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What's Happening

COM Rockford Researchers Receive UIC Chancellor’s Awards

Two innovative researchers at the University of Illinois College of Medicine Rockford each received 2019 Chancellor’s Translational Research Initiative Awards from the University of Illinois at Chicago to advance their promising research. The award includes $25,000 in grant funding.

Ramaswamy Kalyanasundaram, PhD, DVM, and Xue-Jun Li, PhD, were two of only 10 UIC researchers to win the competitive award. Both researchers are in the University of Illinois College of Medicine Rockford Department of Biomedical Sciences, where Kalyanasundaram is department head and a professor and Li is the Michael A. Werckle, MD, Professor and an associate professor.

“These funds will help Dr. Ramaswamy advance his work on developing a heartworm vaccination for dogs and Dr. Li’s work using stem cells to help patients with diseases that affect spinal neurons,” says Alex Stagnaro-Green, dean of the College of Medicine Rockford. “These are both promising areas that could have lasting impact on the health of people and also their pets.”

The purpose of the award is to support innovative research that is still in its early stages, but has a high potential for commercial use.

Dr. Ramaswamy’s research project will test the safety and effectiveness of a vaccine developed in his laboratory for preventing heartworm infections in dogs. Heartworms are parasites that can live in the heart, lungs and blood vessels of dogs and other animals, often causing severe disease and sometimes death.

Heartworm preventives that veterinarians prescribe now, such as twice-a-year injections or once-a-month chewables or topical medications, are recommended for a dog’s whole life, explains Dr. Ramaswamy. “Right now, preventing heartworms can be expensive, time consuming and unpleasant for both the dog and its owner,” he says. “Treating an infected dog, however, is even more expensive and complicated. A vaccine that would be effective in preventing heartworm infection would make it easier for pet owners to protect their dogs.”

Dr. Li’s project focuses on using a certain protein to see if it is helpful in repairing or even regenerating damaged nerve cells. This could lead to drugs or gene therapies that could treat patients who have nerve injuries or whose nerves degenerate, such as what happens in spinal muscular atrophy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease) and other nervous system diseases.

Dr. Li’s research team is collaborating with Anne George, Ph.D., the Dr. Allan G. Brodie Endowed Professor and a professor of oral biology in the UIC College of Dentistry.

“Our goal for this research project is programming the stem cells we are working with so that they turn into functional human neural cells,” explains Dr. Li. “Our long-term goal is to promote regeneration of damaged nerve cells, essentially reversing the course of spinal cord injuries and diseases affecting nerve cells.”

Read more about the CTRI Program here: https://otm.uic.edu/resources/ctri/

Xue-Jun Li, PhD and Ramaswamy Kalyanasundaram, PhD, DVM 

Research Day Highlighted Impressive Student Research

Research Day was Tuesday, April 30, at the UIC Health Sciences Campus-Rockford. This was the twenty-fourth annual event held on campus to showcase health sciences research.

This year’s line-up included a keynote address on health disparities, a panel discussion on addressing health disparities in research and practice, presentations by student researchers and the opportunity to meet student researchers during a poster viewing session and presentations.

About 94 student researchers from the Colleges of Medicine, Pharmacy and Nursing, as well as a few presenters from other institutions, presented their research through poster displays in the Partners’ Pavilion. Congratulations to all the students for their hard work and to those receiving awards for their poster presentations. See the award winners here:  https://rockford.medicine.uic.edu/research-day-2019-award-winners-announced/

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the success of this year’s Research Day!


James Scholar Program Recognizes Graduates

The Edmund J. James Undergraduate Honors Program was established for undergraduate students on the Urbana-Champaign Campus in 1959. The James Scholar Program at the University of Illinois College of Medicine Rockford began in 1972. It is an academic honors program for highly qualified students that stresses independent study and requires a robust research project culminating in a final paper, a PowerPoint presentation to the James Scholar committee members and fellow James Scholar students, and a poster presentation at the campus Research Day.

