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Big data, Events, Stanford News, Videos

Stanford bioengineer discusses mining social media and smartphone data for biomedical research

Stanford bioengineer discusses mining social media and smartphone data for biomedical research

During the 2014 Big Data in Biomedicine conference, Stanford bioengineer and geneticist Russ Altman, MD, PhD, spoke about the possibility of collecting data directly from patients, via social media or smartphones, and using it to compliment traditional methods of gathering medical information to give clinicians an unprecedented capability to assess individuals’ state of health.

“One of the most exciting things is the ability to combine data at multiple levels,” he says in the video above. “We have an amazing ability to collect molecular data, cellular data, organism data from electronic medical records and population data about what’s happening at the population and global scale. The beauty of informatics is we don’t have to be tied to one of those levels.”

At the upcoming Big Data in Biomedicine conference, Altman will moderate a discussion with Kathy Hudson, PhD, deputy director for Science, Outreach, and Policy at the National Institutes of Health. Hudson leads the science policy, legislation, and communications efforts of the NIH and serves as a senior advisor to the NIH Director Francis Collins, MD, PhD. She is responsible for creating major new strategic and scientific initiatives and was a key architect of the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences and the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative.

Registration for the conference, which will be held May 20-22 at Stanford, is currently open. More details about the program can be found on its website.

Previously: Big data used to help identify patients at risk of deadly high-cholesterol disorder, Examining the potential of big data to transform health care and Registration for Big Data in Biomedicine conference now open

Research, Sports, Stanford News

Stanford bioengineers and clinicians team up to shed light on how concussions affect the brain

Stanford bioengineers and clinicians team up to shed light on how concussions affect the brain

9764280602_4d132cd012_zIn an effort to better understand and prevent concussions, bioengineers and clinicians at Stanford have turned athletic fields into laboratories to tackle fundamental questions about brain injuries. A story recently published in Stanford Magazine offers a detailed look at the ongoing research involving high-tech, data-gathering mouth guards worn by players during games to record the impact of hits and advanced imaging studies to measure subtle changes on athletes’ brain scans.

Kristin Sainani writes:

Unfortunately, after years of inattention, the science of concussions remains in its infancy. “We don’t even know what a concussion is at a basic, biological level,” says Mona Hicks, who oversaw traumatic brain injury research at the National Institutes of Health for nine years and is now chief scientific officer at One Mind, a nonprofit focused on brain disease. This scientific void creates uncertainty when it comes to addressing such controversies as how long to hold concussed athletes out of play, whether to ban heading in youth soccer and how much to change the game of football.

David Camarillo, assistant professor of bioengineering and a former football player at Princeton University, is studying the physics of such hits. His lab has outfitted most of Shaw’s team with high-tech, data-gathering mouth guards that the players wear during games. Seattle-based X2Biosystems had developed prototypes for a commercial product; Camarillo’s group customized the design for research use. The devices measure how violently a player’s head gets tossed around during collisions, falls and other impacts.

“My long-term goal is to prevent concussions,” Camarillo says. “The first step is to understand what causes them.”

Previously: Forces at work in concussions more complicated than previously thought, new Stanford study reveals, Stanford undergrad studies cellular effects of concussions, Developing a computer model to better diagnose brain damage, concussions and Stanford researchers working to combat concussions in football
Photo by West Point – The U.S. Military Academy

Big data, Events, Genetics, Stanford News, Videos

Using genetics to answer fundamental questions in biology, medicine and anthropology

Using genetics to answer fundamental questions in biology, medicine and anthropology

At last year’s Big Data in Biomedicine conference, Stanford geneticist Carlos Bustamante, PhD, spoke about the potential of using genetic information to answer fundamental questions in biology, medicine and anthropology. In this video from the 2014 event, Bustamante explains his lab’s efforts to better understand the structure of human genome, how genetic variations are portioned among different human populations and the significance of this information for designing medical genetic studies.

