DENTAL SPECIALTIES Sink your teeth into the world of specialized dentistry, from orthodontics to periodontology. ALLIED HEALTH | PG 8
GALA CELEBRATES 40 YEARS OF JEP
A DAY IN THE LIFE OF
MD, MD/PhD, PhD and Dental Students
CENTERSPREAD | PG 6-7
THE FUTURE OF 3-D BIO PRINTING HEALTHCARE TECHNOLOGY | PG. 4
CLUBS & ORGS | PG 3
U N I V E R S I T Y O F S O U T H E R N C A L I FO R N I A’ S # 1 S O U R C E FO R P R E - H E A LT H N E W S
TROJAN HEALTH CONNECTION Volume IV | Issue II
December 4, 2013
The Anatomy of Athletes: Taking a Look at Sports Medicine By AISHA LODIN Editor Sports medicine is an interdisciplinary subspecialty of medicine which deals with the of athletes, both amateur and composed of specialty physicians and surgeons, athletic trainers, physical therapists, coaches, other personnel and, of course, the athlete. Sports medicine is as a single specialty but rather researchers and educators from
relationship between an athlete and his sports medicine career. Participation in compet-
against the Golden State Warriors in April, Bryant and his ery from a shattered Achilles tendon injury. Injury to the Achilles tendon most often occurs in two ways. or acceleration of the ankle, as when someone standing still suddenly takes off running. impact to the ankle or its surrounding areas, most commonly associated with motor accidents and crush injuries. In the case of Bryant, it was the former: his sudden take off in an attempt to beat off Harrison Barnes, a forward for Golden State Warriors. options for Achilles damage can range from to reconstruction using patients own donor tendon grafts. Surgical repair is usually recommend-
force him to focus on his foot-
can lead to a wide range of injusprains, swollen muscles, dislocations and fractures. Fifteen-time All Star Kobe pendent on his team of sports
style will put less pressure on orthopedic surgeon sewing the two ends of the tendon together with permanent sutures. Dr. rity orthopedic surgeon who
tra year of play.” Bryant completely before getting back complications down the line. He
stated in a Los Angeles Times
Scholarships for Serving the Underserved By MORGAN CHEEKS Writer With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, analysts estimate that nearly 30 million Americans will be newly insured by the end of this decade, drastically increasing the need for primary care health worksociation of American Medical Colleges predicts a shortage of 90,000 physicians by 2020.
ious stages of their careers. A student in an accredited school
sician assistant, can earn scholarships access to care. Upon graduation and completion of training, eligible students must agree to
in a highneed Health Professional Shortage Area
repayment programs, some of which are federally funded cost-sharing grants that help states operate their own repayment
sports medicine team is making progress with apists, practitioners and coaches are all working together to make sure his injury is fully taken care of before he returns to the court and will continue therapy
Healthcare Consulting By AMRIT JAGGI PR Manager
students aspiring to enter primary care specialties in the United States. CityDoctors,
School of Medicine. In return, each student commits to works as a primary care
For students interested in conducting research as part of their medical career,
Students in er, the rising NHSC offers a number of cost-sharing programs. their last year cost of higher education in the United States makes student loan debt a growing concern for students bound for the medical professions. As a result, high-paying specialties participants up to $120,000 in return professionals, causing primary care specialties to be understaffed. combat this growing problem, many
Current physicians are eligible to apply for the Repayment Programs and
physicians and allied health profession-
the direction of the U.S. Department of
COURTESY LOS ANGELES TIMES
BRYANT injured his Achilles tendon during a game in April.
only program of its kind.
professional doctoral degree who conduct one of the following types of research: clinical, pediatric, health disparities, or contraception and infertility. Whether a Physician Assistant, or a researcher seeking to reduce health disparities, there are many programs that make helping communities in need a
St. George’s University, Grenada.
ence as well.
HEALTHCARE consulting is an alternative for those interested in medicine.
While it is usually business and economic students searching for consulting positions, pre-health students should not healthcare consulting. Consulting other organizations to identify problems, Consulting jobs are highly sought after for their learning opportunities, professional Healthcare healthcare consultants work with health — see CONSULTING, page 2
Feature: Medicine-Related Jobs for Students | Social Impact: Biochemical Warfare | Article Exclusive: Medical Marijuana
2 Editors-in-Chief EDITORS-IN-CHIEF GURLEEN CHADHA NATASHAKUO SOSA REBECCA GAO && JESSICA Section EDITORS Editor SECTION VARUN AWASTHI GURLEEN CHADHA & NATASHA SOSA Associate Editors Editors SENIOR EDITORS ABRAM ESTAFANOUS AISHA LODIN JANIE CHEN ANJLIE GUPTA AUDREY CHAI ALLIE FARINACCI JESSICA DALLAS PAVITRA KRISHNAMANI JACKIE KRUGLYAKOVA ALINE HESSE ALLIE FARINACCI FAIZAN MALIK JIANING LIU ANJLIE GUPTA IFRAH HASSAN LESLIE WU JOHN TANAKA IFRAH HASSAN AISHA LODIN MEHUL TRIVEDI JANIE CHEN MORGAN ROGERS ASSOCIATE EDITORS: SUCHARITA YELLAPRAGADA MANU GANDHAM
Letter from the Editors-in-Chief
AUDREY CHAI, VARUN AWASTHI MORGAN ROGERS PAVITRA KRISHNAMANI MANAGERS: JACQUELINE DINH, Layout Editor; SANA AZAM, Managers SCOTT WEY, Web Managers; ASMAA ALBAROUDI, ALISON YU, PR Manager JAGGI,Relations PR Manager PETER ESKANDER, ALISON| AMRIT YU, Public Managers; EMILY HE, Advertisement Manager, | ANA HILLEBOE, Assistant Layout Manager | HAN DAO, GINA LEE, Photo Managers ANNETTE EOM, Funding Manager | CAMERON QUON, Senior Writers: Videography Manager | EMILY HE, Advertising KAUSAR ALI, DALTON BANH, NICOLE BASLER, SAYULI BHIDE, BENJAUTHRIT, ManagerLYNN | FRANCINE LIANG, AIMEE Photo CHANG, ManagerKELSEY | JACKIE CHESNEY, KRISTINA CHIU, DIANA CHUNG, ANNETTE DINH, Layout Manager | JUSTIN JOOHWAN PARK, EOM, ABRAM ESTAFANOUS, JESSICA FRANKEBERGER, MANU GANDHAM, HANG,PR Assistant Layout PURNIMA Manager GURUNG, | PETER DIANA ESKANDER, ROBERT HA, ALINE HESSE, AMRIT JAGGI, JUNG-GI Manager | SANA AZAM, Web Manager MIN, LAUREN MOHABBER, TIFFANY NAZAR, NIKKI NOE, AKSHAY SUBRAMANIAN, SEHAR SALMAN, LU Writers TIAN, CHUKWUMAMKPAM UZOEGWU AISHA VAIYANI, AMNA ELSAYED, AMY ZHAO, BRITTNEY KUO, DALTON BANH, EINAV NACHMAN, ERIKA BARAL, Writers: FAHAD HAEHELEN LIN LEE, JEHAN BISTA, JESSICA MORGANMANZUR, CHEEKS, CHOU, RYAN EMHOFF, FRANKEBERGER, JUNG-GI MIN,KAAKIJIAN, KATRINA MADDELA, NATALIE FRIEDERICKS, MARIE JACKIE KELSI CHESNEY,KATRINA LU TIAN, LYNN BENJAUTHRIT, MAGGIE KRUGLYAKOVA, MADDELA, EINAV NACHMAN, KING, MORGAN CHEEKS, NICOLE LAUREN BASLER,TAYLOR, RACHEL ALEX NGUYEN, JOHN TANAKA, POLCYN, EMILY VU RYAN EMHOFF, SATHVIK SHASTRY, SAYULI BHIDE HAO-HUA WU & TAKANORI OHKUBO Founders
Non-Traditional Research Fields By ANJLIE GUPTA Editor
ent pieces of the puzzle that I could bring together through my research.” Marwah has similarly been involved with non-traditional research. She is researchMany pre-health students choose to get ing various species of shrimp and their reinvolved in research directly related to bisponses to changes in the ecosystem at the ology or medicine, with the belief that such Marine Biodiversity Center at the Natural research will best prepare them for medHistory Museum in Los Angeles. She began ical school. In contrast, non-traditional working on the project in January 2013. research has appealed most to pre-med juMarwah, who is a health promotion and niors Steven Strozza and Harleen Marwah. disease prevention major, said, “Most HP Strozza, who is a biology and internamajors do their studies in something retional relations double major and a globlated to people, behavior, or health trends. al health minor, has been involved in reI decided I wanted to do research at the search in four different departments as an museum just because it was a really cool undergraduate at USC: biology, sociology, study. I’ve loved my international reexperience there. I’ve lations and global gotten the practical health. He first belab skills and it’s like came involved in a family down there, research in the biso that’s really cool ology department too.” in July 2012. “It definitely is “I pretty much different research. did it just because Through this reI knew I was supsearch, I’ve definitely posed to do reSteven Strozza come to understand search as a prethe importance of inmed,” said Strozza. terdisciplinary study. “To be honest, I We have students really didn’t enjoy coming in from all sorts of majors and init. There were a ton of students in the lab corporating their perspectives into the reand so I never really had an ability to do search. Having these different perspectives a lot in the lab. It was always really menial has helped me progress.” things, and I really wanted to be part of a “Working at the museum has afforded project.” me the opportunities to network with some Then, as a sophomore, Strozza got inof the top researchers in the country and to volved in sociology research for three hear from some great lecturers,” said Marmonths and international relations rewah. search for eight months. In sociology, Overall, both Strozza and Marwah found Strozza studied labor disparities between research outside the fields of science to be gay and straight sex workers in the pornogbeneficial. raphy industry. In international relations, Marwah said, “It’s made me more pasStrozza studied peacekeeping in countries sionate about science. It’s made me more post-violence. well-rounded. I can look at things from a “For international relations, I’m a double different perspective.” major. I started looking into this topic for To view full article, visit trojanhealthcona class, and I kind of fell in love with it,” nection.com. said Strozza. “I saw that there were differ-
I saw that there were different pieces of the puzzle that I could bring together through my research.
