News & Events

New U-M president visits Taubman Institute

The Feldman Lab at the Taubman Institute hosted a fellow clinician-scientist on Aug. 22 when the University of Michigan’s new president paid a visit to the A. Alfred Taubman Biomedical Science Research Building.

Mark Schlissel, M.D., Ph.D., is a physician and renowned biomedical researcher whose focus is n the developmental biology of the immune system. He became the University of Michigan’s 14th President on July 1, succeeding Mary Sue Coleman, Ph.D., who retired after 12 years of leading the university.

Dr. Schlissel, accompanied by U-M Medical School Dean James Wolliscroft, met with Taubman Institute Director Eva Feldman, M.D., Ph.D. for an   introduction to the work her lab is doing in regenerative medicine, including stem cell therapies for ALS, and in the fields of diabetes and neuropathy. During the tour he exchanged questions and answers with a number of research fellows and scientists.

Prior to joining the University of Michigan, Dr. Schlissel was provost at Brown University. Before moving to Brown in 2011, Dr. Schlissel was University of California at Berkeley’s Dean of Biological Sciences in the College of Letters & Science and held the C.H. Li Chair in Biochemistry.

He earned his undergraduate degree at Princeton University and earned both his M.D. and Ph.D. degrees at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He performed his residency in internal medicine at The Johns Hopkins Hospital and was a postdoctoral research fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research.

Dr. Schlissel will be formally inaugurated on Sept. 5; related events will include a symposium on the topic “Sustaining the Biomedical Research Enterprise."  Click here for the schedule of public events

Taubman Institute 7th annual symposium set for Oct. 10

The A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute will award the 2014 $100,000 Taubman Prize for Excellence in Translational Medical Science at its 7th annual symposium at 10 a.m. on Oct. 10.

Dr. Carl June, a physician-scientist who developed a personalized immunotherapy for leukemia using patients’ own T cells, will receive the honor and deliver the symposium's keynote address.

The treatment he designed is credited as the first successful and sustained demonstration of the use of gene transfer therapy to turn the body’s own immune cells into weapons aimed at cancerous tumors.

The research is considered a landmark breakthrough in treating blood cancers that have stopped responding to conventional therapies, or for patients who are not candidates for bone marrow transplants, which carry a high mortality risk.

The symposium also will feature presentations by Taubman Scholars including:

John Carethers, M.D., John G. Searle Professor and Chair, Department of Internal Medicine

       

 

Kathleen Collins, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Internal Medicine

          

                       

Pavan Reddy. M.D., Moshe Talpaz Professor of Translational Oncology

        

 

The lecutres will be preceded by a scientific poster session and coffee hour.  All events will take place in the A. Alfred Taubman Biomedical Science Research Building in Ann Arbor. 

No registration is required.  

Taubman Institute welcomes new gift officer

The Taubman Institute has a new ally in its quest to support the lifesaving work of U-M’s most promising clinician-scientists.

Maria Muller has been assigned by the university’s office of medical development to serve as the Taubman Institute’s lead development officer.  She’ll be working with benefactors and prospective supporters to create giving opportunities that fulfill the aims of donors while underwriting important institute efforts such as the Emerging Scholars Program. 

Muller brings a robust background in higher education fundraising.  A native of Ohio, she began her development career at Harvard University, shepherding major gifts for Harvard’s business and public health schools, the Kennedy School of Government and the fundraising activities of the university president’s office among others. 

Returning to her Midwestern roots, Muller served as a major gifts officer for the U-M College of Engineering, working with alumni and individual supporters, facilitating corporate support of scholarships, internships and other initiatives.  But the special rewards and challenges of engaging support for medical research really appeal to her, she says.

“People want to be actively engaged, and at the Taubman Institute we have very special opportunities for that,” Muller said.  “There is a way to help our donors be part of the dynamic conversation about healthcare, and to experience the transformative power of individual philanthropy -- right here where we are aggressively working to save people.  For a development officer, that’s rarefied air.”

“We are delighted, and very fortunate, to have Maria as our colleague and champion,” said Taubman Institute Director Eva L. Feldman, M.D., Ph.D.  “The scholars and I, along with Mr. Taubman, are very impressed by her acumen, energy and enthusiasm.  I know our generous supporters will greatly enjoy working with her.”

You can reach Maria Muller at (734) 763-6249 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Diabetic neuropathy will be the focus of August 6 Visiting Professor Lecture

Two eminent neurologists will visit Ann Arbor on August 6 to present their latest research findings at a Visiting Professor Lecture hosted by the A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute at the University of Michigan.

Amanda Peltier, M.D., a clinician-scientists and assistant professor of neurology at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, is an authority in the field of diabetic neuropathy.  Her research focuses on developing means to diagnose neuropathy at earlier stages where it may be treatable. 

Dr. Peltier completed her residency in neurology in 2002, and her M.S. in clinical research design in 2005.She has been awarded the Samuel J. Roessler Memorial Medical Scholarship, and has been recognized by the Landacre Society, College of Medicine Research Honorary Society. She has also received the IFCN Young Investigator Fellowship Award.

