CWRU Professor’s Work Explains Why Drugs May Increase Risk of Heart Attacks and Strokes

pillsNew research from a Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine professor shows that medications that have raised safety concerns over heart attack and stroke risks might not have gotten approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) if the cardiovascular effects of fluid retention had been better understood. Robert P. Blankfield, clinical professor of family medicine and a member of the Department of Family Medicine at University Hospitals Case Medical Center, said fluid retention may explain the increased risk of heart attacks and strokes of medications such as Vioxx, Bextra and Avandia.

His research, published in Clinical Hemorheology and Microcirculation (IOS Press, ISSN 1386-0291), calculates the effects of fluid retention upon the velocity of blood flow and the turbulence of flowing blood. These calculations demonstrate that fluid retention increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Since numerous medications cause fluid retention, the paper’s findings have implications to ensure drugs on the market are safe. The pain medications Vioxx and Bextra and the anti-diabetic medication Avandia cause fluid retention. Vioxx and Bextra, known as cyclo-oxygenase-2 (COX-2) inhibitors, were withdrawn from the market because of safety concerns over heart attacks and strokes, and Avandia has been suspected in some reports of increasing the risk of heart attacks. Read more.

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Wrestler Set to Defend National Championship in Wisconsin

Isaac Dukes
Isaac Dukes

Case Western Reserve University junior 149-pounder Isaac Dukes will defend his National Championship at the 2011 NCAA Division III Wrestling Championship March 11-12 at the La Crosse Center in Wisconsin.

Dukes enters the tournament as the top seed at 149 lbs. with a 33-2 overall record. He earned an automatic bid to nationals with his championship at the NCAA Midwest Regional in late February. His only two losses this season have come to opponents from Division I and Division II; he has not lost to a Division III foe since November 2009.

“I guess there is a different feeling heading in this year,” Dukes said when asked about having a target on his back as the top seed. “But I’m not really thinking about that. I’m going to use the same approach as last year and take it one match at a time.” Read more.

Campus News

The Common Reading Selection Committee is soliciting suggestions from the entire university community for the 2012 Common Reading. Since 2002, the Common Reading program has provided a free copy of the selected book to all new undergraduates as a summer reading that will be discussed during Welcome Days and throughout the fall semester. This 2010 selection of Elizabeth Royte’s Bottlemania led to the Year of Water theme and associated programs and speakers.  All previous selections can be seen on the Common Reading website. To make a recommendation for the 2012 Common Reading, complete the online recommendation form.

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Kelvin Smith Library has slightly adjusted hours for spring break, and 24x7 takes a break too. Read the details on the KSL NewsBlog.

For Faculty and Staff

The Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities and the Office of the Dean, College of Arts and Sciences present "A Workshop on National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowships." The event, which will be held March 23 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Clark Hall Room 206, will feature a panel of humanities faculty who have received NEH Fellowships. They will provide an overview of how NEH Fellowship grants work, what constitutes the NEH peer-review process and what characterizes successful applications. Lunch will be provided. Registration is recommended. For more information and to register, go online.

For Students

Nominations for the Carl F. Wittke Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching and the J. Bruce Jackson M.D. Award are now being accepted. The Wittke Award is presented each year to two faculty members who have demonstrated excellence in undergraduate teaching. All undergraduate students and recent alumni (within two years) may submit nominations online. Nominated faculty members must have been instructors of record during the 2010-2011 academic year. The Jackson Award recognizes outstanding advising and mentoring of undergraduate students at the university. Students and alumni may make nominations online, but only faculty and staff currently working at the university are eligible for the award. The deadline to nominate for both awards in March 11.

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Come cheer on the teams at the Saint-Gobain Design Competition Finals on Tuesday, March 15 at 6:30 p.m. in Nord 310. This year’s theme is “Innovative and Sustainable Solutions for Society,” and three teams are in the running for cash prizes totaling $15,000 as well as a trip to Saint-Gobain in Boston. Participants in the competition are from Case School of Engineering, College of Arts and Sciences, Weatherhead School of Management and Cleveland Institute of Art. Stop by for some free food and sign up to win gift certificates to the bookstore. Questions about the event? Contact Maria Campbell.


Individuals on campus involved with research are invited to attend Research Best Practices Day Friday, March 18 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Wolstein Research Building Auditorium (room 1413). During the day, attendees will learn tips, tools and practical advice for effectively working with research entities. For more information and to register, go online.

