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What's Happening

University of Illinois College of Medicine Rockford Researcher
Receives NIH Grant to Study Neuron Disease

The National Institutes of Health has awarded a $439,725 grant to a University of Illinois College of Medicine Rockford researcher to help better understand debilitating nervous system disorders in hopes of developing treatments that could prevent or treat genetic causes of paraplegia.

Xue-Jun Li, Ph.D., who is the Michael A. Werckle, MD, Professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences, and her team in the Regenerative Medicine and Disability Laboratory are studying hereditary spastic paraplegia (HSP).

“HSP includes more than 80 genetic disorders that involve the breakdown of nerve cells in the brain,” according to Li. “This causes people to have increasingly weak and stiff legs, which often means they need a cane, walker or, eventually, a wheelchair. Currently there are no treatments for this.”

Previous research in zebrafish helped the researchers understand how genetic defects affect certain proteins related to normal growth of nerve cells’ axons, which are the long, threadlike parts along which impulses are conducted from the cell body to other cells. When these axons degrade, messages from the brain and spine that control movement are prevented. Now that the researchers better understand the mechanisms of the disease in an animal model, the next step is to continue this work to develop a model using human cells.

This study will try to determine how changes in certain proteins can lead to defects in axons derived from patient-specific induced pluripotent stem cells. The researchers will also look at how the mitochondria, which are the powerhouses of cells, may play a role in causing the degradation and look at ways to prevent or reverse that by genetically regulating mitochondrial dynamics. The long-term goal will be to develop drugs or gene therapies that can reverse the course of the disease.

The Regenerative Medicine and Disability Laboratory is part of the Department of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Illinois College of Medicine Rockford. Established through generous support of the Blazer Foundation, this lab is headed by Dr. Li and Dr. Mathew Thoppil-Mathew who focus on fighting human motor neuron diseases and improving the integration of metal implants into the surrounding bone tissue, respectively. By combining stem cell biology, bioengineering, biomaterials, system biology, pharmacology and medicine, research in the RMDR Lab aims to identify therapeutic agents, novel biomaterials and innovative approaches to improve clinical practice to provide better health care to patients with disabilities.

Research reported in this press release was supported by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R21NS109837. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.


Provide COM Strategic Planning Input

Dean Rosenblatt thanks the medical students, residents and master’s of science in medical biotechnology students for taking the time to participate in last Thursday's student community forum focused on the COM’s strategic planning process.

If you have any additional input or thoughts you would like to share, we encourage you to provide feedback via our website: https://medicine.uic.edu/strategic-planning-overview/upcoming-events-and-feedback/.

All input submitted will be shared for consideration with our leadership team and strategic planning work group leads.

Dr. Connie Vitali accepted the 2019 Distinguished Service Award from the University of Illinois College of Medicine Rockford from Dean Alex Stagnaro-Green at the May 4 Convocation Ceremony. 

Dr. Connie Vitali Receives Awards From University of Illinois College of Medicine Rockford

The University of Illinois College of Medicine Rockford presented Connie Vitali, MD, its 2019 Distinguished Service Award and the Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award in May.

This Distinguished Service Award is presented each year to a nominee who demonstrates outstanding organization and leadership qualities in committee service, administration, health care and medical education at the college, university or national level. 

About this year’s recipient, Dr. Connie Vitali, her nominator said, “In view of her long commitment to the College, her health system, and community, I can think of no one more deserving of the Distinguished Service Award than Dr. Connie Vitali.”

The Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award from the Arnold P. Gold Foundation recognizes students and faculty members who demonstrate both clinical excellence and outstanding compassion in the delivery of care and who show respect for patients, their families and health care colleagues.

Dr. Vitali joined the College of Medicine Rockford faculty in 1995 after a residency in pathology at the Medical College of Wisconsin. She had risen to the rank of Clinical Associate Professor before joining the faculty full-time as Visiting Professor of Clinical Pathology in 2016 and serving as assistant dean for medical education and evaluation.

She has had a long and distinguished teaching career, essentially delivering almost half of the pathology curriculum since 1995, offering an M4 elective in general pathology, and advising and mentoring students considering a pathology career. Since 2016, she has been intimately involved in the successful development and implementation of our new Phase 1 curriculum. Her efforts have been recognized with three Golden Apple teaching awards, three White Coat Ceremony speakerships, commencement address speaker, and the Distinguished Teaching Award.

She has served on numerous college and university committees, chaired the Subcommittee on M2 Curriculum, among others, and has been a member of the LCME Task Force, the Dean's Action Council, College Executive Committee, and multiple search committees. Dr. Vitali continues to advise students both individually and as a member of the Medical Student Environment Advisory Group and student Curricular Board.

Before joining the College of Medicine Rockford full-time, she had a distinguished career as a pathologist at Rockford Memorial Hospital, what is now Mercyhealth, where, in addition to her clinical role, she served the medical staff in multiple leadership roles including Chair of the Board of Directors, Vice-president of the Medical Staff, Chair of the Mercyhealth Regional Community Board and Chair of the Board of Directors Governance Committee, and many other leadership roles. In addition, Dr. Vitali has been active throughout the community, serving on school committees and giving many presentations to community groups. Dr. Vitali's accomplishments have been recognized with the Jack Packard Quality Champion Award from Rockford Health System, 2015 Woman Manager of the Year Award from the Rockford Chamber of Commerce, and the YWCA Professions Award in 2017.

