Facebook Icon Youtube Icon Twitter Icon Flickr Icon Vimeo Icon RSS Icon Itunes Icon Pinterest Icon
Friday, April 28, 2017

Search Google Appliance

UMD Capitol Hill Forum Addresses Health Disparities Research & Action for Equity

September 23, 2016
Contacts: 

Contacts: Elise Carbonaro, 301-405-6501

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland, in collaboration with Rep. John P. Sarbanes and the Big Ten Academic Alliance, recently convened more than 100 people for a Research on the Hill forum focused on strategies to achieve health equity at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C. Moderated by Stephen B. Thomas, Ph.D., professor and director of the Maryland Center for Health Equity in the UMD School of Public Health, the panel discussion engaged experts from academia, federal health agencies and the private business sector in a candid conversation about how to eliminate racial and ethnic health disparities among vulnerable populations.

“Our exploratory research holds the solutions to many of the most challenging problems of our day,” said UMD Vice President and Chief Research Officer Patrick G. O’Shea, Ph.D. “As a university, it is our mission to create and understand knowledge to develop better ways to house and heal and fuel and feed our people in advanced societies that are just, secure, and free. Achieving health equity touches on the ‘heal’ aspect of that mission.”

The topics ranged from the progress that has been made in access to medical care as a result of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to challenges that still remain in improving quality of care and in making the medical care system incorporate public health and address the social determinants of health that prevent people from acting health promotion and disease prevention recommendations. 

“The state of Maryland has embraced the ACA and there is clear evidence that the new incentives are indeed moving hospital systems away from a fee-for-service business model to one that rewards quality care and positive health outcomes over the volume of procedures,” said Thomas. “While the transition is not perfect, our state is a national leader for what the future of health care will look like.”

Panel members shared examples of effective and innovative community-based health interventions and public-private partnerships that are making a difference through culturally-tailored health promotion and disease prevention services, and highlighted the emergence of social determinants of health such as poverty, discrimination and residential segregation as factors that must be overcome.

 “I’m convinced that if you address racial and ethnic disparities with respect to the delivery of health care and health care coverage in this country, you will build the best health care system we can possibly have because diversity is our country’s hallmark,” said Congressman Sarbanes, who, as a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, has been a tireless advocate for improving healthcare quality and addressing health disparities.
 
To achieve health equity, researchers, policymakers, and industry leaders must address broader issues beyond the traditional biomedical model and build trust between those who control health care delivery system and those who have lost hope in the system, said members of the panel. 

The panelists recommended that health equity be incorporated into all public policies, not just those related to health care, to reduce and ultimately eliminate health disparities. 

Panel members included:

  • Margo Edmunds, Ph.D., Vice President, Evidence Generation and Translation at Academy Health;
  • J. Nadine Gracia, M.D., M.S.C.E., Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health and Director of the Office of Minority Health within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services;
  • Julia Huggins, President of Cigna Mid-Atlantic;
  • Kolawole Okuyemi, M.D., MPH, Professor of the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, Director of the Program in Health Disparities Research and Inaugural Endowed Chair for Health Equity at the University of Minnesota; and
  • Eliseo Pérez-Stable, M.D., Director of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities at the National Institutes of Health.

House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer, who represents Maryland’s 5th Congressional District and is a distinguished UMD alumnus, also joined the event and emphasized that as an interconnected community, we should all care about health disparities.
 
“It is unacceptable that in the United States, where all are created equal in the words of our Declaration of Independence, that one’s access to healthcare may be higher or lower as a result of race, gender, or income,” said Congressman Hoyer. “Everybody being healthy is of concern to each and every one of us.”
 
He discussed how we must continue to defend the patient protections that Americans are benefiting from thanks to the ACA, such as the no-cost access to preventive services like mammograms and immunizations, as well as remind people of the dramatic increase in the number of people, particularly people of color, who now have health coverage as a result.

The event was held as part of the University of Maryland’s Research on the Hill series, which is aimed at raising awareness of research with great societal significance.

