NYU Physician

NYU Physician is the magazine of NYU School of Medicine, featuring in-depth reporting on faculty, students, alumni, and researchers.

Untangling Tourette’s
Neurosurgeons at NYU Langone Medical Center are pioneering the use of deep brain stimulation for treating severe cases of a mysterious neurological disorder that begins in childhood and causes disabling muscular and vocal tics.

  • Setting the Pace: Interventional cardiologists implant tiny cardiac pacemakers with no wire leads.
  • Speaking for the Dead, Caring for the Living: Charles Hirsch, MD, takes stock after serving 25 years as chief medical examiner of the City of New York and chair of the Department of Forensic Medicine at NYU School of Medicine.
  • Honoring the Lives and Legacies of Salk and Sabin: The seeds of two lifesaving vaccines were planted in the welcoming soil along Manhattan’s First Avenue.

A Fresh Start
Fecal microbiota transplants are helping desperately ill patients infected with C. difficile reclaim their lives.

  • Ketamine: A Rapid Antidote to Major Depression? A clinical trial is asking whether a drug widely used as an anesthetic, and widely abused in clubs, can revolutionize the treatment of major depressive disorder.
  • Nanometers from Death: A cardiology researcher and a geneticist, who are husband and wife, seek to understand why the heart can suddenly stop beating in young people in the prime of their lives.
  • An Ancient Mystery: Some say it’s needed to consolidate memories or to clear out metabolic waste, but nobody really knows why we sleep. Now, neuroscientists are probing that mystery in an unlikely creature, the fruit fly.

Taking It on Faith
In churches, barbershops, and other gathering places around New York City, researchers at the Center for Healthful Behavior Change are partnering with lay advisers to bring down soaring rates of hypertension in minority populations.

  • The Spaces In Between: Pioneering neuroscientist Charles Nicholson studies the slender channels around brain cells, leading to surprising results that could lead to better drug delivery and new treatments for neurodegenerative diseases.
  • Stick Shift: Driven by his own battle with a vision-destroying disease, Dr. John-Ross Rizzo is devising better alternatives to the white cane for the blind.

Tackling the Behavioral Challenges of ADHD
A new program at NYU Langone’s Child Study Center offers the tools to help kids with ADHD succeed in school and beyond.

  • Between Doctors: A broad initiative at NYU Langone Medical Center aims to reduce the risk of miscommunication that can occur when shifts end and doctors transfer care of their patients to another doctor.
  • Is Alzheimer’s in Your Future?: Many researchers now believe that subjects should be told the results of studies evaluating biomarkers for the brain-robbing disease.

Staying Ahead of the Game
The Concussion Center at NYU Langone Medical Center takes aim at a silent epidemic of head injuries that has left millions of Americans dazed, confused, and undiagnosed.

  • The New Deal: NYU Langone joins an historic experiment in Medicare billing with the bundling initiative.
  • Reinventing Radiotherapy: Researchers at the Medical Center begin to harness the power of radiotherapy to help the immune system fight cancer.

The Courage to Cut
A Journey Into the Hearts and Minds of NYU Langone’s Neurosurgeons

  • Missed Connections: An emerging theory of autism links social isolation to faulty circuits in the brain.
  • A Matter of Degrees: A new option to earn an MD in three years aims to help some students save time and money.
  • The Heart of the Matter: How molecular autopsies are solving mysterious deaths—and saving lives.

Missing a Crucial Target
Biopsies for Prostate Cancer Often Overlook Dangerous Lesions

  • Hitting the Bulls-Eye in Prostate Cancer: New imaging techniques distinguish deadly lesions.
  • The Truth About Low Testosterone: How can patients and physicians sort out the science from the hype?
  • The Male Biological Clock: The risks of fathering a child later in life.
  • Neuroscience and the Love Song of Finches: A neuroscientist learns how zebra finches perfect their love song and makes some surprising discoveries about how neurons hook up.

There’s No Backing Away From the Pain

The Challenge of Treating Chronic Back Pain

  • Oh, My Aching Back! : Many people seek relief through back surgery, but surgery should be the last resort.
  • Battling Chronic Pain: Can the right therapy save your job?
  • Restoring a Body in Motion: Our sedentary lifestyles are a major reason why Americans spend at least $50 billion each year on low back pain.

Roaming Water Molecules Provide a Road Map of Complex Tissue, New Insights into Cancer

  • A New Kind of Cancer Probe: Advanced imaging techniques rely on roaming water molecules to visualize complex tissue.
  • Seeing is Believing: Extraordinary advances in radiologic imaging and fluorescence microscopy are producing unprecedented images of the immune system, stem cells, and so much more.
  • Illuminating the Roots of Violence: After Identifying specific brain cells tied to aggression in mice, a researcher wonders whether her findings can be extended to quell violence in humans.

Changing Perspectives on Women’s Health: Heart Disease, Breast Cancer Risk, Pelvic Pain

  • The Toll of Heart Disease in Women: Research on women has lagged, but recent studies shed light on the mechanisms that cause heart attacks in women. 
  • Breast Cancer Risk: Researchers hope to give women a more precise assessment of their personal risk of developing breast cancer.  
  • Minimizing Disfigurement: Breast surgeons are offering a new kind of mastectomy surgery that helps women feel better about their bodies.  
  • A New Field of Medicine Offers Women Relief from Pain: The Women’s Rehabilitation Program at Rusk Institute considers every aspect of female physiology and anatomy. 

The Burden of Diabetes: The Obesity Pandemic; Avoiding Amputation; Therapies on the Horizon

  • What Are the Odds of Losing Weight? Two overweight teenagers beat the odds and transform their lives.
  • Saving Lives and Limbs: Diabetes robs 65,000 Americans of limbs each year. But some can be saved.
  • Why Can't They Just Stop Eating? Learning to Treat Obesity
  • Blocking Rage! For the past two decades, Ann Marie Schmidt, MD, has been leading the fight against this angry-sounding protein that triggers diabetes.

Reshaping Medical Education: Stronger Patient Focus, Deeper Integration of Basic and Clinical Science

  • A Patient-Centered Curriculum for the 21st Century: The School of Medicine launches a bold initiative to educate a new generation of physicians.
  • The Right Place at the Right Time: First-year medical students are now interviewing patients and practicing clinical skills.
  • Teaching at the Bedside: Taking histories and doing physical exams through the Merrin Fellowship Program.
  • Overturning the Status Quo: Powerful new technologies like virtual microscopy and advanced podcasting are changing where and when students can learn.

Exploring the New Frontier: Genomics Come of Age

  • Delivering on the Promise of Personalized Medicine: Meet the scientists at the cutting edge of the burgeoning field of bioinformatics.
  • Diving Deep: Next-generation sequencers reveal extraordinary views of gene interaction patterns that may foretell the story of life.
  • Zeroing In: RNAi, a powerful new tool, is helping researchers rapidly discover the function of thousands of genes.
  • Secrets of Aging and Behavior: Ant genomes may help solve some of the great mysteries of biology.

Six Kids and the Special Care They Needed

  • Change of Heart: Sometimes babies are born with arteries that arise from the wrong places.
  • In Pediatric Surgery, Less is More: Minimally invasive surgery, once reserved for adults, is now for children, too.
  • It’s About More Than How You Look: Repairing cleft lip and palate.
  • Life on a Bubble: Growing up with HIV.
  • Back in the Game: Coming back from a brain hemorrhage.
  • Staying Healthy: School-based clinics make a difference.

Connecting to Memory

  • Memories of Fear: Can we erase the bad memories associated with phobias, panic attacks, and anxiety? Neuroscientist Joseph LeDoux, PhD, thinks it may be possible, and his transforming research is attracting wide attention.
  • Memory and the Senses: New findings by pioneering researcher Donald Wilson, PhD, are revealing that our olfactory system serves as a window into how our brains first begin to malfunction when diseases such as Alzheimer's and schizophrenia strike.
  • Connecting to Sound: For those left profoundly deaf, a new type of high-tech implant that bypasses the auditory nerve helps restore some hearing.
  • Improving MRI: Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and diffusion kurtosis imaging (DKI), are proving helpful in mapping the brain's microstructures.

New Clues to the Molecular and Genetic Mysteries of Cancer

  • High Hopes: Gaining a better understanding of gene mutations holds the key to tailoring better therapies for childhood cancer.
  • Found in Translation: A versatile physician-researcher's laboratory investigations are extending the lives of patients with lymphoma.
  • A New Kind of Sleuth: An environmental epidemiologist is finding unexpected links between cancer and genes.

