By Lisa Brown

May 13 Fifth Annual Lynne Stevens Memorial Lecture

May 6th, 2014 in Uncategorized

“Trauma Informed Services: Implications for Healthcare Providers and Systems”

Carole Warshaw

Carole Warshaw

Carole Warshaw, MD
Director, National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma and Mental Health
Executive Director, Domestic Violence Mental Health Policy Initiative

Tuesday, May 13
Noon-1 p.m.
BUSM Instructional Building, L-110

This annual memorial lecture is in honor of Lynne Stevens, LICSW, BCD (1946-2009), the director of the Responding to Violence Against Women Program and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Family Medicine. She was a clinician, activist and researcher who worked locally, nationally, and internationally, specializing in evaluation of the quality of care offered to women who were victims of violence.

Attendees are cordially invited for lunch at 11:45 a.m. and a Q & A discussion from 1-2 p.m. with Dr. Warshaw following the lecture.

State Medicaid Cuts Mean More Emergency Department Visits, Higher Costs for Safety-Net Hospital

May 2nd, 2014 in Uncategorized

Judith Jones

Judith Jones

According to a study released April 17 in the American Journal of Public Health, dental-related Emergency Department (ED) visits increased up to 14 percent following Massachusetts Medicaid cuts.

Findings are based on data from Boston Medical Center, an urban safety-net hospital in Boston’s South End.

In this retrospective study of existing data, researchers looked at dental-related ED visits and costs for three years before and two years after Massachusetts Health Care Reform, which reduced Medicaid coverage for adult dental care in July 2010. The study looked at adults 21 and older and ED use from July 1, 2007 to June 30, 2012.

“Dental-related ED visits increased two percent the first year and 14 percent the second year after Medicaid cuts,” said Dr. Judith Jones, one of the study’s authors and Director of the Center for Clinical Research at Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine. “Percentage increases were highest among older adults, minorities, and persons receiving charity care, Medicaid, and Medicare.”

Related costs of care rose significantly, too. The average cost per patient per visit increased seven percent in 2010–2011 and 27 percent in 2011–2012.

The study found that most people using the ED for dental care reported caries (cavities) and soft tissue issues, conditions that are best treated in the dentist’s office.

In short, “Use of EDs for dental care points to an inappropriate use of resources and lack of continuity of dental care,” according to Jones.

“The findings highlight the need for primary dental care among the poor, racial/ethnic minorities, and adults of all ages, especially older adults.”

The idea for the study came from Dr. Pushkar Mehra, chair of the Department of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, who noted that, “after MassHealth Dental for adults was reduced, the residents in the BU/BMC Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery program were spending more time in the ED seeing patients with dental needs.”

Dean Jeffrey W. Hutter added, “I am proud of the leading role the Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine is taking in identifying and addressing access to care issues in the state of Massachusetts through our research, in our Patient Treatment Centers, and at our Dental Health Center locations.”

Massachusetts Health Care Reform cut Medicaid spending on adult dental care by nearly 50 percent—from $139.4 million/year from July 1, 2007 to June 30, 2010, to $67.2 million/year from July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2012. In 2012, Medicaid partially restored dental care coverage for adults in Massachusetts. The study authors recommend further research to determine whether ED visits declined as a result.

Additional authors include Drs. Martha Neely, Lillelenny Santana Gutierrez, and Sharron Rich, MPH.

Submitted by GSDM Communications.

Gerard Doherty, MD, Elected President of American Association of Endocrine Surgeons

April 28th, 2014 in Uncategorized

Gerard Doherty

Gerard Doherty

Gerard Doherty, MD, chair of the Department of Surgery at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and chief of Surgery at Boston Medical Center (BMC) and has been elected as President of the American Association of Endocrine Surgeon (AAES). He will serve as President through 2015.

As president, Doherty will preside at council assemblies and the annual members’ assembly. He will appoint members to all committees, serve as an ex-officio member of each, appoint successors to open positions, and deliver the 2015 Presidential Address.

