New Orleans, LA – The Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery and the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery from LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans Schools of Medicine and Dentistry will screen patients for oral, head and neck cancer at free screenings at the Interim LSU Public Hospital, 2021 Perdido Street on Monday, April 27 and Thursday, April 30, 2009. The first 100 patients will be screened each day from 8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. in the ENT-Oral Surgery Clinic. No appointments are necessary. The screenings are quick, painless, and designed to advance early diagnosis, which can lead to better outcomes.
            Oral cancer is cancer that arises in the head or neck region, including the lips, cheek, gums, tongue, palate, and may affect the lymph glands in the neck. According to the American Cancer Society, it is the sixth most common form of cancer in the United States, with 35,300 cases diagnosed in 2008 alone.                     
            Some signs and symptoms include:

•                                                         A sore in your mouth that doesn’t heal or that increases in size
•                                                         Persistent pain in your mouth
•                                                         Lumps or white, red or dark patches inside your mouth
•                                                         Thickening of your cheek
•                                                         Difficulty chewing or swallowing or moving your tongue
•                                                         Difficulty moving your jaw, or swelling or pain in your jaw
•                                                         Soreness in your throat or feeling that something is caught in your throat
•                                                         Pain around your teeth, or loosening of your teeth
•                                                         Numbness of your tongue or elsewhere in your mouth
•                                                         Changes in your voice
•                                                         A lump in your neck

Dr. Nicolas Bazan, Director of the Neuroscience Center of Excellence, Boyd Professor, and Ernest C. and Yvette C. Villere Chair of Retinal Degenerative Diseases Research at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans, will present new research findings showing that an omega three fatty acid in the diet protects brain cells by preventing the misfolding of a protein resulting from a gene mutation in neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Huntington’s. He will present these findings for the first time in an invited lecture on Sunday, April 19, 2009 at 10:30 a.m. at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, Nouvelle C Room, at the American Society for Nutrition, Experimental Biology 2009 Annual Meeting.
            With funding from the National Eye Institute of the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Bazan and his colleagues developed a cell model with a mutation of the Ataxin-1 gene. The defective Ataxin-1 gene induces the misfolding of the protein produced by the gene. These misshapened proteins cannot be properly processed by the cell machinery, resulting in tangled clumps of toxic protein that eventually kill the cell. Spinocerebellar Ataxia, a disabling disorder that affects speech, eye movement, and hand coordination at early ages of life, is one disorder resulting from the Ataxin-1 misfolding defect. The research team led by Dr. Bazan found that the omega three fatty acid, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), protects cells from this defect.
            Dr. Bazan’s laboratory discovered earlier that neuroprotectin D1 (NPD1), a naturally-occurring molecule in the human brain that is derived from DHA also promotes brain cell survival. In this system NPD1 is capable of rescue the dying cells with the pathological type of Ataxin-1, keeping their integrity intact.
            “These experiments provide proof of principle that neuroprotectin D1 can be applied therapeutically to combat various neurodegenerative diseases,” says Dr. Bazan. “Furthermore, this study provides the basis of new therapeutic approaches to manipulate retinal pigment epithelial cells to be used as a source of NPD1 to treat patients with disorders characterized by this mutation like Parkinson’s, Retinitis Pigmentosa and some forms of Alzheimer’s Disease.”

