Category: Uncategorized

BUSM and BMC Welcome Two New Surgeons

July 11th, 2014 in Uncategorized

Dr. Teviah Sachs

Dr. Teviah Sachs

Surgeons Teviah Sachs, MD, MPH, and Jeffrey J. Siracuse, MD, are joining Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and Boston Medical Center (BMC).

Sachs, who is board certified by the American Board of Surgery, was named assistant professor of surgery at BUSM and an attending surgeon in the section of surgical oncology at BMC.

After receiving his medical degree from New York Medical College, Sachs completed a residency in general surgery at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and a fellowship in surgical oncology at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, MD. His clinical interests include alimentary tract surgery with a special focus in hepatic and pancreatobiliary disease. He attained a Masters of Public Health in clinical effectiveness and his research pertains to surgical outcomes and education.

Dr. Jeffrey Siracuse

Dr. Jeffrey Siracuse

Siracuse, board certified by the American Board of Surgery, is also taking on the role of assistant professor of surgery and assistant professor of radiology at BUSM and an attending surgeon in the division of vascular and endovascular surgery at BMC.

He received his medical degree from New York Medical College and completed his residency in general surgery at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Siracuse completed a research fellowship in the Harvard-Longwood Vascular Research Training Program and a clinical fellowship in vascular and endovascular surgery at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and Weill Cornell Medical College. His research and clinical interests include minimally invasive and open treatment of aortic aneurysms, critical limb ischemia, cerebrovascular disease, dialysis access, thoracic outlet syndrome and venous disease.


Faculty Couple Donate Collection of Rare and Historical Books to Medical Library

July 10th, 2014 in Uncategorized

Alumni Medical Library Director Mary Blanchard, John Noble, Ewa Kuligowska-Noble, and Dean Karen Antman.

Alumni Medical Library Director Mary Blanchard, John Noble, Ewa Kuligowska-Noble, and Dean Karen Antman.

At a ceremony to honor John Noble, MD, BUSM professor of general internal medicine and  Ewa Kuligowska-Noble, MD, BUSM professor of radiology, they stand in front of the bookcase that houses the collection of rare books assembled by Noble and donated by the couple to the BUSM Alumni Library.

“We are here today to celebrate two leadership careers at Boston University in radiology and medicine,” said Dean Karen Antman, MD. “We thank them for making this collection of rare and important titles available to our medical and graduate students to read from the original texts, realizing their historical context.”

The gift is a collection of unique and historical medical books from the Noble’s personal medical library. John Noble carefully selected these books during 35 years of service at BUSM. The collection includes rare Vesalius volumes, many works by and about William Osler, books on infectious diseases such as smallpox from the 1700s, books published as early as the 1500s, and textbooks edited by John Noble himself.

“The smartest thing we ever did was to come to Boston University, working with such a variety of people and caring for some of the most difficult patients,” said John Noble. “It has been a wonderful place to spend our lives. We are pleased to have this collection here in the Alumni Medical Library to give present and future generations the opportunity to see things from perspectives that are no longer easy to attain.”

It is important to John Noble that the books be placed in a highly visible location in the library, rather than stored in a locked archives room where they would not be seen and enjoyed.  Both he and his wife have expressed hope that their donation might inspire other physicians or faculty to donate additional materials, thus potentially helping to build an even more robust collection of historical medical texts.

“Building such an inspiring collection requires knowledge, passion and commitment,” said Mary Blanchard, director of the Alumni Medical Library. “This valuable collection sets a foundation and brings perspective to the entire BU medical campus community. We are deeply grateful to Dr. Noble and Dr. Kuligowska-Noble.”


BU Researchers Relate Arrests with HIV Risk Environment

July 9th, 2014 in Uncategorized

Practices used in policing injection drug users in Russia might contribute to HIV transmission and overdose mortality.

A study, conducted by researchers from Boston University Schools of Medicine and Public Health, in collaboration with St. Petersburg Pavlov State University, sought to discover the effect police arrests had on the health outcomes of a cohort of HIV-positive people with lifetime of injection drug use.

Those who were arrested by police were more likely to share needles—increasing HIV transmission—and to overdose, according to the study published in the Journal of the International AIDS Society. Their research also found no indication that police arrests reduce drug use.

“We already know that addressing individual risk behaviors is important in reducing HIV transmission among people who use drugs, who are most at risk for HIV infection,” said lead author Karsten Lunze, MD, MPH, DrPH, a BUSM assistant professor of medicine. “Our study adds that drug laws and policies, and the way they are enforced, are also important to prevent the spread of HIV.”

By linking the impact of police tactics with health outcomes of injection drug users, the researchers identified the need to create prevention programs for modifying individual behaviors and to address policing practices as part of the HIV risk environment.

