Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘health’


The Rutgers Global Health Institute, part of Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey – A New Venture Designed to Improve Health and Wellness Globally  

Author: Gail S. Thornton, M.A.

Co-Editor: The VOICES of Patients, Hospital CEOs, HealthCare Providers, Caregivers and Families: Personal Experience with Critical Care and Invasive Medical Procedures

 

The newly formed Rutgers Global Health Institute, part of Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences (RBHS) of Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey (http://rbhs.rutgers.edu/), represents a new way of thinking by providing positive health outcomes to potential patients around the world affected by disease and/or by a negative environmental impact. The goal of the Institute is three-fold:

  • to improve the health and wellness of individuals and populations around the world,
  • to create a healthier world through innovation, engineering, and technology, and
  • to educate involved citizens and effective leaders in global health.

Richard G. Marlink, M.D., a former Harvard University professor recognized internationally for research and leadership in the fight against AIDS, was recently appointed as the inaugural Henry Rutgers Professor of Global Health and Director of the Rutgers Global Health Institute.

The Rutgers Global Health Institute was formed last year after research by the University into the most significant health issues affecting under-served and under-developed populations. While conducting research for its five-year strategic plan, the RBHS looked for bold and ambitious ways that they could take advantage of the changing health care environment and band together to tackle the world’s leading health and environmental causes, contributing to the betterment of society. One of the results was the formation of the Rutgers Global Health Institute, supporting cross-functionally Rutgers faculty, scientists, and clinicians who represent the best in their respective fields of health innovation, research and patient care related to global health.

More broadly, the RBHS, created in 2013, is one of the nation’s leading – and largest — academic health centers that provides health care education, research and clinical service and care. It is an umbrella organization that encompasses eight schools – Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, New Jersey Medical School, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Rutgers School of Dental Medicine, School of Health Professions, School of Nursing and School of Public Health.

In addition, the RBHS encompasses six centers and institutes that provide cancer treatment and research, neuroscience, advanced biotechnology and medicine, environmental and occupational health and health care policy and aging research. Those centers and institutes are the Brain Health Institute, Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine, Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute, Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research, Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, and Rutgers Institute for Translational Medicine and Research. And lastly, the RBHS includes the University Behavioral Health Care.

 

Rutgers Institute For Health Building

Image SOURCE: Photograph courtesy of the Rutgers Global Health Institute, Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey.   

 

Below is my interview with the Inaugural Henry Rutgers Professor of Global Health and Director of the Rutgers Global Health Institute Richard G. Marlink, M.D., which occurred in April, 2017.

You were recently appointed as the inaugural Henry Rutgers Professor of Global Health and Director of the new Rutgers Global Health Institute at Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences (RBHS). What are the goals of the new Institute?

Dr. Marlink: The overarching goal of the Rutgers Global Health Institute is to improve the health and wellness of individuals and populations in need both here and around the world, to create a healthier world through innovation, engineering, and technology, and to educate involved citizens and effective leaders in global health. We will do that by building on the aspiration of our originating organization — RBHS, which is to be recognized as one of the best academic health centers in the U.S., known for its education, research, clinical care, and commitment to improving access to health care and reducing health care disparities.

As the newly formed Rutgers Global Health Institute, we are embarking on an ambitious agenda to take advantage of the changing health care environment. Working across schools and disciplines at Rutgers University, we plan to have a significant impact within at least four signature programs identified by RBHS, which are cancer, environmental and occupational health, infection and inflammation, and public health. We also will include all other parts of Rutgers, as desired, beyond RBHS.

My background as a global health researcher, physician, and leader of grassroots health care delivery will help develop programs to undertake global health initiatives that assist populations locally and around the world. I believe that involved citizens, including students, can greatly impact major societal issues.

A key role in the strategic growth of Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences – an umbrella organization for eight schools, four centers and institutes and a behavioral health network — is to broaden the Rutgers University’s presence in the public health community globally to improve health and wellness. How will the new Rutgers Global Health Institute be part of this growth?

Dr. Marlink: Our RBHS Chancellor Brian Strom [M.D., M.P.H.] believes that we are positioned to become one of the finest research universities in the country, working cross-functionally with our three campuses in Newark, Camden and New Brunswick. In developing the strategic plan, Dr. Strom notes that we become much stronger and more capable and productive by leveraging our strengths to collaborate and working together across disciplines to best serve the needs of our community locally and globally.

Specifically, we are formulating plans to focus on these areas: old and new infectious disease epidemics; the expanding burden of noncommunicable diseases in poor populations; the social and environmental threats to health, poverty and humanitarian crises; and inadequate local and developing country health systems. We will support the development of global health research programs university-wide, the recruitment of faculty with interests in global health, and the creation of a web-based global health resource center for faculty and students with interests in these areas.

We are still a very young part of RBHS, and of Rutgers overall, so our plans are a work in progress. As tangible examples of our commitment to improving health and wellness globally, we plan to enhance global public health by establishing links between global public health and environmental and occupational health faculty in studies related to air pollution, climate change, and pesticide health.

Another example the Institute has in the works is expanding links with the School of Engineering. In fact, we are creating a senior-level joint faculty position with the School of Engineering and Rutgers-New Brunswick. Still other plans involve forging collaborative relationships between the Rutgers Cancer Program, under the auspices of Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, which is New Jersey’s only National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated comprehensive cancer center, and other organizations and partners around the world, especially in poor and less-developed countries.

How is the Rutgers Global Health Institute strategically prepared for changing the health care paradigm?

Dr. Marlink: We intend to be an international global health leader in the health sciences, in public health, and in other related, but non-biomedical professions. This means that we will incorporate our learnings from laboratory sciences and the clinical, behavioral, and public health sciences, as well as from engineering, business, economics, law, and social sciences. This broad approach is critical in this health care environment as accountability for patient care is shifting to large groups of providers. Health care will be more value-driven and our health care teams must work collaboratively to be innovative. Our focus on health care is now also population-based, rather than only individual-based, and we are moving from large regional centers toward community centers, even in small and remote areas of the world. We are encouraged by rapid changes in technology that will provide new opportunities for shared knowledge, patient care and research.

Additionally, we are exploring ways to identify and recruit key faculty who will increase our breadth and depth of key disease areas as well as provide guidance on how to pursue science grants from the National Institute of Health (NIH)-funded program project grants and specialized research programs.

Currently, Rutgers University receives NIH funding for research in public health, population health, health promotion, wellness, health behavior, preventive medicine, and global health.

As a researcher, scholar and leader of grassroots health care delivery, how have your past positions prepared you for this new challenge? Your last position was the Bruce A. Beal, Robert L. Beal, and Alexander S. Beal Professor of the Practice of Public Health at Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Executive Director of the Harvard AIDS Initiative.

Dr. Marlink: I have been a global health practitioner, researcher, and executive leader for almost three decades. I am trained in medical oncology and HIV medicine and have conducted clinical, epidemiological and implementation research in Africa since 1985. I was first introduced to global health when finishing my Hematology/Oncology fellowship at what is now the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in the mid-1980’s in Boston.

During my Hematology/Oncology fellowship and after the co-organizing the first, hospital-based AIDS care clinic in the New England region, I was trying to learn the ropes in virology and molecular biology in the laboratory group of Max Essex at Harvard University. During that time in the mid-1980s, our laboratory group along with Senegalese and French collaborators discovered the first evidence for the existence of a new human retrovirus, HIV-2, a distinct second type of human AIDS virus, with its apparent origins in West Africa.

As a clinician, I was able to assist in Senegal, helping set up clinical care and create a research cohort in Dakar for hundreds of women sex workers infected with this new human retrovirus and care for them and their families. I discovered that a little can go a long way in poor settings, such as in Senegal. I became hooked on helping create solutions to help people in poor settings in Africa and elsewhere. Long-term partnerships and friendships have subsequently been made in many developing countries. Throughout my career, I have built successful partnerships with many governments, companies, and non-profit organizations, and those relationships have been the foundation to build successful public health partnerships in poor regions of the world.

In the 1990s, I helped create the Botswana-Harvard Partnership for HIV Research and Education (BHP). Through this partnership, the Government of Botswana and BHP have worked together to combat the AIDS epidemic in Botswana. Under my direction, and in partnership with the Botswana Ministry of Health, BHP launched the KITSO AIDS Training Program in 1999. Kitso is the Setswana word for ‘knowledge.”

KITSO is the national training program for physicians, nurses, and pharmacists, which has trained more than 14,000 health professionals in HIV/AIDS care and antiretroviral treatment. KITSO training modules address issues, such as antiretroviral therapy, HIV/AIDS-related disease management, gender-specific HIV issues, task-sharing, supportive and palliative care, and various psychosocial and counseling themes.

In addition, I was the Botswana County Director for Harvard Chan School’s 3-country President’s Emergency Plan AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) grant, The Botswana PEPFAR effort includes a Clinical and Laboratory Master Training Program and the creation of the Botswana Ministry of Health’s Monitoring and Evaluation Unit. Concurrently, I was the Principal Investigator of Project HEART in five African countries with the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.

Also in Botswana, in 2000, I was a co-founder of a distinct partnership involving a large commitment to the Government of Botswana from the Bill and Melinda Gates and Merck Foundations.  This commitment continues as an independent non-governmental organization (NGO) to provide support for various AIDS prevention and care efforts in Botswana and the region.

All these global health experiences, it seems, have led me to my new role at the Rutgers Global Health Institute.

What is your advice for ways that the business community or university students can positively impact major societal issues?

Dr. Marlink: My advice is to be optimistic and follow that desire to want to make a difference. Margaret Mead, the American cultural anthropologist, said years ago, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” I believe that to be our guiding principle as we embark on this new initiative.

I also believe that students should become specialized in specific areas prior to going fully into “global health,” as they develop in their careers, since they will then add more value later. For example, students should be grounded in the theory of global health in their undergraduate studies and then develop a specialization, such as becoming a statistician, economist, or medical doctor, to make a longer and greater impact in improving global health. As for the business community, we are looking for committed individuals who are specialized in specific areas to bring their knowledge to our organization, as partners in the fight against disease, improving the environment, or helping with humanitarian issues. We are committed to improving health and wellness, increasing access to the best health care, and reducing health disparities.

What is it about your current role that you enjoy the most?

Dr. Marlink: I enjoy building research, learning, and clinical programs, as I have in the HIV arena since the early 1980s. At that time, there were limited resources and funding, but a willingness among universities, non-governmental organizations, hospitals and the pharmaceutical industry to make a difference. Today in my new role, I’d like all of us to have an impact on health and wellness for those in need – to build programs from the ground up while partnering with organizations with the same goal in mind. I know it can be done.

Over my career, when I have a patient here or in a developed country who has been diagnosed with cancer, but is cured or in remission, that puts a huge smile on my face and in my heart. It also impacts you for the rest of your life. Or when I see an infant born without HIV because of the local country programs that are put in place, that also makes me feel so fulfilled, so happy.

I have worked with many talented individuals who have become great friends and partners over my career who have helped create a positive life for under-served populations around the world. We need to remember that progress happens with one person at a time or one program at a time. That’s how you truly improve health around the world.

