A bi-weekly review of Barnes-Jewish Hospital, St. Louis Children's Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine media appearances.
IN THE NEWS January 29, 2015
As leaders in medicine, we are frequently featured in the media both locally and nationally. Here are highlights from the past two weeks:

New York Times (Associated Press)
Study: Environment trumps genetics in shaping immune system
A recent study published in the journal Cell found that the environment and the germs people accumulate have more influence on how the immune system develops than a person’s genes. Dr. Megan Cooper, who wasn’t involved in the study, said investigating how the immune system develops is important. She noted that autoimmune diseases tend to run in families, but whether someone born genetically susceptible gets sick may be shaped by their exposures to infections and vaccinations. Other outlets: ABC News, Fox News, Edmonton Journal (Alberta, Canada)

There’s a promising pill for binge eating disorder
A drug typically used to treat ADHD in adults and kids also may be an effective treatment for binge eating disorder, a new study shows. “This study adds to our toolbox in that we have another treatment to potentially offer to people suffering binge eating disorder,” study author Dr. Denise Wilfley said.

Health Day
Depression, anxiety can precede memory loss in Alzheimer’s, study finds
Depression, sleep problems and behavioral changes can show up before
signs of memory loss in people who go on to develop Alzheimer’s disease, according to WUSM researchers. Senior author Dr. Catherine Roe noted that the research hasn’t determined whether depression or other mood and behavioral changes result from the same underlying changes in the brain contributing to Alzheimer’s or as a psychological response to dealing with the condition. She added that while the study showed an association between behavior changes and Alzheimer’s risk, it did not prove a cause-and-effect link. Other outlets: U.S. News & World Report, New York Daily News, PsychCentral, NewsMaxHealth, Global News (Canada), KMOX-AM radio
Related WUSM news release

Huffington Post
Everything you need to know about getting an IUD
Intrauterine devices (IUD) for birth control have become more popular in the past decade. The article suggests the uptick is due to word-of-mouth and a shifting demographic among doctors – about 80 percent of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists fellows under age 40 are women. The article also references Dr. Jeffery Peipert and the findings of WUSM’s Choice Project. Related WUSM news release

Health Day
Viruses may play role in Crohn’s disease, colitis
New research at WUSM found that people with inflammatory bowel disease had a greater variety of viruses in their digestive systems compared with healthy people. The findings suggest that viruses, as well as bacteria, are a factor in the disease. According to senior author Dr. Herbert Virgin IV, the findings are the “tip of the iceberg,” and much more research is needed to learn more about gut viruses and how they interact with gut bacteria.
Other outlets: Science News, Health Canal   Related WUSM news release

Daily Mail         (United Kingdom)
How throwing away your saucepans, avoiding cling film and other wacky ideas can delay menopause
An article detailing environmental factors associated with early menopause, references a study by Dr. Natalia Grinder. Grinder looked at levels of phthalates in the blood or urine of 5,700 women and determined that women with the highest levels went through menopause an average of 2.3 years before others with lower amounts. Phthalates are found in plastics and four out of five beauty products, such as foundation, face cream and lipstick.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Opinion: Invest in medical research for our future prosperity
In an Op-ed appearing in the Post-Dispatch, WUSM Dean Larry Shapiro explained that most people do not realize that discoveries made at schools like WUSM are only possible because of federal funding from the National Institutes of Health. To beat Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and diabetes, and the many other diseases we face, we need to invest in medical research. That means our lawmakers need to not only restore the budget of the National Institutes of Health but also provide stable, predictable growth for its future.

St. Louis Business Journal       (subscription required)
Preventing Alzheimer’s: Wash U adding researchers as funding increases
The WUSM Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center has secured more than $30 million dollars to continue work with the Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer’s Network (DIAN) and the Healthy Aging and Senile Dementia study. Principal investigator Dr. John Morris explained that both studies are aimed at preventing Alzheimer’s before symptoms develop and that WUSM plans to hire more researchers to work on the projects.

St. Louis Business Journal
From the publisher: Can’t we talk about something more pleasant?
In her weekly column, St. Louis Business Journal publisher Ellen Sherberg highlighted the business implications of the $30 million in funding awarded to Dr. John Morris and his team at the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (ADRC). Sherberg explained that Morris’s team includes 97 researchers and staff who frequent CWE restaurants and that collaborators from all over the world travel to St. Louis to work with ADRC researchers. Such visits boost hotel business, and prospective hires will need places to live and services of real estate agents.

St. Louis American
Dr. Bullock reaches into community from WUSTL School of Medicine
Dr. Arnold Bullock is known in medical and community circles as an outstanding urologist and medical school professor, a tireless community servant and an ardent advocate for men’s health. Earlier this year, Bullock was appointed the inaugural Alan A. and Edith L. Wolff Distinguished Professor of Urology at WUSM. He plans to use that position to help young people develop an interest in medical careers. Related WUSM news release

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
The U.S. lead in medical research is slipping
A new study published in JAMA found that U.S. investment in medical research grew at 0.8 percent per year between 2004-2012, which is well below the annual growth rate of 6 percent between 1994 and 2004. Dr. Jennifer Lodge said the study highlights the importance of sustained support for research in the United States, and of maintaining the country’s role as a global leader. “Our researchers are spending a disproportionate amount of time writing grants and searching for funding, rather than doing research and making breakthroughs,” she said.

New HPV testing guidelines for women
Dr. Stewart Massad explained that the FDA last spring approved HPV testing as a primary screening test to replace the pap test for cervical cancer prevention. He said that with the new approval, there now are recommendations that include screening for human papillomavirus in women beginning at age 25, and testing every three years for women with negative primary HPV tests. Those with positive tests for HPV 16 and 18, which are associated with a higher risk of cancer, should be followed with a colposcopy.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Nigerian-born Wash U engineer wins annual St. Louis Award for his cancer-seeing glasses
Dr. Sam Achilefu won the 2014 St. Louis Award for developing high-tech glasses that help surgeons “see” cancer cells during surgery, an advance that helps ensure no stray tumor cells are left behind. The St. Louis award was established in 1931 and recognizes a St. Louis area resident who “performed such a service as to bring greatest honor to the community.”
Other outlets: St. Louis Public Radio, St. Louis Business Journal
Related WUSM news release

KMOV-TV – Great Day St. Louis
Managing the stomach flu
Dr. Kirstin Lee, pediatric hospitalist and ChildrensMomDocs.org blog contributor, explained that when a child is throwing up and has diarrhea – symptoms commonly called ‘stomach flu’— the illness is usually caused by a virus. She suggested that parents work to keep their kids hydrated with popsicles or ice chips if they don’t want to drink. She also said children are contagious as long as symptoms are present and stressed frequent hand-washing as a preventative for everyone.

WNDU-TV     (South Bend, IN)
Antidepressants to treat Alzheimer’s disease?

The commonly prescribed antidepressant citalopram stopped the growth of plaques linked to Alzheimer’s in young, healthy adults. Study author Dr. John Cirrito said more research is needed to prove that the drugs help slow or stop Alzheimer’s. The research was published last May in Science Translational Medicine. Other outlets: Ivanhoe Newswire
Related WUSM news release

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Express Scripts, CVS limit options for hepatitis C patients in price deals
Dr. Jeff Crippin said the recently approved drugs to treat hepatitis C are more effective than previous treatments and have fewer side effects. Crippin said, “We’ve had patients who have been waiting 20 years for something to either cure their hepatitis C or something that they could take and not worry about being sick, so this has been a huge step in the right direction.” The story also highlights the controversy regarding the costs of these drugs and how the top two U.S. pharmacy benefit managers are limiting availability to some patients.

Innovations: New technology for predicting injuries
WU graduate student John Boyle developed new technology that may one day pinpoint minor strains and tiny injuries in the body’s tissues, predicting a more serious injury before it occurs. The same technology also may be developed to predict failures in buildings and bridges. Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Stavros Thomopoulos 
mentored Boyle and also commented.
Related WUSM news release

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Dean of Washington University School of Medicine plans to step down
Dr. Larry Shapiro said he has asked WU chancellor Mark S. Wrighton to begin the search for his successor and will continue to serve until a replacement is found. Shapiro, 68, is a two-time graduate from Washington University where he earned both undergraduate and medical degrees. He returned to Washington University in 2003 to lead the medical school, succeeding Dr. Bill Peck. Related WUSM news release

Community rallies behind 15-year-old cancer patient
The Catlin community in central Illinois came together to support Chance Kistler, a 15-year-old undergoing his second round of chemotherapy at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. Volunteers designed a T-shirt and organized a fundraiser dinner and a blood drive.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Parents talk back
In their monthly parenting chat, parenting columnist Aisha Sultan and Dr. Kathleen Berchelmann answered parents’ questions. In this installment, Dr. Berchelmann suggested that if parents catch teens drunk, they should plan one-on-one time together, specifically voice concerns about alcohol and drug use and make an effort to get to know their teen’s friends. Another parent had questions about potty training a 21-month-old, and Dr. Berchelmann suggested waiting until 24 months to begin the process.

KSMU-FM     (Lake of the Ozarks)
CoxHealth offers new pediatric services
CoxHealth has signed an agreement with SLCH, and pediatric general and urology surgeons at WUSM, that will send physicians to see patients in Springfield, Missouri, in the coming weeks.

The Examiner
New study reports adenotonsillectomy benefits childhood sleep apnea
A new sleep apnea study published in the journal Pediatrics found that adenotonsillectomy, compared with watchful waiting, resulted in significantly greater improvements in quality of life and sleep apnea symptoms in children. The study included patients followed by WUSM physicians at SLCH.

Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative
Tooth Fairy works magic to unearth new autism genes
In a recent autism study, researchers used baby teeth from children with autism to extract genetic material making whole genome sequencing possible without the need for an in-person visit. Researchers found five candidate genes, several of which have not been implicated in autism before. Dr. John Constantino, who was not involved in the study, said, “This is a groundbreaking study that needs replication but advances translational science in autism in a number of distinct ways.”

Managing diabetes in elderly: How safe?
Many older people with diabetes who have compromised health have been kept on intensive treatment regimens to control their blood sugar, which increases their risk for hypoglycemia, according to new research. And the researchers found that hypoglycemia is more dangerous than diabetes in some elderly patients. Dr. Christopher Carpenter, who wasn’t involved in the research, said, “The problem is that for decades, diabetes experts have drilled tight glycemic control into the mindset of physicians, and now evidence is suggesting that physicians need to ‘de-implement’ some of this training for some subsets of diabetics.”

Medscape          (Free registration required)
RA therapy: Study supports early treatment window
A new study of rheumatoid arthritis suggests that patients treated with disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs within a few months of symptom onset will be more susceptible to treatment than those who start therapy later. “More than ‘the earlier the better,’ they’re saying that if you start treatment in that window of time, between 3 and 5 months, then I think your outcomes will be much better,” Dr. Prabha Ranganathan said. She added that the findings are in line with what she sees in the clinic. Ranganathan was not involved in the study, published in Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

DailyRx News
Those temper tantrums may mean more than you think
Dr. Joan Luby recently published a study identifying behaviors that could raise red-flag warnings for parents, educators and health professionals. Children who are extremely defiant, very aggressive, and destructive toward other people and animals could have conduct disorder, a potentially serious mental health problem. “Previously, we did not understand the empirical differences between normal disruptive behavior – like temper tantrums, for example – and behaviors that signal problems,” Luby said. She added that children who display these behaviors should have a mental health assessment. The study was published in the journal Pediatrics. Related WUSM news release

KCRG-TV  (Cedar Rapids, Iowa)
Stopping NEC in the NICU
Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) syndrome, which eats away at the intestines of premature infants, develops in up to 10 percent of preemies and is fatal 25 to 35 percent of the time. Dr. Barbara Warner was co-first author of a recent WUSM study that found the population of bacteria in the intestinal tracts of premature infants may depend more on the babies’ biological make-up and gestational age at birth than on environmental factors. According to Warner, now that researchers have identified what happens in the digestive systems of preemies in a controlled environment, “…if we can identify a signature for NEC, we can intervene potentially earlier.”
Related WUSM news release

Thyroid cancer on the rise
Dr. Will Gillanders explained that the majority of thyroid cancers – about 70 percent – are found in women. He added that thyroid cancer may appear to be on the rise because physicians are ordering more imaging tests for people with neck pain and those tests can help identify small thyroid nodules. Symptoms include pain, discomfort or a lump in neck and a change in the voice.

KSDK-TV NewsChannel5 – The Frontline For Hope
Due to its popularity, KSDK is rebroadcasting the second season of the Frontline for Hope in its entirety Sunday mornings at 10 a.m.

KFSN-TV     (Fresno, CA)
Sickle cell: stopping kids’ silent strokes

Dr. Mike Noetzel studied 196 children with sickle cell disease ages 5 and older who had brain scans that showed evidence of silent strokes. For three years, 99 children received monthly transfusions; the rest did not receive transfusions. Researchers determined that the transfusions reduced the risk of future strokes by 58 percent. Related WUSM news release

Business Wire
Children’s Health and PetSmart partner to fund canine therapy program
PetSmart is funding the Paws for Hope program at St. Louis Children’s Hospital with a commitment of $425,000 over five years. Paws for Hope provides 21 dogs to visit hospitalized children at SLCH.

Contact us with your story ideas

Judy Martin

Washington University
School of Medicine
Media Relations



Twitter Facebook


Laura High

Barnes-Jewish Hospital



Twitter Facebook