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Study Evaluates Risk of Cancer Spread by Hysterectomy Procedure

New York Times

Of those, 99 women had uterine cancer that was detected afterward. (If doctors had known about the cancer, they would not have used morcellation.) That means one in 368 women undergoing a hysterectomy had cancerous tumors that risked being spread by morcellation, said Dr. Jason D. Wright, the lead author and chief of gynecologic oncology at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Study Finds New Cancer Risk from Hysterectomy Device

Wall Street Journal

The study, published by Columbia University doctors in the Journal of the American Medical Association, sheds new light on the potential hazards of a surgical tool called a power morcellator that is used to remove uterine growths, fibroids, in laparoscopic surgery. It also found that the device might spread a wider range of cancers than previously believed. …The authors chose to conduct the study because of recent publicity about the device, said Jason D. Wright, lead author and the director of gynecologic oncology at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. Although power morcellators have been on the market for two decades, scant data existed about the tool, he said.

Shorter Treatment for Tuberculosis Works in HIV Patients

Bloomberg News

Current treatments for drug-resistant TB involve daily injections, sometimes for as long as six months, and can last as long as two years. The logistical challenge of the current long-term treatments for TB keep many from completing the full course, said Amrita Daftary, a postdoctoral fellow with ICAP, formerly the International Center for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs at Columbia University in New York. “If you’re suddenly cutting down that regimen to 6 months you’re probably going to see more people completing the treatment,” Daftary said by telephone. “It would be such a boon because it would reduce the stigma associated with TB.”

Dr. Albert J. Stunkard, Destigmatizer of Fat, Dies at 92

New York Times

Albert James Stunkard was born in Manhattan on Feb. 7, 1922, the son of Horace Stunkard, a professor of biology at New York University, and Frances Klank Stunkard, a librarian. He received his bachelor’s degree from Yale in 1943 and his medical degree from Columbia in 1945 before serving as an Army physician in occupied Japan, where he became a student of Shunryu Suzuki, a Buddhist monk who later helped popularize Zen Buddhism in the United States.

‘Trans Bodies, Trans Selves’: A Modern Manual By And For Trans People


[Laura] Erickson-Schroth is a fellow in public psychiatry and LGBT health at Columbia University Medical Center. She’s also a founding member of the Gender and Family Network of New York City. When she was in medical school at Dartmouth, she says, she met a lot of patients who were transgender. “I started to see that there were some patterns — there were people talking about this disconnect between trans communities and providers,” Erickson-Schroth says.

A Vasectomy May Increase Prostate Cancer Risk

New York Times

Dr. James M. McKiernan, interim chairman of the department of urology at Columbia, said the lack of a clear causal mechanism was a drawback of the new research. “If someone asked for a vasectomy, I would have to tell them that there is this new data in this regard, but it’s not enough for me to change the standard of care,” he said. “I would not say that you should avoid vasectomy.”

Medical Marvels: New procedure to lose weight

ABC New York

For the next six weeks, Eyewitness News will be taking you inside Manhattan’s New York-Presbyterian Hospital for a look at some extraordinary stories that we call Medical Marvels. It’s a web series exclusive to 7online. In part 1, you will meet Maureen Cavanaugh, who has struggled with her weight for years. She says she’s tried every type of diet and weight loss regimen imaginable. In March, she underwent a new procedure called an Endoscopic Sleeve Gastroplasty, performed by Dr. Marc Bessler at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center.

Study Discounts Testosterone Tx for Early Prostate Cancer

New York Times

One expert who was not involved in the new study, Dr. James M. McKiernan, acting chairman of urology at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center said its findings were “eye-opening and even alarming.” “This isn’t the first study that suggests that there’s no added benefit to this therapy,” said Dr. McKiernan said. “But there are still a fair number of doctors recommending it and patients receiving it.”

What We Really Taste When We Drink Wine

The New Yorker

This live-action experiment was conducted in early June by the Columbia University neuroscientist Daniel Salzman. His premise is that no event or object is ever experienced in perfect, objective isolation. It is instead subject to our past experiences, our current mood, our expectations, and any number of incidental details—an annoying neighbor, a waiter who keeps banging your chair, a beautiful painting in your line of sight. With something like wine, all sorts of societal and personal complications come into play, as well. We worry, for example, about whether our taste is “good.”

