LabBook August 24, 2012

A minimally invasive robotic surgery room in the New Hospital Pavilion

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.

This week our employees got to take a sneak peek inside our New Hospital Pavilion, which opens in 2013. Take a look at some photos on our Facebook page, featuring a new hybrid operating room and the minimally invasive robotic surgery room seen above.


We’re used to doctors giving us prescriptions for medicine or writing a referral to a specialist. Now Monica Peek and Marshall Chin are working on an initiative called Improving Diabetes Care and Outcomes on the South Side of Chicago to help South Siders take better control of their eating habits by improving food access and affordability. Patients who visit one of six South Side clinics can receive a prescription-like checklist of their doctor’s food recommendations and a coupon for savings on food at area markets.

Decoding the human genome hasn’t led to a cure for cancer or Alzheimer’s disease yet, but that doesn’t mean scientists haven’t been putting that knowledge to good use. Eileen Dolan and her colleagues studying pharmacogenomics are using what they know about genetic variants to see which people might be more sensitive to toxic side effects from chemotherapy drugs. This will allow physicians to treat these side effects before they cause damage, and give cancer patients a better quality of life during treatment.


In June, a team led by Eugene Chang published a study that linked the rise of inflammatory bowel disease to the spread of “Westernized” diets. The high levels of saturated fats in foods eaten by modern Americans and Europeans disrupt the bacterial ecosystem in the gut and can lead to IBD and other immune disorders. This week, Nature, which published the study, asked four experts to comment on the research in an editorial.

We already know that sleep problems are tied to a host of medical problems, from obesity to heart disease. This week the New York Times published an article about research by Kristen Knutson that shows that African Americans are more likely to have shorter, more disrupted sleep than non-Hispanic whites. While the researchers suspect it has something to do with stress and socioeconomics, they aren’t quite sure yet what causes these racial differences in sleep quality.

Finally, a report by the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce and the Illinois Science & Technology Coalition showed that Illinois universities issued the most technology licenses to companies in a decade, although they still lag behind schools in Massachusetts, California, North Carolina and Texas. The University of Chicago was named as one of the top Illinois institutions for creating technology startups.

And one programming update: Next week we’re taking a little end of summer break, but we’ll be back after Labor Day with more science-y goodness.

About Matt Wood (531 Articles)
Matt Wood is a senior science writer and manager of communications at the University of Chicago Medicine & Biological Sciences Division.
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