A bi-weekly review of Barnes-Jewish Hospital, St. Louis Children's Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine media appearances.
IN THE NEWS June 3, 2014
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
Nine scientists are awarded Kavli Prizes
Nine scientists have won this year’s Kavil Prizes in astrophysics, neuroscience and nanoscience.  They include Dr. Marcus Raichle, who was among three researchers to share the Kavli Prize in Neuroscience for the discovery of specialized brain networks for memory and cognition. The prize is named for Fred Kavli, a Norwegian-born inventor, businessman and philanthropist, who died last year. Other outlets: ABC News, Reuters, Huffington Post  Related WUSM news release

New York Times
Hospitals look to health law, cutting charity
Hospital systems around the country have started scaling back financial assistance for lower- and middle-income people without health insurance to encourage these patients to sign up for coverage through online marketplaces created under the Affordable Care Act. The new law also reduces federal aid to hospitals that treat large numbers of poor and uninsured people, creating an additional pressure to restrict charity care. BJH has started charging co-payments to uninsured patients, no matter how poor they are. “We didn’t want to have a policy that would encourage people not to follow the mandate” to get health insurance, said June Fowler, BJC HealthCare VP of communications.

Prescription drugs have pushed heroin into the suburbs
A recent study in JAMA Psychiatry, led by Dr. Theodore Cicero, found that compared to 50 years ago, heroin users today are older, live in nonurban areas and are almost evenly male and female. In addition, these users probably came to heroin after taking a prescription opioid. “The price on the street for prescription painkillers, like OxyContin, got very expensive,” Cicero said. “An 80 milligram tablet would cost $80. Meanwhile, they can get heroin for $10.”  Other outlets: Washington Post, NBC News, Fox News, Philadelphia Inquirer,Journal Sentinel (Milwaukee, WI),
Related WUSM news release

Scientific American
How gut bacteria help make us fat and thin
Researchers have long known that the human body is home to all manner of microorganisms, but only in the past decade or so have they come to realize that these microbes outnumber our own cells 10 to one. These intestinal bacteria may help determine whether we are lean or obese. According to Dr. Jeffrey Gordon, keeping our gut microbes happy could be the elusive secret to weight control.

Fox News
Study questions benefit of vitamin D for asthma sufferers
Previous research had linked low vitamin D levels to more asthma-related problems, like weaker lungs and more asthma exacerbations. But itwasn’t clear if vitamin deficiencies were causing those problems, or if giving patients extra vitamin D was the answer. New research published in JAMA doesn’t support using vitamin D as a general treatment strategy for people struggling with asthma symptoms, according to lead author Dr. Mario Castro. Castro said he thinks it still is appropriate to treat some asthma patients with vitamin D while more research is being conducted. “I think there may be some benefit, and vitamin D is inexpensive and has (minimal) side effects,” he said.

KSDK-TV NewsChannel5
Local doctor sheds light on the MERS virus
MERS stands for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome and has recently spread to the United States. Dr. Steven Lawrence stressed common hand-hygiene techniques to prevent the spread of the virus. “The high death rate associated with MERS is one of the reasons this is a significant concern.”
Other outlet: KTVI-TV FOX 2

Science Daily
Soil bacteria may provide clues to curbing antibiotic resistance

Bacteria that naturally live in the soil have a vast collection of genes to fight off antibiotics, but the bacteria are much less likely to share these genes, according to a WUSM study recently published in Nature.  Using a technique they helped develop, the researchers, led by Dr. Gautam Dantas, isolated small fragments of bacterial DNA from the soils and screened those pieces for genes that confer antibiotic resistance. “We were happy to find that antibiotic resistance genes from soil bacteria generally aren’t poised to jump suddenly into pathogens,” Dantas said. “But we want to do everything we can — whether it’s changing how we treat infections in medical clinics or altering the way we manage the environments where bacteria grow — to keep the odds stacked against sharing of these genes.”  Other outlets:
Nature World News, Delhi Daily News (India), Daily Digest News, Medical News Today, News-Medical   Related WUSM news release

Sports on Earth
The price of pain

Eight retired National Football League (NFL) players recently filed a federal class-action lawsuit accusing the NFL of illegally supplying players with pain-killing and anti-inflammatory drugs that allowed them to play through injury but resulted in addiction and harm. The lawsuit quotes liberally from a Washington University study of 644 former NFL players, directed by Dr. Linda Cottler, and commissioned by ESPN and others.
Among the findings, the overall rate of misuse during NFL play was 37 percent – 2.9 times higher than the lifetime rate of nonmedical opioid use among the general population of a comparable age.  Other outlet: ESPN,Related WUSM news release

