Category: Health & Medicine
Boston University Launches Physician Assistant Program: More than 1,000 applications already received
Contact: Gina DiGravio, 617-638-8480, firstname.lastname@example.org
(Boston) – As millions of Americans gain health insurance coverage over the next decade, the need for health care providers continues to grow. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges the U.S. will have 91,500 too few physicians to treat the country’s medical needs. In an effort to combat this ongoing problem, Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) has established a new Master of Science Physician Assistant (PA) degree program.
The program, administered by BUSM’s Division of Graduate Medical Sciences, will matriculate its first class of 28 students in April 2014. To date, more than 1,000 applications have been received for the inaugural class. The 28-month (seven semesters) program, housed in the School’s Division of Graduate Medical Sciences, includes 12 months of traditional lectures and seminar sessions in medical sciences and pathophysiology, while the second 16 months will provide clinical education in hospitals and clinics, and two months dedicated to their thesis proposal.
“We believe that the shortage of primary care providers and the growth prospects for this career path, combined with the excellent reputation of BU School of Medicine, has resulted in the exceptional response to our program,” said Mary Warner, MMSc, PA-C, founding director the program and assistant professor of medicine at BUSM. “Consistent with the mission of the BU School of Medicine, we seek to educate physician assistants who will produce exceptional outcomes while caring for a diverse population of patients, including those from vulnerable communities and to cultivate leaders who will advance the physician assistant profession.”
The Physician Assistant profession, which began in 1965 at Duke University, was developed to address the primary care shortage in rural and underserved areas. Physician assistants practice medicine with physician supervision. The profession now includes medical providers in a variety of health-care delivery settings and in virtually all medical and surgical specialties. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, it is among the fastest growing profession with an expected increase in PA positions of 30 percent during this decade. There are nearly 84,000 physician assistants practicing in the United States and the average salary is $92,460.
For more information, visit the PA program website at bu.edu/paprogram.
(Boston) – Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine promoted Dr. Jonathan Shenkin from clinical assistant professor to clinical associate professor in the Departments of Pediatric Dentistry and Health Policy & Health Services Research effective September 1, 2013. Dr. Shenkin has been a part-time faculty member at Boston University since 2003.
Dr. Shenkin maintains private practices in pediatric dentistry in Augusta, and Waterville, Maine, and is well-known as a spokesperson for the American Dental Association (ADA) for pediatric dentistry topics. He regularly comments on public policy issues related to tobacco, unhealthy beverages, and a broad range of dental topics.
Dr. Shenkin’s early policy efforts centered on reducing the availability of soda in public schools. He was appointed to the Maine Legislature’s Commission to Study Public Health, and served as the chair of the subcommittee on Children, Nutrition and Schools. This role led to an invitation by the Institute of Medicine to serve on an expert panel on school nutrition.
Later policy efforts focused on banning smoking in cars with children, leading to the successful effort to ban smoking in cars in Bangor, Maine, the first city in the nation to do so. He later led the successful effort on the state level in Maine.
His current interests are in clinical decision making by pediatric and general dentists. He continues his long term interest in reducing the dental disease risk among young children.
Dr. Shenkin currently serves as chair of the ADA’s Council on Communications for 2012-13. He is a past president of the Maine Dental Association, and a longtime consultant on nutrition and community issues to the ADA Council on Access, Prevention and Interprofessional Relations.
He earned a DDS from Columbia University in New York. He also received an MPH and Certificate in Health Care Finance and Management from Johns Hopkins University and a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study in Pediatric Dentistry at the University of Iowa. He completed a dental public health residency at the National Institutes of Health.
Founded in 1963, the Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine is the premier academic dental institution promoting excellence in dental education, research, oral health care, and community service to improve the overall health of the global population. With a faculty of more than 325 educators, clinicians, and researchers and more than 250 staff members, the School offers a full spectrum of pre-doctoral and post-doctoral specialty education programs and a complete range of graduate programs and degrees to more than 700 students.
Founded in 1839, Boston University is an internationally recognized institution of higher education and research. With more than 33,000 students, it is the fourth-largest independent university in the United States. BU consists of 16 schools and colleges, along with a number of multi-disciplinary centers and institutes integral to the University’s research and teaching mission. In 2012, BU joined the Association of American Universities (AAU), a consortium of 62 leading research universities in the United States and Canada.
Contact: Dr. Michael Siegel, 617-638-5167, email@example.com.
(Boston) — A new study from the American Journal of Public Health shows that U.S. states with higher estimated rates of gun ownership experience a higher number of firearms-related homicides.
The study, led by a Boston University School of Public Health researcher, examines the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) claim that increased gun ownership does not lead to increased gun violence. It is the largest study conducted to date into the correlation between gun ownership and firearms violence, and the first to comprehensively examine the issue since the tragic shooting last December of 20 children and 7 adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
The study, covering 30 years (1981-2010) in all 50 states, found a “robust correlation” between estimated levels of gun ownership and actual gun homicides at the state level, even when controlling for factors typically associated with homicides. For each 1 percentage point increase in the prevalence of gun ownership, the state firearm homicide rate increases by 0.9 percent, the authors found.
“Understanding the relationship between the prevalence of gun ownership and therefore the availability of guns, and firearm-related mortality is critical to guiding decisions regarding recently proposed measures to address firearm violence,” the authors said.
Researchers led by Dr. Michael Siegel, professor of community health sciences at the BU School of Public Health, examined data for the years 1981-2010 on state firearm homicide rates from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Web-Based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQUARS) database.
State levels of gun ownership were estimated using a well-established proxy variable: the percentage of a state’s suicides that are committed with a firearm (FS/S). Because there is no state-level survey that measures household gun ownership, researchers have widely relied upon the FS/S proxy in injury prevention research, and this proxy has been extensively validated in past studies. The proxy correlates highly with survey measures of household firearm ownership, the authors said.
Regression analysis was used to examine the relationship between state levels of gun ownership and firearm homicide rates, while controlling for a range of potential state-level confounding variables, including: age, gender, race/ethnicity, urbanization, poverty, unemployment, income, education, divorce rate, alcohol use, violent crime rate, nonviolent crime rate, number of hunting licenses, age-adjusted non-firearm homicide rate, incarceration rate, and suicide rate.
The regression model predicted that each 1 percentage point increase in gun ownership increases a state’s firearm homicide rate by 0.9 percent, translating into a 12.9 percent increase in the gun homicide rate for each one standard deviation increase in gun ownership. All other factors being equal, for example, the model predicts that if the gun ownership estimate for Mississippi were 58 percent (the average for all states), instead of 77 percent (the highest of all states), its firearm homicide rate would be 17 percent lower.
The results of the research are consistent with previous studies that have demonstrated a correlation between higher levels of gun ownership and higher levels of firearm homicide.
Siegel noted that the study did not determine causation, allowing that it is theoretically possible that people are more likely to purchase guns if they live in states with higher levels of firearm homicide. But he said the issue warrants further study.
“In the wake of the tragic shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, last year, many states are considering legislation to control firearm-related deaths. This research is the strongest to date to document that states with higher levels of gun ownership have disproportionately large numbers of deaths from firearm-related homicides. It suggests that measures which succeed in decreasing the overall prevalence of guns will lower firearm homicide rates,” he said.
The new study is the first cross-sectional analysis to examine data more recent than 1999 and is the most comprehensive to date, both in the number of years studied and the breadth of variables that were controlled for in the analysis.
The study found that over the three decades, the mean estimated percentage of gun ownership ranged from a low of 25.8 percent in Hawaii to a high of 76.8 percent in Mississippi, with an average over all states of 57.7 percent.
The mean age-adjusted firearm homicide rate ranged from a low of 0.9 per 100,000 population in New Hampshire to a high of 10.8 per 100,000 in Louisiana over the three decades, with an average for all states of 4 per 100,000. For all states, the average firearm homicide rate decreased from 5.2 per 100,000 in 1981 to 3.5 per 100,000 in 2010.
