@SyracuseU News Tips
Syracuse University faculty members are available for interview on a variety of timely topics. Our faculty members provide insight that moves the story forward, and information that shines a new light on important research of interest to your audience. Here’s what they’re saying today:
Breaking barriers to treating Alzheimer’s
Recent news that Biogen Idec Inc. is inching closer to an effective drug for Alzheimer’s is getting plenty of media attention. Equally important is research taking place at Syracuse University that examines the most effective way at delivering the drug to the part of the brain affected by the disease. One of the biggest challenges is figuring out a way to penetrate the blood-brain barrier (BBB), a permeable barrier meant to protect the brain, which serves as a deterrent for drug molecules to reach the brain. Biomedical and Chemical Engineering Professor Shikha Nangia was recently awarded a National Science Foundation grant to study ways to open up the BBB temporarily to allow disease-fighting medicines to be able to reach the brain in non-invasive ways. “An analogy to the BBB is that of Velcro,” says Nangia. “On one side you have blood and one side you have the brain and there are cells lining up in the middle and they are jam packed—this is the barrier. What we need to do is open up this wall of cells. The prongs of the ‘Velcro’ are made up of proteins. If we can understand the structure of these proteins we can program them to open when we need to get medicine through.” The overarching goal of the proposed research is to apply theoretical and computational techniques to engineer thermodynamically favorable pathways to enable transport of desired chemicals across the BBB.
Alzheimer’s advance planning
Much has been made of the establishment of a health care proxy to handle critical decisions for those who cannot do it themselves, especially those suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s. But there are problems with this, according to Syracuse University Law Professor Nina Kohn. Kohn, an expert on legal issues affecting older Americans, has written extensively on the issue. “Encouraging advance directives and the appointment of a surrogate is appropriate,” says Kohn. “The problem is that the advice people generally are given about how to select a surrogate is deeply flawed. The conventional wisdom is to choose someone you trust and who knows you well to be your legal surrogate. Social psychologists have found that surrogate decision-makers frequently make treatment decisions that are inconsistent with patients’ preferences even when specifically instructed to do what the patient would do. Rather, surrogates tend to project their own preferences when making decisions for others. What can you do increase the likelihood that those making decisions for you make the decisions you would have made if able? You can change the conversation. Don’t just tell your would-be surrogates what you want. Ask them what they would want for themselves. Capitalize on the fact that we tend to choose for others what we would want for ourselves by selecting your surrogate based, in part, on the extent to which he or she shares your values and preferences.”
Military Veterans Joining the Workforce
As more of our nation’s soldiers return from active duty, there is a need for education and training to allow for the next phase of their lives. It can be a daunting task for anyone, especially veterans with disabilities. That’s where Syracuse University and the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) comes in. Through their Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV), IVMF offers a wide range of tools to help veterans interested in starting their own business. “We’ve come a long way since 2007, when the program was founded,” says James Schmeling, co-founder of IVMF. “Our recently concluded class brings us up to more than 22,000 servicemen and servicewomen who’ve been through EBV or another of our entrepreneurship programs.” One of those servicemen is Josh Leslie, who served as a United States Marine. “This program will literally change my life, and my family’s life too,” says Leslie, who told us he benefits from the camaraderie with his fellow veterans as much as he does the information provided during an intensive 10-day session. Adds Leslie, “It’s like coming home to family.”
Syracuse University faculty are available for interviews over the phone or via our Newhouse Studios via LTN. Please contact Keith Kobland at 315-443-9038/415-8095 or firstname.lastname@example.org.