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Reporter: Gail S. Thornton

This article appeared on the website of Cardiovascular Business

‘Patient No. 1’ from a Hep C heart transplant study shares his story

By the time three transplant physicians approached Tom Giangiulio Jr. about being the first patient in a new clinical trial to accept a heart from a Hepatitis C-positive donor, Giangiulio didn’t have much of a choice.

He had already been on the heart transplant waitlist for more than two years, he was a live-in at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and he had a body size (6-foot-2, 220 pounds) and blood type (O-positive) that was difficult to match to a donor.

It took Giangiulio less than 24 hours to speak to his previous cardiologist and his family and decide to enroll in the program. The doctors at Penn explained to him that because of new medications that can cure Hepatitis C, they were confident the virus could be eradicated post-transplant.

“There was no hesitation at all, not with me,” said Carin Giangiulio, Tom’s wife of 33 years. “Because I knew what the alternative was and we didn’t have too much choice except for going on a VAD (ventricular assist device) … and he didn’t want to do that. I said, ‘If they have a cure, then it’s a no-brainer. Let’s just do it.’ And I’m glad we did because I don’t think he would’ve been here today.”

Tom, 59, is set to celebrate his second anniversary with his new heart in June. He received the heart the day after Father’s Day in 2017 and subsequently contracted Hepatitis C, which was promptly wiped out with a 12-week regimen of elbasvir/grazoprevir (Zepatier).

Some of Giangiulio’s doctors at Penn published in February their experience with the first 10 patients in the clinical trial, called USHER, in the American Journal of Transplantation. All nine patients who survived were cured of Hepatitis C thanks to the antiviral therapy.

The implications of the research are massive, said Rhondalyn McLean, MD, MHS, the medical director of Penn’s heart transplant program and lead author of the recently published study. For the past two decades, the U.S. has struggled to increase the number of heart transplants above about 3,000 per year. And every year, patients die waiting for a heart transplant or become too sick to handle a transplant surgery.

McLean estimated 700 hearts from donors with Hepatitis C are discarded each year in the U.S. If even half of those are suitable for transplant, it would increase by 10 percent the number of organs that are available for implantation.

“There are so many people who have end-stage heart failure who die waiting for transplant, so anytime that we can increase our access to organs then I think we’re all going to be happy about that,” McLean said. “I think the people believe in the medicine, they believe that Hepatitis C is curable, so the risk to these folks is low. With the results of the study, I think we’ve proven that we can do this safely and the medications have great efficacy.”

Transplanting Hepatitis C-positive hearts isn’t a new idea, McLean explained.

“We used to do this all the time (with) the thinking that Hepatitis C usually doesn’t cause a problem for many, many years, so if hearts are only going to last 13 years or so and Hepatitis C doesn’t usually cause a problem for 30 years in someone, it should be an OK thing to do,” she said.

But then a study published in the 1990s found Hepatitis C-negative patients who accepted a heart from a donor with Hepatitis C actually had an increased risk of death compared to those who received normal hearts, and the practice of using these organs ceased.

However, with the new medications—the first commercially available treatment for Hepatitis C was approved by the FDA in 2014—McLean and her team are systematically studying the safety of implanting these hearts and then wiping out the virus once it’s contracted. And they’re optimistic about the program, which showed the first 10 patients had no evidence of the virus after their 12-week medication regimens.

“That met the criteria for sustained virologic response and those patients are deemed to be cured,” she said. “There’s no reason to think that this population would be any different than your normal, nontransplant population (in terms of Hepatitis C reappearing) so I think it was a pretty successful study.”

Penn researchers are also studying a similar approach in kidney and lung transplant candidates, which could help patients stuck on waitlists for those organs as well.

McLean described the increasing availability of these organs as an “unfortunate benefit” of the opioid epidemic. Through sharing needles, many opioid users are contracting Hepatitis C and dying young. Organs from young donors tend to perform better and often have no other problems, so solving the Hep C issue through medication could have a huge impact if this strategy is eventually rolled out on a broader scale.

“It’s hard when you have single-center studies,” McLean said. “They’re always promising, but in order to get a better assessment of what we’re doing and how the drug is doing I think you need to combine numbers so there has to be a registry that looks at all of the patients who have received these drugs and then using numbers to determine whether this is a successful strategy for us. And I believe that it will be.”

Those are the large-scale implications of this research. Tom Giangiulio can share the personal side.

Patient No. 1

Giangiulio said he feels “extremely gifted” to be Patient No. 1 in the USHER program. He knows he may not be alive if he wasn’t.

He recalls going into ventricular tachycardia about a week before his transplant and said it “scared the daylights” out of him.

“The amount of red tape, meetings and research, technology, and things that had to happen at a very precise moment in time for me to be the first … it’s mind-boggling to think about it,” he said. “But for all that to happen and for it to happen when it happened—and for me to get the heart when I got it—there was a lot of divine intervention along with a lot of people that were involved.”

Giangiulio has also experienced some powerful moments since receiving the transplant. After a bit of written correspondence with his donor’s family, he met the young man’s family one weekend in December of 2018.

He said riding over to the meeting was probably the most tense he’s ever been, but once he arrived the experience far exceeded his expectations.

“We were there for 2 ½ hours and nobody wanted to leave,” Giangiulio said.

The donor’s mother got Giangiulio a gift, a ceramic heart with a photograph of her son. A fellow transplant patient had told Giangiulio about a product called Enso, a kidney-shaped object you can hold in your hand which plays a recording of a user’s heartbeat.

Giangiulio decided to give it to her.

“I was very cautious at the advice of the people here at Penn,” he said. “Nobody knew how she would react to it. It might bother her, she could be thrilled to death. And she was, she was thrilled to death with it and she sleeps with it every night. She boots up the app and she listens to my heartbeat on that app every night.”

Another moment that sticks out to Giangiulio is meeting Patient No. 7 in the USHER program, who he remains in touch with. They ran into each other while waiting to get blood work done, and began talking about their shared experience as transplant recipients.

The clinical trial came up and Giangiulio slow-played his involvement, asking Patient No. 7 about the trial and not letting on that he was ultra-familiar with the program.

When Giangiulio finally told him he was Patient No. 1, Patient No. 7 “came launching out of his chair” to hug him.

