Better ER experience needed for those with LQTS
Long QT Syndrome (LQTS) is a cardiac arrhythmia disorder that affects one in about
2500 people. Most commonly diagnosed in childhood, it is more prevalent than leukemia.
However, because children don't appear "sick" until a cardiac event occurs—such as
collapsing on a sports field—an emergency room can be crucial to LQTS treatment.
Stephanie Felgoise (left), PhD, professor, psychology—who has been studying quality
of life issues among LQTS populations for several years—and graduate student Katherine
Corvi (PsyD '18) (not pictured) studied the emergency room experiences from the perspective
of parents of children with LQTS and found that parents felt their emergency medicine
doctors needed improvement.
The pilot study looked at survey responses from 20 parents whose children have LQTS.
The survey measured, on a scale from 1 (not at all) to 5 (very much so), the satisfaction
of parents' experiences based on metrics such as: "Was the emergency department physician
knowledgeable about LQTS?" and "Was the emergency department physician helpful in
Overall, just 20 percent of respondents reported their doctor as being knowledgeable
about LQTS, and only 10 percent reported their doctor as being helpful in treating
it. In addition, about half of respondents reported that their doctor even knew what
LQT was, and only a third reported that their doctor consulted with a cardiologist.
The researchers also found that between 35-40 percent of parents reported that they
were not encouraged by their doctor to discuss concerns about their child's condition.
To that end, Felgoise notes that a consult with a psychologist during an ER visit
might also be helpful for parents.
"This is a common source of frustration for a lot of parents whose children have Long
QT," Felgoise says. "Emergency medicine programs don't include training that is specific
to those with LQTS, such as how to properly read an EKG, so doctors might be unsure
of what to look for."
Felgoise and Corvi suggest one way to combat this lack of information amongst ER doctors
is for parents to become more informed advocates themselves. "Emergency rooms need
to be well-equipped and integrate care with cardiologists," Felgoise says. But, barring
that, she urges parents to speak with their cardiologist before an incident occurs
to discuss how to handle an encounter in the ER. "Be sure to carry information related
to LQTS, as well as the child's medication, and have him or her wear a medical alert
bracelet." Having these materials on hand may help improve one's experience in the
These findings were presented at the annual conference of the Association of Behavioral
and Cognitive Therapies in November.
Primary care docs diagnose, but don't refer, eating disorders
Existing research has shown that primary care doctors can play an important role in
recognizing and diagnosing when a patient has an eating disorder. However, new research
suggests that while those physicians can be adept at recognizing signs and symptoms,
they may not be sure of what to do next.
In research to be presented at this month's Association for Behavioral and Cognitive
Therapies' annual conference, a team including Stacey Cahn, PhD, associate professor,
psychology, and Ashley Higgins, MS
(PsyD '17), studied the responses of primary care doctors and residents who watched
videos of simulated patient interactions. An actor portraying a patient would list
a number of symptoms associated with anorexia (without explicitly stating the disease)
to another actor portraying a doctor. The viewers would then attempt to identify the
cause of the symptoms. Cahn and Higgins found that the doctors were correctly able
to identify that a patient either had an eating disorder, or specifically, anorexia,
about 60 percent of the time. Yet less than 40 percent recommended follow-up with
a mental health professional.
Higgins said a larger study would need to be done to explore why it was that so few
physicians recommended follow-up. "Doctors can be very intuitive when someone is reporting
symptoms, but the problem might be that they are unsure of where exactly to refer
their patient, or whether he or she will go (once referred)," she said.
Higgins noted that the symptom that most tipped the doctors off to an eating disorder
was the loss of menstruation, coupled with a drastic drop in weight or low weight.
"That was a big indicator to the viewers that something was wrong," she said.
Cahn says that literature suggests that anorexia in particular is underdiagnosed,
and that the best outcomes rely on early detection. To that end, primary care providers
can be a powerful asset. However, she says there are several factors that can make
"Primary care doctors receive only a minimal amount of training to recognize anorexia,
so they're not always primed on what to look for, and a patient rarely discloses that
he or she has an eating disorder," Cahn said. "Patients want to get better, but don't
want to gain any weight."
PCOM has strong showing on Diverse's Top 100 list
In October, Diverse: Issues in Higher Education
released its Top 100 list, which compiles data from the Department of Education to
determine the top degree producers for minorities in the country.
This year, PCOM had a strong showing; among producers of Professional Doctoral degrees,
the College ranked #1 for African Americans receiving a degree in osteopathic medicine,
and #2 for African Americans receiving a degree in clinical, counseling and applied
psychology. The College ranked #2 among Hispanics receiving a degree in osteopathic
Among producers of Master's degrees, PCOM ranked #14 for Asian Americans receiving
a degree in the category of "Homeland Security, Law Enforcement, Firefighting and
Related Protective Services" (for its Forensic Medicine program); the College also
ranked #18 for African Americans receiving a degree in the category of "Allied Health
Diagnostic, Intervention, and Treatment Professions" (for its Physician Assistant
For more information, visit diverseeducation.com/top100.
Symposium explores infection as a trigger for Alzheimer's
In a study published earlier this year in Alzheimer's Research & Therapy, researchers reported that the failure rate for drug candidates designed to treat
Alzheimer's disease was staggering—99.6 percent.
Brian Balin (left), PhD, professor, Bio-Medical Sciences; director, PCOM's Center
for Chronic Disorders of Aging (CCDA); and co-director, the Adolph and Rose Levis
Foundation Laboratory for Alzheimer's Disease Research; believes one of the reasons
for this high failure rate is because the majority of Alzheimer's research simply
focuses on the wrong target.
Most trials work off the hypothesis that the cause of Alzheimer's is primarily the
accumulation of beta amyloid, but according to Dr. Balin, that's only part of the
story. "Existing research isn't wrong, but it's not a complete picture," he says.
"It focuses on outcomes, not causation."
For several years he and his collaborators, including Denah Appelt (below, left),
PhD, professor, Bio-Medical Sciences, have been studying environmental factors—particularly
infectious agents—as potential triggers of the disease. Thus far, the group has been
able to identify a link between a respiratory form of Chlamydia and beta-amyloid plaques,
which are major pathological entities reflecting the damage in Alzheimer's.
