LCOM & Department News

Tracy, Cushman Quoted in Burlington Free Press Article on COVID Vaccine Study

March 12, 2024 by Lucy Gardner Carson

(MARCH 12, 2024) Russell Tracy, Ph.D., director of the Laboratory for Clinical Biochemistry Research, and Mary Cushman, M.D., M.Sc., co-director of the Vermont Center for Cardiovascular and Brain Health, commented to the Burlington Free Press about a study of COVID-19 vaccine efficacy.

Russell Tracy, Ph.D., director of the Laboratory for Clinical Biochemistry Research (left), and Mary Cushman, M.D., M.Sc., co-director of the Vermont Center for Cardiovascular and Brain Health

(MARCH 12, 2024) Russell Tracy, Ph.D., professor of pathology & laboratory medicine and biochemistry, director of the Laboratory for Clinical Biochemistry Research, and Mary Cushman, M.D., M.Sc., professor of medicine and pathology & laboratory medicine, co-director of the Vermont Center for Cardiovascular and Brain Health, commented to the Burlington Free Press about a study of COVID-19 vaccine efficacy.

The study, conducted by Cushman, Tracy, and colleagues, revealed that certain people—including men, persons over the age of 65, those with higher weight, diabetics, smokers and those with a history of emphysema—produced fewer antibodies after receiving a COVID vaccine and had a reduced immune response and, therefore, reduced protection from the virus. On the other hand, some people—those who received the Moderna vaccine as opposed to Pfizer, and people who had previously had a serious bout of COVID that required hospitalization some time before receiving the vaccination—showed a significantly higher amount of antibody production and a slightly better immune response.

“I’m so proud of our lab’s team, especially lead technician Danielle Parent, who developed the methods and training materials to get the dried blood spots from over 20,000 people safely to Vermont, which allowed the study measurements,” said Tracy.

“Findings suggest the idea of a nuanced approach to vaccination, where certain population segments with weaker immune responses might need more frequent boosters or higher vaccine doses,” Cushman said.

As a result of this research, changes could be made to COVID immunization administration to help the vaccines better protect some people.

Read full story at Burlington Free Press

 

Past Department Highlights

Congratulations to Dr. Brian Cunniff, Ph.D., assistant professor of pathology and laboratory medicine, the team in the Cunniff Lab, and industry partner , RS Oncology, on having their novel therapy enter Phase 2 Clinical trials. Read more here Milestone for UVM-developed cancer drug. (2/2024)

During the annual Larner College of Medicine's Foundations Award Celebration, Amer Abu Alfa, M.D., assistant professor of pathology and laboratory medicine received The Dean Warshaw Integration Award recognizing the faculty member whose teaching best captured the spirit of the Vermont Integrated Curriculum. Congratulations. Christina Wojewoda, M.D., professor of pathology and laboratory medicine and vice chair for education pathology, presented the Ephraim Woll Award for Excellence in General Pathology to John Rustad. (2/2024) 

Congratulations Dr. Bei Zhang, M.D., M.S., Ph.D., MLS(ASCP)CM, on January 17, 2024, is to receive the Educational Scholarship Award from the Teaching Academy Awards for Teaching and Educational Excellence. This award recognizes an individual who has demonstrated a record of Quality, Quantity, and Engagement in medical education scholarship. Dr. Zhang, M.D., M.S., Ph.D., MLS(ASCP)CM, has been advanced to Distinguished Educator by the Teaching Academy at LCOM. Congratulations also to Bronwyn Bryant, M.D., for advancing to the level of Master Teacher and Agnes Balla, M.D., on being inducted as a Member. (1/2024)

Congratulations to University Scholar Mary Cushman, M.D., M.Sc., professor of medicine and pathology and laboratory medicine, on being ranked #90 in the U.S. and #144 in the world as one of the Best Female Scientists in the World, by Research.com. Also, Dr. Cushman, M.D., M.Sc., recently delivered the Robert Reneman Lecture at the Cardiovascular Research Institute Maastricht (CARIM)'s 2023 symposium in The Netherlands. The tile of her talk was "Stroke and Cognitive Impairment in a Biracial U.S. Cohort: The REGARDS Study." (1/2024)

In a recent Nature Methods paper, Doug Taatjes, Ph.D., Director of the Microscopy Imaging Center, and the Center for Biomedical Shared Resources at the Larner College of Medicine, together with colleagues from the international consortium QUAREP-LiMi, proposed a set of standardized community-developed checklists to assist researchers, reviewers, and journal editors with the goal of increasing the clarity and reproducibility of image figures and their analyses. The hope is that many journals will adopt these guidelines as part of their “Instructions for Authors”—providing a succinct and easy to use checklist for authors when compiling images for reproduction and descriptions of image analyses performed. (11/2023) (from the LCOM Newsletter)

