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Posts Tagged ‘faculty of medicine’

Fatal Lobby

Re: “Ottawa ‘has gone too far’ on flavoured smokes ban,” Feb. 20.

I was dismayed to read about the federal government being pressured to rescind the ban on flavoured tobacco by congressmen from Indiana, Kentucky and Virginia. Tobacco is the leading preventable cause of heart disease, stroke, emphysema and cancer, the four leading causes of death in Canada and the U.S. I am a specialist in lung diseases and see the devastating effects of the tobacco epidemic daily.

Most people think tobacco-related diseases are primarily diseases of the elderly, but young people are also affected. One of my saddest memories was my last visit to a 38-year-old patient dying from lung cancer who was reading a pamphlet titled, How To Tell Your Young Children That You Are Dying. She had started smoking in junior high with friends and was unable to quit. Flavoured tobacco, not just the candy-flavoured types, but those blended to reduce the harshness of some tobaccos only have one purpose — to hook young people.

Once people are hooked, they will smoke anything to get their nicotine fix. These politicians are beholden to the tobacco industry and its lobby and don’t focus enough on the devastating effect tobacco has on Canadians and their families. Nor do they care about its huge costs to our healthcare system.

Non-smokers are also hurt by tobacco’s health consequences. A doctor’s office or a hospital bed used by a smoker only delays access to, and increases wait times for, non-smokers when they need health care.

Stephen Field, MD, Calgary Stephen Field is a clinical professor of medicine at the University of Calgary medical school

© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald

Teaching hospitals and consent

From Tuesday’s Globe and Mail Published on Tuesday, Feb. 02, 2010 12:00AM EST

Re Time To End Pelvic Exams Done Without Consent (Life, Jan. 28): Medical students would not “parade” into the operating room after a gynecologic procedure is finished, to undertake a pelvic floor examination on an anaesthetized woman. The usual practice is for a single medical student to be present throughout as a member of the surgical team.

In Calgary, patients give written consent for medical students to be involved in their surgical care, including medically necessary examinations, and patients are specifically informed before surgery, by the surgeon, that they may be examined by a trainee. If a patient objects, their wishes are honoured.

A medical student can only undertake a pelvic exam if the exam is required as part of surgery and the student is part of the surgical team.

Dr. Sara Wainberg’s paper discussed women’s attitudes to pelvic floor examinations being undertaken by medical students, in relation to consent. The concern expressed by a number of scholars is whether implicit consent for pelvic-floor exam under anesthetic, by a trainee, as recommended by the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada guidelines, is sufficient.

Implicit consent should be supplemented by the surgeon explicitly informing the patient that she may be examined by a trainee, as stressed by the guidelines. Of paramount concern is the need for medical students to learn basic examination techniques in a safe, well supervised setting. In the case of pelvic examination on an anaesthetized woman, it is also important to ensure the patient is adequately informed.

Sue Ross, director of research; R. Douglas Wilson, head, Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Calgary

H1N1 – Now is not the time to let our guard down

By Glen D. Armstrong, PhD, Thomas Louie, M.D., and John Conly, M.D., Faculty of Medicine, University of Calgary and The Calvin, Phoebe, and Joan Snyder Institute of Infection, Immunity, and Inflammation.

Although there appears to be a lull in the number of serious H1N1 cases appearing in our hospitals, now is not the time to let our guard down.  The H1N1 virus  has resulted in severe infection with respiratory failure and increased numbers of intensive care unit admissions.  And this is before the typical influenza season peaks in February or March.  There is still plenty of time to get vaccinated. Now would be the perfect time to visit a vaccination clinic because of the significantly reduced wait times.

We want to remind people of one irrefutable fact; the incredible freedom we all now enjoy from once devastating infectious diseases because of safe effective vaccines. A short list includes smallpox, polio, mumps, measles, rubella, meningitis, whooping cough, diphtheria, tetanus, and hepatitis A and B. We cannot overemphasize that these are all diseases that no longer kill or severely disable millions of youngsters and adults every year in the developed world, thanks to safe and effective immunization programs.