View the conversation at: https://youtu.be/HPedKr0jZLQ

UMD Study Finds Connecting Uninsured Patients to Primary Care Could Reduce ER Use

May 6, 2015
Contacts: 

Kelly Blake 301-405-9418
Hillery Tsumba 301-628-3425

Montgomery County, Md. Initiative Could Improve Health, Reduce Costs

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – An intervention to connect low-income uninsured and Medicaid patients to a reliable source of primary health care shows promise for reducing avoidable use of hospital emergency departments in Maryland. A University of Maryland School of Public Health study evaluating the results of the intervention was published this week in the May issue of the journal Health Affairs

For twenty years, use of hospital emergency departments has been on the rise in the United States, particularly among low-income patients who face barriers to accessing health care outside of hospitals, including not having an identifiable primary health care provider. Almost half of emergency room visits are considered “avoidable.” The Emergency Department-Primary Care Connect Initiative of the Primary Care Coalition, which ran from 2009 through 2011, linked low-income uninsured and Medicaid patients to safety-net health clinics. 

“Our study found that uninsured patients with chronic health issues – such as those suffering from hypertension, diabetes, asthma, COPD, congestive heart failure, depression or anxiety – relied less on the emergency department after they were linked to a local health clinic for ongoing care,” says Dr. Karoline Mortensen, assistant professor of health services administration at the University of Maryland School of Public Health and senior researcher. “Connecting patients to primary care and expanding the availability of these safety-net clinics could reduce emergency department visits and provide better continuity of care for vulnerable populations.”  

Funded by a grant from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the initiative engaged all five of the hospitals operating in Montgomery County, Maryland at the time, and four safety-net clinics serving low-income patients. Using “patient navigators,” individuals trained to help patients find the care they need and can afford, these hospitals referred more than 10,000 low-income, uninsured and Medicaid patients who visited emergency departments to four local primary care clinics, with the goal of encouraging them to establish an ongoing relationship with the clinic and reduce their reliance on costly emergency department care. 

Two hospitals in Montgomery County who participated in the intervention continued the program after the initial grant period concluded because of the benefits they saw for patients and for reducing emergency department visits and associated costs. These hospitals are currently testing a new version of the intervention specifically deigned to link emergency department patients with behavioral health conditions to appropriate community-based services. 

While hospital administrators and health policy experts throughout the country are recognizing that access to primary care improves continuity of care for patients and reduces avoidable use of emergency departments, the implications of this project are particularly important for hospitals in Maryland, which are now operating under a unique all-payer model for hospital payments. Within this new payment structure, Maryland hospitals will have to meet ambitious spending, quality of care, and population health goals. Reducing avoidable use of emergency departments can help in reaching these goals.

The project provides promise not only for hospitals in Maryland but throughout the nation to improve health care experiences and outcomes for their patients. Shared learning systems were an integral component of the project so participants were learning from each other and sharing best practices throughout the project and that learning has now been documented and can be replicated in other communities.

“This was an incredibly rewarding project to work on,” says Barbara H. Eldridge, Manager of Quality Improvement at the Primary Care Coalition. “We created a learning system that permits us to sustain improved communication between patients and their providers, between hospital discharge planners and community based clinics, and across five hospitals operating in Montgomery County.” The initiative has proven successful in Montgomery County, Maryland and is being replicated in communities in other parts of the country. 

“Linking Uninsured Patients Treated In The Emergency Department To Primary Care Shows Some Promise In Maryland” was written by Theresa Y. Kim, Karoline Mortensen, and Barbara Eldridge and published in the journal Health Affairs

University Launches Dynamic, Interactive Information Website UMD Right Now

December 4, 2012
Contacts: 

Crystal Brown 301-405-4618 crystalb@umd.edu

College Park, Md. – Today, the University of Maryland launched a brand-new multimedia news and information portal, UMD Right Now, which provides members of the media and the public with real-time information on the university and its extended community.

UMD Right Now replaces Newsdesk, which previously served as the university’s news hub and central resource for members of the media. The new site is aimed at reaching broader audiences and allows visitors to keep up with the latest Maryland news and events, view photos and videos and connect with the university across all of its social media platforms.

“We designed UMD Right Now to be a comprehensive, vibrant site where visitors can find new and exciting things happening at Maryland,” said Linda Martin, executive director, Web and New Media Strategies. “Through social media, video, photos and news information, we hope to engage visitors and compel the community to explore all that Maryland has to offer.”

The new website, umdrightnow.umd.edu, contains up-to-date news releases and announcements, facts and figures about the university, a searchable database of faculty and staff experts, information highlighting innovation and entrepreneurship at UMD, additional resources for news media and other campus and athletics news.