“He said, ‘I owe you my life,’” Giangiulio recalled.

After Giangiulio responded that it was the doctors he really owed, Patient No. 7 said he had specifically asked how Patient No. 1 was doing when McLean first offered the program to him.

“She explained that I was going to be No. 7. … I didn’t care about 6, 5, 4, 3 or 2. I wanted to know how No. 1 was doing,” Giangiulio recalled of the conversation. “He said, ‘That was you. … They told me how well you were doing and that if I wanted you’d come here and talk to me, so I owe you.’”

Giangiulio feels strongly about giving back and reciprocating the good fortune he’s had. That’s why he talks to fellow patients and the media to share his story—because it could save other people’s lives, too.

He can’t do as much physical labor as he used to, but he remains involved in the excavating company he owns with his brothers and is the Emergency Management Coordinator for Waterford Township, New Jersey. He also serves on the township’s planning board and was previously Director of Public Safety.

“To me, he’s Superman,” Carin Giangiulio said. “It was insane, completely insane what the human body can endure and still survive.”

That now includes being given a heart with Hepatitis C and then wiping out the virus with the help of modern medicine.

“I would tell (other transplant candidates) to not fear it, especially if you’re here at Penn,” Giangiulio said. “I know there’s a lot of good hospitals across the country, but my loyalty kind of lies here for understandable reasons.”

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

2016

People with blood type O have been reported to be protected from coronary heart disease, cancer, and have lower cholesterol levels.

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2016/01/11/people-with-blood-type-o-have-been-reported-to-be-protected-from-coronary-heart-disease-cancer-and-have-lower-cholesterol-levels/

2015

A Patient’s Perspective: On Open Heart Surgery from Diagnosis and Intervention to Recovery

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2015/05/10/a-patients-perspective-on-open-heart-surgery-from-diagnosis-and-intervention-to-recovery/

No evidence to change current transfusion practices for adults undergoing complex cardiac surgery: RECESS evaluated 1,098 cardiac surgery patients received red blood cell units stored for short or long periods

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2015/04/08/no-evidence-to-change-current-transfusion-practices-for-adults-undergoing-complex-cardiac-surgery-recess-evaluated-1098-cardiac-surgery-patients-received-red-blood-cell-units-stored-for-short-or-lon/

2013

ACC/AHA Guidelines for Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Surgery

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2013/11/05/accaha-guidelines-for-coronary-artery-bypass-graft-surgery/

On Devices and On Algorithms: Arrhythmia after Cardiac SurgeryPrediction and ECG Prediction of Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation Onset

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2013/05/07/on-devices-and-on-algorithms-arrhythmia-after-cardiac-surgery-prediction-and-ecg-prediction-of-paroxysmal-atrial-fibrillation-onset/

 

Editor’s note:

I wish to encourage the e-Reader of this Interview to consider reading and comparing the experiences of other Open Heart Surgery Patients, voicing their private-life episodes in the ER that are included in this recently published volume, The VOICES of Patients, Hospital CEOs, Health Care Providers, Caregivers and Families: Personal Experience with Critical Care and Invasive Medical Procedures.

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2017/11/21/the-voices-of-patients-hospital-ceos-health-care-providers-caregivers-and-families-personal-experience-with-critical-care-and-invasive-medical-procedures/

 

I also wish to encourage the e-Reader to consider, if interested, reviewing additional e-Books on Cardiovascular Diseases from the same Publisher, Leaders in Pharmaceutical Business Intelligence (LPBI) Group, on Amazon.com.

  • Perspectives on Nitric Oxide in Disease Mechanisms, on Amazon since 6/2/12013

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DINFFYC

  • Cardiovascular, Volume Two: Cardiovascular Original Research: Cases in Methodology Design for Content Co-Curation, on Amazon since 11/30/2015

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B018Q5MCN8

  • Cardiovascular Diseases, Volume Three: Etiologies of Cardiovascular Diseases: Epigenetics, Genetics and Genomics, on Amazon since 11/29/2015

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B018PNHJ84

  • Cardiovascular Diseases, Volume Four: Regenerative and Translational Medicine: The Therapeutics Promise for Cardiovascular Diseases, on Amazon since 12/26/2015

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B019UM909A

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Curator: 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

  •  In a national survey, the Fiber Choice® line of chewable prebiotic fiber tablets and gummies, achieved the #1 share of gastroenterologist (GE) recommendations, more than four times greater than that for the nearest branded competitor
  • Fiber Choice contains a well-studied prebiotic fiber that promotes regularity and supports the growth of beneficial microorganisms for general digestive health
  • The convenience, taste and efficacy of Fiber Choice, makes it a GE-endorsed choice toward helping address the “fiber gap” in American diets

 Boca Raton, Fla. – (June 3, 2018) – IM HealthScience® (IMH), innovators of medical foods and dietary supplements, today announced a high-quality and replicated nationwide survey conducted among a representative and projectible sample of U.S. gastroenterologists, which revealed Fiber Choice® as the #1-recommended chewable prebiotic fiber brand.

The results of a ProVoice survey, fielded in May 2018 by IQVIA, showed Fiber Choice as the leader by far. Its share of gastroenterologist endorsements was more than four times greater than that of its nearest branded competitor.

Less than 3 percent of Americans get the recommended minimum amount of fiber, and 97 percent need to increase their fiber intake[1]. Although the recommended daily fiber intake is 25 to 38 grams[2], most Americans only get about half that amount. This “fiber gap” reflects a diet with relatively few high-fiber foods, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes and whole-grains, and is large enough for the U.S. government to deem it a public health concern for most of the U.S. population.

To help bridge this gap, gastroenterologists recommend fibers including Fiber Choice chewable tablets and gummies. For doctors, it’s a simple, convenient and tasty way to help their patients get the fiber needed for overall good digestive health.

“Dietary fiber is known for keeping our bodies regular,” said Michael Epstein, M.D., FACG, AGAF, a leading gastroenterologist and Chief Medical Advisor of IM HealthScience. “Most importantly, it’s essential that you get enough fiber in your diet. One way to do that is to supplement your daily intake of dietary fiber with natural, prebiotic fiber supplements.”

