Monthly archives: May, 2016

The Chicago Bilingual Nurse Consortium


The Chicago Bilingual Nurse Consortium at its annual event and fundraiser on May 12th. The agency helps internationally educated nurses obtain their licensure in the United States.

The Chicago Bilingual Nurse Consortium (CBNC) celebrated International Nurses’ Day with their annual event and fundraiser on May 12th.

CBNC  is a local nonprofit group that assists Internationally Educated Nurses (IEN’s) to complete the requirements for Registered Nurse licensure in the United States.

Five newly licensed nurses who benefited through CBNC were honored during the celebration.  They are: Valentina Figueroa -Chile, Mirjana Ivkov -Serbia, Tatyana Kovalevsky -Ukraine, Karen McShane -Chile and Mengyuan (Summer) Wang -China.  Congratulations to these exceptional RN’s who are delivering culturally sensitive care to patients throughout Chicago.

CBNC sends a special “thank you” to all of our benefactors for their generosity.  We also thank our area businesses that donated in many ways.   Especially a big round of applause to the CBNC Platinum Sponsor Dave Samber of Polo Café and Catering who made this an outstanding event. It was a wonderful evening and CBNC looks forward to next year!

Rugby Ready To Rumble

Medicare To Cover stem cell transplantation for sickle cell disease

Medicar story graphicThe Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services recently ruled that they will pay most medical costs for clinical trials that use stem cell transplantation to treat sickle cell disease, multiple myeloma and myelofibrosis for people covered by Medicare. The expanded coverage will begin this summer.

The decision puts a new potential cure for sickle cell disease within reach of more adult patients at the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System through an ongoing clinical trial.

The new technique, pioneered by clinicians at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, and offered only at the NIH and UI Health, eliminates the need for chemotherapy to prepare a patient to receive healthy stem cells from a donor.

Children have been cured of sickle cell disease using bone marrow stem cell transplants for many years. Their young bodies are able to handle the chemotherapy. In adults, such cures have not been possible, because the preparative chemotherapy is too dangerous.

In the new procedure, patients receive immunosuppressive drugs just before the transplant, along with a very low dose of total body irradiation – a treatment much safer than chemotherapy. Donor cells from a tissue-matched healthy sibling are then transfused into the patient. Stem cells from the donor soon produce new blood cells in the patient and eventually eliminate symptoms without the need for regular blood transfusions. In many cases, sickle cells can no longer be detected. Patients must continue to take immunosuppressant drugs for at least a year after the transplant.

“Like any other transplant procedure, the patient undergoes an extensive screening process to determine if they are a good candidate,” said Dr. Damiano Rondelli, chief of hematology/oncology and director of the blood and marrow transplant program at UI Health. Patients must have a tissue-matched donor, usually a sibling, to provide the stem cells that will be used in the transplant. Determining a patient’s ability to pay for the transplant is also a necessary part of the screening.

“Prior to Medicare’s decision, adult patients insured by Medicare weren’t able to get the chemo-free transplant because of its cost – about $200,000 for the transplant and medications,” said Rondelli. Medicare coverage, he said, “means that many more that would likely have died relatively young from the disease now have hope for a full life.”

Last September, Rondelli and colleagues published a paper in the journal Biology of Blood & Marrow Transplantation validating the NIH’s sickle cell procedure in 12 patients treated and cured at UI Health.

Patients eligible for the new coverage must be covered under Medicare. People 65 and older and those getting disability benefits from Social Security or certain disability benefits from the Railroad Retirement Board for 24 months are eligible for Medicare.

By: Sharon Parmet

Student Organizes Dental Screenings For Veterans

As part of her Schweitzer Fellows project, University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) College of Dentistry student Nisha Garg initiated a Veterans’ Screening Day at the College recently for veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces. Veterans were given a free initial screening and assessment.

Schweitzer Fellows spend a year working to address barriers that impact the health of underserved communities and develop lifelong leadership skills. In doing so, they follow the example set by famed physician-humanitarian Albert Schweitzer, for whom the Fellowship is named.

Garg’s Schweitzer Fellows goal is to provide oral hygiene information and oral health care to military veterans who are ineligible for dental health care in the Veterans Administration (VA) system.

“With the desire to work with the veteran population, Tom Angerame, a classmate, and I began holding oral health seminars at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center for the high percentage of veterans who are ineligible to receive dental care from the VA facility,” Garg said.

The Jesse Brown VA Medical Center is located on Damen Avenue near the UIC Campus.

