Posts tagged ‘research’

Dr. Neal Thomas looks to expand Penn State Hershey’s clinical research in associate dean role

Dr. Neal Thomas

Dr. Neal Thomas

Dr. Neal Thomas has made research his life’s work.

The newly named associate dean for clinical research hopes to help Penn State Hershey’s clinical research mission grow. One reason he is vested in seeing the expansion of clinical research is because he was personally affected by it — twice.

“In 2002, my youngest son was born premature and was given a medicine called surfactant into his lungs to combat lung disease that can happen from prematurity,” Thomas, a professor of pediatrics and public health sciences, said.

Being a researcher involved with surfactant use in older children, and also studying the surfactant genes and their impact on young children with lung disease, he was aware of the early clinical trial literature treating premature lungs. The fact that his son benefited from that early work would strengthen Thomas’s research interest in surfactant for years to come.

“It probably saved his life, but it certainly affected his lungs so that he is completely healthy now,” Thomas said.  ”That wouldn’t have happened if scientists and physicians hadn’t conducted the clinical research to get to that point.”

He personally benefited from clinical research last year after having a heart attack.

(more…)

June 15, 2015 at 10:06 am Leave a comment

Advances in women’s health highlight of research day at Penn State Hershey

In 1977 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned women “of child-bearing potential” from participating in clinical trials. This was in part due to thousands of children worldwide being born with missing and malformed limbs after their mothers had taken thalidomide — often prescribed in the 1950s for nausea and as a sleep aid.

A decade and a half later, in 1993, the FDA lifted this ban after Congress passed the National Institutes of Health Revitalization Act. However, as Alina Salganicoff noted in her keynote address at Penn State’s 2015 Women’s Health Research Day on April 28, women are still poorly represented in research and clinical trials.

Women’s Health Research Day was held at the Penn State College of Medicine campus for the second year in a row and researchers from both the Hershey and University Park campuses attended. Due to the number of applications this year, two more research presentation slots and 11 more poster presentations were added.

Poster presentations featured the work of faculty members, residents, graduate students and medical students. The researchers’ fields of expertise ranged from obstetrics and gynecology to kinesiology to public health sciences, and seemingly everywhere in between, covering a vast array of women’s health topics.

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June 2, 2015 at 8:16 am Leave a comment

Penn State Hershey offers science outreach program to local high school students and faculty

Classroom setting for SEPA-CREST: Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) - Collaborative Research Experiences for Students and Teachers (CREST)

Michael Chorney, Ph.D. and Gail Matters, Ph.D., both of Penn State Hershey, lead a lecture on immunology to Susquehanna Township students.

As part of an initiative to educate students in the surrounding areas about research related to health, faculty members from Penn State College of Medicine, in conjunction with colleagues from Penn State Harrisburg, Juniata College, and the Raystown Field Station offered 16 sophomores from Susquehanna Township High School and five of their teachers a week-long, summer opportunity to take a closer look at environmental and medical research techniques, and the interchange between the two areas of science. The formal title of the program is SEPA-CREST, so named for the Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) that funded it and the opportunity it provided for Collaborative Research Experiences for Students and Teachers (CREST). It serves not only as a vehicle for students and teachers to gain more intensive experience in science, but also as a research opportunity for college faculty to gauge their ability to improve science literacy with these groups.

Participants travelled to the Raystown Field Station, an environmental center in Huntingdon, PA operated by Juniata College for a multidisciplinary study of the interactions between humans and the environment.

“The great thing about a week-long experience like this is that we’ve been able to address a wide range of topics and techniques,” said Sarah Bronson, Ph.D., associate professor of cellular and molecular physiology, Penn State College of Medicine. “Each of the students are drawn to different areas in science, so this approach raises the likelihood that we’ll score a hit with one of the 16 kids and they think, ‘I want to know more about that’ or ‘I’d like to do that when I grow up.’” (more…)

November 1, 2012 at 2:58 pm Leave a comment

Paz reports on highlights of Medical Center’s fiscal year

Highlights from across all four parts of Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center’s mission were at the center of this week’s annual public board of directors meeting. Dr. Harold L. Paz, CEO of Penn State Hershey Medical Center and Health System, Penn State’s senior vice president for health affairs, and dean, Penn State College of Medicine, addressed faculty, staff and community members. Paz discussed how new and expanded collaborations, growth in its clinical and research missions, and the presence of the first group of medical students in State College were all part of a successful 2011-12 fiscal year.

