Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Cost of Health Care, JAMA / 13.03.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Yusuke Tsugawa, research associate Department of Health Policy and Management Harvard T H Chan School of Public Division of General Internal Medicine and Primary Care Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, MA      MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: It is well known that health spending varies substantially across geographical regions, and yet regions that spend more on health care dot not achieve better health outcomes. These findings has led to many to conclude that at least 20% of U.S. health care spending could be reduced without compromising quality of care. However, while physicians play a critical role in health care decision making, little is known as to how much health care spending varies between physicians, and its implications for patient outcomes. In this study, we found that the variation in spending across physicians is slightly larger than the variation across hospitals. More importantly, higher spending by physicians did not lead to lower patient mortality or readmission rates, within the same hospital. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, JAMA, Outcomes & Safety / 01.03.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Alisa Khan, MD, MPH Staff Physician Instructor in Pediatrics Boston Children's Hospital  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: ​Medical errors are known to be a leading cause of death in the United States. However, the true rate at which errors and adverse events occur in medicine is believed to be even higher than what has been found through the most rigorous patient safety studies. Families are typically excluded from safety surveillance efforts, both in research and operationally in hospitals. We found that including families in safety reporting at four pediatric hospitals led to significantly higher error/adverse event detection rates, compared to the safety surveillance methodology typically considered most rigorous and highest yield in safety research. In addition, families reported errors/adverse events at similar rates as providers and at several-fold higher rates than the hospital incident reports which typically form the basis of operational hospital safety surveillance. (more…)
Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Geriatrics, Heart Disease, Stroke / 26.02.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Ariela Orkaby, MD, MPH Geriatrics & Preventive Cardiology Associate Epidemiologist Division of Aging, Brigham and Women's Hospital Instructor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Atrial Fibrillation is a common heart rhythm that affects 1 in 25 adults over age 60 and 1 in 10 adults over age 80. The feared consequence of atrial fibrillation is stroke, leading to the prescription of blood thinning medications (anticoagulants such as warfarin) to prevent strokes. However, there is an underutilization of these life-saving medications in older adults, and particularly in those who have dementia. In part, this is due to a lack of research and inclusion of older adults with dementia in prior studies. In this study, we used clinical Veterans Administration data, linked to Medicare, to follow 2,572 individuals over age 65 who had atrial fibrillation and until a diagnosis of dementia. The average age was 80 years, and 99% were male. We found that only 16% remained on warfarin. We used statistical methods to account for reasons why a patient would or would not be treated with warfarin and found that those who continued to take warfarin had a significantly lower risk of stroke (HR 0.74, 95% Confidence interval 0.54- 0.99, p=0.47) and death (HR 0.72, 95% CI 0.60-0.87, p<0.01) compared to those who did not continue to take warfarin, without an increased risk of bleeding. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Cancer Research, Dermatology, Diabetes, Melanoma / 13.02.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Bin Zheng, PhD Assistant Professor Cutaneous Biology Research Center Massachusetts General Hospital Harvard Medical School Charlestown, MA 02129  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer with more than 75,000 newly diagnosed cases in the US each year. Over the years, various genetic driver mutations have been identified that cause melanoma, including mutations in the genes BRAF and NRAS. Recent genetic insights into the development of melanoma showed that also mutations in NF1 can lead to melanoma. While there are targeted therapies available for BRAF-mutant melanoma, thus far no such therapies are available for NF1-mutant melanoma. We identified that using a combination of an ERK inhibitor, SCH772984, and the antidiabetic drug phenformin could provide a novel therapeutic strategy for NF1-mutatnt melanomas. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Genetic Research, Hearing Loss, Nature / 09.02.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Gwenaelle Geleoc, PhD Assistant Professor Department of Otolaryngology F.M. Kirby Neurobiology Center Children's Hospital and Harvard Medical School Boston, MA MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: We seek to develop gene therapy to restore auditory and balance function in a mouse model of Usher syndrome. Usher syndrome is a rare genetic disorder which causes deafness, progressive blindness and in some cases balance deficits. We used a novel viral vector developed by Luk Vandenberghe and package gene sequences encoding for Ush1c and applied it to young mice suffering from Usher syndrome. These mice mimic a mutation found in patients of Acadian descent. We assessed recovery of hearing and balance function in young adult mice which had received the treatment. Otherwise deaf and dizzy, we found that the treated mice had recovered hearing down to soft sounds equivalent to a whisper and normal balance function. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Education, Outcomes & Safety / 06.02.