Endocrine surgery is the discipline of surgical management of endocrine disorders, including the understanding of the disease process, and comprehensive care of surgical endocrine disease of the neck and abdomen. The AAES is dedicated to the science and art of endocrine surgery, and maintenance of the highest standards in clinical practice.

“Being chosen by my colleagues to fulfill this role is a distinct honor. The AAES has been my professional home throughout my career, and I admire the many achievements that we have made as a group to improve the care of patients, to advance the field, and to train the next generation of practitioners.”

Doherty’s clinical focus is endocrine oncology and comprises surgical diseases of the thyroid, parathyroid, endocrine pancreas and adrenal glands, as well as the surgical management of multiple endocrine neoplasia (MEN) syndromes.

Prior to coming to BUSM and BMC in 2012, Doherty spent a decade as chief of General Surgery at the University of Michigan Health System. He is the immediate past-president of the Michigan Chapter of the American College of Surgeons and has held multiple leadership positions in national and international professional groups, including the Board of Directors of the American Thyroid Association.

A graduate of Holy Cross and Yale School of Medicine, Doherty completed his residency at the UC-San Francisco, including Medical Staff Fellowship at the National Cancer Institute. He joined the faculty at Washington University School of Medicine in 1993 and became professor of Surgery there in 2001.

Regenerative Medicine Generates Hope

April 23rd, 2014 in Uncategorized

Egos in BU center take a backseat to sharing, progress, and promise

 

In the video above, CReM founders Darrell Kotton, Gustavo Mostoslavsky, and George Murphy discuss how they use iPS cells to study disease development, conduct drug screenings, and eventually to correct genetic mutations, with the goal of producing healthy tissues and organs for transplantation. Photo by Jackie Ricciardi

“Our mission is to decrease the burden of human suffering on the planet, help patients, and advance new knowledge.” —Darrell Kotton

With the motto Advancing Science to Heal the World the BU stem cell scientists who founded the Center for Regenerative Medicine (CReM) could be pegged as starry-eyed idealists or scientific superheroes. Or perhaps a bit of both.

CReM codirectors Darrell Kotton, Gustavo Mostoslavsky, and George Murphy have established themselves as venturesome researchers who are willing to share their discoveries with almost anyone. And they do it for free—bucking the prevailing trend to patent, publish, and protect scientific breakthroughs. The trio’s “open source biology” is just one of the things they teach to the next generation of stem cell researchers at CReM.

Open source biology can seem antithetical to scientists in an extremely competitive field. One young researcher training at CReM recently approached Kotton, a School of Medicine professor of medicine, seeking advice on how to answer an outside request for a vial of stem cells that took several years and hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal grants to develop. The obvious answer, the trainee assumed, was to tell the researcher to wait until the discovery was published.

Kotton saw it differently. “Our mission is to decrease the burden of human suffering on the planet, help patients, and advance new knowledge,” Kotton reminded him. “If this competitor of ours has the same goal, then we’re obligated to share this cell vial with them, because that’s going to achieve our mission.…which is not to get credit and to stroke our egos.”

A naïve response? “Here’s the thing that nobody talks about,” says Kotton. “If you behave in this way, people in our community quickly get the idea that the BU-BMC CReM are the good guys of science. At some point, the equation gets so lopsided that people almost feel embarrassed that they’re not sharing with you and so they tell you stuff, and the whole field starts to move forward.”

In fact, CReM founders say that increasing numbers of researchers are asking CReM to collaborate on grants, and foundations have begun to recognize that funding a CReM project very probably means that resulting knowledge, expertise, and reagents will be shared with other academic or nonprofit laboratories without restriction or exclusivity.

“I can’t emphasize enough how unique that was for the community,” says Mostoslavsky, a MED assistant professor of gastroenterology. “We have dozens of emails that testify to that, saying, ‘I must tell you this is the first time in my 30 years of being a scientist that someone replied and sent me stuff the same week of asking for it.’”

Still, Mostoslavsky says, there is a “fine balance that is not easy to achieve” between freely sharing their work and protecting it once research has advanced to the clinical stage. “That is a major undertaking,” he says. “It’s very expensive—no academic institution can support it—so we do need a company to move forward,” which also means they’ll need patented protection of intellectual property.

Stem cell scientists Gustavo Mostoslavsky (from left), Darrell Kotton, and George Murphy founded the Center for Regenerative Medicine with the motto: Advancing Science to Heal the World. Photo by Jackie Ricciardi

Stem cell scientists Gustavo Mostoslavsky (from left), Darrell Kotton, and George Murphy founded the Center for Regenerative Medicine with the motto: Advancing Science to Heal the World. Photo by Jackie Ricciardi

Scientific soul mates

Kotton, Mostoslavsky, and Murphy met as Harvard postdoctoral fellows in the lab of renowned stem cell scientist Richard Mulligan, who is famous for his rigorous research and forthright style of mentorship. “It was more of a sink-or-swim methodology, where you really had to prove yourself,” says Murphy, a MED assistant professor of medicine. “Coming out of there, we were battle-tested and bombproof.”

The three gravitated toward each other as “scientific soul mates,” Mostoslavsky says. Long after fellow researchers had left the lab, they would gather for late-night pizza and animated discussions, probing one another’s data to test the strength of their work. “We were each other’s worst critics as well as biggest fans,” Kotton says. It was around that time that they began toying with the idea of conducting science their way—in a meticulous, yet open and collegial manner.

After completing his Harvard fellowship, in 2006 Kotton returned to MED, where he had done a fellowship previously, to launch his own lung stem cell lab. He confesses to “putting psychological pressure” on his friends to follow him to BU, and he is not at all unhappy that it worked. In 2008, Mostoslavsky came aboard, creating his own lab. He was followed soon after by Murphy.

Several events conspired to launch CReM on the Medical Campus. The founders discovered a strong advocate in David Coleman, Wade Professor and chair of the MED department of medicine, who emphasized the importance of a robust research presence on the Medical Campus. Kotton, Mostoslavsky, and Murphy had followed closely the rapid advance of stem cell biology since 2006, when scientists at the University of Kyoto developed induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS) by reprogramming an adult differentiated cell. A tinkerer at heart, Mostoslavsky was fascinated by the Kyoto process, but felt he could go one better. In 2008, he developed a more efficient tool to generate stem cells, called the stem cell cassette (STEMCCA). BU patented the tool, which has become industry standard.

In 2010, with STEMCCA and multiple publications under their belts, the trio established a virtual Center for Regenerative Medicine, with its own website, seminar series, and iPS cell bank carrying branded labels. All this was accomplished while working in separate labs, with Murphy’s and Mostoslavsky’s divided by floors within a building, and Kotton’s located across the street.

As the number of stem cell biologists, physician-researchers, and biomedical engineers grew on both BU campuses, the affectionately labeled CReM brothers felt it was time to pitch a physical center to BU President Robert A. Brown, who firmly backed the idea. Boston University and Boston Medical Center invested jointly in the endeavor, and in November 2013, CReM opened in its newly remodeled space on the second floor of 670 Albany Street.

In the video above, CReM founders discuss how they use induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells in their labs.

Clinical trial in a test tube

CReM’s mission is to advance stem cell research and regenerative medicine for the treatment patients, in particular those at BMC, with diseases such as cystic fibrosis, emphysema, sickle cell anemia, and amyloidosis. Investigators collect blood or skin cell samples, usually from patients at the Alpha-1 Center, the Center of Excellence in Sickle Cell Disease, and the Amyloid Center, and reprogram them into iPS cells.

“Any cell can be reprogrammed,” says Mostoslavsky. “It’s a true biological rejuvenation. The cells really go back in time.” Researchers now have the ability to coax iPS cells—which uniformly carry a patient’s genetic mutations—into their desired cell line, such as lung, liver, or blood. (CReM’s iPS cell bank stores at least 13 such cell lineages.) Mostoslavsky says the resulting cells are “still a work in progress,” compared to those found in nature, but the process allows researchers to watch how an iPS-derived lung cell develops the early stages of cystic fibrosis. What took years to unfold in a patient takes days in the lab.

