A study published this week in the journal Cell reported to have successfully created human stem cells. Using a cloning technique, the one that was used to create Dolly, researchers transplanted genetic material from an adult cell into a human egg cell that had its DNA removed. The “hybrid” cell proliferated until the blastocyst state, in which they await differentiation into specific cell types. These cloning techniques has lead to scientists producing the embryonic stage of stem cells, while side-stepping the problem of harvesting fertilized human eggs. Quite the accomplishment which has the potential to turn stem cell research into full stem cell treatments.

Barnstable Brown Obesity and Diabetes Research Day: Stephanie Rose, M.D.


Barnstable Brown Obesity and Diabetes Research Day: Stephanie Rose, M.D.

Today at the UK research conference, I attended Dr. Stephanie Rose’s presentation on “Patient and Provider Attitudes Toward Obesity Care in the Primary Care Setting.” I chose to attend this talk because I am interested in the dramatic increase in Kentuckians suffering from obesity related illnesses. As a future healthcare professional, I often wonder if there are any biases in providing treatment for obesity related problems.

The presentation was extremely informative, and surprising to say the least. The general theme of her research was based around the differences in opinion and thinking between primary care physicians (PCPs) and obese patients. She investigated, through a survey at four different locations in Kentucky, issues regarding obesity treatments. PCPs reported to address weight loss concerns to 100% of their obese patients; Physicians noted that they felt it is their responsibility to address weight concerns to their patients. While this sounds like our healthcare system would be helping to reverse the obesity epidemic, there is a major flaw noted through her research. In a similar survey, patients only reported to have received advice about losing weight about 44% of the time.

So where is the big disconnect between patients and PCPs coming from? Counseling for obesity generally only occurs with a BMI greater than 30. There is little included in the DSM to address pre-diabetes if the BMI is less than 30. Physicians reported several difficulties about adequately communicating medical advice about obesity to patients in Kentucky. Since there are usually bigger medical issues at hand for obese patients, there’s a lack of time for PCPs to address less threatening concerns, such as obesity. Taking time to truly discuss the dangers of obesity is often neglected, since physicians are not compensated if they take extra time to have these conversations.

Patients had a very different view concerning this problem. 60% of patients were not advised by their doctors to lose weight. Kentuckians generally believe that it is not the doctors job to advise on weight related issues. This suggests a large disconnect between the advice that may be given 100% of the time, and Kentuckians capacity to be receptive to that information. Patients said that since there was no “magic pill” to take to treat obesity, that it was not a medical concern. Many of the patients were not extremely obese, and were less receptive to weight concerns. They believe weight is a personal problem. Also, there is a common misconception that being obese is just the new normal, and so it isn’t viewed as a “problem.” Without explicit instruction from the doctor, patients rarely changed dietary habits after a primary care appointment. Lack of empathy from doctors about weight concerns was also reported by patients as a common reason for not addressing obesity.

In sum, the healthcare system at present has not completely caught up to modern views. Our healthcare system HAS to be changed. There seems to be a lot of people that want to enter the healthcare field in order to help people, but we can’t help people through a broken system. Investments must be made in people’s lives beyond the examination room to promote real societal change in obesity. If patients do better with step by step instruction, as well as a follow-up phone call from a healthcare professional, than I believe that’s what needs to happen. M.D.s’ are spread thin, and being asked to do more with less. I think this is where PA’s and nurse practitioners have a vital role in making a real change in the lives of patients. As Dr. Rose pointed out, the disconnect is due to the obvious difference in view between patients and physicians. We cannot afford to wait around for the current society to catch up to the medical system that is obviously costing a lot and doing a little. Let’s increase availability of resources pertaining to obesity (showing that it is a true medical concern), address the affordability for patients without the financial means to get better, and move from a outdated healthcare attitude to a “lifecare” investment.

The Petridish…BURGER?


The Petridish...BURGER?

Local, cheap and organic….are three things that do not apply to the $325,000 science creation of a burger made in the Netherlands. The gastronomic delicacy, is a result of assembly from bits of beef muscle tissue that is grown in the lab. In a few weeks at an event in London, the cultured meat will be cooked and served for a small fortune. “Will vegetarians be able to eat the meat if their reservations come from animal care concerns?” you ask. Nay. The initial type of cell used to create these cultures is a certain type of cow neck cell. Benefits to this innovative chef-boy-ardee science: greatly reduce water, land, and energy use & reduce greenhouse gas emissions. So the new chef of the future is the guy with a Ph.D. in biochemistry. Who knew?

Injectable Electronics Light Up Brain


Injectable Electronics Light Up Brain

Researchers at the University of Illinois and Washington University have built a tiny injectable LED light. It is so small, and so uninvasive, that it can be injected into delicate tissue such as the brain. This new kind of technology allows scientists to monitor specific parts of the brain during basic research.

Disease Detection Goes Mobile


Disease Detection Goes Mobile

Important especially in developing countries, this mobile device fits in the palm of your hand, and can test body fluids for the presence of DNA from tuberculosis. TB killed 1.4 million people in 2011. Testing can increase the response time of treatment, possibly saving thousands of lives.

Healthcare Robots


Healthcare Robots

As a future healthcare professional, I personally find it a little threatening that robots are already being considered and actually developed for use in healthcare. At Carnegie-Mellon, the robot HERB can already actively learn, as well as taken the icing off an oreo. The ability for Americans to find jobs is a big issue. I don’t feel like infiltrating the healthcare field, a field with generally little threat to job security, is a wise investment for our future. Go make robot police or something. Click the photo for the video.