The Class of 2019 James Scholar students gave their PowerPoint presentations on Wednesday, April 3. The James Scholar students are pictured here along with members of the James Scholar Committee.

The Class of 2019 James Scholar graduates are:

Stephanie Grach
Hilary Hayssen (not pictured)
Katherine Jensen
Nicole Larsen
Mary Beth Lyvers
Claire Maxey
Christina Overmann
Julie Zhong

James Scholar Committee members:

Sherry Falsetti, PhD - Chair
Manika Bhateja, MD (not pictured)
Kayeromi Gomez, PhD
Alesia Jones, PhD
Manorama Khare, PhD
Kathleen Kelley, MD, FACP
Mitchell King, MD
Patrick McIntyre, MS
Mathew Mathew, PhD (not pictured)
Aftab Merchant, MBBS, FCPS
Neelu Puri, PhD (not pictured)
Lori Dredske - James Scholar Coordinator


Congratulations to the College of Medicine Rockford Class of 2019!

The 45th annual Convocation Ceremony took place on Saturday, May 4, 2019, celebrating the graduation of the Class of 2019.

Watch for more photos coming soon and check out the photos already on Facebook.


Give Feedback on Food (and Drinks!)

The new Nutrition in Medicine student interest group requests input from all students, staff and faculty at the UIC Health Sciences Campus-Rockford at Parkview Ave. through completion of a survey regarding food and beverage options available on campus.

“Our first goal for the interest group is to work on getting healthier options in our campus marketplace as well as some choices for those that are vegetarian/vegan,” says first-year medical student Kaan Raif. “It is consensus among our peers that they want better options and that they would actually buy more from the marketplace if changes were made.”

Take the survey here:


What options would you like to see for food and beverages on campus? 

Summer Science Intern Presents Research at National Conference

Last summer, Abby Foes, from Boylan High School, was one of five high school students selected among dozens of applicants to work with leading scientists conducting research as part of the Summer Science Internship Program offered by the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Rockford and Thermo Fisher Scientific.

Last month, Abby had the opportunity to present her research. She worked with Dr. Gnanasekar and his lab researching prostate cancer, at the 2019 American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) in Atlanta. As one of the only high school students at the meeting, Abby presented alongside grad students, physicians, and seasoned researchers.

Her experience at the AACR meeting proved particularly valuable as Abby intends to be involved in pre-medical service-related to health disparities while pursuing her chemical engineering degree at the University of Alabama next year.

Well done, Abby!

Abigail Foes – 2018 Summer Science Student (graduate Boylan High School) 
Priyadarshini Thiruvalluven Shanthi, MBT Student and Abigail Foes 2018 Summer Science Student 

Denim Day Participants at UI Health L.P. Johnson Family Health Center Donate to MERIT

For the second year in a row, the City of Rockford asked the community to wear denim to show support for survivors of sexual assault on Wednesday, April 24. This year, the UI Health L.P. Johnson Family Health Center participated in this effort in addition to supporting the University of Illinois College of Medicine’s Medical Evaluation Response Initiative Team (MERIT). Staff members brought in a small stuffed animal and/or small monetary donation for MERIT in exchange for a pin that allowed them to wear denim to work that day.

Have you heard about MERIT? Developed in 2008 by the College of Medicine, MERIT is an innovative child-centered, community-based program with a mission to provide all children suspected of being physically or sexually abused or neglected with timely expert medical evaluations and treatment, as well as serving the community as a resource for prevention, research and education. The program serves over 300 children under the age of 18 each year, from Winnebago and 12 other counties in Northern Illinois. Since the program's inception, MERIT has served over 2,700 children.


Congratulations to our own Derby Winners!

It was Rocktucky Derby Day on campus sponsored by the Fun Committee on May 6. Congratulations to Diane Potts who was the jockey for Midnight, the horse Dr. Plescia’s kids decorated, for first place. Second place went to the Office of Fiscal Affairs’ The Bean Counter. Third place went to Linda Burkart’s horse named Locke.

