Category Archives: Medical School

“Sugars” and cancer

Researchers across Emory are participating in numerous projects that examine the different relationships between “sugars” and cancer.

First, Emory was recently awarded two grants totaling $2.5 million dollars over five years from the National Cancer Institute to study the sugary coatings of cancer cells.  Novel diagnostic methods and anticancer treatments  are expected to come from this research.  Read more at:

Second, Emory researchers continue to investigate cancer cell’s “sugar cravings”.  Cancerous cells use up more glucose than healthy cells, as they turn off the mitochondria which are typically responsible for producing energy and instead rely on glucose.  In the video below, Jing Chen, PhD, associate professor of hematology and medical oncology at Emory University School of Medicine and Winship Cancer Institute, explains how his team is examining whether anticancer therapies can target this mis-appropriation of glucose.  To read more about the research, please visit:

Sleep improves working memory for patients with Parkinson’s disease

Researchers from the Department of Neurology, Program in Sleep Medicine at the Emory University School of Medicine investigated the role of sleep in improving the working memory of patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD).  Reduced memory capacity is a lesser known symptom associated with PD, which is more commonly associated with visibly slow movements and tremors.

The research team examined how PD patients with and without sleep apnea, a condition where the airway is obstructed and blood oxygen levels decline during sleep, performed on working memory tests after a nights’ rest.  The patients without sleep apnea performed better on the tests, and PD patients also taking dopamine-enhancing medications had improved outcomes over those not taking the medications.  For more information about the study, including comments form the first author, postdoctoral fellow Michael Scullin, please visit:


leep apnea, the disruption of sleep caused by obstruction of the airway, interfered with sleep’s effects on memory. Study participants who showed signs of sleep apnea, if it was severe enough to lower their blood oxygen levels for more than five minutes, did not see a working memory test boost.

While the classic symptoms of Parkinson’s disease include tremors and slow movements, Parkinson’s can also affect someone’s memory, including “working memory.” Working memory is defined as the ability to temporarily store and manipulate information, rather than simply repeat it. The use of working memory is important in planning, problem solving and independent living.

The findings underline the importance of addressing sleep disorders in the care of patients with Parkinson’s, and indicate that working memory capacity in patients with Parkinson’s potentially can be improved with training. The results also have implications for the biology of sleep and memory.

The results were published this week in the journal Brain.

“It was known already that sleep is beneficial for memory, but here, we’ve been able to analyze what aspects of sleep are required for the improvements in working memory performance,” says postdoctoral fellow Michael Scullin, who is the first author of the paper. The senior author is Donald Bliwise, professor of neurology at Emory University School of Medicine.

The performance boost from sleep was linked with the amount of slow wave sleep, or the deepest stage of sleep. Several research groups have reported that slow wave sleep is important for synaptic plasticity, the ability of brain cells to reorganize and make new connections.

Emory researchers move forward in developing a blood test for Alzheimer’s disease

Dr. William Hu, assistant professor of neurology at Emory University School of Medicine, in collaboration with researchers from Washington University at St. Louis, the University of Pennsylvania, and Bristol Myers Squibb have released the results of preliminary study aimed at developing a blood test for Alzheimer’s disease.  The disease is currently diagnosed through techniques like spinal taps or PET imaging, which can be uncomfortable and expensive for patients.  A blood test could not only reduce costs associated with diagnosis, but potentially offer earlier detection.

These results, based on a cohort of 600 individuals both with and without an Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis or mild cognitive impairment, revealed four potential biomarkers of the disease that could be identified in blood samples: apolipoprotein E, C-reactive protein, B-type natriuretic peptide, and pancreatic polypeptide.  For more information on the study results, please visit:

Emory University Hospital named best hospital in metro Atlanta and Georgia

In their 2012 guide to “America’s Best Hospitals”, U.S. News & World Report named Emory University Hospital the best hospital in both metro Atlanta and in the entire state of Georgia.  Further, Emory University Hospital was ranked as a national care leader in five specialties: cancer; cardiology and heart surgery; geriatrics; neurology and neurosurgery; and psychiatry.

The full details about Emory University Hospital’s rating is available through the U.S. News & World Report website.

