research

Why I Didn’t Do Research

You may or may not be aware from reading my prior writings that for a time, I was considering a career in research. I worked in labs during every summer through college, and even though I didn’t do any research during med school and not a whole lot during residency, I actually ended up doing a research fellowship. Also, I have research in my blood. My father is a physician who gets a chunk of his salary from research grants. My mother didn’t go quite so far as that, but did publish around a hundred peer-reviewed articles during her career. My father especially encouraged me to incorporate research into my career, saying that it was interesting and also provided extra career flexibility. So anyway, I did this fellowship. And it sucked. I mean, it was pretty much The Fellowship Where Everything Went Wrong. I know what you’re thinking, that it’s not possible for a research fellowship to go that badly. Well, what if your research mentor is arrested and goes to jail midway through the year? I’m not saying that happened. But I’m not saying that didn’t happen either. Bad fellowship aside, I did get a taste of what it was like to do research. There were some parts of it I liked very much. For example, I really liked when the article I wrote came out, and I...

The Media & Medicine Movement

I was honored to be one of this year’s Donate Life Hollywood featured projects for my documentary film, In Absence of Evidence. But what I was even more privileged to be a part of was the media and medicine movement. Many in and outside of medicine enjoy watching medical dramas such as Grey’s Anatomy, Scrubs, and ER, to name a few. But as they continue in their studies as medical professionals, they also begin to realize how inaccurate the shows can be. Donate Life Hollywood (DLH) is a national campaign serving as a liaison between the organ, eye, and tissue donation community and the entertainment industry. Their goal is to help Hollywood write authentic and positive donation and transplant storylines by simplifying access to expert consultation, spotlighting dramatic stories, and featuring medical breakthroughs in an accurate way. “Research shows that when television shows perpetuate myths about donation, they cost lives.” Research shows that when television shows perpetuate myths about donation, they cost lives. During its original tenure, Donate Life Hollywood built a partnership that led to a 6 percent increase in the public’s willingness to register as donors, the largest single-year increase the Donate Life community has ever seen. “An alliance between journalists and scientists should be about celebrating the creativity of the human mind. It should be about fostering critical thinking and valuing vetted knowledge.” A recent and...

A Lesson from Research: One Size Does Not Fit All

My time working in and navigating medical spaces within historically complex cities, Cape Town and Baltimore, has enabled me to comprehend diseases within a larger context- one that encompasses, not isolates, social issues. The reality of medicine is that patients do not have medical problems in isolation. The medical problems with which patients present occur in the context of their daily lives that are influenced to varying degrees by social, economic, and psychological factors. In Cape Town, at that time, it was often issues of transportation and water restrictions that determined both access to and the availability of healthcare. “My time working in and navigating medical spaces within historically complex cities has enabled me to comprehend diseases within a larger context- one that encompasses, not isolates, social issues.” I walked into the HIV clinic excited to meet the next batch of patients I would recruit for my study. But as I started to get set up in the usually packed clinic, every seat was empty. I can recall being confused and curious while waiting in the typically congested HIV clinic to see it barren. I looked around trying to find someone who knew where the patients were or if I had missed something. Was it a national holiday I didn’t know about? Is there a workshop for these patients happening somewhere else in the hospital? I waited for an...

How This Hospital Used A $10 Microchip to Produce 3D Ultrasound Models

Joshua Broder, MD, associate professor of surgery at Duke Health, is helping to lead a team of physicians and engineers in an effort to improve the information captured by 2D ultrasound machines. The team has developed software that couples with a simple 3D-printed case attachment and a $10 sensor chip to convert 2D image slices into a contextual 3D ultrasound model. This technology would allow existing 2D machine owners to maintain the portability and ease of use of their imaging units while greatly increasing the usefulness of the image outputs. Dr. Broder hopes the technology will advance enough to one day allow patients to use a similar device on themselves with enough accuracy to eliminate the need for a trip to an office or hospital. Click here to read more about this research on Health Imaging: “With 2D technology you see a visual slice of an organ, but without any context, you can make mistakes,” said Joshua Broder, MD, an associate professor of surgery at Duke Health and one of the creators of the technology. “These are problems that can be solved with the added orientation and holistic context of 3D technology. Gaining that ability at an incredibly low cost by taking existing machines and upgrading them seemed like the best solution to us.” “With trauma patients in the emergency department, we face a dilemma,” Broder said. “Do we take them...