In addition to Dr. Balin and his colleagues, several other researchers across the
country and around the world are also exploring infection as a potential trigger. To that
end, the CCDA hosted a symposium at the Franklin Institute on Oct. 22 titled, "Thinking outside the box in Alzheimer's
Disease: Could Infection be the Answer?" The event brought together leading neurobiologists
and infectious disease researchers to share their expertise and research in this burgeoning area, in an effort to expand awareness of what Dr. Balin calls an
"exciting approach to the Alzheimer disease dilemma."
"People may be skeptical of this research path, but I'm skeptical of current research
because there's still no effective treatment," he says. "We need to start thinking
differently by considering how infectious agents can promote the damage found in Alzheimer's
and, hopefully, that will lead to better treatment options."
New role of protein helps "glue" heart together
Congenital heart defects are the most common birth defect, affecting 8 out of every
1,000 newborns according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. In the U.S.,
more than 35,000 babies are born annually with some sort of heart defect.
For nearly 20 years, Cathy Hatcher, PhD, assistant professor at Philadelphia College
of Osteopathic Medicine, has been studying the causes of these defects. In a study
currently published online and appearing later this month in the journal Circulation Research, Hatcher and colleagues looked at the role the Tbx5 protein (left*) plays in heart
development. Specifically, they demonstrated a novel role for Tbx5 in the epicardium—the
outermost cell layer of the heart, which is also the predecessor to the coronary vessels
that supply blood and nutrients to the heart.
"The job of Tbx5 is to target certain genes and regulate their function within a cell
at a specific point in time," Dr. Hatcher explains. In this study, "we have identified
new targets of Tbx5 in the developing heart: adhesion and matrix molecules, which
act as the heart's 'glue,' binding different types of cells together."
The Tbx5 protein is expressed in various cells of the heart, and existing research
has shown it plays a role in the development of those cells. The protein's effects
have been studied in the heart's innermost layer—the endocardium—as well its thick,
middle layer—the myocardium, which is responsible for causing the heart to contract
during a heartbeat. But prior to this study, Hatcher says little was known about Tbx5's
role in the epicardium (outermost layer) and pericardium, which makes up the heart's
protective sac, and also the coronary vessels.
In this study, Dr. Hatcher and her colleagues used animal models to study the effect
of Tbx5 loss on development of the proepicardium, a group of cells in the embryo that
give rise to the epicardium, pericardium and coronary vessels. They found that a loss
of Tbx5 delayed the "gluing together" of that outer layer to the heart muscle, which
can lead to deficiencies in the way the heart is formed.
"In development, it's important for proepicardium cells to migrate and make contact
with the myocardium to properly form the epicardium," Dr. Hatcher explains. "We show
that the Tbx5 protein is not only essential in regulating the development of cells
in the proepicardium and epicardium, but it is also important in formation of the
coronary blood vessels that are derived from these cells. This is why we believe that
genetic mutations in human TBX5 can cause these coronary vessel anomalies."
Dr. Hatcher notes that there are several risk factors associated with abnormally formed
coronary vessels, from mild heart arrhythmias to sudden cardiac death. While surgery
can be an option for children with born with congenital heart defects, there is often
what Dr. Hatcher calls a "second wave" of problems that can occur when those individuals
become teenagers or adults.
"Studying how Tbx5 contributes to formation of the epicardium/pericardium and coronary
vessels will provide us with a new perspective on how to treat individuals with congenital
heart defects," she continues. "It can help in the development of drugs to enhance
the adhesion of these cardiac cells, or even improve vascular supply."
*"Protein TBX5 PDB 2X6U" by Pleiotrope - Own work. Licensed under Public domain via
Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Protein_TBX5_PDB_2X6U.png#mediaviewer/File:Protein_TBX5_PDB_2X6U.png
PCOM signs affiliation agreement with Jefferson
Members of PCOM faculty and staff recently met with representatives from Thomas Jefferson
University’s School of Population Health to sign an agreement that will allow DO students
the opportunity to receive a Masters of Public Health degree from Jefferson while
completing their coursework at PCOM. Those embarking on the dual-degree path can attain
both degrees in as little as five years.
Through the partnership, DO students can attend Jefferson full-time for the year between
what traditionally would be the third and fourth years of PCOM’s osteopathic medical
program. In addition to MPH students, PCOM students will study alongside other dual
degree students, including Jefferson medical students, who are also pursuing a graduate
public health degree. The master’s portion of the program is completed by combining
public health capstone work with a rotation designed by Michael Becker, associate
professor, family medicine, at one of PCOM’s Philadelphia health care centers. The
rotation applies public health and clinical competencies to the chronic care management
of special needs patients.
“Through this agreement with Jefferson, we can offer our students an even wider range
of learning opportunities,” says Robert Cuzzolino, EdD, vice president, graduate programs
and planning. “By providing our students with a medical and public health background,
we are training them to address some of today’s most crucial health issues.” Ken Veit,
DO, provost, senior vice president and dean, adds: "PCOM offers a unique osteopathic
tradition and culture, which strategically positions students to take advantage of
this opportunity with Jefferson. This formal added education will be critical for
the healthcare leaders of the future.”
“There is a natural synergy between public health and osteopathic medicine, so we
see this partnership as the teaming up of two very similar professions,” says Caroline
Golab, PhD, associate dean, academic and student affairs at Jefferson’s School of
Population Health. “Today’s health care environment puts more of an emphasis on primary
care, and through this agreement, we can prepare future doctors to become effective
A healthy swing
Nearly 80 golfers had the perfect day to play on Sept. 15, as they gathered at the
Whitemarsh Valley Country Club outside Philadelphia for PCOM’s 22nd Annual Golf Classic, Titled Sponsored by Independence Blue Cross.
