December 31, 2009
A Meissner corpuscle, a tiny structure in the skin that allows us to feel light touch. David Herrmann monitors these structures to gauge the extent of a patient's neuropathy.
Neurologist David Herrmann, MBBCh, associate professor of Neurology and of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center, is taking part in a newly funded nationwide study focusing on a condition known as Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, a painful nerve condition that affects more than 100,000 Americans.
Herrmann, director of the Peripheral Neuropathy Clinic at Strong Memorial Hospital, is part of a team that has been awarded $6.25 million from the National Institutes of Health. The project is based at Wayne State University in Detroit and includes Herrmann and other collaborators from around the world.
The new funding, part of NIH's Rare Diseases Clinical Research Network, will support the Inherited Neuropathies Consortium for the next five years.
December 29, 2009
A Rochester neurologist who is widely credited with enhancing the education of neurologists nationwide has been honored by the discipline's largest professional organization.
Ralph Józefowicz, M.D., professor of Neurology and Medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center, has been awarded the 2010 A.B. Baker Award for Lifetime Achievement in Neurologic Education by the American Academy of Neurology. He will receive the award at AAN's annual meeting in Toronto in April.
Under Józefowicz's leadership, Rochester has become widely recognized as a wellspring of quality education for neurologists. Doctors around the nation who are training in neurology routinely rank Rochester's School of Medicine and Dentistry among their top choices. Within the school, the residents whom Józefowicz teaches typically garner a disproportionate share of teaching awards.
December 17, 2009
Researchers have developed a novel animal model showing that four commonly used chemotherapy drugs disrupt the birth of new brain cells, and that the condition could be partially reversed with the growth factor IGF-1.
Published early online in the journal Cancer Investigation, the University of Rochester Medical Center study is relevant to the legions of cancer survivors who experience a frustrating decline in cognitive function after chemotherapy treatment, known as chemo brain.
It is not yet clear how our results can be generally applied to humans but we have taken a very significant step toward reproducing a debilitating condition and finding ways to treat it,said Robert Gross, M.D., Ph.D., professor of Neurology and of Pharmacology and Physiology at URMC and principal investigator of the study.
November 5, 2009
A neurologist and epilepsy expert at the University of Rochester Medical Center has been named editor in chief of one of the world's leading journals devoted to issues involving the brain and central nervous system.
Robert A. Gross M.D., Ph.D., professor of Neurology and of Pharmacology and Physiology, was named today to lead the medical journal Neurology, the world's leading clinical neurology journal. As editor, Gross assumes a major leadership role in the world of neurology, helping set the direction and focus for the discipline worldwide. He will contribute to decisions about which issues are of most importance to physicians and patients, and which new findings and new research avenues are most worthy of attention.
Gross has been involved with the journal for 20 years, first as a reviewer, then associate editor for the past eight years. During the last two he has also been deputy editor and most recently served as interim editor in chief.
Gross succeeds another Rochester neurologist, Professor Robert Griggs, M.D., who is now president of the American Academy of Neurology, an association of more than 21,000 neurologists and neuroscience professionals that publishes Neurology. Griggs himself served as the editor of the journal from 1997 to 2007.
October 15, 2009
A study conducted by the University of Rochester Medical Center demonstrates that, for certain patient populations, an experimental device that lowers blood pressure may be a cost effective treatment. The implantable device, called Rheos, is in advanced stages of testing for individuals with drug resistant hypertension.
The study – which appears this month in the Journal of Clinical Hypertension – used data from two large population-based studies and compared the incidence of adverse health events such as stroke and heart attack for groups of individuals with and without the blood pressure lowering benefit of the device. Researchers then projected the health care costs associated with those events over a patient's lifetime. The results show that if Rheos continues to perform at a level consistent the initial findings in ongoing clinical trials, then the device is a cost effective way to control hypertension.
Our goal was to determine whether or not the benefit of Rheos would offset the higher upfront costs,said Kate C. Young, Ph.D., MPH, an instructor in the departments of Surgery and Neurology at URMC and lead author of the study.
What we found is that the device's cost effectiveness is dependent upon the degree to which it can reduce blood pressure and the starting point of the patient.
