Mice in Space Snakeroot and Bitters Don't Chat and Drive PB & J: Not a Treat for All News When Bedtime Becomes a Nightmare You're Getting Very S-l-e-e-p-y Tea for Prevention A New Jersey First How to Save those Pearly Whites A Toast: To Life An Enterprising Fellow
They won't be wearing space suits or bringing moon rocks back for their kin, but UMDNJ mice will be traveling in space come 1998. Will they do a moon walk or investigate conditions for colonizing the galaxy? It's unlikely, but the exploits of these energetic recruits will undoubtedly add much to the growing body of knowledge about life in space.
If you're still skeptical about the authenticity of this data, you might want to contact astronauts Richard M. Linnehan and Dave Rhys Williams, c/o NASA. They were last seen on campus in the lab of Richard Nowakowski, PhD, and Nancy Hayes, PhD, both faculty members in the Department of Neuroscience and Cell Biology at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. Were the two astronauts and four other crew members briefing the UMDNJ duo on future space launches?
No. In fact, the University researchers were directing the NASA crew on how to proceed. When the space shuttle Columbia blasts off in March 1998, it will carry 26 neuroscience experiments as part of the 16-day Neurolab mission. One of these is the brain child of the UMDNJ husband-wife team.
They are studying cells in the central nervous system of mouse embryos to determine if their brains can develop normally in a zero-gravity atmosphere. Under normal conditions, cells of the mouse neocortex proliferate by dividing a specific number of times during a six-day period.
"The weightlessness of space may disrupt the developmental process, affecting either the speed of divisions or the number of new cells created," says Hayes. The space experiment will allow the scientists to assess the extent to which the absence of gravity interferes with the process.
At the medical school, the astronauts were trained to carry out the research, most importantly how to perform Caesarian sections on the pregnant mice to get to the embryos. "The astronauts will be our hands, our eyes, our brains," Nowakowski says. The couple will be stationed in Florida while their experiment is being done.
The mouse embryo study should shed light on how human cells react to weightlessness and whether children could be born and develop in these conditions.
These mice, which were nurtured locally, may give the world some insights into the basic biology underlying long-term human survival at the last frontier. The Neurolab mission is a joint venture of six space agencies and seven U.S. research agencies. top
A house call cost 50 cents, a delivery $3, a simple tooth extraction 25 cents. The standard medical treatments in the 1820s also included bleeding;which was believed to remove toxins -; castor oil for constipation and laudanum, a solution of opium in alcohol, for nervous conditions. The doctor also used bitters, snake root, quinine, expectorants and salts.
This glimpse of the past comes from a physician's journal, recently discovered in the basement of the Summit Medical Group building and brought to the attention of Barbara Sachs, wife of one of the partners in the practice. Through her efforts, it was donated to the New Jersey Medical History Collection at UMDNJ's George Smith Library in Newark.
A bit battered and water-stained;but remarkably legible -; it was kept by Dr. Seymour Halsey, who practiced in Sparta from 1824 through 1829.
According to his family genealogy, Halsey was born in 1802 and, following the custom of the time, apprenticed himself to a doctor in Morristown. He opened his own practice in Sparta in 1824, left five years later to attend a course of lectures in New York and eventually graduated from the New York College of Medicine.
Halsey spent a few years in Newark, then moved to Vicksburg, Mississippi. During the Mexican War, he served as surgeon in Jefferson Davis's regiment and attended him when Davis suffered a foot wound. Halsey died in Vicksburg in 1852.
One doesn't think of standard medical fees in the 1800s, but Halsey's were right in line with those recommended by the Medical Society of New Jersey. One of the many other gems in the New Jersey Medical History Collection is a fragile pamphlet, "Table of Fees and Rates of Charging," published by the Society in 1820. Items ranged from 25 cents for "dressing small cutaneous or superficial wounds" to $20 for amputation of a breast.
Halsey's daybook needs surgery of its own. In addition to water damage, poems and a magazine story have been pasted over its first pages.
