2020 UArizona Arthritis Center ‘Bear Down for Health: Sport and Science in the Era of COVID-19’ Livestream, Sept. 16

Aug 27, 2020
UArizona Athletics Dave Heeke and Drs. Daniel Derksen and Dr. Janko Nikolich-Žugich will headline this unique livestream presentation of the Arthritis Center’s annual educational fundraiser.
  • NOTE TO WRITERS/EDITORS: Media are welcome to cover this event. Participants will be available for interviews in advance. To make arrangements, please contact Tracy Shake, UArizona Arthritis Center, shake@arthritis.arizona.edu.

TUCSON, Ariz. – Building upon a long tradition of mutual support, the University of Arizona Arthritis Center once again will team up with UArizona Department of Intercollegiate Athletics as it introduces the 2020 University of Arizona Arthritis Center “Bear Down for Health: Sport and Science in the Era of COVID-19” to benefit and highlight the center and its research efforts.

This year’s Bear Down for Health fundraiser for the UArizona Arthritis Center, held in partnership with UArizona Athletics, will be livestreamed on Sept. 16. Athletic Director Dave Heeke and Drs. Dan Derksen and Janko Nikolich-Žugich headline a panel discussion on “Sport and Science in the Era of COVID-19.” Click to register.This meaningful collaboration began in 1983 upon the arrival of Hall of Fame men’s basketball Coach Lute Olson at the UArizona and has helped raise nearly $2 million for arthritis research and education at UArizona Health Sciences.

This unique event is sponsored by Dr. and Mrs. Robert G. Volz, the UArizona Arthritis Center Friends and Finley Distributing. It is highlighted by a livestream panel discussion, Wednesday, Sept. 16, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., that features distinguished leaders from UArizona Athletics and UArizona Health Sciences.

Featured panelists are Vice President for Athletics Dave Heeke, Health Sciences Associate Vice President Daniel Derksen, MD, and Janko Nikolich-Žugich, MD, PhD, chair of the Department of Immunobiology at the College of Medicine – Tucson and co-director of the UArizona Center on Aging. In this timely presentation, these featured experts will discuss the future of college athletics at UArizona and on a national level, while highlighting the scientific and public health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and advances being made at UArizona to combat it. This one-of-a-kind panel discussion will be followed by a “virtual reception.” The reception is an exclusive opportunity to join the expert panelists and engage in an interactive limited-audience question-and-answer forum. This portion of the program is reserved for sponsors, and those who purchase tables or individual tickets. Admission to the general panel discussion is free.

About the Panelists

Dave Heeke was named vice president/director of athletics at the UArizona in February 2017, following 11 years as athletics director at Central Michigan University. Heeke’s vision for UArizona Athletics centers on a culture of excellence, a focus on a first-class student-athlete experience, championship-caliber competitive performances on the field, on the court and in the classroom, as well as an enhanced fan experience.

Dan Derksen, MD

Dr. Daniel Derksen serves as UArizona Health Sciences associate vice president for health equity, outreach and interprofessional activities. He also is the Walter H. Pearce Endowed Chair and professor of public health policy and management in the UArizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, with a joint appointment as professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the College of Medicine – Tucson. As director of the Arizona Center for Rural Health, Dr. Derksen’s current service, research and education activities include informing legislative, regulatory and program policy to improve health equity; increasing health insurance coverage; reducing the uninsured; narrowing health disparities; developing, implementing and evaluating interprofessional serving/learning sites; and working to assure a well-trained and distributed health workforce to meet the health needs of all Arizonans.

Janko Nikolich-Žugich, MD, PhDDr. Janko Nikolich-Žugich is internationally renowned as a leading immunologist and gerontologist. He is the principal investigator on development of the UArizona COVID-19 antibody test and has spearheaded efforts, with financial support from the State of Arizona, to offer antibody testing to more than 250,000 individuals across the state. Investigators hope to use data from this effort to study long-term and short-term immunity issues related to COVID-19 patients in a separate but related study. This testing effort also is central to university-wide campus re-entry plans this fall (see Test, Treat and Trace), both for the general student population, student athletes, faculty and staff. In addition to serving as department head and co-leading the Center on Aging, Dr. Nikolich-Žugich serves as associate director of the UArizona Biology of Aging Research Program. He received his master’s, medical and doctoral degrees in immunology from Belgrade University, before joining the UArizona faculty in 2008. His long-term interests include basic mechanisms of T-cell function, immunity to infection in older adults, vaccines and biomarkers of declining immunity in the elderly, immune rejuvenation, immune monitoring in chronic conditions of aging and the impact of inflammation and nutritional intervention in aging, immunity and metabolic disorders. He has published more than 130 peer-reviewed scientific papers and reviews.


Prior registration for this event is required. The panel portion of the livestream is free and open to the public. Tickets for the virtual reception (the Q&A portion) are $50 per person, or $250 for six admissions. These purchases are tax-deductible. To register: https://arthritis.arizona.edu/uaac-bear-down-health-sport-and-science-era-covid-19.

For questions or more information, please email livinghealthy@arthritis.arizona.edu or call 520-626-6046. The RSVP deadline for the virtual reception is Thursday, Sept. 10, The RSVP deadline for the panel discussion is Sunday, Sept. 13.

The UArizona Health Sciences COVID-19 Research webpage can be found here.

For the latest on the University of Arizona response to the novel coronavirus, visit the university's COVID-19 webpage.

For UANews coverage of COVID-19, visit https://news.arizona.edu/news/covid19.

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NOTE: Images available here – https://arizona.box.com/s/9gszysm9avj8h8zs1h6h3jjpts92xxzq.

About the University of Arizona Arthritis Center
The University of Arizona Arthritis Center, a Center of Excellence at the UArizona College of Medicine – Tucson, is a research leader focused on identifying the causes of arthritis and developing improved technologies for diagnosing, measuring and treating the disease. It is directly affiliated with the college’s Division of Rheumatology, one of 14 divisions in the Department of Medicine — one of six original departments and the largest at the college. For more information: arthritis.arizona.edu (Follow us: Facebook).

About the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson
The University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson is shaping the future of medicine through state-of-the-art medical education programs, groundbreaking research and advancements in patient care in Arizona and beyond. Founded in 1967, the college boasts more than 50 years of innovation, ranking among the top medical schools in the nation for research and primary care. Through the university's partnership with Banner Health, one of the largest nonprofit health care systems in the country, the college is leading the way in academic medicine. For more information, visit medicine.arizona.edu (Follow us: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | LinkedIn).

About the University of Arizona Health Sciences
The University of Arizona Health Sciences is the statewide leader in biomedical research and health professions training. UArizona Health Sciences includes the Colleges of Medicine (Tucson and Phoenix), Nursing, Pharmacy, and the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, with main campus locations in Tucson and the Phoenix Biomedical Campus in downtown Phoenix. From these vantage points, Health Sciences reaches across the state of Arizona, the greater Southwest and around the world to provide next-generation education, research and outreach. A major economic engine, Health Sciences employs nearly 5,000 people, has approximately 4,000 students and 900 faculty members, and garners $200 million in research grants and contracts annually. For more information: uahs.arizona.edu (Follow us: Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | LinkedIn | Instagram).

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