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New Emory apps for research and care * Microbiome research * National Ebola training center * Patient feedback
microbiomeWidespread interest in the microbiome ebola-trainingNew national Ebola training center john-musePositive patient feedback bryan-mcnallyIn brief
July 27, 2015

Emory apps targeted to health sciences users

You're leaving a work meeting or cheering your child at a soccer game when the thought suddenly hits you: My annual physical is this week! Is it 8 a.m. Tuesday or Thursday? I need to renew one of my prescriptions, but which one is it?


Employees who receive their health care at Emory don't necessarily need a computer to check the particulars of their next doctor's appointment. They can access the same information by using the Emory Healthcare Patient Portal app on their IOS or Android smartphone or tablet.

Patient Portal is one of 27 apps now available to users through the Emory Mobile App Catalog. The internal catalog went public in June after a little more than a year of testing and development by Emory's Information Technology Architecture group and Apperian, the Boston-based company providing the mobile app distribution platform. The catalog includes apps specific to Woodruff Health Sciences Center users, along with university apps such as Emory Mobile and Box. All of the apps are free.

The Emory Mobile App Catalog was conceived as an internal mechanism for streamlining app distribution to Emory users. Instead of downloading apps from the Apple Store (for IOS users) or Google Play (for Android users), employees and students simply download them from the app catalog after they install it. As new Emory apps are developed, tested, and approved, they can be made available in less time than that required by Apple or Google. And new apps can be created and added to the catalog through an online review and distribution process.

Apps in the catalog serve different audiences and needs. EHMC (Emory Healthcare mobile clinicians) provides protocols, reference guides, and more for Emory clinicians. ReadyVax offers current information on vaccines and the diseases they prevent. SCIP for Surgery (surgical care improvement project) provides best practices for surgical patients. 3D Liver is an instructional aid on the surgical anatomy of the liver for medical students and residents. MTP (mass transfusion protocol), a research app, helps Grady trauma surgeons determine when patients need transfusion. The iChoose Kidney decision tool helps clinicians assess patient risk of dialysis versus kidney transplant. ReliefLink is a suicide prevention app developed by Emory's Nadine Kaslow for the public. And set to launch soon is WebEase, a self-management tool for people with epilepsy.

Stephen Wheat  

Until now, Emory IT experts lacked the ability to track and analyze app usage effectively, notes Stephen Wheat, chief information technology architect. The data they collected was largely anecdotal.

"The apps in our catalog now allow us to collect analytics," he says. "We can see who's using an app and monitor and track its usage. One of the things we are beginning to promote is asking people for feedback on the apps and their features. We want users to provide comments, good and bad.  When you get feedback from hundreds or thousands of users, it can be eye opening.

"Very few universities have a cogent mobile strategy," Wheat adds. "One of the things that's driving Emory into this is the strong case for supportive technology. There's so much data collection on human behavior that needs to occur, and there's no better tool than a mobile app for collecting this information."

In recent months, Emory Healthcare has embraced this strategy by developing apps to support its quality initiatives. Two new apps are set to go live soon. Codes is an emergency code app that provides a uniform list for reporting cardiac, neonatal, and other life-threatening events. A second app, e-Vantage, will mirror a current online self-service human resources tool for EHC employees.

"Mobile technology allows us to make an intimate connection with humans," Wheat says. "It allows us to share information and communicate with people. Computers and the Internet transformed commerce, education, and other sectors. But they didn't transform the way we live. Mobile technology does that."—Pam Auchmutey

Widespread interest in microbiome research


Bacteria and other microbes that live within the human body are thought to influence not only digestive health but metabolic and autoimmune diseases as well, and possibly even psychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders. It is no wonder that the human microbiome is an increasingly hot topic, and growing numbers of researchers from a variety of disciplines are pursuing inquiries in this field.

