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  • December 13, 2012

    Mini Strokes Can Cause Brain Damage, Lead To Dementia And Cognitive Impairment: Study

    Chances are if you're a senior managing your health, you've already had a conversation with your doctor about stroke risk. While many patients know the warning signs of stroke -- slurred speech, weakness on one side of the body, coordination problems, double vision, and headaches -- health care providers often fail to educate patients about their risk for silent or mini-strokes, which can cause progressive, permanent damage and lead to dementia.

    A new study published in the Journal of Neuroscience, examined the effects of these so-called mini-strokes. They frequently are not diagnosed or detected by a doctor because a patient does not immediately present with stroke signs. Mini-strokes may lead to permanent neurological damage and increase risk for full blown stroke.

    Maiken Nedergaard, MD, lead author of the study and professor of neurosurgery at the University of Rochester Medical Center, says at least half of individuals over the age of 60 will experience one mini-stroke in their lifetime. She calls the prevalence of mini-strokes "an epidemic."

  • December 12, 2012

    New Facility Will Bridge Research and Stem Cell Therapies

    The University of Rochester Medical Center has opened the doors on a new facility that will enable researchers to create, study, and ultimately use stem cells and their offspring in early-phase experimental human therapies. The Upstate Stem Cell cGMP Facility – which will be used by academic and private-sector scientists from across the state – was created with $3.5 million in support from the Empire State Stem Cell Board.

    “One of the critical barriers to moving cell-based therapies into clinical trials is the requirement that these cells be manufactured in a facility that meets strict federal requirements,” said Steve Dewhurst, Ph.D., chair of the URMC Department of Microbiology and Immunology and principal investigator for the state grant. “Without this resource, much of this science remains stuck in the lab.”

  • November 27, 2012

    Dinner with the Doc at the Syracuse Parent Family Network

    Join us as we celebrate November as National Epilepsy Awareness Month with a Dinner with the Doc. All who are affected by epilepsy are welcome. There are special activities provided for children.

    Dr. James Fessler of the Strong Epilepsy Center will be presenting Current Medication and Treatment Options on Thursday, November 27th from 6-8pm at Rosamond Gifford Community Room (lower level) at the United Way of Central New York located at 518 James Street, Syracuse, NY.

    For additional information, please call (877) 214-7715 or email Pamela Hunter at

  • November 1, 2012

    Scientists Create Endless Supply of Myelin-Forming Cells

    In a new study appearing this month in the Journal of Neuroscience, researchers have unlocked the complex cellular mechanics that instruct specific brain cells to continue to divide. This discovery overcomes a significant technical hurdle to potential human stem cell therapies; ensuring that an abundant supply of cells is available to study and ultimately treat people with diseases.

    One of the major factors that will determine the viability of stem cell therapies is access to a safe and reliable supply of cells, said University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) neurologist Steve Goldman, M.D., Ph.D., lead author of the study. This study demonstrates that – in the case of certain populations of brain cells – we now understand the cell biology and the mechanisms necessary to control cell division and generate an almost endless supply of cells.

  • October 25, 2012

    Highland Appoints Adam Kelly, M.D., Chief of Neurology

    Adam Kelly, M.D., has been named Highland Hospital's Chief of Neurology. Dr. Kelly has been involved in neurological care at the hospital since April 2010, serving as the Director of Highland's Stroke Center.

    Under Dr. Kelly's guidance, Highland has experienced sustained improvement in all New York state performance measures for stroke care. The hospital earned the American Heart Association's Gold-Plus Award twice in two years as well. Dr. Kelly has also led Highland's involvement in the Stroke Treatment Alliance of Rochester (STAR) collaborative to improve stroke care at hospitals throughout the community.

    "Neurology is a challenging field, but I embrace that challenge, and I love patient care," Dr. Kelly said. "I look forward to building on the programs and initiatives my predecessors have put into place."

