$10 Million in NIH Funded Research
Sweet Jemmott, associate professor in the School of Nursing and
Director of the Center for Urban Health Research has received
two NIH (National Institute of Health) grants from the National
Institute of Mental Health for a total of over $10 million.
grant HIV Sexual Risk Reduction for Black Drug Using Women. The
purpose of the this project is to identify effective culturally
sensitive interventions to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted
diseases (STDs), including HIV, among inner-city African American
women who abuse substances. Over the course of five years, 869
African American women will be recruited from the inpatient detoxification
program at Presbyterian Medical Center to participate in this
groundbreaking HIV risk-reduction research. The results of this
project will contribute to the development of efficient and effective
HIV prevention programs for inner-city African American women
who abuse drugs.
grant Church-Based Parent-Child Health Promotion Project. The
broad objective of this project is to identify effective, theory-driven
interventions that involve parents and can be implemented in church
settings to reduce inner-city African American adolescents' risk
of STDs, including HIV. In this project, 720 African American
parents and children 6th and 7th grade will be recruited from10
Black Baptist churches in low-income communities in Philadelphia.
The findings from this project will contribute to the development
of effective HIV risk reduction programs for inner-city African
Cure for Atrial
Specialists for Penn's Health System have documented the effectiveness
of a new technique to cure atrial fibrillation (A-Fib). The technique
targets and isolates the triggers, or "hot spots," on pulmonary
veins leading to the heart, preserving the heart's natural electrical
circuitry and eliminating the need for a pacemaker or medication.
Dr. Francis E. Marchlinski, director of Cardiac Electrophysiology
for UPHS, discussed the findings at the American College of Cardiologists'
meeting in Atlanta. "This procedure can eliminate atrial fibrillation
completely and patients can resume their lives without relying
on mechanical devices or any form of medication, including blood-thinners,"
Dr. Marchlinski said.
is a serious condition, often associated with aging, which results
when electrical discharges in one of the atria (upper chambers
of the heart) disrupts the normal, organized electrical activity,
or "sinus rhythm," generated by the heart's sinus node. Patients
with this arrhythmia often suffer a rapid heartbeat, palpitations,
weakness, shortness of breath and fatigue, although sometimes
the condition manifests no symptoms. Traditional ablation procedures
for this arrhythmia deliver an electrical charge that permanently
blocks the electrical connection that transmits the impulse from
the atria to the heart's lower ventricles. A pacemaker is then
required to maintain an adequate heart rate.
procedure does not cure afibrillation but merely prevents the
fast heart rate that frequently accompanies atrial fibrillation,
and patients still require blood-thinning medication. The Penn
procedure is more specific in targeting the triggers for atrial
fibrillation, rather than blocking the main electrical road to
the heart. During the ablation process, Penn electrophysiologists
infuse drugs that promote the firing of so-called "hot spots"
in the pulmonary veins. Once those triggers are identified with
the use of sophisticated electrical recording techniques, a catheter-based
ablation procedure isolates the abnormal fibers that cause them.
The Penn team has developed what it believes are the optimal recording
strategies and pacing techniques for identifying the affected
veins rapidly and confirming the effectiveness of the isolation
assisted Dr. Marchlinski include Dr. David. J. Callans; Erica
S. Zado; Dr. Andrea J. Russo; Dr. Edward P. Gerstenfeld; Dr. Sanjay
Dixit; De. Robert W. Rho; Dr. Vickas Patel; Dr. John Veshai; Dr.
Joseph W. Poku and Dr. David Lin, all of the Penn Heath System.
