UT Southwestern in the News — November 2010

November 2010

Dallas Morning News – Parkland honored for kidney transplant program (Nov. 29, 2010)
Parkland was honored in October for the high survival rates of its transplant patients. The National Learning Congress, a group that recognizes best practices in organ donation and transplantation, awarded Parkland and nine other hospitals a silver medal. Dallas County's public hospital boasts the oldest organ-transplant program in the southwestern U.S., although it no longer commands center stage. Five local hospitals, including Parkland's training partner,
UT Southwestern, now specialize in organ transplantation. Read More

Huffington Post – How family dinners with young children could help curb bullying (Nov. 26, 2010)
If you're ever struggling to make dinner-table conversation with a young child, one question will save you every time: "So tell me, what was the favorite part of your day?" My family has turned this question into a family dinner ritual. The Dairy Council of California jumped onto the family-dinner bandwagon by claiming that family dinners could create lifetime benefits including better grades, lower intakes of sugary soft drinks and a possible 40-percent reduction in the chance that a child will bully someone else. A 40-percent reduction related to bullying was huge. Did certain conversation topics make a difference? Was there an average time parents spent talking to kids? I tracked down the lead researcher for the study. Dr. Rashmi Shetgiri, an assistant professor of pediatrics at UT Southwestern, comments. Read More

Austin American-Statesman – Minicucci has learned to be thankful each day (Nov. 24, 2010)
Every day is Thanksgiving Day for Mike Minicucci, who is two years into a battle with a brain tumor. You might not know Minicucci unless you are in the loop in local golf or work in the real estate business. Ask any local golfer, "Who is the best amateur in Austin?" and Minicucci's name will be on everybody's short list. Doctors first suspected an ear infection was bothering him. What they found was unimaginable — a brain tumor. "The first doctor gave me two years (to live)," Minicucci recalls. Minicucci sought other opinions from doctors at M. D. Anderson in Houston and in New York. The verdict was the same. Surgery was too risky, and other treatments did not appear viable. Minicucci finally found someone who would take his case — Dr. Bruce Mickey, a neurological surgeon at UT Southwestern. Read More

United Press International – Leftover turkey left out can make you sick (Nov. 24, 2010)
Leaving the carcass of a turkey on the kitchen counter after Thanksgiving for sandwiches for dinner or a snack can make everyone sick, a U.S. dietitian warns. Dr. Vickie Vaclavik, a registered dietitian at UT Southwestern, says when it comes to food, everyone should remember the 2-hour rule — never let cooked food stay outside the refrigerator for more than 2 hours. Cream or milk-based foods and meats — the staples of Thanksgiving dinner — are prone to spoiling when they sit out at room temperature too long. "Put away leftovers right after a meal instead of leaving them out, or else keep these foods warm or on ice," Vaclavik says. "On a buffet, put out smaller amounts and then replenish the dishes frequently.” Read More

Dallas Morning News – Fried turkey can result in splatter burns when not cooked carefully (Nov. 24, 2010)
One of the hottest holiday culinary ideas in recent years is fried turkey. But Dallas doctors and fire officials say that those frying the nonflying fowl this season should take extra precautions to prevent burning themselves or starting a fire. Dr. Paul Pepe, chairman of emergency medicine at UT Southwestern, said that dangerous splattering can occur "when you take anything that is water-based into hot oil." Not only do emergency personnel see many splatter injuries at this time of year, but Dr. Pepe said there is another risk lurking with the preparation of fried turkeys. "You not only have the splatter burns, but you can have this whole pot that can tip over and burn people," Dr. Pepe said. "Grease burns or oil burns are the worst, because when oil gets on you it's harder to get the oil off of you."Read More

Dallas Morning News – Athlete who benefited from transplant services center gets a chance to thank donor's family (Nov. 21, 2010)
Joey Ianiero’s dream of becoming a Major League Baseball player was jeopardized by a devastating knee injury he suffered in a game. But now his knee has been reconstructed and his dream kept alive by a donated tendon from a Sherman man who died in a fall. Ianiero, a collegiate player in Pennsylvania, met the wife and son of donor Thomas Pettit on Sunday at UT Southwestern. “I’d like to say ‘thank you’ for everything,” Ianiero told Debi Pettit and Brandon Pettit on an auditorium stage. The meeting highlighted an annual event that honors people who have donated and received tissues through the Transplant Services Center at UT Southwestern. More than 400 people attended. Read More

