“Fierce Conversation” the truths of open discourse

“Fierce Conversation” the truths of open discourse

A reflection from the High Holidays

Like some of you, I sat in synagogue on Monday and listened.  The message spoken by Rabbi Dan Levin (Boca Raton, FL) struck me on many levels, but the words were so germane to the mission of Cur&#275us that I felt the need to share my interpretation of this message as it relates to medical publishing, and as it relates to all of us.

The essence of his message was that to change the world we need to be willing to listen. If we are truly listening then we can engage in dialog. We can debate.  We can disagree and collectively seek truth.

It is time for a change…to evolve from the anachronistic traditions of bias and prejudice and political strongholds reigning over our scientific ideas. But how does one “be brave” and courageous in the face of such inertia (e.g., traditional peer review, a “perceived” need to chase the ubiquitous Impact Factor, etc.)?

At Cur&#275us, we just introduced the opportunity to share medical posters with the world…one component potentially leading to the future of open and cross-disciplinary medical discourse. Students and residents are our new generation of publishers, of academics, of clinicians, of innovators, and they will blaze a path to new medical knowledge and truths.

Every beginning starts with a first step….and this is our first step.  (Fellows, Professors and other authors submit your old posters, too). Submit those opinion pieces that are full of information, but there is just not enough time in the day to make the papers fit the specifications and “criteria” under the purview of a particular journal.

  • Give the new generation examples…share your ideas from the past and present
  • Submit, submit, submit, and let the world engage, dialog – learn.

Only through free flow of information, debate and discussion may we “pivot” and change and evolve. There is nothing wrong with theoretical opposition and heated discourse. Real debate and dialogue (i.e., “fierce conversation,” a phrase coined by author Susan Scott) interrogates reality, and in the process creates openness and honesty, rendering us available to consider truths and allowing us the opportunity to question our answers. Providing a “safe space” allows us not only to “talk” about what we know but also, and perhaps most importantly, to listen to (thereby acknowledging) that which we do not know.

Rabbi Levin reminded us of the words of the Greek philosopher, Epictetus (AD 55- c. 135): “We have 2 ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak”

Cur&#275us creates this “safe space” … a platform for honest and open discourse in all of medicine.  It is time for a change, and to change, we must act. We must publish!  We cannot be hindered by traditions, indolence and fear.  To act is to start somewhere, and to embrace the newness of a challenge, a willingness to accommodate something different, an acceptance of the journey we are on now, and who we might become, refusing to limit ourselves by the stories of our past and “who we have been.”

To understand “truths,” we need to listen with open curiosity and with integrity, rather than to speak with criticism and preconceived prejudices based on familiar, albeit limited knowledge.

Together we begin this journey with Cur&#275us, let us listen and be willing to hear.  Let us be curious.




Doctors in Sweden perform first mother-to-daughter uterus transplants

Doctors in Sweden perform first mother-to-daughter uterus transplants

A team of specialists at the University of Goteborg in Sweden have performed what doctors are calling the world’s first mother-to-daughter uterus transplants.

The pioneering procedures were completed “without complications” by more than 10 surgeons over the weekend at Sahlgrenska University Hospital according to a CNN report.

Doctors were quick to caution that they will not consider the operations successful unless the women give birth to healthy children.

“So far, the procedures have been a success, but the final proof of success will be the birth of a healthy child,” Michael Olausson told CNN.

The university cited that one of the unidentified women had her uterus removed many years ago due to cervical cancer, while the other was born without her uterus. Both woman who are in their 30s, will undergo observation for one year before doctors attempt in vitro fertilization (IVF) with their own frozen embryos.

“The operations were the first live-donor uterus transplants from mother to child,” Olausson said.

According to the university, in Sweden alone, between 2,000 and 3,000 women of childbearing age cannot birth children because they lack a uterus. In the video below — researchers from the University of Gothenburg describe how the transplantation is performed.


Read the entire story at CNN

Lessons Learned From Winning a Poster Competition

Lessons Learned From Winning a Poster Competition

Competing For Eyeballs of Those Passing By

    1. You are competing with everyone for the attention of a few (1 minute of their time – MAX)
    2. Catchy titles! Lure in the reader with a title that stands out from the crowd
      • E.g., One title I used was “The Panic Disorder Patient who Cried Wolf.” Clearly, this is not the title for the manuscript I eventually published (which was about information-processing biases and auditory perception in anxious individuals), but, it certainly piqued the curiosity of convention-goers.
    4. Bullet-pointed text (similar to a talk). A few points of interest or “talking points,” but let the quality of your tables and graphs/images speak to the quality of your data!
      • No one has the time to read tiny text boxes (if the reader has to squint…you lose)!
      • Consider leaving out the abstract (so many words, and these words are redundant with what your poster will convey LOUDLY AND CLEARLY, also the abstract will be published in the Conference Proceedings anyway. On Cur?us, the title of your poster will be directly linked to your published abstract.  In essence, your poster IS the abstract plus some cool graphic design effort!
    5. What to include?
      • Background and Rationale
      • Specific Aims and Hypotheses
      • Methods/Design
      • Results
      • Graphs/Tables
        • Summarize results in bullet pointed text
        • Don’t add a single bullet under a point. What’s the point in the bullet if the bullet IS the point?
      • Conclusions/Discussion
      • Implications/Future Directions

Most of all, have fun with your work, have confidence in it, and BE CREATIVE!