 

Headshot - 2016

Image SOURCE: Photograph of Inaugural Henry Rutgers Professor of Global Health and Director of the Rutgers Global Health Institute at Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences, courtesy of Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Richard G. Marlink, M.D.
Inaugural Henry Rutgers Professor of Global Health

Director of the Rutgers Global Health Institute

Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences

Richard G. Marlink, M.D., a Harvard University professor recognized internationally for research and leadership in the fight against AIDS, was recently appointed as the inaugural Henry Rutgers Professor of Global Health and Director of a new Rutgers Global Health Institute at Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences (RBHS). His role is to develop the strategic growth of RBHS by broadening the Rutgers University’s presence in the public health community to improve health and wellness.

Previously, Dr. Marlink was the Bruce A. Beal, Robert L. Beal, and Alexander S. Beal Professor of the Practice of Public Health at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Executive Director of the Harvard AIDS Initiative.

At the start of the AIDS epidemic, Dr. Marlink was instrumental in setting up the first, hospital-based HIV/AIDS clinic in Boston, Massachusetts, and studied the impact of the HIV virus in west and central Africa. After helping to start the Botswana-Harvard Partnership in 1996, he founded the Kitso AIDS Training Program, which would become Botswana’s national AIDS training program. Kitso means knowledge in the local Setswana language.

Dr. Marlink was the principal investigator for the Tshepo Study, the first large-scale antiretroviral treatment study in Botswana, in addition to conducting other clinical and epidemiological studies in the region. Also in Botswana, he was the country director for Harvard’s contribution to the joint Botswana and United States governments’ HIV/AIDS and TB training, monitoring and evaluation PEPFAR effort.

In the mid-1980s in Senegal, Dr. Marlink was part of the team of Senegalese, French and American researchers who discovered and then studied the second type of human AIDS virus, HIV-2. Since then, he has been involved in multiple HIV/AIDS care, treatment and prevention programs in many African countries, including in Botswana, Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. He has also organized initiatives to enhance HIV/AIDS care in Brazil, Puerto Rico and Thailand.

Dr. Marlink has served as the scientific director, the vice president for implementation and the senior adviser for medical and scientific affairs at the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, where he was principal investigator of Project HEART, a five-country CDC/PEPFAR effort in Africa. That project began in 2004 and by 2011 had placed more than 1 million people living with HIV into care clinics. More than 565,000 of these people were placed on life-saving antiretroviral treatment.

Since 2000, Dr. Marlink has been the founding member of the board of directors of the African Comprehensive HIV/AIDS Partnerships, a public-partnership among the government of Botswana and the Bill and Melinda Gates and Merck Foundations to provide ongoing support for numerous HIV/AIDS prevention, care and treatment efforts in that country.

He has authored or co-authored more than 130 scientific articles; written a textbook, Global AIDS Crisis: A Reference Handbook; and co-edited the book, AIDS in Africa, 2nd Edition. Additionally, he served as chief editor for two special supplements to the journal AIDS and as executive editor of the seminal 320-author, three-volume textbook, From the Ground Up: A Guide to Building Comprehensive HIV/AIDS Care Programs in Resource Limited Settings.

A trained fellow in hematology/oncology at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Marlink received his medical degree from the University of New Mexico and his bachelor’s degree from Brown University.

 

Editor’s note:

We would like to thank Marilyn DiGiaccobe, head of Partnerships and Strategic Initiatives, at the Rutgers Global Health Institute, for the help and support she provided during this interview.

 

REFERENCE/SOURCE

Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences (http://rbhs.rutgers.edu/)

Other related articles

Retrieved from https://aids.harvard.edu/ 

Retrieved from http://b.3cdn.net/glaser/515eaa8068b5e71d44_mlbrof7xw.pdf 

Other related articles were published in this Open Access Online Scientific Journal include the following: 

2016

CRISPR/Cas9 and HIV1 

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2016/04/16/crisprcas9-and-hiv1/

Concerns About Viruses

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2016/01/29/concerns-about-viruses/

CD-4 Therapy for Solid Tumors

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2016/05/02/cd-4-therapy-for-solid-tumors/

Novel Discoveries in Molecular Biology and Biomedical Science

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2016/05/30/novel-discoveries-in-molecular-biology-and-biomedical-science/

Scientists eliminate HIV1 DNA from the genome and prevent reinfection

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2016/03/23/scientists-eliminate-hiv1-dna-from-the-genome-and-prevent-reinfection/

Double Downside of HIV CRISPR therapy

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2016/04/09/double-downside-of-hiv-crispr-therapy/

2015

Where Infection meets with Cancer: Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS) is the most common cancer in HIV-1-infected persons and is caused by one of only 7 human cancer viruses, i.e., human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8)

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2015/10/20/where-infection-meets-with-cancer-kaposis-sarcoma-ks-is-the-most-common-cancer-in-hiv-1-infected-persons-and-is-caused-by-one-of-only-7-human-cancer-viruses-i-e-human-herpesvirus-8-hhv/

Antibody shows promise as treatment for HIV

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2015/04/09/antibody-shows-promise-as-treatment-for-hiv/

2014

AIDS: Origin of HIV pandemic ‘was 1920s Kinshasa’

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2014/10/10/aids-origin-of-hiv-pandemic-was-1920s-kinshasa/

2013

Scientists discover how AIDS virus enters key immune cells

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2013/12/31/scientists-discover-how-aids-virus-enters-key-immune-cells/

Heroes in Medical Research: Dr. Robert Ting, Ph.D. and Retrovirus in AIDS and Cancer

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2013/04/17/heroes-in-medical-research-dr-robert-ting-ph-d-and-retrovirus-in-aids-and-cancer/

2012

Nanotechnology and HIV/AIDS treatment

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2012/12/25/nanotechnology-and-hivaids-treatment/

HIV vaccine: Caltech puts us One step further

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2012/08/31/hiv-vaccine-caltech-puts-us-one-step-further/

Bone Marrow Transplant Eliminates Signs of HIV Infection

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2012/07/29/bone-marrow-transplant-eliminates-signs-of-hiv-infection/

Getting Better: Documentary Videos on Medical Progress — in Surgery, Leukemia, and HIV/AIDS

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2012/08/23/getting-better-documentary-videos-on-medical-progress-in-surgery-leukemia-and-hivaids/

Advertisements

Read Full Post »


Swiss Paraplegic Centre, Nottwil, Switzerland – A World-Class Clinic for Spinal Cord Injuries

Author: Gail S. Thornton, M.A.

Co-Editor: The VOICES of Patients, Hospital CEOs, HealthCare Providers, Caregivers and Families: Personal Experience with Critical Care and Invasive Medical Procedures

 

The Swiss Paraplegic Centre (SPC, www.paraplegie.ch) in Nottwil, Switzerland, is a privately owned, leading acute care and specialist hospital employing more than 1,500 health professionals in 80 different occupations that focuses on world-class primary care and comprehensive rehabilitation of patients with spinal cord injuries. In addition to the SPC’s extensive range of medical and therapeutic care, treatment and services, the hospital offers advisory services, as well as research in the areas of paraplegia [paralysis of the legs and lower body, typically caused by spinal injury or disease], tetraplegia [also known as quadriplegia, paralysis caused by illness or injury that results in the partial or total loss of use of all four limbs and torso], prevention and related conditions. With 150 beds, the SPC provides modern facilities for rehabilitation and therapy, diagnostics, surgery, ongoing care, orthopedic technology, as well as social services and 24-hour emergency care.

In its 26-year history, the SPC has provided treatment and care to more than 20,000 in-patients. That number continues to grow exponentially due to the reputation of the SPC. In fact, the SPC’s staff performs their duties with effectiveness, expediency and cost-efficiency measures, requiring highly developed process-led medicine, centered around the needs of the patient.

The areas of medical specialty and centers of excellence include the Swiss Paraplegic Centre (SPC), the Swiss Spinal Column and Spinal Cord Centre (SWRZ), the Centre for Pain Medicine (ZSM) and the Swiss Olympic Medical Center (SOMC). These centers respectively offer patients cutting-edge medical treatment based on the most advanced research in areas covering treatment and rehabilitation cases of acute paraplegia, vertebral and spinal cord surgery, as well as services relating to pain management, sports medicine and preventive health checks.

Alongside the core focus on paraplegiology, the SPC is also equipped with the necessary medical facilities, allowing for the lifelong care of paraplegic patients. The SPC provides individually-tailored, comprehensive treatment in three phases (acute, reactivation and integration) using highly skilled staff and state-of-the-art equipment. The aim is always to re-establish a patient’s personal functionality, self-image and lifestyle to the fullest possible extent, with a holistic approach to treatment that includes mental, physical and psycho-social aspects, such as career, family and leisure activities.

Specialist services available at the SPC include amongst others orthopedics, neuro-urology, pain medicine, sports medicine, prevention, clinical research, emergency medicine, vehicle conversion and rehabilitation techniques. Medico-therapeutic treatments, such as physiotherapy, ergotherapy and training therapy are available, alongside advice and counseling services, such as professional reintegration.

The SPC is the largest of Switzerland’s four special hospitals for paraplegics and tetraplegics located in Nottwil/Lucerne, a town in central Switzerland on the shores of Lake Sempach. The other three facilities are in Basel, Sion and Zurich. Nowadays, the SPC consistently treats more than 60 percent of people with spinal cord injury in Switzerland and is fully occupied year-round. 

Image SOURCE: Photographs courtesy of Swiss Paraplegic Centre, Nottwil, Switzerland.  Interior and exterior photographs of the hospital.

 

Below is my interview with Hospital Director Dr. Med. Hans Peter Gmünder, M.D., which occurred in March, 2017.

 As a privately owned clinic with a specialty in the rehabilitation of patients with spinal cord injuries, how do you keep the spirit of research and innovation alive?

Dr. Med. (medicinae) Gmünder: The goal of the Swiss Paraplegic Foundation, an umbrella organization that encompasses the Swiss Paraplegic Centre, is to create a unique network of services for people with spinal cord injury, from primary care through to the end of their lives. Its aim is to provide comprehensive rehabilitation and to reintegrate those affected into family life, society and the working environment.

We want to maintain our pioneering and leading role in the fields of acute medicine, rehabilitation and lifelong assistance to people with spinal cord injuries. By providing a comprehensive network of services featuring solidarity, medical care, integration and lifelong assistance, as well as research all in one place, we are unique in Switzerland and in other countries around the world.

People with spinal cord injury rely upon our network of services, which are at their disposal throughout their lives. The challenge facing us is to continually adapt these services to reflect current research and treatment to comply with our mission of delivering high-quality services. The trust which has been placed in us obliges us to continue our success story.

We have our own research department, closely linked to the Swiss Paraplegic Centre, and dedicated employees who draw upon their wide-ranging professional networks to stay on top of the latest international research.

We have a few examples that we’d like to share with you.

