From the Dean: Summer 2022
Valerie Weber, M.D., M.S.

The Boonshoft School of Medicine and Wright State University have been recognized as a hub for cutting-edge research impacting people and communities in our area and around the world.   

Upon my arrival to the Boonshoft School of Medicine (BSOM) over a year ago, I developed a vision for the next decade by focusing on providing an even greater impact on the community and those we serve. Building upon our research infrastructure to yield increased medical discovery is one very important way BSOM can achieve that vision and improve the health and life of people in the Miami Valley and beyond. Research is also a primary pillar of BSOM’s overall strategic plan, and factors greatly into the direction of the school in the near and distant future.

Charles Kettering, one of Dayton’s entrepreneurial trailblazers from the last century, said, “research means that you don’t know, but are willing to find out.” Like the great generations of Dayton scientists whose work precedes us, our BSOM community engages in this activity every day and is making great strides in patient care and treatment of disease. In this issue of Vital Signs, I am proud to highlight some of these efforts.

We share a story about a professor in biochemistry building on her postdoctoral work with muscle disease by investigating the role of a protein deficiency in patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Her research could affect the development of new therapies for patients with this disease and similar muscle-wasting conditions.   

A nearly 20-year journey led a neurosurgeon to BSOM as a professor of internal medicine and neurology, bringing with him research leading to a first-in-human clinical trial for Canavan disease, a first for Dayton Children’s Hospital. Learn how this trial is affecting the quality of life for impacted children in the United States and abroad.

Improving health outcomes affects the overall health of our communities. Examining biases that may exist in health care, and their effect on health outcomes, is critical, and especially important for those in medical education to understand. Read how two BSOM OB/GYN professors and physicians collaborated with colleagues from medical schools across the country to research, create, and share best practice strategies for incorporating health equity into medical education.

Fewer than 15 percent of medical schools offer a research track in orthopedics, and BSOM is one of them. Learn how BSOM’s elective research residency program in orthopedics has significantly boosted research production and our national visibility. This program is producing excellent surgeons with an understanding of evidence-based medicine through research experiences. Read how students are also benefiting from the residents’ work.

We all understand that it’s not always what is said, but rather how, that matters. Several BSOM students discovered this when they learned the method of delivery of COVID-19 information, particularly to people for whom English is not their primary language, affected trust in the accuracy of the information. This research can help the medical community best share health information with refugees.

As BSOM enters its fifth decade, right now is an important time. Abraham Lincoln said, “The most reliable way to predict the future is to create it.” The people and work highlighted in this issue are helping BSOM create our future and attain strategic goals and, more importantly, fulfill the hope for a better future for those in our community and beyond.


Dr. Janson
Vital Signs » Summer 2022
Dayton Children’s Hospital is the first in the world to use a new gene therapy to treat a patient with Canavan disease, which earned national attention.

In April 2021, a 4-year-old underwent a novel brain surgery at Dayton Children’s Hospital. With four catheters inserted through the little boy’s skull, the surgeon injected into his brain a fluid containing over 37 trillion viral particles, each containing DNA for a human gene, a first-of-its-kind experimental gene therapy for Canavan disease. For comparison, this huge number of microscopic particles injected into the brain is even more than the number of stars in the Milky Way galaxy.

Ren, Hongme
Vital Signs » Summer 2022

Muscular dystrophy is a group of inherited diseases characterized by weakness and wasting away of muscle tissue. Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is one of nine types of muscular dystrophy, and one of four conditions known as dystrophinopathies.

Mutations in the gene coding for the protein dystrophin, responsible for maintaining the structural integrity of muscle membrane cells, causes membrane leakage and muscle wasting. People with DMD suffer physical disability, immobility, and, often, premature death. Currently, there is no cure.

People at a conference
Vital Signs » Summer 2022

Various sources have published findings highlighting significant disparity in health outcomes between white patients and patients of color. Maternal mortality and morbidity continue to occur at unacceptably high rates in the United States, and rates are significantly higher among communities of color. Even when adjustments are taken into consideration for confounding factors, such as socioeconomic status, health outcomes for black patients are still worse than those for white patients.

Clintoria Williams, M.D.
Vital Signs » Summer 2022

Clintoria R. Williams, Ph.D., FAHA, is part of an up-and-coming group of biomedical researchers. She has been featured on the cover of The Physiologist Magazine, an international publication of the American Physiological Society. This is one of many achievements for Williams, who made national and international news with her research that has linked zinc deficiency to high blood pressure.

a brain colored with gradients
Vital Signs » Summer 2022

Among the most common—and serious—types of medical errors are failures of diagnosis. Sometimes these errors occur because doctors don’t even consider the proper diagnosis on their mental lists of possibilities.

Researchers at BSOM are studying how well young doctors can expand those lists of differential diagnoses by using mental techniques to help them access memories from their medical training.

brain transforming into digital squares
Vital Signs » Summer 2022

Studies have shown that doctors can be more effective when they ask better questions and let patients do more of the talking. But, too often, doctors fall back on the practice of educating and advising patients when the situation calls for better listening.

consultation illustration
Vital Signs » Summer 2022

BSOM is making a name for itself in orthopedics research, in part because of its research residency program.

BSOM is among fewer than 15 percent of medical schools in the United States to offer a research track in its orthopedics program. According to a 2019 article in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, only 23 of 196 U.S. orthopedic residency programs include a research track.

Juliann Althoff, M.D.
Vital Signs » Summer 2022

Juliann Althoff, M.D., an Ohio native, has traveled the world throughout her medical career. She has served and lived in Japan, Spain, and over 13 other locations throughout the world. She has served as the senior flight surgeon for Marine One, the presidential helicopter squadron. Now, she has returned to Dayton to continue assisting in research and to oversee operations for the Naval Medical Research Unit Dayton (NAMRU-D).

Vital Signs » Summer 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic underscored the difficulties in getting information about the virus, its vaccines, and preventative measures into the hands of global refugees and others in America with limited English language proficiency.

But research being conducted by BSOM students is probing refugees’ and immigrants’ knowledge and attitudes toward the pandemic and how to best reach them with potentially life-saving information.

Vital Signs » Summer 2022

Paul Koles, M.D.

Paul Koles, M.D., chair and associate professor with the BSOM Department of Pathology and associate professor with the BSOM Department of Surgery, retired in June 2021.

Ngozi F. Anachebe, Pharm.D., M.D.
Vital Signs » Summer 2022

Ngozi F. Anachebe, Pharm.D., M.D.

Ngozi F. Anachebe, Pharm.D., M.D., FACOG, was appointed to the position of vice dean for educational affairs last October. Her new role will bring the offices of student affairs, admissions, and medical education together to encompass the BSOM medical student educational experience.

Anachebe comes to the BSOM from Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, where she served as a faculty member, as well as senior associate dean for admissions and student affairs.