Monthly archives: July, 2016

Hops Extract Studied To Prevent Breast Cancer

hops2-172x258An enriched hops extract activates a chemical pathway in cells that could help prevent breast cancer, according to new laboratory findings from the UIC/NIH Center for Botanical Dietary Supplements Research at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Natural botanical dietary supplements such as hops have become increasingly popular among women for postmenopausal symptoms, as they are perceived as a safer alternative to hormone therapy, which has been linked to increased risk of breast cancer. However, the efficacy and potential toxicity of botanicals are still being studied.

Researchers led by Judy Bolton, professor and head of medicinal chemistry and pharmacognosy in the UIC College of Pharmacy, applied hops extract to two different breast cell lines to see if they would affect estrogen metabolism, a key mechanism in breast cancer. One compound, 6-prenylnarigenin, or 6-PN, increased a detoxification pathway in the cells that has been linked to a lower risk for breast cancer.

“We need to further explore this possibility, but our results suggest that 6-PN could have anti-cancer effects,” Bolton said.

In addition to 6-PN, Bolton and her colleagues studied 8-prenylnarigenin (8-PN), isoxanthohumol (IX) and xanthohumol (XH) for their effects on estrogen metabolism in breast cells. According to Bolton, 8-PN showed only a slight increase of metabolism in breast cells, while the other two compounds did not have significant effects in either cell line.

Breast cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in women in the U.S.; about one in eight U.S. women will develop invasive breast cancer over their lifetime. An estimated 246,660 new cases of invasive breast cancer and 61,000 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer are expected in women in the U.S. this year, according to the American Cancer Society.

The incidence of breast cancer began decreasing in 2000, after increasing during the previous two decades. Just from 2002 to 2003, the incidence declined by 7 percent. Some think the drop was partly due to reduced use of hormone replacement therapy, or HRT, after results of the Women’s Health Initiative suggested a link between HRT and increased breast cancer risk. Estrogen exposure has long been linked with postmenopausal breast cancer risk, especially since the 2002 report, Bolton said.

The new research is published in the journal Chemical Research in Toxicology.

By Sam Hostettler

Cure Violence Rises As Top NGO in 2016 Report

Gary-Slutkin-387x258Cure Violence is ranked 14th in NGO Advisor’s new 2016 report of the Top 500 NGOs in the world, one of the definitive international rankings of non-governmental organizations. Cure Violence has been among the top 20 NGOs ranked by NGO Advisor for three consecutive years and moved up three places from last year.

The ranking and methodology are online at

Cure Violence (, founded in 1995 by Dr. Gary Slutkin, professor of epidemiology in the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health and formerly of the World Health Organization, works to reduce violence in communities around the world using disease control and behavior change methods. Cure Violence works to reduce gang and youth violence, as well as cartel, tribal, election and prison violence and is increasingly being consulted on violent extremism. The organization has partners on four continents, including more than 50 communities in 31 cities. The ranking and methodology are online at

Cure Violence has demonstrated effectiveness in stopping lethal violence, particularly shootings. Several external evaluations have shown its approach reduces acts of violence by 40 percent to 50 percent in the first year, and up to 70 percent over a two- to three-year period. Reductions in violence begin almost immediately when implemented in a community.

“We’re very grateful for this ranking and see it as a recognition of both the importance of the work of reducing violence and the impact of the public health approach in addressing the problem,” Slutkin said. “As we are largely a guiding and training organization, we give great credit to our many partners in the U.S. and around the world who are doing such great work in making their communities safer by implementing health methods to treat violence.”

NGO Advisor evaluates and ranks NGOs to showcase the best practices and newest ideas in the nonprofit sector. It presents its findings to an international audience of donors, volunteers, journalists, researchers and diplomats and others.

By Sharon Parmet

Alumn’s $5 Million Donation The Largest in UIC Pharmacy College’s History


Herbert and Carol Retzky

Herbert Retzky has never forgotten his time as a student at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy. A $5 million donation from his and his wife Carol’s estate will ensure his legacy of advocating for the practice of pharmacy is secured within the college in perpetuity.

“Herb and Carol’s vision for the role of a pharmacist aligns perfectly with the mission that has guided us since 1859,” said College of Pharmacy Dean Jerry Bauman. “It charges us to raise awareness of the role of the pharmacist within our communities and within healthcare. Their generous gift will allow us to do just that.”The largest monetary gift in the history of the College of Pharmacy will establish the Herbert M. and Carol H. Retzky Deanship. The Oak Park, Illinois, couple has consistently supported the college since 2003, and in 2012 their financial gift created the Herbert M. and Carol H. Retzky Endowed Chair in Pharmacy Practice. The new deanship replaces the chair position.