Work here at Emory illustrates the growing interest in microbiome research:

Jennifer Mulle  

Researchers here, for example, are planning Emory's first microbiome symposium in November, organized by Jennifer Mulle (epidemiology, public health), who recently co-authored an intriguing article on the relationship between the microbiome and autism spectrum disorders.

Microbial genomics expert Tim Read, infectious disease specialist Colleen Kraft, and intestinal pathologist Andrew Neish have formed an Emory microbiome interest group with a listserv and seminars.

Read has been involved in several microbiome sequencing projects, including one tracking MRSA microevolution within households. Kraft is known for her work on fecal transplant (among other things) and Neish's laboratory studies how interactions with bacteria contribute to intestinal epithelial integrity and healing.

Gastroenterology researcher Rheinallt Jones is establishing a gnotobiotic mouse facility for his research on the influences of the microbiome on host physiology. Genomics core director Mike Zwick notes that his team offers support for the workhorse of microbiome analyses, 16S RNA sequencing, and downstream computational analyses using tools such as Qiime or Mothur.

Research teams focusing on conditions such as Crohn's disease (Subra Kugathasan) have been contributing to large-scale microbiome studies; in addition, public health researcher Karen Levy and her group are engaging with international partners in microbiome work.

Note: it's not just about the intestines. Emory researchers are studying the lung microbiome in connection with cystic fibrosis-related diabetes (Joanna Goldberg and Arlene Stecenko in pediatrics), and the oral and vaginal microbiomes in relation to preterm birth in African American mothers (Elizabeth Corwin and Anne Dunlop in nursing).—Quinn Eastman (adapted from a Labland blog post)

Emory to lead national Ebola Training center


Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services announced that Emory will serve as lead coordinating center of the National Ebola Training and Education Center (NETEC) in collaboration with the University of Nebraska Medical Center and the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (Bellevue Hospital).

With the collective effort between HHS's Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, the CDC, and the three academic institutions, the program will support further training of health care providers and facilities on strategies to manage Ebola and other emerging infectious diseases. The program will be funded for $12 million over the next five years.

Bruce Ribner  

"Based on the knowledge we have gained from caring for patients with Ebola virus disease, Emory, Nebraska and Bellevue will develop and teach best practices to other health care workers who could be faced with caring for similar patients in the future," says Bruce Ribner, medical director of Emory University Hospital's Serious Communicable Disease Unit and principal investigator of NETEC.

NETEC objectives include the following:

- Develop metrics to measure facility and health care worker readiness to care for Ebola patients.

- Conduct assessments of regional and state Ebola treatment centers.

- Create and maintain educational materials related to care of patients with possible Ebola and other special pathogens.

- Support public health departments and health care facilities through training and technical assistance.

Emory and the University of Nebraska Medical Center have been working with CDC since December 2014 to train more than 460 health care workers from 87 health care systems, including 37 designated Ebola treatment centers, on all aspects of infection control and care for people with Ebola. The two institutions are offering additional training opportunities this summer for up to 400 staff from Ebola assessment hospitals. Read more.

"Hang in there—you know we're all pulling for you."

Several months after his heart attack, Muse (left) took a motorcycle trip along the Blue Ridge Parkway with his son.

By some accounts, there was not a dry eye in the room by the time former heart attack patient John Muse finished speaking to a group at Emory University Hospital auditorium last April 21, recounting his experience at EUH the year before and expressing his thanks to Emory for saving his life.

Muse, an oral surgeon, was at his practice in Decatur on May 14, 2014, when he first realized he was having a heart attack. He alerted his nurse, who started an IV and called 9-1-1. When the ambulance arrived, Muse directed the EMTs to take him to Emory, a destination that required extra precious minutes of travel time. If the EMTs wouldn't take him there, his own staff would, he said, and the EMTs agreed to do so.

Once in the Emory emergency department, Muse went into ventricular fibrillation, in which the lower chambers of the heart quiver, leaving the heart unable to pump blood.

