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Home | Tag Archives: Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso (TTUHSC El Paso)

Tag Archives: Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso (TTUHSC El Paso)

New TTUHSC El Paso Degree Positions Nurses for Leadership Roles

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) has approved a Master of Science in Nursing (M.S.N.) at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso (TTUHSC El Paso). The degree will prepare nurses for positions in management and administration in the health care field.

The seven-semester program will be offered by the Gayle Greve Hunt School of Nursing (GGHSON) and is set to begin in spring 2018. The part-time program will provide students a unique combination of online courses with on-campus intensive experiences. This differs from a similar M.S.N. at The University of Texas at El Paso that is in a completely online format.

“Traditional on-campus programs may be difficult for working nurses and while entirely online programs are flexible, they are not always effective in fully engaging students,” says Penny Cooper, D.N.P., R.N., assistant dean for graduate programs at the  GGHSON. “That’s why we’re going to offer a hybrid of the two formats, giving students the opportunity to experience and benefit from both learning environments.”

The program, which focuses on producing the nursing leaders of the future, was developed in response toseveral national reports, including the 2010 report issued by the Institute of Medicine (IOM). The reportemphasized the importance of nurses being full partners alongside physicians and other health careprofessionals, encouraging nurses to achieve higher levels of education.

To help achieve this national goal, the M.S.N. program will include leadership-focused courses to learn about business, finance, and policy, among others. This knowledge will ultimately prepare graduates to become decision-makers who can influence health care delivery in complex health care systems.

The degree will also provide unique interdisciplinary experiences not found anywhere else in the Paso del Norte region. Nursing students will learn from faculties of the nursing, medical and biomedical science schools. This inter-professional approach will prepare students to communicate effectively with a variety of professionals in future health care settings — an opportunity that can only be provided at a health sciences center.

“The GGHSON is the only school of nursing on the U.S.-Mexico border that resides in an academic health sciences center,” explains GGHSON Dean Jeanne Novotny, Ph.D., R.N., FAAN. “That means we provide our graduate students with a unique environment in which to study, and a framework for our graduates to be valuable contributors to any community or health care system, no matter where they decide to practice.”

Successful completion of the M.S.N. degree will lead to professional growth and employment opportunities. Graduates may seek positions such as charge nurse, manager, administrator, or chief nursing officer (CNO).

The degree was officially approved by the THECB April 20.

TTUHSC El Paso Receives $1.5 Million to Prevent Cervical Cancer in West Texas

Navkiran Shokar, M.A., M.P.H, M.D., has received nearly $1.5 million from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) to reduce the burden of cervical cancer in West Texas.

“Hispanic women in our region have a 30 percent higher risk of dying from cervical cancer,” says Dr. Shokar, a physician and professor at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso (TTUHSC El Paso). “They also have a higher incidence of cervical cancer and are typically diagnosed at later stages.”

De Casa en Casa’s reach is possible thanks to a community-wide partnership that consists of over 150 organizations, including TTUHSC El Paso, the West Texas Area Health Education Center (AHEC), the Texas Department of State Health Services, and multiple food pantries and community centers across the region. Photo by Tommie Morelos / TTUHSC El Paso.
De Casa en Casa’s reach is possible thanks to a community-wide partnership that consists of over 150 organizations. Photo by Tommie Morelos / TTUHSC El Paso.

Dr. Shokar will use the grant to expand De Casa en Casa, a program that helps uninsured or underinsured Latinas access free cervical cancer screenings, or pap smears. Since its establishment in 2013, De Casa En Casa has provided more than 1,500 pap smears to women in El Paso and Hudspeth Counties.

The new CPRIT funds will help the program expand its service area to 105 additional rural U.S.-Mexico border counties in Texas, stretching from as far away as Big Bend country to the Panhandle plains. Cervical cancer test rates in the region lag far behind the national average of 82 percent; only 63 to 71 percent of qualifying residents in these counties have been screened.

“This area we’ve targeted has a population of about 2.8 million,” says Dr. Shokar. “The region has high rates of poverty, low education, and low rates of health care coverage — making it the ideal location for health education and free diagnostic screenings to save more lives.”

