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Precision Health, Passenger Distraction, Stand Up to Cancer Telecast

Published on September 16, 2016 in Cornerstone Blog · Last updated 4 months ago


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Many scientific endeavors take place quietly behind laboratory walls, but this week’s In the News items are worth shouting about. A genomics expert will share his insights about CHOP’s precision medicine experience at the inaugural Advances in Genome Biology and Technology meeting. Driving safety researchers asked teens to speak up about their perceptions of passenger distraction. And the Stand Up to Cancer Telecast celebrated a patient from CHOP who was diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukemia. The fundraiser generated $111 million in pledges to accelerate cancer research. Go ahead, and make some noise!

CHOP Genomics Expert to Address Major Precision Health Conference

Precision medicine aims to revolutionize health by leveraging genomics advances and large-scale data management and analysis to accelerate biomedical discoveries. The strategy is to customize treatment to a patient’s unique DNA profile. CHOP has been strongly committed to precision medicine through its Center for Applied Genomics (CAG), one of the world’s largest programs dedicated to pediatric genomics. CAG researchers have identified genetic causes in dozens of pediatric conditions, with the goal of translating these findings into targeted, highly specific treatments.

Hakon Hakonarson, MD, PhD, founder and director of the CAG, will speak at the inaugural 2016 Advances in Genome Biology and Technology (AGBT) Precision Health Meeting in Scottsdale, Ariz. He will give a presentation Sept. 22 on population-based approaches to precision medicine: “Genomics-driven biomarker discovery and utilization: The precision medicine experience from CHOP.”

Teri Manolio, MD, PhD, the director of Genomic Medicine at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), part of the National Institutes of Health, also will give a presentation during the session.

Study Drives Down Into Teen’ Perceptions of Passenger Distraction

Cell phones are one of the main causes of distracted driving for inexperienced teen drivers, but another major risk factor that you may not immediately think of are other passengers in the car. Catherine C. McDonald, PhD, RN, a senior fellow with the Center for Injury Research and Prevention (CIRP) at CHOP, described a new study published in the Journal of Pediatric Nursing that tells what teens really think about passenger distraction.

The research team conducted a series of focus group sessions with 30 newly licensed teen drivers ages 16 to 18 in order to better understand how teens perceive these risks. They identified teens’ attitudes, perceived behavioral control, and norms about peer passengers and inattention to the roadway. For example, their findings suggest that while teen drivers believe that peer passengers can be a source of distraction, they also believe that they can reduce crash risk by assisting with technology and offering guidance for directions.

“Along with other CIRP@CHOP researchers, I am working to develop behavior change interventions that include strategies to encourage focused attention as drivers on every trip, every time,” Dr. McDonald wrote in a CIRP Research in Action blog post. “Through outreach and education, we can help teens avoid driving distracted, be in control of the car, and be a ‘good’ passenger.”

Stand Up To Cancer Fundraising Special Features Patient Treated at CHOP

Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) announced this week that its Sept. 9 fundraising telecast in the U.S. and Canada generated $111 million in pledges. SU2C is a program of the Entertainment Industry Foundation, a charitable organization established in 2008 by film and media leaders who utilize the industry’s resources to engage the public in supporting new ways to accelerate cancer research and the delivery of new therapies to patients. SU2C brings together scientists from different disciplines across various institutions to work collaboratively.

The live telecast from The Music Center's Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles, aired simultaneously over more than 60 broadcast and cable networks and streaming services across the U.S. and Canada, according to a press release. In addition to featuring celebrities, the show highlighted the stories of several cancer survivors who have benefited from SU2C-supported research, including Mitch Carbon, 18, of Spokane, Wash., who was diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukemia. By watching the 2014 SU2C telecast, his parents learned of a new treatment pioneered at CHOP with the support of the SU2C-St. Baldrick's Foundation Pediatric Cancer Dream Team. They took him to Philadelphia for the new treatment, which uses the body's immune system to fight cancer, and he is now one year cancer-free. Read more about his story here:


In case you missed it earlier this week on Cornerstone, we brought you a Q&A with David Lacks, grandson of Henrietta Lacks who unwittingly had an integral role in the transformation of biomedical research over that past six decades. David Lacks shares his perspective on engaging as a partner in research, on his family’s legacy, and on the movie about his grandmother now in production with Oprah Winfrey.

Last week’s In the News post covered the American Academy of Pediatrics’ call to end nonmedical exemptions from school vaccine requirements, and it reported on the National Cancer Institute’s release of recommendations from its Blue Ribbon Panel on how to achieve the Cancer Moonshot initiative’s goals of making 10 years of progress against cancer in the next five years.

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