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Apr 03 2012

Faculty Presents Heart, Reflex, and Anatomy Research

Old Westbury, N.Y.  (April 3, 2012) ─ A trio of experts from NYIT’s New York College of Osteopathic Medicine presented varied research on heart disease, body reflexes, and the diversity of scaled reptiles at yesterday’s cross-disciplinary lecture series in Riland Auditiorium.

NYCOM's Chair of Biomedical Sciences A. Martin Gerdes, who last year was awarded a five-year National Institutes of Health grant, posed the question of whether we have ignored an obvious treatment for heart failure:  thyroid hormones.
Heart failure, which is caused when the left ventricle fails to pump enough blood for the body’s needs, is the leading killer and most expensive diagnosis in developed countries.  Gerdes’s work has shown that thyroid dysfunction may contribute to heart disease and heart failure.  However, there have been no long-term studies on using thyroid hormones to treat heart failure.
“What if thyroid hormone treatment of heart failure led to a half trillion dollars in global health care savings?” he asked.  “The time has come for more intelligently designed clinical studies based on an overwhelming body of recent evidence providing new insight into the role of thyroid hormones in heart disease.”
In the second presentation, Isaac Kurtzer, from the department of neuroscience and histology, discussed his research of “smart reflexes” and corrective actions that occur in the simplest of tasks, including sipping a cup of coffee.
Through studies with monkeys and others with humans seated in a special robotic device, Kurtzer’s research showed certain reflexes use global information to help the body make corrective actions involving several joints at once.  The process takes place in a part of the brain called the primary motor cortex.
Kurtzer’s findings were published last fall in the science journal Nature.  Kurtzer is hoping to explore more about the primary motor cortex as it relates to Parkinson’s Disease patients, sports medicine, and the use of osteopathic manipulative medicine.
Anatomy professor Jack Conrad’s presentation focused on his studies of squamates, the group of reptiles that include lizards and snakes, which make up about 30% of land vertebrates.  Some living specimens are small enough to fit on a dime, while some extinct giant marine lizards measured 56 feet long and weighed 15 tons.
“I’m trying to understand the origins of diversity,” said Conrad, explaining the process of using special data bases to create “scores” of anatomical features that are then used to create family trees for a particular class of animals.
“We’re really starting to get a totally different idea of how these groups go together,” Conrad said.  “What we must do is be open to being surprised by nature.” 
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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 14,000 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. 
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