Archive for November, 2014

Rider Appreciation Day Winner

On Nov. 6, Parking Parking and Transportation Services (PTS) held a Rider Appreciation Day as a special thank you to University of Maryland, Baltimore students, faculty and staff as well as UMMC employees who ride the UM shuttle. Riders who swiped their UMID that day were entered into a drawing to win an iPad Air. On Nov. 20, PTS held the drawing and chose Nathaniel Thomas, academic coordinator for the School of Pharmacy, as the winner. Congratulations, Nathaniel!


Clare BanksContests, People, University LifeNovember 25, 20140 comments
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Presenters/Volunteers Needed for ChristmaHannuKwanza: A Winter Celebration

Interprofessional Student Learning & Service Initiatives (ISLSI) would like to partner with you to celebrate and learn more about the unique traditions and celebrations occurring in various cultures and religions during the winter months.

About the Event

This event is scheduled for Monday, Dec 15 from noon to 2 p.m. in the SMC Campus Center Fireplace Lounge. Volunteers are needed to serve as presenters at this event and  to represent people from a variety of cultural and religious backgrounds.

Each cultural and religious celebration will give a 10 minute presentation on the practices and meaning of their traditions.

Spread the word and email Ebony Nicholson if you and your group are interested in presenting at this event.

All are welcome and food will be provided!

Additional Contacts for Information

Pam Miller, program manager, 410-706-1478
Courtney Jones, director of ISLSI, 410-706-7438

Ebony NicholsonUniversity LifeNovember 21, 20141 comment
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From Discovery to Startup

Each year, Phil Robilotto, DO, MBA, is briefed on nearly 200 ideas developed by scientists at the University of Maryland, Baltimore—inventions, innovations, and applications that can make surgeries safer, more effectively diagnose disease, cut health care costs, or quicken recovery times. Robilotto’s job as UMB’s chief commercialization officer is to find from among these ideas—most of them incredibly good, he says—the ones with the best shot at making it into the marketplace.

“We get everything the University inventors come up with—for instance, a new medical device, therapeutic, or medication in the very early stage,” says Robilotto. “The scientists disclose the potential product or process to us, and then we have to evaluate whether it’s something we can patent or copyright or otherwise protect. When we move forward with an invention, we’re ultimately trying to market it and find a partner for it. We want to put it in the hands of someone who can further develop and commercialize the technology for us.”

When possible, Robilotto says, he’d like the team of people commercializing the technology to include the people who invented it in the first place. That’s how UMB-born inventions become Baltimore-based startups.

It’s a process Chris Meenan knows well. Meenan is many things: a faculty researcher in the School of Medicine, a systems engineer, a business school student. He’s also co-founder and CEO of Analytical Informatics (AI) [], a Baltimore startup whose software drives quality and efficiency improvements in hospitals and other health care settings.

Meenan started AI with fellow members of the School of Medicine’s imaging informatics team. He knew the platform technology and applications they were developing could dramatically improve operational efficiency and decision-making by aggregating health care data and giving providers real-time access to it.

Robilotto agreed. He and his team in the UM Ventures Office of Technology Transfer [] helped Meenan secure the license agreements that made AI’s launch possible. The team quickly drove the company from concept to commercialization, acquiring funding and customers along the way.

“Analytical Informatics may be one startup case study, but it’s not the only one,” says Robilotto. “We’re forming successful commercial ventures based on the University’s IP [intellectual property] with greater frequency now.”

His expertise in doing just that made Robilotto the perfect fit for a University looking to accelerate its technology transfer and commercialization efforts. He came to UMB in 2011, as the University began a focused effort to grow its intellectual property portfolio and more effectively leverage that property through licensing or startup development. Robilotto’s résumé includes nearly 20 years of clinical practice experience and a string of pharmaceutical/biotechnology business development successes on behalf of top U.S. life sciences companies.

