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Professional Notes: May 2024


Professional Notes is a round-up of awards, presentations, papers, and other professional achievements of SLU faculty, staff members, and students.

Faculty and Staff


Daniela Salvemini, Ph.D. (Pharmacology and Physiology), in collaboration with Washington University professor Stephanie Geisler, M.D., PhD. have been awarded an ICTS/CTRFP grant award of $50,000. The grant “Sphingolipidomics to identify small fiber neuropathy endotypes” will examine whether sphingolipids can be used as biomarkers to identify subgroups of patients with small fiber neuropathy, which may lead to the development of personalized, targeted therapies. There currently are no effective treatments for small fiber neuropathy.

Andrew Butler, Ph.D. (Pharmacology and Physiology) was awarded a two-year $416,625 grant by the National Institute of Aging titled "An investigation of the response of preclinical mouse models of dementia to adropin therapy" (R21 AG083451). Aging increases risk for cognitive decline due to neurodegenerative diseases, of which Alzheimer’s disease is most common.

Working with Susan Farr, Ph.D. (Pharmacology and Physiology) the goals of this award are to test the efficacy of a small, soluble peptide in protecting the brain and cognitive functions in a mouse model of accelerated aging.

The award will also determine whether loss of the peptide accelerates aging-related cognitive decline. This work will define the pathways through which this peptide preserves brain function in aging and could lead to a new therapy for treating Alzheimer’s disease. Other members of the team include Aubin Moutal, Ph.D. (Pharmacology and Physiology) and Geetika Aggarwal, Ph.D. (Internal Medicine).

Butler was also awarded a two-year $416,625 grant by the National Institute of Aging titled "Methods for treating aging-related cognitive decline and reducing risk of AD/ADRD by enhancing the endogenous expression of adropin" (R21 AG087308). The investigators of this award recently reported community-dwelling adults with low levels of the secreted peptide adropin have increased risk of cognitive decline.

Working with Andy Nguyen, Ph.D. (Internal Medicine and Pharmacology and Physiology) this funding will identify methods that induce long-term increases in the expression of the endogenous adropin protein.  The long-term objective of this project is to determine whether 3- to 6-monthly injections of a long-acting drug are effective at preserving cognition in aging. Other members of the team include Farr, Aggarwal, and Denise Smith (Internal Medicine).

Liberty Francois-Moutal, Ph.D. (Pharmacology and Physiology) was awarded a two-year $416,625 grant by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke titled “Unraveling how neuropathic pain synaptic transcriptome is signaled by G-quadruplex folds” (R21 NS137054). This funding aims to examine the changes in the synaptic transcriptome of the primary-secondary sensory afferents structure occurring in the spinal cord during synaptic gain of function in neuropathic pain at different time points and different sex. Completion of this work will yield a comprehensive map of the transcriptomic changes that occur in the synapse during neuropathic pain and examine the factors that contribute to this highly polarized transcriptomic population. Other members of the team include Moutal.

Gina Yosten, Ph.D. (Pharmacology and Physiology) was awarded an 18-month $162,000 grant from the Foundation of Prader Willi Research titled “Spatial Molecular Imaging of the Human PWS Hypothalamus” (1243623). Working with Grant Kolar, M.D., Ph.D. (Patholgy and Pharmacology and Physiology) this funding will allow for the investigation of spatial molecular profiles of cells of the hypothalamus using tissues from donors with Prader Willi Syndrome and matched control donors. The long-term objective of this study is to evaluate how spatially-driven interactions between the different cell types within the hypothalamus might contribute to the pathogenesis and symptomology of Prader Willi Syndrome, which could, hopefully, lead to the identification of novel therapeutic targets to ameliorate the unrelenting hunger experienced by patients with Prader Willi Syndrome. Megan Pater, a graduate student in Pharmacology and Physiology, and an expert in spatial molecular imaging, will play an instrumental role in this study.

Yosten was also awarded a 1-year $60,156 grant from the Foundation of Prader Willi Research titled “Evaluate Ultrastructure of Hypothalamic Tissues from Mouse and Rat Models of PWS and Human PWS Donors” (1314260). Working with Kolar, this project will investigate how deficiency of the MAGEL2 gene, which exhibits impaired expression in the setting of Prader Willi Syndrome, impacts secretory granule structure and function. The long term objective of this study is to determine whether impairments in secretory granule trafficking underly the phenotypes associated with Prader Willi Syndrome and other syndromes with MAGEL2 deficiency. 