“My seminars provide information on how to properly maintain oral hygiene, along with how oral health directly relates to the health of the entire body,” Garg said. “After spending months speaking to veterans about their frustrations with receiving dental care,” she added, “Tom and I reached out to Dean Clark Stanford and Dr. Susan Rowan [Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs] about hosting a Veterans’ Screening Day for those individuals.

Garg initially expected only about 25 or 30 participants. “However, days before the event, I started getting phone calls and emails from veterans all over the Chicagoland area and surrounding suburbs,” she said. A total of 73 veterans ended up participating. “That alone is very indicative of how high of a demand low-cost dental care is among the veteran population.”

During the event, 22 students and five faculty members provided screenings. The faculty were Dean Stanford; Dr. Blasé Brown, Clinical Assistant Professor, Oral Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences; Dr. Kaori Ema, Clinical Instructor, Restorative; Dr. Kenneth Gehrke, Clinical Associate Professor, Restorative; and Dr. Charles Neach, Clinical Assistant Professor, Endodontics.

A few veterans who participated were referred elsewhere due to more complex medical or dental needs. Others were accepted as patients of the College and “will be assigned to a student dentist,” Garg said. “From that point forward, all dental care will be provided from our school.

“It was very exciting to witness these veterans finally getting the opportunity for actual dental care,” she concluded. “The students and faculty also expressed their enjoyment with working with such an appreciative and deserving population.”

One of the participants, Robert Hamilton, expressed his appreciation to the College in a letter. He wrote, “As a veteran I would like to thank all of you for showing such concern for our dental health. Everyone was so nice and helpful. I appreciate your effort.”

“Math at Home” Program For Early Childhood Learning Available Free Online

How important are early math skills? More important than some might guess.

When compared to other domains such as reading and attention, math ability is the biggest predictor of later academic success in third and fifth grade. Researchers have found that children who are successful in early math literacy skill attainment are more likely to graduate from high school than children who have persistent problems in attaining these skills. Math achievement in adolescence is predictive of later labor market success — thus, early math matters.

The UIC College of Education’s Math at Home grant project is seeking to bolster early childhood mathematics education across the State of Illinois through the launch of Early Math Matters, a free online professional development series for Illinois teachers and caregivers of children ages 0-5. This eight-course online curriculum introduces teachers and caregivers to mathematical concepts such as math literacy, number sense, patterns, geometry, measurement, data collection and math processes and builds skills in communicating these concepts to early learners.

“We are surprised and pleased by the number of people who have taken the courses,” said Kathleen Sheridan, PhD, associate professor of educational psychology and director of the Math at Home project. “This type of online professional development appears to be accessible for providers and caregivers, and based on our course evaluations, the course participants are actually using the information they learned in the courses by implementing the concepts and ideas in their classrooms”

Math at Home, funded through a grant by the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Foundation, is a free access online professional development center to help family home care providers, teachers and parents develop early math skills in children. The Early Math Matters courses are an extension of the Math at Home website and provides an opportunity for early childhood caregivers to earn the Illinois Gateways to Opportunity Registry training hours and CPDU’s. In less than a 2-month period, more than 500 educators have completed the first course, and more than 200 have completed all eight courses.

The eight courses lead teachers and caregivers through an immersive mathematics conceptual review, building skills in five major content areas for math. Courses focus on number sense and counting principles, patterns and sequencing, shapes and spaces, measuring, data collection and analysis, math processes and setting up math-rich environments.

Math at Home’s professional development opportunities are aimed at improving the percentage rate of Illinois schoolchildren proficient in math at grade level, currently about 33 percent. Illinois children trail their peers nationwide (about 35 percent) and peers worldwide, ranging from 58-65 percent proficiency in nations such as Switzerland, Japan and Korea.

Sheridan says early anecdotal evidence from course evaluations suggests teachers and caregivers are ramping up the use of mathematics vocabulary with children, from simple terms such as more than or less than ranging to more sophisticated math language, such as symmetry, addition and subtraction.

Sheridan says the Math at Home program is looking to expand beyond Illinois to offer teacher and caregiver online training across the country.

Learn more about the program at:

By Robert Schroeder


Reframing The Issue of School Segregation

Megan Hopkins

Assistant Professor Megan Hopkins, PhD, UIC College of Education

School segregation was outlawed more than 60 years ago, but any visitor to a Chicago Public School will observe that the vast majority of students are either Black, Latino, or White.

UIC College of Education’s  Megan Hopkins, PhD, assistant professor of curriculum and instruction, is seeking to reframe the issue of school integration and equity in her new co-edited book, “School Integration Matters: Research-Based Strategies to Advance Equity.” She and her co-editors, Erica Frankenberg and Liliana Garces, associate professors of education at the Pennsylvania State University, argue that race should be a central consideration in school reform efforts, spanning from preschool to higher education.

