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IN THE NEWS . . . archives
6ABC_News(December 6, 2012) In the U.S., only about 15 percent of donated lungs stay healthy enough to transplant. Now, 6ABC reports that surgeons at Penn have successfully used a new technique that repairs damaged donated lungs that would have been unusable, allowing for successful transplantation of the reconditioned lungs into a patient. Edward Cantu, MD, assistant professor of Surgery, says the new technique, being tested via a clinical trial, is called ex vivo lung perfusion. Using a special device, doctors can repair damaged donor lungs. "We can profuse it and ventilate it at body temperature, that allows the lung to recover function," Cantu said. Although still being tested, Cantu says "This technology may allow us to do maybe four times as many transplants as we currently do."

(December 5, 2012) Lee Goldberg (far left), J. Eduardo Rame and Y. Joseph Woo of Penn Medicine are celebrating the 1,000th lifesaving heart transplant procedure performed at HUP.

HUFFPOST WOMEN(November 29, 2012) Carla Fisher, MD, an assistant professor in the division of Endocrine and Oncologic Surgery, is quoted in a Huffington Post article about a new study revealing that many breast cancer patients have their healthy breast removed along with the affected breast despite the relatively low risk of developing cancer in that healthy breast. "The risk of recurrence on the breast that had cancer, or [it] coming back elsewhere in the body from that initial cancer, is much higher than the risk of developing a new cancer in the other breast," she said. "Treating the primary cancer is the most important thing, rather than treating something that may or may not happen, [which] may or may not have survival benefits down the line." logo(November 20, 2012) A special online photo feature on highlights the top 10 surgical milestones in Philadelphia history, including contributions from many Penn alums and former and current faculty: Edward Martin, MD, who played a pivotal role in founding and leading the American College of Surgeons; Alexander Randall, MD, who was instrumental in creating hospital residency programs and invented the Randall forceps; Isidor S. Ravdin, MD, who helped treat burn victims after Pearl Harbor; Helen O. Dickens, MD, the first African-American woman admitted as a Fellow to the American College of Surgeons and pioneered research into teen pregnancy and sexual health issues; C. Everett Koop, MD, who oversaw the opening of the first surgical NICU at CHOP in 1962; Stanley Dudrick, MD, for his innovative and pioneering research in the development of the total parenteral nutrition; Richard Schmidt, MD, who performed the first ever transplant of a human knee at HUP in 1987; and Linton Whitaker, MD, and Luis Schut, MD, who led the first live nationally televised surgery of an infant that broadcast on public television from CHOP in 1990.
(November 16, 2012) In April 2009, Penn patient Elliot Gordon was suffering from an aortic dissection and required an almost immediate open-heart surgery. Less than four years later Gordon will attempt to complete the Philadelphia Half-Marathon Sunday. But Gordon downplays what he hopes will be his accomplishment because he wants the credit to go to his doctors at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, specifically Joseph Bavaria, MD, vice chief, Division of Cardiovascular Surgery. “He’s a magician,” claims Gordon. “I’m also proud to call him a friend. That’s why I’m so excited for this race—I always enjoyed Philadelphia, but now it’s the place that saved my life.” For the record, Bavaria is equally impressed with his patient. “It’s unheard of—especially in a case as severe as Elliot’s—to accomplish something like running a race,” Bavaria comments. “About half of aortic dissections don’t even make it to the hospital. The term we use for something like this is exceedingly rare.” (Link)
My Health News DailyIvona Percec, MD, PhD, assistant professor in the division of Plastic Surgery, is interviewed by about anti-aging product claims. Peptides, for example, are small proteins that help stimulate new cells to grow and help skin cells to heal. "The jury is still out on how beneficial they are," said Percec. "We don't know for sure what the biological benefits are." Although peptides are found in a number of products, experts still aren't sure exactly which formulation may work. "If they work, they do so by stimulating the replacement of collagen, elastin, and other components that suffer during aging," Percec said. "The concern is that peptides are large molecules, and depending on their formulation and the skin surface, they may not be able to penetrate deeply enough to achieve their effect."
6ABC News logo(October 17, 2012) A 6ABC segment highlights research into a vaccine to treat women with the early breast cancer ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) conducted by Brian Czerniecki, MD, PhD, co-director of the Rena Rowan Breast Center and an associate professor of Surgery. Surgery, the standard treatment for the disease, isn't always the end for women with DCIS. "They run a higher risk of developing an invasive tumor in either the breast have DCIS in, or the other breast," Czerniecki says. His personalized vaccine aims to keep this type of breast cancer from coming back. It uses a patient's own white cells to fight disease, by training them to attack a protein early tumors need to survive. So far, more than 4 dozen women have received the vaccine in the past 7 years, and results show it's working.
