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Faculty and Staff Recognitions Archive

Jennifer GermainThe DoM Clinical Research Core would like to thank Jennifer Germain who will be leaving UMass Chan at the end of this month. Jennifer served as the Director of Clinical Operations for the Clinical Research Core since its inception. She has been crucial in supporting clinical trial development, staffing, and regulatory guidance, and has served as a tremendous leader and mentor for the clinical research coordinators throughout the department.

The Core team wishes Jennifer all the best in her future position with Beth Israel Lahey Health Network. 

David Smelson, PsyD, professor of medicine in the Division of Health Systems Science, has been awarded a 2024 National Institutes of Health HEAL Initiative Award for Mentorship. The NIH HEAL Award for Mentorship recognizes HEAL-funded researchers who demonstrate exceptional commitment to the development and mentorship of early career scientists in the pain and addiction research fields. Dr. Smelson was awarded this honor for his commitment to creating a supportive environment, demonstrating integrity, and commitment to inclusion and diversity to help prepare researchers to become mentors in the future.  

We congratulate Dr. Smelson on this honor.

Learn more.

In an Opinion article, published in Trends in Immunology earlier this month, Stefania Gallucci, MD, professor of medicine in the Division of Innate Immunity and faculty in the Program in Innate Immunity, proposes that extracellular DNA (eDNA), a crucial component of the matrix of most biofilms, is a universal ID (identity card) that the immune system uses to recognize biofilms.  

Most bacteria can form biofilms which are complex fortresses against a hostile environment. Recurrent and chronic infections are associated with forming biofilms that are resistant to antibiotics and pose a major challenge in treating recalcitrant bacterial infections.  

Understanding whether and how the immune system recognizes the presence of biofilms is important so that we can improve therapeutic approaches to biofilm-carrying infections.  

Read the full publication.

Fiachra Humphries, PhDFiachra Humphries, PhD, recently had his study titled, “ECSIT Facilitates Memory CD8+ T Cell Development by Mediating Fumarate Synthesis During Viral Infection and Tumorigenesis,” published in Nature Cell Biology. The study focuses on how certain immune cells, called memory CD8+ T cells, help the body fight against tumors. Dr. Humphries and his team discovered a protein called ECSIT that is crucial for the formation of memory CD8+ T cells and helps produce a substance called fumarate inside T cells, which activates a specific gene program controlled by a protein called TCF-1.  

Dr. Humphries and his team also found that higher levels of ECSIT in T cells are associated with a particular type of memory CD8+ T cells and cancer patients with higher levels of ECSIT tend to have better survival rates. When the team restored the levels of fumarate in T cells that lacked ECSIT using fumarate-based therapeutics, the T cells regained their ability to fight tumors effectively. This finding suggests that fumarate-based treatments could be used to enhance the function of CD8+ T cells in the tumor environment and improve the effectiveness of checkpoint immunotherapy, a type of cancer treatment. 

Read the full publication.

Jay-Hyuck Shim, PhDJay-Hyuck Shim, PhD, associate professor of medicine in the Division of Rheumatology, along with his co-PI, Julia Alterman, PhD of RNA Therapeutics, has received a Pilot Project Program award from the UMass Center for Clinical and Translational Science for their project titled, “Development of a Novel RNA Interference as a Therapeutic Agent for Rheumatoid Arthritis.”

For their project, they aim to develop a novel siRNA-based therapy that suppresses inflammation in Rheumatoid Arthritis while promoting the healing of inflammation-induced bone loss. Specifically, Dr. Shim’s work will focus on the development of a bone-anabolic siRNA that targets endogenous bone-forming suppressor Schnurri-3 and an anti-inflammatory siRNA that targets interleukin-1 signaling. 

Lara Kovell, MDLara Kovell, MD, recently received a K23 award from the National Institutes of Health’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to study the development of a mobile health intervention for blood pressure management in pregnancy. Dr. Kovell aims to develop the digital health approach, “Moms@Home”, to support home blood pressure monitoring for women with hypertension during pregnancy. Using this approach, Dr. Kovell will work to improve the quality and cultural relevance of hypertension care by examining the effects of Moms@Home on home blood pressure monitoring in a diverse population of pregnant women with hypertension. 

Dr. Kovell will be joined by experienced mentors on the study including David McManus, MD, ScM, the Richard M. Haidack Professor of Medicine, chair, and professor of medicine in the Department of Medicine, and other faculty at UMass Chan.  

Fiachra Humphries, PhDFiachra Humphries, PhD, assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Innate Immunity and faculty in the Program in Innate Immunity, Rigel Chan, MD of Neurology, and Elaine Lim, PhD of Genomics & Computational Biology, have received pilot funding from the PolyBio Research Foundation.

The study team plans to investigate the potential connection and impact of long COVID on neurodegenerative disease. Specifically, the team will work to determine the relationship between the herpes virus and Alzheimer’s Disease to identify new strategies for limiting viral replication and developing treatments for severe COVID-19.

Learn more.

Roberto Caricchio, MDRoberto Caricchio, MD, the Myles J. McDonough Chair in Rheumatology, chief of the Division of Rheumatology, co-director of the Lupus Center, and professor of medicine, recently received a $1.2 million award from the Lupus Research Alliance to support the development of a biorepository and registry at the Lupus Center at UMass Chan. The Lupus Landmark Study and research biorepository, Lupus Nexus, was launched by the Lupus Research Alliance and its clinical research affiliate Lupus Therapeutics, with UMass Chan being one of the first seven to participate. As a contributor to the design of the repository, Dr. Caricchio aims to enroll enough patients to provide sufficient materials for scientists and clinical investigators to pursue projects that will result in a better understanding of the disease.

"Lupus is a very diverse disease from a clinical point of view and from a human point of view. Unfortunately, many lupus patients don't respond to approved medications. We need to take care of those patients and understand why they're not responding to treatment. That's why these biorepositories are so important," said Dr. Caricchio.

Read the full article.

Irina RaduThis month, we feature Irina Radu, MD, MHA, as our Postdoc Spotlight. Dr. Radu is a postdoctoral research fellow in the lab of Dr. Khanh-Van Tran in the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine and co-president of the UMass Chan Postdoctoral Association.

"To me, UMass Chan has proven to be the ideal environment for growth—a place where you can find support for your innovative ideas and where you can transform dreams into reality."

Read the full spotlight.

Mingqi DongThis month in our Graduate Student Spotlight, we feature Mingqi Dong, a student in the Fitzgerald lab and the Immunology and Microbiology Program at UMass Chan. 

"I’m currently studying the cellular and molecular landscape changes in the brain when a fundamental antiviral pathway in microglia goes rogue. Hopefully, in the future, I can contribute to the therapeutic development for patients with neurological diseases by applying the skills and knowledge I gained at UMass."

Read the full spotlight.

Lara KovellIn this month’s Researcher Spotlight, we highlight physician-scientist, Lara Kovell, MD, an associate professor of medicine in the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine. Dr. Kovell’s work focuses on implementing evidence-based interventions, grounded in culturally relevant practices, to prevent and treat cardiovascular disease in women. Specifically, the long-term goal of her research is to improve care and outcomes for pregnant women with hypertension. Dr. Kovell also serves as the director of the Internal Medicine Residency Research Track and is the inaugural director of the Women’s Pregnancy and Heart Disease Clinic.  

"We have worked with many incredible women in the Worcester community, who have been willing to share their own stories about their own devastating complications related to hypertension and preeclampsia. Their selfless dedication to support others impacted by hypertension and our research inspires and fuels me to continue this work to improve the care of hypertension in pregnancy."

Read the full spotlight.

Pulmonary Care at UMass Memorial Health has been ranked as one of the best in their specialty area in a new ranking out last week from Healthgrades. Healthgrades ranked hospitals in 32 states in 18 specialties to determine the Specialty State Rankings. Congratulations to the Pulmonary team! 

Read the full article.

Christopher Marshall, MD, clinical chief, and assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology, was featured in an article by Everyday Health titled, “What Should I Cook if I Have Heartburn?” In the article, Dr. Marshall and other contributors discuss ways to adjust eating habits to lower the risk of heartburn. He explains that an important first step to minimize heartburn is identifying individual triggers, as different foods can trigger heartburn for different people. He adds that one common cause of heartburn is fatty foods, as the fat can coax stomach acid into the esophagus, causing discomfort.  

“If someone says they eat a big greasy meal and they get heartburn, the first thing they can do is not do that,” said Dr. Marshall. 

Read the full article.

Samir Malkani, MD, clinical chief and professor of medicine, and Amin Sabet, MD, assistant professor of medicine, of the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism, were featured in yesterday’s Boston 25 News report, “Weight-Loss Wonder Drugs: Mass. Doctors Explain Who Should be Really Taking Them.”  

Drs. Malkani and Sabet discussed the growing popularity of medications such as Ozempic, originally introduced for diabetes, but later proven to assist with weight loss. They explained that although taking these drugs can lead to significant weight loss, all of the medications have risks and potential side effects that need to be discussed with patients.  

“I don’t have a hesitation of prescribing it as long as the person really understands what it’s all about and what the effects could be,” said Dr. Sabat. “It’s a very exciting field. People who didn’t have a lot of great options before, we’re seeing great options for them.”

Watch the report.

The Division of Health Systems Science is pleased to announce that as of January 1, 2024, Mitch Gitkind, MD, professor of medicine and surgery, and assistant dean for GME quality and patient safety education, will be serving in the role of Interim Advisor for Health Systems Science Education and Quality Scholarship.Through this role, Dr. Gitkind will assist in expanding Health Systems Science education-related opportunities at the undergraduate, graduate, and faculty levels at UMass Chan. Dr. Gitkind received his medical degree from UMass Chan Medical School and completed his internship and residency at the Memorial Campus of UMass Memorial Medical Center (UMMMC) (formerly known as Worcester Memorial Hospital). He completed a fellowship in gastroenterology through Tufts University School of Medicine. His current clinical focus is obesity medicine and bariatric surgery.  

