Posts tagged ‘Penn State’

French, bad breath, and the Kardashians: One medical student’s reflections

If laughter really is the best medicine, Bailey Sanders is going to make a great doctor. Sanders was chosen by her peers in Penn State College of Medicine’s Class of 2014 to give this year’s student commencement address. The future doctor kept the crowd in stitches, threading together humorous examples to illustrate three components to building a life and career free of regrets.

Sanders posited that passion is one key ingredient, and for an example looked to a scientist who drank the contents of his own petri dish and “documented his subsequent suffering with regular biopsies and his mother’s opinion of how his breath smelled.” The unconventional experiment resulted in a Nobel Prize.

To hear Sanders’ full commencement speech, watch this video:

June 18, 2014 at 8:13 am 2 comments

Kidney recipient gives thanks for anonymous donor and the gift of a second chance

On July 23, Melissa Masse celebrated her 34th birthday in the operating room of Penn State Hershey, watching Dr. Riaz Shah hold up a kidney while the medical team sang “Happy Birthday.”

Earlier that morning, doctors had harvested a kidney from her husband, Chris, and sent it to a major metropolitan area where it would be given to someone as unknown to the Masses as the donor whose organ became a birthday present for Melissa.

Melissa and Chris Masse holding flowers between them where their scars forever bind them as recipient and donor.

Melissa and Chris Masse hold flowers between them to mark the scars that forever bind them as recipient and donor in a chain that gave Melissa and three others a second chance at life with a healthy kidney.

The surgeries were just two links in a complex transplant chain that allowed four people to receive healthy kidneys despite not having compatible live donors. Known as a “kidney swap,” Penn State Hershey offers the program as an alternative to dialysis and years of waiting for a deceased donor organ.

Melissa had been diagnosed with diabetes at age 11, but it wasn’t until stomach trouble and vomiting sent her to an emergency department in August 2012 and doctors noted her poor kidney function that she was sent to a specialist. By the end of the year, the South Williamsport woman was added to the list of people waiting for a healthy kidney.

Because the average person waits more than six years for a kidney, and because the mortality rate for those on dialysis is 50 percent after five years, Melissa’s husband offered to be a live donor. Unfortunately, he wasn’t a match. Nor was her boss. Or her best friend.

“I was devastated,” Chris said. He knew his wife was hoping for a live donor so there would be less chance her body would reject the new kidney. So he told transplant coordinator Vicky Reilly that he would donate his kidney to someone he had never met so that his wife could receive a healthy kidney from someone she had never met. (more…)

November 26, 2013 at 8:54 am 1 comment

Profile: College of Medicine graduate overcomes barriers

Elom Amoussou-Kpeto

Elom Amoussou-Kpeto

Growing up in Togo, West Africa, Elom Amoussou-Kpeto was acutely aware of the barriers that kept people from accessing quality health care. Not only was there a lack of highly skilled providers, but transportation was a challenge.

He spent a lot of time with his grandfather, a nurse, who cared for the whole community “doing almost what a doctor would do,” he said.

Amoussou-Kpeto realized that by becoming a doctor, he could give so much back to the community: “That is my ultimate objective.”

So, upon graduating high school with good grades, he applied to Camden Community College near Philadelphia, where an uncle lived. Once accepted, he began the process of obtaining a Visa to come study in the United States, where he felt like he would get a better education.

After two years studying biology there, he transferred to Temple University to finish a degree in biochemistry. It was a rocky road though.

Language was a huge barrier. Amoussou-Kpeto grew up speaking Ewe and French. In school, he learned to read and write some English, but had difficulty expressing himself in the new language. “I felt like time was constantly working against me–especially with standardized tests,” he said. “I felt like I was fighting a combat on two fronts–between who I am and who I want to be.” (more…)

May 15, 2013 at 2:45 pm Leave a comment

The story of Sir Millard lives on through The Four Diamonds Fund and THON

You may know the legend of King Arthur, but chances are you do not know the story of Sir Millard, the evils he faced or the battles he won, even though every year, the new-age knights he has inspired take up his quest to battle pediatric cancer.

Every year, those champions, in the form of 15,000 Penn State student volunteers, fight their battle via year-long fundraising that culminates in THON weekend at Penn State’s Bryce Jordan Center in State College, Pennsylvania. This weekend marks the forty-first annual THON dance marathon.

Sir Millard, a.k.a. Christopher Millard, penned his story called “The Four Diamonds” before he died of cancer at the age of 14 in 1972. He had no way of knowing the legacy he would leave behind.

The day he died at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, his parents, Charles and Irma Millard, started the Four Diamonds Fund to raise money to assist pediatric cancer patients and their families with expenses outside those insurance will cover while their children are undergoing treatment.

Photo of the floor of the Bryce Jordan Center at Penn State during a THON weekend packed with dancers and supporters.

THON fills the Bryce Jordan Center at Penn State for 46 hours of dancing, music and emotional excitement one weekend each year.

THON weekend is a celebration of the efforts of the volunteers–joined by their fellow students, Four Diamonds Families, and their many supporters–who dedicate their time to raising money and increasing awareness for pediatric cancer.

