Up and down the ladder: The latest comings and goings

first_imgPharmalotUp and down the ladder: The latest comings and goings Ed Silverman Eisai hired Paul Hawthorne as senior vice president, US commercial, neurology business group;Anika Therapeutics hired Dr. Stephen Mascioli as chief medical officer;Anika Therapeutics hired Dana Alexander as chief operations officer;Anika Therapeutics hired Jean Bjerke as vice president of marketing;Lupin hired Kurt Nielsen as head of its Gavis-Novel Somerset business;Nuvo Pharmaceuticals hired Jesse Ledger as vice president, business development;Athenex hired Dr. David Cutler as vice president of clinical development;Ra Pharmaceuticals hired Simon Read as chief scientific officer;AAT Research hired Wolfgang Storf as chief executive officer;PhaseBio Pharmaceuticals hired Dr. John Lee as chief medical officer;PhaseBio Pharmaceuticals hired John Sharp as chief financial officer;Tris Pharma hired Sharon Clarke as chief commercial officer;Aimmune Therapeutics hired Douglas Sheehy as general counsel;InCarda Therapeutics hired Dr. Luiz Belardinelli as chief medical officer;ImmunoGen said Daniel Junius will retire as chief executive officer and president;Sorrento Therapeutics hired Kevin Herde as executive vice president and chief financial officer;Veloxis Pharmaceuticals said Johnny Stilou will step down as executive VP and chief financial officer;Remedy Pharmaceuticals hired Dr. Thomas Zimmerman Jr. as vice president, medical affairs;PharmacyChecker.com hired Kelly Ann Barnes as VP of pharmacy verification and information;Intarcia Therapeutics hired Anthony Hurley as VP, global commercial manufacturing and operations. Hired someone new and exciting? Promoted a rising star? Finally solved that hard-to-fill spot? Share the news with us, and we’ll share it with others. That’s right. Send us your changes, and we’ll find a home for them. Don’t be shy. Everyone wants to know who is coming and going, especially with all the ongoing layoffs. Despite the downsizing, there is movement. Here are some of the latest comings and goings. Recognize anyone?And here is our regular feature in which we highlight a different person each week. This time around, we note that Pacira Pharmaceuticals hired Robert Weiland as chief commercial officer. Most recently, he was vice president of strategy at Baxter International. Before that, he was vice president for commercial operations and strategic analytics at Takeda Pharmaceuticals. He also spent 14 years at Abbott Laboratories.Xenon Pharmaceuticals hired Raymond Winquist as head of translational research;advertisement Alex Hogan/STAT @Pharmalot About the Author Reprintscenter_img Tags AstellasEisaihirings By Ed Silverman April 8, 2016 Reprints [email protected] Pharmalot Columnist, Senior Writer Ed covers the pharmaceutical industry. Warp Drive Bio hired Alan Rigby as chief scientific officer;Astellas hired Joseph Fleishaker as VP, clinical pharmacology and exploratory development;advertisementlast_img read more

Peter Walter just won the Breakthrough Prize. His work? Trying to heal human brains

first_img Walter’s studies of ISRIB, and one other conducted in England, have shown that it does not damage the pancreas in the short term. But long-term use of the molecule, as might be needed for chronic disease, has yet to be studied.The unfolded protein response “is constantly working in your cells to remove misfolded proteins. That’s why we should be careful,” said Jeroen Hoozemans, a researcher at VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, who has studied the mechanism’s role in neurodegenerative diseases for the past decade. “You can also change the normal function of the cell.”Hoozemans, who focuses largely on Alzheimer’s disease, is as excited as anyone about the potential of unfolded protein response to yield new therapeutic pathways. “It gives new hope for drug targets,” he said. But he cautioned that the field is so new, it’ll likely take at least a decade before any such drug could even begin to be tested in humans.Despite the thousands of papers that have been published on the unfolded protein response since its discovery, many uncertainties remain  — including what parts of it should be targeted for different diseases and when therapy might be most fruitful in diseases that can unfold over decades.That challenge will involve subtle, careful work to unlock secrets within the deepest working of cells.Walter can’t wait. But he is excited about the myriad ways ISRIB might help damaged brains. He’s now working with Susanna Rosi, an associate professor in the department of physical therapy at UCSF, to test the molecule on brain trauma, a devastating injury with no pharmaceutical treatments.“There is absolutely nothing available,” Rosi said. “There’s a of work going on, on what to do in the emergency room, but nothing for people who suffered trauma some time ago and still have cognitive deficits.”While Walter and Rosi would not divulge details of their brain trauma studies because they are in the midst of publishing the work, they say the results on healing injured brains are extremely promising. And working on brains in all their complexity is exciting new intellectual territory for Walter.“We had no clue we would have to become neuroscientists,” said Walter. “I’m the naive new kid on the block, having a great deal of fun.”Like many who work with Walter, Rosi can’t seem to say enough good things about him and his surprisingly joyous approach to work and life. “He’s like my 4-year-old twins,” she said, “He has this basic, intrinsic curiosity that makes him brilliant and unique.”Rosi also said Walter is always willing to share the spotlight and credit — something she doesn’t see in all her colleagues. Walter, who has two grown daughters, is considered an especially good mentor to women. For example, he invited Sidrauski back to his lab after she stepped away from science completely for eight years to raise children. That’s a rare step in a highly competitive field where job possibilities are often curtailed after even short absences.Peter Walter walks toward his lab in Genentech Hall in the UCSF Mission Bay campus. Elizabeth D. Herman for STATPromise … as well as peril?Like many things Walter has worked on, this new challenge — tweaking the unfolded protein response enough to create a potent, yet safe, drug  — is not exactly going to be easy.The unfolded protein response is so central to the basic functioning of cells that altering it can be dangerous. Any changes have major effects on organs, like the liver or pancreas, that secrete large numbers of proteins.A number of early attempts to alter the response using genetic knockouts and other molecules turned out to basically wipe out the pancreas of experimental animals. In some experiments, mice lost weight so suddenly and severely, they had to be euthanized. Related: Usha Lee McFarling This story was originally published Sept. 28, 2016. On Dec. 3, 2017, Peter Walter was awarded the Breakthrough Prize for his work with unfolded proteins. The story has been updated with that information.SAN FRANCISCO — The mice were decidedly smart.Normal mice put inside a watery maze took more than a minute to locate the submerged platform that would let them escape. But these mice — which had been injected with a curious new molecule — found it in an average of just 16 seconds.advertisement Privacy Policy Scientist’s drive for a cancer cure inspired by the father he doesn’t remember A cancer researcher races to find a cure — for his own incurable cancer Some outside scientists remain skeptical. They warn that interfering with vital cellular mechanisms, as ISRIB seems to do, could lead to a host of dangerous side effects. They caution that it will be years, or possibly decades, before it’s ready for testing in humans.But Walter is fascinated — some might say obsessed — with the tiny molecule his lab discovered.ISRIB, he believes, just may hold the power to rejuvenate and heal the aging or damaged brain.“It’s incredibly exciting,” Walter said during an interview in a cactus-filled office overlooking the the University of California, San Francisco’s Mission Bay campus. “What we’ve done for sure is opened up a pathway that’s terribly important.”His work in this realm was recently honored with the Breakthrough Prize, a $3 million award for life sciences innovation handed out at a star-studded ceremony, dubbed “the Oscars of science,” in Silicon Valley.Walter is not your stereotypical biochemist. A German by birth, he has a constant smile and bubbly and infectious enthusiasm for his work. He calls certain cell mechanisms “cute.” With gray hair, twinkling blue eyes, and a penchant for wearing red shirts, he looks a bit like Kris Kringle — but slimmer, and with Birkenstocks. In his free time, Walter woodworks and sculpts.One chair in his office is permanently occupied by the lab mascot: a giant stuffed unicorn named Serendipity.This whimsy and creative spark, coupled with a relentless curiosity, is all part and parcel of what colleagues say is Walter’s stone cold brilliance.“If all of us were like Peter, we would have solved all of the diseases by now. And all the problems in biology,” said Nahum Sonenberg, a molecular biologist at McGill University who has known Walter for three decades and collaborated with him to see what effect ISRIB had on the cognitive abilities of mice.Serendipity, a stuffed unicorn meant to represent the serendipity of scientific discoveries, sits in Walter’s office along with a representation of the molecule he is studying. Elizabeth D. Herman for STATFrom slobbering cows to a crucial discoveryWalter knew he wanted to be a chemist by the age of 12. His interest was sealed by years of working in his father’s West Berlin drogerie, or drugstore, where medicines and household products were mixed. He did his own off-the-books mixing as well, leading to numerous and often explosive adventures.Walter planned to work in Germany, but first did a short exchange program at Vanderbilt University to improve his English. His project, working on a fungus that causes cows to slobber, didn’t really inspire. But he decided to stay after experiencing how much more scientific independence American labs offered.His application was at first rejected, but he eventually became a a PhD student in the lab of Rockefeller University biologist Dr. Günter Blobel, who won a Nobel Prize for work discovering how proteins find their correct locations in a cell. (Walter still sometimes shows his rejection letter as a slide during talks.)Walter played a major role in that discovery, then in 1983 went on to start his own lab at UCSF, where he spent decades studying yeast to unravel the workings of a cellular mechanism called “the unfolded protein response.” It’s a critical quality control mechanism; when it goes awry, it can lead to a host of diseases in humans, including cancer. That news startled Peter Walter. A 61-year-old biochemist, he’d spent his life, and built a sterling reputation, uncovering the workings of a critical quality control mechanism in cells.He was immersed in the next step — trying to manipulate that mechanism to heal damaged brains — when a member of his lab called his attention to this unusual molecule. And now, here it was, apparently making mice very smart.The discovery touched off a scientific whirlwind: A secretive Silicon Valley company dedicated to prolonging the human lifespan has scooped up rights to the now-patented molecule, which Walter named ISRIB. Labs are scrambling to see if it might blunt neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, or reverse injuries from brain trauma. Word of the compound has even reached the communities of “brain hackers” who whip up chemical cocktails in the hopes of boosting longevity or brainpower. To Walter’s dismay, some are buying ISRIB online and ingesting it, long before it’s been extensively tested.advertisement The work has netted Walter and co-discoverer Kazutoshi Mori of Japan a slew of biomedicine’s most prestigious awards, including the Lasker. The citation for the $1 million Shaw prize the men won in 2014 called the discovery “one of the most fascinating detective stories of molecular cell biology.”Their names regularly surface on lists of those expected to win a Nobel Prize in chemistry or medicine. But for Walter, that’s all old news.He’s moved on to ISRIB.It was Walter’s own diagnosis of neck cancer in 2009 that helped shape this second stage of his career. Walter doesn’t like discussing the cancer and the treatment, except to say it was perfectly awful. His friends say he endured the disease with the characteristic optimism he has always brought to the lab bench. With his keen insight on the inner workings of cells, though, Walter was exasperated at how little scientists seem to really know about why cancer cells grow out of control.Walter’s cancer is now in remission — and he is more determined than ever to work on tangible discoveries that can improve human health.“It definitely influenced me,” said Walter. “The one thing it drives home is that life is not endless. If you want to do something important, you have to go ahead and do it.”What he wants to do now is tweak the cellular mechanism he helped discover in order to fix the human brain.A curious molecule, snatched from the discard pileThe unfolded protein response is critical to how our bodies work.Our cells are continually streaming out proteins to carry out all manner of functions, from fighting off bacteria to making new memories. Proteins only work because their highly specific shapes allow them to carry out their tasks. If a cell starts putting out misshapen proteins, the unfolded protein response kicks in to stem the chaos by slowing production of new proteins and destroying the sloppy ones.If errant proteins keep appearing, the cell commits suicide. “If the cell cannot fix the problem, the cell is killed,” Walter said. “It’s a life and death decision.”It’s also a matter of exquisite balance. If the response is overactive, too many cells can die, possibly leading to diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and diabetes. If it goes awry in other ways, cancer cells can proliferate. About the Author Reprints Related: Dr. Peter Walter spent decades understanding the inner workings of the cell. His new goal: healing damaged brains. Elizabeth D. Herman for STAT Please enter a valid email address. Related:center_img Related: Newsletters Sign up for Cancer Briefing A weekly look at the latest in cancer research, treatment, and patient care. Related: Leave this field empty if you’re human: Walter is not the only one interested in manipulating the unfolded protein response to fight disease: A handful of labs around the world are in the hunt. The Karolinska Institute in Stockholm this month held a Nobel Forum on the topic, called “Unfolded Proteins: From Basic to Bedside” with Walter as the kickoff speaker.The mechanism is a complex response that involves numerous cellular pathways. To tweak it, Walter needed a molecule that could somehow gum up the mechanism. So he orchestrated a vast screening of 100,000 mostly synthetic compounds, funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, where he is also an investigator.He set up a test with cells that lit up when the unfolded protein response pathway was functioning normally. If a molecule interfered with the pathway, the light went out.Only one compound of the 100,000 turned the light out, Walter said. And that one  — ISRIB  — was nearly thrown out because it was not considered soluble enough to be a good candidate for a drug.But the postdoc working on the project, Carmela Sidrauski, pulled it out of the discard pile because it seemed effective even at very low concentrations.“Everything relies on the fact that she was crazy enough to ignore the experts,” Walter said.Walter is so entranced with the molecule, he even made a sculpture of it, which sits in his office. It’s two-fold symmetrical, which means it has two arms that may help it hold on tighter to its binding site  “It’s a beautiful little molecule,” he said. He named it ISRIB for integrated stress response inhibitor.When they started to work with ISRIB, the scientists found it was even more powerful than they’d expected. In the LabPeter Walter just won the Breakthrough Prize. His work? Trying to heal human brains A dogged quest to fix broken spinal cords pays off with new hope for the paralyzed Memory researchers were rebuffed by science, and came roaring back Seeking an edge, these brain hackers mix up risky chemical cocktails for breakfast It not only altered the unfolded protein response, it also affected other crucial chemical pathways triggered when cells react to major stressors such as UV light, viruses, and iron deficiencies. In all these situations, and also when there are too many sloppy proteins, cells respond by switching off a single protein called elF2 alpha.Walter’s colleague Sonenberg had previously linked elF2 alpha to memory function in mice. So the two men decided to study what effect ISRIB would have on the brains of mice.It was these tests that showed mice injected with ISRIB were three times faster than normal ones at locating a submerged platform. They were also better at remembering cues associated with unpleasant stimuli. It appears, Walter said, that inactivating elF2 alpha acts as a “brake” on forming memories. Inserting ISRIB blocks the brake, so memories can form.“Mice learn better,” he said. “They learn significantly better.”A PhD student works in the tissue culture room in the Walter Laboratory. Elizabeth D. Herman for STATA drug to help dementia patients — or SAT takers? Walter and others say ISRIB may be a kind of double-whammy drug, if it pans out in further studies. It might prevent the cell deaths that seem to be a factor in neurodegenerative disease. And it might also help improve the memory problems those diseases cause.Biotech firms are taking notice.Calico, a secretive research and development company founded by Google with a mission to extend life, is paying UCSF an undisclosed amount of money to license the molecule.The company hired Sidrauski, the postdoc who first pulled ISRIB out of the trash pile, to lead a team in developing therapies from the molecule. Sidrauski declined to comment for this article.Walter is hoping the molecule may turn into a drug to benefit those with memory disorders, such as Alzheimer’s or dementia. He realizes, since it made healthy mice smarter,  that it also could potentially serve as a cognitive enhancer — something parents give children before SAT tests, for example.That’s not his end goal, though: “We’re not here to give it to the Tiger Moms,” he said.He was surprised to see that there is already chatter on the Internet from people buying ISRIB and administering it to themselves. While he jokes about “Breaking Bad” being a good career choice for a chemist, Walter strongly advises people against using the little-tested molecule on their own. By Usha Lee McFarling Sept. 28, 2016 Reprints @ushamcfarling [email protected] National Science Correspondent Usha covers the toll of Covid-19 as well as people and trends behind biomedical advances in the western U.S. Tags Alzheimer’sbraincancermemorylast_img read more

