Saturday, November 16, 2013

Hurricane Sandy and the Boston Marathon Bombings in this week's health news

At the end of Health news for the week of election day, I wrote "Look for one more installment next week."  I also wrote in Kepler findings and other space news "This one will be huge!"  I wasn't kidding.

Rutgers University has the honor of going first, with Rise in Falls and Fractures Among Elderly After Superstorm Sandy.
Rutgers researcher attributes increase in injuries in older New Jerseyans to power outages
By Lisa Intrabartola
Monday, November 11, 2013
Everyone knows Superstorm Sandy left many New Jersey homes and businesses battered and bruised.

But most are not aware of the considerable toll the storm and its aftermath took on our state’s residents.

“With disasters, there are things beyond the obvious,” said Rutgers’ Sue Shapses, a professor in the department of Nutrition and chair of the Interagency Council of Osteoporosis. “There are real health hazard risks, especially falling and fracturing.  And it’s especially a problem for our elderly population.”

Based on a report Shapses wrote using data from the New Jersey Hospital Association that showed state hospitals experienced an 18 percent increase in visits related to falls and a 13 percent increase in visits related to fractures, during the week following the storm in comparison to the week prior. Of those who sought medical attention for falls and fractures after the hurricane, there was a 40 percent rise in falls and fractures in those who were 65 or older.
I couldn't resist putting a health story about Hurricane Sandy first, especially after four retrospectives last week.

Speaking of stories I've covered before, and being the exception to the rule that "if it bleeds, it doesn't necessarily lead" here at Crazy Eddie's Motie News, Boston University has a four-part video series about the university hospital's response to the Boston Marathon Bombings accompanied by a feature story in its magazine Bostonia.  Videos first.

Trauma Part 1: The Trauma Algorithm

Trauma Part 2: The Clock is Ticking

Trauma Part 3: The Lethal Triad

Trauma Part 4: Why It's Called a "Trauma Team"

Peter Burke discusses the methods his team uses to shave seconds off response time.
Now, the excerpt from the feature article Trauma.
Peter Burke spent 14 years building a surgical team that could handle the worst kind of emergencies. On April 15, that emergency arrived.
By Susan Seligson
Peter Burke had just finished the morning session of a medical conference at the Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas when the news flashed on a lobby TV: two bombs had exploded near the Boston Marathon finish line, turning an annual celebration into a war zone.

Minutes later he received an emergency text message from Boston Medical Center (BMC), where he is chief trauma surgeon. The unit was inundated with the grievously injured from an attack that killed 3, among them BU graduate student Lu Lingzi (GRS’13), and wounded at least 260. Many of those rushed to BMC were battling for life, with mangled legs, collapsed lungs, and profound blood loss. Burke called his chief nurse to find out if there was any way he could help from a distance of nearly 3,000 miles. The answer was no.

When he arrived in Boston around midnight, Burke rushed from Logan Airport to BMC, one of the city’s five adult Level 1 trauma centers, all of which were scrambling to stabilize the injured. BMC received 28 bomb victims; 19 were admitted, 11 with critical injuries.

In his 14 years at BMC, Burke had dealt with hundreds of multiple admissions from car crashes or shootings. But Marathon day presented a scene more familiar to trauma program manager Joseph Blansfield, a nurse practitioner who has been at BMC since 1992. An active colonel in the US Army Reserve, Blansfield (SON’78) had run combat support hospitals in Mosul and Tikrit, Iraq. As BMC trauma surgeons, anesthesiologists, and nurses mobilized, Blansfield was doing what had become second nature in those war-torn places: identifying the most critically injured and getting them to the trauma bays.
Follow over the jump for the rest of this installment of health news from Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Super Typhoon Haiyan).

Universitas 21 on Vimeo University of Virginia: Voted The People's Choice winner in the 2013 U21 3MT Competition.

Lindsey Brinton: 'Catching Tumors by Their Webs' from Universitas 21 on Vimeo.

The University of Virginia trumpeted this good news in U.Va. Graduate Student Wins International ‘Three-Minute Thesis’ Competition.
November 5, 2013
Lindsey Brinton, a graduate biomedical engineering student at the University of Virginia, won the People’s Choice Award in Universitas 21’s international Three-Minute Thesis Competition.

The event challenges students to communicate the significance of their research projects to a nonspecialist audience in just three minutes. Brinton’s presentation, explaining her research into new methods to detect pancreatic cancer before it is too late to save the patient, won the popular vote in October’s online balloting. She earned a $300 prize.

“As I worked on my three-minute thesis, I was surprised just how dependent on science jargon I had become,” said Brinton, who researches in the lab of Kim Kelly, associate professor of biomedical engineering. “This competition enabled me to break free of that and share my research with a broader audience. To have it be so well-received was awesome.”
Rutgers University: From Death and Dying, to Caring for the Living
Rutgers addresses today's challenges of treating people living with HIV/AIDS
By Jeff Tolvin
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
Peter Oates vividly recalled counseling a 28-year-old Newark woman with AIDS who refused to take her life-saving regimen of drugs – or “cocktail” – regularly.

