Sen. Johanns impressed by UNMC visit

by Tom O’Connor, UNMC public relations | February 21, 2013

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Nebraska Sen. Mike Johanns meets with Ken Bayles, Ph.D., left, and Steve Hinrichs, M.D.
Nebraska Sen. Mike Johanns received an overview this week of some of the projects UNMC scientists are working on as part of the University of Nebraska being designated by the Department of Defense as a University Affiliated Research Center (UARC).

The hour-long visit included discussions and presentations involving:

  • Jennifer Larsen, M.D., vice chancellor of research;
  • Bob Hinson, executive director of the National Strategic Research Institute, the University of Nebraska's UARC;
  • Steve Hinrichs, M.D., professor and chairman of the department of pathology and microbiology and director of the Nebraska Public Health Laboratory;
  • Ken Bayles, Ph.D., associate vice chancellor for basic science research and director of the UNMC Center for Staphylococcal Research; and
  • Serguei Vinogradov, Ph.D., professor, College of Pharmacy.

The visit included a tour of labs in the Durham Research Center II and discussion of the multiple ways UNMC's expertise in medical countermeasures and vaccine development is contributing to the defense of the nation.

Dr. Bayles detailed how UNMC has become the premier staph research program in the country with a team of six faculty, five post-doctoral fellows and 18 graduate students dedicated to studying staph disease - an expertise which has relevant applications to protecting soldiers.

As an example, he explained how one percent of patients undergoing hip and knee replacements wind up with staph infections. In those rare cases, this may result in removing the artificial joint, Dr. Hinrichs said, and up to a six-month healing period to eliminate the infection before a replacement joint can be installed.

Sen. Johanns said he knew someone who had a similar experience. "What she went through was just unbelievable," he said.

"Every time I come here I'm so impressed," Sen. Johanns said. "The bricks and mortar are impressive. But, it's the people who make UNMC what it is. They are always pumped up and excited about what they're doing, and they should be, because they're working on groundbreaking things that are changing the world."

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