LabBook July 27, 2012

Welcome to LabBook, our weekly roundup of University of Chicago Medicine & Biological Sciences research news from around campus and the world wide web. Each Friday, LabBook will recap the week on the blog, link to news stories about our faculty and studies, and briefly summarize a handful of recent publications by our researchers.

The world’s attention this week will turn to London for the 2012 Summer Olympics. Two years ago, during the 2010 Winter Olympics, guest writer Laurel Mylonas-Orwig wrote about the dangers of gene doping, speaking to Eugene Goldwasser about the risks. Goldwasser, who discovered the oft-abused blood hormone erythropoietin, passed away in late 2010. Science Life will have more Olympics-related coverage next week, including an interview with sports medicine surgeon Martin Leland about the injury risks these world-class athletes face during the two-week competition.


Physician organizations unite thousands of doctors from a given specialty to network, share research, take classes updating their medical knowledge, and make policy statements. But as Monica Peek and colleagues found, one area where many of these groups could be doing more is in the realm of health disparities. Roughly one-third of the 167 organizations the team studied had no disparities-related activities, despite increasing documentation of the health gaps that fall along racial and ethnic lines in the United States. On the glass-half-full side, 22 percent of the organizations could boast at least five different efforts to fight disparities, and these groups could be role models for less-involved groups looking to join the cause.

Radiology is hard work, with countless hours spent squinting at X-rays, scans, and other medical images to look for signs of disease. So the field is always on the lookout for technological innovation that can help make the process faster and more reliable, lately drawing from the sci-fi-made-reality worlds of artificial intelligence and machine learning. Kenji Suzuki, associate professor of radiology, is developing software that analyzes individual pixels of a medical image to find lesions and tumors in the scans. The post is the third part of a series on technology and radiology, after articles on the Human Imaging Research Office and an “Instagram” for medical images.

SPECIAL GUEST BLOG: The students of the Summer Service Partnership are actively blogging about their research projects this summer on the South Side of Chicago. The three teams of high school students, undergraduates, and medical students have been very prolific in documenting their experiences, so spend some time reading the thoughts and perspectives of these ambitious researchers in training.


It may not be a specific situation that too many people find themselves in, but Peggy Mason’s blog post at Oxford University Press on how to teach medical students is instructive for anyone who wants to effectively run a class. Previously at Science Life, we talked to Mason about the writing of her Medical Neurobiology textbook and her research on empathy in rats.

As patients receive greater access to their health records and medical test results, how does a doctor manage their responses to tests that can be ambiguous or hard to understand? Jason Poston, an associate fellow at the Bucksbaum Institute for Clinical Excellence, talked to the New York Times about how reading test results can be anxiety-producing or overwhelming for a patient, and how he helps teach students at the Pritzker School of Medicine on the best ways to deliver test results.

If you want your baby to live a long life, you might think about conceiving in the winter. A new study including University of Chicago Medicine’s Natalia Gavrilova found that babies born in autumn months were slightly more likely to reach 100 years old, for reasons that have yet to be determined. The authors speculate that environmental factors such as nutrition, circulating illnesses, or weather could have a long-term impact on a baby’s longevity. The story was reported on by Fox News, Discovery, and International Science Times.

About Rob Mitchum (525 Articles)
Rob Mitchum is communications manager at the Computation Institute, a joint initiative between The University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory.
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