TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

Posts tagged ‘Dr. David Figurski’

COVID-19: Love in the Time of a Pandemic

COVID-19: Love in the Time of a Pandemic

by

Columbia University Professor Emeritus, Dr. David Figurski

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

(Disclaimer: The World Health Organization <WHO> has officially named the new coronavirus as SARS-CoV-2 and the disease it causes as COVID-19.  Because the majority of people, including much of the press, commonly refer to the virus as “COVID-19,” to avoid confusion I use COVID-19 as the name of the virus in these posts.)

David H. Figurski, Ph.D & Survivor of Brain Injury

Donna and I recently celebrated 51 years of marriage.  We chose the beautiful desert scenery around the White Tank Mountains near our home in Arizona.  We returned to the place that Donna proposed to me last year as part of our 50th anniversary celebration.

This year, our anniversary celebration was very different.  We are in the middle of a global pandemic of a new coronavirus.  To slow the spread of this highly contagious virus, most people wear masks, practice social-distancing, and self-quarantine.  (For us, except for monthly food pick-up runs, we have been home over 160 days.)

Desert near the White Tank Mountains

The effect of the pandemic has been horrific and devastating for society, most notably for health-care personnel, blue-collar workers, teachers and school administrators, and middle- and lower-class families, who are struggling with paying bills, having enough food, and eviction.

Donna & David Figurski Wedding Anniversary #51

Globally, there have been over 22.5 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, and over 795,000 people have died. The U.S. has over 5.5 million cases and over 175,000 deaths. Scientists and physicians around the world are racing to understand the virus and its disease.  A viable vaccine is months away.

David & Donna Figurski – so happy together

Everyone is trying to cope as best as he or she can. On a personal level, Donna and I are fortunate to deeply love one another and to have each other in the midst of such chaos.

Love is worth celebrating wherever and whenever you can.

Stay Safe and Healthy!

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Read All About It! . . . . . . . Prisoners without Bars: A Caregiver’s Tale

Read All About It!

Prisoners without Bars: A Caregiver’s Tale

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski – author

Donna & David with ARC of Prisoners without Bars: A Caregiver’s Tale

 

My memoir, Prisoners without Bars: A Caregiver’s Tale, is not only a story of David’s and my struggles after his traumatic brain injury, but it is also a love story. Though my memoir addresses a dire topic, it is peppered with comedic situations. They say laughter is the best medicine, and again, they are right.

Prisoners without Bars is a heart-wrenching memoir that will make you laugh, cry, and G-A-S-P. I promise!

 

Boy Laughing

 

Girl Crying girl-crying-clipart-34

Girl Gasping 2

It’s not a beach read, but it reads like one. It’s fast! It’s easy! It’s fascineasy. I mean fascinating.

What Readers are Saying!

Jackie said – “A beautiful and touching story.”

Anonymous Amazon Customer said – “I loved this book. almost couldn’t put it down.

jlgwriter said – “I found the story powerful and compelling.

Todd & Kim said – “This is such an inspirational story of survival! The book is a very easy read and informative as well as inspiring!!”

Judy said – “Donna O’Donnell Figurski tells her story of grace, love, frustration, anger, disappointment, strength, joy, and above all hope.”

Marge said – “I read it in one fell swoop… I guess the word that would describe your book, your life, and who you are is SUPERCALIFRAGILISTICEXPIALIDOCIOIUS.”

Anonymous said – “This book pulled me in immediately and didn’t let me go until the end! ”

Helen said – “Could not put this book down. Written for easy reading. It was like having a conversation with a friend.” “I finished it in one day with some teary moments along with some chuckles. A must read!!”

Get Your Copy Now

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PAPERBACK!        Read it Now!                              e-BOOK!      Read it Now!

 

Stay Safe and Healthy!

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COVID-19 – It’s Everywhere . . Will an Early Vaccine for COVID-19 Be Safe?


Will an Early Vaccine for COVID-19 Be Safe?

by

Columbia University Professor Emeritus, Dr. David Figurski

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

(Disclaimer: The World Health Organization <WHO> has officially named the new coronavirus as SARS-CoV-2 and the disease it causes as COVID-19. Because the majority of people, including much of the press, commonly refer to the virus as “COVID-19,” to avoid confusion I use COVID-19 as the name of the virus in these posts.)

