NEWS BLOG from UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

Archive for March, 2016

Pitt Researcher Part of Institute of Medicine’s Review of Science of Ovarian Cancer

Heidi Donovan - 2013Since September 2015, I have had the opportunity to participate on an inter-disciplinary Institute of Medicine committee of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to review the state of the science in ovarian cancer and formulate recommendations for action to advance the field. The charge to the committee by the Center for Disease Control was to:

  • Summarize and examine the state of the science in ovarian cancer research;
  • Identify key gaps in the evidence base and the challenges to addressing those gaps;
  • Consider opportunities for advancing ovarian cancer research; and
  • Examine avenues for translation and dissemination of new findings and communication of new information to patients.

The report, officially released today, emphasizes that “ovarian cancer is not just one disease; rather, it is a constellation of distinct types of cancer involving the ovary.” The committee recommends that research into the most common and lethal epithelial subtypes, high-grade serous carcinoma (HGSC), should be given priority. Recent research suggests that many of these carcinomas do not actually arise in the ovary but rather metastasize from other sites of origin.

Despite need to focus on HGSC, there is need to understand the underlying biology, risks, effective treatments and survivorship needs based on the different sub-types. An essential foundation for all future research is the development and “implementation of a single, uniformly applied nomenclature and classification scheme with standardized diagnostic criteria” to describe the characteristics of each subtype. (more…)

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Research: To Reduce Risk of Dementia, Reduce Risk of Heart Disease

KullerLewis20120426mag[AlanAdams]308Vascular diseases after age 80 is associated with a greater risk of dementia, as is simply living longer, according to new research out of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.

In a small group of participants, the researchers found an association between zero or low levels of artery-clogging calcium deposits and a low risk of dementia and cardiovascular events, suggesting that the cardiovascular risk factors that lead to coronary heart disease could also affect the brain. Increasingly, successful heart disease prevention and treatment methods have also led to longer lifespans, which in turn creates a larger population of older people at risk for dementia, according to the research published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

“If delay or prevention of atherosclerosis resulted in the reduction or slowing of progression of brain disease and subsequent incidence of dementia, then there is the potential for a very substantial impact on reducing the majority of dementia in very old ages,” said Lewis H. Kuller, M.D., Dr.P.H., lead author of the study and emeritus professor in Pitt Public Health’s Department of Epidemiology. “There is a need to test such hypotheses by substantially modifying risk factors, slowing the progression of atherosclerosis and determining whether such an effect will substantially reduce the incidence of dementia and specific neuropathology among older patients.” (more…)

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