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U of M expert: Vaccination rates are good but we can do better

Photo: DoDEA/CC 2.0/flic.kr/p/mCmBEW

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released the latest vaccination numbers for more than 4.2 million kindergarteners across 49 states and the District of Columbia. The vaccination rate remains relatively high, but there are still pockets across the U.S. where vaccination rates are lower than they should be, leaving young unvaccinated children vulnerable to preventable, dangerous and potentially deadly diseases.

In a statement, the CDC said vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks can still occur where unvaccinated persons cluster in schools and communities.

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research-and-clinical-trials

University of Minnesota study: More effective alcohol policies ignored while less effective passed into law

Photo: Mike Knlec/CC 2.0/flic.kr/p/pcLepZ

What works to prevent alcohol-related deaths and binge drinking isn’t always what makes it into law. A new study finds that policymakers are significantly more likely to adopt ineffective alcohol policies than they are to adopt effective ones. Researchers at the University of Minnesota and Boston University tracked 29 different state alcohol control policies from 1999 through 2011 and found that that none of the policies rated to be the most effective for reducing excessive drinking were either adopted or strengthened during the study period. During that same period they noted an increase in adoption of policies that were comparatively less effective, or that targeted only youth drinking or impaired driving.

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U of M, St. Jude Medical partner to tackle Parkinson’s disease, depression

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared on Inquiry.

University of Minnesota researchers and St. Jude Medical are collaborating to treat some of the most challenging and debilitating movement and neuropsychiatric disorders using deep brain stimulation (DBS), a treatment which uses electrical current to directly stimulate parts of the brain. The project is part of MnDRIVE (Minnesota’s Discovery, Research and InnoVation Economy), a $36 million biennial investment by the state that aims to solve grand challenges in areas that align with Minnesota’s industries, including discoveries and treatments for brain conditions.

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I got my flu shot today and here’s why you should, too

Today I did something that could help safeguard my community from getting a potentially deadly infectious disease. Before you begin to think I did something heroic, I did something so simple it may surprise you (sans the title of this blog post): I got my flu shot.

Yes, it’s that simple folks. I got my flu shot. It took less than 30 seconds and the pain involved from the flu shot was far less than the pain involved in getting the actual flu.

I’ve heard many excuses or explanations as to why people choose not to get a flu shot, and many are rooted in myth, not fact. Health Talk even debunked many common flu shot myths in a blog post in 2013.

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research-and-clinical-trials

Research Snapshot: Unmatched insights into deep brain stimulation through MRI

U of M researchers are developing three-dimensional patient-specific anatomical models of the brain that allows physicians to identify and pinpoint an exact target location for deep brain stimulation.

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a procedure that is used to treat movement disorders including Parkinson’s disease, tremor and dystonia. To improve symptoms, a DBS lead (insulated wire) is surgically inserted deep within the brain in sites known to control movement.

Electrical impulses are sent from the neurostimulator, also known as a brain pacemaker, to the lead implanted in the brain. The stimulation changes the pattern of electrical activity in the brain into a more normal pattern, thereby improving symptoms and returning more normal movement to patients.

Choosing the target location for the lead is of critical importance. Standard protocol among physicians around the world is to use a brain atlas developed from two French women who donated their brains to science many years ago. From there physicians superimpose the patient’s own brain MRI images and calculate a plan to implant the electrodes in the brain.

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Research Snapshot: MRI helps find cancer needle in a haystack

Photo: John Pavelka/CC by 2.0

In previous posts, Health Talk took you inside the broad capabilities and applications of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in research efforts at the U of M’s Center for Magnetic Resonance Research (CMRR).

According to Curtis Corum, Ph.D., assistant professor of radiology in CMRR, finding small tumors can be like finding needles in a haystack. Because catching cancer early – when tumors are at their smallest – can be essential to treatment success, finding those needles is important work. So what if the task could be made less challenging? What if there was a way to remove the haystack so that only needles remained?

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