The book will be ministered to by Janet Koch, longtime conservator for the New Jersey Historical Society, who now has her own business. She has been the paper conservator at the UMDNJ libraries for 10 years.
Koch explains her treatment plan: "I'll first test the ink with a drop of distilled water on a Q-tip, then blot it to see if it's water-soluble. Chances are good that the ink is 'fast.'" Once that's established, she says, she can safely drop a page at a time into water to loosen the overlays and then carefully peel them off. She'll also brush away mold.
The pages are intact, she explains, because they are made from rag. It wasn't until about 1850 that wood pulp was introduced into paper making, and its acidity meant pages became brittle as they aged.
Koch will not rebind the book, although a couple of pages and the front cover are loose. "It's not our aim to try to totally restore it," says Barbara Irwin, MLS, who manages special collections at the George Smith Library. "We're more concerned about uncovering all the interesting information that's in there." top
Teenagers and telephones: They're almost inseparable. Rare is the teen who doesn't spend hours on the phone discussing everything from homework to her new prom dress. It's part of growing up and is generally harmless, unless the conversations take place from behind the wheel.
Even though the percentage of fatal auto accidents involving teenagers has declined over the past eight years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says crashes are still the leading cause of death for Americans between 15 and 20 years old. And a separate study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine (Feb. 13, 1997), shows that talking on the phone while driving increases the chances of having an accident four-fold.
Researchers who conducted the study analyzed 26,798 calls placed by 699 drivers who had cellular phones and had been involved in accidents. The scientists concluded that it's as dangerous to talk and drive as it is to drive with a blood alcohol level of .10 -; the legal limit.
Linda Jones-Hicks, DO, director of adolescent medicine at UMDNJ-School of Osteopathic Medicine, says she's not convinced talking and driving is as dangerous as drinking and driving. Nevertheless, she adds it's not a good idea for anyone to chat and drive, but it's especially hazardous for teens.
"Adolescents haven't gained the years of behind-the-wheel experience that adults have," she notes. "They may not be able to judge distances accurately and adjust their speed accordingly. Add a phone conversation to that;particularly if it's a heated one -; and they're in double jeopardy."
Jones-Hicks recommends that parents do provide their teens with a cellular phone for emergencies, but warns: "make sure they know to pull over to the side of the road before they use it." She also suggests getting a cell phone that can be preprogrammed with the most frequently called numbers. "That way if it's impossible or unsafe to pull over, the driver only needs to push one button." She adds that teens should be told to keep calls to a minimum and keep them brief.
Parents can also help their kids become responsible drivers by setting and enforcing some hard and fast rules, Jones-Hicks says. She believes some of the problems between parents and their teen drivers arise because adults don't fully explain their expectations. "If you take away the keys because your teen has broken the rules, don't back down because you'll have to drive him somewhere," she adds. "Instead, try to organize a car pool."
Some states have adopted graduated licensing laws that slowly increase driving privileges. If your state doesn't have them, Jones-Hicks says, enforce your own. "Begin by letting your teen drive a few miles from home without passengers during daylight," she explains. "After six months with no tickets or accidents, let her stay out after dark, go a little further from home with, say, one friend, and so forth."
She also recommends parents and their teens read professionally written material on safe driving, like the free pamphlet available from The American Academy of Pediatrics. "If you show him printed information, he may give it more credence than anything you can say," she explains.
Most importantly, Jones-Hicks points out, know your child and keep communication open. If he displays unusual behavior;such as depression, aggression or withdrawal;investigate immediately. It may not be safe for him to be behind the wheel.
"We see these kids after the accidents, when the damage has already been done," she says. "The more parents stay in touch with their kids' needs, the better for everyone."
A free pamphlet, "The Teen Driver: A Guideline For Parents," is
available from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Send a
self-addressed, stamped business-size envelope to the academy at: 141
Northwest Point Blvd., PO Box 927, Elk Grove Village, IL 60009.
