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Drs. Penson, McKiernan appointed department chairs

Urology Times
The month of September has seen two notable appointments in academic urology, with David F. Penson, MD, MPH, and James McKiernan, MD, both named to department chair positions. …

Separately, Dr. McKiernan, the George F. Cahill professor of urology at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, New York, has been named chair of urology and urologist-in-chief at that institution. As department chair, he will be nominated to become the John K. Lattimer Professor of Urology, according to a Columbia press release.

Plastic Chemicals During Pregnancy Linked to 70% Increased Asthma Risk


A research team from Columbia University followed a group of 300 moms and children in New York’s inner city for several years. Researchers compared the urine tests of the mothers’ during pregnancy—testing for concentrations of phthalates—to whether their children had asthma at ages 5-11.

U.S. Scientists See Long Fight Against Ebola

New York Times

Another Midas participant, Jeffrey L. Shaman, an associate professor of environmental health sciences at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, agreed. “Ebola has a simple trajectory because it’s growing exponentially,” Dr. Shaman said.

1 in 5 men denied Plan B by NYC pharmacists: study

New York Daily News

A “mystery shopper” experiment set up by Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and Columbia University Medical Center showed that 20% of men weren’t able to buy emergency contraception after explaining to a pharmacist that the condom they used broke. And almost three-quarters of pharmacies studied made it difficult for men to get the pills, which block ovulation. The study was published in the October issue of the journal Contraception.

Obesity epidemic: Lose now, save later

Boston Globe

What can we do? In June of 2013, the American Medical Association finally recognized obesity as a disease affecting more than one-third of U.S. adults. This is still not reaching enough people though. Only 25 percent of doctors are comfortable even discussing nutrition with their patients, and almost 30 percent say that no one in their practice is trained to deal with weight-related issues.

Dr. Michael Rosenbaum is a professor of pediatrics and medicine at Columbia University Medical Center.

Dr. Max Gomez: Kids And Celiac Disease

CBS New York

CBS 2′s Dr. Max Gomez says a gene discovery could bring researchers a step closer to diagnosing kids born at risk for celiac disease.

Not Every Conflict of Interest Produces the Same Vote on FDA Panels


Nonetheless, in an accompanying editorial, David Rothman, who directs the Center for the Study of Society and Medicine at the Columbia University Medical Center, writes that “caution is still in order, since the FDA insists that its need for expertise may outweigh the risk of conflicts of interest, thereby ignoring the option of allowing experts to testify, but not to vote.”

Can dogs be trained to detect the smell of cancer?


GARY SCHWARTZ: The holy grail of oncology has been to try to develop a test, either in the blood or the urine or some bodily fluid that would allow us to detect cancer at an early stage.

EMILY SENAY: Doctor Gary Schwartz is the head of oncology and hematology at Columbia University Medical Center. He’s impressed by the results from the Italian study- but has some doubts about the 98% detection rate.

GARY SCHWARTZ: I am a little skeptical on the outcome reported in this particular abstract from the Milan group.

E-Cigarettes May Be A “Gateway” Drug For Teenagers, Study Shows


Certain to launch a volley of passionate praise and vitriolic criticism, the study is a groundbreaking collaboration between husband and wife Eric and Denise Kandel that combines epidemiology, psychology, and molecular biology. Pointing to a body of previous epidemiological research demonstrating that nicotine is a gateway for marijuana and cocaine use, the Kandels argue that e-cigarettes, by introducing nonsmoking kids to nicotine, extend that gateway. To back up the accusation, they marshal biological data on the effects of nicotine in the brains of mice, and psychological studies into the processes of addiction.

E-cigarettes could be gateway to hard drugs, study finds

New York Daily News

Nicotine — whether it comes from a traditional or electronic cigarette — could be a gateway drug to marijuana and cocaine, according to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine. “While e-cigarettes do eliminate some of the health effects associated with combustible tobacco, they are pure nicotine-delivery devices,” said co-author Dr. Denise B. Kandel, a professor of sociomedical sciences at Columbia University Medical Center and a research scientist at the New York State Psychiatric Institute.

E-Cigarettes Are Gateway to Substance Abuse and Addiction


The wife-husband research team Denise Kandel and Eric Kandel has been studying nicotine for years, and in their earlier work they found that nicotine dramatically enhanced the effects of cocaine by activating a reward-related gene and shutting off inhibition. When mice had nicotine before cocaine, they behaved differently too — they ran around more and spent more time in the space where they were fed, likely driven by a need to satisfy their craving for the drug. Denise’s epidemiological data shows that similar effects might be occurring in people…

How did the West Africa Ebola epidemic get out of control so fast?


The spread of the most recent strain of the Ebola virus across parts of West Africa has highlighted not just the lethality of the disease but also the strains on the existing medical infrastructures there. For further insight, Stephen Morse, professor of epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University and Estrella Lasry, a tropical medical advisor at Doctors Without Borders, join Hari Sreenivasan.

Research making ALS less of a mystery

CBS News

Skin cells from an ALS patient are reprogrammed to become stem cells, then morphed into neurons in the lab. These neurons exhibit the same abnormalities as those in the ALS patient. This has sped up the pace of discovery for neuroscientists like Thomas Jessell at Columbia University Medical Center. “It permits you to screen compounds – drugs, medicines – and if they work in that tissue culture dish condition you can then go back and test them in the human,” Jessell said.

Retired Staten Island cop cancer-free after clinical trial at NYP

NY Daily News

It was early November of last year, and Ranieri, 62, had been in the hospital for over a month. The retired transit cop from Staten Island couldn’t walk, let alone sit up. He had trouble speaking and hearing. His energy was zapped. His daughter worked to get him transferred to NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center. There, he was put under the care of neuro-oncologist Dr. Yazmin Odia.

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.”