The Pulse – Jan. 23 2015


    Piggy-backing on the recent news that 2014 was the hottest year on record, President Obama made a passionate plea for the need to address climate change in his State of the Union speech this past week. But in some fields, adapting to climate change seems more practical than trying to prevent it. Forestry, to name just one. Carolyn Beeler walks through a Philly forest to find out more.

    Also in his 2015 State of the Union address, the President announced the launch of his Precision Medicine Initiative “to bring us closer to curing diseases like cancer and diabetes, and to give all of us access to the personalized information we need to keep ourselves and our families healthier.” Sounds great, but what the heck is “precision medicine”? We invited the Center for Personalized Diagnostics at the University of Pennsylvania to tell us more about the future of diagnosis and treatment.

    Concussions were certainly one of biggest news stories of 2014. But the story is far from over. Each year, Americans suffer more than two million concussions, and experts think that 20 percent of those injuries result in serious long-term injury. And while our awareness of these brain injuries came into sharp focus this past year, the science behind diagnosing and treating concussions is still far too blurry. But a new blood test being developed in Philadelphia might change that. Avir Mitra has that story.

    Doctors have a long history of inventing stuff—from stomach pumps to artificial kidneys—and a Philadelphia hospital wants to feed and grow that innovative spirit. Thomas Jefferson University’s Accelerator Zone is designed to get researchers thinking about products…not just published papers. Reporter Todd Bookman got a look inside.

    This month, two students at Burlington Township High School in New Jersey took their own lives. Almost 5,000 Americans between the ages of 10 and 24 die by suicide each year. Schools could be part of a first line of defense in preventing suicide, and some legislators recognize this. In September, Pennsylvania teachers will have to be trained in recognizing the signs of suicide risk. We’re joined by two experts in the field to discuss what this all means.

    “Medicaid doesn’t pay enough.” For years that’s been the complaint from some doctors. In response, the Affordable Care Act bumped up payments, and now there’s some evidence that the temporary pay raise made it easier for people to book an appointment with a doctor. Taunya English reports.

    Philadelphian Mark Kuchler has been battling lung cancer for three years. He’s 31 now, he’s back on chemo trying to keep the spread of cancer in his body at bay. He and his wife Rachel got married one year ago, in the midst of all this cancer chaos. In this edition of our series “Patient Files” they talk about how they deal with all of the adversity.

    If you’ve struggled with addiction, you know what “the rooms” are. It’s shorthand for recovery meetings, like at 12 step programs—the rooms are church basements, community spaces, daycares or even kitchens. Millions of people have entered these rooms for support, sharing stories with one another. But these stories usually stay within those closed doors. Elana Gordon brings us the story of one local woman who has been walking a fine line, bringing some stories out of the rooms and into the public sphere.

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