Participants including Jay S. Feldstein, DO ’81 (first photo, middle), president and
CEO of PCOM; Georges Perrier, one of Philadelphia’s pioneering restaurateurs (second
photo, third from left); and John Spagnola (second photo, fourth from left), former
Philadelphia Eagle and current managing director of PFM Advisors in Philadelphia—a
longtime sponsor of the Golf Classic—played to raise funds for the College’s five
healthcare centers. Those provide primary care to some 30,000 patients in underserved
areas in Philadelphia and rural Pennsylvania. In addition, the centers serve as educational
sites for PCOM’s medical and psychology students.
PCOM helps fill physician need in Delaware
Two out of the three counties in Delaware are federally designated as health care
provider shortage areas. Since 2001, PCOM has been working to fill that need as the
official osteopathic medical school for Delaware. Though its 14-year partnership with
the Delaware Institute of Medical Education and Research (DIMER), PCOM receives payment
from that state to provide osteopathic medical education to its residents, in the
hopes that after graduation those students will return to Delaware to practice. As
part of this partnership, DIMER has a similar agreement with Thomas Jefferson University
as that state’s official allopathic medical school.
“The majority of osteopathic physicians tend to practice primary care, and they do
it in rural and underserved areas,” says Dr. Sherman Townsend, board chair of DIMER
and honorary degree recipient from PCOM. “It’s essential for Delaware to have access
to this resource.”
Sussex and Kent counties, and parts of New Castle County, are federally designated
shortage areas for primary care. Dr. Vincent Lobo, DO ’65, practices in Harrington,
Del.—located in Kent County—and says there is a definite need for primary care doctors.
He worked with former Delaware Gov. Ruth Ann Minner, who at the time was the state’s
senator, to have PCOM recognized as the state’s osteopathic medical school in 2001.
The state of Delaware, realizing the need for more primary care physicians contracted
with PCOM for five seats each year.
“This provides more opportunities for [the state to have] primary care physicians,”
Dr. Lobo says. “And the PCOM philosophy fits directly with primary care.” The number
of DOs in Delaware continues to grow; according to the American Osteopathic Association,
roughly 307 DOs currently practice in that state. Of those, more than 160 are PCOM
alumni. What’s more, about 15 percent of alumni who practice primary care do so in
those shortage areas.
Both Dr. Lobo and Dr. Townsend say they encourage Delawareans enrolling in PCOM to
return to their home state to practice. “Most medical students will set up practice
within 50 miles of their rotation,” Dr. Townsend explains.
First-year DO students Talha (left) and Hamza Bhatti (right), both from Bear, Del.,
are part of PCOM’s largest cohort of students from Delaware to date; the Class of
2018 has 22 students total from Delaware, more than double the number in the Class
of 2014. PCOM has exceeded the contractual agreement with the state of Delaware of
5 students per year. This is being done to fulfill Delaware's needs.
“Delaware students interested in medical school face an uphill climb, since many schools
take a high percentage of instate students, and because we don't have an in-state
medical school,” says Talha. “But PCOM gave us individualized attention. Throughout
the year, an admissions representative was on our campus (at the University of Delaware).”
The brothers were impressed with osteopathic medicine after seeing a demonstration
at a PCOM open house, but after they attended orientation, they knew they had made
the right choice.
“We learned all about the school’s mission, and about how we’re a team, how we are
all in this together,” says Hamza. “There’s a strong support system in place here,
and everyone helps each other out.”
First-year DO students receive white coats
On Sept. 7, the DO Class of 2018 took its first steps toward becoming physicians during
their White Coat Ceremony, a rite of passage emphasizing a first-year medical student’s
commitment to compassionate care, professionalism and scientific proficiency.
Valerie Moore, DO Class of 2015, described for the first-year students what medical
school would feel like to them. “It will feel like you’re walking through a cave,
in the dark, wondering if this entire structure around you is about to collapse,”
she says. “But then you’ll realize it’s not a cave, it’s a tunnel, and there’s a light
at the end. And one day you’ll look back at that tunnel and think, ‘That was pretty
Ken Veit, DO, provost, senior vice president and dean, addressed the 900 friends and
loved ones of the students. “One day, [the student] will call you and say, ‘I just
lost a patient. I didn’t think that would ever happen,’” he said. “And your role
will be to be there for them, and to listen.”
The physician’s white coat has been a part of the profession since the 19th Century.
The concept originated from the operating room’s white coat, and has served as a visual
symbol of the profession that stands for the need to balance excellence in science
with compassionate caring for the patient.
Saluting the General
Several students in the PCOM chapter of the Association of Military Osteopathic Physicians
and Surgeons (AMOPS)—along with select staff and faculty—had a unique opportunity
to meet with former Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell at the Philadelphia Diversity
and Leadership Conference in September. The students were able to speak with Gen.
Powell about their future as military physicians.
“Meeting General Powell was an incredible experience,” said U.S. Air Force Second
Lieutenant Douglas Anderson, DO Class of 2015 (below, right). “The chance to hear his personal stories, opinions, and insight on domestic and
global affairs was an amazing opportunity. The entire room was captivated by his
presence. It was a truly inspirational evening.”
PCOM president, administration and faculty win diversity awards
President and CEO Jay S. Feldstein, DO ’81; Chief Diversity Officer Lisa McBride,
PhD; and Family Medicine Instructor Charmaine Chan, DO ’05, were all honored by the
National Diversity Council at its 5th annual Philadelphia Diversity and Leadership Conference on Sept. 4. The event’s keynote
speaker was former U.S. Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell.
During the event, awards were given in recognition of leadership and excellence in
promoting diversity and inclusion. Among them were the CEO Leadership Award, given
to Dr. Feldstein; the Most Powerful and Influential Women Award, given to Dr. McBride;
and the Multicultural Leadership Award, given to Dr. Chan.
Dr. Feldstein said that diversity isn’t simply a human resources program; rather,
it is a way of life that should imbue all aspects of society. “Our goal is to integrate
diversity into the fabric of our soul, from our Board of Trustees, to our leadership
team, our faculty, our employees, and our student population,” he says. “Diversity
is not a goal—it is a core value.”
