Vital Record https://news.tamhsc.edu Your source for health news from the Texas A&M Health Science Center Wed, 30 Jul 2014 22:46:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Tao brings $1.25 million in funding to research stress and chronic pain https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=tao-brings-1-25-million-in-funding-to-research-stress-and-chronic-pain-at-texas-am-university-baylor-college-of-dentistry https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=tao-brings-1-25-million-in-funding-to-research-stress-and-chronic-pain-at-texas-am-university-baylor-college-of-dentistry#comments Wed, 30 Jul 2014 22:41:30 +0000 https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=20900 Just what is the role of stress when it comes to healing? What if there were ways to identify, pre-surgery, what patients are most inclined to suffer from chronic pain as a result of their procedure and then to manage that pain? ]]>

Just what is the role of stress when it comes to healing? What if there were ways to identify, pre-surgery, what patients are most inclined to suffer from chronic pain as a result of their procedure and then to manage that pain?

05experts-progress-notes-tao-resizedDr. Feng Tao brings these questions and $1.25 million in funding from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research in his new role as associate professor in biomedical sciences at Texas A&M University Baylor College of Dentistry. Tao had been rooted to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore since 2000; in May he moved west for the opportunity to apply his research to the dental environment.

With renovations to his fourth-floor now complete, Tao talks about what remains to be discovered about stress and its role in chronic pain, the motivation behind his work and opportunities for synergy with the world-class team of researchers at Texas A&M Baylor College of Dentistry.

Is there a driving force behind the focus of your research? What unknowns do you hope your work will reveal regarding the role of stress in inducing chronic pain?

Pain is a hallmark of tissue damage and inflammation that promotes tissue protection and thereby contributes to repair. Transient acute pain is an important feature of the adaptive response to damage, however, pain can persist for months to years after surgery even though the surgical incision that originally caused the pain has recovered. Such chronic neuropathic pain is maladaptive because it no longer serves as a protective reaction. Chronic pain, especially chronic neuropathic pain, is debilitating, both physiologically and psychologically, and treatments to provide relief from chronic pain are often ineffective. To date, the neurobiological mechanisms that underlie the transition from adaptive acute pain to maladaptive chronic pain are not fully understood. The transition from acute pain to chronic pain is a complex and poorly understood developmental process that involves biological, psychological, and socio-environmental factors.

In our ongoing project, we will demonstrate the molecular mechanism by which stress induces pain transition after surgery. Our data will help physicians predict which patients are at greater risk for developing chronic pain after surgical procedures. Eventually, monitoring of stress hormone levels in the blood may improve pain management in high-risk patients.

Today’s fast-paced world contains more conveniences — and perhaps more stressors — than ever before. Because stress can affect the body’s ability to heal after surgical procedures and medical treatments, an environment that causes constant tension becomes a very real concern. What do we know at this point about stress and its role in causing acute, adaptive pain to transition into chronic, maladaptive pain?

Previous studies have demonstrated that exposure to stressful events induces the release of stress hormones. These stress hormones can regulate glutamate receptor-mediated cellular communication in the central nervous system, including regulating activities of AMPA (α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid) receptor (one type of glutamate receptor that mediates fast communication between neural cells). In short, stress hormones affect synaptic trafficking and phosphorylation of AMPA receptors in the central nervous system. The effect of these events is the buildup of pain in the brain in response to peripheral stimulation in the body. In our study, we found that stress significantly impacts the function and activity of AMPA receptors, resulting in prolonged, incision-induced pain. We also found that targeted mutation of AMPA receptors significantly inhibits stress-produced incisional pain prolongation.

After 14 years at Johns Hopkins University, you decided to make the switch to Texas A&M Baylor College of Dentistry. What resources and people made the dental school an attractive option? How do you envision synergy with other researchers here at at the dental school?

My current R01 grant is funded by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Besides the stress-induced pain transition project, I am also interested in dissecting neural circuits related to orofacial pain transmission by using optogenetic manipulation and multichannel electrophysiological recording.

The Department of Biomedical Sciences and the Center for Craniofacial Research and Diagnosis at Texas A&M Baylor College of Dentistry is a perfect platform to conduct such research. Drs. Phillip Kramer and Larry Bellinger in our department are senior investigators who have studied orofacial pain for many years. We have complementary expertise in pain research, and our laboratories are fully equipped for different experimental requirements.

