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Healthy fun for the young

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – It's clear that American children aren't participating in the same healthy activities in their everyday lives as they used to. Playing video games and munching fast food have taken over riding bikes and eating healthy food. To help kids learn to make healthier choices, second-year students at the West Virginia University School of Pharmacy hope to educate members of Big Brothers Big Sisters on how being active and healthy can also be fun. The WVU student pharmacists will be hosting a kid’s health fair at the WVU Student Recreation Center on Saturday, Feb. 5, from noon to 3 p.m. The “Be Active, Eat Right, Have Fun!” event will offer information on topics promoting different aspects of healthy living, such as tobacco awareness and nutrition. Children will also have the opportunity to participate in physical fitness activities such as climbing the rock wall and playing Wii fitness games. “Being in a healthcare field, we understand how important it is to lead a healthy lifestyle,” second-year student pharmacist Mary Ann Kuykendall said. “We hope this event will teach the kids in Big Brothers Big Sisters how important, yet fun, it is to be and get healthy.” The student pharmacists chose this activity to focus on several specific objectives of the Healthy People 2020 initiative: tobacco, fitness and nutrition. “Our goal is to provide the members of Big Brothers Big Sisters with the tools they need to make better, healthier choices,” Kuykendall said. All Big Brothers Big Sisters participants will receive educational handouts to remind them of what they learned at the health fair and goody bags that contain healthy snacks, fitness toys and T-shirts made for the event that were generously donated by Gabriel Brothers. The student pharmacists were partnered with the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization through the WVU Center for Civic Engagement as part of their Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experience (IPPE) courses. The students received funding for the activity through the Mountains of Hope Cancer Coalition and UnitedHealth HEROES Youth Service of America grants. For more information about the WVU School of Pharmacy, visit www.hsc.wvu.edu/sop.   [...]

The Wellness Program at WVU Health Sciences offers Dr. Dean Ornish’s ‘The Spectrum’

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Chronic diseases — such as heart disease and diabetes — are among the leading causes of death and disability in the United States, accounting for seven out of 10 deaths among Americans each year. To impact this trend, The Wellness Program of the West Virginia University Health Sciences Campus is offering “The Spectrum,” a six-week educational program based on the best-selling book and research of Dr. Dean Ornish. The program was designed for individuals who want to prevent disease, reduce the risks for developing a chronic condition or learn to adopt lifestyle changes that can help manage diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. It provides a personalized approach to customize a way of eating, managing stress and exercise that is based on each individual’s desires, needs and genetic predispositions. Spectrum helps people identify where they are on the health continuum, offering them a full range of optimum lifestyle choices. “This serves as a powerful change tool for individuals who may or may not have heart disease or other chronic conditions but want to take a proactive approach to their health to turn back the clock on metabolic changes that may predispose them to disease,” Dave Harshbarger, director of the Dr. Dean Ornish Program for Reversing Heart Disease, said. Classes begin Tuesday, Feb. 15 and meet for six consecutive Tuesdays from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the John E. Jones Conference Center at the WVU Health Sciences Center. For more information, call The Wellness Program at 304-293-2520.   [...]

WVU School of Dentistry receives support for faculty retreats

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Thanks to retired faculty member Don Morrison, D.D.S., and his wife Mary, this winter’s West Virginia University School of Dentistry faculty retreat was a little more fulfilling. The Morrisons created the Dr. Don and Mary Morrison School of Dentistry Faculty Enhancement Fund to provide support for meal and facility fees at faculty retreats. After teaching and practicing periodontics at WVU from 1968 until his retirement in 1997, Dr. Morrison felt that faculty should be able to have the kinds of enriching, interactive experiences that WVU provides to students. “Retreats provide an opportunity for everyone to hear the same information at the same time. This creates better coordination of clinical and educational management within the school. Plus, retreats allow interaction between faculty that is not possible in busy clinics and classrooms,” Morrison said. “Hopefully retired faculty and others will help enlarge the fund.” Louise Veselicky, D.D.S., interim dean of the School of Dentistry, said, “This gift will allow for critical faculty gatherings through which consensus, educational opportunities, team building and communication can be enhanced – ultimately increasing the quality of all of our programs at the School of Dentistry and beyond.” The Morrisons still reside in Morgantown where they are active supporters of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, the local Red Cross and Mon-Preston Literacy Volunteers. Don Morrison is a graduate of Drake University, the University of Iowa and Ohio State University. Mary Morrison is a graduate of Drake University and teaches cello and piano through the WVU Community Music Program. She is also on the music staff at Suncrest United Methodist Church and directs the handbell choir. This gift was made through the WVU Foundation, a private non-profit corporation that generates and provides support for West Virginia University. Image Caption: Mary Morrison and Don Morrison, D.D.S., pose for a photo with Louise Veselicky, D.D.S., interim dean of the WVU School of Dentistry, in the foyer of the WVU Erickson Alumni Center.   [...]

