May 17 2012

Human Capital News Roundup: Genome sequencing of tumors, Medicare physician fees, cervical cancer among Latinas, and more.

Around the country, print, broadcast and online media outlets are covering the groundbreaking work of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) scholars, fellows and grantees. Some recent examples:

Alejandra Casillas, MD, MPH, an RWJF Clinical Scholar, spoke to New America Media about why Latinas have the highest rates of cervical cancer. Many women don’t go to the doctor as much as recommended because of a cultural belief that their families come first, Casillas says, so raising awareness among men could help encourage more women to get Pap tests.

Healthcare Finance News reports on The Primary Care Team: Learning from Effective Ambulatory Practices (the LEAP Project), a recently launched RWJF initiative designed to make primary care more accessible and effective by identifying practices that maximize the services of the primary care workforce. Learn more about the LEAP Project and read an RWJF Human Capital Blog post about it.

A team led by scientists from the Broad Institute and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute—including RWJF Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Program alumnus Levi Garraway, MD, PhD—has sequenced the genomes of 25 metastatic melanoma tumors, MediLexicon reports. The first high-resolution views of the genomic landscape are published online in the journal Nature.

RWJF Scholar in Health Policy Research and political scientist Brendan Nyhan, PhD, gave comments to NPR’s Morning Edition about the political landscape, discussing why and how voters reject facts about the political parties or politicians to whom they are loyal. Nyhan’s ongoing research suggests that people may be better able to deal with cognitive dissonance—“the psychological experience of having to hold inconsistent ideas in one's head”—if they are first given an image or ego boost.

RWJF/US Department of Veterans Affairs Clinical Scholar Gordon Sun, MD, continues to receive media attention for his study that finds smell tests are not good predictors of the development of Alzheimer’s disease. "A nonspecific association between poor smell function and Alzheimer's dementia is not the same as actually being able to use a smell test to predict Alzheimer's," Sun said in a news release. “Understandably, researchers, clinicians and the public are eager for a simple, accurate, and inexpensive way to predict or diagnose Alzheimer's early, but we're not there yet.” Health Day and MSN report on the findings.

“There’s a common misreading that technology inevitably leads to the decline of the local community,” Robert J. Sampson, PhD, told the New York Times in an article about online social networks for neighborhoods. “I don’t believe that. Technology can be harnessed to facilitate local interactions.” Sampson, author of Great American City: Chicago and the Enduring Neighborhood Effect, is the recipient of an RWJF Investigator Award in Health Policy Research.

The San Francisco Chronicle spoke to Ilan H. Meyer, PhD, about the ethical issues raised by “therapy aimed at turning gay and lesbian youths straight.” A proposed law in California would ban such therapy. Meyer is a researcher at the Williams Institute for Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the recipient of an Investigator Award in Health Policy Research.

Nine times out of 10, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services follows the recommendations of the American Medical Association Relative Value Update Committee (RUC) to calculate the fees physicians are paid under Medicare, according to a study led by Investigator Award winner Miriam J. Laugesen, PhD. “This is encouraging for providers in primary care and other specialties that bill the greatest proportion of these services," Laugesen told Medical News Today. “However, it does not explain why there has been no reduction in the income gap between primary care providers and specialists.” Read a post Laugesen wrote for the RWJF Human Capital Blog on physicians’ fees and high health care costs.

Malo Hutson, PhD, MCP, an alumnus of the RWJF Health & Society Scholars program, has been leading a group of masters and doctoral students at the University of California, Berkeley in a four-month study and assessment of North Richmond, a Bay area community. The group recently presented its findings on economic and small business development, political engagement, resources for young people and housing at a community meeting, Richmond Confidential reports.

A columnist for Diverse Issues in Higher Education spoke with Celeste Watkins-Hayes, PhD, an Investigator Award recipient, about African American studies. “There are multiple departments across the country… producing a new generation of Ph.D. students who have become increasingly sophisticated in their ability to add texture and specificity within the black experience by focusing on a number of categories of race, class, sexuality, gender, religion and nationality,” Watkins-Hayes says.

Tags: Clinical Scholars, Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Program, Health & Society Scholars, Human Capital News, Investigator Awards in Health Policy Research, LEAP Project, Latino or Hispanic, Media Coverage, Medical, Nursing & Dental Workforce, Nurses and Nursing, Nursing, Research & Analysis, Scholars in Health Policy Research