Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Health news from campuses on the campaign trail

I have been under the weather for the past week and went to see my primary care physician today (yesterday by the time this entry posts).  To reflect this, I'm posting health care and health research news from campuses on the campaign trail.  All stories were originally included in Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (LADEE launched) and Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (IgNobel Prizes).

I begin with Rutgers Today on YouTube: Revolutionizing Urban Healthcare

Cindy Sickora runs a mobile healthcare program in Newark. Suzanne Willard heads a wellness center. Together, two leaders of Rutgers nursing schools are striving to make healthcare accessible to city residents, who are among the most underserved in the nation.
Follow over the jump for more stories.

Virginia Commonwealth University: A matter of miles
VCU Center on Society and Health releases new maps to show differences in life expectancy within U.S. cities
By Frances Dumenci
Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013
Where you live can make a big difference in how long you live, even compared to your neighbors in an adjacent zip code. Maps released by the Virginia Commonwealth University Center on Society and Health at the request of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) show large differences in life expectancy in the United States across neighborhoods of cities and across rural areas. 

"A few miles can make a big difference in the lifespan of Americans," said Steven Woolf, M.D., director of the VCU Center on Society and Health. "Newborns in one zip code can expect to live a lot longer than newborns from a nearby neighborhood. The maps have captured the attention of the media and the public." 

To put the differences in life expectancy in geographic context, the maps display highway exit numbers, subway stops and zip codes as geographic landmarks to show how large differences in life expectancy can exist across small distances. For example, life expectancy in New Orleans varies by 25 years between two nearby zip codes.
University of Alabama, Birmingham: UAB study shows sleep-deprived teen pedestrians more likely to get hit
By Meghan Davis
Tuesday, September 03, 2013
University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) researchers have published a study showing that sleep-deprived adolescents are in greater danger crossing the street than their better-rested peers.

The study, published Sept. 3, 2013, in the Journal of Adolescent Health, revealed that when restricted to four hours of sleep the previous night — half the number of hours experts consider adequate for 14- and 15-year-olds — subjects in a virtual-pedestrian environment took more time to initiate crossings, crossed with less time before contact with vehicles and experienced more close calls than those who slept for 8.5 hours.

“This study suggests that adolescents’ ability to cross the street can be compromised after only one night of acute sleep restriction,” said study author Aaron Davis, Ph.D., psychology post-doctoral fellow in the Leadership Education in Adolescent Health (LEAH) program in the UAB Division of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.
Virginia Commonwealth University: Extra steps to influence worldwide research and care
By Eric Peters
Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013
Tod Brindle, a nurse clinician at Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center, doesn’t have a research job.

“Most of us operate within a framework of carrots and sticks - mentors, department chairs, benchmarks, protected time, yearly checkups, ‘K’ awards, mock study sections, promotion and advancement linked to publication, tenure shimmering in the distance - an entire mechanism to try to nurture our research careers,” said Jacob Wegelin, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Biostatistics, VCU School of Medicine. “Mr. Brindle, by contrast, enjoys none of these benefits.”

“And with all of his comparative research disadvantages, he has achieved what many of us can only dream of.”

Despite this apparent research disadvantage, Brindle and Wegelin published research in 2012 that is now being recognized as the foundation for subsequent worldwide literature and the basis for protecting patients from injury across the globe.
Columbia University: First Estimate of Total Viruses in Mammals
Identifying viruses could help mitigate disease outbreaks; total cost less than a single pandemic
September 3, 2013
Scientists estimate that there is a minimum of 320,000 viruses in mammals awaiting discovery. Collecting evidence of these viruses, or even a majority of them, they say, could provide information critical to early detection and mitigation of disease outbreaks in humans. This undertaking would cost approximately $6.3 billion, or $1.4 billion if limited to 85% of total viral diversity—a fraction of the economic impact of a major pandemic like SARS.

Close to 70% of emerging viral diseases such as HIV/AIDS, West Nile, Ebola, SARS, and influenza, are zoonoses—infections of animals that cross into humans. Yet until now, there has been no good estimate of the actual number of viruses that exist in any wildlife species.

“Historically, our whole approach to discovery has been altogether too random,” says lead author Simon Anthony, D.Phil, a scientist at the Center for Infection and Immunity (CII) at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. “What we currently know about viruses is very much biased towards those that have already spilled over into humans or animals and emerged as diseases. But the pool of all viruses in wildlife, including many potential threats to humans, is actually much deeper. A more systematic, multidisciplinary, and One Health framework is needed if we are to understand what drives and controls viral diversity and following that, what causes viruses to emerge as disease-causing pathogens.”
Cincinnati Children's Medical Center via Science Daily: Antioxidant Treatment May Help NF1-Linked Behavioral Issues
Sep. 12, 2013
New research in mouse models suggests that treatment with antioxidants may help reduce behavioral issues linked to the genetic nervous system disorder Neurofibromatosis 1 (NF1) and an associated condition called Costello syndrome.

