Posts made in February, 2013

American Diabetes Assoc. Awards Undergraduate Minority Internship Grant to PAMF Research Institute

Researchers at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute (PAMFRI) have received an award from the American Diabetes Association to support a minority undergraduate intern in the area of diabetes research.  The grant funds the one-year internship that began in February 2013 and finances support for an undergraduate minority student to gain valuable hands-on experience in diabetes research. 

Dr. Latha Palaniappan (left) and Perri Smith at the 2012 Stanford Human Biology Research Exploration Program Poster Session.

Perri Smith, a Stanford University student majoring in Human Biology, will join PAMFRI’s Latha Palaniappan, M.D., M.S. and her research team, to study gestational diabetes among Asian Americans. Ms. Smith has previously participated in research at PAMFRI through the Stanford Human Biology Research Exploration Program. 

Gestational diabetes occurs when women develop high blood glucose levels during pregnancy. Women with gestational diabetes may have increased perinatal health risks and are also at increased risk for the development of type 2 diabetes later in life. 

Research has shown that Asian Americans have the highest rates of gestational diabetes in the United States, yet there is limited information regarding the racial/ethnic differences in gestational diabetes among Asian American subgroups (Asian Indians, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese). The Gestational Diabetes Study at PAMFRI seeks to better understand specific racial/ethnic differences in risk factors for gestational diabetes, problems associated with gestational diabetes, and the progression of women to type 2 diabetes following a pregnancy complicated by gestational diabetes.

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New Research to Examine Link between Diet and Asthma Control

Can healthier eating improve asthma control? That question will be explored in a new pilot study of the DASH diet in not-well-controlled adult asthma. The research is a collaborative project with physician researchers at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute, Kaiser Permanente Northern California, and Stanford University School of Medicine. 

Beginning in February 2013, patients in select Bay Area medical centers of the Permanente Medical Group will be recruited to participate. The study will continue through May 2014. The two-year study received a grant award of $708,000 from the National Institutes of Health

Rigorous research on the effect of a healthy eating pattern on asthma control among adults is lacking. This pilot study aims to provide preliminary outcome and feasibility data necessary to design and conduct a full-scale randomized controlled trial that will determine the efficacy of Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) as adjunct therapy to standard care for adults with uncontrolled asthma.  

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New Research on Mental Health Patient Engagement Published in Health Affairs

Entitled the “New Era of Patient Engagement,” the February issue of Health Affairs features a collection of articles focusing on the topic of patient engagement. This special edition includes a paper on engaging mental health patients, written by Ming Tai-Seale, Ph.D., MPH, a senior investigator with the Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute (PAMFRI). 

Dr. Tai-Seale addressing the audience at the Health Affairs Conference. (Photo credit: Samuel Hurd)

Dr. Tai-Seale’s article is entitled, “Patients with Mental Health Needs are Engaged in Asking Questions, but Physicians’ Responses Vary.” She conducted the research with Patricia K. Foo, a medical doctor candidate and doctoral candidate in economics at Stanford University and a research associate at PAMFRI, and Cheryl D. Stults, Ph.D., also a PAMFRI research associate. 

In the study’s abstract, Dr. Tai-Seale states that, “Increased patient engagement is of particular interest regarding patients with mental health needs, given the high burden of mental illness in the United States and the potential for greater patient engagement to improve health outcomes. Little is known about the extent to which these patients ask questions of their physicians, how physicians respond, and what the relationship is between patients’ questions and visit outcomes.” 

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PAMF Serves as Official Medical Provider of SAP Open

The Palo Alto Medical Foundation is pleased to serve as the Official Medical Provider of the SAP Open tennis tournament at HP Pavilion at San Jose, February 11 – 17, 2013. Richard Gayle, M.D., a sports medicine and orthopedics expert, will serve as head tournament physician. Dr. Gayle will oversee physician coverage and will work alongside the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) athletic trainers in coordinating care of the tennis players.

The SAP Open has a strong tennis history and is now playing in its 125th year.  It is the second oldest men’s professional tennis tournament in the United States. Started in 1889 at Old Del Monte Lodge in Monterey, Calif., the tournament predates the French, Italian and Australian Opens.

“Professional tennis has had a long and storied history in the Bay Area and we are very pleased to be providing medical coverage for this event involving such an elite caliber of professional tennis players from around the world,” said Dr. Gayle.

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HMO Research Network Honors PAMF Research Institute Work

Dr. Powell Jose to receive Early Career Investigator Award

The Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute (PAMFRI) has recently become a full member of the HMO Research Network, a consortium of 19 health care delivery organizations with the mission to use collective scientific capabilities to integrate research and medical practice for the improvement of health and health care among diverse populations.

As a part of the HMO Research Network, researchers at PAMFRI are able to connect with collaborators and leverage shared resources to conduct comparative effectiveness studies and health services research.

Harold S. Luft, Ph.D., PAMFRI Director, said, “Joining the HMO Research Network allows us to compare our research with that of other large, well-established research units including those at Kaiser, Group Health, Marshfield, Geisinger and Harvard.”

 In April 2013, the HMO Research Network will award an Early Career Investigator Award to Powell Jose, M.D., assistant research physician at the PAMF Research Institute.  Dr. Jose is broadly interested in preventive medicine with particular interest in chronic diseases, including heart disease and diabetes.  His research focuses on chronic disease epidemiology and examining racial/ethnic disparities in cardiovascular risk factors and disease burden. 

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