Category Archives: Health


Construction at HSC to proceed despite funding cuts

By Simon Isham—

U of L’s medical school was recently denied funding for a new medical instructional building on the Health Sciences Campus, but Dean Toni Ganzel said this will not prevent the school from complying with the Liaison Committee on Medical Education’s verdict that the instructional facilities are inadequate.

“We didn’t depend on that to address our issue, because, quite honestly, when the LCME representatives left, they didn’t think our facilities were adequate to support a contemporary curriculum. And at that point, I said to our leadership group, ‘We are not going to get a new building in two years. It’s just physically impossible, even if they approved it today. So we really need to take a different approach. Let’s get our architects back in here and see if they can take a look at our existing building and see if we can do a major renovation in that building and accomplish the goals that we need to accomplish to really be able to support that kind of program,’” she said.

“It turned out that the whole north half of the building didn’t contain those load-bearing walls, and that allowed us to basically completely gut that on each floor, and build a wonderful new, contemporary educational space … The students had input into the design, and faculty had input, administration had input, and it was really a wonderful collaborative project. I think we are still going to need the other educational building, but I really see that now repurposed into an interprofessional educational building and conference center. But in order to meet the LCME requirements, the current renovation plan will do that.”

Ganzel said that the current renovation will be finished before students return to campus in August. The official timeline for the project has it finished by the end of July.

In March, the LCME informed the medical school that it would be placed on probation as a result of a visit by LCME reviewers in April 2013. The reviewers noted the following problems pertaining to the facilities:

  • “There were concerns with the student lounge and the library study environment. Upgrades to the student lounge were in progress at the time of the survey visit. There are plans to increase study space in the library.”
  • “… 22 percent of all students are dissatisfied with the library hours.”
  • “Both faculty and students note problems with the educational facilities. A significant proportion of the student body is dissatisfied with the lecture hall facilities due to the number of seats, an insufficient number of electrical outlets to support laptops, intermittent technology failures during educational sessions and environmental room control. Current auditoria seat 160 for (a first-year medical student) class of 164 … Faculty expressed concern about the adequacy of small group rooms.”
  • “… over 25 percent of third- and fourth-year medical students express dissatisfaction with storage space, with only 44 percent satisfied.”
  • “… only 57 percent of students were satisfied with the student lounge.”
  • “The main instructional building for the school was built in 1970 and last renovated in 2003. The team toured the facilities and concluded that the education facilities may not be adequate … The library was built in 1970 and has not been renovated since the initial construction.”
  • “The main instructional facilities for first- and second-year medical students are dated and do not provide adequate space to accommodate the entire current class size … Specific mention is made of crowding during examination situations and failed electronic facilities during class sessions. The ventilation of the anatomy laboratories is described as ‘substandard’ … The current audiovisual system frequently malfunctions.”
  • “The greatest collective concern, noted in the free text comments, regarding facilities, was the overall lack of cleanliness and maintenance, which includes excessive garbage, in study areas and restrooms, and poor maintenance of the hallways, labs, lecture halls and restrooms.”
  • “Several students expressed a desire that security surveillance cameras be placed in the instructional buildings for times of late-night studying.”

The Cardinal did not receive any of the many appendices to the report.

The Cardinal also placed an open records request with the university for any and all construction-related request for proposals for the Health Sciences Campus made the visit. An RFP is used to invite bids from contracting companies to complete specific jobs. The request yielded nine documents, two of which were related to classroom and study facilities.

HSC leadership plan to renovate the study rooms in Kornhauser Library and to construct classrooms in the School of Medicine Instructional Building. The Kornhauser RFP is dated Jan. 3, 2014. The Instructional Building RFP is undated.

In Kornhauser, the plan is to develop ”five new small group study rooms within the existing Kornhauser Health Sciences Library.” Prefabricated walls will be used to turn an open study area into the five rooms. Plans for electrical work for an 4,000 square foot open study area are also mentioned.

In the Instructional Building, the plan is to renovate “a portion” of the building. “This project will construct lecture halls and small group teaching space on the north half of the first and second floors. The total project is approximately 1,100 (net square feet) per floor.”

The RFP notes that the construction must operate on a tight timeline, from mid-May to the end of July, so that it coincides with summer class break.

