University of Illinois, Chicago: News

University of Illinois, Chicago: News

  • 11/12/ (Sam Hostettler) writer (Sam Hostettler) by (Sam Hostettler) published by (Sam Hostettler)
    Nicholas Popovich, professor and head of pharmacy administration at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy, was named "Pharmacist of the Year" by the Illinois Pharmacists Association.

    The award, initiated in 1950, is the association's oldest continuing honor. Popovich was presented with the award at the organization’s recent annual conference.

    Popovich says he knew as a teenager the career path he wanted to follow after he and his parents attended an open house at a Chicago pharmacy. The field incorporated two of his passions -- science, and helping people.

    He earned his baccalaureate in pharmacy from UIC, as well as master of science and Ph.D. degrees. One of his mentors in the UIC College of Pharmacy, Daniel Nona, encouraged him to pursue an academic career. Even after almost 40 years, Popovich says he has not lost his passion for teaching pharmacy students.

    “Teachers touch eternity,” he said. “They never know where their inspiration ends. I revere my opportunity to be an educator and influence those who I instruct and guide.”

    Popovich spent nearly 28 years on the faculty of the Purdue University School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences before returning to UIC in 2002. He has been recognized often for his service to the field. He served as president and chairman of the board of directors of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy and received five Rufus A. Lyman Awards for the outstanding annual research article published in the American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education. In 1997, he received the Distinguished Educator Award from the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy.

    At Purdue, Popovich received five undergraduate teaching awards within the college and the university-wide Amoco Foundation Undergraduate Teaching Award. He was inducted as a Founding Fellow in Purdue’s Teaching Academy in 1997.

    At UIC, Popovich received the UIC College of Pharmacy’s Urban Health Program Distinguished Faculty Award in 2005. Two years later, he was the recipient of the American Pharmacist Association Gloria Niemeyer Francke Leadership Mentor Award.

    Popovich said he was grateful for his latest honor while adding that he could not do it without the support of staff and colleagues.

    “I share this award with those pharmacists who dedicate themselves every day to patient care,” he said. “They are my true heroes and true pharmacists of the year.”

    UIC ranks among the nation's leading research universities and is Chicago's largest university with 27,500 students, 12,000 faculty and staff, 15 colleges and the state's major public medical center. A hallmark of the campus is the Great Cities Commitment, through which UIC faculty, students and staff engage with community, corporate, foundation and government partners in hundreds of programs to improve the quality of life in metropolitan areas around the world. For more information about UIC, please visit
  • 11/8/ (Jeanne Galatzer-Levy) writer (Jeanne Galatzer-Levy) by (Jeanne Galatzer-Levy) published by (Jeanne Galatzer-Levy)
    Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine have developed a transgenic mouse that carries a human gene known to increase risk of Alzheimer's 15-fold. This new mouse mimics the genetics of the human disease more closely than any of the dozen existing mouse models and may prove more useful in the development of candidate drugs to prevent or treat the disease.

    The new mouse model provides new evidence for the earliest cause of Alzheimer's, researchers report in a study to be published in the December issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry and now available online.

    The model is a cross between an existing transgenic Alzheimer's mouse and a mouse carrying fully human apoE, a gene that in one of its three variants, apoE4, is the greatest genetic risk factor for Alzheimer's in the human population.

    UIC biochemist Mary Jo LaDu says amyloid-beta, a peptide, or small protein, is known to underlie the disease and is a key component of the plaques observed in the brains of deceased Alzheimer's patients at autopsy. But in addition to clumping to form those large, visible plaques, the sticky molecule is also found in smaller, soluble aggregates called oligomers -- which may be the actual culprit.

    “Though for a long time it was thought that amyloid plaques might cause the nerve death seen in Alzheimer's, researchers now believe that the neurotoxicity may lie in the smaller, soluble, oligomeric forms," said LaDu, who is associate professor of anatomy and cell biology at the UIC College of Medicine and principal investigator of the study.

    But the researchers still faced a hurdle before they could test their hypothesis about the role of oligomeric amyloid-beta, said one of her UIC coworkers.

    "There are few methods for detecting the different aggregate forms of amyloid-beta," said Leon Tai, a research assistant professor working with LaDu. So, he said, the team developed a highly specific monoclonal antibody, which enabled them to assay only the specific oligomeric form of amyloid-beta.