Inulin, the 100 percent natural prebiotic soluble fiber in Fiber Choice, has been studied extensively and has been shown to support laxation and overall digestive health as well as glycemic control, lowered cholesterol, improved cardiovascular health, weight control and better calcium absorption.

Fiber Choice can be found in the digestive aisle at Walmart, CVS, Target, Rite Aid and many other drug and food retailers.

About ProVoice Survey
ProVoice has the largest sample size of any professional healthcare survey in the U.S., with nearly 60,000 respondents across physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, optometrists, dentists, and hygienists, measuring recommendations across more than 120 over-the-counter categories. Manufacturers use ProVoice for claim substantiation, promotion measurement, and HCP targeting.

IQVIA fielded replicated surveys in April 2018 and May 2018 respectively among U.S. gastroenterologists for IM HealthScience. The ProVoice survey methodology validated the claim at a 95 percent confidence level that “Fiber Choice® is the #1 gastroenterologist-recommended chewable prebiotic fiber supplement.”

About Fiber Choice®

The Fiber Choice® brand of chewables and gummies is made of inulin [pronounced: in-yoo-lin], a natural fiber found in many fruits and vegetables. Inulin works by helping to build healthy, good bacteria in the colon, while keeping food moving through the digestive system. This action has a beneficial and favorable effect in softening stools and improving bowel function.

Research shows that the digestive system does more than digest food; it plays a central role in the immune system. The healthy bacteria that live in the digestive tract promote immune system function, so prebiotic fiber helps nourish the body. Inulin also has secondary benefits, too, of possibly lowering cholesterol, balancing blood chemistry and regulating appetite, which can help reduce calorie intake and play a supporting role in weight management.

The usual adult dosage with Fiber Choice Chewable tablets is two tablets up to three times a day and for Fiber Choice Fiber Gummies is two gummies up to six per day.

About IM HealthScience®

IM HealthScience® (IMH) is the innovator of IBgard and FDgard for the dietary management of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Functional Dyspepsia (FD), respectively. In 2017, IMH added Fiber Choice®, a line of prebiotic fibers, to its product line via an acquisition. The sister subsidiary of IMH, Physician’s Seal®, also provides REMfresh®, a well-known continuous release and absorption melatonin (CRA-melatonin™) supplement for sleep. IMH is a privately held company based in Boca Raton, Florida. It was founded in 2010 by a team of highly experienced pharmaceutical research and development and management executives. The company is dedicated to developing products to address overall health and wellness, including conditions with a high unmet medical need, such as digestive health. The IM HealthScience advantage comes from developing products based on its patented, targeted-delivery technologies called Site Specific Targeting (SST). For more information, visit www.imhealthscience.com to learn about the company, or www.IBgard.com,  www.FDgard.comwww.FiberChoice.com, and www.Remfresh.com.

This information is for educational purposes only and is not meant to be a substitute for the advice of a physician or other health care professional. You should not use this information for diagnosing a health problem or disease. The company will strive to keep information current and consistent but may not be able to do so at any specific time. Generally, the most current information can be found on www.fiberchoice.com. Individual results may vary.

SOURCE/REFERENCES

[1] Greger, Michael, M.D., FACLM. (2015, September 29). Where Do You Get Your Fiber? [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://nutritionfacts.org/2015/09/29/where-do-you-get-your-fiber/

[2] Institute of Medicine. 2005. Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/10490.

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

2018

Benefits of fiber in diet

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2018/03/14/benefits-of-fiber-in-diet/

2016

Nutrition & Aging: Dr. Simin Meydani appointed Vice Provost for Research @Tufts University

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2016/08/01/nutrition-aging-dr-simin-meydani-appointed-vice-provost-for-research-tufts-university/

2015

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WEGO Health Awards Competition Focuses on Patients

Author: Gail S. Thornton, M.A., PhD(c)

WEGO Health, a network of over 100,000 influential members of the online health community, empowers patients who drive the health care conversation online.

For their annual “health activist” award competition this year, Gail Thornton, was nominated as the editor/author of a series of compelling patient profiles on chronic and invasive medical conditions that are posted on the online scientific journal, Leaders in Pharmaceutical Business Intelligence.

“The story of patients and their health journey is a critical one to tell and I was blessed to have such inspirational, caring people who shared their lives with me,” said Gail Thornton.” Also many thanks to  Aviva Lev-Ari for her vision in creating this series — and for considering me to be part of it all.”

The series also will be part of an e-book, entitled, The VOICES of Patients, Health Care Providers, Care Givers and Families: Personal Experience with Critical Care and Invasive Medical Procedures, Leaders in Pharmaceutical Business Intelligence (LPBI) Group. Here is the link:  https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/biomed-e-books/series-e-titles-in-the-strategic-plan-for-2014-1015/2014-the-patients-voice-personal-experience-with-invasive-medical-procedures/

final series E covers volumes 1_4-vol1

 

“Your contribution to the e-Book is very substantial in bringing the LIVE voices of Patients and Health Care Providers to the EAR of the Public at large,” said Aviva Lev-Ari, Ph.D., R.N., on 9/13/2016, Director and Founder, Leaders in Pharmaceutical Business Intelligence (LPBI) Group, Boston.

Also thanks to Gabriela Contreras for suggesting some of these patients.

Please visit the the link below to review Gail’s nomination details and to endorse her!

https://awards.wegohealth.com/nominees/12485

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Nathalie’s Story: A Health Journey With A Happy Ending

Patient was diagnosed with adenocarcinoma of the duodenum over two years ago and had tumor removed at age 35. Interview was conducted 2+ years post-surgery.

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

 

Nathalie Monette of Laval, the third largest city in Quebec, Canada, counts her blessings each and every day. The 35-year-old is looking forward to making her mark on a bright and promising future as a newly married woman with a supportive family, new job as head of internal communications for a public service organization, and a new lease on life. Diagnosed a little over two years ago with a rare cancer called adenocarcinoma of the duodenum, Nathalie never envisioned that her life would take many twists and turns before she and her doctors arrived at an optimal treatment regimen.

Nathalie describes some of the classic warning signs she had for about six months before her actual medical diagnosis: abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, acid reflux and loss of weight.