Constructing an entirely new, 51,000-square foot instructional building on the HSC has been a high priority for the university for years. In its 2010-2012 plan submitted to the state legislature, the building was listed as the fourth priority and was estimated to cost $42.4 million, the full amount of which would come out of the state’s budget. The plan was denied that year, and the support requested from the general fund has only increased since.

In U of L’s 2012-2014 plan,  the building was listed as the second priority, and was estimated to cost $67 million. The size of the building had increased to 81,000 square feet, and the reason given for the increase in price was the addition of these 30,000 square feet and “inflation.” The summary of the construction, provided by the university, included:

  • The construction of two large lecture halls seating approximately 200 students
  • A series of smaller seminar rooms
  • Computer testing facilities
  • A new Gross Anatomy Instructional Laboratory, which will support an increase in class size in both the Medical and Dental schools, and will allow the display of MRI, computer tomography and x-ray images
  • An expansion of the existing instructional space, and renovation of smaller group spaces
  • “Modernization” of the Kornhauser Library

One planned renovation to the Kornhauser Library has already been completed.

Earlier this month, the most recent General Fund request said the project had grown to $71. 7 million, of which half would be provided from the General Fund and half would be provided by U of L. It was one of the first items cut from the budget by the Senate, though 166 other U of L-specific projects will be funded.

One of these projects was a new classroom building on the Belknap campus, the university’s top priority for funding. Ganzel hopes that the new HSC building will now be the top priority at the next biennial general fund budget session.

If built, the new building will be located between the current instructional building and Kornhauser Library. The building will replace some of the courtyard, with the fountain being removed.

Dr. Peter Hasselbacher, a former member of the U of L School of Medicine faculty, and a former member of its accreditation board, said he thought that the construction plans sounded as if they were heading in the right direction.

“The trend in medical education is going away from lectures to small group learning and self-instruction. And they just didn’t have the facilities for that. They need more places for students to study together, like law students do.  There’s a trend for that in medicine, and that’s another reason why the old facilities were inadequate, not just having enough seats for the behinds, not just having enough plugs for the computers. It’s a change in the way that medicine is being taught now,” he said.

Here are the links to the documents that the Cardinal obtained via FOIA request from the university, pertaining to the LCME’s decision to place the medical school on probation:

Handout photo of the first four to undergo task-specific training with epidural stimulation at the Human Locomotion Research Center laboratory, Frazier Rehab Institute in Louisville

U of L researcher helps paralyzed move again

By Jacob Pleas–

A U of L neuroscientist has given motion to the motionless.

Susan Harkema, rehabilitation research director of the Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center, found that paralyzed patients were able to move their toes when electrical stimulation was applied directly to their spinal cord.

This is the first time electrical stimulation has allowed for voluntary activity.

The patients are now able to do things ranging from wiggling their toes to doing crunches. Although they are not sure why the process works, experts believe that this technology is a major step toward allowing the paralyzed to walk again.

“Improving the technology is a high priority because it will be needed in order to make any gains in mobility a reality in daily life,” said Harkema.

In the procedure, a stimulator is implanted into the patient and is controlled by an external remote controller.  The stimulator is connected to the spinal cord via wires, which conduct the electric pulses.

The device has had other benefits.  One patient has had great success in improving his bladder, bowels and sexual performance.  Patients are able to move their legs and torsos after years of paralysis, allowing them to regain lost muscle.

Since the discovery, over 1,700 people have asked about utilizing this technology. U of L has received funding to implant the device in eight more patients.

“We need more studies to understand both its safety and efficacy in a wider population,” said Harkema.

Only men have been researched so far. Harkema hopes to begin research on women soon. “Only 25 percent of the spinal cord population are women so they are more difficult to recruit,” said Harkema.

The biomedical and electrical engineering departments at U of L are working with Harkema’s team.

“I am proud to be a part of a school that is that is making such exciting discoveries,” said bioengineering major Ryan Bailer.  “I believe that these discoveries add prestige to both J.B. Speed School of Engineering and the University of Louisville Medical School.”

Photo courtesy Reuters


U of L medical school placed on probation

By Simon Isham & Olivia Krauth–

The body that accredits U of L’s medical school last week placed it on probation, a step just short of withdrawing accreditation. Incoming and current medical school students told The Cardinal that it does not change their perception of the school.

