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Image of the Week, Neuroscience

Image of the Week: One of 2013′s “coolest” microscopic images

Image of the Week: One of 2013's "coolest" microscopic images

Salehi image

Recently, Olympus announced the winners of its BioScapes International Digital Imaging Competition. A photo by Ahmad Salehi, MD, PhD, an associate professor in Stanford’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences received honorable mention in this competition; it was also selected by Gizmodo India as one of the year’s top ten “coolest” microscopic images.

Salehi’s close-up of a mouse hippocampus was created using the same basic technique and microscope that many school kids use to magnify objects in biology classes. The technique is called bright field microscopy because the microscope lights up the the field of view where an object, such as a brain, is magnified.

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.

Photo courtesy of Ahmad Salehi

Cancer, Stanford News, Videos, Women's Health

Stanford Women’s Cancer Center: Peace of mind and advanced care under one umbrella

Stanford Women's Cancer Center: Peace of mind and advanced care under one umbrella

Flamingo-pink carpet lined the path to the Sharon Heights Golf and Country Club in Palo Alto, Calif. – the location of the fifth annual Under One Umbrella benefit for the Stanford Women’s Cancer Center. As I walked into the reception hall, I thought of the phone call that was my introduction to the center several months before.

In March, I tested positive for the HPV virus that can cause cervical cancer and I was scared. Cervical cancer claimed the life of my best friend, and the memory of the day she mentioned that she needed “some testing” is etched in my mind. My phone call to the Stanford Women’s Cancer Center gave me the information and courage I needed to schedule additional testing. “We hope you never need our services,” the receptionist said, “but if you do, we’re here if you need us.”

I ultimately didn’t need the services of the center, but many of the nearly 340 guests in the fundraiser’s reception hall did. For these people, and for many others, the center is a source of medical treatment and hope.

Yet, the center is more than a cancer care facility, as Nicole Kidman, Academy Award-winning actress and honorary chair of the Under One Umbrella committee, explains in the short film above. The center unites medical treatment with cancer research and prevention.

The Under One Umbrella committee supports the cancer center’s efforts, and the annual benefit is a big part of that support. “It brings together an amazing group of people who are interested in furthering research of women’s cancer,” Lloyd Minor, MD, dean of the Stanford medical school told me. “It highlights the talents of Stanford researchers and the wonderful job that Jonathan Berek, MD, [the center's director] has done with the center. It also gives us the opportunity to rededicate our commitment to the cause.”

A crucial step of this commitment and care begins when a patient first learns she has cancer. As social worker Jordan Chavez explains in the film, “When patients come in and have a diagnosis of cancer there’s pandemonium, either internal or external. I think a lot of what I do is to provide, hopefully, some stability and some calm amidst a lot of chaos and to normalize what is a very scary experience for patients and for families, and to help them understand that they will not be alone.”

This sense of camaraderie pervaded all aspects of the benefit. As the fundraiser came to a close, the guest of honor, country music star Keith Urban, gave an (outstanding) unplugged, solo concert. As he sang, the cancer survivors, their family members and friends, and the center’s medical experts forgot themselves. They were simply a crowd of fast friends.

As I left the event, I wondered how I could explain the importance of the women’s cancer center to someone who wasn’t a woman with cancer. The answer came to me in the form of an umbrella I carry with me rain or shine.

I know that I won’t need an umbrella most days, but it’s comforting to know that if I do, it will be there to shelter me from the storm.

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.

Previously: Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood help fundraising effort for Women’s Cancer Center at StanfordStanford expert weighs in on ovarian-cancer screening recommendationWhat’s 1,454 feet tall, glows pink and sounds like country music?Stanford Women’s Cancer Center opens Monday and Wellness after cancer: Stanford opens clinic to address survivors’ needs
Video, Embracing the Challenge, from Friday’s Films

Image of the Week

Image of the Week: Sigmoid volvulus

imageoftheweek_radiograph

This week’s image comes to us via Figure 1, a smartphone app that’s a virtual library where medical professionals can upload and share medical images. This particular image is an X-ray of a twist in the sigmoid colon that results in a condition called sigmoid volvulus. A hip replacement can also be seen on this X-ray.

