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For April, May and June, 2011

June 7 U-M International Center for Automotive Medicine gets $800k expansion

The $800,000 recent expansion of the International Center for Automotive Medicine will assist in automobile crash research to help save more lives. The center moved from offices at a nearby hospital to its new 3,000 square feet location inside the Medical Science Unit 1 building on university campus. Researchers use computer models to understand the biomechanics of bodily injury in a car crash. The center has about 30 engineering people, the Detroit News reports.

June 7 - Golf outing raises $45k for diabetes research

The Swing for a Cure golf outing last month led by former Michigan football player Rich Hewlett at the University of Michigan Golf Course raised more than $45,000 for Type 1 diabetes research. The event, in its third year, has raised more than $155,000 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the University of Michigan Comprehensive Diabetes Center, Ann reports. Among the speakers this year were Michigan football coach Brady Hoke, former coach Gary Moeller and former line coach Jerry Hanlon.

June 3 – Young people who have sustained a head injury during their lifetime more likely to engage in violent behavior

The U-M study research found that young people who suffered a recent head injury (within a year of being questioned for the study) were even more likely to report violent behavior, reports The Chicago Tribune, Science Daily and WHPL (Philidelphia) "These are not necessarily sports-playing injuries," said Sarah Stoddard, research fellow at the U-M School of Nursing and lead author of the study. "They could be from a car accident or from previous violent behavior, but it does support some of the sports research that's been going on with concussions."

June 3- Dr. Eduardo Villamor speaks to MSNBC in response to new diabetes research

In a MSNBC report, U-M’s Dr. Eduardo Villamor, associate professor in the School of Public Health, responds to research that claims that overweight moms who lose weight after their first baby are less likely to develop diabetes during their second pregnancy. Villamor, who was not involved in the study, has found previously that the risk of gestational diabetes during a second pregnancy increased with the amount of weight women gained after the first one. "The message is that women should maintain a healthy weight before and after pregnancy," he says.

June 2 - The Detroit News announced its Michiganians of the Year including U-M Eva Feldman

Eva Feldman, M.D., professor of neurology at U-M has won “Michiganians of the Year” for being the principal investigator of the first clinical trial using stem cells in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) patients. She researched many potential therapies for ALS and other neurologic diseases. A clinical trial was launched with a growth factor that was effective in animals and only momentarily helpful in ALS patients. Feldman thought of a more specific approach, which led to the clinical trial that is injecting stem cells into the spinal column of ALS patients. It is in the first phase to determine safety, under way at Emory University in Atlanta and expected to expand soon to other sites, including U-M. "My patients give me the inspiration to come back to my laboratory and work as hard as I can to understand what causes this horrible disease as well as fast-track new therapies,” The Detroit News reports.

June 2 - U-M researcher, Louise O’Brien, Ph.D., conducts research showing kids who bully are twice as likely to have sleep problems

Children who are bullies or have conduct problems at school are more likely to be sleepy during the day according to University of Michigan Medical School researchers, reports WXYZ (Detroit), KSAZ (Pheonix), Science Daily and UPI. Researchers looked at elementary school students in the Ypsilanti, Michigan public schools who had exhibited conduct problems like bullying or discipline referrals and found that there was a two-fold higher risk for symptoms of sleep-disordered breathing, particularly daytime sleepiness among these students. The study was published in the journal Sleep Medicine. UMHS Release.

June 2- High-risk surgeries getting safer: U-M study

Surgery death rates have dropped nationwide over the past decade, according to a U-M study that reveals cancer surgeries have seen the most dramatic improvement in safety, reports MSN and U.S. News & World Report. Mortality dropped substantially for eight different high-risk surgeries performed on 3.2 million Medicare patients from 1999 to 2008."Patients should take solace in knowing that all high-risk surgeries have become safer in the last decade," says lead author Jonathan F. Finks, M.D., clinical assistant professor of surgery. The story was also reported by Science Daily and KCBS (Los Angeles). UMHS Release.

June 1 – Dr. Larry Junck comments on new international report that classified cellphones as a possible cause of cancer in humans

A new international report that classified cellphones as a possible cause of cancer in humans suggests that phones should be used with caution. The report suggests that cellphones should only be used on speaker mode with an earpiece or for text messaging only. Dr. Larry Junck, professor of neurology and director of the neuro-oncology program at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center says there is no strong scientific explanation why the type of electromagnetic radiation that comes out of a cellphone should cause cancers. In the Detroit News article, Junck urges that people should focus more on avoiding established cancer risks, like sun exposure and smoking.