TROJAN HEALTH CONNECTION | December 4, 2013
CONSULTING (from page 1) insurance companies, hospitals, or private health firms to develop solutions based on their needs. The main difference between a healthcare consultant and a typical consultant is the need to understand technical details about the health industry and its framework. Ruhi Sikri, a senior at USC majoring in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, interned with LiveseySolar in London during the summer as a healthcare consultant. Sikri’s main project was to develop a new online marketing strategy and improve patient retention for an optometry firm. At USC, Sikri learns how to positively impact lives in healthcare using the business side of the industry. “Slowly I began to realize that it is possible to work as a consultant and also be able to change peoples’ lives in a different way,” said Sikri. “It is for this reason that I suggest anyone who has a passion for helping others and solving problems take the time to explore these kinds of opportunities,” she added. For Sikri, her career is an integration of health and business concepts. “I loved being able to combine my love of health and business to work and help companies that were either trying to develop from the ground up or improve in some way,” Sikri said. Based on her experiences this summer, Sikri advises students with a science background to gain some exposure to the business world. “I would have supplemented my science background with a business or entrepreneurship minor or at least taken a few more classes so I would have felt better prepared” said Sikri. However, students with enough dedication and the right attitude will still be successful. “Even if you don’t study business, you can still get into the field as long as you put in the time on your own to learn more about topics that you don’t fully understand,” Sikri said. Students who are interested in learning more about careers in healthcare consulting should contact the USC Career Center.
Feature: USC Davis School of Gerontology By JOLIE COPERMAN Writer Aging is a reality of existence and a topic neglected by many undergraduate students. While Gerontology is not a typically common choice of study, the Davis School of Gerontology extends to USC students the opportunity to take classes relevant to today’s society and to any pre-health student. Many USC pre-health students enter college hoping for freedom in course selection, but end up discouraged by requirement-laden majors such as Biology or Chemistry. However, Gerontology may be an option for them to consider. “Courses offered through USC Davis tend to be what pre-health students are waiting for,” said John Walsh, a professor in the USC Davis School of Gerontology. He added, “Taking courses in gerontology has an applied effect to the pre-health training.” Walsh teaches several gerontology-affiliated classes, including BISC 230: Brains, Minds, and Machines, GERO 414: Neurobiology of Aging and GERO 310: Physiology of Aging. He also recently won the Associates Award for Excellence in Teaching. Walsh teaches students about the aging body: what happens when the body malfunctions and how to improve care when malfunctions occur – stimulating topics of utmost importance to those with a prehealth focus. Gerontology classes also tend to be far smaller than traditional science courses, which can provide students with a more engaging learning environment. Undergraduate student Claire Bazley said, “GERO 310 was a fascinating and difficult course! It was interesting to look at diseases from an aging-focused perspective.” In addition, Davis-specific events such as its Colloquium Series in Aging offer students the opportunity to engage with renowned professors in gerontology and
COURTESY USC DAVIS SCHOOL OF GERONTOLOGY
CLASS of 2013 graduates celebrate completing their studies in geronotology. other health related fields. Lecture topics include: Tobacco and Aging, Personalized Medicine, and Stem Cell Therapy. USC Davis offers undergraduate and graduate degrees that support a well-rounded academic background applicable to a wide range of careers. Walsh said, “When I discuss the biology of aging, I can correlate that information to public policy, psychological aspects of aging, or sociology, and that allows students a unique experience.” Further, for pre-medical students, a background in gerontology serves as an asset for improved patient care. Walsh said, “The majority of patients will be over the age of 65 in this generation.” There is much room, however, for overlap in other disciplines. “The career options for students who graduate with a degree in gerontology are endless. Students from this program have gone on to careers in medicine, but also academia, nursing, media, policy, and more,” said Jaclyn Portanova, a Davis PhD student. Gerontology is a worthwhile field for students who are not fully committed to the idea of becoming a physician but still wish to work in the medical and health professions. To view full article, visit trojanhealthconnection.com.
December 4, 2013 | TROJAN HEALTH CONNECTION
CLUBS & ORGANIZATIONS
Kicks for Kids Brings Soccer to Children with Special Needs By JESSICA FRANKEBERGER Writer A new USC organization is ness through soccer to a group of children that normally have very limited access to organized sports. Started in September 2013, Kicks for Kids holds regular soccer games on campus throughout each semester for children with physical and developmental disabilities. USC senior Zade Shakir, president and founder of Kicks for Kids, developed the program after attending USC’s Spirits in Action day, a carnival-like event held in March for kids with special needs. There he was inspired by Erick, a young boy with autism who loves soccer but has very little opportunity to play. After meeting Erick, Shakir was encouraged to give children like Erick a safe and fun environment in which to enjoy soc-
cer. “Children with physical and developmental disabilities are marginalized from mainstream sports programs because of their disabilities, and to me, that was an outrage,” Shakir said. “I couldn’t imagine my childhood without organized sports, so to hear that these kids are prevented from playing in those programs really bothered me” Shakir added In response, Shakir partnered with Spirits in Action and developed Kicks for Kids, which holds seven game days throughout the fall semester on McCarthy Quad. According to Shakir, game activities for players and their assigned volunteer. The day often starts with warm-ups and stretching, followed by some dribbling and shooting practice. Groups often then play soccer mini-games and “Sharks and Minnows.”
Gala Honors 40 years of JEP
“Soccer helps with strength as running and kicking engages your whole body,” Shakir said. “Furthermore, it helps teach coordination and improvement of motor skills, and encourages team-building” he added. Kicks for Kids has about 70 kids attend per day and continues to grow each week, as players and their families spread awareness about the program mainly through word-of-mouth. According to Shakir, “Each week we have several new families join us, who say they heard about our program from their friends that attended a previous week and had a great time.” He added “The fact that families keep coming back each week, and bring their friends with them, tells us that we are doing a good job.” Players come mainly from the local neighborhood and lower income areas. With this in mind, Shakir says he wanted to ensure a free and accessible program
for everyone. Most of the funding for Kicks for Kids comes from the university and donations by the Iraqi Medical Science Association. The USC Men’s Club Soccer
constantly growing and looking for new volunteers to partner with the increasing number of players. All students are welcome and will receive a free t-shirt for volunteering.
team also allows Kicks for Kids to use their equipment each week. On a single game day, Kicks for Kids has about 80 volunteers, but Shakir says they are
For more information about Kicks for Kids, visit usckicksforkids.com. New volunteers istration” page on the website.
COURTESY KICKS FOR KIDS
Neurocamp Welcomes High School Students On Nov. 2, USC Interaxonwelcomed high school students from the surrounding community in its biannual event Neurocamp. Students were given the opportunity to learn about neuroscience through lab experiments and a professor panel. InteresteD? To see more photos for the event and to learn more information, please visit our Facebook page at www. facebook.com/trojanhealthconnection.
By KATRINA MADDELA Writer On October 29, USC’s JEP celebrated 40 years of commitment and service to the community. The anniversary gala was held at Town and Gown, and key speakers included Dean Steve Kay, actress America Ferrera, and Trojan Health Volunteers founder Dr. Daniel Potter. Both Ferrera and Potter spoke of how their experiences in JEP had helped shape them into whom they are now. Potter spoke about the time he volunteered at St. John’s Well Child & Family Center. St. John’s was mostly staffed with volunteers, which inspired Potter very much. He said, “I discovered that providing medical care to others can and should bring joy to those who provide it. I came away inspired.”
WEB MANAGER SANA AZAM
SoCal Lazarex: A New Approach to Cancer Funding By AUDREY CHAI Associate Editor
Dr. Daniel Porter displays an award at the gala with co-chairs Sharon Tesoriero (left) and Deena Lew (right).
While JEP offered opportunities for students to connect with the community, Potter believed that there needed to be a program that would help his fellow pre-med classmates see the realities of healthcare. For two years, he helped place his fellow classmates and friends in volunteering positions in clinics and hospitals around USC. When he graduated in 1988, he handed over the program to JEP. Since then, THV has been under the care of JEP, with 160 participating students in over 12 sites in the greater Los Angeles area. “During the summer, we get calls all asking ‘How can I get into THV?’” she said. Anderson added “One of the most important things about THV is that it gives students the chance to see if they do—or do not—want to go into health care.” Anderson related a story about a former THV volunteer, who saw tal. It was a revealing experience for the student; she found herself being more drawn to comforting the family of the deceased and later went into social work. JEP is also host to a number of other health-related programs, although they all are related to a class. For example, those who take take what they learn in class and then go and teach the material to students in the community. The USC students must really know their information in order to condense and simplify the material for younger students. Whether it is in THV, one of the JEP-integrated classes, or any of the other programs that JEP has to offer, the experience to be had is unforgettable. yourself getting back so much more than you can give.”
The Lazarex Cancer Foundation focuses around a simple idea regarding cancer treatment: the size of someone’s checkbook should not determine the type of treatment they receive. Dana Dornsife started the Lazarex Cancer Foundation after a close family member fell victim to pancreatic cancer. The foundation provides resources for cancer nity education and outreach services to build a bridge to hope, dignity and life for patients and their families. Last year, two current USC juniors, Joanna Lifounding USC’s very own chapter of Lazarex.
icine and cancer research. After planning and a meeting with Lazarex executives and the foundaSoCal Lazarex. This was USC’s very own chapter of the Lazarex the foundation to be established here in Southern California. The mission and purpose of the Lazarex Founfaced by cancer patients and their families during the treatment process. Liang said, “The primary goal of SoCal Lazarex is to support the Lazarex Foundation by raising through clinical trials.” Dornsife’s idea that since cancer does not discriminate, money should not be a discriminatory factor in cancer treatment. SoCal Lazarex works to raise money to help cancer patients attend clinical trials, bringing hope and a chance for survival into patients’ lives.
So far, SoCal Lazarex has organized fundraissales and they have even bigger plans for the future. These plans include volunteering at various Lazarex Foundation events throughout Southern California such as the Malibu International Marathon in addition to hosting more fundraising events on campus. its cause. Liang said, “There are numerous organizations that help raise money for cancer treatment or canin that it helps determine whether these patients can go to clinical trials or not.” According to Liang, some patients have successfully passed the cancer stage and are now currently in remission, thanks to Lazarex. “It is so great to be able to see the difference that we can make in these patients’ lives just by As for the future of SoCal Lazarex, besides continuing to raise money for their cause, the organization is hoping to spread awareness of the Lazarex Foundation to other schools throughout the Southern California area. “It would be great to partner up with similar cancer organizations at other schools and bring awareness to the foundation and its core ideas,” said Liang. SoCal Lazarex is also interested in bringing in guest speakers like graduate students or professors who can talk about their cancer research to help inspire students and also create opportunities for student involvement in cancer research. Anyone who is interested in SoCal Lazarex is encouraged to reach out to the organization. Liang encourages those who really believe in the values and mission of Lazarex to apply to become an Visit the SoCal Lazarex facebook page at www. facebook.com/USCLazarex.
