(October 2020) Reporters locally and nationally turn to the School of Medicine for expertise and research news. Here are examples from near and far.
William Niehaus, MD, assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation, described a 39-year-old patient’s recovery from COVID-19 for an August report on the ABC News program “Nightline.” “He woke up just a few days before he came to rehab and really started to put together all the things that had happened to him,” Niehaus said, “and from the get-go, he had this fire to get home.”
Danielle Davis, medical student in the class of 2022, discussed her experience working on a research project to follow up on COVID-19 patients following their release from the hospital. “I found that most people want to talk about their experiences that they’ve had with COVID-19 and most people found their experiences with COVID-19 to be a life-altering event,” she said in a report that aired on KOAA in Colorado Springs in August.
Thomas Campbell, MD, professor of medicine, was quoted by USA Today in August regarding efforts to enroll participants in a clinical trial for a vaccine for the novel coronavirus. “I’ve already had over 100 people email me personally and say ‘sign me up,’” he said.
Fernando Holguin, MD, professor of medicine, recommended limited exercise outdoors in August when smoke from wildfires caused unhealthy air quality, noting that it affects lungs and the cardiovascular system. “Unfortunately, the most reliable thing is to be inside a building that is well-sealed and air-conditioned,” he said in an article in the Colorado Sun. “It’s tough advice to take. People want to be outside, especially in a state like ours.”
Rebecca Boxer, MD, associate professor of medicine, praised a clinical trial designed to protect nursing home residents from coronavirus infection. “These patients are so underserved,” she said in an article in The New York Times in August. “They do not get access to innovative new drugs and trials.”
Matthew Wynia, MD, MPH, professor of medicine and director of the CU Center for Bioethics and Humanities, was quoted in The New York Times in August in an article about clinical trials in nursing homes. “There just isn’t a culture in nursing homes that is attuned to doing research and clinical trials,” he said.
Kim Jordan, PhD, assistant director of the School of Medicine’s Human Immunology & Immunotherapy Initiative, explained the laboratory’s efforts to study the immune system’s defense against COVID-19 in an August report on KUNC, a public radio station in Greeley. “I always think about it from a clinical treatment standpoint,” she said. “So, is there something that we can give patients to help them resolve the inflammation? There are many drugs that target inflammation in general and maybe some of those would be effective in helping their outcomes. But really, I want to know what’s going to help kill this virus.”
Sean O’Leary, MD, professor of pediatrics, offered context to a report in August in the Washington Post that 97,000 U.S. children tested positive for the coronavirus in the last two weeks of July. “It will be a little hard to sort out the degree to which a lot more kids are getting infected and the degree to which our testing capacity has gone up,” he said. “What we can say is that it’s not particularly surprising given the large increase in cases we’ve seen nationally overall.”
Jessica Cataldi, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics, offered advice on how to talk to children about the importance of wearing masks during the school day. “We wear masks to keep people safe and younger kids usually have a strong sense of empathy about that so I think it’s useful to explain the reasoning,” she said in a report on the Denver Fox affiliate in August.
Daniel Pastula, MD, MHS, associate professor of neurology, was quoted in a Seattle Times article about beach safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Gathering at crowded beaches is not a good scenario,” he said. “When you’re close to someone who is mildly symptomatic or asymptomatic, you could inhale droplets and become infected.”
Abigail Lara, MD, associate professor of medicine, was one of seven medical professionals featured in a July report on Colorado Public Radio that described life on the front lines. “My patients in the ICU are brown and they are Black,” she said. “The names are familiar to me because they're also my family’s names: Martinez, Hernandez, Garcia, the list goes on and on. It's been striking to me in a very primal, very emotional way.”
Christopher Hoyte, MD, associate professor of emergency medicine, was one of seven medical professionals featured in a July report on Colorado Public Radio that described life on the front lines. “Having to turn away family at times, that to me is the part that’s the most devastating because people want to be with their family in a time when they're most vulnerable,” he said. “Not being able to do that really sticks to me because you shouldn't be sick and alone.”
Lauren Heery, medical student in the class of 2021, was profiled by the Denver ABC affiliate in a report on how the pandemic was inspiring a new generation of health care professionals. “Growing up, I was always pretty interested in science. I have a few family members who are in medicine and nursing,” she said in July. “Helping people through my direct knowledge as a scientist, and now as a medical student, was I think what interested me the most.”
Emmy Betz, MD, MPH, associate professor of emergency medicine, was quoted in July in a report on CNN.com about her research showing that about one-third of people with Alzheimer's disease have access to a firearm in their home. “Alzheimer's and other kinds of dementia can cause changes in thinking and memory that could make someone unsafe to handle a gun, even if that person has a lifetime of experience,” she said. “As healthcare providers, family members and friends, we can help older adults think about what they would want to happen with their firearms, if they become unsafe to use them. This approach promotes respect for independence and preferences while also ensuring safety.”
Angelo D’Alessandro, PhD, assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular genetics, explained to Reuters news service in July that damage done by the coronavirus to the membranes of red blood cells may explain why many COVID-19 patients have low oxygen levels. “Since red cells circulate for up to 120 days, this could also help explain why it can take months to recover from the virus ... until enough new red cells without this damage are made and circulate,” he said.
Jay Lemery, MD, professor of emergency medicine, was quoted by the NBC affiliate in Richmond, Va., in June regarding how COVID-19 was causing additional problems for senior citizens. “One specific issue that becomes even more of concern this summer with the COVID-19 pandemic is the amount of elderly that live in isolation,” he said. “This population is more at risk when it comes to heat-related illnesses and death.”
Brandi Freeman, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics, was interviewed in June by KUNC, a public radio station in Greeley, for advice about talking to children about racism. “What’s important for all people, all parents, or people who are mentoring or working with children of any age is to first take a look at their own biases, recognizing that role modeling plays a critical role for children, so being very aware of not only our own actions, but our own emotions or how we respond to things,” she said.
Jenna Glover, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry, offered advice for talking to children about racism in a June report on the NBC affiliate in Colorado Springs. “One of the most difficult parts of this for parents is just being willing to be uncomfortable and knowing that there’s not a right or wrong way to have the conversation,” she said. “The most important thing is to have the conversation.”
Jeremy Ansah-Twum, medical student in the Class of 2023, was quoted in a report on the CBS affiliate in Denver about a White Coats for Black Lives protest on the Anschutz Medical Campus where hundreds knelt for 10 minutes in remembrance of George Floyd. “What we cannot continue to live without is justice,” he said. “We need justice. When crimes are committed, there needs to be repercussions and that is the only way to get this racism to stop.”
Craig Jordan, PhD, professor of medicine, was one of several researchers quoted in a Washington Post article in June about how the pandemic had disrupted medical research on deadly rare diseases. “I don’t see how we can maintain the levels of activity we had in the past,” he said.
In their own words: