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Autism Diagnosis in Siblings Serves as Poor Indicator of Risk

New York Times

The ratio of siblings with autism who have a common genetic basis for the disorder versus those who do not — now 30 percent to 70 percent — may be less lopsided as researchers analyze more such families, some experts said. The study “used a quite liberal approach for variants relevant to autism and the finding, while solid, may be less general than implied,” said Dr. David B. Goldstein, director of the Institute for Genomic Medicine at Columbia University.

Baby’s age at gluten exposure not tied to celiac disease


Around the world, the incidence of celiac disease is increasing, but researchers still don’t know why, said Dr. Peter Green, director of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University. “We have to address the reason,” said Green, who was not involved with the new study. He also said the new study, with the support of previous research, does not suggest that people need to follow any specific recommendation about gluten introduction.


Bone Stem Cells Regenerate Bone, Cartilage in Mice

Voice of America

Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center in New York identified these master cells in the marrow. When grown in the lab and transplanted back into a fracture site in mice, they helped repair the broken bones. Siddhartha Mukherjee, the study’s senior author, said similar stem cells exist in the human skeletal system. “The real provocative experiment or the provocative idea is being able to do this in humans — being able to extract out these stem cells from humans and being able to put them back in to repair complex fracture defects or osteoarthritis defects,” said Mukherjee.

Prediction: All Predictions About Ebola Are Unpredictable


“The idea of predicting infectious disease is relatively new. It’s not like weather predictions,” says Jeffrey Shaman, who despite the novelty of the field has been posting forecasts of the number of Ebola cases in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia since September. Shaman is an associate professor at Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University in New York. He says that the main challenge in creating models to predict the direction of the Ebola outbreak has been a lack of reliable information.

Episiotomies on the Decline for U.S. Births

U.S. News & World Report

An operation called an episiotomy, which widens the birth canal to facilitate easier deliveries, seems to be on the decline in the United States, a new study indicates. …To assess current rates, study author Dr. Alexander Friedman and his colleagues at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City examined data on more than 2.2 million American women who had vaginal deliveries at 510 different facilities between 2006 and 2012. Overall, a little more than 14 percent underwent an episiotomy during that period, the researchers report in the Jan. 13 issue of JAMA. In 2006, about 17 percent of deliveries involved the surgery, compared to less than 12 percent in 2012, the study found.

U.S. lawmakers looking to intensify DOE’s low-dose radiation research


The human health effects of low-dose radiation have long been a puzzle. “We know that high doses of radiation cause cancer,” says biophysicist David Brenner, director of Columbia University’s Center for Radiological Research, “but as you go down lower and lower in dose it becomes less and less clear what’s happening.” Detecting slight increases in cancer risk, for instance, is difficult. Some scientists have proposed that there is a threshold level, below which exposure to radiation is not dangerous, but there is no consensus on whether such a threshold exists, or what the safe exposure level would be, Brenner says.

Teenager With Cancer Loses Court Fight to Refuse Chemotherapy

New York Times

Cassandra’s legal battle is not unprecedented, but it is unusual, said Dr. Paul S. Appelbaum, director of the Division of Law, Ethics, and Psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons. “Nobody likes to overrule a parent and a child, particularly when they are in agreement,” he said. Courts tend to be cautious about ordering treatment over a patient’s objections, Dr. Appelbaum said, and whether they do so often involves several factors, including the seriousness of the condition, the child’s maturity, and concern about whether the child’s opinions are being influenced by a parent or other third party. Several of those variables appear to have figured in this case, he said.

Complications from in-vitro fertilization are rare in U.S.


“To only have roughly one percent complication risk is really quite phenomenal I think,” said Dr. Mark V. Sauer, chief of the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City. “What we who practice this type of medicine know is, it’s getting better, it’s getting less complicated, we’re seeing better management of known risks, and the big one still is OHSS,” Sauer, who was not involved in the new study, told Reuters Health by phone.


Effort on Ebola Hurt W.H.O. Chief

New York Times

“The interests of the member states bubble up, and they guide W.H.O.,” said Wafaa El-Sadr, a professor at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University. “On the other hand, the world’s expectation of the W.H.O. is that it’s leading from above. That’s a conflict.”