TROJAN HEALTH CONNECTION | December 4, 2013
3D Bio-Printing Technology Could Enable On-Demand Organ Synthesis By NICOLE BASLER Writer There are currently more than 120,000 men, women, and children in America who need life-saving organ transplants. While more than one million tissue transplants are performed each year, an average of 18 people die each day from the lack of available organs for transplant. An additional name is also added to the national organ transplant waiting list every ten minutes. The surgical need for tissue is increasing, according to Donate Life America. In spite of the strain these numbers indicate, it may be possible to synthesize 3D printed organs using a patient’s own cells. This technology is called bioprinting and offers a way to satisfy the growing demand for human tissue and organs. It offers greater speed and computer precision in printing living cells to create replacement skin, body parts, and organs such as hearts, livers and kidneys. Although widespread public access to this technology is currently not realistic, university labs and private companies have used 3D bioprinting to synthesize such organs and tissue, according to USA Today. The 3D printing process is based on the growth of stem cells according to a computer-generated model. Living cells are layered by an additive process. In other words, the cells are placed in a specific position, which allows them to self-organize and grow. The ink used for printing consists of live cells that are delivered from a nozzle, constructing layer by layer of cells to create a 3D tissue or organ. The cells used for bioprinting are derived from the patient’s individual stem cells and removed from his fat or bone marrow, which eliminates the possibility of transplant rejection from the patient’s body, according to the American Society for Cell Biology. Stuart Williams, executive and scientific director of the Cardiovascular Innovation Institute’s efforts to synthesize
Medical College and biomedical engineers at Cornell University in New York announced they had used 3D printing to synthesize a realistic human ear that appears and functions like the real one, according to USA Today. Williams is optimistic about the future of organ synthesis through the use of 3D bioprinting, according to USA Today. He said, “Ultimately, I see it being used to print replacement kidneys, to print livers, and to print hearts — and all from your own cells.” Despite considerable success, challenges to printing a functional tissue or organ still persist. These difficulties include the production of viable cells, creating a vascular system of branched vessels, generating the exact structural complexity of organs, and integrating the cells into COURTESY WPCORE.MPF.S3.AMAZONAWS.COM a functional network,according to the American Society for Cell Biology. 3D printing is a technological innovation that may revolutionize organ Keith Murphy, chairman and CEO of transplantation. Organovo, a San Diego based compaa 3D printed heart, attempted to simplify the biological process, according to Fox News. He said, “We will be print- ny committed to designing tissue through bioprinting, ing things on the order of tens of microns, or more like admitted several difficulties in printing complex organs, hundreds of microns, and then cells will undergo their bi- according to Fox News. He said, “If you do what we do ological developmental response in order to self-organize with putting cells in the right place, you don’t start with anything structural to hold things up. For us, the challenge correctly.” Thus far, bioprinting has achieved some success in its is the strength and integrity of the structure.” Overall, 3D organ printing requires further trial and retrials and tests. For instance, in May 2013, doctors saved a six-week old child with a 3D printed trachea. Recently, re- search before it is released as a safe and widespread innosearchers in China have also claimed to succeed in print- vation to the public. While bioprinting pioneers hope to ing a pair of kidneys for patients in need of transplants. fulfill the most complex organ transplants and necessities, In addition, in February 2013, doctors at Weill Cornell even the smallest successes, such as tissue regeneration, can prove life-changing for many patients.
Wireless Health Technology By MANU GANDHAM Editor If you’ve ever seen someone wearing Google Glass, or a Nike Fuelband, or the Pebble Smartwatch, then you’ve witnessed the beginnings of wearable technology. As devices get smaller and lighter, engineers can start incorporating computers into clothes and fashion accessories. Being in contact with bodies 24/7 enables these devices to do something truly useful: monitor one’s health. Health monitoring technology is not a new field. However, Bluetooth wireless communication technology has become much more energy-efficient, allowing the creation of devices that can be left turned on all the time. These devices can gather information about one’s health throughout the day, and then send that information to one’s smartphone regularly. But what can these devices really tell individuals about their health? It depends on what kinds of sensors are being used. Most health monitoring devices on the market today exist as “smart-watches:” devices worn on a wrist as one would wear a watch. The most common sensor currently in these devices is the accelerometer. Accelerometers gather data about movement. Using computational algorithms, smartwatches with accelerometers can tell individuals exactly how active they were throughout the day, which allows them to monitor and track their levels of fitness and set goals for themselves. Heart rate sensors are also used in some devices. In addition to measuring one’s cardiovascular fitness and helping one work out safely and effectively, heart rate sensors can also make guesses about one’s mood and stress levels. This could allow one’s smartphone to act like a true personal coach: pushing when it can tell that one isn’t working hard enough, and encouraging relaxation when it knows one is anxious or tired out. Other sensors are also being developed and are on their way: temperature sensors
and moisture sensors can tell individuals a surprising amount of information when combined with accelerometers and heart rate sensors. Temperature sensors can detect minor fluctuations in body temperature, which could alert one about oncoming illnesses, and moisture sensors can monitor metabolic activity, which could be used to advise one on when exactly to eat and when to diet. The potential health information that can be inferred from these sensors is only limited by the computer software which analyzes them. As devices emerge that combine these and other sensors, smartphones will be better at making predictions about health and can serve as a “life coach:” instructing what and when to eat, when to sleep, when to exercise and when to hydrate. By taking a lot of the guesswork out of taking care of ourselves, health monitoring devices can truly simplify our lives. However, there are some problems which could prevent these kinds of devices from really taking off. Dr. Spruijt-Metz, MD, of the Keck School of Medicine uses wireless metabolic monitors in her research into childhood obesity. “Design is everything,” she said. Spruijt-Metz added, “They have to work perfectly. Right now these devices are a little glitchy, but there’s an enormous market for devices that are robust and fashionable if engineers put their minds and creativity to work.” The future of wireless health devices holds numerous social implications. If more of society is actively aware of their health, people will be able to keep themselves healthier. This might prevent them from needing to make as many trips to the doctor, freeing up the time of physicians. In fact, having all of one’s health data on a smartphone could allow one to share that data directly with your doctor, allowing them to alert one if they notice something going wrong. In this way, in addition to keeping individuals healthy and happy, wireless health devices can also keep them safe.
Technological Telepathy By SUCHARITA YELLAPRAGADA Editor
nected to a computer through an electroencephalogram-based brain computer interface (EEG-based BCI). This computer picked up signals using electrodes (attached to a cap worn over the skull) that transmitted electrical activity when the sender
The idea of mind control has been depicted in movies for many decades. From The Matrix in 1999 to Inception in 2010, this concept of the ability to have power over a person’s actions or thoughts creates room for scientific exploration and inquiry in the field of neuroscience. While many machine-to-human brain interface experiments have failed and succeeded, only recently was the first human-to-human brain interface established. COURTESY UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON On Aug. 12, University of Brain-to-Brain interface set-up. Washington researchers developed a system to allow one researcher to remotely control the movement of anoth- played a computer game and thought about er researcher’s hand through the internet. firing a cannon at a target. The receiver, who was connected to anAlthough the concept of a brain-tobrain interface may seem complex, the re- other computer through a transcranial searchers at the University of Washington magnetic stimulation (TMS) machine, rewanted to make their system as simple as ceived the EEG signal through the internet. The TMS machine then stimulated the possible. region of the motor cortex of the receiver that controls hand movement in the brain. This resulted in the receiver instantaneously twitching his index finger, firing the cannon to blow up the target in the game. The development of a functioning brainto-brain interface system raises moral and ethical questions. Could this lead to mind control without consent? Researchers, however, are quick to assure the public that the setup of this technology is only capable of interface if both the sender and receiver are willing to participate. For now, the researchers are working towards transmitting more complex information between human beings, such as COURTESY BRAINBRILLIANCE.ORG our brains are in control of our lives. images. There is still much to experiment with, however, and the researchers at the Their setup consisted of two humans University of Washington are looking forwith their brains connected via internet ward to expanding their knowledge in signals. The first human brain was con- brain-computer interfaces.
December 4, 2013 | TROJAN HEALTH CONNECTION
Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) By PAVITRA KRISHNAMANI Senior Editor The term “Complementary and Alternative Medicine” (CAM) refers to a series of techniques and modalities for the practice of medicine that are not widely known or formally used in the Western world. As these techniques are not often taught in medical schools, they are considered “alternative” when introduced to Western societies, although many have roots in traditional medicine elsewhere. Some of these techniques have spread to the greater public in a less complex and formalized manner. Prevention magazine’s New Choices in Natural Healing explains, “While the term alternative medicine may conjure up some pretty exotic images, many of these therapies are more familiar than you think. If you’ve ever massaged your temples to ease a headache, applied an ice pack to a sprained ankle or listened to your car radio to de-stress during a traffic jam, you’ve already practiced some simple natural healing techniques.” The World Health Organization esti-
mates that between sixty-five and eighty percent of the world’s population, approximately three billion individuals, rely on CAM as their primary form of healthcare. Two of the CAM systems these individuals rely on are Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Ayurvedic medicine, or Ayurveda, is a system of medicine which originated in India more than 3,000 years ago. It utilizes herbal compounds, special diets, and yoga, among other techniques. According to the 2007 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), more than 200,000 US adults used Ayurveda within the previous year. The National Institute of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine’s (NCCAM) information sheet on Ayurveda cites studies that show promise for Ayurveda in treating rheumatoid arthritis, certain digestive disorders, and osteoarthritis. Overall, however, research conducted on Ayurveda must be increased and further controlled
before it can become widely used in the US. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) also originated thousands of years ago in the Eastern world, evolving from Taosim in China. This system of medicine uses herbs, massage therapy, and acupuncture, among other methods, to treat patients. In the US, TCM is widely used, reaching approximately 3,000,000 US adults through acupuncture according to the 2007 NHIS. Both Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture have been studied for a wide range of conditions including osteoarthritis, depression, diabetes, and back pain. However, despite the wide use of TCM, NCCAM states on its TCM information sheet that scientific evidence for these techniques are limited. Studies suggest that acupuncture may be useful for many different conditions, but the research currently available on it is not sufficient. Additionally, studies with better designs must be conducted to provide evidence for Chinese herbal medicine.
Consumers expect to be treated as people rather than diagnoses.
