‘Burgers and genes’ changing medicine

Times Union, Albany, NY
May 28 2004

‘Burgers and genes’ changing medicine

Saratoga Springs–Medical school graduates told new challenges await

By RICK KARLIN, Staff writer

Tomorrow’s physicians are entering an era in which “the distinction
between illusion and reality is blurred,” Nobel laureate Dr. Joseph
Goldstein told the 168 graduates of Albany Medical College on

His point was that the pace of progress in medicine is growing so
swiftly that technologies which couldn’t even be imagined years ago
are almost upon us.


The Center Of It All

We have information on
Arts, Culture, Sports
and Entertainment

– Learn more –

Within a decade, maybe even in six years, Goldstein predicted, it’s
possible that people will be able to visit their corner drug store
and order up their own personal “genomes,” or genetic profiles, which
they can put on CDs and bring to their doctors. The physicians,
presumably including some of Thursday’s graduates, may then be able
to predict the odds that a patient may get certain types of cancer,
heart disease or other ailments.

That’s all the more amazing, he said, when one considers that the
field of genetics, and the link between genes and many diseases,
barely existed in the 1960s when Goldstein was a medical student.

Goldstein, who won the 1985 Nobel prize and the 2003 Albany Medical
Center prize for his research into how cholesterol accumulates in the
bloodstream, gave the address at the medical college’s 166th
commencement exercise, held at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center.

Medicine since the 1960s has been transformed by “burgers, chips and
genes,” said Goldstein.

The “burgers” referred to the rise of McDonald’s and the fast food
industry which has transformed the eating habits — and cholesterol
levels — of much of the nation, explained Goldstein.

“Chips” are the silicon microchips which have enabled the rapid
digitization of medicine as well as the rest of society.

“Genes,” of course, mark the revolution in genetics which could lead
to the on-demand CDs. Technology wasn’t the only aspect of medicine
that has changed over the years, according to Thursday’s speakers.

Among the changes are what Albany Medical College Dean Dr. Vincent
Verdile termed one of the “disturbing trends,” in which
pharmaceutical firms are sponsoring an ever-growing percentage of new
drug studies.

Those studies are also leading to more and more favorable outcomes,
noted Verdile who warned the newly minted physicians to be cognizant
of that trend.

The medical school graduates, who were heading to various residency
programs nationwide, seemed to be well aware of the rapid changes in
their field. “Things will always keep changing, hopefully for the
better,” said Ken Ofordome, who came to the college from Nigeria via
California and who is planning on a career as a urologist.

Siranush Yegiyants, a native of Armenia who has also lived in
California, said she expects the continued growth of managed care to
have a greater impact on her chosen specialty of plastic surgery.
“I’m definitely going to be affected by HMOs,” she said.

Jonathan Gainor of Voorheesville grew up hearing about how medicine
has changed.

His uncle, Barry Gainor, is a physician and professor at the
University of Missouri and grandfather John Gainor was a well-known
Albany-area doctor.

“He made a special impact on their lives,” the younger Gainor said of
his grandfather who would make as many as 18 house calls in a day.

“Can you imagine going to 18 houses in one day?” mused Barry Gainor,
who was back in the Capital Region for his nephew Jonathan Gainor’s
commencement. Those days, of course, are gone he said, adding,
“Everything changes and you have to adapt.”

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress


Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS