Christian Brothers University

Caduceus Newsletter: Spring 2014.05, Week of February 10


Image from the U.S. Department of Energy Genome Program web site:  

Dr. Stan Eisen, Director
Preprofessional Health Programs
Christian Brothers University

650 East Parkway South
Memphis, TN  38104

Home page: 

Caduceus Newsletter Archives:


Wednesday, February 12, is Darwin Day, which celebrates the discoveries and life of Charles Darwin, born in 1809, who first described biological evolution via natural selection with scientific rigor.

For more information, please go to Marginalia. 


Table of Contents:


1.  Events coming up.  
2.  The Student National Dental Association of UTHSC (Memphis) has organized an “Impressions” program for April 5, 2014, designed to expose college students to the profession of dentistry by opening the College and allowing prospective students access to their students and faculty in a relaxed setting.  
3.  Culinary Culprits:  Foods That May Harm the Brain, from the January 30, 2014 issue of Medscape. 
4.  The American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) Walmart Scholars program will provide $1,000 scholarships to student/faculty pairs from AACP member institutions to attend the 2014 annual meeting in Grapevine, TX, July 26 – 30.   
5.  ===AAMC STAT===, News from the Association of American Medical Colleges, February 3, 2014 issue. 
CVS to stop selling cigarettes by Oct. 1.     
7.   Testing Head-Impact Sensors to Understand Concussions, from Medical Design Briefs.  
8.  The Shelby Farms Park Conservancy will be sponsoring its 9th Annual Tree Planting on Saturday, March 29, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. 

9.  Marginalia:  Darwin Day celebrates the discoveries and life of Charles Darwin, born on February 12, 1809, who first described biological evolution via natural selection with scientific rigor. 


1.  Events coming up.  

·         Wednesday, February 12, 2014:  It’s Darwin Day!  Darwin Day celebrates the discoveries and life of Charles Darwin, born on February 12, 1809, who first described biological evolution via natural selection with scientific rigor.  For more details, please go to Marginalia;

·         Thursday, February 13, 2014, starting at 6:30 p.m.:  (Beta)3 Induction Ceremony.  Room TBA.  For more information, contact Dr. Mary Ogilvie, ;

·         Thursday, March 20, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.:  Field Paleontology trip to the Coon Creek Science Center in Henderson County, TN.  It is one of the 10 major fossil deposits in North America, showing late Cretaceous fossils.  Interested students should contact Dr. Stan Eisen, 901-321-3447, or ;

·         Saturday, April 5, 2014:  The Student National Dental Association of UTHSC (Memphis) have organized an “Impressions” program for April 5, 2014, designed to expose college students to the profession of dentistry by opening the College and allowing prospective students access to their students and faculty in a relaxed setting.  For more information, see Article #2.  


2.  The Student National Dental Association of UTHSC (Memphis) has organized an “Impressions” program for April 5, 2014, designed to expose college students to the profession of dentistry by opening the College and allowing prospective students access to their students and faculty in a relaxed setting.  

Members of our Student National Dental Association (SNDA) have organized an “Impressions” program for April 5, 2014. “Impressions” programs are designed to expose college students to the profession of dentistry by opening the College and allowing prospective students access to our students and faculty in a relaxed setting. Our students and faculty are giving up a springtime Saturday hoping to meet your students.


The day will consist of:

·         Presentations by faculty and staff working in Admissions, Financial Aid, and DAT Preparation

·         Mock interviews

·         Campus and clinic tours

·         Personal Statement Writing workshops

·         Question and answer sessions with dental students and residents

·         Impression taking lab (just for fun)


Please forward or post the attachment to your pre-dental clubs / interested students. There is no cost to attend, but we do need everyone to pre-register so we’ll know how many to expect.


Many thanks,

J. S. Covington



J. Stansill Covington III, DDS, MS


Associate Dean for Admissions and Student Affairs
College of Dentistry
University of Tennessee Health Science Center
875 Union Avenue                                                       
Memphis, TN 38103                                                   

Some more details about the Impressions program:


Greetings from the UTHSC Chapter of the Student National Dental Association!

We are pleased to invite you to our Impressions Program. This year we are looking to make the Impressions Program bigger and better than ever! The Impressions Program is one of the hallmarks of the Student National Dental Association here at the UT Dental School. This event is very beneficial to all undergraduate students interested in attending Dental School.

We look forward to seeing you this year as a participant in the program!

This program is a recruitment initiative designed to promote diversity within the profession of dentistry. We are accepting applications from every and anyone!

 Potential applicants have the opportunity to visit the dental school and interact with students, administrators and professors.

Impressions Program April 5, 2014

Sponsored by the National Dental Association (NDA) and the Student National Dental Association (SNDA)

·         Mock Interviews

·         Q & A Session with current UTHSC Dental Students & Residents

·         Alginate Impression Taking

·         Personal Statement Writing Workshop

·         Presentations from UTHSC School of Dentistry Office of Admissions, Financial Aid, Kaplan, and many more!



Apply Now

Please send name and phone number in email to Anita Brown at:

Any Questions Please Call: 901-319-3589




History of the Impressions Program

The Impressions program was first adopted as a national initiative in 1999 under Dr. Kimberly Edwards Beal (1999-2000 National SNDA President) from Medical College of Georgia. This culminated into Medical College of Georgia School of Dentistry hosting the 1st Annual Impressions Program in 2000. In 2002 Dr. James Morrison, Jr. coordinated the 1st National Impressions Program at Baylor College of Dentistry. Finally in 2003 the Impressions Program began to focus on making participants stronger dental school applicants with the addition of DAT Courses and Mock Interviews under Dr. Damon Ross (2005-2006 National SNDA President).

Mission of the Impressions Program

Impressions programs are designed to expose underrepresented pre-dental students to a career in dentistry and the application and financial aid process. This allows underrepresented pre-dental students to learn about the hosting dental school network (dental students and admissions committee members) and to become stronger dental school applicants. At the same time it promotes the Undergraduate Student National Dental Association (USNDA) and its potential resources.



3.  Culinary Culprits:  Foods That May Harm the Brain, from the January 30, 2014 issue of Medscape. 

Culinary Culprits: Foods That May Harm the Brain

Nancy A. Melville

January 30, 2014

For all the attention paid to the negative effects poor dietary choices have on the body, the effects of diet on the brain are largely unexplored. However, emerging research is providing new insights to support the suggestion that food can have a profound influence on mental health and cognition.

From sugar and carbohydrates to fats and even, according to one controversial theory, whole grains, the list of dietary choices having potentially negative effects on the brain is growing by leaps and bounds.

And although the big caveat for the bulk of evidence is that most studies show an association with but not necessarily causation of mental health and cognitive deficits, many clinicians report seeing first-hand improvement in patients' mental health outcomes with the tweaking of a diet to eliminate some of the most notorious culinary culprits.

"While we don't want to send the message to patients that all they have to do is change their diet and their severe depression will be cured, I can say that I have absolutely seen dietary changes work to improve outcomes for a lot of patients, and there are a lot of reports of that," said Drew Ramsey, MD, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City.

Dr. Ramsey, the author of The Happiness Diet: A Nutritional Prescription for a Sharp Brain, Balanced Mood, and Lean, Energized Body (Rodale, 2011) and Fifty Shades of Kale (HarperWave, 2013), asserts that the role of diet, so strongly emphasized in general practice, is simply too commonly overlooked in mental health practice.

"If someone has a severe mental illness, it is very important to talk to them about diet," he told Medscape Medical News. For example, he said, if a patient has certain nutrient deficiencies, it will be difficult for any medications to help until such deficiencies are treated.

"Yet I know clinicians who simply never talk to their patients about food because they're not taught to discuss the topic," he added.

Dr. Drew Ramsey

"But certainly that will change over the next decade with the data that's coming out, including epidemiological data showing a clear signal that the risk of depression increases when you eat a diet of highly processed modern food."

"Junk Food"

In some of the strongest data along these lines, researchers led by Felice Jacka, PhD, of Deakin University, in Melbourne, Australia, have conducted a series of studies showing a poor diet to be associated with cognitive deficits.

In one longitudinal study of 2054 Australian adolescents, a diet consisting of "junk food," ranging from chips, chocolates, and sweets to pizza and soda, was associated with a worsening of mental health status during a 2-year period ( PLoS One, published online September 21, 2011).

Another study of more than 23,020 women and children in the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study showed that high consumption of junk foods during pregnancy and during the first 5 years of life predicted externalizing problems, such as aggression, hyperactivity, or tantrums, among children, independent of other confounding factors and of the childhood diet.

