4 posts tagged “university”

ORE Researcher Series: McMaster University

Posted July 20th, 2015 by

Last month, you met ORE researcher Tamara Kear, PhD., R.N., CNS, CNN, and you listened to her talk about her research on hypertension, one of the factors that can lead to a person developing kidney disease. Today, we’re introducing McMaster University Professor Gordon Guyatt and students Melody Ren and Reza Mirzaie. The question they are asking is “how are patients currently receiving bad news from a medical professional, and are the guidelines doctors have on delivering bad news actually correct?” Below, listen to the three researchers talk about their work and how the ORE platform and PatientsLikeMe made their research possible.

What exactly is the ORE? PatientsLikeMe’s ORE platform gives patients the chance to not only check an answer box, but also share their feedback on each question in a researcher’s health measure. They can tell our research partners what makes sense, what doesn’t, and how relevant the overall tool is to their condition. It’s all about collaborating with patients as partners to create the most effective tools for measuring disease.

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“We have become 24/7 creatures in a 24/7 society”: an interview on sleep with Fred W. Turek, Ph.D.

Posted May 20th, 2015 by

Dr. Fred Turek is Director of the Center for Sleep and Circadian Biology at Northwestern University. He holds a BS in biology from Michigan State University and a PhD in biology from Stanford University.

Dr.Turek’s current research focuses on the genetics of the circadian clock system, the effects of advanced age on behavioral and endocrine rhythms, the links between sleep, circadian rhythms and energy metabolism, and the role of melatonin in modulating sleep and circadian rhythms.

Said another way, he’s the expert on all things sleep-related.

Dr. Turek, during your lecture in Chicago about circadian rhythms and sleep, you talked about how modern life ‘battles’ ancient drives and Mother Nature. Could you explain more about that?
Yes, the ancient drives refer to the fact that we evolved on this planet for millions of years with one dominant feature of the environment: the relentless diurnal or 24-hour change in the light/ dark (LD) cycle, which is due to the rotation of the Earth on its axis.

This results in most of the Earth facing the sun and its light and warmth at one time of day, and later, that same part of the Earth is in dark and colder. Like all other living organisms, we evolved internal biological clocks, which have a period of “about” 24 hours (the internal clock has a circadian period that is about 23-25 hours in length). This internal clock is synchronized to the 24-hour external day night cycle, and until Edison came along about 125 years ago, the human internal clock was in lock step with the LD cycle. We were awake and active during the light/day and asleep and generally inactive during the dark/night.

However, over the last century, we have become 24/7 creatures in a 24/7 society, and we are often not paying attention to signals from our internal clock. Indeed, we are doing battle, if you will, with our internal 24-hour biological nature.

You’ve mentioned it was discovered that the daily rhythm of melatonin could influence other rhythms in animals. How has the research evolved since then?
I would say that research into the role of melatonin in regulating circadian rhythms, particularly in mammals, was slow, but has picked up speed over the last decade. While we still do not understand the overall function of the robust 24-hour melatonin rhythm (melatonin levels are low during the day and high during the night in all species, including humans), it appears to act as a mild hypnotic, at least in humans. Perhaps more importantly, it appears to act as a circadian organizer that links other 24-hour physiological and behavioral rhythms to one another.

In that Chicago lecture, you said, “When the clock stops ticking, metabolic syndrome explodes.” Can you share more about that?
That clever title came from Dr. Bart Staels in a short opinion piece he wrote for Nature soon after we published a paper in Science (2005). The paper demonstrated that animals carrying two copies of a mutated core molecular circadian gene (called Clock) can lead to the loss of all circadian rhythms, as well as increased weight and signs of the human metabolic syndrome: increased visceral obesity, insulin resistance and hypertension.

You make the point that, while the master circadian clock is located in the hypothalamus of the brain, 10-30% of the genes throughout the entire body are under circadian control. What does that mean in terms of how the “clock” affects health and disease?
Let me preface the answer to that question with a little background: Up until 10-15 years ago, researchers in the field thought a master circadian clock regulating all of our 24-hour rhythms was located in the hypothalamus, and that few other areas of the brain or peripheral tissues were capable of generating their own circadian rhythms.

With the discovery of many of the genes and their protein products that make up the molecular 24-hour clock came the surprising discovery that the molecular clock machinery was actually in all the cells, tissues and organs of the body. Equally surprising were recent discoveries indicating that this cellular circadian clock is regulating the timing over 24 hours of somewhere between 10-30% (and perhaps up to 50%) of all the expressed genes in a particular tissue or organ.

We call these genes “clock controlled genes.” What happens if that clock machinery breaks down, say in a disease state or with advanced age, in a particular tissue or organ? That is a question that we and many other laboratories are trying to answer right now. Humans, as in all animals, are not only spatially organized, we are also “temporally organized,” and a breakdown of that temporal organization, maybe only in a particular organ (lung, liver or pancreas, for example), could lead to disease in that particular tissue, even if all the other parts of the body have clocks running normally.

At one point in your lecture you went as far as to say, “I think insomnia is causing depression.” Could you elaborate on that?
I used such a direct statement since for years the importance of insomnia for causing or contributing to depression has been on the back burner of thinking in the field – with the dominant thinking being that depression causes insomnia. When I first wrote that statement, I was trying to be provocative, but in reality I believe it is likely that insomnia may be a contributing cause to at least some forms of depression, as well as perhaps increasing the severity of the symptoms of depression.