We openly acknowledge that none of these vaccines is 100 per cent safe. We have learned from experience that in any mass vaccination program, a very small proportion, less than one in a million people, will experience a severe adverse reaction to the vaccine. Such rare reactions may lead to lifelong physical or mental disabilities. In this regard, the H1N1 vaccine is no different than any of other.

The anti-H1N1 vaccination proponents are misleading and distorting the facts around the vaccine being distributed. They are making the minimal risks appear much greater than they really are. If you carefully read the articles the anti-vaccine proponents quote in their fear-mongering campaigns, the H1N1 vaccine is no more dangerous or different in formula or action than any of the other vaccines routinely and safely used for decades to prevent deadly infections from spreading in human populations.

With the exception of a minority of older individuals, our population has no natural immunity to the H1N1 virus. Unlike the typical seasonal flu strains, the H1N1 virus affects young and old, healthy, pregnant, or sick individuals in a capricious and unpredictable manner. The H1N1 virus also has more potential to cause societal hardship, and loss of income to families and businesses due to employee absenteeism.  So why not get vaccinated to protect ourselves, our family members, friends and society at large?

After all, the H1N1 vaccine is provided free of charge to all Canadians in order to protect themselves and probably more importantly, others around them. The societal benefits of vaccination far outweigh the risks. Despite the impression the H1N1 pandemic may be over, we still strongly encourage all Canadians to be vaccinated against H1N1.  Now is not the time to let our guard down.

Two UCalgary clinician scientists named Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 2008

By Andrea Di Ubaldo

Dr. Fiona Costello: photo provided

Dr. Fiona Costello: photo provided

As Albert Einstein once said, “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.”

Indeed, Dr. Fiona Costello and Dr. Andrew Demchuk seem to have found their perfect balance by constantly moving. Both were recently named to the Caldwell Partners International’s Top 40 Under 40 list.

The award is given to individuals who have shown vision and leadership; innovation and achievement; impact; community involvement and contribution; and growth / development strategy. Out of approximately 1200 nominees, Costello and Demchuk are two out of six physician scientists awarded this honour as chosen by an independent advisory board.

Balancing, more like juggling

Dr. Andrew Demchuk: photo provided

Dr. Andrew Demchuk: photo provided

For Demchuk, co-leader of the Attacking Stroke program at the Hotchkiss Brain Institute in the Faculty of Medicine, it’s all about the ‘Big 5’: education; administration; research; clinical care; and family. Not necessarily in that order.

“I try to do all things because I like all five,” Demchuk says. “I have a great wife who manages most of the day-to-day raising of our two boys; I’m a quality time kind of guy, so I get to do the fun stuff with the boys at night and on weekends.”

Demchuk is the director of the Calgary Stroke Program, chair of Pillar 2 (Acute Care and Emergency Services) of the Alberta Provincial Stroke Strategy, past-chair of the Board of Directors of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Alberta, NWT and Nunavut, and an associate professor with the Departments of Clinical Neurosciences and the Department of Radiology at UCalgary.

In addition to his teaching and clinical practice, Demchuk is also a world-renowned researcher whose primary research interests lie in the area of cerebral vascular imaging and its application in developing new treatments for those who have suffered from stroke.  .
He admits to verging on workaholic status, as a director, teacher, researcher, physician, husband and father.

Kids keep things in perspective

“I have four kids aged eight, five, three and six-months. It’s often a gong show,” Costello laughs. “I’m married to a great guy, who has a very demanding career. It’s tough to balance, but we work well together.”

Costello is a clinician scientist and co-director of the NeuroProtection and Repair Evaluation Unit (NPREU) with the Arresting Multiple Sclerosis (MS)  program at the Hotchkiss Brain Institute at the Faculty of Medicine and an associate professor in the Department of Clinical Neurosciences. Her research and clinical expertise are in the areas of neuro-ophthalmology and multiple sclerosis.  Together with her collaborators, she has been awarded $2.5 million research grant funding to implement a novel experimental model of MS she has developed in ongoing studies.

“I use the visual system as a means of finding new ways to look at old problems.
The eye can give us many insights into mechanisms of brain injury, and help us better understand diseases like multiple sclerosis,” she says.