Recently, I wrote a research proposal, and they provided their critical comments. In this proposal, we will use combined optical neuromodulation and large-scale neuronal recording to investigate nociceptive signaling with high spatiotemporal resolution. The overall goal of this project is to unravel nociception-related neural circuits by using above-mentioned cutting-edge techniques. I believe that we can develop a new research project in the near future.

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Mehta awarded Huffines Institute Faculty Research Award https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=mehta-awarded-huffines-institute-faculty-research-award-2 https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=mehta-awarded-huffines-institute-faculty-research-award-2#comments Wed, 30 Jul 2014 19:36:01 +0000 https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=20897 Ranjana Mehta, Ph.D., M.S., is the recipient of the Faculty Research Award from the Sydney and J.L. Huffines Institute for Sports Medicine and Human Performance for her research project “Physical functioning under stress: Imaging of the aging brain in obese individuals”]]>
Dr. Mehta’s research involves neuroimaging of brain activity during exercise and when individuals are under stress.

Dr. Mehta’s research involves neuroimaging of brain activity during exercise and when individuals are under stress.

Ranjana Mehta, Ph.D., M.S., assistant professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health, is the recipient of the Faculty Research Award from the Sydney and J.L. Huffines Institute for Sports Medicine and Human Performance. As a recipient of the award, Mehta will serve for the next year on the Huffines Institute Executive Board.

Mehta’s research project “Physical functioning under stress: Imaging of the aging brain in obese individuals” will examine how obesity impacts the functioning of the aging brain during physical activity, particularly under stress.

An estimated 71 million Americans over the age of 65 will be obese in 2030, which has serious implications on the structures and functions of both the aging musculoskeletal and central nervous systems that have been linked to physical and cognitive impairments. This project will investigate neural changes that occur with obesity and the normal aging process under stressful conditions, and will aid in understanding the best interventions to apply to improve brain and subsequent physical and mental health for a growing number of elderly Americans.

Mehta is the director of the NeuroErgonomics Lab and co-director of the Ergonomics Center in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at the Texas A&M School of Public Health. She received both a Ph.D. and M.S. in Industrial and Systems Engineering from Virginia Tech and an M.Eng. from SUNY at the University of Buffalo.

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Fast Facts: CRE “superbug” cases soar in U.S. hospitals, what you should know https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=fast-facts-cre-superbug-cases-soar-in-u-s-hospitals-what-you-should-know https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=fast-facts-cre-superbug-cases-soar-in-u-s-hospitals-what-you-should-know#comments Wed, 30 Jul 2014 18:23:43 +0000 https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=20871 Cases of the deadly “superbug” known as CRE increased five-fold in community hospitals from 2008 to 2012 in the Southeastern U.S. We sat down with infectious disease specialist Cristie Columbus, M.D., vice dean at the Texas A&M College of Medicine, to discuss what hospitals can do to take action against further spread]]>

A recent study suggests that cases of the deadly “superbug” known as CRE increased five-fold in community hospitals from 2008 to 2012 in the Southeastern U.S. While the number of patients discovered was relatively low, at 305, study authors believe rates of infection are actually much higher and threaten health care facilities across the nation. We sat down with infectious disease specialist Cristie Columbus, M.D., vice dean at the Texas A&M College of Medicine, to find out what hospitals can do to prevent further spread of the drug-resistant bacterium that is so serious, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention labeled it a “nightmare bacteria.”

Photo of Cristie Columbus, M.D., vice dean for Texas A&M College of Medicine

Cristie Columbus, M.D., vice dean for Texas A&M College of Medicine and infectious disease physician with Baylor Scott & White Health in Dallas.

Q: What is CRE?
A: CRE (Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae) are a group of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that usually strike people in hospitals, nursing homes and other health-care settings. Because this group of bacteria is resistant to several classes of antibiotics, it’s commonly called a “superbug.” A 2013 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report estimated 9,300 people in the U.S. are infected by CRE every year, resulting in approximately 600 deaths. The increase we are currently seeing is concerning, given the average 50 percent mortality rate of these types of infections.

