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Scope Announcements, Stanford News

Scope wins award for its “creative and effective approach” to promoting academic medicine

Scope wins award for its "creative and effective approach" to promoting academic medicine

We’re happy to announce that Scope is a 2015 GIA Award for Excellence winner. The awards, given by the Association of American Medical Colleges, were designed to honor “the most creative and effective approaches used to promote academic medicine in the United States,” and we won in the electronic communications/social media category. We also received recognition from the group in 2012 and 2014.

This is a good time to also remind readers that there are several ways to consume our stories: We have a magazine on Flipboard, and all of our posts appear on Twitter in the @ScopeMedBlog feed.

Previously: Scope honored as among the best in digital health resources, Scope honored by the Association of American Medical Colleges, Five thousand blog entries – and counting, and Scope receives AAMC Award for Excellence

In the News, Pediatrics, Sleep, Stanford News, Videos

Stanford doc gives teens a crash course on the dangers of sleep deprivation

Stanford doc gives teens a crash course on the dangers of sleep deprivation

Numerous studies, including a big one published in Pediatrics earlier this year, have shown that adolescents are getting less sleep than ever before. But most teens are unlikley unaware of the dangers of sleep deprivation – and that’s something that a group of Stanford clinicians is trying to change. Rafael Pelayo, MD, with the Stanford Center for Sleep Sciences and Medicine, and colleagues recently gave a “crash course” on sleep, and the importance of getting enough, to students at nearby Menlo-Atherton High School. ABC7 captured the story in the video above.

Previously: Talking about teens’ “great sleep recession”, With school bells ringing, parents should ensure their children are doing enough sleeping, Study shows poor sleep habits as a teenager can “stack the deck against you for obesity later in life”, What are the consequences of sleep deprivation? and Want teens to eat healthy? Make sure they get a good night’s sleep

Grand Roundup

Grand Roundup: Top posts of March

Grand Roundup: Top posts of March

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

Stanford neurosurgeon/cancer patient Paul Kalanithi: “I can’t go on. I will go on.”: Paul Kalanithi, MD, who wrote eloquently and movingly about being diagnosed with lung cancer, died of the disease earlier this month. In a 1:2:1 podcast recorded last November, the 37-year-old first-time father reflected on his struggle with mortality, his changing perception of time and the meaning he continued to experience despite his illness.

For this doctor couple, the Super Bowl was about way more than football: Paul Kalanithi and his wife, Lucy, won a trip to the Super Bowl by raising money for lung-cancer research and winning the Lung Cancer Survivors Super Bowl Challenge, sponsored by the Chris Draft Family Foundation.

Patients with “invisible illnesses” speak out about challenges in their communities and workplaces: This post links to a recent NPR story during which Carly Medosch, a former ePatient scholar at Stanford’s Medicine X, speaks about discrimination in the workplace for those whose health challenges are not immediately obvious.

It’s Match Day: Good luck, medical students!: Small envelopes containing big news were handed out to medical students at Stanford, and those at 155 medical schools across the country, on March 20. A story on the day’s happenings can also be found here.

Stanford neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi, who touched countless lives with his writing, dies at 37: This post shares the obituary of Paul Kalanithi, who died on March 9.

Our most-shared story of the month: Stanford neurosurgeon/cancer patient Paul Kalanithi: “I can’t go on. I will go on.”

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

Stop skipping dessert:” A Stanford neurosurgeon and cancer patient discusses facing terminal illness: In this 2014 Q&A, Paul Kalanithi talked about his experience with cancer and about the importance of end-of-life decisions.

Science, Stanford News

Using ants to teach high-schoolers about science

Using ants to teach high-schoolers about science


Now this is fun: Stanford biologist Deborah M. Gordon, PhD, has developed a “citizen science” lesson plan that gets high-school students to study ants. Yes, ants. Gordon, who studies group behavior and is also a member of the Stanford Neurosciences Institute, sent hundreds of the picnic pests to the orbiting International Space Station last year, and this collaborative work is a continuation of that research.

From a Stanford News piece:

The lesson plan guides students as they investigate new collective search algorithms in species of ants that haven’t been studied – and there are more than 14,000 species to learn about. Ants may not encounter microgravity on Earth, but they search in every other kind of environment. The results might offer suggestions on how to program robots for rescue and exploration. Collective search algorithms are used to program rescue robots to search efficiently. When robots search dangerous territory for humans, it may be most effective, and cheapest, to mimic ants and not require the robots to report back to a central controller.

