Cancer diagnosis data a focus during Celebration of Research

H. Gilbert Welch, MD, MPH, a professor of medicine at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, was the keynote speaker during Celebration of Research.
Leighton James, MD, a professor of medicine in the division of nephrology and hypertension, won this year’s Robert C. Nuss Researcher/Scholar Award! James. He’s pictured with UF COMJ Dean Leon Haley Jr., MD, left, and former Dean Robert Nuss, MD, after whom the award is named.
Jonathan Mccabe, MD, DMD, an oral and maxillofacial surgery resident, won first place in the poster presentation competition.
Mahlet Girma, MD, a psychiatry resident, won first place in the platform presentation competition.
Grant Nelson, DO, MPH, an internal medicine resident, stands beside his research presentation centering on recurrent pulmonary infection — one of nearly 120 poster and platform presentations that were part of Celebration of Research.
Students from nearby Darnell-Cookman Middle/High School of the Medical Arts submitted science presentations as part of the event. Those students were recognized during the awards portion of the program.

On-campus research and discovery recognized at annual event

H. Gilbert Welch, MD, MPH, says there’s a problem with cancer overdiagnosis that isn’t getting enough attention. The trend has resulted in misplaced fear, unnecessary treatment and misleading survival statistics.

Welch, a professor of medicine at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, was the keynote speaker during Celebration of Research at the University of Florida College of Medicine – Jacksonville, held May 18 inside the Learning Resource Center. His presentation focused on the rate of cancer screening and diagnosis in the United States and abroad.

He places cancers into three main categories: “birds” (the cancers that progress rapidly), “rabbits” (cancers that progress more slowly), and “turtles” (the ones that don’t grow at all or grow so slowly that they would never harm people during their lifetime). He said people with the rabbits are the ones who benefit greatly from screenings.

“Screening can’t help with the birds. The birds are already gone,” Welch said. “The turtles don’t need to be found because these cancers aren’t going anywhere. Unfortunately, screening is really good at finding turtles.”

Welch showed the audience various slides and charts that illustrate the rate of cancer diagnosis compared to cancer-related deaths over similar time periods. The data highlighted rising incidence of diagnosis, yet the mortality rate remained relatively stable.

Though treatments have improved, Welch said there’s too much diagnosis of “turtles” — leading to the belief that lives are being saved because of screening. He added that there’s a one-to-10 ratio of mortality benefit versus harm caused by overdiagnosis.

“Sometimes we can all be misled by cancer survival statistics,” Welch said. “Screening offers the potential benefit of avoiding advanced cancer and subsequent cancer death for a few. But it also produces the harms of false alarms, overdiagnosis and unnecessary treatment for many others. The overdiagnosis problem makes you realize you have to think about these cancer statistics differently.”

Nuss Researcher/Scholar Award

Leighton James, MD, a professor of medicine in the division of nephrology and hypertension, won this year’s Robert C. Nuss Researcher/Scholar Award.

The award, named after the former UF COMJ dean, is given annually to a UF faculty member in Jacksonville who has a distinguished record of current research that places that person among the leaders in his or her respective academic discipline.

Leighton, who’s been at UF COMJ since 2010, has focused his research on intermediary metabolism, diabetes and kidney disease. He has been investigating mechanisms involved in the development of diabetic nephropathy — including hexosamine pathway, inflammations and oxidative stress involvement in hyperglycemic kidney injury.

He is the co-principal investigator of an ongoing research study titled Mechano-Growth Factor (MGF) Roles in Diabetic Glomerulosclerosis: A New Factor Promoting Diabetic Kidney Disease. His research into the mechanism of diabetic nephropathy is key to understanding the various processes that contribute to this common cause of kidney failure and end-stage renal disease.

Poster and platform presentations

Of the residents and fellows who submitted presentations for Celebration of Research, six were chosen for poster presentation awards and six received platform presentation awards for their excellence:

Poster presentation winners

  • 1st place: Jonathan Mccabe, MD, DMD, oral and maxillofacial surgery; Quantitative Analysis of Facial Soft Tissue Perfusion During Hypotensive Anesthesia Using Spy Laser-Assisted Fluorescence Angiography Technology
  • 2nd place: Tushar Gupta, MD, emergency medicine; Influence of Sequential Organ Failure Assessment (SOFA) Score in Predicting In-Hospital Mortality from Sepsis: Does the Type of Organ Failure Matter?
  • 3rd place:  Ankita Taneja, MD, pediatrics; Comparison of Conventional and NAVA Ventilation in Preterm Infants
  • 4th place: Kristine Tibavisky, MD, obstetrics and gynecology; Pharmacy Access to Ulipristal Acetate in Jacksonville, FL: A Secret Shopper Survey
  • 5th place: Naila Choudhary, MD, medicine; The Effect of Atorvastatin on Thrombogenic, Lipogenic and Inflammatory Markers in Women with Metabolic Syndrome
  • 6th place: Rubymel Knupp, MD, obstetrics and gynecology; The Implementation of a TDAP Vaccination Program for Low-income Pregnant Women at UF Health Jacksonville

Platform presentation winners

  • 1st place: Mahlet Girma, MD, psychiatry; Effects of Teacher Gender on Child Emotional and Behavioral Ratings: An Epidemiological Study
  • 2nd place: Jared Roeckner, MD, obstetrics and gynecology; BMI, Operative Time, Anesthesia Time and Cost During Cesarean Delivery
  • 3rd place:  Lori Gurien, MD, MPH, surgery; It's Déjà Vu All Over Again: Reassessing the Utility of CT Angiograms in Penetrating Injuries to the Extremities
  • 4th place: Caronia Wallace-Fair, DO, emergency medicine; Sonographic Measurement of the Inferior Vena Cava and Aorta Diameters in Children From 4 Months to 8 Years of Age Presenting to the Pediatric Emergency Department and the Utility of These Measurements in Assessing Dehydration in Children
  • 5th place: Miriam Andrea Duque, MD, pathology and laboratory medicine; Pre-transfusion Test Result Comparison of Heel Stick Sample with Placental Blood Sample
  • 6th place: Pamela Brownlee, DO, surgery; Superomedial Pedicle Reduction Mammaplasty: Increased Resection Weight Does Not Increase Nipple Necrosis

The event, sponsored by the Office of Research Affairs, also included science presentations by students from nearby Darnell-Cookman Middle/High School of the Medical Arts. They were recognized during the awards portion of the program.

“Congratulations to everyone who was recognized and participated during Celebration of Research 2017,” said Leon L. Haley Jr., MD, MHSA, FACEP, CPE, dean of UF COMJ. “The presentations were outstanding and highlighted medical discovery that continues to occur on our campus. In addition, we were treated to a great keynote presentation by Dr. Welch. The day was truly a success.”