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Image of the Week

Fertility, Image of the Week, Stanford News

Image of the Week: Baby born after mom receives Stanford-developed fertility treatment

Image of the Week: Baby born after mom receives Stanford-developed fertility treatment

infertility baby

Every birth is a miracle, but some births are a bit more miraculous than others. In this case, the phrase “the miracle of birth” couldn’t possibly be more fitting – this child was born to an infertile woman.

Earlier this week, my colleague described how this birth came to be. The mother of this child was successfully treated for a condition called primary ovarian insufficiency. The treatment was developed in the lab of Stanford professor of obstetrics and gynecology Aaron Hsueh, PhD, and the man shown in the image above, Kazuhiro Kawamura, MD, PhD, of the St. Marianna University School of Medicine, managed the clinical component of this trial.

This is the first baby conceived though a treatment of this kind.

Previously: Oh, baby! Infertile woman gives birth through Stanford-developed technique and Researchers describe procedure that induces egg growth in infertile women
Photo by Kazuhiro Kawamura, MD, PhD

Image of the Week, Medicine X, Stanford News, Technology

Image of the Week: Stanford Medicine X 2013


Stanford Medicine X is in session and #MedX is trending on Twitter. Pictured above, Nick Dawson, a member of the conference’s ePatient advisory panel, captures proceedings from the foot of the stage.

He’s wearing a piece by patient advocate and Medicine X artist in residence Regina Holliday. It’s part of the Walking Gallery collection, which comprises 269 painted jackets – 239 by Holliday – worn by people on five continents (including U.S. Chief Technology Officer Todd Park). Recipients typically provide their own jacket and may choose to donate to cover the cost of paint, but the finished pieces cannot be purchased so that people of any means could have access to one.

Dawson and Holliday are among the conference’s speakers, who are a diverse community of ePatients, academics, designers, doctors, and other leaders in health care. This morning at 10:35 a.m., Dawson joins IDEO partner Dennis Boyle and blogger Britt Johnson in discussing last Thursday’s IDEO Design Challenge.

The conference ends today at 4:35 p.m. Pacific. Watch the free live stream of plenary sessions, or follow #MedX on Twitter to join the conversation.

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

Photo by Stanford Medicine X

Image of the Week

Image of the Week: Artful arches from Stanford's Art Exhibit Extravaganza 2013

Image of the Week: Artful arches from Stanford's Art Exhibit Extravaganza 2013


Bright, bridge-like arches vaulted my eye up and into this delightful photo, simply titled Spaces, No. 2. Jim Wong, the spouse of a postdoctoral scholar at the medical school, captured this image on camera, and in doing so, created one of twelve works of art recently on display at the Lorry I. Lokey Stem Cell Research Building.

The event, called Art Exhibit Extravaganza 2013, was the Stanford University Postdoctoral Association’s first art show for postdoctoral scholars and was designed to be a creative outlet for them. But, perhaps more important, the event used art as a common interest to spark communication – and perhaps scientific collaboration – between postdoctoral scholars in different disciplines who might not otherwise interact with one another.

Co-organizer and art committee chairperson Ermelinda Porpiglia, PhD, explains in this Inside Stanford Medicine story:

“Art invites exploration of the world in unbiased ways and allows us to consider different perspectives,” she said. “Science is very methodical but, although in a different way than art, is also a very creative process. The power of bridging the arts and the sciences is currently underestimated. Collaborations between artists and scientists could in fact lead to innovation and in the long run foster scientific progress. With this exhibition, we would like to prompt our community to think about it.”

Co-organizer and elected co-chair of the association Antoine de Morree, PhD, sees performance art in the association’s future. “We would love to do an exhibition like this again, but we’d also like to introduce different kinds of art. Many postdocs are involved in dance and theater.”

Holly MacCormick is a writing intern in the medical school’s Office of Communication & Public Affairs. She is a graduate student in ecology and evolutionary biology at University of California-Santa Cruz.

Artwork by Jim Wong

Image of the Week

Image of the Week: A playful take on the human respiratory system

Image of the Week: A playful take on the human respiratory system

respiratory system by rachel ignotofsky
If you’ve ever studied, or taught, how the human body works, you may have noticed that the easier a human anatomy diagram is to understand, the less it resembles anything remotely lifelike. That’s why I’m so smitten with the suite of body system characters created by artist Rachel Ignotofsky – her educational images are straightforward, lighthearted and (mercifully) human.

