Incision-free Surgery Program Gains Grant from CIMIT
The Center for Integration of Medicine and Innovative Technology (CIMIT) has awarded its $2.1 million Strategic Project Grant to a team pioneering a new technology that could make possible surgical procedures without incisions on the surface of the body. The project, called Natural Orifice Translumenal Endoscopic Surgery (NOTES), will receive $700,000 annually for three years.
NOTES is a novel technique of performing surgery. It utilizes flexible endoscopes through the mouth, anus, or vagina to enter the abdominal, pelvic, or thoracic cavities. It relies on a multidisciplinary team with the skills of both an advanced therapeutic endoscopist and a laparoscopic surgeon. The procedure has stimulated much interest in the medical community since it is an evolution of laparoscopy, the minimally invasive technique that has gained popularity since the ’80s.
The Boston-based NOTES team represents four institutions and three scientific disciplines—medicine, surgery, and engineering. Investigators from HMS include David Rattner, HMS professor of surgery; William Brugge, HMS associate professor of medicine; Field Willingham, HMS clinical fellow in medicine; Denise Gee, HMS instructor in surgery; and Patricia Sylla, HMS instructor in surgery, all at Massachusetts General Hospital; and Christopher Thompson, HMS assistant professor of medicine; and Marvin Ryou, HMS instructor in medicine; both at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Other investigators are based at Dartmouth Medical Center and MIT.
“More research and a greater number of carefully planned human trials must be done,” said Rattner, who is also chief of the Division of General and Gastrointestinal Surgery at MGH and a leader of a national coalition of doctors interested in NOTES. “But I think I can say NOTES has great potential to help patients.”
Students Take First Course in Geriatric Sessions
In January, a group of HMS second-years became the first to learn how to examine elderly patients at a long-term–care facility as part of the new Central Geriatric Sessions. Each session consists of four hours split between Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and the Hebrew Rehabilitation Center. Before interacting with real patients, students spend time at the Shapiro Simulator Center at BID, where trained actors playing the part of patients provide feedback to the students and faculty. Then, under the guidance of a geriatrician, the students take a medical history from a real patient at HRC.
The program was developed with Lewis Lipsitz, HMS professor of medicine and chief of gerontology at BID. “Given the fact that almost every practicing physician providing care for adults will soon have a practice filled with elderly patients, it is essential that every medical student become skilled in the examination and treatment of older people,” said Lipsitz. As the baby boomers age, there will not be enough geriatricians to meet the demand, and Lipsitz’s goal is to ensure that all HMS students gain exposure to geriatric medicine as part of their instruction. “I have always dreamed that someday there would be academic nursing homes analogous to academic medical centers,” he said.
Exhibit and Lecture Look at Cigarette Ads Featuring Physicians
“Not a Cough in a Carload: Images from the Campaign by the Tobacco Industry to Hide the Hazards of Smoking” will examine the use of images of physicians and medical information to sell cigarettes. Speaker Robert Jackler, of Stanford University School of Medicine, will be introduced by Allan Brandt, dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and the Amalie Moses Kass professor of the history of medicine in the Department of Social Medicine (in the Faculty of Medicine). The lecture takes place Monday, March 10, at 4:30 p.m. in the Armenise auditorium and will be followed by a wine and cheese reception. The talk coincides with the opening of a new exhibit in the basement of Gordon Hall featuring images from tobacco advertisements.
Catch Digital Exhibit on Views of Disease
“Contagion: Historical Views of Diseases and Epidemics,” the newest digital library collection produced by Harvard University Library’s Open Collections Program, is now ready for viewing at http://ocp.hul.harvard.edu/contagion/.
Countway Library has contributed approximately 1,900 titles from the general collection and from the Center for the History of Medicine, including 30 incunabula (15th-century printed books) and 130 late 18th- and early 19th-century satirical medical illustrations. The collection covers a broad range of topics and eras, including epidemics of syphilis, cholera, plague, yellow fever, influenza, and smallpox; and the scientific, historical, and social forces behind the development of contagion theory and modern epidemiology.
