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Archive for April, 2016

Signs placed on Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center

by Tom O’Connor, UNMC public relations

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Workers put one of the signs in place atop the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center.

Two large exterior signs identifying the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center were placed on the building Monday by Kiewit Building Group. The 615,000-square-foot cancer center is located on Dewey Avenue between 44th Street and Durham Research Plaza (formerly 45th Street).

The two signs are identical. One was placed on the north side of the building, the other on the south side of the building.

The cancer center is scheduled for completion in the spring of 2017. Since the project is near completing use of the existing tower cranes, the sign installation had to be scheduled before the cranes were removed, said Kathy Bauer of Tetrad Property Group, the company which is providing owner’s representation services for the new facility.

Unlike other signs that are installed in sections on a building, these signs featured a unique unit assembly system that allowed the signs to be completely assembled at ground level. They were then hoisted onto the building in one piece.

Kiewit monitored weather conditions to determine the install date. “Because of the size of the signs and the fact that we needed to use a crane for placement, it was important that we have minimal wind during installation,” Bauer said.

Several Omaha firms were involved in the signage project. They included:
•HDR, which completed the design for the signage;
•Architectural Wall Systems, which locally manufactured and assembled the sign frame;
•ASI Signs, which fabricated the lettering; and
•Christensen House Moving, which transported the signs to the UNMC/Nebraska Medicine campus.

Here are some other quick facts about the signs:
• The signs weigh 8,000 lbs. each. In addition, there is another 1,400 pounds of weight in the associated rigging needed to put the signs in place.
•They are 36 feet long, 16 feet tall, and 13 feet deep.
•Lettering on the “BUFFETT” name on the signs is five feet tall and is visible from nearly a half-mile away.
•The signs are comprised of zinc panel cladding with aluminum frame and utilize energy efficient LED lighting.
•The signs were moved at midnight on Monday morning when traffic was minimal. They were transported from the Architectural Wall Systems facility.
•The signs are the largest fabricated by Architectural Wall Systems. They took approximately six weeks to assemble.

Nebraska’s 7th Annual Lymphoma Walk to be held April 23

by Vicky Cerino

Nebraska’s 7th annual Lymphoma Walk will be held Saturday, April 23, at Mahoney State Park. The free event, which is hosted by the Lymphoma Research Foundation, will begin at 10 a.m. with registration at 9 a.m. at the park pavilion.

Mahoney State Park is located just off I-80 at exit 426, between Omaha and Lincoln. Though the event is free, vehicles need to purchase a $5 park permit at the park gate.

The Lymphoma Walk is a fun-filled, non-competitive event that offers individuals and teams an opportunity to walk to support those whose lives have been touched by lymphoma. About 450 new cases of lymphoma are diagnosed in Nebraskans each year.

Proceeds from the walk will benefit Nebraskans through research grants and patient services. To date, $500,000 has been raised through walk participants and sponsors.

Honorary chairman of the walk is Mitch Osborn, high school activities director and boys head basketball coach in Harlan, Iowa. He was diagnosed in August 2014 with Mantle cell lymphoma. After six months of chemotherapy two days per month, he had a stem cell transplant in 2015.

“I want to do anything I can to help raise funds for research to find a cure for this blood disease,” Osborn said. “Nebraska Medicine has done so many great things for me that I want to help anyway I can.”

Those interested in participating can start a team, join a team, sign up as an individual or make a donation, by going to www.lymphoma.org/activeevents. At the bottom of the page, click “Find an Event,” then enter Nebraska. For more information, contact Martin Bast at (402) 559-6203, mbast@unmc.edu.

Strollers and friendly leashed pets are welcome. A free picnic will be held for all attendees following the walk. Lymphoma is a type of blood cancer that occurs when white blood cells that help protect the body from infection and disease begin behaving abnormally. Lymphomas are the 7th most common form of cancer and cause more than 300,000 deaths each year. Major sponsors include: WOWT, Union Pacific Railroad, the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Nebraska Medicine and Metro Credit Union. Those contributing in-kind donations are Hy-Vee, Starbucks, Bruegger’s Bagels, Krispy Kreme, Panera Bread, Dingman’s Collision Center, Kent Rung Productions and Candy Wrappers.

New U.S. News rankings released

by John Keenan, UNMC public relations

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UNMC’s primary care program is the fifth best in the country, placing in the top five for the second consecutive year, according to the 2017 ranking of the nation’s top graduate schools by U.S. News & World Report.

In other new rankings, the UNMC College of Pharmacy was ranked 25th in the nation, and the College of Allied Health Professions’ physical therapy program was ranked 28th. The last time U.S. News ranked the College of Pharmacy, in 2012, it was 32nd in the country. The physical therapy program also improved in the new rankings, moving from 34th in 2012 to 28th this year.

College of Nursing had three programs ranked: the Master’s of Nursing program was ranked 46th in the country, while the Doctor of Nurse Practitioner program was ranked 54th. UNMC was ranked 73rd in Online Graduate Nursing Programs. U.S. News also ranked UNMC 63rd in research.

