By Lisa Brown
On Thursday, May 25, more than 100 faculty, staff, residents and students attended the 11th Annual John McCahan Medical Education Day on the BU Medical Campus, an interactive event that aims to showcase the wide variety of educational innovations and research activities taking place on campus.
Named after John McCahan, MD, former associate dean for Academic Affairs (1976–2006) and acting dean (2003–2005) at BUSM, the daylong event included five workshops and a poster session displaying nearly 40 abstracts.
This year’s theme, “Interactive Learning,” covered a variety of topics including team-based learning, peer-mentoring, professional development and other critical tools for teaching, learning and evaluation.
The keynote address, “Transforming the Large Enrollment Lecture Classroom into an Active Learning Zone,” was given by Colin Montpetit, assistant professor of biology at University of Ottawa and co-founder of the Ontario Consortium of Undergraduate Biology Educators, who shared his particular interest in producing a better quality, more engaging student experience without reducing enrollment numbers.
“We are pleased to offer BUMC educators a day of stimulating speakers and workshops for inspiration and sharing innovative ideas,” said Karen Antman, MD, BUSM Dean and Provost of the Medical Campus.
Parking and Transportation Services for Memorial Day observed on Monday, May 30
NO SHUTTLE SERVICES including the HealthNet service and Boston University Shuttle (BUS).
All parking facilities will be open.
- 610 Albany Street garage monthly parkers may park in the 710 Albany Street or Doctors Office Building (DOB) garages.
- All valid 610 Albany Street garage access will be programmed to work in the 710 Albany Street and DOB garages on Monday, May 30 only.
- Those who are not enrolled in the monthly parking program may park in 710 Albany Street and DOB garages for $7 on Monday, May 30 only.
- The MBTA is operating on a Sunday schedule, except the CT buses (CT1, CT3) which will not be operating.
- The Commuter Rail is operating on a Sunday schedule.
- For detailed information, please visit http://www.mbta.com/events/
Any questions? Please call TranSComm at 638-7473 or the Parking Office at 638-4915.
Boston University’s BioScience Academy has received nearly $100K to train unemployed and/or underemployed Massachusetts residents with additional skills for jobs in life sciences. This award is part of more than $2 million in grants from the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund (WCTF) that supports regional partnerships between businesses, educational institutions, community-based organizations and workforce development groups.
The program is designed to assist individuals with a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and/or Math) or healthcare background enter the biotech/ life sciences field. Full tuition scholarships are available for eligible individuals.
The two-semester program, which begins in September and ends in May, includes classes in biomedical science and clinical research and an internship. Upon completion, graduates receive twelve Boston University credits and a Certificate in Applied Biotechnology. All classes are held at the Medical Campus. For more information go to http://www.bu.edu/biosci/
First Study to Prospectively Test the Effectiveness of a Teachable Moment
Parents who smoke are more likely to quit smoking after receiving motivational smoking cessation counseling following a “teachable moment” (TM) such as witnessing their child experience an asthma attack.
The study, which appears in the journal Addiction, also found that in-home counseling visits, including feedback on their child’s second hand smoke exposure (SHSe) and counseling phone calls improved the likelihood of smoking cessation and less SHSe.
Despite a reduction in overall smoking prevalence, parental smoking and pediatric SHSe remain high, particularly among minority and low income families with children with asthma. More than 40 percent of all children are exposed to SHSe, which increases the risk for asthma.
Led by Belinda Borrelli, PhD, professor of Health Policy & Health Services Research and Director of Behavioral Science Research at Boston University Goldman School of Dental Medicine (BUGSDM), the researchers compared parents who smoke and have a child with asthma to parents who smoke and have healthy children. They found parents of children with asthma who experienced a TM (child’s asthma exacerbation) and motivational smoking cessation counseling were more than twice as likely to quit smoking than those parents of healthy children who received identical counseling. In addition, among parents of children with asthma, those who received long-term in-home and telephone counseling were more than twice as likely to quit smoking versus parents who received short-term counseling. They also had children with an 81 percent lower risk of being hospitalized for asthma and were about half as likely to miss school due to asthma or have asthma symptoms.
According to Borrelli, interventions or counseling provided during a teachable moment does motivate smoking cessation. “Despite the fact that our sample had a high prevalence of risk factors that are typically associated with difficulty quitting smoking such as lower education, low income, single mothers, etc. we achieved quit rates that were two-five times greater than spontaneous quit rates,” she explained.
Borrelli believes that these results underscore the need to develop novel interventions to motivate cessation and augment risk perception among parents of healthy children, who had lower quit rates in the study.
Funding for this study was provided by a grant from the National Institutes of Health (National Heart, lung and Blood Institute).
Time constraints, professional boundaries, and a lack of training and shared electronic medical records are among the key reasons why oral health often is not integrated into pediatric primary care at federally qualified health centers, according to a new study led by a School of Public Health researcher.
The study, published in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease, looked at how children’s dental care was handled at six health clinics in Maryland and Massachusetts. It found no correlation between success at dental integration and factors such as clinic size, patient characteristics, geographic location, or budget. For example, the most under-resourced clinic was “the most highly integrated,” the authors said.
Instead, strong leadership with a commitment to cross-disciplinary collaboration was critical to ensuring that dental care was integrated into pediatric care, the study found. Recommendations that emerged from interviews with clinicians and staff include identifying oral health “champions,” forming an oral health committee, providing on-site workshops in oral health, and increasing funding for oral health at federal health centers.
The study found that administrators and staff at the clinics understood and supported the importance of oral health for young children. The US Preventive Services Task Force recommends that all children receive fluoride varnish starting at the age of six months or at the first tooth eruption. But, the authors noted, pediatric providers in health clinics often are the only source of oral health education for low-income children, and recent studies have confirmed gaps in oral care and referral rates for children on Medicaid assistance.
In clinics that did provide dental services, clinicians reported that “multiple clinic priorities” limited the amount of time available for cross-specialty communication. Co-location of pediatric and dental services in a clinic was not a guarantee that a child would be seen by a dentist, but instead was “only the initial step toward implementing interdisciplinary care,” the study found.
“There was general agreement that integration could happen only with leadership and vision at the top,” said the study’s lead author, Judith Bernstein, professor of community health sciences and of emergency medicine at the School of Medicine. “Upper-level administrators’ involvement was seen as critical in setting the tone for clinic priorities and empowering the staff.”
The study was sponsored by the Center for Research to Evaluate and Eliminate Dental Disparities (CREEDD) at the Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine, under the leadership of Raul Garcia, chair of the Department of Health Policy & Health Services Research, and was done in collaboration with researchers from the University of Maryland School of Dentistry. Co-authors include Paul Geltman, a pediatrician with a joint appointment at SDM, and recent alumnae Christina Gebel and Ashley Walter.
Submitted by Lisa Chedekel
In an article in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Laura White, associate professor of biostatistics, and colleagues from the Slone Epidemiology Center at BU probed the association between ambient air pollution exposure and weight gain over 16 years among a large group of African American women in the long-running Black Women’s Health Study (BWHS). Levels of fine particulate matter, ozone, and nitrogen oxide were estimated at participants’ residential locations in 56 metro areas, and weight was tracked. The study adjusted for potential confounders, such as diet, neighborhood socioeconomic status, exercise, births, and smoking status.
The researchers found “no consistent pattern between weight change and pollutant exposure across BMI (body mass index) or SES (socioeconomic status) categories,” the study says. “The weight change associated with other exposures (such as different diet patterns and pregnancies) … was more substantial.”
The only statistically significant weight change detected was a loss of 0.50 kg over 16 years associated with each quartile increase in nitrogen dioxide. The authors said that finding may have emerged by chance or may reveal “underlying challenges in analyses of air pollution” where multiple environmental factors play a role.
Substantial research has been dedicated to understanding the reasons for the dramatic rise in obesity rates in the US in the past two decades. Animal studies and epidemiologic studies in children have suggested that air pollution might contribute to weight gain. In one such study, mice exposed to diesel exhaust prenatally were found to have greater weight gain in adulthood.
White and her co-authors noted that their models for particulate matter and nitrogen oxide levels relied on government monitoring sites, which tend to be located away from major roadways—meaning pollution exposures may have been underestimated.
Other BU authors on the study were: Lynn Rosenberg, associate director of the Slone Epidemiology Center and professor of epidemiology; Patricia Coogan, senior epidemiologist at Slone and research professor of epidemiology; and Jeffrey Yu, research data manager at Slone.
Submitted by Lisa Chedekel
Shipley Foundation gift will fund research in personalized medicine
Each year, more than 100,000 men diagnosed with prostate cancer in the United States undergo a prostatectomy, a surgical procedure that leaves most of them unable to function sexually and many of them incontinent. The majority would live just as long with no treatment at all.
It’s “Dark Ages” medicine, says Richard C. Shipley (Questrom’68,’72), who was diagnosed with prostate cancer 18 months ago and eventually sought out a new, less invasive treatment, called focal laser ablation. The successful technology investor and former CEO wants to see such humane, high-tech treatment become the norm for all men with prostate cancer. To help that happen, the BU trustee is giving the School of Medicine $10.5 million to create a prostate cancer research center on the Medical Campus and a website with information about treatment options.
“There are options, good options, that men don’t hear about,” says Shipley, “and I want to get that message out.”
The Shipley Prostate Cancer Research Center will focus on personalized medicine, finding genomic approaches to better determine which cancers are aggressive and need to be removed or radiated and which can be dealt with less aggressively, eliminating unnecessary treatment with devastating side effects.
“Research can provide a paradigm shift in how we diagnose and treat prostate cancer,” says Avrum Spira, director of the BU/Boston Medical Center Cancer Center. “There is a new, broader vision for what we can accomplish in prostate and other cancers in terms of precision genomic medicine.” Spira (ENG’02), the Alexander Graham Bell Professor in Health Care Entrepreneurship and a MED professor of medicine, pathology, and laboratory medicine and of bioinformatics, is a lung cancer specialist. He created a successful genomic test for early diagnosis of lung cancer, and believes prostate cancer could yield a similar outcome.
When Shipley learned that he had high PSA (prostate-specific antigen) levels, which can indicate cancer, he chose to have a closer examination by a powerful 3T magnetic scanner, a procedure that is less invasive than the common course of blind biopsies. Such biopsies take many cores of the prostate without knowing if there are any lesions. And when lesions were found in Shipley’s case, he chose to have them treated with laser ablation, which is far less damaging than a prostatectomy. Shipley, who compares his chosen treatment to lumpectomy versus radical mastectomy for women with breast cancer, learned of these new treatments not from the usual medical sources, he says, but by using “Dr. Google.”
In most cases, says Spira, “we biopsy a prostate, look under the microscope, and unfortunately, we often don’t know what to do next because it’s often a low-grade lesion.” He says it’s almost always impossible to distinguish an “indolent” and essentially harmless form of the cancer from a form that may become aggressive and needs immediate attention.
Such uncertainty leads to overtreatment and damage to quality of life. Although statistics vary widely, and outcomes depend on the surgeon and on surgical technique, anywhere from 30 percent to 70 percent of men will have erectile problems in the long term after prostatectomy. Urinary incontinence affects a smaller, but still significant number of men.
Shipley hopes that the Shipley Center website, offering accurate, impartial information about alternatives in plain English, will become a resource for patients and a hub for scientific exchange on the disease.
“We are all very excited about this gift, which will catalyze research around determining the optimal treatment for a specific patient,” says Karen Antman, dean of MED and provost of the Medical Campus.
She says that $1.5 million of the gift, plus a $500,000 contribution from BU, will go toward building the Shipley Center labs in existing space on the Medical Campus. The gift, which comes through the Shipley Foundation, allots $400,000 a year for 15 years to fund research projects, such as developing genetic tests to determine the threat posed by lesions or blood or urine tests to screen high-risk individuals. Antman estimates that, with support staff, the center will comprise 20 to 30 people, and continue to grow as pilot grants lead to additional federal and industry funding.
Shipley’s gift will also create an endowed professorship designated as “at any rank”—full, associate, or assistant professor—to allow BU to choose the candidate most at the forefront of the research. Antman says that researcher could start as early as January 2017.
A community engagement group, with men who are either in a high-risk group or are already diagnosed with prostate cancer, will be organized at the center as well. The group will meet at least quarterly to provide a patient perspective on issues and procedures related to the disease.
