Over 45 years of research addresses the science of ‘wasting away’

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Dr. Leonard “Jim” Jefferson in the forefront with Dr. Scot Kimball.

By Heidi Lynn Russell

What happens in the research laboratories at Penn State College of Medicine doesn’t stay in the laboratories.

It reaches to outer space, as adventurers blast off in rockets. It affects American war fighters in oven-like desert heat. It touches cancer patients and aging Baby Boomers too weak to rise from their beds. And it even affects the average “gym rat” in the weight room.

In short, anyone who cares about loss of muscle mass has benefited from the painstaking work of Dr. Leonard “Jim” Jefferson and Dr. Scot Kimball. The research of these scientists has delved into the mysteries of skeletal muscle for over 45 years. Recently, the National Institutes of Health renewed a grant of $392,000 to continue their work – one of the longest continuously funded such grants in the country. (more…)

June 21, 2017 at 1:19 pm Leave a comment

The case for innovation in healthcare through data

When Dr. Marco D. Huesch joined the faculty of Penn State College of Medicine’s Department of Radiology last July, he brought with him a passion for transforming data into innovations. Having spent a decade in the data-driven business of management consulting after leaving clinical practice, he knew first-hand the power of analytics to improve performance.

As head of CORVA, the newly established Center for Optimizing Radiology Value, the vice chair of radiology research leads a small team of data scientists tasked with streamlining operations and improving patient care within the department and throughout Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. (more…)

June 13, 2017 at 9:13 am Leave a comment

A hospital bed won’t keep these local high school grads from their diplomas

By Jennifer Vogelsong

Kyle Vosburg didn’t expect he would spend the last three weeks of high school at Penn State Children’s Hospital. But the 18-year-old Mercersburg resident was diagnosed with leukemia in February and came down with a nasty cold after his third round of chemotherapy. Friends and family had hoped Kyle would be well enough to go home in time for this weekend’s graduation ceremonies on the football field at James Buchanan High School.

Instead, staff at Penn State Health helped bring graduation to him.

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At noon Friday (June 2), the familiar bars of “Pomp and Circumstance” played from a cell phone as a procession walked through the door of his hospital room. Kyle sat in his green cap and gown, smiled, and accepted his diploma from his high school social worker.

Then came toasts and cake, the balloons and gifts – all the trappings of graduation, pulled together in record time by members of the Department of Patient and Guest Experience and their connections across campus.

“Patients are individuals, not just cases to move along,” said Peggy Creany, administrative director of Patient and Guest Experience. “This is something personal we can do to help while they are here.”

(more…)

June 2, 2017 at 5:55 pm 2 comments

Dr. Nancy Olsen works to advance understanding of lupus

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Dr. Nancy Olsen in her lab with clinical trial nurse Jamie Carter.

By Ashley Davidson

Over the last decade, a major question has interested Dr. Nancy Olsen: How can we stage an intervention for people who are at risk of developing lupus?

Now thanks to a five-year grant, with funding of $1.4 million the first year, from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, Dr. Olsen and a team of researchers from across the United States are hoping to find out. (more…)

May 31, 2017 at 1:58 pm 1 comment

Graduation begins a new chapter apart from each other for twins

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Mark and Mike Nakhla are members of the College of Medicine Class of 2017.

By Carolyn Kimmel

Mike and Mark Nakhla are used to receiving one invitation, not two, to friend gatherings, being mistaken for each other and called each other’s name by professors and even occasionally their mom, but most of all they are used to being by each other’s side.

Commencement marks a milestone in these identical twins’ lives not only because they both will receive hard-earned diplomas from Penn State College of Medicine but also because it marks a fork in the road where Mark will head one way and Mike the other.

Ever since they came to America from their home in Alexandria, Egypt when they were just 2 years old – they marked their birthday on the airplane – the boys have lived life together. They went through primary and secondary school together, chose the same college where they both studied neuroscience and came to Penn State College of Medicine, where – wait for it – they both decided to specialize in psychiatry. (more…)

May 17, 2017 at 1:22 pm Leave a comment

Team-based learning sets College of Medicine Physician Assistant Program apart

By Carolyn Kimmel

Throughout college and graduate school, Amelia Poplawski learned very efficiently from her textbooks and lectures, so the first-year student in Penn State College of Medicine’s Physician Assistant Program was surprised when a tool she had never heard of – team based learning – enhanced her studying.

“I am amazed at how much more enjoyable learning is,” said Poplawski, who was introduced to team-based learning when she sat in on a class during her interview process. “I could never have anticipated how much of an impact it would make.”

Sometimes referred to as “the flipped classroom,” team-based learning encourages the student to develop deep thinking and teamwork skills that are especially important in an increasingly team-based approach to medicine, according to Chris Bruce, program director and team-based learning coordinator of the PA Program. In comparison to other programs nationally, Penn State’s program devotes significant classroom hours weekly to true team-based learning.

The team-based learning model has three main components. Before class, students read educational materials or complete another activity. As class begins, a test is completed individually on that material. Students then join their pre-assigned group to collaborate on a group test that contains the same questions. Group members select and defend their answers; in cases of disagreement, students discuss until they select the correct answer. (more…)

May 10, 2017 at 10:19 am Leave a comment

Inspired Together: A cancer survivor’s journey from patient to Boston Marathon runner

By Carolyn Kimmel

If someone had told Tim Harner a year ago that he would run in the Boston Marathon this month, he likely would have laughed – or cried— because the number one item on his bucket list seemed so unattainable.

Yet on April 17, he crossed the finish line of one of the nation’s top races, living the message that he wants to give other cancer survivors: “Never give up hope. Live life; don’t let life live you.”

Harner, a lifelong runner, was just 29 years old when he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, a cancer of the blood and bone marrow that progresses rapidly. His diagnosis in November 2015 began a journey that would challenge his resolve to live but ultimately transform his life. (more…)

April 26, 2017 at 11:12 am Leave a comment

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