Robilotto now leads a growing team of IP managers, technology licensing officers, and business development professionals hired to expand the University’s capacity in technology assessment, market analysis, and commercialization—to improve the speed and precision with which faculty ideas find their way out of the University and into the marketplace.

To do that, Robilotto and his team watch for the right mix of ideas, innovation, and commercial potential. “By encouraging entrepreneurship among our students and faculty and providing them expert advice and business services, we’ll help more discoveries reach the market,” Robilotto says. “And by engaging directly with external partners, we’re inviting new investment into the University, expanding the markets for our commercial offerings, and bringing more startup ventures to fruition.”

The economic development stimulated by this work isn’t important to UMB alone. It’s a statewide priority that got a boost a few years ago with the establishment of UM Ventures, a joint initiative of UMB and the University of Maryland, College Park. UM Ventures fuels commercialization by creating interdisciplinary teams of clinicians, engineers, lawyers, and business experts to find the best discoveries and technologies of both universities and more aggressively move them into the marketplace; by providing the business community one point of entry to unified licensing and patenting services; and by streamlining processes that enhance technology transfer and industry collaboration.

The year before Robilotto arrived at UMB, UM Ventures Baltimore logged 88 invention disclosures. In fiscal year 2014, that number was 170. Annual licensing agreements had more than doubled to 30. And startups are now poised to grow significantly with the recent expansion of UMB’s New Ventures team.

Meanwhile, Analytical Informatics is on a roll as well. Thanks to doing the right work up front and the assistance provided by Robilotto and UM Ventures, AI was named a semi-finalist in 43North, the world’s largest business idea competition. The company has attracted funding from a variety of sources, including the Maryland Innovation Initiative of TEDCO (the state’s leading provider of entrepreneurial business assistance and seed funding for tech-based startups). And with 10 health care clients on its customer list—hospitals, hospital systems, and health IT vendors—AI is on its way to achieving the mission that’s guided Meenan and his team from the start: Solve real problems in health care by revolutionizing health care technology.

Clare BanksCollaboration, People, Research, Technology, UMB NewsNovember 20, 20140 comments
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Fighting for Justice

A violent attack in 2004 began Laura Dunn’s decade-long work fighting for victims’ rights and shaped her path to the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law.

Two men, fellow members of her college crew team, sexually assaulted Dunn when she was a freshman at the University of Wisconsin, Madison (UW). Dunn didn’t report the crime for months. When she did, her earlier reluctance to speak out appeared well-founded. Dunn began a protracted―and ultimately unsuccessful―struggle for justice at the campus, criminal, civil, and federal levels. These battles spurred Dunn to take up the cause for others, and she became a nationally recognized advocate for victims of campus sexual assault.

“I was denied justice at every single route, and I followed those routes pretty far,” says Dunn. “That’s how I learned the law, became passionate, and understood what victims need and deserve to navigate the system, because it’s not easy.”

For a while, Dunn wanted to become a litigator and fight for survivors in court. But as she traveled the nation, working with survivors, activists, and policymakers, she realized a law degree would also help her become a more effective advocate and make badly needed changes to institutional policies and federal legislation governing how victims of sexual assault are treated.

One of the things that sold Dunn on the Maryland Carey School of Law was the fact that her interview committee asked about the Title IX complaint she filed against UW―the complaint that had garnered so much media attention―and was clearly impressed by her work. Dunn found that surprising because she says most schools don’t want someone to enroll who’s actually challenged a school’s policies. “But Maryland [Carey School of Law] isn’t about institutional protectionism,” Dunn says. “They’re about the public interest.”

Dunn graduated in 2014, after spending her law school years balancing classes, competing on the National Trial Team and Moot Court Board, and working at a law firm and at the Justice Department―all while continuing her advocacy efforts.