Scientists from Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center report their findings Sept. 12 in Cell Reports. The authors show that defects in the NF1/Ras molecular pathway, which cause the disorders, trigger production of harmful oxidative nitric oxide molecules in the oligodendrocyte glial brain cells of mice.

Part of the central nervous system, glial cells produce a substance called myelin, which provides a sheath along nerves that acts as a form of electrical insulation. Increased production of nitric oxide in the tested mice disrupted the tight structure of proteins and related components that make up the myelin sheath. It also damaged vasculature surrounding astrocyte cells and endothelial tissue. Altogether, these changes altered the permeability of the blood brain barrier.
Columbia University: Test Could Identify Which Prostate Cancers Require Treatment
3-gene biomarker gauges tumor’s aggressiveness
September 11, 2013
NEW YORK—The level of expression of three genes associated with aging can be used to predict whether seemingly low-risk prostate cancer will remain slow-growing, according to researchers at the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center at Columbia University Medical Center. Use of this three-gene biomarker, in conjunction with existing cancer-staging tests, could help physicians better determine which men with early prostate cancer can be safely followed with “active surveillance” and spared the risks of prostate removal or other invasive treatment. The findings were published today in the online edition of Science Translational Medicine.

“Most of the 200,000 prostate cancers diagnosed each year in the U.S. are slow growing and will remain so, but the three-gene biomarker could take much of the guesswork out of the diagnostic process and ensure that patients are neither overtreated nor undertreated,” said study leader Cory Abate-Shen, PhD, Michael and Stella Chernow Professor of Urological Oncology at CUMC.

“The problem with existing tests is that we cannot identify the small percentage of slow-growing tumors that will eventually become aggressive and spread beyond the prostate,” said coauthor Mitchell C. Benson, MD, PhD, George F. Cahill Professor of Urology and chair of urology at CUMC.
New York University: Chemists Find New Way to Put the Brakes on Cancer
September 9, 2013
While great strides have been achieved in cancer treatment, scientists are looking for the new targets and next generation of therapeutics to stop this second leading cause of death nationwide. A new platform for drug discovery has been developed through a collaborative effort linking chemists at NYU and pharmacologists at USC.

In a study appearing in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the research groups of Paramjit Arora, a professor in NYU’s Department of Chemistry, and Bogdan Olenyuk from the USC School of Pharmacy have developed a synthetic molecule, “protein domain mimetic,” which targets the interaction between two proteins, called transcription factor-coactivator complex at the point where intracellular signaling cascade converges resulting in an up-regulation of genes that promote tumor progression.

This approach presents a new frontier in cancer research and is different from the typical search for small molecules that target cellular kinases.
American Chemical Society via Science Daily: Toward Understanding the Health Effects of Waterpipe or 'Hookah' Smoking
Sep. 9, 2013
With water pipes or hookahs gaining popularity in the United States and other countries, scientists today described a step toward establishing the health risks of what has been termed "the first new tobacco trend of the 21st century."

In a study that they said provides no support for the popular notion that hookahs are safer than cigarettes, they reported that hookah tobacco and smoke contain lower levels of four toxic metals than cigarette tobacco and smoke. It was part of the 246th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

"Any form of smoking is dangerous, and our studies on toxic metals in hookah smoke are taking the first steps toward the necessary animal and human studies that will establish a clearer picture of the relative dangers of hookah and cigarette smoking," said Joseph Caruso, Ph.D., who led the study. "It is very difficult to compare hookah smoking with cigarette smoking because they are done so differently."
University of Cincinnati: UC Discoveries Are Among Top Research and Future Technologies Presented at National Science Meeting
Finding future energy sources and tackling health threats to our water supply were among the themes of UC research presented at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society.
By: Dawn Fuller
Date: 9/12/2013 2:00:00 PM
University of Cincinnati research out of the College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS) will be among topics examining health, energy and the environment at the American Chemical Society’s (ACS) 246th National Meeting & Exposition, Sept. 8-12, in Indianapolis.

The annual meeting is themed “Chemistry in Motion.”

The UC research is among 7,200 presentations and discoveries reflecting fields where chemistry plays a central role.
I'll have more news from campuses on the campaign trail all the way until Election Day and possibly beyond if runoffs and special elections are required.

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