Tag: Professors

Brain Disruptions Similar In Many Emotional Disorders

Dr. Scott Langenecker, Dr. Olusola Ajilore and Lisanne Jenkins pose in front of an image of the brain in UIC’s Electronic Visualization Laboratory. Photo: Vibhu Rangavasan.

Dr. Scott Langenecker, Dr. Olusola Ajilore and Lisanne Jenkins pose in front of an image of the brain in UIC’s Electronic Visualization Laboratory. Photo: Vibhu Rangavasan.

Researchers have long known that emotional disorders have a lot in common. Many often occur together, like depression and social anxiety disorder. Treatments also tend to work across multiple disorders, suggesting shared underlying elements. But perhaps the most common shared characteristic is that almost all emotional disorders involve persistent negative thinking.

In an analysis of existing studies that used MRI images to study the brain’s white matter, researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago describe common brain abnormalities found in multiple emotional disorders. Their findings are published in the journal NeuroImage: Clinical.

“This study provides important insights into mechanisms shared across multiple emotional disorders, and could provide us with biomarkers that can be used to more rapidly diagnose these disorders,” says Dr. Scott Langenecker, associate professor of psychiatry and psychology in the UIC College of Medicine and senior author of the paper. Those disorders, he said, can sometimes take many years to be diagnosed accurately.

The most common difference in white matter structure that Langenecker’s group found — present in every emotional disorder they looked at — was disruption in a region of the brain that connects different parts of the “default-mode network,” which is responsible for passive thoughts not focused on a particular task. That area is the left superior longitudinal fasciculus. The superior longitudinal fasciculus, or SLF, also connects the default-mode network and the cognitive control network, which is important in task-based thinking and planning and tends to work in alternation with the default-mode network.

The constant negative thoughts or ruminations associated with most emotional disorders appear to be due to a hyperactive default-mode network, Langenecker said.

“If the part of the brain that helps rein in the default-mode network isn’t as well-connected through the SLF, this could explain why people with emotional disorders have such a hard time modulating or gaining control of their negative thoughts,” he said.

The researchers systematically searched the scientific literature for studies that performed whole-brain “diffusion tensor” imaging on adults with major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or posttraumatic stress disorder, as well as healthy control participants. Thirty-seven studies met those criteria and included a combined 962 participants with emotional disorders and 892 healthy control subjects.

The researchers then performed a meta-analysis to determine which white-matter alterations may be common across multiple mood disorders and which are unique for a particular mood disorder. White matter includes the long nerve fibers called axons that transmit electrical signals.

Diffusion tensor imaging, or DTI, measures the degree to which water molecules move in one direction rather than randomly diffusing in all directions. It provides “an indirect measurement of the microstructure of white matter, and can give information about connectivity of different parts of the brain,” said Lisanne Jenkins, postdoctoral research fellow in psychiatry in the UIC College of Medicine and first author on the paper.

“If you think of white matter as the highways of the brain, connecting all the different regions and networks,” Jenkins said, an area with highly directional water movement “could be a major superhighway where all the cars are moving along quickly with little traffic.” An area with less-directed water movement could be “a two-lane road, with several exits and stop signs, maybe even some potholes, which slow down traffic.”

Brain regions connected by these slower pathways “may not communicate as well as they would in someone where this road looks more like a superhighway,” said Dr. Olusola Ajilore, associate professor of psychiatry in the UIC College of Medicine and a co-author on the paper.

In the 37 studies the researchers looked at, participants with emotional disorders had less directed water movement in their white matter compared to participants who did not have emotional disorders.

One of the most surprising findings to Langenecker was that people with obsessive-compulsive disorder shared the most brain abnormalities with people with other emotional disorders.

“We would have expected … OCD to look very different from other emotional disorders, because the symptoms are so unique and distinct,” Langenecker said. “But this kind of flips how we see OCD, which clearly has more in common with other emotional disorders than we think.”

The traditional diagnosis for OCD, he said, is repetitive thoughts about specific objects or tasks — thoughts that pertain to the world outside the self. The thoughts can also be internally-directed.

