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Geisinger Media Tip Sheet

Story ideas and photo opportunities for April:

Dare to donate: In April - National Donate Life Month - don't be surprised to see pins, t-shirts or other paraphernalia emblazoned with the blue and green logo of those very words. That's because more than 120,000 Americans are currently waiting for organ transplants, and April calls special attention to the need for more people to register as donors. In a traumatic situation, the question is always asked, and in 2012 it was answered with almost 30,000 organ transplants and more than 1 million tissue transplants that changed people's lives forever. Geisinger physicians can speak to how these numbers can be even greater if more people registered as donors this month.

Praise the planet: At Geisinger, our number one mission is to save lives. And not far behind that is a mission to help save the planet. On April 22, people around the world join together to celebrate Earth Day and learn how to live greener lives. Geisinger's efforts to decrease its carbon footprint are evident every day with its "green" buildings and other sustainability events such as Community Shred Days and collection of expired or unused medications at its pharmacies.

Decisions, decisions, decisions: Does your family know about the type of care you'd like to receive during a health care crisis? Few people enjoy thinking about needing to make the complicated and emotional decisions that accompany those events. But planning ahead could alleviate some of the burden on your family during a difficult time, and also ensure that the care you receive is what you would have wanted. April 16 is National Health Care Decisions Day, when Geisinger doctors encourage everyone to have a candid conversation with their loved ones about some very important choices - the ones you may not be able to make for yourself someday.

ALT + CTRL + DELETE for the brain: Alert! Your brain needs more RAM. A new theory about forgetfulness suggests that it's not so much memory loss as it is that your brain - much like the hard drive on a computer - is getting full. Talk to a Geisinger expert to get the facts on whether or not your forgetfulness is a senior moment or a reason to boast your everlasting wisdom!

A cancer crisis: By the time someone born this year is finished parallel parking to pass a driver's exam, cancer - not heart disease - will be the most lethal condition in the U.S. This is according to a new report from the American Society of Clinical Oncology that predicts the number of new cancer cases to increase by nearly 45 percent by 2030. Some good news to brighten the grim outlook is that the number of cancer survivors is up to two thirds of those diagnosed as opposed to about half in the 1970s. Geisinger oncologists, who can speak to this study, are part of the movement that's prepared to care for not only more cancer patients but, more importantly, more cancer survivors.

The dark side of dark brown: From prom-goers to those craving just a little bit of color after a never-ending winter, the thought of a tanning bed calling your name might be too much to resist. The danger of skin cancer still looms large, especially in tanning salons, and Geisinger dermatologists, along with hosting several screenings this month, can help you pick a safer alternative to UV ray exposure.

It's electric!: Would you trade 20 minutes a day for fewer migraines each month? The Food and Drug Administration recently approved a nerve-stimulating headband to prevent migraines. The device is a battery-powered plastic band worn across the forehead that emits a low electrical current to stimulate nerves associated with migraine pain. The device is meant to be worn 20 minutes a day or less, and in a 67-person study, participants using the headband reported fewer migraines per month. Geisinger headache specialists have been waiting for a device like this and are eager to spread the news.

Story ideas and photo opportunities for April's Autism Awareness Month.

Autism on the rise? Not so fast: About one in 68 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) according to new estimates from U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network. But contrary to some news reports on the study, researchers from the Geisinger Autism & Developmental Medicine Institute (ADMI) emphasize that autism rates aren't climbing dramatically. ADMI opened last April 25 to expand and integrate clinical services, research, education and family support for children and young adults with neurodevelopmental brain disorders through a multidisciplinary team that includes specialists in neurodevelopmental pediatrics, genomic medicine, psychology, speech-language pathology, radiology and education.

Research revelations: A small study recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine examined brains from children who died and found abnormal patterns of cell growth in autistic children. The research supports evidence that autism begins before birth. Clusters of disorganized brain cells were discovered in tissue samples from brain regions important for regulating social functioning, emotions and communication. Thomas Challman, M.D., FAAP, ADMI medical director and neurodevelopmental pediatrician, has studied the latest treatments and therapies in patients who have developmental disorders and can discuss the findings.

VIP treatment: The Simons Variation in Individuals Project (Simons VIP), sponsored by the Simons Foundation, is a collaborative research initiative with various institutions, including Geisinger, aimed at better understanding the medical, learning and behavioral features of individuals with copy number variations (CNVs) that may be associated with autism or developmental delay. A team of experts collects detailed clinical information from families with CNVs with the hope of understanding the relationship between genetic changes and the brain's development. In addition to the research, Simons VIP Connect, an online community for individuals with CNVs and their families, serves as an online support group, which, along with participant recruitment, is led by Geisinger genetic counselors.

The Fragile X files: The ADMI clinical staff conducts quarterly clinics that focus exclusively on working with families with patients who have fragile X syndrome, the most common inherited cause of intellectual disabilities. The latest one will be held on Monday, April 28. People with fragile X syndrome may show symptoms that include physical differences, intellectual disabilities and behavioral issues such as attention deficits, anxiety and autism. Targeted pharmaceuticals, intervention strategies and support services can maximize potential in individuals with fragile X syndrome. Geisinger is a member of the international Fragile X Clinical and Research Consortium, and ADMI's multidisciplinary team has extensive experience with fragile X.

Whole-genome answers: A study by researchers from Geisinger's Genomic Medicine Institute (GMI) of 75 children or young adults with neurodevelopmental brain disorders conducted whole-genome sequencing (WGS) testing. Lead author Janet Williams, MS, CGC, senior genetic counselor, says preliminary results from the tests are finding causal diagnoses for 25 to 30 percent of the participants. Results will be shared with all the participants' families in the near future. Researchers publish the study in hopes of refining the WGS process in the future.

Life is about the destination: ADMI's work to better understand and treat patients who have autism, intellectual or developmental disabilities, and/or congenital anomalies is starting to attract national interest. Patients from across the country have visited the Geisinger-Bucknell Autism & Developmental Medicine Center in Lewisburg in its first year of operation. ADMI staff members have also been invited to present research related to their work at professional conferences on the national and international stage.

Wendy Wilson, Media Team Director, 570-969-7807,

Central Pennsylvania media, please contact Michael Ferlazzo, 570-214-7410,

Northeastern Pennsylvania media, please contact Matthew Van Stone, 570-808-3652,

State College, Altoona and Schuylkill County media, please contact Susan Baranik, 814-949-0513,