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CVM Professor to Promote Worldwide Bone Health in Bulgaria

Posted May 22, 2017

LarrySuvaThough cancer treatment in the United States involves open and communicative relationships between doctors and patients, this isn’t always the case in European countries. Dr. Larry Suva, head of the Department of Veterinary Physiology & Pharmacology at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM), hopes to change this by participating in the Fulbright Specialist Program.

The program, funded by the U.S. Department of State and the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, is giving Suva the opportunity to collaborate with New Bulgarian University in Bulgaria to implement a program in medical care centers that will promote better bone health for cancer, autism spectrum disorder, and Down syndrome patients across Europe.

Suva said that in some European countries—such as Bulgaria, Austria, the Czech Republic, and parts of Italy—there is a lack of communication between doctors and patients. As a result, patients can be left feeling lost or confused about the next step in treating their illness or managing their disorder.

In fact, following an oncology visit, many patients in Bulgaria are referred to a psychologist who is familiar with the person’s medical case for follow-up care, including counseling and survivorship. Suva said this process can be hard on patients who are often left with little direction or support.

After learning about this, Suva pursued the Fulbright Program to make a positive change in doctor-patient relationships and create support networks for European patients that would address potential health concerns, such as bone health, during treatment.

“We want to set up a program where people with Down syndrome, autism spectrum disorder, and cancer can get support and information about nutrition and their skeleton,” Suva said. “In these patients, bone fractures are catastrophic.”

But the program is not limited to Bulgaria. Suva is hopeful the program will be successful in Bulgaria so it can be transplanted to other European countries.

Additionally, designing and implementing the program will also give medical and psychology students at New Bulgarian University a chance to learn more about how certain disorders and diseases negatively affect the skeleton. This knowledge could help create a better future for patients with bone health concerns.

“As students are being trained, they're going to learn the consequences of bone fractures, poor nutrition, and poor bone health during the treatment journey,” Suva said. “Then, they are going to find a path toward a healthy healing process.”

Through the Fulbright Program, Suva will make improvements in bone health awareness for cancer, autism, and Down syndrome patients. By creating support networks and helping patients in Bulgaria build better relationships with their doctors, Suva will gain the knowledge and experience necessary to make positive changes in other European countries, too.

“Even if my the program only helps a few people, someone has to start,” Suva said.

Read more about Suva's work in an upcoming edition of CVM Today.

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For more information about the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, please visit our website at vetmed.tamu.edu or join us on Facebook , Instagram , and Twitter.

Contact Information: Megan Palsa, Executive Director of Communications, Media & Public Relations, Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Science; mpalsa@cvm.tamu.edu ; 979-862-4216; 979-421-3121 (cell)



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