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Meet the 34-year-old neuroscientist developing a drug to prevent depression and PTSD

Washington Post

That’s the scenario neuroscientist Rebecca Brachman described as she stood on the TED stage here Monday and told the audience she may have helped discover a drug that could make people more resilient under the most stressful circumstances. …The 34-year-old neuroscientist at Columbia University was among two dozen TED Fellows chosen to present at the annual conference this year. The Fellows program provides them a platform for their ideas and access to the larger TED network to grow them.

What Makes Ashkenazi Jews More Susceptible to Breast Cancer?

U.S. News

According to a 2014 study conducted at Columbia University and published in the journal Nature Communications, today’s worldwide population of roughly 10 million Ashkenazi Jews is descended from a core group of about 350 people 25 to 32 generations ago, or roughly 600 to 800 years back. This small original group is referred to as a population “bottleneck” and the subsequent generations passed on their same genes, putting them at higher risk for certain genetic disorders.

Scientists, Feeling Under Siege, March Against Trump Policies

New York Times

Although drizzle may have washed away the words on some signs, they aimed to deliver the message that science needs the public’s support. “Science is a very human thing,” said Ashlea Morgan, a doctoral student in neurobiology at Columbia University. “The march is allowing the public to know that this is what science is, and it’s letting our legislators know that science is vitally important.”

Climate: What’s At Stake For Your Health


“It’s no coincidence that during that stable period of climate that we’ve had the development of human civilization as we know it,” said Jeffrey Shaman, director of the climate and health program and an associate professor at Columbia University.

Could a Bone Protein Help Shed Pounds?

Scientific American

Stavroula Kousteni, a physiologist at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and her colleagues showed 90 percent of the hormone lipocalin 2 was produced by osteoblasts, bone cells that create the chemicals necessary to build new bone. Because of its chemical structure scientists previously thought fat cells made the hormone. Lipocalin 2 is released after eating and reaches peak levels about an hour after a meal.

Scientists say most marijuana strains act basically the same


“The lay public has really taken on the notion of the entourage effect, but there’s not a lot of data,” says Margaret Haney, a neurobiologist at Columbia University and cannabis researcher. “The cannabis field can say anything and it does. I’m not against marijuana. I want to study it carefully. We know it can affect pain and appetite but the large majority of what’s being said is driven by anecdotal marketing. These guys are really trying to make money.”

As AstraZeneca chases rivals, immuno-oncology gets complicated


Merck & Co, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Roche already have similar drugs approved in lung cancer and the race is on to launch effective combinations for previously untreated disease in patients – a potentially huge market. “I think there will be multiple approvals in the first-line (untreated) space,” Naiyer Rizvi, head of thoracic oncology at Columbia University Medical Center, told Reuters. “The question is going to be how do you position all these different options.”

The Endangered ‘Good Doctor’

Wall Street Journal

Occasionally recognition did come. In 2007, I joined Dr. and Mrs. Lee at a tribute organized by Columbia’s College of Physicians and Surgeons. That evening, Dr. Lee joined former colleagues from Sloan Kettering and two patients, myself and Ms. Beckwith, whom he had saved from lymphoma years back.

Anti-depressant use before, during pregnancy tied to autism risk


“I think this is one of these situations where this gets a lot of attention in the media, but the results are actually pretty challenging to interpret,” said Dr. Jeremy Veenstra-VanderWeele, of the Columbia University Department of Psychiatry in New York. “In some ways, the strongest association with preconception exposure and increased risk of ASDs suggests to me at least there is something hidden here.”

7 Tips for Talking to Your Kids About the Lethal Dangers of Opioids

U.S. News

3. Honestly discuss why some people use drugs. Be straightforward in discussing the allure of drugs, says Dr. Nasir Naqvi, assistant professor of clinical psychiatry, division on substance use disorders in the department of psychiatry at Columbia University in New York City. It’s important to explain that “drugs can make you feel good, and like many things that make you feel good, they can also damage you, especially because you can lose control and they have harmful effects on your body,” Naqvi says. Acknowledging that drugs can temporarily evoke feelings of euphoria or an escape from life – rather than just discussing the negative effects of substance abuse – is important to maintain credibility. “It’s absolutely important to talk about both sides,” he says. “If you just talk about the downside, it will sound like any other admonishment.”

