Johns Hopkins Gazette: September 9, 1996

In Brief:
Medical News

Grants fund blindness prevention program

The Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute has become partners with 150 Baltimore churches to identify and treat eye disease among city residents who otherwise may not get health care.

The Sight 'N Soul program will train up to 200 laypersons to perform basic vision checkups in community centers, churches and apartment houses. More than 700 people have already been screened and 150 referred to Wilmer for further examinations at no cost.

Sight 'N Soul is a part of East Balti-more's Heart, Body and Soul program, an interfaith healthcare screening program jointly operated by local church communities and Medical Institutions.

Wilmer accepts whatever payment the patient's insurance company provides, while offering free service to the uninsured. Eyeglasses are provided at low cost by Baltimore-based Penn Optical.

The program screens for a variety of eye diseases, such as cataract and glaucoma.

"This is an effective way to prevent blindness in many individuals with treatable disease. It's also a national model for this type of community involvement," said Harry Quigley, director of Wilmer's Dana Center for Preventive Ophthalmology.

Initial funding for the program was provided through a five-year $500,000 grant from the Hoffberger Foundation for the Prevention of Blindness, which permitted the program to expand throughout both east and north Baltimore. Following this initial success, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation awarded a grant of $480,000 over 48 months.

Low-protein diet may reverse kidney disease

A very low protein diet with amino acid supplements may cure a severe kidney disease in some people, a School of Medicine study shows. The results suggest that the dietary therapy should be tried before drug treatment for nephrotic syndrome, a chronic kidney disorder that often leads to kidney failure.

Scientists have not solved the paradox of why eating less protein benefits some patients--sufferers already lose too much protein in their urine--yet restricting dietary protein may help many sufferers, said Mackenzie Walser, the study's lead author and a professor of pharmacology, molecular sciences and medicine. The study is published in the September issue of the American Journal of Kidney Diseases.

Nursing to lead program in international health

The School of Nursing has received a three-year $400,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education and members of the European community to develop an academic program to assess the measures of quality, cost of care and cultural aspects of international healthcare systems.

Fannie Gaston-Johannson, associate professor and director of international and intramural programs, is the U.S.-based project leader and principal investigator for Global Dimensions in Health Care, whose aim is to give nursing, medical and public health students a better understanding of the factors that shape healthcare delivery in various countries.

Project participants, from the United States, Sweden and the United Kingdom, will meet at Hopkins to plan the course of study for the students. Each university partner will enroll four students the second year and five students during the third year. "As health care providers and teachers, it is our responsibility to develop creative and innovative educational programs to prepare our students to meet the health-care challenges of the 21st century," Gaston-Johansson said.

Health magazine names JHMI top U.S. hospital

Expert physicians at 350 leading medical centers across the nation have selected The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions as the best medical center in the United States in a survey conducted by American Health magazine. The top ranking by American Health comes on the heels of the Aug. 12 ranking of Hopkins as the country's No. 1 hospital by U.S. News & World Report magazine.

The survey results, presented in the September issue of American Health, are based on surveys of department heads at 350 of the nation's top academic medical centers who were asked to name the leading centers in their own fields.

More than 3,200 responded. Surveyed physicians nominated the best medical centers in nearly 60 specialty fields. Hopkins was named in 41 specialty areas, more than any other individual institution.

Other News

University ranked among best of nation's colleges

Johns Hopkins was ranked 15th best among 229 national universities in U.S. News & World Report's 10th annual "America's Best Colleges" issue. Yale, Princeton and Harvard were named the top three U.S. universities in the magazine's Sept. 16 issue, which arrived on newsstands Sept. 9.

University rankings were determined by tallying the results of 2,730 surveys of college presidents, deans and admissions directors, who were asked to rank by reputation all the schools in the same category as their own institutions. The reputational rankings were then combined with educational data provided by the colleges themselves that dealt with various measures of academic quality, including student selectivity and financial resources.

This year, the survey also included a factor that measures the educational value a school adds between freshman orientation and graduation.

Hopkins' ranking in the U.S. News survey this decade--which, like all universities, has been subject to shifts in the magazine's methodology over the years--has been as high as 10th (1995) and as low as 22nd (1994); it has been ranked 15th four of the past seven years and is one of only 19 national universities to be included among the top 25 schools in every U.S. News ranking.

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