Emory Report
February 5, 2007
Volume 59, Number 18


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February 5, 2007
Research Roundup

Researchers find new way to track brain tumors
Researchers at Emory University's Winship Cancer Institute have identified the first cerebrospinal spinal fluid protein fingerprint that can identify low- and high-grade astrocytomas -- a type of brain tumor that were once thought to arise from small, star-shaped cells in the brain called astrocytes. The finding could lead to potential new tools for the detection, diagnosis, prognosis and follow-up after therapy of these deadly brain tumors. The researchers also found that some of these protein biomarkers may play a critical role in the development and progression of astrocytomas. This knowledge could lead them to identify targets for new therapies. The study, "Proteomic Identification of Biomarkers in the Cerebrospinal Fluid of Astrocytoma Patients," is published in the February issue of the Journal of Proteome Research.

Emory cardiologists perform first live patient virtual reality 'test mission'
Using virtual reality technology, physicians can now practice various cardiovascular catheter-based procedures on a virtual patient simulator. This technology allows a physician to practice a procedure virtually using the patient's exact anatomy, and then subsequently to perform the same technique on the live patient once the procedure has been mastered. Christopher Cates, director of vascular intervention at Emory Hospitals, reports on the first virtual reality "mission rehearsal" of a carotid stenting procedure in the Jan. 17 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. "Virtual reality simulation training to proficiency has been recommended in the certification process for carotid stenting," said Cates, calling it a "revolutionary step in medicine."

Emory Eye Center physician awarded Senior Scientific Investigator Award
Emory Eye Center's Hans E. Grossniklaus, F. Phinizy Calhoun Jr. Professor of Ophthalmology and director of the L.F. Montgomery Pathology Laboratory, has been granted a $75,000 Senior Scientific Investigator Award by Research to Prevent Blindness. RPB Senior Scientific Investigator Awards support nationally recognized senior scientists conducting eye research at medical institutions in the United States. Grossniklaus, an ophthalmologist and ocular pathologist, said he plans to use the award for translational research for the treatment of eye melanoma.

Telepsychiatry program connects older adults with Emory psychiatrists
The Fuqua Center for Late-Life Depression at Emory University School of Medicine has launched a telepsychiatry program that uses videoconferencing technology to connect older adults living in rural communities with Emory psychiatrists. The service provided through the Fuqua Center for Late-Life Depression is one of a number of telemedicine services Emory will put into place to better serve patients across the state of Georgia.

There are more than 30 sites at various locations throughout the state that are designated and equipped for telemedicine available to patients who select this option. The patient and doctor are able to see and hear each other by way of a computer monitor and a special camera. A nurse is present at each program site to check vital signs before the patient is seated, and remains in the room until the session is completed.

HIV vaccine study nears enrollment limit at Emory's Hope Clinic
The Hope Clinic of the Emory Vaccine Center reported that the Step Study, a multicenter international study of an HIV vaccine developed by Merck and Co. Inc., has successfully enrolled more than 2,800 people and expects to finalize enrollment within the next few months. Cosponsored by the HIV Vaccine Trials Network, the study plans to fill 200 slots at the participating sites in North and South America, the Caribbean and Australia. "Our community is well aware of the need for a vaccine against HIV and has demonstrated its commitment by stepping forward to volunteer for the study," said Carlos del Rio, principal investigator for the Step Study at Emory.

Emory physician elected chair of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
Charles B. Nemeroff, the Reunette W. Harris professor and chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Emory University School of Medicine, has been elected to chair the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention's Scientific Council. The AFSP Scientific Council is responsible for and advises the board of directors on all matters pertaining to the foundation's mental health, medical and scientific activities and projects, including suicide prevention research and programs. The Council is comprised of nationally recognized researchers and clinicians with expertise in the biological, genetic and psychosocial factors that can contribute to suicide.