Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Passion for History

Jack Schwartzwald, MD ‘89
UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School

Dr. Schwartzwald recently published his first book: Nine Lives of Israel: A Nation’s History through the Lives of its Foremost Leaders. For Schwartzwald, a hospitalist at South County Hospital in Wakefield, Rhode Island and clinical assistant professor of medicine at Brown University, writing the book was an act of merging his passions for history and Israel.

“I love reading, and what I’m always reading is history,” Schwartzwald said, explaining that history makes every subject more fascinating for him.

After 9-11, Schwartzwald was troubled by the media’s portrayal of Israel, which he believed to be biased and factually incorrect. His concern prompted him to research Israel’s history.  “I tend toward the obsessive-compulsive, so once I learn about something, I want to know everything from the beginning to the end,” he said. “I picked up a book on Theodore Herzl and Zionism and I got hooked.”

His book, which tells Israel’s story by profiling nine influential actors in its brief history from Theodor Herzl to Ariel Sharon, was his attempt to advocate for Israel.  He hopes it will be an accessible intellectual resource for young readers, and for anyone looking to better understand Israel in a historical context. It was awarded third prize in the Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Competition in Dallas, Texas.  

Schwartzwald, who began a graduate program in history before attending NJMS, feels that his medical training ultimately made him a better historian by teaching him how to build arguments based on evidence, rather than logic.

After NJMS, Schwartzwald completed a residency in internal medicine at Rhode Island Hospital of Brown University, where he then worked as a staff physician until 2009, supervising residents and students. He lives in Kingston, Rhode Island, with his wife Cheryl and cats Cody and Crosby. He plays ice hockey recreationally; he learned to ice skate at age 27 as an NJMS student.

His next book will be a condensed history of civilization from prehistoric times to World War II, covering nearly 6,500 years of history in 800 pages.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Medical Detective


Roger A. Mitchell, Jr., MD, ‘03
UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School

 FBI forensic biologist. Doctor. Chief medical examiner. The resume of Roger A. Mitchell, Jr., MD reads like the stuff of movies and television crime dramas. You can also add part-time mystery thriller writer to the list! This 38-year-old alum oversees 1,500 autopsies as chief of the Northern Regional Medical Examiner’s office in Newark.  The idea of his career path began 15 years ago when he got a job with the DNA Unit of the FBI as a forensic biologist technician right after college graduation from Howard University. The O.J. Simpson trial was on every television set at the time. “This seemed so interesting because I was manipulating DNA and performing tests similar to what was being described on TV.”  Later on after med school, a fellowship in the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in New York City clinched his decision.

Board certified in anatomic and forensic pathology, Mitchell believes there is something to be learned from every death. Throughout his career, violence has been an undercurrent of his work and he speaks often to groups, telling audiences that he doesn’t want any of them to end up on his examination table. His office receives about 4,500 death calls a year and averages five autopsies a day so it’s difficult to ignore the fact that violence is reaching epidemic proportions, especially in certain communities, he says. “A disproportionate number of these cases occur in Newark, Trenton, Camden and Atlantic City.” He explains, “It’s novel for a medical examiner to want to be part of crime prevention but in the same way a cardiologist might want to be part of an anti-smoking or healthy lifestyle promotion, I think it’s my role to be involved. I like the fact that I can act as a resource for law enforcement and public health programs.”

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Balancing Family and Research


Mili Mandal, PhD, ‘12
UMDNJ - Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

People who know Mili Mandal wonder how she’s managed to accomplish so much in such a short time. She came to America alone in 2002 with a BS and Master’s degree from Chattarapati Shahu Ji Maharaj University in India, earned another Master’s in plant sciences at West Virginia University and began her PhD in 2006. Now married to Preetanshu, a research investigator at Bristol-Myers Squibb, she gave birth to their son, Ahaan, in October 2009. “I can’t imagine that I could have done all the work I’ve been able to do without my parents and in-laws.” Both sets of grandparents traveled to the U.S. from India and came to the young family’s rescue, staying many months at a time to babysit. 

