Born in 1920, Henrietta Lacks lived in Virginia and Maryland, worked as a tobacco farmer, and mothered five children.  At age 31, her life was unfortunately cut short by cervical cancer.  Since her death, she has helped catalyze numerous biomedical discoveries. Upon treatment at Johns Hopkins, Henrietta’s physician obtained a tumor sample.  To his amazement, her cells survived and divided in a petri dish.  Today, her cells are still used in ...

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With the attempts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, it is a good time to educate our leaders on an opportunity to significantly reduce the incidence of the most expensive and common preventable, pre-existing condition: What your mother did or didn’t eat when she was pregnant with you. Yes, it is a pre-existing condition that determines how you die. Confused? Let me give you a little scientific context. Recently I was ...

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We cannot let the anecdote rule over us.   We don’t make sound policy if we are swayed by isolated emotional vignettes.  Of course, a vignette describes a living, breathing human being, but we must consider the greater good, the overall context and the risk of letting our hearts triumph over our heads when making general policy.  Consider these examples. If an expensive drug treatment program keeps five addicts clean for six ...

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A report in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that too few women with recently diagnosed breast cancer and at high risk of a BRCA genetic mutation received appropriate genetic counseling. And that testing for the mutation is a missed opportunity not only to improve treatment for these patients but also to prevent some breast,
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We are truly living in a remarkable era of biotechnological progress. Emerging nanotechnologies and immunotherapies offer the possibility of the targeted destruction of cancerous cells. 3-D printing of living cells is on the horizon, engendering the hope of a future with fully printed organs. And simultaneous advances in neuroscience and bioengineering have given rise to promising research and development of “electrocueticals” (neuromodulatory devices that may alleviate the symptoms ...

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The month of September has been Women In Medicine Month (according to the AMA) since 1989. Statistics are always telling:

  • Currently 65 percent of practicing physicians are men, and 35 percent women.

The College of American Pathologists shares the story of a Lisa Aaronson, and role of genetic testing in her pregnancy.

In February 2015, the British Parliament approved the creation of a human embryo from the DNA of three people: mother, father and a donor mother. The modified in-vitro fertilization (IVF) technique, called mitochondrial replacement therapy (MRT), would help some mothers with known rare mitochondrial mutations avoid passing on unhealthy defects. These defects can cause severe or deadly diseases, which are often incurable, such as muscular dystrophy, heart and kidney disease, liver ...

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In my first quarter of medical school, I learned about prenatal screening for cystic fibrosis (CF), a progressive multisystem disease caused by an autosomal recessive mutation in the CF transmembrane regulator gene. We also learned about bronchiectasis, a common pathology of CF that consists of the irreversible enlargement of airways, promoting continuous low-grade bacterial infection and causing deadly respiratory failure. But despite my hours of studying and memorization, these clinical facts ...

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Although we are all very similar, there are genetic differences between us that can affect our health. In different populations, people share different frequencies of certain genes. These gene variants can explain differences in medication responses, incidence of disease, and protection from illness. For example, warfarin is a widely prescribed medication that is used to prevent clotting and ischemic stroke. The dosing of this medication was previously generic and does not ...

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