October 12, 2009
Parkinson's disease progresses more slowly in patients who have higher levels of urate, a chemical that at very high level is associated with gout, scientists have found. While it's unknown whether the high levels actually somehow protect patients or simply serve as a marker of protection, the finding supports the idea that patients and doctors may one day be able to better predict the course of the illness.
The study, led by scientists at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Harvard School of Public Health and including physicians at the University of Rochester Medical Center, was published online in the Archives of Neurology.
September 29, 2009
Emmy Awarded to ABC News
PrimetimeStory Featuring Jonathan Mink, M.D., Ph.D.
ABC News was recognized with an Emmy Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for a Jonathan Mink, M.D., Ph.D. Dr. Mink, a professor of Neurology, Neurobiology & Anatomy, Pediatrics, and Brain & Cognitive Sciences, focuses his reseach on the function of the basal ganglia in normal control of movement and the pathophysiology of basal ganglia disorders characterized by abnormal involuntary movements.
July 16, 2009
Deposits of toxic RNA (red) are seen here inside muscle cell nuclei (blue) from an individual with myotonic dystrophy.
Researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center have found a way to block the genetic flaw at the heart of a common form of muscular dystrophy. The results of the study, which were published today in the journal Science, could pave the way for new therapies that essentially reverse the symptoms of the disease.
The researchers used a synthetic molecule to break up deposits of toxic genetic material and re-establish the cellular activity that is disrupted by the disease. Because scientists believe that potentially all of the symptoms of myotonic dystrophy – the most common form of muscular dystrophy in adults – flow from this single genetic flaw, neutralizing it could potentially restore muscle function in people with the disease.
This study establishes a proof of concept that could be followed to develop a successful treatment for myotonic dystrophy,said URMC neurologist Charles Thornton, M.D., the senior author of the study and co-director of the URMC Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy Cooperative Research Center.
It also demonstrates the potential to reverse established symptoms of the disease after they have developed, as opposed to simply preventing them from getting worse.
July 5, 2009
The pictured microRNA molecule (green) may prevent the thickening of blood vessels walls that leads to clogged vessels and heart attacks.
A newly discovered mechanism controls whether muscle cells in blood vessels hasten the development of both atherosclerosis and Alzheimer's disease, according to an article published online today in the journal Nature.
The study was led by the Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease in San Francisco, with key contributions from the Aab Cardiovascular Research Institute at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry.
Thanks to stem cells, humans develop from a single cell embryo into a complex being with about 250 unique cell types. As the fetus develops, cells divide and multiply (proliferate) in many generations and specialize (differentiate) with each generation until millions of functional cells result (bone, nerve, blood, skin, muscle, etc.). To serve specific roles in the body, some stem cells also switch back and forth between primitive, rapidly proliferating precursors and their mature, functioning, non-proliferating counterparts, a quality called
June 17, 2009
A unique and innovative telemedicine project is providing distant nursing home patients with Parkinson's disease access to neurologists at the University of Rochester Medical Center. A pilot study of the project – the results of which were released this month at the International Congress of Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders in Paris – demonstrates that the system can improve the quality of life and motor function of patients.
This study shows that we can effectively deliver care for Parkinson's patients via telemedicine,said URMC neurologist Ray Dorsey, M.D.
This system enables us to reach and provide a high level of care to patients who might otherwise not have access to a specialist.
Dorsey and his colleague Kevin Biglan, M.D. oversee the project and divide patient responsibilities between them. The effort is a joint initiative between URMC and the Presbyterian Home for Central New York in New Harford, a 250 bed nursing home near Utica and about 150 miles from Rochester.
June 15, 2009
Scientists have identified a protein in the brain that plays a key role in the function of mitochondria – the part of the cell that supplies energy, supports cellular activity, and potentially wards off threats from disease. The discovery, which was reported today in the Journal of Cell Biology, may shed new light on how the brain recovers from stroke.
Understanding the molecular machinery that helps distribute mitochondria to different parts of the cell has only recently begun to be understood,said University of Rochester Medical Center neurologist David Rempe, M.D., Ph.D., the lead author of the study.