Congratulations to some of our residents and our fellowship student on having their abstracts accepted for the upcoming 2024 USCAP annual meeting in March. "Unexpected Cardiac Amyloidsis: Demographics, Histology, Distribution and Clinical Significance: A Review of 15 Autopsy Cases." (Jesse Mostoller, Neel Hedge, Nick Taylor). "GATA3 Positive Malignant Spindle Cell Neoplasm Involving the Liver Diagnosed as Metastatic Sarcomatoid Chromophobe Renal Cell Carcinoma at Autopsy." (Rae Nusapan). "Long Term Outcome in a Case of Tetralogy of Fallot Surgically Treated with Palliative Shunts: Findings from an Adult Autopsy." (Dore Guptil, Heather Giguere). (11/2023)

Mark_FungCongratulations to Dr. Mark Fung, M.D., PhD., Professor Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, on receiving the 2023 College of American Pathologists (CAP) Lifetime Achievement Award. Dr. Fung is a nationally recognized expert in transfusion medicine. (10/2023) 

Congratulations to Jessica Crothers, M.D., Assistant Professor Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, on achieving the Notice of Special Interest Team Science award from NIAID for: "Effects of the gut microbiota on oral vaccine response in adults and children." (10/2023)

Nicole BouffardCongratulations to Nicole Bouffard on being awarded the "Scientific Research Staff Award" for 2023. This was presented to Nicole at the September 21, 2023, LCOM Research Excellence Award Ceremony. This is a great honor for Nicole and the Department of Pathology and recognizes her contributions and importance to the department and MIC. (10/2023)

Congratulations to Brian Cunniff, Ph.D., Assistant Professor Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, on being awarded a $1.6 million R01 grant by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences to study the role of mitochondrial trafficking in regulating cell migration, a key feature of metastatic tumors. (9/2023)

Congratulations to Yvonne Janssen-Heininger, Ph.D., Professor Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, on becoming a University of Vermont Cancer Center Program Co-Leader, Cancer Cell. (9/2023)

Congratulations to the following pathology members on receiving research support funds in April 2023. Recipients were: John Kennedy, M.D., $6520 for morphologic and immunohistochemical re-evaluation of renal cell carcinomas exhibiting papillary architecture, with emphasis on tumors demonstrating "type 2" morphology. Yvonne Janssen-Heininger, Ph.D., $15,000 for a joint initiative between RBP, UVM Cancer Center, and faculty in the Department of Chemistry. Megan Tarte $745 for Stem Cells, Cell Therapies, and Bioengineering in Lung Biology and Disease ConferenceAlbert van der Vliet, Ph.D., $14,400 for Redox processes in macrophage activation in IPF. (9/2023)

Congratulations to the following faculty members on their promotions: Vikas Anathy, Ph.D., to Professor with tenure, Bronwyn Bryant, M.D., to Associate Professor, John DeWitt, M.D., Ph.D., to Associate Professor, Sarah Nowak Ph.D., to Associate Professor, and Christi Wojewoda, M.D., to Professor. (6/2023)

Bei Zhang, M.D., M.S., Ph.D., MLS(ASCP), associate professor of pathology and laboratory medicine, did an educational scholarship session titled "Activate Students Learning Outside Classroom." at the 8th International meeting of the Association of Biochemistry Educators. Dr. Zhang also conducted two additional workshops with other ABE members titled "Linking Clinical Presentations to Their Biochemistry: A novel ABE Clinical-Biochemistry Curricular Treat Mapping Educational Tool.", and "Getting to Clerkship and Beyond: Crafting Biochemistry Learning Objectives that Connect and Integrate Basic Science Concepts with Clinical Application." (5/2023)

Congratulations to Dr. Maureen Harmon, M.D., associate professor of pathology and laboratory medicine, and Dr. Amer Abu Alfa, M.D., assistant professor of pathology and laboratory medicine for being recognized by medical students for their professionalism. Dr. Harmon was recognized for social responsibility and Dr. Abu Alfa was recognized for compassion. (5/2023)

Congratulations to Mary Cushman, Ph.D., M.Sc., professor of medicine and pathology and laboratory medicine, on being named a University Distinguished Professor of Medicine, Hematology/Oncology Division, and Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. (5/2023)

View the story Mammograms of a study by Sarah Nowak, Ph.D., assistant professor of pathology and laboratory medicine, and researchers at the UVM Cancer Center showing data that fewer women being screened for breast cancer. (4/2023)

vandervliet-habibovic420x280A new study by Albert van der Vliet, Ph.D., professor of pathology and laboratory medicine, and a team of University of Vermont (UVM) researchers is honing in on why people with asthma often have worse symptoms if they are obese. This new research demonstrates that the gene DUOX1 likely contributes to the connection between obesity and asthma.  The research was published ahead of print in the American Journal of Physiology-Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology and was highlighted as an APSselect article for March 2023. Albert van der Vliet, Ph.D., was the senior author on the paper, along with department of pathology and laboratory medicine coauthors Aida Habibovic, lab research technician;Litiele Cruz, Ph.D., visiting scholar; Vikas Anathy, Ph.D., associate professor; University Distinguished Professor Yvonne Janssen-Heininger, Ph.D.; and additional team members and authors from UVM. Read the full LCOM News story LCOM News (4/2023)

Congratulations to Bronwyn Bryant, M.D., Assistant Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, for having your proposal, Consequential Validity of Entrustable Professional Activities in Pathology Residency Training selected to receive a Frymoyer Scholars Program project of $48,000 to be funded July 1, 2023 through June 30, 2025. (4/2023)