  • October 25, 2012

    Researchers at the Doorstep of Stem Cell Therapies for MS, Other Myelin Disorders

    When the era of regenerative medicine dawned more than three decades ago, the potential to replenish populations of cells destroyed by disease was seen by many as the next medical revolution. However, what followed turned out not to be a sprint to the clinic, but rather a long tedious slog carried out in labs across the globe required to master the complexity of stem cells and then pair their capabilities and attributes with specific diseases.

    In a review article appearing today in the journal Science, University of Rochester Medical Center scientists Steve Goldman, M.D., Ph.D., Maiken Nedergaard, Ph.D., and Martha Windrem, Ph.D., contend that researchers are now on the threshold of human application of stem cell therapies for a class of neurological diseases known as myelin disorders – a long list of diseases that include conditions such as multiple sclerosis, white matter stroke, cerebral palsy, certain dementias, and rare but fatal childhood disorders called pediatric leukodystrophies.

    “Stem cell biology has progressed in many ways over the last decade, and many potential opportunities for clinical translation have arisen,” said Goldman. “In particular, for diseases of the central nervous system, which have proven difficult to treat because of the brain's great cellular complexity, we postulated that the simplest cell types might provide us the best opportunities for cell therapy.”

  • October 17, 2012

    Safety Harnesses Key to Prevent Falls while Deer Hunting

    Tree stands give hunters a bird's-eye view of wild game, but some hunters continue to suffer serious injuries after failing to wear a safety harness, according to doctors at University of Rochester Medical Center.

    "We are still seeing hunters who have taken unnecessary risks by not wearing the safety belt or harness and endure significant injuries from a fall," according to Jason Huang, M.D., chief of Neurosurgery at URMC's Highland Hospital. "Compared to a decade ago, we have made no progress in preventing these neurological injuries, despite safety advances – which is unacceptable."

    In a review of 54 hunting accidents or falls that resulted in neurologic injuries, doctors found that two hunters suffered paralysis. The most common reasons for the falls were poor tree-stand construction or maintenance, loss of balance, alcohol use, fatigue and dizziness. Most of the accidents were preventable if hunters, who were all men between the ages of 15 and 69, had worn a safety harness, Huang said.

  • October 15, 2012

    Free Seminar for EMS Crews to Focus on Stroke Nov. 7

    Highland Hospital invites local Emergency Medical Service (EMS) crews and Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) to its upcoming seminar, "Assessments and Acute Interventions for Stroke Patients," starting at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 7 in the Collins Auditorium at Highland. The event is free, but registration is required at (585) 341-6709.

    Adam G. Kelly, M.D., Interim Chief of Neurology, will present on the common signs and symptoms of stroke and how Emergency Department and EMS personnel can partner to provide prompt evaluation of and treatment to stroke patients. Dr. Kelly also will discuss interventions physicians consider once the patient arrives, including the administration of IV tPA, a clot-dissolving medicine that can restore blood flow to parts of the brain affected by stroke. This can prevent parts of the brain from becoming permanently damaged.

  • October 10, 2012

    Two Rochester Neurologists among Those Calling for Stronger Studies

    Two neurologists at the University of Rochester Medical Center are part of an international team of scientists who call for greater rigor in the way that early-stage biomedical research is done and reported. The group, led by scientists at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, part of the National Institutes of Health, makes its recommendations in a paper published in Nature.

    Among the authors are Robert A. Gross, M.D., Ph.D., and Richard T. Moxley, M.D. Gross took part through his position as editor in chief of Neurology, the world's leading clinical neurology journal, while Moxley was asked to join the group because of his extensive experience working with patients and doing research on common neurological disorders.

    The Nature publication is the result of a workshop organized by NINDS in June to discuss issues around preclinical research – research on which subsequent studies in people are based. Scientists, patients, and pharmaceutical companies use this early information to make crucial decisions about what compounds to pursue to try to develop better treatments for conditions like stroke, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's disease, and which compounds or efforts to wind down because they lack promise.

  • October 2, 2012

    Rare Disease Researchers Notch a Win for Patients with Inherited Muscle Disease

    An older medication originally approved to treat heart problems eases the symptoms of a very rare muscle disease that often leaves its sufferers stiff and in a good deal of pain, physicians and researchers report in the Oct. 3 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

    "This study can serve as a blueprint for future rare disease research," said neurologist Jeffrey Statland, M.D., senior instructor in Neurology and the first author of the paper. "This study shows that by bringing together experts and patients around the world and building a common infrastructure, we can tackle rare conditions that have eluded rigorous clinical study up to now."