Key to Detecting Alzheimer’s Early Could Be in the Eye

Wall Street Journal

Smell is another area of interest because the odor center of the brain appears particularly vulnerable to Alzheimer’s pathology and the ability to identify different smells becomes impaired relatively early in the disease process. A study of some 1,000 individuals without Alzheimer’s diagnoses who were examined from 2004 to 2006, using a simple scratch-and-sniff smell test known as the UPSIT, showed that lower scores on the test were associated with a greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s—even if the individual was cognitively normal at the beginning of the study, said Davangere Devanand, a Columbia University psychology and psychiatry professor.

Worried You May Be Developing Alzheimer’s? Check Your Eyes

NBC News

Two other studies looked at a smell test for Alzheimer’s. Again, early research has suggested that the disease can affect the olfactory centers of the brain. Dr. Davangere Devanand of Columbia University Medical Center in New York and colleagues tested 1,037 people in New York City, with an average age of 80. None had Alzheimer’s the first time they were seen in 2004-2006. They were seen again in 2006-2008 and 2008-2010. They took a standard smell test. “It’s a standardized test which has 40 items, each of which is a scratch-and-sniff item. The person smells it and has to choose the correct choice from four choices,” Devanand told NBC News. “All are very familiar smells, such as gasoline, pizza, tea, apple.”

Alzheimer’s researchers hunt for new tools to ID disease’s onset

Washington Post

In a similar study, Davangere Devanand, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center, and colleagues administered the same University of Pennsylvania odor-detection test on 1,037 healthy, elderly people several times over a longer period of time. His team also found some correlation between declining sense of smell and the transition from mild cognitive impairment to dementia: Of those who took part, 757 people who scored lower on tests of their sense of smell also showed a decline from mild cognitive impairment to dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Having Heart Surgery Is Like Flying, NY Med Doc Says

ABC News

Cardiac surgery appealed to me because it was a chance to make a real, measurable impact on the lives of people every single day, helping people out of literally life-threatening situations. As much as I enjoy this, it is the impact that these operations have on their extended families that is most gratifying.

Michael Argenziano, M.D., is Chief of Adult Cardiac Surgery at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, where he is also Director of Minimally Invasive Cardiac Surgery and Program Director of the Residency in Thoracic Surgery. He received his M.D. from the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and completed his training in cardiothoracic surgery, mechanical cardiac assistance, and surgical electrophysiology, all at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.

Using M.C.s and M.D.s to Promote Healthy Eating for Youths

New York Times

The campaign, which draws upon anti-obesity research conducted at Columbia University Medical Center, seeks to make healthy eating seem cool through original hip-hop songs, comic books and cartoon-style videos. “It’s about having fun while learning,” said Dr. Olajide Williams, a Nigerian-born neurologist at the medical center and at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, who founded Hip Hop Public Health. “Their minds are unlocked by the entertainment and then we can input the knowledge and skills they need to learn.”

Pill to Prevent H.I.V. Gets a Prominent Backer: Andrew Cuomo

New York Times

Other novel ideas to keep people in treatment are currently in testing. Dr. Wafaa El-Sadr, director of the International Center for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs at Columbia, is running a trial of a program that makes cash payments to patients with H.I.V. in exchange for quarterly tests showing undetectable viral loads.

The Brave New World of Three-Parent I.V.F.

New York Times

Three days before the F.D.A. hearing, I called a scientist who would be making a presentation there, Dieter Egli, of the New York Stem Cell Foundation [and Columbia University Medical Center], and asked him what he thought the stakes were. Egli is Swiss, and he speaks an accented English both blunt and elegant. He said his goal was to use cells to cure disease, because we are made of cells: tiny, complex, independent ecosystems. Eggs are single cells — the largest ones in the human body — and to him, replacing their mitochondria, then putting them back into women safely and successfully, is like beginner cell therapy. …In 2008, Egli moved from Harvard to the New York Stem Cell Foundation, a nonprofit group and one of only a handful of privately funded stem-cell laboratories in the country, to continue his work. Two years later, Michio Hirano, a mitochondrial specialist at Columbia, approached Egli to see if he might be able to help his patients.


