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Dr Vikram Prabhu quoted In Men's Health

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Brain Tumors

4 things you should know about Kennedy's brain cancer
By: Dave Orlansky

The news involving U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) raises the frightening spectre of brain cancer.In the last decade this mysterious disease has been linked to everything from cell-phone usage to microwaves. A recent Dutch study found that one in 60 older people may have a benign brain tumor, but not know about it.The questions on many men's minds this week: How likely am I to get it? What can I do to avoid it? Here are four important things to keep in mind:

Early detection is key:  About 30,000 new brain tumors are diagnosed in the U.S. each year. The cancerous types share common symptoms. You need to know them: "There are many varieties of brain tumors, but the most common symptoms are seizures, unexplained nausea, speech difficulties, and headaches that worsen throughout the day," says Dr. Vikram Prabhu, M.D., F.A.C.S., Neurosurgeon, Loyola University Hospital in Maywood, Ill. "Don't rush into an MRI scan unless you identify with one of these symptoms." 

Your cell phone will not give you a brain tumor: There is no known cause of brain tumors—and that includes your cell phone. "There is no conclusive evidence that cell phone usage is a cause of brain cancer," says Dr. Prabhu. Ditto for the microwave oven.

Age matters: According to Dr. Alfredo D. Voloschin, neuro-oncologist at the Medical College of Georgia, people between 55 and 75 have the highest incidence of these tumors. Studies have also shown that Caucasians are at higher risk for brain cancer than African Americans. It is slightly more prominent in men than women. 

It is unpredictable: "Brain tumors are a completely sporadic occurrence without any proven hereditary quality," Dr. Prabhu says. So your risk is no higher if a family member has had brain cancer. On the down side, being healthy is no guarantee you won't develop a brain tumor. The important thing is to stay alert for the common symptoms, especially as you enter your 50s.

Vikram Prabhu, MD, FACS

Associate Professor
Neurological Surgery
Radiation Oncology
Medical Director, Neurosurgery
Special Interests: 
Brain Tumors
Peripheral Nerve
Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center
Loyola Outpatient Center - Medical Specialties
Medical School: 
St. John's Medical College, India 
West Virginia University Hospitals - Neurological Surgery 
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center - Neurosurgical Oncology 
Neurological Surgery - General Cert: AM Board of Neurological Surgery 


Autumn Muse 2008

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Hey Johnites ! Its Autumn !

Its Autumn. And now its the most happening time of the year! Its Autumn Muse ! Dont miss it !

(The St. Johns Arts and Sports Inter College Fest)
The autumn Fest is an intercultural and sports event hosted by Saint John's with about 36 colleges from all over India participating.This was on hold for two years but will be back this year.

Tentative Dates announced October 19 - 22

Batch of 2005 and 2007 all set to put up a grand show and rejuvinate the spirit of Muse.
For updates Check this space !

Amal Isaiah reports from Leadership Summit in Hawaii

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Hi, I am Amal and I am a second year DPhil (PhD) student in Neurophysiology at the University of Oxford. I graduated from St John's two years back. I thought it would be nice to share with the North American chapter one of the most surreal experiences of my life on my first trip to the United States.

I was selected to go to the 47th International Achievement Summit on the big Island of Hawaii which just concluded today. They brought together some of the world's best students in top universities- MIT, Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, Cambridge and so on. Having won some of the well known scholarships and fellowships like Rhodes, Howard Hughes, White House Fellowships, Kennedy etc, these students discussed with some of the best known public figures like Ralph Nader, Sally Field, Elias Zehrouni and George Lucas, issues that the world faced today both in the developed and the developing world. Set in an ethereal environment, the summit spanned five days and at the end of it, I began to introspect on what I experienced in St John's which is what I would like to share with you. This piece comes out of a sense of belonging to St John's and a  strong desire to move this institution forward. Selection to St John's is something that my parents still talk about as being the biggest positive change in our recent times (my family is from Kerala).