    Rochester neurologist Robert "Berch" Griggs, M.D., another author of the paper and the leader of a Rochester center devoted to studying rare neurological disorders, notes that, ironically, many people suffer from rare diseases.

    "Each rare disease might affect only a few thousand people, but there are thousands of rare diseases. Current estimates are that perhaps 30 million people are affected by some form of rare disease," said Griggs.

  • August 29, 2012

    Golisano Chief Named President of Child Neurology Society

    Golisano Children's Hospital's pediatrician-in-chief has been elected president of the nation's largest organization of child neurologists. Nina F. Schor, M.D., Ph.D., William H. Eilinger chair of Pediatrics at the University of Rochester Medical Center, was voted into the presidency of this organization by fellow pediatric neurologists from around the world and will assume the position of President-elect following the annual meeting of the Child Neurology Society in November.

    The Child Neurology Society is a non-profit professional association of 1,300 pediatric neurologists in the United States, Canada, and worldwide who are devoted to fostering the discipline of child neurology and promoting the optimal care and welfare of children with neurological and neurodevelopmental disorders. These disorders include epilepsy, cerebral palsy, mental retardation, learning disabilities, complex metabolic diseases, nerve and muscle diseases and a host of other highly challenging conditions.

  • August 27, 2012

    Study Questions Validity of Quality Measure for Stroke Care

    One of the key indicators of the quality of care provided by hospitals to acute stroke victims is the percentage of patients who die within a 30-day period. A new study shows that the decisions made by patients and their families to stop care may account for as many as 40 percent of these stroke-related deaths, calling into question whether it is a valid measure of a hospital's skill in providing stroke care.

    The study, which appears today in the journal Neurology, focuses on a quality measure proposed by the federal Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services called the 30-day risk adjusted stroke mortality. While the measure is being developed as a part of federal health care reform, it is already commonly employed as an indicator of a hospital's quality of care on websites that evaluate hospital performance.

    "It is clear that a significant component of the overall mortality score as currently constructed does not tell the whole story and is predicated on the preference of patients and their families," said University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) neurologist Adam Kelly, M.D., lead author of the study.

  • August 1, 2012

    A Promising Step Forward Toward Muscular Dystrophy Treatment

    Deposits of toxic RNA (red) are seen here inside muscle cell nuclei (blue) from an individual with myotonic dystrophy.

    Scientists have reversed symptoms of myotonic muscular dystrophy in mice by eliminating a buildup of toxic RNA in muscle cells. The work, carried out by scientists at the University of Rochester Medical Center, Isis Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Genzyme, is published in the August 2 issue of Nature.

    After experimental antisense compounds were administered to mice twice a week for four weeks, symptoms of the disease were reduced for up to one year – a significant portion of a mouse's lifespan.

    The investigators say that while the work is an encouraging step forward against myotonic dystrophy, one of the most common forms of muscular dystrophy, it's too soon to know whether the approach will work in patients. But they are cautiously optimistic, noting that the compound is extremely effective at reversing the disease – whose genetic underpinnings make it particularly vulnerable to an antisense approach – in a mouse model.

    “These results give us strong encouragement about the possibility of developing a treatment that could fundamentally alter the disease. It's an important step on a long path,” said senior author Charles Thornton, M.D., a neurologist at the University of Rochester Medical Center who has been pursuing new treatments for the disease for more than two decades.

  • July 25, 2012

    In Muscular Dystrophy, What Matters to Patients and Doctors Can Differ

    Complex, multi-system diseases like myotonic dystrophy – the most common adult form of muscular dystrophy – require physicians and patients to identify which symptoms impact quality of life and, consequently, what treatments should take priority. However, a new study out this month in the journal Neurology reveals that there is often a disconnect between the two groups over which symptoms are more important, a phenomenon that not only impacts care but also the direction of research into new therapies.