Daniela Salvemini, Ph.D. (Pharmacology and Physiology) was honored by the National Institute of Health (NIH) and selected as the recipient of the NIH Director's Lecture Series for the 2024–2025 season. The NIH Director's Lecture Series is NIH most visible and prestigious lecture series. Speakers are nominated by NIH staff, selected by NIH scientific and clinical directors, and ultimately approved by the NIH Director. The lecture series is held on Wednesdays on the main NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland. NIH diverse scientific staff — from graduate students and postdoctoral fellows to NIH most senior principal investigators from all branches of biomedical and behavioral science research — attend these lectures. The lectures are webcast live for NIH viewers in remote locations, and they also count toward Continuing Medical Education for NIH clinical staff. Dr Salvemini’s lecture will be held on March 12th, 2025.

The Department of Campus Recreation and Wellness was featured as Campus Rec Magazine's Rec of the Month for April, 2024.

Tori Harwood (Campus Recreation and Wellness) was recognized at this year's national JASPA conference (Jesuit Student Affairs Professionals), held at Seattle University. Harwood was awarded the Ignatian Medal for the Outstanding New Professional in Jesuit Student Affairs. Awarded annually, the Ignatian Medal is conferred on individuals who have distinguished themselves within the first 1-5 years of their careers in higher education. Medal recipients are recognized for their strong sense of leadership to their job, have demonstrated a high level of skill or ability, and have shown an early record of success which stands above the norm.

Abigail Jorgensen, Ph.D. (Sociology and Anthropology) was named one of FemCatholic's "Women to Watch in 2024".

Media Appearances

Abigail Jorgensen, Ph.D. (Sociology and Anthropology) was featured in the University of Notre Dame's Evangelium Vitae Award video.

Liz Chiarello, Ph.D. (Sociology and Anthropology) wrote a piece celebrating trees on Arbor Day for the Riverfront Times.


Cheryl Rathert, Ph.D. (Health Management and Policy) and colleagues published the editorial in the 'Health Care Management Review' titled "Psychological work climates and health care worker well-being."

Steve Rigdon, Ph.D. (Epidemiology and Biostatistics), with colleagues, is publishing the textbook "Introduction to Probability and Statistics for Data Science." The textbook "provides a solid course in the fundamental concepts, methods and theory of statistics for students in statistics, data science, biostatistics, engineering, and physical science programs."

Rigdon and colleagues also published the research article "Comparisons of steady-state optimal EWMA and DEWMA charts" in the Quality and Reliability Engineering International journal. 

Keon L. Gilbert, Dr.PH(Behavioral Science and Health Equity) and colleagues from The Brookings Institution published the research findings from a recent project titled "Supporting a community-led data infrastructure to build local and equitable governance that advances policy." According to the authors, "This community data governance project aims to reimagine the framework of data governance through the lens of data ethics, justice, and community-engaged research."

Nori Katagiri, Ph.D. (Political Science) published his article titled “Between cyber retaliation and escalation: Explaining variation in state response to cyber attack” in Politics & Policy. He shows that the effectiveness of international rules to regulate cyberspace activities depends in part on how countries conduct cyber operations in partial accordance with the principle of proportionality. 

Katagiri also published his article titled “Advanced Persistent Threats and the “Big Four”: State-Sponsored Hackers in China, Iran, Russia, and North Korea in 2003-2021” in Comparative Strategy, Vol. 43, No. 3. He examined more than 100 semi-governmental hacking groups active in the last few years to study how they operate in cyberspace. He found that many of them conduct cyber attacks with close ties with the "big four" - governments in Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran. 

Beth Petitjean, Ph.D. (Reinert Center) has co-edited and contributed to a new book titled, "Charity, Medicine, and Religion in Late Medieval and Early Modern Italy: Essays in Memory of Philip R. Gavitt," published by the Centre for Renaissance and Reformation Studies, Victoria University (Toronto). Petitjean, a doctoral graduate of SLU's Department of History, was the driving force behind this project in recognition of her mentor, Professor Gavitt, who was a long-time professor in the History Department and an esteemed scholar of Italian history. 

