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Clinical Trials, NIH, Nutrition, Obesity, Research, Stanford News

Stanford seeks participants for weight-loss study

Stanford seeks participants for weight-loss study

Should diets come in different shapes and sizes? Stanford researchers are exploring that question and are seeking participants for a year-long weight-loss study that aims to understand why people may respond differently to the same diet. Titled “One Diet Does Not Fit All,” the study will examine how factors such as genetic influences and eating and sleeping habits have an impact on a diet’s effectiveness.

From a release:

Participants will be assigned randomly to either a very low-fat or very low-carbohydrate diet for 12 months. They will be required to attend weekly classes at Stanford for the first three months, once every other week for the following three months, and once a month for the remainder of the study. Participants must also be willing to have fasting blood samples drawn four times during the 12-month period and participate in online and written surveys. They will receive all test results at the end of the study.

The study is part of a five-year project funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Nutrition Science Initiative. Following an enrollment last year of 200, this spring researchers hope to enroll at least 135 men and women (pre-menopausal only) between the ages of 18 and 50 who are overweight or obese and are generally in good health.

For a complete list of inclusion criteria, click here. To determine eligibility for this study, complete a brief online survey. For more information, contact Jennifer Robinson at nutrition@stanford.edu.

Previously: How physicians address obesity may affect patients’ success in losing weight, To meet weight loss goals, start exercise and healthy eating programs at the same time, The trouble with the current calorie-counting system, Smaller plates may not be helpful tools for dieters, study suggests and Losing vitamins – along with weight – on a diet

Grand Roundup

Grand Roundup: Top posts for week of March 30

The five most-read stories this week on Scope were:

Stanford bioengineer develops a 50-cent paper microscopeManu Prakash, PhD, assistant professor of bioengineering, has developed an ultra-low-cost paper microscope to aid disease diagnosis in developing regions. The device is further described in a technical paper.

Free DIY microscope kits to citizen scientists with inspiring project ideas: Through the Ten Thousand Microscope Project, Manu Prakash is giving away 10,000 build-your-own paper microscope kits to citizen scientists with the most inspiring ideas for how to use his new invention, called the Foldscope.

The brain whisperer: Stanford neurologist talks about his work, shares tips with aspiring doctors: Last week at Med School 101, neurologist Josef Parvizi, MD, PhD, shared with high-school students how he collaborated with musician Chris Chafe, PhD, on a “brain stethoscope” that can translate brainwaves into music.

Bad news for pill poppers? Little clear evidence for Vitamin D efficacy, says Stanford’s John Ioannidis: A large study of vitamin D led by John Ioannidis, MD, DSc, found that more well-designed studies and trials are necessary before firm conclusions can be drawn about its efficacy.

Double vision: How the brain creates a single view of the world: Carla Shatz, PhD, Stanford Bio-X director, has shown that a protein originally known for its role in the immune system, called MHC Class I D, or D for short, is present in the nerves of the developing brain.

And still going strong – the most popular post from the past:

The mystery surrounding lung-transplant survival rates: A 2012 article in the San Francisco Chronicle offered a look at the challenges facing lung transplant patients and explored why a significant number don’t live beyond the five-year mark, despite improvements in survival rates.

Behavioral Science, Nutrition, Obesity, Research, Women's Health

Obesity and smoking together may decrease taste of fat and sweet but increase consumption

puddingA study from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and Philadelphia’s Monell Center has found that obese women who smoke cigarettes may have reduced sensitivity to the tastes of sweetness and fat in food and may be more likely to eat more calories.

Researchers engaged 47 female participants ages 21 to 41, grouped as follows: obese smokers, obese nonsmokers, normal-weight smokers, and normal-weight nonsmokers. All of the participants tasted vanilla puddings and were asked to rate the sweetness and creaminess of each one. The researchers found that the women who were obese and smokers rated less creaminess and sweetness in the puddings than the other three groups did.

From a release:

[Study author Yanina Pepino, PhD,] cautioned that the study only identified associations between smoking and taste rather than definitive reasons why obese smokers were less likely to detect fat and sweetness. But the findings imply that the ability to perceive fat and sweetness — and to derive pleasure from food — is compromised in female smokers who are obese, which could contribute to the consumption of more calories.

“Obese people often crave high-fat foods,” she said. “Our findings suggest that having this intense craving but not perceiving fat and sweetness in food may lead these women to eat more. Since smoking and obesity are risk factors for cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, the additional burden of craving more fats and sugars, while not fully tasting them, could be detrimental to health.”

The results were published in the journal Obesity.

