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Archive for December, 2009

Regenerative Medicine Expert Jacques Galipeau, MD, Joins Emory

Monday, December 28th, 2009

Jacques Galipeau, MD, has joined Emory University and the Winship Cancer Institute as visiting professor in hematology and medical oncology and visiting professor in Emory’s Department of Pediatrics. Galipeau joins Emory from McGill University in Montreal.

A Georgia Cancer Coalition Distinguished Scholar, Galipeau is a world-renowned expert in cell and gene therapy of cancer and immune ailments and will also serve as co-director of the Emory-Georgia Tech Center for Regenerative Medicine (GTEC). In addition, his goal is to establish a new cell therapy facility that will conduct “first-in-human” clinical studies of innovative new therapies.

“Dr. Galipeau’s work has advanced the field of immune response and opened the door to important research in cell based therapies for cancer, arthritis and lupus,” David Stephens, MD, vice president for research, Emory Woodruff Health Sciences Center, says.

Most recently, Galipeau led a multidisciplinary team of researchers in developing a breakthrough experimental treatment that put multiple sclerosis into remission in mice by suppressing the immune system. The work was published in the September 2009 issue of Nature Medicine.

The treatment, named GIFT15, puts MS into remission by suppressing the immune response. GIFT15 is composed of two proteins, GSM-CSF and interleukin-15, fused together artificially in the lab. Under normal circumstances, the individual proteins act to stimulate the immune system, but in their fused form, the equation reverses itself. In addition, unlike earlier immune-suppressing therapies which rely on chemical pharmaceuticals, this approach is a personalized form of cellular therapy which utilizes the body’s own cells to suppress immunity.

“Dr. Galipeau’s work in enzyme replacement therapy is widely cited and has the potential for great impact in pediatric medicine,” says Barbara Stoll, MD, chair of the Emory University School of Medicine Department of Pediatrics. “Emory and all of Georgia will benefit from Dr. Galipeau’s presence here.”

Galipeau has more than 90 publications in peer-reviewed scientific journals and is a Diplomat of the American Board of Internal Medicine, a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Canada, and was a commissioned officer in the Canadian Armed Forces with Honorable Discharge at the rank of Infantry Captain. After earning his medical degree at the University of Montreal, Faculty of Medicine, Galipeau conducted a fellowship in hematology-oncology at Tufts University in Boston and a post doctoral fellowship in gene therapy at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis.

Edmund Waller, MD, PhD, director of Winship’s Bone Marrow and Stem Cell Transplant Center, says, “Dr. Galipeau is a visionary translational scientist. He will bring Emory and Georgia to the next level in immune response cancer research and in the delivery of effective cell therapy for cancer patients as well as other diseases such as multiple sclerosis.”


Robert Richard, MD, FACS Named Medical Director of Bariatric Surgery at Gwinnett Medica Center

Monday, December 28th, 2009

Gwinnett Medical Center recently welcomed Robert Richard, M.D., FACS to the medical staff. Dr. Richard comes from Northeast Georgia and is now the Medical Director of Bariatric Surgery at GMC. Richard is a board certified surgeon who has performed bariatric weight loss surgeries for more than a decade.

Richard earned his undergraduate degree at Cornell University and was an intern and resident at Harvard University/Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. He received his medical degree from Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, NY.

Prior to joining GMC, Richard was the Medical Director of Bariatric Surgery, Northeast Georgia Health System.  He has practiced with Surgical Specialists of Georgia since 2002.


First National Urgent Care Franchise Opens In Atlanta

Monday, December 28th, 2009

Chris and Theone Rutledge will use their business backgrounds to create a new urgent care practice, Doctors Express, the first national urgent care franchise.  The Doctors Express will be located at the intersection of I-75 and Howell Mill Road. . The franchise owners will use a business approach to deliver affordable, efficient, non emergency treatment to almost anyone who walks in.

The Atlanta Doctors Express urgent care center will be open 7 days a week and accept walk-ins.  Patients will always be seen by board certified physicians.

Georgia ER physician Dr. John Destito will serve as the Medical Director.  The center will have x-ray and lab test equipment on site, along with an in-house pharmacy.

