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Scorpion Antivenom News Lights Up Times Square

When the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Anascorp® for the treatment of scorpion sting Aug. 3, the news traveled far and wide. Media reports circulated around the world, and a very large image of an Arizona bark scorpion, photographed by Jeb Zirato of AHSC BioCommunications, found its way to the Reuters billboard in Times Square.

The FDA approval is a historic event. Anascorp is the first antivenom known to be approved by the FDA and, researchers believe, the first drug fully developed in Latin America to win FDA approval. For Leslie Boyer, MD, UA pediatrician and toxicologist, founding director of the VIPER Institute at the UA College of Medicine and lead investigator on clinical trials of the drug, the approval is the culmination of a nearly 12-year collaboration of the University of Arizona; the Institute of Biotechnology of the UNAM (National Autonomous University of Mexico); Mexico City-based Instituto Bioclon, manufacturer of the antivenom; and Bioclon's U.S. partner, Rare Disease Therapeutics Inc. of Tennessee.

In Arizona, which has the highest concentration of dangerous bark scorpions in the United States, about 8,000 scorpion stings occur each year. Several hundred of these result in serious nerve poisoning and require medical treatment. Nearly all of these patients are young children, whose breathing may be affected severely by the effects of the venom. Without antivenom, children stung by scorpions typically require heavy sedation and intensive supportive care and, often, a ventilator.

Dr. Boyer and her colleagues have conducted clinical trials of the antivenom since 2003. Ultimately, they created a network of 28 hospitals, most in Arizona, where almost 2,000 patients with severe reactions to scorpion sting have been treated with the investigative drug.

Andreas Theodorou, MD, UA professor of pediatrics, chief medical officer at University Medical Center and a member of the research team, says, "This antivenom basically takes symptoms away in a very short time. What was a life-threatening disease that would put kids in the pediatric ICU has become, for most of them, an outpatient disease."

Dr. Samuel Keim Named Interim Head of UA Department of Emergency Medicine

Samuel M. Keim, MD, vice head and professor of emergency medicine and residency program director for the Department of Emergency Medicine, has been appointed interim head of the Department of Emergency Medicine.

Dr. Keim accepted this role following the decision of Harvey Meislin, MD, to step down. Dr. Meislin served as head of emergency medicine at the UA College of Medicine since 1980, when the Section of Emergency Medicine was established, and was service chief of emergency services at University Medical Center. He is continuing as a professor of emergency medicine and director of the Arizona Emergency Medicine Research Center.

Dr. Keim received a bachelor of science degree from Northern Arizona University, where he studied microbiology, chemistry and Spanish. He is a 1985 graduate of the UA College of Medicine, and he completed a residency in emergency medicine at the Los Angeles County King Drew Medical Center in 1988. He is board-certified in emergency medicine and is a fellow of the American College of Emergency Physicians and the American Academy of Emergency Medicine.  He has also received a master's degree in clinical epidemiology from the UA Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health. 

Dr. Keim has authored numerous peer-reviewed original scientific papers related to heat stroke, physician wellness, research methodology and evidence-based medicine. He has authored many textbook chapters and is editor of the McGraw-Hill handbook, Emergency Medicine On Call. He also is the section editor for evidence-based medicine for The Journal of Emergency Medicine and has served as author and medical editor for eMedicine Emergency Medicine and eMedicine Health.

Dr.Todd Vanderah Named Interim Head of UA Department of Pharmacology

Todd W. Vanderah, PhD, professor in the Department of Pharmacology with a joint appointment in the Departments of Anesthesiology and Neurology and director of the Graduate Medical Pharmacology Program, was named interim head of the UA Department of Pharmacology following Dr. Glenn Sipes' retirement, June 30.

