News & Events

New ad campaign highlights Taubman Institute

Full-page newspaper ads showcasing the mission and scientists of the A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute have begun running in the Sunday edition of the Detroit Free Press.

The ads, which debuted April 13 and will run on consecutive Sundays through May 3, highlight the institute's bench-to-beside mission of funding physician-researchers who aim to speed new cures and treatments to their patients. 

Under the slogan "We Can't Wait," the advertisements showcase efforts of Taubman Institute scientitsts in fields such as cancer and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease.  The campaign was created on a pro bono basis by the Detroit ad agency Doner.

"In just six short years, we have gone from a start-up institution to one of the most respected and productive facilitators of medical science anywhere," noted Taubman Instittute Director Dr. Eva Feldman. "From the more than 50 human clinical trials our scholars have implemented to the internationally known $100,000 Taubman prize, we are underscoring the importance of keeping the pipeline full of medical discoveries.  And we are thrilled that this outstanding advertising campaign will help to spread word of our mission even further."

 In late 2007, A. Alfred Taubman, one of America’s leading entrepreneurs and philanthropists, launched the medical research institute that bears his name at the University of Michigan Medical School. His vision was to create a research community at the university where fundamental scientific discovery can begin to unlock the core processes of disease, to aid in their diagnosis, treatment and cure, thereby alleviating the suffering of millions of people throughout the world. His commitment to the A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute now stands at $100 million, the largest donation in the history of the University of Michigan Health System.

Harvard's David M. Nathan, M.D., to speak as Visiting Professor April 18

As part of the Taubman Institute's visiting professor program, eminent endocrinologist David M. Nathan, M.D., of Harvard University will deliver two lectures at the University of Michigan Health System on April 18.

Dr. Nathan, an internationally recognized expert on diabetes and its complications, will first address Internal Medicine Grand Rounds at noon in Ford Auditorium. His presentation is titled, “The Type 2 Diabetes Epidemic: Prevention and Therapy.”

Later the same afternoon at 2 p.m., Dr. Nathan will present “Diabetes Trials and Tribulations in 2014: What do we know?” at the Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology & Diabetes (MEND) Combined Clinical/Research Conference and Diabetes Grand Rounds.

The Taubman Institute regularly collaborates with other University of Michigan Medical School departments to invite distinguished thought leaders in medical research to speak on the U-M campus in Ann Arbor. The lectures are generally held monthly and represent the Taubman Institute's ongoing commitment to furthering translational medical research by creating opportunities for the most talented physician-researchers to exchange knowledge and ideas.

Headaches lead to $1 billion a year in spending on brain scans, Taubman-funded research finds

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — One in eight visits to a a doctor for a headache or migraine end up with the patient going for a brain scan, at a total cost of about $1 billion a year, a new University of Michigan Medical School study finds.

The A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute helped with funding for the study, which found that many of those MRI and CT scans – and costs – are probably unnecessary, given the very low odds that serious issues lurk in the patients’ brains.

In fact, several national guidelines for doctors specifically discourage scanning the brains of patients who complain of headache and migraine. But the new study shows the rate of brain scans for headache has risen, not fallen, since guidelines for doctors came out. This may mean that patient demand for scans drives much of the cost.

The researchers suggest that better education of the public, and insurance plan designs that ask patients to pay part of the cost based on the likely value of the scan for them, may be needed to reduce unnecessary use and spending.

The research, published in JAMA Internal Medicine by a team from the U-M Department of Neurology, uses national data on headache-related doctor visits and neuroimaging scans by people over age 18, and calculates estimated total costs across multiple years.

In all, 51.1 million headache-related patient visits occurred between 2007 and 2010 – nearly half of them related to migraine.  The vast majority were by people under the age of 65, and more than three-quarters of the patients were women. In those same four years, 12.4 percent of these visits resulted in a brain MRI or CT.

The researchers estimated the total cost of the four years’ worth of scans at $3.9 billion, based on typical Medicare payments to doctors for imaging.

“This is a conservative cost estimate based on what Medicare would pay for these tests. CTs and MRIs are commonly ordered for headache and migraine, and increasing over time, despite the fact that there are rare circumstances where imaging should be used,” says Brian Callaghan, M.D., M.S., the U-M neurologist who led the team performing the study.

“Lots of guidelines say we shouldn’t do this – including ones from neurology and radiology groups – but yet we still do it a lot. This is a source of tremendous cost in health care without a lot of evidence to justify the cost,” notes Callaghan, who is the Fovette E. Dush Early Career Professor in neurology.

A billion dollars’ worth of reassurance?

Doctors might order a CT or MRI scan for a headache or migraine to put patients’ minds at ease about fears that a malignant brain tumor, aneurysm, arteriovenous malformation or other issue might be causing their symptoms.

And even if the patient doesn’t meet the conditions that guidelines say can benefit most from brain imaging – for instance, someone with an abnormal neurological exam or a known cancer -- doctors might order a scan at a patient’s request to protect themselves legally.

But past research shows that only 1 percent to 3 percent of scans of patients with repeated headaches find that a growth or blood vessel problem in the brain is to blame. And many of the issues that scans spot turn out not to pose a serious threat – or may not require treatment right away.

“There’s solid research showing that the number of times you find serious issues on these scans in headache patients is about the same as that for a randomly chosen group of non-headache patients,” he says. “And a lot of the things we find on such scans aren’t necessarily something we will do something about.” 

Callaghan notes that the current study, based on data from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s National Ambulatory Care Medical Survey, couldn’t detect which scans met guidelines and which didn’t.

But the fact that 14.7 percent of people who saw a doctor for headache or migraine in 2010 went on to have a brain scan would not be expected if guidelines were being followed, he says. The team is working on further research into the appropriateness of the scans ordered for patients. 

He also notes that the $1 billion a year estimate doesn’t include other costs, including follow-up tests and any treatment that might be ordered if a scan finds something. And, CT imaging comes with a radiation exposure that itself carries risks, while MRI scans are more costly and have a higher chance of finding things that turn out to be of no concern.

“But doctors typically don’t consider costs, and patients usually aren’t paying directly for these scans,” he notes. “Insurers may require prior authorizations but still cover the scans if they are ordered.” In fact, he and his colleagues last year published a study showing that the cost of medical imaging ordered by neurologists cost more than the cost of all visits to neurologists added together.

The bottom line for headache patients who think they might want to have a brain scan, says Callaghan: if the doctor treating your headache doesn’t think you need a scan, don’t push them.

In addition to Callaghan, an assistant professor of neurology, the study’s authors include Kevin Kerber, M.D., M.S., Robert Pace, M.D., Lesli Skolarus, M.D., M.S., and James F. Burke, M.D., M.S. Most of the authors are members of the U-M Institute for Healthcare Policy & Innovation.

Funding: Katherine Rayner Program, Taubman Medical Research Institute, NIH grant K23 NS079417 and other NIH grants.

Reference: JAMA Internal Medicine, doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.173


Taubman Institute presents An Evening of Art + Science

Gala and auction to showcase new works of art inspired by Taubman Scholars

Some virtuosos express their talents through clay, paint, wood, words or dance.

For others, the media are the very cells and molecules of the human body.

 Each expert excels in his or her chosen field, and on one unprecedented night in May, they will come together in Detroit for a gala celebration: An Evening of Art + Science.

This unique fundraising event will unveil the works inspired by the pairing of 11 physician-researchers of the A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute with noted artists from the Detroit area and beyond. For months, the artists have been meeting with their medical counterparts to discuss the creativity that abounds in their respective disciplines, and to gain ideas and inspiration from the medical research being conducted by these dedicated clinician-scientists from the University of Michigan.

An Evening of Art + ScienceOn May 22, the results will be revealed when the scientists, the artists and supporters come     together at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD) to discuss the collaborations. The art pieces will be sold at auction and the proceeds used to fund the Taubman Emerging Scholars program, which helps early-career clinician-scientists establish their laboratories.

Meanwhile, the eminent senior scholars of the Taubman Institute are conducting groundbreaking research on a variety of devastating diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, ALS, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and multiple sclerosis, among many others. In less than six years since the founding of the institute – which operates as a unit of the University of Michigan Medical School -- the research it has sponsored has produced more than 50 human clinical trials of potentially life-saving treatments.

The work of the Taubman Institute is funded solely by private philanthropy. The Evening of Art and Science will raise funds to help maintain the pipeline of life-altering medical discoveries, and will showcase for the Metro Detroit community the amazing breakthroughs that are emerging from the laboratories of the Taubman Scholars, all of whom are practicing physicians and U-M faculty in addition to being active scientific researchers.

An Evening of Art + ScienceAmong the artists whose work will be auctioned are choreographer and theater director Aku Kadogo, painter Simone DeSousa, interactive artist Osman Khan, Lynne Avadenka and the team of Cezanne Charles and John Marshall. This show has been curated by Lynn Crawford, a board member of MOCAD and a distinguished novelist and art critic.

Some of the scientists featured in the project include Dr. Valerie Castle, a cancer researcher and chair of the U-M Health System’s department of pediatrics and communicable diseases; Dr. Parag Patil, a U-M neurosurgeon who is conducting the first intraspinal injections of stem cells into patients with ALS; Dr. Ronald Buckanovich, an associate professor of gynecology who is testing a new drug for ovarian cancer patients, and Dr. Eva Feldman, the Russell N. DeJong Professor of Neurology at U-M and the director of the Taubman Institute.

An Evening of Art + Science The evening also will feature music, dancing, dinner and cocktails. Dinner tickets are available for a donation of $500.

Tickets to the after-dinner party and auction are $50.

Tickets that include the special VIP reception before the event are $1,000.

All proceeds benefit the Taubman Institute’s Emerging Scholars Program for early career physician-scientists at the University of Michigan Health System.

For VIP or Dinner tickets, please contact Gail Ball at 248.705.0287 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . For Party tickets, click here.

Click the links below to learn more about the artist-scientist pairings:

Science on Screen: See "Steel Magnolias" followed by Q&A with Dr. Eva Feldman at Ann Arbor's Michigan Theater

Twenty-five years after “Steel Magnolias”: Dr. Eva Feldman shares the latest in treatment of diabetes complications at the Michigan Theater’s April 16 session of Science on Screen

Twenty-five years ago, when millions of movie-goers laughed and then cried over the saga of M’Lynn,   her diabetic daughter Shelby and their eccentric friends and relatives in “Steel Magnolias,” about 6.3 million Americans were living with diabetes.

Today, nearly 26 million Americans have diabetes -- and if unchecked, the rising incidence of the disease will affect one in every three Americans by 2050, according to the American Diabetes Association. The cost of diabetes is estimated at more than $250 billion a year in the United States alone and the non-monetary cost to quality of life for patients and their families is immeasurable.

Diabetes has adverse effects on the entire body, from heart to kidneys to eyes. And the neurological complications of diabetes can be particularly debilitating. As many as 70 percent of diabetics suffer some form of nervous system damage, leading to pain, loss of sensation and loss of mobility. Currently, no effective treatment exists for this nerve damage.

But there is hope.

Dr. Eva Feldman, the Russell N. DeJong Professor of Neurology at the University of Michigan Medical School and the director of the A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute, is a practicing neurologist whose research laboratory seeks new discoveries about the cause and treatment of diabetic neuropathy and other complications.

Her laboratory, the Program for Neurology Research & Discovery, is attacking this huge health problem in many ways. PNR&D scientists are discovering how high blood sugar injures nerves, why this causes pain, and how over time diabetes destroys the nerves. By simulating the insults that nerve cells undergo with diabetes in cultured cells, and studying neuronal changes in patients with diabetic neuropathy, Dr. Feldman and her staff has discovered some of the key mechanistic pathways involved in neuronal injury during diabetes. These pathways have become the subjects for development of new, groundbreaking therapies.

Join Dr. Feldman for the April 16 installment of Science on Screen, the innovative series at Ann Arbor's historic Michigan Theater that pairs films with expert guest speakers for the perfect combination of entertainment and enlightenment. Following the 7 p.m. showing of “Steel Magnolias,” Dr. Feldman will share the latest developments in treatment and take questions from audience members.

The Michigan Theater offers group discount of $7.25 per ticket (regular adult admission is $10, regular student admission is $8) to parties of 10 or more people, purchased in advance. Contact box office manager Natalie Hensel at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 734-668-8397, extension 27.

The theater also offers free admission vouchers to science teachers and professors, which they can give to their students.  Instructors may contact Emily Mathews, marketing director, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to order vouchers.  

Visit the Michigan Theater website for additional information. 

Winter/Spring Visiting Professor series features eminent guest speakers

The Taubman Institute's Visiting Professor lecture sreies -- which assists in bringing eminent, thought-leading scientists from around the globe to speak to the U-M community -- continues this year with a stellar line-up of speakers, including:


March 19:

Steven A. Goldman, M.D., Ph.D., University of Rochester Medical Center

“Stem and Progenitor Cell-Based Treatment and Modeling of Myelin Disease”

10:30 to 11:30 a.m. in the Danto Auditorium of the U-M Cardiovascular Center


March 26:

Justin McArther, MBBS, MPH, Johns Hopkins University

“Emerging Concepts in HIV: What Neurologists Need to Know”

10:30 to 11:30 a.m. in the Danto Auditorium of the U-M Cardiovascular Center


April 18:

David M. Nathan, M.D., Harvard University

1-2 p.m. in the U-M Hospital's Ford Auditorium


April 25:

Martin Turner, M.D., Oxford Unversity

4-5 p.m. in the MCHC Auditorium (Mott Children's Hospital)


Inaugural Emerging Scholars Symposium scheduled for April 30


 One of the most innovative of the “high-risk, high-reward” grant programs at the A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute is the Emerging Scholars Program, which often is referred to as the “jewel in the crown” of the institute’s initiatives.

Not only do these grants support the current work of the best and brightest of the early-career clinician-scientists on the U-M Medical School faculty, they achieve the crucial goal of keeping our health science research pipeline full.

Talented, passionate physician-researchers with the vision and energy to solve complex medical puzzles should not be deterred for lack of funds. Thanks to the contributions of the generous donors who have pledged three years of funding for each scientist, the institute now is jump-starting the careers of 11 Emerging Scholars who combine their patient practice with cutting-edge research into cancer, neurological disorders and other complex diseases.  

And now, the first-ever Emerging Scholars Symposium will present a morning of science featuring presentations by six of our remarkable Emerging Scholars, who are seeking new discoveries and treatments in fields ranging from ovarian cancer to major depression.

The Emerging Scholars Symposium will run from 10 a.m. to noon in the Kahn Auditorium of the A. Alfred Taubman Biomedical Science Research Building at U-M. For a map to the AAT-BSRB, click here.

The symposium is open to the entire University of Michigan community and to the general public.   No registration is required.

To view a short video about the Emerging Scholars program, click here.

The presenting Emerging Scholars and their talks are:


 Ron Buckanovich , M.D., Ph.D. “Developing Cancer Stem Cell Targeted Therapy to Prevent Disease Recurrence”


 Sung Won Choi, M.D. “Histone deacetylase inhibition in graft-vs.-host disease”


 Erika Newman , M.D. “Targeting Nonhomologous End-joining in Therapy-resistant Neuroblastoma”


 Brian Mickey, M.D., Ph.D. “Biomarker Discovery for Refractory Mood Disorders”


 Parag Patil, M.D., Ph.D. “Treating Movement Disorders and Depression with Deep-Brain Stimulation”


 Srijan Sen, M.D., Ph.D. “Medical Internship as a Model to Identify Biological Predictors of Depression Under Stress”



Eleven Taubman Scholars named to "Best Doctors in America" roll

The following Taubman Scholars and Emerging Scholars are among the University of Michigan Medical School physicians recently named to the 2013-2014 "Best Doctors In America" list.

Frank (Chip) Brosius III, M.D.

Valerie P. Castle, M.D.

Sung Won Choi, M.D.

Eva L. Feldman, M.D., Ph.D.

Thomas W. Gardner, M.D., M.S.

Johann Gudjonsson, M.D., Ph.D.

Alon Kahana, M.D., Ph.D.

Theodore S. Lawrence, M.D., Ph.D.

Parag Patil, M.D., Ph.D.

Henry L. Paulson, M.D.

Max S. Wicha, M.D.

The new national list includes 493 U-M physicians — and places them among the best 5 percent of doctors in their specialties. UMHS has more physicians recognized than any other health system in Michigan.

The list is compiled every year by Boston-based Best Doctors, Inc., and based on an in-depth survey, the List contains more than 53,000 U.S. physicians in 40 specialties and more than 400 subspecialties of medicine. In a confidential review, current physician listees answer the question, “If you or a loved one needed a doctor in your specialty, to whom would you refer?”

This yields a preliminary set of doctors who meet the initial criteria for inclusion. These physicians are then checked for credentials, disciplinary actions and clinical activity. Only doctors who meet all evaluation criteria are selected for the list.

A full list of the UMHS doctors on this year’s list is available at

Taubman Institute Founder & Director to receive ALS award

The ALS Association Michigan Chapter has named Mr. A. Alfred Taubman, founder and chair of the A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute, and Eva L. Feldman, M.D., Ph.D., the institute’s director, as the 2014 recipients of the association’s Legacy of Hope Award.