Shootings kill or injure 19 U.S. children each day

first_img“Public health research is fundamental for understanding the problem and developing scientifically sound solutions,” said the study’s lead author, Katherine Fowler of the CDC. HealthShootings kill or injure 19 U.S. children each day CHICAGO — Shootings kill or injure at least 19 U.S. children each day, with boys, teenagers and blacks most at risk, according to a government study that paints a bleak portrait of persistent violence.The analysis of 2002-14 U.S. data is billed as the most comprehensive study on the topic. While it mostly confirms previously released information, it underscores why researchers view gun violence as a public health crisis.The report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention involves children and teens through age 17. It was compiled by analyzing death certificates and emergency room reports. Among the findings published Monday in the journal Pediatrics:advertisement Leave this field empty if you’re human: An accompanying editorial in the journal said it’s “both reasonable and wise” for doctors to talk about firearms safety with parents, particularly those who keep guns at home.“It may help to remind ourselves and our parents that our message on safe gun storage in homes with children is similar to that of gun rights and sport shooting groups,” wrote Dr. Eliot Nelson of University of Vermont Children’s Hospital.— Lindsey Tanner Privacy Policy Signs and votive candles stand at a makeshift memorial as it grows at the site of a fatal police shooting of a 17-year-old girl in Denver in 2015. David Zalubowski/AP Newsletters Sign up for Morning Rounds Your daily dose of news in health and medicine. By Associated Press June 19, 2017 Reprints About the Author Reprints Tags public health Associated Press Please enter a valid email address. The yearly toll is nearly 1,300 deaths and almost 6,000 nonfatal gunshot wounds — most of them intentional.Most deaths result from homicides and suicides, while assaults caused most of the nonfatal injuries.The annual death rate is nearly 2 out of 100,000 children — the rate is double for blacks — while nonfatal gunshot wounds injure almost 8 out of 100,000 kids each year.Suicides increased from 2007-14, from 325 to 532. The suicide rate increased 60 percent over those years to 1.6 per 100,000. One-third of these kids were depressed and most had experienced a recent crisis, including relationship breakups and problems at school.Homicides fell from 2007-14, from 1,038 to 699, the rate dropping by 36 percent to less than 1 per 100,000.Most unintentional deaths resulted from playing with guns and unintentionally pulling the trigger. Most victims were bystanders although among kids up to age 10 in this group, more than 40 percent accidentally shot themselves.APThe report notes that unintentional shooting deaths may be significantly underreported, which was highlighted in a report by The Associated Press and USA TODAY Network. The news organizations found during the first six months of 2016, minors died from accidental shootings — at their own hands, or at the hands of other children or adults — at a pace of one every other day, far more than limited federal statistics indicate.Congress has prohibited the CDC from using federal money to advocate or promote gun control. CDC spokeswoman Courtney Lenard said the congressional directive “does not prohibit CDC from conducting public health research into gun violence” and the agency continues to do so.advertisementlast_img read more