Q: How is CRE spread?
A: CRE is usually spread in the health-care setting from person-to-person through contact with infected or colonized people, particularly contact with wounds or stool. CRE can cause infections when they enter the body, often through medical devices like ventilators, intravenous catheters, bladder catheters, or wounds caused by injury or surgery.

Q: How are hospitals dealing with the superbugs?
A: Many hospitals have adopted new laboratory guidelines for improving detection of these types of microorganisms.  Once detected, appropriate infection control precautions should be implemented, including meticulous hand hygiene programs, disinfection practices, and proper isolation precautions to prevent transmission between patients. Communication between health-care facilities is key. Many hospitals are also encouraging discontinuation of medical devices as soon as they are no longer needed. Additionally, many hospitals have implemented antimicrobial stewardship programs to limit the use of broad spectrum antibiotics when appropriate.

Q: How bad is the situation?
A: The CRE situation is particularly concerning, because of the limited number of effective antibiotics currently available for treatment of infections with these organisms.

Q: Is the overuse of antibiotics to blame for the spread of such superbugs?
A: Excessive use of antibiotics, particularly those that have activity against a wide range of bacteria, can contribute to the development of resistance in many types of bacteria, including CRE.

Q: What, if anything, can we do about it?
A: CDC recommends that patients be sure to tell their doctors if they have been hospitalized in another facility or another country. Additionally CDC recommends that antibiotics be taken only as prescribed. Everyone should practice good hand washing or hand hygiene and expect their health care providers to do so as well.

Dr. Columbus has particular interest in health care epidemiology and infection control and prevention. A diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine and of the Subspecialty Board of Infectious Diseases, Dr. Columbus is also a member of several national professional organizations including the American Medical Association, the American College of Physicians, the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America. She is also a member of the Texas Infectious Disease Society, Texas Club of Internists and active regionally in the Texas Medical Association, where she served on the Committee on Infectious Diseases.

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Fast Facts: What you should know about the Ebola outbreak https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=fast-facts-what-you-should-know-about-the-ebola-outbreak https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=fast-facts-what-you-should-know-about-the-ebola-outbreak#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 21:52:08 +0000 https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=20856 More than 670 people have died from the Ebola outbreak currently spreading through the West African nations of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, making it the largest outbreak of the disease on record. We sat down with infectious disease expert Dr. Scott Lillibridge to find out more on the deadly disease and risk of its spread to the ]]>

More than 670 people have died from the Ebola outbreak currently spreading through the West African nations of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, making it the largest outbreak of the disease on record. With a 90 percent fatality rate and no known cure or vaccine, fears of further spread escalate across the globe. We sat down with infectious disease expert Dr. Scott Lillibridge to find out more on the deadly disease and risk of its spread to the U.S.

Scott Lillibridge

Scott Lillibridge, M.D., assistant dean and professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health.

Q: How is the Ebola virus spread?
A: The Ebola virus is spread from person to person through direct contact with body fluids of infected individuals. Strict hospital infection control measures are needed to reduce the spread from sick individuals in health care settings.

Q: What are the symptoms?
A: Ebola symptoms include fever, severe weakness, muscle pain, diarrhea, vomiting, headache, lack of appetite, stomach pain and sore throat. Patients may also experience a rash, red eyes, chest pain, difficulty breathing and swallowing, and both internal and external bleeding. Symptoms most commonly begin eight to 10 days after exposure to the virus.

Q: With no known cure, how is Ebola treated?
A: Treatment is generally supportive and is directed at alleviating symptoms and supporting the body’s normal functions through fluids, oxygen and measures to control bleeding and secondary infections. Patients with Ebola require strict isolation and vigorous hospital infection control measures to prevent medical staff from becoming ill.

Q: Can the disease spread to the United States?
A: The probability of Ebola spreading to the United States from the region of West Africa currently experiencing the outbreak is low according to the CDC. However, if an individual were exposed and was incubating the disease, it is possible they would become ill once they returned to the United States. Such diseases would be quickly reported to our public health system and referred to the hospital for isolation and treatment.

Q: How can these types of outbreaks be controlled or eliminated?
A: Outbreaks, such as Ebola, can be controlled. Patients who have become ill are put in isolation to reduce the possibility of disease transmission to other individuals. In addition, public health measures such as disease tracking and education help identify and ensure the early reporting of new cases so medical and public health authorities can prevent further disease transmission within the population.