Why Children Face The Greatest Danger From Chemical Weapons


“Toxic stress affects brain development, learning, and the social-emotional ability to regulate one’s own behavior,” said Lindsay Stark of Columbia University, who studies childhood trauma in refugee and conflict settings. But children are also incredibly resilient, Stark said. Child soldiers in war-ravaged African countries didn’t turn out to be a lost generation as mental health professionals feared, she said. Many learned to cope with their traumatic pasts and went on to have productive lives.

Siddhartha Mukherjee

Charlie Rose

A look at the future of automated medicine with Columbia University assistant professor of medicine Siddhartha Mukherjee, author of a piece in The New Yorker, “The Algorithm Will See You Now.”

Decades of ’60 Minutes’ couldn’t prepare Lesley Stahl for shock and aww! of grandparenting

Chicago Tribune

Linda Fried, dean of Columbia University’s school of public health, told Stahl, “The elderly are the only increasing natural resource in the entire world.” “We’re a surplus value,” Stahl writes. “Using that value to help grandchildren is a perfect solution, and the advantages for our overly stretched daughters, daughters-in-law, sons and sons-in-law are immeasurable.”

Brain cancer survival improves with novel electrical device, data suggest

Washington Post

Trial investigator Andrew Lassman, the chief of neuro-oncology at Columbia University, first heard about the device some years ago. He remembers thinking, “What is this thing, is it a joke?” Now he believes the approach is here to stay — “I don’t think it’s sci-fi,” he said — and calls the results “pretty good” even though the improvements are “incremental, not curative.”

For Bristol-Myers, A Victory And A Mystery


“I think that’s obviously been the topic of debate for the last seven or eight months,” says Naiyer Rizvi, director of thoracic oncology at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, of the lung cancer failure. “I don’t think anyone has an answer.”

Smoking slows recovery from drug abuse

Chicago Tribune

“The thinking in clinical settings has been that asking patients to quit cigarette smoking while they try to stop using drugs is ‘too difficult,’ or that smoking may be helpful in remaining abstinent from alcohol and drugs, but it is not related whether or not one remains abstinent from illicit drug use over the long term,” said study leader Renee Goodwin.

Lewis Rowland, Leading Neurologist on Nerve and Muscle Diseases, Dies at 91

New York Times

Dr. Lewis P. Rowland, a neurologist who made fundamental discoveries in nerve and muscle diseases and clashed with government investigators during the McCarthy era, died on March 16 in Manhattan. He was 91. The cause was a stroke, his son Steven said. Dr. Rowland, the chairman of Columbia University’s neurology department for 25 years, died at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center.

Children with autism 40 times more likely to die from injury, study says


Two motives drove Dr. Guohua Li, senior author of the study and founding director of the Center for Injury Epidemiology and Prevention at Columbia University, to research the relationship between autism and injury. “First, the prevalence of autism has been increasing,” Li said, noting that there are an estimated 3.5 million people living with autism in the US, including about 500,000 children under the age of 15. “Second, there is anecdotal evidence that people with autism are at higher risk of injury.”

Henry S. Lodge, Author of ‘Younger Next Year’ Books, Dies at 58

New York Times

Dr. Henry S. Lodge, whose series of health-advice books, “Younger Next Year,” written with his patient Chris Crowley, sold in the millions, died on Friday in Manhattan. He was 58. The cause was prostate cancer, his partner, Laura Yorke, said.

Brain aging linked to common genetic variant


“If you look at a group of seniors, some will look older than their peers and some will look younger,” said the study’s co-author Asa Abeliovich in a news release. “The same differences in aging can be seen in the frontal cortex, the brain region responsible for higher mental processes.”