Are people really falling ill from touching fentanyl? In most cases, scientists say no

first_img Privacy Policy Related: Tags opioids Police officers hospitalized after incidental exposure to fentanyl. A Florida child fatally overdosed. In communities around the country, such headlines are stoking fears that a momentary brush with a tiny amount of fentanyl powder could prove fatal.The synthetic opioid, blamed for increasing numbers of overdose deaths across the U.S., is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. But experts consulted by STAT said many of the reported incidents appear to be false alarms that run counter to scientific fact and exaggerate the risks.The American College of Medical Toxicology recently issued a position paper concluding that, based on what’s been publicly released, none of the recent incidents involving first responders is consistent with opioid toxicity. The doctors, who reviewed a handful of cases, said they are not challenging the truthfulness of the officers involved. Rather, they are questioning whether their reports are verified cases of poisonings that carry the hallmarks of opioid exposure.advertisement US and China agree to work to block the potent drug fentanyl from coming into America By Casey Ross Aug. 9, 2017 Reprints Casey Ross Related: Fentanyl cannot penetrate the skin on its own. It needs moisture. That’s why, in clinical care, patients are given fentanyl patches to aid in absorption and relieve pain. The position paper by the American College of Medical Toxicology reported that, even if a large area of the body were covered with fentanyl patches, it would take 14 minutes to transmit a therapeutic dose of 100 micrograms, let alone an overdose.“For the fentanyl patch to work, you have to put a lot of fentanyl in the patch. It has to be moist and it has to be in contact with the skin for a long period of time, in a special liquid,” said Stolbach. “Those aren’t the conditions that are going to occur when somebody is incidentally exposed.”One of the most widely reported incidental overdoses occurred in East Liverpool, Ohio, where officer Chris Green became ill following a traffic stop involving drugs. Green has recovered and returned to work.The city’s police chief, John Lane, said he believes Green’s illness resulted from opioid exposure, regardless of the questions raised by toxicologists. Lane said a screening test confirmed that Green had opioids in his body, but the exact method of exposure remains unclear.He said Green collapsed moments after he brushed a small amount of powder off his shirt at the police station, after the traffic stop was over.“We don’t know if he brushed it off with his hand or rubbed his eye,” Lane said. “We think what may have happened is that he put on that Purel or Germ-X stuff, and that got it wet and maybe he absorbed it that way. We’re not sure. All we know is he overdosed from it.”The medical toxicologists group specifically warns that alcohol-based hand sanitizers should never be used, because they are ineffective in removing fentanyl and may increase drug absorption. The organization said officers should take basic precautions to prevent the remote risk of poisoning through skin contact, such as wearing nitrile gloves and immediately washing with copious amounts of water if contact does occur. Leave this field empty if you’re human: Can inhaling fentanyl cause an overdose?Toxicologists said the possibility of accidental inhalation presents a higher risk, especially in poorly ventilated spaces where public safety officials suspect fentanyl is dispersed in the air.Calello said inhaling fentanyl — or ingesting it — puts it in contact with mucous membranes in the nose or mouth, providing the drug a way into the bloodstream, which can result in poisoning.She added, however, that such circumstances are unlikely to arise during a traffic stop or in other open-air environments. “Handling an overdose victim is not going to entail a plume of aerosolized drug,” Calello said.It would take prolonged exposure to a large amount of airborne fentanyl to cause an overdose, according to the medical toxicologists. Their report references safety standards for industrial workers who manufacture fentanyl. “At the highest airborne concentration encountered by workers, an unprotected individual would require nearly 200 minutes of exposure to reach a dose of 100 mcg of fentanyl,” the report states. (100 mcg, or micrograms, is enough to have a therapeutic effect but not enough to cause an overdose.)“We would expect in an industrial fentanyl production plant there’s going to be more fentanyl in the air than there would be at any crime scene,” Hopkins’s Stolbach said.Still, in cases where first responders suspect a high concentration of airborne opioids, the medical toxicologists group recommends that officers use a respirator, in addition to wearing water-resistant coveralls to block skin exposure.Why are so many officers falling ill if the risks of poisoning are so low?Toxicologists said officers may indeed be getting sick following exposure to fentanyl or other substances, but that does not necessarily mean the drugs are the cause. Why fentanyl is deadlier than heroin, in a single photo Establishing the truth in these cases is not just a matter of setting the record straight, but of preventing hysteria and ensuring public safety. While accidental exposure to opioids can take lives, so can undue fear of the risks. For first responders, taking extra precautions could delay lifesaving care for people suffering overdoses and distract from more pressing threats, such as a suspect at a crime scene.“We want to prevent unintended consequences,” said Dr. Diane Calello, medical director of the New Jersey Poison Information and Education System. “If a law enforcement professional is wearing a lot of unnecessary protective gear in a situation that requires an agile response, that in and of itself is a safety issue.”Conversely, failing to take proper precautions could also result in harm. So what’s the right balance?STAT spoke to several toxicologists and law enforcement officials to examine the underlying science of fentanyl exposure and the extent of the risk it poses to first responders and the public.Can fentanyl poison officers and others through incidental skin contact?In several incidents, officers have reportedly fallen ill after a powdered form of fentanyl came in contact with their skin or clothing.Although ingesting a pinch of fentanyl powder can be fatal, several toxicologists said contact with intact skin is extremely unlikely to cause opioid toxicity, which can occur only if the substance enters the bloodstream.“If you have fentanyl powder on your hand for five or 10 minutes, it’s inconceivable that that would be sufficient to cause you to have an overdose,” said Dr. David Juurlink, a toxicologist at the University of Toronto. Newsletters Sign up for Daily Recap A roundup of STAT’s top stories of the day. About the Author Reprints Related: The only way to confirm a case of poisoning is to conduct a urine or blood test, or to verify that symptoms were reversed by a dose of naloxone. But such evidence is lacking in many of the cases reported around the country.“The common theme is that there is no biochemical confirmation,” Stolbach said. In most cases, the media is reporting that officers are being hospitalized, but hospitalization may just be a precaution.Juurlink said the real culprit in these cases may be a phenomenon known as the nocebo effect, in which the mere suggestion that a substance can be harmful causes people to suffer negative effects after exposure. In medical research, for example, being informed of side effects related to a pill or procedure can bring on real-life symptoms.“If in a moment of panic, a person sees powder on their skin and they’ve read reports on the internet about people having overdosed, you could see how that might cause someone to at least believe they’ve had an overdose,” Juurlink said.Indeed, some of the symptoms reportedly suffered by public safety officers, such as a racing heart, dizziness, and anxiety, are more consistent with panic than opioid poisoning. “If anything, people with opioid poisoning would have a slow heart rate,” Stolbach said.Toxicologists said law enforcement officials should be trained to recognize the objective symptoms of opioid poisoning so they can deliver the opioid antidote naloxone when appropriate. Those symptoms would take hold within a few minutes of exposure. A person would become sleepy and lethargic and start breathing at an abnormally slow rate.“That’s the typical progression,” Calello said. “From awake to sleepy, to asleep, to unconscious. The things that have been described in the news really are not what we typically see with patients who get opioids.” @caseymross HealthAre people really falling ill from touching fentanyl? In most cases, scientists say no “A lot of the symptoms are nondescript, such as vague dizziness, that don’t concern opioid poisoning,” said Dr. Andrew Stolbach, a physician at Johns Hopkins Medical Center and lead author of the paper. “And in a lot of the cases, the way that they were exposed doesn’t make sense, like brushing a small amount of powder off a uniform.” After an officer accidentally overdoses on fentanyl, a police chief calls for stronger laws [email protected] While most of the reports have involved first responders, some have involved young children, including the fatal overdose of a 10-year-old Florida boy who was found to have a mixture of heroin and fentanyl in his body. How he came in contact with opioids remains unknown, although authorities have raised the possibility that he encountered it at a community pool or walking through a neighborhood known to be a hotbed of opioid trafficking.advertisement National Technology Correspondent Casey covers the use of artificial intelligence in medicine and its underlying questions of safety, fairness, and privacy. He is the co-author of the newsletter STAT Health Tech. Please enter a valid email address. Hyacinth Empinado/STATlast_img read more