Three Ancient Medicinal Practices: A Look Back Through History

Get ready to be skeeved out and generally disgusted. In this article we will take a trip through history to review three different types of ancient medicinal practices. Warning, this article may contain content that can cause an unsettled stomach, (but the small amounts of humor and interesting facts can be an antidote).  Bloodletting Originating in the time of the Romans and Ancient Greeks, bloodletting is the practice of doing exactly what it sounds like, letting out blood to cure the disease.  Ancient physicians like Hippocrates and Galen thought influenced the idea that blood was made of of four basic components, yellow bile, black bile, blood and phlegm.  So the practice ensued that if you had a sore throat, blood; migraines and stomach ache, blood; the plague, yep you can probably guess where I’m going with this.  Basically, any type of illness was thought to be solved through the purifying of one of the substances of the body.  This makes me appreciate history and the development of our society so much more, that I now can have a minor cold and go to the doctor without getting a leech attached to my arm or a knife to the leg. Animal Dung Ointments Another self explanatory name for another disgusting medicinal practice.  Poop, yes poop, used to be CELEBRATED by Egyptian physicians circa 1500 b.c.  It was used for it’s...

When the Baton is Passed to the Echo Boomers

When a baton is passed in a relay, there is a brief moment where both hands are on the baton. It is in those moments, as the baton is passed from the baby boomers to the echo boomers, where conduction occurs.   An echo boomer, Cassandra Batson, is coordinating the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School (CESJDS) first-ever High School STEM day. On Wednesday, November 21st, 2018, students from 9th grade through the 12th grade will participate in a scientific conference that will allow them to engage in and recognize the real-world connections of STEM beyond the walls of the classroom.   I was lured into participating for many reasons, but mainly as a budding female scientist myself I wanted to use my novice voice to inspire other rookie females into careers of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. “…when you educate a woman you educate a generation” –African Proverb I not only agreed to participate in the High School STEM Day myself but also was inspired during preparation for the day to highlight her efforts as a way to continue to the dialogue of exposing youth to STEM careers in revolutionizing ways.   Shout out to a few leading ladies in STEM: Jean Fan, Founder of https://custemized.org/. CuSTEMized engages, encourages, and empowers young girls in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math by providing them with tangible products and educational experiences that foster a positive...

A Lesson from Research: Advocacy

In 2013, the office was abuzz with conversations about the HIV Organ Policy Equity (HOPE) Act. The HOPE Act would have significant implications for our work and was particularly relevant as former President Barack Obama planned to sign it into law a mere two months after I began working.   But despite its landmark significance, I was surprised to find that the HIV+ patient population was unaware of this law. More importantly, HIV+ patients’ willingness to accept HIV+ organs remained unknown. So, we developed a survey to understand patients’ attitudes towards HIV-to-HIV transplantation. Understanding these perspectives is paramount to gauging the level of support for the HIV-to-HIV organ donation program, specifically whether HIV+ patients are willing to accept HIV+ organs.   With the support of the Fulbright Scholarship, I continued this exploration on the knowledge of and attitudes toward HIV-to-HIV transplantation within the HIV+ population at the Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town, South Africa. Consolidating the evidence of countless interviews I had collected from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, I recognized how easily biomedical science could remain within scientific journals without ever translating to the population we had in mind when designing the studies. Research, though valuable and critical, is limited if not accessible to the patients it hoped to benefit.   “Research, though valuable and critical, is limited if not accessible to the patients it hoped...