Posts tagged ‘physician’

The lifecycle of a cancer

Imagine if various types of cancer were caused by a common, though currently unknown, virus. The implications for treatment options and methods of prevention could be enormous. The discovery of infectious agents, such as the human papillomavirus as the root cause of cervical cancer, opens the door to the idea that other viruses might be at work in the genesis of cancer development.

This theory is about to be tested further by Thomas P. Loughran, M.D., and his colleagues at Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute. But Loughran is no stranger to being at the forefront of cancer research.

The LGL discovery

As outlined in this previous Penn State Medicine article, Loughran, who is a professor of medicine at Penn State College of Medicine and director of the Cancer Institute, is responsible for the discovery of large granular lymphocyte (LGL) leukemia while he was an oncology fellow at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Washington. He has spent most of his career researching the development of the disease and establishing a treatment protocol, which has allowed many patients to live healthier and more productive lives. In 2003, he started an LGL leukemia registry to keep track of patient outcomes.

One of the most challenging aspects of LGL leukemia is getting an accurate diagnosis. Patients often present with chronic symptoms, such as joint pain, fevers, and immune system problems that can be misdiagnosed as rheumatoid arthritis (RA) or aplastic anemia.

“The diagnosis is clouded by the fact that the symptoms are not obvious,” Loughran says. “Patients can have morbidity with tiredness, shortness of breath, pain, and swelling of the joints. Ten to 30 percent have classic RA. This is a chronic disease, though, with a major complication being infections.”

>> Hear from Dr. Loughran and a patient whom he treated for LGL leukemia in this edition of Penn State Hershey’s Sound Health podcast. <<

A diagnosis of LGL leukemia is not difficult to come by if medical professionals know what to look for, which is an increased number of LGL cells that can be seen on a blood smear. But because this can easily be overlooked in basic blood tests, it often takes a recurrence of symptoms before an accurate diagnosis of LGL leukemia is reached. (more…)

September 12, 2012 at 3:36 pm 4 comments

Physician lack of sleep: Can cognitive “overload” compromise care in a crisis?

Physician napping after a long shiftFor decades, lack of sleep and fatigue have been an unwelcome but accepted part of physician training and everyday medical practice. Medical students and residents are likely to work a full day and then be on call through the night, typically working a full 24-hour shift and getting very little uninterrupted sleep. Sleep researchers, however, have consistently shown that well-rested physicians commit fewer serious medical and diagnostic errors, compared to physicians working extended shifts (e.g., more than 24 hours). Increasing awareness of the negative impact and risks posed by physician sleep deprivation led the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education in 2003 to place duty hour limits on resident physicians. Although the limits have been in place for nearly eight years, the debate about sleep deprivation, resident training, and hospital costs continues unabated.

A research study conducted by Jonathan Tomasko, M.D., research fellow in the Division of Minimally Invasive and Bariatric Surgery, along with Randy Haluck, M.D., ’91, R ’97, and Eric Pauli, ’04, M.D., Division of Minimally Invasive and Bariatric Surgery, sheds light on the duty limit debate. Tomasko explains, “We wanted to assess how sleep deprivation affects not only how well surgeons perform familiar techniques, but also their ability to learn something new and to deal with a mentally challenging task. It touches on clinical issues like dealing with errors, as well as the educational debate about duty hours.” (more…)

August 14, 2012 at 4:08 pm Leave a comment

Class of 2016 White Coat Ceremony

Students from the Penn State College of Medicine‘s Class of 2016 officially began their medical careers last Friday with a White Coat Ceremony at the Hershey Lodge. During this annual rite of passage that included family and friends, 145 first-year medical students received their white coat from a distinguished faculty member and recited the Oath of Modern Hippocrates – the universally recognized creed for physicians. Students in this class represent twenty-five U.S. states and seven foreign countries.

The College of Medicine initiated its annual White Coat Ceremony in 1996 with funding support from the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, a public foundation fostering humanism in medicine. A White Coat Ceremony or similar rite of passage takes place at more than ninety percent of schools of medicine and osteopathy in the United States.

August 7, 2012 at 2:45 pm Leave a comment

A career filled with teaching, mentoring, and discovery

Jim Jefferson in glass hallway with students in background

Leonard (Jim) Jefferson, Ph.D.

Many of the first faculty members at the newly established Penn State College of Medicine found their way to Hershey through unconventional routes. Leonard (Jim) Jefferson, Ph.D., was no exception.

Following the completion of his doctorate at Vanderbilt University, Jefferson went on to do post-doctorate work at Cambridge University. While there, he had a visit with his former professor from Vanderbilt, Howard E. Morgan, M.D., who came offering Jefferson a position at Penn State. This was in the fall of 1966, a time when Morgan was recruiting rising stars in the medical and research fields for Penn State’s newly established Department of Physiology.

“I took the position sight unseen out of respect and regard for Dr. Morgan, who was a mentor and provided many opportunities for me,” Jefferson recalls. “I was also excited about being able to get in on the ground floor of the pioneering spirit of a new medical school.” (more…)

July 27, 2012 at 9:02 am Leave a comment

Meet Our Physician Families

Among the 143 members of the incoming Penn State College of Medicine class are three students who run the risk of eventually having mom or dad as a professor. That’s because the students have at least one (if not two) Penn State Hershey physicians as parents. Meet the students and their parents:

August 16, 2011 at 3:28 pm Leave a comment

Looking for the right care for patients

Dan McDougal, M.D., ’71, passed away on May 10, from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). The story below was written just before his passing.

When he was a young child, the late Dan McDougal, M.D., ’71, was fascinated by the human body. “I was always very good at maintaining things and the most challenging and rewarding thing to maintain is the human body,” explained McDougal.

His passion for medicine led him to the doors of Penn State College of Medicine. While at Penn State, McDougal remembered a defining moment that stuck with him concerning the practice of medicine. The chief of medicine at the time, Graham Jeffries, M.D., told medical students that most mistakes in medicine are not made by not knowing, but by not looking. From that moment, McDougal made “looking” a priority.

To McDougal, “looking” included the search to find the right care for patients and ways to aid other physicians. With this particular insight into medicine, McDougal accepted the medical director position in 1998 with Antietam Health Services, part of the Washington County Health System. There he was a proponent for both physicians and patients. (more…)

July 1, 2010 at 8:45 pm 1 comment

The finding — and following — of a killer (T-cell)

To really appreciate this story, we have to start at the end—simply put, there are people alive today because of a discovery made by an oncology fellow in the mid 1980s. And not just alive-these people are doing well, living healthy and full lives, sometimes symptom-free, because one doctor, Thomas P. Loughran Jr., M.D., professor of medicine and director, Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute, noticed something that no one else did.

“He’s a super doctor,” says George Graham of Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania, one of Loughran’s patients who was unable to find appropriate treatment for large granular lymphocyte (LGL) leukemia at other facilities.

Loughran came to discovering LGL through what might be considered standard detective work—he reviewed patient labs and blood smears and kept looking. During a rotation at the University of Washington, Loughran saw a patient who was referred to the chief resident with an unknown illness and a history of recurrent fevers and infections. Upon reviewing the patient’s blood smear, Loughran was the first to notice that the patient’s white cells were granular lymphocytes that were larger than they should be. After reviewing the previous five years of  records of the hematopathology laboratory directed by Marshall Kadin, M.D., he realized that other patients with similar histories also had the unusual white cell appearance. Loughran and Kadin went on to publish their discovery and subsequent research in the Annals of Internal Medicine. (more…)

July 1, 2010 at 8:00 pm 30 comments


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