Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Cancer Research, JAMA, Lancet, Lung Cancer, Medical Imaging, Technology / 07.09.2022 Interview with: Raymond H. Mak, MD Radiation Oncology Disease Center Leader for Thoracic Oncology Director of Patient Safety and QualityDirector of Clinical Innovation Associate Professor, Harvard Medical School Cancer - Radiation OncologyRadiation Oncology Department of Radiation Oncology Brigham and Women's Hospital What is the background for this study? What is the algorithm detecting? Response: Lung cancer, the most common cancer worldwide is highly lethal, but can be treated and cured in some cases with radiation therapy.  Nearly half of lung cancer patients will eventually require some form of radiation therapy, but the planning for a course of radiation therapy currently entails manual, time-consuming, and resource-intensive work by highly trained physicians to segment (target) the cancerous tumors in the lungs and adjacent lymph nodes on three-dimensional images (CT scans). Prior studies have shown substantial variation in how expert clinicians delineate these targets, which can negatively impact outcomes and there is a projected shortage of skilled medical staff to perform these tasks worldwide as cancer rates increase. To address this critical gap, our team developed deep learning algorithms that can automatically target lung cancer in the lungs and adjacent lymph nodes from CT scans that are used for radiation therapy planning, and can be deployed in seconds. We trained these artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms using expert-segmented targets from over 700 cases and validated the performance in over 1300 patients in external datasets (including publicly available data from a national trial), benchmarked its performance against expert clinicians, and then further validated the clinical usefulness of the algorithm in human-AI collaboration experiments that measured accuracy, task speed, and end-user satisfaction. (more…)
Author Interviews, COVID -19 Coronavirus, Lancet / 12.04.2022 Interview with: Dr Kollengode Ramanathan MD Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit National University Heart Centre National University Hospital Singapore  What is the background for this study?  Response: Globally, more than 10 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered as of March 2022. While most side-effects of the vaccine are mild and self-limiting, myopericarditis ( inflammation of the heart) is increasingly being reported after COVID-19 vaccination. Thus far it has only been linked only to smallpox vaccination. However, several studies have suggested that mRNA COVID-19 vaccines significantly increase the risk of myocarditis, particularly in males and in people aged 16-39 years. We reviewed the literature comparing the incidence of myopericarditis following COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 vaccination.   (more…)
Author Interviews, Diabetes, Global Health, Lancet / 12.01.2022 Interview with: Prof Dianna J Magliano PhD Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute Melbourne Australia What is the background for this study? Response: Mortality among people with diabetes, and how it changes over time, is an important indicator of quality of and access to health care. However, population level trends in mortality among people with diabetes are inadequately described. The establishment of national diabetes registers, health insurance data and administrative data has allowed the examination of mortality among those with diabetes at a granular level which has been previously not possible. This has allowed us to examine whether global efforts in regards to diabetes care over the last couple of decades have been effective. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Dermatology, Lancet, Melanoma, Technology / 11.11.2021 Interview with: Dr David Wen BM BCh NIHR Academic Clinical Fellow in Dermatology University of Oxford What is the background for this study? Response: Publicly available skin image datasets are commonly used to develop machine learning (ML) algorithms for skin cancer diagnosis. These datasets are often utilised as they circumvent many of the barriers associated with large scale skin lesion image acquisition. Furthermore, publicly available datasets can be used as a benchmark for direct comparison of algorithm performance. Dataset and image metadata provide information about the disease and population upon which the algorithm was trained or validated on. This is important to know because machine learning algorithms heavily depend on the data used to train them; algorithms used for skin lesion classification frequently underperform when tested on independent datasets to which they were trained on. Detailing dataset composition is essential for extrapolating assumptions of generalisability of algorithm performance to other populations. At the time this review was conducted, the total number of publicly available datasets globally and their respective content had not previously been characterised. Therefore, we aimed to identify publicly available skin image datasets used to develop ML algorithms for skin cancer diagnosis, to categorise their data access requirements, and to systematically evaluate their characteristics including associated metadata.   (more…)