According to an excerpt from Five Steps to Selecting the Best Alternative Medicine, the increasing curiosity about CAM in the United States is a result of several shifts in the attitude towards healthcare in the American healthcare system today. First, there is a realization that conventional biomedical medicine, which is considered the status quo, cannot solve all of America’s health problems. Second, health is increasingly being viewed as a phenomenon that encompasses more than just the physical body, challenging the long-held notion that health is simply “the absence of disease.” Third, overall research shows that many alternative medical techniques prove to be more effective, more economical, less invasive, and less harmful than conventional techniques. Finally, a growing number of healthcare consumers are open to trying CAM and expect to be treated as people rather than diagnoses, as historically done by healthcare providers. Considering these trends, it is entirely possible that one day CAM will no longer be considered an alternative in the Western world, but rather a norm.
Quinoa vs. Brown Rice: Op-Ed: Death in a Dose, Let the Food Fight Begin Multivitamin Dangers By AISHA VAIYANI Writer A new semester at USC entails new classes, new professors, new schedules, and even new grains! The dining halls and restaurants on campus provide a wide variety of foods to sample from. With the addition of Verde, a Mexican-inspired restaurant located in the Tutor Campus Center, students have even more choices. Both Lemonade and Verde provide a type of grain alternative to white rice. Lemonade serves seasonal-inspired quinoa dishes, while students who try Verde have the option of choosing brown rice. With two new options, one cannot help but ask: which wins this food fight? Calorically, quinoa and brown rice are almost identical. One cooked cup of quinoa clocks in at around 222 calories, while brown rice follows at 216 calories. For the most part, the similarities end here. When comparing grams of fat, a serving of quinoa, at approximately 3.6 grams per serving, has twice as much fat as brown rice does. On the other hand, quinoa trumps brown rice in terms of protein. Not only does quinoa have three more grams of protein per serving than brown rice does, but it is also a complete protein, which means that one serving of this grain-like seed contains all of the essential amino acids needed in a healthy diet. Furthermore, quinoa is also a superior source of iron compared to brown rice. One serving contains 16 percent of the recommended daily intake, while a serving of brown rice contains four percent. Iron is typically found in red meat, so quinoa serves as a good source of iron for vegetarian Trojans. In terms of sodium intake, however,
brown rice is the better choice. It contains three fewer grams of sodium than quinoa does per serving. Additionally, a serving of brown rice has over three times the amount of vitamin B3, or niacin, than a serving of quinoa. Among other things, niacin helps to reduce low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in the body. This is significant because an excess of LDL cholesterol can lead to a buildup of plaque in the arteries. People with diets high in LDL cholesterol have a greater chance of developing heart disease as well. When considering other vitamins and minerals, like folate, zinc and magnesium, quinoa prevails, as a single serving has more to offer than brown rice does. While folate is especially important for women, zinc is a pivotal trace element for combating the flu. Moreover, magnesium aids in building strong bones. There is still one more factor to consider: taste. For the most part, there is not a majority opinion among students in this regard. “I didn’t like the taste of brown rice as much before. Once I realized that it was a healthier option, I gave it another chance,” said Jennifer Bou Lahoud, senior. “I definitely appreciate it more now.” Other students expressed similar sentiments for quinoa. “Depending on how it’s cooked, I tend to prefer quinoa over brown rice,” said Shant Fakhoorian, junior. “The fact that it’s healthy is an added bonus.” With that being said, what’s the verdict? In this food fight, quinoa is triumphant because of its supply of vitamins and minerals. Although it contains slightly higher amounts of fat and sodium per serving, it is packed with essential nutrients like protein and iron. Additionally, quinoa and brown rice are both available at eateries on campus, so you can try them both and declare your own winner in this food fight!
Grains: Quinoa (left) wins this food fight against brown rice (right).
By JACKIE KRUGLYAKOVA Associate Editor
different from last year’s Cochrane study that found vitamin A to be another dangerous prospect. Between examining the results and proA staggering number of new reports posing theories, scientists have come to show that the multivitamins we have been a conclusion: the harm of multivitamins told to take all our lives are now imposing comes in the form of antioxidants, the too many health risks. mechanisms of which are still in question. Just recently, The International Journal The human body conducts hundreds of of Cancer released information regarding oxidation processes each day, producing findings that supported a growing number free radicals as by-products. DNA, cell of tumors in males related to vitamin C inmembranes and the lining of arteries are all take. Men who take high doses of vitamin prone to damage by free radicals. It’s of no supplements could increase their risk of lesurprise that free radicals have been tied to thal prostate cancer by nearly 30 percent, a variety of cancers and genetic defects. according to the Alpha-Tocopherol Beta Antioxidants, however, are produced to Carotene Cancer Prevention Study Group. fight off free radicals. They are found in Another study published in the Archives fruits and vegetables, as well as in seleniof Internal Medicine suggests that certain um, beta carotene and vitamins A, C and E. multivitamins may even shorten life. While some studies have shown an inAs it turns out, scientists have known creased correlation between consuming for years that multivitamins can be quite more fruits and harmful, but the vegetables and a battle between decreased risk of health agencies cancer and heart and multivitastroke, others direct min manufacno light on the relaturers has kept tionship. important inThese differing information sealed teractions have led from the public. to the term “the anIn 1994, a tioxidant paradox.” study published When one takes viin The New Entamins for long perigland Journal of ods of time, his/her Medicine tested body’s production Finnish men and destruction of who were regCOURTESY ULTRA FITNESS DYNAMICS free radicals generularly taking ates a synthetic state multivitamins: High doses of these can lead either vitamin where the immune to an increased risk of prostrate cancer. E, beta carotene, system is disturbed both or a placeenough to prevent an adequate immune bo. The results of the study supported the response to any invasive bodies. This very hypothesis that men taking beta-carotene cycle leads to various health issues. for five to eight years are more likely to die “For years, we were using these supplefrom lung or heart disease. ments without knowing the effects on the This isn’t the only study to find that mul- body,” said Toren Finkel, head of the Centre tivitamins have harmful side effects, either. for Molecular Medicine at the National InIn 2004, 14 trials for the Cochrane Data- stitutes of Health. base found that the supplemental vitamins Although many local health organizaA, C, E and beta carotene as well as the tions, like the Consumers Union, strictly mineral selenium, taken to prevent intesti- oppose use of multivitamin supplements, nal cancers, increased mortality. many vitamins still pass freely through Then, in 2005, a review published in the Food and Drug Administration evaluation. Annals of Internal Medicine concluded that A morbid anxiety is fueled by the mantaking supplemental vitamin E did indeed ufacturers’ clever publicity and capitalistic increase mortality. consumerism. Unfortunately, what many More recently, in 2011, an analysis print- people fail to consider is the health of miled in the Journal of the American Medical lions who have grown up taking these mulAssociation linked vitamin E supplements tivitamins daily. The clock is still ticking. to a greater risk of prostate cancer, not too
DAY IN T
TROJAN HEALTH CONNECTION | December 4, 2013
BASICS First-year medical students have an in-depth look at gross anatomy during labs.
1 DAY 8
By RYAN EMHOFF Writer
Every day thousands of dedicated college students around the nation work for a chance at earning one of the coveted spots in an MD program. Katherine Fu, valedictorian of the graduating class of 2013 at USC, is currently in her first year at Keck School of Medicine. She was kind enough to share a glimpse into the life of a medical student. It is difficult to compress a typical schedule into a daily routine because each day is so varied. Katherine said, “In the morning we usually have lecture from 8-12 followed by either gross anatomy labs, or Introduction to Clinical Medicine.” This usually takes several hours. The gross anatomy labs consist of human donor dissections to learn how to
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Doctoral cand ‘immense eff By SANA AZAM Web Manager
Caroline Johnson, PhD student ing neuroscientist, starts her day l er person: with a cup of coffee a with her furry feline. Like many muters, she arrives on campus morning. Once in her office, she begins answering emails from her supe students. Throughout the day, Johnson with her coursework and rese third year finishing up her secon qualification exam, she finds he ing into the grant writing proc mersing into the experimental p But, regardless of her hectic sc enjoys every moment. “I really enjoy the research a Johnson. “I started in undergrad search for one of my teachers, and fell in love with it.” Johnson’s pursuit of a career stemmed from her initial interest i ence theory. Johnson said, “I had always enjoy about neuroscience, but hands-on was and I wanted to keep doing that.” Recounting her application period ate school, Johnson expressed the im standing out with one’s work. It’s very competitive,” she said, refer applicant pool. “Graduate schools req GPA, experience in research, your CV,
29 IMAGES COURTESY OF GOOGLE.COM
RESEARCH The PhD component of the dual degree takes place over a period of four years in between MD curriculum.
By VARUN AWASTHI Section Editor
MD/PhD degrees can be obtain through dual-degree programs offe at various allopathic medical scho throughout the United States. Having b degrees allows one to conduct in-depth s entific research and apply it to medica relevant contexts. Samir Awasthi, an MD/PhD student the University of California, Davis is o such student. Prior to entering the MD/PhD progra Awasthi received a bachelor’s degree physics and a master’s degree in biomed engineering from the Massachusetts In tute of Technology.
December 4, 2013 | TROJAN HEALTH CONNECTION
ntify key structures and their relationships. e clinical medicine course helps students velop necessary intrapersonal skills. “It’s a really refreshing break because even ough you’re not treating them, simply takg their medical histories or blood pressures minds you why you’re here,” Katherine said. This aspect of the medical student curricum is an integral step in molding compasnate doctors of the future. The expectations in an MD program differ nificantly from those of an undergraduate ogram. The first two years of medical school classare pass/fail, which is great according to therine. “It inspires more collaboration,” e said. One still has to study every night, but the k of a competitive environment found ore typically among premed students makes at studying more relaxed. This by no means suggests the course load is
easier since students generally take six to seven subjects, each of which covers a large body of material. Katherine brought up a common metaphor that is used to describe this effect: “During undergraduate education one drinks from a hose, but in medical school one drinks from a fire hydrant.” Additionally, once a student begins to wear a lab coat every day people expect more professionalism from them because that student is training to become part of a highly complicated and well-respected craft. The process of getting into medical school is highly competitive, as only 44.7% of applicants are granted admission to at least one school according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.
“DURING UNDERGRADUATE EDUCATION, ONE DRINKS FROM A HOSE. BUT IN MEDICAL SCHOOL, ONE DRINKS FROM A FIRE HYDRANT.”