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Yusuke Tsugawa, MD, MPH, PhD Research Associate at Department of Health Policy and Management Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health   MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Prior evidence has been mixed as to whether or not patient outcomes differ between U.S. and foreign medical graduates. However, previous studies used small sample sizes or data from a small number of states. Therefore, it was largely unknown how international medical graduates perform compared with US medical graduates. To answer this question, we analyzed a nationally representative sample of Medicare beneficiaries admitted to hospitals with a medical condition in 2011-2014. Our sample included approximately 1.2 million hospitalizations treated by 40,000 physicians. After adjusting for severity of illness of patients and hospitals (we compared physicians within the same hospital), we found that patient treated by international medical graduates had lower mortality than patients cared for by US medical graduates (adjusted 30-day mortality rate 11.2% vs 11.6%, p<0.001). We observed no difference in readmissions, whereas costs of care was slightly higher for international medical graduates. (more…)
Author Interviews, Autism, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Gastrointestinal Disease, Microbiome / 26.01.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Maria Rosaria Fiorentino, PhD Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School Molecular Biologist at Mucosal Immunology and Biology Research Center Massachusetts General Hospital East Charlestown, MA 02129-4404 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) refers to complex neurodevelopmental disorders arising from the interaction of genes and environmental factors. There are no defined mechanisms explaining how environmental triggers can lead to these conditions. One hypothesis based on the gut-brain axis connection suggests that inappropriate antigens trafficking through an impaired intestinal barrier, followed by passage of these antigens through a permissive blood-brain barrier (BBB), can be part of the chain of events leading to the disease. Many Autism Spectrum Disorders children experience co-morbid medical conditions, including gastrointestinal (GI) dysfunctions whose underlying nature is poorly understood. Several clinical observations describe increased intestinal permeability in ASD with often conflicting findings. Permeability to neuroactive food antigens derived from the partial digestion of wheat (gliadorphins) and cow’s milk (casomorphins) has been reported in ASD. However, while evidence of a permeable gut barrier in ASD is increasingly reported, no information is available concerning a similar breach for the BBB. The BBB is a critical line of defense in the Central Nervous System, limiting the access of circulating solutes, macromolecules, and cells that could negatively impact neuronal activity. Dysfunctions of the BBB have been associated with numerous inflammatory neurologic disorders, such as stroke, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. (more…)
ASCO, Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Colon Cancer, Exercise - Fitness / 21.01.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Brendan John Guercio, M.D. Clinical Fellow in Medicine (EXT) Brigham and Women's Hospital MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Sedentary lifestyle is a known risk factor for the development of colon cancer and has been associated with increased disease recurrence and mortality in patients with early stage colorectal cancer. This is the first study to our knowledge to show an association between increased physical activity (i.e. non-sedentary lifestyle) and improved survival and progression-free survival in patients with metastatic colorectal cancer. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Pain Research, Stroke / 13.01.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Matthias Eikermann, MD, PhD Associate Professor of Anaesthesia Harvard Medical School Clinical Director, Critical Care Division  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Up to one fifth of the general population have migraine, a primary, chronic-intermittent headache disorder affecting the neuronal and vascular systems and characterized by severe headache accompanied by nausea and/or sensory hypersensitivities such as photophobia and phonophobia. In approximately 20-30% of patients, the headache phase is preceded or accompanied by transient focal neurological disturbances presenting as visual symptoms but also sensory, aphasic, or motor symptoms known as migraine aura. Stroke is responsible for approximately 6.2 million deaths a year and is a leading global cause of long term disability. Considering that more than 50 million patients in hospital and 53 million ambulatory patients undergo surgical procedures in the United States every year. We found that patients with migraine, particularly migraine with aura, undergoing a surgical procedure are at increased risk of perioperative ischemic stroke and readmission to hospital within 30 days after discharge. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Heart Disease, Lancet, Medical Imaging, MRI, Social Issues / 12.01.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr Ahmed Tawakol MD Co-Director, Cardiac MR PET CT Program Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: While the link between stress and heart disease has long been established, the mechanism mediating that risk hasn’t been clearly understood. Animal studies showed that stress activates bone marrow to produce white blood cells, leading to arterial inflammation.  This study suggests an analogous path exists in humans. Moreover, this study identifies, for the first time in animal models or humans, the region of the brain (the amygdala) that links stress to the risk of heart attack and stroke. The paper reports on two complementary studies. The first analyzed imaging and medical records data from almost 300 individuals who had PET/CT brain imaging, primarily for cancer screening, using a radiopharmaceutical called FDG that both measures the activity of areas within the brain and reflects inflammation within arteries.  