Author Interviews, COVID -19 Coronavirus, Critical Care - Intensive Care - ICUs, Lancet, Pulmonary Disease / 26.08.2021 Interview with: Jie Li, PhD, RRT, RRT-ACCS, RRT-NPS, FAARC Department of Cardiopulmonary Sciences Division of Respiratory Care Rush University, Chicago What is the background for this study? Response: Prone positioning has been shown to improve oxygenation and reduce mortality in intubated patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), as placing patients on their stomachs can help open alveoli and reduce ventilation to perfusion mismatch. At early pandemic, clinicians tried prone positioning for non-intubated patients with COVID-19 and found improvement in oxygenation. However, the evidence for patient outcomes such as intubation or mortality is still lacking. Thus we organized this international, multicenter, randomized controlled meta-trial, with 41 hospitals in 6 countries participated. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, COVID -19 Coronavirus, Imperial College, Lancet / 28.07.2021 Interview with: Dr. Adam Hampshire PhD Faculty of Medicine Department of Brain Sciences Imperial College London What is the background for this study? Response: During 2020 I was leading a study that sought to map the distribution of cognitive abilities and aspects of mental health across the UK population. The study generated a lot of interest because it was a collaboration with BBC2 Horizon, leading to ~390,000 participants. When the pandemic began to escalate in the UK a number of my colleagues at Imperial and elsewhere contacted me to note that the study could be used to investigate the impact of both the pandemic and direct illness on daily life, mental health and cognition. I had been thinking along similar lines so decided to add questionnaires about peoples' experiences with the pandemic and Covid-19 illness. (more…)
Author Interviews, Lancet, Nutrition, OBGYNE / 22.05.2021 Interview with: Susan E. Carlson Ph.D. Associate Dean for Research Program Director,, AJ Rice Professor Department of Dietetics and Nutrition University of Kansas Medical Center Kansas City, KS What is the background for this study? What are its benefits? Response: DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid. Good food sources include some types of seafood (e.g., salmon, tuna, trout) and chicken eggs. Persons in the USA and in much of the developing world consume little dietary DHA. DHA supplements in pregnancy have been linked to lower risk of preterm birth for 20 years, especially early preterm births (<34 weeks gestation). For about 10 years, prenatal supplements with about 200 mg DHA have been readily available in the USA, however, no study has asked if this amount of DHA is optimal to reduce early preterm birth. Participants were given a supplement of 1000 mg or 200 mg DHA beginning before 20 weeks gestation using an adaptive randomization that periodically assigned more participants to the group with the fewest early preterm births. (more…)
Author Interviews, Lancet, Menopause, Orthopedics, Osteoporosis, UCLA / 05.05.2021 Interview with: Carolyn Crandall, M.D. Professor, Medicine Health Sciences Clinical Professor, UCLA What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Previously-published studies had not examined in detail the risk of subsequent fractures after initial fractures in a large national sample of women in the us. Clinical guidelines mostly emphasize initial hip and spine fractures, but they do not emphasize fractures of other types.  We hypothesized that subsequent fracture risk would be higher after initial fracture even at locations other than the hip or the spine. (more…)
Author Interviews, COVID -19 Coronavirus, Dermatology, Lancet / 17.03.2021 Interview with: Matt Spick, Post-Graduate Researcher University of Surrey Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences Guildford, UK What is the background for this study? Are you measuring lipids or the virus? Response: In this study, we aimed to detect what the virus does to us, rather than the virus itself. The gold standard for detecting COVID-19 is the RT-PCR test, but by their nature, PCR tests only provide diagnostic information, and at times during the pandemic the availability of PCR tests has been a bottleneck for the identification of the disease. Our goal was to investigate a novel method for the diagnosis of COVID-19, at the same time as learning more about what the disease does to us through lipidomics. (more…)
Aging, Author Interviews, Geriatrics, Heart Disease, Lancet, Lipids / 11.11.2020 Interview with: Børge G. Nordestgaard, MD, DMSc Professor, University of Copenhagen Chief Physician, Dept. Clinical Biochemistry Herlev and Gentofte Hospital Copenhagen University Hospital Herlev, Denmark What is the background for this study? Response: Previous studies have yielded mixed results regarding the association between elevated cholesterol levels and increased risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease in individuals above age 70 years; with some studies showing no association and others only minimal association. However, these previous studies were based on cohorts recruiting individuals decades ago where life-expectancy were shorter and where treatment of comorbidities were very different from today (more…)
Author Interviews, HIV, Lancet / 18.10.2020 Interview with: Steve Kanters, PhD MSc Rain City AnalyticsPresident and Lead Analyst RainCity Analytics School of Population and Public Health, University of British Columbia Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada What is the background for this study? Response: A watershed moment for the fight against HIV was the antiretroviral treatment (ART) scale-up that made HIV treatments available around the world. While HIV activism led to its initiation, two key ingredients to the ART scale-up were the advent of a once-daily single-pill HIV treatment and the creation of the World Health Organization (WHO) clinical guidelines for treatment and prevention of HIV. The HIV treatment in question combines three drugs in a single pill and centers around a drug called efavirenz. The WHO guidelines use a public health framework, which is to say that it uses a treatment algorithm that is both equitable and simple enough to allow some task-shifting to less specialized workers. As such, the guidelines suggest a single preferred treatment for people initiating HIV treatment. While resource rich countries can use a personalized medicine approach, many settings where HIV is endemic cannot. In 2015, our review found strong evidence that a newer HIV drug, called dolutegravir, was better than efavirenz in respect to efficacy, tolerability and safety; however, there was not enough evidence to support its use in key populations, such as people with HIV-tuberculosis co-infections and pregnant women. For this and other reasons, the WHO could not recommend its use as the preferred treatment at initiation. Since then, we have continued to dynamically assess the evidence to determine the best treatment to have as the preferred ART for first-time HIV treatment. This is the culmination of 6 years of work and its findings have helped the WHO change its recommended preferred first-line therapy from an efavirenz-based ART to a dolutegravir-based ART.  (more…)
Author Interviews, COVID -19 Coronavirus, Kidney Stones, Lancet, Stanford / 26.09.2020 Interview with: Shuchi Anand M.D. M.S. Director of the Center for Tubulointerstitial Kidney Disease Stanford University What is the background for this study? Response: Seroprevalence (or presence of antibodies in response to SARS CoV-2) is considered by many experts to be the most complete to track the spread of COVID19 in communities. However seroprevalence studies are hard to conduct, because they require going into communities and underdoing random blood draws. Many people—especially racial and ethnic minorities, or people with underlying health conditions, or people with language barriers—may be hard to reach for these types of surveys. Plus outreach into communities is very difficult in light of the COVID19 pandemic. To mitigate this problem we worked with a random sample of 28,503 patients on hemodialysis, the vast majority of whom are covered by Medicare. They get their blood drawn monthly, as part of their routine care. Furthermore even though we used a random sample, we know that patients on dialysis are more likely to be racial and ethnic minorities, and more likely to come from disadvantaged backgrounds.  (more…)
Author Interviews, COVID -19 Coronavirus, Lancet / 02.06.2020 Interview with: Holger Schünemann, MD, PhD, FRCPC Professor of Clinical Epidemiology and of Medicine Co-Director, WHO Collaborating Centre for Infectious Diseases, Research Methods and Recommendations Director, Cochrane Canada and McMaster GRADE Centre Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence, and Impact Canada What is the background for this study? Response: Many countries and regions have issued conflicting advice about physical distancing to reduce transmission of COVID-19, based on limited information. In addition, the questions of whether masks and eye coverings might reduce transmission of COVID-19 in the general population, and what the optimum use of masks in healthcare settings is, have been debated during the pandemic. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Lancet, Nature / 19.05.2020 Interview with: Matthew Galsky, MD Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai New York, NY What is the background for this study? Response: Standard first-line treatment for metastatic urothelial (bladder) cancer has been platinum-based chemotherapy for decades. In 2016, atezolizumab, an immunotherapy that inhibits PD-L1, received accelerated approval by the FDA for the treatment of metastatic urothelial cancer for patients progressing despite prior platinum-based chemotherapy and this was followed by approvals for 4 additional PD-1 or PD-L1 inhibitors in this setting over the next couple years. With this first new drug class approved, representing the first new drugs approved for metastatic urothelial cancer for decades, logical question arose (a) should we combine these drugs with platinum-based chemotherapy in the first-line metastatic treatment setting and (b) is there a role to replace first-line chemotherapy with atezolizumab monotherapy. The IMvigor 130 trial was designed to address these questions. The trial enrolled 1213 patients who were randomized to treatment with (a) atezolizumab plus platinum-based chemotherapy, (b) placebo + platinum-based chemotherapy, or (c) atezolizumab monotherapy. The trial employed a hierarchical analysis plan such that comparisons between arms for certain endpoints could only be formally tested if other the preceding comparisons demonstrated a significant improvement.  (more…)
Author Interviews, COVID -19 Coronavirus, Lancet, Rheumatology / 08.05.2020 Interview with: Dr. Giulio Cavalli MD PhD & Prof. Lorenzo Dagna MD FACP Ospedale San Raffaele and Vita-Salute San Raffaele University Milan, Italy What is the background for this study? Response: Upon encountering pathogens, our immune system produces pro-inflammatory mediators, called cytokines. Cytokines activate cells from the immune system. In most people, production of cytokines is an appropriate and protective response to infection. However, some individuals develop excessive and detrimental inflammatory responses, which are even more harmful than the pathogen itself to the host organism. We hypothesized that some patients with COVID-19 might develop excessive and detrimental inflammation, and that treatment with anti-inflammatory agents might be beneficial in this population. Anakinra is an inhibitor of the pro-inflammatory molecule interleukin 1 (IL-1). It was originally marketed for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, but is now mostly used to treat a variety of pediatric inflammatory diseases. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Clots - Coagulation, Diabetes, Heart Disease, Lancet / 08.09.2019 Interview with: Deepak L. Bhatt, MD, MPH, FACC, FAHA, FSCAI, FESC Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School Executive Director of Interventional Cardiovascular Programs, Brigham and Women’s Hospital Heart & Vascular Center What is the background for this study? Response: Dual antiplatelet therapy (DAPT) is known to improve outcomes in patients with acute coronary syndromes (ACS), prior myocardial infarction (MI), or recent coronary stenting. What was unknown is whether patients with diabetes and stable coronary artery disease – a group generally believed to be at high ischemic risk – would benefit from initiation of long-term DAPT with low-dose aspirin plus ticagrelor versus low-dose aspirin (plus placebo). This is what THEMIS was designed to test, with THEMIS-PCI designed prospectively to examine those patients specifically who had a history of previous percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI). (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Global Health, Infections, Lancet, Pediatrics / 21.08.2019 Interview with: Tori Cowger, MPH Ph.D Student | Population Health Sciences Department of Epidemiology Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health What is the background for this study? Response: Globally, approximately one million cases of tuberculosis disease (TB) and 233,000 TB-related deaths occurred among children aged younger than 15 years during 2018. TB in children and adolescents is clinically and epidemiologically heterogeneous, making diagnosis, care, and prevention challenging. Understanding this heterogeneity can inform TB care and prevention efforts, and efforts to eliminate disparities in TB incidence and mortality in these groups. In this study, we describe the epidemiology of TB among children and adolescents in the United States, and report TB incidence rates for US territories and freely associated states and by parental country of birth, which have not been previously described. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, Lancet, Mayo Clinic, Technology / 02.08.2019 Interview with: Paul Friedman, M.D. Professor of Medicine Norman Blane & Billie Jean Harty Chair Mayo Clinic Department of Cardiovascular Medicine Honoring Robert L. Frye, M.D. What is the background for this study? Response: Atrial fibrillation is an irregular heart rhythm that is often intermittent and asymptomatic.  