Research Is At The Forefront At Scholl College

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By Brian McCurdy, Associate Editor

Podiatrists like David G. Armstrong, DPM, know the value of research in podiatric medical schools. A Professor of Surgery, Assistant Dean and Chair for Research at Dr. William M. Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, Dr. Armstrong says research is part of a “triad of care” along with teaching and patient care.

To that end, the podiatric medical program of Scholl College is looking toward the future with its establishment of a new research focus. Dean Terence Albright, DPM, says the school’s merger with the Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science has “opened new avenues of research” and is building collaborative professional relationships with the larger university.
“The university’s strategic plan encourages collaborations and partnership within the university as well as the establishment of centers of excellence,” says Dr. Albright. “The ultimate goal is to emphasize biomedical and clinical research in selected disciplines that encourage the bridging of departments, engage students and build synergies.”
Dr. Albright says the podiatric medical college is focusing on establishing a research department that will be aligned with the Chicago Medical School’s basic science and school of graduate and postdoctoral studies. In cooperation with those programs, Scholl College is starting a DPM/PhD program for selected second-year students. The faculty of Scholl has received secondary academic appointments to promote research, according to Dr. Albright, who says the integration of curriculum and research over the next three years will correspond with hiring research faculty assigned to the Chicago Medical School’s departments of biochemistry, microbiology and pharmacology.

Emphasizing Diabetes
And Wound Healing Research
The Scholl College is also at the forefront of establishing the University Center of Excellence in Diabetes, which has been dubbed the Rosalind Franklin Diabetes Center. Dr. Armstrong, a member of the National Board of Directors of the American Diabetes Association, will represent the college at the diabetes center and will incorporate his clinical research programs. Dr. Albright notes the program’s goal is translating science to clinical trials.
Dr. Armstrong is continuing his work with the Center for Lower Extremity Ambulatory Research (CLEAR), which publishes on average about 20 peer-reviewed manuscripts a year and has received numerous federal and industry grants.
Collaborative wound healing projects are in the works at Scholl and the Southern Arizona Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Tucson, Ariz., where Dr. Armstrong was based until accepting the Scholl position a few months ago. He says the research continues to explore areas of the diabetic foot with an emphasis on healing and preventing ulcers and amputation.
Dr. Armstrong’s research team is also exploring the use of intelligent insoles, which can identify areas of high pressure and temperature, and notify both the patient and caregiver.

Another research group, the Diabetic Foot Resistant Organism Surveillance Team (D-FROST), is identifying resistant organisms in the diabetic foot in major metropolitan areas, according to Dr. Armstrong. He says this group is also trying to develop a sophisticated activity monitor that can dose activity like a drug.

Offering Research Opportunities For Students
The strategic plan of Scholl College includes disseminating its podiatric medical research to the community, the profession and prospective students. Dr. Albright says current students may participate in summer research opportunities in the Chicago area or serve as research assistants at the Chicago Medical School’s Science Department.
He adds that Scholl’s Swanson Independent Scholar Program permits selected students to participate in research activities while obtaining their DPM degree. Students mentored by faculty have participated in national scientific poster contests conducted by renowned medical and science organizations, according to Dr. Albright.
While every student and faculty member does not have to participate in research, Dr. Armstrong says having research at schools is important in increasing school pride, fostering what he calls “true advances” in care and continuing to bring podiatric medical programs into the collaborative medical mainstream.

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