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cation packet and interviews.” She went on to explain the various vocational pathways for a PhD holder. Johnson said, “There’s a ton of options, but the general two that most people tend to go toward is a position in academia or private industry, in healthcare or pharmacy.” Discussing her own career goals for after receiving a doctorate, Johnson said, “I personally would like to go into industry.” As a graduate student working toward a PhD, Johnson receives a stipend from her research, but also works as a Teaching Assistant (TA). “It’s a good way to earn your money,” said Johnson about some of the reasons she decided to work as a TA for this and previous semesters. When asked about her experience as a TA, she said, “I like it. It’s a lot of work [and] really difficult to balance trying to do my own research…along with [teaching]. I need to know the class material really well for the questions I get asked.” Even though her time is precious, Johnson sees a victory in every student she teaches. “It’s really rewarding watching students get it,” she said. Overall, Johnson’s experience stresses the point that being a PhD student takes immense effort and dedication. Without a strong foundation, support system and unrelenting attitude, a student may find themselves a few years into an academic program that they were not prepared for. As Johnson drives home to a hungry kitty and comfy bed after a long day’s work, she is happy knowing that she is one step closer to her goals and will do anything to make them a reality.
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Even though the time commitments from her classes keep her very busy, Katherine still chooses to find time nearly every day for an engaging pursuit unrelated to medicine. Another tip Katherine gave was to have a good support network. “Keeping loved ones close within the framework of one’s life and leaning on them in strenuous times is vital to pushing through,” she said. Accessing that support network might be a necessary part of the daily routine during particularly stressful periods. Medical school is a fast-paced combination of high-level academics, clinical work, research, and patient interaction. “Taking it day by day is a great idea,” Katherine said. Each day is filled with demanding activities and stresses. Some may consider this undertaking an overwhelming prospect, but in the end the sun still rises the next morning.
Fourth-year describes patient care protocol, opportunities at Ostrow School of Dentistry
By ABRAM ESTAFANOUS Associate Editor
As a fourth year dental student at the Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC, Matthew Magar commences his day much like he did during his past three years – at six o’clock in the morning. After eating a small breakfast and packing lunch, he sets out to begin his day as a dental student. The day officially begins with a meeting with the instructor. Here, the patient case is discussed, which includes reasons for treatment as well as the actual treatment itself. After the case is discussed, the patient is treated. This can include a variety of procedures, such as crown fillings. Once treatment is finished, the instructor evaluates the work performed on the patient. Then comes a thirty-minute feedback discussion session, where the instructor approves the clinical note written. Magar stressed the importance of the feedback session. “The feedback session is very important for a dentist in training,” he said. “It’s what allows the student to improve on a regular basis. It’s always nice to have
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Once accepted, however, it does not get any easier. “You have to find something outside medicine that’s yours...something to help ground you and relieve stress,” Katherine said. For her, outside activities consist of martial arts and music. She has practiced Shaolin Kung-Fu for several years and plays the viola. She also joined Chorda Tympani, an a cappella group at school. “Student organizations are very low-commitment. They know what your schedule is like so they understand if you can’t make all the meetings,” Katherine said. For example, on Tuesdays at lunch Chorda Tympani meets and Friday afternoons after classes she practices martial arts at the gym.
direct feedback on work done.” The end of the instructor feedback session signals a lunch break. This cycle of patient treatment repeats again after lunch, from the initial meeting with the instructor to the feedback session. The day then usually ends, unless it is Tuesday or Wednesday. These days include night clinic from 6 to 9 at night. After the last patient, any necessary lab work for the day is completed before heading home. Magar said, “This is considered the end of a student’s day at school. After the lab work, most students go home, where they can study for boards or work out– essentially anything that de-stresses.” When asked why he chose the Ostrow School of Dentistry, Magar stated that the opportunities at USC stood out. “Here, the opportunities are great. USC offers unique opportunities that are not found in many other dental schools. There are top instructors, and the learning is very hands-on. The community here upholds the highest standards,” he said. As for his day-to-day routine, Magar said that he feels truly blessed to be able to learn something new everyday and hopes to continue his studies in his pursuit of the dental profession.
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When asked what motivated him to pursue an MD/PhD, Awasthi said “I didn’t want to give up the chance to learn more about physics and biomedical engineering, but I was also interested in medicine.” Generally, the MD/ PhD curriculum is composed of two years of medical school, four years of classes and research for the PhD, followed by two years of clinical rotations. This curriculum can have many challenges associated with it. For Awasthi, the most difficult part was having to switch back and forth between medical classes and PhD work.
“For the first two years, I didn’t have to think about anything quantitative. When I started work for the PhD, it took me about a year and a half to re-familiarize myself with subjects I hadn’t studied since undergrad,” Awasthi said. As a PhD student, Awasthi’s research focused on harmonic generation frequency doubling of stem cells. The long-term vision of this type of research is to generate stem cells to create functioning heart cells. His study looked at finding an effective means of separating cardiomyocites from other stem
“MOST OF MY TIME IN THE LAB REQUIRED ME TO COME IN EARLY, [AND] WORK FOR ALMOST 24 HOURS.”
cells, as these would ultimately be implemented to create the heart cells. When asked to describe a typical day as a PhD student, Awasthi said, “It really varied. On some days, I would come in around 10AM, and then leave at 2PM after feeding my cells. Most of my time in the lab required me to come in early, work for almost 24 hours, and then sleep for 12 hours.” The first two years of the PhD program typically requires regular classes, readings, and experiments, and there is less of a focus on lab work. Awasthi is currently in the middle of his first year of clinical rotations and is planning on completing a residency in internal medicine or emergency medicine following medical school.
His eventual plan is to go into research in biophotonics and consider its applications to medicine. When asked about the main benefits Awasthi sees in having both an MD and a PhD, he said “The ability to communicate with both scientists and physicians, who are often on different pages, and being able to understand the medical relevance of research in science and engineering.” For students hoping to pursue an MD/ PhD, Awasthi said, “Focus on fundamental science classes in undergrad, and get good grades in them.” He also emphasized the importance of research, saying, “Get involved in a lab with a great mentor who is eager to guide you into the exciting field of scientific research.”
An Interview with Dr. Elina Baskina By ERIKA BARAL Writer Q: How did you become interested in becoming a pharmacist? a: In high school I wanted a career that was people-oriented and I was very interested in biology. Furthermore, I didn’t want to be a doctor because I wanted to have a family and being a doctor is very time consuming. I applied to USC and as an undergrad, I worked on the main campus pharmacy. This decision reinforced my love for being involved in pharmacy. Afterwards, I went to USC School of Pharmacy. Q: What do you love about your job? a: I love that everyday is different. You are presented with different questions, different problems, and different people. I really like the problem-solving aspect. It keeps me on my toes. Q: What is the greatest thing about being a pharmacist? a: I’m the one who brings patient and doctor together. The doctor diagnoses and prescribes, then we explain the treatments and make sure the patients are properly educated about their medication. We explain the composition of the medicine, what time to take the medicine, what to eat with the medicine, and the like.
Q: What advice can you give to pre-pharm students? a: I would strongly recommend to have some sort of a pharmacy experience. They should consider volunteering at a pharmacy or getting licensed as a pharmacy technician. Pharmacy school is a huge commitment and the last thing you want to do is to get into it and realize that you are not passionate about it. Q: Do pharmacists have to do residency? a: Currently it is not required. However, a lot of job positions will require a residency. The state doesn’t require it, but the profession is moving more towards requiring a residency. Residency is becoming more and more required because the job is becoming more clinical. To view full interview visit trojanhealthconnection.com
interviewee: Dr. Elina Baskina
TROJAN HEALTH CONNECTION | December 4, 2013
The Pre-Veterinary Path By ANNETTE EOM Funding Manager Despite the various pre-health programs and pre-health majors available, USC currently does not offer a pre-veterinary program or an animal science major. However, there are still many students on the pre-veterinary track who wish to pursue their dreams of becoming veterinarians. On top of the required pre-health courses, most veterinary schools strongly recommend various other electives such as microbiology, animal nutrition, psychology, sociology, public speaking, and statistics. A full list of prerequisite classes for each accredited school is available on the Veterinary Medical College Application Service (VMCAS) website. For the pre-veterinary track, the official test of admission is the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE), which is the universal standardized test for graduate schools. The Veterinary College Admission Test (VCAT) is also available, but most applicants decide to take the GRE instead. The typical timeline for pre-veterinary students is to take the GRE on or before
September of their application year. The VMCAS applications are due in October and interview invitations are sent out starting in December. Francine Liang, a current senior double majoring in Biological Sciences and East Asian Language and Culture, stressed the importance of the hands-on veterinary experience before applying to veterinary schools. Liang said, “Every veterinary school expects that you have done a lot of work under a veterinarian.” Tricia Nguyen, a current junior majoring in Biological Sciences, states that prospective applicants that apply to UC Davis have an average of 3000-5000 hours of veterinary experience, and the average age of applicants is 27. Besides a love of animals, there is more to why pre-veterinary students choose this track. “I have always felt that helping others is a destiny of mine, and to be able to help both humans and animals would be such a rewarding career. I feel that we have a unique connection and understanding with our animal best friends that you wouldn’t get from anybody or anything else,” said Nguyen. To view full article visit trojanhealthconnection.com
Applications of Occupational Science By MAGGIE KING Writer Imagine being caught in an unexpected and unfortunate accident that leaves you paralyzed from the waist down. How would you cope? How can you adjust to an inability or lessened ability to complete daily activities? The answer lies in occupational therapy (OT). Occupational therapists help patients with physical or mental conditions recover functions necessary for daily living by addressing their clients’ goals and interests. Common conditions that OT focuses on include autism, depression, or spinal cord injuries. The interventions typically emphasize modifying tasks, teaching skills, and adapting environments so that clients and their families can get the most out of daily activities. This profession would not exist without the science that drives it: occupational science (OS). OS is the study of occupation—the way time is spent—and its effects on health and wellbeing. It provides evidence-based research to advance and support OT philosophies; without OS, there would be no foundation for OT as a profession. One example of the scientific research being conducted is the USC Pressure Ulcer Prevention Study (PUPS). The
project is a five-year study funded by the National Institutes of Health and involves researchers from the USC Division of OS and OT and from Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center. Together, nurses, occupational therapists, and USC students study the daily lives of people with spinal cord injuries and how they develop, deal, and prevent pressure ulcers, a debilitating and costly medical complication. PUPS is designed to reduce the incidence of pressure ulcers and strengthen the patient’s knowledge of ulcer prevention, involving long-term adherence to medical regi-
entrance to PUPS research center at USC OT School
mens, social support, and self-efficacy. The ultimate objective of this study is to effectively distinguish an intervention option that can enhance the health and life quality of adults with spinal cord injuries while decreasing the healthcare burden of pressure ulcers. Jeanine Blanchard, the study coordinator, said “The clinical trial is testing the effectiveness and cost effectiveness of intervention, which is believed to be helpful in preventing and healing pressure ulcers. We want to alter habits and circumstances in order to prevent pressure ulcers more effectively. [PUPS] is important because it is currently costly for the health care system to treat pressure ulcers.” In working with PUPS researchers, students have the opportunity to complete tasks ranging from data entry to requesting medical records from hospitals. Students may also help develop papers intended for publication, organize field nurse interviews, and update the PUPS database with new images. These experiences allow students to gain insight into healthcare and occupational science research. For more information on current research being conducted by USC Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, visit ot.usc.edu/research.
