We are highlighting Emory BCDB graduate student Emma D’Agostino, who is a rare triple play in the realm of science communication.
Emma has her own blog, where she talks about what it’s like to have cystic fibrosis. Recent posts have discussed the science of the disease and how she makes complicated treatment decisions together with her doctors. She’s an advisor to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation on patient safety, communicating research and including the CF community Read more
Emory neurosurgeon Jon Willie and colleagues recently published a paper on deep brain stimulation in a mouse model of narcolepsy with cataplexy. Nobody has ever tried treating narcolepsy in humans with deep brain stimulation (DBS), and the approach is still at the “proof of concept” stage, Willie says.
People with the “classic” type 1 form of narcolepsy have persistent daytime sleepiness and disrupted nighttime sleep, along with cataplexy (a loss of muscle tone in response Read more
Visionary immunologist Charlie Janeway was known for calling adjuvants – vaccine additives that enhance the immune response – a “dirty little secret.”
Janeway’s point was that foreign antigens, by themselves, were unable to stimulate the components of the adaptive immune system (T and B cells) without signals from the innate immune system. Adjuvants facilitate that help.
By now, adjuvants are hardly a secret, looking at some of the research that has been coming out of Emory Read more
Javed Butler, MD, MPH, director of heart failure research at Emory Healthcare and associate professor of medicine at Emory University School of Medicine, says heart failure is any condition in which the heart is unable to pump enough blood for the metabolic needs of the body, but that does not mean that the heart is not pumping or the heart has stopped working.
Heart disease is not a disease but a syndrome, so a whole family of different diseases can precede this condition. Diabetes, obesity, heart valve problems, lung disease, heart attack and irregular heartbeats are only some factors that can cause heart failure. “Pinning down the roots of heart failure can be confusing,” says Butler, who serves as deputy chief science advisor for the American Heart Association. “Unlike some heart problems, heart failure is not one disease. It has a few common causes, and a few less common, even rare, causes.”
Finding new ways to identify people at risk for developing heart failureâ€”before damage is doneâ€”is his raison d’etre and primary research focus, according to Emory Medicine magazine.
Macular degeneration is the leading cause of sight impairment and blindness in older people. The macula, in the center of the retina, is the portion of the eye that allows for the perception of fine detail. AMD gradually destroys a personâ€™s central vision, ultimately preventing reading, driving, and seeing objects clearly
In a recent article of Emory Magazine, Ono, an ocular immunologist, says, â€œIf a person with AMD looks at graph paper, some of the lines will be wavy instead of straight. Certain parts of the image are no longer being transferred to the brain.â€
The palliative care program at Emory University is working to improve quality of life and wellness by addressing the physical, psychological, ethical, spiritual and social needs of patients with serious, life-threatening or progressive chronic illnesses, and provides support to their families and caregivers.
Tammie E. Quest, MD
Often mistakenly confused with hospice care, palliative care is appropriately provided to patients in any stage of serious illness – whereas hospice care is primarily used for those approaching the end stage of life, says Tammie Quest, MD, interim director of the Emory Center for Palliative Care.
A typical palliative care “team” consists of physicians, nurses, social workers, chaplains, mental health professionals, therapists and pharmacists, assisting patients through a wide array of illnesses, including stroke, heart and lung disease, cancer and HIV.
The palliative care teams work closely with primary physicians to control pain, relieve symptoms of illnesses – such as nausea, fatigue and depression. Teams help provide counseling in making difficult medical decisions and provide emotional and spiritual support, coordinate home care referrals and assist with identifying future care needs.
For adult organ transplant recipients, juggling a lifetime regimen of immunosuppressant drugs is difficult enough, but for children it presents an even greater challenge.Â These drugs, which also can have toxic side effects, must strike a delicate balance between preventing organ rejection and protecting from infections.
But childrenâ€™s immune systems are still â€œlearningâ€ what distinguishes them from the world around them, and children are constantly developing and changing, both physically and emotionally. This puts them at greater risk for complications either through inappropriate medication or failure to take these drugs properly.
The ARRA-funded project will not only help determine which medications children should take, but also will give them the support to care for their transplanted organs.Â The Emory scientists are studying new biological monitoring technologies that can identify unique ways to determine exactly how much medication a child really needs. These studies are being combined with a novel transition care clinic specializing in helping children cope with their illness and assuming responsibility for their care.