 

David Figurski

David H. Figurski, Ph.D & Survivor of Brain Injury

There is intense pressure from this Administration for any good news that might bolster its re-election chances. The government’s own FDA (Food and Drug Administration) might shorten the three required clinical trials that are key to proving the safety and efficacy of any vaccine before it’s approved for use by the public.

There is good reason to be concerned that government officials from this Administration might approve short-cuts to well-established scientific requirements because they want to speed things up. Both the FDA and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention), two government agencies I have always trusted, have already bowed to political pressure from this Administration. The FDA approved hydroxychloroquine use for COVID-19 and later rescinded its approval when the drug was found to be ineffective against COVID-19 and to cause some dangerous side-effects in some people. The CDC, after feeling pressure from the Administration, revamped its back-to-school guidelines.

twiv-300x225

Dr. Vincent Racaniello – Columbia University virologist

Drs. Vincent Racaniello (virologist, Columbia U., host of the TWiV <This Week in Virology> podcasts), Brianne Barker (immunologist, Drew U.), and Rich Condit (retired virologist, Professor Emeritus, U. of Florida) discuss this issue in the TWiV podcast #631 of June 25, 2020. I urge you to listen to minutes 4:00-9:00. These three scientists talk about the importance of impartial and uncorrupted science in driving vaccine development and approval.

Also, an article about this issue can be found in the July 29, 2020, issue of HuffPost.

VaccineA legitimate way for the large Phase III clinical trial to end early is when the benefit is obvious. For example, if a vaccine candidate were given to 20,000 people and a placebo were given to another 20,000 people, the efficacy of the vaccine would be obvious (and statistically sound) if several hundred people in the placebo group became sick, while no person in the vaccine group became sick. Such an obvious result is exceedingly rare, and so, since it normally takes about eight months to do a Phase III clinical trial, if all goes well, we probably won’t have a confidence-inspiring vaccine until 2021.

Stay Safe and Healthy!

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COVID-19 — It’s Everywhere . . . Drug Breakthrough Significantly Prevents COVID-19 Deaths

Drug Breakthrough Significantly Prevents COVID-19 Deaths

by

Columbia University Professor Emeritus, Dr. David Figurski

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

(Disclaimer: The World Health Organization <WHO> has officially named the new coronavirus as SARS-CoV-2 and the disease it causes as COVID-19. Because the majority of people, including much of the press, commonly refer to the virus as “COVID-19,” to avoid confusion I use COVID-19 as the name of the virus in these posts.)

COVID-19

David H. Figurski, Ph.D & Survivor of Brain Injury

Research at the University of Oxford in England showed for the first time that a drug prevented a major fraction of deaths in severely sick patients with COVID-19.

Dexamethasone was found in a large clinical trial to cause a significant reduction in deaths. It can be prescribed as pills, and it is a common, readily available, and relatively inexpensive drug

A major problem after infection by COVID-19 is that the immune response of some individuals is too aggressive (often causing what’s called a “cytokine storm”) and can lead to death. Because dexamethasone is a steroid that dampens the immune response, the prediction was that it might help to prevent deaths by COVID-19.

The research showed that it does.

There are about 3 deaths for every 8 patients on ventilators.  Dexamethasone treatment reduced those deaths by one-third.  So, 1 death would be prevented for every 8 patients on ventilators.  About 5 deaths occur in every 25 patients on oxygen only. Dexamethasone treatment reduced those deaths by one-fifth, or about 1 less death for every 25 patients on oxygen only. Dexamethasone treatment had no effect on patients not on ventilators or receiving oxygen only.

Given that a major fraction of the over 118,000 deaths in the US so far (at 6:00 pm ET on June 18, 2020) were on ventilators or oxygen only, dexamethasone treatment is predicted to prevent many deaths.

The UK’s Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, said: “This is a ground-breaking development in our fight against the disease, and the speed at which researchers have progressed finding an effective treatment is truly remarkable.”

 

Stay Safe and Healthy!

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COVID-19 — It’s Everywhere . . . Progress in Controlling COVID-19

Progress in Controlling COVID-19

by

Columbia University Professor Emeritus, Dr. David Figurski

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

(Disclaimer: The World Health Organization <WHO> has officially named the new coronavirus as SARS-CoV-2 and the disease it causes as COVID-19. Because the majority of people, including much of the press, commonly refer to the virus as “COVID-19,” to avoid confusion I use COVID-19 as the name of the virus in these posts.)

