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Noteworthy Diagnosis

In 2019, by tapping into the power of artificial intelligence, a team of Johns Hopkins’ greatest minds has set its sights on early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer (“This is Our Manhattan Project,” Spring/Summer).

Another great Baltimore mind, H.L. Mencken, noted early signs of the pancreatic cancer that would kill medical illustrator Max Brödel. In his diary, Mencken wrote: “By the Spring of 1941 I began to notice, sitting beside him at the piano, that his playing was deteriorating. Before that it had been almost unheard of for him to lose his place or to make a mistake of any consequence, but now he began to play raggedly.” Maybe there are more ways than one to detect early pancreatic cancer.

Steven Lehrer, M.D. '69

An Extreme Request

Several years ago, Hopkins Medicine magazine (“Extreme Medicine,” Fall 2015) featured an article describing a free, easily accessible online source of “medical extremes” — highest recorded serum calcium, heaviest kidney stone, oldest age of a patient to undergo surgery, etc.  The website, appropriately titled “Medical Extremes,” is accessible at:

As one of the website’s editors, I’d like to encourage readers of Hopkins Medicine to check it out and to send their own “medical extremes” for inclusion in frequent updates of the website.  Instructions for submitting entries are listed on the page under the title “How to Submit Your ‘Record.’”

Jerry Smilack, M.D. ’68

Scottsdale, Arizona

Deep Compassion

I just read “Return to Dharamsala,” about the Zero TB Initiative [Spring/Summer].  I was very pleased to read about the efforts Dr. Chaisson has underwritten and supported over the years, and warmed by the lifelong commitments of Dr. Kunchok Dorjee. His insight, intellectual curiosity and deep sense of compassion is a blessing to so many.

I will be returning to north India in October, which will be for my third trip since October 2017.  I am an RN, but I write as a fellow being touched by the Tibetan culture with a stronger connection to its Buddhist philosophies.  I have traveled from Nepal to Indonesia but find myself returning to India.

My own personal spiritual teacher is a Tibetan monk, now with thriving meditation centers in Annapolis and Jakarta, but was originally from the Sikkim region and suffered with TB as a child. I am so heartened to learn of the overall reduction in the disease prevalence and incidence and increased access to care.

Cindi Curtis, A.S.N., R.N., L.N.C.

Department of Psychiatry, Center for Addiction and Pregnancy, Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center