“Atlanta can benefit from fresh approaches to medical service and we feel with our business backgrounds we can provide an innovative solution with Doctors Express,” says Chris Rutledge who plans to open several more centers next year to serve the greater Atlanta metropolitan area. “Emergency rooms are overloaded, and patients with non-life-threatening illnesses and injuries need a more convenient and affordable way to get treated by experienced physicians.  We believe Doctors Express is an efficient, lower cost alternative to health care that will be highly valued in Atlanta communities.”

Doctors Express  was originally founded by an emergency room physician and two business executives in Towson, Maryland.  After they developed a successful business model, they started to franchise with some twenty five territories sold to date.  The long term goal is to have some 3,000 centers across the nation.

The Doctors Express Atlanta urgent care center opened in December at 1800 Howell Mill Road, NW in Buckhead at the intersection of I-75 and Howell Mill Road.


Progesterone Should Be Considered a Viable Treatment Option for Traumatic Brain Injury, Say Experts

Sunday, December 27th, 2009

In a clinical perspective article in the January 2010 issue of American Journal of Roentgenology, currently online, researchers at Emory University recommend that progesterone, a naturally occurring hormone found in both males and females that can protect damaged cells in the central and peripheral nervous systems, be considered a viable treatment option for traumatic brain injuries.

“Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is an important clinical problem in the United States and around the world,” says Donald G. Stein, PhD, Asa G. Candler Professor of Emergency Medicine at Emory School of Medicine and lead author of the article. “TBI has received more attention recently because of its high incidence among combat casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Current Department of Defense statistics indicated that as many as 30 percent of wounded soldiers seen at Walter Reed Army Hospital have suffered a TBI, a finding that has stimulated government interest in developing a safe and effective treatment for this complex disorder,” Stein continues.

“Growing evidence indicates that post-injury administration of progesterone in a variety of brain damage models can have beneficial effects, leading to substantial and sustained improvements in brain functionality.”

“Progesterone given to both males and females can cross the blood-brain barrier and reduce edema (swelling) levels after TBI,” adds Stein. “In different models of cerebral ischemia (restriction of blood supply) it can significantly reduce the area of necrotic cell death and improve behavioral outcomes. In addition, it can protect neurons distal to the injury that would normally die.”

The city of Atlanta will soon serve as the national epicenter for a groundbreaking NIH-sponsored Phase III trial for the treatment of traumatic brain injuries using the hormone progesterone.

The national study, coined ProTECT III, is multicenter, randomized, double-blind study, which will enroll 1,140 patients over five years at 17 medical centers in 15 states. Atlanta’s Grady Memorial Hospital will serve as the lead center, led by Emory University School of Medicine faculty researchers, as well as faculty from the Morehouse School of Medicine.

Every 15 seconds, someone in the United States sustains a significant traumatic brain injury. Approximately 2 million adults and children in the United States suffers from traumatic brain injuries each year – leading to 50,000 deaths and 80,000 new cases of long-term disability, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Despite the enormity of the problem, scientists have failed to identify effective medications to improve outcomes following a traumatic brain injury.

“Given its relatively high safety profile, its ease of administration, its low cost and ready availability, PROG should be considered a viable treatment option — especially because, in brain injury, so little else is currently available,” says Stein.

Stein pioneered discoveries regarding the effect of progesterone following traumatic brain injury – first discovering the neuro-protective properties of progesterone in the laboratory.

Iqbal Sayeed, assistant professor of emergency medicine, Emory School of Medicine, is co-author of the American Journal of Roentgenology article.

For more information or to view a copy of the article online, please visit:


Georgia Society of Plastic Surgeons’ Scientific and Business Meeting

Saturday, December 12th, 2009

December 12, 2009 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, Atlanta.


North Georgia Medical Managers Association Meeting

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

December 10, 2009 at the Dalton Golf and Country Club.  For more information, visit GMGMA’s web site.


Status Quo on Health Care Is Not the Answer, Say Experts

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

The consequences of a “no” vote in the halls of Congress and the possible quashing of health care reform will only propel the erosion of health care coverage in the United States, say experts in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) Online First.

