Media Coverage

The work done by Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine faculty members (and even some students) is regularly highlighted in newspapers, online media outlets and more. Below you’ll find links to articles and videos of Feinberg in the news.

John Phair, MD was an infectious disease professor at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and an early leader in investigating HIV infection. Phair was “a great mentor, instrumental at the beginning of the AIDS pandemic to keep people sane and sensible during the biggest health care crisis of the day,” said Robert Murphy, MD, an infectious disease professor at Northwestern. Phair, 89, died of heart failure on February 19. Frank Palella, MD, who oversees the Potocsnak HIV and Aging Center at the Feinberg School, recalled his infectious diseases fellowship at Northwestern in the early 1990s under Phair and Murphy. “Unless you were around at the time and in the thick of it, it’s difficult to imagine how stressful the (AIDS) situation was medically, socially and societally,” Palella said. “John responded to the situation with his characteristic selflessness and lack of concern about what might be socially desirable but what was the right thing to do. He put Northwestern on the map through his research efforts and through clinical care in the outpatient clinic that he established a few years later.” Upon Phair’s retirement, Northwestern established an endowed professorship in his name, the John Philip Phair Professor of Infectious Diseases chair, as an acknowledgement of Phair’s dedication and leadership in the field.

Laser hair removal, when done by a professional, can be a safe, effective and permanent solution for getting rid of unwanted hair. It’s not pleasant, but most dermatologists say it’s tolerable, especially if a topical anesthetic is given beforehand. A common description of how it feels is a rubber band being snapped against the skin. The American Academy of Dermatology Association recommends that laser hair removal should be performed by a medical doctor who is trained and skilled in using lasers. When the lasers are not operated properly, blisters, burns and infections may occur – and these can be painful. Laser hair removal also doesn’t work very well for people with lighter hair. Carolyn I. Jacob, MD, FAAD, associate clinical instructor of dermatology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, explains that lasers that targeting blond, red, gray or white hair have not been developed yet. It is also expensive. It depends on how vast of an area you want to have done, but the cost typically falls between a few hundred to over a thousand dollars. Multiple sessions may be needed for long-lasting results. Overall, the procedure is very safe when performed by a dermatologist, and the risk of pain or other complications is quite low.

Since it was developed in the 1970s, IVF has become a popular solution for parents struggling to conceive and those using surrogacy to have children. During the procedure, an egg is removed from the patient’s body and combined with sperm in a laboratory. The resulting embryos get transferred into a person’s uterus in hopes of leading to pregnancy. But only some of the eggs exposed to sperm will be fertilized, and of those, only a small fraction will develop into a mature embryo. Because of this inefficiency, doctors often try to fertilize more eggs than needed. “The science behind IVF really shows that one single fertilized egg is not enough,” said Eve Feinberg, MD, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. If her patients say they want two or three children, Feinberg encourages them to have between two to four embryos frozen for each, she said. When Alabama’s top court ruled frozen embryos are legally children and people can be held liable for their destruction, it complicated the options available to families. At least three Alabama clinics have paused certain IVF operations for the time being due to legal concerns. Democrats in the Alabama state House, meanwhile, introduced a bill Thursday that would declare “any fertilized human egg or human embryo that exists outside of a human uterus is not considered an unborn child or human being for any purposes under state law.”

A longevity lab in Chicago is researching new therapies and interventions to help understand and slow down the human aging process so that people can live longer, healthier lives. “If you want to think about potentially extending your lifespan, the right diet, exercise, healthy habits; avoid high risk activities, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that stress reduction might have impact on aging,” said Douglas Vaughn, MD, director of the Potocsnak Longevity Institute and professor of medicine (cardiology) at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. The goal of this institute is to study aging of people with socioeconomic statuses, ethnicities and disadvantages – ultimately learning how to extend these people’s healthspan.

It may be time to remove the salt shaker from your table. New research shows that using salt substitutes may effectively reduce your risk of high blood pressure and boost heart health. The study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology looked at how replacing regular table salt with a potassium-enriched salt substitute might impact blood pressure. Typical table salt is almost entirely sodium chloride. The salt substitute used in the study contained around one-third less sodium chloride than table salt. The salt substitute also contained 25% potassium chloride, which doesn’t raise blood pressure, the study noted. After two years, researchers found that those using the salt substitute were 40% less likely to develop high blood pressure, or hypertension, compared to those using regular salt. The goal of a salt substitute is to replace the concerning component of salt (sodium) with another mineral (potassium) so that it still looks and tastes like salt but can offer a way to reduce risk and cut back on a person’s salt intake, explains Sadiya S. Khan, MD, professor of cardiovascular epidemiology at Northwestern Medicine’s Feinberg School of Medicine and American Heart Association Go Red for Women volunteer. “This is very important because we know that salt is an important driver of poor heart health and risk for high blood pressure,” she notes.

An Alabama Supreme Court ruling that frozen embryos can be considered “extrauterine children” under state law has major implications for how in vitro fertilization, commonly called IVF, is performed. Each cycle of IVF is a multistep process that is keyed to a patient’s menstrual cycle in the beginning. First, a patient needs to take injectable hormones every day for a 10- to 12-day period, explains Eve Feinberg, MD, a reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist at Northwestern University in Chicago. Those hormones prime multiple eggs to mature inside the ovary, in little fluid-filled sacs called follicles. Patients are monitored regularly, often daily. Once those follicles reach a certain size, the patient takes a different hormone that gets the eggs ready to be retrieved. Each cycle of IVF is a multistep process that is keyed to a patient’s menstrual cycle in the beginning. First, a patient needs to take injectable hormones every day for a 10- to 12-day period, explains Dr. Eve Feinberg, a reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist at Northwestern University in Chicago. Those hormones prime multiple eggs to mature inside the ovary, in little fluid-filled sacs called follicles. Patients are monitored regularly, often daily. Once those follicles reach a certain size, the patient takes a different hormone that gets the eggs ready to be retrieved. “By definition, 45% of all embryos grown in the laboratory ‘die,'” she says. “And the charge of wrongful death can now be applied. As a reproductive specialist, that idea is terrifying,” Feinberg says. “Who wants to assume that risk?”

Patients of color should have access to physicians who are sensitive to skin and hair conditions unique to them and know how to treat them. Sixteen clinics nationwide now specialize in caring for patients of color. The clinics were prompted in part by a history of racial and ethnic disparities that have afflicted the health-care system, experts said. “Communities that have been historically underserved or at times mistreated have a mistrust of the health-care system,” said Roopal Kundu, MD, professor of dermatology and medical education at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine and director of its Center for Ethnic Skin & Hair. “We are rebuilding this trust.” The clinics treat conditions common to dark-skinned individuals, such as hyperpigmentation or hypopigmentation, when areas of skin are darker or lighter than the normal skin tone; keloids, or excessive scar tissue that develops once an injury has healed; and hair loss or other scalp disorders. Some of these, such as pigmentation and keloids, occur more frequently in people of color. Others, for example hair loss and scalp ailments, afflict both Blacks and Whites but require different treatments. Many of these clinics are run by dermatologists of color, which inspires patient confidence, experts said.

A woman went to the pharmacy to pick up her oxycodone prescription, only to find out they had given it away to someone else who knew her name and birthday. A CVS spokesperson said the person picking up for the woman gave the identifying information required that validated a relationship with her. In Illinois, it is not required to show a state ID when picking up highly addictive narcotics. Others can prevent this from happening to them by advocating for themselves and telling the pharmacist specifically who is allowed to pick up their prescriptions. “The idea that it’s 90 pills out there is an opportunity for at least one, if not more, people to start to have a problem,” said Sterling Elliott, PharmD,, assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine who shared Jones’ concern. Elliott focuses on how patients use opioids safely, and he called what happened to Jones’ pills diversion. “They’re moving it out into a secondary marketplace in the street, and that’s a whole other realm of danger,” Elliott said. It’s that behavior that fuels the nation’s epidemic. The CDC’s latest data from 2021 show 45 people died each day from prescription opioid overdose.

A medication used to treat asthma can now be used to help people with food allergies avoid severe reactions, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Friday. Xolair, the brand name for the drug omalizumab, became the first medication approved to reduce allergic reactions caused by accidental exposure to food triggers. Patients as young as age 1 with allergies can take the drug by injection every two to four weeks, depending on their weight and their body’s response to allergens. An estimated 17 million people in the U.S. have the type of food allergies that can cause rapid, serious symptoms, including severe, whole-body reactions that are potentially deadly. The drug has been used “off-label” to treat food allergies, said Ruchi Gupta, MD, MPH, director of the Center for Food Allergy & Asthma Research at Northwestern University. She welcomed full approval of the product. Xolair is a monoclonal antibody, a type of treatment that works by blocking the body’s natural response to allergens.

JN.1 currently accounts for about 93 percent of cases nationwide, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s unusual for a single variant to make up almost all cases, but JN.1’s dominance gives us a unique window into the risk of reinfection for many people. If a person is exposed to the same variant or a very similar one in the months that follow a bout of Covid, their body is often equipped to recognize and combat it before it can cause an infection. Scientists disagree on exactly how long that protection lasts, but estimates range from around two to six months. But JN.1 has “many more mutations than we’re used to seeing,” said Marc Sala, co-director of the Northwestern Medicine Comprehensive Covid-19 Center in Chicago. That’s why people who were recently infected with another variant, even one that was previously dominant, may get infected again.And those who do get infected with JN.1 will likely find themselves well protected for as long as it remains the dominant variant. Right now, it isn’t showing any signs of slowing down.

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