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Evidence of xylitol’s cavity-preventing benefits lacking


Dr. Burton Edelstein, chair of the Section of Population Oral Health at Columbia University College of Dental Medicine in New York City, agreed that more research is needed on xylitol’s potential to prevent cavities. He cautioned that lack of evidence is not evidence against xylitol, however. For example, Edelstein and colleagues estimate in a new report published in the Journal of the American Dental Association that money might be saved by giving mothers xylitol products because they cut the transmission of bacteria that cause tooth decay from mother to child.


Nutritionists warn diners to be wary of Buffett’s ‘junk-food’ portfolio


“His attitude toward this kind of food is a little worrisome,” said David Seres, MD, director of medical nutrition at the Columbia University Medical Center in New York, adding that he thinks such investments send the worst kind of message to America. “He is not what I would call an ideal role model in eating and his attitude toward nutrition in general.”

Statins can be stopped toward the end of life


While it’s typically difficult to draw conclusions when looking for deaths among a group of people, Dr. Andrew E. Moran from Columbia University Medical Center said it’s appropriate for this trial. “Because the survival is so poor in these very ill people, it’s not unreasonable to recruit a fairly small sample size because the probability of adverse events and death is very high in these patients,” said Moran, who was not involved with the new study.


Wheat tries to get in on the gluten-free food craze

CBS News

Though celiac disease is four to five times more common now than 50 years ago, only about 1 percent of the world’s population is believed to suffer from it, and just a fraction of those have been diagnosed. Dr. Peter Green, director of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University Medical Center, says more than 80 percent of people with celiac disease don’t realize they have it.

Edwards’s Newer, Smaller Heart Valve Lowered Death Risk in Study


“When you look at the key outcomes of death and stroke, there’s been a significant reduction in both those outcomes with this generation of the device,” said [Susheel] Kodali, director of the Heart Valve Center at New York Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center in New York. “This is the device people are waiting for.”

Invest in American Science


Abdul El-Sayed, a physician and epidemiologist, and assistant professor of epidemiology at Columbia University, is a Soros fellow. 15 other Soros fellows signed the op-ed.

What Autopsies Can Teach

Wall Street Journal

“Autopsies in general are on the downswing, but brain autopsy is increasing. People are scared and want to do something,” says Arlene Lawton, a registered nurse who runs the brain donation program at Columbia University Medical Center in New York. She says families often call about donating when a loved one is in the terminal stages, which is too late. Patients must be able to undergo memory and neurological tests while still living, she says, so researchers can correlate their symptoms with brain changes after death.

Teaching doctors how to engage more and lecture less

Washington Post

While empathy courses are rarely required in medical training, interest in them is growing, experts say, and programs are underway at Jefferson Medical College and at Columbia University School of Medicine. Columbia has pioneered a program in narrative medicine, which emphasizes the importance of understanding patients’ life stories in providing compassionate care.

Untreated Dental Decay Is Falling Among Children

New York Times

Teeth are dynamic. If they demineralize at a quicker rate than they remineralize, you get a cavity, said Dr. Burton Edelstein, a professor of dentistry and health policy at Columbia University. Conversely, it is possible to remineralize a decaying tooth by arresting the disease process, he said.

Study on Chronic Fatigue May Help With Diagnoses

New York Times

“There are biological markers that can be detected in the blood soon after the onset of the disease, and this has very important diagnostic implications,” said Dr. Mady Hornig, an associate professor of epidemiology at Columbia University and lead author of the new study.

How a virus mutates

Washington Post

When viruses mutate, scientists try to stay one step ahead. Columbia University virologist Vincent Racaniello explains the different ways that viruses like Enterovirus D68 can change.

Three Biotech Solutions for Knee Repair


If you look very carefully at the C-curved squiggle taking shape on a 3-D printer at Columbia University Medical Center, you just might spot the future of knee repair. Layer by layer, the machine’s tiny needle squirts out a bead of white polymer, matching a virtual blueprint of a meniscus—the semicircular band of tough, fibrous cartilage that serves as the knee’s shock absorber. A bioprinter in the laboratory of Jeremy Mao can churn out three menisci in just under 16 minutes.

When Grief Won’t Relent

New York Times

“People with complicated grief often feel shocked, stunned or emotionally numb, and they may become estranged from others because of the belief that happiness is inextricably tied to the person who died,” wrote Dr. [Katherine] Shear, of the Columbia University School of Social Work and College of Physicians and Surgeons.

The Trip Treatment

The New Yorker

Herbert D. Kleber, a psychiatrist and the director of the substance-abuse division at the Columbia University–N.Y. State Psychiatric Institute, who is one of the nation’s leading experts on drug abuse, struck a cautionary note. “The whole area of research is fascinating,” he said. “But it’s important to remember that the sample sizes are small.”

Brains Make Decisions the Way Alan Turing Cracked Codes

Now researchers studying rhesus monkeys have found that the brain also uses this mathematical tool, not for decoding messages, but for piecing together unreliable evidence to make simple decisions. For Columbia University neuroscientist Michael Shadlen and his team, the finding supports a larger idea that all the decisions we make—even seemingly irrational ones—can be broken down into rational stastical operations. “We think the brain is fundamentally rational,” says Shadlen.

Patient ratings not linked to cancer surgery outcomes


“I don’t think the results are necessarily surprising, they just highlight that there is very little publicly reported hospital data to help guide cancer patients in decision making,” said lead author Dr. Jason D. Wright of the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York.

The danger of herbal supplements


Dr. David S. Seres is director of medical nutrition and associate professor of medicine in the Institute of Human Nutrition at Columbia University Medical Center. He is a public voice fellow with the Op-Ed Project. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

Make way for three-parent babies


Critics of this procedure point to testing on mice and flies that didn’t turn out well—a possible sign that the technology scrambles important communication between the mitochondrial and the nucleus. However, those results aren’t necessarily that instructive. Both creatures used in the testing are already heavily inbred, according to Columbia University’s Dr. Robert Klitzman and Dr. Mark Sauer, and University of Oxford’s Mark Toynbee, in a recent article.

Leading a Mouse to Drink, or Not

New York Times

Unlike most parts of the brain, the SFO lies outside the blood-brain barrier, meaning it receives significant blood flow. Biologists at Columbia University wondered if that might mean the SFO can determine when hydration is required.

Vaccines and Herd Immunity, An Explainer

WNYC Radio

As the measles outbreak that started in Southern California continues to spread, Stephen Morse, epidemiologist from the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, explains why herd immunity is so necessary to prevent a serious outbreak, what the anti-vaccine movement has to do with it, and takes your questions.

Obama precision medicine plan would create huge U.S. genetic biobank


One matter to be worked out for a megabiobank is which cohorts to include, says human geneticist David Goldstein of Columbia University, a member of the 2011 NRC panel. For example, “you absolutely must have recontactability,” or permission from patients to be called and asked to come into a clinic for further exams and tests.

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.