Posts tagged ‘clinical trials’
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.
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.
Can a hormone decrease the brain damage caused by a blow to the head? Is there a better way to treat people with life-threatening seizures? Answers to these questions could provide hope to millions of Americans who suffer these medical emergencies every year.
The Medical Center’s Department of Emergency Medicine is one of many centers nationwide participating in two encouraging clinical trials investigating these questions. “RAMPART and ProTECT are two examples of hypothesis-designed trials that will change medical practice if benefit is shown,” says Thomas Terndrup, M.D., ’81, chair, Department of Emergency Medicine.
Because animal studies have shown that the hormone progesterone reduces swelling and recovery time in brain injury, researchers now hope to harness this therapy for victims of head injuries. “Right now we don’t have an intervention or medication that improves the outcome for traumatic brain injury,” Terndrup says. “And this is a very serious problem in the world, especially for younger individuals, because it affects their entire life if they don’t successfully recover, and a lot of them do not.” (more…)