“I felt sick all the time. I was losing weight and had pain in my upper abdomen after eating. My condition was getting worse with each week. My boyfriend, Jeff, at the time, who is now my husband, took me to several doctors who initially listened to my list of symptoms, examined me and told me to take antacids and avoid stress – and sent me home. It was increasingly becoming more difficult to manage my life, my relationships, and my job.”

The doctors in one hospital that she visited even considered she might be having a cardiovascular incident, since she was vomiting, was nauseous and had a stomach ache. Her blood levels were normal, which didn’t help the doctors, who, again, could find no serious health issue and sent her home.

Image SOURCE: Photographs courtesy of Nathalie Monette on the day of her wedding to Jeff. Top Left: Nathalie with her parents, Céline and Jean-Claude. Top Right: Nathalie with Jeff, and her two sisters, Julie and Marie-Claude. Below Right: Nathalie and Jeff.

For the next few weeks, Nathalie visited hospital after hospital in search of finding a more steadfast diagnosis of her condition – and a doctor who would listen to her and treat her symptoms.

“I was weak and vomiting. At this point, I kept losing weight — about 40 pounds in a total of six months.”

She decided to take the situation in her own hands and changed her diet, eliminating gluten, spices, and other major food groups. Nothing seemed to relieve her symptoms. She knew reading about possible medical conditions on the internet could cause additional stress. Having worked in the pharmaceutical industry, she was glad she knew where to look and what sources of information could be trusted.

Continued Search For Answers

“The medical system in Quebec is complicated,” she said. “In this public system, there is no family doctor assigned to you who follows your care year after year. And since I was perceived by the system as a young, relatively healthy woman, I was put on a waiting list for 3 to 4 years to be assigned to a general practitioner.”

Frustrated, hopeless and fearful for her health, Jeff got more involved in her diagnosis and took her to yet another hospital. Nathalie’s search took her from hospital to hospital and doctor to doctor with no known diagnosis.

“I was very angry, disappointed and at the end my rope. I just wanted to feel better and live my life.”

Then, one day, there was a ray of hope – and it took six months to find it. At a nearby hospital called Hôpital de St-Eustache where Jeff decided to take her, she came across two young physicians, Dr. Annie-Claude Bergeron, an emergency room doctor, and Dr. Marie-Hélène Gingras, a gastroenterologist, who happened to be Nathalie’s same age. Dr. Bergeron listened to her symptoms, examined her, and was determined to help her. A day later, Dr. Gingras ran several diagnostic tests, including an endoscopy and ultrasound, and more specialized blood tests.

“While undergoing the endoscopy, the doctor couldn’t find anything remarkable and was about to remove it. She decided to push the camera 5cm farther into my duodenum – and found the cause of my illness.”

Finally, Nathalie had definitive results. She had a 3½ cm (1.4 inches) tumor in her duodenum.

Dr. Gingras was devastated by the news she had to share. She called specialists in Montreal who would operate on Nathalie. Dr. Simon Turcotte, physician, hepatopancreatobiliary and liver transplantation expert who specializes in gastrointestinal cancer immunobiology and solid tumor immunotherapy, took her case.

“When Dr. Gingras told me about my condition, I was relieved and afraid at the same time. My heart sank when I got the news.”

Nathalie had a rare cancerous condition that only shows up in a handful of older people. It also was unusual that the tumor was situated in the duodenum rather than the colon, where most tumors of this variety normally occur. She also didn’t have history of that type of cancer in her family. She couldn’t even be tested for any genetic markers, since no genes have been identified as markers for this rare condition.

So, three weeks later, Nathalie was transferred to Hôpital Saint-Luc in Montreal, for a, hopefully, life-saving surgery. She had to trust her new expert, Dr. Turcotte, with her life.

“There was no room for error in removing the tumor. It was situated 1mm from my pancreas and every other vital organ I needed to survive.”

By nature, Nathalie is a strong, fiercely independent woman and there was no doubt she would come through the operation with flying colors.

About one month after surgery, she was scheduled for six months of chemotherapy to ensure that the cancer was eradicated. One day every two weeks, she received a powerful cocktail of Folfox (Leucovorin®, 5-FU, Adrucil® and Eloxatin®).

“Because of the chemotherapy, I had a minimal appetite, could not taste any food, could not drink or touch anything cold and needed to keep my weight at the same level.”

Her parents, Céline and Jean-Claude, two sisters, Julie and Marie-Claude, and Jeff, of course — were of great support and encouragement for her. Jeff insisted to meet with her nutritionist to determine a health plan so that she received the necessary nutrients in her food. Because Nathalie could not taste any food because of the chemotherapy, she tricked her mind by eating meals that she remembered from her childhood days. In that way, she was transported back in time mentally and she thought about the great food she had when she was growing up. Her parents were always on hand to cook these traditional meals that were filled with protein, spices, salt and fat to give her the added boost (and some taste) to help her system recover.

Duodenum, A Complex, Powerful Organ

Nathalie describes the duodenum as a complex organ – a C-shaped, hollow tube about 25-38 cm (10-15 inches) long, largely responsible for the enzymatic breakdown of food in the small intestine.

“This small but powerful organ is the shortest part of the small intestine which regulates the rate of how the stomach empties.”

According to the Inner Body web site, the duodenum receives partially digested food, called chyme, from the stomach and plays a vital role in the chemical digestion of chyme in preparation for absorption in the small intestine. Many chemical secretions from the pancreas, liver and gallbladder mix with the chyme in the duodenum to help chemical digestion. http://www.innerbody.com/image_dige02/dige21.html

Back to Normal

Nathalie’s life is back to normal, as much as it can be after such a medical ordeal.

“The past is just the past. I try not to think about the trauma that I’ve been through. I look forward as that is what is important.”

She got married last August (2015) to Jeff, who demonstrated his love to her the best way possible in caring for her throughout this ordeal. They met on the internet in 2010, at a moment when Nathalie wanted to leave the dating scene to focus on personal projects. They talked, met shortly after, and became great friends. Only a year later did Nathalie accept to be in a relationship with Jeff.

“About one week after my surgery when I was home, Jeff proposed marriage to me. I was visiting my family for Easter and Jeff had prepared everything. He had first asked my parents for my hand in marriage in the hospital a few weeks prior to my surgery. Then he prepared a charade with answers that related to the strength of his feelings for me. Funny enough, I did not understand what was going on at that point. Little did I know, he was declaring his love and it’s when he showed me a ring that I understood. Of course, I was overwhelmed with emotion and very touched that he got my family involved in the event.