In a more perfect world, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a carton of cold milk and three chocolate chip cookies would be every child's comfort meal;and every harried mother's answer to the need for a quick brown bag lunch. But there are some youngsters -; and oldsters;for whom even a teaspoon of peanut butter or peanut oil or a half teaspoon of ground peanuts topping a sugar cookie could be deadly.
"It's not known whether peanut allergies are on the rise, but the NIH has documented an increase in all allergies over the last 10 to 15 years, particularly in young children and those over 65," says Leonard Bielory, MD, director of the Asthma and Allergy Research Center at UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School, Newark.
"If one parent has allergies, there's a 30 percent chance the child will have allergies. If both parents are allergic, it goes up to 60 percent," says Bielory. "But the mother may be allergic to cat dander and get asthma, the father may get hives from skin contact with wool, and the child could get eczema and conjunctivitis from pollen."
The allergist says any of the following could be symptoms of a peanut allergy: runny nose, wheezing, watery eyes, coughing, hoarseness, tingling and/or burning of the tongue or mouth, hives, wooziness, shortness of breath, low blood pressure and shock.
"If the reaction seems to be systemic or involves lung function, take the child to an emergency room immediately," he says. "The reaction could come on in minutes, even seconds, and can in rare cases be deadly."
The problem is often not fatal in small children but can be deadly in teens and young adults. The physician cites two cases;one in Paterson and one in Livingston;where fatalities occurred despite the teenagers knowing they had severe allergies to peanuts.
"Teens think they can cheat once and get away with it," says Bielory. "Or they may not know that a particular food contains peanuts." He says tourists to Israel should be aware that falafel -; a popular food made from chickpeas which is sold by many street vendors;is cooked in peanut oil.
If you've had even a mild reaction to peanuts in the past, stay away from any food that you suspect may have this as an ingredient, the allergist advises. And since Chinese food is often cooked in peanut oil, it should be avoided entirely by those who think they're susceptible.
A child with a peanut allergy should see an allergy specialist right away to define a management plan, says Bielory. The family and school need to be prepared in case the youngster has a severe reaction.
"Children should be trained in self-medication. A 5-to-8-year-old can be assessed for readiness to handle Epi-Pin Jr. (an adrenaline self-injection device for children) in case of a serious allergic response. Also, parents need to ask a lot of questions," he notes.
The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology's Website
(www.aaaai.org) is a good source,
and doctors who have access to Physicians On-line can get up-to-date
material. Call 800-332-0009 for free membership software.
Stanley S. Bergen, Jr., MD, who oversaw the transformation of a small medical and dental school into the nation's largest public health sciences university, announced on April 9 that he will retire as president of UMDNJ on July 1, 1998. He will have served as the institution's president for 27 years.
The University now ranks among the top 100 in the country for external research support; it is expected to be $145 million in 1997-98. Its endowment;$200,000 when Bergen became president -; was more than $80 million in June 1996.
Bergen says he intends to continue as an active and energetic president until his successor is named. He will then assume the title of Founding President Emeritus and will assist the new president for a year.
In July 1998, Bergen will become chairman of the board of The Hastings Center, an internationally known bioethics institute in Garrison, NY. He has served on its board since 1977.
The National Cancer Institute has designated The Cancer Institute of New Jersey (CINJ) one of its federal clinical cancer care centers. There are 56 nationwide and this is the first in the state. As part of this recognition, the UMDNJ -Robert Wood Johnson Medical School will receive a $3.2 million support grant to help fund CINJ 's operations.
"This internationally recognized honor places CINJ among the
highest regarded cancer centers in the world," says William N. Hait,
MD, PhD, its director. These centers combine multidisciplinary
efforts in basic and clinical research, and they offer patients
access to the latest and most advanced therapies.
To sleep, perchance to sleep through the night;or even the better part of a night;is a dream shared by generations of new parents. But today's moms and dads are not putting children to bed the way their parents did.