“I am confident that our school will address all issues being cited,” said Matthew Woeste, president of U of L School of Medicine’s class of 2017.  “Our leadership will be very active over the next year working closely with the LCME to ensure we come into full compliance. Many of the necessary changes are already in place, which mitigates my initial concerns. This probation will be a catalyst for positive change at our university. I would choose my medical school again and again.

“The cost of medical education is undoubtedly high. I consider it one of the greatest investments I can make. I also realize our tuition is most appropriately invested into our educators and clinical experience. Both of which I would argue are the best in the state.”

One future U of L medical school student said she isn’t alarmed by the probationary status, despite the fact that the school may lose its accreditation in 2015.  “It reassures me that they’re going to be up-to-date on curriculum changes and they’ll have their new facilities,” said Megan Parker, sophomore psychology major and participant in U of L’s Guaranteed Entrance to Medical School (GEMS) program.

The medical school emailed admitted students about the probation and told them what changes the school plans to implement in response.

Dr. Toni Ganzel, dean of the U of L School of Medicine, says that the school is still a quality institution.

“If you look at our student performance and outcomes, oh, we have a great story to tell,” said Ganzel. “Our numbers are better than ever.” She said U of L medical students perform above the national average in several national medical licensing examinations, including a 99 percent pass rate on step one of the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination.


Administration knew of problems that led to probation

The Liaison Committee on Medical Education, which accredits all American medical schools, pointed out nine changes U of L must make within two years. Despite the probationary status, the university remains fully accredited.

A press release from the university said it will have to make nine policy changes to be restored to good standing. According to LCME regulations, medical schools are required to notify their students and faculty about probationary status, but not when given a warning. LCME does not comment on its warnings.

Ganzel said the school has two years to correct some specific areas that are part of the 131 LCME standards.

Specifically, the nine unmet standards were:

Not having enough active learning

Differing performance measures across sites

Needing more written feedback for students

Needing more integration across disciplines

Not having enough seats for students

Needing more reviews of their curriculum

The lack of academic affiliations with healthcare providers

A lack of lockers for all students at clinical sites

A need for more interaction between faculty across sites

The dean said the unmet standards boil down to two areas of concern:  the condition of the preclinical instructional building and pace of preclinical curricular change. The LCME noted overflowing lecture halls and cramped student study spaces.

Woeste explained that each lecture hall currently holds 160 students, with an “overflow room that streams live classroom events.” He also noted that many classes utilize Tegrity, leading to independent learning for some students.

More than three-fourths of medical students reported to U of L in April 2013 they are pleased with the study spaces available to them saying they were satisfied or very satisfied. LCME found issues with these study spaces, and Ganzel said they will be renovated soon.

The building was cited as a challenge in an April 2013 Institutional Self-Study Report, prepared by U of L for the LCME. The building was described as “adequate, but not state-of-the-art,” and it said that the lecture halls “have been updated as much as possible within the constraints of the physical structure and building codes…”

Ganzel told the Cardinal that the LCME had pointed out the inadequacy of the preclinical instructional building in earlier inspections. “They had cited us on that last time,” said Ganzel on the last LCME inspection in 2006. “We tried to make the case, at our visit a year ago, that although the building was not optimal, but it was adequate,” said Ganzel. “But the site visit team, in their judgment, felt that the building was not adequate.”

Two months ago, Ganzel gave a presentation before the Greater Louisville Medical Society in which she mentioned the inadequacy of the medical school’s facilities.

According to a U of L press release, the new building will have “two large interactive lecture halls, small group learning labs and classrooms, a new student lounge and private study areas” when completed. Architects were brought in to “completely redesign” the instructional space. Ganzel said construction has begun and the renovations are expected to be complete when students return to class this coming August.

The medical school was switching from a discipline-based curriculum to a more integrated one when Ganzel saw other schools being cited by the LCME on curricular matters.

“It’s a huge, time-consuming process,” said Ganzel about revamping curriculum. “Usually, it takes about three years and I said, ‘We’re going to have to blitz and really work to do this.’” The new curriculum will roll out this summer.


Timing of LCME report not to

U of L’s advantage

The LCME visited the university in April 2013. Ganzel, who was then interim dean of the medical school, said that many of the changes recommended in April of 2013 have already been completed, and that others are on the way.

