led Precision Medicine Study
In collaboration with four local institutions, Northwestern University will receive $4.3 million in fiscal year 2016 via the National Institutes of Health’s Illinois Precision Medicine Consortium grant to help launch the Cohort Program of President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative, the NIH announced in July.
“The big excitement here is the opportunity to improve the way we predict, prevent and eventually treat disease,” said Philip Greenland, MD, the Harry W. Dingman Professor of Cardiology. “Just the scope of it — 1 million people — is beyond anything that anybody in the U.S. has ever done. This could be a game changer.”
Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center Receives $8.6 Million Renewal
In August, the National Institute on Aging (NIA) renewed funding for the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center (CNADC), supporting an additional five years of research, and marking 25 years of continuous grant support. The $8.6 million grant continues CNADC’s status as one of the nation’s 31 Alzheimer’s Disease Centers, a program established by the NIA to enhance research on Alzheimer’s disease and to find a way to cure and possibly prevent the disease.
“It’s been a remarkable process, I’m really looking forward to the next five years,” said Marsel Mesulam, MD, director of the CNADC.
New Northwestern Institute Commits to Improving LGBT Health
Northwestern University launched the Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing, the first research institute in the United States established university-wide that is focused exclusively on LGBT health.
“This new institute represents Northwestern and Feinberg’s commitment to support breakthrough research that improves the lives of LGBT people everywhere,” said Eric G. Neilson, MD, vice president for Medical Affairs and Lewis Landsberg Dean at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “We want to be a leader in reducing health inequalities in LGBT communities.”
Women’s Health Research Institute Celebrates New Policies on Gender in Research
U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky joined the Women’s Health Research Institute (WHRI) in celebrating recently announced National Institutes of Health and Food and Drug Administration policies to include women in basic science and clinical research studies.
“We wanted to make this point — that women’s health is not just about pregnancy and having a child,” said Teresa Woodruff, PhD, director of the WHRI, who moderated the event. “In the WHRI, we’ve embraced this broad perspective of assuring women that when we say women’s health we mean all of women’s health.”
The new policy (NOT-OD-15-102), instructs scientists to account for the possible role of sex as a biological variable in animal and clinical studies and to factor sex into research designs, analyses and reporting.