“Human anatomy was one of my favorite subjects in high school,” Ignotofsky told me. “I made it a personal project to illustrate the body systems in a playful way that would make children and adults alike excited to learn.”

Her playful, artistic approach helps her share the wonder of human anatomy – a subject commonly reserved for older children and adults – with young children. As she began to receive messages from fans all over the world, the importance of her creative efforts started to hit home. She wrote to me:

One message that warmed my heart was from a father whose four-year old daughter suffers from a rare respiratory illness, called Congenital Central Hypoventilation Syndrome. He told me that soon his daughter will need a ventilator to breathe at night, and that my poster will help him with that difficult conversation. It is hard to describe how happy it made me feel to know that my illustration was going to be used in such an important way.

You can view and order posters of all five of Ignotofsky’s body system characters from her shop on Etsy.

Via Street Anatomy
Artwork by Rachel Ignotofsky

Image of the Week

Image of the Week: Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Holiday Art Contest

Image of the Week: Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Holiday Art Contest

holiday-card-artFor the young – or the young at heart – it may seem like the holiday season can’t come fast enough. If you are among those who are counting down the days toward winter break, you’ll be glad to know that Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital is introducing the holiday spirit a little early: Packard recently kicked off their second annual Holiday Art Contest. (The frosty fellow shown above is last year’s winning entry, created by Taylor Simpson.)

Recently, I corresponded with Packard Hospital’s development assistant, Siobhan McDonnell, and program manager, Megan Garner, to learn more about the event and how young artists can take part in this year’s contest.

How did the Packard Hospital Holiday Art Contest get its start?

Garner: Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health, which fundraises for Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, has used patient artwork on its holiday cards for many years. But, in the past it has been very challenging to acquire winter-themed artwork from patients, particularly because we ask for that artwork in September, at the end of the summer! So the Holiday Art Contest was born out of our desperation to get more patient artwork.

McDonnell: Last year, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital’s hosted its first ever Holiday Art Contest. The winner’s artwork was featured on the Hospital Foundation’s holiday card, which was mailed to thousands of donors who gave to Packard Children’s Hospital within the past year. The winner also received a $25 gift card to University Arts.

Picking a winner for Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital’s Holiday Art Contest last year was no easy task. We received submissions from patients, their siblings, and even from Packard employees’ children. Artists ranged from 3 to 16 years old.

How can artists submit their entries?

Artwork, along with a submission form, can be turned in at Packard Hospital’s front desk, or mailed to:

LPFCH – Holiday Art Contest
400 Hamilton Ave, Suite 340
Palo Alto, CA 94301.

Submissions must be postmarked by September 27, 2013. For more information, please visit online:

Artwork by Taylor Simpson

Cancer, Dermatology, Image of the Week, Public Health

Image of the Week: Ready for some football – and protected from the sun

Image of the Week: Ready for some football - and protected from the sun


Above is a shot of just a few of the Cardinal football fans who applied temporary tattoos – and plenty of sunscreen – from the SUNSPORT booth at the recent Stanford Football Open House. The Open House is an annual opportunity for fans to meet players and run through drills in Stanford Stadium, and SUNSPORT was there to help everyone play safely in the Palo Alto sun.

SUNSPORT, a collaboration of the Stanford Cancer Institute, the medical school’s Department of Dermatology, Stanford Athletics, and Stanford Hospital & Clinics, is Stanford’s first-in-the-nation program to provide sun-exposure education and protection strategies to outdoor athletes and fans. The program is profiled (.pdf) in the latest edition of Stanford Cancer Institute News.

Michael Claeys is the senior communications manager for the Stanford Cancer Institute.

Previously: Working to protect athletes from sun dangers and Image of the Week: Stanford SUNSPORT

Image of the Week

Image of the Week: Oligodendrocyte

what is this

This alien-like image is all in your head. Really. It’s an oligodendrocyte – a specialized brain cell that secretes a coating that protects the nerve cells in your brain. As described in an Inside Stanford Medicine story, this cell is composed of tinsel-like filaments of protein, called actin (shown here in green) and regulatory proteins (shown in red).

Researchers don’t yet know how the nerve coating, called the myelin sheath, is formed by oligodendrocytes. But one theory is that the process is powered by regulatory proteins (in red) that create a network of the protein filaments (in green).