“We are really disappointed with the probationary status, but I’m glad that the changes they are requesting that we make are things that we already implemented this year or are being implemented this coming year,” said Ganzel. Although she said several of the recommended changes were implemented in the time since LCME’s 2013 visit, LCME cannot consider them in a reevaluation.

The medical school will submit an official action plan in August, which will be considered at LCME’s October 2014 meeting. Ganzel anticipates a follow-up visit from LCME in July 2015, with a final decision on probation in Oct. 2015. A consultant from LCME will assist the medical school during the period.

“They’re holding schools to a level of accountability on the specific details of those standards that has really increased over the past few years,” said Ganzel.

When asked if LCME’s standards should reflect more on student performance, Ganzel said, “Outcome is really important. Process is important, but outcome is really key.

“They’re the ones that make the standards, and I, and other deans I know, share that vision of quality. Whatever those standards are, we will do everything we need to insure that those needs are met.”

Former professor speaks out

Dr. Peter Hasselbacher, president of the Kentucky Health Policy Institute and a former professor at U of L’s medical school, posted an entry on the KHPI’s blog the day after the school was officially placed on probation. In the post, he suggested that the nine areas of improvement Ganzel spoke about were not complete or specific.

“I have the greatest respect for Dr. Ganzel. I think she’s one of the more honest, good people at the medical school,” he said. “I think she outlined some of the major areas (from the LCME report), but most of the major areas can circumscribe everything that a medical school does … The LCME would not have pulled the trigger for minor things, things that were unimportant, so I’m assuming that there was more. It’s not her job to air all of the school’s dirty laundry.”

Hasselbacher said he believes that “the nine, not-too-terrible sounding” reasons detailed in the “Business First” article are not the sole reasons for the probation, and that there were many pages more to the report than the summaries shared with the media. He said he believes there is more to the story.

Hasselbacher said: “There are things that the school doesn’t like to talk about, like its relationship with Kentucky One Health and Catholic Health Initiatives. That was obviously a problem for the (LCME) reviewers. It’s a sensitive subject over there. When the reviewers read the contract, the affiliation agreement with Kentucky One, they thought that it invalidated many other affiliation agreements. But it may be that that agreement was rewritten, and I believe Dr. Ganzel implied that it was.”

The Cardinal has made an open-records request for the LCME report and letter, which is currently pending.

“I’ve sat on the accreditation committee for the medical school, years ago, and I know what a lot of the issues are,” said Hasselbacher. “I like to think that I can read between the lines and see just what it is that bothers the LCME.”

“I’m disappointed, ashamed, embarrassed. Members of my family went to U of L. I worked there for almost 20 years. But I must say, I’m not entirely surprised; things have not been going well for the medical school in the last few years. There have been many warnings. It may have lost its focus on the academic programs there. I think the school has denied that fact, but it’s hard to deny it now.”


U of L researchers link new genes to ab fat

By Howard Stikes—

Dr. Kira Taylor and her team of scientists from around the world recently uncovered new genes linked to abdominal fat, here at the University of Louisville School of Public Health and Information Sciences.

“We believe this discovery holds great opportunity and potential for medicinal chemistry along with personalized medicine,” said Taylor. “If scientists are able to fine-tune the expression of these genes we could potentially reduce the risk of excessive fat in the mi-section and it’s consequences.“

Abdominal fat is a measurement of a person’s waist-to-hip ratio (WHR). It is estimated that genetics accounts for 30 to 60 percent of WHR. Taylor and her team have identified five new genes associated with increased WHR. “We are learning more everyday through our research and getting closer to developing medications to treat obesity or obesity-related diseases,” Taylor said.


Obesity in the United States is in epidemic proportions. Two thirds of the population is either overweight or obese. Data from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention along with the Food Research and Action Center estimate that 68.8 percent of adults are overweight or obese. 35.7 percent are obese. Estimates for children and adolescents were 31.8 percent being obese or overweight. 16.9 percent are obese.

Abdominal fat has been found as the precursor to diseases ranging from hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, depression and kidney stones, fatty liver disease, cancer and erectile dysfunction. “Being of normal weight can be protective of developing these diseases,” Taylor said.

