UTMB News Articles

  • Health and wellness with UTMB Health and Houston Moms

    Mommy Makeovers 101

    UTMB experts Dr. Kathleen Kroger and Dr. Linda Phillips discuss all the surgical and non-surgical options for moms looking to have some cosmetic work done.

  • How dengue and Zika infections could make people more attractive to mosquitoes

    A study, published in Cell, identifies a specific scent emitted from both Zika- and dengue-infected mice that makes them more attractive to mosquitos than those without the viruses. It also points to a potential route to neutralize the olfactory flag. “This is a highly, highly influential study,” said Nikolaos Vasilakis, a professor of pathology at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston who was not involved with the research. “I’m pretty sure it’s going to foster or spin off several new lines of experimentation to get a better understanding of what’s happening in humans.”

  • Learning to apologize is one of the keys to building healthy relationships

    Dr. Jeff Temple, who spoke about violence on the NPR program 1A, is a professor at The University of Texas Medical Branch where he serves as the Vice Dean for Research at the School of Nursing. He is the founding director of the Center for Violence Prevention there. He said without hesitation that he would prioritize the importance of schools and communities teaching the essential human skill of how to create healthy relationships. He said passionately, “We teach our children how to dribble a basketball or do math or read literature, but we do not teach them how to be in a relationship.” He believes universal implementation of the program reduces the likelihood that a student falls through the cracks and, as a bonus, kids not at risk for violence will learn important skills to be healthier and happier.

  • What to know about young children and COVID vaccines

    After a long wait, the FDA issued an Emergency Use Authorization for COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 6 months to 5 years old. Shortly thereafter, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended them for this age group regardless of whether they have had COVID-19. Drs. Megan Berman and Richard Rupp answer some common questions about the vaccines for young children in the Vaccine Smarts column.

  • Palliative and hospice care often are misunderstood

    Hospice is comfort care without curative intent. The patient no longer has curative options or has chosen not to pursue treatment because the side effects outweigh the benefits. Palliative care is comfort care with or without curative intent. Drs. Victor S. Sierpina and Rebecca Burke explain the differences.

  • Genome sequencing can teach us about our cousins, the Neanderthals

    Neanderthals lived on Earth from about half a million years ago until about 12,000 years ago. They co-existed and interbred with humans as they spread out of Africa across Europe and Asia. Researchers think Neanderthal brains matured faster, which helped survival, but human brains developed slower, which helped them develop societies. Drs. Norbert Herzog and David Niesel discuss the research on one gene that might explain why humans dominated their cousins.

  • Very young eligible for COVID vaccines, but will parents in Galveston County sign up?

    Although some people are eager to vaccinate their children, health care workers might have a hard time convincing parents to get the vaccine for their children, said Dr. Janak Patel, director of infection control and health care epidemiology at the medical branch. Many people believe children don’t get sick from COVID and so don’t need to be vaccinated, he said. “We’ve had many, many children infected with COVID in the past two years,” Patel said. “Some have not survived. Some have developed complications. We also know children take the infection to high-risk parents and grandparents.”

  • Texas health organizations addressing ongoing physician burnout from pandemic

    A recent study by the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) revealed that physician burnout on a national scale is increasing the frequency of premature retirement and attrition rates. “Effective solutions should target continued research and collective accountability at both individual physician and HCO levels with an amalgam of authentic, servant, and transformational leadership to fulfill healthcare’s mission as articulated by the Institute of Medicine in providing ‘safe, effective, patient-centered, timely, efficient and equitable,’ patient care while meeting the needs of all other stakeholders,” wrote Dr. Anish Bhardwaj, chair of the Department of Neurology at UTMB.

  • How to determine if you may be experiencing Long COVID

    Unfortunately, there isn't a single test or factor of determination that healthcare providers can turn to for diagnosing someone with Long COVID symptoms. Currently, healthcare providers are often backtracking with patients to document and pinpoint lingering or recurrent symptoms after an initial SARS-CoV-2 infection; it's the main method of determining if someone may be experiencing Long COVID, explains Pei-Yong Shi, M.D., a molecular biology professor at the University of Texas Medical Branch who is currently leading clinical COVID-19 vaccine research, among other fronts. “We currently don't have any tests to diagnose Long COVID conditions; [these] patients may have a wide variety of symptoms that could stem from other health problems,” he tells Good Housekeeping. “This can make it difficult for healthcare providers to recognize Long COVID conditions.”

  • Drug discovery partnership awarded $56 million

    The University of Texas Medical Branch has won a $56 million grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to combat three major classes of viruses with pandemic potential. The funds will allow UTMB and partner Novartis to establish an Antiviral Drug Discovery Center for Pathogens of Pandemic Concern to focus on coronavirus, flavivirus and henipavirus. “We must prepare for the next pandemic by working together across governmental, non-governmental, academic and private sectors to develop an arsenal of countermeasures,” said Dr. Pei-Yong Shi, a professor in the department of biochemistry and molecular biology and one of the leaders of the partnership. The San Antonio Express-News also reported this news.

  • Don’t lose sleep over monkeypox

    Human cases regularly occur in Africa but what has caught the media’s attention is that cases are spreading worldwide. Considering COVID-19, this may seem worrisome but monkeypox is not worth losing sleep over. Drs. Megan Berman and Richard Rupp explain why.

  • Be careful around lawn mowers

    The American Academy of Pediatrics reports approximately 9,000 children a year are treated for lawn mower-related injuries. Many of these injuries occur in older children and teens. However, small children are at risk of injury also. Dr. Sally Robinson advises safety.

  • Vaccines still powerful tools despite challenges

    ew vaccines are being developed all the time, as witnessed by the COVID vaccines and the just released Prevnar 20 for prevention of pneumococcal pneumonia and a PCV 15 for kids. While it is a “one-and-done” vaccines, boosters are needed for other vaccines such as COVID. Dr. Victor S. Sierpina writes about it in his column.

  • Take it easy on the energy drinks

    At morning lectures, many students in the lecture hall have an energy drink in front of them. But a report that one young man may have developed heart failure from his habit of consuming an average of four energy drinks per day may cause concern. Drs. Norbert Herzog and David Niesel discuss this case. Fill those water bottles.

  • DNA from plague victims’ teeth may unravel the origin of Black Death

    A 14th-century pandemic may have started in Central Asia. New findings suggest that the ancestor of the Black Death strain showed up considerably later than previous work has indicated, said Vladimir Motin, a microbiologist at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston who studies Y. pestis. Earlier studies suggested it caused local outbreaks in Asia for at least a century, he said. “Right now it’s a good hypothesis; is it true or not, I don’t know,” he said. “But it’s definitely an interesting question which we should take into consideration.”

  • Private COVID testing stymies scientific tracking in Galveston County

    Hospitalizations in Galveston County have gone up in the past month, but aren’t anywhere near an unmanageable level, said Dr. Janak Patel, director of infection control and health care epidemiology at the University of Texas Medical Branch. It's not time to worry, but Patel said people should take proper precautions. “Let’s just live for the moment, do the best practices that we already know.”

  • Playing outside still needs supervision

    “The first rule is making sure the boundaries are secure and hopefully fenced,” wrote Dr. Sally Robinson. “Children should be taught to stay within the boundaries and not to wander off, but children also need a responsible person to supervise outdoor play so they don’t get hurt. Always supervise children on trampolines and provide constant touch supervision around pools and other bodies of water.”