Sink Your Teeth into Dental Specialties By FAHAD MANZUR Writer A career in dentistry can be much more than just filling cavities and cleaning teeth. The world of dentistry offers a wide variety of advanced graduate programs and specializations. Specialists require field specific training in a residency or an advanced degree in order to practice. OrthOdOntics: Orthodontics was the first and is still the most recognized specialization in the dental field. Orthodontists deal with malocclusions (improper bites) as a result of teeth and jaw irregularity. Orthodontic treatment usually involves using braces and retainers to fix crooked teeth. Some more comprehensive orthodontic treatments involve devices necessary for jaw expansion. Orthodontic programs are generally very competitive and involve at least 2-4 years of post graduate training. In order to become a certified orthodontist in the United States, a doctor must pass American Board of Orthodontics (ABO) examinations and present six orthodontics cases to be evaluated by the ABO. Pediatric dentistry: Pediatric dentists specialize in treating young children from birth and help treat children’s tooth decay. They also provide a resource for new parents to maintain their children’s oral health and provide information on thumb and pacifier habits. endOdOntics: Endodontists are most commonly referred to for root canal surgery. Endodontic specialists
practice on the center of the tooth, which is made up of connective tissues. When the center of the tooth becomes diseased, endodontists must perform root canal therapy, to save the tooth. In addition to endodontic therapy, they also treat severe dental trauma and cracked teeth. To become an endodontist, a dentist must have at least 2 years of postgraduate training in endodontic practices.
Certain oral surgeons also work with treating and removing pathology like cysts and tumors. The path to becoming an oral surgeon involves up to 6 years of residency training after dental school and is among the most competitive programs to get into in the medical field.
PeriOdOntOlOgy: Periodontists work with dental implants and specialize in work around the periodontium. When complex bacteria accumulates, it can cause periodontal diseases, deteriorating the structures of the teeth. This can lead to tooth decay and even alveolar bone loss. To become a periodontist, a doctor must undergo at least three years of postgraduate training and learn how to prevent, diagnose, and treat periodontal diseases and other oral pathology.
PrOsthOdOntics: Prosthodontics, or prosthetic dentistry, deals with the treatment, rehabilitation, and maintenance of oral function in patients with missing teeth. Prosthetic dentists work with dentures, bridges, and restorative implants to treat pathology leading to tooth loss. Because their work is involves periodontic and maxillofacial knowledge, prosthetic dentists are sometimes referred to as “bulletproof dentists.” Prosthetic dentistry requires three years of clinical training after acquiring a dental degree and involves passing a four-part examination by the American Board of Prosthodontics.
Oral and MaxillOfacial surgery: Oral and maxillofacial specialists perform surgery on the craniomaxillofacial complex, which includes the mouth, jaws, face, and skull. Because of the broad jurisdiction oral and maxillofacial surgeons have, they can choose a variety of surgical procedures to specialize in. Some of the common practices involve dentoalveolar surgery, which deals with complex teeth extractions and bone grafting surgery to accommodate oral prosthetics like braces, implants and dentures. Oral surgeons can also choose to work in cosmetic facial surgery to reconstruct face and jaw structures such as cleft lip and palate surgery.
dental specialties go far beyond routine cleanings
December 4, 2013 | TROJAN HEALTH CONNECTION
A Student’s Guide to Finding Research By LU TIAN Writer Research is a crucial component of the undergraduate experience. It provides the opportunity to become more engaged in your field and to interact with faculty members. However, getting started in a research laboratory can be difficult. Here are some tips: Determine your interests USC has a myriad of ongoing research of many different fields. Each field has its own charm. Identify the field(s) you want to explore. “Don’t limit yourself to just your major. Go outside the box. You can do research in whatever
subject you like,” said Sarah Silliman, part of the Undergraduate Research Consortium. Read up on your research After identifying your area of interest, read the papers that your target groups/professors have published. It is likely that you won’t understand everything in the papers. However, if you make an effort to learn a few buzzwords and to try to get a general sense of the goals that the professors are trying to accomplish, you will increase your attractiveness as a potential candidate. Interact with target professors Chemistry professor Travis
Williams advises students to try dropping by a professor’s office if possible. “I want to be able to see that my group is a good fit for the student’s long-term career goals. If it’s not, it’s unlikely that the student will be productive,” said Williams.
usc associate professor Travis Williams offers suggestions to students.
So whether it’s meeting the professor in person or via email, show genuine interest and be able to convey why you want to do research in their lab. Be patient Professors are quite busy, so don’t get discouraged if you didn’t get an immediate response. There are many factors which go into whether you are given the position or not, many of which are out of your hands. Often, professors already have a number of students working for them, and there is a limit on the amount of funding they get for student assistants. If money is an issue, consider volunteering until additional funds are available.
Funding A wide variety of funding, such as Student Opportunities for Academic Research (SOAR), Summer Undergraduate Research Fund (SURF), and the Provost Undergraduate Research Fellowship, are available to students. Most of them have deadlines in the beginning of the semester. A more comprehensive list is available at undergrad.usc.edu/ research/ under the heading Fellowships and Funding. There are many more ways that you can become involved in research. Whatever methods you choose, try your best, work hard and hope that you will get into a research lab that enables you to learn and grow.
Dornsife Expands Science Program with New Majors By EMILY HE Advertising Manager USC Dornsife recently created three new natural science majors: Computational Neuroscience, Environmental Science and Health and Human Biology. Johnathan Kuhn, the Assistant Director of USC Dornsife Office of Admission, said, “These majors will allow students to get an interdisciplinary education while working towards one degree, which gives them both a more well-rounded understanding of the subject and frees up space to fit in a minor or a second major.”
These new science majors were created in response to the increasing student demand. “Computational Neuroscience delves deeper into mathematics and how those concepts relate to the nervous system and its functions,” said Kuhn. He added, “Environmental Science and Health looks at the interplay between those two areas, how a development or problem in one can have a direct effect on the other.” The new Environmental Science and Health major is not to be confused with Environmental Studies, which focuses on the policies regarding issues that affect
the environment. The Human Biology major was created to replace the old Kinesiology major. Kuhn said, “Human Biology allows students lots of flexibility to study areas such as anatomy, metabolism, and evolution. Those pursuing a BS degree can take classes in physics and math, for example.” “The BA degree allows students to take anthropology and kinesiology courses in addition to their other science requirements. Because Human Biology encompasses so many areas, it made sense to incorporate the Kinesiology major into it,” he added.
These new additions are intended to provide students with a greater diversity of majors. Kuhn said, “We will be able to attract students who know they want to attend medical school but would like to study something besides Biological Sciences or Chemistry.” Dornsife also took into account the changes to the MCAT in 2015 when creating these majors. “With the new MCAT, pre-med students are going to have more requirements,” said Kuhn. He added, “Since these majors already include most of the courses that will now be required for
pre-med students, they can study unique subjects while completing their requirements.”
COURTESY BOSTON UNIVERSITY
computational Neuroscience is one of three new majors.
Directed Research: Going
USC Offers EMT
By DALTON BANH Writer
By HAE LIN LEE Writer
Research experience is becoming a more common extra-curricular activity among medical school applicants today. At USC, many pre-health students work under faculty members as research assistants, many of whom volunteer their time for free. However, did you know that you could also obtain course credit for your research at USC? 490x, or Directed Research, is a research course that is available in almost every department at USC. Depending on the amount of hours per week they are willing to commit, students can receive from 2 to 8 units of credit for an original research project that is developed between the student and a faculty advisor. Although the 490x project is faculty-supervised, it is supposed to be student-proposed and students are expected to formally demonstrate their knowledge of their research topic at the end of the semester in order to receive credit. Many students choose to write a comprehensive report on their 490x project that documents and explains their contribution to the field. Students may also present their research at a conference, such as USC’s “Undergraduate
Symposium for Scholarly and Creative Work” that is held every spring to showcase student research. 490x is an excellent way to gain both research experience and an opportunity to interact closely with a faculty member. Many students end up receiving a strong
490x is an excellent way to gain both research experience and an opportunity to interact closely with a faculty member letter of recommendation from their research mentor after completing the 490x course. As pre-health students with busy schedules, it may be difficult to balance a volunteer research position on top of a full course load and extra-curricular activities. Some students find that a research course like 490x provides them with more time to work in the lab. Achyuth Sriram, a junior majoring in Neuroscience, plans on taking a 490x course next fall: “It would be really nice to have some time in my schedule set aside spe-
cifically for research.” Students currently working in a lab interested in completing a 490x should talk to their mentor early to complete all the required paperwork and plan ahead for the 490x project. Students looking for potential mentors willing to supervise a project should browse research profiles on departmental websites, or ask professors from previous classes if they have an opening in their research group. Every department has individual requirements, restrictions, and paperwork involved in their 490x course. For example, students taking BISC490x can receive up to 8 units of credit, but are only able to apply 4 of those units to satisfy their upper-division elective requirement. MEDS 490x, a course designed for the new minor in Health Care Studies, is a more structured research class where there are mandatory lecture sessions that focus on teaching students the basics and current approaches of biomedical research, as well as ethics and regulations. MEDS490x students are also expected to present their work at a poster session at the end of the semester on the Health Sciences Campus. For additional information on a specific 490x, students are advised to directly contact their department.
This winter, from Dec. 21 to Jan. 6, Emergency Medical Services of USC (EMSC) will host an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) course for students wanting to become EMT-certified. The program provides the basic knowledge and skills of working as an EMT, someone trained to quickly provide clinical help in emergent situations of injuries or accidents. The program, which takes place at the main campus, consists of twenty-one classroom sessions (160 total hours), approximately ranging seven hours for each session. These sessions consist of lectures that cover topics such as the human body, patient assessment,
and cardiovascular emergencies, along with Ambulance Operations and several skill days. The course ends with written and skill-based exams on the last day. The university provides all the necessary equipment at no additional cost for the students. Students who complete the course can work or volunteer as EMTs during sports events or apply to become a member of EMSC. There are no prerequisites for the course, so anyone with an interest for medical experience can apply. To participate in the EMSC Winter 2013 Course, students need to submit course enrollment documents along with a $200 deposit to USC Office of Campus Activities, USC Tutor Campus Center Room 330, ten days prior to the course. The total cost for the course $1163.00.