KMOX Radio
WashU researchers discover improved prostate cancer testing

Prostate biopsies performed using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are more likely to find aggressive tumors than those that rely on ultrasound, according to a recent WUSM study.  Related WUSM news release

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Local doctor’s crusade finally ends with tanning bed bill
The Missouri legislature recently sent a bill to Mo. Governor Jay Nixon that would require tanning facilities to receive parental consent for anyone younger than 17. Research has shown that tanning beds increase the risk of melanoma and other skin cancers. WUSM dermatologists have been campaigning for the past seven years to get representatives to consider legislation regulating tanning beds. “It’s been modified to a point that it’s acceptable for Missouri (residents),” dermatology resident Dr. Brundha Balaraman said. “Ideally, we would’ve wanted an 18-and-under ban to protect children from the risk of skin cancer.”
Related Post-Dispatch editorial

KSDK-TV NewsChannel 5
Shedding some light on tanning

Dermatologist Dr. Laurin Council explained that tanning beds emit both ultra-violet A and B radiation, which have been linked to increased risk of skin cancer. “In fact with tanning bed use, your risk of developing a melanoma increases 75 percent and that risk is even greater with earlier age of exposure,” she said. Council added that legislation recently passed by the state of Missouri requiring parental consent to use tanning beds for those 17 and younger is a step in the right direction to protect children from skin cancer.

St. Louis businessmen raising funds to help local cancer community
The St. Louis Men’s Group Against Cancer works to raise money for cancer research. The organization was founded by Mellvee Shahid, a prostate cancer survivor. “They fund and support cancer efforts throughout the whole region as well as our clinical trials, making novel treatments available to patients in our region,” said Siteman cancer researcher Dr. Katherine Weilbaecher.

KSDK-TV NewsChannel 5
“Right to Try” could give terminally ill patients hope
New legislation awaiting Mo. Governor Jay Nixon’s signature will allow patients who have exhausted all FDA-approved therapies to try experimental treatments, even if they’ve only cleared the first phase of testing. Doctors at Siteman Cancer Center say this is a good thing because right now, medical research and technology are moving faster than the approval process.

Science Daily
Optical brain scanner goes where other brain scanners can’t
A brain-scanning technology that tracks what the brain is doing by shining dozens of tiny LED lights on the head has been advanced by new research. The improvement avoids the radiation exposure and bulky magnets other forms of scanning require. The new optical approach is ideally suited for children and for patients with electronic implants, such as pacemakers, cochlear implants and deep brain stimulators (used to treat Parkinson’s disease). “When the neuronal activity of a region in the brain increases, highly oxygenated blood flows to the parts of the brain doing more work, and we can detect that,” said senior author Dr. Joseph Culver. “It’s roughly akin to spotting the rush of blood to someone’s cheeks when they blush.”
Related WUSM news release

KSDK-TV NewsChannel 5
What you need to know about diabetes and hot weather

For people living with diabetes, hot weather can lead to serious health problems. Dr. John Kirby said the heat – combined with summer behavior – sometimes leads to emergency room visits or hospitalizations. “People tend to be more active, their eating habits differ from their usual routine,” he said. “Because they’re out and about, they’re perspiring more and their own body temperature is going up.”

St. Louis Magazine
What it’s like to be a hospital helicopter pilot
When a pilot takes off on a transport to SLCH, he or she isn’t aware of the patient’s condition. That’s by design, explained pilot Skip Barthle, who said the pilot must remain focused and undistracted by the gravity of a child’s condition.

Sorting out fat fact from fiction
Connie Diekman explained that fats are part of a healthy diet, but she stressed the type of fat is important. “If you look at what you put on your plate, and the majority of the fat is from animal products, that’s probably not healthy,” Diekman said. Salmon, tuna, and olive oil provide healthy fats.  Endocrinologist Dr. Anne Goldberg explained that saturated fats are bad for your health and that a diet rich in vegetables, fruit, lean protein, nuts and fish reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.

KSDK-TV NewsChannel 5
Would you freeze away fat?

A procedure called CoolSculpting helps alleviate body fat by freezing water in fat cells, effectively killing them. The body discards the dead cells over time.  Plastic surgeon Dr. Marissa Tenenbaum said the ideal patient isn’t terribly overweight but has one or two problem areas.  “This is not a weight loss procedure,” she said. “It’s a contouring procedure, similar to liposuction.”

