Weekend Links

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We’ve hand-picked a mix of Massachusetts General Hospital and other research-related news and stories for your weekend reading enjoyment:

Creative Minds: A New Way to Look at Cancer

Better Patient-Provider Communication Needed for Obesity Care

Eugenics 2.0: We’re at the Dawn of Choosing Embryos by Health, Height, and More

6 Speaking Tips for Scientists and Engineers (editor’s note: Melissa Marshall, featured in this article, recently spoke to Mass General clinicians about how to effectively present scientific work. We were so impressed by her talk that we wanted to introduce her to our readers) 

Looking for a great book for the young scientist in your life? The long list of 2018 AAAS/Subaru SB&F (Science Books and Films) Prize winners for Excellence in Science Books has been released. Prizes are awarded each year in the following categories:

  • Children’s Science Picture Books
  • Middle Grade Science Books
  • Young Adult Science Books
  • Hands on Science Books

See the full list here

 

Top photo: courtesy of Tim Lahan, MIT Technology Review

Obesity Prevention Researchers Make Strides with First 1,000 Days Program

How early should we start taking steps to prevent childhood obesity? It could be before the baby is even born.

That’s the thinking of the research team behind the First 1,000 Days Program, an initiative launched by Massachusetts General Hospital for Children that provides assistance to women during the timeframe believed to be most critical to their child’s health – pregnancy and the first two years after birth.

The program is led by Elsie Taveras, MD, MPH, chief of General Pediatrics at MGHfC, and Derrie Shatsel, MD, MPH, executive director of The Kraft Center for Community Health at Partners HealthCare.

Here are some quick facts about the growing childhood obesity problem in the United States:

  • One in 10 infants are considered overweight
  • By kindergarten, an estimated 1 in 5 children are overweight or obese
  • Being overweight or obese increases the risk of developing diabetes, high blood pressure and early heart disease
  • Overweight or obese children are also at an increased risk of being bullied, which can cause additional psychological problems

The 1,000 Days Program is based at the MGH Health Centers in Chelsea and Revere, and is designed to provide expectant mothers with the tools and resources needed to get their children off to a healthy start in life.

The research team is working to address childhood obesity by:

  • Encouraging pregnant women to maintain a healthy weight throughout pregnancy
  • Working with parents to help them distinguish between different cries from their children, so they don’t mistakenly feed a sleepy child
  • Advocating the complete elimination of juice and sugary drinks, which contribute to weight gain and cavities
  • Encouraging breastfeeding if possible, and if bottle feeding, for parents to watch for cues that the baby is full in order to prevent overfeeding
  • Holding off on introducing solid foods until at least four months, six months if possible
  • Revising expectations so toddlers are not required to clear their plate at every meal

The team also encourages parents to set a good example for their children by eating healthy as well.

The goal of the program is to reach 1,000 women during 2017. As of April the team had already met with over 600 women.

A portion of the study is supported by Dr. Taveras’ MGH Research Scholar award. These philanthropy funded awards provide investigators at Mass General with unrestricted funds that they can use to pursue promising new avenues of research. Taveras is an Ofer and Shelly Nemirovsky MGH Research Scholar.

Read more about the 1,000 Days Program here.

Dr. Stanford Addresses Barriers and Disparities in Obesity Treatment

April is National Minority Health Month—a time to raise awareness on issues impacting health disparities and health equity in America. Learn how Mass General’s Dr. Fatima Cody Stanford is addressing barriers and disparities by taking a holistic approach to both treat and advocate for patients who have obesity.

Fatima Cody Stanford photo 2
Dr. Fatima Cody Stanford, MD, MPH, MPA

Continue reading “Dr. Stanford Addresses Barriers and Disparities in Obesity Treatment”

Research Awards and Honors: March 2017

Massachusetts General Hospital’s talented and dedicated researchers are working to push the boundaries of science and medicine every day. In this series we highlight a few individuals who have recently received awards or honors for their achievements:

 CorcoranRyan Corcoran, MD, PhD, of the Division of Hematology and Oncology, has been elected to the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI), one of the greatest honors for a young physician scientist. The ASCI is an honor society of physician-scientists, those who translate findings in the laboratory to the advancement of clinical practice. Founded in 1908, the society is home to nearly 3,000 members who are in the upper ranks of academic medicine and industry.

My research focuses on developing therapies against the specific molecular changes driving gastrointestinal cancers and in identifying and overcoming the mechanisms by which tumors become resistant to therapy, in order to improve treatment outcomes.

Being inducted into ASCI is a great honor, and our team will continue to work toward its goal of leveraging science-driven clinical investigation to improve treatment options for patients with gastrointestinal cancers.

 

SinghalVibha Singhal, MD, of the Pediatric Endocrine Unit, has received the Janet McArthur Award for Excellence in Clinical Research by Women in Endocrinology. This is one of just two Young Investigator Awards awarded annually by the organization recognizing the most outstanding abstracts accepted for presentation at the Annual Meeting of the Endocrine Society.

My research involves evaluating the impact of body composition on bone health in adolescents and young adults ranging from low weight patients with anorexia to severely obese patients. I have worked with populations suffering from anorexia nervosa, female athletes who have decreased energy availability, irregular menses and osteoporosis and I’m now primarily focused on severe obesity. I aim to dissect the physiological impact of increased fat around abdominal organs (visceral), under the skin (subcutaneous) or in the bone (marrow) on bone strength and ultimately fracture risk.

I am honored to receive the Janet McArthur Award for Excellence in Clinical Research by Women in Endocrinology. It is a privilege to stand with other accomplished young endocrinologists dedicated to making a difference in human health. It is also a testament to the great mentorship and resources available at MGH.


Congratulations Drs. Corcoran and Singhal!

Research Roundup

In this month’s edition, we have news about a potential new treatment for ‪#‎depression‬, new insights into ‪#‎tumor‬ growth, a smartphone app that can track your mental health, and lots more.

Read the full Research Roundup here

Bariatric Surgery May Reduce Life-Threatening Heart Failure Exacerbation in Obese Patients

“We found that bariatric surgery – the most effective way to achieve substantial and sustained weight loss – was associated with a 40 percent reduction in emergency department visits and hospitalizations for heart failure exacerbation,” says Yuichi Shimada, MD, MPH, of the Mass General Cardiology Division, the lead and corresponding author of the report.

“These findings are important because, while both obesity and heart failure are major public health problems in the U.S., little has been known about whether substantial weight loss would decrease the risk of heart-failure-related adverse events.”

READ MORE

Study Suggests Positive Gains From Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass

Patients with all classes of obesity, including, mild, moderate, and severe, with all stages of fibrosis, experienced gains in life years following laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, compared with standard management and intensive lifestyle changes, based on the model, Dr. Kathleen Corey reported at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.

Surgery also increased quality-adjusted life years (QALY) in those with moderate and severe obesity with all fibrosis stages, those with mild obesity and F2-F3 fibrosis, and in overweight patients with F3 fibrosis, said Dr Corey of Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston.

LEARN MORE