He has held multiple positions in hospital administration at UMMMC, including associate chief quality officer and associate chief medical officer. He is an experienced educator, having mentored over 100 quality improvement projects for faculty and trainees, and has developed and delivered curriculum on QI, patient safety, conflict resolution, and clinical topics. In 2017, Dr. Gitkind became an assistant dean, and assumed responsibility for the development and support of QI, patient safety, and health care disparities curriculum for the school’s more than 600 residents and fellows in ACGME-approved programs. From 2019 through 2023, he was part of the leadership team that oversaw the creation of “Vista,” a new three-pillar undergraduate medical education curriculum that added health systems science to the T.H. Chan School of Medicine’s MD programs.  

Congratulations Dr. Gitkind on this new role!

Sunita Puri, MD, MS, associate professor of medicine and program director of the hospice and palliative medicine fellowship, and Stacy E. Potts, MD, MEd, professor of family medicine and community health and senior associate dean for graduate medical education and clinical affairs, will be leading a new pilot training program where residents and fellows can build competence and confidence in discussions of apology and disclosure, to improve patient safety. The new training program is one of the six recipients of the 2024 Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation Catalyst Award for Transformation in Graduate Medical Education and is expected to start in May 2024. 

Read the full article.

Each year the Primary Care Track of the Internal Medicine Residency holds an off-campus retreat for residents to learn about and discuss a topic of particular importance and relevance to their training. This full-day event is a unique opportunity for them to step outside the clinical setting to engage in meaningful dialogue together and with invited speakers. This year’s retreat, to be held in March, will focus on gender-affirming care. 

Elizabeth Murphy, MD, program director of the Primary Care Track and associate professor of medicine in the Division of General Internal Medicine, is organizing the retreat and chose this topic for a variety of reasons. “I've had residents in the past who have told me that [a patient] opened up to them in a visit and said, ‘I want to live my life as a different gender,’ and they were afraid or didn't know what to say or do,” said Dr. Murphy. “We want to make sure that our residents, if presented with this situation, can provide care that is supportive and warm—and even if they don't have all the answers, they know where to go to find them. That’s my main goal.”  

This year’s retreat will feature Stephen Dunn, DO, a graduate of the Internal Medicine Residency at UMass Chan, primary care physician, and director of medical education at Fenway Health in Boston, who will speak about primary care for  LGBTQI patients including health screening for transgender patients and prescribing hormones to transgender patients. Speakers will also include patients and family members, Joy Lee, PhD, a researcher from PQHS, and Nadine Smith, a speech and language pathologist who cares for transgender patients. Dr. Murphy is currently working to finalize additional guest speakers including physicians, researchers, and other members of the UMass Chan/UMMH community. 

As she plans this day, Dr. Murphy is grateful for the support she has received from leadership in the Department of Medicine, in particular, Deborah Blazey-Martin, MD, MPH, vice chair for ambulatory affairs in the Department of Medicine, chief of General Internal Medicine, and associate professor of medicine. “Dr. Blazey-Martin has been incredibly supportive as we build this program into the track,” said Dr. Murphy. 

Dr. Murphy is passionate about gender-affirming care in her roles as a physician, educator, and advocate but, most importantly, in her role as an aunt. “One of the reasons that I'm so interested in this is that I have a transgender niece, and before I experienced her transition, this was extremely foreign to me,” said Dr. Murphy. “I watched my niece be so sad as the little boy that she was born as and always knowing that she was a girl… and [now that she has transitioned] is a spectacularly beautiful person in all aspects. For me, that was the most transformative thing. If I can help other providers who have not experienced the positive impact when someone can safely and effectively transition, then that is an important goal for me.” 

In late 2023, Geriatric Medicine welcomed its first ambulatory physician lead (APL), Linsey Barker, DO, to help guide the geriatric clinic as its team continues to grow. Dr. Barker, a clinician and assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Geriatric Medicine, enthusiastically took on this new role, and aims to help strengthen processes by thinking creatively and working collaboratively with all members of the clinic.  

“[The geriatrics clinic] is very much a team-based model. We recognize that when we are caring for older adult patients who may have more medical complexity and other things that need to be taken into consideration, we need to take a team-based approach,” said Dr. Barker. “Having just started recently at UMass, I am still figuring out processes, but I am excited. I work [in the clinic] regularly and get to see what works well and maybe areas where we could continue to improve upon, especially as our group is growing.” 

Dr. Barker also recognizes and is appreciative of the wealth of knowledge and experience that surrounds her as she establishes herself in her practice and as the clinic’s first APL. “A lot of my colleagues have been here for a while and really know what's worked before and what hasn't, so it is great to be able to have conversations with them and get their feedback.”  

Dr. Barker’s passion for her work as a geriatrician and team-based care was seeded early in her medical training and flourished during her internal medicine residency at UMass Chan. Although her intention was always to pursue a career in geriatric medicine, Dr. Barker’s interests grew while rotating with the geriatrics group. In the clinic, she spent time learning from and working with Dr. Erika Zimmons. She was also able to work with Dr. Jerry Gurwitz on various research projects. “[Dr. Gurwitz] was a great mentor and strongly advocated for me to pursue a career in geriatrics,” said Dr. Barker.  

After Dr. Barker completed her chief residency, she chose to pursue her fellowship training at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston so that she could experience how geriatric medicine was practiced in an environment with a different patient population. Her training there enriched her learning and broadened her perspectives, which she hopes to incorporate as she establishes her practice in Worcester. As Dr. Barker embarks upon her career and new role as APL, she is excited for what the future holds. “I'm always trying to think about ways that we could think differently or get creative, so I’m very excited to be in this role.” 

Dr. Barker earned her medical degree at the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine. She completed her internal medicine residency and chief residency in internal medicine at UMass Chan Medical School and her fellowship in geriatric medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Dr. Barker joined the faculty at UMass Chan/UMass Memorial Health in August 2023.  

In this month’s Resident Spotlight, we highlight Anna Gubala, MD, a third-year Internal Medicine resident on the research track. Here, Dr. Gubala describes her research interests, her involvement with different groups and activities at UMass Chan, and her favorite activities in the Worcester area. 

"UMass Chan is a great place to train for residency because of the supportive and wonderful community of residents and physicians, as well as the high clinical volume and sick patients."

Read Dr. Gubala's full spotlight.

In this month’s Fellowship Spotlight, we highlight Qadija Qadri, MD, an Infectious Diseases and Immunology fellow. Here, Dr. Qadri describes her clinical and research interests, why she chose UMass for her fellowship, and why New England is her favorite vacation spot!  

"UMass is a leading institution providing fellows with an opportunity for outstanding experiences. Training at the medical center offers exposure to a diverse patient population and helps build a solid foundation in knowledge and clinical expertise."

Read Dr. Qadri's full spotlight.

Brigid Carlson, MD, is a clinician and assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine who sees inpatient and outpatient populations in the UMass Memorial Health system. Her inpatient work focuses on cardiac critical care, and in her outpatient cardiology clinics, she sees a full spectrum of patients on the University campus and at Shrewsbury Internal Medicine. We recently had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Carlson, learn more about her work as a cardiologist, and, in alignment with February’s American Heart Health Month, pick up some important tips for improving heart health for ourselves and our families. 

“I think that a lot of times with diet and healthy food choices, [physicians] talk about things to avoid. I tell my patients to try to have five fruits or vegetables in a day, so rather than thinking, ‘I can't have that’ which can be discouraging and hard to maintain, I ask them to make sure that they’ve prioritized healthy foods first.” 

Read Dr. Carlson's full spotlight.

Congratulations to Jeffrey Stoff, MD, Professor Emeritus of the Department of Medicine and chief of Renal Medicine, on his retirement! Friends, family, and colleagues gathered to celebrate and show their gratitude to Dr. Stoff on Thursday, February 1. We wish him the very best in his future endeavors!

Happy New Year from the DoM Clinical Research Core. If you are interested in learning more about the services that are offered through the Core or would like to submit a request for assistance, please visit our website.

We look forward to working with you in 2024!  

Apurv Soni, MD, PhD, assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Health Systems Science, Clinical Informatics Section, and a co-director in the Program in Digital Medicine, was recently featured in Scientific American. In the article titled, “Do Fainter Lines on Home COVID Tests Mean You’re Getting Better?”, Dr. Soni and other contributors discuss COVID-19 tests and their ability to indicate the severity of the infection. They explain that the darker the lines appear on a COVID test, the more infection is present. However, tests that show fainter lines are said to contain fewer antigens, meaning the virus is less present in the body. Dr. Soni notes that human error is an important part of how much we can learn by looking at the intensity of tests. He further explains that carefully swabbing for a sample would collect more antigens, therefore producing a clearer result. From there, the patient can interpret whether their infection is more or less severe. 

Learn more.

Timothy P. Fitzgibbons, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine in the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, was interviewed in a Boston Globe article titled, “Two People Have Died After Drinking Panera’s ‘Charged’ Beverages. Is Marketing to Blame?”. The article describes Panera’s newest caffeinated drinks and the dangers they pose to customers with preexisting health conditions. Two customers died after consuming the drinks, both with preexisting health conditions. "I’m almost certain they didn’t realize how much caffeine was in the beverage,” stated Dr. Fitzgibbons. He continued that the amount of caffeine in the “charged” beverages is too much, even for a person without any underlying health conditions.

Learn more.

During January and February, the Annals of Internal Medicine is highlighting a list of the most influential articles published in 2023. Included, is the July 2023 article, “Performance of Rapid Antigen Tests to Detect Symptomatic and Asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 Infection – A Prospective Cohort Study,” by investigators in the Department of Medicine and the Program in Digital Medicine, colleagues from the Departments of Emergency Medicine, Microbiology and Physiological Systems, and Population and Quantitative Health Sciences at UMass Chan, the UMass Center for Clinical & Translational Science, and collaborators from Northwestern University, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, as well as government and industry.

The study evaluated the performance of rapid antigen tests for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 in symptomatic and asymptomatic participants and included over 7,000 participants from throughout the United States. Investigators found that the performance of rapid antigen tests were optimized when asymptomatic participants tested three times and when symptomatic participants tested two times, both at 48-hour intervals.

Authors from the Department of Medicine and/or Program in Digital Medicine included Apurv Soni, MD, PhD, Honghuang Lin, PhD, Biqi Wang, PhD, David D. McManus, MD, ScM, Laura Gibson, MD, Nisha Fahey, DO, ScM, and Laurel O’Connor, MD.

