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New York Mice Are Crawling With Dangerous Bacteria and Viruses

New York Times

“They are a potential source of human infection,” said Dr. W. Ian Lipkin, an epidemiologist at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia who was the senior author on the study. “The real message is that these things are everywhere.” The mice appeared to be healthy, and Dr. Lipkin said he presumes that they are carriers of the bacteria but are not affected by them. Dr. Lipkin said it was not clear whether the mice were getting the antibiotic-resistant bacteria from people — say, by eating food contaminated with the feces of someone taking antibiotics — or whether the bacteria developed resistance after mice ate discarded antibiotics.

In the Vanguard

Manhattan Times

A new Community Health Worker training program is partnering with local churches to train community members as volunteer health workers. ‎The workers also offer blood pressure screening and help complete insurance enrollments. ‎It is part of the larger work being conducted at the new Community Wellness Center of Columbia University, which hosted visitors on April 10. Led by Columbia psychiatrist Sidney Hankerson, MD, and neurologist Olajide Williams, MD, the site was developed with a unique mission in mind — to enlist community members in the effort to improve public health.

Aging: The things that let you thrive in old age are easier than you think

Washington Post

What makes Lask, Lee, and White particularly notable is that all of them have found a way to forge active lives past 81, the average life expectancy for someone living in New York City. And because of that, they are featured in a series of narratives, photos and videos showing “that older people have goals, they have lives that are dynamic,” says Dorian Block, director of the Exceeding Expectations project at the Robert N. Butler Columbia Aging Center at Columbia University. “You can be the person you’ve always been.”

How Can Oats, Which Don’t Contain Gluten, Be Labeled ‘Gluten Free’?

New York Times

“Commercial oats are often grown in fields that have previously grown wheat, transported by methods of transport where other grains are transported, and frequently milled in facilities that mill other grains,” said Dr. Peter Green, a professor of medicine who directs the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University. Cross-contamination can also occur in storage silos or via shared harvesting devices or production equipment.

Study: City areas with healthy eating, exercise options help control diabetes


“Our study is the first to look at a wide range of built and economic features of a residential environment and how they may affect a person’s ability to control their diabetes,” Dr. Andrew Rundle, an associate professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health, said in a press release. “And until now, no study had evaluated whether these cumulative exposures were associated with glycemic control in a large multiracial, multiethnic population.”

How to Start the Conversation About a Loved One’s Mental Health

U.S. News

So what is the right way to begin the conversation? “The place to start is, delicately,” says Dr. Philip R. Muskin, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University and secretary of the American Psychiatric Association. “In wood shop, for those who remember wood shop, they used to teach you, ‘measure twice, cut once.’ I think it’s the same thing here,” he says. “If you’re concerned about a loved one, think it through carefully before you bring it up.”

Taking Antidepressants During Pregnancy May Lead to Fetal Brain Changes


In the latest study to address the subject, researchers led by Claudia Lugo-Candelas, a post-doctoral research fellow at Columbia University, added to that knowledge by taking pictures of the brains of 98 babies about a month after they were born. Some of the infants’ mothers had depression and were being treated with antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), while others with depression were not treated. A group of mothers who were not affected by depression was also involved.

Organoids from bladder cancer could help doctors treat disease


“The creation of bladder cancer organoids is an important advance in the field,” Dr. James M. McKiernan, chairman of urology at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, and urologist-in-chief at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia, said in a press release. “This should greatly improve our understanding of the genomics of bladder cancer, how these tumors respond to drugs, and how they develop drug resistance. Ultimately, this may allow us to develop new therapies for the disease and predict an individual patient’s response to treatment.”

Columbia Researchers Grew Tissue That Acts Just Like Human Heart Muscle


A team of Columbia University researchers is behind a first in biomedical engineering: growing tissue that behaves just like an adult human heart muscle. The breakthrough, which was detailed Wednesday in the journal Nature, is more than just a cool science project — it could revolutionize medical research as we know it, says senior author Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic, a university professor at Columbia Engineering and a professor of medicine at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Can Doctors Choose Between Saving Lives and Saving a Fortune?

New York Times Magazine

Editor’s Note:  Siddhartha Mukherjee is an associate professor of medicine whose first book, The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, won a Pulitzer Prize. This article will appear in print on April 8, 2018 in the Sunday Magazine with the headline “How can a doctor grapple with the epidemic of cost?”