Q: Are average citizens responsible for letting germs spread?
A: Ebola can be highly contagious if common infection control measures are not instituted. Humans usually contract the disease through exposure to bodily fluids such as blood from infected individuals. Once vigorous infection control measures such as isolation and the use of personal protective equipment such as gowns, gloves, respiratory and eye protection are utilized, disease transmission from infected individuals decreases substantially.

 

Scott Lillibridge, M.D., is assistant dean and professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health and deputy principal investigator and chief scientist for the Texas A&M Center for Innovation in Advanced Development and Manufacturing. Dr. Lillibridge is a 30-year veteran in medical and public health preparedness who previously served as founding director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Program and also worked as Special Assistant to the Secretary for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dr. Lillibridge served as Medical Director of the U.S. Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance during the Ebola outbreak in the 1990s in Africa. He currently serves on the Institute of Medicine’s Health Threats Resilience Committee, offering expertise in refugee health and civil conflict, biodefense and bioterrorism, public health preparedness and response, and global health and development.

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College of Nursing helps fill primary care gap with launch of new Family Nurse Practitioner program https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=college-of-nursing-fills-primary-care-gap-with-launch-of-new-family-nurse-practitioner-program-2 https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=college-of-nursing-fills-primary-care-gap-with-launch-of-new-family-nurse-practitioner-program-2#comments Thu, 24 Jul 2014 15:41:54 +0000 https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=20835 The Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Nursing has announced plans for a Master of Science in Nursing - Family Nurse Practitioner (M.S.N.-FNP) graduate program]]>
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The M.S.N.-FNP was recently approved by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and is expected to launch in January 2015, pending final approval from the Texas Board of Nursing.

The Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Nursing has announced plans for a Master of Science in Nursing – Family Nurse Practitioner (M.S.N.-FNP) graduate program. This program was recently approved by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and is expected to launch in January 2015, pending final approval from the Texas Board of Nursing.

The United States health care system is currently facing a shortage of primary care physicians. This shortage, coupled with a growing aging population and the entrance of newly insured individuals (through federal legislation), will increase the demand for primary care services. The physician shortage is of particular importance in Texas where the state falls below the national average with just 165 physicians for every 100,000 individuals.

“In an effort to alleviate this shortage, our family nurse practitioner program will produce nurses who can provide primary, acute and specialty health care,” said Texas A&M College of Nursing Dean Sharon A. Wilkerson, Ph.D., RN, CNE, ANEF. “Our graduates will be competent and dedicated practitioners responsible for managing the care of families with a holistic approach that emphasizes both care and cure through cutting-edge science.”

“Like registered nurses, nurse practitioners perform thorough assessments, but in addition have the training to diagnose patients, prescribe treatments and medications, and assume primary responsibility for patients’ overall care. Nurse practitioners, together with physicians, pharmacists, and public health professionals, are all essential pieces of the solution to our nation’s primary care challenges,” said Brett P. Giroir, M.D., CEO of the Texas A&M Health Science Center.

In recognition of the value of nurse practitioners, there has been an increase in job opportunities for nurses with M.S.N.-FNP degrees. Currently, about 190,000 nurse practitioners practice in the United States. Looking ahead, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated there will be approximately 37,100 new job openings in the field by 2022.

“Patients are more likely to see a nurse practitioner than they were a decade ago,” said Wilkerson. “While they are part of the health care team, their independence is evolving and they are gaining more autonomy. Many insurance providers now allow nurse practitioners to be listed as the primary care provider.”

Another way nurse practitioners fill the gap in primary care is by working in locations lacking adequate access to health care. Nurse practitioners have a greater tendency to practice in traditionally underserved areas compared to other primary care providers. In fact, in some rural areas a nurse practitioner may be the only provider available.

Wilkerson explained that the mission of the College of Nursing is about much more than just producing more family nurse practitioners, it’s about bettering the care available to patients. “We are not simply preparing nurses for certification, but creating nurses with the critical thinking skills to deliver the best possible patient care,” she said.

The M.S.N.-FNP lecture courses will be delivered online, with full and part-time options, allowing students to balance career, family and other responsibilities while advancing their education. All students will have patient care curriculum as well, which will be performed under the supervision of qualified faculty preceptors at or near their home locations.