“…COVID-19 seemed to settle into its endemic period, no longer dominating the news or our pages but still inspiring science to move forward with better understanding of treatments, long-term effects of infection, and mitigation strategies,” said Christine Laine, MD, MPH, editor and chief of Annals of Internal Medicine. 

Congratulations to all who were involved in this study! 

Learn more.

Harris Feldman, MD, a postdoctoral research fellow in the Program in Digital Medicine under the mentorship of Apurv Soni, MD, PhD, has been selected as the 2024 TL1 Postdoctoral Trainee for his project titled, “Characterization of Inflammatory Bowel Disease Flares using Electronic Medical Record and Home-based Collection of Data and Identifying Multimodal Predictors of Flares.”

This award, issued by the UMass Center for Clinical & Translational Science, will assist Dr. Feldman as he furthers his training in digital medicine and Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

Learn more about the TL1 training award.

Stefania Gallucci, MD, professor of medicine in the Division of Innate Immunity, recently received R21 funding from the NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, for her project titled, “Reprogramming of the Innate Immunometabolism by Bacterial Biofilms.” 

In this project, Dr. Gallucci will explore the innate immune response against bacterial biofilms through the characterization of the transcriptional and metabolic changes occurring in dendritic cells (DC) upon recognition of bacterial amyloids. She hopes to reveal new metabolic pathways as novel therapeutic candidates, starting with the purine pathway, an understudied pathway in DC biology, to strengthen innate responses against biofilm-driven infections.

Lisa Cavacini, PhD, professor of medicine in the Division of Innate Immunity, was recently awarded funding from the Department of Defense, for her project, “Preclinical Development of an Oral Nanobody Prophylactic to Prevent Diarrheal Disease.” Her project focuses on Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC), the leading bacterial cause of diarrhea-associated illness in developing countries. Those most at risk for ETEC infection are infants and young children, as well as travelers to endemic countries, including military personnel. It is estimated by the World Health Organization that yearly ETEC causes about 220 million episodes of diarrhea globally. Infection occurs when the bacteria colonizes the host small intestine and then produces toxins that stimulate the lining of the small intestine to secrete excessive fluid, leading to watery diarrhea. According to Dr. Cavacini, recent studies suggest that effective protection against ETEC may be achieved by inducing immunity to bacterial fimbrial adhesins, which are proteins that facilitate adhesion of the bacteria to the intestinal lining. Dr. Cavacini additionally notes that the major difficulty in creating an adhesin-based vaccine is the diversity of ETEC strains and despite years of effort by the military, there still is no licensed vaccine against any pathogenic ETEC strains.

With this grant, Dr. Cavacini and her team propose an alternative, and complementary, approach in oral, pre-exposure prophylaxis with novel IgA antibodies that are active against all major pathogenic ETEC strains. The team has established the proof of concept in nonhuman primates with a strain specific secretory IgA antibody. More recently, she and her team have discovered a panel of unique nanobodies or VHH antibodies that have significant cross-protective activity. The goal of the project is to develop these nanobodies as IgA proteins which are stable, long-lasting, and administered orally to prevent ETEC infection. Additionally, the project will address an unprecedented medical need of ETEC prophylactic measures and potentially impact thousands of people worldwide, while contributing to the decreasing rates of morbidity and mortality caused by ETEC each year. 

David McManus, MD, ScM, the Richard M. Haidack Professor of Medicine and chair in the Department of Medicine, recently received T32 funding from the NIH's National Heart, Blood, and Lung Institute for his project titled, “CardiOvascular Digital hEalth Research (CODER) Training Program.” The CODER T32 training program aims to develop postdoctoral investigators with expertise in cardiovascular digital health by bringing together highly skilled and collaborative training faculty from multiple disciplines, with the ultimate goal of developing and equitably implementing novel digital health solutions that improve the diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disorders. 

CODER is a collaboration between the Departments of Medicine and Population and Quantitative Health Sciences, and leverages the diverse and progressive environment at UMass Chan Medical School to provide a dynamic transdisciplinary, translational research training infrastructure for postdoctoral fellows who aspire to be independent investigators and team scientists in digital health research, specifically for implementing novel solutions that will improve cardiovascular health in an equitable manner. The program supports collaboration among trainees at MD and PhD levels, bringing patient-oriented digital health researchers, community, population, and data scientists, together with bioinformatics experts and industry, to enhance and expedite advances in cardiovascular research.

Dr. McManus will co-direct this T32 training program with Dr. Ben Gerber, division chief of Health Informatics and Implementation Science in the Department of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences.

In this month’s Researcher Spotlight, we feature the work of Mayuko Ito Fukunaga, MD, MSc, a physician and assistant professor of medicine in the Divisions of Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care Medicine and Health Systems Science, and co-chair of the Cancer Screening Researcher Subcommittee at UMass Chan Medical School. Dr. Ito Fukunaga also serves as a task group member at the National Lung Cancer Roundtable.  

"My research is about healthcare delivery of lung cancer screening and involves primary care, radiology, pulmonary, population health and clinical informatics. I appreciate everyone’s support and mentoring across departments and disciplines. I particularly appreciate [the] primary care teams and lung cancer screening program for letting me do this type of research in real-world clinical settings."

Read Dr. Ito Fukunaga's full spotlight.

Trainees in the Internal Medicine Residency recently received their fellowship match results. Twelve of our 22 graduating Internal Medicine categorical residents elected to stay at UMass for fellowships including in Cardiovascular Medicine, Gastroenterology, Pulmonary and Critical Care, and Hematology/Oncology. We congratulate all the residents and wish them the very best in the next step of their training.

View the full list of matches.

In this month’s Fellowship Spotlight, we highlight Hima Doppalapudi, MD, a Renal Medicine fellow. Here, Dr. Doppalapudi describes her clinical interests, why she chose UMass for her fellowship, and her favorite vacation spot and activities.  

"During my fellowship interview, I felt right at home and knew this was where I wanted to complete my training. My attendings are approachable and the environment is perfect to develop our skills with ample autonomy with sufficient supervision."

Read Dr. Doppalapudi's full spotlight.

In this month’s Resident Spotlight, we highlight Joseph Daniel, DO, a second-year Internal Medicine resident on the Primary Care and Medical Education tracks. Here, Dr. Daniel describes his clinical and research interests, what makes UMass Chan a great place for residency, and his favorite spot to eat in Worcester. 

"UMass Chan is a great place to train for residency. The complexity and diversity of the patient population along with the education and mentorship available makes this residency special."

Read Dr. Daniel's full spotlight.

In this month’s Chair’s Spotlight, we highlight Shaoguang Li, MD, PhD, a scientist and professor of medicine in the Division of Hematology/Oncology. Last month we sat down with Dr. Li to learn more about his work and how he is studying artificial intelligence and its applications in other specialties to develop new, cutting-edge therapies for blood cancers.

"When you’re young and you experience your friends and your relatives getting cancer…you know you want to make an impact. It makes you feel like, ‘This is the field I want to be in.’ That is the real reason why I [chose to pursue a career in cancer research]."

Read Dr. Li's full spotlight.

The DoM Clinical Research Core would like to congratulate Kenneth Ralto, MD, clinical chief and assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Renal Medicine, and his study team for successfully enrolling its first subject in the VISIONARY clinical study. VISIONARY is a Phase III clinical trial to evaluate the efficacy of VIS649, an inhibitor of cytokine A PRoliferation Inducing Ligand (APRIL), for the treatment of IgA nephropathy (IgAN). The second subject is already scheduled to be screened in the upcoming weeks.  

If you would like to learn more about working with the DoM Clinical Research Core, please complete the intake form found at our website.

Raquel Binder, PhD, MPH, assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases and Immunology, was recently named a 2023 Mentored Career Development Training Program (KL2) scholar.

Under the mentorship of Ann Moormann, PhD, MPH, professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases and Immunology, Timothy Kowalik, PhD and Ana Maldonado-Contreras, PhD, of Microbiology and Physiological Systems, and Andres Colubri, MFA, PhD, of Genomics and Computational Biology, Dr. Binder’s project will focus on “Unraveling Respiratory Virus Transmission Dynamics among Latinx and Black Communities in MA.” 

Kristy Chiang, a PhD candidate in the labs of Drs. Kate Fitzgerald and Ann Marshak-Rothstein, and Kaiyuan Hao, a PhD candidate in the labs of Drs. Ann Rothstein and Michelle Kelliher, recently received awards for their research posters at the New England Immunology Conference earlier this month. Kristy’s poster titled, “Autoimmune interstitial lung disease is initiated by STING gain-of-function radioresistant cells,” and Kaiyuan’s poster titled, “TLR9 is required for the development of DNaseII deficiency-induced liver inflammation,” both received recognition at the annual conference. 

Kaiyuan Hao not pictured.

Read Pukkila-Worley, MD, associate professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases and Immunology and a faculty member in the Program in Innate Immunity, has been elected as a 2024 member of The American Society of Clinical Investigation. Dr. Pukkila-Worley is one of 100 Active and International Members to receive this honor. He will be officially inducted into the Society at the ASCI Dinner and New Member Induction Ceremony on April 5, 2024, as part of the AAP/ASCI/APSA Joint Meeting in Chicago, Illinois.

We congratulate Dr. Pukkila-Worley on this exciting honor and recognition of his contributions as a physician-scientist.

Learn more.

Shyam Patel, MD, PhD, assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Hematology/Oncology, recently had his work, “Prognostic Heterogeneity and Clonal Dynamics Within Distinct Subgroups of Myelodysplastic Syndrome and Acute Myeloid Leukemia with TP53 Disruptions” published in the eJHaem journal. Under the leadership of Jonathan Gerber, MD, Dr. Patel and his team explored the prognostic heterogeneity within various subsets of TP53-mutant myelodysplastic neoplasms (MDS) and acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and showed the impact of specific co-variates on clinical outcomes. Additionally, the team found that the actual disease label (“MDS” vs. “AML”) might not be as important for TP53-mutant myeloid neoplasms. “What is more important is the allelic state of TP53,” explained Dr. Patel. “We mapped clonal dynamics as a function of therapeutic intervention within multiple subgroups, which has implications for rational therapeutic design against TP53-mutant MDS/AML.” The findings of this study clarify the impact of specific covariates on outcomes of TP53-aderrant myeloid neoplasms, regardless of the diagnosis of MDS versus AML, and may influence hematopoietic cell transplant (HCT) decisions. 

