Saturday, November 2, 2013

Health news for the week of Halloween

As I've mentioned before the research universities on the campaign trail have proven to be rich sources of health news.  While I've already posted some Halloween-related health news, I have lots more from Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (NASA back from shutdown) to pass along.

Follow over the jump for health research and outreach from Boston University, Columbia University, Rutgers University, the University of Virginia, and Virginia Tech.

I begin with some leftovers from Food Day.

Boston University: Focusing on Weight May Be Hazardous to Your Health
SPH Bicknell lecturer: what’s wrong with approach to obesity epidemic
By Lisa Chedekel
This summer there was much rejoicing in the public health community over the recently announced falling obesity rate among preschoolers in many states, the first time in decades the rate has gone down.

“Although obesity remains epidemic, the tide has begun to turn for some kids in some states,” said Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which had released the data. “While the changes are small, for the first time in a generation, they are going in the right direction.”

But for Paul Campos, a University of Colorado at Boulder law professor, concerns about obesity have been headed in the wrong direction for generations.

Campos, the author of the controversial 2004 book The Obesity Myth: Why America’s Obsession with Weight Is Hazardous to Your Health, has been a vocal critic of what he considers a self-defeating war on fat that has no basis in science and can have devastating consequences for women.
Next, environmental health.

Boston University: Living Near an Airport Could be Bad for Your Heart
SPH study links aircraft noise, cardiovascular disease
Ask anyone who lives near an airport and they’ll tell you how disruptive and annoying the noise from low-flying planes can be. But who knew that living near an airport could be bad for your health?

A study coauthored by researchers from the School of Public Health, published online in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) earlier this month, found that older people exposed to aircraft noise, especially at high levels, may face an increased risk of being hospitalized for heart disease. For seniors living near airports, every 10-decibel increase in noise from planes was tied to a 3.5 percent higher hospital admission rate for cardiovascular problems, according to the study.

The study, by Jonathan Levy, an SPH professor of environmental health, Junenette Peters (GRS’94,’00) an SPH assistant professor of environmental health, and colleagues from the Harvard School of Public Health, is the first to estimate the association between residential exposure to aircraft noise and cardiovascular hospitalizations using national data on the US population age 65 and older and noise data from airports across the country.
Technology in medicine.

Boston University: ENG Counterfeit Drug Screener Promises to Save Lives
Device for use in developing countries wins national award
By Mark Dwortzan
Get ready for a surprising number: 50 percent of medicines distributed in developing countries are either counterfeit or significantly substandard. Those fake and tainted products are responsible for countless medical complications and deaths.

Muhammad Zaman, a College of Engineering associate professor of biomedical engineering, postdoc Darash Desai (ENG’12,’12), and graduate student and ENG research fellow Andrea Fernandes (SPH’10, GSM’16) are doing something about it. They have developed PharmaCheck, a fast, portable, user-friendly detector for screening counterfeit and substandard medicines. To test a medication, a user places a pill in a small testing box that instantly reports the amount of active ingredients found in the pill.

The device’s clear potential to dramatically improve health outcomes in resource-limited countries has attracted significant funding over the past year, and now its developers have received one of nine $18,500 Entrepreneurial Team (E-Team) Stage Two grants from the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA), which promotes technology innovation and entrepreneurship in higher education. The grant package includes an intensive workshop to help the team further develop its business strategy, followed by six monthly sessions of business coaching—and eligibility for up to $50,000 in additional funding.

Columbia University: Three Faculty Receive 2013 NIH High Risk-High Reward Research Awards
Oct. 23, 2013
Three Columbia professors were among the 78 recipients of awards in the National Institutes of Health High Risk-High Reward program. Recognized for proposing highly innovative approaches to major contemporary challenges in biomedical research, they are Rafael Yuste, Ozgur Sahin, and Christine Ann Denny.

“NIH is excited to continue support of visionary investigators, among all career stages, pursuing science with the potential to transform scientific fields and accelerate the translation of scientific research into improved health,’’ said Francis S. Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health.
The need to better understand diseases that affect the cerebral cortex, such as epilepsy and mental illness, is the basis of Yuste’s cited work. A professor of biological sciences and co-director of Columbia’s Kavli Institute for Brain Science, he received the NIH Pioneer Award to help further his group’s research on the structure and function of the neuronal circuits in the cortex.