FDA approves truvada for HIV prevention

On July 16th, 2012, the US Food and Drug Administration approved the first drug for reducing the risk of HIV infection. Gilead Science’s Truvada is actually based in part on technology developed at Emory (Emtriva). In Truvada, a fixed dose of Emtriva (Emtricitabine) is combined with Tenofovir. This exciting news for HIV prophylaxis comes shortly after recent FDA approval of the OraQuick test earlier this month for the detection of HIV using an oral saliva swab.

Visit this link to read more about Truvada and HIV prevention:

Early results from Emory study indicate progesterone may alleviate damage caused by traumatic brain injury

A team led by Emory University and financed by the National Institutes of Health is currently testing whether progesterone can reduce disability and mortality if administered within four hours after a patient experiences a traumatic brain injury.  There are currently no medications approved for reducing the effects of traumatic brain injury. In an earlier preliminary trial with 100 participants, also conducted by Emory University, the 30-day mortality rate for patients receiving progesterone injections was 13% compared with 30% for patients receiving a placebo.

The current trial is expected to include 1,140 participants from trauma centers around the country over the next three years, though the early results will be evaluated this summer and if found highly effective could be put into clinical practice earlier than originally anticipated. For more details, and commentary from Dr. Donald Stein, neuroscientist and professor of emergency medicine at Emory University, please see the following New York Times report.

Enlightenment Luncheon: a discussion regarding the rising prevalence of type 2 diabetes in children – March 14, 2012

The prevalence of type 2 diabetes in children continues to increase due to a number of factors ranging from genetics, a lack of physical activity, and poor nutrition.  This Enlightenment Luncheon, the sixth in a series hosted by the Emory School of Medicine Department of Pediatrics and local philanthropists Stephanie Blank, Lisa Rayner and Laura Turner Seydel, serves to promote dialogue between the academic, health care, and local community to improve health outcomes.

The Luncheon features Griffin Platt Rodgers, MD, MBA, director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, as the keynote speaker for the event on March 14th from noon to 2 pm at the InterContinental Hotel Buckhead’s Venetian Ballroom.  The event is open to the public, with registration beginning at 11 am.  For more information about the event, visit this website.  To purchase tickets for the event, please call 404-727-4878 or visit the online registration website.

Emory mosaic tells the history of medicine

Emory students should visit the Woodruff Health Sciences Center Administration Building during business hours to get a glimpse at our campus’ massive mosaic depicting the history of medicine.  Stretching 66 feet long and three stories tall, the mosaic uses approximately 2.5 million small tiles to document more than 30 historical events and key medical figures.  The mosaic was commissioned in part by John Skandalakis (1920-2009), directer of the Centers for Surgical Anatomy and Technique, and brought to life by Sirio Tonelli in 1996.

For more information about the mural, watch the following video available through the Emory University YouTube Channel:

Predicting tricuspid valve leakage: Changing treatments and saving lives

A joint Georgia Tech and Emory University study released in the January issue of Circulation: Cardiovascular Imaging utilized 3-D echocardiography images to develop an advanced method for predicting the severity of tricuspid valve leakage.  Not only do the study’s findings offer a new way for cardiologists to more accurately diagnose tricuspid regurgitation, but it also provided insight into ways to improve surgical repair procedures to improve long-term patient outcomes.

For a full description of the study, view this description that includes commentary by the Emory and Georgia Tech research team.

Emory University Partners with Michelle Obama’s Joining Forces Initiative

Emory University School of Medicine has joined Michelle Obama’s Joining Forces Initiative, serving with other member organizations such as the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM), to serve the health care needs of veterans through research, education, and patient care.  Veterans have unique health needs, including traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Just a few of the ways Emory University provides unique care to veterans includes:

  • Virtual reality therapy to combat phobias through the Trauma and Anxiety Recovery Program
  • A National Institutes of Health-funded phase III clinical trial to treat TBI with progesterone
  • A hand transplant protocol that uses advanced immune suppressant drugs that are less toxic
  • The BraveHeart: Welcome Back Veterans Southeast Initiative, a joint effort between Emory University and the Atlanta Braves that provides Iraq and Afghanistan veterans with access to mental health and counseling services.

More information about Emory University’s involvement in the Joining Forces Initiative is available in this press release.  Full details are available on the Initiative’s website.