Thursday, July 28, 2011

High School Students Visit Medical School During Summer Scrubs Program

Ben Motz (above right), a medical student at the USA College of Medicine, works with high school students participating in Mobile's Summer Scrubs program.

The program, sponsored by the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce, allows high school students to visit the medical school and other health care sites in Mobile and Baldwin County.

According to Dr. Cindy Stanfield, director of the health pre-professional program at USA, about 200 high school students are selected into the program each year. “Through the Summer Scrubs program, students have the opportunity to see first-hand what the health care profession involves.”

Dr. Stephen Kayes, professor of cell biology and neuroscience at the USA College of Medicine, said it is important for high school students to be involved in the Summer Scrubs program because it allows them to learn about health careers early. “They are able to make decisions early on about coursework that will prepare them for their transition into the health care field.”

While the high school students were visiting the medical school during the four-day program, Dr. Kayes led activities in the anatomical lab, giving students a close-up look at both healthy and unhealthy tissues and organs. In addition, USA College of Medicine administrators talked with students about career options, and USA medical students presented scientific lectures for the teens.

Dr. Kayes (right) talks with students during the event.

New Treatments for Type I Diabetes

Pediatric endocrinologist Dr. Anne-Marie Kaulfers, assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, said treatment for Type I diabetes has dramatically changed in recent years.

Type I diabetes, also known as juvenile onset diabetes, is a lifelong disease that occurs when the pancreas does not produce insulin to properly control blood glucose levels. Most often it is diagnosed before the patient reaches the age of 18.

“For reasons not clearly understood, this disease is becoming more common,” Dr. Kaulfers said. “We are currently seeing 10 new cases a month, which is much more frequent than in past years.”

Treatment for Type I diabetes has changed for the better with continuous glucose monitors – a device placed on the body, usually on the stomach, that measures blood glucose every few minutes throughout the day and night. “The monitor can detect trends and tell if your blood glucose is going up or down too quickly. This feedback allows patients to know ahead of time if they need to eat a snack to boost their blood sugar levels and when to increase insulin dosage if blood glucose is high.”

“This is something that our parents love,” Dr. Kaulfers added. “They are now able to monitor their children all of the time. The monitor can tell parents in the middle of the night if their child is having issues with their blood glucose levels.”

Dr. Kaulfers said there are currently research studies being conducted for future technologies. In approximately 10 years, she predicts that people suffering from Type I diabetes will be able to use a sensor, called an artificial pancreas, that will wirelessly communicate and control the insulin pump.

“This technology will be completely user-independent,” she said. “It will not require the patient to do anything to control their blood glucose level – essentially you will be able to eat what you want and be as active as you want.”

Currently, the new device works overnight but is still being tested for daytime use. It will most likely first come out as a nighttime-only device.

Dr. Kaulfers said these new advances in care are important because your average blood glucose determines if you will have complications later in life, such as kidney disease, heart disease or even blindness. “These advances in technology will dramatically cut down on long-term issues.”

Dr. Kaulfers recently gave a community lecture on potential cures for Type 1 diabetes. To view the lecture online, click here. To make an appointment with Dr. Kaulfers, call (251) 405-5147.

Medical Student Research Day Set for August 5

The University of South Alabama College of Medicine’s 38th annual Medical Student Research Day will feature Dr. Talmadge King, the Julius R. Krevans Distinguished Professor in Internal Medicine and chair of the department of medicine at the University of California in San Francisco.

The event will take place August 5, 2011, in the Medical Sciences Building. Oral presentations will begin at 9 a.m. and poster presentations will begin at noon. Dr. King’s lecture, “Physician-Scientist: Pursuit of a Career in Patient-Oriented Research,” will take place at 11 a.m. in the Medical Sciences Building Auditorium.

Dr. King’s research interests focus on the pathogenesis, diagnosis and management of inflammatory and immunologic lung injury.

Dr. King, who is board certified in internal medicine and pulmonary medicine, serves on the executive committee of the American Board of Internal Medicine and is secretary-treasurer of the Board of Directors.

In addition, Dr. King serves on the advisory council of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and previously served as president of the American Thoracic Society (ATS). Dr. King has served on the Lung Biology and Pathology Study Section of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Pulmonary and Allergy Drugs Advisory Committee Center for Drug Evaluation and Research of the FDA, and the NIH Advisory Board for Clinical Research.

He is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Association of American Physicians, the American Clinical and Climatological Association and the Fleischner Society. He is a master of the American College of Physicians and a fellow of the American College of Chest Physicians.

Dr. King has been a member of several editorial boards and has co-edited several books, including the acclaimed reference book Interstitial Lung Disease, now in its 5th edition; Murray and Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine (5th Ed.); and Medical Management of Vulnerable & Underserved Patients: Principles, Practice, Population, the only reference currently available that focuses on the treatment of patients living with chronic diseases in poor and minority populations.

The USA Summer Research Program is a 10-week program that allows medical students to gain a better appreciation for biomedical research and the contribution it makes to the applied science that is needed to improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases.

For more information, contact Natalie Kent at (251) 461-1548.

Med School Café - Expert Advice for the Community

This week, Ruth Kennedy (left), clinical nurse practitioner in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, presented the July Med School Café lecture. The lecture, "Overcoming Obstacles in Fertility," had a total of 30 attendees.

At the lecture, Kennedy discussed infertility issues that relate to both men and women. She also explained the advanced reproductive technology (ART) procedures that are available at the USA Center for Women’s Health for treating infertility.

The next Med School Café lecture will be held on August 25, 2011, at the Mobile Museum of Art. If you are interested in attending, email for details.