Dartmouth Medicine Fall 2010
Dear Reporter, Editor, or News Director:
In the Fall 2010 issue of Dartmouth Medicine, read about:
How opioids can actually worsen pain: Awareness has been rising about the fact that while opioids (such as morphine, methadone, and oxycodone) may be saviors for some people who suffer from chronic pain, for others they can actually worsen the pain. But how that happens has been unclear. Now, a Dartmouth study suggests the nervous system's glial cells may be key players in that untoward effect. See page 3.
Probing the mysteries of biofilms: Biofilms can be as mundane as slime on a shower curtain or as menacing as an antibiotic-resistant bacterial colony in a human lung. Dartmouth researchers have made major progress in understanding what makes these mysterious aggregations of microorganisms tick. See page 26.
Delivering the goods: When U.S. health care is good, it's very, very good. But when it's bad . . . well, it's no secret the system needs fixing. A concerted new effort at Dartmouth is tackling the problem. See page 32.
Building a better virus vector: The decades-long effort to develop vaccines against cancer took a step forward with the publication of a recent paper by a Dartmouth immunology lab, showing that a viral vector based on persistent rather than acute viruses may be more effective. See page 8.
Making history for women: Dartmouth Medical School led the way at Dartmouth in admitting women, 50 years ago this fall accepting the first woman medical student-8 years before the business school, 10 years before the engineering school, and 12 years before the undergraduate program. And 23 years ago, Dartmouth Medical School made national history by becoming, as far as is known, the first U.S. medical school not historically a woman-only school to admit a class with more than 50% women. See page 12.
A new way of short-circuiting addiction?: Schizophrenia and substance abuse often go hand in hand. That coincidence sparked a 17-year quest by Dartmouth's chair of psychiatry that is now bearing fruit-the development of a promising new drug combination that takes a new approach to treating addiction. Studies suggest that the drug combo may be changing the reward circuit in the brain. See page 5.
Keeping teens emotionally healthy: A study by a team of psychiatrists and pediatricians has teased out of a national database an assortment of factors that affect teen self-esteem. Some (such as age and race) can't be modified, but some (such as weight and participation in team sports) could be addressed. See page 6.
A somersaulting, picture-taking pill: A team of Dartmouth researchers has tested in humans the first wireless capsule capable of being externally controlled by magnets. It's just a first step but may eventually lead to a pill that can not only snap pictures as it passes through the gastrointestinal tract but that can be directed to stop at a particular spot and collect biopsy specimens. See page 7.
Help for doctors making agonizing decisions: Sometimes it's very clear that a child's injuries were caused by abuse rather than an accident. Too often, however, the decision isn't clear-cut, and doctors can be reluctant to make a charge of abuse without solid evidence. A new diagnostic tool-being developed by a national network led from Dartmouth-promises to help with such dilemmas. See page 9.
To pursue any of these stories, contact David Corriveau, media relations officer for Dartmouth Medical School/Dartmouth-Hitchcock, at 603-653-1978 or David.A.Corriveau@Hitchcock.org.
Dana Cook Grossman