Those efforts included serving as the primary student negotiator on a federal rulemaking committee during her final semester. Dunn’s committee developed proposed regulations for the 2013 Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization, which amends the Clery Act so that schools are required to expand campus crime reporting to include stalking, domestic and dating violence, and sexual assault; to enhance sexual violence prevention and education; and to supply victims’ rights information during campus disciplinary proceedings. Dunn chaired the Stalking Subcommittee.

Dunn is especially proud of a provision she helped get passed―one that extends to victims the right to an advisor of their choice during disciplinary hearings. Many universities, Dunn explains, wanted to limit advisors to someone within the university system. Allowing advisors from outside the system diminishes the likelihood that they’d protect institutional interests above the students they’re serving.

“I introduce her as my hero,” says S. Daniel Carter, director of the 32 National Campus Safety Initiative, who served on the rulemaking committee with Dunn. “In my two-decade career as a victims’ rights and campus safety advocate, having worked with three national organizations focused in these areas, I have never known anyone more dedicated or competent than Ms. Dunn.”

It’s estimated that one in five women is sexually assaulted in college, a number so large that in 2014 President Obama convened the White House Task Force to Protect Students From Sexual Assault. Dunn served in an advisory role to the task force and was a VIP guest of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden when the White House released its first report. Dunn credits the task force’s website,, with bringing national attention to SurvJustice [], the nonprofit she launched during law school.

SurvJustice helps survivors of sexual violence in the way Dunn wishes she had been helped a decade earlier. She founded the organization with a friend who had also been assaulted at UW. The two women want survivors to know that “at the moment of crisis, they can come to us.” A primary goal is to immediately secure for survivors a lawyer who will ensure that their privacy is protected, their rights are asserted, and that they won’t be re-victimized by the system.

Another goal is to empower fellow activists. “There’s a lot of great leadership out there, and it’s spreading across this country,” Dunn says. “I want to invest in their potential.”

While still in law school, Dunn sought out the guidance of professor Paula Monopoli, JD, founding director of the Women, Leadership & Equality Program. One of the goals of the program, says Monopoli, is to “develop both persistence and resilience in the Program Fellows. I couldn’t be prouder of Laura beginning her nonprofit. It’s the next logical step in her commitment to gender equality and justice.”

Dunn now works full time for SurvJustice, headquartered in Washington, DC. Since its founding, the organization has helped more than 100 survivors and filed about 30 federal complaints against noncompliant colleges and universities. Dunn travels a great deal, consulting on campus sexual assault policies and training students and administrators in preventing and responding to gender-based violence. She’s also working with members of the Maryland General Assembly to introduce affirmative consent legislation in spring 2015.

Dunn admits it hasn’t been easy juggling all she’s taken on. “It’s definitely a delicate balance to keep my heart and my passion in it but also make sure I’m not pushing myself to a place where I can’t keep going and recover from seeing some of these tragedies,” she says.

Dunn knows that change comes when there are dedicated people fighting for what’s right. “A measure of justice is given every time I share my story,” she says. “I didn’t get justice, and for that reason I’m now creating justice for others. I hope it leads to real change. I hope it inspires survivors and gives them power.”

Clare BanksEducation, Global & Community Engagement, People, UMB NewsNovember 20, 20142 comments
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Nominations Requested for the 2015 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Diversity Recognition Awards

The UMB President’s Diversity Advisory Council (DAC) is pleased to announce the 2015 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Diversity Recognition Award. This annual award recognizes individual or group achievement in the areas of diversity and inclusiveness, as well as highlights our University’s steadfast commitment to promoting diversity as one of our core values. The recipients’ personal and/or professional work must serve as testament of the ideals epitomized by the life and work of Dr. King.

Award Categories

Three award categories will be presented. Individuals or groups will be recognized in the following categories:

  • Outstanding UMB faculty or unit
  • Outstanding UMB staff or unit
  • Outstanding UMB student or student group

In addition to the underlying principles outlined above, the DAC will use the criteria outlined on the nomination form when evaluating all nominations. Nominators are encouraged to address as many of the criteria as appropriate. Self-nominations are acceptable.