Dr. Vitali is slated to retire from the College of Medicine Rockford the end of June 2019.



Pregnancy Care Topic of Good Day, Stateline Appearance

Karen Liao, MD, a family physician at the UI Health L.P. Johnson Family Health Center and a University of Illinois College of Mediine Rockford assistant professor of clinical family medicine, and Patricia Monaghan, RN, BSN, the OB Care Coordinator at UI Health LP Johnson Family Health Center were on Good Day, Stateline! to discuss prenatal care.  Check out the segment at: https://www.mystateline.com/news/good-day-stateline/health-lp-johnson-family-health-center/2031461483?fbclid=IwAR3Cn_MTC2k7t6W5SXnLmrtuzQ-u_3psH4q2D5Q0xfyf9eMaPQyoWCEJGu0


John Myers Named Interim Chair of Surgery and Surgical Specialties

John C. Myers, MD, FACS, FACC, is the new interim chair of the University of Illinois College of Medicine Rockford Department of Surgery and Surgical Specialties following the recent retirement of Samuel Appavu, MD. Dr. Myers has been a clinical assistant professor in the department since 1997 and has since 2017 been leading the professionalism portion of synthesis week in the Phase I curriculum, which he will continue to do in addition to his new role.

A graduate of The Ohio State University College of Medicine where he also completed his internship and residency in general surgery and a fellowship in cardiovascular surgery, Dr. Myers served as a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force. He was deployed in Operation Desert Storm and served as chairman of cardiothoracic surgery and a member of the advanced deployment team at USAF Wilford Hall in San Antonio, Texas, as well as a clinical assistant professor of surgery in the Uniform Services Medical School.

In 1997, Dr. Myers joined Rockford Surgical Services as a cardiothoracic surgeon. He later became chair of surgery, director of medical affairs, director of medical education and a board member at SwedishAmerican Hospital until 2017. He continues to serve as a board member for SwedishAmerican Foundation and is the medical director for SwedishAmerican Home Healthcare.

Dr. Myers also serves as medical director for Northern Illinois Hospice and is board president of the Rock River Valley Blood Bank. He is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and the American College of Cardiology and is involved in many medical societies.

Reach Dr. Myers at johmyers@uic.edu, or contact Renee Barr, Medical Education Program Specialist, at rlbarr@uic.edu. (Coming sometime after June 10 they will have new phone numbers and offices: (815) 395-5694 in Room S321 for Dr. Myers; and (815) 395-5651 in Room S324 for Renee Barr. Watch eNews for details.)


Like to Play Soccer?

Soccer pick-up games will begin every Wednesday at 5 p.m. and will continue weekly during favorable weather. The location depends on numbers of people playing: if there are 6-10 people, we will be on the front field area at the UIC Health Sciences Campus-Rockford on the grounds close to Parkview Ave.; if there are more than 10 people, we will be at Bloom Elementary on Pelham Rd. All are encouraged to join. For questions, contact Dr. Sam Pope at  spope42@uic.edu.


UIC Health Sciences Campus-Rockford is Medication Collection Site Sat., June 8

Drive up and drop off medications from 9 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. at 1601 Parkview Ave.

Do you have unwanted medications at home? Here’s an opportunity to dispose of them properly! The UIC College of Pharmacy has again partnered with Keep Northern Illinois Beautiful for a one-day medication collection on Sat., June 8, from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Last year, more than 2,000 lbs. of medications were collected.

This is important because:

  • Prescription medicine is the number one source of drugs improperly/illegally used by teenagers and older adults
  • 78,000 children per year under age five are treated for accidental medication poisoning in the U.S.
  • 80% of water samples contained residues of prescription and non-prescription drugs, according to a U.S. Geological Survey test of 139 streams across 30 states.
  • 90% of consumers improperly dispose of unused medicine down the toilet or in the trash

Learn more about what you can and cannot drop off and about other collection sites at: https://www.knib.org/programs/medication-disposal/


New to Campus

Moved into a new position or is a new employee:

Patricia Grimm, office manager in the department of Student Affairs; email:  pgrimm@uic.edu; Ext: 5630; Room A213 

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



Until 2nd week of AUGUST

Monday to Friday: 7:30 am – 5:00 pm

Saturday: 10:00 am – 3:00 pm

Sunday: CLOSED

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, 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

June 5    Soccer Pick-up Game
June 8   
Medication Collection, UIC Health Sciences Campus
June 13  Artificial Intelligence and Medicine - Today and Tomorrow Meet, Greet & Eat, Partners' Pavilion
June 14  Picnic on the Lawn Fun Committee Event, Front Lawn
June 20  Dr. Connie Vitali Retirement Reception, Partners' Pavilion
June 27  Considering Medication-Assisted Treatment panel discussion, UIC Health Sciences Campus 

Upcoming Community Events

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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