Greetings IMD partners, stakeholders and friends-

My name is Allyson Hansen, and I'm the new Executive Director at the Illinois Medical District (IMD). I joined the IMD in December 2021 and have gotten right to work learning about all of the wonderful people, places and programs that make the District the world-class health innovation hub that it is.
Prior to joining the IMD I worked in healthcare running operations and strategy at many local hospitals including UChicago Medicine, UI Health and Loyola. My most recent position was managing partner of the Red Penny Group, where I advised large healthcare systems, medical groups and investors on mergers and acquisitions, integration, operations and strategic plans.  
The IMD board of commissioners and I have embarked on a listening tour to meet some of our partners and discuss not only the vision for the IMD going forward, but how we can be helpful in their efforts to achieve their organizational goals. What we are hearing is the desire for the IMD to be a “medical neighborhood” where healthcare, innovation and the community can come together to improve the health of the West Side on a walkable and vibrant campus. 
We will continue working diligently to ensure that all of our partners have a voice that is heard, and that you feel the same sense of pride that we do in calling the IMD 'home'. To that end, I would love to meet and hear from you how the IMD can best support your efforts. If you would like to connect, but we have not already confirmed a meeting, please email Karen Ewing to schedule a date.

Lastly, I would like to thank the IMD staff for their great work during the leadership transition. This is an amazing group, and you will get to know them in this and future editions of The Catalyst. I would especially like to thank Kate Schellinger, who did an admirable job as interim executive director. Kate has returned to her role as IMD Chief of Staff.
The demand for monthly parking is on the rise, so to meet the demand of our community on March 1, 2022, the IMD will be suspending daily parking at the 701 S. Leavitt parking lot to allow for more monthly parkers. 

Monthly and quarterly permits will still be available. Permit requests and questions can be sent to IMDParking@medicaldistrict.orgDaily parking may resume in the future, subject to availability of spaces. 
Winter storms and cold temperatures can be dangerous. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has tips to help individuals stay safe and healthy by planning ahead:

  • Prepare your home and vehicles
  • Prepare for power outages and outdoor activity Check on older adults

If you are prepared for the hazards of winter, you are more likely to stay safe and healthy when temperatures start to fall.
Appropriate winter attire includes layers of light, warm clothing (via CDC)
For more information on how to prepare for winter storms, prevent cold temperature-related health problems, and protect yourself during all stages of a winter storm, visit the CDC's winter weather web page.
A research team led by Mark Rasenick, UIC distinguished professor of physiology and biophysics and psychiatry, has identified a biomarker in human platelets for depression.

The study brings the research team one step closer to developing a simple blood test to identify the biomarker for depression, and reveal the efficacy of therapeutic medicine in individuals.

“What we have developed is a test that can not only indicate the presence of depression but it can also indicate therapeutic response with a single biomarker, and that is something that has not existed to date,” said Rasenick, who is also a research career scientist at Jesse Brown VA Medical Center. 

"The researchers hypothesize they will be able to use this blood test to determine if antidepressant therapies are working, perhaps as soon as one week after beginning treatment."

Rasenick will lead further research in order to fully develop the screening test. You can read more about the study here.
Our Catalyst newsletter exists in part to promote the great work of our IMD partners and friends. If you have news, events or information about your organization that you'd like us to include in a future edition of The Catalyst, please reach out to IMD Communications Director Ryan Gage.
Located in the heart of the Illinois Medical District on the campus of the University of Illinois, Children of Peace is a faith and learning community that provides a challenging curriculum in an environment that is culturally sensitive and emotionally supportive. 
In addition to the education program for students Pre-K to 8th grade, Children of Peace has a Montessori program for children ages 3-6, and Children of Peace is also the only school in the Archdiocese of Chicago offering an educational program for students who are deaf or hard of hearing.

To register for the Virtual Open House, please email
February is American Heart Month, and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) has launched a campaign to raise awareness about the importance of self care in maintaining heart health.
Heart Disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. Locally, heart disease and stroke were responsible for 29% of all deaths in Illinois in 2017.

Dr. Jon Radosta, Chief Ambulatory Medical Officer at UI Health, recommends that individuals who are concerned or at risk seek information from their primary healthcare provider:

"Patients should work with their primary care provider to improve heart health. That includes discussions about nutrition, sleep, physical activity, and stress management. It is never too early or too late to embrace a healthy lifestyle to improve your heart health as it is a key component of your overall health."
For more resources on American Heart Month, visit the NHLBI website or use the social media hashtag #OurHearts.
As Chief Financial Officer for the IMD, Tom Strachan's responsibilities include financial reporting, budgeting, and improving internal controls. Tom works with our team to improve client relationships, manage our insurance programs, and to consider IT improvements. Tom enjoys working on projects that benefit our stakeholders, including our recent job and resource fair.

"We can do more in the community and we are always looking for ways to contribute," said Strachan.
Tom previously worked for the federal government in compliance review and financial management, and also has held a variety of financial management positions in manufacturing, retail, wholesale and distribution firms.

In his spare time, Tom serves in several village and county board positions including fire, zoning and water reclamation districts. If you would like to connect with Tom, you can reach him by email.
Everyone 5 years of age and older is eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, and everyone 12 years of age and older is eligible for a COVID-19 booster shot. To find a COVID-19 vaccine near you, click here.

Although vaccination remains the best way to protect against COVID-19, individuals are encouraged to continue observing basic precautions to help protect against infection, such as:

  • Washing your hands frequently with soap and water
  • Coughing or sneezing into your elbow, rather than into your hands
  • Avoiding large social gatherings where COVID-19 mitigation protocols are not in place
  • All individuals, regardless of vaccination status, should continue observing mask and social distance policies in public places and at businesses in your community
  • Consult with your medical provider if you feel sick

For more information on COVID-19:

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