Author Archives: Cortney Geare

Baltimore’s Technion Connection

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For Dr. Beth Murinson, the smaller classes at Haifa’s Technion are a big plus.

Haifa and Baltimore lie on opposite sides of the ocean. While Baltimore’s harbor shops draw residents on a lazy Sunday afternoon, it is Haifa’s miles of beaches and coastline that bring in the warm-weather crowds. And while Baltimore is home to a generally flat topography, Haifa sits on the edge of the Carmel mountain range and nature reserve.

But it is neither the stunning views nor the vibrant culture that cause a handful of Baltimoreans to make the 16-hour plane ride to Haifa. It is Israel’s oldest university and a world leader in technological innovation, the Technion — Israel Institute of Technology — and the adjacent Rambam Hospital that entices them.

For Tali Bauman, the Technion American Medical School (TeAMS) offers her the chance to fulfill both her dream of living in Israel and her desire to study medicine in English at an American medical school.

In 2006, Bauman graduated from Baltimore’s Yeshivat Rambam with the goal of becoming a physician. She spent a summer volunteering at St. Joseph’s Medical Center as a patient transporter and reveled in the one-on-one time she was able to spend with patients, conversing and comforting them during their time of distress.

“One time I was wheeling an Israeli woman from the emergency room and I was able to comfort her in Hebrew and explain what was happening,” said Bauman. “I was able to make her introduction to the hospital a bit easier, and it was a very formative experience for me, solidifying my desire to study medicine.”

A highlight of the TeAMS program is the close contact students have with patients, because this strengthens the theoretical learning, Bauman explained.

“As a medical student, it is a real honor to be receiving lectures from such outstanding faculty and then be guided through the wards by such knowledgeable attending physicians, who help us convert this knowledge into practice,” she said.

Bauman believes the informal culture in Israel allows her and her fellow students to build closer relationships with leading physicians and lecturers.

“We can email, visit and shadow faculty, and there are ample opportunities to get answers to any questions,” Bauman said.

One such faculty member is fellow Baltimorean and Johns Hopkins associate professor Dr. Beth Murinson, a renowned neurologist and author of numerous research papers and a book on pain. Having made aliyah in 2010, she serves as a curriculum coordinator and student adviser for the TeAMS program.

“Although I was born in Baltimore, my family moved a lot, but with frequent visits to my home town, I became very focused on my dream to study at Johns Hopkins,” said Dr. Murinson. “That dream was realized for my undergraduate studies in mathematics, and while I went to UCLA for graduate school and eventually the University of Maryland for my medical degree, Baltimore beckoned yet again, and I returned to Johns Hopkins for my fellowship.”

She worked as a senior lecturer at University College London, which she attributes to exposing her to new methods of teaching. Since then, Dr. Murinson has published seven articles on teaching medicine and continues to develop new methods of teaching to promote long-term retention, active learning and conceptualization. Dr. Murinson is a highly sought-after pain expert and now manages a busy schedule teaching medical students and residents, practicing neurology and pain medicine and researching new treatments.

When asked about the differences between teaching in Baltimore and in Haifa, Dr. Murinson quickly replied: “I love the smaller classes here. I hope the program doesn’t become a victim of its own success and that the student-teacher ratio is maintained.  It is phenomenal to really get to know each and every student and follow his/her development.”

Following a gap year at seminary in Israel, Bauman’s medical aspirations took hold. She began her
undergraduate degree in biochemistry at the Yeshiva University Stern College for Women and was an active president of the medical ethics society. Bauman both succeeded and relished in taking part in medical research in New York and a humanitarian mission to Nicaragua.

Fellow Baltimorean and TeAMS student Daniel Perlow  similarly racked up international experience prior to his medical studies. During a summer vacation from studying at Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School, Perlow traveled to Ghana on a peace mission with a group of eager teenagers. He has returned six times.

“I recently became godparent to one of my Ghanaian friend’s children, and all the families that I am close to are very excited at the prospect of me becoming a doctor — so much so that the village chief wants me to become the village physician and to present me with my own clinic,” he said.

Following Perlow’s undergraduate degree in chemistry and physics at Muhlenberg College, he spent a year researching diagnostic radiology at the University of Maryland. Most notably, he recalled performing a CT scan on an Egyptian mummy from the Walters Art Museum.