Children with unhealthy diets postnatally also were found to have had greater problems with externalizing as well as internalizing problems, such as worrying, sadness, and anxiety ( J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry, published online August 17, 2013).

And in a third study of 5731 adult and older men and women, the research team found a lower risk for depression among participants with better-quality diets, and increased anxiety was observed with a higher intake of processed and unhealthy foods ( Psychosomatic Medicine, 2011:73;483-490 ).

"A diet high in saturated fats and refined sugars has a very potent negative impact on brain proteins that we know are extremely important in depression ― neurotrophins, which protect the brain against oxidative stress and promote the growth of new brain cells," Dr. Jacka told Medscape Medical News.

"There also seems to be an impact of saturated fat on the stress response system, which is also important in both depression and anxiety."

The next step in the research will be to investigate the impact of dietary improvement among people who are already depressed, Dr. Jacka said.

Dr. Felice Jacka

"Until we have the results, we can't say definitively that dietary improvement will be a useful strategy in treating depression. However, on the basis of the observational studies from around the world, we do believe that dietary improvement should be recommended in psychiatric clinical settings, just as it is in other medical treatment settings."

Dr. Jacka is the president of the International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research (, which has a Web site featuring an extensive list of links to the most recent research on the issue.

In yet another study on the topic, researchers in Spain showed a strong link between "junk food" and cognitive deficits. In the study of nearly 9000 adults, participants whose diets involved the consistent intake of fast food were as much as 40% more likely to develop depression than those who did not consume fast food, with the risk for depression increasing along with the amount of fast food consumed ( Public Health Nutr, 2012;15:424-432).

The increased risk for depression was also seen among those who consumed higher amounts of baked goods, including croissants and doughnuts.

Trans Fat

The research team in Spain also published a large study of 12,059 Spanish university graduates from 1999 to 2011 who were depression-free at enrollment, and results showed a detrimental relationship between transunsaturated fatty acid (trans fat) intake and the risk of depression.

The study also found weak inverse associations between depression and monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, as well as olive oil ( PLoS One, 2011;6:e16268).

"These findings suggest that cardiovascular disease and depression may share some common nutritional determinants related to subtypes of fat intake," wrote the authors, who were with the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and the University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain.

Saturated fat, notorious for its adverse cardiovascular effects, fares no better in mental health studies.

In one recent study of 6183 older participants in the Women's Health Study, higher intakes of saturated fatty acids were shown to be associated with worse global cognitive and verbal memory trajectories, whereas higher intake of monosaturated fatty acids was related to improved trajectories ( Ann Neurol , 2012;72:124-34).

The association has not only been seen in older women ― another recent study of 38 younger women (25 to 45 years old) showed higher intakes of saturated and trans fats as well as fasting insulin to be associated with cognitive and memory deficits after adjusting for age, activity, and verbal IQ ( Front Hum Neurosci, 2013;7:838).

Interestingly, in that study, carbohydrate intake was not found to be significantly associated with cognitive performance.

In terms of dementia and Alzheimer's disease, a high-fat diet was linked to the disruption of the body's process in clearing the brain of amyloid, the toxic protein associated with the development of the disease ( JAMA Neurol, published online June 17, 2013).

The role of sugar in mental health has been well documented, with recent research linking intake with cognitive deficits.

In the study of 737 participants without diabetes in the Boston Puerto Rican Health Study, higher sugar intake was significantly associated with lower cognitive function, as indicated on the Mini–Mental State Examination ( Br J Nutr , 2011;106:1423-32).

Another recent study involving 937 initially cognitively normal adults aged 70 to 89 years linked higher intake of carbohydrates with a risk of developing mild cognitive impairment that was as much as 3.6 times greater than those on low-carbohydrate diets, and the risk was also greater in those with diets high in simple sugars ( J Alzheimers Dis, 2012:32).

"Grain Brain" Controversy

One of the most recently vocal proponents of a low-carbohydrate diet as a means of optimal cognitive and overall mental health is neurologist David Perlmutter, MD, whose book Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth About Wheat, Carbs and Sugar (Little, Brown, 2013) has been on the New York Times' bestseller list for weeks.

