Newsmakers – June 2014

Khera to hold Dallas Heart Ball hypertension chair

Dr. Amit Khera, Associate Professor of Internal Medicine who leads the Preventive Cardiology Program, has been named holder of the Dallas Heart Ball Chair in Hypertension and Heart Disease. An expert in cardiac risk assessment and risk factor modifications, Dr. Khera also is Program Director of the cardiology fellowship and Medical Director of Cardiac Rehabilitation at St. Paul University Hospital, as well as Parkland Memorial Hospital. As program leader, Dr. Khera heads a team of physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, and a nutritionist who work with patients to help determine their risk for heart disease using both standard and novel tests. Then, Dr. Khera and the team create an individualized plan for prevention, first with lifestyle changes, then with medications as needed. He received his initial medical training at Baylor College of Medicine, where he served as class president, and finished his residency at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Dr. Khera also holds a master’s degree in epidemiology from Harvard University, and completed a cardiology fellowship at UT Southwestern in 2004.

Pascual receives fourth departmental appointment at UTSW

Dr. Juan Pascual, Associate Professor of Neurology and Neurotherapeutics, Physiology, and Pediatrics, recently received a fourth departmental appointment, in the Eugene McDermott Center for Human Growth and Development. A UT Southwestern faculty member since 2006, Dr. Pascual holds the Once Upon a Time Foundation Professorship in Pediatric Neurologic Diseases while leading the Rare Brain Disorders Clinic and Laboratory, which specializes in treating patients with undiagnosed neurological disorders. He earned his medical degree from the Universidad de Granada in Spain and his doctorate in molecular physiology and biophysics from Baylor College of Medicine.

Epilepsy society selects Rajasekaran for 2014 fellowship

Dr. Karthik Rajasekaran, Instructor of Neurology and Neurotherapeutics, is one of 15 scientists selected nationally as recipients of early-career awards from the American Epilepsy Society (AES). The fellowships, which are awarded for novel approaches to epilepsy care and research innovations, include funding for one year. “Providing early-career awards is central to our mission,” said Dr. Elson So, AES President. “Our commitment to funding young researchers at this critical stage in their career development helps ensure that we will continue to have the best minds working in the field in coming years.” At UT Southwestern, Dr. Rajasekaran works in Neurology and Neurotherapeutics’ Rare Brain Disorders Program. His research focuses on the study of synaptic plasticity in epilepsy to understand the pathophysiology of benzodiazepine-refractory status epilepticus, secondarily acquired temporal lobe epilepsy, and genetically determined epileptic encephalopathies. Dr. Rajasekaran graduated from the University of Madras in India, and did postdoctoral work at the University of Virginia.

Schneider named holder of Dallas Heart Ball cardiac research chair

Dr. Jay Schneider, Associate Professor of Internal Medicine, has been named holder of the Dallas Heart Ball Chair in Cardiac Research. His investigations include studying the development and mechanisms of generating new cardiac muscle cells. Work at UT Southwestern includes a small-molecule drug discovered by screening the medical center’s chemical library with cardiac stem cells. Original studies of that drug were done in cultured stem cells, but Dr. Schneider and his colleagues have now shown that it works as a drug in the adult heart by targeting a rare population of native cardiac stem cells and by activating muscle genes in these cells. A faculty member since 2003, Dr. Schneider graduated from Yale University School of Medicine, and served his internship and residency (internal medicine) as well as a fellowship (cardiovascular medicine) at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Whitten receives honor from Tennessee society

Dr. Charles Whitten, Chairman of Anesthesiology and Pain Management, has received the Bradley Edgerton Smith, M.D. Award for the Advancement of Professionalism in Anesthesiology by the Tennessee Society of Anesthesiologists. Dr. Whitten received the award after he delivered the Dr. Bradley E. Smith Endowed Lectureship on Medical Professionalism in February at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. His lecture topic was “Dealing with Generational Issues in Medicine.” A UT Southwestern Medical School graduate and member of the faculty since 1988, Dr. Whitten holds the Margaret Milam McDermott Distinguished Chair in Anesthesiology and Pain Management.