Baby Boomer Knees

  • Who Will Get Worse?: Scientists at NYU and Duke are working together to create blood tests that identify those at high risk of severe osteoarthritis, a major obstacle in the quest for better treatments.
  • Knee Animations: You want to know exactly what the inside of a knee looks like? Exquisitely detailed computer animations offer an extraordinary view of this complex joint.
  • The Better Knee?: Bioengineers at Hospital for Joint Diseases are performing partial knee-replacement surgery using new materials and computer-generated models. The promise: less pain, faster recovery, better mobility. Tennis anyone?

Hearts at Risk

  • Places in the Heart: A rapidly evolving technique for treating atrial fibrillation is raising hopes that there may be a cure for a condition that affects millions of Americans.
  • Looking for the Faint of Heart: The exploding field of cardiogenetics is helping to identify people at risk for sudden cardiac death.
  • Heart to Heart: Through patient education and regular monitoring, a new Tisch Hospital-based program at NYU Langone Medical Center is extending the lives of heart-failure patients.

The Enigma of Multiple Sclerosis

  • Out of Control: Basic research in immunology and molecular neurobiology is revealing why the immune system goes into attack mode.
  • Predicting the Course of MS: A highly variable disease, MS has always defied prognosis. But powerful tools are now allowing researchers to search for markers in the brain that may predict when, and how quickly, the disease will progress.
  • Life with Multiple Sclerosis: For MS patients experiencing a wide variety of deficits, a comprehensive treatment and care program lead by Dr. Joseph Herbert helps them cope with daily life.

The Air We Breathe

  • Fresh Air May Be Hazardous to Your Health: And in New York City, it may be downright deadly, warns Dr. Morton Lippmann.
  • Air Zero: To provide care for her patients made ill by exposure to World Trade Center dust, Dr. Joan Reibman first had to overcome the skepticism of government officials.
  • Innovative Tests Uncover Breathing Problems: World Trade Center survivors benefit from tests performed at the Pulmonary Function Lab.


  • Bringing ADHD into Focus: Neuroscience may hold the key to unraveling this most elusive of childhood conditions.
  • Grasping Reality: Dolores Malaspina has devoted her entire career to understanding the most misunderstood of mental disorders.
  • Un-hooked: For those addicted to opiate drugs, a new treatment broadens access, offers hope, and helps preserve dignity.

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  • Predicting Alzheimer's: The sooner this dreaded disease can be predicted, researchers like Dr. Mony de Leon believe, the sooner it can be prevented, treated, and perhaps one day cured.
  • Understanding Anesthesia: Anesthesia is one of the safest medical procedures, and three NYU researchers from surprisingly different fields are striving to make a good thing even better.
  • When the Doctor Becomes the Patient: For nearly a decade, Mathew H.M. Lee, MD, Chairman of Rehabilitation Medicine, has been battling and beating cancer. His message: Doctor Beware.
  • Medical Mystery: For diagnosticians, the super sleuths of medicine, the most interesting cases of all are the most baffling ones.

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  • Germ Cells Are Forever: The fruit fly, says Dr. Ruth Lehmann, Director of the new Kimmel Center for Stem Cell Biology, helps to reveal how generations are linked.
  • Teaming Up to Combat Melanoma: Waging war is a group effort, and never more so than when the foe is melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.
  • Trauma: When Minutes Count: At Bellevue Hospital, a team of NYU trauma surgeons, emergency medicine physicians, and other specialists defy death every day.
  • Joined at the Hip, Knee, Shoulder, Ankle …Though a mile apart, NYU Medical Center and the Hospital for Joint Diseases, now merged, are closer than ever.

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  • Bridging the Quality Chasm: Medical educators are once again sounding the alarm that the system is broken. Can it be fixed again?
  • The Making of a Doctor, 2005: How do you train a doctor in the age of managed care and the information explosion? NYU has some answers.

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  • Plan of Attack: Bolstered by a federally-funded Center of Excellence for locally advanced breast cancer, NYU is targeting this often lethal form of the disease, which plagues medically underserved women.
  • Targeted Therapies: For many patients, cancer may soon become a chronic but treatable disease, thanks to new drugs pioneered through clinical trials at NYU.
  • Numbers Too Big to Ignore: The genome has flooded scientists with data, but how do they make sense of it all to better understand cancer and other diseases? The answer may arise from the emerging field of bioinformatics.