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Understanding Latino Heart Health

Understanding Latino Heart Health—The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute awarded a four-year, $3.1 million grant to Yasmin Mossavar-Rahmani, Ph.D., and Robert Kaplan, Ph.D., to study the health of Hispanic & non-Hispanic prediabetics (individuals whose blood sugar level is higher than normal but not high enough for a type 2 diabetes diagnosis). Hispanic adults are at a greater risk of diabetes compared to the general U.S. population. Paradoxically, however, Hispanics live longer than people in the general population and may have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, a common complication of diabetes. The study will monitor physical activity, among a diverse group of 5,500 prediabetics, and will look for explanations for the unique health profile of Hispanics.Dr. Mossavar-Rahmani is associate professor of clinical epidemiology & population health. Dr. Kaplan is professor of epidemiology & population health and holds the Dorothy and William Manealoff Foundation and Molly Rosen Chair in Social Medicine. (1R01HL136266-01)

Friday, February 17, 2017
Asthma Risk After Moving to the U.S.

Asthma Risk After Moving to the U.S.—The prevalence of asthma reportedly is higher among U.S.-born Hispanics/Latinos than those who’ve relocated here. But it’s not known whether these findings are consistent across Hispanic/Latino groups. In a retrospective study published online on February 2 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, lead authors Elina Jerschow, M.D., and Garrett Strizich, M.P.H., found that the effect on asthma risk from relocating to the U.S. differs among various Hispanic/Latino groups. The study involved more than 15,000 U.S.-dwelling participants in the NIH-funded Hispanic Community Health Study (HCHS)/Study of Latinos (SOL). They were questioned about their asthma histories from birth through age 30. Foreign-born Dominicans and Mexicans (and to a lesser extent Puerto Ricans) had higher rates of asthma after relocating to the U.S. compared with counterparts the same age who relocated to the U.S. when they were older. Dr. Jerschow is associate professor of medicine and attending physician at Montefiore.

Thursday, February 02, 2017
Preventing Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis

Preventing Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis—Efforts to prevent extensively drug-resistant (XDR) tuberculosis (TB) from spreading have traditionally relied on improving patient treatment. But a study co-authored by James Brust, M.D., and published in the January 18 online issue of The New England Journal of Medicine suggests that efforts to halt TB transmission in hospitals and community settings may be a better strategy. The study, conducted with collaborators at Emory University, the U.S. CDC, and the University of KwaZulu-Natal, enrolled 404 TB patients from South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province. All had XDR-TB, meaning their infections were resistant to at least four first-line and second-line TB drugs. South Africa is experiencing a widespread epidemic of XDR-TB, and many people there are co-infected with HIV, which weakens their immunity. The study found that transmission of XDR-TB was responsible for at least 69 percent of cases. By contrast, only 31 percent of cases involved patients who developed XDR-TB during treatment. Dr. Brust is an associate professor of medicine.

Friday, January 20, 2017
Gender Differences in Walking Among Seniors

Gender Differences in Walking Among Seniors—Albert Einstein College of Medicine scientists had previously shown that older people who do poorly on dual-task walking tests (walking while talking) face an increased risk for falls, disability and death. But it wasn’t known whether gender and stress influence how the brain responds to the demands of dual-task walking. A study by Roee Holtzer, Ph.D., and colleagues assessed older men and women during both walking and dual-task walking. When confronted with the demands of dual-task walking, older men were more vulnerable than older women to the effect that perceived stress has on their walking velocity and the oxygenation levels in their pre-frontal cortex (which controls executive functions). The study, published online on December 28, 2016, in the European Journal of Neuroscience, suggests that tests for assessing whether people prone are to mobility impairments should include measures of stress. Dr. Holtzer is a professor in the Saul R. Korey Department of Neurology.

Thursday, January 19, 2017
Preventing Pneumonia

Preventing Pneumonia—Pneumococcus is the main bacterial cause of pneumonia globally and in the United States, where it causes more than 50,000 deaths annually. The two licensed vaccines against pneumococcus infection are more effective against infections of the blood or cerebrospinal fluid than against pneumococcal pneumonia. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has awarded a five-year, $2 million grant to Liise-anne Pirofski, M.D., to develop monoclonal antibody therapy for pneumococcal pneumonia. The research will focus on serotype 3 pneumococcus, a strain associated with a higher risk of death than others. The Pirofski group will isolate and characterize individual antibodies from people who receive pneumococcal vaccine and select the most promising antibodies for pre-clinical studies to identify lead candidates for therapy. Dr. Pirofski is professor of medicine and of microbiology & immunology, chief of infectious diseases at Einstein and Montefiore and holds the Selma and Dr. Jacques Mitrani Chair in Biomedical Research. (1R01AI123654-01A1)

