In the News

Spring 2019 Edition 


(April 2019) Jessica Cataldi, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics, discussed the importance of vaccination in a February report in the Denver Business Journal. In a study she wrote a study for Children’s Hospital Colorado and the Colorado Children’s Immunization Coalition, she found that Colorado residents spent $55 million on vaccine-preventable diseases in 2017. “When families vaccinate, they protect their children and our communities against preventable illness. Improving vaccination rates will help to prevent unnecessary personal and economic costs, hospitalizations and even death.” 

Helen L. Coons, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry and clinical director of the department’s Women’s Behavioral Health and Wellness Service Line, offered perspective regarding miscarriage in a November report on National Public Radio. Coons noted that Michelle Obama’s disclosure in her autobiography that she had had miscarriage made it possible for other families to cope with grief from their own loss.

Kenneth Tyler, MD, professor and chair of the Department of Neurology, in October addressed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s slow response to a polio-like disease that has struck hundreds of children of over the past six years. “This is the CDC’s job,” Tyler told CNN. “This is what they’re supposed to do well. And it’s a source of frustration to many of us that they’re apparently not doing these things.” 

Sarah M. Perman, MD, assistant professor of emergency medicine, was quoted in the New York Post in November about her research into the reasons bystanders are less likely to perform CPR on women than men. Reasons included concerns about inappropriate touching and misconceptions that CPR is more difficult to perform on women. “While these are actual fears the public holds, it is important to realize that CPR is lifesaving and should be rendered to collapsed individuals regardless of gender, race or ethnicity,” she said. 

Sukumar Vijayaraghavan, PhD, professor of physiology and biophysics and director of the Neuroscience Graduate Program, in November discussed with Colorado Public Radio the experiments created by scientists from the Anschutz Medical Campus for a grade school in Erie, Colorado. One such experiment called for wearing prism goggles while throwing a ball into a basket. “But what you also learn is that while you keep doing that, the brain will adapt and actually get you to the right place after a few trials,” he says. “So the idea that the brain is plastic and the brain can be trained to do stuff.” 

Matthew Greenhawt, MD, associate professor of pediatrics, was quoted in a November report in Travel + Leisure magazine about a new airline policy allowing early boarding for travelers with nut allergies. “One of the more common misperceptions we deal with is this concern that peanut dust will somehow aerosolize,” he said. “Look, if you have a peanut allergy, you absolutely can fly and do it safely. I see too many families that often don’t go on a vacation because they’re scared to fly. It’s robbing them of the opportunity to live their lives.” 

Emmy Betz, MD, associate professor of emergency medicine, discussed gun safety with National Public Radio in November. She suggested that families draw up a firearms agreement. The conversation cjould include questions like “Who do you want to be the one to say, ‘I think it’s time’? Who do you want to give [your guns] to? Is it your family member? Is it Joe down at the gun club? So that you’re still the one making the decision. Even if when the time comes, you’re not aware of what’s happening.” 

Robin Deterding, MD, professor of pediatrics, compared the youth vaping epidemic to a “hurricane come upon us” in a February article in the Colorado Sun. “I have never seen anything like it in the time I’ve practiced,” she said about Colorado having the highest youth vaping rate in the country. “It’s unprecedented. These flavors and these clouds of smoke! They think they’re fun.”

Kevin Messacar, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics, told the Washington Post in November that the one intervention shown to offer benefits to all patients with acute flaccid myelitis is extensive physical therapy. Other than that, “we still don’t have good evidence on what is most effective.” 

Elizabeth Pomfret, MD, PhD, professor of surgery and chief of transplant surgery, discussed a woman who made history by becoming the first-ever altruistic liver donor at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital. “It’s a big commitment,” she said in an interview on the Denver-based ABC affiliate. “It’s a big operation. She is the perfect donor. She’s young, she’s healthy, she’s in great shape.” 

