By Lisa Brown
Patients who use marijuana have lower odds of achieving abstinence from other drugs and heavy alcohol use, indicating that marijuana use merits attention from addiction-treatment clinicians, a new study by researchers from the BU schools of public health and medicine has found.
The study, published online in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, examined the association between marijuana use and abstinence from opioid or stimulant drugs or alcohol.
The authors noted that marijuana theoretically could have a helpful or harmful influence on achieving sobriety: Substituting a less harmful drug might help to achieve abstinence from other drugs, while on the other hand, continued use of an addictive drug such as marijuana could interfere with efforts to quit other drugs, or have no impact at all. Prior studies have lent some support for each of those possibilities.
The new study — which recruited more than 500 participants with opioid, cocaine and alcohol use disorders, primarily from an inpatient detoxification unit – found that marijuana use was associated with a 27 percent reduction in the odds of abstinence from drug and heavy alcohol use.
“While the findings may not mean addressing marijuana use during addiction treatment will improve treatment outcomes, they do suggest that possibility,” said the research team, led by Dr. Richard Saitz, chair of community health sciences at BUSPH and professor of medicine at the BU School of Medicine. “It seems reasonable to address marijuana use in substance-dependent people and in their treatment.”
One recent study found that pre-treatment marijuana use favorably influenced abstinence rates in cocaine users, compared to no pre-treatment marijuana use. But other studies have shown that marijuana use is associated with worse treatment outcomes in patients undergoing opioid agonist treatment. And still other research has found alcohol and marijuana use to be independent of one another.
The authors said they hoped their findings might help to clarify the conflicting evidence.
“Our study followed participants over a year and included laboratory testing for drugs and alcohol, and analyses adjusted for addiction severity — making it likely that the association between marijuana use and other drug and heavy alcohol use is real,” said Saitz.
“The findings might be useful for prognosis—so patients and clinicians alike can be aware that marijuana use in this circumstance increases the risk of subsequent other drug use. They are also useful because of implications for treatment or self-change. They imply that continued use of marijuana is not harmless,” added Saitz.
Saitz said that use of marijuana might increase the risk for other drug use because, like nicotine, it “stimulates the same reward pathways” in the brain.
“Continuing to stimulate those pathways with any drug could be related to using other drugs, some of which are more potent and harmful, as has been found for cigarette smoking,” he said.
The study was funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health to Boston Medical Center.
Authors include: Mohammadali Mojarrad, a student at the BU School of Medicine; Dr. Jeffrey H Samet, professor of Medicine, BU School of Medicine and chief of general internal medicine at Boston Medical Center; Debbie M. Cheng, professor of biostatistics at BUSPH; and Michael R. Winter, associate director of the BUSPH Data Coordinating Center.
On Friday, May 16, 191 DMD students and 79 post-doctoral students received their degrees at the 2014 Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine (GSDM) Convocation, held at the Walter Brown Arena.
Dean Jeffrey W. Hutter began the ceremony with a moment of silence in memory of Mrs. Rhoda Frankl, who passed away on Sunday, January 26. Mrs. Frankl, the wife of Dean Spencer N. Frankl, proudly served as the First Lady of the Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine for 30 years. “She will be dearly missed,” said Dean Hutter.
Dean Hutter led a second moment of silence for the victims of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. “We as a University and a School of Dental Medicine continue to be Boston Strong and Mrs. Hutter and I could not be more proud of how you and your colleagues who may not be here this afternoon reacted and coped with this horrific event and its aftermath,” said Dean Hutter.
Reverend Dr. Robert Allan Hill, Dean of Marsh Chapel, then offered his guidance with an invocation.
To the graduates, Dean Hutter said, “By receiving your degrees and certificates, you have earned the chance to uphold our and now your school’s Core Values of Respect, Truth, Responsibility, Fairness and Compassion, and have a positive impact on the dental profession and the overall health of the patients you care for.”
“Your education does not end here; you will continue to learn about the ever-changing profession of dentistry throughout your careers,” He continued. “Through practice, research, and teaching, you will make contributions to the future of the profession.”
For the first time, the valedictorian of the DMD Advanced Standing (AS) Program class was honored alongside the valedictorian of the four-year DMD Program. The 2014 DMD and AS valedictorians are, respectively, Kelsey Hill and Anna Boyakhchyan.
In her valedictorian address, Hill recalled, year by year, the challenges she and her classmates surmounted in dental school. Hill said, “And here we are, beginning the next chapter of our lives.” She continued, “As we divide onto our own paths, it will be our education and experiences here at BU that will help navigate our way.”