Bustamante will return to the Big Data in Biomedicine conference in May to moderate the genomics session. Speakers for the session are Christina Curtis, PhD, assistant professor of medicine and genetics at Stanford; Yaniv Erlich, PhD, assistant professor of computer science at Columbia University and a core member at the New York Genome Center; David Glazer, director of Engineering at Google and founder of the Google Genomics team; and Heidi Rehm, PhD, director of the Partners Laboratory for Molecular Medicine and associate professor of pathology at Harvard Medical School.

The conference will be held May 20-22 at the Li Ka Shing Center for Learning and Knowledge at Stanford; registration details can be found on the event website.

Previously: Big data used to help identify patients at risk of deadly high-cholesterol disorder, Examining the potential of big data to transform health care and Registration for Big Data in Biomedicine conference now open

Events, Obesity, Pediatrics, Stanford News, Videos

Childx speaker Matthew Gillman discusses obesity prevention

Childx speaker Matthew Gillman discusses obesity prevention

The inaugural Childx conference was held here last month, and video interviews featuring keynote speakers, panelists and moderators are now on the Stanford YouTube channel. To continue the discussion of driving innovation in maternal and child health, we’ll be featuring a selection of the videos this month on Scope.

The prevalence of childhood obesity in the United States has not changed significantly since 2004 and remains at about 17 percent. However, the rate of obesity among preschool children, ages 2 to 5, has dropped from nearly 14 percent to 8.4 percent, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Matthew Gillman, MD, a professor in the Department of Nutrition at Harvard Medical School, is among the group of researchers working to understand why rates of obesity among younger children have decreased.

In the above video interview from the Childx conference, Gillman discusses two possible reasons why fewer children under the age of five are obese and how this statistic points to potential prenatal underpinnings that influence a child’s risk of obesity. He goes on to explain how researchers previously believed that our health habits in adulthood gave rise to chronic disease, but that studies have shown the risk for these conditions may be determined early in life, even before birth. Watch his full interview to learn more about how fetal development influences our overall health.

Previously: “It’s not just science fiction anymore”: Childx speakers talk stem cell and gene therapy, Global health and precision medicine: Highlights from day two of Stanford’s Childx conference, Innovating for kids’ health: More from first day of Stanford’s Childx and “What we’re really talking about is changing the arc of children’s lives:” Stanford’s Childx kicks off

In the News, Mental Health, Research, Sleep

The importance of screening soldiers for sleep problems to combat mental-health conditions

The importance of screening soldiers for sleep problems to combat mental-health conditions

Watching over

A new report from the RAND Corporation suggests that treating military members’ sleep disturbances early on may be an important step in preventing serious mental-health conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and traumatic brain injury.

The two-year multi-method study examined sleep-related policies and programs across the U.S. Department of Defense and surveyed almost 2,000 veterans from various branches of the military to evaluate their sleep habits. The findings emphasized the negative effects of poor sleep on soldiers’ mental health, daytime impairment and perceived operational readiness; and it outlined interventions for helping identify and prevent sleep problems for service members.

The Huffington Post reports:

The researchers recommended that the military improve screening for sleep disturbance, and develop guidelines for doctors on how to identify and treat sleep disorders in the military. Apps on mobile phones might be one new way to identify and monitor sleep problems so they do not become chronic and debilitating, the researchers said.

Although the new report focused on activity-duty troops, studies show that sleep problems are often missed in veterans as well, [Wendy Troxel, PhD, co-author of the report] said, so there is also a need to develop guidelines for treating this population. In a previous survey of 3,000 veterans, 74 percent had symptoms of insomnia, but only 28 percent had talked with their doctor about it, Troxel said.

The researchers also recommended improving policies and programs to educate military personnel about the importance of sleep, and provide guidance on how to help military members get better sleep.

Previously: Study shows benefits of breathing meditation among veterans with PTSD, The promise of yoga-based treatments to help veterans with PTSD and Using mindfulness therapies to treat veterans’ PTSD
Photo by DVIDSHUB

Events, Parenting, Pediatrics, Stanford News, Videos

Pediatric health expert Alan Guttmacher outlines key issues facing children’s health today

Pediatric health expert Alan Guttmacher outlines key issues facing children's health today

The inaugural Childx conference was held here last month, and video interviews featuring keynote speakers, panelists and moderators are now on the Stanford YouTube channel. To continue the discussion of driving innovation in maternal and child health, we’ll be featuring a selection of the videos this month on Scope.

During his keynote speech at Stanford’s recent Childx conference, Alan Guttmacher, MD, director of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Development, told attendees, “We need to be a society that values children.”

In the above video, Guttmacher emphasizes this point as he outlines key issues facing children’s health today. He explains that it’s the dawn of a new era in medical research with the potential to improve the lives of children throughout their life span. To make a lasting difference in children’s lives, he says, research needs to go beyond the medical approach and integrate social and environmental factors. He highlights the example of preterm birth, saying that while we’ve made strides in reducing the infant mortality rate of babies born too early, more needs to be done to understand the causes of preterm birth and prevent it.

Watch the full interview to learn more about why investing in pediatrics research can help the generations of tomorrow build a healthier future.

Previously: “It’s not just science fiction anymore”: Childx speakers talk stem cell and gene therapy, Global health and precision medicine: Highlights from day two of Stanford’s Childx conference, Innovating for kids’ health: More from first day of Stanford’s Childx, “What we’re really talking about is changing the arc of children’s lives:” Stanford’s Childx kicks off and Countdown to Childx: Q&A with pediatric health expert Alan Guttmacher

Events, Medicine X, Patient Care, Stanford News, Technology, Videos

Medicine X conference to focus on the theme of “Great eXpectations”

Medicine X conference to focus on the theme of "Great eXpectations"

Known for its powerful patient stories and candid on-stage conversations, the Medicine X conference returns to campus on Sept. 25-27. This year’s program will focus on the theme “Great eXpectations” and explore five key areas, including the challenges associated with accessing health care as you age, the misconceptions and misperceptions faced by patients and population health from the patient perspective.

In a press release about the upcoming conference, Lloyd Minor, MD, dean of the School of Medicine, noted, “The brightest minds and the most innovative thinking converge at Stanford Medicine X — the intersection of medicine and technology… This is one of the most thought-provoking and important events in health care today and will help pave the way for how technology enables patient-centered and patient-driven care in the years to come.”

During the three-day event, Peter Bach, MD, director of the Center for Health Policy and Outcomes at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, will deliver a keynote address. Bach is a physician and health-policy expert whose research focuses on the cost and value of anti-cancer drugs. An accomplished writer, he has authored numerous op-eds on health care, but is perhaps most well-known for his New York Magazine essay “The Day I Started Lying to Ruth” about losing his wife to cancer. Other confirmed speakers include cellist and composer Zoë Keating; Robert Pearl, MD, executive director and CEO of The Permanente Medical Group; and 91-year-old IDEO designer Barbara Beskind.

Registration for Medicine X is now open. More details about the program can be found on the Medicine X website.

More news about the conference is available in the Medicine X category.

Previously: Registration now open for the inaugural Stanford Medicine X|ED conference, Stanford Medicine X: From an “annual meeting to a global movement” and A doctor recounts his wife’s battle with cancer: “My knowledge was too clear-eyed”

Stanford News, Videos

A “grand romp through medicine and metaphor” with Abraham Verghese

A "grand romp through medicine and metaphor” with Abraham Verghese

For Stanford physician and author Abraham Verghese, MD, the language of medicine is as equally important as the skills used in diagnosing and treating patients. Last September, Verghese spoke at the TEDMED conference in San Francisco, which was co-sponsored by Stanford Medicine, and took attendees on an exploration of the words, particularly the metaphors, we use in describing the body and its conditions.