When Dr. Spock reigned supreme, the rule was to maintain a regular schedule, and sleeping with infants and toddlers was verboten. Not so in the 1990s. The dual-income family is responsible for the big change, says Leslie Shur, DO, associate professor of pediatrics at UMDNJ -School of Osteopathic Medicine. "Parents want time for bonding with their children, and that often pushes back bedtime. It's okay as long as they get enough sleep. But if a youngster doesn't go to bed until 10 o'clock and has to be up at 6 a.m., then it is a problem." As a general rule, Shur notes, pre-schoolers need 10 to 12 hours of sleep a day and school-age children, eight to 10.
In the era of "stay at home moms," there wasn't a feeling of guilt about putting children to bed at 7 or 7:30 and being firm about it. But parents who have precious little time with youngsters during the day not only delay bedtime, they are loath to have confrontations about it.
As a practicing pediatrician and mother of a 2-year-old, Shur understands the problem and has lectured to parent groups about it. She notes that children thrive with structure, so observing regular bedtimes is a good idea, and the sooner you start the easier it will be.
Once they're in bed, however, youngsters don't always stay there. In "Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems" (Simon & Schuster), author Richard Ferber, MD, says sleeping alone is an important part of psychological development. It helps children learn to separate from parents without anxiety and to see themselves as independent individuals.
Experts say babies who cry unless they are rocked or held until they fall asleep are being allowed to develop bad habits. Eventually they will have to learn to fall asleep on their own and to get back to sleep when they awaken during the night.
How do you teach a 15-month-old to go to sleep alone? Shur says a proven method is to let the child cry for five minutes, go in to comfort her without picking her up, and let the crying periods increase by five-minute increments. It should take less than a week, she states. Of course, it may seem longer. Bringing children into parents' beds only postpones the inevitable, she adds. "It's best to get them used to sleeping alone in their first year. It's doable afterwards, but harder." top
Sleeping on the job for some may be a problem only if the boss notices. But for others;like transportation workers, air traffic controllers or nuclear plant operators;nodding off could prove fatal.
Tired workers pose a serious safety problem. The Federal Railroad Administration blamed seven train wrecks from 1993-95 on engineers falling asleep, and government statistics show that about 30 percent of fatal truck crashes and 200,000 auto accidents per year are related to fatigue.
A new device that measures workers' alertness and stress may help avert such tragedies. It is being developed by Alan Lichtbroun, MD, a clinical assistant professor in the division of rheumatology at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, and a team of Russian scientists. The technology came about as a result of their studies on Parkinson's patients and cosmonauts. The researchers discovered a "super slow" electromagnetic wave that appears on an EKG monitor 10 minutes to 24 hours after electrodes are placed on a person's arms, legs or torso.
"We're not certain, but we believe these waves may be an inherent part of the neuro-endocrine system," Lichtbroun says. "We do know they change dramatically when a person is tired or stressed."
The invention uses two electrodes;one attached to the chest and the other to the wrist. The slow waves are measured and compared with baseline data taken when the person was rested. Computerized equipment analyzes the information and gives a readout. When changes in the slow waves exceed normal parameters, the individual is deemed unable to work. The device can also detect narcotics and/or alcohol ingested within the previous 24 hours.
"Once we fine-tune the system, wireless electrodes will transmit the data by satellite, allowing pilots, drivers and other high-risk employees to be monitored," Lichtbroun says. The team, which has formed PALS Technology, Inc., is searching for a manufacturer to fashion a halter monitor the size of a cigarette box that workers could wear in their pockets.
The new technology is also finding a place in medicine. Lichtbroun explains that slow-wave changes seem to be effective in predicting heart and asthma attacks and epileptic seizures, diagnosing hormone imbalances and evaluating medical treatments. top
Orange pekoe, English Breakfast, Lapsang Souchong, chamomile, ginseng - so many varieties to choose from. But will the kind of tea you drink have any effect on your health? Scientists at The Cancer Institute of New Jersey are investigating green tea to see if it might protect against colorectal cancers.
