In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

'Informatics' helps doctors unlock medical mysteries in mounds of data

By Dan Browning

Advanced Technology Science As a Art Background from Bigstock

JewishWorldReview.com |

LINNEAPOLIS — (MCT) It's hard to see the future of medicine through the scabs, blisters and scars that torment 7-year-old Charlie Knuth as he makes his way haltingly to a checkup at the University of Minnesota's Amplatz Children's Hospital.

But the boy from Appleton, Wis., is helping doctors perfect a pioneering intervention called gene editing, a procedure that could lend hope to thousands of people suffering from hundreds of diseases — including epidermolysis bullosa, the disorder that causes Charlie's skin to shear off and his eyes to blister.

Charlie's case also illustrates the power of an emerging field called "biomedical and health care informatics" that's beginning to revolutionize every aspect of medicine, from laboratory research to clinical treatments.

The doctors and Ph.D.s helping Charlie — a team that includes scientists at the U, in Massachusetts and in Germany — couldn't have done their work without mining a massive genomic database that enabled them to interpret millions of bits of data in the boy's DNA, according to Dr. Jakub Tolar, director of the U's Stem Cell Institute.

That, in turn, allowed them to cut out a single, defective gene and splice in a correction without damaging side effects.

The procedure, which they described in a recent issue of the journal Molecular Therapy, is part of a larger movement that has medical professionals collaborating with physicists, mathematicians, statisticians, social scientists and computer engineers in an effort to create and mine "Big Data" centers. Much as Google, Facebook and Amazon mine massive amounts of data to discern consumer preferences, these researchers are sifting huge quantities of medical data to diagnose, understand and cure diseases.

The U, Mayo Clinic and several Minnesota businesses are well-positioned to take advantage of the trend. Five years ago, the U launched a special graduate program in Biomedical Informatics and Computational Biology (BICB). Partners include its Twin Cities and Rochester campuses, the Hormel Institute, Mayo, IBM, the National Marrow Donor Program and a brain research center at the Minneapolis Veterans Medical Center. And three years ago the U received a $5.1 million federal grant specifically to train health professionals in informatics.

Biomedical informatics starts from a simple premise: The human body represents a databank of stunning depth and complexity.

By 2015, the average hospital will have nearly 450 terabytes of patient data — most of it in the form of large, complex images from CT scans, MRIs and similar imaging techniques, according to researchers at IBM and Wayne State University.

Beyond that are myriad other digital streams that could be tapped, such as Facebook and Twitter posts, which have proved useful in epidemiological studies, or monitoring devices such as Microsoft Kinect, which is being studied to understand movement disorders such as Parkinson's disease.

And the stock of digital data will roughly double in volume every two years, according to a recent study sponsored by EMC Corp., a Massachusetts data storage and computing company.

Yet only a small fraction of existing data has been analyzed, which creates a huge job growth opportunity.

"We go from data to information, to knowledge to wisdom," Tolar said. "And unless we have a very systematic way of looking at the data, we will not only lose a lot of the information, but also, we will do harm, in my opinion."

The Obama administration put up $200 million last year for an initiative to improve medical care and cut costs by mining the growing stores of health data. At the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a program called Big Data to Knowledge (BD2K), underwrites projects such as mapping every neuron connection in the brain and large-scale genome sequencing of cancerous tumors.

"The goal is to develop new tools to analyze, organize and standardize all this data, so that it is easy for scientists to share and access," NIH director Dr. Francis Collins explained.


Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". In addition to INSPIRING stories, HUNDREDS of columnists and cartoonists regularly appear. Sign up for the daily update. It's free. Just click here.

Connie Delaney, dean of the U's School of Nursing in Minneapolis and acting director of the Institute for Health Informatics, says the application of data mining to health care represents "a fundamental paradigm shift" that affects every scientific discipline and requires unprecedented collaboration to tap the breadth of skills required.

The U's new BICB graduate program has 50 students enrolled; more than half are health care professionals who've recognized the need to acquire data analysis skills, said Claudia Neuhauser, a distinguished mathematician who directs the program. Massive data sets require new tools of analysis, like the predictive modeling that Amazon uses to recommend certain books to customers, she said.

Biologists, she said, should learn "enough of the quantitative tools that they can analyze the data in a meaningful way," Neuhauser said. "The onus is on (us) to develop ways of teaching so that biologists can fruitfully use the tools."

In the past, scientists started with a hypothesis, then collected and analyzed the data to test the question that they asked, Neuhauser said; now they wade into massive data sets they already have, looking for ways to optimize treatment.

Analyzing the 3 billion base pairs of four letters that make up the human genome may seem complicated enough, but even more challenging, she said, "is the whole imaging piece." Digital images from scans and high-tech processes like X-ray crystallography require huge databanks. And they are difficult to link to other data types, Neuhauser said.

But electronic health records are already being analyzed to ensure that patient care is cost-effective, said Bonnie Westra, a former software company founder who coordinates the informatics specialty within the U's Twin Cities nursing program.

One study of 500,000 patients proved that certified nurses "absolutely" make a difference in the quality of care for patients suffering from incontinence, pressure ulcers and surgical wounds, she said. The same database is now being mined for ways to predict which patients are likely to be readmitted after being released from a hospital.

In Charlie Knuth's case, Big Data helped unlock the genetic code so that researchers could use molecular scissors to precisely cut out a single letter in his faulty genome and replace it with the correct one. Mark J. Osborn, an assistant professor at the U's Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplant Center, was the lead author in a recent peer-reviewed article in the journal Molecular Therapy describing the procedure.

The result: For the first time, Charlie's skin cells began producing the "Type VII collagen" fibers that act like Velcro to anchor the skin in place.

Tolar said his team used the "heavy guns" of biomedical informatics and an advanced German genomics databank to demonstrate that the procedure would meet federal clinical standards as effective and safe. He now plans to seek approval to try it in humans.

"What I'm engaging is the DNA repair system that's already operational in the cell," Tolar said. "I'm just offering it some tools to repair itself, and that's why it's efficacious, right? Because most elegant things come from nature."

Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Interested in a private Judaic studies instructor — for free? Let us know by clicking here.

Comment by clicking here.

© 2013, Star Tribune (Minneapolis). Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.