  • In 2013, the World Health Organization (WHO) published its first international health report on the topic of spinal cord injury, “International Perspectives on Spinal Cord Injury.” It was developed in collaboration with Swiss Paraplegic Research in Nottwil and a team of international experts.
  • In the summer of 2014, the Swiss Paraplegic Centre became the first rehabilitation center in Switzerland to implement exoskeletons [external covering for the body that provides both support and protection] in the rehabilitation and training of patients with spinal cord injury. Our experiences are included in an international study, and will contribute to the development of useful mobility aids for people with spinal cord injuries.

At the end of October 2016, an estimated 9,000 visitors came to Nottwil for two days of celebrations to mark five anniversaries — the Swiss Paraplegic Foundation turned 40, the Swiss Paraplegics Association was 35, the Swiss Paraplegic Centre celebrated 25 years, Swiss Paraplegic Research reached 15 years, and it was the 80th birthday of the founder and honorary president, Dr. Med. Guido A. Zäch, M.D.

What draws patients to the Swiss Paraplegic Centre?

Dr. Gmünder: We support people with spinal cord injuries throughout their lives. It is the unique, holistic approach to acute medicine, rehabilitation and lifelong medical, professional and social assistance that draws patients from Switzerland and many other countries to our clinic in Nottwil.

For example, in cases where we have individuals involved in serious accidents, the comprehensive rehabilitation of a patient with spinal cord injury begins at the scene of the accident. The aim of comprehensive assistance follows in three stages – acute, reactivation and integration phase – through the appropriate, individual deployment of specialist personnel and instruments. We rescue the individual at the scene of the accident and provide the right acute therapy. What follows is an initial rehabilitation through specialists in diagnosis, surgery, therapy and care, and then comes lifelong support and care with the aid of specialists.

Following the disproportionately high percentage of people with tetraplegia admitted to the Centre for initial rehabilitation in 2014, our specialist clinic reported a higher proportion of people with paraplegia in 2015. Spinal cord injuries resulted from an accident in around half of all initial rehabilitation cases: falls led to the spinal cord injury in the case of 43 percent of people affected, sports accidents with 35 percent and road traffic accidents in 18 percent. In fact, 52,482 nursing days were clocked for a total of 1,085 in-patients who were discharged from the clinic after initial rehabilitation or follow-up treatment in 2015.

In fact, some of our patient success stories mentioned on our web site involve these individuals:

“I was a cheesemaker for 33 years with my own dairy; gardening was my second love. That was before I had my accident helping out on my son’s farm. I need a new hobby now that I will enjoy, that will fill my time and give me something to do when I get back home. Making art out of lime wood could appeal to me. While it is difficult for me to make the small cuts in the wood as I lack strength in my hand, patience will reap rewards. My most important objective? To be able to stand on my own feet and take a few steps again. I should have achieved that by the time I am discharged from the clinic in five months.” — Josef Kobler (58), tetraplegic following an accident.

“Since being diagnosed with a spinal cord injury, I come back to Nottwil a lot. For instance, to go the Wheelchair Mechanics Department to have the settings of my new wheelchair optimized. It replaces my legs and must fit my body perfectly. However, in most cases I attend the Centre for Pain Medicine of the SPC as an outpatient in order to have the extremely severe pains and muscle cramps, which I suffer from every day, alleviated. They became so severe that I had a pain pump with medication implanted at the SPC. It is apparent now that unfortunately the effect isn’t permanent. We are now giving electrostimulation a try. This involves applying electrodes to the vertebral canal. If I could finally get my pain under control, I would be able to return to work and set up my own business. That is my biggest wish. I have had an idea about what I could do.” — Hervé Brohon (41), paraplegic following an accident.

“I have always been passionate about cooking and have enjoyed treating my family and guests to my dishes and to the aperitifs that I have created myself. I absolutely want to be able to do that again. As independently as possible, of course. That is my objective. I have availed of the opportunity on a few occasions to try out the obstacle-free practice apartment and kitchen at the SPC. If I am able to go home in four weeks, my kitchen will also be adapted to be wheelchair-friendly. Whether I am cooking for two, four or six people is a much bigger consideration as a wheelchair user. I now have to consciously allow for time and effort. However, one thing is certain: I can’t wait to welcome my first guests.” — Isa Bapst (73), paraplegic following an accident.

How is the Swiss Paraplegic Centre transforming health care?

Dr. Gmünder: The Swiss Paraplegic Centre offers an integrated healthcare structure, including a wide range of medical specialists covering every aspect of medical care for those with spinal cord injuries.

In selected core disciplines for the care of people with spinal cord injuries, we also treat a large number of patients without spinal cord injuries. This relates primarily to pain medicine, spine- and spinal cord surgery and respiratory medicine.

In fact, the Swiss Paraplegic Foundation, our umbrella organization, has been an unbelievable success story, operating a network of services to benefit people with spinal cord injury.

Our Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Dr. Sc. Techn. (scientiae technicarum) Daniel Joggi, knows what it’s like to become totally dependent as he has been in a wheelchair for the past four decades.

Dr. Joggi tells his story: “I have been a wheelchair user ever since I had a skiing accident 39 years ago. I know what it is like to become totally dependent from one second to the next. How doggedly you have to battle to recover as much of your mobility as possible and, more especially, to be able to live a self-determined life again after a long process of resilience. The inner resolve it takes to plot a new course in life, to have relationships with others from a different perspective and to acquire new job skills. Therefore, I am eternally grateful along with all the other people in Switzerland with paraplegia and tetraplegia for the help, support and great solidarity that allow the Foundation to deliver all the services which are so immensely valuable to us.”

At the Swiss Paraplegic Centre, a 24-hour emergency department is staffed to handle any emergency. Please provide your thoughts on this critical component of diagnosis and care for newly diagnosed patients.

Dr. Gmünder: Yes, our Centre is recognized by the Swiss Union of Surgical Societies as a specialist clinic for first-aid treatment of paraplegics.

Statistics and experience clearly show that in 80 out of 100 cases, the damage to the spine and the spinal cord is not definite immediately after an accident. In the first six hours, there are real chances to mitigate or even avoid an imminent cross-paralysis. After that it is usually too late.

In addition to transferring an individual directly to the SPC, appropriate acute care is another important criterion for the success of the individual affected by spinal cord issues. That means that individuals are in the right place for the subsequent, comprehensive rehabilitation.

The benefits for our patients are:

  • Emergency service around the clock by specialists trained to minimize damage to the spinal cord and spine;
  • Admission and treatment of all patients with paraplegia from all over Switzerland;
  • Specific knowledge and practical experience in comprehensive rehabilitation of paraplegics;
  • Comprehensive range of medical and therapeutic services under one roof;
  • Modern equipment for precise, careful diagnostics and operations;
  • Consultancy and network for external experts in areas not covered by the SPC;
  • Interdisciplinary work in well-established teams; and
  • Central location proximity and quick access from all parts of the country.

What is your connection to the Swiss Paraplegic Research and its mission of getting “strategy into research” and “research into practice?”

Dr. Gmünder: The Swiss Paraplegic Research (SPR), connected to the Swiss Paraplegic Centre, is part of the Swiss Paraplegic Foundation (SPF) and is an integral part of the Nottwil campus.

It is the mission of Swiss Paraplegic Research to sustainably improve the situation of people with paraplegia or tetraplegia through clinical and interdisciplinary research in the long-term. The areas that are aimed to be improved are functioning, social integration, equality of opportunity, health, self-determination and quality of life.

Our Swiss Paraplegic Research has been supported by the Federal Government of Switzerland and by the Canton of Lucerne for eight years as a non-university research institution. We are proud of this accomplishment.

Our main research domains are in the areas of aging, neuro-rehabilitation, musculo-skeletal health, preserving and improving function of upper limbs, pain, pressure sores, respiration, urology and orthopedics.

The goal of Swiss Paraplegic Research is to promote the study of health from a holistic point of view, by focusing on the ‘lived experience’ of persons with health conditions and their interaction with society. We are, therefore, establishing a research network for rehabilitation research from a comprehensive perspective on a national and international level. This network will make it possible to practically apply the latest research findings to provide the best possible care and reintegration for people with paraplegia or tetraplegia.

This year, we received the approval of 18 new research projects and we had a total of 36 studies in progress under review, undertaken by and with the involvement of the Clinical Trial Unit (CTU), the department for clinical research at the Centre. For example, the successful implementation of a multi-center study on the use of walking robots (exoskeleton) merits special mention. Research was carried out in that study into the wide range of effects of maintaining movement for people with spinal cord injury.

The CTU will continue to carry out research in Rehabilitation Engineering in a cooperation with Burgdorf University of Applied Science and the research group headed by Professor Kenneth Hunt. The “Life and Care” symposium on breathing and respiration organized by the CTU provided a platform for an international knowledge exchange with national and international experts. This is crucial for further scientific development in respiratory medicine. In 2015, the CTU also launched the CTU Central Switzerland, in association with Lucerne Cantonal Hospital and the University of Lucerne. It supports clinics which are actively engaged in research with specific services, thereby enhancing Switzerland’s standing as a center of research.

How does the Swiss Paraplegic Foundation support your vision?

Dr. Gmünder: The Swiss Paraplegic Group includes the Swiss Paraplegic Foundation, which was established in 1975, two partner organizations — the Benefactors’ Association and the Swiss Paraplegics Association, and six companies owned by the Foundation. Those six companies are the Swiss Paraplegic Centre, the Swiss Paraplegic Research, Orthotec AG, ParaHelp AG, Sirmed Swiss Institute of Emergency Medicine AG, Seminarhotel Sempachersee AG.

The Swiss Paraplegic Foundation, founded by Dr. Med. Guido A. Zäch in 1975, is a solidarity network for people with spinal cord injuries, unrivaled anywhere in the world. Its work is based on the vision of medical care and comprehensive rehabilitation for people with paraplegia and tetraplegia, with a view towards enabling them to lead their lives with self-determination and with as much independence as possible, supported by the latest advances in science and technology.

The unique network of services of the Foundation is a strategic mix of Solidarity, Research, Medicine and Integration and Lifelong Assistance. Let me elaborate on these services.

  • Solidarity
    • The Foundation provides a comprehensive range of services for every area of a person’s life who has a spinal cord injury. The Nottwil campus serves to be a center of excellence for integration, assistance and lifelong learning for our patients.
    • The Foundation ensures that its benefactors and donors are aware of our list of services and can support us longer term.
    • The Foundation establishes a national and international network that will guarantee better basic conditions for people with spinal cord injury.
    • The Foundation encourages training of specialized personnel in the field of spinal cord injury.
  • Research
    • The Foundation contributes to the sustainable improvement of health, social integration, equal opportunities and self-determination of people with spinal cord injury by carrying out rehabilitation research.
    • The Foundation works closely with the World Health Organization (WHO) and encourages exchanges with universities and institutions locally and globally for the latest scientific findings and conducts academic training at the University of Lucerne.
    • The Foundation develops high-quality care standards for its patients.
  • Medicine
    • The Foundation offers all medical services needed for professional acute care and rehabilitation of people with spinal cord injury and encourages patients to become involved in their therapy and to take responsibility for their lives.
    • The Foundation strengthens relationships with partners in specific disciplines and local institutions to benefit people with spinal cord injury.
    • The Foundation is a member of committees with political influence to ensure that its patients receive highly specialized medical care.
  • Integration and Lifelong Assistance
    • The Foundation establishes a network throughout Switzerland to help people with spinal cord injury.
    • The Foundation offers comprehensive services to meet people’s needs to improve their integration into society.
    • The Foundation encourages people with spinal cord injury to lead an independent life and educate family and friends so they can provide the necessary support.

