Medical & Health Sciences
Arthur Schwartz | Mechanistic Insights into the Therapeutic Potential of Dehydroepiandrosterone Analogues
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is the most abundant steroid hormone in the bloodstream, although it declines significantly with age. DHEA therapeutics could have a role in the development of anti-ageing preventative medicine. Professor Emeritus Arthur Schwartz of Temple University and his colleagues at Sterotherapeutics LLC, are developing a DHEA analogue, fluasterone, which is far more potent than native DHEA and lacks DHEA’s androgenic and estrogenic side effects. Professor Schwartz is working to explain the mechanistic underpinnings of DHEA’s health benefits.
While the long-term health risks posed by poor lifestyle choices are widely recognised, the specific effects of modifiable and non-modifiable behaviours on reproductive health have been less well explored. Moreover, a gender-specific knowledge gap reportedly exists concerning fertility health. To investigate this, Dr Mary Lee Barron and her colleagues in the School of Nursing at Southern Illinois University, USA, utilised a survey-based evaluation tool to determine the current public fertility health knowledge level with a particular focus on university-aged males.
Dr Priya Sriskandarajah | Blood Clotting Risk in Haemato-Oncology Patients: Impact of Catheter Selection
Dr Patriann Smith, at the University of South Florida, is challenging the norms of literacy research, practice, and policy. Her mission seeks to shift literacy standards from monolingual, monoracial, and monocultural perspectives to embrace multilingual, multiracial, and multicultural diversity. She uses a transdisciplinary approach steeped in quantum physics and racialised entanglements referred to as ‘transraciolinguistics’ to redesign literacy and language practices to be more inclusive and accessible and redefine what it means to be literate. She is the author of the book, ‘Black Immigrant Literacies: Intersections of Race, Language, and Culture in the Classroom’ (2023) and Co-Founder of the RISE Caribbean Educational Research Center.
Lung cancer is a complex disease that remains extremely difficult to treat. Unfortunately, the conventional methods used to study it in mice have limitations when testing potential treatments. Professor Cleo Goyvaerts and Professor Hélène Salmon from Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium and Institut Curie, France, respectively, worked with colleagues to develop small 3D models of lung tumours using mouse and human cells to help develop new and more effective treatments.
Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia that affects memory and thinking, and worsens over time. Sadly, it is currently without a cure. Dr Ibrahim Javed from the University of South Australia researches the potential causes of the disease and how it progresses with time, with the aim of developing better treatments. His research focuses on the gut-brain axis, particularly the link between gut bacteria and Alzheimer’s disease, and the fascinating interplay of a molecule called amyloid-ß.
Professor Robert Brunham | Chlamydia trachomatis Through the Lens of Epidemiology, Immunology, and Genomics
Chlamydia trachomatis is the leading cause of both sexually transmitted bacterial disease and infectious blindness around the world. Professor Robert Brunham from the University of British Columbia and the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control, is an expert in the biology, prevention, and control of infectious diseases. He and his research team are using the epidemiology, immunology, and genomics of Chlamydia trachomatis in the context of evolutionary medicine to design and develop an effective vaccine.
Our vulnerability to developing diseases and conditions depends upon a complex interaction between our genes, lifestyle, and environmental factors. Alzheimer’s disease is no exception to this, and sadly, it remains without a cure. Dr Antonius VanDongen and his team from Duke University are studying the mechanisms underlying learning and memory, specifically focusing on the activity-regulated cytoskeletal memory gene Arc. Their work is driving forward our understanding of the memory problems that characterise Alzheimer’s disease.
Professor Christopher Carlin | Using Technology to Transform Care for Patients with Respiratory Diseases
Managing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a global healthcare challenge. Professor Christopher Carlin, Consultant Physician and Clinical Lead for Respiratory Medicine at the National Health Service Greater Glasgow & Clyde, is tackling this issue head-on using digital tools, including artificial intelligence-based care and remote-managed technology. He is improving patients’ quality of life by developing more proactive approaches to preventative management to reduce hospital admissions and improve clinical outcomes.
Back problems can occur at any age, and children and adolescents are no exception. A particular back condition known as spondylolisthesis can require surgery, but unfortunately, there is little agreement between specialists on the best type of procedure to fix it. Dr Andrew King from the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center pioneers new surgical approaches to treat this painful and debilitating spinal condition in younger patients.
Surgical procedures to treat urinary incontinence come with risks, and complications can include injury to the bladder, urethra, intestines, haemorrhage (bleeding), and urinary retention. Dr Christopher Jayne, founder of Greater Houston Urogyn in Houston, Texas, specialises in urogynecology and reconstructive pelvic surgery and is an expert in the surgical management of stress urinary incontinence in women. He works tirelessly to optimise the safety and efficacy of these surgical procedures by pioneering novel surgical techniques.