“It’s a great honour because this award isn’t restricted to the medical community,” 39-year-old Costello says. “Everyone goes in on an even playing field, all experts in their respective areas.”

Demchuk, also 39, believes it’s an honour for both him and his team. “It’s a bit of validation for all of the hours and days of work we put in. My CV would be miniscule without a team.”

Costello says her kids have made her a better physician and person and much better at time management. “My kids have forced me to be more focused and less self – indulgent with my time.”

“And kids don’t care what awards you’ve won,” she adds.

About the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Calgary
UCalgary’s Faculty of Medicine is a national leader in health research with an international reputation for excellence and innovation in health care research, education and delivery. We train the next generation of health practitioners and move new treatments and diagnostic techniques from the laboratory bench to the hospital bedside, improving patient care.  For more information visit http://medicine.ucalgary.ca. or follow us on twitter.com @UofCMedicine.

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Gutsy research: UCalgary GI doctor receives international award

March 26, 2009 3 comments

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By Laurie Wang

Dr. Martin Storr

Dr. Martin Storr

Dr. Martin Storr loves your guts. Well, he certainly likes to study them.

Winning the Junior Investigator Research Award from the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD), the Faculty of Medicine clinician-scientist was thrilled when he found out.

“I opened a bottle!” Storr smiles.

The IFFGD recognizes active investigators who have a record of research interest in basic mechanisms or clinical aspects of functional gastrointestinal and motility disorders. The foundation honors young scientists who have done strong translational research, taking the basic science at the lab bench to the patient’s bedside.

“To me, the gut is central to the body. We start with the gut in the morning at the washroom and the breakfast and we end with a gut feeling at night,” he says. “That’s why it’s always attracted me.”

To date, Storr has published 77 peer-reviewed studies in his field.

“I study how the gut functions and how it protects itself. I’m looking specifically at the regulatory role of the endocannabinoid and endoopioid systems,” explains Storr, an associate professor in the Division of Gastroenterology.

Both the endocannabinoid and endoopioid systems are regulatory systems in our bodies that control gastrointestinal function. Storr is interested in developing potential therapeutics that target these systems in hopes of battling functional gastrointestinal disorders.

“Functional gastrointestinal disorders are associated with numerous symptoms like nausea, vomiting, bloating, difficulties swallowing, abdominal discomfort and pain, as well as altered bowel habits,” he says.

Storr thanks the people at UCalgary for supporting his ideas, protecting his time and encouraging his academic endeavours.

“I came here as a full-time member in 2007 because in this position, I have enough protected time to plan and perform sophisticated research and to develop concepts and strategic plans for my translational approaches,” he says. “I used to have to wait until nighttime to think academic thoughts, but now, I get to think about my studies during the day and I have time to do the research I like.”

Martin Storr will receive his award at the 8th International Symposium on Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in mid April.

About the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Calgary

The U of C’s Faculty of Medicine is a national leader in health research with an international reputation for excellence and innovation in health care research, education and delivery. Through its educational programs, the Faculty of Medicine trains the physicians and scientists who will lead the next generation of health practitioners. Through its clinical work, continuing medical education programs, and close relationship with the Calgary Health Region, the Faculty of Medicine moves new treatments and diagnostic techniques from the laboratory bench to the hospital bedside efficiently and effectively, improving patient care.

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Faculty of Medicine professor awarded national research chair

Dr. Lynn McIntyre (front row, third from left) with five other researchers awarded chair in New Perspectives in Gender, Sex and Health from CIHR.

Dr. Lynn McIntyre (front row, third from left) with five other researchers awarded chair in New Perspectives in Gender, Sex and Health from CIHR.

A UCalgary Faculty of Medicine professor and researcher–whose passion for eradicating global food insecurity has taken her as far away as Bangladesh to study the issue–has been awarded a research chair in New Perspectives in Gender, Sex and Health by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

As part of research chair program created by the CIHR’s Institute of Gender Health (IGH), Dr. Lynn McIntyre, professor, Department of Community Health Sciences, was awarded the chair along with five other leading health researchers from across Canada.

