This post is the first in a new series highlighting the successes of alumni of Emory's Center for the Study of Human Health. Our graduates go on to work in a variety of fields and partake in a variety of further training. This semi-regular series will demonstrate these outstanding alumni outcomes.
By: Salima S. Makhani
This fall, I was the first in my family to start my journey as a medical student. I have recently begun Mercer University School of Medicine’s Problem-Based Curriculum (PBL), which has exposed me to a different style of learning, such as stimulating intimate discussions among classmates, encouraging interactions in small groups, and sharing our thoughts on each patient’s case. Cases we review range from discussing nutritional and lifestyle aspects of a diabetic patient to analyzing lab findings consistent with a myocardial infarction. This case-based approach reminds me of my undergraduate years at Emory University in the Center for the Study of Human Health.
I initially started college focusing my studies on Biology, similar to many of my pre-med peers. Although I was following the path I carved out for myself, I was still searching for a more holistic understanding of medicine and health. After my first class with Dr. Lampl in Predictive Health and Societies, I knew that The Center for the Study of Human Health would prepare me best in my aspiration of being a physician.
As a rising Junior at Emory in 2013, I was determined to be a part of the first cohort of students to graduate with the Human Health major. I took part in all the Center had to offer including, for example, going to the study abroad program with Human Health professors in Paris, France in the summer of 2014. The combination of my foundational science and preventative medicine courses served an integral role in applying my knowledge from the classroom to volunteer services with Emory Emergency Medical Service (EMS).
Equipped with this unique perspective on health and medicine, I pursued a Masters of Science in Preclinical Sciences at Mercer University School of Medicine in 2015. I then trained as a medical scribe at various Emergency departments in Georgia and Illinois. In addition to scribing, I decided to revisit Emory, coordinating clinical research with Emory’s Department of Urology. Emory surgeons served as my mentors, training me to not only learn the foundations of clinical research, but also to analyze data, draft a manuscript and become published as a first author of a major study in the Journal of American College of Surgeons.
I am so grateful for the undergraduate and post-graduate experiences that have prepared me for where I am today. The Center for the Study of Human Health lies at the roots of my journey. I will continue to integrate this knowledge into my education as I aspire to be a physician serving one of the many under-served communities in Georgia.
By: Taylor Eisenstein
Upon visiting a hospital—a word derived from the term ‘hospitality’—patients are greeted by physicians and hospital staff. Hospital lobbies are often large, open, and welcoming; certain hospitals, like Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, embellish their lobbies with ornate decorations or historical remnants. Behind the scenes, medical students undergo rigorous training so that they can learn to treat and address patients in a proper manner. Individuals today, however, often neglect to consider the origins of hospitals and medicine.
This past summer, I had the opportunity explore medicine, hospitality, and compassion as I traveled to over 50 sites and more than 47 towns and cities in Italy with the Italian Studies Summer Program, an interdisciplinary venture that focused on bioethics, humanities, medicine, and compassion. This study abroad experience involved faculty from the Emory Center for Ethics and School of Medicine in collaboration with the Italian Studies program. Different hospitals and universities observed on this study abroad provided insight into the history of health and medicine and illuminated the integration of medicine with art. Snapshots of just a few of the places that I visited in Italy are described below.
Ospedale degli Innocenti
Located in Florence, Italy, the ‘Hospital of the Innocents’ initially served as an orphanage for young children. Parents unable to care for their babies could anonymously leave them in a rotating wheel that would then carry them into building. Sometimes parents would leave half a locket or trinket with the child and keep the other half, as a way to maintain a connection with their loved ones. The image of a baby comfortably swaddled in fabric became a prominent sign for the Innocenti, which inspired the symbol of the American Academy of Pediatrics today. Filippo Brunelleschi designed this building in the 1400s; by constructing certain open spaces that actively filtered in light, he helped facilitate an environment conducive to healing for orphaned children.
Ospedale Santa Maria Nuova
Founded in 1288, the ‘Hospital of Santa Maria Nuova’ is the oldest hospital currently operating in Florence and offers services such as dermatology, radiology, neurology, psychiatry, and more. This hospital also hosts an elaborate piece of architecture called The Cloister of Bones, a temple built in the nineteenth century that acted as a burial site.