CReM investigators can screen drugs against patient cell lines to determine which medications are most effective for a specific genetic mutation—the “clinical trial in a test tube,” as Murphy calls it. “In theory,” he says, “you could develop therapies that are molded specifically for a particular patient with a particular disease.”

Developmental biology and drug screenings are now CReM’s bread and butter, but its founders keep in mind what they call their long-term “Apollo projects,” such as genetically engineering iPS cells to correct patients’ mutations. The resulting healthy cells could be cultured and multiplied to regenerate a transplantable organ that wouldn’t be rejected by the patient’s body. That particular medical breakthrough would mean Kotton’s wife would need to look for a new job. Camille Kotton is a transplant infectious disease physician at Massachusetts General Hospital, and Kotton jokes that his “goal is to put her out of business.”

Kotton has been collaborating with a team of MGH researchers using a technology called lung decellularization and recellularization, which strips the organ of its cells and repopulates it with genetically engineered copies that lack the patient’s original mutation. Theoretically, the reprogrammed cells could multiply, fill the lung’s scaffolding, and someday be used for transplantation.

Kotton, who thinks it will be possible eventually to re-create lungs via 3-D printing technology, is collaborating on this with Christopher Chen, a College of Engineering professor of biomedical engineering.

Meanwhile, Murphy dreams of brewing blood. “The human body makes 2.5 million red blood cells every second of every day,” he says. “How does one contend with that from a research platform?” He thinks they will be able to “harness molecular cues” that exponentially increase the amount of artificial blood they can produce in vitro. Such a discovery could eliminate the need for blood donation in the United States and—even more urgent—in Third World countries, where the practice is not widely accepted.

Another of Murphy’s Apollo projects is boutique blood, or the development of small batches that could be produced for people who suffer from sickle cell anemia or the blood disorder beta thalassemia and require transfusions of rare blood types.

CReM technician Ryan Mulhern and Clarissa Koch (MED’16) pipette cell samples under ventilation hoods in CReM’s high-tech facilities. Photo by Jackie Ricciardi

CReM technician Ryan Mulhern and Clarissa Koch (MED’16) pipette cell samples under ventilation hoods in CReM’s high-tech facilities. Photo by Jackie Ricciardi

Researcher as healer

In the past four years, word has spread about the CReM founders’ work to the point that as well as the emails from potential collaborators who want access to their work, they now get email from patients who either suffer from the particular disorders they study or have children who do.

The latter are heartrending. “‘We will sign whatever you want us to sign, and we don’t care how experimental your platform is, we would still like to use it to save our kid,’” Murphy recalls reading. He explains that although his team is working hard to find new treatments, right now there are no current stem cell therapies for their child’s condition. Asked when they might be available, he replies, “‘Sooner than you think.’ That’s vague, but it’s hopeful. And it also is the way that we see things.”

Kotton likes to tell a story that underscores CReM’s potential. He and his colleagues were approached about a child who suffered from severe cardiac arrhythmias. Their labs developed iPS cells from the boy’s skin cells and differentiated them into heart muscle cells, then sent them to researchers in New York City, who screened them against a series of drug regimens until they found a winning combination. After three months on the medication, the boy’s arrhythmia decreased from 100 incidents per month to zero.

“This success story represents, I believe, the first human being on planet Earth to be helped by the new iPS cell technology,” Kotton says. “If there is one patient who can benefit from these cells, then surely there are myriad more for generations to come.”

This BU Today story was written by Leslie Friday. Videos by Joe Chan

Researchers Cite Experts’ Findings of NEIDL Safety

April 17th, 2014 in Uncategorized

Arguments counter city councilman’s attempt to ban Biosafety Level 4 research

CAPTION Boston City Councillor Charles Yancey addresses the City Council during last night’s hearing at City Hall, where he sought support for his proposal to ban Biosafety Level 4 research at BU’s National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories; next to him is Councillor Michael Flaherty. Photos by Cydney Scott

Boston City Councillor Charles Yancey addresses the City Council during last night’s hearing at City Hall, where he sought support for his proposal to ban Biosafety Level 4 research at BU’s National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories; next to him is Councillor Michael Flaherty. Photos by Cydney Scott

In a discussion whose outcome may determine if Boston University’s National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories (NEIDL) will conduct research involving pathogens such as the Ebola and Marburg viruses, speakers for and against research at BioSafety Level 4 (BSL-4) faced off last night at a lengthy Boston City Council hearing on a proposed ordinance to ban that level of research in the city. The ordinance was put forth by Councilman Charles Yancey, who told the standing-room-only crowd that he feared that BSL-4 research could pose a serious risk to the health and safety of the community.