Meanwhile, Mandal was free to pursue her research in the field of autism, its causes and prevention. Working in the lab of Nicholas M. Ponzio, PhD, NJMS professor of pathology and laboratory medicine, she discovered compelling evidence that infection during pregnancy can affect the brain development of babies. Mandal used a mouse model to investigate the immunological mechanisms to the development of autism and published her findings in the Journal of Reproductive Immunology and Brain Behavior and Immunity. Her work has formed the basis for a translational study in humans. She is now a post-doctoral researcher in the Rutgers University Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy in the Pharmacology and Toxicology Department. “I hope to be here for a few years and will apply for a National Institutes of Health grant to continue my research.” Her son, whose name means first ray of sunlight, is “indeed a first ray of sunlight in our lives.”

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Dr. Greydanus inducted into the Michigan State University Gamma Chapter of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society

Donald E. Greydanus MD, '71
UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School 

Dr. Greydanus has more than 35 years of clinical and research experience in the care of children and adolescents, and is considered a highly respected specialist in the field of adolescent medicine. As editor-and-chief of one of the first reference books on teen behavior, penned in the late 90’s, Greydanus and his colleagues addressed many of the issues raised by parents in an authoritative manner, resulting in a stamp of approval by many parents, who called the book “refreshing.” 

The professor of pediatrics and human development at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine and pediatrics program director at the University’s Center for Medical Studies in Kalamazoo, Michigan, was recently been inducted into the Michigan State University Gamma Chapter of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society. The organization recognizes physicians for excellence in scholarship and having the highest ideals in the medical profession. He was also accepted for membership into its faculty for scholarly achievement and for the values he has held during a long career in medicine.

Greydanus says he has always been appreciative of his education at NJMS. “I have tried to honor the values and principles I learned in Newark so long ago, and am always willing to share my accomplishments with them.”

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

New Chief at the Substance Abuse and Health Services

Gerlinda Gallegos (GG) Somerville, MPH, CHES, ‘2000
UMDNJ-School of Public Health at New Brunswick 

After twelve years at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Gerlinda Gallegos or GG (as she prefers to be called), has assumed the position as chief of the Health Systems Branch at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

In her capacity as chief, Somerville serves as a member of the senior staff in the Division of Service Improvement and the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. She manages the Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) and the HIV portfolios SBIRT grantees train providers to use a screening tool for identify substance use disorders in patients, provide a brief intervention on the health risks of substance abuse to their overall health, and refer them to the appropriate substance abuse treatment service. The HIV portfolio expands the capacity of substance abuse treatment grantees to provide HIV testing and referral to HIV care as part of treatment protocols. 
“I have always had an interest in science, which eventually led me to pursue an MPH in Health Education and Behavioral Science at UMDNJ,” she explains. “As a Hispanic woman who has raised two children, one with learning disabilities, my focus is always on health issues for racial and ethnic minorities and women, and access to care for disadvantaged populations. It was reflected in my international work at the CDC/Global AIDS Program and current work in behavioral health at SAMSHA.”

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Teaching the Art of Ultrasound

Garth Nanni, BS, RDMS, RVT, ’08
UMDNJ-School of Health Related Professions

“There is an art to sonography. It’s intuitive,” explains this clinical coordinator for the SHRP Vascular Sonography program who also works part-time at Holy Name Hospital in Teaneck. Nanni says, “We can talk about the technology aspect but it’s really a combination of art and technology. Ultrasound is very operator dependent. You produce a picture on a screen that someone else has to be able to interpret but just the slightest tweak of your hand can change that picture.” Nanni, who used to fantasize about becoming a professor, was recruited back to his alma mater to begin teaching in 2010, just two years after completing the 15 month graduate program at SHRP. His classes are small, from 9 to 30 students with an age range from 22 to 60. “I have a knack for conveying information and really getting people to learn.”

A 2005 Ramapo College graduate at age 31, “I wasn’t a kid then and also didn’t know what I wanted to do. I thought of nursing but really liked the non-invasive aspect of this area.” His undergraduate degree in psychology and substance abuse counseling actually comes in handy now because “as a sonographer, you are taking the medical history, asking where it hurts, and touching the patient. It’s very people-oriented.” In fact, he believes that having a great attitude and “the ability to really understand what the patient is feeling” are keys to his success. “Becoming skilled is like learning to play a musical instrument. You have to be good with your hands and I do play the guitar. You also have to practice to stay true. So you start with ‘Twinkle, twinkle, little star’ and with lots of practice, you are ready for the orchestra.”