Moreover, in cases of hardship, the Foundation makes contributions towards the cost of walking aids, equipment and amenities for people with paraplegia and tetraplegia. It also takes on uncovered hospital and care costs.

 Current market research shows that the Swiss Paraplegic Foundation ranks among the three most highly rated aid organizations in Switzerland. Can you please elaborate on why?

Dr. Gmünder: That is true. The Foundation is highly rated in terms of goodwill, innovation, competence and effectiveness. In addition, it is regarded as undoubtedly the most competent organization representing people with disabilities in Switzerland, according to several market research surveys.

So that we can continue to meet the demand for our patients, families and other visitors, plans are under way to upgrade our clinic and hotel on our premises.

We generally have interest from visitors to visit our Centre. Our guided tours and events enabled the general public to see how the foundation concept is put into practice, day in, day out. In Nottwil, 160 guides provided more than 11,000 visitors with a glimpse into the operations at our specialist clinic.

Additionally, we organized more than 5,000 scientific meetings attended by more than 170,000 people in 2015. And our wheelchair athletes take part in two major competitions, the IPC Athletics Grand Prix and the UCI Para-cycling World Championships, at our Nottwil site. It is our hope to continue to motivate individuals with spinal cord injuries to be involved in healthy exercise.

Since you became Hospital Director, how have you changed the way that you deliver health care or interact with patients?

Dr. Gmünder: It is important to me that the patients and their needs are the focus of our efforts. As such, one of my main tasks is to align our processes with our patients.

Here are some examples:

We started construction with a newly expanded Intensive Care Medicine, Pain Medicine and Surgical Medicine department last year to provide patients with an expanded variety of cross-linked treatments.

Certified as a nationwide trauma center, our Swiss Spinal Column and Spinal Cord Centre has become increasingly recognized throughout the country with large numbers of non-paralyzed patients, who have severe spinal cord injury, being referred to our facility. It is under the medical leadership of the Head of Department Dr. Med. Martin Baur, M.D. This highly specialized acute care facility recently received certification as a specialist center for traumatology within the Central Swiss Trauma Network.

We believe in developing the next generation of professionals and our Department of Anesthesia was recognized as a center of further training; the first two junior doctors have been appointed and postgraduate courses in anesthesia nursing are already available.

Our Swiss Weaning Centre, where individuals learn to breathe without a machine, has brought specialists from Intensive Care Medicine, Speech Therapy, RespiCare and Spinal Cord Medicine even closer together in a new process structure for respiratory medicine. At the same time, the Swiss Weaning Centre reported increased referrals from university hospitals and private clinics, as well as numerous successes with patients who had proved to be difficult to wean from respiratory equipment.

Our Centre for Pain Medicine, one of the largest pain facilities in the country, reported a further increase in inpatient treatments. Epiduroscopy, which was introduced in 2014, has proved to be a success. It is a percutaneous, minimally invasive procedure which is used in the diagnosis and treatment of pain syndromes near the spinal cord.

We reached a milestone in tetra hand surgery. The team of our doctors has been consulting at two other spinal cord injury centers and have used these occasions to show doctors around the country what possibilities there are for improved hand and grip functions, leading to an enhanced quality of life.

In what ways do you rehabilitate the whole patient? Why is this important early on in treatment?

Dr. Gmünder: In accordance with our vision, we are not just focusing on physical rehabilitation but on the entire person in their social environment (leisure, work, housing, mobility). Due to our broad organizational structure, we have many resources at our disposal. The rate of reintegration for people who did their primary rehabilitation at the Swiss Paraplegic Centre is almost 65 percent – one of the highest in the world.

Because we work to address diagnosis, treatment and management of traumatic spinal cord injuries with our patients, we take great care in working with patients on their medical disabilities, physical disabilities, psychological disabilities, vocational disabilities, social aspects and any health complications. That means that we not only treat patient’s medically, but also we treat them through therapy and complementary medicine, such as art therapy, sports and water therapy and homeopathic medicine.

At the SPC, we nurture a culture which is characterized by common values and shared objectives, namely commitment, leadership, a humane approach, cooperation and openness and fairness in our dealing with one another and with our patients.

As you follow patients throughout their rehabilitation and treatment, what are you most proud of at the Centre? 

Dr. Gmünder: Research has shown that early referral of a patient with a traumatic spinal injury lessens the complications, shortens the length of time in the hospital and is, therefore, more cost-effective.

We are confronted by individuals every day whose abilities have been limited by disease, trauma, congenital disorders or pain – and we are focused on enabling them to achieve their maximum functional abilities. Our patients have a better outcome and quality of life, patient-focused treatment, ongoing case management, and lifelong care.

It’s important to emphasize that our comprehensive rehabilitation of individuals with spinal cord injuries begins on the first day after the accident or trauma. On one hand, the medical treatments with paraplegia or tetraplegia are performed by a multidisciplinary medical team. And on the other hand, it is our goal to give those individuals their personality and life structure as quickly – and as best – as possible. An individual’s medical condition affects their psychological, physical and social aspects of life.

We focus on individualized treatment for the greatest possible independence for our patients. When patients are satisfied with our work and its results, they can resume a self-determined life. That is our greatest joy.

Hans Peter Gmuender

Image SOURCE: Photograph of Hospital Director Hans Peter Gmünder, M.D., courtesy of Swiss Paraplegic Centre, Nottwil, Switzerland.

Hans Peter Gmünder, M.D.
Hospital Director

Hans Peter Gmünder, M.D., assumed the role of Hospital Director of the Swiss Paraplegic Centre in 2011.  He is a German-Belgian double citizen.

Previously, Dr. Gmünder was Chief Physician and Medical Director of the Rehaklinik Bellikon, a rehabilitation and specialist clinic for traumatic acute rehabilitation, sports medicine, professional integration and medical expertise for 10 years in the canton of Aargau, Switzerland. He began his career at the Swiss Paraplegic Centre in the 1990s as Assistant and Senior Physician, and later as Chief Physician and Deputy Chief Physician.

He completed a B.S. degree in Business Administration at SRH FernHochschule Riedlingen in 2010 and an M.D. degree at Freie Universität Berlin in 1987.

He is married to Sabeth and is the father of two children.

 

Editor’s note:

We would like to thank Claudia Merkel, head of public relations, Swiss Paraplegic Centre,  for the help and support she provided during this interview.

 

REFERENCE/SOURCE

The Swiss Paraplegic Centre (http:// www.paraplegie.ch), Nottwil, Switzerland.

Choosing the right rehabilitation facility is one of the most important decisions a survivor of a brain or spinal cord injury will make as the type and quality of care will have a significant impact on the patient’s long-term outcome. The top 10 rehabilitation centers in the United States are (http://www.brainandspinalcord.org/2016/04/15/top-ten-rehabilitation-hospitals-usa/):

  1. Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago
  2. TIRR Memorial Hermann
  3. Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation
  4. University of Washington Medical Center
  5. Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital
  6. Mayo Clinic
  7. Craig Hospital
  8. Shepard Center
  9. Rusk Rehabilitation at NYU Langone Medical Center
  10. Moss Rehab

The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (https://www.sralab.org/new-ric), located in Chicago, Illinois, has been ranked as the number one rehabilitation hospital in the United States for the past 24 years by U.S. News and World Report. It is a 182-bed research facility that focuses solely on rehabilitation in many areas, including spinal cord, brain, nerve, muscle and bone, cancer and pediatric. For example, the rehabilitation course for patients with spinal cord injury requires precise medical and nursing expertise, respiratory and pulmonary care and sophisticated diagnostic and therapeutic equipment. For several years, the hospital has dedicated investments in talent, space and equipment that attract a high volume of patients with challenging conditions. The high volume, diversity of condition and greater complexity enables them to expand their experience in helping patients recover from spinal cord injury. Primary goals for patients include the emergence of meaningful motor function, sensation, coordination and endurance, resolution of respiratory and vascular instability, and overall continued medical recovery from the injury or disease.

The Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital Boston (http://spauldingrehab.org/about/facts-statistics) is ranked number five in the country by U.S. News and World Report and number one in New England.  As a unique center of treatment excellence and a leading physical medicine and rehabilitation research institution, Spaulding Boston is comprised of major departments in all areas of medicine requiring rehabilitation. They are a nationally recognized leader in innovation, research and education.  The facility also has been the source of significant treatment innovations with dramatic implications for a range of conditions, including amputation and limb deficiencies, brain injury, cardiac rehabilitation, pulmonary rehabilitation and spinal cord injuries, to name a few. http://spauldingrehab.org/conditions-and-treatments/list.

Whether individuals are adjusting to a life-altering illness or recovering from a back injury, they will find the care they need within the Spaulding Rehabilitation Network.  Rehabilitation specialists have the training, experience, resources and dedication to help individuals:

  • Regain function after a devastating illness or injury,
  • Develop skills to be active and independent when living with chronic illness and/or disability,
  • Recover from surgery, work and sports injuries, and
  • Grow to the fullest physical, emotional, cognitive and social potential. http://spauldingrehab.org/conditions-and-treatments/

The ACGME accredited Harvard Medical School/ Spaulding/ VA Boston Fellowship Program in  Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Medicine is a 12-month training program that offers advanced clinical training in SCI, a strong didactic component, and opportunities for research with protected elective time.  The curriculum is designed to provide exposure to the full spectrum of SCI care and includes rotations at VA Boston, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, and Brigham & Woman’s Hospital. Requirements include prior completion of an approved residency program in a specialty such as physical medicine and rehabilitation, neurology, internal medicine, family practice, surgery, or other specialties relevant to spinal cord injury.  http://spauldingrehab.org/education-and-training/spinal-cord-fellowship.

Specifically, the Spaulding Rehabilitation Network is at the forefront of innovative treatment for major disabling conditions, including spinal cord injury (SCI), traumatic brain injury (TBI), other traumatic injuries, stroke, and neuromuscular disorders such as multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, and Parkinson’s disease. At Spaulding, the treatment goals go far beyond immediate rehabilitation to address long-term health and function, as well as giving patients encouragement and hope as they return to their lives in the community.

The hub of their spinal cord injury program is the Spaulding-Harvard Spinal Cord Injury Model Systems (SCIMS) Rehabilitation Program, led by experts at Spaulding Boston, a Center of Excellence in spinal cord injury rehabilitation. With the guidance of their  physicians and other rehabilitation specialists and access to some of the most advanced technologies available today, their patients have the resources to strive for their highest level of neurorecovery – and to develop successful, enriching strategies for independent living.