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Will Allen Growing Power
Will Allen. Photo
courtesy of Growing

Will Allen, CEO of Growing Power and 2008 MacArthur “Genius Grant” recipient, will give a keynote lecture March 18 at 7 p.m. in Ford Auditorium in the Allen Memorial Medical Library. Growing Power is a national not-for-profit organization supporting the development of community food systems. He has more than 50 years of experience in farming, marketing and distributing food, and is known as an innovator and creator of food systems. Admission is $35, but a limited number of complimentary tickets will be available to students, staff and faculty through the Case Western Reserve University Social Justice Institute.

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The Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities presents “Albert Ayler: Music, Spirituality and Freedom,” a panel of interdisciplinary scholars who will discuss the significance of Cleveland-born jazz musician Albert Ayler’s music on spirituality, politics and more. The panel features Dwight Andrews, associate professor of music from Emory University; Henry Grimes, master jazz musician; Charles Hersch, professor of political science at Cleveland State University; and Joy Bostic, assistant professor of religious studies at Case Western Reserve University. The event will take place in Thwing Ballroom on March 17 from 6 to 8 p.m., with a reception beginning at 5:30 p.m. For more information and to register, visit

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Science Cafe logoScience Café Cleveland presents “Modeling Memory: Understanding the Normal Brain,” a discussion on short- and long-term memories. Alan Lerner, professor of neurology at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, and Wojbor Woyczynski, professor of statistics at Case Western Reserve, will lead the discussion. The event, sponsored by the Case Western Reserve University chapter of Sigma Xi, WCPN ideastream and Great Lakes Brewing Co., will take place March 14 in the Tasting Room at Great Lakes Brewing Co. Drinks begin at 6:30 p.m.; discussion begins at 7 p.m.

The views and opinions of those invited to speak on campus do not necessarily reflect the views of the university administration or any other segment of the university community.

Et al.

Five members of the men’s and women’s basketball teams have been named to the 2011 All-University Athletic Association Team. For the women, junior Erin Hollinger earned a first-team nod, sophomore guard Evy Iacono was named to the second team and senior forward Caitlin Henry received honorable mention. For the men, sophomore forward Austin Fowler was named to the first team and senior center Eric Duerr earned honorable-mention status for the second straight year.

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Chad Mullins
Chad Mullins

On the baseball field, senior third baseman Chad Mullins was selected as the UAA’s Co-Player of the Week this week. He earned the honor for the second consecutive week, after breaking the school’s RBI record last weekend. He is also the all-time hits leader for Case Western Reserve University.

March 9, 2011

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In the News

Here's How Health Care Reform Will Affect Your Medical Costs

The Plain Dealer, March 8, 2011
Though health care costs seem to have skyrocketed in recent months, they’ve actually been on the increase for years. Prior to the recession, companies picked up many costs for employees, so employees didn’t know how quickly costs were escalating, said J.B. Silvers, John R. Mannix Medical Mutual of Ohio Professor of Health Care Finance. “But in a downturn, where everybody's hurting, more of that gets pushed back to the employee,” Silvers said.

Should the USDA Make Dietary Guidelines while it Promotes Meat and Dairy Industry?

The Plain Dealer, March 7, 2011
A nonprofit organization filed a complaint saying the USDA’s responsibility for promoting agriculture is at odds with doing its job to protect Americans’ health. Maxwell Mehlman, director of the Law-Medicine Center, said the issue has been a longtime concern. “The question is, can that same agency balance those two missions? Human nature suggests that this is very difficult,” he said.

At Home Off the Fields

Talking Stick, March/April 2011
Many Division III universities, including Case Western Reserve University, put athletics under the division of student affairs. This helps “maintain a student-centered approach outside academic responsibilities, which makes you cognizant of how it all links to student success,” said David Diles, director of athletics. The university’s program is highlighted for its successful joining of athletics with other departments, such as residence life, and for being accommodating to student-athletes’ needs.

Higher Ed News

Anti-Faculty-Union Proposal in Ohio Came From Public-University Association

The Chronicle of Higher Education, March 8, 2011
An association of Ohio’s public universities, the Inter-University Council of Ohio, was behind a controversial proposal to take away collective-bargaining rights of most public-college faculty members by reclassifying them as management-level employees. It was approved by the Senate last week as part of Senate Bill 5, and now is pending in the House of Representatives.