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26 posts categorized "Healthcare"

21 December 2011

Finding the key to open the blood brain barrier (The Dana Foundation Website - 5 December 2011)

Dana_logoNeuroscientists are finding novel ways to open the blood brain barrier--to potentially deliver much-needed drugs to individuals with Alzheimer's or other neurodegenerative disorders.


Potential drugs for neurodegenerative disorders such as multiple sclerosis (MS) and Alzheimer’s disease have been stymied by their inability to cross the blood brain barrier (BBB), a system of unique blood vessels that acts as a natural barricade between the brain and the rest of the body. This barrier, designed to block potentially harmful substances from reaching neural tissue, also holds back the very agents designed to target disease. But two new techniques, one using endogenous adenosine receptors and another using ultrasound, may offer doctors the ability to not only open the BBB but also control the length of time it remains open...

(To read the rest of the article, click here).

For first time, researchers describe molecular mechanism for a 'gateway drug'—nicotine (The Dana Foundation Website - 22 November 2011)

Dana_logoNicotine has long been thought to be a "gateway drug."  For the first time, the biological underpinnings of that gateway mechanism have been explained.


A few years ago, I attended an open Alcoholics Anonymous meeting to support a friend in recovery. During a brief break, it was impossible not to notice how many attendees rushed outside for a cigarette. Epidemiological studies have long linked smoking to other forms of addiction—but, to date, they have been unable to establish any direct biological connections. A study published in the Nov. 2 issue of Science Translational Medicine, however, has now demonstrated how nicotine may accelerate both the cellular and epigenetic processes underlying addiction, providing the first biological explanation of a “gateway” drug...

(To read the rest of the article, click here).

Viral treatment may offer hope to brain tumor treatments (The Dana Foundation Website - 18 October 2011)


Scientists and clinicians at the Methodist Neurological Institute in Houston, Texas are re-engineering the herpes virus in order to treat a deadly form of brain tumor.


People diagnosed with a particularly insidious form of brain cancer, glioblastoma multiforme, typically undergo invasive surgery to remove the malignant tumor, followed by intense courses of radiation and chemotherapy. Some find the treatment regimen is as debilitating as the cancer itself. Today, however, researchers at the Methodist Neurological Institute in Houston, Texas, and Massachusetts General Hospital are testing alternative treatments involving the herpes virus, immunosuppression and nanotechnology in hopes of providing both better outcomes—and quality of life—for people with this deadly form of brain cancer...

(To read the rest of the article, click here).

Genes, patients and psychiatric disorders (The Dana Foundation Website - 29 September 2011)

Dana_logoA Q&A with Huda Y. Zoghbi, winner of the 2011 Gruber Prize for Neuroscience. 


Dr. Huda Y. Zoghbi, a professor in the departments of pediatrics, molecular and human genetics, and neurology at the Baylor College of Medicine, took home the 2011 Gruber Prize for Neuroscience for her pioneering work examining the genetic underpinnings of neuropsychiatric disorders. She speaks with the Dana Foundation about balancing clinical work with basic science, what we can learn from the study of rare disorders and her vision of the future study of genetics and neuropsychiatric disease...

(To read the rest of the article, click here).

New Army risk and resilience project searches for signs of potential suicide (The Dana Foundation Website - 8 September 2011)

Dana_logoAn ambitious new research project led by the U.S. Army and the National Institute of Mental Health hopes to find predictors of suicide for members of the military--and beyond.


In the late 1940s, the National Heart Institute (now called the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute) launched the Framingham Heart Study, a longitudinal research project to investigate the biological precursors of cardiovascular disease. This study, still going strong, has informed much of what we know about the underlying risks of heart disease and stroke, as well as what we can do to best prevent and treat it. Now the U.S. Army, partnered with the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), is embarking on the Army Study To Assess Risk and Resilience in Servicemembers (STARRS), an ambitious series of research studies they hope will one day be considered the Framingham Heart Study of suicide and mental health. Its goal: To find reliable biomarkers for compromised mental health...

(To read the rest of the article, click here).

Is the neuroscientific study of pain lagging? (The Dana Foundation Website - 30 August 2011)


A remark at the One Mind for Research summit inspires the question, "Is the neuroscientific study of pain lagging?"


Earlier this year, scientists, politicians and other healthcare advocates came together to share their hopes for the next decade of neuroscience research at the One Mind for Research (OMR) Summit in Boston. At a session highlighting the neurobiological consequences of war, Clifford J. Woolf, a pain researcher at Harvard Medical School and Children’s Hospital Boston, stated, “We have made enormous progress in promoting survival…but, in fact, an area that has really lagged behind relates to the pain associated with combat injury.”

(To read the rest of the article, click here).

21 August 2011

Using EHRs to improve patient outcomes (Healthcare Informatics - May 2011)

032007 How are electronic health records (EHRs) helping to improve patient outcomes?  I interviewed two physicians to get their take in a special section of the May 2011 issue of Healthcare Informatics.

Using EHRs to improve patient outcomes

Patients learn to see the value of EHRs


Cataloguing environmental toxins (Proto - Winter 2011)

Proto The CDC tracks hundreds of environmental toxins in a random sample of Americans.  But what can that data really tell us?