In the NEJM Perspective piece – titled “The Consequences of ‘No’” – authors Arthur L. Kellermann, MD, MPH, associate dean for health policy, Emory University School of Medicine, and Lawrence S. Lewin, MBA, say health care costs and coverage are tightly intertwined.

Kellermann says, “Almost all the focus has been on analyzing the implications of the two remaining bills – the one passed by the House and the one that is about to be debated in the Senate. But there is a third option that warrants equal scrutiny – it is a “No” vote. If it were a bill, its sponsors could call it ‘The Status Quo Act of 2009.’”

The authors write that for more than four decades health care costs have grown faster than our national economy. As a result, health care consumes a steadily growing share of federal and state budgets and the budgets of American families.

The authors point to a recent Institute of Medicine (IOM) committee’s analysis of the current trajectory of the U.S. health care system. It looked at the dynamics driving downward trends in insurance coverage and examined the health consequences of the lack of insurance for individual adults, children and communities. The IOM committee report, released earlier this year, built on and updated the previous IOM efforts resulting in six reports on health care between 2001 and 2004. The authors, who chaired these committees, say the reports paint a compelling picture of the harmful health and financial effects of the status quo – not only for people without coverage but also for people who have health insurance.

In addition, say Kellermann and Lewin, relentless cost growth threatens employer-sponsored insurance, undermines publicly funded programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, and renders individual insurance policies inadequate or unaffordable. Most Americans get coverage through their workplace, but the proportion is falling.

Kellermann notes, “If nothing is done, all the indications are that employer-sponsored health insurance will continue to erode, public insurance programs like Medicare and Medicaid will become unaffordable, the private insurance market will be priced out of sight and the number of uninsured will grow to an unsustainable level. And these changes aren’t decades away, they are happening right now.”

Several factors are driving the decline in coverage, say the authors. Fewer workers, particularly among low wage earners, are being offered health insurance. Manufacturing jobs, which traditionally provided generous benefits, have been replaced by service jobs such as wholesale and retail trades that typically cover fewer employees. Rising premiums are encouraging employers to hire more part-time workers and contractors who don’t receive benefits. More employers are dropping coverage; others are shifting a larger share of insurance costs to their employees through decreased wages, higher premiums and steeper copayments. As a result, fewer workers can afford employer-sponsored insurance.

Adults who can’t get coverage through work, are too young for Medicare and don’t qualify for Medicaid have only one option — individual health insurance, continue Kellermann and Lewin. Consumer Reports describes the individual insurance market as a “nightmare” for consumers, say the authors. In recent years, several states have attempted to reform the individual health insurance market, with little success.

“Coverage matters,” say Kellermann and Lewin. “On average, uninsured Americans get about half the preventive services and medical care that insured Americans receive. Studies have shown that uninsured people with cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung diseases, and other conditions are more likely to have poor health and to die prematurely than similar people with coverage. The available safety-net services are insufficient to overcome the gap between those who have health insurance and those who do not.”

As a result, adds Lewin, the argument that we need not expand access to insurance as there is plenty of free care available, is contradicted by the dramatic difference in health outcomes for those without insurance coverage.

The economic consequences of a lack of insurance are equally grim. If even one family member lacks coverage, the entire family is exposed to the financial burden of severe illness or injury. In 2009, 20 percent of uninsured adults used up all or most of their savings paying medical bills. If states cut their Medicaid programs when American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding runs out, uncompensated care will increase sharply, say the authors.

“The burden this increase will impose on health care providers will be more than some can bear,” say Kellermann and Lewin. “If many safety-net clinics and hospitals close their doors, the patients these institutions served will have nowhere else to go. When they end up in private hospital emergency departments and inpatient beds, it could trigger additional facility closures. Access to care will be diminished for the insured and uninsured alike.”

The authors conclude by saying a vote for the status quo may be politically tempting, but it won’t stop the steady erosion of coverage in the United States.

Find the full article at click here.


Bassel El-Rayes, MD, Joins Winship Cancer Institute

Monday, December 7th, 2009

Bassel F. El-Rayes, MD, has joined Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University as associate professor in hematology and medical oncology and director of Winship’s Gastrointestinal Oncology Program.