“Instead of arresting people who use drugs, there should be more of a focus on facilitating access to treatment,” said Jeffrey Samet, MD, MA, MPH, a professor of medicine and community health sciences at BUSM and BUSPH who also led the study. “Public health and public safety working together can help address the increasing problem of HIV among people who use drugs.”

Further research needs to relate these findings to the operational environment of law enforcement and to understand how police interventions among injection drug users can improve, rather than worsen, the HIV risk environment, the researchers said.

The full text of the study: Punitive policing and associated substance use risks among HIV-positive people in Russia who inject drugs.

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Researchers Receive NIH Funding for Genetic Research in Alzheimer’s Disease

July 8th, 2014 in Uncategorized

Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) received major funding from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) as part of a national effort to identify rare genetic variants that may protect against and contribute to Alzheimer’s disease risk.

Sudha Seshadri

Sudha Seshadri

The four-year, $3 million grant, “Identifying Risk and Protective Variants for AD Exploring their Significance and Biology” is led by Sudha Seshadri, MD, professor of neurology at BUSM and a Senior Investigator at the Framingham Heart Study and for the Cohorts for Heart and Aging Research in Genomic Epidemiology (CHARGE) consortium. This project is linked to CHARGE projects at two other universities which all together received grants totaling more than $10 million. Other BU investigators who are part of the CHARGE project are Anita DeStefano, PhD, Adrienne Cupples, PhD, and Josee Dupuis, PhD, who are professors of biostatistics, and Honghuang Lin, PhD, assistant professor of medicine.

“As a neurologist treating patients with Alzheimer’s disease, it is very exciting to see the increased recognition, at a national level, of the need to find more effective preventive and therapeutic measures,” said Seshadri.

Alzheimer’s disease, a progressive neurodegenerative disorder, has become an epidemic that currently affects 5.2 million people in the United States with economic costs that are higher than those of heart disease or cancer. Available drugs only marginally affect disease severity and progression. While there is no way to prevent this devastating disease, the discovery of genetic risk factors for Alzheimer’s is bringing researchers closer to learning how the genes work together and to identifying the most effective intervention for the disease.

Genetics is a cornerstone of identifying targets for Alzheimer’s disease therapies. This movement began in 2011, when President Barack Obama signed into law the National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA), mandating support for Alzheimer’s research and health and long-term care services for affected individuals across all federal agencies. One of the first projects mandated by NAPA was the Alzheimer’s Disease Sequencing Project (ADSP). With this funding, CHARGE becomes a member of the National Institute of Aging-mandated Sequence Analysis Consortium, which also includes three National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) Large-Scale Sequencing Centers.

CHARGE investigators will analyze whole exome and whole genome sequence data generated from 6,000 subjects with Alzheimer’s disease and 5,000 elderly individuals who do not have Alzheimer’s disease. They also will study data from approximately 100 large families, mostly of Caribbean and Hispanic descent, that include multiple individuals with Alzheimer’s disease to identify rare genetic variants that either protect against or cause Alzheimer’s disease. They will also be contributing additional CHARGE data from over 11,000 subjects with information on genetic sequence and AD-related traits.

“AD currently has no effective treatment thus prevention is the primary strategy to combat this disease,” said Boston University School of Medicine Dean Karen Antman, MD. “This is an exciting opportunity for our faculty to develop novel approaches that might ultimately delay or prevent AD.”

CHARGE is a collaboration of an international group of investigators. Eric Boerwinkle, PhD at the University of Texas, Houston and Baylor College of Medicine and Ellen Wijsman, PhD at the University of Washington will lead other funded CHARGE projects. Cornelia van Duijn, PhD who is a consultant on behalf of Erasmus University in the Netherlands.

This research at Boston University is supported by the National Institute on Aging grants U01-AG049505.

Treat Patients with Addiction During and After Hospitalization

July 3rd, 2014 in Uncategorized

The results of a new study demonstrate that starting hospitalized patients who have an opioid (heroin) addiction on buprenorphine treatment in the hospital and seamlessly connecting them with an outpatient office based treatment program can greatly reduce whether they relapse after they are discharged.

The study shows the important role that providers play in offering these patients addiction treatment both while in the hospital and after – even if their primary reason for being in the hospital is not for their addiction.

In the study 139 hospitalized individuals with opioid addiction, who were not already in treatment, were randomized into two groups. One group received a tapered dose treatment of buprenorphine for withdrawal and referral information about community treatment programs and the other were initiated on buprenorphine, an opioid substitute proven to treat opioid addiction, along with referral to a primary care office-based buprenorphine treatment program. Buprenorphine, which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2002 for the treatment of opioid addiction, is taken orally and helps to curb opioid withdrawal symptoms.

