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Dartmouth Medicine Fall 2011

Dear Reporter, Editor, or News Director:

In the Fall 2011 issue of Dartmouth Medicine, read about:

Spinal fusion: There is no single right answer when it comes to back pain. Surgeons tend to think surgery is best, while physical therapists, for example, tend to believe in exercise and stretching. That's why the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Spine Center, founded by Dr. James Weinstein, a professor at Dartmouth Medical School, fuses the latest information about the effectiveness of various treatments with individual patients' preferences. Now it's serving as a model of informed choice and coordinated care for the rest of the country. See page 24.

Too sensitive?: In 1998, doctors began looking for pulmonary embolisms--blood clots in the lungs--using a new, highly sensitive test called computed tomographic pulmonary angiography. Now, a new analysis by Dartmouth physician-researchers suggests that finding so many tiny clots may have led to more harm than good, in the form of unnecessary treatment. See page 6.

Take care!: The type of continuing-care retirement community you choose could affect not just how you live but also how you die. A study led by a Dartmouth geriatrician, Dr. Julie Bynum, found that residents of a retirement community with embedded physicians, who practice only at that retirement community, had lower rates of hospital and emergency room use, saw fewer specialists, and were less likely to die in a hospital than retirees who lived in otherwise similar communities. See page 4.

Good traction: A $15-million grant from the National Institutes of Health is allowing Dartmouth Medical School and the University of New Hampshire to help smaller institutions gain a foothold in biomedical research. Fourteen scientists from eight colleges have joined DMS and UNH in the initiative, called NH-INBRE, which is giving traction to students and faculty throughout the Granite State. See page 16.

Bad behavior: Scientists who study the mysterious behavior of infectious prions--thought to cause several devastating brain diseases--may have been too quick to assume that what happens in tests tubes also happens in living organisms. So concluded a Dartmouth Medical School biochemist and an M.D.-Ph.D. student in his lab, after a series of experiments with infectious prions in vitro and in vivo. See page 3.

Fertile ground: Assisted reproductive technologies--including in vitro fertilization--are being used more and more widely to treat infertility. But surprisingly little is known about the potential consequences of such treatments. That makes the field fertile ground for research, and Dartmouth's Dr. Judy Stern is paving the way by launching a nationwide registry of parents who have used assisted reproductive technologies--as well as those who haven't, to serve as controls. See page 12.

Great gusto: Whether it's bringing more clarity to cancer diagnoses or validating new diagnostic imaging technologies or even cleaning an office, Dr. Wendy Wells, the new chair of pathology at Dartmouth Medical School, takes on every task with gusto--and a smile. See page 50.

To pursue any of these stories, contact David Corriveau, media relations officer for Dartmouth Medical School and Dartmouth-Hitchcock, at 603-653-1978 or David.A.Corriveau@Hitchcock.org.

Dana Cook Grossman

Editor, Dartmouth Medicine

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Geisel School of Medicine at DartmouthDartmouth-Hitchcock Medical CenterWhite River Junction VAMCNorris Cotton Cancer CenterDartmouth College