Understanding the biochemical processes that occur in human cells is vital for the development of treatments and the advancement of medicine more generally. Professor Avital Schurr at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, Kentucky, is an expert in neurochemistry and neurophysiology. In recent work, he explored the role of a particular molecule called lactate in the metabolic processes of the central nervous system.
Stroke is a leading cause of disability and death. Despite extensive research and the huge burden on patients and healthcare systems, treatments are sadly limited and new treatments are slow to emerge. To better understand why so many promising drugs that have worked in animal and laboratory studies failed to show the same benefits in human clinical trials, Dr Elise Van Breedam from the University of Antwerp reviewed current research methods. Her review points to the potential for human-based 3D models to bridge the gap between animal studies and human patients.
Monitoring a patient’s breathing closely is vital to medical care. However, it comes with a whole set of challenges in young children and those with certain medical conditions. Dr Thomas Shaffer and Dr Tariq Rahman from the Nemours Children’s Hospital, Delaware, USA, work together to develop novel technologies to address this issue and drive better outcomes for their younger patients.
Professor Michael Ryan | What the Ugandan Response to HIV/AIDS Can Teach Us About Collaborative Governance
Persistent problems such as poverty, disease and hunger are of critical interest to organisation and management scholars. Developing countries often struggle with intractable social issues, including susceptibility to epidemics. The complexity of these challenges means it can be difficult for leaders to organise governance and ensure that resources and capabilities are effectively coordinated. Professor Michael Ryan looks at the case study of the HIV/AIDS response in Uganda, and asks how this can contribute to our understanding of public organisation and state capacity. In particular, he explores how Uganda was successful in using collaborative governance to manage the HIV/AIDS crisis.
Adipose tissue is more commonly known as body fat. Unlike white adipose tissue, which is linked to negative cardiovascular outcomes such as metabolic syndrome, brown adipose tissue is positively related to health and may reduce the risk of cardiometabolic diseases. Professor Aaron Brown and his team at the MaineHealth Institute for Research are working to understand brown adipose tissue regulation and explore its therapeutic potential. They have already made significant advancements through the application of optogenetics, a cutting-edge technique that harnesses the power of light to precisely manipulate specific cellular processes.
Dr Simon Newstead | Professor Carolyn Wallace – The Splossary: Making Social Prescribing Understandable for Everyone
Health and wellbeing is not only determined by the level of medical care received but can be affected by a range of environmental, economic, and social factors. Social prescribing aims to address these needs, using a holistic approach that helps empower individuals to be in control of their own health and wellbeing. Professor Carolyn Wallace and Dr Simon Newstead from the Wales School for Social Prescribing Research (WSSPR) at the University of South Wales, partnered with Public Health Wales (PHW) to develop a glossary of terms for social prescribing to clarify and standardise the associated terminology.
Families can be confronted with a multitude of challenges at any time, and those with newborn babies and young children are particularly vulnerable to stress. In the face of economic hardship, health crises, and other unforeseen adversities, it is remarkable to see families harnessing their resilience. Professor Carolyn Wallace, Emeritus Professor David Pontin, and Dr Michelle Thomas from the University of South Wales focus on understanding the social and environmental factors that enable families to navigate challenges successfully. Their vital work has led to the development of the Family Resilience Assessment Instrument and Tool (FRAIT).
Clinical trials are a cornerstone of modern medicine. Before drugs and other interventions can be prescribed to patients, their safety and efficacy must be established through rigorous, tightly regulated studies. Mr Anthony Keyes and a team of administrators from Johns Hopkins University have designed and implemented programmes and checklists to improve the regulatory compliance of trials at their institution. They have shared these resources through publications, national presentations and via the Clinical Trials Registration and Results Reporting Taskforce (Taskforce).
Dr Hassan Farah worked as a Graduate Research Assistant at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Using novel approaches, he explored the complex connection between gait and balance in children with a particular form of cerebral palsy. Understanding how these children coordinate and move is vital to discovering new rehabilitation targets that will improve their overall strength and mobility.
Professor Benjamin Lauzier – Dr Manon Denis – Dr Thomas Dupas | Protein Modification in Diseases: The Role of O-GlcNAcylation
Professor Benjamin Lauzier, Dr Manon Denis, and Dr Thomas Dupas carry out their vital research at l’institut du thorax and the University of Nantes in France, working closely with different international partners such as the Sainte-Justine Research Center and the Montreal Heart Institute (both in Canada). Their work focuses on a particular type of protein modification called O-GlcNAcylation, which has been associated with a large number of health conditions. They are particularly interested in the role of O-GlcNAcylation with a focus on cardiac failure during sepsis.
Substance abuse in college students is a particular concern. Dr Susan Kennedy, Department of Psychology at Denison University in Ohio, USA, recently led a collaboration with colleagues from the Ohio State University and Kenyon College to explore alcohol and drug use in college students. More specifically, Dr Kennedy and the team wanted to identify at-risk groups and promote student well-being.