When potentially life-altering spinal cord injury occurs, the Spaulding Rehabilitation Network clinicians are dedicated to pioneering improved therapies that can make all the difference to a patient’s immediate and long-term recovery. Their goal is to support a patient’s return to an active, productive and fulfilling life.

Whether the spinal cord injury is due to traumatic injury or illness, their team of experts will develop a treatment plan in collaboration with the patient and family. Depending on the severity of the injury, their teams work on improving function in: walking, balance and mobility; speech, swallowing and breathing; thinking (cognition), behavior and safety; dressing, bathing and other activities of daily living; incontinence, bowel and bladder function.

Their commitment is to offer a full spectrum of rehabilitation services for adults and children with spinal cord injury:

  • Intensive, hospital-level rehabilitation with goal-directed therapy 3 – 5 hours a day, at least 5 days a week for inpatients.
  • Long-term care and rehabilitation for patients with complicating conditions.
  • Cutting-edge spinal cord injury technologies and therapeutic techniques.
  • Emphasis on family participation throughout the course of care. with an inpatient comprehensive training and education series.
  • Seamless transition to multi-disciplinary outpatient rehabilitation.
  • Coordination of care with Spaulding’s outpatient centers.
  • Vocational training, participation in research, support groups.

Spaulding Rehabilitation Network is the official teaching partner of the Harvard Medical School Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R). The Spaulding network’s facilities are members of Partners HealthCare, founded by Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. The knowledge and expertise of this entire healthcare system is available to patients and caregivers. Their continuum of superb healthcare ensures that patients will find the care they need throughout their journey and the strength they need to live their life to the fullest.

Other related articles 

Retrieved from http://www.paraplegie.ch/files/pdf4/Imagebroschuere_SPZ_A4_e.pdf

Retrieved from http://www.paraplegie.ch/files/pdf6/SPS_Jahresbericht_2015_en_Aug.16.pdf

Retrieved from http://www.fibre2fashion.com/news/textile-news/washable-heartbeat-sensor-is-ideal-for-textiles-204723-newsdetails.htm

Retrieved from https://moneymorning.com/investing/update-ekso-bionics-make-or-break-moment/

Retrieved from http://www.nationalgeographic.com.au/people/after-an-accident-left-him-paralyzed-traveling-set-him-free.aspx

Other related articles were published in this Open Access Online Scientific Journal include the following:

2016

Use of Sensors, Data and Devices to improve Health, San Francisco, April 5-6, 2016: Wearable Tech + Digital Health Conferences

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2016/01/25/use-of-sensors-data-and-devices-to-improve-health-san-francisco-april-5-6-2016-wearable-tech-digital-health-conferences/

2015

New Spinal Cord Repair Strategy using 3D Cell Growth

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2015/10/31/new-spinal-cord-repair-strategy-using-3d-cell-growth/

Unsupervised, Mobile and Wireless Brain–Computer Interfaces on the Horizon

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2015/11/21/unsupervised-mobile-and-wireless-brain-computer-interfaces-on-the-horizon/

Diffuse optics detects spinal cord ischemia – Optics.org

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2015/05/07/diffuse-optics-detects-spinal-cord-ischemia-optics-org/

Essential for Rehabilitation

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2015/12/03/essential-for-rehabilitation/

Read Full Post »


Almudena’s Story:  A Life of Hope, Rejuvenation and Strength

Author: Gail S. Thornton, M.A.

Co-Editor: The VOICES of Patients, HealthCare Providers, Caregivers and Families: Personal Experience with Critical Care and Invasive Medical Procedures

Patient had ovarian clear cell adenocarcinomas (OCCAs) and underwent a complete hysterectomy at age 52. Interview was conducted 15 months’ post-surgery. Earlier in life, patient had thyroid cancer and removal of her thyroid gland and all the lymph nodes in her neck.

 

Almudena Seeder-Alonso, originally from Madrid, Spain, and now living in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, with her Dutch husband, René, is the eternal optimist, embracing life, reinventing herself, and looking for opportunity in every moment. She is an influential blogger of international relations issues, a career professional in human resources management in both corporate and consulting businesses in Legal, Accounting and Technology, and a lawyer and political scientist with an advanced degree in international relations who is also pursuing a Ph.D. in international relations and diplomacy. And she speaks four languages fluently – Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese and English.

Her story is one of hope, rejuvenation and strength that defines her effervescent personality. One year ago, a routine gynecology exam changed her outlook and perspective on life. She would have never thought that her diagnosis would be ovarian carcinoma of the clear cell, the most aggressive form of cancer.

 

Image SOURCE: Photographs courtesy of Almudena Seeder-Alonso. Top Left: Almudena’s parents, María and Angel, and sister, Cristina, and her husband. Top Right: Almudena during chemotherapy last summer (2015). Middle: Almudena attending a wedding in Asturias (northwest Spain – May 2016), Almudena and René in Comporta, Portugal (Summer 2014) and in New York (April 2014). Below left: Almudena in New York (April 2014). Below Right: Almudena’s sisters, María and Cristina with nephew, Jaime (May 2016). 

A Small Cyst Turns Into Diagnosis of Ovarian Cancer

In early 2015, Almudena visited her gynecologist in Amsterdam for a regular, yearly appointment.

“I was feeling fine. I had no physical complaints, except for my monthly periods which were heavy. I didn’t think much about it. During my examination, my doctor told me that she found a small cyst on my right ovary and we would just observe it to make sure it was not growing.”

Almudena went back to her gynecologist at the OLVG (Onze Lieve Vrouw Gasthuis https://www.olvg.nl/) in Amsterdam twice over the next month to monitor the cyst, only to find that the cyst was growing slightly. Her gynecologist recommended blood tests, an ultrasound, and a specimen of the cyst to be removed through a laparoscopy, a procedure requiring small incisions made below the navel using specialized tools.

“The pathology report said that the cyst was an aggressive cancer, called ovarian carcinoma of the clear cell. I remember sitting in my doctor’s office once she told me the results of the test, and I got very quiet. I could not believe that this was happening to me. While I was meeting with the doctor, I called my husband to let the doctor inform him about the situation. I was listening to this conversation but from far away. He immediately left his meeting with his client (he is one of two founding partners of SeederdeBoer, a Dutch Consulting & Technology firm), to come home. I left the doctor’s office, went home and cried in my husband’s arms.”

Almudena then called her parents, María and Angel, and her two sisters, María and Cristina who live in Madrid, to tell them the news.

“My Mother was very emotional when she heard about my diagnosis. My Father, who is a quiet man by nature, asked me, ‘How could this be happening to you again?’ I did not have an answer for him.”

Almudena’s father was referring to his daughter’s diagnosis of thyroid cancer in her late 20s.

Diagnosis of Thyroid Cancer As A Young Woman

When Almudena was 27 years old, she was diagnosed with follicular thyroid cancer, a slow-growing, highly treatable type of cancer that forms in follicular cells in the thyroid gland. After a 12-hour surgery to remove the gland through a procedure called a full thyroidectomy, she also needed radiation therapy. Many years later, she is feeling fine and continues to be on thyroid medication for the rest of her life.

“I was not aware at that young age of the scope of the diagnosis, but my life really changed. I was kind of a party animal at the end of the 1980s, and I did not have any amount of energy for that anymore. I needed several months to get back into shape as the scar from the surgery was a large one on the right side of my neck. I could not use my right arm and hand properly for months, even writing was complicated. The worst news came later when I could not get pregnant given the situation that many of my eggs were gone because of radiation. At that moment, egg freezing technology was not as advanced as it is today; it was not normal to freeze eggs for a later time. That was really painful, as I could not become a mother, even after four in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycles.”

According to the National Cancer Institute’s web site, thyroid cancer is a disease in which malignant cancer cells form in the tissues of the thyroid gland. The thyroid is a gland at the base of the throat near the trachea (windpipe). It is shaped like a butterfly, with a right lobe and a left lobe. The isthmus, a thin piece of tissue, connects the two lobes. A healthy thyroid is a little larger than a quarter coin. It usually cannot be felt through the skin. The thyroid uses iodine, a mineral found in some foods and in iodized salt, to help make several hormones. Thyroid hormones control heart rate, body temperature, and how quickly food is changed into energy (metabolism) as well as, it controls the amount of calcium in the blood.  http://www.cancer.gov/types/thyroid/patient/thyroid-treatment-pdq

Ovarian Cancer Diagnosis Continues

Almudena then spoke with her physicians in Madrid, as that is where she grew up, to get a second opinion about her ovarian carcinoma diagnosis. The physicians knew her history well and they told her that they did not believe that the follicular thyroid cancer was directly related to the ovarian cancer.

“My local gynecologist in Amsterdam then referred me to a specialist, Dr. J. van der Velden, a gynecologist/oncologist at the Amsterdam Medisch Centrum (AMC), http://www.cgoa.nl/page/view/name/34-wie-we-zijn, one of the top university hospitals in The Netherlands for this surgery and treatment. My husband, René, and I met with Dr. van der Velden, and he told us that my cancer was a fast-spreading condition and I needed to have it removed immediately. He answered our questions, calmed my fears and said he would do everything to help me.

“I have an open attitude towards people so it was easy to create a good connection with the doctors and medical personnel, which I consider very fundamental in such a process. I talked to them about my concerns or doubts and shared my worries about the process that I was going through. I have to say that all of them were wonderful in every aspect!”

Dr. van der Velden explained to Almudena that as clear cell is an aggressive form of ovarian cancer, it would need to be treated that way. One month later, Almudena underwent a procedure called open surgery, rather than laparoscopic surgery, requiring an incision large enough for the doctor to see the cyst and surrounding tissue.

“My incision from the surgery is a constant reminder of the struggle I went through. The cyst, which was 3cm, was a solid mass on my right ovary. It had adhered itself to the ovary and had to be broken to be removed, so some cells spilled out into my reproductive organs, namely, in my uterus and fallopian tubes. During this surgery, which was a complete hysterectomy, the doctor took additional tissue samples of my reproductive organs to be analyzed by pathology. Weeks later, he found no other metastases or extra cancer cells.”

http://www.mountsinai.org/patient-care/health-library/treatments-and-procedures/ovarian-cyst-removal-open-surgery

https://www.amc.nl/web/Het-AMC/Organisatie/Academisch-Medisch-Centrum.htm

The Process of Healing Begins

One month later, Almudena’s body was still recovering from the operation. Now, she had to start chemotherapy back at the OLVG.

“The doctor, Dr. W. Terpstra, hematologist/oncologist instructed me that I would be going through six full cycles of chemotherapy, which means full doses of carboplatin & paclitaxel every 21 days. At first, I felt reasonably good, then as each week progressed, I became more and more tired, nauseous, and just feeling terrible. I was not sleeping well and even lost the sensation of my fingers and toes as chemo attacks the nerves, too. Then, I started losing my eyelashes and hair so I shaved my long, flowing hair and wore a scarf wrapped around my head.”

Almudena would report to the hospital for her weekly chemotherapy session, starting at 9am and leaving at 6pm. The medical team would put her in a room with a full-size bed so she can relax during the infusion. Her husband, two sisters and some close friends would take turns accompanying her during this time, as she had a nurturing and caring support network.