“As an institution, we celebrate our tradition of inclusion and recognize that our
success as a College depends on its ongoing renewal,” Dr. McBride explains. She praised
the commitment of PCOM faculty and staff to upholding diversity as a central tenet
of the College. “This award is another important expression of the value we hold for
a diverse and inclusive environment for all members of the PCOM community,” she says.
Dr. Chan, who practices at the PCOM healthcare centers on campus and in Roxborough
(a neighborhood located in Northwest Philadelphia), noted that diversity is an important
part of a physician’s practice, as it can better help them understand and treat those
they serve. “As medical professionals, we are in a unique position to be leaders
in promoting diversity, because we are more likely to see people at their weakest
and most vulnerable, and at that point, we are all more similar than we would like
to believe,” she says.
PCOM makes the news
PCOM has been featured in several news stories recently, from coverage of our white
coat ceremonies, to faculty using their expertise to guide the public on a range of
issues, from suicide to preparing children to head back to school.
Below is a sampling of PCOM’s recent mentions in the media:
Aug. 27, 2014 | Philly.com
Dr. Jessica Glass-Kendorski, PhD, associate professor, psychology, provides parents
with tips on how to teach their children to build strong and lasting friendships on
the “Healthy Kids” blog.
Aug. 26, 2014 | Wall Street Journal
In the “Pharmalot” blog, Brent Rollins, PhD, assistant professor, pharmacy, discusses
his latest study on whether celebrity endorsements of prescription drugs influence
consumer’s purchasing behavior.
Aug. 22, 2014 | 6ABC, NBC10
Both TV stations covered the Physician Assistant Class of 2016 White Coat ceremony.
Aug. 21, 2014 | Gwinnett Daily Post
GA-PCOM’s participation in the wildly popular Ice Bucket Challenge was covered by
the Gwinnett Daily Post.
Aug. 17, 2014 | U.S.News and World Report , Philly.com, several more Peter Bidey, DO, instructor, family medicine, offered tips for parents
on how to reset their children’s sleep habits in preparation to head back to school.
Aug. 13, 2014 | 6ABC
Elizabeth Gosch, PhD, professor, psychology, spoke to 6ABC about suicide and depression
in light of the death of comedian Robin Williams.
Aug. 14, 2014 | Philadelphia Business Journal
John Becher, DO, professor and chair, emergency medicine, was featured in PBJ’s “On
the Move” section for his appointment as president-elect of the American Osteopathic
Aug. 07, 2014 | Philly.com
Dr. Bidey contributed to the “Healthy Kids” blog about why it’s never a good idea
to leave a child in a car by themselves, even for just a few minutes.
PA students receive white coats
Students in the Class of 2016 Physician Assistant Program received their white coats
on Aug. 22, marking a milestone on their path to becoming clinicians. The ceremony
marks a significant rite of passage that stresses the importance of professionalism,
scientific proficiency and compassionate care for the patient. The coats were a gift
from M. Kimberly Rupert, PhD, the daughter of the late Sarah Somers Rupert, RN ’33.
The event was covered by 6ABC and NBC10.
PCOM students get invaluable experience at renowned Betty Ford Center
Before their third year of medical school, very few students have the opportunity
to interact with patients on a personal level. Fewer still have the opportunity to
meet a patient’s family and get an in-depth sense of what their lives are like. But
for second-year DO students Leigh Boghossian and Teresa Joseph, that’s exactly how
they spent their summer vacation.
Both Boghossian (left) and Joseph (below, right) were accepted into the world-renowned
Betty Ford Center’s 2014 Summer Institute for Medical Students (SIMS), a weeklong
immersion program designed to integrate medical students into the experiences of the
center’s patients and their families.
“The days were packed with lectures and activities,” says Joseph, who spent her week
with family members of patients at the Center. “At the start of the week, we sat in
a room with the patient’s family members, and you could see the wariness on their
faces. The experience was very emotional and raw.”
Joseph recalls one powerful encounter: “For the first two days, I heard one family
describe the abusive actions of their patient prior to treatment, and you could see
how it affected them,” she says. “When they finally met with him in the small group
therapy session, I could see that he had come to terms with his actions, that he owned
his mistakes, and was ready to move forward. By the end of the week, even though not
all of their issues had been resolved, family members left feeling more hopeful than
when they had first arrived. Seeing their change in perspective was uplifting.”
Boghossian, who spent her week with patients, said the experience was eye-opening.
“As a physician, you can diagnose someone with hypertension, and there is rarely resistance
to treatment by the patient, his or her family or insurance providers,” she says.
“Addiction is a chronic disease, but because it doesn’t fit as clearly into the medical
disease model, there’s much misunderstanding surrounding it –and not just on the part
of the patient.”
Each year, the Center receives more than 360 applicants for just 112 slots in SIMS,
says Joseph Skrajewski, director of medical education at the Betty Ford Center. Since
2003, 23 PCOM students have been accepted into the highly competitive program. “We
at the Betty Ford Center are always very impressed by the high-quality, top-notch
students from PCOM that attend SIMS,” he says. “This year, PCOM had two students attend,
which is a testament to the outstanding work being done at the College, and the bright
minds that make up their student body.”
Fred Goldstein, professor, clinical pharmacology, has been assisting PCOM students
with their applications to SIMS since 2003. “It’s always a pleasure to recommend outstanding
students to this program, and I’m glad that I can facilitate participation in this
clinical phase of their medical education,” he says.
Goldstein notes that participation in SIMS allows students to understand how psychological,
social and economic issues are related to pharmacological aspects of drug addiction.
To that end, both Boghossian and Joseph agree that the Betty Ford method of treatment
lends itself to the osteopathic philosophy.
“They fit well together in their teaching philosophy: to consider every component
of a patient’s life and how all of that comes together to form the matrix in which
the patient functions,” Boghossian says.
Letter from the President
Right now, the U.S. Senate is considering The Community-Based Medical Education Act
of 2014, a bill that seeks to address the nation’s looming doctor shortage by strengthening
the primary care workforce and increasing opportunities for primary care physicians
to serve communities most in need.