Surprise! Scientists find signs of new brain cells in adults as old as 79

Los Angeles Times

To come to this conclusion, lead author Dr. Maura Boldrini, a research scientist in Columbia University’s department of psychiatry, and her colleagues looked at the brains of 28 deceased people aged 14 to 79. Their goal was to see whether aging affects neuron production. … In each brain sample, the researchers looked for evidence of neurons in various stages of development, including stem cells, intermediate progenitor cells that would eventually become neurons, immature neurons that had not fully developed, and new neurons.

Obesity Causes Signs of Liver Damage in Children as Young as 8, Study Shows


“With the rise in childhood obesity, we are seeing more kids with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease in our pediatric weight management practice,” Dr. Jennifer Woo Baidal, lead author of the paper and assistant professor of pediatrics at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, said in a statement. “Many parents know that obesity can lead to type 2 diabetes and other metabolic conditions, but there is far less awareness that obesity, even in young children, can lead to serious liver disease.”

The Food That Helps Battle Depression

Wall Street Journal

“When we think of cardiac health, we think of strengthening an organ, the heart,” says Drew Ramsey, a psychiatrist in New York and assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia and author of “Eat Complete.” “We need to start thinking of strengthening another organ, the brain, when we think of mental health.” A bad diet makes depression worse, failing to provide the brain with the variety of nutrients it needs, Dr. Ramsey says. And processed or deep-fried foods often contain trans fats that promote inflammation, believed to be a cause of depression. To give people evidenced-based information, Dr. Ramsey created an e-course called “Eat to Beat Depression.”

Opioid Use Lower In States That Eased Marijuana Laws


One concern is marijuana use might encourage people to experiment with more dangerous drugs. Dr. Mark Olfson, a professor of psychiatry and epidemiology at Columbia University, authored a study that found marijuana users were six times more likely than nonusers to abuse opioids. “A young person starting marijuana is maybe putting him — or herself at increased risk,” Olfson says. “On the other hand there may be a role — and there likely is a role — for medical marijuana in reducing the use of prescribed opioids for the management of pain.”

You Asked: What’s the Healthiest Way to Make Popcorn?


Some oils have a higher smoke point than others, and so may be safe to employ for stove-top popping. “Peanut, corn, soybean and sesame oil have high smoke points,” says Marie-Pierre St-Onge, an associate professor of nutritional medicine at Columbia University’s Institute of Human Nutrition. “If using these oils, higher heat can be tolerated.”

Researchers find way to lower high triglycerides


Previously, Utpal Pajvan, an assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, led a team that found that inhibiting the enzyme with certain drugs improves blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity, and reduces fat accumulation and inflammation in the liver. In the new study, led by KyeongJin Kim, an associate research scientist at the school, found that inhibiting the enzyme also causes liver cells to pull triglycerides out of the bloodstream.

How human embryonic stem cells sparked a revolution


Dieter Egli was just about to start graduate school in 1998 when researchers first worked out how to derive human embryonic stem cells. In the two decades since, the prolific cells have been a fixture of his career. The biologist, now at Columbia University in New York City, has used them to explore how DNA from adult cells can be reprogrammed to an embryonic state and to tackle questions about the development and treatment of diabetes. He has even helped to develop an entirely new form of human embryonic stem cell that could simplify studies on what different human genes do.

Task Force Issues Stronger Skin Cancer Prevention Guidelines

U.S. News

Task force member Karina Davidson added, “We have more evidence now that tells us that counseling people to practice sun-protective behaviors can benefit some adults with fair skin types.” She is director of the Center for Behavioral Cardiovascular Health at Columbia University Medical Center, in New York City. “When deciding whether to counsel adults over the age of 24, clinicians should talk with their adult patients about their risk for skin cancer,” Davidson said in a task force news release.

Record Numbers of College Students Seeking Treatment for Depression and Anxiety


At the start of every school year, Anne Marie Albano, director of the Columbia University Clinic for Anxiety and Related Disorders (CUCARD), says she’s inundated with texts and phone calls from students who struggle with the transition to college life. “Elementary and high school is so much about right or wrong,” she says. “You get the right answer or you don’t, and there’s lots of rules and lots of structure. Now that [life is] more free-floating, there’s anxiety.”