In his book, Dr. Perlmutter argues that processed carbohydrates, sugars, and even whole grains increase the risk for dementia by raising the glycemic index. In a recent Expert Interview with Medscape Medical News, Dr. Perlmutter noted that the glycemic index of whole-grain bread is as high as 72 to 74.

"It's higher than that of white bread. It's much higher than that of many candy bars," he said.

To avoid the potential highs and lows of "grain brain," Dr. Perlmutter recommends, among other things, a diet including healthy, unsaturated fats and limited to 60 to 80 grams of carbohydrates a day.

The "grain brain" argument has its critics, however – including Dr. Ramsey.

"The book has gotten a lot of buzz, but the argument seems to me to be an unfortunate oversimplification on things," he told Medscape Medical News.

"It's good that we want people to focus on the health of their brain and how their dietary choices affect the risk of mental illness, but eliminating whole grains just isn't supported in the evidence for most people, and I doubt that it will be."

He called the argument on glycemic index "misleading" in its involvement of glucose.

"The argument is that a piece of wheat bread has a higher glycemic index than sugar, but this is really very slight of hand because half of sugar is fructose, and fructose doesn't register on the glycemic index because it doesn't raise blood sugar insulin ― it raises fructose levels."

Potential Mechanisms

In terms of nonnatural fructose effects, numerous studies have shown links with mental health issues, such as cognitive decline and memory, according to Shaheen E. Lakhan, MD, PhD, MEd, executive director of the Global Neuroscience Initiative Foundation, who recently published an extensive review on the topic in Nutrition Journal ( Nutr J, 2013;12:114).

Dr. Shaheen Lakhan

"There are several lines of studies, including cell based, animal model, and human studies, to suggest that fructose intake from nonnatural sources impair neuronal connections, spatial memory, and other cognitive functioning," Dr. Lakhan told Medscape Medical News.

"A growing pool of data on nonnatural sources of fructose such as sugar-sweetened beverages suggest increased inflammatory load impairing memory consolidation."

Other potential mechanisms may be neural or vascular, Dr. Lakhan explained.

"Mechanisms may also include impaired hippocampal synaptogenesis, or the ability of brain cell connectivity in an area of the brain implicated in memory," he said.

"The other major potential pathway is the vascular hypothesis, in that cerebrovascular risk factors are elevated, directly and indirectly, with fructose consumption."

Dr. Lakhan has been at the forefront of some of the newest research on mechanisms between diet and mental health, specifically suggesting a relationship with the microbiota in the gut.

"The emerging evidence suggests the pathway to be diet-microbiota-inflammation-mental health," he said.

The research suggests gut dysfunction, particularly in the context of obesity-related inflammation ( J Transl Med, 2011;9:202).

"The neural network in the gut, called the enteric nervous system, acts as a regulatory housekeeper of the cellular border of our gut," Dr. Lakhan said.

"Interestingly, food-related 'brain drains' may be more pronounced in those with gut dysfunction ― including obesity."

Lifting Brain Fog

Although all of the evidence, theories, and countertheories on the foods that can drag down mood and cognition may be tough to relay to patients, Dr. Ramsey says he takes the approach of recommending a simple "brain food" swapping system.

"For instance, if a patient really wants a chocolate-covered pretzel, I suggest trying to make it dark chocolate ― and ideally make it a whole wheat pretzel."

"If it's the salty crunch they're looking for, maybe swap out the pretzel for a dark chocolate–covered almond ― and if they do that, all of a sudden they're eating 2 of the most healthy brain foods ― nuts and dark chocolate."

Dark chocolate is in fact the only food shown to acutely improve mood, he noted, citing a recent small but intriguing randomized controlled trial demonstrating positive effects of cocoa polyphenols on mood in healthy participants ( J Psychopharmacol, 2013;5:451-8).

But whether it is recommending a food swap or another strategy, the important ― and often overlooked ― thing is to bring diet into the discussion with psychiatric patients, Dr. Ramsey underscored.

"I really believe people should be able to enjoy food, and the intervention we are missing in mental health is helping patients with what to eat," he said.

"It's a very easy intervention when you think that taking a simple dietary history takes about 3 minutes, and giving them some good foods to eat takes about the same."

"If you can encourage people to change what they eat to include more nutrient-dense foods, that actually is very helpful and gives patients something to do that is under their control until their medication kicks in."