It is UIC’s first named deanship and the third in the entire University of Illinois system.

The field of pharmacy has played an important part in the lives of the Retzkys. Herb was a pharmacist, while Carol was a pharmacy technician. Following a successful career as independent pharmacy owners, the Retzkys were searching for opportunities in which to make a lasting impression, and they believed the college could benefit from their good fortune.

“We wanted to provide something that extends beyond our own time here on Earth, and we found that a gift to the College of Pharmacy would seem to fulfill the ambitions we had,” Herb Retzky said. “We’re grateful that we have been given the chance to assist the college.”

UIC Chancellor Michael Amiridis said, “The generosity and vision Herbert and Carol Retzky have shown by investing in the university and the College of Pharmacy with their named deanship opens an enormous opportunity to recruit a highly visible, renowned and top regarded pharmacy leader.

“This in turn will support the evolving priorities of the university: providing an exceptional student experience, serving as a magnet to recruit other world-class faculty who will blaze new trails in research and teaching, and building our national and international reputation for research and excellence in the health and health care fields.”

The income from the pharmacy deanship will support expenditures such as salary, research, graduate students, curriculum development, scholarships, outreach, materials and more.

“All of this excellence deeply impacts the level of care we bring to the patients and communities we serve,” Bauman said. “We are deeply grateful to and inspired by Herb and Carol Retzky. Their investment will touch every corner of our college, and invigorate everything we do.”

The College of Pharmacy was founded in 1859 and joined the University of Illinois system in 1896. It is the oldest academic unit in the U. of I. system, and today includes campuses in Chicago and Rockford. U.S. News & World Report recently ranked the college sixth among pharmacy schools in the nation.

By Sam Hostettler

UIC To Enroll Participants in President’s Precision Medicine Initiative

UI Health photoThe University of Illinois at Chicago, Northwestern University, the University of Chicago and their affiliated hospitals and clinics have been selected to enroll 150,000 Illinoisans in the national Precision Medicine Initiative Cohort Program. The Illinois consortium is one of several such groups across the nation that will help bring one million or more U.S. participants over the next five years into a research effort to improve the prevention and treatment of disease based on individual differences in lifestyle, environment and genetics.

The Illinois Precision Medicine Initiative Cohort Program consortium will receive $4.3 million in fiscal year 2016 and a total of approximately $45 million over 5 years pending progress and availability of funds from the National Institutes of Health to meet its participant enrollment goal.

The Precision Medicine Initiative, announced by President Obama in his 2015 State of the Union address, launched in 2016 with a $215 million budget. It aims to enable a new era of medicine in which researchers, providers and research participants work together to develop individualized care.

Most prevention strategies and medical treatments are designed for the average patient. This one-size-fits-all approach means that strategies to stay healthy and treatments for illnesses are successful for some people, but not others.

Precision medicine is an emerging approach for disease treatment and prevention that takes into account individual variability in genes, environment and lifestyle for each person. While some advances in precision medicine have been made, the practice is not currently commonplace.

“Illinois, as just a single state, very closely resembles the rest of the U.S. combined because we have such diversity in terms of our populations and types of communities,” says Dr. Robert Winn, associate vice chancellor for community based practice at the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System, director of the University of Illinois Cancer Center and a principal investigator on the grant.

Dr. Robert Barish, vice chancellor for health affairs at UIC, says that “for precision medicine to work for everyone, we need to know how prevention strategies, medicines and therapies work in a broad range of populations. With UIC’s unique ability to reach diverse communities through our clinics throughout Chicago, and through our regional College of Medicine campus in Peoria, we are well-positioned to help answer the questions that will help bring precision medicine to everyone.”

UI Health’s 13 Mile Square Health Centers are federally qualified neighborhood clinics located in some of Chicago’s most underserved communities, said Winn.

“Our Mile Square Health Centers reach into communities that carry an exceptionally heavy burden of disease,” said Winn, noting they serve African-American neighborhoods on the city’s south and west sides where cancer, diabetes, heart disease and asthma rates can be more than twice as high as in other populations.

Volunteer participants in the Precision Medicine Initiative Cohort Program will be asked to contribute a wide range of health, environment and lifestyle information. The participants will also answer questions about their health history and status, share their genomic and other biological information through simple blood and urine tests, and grant access to their clinical data from electronic health records. In addition, mobile health devices and apps will provide lifestyle data and environmental exposures in real time. All this will be accomplished with essential privacy and security safeguards. As partners in the research, participants will have ongoing input into study design and implementation, as well as access to a wide range of their individual and aggregated study results.

