MUSIC AS MEDICINE
Cellist Yo-Yo Ma Talks Music, Science

Cellist Yo-Yo Ma plays music at Rall Lecture.
Cellist Yo-Yo Ma plays music at Rall Lecture.

Something profound happens in the brain when we enjoy music. It draws us in, time and again, rousing our emotions. And it has no boundaries. Music can transport us to different moods, experiences and cultures.

Renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma explored how music intersects with science and culture during a casual and witty conversation with NIH director Dr. Francis Collins at the recent annual J. Edward Rall Cultural Lecture.

While it undoubtedly takes talent and persistence to master playing a musical instrument, Ma divulged his scientific secret behind becoming a virtuoso who can play all six Bach solo cello suites from memory. “You learn what you need to learn by heart before you’re 20,” he quipped.

Ma, 61, started playing cello at age 4. After more than a half century of performing, he’s grateful to play music as his life’s work.

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Chou Urges Non-Opioid Therapies for Chronic Pain

Dr. Roger Chou urges avoidance of opioids.
Dr. Roger Chou urges avoidance of opioids.

Pain is a major public health concern in the United States. More than 25 million of us experience it every day, according to the National Health Interview Survey. But treating it with opioids, a class of pain-relieving drugs, invites problems including misuse, addiction and overdose. Common opioids include hydrocodone, oxycodone, fentanyl and morphine. How can health care providers and their patients with chronic pain, which differs from acute pain, evaluate these drugs and other potential treatments so that care can be as effective and safe as possible?

Dr. Roger Chou, an expert on clinical guidelines and systematic reviews on health topics, provided insights in a recent lecture at NIH. He focused on clinical practice guidelines for primary care providers on opioid treatment of adults with chronic pain. The guidelines coauthored by him were released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last March. Chou is professor of medicine at Oregon Health & Science University, director of the Pacific Northwest Evidence-based Practice Center and a board-certified internist. His talk was part of the Integrative Medicine Research Lecture Series sponsored by NCCIH, whose research portfolio has a major emphasis on pain management.

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