WWW.ALPHABIOCOM.COM JANUARY 2018
Winter has come. Whether you stayed in to catch a little more sleep as the days grew shorter, stayed warm with hot chocolate and a blazing fire, ate too much on Thanksgiving Day, traveled to warmer climates to escape the cold, or stayed home to spend the holidays with your loved ones, there is nothing quite like this time of year. From all of us at AlphaBioCom, we hope you had a wonderful holiday season and will continue to spend time this winter in the company of family and friends.
At AlphaBioCom, we are using the winter to continue to build upon our professional and personal goals. In November, AlphaBioCom team members gave back to our community through a tree planting community service event at Valley Forge National Historical Park. The RUN ABC team also joined our president, Stephen Douthwaite, in a test of physical endurance and mental toughness at the Philadelphia Half-Marathon. If you’re feeling postholiday weariness, check out this issue’s featured sleep article inspired by the Festival of Sleep Day on January 3. Learn how your quality of sleep affects your everyday life—from learning and memory to physical health—and use our tips for getting a better night’s sleep. Looking to make a New Year’s resolution? Follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn! We continue to post the latest scientific stories on trends in medical science. Visit us at our website at www.alphabiocom.com as we continue to update the site and celebrate AlphaBioCom’s upcoming 13th anniversary!
–Kate Sydnes, Scientific Editor
STARTING THE YEAR WITH SOME
As we start to make our way through the days of January, we’re all aware that the first month of the year contains New Year’s Day and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birthday. It’s also been designated National Blood Donor Month and National Braille Literacy Month. But there’s so much more to celebrate in January. With thanks to the Holiday Insights website, we present to you a small sample of the dozens of the “Bizarre and Unique” holidays celebrated in January. Please note that while some of these are designated as “National” holidays, there is no record of any type of presidential or national proclamation regarding these celebrations. For food lovers out there, January features National Spaghetti Day (Jan. 4), Bean Day (Jan. 6), Bittersweet Chocolate Day (Jan. 10), National Popcorn Day (Jan. 19), Chocolate Cake Day (Jan. 27), and for those of you looking to get rid of the least popular treat of the now-passed holiday season, Jan. 3 was Fruitcake Toss Day. Impress your coworkers by dropping the knowledge that Jan. 4 is Trivia Day, soak up the suds on Bubble Bath Day (Jan. 8), don your favorite headgear on National Hat Day (Jan. 15). And we’ll bet you won’t believe that Jan. 13 is International Skeptics Day.
For all you word lovers out there, have some fun, enjoyment, merriment, cheer, and delight on Thesaurus Day (Jan. 18). Have dinner for breakfast on Jan. 31, otherwise known as Backward Day. Enjoy everyone’s favorite time-waster on Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day on Jan. 29. And Jan. 28 is Fun at Work Day, but that’s every day here at AlphaBioCom (sarcastic wink!). We hope it’s the same where you are. Check out www.holidayinsights.com for more bizarre holidays and celebrations, and make 2018 a fun-filled year. –Craig Ostroff, Managing Editor
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GET SOME SLEEP FOR YOUR HEALTH
Feeling weary after the holidays? Many of us do. That’s probably why Jan. 3 is designated as the Festival of Sleep. This unofficial holiday supports proper sleep, but it is always smart to maintain healthy sleep patterns. Sleep is an integral part of life; however, frequent sleep problems are reported by 65% of Americans. Sleep functions in a complex manner over a cycle of 5 stages to regulate the appropriate patterns needed for physical and mental health. The physiological relevance of the 5 stages of sleep has been extensively studied, and research shows that the effects of sleep on the brain are what ultimately propel the positive benefits of sleep on cognitive processes, physical health, and overall performance. The brain generates 5 distinct stages of sleep, including the slow-wave sleep (SWS) cycles (stages 1–4), and rapid-eye-movement (REM) cycle (stage 5). During SWS, brain activity transitions through a series of patterns of brain waves, with stage 3 demonstrating mostly slow delta waves interspersed with faster waves, and stage 4 demonstrating delta waves—the hallmark activity of deep sleep—almost exclusively. During this time, memory consolidation, synaptic pruning, and neurogenesis are occurring through neuronal pathways in the hippocampus, hypothalamus, and parafacial zone in the brainstem. During REM, brain waves mimic those of waking states—the eyes are closed but moving rapidly from side to side, and muscle activity is inhibited to prevent the acting out of an intense dream. The characteristic cortical activation and muscular paralysis that occur during REM sleep are controlled through brainstem circuits in the subcoeruleus nucleus involving glutamatergic control of two inhibitory neurotransmitters—gamma aminobutyric acid and glycine. Sleep factors into the 24-hour light/dark cycle that is governed by the biological clock of the body, or circadian rhythms. The regulation of circadian rhythms occurs through the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) in the hypothalamus. It restores homeostatic mechanisms controlling the synchrony of an individual with both internal and external environments. Activity in the SCN contributes to the production of melatonin in the pineal gland. Melatonin then regulates SCN activity as well as neuroendocrine and body temperature mechanisms. A disturbance of circadian rhythms, as commonly seen with shift workers, is associated with sleep disorders and impaired health. Sleep disturbances that lead to sleep disorders can be treated with behavioral therapy, bright light therapy, and pharmacotherapy with sleeping aids or melatonin supplements. More recent research highlights the use of sunset tones of light to support successful sleep patterns. Sleep improves learning mechanisms and performance on intellectual tests and provides benefits on cognitive processes including memory consolidation and insight formation. Likewise, sleep improves overall mood and encourages positive emotional responses such as empathy, and decreases the progression of conditions like depression or ADHD. Sleep also improves physical health and performance, as demonstrated by studies that investigate the effects of sleep on endurance and physical achievement of athletes. Though exercise can act to blunt or reverse the negative effects of sleep deprivation, it is achieved at a slower rate when sleep deprived.