U.S. News sent surveys to 170 medical schools to compile its primary care and research lists. It ranked 259 schools for master of nursing, 149 for DNP, 125 for pharmacy and 217 for physical therapy.

“I’m pleased to see in the latest U.S. News rankings that UNMC retains a position among the top primary care programs in the country,” said UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, M.D. “In addition, the new national rankings for the College of Pharmacy and the physical therapy program, as well as our nursing programs, reflect the dedication and hard work of their faculty and students. These rankings should provide us a point of pride, but we also will continue in our efforts to ensure that UNMC delivers world-class education in every aspect of its medical, health care and nursing programs.”

U.S. News does not re-rank every program every year. In rankings compiled in 2015 and 2014, UNMC’s physician assistant program was ranked 9th, public health was ranked 39th and the university was ranked 93rd in biological sciences.

“The continued ranking of our primary care and physician assistant programs among the best in the country, as well as the improved rankings of our pharmacy and physical therapy programs, is a strong indication of the ongoing commitment and dedication of our faculty and staff to providing the best training opportunities to our students,” said Dele Davies, M.D., vice chancellor for academic affairs. “We are constantly striving to innovate in educational and clinical opportunities that enable us to help meet the health needs of all segments of the population.”

For information on the ranking methodology, click here.

Diabetes drug may prevent stroke/heart attacks in people with insulin resistance

Fayad07121Pierre Fayad, M.D.

Pioglitazone, a drug used for type 2 diabetes, may prevent recurrent stroke and heart attacks in people with insulin resistance but without diabetes.

The results of the Insulin Resistance Intervention after Stroke (IRIS) trial, presented at the International Stroke Conference last month in Los Angeles and published in the New England Journal of Medicine, suggest a potential new method to prevent stroke and heart attack in high-risk patients who have already had one stroke or transient ischemic attack.

Pierre Fayad, M.D., professor in the University of Nebraska Medical Center Department of Neurological Sciences, and medical director, Nebraska Stroke Center, was the local principal investigator at UNMC in this large, international study, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).

“This is really exciting news,” Dr. Fayad said. “This is the first medication that has been shown to decrease the risk of stroke and heart disease in individuals at high risk for diabetes.”

The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).

The IRIS trial is the first study to provide evidence that a drug targeting cell metabolism may prevent secondary strokes and heart attacks even before diabetes develops. Insulin regulates metabolism and keeps blood sugar levels from getting too high, along with many other processes, in the body. Insulin resistance is a condition in which the body produces insulin but does not use it effectively.

“This study represents a novel approach to prevent recurrent vascular events by reversing a specific metabolic abnormality thought to increase the risk for future heart attack or stroke,” said Walter Koroshetz, M.D., director of the NINDS.

“The IRIS trial supports the value of more research to test the vascular benefits of other interventions such as exercise, diet and medications that have similar effects on metabolism as pioglitazone,” said Walter Kernan, M.D. professor of general medicine at Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Conn., and lead author of the study. Dr. Kernan was featured in a UNMC Today story when he visited UNMC in 2009.

Close to 4,000 patients from seven countries who had experienced an ischemic stroke or transient ischemic attack within the previous six months were randomized to receive pioglitazone or placebo for up to five years in addition to standard care. The UNMC/Nebraska Medicine study site enrolled a total of 49 patients from Nebraska and Iowa, ranking as the 11th highest enrolling site in the United States.

Ischemic stroke and transient ischemic attacks can occur when a cerebral blood vessel becomes blocked, cutting off the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to brain tissue.

In this study, stroke or heart attack occurred in 9 percent of participants taking pioglitazone and 11.8 percent of patients on placebo, which was a relative decrease of 24 percent. The results suggest that 28 strokes or heart attacks may be prevented for every 1,000 patients who take pioglitazone for up to five years.

Insulin resistance is a hallmark of type 2 diabetes but also occurs in more than 50 percent of people with ischemic stroke who do not have diabetes. People with diabetes are known to have increased risk of stroke.

Previous research suggested that insulin resistance increases risk for stroke, but the IRIS trial was the first to treat it and suggested that the therapy reduced the risk of recurrent stroke and heart attacks. However, pioglitazone is not FDA-approved for the uses studied in the IRIS trial.

In this study, pioglitazone also reduced the risk of diabetes by 52 percent in the study participants.

The study evidenced an additional known side effect of the drug, which is an increased risk of bone fractures. To help doctors and patients choose the best strategy for preventing recurring strokes, future studies will attempt to identify a person’s risk of bone fractures due to pioglitazone. As approved for use in medical practice, the drug also carries additional side effects.

“More research is needed to determine the mechanisms by which pioglitazone decreases risk for stroke and heart attack and increases bone fracture risk, with the hope of developing strategies that maximize benefit and minimize serious side effects in our patients,” said Dr. Kernan.

This work was supported by the NINDS (NS04486).

The NINDS is the nation’s leading funder of research on the brain and nervous system. The mission of NINDS is to seek fundamental knowledge about the brain and nervous system and to use that knowledge to reduce the burden of neurological disease.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

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