Marijuana (Cannabis sativa) is the illicit drug most commonly used by teenagers in the United States. Although cannabis is not as addictive as other substances, such as heroin and cocaine, cannabis-dependent individuals still greatly outnumber those reporting dependence on other illicit drugs and the number of people seeking treatment for cannabis dependence continues to increase yearly. Despite these facts, there is a growing perception, particularly in adolescents and young adults, that cannabis is ‘harmless’ and there is currently much debate as to whether cannabis should be legalized. Unfortunately, most of the discussion and policies being made regarding cannabis have been done without significant consideration of scientific data. Our studies directly address the question regarding the long-term impact on the brain as a consequence of cannabis exposure during adolescence, a period of dynamic brain development.
Is it possible to rapidly elevate the depressed mood? This has been a pressing question over the past 50 years because classic antidepressants, such as Prozac, are known to take weeks to reach clinical efficacy; combining medications to enhance antidepressant outcomes may take even longer, generally months. Mount Sinai has put forth enormous efforts to develop rapid treatments for major depressive disorder. Currently, ketamine treatment and deep brain stimulation are being investigated in clinical research and trials for treatment-resistant depressed patients at Mount Sinai.
Mount Sinai faculty has also been dedicated to the discovery of novel antidepressant treatments. As a faculty member in the Department of Pharmacology & Systems Therapeutics, as well as the Department of Neuroscience and Friedman Brain Institute, I am one of the neuroscientists working to reveal new drug and brain stimulation targets in animal models for the rapid treatment of depression.
The prevalence rate for depression in the United States is nearly 7%, yet standard antidepressants produce full remission in only 30-40% of patients. Even when treatment is effective, patients require 2-4 weeks to achieve the full therapeutic effects. Adding to the problem, there are currently no biological diagnostic tests to predict depression, forcing clinicians to diagnose based upon clusters of non-specific overlapping behavioral symptoms. Thus, in the Russo lab, we are interested in identifying novel biological targets to predict depression and treat it more rapidly and effectively.
A novel study of high-sugar consumption in Drosophila fruit flies is leading researchers at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai to a greater understanding of diabetes-related heart disease, and to therapeutic targets that could ultimately prevent arrhythmia, fibrosis, and other serious heart conditions.
The research—led by Ross L. Cagan, PhD, Professor of Developmental and Regenerative Biology, and Associate Dean of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences—was conducted in partnership with scientists from the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute in California, and published online in the January 10 issue of PLOS Genetics.
The Department of Psychiatry at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai has opened a new center to investigate and treat tics, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and related disorders, which are estimated to affect more than 2 million people in the United States. The new center, at 1240 Park Avenue and 96th Street, serves patients in a clinical setting that is located down the hall from a research facility that will conduct clinical trials, genetic analysis, and functional brain imaging to learn more about the disorders.
Operated by the Division of Tic, Obsessive-Compulsive, and Related Disorders (DTOR), the center “is in the vanguard of academic psychiatry because it embraces the concept that tic disorders and OCD frequently overlap and are life-cycle disorders, not separate child and adult disorders,” says Wayne Goodman, MD, Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at Icahn School of Medicine, and the Esther and Joseph Klingenstein Professor of Psychiatry. “We are among the first medical centers to put this important concept into practice in a way that improves patient care and research.”
- Pre-med science requirements were established almost 100 years ago and have not changed since then despite extraordinary advances in clinical medicine and biomedical science.
- These requirements consume an enormous amount of time and energy, detracting severely from what should be an enriching, stimulating college education.
- The Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) is an expensive (between the tests fees and pre courses), time-consuming hurdle that perpetuates the need to focus on memorization of facts and competition for grades.
More than 100 years ago, Abraham Flexner reformed medical education throughout the nation. He was considered visionary and is responsible for establishing what we currently consider to be the gold standard for how medicine is taught, both in medical school and in preparing for medical school. Since then, medicine and science have changed more rapidly than any other field, with the possible exception of information technology. Yet educators at both the college and medical school levels have failed to refresh his vision and align the physician training with society’s needs. We’ve also perpetuated the notion that everyone has to be taught the same requirements in lockstep, with little room for flexible, individualized, and self-directed learning.
As a first-year neurosurgery resident at Mount Sinai, I am continuously reminded of the seamless integration of innovative surgical technology and its ability to positively affect the outcomes of our patients. In fact, when I was a medical student at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, I remember being fascinated by the “high-tech” feel of a neurosurgical operating room. Everything, from the microscope, to the cranial and spinal navigation systems seemed like something straight out of a science fiction movie. I realized that neurosurgery was a rapidly evolving field that was fueled by cutting-edge technology. It is one the reasons why I ultimately decided to join the ranks of the neurosurgeons I always idealized as a medical student. With this in mind, I am excited for the opportunity to describe my experiences with the launch our neurosurgery department’s NeuroTouch Simulation Project.
To provide a bit of background, in 2009, the National Research Council of Canada introduced the NeuroTouch, a one-of-a-kind physics-based virtual simulator for cranial micro-neurosurgery training. The development of similar virtual reality simulation devices within the past decade has enabled residents to practice basic surgical procedures in a risk-free environment. These devices have progressively increased in sophistication, playing an increasingly important role in the education and training of new surgeons. In September 2012, The Department of Neurosurgery at Mount Sinai Medical Center became the first in the United States to purchase the NeuroTouch Simulator.
Valentin Fuster, MD, PhD, Director of Mount Sinai Heart, presented landmark research on diabetes and heart disease at the American Heart Association (AHA) Scientific Sessions 2012. During the conference, the AHA also honored Dr. Fuster with its 2012 Research Achievement Award for his many significant contributions to cardiovascular medicine.
“With a laser-like focus on translational research, Dr. Fuster has added greatly to our understanding of the pathogenesis of coronary artery disease and thrombosis,” says AHA President Donna Arnett, PhD, MSPH. “Among his laboratory’s provocative advancements in medical science are numerous ‘firsts,’ including the original understanding of the role of platelets in heart disease and the revelation that plaque composition plays a crucial role in propensity for a heart lesion to rupture.”
Children with food allergies are frequently bullied by classmates but experience less psychological distress when their parents are aware of it, according to researchers at The Mount Sinai Medical Center, who surveyed 251 families during their visits to Mount Sinai’s Jaffe Food Allergy Institute in 2011.
The study—published online in the December 24, 2012, issue of Pediatrics—found that as many as 45.4 percent of the children, ages 8-17, reported being bullied, and 31.5 percent reported that food allergy was the reason.
“Parents and clinicians need to ask children with food allergies if they have been bullied,” says the study’s lead author Eyal Shemesh, MD, Chief of the Division of Behavioral and Developmental Health in the Department of Pediatrics at The Mount Sinai Medical Center. “Bullying is prevalent. Kids often don’t tell their parents, and it is important to know this is an issue.”
This article was written by Alexa Mieses, a first-year medical student, and first published in The Rossi: Medical Student Quarterly Report.
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai is known for innovation within the realms of patient care, research, and medical education. Training future physicians requires a commitment to progress, and the newest addition to the medical school’s curriculum is no exception: In the spring of 2013, handheld ultrasound will be introduced to enhance students’ and trainees’ clinical skills and generation of a differential diagnosis by reinforcing anatomic and physiologic principles.
Unlike traditional ultrasound, bedside ultrasound is performed at the point of care, not in an imaging suite. Handheld ultrasound – an even more recent technology – is small enough to fit in the palm of a hand, with a screen roughly the size of a smart phone. Compared to traditional ultrasound, these devices are more portable and less expensive, although the quality of image may be compromised.