Diane Potts - 1st place with Midnight 
Uma Sriram - 2nd place with Bean Counter. Joined by Juanita Milton, Judith Fulkerson and Andrea Olvera. 
Linda Burkart - 3rd place with Locke 

Meet Candidates for Assistant Dean for Medical Education and Evaluation

Dr. Connie Vitali has announced she will retire from her position as the assistant dean of medical education and evaluation at the University of Illinois College of Medicine Rockford in June and a search for her replacement is underway. Faculty and staff are invited to an informal Town Hall Meeting with each of three candidates being considered for assistant dean for medical education and evaluation. If your schedule allows, please plan to meet and greet each candidate on the dates and times listed below.

                Candidate #1, Tuesday, May 7, 2019, 3:15 to 4:15 p.m., Room S-232

                Candidate #2, Thursday, May 9, 2019, 4:00 to 5:00 p.m., Room S-232

                Candidate #3, Tuesday, May 14, 2019, 3:30 to 4:30 p.m., Room S-232


Upcoming Staff Training: Active Threat Training, May 13, 2019

All Parkview and FHC Staff, 

The recent active threat events and other senseless acts of violence that have taken place at Mercy Hospital in Chicago and across the nation, have colleges and universities again re-examining their responsibility to be vigilant and prepared for the unthinkable. It is not easy to contemplate this happening at UIC, but it is important that as a community we make every effort to prepare ourselves.

Therefore, it has become imperative that all units participate in an upcoming training session on 5-13-19 to strengthen personal and professional emergency preparedness proficiency, and help promote and maintain consistent security and safety procedures. While the UIC Police and Office of Preparedness and Response have taken every measure to ensure that we are prepared to respond in the event of an active threat, these events have historically ended within a few minutes and often before police arrive. Expanding your awareness of what actions, you can take and why may be instrumental in not only your own safety but the safety of students and your co-workers.


Readiness planning activities range from tactical law enforcement response to strategic planning for hazard events, risk mitigation, continuity of operations, and post-event recovery. Planning efforts must be proactive, continuous, and integrated into other campus goals and plans. Units are crucial for maintaining the campus, and therefore must improvise and innovate, usually under acute time pressure and high stress, making it critical to know how to respond to, manage, survive, and recover from an active threat with minimal damage. The quality of your response to an active threat situation can have a lasting impact on your own health/safety, as well as the broader UIC community, culture, and reputation.

What you will learn?

  • Actions to take when confronted with an active threat/shooter and violent/threatening situation;
  • How to make educated life-saving decisions;
  • What behaviors to look for and who to contact to prevent an active threat incident;
  • Methods and platforms to communicate during an emergency;
  • Tools available to you that guide action in a threatening situation; and more.

Who should attend? 

All Parkview and FHC unit staff.

Training Date / Time:

May 13, 2019, 9:30 am to 11 am-Parkview Campus Auditorium
May 13, 2019, noon to 1 pm-FHC Meeting Room 020

If there are any questions, contact Chris Berndt at extension 5834 or e-mail cberndt@uic.edu.

Physical Plant Services

You will make changes on MyBenefits at https://MyBenefits.illinois.gov or by calling the MyBenefits Service Center 

New to Campus

Moved into a new position or is a new employee:

Danyelle Bates, Certified Medical Assistant, UI Health L.P. Johnson Family Health Center


The Glenn Netto Health and Wellness Center
It's Time to Get Fit! Take a Class or do Your own Routine at the Wellness Center.
Crawford Library of the Health Sciences

New Books in Consumer Health


Salt sugar fat: how the food giants hooked us

The whole-body microbiome: how to harness microbes inside and out for lifelong health

The poison squad: one chemist’s single-minded crusade for food safety at the turn of the twentieth century

 Bodies of truth: personal narratives on illness, disability and medicine.

