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Evanston Northwestern Healthcare Ranked #9 in the Nation Among Comprehensive Independent Research Hospitals

 Research Institute

Research Institute

1/15/2008 - Data released recently by the National Institutes of Health places Evanston Northwestern Healthcare as the #9 Comprehensive Independent Hospital in the nation.

“This is a significant accomplishment for our physician-scientists, especially recognizing our Research Institute was not formed until late in 1996,” said Evanston Northwestern Healthcare President and CEO Mark R. Neaman. “We are thankful for the support and leadership that has allowed us to achieve such a notable success that directly supports our mission to ‘preserve and improve human life.’”

At the state level, ENH is again the #1 ranked Independent Research Hospital in the entire state of Illinois. Nationwide, over 3,000 institutions of all types and sizes receive NIH funding, including universities, research institutes, medical schools and hospitals.  With over $22 million per year in NIH grants, ENH is also in the top five percent of all institutions receiving NIH funds. These rankings are for the Fiscal Year ending Sept. 30, 2006.

The ENH Research Institute, founded in 1996, serves as the research arm of Evanston Northwestern Healthcare, a fully integrated, multi-hospital healthcare system serving northern metropolitan Chicago. Affiliation with Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, and the university's basic sciences and biomedical engineering departments, creates a dynamic environment where the best and brightest clinical and scientific minds collaborate and innovate.

The Institute has achieved national renown for its clear focus on clinical and "translational" research -- research that renders laboratory findings directly into advancements in patient care. For example, the research of Joseph Bass, MD, assistant professor of medicine and neurobiology and physiology at Northwestern University and head of the division of endocrinology and metabolism at ENH, is internationally renowned for his discoveries in diet and circadian rhythms. Dr. Bass’ study has shown that obesity alters the core mechanism of the body clock, throwing off the timing of internal signals, including appetite control, critical for good health. Animals on a high-fat diet gained weight and suddenly exhibited a disruption in their circadian clocks, eating extra calories during the time they should have been asleep or at rest.

The study was published in the Nov. 7 issue of the journal Cell Metabolism, and shows that changes in metabolic state associated with obesity and diabetes not only affects the circadian rhythms of behavior but also of physiology. Probing beyond the behavioral level, the researchers observed actual changes in genes that encode the clock in the brain and in peripheral tissues (such as fat), resulting in diminished expression of those genes.

“Our study was simple -- to determine if food itself can alter the clock,” said Bass, senior author of the paper. “The answer is yes, alterations in feeding affect timing. We found that as an animal on a high-fat diet gains weight it eats at the inappropriate time for its sleep/wake cycle -- all of the excess calories are consumed when the animal should be resting. For a human, that would be like raiding the refrigerator in the middle of the night and binging on junk food.”

Ted Feldman, MD, Director of Cardiac Catheterization at Evanston Northwestern Healthcare has performed the first implants of the WATCHMAN® left atrial appendage system for patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) who require blood thinning medications to reduce their risk of stroke.  Evanston Northwestern Healthcare is one of 60 centers in the world involved in the PROTECT AF clinical trial which is a large randomized trial studying the effectiveness of the WATCHMAN® technology versus warfarin therapy.

The research of Hemant Roy, MD, ENH gastroenterologist and associate professor at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, tests a powerful new light technology that provides information about objects 20 to 50 times smaller than what conventional microscopy can provide – and allows researchers to detect the beginning stages of colon cancer. Tiny but potentially fatal flaws can make the difference between life and death.

“This study will enable us to detect subtle changes in the micro architecture of precancerous colon cells at far earlier stages than current technology allows,” said Dr. Roy, a gastroenterologist. “The findings may have major clinical applications because they could lead to the introduction of a reliable screening tool that allows doctors to identify individuals at increased risk for colorectal cancer and to reduce their risk with regular colonoscopic screening.” This technology also may enable doctors to identify individuals at low risk who may not require regular colorectal cancer screening.

Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. When it is detected early, however, it is highly preventable and curable. Researchers agree that developing improved  screening methods capable of identifying precancerous changes in what appear to be normal cells are urgently needed because they could reduce not only the mortality rate from this deadly disease but also could prevent patients from developing it in the first place. Current screening tests are not sensitive enough to detect the earliest stages of cancer. In addition, most people at risk for the disease, such as adults over the age of 50, do not comply with current screening recommendations.

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