Peter Forsberg, MD, assistant professor of medicine, was quoted in November on the Denver CBS affiliate in a report about treating a patient who considered it a good omen to be treated by the namesake of their favorite Colorado Avalanche player. “He and [his wife] are hockey fans and they thought this was just the coolest thing that the new doctor was going to be Peter Forsberg.” 

Christine D. Jones, MD, assistant professor of medicine, was quoted in UPI regarding her study that found that more than half of home health workers don’t have enough information to properly care for patients. “We have heard of medication errors occurring between hospitals and home health care providers,” she said. “As a result, patients can receive the wrong medication or the wrong dose. Some home health providers don’t get accurate information about how long to leave a urinary catheter or intravenous line in.”

Emmy Betz, MD, MPH, associate professor of emergency medicine, was featured in a November report on National Public Radio about how gun shops are working with physicians to promote gun safety. “If you want to reduce suicide deaths, you have to talk about firearms,” she said. “And if you want to reduce firearm deaths, you have to talk about suicide.” 

Thomas Finger, PhD, professor of cell and developmental biology, explained on WHYY, public radio station in Philadelphia, the appeal of fizzy drinks. “The perception we get from drinking a carbonated drink is actually quite complicated,” he said in December. “We would call it conversationally taste, but really the word taste is itself hiding some complicated biology.” 

Steven Berkowitz, MD, visiting professor of psychiatry, served as an expert for a report on CNN about police handling of rape kits related to crimes against children. In column posted on CNN’s website in December, Berkowitz and a co-author wrote, “Based on our review of the documents provided by CNN, it appeared that destruction of this evidence was not the result of malevolence, but systemic issues facing law enforcement and the courts.” 

Aaron Lazorwitz, MD, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology, explained to Reuters in March that his research findings suggested that a particular genetic variation could have an impact on the effectiveness of birth control pills. “If a woman came in and said she was taking birth control and got pregnant we assumed she did something wrong, missed a pill or wasn’t using the method like she was supposed to,” he said. “We need to believe the patient and to understand that there are other things outside of her control, like genetics, that could cause birth control to fail.” 

Terry Fry, MD, visiting professor of pediatrics, was interviewed in December by the Denver affiliate of Fox to describe the CAR-T therapy provided to a patient diagnosed with lymphoma whose cancer went into remission. “We remove T-cells or immune cells from the patients and we genetically modify them. So we reeducate them to see the tumor and then we reinfuse those cells back into patients,” he said.

Lilia Cervantes, MD, associate professor of medicine, discussed with Reuters her research on providing scheduled dialysis for undocumented immigrants with kidney failure, rather than the emergency-only care provided in most states. Her studies have shown that scheduled care reduces suffering and costs less. “Given the collective research on this issue, there’s enough evidence to suggest that providing access to care for this community makes sense, whichever perspective you come from,” she said.

Sean T. O’Leary, MD, associate professor of pediatrics, was quoted in The New York Times in March explaining the difficulty of challenging myths about vaccines. “Debunking a myth is tricky,” he said. When you repeat the myth, he said, “you risk reinforcing it. All that parents remember about your complicated explanation about why vaccines don’t cause autism is that they’re somehow linked. So pediatricians should focus on the diseases we’re trying to prevent and if you have to address a myth, be clear that’s exactly what it is.” 

Mitchell Cohen, MD, professor of surgery and director of surgery at Denver Health, was interviewed in January by the Denver Post about the hospital’s care for two police officers who were shot in a standoff with a gunman. The officers had sustained “serious life-threatening injuries,” but they were both recovering due to the care they received. Cohen said he and his team are honored “when we’re called on to take care of Denver’s finest. We feel lucky to do that.”

Sam Wang, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics, discussed with CNN his research on unintentional exposures to marijuana in children. “The concerns with marijuana edibles are, they are attractive and palatable to children and can contain high amounts of THC,” he said in February. “When young children consume them, they can result in severe symptoms, including dizziness, excessive sleepiness and, in rare circumstances, impair their breathing.” 


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