Jane Liebschutz, the corresponding author on this study.

Jane Liebschutz, the corresponding author on this study.

Of those in the buprenorphine maintenance group, more than one third (37 percent) reported no illicit opioid/drug use for the month after they left the hospital compared to less than one in ten (nine percent) among the control group. These patients also reported, on average, fewer days of illicit drug use and continued to use less over the following six months. This effect was evident despite the fact that these patients did not initially come to the hospital seeking treatment for their addiction.

“Unfortunately, referral to substance abuse treatment after discharge is often a secondary concern of physicians caring for hospitalized patients,” said corresponding author Jane Liebschutz, MD, MPH, associate professor of medicine at BU School of Medicine and internist at Boston Medical Center. “However, our results show that we can have a marked impact on patient’s addiction by addressing it during their hospitalization.”

This study, which is published in JAMA – Internal Medicine, was done in collaboration with Butler Hospital in Rhode Island. Funding for this study was provided in part by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.


What Women Veterans Want When Dealing with Intimate Partner Violence

July 3rd, 2014 in Uncategorized

Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a significant health issue faced by women veterans, but little has been known up until now about their preferences for IPV-related care. A new study has found that most of these women support routine screening for IPV and want options, follow-up support, transparent documentation and Veterans Health Administration (VHA) and community resources. These findings appear in the journal Research in Nursing and Health. 

Although women of all socio-demographic groups are at risk for IPV, population-based research suggests that women veterans are at higher risk for IPV than non-veteran women. In order to better understand their attitudes and preferences regarding IPV screening and response issues, five focus groups were conducted with 24 female patients of the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) with and without a lifetime history of IPV.

Katherine Iverson, PhD“In general, we found that women veterans support routine IPV screening and comprehensive IPV-related care within the VHA,” explained corresponding author Katherine Iverson, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and a clinical research psychologist at the VA Boston Healthcare System and the VA’s National Center for PTSD. “As we move forward with routine IPV screening, it is important that these women are offered options in terms of what, how, when, and to whom to disclose and follow-up support. In addition, these women must be approached with sensitivity and connectedness with the understanding that different patients are in different stages of recovery.”

Overall, women indicated that the HITS screening tool [the four-item screening tool (Hurt/Insult/Threaten/Scream) tested by Iverson and her colleagues that can be used in under four minutes] could be useful in helping VHA providers identify women who have experienced IPV.  Using the existing clinical reminder dialogue system a notification could be imbedded into a patients’ electronic medical records (EMR’s) to use HITS to assess IPV, ensuring that screening is occurring. This would be similar to clinical EMRs for mammograms and pap smears.

The researchers point out that use of EMRs may be a potential barrier to disclose for some women because of privacy and confidentiality concerns. Study participants suggested that this barrier can be overcome by providers’ use of transparency with respect to documentation. For example, providers can talk with their patients about what they would like to document in the EMR and problem-solve any concerns the patients may raise. In addition, providers can discuss privacy protections in place at VHA and engage patients in conversations about the advantages and disadvantages of documentation. EMRs can also prompt providers to engage in other procedures that were recommended by participants in this study, such as offering information about VHA and community resources.

The researchers believe the VHA has a timely opportunity and is well-positioned to serve as a national model for the implementation of best practices for IPV screening and response. “By incorporating the recommendations expressed by women in this study, VHA and other health care providers may increase the likelihood of identifying IPV, improve patient satisfaction with care, connect veterans with the services they need, reduce healthcare costs to the patient and system at large, and ultimately improve the health and well-being of female veteran patients,” added Iverson.

This research was supported by the Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Health Administration, Health Services Research and Development (HSR&D) as part of Iverson’s HSR&D Career Development Award (CDA-2; 10-029) and the BUSM Lynne Stevens Award, which Iverson received in 2011.

To view the full study: Women Veterans’ Preferences for Intimate Partner Violence Screening and Response Procedures Within the Veterans Health Administration.

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BUSM’s Robert Stern Testifies Before Senate Committee on Aging

June 27th, 2014 in Uncategorized

Robert Stern

Robert Stern

Robert Stern, PhD, professor of neurology, neurosurgery, and anatomy & neurobiology at BU School of Medicine as well as co-founder of BU’s Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, testified before the U.S. Senate’s Special Committee on Aging at the June 25 hearing, “State of Play: Brain Injuries and Diseases of Aging.”

