Children's doctors make headlines

If you were near a computer, TV or newspaper this past week, there’s a good chance you learned something about a researcher or doctor from Children’s Hospital Boston. Children’s researchers were recently featured in a wide variety of mainstream media outlets, here’s some highlights.

Leonard Zon, MD, director of the Stem Cell Program at Children’s Hospital Boston, was the subject of Nova’s ‘Secret Life of Scientists and Engineers,’ a popular series which profiles some of the world’s leading scientific innovators. The series not only gives viewers insight into the work and research done by these gifted minds, but also what inspires them personally. Zon maybe renowned for his stem cell research, but did you know he’s an accomplished musician as well? For more on Zon’s science and musical background, watch the full episode.

Frances Jensen, MD, a Children’s neurologist and director of Epilepsy Research, recently spoke with CNN’s Sanjay Gupta about her research on how drugs and alcohol affect teenage brains differently than those of adults, and may be even more dangerous than many people realize.

“Brain development is actively transpiring even in the teen brain, and [if] you throw in a drug on top of that, you could change the trajectory of brain development.” said Dr. Frances Jensen of Children’s Hospital Boston. “The teen brain learns so handily; unfortunately it can get addicted a lot faster, stronger and longer. It’s important that this information gets to teenagers, that they’re made aware of their vulnerable and impressionable brain state.”

Weekly Thrive contributor Michael Rich, MD, MPH, media expert and director of Children’s Center on Media and Child Health, was interviewed extensively for the cover story in yesterday’s New York Times, which explored whether or not excessive media use by teenagers could have negative effects on their attention spans throughout life.

“Downtime is to the brain what sleep is to the body,” said Dr. Rich of Harvard Medical School. “But kids are in a constant mode of stimulation.”

“The headline is: bring back boredom,” added Dr. Rich, who last month gave a speech to the American Academy of Pediatrics entitled, Finding Huck Finn: Reclaiming Childhood from the River of Electronic Screens. Dr. Rich said in an interview that he was not suggesting young people should toss out their devices, but rather that they embrace a more balanced approach to what he said were powerful tools necessary to compete and succeed in modern life.