Dr. Shokar and her team will begin the effort by organizing a convoy to visit a 19-county area between now and December. The TTUHSC El Paso team will offer cervical cancer prevention education, including a bilingual educational video, and free cervical cancer screenings to

Dr. Shokar will use the grant to expand De Casa en Casa, a program that helps uninsured or underinsured Latinas access free cervical cancer screenings, or pap smears. Photo by Tommie Morelos / TTUHSC El Paso
Dr. Shokar will use the grant to expand De Casa en Casa, a program that helps uninsured or underinsured Latinas access free cervical cancer screenings, or pap smears. Photo by Tommie Morelos / TTUHSC El Paso

qualifying residents. During the visit, the team will also provide training for local nurses and community health workers to increase awareness of cervical cancer, its symptoms, and common barriers that women in these communities face to get access to cancer screening and care.

Dr. Shokar’s ultimate goal is not only to have more women screened, but also to educate Hispanics about the importance of regular pap smears for early diagnosis — when cervical cancer is most curable — and thus, saving more lives.

De Casa en Casa’s reach is possible thanks to a community-wide partnership that consists of over 150 organizations, including TTUHSC El Paso, the West Texas Area Health Education Center (AHEC), the Texas Department of State Health Services, and multiple food pantries and community centers across the region.

This is Dr. Shokar’s fifth award from CPRIT as a principal investigator. Her grants have brought nearly $8 million to the El Paso community for cancer prevention and early detection services.

Video – Tech Talk: A Look Inside the Newest Hospital in the Sun City

In this week’s Tech Talk, Veronique Masterson gives you a look inside the newest hospital in the Sun City: The Hospitals of Providence Transmountain Campus.

A collaboration between Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso and The Hospitals of Providence, the new facility is set to open this spring.

Clip courtesy Chris Espinosa/TTUHSC El Paso.
Clip courtesy Chris Espinosa/TTUHSC El Paso.

Sunday 5K Race to Benefit Community Health Clinic

Medical students from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso (TTUHSC El Paso) will host the third annual Sprint for Sparks 5K run/walk Sunday, October 2 to benefit the Sparks student-run health clinic.

Since its opening in 2013, the Medical Student Run Clinic has provided an ever-expanding array of essential medical services to the underserved Sparks community in east El Paso.

Services include lab diagnostics, women’s health screenings and vaccines. The clinic is open twice a month, and run entirely by students from TTUHSC El Paso’s Paul L. Foster School of Medicine under the guidance of volunteer physicians — also from TTUHSC El Paso.

Sprint for Sparks will take place along Scenic Drive. Participants will gather at Newman Park prior to the race, which starts at 8 a.m. The entry fee is $20 per individual registrant and $15 per registrant for groups of 10 or more.

The first 150 people to sign up will receive a Sprint for Sparks T-shirt. Participants can register at: http://tinyurl.com/SprintForSparks-15.

What: Sprint for Sparks 5K Run/Walk

When: 8 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 2, 2016

Where: Scenic Drive at Newman Park (2211 Alabama Street)

Sprint_For_Sparks_web

Study Finds Alzheimer’s Manifests Differently in Hispanics

Certain symptoms associated with the development of Alzheimer’s disease, including agitation and depression, affect Hispanics more frequently and severely than other ethnicities.

The findings, published in the Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience (JNCN), suggest that Alzheimer’s disease manifests itself differently in Hispanic populations.

“Our study shows that the severity and proportion of neuropsychiatric symptoms is significantly higher in a Hispanic group compared to non-Hispanic whites,” says lead researcher Ricardo Salazar, M.D., a geriatric psychiatrist at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso (TTUHSC El Paso).

Dr. Ricardo Salazar 1[1]He adds, “This could have a significant impact on the treatment and understanding of how Alzheimer’s disease progresses in Hispanics.”

Both cognitive and behavioral decline can occur with Alzheimer’s disease. Cognitive signs of the disease include memory loss and problems with orientation and physical functioning. Behavioral, or neuropsychiatric symptoms, include depression, elation, anxiety, hallucinations, delusions and apathy. These neuropsychiatric symptoms have been associated with higher rates of institutionalization and more rapid progression of the disease.

