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Researchers reverse autism symptoms in mice by paring synapses

Washington Post

“We were able to treat mice after the disease had appeared,” neurobiologist David Sulzer of Columbia University Medical Center, who led the study published in the journal Neuron, said in a telephone interview. That suggests the disease could one day be treated in teenagers and adults, “though there is a lot of work to be done,” he said.

Study Finds That Brains With Autism Fail to Trim Synapses

New York Times

The researchers, from Columbia University Medical Center, looked closely at an area of the brain’s temporal lobe involved in social behavior and communication. Analyzing tissue from 20 of the brains, they counted spines — the tiny neuron protrusions that receive signals via synapses — and found more spines in children with autism.

Botox May Have Cancer-Fighting Role


Scientists at Columbia University Medical Centre, in New York, and at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim investigated the role of the vagus nervewhich runs from the brain to the digestive systemin stomach cancer. Either cutting the nerve or using the toxin Botox slowed the growth of tumors or made them more responsive to chemotherapy.

Autoimmune Drugs May Treat a Form of Baldness

NBC News

Angela Christiano, a professor in the Departments of Dermatology and of Genetics and Development at Columbia who helped direct the research, is herself an alopecia patient. “Patients with alopecia areata are suffering profoundly, and these findings mark a significant step forward for them. The team is fully committed to advancing new therapies for patients with a vast unmet need,” she said.

New Drug Helps Some Bald Patients Regrow Hair

New York Times

After trying various treatments, Brian enrolled this year in a study at Columbia University Medical Center testing whether a drug approved for a bone marrow disorder could help people with alopecia. One of the study’s leaders, Angela Christiano, is a dermatology professor and geneticist who herself has alopecia areata.

The Need for Nutrition Education in Med Schools

The Hill

Not only are we doctors poorly educated in nutrition, but there is a serious absence of funding to properly answer some of the most important questions that all nutrition specialists are being asked. The result is an unremitting epidemic of obesity and a multitude of preventable nutrition-related diseases on the one hand, and “experts” promoting opinion as fact, guidelines that are moving targets, and a public expecting to be able to rely on nutritional supplements as magic cures on the other.

What Should We Eat to Stay Healthy? Why Experts Actually Have No Idea


Until and unless the funding for very large, effective, long-term randomized studies of the effect of different diets on preventing disease becomes available, nutrition experts must educate themselves and the public about the strengths and weaknesses of the data on which their opinions are based.

Combat Stress Among Veterans Is Found to Persist Since Vietnam

New York Times

“This is a tremendously important effort, tracking the course of war-related trauma from young adulthood past middle age — we have nothing else like this,” said Bruce Dohrenwend, a professor of epidemiology and social sciences at Columbia University who was not involved in the study. “Now, we need to dig in and figure out what these results mean.”

Ebola: How Worried Should We Be?

Wall Street Journal

The threat in the developed world is minimal, and any infections that did occur could be easily isolated, says W. Ian Lipkin in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.

New clues reveal the secret life of the baby in your belly

NBC Today

Life in the womb is much busier than you might expect, said Dr. Bill Fifer, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University and a leading expert on fetal and newborn learning. “Everything that a newborn baby does, a fetus has pretty much done already,” Fifer said. “They’re exquisitely able to sense information over all parts of their body, although some are more sensitive than others, like around the mouth, around the feet, around the hands.”

Q and A: Ebola Spreads in Africa—and Likely Beyond

National Geographic

National Geographic recently talked with W. Ian Lipkin, an expert in viral diseases and the John Snow Professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, about why this outbreak is so much more widespread than previous ones.

Rustle, Tingle, Relax: The Compelling World of A.S.M.R.

New York Times

Dr. Carl W. Bazil, a sleep disorders specialist at Columbia University, says A.S.M.R. videos may provide novel ways to switch off our brains. “People who have insomnia are in a hyper state of arousal,” he said. “Behavioral treatments — guided imagery, progressive relaxation, hypnosis and meditation — are meant to try to trick your unconscious into doing what you want it to do. A.S.M.R. videos seem to be a variation on finding ways to shut your brain down.”

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.