Bad gene that ages your brain by 12 years: Discovery could lead to treatment for rare form of dementia within five years

Daily Mail

Dr. Asa Abeliovich, co-author of the study led by Columbia University Medical Centre, said: “If you look at a group of seniors, some will look older than their peers and some will look younger. The same differences in ageing can be seen in the frontal cortex, the brain region responsible for higher mental processes. Our findings show that many of these differences are tied to variants of a gene called TMEM106B.”


The history of cancer

CBS Sunday Morning

Prehistoric animals had cancer, said physician and scientist Siddhartha Mukherjee. “In humans, you can find signs of cancer in ancient specimens,” he said. Mukherjee calls cancer “The Emperor of All Maladies” in his Pulitzer Prize-winning history of the disease. Around 400 B.C., Hippocrates, the Greek physician known as the father of medicine, is said to have first given it a name: karkinos.

Breakfast, fasting, snacking: Heart panel weighs in on meal-timing questions

Washington Post

“Americans have an around-the-clock lifestyle, so food consumption also occurs at nearly all hours,” says Marie-Pierre St-Onge, associate professor of nutritional medicine at the Columbia University Medical Center and chair of the AHA committee. “Animal studies have shown that this can have adverse effects on health. Now is the time for studies on optimal food consumption times for humans.”

Pot and booze tied to lower college grades


“For many students, high achievement during the first two years of college provides them with skills and confidence that help propel their performance during the final years of college,” said Dr. Mark Olfson, a psychiatry researcher at Columbia University in New York who wasn’t involved in the study. “The new findings make clear the real academic risks to college students posed by combined heavy alcohol and marijuana use,” Olfson added by email. “Parents should be encouraged to have open discussions about alcohol and marijuana with their children before they go off to college.”


The rise of Obamacare: Why is the ACA so popular?

BBC News

“To a certain extent much of the debate over the years has been a referendum on the Obama administration,” says Michael Sparer, chair of the department of health policy and management at Columbia University. “Opposition to the law very effectively painted it as an expensive bureaucratic interference in the American healthcare system,” he said. “But the debate is shifting a little bit from pure rhetoric to what would actually happen if the law was gone.”

Drs. Michael Vitale, Lawrence Lenke on 2nd Safety in Spine Surgery Summit

Becker's Spine

A significant gap in spine surgery safety awareness struck Michael Vitale, MD MPH, of New York City-based NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia Orthopedics, in 2012. Although physicians fiercely respect their oath to do no harm, complications happen. “If we’re just a little more thoughtful about slowing down the machine, optimizing better teams and developing infrastructure to protect patients, we can avoid a lot of these things,” explains Dr. Vitale. “It’s a miserable thing being a surgeon trying to do good, and being the executor of patient harm.”

Working Longer May Benefit Your Health

New York Times

“Volunteering and paid work produces better physical and mental health,” said Linda Fried, a founder of the Experience Corps who is also dean of Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. “People need purpose. They need a reason to get up in the morning.”

Did You Get Bit By A Lyme-Infested Tick? Here’s What To Do


And when you find a tick:

1. Don’t panic, says Dr. Brian Fallon, who directs the Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases Research Center at Columbia University Medical Center.

2. Get out the tweezers. “Very carefully, go under the head of the tick with the tweezers and just pull out the mouth of the tick, which is embedded in the skin,” Fallon says. “What you don’t want to do is squeeze the body of the tick,” he says. “That will cause the tick to spew all of its stomach contents into the skin, and you’ll be more likely acquire whatever infection that tick was carrying.”

The 9 Best New University Buildings Around the World

Architectural Digest

The medical center at Columbia University has added to the school’s roster of notable architecture with a design by New York firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro. The Roy and Diana Vagelos Education Center’s 14-story cubic façade—built upward rather than out to accommodate Manhattan’s modest acreage allowance—is nearly all glass, showcasing a stellar view of the Hudson River and symbolizing a relationship and connection with the surrounding community. Inside, state-of-the-art classrooms and practice labs provide the most modern facilities for some of the most advanced medical students in the world.

What America First really means


Susan Michaels-Strasser, an Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health, is Implementation Director of ICAP at Columbia University. She is a Public Voices Fellow with the OpEd Project and is a public health professional with over 25 years of experience in nursing and public health. 