NBC 8, 2012) A new study in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that Botox injections are more effective than oral medications in preventing bladder leaks. cites Alan Wein, MD, professor and chief of the division of Urology, who said that physicians typically see if behavioral modifications will fix the problem before turning to medication. Wein suggests making sure you are not over filling your bladder first. “Most people don’t understand that the more you drink the more symptomatic you will be,” said Wein. Wein notes that if a patient is having problems at night, they may want to cut back on beverages consumed after 4 pm and keep track of foods or beverages that often cause sudden bladder contractions. At Penn Medicine, patients are taught pelvic floor exercises to help them to better control the muscles around the urethra. “So when you feel like you really have to go, the routine is to stand still, relax and then contract the muscles -- and then relax them as quickly as you can,” said Wein. “Often that makes the urgency pass long enough for you to safely get to the bathroom.”  

(October 3, 2012) Woman’s Day reports on 20 important ways to help lower your risk of developing breast cancer. Number 17 on the list notes that if you have the BRCA1 or 2 mutations, removing your ovaries decreases your risk by almost 50%. “Your ovaries produce hormones, so taking them out changes the hormonal mix,” said Dahlia Sataloff, MD, director, Integrated Breast Center at Pennsylvania Hospital and vice chair, Department of Surgery, Pennsylvania Hospital. The article was also picked up by the Idaho Statesman and the Olympian (Washington state).

Cardiology Today(September 27, 2012) A Cardiology Today cover story and photo spread features Penn Medicine's experience with transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR). TAVR is a promising new treatment for patients with severe aortic stenosis (narrowing of the heart valve) who are not ideal candidates for traditional open heart surgery. HUP is home to one of the largest TAVR programs in the United States. Howard C. Herrmann, MD, director of the Interventional Cardiology and Cardiac Catheterization Laboratories, co-heads a multidisciplinary TAVR team with Joseph Bavaria, MD, director of the Thoracic Aortic Surgery Program at the hospital, that features specialists throughout many different areas.
6ABC NewsBrian Czerniecki, MD, PhD, a professor of Surgery and co-director of the Rena Rowan Breast Center, was quoted in a 6ABC segment about a study published this week which provides additional details about the genetic underpinnings of the major subtypes of breast cancer. Czerniecki says the findings may eventually enable physicians to map patients' tumors and, through gene analysis, better pinpoint treatments that stand the best chance of being effective.
In preparation for the Third Stand Up To Cancer telethon (September 6, 2012), a story from CBS3 featured the research of the initiative's Pancreatic Cancer Dream Team at Penn Medicine's Abramson Cancer Center. “I don’t want to give any false hopes, but we are seeing things we’ve never seen in this disease before,” said Jeffrey Drebin, MD, PhD, chairman of the department of Surgery, who is among the leaders of the team. The story also highlighted a Penn Medicine patient with advanced pancreatic cancer who is participating in one of the clinical trials that has been developed as part of the Pancreatic Cancer Dream Team, which involves the combination of two chemotherapy drugs plus an existing anti-malarial drug that researchers believe acts by interfering with one of the ways pancreatic cancer cells feed themselves. Since he enrolled in the trial last winter, his tumor has shrunk substantially. The Stand Up To Cancer telethon will air tonight at 8 p.m. on CBS, ABC, NBC and FOX.
CBS3CBS3 reports that breast cancer reconstruction often leaves women with disfiguring complications, and an increasing number of women are going to plastic surgeons for a solution. Sometimes implants move out of place after a mastectomy causing pain and disfigurement due to tissue damage from radiation. The segment features a patient who turned to Joseph Serletti, MD, chief of Plastic Surgery, who specializes in these procedures and took fatty tissue from the patient’s stomach and transplanted it to create a new breast. (posted July 30, 2012)
Philadelphia InquirerA front-page, June 25, 2012, Philadelphia Inquirer article details the progress made by the Penn Pleural and Mesothelioma Program (PMPP) in the fight against mesothelioma. Pleural mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos, a once-ubiquitous building material. Decades after exposure, renegade cells arise in the mesothelium, a cellophane-thin membrane that lines the chest cavity, lungs, heart, and diaphragm. By the time the classic symptom of breathlessness shows up, the cancer usually has a stranglehold, invading all surfaces and organs in the cavity. Conventional treatments - chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery - have dismal outcomes. Nonetheless, Penn Medicine scientists and clinicians, including Steve Hahn, MD, chair of the department of Radiation Oncology, Daniel Sterman, MD, PhD, director, Interventional Pulmonology, Keith Cengel, MD, assistant professor of Radiation Oncology, Steven Albelda, MD, vice chief, Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care division, and Joseph Friedberg, MD, chief of the division of Thoracic Surgery at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, have been doggedly pursuing innovations in the treatment of this cancer. They are combining conventional treatments with gene therapy, T-cell therapy, and laser technology, called photodynamic therapy. A combination of a lung sparing procedure, being pioneered by Friedberg, with PDT has helped some patients extend their lives significantly and given the team options for additional treatments to fight the cancer. "I'd be happy to turn this into a chronic disease, like diabetes," Friedberg said. "My goal for my career is to make it truly better for these patients. That's what I want to do with the rest of my life."
(June 13, 2012) A bypass graft engineered from a deceased-donor vein and the patient's own stem cells could be a solution for patients who don't have enough native vein to do the job, new first-in-man results showed. The same technique might also work on arteries, which generally have better long-term results than veins or prosthetic materials when a vessel needs replacement in a procedure like coronary bypass surgery. Vascular surgeons interviewed by ABC News and MedPage Today largely welcomed the news as progress. "One of the major limitations of bypass surgery anywhere in the body is lack of a suitable conduit," said Edward Y. Woo, MD, vice-chief and program director, division of Vascular Surgery and Endovascular Therapy, and director of the Vascular Laboratory. "Having an autologous vessel for implantation would largely replace the utilization of prosthetic grafts, cadaveric grafts, or other conduits used when healthy autologous tissue is not available," he added.
(May 1, 2012) Joseph Friedberg, MD, chief of Thoracic Surgery at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, says this incurable cancer caused by exposure to asbestos offers “a lot of opportunity—it can’t get any worse, right?” That attitude helped him develop a photodynamic therapy that’s turning the deadly cancer into a manageable disease. Patients are given a drug that sensitizes their cells to light. Friedberg excises the visible cancer from around the lung, then zaps the chest cavity with a laser that penetrates into tissue and activates the drug. The blood vessels feeding any remaining cancer are fragile and more sensitive to light than normal cells, so they get zapped. And, unexpectedly, the photodynamic therapy triggers the patient’s immune system to fight off more cancer. “Survival is usually only a few months after diagnosis,” Friedberg says, “but we’re seeing up to three and four years." (Philadelphia Magazine #17)
Los Angeles Times logo(March 8, 2012) Abraham Shaked, MD, PhD, director of the Penn Transplant Center and chief of the division of Transplantation Surgery, is quoted in a Los Angeles Times article about a new study published this week suggesting that patients receiving an organ that's less than a perfect match can be protected against rejection by a second transplant — this time of the organ donor's imperfectly matched stem cells. Shaked said despite the success detailed in the paper, uncertainties persist: It's not clear, for one thing, whether patients who are enabled to tolerate a mismatched kidney also have weakened "early warning" responses to infections and cancers. Still, he called the results "absolutely remarkable" and "beyond any expectations."
(February 2, 2012) The London Telegraph, the UK edition of Marie Claire magazine, and United Press International covered the results of two new studies examining a personalized vaccine for the early breast cancer ductal carcinoma in situ led by Brian Czerniecki, MD, PhD, surgical director of the Rena Rowan Breast Center and Surgical Director of the Immunotherapy Program for the Abramson Cancer Center. The results show that vaccination with an anti-HER2 dendritic cell vaccine made partly from the patient’s own cells triggers a complete tumor eradication in nearly 20 percent of women with the disease. And more than 85 percent of patients treated appear to have a sustained immune response after vaccination.
(January 30, 2012) Researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine and the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania report that a short course of vaccination with an anti-HER2 dendritic cell vaccine made partly from the patient’s own cells triggers a complete tumor eradication in nearly 20 percent of women with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), an early breast cancer. More than 85 percent of patients treated appear to have a sustained immune response after vaccination, which may reduce their risk of developing a more invasive cancer in the future. The results of the study were published online this month of Cancer and in the January issue of the Journal of Immunotherapy. “I think these data more than prove that vaccination works in situations where the target is right,” says the study’s leader, Brian Czerniecki, MD, PhD, surgical director of the Rena Rowan Breast Center and Surgical Director of the Immunotherapy Program for the Abramson Cancer Center.
An article in the Philadelphia Inquirer (January 23, 2012) counters the idea that good skin-care products can't be found on a budget. In fact, many skin-care experts recommend a basic skin-care routine, based on ingredients with strong science behind them, for healthy, glowing skin. Cleansers, exfoliators, and sunscreen can be bought at the drugstore, said Ivona Percec, MD, PhD, a plastic surgeon at Penn Medicine's Center for Human Appearance. A $65 consultation with an aesthetician in Percec's practice provides a skin-care regimen based on skin type and budget, using over-the-counter products, she said. Percec recommends that patients use a sunscreen with 30 to 40 SPF every two to three hours. The SPF breaks down from sunlight exposure, Percec said. An everyday skin routine makes a difference for your skin, said Harriet Lessy, a patient of Percec's who has gotten a few fillers and medical facials. She uses products from Percec's office and others she buys at the drugstore. (PDF)
(November 16, 2011) The CBS Evening News highlighted Abramson Cancer Center research on a vaccine for ductal carcinoma in situ being led by Brian Czerniecki, MD, PhD, co-director the Rena Rowan Breast Center and surgical director of the Abramson Cancer Center's Immunotherapy Program. The personalized vaccine, made partly from a patient's own white blood cells, is being used in this early breast cancer in an effort to teach the immune system to stand guard against a cancer recurrence. "They're watch dogs for the body and they will protect anywhere they see a problem with the cancer proteins coming back," Czerniecki said. When he first looked under the microscope and saw the immune system was actually destroying the cancer cells, Czerniecki said it was "one of those 'ah ha!' moments where you look at it and you say, 'Wow! This is really doing what we thought it was going to do.'" The story also features a patient discussing her motivations for joining the trial, in which patients postpone their surgery to have a series of vaccinations prior to their operations. Her hope is that the vaccine may not only treat cancer, but one day stop it from occurring in the first place. "I hope it does come to that, that there is a vaccine - that people can be vaccinated against breast cancer and they'll never have to make some of these decisions." (PDF)
(November 15, 2011) Pneumonia is the most common infection following heart surgery, a new study from Penn researchers found. The study also revealed that most infections occur about two weeks after an operation - a week longer than previously thought. The research was presented at the American Heart Association meeting. Researchers analyzed cardiac surgery results of more than 5,100 patients in the Cardiothoracic Surgical Trials Network (CTSN). They found that pneumonia infection occurred in 2.4 percent of all patients, median time to major infection was 14 days after surgeries, and 42 percent of all major infections occurred after hospital discharge. “Half of these patients had no evidence of infection before they were discharged from the hospital," said study author Mike Acker, MD, chief, Cardiovascular Surgery Division, in an article for MSN Health & Fitness. "Then they had to return because of the new infection. One implication is that patients must be followed more closely after discharge." Coverage was also picked up by USAToday. (PDF1) (PDF2)
(November 3, 2011) New technology developed and being tested at Penn Medicine could one day change the way cancer is treated. Doctors say the most important factor in surviving lung cancer is getting all of the cancer out during surgery. Often times some gets missed, but a new technology could change that. Penn researchers have a $7-million NIH grant to test the new technology, developed by Sunil Singhal, MD, director, Thoracic Surgery Research Laboratory. Dr. Singhal tells 6ABC that currently, surgeons only have their eyes, hands and intuition to help them cut out cancer, but he says a new infrared camera, used with special dye, gives doctors a much clearer picture. "It can look at any spots in the chest that we opened to look for any cancer cells that may be left behind," he explained. Right now the new device is being tested in animal patients at Penn Vet and trials will begin in humans in the near future. (PDF)
On November 1, a press conference was held at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania to publicly announce the first bilateral hand transplant performed at Penn Medicine and in the region. The procedure was successfully performed by a team of 30 – 12 surgeons, three anesthesiologists and 15 nurses – from the Penn Hand Transplant Program within the Penn Transplant Institute. The team included experts in solid organ transplantation, orthopaedic surgery, plastic surgery, reconstructive microsurgery, and anesthesia. Penn worked closely with their partners at Gift of Life Donor Program to begin Penn’s first venture in to the emerging field of Vascularized Composite Allotransplantation. The first procedure, performed in September on a female quadruple amputee, took 11 and one-half hours to complete. Speakers at the press conference who were quoted and shown in the media were: L. Scott Levin, MD, FACS, director, Penn Hand Transplant Program, chairman, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Paul B. Magnuson Professor of Bone and Joint Surgery and professor of Surgery (Division of Plastic Surgery); Benjamin Chang, MD, co-director, Penn Hand Transplant Program, director and associate chief, Division of Plastic Surgery; and associate professor of Clinical Surgery; Richard D. Hasz, vice president, Clinical Services, Gift of Life Donor Program; Abraham Shaked, MD, PhD, director, Penn Transplant Institute, vice chairman, Department of Surgery, and Eldridge L. Eliason Professor of Surgery; and Arthur L. Caplan, PhD director, Center for Bioethics and professor, Medical Ethics.