June 1 – Multi-disciplinary Cancer Center makes new discoveries in cancer stem cells

Max Wicha, director of the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, said scientists have discovered that cancer stem cells are controlled by a small number of cells in the body and the information on these cells may help provide a cure for many types of cancers. The Cancer Center — which works with 10 schools within the University — organizes all cancer research at the University and provides a means for collaboration amongst different disciplines in undergraduate programs, reports the Michigan Daily. Dr. Diane Simeone, professor of Surgery and Molecular and Integrative Physiology, said the center allows for students and faculty from various fields of study to work “in a multi-disciplinary manner to take care of patients,” and is a place where rapid advancements on cancer stem cell research can be made.

May 31 – U-M study: Used pacemakers should be used to save lives to developing countries

University of Michigan researchers urge that thousands of lives could be saved each year if the US were to donate used pacemakers to developing countries instead of throwing them in the trash, according to a Reuters report. The US Food and Drug Administration currently prohibits reuse of pacemakers from dead people. The team of researchers, including Kim. A. Eagle, director of the Cardiovascular Center at the University of Michigan Health System, presented data from hundreds of patients showing there was no increase in infections, malfunctioning or overall complications when reusing pacemakers. "This is a potentially life-saving technology that we are just throwing away right now," says Dr. Eagle.

May 31- Curry spice may lower necessary head/neck chemo dose

A compound from the Indian curry spice curcumin may reduce the needed dosage of head and neck cancer chemotherapy drugs, UPI reports. Thomas Carey of the University of Michigan Medical School, co-director of the Head and Neck Oncology Program at the Comprehensive Cancer Center, said when the curcumin-based compound -- FLLL32 -- was added to head and neck cancer cell lines, they were able to cut the dose of the chemotherapy drug cisplatin by four.

May 27- UMHS employees encouraged to volunteer in Missouri tornado relief efforts

Tony Denton, the executive director of University Hospital is encouraging all health system faculty and staff to help the victims of the devastating tornado in Joplin, Missouri, reports Denton announced a partnership with the American Red Cross that will allow UMHS volunteers to go on 10-day deployments beginning in June to help with nursing, medical oversight and behavioral health services in mass care shelters in the town of 50,000. Employees are also encouraged to also donate blood.

May 27 – Researchers use cellphones to help diabetes patients maintain health

Researchers at the University of Michigan Medical School are using cellphones to help diabetes patients maintain their diet, exercise and medication regime, reports Mother Nature Network. Doctors saw immediate and significant improvements in blood-sugar levels resulting from weekly phone calls concerning their diabetes program. Patients in rural areas often have a difficult time visiting a health clinic, but typically have access to a cellphone. Cellphones are useful in contacting people living in regions with poor infrastructure, where roads, traditional telephone lines, Internet and television are all but nonexistent.

May 25 - Bacterial meningitis keeps falling

Vaccinations against meningitis-causing bacteria have lowered the amount of cases of meningitis in the United States. Researchers scanned data from more than 17 million people nationwide and found that bacterial meningitis cases had fallen by 31 percent from 1998 to 2007, Science News reports. “For people taking care of kids since the 1980s, the world of meningitis has completely changed in the United States — and it’s because of two vaccines,” says Matthew Davis, a pediatrician at the University of Michigan Medical School.

May 25 - New Tool Aims to Improve Measurement of Primary Care Depression Outcomes

Science Daily reports, doctors at the University of Michigan Health System have developed a new tool that can help family physicians determine how much a patient's depression has improved. “Rather than simply going down a list and checking off a patient's lack of individual symptoms, we believe there are also positive signs that are important -- a patient's feeling that they are returning to 'normal,' their sense of well-being, their satisfaction with life and their ability to cope with life's ups and downs," says lead author Donald E. Nease Jr., M.D., who was an associate professor of family medicine at the U-M Medical School and member of the U-M Depression Center at the time of the research. A series of five questions will help doctors better understand patients. An example being “over the last two weeks, did you feel in control of your emotions?"

May 24 - Kids dependent on long-term ventilation require longer and expensive hospital care

A new study conducted by the University of Michigan found children who have complex chronic conditions and who require long-term mechanical ventilation have significantly higher mortality, longer length of hospitalizations, higher mean charges and more emergency department admissions. As mentioned in the Science Daily, the study found that the length of initial hospitalizations for children requiring long term mechanical ventilation remained the same between 2000 and 2006, but the total admissions were up 55%. This study was led by Brian D. Benneyworth, M.D., M.S., Pediatric Critical Care and Health Service Research Fellow with the Child Health Evaluation and Research (CHEAR) unit at the U-M Medical School.