What Not to Eat

The experts agree that although certain foods such as white pasta may epitomize the components shown in research to affect mood and cognition, what matters most is the diet as a whole.

"There is no one food that should be eaten or not eaten to reduce the risk for mental disorders or any other health disorder," said Dr. Jacka. "The way that dietary components interact in our bodies to support or reduce health is highly complex."

"If I had to focus on just 1 or 2 elements, I would say the most detrimental would be refined carbohydrates ― foods with refined grains and added sugars ― and trans fats. Diets high in sugar, and hyperglycemia itself, are linked to increased inflammation and oxidative stress, which in turn is linked to psychiatric disorders," she added.

Dr. Ramsey agreed, adding that the idea of an exclusionary approach to foods likely is not going to go over well with patients.

"I encourage my patients to think of dietary patterns ― it's not that you can't eat a piece of cake, it's just that that cake comes with no nutrients that your brain needs to deal with all of the calories."

That said, Dr. Ramsey offered a sampling of some of the worst offenders in terms of mood- and cognition-sabotaging foods:

White pasta/bagels: "Instead try choosing a whole wheat or quinoa pasta, or choose less pasta and more vegetables."

White chocolate: "It has none of the benefits of dark chocolate, none of the polyphenol flavonoids that make dark chocolate increase blood flow to the brain and decrease inflammation," he said.

Anything with partially hydrogenated vegetable oil: "Even though it's just correlational data, there's nothing good for you about trans fats, and they do appear to increase inflammation," said Dr. Ramsey.

Iceberg lettuce: "It's very low in phytonutrients and vitamin K, which is very important for brain health. A better choice would be something like kale."

Dietary Recommendations

When it comes to benefiting cognitive function, the diet that may be the most beneficial is the Mediterranean diet, which is rich in seafood, omega-3 fatty acids, and plant-based foods.

In one of most recent studies on the topic, the same research team behind the trans fat study, led by Miguel A. Martinez-Gonzalez, MD, PhD, University of Navarra, Spain, found small but statistically significant improvements in cognition scores in patients who consumed the Mediterranean diet after 6.5 years, compared with those who consumed a low-fat diet, ( J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry, published online May 13, 2013).

Dr. Ramsey said that he has indeed observed improvements in psychiatric patients with such dietary changes.

"People will ask if they can simply swap out their Prozac for kale, and that's of course impossible to answer."

"But if you think about a patient eating the modern American diet ― empty carbs, industrial fat like vegetable oil, and very few phytonutrients ― and you help them shift to a whole-food, nutrient-dense diet, consisting of leafy greens, seafood, whole grains, and nuts, there certainly are a portion of patients who will have an improvement in mood. I have definitely seen that."

Meanwhile, as reported by Medscape Medical News, the bulk of evidence concerning cognition and factors associated with the development of Alzheimer's disease is well represented in guidelines issued last year by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM):

The 7 Dietary Principles to Reduce Alzheimer's Risk

1.     Minimize saturated fats and trans fats.

2.     Vegetables, legumes (beans, peas, and lentils), fruits, and whole grains should be the primary staples of the diet.

3.     One ounce of nuts or seeds (one small handful) daily provides a healthful source of vitamin E.

4.     A reliable source of vitamin B12, such as fortified foods or a supplement providing at least 2.4 μg per day for adults, should be part of the daily diet.

5.     Choose multivitamins without iron and copper, and consume iron supplements only when directed by your physician.

6.     Avoid the use of cookware, antacids, baking powder, or other products that contribute dietary aluminum.

7.     Engage in aerobic exercise equivalent to 40 minutes of brisk walking 3 times per week.

Dr. Ramsey, Dr. Jacka, and Dr. Lakhan report no relevant financial relationships.


Medscape Medical News © 2014  WebMD, LLC

Send comments and news tips to

Cite this article: Culinary Culprits: Foods That May Harm the Brain.  Medscape. Jan 30, 2014.



4.  The American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) Walmart Scholars program will provide $1,000 scholarships to student/faculty pairs from AACP member institutions to attend the 2014 annual meeting in Grapevine, TX, July 26 – 30.   

Please be aware of this great opportunity for qualified Pharmacy students.


If you are having trouble viewing this e-mail, please click here.