“Other emotional disorders, like depression, social anxiety, and panic disorder — the repetitive thoughts are directed at the self,” Ajilore said. “So our finding that OCD is more like the other emotional disorders makes sense, and we may now be able to further examine commonalities between these disorders that could improve our treatment of them individually.”

The disorder that stood out and shared the fewest white-matter characteristics with the others was post-traumatic stress disorder.

PTSD is triggered by a traumatic event and involves being reminded of that event at unwelcome times, not unlike the repetitive negative thinking in other emotional disorders. But people with PTSD had several areas of low white-matter connectivity that weren’t seen in the other emotional disorders, Langenecker said.

“While milder forms of trauma is common in other conditions, like major depression or generalized anxiety, it is possible that the brain regions we saw that were distinctly affected in PTSD participants are related to the experience of severe trauma or the re-experiencing of that trauma,” he said.

In bipolar disorder, characterized by periods of both depression and mania, the researchers saw generally decreased water-directionality in the right side of the brain, including the right SLF, the area that connects the default-mode network and the cognitive control network.

“All emotional disorders had disruptions more so in the left hemisphere, but for bipolar disorder, we saw disruptions in white matter in both the right and left sides of the brain,” Langenecker said.

Older studies of stroke patients have shown that abnormalities in the right hemisphere are associated with externally-focused symptoms, like mania, while left hemisphere involvement — which the current study found in most emotional disorders — was more often associated with inwardly-focused symptoms, like depression. Langenecker said the bilateral changes his team observed in bipolar disorder may reflect vulnerability to mania and to depression and anxiety.

Alyssa Barba, Miranda Campbell, Melissa Lamar, Stewart Shankman and Dr. Alex Leow, all of UIC, are the remaining co-authors on the paper.

By Sharon Parmet

Can Olive Oil And Wine Help Us Think Better?


Dr. Marian Fitzgibbon, deputy director of the Institute for Health Research and Policy

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health received a $3.8 million grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute to study the effect of the Mediterranean diet and weight loss on cognitive function in obese older adults.

The study, which is led by the school’s Institute for Health Research and Policy, will follow a group of 180 ethnically diverse men and women for eight months to determine whether adherence to the Mediterranean diet—with and without weight loss—improves performance on cognitive tasks, such as memory and attention. Dr. Marian Fitzgibbon, deputy director of the IHRP and professor of pediatrics in the UIC College of Medicine, is principal investigator on the study.

“We know there is an association between obesity and cognitive decline, but we do not know the extent to which changes in diet can lead to better cognitive health,” Fitzgibbon says. “By looking at the Mediterranean diet in a randomized, controlled clinical trial, we will be able to learn if diet is the driver of improved cognitive function, or if the mechanism is the combination of diet and weight loss.”

The Mediterranean diet includes a high intake of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, unsaturated fatty acids and modest alcohol consumption — usually wine — with meals. Previous studies have shown the Mediterranean diet to be associated with reduced risk of cognitive impairment and dementia. But there have been no randomized, controlled trials to determine causality or suggest specific clinical recommendations.

“Identifying lifestyle-based interventions that could delay the onset of cognitive decline is a critical public health priority,” Fitzgibbon said, because there are no drug treatments to offset the mental deterioration of Alzheimer’s. An effective dietary approach, she said, would be “an incredible boon for people as they age and look for ways to prevent or slow the onset of cognitive decline.”

Co-investigator Dr. Melissa Lamar, director of cognitive aging and vascular health at UI Health and associate professor of psychology and psychiatry in the UIC College of Medicine, says cognitive neurodegeneration and the risk of dementia is a significant challenge in the U.S. and worldwide, particularly when it comes to minority groups in the U.S.

More than 20 percent of older adults exhibit signs of cognitive impairment, and the Alzheimer’s Association estimates that the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease in African Americans over 65 is approximately twice that of non-Hispanic whites. The prevalence in Hispanics is approximately 50 percent greater than in whites.