If passed, this legislation will benefit the PCOM community by increasing the number
of new residency slots nationwide, providing our primary care-minded students with
additional opportunities to train in community-based settings in rural and underserved
areas. More information can be found here:
In order to translate these benefits into reality, support of this legislation is
crucial. I ask all students, faculty, friends and alumni of PCOM to contact their
state senators and urge them to co-sponsor The Community-Based Medical Education Act
of 2014. A sample letter can be found here.
Additionally, you may provide your own comments in the forms at the links below.
Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-PA)
Patrick J. Toomey (R -PA)
Saxby Chambliss (R-GA)
Johnny Isakson (R-GA)
Your voice can make a difference.
Jay S. Feldstein, DO ’81
President and Chief Executive Officer
Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
PCOM partners with Franklin Institute
PCOM faculty members recently participated in Neuro Night at the Franklin Institute,
as part of the institute's Science After Hours series of events. This marks the latest
in a series of partnerships between the College and one of the oldest and most visited
scientific education museums in the country, and more will sure to come in the future.
John Becher, DO, chair and professor, emergency medicine, was named president-elect
of the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) in July. The AOA is the national professional
membership organization for the nation’s more than 104,000 DOs and osteopathic medical
students. “I am honored to have been elected by my fellow osteopathic physicians to
lead the profession at this historical time,” says Becher. “I will work to gain recognition
for the osteopathic profession as it continues to grow to meet our patients’ needs
for access to the best health care possible.”
In addition to his appointments at PCOM, Becher serves as director of osteopathic
medical education at AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center in Atlantic City, N.J., and
is an adjunct professor of emergency medicine at Thomas Jefferson University. He also
served as residency director of emergency medicine at the former City Avenue Hospital
and Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia, training over 150 emergency physicians
between 1980 and 2011.
In May 2009, Becher was appointed to the Federation of State Medical Boards’ Maintenance
of Licensure Committee. He was recommended for this position by the National Board
of Osteopathic Medical Examiners (NBOME) because of his experience working with the
AOA Clinical Assessment Program, a web-based performance measurement program, and
s on the AOA and NBOME boards.
Prior to becoming president-elect, Becher served the AOA as chair of the Departments
of Education; Affiliate Affairs; Governmental Affairs and Professional Affairs, and
as a member of the editorial board of The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.
He also is past president of the Pennsylvania Osteopathic Medical Association, for
which he chaired several committees and boards. For more information about the AOA,
Healthy mind, body and soul
Buddhist monks from many parts of the world mainly depend on donations of food from
temple members for their two daily meals—both occurring before noon. Though those
donations come with the best of intentions, many of the foods are high in sugar, fat
and salt. What’s more, the monks spend a large part of their day seated in meditation,
meaning they get very little exercise.
“This creates the perfect storm for cardiovascular disease,” says Brad Rosenfield,
PhD, assistant professor, psychology. To that end, Rosenfield—with the assistance
of PsyD student Alexandria Muench and Suticha Kiatkosolkul, a psychiatric nurse with
whom Rosenfield had previously worked—recently held a workshop on nutrition and exercise
at the Wat Lao Proutha Thammaram temple in Philadelphia. Kiatkosolkul, a member of
that temple, reached out to Rosenfield after monk Phaithoun Feuachanthala suffered
a heart attack.
“This great man was of course very interested in preventing another heart attack,”
Rosenfield says. He and Kiatkosolkul designed a lecture to educate both the monks
and temple members in a culturally sensitive manner about the benefits of healthful
eating and exercise.
“So many of the eating habits of this group are tied to its culture,” says Muench.
“The word for ‘eat’ in Lao literally translates to "eat rice."
“Together with the monks and temple members, we’re collaborating on goals for behavioral
change, such as replacing regular soy sauce with a low sodium version, and replacing
seated meditation with walking meditation,” says Rosenfield. Those recommendations
also were translated into Lao and Thai.
Thus far, Rosenfield has seen some positive changes, such as community members offering
more vegetables. In addition, he and Kiatkosolkul are establishing the website HealthyMonks.com
so that others may reap the healthful benefits. Still, he says, there is a need for
more to be done.
“We want to involve the community more, by establishing a local ‘coach’ in the temple
who will encourage exercise and donations of healthy food,” Rosenfield says. He and
Kiatkosolkul also hope to expand across Philadelphia and beyond—they have already
received an invitation to lecture at a Buddhist monastery in Thailand. They also hope
to secure more funding from a source int
erested in improving the health of that community.
Muench says that program, along with PCOM’s myriad other community outreach programs,
speaks directly to the College’s mission. “The work we’re doing is great for the community,
and it addresses all aspects of integrated care.”
In late June, three physicians from Germany and one from Hungary traveled to Philadelphia
to train exclusively with Alex Nicholas, DO, chair, osteopathic manipulative medicine
and members of the OMM department. These doctors spent a week working with Nicholas,
learning all about osteopathic manipulative medicine.
“Throughout the week, we give a number of tutorials and allow them to observe in the
outpatient offices, so it will give the doctors a better chance to pass their European
certifications,” Nicholas explains. “Doctors from Europe have been coming here for
years to receive this training. To my mind, that makes PCOM one of the best known
osteopathic medical schools in the world.”
Since 1998, Nicholas has been working with some of the largest manual medic
ine societies in Europe to teach doctors there about osteopathic medicine. PCOM OMM
faculty—including Alex’s brother E
van Nicholas, DO, associate professor, osteopathic manipulative medicine—have traveled
to Germany and Austria to lecture, and also have hosted European physicians here,
all to provide supplemental training in the latest in manual medicine. At the end
of their training, the European doctors take an exam to receive certification in osteopathic
principles and practice from the DGMM-MWE or the ÖÄGMM, both teaching institutes for
manual medicine in Germany and Austria, respectively.
In June, the National Institutes of Health released a report which found that only
1 percent of American medical doctors were trained both as physicians and scientists,
and the number of those with dual training younger than 60 is declining.