Learn more.

Allan Walkey Co-Chairs Updates to the American Thoracic Society Guidelines on the Management of Adult Patients with Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome 

“An Update on Management of Adult Patients with Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome: An Official American Thoracic Society Clinical Practice Guideline” was published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine in early November 2023. Co-chaired by Allan Walkey, MD, chief and professor of medicine in the Division of Health Systems Science, the updated guidelines incorporate new evidence addressing the use of corticosteroids, venovenous extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, neuromuscular blocking agents, and positive end-expiratory pressure for the management of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS).

Learn more.

Ze Zhang, PhD, a postdoctoral student in the lab of Dr. Kate Fitzgerald, was recently awarded an Irvington Postdoctoral Fellowship award through the Cancer Research Institute. The fellowship acknowledges the significance of Dr. Zhang’s previous onco-neuroimmunology research and provides support for his upcoming work in innate immunity research. 

“I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to ongoing efforts in basic biology, particularly innate immunity, and am excited about the potential impact of this fellowship. I want to express my sincere thanks to my doctoral supervisor, Professor Xiaodong Wang, my postdoctoral supervisor, Professor Kate Fitzgerald, and the other referees for their recommendations and support,” stated Dr. Zhang. 

With funding from the fellowship, Dr. Zhang will utilize skills in biochemistry genetic biology, molecular biology, and immunology to address important immunology challenges, particularly related to NLRP1, including NLRP1 inhibitors and agonists. These endeavors will deepen the understanding of immune regulation and provide valuable compounds for dissecting biology and its roles in disease, with the ultimate objective of developing therapeutic drugs aimed at curing specific immune-related diseases. 

Researchers at UMass Chan School of Medicine received funding from the Reagan Udall Foundation for the FDA to develop a novel tool and test the reliability, validity, and feasibility of algorithms using real world data to support regulatory decisions. Led by Sonal Singh, MD, MPH, FACP, associate professor of medicine in the Division of Health Systems Science, the focus of this project will be on outcomes in pregnancy. "Real world data is increasingly being used to evaluate the safety of drugs in pregnancy as pregnant women may be underrepresented in clinical trials,” said Dr. Singh. “We anticipate that the tool developed from this study can be used to evaluate the reliability and validity of algorithms on important maternal and fetal outcomes.” He added, “This tool may support a flexible and transparent approach to regulatory decisions around the benefits and risks of drugs used during pregnancy."  

The new tool will build on Dr. Sonal’s previous collaboration on the development of the Algorithm Certainty Tool (ACE-IT) tool to evaluate real world algorithms for cardiovascular outcomes.  

The co-investigator on this study is Carla Rodriguez-Watson, PhD, MPH from the Reagan Udall Foundation for the FDA.  

Faculty and trainees from the Department of Medicine gave talks and presented their research at the UMass Chan Medical School's 28th Annual Research Retreat which was held earlier this fall at UMass Amherst. Douglas Golenbock, MD, the Neil and Margery Blacklow Chair in Infectious Diseases and Immunology Professor and chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases and Immunology, the recipient of this year’s Chancellor’s Medal for Distinguished Scholarship, gave a Keynote Address titled, “Interferon Epsilon: An Estrogen-Dependent Type I Interferon That is Uniquely Exploited by Neisseria gonorrhoeae”. Additionally, faculty from the Divisions of Hematology and Oncology and Health Systems Science - Clinical Informatics Section discussed their research, and faculty and trainees from the Department of Medicine presented their posters which included several interdepartmental and multi-institutional collaborative projects. Kate Fitzgerald, PhD, the Worcester Foundation for Biomedical Research Chair III, professor of medicine, associate vice provost for basic science research, vice chair for research in the Department of Medicine, chief of the Division of Innate Immunity, and director of the Program in Innate Immunity, served as the moderator for one of this year’s sessions.

Click here to view the list of this year's presentations and posters.

Apurv Soni, MD, PhD, assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Health Systems Science, Clinical Informatics Section, and a co-director of the Program in Digital Medicine, is the principal investigator on a recent study to expand free-at-home COVID-19 and influenza testing nationwide. With Dr. Soni and UMass Chan scientists serving as research partners, the team recently engaged in a pilot study in Berks County, Pennsylvania, where they focused on engaging community partners such as local health departments to reach underserved populations. In doing so, they worked to expand the Home Test to Treat program, a collaborative effort of the National Institutes of Health, the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the digital health technology firm, eMed. The program offers free at-home COVID and flu tests for those who are uninsured or underinsured, or are enrolled in Medicare, Medicaid, VA Health Care, or Indian Health Services and includes the LUCIRA by Pfizer COVID-19 test and Flu (A/B) Test. Dr. Soni and his team worked to analyze the data from the pilot study and collaborated with eMed to make improvements to the program. 

Learn more.

Jonathan Gerber, MD, the Eleanor Eustis Farrington Chair in Cancer Research, director of the UMass Cancer Center, and chief and professor of medicine in the Division of Hematology/Oncology, co-authored a study that showed vaccination against COVID-19 was linked to reduced inflammation in response to SARS-CoV-2 infection. The study was published in The Lancet Microbe and included an analysis of 21 biomarkers measured in blood samples of study participants with COVID-19. Blood samples were taken from 882 patients who were enrolled in 23 outpatient sites in late June 2020 and late September 2021. Concentrations of inflammation biomarkers were found to be lower among the fully vaccinated group of participants as opposed to the unvaccinated group. Because many of the complications of COVID-19 are the inflammatory response that the body has to the virus, Dr. Gerber explains that if the infection in the body is controlled quickly, there is little need for an immune response, meaning damage to the body is less likely. The study provides further insight as to why unvaccinated people are more likely to be sicker from COVID-19 than those who are vaccinated. 

Learn more.

This month, we feature Ze Zhang, PhD, as our Postdoc Spotlight. Dr. Zhang is a postdoc in the lab of Dr. Kate Fitzgerald in the Division of Innate Immunity. 

"My research focuses on innate immunity and cell death, with specific emphasis on inflammasome and cGAS-STING, as well as novel programmed cell death. Drawing from my experience in Professor Xiaodong Wang’s Lab, where I engaged in the study of two independent projects—onco-neuroimmunology and cell death, I delved into the intricacies of innate immunity, particularly inflammasome biology, employing biochemical, genetic, molecular biology, and pharmacologic methods in the Fitzgerald Lab."

Read the full spotlight.

This month in our Graduate Student Spotlight, we feature Pooja Parameswaran, a student in the Morningside Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at UMass Chan and the lab of Dr. Megan Orzalli in the Division of Infectious Diseases and Immunology.

"I was very keen on joining a program with a focus on Innate Immunity and UMass Chan is perfect for that. We have several PI’s who work in the space, so there are so many opportunities to learn. Additionally, thanks to a very collaborative environment it’s really easy to share knowledge, techniques, and reagents."

Read the full spotlight.

In this month’s Researcher Spotlight, we feature the work of Honghuang Lin, PhD, a professor of medicine in the Division of Health Systems Science, Clinical Informatics Section, and a co-director in the Program in Digital Medicine. 

Dr. Lin’s research focuses on the development of novel computational methods to study complex diseases. He is a longtime investigator of the Framingham Heart Study, the longest-running cardiovascular epidemiological study that recently celebrated its 75th anniversary. Dr. Lin has extensive experience in the analysis of genetic and omics data. Through his role in various large-scale international genetic consortiums, he and his collaborators have identified thousands of genetic variants associated with various diseases, including chronic inflammation, heart failure, atrial fibrillation, and Alzheimer’s disease.

"I am dedicated to advancing the field of computational biomedical science," said Dr. Lin, "I look forward to continuing to make contributions to the field in the years to come."

Read Dr. Lin's full spotlight.

Anna Gubala, MD, a third-year Internal Medicine resident, led a food drive this month to gather donations for the Thanksgiving holiday. Along with other residents, Dr. Gubala helped raise $1,580 and filled multiple cars of goods that were delivered to the Worcester County Food Bank.

We applaud Dr. Gubala and her colleagues for their hard work and service!

Laura Gibson, MD, associate professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases and Immunology, has been selected as a Worcester Business Journal 2023 Champions of Health Care Award honoree.

The award honors those who excel in helping others, promoting innovation, and improving access to care. Dr. Gibson's work on cytomegalovirus (CMV) and leadership in infectious disease and immunology research highlights her qualifications for the award. She will be honored at The College of the Holy Cross in Worcester on Wednesday, December 13, 2023.  

Please join us in congratulating Dr. Gibson! 

The Department of Medicine is seeking applicants for the newly established Leadership Fellowship. Believed to be the first academic internal medicine administrative fellowship in the U.S., the Department of Medicine is pleased to offer this new program that will help develop tomorrow’s administrative leaders in medicine. 

Maureen Canellas, MD, MBA, the director of the Leadership Fellowship and an assistant professor and physician in the Department of Emergency Medicine, developed the program along with David McManus, MD, ScM, chair of the Department of Medicine, and Richard Forster, MD, associate professor of medicine and physician in the Division of Hospital Medicine, who will serve as a program advisor on the fellowship. Dr. Canellas’ enthusiasm, experience, and expertise in administrative leadership training led her to this role. She completed an administrative fellowship in emergency medicine, has an MBA, and currently runs an elective for emergency medicine residents that focuses on health systems and health systems science. It was through her work in health systems and digital medicine that she and Dr. McManus began to have discussions about the current gap in leadership training for internal medicine physicians. “There are hospital-based fellowships and there are emergency medicine-based fellowships,” said Dr. Canellas, “but [to our knowledge] there are no academic internal medicine administration fellowships.” 

This two-year, non-ACGME accredited full-time fellowship will offer up to 2 fellows per class protected time to obtain an MBA from the University of Massachusetts Isenberg School of Management as well as clinical rotations through the UMass Memorial Medical Center’s Hospital at Home program. Participants will gain expertise in administration specifically through the lens of the executive leadership within the Department of Medicine.  


  • Foster the training and growth of future executive leaders in departmental and hospital administration and operations. 
  • Create a low-risk environment where the fellow can translate administrative theory into action at an early stage in their career. 
  • Create leaders in the growing fields of digital health and data analytics and how those implementations relate to hospital operations and finances. 
  • Foster early mentor-mentee relationships that span beyond the fellowship and progress the fellow’s career development and advancement. 

