Heart Scans, Ebola Education, and Metabolic Camp

Learn more about new initiatives in health sciences at Emory. Watch Ebola at Emory: An Extraordinary Year.

Here are a few highlights of what's new in Emory health sciences this month.

Leslie Shaw

Leslee Shaw led a study that accurately
predicted all-cause mortality up to 15
years in asymptomatic patients.

Simple Heart Scan May Help Identify Patients at Risk for Premature Death

A study in the online edition of Annals of Internal Medicine suggests that coronary artery calcification (CAC) scans could help physicians identify patients at risk for premature death.

According to the National Institutes of Health, a CAC is an x-ray test that looks for specks of calcium in the walls of the coronary arteries. These specks of calcium are called calcifications and are an early sign of coronary artery disease.  

Researchers from Emory University School of Medicine, led by Leslee Shaw, PhD, professor of cardiology, collected and assessed CAC scores and risk factor data taken from 9,715 study participants between the years 1996 and 1999.

The patients, who were scanned as part a community-outreach screening program at an outpatient clinic in Nashville, showed no symptoms of coronary artery disease at the time of the scans.

Read the entire article here.

Emory to Lead National Ebola Training and Education Center

The US Department of Health & Human Services announced that Emory University will serve as lead coordinating center of the National Ebola Training and Education Center (NETEC) in collaboration with the University of Nebraska Medical Center and the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (Bellevue Hospital).

With the collective effort between HHS' Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the three academic institutions, the program will support further training of health care providers and facilities on strategies to manage Ebola virus disease and other emerging infectious diseases. The program will be funded for $12 million over the next five years. 

"The goal of the NETEC will be to educate and improve processes to safely identify, isolate, transport and treat patients with emerging threats such as Ebola virus disease, while minimizing risks to health care workers," says Bruce Ribner, MD, medical director of Emory University Hospital's Serious Communicable Disease Unit and principal investigator of the National Ebola Training and Education Center. "Based on the knowledge we have gained from caring for patients with Ebola virus disease, Emory, Nebraska, and Bellevue will develop and teach best practices to other health care workers who could be faced with caring for similar patients in the future."

The objectives of the National Ebola Training and Education Center are to:

- develop metrics to measure facility and health care worker readiness to care for Ebola patients;

- conduct assessments of regional and state Ebola Treatment Centers;

- create and maintain educational materials related to care of patients with possible Ebola and other special pathogens;

- support public health departments and health care facilities through training and technical assistance.

Read the complete article here.

Emory Metabolic Camp Helps Young Women Take Charge of Their Lives

Emory University recently held its 21st annual summer Metabolic Camp for young women with inherited metabolic disorders, including phenylketonuria (PKU) and maple syrup urine disease (MSUD). The research-based camp helps adolescent girls and young women learn to take over the lifelong responsibility for managing their own diets and their own health. Educational programs are interspersed with traditional camping activities.

These rare genetic disorders affect how the body processes protein, and as little as one gram of protein can cause irreversible brain damage or death in individuals with these conditions. With early detection through Georgia’s newborn screening program, children can grow to live normal lives, but they must learn early in life to adhere to a special low-protein diet consisting mainly of a specialized medical formula, along with fruits and vegetables. Females, especially, must follow specific diets before and during pregnancy to avoid maternal PKU (MPKU) and prevent mental retardation in their children.

"Metabolic Camp has had a tremendous impact not only on the quality of life of girls over the years but also on the outcome of the next generation of their children," says Rani Singh, PhD, RD, camp director and director of Emory’s Genetics Metabolic Nutrition Program. "Most of these girls can’t attend other camps because of their special dietary needs, and this allows them to interact with others with their conditions and feel less isolated, while learning things that can save their lives and the lives of their future children."

Read the complete article here.

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Michelle Valigursky