Doctor looking at tablet


Plants can be more valuable than gold

In the recent Medical Discovery News column, Drs. Norbert Herzog and David Niesel wrote about the re-discovery of an important medicinal and flavoring plant used in the ancient world called silphion. “Its history and re-discovery is an interesting story and reminds us of the value of natural products as new medicines.”

Your grandmother’s diet could affect your children’s health

Your grandmother’s diet could affect your children’s health The Galveston County Daily News, February 7, 2023 In Medical Discovery News, Drs. Norbert Herzog and David Niesel wrote about a study by Shelly Buffington at UTMB that discovered a high-fat diet can alter social behavior and promote neurodysfunction in descendants.

A nurse in black scrubs talks to a patient sitting behind a screen at an improvised dockside clinic

Docside Clinic brings primary care to underserved maritime community

University of Texas Medical Branch researcher Dr. Shannon Guillot-Wright was recently awarded a $660,000 grant from the Centers for Disease Control to fund a five-year research project to address health disparities for commercial fishermen.

A blast of ultrasound waves could rejuvenate aging cells

Low-frequency ultrasound appears to have rejuvenating effects on animals. As well as restarting cell division in aging human cells, it has reinvigorated old mice, improving their physical performance in tests such as running on a treadmill and making one old mouse with a hunched back move around normally again. “‘Is this too good to be true?’ is the question I often ask,” says Michael Sheetz at the University of Texas Medical Branch.

Clinical trial to test wearable device to treat chronic pain, opioid withdrawal

A multi-year clinical trial at the University of Texas Medical Branch and Medical University of South Carolina will examine the use of a wearable device thought to stimulate nerves near the ear to change signals in the brain as a treatment for chronic pain and opioid tapering. The opioid crisis has spawned untold deaths and chronic disabilities with a major impact on global health care,” said Dr. Kathryn Cunningham, a translational pharmacologist and director of UTMB’s Center for Addiction Research. Many other online news organizations and TV stations shared this news.

Can Texas lawmakers ban minors from social media?

House Bill 896 would ban minors from using social media. On this week's episode of Texas Wants to Know, host Baylee Friday asks if it is possible for lawmakers to ban all minors from social media. Dr. Jeff Temple, a professor and licensed psychologist at UTMB, was one of the guests on the podcast.

Scientists work to improve efficiency of embryo formation

Two recent reports in the journals Cell and Nature describe research that started with single cells and provided the right conditions to stimulate the cells to grow into embryos. Drs. Norbert Herzog and David Niesel explored the possibilities in their latest Medical Discovery News column.

What are benefits of weight training?

Research has shown that our muscle mass worsens as we age, wrote Dr. Samuel Mathis in his newspaper column. “This causes us to naturally weaken if we don’t actively work to maintain our muscle tone. By lifting heavy things, we help keep our muscle mass.”

So, exactly how worried should we be about the XBB.1.5 Variant? An infectious disease expert explains

The XBB variants are derived from the recombination of two strains of the BA.2 lineage of omicron (an earlier dominant strain), Dr. Vineet Menachery, assistant professor in the department of microbiology and immunology at the University of Texas Medical Branch, explains. Get ready for some scientific jargon: XBB.1.5 has many of the same spike mutations and immune evasion as other omicron strains, according to Dr. Menachery. However, a mutation at position 486 in XBB.1.5 spike is predicted to improve binding to the human ACE2 receptor and is thought to be driving XBB.1.5 emergence through increased transmission.

US inks $25 Million deal to fight Ebola with Moderna technology

Scientists at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, in partnership with Moderna, were awarded $13.5 million over three years to design, manufacture and test mRNA vaccines for Ebola. UTMB could receive an additional $11.1 million to study alternative ways of administering the vaccines. The contract is part of a broader push by the US to protect military personnel using technology that enabled the quick development of COVID-19 vaccines early in the pandemic. Many international and regional news organizations also reported this story.

What to know about the ‘most transmissible’ COVID-19 variant

Some experts worry XBB.1.5 could drive a surge in cases in the coming weeks. The speed of its increase is reminiscent of other variants that previously caused high numbers of cases, said Vineet Menachery, who studies coronaviruses at the University of Texas Medical Branch. “This seems like the next big wave,” he said. “I don’t know that it’ll be as big as previous waves, but I do think we’re looking at a high rate of infection, and that’s what the experience of the last couple years suggests is going to happen.” Many other online news sites reprinted this article.

Galveston County likely near top for fentanyl overdoses

Kathryn Cunningham, director of the University of Texas Medical Branch’s Center for Addiction Research, said Galveston County and Texas are in a fentanyl crisis and there’s no clear evidence the problem is improving. “Texas, which is the second most populous state in the country, has seen a 70 percent increase in overdoses between 2020 and 2022,” Cunningham said. “If you look per capita, the overdose deaths here are more than Harris County,” she said, referring to Galveston County and noting the data was two years old.

Researchers test private wells near Jones Road Superfund Site after EPA report finds groundwater contamination is still a concern

One of the organizations that is pushing for more testing and information is the Texas Health and Environment Alliance, or THEA. They’ve teamed up with researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch, UTMB, to test the water and air at 55 properties – both inside and outside the EPA’s official boundaries. Lance Hallberg with UTMB said the goal is to have data for the community. “The purpose of whatever we find whether good or bad is for them to be able to utilize that in requesting any additional services from EPA if necessary,” he said.

Now Medicare Part D covers vaccines at no cost

People with Medicare Part D can receive all recommended vaccines without paying a dime. Drs. Megan Berman and Richard Rupp explained it in their recent Vaccine Smarts column.

An expert's warning: ‘No street drug is safe right now'

Dr. Kathryn A. Cunningham, a professor of Pharmacology, vice chairman in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology and director of the Center for Addiction Research at the University of Texas Medical Branch, said she was worried more people were going to die during the hard partying on New Year’s Eve. Cunningham had this message: “No street drug is safe right now,” she said. “None.”

‘Maintain equanimity under duress’

Dr. Charles Mouton, interim president at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, discussed leadership, women’s health and health disparities on this podcast episode.

Medical love story: A Texas couple both had liver transplants. Now she is a transplant surgeon.

Dr. Trine Engebretsen was born with a genetic condition that caused her to need a liver transplant when she was 2 years old. She later married Ryan Labbe, a fellow liver transplant recipient, and they are believed to be the first pair of liver transplant recipients to have children together. Today Engebretsen is an abdominal transplant surgeon at the University of Texas Medical Branch.

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