Reporters locally and nationally turn to the School of Medicine for expertise and research news. Here are some examples from near and far.
Thomas Pshak, MD, associate professor of surgery, described completing the first liver transplant in Colorado using an advanced robot, in an August news report on Denverbased Fox31. “The four robotic arms are all controlled by the surgeon, but in the manner that they’re tiny little hands, and they’re even more accurate than the human hand,” he said. “I can make the robot do things with stitches that I can’t do with my hands.”
Jeffrey SooHoo, MD, MBA, associate professor of ophthalmology and assistant dean of admissions, discussed the School of Medicine’s process for reviewing medical student applicants in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court’s decision restricting consideration of applicants’ race. “We’ve never assigned points or any specific advantage per se, to those attributes,” he told Colorado Public Radio in August. “Rather, we’ve used someone’s background to contextualize what their opportunities have been … Recognizing that applicants that are underrepresented in medicine have some historical disadvantages that maybe have played out in their education or in their opportunities for research, volunteer work, leadership, things like that.”
Maryam Asgari, MD, MPH, chair and professor of dermatology, was quoted by the Denver CBS affiliate in July for a report about the risk of skin cancer, including basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma. “For us in Colorado, the latest figures are that about 100,000, 21.9 get diagnosed with a skin cancer every year,” she said. “Nationally that number is 19.7 and I know that doesn’t sound like a very big difference, but it actually is and puts us in the highest per capita rate.”
Melanie Cree-Green, MD, PhD, associate professor of pediatrics, discussed with NBC News her clinical trial of semaglutide for young women who have polycystic ovary syndrome and obesity. “When it works, it works,” she said in the June report. Cree-Green remembered one of her patients’ mothers crying during an appointment late last year. “She said, ‘You’ve given me my daughter back,’ and then everybody in the room was crying,” Cree-Green said. “These medications are life-changing.”
Richard Johnson, MD, professor of medicine, explained in an August article in Newsweek how fructose can lead to weight gain. “Fructose turns out to have a very powerful way to activate a biological switch that activates a range of processes that includes hunger, eating, leptin resistance—the satiety hormone—and a series of events that make you want to store fat,” he said. “And we actually showed that it’s unique to fructose. And that it works by tricking the cells into thinking it doesn’t have enough energy.”.
Ben Honigman, MD, professor emeritus of emergency medicine, in July discussed with Denver-based Fox31 the causes of highaltitude pulmonary edema after a hiker died on a trail at Rocky Mountain National Park. “High altitude pulmonary edema develops over a two, three-day period of time typically,” Honigman said. “The low oxygen levels cause changes in the lungs to where there’s leakage of fluid that moves from the blood vessels into the airspaces and causes fluid accumulation.”
Sean O’Leary, MD, MPH, professor of pediatrics, discussed Beyfortus, a shot to protect healthy babies from the respiratory ailment RSV, with the Washington Post in July. He said logistical, educational, and financial hurdles could delay the drug’s rollout before the winter respiratory season. “It’s hard to predict,” O’Leary said. “I’d love it if we could get high uptake in the first season, because it would prevent a lot of hospitalizations, but I’m not all that hopeful.”
Daniel Bessesen, MD, professor of medicine, was quoted in June in an Associated Press report about studies that considered whether people would prefer a high-dose oral version of a weight-loss drug rather than injections. “If you ask people a random question, ‘Would you rather take a pill or an injection?’ People overwhelmingly prefer a pill,” he said.
Kyle Leggott, MD, assistant professor of family medicine, discussed with the Denver Post his work with Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) to provide training for primary care providers who see long COVID patients. “So much of what we do (in primary care) is chronic disease management, and long COVID seems to be moving into the category of chronic disease,” he said in June.
Jennifer L. Taylor-Cousar, MD, MSCS, professor of medicine, made a presentation on disparities in diagnosing cystic fibrosis at the American Thoracic Society International Conference that was quoted in June by Healio. “Racism does occur in medicine,” she said. “Even though race and ethnicity are social constructs, because of racism, which impact the social determinants of health, we therefore see the effects in medicine.”