LSU Health Sciences Center and the LSU Healthcare Network have teamed up with Aneurysm Outreach, Inc. to offer a free abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) screening to qualified participants. The screening will take place on Saturday, May 16, 2009 from 8:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. at the LSU Healthcare Network Baptist Medical Plaza Office (LSU Healthcare Network Physician Practice at the Ochsner Baptist Medical Center) located at 2820 Napoleon Avenue, Suite 800. Because AAA screening is  recommended only for those older than 60 in the general population or those older than 55 with a family history of AAA and once every 5-6 years, participants must pre-qualify and schedule an appointment. The number to call is (504) 412-1110.
            Participants are asked not to eat or drink anything for eight hours prior to their scheduled appointments.
            An abdominal aortic aneurysm is an abnormal ballooning of the abdominal portion of the aorta, which is the major artery from the heart. Much like a weak spot in a worn tire bulges, AAA causes an increasing bulge in the wall of the aorta which can rupture if not detected and treated, resulting in death. Individuals over 60 years are most likely to develop AAA and males are more prone to develop AAA than females. The exact cause is not known, but risk factors include atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries, smoking, a family history of aneurysms, high blood pressure, and chronic lung disease. About 25% of cases are those with a first degree relative with AAA. AAA is up to five times more common in men than in women and is 3.5 times more common in Caucasian men than in African-American males.
            Most AAAs are asymptomatic; they can grow very large and rupture without warning. It has been estimated that half of all people with untreated abdominal aortic aneurysms die of rupture within five years. AAAs are the 13th leading cause of death in the U.S. and the 3rd leading cause of sudden death in men.
            “Two-thirds of patients who suffer rupture of an AAA did not know ahead of time they had this condition” says Dr Hernan Bazan, an LSUHSC Vascular/Endovascular Surgeon.   “This underscores the importance of early diagnosis thru such screening and the good news is that with early detection, different treatment options can be discussed with the patient and his/her family.”
            AAAs can be diagnosed with ultrasonography. Ultrasound is non-invasive, fast, and has a great accuracy rate in identifying the presence of an aneurysm. Vascular surgeons are the only physicians who can perform all treatment options available to treat AAAs, including deciding when it is best to observe and manage expectantly, minimally invasive endovascular stent graft procedures, and open surgical aneurysm repair.
            The LSU Healthcare Network is the practice group of the medical school faculty of LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans. Aneurysm Outreach, Inc. is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to mobilizing people and resources to eradicate aneurysms. Other sponsors include Medtronic, Boston Scientific, SonoSite, Gore Medical Products, and Bard Peripheral Vascular. 

Liwei Chen, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at the LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans School of Public Health, is the lead author of a research paper showing that weight gain and obesity are more linked to an increase in liquid calories, particularly sugar-sweetened beverages, than calories from solid food. To our knowledge, this is the first study to document the relative effects of calories from liquids compared with those of calories from solid food on weight loss in adults over an extended period. The study is published in the May 1, 2009 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.   
            The study reports four principal findings: First, a reduction in liquid calorie intake was significantly associated with weight loss at both 6 months and 18 months. Second, the weight-loss effect of a reduction in liquid calorie intake was stronger than that of a reduction in solid calorie intake. Third, a reduction in sugar-sweetened beverage intake was significantly associated with weight loss at both 6 and 18 months. Fourth, no other beverage type was associated with weight change.
            It has been projected that 75% of US adults will be overweight or obese by 2015.
            “Today, Americans consume 150-300 more calories a day than they did 30 years ago,” notes Dr. Chen, “and caloric beverages account for approximately 50% of this increase.”
            The researchers followed 810 men and women, 25-79 years old, whose 24 hour dietary intake recall was measured by telephone interviews conducted when they entered the study and at 6 and 18 months. Beverages were divided into 7 categories based upon calorie content and nutritional composition.
1) Sugar-sweetened beverages (regular soft drinks, fruit drinks, fruit punch, or any other high-calorie beverage sweetened with sugar)
             2) diet drinks (diet soda and other diet drinks sweetened with artificial sweeteners)
             3) milk (whole milk, 2% reduced-fat milk, 1% low-fat milk, and skim milk)
             4) 100% juice (100% fruit and vegetable juice)
            5) coffee and tea with sugar (sweetened with sugar)
            6) coffee and tea without sugar (unsweetened or sweetened with artificial sweeteners)
            7) alcoholic beverages (beer, wine, spirits, and other alcoholic drinks).
            Each participant’s daily nutrient, energy, and beverage intakes were calculated by taking the average of 2 recalls per time point. Liquid calorie intake was calculated as the sum of
calories from the 7 beverage categories. Solid calorie intake was calculated by subtracting liquid calories from total calories.
            The researchers offer a couple of possible explanations for their findings. The absence of chewing when consuming liquids may result in decreased pancreatic responses. Beverages also clear the stomach sooner than solid food and may induce weaker satiety signals in the gastrointestinal tract.
            “Our study supports policy recommendations and public health efforts to reduce the intake of liquid calories, particularly from sugar-sweetened beverages,” concludes Dr. Chen.
            Participants include the LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Johns Hopkins Schools of Public Health and Medicine, Duke University Medical Center, and Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research. The study was supported by funding from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and grants from the National Institutes of Health.