TEDMED released a video of his presentation today and in the talk Verghese notes the strange lack of new medical metaphors. He encourages patients and health-care providers to invent their own in an effort to narrow the communication gap. “I want to invite you to name things after yourself,” he says in the video. “Go ahead! Why not?”

Ready to accept the challenge? Create your own medical metaphors and share them via Twitter, Facebook or other social media channels using the hashtag #MyMedicalMetaphor. Verghese will choose his three favorites next week, and if your metaphor is selected, TEDMED will send you a copy of his book Cutting for Stone.

TEDMED 2015 will be held in Palm Springs November 18-20.

Previously: “Abraham Verghese: A saintliness in so many of my patients,Abraham Verghese discusses stealing metaphors and the language of medicine at TEDMED and Abraham Verghese urges Stanford grads to always remember the heritage and rituals of medicine

Pediatrics, Research, Technology, Videos

Monitoring patients’ vital signs using a touch-free video system

Monitoring patients’ vital signs using a touch-free video system

When Rice University graduate student Mayank Kumar and colleagues visited Texas Children’s Hospital in 2013 they took note of the tangle of wires attached to premature infants to monitor their vitals. The wires frequently had to be removed or adjusted, which can potentially damage the preemies’ delicate skin, whenever mothers fed or cared for the babies.

So Kumar and Rice University professors Ashok Veeraraghavan, PhD, and Ashutosh Sabharwal, PhD, developed a video camera-based system that measures patients’ pulse and breathing by analyzing the changes in their skin color over time.

The system, called DistancePPG, corrects for challenges that have caused similar technology to be unreliable such as low-light conditions, dark skin tones and movement. According to a university release:

The Rice team solved these challenges by adding a method to average skin-color change signals from different areas of the face and an algorithm to track a subject’s nose, eyes, mouth and whole face.

“Our key finding was that the strength of the skin-color change signal is different in different regions of the face, so we developed a weighted-averaging algorithm,” Kumar said. “It improved the accuracy of derived vital signs, rapidly expanding the scope, viability, reach and utility of camera-based vital-sign monitoring.”

By incorporating tracking to compensate for movement — even a smile — DistancePPG perceived a pulse rate to within one beat per minute, even for diverse skin tones under varied lighting conditions.

Kumar said he expects the software to find its way to mobile phones, tablets and computers so people can reliably measure their own vital signs whenever and wherever they choose.

There’s more about how the system works in the above video.

Previously: Ultra-thin flexible device offers non-invasive method of monitoring heart health, blood pressure and Researchers develop mirror that reflects your vital signs

Addiction, Events, Health Policy, Stanford News

Stanford Health Policy Forum to focus on balancing benefits and costs of prescription opioids

Stanford Health Policy Forum to focus on balancing benefits and costs of prescription opioids

6284740462_c1d824cbb7_zNationwide deaths from drug overdose have been steadily increasing since 1990 and are a leading cause of injury death. More than half of drug overdose deaths in the United States are related to pharmaceuticals and 71 percent of these involve prescription painkillers, according to the latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In California, the number of deaths involving opioid prescription medications has risen almost 17 percent in the past nine years. As a result, policymakers are struggling to develop methods to reduce the risk of such medications while making sure patients that rely on them for pain management have access.

On April 9, the School of Medicine will host a forum examining the challenges of balancing the benefits and costs of prescription opioids and discussing potential solutions. The event is part of the Stanford Health Policy Forum series and will be moderated by Paul Costello, the medical school’s chief communications officer. Stanford addiction medicine expert Anna Lembke, MD, and pain medicine expert Sean Mackey, MD, PhD, will participate in the forum.

For our local readers: The event, which is free and open to the public, will run from 12:30-2 p.m. in Berg Hall at the Li Ka Shing Center for Learning and Knowledge.

Previously: Stanford addiction expert: It’s often a “subtle journey” from prescription-drug use to abuse, Why doctors prescribe opioids to patients they know are abusing them, Do opium and opioids increase mortality risk? and How to combat prescription-drug abuse
Photo by Erin DeMay

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