Los Angeles Times – Rodent of the Week: How labor begins (Nov. 20, 2010)
The start of labor has always been something of a mystery. How does the body know when it's time to send junior out of his or her watery cocoon and into the real world? Clues have trickled in over the last several decades. A study published this week identifies another piece of the puzzle. Hormones are known to be involved as a trigger to labor. But researchers at UT Southwestern discovered that small molecules called microRNAs work with hormones to control the onset of labor. The scientists measured the levels in the uteri of mice in mid-pregnancy and again when they were near labor. The research could help doctors create RNA-based drugs that could prevent preterm labor, said the senior author of the study, Dr. Carole Mendelson comments. Read More

Reuters – Organ fat linked to liver surgery risks (Nov. 18, 2010)
The amount of fat packed between a patient's organs may help predict problems following major liver surgery, suggests a new study. The fat sitting below the skin, however, appears to be less important. Any major operation comes with a range of possible complications, and how long patients stay at the hospital varies accordingly, said Dr. Yuman Fong of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, who led the study. The measurement would usually be available without adding extra cost, Dr. Robert Rege of UT Southwestern, comments. Read More

KDFW-TV (Fox 4) – Body scanners safe for pregnant fliers, experts say (Nov. 17, 2010)
Experts say the new full body scanners at airports will expose pregnant fliers to far less radiation than the actual flight. Still, some women are hesitant to walk through. FOX 4's Natalie Solis explains. The head of the TSA says those intrusive full body pat-downs and revealing airport scans are here to stay. But how dangerous is the radiation? UT Southwestern Professor Michael Story studies radiation. He says a person is exposed to a thousand times more radiation during a regular chest X-ray than the scanner and cosmic radiation as we fly at 30,000 feet is more of a concern than a walk through the new devices. Watch Video

Dallas Morning News – FDA issues warning to makers of alcoholic energy drinks, days after crash kills Arlington teen (Nov. 18, 2010)
Federal regulators issued warning letters today to four manufacturers of alcoholic energy drinks — days after one such beverage was linked to a drunken driving crash that killed a 14-year-old Arlington girl. Labeling caffeine an "unsafe food additive" for alcoholic drinks, the Food and Drug Administration said the combination creates a public health concern and can lead to "a state of wide-awake drunk." Dr. Stacey Hail, assistant professor of emergency medicine and medical toxicology at UT Southwestern, comments. Read More

Christian Broadcasting Network – FDA to ban caffeine from alcoholic drinks (Nov. 17, 2010)
The Food and Drug Administration could soon ban caffeinated alcohol drinks like the controversial caffeinated malt beverage Four Loko. After a year of study, the FDA is expected to rule Wednesday it is not safe to mix alcohol and caffeine. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., has been pushing the Obama administration for the ban in recent days. "I think most parents are probably not aware of this fruit-flavored energy drink that has caffeine — which most folks will go 'Oh...not a big deal!',” said Dr. Kurt Kleinschmidt, the chief of toxicology for UT Southwestern. “And, they may not have heard the part how much alcohol is in it. So, the parents and the kids both can walk into this blinded path and can have very bad consequences." Read More

WFAA-TV (Ch. 8) – Feds expected to ban alcoholic 'energy drinks' (Nov. 16, 2010)
Valeria Rodriguez, 14, was killed in a car wreck in Denton Sunday morning. The tragic death of the high school freshman may help spur new federal regulations on alcoholic "energy" drinks. The two boys in the car with Valeria were drinking the alcoholic energy beverage Four Loko. The Food and Drug Administration is expected to find that caffeine is an unsafe food additive to alcoholic drinks like Four Loko — essentially banning them — and manufacturers will then be warned that marketing caffeinated alcoholic beverages could be illegal. Dr. Kurt Kleinschmidt comments. Watch Video