 "The team started CPR and chest compressions in the doorway of the emergency room, where Dr. Muse turned blue and collapsed," says Jean Wheeler, a resident in the ED when Muse was brought in. "He was essentially dead, and we ended up shocking him with the defibrillator about seven times. We got to him literally the second he collapsed, and that was one of the instrumental things I think in helping his outcome."

Once his heartbeat was restored, he was rushed to the cath lab, where the team had been put on notice that a heart attack patient had been brought in. Interventional cardiologist Kreton Mavromatis treats patients with heart ailments in the cath lab daily but says Muse's case was particularly gratifying.

"He experienced sudden cardiac death, the most feared consequence of a heart attack, but due to quick and expert action, was resuscitated," says Mavromatis. "We were then able to quickly open up the blocked artery causing his problem and prevent sudden death from happening again, as well as heart failure down the road. I think that was the thing that made his case particularly satisfying. We took a person who suddenly became as sick as anyone can ever be and brought him back to full function."

Mavromatis and team stopped Muse's heart attack and restored blood flow using catheters and balloons and then placed a stent to keep the artery open.

Muse spent five days in the cardiac ICU, while his family, friends, and staff waited to see what his outcome would be. They mainly worried about brain function because his heart had stopped so many times. When he awoke, however, it was clear his brain function had remained intact. Tests showed he had virtually no heart damage either.

Now, almost a year later, Muse wanted to say thank you, not just for the quality, speed, and expertise of his treatment but for the care and compassion that accompanied it. To arrange an opportunity to do this, he contacted EUH CEO Bob Bachman, who invited him to speak at a monthly leadership meeting and arranged a luncheon afterwards where Muse and his office staff and family could meet with those who had been involved in his care.

Muse told his audience that he marveled at the technology and skill involved in his treatment and at the kindness that was so pervasive at EUH, from the specialist who explained to his family members the meaning of "ejection fraction" to the valet who brought the car around when Muse was discharged. One gentleman, said Muse, entered his room, introduced himself, and said he was there to take away the trash. Muse thanked him, and the man turned back to say, "Hang in there—you know we're all pulling for you."

"Emory saved my life," says Muse. "Saying thank you was really important to me." Read more. View a video about Muse's experience.
From the Executive VP

Congratulations and thanks

Wright Caughman

By now I hope you've heard the exciting news that Emory physicians dominate Atlanta magazine's "Top Doctors" issue again this year. Our stellar physicians represent more than half of the doctors recognized in the magazine's highly competitive annual rankings. This year, 209 physicians representing the Emory Clinic, Emory Healthcare, Emory Healthcare Network, and Emory University School of Medicine made the list—an impressive 58% of all of the top doctors listed in the issue.

Also this month, US News published its latest round of hospital rankings, with Emory University Hospital remaining No. 1 in Atlanta and Georgia; Emory Saint Joseph's Hospital ranked at No. 3 and 5, respectively; and EUH Midtown ranked at No. 5 and 11.

Emory leads these annual listings as well as other rankings and awards because our teams' expertise, innovation, and compassion have earned them the respect and gratitude of their peers and the people they serve. I'm so proud of our doctors and outstanding health care teams, not only for these recognitions but most importantly for the life-affirming care they provide day in and day out to our patients and their families.

Please direct questions and comments to evphafeedback@emory.edu.


In Brief

IOM recommends national registry similar to Emory-based model

Bryan McNally

A report released last month from the Institute of Medicine recommends establishment of a national registry to track out-of-hospital cardiac arrests, similar to the Emory-based CARES (Cardiac Arrest Registry to Enhance Survival) Program. CARES is designed to help communities identify when and where cardiac arrest occurs, which elements of their emergency medical services (EMS) system are functioning properly, and what changes are needed to improve outcomes.

Established by Emory and the CDC in 2004, CARES has since expanded nationally and internationally. Currently, more than 800 EMS agencies and 1,300 hospitals in 36 states representing a population footprint of 80 million people participate in the program.