You may see associations between eating habits and cancer when you look at who drinks tea, who drinks coffee and who eats spicy foods, says David August, MD , an associate professor of surgery at UMDNJ -Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, but it's hard to prove cause and effect. "What we've learned about the influence of teas in various cancers worldwide is that you can't lump them all together. Green tea is different from black tea, and scalding tea may produce a different effect than tea at a more moderate temperature. Scalding tea may lead to esophageal, gastric and colorectal cancers."
He is working with C.S. Yang, PhD, a basic scientist at the institute and professor of chemical biology at Rutgers University. Yang's in vivo studies in rats found that those given carcinogens tended to develop fewer cancers when they were also given green tea.
The tea contains polyphenols, explains August, substances that seem to reduce the rate of proliferation of mucosal cells of the colon. (There is increased proliferation of these cells when cancer develops.) Polyphenols inhibit arachidonic metabolism, reducing - among other things - prostaglandin levels in the colon mucosa. Aspirin, another inhibitor of prostaglandin synthesis, seems to protect against colon cancer.
When tea is "fermented," it becomes black, losing the polyphenols but developing other substances in the process, notes August. Black tea is preferred in the West and green tea in Asia.
"I believe foods are an important place to look for anticancer agents," he says. "They don't have side effects and aren't toxic. Lipton Tea is funding this research for obvious reasons."
The study is in its infancy, he adds: "We have collected specimens from the gastrointestinal tracts of 10 patients who drank one cup of green tea about 12 hours before having part of their GI tracts removed. And we found signs of increased levels of polyphenols in those specimens. Arachidonic acid metabolism seemed to be suppressed and prostaglandins were not being synthesized."
Now they are enrolling patients at increased risk for colon cancer. "We plan to give them a single dose of green tea, and then biopsy the rectal lining. Due to their increased risk, we expect to find elevated proliferation rates in rectal mucosa, an increased level of prostaglandins and a decrease in the rate of apoptosis, or programmed cell death. Hopefully, the tea will have changed this for the better."
Apoptosis is the way the body destroys defective cells. In cancer there is abnormal cell proliferation and a failure of apoptosis.
A second group, also at risk for colon cancer, will get green tea twice a day for 21 days and undergo the same procedure.
For information on the study call: 908-235-7701.
In January, physicians at UMDNJ-University Hospital performed a rare procedure. They took a portion of a living donor's liver and implanted it in 18-month old Jennifer Rodriguez, of Carteret. Among the 500 such procedures performed worldwide, this was a first for New Jersey.
The surgeons, Baburao Koneru, MD, chief of the hospital's Liver Transplant Program, and Adrian Fisher, MD, are both on the faculty of UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School.
The child, ill from a virus that attacked her liver, faced almost certain death without the transplant. Neither of her parents could be donors, but her uncle, David Rodriguez of Miami, turned out to be a good match.
Surgeons used one of the two lobes of his liver to replace the child's diseased organ. David's liver will expand and Jennifer's will grow with her.
She was discharged from the hospital on February 18 and is doing
If your mother lost all her teeth at 49 and your father had a complete set of dentures at 55, you might assume that it's your inalienable right to follow suit. But with all your other concerns -; from holding on to a job to warding off cancer and heart disease;preventing periodontitis is probably not at the top of your list.
It may be time to reorder your priorities.
Very often gum disease and the ensuing loss of teeth can be both physically and psychologically traumatic. For many, losing teeth seems to portend the deterioration of multiple body parts as well as good looks;a harbinger of old age.
More to the point are the discomfort, potential pain and systemic repercussions of this infection. "Imagine two hundred million bacteria accumulating around a single tooth," says Daniel Fine, DMD, director of UMDNJ -New Jersey Dental School's research center. "We're sometimes battling the equivalent of the world's population in bacteria in one mouth."
Since it's virtually impossible to eradicate all the little bugs, the goal is to reduce their numbers. If the bacteria are winning, Fine says they can cause a break in the skin surface that attaches to the tooth, attack supporting bone and, eventually, loosen the tooth. If the
numbers continue to escalate, and the individual is immune compromised or in a weakened state, the bacteria can escape into the blood, causing a bacteremia, which is sometimes a contributing factor in heart disease, stroke and premature delivery.
