New neonatal NP program * Getting in on the act * ACO agreement will improve care coordination

Nursing launches Georgia's first neonatal NP program


Getting in on the act


ACO agreement will improve care coordination


In brief


February 17, 2014

Georgia ImmunoEngineering Consortium aims to improve/modulate immune response

Mechanical regulation of T-cell biology is one of the topics of the consortium's first symposium on Feb. 28.

Emory and Georgia Tech have formed a consortium to apply the principles of engineering to predicting, modulating, and enhancing the immune response in various diseases.

The Georgia ImmunoEngineering Consortium, in partnership with the Georgia Research Alliance (GRA), brings together a unique group of engineers, physicians, chemists, physicists, computational scientists, immunologists, and clinical investigators to focus on the immune response in cancer, infectious diseases (HIV, tuberculosis, hepatitis, polio, etc.), autoimmune and inflammatory disorders (diabetes, lupus, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, fibrosis, asthma, inflammatory bowel disease), and areas of regenerative medicine such as transplantation, bone and cartilage repair, and treatments for spinal cord injuries.

Inaki Sanz  

The consortium steering committee is co-chaired by Inaki Sanz and Krish Roy. A GRA Eminent Scholar, Sanz is Lowance Chair and directs the Lowance Center of Human Immunology as well as the division of rheumatology at Emory. Roy is Flanagan Professor and directs the Center for ImmunoEngineering at Georgia Tech.

Goals of the consortium, according to the co-chairs, include developing new therapies and tools (and improving existing ones) for understanding, predicting, and better controlling a patient's immune status and preventing, diagnosing, and treating immune-related disorders. The consortium also aims to train future physicians and engineers in this field.

Krish Roy  

Existing centers and departments that will collaborate within the new consortium include the Center for ImmunoEngineering within the Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience at Georgia Tech as well as the Emory Vaccine Center; Lowance Center for Human Immunology; departments of Microbiology and Immunology, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Medicine, and Hematology and Oncology in the medical school; Emory-Children’s Pediatric Research Center; and Winship Cancer Institute, among others. The consortium also will collaborate with research partners at the CDC and at other colleges and universities.

Nursing launches Georgia's first neonatal NP program


This fall, the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing will begin the first neonatal nurse practitioner (NNP) program in Georgia. Students will receive clinical preparation to perform comprehensive physical assessments, diagnostic evaluations, and symptom and disease management for newborns.

The master's program is designed to be completed in four consecutive semesters of full-time study, and students will be prepared for independent NNP practice with more than 600 clinical training hours at all Emory-affiliated neonatal intensive care units and outpatient clinics.

The curriculum also will provide education across the life span on several topics of health care promotion, health care quality and safety, and health assessment. Like all MSN students in the nursing school, NNP students will participate in leadership development seminars, professional growth courses, and research/evidence-based projects, and clinical experiences will be tailored to meet individual students' needs.

Getting in on the act


Bill Bornstein, chief medical and quality officer for Emory Healthcare, was on point at a news conference last month in Washington to explain the need for a new bipartisan bill, the Better Care, Lower Cost Act, which calls for a patient-centered approach to Medicare coverage and care for beneficiaries with two or more chronic conditions.

Crafted by Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Rep. Erik Paulsen, R-Minn., and Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., the bill removes barriers that prevent Medicare providers from building on existing successful delivery models and helps ensure that seniors have access to specialized, patient-centered chronic care no matter where they live.

Specifically, the act includes the following provisions:

• Removes federal rules and practices that prevent providers from specializing in chronic care and from targeting higher-risk patients who would benefit most from specialized, targeted care

• Empowers nurses and physicians to lead care teams essential to better quality, less expensive care

• Prioritizes areas of the country where chronic disease is most prevalent

"As chief medical officer and as a practicing endocrinologist, I know firsthand the challenges faced by our seniors with multiple chronic medical conditions," said Bornstein. "Our physicians, nurses, and staff make heroic efforts every day, and we do a good job of treating illnesses, but we are frustrated in treating our patients in a system that is focused on individual encounters and procedures rather than long-term relationships that continue between office visits and hospitalizations."

According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, in 2010, 68% of Medicare beneficiaries had at least two or more chronic conditions, and such patients accounted for 93% of Medicare spending, or roughly $487 billion.

"I believe that the best and most innovative solutions come from the private sector and people on the ground, and my hope is that the Better Care, Lower Cost Act will unleash the creativity of the medical community to develop ways to provide better care at a lower cost," said Isakson. "I'm proud to join Sen. Wyden in introducing this legislation, which addresses our health care system's challenge of managing chronic medical conditions by allowing patients to voluntarily enroll in a program that incentivizes health care providers to invest in prevention. I encourage my Senate colleagues to support this legislation because it is critical to the future of Medicare and our health care system."

ACO agreement will improve care coordination and communication

Rick Gitomer leads the Emory Healthcare Network.  

The accountable care organization (ACO) agreement signed last month by presidents of Emory Healthcare and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia (BCBS-Ga) is designed, as the name implies, to make care more accountable by enhancing coordination and communication among all parties involved in care, including providers, patients, and payers.

Objectives include enhancing patients' personal engagement in their care, connecting the member with the right doctor, and helping align resources to improve patient outcomes and member satisfaction. The two organizations will have joint responsibility for coordination, quality, and cost across the continuum of care for Emory patients who are BCBS-Ga members.

The agreement represents the next step in talks between the two organizations that have been ongoing for more than two years, says Patrick Hammond, EHC chief market services officer.