We know that in some disease states that mitochondria function is modified, so understanding how their activity is modulated is important to understanding how the brain responds to a pathological state.
April 30, 2009
Scientists have identified a protein that appears not only to be central to the process that causes Parkinson's disease but could also play a role in muting the high from methamphetamine and other addictive drugs.
The action of the protein, known as organic cation transporter 3 or oct3, fills a longstanding gap in scientists' understanding of the brain damage that causes symptoms like tremor, stiffness, slowness of movement and postural instability. While these are found mainly in patients with Parkinson's disease, there are more than three dozen other known causes of this array of symptoms, known as
In a paper published online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists at the University of Rochester Medical Center and Columbia University have shown that oct3, a protein that shepherds molecules into and out of cells, plays a critical role, bringing toxic chemicals to the doorstep of the brain cells that die in patients with Parkinson's disease. The team found that oct3 is involved in the brain's response to addictive drugs like methamphetamine as well.
April 30, 2009
University of Rochester Medical Center neurologist Robert C. Griggs, M.D. has been elected president of the American Academy of Neurology (AAN), the world's largest professional organization of neurologists.
Griggs, who was elected at the AAN's annual meeting this week in Seattle, will lead an organization that was established 1948 and consists of more than 21,000 neurologists and neuroscience professionals. Griggs has also served as chair of the AAN Education Committee and editor-in-chief of the Academy's prestigious scientific journal Neurology for 10 years.
Dr. Griggs is a visionary and has made extraordinary contributions to the field of neurology,said Catherine M. Rydell, executive director and CEO of the AAN.
His decades of leadership with the Academy and the respect of his peers position him well to lead the organization. The AAN relies on outstanding continued leadership as we look ahead toward furthering research and treatments for the neurology patient and professional.
April 29, 2009
Colleagues and friends in the Department of Neurology at the University of Rochester Medical Center are more than halfway toward their goal of raising $1.5 million to honor the physician who founded the department.
The professorship will honor neurologist Robert J. Joynt, M.D., Ph.D., one of the most influential neurologists of the last half century, who is now Distinguished University Professor at the University of Rochester Medical Center. Joynt founded the University's Department of Neurology in 1966 and guided the department for 18 years, laying the foundation for what is today one of the nation's leading neurology departments.
The professorship, to be known as the Robert J. Joynt Chair in Experimental Therapeutics in Neurology, is designed to further development of treatments to treat neurological diseases. The Joynt Chair will support research to treat disorders like Parkinson's, Huntington's, and Alzheimer's diseases. Friends, alumni, colleagues and grateful patients have contributed to the fund thus far.
April 28, 2009
Stroke victims tend to do worse if they also have diagnosed or undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea prior to having the stroke, according to a study presented April 28, 2009, at the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) annual meeting in Seattle.
Latha Stead, M.D., professor and chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center, and professor of Neurosurgery, reported the findings at AAN, along with several other stroke studies measuring the factors that lead to a poor prognosis.
We know that obstructive sleep apnea has been linked to a multitude of cardiovascular problems, yet it is concerning that the vast majority of cases remain undiagnosed,Stead said.
In the context of recovering from a stroke, sleep apnea can have a serious impact, and for that reason we encourage people to become more aware of obstructive sleep apnea and to get treatment.
April 16, 2009
A PET scan allows doctors to see a brain tumor in an elderly man.
People with brain tumors, and those who love and care for them, will observe Brain Tumor Awareness Week with three educational and celebratory events sponsored by the University of Rochester Medical Center and James P. Wilmot Cancer Center.
On Friday, May 1, there will be a seminar for patients, their families, and physicians that focuses on the latest research and treatment approaches in brain and spinal tumors. Then on Thursday, May 7, patients, families and clinicians will gather for the Community Sharing Hope Picnic at Kings Bend Park in Pittsford. And on Saturday, May 9, there will be an education and supportive program for caregivers.
Each year, approximately 500 people with brain tumors are treated at the Medical Center and Wilmot Cancer Center, making it the largest program in the region. The events are offered by the Program for Brain and Spinal Tumors at the Medical Center and the Wilmot Cancer Center.
