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46 posts from July 2011

07/31/2011

How to fight infections during pregnancy...?

Researchers at the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities are hoping they might have found an answer for the increased risk to infections that women have when they're pregnant. 

"University of Minnesota Medical School researchers have identified the underlying mechanisms for this physiologic immune suppression that may lead to new therapies to help ward off infections during pregnancy," says an announcement from the U. 

The July issue of the scientific journal "Cell Host & Microbe" includes a report about the study. I note that the study was done in mice and it's important to realize that what happens in mice might not work in humans.

But the research gives scientists the foundation to study humans to see if "the immune suppressive molecule IL-10 (helps prevent infections when) removed from regulatory T cells" — without negatively affecting the outcome of the pregnancy.

Pulse on Health
By Jeff Hansel, member Association of Health Care Journalists
Health Reporter for the PostBulletin.com, 18 1st Ave. S.E. in Rochester, Minnesota 55904 
Twitter Hansel's Pulse: @Jeff Hansel

Mayo Clinic's Dr. Poland receives award.... #RochMN

Dr. Greg Poland has received a once-in-a-lifetime "Merit Award" from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

Poland, you might be aware, is an expert in infectious diseases and vaccine-related illness prevention. He's involved in research to prevent harm from biological weapons used during warfare, along with research to develop new vaccines to prevent disease.

Poland is "a professor of medicine in the College of Medicine and a consultant in the Division of General Internal Medicine. He holds joint appointments in the Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, the Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Internal Medicine and the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, Department of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine."

He also directs the Vaccine Research Group at Mayo Clinic here in Rochester, Minnesota.

The Poland announcement says the Merit Award "is intended to provide long-term, stable support to investigators whose research competence and productivity are distinctly superior and who are likely to continue to perform in an outstanding manner."

That, I'm sure, takes a little of the worry about future funding away, allowing Poland and his team to concentrate instead upon research. 

To be considered for an award, a researcher must demonstrate "exemplary" research and be "continuously NIH supported for at least three cycles of funding, and for which two concurrent competitive renewals receive a top score in their study section, and for which no revisions or amendments were required."

Only about 5 percent of National Institutes of Health-funded scientists ever receive such a distinction.

Here's a shout out to Dr. Poland

Pulse on Health
By Jeff Hansel, member Association of Health Care Journalists
Health Reporter for the PostBulletin.com, 18 1st Ave. S.E. in Rochester, Minnesota 55904 
Twitter Hansel's Pulse: @Jeff Hansel

07/30/2011

Benefit for Hope Lodge in Rochester, Minnesota... #RochMN

The High Point Block Party coming up includes a fundraiser for the Sandra J. Schulze American Cancer Society Hope Lodge.

Time: 4 p.m. until midnight.

Date: Saturday, August 13 (2011)

Location: Bear's Den, 845 High Point Drive in Byron

There's a Facebook page for the "High Point Block Party." Scheduled bands include "Fall Down Easy" and "Break Even."

Bean bag tournament registration starts at 4 p.m. 

Tickets: Tickets are $8 in advance or $10 at the door. $2 from every ticket goes directly to Hope Lodge. For the bean bag tournament, ticket price is $10 per person or $20 per team of two.

Pulse on Health
By Jeff Hansel, member Association of Health Care Journalists
Health Reporter for the PostBulletin.com, 18 1st Ave. S.E. in Rochester, Minnesota 55904 
Twitter Hansel's Pulse: @Jeff Hansel

Free mental illness recovery education....

The National Alliance on Mental Illness plans a free, one-day educational workshop "that provides families and individuals with information on mental illnesses, practical coping strategies, and hope for recovery."

Time: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Date: Saturday, August 20, 2011 

Location: Owatonna Public Library, 105 North Elm Avenue, Owatonna, Minnesota.

Registration: Is requested.

To register: Call 1-888-NAMI-Helps or 651-645-2948.

Pulse on Health
By Jeff Hansel, member Association of Health Care Journalists
Health Reporter for the PostBulletin.com, 18 1st Ave. S.E. in Rochester, Minnesota 55904 
Twitter Hansel's Pulse: @Jeff Hansel

07/29/2011

Rockin' at Thursday on First.... #RochMN

Stumbled into the midst of Thursdays on First yesterday while actually out for some exercise with a coworker.