Bruce Malkowicz, MD, a professor of Urology and co-director of Urologic Oncology, was quoted in a CBS3 story (October 11, 2011) covering the results of a national trial aimed at examining whether vitamin E might play a role in preventing prostate cancer. Results published this week, however, showed that the supplement -- which was taken at much higher levels than is standard in daily multivitamin pills -- actually raised the risk of developing prostate cancer. “I think it’s important that you had a trial like this that now gives us solid evidence to start looking and making reasonable recommendations to people” about the true role of supplements for cancer prevention, said Malkowicz, who was the site PI for the trial. "Right now I don’t think anyone would recommend using vitamin E, or a supplement like that, for prostate cancer health.”
Three labs have received $12.5 million in research funding for gene research and cancer treatment from the NIH, reports MedCity News (Sept. 29, 2011). Sunil Singhal MD, director of the Thoracic Surgery Research Laboratory shares a $7 million, five-year Transformative Research Project Award. A $4 million Pioneer Award over the next five years is being given to Luk Vandenberghe PhD, Albert M. Maguire MD, and Jean Bennett, MD, PhD, principal investigator of the award. Arjun Raj, PhD, assistant professor of bioengineering has received a New Innovator Award for $1.5 million over five years. (PDF)
Philadelphia Magazine's Be Well blog features a collaboration between CHOP’s craniofacial program and Philadelphia’s Studio Incamminati. The Face to Face exhibit seeks to increase the positive self-image of children and adolescents with craniofacial problems through the art of portrait painting. The team of psychologists and surgeons includes Dr. Linton Whitaker, MD, founder of CHOP's craniofacial program and director of Penn's Center for Human Appearance; Dr. Scott Bartlett, MD, director of the program; and David Sarwer, PhD, associate professor of psychology at University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. (PDF)
Brian Czerniecki, MD, PhD, co-director of the Rena Rowan Breast Center in the Abramson Cancer Center, is quoted in a MORE magazine article exploring the increase in the number of women diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ -- a so-called stage 0 cancer which now makes up some 25 percent of new breast cancers diagnosed each year. There is little consensus in the field over how best to treat the disease, but many doctors say it's best to proceed with treatments -- surgery, chemotherapy drugs or radiation, and sometimes a combination of them -- as if the cancer could become more dangerous. "There's no scientific proof that there definitely is a group of DCIS cells that won't progress to becoming invasive," Czerniecki says. "I don't think we're there yet, though this is a hot topic of research." (PDF)
On June 14, Penn Medicine and the Penn Transplant Institute Celebrated the opening of the Clyde F. Barker Penn Transplant House - a “home away from home” designed to help ease the unique economic and emotional stresses for transplant families. Modeled after the Ronald McDonald Houses and named after the physician who performed the first kidney transplant at HUP in 1966, the Barker Transplant House - located at 3920 Spruce Street on Penn’s campus - offers comfortable, convenience accommodation in an ultra-modern, bright, positive and supportive community setting - all at a nominal cost - only $60 per diem. The Philadelphia Inquirer, 6ABC, International Business Times, and the Philadelphia Business Journal all covered the opening. The market value of the house - $5.1 million dollars - was mostly covered by a variety of 1,300 personal and professional donors ranging from Penn’s Board of Women’s Visitors, the architect Rafael Vinoly, Penn Medicine’s Transplant House committee and LF Driscoll co, LLC. (PDF)
The Philadelphia Inquirer highlights a Type 1 diabetes patient who underwent an islet cell transplant at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. The insulin-producing cells from a pancreas donor were surgically implanted in his liver. Within about two months, Ali Naji, MD, PhD, professor of Surgery, director of the JDRF-Penn Islet Transplantation Program, and associate director of the Institute for Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism and endocrinologist Michael Rickels, MD, MS, assistant professor of Medicine in Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, hoped the cells would be producing a regular flow of insulin in this patient. "It's a very attractive procedure because it doesn't involve big-time surgery," said Naji, principal investigator of the Penn study. Preliminary results from Penn are promising, Rickels said. Nine patients have received the transplants, and in each case they are generating insulin with no serious side effects. (PDF)
