The State of HSPH
Harvard Medical School
November 12, 2004
SLEEP MEDICINE: Extended Shifts for Residents Called Risky for Patients
Two articles in the Oct. 28 New England Journal of Medicine question the safety of the long hours that many medical residents work--up to 30 hours to a shift. The Harvard Medical School researchers, including Charles Czeisler (left) and Christopher Landrigan, showed that cutting shift times in half reduced signs of fatigue in interns as well as serious medical errors in patient care.
THE STATE OF HSPH: Bloom Reviews Faculty Research, Welcomes Allston Planning Role
With science and technology expected to be a major focus of the future Harvard Allston campus, it is incumbent upon HSPH to envision how public health best fits into this framework, said HSPH dean (and Red Sox Fan) Barry Bloom in his State of the School address. He noted that one measure of the interconnectedness of the HSPH faculty is that they are involved in half of the white papers being considered by the Allston subcommittee on science and technology in laying the early foundation for the new campus.
PATHOLOGY: Neurons Use Noodle When Motoring
During development, neurons migrate by the millions from the proliferative core of the fetal brain to the outer cortex, and their correct positioning is required for normal brain function. Li-Huei Tsai and her colleagues have used a novel gene-knockdown technique in samples of fetal mouse brain to uncover the critical role of the protein Ndel1 (pronounced "noodle one") in cortical neuron migration. Their work, published in the Oct. 15 Neuron, shows that Ndel1 helps to activate the cell motor protein dynein and is needed for the correct movement of the nucleus during cell migration. Defects in the process could play a role in diseases like schizophrenia, depression, autism, and adult epilepsy.
NEUROBIOLOGY: Technique Begins to Decode Spiny Signaling in Brain
Using a new two-laser microscope aimed at rat brain samples, Adam Carter and Bernardo Sabatini (at right) report in the Oct. 28 Neuron the first direct look at the receiving end of neurons necessary for voluntary movement. In people, these nerve cells are crucial in the circuitry that helps turn thoughts into actions that grow more fine-tuned with practice, such as playing the piano or perfecting a golf swing. The new technique is anticipated to enable scientists to understand the normal function and pathology of the neurons, which are involved in Parkinson's and Huntington's diseases.