Boyakhchyan acknowledged three fundamental supports that shaped her time at GSDM: Boston University and the great city to which it owes its name, her family and friends, and her fellow students—the graduating class of 2014. “You can never be overdressed or overeducated,” Boyakhchyan said, quoting Oscar Wilde. “And while I claim that we all are a bit overdressed today, we will continue learning till the rest of our lives, as there’s always opportunity to improve and learn more.”
Dean Hutter presented the Spencer N. Frankl Award for Excellence in Teaching to two distinguished faculty: Dr. Thomas Kilgore, Professor of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery in the Department of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, and Dr. William Lehman, Professor of Physiology and Biophysics at the Boston University School of Medicine and Faculty Member for the Cellular Biophysics Program at Boston University.
Dr. Judith Jones delivered the keynote address. Dr. Jones holds the following positions at GSDM: Assistant Dean for Faculty Development, Director of the Center for Clinical Research, and Professor in the Department of Health Policy & Health Services Research and the Department of General Dentistry.
Dr. Jones shared with the graduates some ideas that have shaped her career and her wishes for their shared future. Dr. Jones elaborated on the following pieces of advice: Continue to be a lifelong learner; Strive for excellence in everything that you do; Recognize new opportunities when they appear; Serve your community; Give back to your profession and School and be an ambassador for BU.
Dr. Jones also pointed out to the graduates that they “have the right stuff to be happy”—this according to a measure outlined by Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Outliers. He said, “It is not how much money we make that ultimately makes us happy…three things—autonomy, complexity and a connection between effort and reward—are qualities that work has to have if it is to be satisfying.” Dr. Jones went on to describe how the dental profession satisfies each of these three criteria.
DMD Class of 2014 President Wyatt Traina and AS Class of 2014 President Rajiv Tuladhar presented the 2014 Class Gift to Dean Hutter. Collectively, the DMD and AS classes reached 100 percent participation and a Class Gift totaling $3743.92, the highest amount to date donated to the School by the graduating class.
Dean Hutter said, “Thank you very much Wyatt and Rajiv, and on behalf of all the faculty, staff, and students both present and future, I want to thank the members of the 2014 Class for contributing to this very special gift to our school.”
The 2014 pre- and post-doctoral graduates each then made the momentous march across the stage to receive their Certificates of Advanced Graduate Study and diplomas. Ten alums and one faculty member were brought onstage to present diplomas to graduating family members. Presenters included Craig Allen DMD 95, who presented to his niece, Jennifer Allen DMD 14; Philip Badalamenti ORTHO 80, who presented to his daughter AnneMarie Baldamenti ORTHO 14; Ray English, Jr. DMD 83, who presented to his son Ray English III DMD 14; Jose Jimenez PROS 85, who presented to his son Andres Jimenez PERIO 14; Ted Lee SDM 86, who presented to his son James E. Lee DMD 14; Shahrzad Shahbazian DMD 96 and Amir O. Shahbazian DMD 88, who presented to their son Cameron Shahbazian DMD 14; Dr. Diego Romero PROS 12, who presented to his wife Mariana Velazquez OMFS 14; faculty member Dr. Ira Weinberg, who presented to his daughter, Erica Weinberg DMD 14; and Clair Chang DMD 07, PROS 12, who presented to her fiancé, Bradley Woland ORTHO 14.
Dean Hutter then led the Class of 2014 in a recitation of the Professional Oath. Reverend Dr. Robert Allan Hill closed the 2014 GSDM Convocation with a benediction.
Submitted by GSDM Communications.
Should U.S. women be screened for cervical cancer with Pap tests, HPV tests or both? According to researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and Boston Medical Center (BMC) while the merits of screening tests and screening intervals warrant further discussion, they firmly believe that increasing the number of women who participate in cancer screenings and ensuring that women are not lost to follow-up with lengthened screening intervals is more important than the choice of test to decrease rates of cervical cancer.
In a commentary in this week’s issues of Annals of Internal Medicine, Drs. Rebecca Perkins and Elizabeth Stier provide insight into the benefits and limitations of cervical cancer screening discussing the advantages, disadvantages and questions related to screening with Pap tests only, HPV tests only, or Pap and HPV tests together.
The Pap test has been considered a cornerstone of women’s health for more than 60 years. In a new era of cervical cancer prevention, the FDA in 2014 approved the Cobas HPV test as the primary screening tool for cervical cancer for women aged 25 and older. However, questions remain regarding how HPV testing alone will be recommended for screening.
