FirstBuild honored by GLI with Silver Fleur-de-Lis Award

FirstBuild, the unique collaboration between the University of Louisville and General Electric Co., has been honored by Greater Louisville Inc. with its prestigious Silver Fleur-de-Lis Award.

The award, presented annually by the metro chamber of commerce, recognizes outstanding achievement in Greater Louisville and is bestowed upon individuals, organizations and projects that show leadership and action and make the region a better place.

FirstBuild, a microfactory for hightech appliance design, was recognized for its cutting-edge innovation, according to GLI. The facility, which opened on the Belknap Campus in July 2014, relies on a community of engineers, scientists, designers and other innovators to address challenges facing the appliance manufacturing industry.

At FirstBuild, those innovators can build their products. If their designs prove successful, those products can be selected for mass production.

Neville Pinto, UofL’s interim provost and dean of the J.B. Speed School of Engineering, and Natarajan “Venkat” Venkatakrishnan, the lead engineer at FirstBuild, accepted the Silver Fleur-de-Lis at GLI’s annual meeting, Feb. 17.

This year’s other recipients of the award were the Big Four Pedestrian/Bicycle Bridge project and Louisville businessman Ed Hart, who led the effort to reopen Kentucky Kingdom amusement park.

UofL Trover Campus wins national academic medicine award

The Trover Campus at Baptist Health Madisonville of the University of Louisville School of Medicine received the 2014 Shining Star of Community Achievement award from the Association of American Medical Colleges’ Group on Regional Medical Campuses.

The award, presented in November, recognizes a regional academic medical program that has a positive impact on the community it serves and shows success in achieving the medical school’s social mission.

Begun in 1998 by UofL and Baptist Health Madisonville under the leadership of William Crump, MD, the Trover Rural Track has several components, all with the same goal: to address the shortage of physicians in medically underserved rural areas.

More than two-thirds of Kentucky’s counties — 81 out of 120 — are officially designated health professional shortage areas for primary care by the Health Resources and Services Administration.

“The idea is simple,” said Crump, who is associate dean for the Trover Campus and co-directs the Madisonville, Kentucky, campus with Steve Fricker, director of rural health/student affairs. “The best way to get doctors to small towns is to get medical students from small towns. Our program provides first-class, individualized clinical training in an environment that allows students to experience the small-town life.”

UofL honors Grawemeyer daughters

Marian James and Nancy Robbins, daughters of Grawemeyer Awards benefactor Charles Grawemeyer, received commemorative medals April 16 at the 2015 Grawemeyer Awards banquet in the Brown and Williamson Club at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. Their father, a University of Louisville graduate, created the awards program in 1984 to honor world-changing ideas in music, world order, psychology, education and religion. Shown from left to right are Grawemeyer Awards Executive Director Allan Dittmer, James, Robbins and President James Ramsey. A third daughter, Martha Colton, was unable to attend the ceremony.

Ildstad, Walsh earn national honors

Two researchers at the University of Louisville have been named Fellows of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI).

Suzanne T. Ildstad, MD, director of UofL’s Institute for Cellular Therapeutics, and Kevin M. Walsh, PhD, director of the Micro/Nano Technology Center, joined a group of just 170 people named Fellows of the NAI. “As a premier metropolitan research university, UofL strives to develop ideas into discoveries, then to translate these into forms that benefit all,” said UofL Executive Vice President for Research and Innovation William M. Pierce Jr., PhD. “Doctors Ildstad and Walsh are two of our many brilliant and dedicated scholars who do this every day.”

The NAI Fellows include 16 recipients of the U.S. National Medal of Technology and Innovation, 10 recipients of the U.S. National Medal of Science, 21 Nobel Laureates, 107 American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellows and 62 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Fellows.

Public health and medical students help feed a village

The Ebola outbreak spread throughout West Africa, disrupting already weak infrastructures and exacerbating food shortages in the region. In an effort to help with the global relief efforts, public health and medical students joined together to raise money for humanitarian aid. The effort, led by MPH student Allison Siu and other public health faculty, staff and students, resulted in $1,000 used to feed a small village in Sierra Leone.

In addition, Siu collaborated with medical students to organize an educational workshop about the outbreak, the disease process and the role of health professionals in Louisville.

“This experience will serve as a landmark for the start of my practice in public health. As such, the epidemic is not yet over, Ebola has not been eradicated, and the need is still present,” Siu said. “My hope is that public health will continue to play a role in educating individuals and eliminating the spread of Ebola. There is no way for countries to solve these issues on their own, so the global investment is crucial.”

2015 spring commencement

The University of Louisville graduated nearly 3,000 students this spring. School of Medicine graduate Dylan Brock, whose ancestor James Guthrie was UofL’s second president, addressed the afternoon crowd, while in the evening ceremony, College of Education and Human Development doctoral fellow Per Svensson discussed his research on how sports can foster positive social change.

