The Scoop: A Publication of the University of Texas Medical School at Houston

Produced by the Office of Communications // September 8, 2011

Study involves new medication for depression

Dr. Jair Soares

Dr. Jair Soares

A new medication to treat major depressive disorder in patients who have not responded to other antidepressants is being studied in a Phase II clinical trial by Medical School researchers.

The drug, identified as BMS-820836 by its maker Bristol-Myers Squibb, affects the brain’s neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine, said the study’s principal investigator Dr. Jair Soares, chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

“Serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine are all important in the chemical imbalance in the brain that can lead to depression. Since not all patients respond to current medications, it’s very important for us to study new drugs,” said Soares, who is co-director of the UT Center of Excellence on Mood Disorders. “This is part of our commitment to innovation by offering patients access to cutting-edge research.”

According to the World Health Organization, depression affects 121 million people around the world and is a leading cause of disability. From 20 to 30 percent of patients may not respond to the first antidepressant they take.

Enrollment for the international, multi-site, double-blinded study will last for two years. It is specifically for outpatients who have not responded to other antidepressants. All patients will begin the study by taking duloxetine (Cymbalta) and a placebo. After eight weeks, patients will remain on duloxetine but also will be randomized to either continue taking the placebo or add BMS-820836.

For more information on the study, contact the UT Mood Disorders Clinic, 713.486.2627.

— Deborah Mann Lake, Office of Advancement, Media Relations

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Health care reform panel discussion, lunch set for Sept. 21

The TMC Library and the John P. McGovern, M.D., Center for Humanities and Ethics will host a panel discussion on Implications of Health Care Reform for the Future of Medicine and how the impending Health Care Reform Act will affect the Texas Medical Center institutions and health care noon–1:30 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 21, in MSB 3.001.

As part of the 2011 Medical Ethics Series, this event is free and open to the public. Lunch will be provided to those who register in advance. Please register here.

The panel discussion will be moderated by Dr. Tom Cole, McGovern Chair in Medical Humanities and founding director of The McGovern Center for Humanities and Ethics. He has authored, edited, or co-edited 10 books including What Does It Mean to Grow Old?, The Oxford Book of Aging, and No Color is My Kind: The Life of Eldrewey Steams and the Desegregation of Houston. He has produced or co-produced four documentary films. His book, The Journey of Life: A Cultural History of Aging in America, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

Participating panelists are Dr. Laurence McCullough, Dr. Pauline Rosenau, and Roberta Schwartz.

McCullough is the associate director for education and inaugural holder of the Dalton Tomlin Chair in Medical Ethics and Health Policy in the Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy, Baylor College of Medicine, where he is also professor of medicine and medical ethics and family and community medicine. McCullough is widely published and is the author of two books: Leibniz on Individuals and Individuation and John Gregory and the Invention of Professional Medical Ethics and the Profession of Medicine. He is co-author of Ethics in Obstetrics and Gynecology and The Ethics of Surgical Practice.

Rosenau is professor of management, policy and community health at the School of Public Health. She is the author of The Competition Paradigm: America’s Romance with Conflict, Contest, and Commerce and edited Public/Private Policy Partnerships, published by MIT University Press in 2000, and Health Reform in the Nineties, published by SAGE Publications in 1994. Her books have received Choice Magazine’s Outstanding Academic Books Awards in 1992 and 1994. Her peer-reviewed articles have been published in many prestigious journals, including Social Work in Public Health, Journal of Health Politics, and Medical Care Review.

Schwartz is a recognized leader in health care management and senior vice president of Operations for The Methodist Hospital. She oversees all service line operations and outpatient departments, and plays a key role on the organization leadership team. She has a master’s degree in health science from Johns Hopkins University and an honors undergraduate degree from Barnard College at Columbia University.

The Medical Ethics Series is underwritten by Advancing Science, Serving Society and Elsevier.

For more information, visit the Medical Ethics Series website.

— Beatriz Varman, HAM-TMC Library

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Registration now open for palliative care conferences

Frieden Initiative

Seats are filling up fast for the 15th Annual Interdisciplinary Conference on Supportive Care, Hospice and Palliative Medicine Nov. 18–19 at MD Anderson Cancer Center in the Main Building, Floor 11, Hickey Auditorium (R11.1400).

Registration is now open and may be completed online.

A recently published New England Journal of Medicine article, “Early Palliative Care for Patients with Metastatic Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer,” indicates prolonged survival and increased quality of life for patients who received early palliative care.