All participants in that study had no active cancer or cardiovascular disease at the time of imaging and each had information in their medical records on at least three additional clinical visits after imaging. The second study enrolled 13 individuals with a history of post-traumatic stress disorder, who were evaluated for their current levels of perceived stress and received FDG-PET scanning to measure both amygdala activity and arterial inflammation. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Heart Disease, JACC, Surgical Research / 10.01.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Deepak L. Bhatt, MD, MPH, FACC, FAHA, FSCAI, FESC Executive Director of Interventional Cardiovascular Programs, Brigham and Women’s Hospital Heart & Vascular Center Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School Boston, MA 02115 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Cangrelor is a potent, fast on, fast off, intravenous ADP receptor antagonist that is now available for use during PCI. Glycoprotein IIb/IIIa inhibitors are intravenous antiplatelet agents that work by a different mechanism. Doctors have asked whether there is any advantage to combining them or whether one class is preferable to the other during PCI. We analyzed close to 25,000 patients from the CHAMPION trials. Cangrelor’s efficacy in reducing peri-procedural ischemic complications in patients undergoing PCI was present irrespective of glycoprotein IIb/IIIa inhibitor administration. However, glycoprotein IIb/IIIa inhibitor use resulted in substantially higher bleeding rates, regardless of whether the patient was randomized to cangrelor or to clopidogrel. Thus, in general, cangrelor and glycoprotein IIb/IIIa inhibitors should not routinely be combined. If an operator wishes to use a potent intravenous antiplatelet during PCI, cangrelor is similarly efficacious as glycoprotein IIb/IIIa inhibitors, but with less bleeding risk. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Hepatitis - Liver Disease, Technology / 01.01.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Prof. David A. Weitz Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics and Applied Physics School of Engineering and Applied Sciences Harvard University MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this technology study? What are the main findings? Response: Currently, it is very time-consuming and expensive to develop new drugs. One reason is that many drugs fail in clinical trials after animal studies, simply because animals are very different from humans. One promising means of solving this problem is to replace animal experiments with artificial human tissues that can be used to directly screen a drug. However, it is a challenge to construct artificial human tissues, as almost all human tissues are composed of multiple types of cells and extracellular matrices in 3D structures. In our studies, we have successfully developed a droplet-based microfluidic technique to fabricate large numbers of monodisperse, portable microtissues. We spatially assemble different types of cells in a 3D core-shell structure and construct an artificial human microtissue in each individual drop. The specific structures we create in the microdoplets are designed to mimic the behavior of the liver, and hence we call these structures a ‘liver in a drop.’  (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Gender Differences, Hospital Readmissions, JAMA / 20.12.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Yusuke Tsugawa, MD, MPH, PhD Department of Health Policy and Management Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, Department of Medicine Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School Boston, Massachusetts  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: We analyzed a 20% sample of Medicare beneficiaries hospitalized with a medical condition in 2011-2014, and found that patients treated by female doctors have lower mortality and readmission rates than those cared for by male doctors. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Endocrinology, Infections / 18.12.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Flaminia Catteruccia PhD Associate Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases Boston, Massachusetts 02115 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Mosquito control via lethal insecticides is a key method for reduction of malaria transmission. As insecticide resistance is spreading, new intervention methods are urgent. Our study demonstrates that studies on mosquito biology can provide novel, much needed tools for malaria control. We show how key aspects of mosquito physiology and Plasmodium development can be significantly disrupted in the female Anopheles mosquito by agonists of the insect steroid hormone 20-hydroxyecdysone (20E). Modeling of the data predicts that the integration of 20E agonists in malaria control programs would significantly reduce malaria prevalence to a similar extent as insecticides, but without imposing severe costs to mosquito populations (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Dental Research, Infections, Rheumatology, Science / 17.12.