Previously: Obesity is a disease – so now what?How eating motivated by pleasure affects the brain’s reward system and may fuel obesity and The brain’s control tower for pleasure
Photo by dutchfulthinking.blogspot.com

Aging, Medicine and Society, Stanford News

Stanford Distinguished Careers Institute encourages “personal reflection and intellectual exploration”

Stanford Distinguished Careers Institute encourages "personal reflection and intellectual exploration"

PizzoStanford University announced today a new center to support highly accomplished leaders who are mid-career in public or private sector positions and seeking new resources and influences to prepare for their next steps. The Stanford Distinguished Careers Institute (DCI) will offer 20 participants access to faculty and classes in all seven of Stanford’s schools, including the School of Medicine. Additionally, the DCI Fellows will participate in specially designed programs including a core program of weekly seminars and discussions, one-to-two day meetings on key issues, and monthly dinners with faculty scholars and Stanford and Silicon Valley community leaders.

Philip Pizzo, MD, former dean of the medical school, is founding director of the institute, which is a partnership with the Stanford Center on Longevity.

From a Stanford News article:

“We know what role universities play in early life and in stimulating the first phase of careers,” said [Pizzo], who returned to teaching in 2012 after serving as dean of Stanford School of Medicine for 12 years. “What is their role in mid- to later-career life transitions and journeys?”

“Life should be filled with new journeys and new opportunities, and shouldn’t be affixed to traditional stopping points that are no longer relevant,” said Pizzo, who is the David and Susan Heckerman professor of pediatrics, and of microbiology and immunology at Stanford. “We need to recalibrate the way we think about the life journey, and recognize that individuals have different things to offer and to gain at different stages in life.”

Pizzo said the institute will serve as a transition to new ventures for participants, allowing them to build on their life experiences to create something unique that will improve themselves and the world.

“The new way forward that emerges from participating in the institute can be one long-anticipated and hoped-for, or one not yet imagined,” he said.

Previously: The legacy of Stanford’s Philip Pizzo and Phil Pizzo, the marathon man, moves on
Photo by L.A. Cicero

Behavioral Science, Mental Health, Public Safety, Stanford News

Stanford’s Keith Humphreys on Golden Gate Bridge suicide prevention: Get the nets

GGBridgeOver on the Huffington Post, Keith Humphreys, PhD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at Stanford, writes about a tragic phenomenon in the Bay Area: the popularity of suicide by jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge. He makes a case to put public money toward installing nets and other suicide-prevention services there and in other suicide “hotspots.”

From the post:

Professor Richard Seiden [PhD] painstakingly tracked down death records for the 515 individuals who had been prevented by police from jumping off the bridge from 1937 to 1971. Remarkably, only 6 percent had committed suicide. Even if every individual who died in what was believed to be an accident were assumed to have intentionally caused their own deaths, the proportion of suicides rose only to 10 percent. In other words, 90 percent or more of people stopped from committing suicide at the Golden Gate Bridge lived out the full natural extent of their lives.

Previously: Full-length video available for Stanford’s Health Policy Forum on serious mental illnessLucile Packard Children’s Hospital partners with high schools on student mental health programs and ECT for depression – not so shocking
Photo by image_monger

Cancer, Emergency Medicine, Medicine and Society

An emergency medicine physician’s take on honoring your emotions

But how do you really feel? Over on KevinMD.com, Anoop Kumar, MD, reflects on his personal and professional experiences with cancer. The emergency physician cares for people with acute complications from cancer and related treatments. In the post, Kumar describes his journey through the death of his grandmother when he was in seventh grade, the bursting of a dam of emotional supression later on, and the continued leaking of grief as he confronts his confusion, sadness and loss around the event.

Inspired by a 2010 article in The Guardian, Kumar urges readers dealing with hardship to “be positive. Or be negative. Or be confused. But whatever you are, be yourself.”

Previously: Becoming Doctors: Stanford med students reflect and share experiences through podcasts

Events, Medical Education, Stanford News

At Med School 101, teens learn that it’s “so cool to be a doctor”

At Med School 101, teens learn that it's "so cool to be a doctor"

Students exam brain of animals during the brain lab session at Medicine on the sidelines at Med School 101 at Stanford University School of Medicine on Friday, March 28, 2014. ( Norbert von der Groeben/ Stanford School of Medicine )

“I was once in high school,” anesthesiologist Sean Mackey, MD, PhD, told a roomful of ninth-through-twelfth-graders Friday at Med School 101. Now he runs a large NIH-funded lab, takes care of patients, makes scientific discoveries, and helps people get better. Mackey delivered his talk on pain and the brain to the aspiring medical professionals at a high level. “This is the same talk that I give a national audience of experts,” he said – for his younger audience he just explains the jargon. And he includes clips from The Princess Bride, selected with the help of his 17-year-old son, to illustrate certain pain points.

Classes at Med School 101 tend to swing this way – with the instructors not mincing science while still making learning about medicine as fun as it is. In its eighth year, Med School 101 drew 140 students from 10 local high schools to Stanford’s Li Ka Shing Center for Learning and Knowledge to try on white coats, so to speak. Ann Weinacker, MD, chief of staff at Stanford Hospital & Clinics, welcomed students in the morning and shared, “It is so cool to be a doctor.”