According to the researchers, testing with both Pap and HPV together (co-testing), detects the most cervical pre-cancer, but the improvement over HPV testing alone is small. “A single Pap test does not provide good protection against cancer, but repeat testing every three years has been shown to effectively reduce cancer rates, and it is the only method for which long term data are available,” explained co-author Rebecca Perkins, MD, MSc, assistant professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at BUSM and a gynecologist at BMC. Questions remain however regarding the cost of each test, and how often women will be asked to be screened.
“We also must remember that the majority of cervical cancers occur in women who have not had any recent screening and that increasing HPV vaccination rates will also be important to reducing cervical cancer rates in the future,” she added
The American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) honored BUSM PA Program Director Mary Warner, MMSc, PA-C, with its PAragon Research Publishing Award for her exceptional research article “Career patterns of physician assistants: A retrospective longitudinal study.” The award was presented at AAPA’s annual conference in Boston in May.
The article—which received a Gold Medal for Best Original Research from the American Society of Healthcare Publication Editors—was published in the June edition of the Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants and takes a closer look at the education, training and practice patterns of PAs post-graduation. The authors pay special attention to the tendencies of PAs to move between different specialties throughout their career, given their flexibility to do so without additional training or certification. The information suggests that PAs are invaluable to addressing shortages of providers in both primary care and/or specialty medicine.
“The work we’ve done validates that the PA profession takes advantage of and values the ability to practice in multiple specialties over the course of a career,” said Warner who is also the founding director of the BUSM PA program and the lead author of the article. “This career flexibility is likely to be the primary reason physician assistants have such high job satisfaction rates. I am honored to be recognized by AAPA and hope that my work, and that of my colleagues, will serve as an incentive to pursue this career for the next generation of PAs.”
PAs are nationally certified and licensed to practice medicine in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and all U.S. territories, except for Puerto Rico. PAs are educated similarly to physicians and share diagnostic and therapeutic reasoning skills. PAs perform physical examinations, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret lab tests, perform procedures, assist in surgery, provide patient education and counseling, and make rounds in hospitals and nursing homes, among many other medical services.
In early April recent immigrants to the Boston area benefited from a community outreach effort led by the Boston University chapter of the American Student Dental Association (ASDA) and the Global & Population Health office at Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine (GSDM).
The Notre Dame Educational Center (NDEC) Dental Health Fair offered health promotion, education, age appropriate activities, and referrals to NDEC students. Volunteers gave oral health screenings to 26 attendees of the fair. The event was organized by ASDA Community Outreach Co-Chairs Ingy Alhelawe DMD 15 and Neelam Shah DMD 14, in collaboration with Oral Health Promotion Director Kathy Lituri. GSDM volunteers have held this event biannually for several years.
Founded in 1860, NDEC is a comprehensive adult educational center, which offers many resources for immigrants. Among the programs offered by NDEC are English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes, a high school diploma program, and a literacy program. They also offer support services, such as career counseling, immigration counseling, tutoring services, and education counseling.
“It was a great event with many participants from NDEC and ASDA volunteers,” said Shah.
The GSDM volunteers were: Ingy Alhelawe DMD 15, Sana Banday AS 15, Yousef Behbehani DMD 16, Rubbiya Charania DMD 16, Justine Karanian DMD 15, Shireen Khan AS 15, Michael Lee DMD 15, Linda Linsinbigler DMD 15, Kathy Lituri, Monica Schmidt DMD 17, Neelam Shah DMD 14, and Jake Ward (pre-dental).
Dean Jeffrey W. Hutter said, “Thank you to Kathy Lituri and all the volunteers that worked to make the School’s outreach at the Notre Dame Educational Center an enduring success.” He continued, “It is through efforts like this that the Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine succeeds in its mission of excellence in community service.”
Submitted by GSDM Communications
On Saturday, May 17, members of the BUSM Class of 2014 gathered to celebrate their graduation from medical school. Congratulations, Grads! View the pics on Facebook
The 167th Boston University School of Medicine commencement opened with an academic procession of 300 members of the faculty lining up on either side of the Class of 2014 to welcome them into the community of scientists and physicians. The ceremony, held at the Agganis arena on May 17, was a celebration of achievement and commitment to medical research and caring for patients.
“We gather together today to publically recognize and celebrate the credentials that these degree candidates have earned, a major life transition,” said Dean Karen Antman, MD. “I speak for the faculty in saying that it has been a great privilege to work with you. You are smart and committed, resilient and adaptive.”
The degrees earned by the Class of 2014 included 52 PhDs, 157 MDs, 12 MD-PhDs, 10 MD-MPHs, and six graduates who received an MSc.