During this period, Perlow’s father, an active member of the Baltimore chapter of the American Technion Society, suggested that his son consider studying medicine at the Technion.nThough he was initially reluctant to travel abroad for medical school, his doubts were soon allayed, given the school’s reputation.

For Perlow, there was an initial culture shock upon arriving in Haifa, but for Bauman, it was this culture that beckoned her to the Technion.

“I knew that in addition to studying medicine, I wanted to be in Israel and study in a very different environment,” explained Bauman. “Here in Haifa you have a heavy immigrant community; it is an incredibly culturally diverse city offering a unique patient population.”

Bauman, like Perlow, was drawn to the Technion’s strong emphasis on research and plans to begin neurology research. She is now close to completing her second year of medical studies and has begun her clinical classes. Explaining how this reaffirms her decision to study medicine, Bauman said, “I love studying medicine and science and incorporating what I have learned into my clinical practice. It makes me realize that this is the profession for me and, more so, that this is the lifestyle I want.”

All three Baltimoreans enhance Baltimore’s and Haifa’s ties, which continue to take root. For many years, there has been a strong connection between the Technion medical school and Johns Hopkins.

Dr. Rafael Beyar, director of Rambam Hospital and former dean of the Technion faculty of medicine, completed part of his training — his cardiology fellowship — and acted as a visiting professor at Johns Hopkins. Additionally, professor Andy Levy, director of the Technion American Medical School, was a Johns Hopkins graduate for both medical school and his residency. Given these ties, new collaborations and research programs are frequently occurring. Just last year, the Baltimore Jewish Times reported on the promising developments of Hopkins-Technion medical research.

With the growing popularity of the Technion American Medical School and the ever-competitive
nature of medical schools on American soil, the number of Baltimoreans choosing to study medicine overseas will continue to rise. Additionally, the number of American physicians joining the Technion as faculty has multiplied over the past decade, and the trend will continue with new appointments to be announced over the summer.

Anna Harwood writes for IMP Media Group.

Collaboration

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Tel Aviv University and Johns Hopkins University are collaborating on medical research and best practices. From left: Professor Tamy Shohat, Professor Jonathan Zenilman, Professor Joseph Mekori, Professor Moyses Szklo and Professor Dani Cohen.

For the second summer in a row, Johns Hopkins University and Tel Aviv University officials are
collaborating to study, discuss and research disease and medicine.

The second annual Summer Institute of Advanced Epidemiology and Preventative Medicine at Tel Aviv University, which started on July 7, is under way until July 26.

“The Summer Institute at TAU develops as a fascinating platform of both study and teaching together advanced methodology and topics of the epidemiology of emerging diseases around the globe,” Daniel Cohen, director of the Tel Aviv University School of Public Health, said via email. “Both faculty and students (graduate students, physicians and researchers) use this platform to share their own professional experience and discuss health-related aspects specific to their countries.”

The relationship between the universities goes back to 2001. Jonathan Zenilman, a professor and chief of the Infectious Diseases Division at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, has worked with Cohen and various TAU professors on epidemiological issues such as sexually transmitted diseases in young adults, enteric diseases in ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities in Israel and the U.S., and bioterrorism and infectious disease preparedness.

In 2005, Zenilman and officials at JHU’s School of Public Health provided consultation to TAU as it
established its own school of public health. Two years ago, Zenilman, Cohen and Tamy Shohat, a professor at TAU’s School of Public Health, established the summer institute, which was first held in 2012.

After a successful program with about 80 participants, more than 100 students, physicians, scholars and health professionals are taking part in this summer’s program, which includes new topics such as chronic disease, tobacco control and food security. Courses will be taught by faculty from JHU, TAU, the University of Maryland, the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, the Pasteur Institute in France, the University of Ghana, the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“What we’re trying to do is try different courses and see what resonates,” Zenilman said.

Thanks to a donor in New York, JHU was able to send four students and residents to the program on scholarships.

The international exchange helps bring a wide range of perspectives to the table. While countries all over the world are dealing with similar environmental issues, there are public health problems specific to the Middle East, Zenilman said. For one, the fly path for the West Nile virus goes directly over the Jordan Valley. In Israel, there are different vaccine issues related to the country’s various micro-environments.