Deadline Information

All nominations are due to Vanessa Fahie, PhD, RN, no later than noon on Wednesday, Dec. 10. Please pass this on to your constituencies so that all may have the opportunity to nominate.

The awards will be presented at the MLK/Black History Month event in February.

If you have questions, please email Vanessa Fahie, the DAC MLK Jr. award committee chair, or call 6-7501.

Please consider submitting a nomination briefly highlighting the wonderful work of a student, group of students, a staff member, or faculty member. Your nominations will be greatly appreciated.

Thank you for your commitment to diversity at UMB!

Fill out my online form.

Vanessa FahieCollaboration, Education, Global & Community Engagement, People, UMB News, University LifeNovember 20, 20141 comment
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Charity Golf Tournament

Annual Charity Golf Tournament

Last May, the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) hosted the 29th annual charity golf tournament at the Oakmont Green Golf Club in Hampstead, Md.

The event raised $2,137, which was donated to the Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science. 144 staff, students, and friends comprised a full field.

Stay tuned for more information regarding this year’s tournament to be held in the spring of 2015!

IM Sports StaffCollaboration, Global & Community Engagement, People, University LifeNovember 19, 20140 comments
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Annual School of Nursing Career Fair

The University of Maryland School of Nursing is hosting its annual career fair in the Southern Management Corporation Campus Center on Monday, Dec 1. The career fair is open to undergraduate and graduate nursing students and alumni. There will be employers and graduate schools from across the country in attendance.

In preparation, the Student Success Center will offer a variety of career development workshops. Students are able to register for the workshops in TutorTrac. Alumni and students can visit the Career Fair website for additional information.

Dardanelles EstesClinical Care, UMB News, University LifeNovember 18, 20141 comment
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Graduate Program in Life Sciences Holds Annual Awards Ceremony

The Graduate Program in Life Sciences held its annual awards ceremony on Oct. 30.

From left to right are the awardees along E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, dean of the School of Medicine, vice president for medical affairs, and John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor.


Gabrielle Eades, Graduate Program in Molecular Medicine, PhD Thesis Award Recipient

Clare Rock, MS, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, MS Scholar Award Recipient

Grace Maldarelli, Graduate Program in Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, PhD Scholar Award Recipient

Rasheeda Johnson, Doctoral Program in Gerontology, The Elaine Miye Otani Memorial Award

Christopher Coleman, PhD, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Postdoctoral Scholar Award

Mark Williams, PhD, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, GPILS Teacher of the Year Award

Foyeke DaramolaPeople, UMB News, University LifeNovember 18, 20140 comments
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Terri Ottosen, MLIS, AHIP, consumer health outreach coordinator, National Network of Libraries of Medicine Southeast/Atlantic Region, Health Sciences and Human Services Library (HS/HSL), was elected chair of the Mid-Atlantic Chapter (MAC) of the Medical Library Association (MLA) for 2015-2016. Katherine Downton, MSLIS, research, education and outreach and School of Nursing librarian, HS/HSL, was elected secretary of MAC-MLA for 2015-2016.


Vineet Dhar, PhD, MDS, associate professor and graduate program director in the Division of Pediatric Dentistry, delivered the presentation “Fissure Sealants — An Evidence-Based Review” during the 36th National Conference of the Indian Society of Pedodontics and Preventive Dentistry, held in Lucknow, India, in October.

Marion Manski, MS ’04, RDH, assistant professor and director of the Division of Dental Hygiene, was named to the editorial advisory board of the journal Dimensions of Dental Hygiene.


Larry Gibson, LLB, professor, presented the 2014 Mencken Day Memorial Lecture “H. L. Mencken: Racist Bigot or Civil Rights Advocate?” in September at the Enoch Pratt Free Library’s central library in Baltimore. Gibson, named the 2014 H.L. Mencken Scholar earlier this year, is the first African-American to receive the honor.