Trump aide out for gambling: how problem betting can ruin a career

Daily News

“Gambling is classified as an addiction just like any other, like alcohol or drugs,” director of the Columbia University Gambling Disorders Clinic Mayumi Okuda Benavides told the Daily News. “It’s not a substance but a person’s life could be completely impaired by the obsession with gambling through thinking of ways to do it, the complications it creates in relationships, depressive symptoms or even suicide.”

International Women’s Day: 5 Badass Women in Science History You May Not Know


Virginia Apgar: This doctor made a mark on infant care when she introduced a method of evaluating newborns in the hospital, to measure their health after birth. Virginia Apgar’s system, known as the Apgar Score, was developed in 1952 and looked at a baby’s heart rate, breathing, reflexes, color, and muscle tone. Doctors around the world now take newborns’ Apgar Scores one minute and five minutes after birth to determine their health and predict how they will develop.

Sugarland: ‘An Epidemic of Misdiagnosis’


Rates of type 2 diabetes, which typically develops later in life for most patients, have grown to epidemic proportions. However, a growing number of adults are also being diagnosed with type 1, or what used to be known as juvenile diabetes, and many of them are being misdiagnosed. “It’s really an epidemic of misdiagnosis, confusion, of type 2 diabetes with type 1 diabetes,” said Dr. Robin Goland, the co-director of the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center at Columbia University Medical Center. “I’d like to see that stop happening.”

Giant Viruses With Huge Genomes Found In Brazil Rewrite What We Know About These Bizarre Life Forms


“The fact that this encodes so much of the machinery is interesting, because it makes you wonder how [those genes] got there,” Vincent Racaniello, a virologist at Columbia University, told Newsweek. Racaniello wasn’t involved in this research, but has followed the field for more than a decade. Understanding how viruses evolved could teach us more about how they cause disease, he said. “We need to know the driving evolutionary forces that led to the current crop of viruses that are on the planet today.”

How affirmative action could cure cancer and heart disease

The Conversation

Why is diversity important in biomedical research? There are diseases that afflict populations based on race, gender, and socioeconomics. For example, African-Americans have a high incidence of hypertension, African-American males have higher rates of prostate cancer diagnosis and women with West African ancestry have higher incidences of more aggressive, difficult-to-treat forms of breast cancer. Poor people are more likely to suffer from obesity and diabetes. While it is possible that a white male-dominated profession could focus on cures for diseases that afflict poor blacks and Hispanics, it is far more likely that scientists from these backgrounds will seek cures that can benefit their communities.

Reaping the Benefits of an Aging Work Force

New York Times

Lee Spring was among 13 businesses and nonprofits based in New York City that recently received Age Smart Employer Awards through the program, now in its third year, that is a project of the Columbia Aging Center at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. … “We’ve increased our life expectancy by 50 percent in the last 100 years,” said Dr. Linda Fried, dean of the Mailman School. “Now we have to design society for longer lives, and these awards, I think, are a linchpin of that.”

Almost any amount of exercise may help older men win longevity race


Still, the results add to evidence that any exercise is better than none, even if more intense activity is better, said Keith Diaz, a researcher at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City who wasn’t involved in the study. “So, whether one walks for 1 minute at a time or 10 minutes at a time, any duration of activity at a time is healthful,” Diaz said by email.

How a nuclear attack on North Korea would add to global cancer epidemic

The Conversation

In my [Dr. Andrew Marks’s] research laboratory, we use extremely small doses of radiation to image very small molecules in order to understand how the body works. All of us who work with radiation know about the lethal effects of large doses, but the radiation exposure to the scientists in my laboratory is monitored very closely. Strict federal guidelines define how much radiation is considered “safe.”

This city fights crime with gardening


Previous work showed that new laws and treatment programs for criminals only sometimes made a difference in reducing gun violence. Charles Branas, an epidemiologist at Columbia University, wanted to try a new strategy. “We wanted to approach something that had a much deeper reach, something that would touch the very structures that we thought were driving firearm violence in the first place,” he says.

