Media Coverage

Richard D. Blondell, MD, professor of family medicine and vice chair for addiction medicine, was interviewed on why rapidly taking patients off opioids might not be a good idea. The story discusses a letter, published by international experts in the journal Pain Medicine, that outlines risks associated with forcing patients off opioids too quickly, and calls on U.S. policymakers to develop realistic guidelines. Blondell, who was not among authors of the letter, said: “Whether it’s a fast taper or a slow taper, the big question is — well, what do you do after that?” said Blondell, who was not among authors of the letter. “What we really need is better science, not more politics. … In my experience, when you have global recommendations based on expert opinions and you try to apply those to individual patients at individual clinics, there’s a lot that gets lost in translation.”
Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences researchers have developed a tool that lets medical professionals analyze images without having to rely on engineering expertise to interpret medical images. “We have created an automatic, human-in-the-loop segmentation tool for pathologists and radiologists,” said Pinaki Sarder, PhD, associate professor of pathology and anatomical sciences. “With our system, you don't have to know any machine learning. Now medical professionals can do structure annotation by themselves.”
Research led by Jonathan F. Lovell, associate professor of biomedical engineering, has provided a breakthrough in efforts to boost the efficacy of malarial transmission-blocking vaccines to help reduce the spread of the disease that kills more than 400,000 people annually. “For some decades, researchers have been working on a novel idea called a ‘transmission-blocking vaccine.’ This vaccine is different from traditional vaccines that protect the recipient from getting the disease. Here, the vaccine blocks the transmission of the parasite that causes malaria from an infected human host to mosquitoes,” Lovell said. Research was conducted in the Lovell Lab.
An article about the impact the partial government shutdown is having on broad segments of society interviews Anthony D. Martinez, MD, clinical associate professor of medicine and an addiction medicine specialist, who has been able to help about 95 patients by prescribing suboxone to help wean them off opioids. The article notes that the federal government mandates that doctors prescribe the drug to no more than 100 patients unless they apply for a waiver that allows them to treat up to 275 people, but with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration shut down, waivers aren’t being processed.
A story on health tips interviews Lori E. Ullman, MD, associate professor and chair of dermatology, about how to beat dry skin in the winter when cold temperatures and less humid air can take a toll on people’s skin. People shouldn’t bathe or shower excessively in the winter, she said, adding, "The benefits of not using soap all over your body far outweigh the benefits of stripping the natural oils off the skin."
Nancy H. Nielsen, MD, PhD, senior associate dean for health policy and former president of the American Medical Association, was interviewed about the Medicare for All proposals from Bernie Sanders and other Democratic presidential candidates. “Sanders has this very expansive view where Medicare would cover things that are not covered now like vision and dental,” she said, noting that Sanders is short on details regarding how the program would be paid for. “He also has zero cost-sharing. There isn’t a developed country that has universal health care that has zero cost-sharing.”
Dennis Z. Kuo, MD, associate professor of pediatrics and chief of the Division of General Pediatrics, was interviewed about a new six-in-one vaccine for children and whether it makes the immunization process easier for parents and children. “I think that any time you have another combination vaccine it makes the process easier because we do give a number of vaccines … so if you can reduce the number of shots we give it definitely helps,” he said.
An article about efforts by the police department in Stockton, California, one of the nation’s most dangerous cities, to help officers learn how to talk about their feelings and better cope with the stress of the job reports a UB study found that between 9 and 19 percent of officers nationally are at risk for PTSD. The article notes Janet L. Shucard, PhD, associate professor of clinical neurology, and her team “hypothesize that PTSD impairs the attention and response control processes that are necessary for rapid and accurate decision-making.”
Bianca Weinstock-Guttman, MD, professor of neurology, is quoted in an article about a company that is seeking a fast-track designation from the FDA for a cannabis-based pharmaceutical candidate for the treatment of multiple sclerosis. “Cannabis appears to be beneficial for spasticity and additional symptoms in MS patients,” she said.
New research suggests that lupus is linked to the overgrowth of certain bacteria in the intestines. “The results showed that lupus patients have gut microbiome patterns different from healthy individuals, and these changes correlated with disease activity,” said Jessy J. Alexander, PhD, research professor of medicine.
Research by Zhen Yan, PhD, SUNY Distinguished Professor of physiology and biophysics, suggests it may eventually be possible to reverse memory loss in Alzheimer’s patients by focusing on gene changes caused by influences other than DNA sequences. “An epigenetic approach can correct a network of genes, which will collectively restore cells to their normal state and restore the complex brain function,” she said.
John B. Ortolani, MD, assistant professor of surgery, is interviewed for an article about genetic testing and what it can tell individuals about their future health risks. Ortolani said a thorough family health history can help genetic counselors decide if testing is warranted and, should a positive test for mutations result, if specialists need to set up more frequent health screenings.
A story about the death four years ago of former Buffalo Sabres defenseman Steve Montador, who was diagnosed after his passing with CTE, the neurodegenerative brain disease linked to repeated head trauma, interviews John J. Leddy, MD, clinical professor of orthopaedics and director of UB’s Concussion Management Clinic, who coauthored a study that called into question the role of contact sports in CTE. “When we tested them formally and compared them to control athletes, we found no significant evidence of cognitive differences,” he said. “Clearly this is not a phenomenon that you’re inevitably going to get. CTE is real. It happens to some players. The problem we have right now is that based on our current science, we don’t know who is at risk for it.”
A study by John J. Leddy, MD, clinical professor of orthopaedics, and Barry S. Willer, PhD, professor of psychiatry, published in JAMA Pediatrics shows that adolescents who followed a supervised, sub-symptom threshold aerobic exercise program after sustaining a sport-related concussion recovered more quickly than adolescents with concussion who did simple stretches. “We think exercise actually restores control to the autonomic nervous system, which is clearly affected by concussion,” Leddy said.
A new study by John J. Leddy, MD, clinical professor of orthopaedics and director of UB’s Concussion Management Clinic, and Barry S. Willer, PhD, professor of psychiatry, found that teens who suffer a sports-related concussion are likely to improve more quickly if they start aerobic exercise within a few days under the guidance of a health care specialist. “The data provide preliminary evidence that a primary benefit of early subthreshold exercise treatment is a reduced incidence of delayed recovery (greater than 30 days), which is potentially a very important result,” the authors write.