Sleep expert Rafael Pelayo, MD, explained to the students attending his lecture why we sleep and outlined some common sleep disorders in adults and children and how medical science has addressed them. “When I started at Stanford 20 years ago, we didn’t know what caused narcolepsy,” Pelayo said. “Now we know it’s an autoimmune disease.”

For her session on global health, Sherry Wren, MD, a professor of surgery, talked about her experience volunteering with Doctors Without Borders in Africa. She caught students’ attention with some sobering statistics: Only 3.5 percent of surgeries worldwide are done in low-income countries; 2 billion people have no access to surgery; and in Africa alone, 42 million people presently have problems that could be treated by surgery.

In the ever-popular session, “So you want to go to med school?” with Charles Prober, MD, senior associate dean of medical education, students named different specialties within medicine and Prober explained their functions and sub-specialties. Questions on preparing for a career in medicine, and on what it takes to get into a good medical school, flowed, with Prober telling the students that the name of their college doesn’t matter as much as what they do there. (Check out the @SUMedicine Twitter feed and the hashtag #SUMed101 for more.)

While Prober mentioned the “big three” list of uses for an MD – patient care, research and education – many of the presenting faculty described other ways to be involved in health care, including public health, nursing, and physician assistant roles.

One young lady told me she was in seventh grade when she got the idea that she might want to be a doctor, but really solidified her plans in eighth grade. Where is she now? “Ninth grade.”

Previously: Med School 101 kicks off on Stanford campus todayLive tweeting sessions at Stanford’s Med School 101Bay Area students get a front-row seat to practicing medicine, scientific research and A quick primer on getting into medical school
Photo, of students in a brain-focused session, by Norbert von der Groeben

Grand Roundup

Grand Roundup: Top posts for the week of March 23

The five most-read stories this week on Scope were:

Stanford bioengineer develops a 50-cent paper microscopeManu Prakash, PhD, assistant professor of bioengineering, has developed an ultra-low-cost paper microscope to aid disease diagnosis in developing regions. The device is further described in a technical paper.

Free DIY microscope kits to citizen scientists with inspiring project ideas: Through the Ten Thousand Microscope Project, Manu Prakash is giving away 10,000 build-your-own paper microscope kits to citizen scientists with the most inspiring ideas for how to use his new invention, called the Foldscope.

At Match Day 2014, Stanford med students take first steps as residents: During Match Day 2014, medical students around the country learned where they would be paired to begin residency. Tracie White reports on this year’s event from the Li Ka Shing Center for Learning and Knowledge, where Stanford students opened envelopes containing the news.

Stanford microscope inventor featured on TED Talk: In a TED Talk video, Manu Prakash builds and demonstrates his 50-cent paper microscope.

What the experience of Swedish snuff can teach us about e-cigarettes: Addiction expert Keith Humphreys, PhD, uses the example of Swedish snuff (known as “snus”) to examine the fundamental question at play in the current e-cigarette debate: Would it be a net harm or a net benefit to public health?

And still going strong – the most popular post from the past:

What are the consequences of sleep deprivation?: Brandon Peters, MD, an adjunct clinical faculty member at the Stanford Center for Sleep Sciences and Medicine, explains how lack of sleep can negatively affect a person’s well-being in this Huffington Post piece.

Imaging, In the News, Orthopedics, Research

Goo inside bones provides structural support, study finds

Goo inside bones provides structural support, study finds

As high-schoolers swarm the med school campus today, hold human brains and satisfy their taste for science, I can’t help but wish the show “You Can’t Do That on Television” still existed and that the producers would set up in the parking lot and slime each participant upon completion of the day. But a welcome alternative is news that scientists have discovered gooey matter inside human bones.

In a 60-Second Health piece, writer Dina Fine Maron explains how “a combination of imaging techniques and modeling has revealed that our bones are filled with a natural chemical goo that’s key to the bones’ function as support structures,” and that the information could be used to inform osteoporosis treatment and prevention. The researchers’ findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Previously: Exploring the use of yoga to improve the health and strength of bones, 419 million year-old fish fossil may reveal origins of the human jaw and  Teen girls become orthopaedic surgeons for a day

Health and Fitness, In the News, Obesity, Public Health

In Boston, doctor’s orders may include discounted bike-share memberships

Some Boston docs are delivering a dose of preventive care the old-fashioned way. Encouraging physical exercise under the city’s new “Prescribe-a-Bike” program, physicians at Boston Medical Center can refer low-income patients to a $5 bike-share membership, complete with helmet.

Common Health reports:

“Obesity is a significant and growing health concern for our city, particularly among low-income Boston residents,” BMC President and CEO Kate Walsh said in a statement. “Regular exercise is key to combating this trend, and Prescribe-a-Bike is one important way our caregivers can help patients get the exercise they need to be healthy.”

Previously: A bike helmet that doubles as a stress-o-meter and Modest increases in bike ridership could yield major economic, health benefits

Stanford Medicine Resources: