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2014 Year in Review

In 2014, we saw remarkable things happen at Johns Hopkins Medicine. It was a year where we were moved at the sight of a young boy’s excitement when he received a 3-D printed prosthetic hand, inspired by the dedication of the team that mapped the human proteome and humbled by the confidence our patients and their families put in us every day.

As we pursue our common vision of pushing the boundaries of discovery, transforming medical care, advancing medical education and creating hope for humanity, the people of Johns Hopkins Medicine constantly seek to embody the values of excellence and discovery, leadership and integrity, diversity and inclusion, and respect and collegiality.

RELATED VIDEO: Learn more about some of the research breakthroughs of 2014.

Here are 14 stories among so very many in 2014 that show how we do all of that every day.

Using a 3-D Printer, Trauma Surgeon Changes Children's Lives

child with a 3-D printed hand

Five-year-old Griffin Matuszek has the coolest hand in school. It’s red and yellow, glows in the dark, and makes him look like a real superhero.

Born with a congenital disability that caused his left hand to not fully form, Griffin received a 3-D printed hand from a team led by trauma surgeon Albert Chi. Chi combined his passion for technology and his compassion for children in need of affordable prostheses at a symposium about printing prostheses for underserved populations, where a group of children received new printed hands. Unlike traditional prostheses that cost thousands of dollars and need to be replaced regularly for growing children, Griffin’s new hand only cost about $50 and was made using a 3-D printer in a lab at Johns Hopkins.

“It’s my Asteroid hand!” he says. “When I’m a teenager, I’ll get an Iron Man hand.”

CDC Taps Armstrong Institute to Help With Ebola Safety Training

hopkins ebola response

It’s their first instinct: Save the patient.

When doctors and nurses are called in to begin treatment on a patient with Ebola virus disease, it’s critical that they properly put on their protective gear. The gear protects them from the virus and contains the spread of the disease. But the equipment needed for treating Ebola is highly specialized and difficult to put on.

To help hospitals across the country prepare their providers to correctly protect themselves from Ebola, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) came to the Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality at Johns Hopkins. Johns Hopkins was tasked with developing an interactive Web video series to teach health care workers these potentially lifesaving techniques.

RELATED VIDEO: Learn more about the making of these Armstrong Institute videos.

“People in general are so scared with Ebola, and they don’t understand how hard it can be to put on and take off this protective equipment,” says Sandy Swoboda, an intensive care nurse at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. “To an untrained eye, it looks easy, but there are specific procedures and steps that you have to follow. A misstep can lead to a potentially negative health outcome.”

Retinas Grown in Lab Can Detect Light

lab created retinas

Johns Hopkins scientists can see the light. So can their new lab-created miniature human retinas.

Using human stem cells, a team of scientists developed a three-dimensional human retina with functioning photoreceptor cells capable of responding to light. The next step is getting these retinas to be able to process images in the hope that this breakthrough gets us closer to technologies that restore vision in people with retinal diseases.

The Johns Hopkins Hospital Turns 125

johns hopkins hospital

There were a lot of candles to blow out this year as The Johns Hopkins Hospital celebrated its 125th anniversary. Using the vision of Mr. Johns Hopkins, the hospital, which opened in 1889, was developed to be a place where patient care, medical education and research work together. The hospital continues this core mission and serves as a worldwide leader in medical innovation and quality of care.

At The Johns Hopkins Hospital, we are proud of our rich history, but we also strive to maintain our tireless pursuit of innovation and excellence to provide hope and inspiration in our care for one another, for our patients and families, and for the world. We look forward to another 125 years of delivering the promise of medicine.

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Anniversaries Around Hopkins

This year, the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery celebrated its centennial, Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center hit the big 3-0 and Johns Hopkins Singapore turned 15.

The Library of Human Proteins Gets Cataloged

graphic of the human proteome

A shoestring budget and nearly 9,000 miles between members of a 72-person research team couldn’t prevent Akhilesh Pandey from completing a draft of the human proteome, a library of 30,057 proteins in the human body.

Scientists around the world had been working for years trying to complete this daunting project. Working from his lab at Johns Hopkins, Pandey led his team — much of it based in India — to the finish line first and catalogued 84 percent of all human proteins. The team also identified about 200 previously unknown proteins.

The project was estimated to cost at least $200 million. But without direct funding, Pandey’s teams in Baltimore and India only spent about $700,000, and they worked on the project in addition to their other funded research projects.

“By generating a comprehensive human protein data set, we have made it easier for other researchers to identify the proteins in their experiments,” says Pandey. “We believe our data will become the gold standard in the field, especially because they were generated using uniform methods and analysis, and state-of-the-art machines.”

RELATED INFOGRAPHIC: Learn more about the human proteome project.

Residency Program Ranks at Top of Class

johns hopkins residents

Mr. Johns Hopkins had a vision for a new model of health care. He wanted to unite a world-class hospital and an elite medical school in a previously unseen way. Today, we continue his mission to train the best physicians at an academic medical center.

This year, the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine was named a top medical education program in the first national ranking of residency programs by Doximity and U.S. News & World Report.

“We are thrilled to have our residency programs receive this public recognition,” says Roy Ziegelstein, vice dean for education at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “While this announcement is certainly affirming, it will in no way diminish the intensity of our efforts to ensure that our programs train the best doctors in the world, which is what our patients and society expect and deserve.”

Detecting Cancer Early with a Blood Test

vial of blood

Early cancer detection saves lives. It’s why tests like mammographies, prostate exams and colonoscopies are vital to our health. We may not look forward to these tests, but they are lifesavers.

