Follow the news and meet the people behind IMRIC's innovative medical research.
Thursday, March 14th, 2013
This month represents Hemophilia Awareness. Hemophilia is a bleeding disorder in which a protein is missing from the blood. All races and economic groups are affected equally. To learn more about the disorder and get the personal perspective check out the Hemophilia Federation of America’s blog, designed to give an intimidate into the world of Hemophilia.
To read more blog posts click here.
Thomas was diagnosed with severe hemophilia A about 18 hours after birth. He was circumcised right after he was born and that area continued bleeding for some time. I initially wasn’t too concerned; I rationalized that the poor kid had basically just had surgery, so of course there was going to be bleeding. Looking back, I realize that the nursery nurses were changing all his diapers, so I never really knew how much he was bleeding. Our pediatrician, Dr. B., suggested running a few tests, “just to make sure everything’s ok,” so I agreed.
I was sitting in the hospital bed, cuddling with my newborn after just introducing him to his 20 month old older sister when the phone rang. I answered and Dr. B was on the line. He asked if my husband Nathan was there with me and I said yes. He said, “Put the phone in between you. I need to talk to both of you.” That should have worried me, but it didn’t.
Dr. B started, “Guys, I hate to give you bad news.” He choked up. “Sorry. I always cry when I have to give families bad news. I’m so sorry I can’t do this in person.”
I’m pretty sure my heart stopped.
“The blood work we ran shows that Thomas has severe hemophilia. I’ll be honest, I don’t know a lot about hemophilia, but there is another doctor, a leading hematologist, waiting on the line to talk to you. She’s going to explain everything. I don’t know about hemophilia but I’m going to learn and we will do this together.”
I think Nathan and I mumbled a few questions and then the doctor who would become our HTC doctor and friend got on the line. She told us she was in the car on the way to meet us and was bringing medicine that would stop the bleeding. A nurse came in and whisked Thomas off to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). The doctor arrived shortly after that, bringing scores of educational material and giving us a brief explanation of what hemophilia would mean for us. We all went to the NICU, and our doctor showed the staff, who had never seen hemophilia before, how to infuse and she explained hemophilia to them. Our doctor ended up spending about four hours with us that evening, answering questions, reassuring us that Thomas would have a normal life span and meaningful life. It was as good of an experience you can have finding out that your child has a life altering chronic disorder.
Like most other hemophilia moms, I quickly found out that many medical professionals were like the NICU staff and my pediatrician: they have never seen, or had very limited or wrong knowledge of bleeding disorders. There’s nothing more infuriating than feeling helpless and seeking help for your child only to find that a doctor or nurse isn’t equipped to help you. To read more click here.
Thursday, March 7th, 2013
Einstein is not the only one with big ideas. Perhaps you have an idea brewing and now through a contest sponsored by the Canadian Friends of Hebrew University (CFHU), you can not only share that idea but maybe even win $10,000. I love contests like these, because they encourage that innovative spirit that I often fine walking around the IMRIC campus in Jerusalem.
Check out the video below to learn more about the contest and then submit your idea here.
Scanning some of the ideas online, I wanted to share a few of my personal favorites:
I have already started my big idea. A research and development firm that funds and develops the ideas generated through a dedicated social network. Calling on backyard inventors, hobbyists and mad scientists alike to create tomorrow's technology, today. I've already begun developing bio-degradable rocket fuel.
Cheap polymer panels designed to extract clean potable water from even the most contaminated water sources using only readily available solar energy. Used to sustain the usefulness of contaminated resources after disasters, hostile, or polluted environments. Can also be used to extract clean drinking water from urine.
A device that would automatically administer medication to a person. Much like a nicotine patch. Used to treat patients with Alzheimer's and HIV, as a major problem is patients forget to take their medicine when it is to be taken on a strict schedule. This could be revolutionary to aiding the ill.
And speaking of big ideas, this week the International Basal Ganglia Society (IBAGS) Conference, hosted by IMRIC Prof. Hagai Bergman took place in Eilat. The conference focused on the understanding of basal ganglia function and the pathophysiology of their disorders, including Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, depression and schizophrenia. IBAGS triennial meetings bring together research scientists from all disciplines, as well as clinicians who are actively involved in the treatment of basal ganglia disorders, to discuss the most recent advances in the field and to generate new approaches and ideas for the future. MD-PhD student Boris Rosin, who works in Bergman’s lab, attended the conference and will have a blog post shortly about the ideas discussed and new exciting endeavors that came out of the meeting. In the mean time enjoy some of the pictures from this exciting event.
Thursday, February 28th, 2013
Another year and another Jerusalem Marathon. While the concept of a marathon is not new to the world, for Jerusalem, a place of all things ancient, the marathon is just in its toddler years. For me, the race represents the ultimate in health and happiness. After all people this dedicated to running must love what they do— since the race generally takes four to five hours to complete. Here in Jerusalem, the course is made more difficult by the constant hills propelling you up and down.
Last year I ran the half-marathon for the second time. Running the race is a life choice and also one for my family, since we run together. After the birth of my first child I couldn’t make it to the gym on a regular basis. In fact it seemed like I had no time in between changes and feeds to be with my husband or even walk the dog. Running became all of those things for us. We were able to be together, get healthy and even give the dog a good time. I never thought our twenty-minute jogs would be anything more than a healthy family activity. But I will admit I like a challenge and the race definitely is that.
With proper training, lots of water and my husband by my side, we completed the half-marathon as a family in just over two hours. Last year we even beat our time despite the horrible weather. I remember at one point, when the hail was striking down on us, I could only think if I stop now I won’t continue on. With a push from my husband, some encouraging words in between the thunder, we finished the race. And don’t worry, my child was snug as a bug in his stroller and waterproof cover, making the soaked runners more than a little bit jealous of him.
This year although I would love to continue our family tradition, my seven-month pregnant belly has decided for the both of us that running a half-marathon will have to wait until next year. That said, we have decided as a family that we will still take part in the race and run the 10k. In fact his year my son, now two-and-a-half will even be able to step out of the stroller and run all by himself. I believe this healthy family activity will instill in him the fundamentals of health awareness that we feel are extremely important. At least this will help balance out the cookies I might slip him every now and then.
Every year, running along my side, or way ahead of me, are many IMRIC researchers from students to professors. They take this opportunity to step out of the lab and get some fresh air, and enjoy a good race around the ancient city. The scientists understand the importance of health since they are working on critical breakthroughs that can affect our lives on a daily basis. Professor Hagai Bergman makes sure to leave time in his incredibly busy schedule working on and innovating the world of Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) for a marathon or two throughout the year. He too makes this a family activity and enjoys running with his wife together in the races. Last year, Bergman took part in the Jerusalem night race, running with the Hebrew University running group and IMRIC researchers. Check out the video below to hear his thoughts on health and science.
See you on the other side of the finish line!
Thursday, February 14th, 2013
It's Valentine's Day, a day about the heart. Of course it is fitting that the month of Feburary is devoted to heart health awareness, spreading the love and information twenty-eight days long. In honor of the month and the heart-filled day check out some of the most incredible breakthrough research taking place around the world reported on The Huffington Post. Remeber to take care of your heart, your health and your happiness. Happy Valentine's Day!
Heart Health Month: 7 New Things That We Learned Have An Effect On Our Tickers
Wednesday, February 6th, 2013
Sitting in the waiting room of the ER will remind you that our health is important. Through the news, magazines, or commercials we are told that our health is vital and shouldn’t be taken for granted. However, these reminders somehow end up at the end of the shopping list and our health becomes something that we will take care of.
Suddenly your list of things to do, things you want to do and things you don’t want to do but need to do, are all thrown out the window and sitting in a emergency room you have one item left to check off—get healthy. An emergency room is full of people who for one reason or another have an issue with their health or with their loved-ones health. The worried patients faces are matched by the careful hands of nurses checking-in patients and assessing the problem, no matter how big or small.
Behind the hospital care is the medicine that will help treat our health issues. And behind that medicine is the research. Those sitting in a waiting room are not often aware of the time and effort that is put into the IV bag, the painful shot, or the pill you swallow. For me, I have the rare and unique opportunity to witness first-hand the science behind the innovation.
That said, I too sometimes forget how incredible and valuable this research is for all of mankind. At the Institute for Medical Research Israeli-Canada (IMRIC) I meet with researchers and talk to them in their labs about their current investigations and findings. They tell me about the hours they spend behind those closed doors, often referring to their laboratory as a second home. On that same note, I see how the scientists become a family unit, working together on a particular project, crowding around results on a computer screen, and even blasting a song together as though they were in the middle of a karaoke bar.
Since I don’t have a science background I often focus my interview on translating the science language into laymen's terms. No small feat. But like most things do, somehow the outstanding investigations can get lost in translation. In this moment, since I have the time to think, I am very aware at just how important the research, no matter how basic, is fundamental to our health. The hours, weeks, years, of work that is put into a simple hypothesis, should not go unnoticed.
So whether it is the flu vaccine, pain killers for a broken arm, or something that keeps you in the ER overnight, just remember that the scientific collaboration from the thought and research to the medicine and care are crucial from beginning to end.
To learn more about IMRIC researchers click here.