Elderly overprescribed sedatives and anti-anxiety drugs


Data from 60 percent of U.S. retail pharmacies showed that more than six percent of men and almost 11 percent of women between the ages of 65 and 80 used benzodiazepines in 2008, Dr. Mark Olfson and colleagues report in JAMA Psychiatry. Almost one-third of older adults used the tranquilizers on a long-term basis, for four months or more, the data showed. “These are worrisome patterns, especially for older adults and particularly for women,” Olfson told Reuters Health.


Restoring diplomatic relations with Cuba: What it means for American medicine


Cuba’s medical advances are largely attributable to its government, which has prioritized health care, “even as it has limited freedoms and economic prospects of its people,” Peter A. Muennig, an associate professor of health policy and management at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, wrote in an email to FoxNews.com. He said that while the health care systems in the U.S. and Cuba are not comparable, both countries’ medical research stands to advance from open relations.

Dr. Max Gomez: Custom Made Knee Replacements

CBS New York

“At present, there’s little that orthopedists can do to regenerate a torn knee meniscus,” said study leader Jeremy Mao, DDS, PhD, the Edwin S. Robinson Professor of Dentistry (in Orthopedic Surgery) at the Medical Center. “Some small tears can be sewn back in place, but larger tears have to be surgically removed. While removal helps reduce pain and swelling, it leaves the knee without the natural shock absorber between the femur and tibia, which greatly increases the risk of arthritis.”

3D-printed implants could let injured athletes play again

New York Daily News

An idea that once seemed absurd is now looking entirely possible, for researchers at Columbia University Medical Center have managed to successfully implant 3D-printed cartilage in sheep. …At present, there is no way to regenerate damaged menisci and in severe cases, they must be removed, which can bring an athlete’s career to an early end for it leaves him without a shock absorber between the femur and tibia, according to study leader Jeremy Mao, DDS, PhD.

Torn knee joint? This 3D-printed implant will help you grow a new one

FOX News

3D-printed prosthetic body parts certainly aren’t anything new at this point, but a team of medical researchers at Columbia University Medical Center has just taken the idea to a whole new level. Instead of replacing a damaged body part with an artificial insert, they’ve cooked up a way to use 3D printing in conjunction with stem cells to encourage your body to regrow the damaged part on its own.

Fractures are major cause of older women’s hospitalizations

Reuters Health

“We’ve known for a long time that osteoporotic fractures are the source of a lot of expense and pain,” said Dr. Ethel S. Siris, past president of the National Osteoporosis Foundation and director of the Toni Stabile Osteoporosis Center of the Columbia University Medical Center at New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

Lower IQ found in kids exposed to high chemical levels in utero

Washington Post

Previous research linked higher exposure to chemicals called “phthalates” to poor mental and motor development in preschoolers. This study was said to be the first to report a link between prenatal exposure to the chemicals and childhood development. Researchers from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health studied exposure to five types of phthalates, which are sometimes referred to as “hormone disruptors” or “endocrine disruptors.”

When a Rapist’s Weapon Is a Drug

New York Times

One of those motives is obvious: simple opportunism, the reason men have spiked women’s drinks (or less commonly, women men’s) since the dawn of cocktail hour. Another is coercion; the perpetrator is aroused by domination, forcing his (or rarely, her) sexual will on the target. “This is common enough that we debated whether to include it as a diagnosis in the D.S.M. 5,” psychiatrists’ influential diagnostic manual, said Dr. Michael First, a Columbia psychiatrist who edited it. But the idea was shelved, in part because of concerns that doing so would give rapists added recourse in legal cases, he said.

Post-Newtown momentum on mental health has slowed

USA Today

“When you’ve been through a couple decades of these kinds of cycles, it gets pretty discouraging,” said Paul Appelbaum, a professor of psychiatry, medicine and law at the Columbia University Medical Center in New York, who wasn’t involved in the new report. “As the memory of these tragedies fade, there is a reversion to a state of indifference.”

Stem Cells Hold Promise for Skin Disease Treatment

Wall Street Journal

A third study, led by scientists at Columbia University, focused on certain cells in EB patients that spontaneously revert to a normal state. The scientists showed that it was possible to change those “revertant” cells into pluripotent cells, and then into fresh, healthy skin tissue that secretes the required collagen.

