Posts tagged ‘Penn State’

Kidney recipient gives thanks for anonymous donor and the gift of a second chance

On July 23, Melissa Masse celebrated her 34th birthday in the operating room of Penn State Hershey, watching Dr. Riaz Shah hold up a kidney while the medical team sang “Happy Birthday.”

Earlier that morning, doctors had harvested a kidney from her husband, Chris, and sent it to a major metropolitan area where it would be given to someone as unknown to the Masses as the donor whose organ became a birthday present for Melissa.

Melissa and Chris Masse holding flowers between them where their scars forever bind them as recipient and donor.

Melissa and Chris Masse hold flowers between them to mark the scars that forever bind them as recipient and donor in a chain that gave Melissa and three others a second chance at life with a healthy kidney.

The surgeries were just two links in a complex transplant chain that allowed four people to receive healthy kidneys despite not having compatible live donors. Known as a “kidney swap,” Penn State Hershey offers the program as an alternative to dialysis and years of waiting for a deceased donor organ.

Melissa had been diagnosed with diabetes at age 11, but it wasn’t until stomach trouble and vomiting sent her to an emergency department in August 2012 and doctors noted her poor kidney function that she was sent to a specialist. By the end of the year, the South Williamsport woman was added to the list of people waiting for a healthy kidney.

Because the average person waits more than six years for a kidney, and because the mortality rate for those on dialysis is 50 percent after five years, Melissa’s husband offered to be a live donor. Unfortunately, he wasn’t a match. Nor was her boss. Or her best friend.

“I was devastated,” Chris said. He knew his wife was hoping for a live donor so there would be less chance her body would reject the new kidney. So he told transplant coordinator Vicky Reilly that he would donate his kidney to someone he had never met so that his wife could receive a healthy kidney from someone she had never met. (more…)

November 26, 2013 at 8:54 am 1 comment

Profile: College of Medicine graduate overcomes barriers

Elom Amoussou-Kpeto

Elom Amoussou-Kpeto

Growing up in Togo, West Africa, Elom Amoussou-Kpeto was acutely aware of the barriers that kept people from accessing quality health care. Not only was there a lack of highly skilled providers, but transportation was a challenge.

He spent a lot of time with his grandfather, a nurse, who cared for the whole community “doing almost what a doctor would do,” he said.

Amoussou-Kpeto realized that by becoming a doctor, he could give so much back to the community: “That is my ultimate objective.”

So, upon graduating high school with good grades, he applied to Camden Community College near Philadelphia, where an uncle lived. Once accepted, he began the process of obtaining a Visa to come study in the United States, where he felt like he would get a better education.

After two years studying biology there, he transferred to Temple University to finish a degree in biochemistry. It was a rocky road though.

Language was a huge barrier. Amoussou-Kpeto grew up speaking Ewe and French. In school, he learned to read and write some English, but had difficulty expressing himself in the new language. “I felt like time was constantly working against me–especially with standardized tests,” he said. “I felt like I was fighting a combat on two fronts–between who I am and who I want to be.” (more…)

May 15, 2013 at 2:45 pm Leave a comment

The story of Sir Millard lives on through The Four Diamonds Fund and THON

You may know the legend of King Arthur, but chances are you do not know the story of Sir Millard, the evils he faced or the battles he won, even though every year, the new-age knights he has inspired take up his quest to battle pediatric cancer.

Every year, those champions, in the form of 15,000 Penn State student volunteers, fight their battle via year-long fundraising that culminates in THON weekend at Penn State’s Bryce Jordan Center in State College, Pennsylvania. This weekend marks the forty-first annual THON dance marathon.

Sir Millard, a.k.a. Christopher Millard, penned his story called “The Four Diamonds” before he died of cancer at the age of 14 in 1972. He had no way of knowing the legacy he would leave behind.

The day he died at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, his parents, Charles and Irma Millard, started the Four Diamonds Fund to raise money to assist pediatric cancer patients and their families with expenses outside those insurance will cover while their children are undergoing treatment.

Photo of the floor of the Bryce Jordan Center at Penn State during a THON weekend packed with dancers and supporters.

THON fills the Bryce Jordan Center at Penn State for 46 hours of dancing, music and emotional excitement one weekend each year.

THON weekend is a celebration of the efforts of the volunteers–joined by their fellow students, Four Diamonds Families, and their many supporters–who dedicate their time to raising money and increasing awareness for pediatric cancer.

It is the largest student-run philanthropy in the world, raising $89 million to date, more than $10 million last year alone. Participants hope to surpass $100 million with this year’s total, which exclusively benefits the Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital. (more…)

February 14, 2013 at 12:12 pm Leave a comment

The magic of the Child Life Program

When you walk into a room filled with smiles, laughter, toys, games, and an over-all atmosphere of fun, it’s easy to forget you’re in a hospital.