“I am under regular care of my medical team of seven doctors – a gastroenterologist, oncologist surgeon, family general practitioner and many other specialists. I’ve had follow-up appointments at three months, six months, and one year. Those appointments include a gastroscopy, colonoscopy, scan, and blood tests, and so far, my health is the best ever. I like to tease the doctors when I see my charts – I look like an athlete on paper! In our Canadian medical system, each specialist treats only that part of the body. I make sure that all my test results are xeroxed and sent in advance of my appointment to each doctor. That takes time, but I am assured that everyone sees the same test results and can make educated decisions. That also makes for a more holistic view of my life.”

Advocate for Patient’ Rights

“Knowledge, access to information and caregiver support are probably the three most important factors in patient care. Medicine on its own is just not enough. Patients need a support system to balance out the highs and lows of searching through a medical condition, diagnosis and treatment plan. I hope one day to advocate for patient voices as it is a much needed part of our medical system.

“In hindsight, I realize all the doctors who saw me during the six months that I suffered prior to my diagnosis could not have known about my condition, unless they ran more tests. Surprisingly, I had done blood tests before that time for long-term disability insurance. The insurer had refused to insure me without explanation. Starting to be very sick, I did not pursue the work with them to understand their decision. Unfortunately, I learned a few weeks after my surgery that their test revealed the count of a certain type of protein was too high, therefore, too risky for them to insure me. They knew I was seriously sick but took about eight months to let me know. Had the insurer shared their results sooner, had doctors ran similar blood tests, or done a scan, I would have been diagnosed way sooner, which could have resulted in not needing chemotherapy.”

Incidence of Adenocarcinoma

Adenocarcinomas or malignant tumors of the duodenum are extremely rare, uncommon and difficult to manage and treat, according to Drs. P.L. Fagniez and N. Rotman in a book chapter in Surgical Treatment – Evidence-Based and Problem-Oriented, a medical textbook that assesses currently accepted clinical practice that takes into account when recommendations for patient treatment are made.The tumors represent 0.3 percent of gastrointestinal tract tumors and up to 50 percent of small bowel malignancies. They may arise from duodenal polyps or they may be associated with Celiac Disease. Five-year-survival varies widely according to published reports in the medical literature, but it is generally reported to be greater than 40 percent if the tumor is surgically removed. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK6953/.

Due to the low incidence of the disease globally, there is no randomized study comparing different types of treatment. In fact, the medical literature only discusses a small number of patients with this condition, who are usually older, or patients who are seen over a period of time. The treatment plan is complete surgical removal of the tumor, which is the only hope for a cure. Nonetheless, good long-term results have been observed with segmented tumor removal, particularly for tumors of the distal part of the duodenum, according to the same book chapter mentioned in the paragraph above.

A Bright Future Ahead

Nathalie believes in second chances and the value of waking up each and every day to new challenges and opportunities.

“Life is to be lived and enjoyed. I love what I do and I cherish my relationships, my work and my free time. In whatever I do, I give 100 percent.”

She believes she is very lucky to have had the diagnosis at this time of her life.

“In a way, my parents, my family, my husband were always present in my health journey. They followed up on doctors’ appointments, helped me with daily living chores, researched the medical literature, contacted new doctors, and generally, were my sounding board on everything. They were invaluable to me and it was my privilege that I am blessed with such a supportive family.

“I believe the road is set for you in life and it is up to all of us to seize the moment. My condition has given me strength to explore who I am and validate the way I always approach life.”

Nathalie Monette provided her permission to publish this interview on July 30, 2016.

 

Search Title:

Duodenum AND Cancer | Open Studies | Exclude Unknown in ClinicalTrials.gov Database. The search was conducted on July 30, 2016 and there were  45 studies found.

Presented, below, is a Subset of Clinical Trials on the List of 45 Studies related to Duodenum AND Cancer

https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/results?term=duodenum+AND+Cancer&recr=Open&no_unk=Y

SEE LINK, Below for the list of clinical trials currently recruiting:

Subset of Clinical Trials on the List of 45 Studies – Duodenum AND Cancer (6)

Or you may click on the following individual links below for clinical trials that are currently recruiting:

Spectroscopy From Duodenum

Condition: Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma
Intervention: Other: Spectroscopy device

A Randomized Trial of Two Surgical Techniques for Pancreaticojejunostomy in Patients Undergoing Pancreaticoduodenectomy

Conditions: Pancreatic Neoplasms;   Biliary Tract Neoplasms;   Pancreatitis, Chronic;   Duodenal Neoplasms
Intervention: Procedure: pancreaticojejunostomy

Endoscopic Characteristics of Duodenal and Ampullary Lesions

Condition: Duodenal Diseases
Intervention: Other: Tissue Sampling

EUS GUIDED Transduodenal Biopsy Using the 19G Flex

Condition: Abdominal Neoplasms
Intervention: Device: Expect™19Flex needle (Boston Scientific Corp.,Natick,MA,USA)

Study of Gastroduodenal Metallic Stent vs Gastrojejunostomy

Condition: Gastric Cancer
Interventions: Device: gastroduodenal stent placement;   Procedure: gastrojejunostomy

Prevalence of Small Bowel Polyps in Patients With Sporadic Duodenal Adenomas

Condition: Polyps
Intervention: Device: Small bowel video capsule endoscopy (VCE) GIVEN/COVIDIEN LTD

Long-term Outcomes of Endoscopic Resection (ER) of Lesions of the Duodenum and Ampulla

Condition: Adenoma, Villous
Intervention: Procedure: Endoscopic Mucosal Resection

Prophylactic Octreotide to Prevent Post Duodenal EMR and Ampullectomy Bleeding

Condition: Adenoma
Interventions: Drug: octreotide;   Other: No octreotide

 

The Use of a Restrictive Fluid Regimen With Hypertonic Saline for Patients Undergoing Pancreaticoduodenectomy

Condition: Pancreaticoduodenectomy
Interventions: Drug: 3% NaCl Solution;   Drug: Lactated Ringers Solution

Effects of Pancreaticoduodenectomy on Glucose Metabolism

Conditions: Diabetes Mellitus;   Glucose Intolerance
Intervention:  —

 

 

REFERENCES/SOURCES

https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/results?term=duodenum+AND+Cancer&recr=Open&no_unk=Y

http://www.innerbody.com/image_dige02/dige21.html

Other related articles:

Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK6953/.