Minimum Requirements: 
Applicants must be graduates of an ACGME-accredited residency program by July 1 of the fellowship year and be able to obtain independent medical licensure in the state of Massachusetts. 

Learn more.

What started as a quality improvement project is now slowly growing into a well-received weight management program at the Benedict Primary Care clinic at UMass Memorial Medical Center.

Three years ago, Jeevarathna Subramanian, MD, associate professor of medicine, and Varun Ayyaswami, MD, assistant professor of medicine, both in the Division of General Internal Medicine, started a quality improvement project during Dr. Ayyaswami’s residency. Their project focused on overall obesity management in primary care and they found that very few patient appointments were made for obesity management. They surveyed providers on the primary challenges of managing obesity and although it was found to be a significant problem, the medical complexity of patients and resource limitations made it difficult for providers to appropriately address the issue. Many providers requested an embedded metabolic clinic to focus on weight management and weight stabilization for patients, leading to the development of today’s Weight Management Program. 

With encouragement and support from providers such as Nina Rosano, MD, assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism, Bruce Weinstein, MD, associate professor of medicine in the Division of General Internal Medicine and Deborah Blazey-Martin, MD, vice chair for ambulatory affairs and chief of the Division of General Internal Medicine, Drs. Subramanian and Ayyaswami developed the program with the goal of serving patients with weight issues and high blood pressure, along with other comorbidities. Additionally, they wanted to focus on how weight impacts the patient’s health and how they can work to maintain a healthier weight and lifestyle. 

Although the program is still in its beginning stages, work in the clinic is conducted on Monday mornings, where Drs. Subramanian and Ayyaswami alternate enrolling patients into the program, establishing a plan based on their medical history, and coordinating with other departments and services as needed, such as Behavioral Health and Endocrinology. The Weight Management Program has been well-received throughout the Benedict clinic. Dr. Subramanian explains that as the program expands, multidisciplinary collaboration between primary care providers and sub-specialists will be important. “Getting a nutritional aspect and an exercise aspect to this will be very important additions,” stated Dr. Subramanian. “[Additionally] having someone who has expertise in advocating for activity for these patients depending on their weight are all important aspects.” 

The team also hopes to provide the necessary resources to keep patients on a healthy track for the future. “Weight management and obesity are going to fall into the lap of primary care providers. The more primary care providers that [become] familiar with this [program] the better it is,” said Dr. Subramanian.  

Over the last few months, we have featured patient flow initiatives in Medicine that aim to increase patient discharges by noon and 2 p.m. These initiatives are critical to improving quality of care, overall patient safety, and timely care progression.

This month, we are featuring the Cohorted Unit-Based Teams initiative that launched in early June 2023—specifically, the pulmonary medicine unit on 5 West led by Shahzad Khan, MD, assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care Medicine.  

One of the primary objectives of the Cohorted Unit-Based Teams initiative has been to establish effective flow for patients to be discharged in a timely manner through coordinated team care. This, in turn, allows for patients who are in the emergency room and need a bed to be transferred to the floor for care. On 5 West, Dr. Khan and his team accomplish this through multidisciplinary rounds which include meeting with individuals from the health care team (usually a second-year or senior resident), nursing management, case management, physical therapy, respiratory therapy, and a COPD nurse navigator. During these meetings, they discuss patients and establish a care progression plan together, rather than having what might be at least six or seven individual conversations with different team members. Dr. Khan and his team are able to identify what is needed to allow the patient to be discharged and coordinate a plan together. They aim to have the patient discharged during the day for a variety of reasons including ensuring they stay on track with medications (if they are discharged at night, the pharmacy might be closed and they could miss their medication for that day). It has also helped with various logistical factors in transitioning the patients home, including transportation. 

Overall, the initiative has seen positive results thus far. Prior to the initiative, the pulmonary service placed discharge orders before noon on 19% of discharges. The team is now discharging one-third of their patients before noon. By working closely with the nurse manager, Viet Le, and case manager, Steven Nordborg, who have been critical to the success of this initiative, Dr. Khan has also been able to steadily increase the number of patients discharged before 2 p.m. over the last several months. There has also been a steady trend in decreasing the length of stay on the unit.  

“It's been a big effort even though it seems like a small thing. It has taken a lot of work from hospital leadership and communicating with different services to come together and focus on this one thing and with all these moving parts,” said Dr. Khan. “It is impressive how quickly it has moved forward and how infrequent there are hiccups because everyone is willing to figure out the next step.” 

In this month’s Resident Spotlight, we highlight Garrick Gu, MD, a second-year Internal Medicine resident. Here, Dr. Gu describes his clinical and research interests, his involvement with groups on campus, and his favorite place to eat in Worcester! 

"The students and residents are so impressive in their dedication to their patients and their communities, always reaching out to family members and communities to promote health equity and quality care."

Read Dr. Gu's full spotlight.

In this month’s Fellowship Spotlight, we highlight Rina Modha, MD, a Rheumatology fellow in the Department of Medicine. Here, Dr. Modha describes her clinical interests, why she chose UMass for her fellowship, her favorite vacation spots, and more! 

“[I chose UMass for my fellowship because] the work environment was appealing, and the program's culture was extremely welcoming. I appreciated the clinical exposure fellows experienced with individual patient panels and the breadth of pathology in the community.”

Read Dr. Modha's full spotlight.

In this month’s Chair’s Spotlight, we highlight Terrell Johnson, MD, a physician in the Division of General Internal Medicine, and co-director of Diversity, Inclusion, and Social Justice in the Department of Medicine. He joined UMass Chan Medical School/UMass Memorial Health this past August and has enthusiastically dived into a variety of activities across Medicine’s mission areas.

In addition to his roles as a clinician and educator, Dr. Johnson will be taking a new leadership role in the Pipeline for underRepresented Students in Medicine (PRISM) program, a program that introduces postgraduate students from diverse backgrounds who are traditionally underrepresented in STEM, to clinical research and healthcare opportunities. “I think there is a great opportunity to work with these students to make them so strong that they cannot be missed,” said Dr. Johnson. “Whether it is additional opportunities in research or in educational activities and exposures to experiences in the field, we want them to be prepared [for their future careers in medicine] and confident.”

Read Dr. Johnson's full spotlight.

The Department of Medicine Clinical Research Core is excited to welcome Alok Kapoor, MD, professor of medicine in the Division of Hospital Medicine at UMass Chan, to the Research Core team. 

Dr. Kapoor will be working to expand the research portfolio of the Division of Hospital Medicine and serving as a research mentor to faculty interested in developing research projects. Dr. Kapoor is a physician-scientist with a research focus on safe and optimal use of anticoagulation and has extensive clinical experience as a hospitalist. The Core is grateful to have him on board.  

Read Pukkila-Worley, MD, associate professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases and Immunology, along with MD/PhD students and lab members, Mohamad Nasrallah and Nick Peterson, recently had a manuscript published in PLOS Pathogens titled, “Transcriptional suppression of sphingolipid catabolism controls pathogen resistance in C. elegans.” In their study, Mohamad and Nick discovered that cellular regulation of sphingolipids, complex macromolecules that are required for diverse biological processes, are required for host survival during bacterial infections. They found that transcriptional control of enzymes that break down these molecules is required for pathogen resistance. These data define a new link between nutrient acquisition, metabolism, and host susceptibility to bacterial infection, and reveal a novel pathway that may be targeted to promote survival during bacterial infection. 

“I am extremely proud of Mo’s and Nick’s accomplishments in my lab,” said Dr. Pukkila-Worley. “They are both outstanding MD/PhD students and their collaboration on this project was a lot of fun for me to be a part of.”  

The Pukkila-Worley laboratory investigates host-pathogen interactions and bacterial pathogenesis, with a primary focus on Pseudomonas aeruginosa, an important human pathogen. One of their areas of interest is the growing field of immunometabolism, specifically the discovery and investigation of individual micronutrients and metabolites that are essential for animals to survive challenges with infectious pathogens.  

Read the full piece. 

This month, we feature Samreen Fatima, PhD, as our Postdoc Spotlight. Dr. Fatima is a postdoc in Dr. Hardy Kornfeld’s lab in the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care Medicine. 

"UMass has a very strong TB research group with Drs. Kornfeld, Behar, and Sassetti working very closely with each other to find answers to complex TB questions. The way these labs function as a group made me choose UMass for my postdoctoral training. I consider myself extremely lucky to have taken this decision because each day I get to learn so much because of the way we work in collaboration at UMass."

Read the full spotlight.

This month in our Graduate Student Spotlight, we feature Seden Bedir, a third-year graduate student in Dr. Li Li’s lab in RNA Therapeutics, who previously rotated in the labs of Drs. Read Pukkila-Worley, Kate Fitzgerald, and Ann Moormann in the Department of Medicine.  

"My current research focuses on utilizing in vitro evolution techniques to engineer synthetic RNA to establish a novel RNA therapeutics platform. My overarching goal is to do research in synthetic immunology where I can take advantage of my interdisciplinary background."

Read the full spotlight.

In this month’s Researcher Spotlight, we highlight the work of Jae-Hyuck Shim, PhD, associate professor of medicine in the Division of Rheumatology, director of the Bone Analysis Core, and a faculty member in the Horae Gene Therapy Center at UMass Chan Medical School. Additionally, along with Dr. Guangping Gao, Dr. Shim is the co-scientific founder of AAVAA Therapeutics, Incorporated, a company committed to developing gene therapies for the rare skeletal disease Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva (FOP).  

Dr. Shim’s research focuses on elucidating the molecular and genetic pathways that control the activation and differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells, bone-forming osteoblasts, and bone-resorbing osteoclasts in pathological conditions, including complex skeletal diseases (osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis (OA), heterotopic ossification, bone fracture, critical-sized bone defects) and rare skeletal diseases (FOP and osteogenesis imperfecta).

Dr. Shim not only contributes to various scientific collaborations at UMass Chan but also takes pride in the Department's supportive environment. "The Department of Medicine at UMass Chan has a strong collegial environment where scientists and clinicians with diverse backgrounds can work together and create novel scientific findings and therapeutic interventions,” remarked Dr. Shim. “Most importantly, it is a very enjoyable place to work.”  