“The credit should go to my group, who have worked tirelessly rowing against the current in pursuing high-risk research projects,” said Yuste. “This award will help us to continue our work.”
Rutgers University: Rutgers Professors Honored for Innovations in Medicine, Computer Technology, Agriculture
Monday, October 21, 2013
Four Rutgers professors have been honored by the New Jersey Inventors Hall of Fame for innovations as diverse as leukemia-fighting drugs, hardy and faster growing cranberry plants, computerized voice recognition and shellfish genetics.
Guo, Mammone and Vorsa received “Inventor of the Year” awards from the Hall of Fame, and Kachlany received the organization’s “Innovators Award.” Guo’s collaborator and business partner, Standish Allen, also received Inventor of the Year recognition.

Another former Rutgers professor, physicist Shirley Ann Jackson, received the organization’s “Trustees Award.” She is now president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Brain health.

University of Virginia: Could a ‘Trojan Horse’ Better Identify Traumatic Brain Injury?
October 25, 2013
Accurately diagnosing traumatic brain injuries and concussions is difficult, as standard CT or MRI scans can’t see most changes to the brain caused by these injuries.

Clinicians must rely on patients accurately and candidly describing their symptoms, which many patients – such as soldiers and athletes – are hesitant to do for fear of being removed from action with their unit or team.

Borrowing a tactic used to identify lung infections, University of Virginia School of Medicine researchers have discovered a potential method to identify traumatic brain injuries that uses positron emission tomography scans and the body’s immune response to a brain injury.
University of Virginia: ‘Tip-of-the-Tongue’ Moments May Not Signal Age-Related Memory Decline, U.Va. Study Shows
October 22, 2013
Despite the common fear that those annoying “tip-of-the-tongue” moments are signals of age-related memory decline, the two phenomena appear to be independent, according to findings by University of Virginia psychologists published in the journal Psychological Science.

Anecdotal evidence has suggested that tip-of-the-tongue experiences occur more frequently as people get older, but the relationship between these cognitive stumbles and actual memory problems remains unclear, according to U.Va. psychology professor Timothy Salthouse, the lead researcher.

“We wondered whether these self-reports are valid and, if they are, do they truly indicate age-related failures of the type of memory used in the diagnosis of dementia?,” he said.
Health in food animals.

Virginia Tech: Veterinary scientists track the origin of a deadly emerging pig virus in the United States
BLACKSBURG, Va., Oct. 22, 2013 – Veterinary researchers at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech have helped identify the origin and possible evolution of an emerging swine virus with high mortality rates that has already spread to at least 17 states.

A team of researchers led by Dr. X.J. Meng, University Distinguished Professor of Molecular Virology, has used virus strains isolated from the ongoing outbreaks in Minnesota and Iowa to trace the likely origin of the emergent porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) to a strain from the Anhui province in China. The virus, which causes a high mortality rate in piglets, was first recognized in the United States in May of this year.

“The virus typically only affects nursery pigs and has many similarities with transmissible gastroenteritis virus of swine,” said Meng, who is a faculty member in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology. “There is currently no vaccine against porcine epidemic diarrhea virus in the United States. Although some vaccines are in use in Asia, we do not know whether they would work against the U.S. strains of the virus.”
Finally, something about a topic that touches me personally as a cancer survivor.

Virginia Tech: Science and creativity collide in exhibit showcasing 'Hallmarks of Cancer' through student projects
BLACKSBURG, Va., Oct. 21, 2013 – A new exhibit featuring student work at Newman Library highlights the science of cancer with a creative twist.

"The lifetime incidence of cancer is one in two for men and one in three for women living in the United States. Everybody has a cancer story and thus a deep emotional connection to this particular subject,” said Jill Sible, assistant vice provost for undergraduate education and professor of biological sciences in the College of Science.

That can make teaching a course on cancer biology challenging – balancing the study of scientific causes of cancer while being mindful and reverent of those who have or are suffering from the disease.

Sible structured the spring course around the "Hallmarks of Cancer," six distinguishing features of the disease. Lectures on the topic, however, were few and far between.
That's it for this week.  Time to start collecting the next crop of stories.

No comments:

Post a Comment