That is exactly the goal of the Child Life Program at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital. Child Life offers patients support through its programming, including a fall visit from Olympic gold medalist Jamie Gray. Originally from nearby Lebanon, Pa., Gray was inspired to visit Hershey by the young patients she met at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Baton Rouge, La.

Much to the delight of the Hershey children and their families, Gray recently participated in their weekly BINGO game, spending time with families and answering questions about the Olympics. Sharing her gold medal in 50-meter rifle three position, she didn’t even mind when one little friend got chocolate from his hands on it.

Gray was touched by the children’s resiliency, especially after watching her mother, Karen Beyerle, battle and defeat breast cancer.

“I think it’s amazing to see how happy they are going through so much adversity,” she said. “I think they’re inspiring, honestly.”

Izaiah Robinson with Jamie Gray and the Nittany Lion

Izaiah Robinson with Jamie Gray and the Nittany Lion

It isn’t hard to see the difference Child Life makes with while watching 8 year-old Izaiah Robinson from Boalsburg, Pa., nearly running to the prize table, with a huge smile across his face. (more…)

February 13, 2013 at 9:00 am Leave a comment

Medical center reaches milestone in fundraising campaign

The Medical Center surpassed the $200 million mark in its current $300 million fundraising initiative, For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Hershey Medical Center. Launched in January 2007 as part of a university-wide $2 billion fundraising effort, the Medical Center and College of Medicine campaign provides support for advancing patient care, ensuring that the best and brightest students can afford a world-class medical education, recruiting and retaining outstanding faculty, and funding novel research that leads to breakthroughs in diagnosis and treatment.

The campaign, which runs through June 30, 2014, has garnered landmark gifts to expand and improve facilities, including contributions for the Cancer Institute and the new, freestanding Children’s Hospital building, scheduled to open in the fall. Even as the economy faltered in recent years, the community continued to generously support the Medical Center and College of Medicine’s missions of patient care, education, research, and community service. Since 2007, more than 200,000 donors have made gifts to the campaign.

The campaign has generated tremendous support from a wide range of philanthropic partners. Gifts from corporations and foundations total nearly $30 million, and 17 donors have made individual contributions exceeding $1 million to various campaign priorities. Collectively, Medical Center and College faculty and staff have given $3 million during the campaign, underscoring a deep commitment to the institution’s missions.

“Reaching this tremendous milestone with just a little more than two years remaining in the campaign reflects the incredible generosity of our community members and exemplifies the dedication of our employees and volunteers,” said Dennis P. Brenckle, chair, For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Hershey Medical Center. “Each gift to the campaign affirms the vital role the Medical Center and College of Medicine play in improving public health.”

August 15, 2012 at 9:15 am Leave a comment

Technology Transfer – Bringing Scientific Discoveries To Market

Graphic depicting medical research technology becoming a viable businessEvery day, researchers at Penn State College of Medicine work to discover new ways to improve human health and well-being. Through technology transfer—the process of commercializing those discoveries—people across the country and the world gain access to innovative drugs, medical devices, and therapeutics.

“Physician-scientists often gain their insights and inspiration from the patients they see,” says Daniel Notterman, M.D., vice dean for research and graduate studies at the College of Medicine, professor of pediatrics, biochemistry, and molecular biology, and associate vice president for health sciences research, Penn State. “There are often several motivations, and large among those is a desire to improve the care of people who have the condition that they’re studying.”

Technology transfer is a significant part of the research process because it brings patented ideas into the marketplace.

“If we were only able to conduct and present research in the form of scientific papers or presentations at conferences, that wouldn’t result in a product [because] the information becomes public,” says Keith Marmer, D.P.T., M.B.A., associate dean for research innovation and director of the Office of Technology Development. “Drug companies are typically not going to want to invest in excess of $1 billion to try to bring a drug to market if it is based on publicly available information as there is no competitive advantage to do so.”

In practice, it requires several players to make the commercialization of a scientific discovery successful. Each stakeholder, such as academics, venture capital investors, and economic development groups, helps make up a so-called “entrepreneurial ecosystem” in a particular geographic area. “[The ecosystem] also includes professional service organizations, such as the accounting firms and law firms that help support the entrepreneurial activity in the region,” Marmer says.

With more than $100 million in research taking place at the college every year, the institution’s vision is to serve as a leader and a catalyst for biomedical innovations in central Pennsylvania. “We want to be able to drive that research out into that entrepreneurial ecosystem but be fully engaged with all the ecosystem partners,” he says. “We also aim to be recognized as a leader nationally and globally.” (more…)

August 13, 2012 at 10:30 am 2 comments

Making the Children’s Hospital a reality

Children's Hospital buildingAnticipation is growing for the opening of the new 252,000-square-foot Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital, set for late this fall. While progress on the building’s exterior is visible for everyone to see, the transition plans are in full swing behind the scenes. The contractors are moving level by level through the interior of the building to finish walls and run cables and wiring, to lay flooring materials and install cabinetry, and to prepare each room to receive the equipment that has been designated for the space.