Santa Maria della Scala
Located in Siena, this hospital—now a museum—once cared for children and the sick. Abandoned babies were provided with wet nurses, and girls were even given dowries. Because it was positioned among common traveling routes, this hospital also provided welcome lodgings for pilgrims, as indicated by the presence of a Pilgrim’s Hall. Frescoes in the hospital provide insight into early medical treatment and the fusion of care and compassion. For instance, Caring for the Sick by Domenico di Bartolo seemingly depicts an extremely ill man being comforted and supported through his illness; it also portrays another man whose injuries are being examined.
Teatro Anatomico: The Anatomical Theatre
Universities once employed the use of anatomical theatres in order to perform dissections and teach anatomy to curious observers, including medical students and physicians. The first anatomical theatre was built at the University of Padua—the fifth-oldest currently operating university in the world—in the late 1500s. A small operating table is positioned in the middle of the theatre, on a bottom level; seating capable of serving more than one hundred individuals is elevated and looks down on the table. Demonstrations would sometimes be accompanied by live music. Additionally, the University of Bologna, the world’s oldest surviving university, holds a smaller anatomical theatre that depicts images of prominent historical figures, such as Hippocrates and Galen.
By: Sarah Cardwell-Smith
Throughout the academic year, the Center for the Study of Human Health (CSHH) brings Emory and the Atlanta community a host of health-related events. From the film series, Health Screenings, to the Speaker's Series, CSHH invites those interested in learn about emerging health researcher or take a deeper inspection into the ways health is represented to our communities. Last Spring, Dr. Tessa Roseboom, professor of Early Development and Health at the Academic Medical Center at the University of Amsterdam, delivered a lecture at Emory on her research into the effect of prenatal exposure to famine on future health. To investigate this relationship, Roseboom looked back at the extensive birth records kept during the Dutch Hunger Winter.
The Dutch famine took place in 1944-1945, at the end of World War II, in the German-occupied part of the Netherlands. During that winter, a German blockade cut off food and fuel shipments to many parts of the country, and the 4.5 million people in the affected areas suffered from severe malnutrition and starvation.
Roseboom and her research team were interested in the present-day health of people conceived during the hunger winter, so they traced all the babies born around the same time in one hospital in Amsterdam, and at the age of 50 started investigating those men and women.
“What we found was really quite striking,” Roseboom said. “People conceived during the famine who were exposed to a very poor maternal diet when they had just been conceived, had double the rates of cardiovascular disease, already at the age of 50. They were more obese, they had higher cholesterol levels, higher blood pressure levels, they felt less healthy, and more of them died of cardiovascular disease.”
According to Roseboom, these findings revealed several lessons.
“Prenatal malnutrition does have long-term consequences,” Roseboom said, “Even though the absolute amount of nutrients an embryo needs is tiny. Lots of people initially told me ‘but the fetus is the perfect parasite, is just takes whatever it needs,’ but that’s not true. The fetus is responsive to the environment and the environment does have lasting consequences.”
For Roseboom, one symbol of the importance of prenatal and postnatal health is the bonsai tree. Bonsai trees, she pointed out, have the same genetic makeup as their larger tree counterparts, but because they are grown in a very small pot, their resources are restricted and they are not able to grow to their full potential. Roseboom points out that the same concept applies to humans—fetuses who are exposed to famine during gestation suffer restrictions on organ growth and development, causing very real health consequences for those people later in life.
In particular, Roseboom noticed that the effects of famine are most significant when the fetus is exposed early in gestation. “We know that in the first trimester all of the organs are laid down,” Roseboom said, “So it’s not surprising that especially exposure in early gestation had so many effects on brain, on heart, on liver, on lungs, and different organs.”
Roseboom addresses several possible mechanisms through which these health outcomes develop, such as a greater change in blood pressure in response to stress, impaired insulin sensitivity, structural differences in the brain, and preference for fatty foods.
Bonsai tree in a small pot. Photo by: Jenn via Flickr
Contrary to what they might have expected, Roseboom’s team found that the effects of famine are independent of babies’ size at birth. Many mothers carrying babies during the famine had proper nutrition during the second and third trimesters, so they gave birth to normal-weight babies.
“Based on their size at birth you wouldn’t have thought that they had actually been affected, but actually, at the age of 50, they were the ones who were more obese, had more atherogenic lipid profiles, and died more from heart disease.”