Human Gut Cells Become Insulin Producers in New Approach

Bloomberg News

The method, described today in the journal Nature Communications, raises the possibility of replacing insulin-making pancreatic beta cells lost in diabetics by using a drug to retrain patients’ existing cells. While progress has been made in generating beta cells from stem cells, the method hasn’t yet produced ones with all the needed functions, said Domenico Accili, the study’s lead author. Plus, such cells would require transplantation. “We provided a proof of principle that we can do this in human tissues and are also very excited that there is a single identifiable target to trigger this process,” Accili, professor of medicine at Columbia University’s Naomi Berrie Diabetes Research Center in New York, said in an interview.

My New Iron Lung

The New Yorker

The ensuing enthusiasm led to a medical trial in the seventies with the goal to test whether patients with lung failure did better with ECMO or with a respirator alone. In both groups, more than ninety per cent of patients died. The excitement about ECMO for adults with lung failure “fell back to earth,” Daniel Brodie, who directs the medical ECMO program at Columbia University Medical Center, told me. But in the ensuing decades, ECMO technology grew more sophisticated. The machine was smaller, complications fewer. In the late aughts, Brodie started to talk to his colleagues about whether ECMO could help patients with respiratory failure. “Enthusiasm for ECMO was—to put it mildly—in short supply,” Brodie said. “People essentially fell into two camps: agnostic and dead set against.”

Columbia Launches Clinical Cancer Exome and Transcriptome Test


A clinical cancer whole-exome and transcriptome sequencing test recently launched by Columbia University’s Laboratory of Personalized Genomic Medicine promises to impact the treatment of cancer patients. The new test was developed as part of a wider effort to incorporate personalized medicine approaches into Columbia’s pediatric oncology program, according to Andrew Kung, chief of the division of pediatric hematology, oncology, and stem cell transplantation.

Cataracts Affect Almost Everyone by Age 75


It’s a common sign of aging. By the time we reach 65, it is estimated that half the population will have a cataract, and all of us will likely have one by 75. Dr. Leejee Han Suh is an ophthalmologist at NewYork-Presbyterian Columbia University Medical Center. “A cataract is a cloudiness in the lens in your eye and it can cause progressive vision changes and ultimately a decrease in your vision.” She says cataracts are part of the aging process.


Orchestras Welcome Older Musicians

Wall Street Journal

Today, [Dr. Anne Taylor]‘s playing the cello again—as a member of the Adelphi Orchestra in River Edge, N.J. Forty of the group’s 50 members, including Dr. Taylor, are over age 50. She squeezes in practice and rehearsals around her job as a cardiologist and vice dean for academic affairs at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York.

Your Brain’s Got Rhythm, And Syncs When You Think


Rhythmic sequences are also required to move around, says Mark Churchland, a brain scientist at Columbia University. Walking, for example, requires repeatedly lifting a foot up, putting it down, and pushing it back. Fish swish a tail from side to side to swim. “It’s sort of hard to imagine any way of doing continuous locomotion that wasn’t built on a rhythmic underpinning,” Churchland says.

NY-Presbyterian/ Columbia University Medical Center

Crain's Executive Moves

New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center: Dr. William Levine, 49, was appointed chair of the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and orthopedic surgeon in chief at the academic medical center, effective July 1. He previously was the department’s vice chair for education, director of its residency and fellowship programs, chief of the shoulder service, and co-director of the Center for Shoulder, Elbow & Sports Medicine.

So Many Celiac Cases, So Few Diagnoses

Wall Street Journal
The gift is designed to help the hospital better serve the local population, fund research, sustain the hospital’s affiliated Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University Medical Center and to help the gastrointestinal department expand basic research in understanding of intestinal issues, said Mr. Seidenberg, 67 years old, the former chairman and CEO of Verizon Communications Inc. The money also will go toward renovating the children’s hospital pediatric-gastrointestinal wing.

Our Brains Are Made for Enjoying Art

Wall Street Journal

The study suggests high levels of saturated fat alter the composition of arterial cells, allowing white blood cells linked to atherosclerosis called macrophages to accumulate. Lab experiments at Columbia University in New York involved five groups of mice. One group was fed a standard diet with only saturated fat, while another had a diet with only omega-3s. Two groups received a combination of saturated fat and either 25% or 50% omega-3s in their diets. Control mice had a low-fat diet.

