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Leslie Mertz

Leslie Mertz (lmertz@nasw.org) is a freelance science, medical, and technical writer, author, and educator living in northern Michigan.

Author Articles

Heart to Heart

A person who has had a myocardial infarction often gets excellent emergency treatment at a hospital, and is able to go home or even return to work in a matter of days. Despite this quick recovery, all is not perfect, because the infarction stops blood and oxygen flow, which can quickly kill heart tissue. Unlike many other types of human tissue, heart tissue doesn’t regenerate, so heart function is compromised.

Gift of Sight: Stem-Cell Patches for Wet and Dry Macular Degeneration

For people who have relied on good eyesight for the first six or seven decades of their lives, the diagnosis of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is devastating. This disease, which currently has no cure, can severely limit central vision and, in many cases, may culminate in legal blindness (unable to see the Big E on the eye chart; vision less than 20/200). Early results from two new stem-cell trials, however, suggest that this type of treatment may be able to restore sight in people with both the dry and wet forms of AMD.

Battling Superbugs: How Phage Therapy Went From Obscure to Promising

Until a dangerous bacterial infection left her husband near death 3 years ago, scientist Steffanie Strathdee had never heard of bacteriophage therapy. After it ultimately saved his life, however, she not only has become a staunch advocate of the therapy, but also now serves as co-director of the newly established Center for Innovative Phage Applications and Therapeutics at the University of California San Diego.

New Quantitative Approach to Autism Diagnosis

Only a few years ago, leading autism expert David Amaral described the disorder as a lifelong disability. Today, he acknowledges that description is no longer true. “Research lately shows that a substantial proportion of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) show really substantial improvements in their autism symptoms,” says Amaral.

Opening Act

When an artery is blocked, stents are often the best way to open up the vessel. A mesh stent is tightly crimped over a tiny balloon and guided to the troubled spot; the balloon is inflated, expanding the stent, which forces the vessel open. Blood flow is restored.

Cover Story

The Many Textures of Robotics

Innovative researchers are employing flexible, rather than rigid materials in combination with new design approaches as part of the emerging field of biomedical soft robotics. The idea is to generate tools that conform to and interact with the human body in a much more natural and lightweight way, providing better treatment options for clinicians and translating into better outcomes for patients.

Hospital CIO Explains Blockchain Potential

Work is already underway to bring blockchain technology to the healthcare industry, and hospital administrators are trying to figure out what it can do for them, their clinicians, and their patients. That includes administrators at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a leading academic medical center located in Boston. We interviewed the medical center’s chief information officer (CIO), John D. Halamka, M.D.