Co-authors on the study include Craig Ross of Virtual Media Resources and Charles King III of Pleiades Consulting Group.
The study, which includes state-level data, will be available after 4 p.m. Thursday online under ‘First Look’ at www.ajph.org
(Boston) – David McAneny, MD, associate professor of surgery at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and associate chair for clinical quality and safety at Boston Medical Center (BMC), has been named vice chair of the department of surgery at BUSM and BMC. In this role, he will serve as division chief of general surgery and section chief of surgical oncology.
McAneny has devoted his career to surgical oncology, endocrine and general surgery, specializing in gastrointestinal (GI) surgery. His surgical expertise is in tumors and other diseases of the endocrine organs, GI tract, pancreas, hepatobiliary system and spleen. He is experienced in laparoscopic surgery for gallbladder disease, splenectomy, adrenalectomy, bowel resection, gastroesophageal diseases and tumor staging.
“I’m honored to announce David McAneny as vice chair of surgery,” said Gerard Doherty, MD, chief and chair of surgery at BMC and BUSM. “David brings tremendous experience and broad leadership skills to this role.”
McAneny is the recipient of the 2005 Grant V. Rodkey Award from the Massachusetts Medical Society for outstanding contributions to medical education and medical students. He is the 2008 Boston University faculty selection for Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA), as well as the Councilor of the AOA chapter at BUSM. He received the 2008-2009 Erwin F. Hirsch, MD Teaching Award from the graduating surgery chief residents, the 2010 Stanley L. Robbins Award for Excellence in Teaching and the 2013 Educator of the Year Award in Clinical Sciences.
He is a member of the Board of Governors of the American College of Surgeons and an active member of the American Association of Endocrine Surgeons, the Society of Surgical Oncology, the New England Surgical Society and the Boston Surgical Society. McAneny served as past-president of the Medical-Dental Staff at BMC and the Massachusetts Chapter of the American College of Surgeons, as well as former Massachusetts state chairman of the Commission on Cancer.
A graduate of Georgetown University School of Medicine, McAneny completed his residency at Boston City Hospital, now BMC, and a fellowship in GI surgery at the Lahey Clinic Medical Center.
Researchers Find Insulin Status an Important Determinant of the Positive Effect of Weight Reduction on Vascular Function
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Sept. 3, 2013
Contact: Gina Orlando, 617-638-8490, firstname.lastname@example.org
(Boston) – Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and Boston Medical Center (BMC) have found that among obese people who had lost considerable weight, those with high insulin levels–a marker of insulin resistance in the body–were the most likely to experience better blood vessel function following the weight loss. These findings appear online in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
Obesity has emerged as one of the most critical health care problems in the U.S. and worldwide with nearly 70 percent of the U.S. population currently overweight or obese. Of major concern are the disproportionate cases of severe obesity (body mass index [BMI] ≥ 40 kg/m2), which tripled during the 1990s. Nearly a third of adults and 17 percent of children in the U.S. are now obese with 65 million additional cases estimated by 2030. While obesity confers serious health concerns and increased all-cause mortality, the vast majority of deaths are due to cardiovascular causes such as ischemic heart disease and stroke.
Researchers prospectively followed 208 overweight or obese patients (BMI ≥25 kg/m2) receiving medical/dietary (48 percent) or bariatric surgical (52 percent) weight loss treatment during a period of approximately one year. They measured plasma metabolic parameters and vascular endothelial function using ultrasound at baseline and following weight loss intervention, and stratified analyses by median plasma insulin levels.
They found that individuals with higher baseline plasma insulin levels (above median >12 uIU/ml), who had greater than 10 percent weight loss had significantly improved brachial artery macro-vascular flow-mediated vasodilation and micro-vascular reactive hyperemia. In contrast, vascular function did not change significantly in the lower insulin group (≤12 uIU/mL) despite similar degree of weight loss. In analyses using a five percent weight loss cut-point, only micro-vascular responses improved in the higher insulin group.
