Local News

IU Medical School, Health System Announce $150 Million Research Initiative

The Indiana University School of Medicine and IU Health hospital system are launching an unprecedented $150 million research collaboration.

Each institution is putting up $75 million for the five year effort, called the Strategic Research Initiative.

The research will focus on cancer, heart disease and neuroscience.

“The endpoint is really to develop personalized medicine and to take model discoveries out of our laboratories and into the clinic,” said Dr. David Wilkes (above), executive associate dean for research affairs at the medical school.

Wilkes says there will be particular emphasis on the genetics of cardiovascular disease, neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s and autism and the development of new cancer drugs.

Wilkes says the initiative also will allow the two entities to attract new high level researchers and more grant money.

(Photo courtesy of IU School of Medicine)

Local News

Nesbitt: Many Louisvillians Face Health Problems From Smoking, Weight

The director of the Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness has delivered an assessment of the health of Louisville citizens and some strategies for improvement.

Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt has been studying the city’s health statistics—the latest available are from 2009.

Nesbitt says the smoking rate among Louisville adults was almost 24 percent, down slightly from previous years but still well above the national average. And nearly two-thirds of Louisville adults were overweight or obese.

Nesbitt says, among other things, she plans to work with the Metro Housing Authority
on smoke-free policies in public housing, and with the Mayor’s Healthy Hometown movement on nutrition and disease prevention programs.

She also wants to hear from citizens about the health care services they receive.

“And understanding if we have a match of the services that are available with the community need. And the best way for us to do that is to go directly to the community and understand why they’re seeking care in the way that they are, or not seeking care,” she said.

The department has scheduled four public meetings this month:

Each meeting will begin at 6:00 p.m. and will last for approximately one hour.

Tuesday, March 13
NIA Center, 2900 W. Broadway

Thursday, March 15
Southwest Government Center, 7219 Dixie Hwy.

Tuesday, March 27
Worthington Fire Station #1

9514 Featherbell Blvd.

(in Norton Commons)

Prospect, KY

Wednesday, March 28
Okolona Branch of Louisville Free Public Library

7709 S. Preston Hwy.

Thursday, March 29
Greater Louisville Medical Society, 101 W. Chestnut St. (This meeting is targeted to physicians, leaders of community based organizations and business leaders and is cosponsored by the Greater Louisville Medical Society.)

Kentucky Author Forum

The Future of Cancer Treatments with Siddhartha Mukherjee, M.D.

Siddhartha Mukherjee, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Medical Oncology at Columbia University, and a staff cancer physician at Columbia University Medical Center, has devoted his life to caring for cancer patients. As a researcher, he runs a laboratory on the forefront of discovering new cancer drugs for leukemia and mylodysplasia.  He spoke about his work at the Kentucky Author Forum on Oct. 13, 2011, with Harvard University’s David Scadden, M.D., conducting the interview.

Dr. Mukherjee’s book, The Emperor of All Maladies, details the evolution of diagnosis and treatment of human cancers from ancient Egypt to the latest developments in chemotherapy and targeted therapy. Approaching the subject with the passion of a biographer and the story-telling skill of a novelist, he includes personal observations about his own coming of age as a physician. Oprah Magazine listed it as one of the “Top 10 Books of 2010”. It was also listed in “The 10 Best Books of 2010” by The New York Times and “The Top 10 Nonfiction Books” by Time.

In 2011 The Emperor of All Maladies won the Pulitzer Prize in the general non-fiction category. His debut book was also nominated as a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist, one of the most prestigious prizes for writing in the U.S. Time named Dr. Mukherjee in its “100 Most Influential People” list for 2011, along with artists, politicians and scientists.

The full conversation from the Kentucky Author Forum is presented below.

Audio MP3
Contest Events Kentucky Author Forum

Win tickets to see Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee at Kentucky Author Forum

WFPL is proud to sponsor the University of Louisville’s Kentucky Author Forum presentation of Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee and Dr. David Scadden on October 13th at the Kentucky Center. Dr. Mukherjee is a Professor of Medicine at Columbia University, staff physician at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City and the author of The Emperor of All Maladies: a Biography of Cancer.

Update:  Congratulations to Charlene Sexton.  She has won two tickets to the KAF interview and dinner with Dr. Mukherjee.  If you’d like to attend, you can still purchase tickets at the Kentucky Center.

If you would like to win tickets to the interview and dinner with Dr. Mukherjee and an autographed copy of his book, just email us your name, phone number, and address. We’ll draw a name and post the winner here on Monday, October 10th at Noon.