Bob Evans in Mason to host fundraiser for WVU Children’s Hospital, Children’s Miracle Network

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – If you’re headed out to dinner in the Mason area on Feb. 15, stop into the Bob Evans on Mallard Lane for the Community Fun Night benefiting West Virginia University Children’s Hospital and Children’s Miracle Network. During the event, from 4 to 8 p.m., Bob Evans will donate 15 percent of sales to Children’s Miracle Network when patrons present a Community Fun Night flier. WVU Children’s Hospital is the only Children’s Miracle Network hospital in West Virginia. Each year, WVU Children’s Hospital provides care to more than 7,000 newborns and children, who come from every county in West Virginia and also from Pennsylvania, Maryland and Ohio. On average, 1,600 babies are born annually at WVU Children’s Hospital. Almost three-quarters of the deliveries are high-risk. WVU Children’s Hospital physicians provide care for children at the hospital in Morgantown and at clinics throughout the state. “In order to treat all the children who come through our doors we need people in the community to come out and support fundraising events like this one,” Cheryl Jones, R.N., director of WVU Children’s Hospital, said. “In 2009, we treated more than 30 kids from Mason County, and we’ll be here for all those who need us in the future.” To obtain a flier, contact the Mason Bob Evans at 304-773-6112 or Lora Edgell, Children’s Miracle Network director for WVU Children’s Hospital, at 304-598-4346 ext. 2 or edgelll@wvuhealthcare.com. Fliers must be obtained in advance of the event. For more information on WVU Children’s Hospital, see www.wvukids.com.   [...]

New York trip to benefit WVU Children’s Hospital, Children’s Miracle Network

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – An upcoming bus trip to New York City will raise money for West Virginia University Children’s Hospital and Children’s Miracle Network. The trip is sponsored by Results Radio and Froggy 99 in Parkersburg. “We are honored to work with such a worthwhile charity. We look forward to taking a fun bunch of folks along to enjoy springtime in the city, while we help those whose children are in great medical need,” Stephanie Sams, organizer of the fundraiser from Results Radio, said. On Thursday, May 12, two luxury tour buses will depart Parkersburg at midnight for a “Super Red-Eye.” This souped-up tour, created by Arts and Culture Tours in Parkersburg and Belpre, Ohio, includes an overnight stay at the New York Marriott Marquis in the center of Times Square. Each passenger will be contributing $15 of his or her fare to the cause, and the group hopes to raise $1,500. The tour bus will arrive in Times Square at approximately 9 a.m. The group will have all day to sightsee and shop. The next morning, travelers will have the whole day on their own before meeting back at the hotel to depart at 4 p.m. The bus will arrive back in Parkersburg about 2 a.m. on Sunday. The bus will make a stop for pickups on Interstate-79 for those from Clarksburg, Fairmont and Morgantown. Exact pickup locations will be determined once passenger locations are confirmed. Prices are $304 per person with two in a room, $255 per person with three in a room and $225 for four, although the hotel only allows four in a room if one is a minor child. A deposit of $100 is required to reserve a seat. Only 100 seats are available.  Registration forms and more details are available online at www.tripswithlisa.shutterfly.com and at www.froggy99.net. Information can also be obtained by calling 304-483-1355 or sending an e-mail to lisacollins@suddenlink.net. WVU Children's Hospital provides maternal, infant and pediatric care for West Virginia and the surrounding region, giving care to high-risk mothers, premature infants and children with life-threatening conditions through adolescence to adulthood. It is the only Children’s Miracle Network hospital in the state. For information on WVU Children's Hospital, see www.wvukids.com.   Children's Miracle Network is a fundraising program to benefit hospitals providing healthcare for children. Created by the Osmond Foundation in 1983, Children’s Miracle Network includes 170 hospitals throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico. For information on Children's Miracle Network, see www.childrensmiraclenetwork.org.   [...]

