In the News

Spring 2018 Edition


(May 2018) Reporters locally and nationally turn to the School of Medicine for expertise and research news. Here are examples from near and far.

Larry Allen, MD, associate professor of medicine, discussed with The New York Times in November an article he wrote for the Journal of the American College of Cardiology that reviewed the number of ways in which heart patients are let down at the end of life. “Getting shocks at the end of life is not really helping patients live longer or better,” he said.

Dan Theodorescu, MD, PhD, director of the CU Cancer Center and Distinguished Professor of the University, discussed with the journal Nature the challenge of focusing a career on research rather than surgery. “It’s a different kind of satisfaction,” he said. “There’s the satisfaction of helping the human in front of you, seeing the sparkle in their eyes when you tell them you may be able to cure them, versus seeing an experiment that cures cancer in mice.”

Christopher Hoyte, MD, associate medical director for the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center and assistant professor of emergency medicine told CBS News in November that it is unlikely that a person can overdose from being exposed to fentanyl on a shopping cart. “I never say never, but it is highly, highly, highly, unlikely someone could become that systemically ill just from having fentanyl touch their skin,” he said. “It’s not absorbed just touching it.”

Robert Eckel, MD, professor of medicine and interim vice chancellor for research, explained that average cholesterol levels could be declining for several reasons. “It can’t be because we’re losing weight, because that’s still going up,” he said in the Washington Post in October, “but it could be statin use. It could be a result of the decline in smoking. Or a combination of factors.”

Greg Allen, MD, associate professor of otolaryngology, discussed a patient who was born with Treacher Collins syndrome. “Michael has continued to surprise me,” he said in the Denver Post in November. “When he came in and told me he was playing hockey, or when I listen to a recording of him play his cello, those are two examples of when I was very surprised. His tenacious attitude, his skill and level of accomplishment are exemplary for any kid.”

Christopher Stille, MD, MPH, associate professor of pediatrics, in December outlined to Colorado Public Radio who was at risk if federal officials failed to provide funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program. “These are kids whose parents work and make a little too much money to qualify for Medicaid,” he said. “It’s a lifeline for them.”

Kennon Heard, MD, professor of emergency medicine, described to National Public Radio in November an increase in a rare vomiting illness linked to heavy marijuana use. “Five years ago, this wasn’t something that [doctors] had on their radar,” he said. “We’re at least making the diagnosis more now.”

Meredith Mealer, PhD, RN, assistant professor of medicine, explained the importance of a study on burnout among nurses. “Burnout syndrome in nurses is associated with decreased patient satisfaction, reduced quality of care, medication errors, higher rates of healthcare related infections and higher mortality rates,” she said in a December article by the news service Reuters. “What this study adds to the literature is that there is a direct association between shift work and burnout syndrome.”

Jean Kutner, MD, MPH, professor of medicine and chief medical officer for University of Colorado Hospital, was quoted by the Loveland Reporter-Herald in December: “The absolute best way to protect yourself and others from the flu is to get vaccinated.”

Lilia Cervantes, MD, associate professor of medicine and a hospitalist at Denver Health, described her study of undocumented immigrants with kidney failure and the impact of policies that require providing dialysis only in cases of emergency rather than on a regular schedule. “To receive emergency-only hemodialysis, undocumented patients with kidney failure must be near death,” she told Reuters in December.

Michelle Barron, MD, professor of medicine, described the risks for getting sick while traveling in a December article in Men’s Health. “Planes, trains, and automobiles are the mainstay for travel during the holidays and are also the perfect breeding ground for illness,” she said.

Matthew Greenhawt, MD, associate professor of pediatrics and a director of the Food Challenge Unit at Children’s Hospital Colorado, told CNN in December that flu shots are safe. “People with egg allergy of any severity can receive the influenza vaccine without any special precautions,” he said.

Joaquin Espinosa, PhD, professor of pharmacology and executive director of the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome, explained in the January-February issue of American Scientist the results of his recent research. “The public at large thinks of Down syndrome as a condition of the brain,” he said, “but our studies are recasting Down syndrome as a condition of the immune system, which then goes on to have impacts on the brain and many other organs.”