This finding revealed that in future studies of pregnant women, interventions should not be abandoned just because they do not have an effect on birth weight.
“Even if interventions don’t have any short-term effects, they might have long-term effects,” Roseboom said.
Another lesson Roseboom took from the Hunger Winter study was that in order to prevent chronic degenerative diseases such as heart disease and diabetes, interventions need to start before conception.
“I think that will have a huge impact not only on preventing cardiovascular disease,” Roseboom said. “But also in improving the chances of people reaching their full potential in terms of health, development, and academic achievements. It’s really very important to invest in a good start in life.”
The importance of early interventions hinges on Roseboom’s finding that prenatal exposure to famine affects not only that first generation of babies, but the babies’ future children as well. She reminds us that every one of us has been not only in our mother’s womb, but also in our grandmother’s womb.
“It’s something you learn in secondary school, that every girl is born with all the oocytes she’ll ever have,” Roseboom said. “The oocytes in my mother’s ovaries were there at the time [of the Dutch famine]. So the egg that made me has actually been directly exposed to the famine.”
A group of children during the Dutch Hunger Winter.
Photo by: Kelly Short, via Flickr
While the Hunger Winter directly affected Roseboom’s own parents and grandparents, she reminds us that this is not the reason she became interested in the study.
“That would seem sort of logical, but I don’t think that was [the reason], because everyone in my generation had parents who were born around the time of the Dutch famine and not everyone is doing this research,” she said.
Rather, Roseboom’s interest in prenatal development stemmed from her interest in biology.
“I studied biology and was really interested in reproduction,” Roseboom said. “I started working at an IVF clinic to gain some research experience, and I just looked through the microscope at eggs being fertilized and wondered: these embryos are actually created in a petri dish rather than somewhere in the ovary. Couldn’t that have potential consequences for development and growth of these children?”
While writing a plan to investigate the long-tem consequences of IVF, Roseboom realized that as a biologist, she did not have the biostatistics and epidemiology skills she needed.
“So I went on to take courses in that area," Roseboom said. "I was later asked to apply for a PhD studentship on the Dutch Famine, which was slightly different but still had, of course, a lot to do with prenatal exposures and long-term consequences.”
Photo by: Anne Geddes via Flickr
Despite her success, Roseboom has encountered a variety of challenges in researching and developing interventions, including getting funding for studies with such a long-term vision as preventing myocardial infarctions in the next two generations.
“Trying to prevent something is a very promising strategy,” Roseboom said, “but it’s not as exciting. The difficult thing is that success is when nothing happens, and that’s a challenging message to get across.”
Another challenge has been getting women to participate. According to Roseboom, many women may not see the value in participating in these studies because they do not realize how important their health and well-being is not only for themselves, but also for future generations.
“Being a mother of children myself, I know it’s a busy life having a job and a family and also participating in this study is a bit too much,” Roseboom said. “So what we try to do is make it as easy as possible for women to participate in studies.”
Roseboom still works on the Dutch Hunger Winter study, but much more of her time is devoted to a variety of clinical studies, and projects focusing on translating her findings to the current situation in the West. Some of her current projects include researching the long-term effects of different environmental conditions during IVF treatment, designing interventions to help pregnant women suffering from nausea and vomiting, investigating the potential effects of Ramadan fasting during pregnancy, developing a pre-conception lifestyle intervention aiming to prevent heart disease in women and their children, and talking to aid organizations about hopes to prioritize feeding women and children in poorer countries, in order to influence the health of future generations.
Roseboom advises students interested in public health and health research to dare to be different.
“When I was working on the Dutch Famine,” Roseboom said, “People came to me and said ‘Really? Do you think something that happened 50 years ago is going to have any relevant effect today?’ I’m so happy that there were people supporting me to go ahead and to it, because otherwise I wouldn’t be here talking to you today. I think daring to be different is really what will help public health move forward, and I think if we could inspire young public health researchers to really think out of the box, that could make a big change.”
If you find this topic interesting and are interested in learning about our upcoming events, visit our events page here and like our Facebook page!
