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Nutrition, Stanford News, Videos

Stanford dietitian explains how – not just what – you eat matters

Stanford dietitian explains how - not just what - you eat matters

Recent posts, including this one from last week and this one from earlier today, offered sound advice to help avoid overeating around the holidays. Of course, we all know that at times we overindulge. But Stanford’s Neha Shah, a registered dietitian with expertise in digestive issues that affect nutritional intake, knows that how we eat is important, too; it’s not just about what we put in our stomachs, but how we do that. In this Stanford Health Care video, titled “How You Eat Matters,” sit back and learn some techniques that might just make your digestive system much happier. And you, too, of course.

Previously: Easy-to-follow tips to avoid overeating this holiday

Cardiovascular Medicine, Stanford News, Videos

Stanford patient benefits from total artificial heart

Stanford patient benefits from total artificial heart

Mechanical support for failing hearts is not a new idea. Size, however, matters. In 1966, Michael DeBakey, MD, successfully implanted the first device to replace the pumping action on the left side of the heart. Now, at medical centers like Stanford, the LVAD, or left ventricular assist device, about 3 inches long, is a workhorse that enables many people with heart disease to live a normal life. Sure, if you have an LVAD implanted in your chest, you have to wear a power pack and a reserve power pack outside your body, but most find that burden acceptable. Your heart also remains in your body. If the whole heart is failing, that’s another matter.

In 1969, Denton Cooley, MD, removed Haskell Karp’s diseased heart and replaced it with an artificial one intended only to keep the 47-year-old alive for the three days it took to find an appropriate human heart for transplant. He died two days after that transplant. The heart was driven by an air pump the size of a washing machine. By 1983, when William DeVries, MD, put an artificial heart in Barney Clark’s chest, it was because Clark was too sick for a transplant. The pump supporting the artificial heart was still the size of a washing machine. Clark would never be able to leave his hospital room even to walk down a hospital hallway. He died 112 days later.

A little over a year ago, Stanford cardiovascular surgeons removed the heart of chess teacher Vaness French. French had lived with heart disease for decades, altering his diet, upping his exercise, doing everything he could until one summer day in 2013, when he went into cardiac arrest at a baseball game. Luckily, he was with a friend who knew CPR and kept French alive. In the months before, his Stanford cardiologist, Dipanjee Banerjee, MD, had fine-tuned French’s medications and ablation had been tried to stabilize the atrial fibrillation French experienced frequently. Now, the only option to keep him alive was a human heart transplant or an artificial heart.

French’s survival until a transplant was available was seriously in doubt. French agreed to let a team of Stanford surgeons, led by Richard Ha, MD, implant an artificial one. Remarkably, in footage shot just two weeks after that implantation of the total artificial heart, French is up and around, albeit a bit slowly. The support machine for the artificial heart is now small and lightweight enough so he could leave his room, with a bit of help, of course. Two weeks later, even before he received a support machine so small and portable he would have been allowed to return home, the right human heart came French’s way. In the recently-released video above you can see an artificial heart implantation procedure – and hear how it changed French’s life.

Previously: “Liberated from LVAD support”: One patient’s story and Dick Cheney on his heart transplant: “It’s the gift of life itself”

Biomed Bites, In the News, Research, Stem Cells, Technology, Videos

“It gives me the chills just thinking about it”: Stanford researcher on the potential of stem cells

"It gives me the chills just thinking about it": Stanford researcher on the potential of stem cells

Welcome to the last Biomed Bites of 2014. We’ll be continuing this series next year — check each Thursday to meet more of Stanford’s most innovative biomedical researchers. 

If you watch this video and aren’t moved by the passion and conviction of Stanford biologist Margaret Fuller, PhD, then email me. Seriously, I’ll try to talk some sense into you. Because Fuller’s enthusiasm for biomedicine is downright contagious. This is a professor who you want to teach biology.

Fuller, a professor of developmental biology and of genetics, works with adult stem cells, and she’s palpably gleeful about their potential to improve the health of millions.

“I was really struck and inspired by a recent article in the New York Times,” Fuller says in the video above. She’s talking about “Human Muscle Regenerated with Animal Help,” a 2012 piece that told the story of Sgt. Ron Strang, a Marine who lost part of his quadriceps in Afghanistan. Yet here is Strang, walking, thanks to the donation of a extracellular matrix from a pig. This paper-like sheet secreted signals instructing his stem cells to come to the rescue and build new muscle. “It was amazing,” Strang told the Times reporter. “Right off the bat I could do a full stride, I could bend my knee, kick it out a little bit…”

“This is really amazing,” Fuller agrees. “It gives me the chills just thinking about it. This is the kind of knowledge and advances of the basic work that I do… The hope is that understanding those underlying mechanisms will allow people to design small molecules and other strategies that can be used to induce our own adult stem cells to be called into action for repair.”

