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November 20, 2008



Sometimes puns in a headline are the first step towards finding a cure; well, we can hope. Another big step is meeting Howard University Hospital's Terrence Fullum, who's assembled a talented squad to tackle the national epidemic of obesity. Yes, he's a surgeon, but he's enlisted a "bariatrican" (physician devoted to medicine of weight loss, if you're rusty) to ensure a holistic approach to the problem. We weren't there for the first operation in August (trust us, we tried to get in but something about "you can't film here" and "no, your bare hands aren't sterile"), but we did make sure to sit down with Terrence soon thereafter.


Bariatrician Denia Tapscott and Terrence lead the Center for Wellness and Weight Loss Surgery, which launched in March and has targeted disparities, rather than generic obesity. Terrence says, "We're the only country in the world where the lowest socioeconomic class has the highest obesity rate." As a result, the effects on African Americans and Hispanics are disproportionate. The Center provides access to prevention as well as a cure. For example, Terrence is seeking employers with interests in increasing wellness at the workplace and is planning to conduct a study linking childhood obesity to lifelong illness, hoping it will impress upon the District that our "nation-leading" 22.8% childhood obesity rate is unacceptable.


While Terrance doesn't shy away from weight loss surgery when useful—after all, he is Chief of Minimally Invasive Surgery—the Center keep all options on the table and provides medical weight loss solutions under Denia's direction. He's already working to secure funding for a social network website that will help participants keep on top of their weight, from daily reminders to online blood sugar tracking. But first, he and Denia continue to be an example for patients. They work out religiously and practice healthy eating habits. He says it's not bad "for a guy in his 5th decade."


Yes, twins, but not the kind that earn midwives a bonus. They're fully educated Georgetown oncologists, Brian and Sean Collins. Or, is it Sean and Brian? One surefire way to tell them apart—and we're authorized to tell you this—is that Brian is single. (Ladies?) That means appearances still matter, so he must be the one in the tie. He's been with G'town radiation oncology since 2000, and Sean joined two years later, lured by the appeal of Cyberknife. "It wasn't to be with me," says Brian. "I was the downside." Their mother must have taught them well because they generously share radiation duties—Brian specializes in lung cancer; Sean, prostate cancer.


That's Brian on the left and the Cyberknife on the right. Or, wait, is Brian on the right? Quick refresher: Cyberknife was developed at Stanford and is used for precision stereotactic radiosurgery. Using software called Synchrony, it compensates for patient movement, such as breathing, so radiation can be delivered without harming surrounding tissue. Brian tells us that before Synchrony it was like "painting with a roller." Now he lets the computer do all the work and performs 8-12 procedures a day. Next up: Preliminary work to consider expanding Cyberknife to breast cancer. And, no, we're not just writing that to help Brian meet more women.

This isn't Curtis Raye's first attempt at matchmaking. In fact, his friends call him "Yente." But only because it sounds funny. They've never actually seen "Fiddler on the Roof." Send your story ideas and nicknames to Curtis@Bisnow.com.

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