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Molecules to Medicine

Molecules to Medicine

Demystifying drug development, clinical research, medicine, and the role ethics plays

Welcome to Molecules to Medicine!

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I’m Dr. Judy Stone, an infectious diseases physician and author. I love helping people understand issues and look at things from a different perspective. I hope I can offer you some different insights—bridging the gap between basic science and your medicine chest—as I am still a practicing physician, as well as having had broad clinical research experience. I'm interested in developing new medicines and treatments, as well as in caring for patients—and in explaining these topics for you.

Why read my blog, Molecules to Medicine?

Being both a clinician and from having experienced research from a variety of angles, I offer a unique perspective—a view from the trenches. I have participated in clinical trials since college and have been a patient in a clinical research center. I conducted bench and clinical research during my infectious disease fellowship, for which I designed and oversaw my first clinical trial (with mentoring, of course). I wrote a how-to handbook on clinical research, Conducting Clinical Research: A Practical Guide… In all, I have had over 25 years experience in conducting clinical trials and even more caring for my patients.

My medical training was a bit rocky, as I followed the adage, “Question authority.” I was always in trouble for asking provocative questions or looking at things in an unorthodox fashion…I still do, as you will soon see in my column.

{City of Cumberland, http://www.ci.cumberland....When I was recruited to practice in rural Cumberland, Maryland, there was no infectious disease specialist on the eastern side of the Appalachian Mountains within almost 150 miles. I wanted to practice in such an underserved area.

Infectious diseases, a specialty that spans all ages of patients and that involves being a sleuth and puzzling things out, immediately captivated me. I chose infectious diseases as my niche, initially thinking that this would be a relatively cheery and gratifying specialty—that I would be able to sprinkle antibiotics on patients and have them rapidly recover from their grave illnesses. Instead, the specialty has increasingly evolved to caring for critically ill patients, many of whom are immunocompromised by cancer, organ transplantation, kidney failure, or trauma or by treatments for these conditions. Additionally, we are seeing the rapid emergence of “superbugs,” bacteria that are resistant to most, if not all, antibiotics. And we rely all too frequently on high-tech solutions rather than listening, sleuthing, and hands-on caring.

Old postcards and a magnifying glass.As a consultant physician, I am asked by primary care physicians to step in and help solve problems when a patient is not responding as expected, or appears to have an unusual problem. I take a careful, often more detailed history (I have the luxury of more time), review piles of lab results and prior medications (many fevers are due to medicines, not infection), and try to place all these pieces in context. Infectious disease practice is a bit like playing Sherlock Holmes—relying on observation, studying, deduction, and explanation.

Since I started practice, discovery of new infectious diseases occurs regularly—AIDS was not recognized when I started, let alone Hanta, Legionnaires, SARS, or many others. With each discovery, attempts to develop effective therapies soon follow.

As medicine has evolved, so have my interests. For example, having become fascinated by tropical diseases, I’ve spent short periods of time studying and teaching in Peru, Thailand, and India—something I hope to be able to do more of. I have also become increasingly interested in health disparities, social justice issues, and ethics. I hope you’ll join me as we explore a variety of territories. I hope that reading these posts will encourage your will to learn, to engage and, above all, to work for the forces of good.

Fine points

If there are topics you hope to see me cover, please let me know—I welcome your input as to what you would like us to discuss in this column.

Comments

Disagreeing with my positions is fine, but I do have the expectation that you will be civilized and constructive in comments. If not, comments will be deleted. Also, please remember that I still take care of patients and they are, of course, my priority. So there might be a delay before your comment is moderated and posted.

Addendum:

Some material in my posts, largely those on the basics of clinical research, will be adapted from my book, Conducting Clinical Research: A Practical Guide for Physicians, Nurses, Study Coordinators, and Investigators.

Credits

Thank you to the Scientific American community for welcoming me into your family. I am honored. Thanks, too, to Michelle Banks (@artologica) for capturing my blog’s persona so warmly in the banner she created.

Molecules to Medicine blog banner © Michele Banks

City of Cumberland {http://www.ci.cumberland.md.us} (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Old postcards and a magnifying glass. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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