First, some of the speakers were from a league of men and women who were pretty much self-built: Greg Mortenson of the United States Army who was on a mission to climb the K2 peak in Pakistan finally ended up building hundreds of schools for girls that made him the subject of a Fatwa, issued by the Taliban-influenced clerics. Then there was General Wesley Clark who recounted battlefront experiences with NATO and his tenure as the commander of the allied presence in Kosovo. They repeatedly emphasised the importance of creative and independent thinking and I think most of the graduates who came left (or are leaving) inspired.

I had a wonderful opportunity to meet new friends particularly at UCSF, on the Howard Hughes Fellowships. Two of these guys, young and clever, are travelling to India on the Indo-US Science and Technology Forum. The forum was created in 2005 for advancement of science, with an initial corpus of just over a million dollars. It's grown to much more than that and I see this as an opportunity for St John's to benefit from. IUSSTF has announced application deadlines for grants that will enable knowledge transfer and cooperation among advanced schools in US and India, in the field of biomedical research. There is indeed an opportunity for St John's to build collaborative efforts with premier biomedical schools in the United States, while piggybacking on its own rapidly developing Research Institute.

When I joined St John's in 2000, the institution was undergoing rapid change. The research institute was coming into being, there was a change in leadership and the medical school was fighting court cases for sovereignty in its admission policy more intensely than ever. Fees were hiked in 2003 and we ceased to sustain ourselves on government medical school class fees. A yardstick that is frequently used for comparison is the famed Christian Medical College in Vellore which increased its fees by barely 150 Rupees! I still remember reading an interview where the reasons given for the lack of certain amenities as being the low fees charged by the school to its students. Three years later, there was a massive hike in fees but we failed to realize any of the immediate benefits like computers for students; not even communal computers for checking email etc (probably allocated for other important resources like faculty salaries). There is actually a service that was initiated by the batch of 1999 that provides for basic internet connectivity although I doubt if it runs on broadband. I still remember when I was applying for scholarships two years ago, I used to wait in the 'Net Center' for 30 min to type out my CV or take some printouts with almost minimal access to the new cluster that was started by Rajiv Gandhi University for free access to journals. I still get requests from students in St John's for electronic versions of journal articles and although not permitted by the university, I end up providing them with those papers anyways. While St John's is undergoing a wonderful transition in preparing itself for major inroads in clinical research, there remain several OPPORTUNITIES to improve--I am always concerned for the students who could benefit MORE from the transformation that's taking place.

There appears to be a need for streamlining the curriculum for medical school to take care of these shortcomings. There is a need for collaborations with non-medical professionals in areas of basic science, analytical skills and computing expertise. Why do medical schools not tap the potential of students who come from a natural sciences background and force upon them exercises in memorization and take away from them their instinct to innovate? I feel there is TREMENDOUS OPPORTUNITY to utilize the talent in St John's   . The importance of transferable skills is huge; with the signaling model, which essentially triggered the enormous volume of literature. In this model, highly qualified physicians can signal their respective skills to prospective employers by acquiring a certain degree of education, which is often difficult to arrange/acquire. Employers will pay higher salaries to more educated candidates, because they know that the proportion of employees with high abilities is higher among the educated ones, as it is less costly for them to acquire education than it is for employees with low abilities. Over a period of time, this could transform the state of medical education.

My suggestion for the theme of a technology transfer initiative from US is to equip these students with skills that no other school in India provides. Remember that India, in spite of having an equal number of medical schools as the US, doesn't allow for a single MBBS/PhD candidate (MD/PhD equivalent) while some of the smaller countries like Israel have a significant proportion of the graduating medical students in the MD/PhD genre. Statistics, computing (not limited to word processing and calculations but the use of specialised software that lays the platform down for biomedical and public health research) and writing skills are the need of the hour. David Caretto is an HHMI fellow under Abul Abbas (chair of Pathology, UCSF) who is flying to India to teach medical students current Immunology. Professor Abbas also serves on the panel of the Indo-US Tech Transfer forum and has considerable influence on the allocation of funds. There is also a group of medical students from UCSF who is prepared to co-operate in the design of a research curriculum for integration into our usual medical course. I am looking forward to discussing and engaging the leadership at St John's and the Alumni the relevance of this scheme and in the process, lay foundations for the first integrated course in India. These students will need to be supported to contribute effectively later on. Who knows, we might even have support for a few MD/PhD students in the future! 

Here is a link to the Indo-US Tech Transfer Forum.

Kind regards

Amal Isaiah
DPhil Student in Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics
St. John's College,
St. Giles
Oxford OX1 3JP

mailto: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


HCV Advocate Weekly News Review: Dr. Patrick Kamath

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Liver Disease Score Predicts Outcome of Variceal Hemorrhage
By David Douglas

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) Jun 02 - In patients with cirrhosis and acute variceal hemorrhage, the MELD (Model for End-stage Liver Disease) score and the need for packed red blood cells (PRBCs) are indicative of early re-bleeding and death, researchers report in the June issue of Gut.

Dr. Patrick S. Kamath and colleagues at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota note that there is no well-established model for accurate prediction of survival after variceal bleeding in patients with cirrhosis.

However, they point out, the MELD score for classifying liver transplant candidates was originally developed from a cohort of patients with cirrhosis undergoing intrahepatic portosystemic shunting.

The researchers investigated the prognostic utility of the MELD score in 256 cirrhotic patients with acute variceal hemorrhage who had taken part in a subsequently abandoned randomized clinical trial of lanreotide, an agent that proved to have no influence on the condition.

Thirty-five patients (14%) died within 6 weeks of hemorrhage and 14 (40%) of these deaths took place within 5 days.

Univariate analysis showed that only the MELD score and the number of units of PRBCs needed during the first 24 hours were predictive of death. For every 1 point increase in the MELD score there was an 8% increase in the risk of death at 5 days and an 11% increase at 6 weeks.

In total, 37 patients (15%) experienced re-bleeding within 5 days. For every 1 point increase in the MELD score, there was a 5% increase in the risk of re-bleeding within 5 days. In addition, patients with a MELD score of 18 or more were at significantly greater risk than those with lower scores.

Dr. Kamath told Reuters Health that, because patients with a MELD score of more than 18 who require more than 4 units of red-cell transfusion are at greater risk for 6-week mortality, "these patients should preferably be treated at or referred promptly to centers that carry out liver transplantation."

In addition, because patients with a MELD score of greater than 18 have a higher risk of re-bleeding within days, he concluded, such patients with "active esophageal variceal bleeding should be hospitalized for at least 5 days."

Gut 2008;57:814-820.



Amal Isaiah To Participate In the Achievement Summit In Hawaii

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Please join me in congratulating Rhodes Scholar Amal Isaiah.

 He has been invited 'Achievement Summit' as one among 50 graduate students from the world over.

The plan is to bring these 50 graduate students together with 50 world leaders in Hawaii during the first week of July.

 What is a Rhodes Scholar ?

A Rhodes Scholar is a winner of one of the approximately 90 Rhodes Scholarships awarded each year by the Rhodes foundation. Rhodes Scholar recipients study at Oxford University, in England, for one to two years. This study may be applied to the degree the Scholar may be working towards at another University, or it may serve to complete a degree. The Rhodes Scholar may also be seeking an advanced degree. In fact, many use their scholarship to pursue Master’s or Ph.D. programs at Oxford.

The Rhodes Trust was established in 1902, through the will of Cecil John Rhodes. Students eligible to apply to become a Rhodes Scholar were and still are supposed to have a fondness for sports, or success in sports, strong moral character, devotion to duty, interest in one’s fellow citizens and desire to lead. Initially the scholarship was awarded to students solely from the US, the UK, and Germany.

With the beginning of World War I, a German could not become a Rhodes Scholar. Ability for Germans to apply was not reinstated until after WWII. However, no German student became a Rhodes Scholar again until 1971. Today, citizens of countries that are free and democratic are eligible to submit applications for Rhodes Scholarships. Women, however, were not permitted to apply until 1977.

Different countries receive a yearly allocation for the number or Rhodes Scholarships. For example in the US, there are 32 scholarships available year. Canada has 11. Germany is only allowed two scholarships. Most smaller countries are only allowed one to two scholarships per year.

Being a Rhodes Scholar is quite an accomplishment and comes with extraordinary benefits. Not only is full tuition paid, but students also receive a generous stipend to live on, and may receive additional scholarships through Oxford. A number of quite famous people were once honored by being made a Rhodes Scholar


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