May 24 - Normal is good

Nine years ago, Hunter Miracle of Centerville was diagnosed with Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis, a disease that harms the kidney-filtering system. This makes recovery from a simple illness long and difficult. Hunter received a kidney last June from his 40-year-old father, Dave. The kidney-transplant procedure was performed at the University of Michigan Hospital. However, doctors noticed Hunter's new kidney was starting to fail. A series of procedures then had to take place going into November until things started to change. Now there are still monthly trips to Ann Arbor for monitoring, and Hunter has to drink at least three liters of water each day to help strengthen his kidney. Overall, Hunter is doing well and finishing up the eighth-grade at Centreville Junior High and and looks forward to starting high school in the fall, the Kalamazoo Gazette reports.

May 23- University of Michigan Approves $13 Million Renovations for the North Campus Research Complex

The University of Michigan board of regents approved a $13.7 million renovation project for the makeover of the North Campus Research Complex. The approval came on May 19, 2011 at the regents meeting. The project would include the renovation of the 120,000 square feet Building 16, where the University of Michigan’s Medical School will open various units that are currently in other buildings. Other things that will be included are five floors with three conference rooms and a fitness center. The project is expected to be completed by spring 2012 reports the Ann Arbor Chronical.

May 21 - In a New York Times interview, Dr. Howard Markel asks “Is it time for AIDS exceptionalism to become a historical relic?”

Though it is simply a new virus, thirty years after the start of the AIDS epidemic the disease still carries stigma. When interviewed for a New York Times article and the International Hearald Tribune examining the historical stigma, Howard Markel, MD, PhD, director of the Center for the History of Medicine, discussed what he called “AIDS exceptionalism” — a belief that this illness is like no other, despite historical precedents.

May 20 – U-M regents approve creation of the Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation

The University of Michigan's North Campus Research Complex will soon be home to a new health care policy institute that one day could house 500 or more researchers, the University of Michigan announced today. The university's Board of Regents today approved forming the Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, to be housed on the former Pfizer property U-M bought in 2009 reports the Detroit News and The institute aims to use health services research to enhance the health and well-being of local, national and global populations.

May 20 – Dr. Glover, professor emeritus at the U-M Medical School tours new exhibit Bodies Revealed with the Toledo Blade.

Dr. Glover, associate professor emeritus at the University of Michigan Medical School leads the Toledo Blade through the Bodies Revealed exhibit, now in display through September 18 at the Imagination Station in Toledo. Dr. Glover now serves as the medical director for the educational exhibit, which displays preserved human tissue and organs. During his time at U-M, Dr. Glover developed the university's polymer preservation laboratory in 1989, taught anatomy, and conducted research.

May 18 - People often believe World War II brought an end to the eugenic movement in the United States, but it didn't really die out until the 70s and 80s, says Dr. Alexandra Minna Stern.

More than 80,000 eugenic sterilizations took place in the U.S., half of those coming after 1945. Dr. Stern, associate director for the Center for the History of Medicine and author of Eugenic Nation was interviewed for this three-part series on the American eugenic movement. The series began April 18 in North Carolina's Independent Weekly.

April 12 - Wall Street Journal speaks with Dr. Kaplan about possible connection between retroviral genes, modern diseases

Recent studies suggest that the genetic remains of ancient viruses -- including some infections that took place 100,000 to 200,000 years ago -- may play a role in modern diseases, such as Hodgkin's lymphoma, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. Mark Kaplan, M.D., clinical professor of internal medicine who specializes in HIV medicine and infectious disease, tells the Wall Street Journal that researchers think in some patients, HIV stirs things up, "turning on DNA that in healthy people is usually dormant." Kaplan has been studying the old viruses in people with HIV and HIV lymphoma.

April 12 - National media report on new study led by U-M neurologists showing gene therapy for pain seems to provide relief

In the first clinical trial of gene therapy for treatment of intractable pain, researchers from the U-M Department of Neurology observed that the treatment appears to provide substantial pain relief, reports multiple media outlets, including Yahoo News, CNBC and Reuters. David Fink, M.D., Robert Brear Professor and chair of the Department of Neurology, tells the media that the team found injecting NP2 -- a gene transfer vector that expresses the naturally-occurring opioid peptide enkephalin -- into the skin reduces pain in models of pain caused by nerve damage, inflammation, or cancer. In addition to Fink, other investigators participating in this trial at U-M included Marina Mata, M.D., Srinivas Chiravuri, M.D. and Susan Urba, M.D. UMHS Release.

