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Health Sciences

Fall 2004

As you read this, thank your ion channels

When Mike Varnum, assistant professor, Veterinary and Comparative Anatomy, Pharmacology, and Physiology, visits the aquarium, he looks at the sea creatures a bit differently than the rest of us. What interests him most about a creature is not its bright color or odd shape, but whether it makes a toxin that blocks an ion channel. Oddly, many of the creatures do.

Many toxins, in fact, block specific ion channels, though Varnum uses different agents in his work. Ion channels are pores in the membranes of many different types of cells-highly selective, gated pores-that permit the passage of specific charged particles, or ions, into or out … » More …

Winter 2005

Peru: In the middle of the jungle with no Walgreens

In summer 2004 my husband, Stuart, and I made our first trip to Peru. We traveled with a charitable organization that hoped to build an orphanage and medical clinic there. Having completed my second semester of nursing studies at the Washington State University Intercollegiate College of Nursing, I was the most medical-savvy person on the trip. But that didn’t stop us from doing a lot of good work. We set up clinics in Iquitos, a port city of about 400,000 residents near the headwaters of the Amazon River, and worked farther downriver in less populated areas with the Yahua and Bora Indian tribes. We were … » More …

Winter 2005

Honduras: What Patients We Saw!

During those long, hot, humid, and exhausting days, we saw, experienced, and accomplished things we had never before imagined possible.

We were a team, 24 strong, who came together for 10 days in the early spring of 2005 to travel to Honduras. We were nurses, physicians, dentists, dental hygienists and assistants, optometrists, and support personnel on a mission to provide medical, dental, and eye care to people who were otherwise unable to obtain it.

Our way was carefully prepared for us by an advance team of in-country personnel who work with Worldwide Heart-to-Heart Ministries, our mission sponsors. We flew into the city of San Pedro … » More …

Summer 2005

Portland pharmacist uses chemistry to duplicate natural human hormones

Forget about over-the-counter pills and creams to reduce hot flashes, insomnia, and other symptoms of perimenopause. Don’t bother with prescriptions for mass-produced synthetic hormones, either.

Instead, why not use chemistry-or bio-identical hormone replacement-to duplicate natural human hormones, and then concoct the right dosage for each individual woman? Pharmacists call this individualized procedure “compounding.”

Alison Johnston (’84 Pharm.) started doing just that in January 2003 in Portland, Oregon. She reports it seems to be working.

Johnston is the only pharmacist in a compounding-only pharmacy, Marquis Compounding Pharmacy in Portland. She has her own patients and writes prescription recommendations for their doctors to sign. A few of … » More …