By: Jolie Blair
This past summer, I had the amazing opportunity to be the first intern for the Clinical Skills Center (CSC) at Emory University School of Medicine. The CSC is part of the medical school’s Center For Experiential Learning (ExCEL). ExCEL hosts a multitude of programs for medical learners, Doctor of Physical Therapy learners (DPT), Physician’s Assistant (PA) learners and those continuing their medical educations. One of the most crucial components of the ExCEL curriculum is the simulation provided by the Clinical Skills Center, which is called ‘Objective Structured Clinical Examination’ or ‘OSCE’. Working with the Center provided me with a unique opportunity to combine my two majors – Human Health and Theater Studies – and learn how a center works, especially one that is run by an amazing team.
The medical school defines the Clinical Skills Center as a space “used for standardized patient education, clinical skills education, physical diagnosis and other educational experiences…”. CSC has a group of actors who are trained to take on the role as ‘standardized patients’. These ‘fake’ patients have a variety of illnesses and ailments that the learners are instructed to identify, diagnose, and treat. The standardized patients “…are skilled at presenting the history in a certain manner, simulating abnormal physical findings, and providing feedback to learners about bedside manner, professionalism and communication skills”.
Emory’s Clinical Skills Center is composed of four suites; each suit contains 4 exam rooms. These rooms resemble the average doctor’s office, complete with examination tables and standard clinic equipment. Each room has two cameras, with microphones, that are used to record the encounter between the learner and the standardized patient. The recordings are often watched by the medical school faculty in order to grade the learners. In addition, the learners can go back and review their videos, comments from the faculty, and feedback from the standardized patient in order to improve their clinical skills.
A wide variety of learners and disciplines use the Clinical Skills Center. Emory medical learners experience their first OSCEs as early as the second week of their first year. These OSCEs begin as teaching simulations, rather than exams, and are usually for OB/GYN skills (such as vaginal and breast exams) and Pediatric skills (such as taking a child’s medical history and giving a physical exam). Slowly, these OSCEs become more testing-based and the learners are graded on their performance and interaction with the standardized patients. Emory University Hospital’s residence and fellows – called ‘Post-Graduate Year Learners (PGY)’ – also complete OSCEs as they continue their medical education after medical school. All of these learners might encounter agitated patients, such as a woman who thinks that the CIA is out to get her or patients in the ‘ER’ who have overdosed. Meanwhile, the PT learners help people with sore backs and hurt knees while the PA learners do just about everything in between.
The use of standard clinical exams in medical schools is relatively new and was something I had not heard about until a member of the Clinical Skills Center spoke in one of my Human Health courses: Health and Humanities with Dr. Jennifer C. Sarrett. I wanted to shadow everyone at the Center to see which position interested me the most and become more familiar with the inner-workings of a clinical skills center. I worked with the wonderful staff. Gina Shannon, the Associate Director of the center, oversaw my internship. Sherry Stewart, the Center Manager, is responsible for payments, standardized patient and learner contact information, and supplies for the center. Kelly O’Malley, the Learning Space Specialist, troubleshoots when problems arise with the software used for the entire center, the recordings, and the grading (called Learning Space). Finally, Deborah Laubscher and Daniel Brown are both educators who cast and train the standardized patients, work with faculty on creating cases and collecting the case materials, hire the standardized nurses, and orient the learners on the day of the event.
As an intern, I had the opportunity to rotate jobs and responsibilities so I could understand how all of these individuals work together in an intricate puzzle, enhancing the skills of these physicians-to-be. My first job, working with Sherry, was to organize the closet filled with fake medical supplies – such as IVs, gauze, speculums, and so much more – and another closet full of fake sweat, ‘medication’, and other props used by the standardized patients. I then explored and slowly came to understand the center’s software, LearningSpace. Under Kelly’s watchful eye, I created events, assigned learners times and dates, and made sure everything was in working order. During some of the events, hosted by Deb and Dan, I acted as stage manager, which meant I was responsible for setting up and cleaning up the rooms, watching and listening to the live recordings of the events to catch and fix and issues, and problem-solving on the fly when something comes up.
My internship at the Clinical Skills Center was not only fun and interesting, but it gave me a potential career path in Public Health. I now want to work in healthcare simulation, which is currently used in many different areas of study besides medicine, such as social workers and the military. For example, during the Ebola crisis, CSC was used by physicians and nurses to practice their safety procedures when handling infected patients, which took place in the Simulation Center (located in the basement of the School of Medicine, and uses mannequins rather than live actors). Healthcare simulation is a new and upcoming field with a lot of potential to aid different facets of society. I cannot wait to see how the use of simulations in health grows in the upcoming years, and I cannot wait to take part.
