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Feb 21 2014

NYIT Study: Continuing Medical Education on Genetics Key for Public Health

Old Westbury, N.Y.  (February 21, 2014) — Providing physicians with continuing medical education on genetics could be a key factor in the future health of patients who may have high risks of developing colorectal and breast cancers, according to a team of New York Institute of Technology medical researchers.
Their study, published in Public Health Genomics, found that primary care physicians with continuing medical education training were more likely to know that genetic screening could be enhanced for patients with a hereditary cancer risk and that different screening recommendations would be necessary for those with risks.  
A similar study on breast cancer has been accepted for publication next fall in The Breast Journal
“It seems like common sense but it’s not been documented,” said Bhuma Krishnamachari, Ph.D., assistant dean of research at NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine and a genetics and epidemiology expert (pictured at right). “We found that people really learn the most when they have additional training – and the most important thing is continuing medical education. At the end of the day, this affects the patients.”
In particular, said Krishnamachari, primary care physicians need to recognize which of their patients are at risk for certain cancers, the specific genetic tests they should order, and the proper medical management of cases in which patients have a hereditary cancer mutation. 
“If you fail at this, you could end up with a patient who has cancer that may have been prevented,” she said. “Primary care physicians are crucial -- they’re the first line. What patient is going to go see a GI specialist on their own?”
The American Cancer Society reports that colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related death in the nation and third most commonly diagnosed cancer. In the study on colorectal cancers, the researchers administered a 55-question survey to 140 physicians, including 116 primary care physicians specializing in family practice or internal medicine. Originally, the team hypothesized that a doctor’s association with an academic medical center might result in increased knowledge about hereditary colorectal cancers. But after reviewing surveys, the academic center association was found to make no difference in physicians’ knowledge of genetic risk assessment. 
Krishnamachari said NYIT is planning to launch a series of free, web-based training videos for primary care physicians by the end of the year. The training, she says, will provide the necessary continuing medical education to help doctors recognize potential high risk cases and take the appropriate steps to minimize potential cancer growth.
Academic medical scholars Jason Cohn and Vivian Chan were heavily involved in reviewing literature, analyzing data, drafting the manuscripts for publication, and compiling the components of the medical education videos. 
“We learned how to become student physician researchers, how to write manuscripts for publication, and developed skills to be a part of a professional medical research team,” Cohn said, noting that the study’s findings confirm the need for primary care physicians to pursue continual education for the benefit of their patients.
“It shouldn’t be that just your oncologist knows about these issues,” Chan added. “The knowledge base needs to be accessed by primary care physicians, not only specialists.”
Cohn completed the academic medical scholars program in December. He will participate in upcoming otorhinolaryngology (ear, nose, and throat) surgical rotations at St.  Barnabas, hospitals associated with the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, and Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine. Chan has just begun her work as a scholar in the competitive program. She will spend the next year involved in research and teaching. 
The study’s other authors include:  William Blazey, DO; David Tegay, DO, chair of the department of medicine; Brian Harper, MD, medical director of the Academic Health Care Centers; Sharon Koehler, DO; Brookshield Laurent, DO; Min-Kyung Jung, biostatistician; and Seth Lipka of the department of medicine at Nassau University Medical Center.
About NYIT
New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) offers 90 degree programs, including undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees, in more than 50 fields of study, including architecture and design; arts and sciences; education; engineering and computing sciences; health professions; management; and osteopathic medicine. A non-profit independent, private institution of higher education, NYIT has 13,000 students attending campuses on Long Island and Manhattan, online, and at its global campuses. NYIT sponsors 11 NCAA Division II programs and one Division I team.
Led by President Edward Guiliano, NYIT is guided by its mission to provide career-oriented professional education, offer access to opportunity to all qualified students, and support applications-oriented research that benefits the larger world. To date, more than 95,000 graduates have received degrees from NYIT. For more information, visit
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