News and Announcements
Read the latest news from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine’s Department of Preventive Medicine. The links below take you to articles where you can learn more about our faculty’s latest achievements, awards and honors.
- 05.25.2022Investigators have discovered the mechanisms underlying a T-cell receptor’s immunosuppressive function, findings that may improve the development of precision therapeutics for chronic disease, including cancer.
- 05.11.2022Northwestern and the American Lung Association have begun a first-of-its-kind longitudinal study to track and analyze the lungs of millennials at the peak of their lung health.
- 01.27.2022Jeremiah Stamler, MD, founding chair and professor emeritus of Preventive Medicine, passed away on January 26. He was 102 years old.
- 01.20.2022Michael Wang, a fourth-year medical student, is the lead author of a study recently selected by the American Heart Association as one of the top heart disease and stroke research advances of 2021.
- 11.29.2021Dapagliflozin, a drug commonly used to treat type 2 diabetes, improved heart failure-related symptoms and physical limitations in patients with heart failure with preserved ejection fraction.
- 10.27.2021Donald Lloyd-Jones, MD, ScM, chair of Preventive Medicine and the Eileen M. Foell Professor of Heart Research, and current president of the American Heart Association, recently testified before Congress in support of legislation that would improve cardiovascular health in the U.S.
- 09.15.2021Epigenetic aging could serve as a promising biomarker for measuring long-term cardiovascular health and disease risk, according to a recent Northwestern Medicine study.
- 07.19.2021Thirty-five years since it was started, the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults study, or CARDIA, has become a premier source for the determinants, mechanism and outcomes of cardiovascular disease and manifestations of aging.
A mismatch between airway size and lung capacity, called dysanapsis, is a strong risk factor for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, according to a study published in JAMA.
Much of what contributes to risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is still unknown, but taking dysanapsis into account could improve diagnosis and treatment, according to Norrina Allen, PhD, ’11 GME, associate professor of Preventive Medicine in the Division of Epidemiology and a co-author of the study.
At Northwestern Medicine, various antibody testing efforts have been underway since the beginning of the pandemic. These efforts include the development of a more sensitive, at-home test to detect SAR-CoV-2 antibodies and using this test and commercially available antibody tests to determine previous infections of COVID-19 and potential immunity to the virus, both in the Northwestern Medicine community and in the greater Chicagoland area.
Other antibody testing efforts currently ongoing at Northwestern Medicine are being led by John Wilkins, MD, ‘11 MSCI, ‘12 GME, associate professor of Medicine in the Division of Cardiology and of Preventive Medicine in the Division of Epidemiology, and Charlesnika Evans, PhD, MPH, associate professor of Preventive Medicine in the Division of Epidemiology. The duo is currently leading a study that will give every Northwestern Medicine employee — roughly 38,000 individuals — the opportunity to have SARS-CoV-2 antibody testing.
“There are so many fundamental questions about SARS CoV2 serology that we don’t yet understand, and this pandemic is really highlighting why epidemiology is so vital to medical research. To understand the prevalence, incidence and prognosis associated with SARS CoV-2 serologic status and their determinants, we need studies like this.” Wilkins said.
Deaths due to heart failure and hypertensive heart disease are increasing in the U.S. — particularly in Black women and men — despite medical and surgical advances in heart disease management, reports a new Northwestern Medicine study published in The British Medical Journal.
“These findings are alarming,” said senior study author Sadiya Khan, ’09 MD, ’14 MS, ’10, ’12 GME, assistant professor of Preventive Medicine in the Division of Epidemiology and a Northwestern Medicine physician. “Despite medical and surgical advances in heart disease management and public policy initiatives around blood pressure awareness, we are losing ground in the battle against heart failure and hypertension; the disparities in heart disease are clear.”
Northwestern co-authors include Donald Lloyd-Jones, MD, ScM, the Eileen M. Foell Professor and chair of Preventive Medicine, and Mercedes Carnethon, PhD, the Mary Harris Thompson Professor and vice chair of Preventive Medicine.
Northwestern epidemiologist Mercedes Carnethon testified virtually before the U.S. Senate July 21 at the hearing on “The COVID-19 Pandemic and Seniors: A Look at Racial Health Disparities.”
The focus of the hearing was on COVID-19’s disproportionate health impacts on Black and Latino seniors, as well as seniors from other racial and ethnic minority communities.
Cancer patients with other co-morbidities have a higher risk of dying from COVID-19, according to a recent study published in the journal The Lancet.
Firas Wehbe, MD, PhD, associate professor of Preventive Medicine in the Division of Health and Biomedical Informatics, associate professor of Pathology and chief research informatics officer, was a co-author of the study published in The Lancet.
As COVID-19 began to sweep the globe, oncologists and scientists connected on social media, concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on patients with cancer. Within one month, they formed the COVID-19 and Cancer Consortium (CCC19), a combined patient data registry with more than 100 participating institutions.
Investigators analyzed 30 days of clinical data from more than 900 patients receiving cancer treatment, finding that 13 percent of patients died. This is more than twice the current observed case fatality rate of 4.8 percent reported by Johns Hopkins University.
“We leveraged the informatics infrastructure at Feinberg and our experience with large data-sharing research networks to participate in this blazing-fast self-organizing multi-institutional effort,” said Wehbe, who is also an associate professor of Pathology. “The ability of multi-disciplinary teams to nimbly assemble is key to tackling this epidemic and future emerging threats.”
A new Northwestern Medicine study with 20 participants validated the technology and was recently published in the Proceedings of the ACM on Interactive, Mobile, Wearable and Ubiquitous Technologies.
The technology currently includes wearing a tiny camera pendant to validate what the necklace is sensing. Eventually the camera will be removed. The next step will be a National Institutes of Health-funded trial to test NeckSense along with several other wearable devices with 60 participants who have obesity and validate the device against standard 24-hour recall.
Lead study author Nabil Alshurafa, Assistant professor of Preventive Medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, said “The arsenal of the dietician has been upgraded. The ability to easily record dietary intake patterns allows dieticians – or even laypeople making use of our tech – to deliver timely digital interventions that occur as eating is happening to prevent overeating.”
NeckSense is part of a broader study called SenseWhy, which will assess if wearing sensors will help us understand people’s problematic eating behaviors in real time.
Since it was founded in 2015, Northwestern University’s Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing (ISGMH) has become a leader in sexual and gender minority (SGM) health research and intervention programs.
Recently, ISGMH faculty member Michelle Birkett, PhD, assistant professor of Medical Social Sciences, Preventive Medicine, and director of the ISGMH’s CONNECT Complex Systems and Health Disparities Research Program, was awarded an RO1 grant from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities. Her project will use simulation modeling to understand HIV disparities among racial and sexual minorities in Chicago, and also aims to understand how systemic racism and homophobia contribute to the disproportionate burden of the disease within these populations.
Another ISGMH led initiative that is helping to understand the impact of COVID-19 on SGM individuals is the Evaluation, Data Integration, and Technical Assistance (EDIT) program, which is dedicated to furthering health equity for marginalized populations, particularly SGM populations and individuals who identify as black, indigenous or people of color.
The program is overseen by ISGMH faculty members Gregory Phillips II, PhD, assistant professor of Medical Social Sciences and of Preventive Medicine in the Division of Epidemiology, and Lauren Beach, PhD, research assistant professor of Medical Social Sciences.