Emsc is the student-run EMT service offering the EMT course.
Avoiding Squirrels Like the Plague By RACHEL POLCYN Writer In mid-July, a squirrel captured in Angeles National Forest as part of routine public health surveillance tested positive for the bubonic plague, commonly known as the Black Death that killed 25 million people in the Middle Ages. This news of the plague has caused some to worry about the re-emergence of the disease. However, according to health officials we will not need to worry about dying from the plague anytime soon. What causes the plague? The Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that the plague is caused by the bacterium Yersina pestis and can affect humans and other mammals. Humans usually get the plague from flea bites or contact with infected animals. Symptoms of the plague include enlargement of the lymph glands near the flea bite, the rapid development of fever, and chills. According to public health officials, however, another plague outbreak is unlikely. L.A. County health officer Dr. Jonathan Fielding said, “It is important for the public to know that there have only been four cases of human plague in Los Angeles County since 1984, none of which were fatal.” The Center for Disease Control and Prevention report an average of 7 human plague cases in the U.S. each year. Antibiotics have proven effective in treating modern day plague victims with about a 90% survival rate. The Los Angeles County Health Department states that no humans have been infected from this incidence in the Los Angeles area. The plague is just one example of a disease that re-emerges over time. Tuberculosis, cholera, malaria, and polio are a few others that have gone through periods of re-emergence in the recent past. What is re-emergence and how can diseases reappear after so much time passes between outbreaks? According to the Robert H. Ebert Lecture on Academic Medicine and the Public Interest, an infectious disease is considered re-emerging if it was present for centuries or decades in the past and has reappeared in a different form or location. Re-emergence occurs when a disease is spread to a population because of changing environmental conditions, travel and commerce, or the breakdown of public health safety measures. The CDC report on plague facts and prevention methods states, “If you develop symptoms of plague, see a health care provider immediately.”
COURTESY CREATIVE COMMONS
CARRIER A flea infected by Yersina pestis. Humans can contract the plague from flea bites or through contact with infected animals.
TROJAN HEALTH CONNECTION | December 4, 2013
Smallpox Eradicated: What’s Next? By ALINE HESSE Editor
Though all diseases are potentially eradicable, there are a few important components that help to dramatically increase the The eradication of smallpox is consid- likelihood of success. A disease is a good ered one of the greatest achievements in the candidate for elimination if the following field of public health. Despite initial skepti- are true: humans are the only reservoirs cism following a failed attempt to eradicate of infection, low-cost diagnostic tools are malaria and little funding, the global effort available and both treatment and prevento eradicate smallpox was finally achieved tion methods are inexpensive and effective. Smallpox, confined to humans with in 1975. its distinctive skin manifestation and low-cost vaccine, perfectly satisfies these three conditions. The elimination of smallpox was a success considering not only its prevalence across the globe and legacy dating back 3500 years, but also its high mortality rate, estimated at 25-30% according to a lecture in October hosted by the USC Institute for Global Health. At the event, titled The Eradication of Smallpox and the Discovery of Pandora’s Box, Dr. D.A. Henderson, the epidemiologist who headed the smallpox eradication effort, explained just how important this COURTESY USC GLOBAL HEALTH global accomplishment truly was. thE ERADICAtOR Dr. D.A. Henderson delivers his lecture, The “This was one of Eradication of Smallpox and the Discovery of Pandora’s Box, at the most serious Aretsy audtiorium on the USC Health Sciences Campus.
pestilential diseases in history. Those who recovered from smallpox were scarred for life, and many a number were blind. In India, this was the leading cause of blindness even into the 20th century,” said Henderson. Now having successfully eradicated one disease, those in the public health field are seeking to end Guinea Worm and polio. Guinea Worm, a debilitating parasitic disease contracted by drinking contaminated water, seems particularly promising. The parasitic worm is visible under the skin’s surface, allowing for easy diagnosis; the treatment is free, simply involving removal of the worm by winding it around a stick; and humans are the only known reservoirs of infection. Additionally, the main preventative measure is to filter water through cloth to eliminate the worm’s insect vector, an easy and cost-free solution. Despite these facts, there are definite barriers that must be overcome. Due to the frequent need for disease eradication to be a global effort, there are several obstacles that can arise. Among these are economic, political and geographic complications. For example, in the case of Guinea Worm, initial efforts at eradication in Sudan were responsive. However, when the country entered a civil war, healthcare workers were denied access due to the violence. It was only 22 years later that the war ended and eradication efforts could be resumed. Although obstacles such as war can significantly affect global health efforts to eliminate disease, the eradication of smallpox demonstrates that these barriers can be overcome and success achieved. With low-cost diagnostic tools, treatments, and preventative measures, in addition to human-only reservoirs of infection, a disease has great potential for eradication. It simply takes a determined set of individuals with the proper funding and global cooperation to create world-wide changes in health.
Chagas: A New Killer in America? By SAYULI BHIDE Writer Labeled “the new AIDS of America” by the journal PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, Chagas disease is a potentially fatal parasitic infection that is estimated to affect about 7-8 million people worldwide, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Since its discovery, it has been most commonly endemic only in developing areas of Latin America and is considered a neglected parasitic infection (NPI) by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The disease, also known as American trypanosomiasis or the “kissing bug disease,” was discovered in 1909 and is caused by the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi. It is usually transmitted to humans through the bite of Triatomine bugs, according to the WHO. These “kissing bugs” deposit feces at the site of their bite, allowing Trypomastigotes in the feces to enter host cells, multiply, and then release into the bloodstream. The infection can progress through three main stages. During the first phase (acute phase), a range of symptoms such as skin inflammation, fever, and nausea may be observed. Patients may also exhibit Romaña’s sign, or eyelid swelling, according to Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD. The next phase (indeterminate phase) is generally an asymptomatic phase. Unlike the other two phases, very few parasites are found in the host’s blood during this phase. The last phase (chronic phase) does not occur in all people infected by Chagas. During this stage, most of the parasites are located in the heart and digestive muscle rather than the blood. According to the WHO, about 30% of people with Chagas will experience serious health problems including heart problems, which may lead to death.
A SPREADING KILLER Incidence of Triatomine bugs by state in the U.S. Although the disease has historically existed maily within Mexico, Central America, and South America, it is no longer a problem that the United States can ignore. After the first recorded human case in Louisiana was found in 2006, a growing number of cases have been observed each year in the United States, according to the CDC. It can be spread between people through blood transfusions, organ transplants, and vertical transmission from a mother to her baby. However, there is currently no vaccine to prevent the disease and even after infection, it can be difficult to diagnose. A significant problem is the fact that the parasites can most easily be viewed only during the acute phase, during which they are circulating in the bloodstream. Treatments for Chagas disease need to be administered quickly after infection in order to be the most effective, but in the U.S.,
treatment is currently only offered through the CDC. Additionally, the treatment can take 2 months to complete and can lead to adverse effects in about 40% of patients, according to the WHO. The best ways to protect oneself from the spread of Chagas disease are having blood screenings, practicing good hygiene and using Synthetic pyrethroid sprays to keep triatome bugs away from homes and maintaining the cleanliness and structural upkeep of houses and buildings. If any symptoms of Chagas disease are observed, it is important to contact a medical professional immediately to diagnose and treat the disease as soon as possible. No longer a disease exclusive to Latin America, Chagas disease presents health care providers in several countries with new challenges concerning how best to prevent, diagnose and treat this tropical disease before it can lead to an endemic.
December 4, 2013 | TROJAN HEALTH CONNECTION
LA County air pollution and its effect on student health By JOHN TANAKA Associate Editor
The World Health Organization’s recent designation of air pollution as the leading environmental cause of cancer has brought attention to the detrimental effects environmental conditions can have on human health. For students at the University of Southern California, residing in Los Angeles comes hand in hand with exposure to large amounts of harmful air pollutants. “I would say its definitely a concern because USC is sitting right between the I-10 and I-110 freeways, and you students are exposed to a lot of pollutants because of that,” said Dr. Lisa Collins, a professor in the Environmental Sciences department at USC. The exact composition of air pollution varies between days and locations. However, the main air pollutants are greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide and methane, atmospheric aerosols, and persistent organic pollutants. The most harmful of these are the atmospheric aerosols and ozone, both of which are known to increase the risk of death in humans. Although the long-term effects of air pollution have not yet been determined with respect to USC students, Collins does believe that a relationship exists between air pollution levels and the overall health of the student body. She acknowledges that, “some students will spend a semester at Catalina and they’ll come back and realize that their skin has cleared up because they weren’t in all the pollution.” However, the overall lack of a defined relationship has led to much speculation on the effects that spending four years in Los Angeles actually has on students. Ed Avol, a professor at the Keck School of Medicine, sees air pollution as just one of a multitude of environmental problems that can detrimentally affect the lives of
LA COUNTY AIR POLLUTION
THEN & NOW
1975 State Standard
1-HR MAX OZONE CONC. = .09 ppm
DAYS EXCEEDED STANDARD
1-HR MAX OZONE CONC. = .12 ppm
COUNTY University of Southern California
DAYS EXCEEDED STANDARD
DAYS EXCEEDED STANDARD
students in Los Angeles. “I don’t know if we can say that exposure here is going to be any different from exposure received at other campuses,” says Avol. However, he does acknowledge that the large amount of motor vehicles in Los Angeles and the pollutants they produce are detrimental to the health of USC students. Both Collins and Avol agree that there are many ways that one can combat the effects of these air pollutants. “There are lots of things you can do about air pollution,” says Avol, “You can make personal choices about the cars you use, when you play, whether you encourage the kinds of policy choices that lead to higher or lower pollution, all of these things affect air quality on smaller and larger scales and obviously can affect your health.” Additionally, both agree that one of the best ways to minimize the effects of harmful air pollutants is by being aware of the relative levels of pollutants during daily ac-
DAYS EXCEEDED STANDARD
Data provided by California Air Resources Board
INFOGRAPHIC BY JUSTIN JOOHWAN PARK
tivities. “Running along Figueroa at rush hour may not be the best idea, but choices about where and when you exercise can affect your exposure,” says Avol. It is at these times that traffic levels, and subsequently the level of pollutants in the air, are at their highest. “ You’re better off getting up at 6 when the air is much cleaner and has less pollutants to run than at rush hour,” agreed Collins. Even though the true effects of air pollution on the student body are not yet known, no reasons exist at this time to view it as a substantial health problem at USC. In fact, “Air quality in Los Angeles has drastically improved over the last few decades,” says Avol, even though this may not seem like the case. Until a definite relationship between the effects of air pollution and the health of students is determined, there is no pressing need for lifestyle changes amongst the USC student population.
