In the News Fall 2016

Reporters locally and nationally turn to the School of Medicine for expertise and research news. Here are examples from near and far. 

Helen Lawler, MD, instructor of medicine, in June discussed an advocacy group’s advertisement warning of health problems related to soda consumption. She told 9News of Denver that obesity in the U.S. a “major problem” and “I do think limiting soda and drinking more water is definitely recommended.” 

Amber Khanna, MD, assistant professor of medicine, explained her research finding that living at high altitude is associated with increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). “This is a call for people living in high altitudes to be very vigilant” about other factors that may lower SIDS risk, “like putting the baby on his back every time, no smoking, encourage breast-feeding,” she told The New York Times in May. 

Linda Barlow, PhD, professor of cell and developmental biology, in May told CBS4 of Denver that she and fellow researcher Dany Gaillard, PhD, have discovered a key genetic pathway that controls the renewal of taste buds, a finding that could help cancer patients who lose their sense of taste. “We might be able to have like a topical cream or some kind of a lollipop that patients could suck on from time to time that would give them a local burst of this signal that they could perhaps retain or maintain their sense of taste a little bit better.”  

Michelle Barron, MD, associate professor of medicine, in September discussed news reports of pollution in Rio de Janeiro’s water less than a year before the 2016 Olympics. She told a sports columnist for the Colorado Springs Gazette that her advice to a patient would be simple: “I would tell you to not go in the water.” 

Emily Townsend, DPT, who graduated from the School of Medicine’s Physical Therapy Program in May, told the Daytona Beach News-Journal that her impaired vision helps her relate to patients. “Many of my patients and their families have experienced significant loss or hardship when it comes to their physical challenges,” she said. “I am not only able to empathize, I have also experienced a loss regarding my physical abilities. I believe this connection allows for a mutual understanding which allows for extremely open and effective communication.” 

Kristen Boyle, PhD, assistant professor of pediatrics, explained in Time magazine her re-search suggesting that children of obese mothers may be predisposed to being obese due to their womb environment. “The next step is to follow these offspring to see if there is a lasting change into adulthood,” she said in June. 

Caley Orr, PhD, assistant professor of cell and developmental biology, explained on Denver’s Channel 7 the importance of a fossil discovery in South Africa. Orr analyzed the fossil hands. “The more we understand about the past,” he said, “the better we are able to come to grips with what is our nature, what are the types of things we need as humans to thrive.” 

Chris Hoyte, MD, assistant professor of emergency medicine, told ABC News in June that the increase in emergency calls nationwide due to synthetic marijuana is often because of contamination with other substances including opioids, heavy metals and prescription drugs. “The high people get off of them is different,” he said. “There’s no quality control.” 

Fred Hirsch, MD, PhD, professor of medicine and pathology, reported to the Denver Post in September that progress in efforts to treat lung cancer have been significant. “We are on the way to make lung cancer a chronic disease,” he said. “And not that far in the future.” 

David Tinkelman, MD, professor of pediat-rics, discussed with Denver’s 9News the use of vaporizers to consume marijuana and the increasing use by teenagers. “[Kids’] fear of getting caught has gone down, and that’s a big deal,” he said. “Once you remove that fear of getting punished, they’re going to experiment more, and I’m not surprised one bit about it.” 

Robert Eckel, MD, professor of medicine and of physiology and biophysics, was quoted in an article by Kaiser Health News and published by PBS in September saying physicians should talk with older patients about prescribing statins when there’s scant evidence that the benefits outweigh the risks. “It’s a gray zone,” he said, referring to the need for more clinical trials. 

Holly Wyatt, MD, associate professor of medicine, described her experience as medical director on the television program, “Extreme Weight Loss,” in an interview with the Aurora Sentinel in May: “The first season I was a little nervous — I mean, here I’d agreed to do reality TV, and there were colleagues here who thought I was crazy, because when you think reality TV, you don’t think that mixes with an academic institution. But it’s been inspiring for me, my staff, and it just fits so nicely with what we do.” 

Huntington Potter, PhD, professor of neurology, explained to the CBS affiliate in Denver a promising clinical trial for Alzheimer’s disease occurring on the Anschutz Medical Campus. “We’ve started a clinical trial on a drug called Leukine,” he said. “We discovered it because people with rheumatoid arthritis almost never get Alzheimer’s disease.” 

James Tod Olin, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics, told the HealthDay news service in September that there can be benefits for a child who gets a tonsillectomy. “When you can eliminate a child’s sleep apnea symptoms, there are important developmental and cognitive [mental] benefits,” he said. 

Marian “Emmy” Betz, MD, MPH, associate professor of emergency medicine, said on Colorado Public Radio in September that older drivers should consider planning for a “driving retirement.” “Retirement is something that happens to all of us, right?” she said. “And maybe we even look forward to it. You prepare for it, you make financial plans, you think about what you’re going to do.” 

Iñigo San Millán, PhD, assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation, commented on fitness wearables in Outside magazine in September: “The vast field of data that these sensors will allow will revolutionize what we know about fitness.” 

Paula Riggs, MD, professor of psychiatry, told The Globe and Mail of Toronto, in May: “Adolescents who start regularly using mari-juana before the age of 17 have neurocognitive deficits that may not be fully reversible with abstinence.” 

Cyril Mauffrey, MD, associate professor of orthopedics, described in August on 9News, the NBC affiliate in Denver, a less-invasive hip surgery he developed to treat a patient who declined blood transfusions for religious reasons. “My belief is that this is the tip of the iceberg,” he said. “I think with the elderly population, more fractures of the socket of the hip joint, patients who are not able physiologically to withstand long surgeries with blood loss and long incisions, I think this will benefit them greatly.” 

Robert Dellavalle, MD, PhD, MSPH, associate professor of dermatology, said UV photos are a useful tool to show young people the damage caused by tanning. “I personally feel there’s nothing we can do that’s more effective than to show a person their picture,” he told the Houston Chronicle in May. “You have a picture of your face and you’re seeing damage on your face. It’s so striking that a lot of teenagers didn’t want to see it.” 

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