Many PatientsLikeMe members are living with conditions that may be impacted by sleep problems. Or on the flip side, their conditions might be impacting their sleep, right?
Absolutely: It is a two-way street. It is now clear that many, many mental and physical disorders are associated with poor sleep. Of course, there is the cause and effect or rather the chicken or the egg question: Which came first? In one sense, I am less interested in the answer to that question than I am in the question: If I treat poor sleep or insomnia in someone with a given condition, will I have a positive benefit for the treatment, prevention or even cure for the condition?

So, then, do you see a connection between the sleep we get and the conditions we live with?
Yes, PatientsLikeMe members should treat obtaining adequate sleep as a top priority in their lives – do not “cheat” on sleep. And if you are having trouble sleeping, perhaps due to your condition, tell your doctor about your sleep problem, and seek ways to remove that problem from your life.

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PatientsLikeMe and USF Health collaborate to empower cancer patients

Posted December 4th, 2014 by

Partnership Marks the First Between the Patient Network and an Academic Health Center

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—December 4, 2014—PatientsLikeMe and the USF Health Internal Medicine Department have partnered to improve health outcomes for multiple myeloma patients. People living with multiple myeloma and other cancers will be directed to PatientsLikeMe to access patient-reported symptom and treatment information and connect with others to guide their treatment discussions and decisions.

The partnership is PatientsLikeMe’s first with an academic health center. The companies will exchange and publish information on multiple myeloma on their websites and work collaboratively with PatientsLikeMe members to continuously enhance the health and education of people living with the condition. The organizations also expect to collaborate on specific research initiatives in the future.

USF Health, an integral part of the University of South Florida (USF), is a partnership between USF’s health-related colleges and schools and the USF Physician’s Group. “It is an honor as a cancer physician and scientist to become part of a larger community of patients with multiple myeloma,” said Damian Laber MD, Hematology/Oncology division chief at USF and senior member at Moffitt Cancer Center. “This partnership enables patients and their families worldwide to receive the most relevant and current medical information, and will enable us to learn as much as possible from patients so that we not only support them, but improve outcomes for others.”

The agreement is the newest in a series of oncology-focused partnerships for PatientsLikeMe designed to ensure that the patient voice guides cancer research, said Executive Vice President of Marketing and Patient Advocacy Michael Evers. “Every day, thousands of people learn they have cancer. More and more of them are joining our site to not only get information and support, but to contribute their health data for research. We’re excited to help USF Health members improve their day-to-day lives, and to partner with such a distinguished research and educational institution so that we can have an impact on people’s lives longer term.”

USF Health members interested in joining PatientsLikeMe can sign up at www.patientslikeme.com/join/usf.

About PatientsLikeMe
PatientsLikeMe® (www.patientslikeme.com) is a patient network that improves lives and a real-time research platform that advances medicine. Through the network, patients connect with others who have the same disease or condition and track and share their own experiences. In the process, they generate data about the real-world nature of disease that help researchers, pharmaceutical companies, regulators, providers, and nonprofits develop more effective products, services and care. With more than 300,000 members, PatientsLikeMe is a trusted source for real-world disease information and a clinically robust resource that has published more than 50 peer-reviewed research studies. Visit us at www.patientslikeme.com or follow us via our blogTwitter or Facebook.

About USF Health
USF Health’s mission is to envision and implement the future of health. It is the partnership of the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine, the College of Nursing, the College of Public Health, the College of Pharmacy, the School of Biomedical Sciences and the School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences; and the USF Physician’s Group. The University of South Florida is a Top 50 research university in total research expenditures among both public and private institutions nationwide, according to the National Science Foundation. For more information, visit www.health.usf.edu.

Contacts
Kristy Andre, USF Health Department of Internal Medicine
kandre@health.usf.edu
813-300-9006

Margot Carlson Delogne, PatientsLikeMe
mcdelogne@patientslikeme.com
781-492-1039


Dispelling the myths of schizophrenia

Posted May 20th, 2014 by


May is all about mental health awareness, and we’re continuing the trend by recognizing Schizophrenia Awareness Week (May 19 – 26). Schizophrenia is a chronic neurological condition that affects people’s sensory perceptions and sense of being, and it’s time to dispel the myths about the condition.

Here are some myths and facts about schizophrenia from Northeast Ohio Medical University:1

Myth: Everyone who has schizophrenia knows that they have an illness.
Fact:  Many people who have schizophrenia wait months, sometimes years, and suffer needlessly before a proper diagnosis is made and treatment begins.

Myth: People with schizophrenia are dangerous.
Fact: Studies indicate that people receiving treatment for schizophrenia are no more dangerous than the rest of the population.

Myth: People with schizophrenia have split or multiple personalities.
Fact: Schizophrenia is not a split personality disorder in any way.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) states that schizophrenia can cause extreme paranoia, along with mental changes like hearing voices others cannot, feeling very agitated or talking without making sense.2 Schizophrenia affects men and women equally, and although it’s normally diagnosed in adults over the age of 45, it is also seen in children. There is no cure for the condition, but antipsychotic drugs are used to manage the symptoms of schizophrenia, and many PatientsLikeMe community members are donating data on their treatments. Check out the NIMH’s fact page on schizophrenia to learn more.

Over the next week, many organizations across the U.S. will be raising awareness for schizophrenia through different events. Here are a couple examples:

If you’ve been diagnosed, you’re not alone – hundreds of PatientsLikeMe members are living with schizophrenia, and they’re sharing their stories in the forum. Take a moment to connect with others who are experiencing schizophrenia in the same ways as you.

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1 http://www.neomed.edu/academics/bestcenter/helpendstigma/myths-and-facts-about-schizophrenia

2 http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/schizophrenia/index.shtml