Experts available to discuss Carl Paladino's personal attacks, new breast cancer research, McDonald's health plan and adult stem cell research

Release Date: October 12, 2010

University at Buffalo faculty experts are available to comment on the following topics: How New York State gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino's personal attacks are affecting his chances, how a breast cancer diagnosis changes self-concept, McDonald's health plan from the worker's perspective and the promise of adult (non-embryonic) stem cells.

The thoughts of the UB faculty members are summarized below. For more information or to search the university's Newstips blog, go to the Newstips Web site.

Paladino can be angry but not out of control

In the Siena Poll, 61 percent of those surveyed called Paladino a "loose cannon" who didn't have the temperament to run the state.

Carl Paladino's personal attacks are a mistake, says University at Buffalo political scientist James Campbell.

"He has to stay strictly on message and say that he's not mad at Cuomo for having an (unsubstantiated) affair . . ., he's mad at him for being part of the Albany establishment that got the state in a fiscal mess," Campbell says.

Campbell can be reached by phone at (716) 645-8452 or by email at James Campbell.

Thoughts matter after a breast cancer diagnosis

University at Buffalo assistant professor of nursing, Robin Lally, PhD, RN, focuses her research on women's reactions in the early days after the initial diagnosis of breast cancer. Very few researchers have even taken the time to talk to women about this.

Lally's latest study describes the ways women move from becoming a "breast cancer patient" immediately after diagnosis to integrating cancer into their understanding of themselves.

"The effect of a cancer diagnosis on a woman's self concept is not something that health care providers often consider when they are focused on the physical aspects of the disease and treatment early after diagnosis," Lally says.

Essentially, Lally says, women will work through a period of internal reflection about how breast cancer will affect them and those around them ("I have something that others dread"), to taking control of their immediate environments (reducing negative thoughts and using distraction) to incorporating cancer into their lives and contemplating the future.

"These women should know they are not alone in their thinking, that their initial thoughts are not abnormal; they are shared by others in the early days after being diagnosed," Lally says.

Lally can be reached by phone at (716) 829-2137 or by email at Robin Lally.

McDonald's mini health plan is adequate for most

Amid rumors that McDonald's Corp. could drop its "mini-med" health plan (which McDonald's denies will happen), Jerry Newman, SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor and chair of the Department of Organization and Human Resources in the University at Buffalo School of Management says that McDonald's existing health coverage works for the vast majority of its employees.

Newman, author of "My Secret Life on the McJob," which details his experiences as an undercover fast-food worker, says, "McDonald's people strategy depends on attracting more mature workers who are less likely to turn over," Newman says. "These folks need and want health insurance."

"McDonald's provides a good mini plan that is sufficient for over 90 percent of their covered workers," Newman says. "In other words, they don't hit plan maximums."

Newman can be reached by phone at (716) 645-3238 or by email at Jerry Newman.

Adult stems cells—not embryonic—show more promise

Te-Chung Lee, associate professor of biochemistry and biomedical engineering shares a secret: scientists working on stem cell therapies have made a lot more progress using adult stem cells than using embryonic stem cells, he says.

"Embryonic stem cells are great for researchers studying developmental biology, or for researchers who are trying to understand congenital disease," Lee says. "But if you look at therapeutic studies, the majority of them are done using adult stem cells. The most important reason for this is that embryonic stem cells can form tumors after implantation."

Adult stem cells hold promise for treating problems including heart disease, diabetes, and immune and neurodegenerative disorders, Lee says.

His research team recently discovered a way to engineer mesenchymal stem cells that grow continuously in culture. He explains that the discovery represents a major advancement because it creates a stable supply of stem cells for treatments and research. Traditionally, he says, the difficulty of obtaining and growing quality adult stem cells in culture has been a barrier to developing cost-effective therapies.

Lee's team has also demonstrated that it is possible to use stem cells to treat disease without injecting the cells directly into an organ requiring repair. In one study, Lee and collaborators were able to reverse heart failure in rodents by injecting mesenchymal stem cells into the skeletal muscle of the animals' limbs – instead of into the heart muscle. Lee explains that once the stem cells were in the body, they released growth factors that traveled to the heart and stimulated cells there to function and grow.

"Stem cell delivery for heart repair through conventional intracoronary infusion or intramyocardial injection can introduce serious side effects to the heart, and these invasive delivery approaches cannot be easily or routinely performed," Lee says. "Our work undertakes a novel approach to address these critical issues by exploring direct intramuscular injection of mesenchymal stem cells."

Lee can be reached by phone at (716) 829-3106 or by email at Te-Chung Lee.

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