Medical Staff Pulse Newsletter

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Upcoming CME Conferences

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CME Newsletter - March 2014 (PDF)


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Recognition for Black, Kim, Shah, Wang

Physician News

Air District Awards Grant to Pollution Study Led by Black

Researchers at the Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute and Department of Neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai will conduct a study to determine if several potentially toxic compounds that exist in polluted air are capable of entering the brain from the bloodstream and causing brain cancer.

The research, funded by a grant from the Brain & Lung Tumor and Air Pollution Foundation for the South Coast Air Quality Management District, will be done in laboratory mice.

The principal investigator is Keith L. Black, MD, chair and professor of the Department of Neurosurgery, director of the Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute, director of the Johnnie L. Cochran Jr. Brain Tumor Center and the Ruth and Lawrence Harvey Chair in Neuroscience.

The National Toxicology Program, an interagency program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Institute of Environmental Health Services, part of the National Institutes of Health, has identified 13 chemicals that have caused brain tumors. The Cedars-Sinai study will focus on three – naphthalene, butadiene and isoprene – that often are associated with polluted air.

Kim Leads Study Turning Tumors Into Their Own Vaccines

Researchers in the Cedars-Sinai Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute eradicated solid tumors in laboratory mice using a novel combination of two targeted agents. These two synergistic therapies stimulate an immune response, ultimately allowing solid tumors to act as their own cancer-fighting vaccine.

The lead author of the study was Hyung Lae Kim, MD, co-medical director of the Urologic Oncology Program.

The study's findings, published in the journal Cancer Research, are the first to use these combined agents as an immune stimulator and may have the potential to kill cancerous cells in solid tumors, including some of the most aggressive cancers that form in the lung and pancreas. Investigators hope to bring this science to early-phase clinical trials in coming months.

"Instead of administering a cancer vaccine to destroy tumors, we hope to modify the immune system to allow the patient's own tumor to act as a cancer vaccine," Kim said. "This approach differs from traditional methods, where the immune system is stimulated by administering a vaccine."

Among the other investigators involved in the study were Robert Figlin, MD, deputy director of the Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute, and Yanping Wang, MD.

Computed Tomography Society Honors Shah

Prediman K. Shah, MD, director of the Oppenheimer Atherosclerosis Research Center and the Atherosclerosis Prevention and Treatment Center, has received the Arthur S. Agatston Cardiovascular Disease Prevention Award from the Society of Cardiovascular Computed Tomography.

The award, which honors pioneering efforts toward preventing coronary artery disease, recognized Shah for his lifelong contributions. In particular, the organization cited his leading research in understanding atherosclerosis and vascular inflammation — the processes that lead to clogged arteries, heart attacks and stroke.

Shah, professor of Medicine and Cardiology and the Shapell and Webb Family Chair in Clinical Cardiology, will receive the award July 11 in San Diego at the society’s annual scientific meeting.

Wang Leads Study on Alzheimer's Indicators in the Eye 

Investigators at the Cedars-Sinai Regenerative Medicine Institute have discovered eye abnormalities that may help reveal features of early-stage Alzheimer's disease. Using a laboratory rat model of Alzheimer's disease and high-resolution imaging techniques, researchers correlated variations of the eye structure, to identify initial indicators of the disease.

The lead author of the study was Shaomei Wang, MD, PhD, an associate professor in the Regenerative Medicine Institute and Department of Biomedical Sciences. The findings were published in the journal Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science.

Using both animal models and postmortem human retinas from donors with Alzheimer's disease, researchers found changes in the retinal pigment epithelial layer, which harbors the supportive cells located in the back of the eye, and in the thickness of the choroidal layer that has blood vessels providing nutrients to the retina. Changes in these two regions were detected using sophisticated, state-of-the-art imaging and immunological techniques.

With high-resolution, microscopic imaging and visual acuity measurements, investigators were able to monitor tissue degeneration in the cell layer and vascular layer at the back of the eye, as well as decline in visual function, that were strongly associated with Alzheimer's disease.

Among the other investigators involved in the study was Bin Lu, MD, PhD.