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Events, Grand Roundup, Health Disparities, Rural Health

A quest to cure the world’s blind

A quest to cure the world's blind

Geoff TabinI recently had the pleasure of organizing a global-health seminar with a special visitor to campus: Geoff Tabin, MD. A renowned ophthalmologist, world-class climber and humanitarian, Tabin shared his circuitous road through global medicine and his vision to eradicate unnecessary world blindness.

“Most of the blindness on our planet could have been prevented or is easily treated,” Tabin told the audience. “It’s one of the few areas of global public health that we can really do a lot about – and, when you cure someone, they’re 100 percent cured.”

Blindness disproportionately impacts people in developing countries where malnutrition, poor water quality and lack of sanitation and health-care infrastructure lead to high incidence of eye disease. It comes with a heavy economic burden – Tabin explained that in the developing world, blindness is associated with a two-thirds reduction in life expectancy, or typically less than 10 years.

But tackling world blindness is also a story of hope. Cataract – which accounts for more than half of world blindness, according to the World Health Organization – can easily be treated with a low-cost, one-time procedure that restores full sight. A person who undergoes cataract surgery can go from being blind to being able to pass his or her driver’s test the next day.

Through a serendipitous series of events, Tabin co-founded the Himalayan Cataract Project with Nepali ophthalmologist Sanduk Ruit, MD, with the vision of restoring sight to as many of the world’s 18 million cataract patients awaiting care as possible. Since 1995, the organization’s doctors have performed over 445,000 cataract surgeries in the developing world.

Ruit had started an intraocular lens factory in Kathmandu that dramatically reduced the cost of cataract surgery. In the 1980s, the standard procedure for cataract surgery in the U.S. involved replacing the eye’s natural lens with an intraocular lens. However, the costly implants were not accessible to cataract patients in the developing world. That was until Ruit who, seemingly overnight, brought the cost of an intraocular lens from $200 to $4 on the world market. Today, the life-changing procedure can be completed in less than 10 minutes at a cost of just $25 per surgery.

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Grand Roundup

Grand Roundup: Top posts from January

Grand Roundup: Top posts from January

It’s time to look back at last month’s five-most read stories on Scope. They were:

The real reason why med students only talk about school: In the latest installment of Stanford Medicine Unplugged, second-year medical student Nathaniel Fleming writes about the reason that medical students talk about school so much. He notes that “being able to debrief openly and honestly couldn’t be more important in a profession like medicine.”

The importance of providing patient support in the face of a life-threatening illness: In this first-person piece, Sara Wyen, a survivor raising awareness about the devastating effects of blood clots, shares how her physician helped her heal both physically and emotionally after a scary medical diagnosis.

When Breath Becomes Air: A conversation with Lucy Kalanithi: The memoir “When Breath Becomes Air” was written by Stanford neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi, MD, who died of lung cancer at the age of 37. In a recent 1:2:1 podcast, Paul’s wife, Stanford physician Lucy Kalanithi, MD, talks about the words that Paul left behind and what life has been like since Paul died last spring.

NBC Dateline to explore the “extraordinary situation” facing one Packard Children’s transplant family: A national news program recently caught up with the Binghams, a family with three children with cardiomyopathy, a life-threatening disease that reduces the heart’s ability to pump normally. Family members have undergone three heart transplants at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, and their youngest son is awaiting a donor heart.

New perspective: Potential multiple sclerosis drug is actually old (and safe and cheap): This post highlights a new study led by Paul Bollyky, MD, PhD, showing that blocking production of a naturally made substance in the body may be beneficial in multiple sclerosis.

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

Eating for good blood: Tips for boosting iron levels and hemoglobin: This entry from the Stanford Blood Center discusses hemoglobin levels and offers ways to boost levels prior to blood donation.

Grand Roundup

Grand Roundup: Top posts of 2015

Grand Roundup: Top posts of 2015

Time now to look back at our most popular stories of the year. The most-read posts published in 2015 were:

Kalanthi and childEating for good blood: Tips for boosting iron levels and hemoglobin: This entry from the Stanford Blood Center discusses hemoglobin levels and offers ways to boost levels prior to blood donation.

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 in March. 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.

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.

ME/CFS/SEID: It goes by many aliases, but its blood-chemistry signature is a giveaway: A multi-institution team published a study in Science Advances showing another physiological basis for a diagnosis of what it now being referred to as systemic exertion intolerance disease: a characteristic pattern, or “signature,” consisting of elevated levels of various circulating immune-signaling substances in the blood.

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 2013 Huffington Post piece.

Previously: Grand Roundup: Top 5 posts of 2014
Photo of Paul Kalanithi by Gregg Segal

Grand Roundup

Grand Roundup: Top posts of August

Grand Roundup: Top posts of August

It’s time to look back at this month’s five-most read stories on Scope. They were:

Eating for good blood: Tips for boosting iron levels and hemoglobin: This entry from the Stanford Blood Center discusses hemoglobin levels and offers ways to boost levels prior to blood donation.

Stanford Medicine’s white coat and stethoscope ceremony, in pictures: The school’s white coat and stethoscope ceremony was held earlier this month, and photographer Norbert von der Groeben was there to capture some special moments.

Blacks, Hispanics and low-income kids with stomach aches treated differently in ERs: A recently published study found that certain children who came to the ER with stomach aches were less likely to receive imaging that could help their physicians diagnose serious conditions like appendicitis. These patients were also less likely to be admitted to the hospital for further care.

Exploring the benefits of pursuing anthropology and medicine: This piece captures the thoughts of two medical anthropologists who are pursuing PhD/MD degrees.

