UConn Health Accolades – Late April 2014

UConn Health Accolades (Shutterstock image)
Congratulations (Shutterstock image)

Urban Service Track Receives Kudos


The Connecticut Asian Pacific American Affairs Commission (APAAC) recently recognized UConn’s Urban Service Track (UST) for assisting in its first medical workshop for the Asian Pacific community. The workshop was held last month at the Franciscan Center in downtown Hartford. Many of those attending the event originate from Southeast Burma and now live mainly in Hartford’s Asylum Hill neighborhood. UST students set up interactive booths on health issues pertinent to APA communities. Topics included asthma, hypertension, diabetes, smoking cessation, immunization, and the affordable medicine program.

Immunology Research Published Again in Prestigious Journal

Leo Lefrancois, Ph.D.
Leo Lefrançois

Groundbreaking research conducted at UConn Health’s Department of Immunology has been accepted for publication in the May 15 issue of the prestigious journal Immunity. The lead author of the paper is the late chairman of the immunology department, Leo Lefrançois, who passed away unexpectedly last year.

The acceptance of the paper titled “Oral infection drives a distinct population of intestinal resident memory CD8+ T cells with enhanced protective function” is Lefrançois’ third paper to be accepted by Immunity in the past year.

“It is rare for an investigator to publish one Immunity paper a year let alone three,” says Brian Sheridan, assistant professor in the Department of Immunology. “Immunity has the second highest impact factor for any immunology journal and is an extremely prestigious journal in the field. These articles are a lasting tribute to Leo’s intellectual impact on the field of immunology and at UConn Health.”

Fortinsky Presents Research at National Briefing

Richard Fortinsky
Richard Fortinsky

Richard Fortinsky, professor of medicine and Health Net, Inc. Endowed Chair in Geriatrics and Gerontology at the UConn Center on Aging, presented his research findings into dementia strategies during a national issues briefing earlier this month in Washington, D.C. The briefing was held in conjunction with the release of the April 2014 issue of Health Affairs on the topic of Alzheimer’s disease.

Fortinsky’s article “Optimizing Person-Centered Transitions In The Dementia Journey: A Comparison Of National Dementia Strategies” examined dementia programs in seven countries as of late 2013. Fortinsky and co-author Murna Downs in the School of Health Studies at the University of Bradford in England found all seven countries have stronger plans for early-stage transitions (such as connecting the newly diagnosed with services) than late-stage transitions (such as moving from home to residential care).

The authors recommend that a “next-generation” national strategy should address these late-stage transitions, in part by tapping the expertise of nursing home workers and palliative care specialists, as well as by thoroughly considering the results of research and evaluation projects. They noted that the current plans all tend to focus more on the provision of care within a setting than on transitions between settings, and urged more consideration of transitions in the future.

New Director of Cancer Prevention and Control

Dr. Cheryl Oncken
Dr. Cheryl Oncken

Dr. Cheryl Oncken has been named the director of cancer prevention and control at the Carole and Ray Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center. In her new role she will coordinate and further develop the cancer prevention and control program in the areas of cancer prevention, screening, and survivorship. She will coordinate a pilot program with the Storrs campus to facilitate cross-campus collaboration in research specific to cancer prevention and control.

Oncken is currently the program director of the Lowell P. Weicker Jr. Clinical Research Center and has served in this capacity for the past five years. Oncken is an internationally recognized researcher in tobacco research, particularly in women. She has examined the potential benefits of medication use for smoking cessation in pregnancy, including effects on maternal and child health. Oncken also has evaluated innovative treatments such as exercise for smoking cessation, and was a lead investigator on trials evaluating the safety and efficacy of varenicline (Chantix) for smoking cessation prior to FDA approval. She serves on numerous NIH panels as well as the World Health Organization’s committee on the treatment of tobacco use in pregnant and postpartum women.

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