HHS picks members from the public for new mental health commission

first_img Washington Correspondent Lev Facher covers the politics of health and life sciences. HHS picks members from the public for new mental health commission [email protected] Unlock this article — plus daily intelligence on Capitol Hill and the life sciences industry — by subscribing to STAT+. First 30 days free. GET STARTED About the Author Reprints Daily reporting and analysis The most comprehensive industry coverage from a powerhouse team of reporters Subscriber-only newsletters Daily newsletters to brief you on the most important industry news of the day STAT+ Conversations Weekly opportunities to engage with our reporters and leading industry experts in live video conversations Exclusive industry events Premium access to subscriber-only networking events around the country The best reporters in the industry The most trusted and well-connected newsroom in the health care industry And much more Exclusive interviews with industry leaders, profiles, and premium tools, like our CRISPR Trackr. GET STARTED STAT+ is STAT’s premium subscription service for in-depth biotech, pharma, policy, and life science coverage and analysis. Our award-winning team covers news on Wall Street, policy developments in Washington, early science breakthroughs and clinical trial results, and health care disruption in Silicon Valley and beyond. What is it? What’s included?center_img Alex Hogan/STAT WASHINGTON — The Department of Health and Human Services on Wednesday appointed 14 people from outside government to join a new commission tasked with addressing serious mental illness throughout the United States.The Interdepartmental Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee, which consists of 10 leaders or designees from federal departments and 14 outside experts, was created via the 21st Century Cures Act, which then-President Barack Obama signed into law in December. By Lev Facher Aug. 16, 2017 Reprints Lev Facher Log In | Learn More Politics @levfacher Tags Donald Trumpmental healthpolicypoliticsSTAT+last_img read more

Doctors must respond to changes in the politics of climate change

first_img About the Authors Reprints By Gary W. Yohe and Kristie L. Ebi Aug. 22, 2017 Reprints Gary W. Yohe [email protected] Health was top of mind for policymakers in 2007 when the Supreme Court decided that the Environmental Protection Agency cannot “abdicate its responsibility under the Clean Air Act to regulate the emissions of four greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide,” because they “endanger public health and welfare.” The court noted in this decision that the “EPA does not dispute the existence of a causal connection between man-made greenhouse gas emissions and global warming.” Nothing had changed seven years later when the court decided that the EPA can regulate greenhouse emissions from all traditional sources. Even the court’s stay on implementing the Clean Power Plan in 2016 on issues of cost did not question the EPA’s acceptance of the connection between human activity and endangerment that was written into law by the 2007 opinion. Please enter a valid email address. Watch: Climate change: It’s the mother of all human health issues A section of an ice field is seen from NASA’s Operation IceBridge research aircraft above Ellesmere Island, Canada. The ice fields of Ellesmere Island are retreating due to warming temperatures. Mario Tama/Getty Images In short, the leadership in Washington has demonstrated that it is comfortable with huge budget reductions for research into climate change at the EPA, other agencies, and in the executive branch, ignoring the consequences of those reductions for America’s families and its communities. Six months into the new administration, the outlook is bleak for the future of public health.Members of the climate science community, as well as growing numbers of state and local governments and major corporations, have begun resisting the administration’s anti-science policies. Medical professionals should follow their lead.Health workers must expand their recognition and support of the EPA’s role as a public health agency. Now more than ever, they should participate in the lawsuits like Colorado’s recent successful action against the EPA’s plan to reconsider the Obama administration rules seeking to clamp down on methane leaks. These types of suits will continue to proliferate if the EPA tries to stop regulating greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane. As individual health care workers, as groups in larger practices and networks, and through their professional organizations, it would be extraordinarily helpful for medical professionals to prepare and file up-to-date amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) briefs at every opportunity. And there are already plenty of opportunities! Privacy Policy Ten years ago, public health was a leading reason why lawmakers and jurists united to raise the issue of climate change. Their efforts stand severely threatened today. We call on medical professionals to redouble their efforts to keep the health effects of climate change front and center in the national debate over budgeting priorities.National reviews of over 20 years of rigorous research tell us that climate change is a leading driver of increases in heat-caused or heat-exacerbated illness and death, as well as mortal risk from an assortment of calamitous extreme weather events that are already being observed in every corner of the United States. This is one of the fundamental conclusions of the Third National Climate Assessment that was released by the White House in 2014.Public health research is one of the casualties of the recent partisan policy debates on climate science and the war over international agreements. Because mortality and morbidity estimates show dire connections with climate change indicators like heat waves, episodes of unexpected flash flooding, extreme storm events, and the like, this retreat from the climate reality is a critical mistake that will cost this country lives and billions of dollars.advertisementcenter_img @uwglobalchange Kristie L. Ebi First OpinionDoctors must respond to changes in the politics of climate change Tags advocacyglobal healthWhite House [email protected] Newsletters Sign up for First Opinion A weekly digest of our opinion column, with insight from industry experts. Leave this field empty if you’re human: Clinicians can be on the front lines of the resistance by making it known to their patients and the public that climate change is an enormous risk to the future of public health. By continuing their own education on the growing climate-related health risks by keeping up with current literature and current events and by tracking climate-related health issues in their own offices, they can educate themselves and their patients about their personal climate-related risks and about the even more dangerous, irresponsible, and politically driven national risks of negative action on climate change emanating from Washington. Informing patients, one by one, of the health risks of a changing climate is surely one of the simplest and most valuable ways that clinicians can take productive action.The combined medical community can play a pivotal role in opposing efforts to dismiss or ignore the value of rigorous climate-change science. Speaking up against climate denial isn’t just scientifically accurate. It is essential for promoting and protecting the health of all Americans, today and in the future.Gary W. Yohe, Ph.D., is professor of economics and environmental studies at Wesleyan University and lead author for various chapters in the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports. Kristie L. Ebi, Ph.D., is professor of global health and environmental and occupational health sciences at the University of Washington, past head of the technical support unit on impacts and adaptation for the Fifth Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and a lead author of health chapters in various other IPCC reports. Related: But things have changed since Jan. 20, 2017. President Trump signaled his intention to pull the United States out of the Paris Agreement. He and others have quoted “alternative facts” to support the decision by referencing questionable economic analyses and misrepresenting the efficacy of this accord. Scott Pruitt, the new EPA administrator, refuses to accept human contributions to the observed warming of the climate while, as USA Today has reported, his staff methodically scrubs references to climate change from the agency website. In his defense of the president’s decision on the Paris Agreement, Pruitt said in a televised interview with CNBC, “I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact. So no, I would not agree that it’s [carbon dioxide] a primary contributor to the global warming that we see. But we don’t know that yet, we need to continue to debate, continue the review and analysis.”advertisementlast_img read more