    This new monoclonal antibody, along with the new mouse model, "allowed us to identify the earliest accumulations of amyloid-beta and the differences related to the different forms of apoE," said LaDu.

    The results were definitive: transgenic mice with apoE4 show an increase in the oligomeric form of amyloid-beta compared to mice carrying the other, more benign versions of apoE, providing a mechanism for apoE-induced Alzheimer’s risk. Thus, previous transgenic mice lacking this interaction were poor models, say the researchers.

    In addition, if oligomeric amyloid-beta is the cause of the disease, then it is also the earliest disease marker. Thus, the new model offers a clear picture of therapeutic effects on the cause of the disease not possible with the methods and models currently available.

    “More than just an Alzheimer’s risk factor, patients with apoE4 often respond differently to therapeutics in clinical trials, in many cases negatively,” said Tai, whose background includes drug discovery. “However, preclinical compound testing in transgenic mouse models that express human apoE has not been possible until now.”

    "A pre-clinical model for testing these compounds has been badly needed, so we don't find ourselves in clinical trials with therapeutics that fail," said LaDu. She has begun collaborations with other researchers at UIC and worldwide to focus on drug discovery.

    "We are actively working to test and develop novel compounds that we believe will benefit all Alzheimer's patients," she said.

    The research was funded by an Alzheimer's Association Zenith Fellowship grant, a UIC Center for Clinical and Translational Science Pilot Award, and National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Aging Program Project Grant NIH/NIA PO1AG030128.

    Katherine Youmans, former UIC graduate student and now a postdoctoral researcher at Boston University, is first author of the paper. In addition to Youmans, Tai and LaDu, other authors are Evelyn Nwabuisi-Heath, Lisa Jungbauer and Chunjiang Yu from UIC; Takahisa Kanekiyo, Ming Gan and Guojun Bu of the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla.; Jungsu Kim of Washington University School of Medicine; William Eimer of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine; G. William Rebeck of Georgetown University and Edwin Weeber of the University of South Florida.

    [Editors note: images available at]
  • 11/5/ (Jeanne Galatzer-Levy) writer (Jeanne Galatzer-Levy) by (Jeanne Galatzer-Levy) published by (Jeanne Galatzer-Levy)
    Hispanics and Latinos living in the U.S. are highly likely to have several major cardiovascular disease risk factors, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and smoking, according to a new, large-scale study. Risks vary among the diverse Hispanic/Latino groups, but individuals who were born in the U.S. are more likely to have multiple risk factors.

    The findings are reported in the Nov. 7 issue of JAMA.

    Hispanic and Latino people now comprise the largest minority group in the U.S. Although this population is relatively young, cardiovascular diseases are already their leading cause of death -- and the group is at high risk of future cardiovascular disease as it becomes older.

    The data came from 15,079 Hispanic/Latino men and women who participated in the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos (HCHS/SOL).

    "We found that U.S. Hispanic/Latino prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors had been underestimated," says Martha Daviglus, director of the Institute for Minority Health Research at the University of Illinois at Chicago and first author of the JAMA report.

    A "very large" proportion of study participants -- 80 percent of men and 71 percent of women -- were found to have at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease, said Daviglus, who is principal investigator of the Chicago HCHS/SOL Field Center.

    Prevalence of three or more risk factors was highest among those of Puerto Rican background, and significantly higher among those with less education, those who were born in the U.S., those who lived in the U.S. for at least 10 years, and those whose preferred language was English rather than Spanish.

    “It is important to understand the distribution of risk factors in this relatively young population,” Daviglus said, "because this is our opportunity to educate the community and prevent cardiovascular disease that could be devastating to this population as they age."

    The HCHS/SOL included men and women between the ages of 18 and 74 of Cuban, Dominican, Mexican, Puerto Rican, and Central and South American backgrounds. The study was designed to investigate the prevalence of risk factors for cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases and to determine the incidence and death rates from those diseases among Hispanics/Latinos in the U.S.

    Participants were recruited and examined between March 2008 and June 2011 in four field centers affiliated with San Diego State University and the University of California, San Diego; Northwestern University and the University of Illinois at Chicago; Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York; and the University of Miami. Dr. Gregory A. Talavera from San Diego State University, principal investigator of the San Diego Field Center, was co-first author of the report.