Learn more about Stanford Medicine’s Biomedical Innovation Initiative and about other faculty leaders who are driving biomedical innovation here.

Previously: Center for Reproductive and Stem Cell Biology receives NIH boost, Why the competition isn’t adult vs. embryonic stem cells and Induced pluripotent stem cell mysteries explored by Stanford researchers

Chronic Disease, Stanford News, Videos

A primer on preventing or delaying type 2 diabetes

A primer on preventing or delaying type 2 diabetes

Diabetes affects an estimated 29 million Americans, and one in four people don’t know they have the disease, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Stanford Health Library recently held a three-part lecture series about preventing or delaying the onset of type 2 diabetes. A the first event, Stanford primary care doctor Bryant Lin, MD, shared with the audience that diabetes is “a topic near and dear to his heart” and that he deals with the disease “in both his personal life and clinical life.” Lin’s family medical history puts him at high risk for the disease: His mother, her six siblings and his maternal grandparents were all diagnosed with diabetes. On the clinical side, he treats diabetic patients at Stanford Health Care.

In the above video, Lin provides an overview of the epidemiology, pathophysiology, risk-assessment and diagnosis of diabetes.

This video is the first lecture in a three-part series addressing important questions related to diabetes and lifestyle choices.

Previously: Diabetes and nutrition: Healthy holiday eating tips, red meat and disease risk, and going vegetarian, Diabetes and nutrition: Why healthy eating is a key component of prevention and management and Examining the role of exercise in managing and preventing diabetes

Mental Health, Stanford News, Videos

Workaholics vs work engagement: The difference is play

Workaholics vs work engagement: The difference is play

In a culture that places high value on “hard work,” we often lionize the wrong kind of work. A new study from the Journal of Management explores the difference between “workaholics” and “work engagement” – the former has serious negative consequences for health and social relationships, just like any addiction, while the latter actually has overwhelmingly positive effects. And when people are healthier and happier, they’re also more productive at work. Malissa Clark, PhD, one of the study’s authors, was quoted in UGA Today:

We see that there are two very different constructs. One is feeling driven to work because of an internal compulsion, where there’s guilt if you’re not working—that’s workaholism. The other feeling is wanting to work because you feel joy in work and that’s why you go to work everyday, because you enjoy it. And I say that is work engagement.

Stanford alum Brendan Boyle, MS, knows how to enjoy work, and teaches his audience in this Stanford+Connects video. The secret is play.

Boyle, who teaches at the d.school (School of Design), is an expert on the interaction between play and design thinking. He asserts that the opposite of play is not work, but boredom. Play is not frivolity, but a certain set of behaviors that can be incorporated into a multitude of tasks, whether at work or at home. Play can be, in a sense, a way of interacting with the world.

Watch the video to learn more – it ends with laughter.

Genetics, NIH, Research, Videos

DNA origami: How our genomes fold

DNA origami: How our genomes fold

Here’s an interesting factoid about our genomes: If you stretched out the DNA in a single cell, which is only a few millionths of an inch wide, it would span more than six feet. And another: DNA folding is a dynamic process that changes over time. Scientists have been trying to understand how DNA folds itself up so efficiently, and a recent post on the NIH Director’s Blog highlights new research illustrating how the human genome folds inside the cell’s nucleus, as well as how DNA folding affects gene regulation. The research team created this delightful video that demonstrates the principles involved using origami art.

Researchers have been working to determine how cells regulate gene expression for nearly as long as we’ve known about DNA. How, for example, do nerve cells know to turn off only nerve cell genes and turn off bone cell genes? DNA folding loops are part of the answer. This research team, which published their findings in a paper in Cell yesterday, found that the number of loops is much lower than expected. There are only 10,000 loops instead of the predicted millions, and they form on/off switches in DNA. As explained in the blog post:

[The] paper in Cell adds fascinating details to that map, and it confirms that DNA loops appear to play a crucial role in gene regulation. The researchers found that many stretches of DNA with the potential to fold into loops have genes located at one end and, at the other end, novel genetic switches. When a loop forms, placing a hidden switch in contact with a once-distant gene, the gene is turned on or off. In fact, the mapping work uncovered thousands of these “secret” switches within the genome—information that may provide valuable new clues for understanding cancer and many other complex, common diseases.

Previously: DNA architecture fascinates Stanford researcher – and dictates biological outcomes

Aging, Dermatology, Public Health, Videos

Don’t skip the sunscreen in wintertime

Don’t skip the sunscreen in wintertime

When you’re spending time outdoors during the wintertime, it’s easy to justify skipping the sunscreen when the sun isn’t beating down on you mercilessly and you’re bundled up instead of sporting a swimsuit. But UV rays from the sun can penetrate clouds and snow can reflect sun onto your face, hands and any other exposed skin. So it’s important to remember to take sun safety precautions even on cold or overcast days, too.

