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Monday, May 16, 2011

Fascinating Science and Networking in Paradise

By Iqbal “Ike” Ahmed, M.D.

I am writing from the perspective of an APA member who lives in Honolulu. I am excited about so many fellow psychiatrists and other mental health providers visiting my home town and enjoying what it has to offer-Aloha, warm hospitality, friendly people, interesting culture, great weather, and beautiful surrounding such as our beaches and mountains.

My own experience of the meeting has been one of trying to make the meeting informative and enjoyable for my friends and fellow psychiatrists visiting the island. In between, I have had the opportunity to chair a few fascinating scientific sessions. In one of those a study suggests that a cognitive screening instrument, the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MOCA) was better in the recognition of cognitive impairment in depressed patients. The importance of this is that cognitive impairment can affect function in depressed patients. I also heard that loneliness appears to be associated with increased development of dementia in a Dutch population. In another session, I heard about use of PHQ-9 used as a screening instrument to recognize depression in Kaiser patients with medical problems and then having them followed by care managers.

The most interesting thing I learnt was about the development of serum biomarkers to distinguish schizophrenia from patients with other psychiatric disorders, and from those without mental illness. This was presented by Prof. Sabine Bahn, of Cambridge and Erasmus Universities as a “Frontiers of Science Lecture”. I was fascinated about the underlying science behind this about insulin resistance, glucose uptake in the brain, oxidative stress in the neurons, and the associated changes in the serum of patients leading to a biomarker fingerprint. It is amazing, that this biomarker test is already commercially being marketed.

Well, it is now time to run along and try to get in to hear Rev. Desmond Tutu, talk about his work on the reconciliation commission in South Africa at the Convocation of Fellows. Hope to then spend an evening with friends from Mainland attending the meeting-one of my favorite parts of the Annual Meeting.

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