So what should you do if your gums are puffy, red, bleeding, sore or generally in sad shape? Fine says that the majority of cases can be successfully treated, and specialists currently use one of two approaches.
The traditional method includes scaling, root planing (a deeper cleaning) and surgically removing tissue to reduce the size of the periodontal pockets that form between the tooth and gums. "The rationale is that if you reduce the pocket and instruct the patient in good oral hygiene, the bacteria will no longer multiply because you're denying them a dark, damp, undisturbed environment in which to hide and grow. It's a sound theory," says Fine, who is also a professor at the Newark school.
Unfortunately, he states, since you can't completely destroy the bacteria, the problem tends to recur, however diligent the brushing, rinsing and flossing routine. Scaling and root planing may remove 90 percent of bacteria, leaving 20 million in the pocket. If these bacteria divide every five to six days, repopulation of the pocket can occur in as little as 20 days.
The infection is only temporarily changed by oral surgery, the periodontist explains, so a susceptible host will require routine maintenance every three months to monitor the pockets, to determine if the problem recurs and if repeat treatments are needed.
The other strategy for battling the bugs is somewhat controversial, says Fine, perhaps because it's relatively new. It involves cleaning the pocket, placing antibiotic fibers into the pocket to heal it, and, in some cases, prescribing a systemic antibiotic to battle any organisms that may have escaped. "The fibers work like an atomic bomb," he says, "obliterating any bacteria remaining after the deep cleaning. Without bacteria in the pocket, the tissue can heal on its own."
Fine states that the antibiotic therapy is not as effective in reducing the size of pockets, but for most of those treated, it will reduce recurrent infections, end pocket deepening and tooth loss, and lessen the need for follow-up treatment. Unlike oral surgery, it's painless.
In 10 to 20 percent of patients, surgery will not work at all, says Fine. "These forms of periodontal disease are caused by specific types of bacteria. One form is called localized juvenile periodontitis," he explains. It occurs in children ages 13 to 18 -; most frequently in black females;and seems to have some genetic basis. Symptoms include rapidly progressing and uncontrollable periodontal infections, threatened loss of the first molars and central incisors, failure to respond to scaling and surgery as well as nonspecific antibiotic therapy, and a family history of tooth loss.
"A small study showed that the provoking bacteria are highly responsive to antibiotic therapy," says Fine. "Identification of the causative bacteria at the earliest stage of infection and initiating tetracycline therapy for three weeks resolved the infection and allowed bone to regenerate. But these kids will always be susceptible to reinfection and will have to be closely monitored."
For this particular group, there is no choice of therapy; the flora must be cultured and a specific antibiotic prescribed. For the other 80 to 90 percent of those plagued with periodontal disease, options now exist and choices must be made.
And just like they say in the retail world: An informed consumer may well end up a happier client.
What was Michael Meyers, NJMS '72, of "Goodbye Columbus" fame, doing on campus last April in a suit and tie? Why was dental student Richard Rosenblatt lying on the floor of the student lounge at noon getting a back massage from masseuse Paula Johnson-Haqq? Who was that debonair guy drinking a nonalcoholic pin~a colada at the NJMS "unbar"? And whose liver were they trying to rescue when they renamed Liver Rounds?
Give up? Well, read on.
Peer counseling and student support groups are staples of undergraduate campus life. An unhappy student without these props may well fail academically, might turn to alcohol and drugs for solace, and could end up another dropout statistic.
Medical and dental school is no different. Students may feel particularly isolated and lonely when they first move to a city such as Newark, attend classes at a commuter campus and go home alone to study, study, study.
So where do medical students turn to find out how to make their way around the area, locate places to relax, arrange for tutoring or to have a car serviced? The Peer Support Program; a mainstay of life at UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School for 15 years and UMDNJ-New Jersey Dental School for seven; has bolstered the spirits of many.
