Asthma and the Personalized Medicine Revolution

Harvard Researcher to Present Inaugural Joseph V Scaletti ‘Catalyst’ Lecture at UNM School of Medicine

Albuquerque, New Mexico, April 13, 2011 – Harvard Medical School faculty member and Brigham & Women’s hospital physician Dr. Kelan Tantisira will be at the University of New Mexico Wednesday April 13, 2011 to present the inaugural lecture in the annual Joseph V. Scaletti Memorial ‘Catalyst’ Lecture series:”The Pharmacogenetics of Asthma: Progress toward Personalized Medicine”. An introductory tribute to Dr Joseph V. Scaletti, one the founders of UNM’s School of Medicine, will be presented by Philip Eaton, MD, Emeritus Executive Vice President for Health Sciences.

Treating the Patient, not the Disease

In a traditional medical education, students have been taught in terms of the average person and the classic case.  But in the real world, there is no such patient. Each case is unique because each person’s genome is unique.

Most of us have had some experience with the fact that drugs can affect different people in different ways.  Pharmacogenetics, the study of how an individual’s genetic makeup can impact the effectiveness of a particular drug treatment, promises to revolutionize the practice of medicine by making it possible to tailor the treatment of a disease to each individual patient. This is what Dr. Tantisira calls “the Personalized Medicine Revolution”.

Asthma, drug therapy, and genetics

Asthma affects 300 million individuals worldwide, a number that is expected to grow to 400 million by 2025. Asthma is primarily a children’s disease, the majority of sufferers being under 17 years of age. In the US alone, about $20 billion is spent each year treating asthma, with about 40% of that amount going toward drug therapies. Yet, despite the $8 billion a year that Americans spend on asthma drugs, only about 60% of patients respond to those drugs.

If we could know in advance, through genetic testing, which asthma drugs are likely to work best for each patient, it could save time and resources, avoid unnecessary side-effects, and point the way toward understanding the causes of asthma and developing more effective drugs and other therapies in the future.

(http://www.futuremedicine.com/doi/full/10.2217/14622416.9.7.805)

Dr. Tantisira’s research focuses on how specific variations in a patient’s genome are associated with how well that patient will respond to commonly used asthma drug treatments (bronchodilators, inhaled corticosteroid (ICS), and leukotriene modifiers.)  These genetic variations may also point the way to understanding the underlying causes of asthma and developing new treatments for this disease in the future.

Translational Medicine

Dr. Tantisira’s lecture is being hosted by the Clinical & Translational Science Center (CTSC) at UNM, part of a new nationwide initiative to speed up the transfer of discoveries from basic biomedical research directly to those who are caring for patients, resulting in immediate improvements in health outcomes.

Before scientific research can improve human health, research results must be translated from the lab bench to the patient’s bedside.  This so-called bench-to-bedside transition requires two-way communication.  Basic biomedical researchers can provide clinicians with new tools for fighting disease, and clinicians provide feedback and novel observations on the progression of disease that can guide the researchers’ basic investigations.  One of the goals of the CTSC is to facilitate this two-way conversation and speed of the flow of information in both directions to improve the quality of health care.

http://commonfund.nih.gov/clinicalresearch/overview-translational.aspx

An individual like Kelan Tantisira, who is both a practicing physician and a basic researcher, embodies both roles and can serve as a role model for students at the University of New Mexico who are being trained to practice the medicine and basic biomedical research of the future.

http://pulmonaryfellowship.hms.harvard.edu/NewFiles/Staff/FacultyTantisira.html

The Dr. Joseph V. Scaletti Memorial ‘Catalyst Lectures’

Described as “a Public Forum for Envisioning the Future of Biomedical Research, and Innovative Models for Healthcare Education and Delivery” the annual Joseph V. Scaletti Catalyst Lecture features an individual, institution, or idea responsible for accelerating the rate of positive change and forward progress in the areas of biomedical research, healthcare education, or healthcare delivery.

These lectures are presented in honor of the late Dr Joseph V. Scaletti, PhD, one of the founders of the University of New Mexico School of Medicine; UNM’s first Vice President for Research; creator of the Allied Health Sciences program; organizer of the first Rural Health Interdisciplinary Program; chair of the first legislative committee on distance education and telehealth; co-founder of Project ECHO which uses telemedicine to treat chronic diseases in rural New Mexico; educator, mentor, and researcher.

Details and contact information

Wednesday, April 13, 2011
12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Domenici Center Auditorium (http://bit.ly/eUGMG9)
University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center

The Dr. Joseph V. Scaletti Memorial ‘Catalyst Lectures’

A Public Forum for Envisioning the Future of Biomedical Research, and Innovative Models for Healthcare Education and Delivery

Each year, the Joseph V. Scaletti Catalyst Lecture features an individual, institution, or idea responsible for accelerating the rate of positive change and forward progress in the areas of biomedical research, healthcare education, or healthcare delivery.

Hosted by the UNM HSC Clinical & Translational Science Center (CTSC), these lectures are presented in honor of Dr Joseph V. Scaletti, PhD, one of the founders of the University of New Mexico School of Medicine; UNM’s first Vice President for Research; creator of the Allied Health Sciences program; organizer of the first Rural Health Interdisciplinary Program; chair of the first legislative committee on distance education and telehealth; co-founder of Project ECHO; educator, mentor, and researcher.