None of us can escape the myriad chemicals in the air, the water, our food and our homes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention periodically measures the so-called body burden of a sample of Americans; its most recent assessment occurred in December 2009. Though we still know little about whether the chemicals measured make us sick, the data are nonetheless vital so epidemiologists can spend years, even decades, studying the effects. The CDC tracks more than 200 substances. Here are some better-known ones...

(To read the rest of the article, click here).

Vitamin D found to influence more than 200 genes (The Dana Foundation Website - 1 December 2010)

Dana_logo A new study inks Vitamin D directly acts on over 200 genes and suggests the mechanism in which a lack of this hormone is linked to so many disease states.


In the past few years, a deficiency in Vitamin D levels has been linked to a host of diseases from cardiovascular disease to cancer, but some scientists wondered if these associations were simply epidemiological artifact—a result of the analysis, not the substance. But researchers at the University of Oxford and the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics have now demonstrated that Vitamin D has direct influence on over 200 genes, including many implicated in disease. They published their results in the Aug. 24 issue of Genome Research...

(To read the rest of the article, click here).

20 November 2010

Should genes be patented? (Proto Magazine - Fall 2010)

Proto Hundreds of genes have already been patented by various healthcare companies--but the question remains, should they be?


If women with a family history of breast or ovarian cancer want to check for mutations of their BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, which can help predict the likelihood of the diseases, they have exactly one option: undergo a blood test created by Myriad Genetics. That’s because Myriad holds a series of patents relating to both genes, protecting its intellectual property and restricting other laboratories from performing the test. But in March, a federal judge ruled in favor of plaintiffs who argued that genes shouldn’t be patented—a decision that could affect the holders of thousands of gene patents issued since 1982...

(To read the rest of the article, click here).

04 March 2010

Alzheimer's drug may also treat Huntington's (The Dana Foundation Website - 19 February 2010)

Dana_logoCan an FDA-approved Alzheimer's drug offer any relief for those who suffer Huntington's disease?  Some scientists believe so.


A drug used to treat Alzheimer’s disease may help harness the protective pathways of brain cells to stay the deadly symptoms of Huntington’s disease, according to new research...

(To read the rest of the article, click here).

Renowned journal retracts controversial autism/vaccine paper (The Dana Foundation Website - 10 February 2010)

Dana_logoWhat do scientists think about the Lancet's decision to pull Andrew Wakefield's controversial case study suggesting there might be a link between the measles/mumps/rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism?  Read about it here:


On Feb. 2, renowned medical journal The Lancet retracted a controversial 1998 paper that hypothesized a link between the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism. Citing ethics violations by the lead author, Andrew Wakefield, the journal’s decision set off a global media firestorm. Many scientists argue the paper’s retraction definitely debunks the premise that vaccines play any role in the development of autism. But advocacy groups, as well as many parents of children who have autism, argue that Wakefield’s work still has merit—and questions about why autism rates have risen so dramatically over the past few decades still need to be answered...

(To read the rest of the article, click here).

Parkinson's disease: A paradign shift (The 2010 Dana Foundation Annual Progress Report on Brain Research)

ProgReport2008CVR_thmbOnce again, I contributed a chapter to the Dana Foundation's Annual Progress Report on Brain Research.  This year, I summarized the up and coming research into Parkinson's disease - and what that may mean for treating it in the future.

(To read the rest of the chapter, click here).

Cocaine vaccine may offer alternative therapy to addicts (The Dana Foundation Website - 4 January 2010)

Dana_logo Researchers are working on a vaccine for cocaine - a vaccine that may help addicts stay clean.


Andrew Kent, 51, has been battling his addiction to cocaine for more than two decades. Though he has tried different recovery programs over the years, this Houston, Texas, native has relapsed time and time again...

(To read the rest of the article, click here).

Gene therapy offers hope for rare retinal condition (The Dana Foundation Website - 7 December 2009)

Dana_logo A one-shot gene therapy may offer sight to children with a rare retinal condition called Leber's congenital amaurosis.  A recent clinical trial of the therapy showed remarkable success.


Three years ago, when nine-year-old Corey Haas was first diagnosed with Leber’s congenital amaurosis (LCA), a rare form of retinal degenerative disease, his parents weren’t given a hopeful prognosis regarding his vision...

(To read the rest of the article, click here).

29 February 2008

Regs change roles (Healthcare Informatics/Healthcare Cost and Revenue Management - March 2008)

Hci_march2008_cover"Regs change roles," an article on how health savings accounts and other high-deductible insurance plans are changing the way that hospitals do business, appears in the Healthcare Cost and Revenue Management supplement to Healthcare Informatics magazine.


In April 2006, as a means of controlling rising healthcare costs, President George W. Bush announced his intention to expand health savings accounts (HSAs), the tax-free savings accounts established by the 2003 Medicare reform bill.

To further adoption, the president proposed tax breaks for HSA spending and premiums for HSA-compatible insurance plans, as well as the ability for consumers to take any HSA-qualified insurance plan with them if they change employment. He asserts that HSAs and the consumer-directed health plans that accompany them will reduce healthcare costs by making it easier for consumers to afford insurance and exercise control over their healthcare dollars...