“Some teachers say, ‘I don’t see color,’ but without seeing color you aren’t seeing the assets students bring to your classroom and use them to think critically about your curriculum to see if it reflects students’ experiences,” Hopkins said. “We can’t support equitable schooling for students if we don’t explicitly take up race in our discussions.”

Hopkins’ book challenges such colorblindness from the individual classroom all the way to the Supreme Court, where Hopkins says decisions have historically revolved around color-blind ideologies, for instance in its interpretation of affirmative action. She cites court decisions that limit or eliminate the ability of public schools and colleges to take race into account in their student assignment and admissions practices. While schools have turned to socioeconomic status as a proxy, Hopkins says the result is schools are skirting the real issue of structural and institutional racism prevalent in society.

The book also shows that prevailing explorations of school segregation, which focus on populations of Black and White students, need to be updated to reflect the current make up of the US student population. Within-school segregation is also an issue that needs attention, as the book reveals that, even in schools serving Black, Latino, and Asian populations, language programs and culturally-relevant practices can implicitly privilege certain groups of students.

Hopkins’ chapter of the book, which was co-authored with Rebecca Lowenhaupt, assistant professor of educational leadership at Boston College, illustrates how school organizational structures must be considered when supporting within school integration. In examining learning opportunities for immigrant students, and particularly English language learners, Hopkins and Lowenhaupt found that the extent to which language and content was integrated for ELLs varied by the school subject, with English as a second language curriculum embedded in language arts, but largely kept separate in the area of mathematics. Another chapter by the College’s P. Zitlali Morales, assistant professor of curriculum and instruction, and Aria Razfar, associate professor of curriculum and instruction, describes how dual language educational programs can be an approach to supporting integration among students and across subject areas, as well as among parents and families.

The book also discusses how schools and policymakers can support integration efforts: the federal government could offer an integration checklist, while higher education institutions could draw on community engaged scholarship and service learning opportunities to bring diverse communities together in the classroom.

“We as an educational community spend a lot of time talking about access and equity, but can we achieve access and equity without integrating our schools and providing opportunities for students to work across racial and ethnic lines?” Hopkins said.

By Rob Schroeder

Rima Nimri Selected As 2016 Newman Civic Fellow


Rima Nimri, a graduate student in the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs, was named a 2016 Newman Civic Fellow by Campus Compact.

Rima Nimri, a graduate student in the University of Illinois at Chicago’s College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs, was chosen as a 2016 Newman Civic Fellows Award recipient.

The fellowship program is administered by Campus Compact, a national nonprofit coalition of more than 1,000 colleges and universities, dedicated to campus-based civic engagement. It honors students who are “proven leaders, with both the motivation and ability to make substantial contributions toward public problem-solving,” according to the Campus Compact website.

Nimri is a public and financial policy management major from Chicago’s Hegewisch neighborhood. She has worked on several civic engagement projects, both at UIC and in the community, with organizations such as Illinois Campus Compact, AmeriCorps Volunteers In Service To America, and the UIC Institute for Policy and Civic Engagement.

“In these roles she has taken on progressive responsibilities and proven herself to be a strong leader who works to motivate others,” said UIC Chancellor Michael Amiridis, who nominated Nimri for the award.

As part of AmericaCorps VISTA, Nimri spent a year working on behalf of the Center for Civic Engagement and Community Service at Governors State University. She worked with faculty, students and staff to coordinate and lead various community outreach and partnership projects. She was later promoted to a VISTA leader position to recruit and coach project teams.

Nimri, who received her bachelor’s degree in communication from UIC in 2011, will represent the university in a national group of student leaders as part of the Newman Civic Fellows online network and also participate in statewide activities.

The Newman Civic Fellows Awards, which are named in tribute to Campus Compact co-founder Frank Newman, are made possible through support from the KPMG Foundation and the Newman’s Own Foundation.

By Brian Flood

Cuban Health Officials to Observe, Advise at Englewood, Back of the Yards Health Care Clinics

Mile Square

Cuban health officials will embed at Mile Square Health Centers, operated by University of Illinois Health, to provide expertise on caring for underserved communities. There are 13 community healthcare centers across Chicago.

The University of Illinois Cancer Center will bring physicians from Cuba and the Cuban Ministry of Health to Chicago to evaluate women and children’s health and cancer prevention programs at two community-based clinics under a two-year, $1 million grant from the Kellogg Foundation.

The Cuban partners will embed at the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System Mile Square Health Centers in Englewood and Back of the Yards, bringing their expertise on delivering preventive health and improving the health of patients living in high-poverty, underserved communities.