Pediatricians Call For Universal Depression Screening For Teens


Only about 50 percent of adolescents with depression get diagnosed before reaching adulthood. And as many as 2 in 3 depressed teens don’t get the care that could help them. “It’s a huge problem,” says Dr. Rachel Zuckerbrot, a board-certified child and adolescent psychiatrist and associate professor at Columbia University. To address this divide, the American Academy of Pediatrics has issued updated guidelines this week that call for universal screening for depression. “What we’re endorsing is that everyone, 12 and up, be screened … at least once a year,” Zuckerbrot says. The screening, she says, could be done during a well-visit, a sports’ physical or during another office visit.

Poorer kids have greater odds of dying after heart surgery: study


Children who’ve had surgery to repair defective hearts are more likely to die or require longer hospitalizations if they live in poorer neighborhoods, a new study suggests. … “The fact that there are disparities in health care is nothing new, but it was particularly shocking to see this big an effect in this population,” said study author Dr. Brett Anderson. She’s an assistant professor of pediatrics at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City.

Major Shootings Led to Tougher Gun Laws, but to What End?

New York Times

“There’s no anti-mass shooting law to test,” said Charles Branas, the chairman of the epidemiology department at the School of Public Health at Columbia University in New York. “In terms of all of these instances, not just mass shootings, we need the politicians to create more laws to test.”

Medical pot laws don’t increase teens’ recreational use: Study


“For now, there appears to be no basis for the argument that legalizing medical marijuana has increased teens’ use of the drug,” Dr. Deborah Hasin, a professor of epidemiology at Columbia’s Mailman School and senior author of the study, said in a press release. … “Although we found no significant effect on adolescent marijuana use, existing evidence suggests that adult recreational use may increase after medical marijuana laws are passed,” Hasin said.

Herbal Supplement Has Some New Yorkers Talking, Instead of Coughing

Wall Street Journal

Taking herbal supplements can involve health risks, including when they are used with medicines, consumed in excess or taken instead of prescription medication, said Dr. Keith Brenner, a specialist in pulmonary medicine at Columbia University Medical Center at the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.

Megyn Kelly Takes a Stress Test To Measure Her Heart Health


That suggests there’s an underlying bias in the medical system — and society at large — that women need to confront and overcome, said Dr. Jennifer Haythe, an assistant professor of medicine and co-director of the Women’s Center for Cardiovascular Health at the Columbia University Medical Center.

Some Songbirds Have Brains Specially Designed to Find Mates for Life

New York Times

“The biggest difference between male and female brains of the same species is found in songbirds,” said Sarah Woolley, a neuroscientist who studies finches at Columbia University’s Zuckerman Institute. Dr. Woolley’s lab has been looking into the acoustic systems of zebra, bengalese and long-tailed finches to see how their brains take in and process sounds — learning, performing and analyzing different parts of them to make sense of songs.

How ultraviolet light could be used to fight the flu

CBS News

Dr. David Brenner, the director of the Center for Radiological Research at Columbia University, and a team are testing whether a certain type of ultraviolet light can kill the flu virus in the air. UV light is already used as a germ killer, but conventional UV light can penetrate and damage the skin and also cause cataracts. A certain type of UV light called far-UVC, however, can’t get past the top layer of the skin or the tear layer of the eyes. “It really does have the best of both worlds,” Brenner said. “It really does kill influenza viruses and it really doesn’t harm you and I.”

A Perfect Storm for Broken Bones

New York Times

A number of factors may have contributed to the downward trend in hip fractures that ended in 2012, according to Dr. Ethel Siris, a co-author of the new study and director of the Toni Stabile Osteoporosis Center of the Columbia University Medical Center in New York. “The population may be getting healthier, people are doing more exercise and may be more careful about falling,” she suggested in an interview. But most likely a leading factor, she and her co-authors believe, was the introduction in 1995 of the drug Fosamax, a bisphosphonate that slows or prevents the loss of bone density, resulting in stronger bones.

Imaging system helps determine chemo efficacy against breast cancer


“Patients who respond to neoadjuvant chemotherapy have better outcomes than those who do not, so determining early in treatment who is going to be more likely to have a complete response is important,” said Dr. Dawn Hershman, leader of the Breast Cancer Program at the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia. “If we know early that a patient is not going to respond to the treatment they are getting, it may be possible to change treatment and avoid side effects.”