    HCHS/SOL was sponsored by contracts from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and six other institutes, centers, and offices of the National Institutes of Health.

    For more information about UIC, visit
  • 11/2/ (Bill Burton) writer (Bill Burton) by (Bill Burton) published by (Bill Burton)
    More than 100 UIC students of all political persuasions will gather Tuesday night for an Election Results Party to watch live-streaming election returns and play political trivia games. This unique event is new to the UIC campus and free to UIC students.

    Tuesday, Nov. 6
    7 – 11 p.m.

    UIC Student Center West
    828 S. Wolcott Ave.
    Second floor, Thompson Room A

    The Election Results Party will feature food and political knowledge games with opportunities to win politically themed prizes and UIC gear. As this historic night unfolds on the live stream, some students may be happier than others.

    Students who show an “I voted today” sticker will have an additional chance to win a prize.

    The event is sponsored by UIC Campus Programs, Campus Housing, the political science department, Undergraduate Student Government, and the Commuter Student Resource Center.
  • 10/25/ (Sam Hostettler) writer (Sam Hostettler) by (Sam Hostettler) published by (Sam Hostettler)
    Diana Wilkie, professor and Harriet H. Werley Endowed Chair for Nursing Research at the University of Illinois at Chicago, has been elected a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.

    Wilkie is a renowned researcher whose work focuses on end-of-life, palliative care, and informatics research with an emphasis on sickle cell disease, cancer and other conditions. Among her many achievements is establishing the first National Institutes of Health-funded Center for Excellence for End-of-Life Transition Research, which has a special focus on reducing health disparities in dying infants, children, adults and older adults.

    “Diana is a visionary and extraordinary scientist,” says Terri Weaver, dean of the UIC College of Nursing. “Her impressive and prodigious scholarship and research programs have been a tremendous asset to raising the profile of, and building on, the research capacity of our college, as well as the university. She is most deserving of this honor.”

    Wilkie is one of 70 new members and 10 new foreign associates elected to the IOM. New members are elected by current active members through a selective process that recognizes individuals who have made major contributions to the advancement of the medical sciences, health care and public health. The new members raise the institute's total active membership to 1,732 and the number of foreign associates to 112. An additional 84 members hold emeritus status.

    Wilkie said she was excited to learn she was elected to the institute, as “there are not a lot of nurses who are members.”

    “I’m happy to represent the profession,” she said. “The Institute of Medicine influences the direction of health care in the U.S., and this gives UIC one more voice in making a difference.”

    UIC Chancellor Paula Allen-Meares was elected to the IOM in 2004, and Dr. Joe G. N. “Skip” Garcia, University of Illinois vice president for health affairs, was elected in 2011.

    During her career, Wilkie has amassed more than $30 million in grant funding for research. Her work has been continuously funded for 26 years, with support from a variety of sources including four of the National Institutes of Health: the National Cancer Institute, National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, National Institute of Mental Health and National Institute of Nursing Research.

    Wilkie has used technology to create innovative applications for clinical decision-making and clinician education. She and her colleagues developed PAINRelieveIt, a computer application that integrates guidance for clinical decisions for pain management based on evidence-based practices and multimedia education for the patient. The program is tailored to the patient’s misconceptions about pain management.

    With funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Wilkie and her colleagues developed an innovative tool for evidence-based palliative care education. The Toolkit for Nurturing Excellence at End of Life Transition, or TNEEL, is now used widely throughout the world.

    Wilkie joined the UIC nursing faculty in 2003. She received an associate degree in nursing from the University of Hawaii; a bachelor’s of science degree in nursing from Mesa College; and master’s of science and doctor of philosophy degrees in nursing from the University of California, San Francisco.

    The IOM is the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences, which was chartered under Abraham Lincoln in 1863. Since 1970, the institute has served as an independent, non-profit organization outside of government to provide unbiased and authoritative advice to decision-makers and the public.

    UIC ranks among the nation's leading research universities and is Chicago's largest university with 27,500 students, 12,000 faculty and staff, 15 colleges and the state's major public medical center. A hallmark of the campus is the Great Cities Commitment, through which UIC faculty, students and staff engage with community, corporate, foundation and government partners in hundreds of programs to improve the quality of life in metropolitan areas around the world.For more information about UIC, please visit