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

 2016

LIVE 8:10 am – 11:20 am 4/27/2016 Combination Cancer Therapies: Drug Resistance and Therapeutic Index & Cancer Diagnostics: New Uses, New Reimbursements? & New Philanthropy: Patients Driving Innovation@2016 World Medical Innovation Forum: CANCER, April 25-27, 2016, Westin Hotel, Boston

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2016/04/27/live-810-am-1120-am-4272016-combination-cancer-therapies-drug-resistance-and-therapeutic-index-cancer-diagnostics-new-uses-new-reimbursements-new-philanthropy-patients-driving-i/

Colon cancer and organoids

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2016/04/15/colon-cancer-and-organoids/

Checkpoint inhibitors for gastrointestinal cancers

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2016/02/14/checkpoint-inhibitors-for-gastrointestinal-cancers/

2015

Gluten-free Diets

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2015/03/01/gluten-free-diets/

Gastrointestinal Endocrinology

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2015/02/10/gastrointestinal-endocrinology/

 

 

 

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Marcela’s Story:  A Liver Transplant Gives the Gift of Life

Patient is HCV Positive, liver transplanted from a 22-year-old donor performed at age 70. Interview conducted 14 years post-liver transplant.

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

For Marcela Almada Calles of Valle de Bravo, Mexico, a picturesque town on the shores of Lake Avándaro about two hours outside of Mexico City where she has lived for 30 years, life is about seizing the moment and having “an open mind and positive attitude.”  An active woman in her 80’s, Marcela’s days are full of professional and personal achievements and a long list of activities still to accomplish. However, life wasn’t always so positive as she put her life on hold for two-and-a-half years to relocate to Los Angeles, California, so that she could have a liver transplant.

“My spirit and attitude have always been what has carried me through life and difficult situations. This time was no different.”

Image SOURCE: Photographs courtesy of Marcela Almada Calles.   

Marcela’s story started 20 years ago during a time when she operated a successful event planning and catering business for high-profile government and social dignitaries, pharmaceutical companies, and luxury department stores.

“I normally worked long hours from early morning until evening, until one day, I felt exceptionally tired and it became a huge effort to concentrate. My ankles were swollen and I was out of breath all the time and my skin was yellow. I felt sleepy and would sometimes become tired during the day. This was unusual for me. I knew something was not right.”

At that point, Marcela decided to make an appointment with her local physician and friend, Dr. Sergio Ulloa, a highly regarded rheumatologist and corporate and government affairs leader in Mexico, who examined her and took several blood tests. When the blood results came back, Dr. Ulloa immediately referred her to Dr. Sergio Kershenovich, a well-regarded hepatologist, at his private clinic, who checked her for symptoms of Hepatitis C. After that Marcela decided to get another opinion and went to see Dr. Fernando Quijano, a general surgeon, who immediately wanted her to have surgery because he had found a cancerous tumor in her liver.

“My doctors’ opinions were that I needed to have a liver transplant immediately because I was in liver failure. It appeared that I had a failing liver — and a tumor there as well and my liver was not working properly.”

Relocating Life to the United States

At that point, my six children – Marcela, Luis, Diego, Rodolfo, Gabriela, Mario — who live in parts of Mexico and Singapore became involved in my health care decisions and treatment plan.

“My son, Luis, believed the best treatment for me was to see a liver specialist in the United States so that I received the best care from a leading liver transplantation hospital. He made some connections with friends and that next day, Dr. Francisco Durazo, chief of Transplant Hepatology and medical director of the Dumont UCLA Liver Transplant Center in Los Angeles, told me to come immediately to see him. I remember my children were supportive and concerned, but were afraid for me as we all knew that I had a long road ahead of me.”

At that time, she was put on a national liver transplant list by the UCLA Transplant Center.

“What I didn’t know was that more than 9,000 potential recipients are currently awaiting liver transplants.”  http://transplants.ucla.edu/site.cfm?id=397

“Dr. Durazo was very concerned and told me that my liver was not working at all and I had to have a liver transplant as soon as possible, so he asked me to stay in Los Angeles, since I was now part of a transplant list.”

Evaluation By Transplant Team

Marcela’s case is no different than any other patient awaiting a liver transplant. According to their web site, the UCLA Transplant Center conducts evaluations over two or three days. During this time, the patients meets with a social worker, transplant hepatologist, surgeon, transplant coordinator, psychiatrist and dietitian, as well as other specialists as needed. The evaluation is customized to each patient’s medical condition. Once the evaluation is completed, each patient’s case is presented at a weekly meeting of the UCLA Liver Transplant Consultation Team. This group includes specialists from surgery, adult and pediatric hepatology, cardiology, pulmonary, nephrology, hematology, infectious disease, as well as transplant coordinators and social workers. At this time, the team determines if any other tests are required to ensure the patient’s candidacy for transplant, then the patient and the physician are notified of the recommendation made by the transplant team. http://transplants.ucla.edu/site.cfm?id=401

Waiting For Answers

Marcela arrived at UCLA in Los Angeles with her family on Mother’s Day — May 10, 1999 — for what she describes as “the best time in her life to be alive with the help of medicine and technology.” That meant that she needed to rent an apartment and live near the hospital in case the doctors received an anonymous donor who would give her the gift of life.

“I had to wear a beeper 24 hours a day and I was never alone. My children took turns over the next two-and-a-half years to give up their lives with their families to live with me and help me navigate the health care system and my upcoming surgery.”

Marcela filled her days at her new apartment in Los Angeles reading about her condition, meditating to quiet her mind, watching television, and talking with family, friends and neighbors.

“The doctors called me two times over the next few months, saying they had an anonymous liver donor and I needed to come now to the hospital for tests. Unfortunately, those blood tests and other diagnostic tests showed that I was not a good match, so the doctors sent me home. It was a frustrating time because I wanted to have the liver transplant surgery and move on with my life.”