While Yancey and several opponents of BSL-4 research tried to persuade the city council to support the ban, proponents, including Barbara Ferrer (SPH’88), director of the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC), and M. Anita Barry director of the BPHC Infectious Diseases Bureau, argued that reliable safety precautions have been put in place. Representatives of the biotech industry also spoke in favor of BSL-4 research, maintaining that banning BSL-4 research would inhibit the growth of life sciences research in Boston.

Ferrer told the council that Boston has the toughest safety regulations on infectious disease research of any city in the country. She said that while there are 15 labs in the country that conduct research at BSL-4, Boston is the only city whose public health authorities regulate the permitting and inspection of the labs. She said the nine labs in Boston that currently conduct research at Biosafety Level 3 are also strictly regulated by the Public Health Commission. Ferrer told the council that her agency has been preparing for BSL-4 research since 2006 and has trained hundreds of police officers and firefighters to respond to potential emergencies.

Gloria Waters, a BU vice president and associate provost of research, told the council that she cares very much about NEIDL not only in her BU role, but also as a person whose family lives in the area. “BU and Boston Medical Center attract researchers and students who want to make the city a safer place to live,” said Waters. “No research will be classified, and details of all research are open for public consumption.”

Ronald Corley, NEIDL associate director and a BU School of Medicine professor and chair of microbiology, emphasized the promise of a research lab that can bring together expertise in many disciplines, such as chemistry, microbiology, and engineering.

“The great discoveries in science these days are coming from these kinds of multidisciplinary efforts,” he said. “The University’s mission is educating the next generation of scientists.” Corley said the mission of NEIDL is to develop vaccines, diagnoses, and therapeutics for emerging infectious diseases. “The NEIDL is not going to produce biological weapons, and it is not going to do classified research,” he said.

CAPTION Barbara Ferrer (SPH’88), director of the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC), testifies at last night’s NEIDL hearing at Boston City Hall; at left is M. Anita Barry, director of the BPHC Infectious Diseases Bureau, and Boston Police Department Lieutenant Paul O’Connor.

Barbara Ferrer (SPH’88), director of the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC), testifies at last night’s NEIDL hearing at Boston City Hall; at left is M. Anita Barry, director of the BPHC Infectious Diseases Bureau, and Boston Police Department Lieutenant Paul O’Connor.

Thomas Robbins, chief of the BU Police Department and executive director of public safety at BU, described the elaborate procedure designed to transport pathogens to NEIDL. He said every delivery is tracked with two GPS devices, one on the delivery vehicle and one in the package containing the pathogen. Robbins also talked about extensive background checks, including psychological screening and drug screening, of all NEIDL employees.

Opponents of BSL-4 research at the hearing argued that safety studies of the lab conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) were inadequate, and that NEIDL was constructed in “an environmental justice community” without sufficient dialogue with residents. Roxbury-based community activist Claire Allen claimed that BU failed to adequately communicate with local residents during the initial planning stages of the NEIDL construction. “We have never tried to compete with BU,” she said. “We are the most polite protestors in the world.”

Mel King, a longtime community leader and former executive director of the New Urban League of Greater Boston, said the community surrounding NEIDL was never asked if it wanted a biological research lab in its backyard. King, who repeatedly referred to the lab as a “bio-terror lab,” called for ending all research at all biosafety levels.

Mary Crotty, a nurse attorney for the Massachusetts Nurses Association, said she had opposed NEIDL since 2005, and feared that local hospitals were not prepared to handle a “surge” of medical emergencies that might result from an accident.