It is the largest student-run philanthropy in the world, raising $89 million to date, more than $10 million last year alone. Participants hope to surpass $100 million with this year’s total, which exclusively benefits the Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital. (more…)

February 14, 2013 at 12:12 pm Leave a comment

The magic of the Child Life Program

When you walk into a room filled with smiles, laughter, toys, games, and an over-all atmosphere of fun, it’s easy to forget you’re in a hospital.

That is exactly the goal of the Child Life Program at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital. Child Life offers patients support through its programming, including a fall visit from Olympic gold medalist Jamie Gray. Originally from nearby Lebanon, Pa., Gray was inspired to visit Hershey by the young patients she met at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Baton Rouge, La.

Much to the delight of the Hershey children and their families, Gray recently participated in their weekly BINGO game, spending time with families and answering questions about the Olympics. Sharing her gold medal in 50-meter rifle three position, she didn’t even mind when one little friend got chocolate from his hands on it.

Gray was touched by the children’s resiliency, especially after watching her mother, Karen Beyerle, battle and defeat breast cancer.

“I think it’s amazing to see how happy they are going through so much adversity,” she said. “I think they’re inspiring, honestly.”

Izaiah Robinson with Jamie Gray and the Nittany Lion

Izaiah Robinson with Jamie Gray and the Nittany Lion

It isn’t hard to see the difference Child Life makes with while watching 8 year-old Izaiah Robinson from Boalsburg, Pa., nearly running to the prize table, with a huge smile across his face. (more…)

February 13, 2013 at 9:00 am Leave a comment

Medical center reaches milestone in fundraising campaign

The Medical Center surpassed the $200 million mark in its current $300 million fundraising initiative, For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Hershey Medical Center. Launched in January 2007 as part of a university-wide $2 billion fundraising effort, the Medical Center and College of Medicine campaign provides support for advancing patient care, ensuring that the best and brightest students can afford a world-class medical education, recruiting and retaining outstanding faculty, and funding novel research that leads to breakthroughs in diagnosis and treatment.

The campaign, which runs through June 30, 2014, has garnered landmark gifts to expand and improve facilities, including contributions for the Cancer Institute and the new, freestanding Children’s Hospital building, scheduled to open in the fall. Even as the economy faltered in recent years, the community continued to generously support the Medical Center and College of Medicine’s missions of patient care, education, research, and community service. Since 2007, more than 200,000 donors have made gifts to the campaign.

The campaign has generated tremendous support from a wide range of philanthropic partners. Gifts from corporations and foundations total nearly $30 million, and 17 donors have made individual contributions exceeding $1 million to various campaign priorities. Collectively, Medical Center and College faculty and staff have given $3 million during the campaign, underscoring a deep commitment to the institution’s missions.

“Reaching this tremendous milestone with just a little more than two years remaining in the campaign reflects the incredible generosity of our community members and exemplifies the dedication of our employees and volunteers,” said Dennis P. Brenckle, chair, For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Hershey Medical Center. “Each gift to the campaign affirms the vital role the Medical Center and College of Medicine play in improving public health.”

August 15, 2012 at 9:15 am Leave a comment

Technology Transfer – Bringing Scientific Discoveries To Market

Graphic depicting medical research technology becoming a viable businessEvery day, researchers at Penn State College of Medicine work to discover new ways to improve human health and well-being. Through technology transfer—the process of commercializing those discoveries—people across the country and the world gain access to innovative drugs, medical devices, and therapeutics.

“Physician-scientists often gain their insights and inspiration from the patients they see,” says Daniel Notterman, M.D., vice dean for research and graduate studies at the College of Medicine, professor of pediatrics, biochemistry, and molecular biology, and associate vice president for health sciences research, Penn State. “There are often several motivations, and large among those is a desire to improve the care of people who have the condition that they’re studying.”

Technology transfer is a significant part of the research process because it brings patented ideas into the marketplace.

“If we were only able to conduct and present research in the form of scientific papers or presentations at conferences, that wouldn’t result in a product [because] the information becomes public,” says Keith Marmer, D.P.T., M.B.A., associate dean for research innovation and director of the Office of Technology Development. “Drug companies are typically not going to want to invest in excess of $1 billion to try to bring a drug to market if it is based on publicly available information as there is no competitive advantage to do so.”

In practice, it requires several players to make the commercialization of a scientific discovery successful. Each stakeholder, such as academics, venture capital investors, and economic development groups, helps make up a so-called “entrepreneurial ecosystem” in a particular geographic area. “[The ecosystem] also includes professional service organizations, such as the accounting firms and law firms that help support the entrepreneurial activity in the region,” Marmer says.

With more than $100 million in research taking place at the college every year, the institution’s vision is to serve as a leader and a catalyst for biomedical innovations in central Pennsylvania. “We want to be able to drive that research out into that entrepreneurial ecosystem but be fully engaged with all the ecosystem partners,” he says. “We also aim to be recognized as a leader nationally and globally.” (more…)

August 13, 2012 at 10:30 am 2 comments

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