“Our study has shown that insulin status is an important determinant of the positive effect of weight reduction on vascular function with hyperinsulinemic patients deriving the greatest benefit,” explained corresponding author Noyan Gokce, MD, FACC, associate professor of medicine at BUSM and Director of Echocardiography at BMC. “Reversal of insulin resistance and endothelial dysfunction may represent key therapeutic targets for cardiovascular risk reduction in obesity,” he added. Their data also suggest that at least 10% weight loss is needed for comprehensive vascular benefit, which may in part explain the negative findings of the recently published Look Ahead study findings (NEJM 2013).
Funding for this study was provided by National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants HL081587,
HL1145675; HL084213; HL109790; HL102299; HL081587; HL083801; HL083269; HL75795; K12 HL083781; HL081587; HL1145675; HL081587; HL1145675; HL084213 and P30DK046200.and an American Heart Association Postdoctoral Fellowship grant 12POST11780028;
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Aug. 30, 2013
Contact: Gina Orlando, (617) 638-8490, email@example.com
(Boston) – With soaring obesity rates in the U.S., the American Medical Association has classified obesity as a disease. This major shift in healthcare policy brings much needed medical attention to obese patients. However, this definition of obesity focuses on a single criterion of Body Mass Index (BMI), which includes a large group of persons with high BMI who are metabolically healthy and not at high risk for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease or obesity-associated cancers.
In a review article published online in Endocrinology, Gerald V. Denis, PhD, professor of pharmacology and medicine and James A. Hamilton, PhD, professor of physiology and biophysics at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM), discusses the importance of eliminating healthy obese persons from unnecessary pharmaceutical treatments of the disease.
Previous studies have shown that the total volume of fat around the heart in obese persons is detrimental to some organ functions, but that total pericardial fat is not predicted by BMI. Thus, noninvasive imaging, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), of pericardial fat could help to identify cardiovascular risks that are not clearly coupled with BMI. In addition, this could provide an opportunity to find blood biomarkers, which are the best indicators of relative metabolic status.
“These insights strongly suggest that BMI alone is insufficient to classify patients as obese and unhealthy; metabolism, body composition, fat deposition and inflammatory status must be part of a comprehensive health evaluation,” said Denis.
Certain non-obese individuals may also benefit from a noninvasive imaging approach, as well. Although not apparent physically, many lean people experience significant risks for these same diseases because of chronic low-level inflammation and fat deposition in or around vital organs. Where BMI alone would exclude this group from screenings, weighing more factors that contribute to pericardial fat could save lives.
“By using a more individualized approach, some obese persons can be relieved of the additional stigma of classification in a major disease category. In addition, unnecessary medical interventions and costs can be reduced,” added Hamilton.
The work was supported in part by grants from the National Institutes of Health (NCI and NIDDK; R56 DK090455 –GVD) and a subcontract from the Boston Area Diabetes Endocrinology Research Center (BADERC; P30 DK057521). G.V.D. is Chair-Elect of the Obesity and Cancer Section of The Obesity Society.
BUSM Researchers Find MC1R is a Potent Regulator of PTEN: May lead to better understanding molecular mechanisms of melanoma development
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Aug. 22, 2013
Contact: Gina Orlando, 617-638-8490, firstname.lastname@example.org
(Boston) – Why are red-haired individuals so proneto developing melanoma? Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) have discovered that MC1R, one of the key genes that regulate a person’s hair and skin color, protects against ultraviolet (UV) damage by direct interaction with PTEN a well-known tumor suppressor protein. These findings appear in the Aug. 22 issue of Molecular Cell.
Clinically, there is a lower incidence of melanoma among individuals with high levels of brown/black pigment and/or acquired pigmentation (i.e. tanning). Conversely, individuals with red hair, blue eyes and an inability to tan are at higher risk for developing melanoma. Mutations of MC1R, such as R151C, R160W and D294H are frequently found to be associated with phenotypes of red hair, fair skin and poor tanning ability (normally called RHC associated phenotype), thus more sensitive to UV exposure.