The COVID-19 pandemic prompted an explosion of clinical trials into preventative, therapeutic and diagnostic products. Dr Lisa Cooper and her colleagues at The State University of New Jersey in the USA recently investigated the relationship between the type of clinical trial sponsor (i.e., industry, academic or other) and research response time to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr Abigail Raffner Basson | Inflammatory Bowel Disease: The Influence of Our Microbiota and the Impact of Diet
Chronic inflammation within the digestive tract is known as inflammatory bowel disease. While the incidence is increasing, unfortunately, we do not yet fully understand what causes the condition or have a cure for it. Dr Abigail Raffner Basson from Case Western Reserve University is investigating the underlying mechanism of this disease and conducting clinical research into how diet can be used to control the debilitating, lifelong symptoms.
The transfer of genetic information from a parent to their offspring via deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is fundamental for the survival of a species. Evidence is emerging that epigenetic information – information independent of underlying DNA sequence – can also be transmitted to offspring and that parental environment can alter epigenetic information and influence the characteristics of future generations. Dr Upasna Sharma’s work as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School discovered a previously undescribed mode of epigenetic inheritance in sperm, and provides evidence that paternal diet can influence the descendants’ metabolic state via epigenetic mechanisms.
Attention allows us to plan and monitor our thoughts and, thus, is a critical step in the learning process. Learning can then change the physical structure of the brain. This is the reason why a team of scientists at the University of Oregon, led by Drs Michael Posner and Cristopher Niell, are exploring the effects of attention on learning and how learning changes the brain.
The health hazards associated with occupational asbestos exposure are widely acknowledged and extensively studied. However, emerging evidence suggests that prolonged exposure to environmental asbestos may trigger serious and debilitating autoimmune conditions, although the mechanistic actions remain poorly understood. Dr Jean Pfau and colleagues in the Department of Microbiology and Cell Biology at Montana State University, Bozeman, USA, have discovered a novel autoimmune disease linked to a specific type of asbestos, and have conducted extensive research regarding the causes, symptoms, and progression of this deadly condition.
Dr Karel O’Brien | Family Integrated Care: A Transformative Model Supporting Parenting in Neonatal Intensive Care Units
Staying in neonatal intensive care units is extremely difficult, not only for the babies requiring specialist care but also for their parents. Dr Karel O’Brien from the University of Toronto is part of a wider community of scientists who have devoted their careers to studying the benefits of family-centred models in neonatal units. This vital work is improving the physical and psychological outcomes for families involved in this critical but challenging and stressful process.
Acute vestibular syndrome is one of the most common reasons people present at hospital with dizziness. The symptoms can arise from damage within the brain or the ear, and specialist medical knowledge or equipment is typically needed to determine the specific cause. Dr Nakatsuka from the University of Sydney in Australia has conducted a large-scale analysis and review of the published literature to determine if well-trained emergency physicians can differentiate between the two causes using a quick bedside physical examination without expensive special equipment.
Musculoskeletal pain can be extremely debilitating and although common, it can also be difficult to treat. Dr Joshua Boucher, an osteopathic physician based at Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium, is working to show how the Fascial Distortion Model (FDM) can alleviate the pain and decreased function associated with musculoskeletal injuries. His encouraging findings are establishing the FDM as a useful clinical tool, and more research is already underway.
In precision medicine, disease prevention and treatments are specifically tailored to each individual patient, taking into account their genetics and physical function. For individuals with cancer, clinicians can carry out genomic testing to identify key markers that can be targeted for treatment. While advances in medicine mean that precision medicine has become more accessible, the efficacy of the approach in cancer remains unclear. Dr Xin-Hua Zhu at the Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell is committed to providing definitive answers as to how best we can use precision medicine in cancer treatment.
Heart attacks and cardiovascular disease are broadly considered to be the result of unhealthy habits and underlying health issues. However, pioneering research led by interventional cardiologist Professor Gemma Figtree from the University of Sydney reveals that approximately one-quarter of first-time heart attack patients do not have any known modifiable risk factors. These patients develop ‘silent’ coronary artery disease, without any warning signs. Professor Figtree and her international team at CAD Frontiers are pioneering a new approach to heart attack prevention that goes beyond traditional risk factors and symptoms.
Safety signals are learned cues that predict the non-occurrence of an aversive event and are effective in inhibiting fear and maintaining fear-motivated behaviours in anxious individuals. However, the role of inhibitory learning mechanisms in producing ‘conditioned inhibitors’ in response to safety signals has received little attention. The need to better understand this has become more pressing given the increased levels of health anxiety and safety behaviours resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Professor Helen Cassaday at the University of Nottingham and colleague Dr Meghan Thurston have evaluated the role that safety learning plays in anxiety, inhibitory learning and concerns about COVID-19.