But much like the U.S., Israel is facing high rates of cardiovascular disease, health issues from environmental changes, obesity, tobacco usage and other lifestyle-related health problems.

“To effectively address emerging health challenges, there is a need for public health professionals trained to develop, implement and assess effective strategies to protect and improve the health of communities throughout the world,” Cohen said via email.

In addition to students from JHU and TAU, the program targets physicians and public health officials from Israel and surrounding Middle Eastern countries, as well as scholars, health professionals and students from Eastern Europe and developing countries such as Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania and Kenya.

“Despite the politics, everybody is breathing the same air and drinking the same water,” Zenilman said.

In the future, Zenilman and Cohen hope to expand the program into a study abroad or faculty exchanges for a semester or year, or even joint doctoral programs. But like any program looking to expand, more funding is needed for scholarships and to maintain joint research and education collaborations between JHU, TAU and other academic institutions.

Marc Shapiro is a JT staff reporter mshapiro@jewishtimes.com

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Check it out!

071913_check_it_outThe prospect of getting a crowd of teenagers to pipe down and focus can be a challenging task.

However, when Jill Mull addresses dozens of 11th- and 12th-grade girls, she says it’s quiet enough to hear a pin drop.

Mull is one of several breast cancer survivors who volunteer to speakin front of female high school audiences as a part of Hadassah of Greater Baltimore’s Check It Out program. In its 19th year, the initiative combines the insights of breast cancer survivors and medical professionals to educate and empower girls to take a proactive approach toward breast cancer prevention.

The innovative program has reached more than 140,000 young women in public, private and parochial schools throughout the Greater Baltimore Metropolitan area. Since 1999, the program has also educated more than 30,000 boys about testicular cancer and self-examination.

On Sunday, July 28, Hadassah will host its annual Check It Out Challenge, a run/walk event that raises funds for the organization and its programs.

Organizers and volunteers alike stress that Check It Out is not intended as a scare tactic. Mull said she emphasizes during her talks that 18-year-olds have a one in 25,000 chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer. However, she does accentuate that the onus ison the girls to know their bodies and alert a doctor when something doesn’t feel right. She said that 85 percent of breast cancer patients have no genetic connection to the disease.

“I was taken out of the blue with my breast cancer diagnosis, but you have to be your own advocate,” said Mull, 40, and the immediate past chair of Check It Out.

Listening to real life experiences from a survivor is just the first piece of the puzzle. After the disease is“humanized,” Mull said, the audience is educated on how to conduct a breast exam from a medical professional.

Barbara Berg, a health educator for more than 35 years, said thatthe detailed instruction on how
to examine one’s body is a part of what makes Check It Out such an effective resource.

“My sense is that even though there are pink ribbons and walks for cancer and people talking about breast cancer, young women aren’t necessarily educated about what kinds of things in their own body they should be aware of, and, as they get older, the kinds of things they should [check for],” said Berg, a part-time staffer at Hadassah who also helps oversee the program.

Following the two elements of the program, each student is provided an index card to write down questions that they may feel uncomfortable asking in front of their peers. Additionally, speakers stick around following the presentation to answer questions one-on-one with teens. Each student is also provided with a Check It Out kit that includes a handbag with an evaluation sheet for the presentation and a self-examination checklist. Some years, the kit has also included model breasts for practicing a self-exam.

Perhaps the true sign of Check It Out’s effectiveness is that, aside from technological enhancements here and there, the program has essentially remained the same since its inception. It continues to rely on a committed group of staff and volunteers who are working to ensure that teens are aware that early detection can be the key to saving a life —  maybe their own.

Marsha Oakley has seen the imp-ortance of early detection from both sides. Oakley, the nursing coordinator at Mercy Hospital’s Hoffberger Breast Center, is a two-time breast cancer survivor herself. She’s spoken at Check It Out programs both as a survivor and as a medical professional.

“I have never doubted that I am alive because I found that thing. I use myself as an example that [early detection] works,” Oakley said. “[Through this program] we know people’s lives have been changed.”

Hadassah Check It Out Challenge
Benefiting breast and testicular cancer education programs for Greater Baltimore kids and other local initiatives
8K-5K-1Mile Run/Walk
Sunday, July 28; Goucher College
Cost: $35 before July 26; $40 on race day
Register online at active.com.
For more information, contact baltimore.chapter@hadassah.org or call 410-484-9590.