This  Stanford Health Care video featuring dermatologist Justin Ko, MD, MBA, includes important tips for preventing skin cancer year-round. As I, like many others, prepare for a family trip to Tahoe to take advantage of the recent snow, Ko’s reminder about sun safety habits during the winter comes at a good time. For example, I suspect I’ve been skimping on sunscreen: Ko says you need a shot glass-full to completely cover your body. If you’re using a spray-on sunscreen, you need to spray for a full 60 seconds.

Watch the video to learn more information about how to identify possible cancerous moles and preventing high-risk exposures, like tanning beds.

Previously: Skin cancer linked to UV-caused mutation in new oncogene, say Stanford researchers, Humble anti-fungal pill appears to have a noble side-effect: treating skin cancer, Skin cancer images help people check skin more often and effectively, and The importance of sunscreen in preventing skin cancer

Biomed Bites, Research, Videos

Using organic chemistry to decipher embryogenesis

Using organic chemistry to decipher embryogenesis

Here’s this week’s Biomed Bites, a weekly feature that highlights some of Stanford’s most innovative research and introduces Scope readers to scientists in a variety of biomedical disciplines. 

For decades, scientists were stumped by a tricky puzzle: How does a fertilized egg cell, nearly uniform, developed into an organism, with specialized cells and a vertical and horizontal axis?

Many experiments demonstrated that several signaling pathways — including one known as the Hedgehog pathway — establish gradients of certain chemicals in a developing organism, allowing cells to differentiate.

Puzzles remain, however. Is it possible to intervene in development gone awry? And, a more recent discovery showed the Hedgehog pathway is active in some cancers. Can that be reversed?

Stanford biochemist James Chen, PhD, uses the magic of organic chemistry to examine developmental pathways. Here’s Chen in the video above:

(We’re) trying to understand the molecular mechanisms that underlie embryogenesis. We view this through the lens of organic chemistry, meaning that we use small molecules that we synthesize to try to understand the processes that control the patterning of different parts of your body…

Using these tools we can figure out what genes are doing at what time to control the formation of complex structures.

The discoveries made by Chen’s team can then be used to develop therapies for a variety of disorders.

Learn more about Stanford Medicine’s Biomedical Innovation Initiative and about other faculty leaders who are driving biomedical innovation here.

Previously: Zebrafish: A must-have for biomedical labs, Viva la hedgehog! Signaling protein also shown to be important in prostate growth and Another blow to the Hedgehog pathway? New hope for patients with drug-resistant cancers

Applied Biotechnology, Stanford News, Videos

How Stanford researchers are engineering materials that mimic those found in our own bodies

How Stanford researchers are engineering materials that mimic those found in our own bodies

Modern medicine is quite good at replacing the mechanical functions of the body with prosthetics – which have been in development for the past 4000 years – but research into creating synthetic tissues that are biochemically functional is just beginning. Sarah Heilshorn, PhD, an associate professor of materials science and engineering, shares her research on engineering materials that mimic those found in our own bodies in this Stanford+Connects video, “Materials that Heal.”

Approximately 50 percent of the human body can be recreated; what are missing are systems that depend upon cells, such as the nervous or gastro-intestinal system. Scientists can keep cells alive in a Petri dish, but making them into functional tissue requires some kind of material to serve as an interactive cell-scaffolding. Heilshorn describes how her lab is producing protein-based synthetic material that effectively interacts with cells on a chemical and biological level. Watch the video to learn more.

Heilshorn heads the Heilshorn Biomaterials Research Group at Stanford.

Previously: The “new frontier” of synthetic biology, Drew Endy discusses the potential to program life and future of genetic engineering at TEDxStanford and Drew Endy discusses developing rewritable digital data storage in DNA

Nutrition, Obesity, Stanford News, Videos

Easy-to-follow tips to avoid overeating this holiday

Easy-to-follow tips to avoid overeating this holiday

‘Tis the season for overindulging. A recent report showed that we can easily consume 2,000 calories (or more) during a holiday dinner, particularly if the celebration includes appetizers and a few glasses of wine. As Neha Shah, a registered dietitian at Stanford, explains in the above Stanford Health Care video, overeating during this time of year is tied to many factors. She says, “There is so much food available at one given social setting that it’s easy to overeat and not realize it.”

There are simple techniques, however, that can help you resist the temptation to pile your plate high and go back for seconds. Watch the full video to learn easy-to-follow tips for making healthier choices this holiday season as you eat, drink and be merry.

Previously: “Less is more:” Eating wisely, with delight, during the holidays, Eat well, be well and enjoy (a little) candy, Learning tools for mindful eating and Enjoying the turkey while watching your waistline
Photo in featured-entry box by George Redgrave

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