Students David Lewis and Joseph Sedtal are the National Sports Law Negotiation Competition 2014 champions. They beat more than 30 teams during the competition, which was held in San Diego in September.

Michael Millemann, JD, Jacob A. France Professor of Public Interest Law, received this year’s Maryland Bar Foundation Award for the Advancement of Unpopular Causes.


Alash’le Abimiku, PhD, associate professor in the Division of Epidemiology and Prevention, Institute of Human Virology, was made a Member of the Order of the Niger of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by Nigerian President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan during a ceremony in September. The award recognizes Nigerians for outstanding service to their country. Abimiku is the executive director (laboratory diagnostics and research) of the Institute of Human Virology-Nigeria, which she co-founded.MEDICINE-Bearer

Cynthia Bearer, MD, the Mary Gray Cobey Professor of Neonatology in the Department of Pediatrics, was appointed the American Society of Pediatrics‘ representative to the Pediatric Policy Council.

Claire Fraser, PhD, professor in the Department of Medicine and the Department of Microbiology & Immunology, and director of the Institute for Genome Sciences, received the 2014 Drexel Prize in Infectious Disease during the International Symposium on Molecular Medicine and Infectious Disease, held at the Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia in June.


Katherine Fornili, MPH, assistant professor, represented the International Nurses Society on Addictions during the 25th-anniversary celebration of National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month, held at the White House in September.

Louise Jenkins, PhD ’85, MS ’81, RN, professor and director of the Institute for Educators in Nursing and Health Professions, was inducted as a fellow of the National League for Nursing’s Academy of Nursing Education. Jenkins was recognized for her contributions to faculty development in the Maryland area.

Valerie Rogers, PhD ’09, MS ’98, RN, CNRP, was promoted to assistant professor, tenure track.

Debra Wiegand, PhD, RN, FAAN, associate professor, was invited to teach in the first Critical Care End of Life Nursing Education Consortium, a program held in Kyoto, Japan, in September.


Student Jillian Aquino received a School of Pharmacy Student Government Association Leadership Award.

Mary Lynn McPherson, PharmD, professor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science, was awarded the Dr. J. Marvin Cook Outstanding Student Award from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Leah Sera, PharmD, assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science, was elected secretary/treasurer of the American College of Clinical Pharmacy’s Pain and Palliative Care Practice and Research Network.

Angela Wilks, PhD, professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, was named the 2014 Maryland Chemist of the Year by the Maryland chapter of the American Chemical Society.


Roger Friedman, PhD, adjunct faculty member, delivered the keynote address during the inaugural Strengthening Colorado FamSOCIAL-WORK-Leeilies and Communities Conference, held in Keystone, Colo., in September.

Bethany Lee, PhD, associate professor and associate dean for research, delivered the keynote address “Outcomes in Residential Education: What We Know and What We Need to Know” during the Coalition for Residential Education’s 20th-anniversary conference, held in Hershey, Pa., in September.

Terry Shaw, PhD, associate professor, is now director of the Ruth H. Young Center for Children and Families.

Jeffrey Singer, MSW, adjunct faculty member, received the 2014 Outstanding Practitioner Award from the Association for Community Organization and Social Administration. Singer was honored for his work as executive director of Health Care for the Homeless in Baltimore.

Ronald HubePeople, UMB NewsNovember 17, 20140 comments
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Caring for the Caregivers

Kaila Williams is just 24 years old, but her academic and professional interests have long skewed toward generations much older than her own. Williams, MSW, a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Social Work, traces her interest in the elderly to dinnertime conversations with her father, an accountant whose work with hospitals and nonprofits made him something of an expert in Medicare reimbursement. With Americans living considerably longer than they did years ago and baby boomers burdening an already strained health financing system, Williams says she saw a critical need for more practitioners in aging.

