Health Journalism 2009: Field Trips

Health Journalism 2009
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You can sign up for one of our daylong field trips on Thursday, April 16. Both tours will include lunch. Buses will load at 8 a.m. and return to hotel by 5 p.m.

Field trips always fill up quickly so we encourage you to sign up right away - look for the field trip options on the conference registration forms.

The cardiac catheterization lab at Seattle Children's.

The cardiac catheterization lab at Seattle Children's.

Tour One

NOTE: This field trip is now full. You can sign up to be on a wait list when you register for the conference. 

Cardiac procedure for children

Watch a procedure in progress. Cardiac catheterization is the new frontier for treating heart defects in children, providing a high-tech and less-invasive alternative to open-heart surgery for many conditions, resulting in less pain and shorter recovery time for patients. Seattle Children’s Hospital’s was one of the first hospitals in the United States to establish a team dedicated to pediatric interventional catheterization and electrophysiology procedures. Visit a catheterization lab and watch a live septal occluder procedure performed by Dr. Thomas Jones, known for both pioneering new devices and teaching the latest techniques to cardiologists throughout the world.


What does a parent do when they have a sick child but live hundreds of miles from the doctor? As the pediatric referral center for nearly one-quarter of the U.S. landmass, doctors at Seattle Children’s have created the nation’s most advanced system for virtual doctor’s visits – all in an effort to save patients the cost and inconvenience of traveling hundreds of miles. Using videoconferencing and a secure network for sharing medical records, x-rays and echocardiograms, specialists in Seattle can consult with community doctors and families in real-time. During this field trip participants will be able to see two live virtual doctor’s visits and hear from the experts who created the system. This is technology to watch as hospitals across the nation struggle with the growing shortage of pediatric specialists.

Infant simulator

SimBaby mimics the symptoms and responses of a 3-month-old infant and is used to train medical students and other providers in scenarios such as throat closure, cardiac arrest, drug overdose, major allergic reactions and seizures. Specialists at Seattle Children's helped develop SimBaby's technical features and make it more lifelike. This visit will include an opportunity to see how SimBaby is used to train tomorrow’s doctors and nurses and to prepare staff for emergency code situations.

Seeing the 'health of place'

Special neighborhoods tour supported by The California Endowment

Who, What, When. … Where we live has a powerful influence on our health. A growing body of research links our social and physical communities to our physical and mental well-being in ways that often overshadow the best efforts of health care. The Obama administration policy includes support for the Healthy Places Act: “How a community is designed – including the layout of its roads, buildings and parks – has a huge impact on the health of its residents.” This field trip takes a tour of neighborhoods with experts who point out the connections between health and place … and how a new paradigm of public health is leading agencies to invest in promoting healthier places, instead of just funding clinics and medicines to mitigate illness.

Tour Two

NOTE: This field trip is now full. You can sign up to be on a wait list when you register for the conference.

Battling malaria and tuberculosis

While mosquito bites lead to more than a million malaria deaths each year, Seattle Biomedical Research Institute is working to prove that a vaccine candidate delivered through the bite of a mosquito has the potential to save millions. SBRI, a nonprofit research organization, is making progress toward new solutions for a number of deadly infectious diseases. During your visit to SBRI, you'll see mosquitoes being genetically modified to produce a malaria vaccine that will go into human trials in the coming year. You'll also visit the Malaria Clinical Trials Center, which is only the fourth facility in the world with the capacity to test malaria vaccines in humans. And, you'll see evidence of why it's so hard to create drugs to quickly and effectively combat TB, while learning what might be done to overcome that challenge.

Raven, a surgical robot developed in the  University of Washington’s Biorobotics Lab.

Raven, a surgical robot developed in the University of Washington’s Biorobotics Lab.

Training surgeons through virtual operating room

The Institute for Simulation and Interprofessional Studies is the University of Washington’s premier medical education simulation program. A tour of ISIS will include a visit to the site’s virtual operating room, where visitors will meet and interact with ISIS’ resident patient Chris Jones. Chris, a high-fidelity patient simulator – blinks, breathes and talks with observers. Visitors will have the opportunity to “play doctor” and help prepare Chris for surgery. A tour of ISIS also includes an up-close look at low-fidelity and computer-based skills trainers. Using one of ISIS’ hands-on skill stations, observers can learn on the CVC (central venous catheter) or trauma man (chest tube, cricothyroidotomy) models and work on one of three computer-based laparoscopic skill trainers.

Using robots for remote surgery

While robots are already transforming hospital surgery, they may soon bring hospital expertise to patients in locations as remote as battlefields or outer space. Raven, a surgical robot developed in the University of Washington’s Biorobotics Lab, weighs just 50 pounds and can perform surgical procedures while being operated by surgeons in a nearby room or even over the Internet. Engineers and surgeons who were involved in the device's development will be on hand to answer questions.

Connecting neuroscience with prosthetics

Yoky Matsuoka with a prosthetic hand.

Yoky Matsuoka with a robotic hand.

Today's most sophisticated prosthetics allow minimal movement: a pivot in the elbow, open-and-close clamping of the fingers. As director of the University of Washington's Neurobotics Lab, computer scientist and MacArthur Foundation "genius" award-winner Yoky Matsuoka is creating a future prosthetic much closer to the dexterity of the human hand. Lab members investigate how our central nervous system produces signals that control our limbs' movements, and then uses that information to create lifelike robotic prosthetics. The goal is to help people with reduced mobility use robots that integrate seamlessly with their bodies' motions. The most famous invention to date is an anatomically correct robotic hand. Each bone was modeled on a human bone, and more than 30 motors act as muscles to give the hand seven degrees of freedom.

Mapping the brain

Go into the labs of the Allen Institute for Brain Science, where scientists are busy mapping gene expressions of the human brain. The Institute has created atlases for mouse brains and mouse spinal cords that are open to the public and meant to spur scientific discovery by other researchers. Similar in scale to the Human Genome Project, the mouse brain atlas reveals the expression patterns of approximately 20,000 genes throughout the entire adult mouse brain down to the cellular level. The aims are to advance new understanding of brain diseases and disorders. You’ll see how such technologies are put into place and used and you’ll meet brain scientists who can help you understand what’s ahead.