Fourth quarter MUSC innovator awards recognize employees

January 28, 2020
Fourth quarter MUSC innovators are Drs. Anita Ramsetty, Dorothea Jenkins, Bashar Badran, Mary Mauldin and Michelle Woodbury. Not pictured is Dr. Amy Williams. Photo by Anne Thompson

Sponsored by the Office of Innovation, the Office of Innovation, the “I am an MUSC Innovator” campaign is designed to raise awareness of the many forms that innovation can take to inspire others and publicly recognize individuals and teams that are making an impact. For additional information, contact Jesse Goodwin, chief innovation officer (

Anita Ramsetty, M.D., medical director and faculty advisor, MUSC CARES Clinic, director of student service learning for the College of Medicine, assistant professor, Department of Family Medicine.

Problem — Despite completion of medical education and fellowship training in endocrinology, I realized that my extensive education had not prepared me to truly address nutrition and the complexity of its interaction with social factors that impact patient health. I could discuss carbohydrates but not food as my patients understood it, and I was poorly prepared to discuss options outside an ideal situation where my patient had access to everything “nonmedical.”

Impact — My Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation grant was awarded this year toward my development of an integrated curriculum on underserved care with a focus on food insecurity. It is unique in its scope where the curriculum will extend through all years of medical school and in its focus on food insecurity, which affects more than 1 in 10 South Carolinians on average, but up to 3 in 10 in some counties and often higher in children. Curricular changes and developments have already begun with the assistance of preclinical and clinical course directors.

Recognition — Dana Mitchel at the Lowcountry Food Bank has been a strong advocate in developing this course, in providing resources and access for students who have taken a senior elective focused on underserved care.

Michelle L. Woodbury, Ph.D., associate professor, Department of Health Science and Research — Division of Occupational Therapy, College of Health Professions.

Problem — Stroke is the leading cause of long–term disability in the U.S. It is common for a stroke survivor to have partial paralysis of one arm/hand, which makes it extraordinarily difficult to accomplish important self–care, work and leisure activities. With rehabilitation, stroke survivors can recover arm/hand functional movement, but there is a critical need to provide more opportunities for patients to self–direct their own rehabilitation during therapy “off hours” and at home.

Impact — We invented, designed, pilot–tested, licensed, received FDA approval for and commercialized an interactive computer game for stroke rehabilitation called Duck Duck Punch (DDP). The game is played as the patient sits in front of a skeletal tracker and controls a virtual arm with his or her physical arms reaching forward to “punch” virtual ducks on the computer screen. Importantly, DDP was deliberately designed via a unique collaboration between experienced stroke rehabilitation therapists and software engineers so that all aspects of the game elicit beneficial therapist–approved arm and postural movements. With National Institutes of Health Small Business Innovation Research Phase 2 funding, we iteratively evolved DDP from a single game into a comprehensive software platform called the Recover Rehabilitation System that includes a collection of therapeutic games and a web–based portal from which a therapist can monitor game play and alter game settings to enhance its therapeutic benefits.  

Recognition — Austen Hayes, Larry Hodges, Ph.D., Kevin Jett — Recovr LLC; Scott Hutchison, MUSC COBRE in Stroke Recovery Research occupational therapist; and Christian Finetto, Ph.D., assistant professor, MUSC COBRE in Stroke Recovery biomechanical engineer.

Mary Mauldin, Ed.D., professor and executive director, Office of Instructional Technology and Faculty Resources, associate director of Education, Office of Interprofessional Education — Division of Education and Student Life

Problem — I wanted to give an interprofessional group of students an opportunity to work together on a project to learn “about, from and with” each other that went beyond the traditional classroom experience. A group of faculty also wanted to give educators across the state an opportunity to come together to share innovations in teaching and learning.

Impact —
Key projects include: An interprofessional group of students are currently completing an introductory course to 3D printing in which they have had the opportunity to learn from a variety of MUSC faculty members who are using 3D printing in their areas of specialty. Students from MUSC and the American College of the Building Arts worked together to build a cob oven that is available for use in the Urban Farm. MUSC founded the SC Conference on Innovations in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. The conference was hosted at MUSC for two years with over 250 faculty and staff in institutions of higher education attending each year.