Read more about Dr. Paz’s presentation in this article >>

The presentation also included the following videos, each highlighting a key story from the past year:

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September 14, 2012 at 8:12 am Leave a comment

Today’s Research – Earlier tracheostomies improve outcomes

Researchers at Penn State College of Medicine are actively working in Hershey, with colleagues at Penn State, University Park and other Penn State campuses, and with colleagues at various institutions across the country to conduct groundbreaking research. Their discoveries continue to contribute to the advancement of health care on all levels.

A tracheotomy performed within the first seven days after a severe head injury results in better overall patient outcomes, according to a team of College of Medicine researchers. This is especially true for patients who have a greater chance of surviving when admitted to the hospital. A tracheostomy is an opening created in the front of the neck directly into the trachea to allow unimpeded breathing (a tracheotomy is the act of making that opening).

“The CDC estimates that more than 200,000 individuals are hospitalized annually for traumatic brain injury,” said Kevin M. Cockroft, M.D., ’02, associate professor of neurosurgery at the College of Medicine. “Severely head-injured patients, particularly those with additional injuries, often require tracheostomy at some point during their hospital stay.”

Previous studies have shown mixed results. “Traditionally, tracheostomy, or ‘trach,’ has been recommended to prevent airway complications,” Cockroft said. “Early trach has been advocated as a means to improve outcome, with various studies suggesting that it may decrease the incidence of pneumonia, reduce intensive care unit days, and shorten overall length of stay. Some evidence also exists to suggest that early trach does not improve outcomes. As a result, the timing of trach in these critically ill patients remains controversial.” These results indicate a complex relationship between tracheotomy timing and outcome but suggest that a strategy of early tracheotomy, particularly when performed on patients with a reasonable chance of survival, results in a better overall clinical outcome than when the tracheotomy is performed in a delayed manner. Researchers reported their results in the journal Neurocritical Care.

The project was funded by the Departments of Neurosurgery and Public Health Sciences, at the college.

Read more about tracheostomy research >>

August 24, 2012 at 11:00 am Leave a comment

Today’s Research – Researchers study effects of manganese on brain

Researchers at Penn State College of Medicine are actively working in Hershey, with colleagues at Penn State, University Park and other Penn State campuses, and with colleagues at various institutions across the country to conduct groundbreaking research. Their discoveries continue to contribute to the advancement of health care on all levels.

College of Medicine scientists are researching the effects of the metal manganese on brain functions. This research builds on the results of an earlier, smaller-scale study that looked at welders. Research has indicated that environmental factors, including metals toxic to the neurological system, may play a role in the cause of neurobehavioral disorders. In a preliminary study, Xuemei Huang, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues looked at a small group of welders and found an association between exposure to manganese-containing metal fumes and decreased motor performance on a test for dexterity/fine motor control in the welders.

The team’s prior study suggests that there is manganese accumulation in many other regions of the brain in welders who are showing no classic symptoms of overexposure, specifically in a part of the brain associated with smell. This suggests that at least some of the manganese is getting into the brain through inhalation. They also showed manganese in the areas of the brain associated with motor control, which correlates to the decreased motor control observed.

The initial study was supported by National Institute of Environmental Sciences, with additional support from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and the Penn State General Clinical Research Center (now the Penn State Clinical and Translational Science Institute), and results were published in the scientific journal Toxicological Sciences. The current study has received funding from the National Institute of Environmental Sciences.

More about this research >>

August 20, 2012 at 9:30 am Leave a comment

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

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