Moving a catheter laboratory inside an operating theater is no easy matter. While hybrid interventional ORs carry the promise of increased revenue and patient safety, they also come with a sizable price tag, technical considerations and potential turf battles. Proponents for hybrid ORs can be very sure of the necessity of them. "We can't move forward with improved patient care without the hybrid suite," says Wilson Y. Szeto, MD, surgical director for Transcatheter Cardio-Aortic Therapies at Penn Presbyterian in an interview with Cardiovascular Business Magazine. When Presbyterian started evaluating a potential hybrid lab in 2006, the planning team homed in on procedures. Percutaneous valve procedures were a major selling point during the planning stage as a hybrid suite makes the process easier. "To convince the administration of the importance of the hybrid lab, we had to demonstrate that it would be fully utilized, which meant designing the room to accommodate coronary procedures and vascular work, and more importantly, conventional open heart operations," recalls William H. Matthai, MD, clinical associate professor of Medicine. Today, the Presbyterian hybrid lab is used in hybrid mode about 40 percent of the time, and vascular and surgical procedures round out the case mix. (PDF)
In a special heart health supplement to the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News, an article details all of the novel medical research and new technologies being pioneered by Penn Medicine physician researchers. Penn physicians Mike Acker, MD, chief, Division of Cardiovascular Surgery; Joseph Bavaria, MD, director, Thoracic Aortic Surgery Program; Joseph Gorman, MD, associate professor of Surgery; Robert Gorman, MD, professor of Surgery; Howard Herrmann, MD, director, Interventional Cardiology and Cardiac Catheterization Laboratories; Mariell Jessup, MD, medical director, Penn Heart and Vascular Center; J. Eduardo Rame, MD, medical director, Ventricular Assist Device Program; and Joseph Woo, MD, director, Minimally Invasive and Robotic Cardiac Surgery Program are all cited for their innovative work in cardiovascular technology.
In a new heart surgery procedure, Y. Joseph Woo, MD, director of the Minimally Invasive and Robotic Cardiac Surgery Program, is taking science from bench to bedside. After five years of research in animals, Dr. Woo is now retrieving stem cells from patient's bone marrow and using them to grow blood vessels around the heart during CABG surgery. "The stem cells form brand new micro blood vessels and deliver blood flow to the heart muscle," said Dr. Woo in an interview on February 3, 2011 for ABC 7 in Los Angeles, CA. Mr. John Christy was the first patient to have this procedure done as part of a clinical trial at Penn and is doing well. "All you're doing is giving back to yourself something you already have," said Mr. Christy. Dr. Woo says the goal of the current trial is to demonstrate safety – the next step is to actually look for efficacy, and to show that compared to a controlled group this therapy shows a significant benefit. (PDF)
Michael A. Acker, MD, chief of Cardiovascular Surgery and William Maul Measey Professor of Surgery, is featured throughout a front page article in the December 1, 2010 Philadelphia Inquirer. The article chronicles Dr. Acker’s treatment of congestive heart failure patient Jose Fernandez with the CorCap heart jacket – a flexible polyester mesh – which acts like a girdle to support his heart’s ability to pump, stabilize its expansion and possibly reverse it. Proponents say the heart jacket offers an alternative to transplant or death, However, its maker, Acorn Cardiovascular Inc., has been in financial peril and under intense FDA scrutiny. All trials have ceased and who are left of the extremely downsized company are looking for a new financial partner. “’I still believe the jacket has a significant place in certain patients’ – those with worsening heart failure but not yet in dire need of a transplant.” said Dr. Acker who has implanted the device in about 30 patients.