A huge thanks to the Clinical Skills Center for my amazing internship, and I am so excited to be continuing my work there not only as an intern but also as a researcher for my honors thesis!
By: Lamar Greene
I released a sigh of relief when my junior year of high school finally came to a close. There was so much for me to look forward to. I had survived what many consider the “dreaded” year of high school with an improved GPA, solid test scores, and my sanity still intact. Soon I would be in my senior year completing college applications and then the milestone of graduation that I could mark off my to do list. I was so excited because I would spend my entire summer interning with Health Diagnostic Laboratory, HDL for short, for the second time.
HDL was a research lab based in my hometown of Richmond, Virginia. The facilities are dedicated to research focused on the prevention and early detection of cardiovascular diseases. It did not take long for HDL to become a haven for me as someone who wanted to be a cardiologist. In my first summer, I was able to shadow lab technicians and biomedical engineers while also working with lab assistants. I had my own workspace where I researched the risk factors for cardiovascular diseases and prevention measures that could be taken. There was also this cool indoor slide that could be used to get to the lobby from the fifth floor. I admit, sometimes I went to the fifth floor solely for that purpose. It was my time looking at chronic diseases from a broader lens at HDL that helped me realize my interests were more in public health than medicine.
My second summer at HDL meant more responsibility and more opportunities to learn. It also meant that I would be able to wear a lab coat and a face shield while pretending to be some renowned researcher at the Center for Disease Control (CDC) or National Institutes of Health (NIH). I worked with a lab technician on a research project where we explored the effectiveness of fish oil supplements in reducing cardiovascular related ailments. My summer was off to a great start, and I was so excited about the project. Then it happened.
My mother and I went to visit my grandmother’s house. There was medical paperwork spread across the coffee table in the living room. My mother did not look shocked by this; I was blissfully unaware of the situation until that moment. I discovered that my grandmother would have to have double bypass heart surgery, and I felt my heart crumble. I spent much of my childhood learning from my grandmother and enjoying her colorful humor. Questions kept popping into my mind in search of answers. Why did it have to come to this? Couldn’t this have been prevented? The truth was that my grandmother had shown many of the risk factors for cardiovascular disease, which still leaves me with the question of why did her doctors not do more.
Despite having all of the necessary resources at my disposal with my internship at HDL, I felt powerless looking for ways in which I could help. I rotated opportunities to sit with my grandmother among other members of my immediate family during the early stages of my grandmother returning home, but I felt as though it was not enough. During these times, I heard her complain about the food. It wasn’t that she did not like the things she was eating, but often times did not know what was acceptable. This was my big break. Outside of reading almost all of HDL’s literature on cardiovascular diseases, I spoke with a dietician at HDL to develop some diet recommendations for my grandmother while she was in recovery. I was satisfied in finding a solution which proved to be helpful for her, and I am proud to say that she is doing well today.
My interest in health involves reshaping the healthcare industry to become more proactive in influencing health outcomes and preventing chronic diseases. I’m a firm believer that disease management, rather than a focus on preventative care, is a disservice to the patients and people affected. I am interested in health within context which has led me to study health disparities and social determinants of health more deeply. I hope to see use of a medical system where disease diagnosis is considered failure and people are spared the heartbreak that I experienced with my grandmother being ill. The experience with my grandmother coupled with my two summers spent at HDL confirmed my interest in health and improving health for all.
By: Alexa Hirschberg
Last year, I took my studies across the pond to pursue the Health and Society program at King’s College of London. This module integrated seminars and clinical shadowing, allowing for students, like myself, to take our education beyond the textbook and further put studies to practice. As I developed an awareness of the patient experience and that of the healthcare practitioner from a scientific, scholastic and professional perspective, I also cultivated a holistic understanding of healthcare in the United Kingdom.
Although focused on healthcare, this course was interdisciplinary by nature, as lectures were led by academics from various backgrounds and specialties. Topics ranged from ethical reasoning and confidentiality to communication skills and role-playing scenarios. History and law were discussed as we took a journey through the National Health Service from its origins to how it currently functions on the ground in daily life. We visited the National Gallery, and learned about visual thinking as an important part of patient-provider communication. We honed our observational skills by interpreting art to understand narratives and engage with the social contexts of each piece. This exercise was then carried out into our clinical practices.