UV light can kill airborne flu virus, study finds

United Press International

“Far-UVC light has a very limited range and cannot penetrate through the outer dead-cell layer of human skin or the tear layer in the eye, so it’s not a human health hazard,” [David] Brenner said. “But because viruses and bacteria are much smaller than human cells, far-UVC light can reach their DNA and kill them.”

Medical student Caroline Park will trade her stethoscope for hockey skates in Pyeongchang


Park’s life intensified as well. In 2015 she was accepted to Columbia medical school, where she would work toward her goal of becoming an orthopedic surgeon. “It’s one of the biggest challenges I’ve had to face,” says Park. “You’re trying to focus 100 percent on doing well in med school and taking care of patients, then in the back of my head I’m thinking, ‘OK, I get out of the hospital at 8 o’clock, I need to eat dinner then go to the gym and train for an hour or two, then go back and study for my exam and prepare for the next day of hospital duties. Or sometimes it’s, ‘OK, I do this then I have to go to Korea for the weekend.'”

Could a Vaccine Protect Football Players From Concussions?


“That period of continuing play, when a player has just been hit in the head and shaken up, is thought to be when they’re at highest risk for a much more dangerous injury,” says James Noble, a neurologist at Columbia’s Irving Medical Center who’s spinning out a company called NoMo to further miniaturize the components and send the helmet toward FDA approval as a formal diagnostic.

Researchers Discover ‘Anxiety Cells’ In The Brain


Kheirbek and a team including several researchers from Columbia University discovered the cells in the hippocampus, an area of the brain known to be involved in anxiety as well as navigation and memory. They did it by studying some anxious mice, Kheirbek says. “Mice tend to be afraid of open places,” he says. So the team put mice in a maze in which some pathways led to open areas. Then the researchers monitored the activity of brain cells at the very bottom of the hippocampus.

The Famine Ended 70 Years Ago, but Dutch Genes Still Bear Scars

New York Times

By the time they reached old age, those risks had taken a measurable toll, according to the research of L.H. Lumey, an epidemiologist at Columbia University. In 2013, he and his colleagues reviewed death records of hundreds of thousands of Dutch people born in the mid-1940s. They found that the people who had been in utero during the famine — known as the Dutch Winter Hunger cohort — died at a higher rate than people born before or afterward. “We found a 10 percent increase in mortality after 68 years,” said Dr. Lumey.

This flu season is the most severe since 2009


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have declared this year’s flu outbreak to be the worst on record since the 2009 flu pandemic. Last week, one in 15 doctors’ appointments were made for flu symptoms, and 37 children have died from the flu this season. Stephen Ferrara, an associate professor at the Columbia University School of Nursing, joins Hari Sreenivasan to discuss.

Can Virus Hunters Stop The Next Pandemic Before it Happens?


Yet while local labs are increasingly analyzing samples creating better surveillance on the ground, much of PREDICT’s work uncovering new viruses and creating a global database has been completed in Simon Anthony’s laboratory at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.  Anthony’s team examines and sequences more than 5,000 samples of blood and tissue annually. Many are from animals in the world’s disease hot spots, places where humans and animals carrying viruses often come into dangerously close contact. At one point, he was credited with discovering 150 viruses; Stephen S. Morse, a former co-director of PREDICT and a professor of epidemiology at Columbia University, says Anthony has uncovered more new viruses than anyone.


Most states don’t require that kids be checked for health issues


“There are many children, especially in low income communities, that are not succeeding academically because they have health conditions that are known to interfere with learning, but nobody is screening for them or treating them,” Dr. Irwin Redlener, Co-Founder of Children’s Health Fund and Professor of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, told Reuters Health in a telephone interview. “That is something that has to be fixed.”

High-Fat Diet May Fuel Spread of Prostate Cancer

New York Times

“What this paper suggests is that fat or high-fat diets promote more aggressive prostate cancer,” said Cory Abate-Shen, interim director of the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center at Columbia University, who was not involved with the research. Now the scientists are planning a clinical trial in men with prostate cancer to see if the obesity drug may be an effective treatment for this cancer. “That’s really important,” Dr. Abate-Shen said. “Aggressive prostate cancer is lethal, and there are no curative drugs right now.”