“It has been said that ‘life is what happens when you are otherwise making plans,’” said U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Jonathan Woodson, MD, who delivered the commencement address. “I have found this to be true time and again, and it expresses the need in life to expect the unexpected. Each of you should be prepared to negotiate around obstacles even as you keep your eye on the prize or the long range goals you have set for yourself. It is important to understand that deviations are the friction points in life when we learn the most about ourselves and we grow.
Woodson asked the parents of the graduates to stand to be recognized for their support and dedication that helped make their children’s accomplishments possible.
Speaking for her fellow doctoral students, Ariana Harris, PhD, noted, “To solve the mysteries of the world, we need each and everyone one of us to contribute. In a little while we will received our academic hoods and you will hear the titles of our individual projects, getting a sense of how different they are. This is what makes the scientific community amazing. There is so much to learn and so many of us are eager to figure it out. I am confident that whatever careers we pursue as individuals, our thirst for knowledge will continue. We use our scientific training every day. We search for logic, reason and evidence that support our thoughts and beliefs.”
Referring to the white coats he and his classmates received upon entering BUSM, Brian Curry, MD, speaking on behalf of the medical students, said, “We received these as a symbol of our induction to a calling. We didn’t realize it at the time, they also symbolized the granting of a very special kind of power. One that, just like our white coats themselves, we have spent the better part of four years clumsily trying to grow into and will likely continue to do for the rest of our careers. My message to you, BUSM class of 2014, is simply this: Earn this power. Earn it, but recognize we will never own it. We only can ever be responsible stewards of this power our patients have entrusted to us. Though today marks the retiring of these short white coats, we should never allow ourselves to get fat and happy with the notion that we have somehow grown into them. We must earn it anew every day, with every patient, always.”
On Friday, May 16, the BUSM GMS Class of 2014 gathered in Metcalf Hall to celebrate commencement. See them on BUSM Facebook!
Celebrating Success! Division of Graduate Medical Sciences 2014 Commencement
“Your degree empowers you not just as scientists, researchers, clinicians, and health professionals but as critical thinkers, problem solvers and advocates,” said Associate Provost for the Division of Graduate Medical Sciences (GMS) Linda Hyman, PhD, to the 180 master’s degree graduates of 19 of the division’s programs. “This is a great day and we, your parents, friends, colleagues, teachers and mentors are here to celebrate you – your success, hard work, accomplishments, and your efforts to get to where you are today. I hope you leave BU with the knowledge that you have done well, and that you have the confidence to use your talents widely.”
The commencement ceremony, held on May 16 in Metcalf Hall of the George Sherman Union, featured three student speakers. “It has been an honor to be a part of this community of healing these past two years,” Jonathan Waldo, earning a master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling and Behavioral Medicine, told his fellow GMS graduates. “In reflecting on the nature of our field, I’ve recognized that when we invest our time in the lives of others we often gain insight into our own lives, our struggles, our hopes and our strengths. Our horizon beckons, and we are prepared.”
Brian Fry, receiving his Master of Arts in Medical Sciences degree, noted that, “As we move forward with the degrees we have earned today, we’re going to be a part of a rapidly changing landscape of health care, health policy and health sciences research. Many of the people and organizations that will desperately need to change will also be the most resistant to that change. It will be up to us to inspire action and lead by example. It is my hope that we welcome change and personal growth by chasing future, better versions of ourselves. We owe it to our future patients, clients and colleagues to never settle for anything but our very best.”
One of seven graduates of the GMS Bioimaging program and an accepted GMS doctoral student for the fall of 2014, Lauren Zajac reflected on her belief that art and science are the same, noting that in the Bioimaging program students work with images. “We behave as critics, curators, and artists. Interpreting a medical or biological image requires a set of skills similar to those required to interpret a work of art. Both artistic and biological images are representations, carry information and are the products of human experimentation. The process of creating art is a science, and the scientific pursuit of a question is truly an art. The two are intertwined and inseparable,” she said. “Great artists develop methods to produce the works we see in a gallery or museum. In a similar way, great scientists, through trial and error, develop methods to produce work that beautifully demonstrates a particular idea or model.”
Boston University’s Schools of Medicine, Public Health, Dental Medicine and the Division of Graduate Medical Sciences are proudly sponsoring the John McCahan Medical Campus Education Day on Thursday, May 22, 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. in the BUSM Instructional Building, Hiebert Lounge 14th Floor.
“Education Day is a fantastic opportunity to meet and network with innovative educators from across the entire medical campus,” explains BUSM Gross Anatomy Course Director Ann Zumwalt, PhD, who also serves as chairman of the event planning committee. ”The event showcases creative educational initiatives and is consistently inspiring and invigorating for BUMC educators.”
The purpose of the event is to showcase and enhance educational innovations, scholarship and research across the Boston University Medical Campus. All faculty, students, residents, fellows and staff of BUMC are invited to attend.