“Deborah Gordon is a scientist who wants to reach out to classroom teachers who are preparing our future scientists and citizens,” [Tammy Moriarty, PhD, a professional development associate at Stanford’s Center to Support Excellence in Teaching] says. The lesson plan engages students with a scientific inquiry that does not have a predictable answer. As a result, the students are actually doing science, including collecting and observing wild ants and looking for patterns in their behavior.

Students will use technology, such as cell phone photography or video, to record ant behavior and see how ants go about searching a new area thoroughly. Using affordable and commonly available materials, the students will build an enclosure that allows them to observe ant behavior as the ants explore a new area. Then they will measure the ants’ movements, to see how the ants coordinate their search and how well they cover the area. When student researchers record their results in an online database, the data will be available to other students and scientists.

It’s true that the work of these young scientists is unlikely to have direct applications to human health. But anything that interests kids in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects, as this lesson plan does, is a good thing in my book – and could potentially steer them towards a career in medicine or biomedical research.

Previously: Internships expose local high-schoolers to STEM careers and academic life, Free DIY microscope kits to citizen scientists with inspiring project ideas and Fruit flies headed to the International Space Station to study the effects of weightlessness on the heart
Photo by Troup Dresser

Clinical Trials, In the News, Research, Stanford News, Technology

Lights, camera, action: Stanford cardiologist discusses MyHeart Counts on ABC’s Nightline

Lights, camera, action: Stanford cardiologist discusses MyHeart Counts on ABC's Nightline

GMA shoot - 560

Apple’s new ResearchKit, and Stanford Medicine’s MyHeart Counts iPhone app, were highlighted on ABC’s Nightline on Friday. Michael McConnell, MD, professor of cardiovascular medicine and principal investigator for the MyHeart Counts study, was interviewed, telling business correspondent Rebecca Jarvis around the 4-minute mark that the app will “definitely” change the way his job works. “It gives us a whole new way to do research,” he explained. “Traditionally reaching many people to participate in research studies is quite challenging. The ability to reach people through their phone is one major advance.”

Previously: Build it (an easy way to join research studies) and the volunteers will comeMyHeart Counts app debuts with a splash and Stanford launches iPhone app to study heart health
Photo by Margarita Gallardo

Events, Medical Education, Stanford News

Stanford Medicine’s Match Day, in pictures

Stanford Medicine's Match Day, in pictures

There was a lot of excitement at the medical school campus today, where 77 students found out where they’ve been “matched” for their residencies. Norbert von der Groeben captured the celebration through a series of photos; watch for more on the morning’s event here on Monday.

Previously: It’s Match Day: Good luck, medical students! and At Match Day 2014, Stanford med students take first steps as residents

Grand Roundup

Grand Roundup: Top posts of February

Grand Roundup: Top posts of February

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

Sticky situation: How sugar affects our health: In this post, a clinical dietician with Stanford Health Care answers questions on the health risks of consuming too much sugar and offers tips on how to cut back.

Math and the brain: Memorization is overrated, says education expert: The research of Jo Boaler, PhD, a Stanford professor of mathematics education, shows that students are better at math when they’ve developed “number sense,” or the ability to use numbers flexibly and understand their logic.

For this doctor couple, the Super Bowl was about way more than football: Neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi, MD, and his wife, Lucy, won a trip to the Super Bowl by raising money for lung-cancer research and winning the Lung Cancer Survivors Super Bowl Challenge, sponsored by the Chris Draft Family Foundation. Kalanithi was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2013.

Letting go of my secret about Charcot-Marie-Tooth, “the biggest disease no one has heard of”: As part of our Inspire series, a patient with Charcot-Marie-Tooth shares her story of living with – and opening up about – the disease.

Medical student-turned-entrepreneur harnesses Google Glass to improve doctor-patient relationship: Third-year medical student Pelu Tran is the co-founder of a company that helps doctors with patient record-keeping via Google Glass. Tran was recently named to Forbes’ “30-Under-30: Healthcare.”

Our most-shared story of the month: Sticky situation: How sugar affects our health

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.

Immunology, In the News, Nutrition, Pediatrics, Research

Peanut products and babies: Now okay?

Peanut products and babies: Now okay?

peanut butter2 - big

Updated 2-25-15: Allergy expert Sharon Chinthrajah, MD, discussed the study and its implications on KQED’s Forum today:


2-24-15: Any parent of young children is likely familiar with the warnings: It’s not okay to give your baby peanut butter, or any other peanut product, before he or she turns one. Don’t do it! These instructions are so imprinted on my brain that I practically did a double-take when I came across headlines about new research suggesting that infants should, indeed, be fed peanut products – in order to prevent the development of peanut allergies.