A Thanksgiving Day (November 25, 2010) story in the Philadelphia Inquirer profiles ongoing research conducted by oncologic surgeon Brian Czerniecki, MD, PhD, to develop a personalized vaccine for the treatment of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), which accounts for about 1 in 5 new breast cancer cases. The story also highlights the philanthropic work of Pennies in Action, a group of patients which raises money to fund the research. (PDF)
Y. Joseph Woo, MD, associate professor of Surgery, was profiled in Cardiology Today after being named a member of the publication’s editorial board. In the article Dr. Woo is featured for both his clinical and research interests. (PDF)
The Philadelphia Inquirer interviewed Joseph Bavaria, MD, vice chief, Division of Cardiovascular Surgery and Howard Herrmann, MD, director, Interventional Cardiology and Cardiac Catheterization Laboratories, about promising new results from a clinical trial for a new heart-valve replacement procedure being conducted at Penn. The new procedure, transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI), significantly reduced mortality rates in patients who were too sick for conventional surgery. "This is a huge home run for these patients," said Dr. Herrmann. "I think it is a paradigm shift for how we are going to treat these high-risk patients." The results from the trial are published in the latest edition of the New England Journal of Medicine. Dr. Bavaria noted that the valve used in the procedure has not yet received FDA approval, but said "We have a new kind of procedure that is pretty effective, certainly a lot better than doing nothing." (PDF)
Daniel Eun, MD, assistant professor of Surgery in Urology and director of Robotic and Minimally Invasive Urologic Oncology and Reconstruction at Pennsylvania Hospital is featured in a story in a Philadelphia Inquirer on robotic surgery (August 21, 2010). Robotic surgery represents a vast improvement in visualization, says Eun, "It becomes a merging of what you'd see with your naked eye [with] the enhanced visualization of a camera that has magnification." Eun also cautions that, "If the robot is used in inexperienced hands, it can be a really dangerous weapon.” Without proper training, he added, using the robot can be disorienting. The story also addresses the cost of robotic surgery. Experts also suggest patients seek out surgeons who have done more cases, because they tend to have better results. (PDF)
A feature article ran in a NY state local, daily newspaper (June 12, 2010) about Kim Walls, a non-profit administrator and mother of two, who recently underwent an islet cell transplant at HUP as part of a study to treat diabetes. HUP/Penn’s Transplant Institute is one of only eight other centers in the US and Canada performing islet cell transplants. Ali Naji, MD, PhD, professor or Surgery, surgical director of Penn’s Kidney and Pancreas Transplant Program and vice-chair of Research for Surgery, leads the study at HUP. In the procedure, 650,000 islets, or insulin-producing cells, are transplanted into a patient’s portal vein in their liver via a catheter. The new cells automatically start to produce insulin. The patient is sedated and fully conscious and the whole procedure only takes about an hour and a half and recovery is virtually immediate. According to Kim, she was on her feet right after she was wheeled back to her hospital room and didn’t have any pain. (PDF)
Brian Czerniecki, MD, PhD, an associate professor of Endocrine and Oncologic Surgery, was featured in a CBS 3 news segment (June 4, 2010) spotlighting a breast cancer vaccine trial he is leading. The vaccine, which is made with a patient’s own white blood cells, creates an immune response to kill cancer cells. “The initial results from the trail are extremely encouraging,” says Czerniecki. The patient featured in the segment was diagnosed with DCIS, a non-invasive form of breast cancer. She reports that at the end of her trial she is now cancer free. Vaccine trials like these for the treatment of cancer pave the way for future vaccines that one day may prevent the disease. (PDF)
The University City Science Center's QED Program has awarded its second round of grants for life-science technologies with high potential for commercialization. Each of the three winning teams will receive $100,000 from the science center and a $100,000 match from their employer, reported the Philadelphia Inquirer (PDF). Joseph H. Gorman III, MD, associate professor of Surgery, who is developing a minimally invasive technique for replacing damaged heart valves, was one of the three grant recipients. Coverage was also seen the Philadelphia Business Journal (PDF) and in various business journals across the country. (May 12, 2010)
An annual event held Thursday (May 6, 2010) honored HUP's trauma and surgical critical care team and the patients they provide lifesaving care to each day following car crashes, stabbings, shootings, falls and other injuries. More than ten survivors returned to the hospital to celebrate and reunite with their caregivers. A CBS3 story highlighted the event and several survivors who attended, including Vincent Lenahan, who fell 80 feet into a quarry last November and was airlifted to HUP with a severe brain injury, hypothermia and many fractures. "I can't tell you how sick some of these people were when they came in, and we really don't know whether they're going to live or die sometimes. And just to see them walk back in and looking like a regular person you might pull off the street -- it's fantastic," said Dan Holena, MD, an assistant professor of Traumatology and Surgical Critical Care. The ceremony also honored the hospital staff who traveled to Haiti to care for earthquake victims this winter. (PDF)
The Cherry Hill Courier-Post covered the April 25, 2010 dedication of a Moorestown Park to John Pryor, MD, the HUP Trauma Program Director who was killed in Iraq on Christmas Day 2008 while serving in the Army. His wife said he would have been embarrassed by the accolades that have followed his death because he never sought attention. "He believed in honor, duty and service, and he died with beliefs," she said. (PDF)