Now, imagine if certain cancers could be detected early with a simple blood test. That’s exactly what a team of Johns Hopkins researchers at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center are investigating, and their results are promising.

Neurosurgeon Chetan Bettegowda and his team discovered that certain fragments of DNA shed by tumors into the bloodstream can potentially be used to screen for early-stage cancers, monitor how patients respond to treatment and indicate why some cancers don’t respond to current therapies.

“We’re already very good at treating and curing cancer when it is localized,” says Bettegowda. “But we wanted to develop a noninvasive technology to enhance detection of cancer at an early stage, and we feel this is an exciting starting point for further work using this method.”

Efforts Toward Diversity and Inclusion Recognized Nationally

bayview diversity council

Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center’s Diversity Council was recognized by the Association of Diversity Councils as the one of the top 25 diversity councils in the United States for a fourth consecutive year.

The council, which was ranked eighth this year, serves as an advisory group to the hospital’s leadership and staff by working to create strategies to foster cultural competence, civility, respect and collegiality, robust and diverse talent pools, leadership development, and mutually beneficial relationships with the community.

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Diversity Throughout Johns Hopkins

The Johns Hopkins HeathCare’s Diversity & Inclusion Council placed 19th in the same rankings.

Johns Hopkins also began collaborating with our neighbors at Morgan State University to increase diversity in the biomedical sciences. Using a grant from the National Institutes of Health and a partnership with professors and research labs at Johns Hopkins, Morgan State will develop a new center to equip top undergraduates with research skills and experience.

Lisa Cooper, a professor of medicine, recently gave a TED Talk about ethnic health disparities.

Health Communities Built Patient by Patient

Johns Hopkins loves Baltimore. This is where we live, where we work and where we help our neighbors. One of the many programs that help our community is the Johns Hopkins Community Health Partnership (J-CHiP).

Already offering services to more than 59,000 of our neighbors, J-CHiP sends nurses or community health workers to homes, helps patients get their medication, provides counseling and offers fitness programs. We want to help our fellow Baltimore residents stay in good health and prevent unnecessary and expensive hospital stays.?

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Contributing to a Healthier Community in our Classrooms

This year, we also celebrated the first graduating class of the school of medicine’s Urban Health Primary Care Track.

Research and Surgical Innovation Save a Singer's Voice

Professional singer Nikki Jean traveled the country to find a treatment for a lesion in her thyroid. She needed a solution quickly — her condition was starting to affect her voice and her career.

Then she met head and neck surgeon Ralph Tufano, whose cutting-edge research could be used during her surgery and would ensure that her singing voice would be saved.

Tufano successfully performed a full thyroidectomy while preserving all of Nikki’s nerves critical for singing. Now, Nikki Jean is back in Los Angeles with a successful singing career.

“That’s just one of the benefits of going to someone who is at the cutting edge of his or her field,” Nikki says.

Researchers Dig into Big Data to Make the Numbers Count

big data graphic

One size doesn’t fit all when doctors and researchers have access to an amazing collection of information and data. Imagine having a treatment team able to completely personalize your care because they’ve studied your medical history and have access to a massive amount of data. This information is constantly becoming less expensive to gather and helps better inform conditions and treatments.

This data — patient information from brain scans, genetic codes, family histories, eating habits and medical claim records — can now be analyzed to improve cancer screenings, cystic fibrosis treatment, heart care decisions, autoimmune disease management, and diagnosis and treatment of age-related diseases.

“I have a vision that within 20 years, maybe sooner, everybody, from birth to death, will have all the information they need relative to their genome available to them and to their health care providers,” says Steven Salzberg, director of The Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Computational Biology.

Discovered: Third Hormone Plays Role in Type 2 Diabetes

diabetes testing

Maintaining a healthy sugar level in your bloodstream depends on two critical hormones working together — glucagon and insulin. Treatment for type 2 diabetes is based on this fact.

Now, Johns Hopkins researchers have identified a third player in the game, kisspeptin 1, or K1. K1 was only known as a hormone associated with puberty and fertility, but scientists discovered that it can also slow down the production of insulin.

This finding may lead to the development of new drugs that restore the function of the insulin-secreting cells.

Global Collaborative Heath Care Effort Expanded

a group of doctors

In January, Johns Hopkins and world energy leader Saudi Aramco began a unique joint venture in health care. With this agreement, Johns Hopkins expands its global health work by providing high-quality health care services to Saudi Aramco’s employees, dependents and annuitants.

Given our strong commitment to patient safety, the Johns Hopkins Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality also initiated a 12-month fellowship program for health care staff to train new leaders in patient safety so that they may sustain quality improvement projects.

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New Opportunities for Health Care in India

Johns Hopkins Medicine International began a new affiliation with HCL Avitas, a network of multispecialty clinics across India, to help raise the standard of health care in the country through knowledge exchange and consulting agreements.

Doors Open to the Future of Patient Care Facilities

ribbon cutting of the new nelson harvey buildings

We’re growing again. Just two years after opening The Charlotte R. Bloomberg Children’s Center and the Sheikh Zayed Tower, Johns Hopkins cut the ribbon on the completely renovated Nelson/Harvey Building. Originally opened in 1977, the updated Nelson/Harvey added 136 new private patient rooms to make the hospital stay more comfortable for patients and their families.

The new facilities also include sleeping accommodations for patients’ families, family respite areas on each floor, and updated software and equipment for caregivers.

“We want patients to have first-class care, and that starts the moment they step on our campus,” says Ronald R. Peterson, president of The Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System and executive vice president of Johns Hopkins Medicine. “A lot of thought and care has gone into this project, and it shows.”