The researchers found UV exposure triggers MC1R wild type protein but not the RHC associated mutants that interact and protect the tumor suppressor protein PTEN. Specially, MC1R protects UV induced PTEN inactivation by PTEN phosphorylation, PTEN oxidation and WWP2 medicated PTEN degradation.
“Our research establishes that the MC1R-PTEN axis is a central regulator for melanocytes in response to UV exposure and reveals the molecular basis underlying the association between MC1R variants and melanomagenesis,” explained corresponding author Rutao Cui, MD, PhD, associate professor of dermatology at BUSM as well as director of the Pigment Cell Biology Program.
Funding for this study was provided by the National Institutes of Health, the National Cancer Institute, the American Cancer Society and the Harry J. Lloyd Charitable Trust.
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MINNEAPOLIS – New research suggests that chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a brain disease associated with repeat brain trauma including concussions in athletes, may affect people in two major ways: initially affecting behavior or mood or initially affecting memory and thinking abilities. The study appears in the August 21, 2013, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. CTE has been found in amateur and professional athletes, members of the military and others who experienced repeated head injuries, including concussions and subconcussive trauma.
“This is the largest study to date of the clinical presentation and course of CTE in autopsy-confirmed cases of the disease,” said study author Robert A. Stern, PhD, a professor of neurology and neurosurgery at Boston University School of Medicine. “However, the overall number of cases in the study is still small and there may be more variations in CTE than described here.”
For the study, scientists examined the brains of 36 male athletes, ages 17 to 98, diagnosed with CTE after death, and who had no other brain disease, such as Alzheimer’s. The majority of the athletes had played amateur or professional football, with the rest participating in hockey, wrestling or boxing.
The participants’ family members were interviewed about the athletes’ life and medical history, specifically dementia, changes in thinking, memory, behavior, mood, motor skills or ability to carry out daily living tasks. Researchers also reviewed the athletes’ medical records.
A total of 22 of the athletes had behavior and mood problems as their first symptoms of CTE, while 11 had memory and thinking problems as their first symptoms. Three of the athletes did not show any symptoms of CTE at the time of death.
Those with behavior and mood problems experienced symptoms at a younger age, with the first symptom appearing at an average age of 35, compared to an average age of 59 for those with memory and thinking problems.
Almost all people in the mood/behavior group, or 91 percent, experienced symptoms of memory and thinking decline at some point, but fewer in the cognition group experienced mood and behavior symptoms throughout their disease, with 55 percent experiencing behavior symptoms and 64 percent experiencing mood symptoms at some point.
The group that experienced mood symptoms was more explosive, out of control, physically and verbally violent and depressed than the group that experienced memory and thinking deficits, with family members reporting that 73 percent of those in the first group were “explosive,” compared to 27 percent in the second group. A total of 64 percent of the first group were described as being “out of control,” compared to 27 percent of the second group, and 68 percent were physically violent, compared to 18 percent. A total of 74 percent were verbally violent, compared to 18 percent. And 86 percent had depression, compared to 18 percent of those with memory symptoms
Stern noted that the findings also should be viewed with caution, as there was no comparison group of former athletes without CTE in the study. In addition, families choosing to participate in the study may have been more likely to witness more severe symptoms than those not participating, which could have affected the results. Stern also added that these findings suggest that the diagnosis of dementia in older individuals with a history of repeat brain trauma may be difficult because many of the symptoms of CTE are similar to other diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment, the Sports Legacy Institute, the National Football League (NFL) and the Andlinger Foundation.
To learn more about concussion, please visit www.aan.com/concussion.