Read our contest policy

Local News

Downtown Cancer Center to Open Next Week

Officials have cut the ribbon on a new cancer treatment facility in downtown Louisville.

The Norton Cancer Center at Floyd and Broadway has been under construction since January 2010. It will open next week and is capable of providing aggressive radiation treatments on adults and children. The center will undoubtedly see a large number of patients, given the area’s generally poor health.

“Each year some 24,000 Kentuckians are diagnosed with cancer. That’s about 66 each day,” Norton President Steve Williams. “Nearly 10,000 people die from this disease. Kentucky ranks 49th out of 50 states with its current rate of adult smokers, meaning our cancer rate and mortality will continue to be a real challenge.”

The three-story center cost $26.4 million. Two more floors can be added in the future as treatment and research technology advances.

State of Affairs

Colon Cancer

STATE OF AFFAIRS 03/08/11:  Recent statistics list Louisville as the fourth highest city in the nation for colon cancer deaths. Estimates are that 60% of current colon cancer deaths could be prevented with regular screening, but not all who are at-risk are regularly screened. We’ll talk to medical professionals and a colon cancer survivor from the Colon Cancer Prevention Project about causes, treatments, and prevention.

Audio MP3
Local News Politics

Doctors From U of L Cancer Center To Visit Frankfort To Discuss Tobacco Dangers

A group of Louisville-based doctors is trying to raise awareness among lawmakers about the dangers of tobacco.

Surgeons and specialists from the James Graham Brown Cancer Center will travel to Frankfort Tuesday to offer information and free oral cancer screenings outside of the capitol.

Thoracic surgeon Victor Van Berkel hopes lawmakers will be inspired to act to limit tobacco use.

“Currently we lead the nation in both tobacco-related cancers as well as the percentage of adults who smoke and use tobacco products and anything we can do to curtail that, I think will be beneficial to our population as a whole,” he says.

Van Berkel says the group isn’t lobbying for any specific legislation, but they do support a statewide indoor smoking ban, similar to the law currently on the books in Louisville.

State of Affairs

African Americans & Cancer

STATE OF AFFAIRS 01/12/11:  This week, Kentucky African Americans Against Cancer celebrates its 20th anniversary. Their mission is to reduce the impact of cancer on the community – African Americans have the highest cancer mortality rate of any racial and ethnic group. This Wednesday we’ll learn about what factors contribute to poorer outcomes for black cancer patients and what healthcare professionals are doing to decrease the incidence of cancer in the African American community – and increase survival rates for those who do get the disease.

Audio MP3
Local News

U Of L Receives Grant For Palliative Care

The National Institutes of Health has awarded a 1.5 million dollar grant to the University of Louisville for a new oncology program.

The program focuses on palliative care, which combines medicine, nursing, social work and religious education to provide broad care for cancer patients. Students in each discipline will be required to take new courses in palliative medicine so they can better work together to treat patients.

“Palliative medicine includes, but is not limited to, the traditional view of end-of-life care and hospice work. Palliative care starts the day of cancer diagnosis for all patients, focusing on the alleviation of symptoms in the bio, psychosocial, and spiritual realms,” says U of L Chief Medical Officer Mark Pfeifer. “It meets [patients] at their symptoms, their goals, their worries, their environment, their family. It combines everything, then, from advanced, invasive pharmaceutical procedures, to prayer and music.”

The grant will be paid out over five years as the program is developed.

“For the first year, we’ll be working on specific design details and complex curricular changes for the students. In years two, three, and four, we will implement the new model. And in year five, we will evaluate, refine and disseminate the program,” says Pfeifer.

Pfeifer says some palliative treatments are performed at U of L, but doctors, social workers, nurses and chaplains are not currently required to train together.

Local News

Norton Chosen For National Cancer Institute Program

The Norton Cancer Institute has been chosen by the National Cancer Institute to become a Community Cancer Center.

Norton Vice President of Research and Prevention Dr. Sandra Brooks says among other services, the Community Cancer Center Program will help Norton reach out to people who have generally not been able to access cancer screenings or treatments.

“Those individuals who have less than a high school education, those individuals who are racial or ethnic minorities, the elderly, those who live in rural populations, those who are uninsured,” she says. “The cancers that occur most commonly in the Commonwealth, there are proven methods of early detection and treatment. So our challenge is to reach into those populations and identify the people who do need screenings and navigate them through the process.”

Norton will receive a $1.6 million, two-year contract for the Community Cancer Center. Norton is the only site chosen in Kentucky for the program, and is one of 14 new sites added to the program with federal stimulus dollars. There are a total of 30 Community Cancer Centers in the country.