Posts tagged ‘research’

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

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

Understanding addiction: Using Animal Models to Answer the “Why, How, and Who”

Addictive behavior graphic renderingOver the past decade, use of certain illicit drugs, including crack cocaine and methamphetamine, has shown sharp declines in the United States based on data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). But these encouraging data contradict other disturbing facts. Compared to 2002, use of marijuana and prescription pain relievers has jumped by approximately 20 percent and heroin use has shown an alarming 44 percent increase.

“Drug addiction persists as a major problem in the United States,” said Patricia Sue Grigson, Ph.D., professor, Department of Neural and Behavioral Sciences. “Drug use data does not reflect the devastating, long-term impact that drug addiction has on individuals and their families. This is why it is so important to continue to search for answers about why some people become addicted and others do not. Understanding and identifying risk factors for the development of addiction will lead to more effective prevention and treatment plans.”

Grigson uses an animal model to study the environmental, behavioral, and neurological underpinnings of addiction. “Humans and the rats in our studies have more in common than not,” she said. “For instance, about 17 percent of humans who try cocaine eventually become addicted; studies have shown the same percentage of rats that try cocaine also show addiction-like behavior.” (more…)

August 9, 2012 at 10:45 am Leave a comment

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