Volunteering at LAC+USC Emergency Medicine BY MEHUL TRIVEDI Associate Editor The LAC+USC Hospital has the distinction of having the country’s first official Department of Emergency Medicine, and USC students have the opportunity to volunteer there and see one of the country’s biggest and busiest trauma centers. The DEM was formed in 1971 as a result of an increased number of emergency room visits across the country’s largest county. With that, it became the first department dedicated to Emergency Medicine. Today, the department sees about 500 patients a day, according to its website, and has spent over a billion dollars updating its facilities. Through the DEM’s Adult Volunteer program, students with an interest in health care have the opportunity to volunteer for a minimum of 200 hours, or for about one year. Students who are part of this program can see first-hand the inner workings of an emergency room. “The perks are being able to watch almost any procedures,” said senior Julia Yang. “Doctors and PAs are willing to teach for the most part.” Applicants to the DEM Volunteer program must fill out an application that can be found on the LAC+USC website and then schedule an interview before being selected. Once in the program, volunteers must sign up for a four hour shift, where their responsibilities can range anywhere from changing hospital beds and re-
stocking supplies to assisting doctors and nurses on their clinical rounds. In addition to the DEM’s volunteer program, students part of Trojan Health Volunteers, a branch of the Joint Educational Program here at USC, are given the opportunity to volunteer at various hospitals around the county, one of which is the DEM. “We get to switch between a couple of different hospitals in the area,” said sophomore and THV participant Jennifer Bailey. “But by far my personal favorite is the department of Emergency Medicine”. Volunteering at the DEM can serve as an introduction to the harsh realities of medicine that come with volunteering in one of the nation’s largest and busiest emergency rooms. Students claim to have seen people come in after gunshot wounds, car crashes and motorcycle accidents. “In the interview, they wanted to make sure we were comfortable with things like blood,” said current LAC DEM volunteer Trosdamad Missaelian. COURTESY KECK SCHOOL OF MEDICINE Despite the possibility of seeing serious traumas, students who have volunteered at the LAC DEM in the past have largely enjoyed their experience, recommending it to anyone with an interest in the medical field. “I love my shift, and I’ve really enjoyed my experience as a volunteer at this hospital,” said junior Sunitha Bopardi. The LAC USC hospital’s DEM volunteer program can be seen as offering students access and insight into one of the grittier sides of medicine. For more info, visit www.lacusc.org/services/volunteer.
USC joins forces with Verdugo Hills By LYNN BENJAUTHRIT Writer On July 16, a historic union was born when a deal was closed between two leaders in healthcare: Verdugo Hills Hospital and the USC Keck School of Medicine. By combining the broad resources of a prominent academic institution and the immediate access to quality care provided by a community hospital, USC Verdugo Hills Hospital promises to provide a new level of medical care for the community. At one end is USC, a long-standing university known for its ambitious academic and research-oriented endeavors. The Keck School of Medicine represents USC’s bold initiative to bolster its medical enterprise by attaining a physician group, several clinics, and now three hospitals and counting. On the other end is the former Verdugo Hills Hospital, which built a reputation just as respected as USC’s, albeit in a different neighborhood. With a history stretching back to 1947, VHH has faithfully provided top-notch care to the Foothill communities by hiring respected physicians and maintaining advanced facilities. “It’s a great thing for the community and for both hospitals. Rarely is there a winwin situation because usually the smaller one feels like it’s been swallowed,” said Dr. Armand Dorian, Assistant Chief of Development at USC Verdugo Hills Hospital. In this case, both parties benefited greatly from the partnership. “USC Keck private hospital now has an
It’s a great thing for the community and for both hospitals... it’s a big, big necessity for Keck. Dr. Armand Dorian ASST. CHIEF OF DEVELOPMENT
emergency department, which is a very important way of reaching patients so it’s a big, big necessity for Keck,” said Dorian. With the convenience and comfort of a community hospital, Keck is now able to have a greater impact on the locals in the Glendale and Pasadena areas. For USC Verdugo Hills Hospital, its faculty and their patients receive access to physicians in subspecialties who are highly skilled experts along with access to the latest technology in healthcare. In addition, the hospital also receives financial stability during a time of health care upheaval. “Initially, people worried about losing their community hospital. Now we’ve only gotten positive comments from the community,” said Dorian. In addition to connecting with the Trojan Family through patients (many Foothill residents graduated from USC), USC and VHH also collaborated on implementing a stroke program. “With strokes, you have a very small window to give medication. If patients are far away from Keck or Cedars or any big hospitals, they might miss out on important medication and so Verdugo took care of that. After they gave the medication you needed, the technology that smaller hospitals didn’t have was provided by the neurology department at Keck,” said Dorian. Now, with plans to expand the emergency department and build a neonatal ICU at USC Verdugo Hills Hospital, both USC and the Foothill community have much to look forward to. The growth and development of the hospital will ensure that the main goal of both sides is accomplished: to provide quality care to all patients.
December 4, 2013 | TROJAN HEALTH CONNECTION
Spotlight on Medical Schools
Keck at a Glance Class Size: 186
Average MCAT at admission: 34
Average GPA at admission: 3.41-3.94 Average Science GPA: 3.27-3.97
University of Southern California: 43 (23%) University of California, Los Angeles: 21 (11%) University of California, Berkeley: 14 (8%) University of California, San Diego: 8 (4%) University of California, Davis: 7 (3.8%)
Harvard University: 6 (3%) Duke University: 5 (2.7%) Stanford University: 4 (2%) Brown University: 3 (1.6%) Columbia University: 3 (1.6%)
Average Age at Admission: 24 age 21 or less: 7 (3.8%)
age 24-25: 47 (25%)
age 22: 55 (29.6%)
age 26-29: 29 (16 %)
age 23: 43 (23%)
Taking a Closer Look at Keck School of Medicine By ALISON YU PR Manager Overview
Established in 1885, Keck School of Medicine is a highly-ranked medical school and the oldest in Southern California. It is home to more than 1,500 fulltime faculty, 27 research-oriented academic programs and 1,200 students. Located east of downtown Los Angeles on USC’s Health Sciences Campus, Keck is dedicated to serving the people of Southern California. The curriculum at Keck emphasizes optimal patient care. During the Year I-II Continuum (the first two years of medical school), students take courses in subjects that include the Foundations of Medical Science, Hematology, Cardio, Renal, Respiratory, Reproductive and GI/Liver. Keck is among the first medical schools to adopt the Introduction to Clinical Medicine courses for
the first-year students, immersing them in patient care activities from the start of medical school. Electives in the first two years include Medical Spanish and Professionalism and the Practice of Medicine (PPM). Keck follows a pass/fail system for these courses and does not award letter grades. During the clinical experiences of the Year III-IV Continuum (the last two years), students can choose to complete their clerkships at various sites, such as LAC+USC, Keck Hospital, Norris Cancer Center and CHLA. At these sites, students rotate through the specialties of Family Medicine, Surgery, Ob/Gyn, Pediatrics, Neurology and more. Keck also requires every student to complete an independent research project. All degree candidates are required to take Step I of the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) prior to entering the junior/senior continuum. Stu-
dents must then pass Step II of the USMLE by the December of their senior year. Students can also pursue a fifth year research option to engage in research of their interests with a faculty mentor.
Dual Degree Programs
Additionally, Keck offers a variety of joint-degree programs, including MD/MS Physician-Scientist, MD/ MBA, MD/MPH, MD/MS in Clinical and Biomedical Investigation, MD/MS in Global Medicine, MD/Masters of Health Care Administration and MD/PhD. The MD/PhD program is a joint program between USC and CalTech, geared towards students interested in medicine as well as biomedical research.
In 2013, 157 students of the graduating class participated in
the National Resident Matching Program. Emergency medicine and internal medicine had the highest number of matches, with 28 in each. Radiology, obstetrics/ gynecology, and orthopaedic surgery had 11 matches each. 103 students were matched in residency programs in California, 46 of which were at LAC+USC Medical Center. All other students matched in programs in 20 states and the District of Columbia. Of these students, the highest number matched in programs in New York.
Affiliation with LAC+USC
Keck is well-known for its direct affiliation with LAC+USC Medical Center, which has existed since 1885. It is one of the largest public hospitals and medical teaching hospitals in the country,
Students Share Their Thoughts AJ KATZ, second year "Keck is set apart from other schools through its commitments to student success and student life. Keck has dedicated academic and social space for medical students including 24-hour access home rooms with private desks for each student. Not only do these spaces make excellent study spots, but they are equipped with refrigerators, microwaves, projectors and whiteboards. In the same vicinity is a pool table and television. But Keck offers more to its students than just facility resources, Keck goes the extra mile to ensure students’ only concern is academic and social success. For example, all notes from every lecturer are printed and compiled and placed in each student's mailbox the Friday before the week begins. Also, on every exam breakfast is provided for us. Beyond this, Keck students have amazing opportunities not available at other medical schools. The most prominent being access to LAC+USC Hospital. First-year students can be in the hospital providing actual care as early as the third week of school. "
KATHERINE FU, first year
"While interviewing at various other medical schools, I realized that Keck was unique in that the school provides numerous opportunities for patient interaction during the first two preclinical years. At many other medical schools, the extent of their clinical experiences are limited to standardized patient workshops and their student run clinics, both of which we have. In addition to that, however, we also interview patients at LA County almost every week, which is a huge advantage. There are so many opportunities for clinical exposure at Keck, and that is why previous medical students have told me that Keck students are that much more prepared for their clinical years. Now I really know that it's true and can appreciate it so much more now that I'm at Keck."
and sees nearly 39,000 inpatients, 590,000 emergency patients and one million ambulatory patient visits each year. It is also the largest provider of healthcare in Los Angeles County, and is notable for treating the area’s underserved population. Furthermore, as a Level I trauma center, the LAC+USC emergency department serves 28 percent of the region’s trauma victims.
Keck invites all applicants to complete its secondary application once they have submitted the primary application through the AMCAS. The secondary application and its application fee of $90 are due by November 1. For the entering class of 2013, Keck School of Medicine received a total of 7,335 completed applications for a class of 184 students. The average GPA of the incoming class was 3.64 with an average MCAT score of 34.1.
USC Trojan Health Connection's Fall 2013 Issue. Our latest publication is now available to read on ISSUU or at www.trojanhealthconnection.co...