in Treatment of Disease
When it comes
to heart disease, women still face discrimination in the way the
illness is diagnosed and treated, as well as in epidemiological
studies that form the basis for disease treatment strategies,
according to a national expert in womens cardiovascular medicine
at Penn's School of Medicine. Dr. Mariell Jessup, Director of
Women's Cardiovascular Health, spoke on the status of heart failure
in women at the national meeting of the American College of Cardiology
in Atlanta. "Women make up half of the 4.7 million Americans with
heart failure, but they suffered 62.3 percent of the heart-failure
fatalities last year," Dr. Jessup said. "In fact, 20 percent of
all women diagnosed with heart failure die within a year, and
fewer than 15 percent of women survive more than eight to 12 years
after the initial diagnosis. Research also indicates that, in
general, women with heart failure have a poorer quality of life
than men." Further, in reviewing recent major epidemiological
studies, Dr. Jessup found "there are important baseline differences
by gender" in patients who were randomly selected to participate
in the well-known BEST' heart failure study, which was one
of the largest clinical trials ever designed to focus on advanced
heart failure. Those gender differences, which included age, race
and cigarette smoking histories, "are known to influence mortality
in heart failure," Dr. Jessup says. Dr. Jessup has also found
the percentage of women participants in numerous other scientific
studies was significantly lower than 50 percent, despite the fact
that women make up more than half the population.
Rescue Dogs, Handlers From 9/11
World Trade Center and sections of the Pentagon came crashing
down September 11, the rubble left for rescuers was laden with
asbestos, diesel fuel, PCBs and countless other toxins. Researchers
at Penn have now begun a three-year study of the search-and-rescue
missions' effects on rescue dogs and their handlers.
of veterinary researchers and psychologists, the team will focus
on the physical and psychological toll, possibly sounding an early
alert on ailments to watch for among those who have toiled to
clear the wreckage.
at the World Trade Center and Pentagon suffered acute injuries,
but during the next three years we expect them to serve as our
sentinels on long-term consequences," said lead researcher Dr.
Cynthia M. Otto, associate professor of critical care in Penn's
School of Veterinary Medicine. "We may see health effects that
will follow in humans 10 or 20 years from now."
canine teams put in an average seven to 10 days at sites thick
with potentially carcinogenic chemicals, Dr. Otto's team will
pay particular attention to the incidence of cancer.
Hunt, associate director of clinical training in the Department
of Psychology, will lead the associated study of dog handlers.
Patterns of depression or post-traumatic stress disorder among
this small group of personnel, Dr. Hunt said, would likely be
replicated among the thousands of others who have combed the ruins
of the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
will survey the dog handlers at regular intervals through 2004,
focusing on emotional and behavioral health outcomes and factors
contributing to risk and resilience, including personality traits
and prior history of trauma; external factors such as social support
and the stability of marriages; and hints of clinically significant
depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. For those showing
signs of ongoing difficulties, Dr. Hunt's team will offer assistance
in the form of modified exposure therapy, which involves writing
about one's experiences to help put the trauma into context.
the study comes from the AKC Canine Health Foundation, the American
Kennel Club, Ralston Purina Co., Veterinary Pet Insurance Co.
and the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation. The study also includes
researchers at Michigan State University and the Centers for Disease
Control in Atlanta.
British judge has approved a Penn-led randomized controlled test
comparing different sentencing procedures.
Sherman, director of Penn's Jerry Lee Center of Criminology,
the Albert M. Greenfield Professor of Human Relations in Penn's
Department of Sociology and director of the Fels Center of Government,
said the decision appears to be the first time a chief justice
in any nation has specifically approved such testing. The endorsement
was revealed in a recent advisory letter to crown court judges
from Harry Woolf, the lord Chief Justice of England and Wales,
in response to questions raised by a judge planning to participate
in the experiment.
justice" in the impending London experiment is a procedure in
which crime victims, offenders and their friends and families
meet under the guidance of a specially trained Scotland Yard police
officer after a guilty plea but before a sentencing decision.
They discuss the harm the crime has caused and agree on ways the
offender may try to repair that harm. The agreement is submitted
to the judge, who may decide to impose less prison time in consideration
of the voluntary agreement.
said that the question put to the chief justice was whether the
research design created too much inconsistency in sentencing conditions.
The research design calls for half of the eligible cases with
consenting victims and offenders to be assigned by a random-numbers
formula to undergo the restorative justice procedures.
and his colleagues were selected to design and conduct the experiments
after their controlled experiments with the Australian Federal
Police revealed that restorative justice reduced repeat offenses
by 38% among those charged with violent crimes.
experiments will conduct separate tests for offenders charged
with robbery, burglary, assault and property crime.
million project is funded by the British government.