  • July 25, 2012

    In Muscular Dystrophy, What Matters to Patients and Doctors Can Differ

    Complex, multi-system diseases like myotonic dystrophy – the most common adult form of muscular dystrophy – require physicians and patients to identify which symptoms impact quality of life and, consequently, what treatments should take priority. However, a new study out this month in the journal Neurology reveals that there is often a disconnect between the two groups over which symptoms are more important, a phenomenon that not only impacts care but also the direction of research into new therapies.

    "In order to design better therapies we must first develop a clear understanding of what patients think are the key mental and physical burdens of this disease," said University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) neurologist Chad Heatwole, M.D., lead author of the study. "It is clear from this study that, in the case of myotonic dystrophy, researchers have not always been concentrating on the symptoms that are most important to the patient."

  • July 19, 2012

    URMC Neurology Chair Returns to Research Lab; Acting Chair Appointed

    After four years as chair of the Department of Neurology, Steven Goldman, M.D., Ph.D., is stepping down to resume research duties full time as Co-Director of the Center for Translational Neuromedicine.

    Dr. Goldman will remain an active member of the Neurology faculty, increasing his research focus and commitment, while Robert G. Holloway Jr., M.D., M.P.H., Professor of Neurology, will serve as Acting Chair of the Department as a national search for permanent leadership is launched.

  • July 18, 2012

    New Huntington’s Treatment Shows Promise

    A new study shows that the compound Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ) reduces oxidative damage, a key finding that hints at its potential to slow the progression of Huntington disease. The discovery, which appears in the inaugural issue of the Journal of Huntington's Disease, also points to a new biomarker that could be used to screen experimental treatments for this and other neurological disorders.

    "This study supports the hypothesis that CoQ exerts antioxidant effects in patients with Huntington's disease and therefore is a treatment that warrants further study," says University of Rochester Medical Center neurologist Kevin M. Biglan, M.D., M.P.H., lead author of the study. "As importantly, it has provided us with a new method to evaluate the efficacy of potential new treatments."

    Huntington's disease is a genetic, progressive neurodegenerative disorder that impacts movement, behavior, cognition, and generally results in death within 20 years of the disease's onset. While the precise causes and mechanism of the disease are not completely understood, scientists believe that one of the important triggers of the disease is a genetic "stutter" which produces abnormal protein deposits in brain cells. It is believed that these deposits – through a chain of molecular events – inhibit the cell's ability to meet its energy demands resulting in oxidative stress and, ultimately, cellular death.

  • June 6, 2012

    Study Links PTSD to Hidden Head Injuries Suffered in Combat

    Even when brain injury is so subtle that it can only be detected by an ultra-sensitive imaging test, the injury might predispose soldiers in combat to post-traumatic stress disorder, according to a University of Rochester Medical Center study.

    The research is important for physicians who are caring for troops in the years following deployment, as they try to untangle the symptom overlap between PTSD and mild traumatic brain injury (mild TBI) and provide the appropriate treatment. Until now, the nature of the interaction between TBI and PTSD was unclear. URMC researchers believe they are the first to find an association that can be demonstrated with advanced imaging techniques.

    The study is published online by the Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation.

    “Most people believe that, to a large extent, chronic stress from intense combat experiences triggers PTSD. Our study adds more information by suggesting that a physical force such as exposure to a bomb blast also may play a role in the genesis the syndrome,” said lead author Jeffrey J. Bazarian, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor of Emergency Medicine at URMC, and a member of the 2007 Institute of Medicine committee that investigated brain injuries among war veterans.

  • June 5, 2012

    U.S. News Ranks Golisano Children's Hospital Among Best in Four Programs

    Golisano Children's Hospital at the University of Rochester Medical Center is steadily moving up the list of U.S. News & World Report's Best Children's Hospital rankings. The hospital has been listed among the nation's best hospitals for four pediatric specialties – gastroenterology, neonatology, orthopaedics and neurology/neurosurgery. The annual rankings, which are available online today and will be published in the U.S. News Best Hospitals 2013 guidebook in August, are based on data submitted by nearly 180 pediatric institutions nationwide.