Finally, after waiting eight months for a liver transplant, Marcela’s outlook on life was greatly improved when an anonymous donor gave her the gift of life – a new, healthy liver.

“The donor’s blood type was a match for me. The surgery took eight hours and it was successful. The doctors told me that my immune system might reject my new liver, so I was given a cocktail of medicines, such as anti-rejection drugs, corticosteroids, calcinurin inhibitors, mTOR inhibitors, and antibiotics and watched very closely in the hospital.”

Marcela was then permitted to leave the hospital only a week after her surgery.

“That was the happiest day of my life. My spirits were high and I had a life to live.”

Her children served as her strength.

“My children took turns flying back and forth to Los Angeles to stay with me. They had a long list of instructions from the doctor. I could take some walks and eat small meals for the next few weeks, but I couldn’t exert myself in any way. I developed a cold over the next few weeks, as my immune system was low, so I had to take special care to eat right, get enough sleep and, most of all, relax. My body, spirit and mind had much healing to do.”

For the next 1 ½ years, Los Angeles was my “second” home.

“I needed to remain there after the procedure so my doctors could monitor my progress. During that time, I felt stronger each day. The support of my family was a true blessing for me. They were my eyes and ears – and my greatest advocates. My doctor recommended that I come weekly for check-ups and go through a physical therapy program so that I could regain my liver function and physical strength. I followed all my doctor’s orders.”

Day by day, Marcela believed as if she could conquer the world.

“I decided, one day many months after the surgery, to become ‘irresponsible’ and spent time with a few good friends, Gabriela and Guadalupe, who traveled to see me. For a weekend, we went to Las Vegas to see shows and go to the casinos. I laughed, played and walked all I could. My children didn’t even know what I was up to, but I felt good and wanted to enjoy the world and my new freedom.”

Marcela was able to return home to Valle de Bravo with a fresh perspective, a long list of things to do, and many happy memories.

“Since that time, I have kept myself active and busy; I never let my mind and heart rest. I am also forever grateful to my anonymous liver donor because it is because of a 22-year-old young man who died in an unfortunate automobile accident that I am here today.”

Liver Transplant Facts

The liver is the body’s vital organ that you cannot live without. It serves many critical functions, including metabolism of drugs and toxins, removing degradation products of normal body metabolism and synthesis of many proteins and enzyme, which are necessary for blood to clot. Transplantation is the only cure for liver insufficiency or liver failure because no device or machine reliably performs all the functions of the liver. http://transplant.surgery.ucsf.edu/conditions–procedures/liver-transplantation.aspx

According to a hospital transplant web site, overall, outcomes for liver transplantation are very good, but vary significantly depending on the indication for liver transplant as well as factors associated with the donor. Currently, the overall patient survival one year after liver transplant is 88 percent. Patient survival five years after liver transplant is 73 percent. These results vary significantly based on the indication for liver transplantation. The encouraging trend is that over the past 20 years short- and long-term patient survival has continued to improve. With advances in surgical technique, organ preservation, peri-operative care, and immunosuppression, survival will hopefully continue to improve in the future. http://transplant.surgery.ucsf.edu/conditions–procedures/liver-transplantation.aspx

Life For Marcela Today

Science is helping rebalance medicine with the most innovative discoveries and new ways of treating illness.

“I am happy to be part of the solution with a happy ending, too.”

Today, Marcela leads a rich and full life.

“It’s been 14 years since my liver transplant. I continue to feel healthy and alive. Nothing will keep me from doing what I want to do.”

Marcela has an active social life. She takes frequent vacations around the world, including a three-month holiday to Asia, where she travels multiple times to Bali, Cambodia, China and Singapore, where her daughter lives. She is an avid golfer and organizes tournaments in many private golf courses. She is learning to speak French, which is an easy transition (she says) from speaking Spanish. She plays cards with a group of friends weekly, sings in a musical group, and takes dance lessons, too. Life is very, very good.

Editor’s note: We would like to thank Gabriela Contreras, a global communications consultant and patient advocate, for the tremendous help and support that she provided in locating and scheduling time to talk with Marcela Almada Calles.

Marcela Almada Calles provided her permission to publish this interview on July 21, 2016.

 

REFERENCE/SOURCE 

http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/digestive-diseases-liver-transplantation

Other related articles:

Retrieved from http://transplants.ucla.edu/site.cfm?id=397

Retrieved from http://transplant.surgery.ucsf.edu/conditions–procedures/liver-transplantation.aspx

Retrieved from http://transplant.surgery.ucsf.edu/conditions–procedures/liver-transplantation.aspx

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

2016

AGENDA for Adoptive T Cell Therapy Delivering CAR, TCR, and TIL from Research to Reality, CHI’S 4TH ANNUAL IMMUNO-ONCOLOGY SUMMIT – SEPTEMBER 1-2, 2016 | Marriott Long Wharf Hotel – Boston, MA

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2016/07/15/adoptive-t-cell-therapy-delivering-car-tcr-and-til-from-research-to-reality-chis-4th-annual-immuno-oncology-summit-september-1-2-2016-marriott-long-wharf-hotel-boston-ma/

Technologies For Targeting And Delivering Chemotherapeutics Directly To The Tumour Site

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2016/04/25/technologies-for-targeting-and-delivering-chemotherapeutics-directly-to-the-tumour-site/

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3-D Printed Liver

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2015/11/16/3-d-printed-liver/

Newly discovered cells regenerate liver tissue without forming tumors

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2015/08/16/newly-discovered-cells-regenerate-liver-tissue-without-forming-tumors/

Novel Approaches to Cancer Therapy 

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2015/04/11/novel-approaches-to-cancer-therapy-7-12/

 

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CMS releases MACRA rule proposal: Will HHS force physicians to drop fee for service for fee for outcome?

Streamlined implementation aims to increase flexibility, decrease reporting burden for physicians

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services unveiled a proposed ruletackling the initial implementation of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA).

According to an HHS announcement accompanying the rule, the primary aim is to simplify and streamline the existing patchwork of value-based payment models that have increasingly replaced the traditional fee-for-service system via a new framework dubbed the Quality Payment Program. This structure provides doctors with two paths for compliance:

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services expects most providers to opt for the MIPS track initially, according to CMS Acting Principal Deputy Administrator and Chief Medical Officer Patrick Conway, M.D., who spoke on a conference call announcing the rule.