The American Academy of Neurology, an association of more than 26,000 neurologists and neuroscience professionals, is dedicated to promoting the highest quality patient-centered neurologic care. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, migraine, multiple sclerosis, brain injury, Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Aug. 21, 2013
Contact: Gina Orlando, 617-638-8490, email@example.com
(Boston) – The prevalence of obesity has increased markedly in the U.S. in recent years. According to a new study by researchers from Boston University Slone Epidemiology Center’s Black Women’s Health Study (BWHS), the risk of becoming obese among young African-American women decreased with increasing levels of vigorous activity. The investigators focused on younger women because most weight gain occurs before middle age.
The findings are online and will appear in the September 2013 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
The assessment of exercise in relation to obesity was based on data from the BWHS, an ongoing follow-up study of African-American women from across the U.S. The researchers followed 20,259 African-American women who were less than 40 years old and not obese at the start of the study for 14 years, from 1995-2009. Information on weight was updated every two years and information on exercise and walking was updated four times during follow-up. The investigators found that incidence of obesity decreased as the level of vigorous exercise increased. The risk of obesity was 23 percent lower among women who exercised seven or more hours per week relative to women who participated in little or no exercise. The reduction of obesity incidence among women who exercised was evident both among those with healthy weights at baseline and among those who were overweight at baseline. There were suggestive reductions in the incidence of obesity among women who walked briskly for exercise or transport but there were no clear trends.
According to Lynn Rosenberg, PhD, lead investigator of the study, effective approaches to reduce weight gain and obesity are very much needed in view of the increased incidence of type 2 diabetes and other serious illnesses associated with obesity. “Our study suggests that increased exercise would help in that effort,” she said.
Funding for this study was provided by the Aetna Foundation and the National Cancer Institute.
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The Boston Marathon bombing brought international attention back to the devastating effects of terrorism. There were numerous victims with severe injuries that needed immediate attention. A novel study in Arthritis Care & Research, a journal published by Wiley on behalf of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR), presents cases from Boston-area hospitals where victims were treated, examining the medical response and imagining technologies used to save lives and limbs.
On April 15, 2013, at approximately 2:49 p.m. two pressure-cooker bombs exploded one after the other at the Boston Marathon finish line. As a result of the bombings, there were three fatalities and 264 casualties, with the most severe injuries involving lower extremities of those located closest to the blasts. Shrapnel disbursed by the bombs included pieces of metal, nails and ball bearings. Injuries resulting from the Marathon bombing are relevant to the fields of rheumatology, rehabilitation, orthopedics and musculoskeletal imaging.
“In an era of terrorism, even clinicians serving non-military patients need to understand the spectrum of injuries caused by bomb explosions,” explains lead author Dr. Ali Guermazi, Professor of Radiology at Boston University School of Medicine and one of the many specialists treating bombing victims at Boston Medical Center. “Critically ill bomb-blast patients needed quick assessments of their injuries, which had the most devastating effects to the lower limbs.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), bombing survivors have the highest incidence of injury to soft tissue and musculoskeletal systems with the most extreme injury being traumatic amputation, which is reported in up to 3% of cases. The CDC defines primary blast injuries as those caused by the blast wave—extremely compressed air moving away from the explosion—that can damage the lungs, bowel and ears. As the wave moves from the site of the explosion it creates a vacuum, which pulls materials and debris back toward the source of the bomb blast—the refilling of this void is known as the blast wind.
Victims from the Boston Marathon bombing were subject to blast waves and blast wind resulting in soft tissue damage, limb fractures, and amputations. The study demonstrates the systematic need to exam each extremity for musculoskeletal, neurological and vascular damage. In accordance with previous evidence, radiography (X-ray) and computed tomography (CT-scan) should be used liberally to detect foreign objects, to define basic penetration patterns, and assess bony and soft tissue injuries.
Dr. Guermazi concludes, “While blast injuries within civilian populations are rare in the U.S., when they do occur it challenges the medical community to rapidly respond to concurrent evaluation and treatment of many victims. We suggest that in urgent situations, like the Boston Marathon bombing, radiology resources be used liberally to save the lives and limbs of patients.”