“UMD RightNow is the place to go to find out all the things happening on and around campus on any given day,” said Crystal Brown, chief communications officer. “This website brings real-time news, events and information right to your fingertips.”

For more information and contact information for the Office of University Communications, please visit umdrightnow.umd.edu.

UMD’s Rita Colwell, World-Renowned Microbiologist and Science Leader, to Receive the Vannevar Bush Award

April 26, 2017
Contacts: 

Lee Tune, University of Maryland College Park, (301) 405-4679

Kim Silverman, National Science Board Office, (703) 292-4515

 

 

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Rita Rossi Colwell, Distinguished University Professor in the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies, will receive the 2017 Vannevar Bush Award, the National Science Board (NSB) announced today. The NSB, which supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science, will present Colwell with the award on May 9 during the National Science Foundation (NSF) Annual Awards Ceremony held in Washington, D.C. 

The Vannevar Bush Award honors truly exceptional lifelong leaders in science and technology who have made substantial contributions to the welfare of the nation through public service activities in science, technology, and public policy. Colwell, whose work bridges many areas, including microbiology, ecology, infectious disease, public health and computer and satellite technology is recognized for her significant, life-saving contributions in the areas of global infectious diseases, water and health. 

"It is a great honor for me to be the recipient of the 2017 Vannevar Bush Award. It is extraordinarily humbling when one looks at the remarkable people who have received this award in the past," Colwell said. "This is a challenging time for science and a difficult one for those scientists, engineers, and technologists who are pursuing discovery and creativity driven research. Dr. Bush can be considered the father of the research enterprise of our country.  It is especially gratifying to me to be honored for research and educational accomplishments as that would be the very spirit of Vannevar Bush and his hope for the future as he saw it. As a woman I am proud to be a scientist and contributing as part of the entire talent pool that allows the U.S. to continue to excel." 

Colwell’s passion for science was obvious at an early age. As a sixth-grader, her school principal said to her, “You received the highest science test score ever.  You have a responsibility to meet your potential and you must go to college.” But this was in the 1940s, and discrimination against women, especially in the sciences, was an obstacle.  Hurdles she faced included a high school science teacher who told her not to bother with chemistry in college, as it was not a career suitable for women, and a department chair who denied her a master’s degree fellowship because they were “wasted on women.” Colwell’s steely determination to succeed was apparent, then and now.

Her decision to pursue a career in genetics introduced her to the emerging field of molecular biology and the very earliest use of computers in the pursuit of understanding complex biological systems. In the 1960s, Colwell was the first researcher in the U.S to develop a computer program to analyze bacteriological data. She continued and expanded this work at the University of Maryland, which she joined as a tenured professor in 1972. Today, bioinformatics is used at the very forefront of biological scientific research due to her efforts, along with colleagues, to promote the use of computing tools to facilitate the study of biology.

Colwell’s lifelong passion for studying environmental microbiology, especially in marine environments was fostered by her childhood fascination with the ocean. This passion led to her discovery, in the 1970s, of the presence of Vibrio cholerae, the causative agent of cholera, in the waters of Chesapeake Bay. At the time, conventional wisdom held that cholera was spread from person to person, or from consuming tainted food or drinking water and that its presence in the environment could only be due to the release of sewage into rivers, lakes, streams, and other waters. She proved that the bacteria were native to the aquatic environment, attached to zooplankton, and that that certain bacteria, such as Vibrio species, are capable of entering a dormant state.

The last cholera epidemic in Central and South America in the 1990s brought this disease and Colwell’s work onto the world stage. Colwell advised numerous governments and groups during this epidemic; her extensive knowledge of the organism, public health, genetics, and ecology was used to combat the disease and save numerous lives. She assisted Ecuador to address this epidemic by providing rapid identification of V. cholerae in the hospitals and in the shrimp industry, the latter being a major portion of Ecuador’s gross national product at the time. Similarly, she worked with IMARPE in Peru, playing a role in the development of drinking water criteria that helped guide policies to curb spread of the disease.

Today, bacterial zoonosis is a well-established and increasingly important field of study. Colwell’s interdisciplinary work paved the way for researchers from ecological disciplines and epidemiological disciplines to cross over into each other’s area of study, leading to a better understanding of disease transmission and ways to approach their control.