Nature – MicroRNAs mediate an early birth (Nov. 16, 2010)
The molecular changes that trigger the uterus to start contracting at the beginning of childbirth have been worked out in detail. The research could eventually help the design of therapies to prevent premature birth, a significant cause of infant mortality and disability in developed countries. There are few effective treatments to block early labour, perhaps in part because the molecular mechanism that underlies the onset of contractions has remained elusive — until now. Biochemist Carole Mendelson of UT Southwestern comments. Read More

Health News Digest – MicroRNAs control labor, may block premature birth (Nov. 15, 2010)
Serotonin — a brain chemical known to help regulate emotion, mood and sleep — might also have anti-diabetic properties, says new research. The findings by the researchers at
UT Southwestern also offer a potential explanation for why individuals prescribed certain kinds of anti-psychotic drugs that affect serotonin signalling sometimes have problems with their metabolism, including weight gain and the development of diabetes. "In this paper, we describe a circuit in the brain that may explain the anti-diabetic actions of serotonin-receptor signalling," said Dr Joel Elmquist, professor of internal medicine and pharmacology at UT Southwestern and senior author of the study. "This discovery tells us that drugs that affect serotonin action can have anti-diabetic actions independent of body weight and feeding," he added. Read More

BioScholar News – Anti-diabetic properties observed in brain chemical that regulates mood (Nov. 13, 2010)
Serotonin — a brain chemical known to help regulate emotion, mood and sleep — might also have anti-diabetic properties, says new research. The findings by the researchers at
UT Southwestern also offer a potential explanation for why individuals prescribed certain kinds of anti-psychotic drugs that affect serotonin signalling sometimes have problems with their metabolism, including weight gain and the development of diabetes. Dr Joel Elmquist comments. Read More

Medical News Today – Circuit regulating anti-diabetic actions of serotonin uncovered (Nov. 11, 2010)

New findings by researchers at UT Southwestern suggest that serotonin — a brain chemical known to help regulate emotion, mood and sleep — might also have anti-diabetic properties. The findings, appearing this week in Nature Neuroscience, also offer a potential explanation for why individuals prescribed certain kinds of anti-psychotic drugs that affect serotonin signaling sometimes have problems with their metabolism, including weight gain and development of diabetes. Dr. Joel Elmquist, professor of internal medicine and pharmacology and senior author of the study, comments. Read More

Medical News Today – Link between adrenal gland hormone, brain in hypertension (Nov. 10, 2010)
A hormone already responsible for increasing blood pressure by prompting the kidneys to retain salt appears to moonlight as a major stimulator of the brain centers that control the vascular system and blood pressure. Researchers at UT Southwestern studied patients who overproduce aldosterone to see whether the hormone had any effect on sympathetic nerve activity responsible for blood pressure increases. Dr. Wanpen Vongpatanasin, associate professor of internal medicine and senior author of the study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, comments. Read More

New York Times – Glimpsing a scientific future as fields heat up (Nov. 8, 2010)
About 25 years ago, I had a job interview for a reporter position, and it seemed to me that things were going well. Then I was asked, “What will be the important medical news next year?” I replied that the reason science reporting is exciting is that the big discoveries are so unpredictable. But the interviewer pressed, and I realized I had to come up with something, so I said: “Gene therapy. It is likely that next year gene therapy will be shown to work and medicine will be transformed.” Well, I am still waiting for that to happen. But was I right to say advances are unpredictable? Yes and no, scientists say. Dr. Joseph Goldstein, a Nobel laureate who is professor and chairman of the department of molecular genetics at UT Southwestern, comments. Read More

Chicago Tribune – Freezing fat might shrink it (Nov. 8, 2010)
Two new products take a cold approach to fat loss. In September, the Food and Drug Administration approved Zeltiq's CoolSculpting system for fat removal. Women who want to try freezing fat without a doctor's visit can try slipping on a pair of Cool Shapes Contouring Shorts from FreezeAwayFat. Freezing away fat may seem like an odd concept, but carefully applied cold really can trim a waistline, says Dr. Jeffrey Kenkel, professor of plastic surgery at UT Southwestern, comments. Read More