It is estimated to affect 2.7–6.1 million people in the United States, and is associated with increased risk of stroke, heart failure and mortality. It is difficult to detect and often goes undiagnosed. After an unexplained stroke, it is important to accurately detect atrial fibrillation so that patients with it are given anticoagulation treatment to reduce the risk of recurring stroke, and other patients (who may be harmed by this treatment) are not. Currently, detection in this situation requires monitoring for weeks to years, sometimes with an implanted device, potentially leaving patients at risk of recurrent stroke as current methods do not always accurately detect atrial fibrillation, or take too long. We hypothesized that we could train a neural network to identify the subtle findings present in a standard 12-lead electrocardiogram (ECG) acquired during normal sinus rhythm that are due to structural changes associated with a history of (or impending) atrial fibrillation.   Such an AI enhanced ECG (AI ECG) would be inexpensive, widely available, noninvasive, performed in 10 seconds, and immensely useful following embolic stroke of unknown source to guide therapy. To test this hypothesis, we trained, validated, and tested a deep convolutional neural network using a large cohort of patients from the Mayo Clinic Digital Data Vault. (more…)
Author Interviews, Lancet, Neurology, Surgical Research / 05.07.2019 Interview with: Dr. Natasha van Zyl, MBChB (Cape Town), FRACS FRACS Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon Melbourne, Australia What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The estimated global incidence of spinal cord injury (SCI) from all causes is 40 to 80 new cases per million population per year which means that every year between 250 000 to 500 000 people worldwide suffer SCI (1)(chap 2 p 17). In Australia the age standardised, annual incident rate of persisting traumatic SCI for Australian residents aged 15 years and above is 11.8 cases per million.(2) Just over 50% of all spinal cord injuries  in Australia occur at the cervical level resulting in tetraplegia. (2) Cervical spinal cord injury is a devastating, life-changing injury impacting almost every aspect of a person’s work, family and social life. Although compared to many other health conditions it has a relatively low incidence, it is certainly a high cost health condition, with the lifetime cost per tetraplegia incident case estimated to be AU$9.5 million.(3) For those living with tetraplegia improvement in hand function is their highest ranked goal.(4) As such, reconstruction of upper extremity function in cervical spinal cord injury is a crucial component of the surgical rehabilitation of people with mid/low cervical spinal cord injury as it has the capacity to restore critical functions such as elbow extension, wrist extension, grasp, key pinch and release. Traditionally these functions have been reconstructed using tendon transfers, which move a functioning muscle to a new insertion site to recreate the function of a paralysed muscle.(5) (more…)
Asthma, Author Interviews, Environmental Risks, Lancet, Pediatrics / 12.04.2019 Interview with: Ploy Pattanun Achakulwisut, PhD Postdoctoral Scientist in Climate change, Air pollution, and Public Health Milken Institute School of Public Health (Anenberg Group The George Washington University, D.C What is the background for this study? Response: Dozens of epidemiological studies have found positive and generally statistically significant associations between long-term exposure to traffic-related air pollution (TRAP) and asthma development in children. The evidence is most robust for nitrogen dioxide (NO2), a major component of and commonly used surrogate for the complex TRAP mixture. Recent reviews conducted by the US Environmental Protection Agency and Health Canada concluded that there is “likely a causal relationship” between long-term NO2 exposure and pediatric asthma development. Using NO2 as a proxy for TRAP, our study provides the first global estimate of the number of new asthma cases among children that are attributable to traffic pollution, using fine spatial-scale global datasets that can resolve within-city and near-roadway NO2 exposures. (more…)
Allergies, Author Interviews, Immunotherapy, Lancet / 02.04.2019 Interview with: Arnon Elizur MD Director, The Institute of Allergy, Immunology & Pediatric Pulmonology Yitzhak Shamir Medical Center Zerifin, Israel What is the background for this study?   Response: Tree nuts are among the most common food allergies and are a major cause of fatal and near fatal reactions. Patients with tree nut allergy are often allergic to several nuts, further increasing the risk of accidental exposures, dietary limitations, and the emotional burden and anxiety in affected patients. In the past 10 years, oral immunotherapy (OIT) has shown promise as a treatment modality for milk, egg and peanut allergies. However, limited data exists on oral immunotherapy for tree nuts and the treatment is complicated by the high prevalence of co-allergy to several nuts. (more…)