“Rita Colwell’s leadership and contributions to science and humanity are extraordinary. She made numerous scientific advances and revolutionary discoveries that have been translated into preventing countless of people from suffering with cholera,” said Vicki Chandler, chair of the NSB’s Committee on Honorary Awards. “Rita is a positive role model, both in her passion for her work, her amazing record of service to science nationally and worldwide and in her resolve to succeed and make a difference in spite of barriers.  The National Science Board is proud to bestow her with this award.”

Colwell is distinguished university professor at UMD and the Johns Hopkins University, Bloomberg School of Public Health, the senior advisor and chairman emeritus at Canon US Life Sciences, Inc. and the founder and chairman at CosmosID, Inc. She has received numerous awards and recognitions, including 55 honorary degrees from institutions of higher education and is the recipient of the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star, bestowed by the Emperor of Japan, 2006 National Medal of Science awarded by the President of the United States, and 2010 Stockholm Water Prize awarded by the King of Sweden.  A geological site in Antarctica, Colwell Massif, has been named in recognition of her work in the Polar Regions.

Colwell served as the 11th director of the National Science Foundation and co-chair of the Committee on Science, National Science and Technology Council.  She has held a number of advisory positions in the U.S. Government, nonprofit science policy organizations, and private foundations and has authored or co-authored 17 books and more than 800 scientific publications.  Colwell also served as chairman of the Board of Governors of the American Academy of Microbiology, president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Washington Academy of Sciences, American Society for Microbiology, Sigma Xi National Science Honorary Society, International Union of Microbiological Societies, and American Institute of Biological Sciences.  She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm, Royal Society of Canada, Royal Irish Academy, Bangladesh Academy of Science, Indian Academy of Science, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and American Philosophical Society.  

The NSB established the award in 1980 in the memory of Vannevar Bush, who served as a science advisor to President Franklin Roosevelt during World War II, helped to establish Federal funding for science and engineering as a national priority during peacetime, and was behind the creation of the National Science Foundation. The NSB and the National Science Foundation Past award recipients include: Norman Augustine (Lockheed Martin), James Duderstadt (University of Michigan), Leon Lederman (Fermilab), Shirley Ann Jackson (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute), David Packard (Hewlett-Packard Company), and most recently Robert Birgeneau (University of California, Berkeley). 

Jointly, the NSB and the NSF Director pursue the goals and function of the NSF, an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. The National Science Board also serves as an independent body of advisors to the U.S.  President and Congress on policy matters related to science and engineering and education in science and engineering.

 

 

 

 

Hundreds of Free Activities Planned for UMD’s 19th Annual Maryland Day

April 24, 2017
Contacts: 

Natifia Mullings, 301-405-4076

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland will host its 19th annual Maryland Day on Saturday, April 29 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event, a campus-wide celebration of innovation, creativity and academic excellence, offers more than 400 free, educational, family-friendly activities that teach and inspire future innovators.  

Events and activities will span the entire campus, across six learning neighborhoods: Terp Town Center, Ag Day Avenue, Art & Design Place, Biz & Society Hill, Sports & Rec Row and Science & Tech Way.

Highlights for this year’s Maryland Day include:

  • No Excuses Workout and World Record Attempt – University of Maryland alumnus and celebrity trainer Steve Jordan will lead a group fitness exercise and an attempt to break the world record for most people to hold an abdominal plank for 60 seconds.
  • Do Good – Learn, serve and grow with UMD students who are taking on real-world issues. #DoGoodUMD while participating in community service efforts and a scavenger hunt for prizes. UMD chefs will also prepare Do Good recipes that are cost-effective, taste great and offer plenty of variety.
  • The Portal – Connect with someone across the world! Portals is a global network of gold-painted shipping containers that are equipped with immersive audio and video technology that allows guests to experience face-to-face communication though thousands of miles apart.
  • Men’s and Women’s Basketball, and Football Autograph Sessions – Join members of the teams for a photo and autograph session. Members of the football team will also facilitate a training activity.
  • An Afternoon with Sonia De Los Santos – Latin children’s music artist, De Los Santos, performs family-friendly music that reflects on her experiences growing up in Mexico, moving to another country and learning about other countries.
  • Glenn L. Martin Wind Tunnel – Experience rare access to the university’s wind tunnel, which has been used in aerodynamics research since 1949.
  • One Stop Health Fair – The university, along with its community partners, will offer free health screenings and health information.
  • Kid Play Theatre Workshop –A half-hour acting workshop for budding actors includes fun theater games.
  • Maryland Equestrian Club Horse Show–The club hosts a live horse show, exciting demonstrations and interactive opportunities for the whole family. 