In an effort to rectify this disparity, PCOM is hosting 9th and 10th graders from
across the country as part of the Physician Scientist Training Program (PSTP), a nationwide
program designed to produce candidates for degrees in medicine and dual degrees in
medicine and the basic sciences. For the next few weeks, students are working side-by-side
with PCOM faculty members in their labs, assisting with research and learning basic
lab techniques and the rationale behind the experiments.
“Many of the [PSTP] students are students of color, and there is a real lack of diversity
in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields,” says Dawn Shell,
Ph.D., associate professor, pathology, microbiology, immunology and forensic medicine,
and coordinator of PSTP at PCOM. “The hope is that these students will be inspired
to go on and conduct translational research of their own one day.”
Seventh and 8th graders in PSTP travel to Southern Methodist University in Dallas,
Texas each year, where they are taught in a classroom setting by first- and second-year
medical students. This year, three first-year DO students from PCOM traveled to Dallas
to teach students in that part of the program. In 9th and 10th grade, the participants
are ready to spend their summers in professional research laboratories.
Maria Johnson, a 9th grader at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy in Philadelphia, is
working with Scott Little, Ph.D., associate professor, pathology, microbiology, immunology
and forensic medicine, and his students to identify markers of infection and damage
that may play a role in Alzheimer’s disease.
“I’ve always been interested in going into medicine, particularly veterinary medicine,”
she says. “This will give me different types of experiences in a laboratory, and will
hopefully help me get into college. I’m excited to get started.”
Not only do the students learn about what goes on in a lab, they may have the opportunity
to lend their names to published research—a rarity even for undergraduate students.
Lyndon Young, Ph.D. professor, pathology, microbiology, immunology and forensic medicine,
has included several past PSTP participants in published research.
“The work they did here laid the groundwork for those studies,” he explains. “I’m
a firm believer in passing the torch, so we are providing these students with the
materials they need to get to the next step, and the one after that, so that ultimately,
they’re doing research of their own.”
PCOM Doctor of Pharmacy program receives full accreditation from ACPE
PCOM is pleased to announce that as of July 2, the School of Pharmacy's Doctor of
Pharmacy program has advanced from candidate status to accredited status by the Accreditation
Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE). The ACPE sets standards for the education of
pharmacists, to prepare them for the delivery of pharmacist-provided patient care.
This achievement caps an effort that began in 2008 to launch the new PharmD program
and obtain full accreditation. Graduates from fully accredited pharmacy schools are
eligible for licensure for state boards of pharmacy.
For more information, visit acpe-accredit.org.
Middle States Accreditation
PCOM receives Middle States reaccreditation
On June 26, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (Middle States) acted
to reaffirm the accreditation status for PCOM. That organization is an institutional
accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education and the Council for
Higher Education Accreditation. It examines each of its member institutions on a 10-year
cycle in order to promote educational excellence and ensure compliance with its outlined
standards of quality.
This reaccreditation will allow PCOM to continue to maintain eligibility for federal
financial aid for its students, as well as fulfill the prerequisites for the College’s
numerous specialized accreditations. In addition, the reaccreditation was given with
a commendation, meaning the College exceeded the Middle State’s standards and had
“This truly was a team effort,” says Bob Cuzzolino, EdD, vice president, graduate
programs and planning, who spearheaded the reaccreditation efforts. “It shows we can
look at the College’s strengths, as well as its challenges, with a critical eye. And
meeting or exceeding all Middle States standards highlights the superior level at
which we operate as an institution.”
The Middle States team that reviewed PCOM said in their assessment, “The atmosphere
of trust, collegiality and common purpose was readily apparent during all meetings…
and students expressed confidence in their education and the opportunities it would
subsequently afford them.”
PCOM received its initial Middle States accreditation in 1999, and will be reviewed
again in the 2023-2024 academic year.
DO Commencement 2014
6ABC covers DO Commencement
6ABC came to the Kimmel Center June 1 as 273 students received their DO degrees from
PCOM. The event also marked Dr. Matthew Schure’s last DO Commencement ceremony as
president of PCOM. View the video.
GA-PCOM’s School of Pharmacy
GA-PCOM’s School of Pharmacy Graduates First Class
May 28 marked a milestone for GA-PCOM as the inaugural class of 72 students in the
School of Pharmacy received their diplomas.
Presiding over his final commencement ceremonies as president of the college, Dr.
Matthew Schure addressed the graduates. “As you go out into the world, know that you
will always be part of the PCOM family. We will always stand as a sense of place for
you – now at your journeys’ beginning and throughout your lifetime,” he said. Suwanee
Mayor Jimmy Burnette, Jr. brought greetings from the city of Suwanee and from Gwinnett
County and noted the positive impact the students have had on the community through
their extensive volunteerism.
In addition to graduation exercises for the School of Pharmacy, a commencement ceremony
was held for the 76 students earning the Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree (DO),
the 37 students earning the Master's degree in Biomedical Sciences, and the six students
who earned the Master's degree in Organizational Development and Leadership.
James H. Black, DO, Rear Admiral, MC, USN (Ret.), encouraged the DO and Master's degree
graduates saying “Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone and follow your
passion. The environment you’re entering is going to be ever changing and you’re prepared
Thinking that a pick-up basketball game with coworkers during lunch would be “moderate”
enough to fall within his doctor’s orders of “moderate exercise” in deference to his
heart condition, Derek Smith, Coordinator of Financial Operations Re
porting at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, decided to shoot some hoops
with his coworkers. A few minutes into the game, Derek collapsed. Luckily, PCOM medical
students were also playing a pic-up game that Friday, December 13.
PCOM partnered with the Franklin Institute to celebrate Philadelphia’s rich scientfic
heritage during the Franklin Institute’s ten-day Science Festival. The city-wide celebration
featured interactive programs that engaged Philadelphians of all ages.
Recalling that Body Worlds, the display of plastinated humans and animals was exhibited
at the Franklin Institute, Denah Appelt, PhD, professor, neuroscience, physiology
and pharmacology, created an exhibit of plastinated body parts for Science Carnival
After Dark. At a nearby exhibit, Greg McDonald, DO ’89, vice chair, clinical associate
professor and director, forensic medicine, walked festival-goers through a “who dunnit”
crime scene of wounds and weapons.