It also represents a work in progress toward a new model of care that will enhance coordination among providers in the Emory Healthcare Network, which includes Emory-employed and private practice physicians throughout metro Atlanta and the state. Led by EHC physician Rick Gitomer, this network (formerly referred to as the CIN, or clinically integrated network) establishes a single comprehensive care management system that will be connected electronically through EHC's new health information exchange (HIE).

In addition to the HIE, EHC Network physicians will have access to data from BCBS-Ga as part of the new agreement. BCBS-Ga and EHC physicians will share information, for example, to help ensure successful execution of the physician’s plan of care. Physicians will receive detailed reporting, such as preventive care screening reminders, drug interaction alerts, and missed care notices to help them prioritize outreach and work with patients to close potential gaps in care.

"Having access to data of this kind is huge for us in terms of being able to follow up with our patients and determine if they filled their prescriptions and got needed lab tests," says Gitomer. "We've never had this before."

John Fox, EHC president and CEO, believes that this partnership will have "a profound and positive impact on the way health care is provided throughout Georgia." He adds that EHC would like to develop ACO agreements with all EHC payers. Read more.

     From the Executive VP

Looking back and ahead

Wright Caughman  
Wright Caughman  

The past year was one for the history books—a time of unique challenge (including the weather!), but also of extraordinary opportunity and achievement. I’ve been impressed at every turn by the creativity, resourcefulness, and resilience of the Woodruff Health Sciences Center’s (WHSC) faculty and staff. In an environment in which many institutions are stagnating, you have continually propelled WHSC forward and advanced our education, research, and health care missions (even during ice storms and power outages).

Please join me this Wednesday, February 19, for my annual State of the Woodruff Health Sciences Center address. I’ll be talking not only about our outstanding achievements of 2013, but also about how we intend to continue to be lifesavers and game changers in 2014. I look forward to seeing you then.

State of the Woodruff Health Sciences Center
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
4:30 p.m. in the WHSCAB Auditorium
Appreciation reception to follow

Please direct questions and comments to



In Brief

New chair in public health


Colleen McBride has been appointed Rollins Professor and chair of Behavioral Sciences and Health Education in the Rollins School of Public Health (RSPH). She comes to Emory in July from the National Human Genome Research Institute, where she serves as founding chief and senior investigator (tenured) of the Social and Behavioral Research Branch. Read more.

Winship leader ranked 19th among PIs nationwide


Walter J. Curran Jr., executive director of the Winship Cancer Institute, is listed as 19th  among more than 35,000 researchers nationwide in a ranking of principal investigator recipients of NIH research dollars in 2013, according to the Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research. Read more.

Clues from obesity incidence


A team led by Solveig Cunningham (Hubert Dept. of Global Health, Rollins) found that incidence of new childhood obesity cases is largely established by kindergarten. The study, published last month in New England Journal of Medicine, showed that overweight kindergartners were four times as likely as normal-weight children to become obese by the 8th grade. The researchers believe that obesity-prevention efforts focused on children who are overweight by age 5 may be a way to target children susceptible to becoming obese later in life. Read more.

Alzheimer's and DDT

Marla Gearing (pathology) and Allan Levey (Betty Gage Holland Chair and chair of neurology) were co-authors of a study published last month in JAMA Neurology linking DDT pesticide exposure to Alzheimer's disease. Lead author Jason Richardson, now at Rutgers, was formerly a postdoc in Levey's lab. Levels of DDE, the long-lasting metabolite of DDT, were almost four times higher in serum samples from Alzheimer's patients than in controls. A plausible explanation is that exposure to DDT increases levels of the protein that is a precursor to beta-amyloid, the main component of plaques found in the brains of Alzheimer's patients. Read more.

Emory's 2013 annual report now online


Emory University's 2013 annual report, Standing by What Is Good, now online, takes stock of what, in President Wagner's words, "we are most able to do," emphasizing a commitment to do that superlatively well. The Emory Medicine initiative to maximize resources in the medical school and Emory Healthcare is described in section 6 of the report.

Nursing collaboration receives United Way funds

Ashley Mahoney  

In partnership with Marcus Autism Center and other community agencies, the nursing school received a multi-year award from United Way of Greater Atlanta for its Talk with Me Baby project designed to improve health and education outcomes for at-risk children. The team, including Ashley Mahoney (nursing) and Jennifer Stapel-Wax (pediatrics/Marcus) was one of four to receive the award totaling $3.6 million. Read more.


Elizabeth Corwin (associate dean for research in nursing) and Deborah Bruner (Woodruff Professor of Nursing) are among 100 Inspiring Nursing Professors to Watch in 2014 at

Georgia Bio honored several Emory researchers and entrepreneurs at its Industry Growth Awards ceremony at the Fox Theatre last month. Among them are David Perryman (DRIVE), Todd Sherer (Tech Transfer), Ami Kiln (pediatrics/Marcus), Dana Fallows (graduate student), and Clearside Biomedical (Henry Edelhauser and Mark Prausnitz). Read more.

Save the date

Feb. 28: Georgia ImmunoEngineering Consortium 1st Annual Symposium. 7:00 a.m. -5:00 p.m. Starvine Ballroom, Emory Conference Center. More info.

March 18: Emory Core Day. Poster presentations, 3:00-6:00 p.m., SOM lobby. Learn what's available to support your research from core services throughout Emory.

March 22-29: Atlanta Science Festival. Event details.

May 1: 1st Biennnial Academy of Medicine Distinguished Lecture. Jeffrey Hubbell. 4 p.m. Academy of Medicine Bldg, 875 W Peachtree St NW. RSVP.


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