Tag: Duke University

A Computer Teaches Docs the Empathy Thing

The Canadian Cancer Society says this year alone, more than 170,000 Canadians will be diagnosed with the dreaded disease. What those patients want from their doctors is a little kindness along with chemo.  That’s not something all doctors know how to provide. But a recent study has concluded doctors can learn some empathy skills.  And the teacher may surprise you.

The doctors in this study, published last week in the Annals of Internal Medicine, learned empathy – from a computer.  That’s right, a computer.

Researchers at Duke University in the US developed a computer program that teaches what cancer specialists learn when they take courses on empathy.  Researchers audiotaped between four and eight encounters between the cancer doctors and their patients – people with advanced cancer.  Those recorded sessions were submitted throughout the study period to monitor empathic responses and – in the case of the doctors who received special training in the empathic response – provide tips on how to improve.

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Fraudulent Cancer Research: An Exception or the Tip of the Iceberg

Yesterday, 60 Minutes reported on Dr. Anil Potti, researcher at Duke University.  Dr. Potti supposedly offered cancer patients improved cancer treatments.  These recommendations, however, were based on falsified data.

“Five years ago, Duke University announced it had found the holy grail of cancer research. They’d discovered how to match a patient’s tumor to the best chemotherapy drug. It was a breakthrough because every person’s DNA is unique, so every tumor is different. A drug that kills a tumor in one person, for example, might not work in another. The research was published in the most prestigious medical journals. And more than a hundred desperately ill people invested their last hopes in Duke’s innovation.

In 2010, we learned that the new method was a failure. But what isn’t widely known, until tonight, is that the discovery wasn’t just a failure, it may end up being one of the biggest medical research frauds ever – one that deceived dying patients, the best medical journals and a great university.”

When the National Cancer Institute found they could not replicate Potti’s results, Duke suspended the enrollment of patients in the Potti study and asked outside review committee to analyze Dr. Potti’s discovery. After three months, however, the review committee concluded that Dr. Potti was right.

Why did no one find out earlier.  Were researchers blinded by money?

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