Those interested in applying must have a baccalaureate degree in nursing from an institution of higher education accredited by the appropriate regional accrediting agency and either National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) orthe Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). A current, unencumbered Registered Nurse license to practice in the State of Texas or licensed in the state where practicums will occur is also required.

Prospective students can visit nursing.tamhsc.edu for more information and to connect with an advisor.

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Texas A&M study transforms traditional perceptions of physical activity https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=texas-am-study-transforms-traditional-perceptions-of-physical-activity https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=texas-am-study-transforms-traditional-perceptions-of-physical-activity#comments Thu, 24 Jul 2014 14:36:27 +0000 https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=20820 Geocaching incorporates the adventure of a real-life treasure hunt with gaming features. The research study “Geocaching for Exercise and Activity Research (GEAR)” focuses on this and has shown that it can greatly increase physical activity. ]]>
The study included individuals 18- to 77-years old and showed nontraditional methods of physical activity were effective.

The study included individuals 18- to 77-years old and showed nontraditional methods of physical activity were effective.

The Center for Community Health Development (CCHD) at the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health finds evidence that fun can lead to physical activity. A CCHD research study funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) evaluated the health benefits of exergames, or activities that engage users in physical activity with the added fun factor of game play.

The research study “Geocaching for Exercise and Activity Research (GEAR)” focused on a particular exergame called geocaching. Geocaching incorporates the adventure of a real-life treasure hunt with gaming features such as a reward system, online avatars, and skill-based categories. As part of GEAR, 1,000 people across the United States tracked their physical activity levels while geocaching during a 12-month period. Researches collected data from individuals ranging in age from 18- to 77-years old through online surveys and analyzed the aggregated responses to understand how physical activity and geocaching relate.

Whitney Garney, M.P.H.

Whitney Garney, M.P.H.

One of the study’s principal investigators, Whitney Garney, M.P.H., states that throughout the 12-month study, “the average GEAR participant walked 10 miles per month while geocaching alone, walking approximately 1-½ miles on each geocaching trip and averaging 72 geocaching trips a year.”

This means that participants averaged 134 minutes of moderate physical activity a week, which is just under the CDC’s weekly recommendation of 150 minutes.

Additionally, participants in the study reported improved health status and fewer days of poor mental health and physical health than a comparative sample.

Study findings are significant in that they support nontraditional methods of physical activity as an effective component of a healthy lifestyle for people of all ages.

“GEAR results have important implications for how and why people are physically active,” says Garney. “Geocaching is one option for people to have fun and be physically active at the same time without going to the gym and may be just what America needs to get moving.”

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Computers, smartphones and TVs: how electronics might be affecting your teen’s sleep https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=computers-smartphones-and-tvs-how-electronics-might-be-affecting-your-teens-sleep https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=computers-smartphones-and-tvs-how-electronics-might-be-affecting-your-teens-sleep#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 14:16:20 +0000 https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=20811 Natural blue light is emitted during the day, but most electronics also expose us to this wavelength of light. Recent research shows that artificial blue light has a delaying effect on our sleep cycle]]>
Photo of young woman looking at a computer screen in a dark room.

Exposure to blue light after sunset can have a delaying effect on our sleep cycles.

It’s the beginning of the end of summer, which means it’s time to start getting into the rhythm of the school year. One of the simplest actions you can take to increase your child’s performance is to make sure they’re getting enough sleep—because a sleep deficit of one hour can translate into a substantial decrease in their cognitive performance.

The solution seems simple enough: have your teen go to bed earlier and reap the health benefits that come with a full night’s rest—but there’s a culprit keeping you and your teen awake at night: blue light.

Natural blue light is emitted during the day, but most electronics also expose us to this wavelength of light. Recent research shows that artificial blue light has a delaying effect on our sleep cycle. “In terms of light and our brains, there is a spectrum of light wavelengths that impacts the human circadian system. Blue light is in the most sensitive side of the spectrum,” says David Earnest, Ph.D., professor at Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine, who has conducted extensive research on circadian rhythms and how their disruption may affect human health.

We are exposed to blue-spectrum lighting throughout the day, which signals to our brain that it is time to be awake. As the day continues and the sun sets, the light shifts to the red side of the spectrum. Following this shift, and the subsequent arrival of night, melatonin levels in the blood begin to increase and this informs our bodies that it’s time to sleep.

