UMass Medical School 2017 Media Fellowship Schedule

Day #1 
Tuesday Dec. 5



Arrivals & Welcome


Settle in, have a bite and meet the folks with whom you’ll be spending the next two days. 


Welcome from Chancellor Michael F. Collins, MD


Chancellor Michael F. Collins, MD, welcomes the fellows with an overview of what UMass Medical is all about and what we are focused on right now. What was once farmland on the banks of Lake Quinsigamond is now a hub for education and biomedical research that is ranked best in New England for primary care education by U.S. News & World Report and 29th in the United States for research funding from the National Institutes of Health. With more than $250 million each year in external research funding, UMass Medical School is home to a Nobel Laureate; winners of the Breakthrough Prize and Lasker Award; multiple investigators of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute; members of the national academies; and serves as a leading academic and economic engine that makes an impact across the entire Commonwealth.


Zebrafish & Melanoma


During the course of this conversation 18 Americans will be diagnosed and one will die from melanoma, the deadliest of skin cancers. With rates rising over the last 30 years, there is urgency among researchers and, also, reason to be hopeful. You’ll go inside the zebrafish room and learn how Craig Ceol, PhD and his team investigate genetic abnormalities that contribute to the growth of melanoma – making discoveries that are moving us closer to effective treatments for this deadliest of cancers.




On the leading edge: The search for an effective ALS therapy


The wildly successful Ice Bucket Challenge raised awareness and $220 million for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) research, yet 150 years after the disease was discovered, an effective treatment for this intractable condition remains elusive. For 30 years, Robert Brown, DPhil, MD, chair of neurology at UMMS, has devoted his career to caring for ALS patients while conducting breakthrough research. Brown and Chris Mueller, PhD, associate professor and principal investigator at UMMS’s Horae Gene Therapy Center, share the science behind two of the most promising potential ALS therapies. They’ll be joined by Angel Fund president Rich Kennedy, whose family has found itself on the front lines of this fight, for his perspective on ALS, advocacy and the hope that patients derive from medical research.


Coming to your yogurt: A probiotic treatment for hookworm

Biotech 2
3rd floor Board Room

Hookworm, whipworm, and Ascaris (large roundworm) infect more than 2 billion people around the globe. These parasites are the leading causes of stunted physical and cognitive development in children; malnutrition; adverse pregnancy outcomes; and loss of economic productivity worldwide. Worcester native Raffi Van Aroian, PhD, a professor of molecular medicine at UMMS, is adapting Bacillus thuringiensis crystal proteins, which have been used for decades to control crop pests, to be delivered as a probiotic food additive that could treat millions of infected patients.


Check into the hotel, check email, check-in with family

5p – whenever
72 Shrewsbury Street

Casual dinner out at Volturno Privato

Day #2
Wednesday, Dec. 6

Welcome back. We begin day two with a light breakfast and a discussion of the challenges of getting public health medicines to the public. Meet between 8:15 -8:30 a.m. in the lobby of the Albert Sherman Center.


The public health solution locked in the freezer

Multipurpose Room

Just days ago, amid a potential diphtheria crisis in Yemen, the World Health Organization’s representative in that nation called it “shocking, that in 2017, there are children dying of an ancient disease that is vaccine-preventable and can be easily treated.” Mark S. Klempner, MD, executive vice chancellor of MassBiologics of UMMS, couldn’t agree more. His team has developed a modern antitoxin that has been proven effective in preclinical testing and could save lives when outbreaks occur in unvaccinated populations. So why is this potential public health solution locked inside a Boston freezer?


A new approach to helping opioid-dependent newborns


The well-documented opioid crisis in our country threatens a new generation – between 2000 and 2012 there has been a five-fold increase in the number of fragile, opioid-dependent newborns. Babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) suffer from withdrawal symptoms including rapid heart rate, sleep problems, excessive crying and irritability. There is a pressing need for interventions that reduce drug therapies, hospitalizations and improve outcomes of this vulnerable population. Elisabeth Salisbury, PhD, research associate professor of pediatrics, is investigating how subtle vibrations from a mattress device, developed at UMMS, could improve care for NAS babies. Lawrence Rhein, MD, MPH, associate professor of pediatrics and chief in the Division of Neonatology, and NICU nurse manager Cheryl Killoran, MS, RNC join to provide their unique clinical perspectives.


What Your Dog’s DNA Reveals About Human Behavior


Could your dog’s DNA hold clues to curing a range of psychiatric disorders in pets and people? That is the question at the center of a UMass Medical School research project known as “Darwin’s Dogs.” Elinor Karlsson, PhD, an assistant professor in the program in molecular medicine at UMMS and director of the Vertebrate Genomics Group at MIT’s Broad Institute, uses our own evolution as a tool to better understand how the human genome stores and passes on inherited traits, research that can lead to advances in healthcare for humans. Why dogs? Dogs and humans share a susceptibility to dozens of neurological diseases, anxiety and post-partum stress disorder. Through “Darwin’s Dogs,” Karlsson and her team have gathered data about 14,000 dogs (and counting). By combining her expertise in the field with advanced DNA sequencing, she hopes to identify genetic changes that correlate with certain behaviors. What they discovered could help understand neural pathways to disorders in the brain.




Think Being a Doctor Is Tough? Try For Yourself


In the medical school’s state-of-the-art interprofessional Center for Experiential Learning and Simulation, (iCELS), you’ll perform virtual dissection, intubation and chest compressions; ‘treat’ an overdose patient with nasal naloxone; and visit our innovations lab. Simulation technologies – including those used to teach our opioid-conscious curriculum - are changing medical education, helping health professionals stay current, and improving the practice of health care. We’ll start with a tour, explore the potential of iCELS and then give journalists hands-on experience in the Virtual ICU. With Melissa Fischer, MD, MEd,  associate dean for undergraduate medical education, curriculum innovation & the interprofessional center for experiential learning and simulation (iCELS); Jill Terrien, PhD, ANP-BC, advanced practice nurse and assistant professor of nursing; and certified health care simulation educator Jorge Yarzebski, BA, NREMT-P.


Final Gathering


Wind down, ask questions and complete an evaluation to let us know your thoughts about the two days on campus before you head back to your newsrooms.