She said we are still a ways off from having a pill to take that replaces a disciplined lifestyle. “Although genes can make one person more susceptible to obesity than another, diet and exercise are still the keys to being healthy and reducing abdominal fat, thus reducing the risks associated with obesity.“

Photo courtesy

Snow 3-1

How to stay safe in the brutal cold

By: Howard Stikes – 

More single-digit temperatures, snow and ice are predicted for this week in many parts of the country, including Louisville.

While going through this season, being safe is the ultimate goal. Hypothermia and frostbite can happen in a matter of minutes if you don’t recognize and protect yourselves, loved ones and neighbors against these hazards of arctic-like temperatures.

No one can stop the onset of winter, however, the Center for Disease Control lists several ways to prepare to stay safe, warm and healthy during cold temperatures.

  • Be prepared to check on family and neighbors that are especially at risk from cold weather hazards. Young children, older adults and the chronically ill. Pets are at risk if not brought inside. If you cannot bring them inside, provide adequate, warm shelter and unfrozen water to drink.
  • When spending time outdoors if you’re working, travelling or enjoying winter sports, make sure you limit your exposure to safety hazards.
  • Wear proper outdoor clothing: layers of light warm clothing like mittens, hats, scarves and waterproof boots. Use cat litter or sand on patches of ice. Learn safety precautions to follow when outdoors. Be aware of the wind chill factor. Work slowly when doing outside chores. Take a buddy and an emergency kit when you are participating in outdoor recreation and carry a cell phone.
  • Get your car ready for cold weather before winter arrives. Service the radiator and check the antifreeze levels. Check your tires for tread and if necessary replace them with snow or all-weather tires. Keep your gas tank full to prevent ice in the tank and fuel lines. Use a wintertime formula in your windshield washer. Prepare a winter emergency kit that you keep in your car in case you become stranded. Your kit should include blankets, booster cables, flares, a tire pump, food and water. You may need a compass and maps along with a flashlight, battery-powered radio and extra batteries. Plastic bags for sanitation, a first-aid kit, sand or cat litter for traction.
  • Winterize your homes and be prepared for weather-related emergencies including power outages. Stock foods that need no cooking or refrigeration along with water stored in clean containers. Keep battery-operated devices like flashlights, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radios and lamps. Have on hand extra batteries, baby items, up-to-date emergency kits and extra medicine.

Winter storms and cold temperatures can be hazardous and even fatal. Planning ahead can help you stay safe and healthy.

For additional tips regarding safety during cold weather, visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website at

Photo by Sasha Perez/Louisville Cardinal



Dr. Diane Harper

Esteemed U of L doctor talks family, science

Howard Stikes–

She has appeared on shows with Dr. Oz and Katie Couric. In the spring of 2013, in Monte Carlo, the Prince and Princess of Monaco presented her with the Prix Monaco. This award honors an international female role model for their work throughout the world serving humanity. She is recognized internationally for her dedication and accomplishments as a researcher, teacher and clinician in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of the human papilloma virus, HPV-associated diseases.
Adding to her endless list of accomplishments, Dr. Diane Harper, chair of the department of family and geriatric medicine at the University of Louisville, she is a wife and proud mother of two sons.
“I grew up in Kansas City. My mother was from the state of Missouri and father was from Kansas. Living on the border of those two states was like the compromise of both worlds. My mother was a school teacher and my father was an engineer,” said Harper.
She said, “I am the older of two children, I have a sister.” She said her mother was an incredible role model for her sister and herself. “She was graceful, poised, intellectually inclined and was very well read. She believed in teaching, working hard, she believed in equality and education.” She said her father was an excellent role model as well however as a daughter, she and her sister tended to be closer to their mother. Harper said that her mother was very traditional in her concerns that she and her sister grow up, get married and have children.
Harper said her father was always very supportive in their educational pursuits. “He believed in the both of us having the education to support ourselves along with having the ability to speak our minds.” She said, consequently the family did a lot with school and that education was very important to the family.
Harper was an excellent student. She said she was drawn to math and engineering. She earned a degree in chemical engineering and a Master’s degree in polymers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. While at MIT, her mother developed breast cancer and passed before she graduated.
Harper said, the experience of coming home to be with her mother during the last six months of her life is when she decided to pursue medicine as a career.
She said her mother had excellent surgeons and oncologists however, there was no one that really put the whole picture together for her. It was then she felt that there was a need to have a holistic approach for patience when they entered into the medical system. “Patience need an overall understanding of what happens when they enter into the medical system, and how to get through that same said system.”
Harper earned her medical degree and master of public health degree from the University of Kansas Medical School. She did her residency training in obstetrics and gynecology there as well.