Joanne C Langan, Ph.D. (Nursing) and colleagues published an article "Culture of safety and preparedness: Benefits of applying a daily mitigation mindset in the hospital setting" in International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

Langan also was the co-author of "No-notice disaster events in the hospital setting: Actions and observation of the nurse executive," which was published in the Journal of Nursing Scholarship, "Teaching Disaster Nursing Competencies: Strategies to succeed" published in the Journal of Nursing Education and "Mental health alternative interventions of Hispanic women with breast cancer: A state of the science review" published in Hispanic Health Care International.

Bruce O'Neill, Ph.D. (Sociology and Anthropology) published his book, "Underground: Dreams and Degradations in Bucharest," in the University of Pennsylvania Press’s book series, “The City in the Twenty-First Century.” Underground moves beneath Romania’s capital, Bucharest, to examine how gentrification extends urban life not just upward into higher skylines, and outward to ever more distant peripheries, but also downward beneath city sidewalks. O'Neill's previous book, The Space of Boredom: Homelessness in the Slowing Global Order, was published by Duke University Press in 2017. 

Anthony Breitbach, Ph.D. (Doisy College of Health Sciences) collaborated with 16 international colleagues on a white paper "Forward Thinking and Adaptability to Sustain and Advance IPECP in Healthcare Transformation Following the COVID-19 Pandemic" in the December 2023 issue of The Internet Journal of Allied Health Sciences and Practice. 

Breitbach also collaborated with colleagues Sabina Kupershmidt (University of South Dakota), Katie Bell (Pacific University), Amber Boyd (University of Cincinnati), Genevieve Zipp (Seton Hall University) on a publication "Innovative Model for Promoting Interprofessional Dialogue and Action Across Healthcare Stakeholders: The ASAHP Collaborative Stakeholder Engagement Model" in the March 2024 issue of the Journal of Allied Health.

Presentations and Conferences

Steve Rigdon, Ph.D. (Epidemiology and Biostatistics), with colleagues, presented and spoke at the 9th Stu Hunter Research Conference on Statistical Engineering. The conference alternates between Europe and North America, and this year was held in England. Dr. Rigdon presented the research titled "A Spatio-Temporal Analysis of the Country Level Spread of COVID in the United States."

Anthony Breitbach, Ph.D. (Doisy College of Health Sciences) served on the Planning Committee and moderated sessions for ""Exploring Strategies and Outcomes of Admissions Processes in Health Professions Education: A Workshop"" at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Global Forum on Innovation in Health Professional Education. The workshop was a multi-day event which consisted of two online Pre-Workshops developing a "Theory of Change for the Admissions Process" (Feb. 22) and "Guiding the Applicant" (March 6) with Michelle Rogers (Admissions) and Jen Perniciaro (Marketing and Communications) serving as panelists. The event culminated with a 2-day hybrid in-person session on March 27-28 in Washington, DC. Workshop resources and recordings of all sessions are available online.

Breitbach also served as the keynote speaker for the 2024 Baylor University Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences Interprofessional Education (IPE) Symposium "Bridging Disciplines: Breaking Barriers in Interprofessional Learning" online on March 26.  

Amanda L. Izzo, Ph.D. (Women’s and Gender Studies) gave a paper at the Missouri Conference on History (March 2024, Columbia, MO) titled “The Feminist Awakening of the St. Louis Teamsters.”

Heidi Ardizzone, Ph.D. (American Studies) gave a paper at the Missouri Conference on History (March 2024, Columbia, MO) titled “'Charles Anderson Day’: Local and National Black Catholic Activism in the Mid-Twentieth Century.”

Benjamin Looker, Ph.D. (American Studies) gave a paper at the Missouri Conference on History (March 2024, Columbia, MO) titled “The Great St. Louis Euchre Panic of 1910: How Women Card Enthusiasts Trumped a Killjoy Police Chief and Transfixed the City’s Press.”

Nori Katagiri, Ph.D. (Political Science) delivered a presentation in March titled "AI and government cyber operations" at the University of Missouri, Columbia. He spoke about, among other things,  how hackers have used AI to defeat government defense and why a few hacking organizations have been careful about the use of AI in cyber attacks. 

