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New Drug for Periodic Paralysis has Roots in URMC Research

Monday, December 7, 2015

photo of Robert Griggs

Robert “Berch” Griggs, M.D.

More than 15 years of research led by neurologists at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) has culminated in the first approved treatment for individuals with a rare neuromuscular disorder called periodic paralysis. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved dichlorphenamide, which is being marketed under the brand name Keveyis by Taro Pharmaceuticals, for individuals with the disease.

Periodic paralysis is extremely rare – an estimated 5,000 people in the U.S. suffer from the disease – and the condition is generally neither fatal nor life shortening, but can have a significant impact on quality of life depending upon the frequency and severity of the paralytic “attacks” that are the hallmark of the disease. Some patients can go months without an attack and may only experience limited movement in an extremity, while others experience attacks daily and can be immobilized for several hours at a time. Over time, many patients become weaker.

“This is one of the most dramatic diseases in medicine,” said Robert “Berch” Griggs, M.D., a professor in the University of Rochester Medical Center Department of Neurology and principal investigator of the clinical studies that led to the drug’s approval. “A patient can wake up in the morning and be completely paralyzed from the neck down. Over the course of hours they regain mobility so by the time they get the doctor’s office they are often completely normal.”

Griggs is an internationally recognized expert in periodic paralysis and is sought out by patients from around the world. Almost 45 years ago, Griggs first demonstrated that the drug acetazolamide was partially effective in treating periodic paralysis and, more recently, was part of a team of researchers that discovered the genetic cause of periodic paralysis. In 2003, the National Institutes of Health tapped Griggs to head a national network of physicians and scientists that are focusing on rare neurological disorders such as periodic paralysis.

URMC’s role in bringing dichlorphenamide to market began in 2000, when Griggs and his colleague Rabi Tawil, M.D. showed in a small study that dichlorphenamide was highly effective in preventing the attacks and keeping patients’ muscles strong.

Read More: New Drug for Periodic Paralysis has Roots in URMC Research

Study Identifies Patients' Priorities in Treating Rare Muscular Dystrophy

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

photo of Chad Heatwole

Chad Heatwole, M.D.

A new study of individuals with myotonic dystrophy type 2 (DM2) – a rare form of muscular dystrophy –has helped pinpoint the symptoms of the disease that are most important to patients. These findings, published today in the journal Neurology, could help create a roadmap for physicians to prioritize treatment of this complex, multi-system disease.

“This study represents the first large-scale attempt to obtain direct patient input to identify the most prevalent and life-altering symptoms of myotonic dystrophy type 2,” said University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) neurologist Chad Heatwole, M.D., the lead author of the study.

Read More: Study Identifies Patients' Priorities in Treating Rare Muscular Dystrophy

Birbeck Holds Family Feedback Meeting in Malawi

Sunday, November 1, 2015

photo of family members who participated in a study

Dr. Birbeck recently held a Family Feedback Meeting for the Family’s of Children who participated in our clinical trial of LVT for seizure control in acute cerebral malaria. The families of over 40 children came together to learn about the results of the study and our plans for future work.

Experimental Treatment Regimen Effective Against HIV

Monday, October 19, 2015

Protease inhibitors are a class of antiviral drugs that are commonly used to treat HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Scientists at the University of Nebraska Medical Center designed a new delivery system for these drugs that, when coupled with a drug developed at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, rid immune cells of HIV and kept the virus in check for long periods. The results appear in the journal Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology and Medicine.

While current HIV treatments involve pills that are taken daily, the new regimens' long-lasting effects suggest that HIV treatment could be administered perhaps once or twice per year.

Nebraska researcher Howard E. Gendelman designed the investigational drug delivery system–a so–called nanoformulated protease inhibitor. The nanoformulation process takes a drug and makes it into a crystal, like an ice cube does to water. Next, the crystal drug is placed into a fat and protein coat, similar to what is done in making a coated ice–cream bar. The coating protects the drug from being degraded by the liver and removed by the kidney.

When tested together with URMC–099, a new drug discovered in the laboratory of UR scientist Harris A. (Handy) Gelbard M.D., Ph.D., the nanoformulated protease inhibitor completely eliminated measurable quantities of HIV. URMC–099 boosted the concentration of the nanoformulated drug in immune cells and slowed the rate at which it was eliminated, thereby prolonging its therapeutic effect.

Read More: Experimental Treatment Regimen Effective Against HIV

Patients Prefer Relief from Lower Back Pain Over Improved Mobility

Friday, September 11, 2015

diagramatic image showing back pain

A new study out today in the journal Neurology examines the question of quality of life for individuals with a common form of lower back pain called lumbar spinal stenosis. The findings show that, when asked to choose between treatments that reduced pain or would help them stand or walk, patients overwhelmingly chose pain relief.

There has long been a debate in the medical community over striking the right balance between pain relief and physical function, said John Markman, M.D., director of the Translational Pain Research Program in the University of Rochester Department of Neurosurgery and lead author of the study. While physicians have leaned toward the need to increase mobility, this study shows that patients have a clear preference for pain relief.

Read More: Patients Prefer Relief from Lower Back Pain Over Improved Mobility

Menopause Infographic: Brain Fog

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

You’re in the middle of a conversation with a colleague, and lose your thought halfway through a sentence. You call your children by the dog’s name. (If you name your dog after your first born, you might save yourself some embarrassment!). Your desk is plastered with sticky note reminders. You find yourself asking your significant other, Honey, can you call my phone? I can’t find it. You wish you could do the same with your keys and wallet.

It’s not in your head: Menopausal memory loss is real.

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, lead researcher Miriam Weber, Ph.D., said in a statement. Between one-third and two-thirds of women report forgetfulness and other memory difficulties during perimenopause and menopause, according to Weber.

Read More: Menopause Infographic: Brain Fog

FDA Approves Tool for Diagnosing Dementia in a Doctor's Office

Monday, August 10, 2015

Charles Duffy, MD, PhD

Dr. Charles Duffy

A small company started by a neuroscientist at the University of Rochester has moved closer to providing doctors with what he says is a simple, computer-based tool to help detect early signs of Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia.

Cerebral Assessment Systems has received marketing approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for Cognivue, a cognitive-assessment tool that functions somewhat like a video game. A patient can perform the inexpensive and simple test while a time-strapped primary-care physician tends to other patients. The 10-minute, non–invasive examination can detect subtle lapses in the brain’s perceptual ability that may signal the early stages of mental decline caused by dementia.

The federal government's approval to market the device comes as Alzheimer's researchers everywhere step up the pursuit for easier and more inexpensive ways to identify dementia in its earliest stages.

Look, there is a late-life tsunami of late-life cognitive decline coming at us, and health-care providers are standing on the beach, said Charles J. Duffy, a neurology professor at the University of Rochester Medical Center who founded the company. What we are all about is making cognitive care part of primary care.

Read the article from the Washington Post.

Read More: FDA Approves Tool for Diagnosing Dementia in a Doctor's Office

UR Medicine Honored for Stroke Care

Friday, July 24, 2015

stroke guidelines

UR Medicine’s Strong Memorial Hospital has received the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s (AHA/ASA) highest award for stroke care, including a new designation that recognizes excellence in rapid care that can save lives and improve the quality of life of stroke victims.

In stroke care, time equals brain, said Curtis Benesch, M.D., medical director of the UR Medicine’s Comprehensive Stroke Center. This award recognizes the discipline and training that is required to provide appropriate and timely care to stroke patients and our team strives each and every day to provide the most comprehensive, cutting-edge care for patients from across upstate New York.

This award reflects the commitment of our team to providing the highest level of care possible for our patients who’ve suffered a stroke, said Babak Jahromi, M.D., surgical director of the Comprehensive Stroke Center. The outstanding group of nurses, therapists, and physicians that we have assembled are dedicated to this common goal.

Strong has been named a Get With The Guidelines Stroke Gold Plus Achievement Award with Target: Stroke Honor Roll Elite Plus. The award recognizes the hospitals commitment and success ensuring that stroke patients received the most appropriate treatment according to nationally recognized, research-based guidelines based on the latest scientific evidence.