Janet Woodcock wants you to know the FDA is not picking speed over safety in drug approvals

first_img About the Author Reprints Janet Woodcock wants you to know the FDA is not picking speed over safety in drug approvals Unlock this article — plus daily intelligence on Capitol Hill and the life sciences industry — by subscribing to STAT+. First 30 days free. GET STARTED Log In | Learn More Tags drug developmentpolicypoliticsSTAT+ [email protected] Daily reporting and analysis The most comprehensive industry coverage from a powerhouse team of reporters Subscriber-only newsletters Daily newsletters to brief you on the most important industry news of the day STAT+ Conversations Weekly opportunities to engage with our reporters and leading industry experts in live video conversations Exclusive industry events Premium access to subscriber-only networking events around the country The best reporters in the industry The most trusted and well-connected newsroom in the health care industry And much more Exclusive interviews with industry leaders, profiles, and premium tools, like our CRISPR Trackr. Politics STAT+ is STAT’s premium subscription service for in-depth biotech, pharma, policy, and life science coverage and analysis. Our award-winning team covers news on Wall Street, policy developments in Washington, early science breakthroughs and clinical trial results, and health care disruption in Silicon Valley and beyond. Janet Woodcock, the director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation, at a congressional hearing in 2016. Tyrone Eatoncenter_img What is it? What’s included? By Lev Facher Nov. 14, 2017 Reprints WASHINGTON — What is the biggest difference in working at the Food and Drug Administration under its new commissioner, Scott Gottlieb?“Well, he’s making an announcement every day,” Janet Woodcock, the director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said at a STAT Plus subscriber event on Monday. “We have to scurry around and make sure we’re all lined up against all his announcements. ” GET STARTED @levfacher Washington Correspondent Lev Facher covers the politics of health and life sciences. Lev Facherlast_img read more

AIDS activist Mathilde Krim saved my life

first_img Dr. Mathilde Krim, the founding chair of amfAR, died on Monday at the age of 91. Evan Agostini/AP Mathilde Krim, an indefatigable fighter against the virus that causes AIDS and a stalwart champion of those infected with it, died this week at age 91. Her death is a loss for the HIV/AIDS community, and for me personally.Krim saved my life — although not exactly in a way I could have imagined — and it was more than a decade before I could tell her my story and thank her on behalf of so many others.In the spring of 1986, I noticed a purplish lesion on my calf. Fearing it was Kaposi’s sarcoma, a cancer inevitably linked to AIDS, my doctor biopsied it. The natural next step should have been a blood test for HIV, but my doctor jettisoned scientific protocol and instead told the lead pathologist that I was gay. In a rush to judgment, the pathologist wrongly determined that it was Kaposi’s.advertisement First OpinionAIDS activist Mathilde Krim saved my life Please enter a valid email address. Tags advocacyHIV/AIDSinfectious disease To end AIDS, we must tackle gender inequality Newsletters Sign up for First Opinion A weekly digest of our opinion column, with insight from industry experts. Related: At the time, doctors, like most Americans, “felt that this was a disease that resulted from a sleazy lifestyle, drugs or kinky sex — that certain people had learned their lesson and it served them right,” Krim told a reporter. With only my sexual orientation and a faulty biopsy to guide them, the team diagnosed me with AIDS. I was told to “go home and get used to the idea of dying.”I had never met Krim, a triple-threat cancer researcher, fundraiser, and activist, but I knew that she stood front and center in the fight against AIDS. In that era, with no effective treatment and a fatality rate close to 100 percent, my salvation — and that of tens of thousands of others infected with HIV — could come only from science. Krim, the founding chair of what was then called the American Foundation for AIDS Research (now known as amfAR), was the face and voice of that science. Having been diagnosed with AIDS, I looked to her as a savior.advertisementcenter_img Steven Petrow @stevenpetrow I eventually found my way to a specialist who had a large AIDS practice in San Francisco. Like Krim, this doctor believed in the scientific method and had a no-judgment policy about the sexual identity or practices of his patients. He performed an HIV test — it was negative. He sent the slides of my biopsy to a different lab, where pathologists scrutinized them through microscopes instead of interpreting my purple mark as the scarlet letter of AIDS.The bump on my calf turned out to be a dermatofibroma, a garden-variety skin lesion. I now had a correct diagnosis based on evidence, not fear or prejudice. I did not have AIDS.Those early years of the epidemic were a time when fear, not facts, drove public opinion. Near pandemonium ensued after it became known that Rock Hudson — who had only recently locked lips with his “Dynasty” co-star Linda Evans on prime time TV — had AIDS. In Arcadia, Fla., three hemophiliac boys infected with HIV had their house firebombed in an attempt to run them out of town. Even the once highly regarded and seemingly intelligent conservative commentator William F. Buckley advocated in the New York Times, “Everyone detected with AIDS should be tattooed …” much as the Nazis did to the Jews.Krim refused to be swayed by such attitudes. In fact, they seemed to spur her and, by extension, amfAR, to a deeper focus on public policy. In personal testimony to the National Commission on AIDS, she said frankly, “The AIDS crisis has also become a crisis of public confusion … and a moral crisis. … It is important that leadership in the AIDS crisis include countering prejudice and discrimination.”As a young gay man, terrified by both the plague and the political rhetoric, I found comfort in her words. When asked by a New York Times reporter in 1984 why she had gotten involved in this cause, she replied sharply, “Because I was incensed!” She added, ”So many young men were dying, mostly intelligent and sophisticated young men, some of the city’s best products. And many would be dying abandoned or alone because they were afraid to contact their families.” Leave this field empty if you’re human: When others seemed not to care, she was there. It didn’t matter that we didn’t know her. Krim knew us.In a Facebook post announcing her death, Peter Staley, a veteran AIDS activist, remembered Krim as his “greatest AIDS hero,” a warrior against homophobia and stigma, and a defender of science and public health. He called her a “mother-figure and mentor.” Those words resonate with me, and with so many others like me who for so long looked to Krim for hope.I finally met Krim a dozen years after my misdiagnosis, when I was hired to work with her on writing amfAR’s annual report. We had a series of meetings at her elegant townhouse in Manhattan. After completing my tasks, I thanked her for all she had done to save so many lives. In a high-backed chair, cigarette in hand, and her hair in that trademark golden bun, Krim waved off my gratitude. With a generosity of spirit that belongs to a past era, she praised many less famous men and women who had soldiered with her in the fight against AIDS, many of whom had died by that time. Krim ended our conversation by paraphrasing this quote of hers: “Most people start with this idea that they can’t do anything because ‘I’m only a little guy and I can’t have an effect on public policy.’ It’s not so. Everybody can do something.”Wise words then and now.Steven Petrow has written about the HIV/AIDS epidemic for more than three decades, including an oral history, “Dancing Against the Darkness: A Journey Across America in the Age of AIDS” (Lexington Books, 1990). He is now a columnist for USA Today, a contributing writer to the Washington Post, and a past president of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association. Privacy Policy By Steven Petrow Jan. 19, 2018 Reprints About the Author Reprintslast_img read more

