A Publication of the James Buchanan Brady Urological Institute Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions

From Bench to Bedside, and Back Again


Again and again, the Brady Urological Institute has been named number one in the country by U.S. News and World Report magazine.

A great honor -- but it's also just a headline. The ranking alone doesn't tell you anything about why this is such a special place. (We hope to give you a better look at the "big picture" of our work in this issue of Prostate Cancer Update.) One reason, of course, is the people who work here -- bright, dedicated, innovative, and caring surgeons, scientists, nurses, and staff who, to a person, love what they do.

The other reason is our unusual setup -- a one-of-a-kind environment in which scientists and surgeons work side by side under one roof. This juxtaposition of laboratory and clinical setting encourages surgeons to learn science, and scientists to learn medicine. The magic of this facility is our ability to transfer discovery quickly from the "bench to the bedside," so the latest scientific knowledge can be turned into new avenues for patient care.

The process also works in reverse: The discovery of the nerve-sparing radical prostatectomy and the search for the hereditary prostate cancer gene were both inspired by the bedside. Two decades ago, I saw the first patient who was potent after a standard radical prostatectomy -- an operation once notorious for its extreme bleeding and devastating side effects of incontinence and impotence -- and wondered how this could be possible. Ten years ago, I saw a 49-year-old man with prostate cancer who told me that every male member of his family -- his father, his father's three brothers, and his grandfather -- had died of the disease. These people made me ask some basic questions: Why does impotence occur after prostatectomy? Could prostate cancer be inherited? These questions at the bedside were transferred to the research bench for answers. (For the answer to the hereditary question, click here.)

No matter how our discoveries happen -- whether they begin at the bedside or the bench -- our goal is to understand and eventually conquer prostate cancer. This is our mission; this has been our success. It is our feeling that if this mission does not go forward, the process of discovering new treatments for prostate cancer may be lost. (For more on how you can help, click here).

I am proud and excited to share our latest findings with you as patients who are vital partners in this process of discovery.

Patrick C. Walsh, M.D.

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