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Dr. Joseph Lorenzo

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Everything posted by Dr. Joseph Lorenzo

  1. This week my blog returns after a two-week hiatus. I have been in Europe for a week of vacation and then for a week at the Osteoimmunology Conference in Santorini, Greece. This is the third Osteoimmunology Conference that I have been fortunate to be part of and it was our most successful. It brought together 152 participants from all over the world with approximately equal representation from the Americas, Europe and Asia-Australia. The meeting succeeded because of the high quality of the science that was presented and the nature of its format. The organizing committee is especially grate
  2. There are a fascinating series of articles in the New York Times this week about the changes that are occurring in human behavior and personal interactions because of increased access to electronic information technologies, which is an inevitable fact of modern life (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/07/technology/07brain.html?ref=technology, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/06/books/review/Lehrer-t.html?ref=technology, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/07/technology/07brainside.html?ref=technology, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/07/technology/07brainpoll.html?ref=technology). There is also an artic
  3. A new book entitled "The Vanishing Physician-Scientist? (The Culture and Politics of Health Care Work)" Edited by Andrew I. Schafer (Cornell University Press) (http://www.cornellpress.cornell.edu/cup_detail.taf?ti_id=5493) was recently published. The book is a collection of essays by a distinguished group of contributors who write about the current and future state of the "physician-scientist". Being one of these myself, the title got my attention. I have not yet read this book but am familiar with many of the issues that it raises. The title is an extension of an alert that former NIH dir
  4. This week I came across an interesting article in Wired magazine describing the problems with biobanking tissues for use in the genetic and molecular analysis of a variety of diseases including osteoporosis and other metabolic bone diseases (http://www.wired.com/magazine/2010/05/ff_biobanks/all/1). Basically, the idea is to have central repositories of tissues, serum, cells and other biologic materials from patients and volunteers who also have a variety of their physical characteristics cataloged. Ideally, these would be available in a way that would allow analysis of the samples by multipl
  5. Last Saturday I spent most of the afternoon at a major league baseball stadium, sitting in the outfield under a bright spring sun and inadvertently getting a mild sunburn on my arms (yes, I know, this is not good for me). Anyway, this led me to think about vitamin D, which is a topic that I once thought I understood but now appreciate that I really don't. Recently, there has been much interest in this substance, which is not really a vitamin in the strictest sense of the definition since we can manufacture adequate amounts of it on our own with sunlight exposure. Rather, it is both a steroid
  6. I met an old colleague recently whom I had known from my Endocrine Fellowship days. This person had a practice in Endocrinology, which he had started about the same time that I had begun my fellowship. We are both getting somewhat long in the tooth and so we reminisced about life in general. He was beginning to wind down his practice and started telling me about how much he loved sailing his small boat, which he had purchased back in the days when I interacted with him more often. He asked me what I did for a leisure activity. This made me stop and think a bit about how to answer his ques
  7. We are in the middle of a communication revolution, which is having major effects on all scientists. The scope of this revolution rivals the impact that the development of the printing press had on civilization in the fifteenth century. Electronic messages are now the principal means by which we communicate. So many of my interactions with other scientists are electronic, either through phone calls or email, that nowadays, I am rather surprised when I receive a letter by conventional mail, containing actual correspondence. However, we are only at the beginning this communications revolutio
  8. The issue of informed consent and the rights of patients to know how their samples of blood or tissue are being used for research purposes has been a topic in the news recently. The Havasupai tribe of Arizona who live in the Grand Canyon had, about 20 years ago, agreed to donate blood to a study, which they believed was going to shed light on why they had such a high incidence of type 2 diabetes. Researchers at Arizona State University collected blood from over 200 of the 650-member tribe. The original idea was to determine if gene polymorphisms that were detected in the Pima tribe, which al
  9. Science, at least as it is practiced in the United States, is a highly competitive career choice. If you think about it, scientists at US research institutions function as independent contractors, who rent lab space in their universities and pay for it with support from the indirect costs that accompany their grants. Nontenured faculty are generally contracted for a specific period of time and can be let go if deemed nonproductive at the end of the contract period. In addition, whether or not a scientist has tenure, US academic research institutions usually expect faculty investigators to p
  10. Last week there was considerable concern in a number of scientific journals about accusations that a drug company, GlaxoSmithKline, may have tried to manipulate the scientific process to defend itself from claims that one of its products, rosiglitazone, was associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular events. (see the commentary by Steven Nissen in JAMA http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/303/12/1194, the editorial in the Lancet where the article in question was published http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140673610605235/fulltext?rss=yes and another editorial
  11. The major news story last week in US biotechnology concerned the decision of United States District Court Judge Robert W. Sweet to overturn the patent of Myriad Genetics for two genes, BRACA1 and BRACA2. Forbes has a story about this (http://www.forbes.com/2010/03/31/gene-patent-myriad-business-healthcare-dna-biotech.html). Specific mutations in these genes are linked to a predisposition for breast and ovarian cancer in women. Because of its patent, the company has enjoyed exclusive rights to test for these mutations. However, the judge found that DNA was a natural substance and, as such,
  12. The events of this week reminded me, yet again, that all drugs have side effects and no therapeutic agent is without concerns. A report by Black DM, et al in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), which was posted on line, examined the incidence of femoral fractures in individuals on bisphosphonates (http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/NEJMoa1001086). In the article the authors performed a secondary analysis of three large, randomized bisphosphonate trials: the Fracture Intervention Trial (FIT), the FIT Long-Term Extension (FLEX) trial, and the Health Outcomes and Reduced Incidence
  13. The revolution that is our current information age has many manifestations. I talked about some of these in my first blog entry. However, events of the past week led me to think about this some more. Up until a week ago, I was only vaguely aware of what the term RSS feed meant. For those of you who are similarly unaware, RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. It is a way for web pages, blogs and other news sources to transmit information with continuous updates across the Internet. Most major news sources, scientific journals and blogs (including this one) have RSS information embedde
  14. I first met Greg Mundy when I was a Fellow in Endocrinology and he was a relatively new Assistant Professor. I had come to Farmington in July of 1977 to study with Larry Raisz. Greg had begun working with Larry at the University of Rochester about three or four years earlier and moved with him to start the Division of Endocrinology at the University of Connecticut in 1975. His lab was an exciting place. Greg had taken over the project to identify the factor in the conditioned medium from cultured human activated peripheral blood monocytes that stimulated bone resorption. In those days ther
  15. Over the last 15 years a revolution in electronic communication has significantly changed many of the ways that we interact. We live in a world where most of us are wired to each other through email, web sites and mobile voice and data transmissions. In the scientific and clinical arena, where the majority of ASBMR members reside, the effects of this communications revolution are numerous. It is now unusual to actually hunt down a journal in a library. Email rather than phone calls or "snail mail" is the most frequent means by which we communicate and popular social media sites have become
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