April 15, 2009
A Rochester researcher whose work has opened up a whole new avenue in Alzheimer's disease research has received a major prize from the American Academy of Neurology.
Berislav Zlokovic, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Center for Neurodegenerative and Vascular Brain Disorders at the University of Rochester Medical Center, will receive the 2009 Potamkin Prize for Research in Pick's, Alzheimer's, and Related Diseases during the AAN annual meeting later this month in Seattle.
Zlokovic will split the $100,000 prize with two other researchers, Michael Wolfe, Ph.D., of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, and Robert Vassar, Ph.D., of Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University. The prize, which honors researchers for their work on Alzheimer's disease and related disorders, will go toward the investigators' Alzheimer's research.
March 25, 2009
The painkiller oxycodone is effective at treating the acute pain of shingles, an illness that often causes severe pain which can become long-lasting and sometimes even permanent.
The study, published in the April issue of the journal Pain, is one of the first to carefully evaluate different methods to relieve pain during a course of shingles, which many patients say causes the worst pain they have ever experienced. Effective pain treatment is crucial. Not only can the pain of shingles disrupt people's quality of life, but it is also possible that the less effectively the pain is treated, the more likely it will become a long-term problem that can change a person's life forever.
March 20, 2009
People who suffer an ischemic stroke and also have an abnormality in the heart's electrical cycle are at a higher risk of death within 90 days than people who do not have abnormal electrical activity at the time of emergency treatment, according to new research.
The study also provides a threshold at which the threat of death is highest: QTc intervals greater than 440 milliseconds in women and 438 milliseconds in men have the worst prognosis. The findings are published online March 20, 2009, in the Journal of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Diseases.
March 12, 2009
CT scan of the brain of a patient who has suffered a massive stroke. The darker, wedge-shaped area on the left is the portion of the brain that has been damaged.
Choosing to have aggressive brain surgery after suffering a severe stroke generally improves the patients' lives and allows them to live longer, according to research by neurologists at the University of Rochester Medical Center.
The findings should help patients and families put into perspective a decision that is nearly always painful and difficult to make – whether putting a patient through aggressive surgery after a catastrophic stroke is worth it.
For families facing this difficult choice, the more information we can provide, the better for their decision-making,said neurologist Adam G. Kelly, M.D., who has helped hundreds of families chart a course after severe stroke. Kelly presented the findings last month at the International Stroke Conference in San Diego.
March 10, 2009
A study published online today in the Archives of Neurology involving two common drugs used to treat early-stage Parkinson's disease shows that, while the drugs each have advantages and disadvantages, the overall impact tends to even out over a long period of treatment.
Clinicians and patients often struggle with what is the right initial approach to treating Parkinson's disease,said University of Rochester Medical Center neurologist Kevin Biglan, M.D., M.P.H., the lead author of the paper and a member of the Parkinson's Study Group, an international network of researchers that oversaw the clinical trial.
This study tells us that, over the long haul, patients on the different drugs end up at roughly the same place in terms of their level of disability and quality of life.
February 16, 2009
An arts and crafts show to be held in Batavia later this month will benefit patients and their families who have been affected by neuromuscular disorders like neuropathy, muscular dystrophy, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease).
The show will be from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 28, at the Batavia Holiday Inn at 8250 Park Road, immediately off Thruway Exit 48. Admission is free.
January 5, 2009
Hands that feel like they're burning; feet that make it feel like you're walking on pins and needles; numbness that spreads gradually up the limbs. These are among the most vexing of symptoms for patients and their doctors alike. Many patients spend years going from doctor to doctor seeking a diagnosis, and many doctors order test upon test, with no firm conclusion.
Now a Rochester neurologist has helped compile a national set of guidelines that aim to help doctors better diagnose the most common cause of such symptoms more quickly and efficiently and with less expense.
David Herrmann, MBBCh, director of the Peripheral Neuropathy Clinic at Strong Memorial Hospital, is an author of the guidelines for a painful nerve condition known as neuropathy, which affects millions of people with diabetes and many other patients as well. The new practice parameters were published last month in the journal Neurology.
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