Nanette Santoro, MD, chair of obstetrics and gynecology, was quoted in Glamour in December about the pressure on women when they are directed to fertility treatment options. “Bullying might not be the right word, but it is close to what it feels like sometimes,” she said. “Women are being told what to do, and we need to be making sure that what they are being told is being based on careful science.”

Benjamin Honigman, MD, professor of emergency medicine, explained altitude acclimation to the Austin American-Statesman in January. “Where people get into trouble is if they come up to altitude — especially to some of our resorts that are higher elevation — and don’t allow their bodies to adjust,” he said. “They’ll fly into Denver and drive up to one of the resorts or they’ll fly into Aspen or Vail and they’ll immediately want to get some skis and go downhill skiing.”

Margaret Schenkman, PT, PhD, director of the Physical Therapy Program, explained the results of her study of high-intensity exercise for people with early-stage Parkinson disease (PD). “There is a growing body of evidence demonstrating the benefits of a variety of types of exercise for people who have PD, including strength training, flexibility training, balance training and combination training approaches,” she told MD Magazine in January.

Alexis Leal, MD, assistant professor of medicine, explained a promising new blood test for detecting multiple types of cancer. “It detects genetic mutations that are common in a number of different cancers and also a number of proteins that we see elevated in patients who have cancer,” she told the local Fox affiliate in January.

Corey Lyon, DO, associate professor of family medicine, described for the New England Journal of Medicine the team-based model the department uses to improve patient care. “The chaos in exam rooms before APEX (ambulatory process excellence) was akin to texting while driving,” he said in January. “The greatest advantage now is that the computer no longer stands between me and my patients. This allows for deeper thinking and connection.”

Judith Regensteiner, PhD, professor of medicine and director of the Center for Women’s Health Research, was quoted by Consumer Reports in January in an article about the health benefits of two-and-a-half hours of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise and at least two hours of full-body strength workouts per week for adults age 65 and older. “This amount has been shown to help reduce your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, depression, stroke, type 2 diabetes, colon and breast cancer, and decreased cognitive function,” she said.

An article published in the journal Injury Prevention by Daniel Goldberg, JD, PhD, associate professor of family medicine and faculty for the Center for Bioethics and Humanities, was quoted in February by the MinnPost. “The league has a record of promoting unsound research, both to downplay the risks of brain trauma as well as to oversell the potential for making tackling safe,” he wrote with co-author Kathleen Bachynski, a postdoctoral fellow in medical humanities at New York University’s School of Medicine.

Jennifer Wiler, MD, MBA, associate professor and vice chair of emergency medicine, in February discussed with The Wall Street Journal what hospitals of the future will look like. “Hospitals aren’t going away anytime soon, nor should they,” she said. “But the traditional model of a hospital as the hub of care with a single facility providing every facet of treatment is changing.” 

Stephen Daniels, MD, PhD, chair of pediatrics, commented on a new study that found American children are continuing to gain too much weight and that the greatest increase in obesity is occurring among children between two and five years old. “What’s concerning ... is that we know that once obesity is established, it’s really hard to reverse,” he told Consumer Reports in February.

Andrew Thorburn, DPhil, chair of pharmacology, was quoted in March in Technology Networks describing a cellular process that is the target of his research. “The problem is this,” he said. “Many anti-cancer treatments push cancer cells to the brink of death. But the cells use autophagy to go into a kind of suspended animation, pausing but not dying. We don’t want cancer cells to pause; we want them to die.”

Thomas Inge, MD, professor of surgery, told the Chicago Tribune in March that weight-loss surgery can be more effective than medication and lifestyle changes alone. “You can’t forget to take surgery every day as you can pills and insulin injections,” he said. Surgery also appears to do more to reduce insulin resistance, he said, and “to enhance the body’s own ability to fight diabetes.”

Muhammad Aftab, MD, assistant professor of surgery, discussed heart surgery outcomes at UCHealth’s University of Colorado Hospital in a February report on the ABC affiliate in Denver. “Currently our patients have really extraordinary life expectancy and quality of life after heart transplantation,” he said. “And we are talking in terms of decades.” 

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