Shaba Lightfoot

Manager of Student Affairs

American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy

1727 King Street, Floor 2

Alexandria, VA 22314

Phone: 703-739-2330 ext. 1043

Fax: 703-836-8982

 Discover · Learn · Care:  Improve Health



5.  ===AAMC STAT===, News from the Association of American Medical Colleges, February 3, 2014 issue.

News from the Association of American Medical Colleges

February 3, 2014

• AAMC Holistic Review Project Launches 2014 Admissions Workshop
• 2012–2013 AAMC Report on Faculty Salaries Available
• Study Evaluates Quality Improvement Incentive Program
• Webinar Highlights Value of Public Health Experiences
• CMS Data Show ACO Models Lowering Costs, Improving Quality
• On the Move

AAMC Holistic Review Project Launches 2014 Admissions Workshop

The AAMC Holistic Review Project recently announced the 2014 “Holistic Review in Admissions: Challenging Conventional Thinking and Practice” workshop, designed to assist medical schools enhance student body diversity as a way to achieve mission-based excellence. Through interactive discussion and hands-on activities, the workshop provides a forum for strategic thinking about every stage of the admissions process in light of a school’s diversity interests and mission. For additional information or to request an application, email The deadline to submit an application is February 24.

2012–2013 AAMC Report on Faculty Salaries Available

The new edition of the AAMC’s faculty salary report, 2012–2013 Report on Medical School Faculty Salaries, is now available. Updated annually, the 33 tables in the report provide total compensation attributable to teaching, patient care, or research for 101,945 full-time medical school faculty at 140 medical schools. The data are presented by faculty degree, rank, and department/specialty as well as U.S. region. To order a copy of the new report, visit

Study Evaluates Quality Improvement Incentive Program

A new study available online ahead of print in Academic Medicine evaluates a program that offers residents and fellows up to $1,200 a year for meeting specific quality improvement goals. Three main goals were identified—patient satisfaction, quality/safety, and operation/utilization—in addition to 55 program-specific projects, such as decreasing clinic wait times. The authors found the program provided a high return on investment to the medical center in the form of cost savings and revenue generation while allowing residents and fellows to be active participants in transforming the health care system. The February issue of the journal is now online.

Webinar Highlights Value of Public Health Experience

The AAMC-CDC Cooperative Agreement Webinar Series will host a webinar on Feb. 5 from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. for students, residents, and mentors to learn about the value of a hands-on public health experience during their medical career. The session will highlight the Epidemic Intelligence Service—a two-year post-graduate training program of service and on-the-job learning—as one pathway to pursuing a meaningful public health experience in medical education. To register, click here.

CMS Data Show ACO Models Lowering Costs, Improving Quality

The Medicare Shared Savings Program and Pioneer Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) so far have saved more than $380 million in health care costs, according to a recent announcement by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Based on interim financial results of the Pioneer ACO Model, for which 12 of the 23 participants are AAMC-member teaching hospitals, the group produced a savings of $147 million in the first year. Nine had significantly lower spending growth relative to fee-for-service while exceeding quality reporting requirements. To learn more, read the CMS fact sheet outlining the complete list of initiatives to reduce costs and improve care, including the Bundled Payments for Care Improvement program.

On the Move

Michael V. Drake, M.D., has been appointed as the 15th president of The Ohio State University. Since 2005, Drake has served as chancellor of the University of California, Irvine, and as a Distinguished Professor of Ophthalmology in the School of Medicine. He will step down as chancellor after graduation ceremonies are held in June.

Jeffrey P. Gold, M.D., has been named chancellor of the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Gold previously served as chancellor and executive vice president of biosciences and health affairs and executive dean of the College of Medicine at the University of Toledo. He succeeds Harold M. Maurer, M.D., who has served as chancellor for the past 15 years. 


6.  CVS to stop selling cigarettes by Oct. 1.

CVS to stop selling cigarettes by Oct. 1

By Sarah Kliff, Updated: February 5 at 9:43 am

Pharmacy chain CVS said Wednesday it will stop selling tobacco products at its 7,600 locations across the United States, a move that public-health advocates hope will become a watershed and pressure other large drug store franchises to follow suit.

CVS executives said the decision could cost billions of dollars in revenue because cigarettes draw so many customers to their stores. But by jettisoning tobacco products, CVS can further define its pharmacies as full-fledged health-care providers and strike more profitable deals with hospitals and health insurers.  CVS stores already are home to more than 750 MinuteClinics, the country's largest chain of pharmacy-based health clinics, offering flu shots and diagnosis of common ailments like ear infections and strep throat.

