Aug. 6, 2021

The latest news and updates from Interim Dean Robert L. Johnson!
The Dean's Weekly View will publish every other week throughout the summer.
Dr. Johnson Honored for Lifetime Achievement
Interim Dean Robert Johnson
Congratulations to Interim Dean Robert L. Johnson, MD, FAAP, who will be awarded the 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award during NJBiz's New Jersey Healthcare Heroes program later this month. Dr. Johnson is being recognized for his clinical expertise and research focused on adolescent physical and mental health, HIV, violence, sexuality, health equity and family strengthening. He conducts an active schedule of teaching, research and clinical practice, all while serving as the interim dean of Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and the The Sharon and Joseph L. Muscarelle endowed dean, professor of pediatrics and director of the Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School.
Office of Research Hosts Medical Student Summer Research Program
The 2021 Medical Student Summer Research Program was a resounding success! The eight-week program, led by Senior Associate Dean for Research and Chair of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Céline Gélinas, PhD, offered first- and second-year medical students the opportunity to work with faculty mentors on a variety of basic, translational or clinical research projects. It was another record event ,with 78 medical students presenting their research at the virtual symposium on Wednesday, July 28.

Special thanks to our 67 faculty mentors! We are also grateful to the weekly lecturers in the seminar series: Drs. Jeffrey Carson, Deborah McCloskey, Sally Radovick, Martin Blaser, Maral Mouradian, Paul Copeland, Carol A. Terregino and William Hu, and symposium keynote speaker, Reynold A. Panettieri Jr., MD; the faculty who served on the Fellowship Selection Committee; those faculty who served as moderators; and to Evelyn Blas, program support coordinator, who helped manage the program and organize the symposium. We are very grateful to our sponsors, the New Jersey Health Foundation, Inc., and the families and friends whose donations supported the Michael David Rothstein Scholarship, the Muriel Genfan Endowed Scholarship and the Tetsuo Shimamura MD Endowed Scholarship.

Congratulations to all students who completed the program! View the symposium program.
Clinical Trial for the 'Forgotten' Tricuspid Valve May Offer Hope to Patients When Traditional Surgery Is Not an Option
Individuals with severe tricuspid valve regurgitation, in which the valve between the two right heart chambers closes incorrectly, may be eligible for a new clinical trial to treat the condition. The clinical trial is being led by cardiothoracic surgeons at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital who recently treated the first patient in New Jersey with an investigational transcatheter heart valve replacement procedure.

Tricuspid regurgitation (TR) is a condition in which the heart’s tricuspid valve does not close tightly, causing blood to flow backwards in the heart during part of the cardiac cycle. This condition increases the workload on the heart and if left untreated ultimately leads to heart failure, liver disease, and lung damage.

Though tricuspid valvular disease is highly prevalent and fatal in its most advanced stages, the tricuspid valve has long been referred to as the “forgotten” valve, in large part because there have been no good treatment options for patients, according to Mark J. Russo, MD, MS, professor of surgery and chief of cardiac surgery, who is principal investigator for the clinical trial. The standard treatments available to patients with TR are open-heart surgery or, more often, management with medications for patients who are not able to have surgery. While medications may be temporarily palliative for some of the patient’s symptoms, if the underlying valve condition is not corrected, the disease will worsen.

Read more about the trial here, or for more information about the Triscend II Trial, please contact Dr. Russo or the clinical study team at 732-235-7800.
Drs. Lee and Lewis Discuss RWJUH Surgical Services Expansion
Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH) shares more on the surgical services expansion and reconstruction in this video including Keith Lewis, RPh, MD, professor and chair, anesthesiology and perioperative medicine and interim executive vice dean, and Leonard Y. Lee, MD, James W. Mackenzie, M.D. Endowed Chair in Surgery and professor and chair of surgery.

Watch as RWJUH leaders and physicians discuss how this project leads innovation as a premier academic medical center, impacts patient care and ultimately builds a healthier community.
Rutgers Inspires Establishment of New Jersey One Health Task Force
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for scientists to address how humans, animals and the environment affect each other and to develop protocols to stop diseases from transmitting from animals to humans.

In June, New Jersey became the first state to legislate a “One Health Task Force,” which promotes communication between state agencies and scientists who study human health, animal health and the earth sciences.

The law is based on the Rutgers One Health Steering Committee, which was started in 2016 by Gloria Bachmann, MMS, MD, professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences and director of the Women's Health Institute; Amy Papi, a volunteer at the Women's Health Institute; and former faculty member Sona Jasani, MD.

Dr. Bachmann and NJ One Health steering committee member Dina Fonseca, MS, PhD, director of the Rutgers Center for Vector Biology, discussed Rutgers’ role in establishing this state Task Force and how the One Health initiative will address emerging diseases in this Rutgers Today feature.
Veggie Rx Promotes Connections Between Food and Health
Established in 2018, Veggie Rx provides healthy fruits and vegetables to New Brunswick’s poor and low-income residents. A partnership among several health-oriented community programs that serve the city’s most vulnerable residents -- New Brunswick Community Farmers’ Market, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School’s HIPHOP-Promise Clinic, and Elijah’s Promise community kitchen -- the program also helps to create awareness about the connections between food and health, and it provides tangible ways for residents to take care of their health.

Rutgers’ Veggie Rx founders include Karen WeiRu Lin, MD, MS, professor of family medicine and community health, and assistant dean of global health, and alumnus Joshua Gilens, MD '19, along with colleagues from the Rutgers Cooperative Extension.

With faculty supervision, the medical students who run the Promise Clinic, which provides free primary care to patrons of Elijah’s Promise, give their patients “prescriptions” (vouchers) for fruits and vegetables to “fill” (redeem) for free at the New Brunswick Farmers’ Market. Three years later, this arrangement continues, and through a grant from Rutgers Community Health Foundation is supporting the program’s expansion, ensuring that all patrons of Elijah’s Promise can participate in Veggie Rx.

Veggie Rx was featured recently by the Rutgers Global Health Institute. Read the full story here.
Social Media Post of the Week
Grace Wilgucki, a recent graduate of the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, discusses her journey as a student and credits Soula Koniaris, MD, associate professor of pediatrics, as one of the key people who inspired her to pursue a career in medicine.

Click the image to read the full story.
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In the News

Now, kids under 12 are getting their shot at COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials -- Minh-tu Do, MD, and Sunanda Gaur, MD -- (PBS/NPR)

Rutgers Inspires Establishment of New Jersey One Health Task Force -- Gloria A. Bachmann, MMS, MD --,,

Veggie Rx promotes connections between food, health -- Karen WeiRu Lin, MD, MS, and Joshua Gilens, MD'19 --

Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, East Brunswick Library team up for Volunteer Day-- Susan Giordano and medical students in HIPHOP --

Black, Hispanic Communities Devastated by Loss Are Taking COVID-19 Safety Precautions -- Manuel Jimenez, MD, MS --,,
Dept. of Communications and Public Affairs | Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
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