“I could not have gone through this condition without my family and friends. It tests your relationships and shows you who your friends really are.”

The chemotherapy affected Almudena’s red blood cell count halfway through the process and she felt weak and tired.

“Anemia is normal during this time, but always being tired made me concentrate and focus on things less. I would watch a movie or read a book through the chemo session, and then I would fall asleep quickly.”

After Almudena finished the complete cycle of chemotherapy infusions, she had a follow-up appointment with her doctor, which included blood work, CT scan, and other diagnostic tests.

“My doctor said the tests results were very good. Now, I see him every three months for a routine visit. That was such a wonderful report to hear.

“During this process I learned to love myself, and pampered myself and my body. I learned to improve in terms of beauty, even in the worst circumstances. I wanted to feel beautiful and attractive for myself and for my close family. After three chemo cycles, I started even to think about how my new hair style would be in the moment that I finished chemo.”

Ovarian Carcinoma Pathophysiology Facts

According to published studies, ovarian clear cell adenocarcinomas (OCCAs) account for less than 5 percent of all ovarian malignancies, and 3.7–12.1 percent of all epithelial ovarian carcinomas. By contrast, early‐stage clear cell ovarian cancer carries a relatively good prognosis. When compared with their serous counterparts, a greater proportion of OCCA tumors present as early‐stage (I–II) tumors, are often associated with a large pelvic mass, which may account for their earlier diagnosis, and rarely occur bilaterally. Very little is known about the pathobiology of OCCA. Between 5 percent and 10 percent of ovarian cancers are associated with endometriotic lesions in which there is a predominance of clear and endometrioid cell subtypes, suggesting that both tumor types may arise in endometriosis. http://www.cancer.gov/types/ovarian/hp/ovarian-epithelial-treatment-pdq

The National Cancer Institute’s web site offers these statistics. In most families affected with the breast and ovarian cancer syndrome or site-specific ovarian cancer, genetic linkage has been found to the BRCA1 locus on chromosome 17q21. BRCA2, also responsible for some instances of inherited ovarian and breast cancer, has been mapped by genetic linkage to chromosome 13q12. The lifetime risk for developing ovarian cancer in patients harboring germline mutations in BRCA1 is substantially increased over that of the general population. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2001101/

Words Of Wisdom

“Throughout this journey, I found myself again in some way and found my strength as well. When it seemed I could not stand it anymore, either physically and mentally, I realized that I could.

“At the beginning of my diagnosis, I asked myself, ‘Why me?’, and I then changed it to, ‘Why not me?’ I discovered that I have the same opportunities as anyone who becomes ill. The important perspective to have is not whining and dwelling on my bad luck. The important thing is to heal, survive, and recover my life, which is very good!

“I learned the real value and importance of things: to differentiate and give real meaning and value to the care and support of my husband, René, who was always there for me, and my parents and sisters, who came to Amsterdam very often during the process. I also made sure that René was well-supported and accompanied by my family.  René was feeling terrible for me, but he never showed it — and I learned this fact after I was starting to be back on track.”

Almudena’s Life Today

“At a significant moment in my life during my cancer diagnosis and after a long professional life in many corporate and consulting business in several countries, I decided to re-invent myself and start a new career, this time, in the battle of the opinions. I always liked foreign affairs and diplomacy, so why not share my thoughts and write about current international issues.”

That’s when Almudena started a blog to discuss relevant international political issues with her background specialization in International Relations, International Politics, International Law and Governance.

“I consider myself politically liberal and have been influenced by J.S. Mill and A. Tocqueville’s tradition of thought, as well as their ethical conception of the defense of freedom. This is what I try to capture in my political approach and in this blog. http://almudenas.website/index.php/about-me/

“Regarding my profession, I have already reinvented myself, leaving the corporate life with all that is included regarding life’s standards, and do what really makes me happy, which I´m doing right now. It seems after all, looking back with perspective, I did the right thing.

“I am grateful for my life and never take anything for granted. I am the happiest when I am doing things that please me or give me the utmost satisfaction. I now have balance in my personal and professional life, something that I’ve never had before. My husband, René, likes it too and I have his full support.”

She recently ‘liked’ this saying on LinkedIn, the professional network site, ‘I never lose. I either win or learn,’ which was attributed to Nelson Mandela, the deceased South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, politician and philanthropist.

Almudena’s life continues on a path of balance, richness and thankfulness for the person she is and the many blessings she continues to have along the way.

Editor’s note:

We would like to thank Gabriela Contreras, a global communications consultant and patient advocate, for the tremendous help and support she provided in locating and scheduling time to talk with Almudena Seeder-Alonso.

Almudena Seeder-Alonso provided her permission to publish this interview on August 10, 2016.

REFERENCES/SOURCES

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/31/health/harnessing-the-immune-system-to-fight-cancer.html?_r=0

http://www.sharecancersupport.org/share-new/support/stories/linda_clear_cell_ovarian_cancer/

http://www.cancer.gov/types/thyroid/patient/thyroid-treatment-pdq

http://almudenas.website/index.php/about-me/

http://www.cancer.gov/types/ovarian/hp/ovarian-epithelial-treatment-pdq

http://www.cgoa.nl/page/view/name/34-wie-we-zijn

http://www.mountsinai.org/patient-care/health-library/treatments-and-procedures/ovarian-cyst-removal-open-surgery

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2001101/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2001101/

Other related articles on the link between Ovarian Cancer and Thyroid Cancer:

https://www.whatnext.com/questions/is-there-a-link-between-ovarian-and-thyroid-cancer

Other related articles/information:

https://www.olvg.nl/

https://www.amc.nl/web/Het-AMC/Organisatie/Academisch-Medisch-Centrum.htm

 

Other related articles on Ovarian Cancer and Thyroid Cancer were published in this Open Access Online Scientific Journal include the following: 

Ovarian Cancer (N = 285)

2015

A Curated History of the Science Behind the Ovarian Cancer β-Blocker Trial

Model mimicking clinical profile of patients with ovarian cancer @ Yale School of Medicine

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2015/09/26/model-mimicking-clinical-profile-of-patients-with-ovarian-cancer-yale-school-of-medicine/

2014

Preclinical study identifies ‘master’ proto-oncogene that regulates stress-induced ovarian cancer metastasis | MD Anderson Cancer Center

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2014/08/15/preclinical-study-identifies-master-proto-oncogene-that-regulates-stress-induced-ovarian-cancer-metastasis-md-anderson-cancer-center/

Good and Bad News Reported for Ovarian Cancer Therapy

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2014/07/01/good-and-bad-news-reported-for-ovarian-cancer-therapy-2/

Efficacy of Ovariectomy in Presence of BRCA1 vs BRCA2 and the Risk for Ovarian Cancer

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2014/02/25/efficacy-of-ovariectomy-in-presence-of-brca1-vs-brca2-and-the-risk-for-ovarian-cancer/

 

And 
 
Thyroid Cancer (N = 124)
2015
Experience with Thyroid Cancer

 

2012

Thyroid Cancer: The Evolution of Treatment Options

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2012/08/19/thyroid-cancer-the-evolution-of-treatment-options/

Read Full Post »


A New Standard in Health Care – Farrer Park Hospital, Singapore’s First Fully Integrated Healthcare/Hospitality Complex

Author: Gail S. Thornton, M.A.

Co-Editor: The VOICES of Patients, HealthCare Providers, Caregivers and Families: Personal Experience with Critical Care and Invasive Medical Procedures

Farrer Park Hospital, Singapore’s newest private healthcare service provider, headed by newly appointed Chief Executive Officer Timothy Low, M.D., is a private, acute tertiary institution that represents an innovation in hospital administration, incorporating the latest technology to support better decision making for better patient outcomes and shorter hospital stays along with the beauty of nature and art to enhance the patient experience. The hospital, opened in March 2016, is sited within Singapore’s first, fully integrated healthcare and hospitality complex, called Connexion, which is Asia’s first, integrated lifestyle hub for healthcare and wellness. Connexion houses the 220-bed Farrer Park Hospital with its more than 300-accredited specialists and 18 operating rooms, a 10-floor specialist Medical Center, along with a five-star hotel and spa. In 2016, Farrer Park Hospital was awarded best new hospital of the year in Asia Pacific by Global Health and Travel Awards.

Farrer Park Hospital at Connexion at night

Image SOURCE: Photograph courtesy of Farrer Park Hospital, Singapore. An integrated healthcare and hospitality complex, called Connexion, Asia’s first, integrated lifestyle hub for healthcare and wellness, which includes Farrer Park Hospital.  

The hospital is also a teaching site for undergraduate medical training, providing enhanced medical care, service quality and professional integrity and value. Supported by approximately 600 hospital staff, specialists at Farrer Park Hospital provide a range of services, such as cardiology, oncology, orthopedic surgery, gastroenterology and ophthalmology. A 24-hour emergency department provides attention for acute illnesses and the hospital has the most modern facilities for diagnostic imaging, nuclear medicine, radiotherapy and clinical laboratories.

Image SOURCE: Photographs courtesy of Farrer Park Hospital, Singapore. Left is a deluxe suite, top right is Farrer Park Hospital lobby, bottom right is Farrer Park Hospital building.

 

Medical tourism — the process of traveling outside your country of residence to receive medical care — represents a worldwide, multi-billion-dollar business that is expected to grow considerably in the next decade. Interestingly, Singapore’s medical tourism market is projected to grow by 8.3 percent annually and reach revenue of USD $1.36 billion a year by 2018.

My first question is: Why has Singapore emerged in the past few years as an international healthcare and research hub?

Dr. Low:  With Singapore’s excellent patient services and its dedication to research and wellness, the country continues to remain as the top destination for those seeking medical care. By providing convenience and trust in our medical sector, there is no doubt that it will continue to expand and grow. Our dedication is towards the patient, cutting-edge technology and personalized care. This makes Singapore a multi-faceted medical hub and a center of excellence. Patient can receive excellent standard of medical treatment, comparable to the Europe and the USA.

Currently, we are attracting foreign patients who expect five- or six-star hotel service, because we’re a private hospital. That’s why I’m strict about appearances. We have to look as groomed, and we need to be as personable, as those in hospitality and the airlines.

Please describe the concept behind Farrer Park Hospital as Singapore’s first, fully integrated healthcare and hospitality complex.

Dr. Low: The Farrer Park Hospital was designed and built to be a hospital of the future, combining innovation in medical care and medical education. The hospital was initially created by medical specialists to respond to the growing challenges of healthcare in Singapore and, more broadly, throughout the Asia Pacific region. We have ‘reimagined’ private healthcare in order to enhance medical care, service quality, professional integrity and value.

We are leading the way in healthcare innovation as we are a premier institution for medical care and education that is based upon three important tenets for the patient — comfort, fairness and value. In fact, our top accredited medical staff, along with state-of-the-art equipment and technology, contributes to increased efficiency, reduced cost, and most, importantly improved patient outcomes.

