UCNI Celebrates its 2013 Healthcare Heroes

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From left, Health Care Heroes honorees Christopher McPherson, MD, Yash Patil, MD, and George Atweh, MD. All are affiliated with the UC Brain Tumor Center and the UC Cancer Institute. Photos by Cindy Starr.

Whether he received highest honors or simply the honor of being a finalist in the Cincinnati Business Courier’s 2013 Health Care Heroes event, Yash Patil, MD, was prepared to continue doing what he does best: provide compassionate and superior care to his patients with head and neck cancer at the UC Neuroscience Institute, one of four institutes of the UC College of Medicine and UC Health. “My 6-year-old asked what I would do if I didn’t win,” Dr. Patil told the packed ballroom at the Duke Energy Convention Center Tuesday evening. “I said, I’ll put on my scrubs and go to work tomorrow.”

As it turned out, that humility and dedication to his patients helped make Dr. Patil a winner in the provider category. “I’m phenomenally humbled,” he said, during a short impromptu speech. “I’m privileged to be in this room with so many extraordinary individuals.”

Dr. Patil, Assistant Professor in the Department of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, was nominated by one of his grateful patients, Bill Budde, and Mr. Budde’s wife, Jayme, who helped Dr. Patil launch a support group for people with head and neck cancer. “Dr. Patil has given a voice to all of us, even those who are physically unable to speak,” the Buddes wrote in their nomination. “He is our hero—and his unselfish example has helped each of us who have been affected by this terrifying disease to find the little piece of hero in ourselves.”

In turn, Dr. Patil praised the hundreds of patients he treats each year and the dozens each week who receive good news or sorrowful news about their prognoses. He commended the patients who have assisted and nurtured each other in the support group for people with oral cancers, which are painful and potentially disfiguring.

Dr. Patil was joined by two additional cancer experts at the event: George Atweh, MD, Director of the UC Cancer Institute, who was a finalist in the manager category; and Christopher McPherson, MD, a specialist with the UC Brain Tumor Center who was a finalist in the innovator category. The Brain Tumor Center is part of both the Neuroscience and Cancer institutes.

John Hawkins, MD, of the Lindner Center of HOPE

John Hawkins, MD, left, Chief of Psychiatry and Deputy Chief of Research at the Lindner Center of HOPE, an affiliate of UCNI, was named the winner in the innovator category for efforts in the delivery and research of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). The therapy, a treatment for medication-resistant depression, is a noninvasive procedure that uses an electromagnetic coil to stimulate nerve cells in the brain. It was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2008.

Dr. Hawkins, Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience, views the therapy as an important alternative for people who have not responded well to medications and psychotherapy. As a researcher, Dr. Hawkins is collecting data related to safety, patient outcomes and the most effective methods of delivering the treatment.

“The Lindner Center of HOPE was the first healthcare organization in Ohio to provide TMS, and under the guidance of Dr. Hawkins, remains one of few that continue to do so,” says Paul Keck, MD, President and CEO at the Lindner Center. “To date, 26 individuals have received TMS, with 33 percent experiencing complete remission (healthy and recovered) of depression, and 62.5 percent at least partial improvement. These are impressive findings since nearly all individuals who have received TMS at the Center of HOPE had few if any other treatment alternatives. In this very real sense, TMS has offered genuine hope where none would have existed to people with depression.”

Dr. McPherson, Associate Professor in the UC Department of Neurosurgery, was honored for his growing national role in the research and treatment of brain tumors. He is currently involved in 11 clinical trials that could lead to better treatments for malignant gliomas.

Dr. McPherson is Cincinnati’s principal investigator in The Cancer Genome Atlas, a national study that seeks to map out the glioblastoma and gliomas tumors’ entire genomes in order to identify abnormalities at the molecular level that could be targets for therapies of the future. He is also Cincinnati’s principal investigator in the Ohio Brain Tumor Research Study, which is looking at risk factors for brain tumors.

Dr. Atweh is the Koch Chair and Professor in the Department of Internal Medicine’s Division of Hematology/Oncology at UC. He also directs the adult cancer program at the UC Health Barrett Center and is Associate Director of adult medical oncology for the Cincinnati Cancer Consortium.

Dr. Atweh was recruited to UC in March 2009 from Mt. Sinai Medical Center, where he headed up the hematology/oncology division and served as Interim Director of the Tisch Cancer Institute and Associate Director of the General Clinical Research Center. He studied medicine at the American University of Beirut and performed fellowships at Duke University and Yale University.

— Cindy Starr

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