To receive the Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award, hospitals must achieve 85 percent or higher adherence to all Get With The Guidelines-Stroke achievement indicators for two or more consecutive 12-month periods and achieved 75 percent or higher compliance with five of eight Get With The Guidelines-Stroke Quality measures.

Read More: UR Medicine Honored for Stroke Care

Study: Virtual Research Studies Feasible

Thursday, July 16, 2015

photo of Ray Dorsey

A new pilot study in Parkinson’s disease suggests a new era of clinical research which removes the barrier of distance for both scientists and volunteers. The research, which appears in the journal Digital Health, could also enable researchers to leverage the rapid growth in personal genetic testing to better diagnose, and potentially treat, a wide range of diseases.

These findings demonstrate that remote recruitment and conduct of research visits is feasible and well-received by participants, said Ray Dorsey, M.D., M.B.A., a neurologist at the University of Rochester and lead author of the study. Direct-to-consumer genetic testing, when paired with telemedicine, has the potential to involve more people in clinical research and accelerate the process of identifying the genetic causes and variations in chronic diseases such as Parkinson’s.

Read More: Study: Virtual Research Studies Feasible

Flaum Eye Institute Scientist Gets Funding to Study Vision Loss in Batten Disease

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Ruchira Singh, PhD

Ruchira Singh, Ph.D.

University of Rochester Medical Center scientist Ruchira Singh, Ph.D., received a grant from the Knights Templar Eye Foundation to investigate how neurodegenerative diseases, such as juvenile Batten disease, cause blindness.

Singh, assistant professor of Ophthalmology and Biomedical Genetics, will use the $60,000 grant to create a human model of Batten disease (CNL3) using patient’s own cells. The project may lead to better understand the disease mechanisms, aiding in the development of drug therapies to preserve vision in affected patients.

For the complete article, visit the URMC newsroom.

Read More: Flaum Eye Institute Scientist Gets Funding to Study Vision Loss in Batten Disease

Mink Receives First Ever Tourette’s Association of America Award

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Jon Mink, MD, PhD

Dr. Jonathan Mink

Jonathan Mink, M.D., Ph.D., chief of Child Neurology at Golisano Children’s Hospital, is the first recipient of the Tourette Association of America’s Oliver Sacks Award for Excellence. The award, named for the famous British neurologist, was to be presented at the First World Congress on Tourette Syndrome and Tic Disorders, but due to a scheduling conflict, representatives from TAA instead traveled to Rochester to present him with the award in a surprise ceremony.

The award is in recognition of his many years of leadership, mentorship, research, and care on behalf of all people touched by Tourette syndrome and tic disorders around the world.

10th Annual Steven R. Schwid, M.D. Neurology/Neurosurgery Resident, Fellow and Student Research Symposium

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Annual Steven R. Schwid Neurology/Neurosurgery Resident, Fellow and Student Research Symposium will be held this Friday, June 12th, 2015 from 9 AM – 12 pm in the Flaum Atrium. This symposium is celebrating its 10th year and the memory of former Neurology faculty member Dr. Schwid, who was a dedicated mentor for trainees and respected clinician and researcher. The session will begin with Neurology Grand Rounds given by Dr. Benjamin Crane, MD, PhD from the Department of Otolaryngology held in the Class of 62’ auditorium. Following rounds there will be a poster session showcasing the work of the residents, and lab-based trainees from the Departments of Neurology and Neurosurgery. As in years past, we ask that faculty cast their vote for their top picks in each of two categories including Case Reports and Basic/Clinical Research. We have included a PDF version of all abstracts submitted for consideration below and paper ballots will be available at the poster session. Refreshments will be available during the poster viewing session followed by lunch served beginning at 11AM.

Please join us in recognizing the work of our trainees and departmental colleagues.

Foxe Appointed to Head Neuromedicine Research at URMC

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

John FoxeJohn J. Foxe, Ph.D., a nationally-regarded scientist in the field of neurobiology, has been named the research director of the DelMonte Neuromedicine Institute (DNI) and the Kilian J. and Caroline F. Schmitt Chair of the Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry.

The University of Rochester has long been home to some of the nation’s most innovative and groundbreaking research in the field of neuroscience and neuromedicine, said Joel Seligman, president of the University of Rochester. John’s appointment signals our determination to make this field a centerpiece of our progress as a University and Medical Center.

I am honored to be taking the helm of the DNI at this incredibly exciting time in modern neuroscience research, said Foxe. The University of Rochester is already world-renowned for its superb work in this field and we now have the opportunity to build an even stronger presence. Tens of millions of Americans suffer from a major mental illness each year, be it depression or anxiety, a major psychotic disorder, or Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, or addiction. And the list goes on. The National Institutes of Health estimates that only about half of these people ever receive treatment. We can and we must do better. It is only through research that we can develop new effective treatments and I am committed to placing the DNI and the University of Rochester at the very forefront of these efforts.

Read More: Foxe Appointed to Head Neuromedicine Research at URMC

Memorial Service Held for Neurologist Richard Satran

Thursday, May 14, 2015

photo of Richard Satran

Dr. Richard Satran, M.D.

A memorial service was held Thursday May 7th, at the Rochester Academy of Medicine in honor of neurologist, Dr. Richard Satran who died September 20, 2014 at the age of 86. Please view the video of the service, above.

Dr. Satran was a founding member of the department of Neurology arriving in Rochester in 1962 under the leadership of Paul Garvey. He never left and built his formidable career around patient care, teaching, and the history of neurology. He became Professor Emeritus in 1997.

From the first week I moved to Rochester in 1990 when he was my attending in resident clinic, to the very last discussions we had about health care and teaching, Dr. Satran was always a mentor to me and to many others, said chair of Neurology, Robert G. Holloway, M.D., M.P.H.

He was a neurologist's neurologist and his passion, integrity and approach to neurology lives on in all of us. He was from the biopyschosocial era of the Medical School and was always a fierce advocate for patients and their quality of life - he taught many to always think about the broader context within which a patient’s disease occurs, lessons that are more relevant today than ever, continued Holloway.

Dr. Laurie Seltzer, D.O. and Dr. Ruth Schneider Receive 2015-2016 Pilot Project Grant

Monday, May 11, 2015

photo of Laurie Seltzer

Dr. Laurie Seltzer, D.O.

The Department of Neurology is pleased to announce that Dr. Laurie Seltzer, D.O., Senior Instructor in Child Neurology and Epilepsy, and Dr. Ruth Schneider, MD, Fellow in Movement Disorders are the recipients of the 2015-2016 Department of Neurology Pilot Project Grant Program.

Dr. Seltzer’s project is titled, EEG Spectral Analysis and Developmental Outcomes in Infantile Spasms. Infantile spasms (ISS) is a devastating epileptic syndrome that affects children under 1 year of age. There are multiple and diverse genetic and extrinsic etiologies of ISS, and the syndrome is characterized by resistance to treatment and risk of poor neurodevelopmental outcome. Dr. Seltzer will study novel technologies, including EEG spectral analysis, in the evaluation of electrophysiological data in patients with infantile spasms. Her research aims are to: establish a database of infantile spasms subjects, characterize the spectral definition of hypsarrhythmia, and determine associations between these spectral patterns and response to treatment and developmental outcome. Improving EEG interpretation and diagnosis of ISS could improve rapid and effective treatment of ISS, which may meaningfully improve neurodevelopmental outcome for affected children. Dr. Seltzer’s work will involve an ongoing collaboration with and mentorship by Dr. Behnaz Ghoraani, PhD, in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Rochester Institute of Technology, and her mentors in the Department of Neurology at the University of Rochester, Dr. Gretchen Birbeck, MD and Dr. Alex Paciorkowski, MD.

photo of Ruth Schneider

Dr. Ruth Schneider, MD

Dr. Schneider’s project is titled, The Impact of Telemedicine-Delivered Movement Disorder Specialist Care for Nursing Home Residents with Parkinsonism. Patients with parkinsonism who reside in nursing homes require access to movement disorder specialists, but this may be difficult to achieve for all patients through in-person visits. Dr. Schneider’s study will focus on evaluating whether access to movement disorder specialist care through telemedicine will have an effect upon short-term patient outcomes, in particular the rate of falls. The research aims are to evaluate the efficacy of telemedicine movement disorder specialist care by assessing change in fall rate and falls with major injuries; assessing change in hospitalizations; and change in functional and mental status. In this study, nursing home patients with parkinsonism will be randomly assigned to receive immediate telemedicine care or to receive it after 6 months (delayed start group); Dr. Schneider will compare outcomes between these two groups, hypothesizing that the immediate access group will demonstrate improvements in these outcome measures in comparison to the control (delayed start) group. Dr. Schneider’s work will include a collaboration with two nursing homes within the Samaritan Medical Center in Watertown, NY, and her mentor in the Department of Neurology at the University of Rochester, Dr. Kevin Biglan, MD.

The Department of Neurology Pilot Project Grant Program is designed to allow junior faculty, fellows and residents the opportunity to develop and conduct pilot clinical and basic science research projects, educational programs with an evaluative component or clinical program evaluations.. The projects should allow for future development in an area of academic interest for the recipient, be integrated into a larger career development plan, and lead to future funding opportunities.

Understanding the Enemy Within that Causes Brain Damage after Cardiac Arrest

Thursday, May 7, 2015

A new $1.7 million grant will bring together a team of researchers to study – an ultimately thwart – the chain reaction that occurs in the body after cardiac arrest that can ultimately lead to brain damage and death.

“While the biological sequence of events is triggered by cardiac arrest, the death and disability associated with this event is the result of a broader systemic injury caused the initial loss of blood flow and subsequent tissue inflammation once blood circulation is restored,” said University of Rochester Medical Center neurologist Marc Halterman, M.D., Ph.D., the principal investigator of the study. In fact, it is the cumulative effect of this systemic injury on the brain, and not the heart – that ultimately leads to mortality in the disorder.

Read More: Understanding the Enemy Within that Causes Brain Damage after Cardiac Arrest

Investigating Batten Disease

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Dr. Jonathan Mink discusses Batten Disease in a recently published Research Media article.

International Innovation, published by Research Media, is the leading global dissemination resource for the wider scientific, technology and research communities, dedicated to disseminating the latest science, research and technological innovations on a global level.

More information and a complimentary subscription offer to the publication can be found at Research Media's website.

URMC Start-up Takes Aim at Memory and Cognitive Problems

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Medications are available to treat many of the symptoms of neurodegenerative diseases like multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease, but there is no drug or other therapy that improves the memory and cognitive problems that often plague patients. A new start-up company, built around research conducted at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, hopes to change that.

Camber NeuroTherapeutics Inc., founded based on discoveries made in the laboratories of Harris "Handy" A. Gelbard, M.D., Ph.D. and Stephen Dewhurst, Ph.D., plans to attack the cognitive component of neurodegenerative diseases using a completely new approach: stopping the inflammation in the brain, so-called neuroinflammation, that impairs the function of nerve cells and the vast networks they create. These neural networks allow us to store and recall memories, plan and prioritize, focus on particular tasks, and process sensory information.

Read More: URMC Start-up Takes Aim at Memory and Cognitive Problems

Study Sheds New Light on Brain’s Source of Power

Friday, April 24, 2015

New research published today in the journal Nature Communications represents a potentially fundamental shift in our understanding of how nerve cells in the brain generate the energy needed to function. The study shows neurons are more independent than previously believed and this research has implications for a range of neurological disorders.

These findings suggest that we need to rethink the way we look at brain metabolism, said Maiken Nedergaard, M.D., D.M.Sc., co-director of the University of Rochester Center for Translational Neuromedicine and lead author of the study. Neurons, and not the brain’s support cells, are the primary consumers of glucose and this consumption appears to correlate with brain activity.

Read More: Study Sheds New Light on Brain’s Source of Power

Study Finds New Genetic Clues to Pediatric Seizure Disorders

Friday, April 3, 2015

Researchers have identified a new genetic mutation at the heart of a severe and potentially deadly seizure disorder found in infants and young children. The finding, which was reported today in the American Journal of Human Genetics, may help scientists unravel the complex biological mechanism behind these diseases.

These findings allow us to open up what was, up to this point, a black box and more fully understand the biological pathways associated with these disorders and why some individuals do not respond to treatment, said Alex Paciorkowski, M.D., an assistant professor of Neurology at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) and lead author of the study.

Once the mutation was identified, the researchers worked with neurobiologists in the lab of Marc Halterman, M.D., Ph.D. in the URMC Center for Neural Development and Disease, and were able to identify the downstream impact of the mutation, namely that it regulated another gene that has been associated with severe seizures called myocyte-specific enhancer factor 2C (MEF2C).

Read More: Study Finds New Genetic Clues to Pediatric Seizure Disorders

Ray Dorsey Honored at White House

Monday, March 23, 2015

URMC neurologist Ray Dorsey, M.D., M.P.H. was honored today at the White House as one of seven Champions of Change who are doing extraordinary work to advocate for better treatments and a cure for individuals with Parkinson’s disease.

Dorsey, who also is director of the Center for Human Experimental Therapeutics, has been a pioneer in the application of technology to improve access to specialized care for people with Parkinson’s disease.

Dorsey has also recently worked with Sage Bionetworks to develop a new iPhone app to help researchers better understand how Parkinson’s impacts people’s daily lives. The app was highlighted by Apple when it announced its ResearchKit platform on March 9.

Read more on the White House website.

Read More: Ray Dorsey Honored at White House

Brain Swelling Source of Malaria's Fatal Grip

Friday, March 20, 2015

Malaria is one of the world’s deadliest diseases, claiming a child’s life every minute. New research, published today in the New England Journal of Medicine, reveals why this preventable and treatable disease is often fatal.

The key to the new discovery was a technology that most people in the developed world take for granted: an MRI. In 2008, GE Healthcare provided an MRI to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi. Previously, the closest MRI was more than a thousand miles away.

Researchers, including URMC neuroradiologist Michael Potchen, M.D., and neurologist Gretchen Birbeck, M.D., M.P.H., studied the brain images of hundreds of children with cerebral malaria, which is fatal in 15-20 percent of cases. Birbeck divides her time between Rochester and health projects in Africa.

Read More: Brain Swelling Source of Malaria's Fatal Grip

Talk: 'Using Technology to Transform Care'

Friday, March 20, 2015

Ray Dorsey, the David M. Levy Professor in neurology and codirector of the Center for Human Experimental Therapeutics, will present a talk on Using Technology to Transform Care at today's Public Health Grand Rounds. The lecture runs from noon to 1 p.m. in Whipple Auditorium (2-6424), Medical Center. Assorted wraps will be available while supplies last; bring your own beverage.

Apple Highlights App with Medical Center Ties

Monday, March 9, 2015

A new iPhone mobile app which allows patients with Parkinson’s disease to track their symptoms in real time and share this information with researchers was featured by Apple executives today during the company’s semi-annual product launch event.

There is unmet demand for tools by which individuals can measure the course of their disease and receive feedback on how they’re doing, said University of Rochester neurologist Ray Dorsey, M.D., M.B.A. To have a dedicated Parkinson’s disease app backed by research that will allow patients to engage with their care and receive feedback on their condition is amazing. To make that data in the aggregate available for research is heartening. Five years ago this would have been inconceivable.

The app, dubbed Parkinson mPower (Mobile Parkinson Observatory for Worldwide, Evidenced-based Research), was developed by Sage Bionetworks, non-profit research organization based in Seattle, in partnership with Dorsey and Karl Kieburtz, M.D., M.P.H. from the University of Rochester, and Max Little, Ph.D., a mathematician and lecturer at Aston University in the United Kingdom. mPower is available to download immediately at the Apple App Store.

Read More: Apple Highlights App with Medical Center Ties

Mouse Model Helps Researchers Target Deadly Brain Disease

Friday, February 13, 2015

Mouse Model

When University researchers Steven Goldman and Maiken Nedergaard created a mouse model whose brains consisted of both animal neurons and human glia cells, their study initially focused on findings that the human cells essentially made the mice smarter.