"We believe CARES is well positioned to be the registry for the US as we currently cover approximately 25% of the US population and have about 200,000 cardiac arrest events in the registry," says Bryan McNally (emergency medicine), executive director of CARES. Read more.

Emory/Eurofins partner on genetics lab

Madhuri Hegde

The Emory Genetics Lab (EGL) and Eurofins Scientific have entered a joint venture in which Eurofins will acquire a controlling interest in EGL. EGL currently serves more than 400 institutional clients, including hospitals and other commercial laboratories across the US and overseas and is renowned for testing rare genetic disorders. Madhuri Hegde, EGL executive director, says her team is excited about expanding the reach of its experience internationally. Read more.

Research funding concerns highlighted

Emory VP for Research Administration David Wynes

Emory was one of 10 research universities represented earlier this month at a roundtable in Washington, DC, organized by the Science Coaltion and AAU to discuss various issues concerning research funding.

Grant funds study of agriculture/infectious disease interaction


Justin Remais (environmental health, public health) is co-principal investigator of a $2.5 million, five-year NIH Fogarty grant to study the interaction between infectious disease transmission and agricultural practices in the Senegal River Basin. Read more.

Emory in top 100 universities for patents

Emory is ranked No. 58 in the world among universities granted U.S. utility patents in 2014, according to a new report released by the National Academy of Inventors and the Intellectual Property Owners Association. Read more.

Grant expands Atlanta CF partnership

Nael McCarty is principal investigator.

The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation has awarded Emory, Children's Healthcare, and Georgia Tech a $1.8 million grant to establish the Atlanta CF Research and Development Program and enable the partner institutions to expand their current CF research. Read more.

$3 million to expand Parkinson's clinic

Dan and Merrie Boone

The Dan and Merrie Boone Foundation has committed $3 million to expand Emory's Parkinson's clinic to serve more patients and help shape the national model for Parkinson's care. The clinic will be named for the late Merrie Boone, who helped found the clinic with her husband to realize their vision to help Parkinson's patients access more comprehensive care. Read more.



Cameron Taylor, director of federal affairs, has been appointed interim VP for government and community affairs. This position was held most recently by Charlie Harman, who has joined publicstrategies360 as a government affairs consultant and in this capacity will continue to provide advice and counsel to Emory.


Stephen Szabo has been named director of community oncology at Emory Saint Joseph's Hospital's Winship Cancer Institute. Read more.



"Team Ebola" nurse Jill Morgan was named a top 10 nurse in the 2015 AJC's Celebrating Nurses Nursing Excellence Awards. Read more.


Yerkes researchers Mark Wilson and Yoland Smith were each appointed to NIH study sections, Smith to Clinical Neuroplasticity and Neurotransmitters and Wilson to Pathophysiological Basis of Mental Disorders and Addictions. Read more.


Nursing Woodruff Professor Deborah Bruner has been appointed by President Obama as one of five new members of the National Cancer Advisory Board.

Nancy Collop

Medical school faculty received the following honors: Mitsi Blount (nephrology) was named a 2015 Carl W. Gottschalk Research Scholar by the American Society of Nephrology Foundation for Kidney Research. Falgun Chokshi (neuroradiology) is a 2015 fellow of the Association of University Radiologists. Nancy Collop (pulmonology) received the Nathaniel Kleitman Distinguished Service Award from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Mahlon DeLong (neurology) received the Taubman Prize for Excellence in Translational Medical Science from University of Michigan. Chris Doering (pediatrics-hematology) received a 2015 Bayer Hemophilia Award at the recent International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis Congress.


Aug 15: Military Appreciation Night at Turner Field (Braves vs. Arizona Diamondbacks).

Oct. 3: 5th annual Winship Win the Fight 5K. Atlanta Braves president John Schuerholz is grand marshal. More info.

Nov. 5-6: The Microbiome and Human Health. Emory Conference Center. More info.

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