As an innovation in hospital administration, Farrer Park Hospital embraces technology and improves medical care through its state-of-the-art equipment that facilities telemedicine consulting services across the world. To create a conducive environment for medical professionals, the hospital’s 18 operating rooms are linked via fiber-optic connections to various locations through the Connexion complex, including the hospitals’ education center and lecture hall, teaching clinics and tutorial rooms as well as the hotel’s function rooms. In addition to being equipped with the latest in useful medical technology, the hospital has state-of-the-art information technology which enables seamless and rapid flow of information between the admission services, inpatient areas, operating theaters, diagnostic and therapeutic centers, clinical laboratories and medical clinics. We also are the country’s first private hospital to become a teaching site, with the medical students from Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine at Nanyang Technological University.

What is the type of environment you are creating at Farrer Park Hospital?

Dr. Low: Our care philosophy extends beyond healing and the management of disease to engaging with our patients as partners in pursuit of good health and providing an oasis for healing and relaxation. Throughout our facility, patients will find that attention has been given to every aspect and detail of our facility – from the comfort of our patients, to its impact on the environment, to the speed and ease of obtaining medical attention and to the maintenance of hygiene.

As healthcare players go, we are small and that has made us very aware of our challenges. As such, we have encouraged a culture of innovation, to grasp opportunities quickly. Healthcare is a very traditional industry, resistant to change and thus tend to be laggards in technology. Farrer Park Hospital, however, embraces technology. The seamlessness of information flow was the focus at the onset of the project. This hospital was planned technologically to be relevant for the next 20 years.

Being an institution built by healthcare practitioners has its advantages. We achieve painstaking perfection in our attention to detail. The hospital has many practical features that serve the needs of practitioners and patients while the hoteliers add details for comfort, luxury and aesthetics.

Our hospital is also supported by a hospital staff, who provide a range of specialty services, such as cardiology, oncology, orthopedic surgery, gastroenterology and ophthalmology, along with a 24-hour emergency clinic, which provides immediate care for acute illnesses. The hospital also has the most modern facilities for diagnostic imaging, nuclear medicine, radiotherapy and clinical laboratories. There is even a holistic service which focuses on screening, preventive medicine and lifestyle enhancement.

What is your perspective of engaging with patients?  

Dr. Low: The hospital’s care philosophy extends beyond healing and the management of disease to engaging patients in pursuit of good health. Healing does not end after a successful operation. It is not just about coming to the hospital for a procedure and then recuperating at home. It is about having the best and most comfortable services to get the patient on their feet. And having a family support structure close by, where relatives can stay close to the hospital, is essential in the rehabilitation process. That is why, as part of Connexion, the hospital is Asia’s first, integrated lifestyle hub for healthcare and wellness that is linked to a five-star hotel and spa.

Patients are treated by an experienced team of medical and health specialists in an environment meticulously designed to maximize comfort and efficiency while promoting well-being, rest and recovery.

How are you positioned technologically to be a leader in developing first-rate patient care? 

Dr. Low: We have taken the lead in many areas. Our facility is wired completely, any tests and treatments is automated whenever possible and the information is sent in real time to all stakeholders who require it. Our doctors can access this technology and make decisions as if they are in the hospital anywhere in the world.

What type of physician are you attempting to attract?

Dr. Low: The environment at Farrer Park Hospital is about clinical and service excellence, supported by physical and technological constructs that facilitates both these endeavors. We are building a culture of fairness and promoting decision making that is free from self-interest and toward better patient outcome. The doctors who join us must be aware that we take our code of comfort, fairness and value seriously.

What is the thinking behind the philosophy of incorporating nature and art into healthcare in Farrer Park Hospital?

Dr. Low: The architecture of Farrer Park Hospital and Connexion reflects the deep commitment to creating a true learning environment. Synergies between our hospital along with a closely linked hotel stimulate many innovations for improving the healthcare experience. The concept of a hospital near a hotel is not new, however, to integrate it to the level that we have is something novel. We followed a biophilic architecture approach throughout the facility, incorporating nature and art to enhance healing. Hospitals are traditionally not the best place for recuperation. We strive to have the restful ambiance of a hotel, in addition to proximity of doctors and family under the same roof, as well as using technology to enable seamless and speedy decision making; all this in support of better patient outcome and shorter stays.

You could say we are different in how we view private healthcare. A traditional hospital would not carve out 15 gardens at multiple levels throughout the facility so that patients and families can have places to feel the warmth of the sun and breathe fresh air whenever they like. The facility also hosts a private collection of over 700 commissioned Asian paintings meant to enhance the healing environment.

In land-scarce Singapore, a typical businessperson would not have fewer paid parking lots, making them one and a half times the size of a standard lot to allow a patient on crutches to comfortably extend the car door fully to disembark. A standard project manager would not insist that contractors construct a curved sink so that surgeons will not have water dripping down his elbows after scrubbing his or her hands, or a bath bench with a cut out that allows patients to sit while washing themselves. This may seem unnecessary but these innovative approaches translate to actual benefits to people who ‘value’ them.

Everyone has the same end goal, a good experience and better patient outcome. Our strategy is simple. We take our responsibilities to patients, their families and the clinicians seriously. Attend to their needs, anticipate their wants, and find the best way to address these concerns through innovation and technology. This ultimately brings value to patients.

How does nature and art come together at Farrer Park Hospital?

Dr. Low: The hospital, hotel and specialist center share and enjoy 15 gardens created at multiple levels in the building. One of the gardens, The Farm @ Farrer, grows fruits, vegetables and herbs for the hotel kitchens, and at the same time, is a large outdoor green space for recovering patients to stroll and sun. Uniquely, Farrer Park Hospital patients enjoy meals prepared by chefs in the hotel’s kitchens and confectionery.

Our inpatient food service, for example, is also automated, so whatever appears on the electronic screen on a patient’s personal tablet matches their dietary restrictions. The menu is a matrix of over 200 items customized by hotel chefs and our hospital nutritionist. Food that is fresh, delicious and safe for patient consumption is our primary focus.

Not only do we benchmark ourselves with hospitals, but also we take our inspiration from other industries. We believe to be at the top, you need to look beyond, break through and recreate process models and apply them for use in healthcare.

 

Dr. Timothy Low Photo

Image SOURCE: Photograph of Chief Executive Officer Timothy Low, M.D., courtesy of Farrer Park Hospital, Singapore.

Chief Executive Officer of Farrer Park Hospital, Timothy Low, M.D., brings a strong leadership background in managing award-winning hospitals. Prior to his current role, Dr. Low served as CEO of Gleneagles Hospital in Singapore. Through his leadership, the hospital established itself as a six-star private healthcare provider, clinching 14 local and regional awards including the prestigious Asian Hospital Management Award as well as the the ‘National Work Redesign Model Company’ by Spring Singapore, a governing agency for innovation in Singapore. Under his leadership, revenues exceed 42 percent to over USD $100 million.

Having also served in senior management positions for pharmaceutical and medical device industries in the Asia Pacific region, Dr. Low’s breath of exposure allowed him to pioneer the establishment of a global contract research organization, validating Singapore as its regional headquarters.

With more than 28 years of experience in the health care industry with such leading companies as Covidien, Covance and Schering-Plough, Dr. Low brings with him a strong background of leadership within the business and medical community. With his vast experience and contributions to the industry, Dr. Low is listed in the ranks of Stanford Who’s Who.

Dr. Low received his Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery from the National University of Singapore (NUS) and is also a graduate of the NUS Graduate School of Business, Stanford University Executive Program and the Singapore Management University Asia Pacific Hospital Management Program.

 

REFERENCE/SOURCE

Tan, W. (2016). Farrer Park Hospital patients can recuperate at adjoining hotel to ease ward crunch. The Straits Times. Retrieved from  http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/health/farrer-park-hospital-patients-can-recuperate-at-adjoining-hotel-to-ease-ward-crunch

Tan, W. (2016). New Farrer Park Hospital aims to offer ‘affordable’ private care. The Straits Times. Retrieved from http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/health/new-farrer-park-hospital-aims-to-offer-affordable-private-care

Anonymous (2012). Singapore Medical Tourism: Farrer Park Healthcare and Hospitality Complex Will Open in 2013. International Medical Travel Journal. Retrieved from http://www.imtj.com/news/singapore-medical-tourism-farrer-park-healthcare-and-hospitality-complex-will-open-2013/

Retrieved from http://news.asiaone.com/news/yourhealth/farrer-park-hospital-appoints-new-ceo

Retrieved from http://today.mims.com/topic/farrer-park-hospital-opened-with-a-call-for-healthcare-changes-to-adapt-for-an-ageing-population-

Retrieved from http://www.farrerpark.com/hospital/Pages/Home.aspx

Retrieved from http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/health/new-farrer-park-hospital-aims-to-offer-affordable-private-care

Retrieved from http://www.bca.gov.sg/friendlybuilding/FindBuilding/Building.aspx?id=4534

Retrieved from http://www.ttgasia.com/article.php?article_id=23292

 

Other related articles were published in this Open Access Online Scientific Journal include the following: 

2016

Third Annual BioPrinting and 3D Printing in the Life Sciences, 21-22 July 2016 at Academia, Singapore General Hospital Campus

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2016/01/18/third-annual-bioprinting-and-3d-printing-in-the-life-sciences-21-22-july-2016-at-academia-singapore-general-hospital-campus/

2015

Patient Satisfaction with Hospital Experience

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2015/11/15/patient-satisfaction-with-hospital-experience/

2013

Cardiac Surgery Theatre in China vs. in the US: Cardiac Repair Procedures, Medical Devices in Use, Technology in Hospitals, Surgeons’ Training and Cardiac Disease Severity 

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2013/01/08/cardiac-surgery-theatre-in-china-vs-in-the-us-cardiac-repair-procedures-medical-devices-in-use-technology-in-hospitals-surgeons-training-and-cardiac-disease-severity/

Risk Factor for Health Systems: High Turnover of Hospital CEOs and Visionary’s Role of Hospitals In 10 Years

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2013/08/08/risk-factor-for-health-systems-high-turnover-of-hospital-ceos-and-visionarys-role-of-hospitals-in-10-years/

Hospitals in China

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/options/scientific-delegation/shanghai-may-2013/hospitals-in-china/

 

Read Full Post »


A Revolutionary Approach in Brain Tumor Research

Author: Gail S. Thornton, M.A.

For the more than 680,000 Americans living with a brain tumor, there is a revolutionary research effort under way at the Cedars-Sinai Precision Medicine Initiative in Brain Cancer in Los Angeles to look at ways of using precision science to tailor personalized treatments for individuals with malignant brain tumors.

Brain Cancer Meets Precision Science

Brain cancer continues to be among the hardest of diseases to treat. Until now, most medical treatments for the most common, aggressive and lethal form of brain cancer, glioblastoma multiforme, which affects more than 138,000 Americans yearly, have been designed for the average patient. Given that every cancer is genetically unique, this “one-size-fits-all” drug treatment has not worked for brain cancer and for most solid cancers. Unfortunately, today’s standard-of-care, which includes surgical removal, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy, has only modest benefits with patients living on average 15 months after diagnosis.