Curious to understand how neuropsychiatric symptoms manifest in Hispanics with dementia, Dr. Salazar and his team gathered data on more than 2,100 individuals in the Texas Alzheimer’s Research and Care Consortium (TARCC) database. Patients profiled in the database are predominantly non-Hispanic whites and Mexican-Americans who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or mild cognitive impairment (MCI), or are otherwise healthy subjects.

The team specifically focused on each individual’s Neuropsychiatric Inventory Questionnaire (NPI-Q), an exam used to assess the extent of 12 neuropsychiatric symptoms.

A review of the data showed that during MCI — the intermediate state between healthy cognition and Alzheimer’s disease — all ethnicities were affected equally by neuropsychiatric symptoms. But once the condition had progressed to full-on Alzheimer’s disease, the severity of neuropsychiatric symptoms in Hispanics increased significantly.

Dr. Salazar believes these divergent symptoms may reflect a different disease process in Hispanics.

“When patients have neuropsychiatric symptoms, that signifies deterioration of different areas of the brain,” he explains. “I believe functional imaging studies of the brain may show differences in the locations of amyloid or plaque collection in the brains of Hispanics with Alzheimer’s disease.”

The JNCN study also showed that depression and anxiety were more frequent in healthy Hispanics age 50 years and older than in healthy, non-Hispanic whites of the same age. This corroborates past studies suggesting that depression may be one of the first signs of Alzheimer’s disease.

“Hispanics tend to get Alzheimer’s disease at an earlier age than other [ethnic groups], and our study shows that these neuropsychiatric symptoms of depression and anxiety manifest earlier in them, too,” Dr. Salazar says. “This suggests that depression and anxiety in older Hispanics could be an early warning for Alzheimer’s disease—and that treatment of these symptoms could even delay the disease.”

As a geriatric psychiatrist in an overwhelmingly Hispanic region, Dr. Salazar has witnessed this phenomenon firsthand.

“I am a strong believer that if you use antidepressants to treat MCI that appears with symptoms of depression, you can slow the progression of Alzheimer’s,” he says. “Maybe even avoid full-on progression to the disease.”

Dr. Salazar implores physicians to be aware that depression can mask dementia, particularly in the Hispanic population.

Dr. Salazar admits the study has limitations. Ethnicity was self-reported by individuals, and there were also fewer Hispanic participants with Alzheimer’s disease than white participants with the disease.

While additional research is clearly needed, Dr. Salazar’s study could be a window to how to better treat — and even prevent — Alzheimer’s disease in this rapidly-growing demographic.

Behavioral_Alzheimer_s_Symptoms_in_Hispanics

Smart Helmet for Football Players May Help Detect Concussions

A smart helmet that can help diagnose concussions in football players is being developed by medical students at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso (TTUHSC El Paso).

“Concussions that go undiagnosed are a huge health problem, especially for football players,” says second-year TTUHSC El Paso medical student Derrick Oaxaca. “It is very common for athletes to remain in the game after experiencing concussion-like symptoms, receiving more impacts to the head — and that is when the brain becomes significantly damaged.”

Scientists don’t know the exact force that will unequivocally result in a concussion. But recent research shows that a combination of data from the blow can help doctors make a more accurate diagnosis. These impact measurements — rotational acceleration, linear force or acceleration, duration of impact and location of impact — will each be recorded by the helmet’s sensors to provide a full medical assessment.

TTUHSC El Paso, Space Race - OaxacaThis innovative technology has landed the entrepreneurs spots as semi-finalists in the Space Race, a international start-up competition hosted by NASA and the Center for Advancing Innovation (CAI).

 

Athletes who resume playing in a sporting event before fully healing after a concussion can experience permanent brain damage, and even death. This happens quite often; nearly one-third of athletes have sustained a concussion that went undiagnosed and risked further brain injury.

Using the smart helmet, the team hopes players of all ages will be taken off the field immediately after a hit, instead of continuing to participate while injured.

“Parents will be alerted, too,” Oaxaca explains. “Imagine a mom or dad receiving a smartphone notification that their child just received a blow to the head. They’re going to be concerned about safety and ensure their child receives proper medical attention.”

The goal is for the product to eventually be sold in athletic stores or directly to athletic programs, such as high school sports teams, under the name Minus Tau.