Construction of the $200 million NEIDL facility was completed in September 2008, but controversy and litigation have kept much of the building’s 192,000 square feet of laboratory space closed. The lab is part of a national network of secure facilities dedicated to the development of diagnostics, vaccines, and treatments to combat emerging and reemerging infectious diseases.

Last year, after legal challenges to a NIH assessment of risks associated with BSL-3 and BSL-4 research, US District Court Chief Judge Patti Saris ruled that a Final Supplementary Risk Assessment was sound, and that such research could be conducted safely at the BU Medical Campus site. The risk assessment examined a series of scenarios and potential consequences of procedural failures, including containment system failures and malevolent acts.

In a 76-page opinion, Saris found that “the NIH provides sufficient scientific support for its ultimate conclusions that the risks to the public are extremely low to not reasonably foreseeable, and the differences between the Boston location and the suburban and rural sites are not significant. In light of the benefits of placing the lab in an urban area like Boston, which provides opportunity for expert medical research collaboration, and the low risk of harm to the public, NIH’s decision is rational.”

In March of last year, the Massachusetts Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs gave approval for the lab to conduct research at Biosafety Level 3 and Biosafety Level 4. Since then the lab has received additional required approval for BSL-3 research, and scientists at the lab are now gearing up for BSL-3 tuberculosis research that could someday stem the disease’s lung lesions in humans and prevent TB transmission by coughing. Research at Biosafety Level 4 requires a wait for further approvals from state courts, the Boston Public Health Commission, and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

An editorial in the April 13 Boston Globe advised readers that passage of Yancey’s ordinance “would be to overestimate any danger that the biolab poses to nearby residents—and to retreat from the singular role that Boston plays as the world’s greatest repository of life-saving expertise.”

The Globe cited the elaborate security measures that protect the lab, including perimeter fencing and walls that would resist truck bombs, auxiliary generators, a requirement that scientists who work in BSL-4 biohazard areas clean up after themselves and assist with medical emergencies that occur in biohazard areas, and elaborate biometric security systems in high-level laboratory areas that require the presence of two scientists, “reducing the possibility that one scientist working alone with pathogens could spirit a vial outside.”

The newspaper also pointed out that Yancey “had been invited more than once to tour the lab but hasn’t yet done so.”

The Boston City Council is expected to decide whether or not to vote on Yancey’s proposed ordinance in the coming weeks.

This BU Today story was written by Art Jahnke. Amy Laskowski did additional reporting for this article.

 

BU Community Performs Impromptu Concert for BMC Caregivers

April 15th, 2014 in Uncategorized

Concert crowdApproximately 40 students, staff and faculty from Boston University’s Charles River and Medical Campuses performed an impromptu lunchtime concert today for the caregivers at Boston Medical Center to commemorate the anniversary of Marathon tragedy.

Choir singing

Choir singing

The event was personal; some of the musicians were friends with BU student Lu Lingzi, who died from injuries sustained from the bombings and others who were injured at the Finish Line, many from the College of Fine Arts.

The performance, which lasted approximately 15 minutes, included an instrumental performance of Danzon no. 2 by composer Arturo Marquez and a musical and choral performance of “You Raise Me Up.” Watch the video.

According to Moisès Fernández Via, Arts Outreach Program director, “The goal of the event was to provide the BMC community with an unexpected moment of collective shared beauty.”

April 17 BUMC Earth Day Festival

April 10th, 2014 in Uncategorized

All BU Medical Campus faculty, staff and students are encouraged to stop by Talbot Green for the fun, interactive BUMC Earth Day Festival.

  • Bring hard-to-recycle items: batteries, Styrofoam, printer ink and toner cartidges, etc.
  • Bring your bike for a tune-up and free lights
  • Bring your old clothes and help us reach our 100 ton donation goal of clothing to Goodwill

Cheer on BMC’s Marathon Team
At noon there will be a Team BMC pep rally for the 104 BMC runners participating in the 2014 Boston Marathon. Don’t miss free food (while supplies last)! Test drive a new Lincoln automobile, receive a gift card and BMC will receive a donation from Lincoln.