A significant lack of sleep has detrimental effects on mental and physical health, largely due to disruption of circadian rhythms. Sleep deprivation leads to detrimental effects on cognition, interfering with attentional processes and states of arousal and coordination. Indeed, lack of sleep impairs performance to a level comparable to that of alcohol intoxication. In addition, short sleep duration can lead to cardiovascular disturbances such as stroke, coronary artery disease, and cerebrovascular disease. Additional health complications can result from a lack of sleep, including a higher risk for a range of cancers (colorectal, breast, and prostate), obesity, diabetes, and gastrointestinal disease. Further, lack of sleep is associated with a decreased immune response, increased inflammation, and increased incidence of infection with the common cold. The 2011 National Institutes of Health Sleep Disorders Research Plan aimed to identify new opportunities for the study of the function and health benefits of sleep, as well as lifestyle choices to overcome the looming threat that a lack of sleep brings. –Caryne Craige, Scientific Communications Manager
TIPS FOR BETTER SLEEP • Schedule – go to bed and wake up at the same time every day • Hour before bed = quiet time without electronics • Avoid heavy or large meals within a couple hours of bedtime • Avoid nicotine or caffeine before bedtime • Physicial activity – spend time outside every day • Keep bedroom quiet, cool, and dark • Relaxing rituals before bed • Talk to your doctor about melatonin use
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RUN | ABC
The AlphaBioCom running team (back row, from left): Craig Ostroff, Jeremy Gerrard, Chris Woytko, Haley Petrarca, Stephen Douthwaite; (front row) Annie Rusnak, Claire Daniele, Kate Sydnes, Katie Ashman.
Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017, members of the AlphaBioCom team did something many of us never thought would happen … we completed the Philadelphia Half-Marathon. That’s right, we froze in the morning and sweat all afternoon. We pushed through the pain when our legs went numb. We came together as a team and motivated each other when we wanted to give up. And in the end, we held our heads high with pride as we crossed the finish line and rang our Liberty Bell medals. We did it!
Back in February, some of us at AlphaBioCom decided to live a healthier lifestyle. It began with salads for lunch, saying “no” to the birthday cake provided to celebrate at each month’s all-staff meeting, and taking the proper steps to try to get back in shape. Before we knew it, we agreed to sign up for a half-marathon. This half-marathon turned into a major undertaking for many of the employees of AlphaBioCom. Some of us have competed in marathons and half-marathons before, but for most of us, including myself, this was our first attempt at anything like this. The Philadelphia Half-Marathon is an annual race located in the heart of the city. The race course took us all around the city, from City Hall to the Philadelphia Zoo, from the University of Pennsylvania to Boathouse Row, starting and ending outside of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The goal of this event was to raise money and awareness for cancer research. The Philadelphia Half-Marathon partnered with the American Association for Cancer Research to create the half and full marathons. According to the American Association for Cancer Research’s website, their mission is to understand, prevent, diagnose, treat, and cure cancer by promoting research, education, communication, and collaboration. By doing so, Philadelphia had more than 25,000 people running to help find a cure, including the eight participants from AlphaBioCom in our RUN ABC shirts.
For managing editor Craig Ostroff, preparing for the half marathon required some major life changes. Read about his journey here.
In the months leading up to the race, we began researching what to expect from running a half-marathon, what to eat before and after running, and what to expect to feel like after the race. Reading horror stories of people who pushed themselves too far during the race that they got ill or injured themselves left us feeling very afraid. So we decided on one thing: We would start and end this race together. Teamwork is one element I love most about working at AlphaBioCom. It excelled all throughout the half-marathon. This race was a true challenge for me, both mentally and physically. I had the mindset of approaching this halfmarathon by running a couple miles at a time, something I was told will definitely help me complete the race.
AlphaBioCom team members gather for a picture after completeing 13.1 miles.