Months after a sexual harassment scandal, OrbiMed’s banking another billion

first_img Damian Garde Mike Reddy for STAT Unlock this article by subscribing to STAT+ and enjoy your first 30 days free! GET STARTED About the Author Reprints National Biotech Reporter Damian covers biotech, is a co-writer of The Readout newsletter, and a co-host of “The Readout LOUD” podcast. Daily reporting and analysis The most comprehensive industry coverage from a powerhouse team of reporters Subscriber-only newsletters Daily newsletters to brief you on the most important industry news of the day STAT+ Conversations Weekly opportunities to engage with our reporters and leading industry experts in live video conversations Exclusive industry events Premium access to subscriber-only networking events around the country The best reporters in the industry The most trusted and well-connected newsroom in the health care industry And much more Exclusive interviews with industry leaders, profiles, and premium tools, like our CRISPR Trackr. Log In | Learn More By Damian Garde Feb. 22, 2018 Reprints What’s included? STAT+ is STAT’s premium subscription service for in-depth biotech, pharma, policy, and life science coverage and analysis. Our award-winning team covers news on Wall Street, policy developments in Washington, early science breakthroughs and clinical trial results, and health care disruption in Silicon Valley and beyond.center_img What is it? GET STARTED @damiangarde Business Months after being rocked by sexual harassment allegations, biotech’s largest investment fund is in process of raising $1 billion from investors, its largest offering to date, while the founder who was at the center of the controversy remains a partner at the firm.Legendary biotech financier Sam Isaly said late last year that he would retire following publication of a STAT investigation in which six former OrbiMed employees said he regularly sexually harassed the firm’s female employees, particularly executive assistants. [email protected] Months after a sexual harassment scandal, OrbiMed’s banking another billion Tags biotechnologylast_img read more

Medical students are skipping class in droves — and making lectures increasingly obsolete