Harper has received significant awards regarding her research. In 2002 and 2000, she was awarded Best Research of the Year from the American Society of Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology.
She said her take home message regarding the much talked about HPV vaccinations is that women have a choice and should be as informed as much as possible. She, said that women should not get consumed in the hype that the vaccinations are barriers and the ultimate in preventing cervical cancer.
“The vaccines are a choice but not to be thought of as eradicating the virus. Even when women have been vaccinated, regular pap-smears should be part of the health care regimen.”
She said that there are two vaccines that are on the market, Gardisil and Cervarix. “Currently Gardisil is FDA approved in the United States and Cervarix is approved in Europe and not the US.” She said that Cervarix is a two dose regimen and Gardisil is a three dose regimen.
Harper said, “At this time in the United States…nothing yet, is going to take the place of pap- smear screening in the prevention of cervical cancer!”
Harper worked extensively with both companies in the clinical trials of both vaccines.

Photo by Howard Stikes/Louisville Cardinal.

Students continue to smoke in multiple locations around campus, despite the ban.

Q&A: U of L researchers aid in smoking report

By Tian Chan–

Some of U of L’s own public health experts helped contribute to the Surgeon General’s 50th Anniversary Report on smoking, which was released Jan. 17.
The Cardinal spoke with four of the contributors, Kathy Baumgartner, Richard Baumgartner, Dongyan Yang, and Dr. Stephanie Boone, to discover more information about the report and the increased knowledge researchers have gained about smoking cigarettes. All contributors are affiliated with the James Graham Brown Cancer Center at U of L.
This interview represents the responses of all four contributors, but their names have been redacted for clarity of response.

Q: How many Americans currently smoke cigarettes?
A: About 18 percent of the population was the figure reported in 2012. As a comparison, in 1964 when the first report was released it was actually 43 percent, so the number of cigarette smokers has reduced. In terms of Kentucky, we have the highest rate of smoking in our nation, which is 29 percent, 27 percent being women and 32 percent being men. About 59 percent of teenagers admit to having tried a cigarette, and about 19 percent of teenagers smoke on a regular basis, which is relatively the same statistic regardless of gender. We need to put a lot of our emphasis in preventing the initiation of smoking by teens, particularly in the state of Kentucky

Q: How many Americans die each year due to smoking?
A: Nearly half a million. The Surgeon General’s report gives a figure of around 450,000 deaths per year. An important corollary of that is that more than 16 million of Americans suffer from some type of smoking related chronic disease. Not all of the individuals die, but they are suffering from disease or disability.

Q: What dangers come with cigarette smoking, particularly in young women?
A: Smoking affects almost every organ in the human body, particularly for young women. There are a number of cancers: lung cancer, and chronic lung disease that have steadily increased for women. A particular kind of lung cancer called Adenocarcinoma has shown to be steadily increasing in women, regardless of the decline in the prevalence of smoking over time. The surgeon general noted that this has something to do with the way smoking companies have re-engineered their cigarettes. They are actually potentially more toxic than they used to be. Lung cancer is the primary cause of cancer related death in women, with breast cancer being the second leading cause of cancer related death in women. Our section showed that there is a potential relationship with breast cancer also. Maybe one out of every nine women are likely to develop breast cancer in their lifetime, and deciding to not smoke is one way to decrease that risk for breast cancer.
The surgeon general also made note this morning the fact that smoking affects fertility and certainly impacts the fetus of young women, and is also associated with pregnancy complications and birth defects. It is definitely something young women would want to think very seriously about.

Q: What type of threats does second-hand smoke pose on individuals?
Researchers: At least with regard to what we wrote on breast cancer, the harm from second hand smoke did not seem to be substantially different from the harm of actually actively smoking. It is a little bit lower, but both were found to be harmful, and this is true for all other diseases that have much stronger effects such as lung cancer.