Congratulations to Martin Chang, M.D., Ph.D., on accepting the new role as Vice Chair for Faculty Affairs. (4/2023)

Congratulations to Joanna Conant, M.D., on becoming the new Pathology Student Fellowship Director starting July 1, 2023. (4/2023)

Congratulations to The Cunniff Lab, on receiving funding to support research focused on malignant mesothelioma. The funding was from The Butler Family Foundation Fund for Cancer Research at the University of Vermont Cancer Center. The Butler Fund was established by the Butler family in memory of two loved ones lost to mesothelioma. (03/2023)

Congratulations to the following recipients that received pathology research support funding. Nathaniel Shannon in Brian Cunniff's, Ph.D., lab was awarded $1800 towards the cost of travel to the 2022 Annual Meeting of the Society for Redox Biology and Medicine (SfRBM). Litiele Cruz, Ph.D., and faculty mentor Albert van der Vliet, PhD., were awarded $2622 for her project "Characterization of Laminin Oxidative Modifications by Peroxidasin in Pulmonary Fibrosis"Nels Olson, PhD., MPH., $14,582 for the purchase of an Agilent BioTek 405 TS Touch Microplate Washer, Model 405 TSRS. Ashley Volaric M.D.Joanna Conant M.D., and David Seward, M.D, Ph.D., were awarded $13,680 for their project, "The Effect of Epstein Barr Virus Latency on Cellular DNA Methylation Profile of Diffuse Large B Cell Lymphoma". (3/2023)

A number of faculty and students from the pathology and laboratory medicine department presented research at the American Heart Associations Epidemiology, Prevention, Lifestyle, and Cardiometabolic Health (EPI/Lifestyle) Scientific Sessions 2023 in Boston February 28 - March 3. Students presenting were Maggie King, a master in science pathology degree student who was mentored by faculty scientist J. Peter Durda, Ph.D. pathology and laboratory medicine.  Maggie presented on "Complete Blood Count Analysis in the Risk Underlying Rural Areas Longitudinal (RURAL) Cohort Study with a Point of Care Instrument." Her study is supported by NHLBI. And second-year medical student and 2022 Cardiovascular Research Institute Summer Research Fellow Megan Zhou, mentored by pathology and laboratory medicine associate professor Nels Olson, Ph.D. Megan presented on  "Coagulation Factor IX and Incident Diabetes Risk: The Reasons for Geographic and Race Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) Study." Also, pathology and laboratory faculty members that were coauthors of presentations given, assistant professor Margaret Doyle, Ph.D., and University Distinguished Professor of pathology and laboratory medicine, Russell Tracy, Ph.D. (3/2023)

Congratulations to Dr. Bei Zhang, M.D., Ph.D., MLS(ASCP), associate professor of pathology and laboratory medicine, for being selected for a Distinguished Scholar Award by the Association of Biochemistry Educators for her submission entitled "Activate Students' Learning Outside Classroom". Dr. Zhang will be presenting this submission at the 2023 Association of Biochemistry Education Conference. (3/2023)

Congratulations to our 2023 Gender Equity Award Nominees. Gender Equity Champion Award nominee, Debra Leonard, M.D., Ph.D., Chair and Professor Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. Our departmental nominees for The Polaris Award for Outstanding Mentorship- an award for informal or formal mentorship for women or gender diverse college community members, Rebecca Wilcox, M.D., Pam Gibson, M.D., Yvonne Janssen-Heininger, Ph.D., and Christi Wojewoda, M.D. (2/2023)  

Congratulations to Dr. Scott Anderson, M.D., on being selected to receive the Association of Pathology Chairs 2023 Margaret Grimes Distinguished Achievement Award in Graduate Medical Education. This award was made in recognition of Dr. Anderson's outstanding contributions to graduate medical education and his stature as a nationally recognized leader in pathology education. (2/2023)

Congratulations to Dr. Yvonne Janssen-Heininger, Ph.D., Dr. Kelly Butnor, M.D., Dr. David "Bebo" Seward, M.D., Ph.D., and Dr. Sharon Mount, M.D., on their news story in The Charlotte News, on their "giant steps in cancer research." Read the full article here:   Humble Superstar (1/2023)

Congratulations to Dr. Elizabeth Bundock, M.D., Ph.D., Chief Medical Examiner of Vermont and clinical assistant professor of pathology, for her appointment by the American Board of Pathology, to the Test Development and Advisory Committee for Forensic Pathology 2023. (1/2023)

Dr. Beri Zhang, M.D., Ph.D., MLS(ASCP), associate professor of pathology and laboratory medicine, presented a panel, at the Snow Season Education Retreat, titled "The Pearls and Pitfalls of Publishing in Medical Education", with three clinicians Dr. Hale, Dr. Halle, and Dr. Rideout. (1/2023)

Congratulations to Dr. Bronwyn Bryant, M.D., assistant professor of pathology and laboratory medicine on her Awards for  Teaching and Educational Excellence, Learner Assessment, conferred at the Teaching Academy Induction and Award Ceremony on January 11, 2023. (1/2023)