Eric Simões, MD, clinical professor of pediatrics, was quoted by National Public Radio in August in a report on a new RSV vaccine for expectant mothers that is aimed at protecting newborn babies. “My only hope is that we can get these vaccines not only in the U.S., but also to children in developing countries that need it the most,” he said.
James Jaggers, MD, professor of surgery, was featured in an August report on Denver-based Fox31 about performing a rare life-saving surgery on a Montana baby at Children’s Hospital Colorado. “It’s really pretty rare to be able to do a two-ventricle repair in somebody with this kind of anatomy,” he said.
Mandy Allison, MD, associate professor of pediatrics, told CNN in August that corporal punishment in schools is ineffective. “This isn’t acceptable — all children need to feel safe to learn,” she said. “While a child or teen might become fearful, obedient and quote ‘get in line,’ that’s only in the short term after being struck. Research shows corporal punishment does not improve behavior over the long term, is not an effective means of discipline, and does not foster a positive learning environment and supportive school climate.”
David Howell, PhD, associate professor of orthopedics, explained research on recovering from concussions in an August report on the Denver CBS affiliate. “There’s been a lot of research, a lot of which we’ve helped produce here at Children’s Hospital Colorado that essentially shows that early physical activity is not harmful for athletes who get a concussion, and in most cases can actually be beneficial. “Complete rest where you have somebody sit in a dark room is actually in some cases perhaps detrimental, certainly not helpful to somebody recovering from a concussion after about a oneto-two-day rest period.”
Connie Savor Price, MD, MBA, professor of medicine and chief medical officer at Denver Health, was quoted by VeryWell Health in August about over-the-counter rapid tests for COVID. “I don’t know how good these tests are yet against some of the newer subvariants that we’re seeing emerging,” she said, adding that symptomatic people with negative tests may still consider staying home. “You don’t want to spread any virus to another person unnecessarily.”
Emmy Betz, MD, MPH, professor of emergency medicine and director of the Firearm Injury Prevention Initiative, was quoted in August in an article in the Stevens Point Journal about a Wisconsin suicide-prevention program that involves gun shops as safe storage sites. She said people in crisis always need a way to voluntarily surrender their guns. “I think it’s really offensive, actually, to imply that those adults with suicide risk should not be involved in their own safety planning and care,” she said. “I mean that’s the underlying principle for treatment of adults with suicide risk, to help develop coping and problem-solving skills.”
Steve Berkowitz, MD, professor of psychiatry, told ABC News in August that natural disasters, such as the wildfires in Hawaii, can cause people to develop post-traumatic stress disorder. “People who develop any of these issues are at very high risk for suicide,” he said. “People with PTSD or any of these trauma-related disorders will often be more irritable, have angry outbursts and that can lead to physical aggression and issues. Substance dependence is not an uncommon outcome of this.”
Lisa Brenner, PhD, professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation and director of the Department of Veterans Affairs-affiliated Rocky Mountain Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center, discussed her study on the lifelong consequences of traumatic brain injury in an August report in Time. “In the early days, when folks were coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan, we spent a lot of time and energy trying to figure out, ‘Is this TBI is this PTSD? Is this both?’” she said. “The veterans, they weren’t thinking about themselves like that.”
Maya Bunik, MD, MPH, professor of pediatrics, applauded a study finding that breastfeeding is a cost-effective way to reduce infant deaths. “If every mother could get breastfeeding support in the first week of life, we could make their journey much less challenging,” she said in an August report by HealthDay. “We encourage birthing classes as a society, but a breastfeeding class should be a critical part of how we think about preparing a family to have a baby.”
Richard Schulick, MD, MBA, chair of surgery and director of the University of Colorado Cancer Center, emphasized the importance of outreach efforts to address disparities. Compared with other states, Hispanic residents in Colorado suffer higher rates of lung, breast, and colorectal cancers, so, in 2020, the center disbursed five grants of $100,000 each to research groups to investigate how to better include all Coloradans in the services it provides. “Prevention, early detection, and great therapies don’t mean much if we’re not disseminating those things to our community,” he said in an article in August issue of 5280 magazine.