Read Dr. Shim's full spotlight.

The UMass Memorial Cancer Survivorship Program is now live! The program is designed to give cancer survivors the tools and resources to aid in navigating life beyond cancer treatment and improve overall quality of life. 

More information can be found by visiting the site.

In a new Voices of UMass Chan podcast out this week, Sunita Puri, MD, draws on her experience in the field of palliative care while discussing the hidden harms of CPR.

“[What] we should be talking about with [the patient] is, is CPR going to help restore the…quality of life you want and is your underlying issue reversible, meaning, do we have a reasonable chance of treating the cause of potential arrest,” said Dr. Puri. “When somebody has end-stage cancer, end-stage cirrhosis, heart failure, we have to be honest with patients and ourselves about the limits of what we can do and the limits of the body, and I don't think we're good in our society, in general, let alone in medicine, discussing limits.”

Listen to the podcast.

Irina Radu, MD, MHA, a cardiology postdoctoral fellow, presented her poster on the important work that the UMass Chan Postdoctoral Association is doing to empower diversity in postdoctoral scholars at this year’s UMass Chan Diversity Summit poster session that was held on October 11, 2023.  

Sunita Puri, MD, associate professor of medicine, program director of the Hospice and Palliative Care Medicine Fellowship, and provider in the Division of Palliative Care, was recently awarded the Amy Sylvester Award for healthcare excellence from the NVNA and Hospice’s Charitable Fund Board of Trustees. Dr. Puri was recognized for her leadership, candor, and compassion in the palliative care conversation. The award is presented annually to individuals who have made an impact on health care in their communities by way of philanthropy, advocacy, or education. 

Constantinos (Taki) Michaelidis, MD, MBA, MS, medical director for UMass Memorial Health’s Hospital at Home Program, and assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Hospital Medicine, has been honored with the Hospital at Home Users Group Clinician of the Year Award. Dr. Michaelidis was celebrated for delivering exceptional patient care and for building and improving the hospital-at-home program. 

Vaikom Mahadevan, MD, the Edward Budnitz, MD, Professor in Cardiovascular Medicine and chief of Cardiovascular Medicine, and an expert in adult congenital heart disease (ACHD) was recently consulted for consideration of transcatheter pulmonic valve replacement. The patient who had a history of congenital pulmonary stenosis, had undergone open repair at the age of 9 months. They subsequently underwent a surgical pulmonic valve replacement in 2021, and three months following surgery were anemic and began IV and oral iron replacement. The anemia progressed and the patient started requiring regular blood transfusions. After extensive hematology evaluation, the patient was found to have hemolysis with no other identifiable cause apart from the bioprosthetic heart valve. The patient also had an echocardiogram that suggested moderate pulmonary regurgitation and had some right heart failure symptoms, along with hypoalbuminemia. Records were obtained from the referring hospital and a telehealth appointment was made to evaluate the patient. Ultimately after consultation with Dr. Mahadevan and his team, a plan was made for the patient to undergo a transcatheter pulmonic valve-in-valve procedure at UMass Memorial Medical Center. In addition to Dr. Mahadevan, structural heart coordinators Ashleigh Poptic, ACNP-BC, and Nicole Majkut, PA-C, along with catheterization laboratory members Sue Maddelena, Tara Zidonis, Raul Navarro, and Stephanie Costello, worked to coordinate resources, appropriate equipment, and perform staff education in preparation for the procedure. 

In mid-September, the patient was pre-admitted under the care of Kevin O’Day, MD. They were then transferred to the cath lab for transcatheter tricuspid valve‐in‐valve (TPViV) implantation with the team led by Dr. Mahadevan, and including Jennifer Walker, MD, of Cardiac Surgery, Nikolaos Kakouros, MD, PhD, director of the structural heart disease program and co-director of the transcatheter aortic valve replacement program, and Dr. Ujjwal Rastogi, a structural heart fellow. The cardiac anesthesia team led by Dr. Brian Gebhardt provided anesthesia support. Procedural staff included Dan Niemi, RT, Mary Blair, RN, and Ivette Bryan-Picard, RN. 

The procedure and recovery went very well, and the patient was discharged the following day. The patient was able to return home within a week of the procedure and has continued follow-up care planned with their local adult congenital heart disease cardiologist.

We congratulate the entire team on this successful procedure!

In this month’s Resident Spotlight, we highlight Nicolas Fandino-Rubio, MD, a second-year Categorical Internal Medicine resident at UMass Chan. Here, Dr. Fandino-Rubio describes his clinical and research interests, what makes UMass a great place for residency, and his passion for soccer. 

"I find myself frequently using my own heritage and language to connect with many of our patients and create a positive impact in their care."

Read Dr. Fandino-Rubio's full spotlight.

In this month’s Fellow Spotlight, we highlight Allen Chang, MD, a fellow in the Clinical Informatics Fellowship. Here, Dr. Chang describes his clinical background, why he chose UMass for his fellowship, and a recent sightseeing trip around the U.S.! 

"My increasing fascination with generative AI and large language models coincided with the establishment of UMass’s new fellowship in Clinical Informatics, and joining the program was the perfect opportunity for me to meaningfully explore the role of these new tools in the delivery of healthcare, not just for patients, but for clinicians as well."

Read Dr. Chang's full spotlight.

In 2022, the Division of Hospital Medicine launched its Procedural Service as a way to help address patient flow challenges. The idea emerged from pre-pandemic conversations between Greg Leslie, MD, physician, assistant professor of medicine, clinical and interim division chief, and Michael Devine, DO, physician and assistant professor of medicine, both of Hospital Medicine, and subsequent discussions with fellow hospitalists. At the time, they had observed that while resident teams in the division had trainees who could perform bedside procedures such as lumbar punctures, paracenteses, and arterial punctures for blood draws because it was part of their training, nonresident teams were left to call on others for assistance. Drs. Leslie and Devine thought that if they could create a service where hospitalists were trained and credentialed to perform these procedures it would help with some of the flow challenges. They put a call out to fellow hospitalists to identify a core group who were interested in getting credentialed and were pleasantly met with enthusiasm. “It's been really fun to build this up,” said Dr. Devine, who currently serves as the director of the Procedural Service. “We had a whole spectrum of attendings at various levels in our division that have wanted to be part of this, from senior, decorated faculty to junior faculty that were interested in [learning and getting credentialed] in these procedures.”

With a core group of seven hospitalists credentialed to perform these procedures, they have started to have a noticeable impact on patient flow. “The biggest benefit of this Procedural team is that it allows for diagnostic or therapeutic procedures to happen as quickly as possible in order to let the teams advance the care plan, ” said Dr. Leslie.

Learn more about the Procedural Service.

In this month’s Chair’s Spotlight, we highlight the work of Doreen Brettler, MD, a physician and professor of medicine in the Division of Hematology/Oncology. Dr. Brettler has spent her career caring for benign and malignant hematology patients, with primary concentrations in hemostasis and thrombosis. She currently sees a broad spectrum of patients at the University campus for bleeding and clotting disorders, genetic blood disorders, and low blood cell conditions, as well as other chronic diseases and low-grade hematological malignancies. In October, we sat down with Dr. Brettler to learn more about her work. 

Read Dr. Brettler's full interview.

Mohan Pahari (left), a clinical research coordinator in the Department of Medicine's Clinical Research Core, participated in the 25th Annual UMass Cancer Walk that took place on Sunday, September 24, at Polar Park. The UMass Cancer Walk has become the largest, one-day, single-location fundraising event in the area raising over 16 million dollars since starting in 1999. Mohan was proudly supporting the fight against cancer and promoting Lupus study trials at UMass Chan. 

In a new Voices of UMass Chan Podcast out today, October 18, David McManus, MD, ScM, the Richard M. Haidack Professor in Medicine and chair of the Department of Medicine and executive sponsor in the Program in Digital Medicine (PDM), and Neil Marya, MD, assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology and a director in the PDM, discuss the potential impact of artificial intelligence on health care.


UMass Chan Medical School recently received an $8.9 million award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for renewed support of their initiative to advance the development of home-based and point-of-care health technologies. The Center for Advancing Point of Care Technologies (CAPCaT) in Heart, Lung, Blood, and Sleep Disorders, which was created as an offshoot of the Massachusetts Medical Device Development Center (M2D2) at UMass Lowell and UMass Chan, is one of the seven centers nationwide that received five-year awards as part of the NIH’s Point of Care Technology Research Network.  

Led by co-principal investigators David McManus, MD, ScM, the Richard M. Haidack Professor of Medicine, chair and professor of medicine in the Department of Medicine, and Dr. Nathaniel Hafer, of Molecular Medicine, CAPCaT has supported over 20 projects since receiving funding in 2018 and aims to support new tools to address heart, lung, blood, and sleep disorders in underserved populations.

Speaking to UMass Chan news, Dr. McManus said, “There’s what’s considered a ‘valley of death’ in the development of technologies between the time when someone comes up with a really good idea and starting a company, but they need resources to evaluate the technology and develop it. Few companies actually make it…CAPCaT’s goal is to identify that earlier-stage company, which is high risk but potentially high reward, bring in regulatory expertise and commercialization experts, and brainstorm with the team about other applications of the technology.” 

Learn more about CAPCaT.

Honghuang Lin, PhD, professor of medicine in the Division of Health Systems Science and a director in the Program in Digital Medicine, had his study titled “Association Between Electrocardiographic Age and Cardiovascular Events in Community Settings: The Framingham Heart Study,” featured in the USA Today article “How One’s Health Study, inspired by FDR’s death, Changed Life in America Forever,” as part of the Framingham Heart Study’s 75th anniversary. The Framingham Heart Study has changed how Americans and their doctors view heart disease over the course of three generations. 

Dr. Lin's study applied a deep neural network model to predict biological age from standard 12-lead ECG collected in the Framingham Heart Study and included 9,877 participants with 17 plus-minus 8 years of follow-up. Accelerated aging was found to be associated with a significant increase in all-cause mortality (HR 1.28, 95%CI 1.14-1.45), as well as multiple adverse cardiovascular outcomes, suggesting the potential of an ECG-based age predictor as a scalable biomarker of future cardiovascular risk. 

Read the USA Today article.

During the summer, Kristy Chiang, Mingqi Dong, and Shrutika Mintri, graduate students in Dr. Kate Fitzgerald’s lab, partnered with students in the Vanderbilt VI4 Artist-in-Residence Program, to artistically represent their science through drawing and digital art. Dr. Fitzgerald, the Worcester Foundation Chair in Biomedical Sciences, professor of medicine, chief of the Division of Innate Immunity, vice chair for research in the Department of Medicine, and director of the Program in Innate Immunity, and members of her team, applied to participate in this program, whose mission is to cultivate a meaningful, equitable, and multidisciplinary community through an entirely virtual environment that expands the impact of cutting-edge research through art. 

Read the full story.

PRISM program clinical research coordinator, Daniel Mbusa, BS, was inspired to pursue a career in medicine and clinical research through formative experiences in high school. Originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Daniel spent most of his childhood living in Uganda. He came with his family to the United States in 2013 and settled in Worcester where he attended North High School. “I started to become interested in medicine when I took Human Physiology and Pathology in high school,” said Daniel. “I enjoyed learning about the systems and organs of the body, different diseases and conditions, and prevention and treatment.” As a senior in high school, he also interned in a cancer research lab at UMass Chan Medical School.  

Read the full story.

This month, we are excited to feature Romana Rashid, PhD, as our Postdoc Spotlight! Dr. Rashid is a postdoc in the labs of Drs. Douglas Golenbock and Kate Fitzgerald. Here, she describes her primary research focus, why she chose UMass for her postdoctoral studies, and her growing interest in sports.

"My aspiration was to be part of an exceptional immunology lab and institution that fostered personal and professional growth while offering opportunities to engage with diverse communities."

Read the full spotlight. 

In this month’s Researcher Spotlight, we highlight the work of Kevin Donahue, MD, the David J and Barbara D Milliken Professor of Preventive Cardiology, professor of medicine in the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, director of Electrophysiology Research at UMass Chan Medical School, and an attending cardiac electrophysiologist at UMass Memorial Health. He also serves as a co-director of the Transdisciplinary Training in Cardiovascular Research T32 training grant.

Dr. Donahue’s research focuses on elucidating the mechanisms of and developing therapies for cardiac arrhythmias. His work in his lab and in the invasive electrophysiology laboratory has yielded important achievements and groundbreaking discoveries, including the first-ever report of gene transfer to treat cardiac arrhythmia, which was published as the cover article of Nature Medicine in December 2000. Additionally, studies from his lab have yielded important findings showing the complete elimination of ventricular arrhythmia inducibility after gene transfer in an animal model of post-myocardial infarction ventricular arrhythmias, a novel mechanism for post-infarction ventricular tachycardia, and control of atrial fibrillation with a novel epicardial gene painting method, which he developed in his lab.

Read Dr. Donahue's full spotlight.

Deepika Devuni, MD, associate professor of medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology, has received a 2023 Women Physicians Section Inspiration Award from the American Medical Association. This award honors and acknowledges physicians who have offered their time, wisdom, and support throughout the professional careers of their fellow physicians, residents, and students.  

Please join us in congratulating Dr. Devuni!  

Christine Bielick Kotkowski, MD, chief of the Division of Medicine-Pediatrics, and assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care Medicine, was recently featured in UMass Memorial’s Quality Matters newsletter, describing how the Resuscitation Committee and a SAFER team focused on the failure to rescue quality measure, are taking action to reduce in-hospital cardiac arrest mortality rates. 

Learn more about Dr. Bielick Kotkowski's initiative.

This year’s Prize for Academic Collaboration and Excellence (PACE) Awards were announced at the end of September and we are proud that all of the winning projects included faculty members from the Department of Medicine! Awardees will be honored at the UMass Memorial Health Family Fun Day at Polar Park on October 22.

Click here to view the winners.  

Members of the Department of Medicine and the UMass community came together to support cancer research at the first annual Vintage Fashion Show on Friday, September 29, at Union Station in Worcester, with the goal to raise money and awareness for colon cancer and research. Participants included Jonathan Gerber, MD, chief and professor of medicine in the Division of Hematology and Oncology, Christopher Marshall, MD, clinical chief and assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology, and many more.

Providers across the Department of Medicine joined fellow UMass colleagues at Polar Park on Sunday, September 24, to participate in the annual UMass Cancer Walk. The event supports adult and pediatric cancer research and care, and clinical trials of new, potentially lifesaving therapies taking place at UMass Chan.

Click here to view photos.

On Saturday, September 9, UMass Memorial Health, along with other community partners, hosted the Worcester Multicultural Community Health Fair at the YMCA Fuller Family Park in Worcester, MA. Members of the community were invited to attend this event for health education, screening, and other resources. Among the many volunteers at this event were Deborah Nadler, MD, Shantel Brissett, MD, and Sakeina Howard-Wilson, MD, cardiology fellows, and Irina Radu, MD, MHA, a postdoctoral cardiology research fellow. They took blood pressure measurements and offered participants valuable insights on essential topics such as blood pressure management, cholesterol control, smoking cessation, weight management, sleep improvement, increasing physical activity, blood sugar management, and adopting healthier diets.  

“By showing cohesion and team spirit, while serving our community, we had a significant impact representing UMass Cardiology at the Worcester Multicultural Community Health Fair. We had a lot of fun together,” said Dr. Radu.  

We applaud our Cardiovascular fellows for their service and dedication to the Worcester community! 

Brittany Tran, MD, a second-year Internal Medicine resident at UMass Chan, received first place for her quality improvement poster, “The Difficult IV Access (DIVA) Project: Improving IV Access at Nighttime Rapid Responses.”

Additionally, Divya Sudireddy, MD, a third-year Internal Medicine resident, earned second place for her quality improvement poster, “Enhancing Cardiovascular Care for Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients.”

Michelle Nabi, MD, a current Internal Medicine residency intern, was also awarded second place for her clinical vignette, “Bilateral Posterior Cerebral Strokes Post-Cardiac Catheterization Leading to Anton-Babinski Syndrome.” 

Please join us in congratulating our IM residents on their accomplishments!  

In late September when a patient coded on 5 West, resident, respiratory, nursing, anesthesia, and pharmacy teams worked together, responding in a collaborative, organized, and respectful manner. This exceptional effort was recognized by team members and leaders who were present, including Christine Bielick Kotkowski, MD, a pulmonary and critical care physician and chief of Medicine-Pediatrics, who said, in part, “…it was reassuring how calm and collected the entire team was, and they worked cohesively throughout.…witnessing the closed-loop communication between the unit secretary and the nursing staff to ensure adequate messages were relayed, was great.” Additionally, there was an organized debrief afterward where the teams deliberately and methodically went through the occurrence and offered support to each other.  

We thank all team members for their commitment to quality care.

Pamela Burgwinkle, a nurse practitioner in the Anti-Coagulation clinic, was recognized by a patient for her excellent care this past summer. The patient stated that Pamela was exceptionally helpful, understanding, and empathetic. 

We thank Pamela for her hard work and exceptional care of her patients. 

In this month’s Resident Spotlight, we highlight Daniella Gonzalez, DO, a third-year Internal Medicine resident at UMass Chan. We recently caught up with Dr. Gonzalez to learn more about her clinical and research interests, what makes UMass a great place for residency, and the book club she started with Dr. Lauren Feld!  

Read Dr. Gonzalez's full spotlight.

In this month’s Fellow Spotlight, we feature Mark Skiba, MD, PhD, a current Hospice and Palliative Medicine fellow at UMass Chan. Here, Dr. Skiba discusses his clinical interests, why he chose UMass, and his favorite place to travel!  

Read Dr. Skiba's full spotlight.

Michael Devine, DO, a physician and assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Hospital Medicine, is currently leading an innovative initiative to improve discharge orders at UMass. In a new conversation with Dr. Devine, he discusses the drivers of this initiative, results thus far, and goals for future applications.

“[In our initial pilot], we specifically looked at the metric of discharge orders before noon because when we initially reviewed the data, we found that the resident teams were about 10% lower than uncovered attendings…[We] decided the goal for our internal medicine resident teams would be to improve discharge by noon to around 25% from 15%. Over the last year, our residents were able to reach that goal.”

Read Dr. Devine's full interview.

In this month’s Chair’s Spotlight, we highlight the work of Sarah McGee, MD, MPH, clinical chief and a professor of medicine in the Division of Geriatric Medicine, whose career has spanned more than 30 years. We recently spoke with Dr. McGee about her work and what makes her chosen field of practice unique.

Read Dr. McGee's full interview.

Fiachra Humphries, PhD, assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Innate Immunity and faculty in the Program in Innate Immunity, recently had a commentary published in Trends in Immunology, titled, “cGAS-like receptors: back to the future.” cGAS and STING are important innate immune receptors that drive immune responses to cytosolic DNA, have been implicated in a wide range of inflammatory diseases, and are now the focus of drug discovery efforts. Recent computational and biochemical studies have identified ancient forms of cGAS-like receptors (cGLRs) that play key roles in bacterial immunity. In this Spotlight article, Dr. Humphries and his team discuss a recent study published in Cell that builds on these findings that constructed and characterized >3000 cGLRs to reveal conserved mechanisms of nucleic acid sensing across the animal kingdom.

In addition, Dr. Humphries and his team discuss potential implications for human immunity and how studying these ancient forms of cGAS and STING can inform future work on uncharacterized cGAS-like receptors in the human genome. 

Read Dr. Humphries' paper.

Lauren Feld, MD, physician and assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology and physician executive for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging in the Department of Medicine, recently had her study titled, “Parental leave, childcare policies, and workplace bias for hepatology professionals: A national survey,” published in Hepatology Communications. Here, Dr. Feld and her team aimed to understand the presence of workplace bias around child-rearing and inadequate parental leave, which may negatively impact childbearing decisions and gender equity in hepatology. Additionally, her team sought to understand the influence of parental leave and child-rearing on career advancement in hepatology. The physician members of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD) were surveyed regarding career plans, family planning, parental leave, and work accommodations. Dr. Feld and her team identified that women reported gender-based and maternity bias in the workplace and during training, which was more frequently experienced by Black and Hispanic women. As two-thirds of women had children during training, Dr. Feld identified that medical training is a particularly influential time to provide programmatic support to address long-term gender disparities in career advancement. Dr. Feld runs the Feld Lab at UMass, which studies interventions to improve workforce gender equity as well as women’s health in liver disease. 