COVID-19

David H. Figurski, Ph.D & Survivor of Brain Injury

 

 

I want to tell you about an amazing podcast, TWiV (This Week in Virology), created and hosted by Dr. Vincent Racaniello, a colleague of mine at Columbia University.

Vincent’s a virologist who has done cutting edge research on the molecular biology of influenza virus, poliovirus, and rhinoviruses (which cause the common cold). His podcasts feature several PhDs in microbiology (virologists, an immunologist, a parasitologist, and a science reporter who earned his PhD with Vincent) discussing the latest research and advances in viruses.

Vincent has been self-quarantining at home. Consequently, since March 13th, he has made more than 30 podcasts, nearly all concerning COVID-19, potential therapies and vaccines, and pandemics. His guests have been infectious disease scientists doing research or physicians in the trenches learning about the clinical manifestations of the virus and how to treat their patients.

Dr. Vincent Racaniello – Columbia University Virologist

Vincent’s podcasts are made for non-scientists to understand, but they are 1-2 hours long. Probably none of you has the time to listen that long. Therefore, I’m trying to listen to them so I can point you to episodes and minutes you may want to hear.

Podcast #622, released June 2, featured Dr. Emmie de Wit of the Rocky Mountain Labs in Montana. She’s a virologist doing drug and vaccine research in monkeys. Because Rocky Mountain Labs is one of the few places in the country with a high-safety-level facility, Dr. de Wit has worked with several dangerous viruses: SARS-1, MERS, pandemic influenza strains, and Ebola. Now she’s working with SARS-2.

I’ve boiled down Episode #622 to four segments totaling ~16 minutes.

  1. 26:05-26:35 – The spike protein of the virus coat initiates infection of a cell by attaching to the ACE2 protein (angiotensin converting enzyme 2) on the cell’s surface. Here Emmie tells how it took only days to identify ACE2 and confirm viral binding. Rich Condit, a virologist, was astonished by the speed. ACE2-binding by spike is a potential drug target.

 

  1. 37:15-39:44 – The PCR test (polymerase chain reaction), simple enough to be done on a large scale, detects the 30,000-nucleotide (or base) RNA chromosome of the virus. But, PCR is so sensitive that it can detect degradation fragments of the RNA, even though the person is no longer contagious. The only way to tell for sure is to detect viable virus in cell culture. This is hard to do and is only done in virology research labs. As a result, a person is considered infected and contagious if the PCR test is positive.

  1. 43:35-54:05 Remdesivir, an antiviral drug, is a nucleotide-analog that blocks the copying of the RNA chromosome to make more virus. Emmie showed that giving remdesivir to monkeys early (at 12-hours post infection) was very effective. But, humans don’t show symptoms for days, and, because remdesivir must be administered intravenously, patients are only given remdesivir if they are hospitalized. This is very late, and still there is a modest effect. Rich Condit talks about the possibility of producing an oral form of the drug. Then remdesivir could be taken earlier – maybe even at home – and might be very effective in humans.

 

  1. 58:25-60:40 This segment concerns a vaccine. (I’ll write more on this topic later, but you should know that there are three types of promising technologies: the viral protein-based, the viral gene-based, and the virus vector-based, in which a harmless virus carries a gene from a disease-producing virus for a protein that’s needed to infect cells.)2ff087415a5009984739aa8fde5d5d4a

Emmie tested a harmless chimpanzee adenovirus that was engineered to carry the COVID-19 spike gene. This adenovirus produces the coronavirus spike protein, needed for COVID-19 to infect cells. So, this harmless adenovirus should cause us to make antibodies that will block infection by COVID-19.

In Emmie’s experiment in monkeys, the vaccine worked so well that it allowed clinical trials to proceed in humans.

Stay Safe and Healthy!

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COVID-19 — It’s Everywhere . . . Vaccine is Possible

COVID-19 . . . Evidence that a Vaccine is Possible

by

Columbia University Professor Emeritus, Dr. David Figurski

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

(Disclaimer: The World Health Organization <WHO> has officially named the new coronavirus as SARS-CoV-2 and the disease it causes as COVID-19.  Because the majority of people, including much of the press, commonly refer to the virus as “COVID-19,” to avoid confusion, I use COVID-19 as the name of the virus in these posts.)

COVID-19

The 100+ labs trying to develop a vaccine for COVID-19 were delighted with a study showing that COVID-19 stimulates a strong antibody response in humans. Scientists from the University of California at San Diego (UCSD) demonstrated that a vaccine for COVID-19 is definitely possible.

