2020 Showalter Scholars selected
Anna Carrera Oct 14, 2020
The 2020 Showalter Scholars were announced during a virtual event on September 29. The program was created to support faculty whose scientific expertise and productivity have resulted in significant contributions to the IU School of Medicine and the greater research community. The areas of research eligible for funding are broad and described by the benefactors as the type of medical research that is most likely to permanently benefit mankind. This year’s scholars are:
- David Basile, PhD, a professor of anatomy, cell biology & physiology, whose research focus is on acute renal injury
- Ankit Desai, MD, as associate professor of medicine, whose research focus is on inflammatory mechanisms
- Kathleen Unroe, MD, an associate professor of medicine, whose research focus is on ways to improve care in nursing homes
- Tao Lu, PhD, an associate professor of pharmacology & toxicology, whose research focus is on pancreatic cancer
The scholars must be current full-time faculty members at IU School of Medicine with a rank of assistant professor or assistant scientist. They can receive up to $75,000 through the program. Two of this year’s selected scholars also gave presentations during the event.
Unroe was the first scholar to present during the meeting. Her presentation was about improving care in nursing homes, and she mentioned that this was the first talk she had given in some time that wasn’t specifically about COVID-19.
“Even prior to COVID-19 and the devastation of these last several months, we’ve been plagued with challenges in this setting,” said Unroe. “Chronic staffing shortages and having supportive and meaningful relationships with other settings of care, such as hospitals, have also been challenging.”
Unroe also talked about a study she just finished working on, Optimizing Patient Transfers, Impacting Medical Quality, and Improving Symptoms: Transforming Institutional Care (OPTIMISTIC). In the first phase of the project (2012-2016), registered nurses and nurse practitioners were embedded in 19 central Indiana nursing facilities in an effort to reduce avoidable hospitalizations. The nurses helped care for patients, as well as supporting and teaching staff to hone their skills and improve the quality of geriatric medical practice and palliative care. The study team found significantly better outcomes in nursing homes utilizing the program during the first phase and expanded during the second phase (2016-2020) by testing in 25 more facilities around the state. Unroe explained the importance of collaboration through the project.
“We held quarterly advisory board meetings during the eight years of this project, including people from industry, state government, our other university partners and importantly the trade organizations,” said Unroe. “Convening this group and getting to know the stakeholders has been really important in terms of being able to do other research projects. It’s the only reason I feel confident launching a clinical trial during a pandemic, because they know us and we understand their systems.”
The other scientists who presented research during the meeting included:
- Quyen Hoang, PhD, (2013 Young Investigator), associate professor of biochemistry & molecular biology: Molecular Mechanism of LRRK2-associated Parkinson’s disease
- Tao Lu, PhD, (2020 Showalter Scholar, 2014 & 2016 Young Investigator), associate professor of pharmacology & toxicology: PRMT5, a novel therapeutic target in cancer
- Ronald Wek, PhD, (Showalter Professor of Biochemistry, 2009 – present): Integrated Stress Response in Health and Disease
Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CTSI) co-director Dr. Sharon Moe, MD, is one of the Showalter trustees.
Dr. Tatiana Foroud, PhD, who is the IU School of Medicine Executive Associate Dean for Research Affairs, led the meeting. Foroud also leads the IU Grand Challenge Precision Health Initiative.
Research Communications Manager