October 17, 1996

Media Contacts: Sarah Goodwin, 404/727-3366 - sgoodwi@emory.edu
Kathi Ovnic, 404/727-9371 - covnic@emory.edu

According to the most recent statistics , Emory University School of Medicine ranks among the nation's top 20 medical schools with most federal (National Institutes of Health) funding. Federal and other research funding there totaled $98.9 million in 1995-96.


A large chunk of those research dollars support clinical trials -- studies of new drugs or treatments in humans. Most are sponsored by the National Institutes of Health or other government agencies; some are sponsored by pharmaceutical companies.

Through voluntary participation in Emory's clinical trials, Atlantans are privy to a host of experimental agents that have yet to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Emory physician-scientists currently are conducting studies of new agents designed for sleep disorders, ulcers, AIDS, high blood pressure, Alzheimer's disease, kidney disease, asthma, osteoporosis, depression, compulsive shopping, post-traumatic stress disorder, glaucoma, enlarged prostate, prostate cancer, breast cancer and many other cancers. They also are studying the effectiveness of vaccines for preventing conditions such as prostate cancer, breast cancer, AIDS and other infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and hepatitis.

Researchers are recruiting participants for the largest study of women's health ever undertaken: the Women's Health Initiative. Among other goals, the study is examining the protective role a low fat diet may have in preventing or delaying heart disease and breast cancer in older women, particularly African-Americans.

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Research at Emory also takes place in the operating room. Within the past few years, surgeons there have used dissolving plates to restructure children's skulls, tiny metal coils to bolster brain aneurysms before they rupture, viewing wands to guide pediatric brain surgery, special heart valves to improve cardiac function, intraocular lens to improve the focus of the eye after cataract surgery and cochlear implants to improve hearing in the nearly deaf. Neurosurgeons are working closely with neurologists to calm the tremor of Parkinson's disease and to put a halt to certain epileptic seizures. Doctors are now able to transplant eight nonfunctioning organs. Most recently, surgeons were successful in performing a double-lung transplant in a 17-year-old boy.

More and more, surgeons are replacing scalpels with lasers to treat disorders ranging from eye disease in premature newborns, to gallstones to tonsillectomy. They also are using scalpels to make much smaller, less invasive incisions during procedures like endoscopic plastic surgery.

Medical school faculty actually developed or helped refine some of these techniques and are considered leaders in their fields. Emory plastic and reconstructive surgeons continue to train surgeons from around the world in the use of the tools they helped design for endoscopic cosmetic surgery. Eye surgeons are known for their large follow-up studies of refractive surgery to treat nearsightedness -- and they are usually among thefirst to test new techniques.

Emory doctors are probably best known for developing balloon angioplasty, a less invasive procedure for treating coronary artery disease than bypass surgery. They continue to develop new devices to assist them. Many of these same doctors conducted the major study comparing angioplasty versus coronary artery bypass surgery. Now they are on the cutting of edge of research using radiation to prevent the reclogging of arteries (restenosis) which occurs in about one third of angioplasty patients.

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Emory psychiatric researchers are working with scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology to apply virtual reality technology to treat fear of heights and fear of flying. Low-vision experts at Emory Eye Center are using virtual reality technology to improve vision in the legally blind.

Psychiatric researchers also have been nationally recognized for their work using positron emission tomography to study the activity of patients with attention deficit disorder and panic disorders.

Doctors at the Center for Reproductive Medicine and Fertility at Crawford Long Hospital are treating couples for infertility using procedures that were unheard of just a few years ago. Assisted hatching and intracytoplasmic sperm injection, when a single sperm is injected into a single egg, are among these new reproductive medicine options.

Emory neurologists recently participated in the national study of tissue plasminogen activator (t-PA) to treat acute stroke. Hematologists were actually able use bone marrow transplantation to cure sickle cell anemia in children who were having strokes.

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For join a study or learn more about new procedures, call Emory HealthConnection at 404/778-7777.

For more general information on The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center, call Health Sciences News and Information at 404-727-5686, or send e-mail to hsnews@emory.edu.

Copyright ©Emory University, 1996. All Rights Reserved.
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