Health Scan: New Israeli medical journal – online and free

Maimonides probably would have been pleased to know that Rambam Medical Center in Haifa has named its free, online, English-language medical journal for him.

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August 22, 2010 05:07
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maimonides 311. (photo credit: courtesy)

Maimonides (Moshe, the son of Maimon, or the Rambam by acronym) – the great Jewish rabbi and philosopher of the Middle Ages who was also a very gifted, self-taught physician in Egypt – probably would have been pleased to know that Rambam Medical Center in Haifa has named its free, online, English-language medical journal for him. Called the Rambam Maimonides Medical Journal, it appears at www.rmmj.org.il and is edited by the hospital’s leading neonatologist, Prof. Shraga Blazer.

The idea for the journal has been in the air for a decade, said Blazer. “We want to transmit medicine with emotion and compassion.

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The idea is to make medicine accessible to the general public.”

Only the first issue was printed – on high-quality, shiny paper. From now on, it will appear only on the Internet – for all to read.

Medical center director-general (and journal associate editor) Prof. Rafael Beyar writes in his introduction that the journal will present “high-quality scientific publications that represent a combination of medicine, healing, research and education,” all of which were “held dear by the Rambam in the 11th century. RMMJ has been instituted... to expand our knowledge and pass on the legacy of medicine to future generations.”

Although there is no subscription fee, the journal is based on peer review by experts in the article writers’ respective fields. The list of Israeli associate and deputy editors, all of them from Rambam Medical Center and the Technion, is followed by an extensive listing of editorial board members from Israel and around the world.

The impressive first edition includes “Science as an Adventure – Lessons for the Young Scientist” by the Technion’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry laureate, Prof. Avram Hershko; a biographical article on Maimonides by Prof. Fred Rosner of New York’s Mount Sinai School of Medicine; and scientific articles on the Technion-developed Parkinson’s drug rasagiline, hepatitis C infection, kidney disease from diabetes and human evolution.

At a special session of the Knesset Science and Technology Committee held to mark the publication of RMMJ, committee chairman MK Meir Sheetrit said he was pleased that the journal will be online four times a year and easily accessible around the world. Beyar, a prominent invasive cardiologist, added that “until now, Israel has learned from journals from the world. The time has come that the world learns from Israeli journals.”

The Israel Medical Association already published a for subscription print journal called IMAJ, which recently marked its 10th anniversary.

A WARNING ALERT FROM THE WOMB Hindy Gross, a Petah Tikva woman whose husband, Azriel, is a medic for United Hatzalah, was having an uneventful pregnancy until her fetus raised her hand and issued an alert. While tests had revealed that neither the baby nor mother were in distress, the hand from inside the womb was waving a warning sign. There was a seven centimeter- long blood clot that appeared clasped by the fetus’s tiny hand as if she were waving it at the screen.

Dr. Ynon Gilboa marveled at the in-utero performance and ordered a second more definitive scan. The doctors realized they had to perform an operation that threatened the life of both the mother and the fetus.

Azriel was responding to an emergency call of a young boy injured at the nearby water park when the call came in of the results of the second scan. Azriel finished treating the frightened young boy, hopped on his ambucycle and raced through traffic back to the hospital. The doctors removed the blood clot and realized that it was apparently the result of a freshly ruptured placenta, which is a life threatening complication. The healthy baby was delivered and described by his United Hatzalah colleagues as “The Youngest Lifesaver.”

MALE RISK OF BREAST CANCER Women are not the only ones who get breast cancer, whether genetic or not. Now the Journal of Medical Genetics has published a study showing that men who carry a defective BRCA2 gene have a one-in-15 risk of getting breast cancer by the age of 70. Women who carry the faulty gene have a significantly higher risk of developing breast cancer – and often at a young age. But it has not been clear until now whether men are susceptible, largely because few studies have been carried out, and published research has been based on retrospective data. The new study was based on both retrospective and prospective data from 321 families with a faulty BRCA2 gene who were identified at two genetic centers serving a population of around 10 million people in Manchester and Birmingham in England.

Twenty men among the 321 families had developed breast cancer between the ages of 29 and 79, and there were a total of 905 first-degree male relatives (parents or siblings) of known BRCA2 carriers. Among these first degree relatives, 16 men (2 percent) had developed the disease. Eight further cases of breast cancer occurred in second-degree relatives, two of whom were also BRCA2 carriers.

On the basis of these figures, the lifetime risk of developing breast cancer in men by the age of 70 is one in 15 (7.1%), and one in 12 (8.4%) by the age of 80. And on the basis of all the research published on the risks of breast cancer in men with a faulty BRCA2 gene, the authors suggest that men in the West have a lifetime risk of between 6% and 9%. “These risks are sufficient to increase awareness of breast cancer among men in BRCA2 families and to stress the importance of early presentation with breast cancer symptoms,” conclude the authors.


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