Author Interviews, Biomarkers, Lancet, OBGYNE, Pediatrics / 01.04.2019 Interview with: Catalin S. Buhimschi MD, MMS, MBA Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine Director of Obstetrics Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Chicago, IL, 60612 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: In 2008, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Maternal–Fetal Medicine Units Network published the results of a randomized controlled trial of magnesium sulfate for the prevention of cerebral palsy (CP). The results of this trial suggested that fetal exposure to magnesium sulfate before anticipated early preterm delivery did not reduce the combined risk of moderate to severe cerebral palsy or death, although the rate of cerebral palsy was reduced among survivors. As such, the search for a biomarker or a therapeutic solution to prevent CP had to continue. We are grateful to the NICHD for giving us access to the umbilical cord blood samples retrieved at the time of birth for the infants enrolled, who were also followed for 2 years postnatally. We discovered that fetus’s ability to switch-on haptoglobin (Hp) expression in response to inflammation was associated with reduction of intra-ventricular hemorrhage (IVH) and/or death, and cerebral palsy and/or death. Fetuses unable to mount such a response in-utero had an increased risk of adverse outcomes. (more…)
Author Interviews, Lancet, OBGYNE, Pediatrics, Weight Research / 28.03.2019 Interview with: Liv Guro Engen Hanem, PhD Candidate Department of Clinical and Molecular Medicine Norwegian University of Science and Technology What is the background for this study?   Response: The antidiabetic drug metformin is increasingly used in pregnancy: to treat gestational diabetes and type 2 diabetes, and to prevent pregnancy complications related to polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and obesity. Metformin passes the placenta, and the fetus is thus exposed to the drug. Although no teratogenicity has been reported, metformin might have long-term effects on offspring health. This study is a follow-up of cardiometabolic risk factors of 141 5- to 10-year-old children born in the PregMet study. This study was a double-blind, randomized controlled trial (RCT) designed to test the hypothesis that metformin given throughout pregnancy reduces the prevalence of pregnancy complications that are associated with the common endocrine disorder PCOS. Pregnant women with PCOS were randomized to receive metformin or placebo throughout pregnancy.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Ebola, Global Health, Lancet / 28.03.2019 Interview with: Patrick Vinck, PhD Research Director, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative Assistant Professor, Global Health and Population T.H. Chan Harvard School of Public Health; Emergency Medicine Harvard Medical School Lead Investigator, Brigham & Women's Hospital What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: The second worst epidemic of Ebola on record is currently unfolding in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Whether or not safe practices are implemented to prevent the spread of the epidemic is influenced by the behavior of individuals at-risk of contracting the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) - Will they follow the recommendations of health professionals? Will they report suspected cases and deaths? Will they seek treatment from health professionals? Will they accept vaccines and adopt preventive behaviors? We find that belief in misinformation about Ebola is widespread and trust in authorities is generally low, likely as a result of decades of violence and poor governance and, more recently, the politicization of the Ebola response. Our analysis shows that trust and (mis-)information influence adherence to risk avoidance behavior and acceptance of vaccination. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Global Health, Lancet, Weight Research / 04.02.2019 Interview with: Hyuna Sung, PHD Principal Scientist, Surveillance Research American Cancer Society, Inc. 250 Williams St. Atlanta, GA 30303 What is the background for this study? Response: This project was motivated by our previous finding on the rise of colorectal cancer among young adults before age 55. Changes in cancer trends among young age group have significant implications because the newly introduced carcinogenic agents are likely to affect trends among young people before they affect those among older people. Owing to this relationship, cancer trends among young people can be often considered as a bellwether for future disease burden. Given the dramatic increase of the obesity prevalence during 3-4 decades in the US, we wanted to expand the colorectal cancer finding to the more comprehensive list of cancers and explain them in the context of obesity epidemic. (more…)