Dr Scaletti’s talent for bringing together individuals and institutions and inspiring new initiatives and collaborations prompted some of his colleagues to describe him as a catalyst (to which he would reply with a smile, “I prefer to think of myself as an enzyme.”)

Dr Scaletti dedicated his 50+ year career to basic biomedical research and to envisioning and implementing innovative models for university-community collaboration and the education of healthcare professionals who would serve in and care for the residents of New Mexico. His work exemplifies the combined values of basic scientific research, human compassion, life-long learning, and service to the community. In the words of his colleague and self-professed “product of Joe Scaletti’s mentoring”, L. Clark Hansbarger, MD:

Joe Scaletti was one of those very rare individuals who had a proactive approach to every element of health education resulting in a constant dedication to a vision for the future. Whether it was a test tube, a computer, a curriculum or facility, he had a vision for its application tomorrow and set to work to do it today. And although he had amazing instincts, it was his dedication to data, organizational planning, mentoring and sharing of information that made him a successful “futurist”.

Goals:

To provide a forum for School of Medicine faculty, students, administrators, community members, and invited speakers to envision the future, to engage in discussions, to question the status quo, and to create new initiatives for solving the most pressing challenges in biomedical research, healthcare and healthcare education;

To assist the School of Medicine in inviting dynamic, challenging, enthusiastic individuals to the campus who may act as a spark or impetus to trigger new ideas and inspire further ongoing interactions and collaboration;

To ensure that, even in difficult economic times, the faculty and students of the School of Medicine will always have an opportunity to reflect on the larger issues, to think creatively about the future, to refresh their spirits and renew their idealism;

To further increase the visibility of the School of Medicine in the community at large (both in New Mexico and beyond), to further encourage community confidence and enthusiasm for the School of Medicine and its teaching hospital as a center where gifted expert healthcare professionals are inventing the future of medicine;

To honor the memory and ideas of Joseph V. Scaletti and to promote the values that he worked to advance throughout his life.

Selection

Each year, the School of Medicine at the University of New Mexico invites a lecturer at the forefront of biomedical research and/or alternative approaches to education in the health sciences (where ‘education’ is defined as a lifelong pursuit, including but not limited to the years of formal education at the university or professional school) or health care delivery.

The approach could include innovative training or curricula; it could also include new models for post-graduate continuing education or more efficient models for healthcare delivery, such as the ECHO model. Or it could introduce a new result from basic biomedical research or a new technological breakthrough that has the potential to completely change the way healthcare is delivered in the future. It should be an approach that challenges the status quo but which is already producing promising results supported by measurable outcomes.

The goal is to, once a year, bring in a speaker who has ideas that, even if not universally accepted, will stimulate discussions and encourage students, faculty and administrators to brainstorm about alternative solutions to the most pressing problems of the time.

The visiting lecturer will present a free, open to the public, lecture on the Health Sciences Campus with community participation and visitors from other New Mexico communities and campuses strongly encouraged.

Each year the lecture will include a brief introduction describing Joseph Scaletti’s career-long ideals and the goals for these lectures.

The visitor is also invited to interact with smaller groups of UNM School of Medicine students, administrators, visitors from other campuses and health facilities, and faculty (possibilities include research seminar, grand rounds, one-on-one meetings with students or student groups, assisting clinical faculty, meeting with administrators.

The Lectures:

Contribute to the lecture fund

Awards

The Regents of the University of New Mexico and the Dean of the School of Medicine had both planned to present recognition awards to Joseph Scaletti in the spring and fall of 2010, respectively. After the accident that caused his death in March 2010, both parties chose to go forward with their plans to recognize his work, and they presented the awards to his family in his memory:

The University of New Mexico Board of Regents Meritorious Service Award 2010

The University of New Mexico School of Medicine Legacy Award

After his death, Joseph Scaletti was also honored for his support of Casa Esperanza (a home away from home for cancer patients and their families), by being named an Amigo de Casa:

For his contributions to Polio eradication and for spearheading a Hepatitis C Awareness campaign, Joseph Scaletti was named a Legend of Rotary by the Albuquerque Rotary Club:

Memorial Service Photos & Videos

JVS_Memorial_1For photographs and video clips from the May 8, 2010 memorial service and reception honoring Joseph V. Scaletti, please visit the new Memorial page.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad!

Memorial Service for Joseph V Scaletti

Please  join us in remembering and honoring Joseph V. Scaletti at a memorial service on Saturday May 8, 2010 at 5 pm in the Domenici Center Auditorium on the UNM HSC campus, hosted by HSC Vice President Paul Roth and Director of Development Sherry E Wilson.  A reception will immediately follow next door.

Please feel free to share this information with others who may be interested.

Domenici Center Auditorium
DCA Room 1220
2500 Marble Ave NE
Albuquerque NM 87106

Domenici Center is on the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Campus, North of the Health Sciences Library & Informatics Center

Here is a map.

Driving Directions:

If you are on Lomas Blvd, Turn north onto Yale, then Turn right (east, toward the mountains) onto Tucker Ave, Park in Lot M