The music drew us and the crowd kept us. There were so many people bobbing their heads and swaying their hips to the tunes that you couldn't help but secretly want to dance.

Many in the crowd did just that. 

IMG00006
[Conga line at Thursdays on First. Cell phone photo by Jeff Hansel. Copyright.]

Beach balls bounced in the air. Many joined a conga line. Some danced alone. Some danced in pairs. And some danced in groups. While many of the rest of us just stood where we were and bobbed in some fashion or another. 

IMG00015
[Thursdays on First crowd, July 28, 2011. Cell phone photo by Jeff Hansel. Copyright.]

It was, simply put, a good time in downtown Rochester.

One of the many, many reasons I love living here (great fishing available within the city limits, Ice Hawks hockey, Honkers baseball, free Sunday night summer concerts Down by the Riverside, farmers market, Civic Center events like the upcoming roller derby and Bill Cosby and Kenny Rogers and Billy Dean).

The list is long. Thanks Rochesterites, for making this an awesome place to live.

Pulse on Health
By Jeff Hansel, member Association of Health Care Journalists
Health Reporter for the PostBulletin.com, 18 1st Ave. S.E. in Rochester, Minnesota 55904 
Twitter Hansel's Pulse: @Jeff Hansel

Thanks for the summer memories... #RochMN

I want to thank the Model T Ford Club 55th Annual Tour for its presence in Rochester, Minnesota the week of July 18, 2011.

That happened to be a vacation for me after I'd been away on educational training. My cell phone died and I was out of touch (I'd even put my newspaper on do-not-deliver with a vacation pack awaiting afterward).

So it was pretty cool to have Model Ts and As and everything in between driving around the city as if it was more than 50 years ago. 

The International Jugglers Association was also in town that week. By happenstance I walked through the Civic Center and a young person was playing ping-pong against a wall. When something like that's going on, you can just tell there's a "different crowd" in town.

Got to see some video of the juggling and produced some chest-heaving laughter and gushes of awe as I saw some pretty amazing and hilarious talent.

I'll say to both groups: Please come back as soon as your able. You made my summer, even if I only saw you from the periphery. 

Pulse on Health
By Jeff Hansel, member Association of Health Care Journalists
Health Reporter for the PostBulletin.com, 18 1st Ave. S.E. in Rochester, Minnesota 55904 
Twitter Hansel's Pulse: @Jeff Hansel

07/28/2011

Healing waters of Rochester... #RochMN

Some elf-like activity will be happening in Rochester Friday when the 6th Annual Healing Waters Project brings a donated soothing water garden to a local resident living with breast cancer.

So if you see some strange activity along Strathmore Lane in Rochester at the home of Judy Williams Friday, don't be surprised if the workers are doing something pretty cool for her.

She's getting a "pondless waterfall." It's basically a small waterfall that disappears into a bed of rocks. It'll provide the soothing sound of running water and a pleasant setting for relaxation.

Word on the street is that Williams has invited friends to stop in to see the construction and/or completion of the project.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 202,964 women were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007, the latest year for which statistics were available. 

CDC silver and blue wall plaque
[Inside the CDC. Photo by Jeff Hansel. Copyright.]

Pulse on Health
By Jeff Hansel, member Association of Health Care Journalists
Health Reporter for the PostBulletin.com, 18 1st Ave. S.E. in Rochester, Minnesota 55904 
Twitter Hansel's Pulse: @Jeff Hansel

You can help the Boys & Girls Club.... #RochMN

The Boys & Girls Club of Rochester, Minnesota is in the final week of its annual "Make an Impact" fundraising campaign.

You've still got time to help out, if you're able.

I spoke with an individual this morning who tells me many kids served by Boys & Girls Club deal with hunger because their families do not have enough food and much of their sustenance comes from snacks and meals they get at Boys & Girls Club.

You can offer a one-time monetary donation, ongoing donations, volunteer time, corporate or in-kind donations.

Boys and Girls Club Rochester Minnesota via Blackberry
[A fog-draped image of the Boys & Girls Club in Rochester (taken with cell phone). Photo by Jeff Hansel. Copyright.]

I read a couple of the club's "success stories" online today and got some insight about the club's goals of encouraging life joy, leadership, skills building and family success. 