El-Rayes joins Winship from the Karmanos Cancer Center, part of Wayne State University in Detroit. His primary area of clinical and research interest is in pancreatic cancer, and he has published extensively in peer-reviewed scientific journals and has authored books, book chapters and numerous case reports. He serves as a manuscript reviewer for Oncology, Cancer Chemotherapy and Pharmacology and The American Journal of Clinical Oncology.

“Dr. El-Rayes is an exceptional physician scientist who combines an impressive academic track record with a sincere devotion to patient care,” says Fadlo Khuri, MD, chairman of the Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology. “He will bring a high level of experience to our already strong gastrointestinal cancers group. We place great value on multidisciplinary care, and Dr. El-Rayes will contribute immediately to this important team within Winship.”

El-Rayes earned his medical degree at American University in Beirut and completed his fellowship at Karmanos Cancer Center.

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Schmidt Performs Single Incision Laparoscopic Colon Resection Surgery

Monday, December 7th, 2009

David Schmidt, MD is one of a few surgeons in the state to successfully perform a left colon SILS. “Adapting and advancing the SILS technique to remove the colon cancer in an identical surgical technique avoids the large intra-abdominal incision and provides a much easier recovery,” said Dr. Schmidt.

The surgery took place at Gwinnett Medical Center.

This surgical advancement reduces scarring, facilitates healing and may reduce infection rates in the colon, which is prone to infection given the large amount of bacteria and waste products in the bowel.

According to healthcare researchers from Hospital Review, proliferation of single incision laparoscopic surgery (SILS) is listed as one of the top five medtech trends of 2009 and is quickly becoming the procedure method of choice.

Traditionally, surgeons use a scalpel that cuts about an 8 inch incision across the abdomen. The new single incision technique requires no more than 2 cm. right under the bellybutton.

“The patient came in with colon cancer. He was able to use the SILS technique to remove the cancer through a 2 cm incision through her bellybutton,” said Debbie Walker, RNFA.

The patient benefits of a single incision procedure include no scarring, faster recovery time and much less pain. Doctors even say that patients aren’t using the pain medications prescribed to them because they are recovering at a much faster speed than anticipated.

“The quicker we can get our patients moving, the faster the recovery time is for them. This decreases post-operative complications which lead to a decrease in the overall length of their stay,” says Nancy Stockwell, RN and clinical manager for GMC. “Technology makes a significant impact on the quality of care GMC provides. Simply put, the minimally invasive technique is a highly effective surgical option we can now offer to our community.”


Schreiber Named VP and Chief Medical Officer for Piedmont Hospital

Monday, December 7th, 2009

Matthew J. Schreiber, M.D., was named vice president and chief medical officer for Piedmont Hospital. He is responsible for the functions and overall coordination of all aspects of hospital medical staff affairs including physician/allied health practitioner credentialing, medical staff office, medical staff development plan, quality management, Joint Commission readiness, inpatient medicine service (hospitalist program) and the critical care/intensivist program.

“During the past seven months, Dr. Schreiber has ably and effectively served as interim vice president and chief medical officer at Piedmont Hospital,” said Robert W. Maynard, president and chief executive officer of Piedmont Hospital. “Since 2003, he has served in various leadership and clinical roles within Piedmont Healthcare. We are pleased to have him as a permanent member of the Piedmont Hospital leadership team.”

Dr. Schreiber’s positions with Piedmont Healthcare during the past six years have included medical director for hospitalist services at Piedmont Healthcare; medical director of case management and chairman of utilization management committee at Piedmont Hospital; physician board member of Piedmont Medical Care Corporation and the Piedmont Clinic. In addition, he has served on the physician leadership cabinet of Piedmont Healthcare and as a hospitalist at both Piedmont Hospital and Piedmont Mountainside Hospital. Dr. Schreiber also practiced internal medicine in Jasper, Georgia, for several years before joining Piedmont Healthcare.

Dr. Schreiber holds a bachelor’s degree in international relations and met pre-med requirements at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. He earned a doctor of medicine from New York State/Sackler School of Medicine and completed a combined internal medicine/pediatrics residency at the University of California in San Diego. He is board-certified by both the American Board of Internal Medicine and the American Board of Pediatrics.



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