Emory Report
July 23, 2007
Volume 59, Number 35

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July 23, 2007
Health advances highlight summer

Michael M.E. Johns is CEO of Woodruff Health Sciences Center, executive vice president for health affairs and chairman of Emory Healthcare.

A lot of excitement was generated on campus recently with the news that the Rollins School of Public Health received a gift of $50 million from the O. Wayne Rollins Foundation and Grace Crum Rollins.

There is no doubt about the importance this holds for Emory’s ability to improve health and prevent disease both locally and globally.

Other notable summer highlights include recruiting Dr. Dennis Choi, a neuroscientist renowned for his groundbreaking research on brain and spinal cord injury, to lead Emory’s neuroscience programs, and Dr. Allan Kirk as the new scientific director of the Emory Transplant Center and a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar.

These achievements underscore Emory’s vision, which includes recruiting leading scholars and teachers as well as attracting and developing the best staff.

And speaking of our scholars and dedicated staff — I would like to highlight some of our prevention endeavors and stellar patient care that continue to make people healthy and empower our patients and families in recovery from illness.

A recent front-page story in the Wall Street Journal on Emory University Hospital’s Neuro Intensive Care Unit pointed to Emory as a national leader fulfilling a promise to its patients by providing cutting-edge health care in a patient-and family-centered environment. Dr. Owen Samuels says the work of the Neuro ICU incorporates core principles of evidence-based, patient-centered design — a holistic approach that focuses on the patient’s physical and emotional environment as a tool to facilitate healing.

Everyone talks about slowing down in the summertime, but you won’t find this happening at Emory. A study by Emory doctors in the August 2007 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine reported ways to help men talk with their doctors about whether or not to get tested for prostate cancer. Dr. Sunil Kripalani’s findings show that such patient interventions are effective in underserved populations, and they work primarily by empowering men to raise the topic with their doctor.

A recent study by Dr. Nanette Wenger in the Annals of Internal Medicine showed that older patients with stable cardiovascular disease may benefit from the same cholesterol lowering drugs used by younger patients. The key to beneficial treatment appears to be dosage.

A pilot program in the Emory Center for Rehabilitation Medicine is developing an educational approach to improve caregiver and patient outcomes. Dr. Steve Wolf says the main goal of this project is to enhance patient and family-centered care by looking at depression, fatigue and other health-related quality of life issues. He believes finding ways to address the needs of the patient and family will enhance clinical care and may improve long-term outcomes.

Emory researchers led by Dr. James Lah are studying an omega-3 fatty acid called DHA to determine if it can slow the progression of mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Lah hopes that by learning more about the role of DHA in slowing this destructive disease, he can help his patients live a better quality of life.

Emory is participating in one of the largest Parkinson’s disease clinical trials to determine if the nutritional supplement creatine can slow the progression of symptoms. Dr. Jorge Juncos says if the findings are positive the results will have a lasting impact in the treatment of all stages of this illness. His goal is to offer enhanced therapies to patients with Parkinson’s disease that will improve their quality of life.

A note for those who suffer from allergies and dislike weekly or monthly allergy shots: Emory doctors now can provide self-administered, daily allergy drops placed under the tongue. Dr. Alpen Patel says the new form of treatment is much more convenient for patients, equally effective and safer than receiving allergy injections.
I wish I could describe all of the fine Emory achievements improving patient and family quality of life reported during these summer months. I can say emphatically that we have tangible evidence every day here at Emory that we are having a measurable impact on the health of the people and populations we serve. As always, our mantra is to serve humanity by improving health — making people healthy — by using our amazing talent and focused resources to provide the best care for our patients.