Dec. 13, 2019
The latest news and updates from Interim Dean Robert L. Johnson!
Stroke Victim Thrives Following Surgery with Dr. Nanda
Elena Bonner was a healthy, vibrant 21-year-old nursing student when one day she suddenly began feeling weak and lacked coordination.

Her symptoms quickly progressed and by the time she arrived at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, Elena had three strokes, could not move her left side and had no control over her eyes.

Testing revealed bleeding near her brain stem and the presence of an abnormal bundle of blood vessels. She was told that treatment should be performed by a leading specialist in the field and was immediately referred to Anil Nanda, MD, MPH, joint chair of the Department of Neurosurgery at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and New Jersey Medical School and senior vice president for Neurosurgical Services at RWJBarnabas Health.

Watch as Elena and her mom share their story in a video produced by RWJBarnabas Health.
Dr. Ostfeld and Dr. Hegyi Launch New SIDS Prevention App with Microsoft
A new, free mobile app,  Baby be Well , helps families keep their infants safe throughout the first year of life. By incorporating activities that encourage frequent return visits, the app provides users with proven guidance of safe sleep practices to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

The app was developed by Barbara Ostfeld, PhD , and Thomas Hegyi, MD , who both serve as professor of pediatrics, and as the program director and medical director, respectively, of the SIDS Center of New Jersey. They worked in association with volunteers at Microsoft Corp. as part of its AI for Good Initiative and Tata Consultancy Services. Rutgers University contributed support for the initiative, and Steven Wen , assistant manager, Office of Information Technology at the medical school, oversaw the launch of the app.

It can be downloaded in the Google Play Store at:
The iOS version will follow shortly.

Dr. Yi-Horng Lee Saves a Teen's Life
When the pediatrician told Jackie Cenci that her active 14-year-old son Joey ( pictured far right) was experiencing growing pains and just fighting a virus, she was inclined to believe the diagnosis. However, two nights later when Joey could no longer move his legs and was having trouble breathing, everything changed. His parents rushed him to the Pediatric Emergency Department at  The Bristol-Myers Squibb Children’s Hospital  (BMSCH) at  Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH) , where Joey was diagnosed with double pneumonia.
Tests showed that the pneumonia was caused by Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, MRSA. Left untreated, it could lead to sepsis.

Joey's condition continued to decline. Following emergency surgery to remove blood and fluid from his chest, he was placed on blood thinners to treat a blood clot in his leg. His hemoglobin dropped, and he could barely breathe. An emergent CT scan revealed that Joey was choking on his own blood.

Yi-Horng Lee, MD , associate professor and chief of Pediatric Surgery, cleared an operating room and within minutes, Joey was undergoing surgery. Three hours later, Dr. Lee informed the family that the blood and fluid was cleared from Joey's lungs and his right lung was so badly infected by MRSA that two-thirds had to be removed.

Joey's care required the collaboration of a team of sub-specialists from pediatric surgery, pediatric orthopedics, pediatric critical care, pediatric infectious disease, pediatric hematology and pediatric pulmonary medicine—just to name a few.

Click here to read more about Joey's story.
Patient Satisfaction Scores Continue to Rise!
The Rutgers Health clinical practice at the medical school is receiving glowing responses from the most important source: patients. Scores released by Press Ganey showed sustained and impressive improvement in areas across the board, including the overall patient experience. Under the category "Likelihood to Recommend Provider's Office," a Top Box score of 90.2% was received, which is the highest score earned since the medical school began tracking with Press Ganey three years ago. The Top Box score represents the percentage of responses in the highest possible category for a question, section or survey.

Press Ganey is a leading provider of patient experience measurement, performance analytics and strategic advisory solutions for health care organizations across the continuum of care.
Risk Perception Linked to Opioid Relapse
Medical school researchers contributed to a study that discovered  that people who are more likely to take part in  ambiguously  risky activities are more likely to succumb to opioid relapse.

In the  study , published in JAMA Psychiatry , researchers followed 70 people during their first seven months of treatment for opioid addiction, which is the period associated with the highest relapse and overdose risk. Forty-six percent returned to opioid use during this time.

According to the participants' performance in a computer game created for the study, most relapses occurred when patients exhibited a strong tolerance for risk-taking in situations where the risk associated with these decisions was not fully knowable.

“Although it is well known that people addicted to opioids cycle through periods of abstinence and use, we lack the tools needed to prospectively identify when these transitions are more likely to occur. Here, given that opioid use during treatment is quite risky, we wanted to examine whether a patient’s tolerance for risky decisions is informative about their vulnerability to relapse,” said Anna Konova, PhD , assistant professor at  Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care  and  Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School , and a faculty member in the  Brain Health Institute , who was co-lead for the study .

The researchers measured the computer test results against clinical assessments of the patient’s anxiety, craving, withdrawal and nonadherence to treatment. Opioid use was determined by random urine tests and self-reporting.

Experts Discuss Women's Cancer Care
Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and the Rutgers University Alumni Association recently co-hosted " The Future of Women’s Cancer Care is Here.” The symposium, held at the College Avenue Student Center, featured expert panelists, including (center photo, left to right) Janice Mehnert, MD' 01; Eileen White, PhD; Deborah Toppmeyer, MD; Shicha Kumar, MD' 04, FACS; and Ruth Stephenson, DO, FACOG. The panel shared why they went into the field of cancer research and care, as well as provided an update on the advances in cancer treatment.