‘Thinking of Ways to Harm Her’

New York Times

A complex interplay of genes, stress and hormones causes maternal mental illness, scientists say. “Hormones go up more than a hundredfold,” said Dr. Margaret Spinelli, the director of the Women’s Program in Columbia University’s psychiatry department. After birth, hormones plummet, a roller coaster that can “disrupt brain chemistry,” she said.

Needle biopsies may be underused for breast cancer patients

New York Daily News

This paper is an interesting example of how important it is for cancer patients to be treated by experienced surgeons and in higher volume institutions,” said Dr. Dawn L. Hershman, leader of the Breast Cancer Program at the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center of Columbia University Medical Center in New York. Hershman was not a part of the new study.

In the race for star medical researchers, N.Y. goes slow

Capital New York

When the budget came out in April, they found out what they got: $650,000. “I guess you can be an optimist and say that it’s a beginning,” said Dr. Lee Goldman, dean of health sciences at Columbia University, who made the trip to Albany. “New York State has been badly behind. Where is our $3 billion? I think New York has to decide whether we really want to compete in this arena.”

Genetics In Court Is a Very Messy Business


A precedent has been set with a number of recent cases, but scientists and lawyers alike flag that a poor understanding of genetics and behavior could result in a dangerous misuse of science in the legal system. That’s what Dr. Paul Appelbaum, the director of Columbia University’s Center for Research on Ethical, Legal and Social Implications of Psychiatric, Neurologic and Behavioral Genetics argues in an essay published today in the journal Neuron.

Doctors Lean More Left, Political Donations Show

ABC News

An increase in female doctors — who more often than men donated to Democrats — and a decline in physicians working on their own or in small practices occurred during study years. Those changes likely contributed but reasons for the political shift are unclear, said study co-author David Rothman, a social medicine professor at Columbia University’s medical school. “We’ve got to stop thinking of physicians as a group as ‘solidly Republican.’ They are polarized, almost equally divided between Republicans and Democrats,” Rothman said.

Doctors Shift Money to Democrats as More Women Join Field

Bloomberg News

While campaign contributions in the general population have also been moving more toward Democrats, the trend has been greater among physicians during the last three election cycles, said David Rothman, a study author and director of the Center for the Study of Medicine as a Profession at Columbia University in New York. A key factor in the rise in Democratic support is the increase in women physicians, Rothman said.

Bassett’s first MDs seek to solve health care bottlenecks


The eight graduates attended a unique program that trained them for 18 months at the Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons and then brought them to the Bassett Healthcare Network for the rest of their education. The program’s No. 1 goal is to train great doctors, said Dr. Henry Weil, assistant dean for education at Bassett. But there’s a big secondary goal as well – teaching them how the health care system works and problem solving.

Porn may be messing with your head


“Everything is going to be bad in excess and it’s probably not terrible in moderation,” Dr. Gregory Tau of the Columbia University / New York State Psychiatric Institute in New York said. Tau, who was not involved with the study, agreed that more research should be done in this area and that longer studies would be need to find out if porn leads to brain changes.


Diet Lures and Diet Lies

New York Times

“In terms of diet, the general laws of thermodynamics hold,” Rudolph Leibel, an obesity expert at the Columbia University Medical Center, told me. “The issue of — ‘If I eat a diet of all watermelons as opposed to a diet of hamburgers with the same number of calories, will I be able to lose more weight on the watermelons?’ — that’s a specious argument. We’re dealing with chemistry and physics, not imagination.”

P&S Graduate Kyra Bernstein Finds Perfect Match in Anesthesiology


“Anesthesiology lets you keep a broad scope,” Ms. Bernstein says. Having found she enjoyed all her rotations, she didn’t want to pursue a specialty that was too narrow or restrictive. She chose a field that intersects with other medical disciplines but uses a clear set of skills and makes contributions. “Pediatrics, obstetrics, general OR, neurosurgery: With anesthesiology, you have a lot of intellectual freedom, but with defined, hands-on, day-to-day responsibility.”

2 Drugs Offer Hope for Fatal Lung Disease

HealthDay News

More than 100,000 Americans suffer from IPF, said Dr. David Lederer, co-author of the pirfenidone study. …”This drug very clearly slowed down progression of the disease as measured by lung function, and seems to have an effect on mortality as well,” said Lederer, co-director of the interstitial lung disease program at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City.