Williams earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and sociology from Jacksonville University in Florida. She’d planned to pursue her doctorate in psychology but liked the relative flexibility provided by social work, whose areas of specialization are less rigid than psychology’s. Even so, Williams acknowledges she’ll probably never take advantage of the flexibility her choice offers. Aging, it seems, has her attention―and her heart.

That passion led Williams to work with assistant professor John Cagle, PhD, MSW, whose research focuses on hospice and palliative care, psychosocial aspects of pain and pain management, and caregiving at the end of life. With Cagle, Williams gained significant experience in the areas she was increasingly drawn to: hospice and issues of terminal illness as well as the stress experienced by family members responsible for end-of-life care. She collected assessment data on the social work services provided to hospices; she co-authored articles on interprofessional education and communication in palliative care; and she researched caregiver burden.

“Caregivers are less likely to seek preventative care. They’re less likely to look after themselves physically―in terms of exercising or eating healthy foods. They’re more likely to have high, chronic stress. They’re pressured financially, physically, and emotionally,” Williams says. “If we can help them with their quality of life, maybe they’ll be less burned out and more able to enjoy their last days with their loved ones.”

It was to this end that Williams developed an eight-week course for family caregivers that combines aspects of counseling with yoga, meditation, and breath work (promoting relaxation through the conscious control of breathing).

An avid yoga practitioner, Williams completed a yoga teacher training program through the Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. She simultaneously developed the caregiver course, which the center’s teachers evaluated for safety and efficacy.

The course builds more than mental and physical resiliency. It builds community, which is essential for caregivers whose 24/7 responsibilities can make them feel isolated and alone. “The point is to get the caregivers acclimated to themselves―to their own emotions―and to each other. I want them to be able to talk about some of their issues, how they’re feeling,” Williams says. Yoga practice, meditation, and breathing exercises are bookended by these opportunities to talk and share with one another―as Williams puts it, to forge “a connection to others who are going through the same thing.”

Williams looks at the challenges of end-of-life care through a holistic lens. As one of eight students chosen as fellows for the 2013‒14 UMB President’s Symposium and White Paper Project, Williams partnered with peers in the graduate school and the schools of law, pharmacy, and medicine to identify and overcome obstacles to interprofessional education and collaboration. Interprofessionalism is especially important in the highly interdisciplinary specialty of gerontology, where researchers and practitioners from more than a dozen fields study the complex social, psychological, and biological aspects of aging. It was this same drive to see the big picture that led Williams to work with the National Association of Social Workers and Students United for Policy Education and Research, where she could learn more about the large body of public policy affecting seniors.

Now the Southeast Florida Regional Development Manager for the ALS Association, Williams continues her work on behalf of those at the end of life and on behalf of the families and friends who love and care for them. She’s also interested in researching whether meditation and breath work could be used as palliative care tools for hospice patients.

“One of the reasons I’ve embraced the field of end-of-life care is because I’ve had hospice patients I was close to―patients I lost,” she says. “Being a part of that and finding ways to help families through that stress is so rewarding.”

Clare BanksCollaboration, Education, People, Research, UMB NewsNovember 14, 20140 comments
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Mr. Yuk’s Best Friend

Bruce Anderson, PharmD, DABAT, is a “fixer” of sorts, heading an organization thousands of Marylanders call each year when, as he puts it, “something bad happens.”

Anderson is director of the Maryland Poison Center at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy. And in Anderson’s world, “something bad” comes in many forms: a toxic exposure in the workplace, an accidental poisoning at home, a bad drug interaction or overdose, a spider bite.

When the poison center moved into the School of Pharmacy 42 years ago, it served physicians only and logged about 5,600 calls a year. It’s since evolved into a free public service, available 24/7 to anyone who needs advice or assistance. The center now receives more than 55,000 calls each year. On average, that’s 155 calls every single day.