April 12 - Why do more people have allergies, asthma? Dr. McMorris explains possible theories to the Chicago Tribune

Eczema, asthma, hay fever and food allergies have nearly doubled worldwide in the past 20 years, Marc S. McMorris, M.D., clinical associate professor of internal medicine and pediatrics and communicable diseases, medical director of the U-M Allergy Specialty Clinic and Food Allergy Clinic, tells the Chicago Tribune. The Tribune reports that experts aren't sure what's causing the increase, but it could be a combination of theories currently being studied. McMorris explains some of those theories, such as the belief that the immune system of people who are exposed to far fewer microbes shifts to allergy-fighting because immune system doesn't have as much to do when it comes to fighting disease."

April 11 - Metabolic fitness program created by Dr. Rubenfire featured in

When doctors told Frank Kurt, 67, he had metabolic syndrome, which means he had at least three of five risk factors that make the onset of cardiovascular disease or diabetes likely if left untreated, he bypassed another diet program and enrolled in a metabolic fitness program offered at the U-M Cardiovascular Medicine unit at Domino's Farms. Melvyn Rubenfire, M.D., FACP, FACC, FACCP, professor of internal medicine, director of U-M Cardiovascular Medicine unit at Domino's Farms and a preventive cardiologist at U-M, created the program in 2005 to help patients reverse unhealthy habits. "We look at people who are at risk, and we try to adjust those risk factors,” Rubenfire tells

April 11 - U-M Hospitals and Health Centers CIO talks with Crain's Detroit Business about electronic information system

Jocelyn DeWitt, Ph.D., chief information officer of U-M Hospitals and Health Centers, talks with Crain's Detroit Business about Epic Systems Corp., a Verona, Wis.-based information technology company used by the U-M Health System. DeWitt says the Health System bought Epic's ambulatory, revenue cycle, financial and emergency department information system last summer and plans on adding Epic's inpatient, pharmacies and medical record systems in 2013. "We are right on track to have the full ambulatory system installed by August 2012," says DeWitt. The entire Epic system will be completed in 2014.

April 11 - Dr. Spahlinger discusses Medicare Part D with BusinessWeek

Medicare's Part D drug plan is "is basically the tiered system Medicare has had for covering medications. They're gradually filling it," says David Spahlinger, M.D., senior associate dean for clinical affairs at the U-M Medical School and president of the Association of American Medical Colleges Advisory Panel on Healthcare. Spahlinger speaks with BusinessWeek about Medicare Part D's "donut hole," the gap in drug cost coverage enrollees encounter when they reach a certain spending threshold. BusinessWeek reports that under the new Affordable Care Act, the gap will shrink considerably beginning this year.

April 11 - Detroit News reports that Michigan hospitals, Blues improve safety, care through cooperative work

The U-M Health System and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan report in a new paper published in the journal "Health Affairs" that their model for collaborative health care saves millions in health care costs and improves patient care. Marianne Udow-Phillips, director of the Center for Healthcare Research & Transformation at U-M and a paper co-author, tells the Detroit News that the Health System collects and analyzes data for the initiatives, independent of Blue Cross, which makes hospitals in the state more willing to participate. UMHS Release.

April 8 - Former Football Coach Lloyd Carr promotes new C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Flint are

Former U-M Head Football Coach Lloyd Carr promoted the new U-M C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital and Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital during the annual Past Presidents’ Dinner in the Genesys Conference and Banquet Center reports the Flint Journal. Before Carr took to the podium, 15-year-old Tyler White — a one-time Leukemia patient at Mott - gave him advice: Talk fast. White and others were in a rush to watch the U-M hockey team battle North Dakota in the NCAA national semifinals on Thursday night. During the event, Carr thanked the U-M Club of Greater Flint for their contributions toward the new project. "He has reunited a lot of his past athletes who now volunteer and fundraise themselves to make gifts to the hospital,” says Nicole Borcherding, the Development Officer for the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. “He’s truly leaving another legacy at Michigan... .”

April 7 - Dr. Freed explains that different strategies may be required to reach all parents regarding children's vaccines

Doctors are the most trusted source of information for American parents about the safety of children's vaccines, says Gary L. Freed, M.D., M.P.H., professor of pediatrics and communicable diseases, chief of general pediatrics and director of the Child Health Evaluation and Research Unit at U-M. Freed tells multiple media outlets, including MSN and Health Day, that "Those who design public health efforts to provide evidence-based information must recognize that different strategies may be required to reach all groups of parents." In a national survey of 1,552 parents of children aged 17 and younger, researchers found that 76 percent said they trusted their child's doctor "a lot" when it came to getting information about vaccine safety.