However, they also created a powerful new platform for researchers to study human glial cells in experimental animals. And that is providing new insights into Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML).

The study, out today in the journal Cell Stem Cell, suggests that the evolution of a subset of glia called astrocytes – which are larger and more complex in humans than other species – may have been one of the key events that led to the higher cognitive functions that distinguish us from other species.


For more information please visit the URMC Newsroom article.

Read More: Mouse Model Helps Researchers Target Deadly Brain Disease

Neuroprotection for Parkinson’s Remains Elusive

Friday, February 13, 2015

A new study appearing today in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that creatine does not slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease. However, researchers are still committed to pursuing therapies that may help patients manage the symptoms of the disease for a longer period of time.

The study, which was led by Karl Kieburtz, M.D., director of the University of Rochester Clinical and Translational Science Institute, was halted in 2013 when it became apparent that creatine was not providing a benefit to Parkinson’s patients. While the findings are a setback, efforts are ongoing to identify a therapy that may slow the disease’s progress. Most notably STEADY-PD 3, a $23 million Phase 3 clinical trial co-led by the University of Rochester and Northwestern University, is currently underway to evaluate isradipine, a drug currently used to treat high blood pressure.

Read More: Neuroprotection for Parkinson’s Remains Elusive

MSTP Announces 40th Anniversary Celebration!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Edward Rubin

Edward M. Eddy Rubin

The Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) is excited to announce a celebration of the 40th anniversary of the MSTP NIH training grant on Friday, October 9, 2015.

The keynote speaker will be an MSTP alumni from the Class of 1980: Edward Rubin, MD, PhD, Director, DOE Joint Genome Institute.

Edward M. Eddy Rubin is an internationally-known geneticist and medical researcher at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, California, where he became head of the Genomic Sciences Division in 1998. In 2002 he assumed the directorship of the DOE Joint Genome Institute (JGI) to lead the JGI's involvement in the Human Genome Project (HGP).

For more information and schedule of events for the day, please visit the MSTP 40th Anniversary page.

Neuromedicine Intensive Care Unit Team Wins Award for Excellence

Thursday, January 29, 2015

manju award

URMC Board Chair George Hamlin presided over the recognition of the 2014 Excellence Award Winners at the Board meeting on Jan. 20. The awards, presented annually, laud the extraordinary efforts of our physicians, nurses, clinicians, and support staff. This year individuals and teams in 13 categories were recognized. Among them was the Neuromedicine Intensive Care Unit.

Implementation of nurse-led daily rounds is making a significant impact on patient care thanks to the Board Excellence Award-winning team, the Neuromedicine Intensive Care Unit. Introduced by Manjunath Markandaya, M.D., and created by nurse Catherine Gargan, RN, CNRN, the switch from physician-led rounds in the Neuromedicine ICU seemed like a natural transition. This change puts nurses, who are front-line caregivers, with the most up-to-date information on their patients in the lead during rounding. The nurse presents the patient to the residents, fellows, and physicians who are involved and often includes the pharmacist, respiratory therapist, and dietitian as well. Families are also welcome on rounds and they are grateful to be part of the process where they learn more about the care of loved ones and have an opportunity to ask questions of the entire care team. Rounds are more efficient under this new team approach and satisfaction scores for this critical care setting are higher.

The team was nominated by Associate Director of Adult Critical Care Nursing Kate Valcin and nurse leader LaShaunda Bradley. The departments of Neurology and Neurosurgery would like to extend their congratulations on this well-deserved award!

New Study Probes Link Between HIV Drugs and Vascular Disease

Monday, January 5, 2015

A new $3.8 million grant will bring together clinical and bench researchers to better understand why individuals who receive anti-retroviral treatment for HIV are at greater risk for heart disease and stroke.

“The good news is that the drugs being used to fight HIV are increasing life expectancy to normal levels,” said University of Rochester neurologist Giovanni Schifitto, M.D., one of the co-leaders of the study. “However, one of the long-term complications is that these treatments, the infection itself, or a combination of the two are increasing risk for cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease in this population.”

Read More: New Study Probes Link Between HIV Drugs and Vascular Disease