David Snyder is a JT staff reporter dsnyder@jewishtimes.com

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At Rest

071913_at_restDeath is a complex subject and can evoke an entire spectrum of emotions. It can be hard to deal with at any age, but it can be especially confusing for a youngster.

Loren Walsh, community connections facilitator for Jewish Community Services, aims to help parents talk to their kids about death and dying at a lecture on July 23 at JCS’ Owings Mills office. It’s a tough conversation for some parents, Walsh said, because many are afraid of saying the wrong thing.

Walsh spoke to the Baltimore Jewish Times about how to bring up the topic of death, the importance of honesty in talking about the subject and what parents should and should not do when discussing death with their children.

JT: What are the main points you hope parents will get from your lecture?
Walsh: It’s really important for parents to understand the importance of talking to their children about this topic before it happens, because that can set the stage for a response. … Be honest about what death is because it’s final. You shouldn’t really tell a child so-and-so is going away or so-and-so is going to sleep. For kids, understanding the concept of death is tough.

Is there a good age or time to start this conversation?
It can start as young as you want. Unfortunately, nowadays people experience loss at all different ages. Often, that usually starts with the loss of a pet. Talk to your kids casually. If you see a bug or bird on the ground that may have lost its life, start that discussion. … They can grasp the concept of death as they age.

What if a death happens when a child is very young?
It depends on what the loss is, who the loss is, if it’s a family member versus a childhood friend versus a neighbor. … Give them a choice to go to a funeral. Don’t use door slammers. Don’t say, ‘You’re too young to understand’ or ‘I know just how you feel.’ Give them the opportunity to say what they really feel and don’t shoot it down.

Is it OK to sugarcoat?
I would say no. When people sugarcoat things, it makes it harder for a child to understand as they grow. It really can be more painful in the long run. … The best is just to be honest with your kids about the process and what happens and what death really means, and put it on a developmental level for them. If the kids are really small, crouch down to their level.

What if the child asks about the afterlife?
It really depends on your observation and your belief system. So it’s really more of a personal preference. … The main focus should be we’re not going to see grandma anymore. … For young kids, it’s really hard for them to understand what they might be referencing.

Other than having this discussion, what can parents do to help their children cope with death?
I definitely suggest to parents they minimize the amount of disruptions a death can cause. Keeping a routine and the rituals they have as a family is important. To keep that structure will make them feel safe.

 

Parent Discussion Group Series
How to talk to your child about death and dying
July 23, 6 to 7:30 p.m.
Jewish Community Services
3506 Gwynnbrook Ave.
Owings Mills

For more information, visit jcsbaltimore.org/events/697/parent-discussion-group-series

Charges in Pikesville Shooting Incident Will Be Heard in Circuit Court

Charges against a Baltimore woman accused of harassing and attacking a young Pikesville couple will be heard in Baltimore County Circuit Court in August.

In the District Court of Maryland for Baltimore County on Tuesday, July 16, Judge Robert J. Steinberg granted Stephanie Kamlot a circuit court hearing on August 28.

“The ultimate goal here is to consolidate everything that’s pending,” said Marc Snyder, Kamlot’s lawyer. Her charges include second-degree assault, stalking, harassment, destruction of property, fourth-degree burglary and intimidation, some of which are already being heard in circuit court.

The charges stem from roughly two years of incidents in which Kamlot is alleged to have placed razor blades under Pikesville resident Leah Efron’s car tires, assaulted her at Seven Mile Market and harassed Efron and her husband, Noam, at their former residence in Pickwick Apartments. In May, Kamlot was arrested after allegedly pulling out a handgun replica and throwing a large rock through a window of the Efrons’ home in the 3100 block of Northbrook Road.

On Tuesday, Kamlot wore a beige pantsuit and spoke briefly with her lawyer before the hearing. Snyder does not expect to have a jury trial, and said Kamlot may plead not criminally responsible, which would leave sentencing up to the judge.

“She needs help,” Snyder said. “I don’t think she needs jail.”

Noam Efron was in court Tuesday morning, but left before the hearing upon learning the charges would most likely be heard at a later date. He said it was a delay tactic, noting that sentencing for the Seven Mile Market assault was also delayed, but can see how having all of the charges together would make the process easier.

“As long as she’s in custody, I’m fine with it,” Efron said.