In addition, visitors can learn about UMD’s schools and colleges, participate in a campus tour, catch up with fellow Terps, attend a UMD vs. Penn State softball game, and enjoy live performances and food.

To view the full Maryland Day schedule, visit www.MarylandDay.umd.edu. Follow the celebration and join on social media with #MarylandDay.

Maryland Day will take place rain or shine. Parking and admission are free.

 

 

 

 

UMD Announces Finalists for Annual Do Good Challenge

April 21, 2017
Contacts: 

Kaitlin Ahmad, 301-405-6360

COLLEGE PARK, Md.–  The University of Maryland’s Do Good Institute, housed in the School of Public Policy, today announced the finalists for its annual Do Good Challenge, a spring semester competition that inspires students to take a cause or issue they are passionate about and create the greatest social impact possible. The campus-wide challenge encourages students to take fearless ideas that spark innovative solutions to change lives locally and globally. 

Six student-run teams – addressing issues ranging from children’s health to medication recovery to sexual assault prevention – have been selected from more than 90 teams t0 pitch their project or venture to a panel of judges and an audience of hundreds for a chance to win a share of more than $20,000 in prize money.

This year’s finalists include:

  • Kodactive aims to make computer science more accessible through a project-based platform that uses interactive, immersive, programmable STEM toys.
  • Symbiont Health is developing an automated fall detection system that connects primary care physicians with their patients and collects real-time, vital diagnostic information used to reduce emergency responder time.
  • Preventing Sexual Assault aspires to change the culture of sexual assault in all communities at the University of Maryland by educating the community, supporting survivors and advocating for change.
  • TerpThon hosts year-round fundraising efforts that culminate in a 12-hour Dance Marathon to stand in support of current and former patient families of Children’s Miracle Network Hospital.
  • The James Hollister Wellness Foundation saves viable medications for developing nations while reducing the toxic pollutants resulting from pharmaceutical and medical waste.
  • Vintage Voices aims to improve the mental health and quality of life for elderly living in long-term care facilities through the power of music.

The Challenge will take place on April 26 at 6 pm. at the University of Maryland’s Clarice Smith Center for Performing Arts. This year’s Challenge is being judged Sherrese Clark, Managing Director, Morgan Stanley; Kirsten Craft, Program Manager, Center for Social Value Creation & 2015 Do Good Challenge Winner; and Rajiv Vinnakota, Executive Vice President of the Youth & Engagement Division, Aspen Institute. 

The Do Good Challenge started in 2012. Over the last three years, two Do Good Challenge finalists have been named to Forbes's list of top 30 social entrepreneurs under 30 and one venture received a $100,000 investment from an investor on Shark Tank. For more information about the Do Good Institute and the Do Good Challenge visit dogood.umd.edu

 

UMD Announces University Sustainability Fund 2017 Projects

April 20, 2017
Contacts: 

Andrew Muir, 301-405-7068 

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- On the eve of the nation’s 47th Earth Day, the University of Maryland’s Office of Sustainability is pleased to announce its Sustainability Fund projects approved for 2017. The Sustainability Fund provides grants to students, faculty and staff for the implementation of projects that will improve sustainability on campus or in the local community.

Projects approved for funding by the Student Sustainability Fund Review Committee and the University Sustainability Council include:

“This year, we received a number of outstanding proposals,” said Scott Lupin, director, Office of Sustainability. “The University Sustainability Fund is an ongoing commitment by the undergraduate students to support real projects that further campus sustainability efforts. Each of the approved projects lend themselves to furthering the campus standing as a model of a green university.” 

Starting fall 2018, the Master’s Degree in Sustainability will offer two capstone project courses focused on recent developments in analytics, technology, and implementation strategies. In the capstone courses, students will work on projects driven by compelling issues for actual case studies, such as the university’s sustainability goals.