Much like a garden hose, the kinked section of the intestine balloons in size as pressure increases. The puffy upside-down “U” shape that fills this patient’s abdomen is the section of the intestine that is cut off from the rest of the intestine by the twist.

This alarming and uncomfortable condition can be corrected with surgery.

Photo via Figure 1

Stanford News

Stanford winners Michael Levitt and Thomas Südhof celebrate Nobel Week

two NobelistsThough more than two months have passed, it seems like only yesterday that we announced Thomas Südhof, MD, and Michael Levitt, PhD, as Nobel winners. Now our heroes are participating in Nobel Week 2013 – a seven-day celebration in Stockholm, Sweden that began last weekend with a series of lectures. Video and slides from the  lectures by Südhof and Levitt are now available here and here, and today’s award ceremony can be seen on the Nobel website.

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.

Previously: Stanford’s Michael Levitt wins 2013 Nobel Prize in ChemistryNobel winner Michael Levitt’s work animates biological processes, Stanford’s Thomas Südhof wins 2013 Nobel Prize in Medicine and Discussing the brain in Spain: Nobel Laureate Thomas Südhof addresses the media
Photo of Michael Levitt, left, and Thomas Südhof, on campus earlier this fall, by L.A. Cicero/Stanford News Service

Image of the Week

Image of the Week: Light-painted photo captures the bare bones of winter

Image of the Week: Light-painted photo captures the bare bones of winter
HelloWinter_resize560
As winter approaches it strips the honeyed glow of fall from the trees. In this period of transition, you can see the soon-to-be-winterized skeletons that will remain – the trunks and branches that are the forest’s bones. In the image above, entitled Hello Winter, Finnish artist Janne Parviainen used a form of long-exposure, slow shutter speed photography, called light painting, to play with similarities between the human form and the change of seasons.
From Parviainen’s description of this work:

The photo was done last year just before the first snow came to Helsinki. I live near the street in this photo and I always admire how beautiful the street and the trees look in autumn. As a child, I was very impressed by the symbolism in Finnish paintings of winter, and wanted to make my own interpretation of the subject whilst capturing the beauty of the scene and the feeling of oncoming winter.

All my light art photos are straight from the camera, no post processing of any kind has been done to them.

Photo by Janne Parviainen

 

Health Disparities, HIV/AIDS, In the News, Patient Care, Public Health, Women's Health

Photography and storytelling may help poor women with HIV cope with their illness

Photography and storytelling may help poor women with HIV cope with their illness

cameraI can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a song, read a poem, or seen a photo that transformed my point of view. But the viewing or listening audience may not be the only ones who benefit from art: Sometimes the act of creating can be therapeutic for the artist, too. So I was interested to read about a study that looked at photography as a means to facilitate empowerment among women with HIV.

Scientists at the University of Missouri partnered with the charity PhotoVoice in a project called Picturing New Possibilities. Thirty women with HIV who were poor and members of a racial or ethnic minority group were given cameras to capture and document their daily lives. They discussed their images in small-group settings and had the option to display them in public exhibits. Then the women were interviewed about their experience with the project.

From a release:

“When the women got the cameras in their hands, they chose to focus on their strengths – not just their challenging circumstances,” [first author  Michelle Teti, DrPH] said. “They were able to reflect on what they had overcome in their lives despite illness. Many women said such opportunities for reflection were few amid their other life responsibilities. The photovoice project really enabled these women to stop, reflect and think about their HIV and their lives in new and often positive ways.”

The results of the study, which was funded in part by the National Institutes of Health, were published in the Journal of Nurses in AIDS Care (subscription required).

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.

Previously: Dramatic art depicts triumph over HIVWHO’s new recommendations on contraceptive use and HIVEngagement in arts or sports linked with greater well-being, Scottish report shows and Research suggests art lovers may fare better after a stroke
Photo by Sasha D Butler

Chronic Disease, Parenting, Patient Care

Parent details practical ways to get care and support for your child’s rare disease

Parent details practical ways to get care and support for your child's rare disease

holding hands with child_560Since rare diseases are inherently uncommon, researchers have few opportunities to learn about them. As Marcela De Vivo explained earlier this month on the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) blog, this can make it hard for people with such disorders to get the care the need.

