Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. will announce this afternoon a partnership with leading Boston-area hospitals, medical schools, and universities -- in a novel attempt to address a major hurdle in medicine: the years-long gap between basic science advances and the testing of drugs in patients.
Under the unusual arrangement, the company will invest $100 million over five years and establish a research space in the heart of the Longwood Medical Area where Pfizer scientists will work in close proximity and team up with academic scientists. The new Center for Therapeutic Innovation, which will create about 50 new jobs, is part of a global Pfizer initiative to foster new kinds of collaboration with academia to accelerate drug development, a program that will be headquartered in Boston.FULL ENTRY
A look at the morning's top health industry news.
Avoiding HIPAA faux pas on social media: In a guest post on KevinMD.com, Dave Ekrem offers these helpful seven tips to medical professionals using social media tools on how to avoid a breach in patient privacy. Ekem manages web development and social media for MassGeneral Hospital for Children.FULL ENTRY
The $10 million that former Governor Paul Cellucci has pledged to raise for UMass Medical School could fast-track aggressive research into a treatment and -- eventually -- a cure for Lou Gehrig's disease, said lead researcher Dr. Robert Brown. The Champion Fund will provide a pot of money that is not subject to the often drawn-out timeline of federal grant-making.
"The important point about having a discretionary fund is that it allows one, in a rapid manner, to undertake experiments and programs which may entail risk but which have a high potential to be beneficial," said Brown, who is Cellucci's personal physician.
Cellucci planned to take the field at Fenway Park tonight to officially launch the fund. He announced in January that he was diagnosed two years ago with the disease formally called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS.FULL ENTRY
Cellucci opens up about ALS: Former Governor Paul Cellucci sat down with Frank Phillips of the Globe to talk about the "devastating diagnosis" he received two years ago, when doctor's told him he had Lou Gehrig's disease, the degenerative and incurable neurological disorder also called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. Cellucci will launch an effort tonight at Fenway Park to raise $10 million for ALS research led by Dr. Robert H. Brown of UMass Medical School, who is Cellucci's physician.FULL ENTRY
Wendy Maede/Globe Staff
At an inaugural event at Fenway Park, former Governor A. Paul Cellucci will announce a new effort to raise money to support research of Lou Gehrig's disease. Cellucci announced in January that he has been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. He said he has a "slow case" of the incurable degenerative disease.
Cellucci is being treated by Dr. Robert H. Brown at UMass Medical Center. Brown is a widely recognized leader in ALS research, and the new Champion Fund will support the work at his lab. Mayor Thomas Menino, who plans to proclaim May 19 as "Champion Day," will join Cellucci, along with Former Governor Jane Swift, to launch the effort.
The website for the initiative, www.UMassALS.com, is set to go live at 5 p.m. today. Cellucci and others will announce details at a 5:45 p.m. press conference tomorrow, before the Red Sox play the Detroit Tigers.
Seriously ill patients at UMass Memorial Medical Center suffered fewer complications and were less likely to die when they were monitored by doctors working in a remote "eICU," some of the first evidence that telemedicine can improve on care provided at the bedside.
Intensive care specialists who oversaw the hospital's intensive care units from a low-rise office building three miles away improved care by essentially acting as a second set of eyes for the on-site doctors and nurses, found a study published online today by the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The remote doctors enforced treatment plans for patients, ensured that caregivers followed best practices to prevent infections and pneumonia, and even at times prompted staff to respond to alarms on monitors warning a patient was in trouble.FULL ENTRY
A University of Massachusetts Boston professor is suspected of having measles, the fifth confirmed or suspected case of the highly contagious disease to be reported in the past two weeks, city health authorities said tonight.
The faculty member, who is in his 40s and teaches about 45 students, informed university officials yesterday that he had been diagnosed with a possible case of the respiratory illness, heralded by a fever, cough, runny nose, and telltale rash.
The university and the Boston Public Health Commission are telling students, faculty, and staff who might have had contact with the professor and who have not been vaccinated or previously exposed to the disease to remain close to home for the next three weeks. It can take that long for doctors to be certain that someone is not carrying the disease.FULL ENTRY
The University of Massachusetts Medical School received a $35.6 million contract from the federal government today to create an online system that would make it easier for consumers and small business owners to shop for insurance coverage under the national health care overhaul.
By 2014, all states will be required to have exchanges, essentially online shopping malls, to help consumers compare health plans and select insurance, and the UMass contract is focused on designing the technology for those exchanges, officials said.
The contract is one of seven similar ones awarded today for a total of about $241million. The other recipients are Kansas, Maryland, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Wisconsin. But the UMass contract is somewhat different -- it is the only one that will be run by a medical school and UMass will work with a consortium of technology experts from Connecticut, Maine, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
A new research center aimed at understanding and reducing cancer disparities in diverse, minority populations received a $2 million grant from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, adding to $18 million in federal funding for the project.
The Center for Personalized Cancer Therapy is a joint venture between the University of Massachusetts Boston and Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center -- a cross-institutional cancer research effort that includes 1,000 researchers from across Harvard and its affiliated hospitals.
It has become increasingly clear that each type of cancer, such as breast cancer or lung cancer, includes many different subtypes that influence how or if the disease responds to treatment. That has led cancer researchers to focus on developing drugs tailored to a particular patient's tumor and to create tests that could determine who is likely to respond.
The goal of the center, which will partner with the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry, is to develop tests to identify different types of cancer that are inexpensive enough to be used in community hospital settings.
"We are pleased to support an initiative that will address the longstanding racial, ethnic, and economic disparities that exist in cancer care as well as improve the quality of care for all cancer patients," Dr. Susan Windham-Bannister, president of the Mass. Life Sciences Center, said in a statement.
The center will launch soon, and will eventually be housed in UMass Boston's Integrated Sciences Complex, which will begin construction this spring and is expected to open in 2013.
"If there is one thing that we've learned about cancer during the past quarter century, it is that cancer is not one disease but instead hundreds, and each cancer is often unique to each patient," Dr. Edward J. Benz Jr., president of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute said in a statement. "This grant will further our efforts to develop more effective treatments that are tailored to the characteristics of a person's cancer."
Trying to convince sunbathers not to get a tan is a tough sell. They’ve heard about the dangers of skin cancer and the wisdom of sunscreen, but that won’t get them off the beach.
New research from the University of Massachusetts Medical School suggests sunless tanning products -- smoothed on from a tube or applied in a spray booth -- can cut down on time spent soaking up the rays. The study was funded by the National Cancer Institute.
Sherry Pagoto led a team that set up tents at Revere and Nantasket beaches where on alternate early summer days they offered women on one day the chance to learn about sunless tanning, get free samples, hear about skin cancer risk, and have a special photo taken that would reveal sun damage on their faces. On the other days, women had their pictures taken and completed surveys about sun safety. All 250 participants were contacted two months and one year later.
“We thought we needed to meet people where they are, promote alternatives, and see if they use them, and then see if they reduced their sunbathing,” Pagoto said in an interview. “People find tans attractive. There are not many unhealthy behaviors for which there is a healthy alternative.”FULL ENTRY
About white coat notes
|White Coat Notes covers the latest from the health care industry, hospitals, doctors offices, labs, insurers, and the corridors of government. Chelsea Conaboy previously covered health care for The Philadelphia Inquirer. Write her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter: @cconaboy.|
Gideon Gil, Health and Science Editor
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