Participation in Advanced Alternative Payment models would exempt doctors from MIPS reporting requirements while also qualifying them for financial bonuses in exchange for taking on the risks related with providing “coordinated, high-quality care,” according to CMS. The agency expects both the number of physicians participating in this track and the number of payment models available to grow over time.

CMS also reports that doctors will have the flexibility to switch among various components of the Quality Payment Program as dictated by the needs of their patients or their practices.

Opinions from around the web

In this video, Gilberg, senior vice president for the Medical Group Management Association’s Government Affairs Office, discusses CMS’ Physician Value-based Payment Modifier. In 2015, Medicare will begin applying the modifier under the physician fee schedule to various providers to show value of care.

“Cost and quality … make up the value equation, in the mind of the payer, in terms of Medicare,” said Gilberg.

In addition to explaining how the modifier works, Gilberg also highlights other quality measures facing providers under the Physician Quality Reporting System and via the EHR Incentive Programs, better known as meaningful use.

View Video at

http://www.physicianspractice.com/mgma14/understanding-medicare-value-based-payment-models

When the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) legislation passed in April 2015, everyone cheered the repeal of the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula for Medicare physician payment. Now, even before the MACRA regulations are even promulgated, it’s time to pay attention because Medicare physician payments in 2019 will be impacted by their performance in 2017, just a year from now.

Other related articles

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NIMHD welcomes nine new members to the National Advisory Council on Minority Health and Health Disparities

Reporter: Stephen J. Williams, Ph.D.

The National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) has announced the appointment of nine new members to the National Advisory Council on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NACMHD), NIMHD’s principal advisory board. Members of the council are drawn from the scientific, medical, and lay communities, so they offer diverse perspectives on minority health and health disparities.

The NACMHD, which meets three times a year on the National Institutes of Health campus, Bethesda, Maryland, advises the secretary of Health and Human Services and the directors of NIH and NIMHD on matters related to NIMHD’s mission. The council also conducts the second level of review of grant applications and cooperative agreements for research and training and recommends approval for projects that show promise of making valuable contributions to human knowledge.

The next meeting of the NACMHD will be held on Thursday, Sept. 10, 8:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m. on the NIH campus. The meeting will be available on videocast at http://www.videocast.nih.gov.

NIMHD Director Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable, M.D., is pleased to welcome the following new members

Margarita Alegría, Ph.D., is the director of the Center for Multicultural Mental Health Research at Cambridge Health Alliance and a professor in the department of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, Boston. She has devoted her career to researching disparities in mental health and substance abuse services, with the goal of improving access to and equity and quality of these services for disadvantaged and minority populations.

Maria Araneta, Ph.D., a perinatal epidemiologist, is a professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at the University of California, San Diego. Her research interests include maternal/pediatric HIV/AIDS, birth defects, and ethnic health disparities in type 2 diabetes, regional fat distribution, cardiovascular disease, and metabolic abnormalities.

Judith Bradford, Ph.D., is director of the Center for Population Research in LGBT Health and she co-chairs The Fenway Institute, Boston. Dr. Bradford has participated in health research since 1984, working with public health programs and community-based organizations to conduct studies on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and racial minority communities and to translate the results into programs to reduce health disparities.

Linda Burhansstipanov, Dr.P.H., has worked in public health since 1971, primarily with Native American issues. She is a nationally recognized educator on cancer prevention, community-based participatory research, navigation programs, cultural competency, evaluation, and other topics. Dr. Burhansstipanov worked with the Anschutz Medical Center Cancer Research Center — now the University of Colorado Cancer Research Center — in Denver for five years before founding Native American Cancer Initiatives, Inc., and the Native American Cancer Research Corporation.

Sandro Galea, M.D., a physician and epidemiologist, is the dean and a professor at the Boston University School of Public Health. Prior to his appointment at Boston University, Dr. Galea served as the Anna Cheskis Gelman and Murray Charles Gelman Professor and chair of the Department of Epidemiology at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, New York City. His research focuses on the causes of brain disorders, particularly common mood and anxiety disorders, and substance abuse.

Linda Greene, J.D., is Evjue Bascom Professor of Law at the University of Wisconsin–Madison Law School. Her teaching and academic scholarship include constitutional law, civil procedure, legislation, civil rights, and sports law. Most recently, she was the vice chancellor for equity, diversity, and inclusion at the University of California, San Diego.

Ross A. Hammond, Ph.D., a senior fellow in the Economic Studies Program at the Brookings Institution, Washington, D.C., is also director of the Center on Social Dynamics and Policy. His primary area of expertise is using mathematical and computational methods from complex systems science to model complex dynamics in economic, social, and public health systems. His current research topics include obesity etiology and prevention, tobacco control, and behavioral epidemiology.

Hilton Hudson, II, M.D., is chief of cardiothoracic surgery at Franciscan Healthcare, Munster, Indiana and a national ambassador for the American Heart Association. He also is the founder of Hilton Publishing, Inc., a national publisher dedicated to producing content on solutions related to health, wellness, and education for people in underserved communities. Dr. Hilton’s book, “The Heart of the Matter: The African American Guide to Heart Disease, Heart Treatment and Heart Wellness” has impacted at-risk patients nationwide.

Brian M. Rivers, Ph.D., M.P.H., currently serves on the research faculty at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute, Tampa, Florida. He is also an assistant professor in the Department of Oncologic Sciences at the University of South Florida College of Medicine, Tampa. Dr. Rivers’ research efforts include examination of unmet educational and psychosocial needs and the development of communication tools, couple-centered interventions, and evidence-based methods to convey complex information to at-risk populations across the cancer continuum.

NIMHD is one of NIH’s 27 Institutes and Centers. It leads scientific research to improve minority health and eliminate health disparities by conducting and supporting research; planning, reviewing, coordinating, and evaluating all minority health and health disparities research at NIH; promoting and supporting the training of a diverse research workforce; translating and disseminating research information; and fostering collaborations and partnerships. For more information about NIMHD, visit http://www.nimhd.nih.gov.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

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