Dr. Peltier has been awarded the Samuel J. Roessler Memorial Medical Scholarship, and has been recognized by the Landacre Society, College of Medicine Research Honorary Society. She has also received the IFCN Young Investigator Fellowship Award.

Troels Staehelin Jensen, M.D., DMSc, of the Aarhus University in Denmark, is a renowned expert in the neurophysiology of pain.  As a clinician-scientist, he has extensively studied the neuropathology of pain and is the author of more than 300 scientific papers.  He is chair of the Aarhus University Hospital Department of Neurology, a founder of the Danish Pain Research Center, has held numerous academic posts and is a past president of the International Association for the Study of Pain.

Dr. Peltier will speak about "Diabetic neuropathy: A tale of two diseases" at 9:30 a.m. on August 6.  Dr. Jensen will present his lecture, "Mechanisms and evidence based treatment of neuropathic pain" at 10:30 a.m.

Both talks will take place in the Danto Auditorium of the U-M Cardiovascular Center.  No registration is required; all are welcome to attend.

Click here for directions and parking information for the Danto Auditorium.

Leukemia researcher Carl June, M.D. awarded 2014 Taubman Prize

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — A physician-scientist who developed a personalized immunotherapy for leukemia using patients’ own T cells is the recipient of the 2014 Taubman Prize for Excellence in Translational Medical Science, awarded by the A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute at the University of Michigan Medical School.

Carl June, M.D. of the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania will receive the $100,000 prize in recognition of the treatment he designed that is credited as the first successful and sustained demonstration of the use of gene transfer therapy to turn the body’s own immune cells into weapons aimed at cancerous tumors.

The research is considered a landmark breakthrough in treating blood cancers that have stopped responding to conventional therapies, or for patients who are not candidates for bone marrow transplants, which carry a high mortality risk.

 “Dr. June’s visionary approach has transformed the scientific approach to these cancers and brought hope to patients who had little or none,” said Eva Feldman, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Taubman Institute. “We are honored to recognize his extraordinary contributions by awarding him the Taubman Prize.”

June was selected by a national panel of eminent medical science experts from among dozens of nominees for the Taubman Prize. His groundbreaking work has demonstrated that T cells, modified in the lab to carry an antibody-like protein called a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR), can be infused back into a patient’s bloodstream, where the new “hunter” cells seek and attack the cancer cells. These special T cells also include a signaling domain that help them replicate, which enlarges the “army” of cells available to fight the cancer.

The results of the first three patients to be part of a clinical trial of this immunotherapy were published in 2011. Updated results on the first 59 trial patients presented in December 2013 found that about half of patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia responded to the therapy, and nearly 90 percent of patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia – including both children and adults – went into remission after receiving the therapy.

June, the Richard W. Vague Professor in Immunotherapy in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine in the Perelman School of Medicine, will present the keynote address at the Taubman Institute’s annual symposium on Oct. 10, 2014, at the Kahn Auditorium on the University of Michigan’s Ann Arbor campus. The symposium is open to the general public.

Mr. A. Alfred Taubman, founder and chair of the Taubman Institute, will present the prize.

“Translating medical research into actual treatments and cures is the work that the Taubman Institute was created to promote and reward,” said Taubman. “There is no finer example today than what Dr. June has done for leukemia patients, and we are delighted to recognize his amazing accomplishments.”

The Taubman Prize was established in 2012 to recognize outstanding translational medical research beyond the University of Michigan. It includes a $100,000 award and is presented each year to the non-U-M clinician-scientist who has done the most to transform laboratory discoveries into clinical applications for patients suffering from disease.

Previous recipients are:

2013: Brian Druker, M.D. of the Oregon Health & Science University and Charles Sawyers, M.D. of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, for their discoveries related to chronic myeloid leukemia.

2012: Hal Dietz, M.D., of Johns Hopkins University for his discoveries related to connective tissue disease.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

About Carl June, M.D.: Carl H. June is the Richard W. Vague Professor in Immunotherapy in the department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine in the Perelman School of Medicine, and director of Translational Research in the Abramson Cancer Center. His laboratory studies various mechanisms of lymphocyte activation relating to immune tolerance and adoptive immunotherapy.

June is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and Baylor College of Medicine. He completed graduate training in immunology and malaria at the World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland, and post-doctoral training in transplantation biology at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

June has received numerous awards and grants for his innovative work, including a Bristol-Myers Squibb Company Freedom to Discover Research Grant; the William B. Coley Award from the Cancer Research Institute; the Ernest Beutler Prize from the American Society of Hematology; a Clinical Research Forum Top 10 Clinical Research Achievement Award; and The Joan Miller and Linda Bernstein Gene Therapy Ovarian Cancer Award from the Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy; and the Philadelphia Award.