New Lot on Boylston
MASCO has opened a new offsite parking lot at 1249–1255 Boylston Street, at the corner of Van Ness and Ipswich. The shuttle pickup spot is across the street at the Red Sox garage. For more information, call the MASCO customer service line at 617-632-2800.
Chenghua Gu, HMS assistant professor of neurobiology, and Xiaole Shirley Liu, HSPH associate professor of biostatistics, have each received a 2008 Sloan Research Fellowship from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The fellowships are given to early career scientists and consist of $50,000 over a two-year period, which can be used toward research of the fellow’s choosing.
Honors and Advances
- Marcia Angell, HMS senior lecturer in the Department of Social Medicine, is a recipient of the first annual Raising Our Voices Award from the American Medical Student Association. The award is given to individuals working for social justice and the advancement of women in medicine.
- The National Sleep Foundation has awarded Charles Czeisler, the Frank Baldino Jr., PhD, professor of sleep medicine at HMS and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, with the lifetime achievement award for his contributions to the sleep and health fields. The award was presented in a ceremony on March 3.
- Research to Prevent Blindness has given a Physician–Scientist Award to Douglas Rhee, HMS assistant professor of ophthalmology at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. The $60,000 grant will support Rhee’s study of glaucoma, particularly the impact of this disease on the elderly.
- Selwyn Rogers, HMS assistant professor of surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, is the winner of BWH’s 2008 Thomson Leadership Award, which is named after a former BWH vice president of public affairs widely recognized for his leadership and dedication to the hospital. Rogers was honored for his leadership in reducing health care disparities and providing personal, compassionate care to trauma patients.
- Lucia Sobrin, HMS instructor in ophthalmology at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, received a career development award from Research to Prevent Blindness. The $200,000, four-year grant will support Sobrin’s research to increase the understanding of diabetic retinopathy, which is a leading cause of blindness in the United States.
- The International Society for Research in Human Milk and Lactation awarded the Macy-Gyorgy Award to Allan Walker, the Conrad Taff professor of pediatrics at HMS and Massachusetts General Hospital. The award honors scientific contributions to the study of human milk and lactation. Walker is known for his research in mucosal immunology.
- Gordon Williams, HMS professor of medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, is the recipient of the 2008 Robert Tigerstedt Award from the American Society of Hypertension for his work in that field. One of the society’s Distinguished Scientist Awards, it carries a monetary prize of $10,000. He will receive the award in May at the society’s annual scientific meeting.
Oglesby Paul, professor emeritus of medicine and former dean of admissions at HMS, died Dec. 22. He was 91.
Paul received his AB from Harvard University in 1938 and his MD from HMS in 1942. Following an internship at MGH, he spent three years on active duty in the medical core of the United States Navy on the USS Daly in the Pacific during WWII.
He returned to MGH to complete his training in medicine and cardiology before moving to Chicago, where he served on the faculty of the University of Illinois and Northwestern University.
He rejoined the HMS community in 1977, serving as director of admissions from 1977 to 1982. As professor of medicine, he taught in the Cardiovascular Division of the Department of Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital from 1977 to 1986.
Paul was considered an outstanding clinical cardiologist, scholar, and teacher. He contributed significantly to the clinical literature for more than three decades, beginning with landmark papers he authored as a resident in collaboration with Paul Dudley White, a pioneer in the field of preventive cardiology. Paul moved into the forefront of research on links between heart disease and lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise, and smoking, leading a landmark NIH-funded study examining the connection between lifestyle and heart health in 2,000 men. He was the recipient of many honors, including the Coeur d’Or Award from the Chicago Heart Association in 1974.
Paul published two books on the lives of physicians: Take Heart, about his mentor White, in 1986, and The Caring Physician, about Francis Peabody, in 1991.
He is survived by his wife, Jean; a daughter, Mamie; a son, Rodman; three stepchildren, James and Douglas Paul, and Patricia Olive; three grandchildren; and three step-grandchildren.
A memorial service is being planned for the spring.