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Maximilian F. Konig, MD Division of Rheumatology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Current affiliation: Department of Medicine Massachusetts General Hospital Harvard Medical School MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response:The idea that rheumatoid arthritis (RA), an autoimmune disease that leads to chronic joint inflammation and destruction, may be initiated by a bacterial infection is not novel, but has been posited for more than a century. Based on the clinical observation that patients with RA frequently have severe periodontal disease (gum disease), gum inflammation has long been thought to contribute to disease development in RA. However, limited understanding of the mechanisms that fuel and sustain the autoimmune attack in RA made it difficult to pinpoint a specific bacterial trigger. In recent years, our understanding of the abnormal immune response that attacks the joints in patients with RA has grown exponentially, and we now know that disease-specific autoantibodies (ACPAs) target modified self-proteins (this modification is known as citrullination). It is this abnormal immune response against citrullinated proteins that appears to drive the joint (and sometimes lung) inflammation seen in rheumatoid arthritis. Recent studies from our laboratory at The Johns Hopkins University (led by principle investigator Felipe Andrade, MD, PhD) suggested that an immune cell called the neutrophil, which normally protects us from infection at sites like the oral cavity or anywhere else in the body, also appears to be the source of the proteins attacked in RA. We were therefore interested to understand what drives the association of gum disease, an inflammation commonly triggered by bacteria, with RA. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Cost of Health Care, Primary Care / 09.12.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Ateev Mehrotra MD Associate professor, Department of Health Care Policy Harvard Medical School and a hospitalist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Boston, Massachusetts MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: More people in the US are using price transparency websites to shop for care. Some have wondered whether using the information on these websites to choose a doctor will help them actually save money. A relatively small difference in price for visits on the website translated into hundreds of dollars. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, ENT, Neurological Disorders / 30.11.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Daniel M. Merfeld, Ph.D. Professor of Otolaryngology Harvard Medical School Massachusetts Eye and Ear Director, Jenks Vestibular Physiology Laboratory Senior Scientist MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Nearly half of the population will see a clinician at some point in their lives with symptoms related to the vestibular system (e.g., dizziness, vertigo, imbalance and blurred vision). The vestibular system, made up of tiny fluid-filled membranes in the inner ear, is responsible for receiving information about motion, balance and spatial orientation. With the goal of determining whether age affected the function of the vestibular system, our research team administered balance and motion tests to 105 healthy people ranging from 18 to 80 years old and measured their vestibular thresholds (“threshold” refers to the smallest possible motion administered that the subject is able to perceive correctly). (more…)
Artificial Sweeteners, Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Metabolic Syndrome, Weight Research / 28.11.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Richard Hodin, MD Gastrointestinal and Endocrine Surgery Professor of Surgery, Harvard Medical School Chief of Academic Affairs, Department of Surgery, Massachusetts General Hospital Boston, Mass 02114 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Sugar substitutes like Aspartame are widely used and supposed to make people lose weight and have less diabetes, heart disease, etc. However, a number of studies indicate that theses substitutes don’t work very well. The reasons for them not working have not been clear. Our study found that the most common sugar substitute (aspartame) blocks an enzyme in our gut called Intestinal Alkaline Phosphatase (IAP). By blocking IAP, Aspartame prevents the beneficial effects of IAP which normally works to prevent obesity, diabetes, and other aspects of the metabolic syndrome. So, we now have an explanation for why Aspartame may make obesity and the metabolic syndrome worse, rather than better. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Heart Disease, Nutrition / 25.11.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Qi Sun Sc.D, M.D., M.M.S. Assistant Professor in the Department of Nutrition Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Heath Boston MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Interpretation of existing human study data regarding saturated fat intake in relation to heart disease risk is quite confusing and distorted in certain publications. It is a fact that, depending on data analysis strategies, the effects of saturated fats may depend on which macronutrients they replace. For example, substituting saturated fats for refined carbohydrates will not lead to an elevated risk of heart disease because both nutrients are harmful whereas replacing saturated fats with good polyunsaturated fats results in risk reduction. In our current analysis, we clearly demonstrated that when total saturated fatty acids were replaced by polyunsaturated fatty acids, monounsaturated fatty acids, whole grain carbohydrates, and plant-based proteins, the diabetes risk would decrease. Furthermore, we showed that major individual saturated fatty acids were all associated with an elevated heart disease risk. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Kidney Disease, Nutrition / 20.11.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Teodor G. Paunescu PhD Assistant Professor of Medicine Harvard Medical School Boston MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Patients with kidney disease frequently report food aversion and poor dietary intake leading to malnutrition, a complication associated with high morbidity and mortality. However, there are no effective treatments currently available to address this complication, and the mechanisms underlying anorexia and food aversion in these patients remain unclear. Because of the critical role of olfaction in flavor appreciation and dietary intake, we decided to quantify olfactory (smelling) deficits in advanced chronic kidney disease (CKD) and end-stage renal disease (ESRD) patients. We found that patients with kidney disease have significant olfactory deficits that need objective assessments for accurate characterization. Our results also indicate that olfactory deficits likely attribute to nutritional impairment in patients with kidney disease. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Kidney Disease, Stem Cells / 20.11.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Ryuji Morizane MD, PhD Associate Biologist, Renal Division Brigham and Women’s Hospital Affiliated Faculty, Harvard Stem Cell Institute Instructor, Harvard Medical School MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) accounts for 10% of end-stage kidney disease (ESKD), and there is currently no curable treatment available for patients with PKD. The adult onset form of PKD, the most common type of PKD, takes 30 years to form cysts in humans; therefore, it is difficult to study mechanisms of PKD to find novel therapeutics for patients. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, OBGYNE, Pediatrics / 18.11.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Melissa C. Bartick, MD, MSc Department of Medicine Cambridge Health Alliance Harvard Medical School Cambridge, MA MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: This is the first study ever to combine maternal and pediatric health outcomes from breastfeeding into a single model. We had published a cost analysis of suboptimal breastfeeding for pediatric disease in 2010, which found that suboptimal breastfeeding cost the US $13 billion in costs of premature death costs and medical expenses, and 911 excess deaths. We followed that up with a maternal cost analysis which found about $18 billion in premature death costs and medical expenses. In both these studies, most of the costs were from premature death. We were unable to combine the results of these two studies because their methodologies were different, and both of them, especially the pediatric portion needed to be updated. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Compliance, Gastrointestinal Disease, Pharmacology, Technology / 18.11.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: C. Giovanni Traverso, MB, BChir, PhD Gastroenterologist and biomedical engineer Division of Gastroenterology at BWH Instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: We developed a drug delivery system capable of safely residing in the stomach for 2 weeks. Furthermore we demonstrated the capacity of the novel dosage form, in the shape of a star, to protect the drug from the acidic stomach environment and also slowly release drug over the course of 14 days. We applied this new technology towards efforts targeting the elimination of malaria. Specifically, we focused on a drug called ivermectin that has been used to treat parasites but also has the benefit of being toxic to malaria-carrying mosquitos when they bite someone who has ivermectin in their system. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Heart Disease, NEJM, Surgical Research / 17.11.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Mandeep R. Mehra, MD, FACC, FESC, FHFSA, FRCP Medical Director, Brigham and Women’s Hospital Heart and Vascular Center Executive Director, Center for Advanced Heart Disease Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School Editor in Chief, The Journal of Heart and Lung Transplantation Brigham and Women's Hospital Boston, MA Mandeep R. Mehra, MD, FACC, FESC, FHFSA, FRCP Medical Director, Brigham and Women’s Hospital Heart and Vascular Center Executive Director, Center for Advanced Heart Disease Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School Editor in Chief, The Journal of Heart and Lung Transplantation Brigham and Women's Hospital Boston, MA MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: 10% of patients with heart failure and a reduced ejection fraction transition into Advanced Stages of disease where they become unresponsive to life prolonging traditional medications. Such patients typically require intravenous inotropic therapy to preserve cardiac function but most remain profoundly limited in their quality of life. In such cases a heart transplant is desirable but this is an option for only a few patients. Left Ventricular Assist Devices (LVADs) have become the mainstay for treating such patients either while they await a transplant or as a permanent option. However, there are challenges leading to infections, strokes, bleeding and most importantly pump malfunction due to thrombosis of the LVAD itself. The HeartMate 3 LVAD is a centrifugal pump that is designed to overcome the problem of pump thrombosis by virtue of 3 engineering attributes: (a) A frictionless rotor that is based on a fully magnetically levitated platform (b) wide blood flow passages that reduce red cell destruction and (c) an artificial intrinsic pulse that prevents stasis of blood within the pump. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Neurological Disorders / 17.11.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Michael D. Fox, MD, PhD Assistant Professor in Neurology Berenson-Allen Center for Noninvasive Brain Stimulation Division of Cognitive Neurology, Department of Neurology Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Boston, MA MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Consciousness is thought to be composed of arousal plus awareness, but no one knows where these processes live in the human brain. We took a unique approach to this question by studying human brain lesions that disrupt consciousness and cause coma. We found one small spot in the brainstem that was specific for coma (i.e. lesions that hit this spot caused coma while lesions that didn’t hit the spot did not cause coma). In other words, there was one spot in the human brainstem that, when lesioned, disrupted arousal and caused coma We then looked at the connectivity of that brainstem spot, and found that it was connected to two cortical regions previously implicated in awareness. These cortical regions also contained a unique type of brain cell thought only to be present in higher order mammals that are self-aware. To confirm our findings, we looked at the integrity of our network in patients with disorders of consciousness (e.g. persistent vegetative state) and found selective disruption of this network. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Gender Differences, Memory, Menopause / 12.11.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Jill M. Goldstein, Ph.D. Director of Research for the Connors Center for Women's Health and Gender Biology Brigham and Women's Hospital and Professor of Psychiatry and Medicine at Harvard Medical School MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Maintaining intact memory function as we age is one of the primary public health challenges of our time. In fact, women are at almost twice the risk for Alzheimer's disease and it is not only because women live longer. Thus, it is incumbent upon us to understand this sex difference and incorporate the knowledge into the development of sex-dependent therapeutics. Our study focused on beginning this investigation by understanding how memory circuitry and memory function change over the menopausal transition, when we believe that sex differences in memory aging emerge. By understanding healthy aging, we will better understand how the brain goes awry with age differently in men and women and who might be at highest risk for Alzheimer's disease later in life. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Cost of Health Care, JAMA / 24.10.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Anna D. Sinaiko, PhD, MPP Research Scientist Department of Health Policy & Management Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Boston, MA 02115 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: One strategy for reducing health care spending in the U.S. is to increase transparency in health care pricing for patients. The idea is that patients can learn about and anticipate the prices they would pay for health care before they receive care, and incorporate that information into their choices about whether and where to receive care. When patients incorporate price information into their decisions, it gives providers an incentive to compete on price and quality. There has been a dramatic increase in the availability of health care price information over the last few years for patients who have commercial health insurance, primarily through web-based tools. In this study, we examined the impact of this information on patient choice of health care facility. We find that a small number of enrollees with commercial health insurance through Aetna, 3% overall, accessed price information through their transparency tool. Among users of the tool, patients who viewed price information for imaging services and for sleep studies before they had the service chose facilities with lower prices, and incurred lower spending (of 12%) for imaging services. We found no effect on patient choices for patients who viewed price information for 6 other health care services (carpal tunnel release, cataract/lens procedures, colonoscopy, echocardiogram, mammograms, and upper gastrointestinal endoscopy). (more…)
AHA Journals, Author Interviews, Beth Israel Deaconess, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Clots - Coagulation, Heart Disease / 18.10.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Eric A. Secemsky, MD MSc Interventional Cardiology Fellow Massachusetts General Hospital Harvard Medical School Fellow, Smith Center for Outcomes Research in Cardiology Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Use of oral anticoagulant (OAC) therapy prior to coronary stenting is a significant predictor of post-procedural bleeding events. Previous studies have estimated that the frequency of chronic OAC use among patients undergoing percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) is between 3% to 7%. Yet many of these analyses examined select patient populations, such as those admitted with acute myocardial infarction or atrial fibrillation, and preceded the market approval of non-vitamin K antagonist oral anticoagulants (NOACs). As such, the contemporary prevalence of OAC use among all-comers undergoing PCI, as well as associated risks of adverse events, are currently unknown. Therefore, we used PCI data from a large, integrated healthcare system to determine current use of  oral anticoagulant use among all-comers undergoing coronary stenting and the related short- and long-term risks of therapy. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, JAMA, Technology / 12.10.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Ateev Mehrotra, M.D. Associate Professor Department of Health Care Policy Harvard Medical School MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Prior research has highlighted that physicians make diagnostic errors roughly 10 to 15 percent of the time. Over the last two decades, computer-based checklists and other “fail-safe” digital apps have been increasingly used to reduce medication errors or streamline infection-prevention protocols. Lately, experts have wondered whether computers might also help reduce diagnostic errors. In the study, 234 internal medicine physicians were asked to evaluate 45 clinical cases, involving both common and uncommon conditions with varying degrees of severity. For each case, physicians had to identify the most likely diagnosis along with two additional possible diagnoses. Each clinical vignette was solved by at least 20 physicians. The same cases were also evaluated using 19 symptom checkers, websites or apps that use computers that help patients determine potential diagnoses for what is wrong based on their symptoms. The physicians vastly outperformed the symptom-checker apps, listing the correct diagnosis 72 percent of the time, compared with 34 percent of the time for the digital platforms. Eighty-four percent of clinicians listed the correct diagnosis in the top three possibilities, compared with 51 percent for the digital symptom-checkers. (more…)