“The Cuban health system does preventive health very, very well, and they do it without a lot of money,” said Dr. Robert Winn, associate vice chancellor of community based practice at UI Health and director at the University of Illinois Cancer Center.

“Despite limited resources, the Cuban people have exceptionally low rates of infant mortality, even compared to developed countries, including the United States, and they also have low rates of cervical cancer,” Winn said. “Cervical cancer rates, in many of the neighborhoods we serve, are extremely high, even though we have resources like the HPV vaccine to help lower cervical cancer rates to near zero. Perhaps our Cuban counterparts have a different way of approaching their patients that improves uptake of preventive efforts, such as an innovative way of providing education.”

After a few preliminary meetings both in Chicago and Cuba, the Cuban team of physicians and health officials will spend 18 months at the Englewood and Back of the Yards clinics observing and advising.

Afterwards, Cuban and Mile Square practitioners will work with a community steering committee including partners from the March of Dimes, the UIC College of Nursing and School of Public Health to develop a master plan based on suggestions and observations generated during the Cuban team’s visit.

“Not only will they look at how the clinics operate to deliver health care and preventive medicine, but we also hope they will be able to make connections with the community and its civic leaders to attain a holistic picture of how the built and political environment plays into the health of local residents,” Winn said.

Cubans rely heavily on community health care workers, Winn explained. While UI Health uses community health care workers, the feeling is that more might be useful.

“They also use nurse practitioners differently that we do,” said Winn. “We want their perspective on our use of resources, because they may have a different way of doing things that we can implement to start moving our needle a little faster on cancer and women and children’s health.”

UI Health has 13 federally-qualified health centers that are community clinics located in neighborhoods throughout Chicago.

By Sharon Parmet

Graduation Day: Over 6,600 Degrees Awarded at 14 UIC Colleges

05/08/2016 crowd of LAS graduates at commencement Photo: Roberta Dupuis-Devlin

College of Liberal Arts & Sciences graduates at commencement. Photo: Roberta Dupuis-Devlin

Excitement. Nervousness. Apprehension. Those are just a few of the emotions you may be experiencing as you leave UIC with your diploma in hand and embark on new adventures in your life. One word comes to my mind that may help you assuage those feelings: Prepared.

UIC faculty and staff work hard to provide you with the finest education so you can be successful in whatever career path you take. Our enrollment this year, 29,000, was an all-time high, and that speaks volumes to the quality of our undergraduate, graduate and research programs. You, our students, are the faces of the future of this country. We hope you learned as much from us and we did from you.

While UIC is a large campus, we strive to make it all inclusive. We know you achieved success in the classroom, and we hope you were able to take advantage of some of the many organizations and activities we provide, from our culturally diverse student groups, to events such as LOL@UIC, Spark in the Park or Taste of UIC. We also want our students to give back to the community, so we launched UIC ENGAGE, which sends UIC student volunteers to schools and community faith centers on Chicago’s West Side to provide tutoring and mentoring. We look forward to instituting new programs in the future.

I recently celebrated my one-year anniversary at UIC, but I felt welcomed the moment I arrived. We want our faculty and students to feel the same way. One new professor who came to UIC last August said he felt at home the minute he stepped on campus. The students, he said, want to be as active as possible, whether it be social or political activism, or through the many diverse courses and clubs. He commented that it is a real exciting time to be a UIC student. And I couldn’t agree more.

We have many new projects on the horizon which will continue to modernize our campus. We are going to build basic science labs in the college of medicine, modernize classrooms across campus, complete the Mile Square building, improve the hospital’s aging infrastructure and construct a modular-designed Engineering lab building. We also intend to move forward with public-private partnerships that will allow us to build a new classroom and residence hall building on Halsted Street, as well as a new soccer stadium on South Campus.

A few years ago you had a difficult decision of where to continue your academic pursuits. Many of you had several schools from which to choose, and we’re happy UIC was at the top of your list. We want you to look back on your time here and have fond memories, and even though you’ll be gone, we want you to stay involved with UIC, especially through the Alumni Association.

Congratulations on your graduation. I am proud to call you UIC alums.

Michael Amiridis

 UIC celebrated the Class of 2016 during its commencement ceremonies May 4-8.  More than 6,600 degrees were awarded at 14 college ceremonies.

Sheryl Underwood, a 1987 UIC graduate, comedian and co-host of CBS’ “The Talk”; Jesús “Chuy” García, UIC alumnus and Cook County Commissioner; John J. Tracy, chief technology officer of The Boeing Company, and other civic and business leaders addressed graduates at various college ceremonies.

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