Meet The People Who Work On Thanksgiving


On Thanksgiving morning, Claire Graves will not be sleeping in, nor will she be getting a turkey into the oven. Instead, at 7 a.m. Graves will be at Columbia University Medical Center starting the first hour of a 24-hour shift as a general surgery resident.

Columbia honors research on the genetics of diabetes


Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) has presented Andrew Hattersley, DM, and Mark McCarthy, MD, with the 16th Naomi Berrie Award for Outstanding Research in Diabetes, for their work on the genetics of the disease. Their research has contributed to the discovery of new forms of the disease, improvements in diagnostic methodology, and the development of more effective treatments.

The Hidden Dangers of Medical Scans

Time Magazine

“About a third of CT scans are clinically unnecessary or could be avoided by using conventional X-rays or an imaging test that doesn’t use radiation, like ultrasound or MRI,” says David J. Brenner, PhD, director of the Center for Radiological Research at Columbia University Medical Center.

Dr. Donald F. Steiner, Diabetes Researcher, Dies at 84

New York Times

“(His work) opened a window into a whole area of molecular physiology that people were not aware of,” said Dr. Rudolph Leibel, a director of the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.


A life-saving alternative to open heart surgery

CBS News

Dr. Susheel Kodali kept his gaze fixed on the four monitors suspended above the patient he was operating on at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center’s Heart Valve Center. …The first TAVR procedure was done in France 12 years ago. Doctors began clinical trials in the U.S. in 2005, led by the director of the NewYork-Presbyterian/ Columbia University Center for Interventional Vascular Therapy, Dr. Martin Leon.

Protect doctor-patient speech

Telegram News

Dr. Michael P. Hirsh is surgeon-in-chief at UMass Memorial Children’s Medical Center, a professor of surgery and pediatrics at UMass Medical School, and chief of the Division of Pediatric Surgery and Trauma; David J. Rothman, Ph.D. is a professor at Columbia University, and director of the Center for the Study of Society and Medicine and the Center for Medicine as a Profession.

Study Finds Increase in Elbow Injuries Among Young Baseball Players


Dr. Christopher Ahmad, chief of sports medicine at Columbia University Medical Center, noticed an uptick in the number of young baseball players coming in with arm pain. “Instead of one or two patients a week, it could be five or six patients a day,” he says. At the same time, as the head team physician for the New York Yankees, Dr. Ahmad observed an increase in the number of elbow injuries requiring surgery in Major League Baseball.

Merck’s Vytorin First Cholesterol Drug to Further Cut Heart Risk

Bloomberg News

The drugs shouldn’t be used broadly to prevent a first heart attack or similar cardiac complication, said Lori Mosca, professor at Columbia University Medical Center and director of preventive cardiology at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. For those who already have a heart disease, the modest benefit seen in the study may be important, she said. “This is a group of people who have suffered,” she said in an interview. “Every attempt to reduce their risk of a recurring problem is appropriate.”

Sanofi’s Genzyme Gets FDA Approval for MS Drug

Wall Street Journal

Lemtrada’s effects can last for up to five years and patients have to take monthly blood and urine tests to screen for side effects. “You write a prescription for five years and you can’t take it back,” said Claire Riley, director of the Columbia University Multiple Sclerosis Clinical Care and Research Center. “From a physician standpoint, it gives you pause.”

Risk Model Seen as Reducing Military Suicides

New York Times

“The most impressive thing is that they identified this high-risk group in the hospital, and by just focusing on one in 20 of them, you’re really dramatically improving your ability to predict,” said Dr. Mark Olfson, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University who was not involved in the study. “Clinicians don’t do a very good job predicting suicide risk, even though we think we do.”

Three-Quarters of Young Baseball Players Have Arm Pain

U.S. News

“Both nationally and internationally, we’re witnessing a troubling increase of elbow and shoulder injuries in young baseball players,” study leader Dr. Christopher Ahmad, chief of sports medicine and a professor of orthopedic surgery at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center and head team physician for the New York Yankees, said in a Columbia news release.