“The Master’s Degree in Sustainability grant is an exciting new educational development, setting forth steps to create an interdisciplinary sustainability master’s degree program at UMD,” said Jelena Srebric, professor, Mechanical Engineering. “The main project idea is to have a program that integrates interested university departments, institutes and colleges to create a campus-wide offering.”   

The Solar Decathlon grant marks an important multi-discipline collaboration for the university. UMD won first place in the 2011 Solar Decathlon for its WaterShed house, which can be viewed at the Pepco Facility in Rockville, Md. The School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation and the A. James Clark School of Engineering are leading this year’s entry, entitled (re) ACT.    

"The Sustainability Fund grant is crucial to supporting Team Maryland's efforts in the Solar Decathlon 2017,” said Raymond Adomaitis, professor, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. “The grant comes at a time when we are completing the house design. The funds will be used to support student-led prototyping and system integration teams to assess and fine-tune our design innovations."

Another noteworthy project includes “Student Leadership in Community Sustainability and Resiliency.” This grant aims to accelerate undergraduate and graduate student involvement in the development and implementation of sustainability and resiliency projects on campus and in the surrounding communities. 

"The university is expanding our collaborative engagement off campus, and students will play a critical role in making these initiatives a success,” said Andrew Fellows, director of the Campus Community Connection (C3) project, which is housed under the National Center for Smart Growth and the iSchool. “Enhanced experiential learning opportunities, expansion of applied research and better communications with campus neighbors are just a few of the benefits of student leadership.”

The Fund continues to support maintaining and improving existing campus infrastructure and buildings. Grants will be issued for projects to enhance and increase recycling on campus and in Old Town, as well as providing project support for energy efficient lighting upgrades in Ritchie Coliseum and evaluating the efficiency of several campus buildings.

Research and education will also continue to be a focus for the Fund, with grants issued to support the creation of a Carbon Management Course in the Department of Environmental Science and Technology, Gemstone research projects, and the Voices of Social Change lecture by Jean-Michel Costeau on UMD Social Justice Day.

The Sustainability Fund was created in April 2007 after 91 percent of undergraduate students voted in favor of increasing student fees to create a University Sustainability Fund. Since 2011, the fund has granted $1.8 million to 108 sustainability projects.  For more information about the University Sustainability Fund, please visit sustainabilityfund.umd.edu; to watch a short video on how UMD makes a big impact through small steps click here.

Students, faculty, and staff will come together to celebrate campus sustainability at the UMD Earth Day Festival on Friday, April 21 from Noon-4pm at the Stamp Grand Ballroom. Featured speakers include Dr. Sacoby Wilson, School of Public Health and Dean Gregory Ball, College of Behavioral and Social Sciences. For a full listing of Earth Day and Earth Month events, visit go.umd.edu/earthmonth

UMD Graduate Student Wins Prestigious Lemelson-MIT Student Prize for Innovative Bioengineering

April 19, 2017
Contacts: 

Alyssa Wolice, 301-405-3936

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Lisa Tostanoski, a graduate student in the University of Maryland’s Fischell Department of Bioengineering, has won a $15,000 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize following a highly competitive nationwide search for the most inventive college students. Tostanoski was selected for her efforts to develop two novel biomaterials-based strategies to combat multiple sclerosis (MS) and other autoimmune diseases.

 

Photo of Tostanoski"Ms. Tostanoski’s innovation gives me great hope for the future of human health and patient care," said Darryll J. Pines, dean of the University of Maryland’s A. James Clark School of Engineering. “Fresh approaches to bioengineering have the potential to impact millions of patients. I am incredibly proud of her and the resolve of our entire Fischell Department of Bioengineering in their efforts to dramatically alter the course of intractable diseases.”

 

The nine recipients of this year’s collegiate competition were selected from a diverse applicant pool of undergraduate and graduate students from colleges and universities across the country. Tostanoski was one of two graduate students awarded this year’s prize for the “Cure it!” category, which recognizes students working on technology-based inventions that can improve health care.

 

“Multiple sclerosis is estimated to affect 2.3 million people worldwide,” said Tostanoski, a member of the Fischell Department of Bioengineering Jewell Research Lab, led by assistant professor Christopher Jewell. “While current clinical therapies provide important benefits for patients, they are limited by off-target effects, which leave patients immunocompromised. They also lack cure-potential, which means patients receive regular, lifelong treatments.”