To participate in the study, obese adults 55 and older will undergo an initial screen and baseline measurements, both physical and cognitive, before being randomized into one of three groups. One group will be assigned to follow the Mediterranean diet with active weight loss strategies; another group will be assigned to follow the Mediterranean diet without attempting to lose weight; and a third group will serve as a control and not make any dietary changes. During the eight-month trial, participants assigned to follow a Mediterranean diet will attend group intervention sessions and classes through the Chicago Park District that focus on changing lifestyle patterns.

Researchers will conduct an assessment of physical and cognitive health at the end of the trial and a follow-up assessment six months later. Both assessments will be compared with the baseline to determine if cognitive function has improved.

Fitzgibbon and Lamar will work with UIC College of Medicine colleagues Drs. Lisa Tussing-Humphreys, Marcelo Bonini, Giamila Fantuzzi and John Tulley.

Medication Costs Likely to Jump Higher This Year

medicine-money-372x258Prescription medication costs are expected to rise at least 11 percent, and possibly up to 13 percent, in 2016, according to a new report on national trends and projections in prescription drug expenditures.

The report, by a team of experts led by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of
Pharmacy, reviews recent cost changes and future factors likely to influence drug costs in the current year, using the IMS Health National Sales Perspectives (NSP) database.

Contributing to the overall increase, drug spending in clinics will increase 15 percent to 17 percent, while spending in nonfederal hospitals will grow 10 percent to 12 percent, said Glen Schumock, professor and head of pharmacy systems, outcomes and policy at UIC and lead author of the report.

“These estimates for growth are considerably higher than those we have made in the past but consistent with recent trends and other forecasts,” Schumock said. “We have observed consistent increases in growth over the past three years in hospital settings.”

In 2015, drug prices continued a steep climb that began in 2013 in both clinics and nonfederal hospitals. More than $419 billion was spent on prescription drugs last year, an 11.7 percent increase over the previous year. The increase resulted from higher prices for existing drugs (8.4 percent), spending on new drugs (2.7 percent) and changes in the volume of drugs used (0.5 percent), and was higher than anticipated, Schumock said.

“Individual drugs with the greatest increases in expenditures in 2015 were specialty agents and older generics,” he said. “These agents are likely to continue to influence total spending this year.”

The dual combination hepatitis C drug ledipasvir-sofosbuvir was the top drug, accounting for $14.3 billion in expenditures in 2015. It was followed by the rheumatoid arthritis drug adalimumab ($10.6 billion); insulin glargine for diabetes ($9.2 billion); and etanercept (for autoimmune diseases) and rosuvastatin (a statin used to treat high blood pressure to prevent cardiovascular disease), each at about $6.5 billion.

The increase in the number and use of high-priced specialty medications could cause costs to rise even higher this year, Schumock said. These pharmaceuticals will constitute a significant portion of new medications on the market in the future.

Forty-five new medications for complex, chronic or rare diseases such as metastatic breast cancer, plaque psoriasis, cystic fibrosis and pulmonary arterial hypertension were approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2015, and more could be on the way, he said.

In the future, medication costs will also be influenced by an aging patient population, a growing U.S. economy, and greater patient access to healthcare from the Affordable Care Act, Schumock said.

One factor that could inhibit the rising cost of drugs is the introduction of “biosimilars” — biologic products that are nearly identical to an original product that is manufactured by a different company. “Drug spending will be reduced only when there are a sufficient number of these products on the market to create competition and drive down prices,” Schumock said.

The new report is published in the American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy. The forecast is “widely anticipated by hospital and health-system pharmacists each year who use it to help project drug spending and develop drug budgets in their own institutions,” Schumock said.

Co-authors include Edward Li of the University of New England; Katie Suda of UIC and the Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital; Michelle Wiest of the University of Cincinnati; Jo Ann Stubbings of UIC; Linda Matusiak and Robert Hunkler of IMS Health in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania; and Lee Vermeulen of the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

By Sam Hostettler

Breakthrough Research: New Solar Cell Makes Fuel out of Carbon Dioxide

Solar Cell

Amin Salehi-Khojin (left), UIC assistant professor of mechanical and industrial engineering, and postdoctoral researcher Mohammad Asadi with their breakthrough solar cell that converts atmospheric carbon dioxide directly into syngas.