April 5 - New stem cell lines created at U-M continue to make headlines

On Monday, U-M announced it has created some of the nation's first embryonic stem cell lines that carry genes responsible for specific diseases. Gary D. Smith, Ph.D., professor of molecular & integrative physiology, obstetrics and gynecology, and urology and co-director of the U-M Consortium for Stem Cell Therapies, speaks with multiple media outlets, including the Detroit Free Press and, about how these new stem cell lines will allow researchers to study how the embryonic cells develop markers of a specific disease. Michigan Live also reports on the stem cell lines, discussing how the creation is stirring both hope and criticism.

April 4 - Dr. Piette talks with local media about new program to help individuals with depression manage their symptoms

A new program offered at two U-M clinics can help individuals suffering with depression manage the disease. and the Observer & Eccentric talk with John D. Piette, Ph.D., professor of internal medicine, a senior research scientist at the Ann Arbor VA Healthcare System and director of the new program, about the program's benefits and the role of family members and friends. Those who enroll in the program, called CarePartner, enlist a trusted individual in their life to check-in on them and help manage depressive symptoms. UMHS Release

April 4 - Livingston Daily reports on free program about transplant costs, discussion led by U-M's transplant financial coordinator

Join Paul M. Rzepecki, transplant financial coordinator at the U-M Medical Center, at 7 p.m. Thursday to hear about the medical insurance issues patients face before and after organ transplants. The free event will be held at St. Mary Magdalen Church, 2201 S. Old U.S. 23 in Brighton Township. The Livingston Daily reports that the program is open to transplant patients, caregivers, family members and anyone interested in the gift of life. The program is sponsored by the Livingston Transplant Support Group.

April 4 - Dr. Smith talks with the Detroit News about new stem cell lines created at U-M

Two new embryonic stem cell lines created at U-M will allow researchers to study how certain diseases form and progress, says Gary D. Smith, Ph.D., professor of molecular & integrative physiology, obstetrics and gynecology, and urology and co-director of the U-M Consortium for Stem Cell Therapies. Unlike the first stem cell line U-M created in October, Smith tells the Detroit News and WHTC, a radio station in Holland, Mich., that these stem cell lines include genes for inherited disorders and only a few other U.S. universities have created disease-specific stem cell lines. A. Alfred Taubman, founder of a U-M medical research institute in his name, tells the News that the new stem cell lines should "pave the way for new treatments and cures."

April 4 - Jackson Citizen Patriot reports that health care jobs predicted to grow, talks with UMHS registered nurse

For those who may be worried about finding work, the Jackson Citizen Patriot reports that health care jobs could be the right prescription. Stephanie Palmer, A.D.N., R.N., a registered nurse at the U-M Health System who lives in Michigan Center, tells the Citizen Patriot that she had a job at the U-M Health System lined up before she graduated from nursing school at Jackson Community College in 2008.

April 4 - UMHS nurse practitioner talks with CNBC about potential benefits of less invasive heart valve replacement technique

A heart valve replacement technique developed by Edwards LifeSciences Corp. that does not require open-heart surgery could offer elderly patients a quicker recovery period, says Susan D. Housholder-Hughes, R.N., M.S.N., ANP-BC, a nurse practitioner in the U-M Health System. Housholder-Hughes speaks with CNBC about the benefits of the technique, which a new study shows led to a slightly lower death rate at one year compared to those who underwent open-heart surgery. Housholder-Hughes was not involved in the study. "These are elderly patients that don't have much stamina and until now they have had to undergo open heart surgery, which is like getting hit by a truck," she says

April 1 - Florida station reports on mother who can talk after having half of tongue removed, thanks to Dr. Chepeha

Before Lisa Bourdon-Krause underwent surgery to remove half of her tongue, she recorded herself so her then-two-year-old son could know what his mother sounded. Bourdon-Krause, who was diagnosed with tongue cancer, didn't know whether she would be able to talk again after surgery. But her children will grow up knowing her voice, thanks to Douglas Chepeha, M.D., M.S.P.H., associate professor of otolaryngology and director of the microvascular program at U-M. WPTV, an NBC-affiliated television station in South Florida's Gold and Treasure Coasts, reports how Chepeha used skin from Bourdon-Krause's forearm and attached it to her tongue.

April 1 - NPR talks with Dr. Bagian about balancing safety, cost in wake of Japan's natural, nuclear disasters

James P. Bagian, M.D., P.E., clinical professor of engineering, director of the U-M Center for Health Engineering and Patient Safety and a former astronaut, joins the host of NPR's Talk of the Nation program to discuss risk assessment in the United States. Following the aftermath of the natural and nuclear disasters in Japan, Americans are now asking themselves: How safe are we? Bagian and other risk assessors talk about what choices must be made to balance safety with practicality and cost.

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