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Innovation Spotlight: Empowering Feinberg's Unsung Heroes

This story was published in the March 2022 issue of The Philanthropist, a newsletter for supporters and friends of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Read the whole issue here.

Each day, our faculty, students, and trainees at Feinberg dedicate time to innovate new ideas and programs that will move the needle in medicine and science. Here, we spotlight some of the exciting work that often happens behind the scenes and beyond daily clinical care.

Thank you to all of the donors who contribute to these efforts, now and in the future. Your philanthropy fuels these projects and programs—enabling their very existence and empowering them to grow for the benefit of patients today and tomorrow.


teplin-headshot.jpgAddressing Health Disparities Through Public Policy

Led by Linda A. Teplin, PhD, Feinberg’s Health Disparities & Public Policy Program studies the mental health needs of traditionally underserved populations such as racial and ethnic minority groups, and persons who are impoverished, homeless, and incarcerated. The program houses two groundbreaking studies, including the Northwestern Juvenile Project, which is the only large-scale, longitudinal study of the health needs and outcomes of youth in the juvenile justice system. The team has published their research findings in widely read journals that effect change in public health policy. Dr. Teplin is the Owen L. Coon Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and a professor of Infectious Diseases, in addition to serving as vice chair for Research in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.


walega-headshot.jpgExploring Promising Avenues for Pain Management

Pain is the most common reason that Americans visit a doctor. David Walega, MD, MSCI ’13, ’97 ’98 GME, is focused on making a positive impact on the quality of care for patients with chronic pain disorders. He has been studying the effects of nerve ablation procedures on knee pain from osteoarthritis, a leading cause of disability in the US, as well as the novel application of sympathetic nerve blocks for women with intractable hot flashes. Dr. Walega is vice chair for Research, chief of Pain Medicine, and a professor of Anesthesiology.

For more information about supporting the efforts above, contact Angela Mota at 312-503-0742 or


hou-lifang-headshotAdvancing Global Equity in Cervical Cencer Screening

Ninety percent of deaths caused by cervical cancer occur in low- and middle-income countries and are often due to limited access to screenings, vaccinations, and treatment. Lifang Hou, MD, PhD, director of the Center for Global Oncology, with Matthew Glucksberg, PhD, and Sally McFall, PhD, co-directors of the Center for Innovation in Global Health Technologies, all in the Robert J. Havey, MD Institute for Global Health, are leading efforts to increase global equity in cervical cancer screening. The team aims to develop a cost-effective self-sampling device and testing structure for widespread accurate HPV testing and cervical cancer screenings.

For more information about supporting the efforts above, contact Jenn Burke at 312-503-4635 or


smith-headshot.jpgStudying Viruses' Impact on the Nervous System

Viral infection can have a wide range of outcomes —and in the worst cases cause significant brain damage. Gregory Smith, PhD, professor of Microbiology and Immunology, aims to better understand herpesviruses and their neuroinvasive properties. His lab uses a combination of live-cell fluorescence microscopy, molecular genetics, and neuronal cell biology to study the route these viruses take to spread within the nervous system. By obtaining a working understanding of these viruses, the team can strive to translate knowledge into tools to develop vaccines and new therapies.

For more information about supporting the efforts above, contact MaryPat Mauro at 312-503-1090 or