Since teenagers have different sleep patterns than most adults, they are naturally predisposed to go to sleep and wake up later than the regular nine-to-five daily schedule allows. If your teenager continues their exposure to blue light after sunset with computers and phones, their “delayed” sleep cycle may become difficult to reconcile with their school schedule.

Short of ditching smartphones and computers, it’s difficult to eliminate our exposure to artificial blue light at night. Earnest offers a few options to reduce the effect of blue light on your teen’s sleep schedule:

Implement a ‘no electronics’ rule for bedrooms

This is the simplest method for cutting out late-night blue light exposure. By encouraging your teen to leave their phones and computers out of their bedrooms, they will find it easier to go to bed at an earlier time.

Working late at night on their computer can create sleep problems, which can then develop into poor school and task performance. By removing computers and other electronics from their rooms, your child’s bedroom will be more conducive to sleep. This way they will be more likely to get a full night’s rest and then can be at the top of their game in class.

Minimize blue light exposure

If completely banning all electronics from your teenager’s room seems like cruel and unusual punishment, don’t fret—there are ways to negate artificial blue light without incurring your teen’s wrath!

For those who are unwilling to disconnect after dark, Earnest suggests investing in a pair of amber-lensed glasses, which will block all blue light after the sun sets. These glasses will allow your teenager to use the computer or their phone without the melatonin-suppressing effects of blue light. While wearing sunglasses indoors may seem silly, this is the most comprehensive option for blocking all blue light exposure, since it will even block the blue spectrum light that normal residential light bulbs can emit.

Another option is to change the light spectrum on your computer screen. This may be as simple as adjusting your screen settings, but the process varies from computer to computer. If the process is too complex, there’s always f.lux, an application that shifts the light spectrum of your computer, tablet or even smartphone depending on the time of day. While this application won’t shield your teen from all blue light, it will reduce the amount they are exposed to.

Encourage a regular sleep schedule

It’s no secret that sleep is important; it’s when our bodies metabolize food, repair muscles and when our brains take a break to prepare for the next day. But did you know that maintaining a regular sleep cycle every night could help prevent chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease and even breast cancer?

According to Earnest, people who receive an adequate amount of sleep but at different times every day, such as shift workers, are also at a higher risk of developing a chronic disease. By encouraging your child to go to sleep and wake up at the same time everyday, you can ensure that they get enough rest and help protect them from developing dangerous health effects later in life. Blue light aside, maintaining a regular daily schedule can help promote better performance in school and a healthier life for your child.

For more information on the importance of sleep, please visit National Institutes of Health.

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Taylor awarded 2014 American STD Association Developmental Award https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=taylor-awarded-2014-american-std-association-developmental-award https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=taylor-awarded-2014-american-std-association-developmental-award#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 19:57:42 +0000 https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=20803 Brandie Taylor, Ph.D., M.P.H., assistant professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health, was recently awarded the 2014 American Sexually Transmitted Disease Association (ASTDA) Developmental Award. The ASTDA Developmental Award is designed to encourage new investigators to pursue careers in STD research. ]]>
Dr. Brandie Taylor

Brandie Taylor, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Brandie Taylor, Ph.D., M.P.H., assistant professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health, was recently awarded the 2014 American Sexually Transmitted Disease Association (ASTDA) Developmental Award. The ASTDA Developmental Award is designed to encourage new investigators to pursue careers in STD research.

This two-year award will provide support related to Taylor’s research proposal entitled, “Host Genetic Susceptibility to Chlamydia-Associated Reproductive Morbidity,” where she will utilize genomic sequencing to identify new and rare host genetic markers associated with infertility secondary to Chlamydia trachomatis (chlamydia) genital tract infection. Findings from this initial proposal will provide data for continued research in a larger study designed to build prediction models.

Chlamydia remains the most common bacterial STD in the United States despite aggressive efforts to reduce rates of infection. In some women chlamydia causes permanent damage to the reproductive organs leading to infertility.

“My goal is to contribute to a better understanding of chlamydia and identify genetic and biological markers that can be used to predict risk of reproductive complications following infection,” said Taylor.