In her post, Vivo describes the challenges she faced as a mother of a child with a rare disease. But the bulk of her story is crafted to help other parents in similar situations. Think of it as a frank, how-to guide that details the practical ways that parents can overcome the challenges of caring for a child with an uncommon medical condition.

Among the actions she recommends in her post:

  • Become a part of an online community (such as NORD), where you can get information on your child’s disease.
  • Be relentless when trying possible treatments for your child’s condition – if the first (or second or third) treatment is unsuccessful, keep trying.
  • Share what you learn about the treatments your child tries with other parents and with your doctors.

Even if you don’t have a child, this post is an enlightening and helpful read.

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.

Previously: The day my doctor thanked meLessons from five million patient and caregiver posts, When do you tell a potential partner about your rare illness?When you say nothing at all: Living with an invisible illness and New search engine designed to help physicians and the public in diagnosing rare diseases
Photo by stephanski

Events, Health Policy, Mental Health, Patient Care, Stanford News

Full-length video available for Stanford’s Health Policy Forum on serious mental illness

Full-length video available for Stanford's Health Policy Forum on serious mental illness

Previously on Scope, we discussed a Health Policy Forum on mental illness. As Stanford addiction expert Keith Humphreys, PhD, explained in his post, the goal of the forum – entitled “Serious Mental Illness: How can we balance public health and public safety?” – was to explore issues related to health policies for the mentally ill in a transparent and productive way.

Paul Costello, chief communications officer for the School of Medicine, led the forum’s diverse panel of experts which included:

The forum addressed several issues related to serious mental illness including violence, life as a mentally ill patient in prison, the stigma of mental illness, and cluster suicides. Costello and the panel bring fresh insights to a topic of longstanding debate; the video is worth a watch.

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.

Previously: “Brains are unmentionable:” A father reflects on reactions to daughter’s mental illness, Upcoming Stanford Health Policy Forum to focus on mental illnessExamining mental health policies in the wake of school shooting tragedy and Probing the underlying physiological causes of mental illness

Image of the Week

Image of the Week: School of medicine faculty member captures beauty in Stanford’s backyard

Image of the Week: School of medicine faculty member captures beauty in Stanford's backyard

Calif Coast 3 birds_resized560

When I sat down to write last week’s story on the School of Medicine’s art exhibit, I thought the most difficult aspect of the piece would be weaving six different interviews into one coherent story. I was wrong. The most difficult task was choosing just one photo to accompany the story. Happily, I discovered a loophole that allows me to show you two images related to this one story.

The image above was taken by one of the artists featured in the exhibit at Stanford’s Li Ka Shing Center for Learning and Knowledge. Professor Matthew Scott, PhD, told me that these elegant seabirds are avocets and that the photo was taken ”right here in Stanford’s backyard, in the amazing Palo Alto Baylands.”

Previously: Stanford’s School of Medicine Art Exhibit displays faculty’s artistic sideMore than shiny: Stanford’s new sculpture by Alyson Shotz and Image of the Week: Artful arches from Stanford’s Art Exhibit Extravaganza 2013
Photo by Matthew Scott, PhD

Behavioral Science, Events, Health and Fitness, Public Health, Stanford News, Videos

Now available: Full-length video of Stanford’s Roundtable on Happiness

Now available: Full-length video of Stanford's Roundtable on Happiness

Last month, I wrote about the Stanford Roundtable on Happiness and included a short video with a sample of tips for happier and healthier living that the panel and moderator Katie Couric had shared with the audience. Several readers wrote to me expressing interest in the event and saying they’d wished they could have seen the entire presentation. Now, here’s a chance to watch the event – the full-length video was recently made available online.

Enjoy!

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.

Previously: What is happiness? Stanford Roundtable experts weigh inAre you happy now? Stanford Roundtable spotlights the science of happiness and wellbeingFirdaus Dhabhar discusses the positive effects of stress and Examining the helpful and harmful effects of stress

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