Author Interviews, Global Health, Health Care Systems, Lancet, Pediatrics / 29.01.2019 Interview with: "By @plumavioleta "Atardecer en #caracas... #avebolivar # ccs #venezuela." via @PhotoRepost_app" by Pedro Fanega is licensed under CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit: Jenny García, PhD candidate Institut National d’Études Démographiques INED Institut de Démographie de l'université Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne IDUP Paris, France Prof Gerardo Correa, MSc Instituto de Investigaciones Económicas y Sociales IIES Universidad Católica Andrés Bello UCAB Caracas, Venezuela Prof Brenda Rousset, PhD Departamento de Estadística, Escuela de Sociología (FaCES) Universidad Central de Venezuela UCV Caracas, Venezuela What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: Venezuela, as many countries in Latin America, showed substantial improvements in infant mortality rates during the last 60 years. However, the decreasing pattern might be reversing. Recent socioeconomic and political events have led to a collapse in living standards, along with a breakdown of the health system. At the same time, a strict secrecy policy has ruled public institutions, and since 2013 the Venezuelan government stopped publishing mortality statistics. This study attempts to fill this gap and estimate infant mortality using hospital and census data after 2013. The main finding is that infant mortality rates in Venezuela may have stopped decreasing and started increasing in 2009 – around the time funding for the Venezuelan health system started to be substantially reduced. By 2016, the infant mortality rate was 21.1 deaths per 1000 live births, which is 1.4 times the rate in 2008 (15.0 deaths per 1000 live births), and equivalent to the rate recorded in the late 1990s, meaning 18 years of progress may have been lost.  (more…)
Aging, Author Interviews, Geriatrics, Lancet, Nutrition, UC Davis, Weight Research / 15.01.2019 Interview with: Valter Longo, PhD Edna M. Jones Professor of Gerontology Professor of Biological Sciences Leonard Davis School of Gerontology Director of the USC Longevity Institute USC What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The use of a low calorie diet that mimics fasting for 4 days twice a month starting at middle age can extend lifespan and rejuvenate mice. In humans a similar diet once a month causes improvements in cholesterol, blood pressure , inflammation, fasting glucose etc consistent with rejuvenation (more…)
Author Interviews, Depression, Hip Fractures, Lancet / 06.12.2018 Interview with: Prof. Gillian Mead Chair of Stroke and Elderly Care Medicine Prof. Martin Dennis Chair of Stroke Medicine Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences The University of Edinburgh What is the background for this study? Response: We are both practicing stroke physicians as well as clinical trialists. Therefore our interest in this area was triggered by the exciting results of the FLAME trial in 2011. This appeared to indicate that fluoxetine might boost the recovery of stroke patients. Potentially this was very important given the increasing numbers of people having disability due to stroke, and the fact that fluoxetine is inexpensive and could be introduced very easily into clinical practice. We were further encouraged by the large numbers of small RCTs we identified when we carried out a Cochrane systematic review on the topic. These trials provided more evidence of potential benefit but there was evidence that trials of greater quality showed less benefit, and benefits were greater in patients who were depressed. We felt there was a need for more evidence derived from much larger numbers of patients. (more…)
Author Interviews, Lancet, Mental Health Research, PTSD / 16.11.2018 Interview with: Sanford Nidich, Ed.D. Director, Center for Social-Emotional Health Maharishi University of Management Research Institute Fairfield, Iowa What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a complex and difficult-to-treat disorder, affecting 10-20% of veterans across eras. Previous research raised the question of whether a non-trauma focused treatment can be as effective as trauma exposure therapy in reducing PTSD symptoms. The overall objective of the study was to compare Transcendental Meditation (TM), a non-trauma focused practice, to prolonged exposure (PE) in a non-inferiority clinical trial, and to compare both to a PTSD health education control group. Transcendental Meditation was found to be as effective as PE in reducing PTSD symptoms severity from baseline to three-month posttest. In standard superiority comparisons, significant reductions in PTSD symptoms were found for TM vs. HE, and PE vs. HE. Percentages of participants with clinically significant improvement, as measured by the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS) interview (≥10 point reduction), were TM=61%, PE=42%, and HE=32%  (more…)