“The chairs are producing cutting-edge research with enormous potential to improve the health of Canadians, such as Dr. McIntyre’s research on hunger and food insecurity domestically and internationally,” says Dr. Joy Johnson, Scientific Director of the Institute of Gender and Health. “Her work focuses on women and children, the most frequent victims of food insecurity both in Canada and in other countries.”

McIntyre’s work–which is in line with the first Development Millennium Goal of halving world hunger by 2015–took her to Bangladesh where she studied hunger amongst both urban and rural populations.

During the in-depth study, McIntyre spoke to groups of highly vulnerable woman, living on less than one dollar a day and responsible for providing for their families. The intense field work included door-to-door recruitment and speaking to these women about food insecurity and hunger in various remote locations and in the slums of Dhaka.

In Bangladesh to present findings

Her principal finding was a need for a whole person development approach–a readjustment of available health care services to ensure they meet the needs of these women and others like them. McIntyre is currently in Bangladesh sharing her findings with government officials and non-profit agencies.

“The women have told me, ‘We knew when we met you that you were going to do something for us,’ and I am doing my best to bring improved understanding to those who really can do something for millions of women like them,” says McIntyre.

Closer to home, McIntyre is part of a study looking at social policies in Canada created between 1996 and 2006, focusing on their impact on national food insecurity. She’s also working with Alberta Health Services as they begin investigating the impacts of food insecurity on their patient population, the first clinical site in Canada to do this.

The IGH created the research chair program to expand and strengthen research capacity relevant to gender (socio-cultural experiences), sex (biological factors) and health in Canada. It is intended for health researchers who have developed a reputation for excellence in research, and to support outstanding research programs that enhance the health of Canadians.


Lack of strategies to manage MRI wait lists a key reason for excessive wait times

By Jordanna Heller

MRI wait times excessive

A new study headed by Dr. Tom Feasby, Dean of UCalgary’s Faculty of Medicine, shows that while Canada lags behind other countries in the number of diagnostic imaging devices, more machines are not the only solution to long wait times. The study’s authors say it is critical to prioritize MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) requests effectively.

“This study shows there are important deficiencies in the current system. We hope this research will help health system decision-makers and managers improve the provision of this important service,” says Feasby, the senior author of “Management of MRI Wait Lists in Canada,” published in Healthcare Policy.

A MRI provides detailed images of the body, and is technology that is being used more frequently, especially in the areas of abdominal, pelvic, cardiac and breast imaging. The technology can be used to evaluate tumours, show abnormalities in the heart, brain and joints.

To determine how requests for MRI studies are managed the study’s authors surveyed public MRI facilities in Canada. Although almost all of the facilities have some methods to triage MRI requests, less than half documented their guidelines for prioritization, and none used quality assurance methods to ensure guidelines were followed. The report determined that despite wait times of up to several years in some facilities, strategies to reduce wait times are diverse, uncoordinated and largely ineffective.

Dr. Derek Emery, one of the report’s authors, says, “most MRI facilities in Canada have a substantial wait list problem. Improvement in wait list management will be necessary for better access, fairness and quality in the provision of MRI services in Canada. We do not currently know the extent of inappropriate overuse of MRI, nor do we know the extent of inappropriate underuse.” Emery is an Associate Professor in the Department of Radiology and Diagnostic Imaging at the University of Alberta.

“This paper shows that many MRI centres do not employ effective and standardized processes to track and manage the appropriateness of the scans they perform. Such processes are crucial to ensure that patients in different regions of Canada have equitable access to MRIs, and that patients who really do need an MRI get one rapidly. This is a challenging problem, and needs the focused attention not only of radiologists, but particularly the physicians who are ordering the scans,“ says Dr. Andreas Laupacis,  a general internist, the Executive Director of the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, and a professor in the Departments of Medicine and Health Policy Management and Evaluation at the University of Toronto.

This study was supported by the CIHR (Canadian Institutes of Health Research).

Full text of the study available here.

About the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Calgary
UCalgary’s Faculty of Medicine is a national leader in health research with an international reputation for excellence and innovation in health care research, education and delivery. We train the next generation of health practitioners and move new treatments and diagnostic techniques from the laboratory bench to the hospital bedside, improving patient care. For more information visit http://medicine.ucalgary.ca. or follow us on twitter.com @UofCMedicine.