    Each of the past four years, Golisano Children's Hospital has added a specialty to the U.S. News rankings, starting in 2009 with orthopaedics, which ranked #38 this year. Neonatology ranked #27; Gastroenterology, which is new to the list this year, ranked #41, and Neurology and Neurosurgery ranked #44.

  • May 22, 2012

    Grant to Improve Training for Professionals Caring for Those with Alzheimer’s Disease

    The Finger Lakes Geriatric Education Center (FLGEC) at the University of Rochester Medical Center was awarded grant funds to enhance training and education for professionals who assess and care for people with Alzheimer's Disease.

    FLGEC earned a Supplemental Funding Grant for Education from the Health Resources and Services Administration. Funding consists of approximately $135,000 over two years, made possible through the federal National Alzheimer's Project Act. The award will help FLGEC develop additional training that incorporates new materials and information developed under the National Plan to Address Alzheimer's Disease, including guidelines for care and new screening and assessment tools.

    FLGEC is led by Jurgis Karuza, Ph.D., is program director, and Thomas Caprio, M.D., M.P.H., Project Co-Director.

  • May 2, 2012

    Stroke Victims Not Receiving Timely Diagnosis, Care

    The mantra in stroke care is time is brain. With each passing minute more brain cells are irretrievably lost and, because of this, timely diagnosis and treatment is essential to increase the chances for recovery. While significant strides have been made to improve the response time of caregivers, a new study shows that a critical step in the process – imaging of the brain to determine the nature of the stroke – is still occurring too slowly at too many hospitals.

    A study out this month in the journal Stroke shows that only 41.7 percent of stroke patients underwent brain imaging within the recommended 25 minutes of their arrival at a hospital. It also found that certain individuals, including people with diabetes, those over 75 years of age, women, those that did not arrive by ambulance, non-whites, and those with certain cardiac conditions were less likely to receive a timely brain scan. These delays mean that treatment often comes either too late or not at all.

    "We were struck by the fact that less than half of patients with acute stroke symptoms did not receive a brain scan within recommended guidelines, said University of Rochester Medical Center neurologist Adam Kelly, M.D., lead author of the study. This was the performance of hospitals who are actively participating in a national quality improvement program, so rates in non-participating hospitals may be even worse."

  • April 23, 2012

    University Life Trustee, Neurosciences Benefactor Ernest J. Del Monte Dies

    Ernest J. Del Monte, 87, real estate and hotel developer, philanthropist and University of Rochester Life Trustee, died Saturday, April 21, 2012. His generosity to the University of Rochester leaves a legacy of innovation and collaboration to help eradicate brain diseases.

    Mr. Del Monte, of Pittsford, was a visionary in business and industry. With a $10 million gift to the University in 2009, he and his wife, Thelma, helped establish the E.J. Del Monte Neuromedicine Institute to expand the study and treatment of Alzheimer's disease, stroke, spinal cord and brain injuries, and brain cancers at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

    The gift was the catalyst for the establishment of the Del Monte Neuromedicine Institute, which serves as an umbrella for several vibrant research centers and growing clinical care programs throughout the Medical Center and River Campus. It has also reinvigorated the scientists and physicians who treat patients with neurological conditions.

    “Ernie was a force of nature whotouched so many of our lives at the University. I am proud to have spent time with him and his late wife, Thelma, and continue to be deeply moved by his commitment to the Del Monte Neuromedicine Institute. When I last spoke with him, he was still planning deals, always imaginative, always determined, right up to the end,” said Joel Seligman, president of the University of Rochester.

  • April 16, 2012

    A Pillar of Modern Neurology, Robert J. Joynt, Dies

    Robert J. Joynt, M.D., Ph.D.

    Robert J. Joynt, M.D., Ph.D., one of the most influential neurologists of the last half century and the founder of the Department of Neurology at the University of Rochester Medical Center, died April 13 at Strong Memorial Hospital. He was 86.