Stern, who is also Director of the Clinical Core of the BU Alzheimer’s Disease Center, gave an overview of the long-term consequences of repetitive brain trauma in athletes, in particular, chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE. CTE has been found in individuals, including youth, college, and professional contact sport athletes (including football, hockey, soccer, and rugby players), military service members exposed to blast trauma and other brain injuries, and others with a history of repetitive brain trauma.

He explained that although little is known about CTE what studies have shown thus far is that, in some individuals, early repetitive brain trauma triggers events in the brain leading to progressive destruction of the brain tissue including the build-up of an abnormal protein called tau, one of the abnormal proteins also seen in Alzheimer’s disease.

According to Stern, the ability to diagnose CTE during life is the next critical step in the study of CTE. He believes it will lead to the ability to answer important questions about this disease, such as: How common is CTE? What are the risk factors for CTE? Can it be prevented? How can we treat it? “At this point, we actually know very little about this disease, however one thing we do know about CTE is that every case of post-mortem diagnosed CTE has had one thing in common: a history of repetitive brain trauma,” Stern testified.

BUSM Faculty Urged to Participate in AAMC Faculty Engagement Survey

June 24th, 2014 in Uncategorized

BU School of Medicine is participating in the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) Faculty Forward Engagement Survey to benchmark our faculty members’ engagement levels with peer institutions, and to provide data for us to enhance our efforts to attract, retain, support and advance our faculty.

Who is eligible: All full time and part time faculty members at BUSM

When: June 24 launch

How: You will receive an email from the AAMC with a personalized link to the Survey

Confidentiality assured: The AAMC’s staff administers all aspects of the Survey

Please share your views candidly to help us understand how you view specific BUSM institutional policies and practices and prioritize key workplace issues that are important to our faculty.

For questions or concerns, contact Robina Bhasin.

Please participate in this important initiative!

BUSM Urologist Named President of American Urological Association

June 23rd, 2014 in Uncategorized

Richard Babayan, MD, professor and chair of Urology at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and chief of the department of urology at Boston Medical Center (BMC), has been elected president of the American Urological Association (AUA). He is the first Boston urologist to be elected national AUA president since 1988.

Dr. Richard Babayan

Dr. Richard Babayan

This three-part role begins May 2015 when Babayan will be named president elect of the association. From May 2016-17, he will assume the presidency and preside over the AUA Annual Meeting that will be held in Boston. Finally, he will serve as past president from May 2017-18.

Babayan has previously served in both local and national urological associations. He was the president of the Massachusetts Association of Practicing Urologists from 2012-14 and the New England Section representative to the AUA Board of Directors from 2005-09. In 2011, the AUA Leadership Program and Board of Directors honored him with a Distinguished Service Award.

Babayan has been actively involved in minimally invasive therapies within the field of urology. His clinical interests include benign prostatic hyperplasia, prostate cancer, urologic oncology and endourology. He performed the first robot assisted radical prostatectomy in Boston and is currently one of three urologic surgeons at BMC using the daVinci Robot for minimally invasive procedures.

After earning his medical degree from Indiana University School of Medicine, Babayan completed his surgical training at Yale-New Haven Hospital and a urology residency at the former University Hospital, now BMC. Babayan also served as an AUA Research Scholar working in the field of hyperthermia at both the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and BUSM. He joined the BUSM faculty in 1980 and has been chairman of Urology since 2000.

Donald Hess, MD, Appointed Program Director of BUSM Surgery Residency Program

June 23rd, 2014 in Uncategorized

Donald Hess, MD

Donald Hess, MD

Donald Hess, MD, FACS, was appointed the Program Director of the Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) Surgery Residency Program. Hess is currently an assistant professor of surgery at BUSM and the chief of the Section of Minimally Invasive and Weight Loss Surgery at Boston Medical Center (BMC).

His clinical practice is devoted to minimally invasive and bariatric surgery. He has tremendous surgical expertise in laparoscopic bariatric surgery (sleeve gastrectomy, gastric banding and gastric bypass) and revisional bariatric surgery. He also has an interest in minimally invasive surgery, robotic surgery, surgery for disease of the stomach and esophagus, intestinal surgery, single-site surgery, complex hernia surgery and general surgery.

He is a member of the Association of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgeons, the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons and a fellow of the American College of Surgeons (ACS). He has been recognized by Boston Magazine’s “Top Docs” issue for being “top” in his respective field four years in a row and was a 2013 recipient of the BUSM Evans Center Collaborator of the Year Award.

Hess is a graduate of Williams College in Williamstown, Mass. and received his medical degree from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry in Rochester, N.Y. He completed a residency in general surgery at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and a fellowship in Surgical Oncology at New England Deaconess Hospital, both in Boston. He joined BUSM after working for the U.S. Air Force as an assistant professor of surgery stationed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.