WVU cancer researcher awarded grant for study on cholesterol-lowering medicine

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – A researcher at West Virginia University is trying to determine whether a drug commonly prescribed to lower cholesterol can help prevent a serious complication associated with a type of bone marrow transplant used in cancer treatment. Mehdi Hamadani, M.D., of the Osborn Hematopoietic Malignancy and Transplantation Program at the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center, received a $60,000 grant from the American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation for novel research on atorvastatin, otherwise known as Lipitor, a cholesterol-lowering medicine. He is leading a clinical trial to determine if atorvastatin will prevent acute graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) in patients who’ve undergone matched sibling bone marrow transplantation.  A bone marrow transplant patient develops GVHD when the donor’s immune cells attack the patient’s tissues and vital organs such as the skin, liver and gastrointestinal tract. The condition can be acute or chronic depending upon how soon it develops after the transplant; it also puts the patient at risk for life-threatening infections. “At least one out of every three patients who undergo matched sibling stem cell transplantation develops GVHD,” Dr. Hamadani said. “It is the second most common reason patients die after a transplant.” There are various drugs being used to prevent the condition, but there is no standard method of prevention.  Hamadani is cautiously optimistic that atorvastatin will improve patient outcomes. Three of the patients enrolled in his research study at WVU are doing well and have had no side effects from the drug.  “If this phase 2 trial shows that atorvastatin is safe and effective, the next step would be a multi-center phase 3 trial involving hundreds of transplant patients to see how the drug compares to current approaches to prevent GVHD.” The clinical trial offered at WVU’s Cancer Center is based in part on Hamadani’s earlier research that showed statin drugs, such as atorvastatin, have potential for reducing the incidence of acute GVHD.  Upon selecting Hamadani as one of five winners of the New Investigator Award, the associate executive director of the American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation (ASBMT) called Hamadani’s research study “outstanding.” The ASBMT is an international professional association for clinical and laboratory researchers, which strives to promote the advancement of the blood and marrow transplantation field.  “We are very proud of Dr. Hamadani,” Laura Gibson, Ph.D., deputy director of the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center, said. “The ASBMT is comprised of renowned BMT physicians and basic scientists. To receive an award from this elite group speaks highly of the scientific merit of Mehdi’s research and is characteristic of his significant contributions to the research team at WVU.”   [...]

WVU Department of Community Medicine to sponsor T-shirt design contest

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Calling all artists! The West Virginia University Department of Community Medicine Alcohol Education Program is sponsoring a T-shirt design contest. The contest is open to all WVU students on all campuses. Those wishing to enter the contest should create an original design addressing alcohol safety for spring break. While students should be fun and creative with their ideas, entries should not be obscene or indecent. Designs can be up to three colors only. The grand prize winner will receive a 32 GB Apple iPad with Wi-Fi and will have his/her design made into a T-shirt to be produced prior to spring break.  The deadline for submission is noon on Friday, Feb. 25. Students can submit their entries either in a high quality 8.5-inch-by-11-inch print out or send them electronically. If sending a digital entry, the required format is a JPEG file (300 DPI). Submissions should be sent to Dr. Ruth Kershner at the Department of Community Medicine, P.O. Box 9190, Morgantown, W.Va. 26506 or email at rkershner@hsc.wvu.edu. If you have any questions, please feel free to email Dr. Kershner or call 304-293-7440. Entries may also be submitted through Campus Mail. For more information on the WVU Department of Community Medicine see www.hsc.wvu.edu/som/cmed.   [...]