Monday, January 09, 2017
A Novel Cell Communication System

A Novel Cell Communication System—Following tissue injury, specialized cell-surface receptors transmit signals to mitochondria--the organelles that generate energy for the cell and contribute to cellular repair, growth and division. But just how these receptors communicate with mitochondria has not been clear. In a letter published in the November 24, 2016 issue of Nature, a group of Einstein researchers including co-lead authors Dario Riascos-Bernal and Lily Cao, working under the supervision of Nicholas Sibinga, M.D., describe a novel molecular signaling mechanism that controls mitochondrial activity. Following blood-vessel injury, a cell-surface receptor called FAT1 is processed and activated to control mitochondrial function and cell growth during vascular repair. Aberrant expression of the FAT1 gene has been linked to several cancers, abnormal renal developmental and neurologic disorders. Dr. Sibinga is professor of medicine and of developmental and molecular biology.

Friday, January 06, 2017
Finding the Mechanism for Viral Infection

Finding the Mechanism for Viral Infection—Alphaviruses include important human pathogens such as encephalitic viruses and Chikungunya virus (CHIKV)—a mosquito-borne alphavirus that recently caused large epidemics worldwide, including in the Americas.  In a study published online on December 15 in PLOS Pathogens, Margaret Kielian, Ph.D., and Maria Gaudalupe Martinez, Ph.D., describe for the first time how alphavirus is transmitted from cell to cell during infection. Long cellular extensions from an infected cell contact uninfected neighboring cells and then release alphavirus particles, effectively shielding viruses from neutralizing host antibodies. Drs. Martinez and Kielian found that the alphavirus structural proteins alone induce host cells to form these extensions, which preferentially target uninfected cells. The findings could influence efforts now underway to develop vaccines against CHIKV. Dr. Kielian is professor of cell biology and the Samuel H. Golding Chair in Microbiology.

Thursday, December 22, 2016
Better Leukemia Drug Targets

Better Leukemia Drug Targets—Each year 19,000 Americans are diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML)—a cancer with a five-year survival rate of only 24 percent. Better therapeutic targets are urgently needed, and one potential target is the PI3 kinase (PI3K) signaling pathway: Its abnormal activation is important for AML disease progression, yet its role in normal blood development remains unclear. The National Cancer Institute has awarded Kira Gritsman, M.D., Ph.D., a five-year, $2.1 million grant to study the role of PI3K variants and identify which ones are essential for normal adult blood formation and maintenance, and which contribute to AML progression. This research could lead to specific PI3K inhibitors that are more effective and less toxic than current AML treatment options. Dr. Gritsman is an assistant professor of cell biology and medicine. (1R01CA196973-01A1)

Thursday, December 15, 2016
Filtering Out False-positive Drug Allergies

Filtering Out False-positive Drug Allergies—In a study published online on November 23 in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice, senior author Elina Jerschow, M.D., and lead author Melissa Iammatteo, M.D., describe a safe way to determine whether patients are truly allergic to medications. Their study involved 229 Montefiore Drug Allergy Clinic patients with previously reported allergic drug reactions. The most commonly reported allergies were to penicillins (71 percent) and to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (18 percent). Each patient received a dose of placebo, followed by a one-tenth dose of the drug they allegedly were allergic to, and then a full dose of same drug. Only four percent of patients had objective allergic reactions during challenges, none of which were life-threatening. Nine percent of patients reacted to the placebos, all of them women with multiple reported drug allergies. Dr. Jerschow is associate professor of medicine and attending physician at Montefiore.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016
Prescribing to Prevent HIV

Prescribing to Prevent HIV—The number of new human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections has declined over the past decade in the United States, yet 40,000 new cases are still reported each year. A novel HIV prevention strategy—pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP)— can help to further the decline in new HIV infections, but health care providers vastly underuse it. PrEP involves HIV-negative individuals taking antiretroviral medications and attending routine visits with a healthcare provider. In a study published online on October 20 in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, Oni Blackstock, M.D., M.H.S., describes her research showing that the vast majority of primary care physicians are aware of PrEP. However, only a minority of them reported ever referring a patient for PrEP or prescribing it; and those physicians believing that PrEP increases risk behaviors were less likely to adopt it. Dr. Blackstock is assistant professor of medicine.

Monday, December 12, 2016
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