“What might they be interested in learning from me?” Tips on medical advocacy: As part of our Inspire series, a patient with Marfan syndrome talks about medical advocacy.I want to be a source of support and let patients know that they’re not alone and that there are better days ahead,” he writes.

Our most-shared story of the month: Exploring the benefits of pursuing anthropology and medicine

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 provided 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.

Grand Roundup

Grand Roundup: Top posts of July

Grand Roundup: Top posts of July

It’s time to look back at this month’s five-most read stories on Scope. They were:

Eating for good blood: Tips for boosting iron levels and hemoglobin: This entry from the Stanford Blood Center discusses hemoglobin levels and offers ways to boost levels prior to blood donation.

Genetic study supports single migratory origin for aboriginal Americans: An international team of geneticists, evolutionary biologists, and statisticians have concluded that all Native Americans descended from a single immigration event out of Siberia.

“This is probably one of the last major diseases we know nothing about”: A look at CFS: A recent issue of Palo Alto Weekly focused on chronic fatigue syndrome (also known as systemic exertion intolerance disease) and the work of Ronald Davis, PhD, director of Stanford’s Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Research Center and others here.

The worst disease you’ve never heard of: Stanford researchers and patients battle EB: An article in Stanford Medicine magazine describes the toll of a devastating skin disease called epidermoloysis bullosa on two young men and their families, as well as the determined efforts of a dedicated team of doctors and scientists to find a treatment.

Physician-monk leads Stanford doctors in meditation: This post highlighted a recent campus talk by Barry Kerzin, MD, a Buddhist monk who provides medical care to His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

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.

Grand Roundup

Grand Roundup: Top posts of June

Grand Roundup: Top posts of June

It’s time to look back at this month’s five-most read stories on Scope. They were:

Eating for good blood: Tips for boosting iron levels and hemoglobin: This entry from the Stanford Blood Center discusses hemoglobin levels and offers ways to boost levels prior to blood donation.

New recommendation: Adults need at least 7 hours of sleep each night: How much sleep is needed for adults? A new set of recommendations was published in the journal SLEEP and developed by 15 sleep experts in a consensus panel assembled by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society.

CRISPR marches forward: Stanford scientists optimize use in human blood cells: CRISPR is a breakthrough way of editing the genome of many organisms, including humans — a kind of biological cut-and-paste function that is already transforming scientific and clinical research. New work in this area is detailed here.

To live longer, men need to embrace their femininity, new research suggests: Women live longer than men, but when faced with socio-economic adversity, that lifespan gap grows, according to new research from a team of Stanford scientists.

Stanford med student/HHMI fellow investigates bacteriophage therapy as an alternative to antibiotics: In this piece, second-year medical student Eric Trac discusses the work he’s doing for his year-long Howard Hughes Medical Institute fellowship.

Our most-shared story of the month: New recommendation: Adults need at least 7 hours of sleep each night

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.

Grand Roundup

Grand Roundup: Top posts of May

Grand Roundup: Top posts of May

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

Eating for good blood: Tips for boosting iron levels and hemoglobin: This entry from the Stanford Blood Center discusses hemoglobin levels and offers ways to boost levels prior to blood donation.

Cracking medical school admissions: Stanford students use their expertise to help others: In this Q&A, fourth-year medical students Rachel Rizal and Rishi Mediratta share insights on the medical school admissions process and talk about a book they’ve written on the topic.

“Still many unknowns”: Stanford physician reflects on post-earthquake NepalPaul Auerbach, MD, a professor and chief of emergency medicine who works with the Stanford Emergency Medicine Program for Emergency Response (SEMPER), recently traveled to Nepal to aid victims of the April 25 earthquake.

Stanford Storytellers: Medical students write a children’s book to comfort and educate: A group of Stanford medical students – and an undergrad – have penned a book geared towards young hospital patients.

Talking about “mouseheimers,” and a call for new neuroscience technologies: This post, based on a session from the recent Association of Health Care Journalists conference, features the work of Stanford neuropsychiatrist Amit Etkin, MD, PhD, and neurologist Michael Greicius, MD, MPH.

Our most-shared story of the month: Stanford Storytellers: Medical students write a children’s book to comfort and educate

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 provided 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.

Grand Roundup

Grand Roundup: Top posts of April

Grand Roundup: Top posts of April

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

Eating for good blood: Tips for boosting iron levels and hemoglobin: This entry from the Stanford Blood Center discusses hemoglobin levels and offers ways to boost levels prior to blood donation.

ME/CFS/SEID: It goes by many aliases, but its blood-chemistry signature is a giveaway: A multi-institution team published a study in Science Advances showing another physiological basis for a diagnosis of what it now being referred to as systemic exertion intolerance disease: a characteristic pattern, or “signature,” consisting of elevated levels of various circulating immune-signaling substances in the blood.

The first time I cried in a patient’s room: In a recent installment of SMS Unplugged, fourth-year medical student Moises Gallegos shares a moving encounter he had with a patient.

From Costa Rica to Stanford: Pediatric liver transplant surgeon shares his story: During a recent talk, Carlos Esquivel, MD, PhD, – known as one of the top pediatric liver transplant surgeons – told a gripping tale of his journey to Stanford.

“It’s not just science fiction anymore”: Childx speakers talk stem cell and gene therapy: At the Childx conference held here earlier this month, there was a great deal of optimism that stem cell and genetic therapies are about to have a huge impact on many childhood diseases.

Our most-shared story of the month: The first time I cried in a patient’s room

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 provided 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.

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.

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.

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