Register online: http://www.bumc.bu.edu/jmedday/ Registration by May 22 is required for workshops and lunch.
Keynote Lecture: (8:45 a.m.)
The Art and Science of Giving Feedback
Carole Pfeiffer, PhD
University of Connecticut Health Center
Dr. Pfeiffer is a Professor of Medicine and a sociologist who has worked in medical education for three decades. She is the Director of the Clinical Skills Assessment Program at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine and was a founding member of the Association of Standardized Patient Educators. She has a particular interest in communication skills in the clinical encounter.
Poster Session: Posters focus on themes of educational innovations, research and technology. Oral presentations and awards will be given for outstanding student, fellow/resident and faculty abstracts
Luncheon: Pre-registered attendees will be provided lunch. Register
Faculty Workshops: Pre-Registration required. Participants will learn about educational strategies, innovations, research and scholarship by attending the interactive workshops. See workshop details and registration online.
Contact: For more information, contact Liza Young, 638-4799 or firstname.lastname@example.org
John McCahan Medical Campus Education Day
- Thursday, May 22
- 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
- BUSM Instructional Building, Hiebert Lounge 14th Floor.
Ribbon Cuttings Mark Official Openings for Two New GSDM Department of Restorative Sciences & Biomaterials Labs
Two ribbon cutting ceremonies marked the official opening of two new laboratory spaces for the Department of Restorative Sciences & Biomaterials at Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine (GSDM) in March. One of the new labs is located on the Second Floor of the Evans Biomedical Research Center at 650 Albany St. (X-2) and the other is on the Fifth Floor of the Housman Medical Research Center at 780 Harrison Ave. (R-5).
The Department of Restorative Sciences & Biomaterials at GSDM is at the forefront of evaluating and developing materials for computerized fabrication of restorations. The faculty has developed new concepts and techniques for analyzing the interaction between biomaterials and cells at the molecular and genetic levels. The department is strategically positioned to create, analyze and test novel synthetic materials for tissue replacement and prosthetic therapy.
The ceremonies began at the X-2 laboratory space, where Dean Jeffrey W. Hutter led a ribbon cutting with Dr. Karen Antman, Provost of Boston University Medical Campus (BUMC) and Dean of the Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM); Dr. Ronald Corley, Associate Provost for Research at BUMC and Professor and Chair of Microbiology at BUSM; Dr. Dan Nathanson, Professor and Chair of the Department of Restorative Sciences & Biomaterials; Dr. Maria Kukuruzinska, Associate Dean for Research and Professor in the Department of Molecular & Cell Biology; and Dr. Lee Chou, Professor of Biomaterials in the Department of Restorative Sciences & Biomaterials.
The guests and dignitaries then walked over to R-5, where Dean Hutter led a second ribbon cutting with Provost Antman; Associate Provost Corley; Dr. Kukuruzinska; Dr. Nathanson; and Dr. Russell Giordano, Associate Professor in the Department of Restorative Sciences & Biomaterials and Director of Biomaterials. Prior to cutting the ribbon, Dean Hutter, Dr. Nathanson, and Provost Antman each briefly addressed the attendees.
Dean Hutter said, “Our Department of Restorative Sciences & Biomaterials proudly conducts basic science and applied research; trains pre- and post-doctoral students and residents in research methodology and biomaterials; and educates dental students with respect to novel materials and procedures that may improve patient care.” He continued, “I know that these new research laboratories will only add to the quality of our research and the education we are able to provide our students and residents.”
Submitted by GSDM Communications.
Benjamin Wolozin, MD, PhD, professor of pharmacology and neurology, was awarded the Alzheimer’s Association Zenith Fellows Award, a $450,000 grant dispersed over three years. Initiated in 1991, the award provides support for cutting edge basic science or biomedical research that addresses fundamental problems related to early detection, etiology pathogenesis, treatment and/or prevention of Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
The Wolozin Lab won the award with its proposal “It Takes TIA to Tangle: The Role of RNA Binding Proteins in AD.” The lab already has discovered a RNA binding protein that induces tau misfolding, one of the essential steps that leads to cognitive loss in AD. This award will allow the Wolozin Lab to experimentally induce the misfolding, investigate the factors that regulate the misfolding and in the future, potentially design therapeutics to prevent the misfolding.
“Dr. Wolozin’s investigation represents the exciting and promising research that is very much needed if we are to eventually find effective treatments for Alzheimer’s. For the more than five million Americans with Alzheimer’s, we are pleased to be a partner in that work,” said Jim Wessler, president/CEO Alzheimer’s Association, MA/NH Chapter.