“We’ve previously demonstrated the ability of supportive care and palliative medicine to decrease the burden of suffering and cost of care for cancer patients, and this current study strongly suggests that we may also contribute to increased survival,” said Dr. Eduardo Bruera, professor and chair of Palliative Medicine at MD Anderson.

“This study may be the catalyst for changing the way others look at our service,” he added, referring to a belief that supportive care and palliative medicine are only needed in end-of-life care.

This conference is preceded by the 7th Annual Intensive Board Review Course in Hospice and Palliative Medicine set for Nov. 15–17. Registration for this course is available.

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UH graduate programs to be discussed Sept. 12

University of Houston logo

An information session regarding two University of Houston health science graduate programs will be held at noon Monday, Sept. 12 in MSB B.605.

Both programs focus on the health sciences: a Master’s of Education degree with an emphasis in the health sciences and a certificate program for health science educators that focuses on integrating innovative technologies in health science education.

More information about the programs may be found online.

UH faculty will be on hand to describe the master’s and certificate programs and answer questions about including courses, admissions, important dates and tuition costs.

Classes are held in the Texas Medical Center, usually on Monday and Thursday evenings. The Spring 2012 admission deadline is Oct. 1.

Applicants must possess a bachelor's degree or higher and the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) must have been taken within 5 years of applying to the program. This is required for all applicants except for those who have already earned a terminal degree (M.D., D.D.S., Ph.D., or Ed.D.), where the GRE requirement is waived.

For more information, contact Bernard Robin, program coordinator.

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Commit for Life

Fourth-year medical student Adam Johnson gives a thumbs up after receiving his Commit for Life t-shirt from Ebony Greene, a phlebotomist with The Blood Center, during the Medical School Blood Drive Sept. 7 in the Fifth Floor Gallery.

Fourth-year medical student Adam Johnson gives a thumbs up after receiving his Commit for Life T-shirt from Ebony Greene, a phlebotomist with The Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center, during the Medical School Blood Drive Sept. 7 in the Fifth Floor Gallery.

— Dwight C. Andrews, Office of Communications, Medical School





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Events to know

September 9

5th Annual Yatsu Day Symposium: “Making Stroke Care More Effective and Efficient.”
8 a.m.–5 p.m., Hermann Conference Center.
CME credit is available. Details and registration.

September 10

2nd Annual Patient and Caregiver Seminar.
9 a.m.–5 p.m., Hilton University of Houston hotel.
Contact for details.

September 12

Bioterrorism and Emerging Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response Series: Dr. Herbert DuPont, professor of infectious diseases, School of Public Health, presents, “Emerging Infectious Diseases: Is the US Becoming a Developing Country?”
Noon, MSB B.610.

Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology Seminar Series: Dr. Konstantin Kandror (Boston University School of Medicine) presents, “mTORC1 and Lipid Partitioning.”
Noon–1 p.m., MSB 2.135.

September 14

Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences Grand Rounds: Dr. Christopher Greeley, associate professor of pediatrics, presents, “Child Abuse in Texas and the United States: An Update.”
Noon–1 p.m., HCPC Auditorium.
Contact Kristi Rowell for details.

September 15

Vivian L. Smith Department of Neurosurgery Grand Rounds: Dr. Dong Kim, chair of the Department of Neurosurgery, presents, “Chiari 1 Malformation.”
8 a.m., MSB G.100.

Microbiology and Molecular Genetics Seminar Series: Dr. Galia Zaide (Israel Institute for Biological Research, Ness-Ziona, Israel) presents, “Essential virulence determinants of Bacillus anthracis identified by genomic and proteomic analyses.”
10:45 a.m., MSB 2.135.

2011 Dean’s Research Scholarship Awards and Welcoming Ceremony.
1–3 p.m., MSB G.150, across from the Grab and Go.

September 16

Deadline to submit abstracts for oncology poster presentations for the Nov. 12 Oncology CME Conference at Memorial Hermann–Texas Medical Center.
Submit following ASCO 2012 guidelines.

September 19

Bioterrorism and Emerging Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response Series: Dr. Kristy Murray, assistant professor, School of Public Health, presents, “Emerging viruses and consequences for public health: West Nile virus.”
Noon, MSB B.610.

Biochemistry Seminar Series: Dr. Hiro Furukawa (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory) presents, “Structural Dissection of NMDA Receptor Pharmacology.”
Noon–1 p.m., MSB 2.135.

Department of Integrative Biology and Pharmacology Seminar Series: Dr. Sheng Zhang, assistant professor at the Brown Foundation IMM, presents, “Genetic and Genomic Approaches to Study Human Brain Degenerative diseases using the Fruit Fly.”
4 p.m., MSB 2.135.

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