"An important and growing part of our business is the work we do with clients and health insurance plans," CVS Pharmacy President Helena Foulkes said in an interview Tuesday. "As we thought about supporting their goals about improving outcomes and lowering costs, we believe that's the future we're looking towards. As we become more connected to their health-care work, this is an important decision for us to make."

The company plans to phase out all tobacco sales by Oct. 1 and  expects it could lose about $2 billion in annual revenue generated by tobacco sales and other products purchased by the same shoppers. The pharmacy chain generates about $125 billion in revenue annually.

"CVS taking this step is a giant leap forward. From a purely commercial standpoint, it doesn't make any sense," said Robin Koval, president of the Legacy Foundation, a nonprofit that focuses on ending smoking. "It's a conversation that's been going on for quite some time between public health groups and retailers, but progress has been very slow."

President Obama -- himself a former smoker -- praised the CVS decision in a statement Wednesday morning, saying that the move by the pharmacy chain "sets a powerful example" that will "help advance my Administration’s efforts to reduce tobacco-related deaths, cancer, and heart disease, as well as bring down health care costs -- ultimately saving lives and protecting untold numbers of families from pain and heartbreak for years to come."

CVS expects that halting tobacco sales will reduce earnings per share by 6 to 9 cents. But the company said in a statement that it has "identified incremental opportunities that are expected to offset the profitability impact." Foulkes declined to prove additional details on those opportunities.

"I would say that we have made a decision that this is the right thing to do for our business," Foulkes says. "We have plans in place to be able to deliver the numbers that we promised [to investors] this year."

Walgreens spokesman Jim Cohn said that retail chain also has been "evaluating this product category for some time to balance the choices our customers expect from us with their ongoing health needs."

He said Walgreens "will continue to evaluate the choice of products our customers want, while also helping to educate them and providing smoking cessation products and alternatives that help to reduce the demand for tobacco products.”

CVS has increasingly moved beyond its traditional role as a pharmacy in recent years, expanding its reach as a health-care provider. Its MinuteClinics services have allowed the company to increasingly enter into contracts with hospitals and health plans, often providing primary care services on the weekends and evenings, when doctors' offices tend to be closed.

CVS chief medical officer Troyen A. Brennan estimates that the company has between 30 and 40 partnerships with health-care systems across the country and is in talks with a similar number about starting additional arrangements.

He said the decision to halt tobacco sales will make it easier to strike such deals, particularly those that include financial rewards for CVS if they can help patients stop smoking and reduce their medical bills.

"Increasingly, our contracts have a particular parameter regarding performance," Brennan said. "Our clients are looking for us to be able to improve drug adherence and getting results. We're closely following that."

In tandem with the end of tobacco sales, CVS will roll out an anti-smoking campaign with both in-store and online components. The company did not elaborate but said the program will launch in the spring.

A recent report from the U.S. Surgeon General estimates that the country spends $132 billion annually treating smoking-related disease. Despite steep declines in the smoking rate over the past five decades -- and in the 50 years since the Surgeon General's Office issued its first report warning of tobacco's health risks -- tobacco use still remains the leading preventable cause of premature death in the United States. Eighteen percent of American adults are cigarette smokers, down from 42 percent in 1964.

"We were able to halve smoking rates over the past 50 years, but we still have 43 million Americans smoking daily," American Cancer Society chief executive John Seffrin said. "We've got to help them get off of cigarettes if we're not going to accept the carnage of this illness. The CVS decision is one important piece in solving the 21st century problem of tobacco use."



7.   Testing Head-Impact Sensors to Understand Concussions, from Medical Design Briefs.  


Testing Head-Impact Sensors to Understand Concussions

Wednesday, 05 February 2014

Hot on the heels of the Super Bowl, comes new research from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, on concussions and head hits in football players and how the head reacts to impacts. Using crash test dummies wearing helmets and a laboratory drop tower, the researchers approximated the force of two linemen colliding at the start of a play.

How hard was the hit? Where was it centered? And what reactions did it cause in the defensive dummy head? Sensors sent the answers to a laptop across the room.

Although it will take weeks for the researchers to analyze the data from several days of drops, they say this information is especially needed as the sports and science communities become more aware of the long-term effects that decades' worth of concussions and head hits can have on players.