â€œThis award indicates exceptional insight by the NIAID into the critical link between a childâ€™s physical well-being and their emotional maturity,â€ says Kirk. â€œIt will accelerate progress in this vital area of research for a very deserving subset of chronically ill children.â€
Emory University Hospital is one of about 20 hospitals nationwide, and the only site in Georgia, to study this new technology – with 75 patients receiving new valves at Emory since the clinical trial started in October 2007. Researchers hope to receive U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval in late 2011.
The life threatening heart condition affects tens of thousands of Americans each year when the aortic valve tightens or narrows, preventing blood from flowing through normally.
Peter Block, MD
Peter Block, MD, professor of medicine, Emory School of Medicine, and colleagues are performing percutaneous aortic valve replacement as part of a Phase II clinical trial, comparing this procedure with traditional, open-heart surgery or medical therapy in high-risk patients with aortic stenosis.
The procedure provides a new way for doctors to treat patients who are too ill or frail to endure the traditional surgical approach.
During the procedure, doctors create a small incision in the groin or chest wall and then feed the new valve, mounted on a wire mesh on a catheter, and place it where the new valve is needed.
This conclusion comes from a 10-year history of coronary bypass patients at Emory recently published in the Annals of Thoracic Surgery.
Puskas also recently presented long-term follow-up data from the first randomized U.S. trial to compare off-pump with conventional on-pump surgery.
The results from the landmark SMART (Surgical Management of Arterial Revascularization) study, which started in 2000, show that participants who had the off-pump procedure lost less blood, had less damage to their hearts during surgery and recovered more quickly than those who underwent on-pump surgery.
Beating-heart patients in the study also were able to breathe on their own sooner after surgery, spent less time in intensive care and left the hospital one day sooner, on average, than conventional coronary bypass patients.
Over the past few weeks, more than 150 Emory University faculty, staff and students, as well as Emory Healthcare staff, have volunteered with Atlanta-based MedShare, sorting thousands of medical supplies that are being shipped to medical personnel on the ground in Haiti.
Volunteering for Haiti relief
Patricia Guasch, RN, director of Emory University Hospitalâ€™s rehabilitation nursing services, is one of the many Emory MedShare volunteers lending a hand in the relief effort. Guasch and several of her colleagues from the Emory Center for Rehabilitation Medicine, along with their children, spent the King Holiday weekend sorting supplies at MedShare.
Here, in his own words, Schulman discusses the topic of sleep:
There is growing evidence that sleeplessness can contribute to illness such as diabetes or heart disease, and many problems can arise when someone has not gotten a good nightâ€™s sleep â€“ such as falling asleep while driving or while on the job. We all want to be as healthy as we can â€“ eating right, exercising â€“ and I can tell you that getting a good nightâ€™s sleep is just as important to overall health. If you have regular sleep problems, discussing this problem with your doctor may be the first step to finding a solution.
A recent Knowledge@Emory article looks at a new book titled The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care, by author and journalist T.R. Reid. The book provides an in-depth look at the health care systems in a number of Western nations, including Germany, France, the U.K, Japan and Canada. The countries he profiles offer a mix of public and semi-public health care options.
In addition to interviewing Reid, experts from Emory Healthcare, Emoryâ€™s Woodruff Health Sciences Center and the Rollins School of Public Health Department of Health Policy and Management, weigh in on the problem of U.S. health care reform and what can be learned from the examples abroad.
Joseph Lipscomb, PhD
According to Joseph Lipscomb, PhD, a Georgia Cancer Coalition Distinguished Cancer Scholar and a professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management, quality of care, outcomes and cost analysis must be factored into the reform process. Looking abroad, Lipscomb gives generally high marks to the outcome and cost analysis done by the National Health Service and the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) in the U.K. He applauds NICEâ€™s ongoing efforts to estimate the cost-effectiveness of new, expensive technologies by using decision processes that are transparent and solicit input from private citizens, providers and industry.
Emory faculty, staff and students travel the globe, providing care and establishing partnerships within other countries to address intractable health challenges like tobacco use, diabetes and AIDS.
What they do there helps both individuals and populations, now and for generations to come. What they learn from these experiences has indelible effect on their own lives and on the collective life of Emory as a whole.
Emory Healthcare working with MedShare
For example, working to support global from home in Atlanta, Emory Healthcare has works hard to reduce, reuse and recycle, including working with MedShare International, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the environment and health care through redistribution of surplus medical supplies and equipment to underserved health care facilities in more than 75 developing countries.