Mass General Research Roundup for July 2016


Study Shows that Mental Overload Dampens Creativity

Does having too much on your mind leave you feeling disconnected and uninspired? You are not alone. A recent study by Mass General researchers suggests that when our minds are in a cluttered state, we have a greater tendency to overlook both the world around us and the full potential of our inner life. The study also found that the capacity for original and creative thinking can be stunted by stray thoughts, obsessive ruminations and other forms of “mental load,” thus limiting our ability to enjoy pleasure.

Clinical Trial will Test Viability of Heart Implant Designed to Synchronize Pumping

Researchers at Mass General will conduct a clinical trial to test a tiny wireless implant for heart failure that could serve as a device of last resort for patients who do not respond to more traditional cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) devices. The device, which is designed to work in conjunction with an existing heart implant, can be attached directly to the wall of the left ventricle, which is responsible for pumping oxygenated blood out to the body.

Patient Navigators Help to Connect Low Income/Ethnic Minority Patients to Cancer Care

A clinical trial conducted by Mass General researchers has found that the use of patient navigators—individuals who assist patients in receiving health care services—may improve comprehensive cancer screening rates among patient populations who are overdue for a screening. Such patients—mostly low-income and ethnic minorities—were contacted by a patient navigator in their own language and provided with education, encouragement and transportation assistance. The study showed that 32 percent of patients contacted by a navigator completed at least one overdue cancer screening, compared to 18 percent in a control group.

Study Identifies Critical Need to Improve Management of Gout

A new Mass General research study highlights a “critical need” to improve the diagnosis and care for patients with gout—a painful but treatable form of arthritis—in the United States and beyond. The researchers found that from the years 1993 to 2011, the number of hospitalizations due to gout increased by 75 percent—and that 89 percent of those hospitalizations could have been preventable with early diagnosis and treatment. On the other hand, the team found that hospitalizations for rheumatoid arthritis decreased over the same period by 67 percent, an improvement attributed to the widespread use of better medication, improved management of the condition and earlier treatment.

Genetics of Type 2 Diabetes Revealed in Greater Detail

Mass General researchers recently participated in the largest genetic study of type 2 diabetes to date. More than 300 scientists from 22 countries collaborated on the project, which analyzed the genomes of over 120,000 people of various ethnic backgrounds. The findings of the research team, which were published in Nature this month, identified several potential new targets for treatment while also underscoring the complexity of the disease. The data from this study has been made publicly accessible to researchers from all over the world with the hope of accelerating efforts to treat this condition.

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Brown Seeks to Change The Way We Think About Anesthesia

Making Popcorn at the Mass General Picnic

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