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Center of Excellence in Inflammation, Infectious Disease & Immunity

Quillen College of Medicine

Center of Excellence in Inflammation, Infectious Disease and Immunity

ETSU researcher co-authors a multi-institutional publication focusing on the systemic response of tissue resident macrophages to myocardial infarction, stroke, and sepsis​

     Dr. David WilliamsSepsis, heart attack, and stroke elicit systemic inflammation that impacts virtually every organ system.  In a recent paper published in the journal Immunity, a multi-institutional group of investigators examined changes in macrophage number, origin, and gene expression in the heart, brain, liver, kidney, and lung of mice with myocardial infarction, stroke, or sepsis. ​

     The study was led by Dr. Matthias Nahrendorf, Center for Systems Biology, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School.  Researchers from Harvard, University of Pittsburgh, UC San Diego, University Hospital Wuerzburg (Germany), and East Tennessee State University were involved in the study.  The researchers found that macrophages which reside in the same organ responded similarly to different types of injuries by modulating expression of tissue-specific genes. The authors concluded that “local injury activates macrophages in remote organs and that targeting of macrophages could improve resilience against systemic complications following myocardial infarction, stroke or sepsis.” ​

     Dr. David Williams, Carroll H. Long Professor of Surgery and co-Director of the Center of Excellence in Inflammation, Infectious Disease, and Immunity was a co-author on the paper.​

Publication Authors: Freidrich Felix Hoyer, Kamila Naxerova, Maximillian J, Schloss, Maarten Hulsmans, Anil V. Nair, Partha Dutta, David M. Calcagno, Fanny Herisson, Atsushi Anzai, Yuan Sun, Gregory Wojkiewicz, David Rohde, Vanessa Frodermann, Katrien Vandoome, Gabriel Courties, Yoshiko Iwamoto, Christopher S. Garris, David L. Williams, Sylvie Breton, Dennis Brown, Michael Whalen, Peter Libby, Mikael J. Pittet, Kevin R. King, Ralph Weissleder, Flip K. Swirski, and Matthias Nahrendorf.  Tissue-specific macrophage responses to remote injury impact the outcome of subsequent local immune challenge. Immunity 51(5):899-914.e7. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2019.10.010, 2019.​


Quillen College of Medicine Medical Student Summer Research Program takes a collaborative approach to adapting to COVID-19 


 Dr. Polichnowski at student presentation in 2019    When CIIDI member Dr. Aaron Polichnowski (pictured below with student presenters in 2019) began planning the 2020 Medical Student Summer Research program late last year, the world was just beginning to hear the first stirrings of the virus that would come to be known as COVID-19.  Little did he know that by the time the 2020 program began that circumstances would necessitate a move to online research and remote mentorship.                            
     The six-week program, which is conducted from early May until late June, has become an integral part of the training of many Quillen College of Medicine medical students, with the program experiencing two-fold growth over the past three years.   The major goal of the research program is to provide opportunities and support for medical students to participate in research. Providing a research environment for medical students that fosters intellectual curiosity and the application of critical thinking skills is a major requirement of the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME); the summer research program is one of the best opportunities for medical students to engage in research during their time at Quillen.  
     The research environment at ETSU Quillen College of Medicine is well-suited in this regard as it is comprised of numerous investigators whose research programs span from traditional basic science research to clinical research, as well as community-based research. Polichnowski states, “I think the recent growth and success of this program reflects the dedication of investigators and administration at Quillen College of Medicine to provide a high-quality research experience for medical students.”   
     Initially, when it became clear that the COVID-19 pandemic would impact ETSU and prevent students from being on campus, the research program was cancelled. Soon after that announcement, Polichnowski says the M1 class president contacted him asking if he could help transition the program to an online/remote format. The major concerns of the students were that many were depending on the stipend which participating students receive for financial support over the summer, and that the students understand the importance of gaining research experience and intellectual and experiential training while in medical school.  Given the competition of residency programs, experience in research while in medical school is viewed as an important component in the application process. 
     Typically, students are paired with mentors who work closely with them throughout the summer; however,  when it became clear that the COVID-19 pandemic would likely prevent students from working in labs as well as directly communicating or meeting with investigators during the summer, Polichnowski developed a plan to transition the research program to an online format. He describes the changes: “Although students will receive little hands-on research experience this summer, we still have the opportunity to provide students with an intellectually stimulating research experience remotely. The activities students will be involved in this summer are literature reviews, journal clubs, learning about research techniques and methods via online resources, analyzing data, writing manuscripts, writing research protocols to be submitted to the IRB or IACUC, or other aspects of planning, conducting, and analyzing research. In all cases, students will directly communicate with their mentors via Zoom, email, or other remote avenues. My hope is that students will get some hands-on experience in research in the relatively near future when the COVID-19 situation improves.”   
     The program provides a culminating experience in August or September where students present their findings in a research symposium.  Polichnowski says, “I am still hopeful students will have the opportunity to participate in poster presentations. Given that social distancing guidelines will likely still be in place in the fall, I anticipate that the poster symposium will be conducted in an online fashion. This is something that I will be partnering with faculty mentors and students to finalize details.” 
     The reformatting of the summer research program illustrates how stakeholders can collaborate to promote training for students.  Motivated student leaders, dedicated College of Medicine leadership, engaged mentors, and a committed faculty director have worked together to ensure that the research program moved ahead despite the pandemic. Polichnowski says, “I cannot speak highly enough of the support and dedication of all faculty members across all departments who have ensured the program continues this summer.  The program could not take place without the support of Quillen College of Medicine leadership. As each student receives a stipend for the summer, without the financial support of Dean Block and the Chairs of the eight College of Medicine departments, this program would not be possible. In addition, all faculty members have been tremendously supportive of the idea to continue this program in an online/remote format. They quickly adapted their projects that originally involved a lot of hands-on experience for students to projects that still require significant intellectual input from students.” 
     For more information about this program, contact Dr. Aaron Polichnowski, Assistant Professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences, at 




Dr. Megan Quinn is Named an East Tennessee State University Presidential Fellow by Dr. Brian Noland ​


Dr. Megan Quinn     University Relations recently announced that East Tennessee State University President Dr. Brian Noland has named Dr. Nicholas Hagemeier, Dr. Jodi Polaha, and Dr. Megan Quinn as Presidential Fellows for the fall 2020 semester. ​
     As Fellows, the three faculty members will develop and execute a project that is aligned with one of ETSU's major initiatives in teaching, learning, and service. The Fellows will work closely with President Noland, his leadership team, and ETSU Center for Teaching Excellence staff. ​
     The Center of Excellence in Inflammation, Infectious Disease, and Immunity would like to recognize CIIDI member Dr. Megan Quinn.   She serves as Associate Professor of Epidemiology in the Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology in the College of Public Health. She teaches courses in infectious disease epidemiology, field epidemiology and global health. She earned her B.A. in psychology from Wesleyan College, a M.Sc. in public health research from University of Edinburgh College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, and a Dr.PH in epidemiology from ETSU. ​
     She has taught at ETSU since 2012. In 2016, she earned the ETSU Distinguished Faculty Award in Service. Her research is primarily focused on adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and their role in health risk behaviors and outcomes. ​
     Dr. Quinn’s project will focus on understanding the current campus climate as it relates to ACEs-informed practices and work to identify opportunities to promote ACEs awareness.​

     The CIIDI congratulates Dr. Quinn on being named a Presidential Fellow.​


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