6 colon cancer warning signs never to ignore


Probably the most common warning sign is rectal bleeding, said Dr. Alfred Neugut, a medical oncologist and cancer epidemiologist at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. If you notice blood on the toilet paper, in the toilet bowl or mixed in with your stool, tell your doctor. The blood can be bright red or a darker maroon color.

Concussions More Likely in Female Athletes

Philadelphia Inquirer

The findings add to the existing evidence that female athletes may be more susceptible to concussions, even as attention has tended to focus on the risk to male football players. “The more we look at concussion, the more we realize that women are at high risk,” said study co-author Dr. James Noble. He’s an assistant professor of neurology at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City.

Our Politics, Our Kids

WNYC Radio

Andrew Solomon, president of PEN America, professor of clinical psychology at Columbia University, National Book Award-winning author of Far and Away: Reporting from the Brink of Change (Scribner, 2016), talks about the balance of instilling political values in your children that are important to you while still teaching them to think for themselves and form their own opinions.

Same-sex marriage linked with 7% drop in US teen suicide attempts


In an editorial accompanying the paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics, Columbia University’s Mark Hatzenbuehler wrote that “stigma is one of the most frequently hypothesized risk factors”. But, he wrote, research into stigma and mental health is almost exclusively at the personal level, rather than looking at factors in society at large. “That literature has tended to overlook what we call structural forms of stigma – which include … laws and policies,” he said in an interview. “Those results really highlight the fact that the legal climate surrounding LGB adolescents really deserves greater attention,” he added.

Same-sex marriage laws linked to fewer youth suicide attempts, new study says


In the past, the denial of same-sex marriage has been motivated by false stereotypes of gay men and lesbians as unfit for marriage or parenthood, according to a 2006 paper by Dr. Gilbert Herdt, founder of the Department of Sexuality Studies at San Francisco State University, and Dr. Robert Kertzner, Associate Clinical Professor at the Columbia University Department of Psychiatry. In the paper for Sexuality Research and Social Policy, Herdt and Kertzner argued that those societal attitudes added to a sense of stigma and social isolation for gay men and lesbians and detracted from their mental health. “Policymakers in the United States should be concerned about the impact the denial of marriage has on the mental health and wellbeing of gay men and lesbians,” they wrote.

ADHD is linked to delayed brain development

Washington Post

“The reliability of ADHD research has not been great, because of [small] sample sizes,” said Jonathan Posner, who did not take part in the study but who does pediatric brain imaging research at Columbia University Medical School. “So because this study was orders of magnitude higher in terms of participants, and because it involved sampling broadly and internationally, it gives us more confidence.”

Older women reduce their endometrial cancer risk with weight loss


“The majority of women with endometrial cancer are diagnosed with early-stage tumors that are associated with a high cure rate. However, despite this paradigm, not only is the incidence of endometrial cancer increasing, but the number of women who die as a result of the disease also is increasing,” Dr. Jason Wright, chief of gynecologic oncology at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and New York Presbyterian Hospital, writes in an editorial accompanying the study.

Cooling Cap May Limit Chemo Hair Loss In Women With Breast Cancer


“These findings appear to represent a major step forward in improving the quality of life of individuals with cancer,” says Dr. Dawn Hershman, who studies the effects of cancer treatments at the Columbia University School of Medicine in New York. She wrote an editorial accompanying the studies in JAMA, the journal of the American Medical Association. But Hershman cautions that more study is needed to determine whether there is a psychological benefit in using the caps to prevent hair loss.

America’s dangerous and dwindling commitment to global health

The Hill

Craig Spencer, MD MPH is the director of global health in emergency medicine at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center and an assistant professor of medicine and population and family health at the Columbia University Medical Center.

Nerve Cells That Go Out on a Limb Show How the Ability to Tweet Evolved

Scientific American

The molecular-scale view provided in this latest study suggests how the wiring process may have evolved. It may also provide insight into diseases, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), which begins with muscle weakness in the extremities. Study co-author Thomas Jessell, who co-directs Columbia University’s Zuckerman Institute, talked to Scientific American about the findings and their implications.