From the Stanford story:

“The oligodendrocyte is one of the most beautiful examples of cell specialization in nature,” said Brad Zuchero, PhD, the Stanford postdoctoral scholar in neurobiology who prepared the cultured rat brain cells for imaging. “Being able to visually compare healthy and damaged oligodendrocytes in this much detail ultimately will help us treat nervous system diseases such as multiple sclerosis, which are associated with damage to myelin.”

The expert behind this exquisite oligodendrocyte image is Andrew Olson, PhD, director of microscopy at the Stanford Institute for Neuro-Innovation & Translational Neurosciences. He captured it using a relatively new imaging technology, called a structured illumination super-resolution microscope. This microscope fills a 10-foot-square office and costs about $700,000. It consists of precision motorized platforms to position the sample; lasers and optical components that produce finely patterned illuminations of the sample; scientific cameras; and high-powered analysis software.

Photo by Brad Zuchero and Andrew Olson

Image of the Week

Image of the Week: New compound inhibits two early stages of Candida infections

Image of the Week: New compound inhibits two early stages of Candida infections


A team of researchers from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and the University of Massachusetts Medical School discovered a compound that prevents Candida albicans, a common fungus known as candida, from latching onto human cells or the polystyrene plastic commonly used to make medical devices. The compound, named filastatin, works by interfering with two early phases of the fungal infections that can cause thrush, vaginitis and most of the hospital-acquired infections in humans.

Most candida infections begin when the harmless ovoid phase (shown on the right) adheres to a surface, such as a human cell or the plastic of an intravenous line. Once the fungus has a foothold, it enters the infectious phase (shown on the left) where it unfurls fringed filaments that pierce and damage the substance it clings to. The findings of their study are published in the online version of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. From the press release:

The team found that filastatin curtailed both steps: it largely prevented C. albicans from adhering to various surfaces, and it significantly reduced filamentation (inspiring the name filastatin).

As a next step, the team tested filastatin’s impact on C. albicans cells that had grown unfettered in test wells and had already adhered to the polystyrene walls. When the compound was added to the culture mix, it knocked off many of the fungal cells already stuck to the polystyrene. The inhibitory effects of filastatin were further tested on human lung cells, mouse vaginal cells, and live worms (C. elgans) exposed to the fungus to see if it would reduce adhesion and infection. In all cases, the novel small molecule had significant protective effects without showing toxicity to the host tissues.

As discussed in the press release, existing anti-fungal treatments are successful, but only some of the time and to varying degrees. If additional studies fully vet filastatin as a new anti-fungal therapy, it could provide a more effective way to treat the millions of cases of candida infections that affect people worldwide.

Photo by Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Image of the Week

Image of the Week: A steerable needle for treating blood clots in the brain

Image of the Week: A steerable needle for treating blood clots in the brain


The lemon yellows and vibrant reds in this image are eye-catching, but it’s the little black ‘whisker’ of a line that steals the show – it’s a steerable needle that can be used to treat blood clots. The egg-like pools of red and yellow in this image are a fake blood clot made from gelatin.

This agile little tool is described in an article accepted for publication in the journal IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering. Vanderbilt researchers Robert J. Webster III, PhD,  and Kyle Weaver, PhD, lead a team of engineers and physicians in developing a surgical system that utilizes steerable needles to penetrate the brain with minimal damage and suction away blood clots. As noted in the press release brain clots are a leading cause of death, disability:

The odds of a person getting an intracerebral hemorrhage are one in 50 over his or her lifetime. When it does occur, 40 percent of the individuals die within a month. Many of the survivors have serious brain damage.

“When I was in college, my dad had a brain hemorrhage,” said Webster. “Fortunately, he was one of the lucky few who survived and recovered fully. I’m glad I didn’t know how high his odds of death or severe brain damage were at the time, or else I would have been even more scared than I already was.”

Photo by Joe Howell / Vanderbilt

Image of the Week

Image of the Week: Botryllus organism


It looks like embroidery on a designer item I couldn’t possibly hope to afford. But my colleagues assure me the image is actually that of a primitive marine organism described recently in a Science research report. The orange, petal-looking objects are each a single Botryllus schlosseri organism; the orange spots are the new Botryllus buds, which are produced asexually.

This tiny sea creature is of interest because it is evolutionarily one of the closest living relatives of vertebrates. And, as my colleague recently explained, a better understanding of its immune system may offer insights about ours.

Previously: Ocean organism settles down, digests its proto-brain and loses its individuality
Via Christopher Vaughan
Photo by Chris Patton

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