Illinois Medicine

Vol. 21 - Spring 2018

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Page 21 of 51

2 0 | S P R I N G 2 0 1 8 Amin-Hanjani, MD. "As the department's co-clinical director and residency program director, Sepideh has also been working on guidelines for stroke at a national level," says Charbel. In fact, the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System has been designated by The Joint Commission and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association as a Comprehensive Stroke Center, a recognition of its status as an in- dustry leader in setting the national agenda for highly specialized stroke care. Illinois Medicine is also taking a quantitative approach to aneurysms. "Just as we did with Veritas, we are working with engineering at UIC and other universities, studying the walls of aneurysms to see what makes one more prone to rupture than an- other," says Charbel, who has personally treated more than 6,000 aneurysms. "We then want to investigate what we can develop to help us determine a rupture before it occurs." In addition, the department is working on strategies to use magnetically guided nanoparticles that deliver therapeutic agents directly to tumors in the spinal cord, without patients suffering from systemic toxicity. Such work is spearheaded by Ankit Mehta, MD, who also has been screening for depression with spine dis- ease, investigating how it could affect patient outcomes. "We believe in a data-driven approach to care and are never satisfied with the way things are today," says Charbel. "We can always do better tomorrow." Psychiatry: At the forefront of addressing mental health needs ILLINOIS MEDICINE'S DEPARTMENT OF PSYCHIATRY is uniquely positioned as the top-ranked NIH-funded department of its kind in the Chicago area to pursue its quest for brain health advancements. And the need has never been greater. According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, approximately one in five adults experiences mental illness in a given year. "Our Alcohol Research Center, directed by Subhash Pandey [PhD] is the only alcohol center funded by the NIH in Illinois and the only one to focus on epigenetics, the field of molecular science that looks at the connection between environmental stressors and molecular mechanisms of gene expression in the brain," says Anand Kumar, MD, department head and Lizzie Gilman Professor of Psychiatry. The department is also using neuroimaging tech- niques, such as functional and structural MRIs, to understand brain function, connectivity and neural networks. For example, K. Luan Phan, MD and Heide Klumpp, PhD, are using the technology to measure brain changes that occur in post-traumatic brain disorders and anxiety, particularly in response to treatment through medication or cog- nitive behavioral therapy. Other physician scientists such as Olusola Ajilore, MD, PhD, and Alex Leow, MD, PhD (see p. 10), are using connectomics, mathematical models to study connectivity in the brain, while Scott Langenecker, PhD, is a cognitive neuroscientist working to understand the mechanisms of depression and mood disorders. To support the estimated 14.8 million U.S. adults affected by depression, the University of Illinois Center for Depression and Resilience (UICDR) was launched in 2014. This multi- disciplinary initiative, modeled after the collaborative approach of the National Cancer Institute, brings together clinicians, edu- cators and researchers in a team science approach to address mental illness and disease. The UICDR is part of the National Network of Depression Centers, a nonprofit research consortium located in 26 sites across the country. "We are the only NNDC site in Chicago focused on the clinical and research aspects of mood disor- ders," says Kumar. The collaborative work of the UICDR is already showing promise. For example, Phan is leading the effort for Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, a noninvasive form of brain stimulation that uses magnetic coils to treat depression. "RTMS provides another modality for patients who have not responded well to other types of treatment," says Kumar. Whether through translational research or clinically, the depart- ment is committed to delivering new mental health strategies and treatments across the human lifespan. For example, the Institute for Juvenile Research, headed by Marc Atkins, PhD, is focused on identifying, preventing and treating behavioral, social or emotional difficulties among children and adolescents. On a national level, the department is aligned with The Kennedy Forum, a public interest organization that fights the stigma of mental illness, but it also has a pervasive local presence. "We are proud of our strong commitment to improving mental health in underserved communities," says Kumar. "At Illinois Medicine, we have integrated research, patient care and education," he says. "We are in a unique position of training the next generation and are at the cutting edge of conducting research that brings meaningful change into the lives of patients that are often underserved. We're tackling brain health as it's never been done before." "We are in a unique position of training the next generation and are at the cutting edge of conducting research that brings meaningful change into the lives of patients that are often underserved. We're tackling brain health as it's never been done before." — Anand Kumar, MD, department head and the Lizzie Gilman Professor of Psychiatry

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