Friday, July 30, 2010

Neuropathologist bikes 140 miles to emphasize need for Alzheimer research funding

Chris Zarow, PhD (pictured in center), a neuropathology researcher at the University of Southern California, recently completed a 140-mile bike ride which was part of a cross-country ride where participants collected signatures to urge Congress to authorize more funding for Alzheimer research."Let's put ourselves out of a job, so to speak," Zarow said. Read more here.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Dr. Liz Cochran joins faculty at Medical College of Wisconsin

Elizabeth Cochran, M.D. (pictured), has been named professor of pathology at The Medical College of Wisconsin and Director of Neuropathology and Autopsy Services at Froedtert Hospital, a major teaching affiliate of the College. Read more here.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Best Post of February '10 -- Perry Rocks: Arie releases neuropathology music CD

The next in our "Best Posts of the Month" series is from February 5, 2010:

When I first heard about this, I said to myself: "No way. This has got to be a spoof." But its true! Neuropathologist Arie Perry (pictured) has released a music CD called Neuropathology Songs, which can be purchased at his website, which includes free samples of several songs. The song list includes such soon-to-be classics as Acute Meningitis, Craniopharyngioma, and Leukodystophies. Perhaps my favorite tune is Schwannoma, which features the following chorus:


Schwannomas are no mystery; you look for Antoni A and Antoni B
And Verocay bodies will clinch the diagnosis for me
Hyalinized vessels is another clue,
And good encapsulation is a key feature too
To make the diagnosis when the surgeon’s leaning over you
To make the diagnosis when the surgeon’s leaning over you

In the current issue of the journal Brain Pathology, Perry has this to say about the new CD: "For many years, I’ve employed these songs for teaching medical students about common neurological disorders. As word of this practice spread however, I’ve been increasingly asked to include such songs in invited lectures and even to the lay public in a local 'Mini Medical School Course', all associated with extremely positive feedback. I’ve even received requests to share these songs with educators and students from other medical centers, in part prompting me to record these songs professionally."

I blogged about Perry back in September regarding his impending move from Wash U in St. Louis, where he has spent the last 12 years, to the University of California at San Francisco. Perry starts as UCSF's neuropathology chief this summer. I assume they'll be giving him time off to collect his award at the Grammys.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Artist explores the brain's landscape

"The brain -- even a brain with disease -- is beautiful, complex and intriguing." So says Elizabeth Jameson regarding her artistic renditions of her own brain MRIs. A sample of her work, which came from an MRI of her own cortex, is depicted below -- saturated with color:
Thanks to the ever-curious Dr. Mark Cohen for informing me of Jameson's work.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Best Post of January '10: Eight states still do not mandate reporting of CJD cases to public health authorities

The next in our series of "Best Posts of the Month" is from January 8, 2010:
Neuropathologists are obligated to keep generally up to date on Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) research as they are called upon to perform autopsies on patients whose dementia may have been caused by a prion disease. The most overlooked players in the CJD research arena are patient advocates. Many patient advocates are fiercely motivated, often having been inspired to act by the CJD-related death of a loved one. One such advocate is Theresa Matthews (pictured on a 2006 lobbying visit to Washington with her teenage daughter Mary and Illinois Senator Durbin and then Senator Obama). Patient advocates often raise worthy questions about issues surrounding CJD research. One such question is whether adequate epidemiological data on CJD is being collected in every state. Ms. Matthews informs me that currently there are eight states that do not require physicians to report CJD cases. She testified about this issue at a June 2009 meeting of the FDA's Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies Advisory Committee. Here's an excerpt from her testimony:

"Accurate disease reporting is a basic and fundamental step of epidemiology... This cannot possibly be done if you are not even counting the cases. The current state of CJD epidemiology in this country is a joke and it is no laughing matter."

Strong words. But Ms. Matthews makes a good point. Mandated reporting is the first step in reliable epidemiological research. Every state should mandate reporting of CJD cases, whether discovered pre-mortem or only at autopsy. Here are the states that fail to mandate reporting: Washington, Nevada, New Mexico, Iowa, Indiana, Alabama, Kentucky, and West Virginia. If you are a resident of one of these states, contact your governor or state legislator to get this situation corrected!

Friday, July 2, 2010

More evidence that Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy is linked to playing football

Recent neuropathological autopsy findings of a 26-year-old NFL player lend further credence to the idea that perhaps our high school children should not be playing football. Former Cincinnati Bengals player Chris Henry, who died after falling from a moving pick-up truck during a fight with his fiancee, was found to have histomorphologic evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). See the tau-immunohistochemistry photomicrograph from Henry's brain above. The findings consist of neurofibrillary tangles similar to those seen in Alzheimer disease. This CNN.com article raises the question in my mind of whether school districts should offer genetic testing to potential players, as one's apolipoprotein E genetic status seems to indicate the likelihood that one might be more susceptible to the development of CTE. In any case, I intend to forbid my own son from playing football and from boxing. Any other sport is fair game. But I will not allow him to a participate in a sport where head injury is intrinsic not only to playing the game, but even participating in practices. This is not to say that I'm some kind of a pansy who is averse to any risk. I will allow my child to play any other sport, as head injury in other sports occur merely as accidents. But football and boxing will remain off-limits in my home.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Neuropathology Blog recognized in latest issue of Brain Pathology

Neuropathology Blog was recently recognized in an editorial in the international journal Brain Pathology, (Volume 20, Number 4, July 2010). Editor Arie Perry (as of today, on faculty at the UCSF pathology department) writes that the blog is "somewhat of a gossip column where one can find the latest news regarding our discipline and the members within it.  For instance, I was amazed not too long ago to find a story about myself and my impending move to the University of California in San Francisco entitled 'Arie Perry Goes West', seemingly within minutes of my accepting the position!  Another blog a few months later entitled 'Perry Rocks: Arie releases neuropathology music CD' similarly appeared almost immediately after I created a website for these educational songs.  How Brian has managed to obtain this information so quickly is astonishing and perhaps, it's best that we don't know all the details of what is readily and quickly available about each of us on the internet." Of course, I could never reveal my secrets, Arie. But let's just say I have several moles at medical centers throughout the country regularly feeding intelligence into my central control center!