News Roundup

News and research articles from our latest issue.

$11.7M from NIH to Fund Udall Center of Excellence in Parkinson's Disease Research

U-M clinician-researchers, led by Roger Albin, M.D., the Anne B. Young Collegiate Professor of Neurology, codirector of the U-M Movement Disorders Division, and director of the U-M Parkinson's Foundation Research Center of Excellence, were awarded a five-year $11.7 million grant from the National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke (NINDS) to re-establish a Morris K. Udall Center of Excellence in Parkinson's Disease Research.

NINDS previously funded the U-M Udall Center from 2015-2020. There are five Udall Centers nationwide, established in memory of Congressman Morris K. Udall of Arizona, who passed away from Parkinson's Disease (PD) in 1998.

Up to 70% of patients with PD fall each year, quadrupling the rate of hip fractures that can lead to extended hospitalizations, increased use of skilled nursing facilities, and eventual nursing home placement. U-M scientists have uncovered evidence that these falls and related gait problems stem from degeneration of brain cells that use the neurochemical messenger acetylcholine. This grant funds four interrelated projects designed to better understand the relationship between falls, other gait problems, cognitive impairments, and deficits of brain acetylcholine cells.

Podcast Answers Top Googled Health Questions

A new podcast called "Michigan Answers" features Michigan Medicine physicians answering the top 5-6 Googled questions on a particular health topic. Hosted by Preeti Malani, M.D., chief health officer of Michigan Medicine and professor of internal medicine, the podcast debuted in October. The inaugural episode on autism featured Jenny Radesky, M.D., assistant professor of pediatrics, answering questions such as "What is autism?" and "How do you know if someone has autism? Is there a test?" Episodes since then have covered topics such as anxiety, weight loss, blood pressure, knee pain, and plantar fasciitis. You can find all of the episodes at

Medical Student Wins Poetry Contest

M2 Kristin Geczi channeled grief about her grandfather's death into a poem that won third place in a national contest organized by Baylor College of Medicine. Geczi's grandfather died during her obstetrics and gynecology rotation in November 2020. "While I was delivering babies and had the privilege of being present for an incredibly happy time in someone's life, my heart was also breaking because my favorite person was no longer here," she says. "I wrote the poem about that experience of welcoming a new life while also grieving the loss of a life."

Babies and Books

In September, U-M C.S. Mott Children's Hospital staff and leadership participated in the national Babies with Books NICU Read-a-thon. Guest services specialist Kevin Chen (above) reads to baby Cora.

A High-Risk, High-Reward Approach to ALS

Neurologists say it's time for a moonshot for their patients with ALS, the neurodegenerative disease that is always deadly, often in just a few years or less. ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, hijacks people's ability to move, and ultimately, to breathe. Clinicians know there is some combination of genetic susceptibility and environmental factors, but they usually can't tell a patient what specifically sparked their disease. They also can't slow it down.

Now, a $3.6 million project funded by the National Institutes of Health will allow a team of experts to intensely explore the intersection of environmental exposures, genetics, inflammation, and other factors, in order to better determine what makes someone more likely to develop ALS.

"We need to understand the mechanisms by which these exposures cause disease so that we can begin to develop treatments that are personalized to an individual's previous exposure," said co-principal investigator Stephen Goutman, M.D., M.S., associate professor of neurology and director of the Pranger ALS Clinic.

Researchers will compare blood samples from 400 patients with ALS who have contributed to the U-M ALS Biorepository, housed in the Feldman laboratory, to a control group of 200 blood samples from research participants without ALS. The team will also analyze individual environmental exposures and polygenic risk scores to build new computer models for ALS risk and prediction.

"Given that we are seeing more and more individuals with ALS every year, there is no better time than now to initiate these important investigations," said co-principal investigator Eva Feldman, M.D., Ph.D., the Russell N. DeJong Professor of Neurology, and director of the ALS Center of Excellence and the NeuroNetwork for Emerging Therapies. Several co-principal investigators and co-investigators are from Michigan Medicine, the U-M School of Public Health, and other schools and colleges around U-M.

Michigan Medicine hospitals ranked best in Michigan, No. 11 in the U.S. by U.S. News & World Report

Michigan Medicine's adult hospitals were ranked best in Michigan and 11th in the nation by U.S. News & World Report "Best Hospitals" rankings for 2021-2022. This prestigious honor measures excellence in patient care. Michigan Medicine joins only six other hospitals in the nation as being ranked high performing in all of the conditions and procedures evaluated. The organization had three medical specialties ranked in the nation's top 10, and 10 medical specialties ranked in the nation's top 20.

Michigan Medicine 2021-22 National Rankings by Specialty:

Honor Roll (#11)

Cancer (#36)

Cardiology & Heart Surgery (#20)

Diabetes and Endocrinology (#10)

Ear, Nose & Throat (#9)

Gastroenterology & GI Surgery (#13)

Geriatrics (#12)

Gynecology (#40)

Neurology and Neurosurgery (#15)

Ophthalmology (#8)

Orthopedics (#20)

Pulmonology (#15)

Rehabilitation (#25)

Urology (#10)

Metro Health-University of Michigan Health Renames as University of Michigan Health-West

Building on a nearly 80-year legacy of progressive, innovative, patient-centered care, Metro Health-University of Michigan Health has adopted a new name that more accurately reflects its role as part of one of the nation's leading health care organizations and the state's No. 1 ranked health system.

The transition to becoming University of Michigan Health-West is the result of nearly five years of expanding achievements, technology, and capabilities as the premier affiliate of University of Michigan Health.

"The new name is a natural next step and our teams are proud of the role we play as part of one of the world's most respected health systems," said CEO Peter Hahn, M.D., MBA.

"This new name is a better reflection of how this affiliation has grown and signals our path forward," said Marschall S. Runge, M.D., Ph.D., CEO of Michigan Medicine, dean of the U-M Medical School, and executive vice president for medical affairs at U-M. "We know that our continued close collaboration, partnerships, and expansion of care will benefit the patients of West Michigan. We are proud of where this affiliation has led us and excited about the future."

Puppy Love

Photo by Heather Meyer, posted to Instagram October 4, 2021.

Jackson, age 8, recently had a series of strokes. He was a bit shy at first and nervous to participate in therapies at at C.S. Mott Children's Hospital. Then he met Anna and Bindi, two of the Paws for Patients dogs. They have helped Jackson get more comfortable with his doctors and therapists, and he's made great progress in gaining movement in his right arm. 

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