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago have engineered a potentially game-changing solar cell that cheaply and efficiently converts atmospheric carbon dioxide directly into usable hydrocarbon fuel, using only sunlight for energy.

The finding is reported in the July 29 issue ofScience and was funded by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy. A provisional patent application has been filed.

Unlike conventional solar cells, which convert sunlight into electricity that must be stored in heavy batteries, the new device essentially does the work of plants, converting atmospheric carbon dioxide into fuel, solving two crucial problems at once. A solar farm of such “artificial leaves” could remove significant amounts of carbon from the atmosphere and produce energy-dense fuel efficiently.

“The new solar cell is not photovoltaic — it’s photosynthetic,” says Amin Salehi-Khojin, assistant professor of mechanical and industrial engineering at UIC and senior author on the study.

“Instead of producing energy in an unsustainable one-way route from fossil fuels to greenhouse gas, we can now reverse the process and recycle atmospheric carbon into fuel using sunlight,” he said.

While plants produce fuel in the form of sugar, the artificial leaf delivers syngas, or synthesis gas, a mixture of hydrogen gas and carbon monoxide. Syngas can be burned directly, or converted into diesel or other hydrocarbon fuels.

The ability to turn CO2 into fuel at a cost comparable to a gallon of gasoline would render fossil fuels obsolete.

Chemical reactions that convert CO2 into burnable forms of carbon are called reduction reactions, the opposite of oxidation or combustion. Engineers have been exploring different catalysts to drive CO2 reduction, but so far such reactions have been inefficient and rely on expensive precious metals such as silver, Salehi-Khojin said.

“What we needed was a new family of chemicals with extraordinary properties,” he said.

Solar Cell 2

Simulated sunlight powers a solar cell that converts atmospheric carbon dioxide directly into syngas.

Salehi-Khojin and his coworkers focused on a family of nano-structured compounds called transition metal dichalcogenides — or TMDCs — as catalysts, pairing them with an unconventional ionic liquid as the electrolyte inside a two-compartment, three-electrode electrochemical cell.

The best of several catalysts they studied turned out to be nanoflake tungsten diselenide.

“The new catalyst is more active; more able to break carbon dioxide’s chemical bonds,” said UIC postdoctoral researcher Mohammad Asadi, first author on the Science paper.

In fact, he said, the new catalyst is 1,000 times faster than noble-metal catalysts — and about 20 times cheaper.

Other researchers have used TMDC catalysts to produce hydrogen by other means, but not by reduction of CO2. The catalyst couldn’t survive the reaction.

“The active sites of the catalyst get poisoned and oxidized,” Salehi-Khojin said. The breakthrough, he said, was to use an ionic fluid called ethyl-methyl-imidazolium tetrafluoroborate, mixed 50-50 with water.

“The combination of water and the ionic liquid makes a co-catalyst that preserves the catalyst’s active sites under the harsh reduction reaction conditions,” Salehi-Khojin said.

The UIC artificial leaf consists of two silicon triple-junction photovoltaic cells of 18 square centimeters to harvest light; the tungsten diselenide and ionic liquid co-catalyst system on the cathode side; and cobalt oxide in potassium phosphate electrolyte on the anode side.

When light of 100 watts per square meter – about the average intensity reaching the Earth’s surface – energizes the cell, hydrogen and carbon monoxide gas bubble up from the cathode, while free oxygen and hydrogen ions are produced at the anode.

“The hydrogen ions diffuse through a membrane to the cathode side, to participate in the carbon dioxide reduction reaction,” said Asadi.

The technology should be adaptable not only to large-scale use, like solar farms, but also to small-scale applications, Salehi-Khojin said. In the future, he said, it may prove useful on Mars, whose atmosphere is mostly carbon dioxide, if the planet is also found to have water.

“This work has benefitted from the significant history of NSF support for basic research that feeds directly into valuable technologies and engineering achievements,” said NSF program director Robert McCabe.

“The results nicely meld experimental and computational studies to obtain new insight into the unique electronic properties of transition metal dichalcogenides,” McCabe said. “The research team has combined this mechanistic insight with some clever electrochemical engineering to make significant progress in one of the grand-challenge areas of catalysis as related to energy conversion and the environment.”