Poster Sample (above): Spinal Chordoma by Stefan Norbert Zausinger

Are Urgent Care Centers The Next Gold Rush?

Are Urgent Care Centers The Next Gold Rush?

Consumers who are looking to avoid long emergency room waits along with more convenient evening and weekend hours are driving the growth of many urgent care centers — referred to by some as “doc-in-a-box” locations according to a recent report by the Washington Post.

The Urgent Care Association of America cites that an estimated 3 million patients visit these centers each week. The number of facilities have increased from 8,300 to 9,300 since 2008 – sending a clear signal that business is booming in the perceived urgent care gold rush.

“I have a doctor, and my kids’ pediatricians are great, but we’d prefer not to have the long wait in the office. So we come here and everything seems so much faster,” a 36-year-old patient told the Washington Post, after having a doctor remove the stitches he had put in her foot after a weekend boating accident.

But some physicians groups have voiced their concerns that “overreliance on the centers can complicate efforts to improve health through better coordination of care”.

“Family doctors take a more holistic view of a person,” said Glen Stream, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians. “If a teenager comes in with lacerations, for instance, a family doctor might broach the subject of alcohol or drug use. Similarly, a series of seemingly minor illnesses might indicate a larger, less obvious problem.”

With the lower costs of urgent care drawing attention from insurers, many have added urgent care centers to their provider networks, citing a study that found “almost one in five visits to hospital emergency rooms could be treated at urgent care centers, potentially saving $4.4 billion annually in health-care costs.”

Ultimately, convenient access and saving time are major selling points for patients — with approximately 80% of all urgent care visits being 60 minutes or less.

Read the entire Washington Post article.

Monkeys, Cocaine & Neuroprosthesis

Monkeys, Cocaine & Neuroprosthesis

Everybody knows that cocaine impairs your ability to make good decisions.  A rhesus monkey, injected with cocaine makes very poor decisions. How do you improve a cocaine addled monkey’s decision making? With a Neuroprosthesis of course.

Researches from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and the University of Southern California, trained rhesus monkeys for nearly two years to execute a simple matching task. The monkeys ended up being 40%-75% accurate, depending on the difficulty of the task. They were also implanted with probes that recorded the “crackle of firing neurons during the animals’ choices.”

After the monkeys were deliberately injected with cocaine their decision making became as accurate as…  a cocaine addled monkeys. Overall scores fell by 20 percent. But when they relayed the correct “crackle of firing neurons” back into the implants in the monkey’s brains, their decision making improved by 10 percent.

“The prosthetic device is like ‘flipping a switch’ to turn on a decision in real time,” said Sam Deadwyler, a professor of physiology and pharmacology at Wake Forest and one of the study’s authors. Under the influence of cocaine, the prosthesis restored and even improved as compared with the baseline, with the monkeys selecting the correct image 10 percent more frequently than before.

According to co-author Dr. Deadwyler, “the technology used in the study could easily be contained on an implantable chip” and in the future help people with brain damage from dementia, strokes or other brain injuries.



Body Maps for iPad Makes Human Anatomy Social

Body Maps for iPad Makes Human Anatomy Social

Body Maps, a collaboration between General Electric and Health Line is taking human anatomy social. The users can explore the human body through over a thousand 3d renderings of body parts, and over 200 videos covering different medical conditions and procedures.

What makes Body Maps social, is that the user can annotate images by drawing on them with their finger and share the results via Facebook or Email.

According to James Hambling, MD, the health channel editor at The Atlantic — this is “the best basic anatomy resource” he has ever seen. It “provides easily digestible anatomical information, it’s intuitive to navigate structures across multiple planes,” and most importantly, its “visually and symbolically on point.”

It’s available for $8.99 in the App Store.


Fall 2012 International Poster Competition is Now Open

Fall 2012 International Poster Competition is Now Open

Several months ago we started a revolution in medical publishing by offering tools for physician authors unlike any in the industry.  Today we expand the revolution to include medical and graduate students, residents, fellows and anyone who has or will publish a medical poster.  There are thousands of posters discarded after conferences every year and yet they represent hard work, creative thinking and many will lead to the next full academic papers.

Dust off those posters sitting on your hard drive and upload them to Cureus where they can receive new life.

To have some fun we are introducing our Fall 2012 International Poster Competition which includes a $1,000 Grand Prize and $100 prizes for each of our 40 categories.  Each category will have a winner for a total of 40 First Place prizes.  We are honored to have Varian Medical Systems participate as the sponsor of the competition.  They are a company that values innovation and are strong supporters of physician authors who are pushing to advance medical science and discourse.

As authors you may submit any poster you have created over time and as many as you like.  Once you upload your poster, its time to promote….get friends, family, professors etc. to come vote for your poster.  The top 10 vote recipients in each category will make it to the final round where our esteemed Editorial Board members will select the Top 3 Winners in each category.  Top 3 winners will get noted in their profile and can add this distinction to their CV…plus bragging rights.

Go to www.cureus.com/posters to get started.…the sooner your poster is submitted, the sooner you can begin getting votes and head toward victory.

Let the games begin.


Download the official Fall 2012 Poster Competition Press Release.