Tau is a protein that forms in the brain when someone experiences a concussion, or any form of brain damage. Today, many retired NFL football players who experienced repetitive head injuries during their careers suffer from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain condition tied to dementia, suicide and depression. Studies have shown high levels of tau in these players’ brains, prompting scientists to suspect that tau buildup is linked to increased risk of developing a brain disorder.

The team named the technology Minus Tau in an effort to raise awareness about the condition, and hopes to eventually minimize these cases. Oaxaca explains, “We want to prevent tau buildup in the brains of our athletes; we want to subtract it from the whole equation.”

Also on the team are second-year TTUHSC El Paso medical students Tyler Trevino, Justin Thomas and Sovanarak Lek, and Toriell Simon, an undergraduate business student at The University of Texas at El Paso. In the future, the students anticipate that the technology will also be applicable to military and motorcycle helmets.

In total, the Space Race challenge highlights 11 NASA technologies, which teams utilize to build a business plan and eventually pitch their idea to the challenge’s panel of judges. Phase 3 of the Space Race competition commences Friday, October 14, with the announcement of the finalists.

Winners of the third and final phase of the competition will incorporate a business, apply for a NASA license, raise up to $1.2 million in seed funding from venture capitalists, and officially launch a start-up with guidance from CAI.

$420,000 Grant to Help TTUHSC El Paso Identify Genes that Keep HIV Latent

One of the biggest challenges to discovering a cure for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is when the disease becomes dormant — hidden and inactive within the human body. Modern therapy can practically wipe out the virus, but stores of latent HIV soon become active and multiply all over again.

“We need to find a way to wipe out latent HIV in order to find a cure for this disease,” says Haoquan Wu, Ph.D., a biomedical scientist at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso (TTUHSC El Paso).

Wu recently received a two-year $420,000 grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases(NIAID) to study how HIV perseveres in humans. Wu’s hunch is that certain human genes play a role in the virus’ persistence.

To find out, Wu will conduct a genome-wide knockout screening that attempts to identify which human genes enable HIV to become latent. Wu and his team will specifically knock out, or deactivate, each gene in the human genome to identify which enable HIV’s dormancy.

“By deactivating one gene at a time, we hope to see — at some point — latent HIV reactivate,” Wu explains. “That will potentially mean that if we suppress this gene in humans with HIV, latent HIV will be reactivated.”

A drug that targets the specific gene, or group of genes, could then be developed to target the genes in humans, reactivating latent HIV reservoirs in the body. These could be then detected and eradicated.

The team plans to use CRISPR-Cas9, a technology that allows scientists to cut and deactivate genes, to conduct their work. Wu and a team of TTUHSC El Paso colleagues have conducted similar research in the past. In 2015, the researchers identified that certain human genes help West Nile virus (WNV) kill its host’s cells. This provided the first glimpse of how host factors can be hijacked by the virus to kill the host’s own cells.

Their findings were published in the journal Cell Reports.

Second Annual Hearts for Sparks Golf Classic set for Saturday

The Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso (TTUHSC El Paso) Paul L. Foster School of Medicine (PLFSOM) will hold its second annual Hearts for Sparks Golf Classic to benefit the Sparks Medical Student Run Clinic. So far, more than 40 players have signed up to participate.

Started in 2013 by PLFSOM medical students, the clinic operates every Thursday evening in the Sparks community. Located in far east El Paso county, Sparks is home to residents who lack health insurance and sometimes cannot afford a trip to a doctor; forty-three percent of its residents live below the U.S. poverty line, according to U.S. Census data.

The clinic provides free health screenings, triage services and vaccinations. Run entirely by students with faculty oversight, the clinic not only benefits the Sparks community, but gives students real-life opportunities to hone their medical and Spanish language skills.

Proceeds from the Hearts for Sparks Golf Classic event will go directly toward funding for the Sparks Medical Student Run Clinic. Participants will receive breakfast and lunch, unlimited range balls, a goodie bag, and 18 holes of golf, with cart.

What: Hearts for Sparks Golf Classic

When: 9 a.m. Saturday, August 13 (shotgun start)

Where: Butterfield Trail Golf Club (1858 Cottonwoods)

Hearts for Sparks

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