UofL pediatric specialists help create another Kentucky pioneer

As 2015 began, Lacey Miller seemed a typical first-grader. She loved the movie “Frozen,” Tinker Bell and playing with her dog and pet sheep. But just a few weeks later, the 7-year-old Trimble County girl made medical history as the first child to receive a ventricular assist device in Kentucky.

Lacey’s story began with what her parents thought was a virus. Because she did not feel well or breathe normally, her family took her to a pediatrician in her hometown of Benton, Kentucky.

The doctor realized Lacey had something much more serious. He admitted her to a local hospital, where more testing determined she had an enlarged heart. Within hours, the “Just for Kids” Transport Team Mobile Intensive Care Unit sped her to Kosair Children’s Hospital in Louisville, where she was admitted Jan. 21.

“She was fine, and then she wasn’t,” said Lacey’s mother, Jessica Harmon. “It’s amazing how fast everything happened.”

At Kosair Children’s Hospital, doctors with University of Louisville Physicians told her family Lacey had congestive heart failure due to a condition that causes enlargement of the pumping chambers of the heart. The condition often has no symptoms until things have progressed significantly. Lacey received medications in the intensive care unit, and Joshua Sparks, MD, a cardiologist with the UofL Department of Pediatrics, told her family she may ultimately need a heart transplant.

A few days later Lacey’s situation changed dramatically when her heart stopped beating. Her doctors, including Deborah Kozik, DO, a UofL pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon, placed her on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, or ECMO, a form of life support, with the hope her heart would strengthen. After a week with poor results, they determined Lacey’s only option was to have a ventricular assist device (VAD) implanted to support her failing heart and keep her alive until a suitable donor heart could be found.

Just 10 days after going to school and playing with her two younger sisters, Lacey received the HeartWare HVAD on Jan. 30, with a specialized pump surgically inserted into her heart by Erle Austin, MD, a UofL pediatric cardiac surgeon, and Mark Slaughter, MD, chair of the UofL Department of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery and surgical director of the Kosair Children’s Hospital heart transplant program. Connected to an external power source hidden in a sparkly pink backpack, it removes blood from the left side of her heart and pumps it to her body.

Within a few weeks, Lacey moved freely around the hospital, leaving her room to ride a bike in the hallways, playfully bumping doctors and nurses and visiting friends she made.

“At the time she had her surgery, she was very weak, very debilitated,” said Slaughter. “The goal is to get them to survive to transplant. But she’s really bounced back extremely well.”

Outcomes have improved for children with Lacey’s condition with the introduction of VADs as a bridge to heart transplantation, and Sparks, who also serves as medical director of the Kosair Children’s Hospital heart failure and transplant programs, said Lacey’s long-term prognosis is good. The device is allowing her to build up strength for when she receives her new heart.

“She’s a brave little girl. She wouldn’t smile or anything, and now she’s out riding a bike. She’s happy — you wouldn’t think that she’s been through anything,” her mother said.

Lacey left the hospital on April 1 to go home and wait. She joins two other children in Kentucky waiting for a new heart, which typically takes three to six months.

“This has been overwhelming for all of us … a big whirlwind,” her mother said.

Interim provost looks to build on successes

President James Ramsey didn’t have to look far for an interim provost to succeed Shirley Willihnganz, who stepped down from that position June 30. (See story page 32.)

Ramsey named Neville Pinto, dean of UofL’s J.B. Speed School of Engineering, to serve as interim executive vice president and provost beginning July 1.

“Dr. Pinto is passionate about teaching students in new ways and developing collaborations between academic units and community partners,” Ramsey said, adding that Pinto is “the perfect fit” to fill the position.

“I am honored to be asked to take on this new role,” Pinto said. “Under President Ramsey’s leadership, I look forward to building on the momentum that Provost Willihnganz has established during her distinguished tenure.”

Pinto has been dean of Speed and professor of chemical engineering since September 2011. His accomplishments include leading development of the 39-acre Belknap Engineering and Applied Sciences Research Park behind Speed. He led negotiations to bring General Electric’s FirstBuild microfactory to UofL, inspired GE to add UofL to the list of schools from which it recruits new engineers and began offering masters level engineering courses at GE’s Appliance Park.

UofL MBA team claims 1st place in international business competition

University of Louisville entrepreneurial MBA student team Inscope Medical Solutions team members Adam Casson, Maggie Galloway, Mary Nan Mallory and Will Coburn surround entrepreneurship professor Van Clouse (center) after taking the top prize at the Global Venture Labs Investment Competition in Austin, Texas. The team, which is marketing a wireless laryngoscope, will close the NASDAQ stock market in August. In 2011, UofL’s MBA team TNG Pharmaceuticals won the same competition, commonly referred to as the Super Bowl of investment competitions.