Read the full story.

Kate Fitzgerald, PhD, the Worcester Foundation Chair in Biomedical Sciences, professor of medicine, chief of the Division of Innate Immunity, vice chair for research in the Department of Medicine, and director of the Program in Innate Immunity, recently had a collaborative study, “Development of LB244, an Irreversible STING Antagonist,” published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. Led by Dr. Fitzgerald and Dr. Paul Thompson from the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biotechnology, they, along with members of their labs and other colleagues, report on their identification of LB244, a small-molecule inhibitor of STING. STING is a central driver of pathology in many autoinflammatory and autoimmune disorders including lupus, Aicardi-Goutières syndrome (AGS), and STING-associated vasculopathy with onset in infancy (SAVI). Here, their studies show how LB244 is able to inhibit a wild-type STING variant which may advance their understanding of its relevance in the context of health and disease. Their data provide a structure for further study and development of therapeutics to treat STING-dependent inflammatory diseases. 

Learn more about the study.

Shyam Patel, MD, PhD, assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Hematology and Oncology, recently had a review published in the British Journal of Haematology. In the article titled “Challenges and solutions to superior chimeric antigen receptor-T design and deployment for B-cell lymphomas,” Dr. Patel and his team focus on the major obstacles to advancing therapeutic reach for CAR-T products in early lines of therapy. Since the introduction of CAR-T therapeutics for patients with leukemia and lymphoma, there is still a debate as to where these therapeutics fit into the care plan of a patient. Dr. Patel and his team discuss the barriers of CAR-T therapy, including antigen escape, “cold” tumor microenvironments, host inflammation, and CAR-T cell exhaustion. They also highlight solutions to these barriers, such as point-of-care CAR-T manufacturing and early T lymphopheresis, and review evidence that supports early CAR-T deployment for B-cell lymphomas. 

Read the full review.

The Program in Digital Medicine (PDM) in the Department of Medicine was recently featured as part of UMass Chan’s Advancing Together campaign. In an article titled, “Digital Medicine: Three ways technology may soon improve your health,” early innovations from the PDM and their commitment to improving health care are explored. Led by David McManus, MD, ScM, chair of the Department of Medicine, the Program in Digital Medicine uses mobile tools to keep patients healthy at home, such as smartphone applications, where patients can access health coaching, monitoring, and more. Additionally, the program utilizes the power of artificial intelligence to help detect symptoms and risk factors in various diseases such as Alzheimer’s and heart disease. The program is also currently working on suicide prevention software, as part of a new center led by UMass Chan, which aims to prevent suicide through evidence-based use of technology.

“In all these ways, our teams are working together to drive innovation to make health care healthier,” said Dr. McManus. 

Watch the PDM video feature. 
Learn more about the PDM.

This month, we are excited to feature Milton Pereira, PhD, as our Postdoc Spotlight! Dr. Pereira is a postdoc in the labs of Drs. Ricardo Gazzinelli and Douglas Golenbock in the Division of Infectious Diseases and Immunology. We recently caught up with Dr. Pereira to learn more about his research focus, why he chose UMass, and his trips to the Azores Islands.

Read the full spotlight.


This month in our Graduate Student Spotlight, we feature Boyao (Joanna) Zhang, a PhD student in Dr. Egil Lien’s lab in the Division of Infectious Diseases and Immunology. We recently caught up with Joanna to learn more about her research interests, her favorite hobbies, and more!

Read the full spotlight.


In this month’s Researcher Spotlight, we highlight the work of Egil Lien, PhD, professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases and Immunology and faculty in the Program in Innate Immunity. Dr. Lien also holds a faculty appointment at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, in Trondheim, Norway.

Read Dr. Lien's full spotlight.


In late August, Sunita Puri, MD, associate professor of medicine, program director of the Hospice and Palliative Care Medicine Fellowship, and provider in the Division of Palliative Care, was interviewed on NPR’s Think podcast about her recent New Yorker essay, “The Hidden Harms of CPR.”  

Listen to the podcast by clicking here.


Samwise Bodkin, a senior ASG administrator for the Divisions of Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care Medicine, Infectious Diseases and Immunology, and Geriatric Medicine recently completed their Lean Black Belt project and achieved Black Belt Certification. Sam and their team develop onboarding trainings, system access, and resource guides for new administrator caregivers at UMass Memorial Medical Group. Please join us in congratulating Sam on this honor!  


Jonathan Kay, MD, the Timothy S. and Elaine L. Peterson Chair in Rheumatology, and professor of medicine in the Division of Rheumatology, was recently awarded the distinction of Master of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR).The title is one of the highest honors at the college and is awarded to ACR members who have made outstanding contributions to the institution and the field of Rheumatology through scholarly achievement and service to their patients, students, and the profession. On receiving this honor, Dr. Kay stated, “I am humbled and honored to be awarded the distinction of Master of the American College of Rheumatology. I am grateful to my family, friends, and colleagues who have supported me throughout my career.” Dr. Kay will be presented with this award at the annual scientific meeting of the American College of Rheumatology in November. Please join us in congratulating Dr. Kay on this prestigious achievement!  

Chinmay Trivedi, MD, PhD, professor of medicine and director of cardiovascular medicine research in the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, was recently recognized for teaching a well-received lecture in the Cardiovascular System block of Vista at UMass Chan. Dr. Trivedi was praised by leadership member Michael Fahey, MD, for his recent lecture on Microcirculations. We thank Dr. Trivedi for his continuing contributions to our educational mission.

In this month's Fellow Spotlight, we feature Taruna Arora, MD, a Hematology and Oncology fellow from Nagpur, India. We recently caught up with Dr. Arora to learn more about her interest in sickle cell disease and Hemophilia, why she chose UMass for her fellowship, and more! "My goal is to organize a transitional care clinic for young sickle cell patients in close collaboration with pediatric counterparts and establish a personalized pain plan for efficient and better clinical outcomes."

Check out her full spotlight by clicking here.

In this month’s Resident Spotlight, we feature Ashley Blau, MD, a second-year Internal Medicine resident on the research track, from Milford, CT. We recently caught up with Dr. Blau to learn more about her clinical and research interests, her favorite Worcester activities, and more! "I am convinced we have one of the most supportive residency programs in the country. It is obvious that UMass invests in its future and its people. As part of the resident wellness committee and women in medicine group, I have realized how our input as residents is valued and used to guide new initiatives and programs."

Check out her full spotlight by clicking here.

In this month’s Chair’s Spotlight, we highlight the work of Margret Chang, MD, assistant professor of medicine, attending physician, and medical director of the Office Based Addiction Treatment Program at Tri-River Family Health Center. She is also the director of the Resident Addiction Curriculum in the Internal Medicine Residency Program at UMass Chan Medical School and holds an appointment in Pediatrics. Over the last five years, Dr. Chang and her team have built the Office Based Addiction Treatment Program up from treating under 20 patients by individual providers to now having over 100 patients in the program that operates in a primary care setting with a team-based approach. Of this work she said, “The ability to be with patients who may feel a great deal of shame about their addiction, and to say to them, ‘I can help you right here in my primary care office’, that is what I love about this work.”

Read Dr. Chang's full spotlight by clicking here.

Fiachra Humphries, PhD, assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Innate Immunity and faculty in the Program in Innate Immunity, recently had a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), titled, “Targeting STING Oligomerization with Small-Molecule Inhibitors.” STING is an essential adaptor protein required for inflammatory responses to pathogen or host cytosolic DNA. The DNA that enters the cytosol then activates the enzyme cGAS to generate a molecule called cGAMP. cGAMP then binds STING directly and induces a conformational change which initiates its activation. Dr. Humphries explains that STING activation leads to the production of type I interferons and inflammatory cytokines and although it is an important molecule for immune defenses, STING activation also plays a key role in driving inflammatory diseases, such as AGS, SAVI, COPA syndrome, ALS, Parkinson’s disease and SLE. He further states that there is an urgent need to develop specific small molecule STING antagonists to treat these diseases. In this study, Dr. Humphries worked to identify a new class of small molecules that can inhibit STING by blocking its oligomerization, leading to a further understanding of STING biology, the creation of a new paradigm, and how STING can be inhibited pharmacologically. 

Read Dr. Humphries' paper.

Apurv Soni, MD, PhD, assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Health Systems Science and co-director of the Program in Digital Medicine, was recently quoted in The New York Times piece, “Covid Didn’t Take a Summer Vacation.” With a recent uptick in cases, the article gives an overview of case monitoring as well as current recommendations for testing and treating Covid-19. Rapid tests remain effective for all variants and if you get a positive result, you can trust the result is accurate. If you are having symptoms but receive a negative result, it is recommended that you test again. “If the virus is not present in large quantities,” you may get a negative result even when you’re symptomatic, said Dr. Soni. “By doing serial testing, you give yourself a chance to catch the virus when it has increased to a higher quantity in your body.” 

Read The New York Times article.

On August 5, Sunita Puri, MD, associate professor of medicine, program director of the Hospice and Palliative Care Medicine Fellowship, and provider in the Division of Palliative Care, had her essay, “The Hidden Harms of CPR,” published in The New Yorker. Her essay takes the reader through an intimate account of an experience she had with a patient’s family who was faced with deciding whether to elect CPR for their husband and father who was seriously ill from Covid. While she recounts her experience with the family, Dr. Puri weaves in the history of CPR, how, when, and why it is often used, and its outcomes. She also discusses the need for improved physician training to have conversations with patients and their families so that they may make better-informed decisions.   

“Reversing a death is not the same as restoring a life. Nonetheless, CPR has become an expectation rather than an exception, a treatment meant for a few but applied to all” – Sunita Puri   

Related: May 2023 Chair's Spotlight: Sunita Puri

In this month’s Researcher Spotlight, we highlight the work of Chinmay Trivedi, MD, PhD, professor of medicine and director of cardiovascular medicine research in the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine. Research in the Trivedi lab focuses on identifying regulatory mechanisms and rational therapies for congenital cardiac and vascular diseases affecting patients. Of their work, Dr. Trivedi says, “Trainees in the lab continue to make fundamental discoveries advancing our knowledge of devastating diseases that affect both children and adults.”

Read Dr. Trivedi's full spotlight.