“Nanostructured transition metal dichalcogenide electrocatalysts for CO2 reduction in ionic liquid” is online at http://www.eurekalert.org/jrnls/sci/ or by contacting scipak@aaas.org.

Co-authors with Asadi and Salehi-Khojin are Kibum Kim, Aditya Venkata Addepalli, Pedram Abbasi, Poya Yasaei, Amirhossein Behranginia, Bijandra Kumar and Jeremiah Abiade of UIC’s mechanical and industrial engineering department, who performed the electrochemical experiments and prepared the catalyst under NSF contract CBET-1512647; Robert F. Klie and Patrick Phillips of UIC’s physics department, who performed electron microscopy and spectroscopy experiments; Larry A. Curtiss, Cong Liu and Peter Zapol of Argonne National Laboratory, who did Density Functional Theory calculations under DOE contract DE-ACO206CH11357; Richard Haasch of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who did ultraviolet photoelectron spectroscopy; and José M. Cerrato of the University of New Mexico, who did elemental analysis.

By Bill Burton

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 www.ngoadvisor.net

Cure Violence (www.cureviolence.org), 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 www.ngoadvisor.net.

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

Dr. Afshari Receives AAFP Baker Award

Afshari.2-260x260The American Academy of Fixed Prosthodontics (AAFP) has presented Dr. Fatemeh Afshari, Clinical Associate Professor, Restorative Dentistry, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry, with the 2016 Claude Baker Faculty Award.

The Baker Award recognizes exceptional dental school junior faculty members in predoctoral fixed prosthodontics teaching. The award acknowledges excellence in teaching demonstrated by innovative teaching methods, student awards, and exceptional course material.

Dr. Afshari was nominated by Dr. Stephen Campbell, Head, Restorative Dentistry, and was chosen by an AAFP standing committee.
She attributed her being honored with the award to several reasons.

“Being fortunate to have myriad opportunities to teach multiple aspects of fixed prosthodontics within the school; all the support and encouragement I have received from my mentors and other faculty at UIC to excel at whatever I do; and the inspiration and drive I get from the students to improve myself and my teaching style with every passing semester,” Dr. Afshari said.

Dr. Judy Yuan, Assistant Professor, Restorative Dentistry, received the award in 2012. Dr. Afshari noted that Dr. Yuan “has served as an outstanding mentor and role model to me and other junior faculty at the school. Without her and Dr. Campbell’s support and mentorship, I would not have received this award.”

Redefining Narratives About Young Black Men


Sakeena Everett, PhD, director of research and outreach for the UIC College of Education’s Black Male Early Literacy Impact Project

One phrase at the UIC College of Education  is the axiom “Black children are brilliant.”  Research from the College’s Sakeena Everett, PhD, director of research and outreach for the College’s Black Male Early Literacy Impact Project, is detailing what this brilliance looks like in schooling contexts.

Everett defined traits of Black male success in secondary education settings as part of her doctoral dissertation, which was recently awarded the 2016 Outstanding Dissertation Award from the Critical Educators for Social Justice Special Interest Group within the American Educational Research Association.

“When we typically think of Black male students, we just don’t assume they are bright,” Everett said.

Everett says research indicates Black males face barriers to achievement through negative profiling and stereotyping, to the extent that their presence is sometimes feared in the classroom.  Her study began in an academic enrichment summer program for rising juniors that focused on understanding Black male success through narrative.  Participants possessed GPAs of 3.0 or better, high ACT scores and eventual full-ride scholarships to college.  Students engaged with critical theories of education to compose narratives describing their experiences in education, essays that in some cases served as college application material.

After the summer program, she built on these writing experiences, working to equip her students with language to defend and define themselves.  Her students read Paulo Freire’s “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” and scholarly journal articles, examining how research reflected—and did not reflect—their experiences as students.

“I wanted them to tap into who they were as raced and gendered beings,” Everett said. “They were able to redefine narratives about young Black men, and they felt really proud of being able to do that.”