BUMC Earth Day Festival

  • Thursday, April 17
  • 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
  • Talbot Green

Study Seeks to Understand Factors Associated with the Use of Harsh Discipline by Mothers Who Have Experienced Trauma

April 8th, 2014 in Uncategorized

It is known that the use of harsh discipline, such as hitting or screaming at a child, is a risk factor for child abuse and is more common in families where the mothers themselves have a history of trauma. Now researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and Boston Medical Center (BMC) have found that such mothers feel most stressed by repetitive child behaviors and report using harsh discipline to try to prevent future behavior problems. The findings, which currently appear online in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, may lead to interventions to promote positive discipline and prevent child maltreatment.

In order to better understand the daily stressors experienced by low-income mothers who had a past history of trauma, the researchers conducted in-depth, one-on-one qualitative interviews with 30 mothers with children under the age of three. After analyzing the data, the researchers identified themes that may increase the effectiveness and relevance of interventions to promote positive discipline and prevent child maltreatment with high-risk families.

“We see our study as a first step in a process to develop specific intervention models to promote positive parenting and prevent child maltreatment in families where mothers have suffered significant trauma,” explained lead author Caroline Kistin, MD, an assistant professor of pediatrics at BUSM and a pediatrician at BMC. “Our next step is to identify supports that will allow mothers to cope with stress without resorting to harsh discipline or leaving their children unsupervised for prolonged periods; and explicitly address parents’ long-term goals for their children and the impact of different discipline approaches,” she added.

Funding for this study was provided by the Joel and Barbara Alpert Endowment for the Children of the City and KL2TR000158-05.

BUSM and BMC Investigating Genetics of Parkinson’s Disease

April 3rd, 2014 in Uncategorized

Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative seeks individuals of Ashkenazi Jewish background for study to speed efforts toward a cure

genesResearchers at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) along with Boston Medical Center (BMC) will study individuals with genetic mutations associated with Parkinson’s disease (PD) as one of 32 clinical sites of the Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI), a large-scale biomarker study sponsored by The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.

PPMI will enroll participants with a known mutation of the LRRK or SNCA [alpha-synuclein] gene. Previous research has shown these mutations are associated with Parkinson’s disease, and account for a greater number of PD cases among certain ethnic populations and families, notably the LRRK2 mutation in those of Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jewish, Basque and North African Berber descent. The insight researchers glean from these research volunteers will fortify current efforts to develop a disease-modifying therapy, something that currently eludes the field.

“Studying individuals with genetic mutations associated with Parkinson’s can accelerate our research toward a PD biomarker and more effective treatments,” said Samuel Frank, MD, principal investigator at BUSM/BMC. “Although known genetic mutations currently account for only five to 10 percent of all Parkinson’s cases, this population can provide invaluable information about the intricacies of the disease for all patients.”

PPMI is studying clinical and imaging data and biological samples of people with a genetic mutation to identify biomarkers and speed clinical trials. PPMI will enroll 250 people with the LRRK2 mutation and Parkinson’s and 250 people with the mutation but without Parkinson’s. Since the SNCA mutation is rarer, the study is recruiting 50 people with Parkinson’s and the mutation and 50 people with the SNCA mutation but without PD. These participants will be followed for five years.

Interested individuals can visit www.michaeljfox.org/ppmi/genetics or call 617-638-7745. PPMI is particularly interested in testing individuals of Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jewish descent with Parkinson’s or with a relative with the disease. The LRRK2 mutation also accounts for more PD cases in people of North African Arab Berber or Basque descent. Study sites will recruit people with the rarer SNCA mutation through familial connections.

A New Breed of Cancer Researcher

March 31st, 2014 in Uncategorized

Creator::XCRSYDEN-0.xBoston University’s Center for Nanoscience and Nanobiotechnology was highlighted in a March 28 story “A New Breed of Cancer Researcher” in the journal Science.  Learn more about the emerging area of cancer research and how interdisciplinary training at centers like BU’s are playing an important role by clicking here.