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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.

Dr. Abdul El-Sayed on Ebola

NBC New York

Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, assistant professor of epidemiology at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, talks to Roseanne Colletti about the recent news surrounding the Ebola epidemic.

To Improve a Memory, Consider Chocolate

New York Times

In a small study in the journal Nature Neuroscience, healthy people, ages 50 to 69, who drank a mixture high in antioxidants called cocoa flavanols for three months performed better on a memory test than people who drank a low-flavanol mixture. On average, the improvement of high-flavanol drinkers meant they performed like people two to three decades younger on the study’s memory task, said Dr. Scott A. Small, a neurologist at Columbia University Medical Center and the study’s senior author. They performed about 25 percent better than the low-flavanol group.

Cocoa Constitutents Fend Off Senior Moments. The Memory of a 30-Year-Old?

Sci Am

Scott Small, a professor of neurology at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, researches Alzheimer’s, but he also studies the memory loss that occurs during the normal aging process. Research on the commonplace “senior moments” focuses on the hippocampus, an area of the brain involved with formation of new memories.  In particular, one area of the hippocampus, the dentate gyrus, which helps distinguish one object from another, has lured researchers on age-related memory problems.

Can General Anesthesia Trigger Dementia?

Scientific American

“Human beings come in many different sizes and have different preexisting conditions that may put them at higher risk,” says Robert Whittington,  professor of clinical anesthesiology at Columbia University Medical Center.

Robotic Surgery Report Card

New York Times

“There’s no proven benefit to robotic surgery, and it’s significantly more costly,” said the lead author, Dr. Jason D. Wright, director of gynecological oncology at Columbia University Medical Center.

Can Pine-Nut Oil Help Curb a Person’s Appetite?

Wall Street Journal

“At most it will have a very modest effect on food intake,” says Marie-Pierre St-Onge, assistant professor of nutritional medicine at Columbia University Medical Center in New York.

Ebola’s Quarantine Politics: Why Authorities Push Voluntary Isolation

National Geo

Aside from four people who shared an apartment with Duncan in the early days of his illness, the U.S. government has kept all quarantines voluntary. The fact that those four did not fall ill despite their exposure shows that casual contact, such as sharing an airplane, with someone before they are significantly symptomatic carries very little risk, said Amy Fairchild, a professor of sociomedical sciences at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in New York City.

All Hands on Deck

The New Yorker

Dr. W. Ian Lipkin, an epidemiology professor at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and one of the world’s leading infectious-disease investigators, was on his way to a meeting on campus last Wednesday. He would have preferred to be in West Africa.

Columbia to Announce New Scholarships for Local Students

Wall Street Journal

Ms. Chavez, 18 years old, did end up at Columbia—as one of 34 Thompson-Muñoz scholars, beneficiaries of a new grant program the university has created exclusively for students who grew up or went to school in the area surrounding Columbia and its new campus currently under construction in the West Harlem neighborhood of Manhattanville.

Scarier Than Ebola

New York Times

Stephen Morse, a professor of epidemiology at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, told me: “We have a lot of vaccine-preventable diseases and we see more and more people refusing to have their children take vaccines.”

How to Quarantine Against Ebola

New York Times

There is a fourth strategy, although it will need to be evaluated and deployed carefully. Since the 1990s, novel methods have allowed doctors to detect viruses in the pre-symptomatic phase of an infection, often with remarkable sensitivity and precision. One of these involves the polymerase chain reaction, or P.C.R., a chemical reaction that amplifies pieces of a virus’s genes floating in blood by more than a millionfold, which is what makes early, pre-symptomatic infections identifiable.

Stem cell research offers hope on type 1 diabetes

Boston Globe

Dieter Egli, assistant professor in the pediatrics department at Columbia University Medical Center, said his laboratory will try to repeat Melton’s experiment immediately. “It’s a wonderful result, something we’ve been waiting for quite awhile,” Egli said.

Robotic Surgery Brings Higher Costs, More Complications, Study Shows


In the latest study to question the value of robotic surgery, researchers from Columbia University found that the technology costs significantly more and has a higher rate of complications than regular minimally invasive surgery for removing ovaries and ovarian cysts.