For one 16-year-old, for example, the club helped him deal with "insecurities, questions, and emotions. The club taught (him) about self-confidence and gave him hope and opportunity for a successful future, and he truly believed in the direction that the caring staff was taking him in."

If helping interests you, check out the Boys & Girls Club donation site. If you aren't able help financially, perhaps you'll be interested in volunteering.

One in three club alumni surveyed were the first in their families to go to college, according to the club's website, and 57 percent said the club "saved their life." 

Pulse on Health
By Jeff Hansel, member Association of Health Care Journalists
Health Reporter for the PostBulletin.com, 18 1st Ave. S.E. in Rochester, Minnesota 55904 
Twitter Hansel's Pulse: @Jeff Hansel

07/27/2011

Mayo Clinic past — and future! #RochMN

Be sure to check out the print edition of the Post-Bulletin Thursday, where you'll find an insert titled "Mayo Merger at 25: Mayo Clinic, Saint Marys Hospital and Rochester Methodist Hospital joind forces in 1986, becoming a medical powerhouse."

The special section is chock full of interesting musings about Mayo Clinic's past 25 years, and some unique tastes of its plans for the future.

There's a comparison by Post-Bulletin reporter Andrew Owens of Mayo, Cleveland Clinic and Johns Hopkins, some input from myself and even a guest appearance by retired Post-Bulletin health reporter Ken McCracken.

You'll read about the 25th anniversary of Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida and its research start in trailers; the continuation of the Saint Marys Catholic identity and the clinic's governing structure.

If you're an online reader from outside Minnesota and want to get your hands on a print copy of Thursday's newspaper (July 28, 2011), they'll be available for purchase by calling 507-285-7600. Be sure to emphasize that your want a copy of the 25th Mayo Clinic integration anniversary insert.

It's my personal opinion that anyone interested in Mayo will find this special publication to be one to keep. If you're already a subscriber, you will find the special section in Thursday's newspaper.

Pulse on Health
By Jeff Hansel, member Association of Health Care Journalists
Health Reporter for the PostBulletin.com, 18 1st Ave. S.E. in Rochester, Minnesota 55904 
Twitter Hansel's Pulse: @Jeff Hansel

Mayo Clinic hockey concussions "call to action"... #RochMN

Mayo Clinic's 2010 "Ice Hockey Summit on Concussion: A Call to Action" has resulted in a "call to action" from Mayo sports medicine experts and publication this month (July 2011) in several journals.

I note that even the summit includes the word concussion, rather than "brain injury." Whenever you read the word concussion, you should translate that to its true meaning: Brain injury.

Every concussion is, in fact, a brain injury.

"Hockey is unique from other contact sports. It is a skilled, fast and exciting game, but the frequent collisions, rigid boards, sticks and puck contribute to risk of injury. Younger players need to first develop their skills, and those who administer the game must strive to minimize injury risk— especially to the brain," a Mayo announcement quotes Dr. Michael Stuart chief medical officer of USA Hockey, and a health provider at Mayo's Sports Medicine Center here in Rochester, Minnesota.

Mayo's call to action, developed during the summit of experts who included players, athletic trainers, coaches, neurologists and association representatives, includes:
• Mandate education for coaches, parents, players and officials.
• Eliminate head contact.
• Teach body contact and checking at younger age levels, but postpone body checking in games until age 13.
• Collect concussion data using a consistent, hockey-specific definition in well-designed studies.

A report on the summit's findings appear in several journals this month, including: Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine, Current Sports Medicine Reports, American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, The Clinical Neuropsychologist, Sports Medicine Bulletin, PM&R, and PhyzForum, according to Mayo.

Wide dissemination of the information is important, the clinic reports, because of its wide public health importance and pertinence to multiple medical specialties.

"Mayo Clinic in Arizona this summer began making baseline concussion testing available at no cost to more than 100,000 high school student athletes in Arizona, leading up to the 2011-12 sports season," the clinic noted.

Pulse on Health
By Jeff Hansel, member Association of Health Care Journalists
Health Reporter for the PostBulletin.com, 18 1st Ave. S.E. in Rochester, Minnesota 55904 
Twitter Hansel's Pulse: @Jeff Hansel