Recognition — Jesse Goodwin, Ph.D., Mike Yost, Ph.D.,  Wally Renne, D.M.D., Ramin Eskandari, M.D., Ben Goldstein, Baber Khatib, M.D., D.DS., and Mark Semler for the 3D Printing Course; Dusti Anna–Coultas, Ed.D., Jeff Borckardt, Ph.D., and the staff of the Urban Farm for the cob oven, and Dusti Annan–Coultas and Melissa Hortman, Ed. D., for the SC Conference on Innovations in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education.

Amy Williams, DNP, assistant professor, College of Nursing

Problem — According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, Latino children are diagnosed later and less often with developmental delays. At MUSC Children’s Health, where we serve a majority first–generation Latino immigrant population, we often encounter unique social determinants of health including language, literacy, health care access and transportation barriers. This raises concerns that children in this clinic may have unidentified developmental delays or lack of capability to obtain necessary resources for early intervention if these diagnoses are made.

Impact — A program, sponsored by the Duke Foundation, arranged home visitation with culturally appropriate community health workers or “promatores” to work with at–risk children ages 0–5. Through this collaboration we have been able to complete real-time developmental assessments for children in this age group in their natural environment (the home) to better assess their strengths and needs while educating parents and caregivers about developmentally appropriate child–caregiver interactions. This program is currently funded in Berkeley and Charleston counties, and we have been able to leverage this work to receive additional funding from a national group to provide in–clinic services to further address these needs.

Recognition — the administrative team at the College of Nursing: Dean Linda Weglicki, Ph.D., R.N.; associate dean for practice Debbie Bryant, DNP, R.N.; Executive associate dean of academics, Gigi Smith, Ph.D., R.N., associate dean of faculty, Julie Barroso, Ph.D., R.N.; and associate dean of research, Teresa Kelechi, Ph.D., R.N. The true champions of this work are the community health workers: Lorena Cervantes, Cristina Holtz–Crosby, Abagail Santiago and Lixmar Herrera. Without their efforts and dedication this work would not be possible.

Bashar Badran, Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Dorothea Jenkins, M.D., professor of Pediatrics, Neonatology Division

Problem — Rehabilitation after neonatal brain injury takes time and often requires weeks of intensive occupational and physical therapy even for the most basic of skills, such as learning to feed. What if we could use the plasticity of the developing brain to accelerate the speed of rehabilitation by boosting the brain’s ability to learn movements critical to sucking and swallowing? Our solution is to pair noninvasive vagus nerve stimulation with oromotor rehabilitation to activate brain circuits involved in learning to feed, improve function after brain injury and avoid other solutions for infants, such as gastrostomy tube placement.

Impact — Over the past five years here at MUSC, we have developed transcutaneous auricular vagus nerve stimulation (taVNS) as an exciting noninvasive form of VNS that does not require surgical implantation. We are now successfully using taVNS to develop oromotor function in babies born premature or with brain injury so that they can go home on full oral feeds and avoid direct stomach feedings with a gastrostomy tube. We are in the process of developing a SmartStim baby bottle that pairs this stimulation with the motor activity of feeding as a new medical device for pediatric neurorehabilitation.

Recognition — Mark George, M.D., and Steve Kautz, Ph.D., for their support in the development of innovative neuromodulation tools for brain injury and allowing us to move these into the realm of pediatric brain injury. MUSC NM4R and MUSC COBRE provided the financial support that was critical to launching these studies. The multidisciplinary study team involved hard work from the technicians and study coordinators from the Brain Stimulation Laboratory; Hunter Moss and Jens Jensen from MUSC’s Center for Biomedical Imaging; and Patty Coker–Bolt, Ph.D., and her students in the College of Health Professionals, Division of Occupational Therapy.

About the Author

Cindy Abole

Keywords: Stroke Stories, Research