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Dartmouth Medicine Winter 2007

Dear Reporter, Editor, or News Director:

In the Winter 2007 issue of Dartmouth Medicine, read about:

Doing the right thing: For more than 35 years, Dartmouth health-utilization researcher Jack Wennberg has battled uncertainty in medicine and foes of his counterintuitive findings. At last, people are paying attention-from health-care policy-makers, to journalists, to bloggers. See page 30.

What's best for the breast?: A collaborative, cross-disciplinary research team involving nearly 40 engineers and doctors is developing four new alternatives to mammography. Teams elsewhere are investigating some of the modalities, but no group anywhere is as advanced as the Dartmouth initiative. See page 40.

Dairy delight: When a Cornell dairy scientist picked up the phone and called a Dartmouth endocrinologist, it led to the identification of a fatty acid that appears to interrupt the growth of breast cancer cells. Several Dartmouth labs are now investigating the hypothesis that blocking both the proliferation and the metastasis of cancer cells may be more effective than either gambit alone. See page 5.

Flexible benefits: There are benefits to retaining a flexible outlook in science, at least judging from a recent experience in a Dartmouth biochemistry lab. When an experiment looking at messenger RNA transport came up with a confounding finding, the researchers went in a new direction and made a surprising discovery regarding nuclear membrane biophysics-one that's drawn quite a bit of attention. See page 8.

A "do tank": A new partnership between Dartmouth Medical School and the Brookings Institution isn't just a "think tank"-the partners intend to actually accomplish something, drawing on Brookings's expertise in health-policy research and Dartmouth's expertise in population-based research. See page 11.

Numbers game: A forthcoming book by three members of the Dartmouth faculty is aiming to bring clarity to the decidedly murky realm of health-care statistics and risk ratios. Its authors contend-and studies based on a draft of their book have confirmed-that patients can acquire the tools to separate misrepresentation and exaggeration from fact. See page 13.

Choice over coercion: Some years ago, Dartmouth pioneered the concept of shared decision-making for elective surgical procedures. Now, the Dartmouth Psychiatric Research Center has shown that even patients with severe mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, should be able to participate in decisions about their own psychiatric treatment. See page 4.

Curing disease with film: Dartmouth medical student Aimee Peck brought lights and cameras to Tanzania, to film the actions of the selfless villagers who are key players in a global battle against a disease called river blindness. She hopes to shine klieg lights on an epidemic that, before effective treatment was available, infected up to 60% of people in some areas and blinded up to 10% ofthose infected. See page 15.

TWEEN a rock and a hard place: Food and beverage ads on TV and product placements in movies bombard "tweens"-youngsters aged 9 to 12-with pitches for unhealthy fare. But a Dartmouth nutrition researcher (who led the national panel that developed Hannaford's successful Guiding Stars nutrition-rating system) is working hard to codify the problem and seek solutions. See page 16.

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