(To read the rest of the article, click here).

10 November 2007

Through a glass, sharply (Government Health IT - November 2007)

Ghit2"Through a glass, sharply," an article about transparency policy and how it can be effectively used in the healthcare information technology realm, appears in the November issue of Government Health IT magazine.


Many lawmakers and academics believe that the more information people have about the creation and implementation of public policies, the more effective those policies will be. But such efforts at transparency require a thoughtful approach...

05 September 2007

Roads to Recovery (Government Health IT - 10 September 2007)

Ghit_magAn article on the DoD and VA's plans to share medical records appears in Government Health IT.


After a series of news reports in March about conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and other government health care facilities, President Bush convened a presidential commission to examine why injured service members and veterans are not receiving proper care...

02 July 2007

Getting What You Pay For (Healthcare Informatics - July 2007)

Hci_july2007_coverAn article about a recent PriceWaterhouseCoopers report on the economics of information technology in healthcare appears in the July issue of Healthcare Informatics.


For the past two years, New York City-based PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC), in partnership with the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, has examined key business data from nearly 2,000 hospitals. In doing so, the organization has created a rigorous macroeconomic model of how information technology (IT) investments affect hospital operating costs and performance...

(To read the rest of the article, click here).

18 June 2007

Lessons from battlefield EMR adoption can be applied elsewhere (Digital Healthcare and Productivity - 12 June 2007)

An article about how lessons learned from the Medical Communications for Combat Casualty Care (MC4) project can be applied to emergency departments is now up on the Digital Healthcare and Productivity website. 


The unpredictable environment of emergency departments makes them excellent candidates for use of electronic medical record (EMR) systems to reduce patient errors and to improve quality of care. But clinical personnel often resist the introduction of new and complicated IT solutions, at least in part, because the process disrupts traditional workflows and requires additional training for staffs that are already time-constrained...

(To read the rest of the article, click here).

28 March 2007

Infection Protection (Healthcare Informatics - March 2007)

032007An article on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's National Healthcare Safety Network system appears in the March 2007 issue of Healthcare Informatics.


Nosocomial infections, or infections acquired by patients during hospitalization, have long been of concern to healthcare providers. The rise of antibiotic-resistant infections in hospitals, however, has resulted in pushes for compulsory reporting and control measures.

As such, several states, including New York, Tennessee, and Vermont, among others, have passed legislation mandating the reporting of healthcare-associated infection rates. Other states are in the process of considering similar laws...

(To read the rest of the article, click here).

15 March 2007

Equity Research Firm's Report on Epic Causes Stir and Can DoD and VA Create a Shared EHR system? (Inside Healthcare Computing - 19 March 2007)

I have two articles in the March 19, 2007 issue of the Inside Healthcare Computing, a newsletter that focuses on trends and news in the healthcare information technology sector.  The articles are "Equity Research Firm’s Report on Epic Causes Stir", the lead story for the week, and "Can DoD and VA Create a Shared EHR System?"

Excerpt of "Equity Research Firm's Report on Epic Causes Stir":

Leerink, Swann and Company, in partnership with MEDACorp, published an equity research report for the IT investment sector last month entitled, “An EPIC Stumble? – Examining the Fallout from Epic’s Issues at Kaiser.” The report was based on the results of an online MEDACorp survey that was completed by 30 CIOs and other hospital decision-makers, all of whom were involved in an IT systems search at the time of the survey.

Excerpt of "Can DoD and VA Create a Shared EHR System?":

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Defense (DoD) announced a plan this past January to create a shared electronic health record system.  That news surprised many analysts.  After all, the VA's VistA system is often heralded as one of the best implementations of electronic medical records to date, not high on the list of systems anyone would replace.

RFID Solution Targets Patient Safety (Healthcare IT News Europe - 14 March 2007)

Hitn_eu_head2 An article on the recent AeroScout/University Hospital of Ghent, Belgium RFID project appears on the Healthcare IT News Europe website.


Although active radio frequency identification (RFID) has been successfully used in the healthcare industry for the tracking of high value assets and patient workflow, a vendor providing an RFID solution to Ghent, Belgium-based hospital Universitair Ziekenhuis Gent asserts that project is something altogether new...

26 February 2007

Looking Abroad (Healthcare Informatics - February 2007)

FebcoverhciAn article on what U.S. information technologists can learn from international Electronic Health Record efforts appears in the February 2007 issue of Healthcare Informatics.

To read the article, click here.

09 January 2007

Healthcare Industry Survey Reports

Thumb_clinical_workflows Thumb_needs

For a corporate project, I ghostwrote three survey reports for the Vendome Group, a leading publisher in the healthcare sector.  These reports included topics such as critical needs assessment, the optimization of clinical workflow and the use of mobile computing in healthcare delivery. 

07 November 2006

Microsoft Zeros in on Healthcare (Healthcare Informatics - November 2006)

Healthinformaticscover An article on Microsoft's growing footprint in the healthcare industry appears in the November 2006 issue of Healthcare Informatics magazine. 

To read the article, click here.