 

Recently, scientists have explored the potential to use vaccine-like therapies to treat autoimmunity. Such techniques aim to specifically control the body’s mistaken attack of “self-molecules” – like myelin in MS – while leaving the rest of the immune system intact. In MS, the immune system incorrectly sees myelin – which insulates and protects nerves fibers in the brain – as foreign. Thus, in MS immune cells enter the brain and attack myelin, leading to slow loss of motor function and other complications. Current therapies for this disease work by decreasing the activity of the immune system; but, they do so in a broadly-suppressive way that often leaves patients vulnerable to infection.

 

In search of a solution, researchers like Tostanoski are working to develop new strategies that enable control over combinations and doses of therapies that reach particular tissues in the body.

 

Tostanoski’s first project applies a targeted injection technique to deposit degradable polymer carriers – loaded with the desired therapeutic cargos – directly in lymph nodes, the tissues that coordinate the body’s immune responses. These particles slowly degrade in the lymph nodes, releasing signals that program cells not to attack “self” tissues. Instead, these cues aim to expand regulatory immune cells that could then leave the lymph nodes and move to the brain and spinal cord to control inflammation and disease. The research team, which joins together the Jewell Lab and the immunology lab of Dr. Jonathan Bromberg at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, is currently working to understand the mechanism as well as the translational potential to other disease models.

 

In the second approach, Tostanoski and fellow researchers use specialized technology to create immune polyelectrolyte multilayers (iPEMs) built entirely from immune signals. These iPEMs are self-assembled on particle templates during production. Then, the templates are dissolved to leave hollow capsules that consist only of the immune cues the lab wants to deliver, eliminating the need for carrier components.

 

Tostanoski, Jewell, and Dr. Walter Royal of the University of Maryland School of Medicine have shown that this approach controls inflammation in samples from human MS patients, and eliminates disease in mouse models of MS. This cutting-edge technique mimics useful features of biomaterial therapeutics – such as co-delivery, targeting, and “cargo” protection – but is much simpler because no carrier components are needed. Even more, this feature also eliminates the risk of activating the immune system in the unintended or unexpected ways sometimes associated with synthetic materials.

 

“More specific and effective therapies for autoimmunity could transform treatment options for patients with autoimmune disease such as multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, and lupus” said Jewell. “Lisa has really embodied the fearlessness and rigor required to bring engineering and immunology together and push these innovative ideas forward.”

 

“Lisa’s work – and that of the Jewell Research Lab – demonstrates the enormous potential for bioengineers to shape the future of human health innovation,” said John Fisher, chair of the Fischell Department of Bioengineering. “Even more, her dedication to the field extends beyond the lab, as she devotes much of her time to mentoring aspiring engineers. For these reasons, Lisa exemplifies what it means to receive the Lemelson-MIT Student Prize. We at the Fischell Department of Bioengineering applaud her on this most recent achievement, and celebrate this historical first for the University of Maryland.”

 

The Lemelson-MIT Student Prize is supported by The Lemelson Foundation. Student prize applicants were evaluated by screening committees with expertise in the invention categories, as well as a national judging panel of industry leaders. Screeners and judges assessed candidates on breadth and depth of inventiveness and creativity; potential for societal benefit and economic commercial success; community and environmental systems impact; and experience as a role model for youth.

 

“These students display the brilliance and hope of their generation,” said Dorothy Lemelson, Lemelson Foundation chair. “We are proud to recognize them for their achievements.”

 

Prior to receiving the Lemelson-MIT Student Prize, Tostanoski was named a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow and the University of Maryland’s 2015 Fischell Fellow. She has also contributed to five intellectual property filings, to date.

 

This work was supported by grants to the Jewell Research Lab from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and the National Science Foundation.

University of Maryland Welcomes AWP to Discovery District

April 17, 2017
Contacts: 

Katie Lawson, 301-405-4622

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The Association for Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) will move its offices to the University of Maryland this summer, becoming the latest addition to UMD’s Greater College Park initiative, a $2 billion public-private investment to revitalize Baltimore Avenue and the academic campus that further cultivates university-city partnerships. AWP, an organization that fosters literacy achievement, advances the art of writing, and advocates for arts and arts education, will be headquartered in the university’s Discovery District. 