A: What efforts have been taken or are being taken to reduce the number of cigarette smokers?
Researchers: Over the past 30 years, there have been a number of campaigns set-fourth that have been implemented to try to help individuals stop smoking. We know that these programs do work, but we really don’t have sufficient funding behind these programs to help implement them. Increasing the cigarette tax is one of the things the surgeon general has mentioned. There is a direct association between how high the cigarette tax is for the particular state and the prevalence of smoking within that state. Kentucky is ranked 40th in the cigarette tax that is imposed on a pack of cigarettes, so we are not the lowest but we are definitely very low. Tobacco companies spend far more money marketing their product to potential smokers, than public health agencies, government agencies – especially state governments spend on trying to prevent smoking.

Q: Can you see Kentucky becoming smoke-free in the near future?
A: Well, I believe the Surgeon Generals’ office as well as the White House would like to be able to say that they see the entire country being smoke-free within the next decade. I believe Kentucky could certainly be smoke-free but I do not think that could happen within a couple of years. We need policy change and more funding to provide the types of programs needed to help others stop smoking. It would help in Kentucky if our state legislature could finally pass a law against smoking in public places state-wide, which has really been an uphill battle in Lexington for quite a few years and still hasn’t succeeded. The change in my opinion will come with young people understanding the hazards, the risks and the real dangers smoking tobacco has on their bodies.

Real Food Challenge-2

U of L may be the first Ky. college committed to the RFC

By Eiman Zuberi–

The University of Louisville may be the first Kentucky college to commit to the Real Food Challenge, and the RFC team is looking for U of L students to make it happen.
The Real Food Challenge is a national student organization that strives to shift dining purchases to more sustainable choices.
U of L’s dining services are currently provided by Sodexo. The program is working  to help get better food to campus as a competitive partnership. Sodexo has agreed to be a part of the movement, but there’s still a lot of work to do. U of L has to sign off on the campus commitment, so for the time being, that is the goal of the RFC. RFC officials hope to have the University’s signature by Oct. 24, which happens to also be National Food Day.
So far, 19 schools have agreed to commit to the challenge. None of those schools are in Kentucky.
The RFC is not just about healthy eating on campus. According to Jeneen Wiche, part-time lecturer who oversees independent studies of the RFC it’s also a consciousness. She wants you to question where your food came from.
“It could be an organic apple, but picked by slave labor,” said Wiche.
Part of the challenge is only getting nutritious food from local farms that you know treat their workers right. The RFC believes in human rights. “Food can make or break a community; it all has a backstory,” stated Wiche. One goal of the RFC is to find out where that food came from.
If U of L gets involved in this campaign, they will be committed to the Real Food Challenge. That’s where students like Laura Buckingham come in. As a student doing her own independent studies of the RFC, she works with the RFC Calculator, which tracks progress of the RFC.
Buckingham mentioned how important it is for other students to get involved because so their voices are heard. Black explained that now was the best time to get involved. “As students, you’re not committed to a full-time job. You can fully participate in change and growth,” explained Buckingham.
According to Buckingham, it affects the culture; once it’s a part of you, it will stay on your mind. It has even been applied to her business, a bakery in downtown New Albany. Anyone who learns about RFC becomes passionate about it. “We’re people in Kentucky, helping those in other parts of Kentucky,” Black concluded.
There is still a lot of work to do before real food can be brought on campus. Aside from getting that final signature, RFC also needs students to get involved. The committee wants the students of U of L to be aware of what kinds of food they are eating and where it came from. After all, “food is not an inconvenient thing,” says Wiche. “It keeps us alive and well. RFC highlights food in a different sort of way.” The goal is to have the RFC purchase 20 percent of campus food mostly local by 2020.
Wiche is trying to encourage sudents to work together to make an impact on their health, the environment and the economy.
“Once you learn about these things, you can’t forget about them,” said Wiche.
If you’re interested, please email Carmen Black, regional coordinator for the RFC at Keep an eye out for a RFC event taking place this semester, and another later during the year.

Image courtesy

Official Portrait

Kentucky senator Rand Paul visits U of L, talks ophthalmology and healthcare to med students

By Kelcie Slone–

Senator Rand Paul spoke to medical students, health care professionals, and concerned citizens alike about his field prior to politics, eyes.

Before his election to the Kentucky Senate in 2010, Paul worked as an ophthalmologist for 17 years in Bowling Green, Kentucky. As a member of the medical community, his legislation and platform has a heavy emphasis on that area of medicine.

