January

News Digest

Media Contact: Gary Pettus at 601-815-9266 or gpettus@umc.edu.

Published on January 15, 2015
A quick look at Medical Center news

Myrlie Evers-Williams lends name to UMMC institute pledged to health equality

Dr. Myrlie Evers-Williams, left, cuts a cake to celebrate the dedication of the institute named in her honor during a ceremony at the Jackson Medical Mall in Jackson on June 13: the UMMC Myrlie Evers-Williams Institute for the Elimination of Health Disparities. Assisting her is Dr. Bettina Beech, executive director of the institute and associate vice chancellor for population health.
Dr. Myrlie Evers-Williams, left, cuts a cake to celebrate the dedication of the institute named in her honor during a ceremony at the Jackson Medical Mall in Jackson on June 13: the UMMC Myrlie Evers-Williams Institute for the Elimination of Health Disparities. Assisting her is Dr. Bettina Beech, executive director of the institute and associate vice chancellor for population health.

Myrlie Evers-Williams, widow of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers, helped dedicate the UMMC Myrlie Evers-Williams Institute for the Elimination of Health Disparities during a June 13 ceremony at the Jackson Medical Mall Thad Cochran Center. 

The launch of the institute represents a new partnership between the University of Mississippi Medical Center and the Jackson State University College of Liberal Arts, and signifies the renaming of the Mississippi Institute for the Improvement of Geographical Minority Health Disparities, created to close the gap between those who receive proper medical care and those who don’t. 

The revamped organization will focus on three main areas of concern in Mississippi: child health disparities, minority men’s health and research training – issues that resonate with Evers-Williams, who spoke to a gathering of an estimated 130 people. 

“I am so honored to lend my name to this wonderful, motivational group of programs we have here that will move Mississippi from the bottom of the list to the top,” Evers-Williams said.

“If Mississippi is going to be a strong state in every way, we have to be healthy, too.”

The three areas of focus were also chosen based on their capacity to dovetail with existing programs at UMMC and JSU, said Dr. Bettina Beech, executive director of the institute and UMMC associate vice chancellor for population health. 

“For instance, UMMC has the only children’s hospital in the state and deals with vulnerable children,” said Beech, referring to the Blair E. Batson Hospital for Children.

“Jackson State will be a valuable partner in exploring the social determinants of health (education, income, employment and geographic factors) that the health-care system was not traditionally designed to address.

Evers-Williams has a “passion” for children’s health and men’s health, said Beech, who introduced Evers-Williams as “one of the foremost civil rights figures of our time.”

“The area of minority men’s health has been overlooked in this country, for the most part,” Beech said.

“Our partnership with JSU will enable groups of faculty and students to make a real impact in these areas of research.”

The institute will also collaborate with Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center’s Maya Angelou Center for Health Equity, where Beech formerly served as co-director. 

Housed in the Medical Mall, the institute also plans to team up with Alcorn State University – the alma mater of Medgar and Myrlie Evers – and the Medgar and Myrlie Evers Institute in Jackson, created to continue the legacy of Medgar Evers, who was assassinated June 12, 1963 in Jackson. The dedication was held the day after the 51st anniversary of his death.

“When I came back to Mississippi a year ago, I had no intention to stay,” Evers-Williams said. “I wouldn’t have thought it was possible to embrace the state. Anything is possible.” 

Naming the institute after Evers-Williams is a “historic milestone” in the growing relationship between the university and the Evers family, Beech said. 

A Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence at Alcorn State, Evers-Williams will be involved in the organization named for her, said Dr. Claude Brunson, UMMC senior advisor to the vice chancellor for external affairs.

“Her international prominence will enable us to collaborate with other folks that we may not have had access to otherwise. Her name will provide us with some opportunities that we may not have had without her being an active part of its work.”