Dr. Vanderah is a UA alum who completed his doctoral degree in pharmacology and toxicology and a post-doctoral fellowship in pharmacology at the UA. After completing a second fellowship at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, he returned to the UA as a faculty member in 1997. He has earned numerous honors and awards for teaching and research, including the Furrow Award for Excellence in Basic Science Teaching (2006); the Dean's List for Excellence in Teaching in the Basic Sciences (2006-2008); Year I Basic Sciences Educator of the Year (2003, 2009); Academy of Medical Education Scholars and the Better-Than-Ever Award in Breast Cancer Research (2009-2010), along with several NIH grant research awards.

Dr. Vanderah is active in the community, speaking to middle and high school students about drugs and drug abuse and lecturing on chronic pain to groups throughout Arizona. He is an associate editor for Brain Research, a section editor for Life Sciences and Journal of Chronic Pain & Symptom Palliation.  His research interests focus on acute and chronic pain, with a current emphasis on bone cancer pain.

Dr. Melissa Cox Joins UA Department of Pediatrics, University Physicians Healthcare

Melissa Cox, DO, has joined the UA Department of Pediatrics and University Physicians Healthcare as an assistant professor in the Section of Hospital Medicine and Outreach.

As a pediatric hospitalist, Dr. Cox will provide care for hospitalized children at Diamond Children's at University Medical Center.

Dr. Cox completed medical school at Touro University College of Osteopathic Medicine. She completed her residency in pediatrics at the University of Nevada School of Medicine's University Medical Center and Sunrise Children's Hospital.  

Dr. Cox has additional clinical interests in adolescent medicine, preventive pediatrics, community outreach and resident education.

Dr. Claire P. Morello Joins UA Department of Pediatrics, University Physicians Healthcare

Claire P. Morello, MD, has joined the UA College of Medicine Department of Pediatrics and University Physicians Healthcare as a clinical assistant professor in the Section of General Pediatrics.

As a general pediatrician with an emphasis in adolescent medicine, Dr. Morello will provide care for teenagers at the Arizona Elks Clinic for Children and Young Adults at University Medical Center and the Teen Clinic at the UPH Children's Multi-specialty Center at Wilmot.

Dr. Morello completed medical school at Wayne State University and her residency in pediatrics at Loyola University Medical Center. She spent an additional year at Loyola serving as chief resident. Dr. Morello went on to complete a fellowship in adolescent medicine at Loyola University Medical Center.

Dr. Morello has special interests in adolescent gynecology and general adolescent health. She is board certified by the American Board of Pediatrics.

Dr. Heddwen Brooks to Serve American Physiological Society

Heddwen L. Brooks, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Physiology at the UA College of Medicine and a member of the UA Sarver Heart Center and BIO5, has been elected chair of the Renal Section of the American Physiological Society (APS). During this three-year appointment, she will provide leadership to more than 2,500 researchers, chair the Renal Section Gottschalk Distinguished Lectureship Committee and serve on the APS Section Advisory Committee and the APS Nominating Committee.

The American Physiological Society is a nonprofit devoted to fostering education, scientific research and dissemination of information in the physiological sciences. Founded in 1887 with 28 members, APS today has more than 10,500 members.

Dr. Julia Hardeman Attends AAMC Seminar

Julia Hardeman, MD, assistant professor in the UA Department of Family and Community Medicine, attended the AAMC Early Career Women Faculty Professional Development Seminar in July in Washington, D.C. She was among only 150 individuals from a competitive pool of applicants selected to participate in the seminar.

The goal of the program is to provide an introduction to the knowledge and skills needed to follow the path to leadership in academic medicine. The seminar curriculum included strategic communication skills, negotiation skills and leadership topics. Small-group sessions focused on mentoring participants in additional career-building skills.

Dr. Hardeman earned her medical degree at the University of Iowa College of Medicine, and completed a residency through the University of Iowa Department of Family Medicine Pella Rural Track Program. Following residency, she relocated to a remote section of the Navajo Reservation in Northern Arizona, where she provided primary care to patients with a variety of acute and chronic health-care needs at the Inscription House Health Center. She joined the UA College of Medicine faculty in 2008. Currently, she is the associate program director of the University of Arizona/UPHK GME Consortium Family Medicine Residency