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: 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.
Emory University Hospital - which includes Wesley Woods Geriatric Hospital and the Orthopaedics & Spine Hospital - is once again named the best hospital in Georgia and metropolitan Atlanta by the U.S. News & World Report for 2013-2014. Emory University Hospital Midtown was named the 3rd best in metropolitan Atlanta and 4th in the state of Georgia.
To learn more about the rankings see this announcement from Emory University: http://news.emory.edu/stories/2013/07/us_news_hospital_rankings_2013/campus.html. To learn more about the U.S. News & World 2013-2014 Best Hospital Report, including detailed findings about and comparisons of hospitals across the nation, visit: http://health.usnews.com/best-hospitals/rankings.
Saturday, June 15, 2013, staff and patients at Emory University Hospital are holding a Be The Match Walk+Run 5K. The event will take place inside the hospital as a relay to raise awareness and money for blood and bone marrow stem cell transplants for patients with blood cancer.
To learn more about the preparations for this event, please view the video below.
Ear infections are the most common among preschool aged children, though can be difficult to distinguish between one caused by bacteria, and thus requiring antibiotics, and a case caused by a virus which will ultimately resolve without such treatment.
Dr. Wilbur Lam, assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University, is working with colleagues at the University of California, Berkeley, to develop a “Remotoscope”, an iPhone attachment and accompanying app that works as an otoscope. Using a phone equipped with the Remotoscope, a parent could snap images of the child’s inner ear over the course of the illness to aid physicians in diagnosing the cause of an infection, as well as use the images to determine whether or not to seek medical attention.
For more information about the device, please visit: http://news.emory.edu/stories/2012/09/remotoscope_for_ear_infections/campus.html.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded Emory with a $6 million grant to continue work towards an AIDS vaccine. The team, led by Bali Pulendran, PhD and Rafi Ahmed, PhD, includes researchers from across the university, including the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory Vaccine Center, and the Rollins School of Public Health.
The funding will go towards exploring how programming innate immunity can lead to protective antibodies against HIV in a nonhuman primate model, by using nanoparticles that mimic properties of the virus to illicit a response.
For more information about this research and the grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, please visit: http://news.emory.edu/stories/2012/09/gates_grant_for_aids_vaccine_research/campus.html.
Emory Vaccine Center researchers are exploring ways to overcome the “original antigenic sin”, a process in which the immune system produces the wrong antibodies after it has encountered multiple strains of the same virus. Using a mouse model, the team has been able to demonstrate that an vaccine adjuvant can be utilized to overcome the “original antigenic sin” with the flu virus. For more information about the discovery, please visit: http://news.emory.edu/stories/2012/08/flu_vaccines_original_sin/index.html.
In their 2012 guide to “America’s Best Hospitals”, U.S. News & World Report named Emory University Hospital the best hospital in both metro Atlanta and in the entire state of Georgia. Further, Emory University Hospital was ranked as a national care leader in five specialties: cancer; cardiology and heart surgery; geriatrics; neurology and neurosurgery; and psychiatry.
The full details about Emory University Hospital’s rating is available through the U.S. News & World Report website.
A joint study conducted by researchers at the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University and Georgia Institute of Technology demonstrated the possibility of early diagnosis of lung cancer using a breathalyzer-like test. The team identified 75 unique breath volatile organic compounds (BVOCs) that were different in patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) compared to individuals without the condition.
To learn more about the study, as well as other lung cancer research conducted by the joint Emory University-Georgia Tech team, please read this article by the Emory News Center.
Early results from Emory study indicate progesterone may alleviate damage caused by traumatic brain injury
A team led by Emory University and financed by the National Institutes of Health is currently testing whether progesterone can reduce disability and mortality if administered within four hours after a patient experiences a traumatic brain injury. There are currently no medications approved for reducing the effects of traumatic brain injury. In an earlier preliminary trial with 100 participants, also conducted by Emory University, the 30-day mortality rate for patients receiving progesterone injections was 13% compared with 30% for patients receiving a placebo.
The current trial is expected to include 1,140 participants from trauma centers around the country over the next three years, though the early results will be evaluated this summer and if found highly effective could be put into clinical practice earlier than originally anticipated. For more details, and commentary from Dr. Donald Stein, neuroscientist and professor of emergency medicine at Emory University, please see the following New York Times report.