UMMC researchers tout promising Alzheimer’s treatments

UMMC’s Dr. Tom Mosley, far right, standing, makes a point during the Alzheimer’s Research Round Table Luncheon held Aug. 12 in Jackson. Panelists include, from left, Patty Dunn, executive director of the Alzheimer’s Association/Mississippi Chapter, which co-hosted the event with the Greater Jackson Chamber of Commerce Partnership; Mike Quayle, a Jackson businessman diagnosed with Alzheimer’s; Dr. Junming Wang, UMMC associate professor of research and a member of the research team for the Memory Impairment Neurodegenerative Dementia Research (MIND) Center; and Mosley, MIND Center director and professor of geriatric medicine. Among the developments reviewed by Mosley and Wang were the discovery of a molecule that may become a biomarker for Alzheimer’s and advances in brain imaging.
UMMC’s Dr. Tom Mosley, far right, standing, makes a point during the Alzheimer’s Research Round Table Luncheon held Aug. 12 in Jackson. Panelists include, from left, Patty Dunn, executive director of the Alzheimer’s Association/Mississippi Chapter, which co-hosted the event with the Greater Jackson Chamber of Commerce Partnership; Mike Quayle, a Jackson businessman diagnosed with Alzheimer’s; Dr. Junming Wang, UMMC associate professor of research and a member of the research team for the Memory Impairment Neurodegenerative Dementia Research (MIND) Center; and Mosley, MIND Center director and professor of geriatric medicine. Among the developments reviewed by Mosley and Wang were the discovery of a molecule that may become a biomarker for Alzheimer’s and advances in brain imaging.

A promising, new clinical trial, along with improved brain imaging and other technologies, are potential keys to discovering treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, two UMMC researchers told a conference in Jackson. 

Dr. Thomas Mosley, director of the Memory Impairment Neurodegenerative Dementia (MIND) Research Center, and Dr. Junming Wang, associate professor of pathology, described these developments for about 150 attendees during the Aug. 12 round table session featuring U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi.

Sponsored by the Mississippi Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association and the Greater Jackson Chamber Partnership, the assembly included remarks by Patty Dunn, the chapter’s executive director, and Mike Quayle, a Jackson business owner diagnosed with Alzheimer’s more than two years ago.

The conference also served as a kind of pep talk stressing the need for increased funding of research that may find a cure for the debilitating illness that affects more than 50,000 Mississippians like Quayle.

“It changes your outlook on life,” Quayle said. “Mentally, I’ve slowed down; physically, I’ve slowed down. I have trouble tying my shoes. Sometimes I don’t know where the heck I am.

“But don’t feel sorry for us. Some people have heart disease; some people have cancer. I have Alzheimer’s.” 

A brain disease that shrinks memory and reasoning, Alzheimer’s has struck more than five million Americans, reports the Alzheimer’s Association. But, without effective courses of treatment, it threatens to afflict up to 16 million by 2050, costing the nation, in today’s dollars, $1.2 trillion.

“We can’t afford that,” said Wicker, who proposed establishing an XPRIZE type contest to find new treatments and a cure, comparing such an offer to the incentivized competition that awarded Charles Lindbergh $25,000 in 1927 for the non-stop, transatlantic flight that hatched the aviation industry.

So far, Mosley said, “everything we’ve thrown at this disease has been a bust.”

The National Institutes of Health (NIH), the largest funder of research in the world, Mosley said, spends about $450 -$500 million on Alzheimer’s research a year, compared to more than $4 billion for heart disease research, $6 billion for cancer research, and $3 billion for research on HIV/AIDS.

The Alzheimer’s Association is asking Congress to make Alzheimer’s a research priority at the NIH and to pass legislation guaranteeing the diagnosis and care of people with the disease.

Medical Center, Mayo Clinic establish partnership

Dr. James E. Keeton, UMMC vice chancellor for health affairs and medical school dean, left, and Dr. Greg Gores, executive dean of research at the Mayo Clinic, sign a formal agreement between their two medical centers on Sept. 30 in Rochester, Minn. The pact creates a partnership between UMMC and Mayo to cooperate on matters of research, clinical trials and education.
Dr. James E. Keeton, UMMC vice chancellor for health affairs and medical school dean, left, and Dr. Greg Gores, executive dean of research at the Mayo Clinic, sign a formal agreement between their two medical centers on Sept. 30 in Rochester, Minn. The pact creates a partnership between UMMC and Mayo to cooperate on matters of research, clinical trials and education.

AAMC president Kirch pays tribute to graduates’ families

Dr. Darrell Kirch, president and CEO of the Association of American Medical Colleges, speaks to the School of Medicine’s Class of 2014 during the May 22 Long Coat Ceremony.
Dr. Darrell Kirch, president and CEO of the Association of American Medical Colleges, speaks to the School of Medicine’s Class of 2014 during the May 22 Long Coat Ceremony.