Shipley, of Sanibel, Fla., is the founder of Shiprock Capital, a private equity firm investing in early- and expansion-state technology companies. Previously, he was president and CEO of Shipley Company, LLC, a firm founded by his parents in 1957, which became a world leader in electronic materials and process technology development.
Prior gifts from Shipley to BU are $2.5 million in 2008 to endow the Richard C. Shipley Professorship in Management at the Questrom School of Business and $4 million in 2013 to endow the Beverly A. Brown Professorship for the Improvement of Urban Health. He is chairman and a founding fellow of the University’s William Fairfield Warren Society.
This BU Today article was written by Joel Brown.
Talbot Green was the place to be on Thursday, April 14!
The North Shore Animal League of America’s puppy van, along with Boston Medical Center’s Healing Paws therapy dogs helped spread some puppy cheer to faculty, students and staff on the Medical Campus.
BUMC’s Earth Day Festival also set the scene for a fun and interactive day with food, activities, giveaways and more!
If you missed the puppies, they’ll be back Friday, April 15 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
n April 6, 1991, Iraq accepted the provisions of United National Security Council Resolution 687, thus ending the Gulf War. On April 9, 2016, Boston University joined with the VA Boston Healthcare System to host an event to thank those who served.
Dr. Terence Keane, Associate Chief of Staff, Research and Development at the VA Boston Healthcare System and Assistant Dean for Research at BU School of Medicine, gave the opening remarks. “We take this opportunity, on the 25th anniversary of the Gulf War, to offer you our sincere thanks,” Keane told the approximately 100 Gulf War Veterans in attendance.
Dr. Anna Hohler, Director for the Center for Military and Post Deployment Health at BU, and associate professor of Neurology, thanked the Veterans for their continued service. “Not only did you serve in the Gulf, but you have continued to serve through your participation in research studies that will ultimately improve the health of your fellow soldiers and of the population in general,” Hohler said.
The Color Guard of the US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine presented the Colors while The Newtones of Newton South High School sang the National Anthem.
Dr. Roberta White, Chair of the Department of Environmental Health at the BU School of Public Health, gave an overview of research conducted over the past quarter century. White, who told the Veterans of her personal connection having lost her own father to a war-related illness, has been involved in extensive research that has led to acceptance of Gulf War Illness (GWI) as a physical illness. White presented a summary of studies that have identified chemical exposures associated with GWI and neuroimaging evidence of structural brain damage associated with GWI.
Veterans also heard from several BU and VA researchers who continue to conduct ground-breaking studies related to Gulf War Illness. Drs. Barbara Niles, Margaret Naeser, Kimberly Sullivan, Rosemary Toomey, Maxine Krengel, Neil Kowall (represented by Ms. Tranijit Singh) and Scott Kinlay presented information on current studies aimed at increasing our understanding of and improving treatment for GWI.
Mr. Anthony Hardie, a Veteran advocate and Director of Veterans for Common Sense, urged audience members to take part in ongoing research at BU and the VA. “These studies are only as good as our participation,” Mr. Hardie told his fellow Gulf War Veterans.
In addition to providing important information on Gulf War Illness and services available to Veterans, the event provided a forum for Veterans to talk with one another about their shared experiences. Most important, the gathering gave researchers and clinicians an opportunity to say thank you to the men and women who have served and continue to give through their study participation.
Submitted by Monica Parker-James.
Do you consider yourself to be a Mentor, or are you looking for a Mentor in a particular area?
BU Profiles has a NEW Mentoring Section which:
- Is highly visible and showcases faculty mentoring expertise.
- Makes it easy for students, trainees and faculty to find mentors across BUMC.
BU Profile holders can edit their profile and add a dedicated mentoring narrative about their approach and outlook. Are you willing to act as a mentor but haven’t provided your mentoring narrative? Please do the following:
- Read the Mentoring FAQs section, which contains tips on what to include. You’ll find excellent examples of faculty who have already added mentoring here and here.
- Make your Mentoring section public to ensure it will be visible.
Anyone can use the new “Find Mentors” search option to look for mentors by role, department/section or keyword.
Learn about the new mentoring features by looking at the “what’s new” section, or by reading the Mentoring FAQs. Please give us your feedback on this new feature, or on anything else in BU Profiles. You can use that form if you have questions or issues of any kind.