Wall Street Journal – Closely watched Pfizer drug helps arthritis symptoms (Nov. 8, 2010)
The first late-stage trial of one of the most important drugs in Pfizer Inc.'s research pipeline showed it improved symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, but didn't lead to a statistically significant improvement in remission rates compared with a fake drug. "The drug reduced signs and symptoms in a majority of patients significantly, and in a majority of patients the drug allows them to have better activities of daily living," said Dr. Roy Fleischmann, a study author and professor of internal medicine at UT Southwestern. Results of the company-funded study are being presented at the annual scientific meeting of the American College of Rheumatology, which runs Sunday through Thursday in Atlanta. Read More

WFAA-TV (Ch. 8) – Tempting your kids with healthy meals (Nov. 5, 2010)
Beyond daycare and school, families have bigger challenges at home — not only finding affordable ways for parents to fix meals, but also getting kids to eat them. UT Southwestern nutritionist Lona Sandon suggests a few ways to help feed your family right. "Kids can be picky and finicky about their food," Sandon says. "One thing is, parents need to eat healthy. Kids will model what their parents do. The second thing is, take those kids grocery shopping with you. It may take a little longer, but have them pick out some of the healthy foods that they like."  Watch Video

United Press International – Talk slowly to those with Alzheimer's (Nov. 4, 2010)
Speaking slowly, simplifying questions and being aware of non-verbal cues can improve communication with those with Alzheimer's disease, a Dallas expert says. Kristin Martin-Cook — clinical trials coordinator of the Alzheimer's Disease Center at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas — suggests when talking to someone with Alzheimer's disease or memory problems, do not criticize the person's speech or point out memory gaps. Instead, prompt the person with missing words matter-of-factly, she suggests. "Pay attention not only to what needs to be said, but how to say it," Martin-Cook says. Martin-Cook suggests when speaking to a person with memory problems: When asking for a decision, present a few options to choose from rather than asking open-ended questions; Speak in short, simple sentences and use gestures as appropriate; Give directions one step at a time; Speak clearly and slowly without background noise. Read More

Health Canal – UT Southwestern first site in North America to house, test advanced cancer treatment system (Nov. 4, 2010)
Over the years, as many as 200 homeless veterans visited Dr. Joel Feiner's cluttered office at the Dallas VA Medical Center. They suffered from severe depression, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and addictions. One in five homeless people is a veteran, according to the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance. Dallas has an estimated 5,750 homeless residents on any given night — with more than 1,200 of them veterans. Feiner recently retired as medical director of the VA's Comprehensive Homeless Center and as a professor at UT Southwestern, making for some tearful goodbyes. Read More

Health News Digest – Mother’s milk can help protect infants from H1N1 (Nov. 3, 2010)
With the H1N1 flu strain particularly threatening to young children, parents and caregivers are wondering what they can do to protect newborns who are too young to be vaccinated. Dr. Jeffrey Kahn, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at UT Southwestern, says that while little is known about preventing H1N1 flu infection in infants, following everyday precautions such as washing your hands with soap and water before handling a baby is always a good idea. Breastfeeding is also beneficial, he says. “It’s well-documented that babies who aren’t breastfed get sick from infections like the flu more often and more severely than breastfed babies,” Dr. Kahn says. “That’s because breast milk is custom-made to fight diseases that both a mother and her baby are exposed to.” Read More

KTVT-TV (CBS 11) – Popular children’s bracelet concerns parents (Nov. 1, 2010)
Many North Texas children are banding together to see and be seen with the latest shape wrapped around their wrist. Specially-shaped bracelets are gaining prominence in American elementary schools. They’re shaped like animals, objects, numbers and more, and are often traded. Gina Corwin, a mother of ten children, said she rarely panics, but knew something was wrong. Her two-and-a-half year old son Huck Corwin slept with about 20 of the shaped rubber bands wrapped around his wrist. Corwin said when he woke up, his once-tiny hand was swollen and blue. Dr. Craig Huang, an assistant professor of pediatrics at UT Southwestern, comments. Read More