UNO Psychology Department Awarded $144,000 Grant

(April 22, 2009, New Orleans, La.) – With a $144,000 grant from the Louisiana Board of Regents, the UNO Psychology Department’s Psychology Clinic will offer state-of-the-art services, including assessment and treatment of disruptive behavior and attention problems, learning problems, and anxiety and mood problems.

The UNO Psychology Department has been awarded the grant to renovate its in-house Psychology Clinic over the next two years under the leadership of Dr. Michelle Martel and Dr. Monica Marsee, assistant professors of psychology. Also participating in the restoration of the clinic will be professors Dr. Paul Frick, department chair, Dr. Kevin Greve, Dr. Mary Williams-Brewer and Dr. Carl Weems.

At the clinic, the UNO Psychology Department’s Psychology Clinic will offer state-of-the-art services, including assessment and treatment of disruptive behavior and attention problems, learning problems, and anxiety and mood problems.

The New Orleans School-Age Assessment Service (NO-SAS) will offer cost-effective, comprehensive assessments to children and adolescents, ages 6 to 18, who are experiencing:

Problems in school, such as aggressive or disruptive behavior, hyperactivity/inattention, academic failure, or conflict with teachers;

Problems with peers, such as fighting, rejection or substance abuse;

Problems at home, such as conflict with parents or siblings; or

Problems with the law, such as stealing, vandalism or truancy.

The Learning, Attention and Neuropsychological Assessment Service will provide assessment of learning, attention and neuropsychological problems across the lifespan, from preschool through college.

The Anxiety/Mood Disorders Service will provide diagnostic assessment and 12-week treatment for anxiety and mood disorders in children.

All services will be offered to the community at a reduced, sliding-scale rate.

The UNO Psychology Department Psychology Clinic’s Mission is to alleviate mental health concerns in New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, provide mental health services to the community at a reduced rate, provide cutting-edge clinic training to graduate students, forge connections with local mental health agencies, and to recruit research participants for studies examining etiology, assessment and treatment of mental health problems. For more information, visit

NEW ORLEANS, LA- Nic Whitacre has an incredible personal story – with diabetic complications, he was near-death when a miraculous kidney and pancreas transplant saved his life. Now, he is devoting the rest of his life to being an activist for organ donation awareness and has established the H-E-R-O (Help Everyone Receive Organs) Movement to spread the word.  In partnership with Donate Life Louisiana, Nic is starting the H-E-R-O Movement at Delgado Community College and hoping to spread the word across the city, state, and eventually the nation. He has also set up a website,, to encourage organ donation registration and provide easy public access to resources.  He is currently studying to become a nurse with the goal of working in the Transplant Unit of the hospital where he received his transplant.   “There are over 100,000 people currently awaiting transplants. One organ donor can save up to 9 people’s lives and change the lives of up to 50 more. This is your opportunity to become a HERO.”, says Nic Witacre.  
Donate Life Louisiana (DLL) is a collaboration between the Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency and the Legacy Donor Foundation. The mission of Donate Life Louisiana is to educate the citizens of Louisiana about organ and tissue donation, encourage them to register as organ and tissue donors, and foster family acceptance of the process. We envision a world with no loss of human life or function due to the lack of donor organs or tissues and a society that accepts and supports donation as natural and beneficial.