Top Research Discoveries from Medical Schools in New York State

  •  
    Whipple surgical procedure for pancreatic cancer
  •  
    Lack of synaptic pruning in autism
  •  
    Development of extracorporeal oxygenator used in open-heart surgery. First successful open heart surgery in New York State.
  •  
    First widely used vaccine against bacterial pneumonia (PPSV23).
  •  
    Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV), or HHV8
  •  
    Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator Improves Survival in Patients with Heart Failure
  •  
    A new DNA sequencing method, called Maximum Depth Sequencing (MDS)
  •  
    Key research in the field of neuronal plasticity
  •  
    Infants and children are uniquely sensitive to pesticides and other toxic chemicals in the environment
  •  
    Traffic Light Diet to counteract childhood obesity
  •  
    Huntington’s disease gene
 

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Browse Research Discoveries by School

Albert Einstein College of MedicineColumbia University College Of Physicians and SurgeonsHofstra Northwell School of Medicine at Hofstra UniversityIcahn School of Medicine at Mount SinaiJacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, the University at BuffaloNew York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic MedicineNew York University School of MedicineSchool of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Rochester Medical CenterStony Brook University School of MedicineSUNY Downstate Medical CenterSUNY Upstate Medical UniversityTouro College of Osteopathic Medicine
 
 
 

Whipple surgical procedure for pancreatic cancer

Institution:

Columbia University College Of Physicians and Surgeons

Researchers:

Allen O. Whipple, Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons

Impact:

Starting in the 19th century, attempts to treat pancreatic cancer with surgery were confined to removing part of the pancreas while leaving surrounding organs intact. In 1935, Whipple and colleagues published a report on a more extensive procedure, known as pancreaticoduodenectomy, in three patients with pancreatic cancer. Whipple’s two-stage procedure involves removing the head, or widest part, of the pancreas, the duodenum, and a portion of the stomach as well as the gallbladder and part of the common bile duct. The remaining stomach, bile duct, and pancreas are reconnected to the digestive tract. Today, most surgeons use a variation of the procedure that leaves the pylorus (the opening of the stomach into the duodenum) intact. In 1945, Whipple gave a presentation at the New York Academy of Medicine describing modifications that allowed him to transform the procedure into a one-stage operation. The Whipple procedure is still the most common operation to treat patients with pancreatic cancer.

Timeline:

1935-1945

 

Lack of synaptic pruning in autism

Institution:

Columbia University College Of Physicians and Surgeons

Researchers:

David Sulzer, PhD, professor of neurobiology in psychiatry, neurology, and pharmacology, and Guomei Tang, PhD, assistant professor of neurological sciences, Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons

Impact:

Approximately 2 percent of children are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which has been associated with mutations in hundreds of genes. However, evidence has also suggested that ASD may be rooted in abnormalities of brain development. During childhood and adolescence, the brain undergoes a process called synaptic pruning to eliminate old and damaged synapses in the cerebral cortex. This process is thought to be important for intellectual and behavioral development, including responses to sensory input. Sulzer and Tang discovered that children with ASD had much less synaptic pruning—about 16 percent—compared with children without ASD, who had roughly half of their synapses pruned. They also found that the brain cells of children with ASD lacked a degradation pathway called autophagy, filling their cells with old and damaged components. The researchers are exploring new treatments to modulate this pathway, as well as biomarkers that may indicate different categories of ASD.

Timeline:

2014

 

Development of extracorporeal oxygenator used in open-heart surgery. First successful open heart surgery in New York State.

Institution:

SUNY Downstate Medical Center

Researchers:

Clarence Dennis, MD, MA, PhD, SUNY Downstate Medical Center, professor and chair of surgery, 1951-1972.

Impact:

Dennis pioneered the heart-lung bypass machine and attempted the world’s first open heart operation supported by such a device in April, 1951, while at the University of Minnesota. Five months later, in September 1951, he transferred to SUNY Downstate Medical Center and continued his research on the technology and surgical techniques that would make surgical treatment of heart disease possible. The heart-lung machine was one of the most important medical technologies developed in the post-World War II era, making possible a vast expansion in the surgical treatment of heart disease. One of Dennis’s heart-lung machines is housed in the Smithsonian.

Timeline:

1950s. In 1951, while at the University of Minnesota, Dennis performed the first ever open heart surgery using the machine he invented; the surgery was unsuccessful. In 1955, he performed his first successful open-heart surgery using the machine at Downstate’s affiliate, Kings County Hospital Center.  The operation was the second successful open heart surgery to be performed in the United States and the first such operation in New York State.

 

First widely used vaccine against bacterial pneumonia (PPSV23).

Institution:

SUNY Downstate Medical Center

Researchers:

Gerald Schiffman, PhD, Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Microbiology and Immunology.

Impact:

Although two vaccines against bacterial pneumonia became available in the 1940s, they were withdrawn from the market because most physicians preferred treating the disease with penicillin. Physicians at that time mistakenly believed that the antibiotic would all but eliminate the threat of pneumonia, and the manufacturer withdrew the vaccine.
Schiffman demonstrated severe limitations in treating pneumococcal infections with antibiotic therapy, and, with Robert Austrian, introduced a new vaccine in 1978. Large-scale testing during the following decade confirmed its efficacy.  However, it was not until the 1990s, with the increasing pneumococcal resistance to multiple antibiotics, that pneumococcal vaccination was widely accepted. It has since become the established standard of care for the elderly, for persons with diabetes and kidney-disease, patients with weakened immune systems, and those who have received a transplanted organ or undergone a splenectomy.