Diana Carlin, Ph.D. (Communication Emerita) took part in Women’s History Month celebration. Archivist of the United States Dr. Colleen Shogan led a panel discussion at the National Archives Museum in Washington, DC, March 4, focusing on the impact and legacy of America’s First Ladies. Participants included Carlin, Anita McBride, director of the First Ladies Initiative at American University, School of Public Affairs; and Nancy Kegan Smith, former director of the Presidential Materials Division of the National Archives. The three co-authored the new book "Remember the First Ladies: The Legacies of America's History-Making Women," which explores First Ladies’ unique position to influence American society, policy, diplomacy, and life in the White House and illuminates how many of them broke barriers to make a mark on our country and, at times, the world. 

Jac Lindish (Athletics) presented an oral presentation about the direct and indirect effects of midlife physical activity on the quality of life in Parkinson's Disease patients at APTA Combined Sections Meeting in Boston.


College for Public Health and Social Justice staff member Maggie Callon was recently named to the board of directors for the Vision for Children at Risk organization.


Sarah Carlson, left, and Kaitlin Codd, both third-year Physical Therapy students, traveled to Boston, MA in February to present at the largest Physical therapy conference in the nation, the American Physical Therapy Association's Combined Sections Meeting. Submitted photo.

Sarah Carlson, left, and Kaitlin Codd, both third-year Physical Therapy students, traveled to Boston, MA in February to present at the largest Physical therapy conference in the nation, the American Physical Therapy Association's Combined Sections Meeting. Submitted photo.

Sarah Carlson  and Kaitlin Codd , both third-year Physical Therapy students, traveled to Boston, MA in February to present at the largest Physical therapy conference in the nation, the American Physical Therapy Association's Combined Sections Meeting. They presented their project, titled "Fear of falling avoidance behavior is related to balance characteristics among individuals with Parkinson's disease" and discussed how their results may inform more targeted interventions for individuals with Parkinson's disease. 

Maximilian Strazny (Physical Therapy and Athletic Training) and Ryan Mueller (Science & Engineering) collaborated with Professor Ann Hayes, DPT (Physical Therapy and Athletic Training) in creating a three-dimensional model for assessing joint end-feels and presented their outcomes, at the Combined Sections Meeting of the American Physical Therapy Association held in Boston, MA on February, 15-17, 2024. The project, entitled “Enhancing Healthcare Education: A Model for Joint End-Feel Replication” was funded through the Saint Louis University Irma Ruebling Endowed Research Fund. 

Gregory Carr   (Ph.D. student, American Studies) gave a paper at the Missouri Conference on History (March 2024) titled “Razed Hopes: The Systematic Erasure of the Evans Place Community.”


Four Applied Portfolio Management students from the Richard A. Chaifetz School of Business recently placed first in the St. Louis Regional competition of the CFA Institute Research Challenge, competing against teams from Washington University, University of Illinois, Southern Illinois University - Carbondale, Lindenwood University, and Maryville University. 

Lea Devantier, Kasra Nassirpour, Hengrui Wang, and Luke Haras are alumni of the Applied Portfolio Management program in the Chaifetz School of Business, and were led by their professor and faculty mentor Thomas Doellman, Ph.D. (Finance) and industry mentor James Shanahan of Edward Jones. 

The challenge is an annual global competition that provides students with hands on experience in the world of financial analysis. The teams act as research analysts and are judged for their ability to value a stock, write a research report, and present their recommendation to buy, sell, or hold the stock. The Chaifetz team competed against students from top universities in the region and placed first for their work. 

Students from the Doisy College of Health Sciences, College for Public Health and Social Justice, and School of Medicine at Saint Louis University  participated in the third annual International Interprofessional Case Competition (I2C2) with other students from around the world. Students were assigned to small interprofessional teams with participants from other institutions to work through a patient case. 

During the competition, students gained valuable interprofessional experience resolving a complex clinical case with their team, which consisted of learners across cultures, professions, institutions and countries. The teams then collaborated creatively to develop a video sharing their team’s solution. 

SLU Health Sciences student Caden Seaman; Medical Sciences student Angam Hamdan; Nutrition and Dietetics student Joseph Mrazek; Radiation Therapy student Yumin Jeong; Health Administration student Umamah Zaki, and School of Medicine students Grace Trello, Matthew Whalen, and Mickie Piechowski participated in the competition against teams with individuals representing the United States, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Egypt and South Africa. 

Anthony Breitbach, Ph.D. (Doisy College of Health Sciences) and Katherine Mathews, M.D. (Obstetrics & Gynecology) served as mentors and judges for the competition.