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Dartmouth Medicine Summer 2008

Dear Reporter, Editor, or News Director:

In the Summer 2008 issue of Dartmouth Medicine, read about:

A cellular tug-of-war: Most cancer biologists study dead cells under a microscope. When two Dartmouth biochemists videotaped live human cancer cells as they were actually dividing, the researchers learned that during the intricate dance of mitosis, some cells engage in what's essentially a tug-of-war. The result is that some of the daughter cells have too many chromosomes and some have too few. See page 5.

Pooling data to make a splash: A vascular surgeon at Dartmouth established a regional collaborative in 2002 that is now pooling data about vascular procedures in 11 hospitals in four states. The registry that the group is building up holds considerable power to improve outcomes across the board. See page 9.

A voice of reason: The Association of American Medical Colleges has launched a nationwide campaign to increase by 30% the number of doctors the nation's medical schools turn out, arguing that more M.D.'s are needed to care for the aging population. But a voice from Dartmouth is countering that stance with increasing success. Workforce researcher David Goodman says what's needed instead is a better distribution of doctors geographically and among the various specialties. He's been making the case in some very prominent places, from the New York Times to the New England Journal of Medicine. See page 7.

Making faces: Dartmouth craniofacial surgeon Mitchell Stotland has always had a soft spot in his heart for children who were shunned because of their appearance. Today, he is able to totally reconstruct faces damaged by congenital anomalies, accidents, disease, and even war. See page 54.

Cause for caution: A chronic intake of even very low levels of alcohol in pregnant mice disrupts the development of their fetuses' brains. It's not yet clear how applicable the findings are to humans, but the researchers suggest it may be risky for pregnant women to regularly consume even a little alcohol. See page 6.

Finding from a fruit fly: A gene long known for putting the brakes on colon cancer has another role, a genetics lab at Dartmouth has found. The gene, known as APC, also functions as an accelerator, stepping up signaling between cells. The researchers' next goal is to use that knowledge to put up a stop sign for tumors. See page 3.

Patients all across the country: Dartmouth's John Wasson, a nationally recognized leader in health-care quality improvement, is one of the instigators behind a website called howsyourhealth.org, which collects information from patients about their health and then gives them sources of reliable information regarding their specific situation. Municipalities and medical practices all across the country are signing on and promoting the concept, and 100,000 patients have filled out the online survey. See page 18.

A master of disaster: A Dartmouth specialist in disaster preparedness and relief is one of only three physician members, and the vice chair, of a new advisory council appointed to advise the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The group's charge is to help FEMA figure out how to better respond to everything from hurricanes to acts of terror. See page 10.

To pursue any of these stories, contact the Dartmouth Medical School/Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center Media Relations Office at 603-653-1913 or Jason.Aldous@Hitchcock.org.

Dana Cook Grossman

Editor

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