The knowledge gained from the Precision Medicine Initiative Cohort Program will extend the success of precision medicine in some cancers to many other diseases. Importantly, the program will focus not just on disease, but also on ways to increase an individual’s chances of remaining healthy throughout life.

“The range of information at the scale of one million people from all walks of life will be an unprecedented resource for researchers working to understand all of the factors that influence health and disease,” said NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins.

Dr. Martha Daviglus and Denise Hynes of the UIC College of Medicine are co-principal investigators on the grant. Dr. Jerry Krishnan, Maria Argos, Dr. Frederick Behm, Dr. Ben Gerber, Timothy Johnson, Robin Mermelstein, Dr. Terry Vanden Hoek and Karriem Watson of the UIC College of Medicine and Marcelo Bento Soares of the University of Illinois at Peoria College of Medicine are co-investigators on the grant.

UIC will coordinate efforts to enroll individuals at UI Hospital; Mile Square Health Center; University of Illinois at Peoria College of Medicine; Southern Illinois University Healthcare; Memorial Medical Center, Springfield; Blessing Health System, Quincy; Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center, Matoon; OSF Saint Francis Medical Center, Peoria; Cook County Health and Hospitals System; and Mount Sinai Hospital, Chicago.

By Sharon Parmet

UI Health Community Engagement Delivering Health Resources to Chicago Neighborhoods

OCEAN-HP-Logo-vr2The University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System prides itself on being an engaged partner.  Each year, the University of Illinois takes part in numerous community events to educate, nurture, and care for people across Chicago’s communities.

Partnerships are developed to bring together the expertise and resources from the community with that of the UI Health system to strengthen the quality of life and continuously elevate access to quality healthcare.

  • The Office of Community Engagement and Neighborhood Health Partnerships (OCENHP) brings together faculty and community scholars to support, initiate, coordinate and celebrate community and University partnerships. This can be through encouraging and sustaining a supportive environment for productive dialogue, or through active intervention to addresses communication barriers inherent in diverse community, racioethnic and institutional cultures
  • UNISON Health is the University of Illinois Survey On Neighborhood Health with extensive in-person community health assessment of 1400 local residents.
  • The Community Engaged Research Core (CERC), which is part of UI Health’s Center for Clinical and Translational Sciences, has been working with community researchers across campus to create an easy way to see what the UI Health System is doing to improve your neighborhoods.
  • The 2013 Community Health Needs Assessment for the University of Illinois Hospital and the broader health system identifies healthcare needs in our primary service area and spells out a plan for addressing the highest priority needs.

For more about the community activities engaged by UI Health, please visit the Office of Community Engagement and Neighborhood Health Partnerships.

Dr. James Bahcall Joins Department of Endodontics at UIC College of Dentistry

With years of experience teaching at three other dental schools, Dr. James Bahcall has joined the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Department of Endodontics as a Clinical Associate Professor.

Dr. Bahcall earned his DMD from the Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, a Certificate in Endodontics from the Marquette University School of Dentistry, and an MS from Marquette.

His dental teaching career began at the Northwestern University School of Dentistry in the Department of Endodontics, where Dr. Bahcall eventually became Chair of that department. After Northwestern’s dental school closed Dr. Bahcall moved on to Marquette, where he eventually became Chair of the Department of Surgical Sciences and Director of the Endodontic Division. He later taught at the Midwestern University College of Dental Medicine before joining the UIC College of Dentistry.

At the College, Dr. Bahcall noted, he is “teaching clinical endodontics to undergraduate and postgraduate endodontic students. I also am performing clinical and benchtop research within the field of endodontics.”

He said he hopes “to provide students with current clinical and didactic endodontic techniques and knowledge within a collegial learning environment.”

Dr. Bahcall wrote the book Smile for Life: A Guide to Overcoming Your Fear of the Dentist, and also has contributed chapters to three endodontics books. He has been a thesis director and advisor for more than ten students, and is a reviewer for five journals. He received teaching awards at both Northwestern and Marquette.

“It is an honor and privilege to be a part of the UIC College of Dentistry team,” Dr. Bahcall concluded.

Volunteering To Improve Visual Health in Ghana

Mart Otoo

“Vision health is paramount to our health in general,” says Mary Otoo, a master’s student in public health who volunteers in Ghana.

Mary Otoo has witnessed what happens when people lose their eyesight and encourages those with good vision to not take it for granted.

