SIU School of Medicine

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Department of Internal Medicine

Ongoing Research Projects

The following is a partial list of some of the research being conducted in the Department of Internal Medicine.

Karen Broquet, M.D., Professor in the Division of Med/Psych and Associate Dean for Residency Affairs is involved in researching on “The Non-Succeeding Resident: Is there a correlation with pre-matriculation risk factors? Retrospective Review. Ongoing.”

John Godwin, M.D. Chief of Hematology/Oncology is performing clinical chemotherapy trials in various malignancies  He serves as the Principal Investigator for 17 clinical trials including cutaneous malignancies, advanced head and neck cancer, leukemia, lymphoma and lung cancer. Dr. Godwin is the national study leader for a novel trial in elderly AML, SWOG 0703.

Mei Chris Huang, M.D. Assistant Professor in Gastroenterology is co-investigator  in finding genetic traits for inflammatory bowel disease and colorectal cancer.  The goal of the research is to study the roles of AKR1B10, a protein as a potential marker for diagnosis and treatment of inflammatory bowel disease and colorectal cancer.

Janak Koirala, MD MPH, Division of Infectious Diseases is involved in various research projects involving HIV/AIDS such as HIV Education and Prevention in high school students. He is also principal investigator on various clinical studies related to HIV/AIDS, both NIH funded as well as industry sponsored. Dr. Koirala is a member of International Network for Strategic Initiatives in Global HIV Trials (INSIGHT) and a Principal Investigator for Community Programs for Clinical Research on AIDS (CPCRA), NIH/NIAIDS, Division of AIDS (DAIDS).  In addition, Dr. Koirala also has ongoing laboratory research projects related to immunology of Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC) infection and multidrug resistant Acinetobacter baumannii.

Dr. Guangming Liu and his staff are continuing their research in the following aspects. They are investigating the anti-cancer functions of an important protein called Calcium Sensing Receptor (CaSR) that is found on colon cancer surface membrane. Because the colon cancer cells that have lost the anti-cancer protein, are more resistant to anti-cancer therapy, they are working on ways to stimulate the anti-cancer protein in human colon cancer cells and to determine whether stimulating CaSR appearance increases the response of the cancer cells to anti-cancer drugs. They have also extended the research to colon cancer stem cells, the culprits for resistance, spread and recurrence of the disease. They have found that the drug resistance of cancer cells is related with the non-adherent growth pattern, one of the cancer stem cells’ characteristics. Their recent data indicated that the drug-resistant non-adherent cancer cells became sensitive again by re-attaching to appropriate surface. Since the non-adherent cancer cells resemble the metastatic cancer cells in real cancer patients, this finding may lead approaches to stabilize and kill metastatic cancer cells in colon patients.

Teresa Liberati, D.V.M., Ph.D,  Research Assistant Professor in the Division of Pulmonary Medicine, Department of Medicine and Director of Laboratory Animal Medicine and Research Core Services focuses on Toxicology and lung cancer.  Dr. Liberati is the Principal Investigator on a grant from the American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest examining personal risk factors for lung cancer caused by exposure to environmental agents. Her laboratory studies the role of pulmonary inflammation in the initiation and promotion of lung cancer and how this inflammation can be modulated by genetics and obesity. Her laboratory uses the /in vitro / lung slice method for many mechanistic studies.  She also collaborates with Dr. Peter White, Professor of Medicine in the Pulmonary Division on studies of pulmonary inflammation and lung cancer in human subjects.

Krishna A. Rao, M.D. Ph.D Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine is currently working on a project to understand the role of rab25 in the role of breast cancer.  Rab25 represents a novel class of agents, which change the aggressive behavior of cancers. Understanding the cause and development of breast cancer is a key step towards improving therapy for patients afflicted with this disease. 

Laura Rogers, M.D., MPH, Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine, Division of General Internal Medicine, is focusing her research on exercise promotion and benefits in cancer survivors. Her research is funded by the Simmons Cancer Institute at SIU, SIU School of Medicine, and the National Cancer Institute. She is evaluating the effectiveness of a physical activity behavior change intervention (i.e, BEAT Cancer program) for breast cancer survivors. This research is also examining why breast cancer survivors do (or do not) become regular exercisers and is testing the health benefits experienced by the program participants. Other projects are underway in the exercise and cancer research laboratory directed by Dr. Rogers. For example, Dr. Rogers and her team are working to identify the inflammatory mechanisms underlying the effects of exercise on fatigue and sleep in breast cancer survivors. The effects of resistance training on physical functioning in head and neck cancer patients during treatment are also being examined. Dr. Rogers’ current and past research activities involve multiple local, regional, national, and international collaborations.

Mark Ruscin, Pharm.D., Division of General Internal Medicine recently did a study on patients’ adherence to their prescriptions after hospital discharge.  The purpose of this study was to determine the most common causes of Medication Discrepancies (MedDis) in patients discharged from the hospital and to estimate the potential savings from having a pharmacist visit the patient at home after discharge to identify and resolve MedDis.  Home visits were performed by a pharmacist and pharmacy student who interviewed the participant/caregiver.  Medications were reviewed to determine actual medication use at home, compared to discharge instructions.  MedDis were evaluated using the Medication Discrepancy Tool, and were communicated to the primary care physician.

David Steward, M.D., MPH, Professor of Medicine is heading a new coalition to battle the problem of overweight and obese children in central Illinois sponsored by a $100,000 community engagement grant from Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL). The effort includes various partners working under the name Springfield Collaborative. The grant runs through October, 2010, and is one of 14 that BCBSIL awarded in the state.

Rita Trammell, Ph.D., Division of Rheumatology performs research to identify the mechanisms responsible for poor sleep, chronic fatigue and excessive sleepiness and to develop effective treatments for these disabling symptoms.  A specific project includes: “Mechanisms of fatigue in a chronic viral disease”, designed to validate a mouse model of fatigue during chronic infection, determine the impact of environmental stressors on fatigue and illness, and test the impact of interferon-gamma depletion on fatigue under those conditions.