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: Jackie Glodener
With the rising rates of both acute and chronic disease, as well as the associated astronomical costs of healthcare, preventative healthcare is becoming our future. The Center for Health Discovery and Well-Being (CHDWB) is part of the Emory/Georgia Tech Predictive Health Institute and is working to further the field of predictive health, which is closely tied to preventative healthcare. The Center was established in 2005 as part of the Emory University Strategic Plan to integrate predictive health principles and health research.
The CHDWB was originally located at Emory Midtown until 2013 when the study moved over to the Emory University Hospital on the Clifton Road campus. Approximately 900 healthy people were invited to join the study, and over 750 people consented and were enrolled, most of who are Emory faculty, staff and some students. Enrollment closed in 2012. The remaining participants that signed up in 2012 will continue to participate in the study through 2017.
Participants in this longitudinal 5-year study are seen for annual visits. They complete online questionnaires and surveys before each visit to report health history, physical activity, medication and supplement use, spirituality, mental health, quality of life, stress, sleep issues, and others. The annual visit includes many health assessments including vital signs, a blood draw, and a urine sample. The visit measures more factors than a standard annual visit would. Skin caliper measurements are taken (pictured below) and waist-hip ratio is calculated, which can be used to predict disease risk. Other health measures taken at each visit include a cardiovascular ultrasound, treadmill test, bone density scan, and body composition measures (using the DEXA scanner). After the visit, participants receive a comprehensive Health Assessment report of all their data from all of their visits, which they can share with their Primary Care physician. These data points are interesting to look at over the length of the study, and allow the study participants to look at their personal health trends over time and evaluate their own health in a more holistic way.
When the study was based at Emory Midtown, the participants would meet with a Health Partner and set health goals. Participants were asked, “What do you want to focus on regarding your health?” Some participants might have wanted to lose weight, and others maybe wanted to control their diabetes or exercise more. The Health Partner would set up a schedule to keep in contact with the participant on a regular basis to see how they were doing with their health goals. Most participants had 3 or 4 years with a Health Partner, before that part of the program ended. Though participants don’t have the health partners anymore, they still come in for their annual visits and enjoy receiving the comprehensive Health Assessment report.
The study has had many positive effects so far. According to a recent report, the study participants showed improved health after only one year of participation- this included weight loss, lower blood pressure, decreased LDL- cholesterol, and improved mental health. This program contributed to the development of Emory’s Predictive Health minor, housed in the Center for the Study of Human Health. Undergraduate students pursing this minor can take classes related to preventative and predictive health. On the other end, the data and samples from the study are being used to make new discoveries. Researchers at Georgia Tech perform genetic analysis of the samples, analyze data from the study, and study metabolomics using the samples. Over 50 peer-reviewed papers and 2 books have resulted from the CHDWB study. Since the data request form has become available online, researchers can ask an endless number of questions by using the data from the CHDWB. By using the data from this study, we can learn how to change the paradigm of health in the United States and integrate preventative and predictive health into our daily lives.
I would like to thank both Greg Martin and Jane Clark, of the CHDWB, for their contributions to this blog.
Today's video features the work of Dr. Krish Sathian, Department of Neurology.
Student Producers: Naomi Maisel, Junior -Human Health and Anthropology & Sarah Howar , Senior- Biology, Anthropology and Human Biology
The ethnobotanical study “A comparison of traditional food and health strategies among Taiwanese and Chinese immigrants in Atlanta, Georgia, USA” conducted by Emory undergraduate Sandy Jiang and her mentor Dr. Cassandra Quave of the Center for the Study of Human Health was recently published in the Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine.
Immigrant health and traditional medicinal knowledge is of great importance to public and global health. Every individual comes with his or her own different cultural background, especially in medicinal system beliefs such as Chinese immigrants, who use traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). TCM is governed on the basis of homeostasis achieved through the balance of yin and yang energy. In this study, Jiang and Quave analyzed medicinal food usage and health preferences among Taiwanese and Chinese immigrants in the Atlanta community. They found significant differences in preference for Western and Eastern medicine, beliefs in the yin and yang system, usage of medicinal foods, and gardening for medicinal plants. This research highlights the importance of cultural competency training for allopathic medical practitioners who provide care to immigrant populations.
Students visit Dr. Quave in Basilicata province, Italy to learn about traditional medicine practices
This week Dr. Cassandra Quave and students from Emory University's study abroad program in Italy were highlighted by eScience Commons. The students recently visited Dr. Quave at her field site in the Vulture-Alto Brandano region of Basilicata province to learn more about the traditional medical practices of the Arbereshe ethnic minority in Italy who came to the region five centuries ago from Albania during the Ottoman invasion of their homeland.