One goal of the festival was to spread scientific inquiry throughout the city by way
of “science cafes.” Geared toward an adult audience, the cafes were interactive discussions
with a scientific twist. Farzenah Daghigh, PhD, professor, biomedical sciences, participated
in “To Veg or Not to Veg” noting the nutritional benefits and challenges of eating
a plant-based diet.
The week culminated in the signature event – Science Carnival on the Parkway. PCOM
stood out from the crowd of more than 150 exhibitors with its Mega Brain®, the world's
only portable, inflatable, walk-through brain exhibit. Visitors entered the 18 foot
long exhibit through the frontal lobe and exited through the cerebellum. PCOM researchers
were on hand to explain brain structure, brain function, brain trauma and disease.
From Exclusion to Inclusion
PCOM 2014 Diversity Conference
April 4 - 5
Join us at our Fifth Annual Diversity Conference where topics will range from "Being
on the Other Side of the Desk From a Sexual Minority Group" to "Perfectionism and
Family Expectations of of Asian Indians." Free and open to all students, faculty,
professionals and the general public, the conference will provide a forum for open
dialogue on these and other important issues of diversity. CE credits are available
for psychologists, social workers, school psychologists and NBCC counselors. Author
and Scholar Allan Johnson, PhD, will deliver the keynote address "Unraveling the Knot
of Privilege and Oppression" on Friday night. For additional information and to egister
online, go to: http://www.pcom.edu/Academic_Programs/aca_psych/Diversity/2014_caps_conf.php.
Commencement for PCOM graduate programs was held on July 26 at the Kimmel Center for
the Performing Arts in Philadelphia. There were 230 candidates for graduate degree
programs in clinical psychology, school psychology, counseling and clinical health
psychology, organizational development and leadership, forensic medicine, biomedical
sciences and physician assistant studies.
James F. Cawley, MPH, PA-C, professor, department of prevention and community health,
and professor, physician assistant studies, School of Medicine and Health Sciences,
George Washington University. Cawley delivered the commencement address.
||GA-PCOM awarded 81 doctoral degrees in osteopathic medicine, 37 master’s degrees in
biomedical sciences and 6 master’s degrees in organizational development and leadership
(ODL) on Sunday, May 19. This was the sixth graduating class of biomedical sciences
students, the fifth graduating class of doctors of osteopathic medicine and the first
graduating class of ODL students for the College.
The inaugural class of the organizational development and leadership program was graduated
on May 19. The six students, all professionals in their field, spent two years in
the intergenerational program in which they learned how people become instruments
Pictured, from left: Jeff Branch, EdD, Program Director, Jess Villegas, Gayle Hayes,
Triba Gary-Davis, Gregory Davis, Kimberly Hicks, Ryan Taylor and Beth Levine, Assitant
||Among those graduating from the doctor of osteopathic medicine program was 22 year-old
Serennah Harding who also will be pinning on the rank of lieutenant in the Navy. Dr.
Harding is one of the youngest physicians in U.S. history. She will pursue her residency
in internal medicine at the Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.
||PCOM students prepare to process during the College’s 122nd commencement ceremony
on June 2 at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts.
Among the 266 graduates, five members of the graduating class earned a dual DO/MBA
degree through an affiliation with St. Joseph’s University, three completed a fellowship
in osteopathic manipulative medicine at PCOM, one student received a DO/MPH degree
in conjunction with Temple University and another student earned a clinical master
of science from PCOM.
Norman E. Vinn, DO, president-elect of the American Osteopathic Association presented
the keynote address.
||Among the PCOM DO graduates was third-generation PCOM physician John Dahdah from Pottstown,
PA. Dr. Dahdah follows in the footsteps of his grandfather, William R. Henwood, DO,
class of 1976 and his mother, Carol L. Henwood, DO, class of 1983. In addition, Dr.
Dahdah’s Uncle, Jon R. Henwood, class of 1990, and his aunt, Maria J. Henwood, class
of 1997, are proud PCOM alumni.
The Dahdah-Henwood family is not unique; PCOM has a history of graduating multiple
generations of the same family and has educated seven members of the same family more
Dr. Schure Receives Robert A. Kistner Award
PCOM President and CEO Matthew Schure, PhD, was selected by the AACOM Board of Deans
as a recipient of The Robert A. Kistner Award. Named for Dr. Kistner, who served at
the Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine for 26 years, the award is presented to
individuals who have made a significant contribution to osteopathic medical education.
In presenting the award, the board noted that, “for more than two decades, Matthew
Schure has worked with unrelenting dedication in many different capacities within
the osteopathic medical education field. His unwavering commitment to the AACOM Board
of Deans has proven to be an invaluable asset to the association, and he will be sorely
missed upon his retirement next summer.
Under his leadership, PCOM has accomplished much, including the founding of Georgia
Campus—Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine in 2004. PCOM and GA-PCOM currently
boast more than 1,600 enrolled medical students combined.
In addition to his work at PCOM, Dr. Schure has given tirelessly to the work of AACOM.
He has been an active member of AACOM’s Assembly of Presidents, has served as a member
of AACOM’s Audit Committee since its inception many years ago, and he has provided
unwavering support and commitment to the AACOM Board of Deans.
Known throughout the medical education community for his many years of service and
profound appreciation of the distinctiveness of osteopathic medicine, Dr. Schure has
garnered a national reputation that reflects his commitment to excellence and devotion
to the field.”
Commenting on his award, Dr. Schure stated, “I’m touched and honored to be receiving
this award. The fact that AACOM gave one award to me, a psychologist, and the other
to AOA Executive Director John Crosby, a lawyer, shows the openness of the osteopathic
profession. It’s a pleasure to walk life’s journey as part of the osteopathic community,
and I hope to do so for many years to come.”
Lisa McBride, PhD, Chief Diversity Officer
PCOM has chosen Lisa M. McBride, PhD, to be the College’s first chief diversity officer.
“I’m very excited to join PCOM, especially in this inaugural position,” says Dr. McBride.
“My role is to guide efforts to conceptualize, define, assess, nurture, and cultivate
diversity as an institutional and educational resource.”