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a progressive and degenerative disease that involves early-onset dementia, depression and trouble controlling impulses, has been found in the autopsied brains of more than 50 former NFL players.

This experiment won't immediately address the question of why some exhibit symptoms down the road and others don't, but the researchers are comparing two high-profile head-impact monitoring systems—Riddell's Head Impact Telemetry System (HITS) and the newer X2 Biosystems' X-Patch.

HITS studs a football helmet with a handful of accelerometers that measure motion in a straight line. It can say where a blow falls and measure how fast the head accelerates as a collision pushes and twists it. It gets at the twist indirectly with an algorithm that uses the accelerometer data.

X-Patch is a fingertip-sized device worn behind the ear. It also uses accelerometers to measure linear motion, but tracks rotation speed more directly with a gyroscope similar to the ones that help iPhones calculate their orientations. In recent years, researchers have come to suspect that head rotation may play an important role in concussions and so this direct measurement could prove valuable.



8.  The Shelby Farms Park Conservancy will be sponsoring its 9th Annual Tree Planting on Saturday, March 29, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. 

Quick Links




February 14th-17th

Great Backyard Bird Count


February 20th

Tom Fox Photography Program


February 28th

Water Workshop at Pinecrest


March 1st

First Saturday Paddle


March 17th-24th

National Wildlife Week

March 22nd

Frogwatch USA Workshop


March 22nd

World Water Day


March 29th

9th Annual Tree Plant


April 5th

First Saturday Paddle

         The  Wolf River Conservancy is leading its 9th Annual Tree Planting this year with an important community partner, Shelby Farms Park Conservancy. It is going to be one of the largest Arbor Day celebrations that West Tennessee has ever seen, with approximately 7,000 seedlings, either planted or potted for the future, by over 200 volunteers. This event is sure to have a positive impact on the Wolf River Watershed and Shelby County, while assisting Shelby Farms Park in achieving its ultimate goal by completing its One Million Trees initiative within the Park and the surrounding neighborhoods.


The Wolf River Conservancy invites you to come out and volunteer, get your hands dirty, and be part of something great.  



Volunteer to be a part of the

 9th Annual Tree Planting today!



In Partner with:

 Shelby Farms Park Conservancy 

Tennessee Urban Forestry Council (West TN Chapter)


Sponsored By:

Darden Foundations


Additional Support By:

Memphis Garden Club

The Little Garden Club


9.  Marginalia:  Darwin Day celebrates the discoveries and life of Charles Darwin, born on February 12, 1809, who first described biological evolution via natural selection with scientific rigor. 



A Global Celebration Day is an international celebration of science and humanity held on or around February 12, the day that Charles Darwin was born on in 1809. Specifically, it celebrates the discoveries and life of Charles Darwin — the man who first described biological evolution via natural selection with scientific rigor. More generally, Darwin Day expresses gratitude for the enormous benefits that scientific knowledge, acquired through human curiosity and ingenuity, has contributed to the advancement of humanity.

The International Darwin Day Foundation website provides resources and publicity for individuals and institutions across the world to celebrate science and humanity every year, on, or near, February 12, Darwin’s birthday. In addition to information about the life and legacy of Charles Darwin, this website provides practical examples, advice and templates for organizing and publicizing Darwin Day events. It also provides a directory of events where you can find celebrations taking place near you or register your own event for others to find.

Recognizing science as an international language accessible to all individuals and societies, the International Darwin Day Foundation provides a new global holiday that transcends separate nationalities and cultures. Darwin Day can be celebrated in many different ways: civic ceremonies with official proclamations, educational symposia, birthday parties, art shows, book discussions, lobby days, games, protests, and dinner parties. Organizers may include: academic societies, science organizations, freethought groups, religious congregations, libraries, museums, galleries, teachers and students, families and friends. In Darwin Day, we are able to recognize the diversity among us, while celebrating our common humanity and the universal understanding we share.

February 12th, 1809

On this date, two great men were born —

Abraham Lincoln, Emancipator of American Slaves


Charles Darwin, Emancipator of the Human Mind

Their Positive Legacies Still Endure


Dr. Stan Eisen, Director
Preprofessional Health Programs
Biology Department
Christian Brothers University

650 East Parkway South
Memphis, TN 38104

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