Read more about their trip and Dr. Quave's work with the Arbereshe on the eScience Commons blog. To see photo's of the visit, please visit this Flickr page.
The Emory University Italian Studies Program, in collaboration with the Emory School of Medicine, Emory Center for Ethics, and Emory Center for the Study of Human Health offered an interdisciplinary course in Italian and Medical Humanities this summer. On June 15th, 2013, Dr. Cassandra Quave of Emory CSHH hosted the course participants and guests for a day of immersion in the traditional life-ways of the village of Ginestra, located in the Basilicata province in southern Italy. The group began the morning with a guided plant walk in the countryside surrounding the village, where they learned about the ethnobotanical importance of local plants. Next, they visited a local vineyard, where they learned about cultivated food plants and ate fresh mulberries off of the tree. In the shade of a grove of walnut trees, they were treated to a rare demonstration of how locals use dogs to hunt wild truffles.
Upon return the village, they enjoyed additional demonstrations in traditional ricotta cheese making and basket weaving. They visited the church of San Nicola, where they learned about the Albanian heritage of this small village and heard about the daily agro-pastoralist life from a 4th generation shepherd. The group then enjoyed a buffet of traditional local foods, including handmade pasta, bean soup, fried peppers, cured sausages, olives, local breads, local wines (including the Aglianico wine typical to this region of Italy), and a variety of local desserts. Lastly, the group visited the Borgo dei Sapori in Ginestra, which is a museum that documents the traditional means of wine making, oil pressing, medicinal plant processing, and wheat harvesting used historically in this territory.
We extend our deep thanks to the local government administration, linguistic institute, and cultural organization for organizing the luncheon and demonstrations of traditional life-ways for the students. We also thank the community of Ginestra as a whole for their hospitality and for sharing their cultural heritage with us.
Visit this website to view more photos of the day.
On March 26th, Dr. Yoon Hang John Kim, the founder and director of Georgia Integrative Medicine, shared his perspective with Emory undergraduates in "Introduction to Predictive Health and Society", a popular undergraduate course at Emory University that introduces students the science of health and healthcare research.
In the West, people are mostly treated with either medicine or surgery. As Dr. Kim, explains, his practice considers a variety of therapies drawn from both Western and Eastern cultures that give patients a much wider range of options to truly offer services that integrate these techniques, rather that just sampling from them.
A key aspect of Dr. Kim's message to the class was that some aspects of health cannot be explained by the Western, or biomedical, model of health and healthcare. He discusses three concepts of Eastern medicine—the Tao, Complexity, and Synergy—as alternative ways of thinking about health. Further, these alternative models can help us to improve patient care, as there is very rarely a single cause of disease. As Dr. Kim describes in the clip below, "genetics, behaviors, depression, and social support can all contribute to heart attack and you can't say one thing caused everything."
On June 15, 2013, Emory students enrolled in the interdisciplinary program in Italian and Medical Humanities will visit the village of Ginestra to learn about Arbëreshë history and medical traditions of the region. Ginestra is an Arbëreshë community founded in the second half of the fifteenth century. Located in the northern area of Basilicata in the Vulture area, it is home to about 750 inhabitants in the municipality.
The visiting students and professors will be guests of Dr. Cassandra Quave of the Emory Center for the Study of Human Health, the local administration of the municipality of Ginestra, the local language institute and cultural organization. Students will begin their day with a visit to a local vineyard and the Ethnobotanical Garden of Ginestra, where they will learn about local wild food and medicinal plants. After the lesson on local plants, students will be treated to a presentation on Arbëreshë history and experience a tasting of traditional foods. For the full announcement on this event, please visit the following news link (in Italian).
Dr. Cassandra Quave, CSHH Visiting Assistant Professor, is staying busy this summer on a medicinal plant collecting expedition in Italy. Quave’s field research site is located in southern Italy in the Vulture-Alto Bradano region of the Basilicata province. The local landscape is dominated by the dormant volcano Monte Vulture. The rolling hillsides below are covered with fields of wheat, olive groves and vineyards. She will be there in June and July to collect specimens of medicinal plants under study in the Human Health laboratory. When the plants arrive at the lab, members of Quave’s team will use the raw materials to create a series of plant extracts to be used in various drug discovery research projects underway at Emory. Natural products derived from medicinal plants represent a promising source of new drugs.
Keep calm and breathe on! Join us tonight at the Woodruff Library for meditation, yoga, and art therapy
Finals week can be stressful, and oftentimes we forget to take time to decompress and refocus. To help us overcome this, Taylor Werkema has organized an opportunity for students to participate in yoga, meditation, and art therapy tonight from 6 - 8pm in the Jones Room at the Woodruff Library.
To learn more about the event, watch the following video and see a full description on our Events page.