5th Annual Scientific Forum features research results on tobacco-related diseases, cancer

February 27, 2008 · Print This Article

5th Annual Scientific Forum features research results on tobacco-related diseases, cancer
by Ellen Andrews
Baltimore Times
Originally posted 11/30/2007

Cancer and tobacco-related diseases were the topic of the University of Maryland Statewide Health Network’s (UMSHN) 5th annual Scientific Forum on November 19 at the Baltimore Marriott Inner Harbor hotel.

Cancer and tobacco-related diseases kill more than 400,000 people annually according to the National Institutes of Health. Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine are working to reduce this statistic. The one-day event featured the results of research projects of University of Maryland, Baltimore faculty. These research projects were supported in full or in part by Maryland’s Cigarette Restitution Fund Program (MCRFP) and focused on studies and field outreach work related to prevention, detection and treatment of cancer and other tobacco-related diseases.

The day opened with a welcome to Forum participants and guests from Claudia R. Baquet, M.D., MPH, Assoc. Dean for Policy and Planning, University of Maryland School of Medicine. �Each year this Forum has been marked by great strides in cancer research. I am confident that the work we do will benefit citizens throughout Maryland and beyond,� said Baquet. Baquet has a long background as a research scientist, and is considered a leading national expert on cancer in minority and low-income populations.

Greetings from Congressman Elijah Cummings were brought by Vernon Simms, chief of staff, office operations, community outreach and special projects; and from Mayor Sheila Dixon by Joshua Sharfstein, M.D., commissioner of health, City of Baltimore. Carlessia Hussein, R.N., Dr PH, director of the Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities and the Cigarette Restitution Fund Program was also a guest speaker at the morning session.

A number of plenary sessions were held in both the morning and afternoon, covering such studies being conducted as Biomarkers for Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Head and Neck; Interaction of Prenatal Nicotine and Hypoxia in Fetal Organs; Smoking, Peripheral Arterial Disease, Cognition and the Brain; The Relationship between Smoking and Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD); and Evaluation of Asthma Prevalence and Access to Appropriate Preventive Medical Care, a pilot study addressing the incidence of asthma and access to health care among Hispanic children in Maryland. There was opportunity for discussion following the presentations, and the presenters answered questions from the audience.

In addition to the researchers, medical students, technicians, physicians, scientists and faculty in attendance, a group of Bowie State University freshmen students attended the Forum. Also during the day, a newly designed health kiosk was previewed and available for demonstration during the Forum breaks. The free-standing machine, called C.H.E.R.I.S.H. (Community Health Education & Resource Information System Hub), will be installed at several community health centers throughout the city where it may be accessed by individuals. Questionnaires on an array of health subjects may be filled out with a score given informing the test taker of his or her general health knowledge or awareness. The health kiosks were funded through grants from the MCRFP, with some National Institutes of Health funding as well.

Featured keynote speaker for the morning session was Sidney A. McNairy, Jr., PhD, DSc., associate director and director, div. of research infrastructure, National Center for Research Resources, National Institutes of Health; and for the afternoon, Mandeep R. Mehra, M.D., Herbert Berger professor of medicine and chief, div. of cardiology, University of Maryland School of Medicine. McNairy gained favor and distinction for his dedication to advancing the nation’s biomedical research capacity and for his efforts to broaden opportunities for both underrepresented minority institutions, and institutions in 23 states and Puerto Rico that have had limited participation in the nation’s biomedical research agenda. Mandeep Mehra �is a nationally recognized expert in heart failure, cardiomyopathy, heart transplantation, and ventricular assist devices. He is an avid researcher, currently focusing on genetic testing in heart transplantation, development of new drug therapies to alleviate post transplant coronary disease, and the application of new non-surgical methods to support the failing heart.

The UMSHN is a unique, community-based infrastructure that supports a broad range of cancer prevention and control activities. UMSHN conducts educational outreach and promotion of clinical trials throughout Maryland. The mission of the �Other Tobacco Related Diseases (OTRD) Research� grant is to support the state’s efforts to reduce morbidity and mortality through research in three areas: health services, research, clinical and translational research. For more information go online to mdhealthnetwork.org. or call
(410) 706-1742.


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