The award honors individuals who effect positive changes within the ALS community and demonstrate a remarkable commitment to the betterment of treatment for ALS patients, and the research necessary to find the cure for ALS.

Through his establishment of the Taubman Institute at the University of Michigan, as well as for his philanthropic support of Dr. Feldman’s laboratory, Mr. Taubman has created an environment where scientists are working on ALS-related research ranging from imaging techniques to provide early diagnosis, to Dr. Feldman’s landmark trial of a first-ever stem cell treatment for ALS. To date, 22 patients have received injections of specially engineered stem cells directly to their spinal cords in the FDA-approved trial, which is testing the ability of the stem cells to replace dying motor neurons.

“Mr. Taubman and I are deeply grateful to be selected as the inaugural recipients of this honor,” said Dr. Feldman. “We greatly appreciate the recognition of our work at the Taubman Institute to create hope for ALS patients and their families, and are proud to accept it as representatives of the many other researchers, philanthropists and caregivers striving every day in the quest for new cures and treatments.”

Dr. Feldman and Mr. Taubman will be honored at the Legacy of Hope evening sponsored by the ALS Association Michigan Chapter on April 3. The black-tie gala featuring a reception, dinner, auction and awards program will be held at the Townsend Hotel in Birmingham beginning at 6 p.m.  

For information about tickets and sponsorship opportunities, visit or call (248) 680-6540.

Taubman Scholar Dr. Max Wicha: Study sheds light on 'triple-negative' breast cancer

ANN ARBOR, Mich. New research from the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center and Georgia Regents University finds that a protein that fuels an inflammatory pathway does not turn off in breast cancer, resulting in an increase in cancer stem cells. This provides a potential target for treating triple negative breast cancer, the most aggressive form of the disease.

The researchers identified a protein, SOCS3, that is highly expressed in normal cells but undetectable in triple-negative breast cancer. They showed that this protein is degraded in cancers, blocking the cellular off-switch of a feedback loop involving the inflammatory protein interleukin 6, IL6. When the switch does not get turned off, it enables cancer stem cells to grow.

"We have known for a long time known that there are important links between inflammation and cancer, including similar pathways that regulate normal and cancer stem cells," says study author Max S. Wicha, M.D., distinguished professor of oncology and director of the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center.

"This work helps explain why these pathways shut off in normal tissues after injury but remain active in cancers, resulting in an increase in cancer stem cells. Furthermore, they suggest that blocking these inflammatory loops may be a means of targeting cancer stem cells, improving patient outcome," says Wicha, a Senior Scholar at the A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute.

The study appears in the Nature journal Oncogene.

Currently, there are no molecularly targeted therapies aimed at triple-negative breast cancer, which is a type of cancer negative for estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor and the HER2 protein – all key targets for current therapies. Patients with this form of disease tend to have worse outcomes.

The researchers tested a drug, bortezomib, in mouse models of triple-negative breast cancer and found that it stops the protein degradation, resulting in the inflammatory loop shutting off, which reduces the cancer stem cells, thereby blocking metastasis. Bortezomib is currently approved for treatment of the blood cancer multiple myeloma.

This team previously showed that IL6 can stimulate breast cancer stem cells in HER2-positive breast cancers and they are designing a clinical trial which uses an IL6 blocker. The new research suggests that adding bortezomib to the IL6 inhibitor may be a way to target stem cells in triple-negative breast cancer.

"Now that we unveiled how inflammation is regulated in triple-negative breast cancer, we expect that our studies can be translated into the clinic. The drugs used to block these chemical messengers are already approved for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammation-related diseases, which should facilitate their use in cancer," says study author Hasan Korkaya, Ph.D., assistant professor at the Georgia Regents University Cancer Center.

More laboratory testing is needed before a clinical trial can begin. The researchers also suspect that this pathway may apply to other cancers as well and are investigating that further.



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TAK-875, a new treatment for type 2 diabetes, improves blood sugar control and is equally effective as glimepiride, but has a significantly lower risk of creating a dangerous drop in blood sugar, called hypoglycemia, according to a new study.

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Taubman Institute leaders make the case for more doctor-scientist funding


The prestigious "Academic Medicine" journal has just published a new article authored by Taubman Institute senior management and Detroit-area attorney Scott Roberts.

The article explores the problematic gap between bench research and clinical application of new treatments or cures. 

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