Making memories last

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Findings presented in new research by a team of West Virginia University scientists could eventually lead to innovations in the treatment of memory loss caused by Alzheimer’s disease. Han-Ting Zhang, M.D., Ph.D., WVU School of Medicine assistant professor, was the lead author of the study published in the January 5, 2011 edition of the weekly “Journal of Neuroscience.”  He said the results may be the foundation for the development of new memory-preserving drugs. Scientists had previously isolated an enzyme they believed contributed to memory loss in Alzheimer’s patients. Called phosphodiesterase-4 (PDE4), the enzyme breaks down a cellular molecule important for maintaining memory. That molecular substance acts as a signaling pathway in the brain that “turns on” memory genes. Previous studies found that drugs blocking PDE4 improved the function of these pathways, but caused nausea and vomiting. One of four subtypes of the enzyme, PDE4D, seemed to be responsible for the unwanted side effect. With the support of the National Institute of Aging, Dr. Zhang’s group altered the genes of mice to remove the PDE4D subtypes that led to the nausea and vomiting. “PDE4D is the important target for memory,” Dr. Zhang said. “There’s potential here for development of new treatments for memory loss associated with central nervous system disorders like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and depression.” Though Zhang says there’s far more study needed before PDE4D inhibitors will be formulated and approved for use with humans, the WVU study leaves scientists around the world very optimistic memory-enhancing drugs that do not cause nausea and vomiting could be on the horizon. Zhang was recently recognized as one of the most outstanding Chinese scientists in the United States during Chinese President Hu Jintao’s January visit to Washington, D.C. Based on his research achievements and influence in the Chinese community, Zhang was invited by the Chinese embassy to join other top Chinese professionals and students to meet President Hu. Meeting attendees were praised for their significant contributions to their respective fields, and were applauded for strengthening the relationship between China and the United States through their work. Zhang is in the WVU Department of Behavioral Medicine and Psychiatry and part of the WVU Center for Neuroscience.  He is president of the Chinese Professionals Association of West Virginia.   [...]

Interactive DVD helps educate teen girls

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Teen pregnancy and the spread of sexually transmitted disease (STD) are major public health issues in West Virginia. A West Virginia University faculty physician helped develop an interactive program that educates teenaged girls by illustrating the choices available in risky situations. It will be put to use in five West Virginia counties this year, thanks to a $7.4 million dollar grant from the U.S. Health and Human Services’ Office of Adolescent Health. “What Could You Do?” is a theory-based interactive STD education video that was designed to go beyond traditional sex education methods by presenting typical young women in situations where the “right” paths aren’t always clear. WVU Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine Professor Pamela J. Murray, M.D. M.H.P., worked with a multidisciplinary team led by Julie Downs, Ph.D., and Baruch Fischhoff, Ph.D., of Carnegie Mellon University, to develop the original version of “What Could You Do?” in the1990s. The video has been shown to increase abstinence, prevent condom failure and reduce reported STD diagnosis. “There are a number of different components to it,” Dr. Murray said. “In the first part, you meet a group of young women who are sitting around talking about boyfriends and going for checkups for STDs, and then you get to pick a character and follow her story.” When each storyline comes to a point where a critical decision has to be made, viewers choose from a handful of possible actions. In one scenario, a girl kissing a boy at a party is asked to go somewhere where the two can be alone. The viewer can opt for the girl to go with the boy, decide to leave the party or go spend time with another friend at the same party. Murray said that while developing the program, researchers learned the variety of potential actions doesn’t always occur to young women actually in the moment.  “In checking the original concepts with young women, part of the feedback was that they didn’t really see many choices. They felt that once they were alone with a guy, sex was inevitable,” Murray said. “We programmed the intervention so the viewers had to stay on screens where they were asked to examine different choices as if they were in the situation. We made them realistic, and even if you picked the low-risk choice, you still have to continue with the story and examine additional scenes and choices.” The project is part of a large federal initiative to test evidence-based programs in clinical settings. Participants (14-19 year old females) will be followed for 18 months to see if watching the intervention decreases rates of pregnancy, and chlamydia and gonorrhea infections.   Changes in technology led to the need to update the program. In addition to funding content updates, the HHS grant will make the program available to a far wider audience on DVD and the internet. The updated version will be used by agencies in both rural and urban areas, including: Boone, Braxton, Harrison, Mercer and Randolph counties in West Virginia; Uniontown, Washington, Aliquippa and Pittsburgh, Pa.; and Columbus, Ohio.  [...]

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