This isn’t the first time that the benefits of giving allergenic foods to babies have been outlined, but the language surrounding this study has been particularly strong. As the writer of a New York Times blog entry explained, the authors of the study and accompanying editorial “called the results ‘so compelling’ and the rise of peanut allergies ‘so alarming’ that guidelines for how to feed infants at risk of peanut allergies should be revised soon.” He went on to outline the study findings:

In the study, conducted in London, infants 4 to 11 months old who were deemed at high risk of developing a peanut allergy were randomly assigned either to be regularly fed food that contained peanuts or to be denied such food. These feeding patterns continued until the children were 5 years old. Those who consumed the foods that had peanuts in them were far less likely to be allergic to peanuts when they turned 5.

After hearing the news, I reached out to the folks at the Sean N. Parker Center for Allergy Research at Stanford to get their take on the findings. Sharon Chinthrajah, MD, a clinical assistant professor of medicine, explained that this work is the first randomized controlled study to look at how to prevent peanut allergies. She told me:

We’ve all been waiting for the results of this landmark study to confirm the shift in the paradigm of when to introduce foods into the diet. Early introduction of peanut in the right infants can prevent peanut allergy. Dr. [Gideon Lack, the leader of the study] and colleagues were able to show an 80 percent reduction in peanut allergy in children who started eating peanut early and incorporated it into their regular diet.

Chinthrajah believes the guidelines on babies and peanut products should be revised, “because peanut allergies affect 2 percent of our population in the U.S. and most people do not outgrow this allergy.” But, as other experts have done, she cautions that not everyone should introduce peanuts and other foods into their diet early. “Those who are ‘high-risk’ – who have other allergic conditions such as eczema or other food allergies – should consult with their allergist to see if it would be safe to introduce peanut into their child’s diet,” she advised.

Previously: Taking a bite out of food allergies: Stanford doctors exploring new way to help sufferers, Simultaneous treatment for several food allergies passes safety hurdle, Stanford team shows, Researchers show how DNA-based test could keep peanut allergy at bay, A mom’s perspective on a food allergy trial and Searching for a cure for pediatric food allergies
Photo by Anna

Scope Announcements, Stanford News

100,000 followers for @StanfordMed

100,000 followers for @StanfordMed

Twitter 100K mark - 560v2

Over the weekend, we reached a milestone on Twitter: Our @StanfordMed feed now has 100,000 followers. We’re happy to be followed by so many people (it seems like just yesterday that we were feeling giddy over the 50,000 mark), and we hope you’ll consider following us if you don’t already.

And as a reminder, you can also read about the latest news and developments on the school’s Facebook page, and you can now read Scope stories via Flipboard.

Previously: Introducing the Scope magazine on Flipboard50,000 Twitter followers – and countingFive thousand blog entries – and counting and Introducing the @ScopeMedBlog Twitter feed

Cardiovascular Medicine, Health and Fitness, Public Health, Research, Women's Health

Even moderate exercise appears to provide heart-health benefits to middle-aged women

Even moderate exercise appears to provide heart-health benefits to middle-aged women

woman on bike

It’s no secret that exercise offers a plethora of health benefits; tons of research has established that. But I was still heartened to read about a new study showing that physically active middle-aged women had lower risks of heart disease, stroke and blood clots than did their inactive counterparts. (I read about the work on my phone as I walked home from a barre class last night, which made me feel especially happy about having had just worked out.)

Researchers from University of Oxford looked at data from 1.1 million women in the United Kingdom, who were followed for an average of nine years. From an American Heart Association release:

In the study:

  • Women who performed strenuous physical activity— enough to cause sweating or a faster heart beat — two to three times per week were about 20 percent less likely to develop heart disease, strokes or blood clots compared to participants who reported little or no activity.
  • Among active women, there was little evidence of further risk reductions with more frequent activity.

Physical activities associated with reduced risk included walking, gardening, and cycling.

Lead author Miranda Armstrong, MPhil, PhD, commented that “inactive middle-aged women should try to do some activity regularly,” but then noted that the results suggest that “to prevent heart disease, stroke and blood clots, our results suggest that women don’t need to do very frequent activity.” That’s good news, ladies!

The study appears in the journal Circulation.

Previously: Lack of exercise shown to have largest impact on heart disease risk for women over 30, Exercise is valuable in preventing sedentary death, Study shows regular physical activity, even modest amounts, can add years to your life, CDC report shows exercise becoming a popular prescription among doctors and Brisk walking reduces stroke risk among women
Image by Thomas Hawk

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