Clinical placement was also varied; I shadowed professionals in a general practice, a sexual health center, and an osteopathic manipulative treatment office. As a practitioner of alternative medicine in my own life, I found it particularly interesting to see how osteopathy is integrated into the British healthcare system such that existing social and political structures encourage patients to support these forms of treatment. Patients also felt at liberty to see their physicians more frequently, as they did not have the financial burdens with which United States citizens are charged. The Health and Society program inspired me to look more closely into the ways in which social structures influence individuals’ and societies’ experiences of health, illness and wellness.
Upon returning to Emory, I felt driven to extend my experience and keep working in the field of healthcare while finishing my studies in Human Health and Health Innovation, a program based on a collaboration between CSHH and Goizueta Business School aiming to train students to pursue careers in business and health. To satisfy this craving, I began working for locateyourcare, a digital health startup based in Atlanta. Through this experience, I was exposed to a different demographic than that of my study abroad experience, which challenged me to further expand my knowledge and skill set.
I started attending regional conferences and local events in the field of health technology and was introduced to the growing healthcare startup ecosystem in Atlanta. By May, my part-time job turned into a full-time opportunity for the summer. I spent the past several months down south engaging with the startup community and expanding my professional network. As I prepare to graduate, I look forward to new experiences that meet at the intersection of my academic and professional passions.
By: Teresa Douglas, PhD
At 9 am on a Saturday morning in August, you can find Dr. Teresa Douglas (PhD) in the center of Lake Lanier, though you may not recognize her among 20 others seated in a dragon boat as they paddle in sync with life jackets on. Dr. Douglas is a member of the Dragon Boat Atlanta (DBA) Breast Cancer Awareness paddling team. Formed in 2004 the team participates in festivals as “DBA Steel Magnolias". DBA consists mostly of breast cancer survivors, but also has members such as Dr. Douglas who, although not affected by breast cancer, paddle on the team as supporters.
Dragon boating is a 2000-year-old sport originating from ancient China where paddlers would race in canoe-style dragon shaped boats. In the past few decades, the sport has gained popularity among competitive sports athletes, but has also prospered among non-profit and hobby interest groups.
Dragon boating became a signature sport among breast cancer survivors because of Dr. Don McKenzie’s research efforts during the 1990s. Before the turn of the century, common medical belief held that upper body exercise and resistance training increased a cancer survivor’s risk of lymphedema - a common complication after breast cancer treatment. In 1996 Dr. McKenzie decided to test his doubts on this idea by recruiting breast cancer survivors for several months of dragon boat training to see if it impacted lymphedema risk. He selected dragon boat for several reasons,
“It uses predominantly upper extremity and trunk muscles, and the improvement in strength has a carry-over effect to day-to-day activity. The training intensity can be varied simply by pulling harder. This is important because, with a wide variety in ages and athletic abilities, each paddler can still experience a training effect...Dragon boating is a team sport that builds harmony and a feeling of togetherness.” (Abreast in a Boat, McKenzie 1998)
His results, published in 1998, contradicted the current medical beliefs about exercise and lymphedema. The women who had been dragon boating did not have an increased incidence of lymphedema or related health complications. They also showed improved quality of life. Not only did Dr. McKenzie’s work lead to a paradigm shift so that doctors now recommend resistance exercises to control lymphedema, but it inspired many within the breast cancer community to take up dragon boating. This sport has now grown among the breast cancer survivor community to be a symbol of hope and full life after breast cancer. In addition, the exercise and comradery essential to dragon boating benefit survivors’ physical health, emotional wellbeing, and provides a support network all while raising the banner of breast cancer awareness.
Dr. Douglas has seen this among the members of her Dragon Boat Atlanta team, which includes both women and men ages 28 to 75 years. Most have survived breast cancer, some more than once. Team members may have also survived other types of cancer, and faced other medical conditions. On her very first day in the Dragon Boat in 2012, Dr. Douglas noticed how this tough group of women (men would come to join the team later) could out paddle her with ease. However with more training and practices, Dr. Douglas learned to keep up with the team and now joins them whenever possible at nearby festival and race events. A few of the team women travel to dragon boat competitions across the U.S. and around the globe as breast cancer awareness ambassadors. Team member Nancy Crawford has competed in multiple countries and U.S. sites including the Phillippines, Israel, Australia, Puerto Rico and of course Atlanta GA.