Lo and behold, I encountered more problems than even I could see coming. Around mile 1, I began to suffer from shin splints, to the point where it was painful even to walk. My teammates held true to the teamwork aspect of AlphaBioCom as they slowed down and walked with me for a while. The next mile was extremely painful, but I was not alone. My teammates kept me going with encouraging words and stories. They helped me overcome one of the most challenging times during the race. With their support, I was eventually back to a running pace, though I still had to stop and walk much of the time.
I remember thinking to myself, “I refuse to let this discourage me from doing another half-marathon.” Every mile marker I passed was just one more mile I never thought I would complete. As I crossed the finish line, a sense of pride and relief overcame me. I finished the race. I did it! Being able to check this off my bucket list, along with my coworkers’ bucket lists, is a huge accomplishment to all of us.
Each participant from AlphaBioCom was able to start and finish all 13.1 miles of the race. We committed ourselves to a healthier lifestyle, and by completing this race, we have proven to ourselves that we can, in fact, make our lives healthier. –Katie Ashman, Editor
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GROWING OUR COMMUNITY – SERVICE DAY AT VALLEY FORGE At AlphaBioCom, we value service to our community. Twice a year, staff members can take a day to volunteer in the community at a local charitable organization. On 2 separate days in October and November, 11 AlphaBioCom employees volunteered at Valley Forge National Historical Park, a scenic park in Pennsylvania, near our King of Prussia office. This 3,466-acre park served as a winter encampment of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. It is home to 26 miles of hiking and biking trails and one of the largest meadows in Southeastern Pennsylvania—with native grasses bordered by rolling hills—and gives visitors a sense of what Pennsylvania may have looked like more than a century ago.
Jeremy and Stefan secure a deer guard on their freshly planted tree.
AlphaBioCom staff planted trees and cut down weeds throughout the park under the guidance of Valley Forge Park rangers and arborists. We learned about the unique properties of the fertile limestone soil in Pennsylvania and how tree roots grow and absorb moisture and nutrients from this soil. Most were surprised to discover that unlike some plant roots, tree roots grow more laterally and rarely extend beyond a couple of feet down. We planted 24 trees—all native species including lindens, sweet gums, sugar maples, and red buds—at Artillery Park and near the Barron von Steuben statue. Each 1- to 2-year-old bare-root tree was lowered into an approximately 1-footdeep hole, and fertilizer—which contained
The AlphaBioCom team poses with the Valley Forge National Park members who supervised our educational service experience. Back row, from left: Stefan Kolata, Mike Smith, Ed Shifflett, Chris Woytko, Jeremy Gerrard; middle row: Claire Daniele, Meryl Gersh, Annie Rusnak, Dierdra (Valley Forge Park Ranger); bottom row: Carolina Pombo, Lee (Valley Forge Arborist).
a symbiotic fungus that helps trees derive moisture and nutrients from the surrounding soil—was added. Stakes were used to stabilize the young trees against wind, and a grid was tied around each trunk to protect from damage from deer. On another day, we helped a crew of regular volunteers repair the fencing around a riparian buffer zone. The plants in the zone are critical for reducing soil erosion and protecting water quality in Valley Creek. Fences keep the deer from eating the plants. We also removed invasive plants within the buffer zone and along the creek, including shrubs that required saws to cut down. This took time and required teamwork, but was rewarding and will have an impact on the park for years to come.
–Claire Daniele, Senior Scientific Communications Manager
MEET THE STAFF
Tim Wighton, DrPH
Senior Scientific Director As Senior Scientific Director, Tim leads content development for scientific communications strategies and tactics, conducts literature reviews and research, serves as a liaison with authors, and develops tactical plans.
Tim has an extensive and varied background over his 25-plus-year career. He has led cross-functional, international teams responsible for completing clinical research trials (Phase I, II, III, and IV). Tim has done regulatory work with both FDA and EMEA. He is known for his international expertise in Global Medical Affairs, Health Economics and Outcomes, and his Vaccine Public Policy expertise, for which he worked with the WHO and CDC. Tim is a Doctor of Public Health. He received his DrPH from the University of Washington’s Field of Study Infectious Diseases Program.
Tim retired from GlaxoSmithKline after nearly 20 years and began working at AlphaBioCom in October 2015.
Erin Crocker Senior Account Manager Working as a Senior Account Manager out of the West Coast AlphaBioCom office, Erin assists with budget maintenance, resourcing decisions, timeline management, new technology implementation, development of standard operating procedures, and long-term account strategic planning.
Erin attended the business program at California State University Channel Islands for 2 years and from there, she received her Holistic Health Coach Certification from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She has worked in several therapeutic areas such as Oncology, Bone Health, Inflammation, Nephrology, Cardiology, and Neuroscience. Erin has an extensive background in business administration and more than 10 years of experience in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industry. With organizational and technical skills, she has led daily operations for multiple executive offices within a large hospital system and has spent almost 5 years working directly with the largest biotech pharmaceutical company on the West Coast.
Erin joined AlphaBioCom in July 2016.
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Welcome to the January 2018 edition of AlphaBioCom Link