Dr. McBride comes to PCOM from California University of Pennsylvania where she served
as special assistant to the president for equity and diversity as well as the university
ombudsperson. She earned her doctor of philosophy in conflict analysis and resolution
from Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and her master of science
and bachelor of science degrees in criminology from Indiana State University in Terre
Among her many accomplishments, Dr. McBride points to two research projects as being
among her proudest achievements. In one, she was awarded a $10,000 grant from the
American Association of University Women for her project “Breaking through Barriers
for Women and Girls in STEM Areas,” which addressed how to prepare girls in middle
school for careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. She also
refers to “CAL U Men United” a mentoring group designed to aid young men of color
to face unique challenges as they pursue academic, career and social success, which
was funded by a grant from the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. As a
result of implementing this initiative and similar programs for women of color, California
University of Pennsylvania saw graduation rates for African-American students increase
33 percentage points.
“Although as the chief diversity officer I will be providing and coordinating leadership
for diversity issues institution-wide, no one person or department can infuse diversity
throughout the college without input from the entire campus community,” notes Dr.
McBride. “I will create a diversity council that will include members of the College
administration, faculty and staff members; students who represent various student
groups; and members of the community with interest in diversity in higher education.
I’m looking forward to making PCOM a national model for diversity in graduate institutions
across the country.”
PCOM's First Annual DOnut run to support Camp No Worries, a summer day camp for kids with cancer and their siblings, pitted runners against
donuts. Participants ran a mile on a quarter-mile track stopping between each of the
four laps to eat a donut as quickly as possible. Runners in the "skinny" race paired
up with a designated donut eater. There were even gluten-free donuts available. Watch the fun.
The run raised over $2,000 -- enough to send two children to Camp No Worries, which
is free to families.
PCOM Receives Outstanding Accreditation Report
PCOM has received a full seven-year accreditation from the AOA Commission on Osteopathic
College Accreditation for both campuses – the maximum level possible. The accreditation
recognizes the excellence of our students, alumni, faculty, staff and administration
and the outstanding work of those who contributed to the self-study. In addition to
no requirements, the College received nine commendations.
PCOM Welcomes Bryan Ginn
Bryan Ginn has joined GA-PCOM as Chief Campus Officer where he will focus on external
relations in support of the continued success of PCOM-Georgia Campus.
Bryan brings with him an extensive background in community and government relations.
He joins the PCOM community after 12 years with Georgia Health Sciences University
where he was Vice President of External Affairs and Government Relations. Other highlights
of Bryan’s career include serving as the Director of State Relations and Assistant
to the Vice President of Advancement for Kennesaw State University in Georgia. Prior
to that he was the Director of Annual Giving and Regional Development Officer for
Georgia Southern University.
DO Class of 2016 Receives White Coats
268 first-year medical students took their first step toward becoming physicians during
PCOM's White Coat Ceremony. A significant rite of passage at most medical schools,
the White Coat Ceremony establishes a psychological contract for beginning medical
students that stresses the importance of compassionate care for the patient and professionalism
as well as scientific proficiency.
WPVI-TV was on hand to capture the moment. Click here to view the coverage white coat.
Physicians for Human Rights Strives to Improve the World
From Left to Right:
Garrett Kirkpatrick (DO '14), Duyen Mai (DO '15), president, PCOM student chapter, PHR; Steve Vanni (DO '15), treasurer, PCOM student chapter, PHR; Danielle Lucchesi (DO '15), secretary, PCOM student chapter, PHR, as they supported the Philabundance Paper Plate Advocacy Project.
Hunger, poverty, malaria – these are just some of the issues PCOM’s student chapter
of Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is working to alleviate. Whether they’re volunteering at a health clinic for
uninsured patients or raising money for the Global Poverty Project, the organization
strives to relieve human suffering in its many forms. You can support PHR with your
support at one of their upcoming events.
On Oct. 9, 2012 at 7:00 pm in Zedeck Amphitheatre, Evans Hall, PHR will show Invisible Children's newest documentary, "Move: What if we all speak the same language?". Invisible
Children is working to end the Lord’s Resistance Army’s atrocitiesin East and Central
Africa and to empower young people to take steps toward ending injustice. The event
will feature a speaker from Uganda.
Keep your eyes open for their t-shirt sale to raise money for the United Nations project Nothing But Nets to end malarial deaths in Africa by 2015. For every shirt sold, one mosquito net
will be donated to Africa.
Later this fall, the group will be advocating for the National PHR initiative "Access
to Medicine," which promotes awareness of the lack of basic essential medicines in
Throughout the year, PHR will sponsor speakers, movies and bake sales to help raise
awareness of important issues and funds for worthy causes. For more information about
this PCOM organization, contact Duyen Mai (DO ’15), president, Physicians for Human Rights.
Dr. Blake Broadens Horizons
J. Steven Blake, DO ’89, sponsored 15 students from his alma mater, Coahoma Agricultural
High School in Clarksdale, Mississippi, on a 10-day, four-city excursion in June.
The East Coast Cultural Enrichment Tour gives exceptional high school students the
opportunity to visit Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. During their
travels they visit cultural sites, museums, see a Broadway show and meet leaders in
a variety fields. This is the sixth year Dr. Blake has led the tour. “Reflecting on
my own life, and the difference coming to Philadelphia made for me, I wanted to do
that for students,” he explains. “I think it’s so important for students to see a
world outside their regular environment.” ABC affiliate Channel Six tells the story.
Dr. Jeck Weighs in on New Contraceptive Study
When a study was released by the New England Journal of Medicine on the risks of oral
contraceptives, local NBC affiliate, Channel 10, came to campus to hear what Saul
Jeck, DO, professor and chair, OB/GYN had to say. To hear the whole story, click here.
PCOM Forensic Medicine Expert Explains Crime Scene Analysis
In response to the death of singer Whitney Houston, PCOM's Greg McDonald, DO, professor
and vice chair, pathology, microbiology, immunology and forensic medicine, was tapped
by 6abc to discuss how death scenes are investigate.See what he has to say.