“I was diagnosed with breast cancer in September 2002. I was a lucky one stage 0 to 1. Had a lumpectomy, 7 weeks of radiation and 5 years of tamoxifen. In 2004 I received an email telling me about this new sport. I stepped up and said yes. I haven't stopped… I love this new to me Dragon Boat sport, I have met so many wonderful women around the world. We have touched the lives of so many survivors letting them know there is quality life after cancer. I am now a member of four different teams. This year I raced with International Pink Sisters in Spain, Paddlers Without Boarders in Switzerland and Germany, Linked in Pink in Burlington Vermont. Then there is my home team we have paddled Mobile, AL and LaGrange, GA.“
Dr. Douglas likewise hopes to expand her dragon boating experience to include international competitions. “But that will come with time” she says smiling, “I love my job as a researcher and classroom instructor at Emory, and that takes priority. But to see the optimism, active lives, and competitive spirit of my teammates, particularly after coping with something as traumatic as cancer, is beyond encouraging.”
Linda Waggoner Evans, team captain and 2 time breast cancer survivor, feels truly blessed to be able to participate on Dragon Boat Atlanta's team,
“This group of people have become my support group and friends. The thrill of crossing the finish line the first time is fantastic. You realize as a cancer survivor you are still alive and there is much you can accomplish. You give it your all and are blessed to be part of a wonderful group of people all working together to achieve the same goal--crossing the finish line. “
You can always find the Dragon Boat Atlanta team, with Dr. Douglas on board, at Lake Lanier’s Annual Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival. This year the festival will be on Saturday September 9th with dozens of competing teams from around the region. The team will be hoping for a quick finish and win, but most of all hoping to show off the strength that comes after recovery from a life threatening illness.
Here’s wishing the Dragon Boat Atlanta paddlers a swell of good fortune and good health on September 9th and long into the future.
To learn more about Atlanta’s breast cancer awareness dragon boat team and its many paddlers, you can visit the Dragon Boat Atlanta website at http://www.dragonboatatlanta.org/ or check out the Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/atldragonboatteam/ or the Meetup page at https://www.meetup.com/Dragon-Boat-Atlanta-Meetup/.
McKenzie, Donald C. (August 1998). "Abreast in a Boat – a race against breast cancer" (PDF). Canadian Medical Association Journal. 159: 376–378.
Cheifetz, Oren, Louise Haley, and Breast Cancer Action. “Management of Secondary Lymphedema Related to Breast Cancer.” Canadian Family Physician 56.12 (2010): 1277–1284.
Courneya KS, Mackey JR, McKenzie DC. Exercise for breast cancer survivors: research evidence and clinical guidelines. Phys Sportsmed. 2002 Aug;30(8):33-42
Stefani L, Galanti G, Di Tante V, Klika RJ, Maffulli N. Dragon Boat training exerts a positive effect on myocardial function in breast cancer survivors. Phys Sports med. 2015 Jul;43(3):307-11
Mitchell TL, Yakiwchuk CV, Griffin KL, Gray RE, Fitch MI. Survivor dragon boating: a vehicle to reclaim and enhance life after treatment for breast cancer. Health Care Women Int. 2007 Feb;28(2):122-40
Awaken the dragon, 2011 video documentary. Director: Liz Oakley
This semester, we are excited to welcome Dr. Chris Eagle to the faculty of the Center for the Study of Human Health. He got his PhD in English Literature at U.C. Berkeley (2009). Prior to joining the faculty at Emory in 2017, Chris held positions at Caltech, DePaul University, and Western Sydney University in Australia. He has also been a visiting scholar at the Ecole Normale in Paris. His primary scholarly focus is the role that speech and language disorders play in modern culture. For the past few years, he has focused on these topics primarily in terms of the interaction between literature and speech pathology in the 19th and 20th centuries. This led to 2 book projects (a monograph and an edited collection) where he looked at how various speech disorders (i.e. stuttering, aphasia, mutism, lisping, and tourettic speech) are portrayed in modern fiction. At Emory, Chris will be teaching in the areas of Medical/Health Humanities, Disability Studies, Linguistics, and Bioethics. His other areas of interest include cultural ideas about illness (in Literature, Philosophy, and Film), the history of neuroscience & neurolinguistics, and creative writing of illness and the body.
Today, we'd like to introduce and welcome three new students to the Human Health News Team. The News Team is comprised of engaged, thoughtful, smart Human Health students who work with Dr. Jennifer C. Sarrett, the managing editor of Destination HealthEU and a Lecturer for the Center for the Study of Human Health. The three students below are joining Taylor Eisenstein and Sarah Cardwell-Smith on the Human Health News Team
My name is Jolie Blair and I am a senior in the college. I am double majoring in Human Health and Theater Studies. I have an interest in public health, writing, and combining my two majors to inform the public on certain health issues.
Hello! My name is Lamar Greene. I am a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences studying Human Health with a concentration in Health Innovation at the Business School. I am originally from Richmond, Virginia where most of my family still lives. When I am not studying I enjoy writing poetry, listening to music, and hanging out with my friends. My primary interests in health include social determinants of health, reproductive health, and mental health. I am very excited to be joining the Health News Team!
I am senior pursuing a major in Human Health and a concentration in Health Innovation within the Goizueta Business School. I am passionate about integrating cutting edge technologies to prevent illness and promote well-being. Fueled by entrepreneurial spirit, I have immersed myself in Atlanta’s startup ecosystem. I have worked for a digital health startup that specializes in on-demand care and write for Hypepotamus, the go-to source for the south’s innovative tech and startup community.
By: Hannah Heitz
Recent news has reported on the growing number of mental health concerns on college campuses across the United States. While many colleges provide mental health resources, those resources are not adequately serving the population in need. According to the Center for Collegiate Mental Health at Pennsylvania State, this gap stems from the increasing awareness of mental health issues, not necessarily an increased prevalence. While the number of individuals with mental illness may not be increasing, more students are seeking services. Potentially, this trend could indicate that more students are aware of the importance of mental health and treatment may feel less stigmatizing. While this is a positive shift, it also means that many colleges do not have the capacity to serve all students seeking services.
As discussed in a previous article focusing on child mental health, only 45% of youth with mental disorders utilize treatment, which creates a problem that does not fade as youth continue into further education. Studies indicate that upwards of 53% of college students exhibit symptoms of moderate to severe depression and 52% exhibit symptoms of moderate to severe anxiety.
College is a time of transition and high stress as individuals learn to navigate life as an adult—balancing academics, social relationships, and personal well-being. Admission is getting more difficult at institutions across the US, and many students feel high pressure after acceptance. Not every student experiences the same stressors; some grapple with financial aid issues, family difficulties, and academic struggles, among numerous other challenges. Additionally, many individuals experience the initial symptoms of mental illnesses around the time students start college—around ages eighteen to twenty-two. Every stressor has a unique effect on the individual. Combined with genetics and other environmental factors, college is a place where many mental health issues come to the surface.
This is an urgent problem nationwide, and globally. While Emory offers a wide variety of resources, many students are still struggling to cope with mental health issues while at Emory. In addition to the services formally provided by the University many students have created groups to address mental health on campus. Emory Dark Arts utilizes a range of artistic expression in performances and in weekly meetings in order to express honest experiences of mental illness. Flourish Emory, an organization started through the Office of Health Promotion, takes a different approach and incorporates the tenets of positive psychology to promote well-being and implement preventive interventions, such as Happiness Boot Camp. While these two organizations are only two examples of the many students engaging with mental health on campus, they represent the increasing student engagement in addressing and improving mental health issues on Emory’s campus.
1: Center for Collegiate Mental Health. (2016, January). 2015 Annual Report (Publication No. STA 15-108).
2: Costello EJ, He JP, Sampson NA, Kessler RC, Merikangas KR. Services for adolescents with psychiatric disorders: 12-month data from the National Comorbidity Survey-Adolescent. Psychiatr Serv. 2014 Mar 1;65(3):359-66. doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.201100518
3: Downs, A., Boucher, L. A., Campbell, D. G., & Polyakov, A. (2017). Using the WHO–5 Well-Being Index to Identify College Students at Risk for Mental Health Problems. Journal of College Student Development, 58(1), 113-117.
4: Hunt, J., & Eisenberg, D. (2010). Mental health problems and help-seeking behavior among college students. Journal of Adolescent Health, 46(1), 3-10.