“Our previous work has shown that host genetics may contribute to why some women develop infertility following chlamydia and some women do not. This award will provide research support and allow me to obtain the training and practical experiences necessary to better understand the host genetic contribution to infertility following chlamydial genital tract infection.”

Host genetics can be used to identify high risk groups of women who would benefit most from modifying current chlamydial control regimens. This may include increasing the frequency of testing for C. trachomatis so that prompt and proper treatment can be initiated. As an inflammatory response is induced shorty after chlamydial infection, it is very important that women receive prompt treatment to reduce the duration of infection to prevent long-term complications including infertility.

Taylor is the current Director of the Reproductive and Child Health Program at the Texas A&M School of Public Health. Her research interests include reproductive and perinatal epidemiology and the role of the host genetics and the immune system in reproductive and pregnancy complications.

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Texas A&M pharmacy researchers developing tool to test effectiveness of drugs https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=texas-am-pharmacy-researchers-developing-tool-to-test-effectiveness-of-drugs https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=texas-am-pharmacy-researchers-developing-tool-to-test-effectiveness-of-drugs#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 12:51:16 +0000 https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=20760 A team of Texas A&M scientists in collaboration with Michigan-based 21st Century Therapeutic Inc., hope to develop a technology to measure the effectiveness of novel drugs used in prevention of transplant rejections or cancer treatments]]>
Narendra Kumar, Ph.D., associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences, Jayshree Mishra, Ph.D., research assistant, serve as co-investigators on a sub-contract in an NIH-funded initiative to develop a device that measure drug effectiveness. Texas A&M University-Kingsville electrical engineering graduate students Lakshmi Korrapati and Saikrishna Krishna work in the lab on the project.

Narendra Kumar, Ph.D., associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences, Jayshree Mishra, Ph.D., research assistant, serve as co-investigators on a sub-contract in an NIH-funded initiative to develop a device that measure drug effectiveness. Texas A&M University-Kingsville electrical engineering graduate students Lakshmi Korrapati and Saikrishna Krishna work in the lab on the project.

KINGSVILLE, Texas – Someday, doctors might specifically attack diseased cells and – at the same time – protect the normal, healthy cells fighting infections and inflammation caused by treatments.

Supported by funding from the National Institutes of Health-Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR/STTR), a team of Texas A&M scientists in collaboration with Michigan-based 21st Century Therapeutic Inc., are working toward turning that idea into a reality.

Narendra Kumar, Ph.D., associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences, is the inventor of the idea and serves as the principal investigator on the sub-contract of this award at the Texas A&M Health Science Center Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy.

“Our college is involved in translational research,” said David Potter, chair of pharmaceutical sciences at the Texas A&M Rangel College of Pharmacy. “Our researchers are in the process of developing new agents to treat inflammatory diseases.”

The researchers are involved in the development of technology to measure the effectiveness of novel drugs used in prevention of transplant rejections or cancer treatments. Their findings could create more effective drugs for inflammation related complications that will reduce the overall health care cost to the patient and aid doctors by providing tools to treat diseases.

“Most of the diseases stem from sustained chronic inflammation culminating into diabetes, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s diseases and different cancers,” Kumar said. “We want to work on a way for the pharmaceutical industry to make potent drugs that can enhance the therapeutic treatment of multiple diseases that originate from chronic inflammation and compromise the immune system.”

By doing this, the immune system remains strong to fight only the diseased cells, sparing the healthy cells that could fight infections and increase the acceptance of the transplanted organ. The technology can also increase the potency of the drug and reduce the health care cost for the treatment of different diseases that originate from chronic inflammation including different types of cancer.

“Through this innovative technology we can adjust the activation and deactivation of a key enzyme that regulates chronic inflammation in the human body,” said Jayshree Mishra, Ph.D., research assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences at the Texas A&M Rangel College of Pharmacy. Both Kumar and Mishra have filed a patent application in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for the technology.

The discovery will be beneficial to patients by increasing the therapeutic effects of treatments and reducing the recovery time. Additionally, this could also be used in asthma and allergy patients.

“With the skyrocketing health care cost, drug companies and hospitals along with universities have shared responsibility to provide better tools and technologies that can lower the cost of treatment and increases the success rate particularly for inflammation related complications such as transplants and cancer,” Kumar said. “This timely project strives to achieve just that.”

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