The project team, equipment planners, purchasing agents, move planners, internal unit managers, and various other teams along with Gil Pak, operations director for Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital, are managing every detail of the move. “We are meeting regularly to finalize the process. We’re also preparing and educating the staff before the move so we’re fully functional once we’re open,” explains Pak. (more…)

August 6, 2012 at 10:30 am 2 comments

A career protecting children from abuse

Mark Dias, M.D.

Mark Dias, M.D.

Since early in his medical career, Mark Dias, M.D., F.A.A.P., F.A.A.N.S., professor of neurosurgery and pediatrics at the College of Medicine, has spearheaded research exploring hospital-based and public policy interventions for decreasing the incidence of shaken baby syndrome, now more often referred to as abusive head trauma. “Abusive shaking and blunt impact to the head has a devastating impact on infants; if the child survives, he often is challenged to recover from severe brain injury and swelling, skull fracture, and retinal hemorrhage and damage,” says Dias.

As part of his strong commitment to protecting children from abuse, Dias has helped to form the Penn State Hershey Center for the Protection of Children. In 2009, Dias began working to grow a team of specialists at the Medical Center to evaluate and treat victims of child abuse and neglect. The child safety team began informally with the part-time support of Laura Duda, M.D., and Kathryn Crowell, M.D., R ’01, pediatricians who trained at children’s hospitals in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia as fellows in specialized pediatric child abuse medicine. In the summer of 2011, Andrea Taroli, M.D., a board-certified child abuse pediatric specialist, became the first director of the Penn State Hershey Center for the Protection of Children. (more…)

August 2, 2012 at 2:45 pm 1 comment

CEO Perspectives: Funding for Health Sciences Research

Below is an excerpt from the April 2012 edition of Perspectives, a monthly electronic newsletter from Harold L. Paz, M.D., chief executive officer, Penn State Hershey Medical Center, senior vice president for health affairs, Penn State, and dean, Penn State College of Medicine.

Dr. Harold Paz

Harold L. Paz, M.D., M.S.

Conducting research is one of the key missions of any academic health center, and it’s a fundamental characteristic that distinguishes institutions like Penn State Hershey from other hospitals in the community. But biomedical research is expensive, and increasingly, researchers are having difficulty getting even the most excellent proposals funded. This challenge has become especially acute since the economic downturn in 2008. Government support for research is being cut back not only at the federal level, but also by many states, including Pennsylvania. In addition, many private sources of support for research – including philanthropic foundations and non-profit organizations – have reduced the amount of funding available, in response to the reduced value of their endowments or diminished philanthropic support these organizations rely on.

To continue reading, click here.

April 13, 2012 at 1:50 pm Leave a comment

Penn State CTSI aims to push research findings to the people

Dna strands graphicAs a physician on the front line of the obesity and diabetes epidemics gripping the United States, Urs Leuenberger, M.D., professor of medicine in the Division of Cardiology at the Penn State Hershey Heart and Vascular Institute, has seen the disconnect between medical knowledge and reality. “We know an immense amount about many of the major health problems today, say obesity or diabetes, and we know a lot more than we did ten years ago or thirty or fifty years ago,” Leuenberger says. “So why is it that when we know so much more, the epidemic is getting worse?”

That is precisely the kind of question that the Penn State Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) will tackle over the next five years, thanks to a $27.3 million award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Penn State CTSI, a collaborative effort of the University, Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, and Penn State College of Medicine, joins a prestigious consortium of institutions that include Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Mayo Clinic, Yale, and the University of Chicago. In Pennsylvania, only the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Pennsylvania are also members.

“The CTSAs (Clinical and Translational Science Awards) support the innovation and partnerships necessary to bridge the traditional divides between basic research and medical practice,” NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., said in announcing the latest awards. “The combination of resources and collaboration made possible by these awards is essential for developing and delivering new treatments and prevention strategies.”

Resources and collaboration are two of Penn State’s strengths in winning the CTSI grant. “Already, our Penn State Clinical and Translational Science Institute is bringing together researchers from across the University’s colleges, campuses, programs, and departments and fostering collaborative research,” says Harold L. Paz, M.D., CEO of Penn State Hershey Medical Center. “This CTSA funding award will add to this momentum and substantially increase our infrastructure for supporting translational research, expanding our ability to take scientific progress from the laboratory bench to the patient’s bedside.” (more…)

February 8, 2012 at 7:51 am Leave a comment

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