Dr. Craig Spencer Leaves New York Hospital Ebola-Free

ABC News

The New York doctor who contracted Ebola treating patients in West Africa has been discharged from the hospital Ebola-free and hailed as a hero. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio applauded the city’s response to its one and only Ebola case: Dr. Craig Spencer. “On behalf of all 8.4 million New Yorkers, I would like to welcome Craig Spencer back to his normal life,” de Blasio said, before inviting his wife to give Spencer the first hug.

Learning How Little We Know About the Brain

New York Times

Larry Abbott, 64, a former theoretical physicist who is now co-director, with Kenneth Miller, of the Center for Theoretical Neuroscience at Columbia University, is one of the field’s most prominent theorists, and the person whose name invariably comes up when discussions turn to brain theory.

Brain’s taste secrets uncovered

BBC News

The study, published in the journal Nature, should settle years of debate on how the brain perceives taste. The Columbia University team showed the separate taste sensors on the tongue had a matching partner in the brain. The scientists hope the findings could be used to help reverse the loss of taste sensation in the elderly.

Switzerland Hands Out Iodine in Case of Nuclear Disaster

Bloomberg News

“There’s a concern that this will be seen as a universal panacea to protect you from all types of radiation exposure, which it isn’t,” said David Brenner, professor of radiation biophysics at Columbia, said yesterday by telephone from New York. Children, rather than adults, were at risk of developing thyroid cancer due to radioactive iodine and would therefore be best served by the pills, he said.

Could Air Pollution Help Cause ADHD?

NBC News

A study of New York City women and their children found that kids who had the highest levels of air pollutants called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in their placenta and umbilical cord at birth were five times more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD later. …The higher the PAH levels, the more likely the children were to be diagnosed with ADHD at age 9, Frederica Perera of Columbia University’s [Mailman] School of Public Health and colleagues reported.

Her Anorexia, My Fear

New York Times

In psychotherapy, doctor and patient create a narrative together, brought to life by each individual’s personality and life experience. The narrative exerts pressure, hopefully in the direction of health.

Anne Skomorowsky is a psychiatrist at Columbia University Medical Center and an assistant professor of psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Virus Sleuths Chip Away At Ebola Mysteries


Vincent Racaniello, who studies viruses at Columbia University, says Ebola has recently become his obsession. “I find myself reading incessantly about Ebola when I should be doing other things,” says Racaniello, host of the online show This Week in Virology, which has devoted several recent programs to Ebola.

Generic Drugs May Help Breast Cancer Patients Stick to Therapy

U.S. News

“We know that hormone therapy for women with hormone receptor-positive breast cancer can reduce recurrence by up to 50 percent,” study leader Dr. Dawn Hershman, an associate professor of epidemiology at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, said in a hospital news release. “However, work by our group and others has shown that a substantial number of women discontinue treatment before the recommended five years or do not take the prescribed dose,” she added.

Study: Cocoa Beans Could Help Restore Memory

CBS New York

Is your memory as good as it was when you were younger? The answer is probably not. We all lose a little as we age, but what if there was something natural you could drink that could restore your memory to what it was 10 or 20 years ago? CBS 2’s Dr. Max Gomez reports on the memory breakthrough.

Ebola and Quarantine

New England Journal of Medicine

The governors of a number of states, including New York and New Jersey, recently imposed 21-day quarantines on health care workers returning to the United States from regions of the world where they may have cared for patients with Ebola virus disease. We understand their motivation for this policy — to protect the citizens of their states from contracting this often-fatal illness. This approach, however, is not scientifically based, is unfair and unwise, and will impede essential efforts to stop these awful outbreaks of Ebola disease at their source, which is the only satisfactory goal. The governors’ action is like driving a carpet tack with a sledgehammer: it gets the job done but overall is more destructive than beneficial.

Are Ebola Quarantines Necessary?

New York Times

As faculty members at Columbia University, we write in support of our colleague Dr. Craig Spencer, as well as all other health care workers returning from Ebola-stricken regions and treating Ebola here in the United States.

Amid New York Ebola Fears, a Voice of Calm

Wall Street Journal

Dr. Bassett and her two siblings grew up attending antiwar and antiracism demonstrations, reading James Baldwin books and were pushed to be free thinkers, their mother said. She graduated from Harvard University and ran a sickle-cell anemia clinic before moving back to New York to attend Columbia University’s medical school, where she did her residency in nearby Central Harlem.