Updates from the Division of Infectious Diseases

The below is a post written by Daniel Diekema, MD, MS, director, Division of Infectious Diseases.

In our division, we prize cross-disciplinary collaborations and work closely with internists, health services researchers, microbiologists, endocrinologists, epidemiologists, surgeons, and a variety of other specialists in the cause of better understanding infectious diseases and preventing their spread. We do this on multiple fronts, in education, in research, and in our clinical care.

Under the training program leadership of Judy Streit, MD, and Ilonka Molano, MD, we continue to recruit excellent fellows in a competitive environment. Several faculty received recognition for their talents in education this past year, including Mary Wilson, MD, who earned last year’s Distinguished Mentor Award, and Jason Barker, MD, who won the Collegiate Teaching Award.


Postdoctoral fellow Benjamin Avner, MD, and Assistant Professor Prajwal Gurung, PhD, each received a travel award to attend last fall’s Society for Leukocyte Biology (SLB) meeting. At that same meeting, three of the six poster presentation awards were given to ID trainees from Iowa. At SLB 2017, two of the three finalists for the SLB Presidential Award were postdoc research fellows Silvie Kremserová, PhD, and Christine Cho, MD. Dr. Cho has since joined us as faculty. At upcoming national meetings, ID fellows Hiro Suzuki, MD, and Taka Kobayashi, MD, will be presenting posters and representing the University of Iowa.


Each of these achievements on the national stage are a testament to the outstanding mentoring and instruction that occur every day in our division. More locally, we will demonstrate our commitment to continued education for community and regional providers when we present our 21st Annual Update in Infectious Diseases conference at hotelVetro on April 26. Sean Strub, author and executive director of the Sero Project, will present at the conference and be in Iowa City most of the week helping us celebrate the 30th anniversary of our HIV Program.

During the past three years, our clinicians have worked to increase the volume of inpatient care by 21% at our five inpatient consult service centers including the VA and the hospitalist-directed ID consult service established by Ben Appenheimer, MD. Under the leadership of Dilek Ince, MD, and in collaboration with Bradley Ford, MD, PhD, we have helped to introduce rapid testing of positive blood cultures in our efforts to improve antibiotic stewardship. As a result of the hard work of Dr. Streit, our travel clinic is thriving, and our other outpatient services including those provided by Poorani Sekar, MD (Bone Joint Infections service), and Dr. Ince (transplant ID), have also grown significantly. Outpatient services have seen a 12.7% increase in volume since the 2017 fiscal year.


As mentioned above, Jack Stapleton, MD, founded Iowa’s first HIV Clinic in 1988 and still directs it today 30 years later. With the support of University of Iowa Health Care and the Ryan White Program, the clinic provides a range of services to more than 750 people, treating the whole patient with a multidisciplinary team approach. In the realm of HIV prevention, Michael Ohl, MD, MSPH, and his team received a $2M grant from the CDC to expand their TelePrEP program, one of the only services of its kind in the country. ID physicians have also stepped up to leadership roles within the VA, such as Eiyu Matsumoto, MD, taking on a new role in the VA Emergency Medicine division.

Our leadership in research is similarly strong. William Nauseef, MD, has led Iowa’s Inflammation Program since its founding. Because of his outstanding contributions over 40 years of dedicated research, Dr. Nauseef recently earned a Lifetime Honorary Membership award from the SLB. Lee-Ann Allen, PhD, and long-time leader in the Inflammation Program, was recently elected to the American Academy of Microbiology as a Fellow and was appointed to the Kate Daum Professorship, which recognizes outstanding women scientists at the University of Iowa.


In addition to the multidisciplinary Inflammation Program, our members within the Iowa Prevention Epicenter and the VA’s CADRE have continued to investigate the epidemiology and prevention of healthcare-associated infections alongside researchers from a variety of fields. Funded by the CDC, the Iowa Prevention Epicenter is led by Dr. Eli Perencevich and co-investigators Loreen Herwaldt, MD, and Philip Polgreen, MD, MPH. CADRE’s ID members include Michi Goto, MD, MSCI, Dan Livorsi, MD, and Dr. Ohl. Recent arrival Martha Carvour, MD, PhD, studies bone and joint infections, particularly among persons with diabetes.


Dr. Polgreen is also the director of the Emerging Infections Network, a disease surveillance and prevention program with nearly 1,100 members across the country. The CDC funds more of Dr. Polgreen’s research as a part of the Modeling Infectious Diseases in Healthcare Network (MInD), which he will use to investigate possible disease interventions and therapies. Additional research successes within our division includes the VA Merit award Jeff Meier, MD, received in addition to an R21, funding CMV research. Executive Dean Patricia Winokur, MD, directs the Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit with Dr. Stapleton, advancing the field of ID, using vaccine studies to research safe, healthy treatments for the flu, urinary tract infections, and more.






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