“Precision Medicine, an innovative approach that takes into account individual differences in people’s genes, environments and lifestyles, only works when we apply ‘Precision Science’ to the effort,” notes Dr. Chirag Patil, M.D., Neurosurgeon & Program Director at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. “If we want to treat cancer more effectively, we need a novel approach to cancer care. In our program, we use tumor genomics and precision science to build a holistic mathematical model of cancer that then can be used to develop new, personalized cancer treatments.  Right now, we’re focused on the most common type of brain cancer, but are developing a unique scientific process that could tackle ANY type of cancer.”

This past year, the White House launched the Precision Medicine Initiative to dramatically improve health and treatment through a $215 million investment in the President’s 2016 budget.  The Initiative will provide additional impetus to Precision Medicine’s approach to disease prevention and treatment that has already led to powerful new discoveries and several new treatment methods for critical diseases.

PMI photo.png

Caption: The Cedars-Sinai program uses precision science to build a mathematical virtual brain tumor for testing.

Image SOURCEhttp://www.drchiragpatil.com/main.html

Delivering Personalized Cancer Care Through Big Data And Virtual Simulations

Harnessing the power of big data, Dr. Patil’s program puts a patient’s brain tumor through next-generation genomic sequencing to establish a comprehensive profile of that specific brain cancer. Researchers, in collaboration with Cellworks Inc., a therapeutics design company, use this profile to build a mathematical “virtual“ tumor cell. The simulations are then compared to the real patient tumor cells that have been growing in Dr. Patil’s laboratory. The “real data” from experiments in the lab are used to confirm  the virtual tumor model – again, this is customized for each individual patient.

The next step is to run a virtual experiment where all FDA-approved targeted drug combinations are tried on the virtual tumor cell to identify the best drug combination that eradicates the cells for the specific brain tumor.  In the final step, researchers expose the patient’s real cancer cells to this unique and personalized drug combination to ensure that it effectively kills the patient’s cancer cells in the laboratory.

Spreading the Word

This effort is not someday in the future but is happening now, and has demonstrated remarkable progress in the last six months. Researchers expect to have data on 30 brain cancer patients from this precision medicine strategy by mid-2016. From this, they will develop an innovative randomized clinical trial, not simply to compare one drug to another, but rather compare this innovative Precision Medicine treatment algorithm to a current standard treatment regimen.

Learn More

For more information on this revolutionary approach, visit www.BrainTumorExpert.com, to learn more about Dr. Patil and his precision science approach to treating brain tumors.

REFERENCE

http://www.drchiragpatil.com/main.html

SOURCE

http://www.drchiragpatil.com/main.html

Other related articles:

http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/2016/02/junk-dna-genome-nessa-carey-book-review

http://www.genengnews.com/gen-news-highlights/advanced-immunotherapeutic-method-shows-promise-against-brain-cancer/81252433/

http://www.mdtmag.com/news/2015/11/blood-brain-barrier-opened-noninvasively-focused-ultrasound-first-time

http://www.biosciencetechnology.com/news/2015/11/protein-atlas-brain

 

Other related articles published in this Open Access Online Scientific Journal include the following:

2015

The 11th Annual Personalized Medicine Conference, November 18-19, 2015, Joseph B. Martin Conference Center of the Harvard New Research Building at Harvard Medical School

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2015/07/09/the-11th-annual-personalized-medicine-conference-november-18-19-2015-joseph-b-martin-conference-center-of-the-harvard-new-research-building-at-harvard-medical-school/

Silicon Valley 2015 Personalized Medicine World Conference, Mountain View, CA, January 26, 2015, 8:00AM to January 28, 2015, 3:30PM PST
https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2015/01/08/silicon-valley-2015-personalized-medicine-world-conference-mountain-view-ca-january-26-2015-800am-to-january-28-2015-330pm-pst/

2014

10th Annual Personalized Medicine Conference at the Harvard Medical School, November 12-13, 2014, The Joseph B. Martin Conference Center at Harvard Medical School, 77 Avenue Louis Pasteur, Boston, MA
http://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2014/10/09/10th-annual-personalized-medicine-conference-at-the-harvard-medical-school-november-12-13-2014-hotel-commonwealth-boston-ma/

Read Full Post »


Genetic link to sleep and mood disorders

Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP, Curator

LPBI

 

Scientists identify molecular link between sleep and mood

A poor night’s sleep is enough to put anyone in a bad mood, and although scientists have long suspected a link between mood and sleep, the molecular basis of this connection remained a mystery. Now, new research has found several rare genetic mutations on the same gene that definitively connect the two.

Sleep goes hand-in-hand with mood. People suffering from depression and mania, for example, frequently have altered sleeping patterns, as do those with seasonal affective disorder (SAD). And although no one knows exactly how these changes come about, in SAD sufferers they are influenced by changes in light exposure, the brain’s time-keeping cue. But is mood affecting sleep, is sleep affecting mood, or is there a third factor influencing both? Although a number of tantalizing leads have linked the circadian clock to mood, there is “no definitive factor that proves causality or indicates the direction of the relationship,” says Michael McCarthy, a neurobiologist at the San Diego Veterans’ Affairs Medical Center and the University of California (UC), San Diego.

To see whether they could establish a link between the circadian clock, sleep, and mood, scientists in the new study looked at the genetics of a family that suffers from abnormal sleep patterns and mood disorders, including SAD and something called advanced sleep phase, a condition in which people wake earlier and sleep earlier than normal. The scientists screened the family for mutations in key genes involved in the circadian clock, and identified two rare variants of the PERIOD3 (PER3) gene in members suffering from SAD and advanced sleep phase. “We found a genetic change in people who have both seasonal affective disorder and the morning lark trait” says lead researcher Ying-Hui Fu, a neuroscientist at UC San Francisco. When the team tested for these mutations in DNA samples from the general population, they found that they were extremely rare, appearing in less than 1% of samples.

Fu and her team then created mice that carried the novel genetic variants. These transgenic mice showed an unusual sleep-wake cycle and struggled less when handled by the researchers, a typical sign of depression. They also had lower levels of PER2, a protein involved in circadian rhythms, than unmutated mice, providing a possible molecular explanation for the unusual sleep patterns in the family. Fu says this supports the link between the PER3 mutations and both sleep and mood. “PER3’s role in mood regulation has never been demonstrated directly before,” she says. “Our results indicate that PER3 might function in helping us adjust to seasonal changes,” by modifying the body’s internal clock.

To investigate further, the team studied mice lacking a functional PER3 gene. They found that these mice showed symptoms of SAD, exhibiting more severe depression when the duration of simulated daylight in the laboratory was reduced. Because SAD affects between 2% and 9% of people worldwide, the novel variants can’t explain it fully. But understanding the function of PER3 could yield insights into the molecular basis of a wide range of sleep and mood disorders, Fu says.

Together, these experiments show that the PERIOD3 gene likely plays a key role in regulating the sleep-wake cycle, influencing mood and regulating the relationship between depression and seasonal changes in light availability, the team reports today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “The identification of a mutation in PER3 with such a strong effect on mood is remarkable,” McCarthy says. “It suggests an important role for the circadian clock in determining mood.”

The next step will be to investigate how well these results generalize to other people suffering from mood and sleep disorders. “It will be interesting to see if other rare variants in PER3 are found, or if SAD is consistently observed in other carriers,” McCarthy says. That could eventually lead to new drugs that selectively target the gene, which McCarthy says, “could be a strategy for treating mood or sleep disorders.”

 

http://dx.doi.org:/10.1126/science.aaf4095

 

 

Read Full Post »


New subgroups of ILC immune cells discovered through single-cell RNA sequencing

Reporter: Stephen J Williams, PhD

 

SOURCE

http://ki.se/en/news/new-subgroups-of-ilc-immune-cells-discovered-through-single-cell-rna-sequencing?elqTrackId=f79885cef36049e281109c02da213910&elq=ac700a4d4374478b9d6e10e301ae6b90&elqaid=14707&elqat=1&elqCampaignId=14

Updated on 2016-02-15. Published on 2016-02-15Denna sida på svenska

Jenny Mjösberg and Rickard Sandberg are principal investigators at Karolinska Institutet’s Department of Medicine, Huddinge and Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, respectively. Credit: Stefan Zimmerman.

A relatively newly discovered group of immune cells known as ILCs have been examined in detail in a new study published in the journal Nature Immunology. By analysing the gene expression in individual tonsil cells, scientists at Karolinska Institutet have found three previously unknown subgroups of ILCs, and revealed more about how these cells function in the human body.

Innate lymphoid cells (ILCs) are a group of immune cells that have only relatively recently been discovered in humans. Most of current knowledge about ILCs stems from animal studies of e.g. inflammation or infection in the gastrointestinal tract. There is therefore an urgent need to learn more about these cells in humans.

Previous studies have shown that ILCs are important for maintaining the barrier function of the mucosa, which serves as a first line of defence against microorganisms in the lungs, intestines and elsewhere. However, while there is growing evidence to suggest that ILCs are involved in diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, asthma and intestinal cancer, basic research still needs to be done to ascertain exactly what part they play.

Two research groups, led by Rickard Sandberg and Jenny Mjösberg, collaborated on a study of ILCs from human tonsils. To date, three main groups of human ILCs are characterized. In this present study, the teams used a novel approach that enabled them to sort individual tonsil cells and measure their expression across thousands of  genes. This way, the researchers managed to categorise hundreds of cells, one by one, to define the types of ILCs found in the human tonsils.

Unique gene expression profiles

Rickard Sandberg, credit: Stefan Zimmerman,

“We used cluster analyses to demonstrate that ILCs congregate into ILC1, ILC2, ILC3 and NK cells, based on their unique gene expression profiles,” says Professor Sandberg at Karolinska Institutet’sDepartment of Cell and Molecular Biology, and the Stockholm branch of Ludwig Cancer Research. “Our analyses also discovered the expression of numerous genes of previously unknown function in ILCs, highlighting that these cells are likely doing more than what we previously knew.”

By analysing the gene expression profiles (or transcriptome) of individual cells, the researchers found that one of the formerly known main groups could be subdivided.

Jenny Mjösberg, credit: Stefan Zimmerman.

“We’ve identified three new subgroups of ILC3s that evince different gene expression patterns and that differ in how they react to signalling molecules and in their ability to secrete proteins,” says Dr Mjösberg at Karolinska Institutet’s Department of Medicine in Huddinge, South Stockholm. “All in all, our study has taught us a lot about this relatively uncharacterised family of cells and our data will serve as an important resource for other researchers.”

The study was financed by grants from a number of bodies, including the Swedish Research Council, the Swedish Cancer Society, the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, the Swedish Society for Medical Research, the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research and Karolinska Institutet.

Publication

The heterogeneity of human CD127+ innate lymphoid cells revealed by single-cell RNA sequencing
Åsa K. Björklund, Marianne Forkel, Simone Picelli, Viktoria Konya, Jakob Theorell, Danielle Friberg, Rickard Sandberg, Jenny Mjösberg
Nature Immunology, online 15 February 2016, doi:10.1038/ni.3368

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »