Clinical trials are the way pharmaceutical companies and other health care researchers determine whether a new drug or treatment is safe — but the participants in those trials are overwhelmingly White. Dr. Jecca Steinberg, a resident in the obstetrics and gynecology department at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, has conducted research into the lack of diversity in clinical trials. Steinberg said that while there are historical factors that discourage communities of color from participating in clinical trials, those may be becoming less of a factor. “Recent data has demonstrated that all individuals regardless of their race and ethnicity are equally willing to participate in clinical trials and research,” said Steinberg. “The hesitancy actually lies with researchers who are afraid to approach people who are not of their race due to fear of stigma or bias or stereotyping their patients, assuming they might not be interested.”
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.
Summer break is almost over, and thousands of Chicago students will return to school in the next coming weeks. Most kids are excited, but for some, the potential challenges of a new school year are a source of stress. Ellen Astrachan-Fletcher, PhD, lecturer of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine shared advice on how to reduce the amount of anxiety going into a new school year. “Start talking to your kids. Start spending time with them. Ask them how they’re feeling about going back to school. How can we help if they’re feeling any anxiety?” she said. Some things they would be worried about are bullies, lunchroom drama, academic pressures and more. Validating their concerns and asking them how you can help will give your child comfort.
Exposing infants to peanuts between four and six months of age can potentially prevent peanut allergies, yet many parents remain anxious about the prospect and aren’t aware that it’s safe, new research shows. The practice of introducing peanut-containing foods in infancy has been recommended by health officials since 2017. Research shows that allowing babies to take small, supervised tastes of peanut-containing foods rather than waiting until they are older can go a long way to reducing the number of children who develop peanut allergies. “Quality of life is very challenging when you have to avoid food all day every day, yet even six years after the guidelines changed, the message that peanut introduction shouldn’t be feared still isn’t getting to parents and caregivers,” said Ruchi Gupta, MD, MPH, senior investigator of the study and director of the Center for Food Allergy and Asthma Research at Northwestern Medicine. “Peanuts are healthy and can prevent allergies, especially in high-risk infants. There’s an opportunity here to potentially prevent this epidemic.”
New technology that improves outcomes for liver transplant patients has arrived in Chicago. Northwestern Medicine’s Organ Transplant Center says it now offers warm and cold liver perfusion, it’s one of the largest transplant centers in the Midwest to offer both techs. The transplant team’s leader says the techniques help preserve and repair the donated liver, so patients see faster and better recovery. Doctors say the advanced procedure helps them serve more patients, more quickly. The perfusion tech is also used by the heart and lung transplant teams at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
July is the hottest month on record for the planet and very likely the hottest period in 120,000 years according to global climate authorities. It’s not just unbearable sunshine – temperatures at night aren’t dropping as they should. Nights are warming faster than days on average in most of the US. To get the best quality sleep, experts have long recommended sleeping in a cool rom – between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit. Experts are sharing tips for sleeping in the heat during this summer. These include staying hydrated, eating light, showering in tepid water and setting time aside to relax. Avoiding alcohol is another piece of advice offered by Phyllis Zee, MD, PhD, chief of sleep medicine and professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Drinking booze in the evening dehydrates the body and sets you up for nighttime sweats, she said. Further, using ceiling fans or electric fans can help keep your bedroom cool. “There are also fairly inexpensive ice cooling fans that can be placed near the bed,” Zee said. “If you’re unable to keep the bedroom cool, sleeping temporarily on lower floors like the basement will be cooler.”
Around half a million Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, according to the National Institutes of Health. It’s a brain disorder that can cause unintended movements like shaking and muscle stiffness. But a U.S. hospital is using a new approach aimed at helping those living with Parkinson’s. It’s called Dancing with Parkinson’s, a five-week program offered by Northwestern Medicine and the Joffrey Ballet in Chicago. “Learning and trying to remember steps in a dance routine in a dance class is good for working with memory and improving thinking. We’ve seen benefits in people describing improvement in anxiety and fatigue,” according to Danny Bega, MD, Movement Disorders Specialist at Northwestern Medicine.
Food manufacturers who deliberately add sesame to products and include the ingredient on labels are not violating a new federal food allergy law, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday. Sesame can be found in obvious places, like sesame seeds on hamburger buns, but it is also a major ingredient in everything from protein bars to ice cream and is added to sauces and spice mixes. Ruchi Gupta, MD, MPH, a pediatrician and director of the Center for Food Allergy & Asthma Research at Northwestern University, called the FDA’s decision “disappointing.” She said, “It doesn’t violate the law; people can do what they want,” she said. “But in order to support these adults and children with sesame allergy, I would have hoped they would have come out in a way to prevent or discourage this.”
A growing number of women have medical conditions that put them at high risk of death during and after giving birth. An estimated 30% of maternal deaths in the United States result from cardiovascular disease – a problem that has become more common with increases in diabetes and obesity. And in some women with previously normal high blood pressure, hypertension can develop suddenly during pregnancy. This is called preeclampsia and is increasing in the U.S., particularly in Black women. In rare cases, it can become the life-threatening condition eclampsia, with seizures and death. Rates of maternal mortality have increased in recent years. In 2021, 1,205 women died of maternal causes, compared to 861 in 2020. What troubles many experts is that it is estimated that 80% of these deaths are preventable. “That is a ridiculous number,” said Melissa Simon, MD, MPH, director of the Center for Health Equity Transformation at Northwestern Medicine and professor of obstetrics and gynecology and preventive medicine. “For a health care system in a country that is so high-resourced and high-income, for eight out of 10 deaths for moms who are pregnant [to be preventable], that’s absolutely unacceptable.”
Scientists can scan your entire DNA library. That’s more than 20,000 genes. This kind of testing, called genomic testing, has transformed the diagnosis and management of cancer and rare genomic disease. David VanderWeele, MD, PhD, assistant professor of hematology and oncology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, says electronic medical records keep track of who looks through your health information. People can’t access your records if it’s not related to your medical care. You might feel more or less comfortable with certain kinds of genomic tests. Your doctor can go over the ins and outs of the one that’s best for you.
The amount of time that young people spend watching screens — instead of physical activity like sports, hikes or gardening — could be linked to health issues in adulthood, according to a new study. Children and teenagers who spent more time watching television had less efficient oxygen use during exercise, higher blood pressure, and higher rates of obesity in mid-adulthood, even when accounting for sex, childhood body mass index and the family’s economic situation, the study published in Pediatrics says. “This really highlights the importance of critical development years. To emphasize – from a structural societal level, systems level, the need to set up programs, schooling, and support to allow parents to be successful in helping their children be more physically active,” says Veronica Johnson, MD, an assistant professor of internal medicine and pediatrics focusing on obesity medicine at Northwestern Medicine.