The discussion took place at the U of L medical school’s Kornhauser Library on Aug. 22. Paul’s speech had a major focus on the recently approved Obamacare and what it will mean to both the medical community and its consumers.

He is a strong opponent of the legislation and vowed to do his best to end it or at least “lessen its impact.”

He said that he believes that the Obamacare legislation will have severe repercussions, including an expense on the poor who will not be able to afford higher insurance bills, which will have risen due to the requirement that health insurance be all-encompassing.

Paul’s politics on health insurance involve driving the prices of health care down. “The prices are high because there is almost no competition,” he said.

“Hospitals charge more because they don’t want to miss out on insurance companies and Medicaid that pays up to a certain amount. However, they don’t actually know what that amount is, because it is illegal to ask insurance companies how much they are willing to pay and those companies do not volunteer that information so they end up charging a higher amount than really necessary. It’s kind of a backwards situation really.”

The Kentucky senator said he hopes to move the medical industry towards a more free-market economy with less government intervention.

He also favors a tax-free system of unlimited Health Savings Accounts. Currently, the limit on these accounts is $5,000, but under Obamacare the limit will be lowered to $3,000.

Another issue Paul had with the current medical situation is the SGR policy. This is a policy put in place to safeguard against inflation.

“Say that prices inflated by nine percent, the government would cut the medical community’s pay by nine percent also.” However, this policy has been repealed nearly every year since it was approved, leaving it, in Paul’s view, basically ineffectual.

Medicaid is another issue Paul disapproves of. “There’s no disincentive to use Medicaid to pay for health care services so it’s over-utilized. Hospitals simply cannot survive solely on Medicaid paid.”

For example, Medicaid pays for the majority of the residents’ salaries. But there is a cap on how many residents Medicaid will pay for per hospital.

Paul is pushing for a permanent repeal of the bill. “It only serves to hang as a threat and uncertainty over doctors the entire the year until they finally find out that it’s been repealed yet again. It’s bad policy.”

The Senator left the speaking engagement on a light-hearted note by giving the attending medical students a bit of joking advice. “The best tactic for doing well on comprehensive tests is by spreading misinformation,” he said. “You tell everyone that you know what exactly is on the test. Then everyone is studying that information while you study everything, leaving you with a better grade. That’s how you get your competition.”

Medical student Matthew Zeiderman, one of the event’s organizers, said in an email to the Cardinal, “We feel that Thursday was a positive, educational event for our school,” but declined to comment further on what the event might mean for the school, or for Kentucky’s future doctors.

Photo courtesy of


Unbreakable: Louisville’s Inspired 2013 Championship Run

In celebration of the University of Louisville’s NCAA Championship victory over the University of Michigan, The Louisville Cardinal, the independent student newspaper, is proud to announce the publication of “Unbreakable: Louisville’s Inspired 2013 Championship Run,” an instant book released by Triumph Books.

The 128-page full-color book, available on April 15, is packed with Louisville Cardinal stories and dramatic photos from throughout Louisville’s historic season, including the Cardinals’ inspiring NCAA tournament run!

The softcover book includes profiles of head coach Rick Pitino, Russ Smith, Peyton Siva, Gorgui Dieng, Luke Hancock and other Louisville stars. Plus, there is a bonus section on the Louisville women’s run to the Final Four.

“The staff of the Louisville Cardinal rose to the occasion to produce an instant championship book,” said Mickey Meece, the adviser. “The photography and features and profiles capture the spirit of the team and the jubilation of Card Nation.”

Relive the heart-stopping moments and unforgettable accomplishments of a team that won America’s heart. Enjoy the work of student journalists, with an introduction by Louisville’s renowned sports journalist Billy Reed.

About the book: Full-color glossy, softcover, 8.5 x 11 inches, and 128 full-color pages

Only $14.95, plus $6 shipping and handling
Add $1 S&H for each additional book.

How to Order
Contact The Louisville Cardinal;, Call Lisa Potter, business manager: 502.852.0701, Fax: 502.852.0700.

Order online at

Or call IPG at 1-800-888-4741, between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.


The Louisville Cardinal Inc. is a nonprofit organization. Proceeds from the book will go to buy equipment, train and support student journalists at the University of Louisville. To interview the student journalists, please contact Mickey Meece.