Everett tracked these students as they completed their high school education, interviewing students, teachers, administrators, friends and family to gain a nuanced understanding of how the students conceptualized their academic success and what informed and sustained these successes.  She witnessed students’ confidence as writers growing as they progressed through these experiences.

Students in the study represented a broad swath of socioeconomic backgrounds, one from a single-parent home with his mother on public assistance, students from middle class homes and a student from a home in which both parents were educators.  Regardless of socioeconomic status, these students all recognized low expectations society held for them.

These students understood how fragile their position as successful students was because of these expectations.  Everett says they sensed that at any given moment in time, their high grades and scholarships could be taken away at a moment’s notice.  This equipped them with a sense of responsibility to serve as agents of change within their own communities; for example, one student started a writing club in his school, mentoring young Black males who sought careers as journalists and writers.

“I’m particularly proud that this project is very student-centered,” Everett said. “I tried very hard to make sure this project was mutually beneficial, so that students were enriched personally as well as academically.”

By Rob Schroeder

Using Music To Move Through Pain

Music and Pain

College of Nursing faculty Eileen Collins and Ulf Bronas study peripheral artery disease, which makes movement painful. Photo: Roberta Dupuis-Devlin

Music motivates people to get up and move, but does it have the power to encourage people to move even when moving is painful?

UIC researchers from the east and west sides of campus are collaborating on a pilot study to see if music can help patients with peripheral artery disease — which makes movement painful — stick with an exercise regimen.

“We’re trying to find a way to use music to promote exercise and distract from the pain,” said Eileen Collins, professor of the biobehavioral health science in the College of Nursing.

Collins is collaborating on the project with Ulf Bronas, associate professor in the biobehavioral health science department, and Steve Everett, dean of the College of Architecture, Design, and the Arts.

Everett, a noted composer, will manipulate the music so that it encourages patients to get moving.

“He’s able to take the artistic part of music and play with it a little and turn it into science to make the brain and the muscles work together in ways that we don’t think about,” Collins said.

Music Pain 2

Steve Everett, dean of the College of Architecture, Design, and the Arts. Photo: Roberta Dupuis-Devlin

Participants in the pilot study will be patients from the University of Illinois Hospital and the Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital who suffer from peripheral artery disease, a condition that causes claudication — a cramping, painful feeling in the legs.


“These patients are limited to walking half a block to a block before they experience significant leg pain,” Bronas said. “They have to stop and rest three to five minutes, then the pain goes away and they can walk again.”

Age, diabetes and smoking are the major risk factors for the disease, which is improved most effectively through walking. Supervised exercise programs help relieve pain, Collins said, but these programs often are not reimbursed by insurance.

“Patients essentially are told to go home and walk, and they don’t do it because it’s painful,” Collins said.

Researchers aim to create a home-based exercise regimen that participants can stick with on their own.

“We are encouraging walking at home to see if the music makes a difference in how far people walk without pain,” Collins said.

“We want to really empower individuals to take charge of their own health care,” Bronas added.

Everett will create playlists based on musical genres that the participants enjoy and manipulate songs to encourage them to walk.

“We can use music as a way to lessen the pain in certain patients,” Everett said.

The researchers plan to complete the pilot study this summer and submit grant proposals in the fall for a larger study.

Their collaboration was formed by chance when Collins met Everett at a committee meeting. Collins was filling in for a colleague who couldn’t attend the meeting and started talking to Everett about his work, then later realized his expertise could be helpful as she and Bronas discussed research ideas.

“His experience in music as motivation was perfect,” Bronas said. “Meeting new people throughout campus is really important.”

Music also has medical applications beyond peripheral artery disease, Everett said, such as helping patients with Alzheimer’s recall songs they enjoyed in their childhood.

“There are so many areas where people are trying to understand how music has this ability to work with certain medical conditions,” he said. “There are underlying tones that music is not just something for pleasure; it’s something that’s maybe much more critical for our own psychological health.”

The opportunities for students studying music and sound design are expanding far beyond the traditional prospects of composing concert music and designing sound for theater, Everett said. His students are finding jobs using their musical skills in fields such as computational informatics and sonification, which involves using audio to express data.