first_img Wang isn’t alone. According to 2017 data from the Association for American Medical Colleges, 1 in 4 preclinical students watches educational videos — like those on YouTube — on a daily basis. And according to two video developers, tens of thousands of medical students subscribe to their products — one of which costs $250 for two years, the other $370 for one year.Leaders in medical education have begun to scramble. Some medical schools, like Harvard, have done away with lectures for the most part. Instead of spending hours in an auditorium, Harvard students learn the course content at home and then apply the knowledge in mandatory small group sessions.Other institutions, like Johns Hopkins, are moving in the same direction, but have yet to make a full switch. Hopkins cut down on lectures and boosted sessions that require active student participation. Preclinical lecture attendance hovers around 30 to 40 percent, according to Dr. Nancy Hueppchen, associate dean for curriculum.For many students, she said, licensing exam prep begins on day one of medical school: “They have this parallel curriculum going along with what we’re teaching them.”Step 1, an eight-hour multiple choice test, is a big deal. Performance on the exam, though it’s taken before most students even begin training in a hospital, heavily influences which medical specialties they can eventually pursue after school and at what hospitals they can pursue them.With medical schools grading pass-fail, the Step 1 score is an increasingly significant piece of information that’s used to sort through residency applications, Hueppchen said. When she took the exam, it was only used as a pass-fail test. Today, residency programs rely on the score more heavily; students and faculty suspect that it’s used as a cutoff for making admissions decisions.Ryan Carlson, a third-year M.D.-Ph.D. student at the University of Washington, said that his school focused on teaching “what they thought was important for a physician to know.” But medical students have to know more than what is relevant to a practicing clinician to succeed on Step. The exam focuses on rare diseases and other minutiae, said Carlson, who now tutors for the test.Hueppchen acknowledged that students at Hopkins and elsewhere “express some distrust that they’re getting everything they need — or that we’re being meticulous in pointing out what they need — to study for and excel on the Step 1 exam.”SketchyMedical produces visual memory aids with elaborate illustrations, like this one of the major drugs targeting the sympathetic nervous system. Stephen Wang at SketchyMedicalThe medical tour guidesThat distrust has spawned a cottage industry of online study aids. Most are a far cry from your high school SAT prep course.SketchyMedical is one of the most popular guides. The company, built in 2013 by three then-medical students at the University of California, Irvine, produces visual memory aids with elaborate illustrations to help students learn and retain the voluminous material they’re expected to know.Dr. Andrew Berg and his co-founders, Drs. Saud Siddiqui and Bryan Lemieux, started sketching pictures and pairing them with stories while taking microbiology in their second year of medical school.“We were just bombarded with different names of bacteria, viruses, and fungi, and we were having a tough time keeping them all straight,” he said. “That was the biggest learning curve of med school — it wasn’t so much how do I do well in it, it was, how do I use all these crazy resources that are being marketed to me to best meet my goal of passing Step.” Ryan Carlson, third-year M.D.-Ph.D. student at the University of Washington These self-guided med students are akin to a group of American tourists wandering through Tokyo without a map. Like a tour guide hired on the street, the online learning tools — including memory aids, videos, and online quizzes — can enhance the educational journey, or send the students down a dead end.advertisement In ‘Drop Out Club,’ desperate doctors counsel each other on quitting the field Privacy Policy Leave this field empty if you’re human: The sketches helped them, and now other students are using them, too.Imagine it’s test day and a med student is asked which drug she would use to treat a patient’s postoperative gastrointestinal blockage. The student closes her eyes and mentally enters the world of “Acetyl-Cola,” a bustling port town that’s depicted in one of SketchyMedical’s cartoons. Outside a storefront, the student finds construction workers, motorcyclists wearing brain-shaped helmets, piles of dripping-wet fish, and a man sporting an adrenal gland-shaped beanie.A colon-shaped mixing truck pouring out cement is an unfortunate, but effective, symbol for defecation, and a worker wearing a name tag reading “Beth” and drinking a cola reminds the student of the drug bethanechol, given to treat intestinal obstructions.The illustrations are turned into narrated videos, which teach drug names and their mechanisms and side effects. SketchyMedical has also produced videos on microbiology and pathology.Berg compares the work of Sketchy to hieroglyphics in ancient Egypt. But for many, Sketchy evokes a different technique used a thousand years later in ancient Greece: method of loci, also called a memory palace or journey.Memory palaces are typically imagined spaces in which a person can store information like a string of numbers or a series of words. Each piece of information is placed somewhere inside the palace. When the palace builder wants to recall an item, she can take a mental stroll through the space to retrieve it. This technique famously enabled Cicero, the Roman statesman and philosopher, to commit his speeches to memory.“We accidentally stumbled upon these visual learning techniques, but now looking back we see there’s a lot of evidence supporting visual learning,” Berg said. The future doctors of America cut class. Not to gossip in the bathroom or flirt behind the bleachers. They skip to learn — at twice the speed.Some medical students follow along with class remotely, watching sped-up recordings of their professors at home, in their pajamas. Others rarely tune in. At one school, attendance is so bad that a Nobel laureate recently lectured to mostly empty seats.Nationally, nearly one-quarter of second-year medical students reported last year that they “almost never” attended class during their first two, preclinical years, a 5 percent increase from 2015.advertisement HealthMedical students are skipping class in droves — and making lectures increasingly obsolete Newsletters Sign up for Morning Rounds Your daily dose of news in health and medicine. Related: Please enter a valid email address. STAT+: Related: Alex Hogan/STAT Hueppchen said that the outside resources “may have value in day-to-day studying, they may have value in studying for Step 1,” but Hopkins has not vetted them so it doesn’t recommend them to students either.The National Board of Medical Examiners, which works with state medical boards to set the minimum standards for medical licensing and administers the Step exam, also doesn’t endorse these products — or their use as hard lines for residency admissions, said Dr. Michael Barone, vice president of licensure programs. The group “is aware of some secondary uses of scores,” he said, but the test’s primary purpose is to report licensure alone.So long as Step still requires intensive rote memorization, companies like SketchyMedical and Boards and Beyond will likely remain in business.Both Berg and Ryan agree that physicians no longer need to memorize as much as they did in the past. Ryan’s grandmother was one of the first female physicians to graduate from her medical school in the 1940s. Back then, he said, she had to remember everything. “If she had to go to a book every time she saw a patient, she’d never be able to work through the day.”Today, there’s much more to know, and medicine is evolving so rapidly — with new drugs, guidelines, and practices — that physicians can’t possibly remember it all. Instead, they look information up on their cellphones, using a variety of apps on the clinic floors. But preclinical students still need to commit board-tested material to memory, a task often compared to drinking from a firehose.Needing to memorize for boards and learn in parallel for their institutions is the breeding ground for anxiety that Hueppchen said “has truly detracted from the joy of learning.” It has even detracted from the joy of teaching, she added.Berg said he tries to bring joy to memorization: “I think that what I hope to contribute the most is making studying more fun.” The AWOL students highlight increasing dissatisfaction and anxiety that there’s a mismatch between what they’re taught in class during those years and what they’re expected to know — or how they’re tested — on national licensing exams. Despite paying nearly $60,000 a year in tuition, medical students are turning to unsanctioned online resources to prepare for Step 1, the make-or-break test typically taken at the end of the preclinical years. Exclusive analysis of biopharma, health policy, and the life sciences. NYU says it will cover tuition for all its medical students — both now and in the future Lawrence Wang, a third-year M.D.-Ph.D. student at the University of California, San Diego, and the National Institutes of Health, said he relied heavily on these resources during his first two years of medical school.“There were times that I didn’t go to a single class, and then I’d get to the actual exam and it would be my first time seeing the professor,” he said. “Especially, when Step was coming up, I pretty much completely focused on studying outside materials.” Tags educationphysicians SketchyMedical is not the only extracurricular resource students rely on. An entire industry cropped up in the last few years, marketing videos and self-quizzing features to preclinical students. Dr. Jason Ryan, the creator of Boards and Beyond, is a name (and voice) familiar to medical students across the country.Ryan, a faculty member at University of Connecticut School of Medicine, creates explanatory videos that track along with the content in First Aid, a Step preparatory book that Ryan said is more like “an encyclopedia of terms” than a real study aid. Ask any medical student if they use First Aid, and they’ll point you to their heavily annotated, tattered copy.While both Ryan and Berg consider their products supplements to regular medical education, many students view them as necessary investments for success. Choosing which ones to use can be a challenge, however.“That was the biggest learning curve of med school — it wasn’t so much how do I do well in it, it was, how do I use all these crazy resources that are being marketed to me to best meet my goal of passing Step,” Carlson said.The old players reactThis expanding corner of the medical education industry is both a product of a new attitude among students — born from anxiety surrounding exam prep — and a disrupter of the traditional classroom education. Med schools now have to think more creatively about how they train their future doctors, Berg said.In 2015, Harvard Medical School revamped its curriculum for the first two years to enable clinical exposure and boost class attendance with a flipped-classroom model: Students learn the content at home, and then apply it during in-class exercises. Dr. Richard Schwartzstein, director of education scholarship, said the program now emphasizes problem-solving and critical thinking — skills seen as essential to practicing medicine — instead of factual recall.But while medical schools are de-emphasizing pure memorization, the national licensing exams have yet to reconsider, he acknowledged. Still, Schwartzstein is not a huge fan of external resources, citing their focus on memorization and pattern recognition as major weaknesses.“You don’t have to actually teach pattern recognition,” he said. “We all are born with the capability of recognizing pattern.” He advises students to stick to Harvard-developed videos and their recommended readings. Like many medical schools, Harvard gives students a dedicated study period — six to eight weeks without coursework — to “prepare in whatever way they deem most appropriate to take the boards,” he said. By Orly Nadell Farber Aug. 14, 2018 Reprintslast_img read more