100 questions & answers about HIV and Aids

HIV & AIDS: a very short introduction

Influenza: the hundred-year hunt to cure the deadliest disease in history

21 things you need to know about diabetes and weight-loss surgery

The traumatized brain: a family guide to understanding mood, memory and behavior after brain injury

52 small changes for the mind: improve memory, minimize stress, increase productivity, boost happiness

Mayo Clinic guide to stress-free living

Under pressure: confronting the epidemic of stress and anxiety in girls

Long-term care: how to plan & pay for it

Better balance for life: banish the fear of falling

The dental diet: the surprising link between your teeth, real food, and life-changing natural health

Office of Human Resources

Satellite Human Resources Office Hours

Human Resources has a schedule of regular office hours at our clinic locations.  This is to provide employees with a convenient opportunity to meet directly with an HR staff member.  Please check with your clinic manager for the specific room location at each clinic. 

Wednesday, May 1, Winnebago County Justice Center, 12:30 pm - 2:30 pm
Monday, May 20, Family Health Center, 11:30 am - 1:30 pm
Wednesday, June 5, Winnebago County Justice Center, 12:30 pm - 2:30 pm
Monday, June 17, Family Health Center, 11:30 am - 1:30 pm
Wednesday, July 3, Winnebago County Justice Center, 12:30 pm – 2:30 pm
Monday, July 15, Family Health Center, 11:30 am – 1:30 pm
Wednesday, August 7, Winnebago County Justice Center, 12:30 pm – 2:30 pm
Monday, August 19, Family Health Center, 11:30 am – 1:30 pm
Wednesday, September 4, Winnebago County Justice Center, 12:30 pm - 2:30 pm
Monday, September 16, Family Health Center, 11:30 am - 1:30 pm
Wednesday, October 2, Winnebago County Justice Center, 12:30 pm - 2:30 pm
Monday, October 21, Family Health Center, 11:30 am - 1:30 pm
Wednesday, November 6, Winnebago County Justice Center, 12:30 pm - 2:30 pm
Monday, November 18, Family Health Center, 11:30 am - 1:30 pm
Wednesday, December 4, Winnebago County Justice Center, 12:30 pm - 2:30 pm
Monday, December 16, Family Health Center, 11:30 am - 1:30 pm

Job Postings


Click on the image above to learn more. 

Office of Research


The Student/Resident Research Travel Award is to provide Rockford medical students and residents the opportunity to share their research at a national/international forum and network with researchers from around the country/world who are involved in similar research. Medical students are eligible for $1,000 grants and residents $500. The application and application guidelines can be found on the College’s Intranet site. Applications should be submitted to Lori Dredske.

Ask a Biostatistician  

Biostatistician, Dr. Kayéromi Gomez, provides support and assistance to faculty and students who are conducting research in the Colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy. Use the "Ask a Biostatistician" form for your biostatistics or research question that needs a quick answer.

Upcoming Campus Events

May 7     Dr. Judith Heinschel's Retirement Celebration, North Building N115
May 7     Trama 101 Training, Auditorium
May 7      Meet Candidate #1 for Assistant Dean for Medical Education and Evaluation, S232
May 9      Meet Candidate #2 for Assistant Dean for Medical Education and Evaluation, S232
May 13    Active Threat Training, Auditorium
May 14    Meet Candidate #3 for Assistant Dean for Medical Education and Evaluation, S232
May 21    UICOM Rockford Strategic Planning Community Forum, S235 & S300
May 23    Opioid Summit, UIC Health Sciences Campus


Got news?

Please forward your news to prrockford@uic.edu so that it can be shared via e-news. If you have activities, events or news in your department, please send details by 2:00 p.m. on Monday for inclusion in Tuesday's edition. If Monday is a holiday, please submit by 5:00 p.m. on the last business day prior to Tuesday's edition. 

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