“Vision health is paramount to our health in general,” said Otoo, a master’s student in the School of Public Health, who encourages people to check their vision once a year. “So many people wish they could see — even just shadows.”

While volunteering for the Emmanuel Eye Centre in Accra, Ghana, Otoo saw many people in resource-poor areas struggle with vision impairments due to old age, allergies, congenital conditions, environmental factors and physical traumas. “Many in developing countries lose their eyesight at no fault of theirs.”

A substantial amount of that blindness is preventable, said Charlotte Joslin, associate professor in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science and director of contact lens service at the Illinois Eye and Ear Infirmary. Limited access to health care, lack of funds, inadequate vision health professionals are the common challenges to vision heath delivery in Ghana. There are currently only 74 ophthalmologists serving the entire nation. Patients in developing countries like Ghana sometimes develop conditions so severe that they can cause blindness without medical attention.

Otoo recalled removing a patient’s eye patch a day after her cataract surgery at the Emmanuel Eye Center.

“The woman held my wrist tightly, with tears filling her eyes and shaking, and she looked at me intently and said, ‘I could not see you yesterday but today I can. Thank you!’” Otoo said. “It gives me so much joy and happiness to see faces glow with excitement because they can finally see something again.”

Otoo is going back to Ghana this summer as a Unite For Sight Global Impact Fellow to work with partner eye clinics that bring local medical professionals to villages in the country. The volunteer experience is supported by Unite for Sight, a nonprofit organization that provides cost-effective vision care to 1.9 million people. Cataracts, pyterigium and glaucoma are some of the common conditions that volunteers and clinicians treat and teach about to the impoverished populations in Ghana, India and Honduras.

“Mary gets experience in seeing first-hand what the problems are that people in other parts of the world are having,” Joslin said. “This also allows her to recognize the ways in which we can help.”

During her time there, Otoo hopes to survey mothers to investigate maternal perceptions on child eye health, the focus of her independent research study for the School of Public Health.

“There’s a limited period of time during childhood in which vision needs to be improved; otherwise, patients risk permanent poor vision moving forward in life,” said Joslin, who is Otoo’s mentor.

In addition to her volunteer work, Otoo is fundraising $5,000 to provide free vision care and eye restoring surgeries for the impoverished in Ghana, India and Honduras. She has been able to raise about $2,400 and hopes to reach her goal, $5,000, by the end of July. That amount would fully sponsor 100 cataract surgeries.

Donations can be made through July 30.

For more information, email Otoo at

By Francisca Corona


Endangered Peregrine Falcons Nesting on University Hall Since 1986

Peregrine falcon expert Mary Hennen strapped herself into a safety harness and was lowered onto a ledge outside the 28th floor of University Hall, wearing a protective long-sleeve shirt and helmet to keep her safe.

“Not because it’s going to do me any good if I fall,” she said. “It’s [for] protection against the birds.”

Peregrine falcons are raptors that call some of Chicago’s tallest buildings home. Their beaks, claws and high-speed dives — reaching more than 200 miles per hour — let them hunt anything from small insects to medium-sized mammals. Those features help them defend their nesting sites, too.

Hennen, director of the Chicago Peregrine Program and collections assistant in the Field Museum’s bird division, visits the UIC site every year to take blood samples and band peregrine chicks, a process that involves putting small leg cuffs on the birds that help identify males from females. Bands also allow experts and peregrine enthusiasts to track dispersal and longevity.

Because of the bands, Hennen knows that the two chicks living on the UIC ledge belong to Nitz and Mouse, now in their fourth year of nesting at University Hall. The pair had a total of four eggs, but only two hatched. Both chicks, about 24 days old at the banding ceremony May 31, are males.

The information is important for experts, institutions and programs — like UIC and the Chicago Peregrine Program — that took part in restoring the species after it was classified as endangered in 1973.

“It was a result of DDT,” Hennen said. “Its byproduct affects calcium production in the females and inhibits it. So without the calcium, shells are too thin. The way that the adults incubate crushed it.”

Peregrines were bred in captivity and reintroduced to the Midwest using psuedo-cliff locations, such as University Hall, as nesting areas in the 1980s and ’90s.

“It shows that even in the middle of one of the biggest cities in the world, nature is at work,” said Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Susan Poser.

Pairs have nested outside of University Hall since 1986.

Falcons were successfully removed from the federal threatened and endangered species list in 1999, but they remained on the Illinois list. In 2004, they were reclassified from endangered to threatened. The species was removed from the list entirely last year.