The result: Her T-cell count – a key indicator of the body’s immune status – fell to a dangerously low level of six. “Finally, the light bulb went off,” said Oates, and she began following orders.

Today, 14 years later, her T-cell count today is about 800 – a level associated with health – and her outlook is bright for a near-normal life, though she remains infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the virus that can lead to AIDS.

“Today, we have the medication to survive, to stop the destruction of the T-cells in the immune system,” said Oates, director of health care services at the François-Xavier Bagnoud Center within the Rutgers School of Nursing. “But people who are infected must change their behavior and mindset, because they can become resistant to their medications if they don’t stick to the prescribed treatment regimen.”
Boston University: BU Researchers Work against Deadly, Disfiguring Disease
Pharmaceutical giant GSK chooses team in its new competition
By Rich Barlow
If a picture is worth a thousand words, photos of leishmaniasis patients speak volumes of suffering: a disease that leaves disfiguring skin lesions that scar for life, requiring painful, burning injections or IV infusions to cure. “They’re almost a form of torture,” Scott Schaus says of the treatments.

A team including Schaus (CAS’95), a College of Arts & Sciences associate professor of chemistry and a School of Medicine associate professor of pharmacology, and Lauren Brown, a CAS research assistant professor of chemistry, has developed a process that a major pharmaceutical company says might yield better drugs against leishmaniasis, a sand fly–borne illness afflicting 12 million people worldwide, with 2 million new cases reported each year. Brown and Schaus are among eight winners of GlaxoSmithKline’s (GSK) first Discovery Fast Track Competition, which seeks promising ideas for future drugs.

The team identified compounds, developed at BU’s Center for Molecular Discovery, that are effective against 2 of the 15 species of the leishmania parasite.
Leishmaniasis is one of the diseases I mention when I lecture insect-borne infections.  Now I have photos to show my students.

Boston University: Lessons from a Hot Zone
Ugandan Ebola outbreak reveals the soul of an SPH alum
11.07.2013 By Nancy Brady (SPH’13)
“Nancy, we have a problem.”

I looked squarely into the eyes of Bruno, our data manager, trying to gauge his concern. It was a phrase I was accustomed to hearing.

I was spending the summer of 2012 working in public health centers in Kibaale, a rural district 136 miles west of the Ugandan capital of Kampala. The Ugandan health system was plagued by frequent shortages of workers and supplies, so “having a problem” was not particularly alarming. Bruno’s tone, however, was. He was noticeably shaken. “There is a mysterious disease that has killed 14 people, including Dr. Claire,” he said. “Now her sister is sick.”
University of Virginia: Study Aims to Better Understand Concussions in High School, College Athletes
Eric Swensen
November 7, 2013
To better measure the effects and causes of sports concussions, researchers from the University of Virginia’s School of Medicine and Curry School of Education plan to track 130 student-athletes in three sports over the next year.

Neuroradiologist Dr. Jason Druzgal is leading the study’s multidisciplinary research team, which includes neuropsychologist Donna Broshek, pediatric neurologist Dr. Howard Goodkin and kinesiologist Susan Saliba. They will follow football, men’s and women’s soccer and men’s and women’s lacrosse student-athletes from U.Va.; the study will also track student-athletes in the same sports from St. Anne’s-Belfield, a Charlottesville-area high school.

The goal, Broshek said: “Can we figure out some steps to keep the players safe without drastically modifying their sports?”
New York University: Movshon Winner of “Golden Brain” Award for Research on the Neuroscience of Vision
Nov 6, 2013
Neuroscientist J. Anthony Movshon has been named the recipient of Minerva Foundation’s 2013 Golden Brain Award “for his foundational contributions to the field of visual neuroscience,” the Berkeley, Calif.-based organization said in announcing the honor.

The award, now in its 29th year, recognizes outstanding contributions in vision and brain research.

Movshon, a faculty member in NYU’s Center for Neural Science and Department of Psychology, will receive the award on Nov. 9—during the Society for Neuroscience’s 43rd annual meeting in San Diego, California.

Director of NYU’s Center for Neural Science, Movshon predicted and discovered the existence of neurons in the brain that enable global motion perception, which is at work when we process the complex visual scenes that surround us.
New York University: NYU Steinhardt Researchers, Autistic Adults Aim to Bolster Self-Advocacy, Self-Esteem in Autistic Adolescents with New Web Site
Nov 5, 2013
Researchers at NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development have teamed up with three autistic adults to launch a web site that provides resources aimed at instilling self-advocacy and self-esteem skills among adolescents with autism spectrum disorders.

The site,, is part of the “Keeping It Real” project, a partnership between NYU Steinhardt’s ASD Nest Support Project and three autistic adults—Jesse Saperstein, Zosia Zaks, and Dr. Stephen Shore—working in the ASD community.