“Students are finding work in industries now that really 20 years ago weren’t there,” he said.

Collaborations across disciplines are critical for solving problems, Everett said.

“Ideas are no longer formed in silos,” he said. “Great universities have a way to build conversations across silos.”

By Christy Levy

Pellegrino Joins American Academy of Arts & Sciences


James Pellegrino, co-director of the UIC Learning Sciences Research Institute and distinguished professor of liberal arts and sciences, psychology and education

Learning sciences researcher James Pellegrino of the University of Illinois at Chicago has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the nation’s most prestigious honorary societies and research centers.

Pellegrino, co-director of the UIC Learning Sciences Research Institute and distinguished professor of liberal arts and sciences, psychology, and education, is among 213 new members who join some of the world’s most accomplished scholars, scientists, writers and artists, as well as civic, business and philanthropic leaders.

For more than three decades, Pellegrino has produced influential research related to student learning, instruction and assessment. Combining knowledge of cognitive science, assessment, educational technology, instructional practice and educational policy, his work aims to design and deliver new, improved and equitable learning environments.

Throughout his career, he has led large-scale research and development projects for the National Science Foundation, the Institute of Education Sciences and the Office of Naval Research.

Pellegrino’s current research is focused on assessment of student learning in multiple areas of mathematics and science that span kindergarten through college. He was the principal investigator for a NSF grant to the College Board to redesign and improve the Advanced Placement science courses and assessments.

Pellegrino, who came to UIC from Vanderbilt University in 2001, is an American Educational Research Association fellow, a lifetime national associate of the National Academy of Sciences, and a past member of the board on testing and assessment of the National Research Council. In 2007, he was elected to lifetime membership in the National Academy of Education.

The new academy members will be inducted at an Oct. 8 ceremony, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Members of the 2016 class include winners of the Pulitzer Prize and the Wolf Prize; MacArthur and Guggenheim Fellowships; the Fields Medal; and the Grammy Award and National Book Award. Founded in 1780, the academy is one of the country’s oldest learned societies and independent policy research centers, convening leaders from the academic, business, and government sectors to respond to the challenges facing the nation and the world.

By Brian Flood

Dr. Doubleday Honored For Teaching Excellence


Dr. Alison Doubleday, Assistant Professor, Oral Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry

The American Dental Education Association (ADEA) has selected Dr. Alison Doubleday, Assistant Professor, Oral Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry, as the 2016 ADEA/Colgate-Palmolive Co. Excellence in Teaching Award recipient.

According to a written statement provided by Dr. Richard W. Valachovic, President and CEO of ADEA, “each year, ADEA and the Colgate-Palmolive Co. recognize one dental educator who demonstrates exemplary standards and promotes excellence in dental education through scholarship and innovation.”

Dr. Doubleday was nominated by a UIC College of Dentistry committee consisting of Dean Clark Stanford; Dr. Richard Monahan, Head of Oral Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences; peer faculty; and a student representative.

Dr. Doubleday was also required to provide a personal statement outlining her teaching philosophy, her personal educational development, and her plans for advancing the scholarship of teaching and learning.

“I am incredibly grateful to the nominating committee for their efforts, as I’m sure that I was selected as a result of their generous support,” Dr. Doubleday said.
The award brings a stipend of $2,500.

“I hope to use the funds to support learning for the biomedical sciences at the UIC College of Dentistry,” Dr. Doubleday said. “I intend to invest in resources that will help our students learn the biomedical foundations of dentistry and will allow them to review and apply the biomedical sciences to their clinical practice.”

Dr. Doubleday stressed her gratitude to ADEA and Colgate-Palmolive “for highlighting the important role that dental educators play in supporting and guiding dental students,” she said. “I believe I have a responsibility to my students to do everything I can to help them learn and to assist them along their path to academic and professional success. I take this responsibility very seriously.”

She also expressed her appreciation to her colleagues and the administration at the College, and to the students “for helping me remain curious about the world around me and for constantly inspiring me to try new things.”

Dr. Doubleday received her award at the ADEA Annual Session and Exhibition in Denver in March.