The scientists studied blood from mildly sick individuals who recovered. They found a high level of antibodies to the spike protein, used by COVID-19 to infect.

The strong antibody response suggests that immunity will occur in humans and will last a while, but no one knows for how long – weeks? months? years?

The scientists were surprised by another result. For you also to understand it, I have to give you some background. (Sorry!)

There are seven coronaviruses that infect humans.

Four are common and cause mild, cold-like symptoms.  We’ve all probably had one or more of these.

Three coronaviruses (SARS-CoV, SARS-CoV-2 <which causes COVID-19>, and MERS- CoV) cause serious human disease and some fatalities.

Blood taken before COVID-19 even existed in humans nevertheless showed the presence of antibodies that reacted with COVID-19.  Infection with one of the mild coronaviruses may have stimulated the body’s production of some antibodies that cross-react with COVID-19.

Some seemingly healthy individuals have died from COVID-19. In contrast, some people not predicted to do well had mild disease or were asymptomatic. Doctors are perplexed by their inability to predict who will recover.

David H. Figurski, Ph.D & Survivor of Brain Injury

One possibility is that the amount of cross-reactive antibodies arising from previous infection with one or more of the mild coronaviruses may determine how well a COVID-19-infected person will do.

 

Stay Safe and Healthy!

 

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New NEWS: Dr. David Figurski Speaks Out About Coronavirus

Dr. David Figurski Speaks Out About Coronavirus

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

David Columbia Award May 2017

Professor David Figurski        Columbia University College of Physicians &Surgeons

 

“In graduate school, I worked with a virus that infects bacterial cells (bacteriophage T1). One T1 virus particle takes about 10-12 minutes to break open the E. coli cell and release over 100 new virus particles. Each new particle can infect a cell and produce over a hundred new virus particles. So, 10-12 minutes later, there are 10,000 viruses. I could do some experiments in the morning and have the results that afternoon.

0.40555600_1467108645_microbes

Random Petri Plate

To make stocks of the virus, we would infect a late culture of bacteria. A couple of hours later, all the bacterial cells were broken open, leaving only virus.

1800x1200_coronavirus_1

Coronavirus

 

 

 

Animal viruses, like coronavirus, probably take hours to reproduce, but each infected cell produces at least a thousand new virus particles.

Consequently, I have a healthy respect for viruses.”

David H. Figurski, Ph.D – Molecularbiologist

Columbia University Professor Emeritus

 

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SPEAK OUT! NewsBit . . . . . . Common Mouse Cell Type Converted to Neurons

SPEAK OUT! NewsBit

Common Mouse Cell Type Converted to Neurons

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

newsboy-thCommon Mouse Cell Type Converted to Neurons

You’ve probably heard of the promising future of cell therapy. The excitement comes from the fact that injuries might be treated by implanting fresh, healthy cells. Stem cells, which can mature to many different cell types, have been discovered in almost every organ in the body. They hold enormous potential for helping to heal injured organs. Already, scientists are devising methods to add new muscle to damaged hearts and to add insulin-producing cells to the body to cure Type I diabetes. The brain also has stem cells, and much of the natural recovery from brain injury is due to stem cells, which rebuild the damaged part of the brain. The beauty of stem cells from the brain is that they can develop into healthy neurons and replace damaged circuits. But the natural healing of the brain is often insufficient. Scientists have been looking for ways to make more stem cells and to activate them so that implanting them is practical and they can result in more healing.scientist

I want to tell you about exciting basic research on cell therapy that may make possible or speed up the development of new therapies for brain injury. Scientists at Duke University have found a way to make neurons from common mouse cells, called “fibroblasts,” without resorting to stem cells. The scientists made a modified protein and put it into fibroblasts. The modified protein found and activated the master regulator genes needed to turn on the genes for the cell to become a neuron.

In the past, a cell’s change into a neuron required that extra copies of the master regulator genes be introduced into the cell. The cell maintained its neuron-like properties only if the extra activators were present. If the extra copies were lost, the cell reverted to its original form. Scientists said that the neurons were “unstable.” Still, it was a breakthrough. To help stabilize the neurons, extra copies of genes for the master regulators were added to its chromosomes. The neurons still weren’t perfectly stable, and the presence of extra copies in the chromosomes was unnatural.