Trying to stay thin for the summer? Smoothies may prevent that
Smoothies offer a fast, easy way to get one’s daily allowance of fruits and vegetables. Dietitian Katie Lambert shared some simple ways to make sure home-made smoothies are healthy.

KSDK-TV NewsChannel 5
America’s Got Talent star singing for Siteman
Former America’s Got Talent contestant and current Opera Theatre of St. Louis performer Sean Panikkar is joining other artists June 9 in the Sing For Siteman fundraiser. “The Siteman Cancer Center is one of the jewels of St. Louis,” Panikkar said. “When we were asked if we would be willing to participate in this concert, we were thrilled because cancer is something that touches all of us.”

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Kathy Nolte tells others not to let down their guard after getting healthy

St. Louisan Kathy Nolte lost more than 50 pounds, ran 5K races, hired a personal trainer and reclaimed her health.  Then she had a heart attack, which required a stent. “People often don’t understand that the development of plaque (the material that blocks small arteries) takes decades,” said Dr. Richard Bach.  “So even after a life change that includes exercise, a change in diet and weight loss, heart disease can develop.”

KSDK-TV ShowMe St. Louis
Getting your toddler to sleep better
The MomDocs, Drs. Kirstin Lee, Kathleen Berchelmann and Kelly Ross, offered advice on how to keep toddlers in bed at bedtime. Among their suggestions, calmly escort the child back into bed every time he comes out, and use an open bedroom door as a privilege for children who remain in their beds.

Science News
Placenta harbors bacteria, may impact fetal health

Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine have discovered a small community of bacteria living in the placenta, a finding that overturns the conventional wisdom that the placenta is sterile. The study also suggests that the microbes may come from the mother’s mouth, affirming that good oral hygiene may be important for a healthy pregnancy. “These bacteria may live there and have a specific purpose,” such as seeding the fetus’s intestinal microbiome or building its immune system, said WUSM researcher Dr. Indira Mysorekar, who was not involved in the study.

KSDK-TV NewsChannel 5
How to avoid lawnmower accidents
Three children have been treated recently at SLCH for amputations or near-amputations from lawnmower-related accidents. Nurse practitioner Beth Schickler shared advice for parents on appropriate use of lawnmowers.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Women teaching women that heart disease is their biggest health threat

Most women don’t realize that heart disease is the greatest risk to their health, so several local and national efforts aim to highlight this issue.  They include Washington University’s all-female team of cardiologists and surgeons who focus on women’s heart disease.

HEC-TV Impact
Patients, paramedics meet for annual “clinical save” awards
May 2014
During a ceremony recognizing the role first responders play in the success and recovery young trauma patients, several teams got a chance to meet the children they rescued.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Teeth tips to help everyone smile

Pediatric hospitalist Dr. Kirstin Lee explained why parents should be concerned about cavities in baby teeth and offered advice about preventing them.

BioScience Technology
Alzheimer’s, other conditions linked to prion-like proteins
A new theory about disorders that attack the brain and spinal column has received a significant boost from WUSM scientists, led by senior author Marc Diamond. The theory attributes these disorders to proteins that act like prions, which are copies of a normal protein that have been corrupted in ways that cause diseases. Scientists previously thought that only one particular protein could be corrupted in this fashion, but they found that tau, a protein linked to Alzheimer’s disease and many other neurodegenerative conditions, also behaves very much like a prion.

Celebrate Forever Kelton Warrior Weekend
Two years ago, the Peter family lost their infant son Kelton to a rare disease called Trisomy 13 after eight days in the SLCH NICU. Inspired by their experience, the family has put together a fundraiser each year to support research and care for children with the disease.  Last year, they donated $17,000 to SLCH.

Fulton Sun
Super Sam supports light up court street
Family and friends of 5-year-old Sam Santhuff of Fulton, Mo., otherwise known as “Super Sam,” recently held a vigil for him.  Sam was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma late last year. After successfully completing chemotherapy, he relapsed within a week.  He is preparing for a stem-cell transplant.

Dylan at home and on the mend
Three-year-old Dylan Parsons is recovering at home in Scotland after undergoing selective dorsal rhizotomy with Dr. T.S. Park at SLCH. The procedure involves severing spinal rootlets that cause spasticity and inhibit mobility in children with cerebral palsy.  Other outlets: The Tele, Newbury Today and Northhamptonshire Telegraph.

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Judy Martin

Washington University
School of Medicine
Media Relations



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Laura High

Barnes-Jewish Hospital



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