Newsbriefs Medical News --------------------------- Johns Hopkins Hospital ranked No. 1 in the U.S. --------------------------- For the fifth consecutive year, Johns Hopkins Hospital tops the "honor roll" of hospitals in U.S. News & World Report's guide to "America's Best Hospitals." The Mayo Clinic, Massachusetts General Hospital, the UCLA Medical Center and Duke University Medical Center were ranked second through fifth, respectively. The results of the magazine's annual ranking were published in the July 24 issue. The honor roll is based on total points, with each hospital ranking within the top 10 of one of 16 medical specialties earning from one to 10 points. To make the honor roll, a hospital had to score a 10 in at least three of the 16 areas. Rankings were determined by a national research firm, which used a confidential questionnaire sent to a geographic cross section of 150 board-certified physicians in each of the specialties. Physicians were asked to name the five hospitals-- among the 1,631 tertiary care centers nationally--they consider the best in each of the 16 categories of patient care. Hopkins ranked first in ophthalmology, urology, otolaryngology and gynecology. "This ranking is a wonderful affirmation by our peers around the nation of the work that you do on behalf of the people who matter most--our patients," said hospital president and CEO James A. Block in a letter to employees. -------------------------- Seeking out cancer genes in 'haystack' of DNA -------------------------- Scott E. Kern, an assistant professor of oncology and pathology at the School of Medicine, has been leading a team of researchers on a search similar to looking for a needle in a haystack. But the needle they seek is a mutation of a gene linked to certain types of cancer, and the haystack is the complex linkages of DNA. "Currently this approach [which narrows investigators' search for a specific gene to a small area of DNA] is used at only a few medical centers," Kern said, "but it is so promising for searching genetic regions that it may be the technology of the future." The findings were recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In the Hopkins study, the technique--representational difference analysis--was used for the first time to search for the loss of part of a gene linked to pancreatic and possibly breast cancer. Investigators hope to use RDA to develop a test to screen members of families with a history of cancer, so they can be monitored throughout their lives, said co-researcher Charles J. Yeo, an associate professor of surgery. ------------------------ Women, nonsmokers make healthiest homes ------------------------ A recent study by researchers at the School of Public Health found that women in households where no one smokes tend to live a healthier life and possibly experience lower rates of chronic disease. The study results, published in the July 15 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology, looked at the dietary habits of nonsmoking women living with smokers and nonsmokers. In nonsmoking homes, the study found that the women were more likely to abstain from alcohol, take vitamin supplements and consume higher levels of vitamin A, C and calcium in their daily diet. In homes in which the spouse smoked, women were found to be less educated, tended to live in urban areas and had health habits, such as poor nutrition, that could increase their risk of lung cancer. "This study indicates that we need to look at passive smoking and diet together, rather than trying to judge the influence of one factor alone," said principal investigator Genevieve Matanoski, a professor of epidemiology. Other News ------------------------- Deckers give $1 million to Continuing Studies ------------------------- Alonzo G. Decker Jr., former chairman and chief executive officer of Black & Decker Corp., and his wife, Virginia, have pledged $1 million to the Johns Hopkins Initiative. Their gift to the $900 million fund-raising effort of the university and the Johns Hopkins Health System establishes the Alonzo and Virginia Decker Venture Capital Fund in the School of Continuing Studies. The fund will provide seed money to launch new programs in the school, primarily for adult, part-time students. Once a program becomes self-supporting, it will repay the seed money to the fund, providing support for other new initiatives. The school's three divisions--Education, Liberal Arts, and Business and Management--already are planning projects that will receive Decker Fund support. Among the first are expected to be a project to promote career-long teacher development and education; a program to prepare health professionals in the economic, social, psychological and legal issues associated with aging; and a community leadership program to assist ministers in urban African American communities to better serve their congregations. "It's especially fitting to name the Venture Capital Fund in the Deckers' honor, as they have long been strong and enthusiastic supporters of our school's mission," said Stanley C. Gabor, dean of the School of Continuing Studies. "The Decker Fund is critically important to our ability to identify and respond to the educational needs of adults in the Baltimore-Washington region. We couldn't be more proud than to have the name of Decker permanently associated with our school." Alonzo Decker, a trustee emeritus of Johns Hopkins University, has served on the university's board since 1968. During the mid-1970s, he chaired the Hopkins Hundreds campaign, and, in the late 1980s, he was honorary chairman of the Campaign for Johns Hopkins. Both were very successful. Decker was awarded the university Milton S. Eisenhower Medal for Distinguished Service in 1983. With the Decker gift, commitments to the Johns Hopkins Initiative have reached $379 million, 42 percent of the institutions' overall goal for a campaign scheduled to continue until 2000. Commitments for endowment and capital needs--the primary focus of the campaign--stand at $259 million, 49 percent of the target of $525 million. --------------------------- Physicians learning the business of medicine --------------------------- Last month, 25 Hopkins physicians became the first class to graduate from the Executive Medical-Business Graduate Certificate program in ceremonies at the Turner Building. The program is offered jointly by the Office of Continuing Medical Education in the School of Medicine and the Division of Business and Management in the School of Continuing Studies. "Today, the role of the physician extends beyond the scope of only practicing medicine and may include everything from managing patient care to overseeing multimillion dollar department budgets, grants and large staffs," said Pat Wafer, senior program director in the School of Continuing Studies. "The Business of Medicine certificate provided the first class of graduates with a comprehensive foundation for applying basic business principles to the full range of issues in health care delivery." This fall, the program will expand to include physicians throughout the Washington/Baltimore region.
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