Darrell Kirch, president and CEO of the Association of American Medical Colleges, addressed the School of Medicine’s Class of 2014 during the school’s Long Coat Ceremony May 22 at the Jackson Convention Center. 

Kirch, who also had spoken to the class at its Short Coat Ceremony in August 2010, said, “The white coat you put on then wouldn’t have felt natural, and wouldn’t feel natural until you filled it with experience.”

Referring to the “powerful memories” the students had built during medical school, he added, “The people here created some of those memories. 

“Someone here purchased your first Fisher-Price doctor kit. Now you’re about to become the real thing.”

A psychiatrist and neuroscientist, Kirch became AAMC president in July 2006 after serving in leadership and faculty positions at the Hershey Medical Center at Penn State University, the Medical College of Georgia and George Washington University. In 1993, he was recognized for his contributions to the National Institute of Mental Health when he received the Outstanding Service Medal of the United States Public Health Service.

Darrell Kirch, president and CEO of the Association of American Medical Colleges, addressed the School of Medicine’s Class of 2014 during the school’s Long Coat Ceremony May 22 at the Jackson Convention Center.  Kirch, who also had spoken to the class at its Short Coat Ceremony in August 2010, said, “The white coat you put on then wouldn’t have felt natural, and wouldn’t feel natural until you filled it with experience.” Referring to the “powerful memories” the students had built during medical school, he added, “The people here created some of those memories.  “Someone here purchased your first Fisher-Price doctor kit. Now you’re about to become the real thing.” A psychiatrist and neuroscientist, Kirch became AAMC president in July 2006 after serving in leadership and faculty positions at the Hershey Medical Center at Penn State University, the Medical College of Georgia and George Washington University. In 1993, he was recognized for his contributions to the National Institute of Mental Health when he received the Outstanding Service Medal of the United States Public Health Service.
Darrell Kirch, president and CEO of the Association of American Medical Colleges, addressed the School of Medicine’s Class of 2014 during the school’s Long Coat Ceremony May 22 at the Jackson Convention Center. Kirch, who also had spoken to the class at its Short Coat Ceremony in August 2010, said, “The white coat you put on then wouldn’t have felt natural, and wouldn’t feel natural until you filled it with experience.” Referring to the “powerful memories” the students had built during medical school, he added, “The people here created some of those memories. “Someone here purchased your first Fisher-Price doctor kit. Now you’re about to become the real thing.” A psychiatrist and neuroscientist, Kirch became AAMC president in July 2006 after serving in leadership and faculty positions at the Hershey Medical Center at Penn State University, the Medical College of Georgia and George Washington University. In 1993, he was recognized for his contributions to the National Institute of Mental Health when he received the Outstanding Service Medal of the United States Public Health Service.

State Rep. Phillip Gunn, back row, center, Mississippi Speaker of the House, is on hand to congratulate the Medical Center’s recipients of the 2014 Mississippi Rural Physicians Scholarships, July 10 at the Old Capitol Museum in Jackson. The M1s are, front row, from left, Kaycee Burcham of Iuka, Evan Ciarloni of Grenada, Hollie Ables of Florence, Rachel Sharp of Sturgis, Meagan Henry of Pontotoc and Robert Barnes of Coldwater. Back row, from left, are Ben Lambert of Como, Ryan Humphries of Louisville, Nicholas Boullard of Brandon, Gunn, Brad Murray of Glen and Johnny McKenzie of Tylertown.
State Rep. Phillip Gunn, back row, center, Mississippi Speaker of the House, is on hand to congratulate the Medical Center’s recipients of the 2014 Mississippi Rural Physicians Scholarships, July 10 at the Old Capitol Museum in Jackson. The M1s are, front row, from left, Kaycee Burcham of Iuka, Evan Ciarloni of Grenada, Hollie Ables of Florence, Rachel Sharp of Sturgis, Meagan Henry of Pontotoc and Robert Barnes of Coldwater. Back row, from left, are Ben Lambert of Como, Ryan Humphries of Louisville, Nicholas Boullard of Brandon, Gunn, Brad Murray of Glen and Johnny McKenzie of Tylertown.