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WesternU Visiting Professor Lecture

by Rodney Tanaka

September 21, 2011

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Western University of Health Sciences will present a special guest lecture on Oct. 11, 2011, “Diabetes and its Complications: From Genes to Disease,” by visiting professor Adrian V. Vella, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, Metabolism and Nutrition, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.

The lecture, which will be at noon Tuesday, Oct. 11 in HEC Lecture Hall I, 701 E. Second St., Pomona, Calif., is made possible by WesternU being awarded the 2011 Visiting Professorship in Endocrine Pancreas Preservation (VPEPP) from the Endocrine Society. Click here to view a flier.

With WesternU opening its Patient Care Center (PCC) and establishing the Western Diabetes Institute (WDI), the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific’s (COMP) Department of Internal Medicine used the honor to retain Dr. Vella to visit during the 2011 fall semester as a visiting professor.

“Dr. Vella’s work at the Mayo Clinic has been exemplary in regards to not only his research accomplishments, but also his ability to mentor and teach medical students, residents and fellows,” said Airani Sathananthan, MD, assistant professor of Internal Medicine, Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism. “His research has focused on incretin physiology and the factors influencing progression of pre-diabetes to diabetes.”

Vella can provide expertise to the WDI on development of a Clinical Research Unit, in addition to advice on providing comprehensive coordinated care to diabetics.

“The large Hispanic population in our area — in excess of 70 percent — provides an opportunity to examine the predisposition to diabetes in this population, as well as investigate the genetic predisposition to microvascular complications,” Sathananthan said.

Vella’s visit will include meeting basic and clinical WesternU researchers who study diabetes, including those from the Colleges of Podiatric Medicine, Optometry and Pharmacy; lecturing to COMP students on the role of the clinician investigator in understanding the pathogenesis of diabetes; and lecturing to students and faculty across the university.

“Collaboration between basic scientists and clinicians at the WDI provides us a unique opportunity to address the molecular basis of complications of diabetes such as diabetic retinopathy, and to help develop novel strategies for therapeutic intervention,” said Raj Kandpal, PhD, Associate Professor of Biochemistry.

The WDI developed the Translational, Clinical and Epidemiological Research Unit (TCERU) to coordinate projects involving biomedical scientific discovery, clinical pharmacotherapeutic trials, innovations in patient care delivery models, and population-based studies. Grant support comes from various sources, including industry and federal funding agencies.

“The Western Diabetes Institute is a multidisciplinary integrated practice unit (IPU) organized around diabetes and all its related medical problems,” said Andrew S. Pumerantz, DO, FACP, associate professor, chair of Internal Medicine, chief of Infectious Disease, and WDI executive director. “To provide optimal diabetes care and improve outcomes, we recognize the inherent interdependencies bridging across different disciplines over the entire care cycle.”

Pumerantz said the WDI developed an innovative four- to five-hour comprehensive initial assessment wherein patients are evaluated by an expert team of WesternU specialists in endocrinology, cardiology, nephrology, podiatry, optometry, dentistry, and clinical pharmacy, using diagnostic testing that includes blood and urine analysis, electrocardiogram, echocardiogram, panoramic dental x-rays, neurologic assessment, and retinal scan. The multi-specialty team and the WDI Clinical Care Coordinator, a nurse practitioner, then meet to discuss the patient’s condition and formulate a 12-month, integrated management plan. Patient-centric outcomes are therefore measured over the total care cycle.

“We are honored that the Endocrine Society has recognized us with this grant,” he said.

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