As the epicenter of academic research and economic development, the Discovery District-- formerly known as M Square-- was selected by the AWP Board of Trustees for several reasons, including the university’s academic strength in creative writing, highly educated workforce, modern and spacious facilities, proximity to Washington, D.C, access to extensive mass transit, and community development.

“It is exciting to see major academic organizations, established businesses and more startups drawn to Greater College Park,” said Ken Ulman, the university’s chief strategy officer for economic development. “The addition of AWP to Discovery District strengthens the academic partnerships we have in place at UMD, and demonstrates that arts and humanities are essential in transforming College Park into a world class university community.”

For the past 50 years, AWP has grown to support 550 college and university creative writing programs, 150 writers’ conferences and centers, and 50,000 writers. AWP works with a growing number of allied literary organizations to build audiences for contemporary literature. Its conference attracts 12,000 each year, and AWP’s magazine has a growing circulation of tens of thousands of readers.

"We are delighted that AWP has chosen to relocate to the University of Maryland," said Bonnie Thornton Dill, dean of the College of Arts and Humanities. "They will join a vibrant arts and humanities community and create opportunities for students who are interested in not only writing, but also publishing, editing and nonprofit arts management."

AWP has been affiliated with a college or university since its inception in 1967. For the past 23 years, AWP has been headquartered at George Mason University.

“AWP sought a larger home that would serve AWP well for the next 20 years,” said AWP Executive Director David Fenza. “The University of Maryland will be a great headquarters for AWP as we build upon our services to writers, teachers and students. We look forward to partnering with this flagship institution and joining the dynamic intellectual life of College Park.”

The relocation of AWP to the University of Maryland will not only impact the Greater College Park community, but it is expected to boost Prince George’s County economy as well.

“Recently we announced that, since 2013, Prince George’s County has created over 15,000 new jobs,” said Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III. “I am now thrilled that we can add to that and welcome AWP to the Prince George’s County business community. The University of Maryland has worldwide recognition for its research, so it is exciting to see AWP become part of the campus’s arts and humanities fabric.  AWP and the thousands of writers, teachers, and students that it represents is a superb addition to the County’s business community.”

AWP will move into their new office on Rivertech Court at the University of Maryland in summer 2017.

 

 

 

UMD Research Provides Comprehensive Monitoring of Forest Loss in Brazilian Amazon

April 14, 2017
Contacts: 

Sara Gavin, 301-405-1733

College Park, Md.—New research led by the University of Maryland (UMD) employs satellite image time series to better understand the dynamics of forest cover loss in the Brazilian Amazon. While rates of deforestation in the country have slowed significantly over the last decade, Brazil remains the single largest contributor to natural forest loss among tropical countries.

The study uses a statistical sample to produce unbiased (free from map errors) estimates of forest loss area in different types of forests: primary and secondary humid tropical forests; natural and secondary woodlands; and plantations. It also attributes the drivers of forest loss, such as conversion of forests to pastures and croplands, selective logging, mining and fires. 

“Brazil’s current national forest monitoring system focuses almost solely on deforestation in primary forests —the process of forest clearing and conversion to nonforest land uses. However, that only tells us part of the story,” said Alexandra Tyukavina, a post-doctoral researcher with the UMD's Department of Geographical Sciences. “Our research seeks to dig deeper into the dynamic causes of forest loss in all types of forests so that we can better understand the consequences such as carbon emissions and biodiversity losses.” 

One of the major findings of the study is that by the year 2013, all other forest disturbance types surpassed deforestation in primary forests in area, but deforestation in primary forests still remained the major source of aboveground carbon loss. Results of this research were published in Science Advances on April 12.

Researchers are working to expand the current study into the other tropical regions, such as Central Africa and Indonesia, to provide a comprehensive story on forest loss drivers pan-tropically. 

Members of the research team from the UMD's Department of Geographical Sciences include Tyukavina, Matthew Hansen, Peter Potapov, Kevin Smith-Rodriguez, Chima Okpa and Ricardo Aguilar. Stephen Stehman from the Department of Forest and Natural Resource Management at the State University of New York also contributed.

 

Pages

April 27
MilkBoy ArtHouse, a new dining, art and performance venue, will open its doors in College Park on May 2. Read
April 24
Explore UMD’s world of Fearless Ideas with more than 400 free, educational, family-friendly and interactive events. Read
April 21
Six student-run teams to pitch efforts to Do Good on campus, locally and nationwide. Read