In the new method, activation of the neuron genes is natural. The neurons are “stable,” even when the modified activator protein is gone. As far as the scientists can tell, the neurons formed this way appear to be like natural neurons.

MouseOf course, these studies need to be done with human cells. But, because the mouse is similar enough to humans genetically, new neurons are likely to be made from human cells. If so, cell therapy to treat brain injury will become common in the foreseeable future. One benefit is that therapy can be personalized. It’s not practical to get your neurons from a brain biopsy, but your easy-to-get fibroblasts can be converted to neurons. Those neurons can then be tested with therapeutic drugs to see what works best with your genetic background. Also, the implanted cells would not be rejected by your body (prevention of rejection is the reason for immunosuppressive drugs today) because the neurons would be made from cells of your own body. (Full story)

 

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On The Air: Brain Injury Radio “Another Fork in the Road” . . . . . Grief After Brain Injury

On The Air: Brain Injury Radio “Another Fork in the Road”

Grief After Brain Injury

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

images-1Grief is often an after effect of brain injury. It is experienced not only by the survivor, who may have lost his or her “old” self and is trying to adjust to his or her new world, but also by those who have frequent contact with the survivor. As we know, brain injury affects ALL members of the family, who are often the caregivers.

Lisabeth Mackall Book 061215

Lisabeth Mackall caregiver & author

Panelists, Sandra Williams (both survivor and caregiver), Dr. David Figurski (survivor), and Lisabeth Mackall (caregiver) joined me to discuss the topic of GRIEF. We examined the feelings of the family as they adjust to their loved one’s change, as well as discussed the stages of grief as outlined by Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her book entitled, “On Death and Dying.”

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Sandra Williams survivor & caregiver

 

David

David Figurski survivor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you missed this show about “Grief After Brain Injury” with Lisabeth Mackall (caregiver), Sandra Williams (survivor and caregiver), and David Figurski (survivor) on March 6th, 2016, don’t fret. You can listen to the archived show here. Click the link below.

See you “On the Air!”

On The Air: Brain Injury Radio “Another Fork in the Road” Grief After Brain Injury

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Thank you, WORLD!

Thank You, World

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

blogI started my blog, “Surviving Traumatic Brain Injury,” in March 2014 when I saw a need to connect with other survivors and caregivers in the brain-injured community. I saw people struggling as I had as I tried to make sense out of this new life that visited us when my husband had his brain injury in 2005. At that time, I had no community to turn to. There were no social media. I felt lost and alone. I didn’t know there were other people living with many of the same problems that we were battling. But now, because of the rise of social media, there are many places for people to find information about brain injury, and I wanted to be one of those places.

In the more than ten years that my husband, David, has lived the brain-injured life, I have learned a lot, and I want to share my information with newcomers to this unexpected life. I want to provide a place where they can go to obtain information, but mostly I want to provide survivors and caregivers a platform to SPEAK OUT! I want them to share their stories and their thopinions, and I want others to draw hope and courage and inspiration from those who are traveling a similar path.

This page was created to say THANK YOU to the survivors and caregivers who have so graciously shared their stories here with the hope of raising awareness of brain injury.

It was created to say THANK YOU to everyone in the WORLD who stops by to read it. In the year and a half since I created my blog, thousands of folks have stopped by from all over the world (nearly 50,000 at this point).Thank-you-post-it
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Tag Cloud

How Life Has Happened For Me

Grow Through What You Go Through

Claire Stibbe

Thriller Author and Blogger at Bookpreneur

Fat Cow Co

New Age Blogger

The Care Factor

Loving someone with a Traumatic Brain Injury

Brain Injury Blog With Free TBI Information

Brain Injury Blog and Helpful Articles

Montclair Write Group

Writing Support Group

Brain Injury Support Group of Duluth-Extension

Brain Injury Information and SUPPORT

Women Worldwide Network

Women around the world share their incredible stories

Brain Aneurysm Global Insight

Brain Aneurysm, cerebral hemorrhaging, hemorrhage stroke

Motivational Coping & Healing

Rising Above the Hardships

catherinelanser.wordpress.com/

Creative Nonfiction, Memoir, and the Brain

Wrath of Violets

A retrospective documentary of my most inner thoughts: A success in the making

Karen DeBonis

Memoir and creative nonfiction

Surviving TBI

Learning how to survive with spouse's TBI

BQB Publishing

Tomorrow's Best Sellers Today

Knit Neutrality

Knit (Verb) | 'nit : to join together

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