But for those who feel overwhelmed;particularly students tempted to find relief from anxieties with alcohol and drugs; it's not simply a matter of a friendly neighborhood tour. A two-year $106,953 grant from the U.S. Department of Education was awarded in 1993 to Ernesto Amaranto, MD, director of the NJMS Center for Student Mental Health Services, and Zia Shey, DMD, the dental school's dean for student affairs, to include a drug and alcohol abuse initiative in The Peer Support Program. A UMDNJ Foundation grant awarded in 1995 allowed the group to continue its work.
One aspect of the project has been to bring speakers such as Michael Meyers (who played Ali McGraw's brother on screen in 1968) to the campus to speak about his addiction to "booze and pot" in medical school, his "crash from a drug psychosis" in 1981, and his subsequent recovery. Richard Rosenblatt's relaxing massage is part of a series called "Wellness Wednesdays," a monthly lunch-time program dedicated to such topics as stress reduction and nutrition.
The "unbar" serves up frothy unmargaritas and stellar unwhiskey sours at campus get-togethers. And Liver Rounds; originally established as grand rounds on liver disease;had evolved into a beer party. Sporting a new name, it offers good times without emphasizing drinking.
The next step is to infuse alcohol and drug prevention classes into the core curriculum of all five schools on the Newark campus. "Health care providers and practitioners bear the public trust ... a faith that is violated when any member of this group is impaired by substance abuse," says Amaranto.
"We can't really implement a no-alcohol policy, but we can
advocate responsible drinking." top
If necessity is the mother of invention, then mechanical aptitude is a pretty frisky father. Put them together, add a dollop of creativity to the mix and what do you get? Walter Jinotti, 1997 honoree in the New Jersey Inventors Hall of Fame and director of biomedical engineering at UMDNJ -Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. Give him a problem, he'll probably devise a unique solution.
The U.S. Patent Office awarded the inventor 17 patents in the past 20 years;all in the medical field. He lays claim to 60 medical inventions in all. "There's one thing I was born with," he says. "God gave me a gift: I could see the way something was done and know there's a better way."
One of his first;and better known;devices is a blood pump that replaces a pint of lost blood in three minutes. It was inspired by his witnessing the death of an accident victim in the emergency room.
"It took 20 minutes to pump a pint of blood into the patient. It couldn't be done fast enough," he says. "It upset me so much I cried like a baby." That was in 1960. Just in case you think his solutions come to him in one inspired flash, this one took eight years from idea to finished product. The patent was awarded in 1979.
But it's the Vesuvius Pollen Counter that has won him a bit of local renown. Radio, tv and newspapers report the inventor's findings when he samples the air atop Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick. His device provides a more accurate measure of mold spores and pollen because it takes wind into account when computing the numbers.
"Grass pollen is much heavier than ragweed and doesn't travel that far," Jinotti explains. "Tree pollen travels one or two football fields. Ragweed is the real culprit, traveling 3,000 to 5,000 feet in the air." So the next time you can quote the precise numerical equivalent of your allergy misery, thank this man for his machine -; a vast improvement over the other major one in use, which was devised in 1931.
Another coup is the Jinotti catheter system which is used postoperatively to suction bacteria-laden mucus from the lungs and infuse oxygen into the airways. "This can be a life-saver," he says. "You could have the best heart surgeon in the world but go into cardiac arrest following surgery without a device that can handle both these functions without interruption." The patent was granted in 1996.
And Jinotti isn't resting on his laurels. He has 10 inventions in the development stage, five planes that he restores and flies for relaxation, and 150 cars that he works on in his "spare" time, including a Jaguar once owned by Clark Gable and a reconnaissance vehicle formerly used by President Dwight Eisenhower.
For his tinkering on behalf of mankind, Jinotti;who holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Pennsylvania and an honorary doctorate from the University of London;was recognized as a New Jersey Inventor of the Year. The ceremony took place at New Jersey Institute of Technology on February 13.