A Philadelphia Business Journal article (April 9, 2010) notes that an experimental cell therapy product being developed to reduce scarring was used for the first time on a patient. Joseph M. Serletti, MD, chief of the division of Plastic Surgery and a specialist in breast reconstruction in cancer patients, is serving as principal investigator for the cell therapy study. Serletti said advances in reconstructive surgery give women who have breast cancer choices not widely available ten years ago, but procedures such as abdominal flap technique can result in a large scar. “Scarring is a very individual thing [that varies] patient to patient,” he said. “We are excited about what is really a novel cell therapy that will give us a way to modulate the scarring in a way we have never been able to do before.” (PDF)
CBS 3 reports on a trial taking place at Penn looking at three different potential treatment options for Type 2 diabetes – gastric bypass, a lap band, or diet and lifestyle modification – to see which is most effective. "It's not being coupled with just weight loss surgery. It's also being touted as a treatment for diabetes going forward," said Noel Williams, MD, chief of Bariatric Surgery. He says gastric bypass surgery involves reducing the size of the stomach, and re-connecting the small intestine. For his patients, their diabetes goes away within six weeks of surgery. "I think one of the reasons this is happening is that there's a change in the hormones on the inside because of the flow of the food," said Williams. Researchers are accepting diabetics with a body mass index between 30 and 39, who aren't typically candidates for surgery because they aren't heavy enough. (PDF) (video)
Research led by Brendan Carr, MD, an assistant professor in the departments of Emergency Medicine and Biostatistics and Epidemiology and Patrick M. Reilly, MD, a professor of Surgery and vice-chief of the division of Traumatology and Surgical Critical Care, showing that trauma patients who are brought to the hospital at night or on weekends do not appear to be affected by the same increases in complications and mortality as patients who suffer heart attacks, strokes, cardiac arrests and other time-sensitive illnesses during those “off hours,” was featured on Time magazine’s Wellness blog (January 25, 2010). “The systems used to provide round-the-clock high quality care for trauma victims may offer some insight into how hospitals can close the care gap for other patients,” the site notes. The findings were presented last week at the Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma’s annual meeting. (PDF)
HUP OR Technician, Laura Kelchner, is featured in this month’s “Spotlight On…” section of OR Today magazine. Laura, who has assisted in transplant surgeries, also assisted in her father’s surgery but in a less traditional, much more personal way: she gave him a kidney. Their incredible story is chronicled in the article which also features Ali Naji, MD, PhD, William White professor of Surgery, Peter L. Abt, MD, Transplant Surgery, and Terry Holland, living donor coordinator.
Hansell Stedman, MD, associate professer of Surgery, will appear in PBS’s “What Darwin Never Knew,” a NOVA documentary airing Tuesday, December 29, at 8pm. Stedman will discuss his research on the relationship of myosin genes and human evolution. “What Darwin Never Knew” offers answers to riddles that Darwin couldn't explain. Breakthroughs in a brand-new science—nicknamed "evo devo"—are linking the enigmas of evolution to another of nature's great mysteries, the development of the embryo.
Pryor Honored at Fort Dix - CBS 3 and ABC 6 covered the unveiling of the Fort Dix memorial that honors John Pryor, MD, director of HUP’s trauma program, who was killed while serving with the army in Iraq on Christmas Day. (ABC6 story) (CBS3 story)
HUP physician assistant Christopher Wolfe’s amazing personal triumph over illness and adversity is featured in The Morning Call, August 26. By the age of only 14, Chris had experienced more than most would in a lifetime – a heart transplant and a subsequent battle with cancer induced by the anti-rejection drugs. Chris battled his way through a series of obstacles on his road to recovery – including further abdominal surgeries to close a hole in his diaphragm left by the ventricular assistance device which kept him alive until he received a heart and five surgeries on his right eye. But instead of his experiences creating an aversion to hospitals, Chris became a health care provider himself as a physician’s assistant. What truly brought Chris full circle, however, was when he was hired by HUP and began working with Michael Acker, MD, chief of the Division of Cardiovascular Surgery – the very same surgeon who performed his heart transplant. “The irony of this and wonder of the story is hard to get away from,” said Dr. Acker. “He’s a great guy and happens to be a wonderful physician assistant taking care of our heart surgery patients.” In addition to working at HUP, Chris also assists a Lehigh Valley psychiatrist, mainly tending to dementia patients at a nursing home. “As a transplant (survivor), you have to live day by day,” said Chris. “Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.” (PDF)
An Advance for Healthy Aging article discusses that for many women, urinary leakage unleashes a floodgate of fears. Embarrassment and shame add to the burden, along with a lack of comfortable vocabulary to discuss what's happening "down there." Combine that with a visit to a busy health care provider who is unfamiliar with advances in incontinence treatment - and unenthusiastic about opening another can of worms during the visit - and you soon have a stigma smothering a life. Diane Newman, CRNP, co-director of the Penn Center for Continence and Pelvic Health sees a varied population that often shares a troubling experience: delayed treatment. "I see women of all ages and cultures," says Newman. "What is disturbing is that they have suffered with it for years." (PDF)
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