    Dr. Joynt was a towering figure in international circles of neurology and headed both leading societies in neurology, the American Academy of Neurology and the American Neurological Association. He also served as president of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. Beyond that, he was a beloved member of the Medical Center's community, which he had served through several top-level posts, including dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry.

  • April 16, 2012

    Free Concussion Education Event Offered by URMC

    Experts from the URMC Sports Concussion Center, a collaboration between URMC Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation and the Department of Neurosurgery, will offer a free community event in May to share information about concussion and traumatic brain injury.

    The event will be held from 6 to 8 p.m., Wednesday, May 9, at the University of Rochester Medical Center's Class of '62 Auditorium, Kornberg Medical Research Building, 415 Elmwood Ave.

  • April 11, 2012

    Meds Ease Depression in Parkinson’s Patients Without Worsening Other Symptoms

    Today's anti-depressant medications can ease depression in Parkinson's patients without worsening other symptoms of the disease, according to a study published online in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

    “Depression is the number-one factor negatively affecting the quality of life for people with Parkinson's disease,” said Irene Hegeman Richard, M.D., who led the study. “It causes a great deal of suffering among patients. The great news here is that it's treatable. And when the depression is treated adequately, many of the other symptoms become much more manageable for patients,” added Richard, a neurologist at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

    The findings are good news for patients with Parkinson's disease, a chronic neurologic disorder best known for causing slow movement, stiffness, balance problems and other motor difficulties. However, about half of Parkinson's patients also struggle with depression.

  • March 14, 2012

    ‘Brain Fog’ of Menopause Confirmed

    The difficulties that many women describe as memory problems when menopause approaches are real, according to a study published today in the journal Menopause, the journal of the North American Menopause Society.

    The findings won't come as a surprise to the millions of women who have had bouts of forgetfulness or who describe struggles with brain fog in their late 40s and 50s. But the results of the study, by scientists at the University of Rochester Medical Center and the University of Illinois at Chicago who gave women a rigorous battery of cognitive tests, validate their experiences and provide some clues to what is happening in the brain as women hit menopause.

    "The most important thing to realize is that there really are some cognitive changes that occur during this phase in a woman's life," said Miriam Weber, Ph.D., the neuropsychologist at the University of Rochester Medical Center who led the study. "If a woman approaching menopause feels she is having memory problems, no one should brush it off or attribute it to a jam-packed schedule. She can find comfort in knowing that there are new research findings that support her experience. She can view her experience as normal."

  • March 6, 2012

    Early Surgery Controls Seizures, Improves Quality of Life

    A new study out today in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds that the vast majority of patients with previously uncontrolled temporal lobe epilepsy who underwent surgical intervention early in the course of their disease where not only seizure free, but experience a significantly higher quality of life compared to those who only manage their condition medically. The results demonstrate that, instead of being considered a last resort, early surgery could help epilepsy patients avoid decades of disability.

    "The results of this study are very clear: early surgical intervention works, it stops seizures, and it improves quality of life," said University of Rochester Medical Center neurologist Karl Kieburtz, M.D., the senior author of the study. "Individuals with temporal lobe epilepsy that is not controlled with medicine should be evaluated for surgical intervention at a comprehensive epilepsy center not after decades of poor response to medicine but within two years. And if they are a surgical candidate they should give strong consideration to that approach."

  • February 27, 2012

    Each Flick of a Digit Is a Job for All 5

    You may think you're pretty familiar with your hands. You may think you know them like the back of your hand. But as the following exercises derived from the latest hand research will reveal, your pair of bioengineering sensations still hold quite a few surprises up their sleeve.

    Our fingers can seem like restless Ariels, so fast and dexterous you'd think they had plans and options of their own. Yet as scientists who study the performance, circuitry and evolution of the human hand have lately determined, the appearance of digital independence is deeply deceptive.

    Even when you think you're moving just one finger, said Marc H. Schieber, a professor of neurology and neurobiology at the University of Rochester Medical Center, you're really controlling your entire hand. The pianist playing Ravel or the typist clacking on Blogspot? People tend to think, they're hitting one key at a time, so they must be moving one finger at a time to hit that key, Dr. Schieber said. But really, all the fingers are in motion all the time.

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