 

About the A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute: In 2008 Michigan businessman, philanthropist and noted patron of the arts A. Alfred Taubman provided the initial funds to establish the institute bearing his name at the University of Michigan Medical School. Its mission is to provide the university’s finest medical scientists the freedom, resources and collaborative environment they need to push the boundaries of medical discovery, to produce breakthroughs in cures to speed the development of effective treatment for some of the most devastating illnesses. Currently, 30 Taubman Scholars are advancing their research with the assistance of grants from the institute.

 

“Translating 

Evening of Art + Science a rousing success!

On a glorious spring evening in Detroit, the worlds of medical research and artistic endeavor met at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD) to showcase the results of a unique collaboration between Taubman Institute scientists and some of today's most bold and talented artists.

Dozens of art enthusiasts and supporters of medical science turned out to meet, mingle, dine and to admire the amazing creations which were auctioned to benefit the medical research supported by the institute.

Camaraderie, cuisine, creativity and cocktails reigned throughout this delightful event. 
And the proceeds will allow us to expand the ranks of our innovative Taubman Emerging Scholars Program, which ensures the next generation of extraordinary young clinician-scientists won’t be lost to research for lack of funding.

Our deepest thanks to everyone who participated, contributed, created and partied to help make the Evening of Art + Science a wonderfully successful project.

Together, we are making a difference.

Taubman Institute appoints new class of Taubman Scholars

Ann Arbor ­– Six clinician-scientists at the University of Michigan have been appointed to the 2014-2017 class of Taubman Scholars, the A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute announced.

The six physicians, each of whom is both a practicing doctor and research scientist, are senior members of the U-M Medical School faculty and world leaders in their respective fields of investigation. Each will receive an unrestricted grant of $150,000 per year for three years, to be used to pursue high-risk, high-reward translational medical science.

The grants are effective July 1.

“We are delighted to welcome these distinguished new members to the ranks of Taubman Scholars,” said Eva Feldman, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Taubman Institute. “They are extraordinarily gifted researchers whose ideas and discoveries represent our best hope for solutions to challenging medical problems.”

The aim of the Taubman Scholar grants is to speed new cures and treatments to patients suffering from life-altering conditions such as cancer, stroke and heart disease, diabetes and other metabolic disorders, and neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and ALS.

The Taubman Scholar grants encourage bold, innovative research that conventional conservative sources of funding shy away from, and the results have been transformative leaps forward in the understanding and treatment of diseases. Since the institute’s establishment in 2008, Taubman Scholars have initiated more than 50 human clinical trials of new therapies for a wide variety of conditions.

The new class of Taubman Scholars brings to 30 the number of talented U-M clinician-scientists whose medical discoveries benefit from the institute’s innovative grant programs. These eminent physician-researchers are conducting ground-breaking research and establishing new paradigms of discovery in fields ranging from regenerative medicine to deep-brain stimulation to cancer stem cells.

“In just six short years the Taubman Scholars have made significant progress toward treating and ultimately curing many of our most devastating diseases,” said A. Alfred Taubman, founder and chair of the Institute. “I welcome this impressive class of new scholars and look forward to their contributions.” 

Six scholars from the class of 2011-2014 will complete their terms as Taubman Scholars this year and have been approved by the institute’s Governing Council to move to Senior Taubman Scholar status, which will continue their grants at a lesser amount. Current Senior Taubman Scholars will become Founding Taubman Scholars and continue to advise the institute’s members and Governing Council.

The new class of Taubman Scholars and their research fields are:

 

 

•         John Carethers, M.D., John G. Searle Professor and Chair, Department of Internal Medicine

 

            The role of inflammation in colon cancer

 

•         Kathleen Collins, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Internal Medicine

            Improving therapies for HIV

 

 

•         Sharlene Day, M.D., Associate Professor, Internal Medicine

 

          Understanding the disease mechanisms of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy

 

                       

•         Pavan Reddy. M.D., Moshe Talpaz Professor of Translational Oncology

            To understand and harness the role of inflammation in mitigating the graft-versus-host disease after bone-marrow transplant.

 

 •       Benjamin Segal, M.D., Holtom-Garrett Professor of Neurology; Director, University of       Michigan Multiple Sclerosis Center; Director, Holtom-Garrett Program in Neuroimmunology    

        The immunopathology of multiple sclerosis

 

•         Jon-Kar Zubieta, M.D., Ph.D., Phil F. Jenkins Research Professor of Depression; Professor of Psychiatry and Radiology

        Mechanisms that promote recovery from Major Depression and chronic neuropsychiatric   disorders

 

About the Taubman Institute: In 2008 Michigan businessman, philanthropist and noted patron of the arts A. Alfred Taubman provided the initial funds to establish the institute bearing his name at the University of Michigan Medical School. Its mission is to provide the university’s finest medical scientists the freedom, resources and collaborative environment they need to push the boundaries of medical discovery, to produce breakthroughs in cures to speed the development of effective treatment for some of the most devastating illnesses. Currently, 30 Taubman Scholars are advancing their research with the assistance of grants from the institute. For more information, visit www.taubmaninstitute.org.

 

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

 

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