Second Thoughts on Out-of-Favor Parkinson’s Disease Treatment

Wall Street Journal

If the Transeuro trial shows that patients gain improvements after the transplant with reduced side effects, “there’s a future for stem cells” with the disease, says Stanley Fahn, a neurology professor at Columbia University in New York who was the co-primary investigator on one of the two National Institutes of Health-funded transplant trials in the 1990s.

3 win Nobel Prize for finding what amounts to brain’s GPS

CBS News

Columbia University professor of neuroscience and Nobelist Eric Kandel told CBS News in an email, “This year’s Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine recognizes an extraordinary set of contributions to brain science.” The work of the three scientists “has illuminated the neural computation underlying a complex cognitive function: position in space – the first cognitive function we understand on the cellular level.”

Nobel Prize in Medicine is Awarded for Discovery of Brain’s ‘Inner GPS’

NY Times

A British-American scientist and a pair of Norwegian researchers were awarded this year’s Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine on Monday for discovering “an inner GPS, in the brain,” that makes navigation possible for virtually all creatures. John O’Keefe, 75, a British-American scientist, will share half of the prize of 8 million kronor, or $1.1 million, in what is considered the most prestigious scientific award. May-Britt Moser, 51, and Edvard I. Moser, 52, who are married, will share the other half, said the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, which chooses the laureates. …The three also won Columbia University’s Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize last year for their discoveries.

3 win medicine Nobel for discovering brain’s GPS

Associated Press

A U.S.-British scientist and a Norwegian husband-and-wife research team won the Nobel Prize in medicine Monday for discovering the brain’s navigation system — the inner GPS that helps us find our way in the world — a revelation that could lead to advances in diagnosing Alzheimer’s. The research by John O’Keefe, May-Britt Moser and Edvard Moser represents a “paradigm shift” in neuroscience that could help researchers understand the sometimes severe spatial memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s disease, the Nobel Assembly said. …All three Nobel laureates won Columbia University’s Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize last year for their discoveries. They will split the Nobel prize money of 8 million Swedish kronor (about $1.1 million), with half to O’Keefe and the other half to the Mosers.

The littlest patient


The worst day of Kenneth Olive’s career began unremarkably. He woke up in his two-bedroom apartment in Harlem and tag-teamed breakfast for his 1-year-old son as he and his wife raced to get ready for work. At the 116th Street subway stop nearby, Olive hopped on a C train uptown to 168th Street. His lab is about a block away, in the cancer center at the heart of Columbia University’s medical complex.

A Study Bolsters a Call to Use Long-Acting Contraceptives

New York Times

“If it were universally adopted, that would be a great thing because we would have far fewer people at risk for unintended pregnancy,” said Dr. Irwin Redlener, the president of the Children’s Health Fund and a pediatrics professor at Columbia University, who was not involved with the research or the guidelines.

Early gluten exposure no protection against celiac disease


“From now on, it will be hard for anyone to continue to recommend the introduction of gluten specifically at the age of 4 to 6 months,” the timetable tested in one of the studies, according to an accompanying editorial by Drs. Jonas Ludvigsson of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and Peter Green of the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City.

Discuss risks of radiation imaging: cardiologists

Reuters Health

Cardiologists should discuss with patients the risks and benefits of chest imaging using ionizing radiation before the procedure, according to a new statement endorsed by several medical organizations. Ionizing radiation, which can come from cardiac stress tests, CT scans and certain heart procedures, is tied to increased cancer risk. “There is continuing concern on the part of patients in the area of ionizing radiation,” said Dr. Andrew J. Einstein, an associate professor of medicine in radiology at Columbia University in New York.


Despite the hype, no verdict yet on high-fat, low-carb regime

Reuters Opinion

Low-carb diets have been advocated by various “experts” for at least 225 years. Many sources credit John Rollo with being the first to promote a low carbohydrate diet for diabetics in the late 1700s. In the 1860s, an English undertaker by the name of Banting published his famous “Letter on Corpulence, Addressed to the Public.”  His diet, which advocated giving up several starchy foods, was so popular that for decades dieting was actually called “Banting.”

Researchers Shed Light on Asthma’s Mysteries

Wall Street Journal

“It’s assumed that the prenatal period is going to be your most susceptible period [for disease], including lung development,” says Robin Whyatt, a study co-author and a professor of environmental health sciences at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health. The researchers cautioned that while the study found an association between phthalates and asthma, it didn’t prove causation.