The site includes three modules, developed by Saperstein, Zaks, and Shore, that can be used in middle schools to nurture students’ self-esteem and foster critical self-advocacy skills. These modules are composed of videos, PowerPoint presentations, classroom lessons, and follow-up activities that highlight the presenters’ experiences and expertise with both students and their teachers.

The modules focus on three discrete areas: adopting measures to stand up to bullying; channeling interests into social and vocational opportunities; and articulating needs and problem-solving with members of their community.
Rutgers University: Violence in Jails and Prisons Can Inflict Lasting Trauma on Victims
A Rutgers researcher studies abused inmates’ psychological damage
By Carrie Stetler
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
Ashley Schappell remembers hearing about the prisoner who was beaten and stomped by a fellow inmate in the cafeteria before his attacker poured a scalding pot of coffee on his head. Other inmates described random fights that culminated in stabbings.

Schappell, a Rutgers-Newark graduate student in the Department of Psychology, recently received a $25,000 National Science Foundation grant to research how violence during incarceration affects inmates. One questions she seeks to answer is whether it makes their re-entry into society more difficult.

“We know that being exposed to violence and being victimized increases depression, anxiety and incidents of post-traumatic stress disorder,” said Schappell, who once taught a psychology course in San Quentin prison. “Prisoners who tend to be victimized are people that I see over and over again. They get released and they come back. Some have been there their whole lives. Even though it’s scary, it’s all they know and they feel more comfortable there.”
Virginia Tech: Chemist working to help healing process
BLACKSBURG, Va., Nov. 6, 2013 – The human body in all its complexity, sometimes is a little overzealous in making repairs. These repairs can, in some instances, lead to more problems.

For organic chemist Webster Santos, associate professor of chemistry, helping the body turn off its healing mechanisms in time to prevent fibrosis is a goal with an end in sight.

Building organic molecules in his lab, Santos, a native of Pampanga, Philippines, had been working on a compound he thought would be used to treat cancer.

“We’ve been working on this compound since around 2009,” he said, “and it basically boils down to the fact we found a structure that we modified for a target enzyme and we’re continuing to work on it with the eye toward it becoming a drug to fight fibrosis.”
University of Massachusetts: School of Public Health Wins National ‘Promising Practice’ Award for Public Health Worker Training Plans
November 4, 2013
AMHERST, Mass. ­– At the American Public Health Association’s (APHA) annual meeting in Boston this week, the federal Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) will formally recognize public health educators from the University of Massachusetts Amherst School of Public Health and Health Sciences (SPHHS) for their ground-breaking survey of public health needs in western Massachusetts and their creative plans to meet those needs.

Professors Stuart Chipkin and Dan Gerber, with Dawn Heffernan, director of the Western Massachusetts Public Health Training Center (WMPHTC), and several other UMass Amherst colleagues, recently received the national “Promising Practice” award from HRSA for their new 10-week, 60-hour pilot training plan and curriculum, expected to meet the requirements for the voluntary state certification program for community health workers in 2014.

Heffernan and others on the training center team will give a presentation at the APHA meeting, which attracts more than 13,000 physicians, nurses and other public health professionals. She says WMPHTC plans to become a recognized training center for community health workers and has developed workshops and trainers to meet this goal. SPHHS Dean Marjorie Aelion observes, “It’s very exciting for our school and the training center to be among the elite schools of public health in the country and to be acknowledged for excellence in teaching, research and community outreach.”
Rutgers University: Mason Gross Professor Fuses Science and Art to Produce Probing Photographs
Gary Schneider encourages experimentation whether he's behind the lens or in front of a class
By Risa Barisch
At the intersection of science and art stands photographer Gary Schneider.

Like a scientist testing a hypothesis, he describes his particular field of work as “an attempt to problem-solve.” And sometimes he’s his own lab experiment.

Schneider’s Genetic Self-Portrait series, which he began in the late 1990s as a response to the Human Genome Project – a 13-year endeavor to unlock the secrets of human DNA – includes images of his hair, retinas and even his chromosomes. Working with scientists and doctors, Schneider created a catalog of forensic images using all manner of microscope technology. The resulting photographs, deeply personal and yet universal, are an exploration of Schneider’s identity.

“A scientist must always solve the problem,” says Schneider, an assistant professor of photography in the Mason Gross School’s Visual Arts Department. “But an artist need never arrive at a solution.”
I have even more stories from the University of Cincinnati that didn't make it into last week's Overnight News Digest.  I'll post them later, I'm changing my focus from Boston, New Jersey, and Virginia to states and cities holding elections through the end of the year as listed in the 2013 Daily Kos Elections Calendar along with the cities listed in Nobody cares about mayoral races in the Washington Post that I haven't been covering so far.  They may be great sources for health stories or they may be weak.  In either event, those stories from the University of Cincinnati may come in handy.  Until then, farewell, Rutgers, BU, NYU, Columbia, UVA, and VT!  It's been fun covering your research and outreach!

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