December 21, 2012
By David Martin
This has been a very newsworthy year at the University of Kansas Medical Center. Our faculty, researchers and students — and the work they do — made local, regional and national news in 2012. Here are some of the highlights:
KU Cancer Center receives NCI designation
The University of Kansas Cancer Center's designation as a National Cancer Institute cancer center probably generated more news coverage than any single story out of KU Medical Center this year. The KU Cancer Center became the nation's 67th nationally designated center, and political and university leaders hailed the event as transformational for the state and region. Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services and a former Kansas governor, made the official announcement at the event on July 12, 2012.
The Lawrence Journal-World story on NCI designation
National news networks visit Salina
As university leaders intended, the School of Medicine Medicine–Salina is emerging as a model for addressing the critical shortage of physicians in rural areas. In the span of a week, the campus, now in its second year, was featured on Fox News and CBS News. The team from the CBS Evening News was especially thorough: A producer and photographer spent two days in Kansas, collecting footage in three different counties. The itinerary included a visit to the community where first-year medical student JuliAnne Rathbun grew up. Rathbun was interviewed about her intention to practice medicine in a rural area as she stood outside her grandparents' farmhouse in Marion County.
The CBS News story on Salina
The Fox News story on Salina
Education leaders sign nursing agreement
An innovative agreement between the KU School of Nursing and 18 regional community colleges that would help nurses advance their education and careers garnered a lot of media attention across the state. The agreement provides nurses with an associate's degree in nursing from a participating college the opportunity to receive their bachelor of science in nursing from KU's online RN-to-BSN program.
The Kansas Health Institute story on the School of Nursing community college agreement
Study identifies relationship between obesity and rural residency
Rural Americans are more likely to obese than their urban counterparts, according to a study led by Christie Befort, Ph.D., assistant professor of preventive medicine and public health. The study looked at measured heights and weights — not self-reported data, which is less reliable than numbers produced by a scale. Befort talked with several journalists about the research, which appeared in The Journal of Rural Health. The online arms of ABC News and the Los Angeles Times were among the media outlets to report on the findings. In interviews, Befort identified cultural diet and physical isolation as two reasons why rural residents are more likely to pack on unwanted pounds.
The ABC News story on Dr. Christie Befort's research on rural obesity
Male contraceptive research makes 'The Colbert Report'
In February, The Kansas City Star ran a lengthy feature about the efforts of Joseph Tash, Ph.D., professor of molecular and integrative physiology, and his colleagues to develop a birth control pill for men. Several media outlets – including a newspaper in Poland – picked up on the story about the science and its potentially profound effect on family planning. The prospect of a "male pill" also appeared in Science magazine, was discussed by a panel of Today show guests and served as grist for satirist Stephen Colbert, who joked on his Comedy Central show that Tash and his team were "spermicidal maniacs."
The Colbert Report on the birth control pill for men
Clincal Research Center featured on public television
In the fall of 2012, KCPT, the public television station in Kansas City, aired an in-depth profile of the researchers and work going on at the KU Clinical Research Center. The facility is the home to the KU Cancer Center's early phase clinical trials program; to Frontiers: The Heartland Institute for Clinical and Translational Research, a regional, multi-institutional effort that is part of a national network to speed the transformation of laboratory discoveries into treatments and cures; and to the new KU Alzheimer's Disease Center, which is one of just 29 national Alzheimer's Disease Centers.
KCPT's The Local Show (Frontiers segment begin at about the 15:30 mark)
Food advertising molds young minds
The average child in the U.S. sees more than 5,000 food advertisements a year. Technology at the Hoglund Brain Imaging Center is helping researchers understand what kind of impressions these messages are leaving. Amanda Bruce, Ph.D., a psychologist with faculty appointments at the University of Missouri–Kansas City and KU Medical Center, led a study that used functional magnetic resonance imaging to see how children's brains respond to food logos. The study found that obese children showed greater activation in some reward regions of the brain than children who maintain a healthy weight. Bruce discussed the study with a CBS News division that distributes content to local television stations and other media oulets.
The CBS News story on food branding
KU ophthalmologists discuss aging eyes with 'The New York Times'
Fading eyesight is not just something that accompanies old age. A growing body of evidence suggests that aging eyes contribute to the health issues older Americans face. Patricia Turner, M.D., clinical associate professor of ophthalmology, and Martin Mainster, M.D., professor of ophthalmology, talked to a New York Times reporter about the role of environmental light in sleep and health, a subject they have studied extensively. The Times story described how aging lenses gradually lose their ability to transmit the light necessary to stimulate the circadian system. Studies have linked disrupted circadian rhythms to health problems such as insomnia, depression and heart disease. Mainster and Turner told the Times that with aging, people should make an effort to expose themselves to increased natural lighting, especially in the morning. The article mentioned that they had installed skylights in their home offices.
The New York Times story with Drs. Turner and Mainster