Current Issue
Spring 2014
BMM Current Issue
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Letter from the Dean

Ahead of the Curve

There is excitement in BioMed.  Presuming approval by the Brown Corporation, the new Alpert Medical School building at 222 Richmond Street is on target for ground breaking in April 2010.  We are about to select a construction manager and will immediately begin detailed plans for the restoration. We plan to finish in August 2011 in time for the entering class of 2015. 

This issue of Brown Medicine highlights one of the important programs at the Providence VA Medical Center and my wife, Rena’s, work in obesity.  The VA medical system, which one can call “socialized,” is being held up as an example of low-cost, high-quality care.  Dr. Tom O’Toole, associate professor of medicine, is spearheading new programs for our veterans, including the one described in these pages. Incidentally, Tom was one of my residents at the University of Pittsburgh, where he singlehandedly developed a series of free clinics for the homeless.  Rena’s work speaks for itself.  Many say there is no greater health problem in the U.S. than obesity, and her work has been at the forefront of behavioral treatment of this problem for many years.

Letter from the Editor

Worlds Collide

As I write this, my eyes are still sticky from a 2 a.m. return from Comayagua, Honduras, where I had gone to continue construction work on a daycare center. Located in an impoverished neighborhood of unpaved streets and dirt-floor shanties, the center’s mission is to serve the poorest of the poor. While the organization running the daycare service awaits its license, its members serve nutritious meals to local children three times a week. I’m no doctor, but I’d wager that the majority of the kids suffer from some degree of malnutrition. When you guess their age it’s best to tack on three or four years.

Now, back at my desk, I have just proofread this issue’s feature on the amazing work being done at Brown to understand and address childhood obesity in the United States. It’s a strange sensation indeed to read about kids who need to eat less, having days ago been with kids who just need to eat.

Our feature on the VA clinic for homeless veterans is as moving as it is informative, I think. I for one had never thought about the need for organization and punctuality in a homeless person’s day, or the fact that suddenly no longer being homeless can be seriously disorienting. The approach of Dr. O’Toole and his colleagues – treating not just patients’ homelessness but integrating all their challenges into their care – is so logical as to seem self-evident, but really bear witness to their innovation and dedication.

Letters to the Editor

NICU of the Future

Kris Cambra’s cover story, "Room to Grow" (Brown Medicine, Fall 2009) reminds all of us who are NICU-affected of the absolute value and importance of those caring for our very young preemies, and that the outcomes our premature children face can and should be measured, and improved. I myself gave birth to extremely premature twins, weighing a pound at birth, in the year 2000.  Our daughter suffered a serious setback shortly after birth, and died when we removed her from life support four days later. Our son survived for eight years to be multiply-disabled, before succumbing to complications that dated back to that same premature delivery.

The life of an extremely premature infant can be a complicated one. As the story so gracefully articulates, not all of these babies go on to be "miracles," or "success stories."  For a parent, the road can be equally difficult as one learns to navigate the world of illness and challenging conditions, like chronic lung disease and cerebral palsy. While bioethicists continue to debate the pros and cons of resuscitating these very premature infants, it's profoundly reassuring to know that the doctors at Women & Infants have recognized the array of lifelong complications an ex-preemie can face, and have dedicated themselves, through their research, studies, and implementations, to limiting those adverse outcomes.

The Providence model surely ought to be that of the future, and I have no doubt ex-preemies and their parents will benefit remarkably from it.

Vicki Forman
Author, This Lovely Life:  A Memoir of Premature Motherhood (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Mariner Books, 2009)

Thanks for the Memories

I enjoyed reading the "From The Collections" piece by Steven Moss and Tovah Reis (Fall 2009), describing the Rhode Island Medical Society (RIMS) collection at the John Hay Library. I remember the RIMS collection fondly: after Brown acquired it in 1987, I helped create an annotated catalogue of the material under the tutelage of History of Medicine professor Naomi Rogers--and with the help of a UTRA summer research grant. Spending two months nestled amid the dusty stacks of the Hay, picking up each new tome to see what lay inside, and creating notes for scholars to use to understand the collection--well, it was inspiring and thrilling to be part of it all. As a PLME student concentrating in history of medicine, the RIMS resources were invaluable. I'm thrilled that the collection still exists, and that Brown students have the same opportunity I had to rub John Hay's nose on the way in to encounter the classics of medicine.

Jason Rosenstock '89 MD'92
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and
Director, Medical Student Education
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

Mistaken Identity

I enjoyed the fall 2009 edition of Brown Medicine, and the “Bird's Eye View” (Big Shot) is a great picture and a nice story. Unfortunately, the bird is not a falcon but rather is Buteo jamaicensis, a red-tailed hawk. It certainly did have a watchful eye on graduation, however.

Steve Davis MD’80
Clinical Associate Professor of Family Medicine

Yay, Us!
Brown Medicine
has received two Council for Advancement and Support of Education District 1 Communication Awards: bronze in the Best Overall Magazine category and honorable mention for Best Writing.


Something to Say?
Please send letters, which may be edited for length and clarity, to:
Brown Medicine
Alpert Medical School
Box G-S121-9
Providence, RI 02912



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