Marcia Bird, a cancer survivor, shared her inspirational story. Click here to view additional photos from the event.
Nancy Mastrogiovanni Named Employee of the Month for October
Congratulations to Nancy Mastrogiovanni , residency program coordinator in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, who was named Employee of the Month for October! Nancy has been a member of the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School staff for six years.

"Nancy regularly exceeds expectations and is an extremely valuable asset to our team. She tirelessly works to develop resident morale and provides ongoing emotional support to the residents," said Gary Ebert, MD , director of the residency program in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, who nominated Nancy for the award.

"Nancy was recently involved in coordinating the site visit for the Maternal-Fetal Medicine Fellowship. The visit was a huge success despite a recent change in the fellowship director and in part due to the time and effort she put forth. Nancy did an excellent job of setting up our residency interviews this year, including incorporating new ACGME recommendations for the recruiting and interviewing process. Nancy is exceptionally responsible, approachable and will take time to assist others without being asked, all while maintaining a professional and friendly demeanor," Dr. Ebert wrote.

Congratulations again, Nancy, on this well-deserved honor!
Vendor Fairs Huge Success
Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School Staff Council sponsored two vendor fairs this holiday season on both the Piscataway and New Brunswick campuses.

Many shoppers stopped by to support local businesses and came away with bargains and quality gifts to cross off their holiday list!

Please visit the Staff Council  website  to stay up to date on the latest news and events.
Chamber Music Decked the Halls
A special thank you to the undergraduate and graduate students of Mason Gross School of the Arts for entertaining patients, faculty and staff over that the last few weeks in the lobby and halls of the Clinical Academic Building.

Under the direction of Jonathan Spitz , head of the string program and assistant professor, cello, the groups filled the breezeways with the melodic sounds of Beethoven, Schubert and Mendelsohn.

Spitz is also principal cellist of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra and member cellist of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra.

When their busy schedules allow, we look
forward to having them play for us again soon!
CAB chamber music
Save the Date for Upcoming Events!
The medical school’s Staff Council invites all staff members to attend  its quarterly 
General Staff Meeting , at which attendees are welcome to ask questions, discuss important issues with council members and learn about upcoming initiatives being planned for staff.

Monday, Dec. 16
12 p.m.

CAB 1302 in New Brunswick and
Dean's Conference Room in Piscataway

Save the date for these future quarterly General Staff Council Meetings:
Monday, March 23, 2020
Monday, June 22, 2020
Please visit the Staff Council  website  for additional information.

This Lunch & Learn presentation will focus on the 26-Week Online Wellness Initiative  that was shared during the Wellness Fair.

Find out more about the online program and receive helpful pointers about mind, body and spirit self care and wellness!

Tuesday, Dec. 17
12 - 1 p.m.

Rooms N11 & N12, 2nd floor,
Kessler Teaching Lab

Guest Speakers:
Shailja Mathur, MS, MEd, RDN
Family & Community Health Sciences
Senior Program Coordinator
Joanne Kinsey, MS, CFCS, CWWS
Family & Community Health Sciences  
Educator II 
Brain Bee Date Announced
The Regional Brain Bee is the first round in an international competition for high school students in grades 9 to 12, testing their knowledge in the field of neuroscience. All questions are derived from the 2019 edition of Brain Facts , published by the Society of Neuroscience. The book can be downloaded for free at

Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020
Registration: 9:30 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Competition: 10:30 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Location: 675 Hoes Lane, Piscataway

Hosted by the Department of Neuroscience and
Cell Biology. Click here for complete competition details.
Welcome New Faculty and Staff
November New Employee Orientation attendees. Front row, l to r: Donna Torres, Doreen Adams, Aleena Andrews, Erika Mejia, Ayesha Ahmed, Sidney Johnson, and Yuliya Hapiak. Back row, l to r: Ashraf Husein, Judeska Moore, Jennifer Luizza, Paola Parlanti, Sweta Butala, Kathleen Francois, Lisa Sears, Adriana Fandino Ayala, Kathy Idrissi, Jessica Dietzold and Pablo Munoz.
December New Employee Orientation attendees. Front row, l to r: Nicole Harris, Manvitha Kuchukulla, Christine Tucker, Nelly Jamedar, Cynthia Salvant and Katelin Corrado. Back row, l to r: Rick Salisbury, Diane Mustafa, Abigail Walsh, Michelle Romero, Amanda Driesse, Jessica Sowden, Joylene Simmons, Sun Young Kim and Samed Al-Samerria.
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Upcoming CME and Grand Rounds
For the remainder of the year, I highlight the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Health's Grand Rounds on "Building a Global Health Practice at RWJBarnabas Health," by Ernani Sadural, MD , assistant professor. This Grand Rounds will be held on  Friday, Dec. 20 , from  8 - 9 a.m. i n   the Medical Education Building, Room 102 .  

Please note: for calendar year 2019, most recurring CME accredited events will conclude next week. 

To view upcoming CME-accredited activities, including some early in 2020, please click here .

Have a safe, healthy, and happy holiday season,

Paul F. Weber, MD, RPh, MBA, Associate Dean, Continuing Medical Education
In the News
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