“It’s a great program,” said Angela Yudt, associate vice provost for faculty affairs. She’s followed the UIC falcons for 23 years, since she was an undergraduate student. Her son, John Yudt, has followed them for five.

“They’re such extraordinary birds,” said Poser, a new falcon fan. She and UIC Chancellor Michael Amiridis held the new chicks and welcomed them into the UIC family at the banding event.

“It’s something that brings people together,” Poser added.

The chicks are expected to fly when they’re about 40 days old.

Watch the falcon family live on the UIC falcon cam.


UIC Takes Over HIV Clinic in Uptown

UIHealthphotoUIC opened a new HIV clinic in June at 845 W. Wilson Ave. in the Uptown neighborhood. Management of the clinic, which used to be run by the Chicago Department of Public Health, was transferred to UIC in March.

“The city has been transferring much of their clinical care operations to other entities,” said Richard Novak, professor and chief of infectious disease in the College of Medicine. “UIC has a network of community HIV clinics, and we’re happy to undertake the management of the Wilson Avenue clinic.”

The new clinic will allow for expansion of services that were offered at UIC’s Uptown clinic, which operated for 25 years at the corner of Montrose Avenue and Broadway Street until it closed June 1, Novak said. Patients seen at the Montrose and Broadway clinic will now receive care at the Wilson Avenue clinic. Novak said the new clinic will inherit about 300 patients previously cared for by the Chicago Department of Public Health.

The area from Uptown north to the Evanston border has some of the highest rates of HIV in the city, Novak said.

“The space at the Montrose clinic was run down and inadequate for our needs,” Novak said. “Now that we’re moving into a larger office, we have the opportunity to serve more people and for faculty, residents and fellows from UIC to participate in community-based HIV care.”

By Sharon Parmet

College of Lake County, UIC Sign Transfer Agreement

College of Lake County and UIC agreement

College of Lake County and UIC officials celebrate the Transfer Admission Guarantee signing. Back row, left to right: Tammy Mireles, CLC; Cecil Curtwright, UIC; Karen Hlavin and Cindy Sullivan, CLC; Robert R. Dixon, UIC. Front row: Dr. Rich Haney, CLC; Kevin M. Browne, UIC.

Students who wish to transfer from the College of Lake County (CLC) to the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) can now take advantage of a new guaranteed admission agreement signed by academic officials from the two institutions.

Kevin A. Browne, UIC vice provost for academic and enrollment services, and Dr. Richard Haney, CLC provost, met June 22 to complete the Transfer Admission Guarantee (TAG) agreement at the CLC Grayslake Campus. Also representing UIC were Robert R. Dixon, registrar; and Cecil Curtwright, associate vice provost, academic and enrollment services.

“In the 2014-15 academic year, there were 198 CLC transfer students enrolled at UIC, making it one of our top five public transfer institutions,” Dr. Haney said. “We are excited to increase that number through innovative partnerships like this that not only guarantee admission to our CLC students, but also provides our students with academic guidance and support from both of our institutions in order to assure a smooth transfer process.”

Browne said that the relationship between UIC and CLC began several years ago, but this formal agreement will help students avoid any missteps in the transfer process. “Anything we can do to bring clarity to the process is good,” he said. In the future, the two institutions will work on a reverse transfer agreement that allows credits earned at UIC to be transferred back to CLC so students can apply them toward an associate degree. Another benefit is that the tuition rate CLC students pay upon transferring to UIC will not increase under the university’s Undergraduate Guaranteed Tuition Program, according to Browne.

The UIC undergraduate colleges participating include the Colleges of Architecture, Design and the Arts; Business Administration; Engineering; Liberal Arts and Sciences; and Urban Planning and Public Affairs. The agreement will be in force for three years with annual renewal to allow for improvements to ease of transfer as curriculum is updated.

Carlos Catalan, a 2016 CLC graduate, vice president of the CLC Student Government Association and Student Ambassador, attended the signing event and reflected on its importance to students.

“This agreement will assist students on their path to success by alleviating some of the pressures surrounding the transfer process. It allows students to plan out their academic path earlier than anticipated, which will produce a more seamless transfer process,” Catalan said.

CLC currently has guaranteed admission agreements with American Business School, Paris, France; Arizona State University; DePaul University; Eastern Illinois University; Elmhurst College; Herzing University; North Central College; Northeastern Illinois University; Olivet Nazarene University; Trinity International University; and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign College of Engineering.

To learn more about CLC’s guaranteed admission programs, visit or call (847) 543-2090.