Schiffman also developed a test to measure a wide range of immune system functions and disorders.  First employed with geriatric and sickle-cell patients, the test was later used to evaluate immune system response to treatment in patients with HIV/AIDS and other disorders. His was the only laboratory to use this assay, and each year, about 100,000 samples from around the world were sent to him for analysis.

Timeline:

Vaccine introduced in 1978. Widely adopted for use in the 1990s.

 

Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV), or HHV8

Institution:

Columbia University College Of Physicians and Surgeons

Researchers:

Yuan Chang, MD, and Patrick Moore, MD, Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons

Impact:

Chang and Moore discovered the herpesvirus that is associated with Kaposi’s sarcoma and a type of lymphoma in people with AIDS. Before this discovery, scientists had speculated that an infection was the source of some AIDS-associated cancers.

Timeline:

1994

 

Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator Improves Survival in Patients with Heart Failure

Institution:

School of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Rochester Medical Center

Researchers:

Arthur J. Moss, M.D., Bradford C. Berk, M.D., Ph.D. Distinguished Professor of Cardiology, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry

Impact:

Moss led the MADIT (Multicenter Automatic Defibrillator Implantation Trial) series of trials that demonstrated that preventive therapy with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator or ICD – a device that detects potentially fatal arrhythmias and shocks the heart back into a normal rhythm – significantly reduces the risk of death in heart attack survivors. This finding changed medical guidelines nationwide and led to the use of ICDs in millions of patients.

Timeline:

The finding that ICDs reduce death and increase survival was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2002.

 

A new DNA sequencing method, called Maximum Depth Sequencing (MDS)

Institution:

New York University School of Medicine

Researchers:

Evgeny A. Nudler, PhD, NYU School of Medicine

Impact:

The MDS method eliminates the error introduced by core methods behind current high-speed DNA sequencing machine.

MDS is a new high-throughput DNA sequencing method that is ultra-sensitive and can detect rare sequence variants in genomic DNA. This new method enables the detection of extremely rare mutations that occur in bacteria, which is important for understanding basic evolutionary processes and of potential value in various clinical settings, such uncovering bacterial mechaisms that lead to the development of antibiotic resistance.

Pubmed citation:
Rates and mechanisms of bacterial mutagenesis from maximum-depth sequencing.
Jee J, Rasouly A, Shamovsky I, Akivis Y, Steinman SR, Mishra B, Nudler E.
Nature. 2016 Jun 30;534(7609):693-6. PMID: 27338792

Timeline:

2016

 

Key research in the field of neuronal plasticity

Institution:

New York University School of Medicine

Researchers:

Richard Tsien, PhD, NYU

Impact:

Dr. Tsien’s recent fundamental discoveries at NYU Langone have opened up new possibilities for understanding and treating many neuropsychiatric disorders, such as autism spectrum disorder, schizophrenia, ADHA, epilepsy, Timothy syndrome, pain, ataxia and migraine.

Timeline:

2011-current

 

Infants and children are uniquely sensitive to pesticides and other toxic chemicals in the environment

Institution:

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Researchers:

Philip Landrigan, MD, MSc at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Impact:

As a result of this work, public health laws have been developed to protect children from these harmful chemicals, including banning lead from paint and gasoline nationwide, and eliminating BPA from cash-register receipts in certain jurisdictions.

Timeline:

1993

 

Traffic Light Diet to counteract childhood obesity

Institution:

Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, the University at Buffalo

Researchers:

Leonard Epstein, PhD, chief of the division of behavioral medicine in the Department of Pediatrics at University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences

Impact:

We all know what the colors on a traffic light stand for—and that tri-color palette creates an easy-to-follow diet for overweight children. Known as the Traffic Light diet, it divides foods by the colors of a traffic signal: green for low-calorie foods that can be eaten freely; yellow for moderate-calorie foods that can be eaten occasionally; and red for high-calorie foods that should be eaten rarely. Since it was launched, pediatricians have widely used the Traffic Light Diet to encourage healthy eating habits among their patients. The key to the diet is parental involvement.

Timeline:

1970s

 

Huntington’s disease gene

Institution:

Columbia University College Of Physicians and Surgeons

Researchers:

Nancy Wexler, PhD, Higgins Professor of Neuropsychology, Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons

Impact:

This discovery was the result of Wexler’s work with the Venezuela Collaborative Huntington’s Disease Project, which studied families in two Venezuelan villages with an unusually high incidence of the disease. Wexler’s work was inspired by her mother, a geneticist who had been diagnosed with Huntington’s disease (despite the fact that it was believed to only affect men). Analysis of more than 4,000 blood samples led Wexler and colleagues to identify the HTT gene and its location on chromosome 4. It was the first disease-associated gene to be mapped to a chromosome using recombinant DNA techniques. In 1993, Wexler received the Albert Lasker Public Service award for her work.

Timeline:

1983