“We get calls about everything,” Anderson says. “Folks often tell us, ‘you’re never going to believe what just happened.’” Not only does Anderson believe it, he says the center has probably managed 1,000 cases just like it.

Of all the toxic exposures the Maryland Poison Center handles, about half involve children who get into common household items, like cleaning supplies, toiletries, or over-the-counter medications. Anderson says that’s the scenario most people think of when they think of a poison center’s caseload. But everyone is at risk for poisoning, he emphasizes. People call because they accidentally took a double dose of medication, or their child took a drug to get high, or they were exposed to pesticides while gardening, or a friend tried to harm himself by overdosing.

Over Anderson’s 20 years as director, the Maryland Poison Center has handled several public health threats: the tunnel fire underneath Baltimore City in 2001, the anthrax scare that same year, accelerating abuse of synthetic marijuana and “bath salts” since 2010. During big snowstorms―when snow accumulation blocks flues and vents, or power outages cause people to fire up generators―the center charts an uptick in carbon monoxide poisonings.

Through it all, Anderson remains composed and focused on the big picture. “Public services, such as the [Maryland Poison Center] continue to face increased economic pressure,” says School of Pharmacy Dean Natalie Eddington. “There is a need for innovators who understand those pressures and can use new technologies and scientific tools to achieve workable solutions. Dr. Anderson is known for his ability to drive innovation, helping the center expand both its staffing and services to document poisoning cases and review the data for possible outbreaks of bioterrorism, chemical terrorism, and other potential public health problems, such as food poisoning or contamination.”

Drug use is another public health problem Anderson monitors. The poison center adopted a sophisticated geographic mapping system to identify and aggregate the origin of drug-related calls coming in. But Anderson’s innovations aren’t all high-tech. When he noticed a spike in calls from people asking for help in identifying recreational drugs they had taken, he hired substance abuse counselors to work with the callers.

Anderson says that, given its long history, the Maryland Poison Center has helped define what a poison center should be. “We added health education and outreach to the mission of the poison center. There were no guidelines for that. No professional organization was saying ‘Thou shall or shall not.’ We just did it because it was the right thing to do.”

Anderson’s longtime colleague, Wendy Klein-Schwartz, PharmD, the poison center’s coordinator of research and education, says Anderson “has a clear vision of where he wants the center to be and has moved it in that direction.”

The poison center’s work saves money as well as lives. About 70 percent of its cases are resolved on the phone, preventing costly trips to already burdened emergency rooms. Unless the patient is in serious distress―not breathing, seizing, bleeding profusely―Anderson recommends a call to the experts at the poison center. That way, callers can start taking steps immediately to counteract the effects of the poisoning. The staff’s expertise offers another compelling reason to call. After all, he says, “Who do you think 911 calls when they have a poisoning case?”

Answering the calls are pharmacists and nurses. They’re dedicated full-time to the Maryland Poison Center, and they all have additional toxicology training and certification. These specialists are supported by a medical director who is board-certified in emergency medicine and medical toxicology, as well as outside consultants who are contacted for circumstances so unusual they stump even the experts. A host of students rotate through the center―UMB pharmacy students, emergency medicine residents and fellows at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, EMT students at the Community College of Baltimore County, and pediatric residents from several area programs. Then there’s Anderson himself, a board-certified toxicologist and faculty member in the School of Pharmacy’s Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science. For his 24/7 public service, Anderson received a 2014 University System of Maryland Faculty Regents award.

Perhaps this line of work isn’t surprising for the son of two chemists, a kid who worked part-time in a pharmacy across the street from his house. He started out cleaning shelves and driving the delivery truck. But the pharmacist who ran the business soon realized he was wasting Anderson’s potential. “I asked enough questions that he soon had me working behind the counter,” he recalls.

The rest, as they say, is history. Life-saving history.

Clare BanksEducation, Global & Community Engagement, People, Research, Technology, UMB NewsNovember 13, 20140 comments
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