Thursday, March 06, 2003

UPMC Seeks Cure For March Madness

The University of Pittsburgh has produced many innovative medical products – from Starzl’s organ transplant techniques to Salk’s Polio vaccine. Now, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) is working on its biggest project of the new millennium. UPMC doctors and researchers are looking for a cure for March Madness.

“The ‘February Sweeps’ were an easy cure,” explained Dr. Richard Huggins, the Principal Investigator and Head Researcher for the March Madness project, co-sponsored by UPMC and Pitt’s Psychology Department. “For that, we just made sure people got enough Friends to balance out their Seinfeld intake and that was that – America survived. But March Madness… this is a tough sonovabitch.”

March Madness refers to the time in mid-March when people around the country go into fits of anger and convulsions of disgust, as well as experiencing moments of extreme happiness. The symptoms are similar to bi-polar disorder, with patients suffering euphoric highs and depressing lows. It mainly affects men between the ages of 14 and 72.

“I get March Madness myself,” explained Huggins. “Dr. Bentley has a NCAA Tournament Pool that we’ve shown will make even women go mad – though for some reason, they tend to win more than we do. But that question is for a different study – it’s really beyond our scope.”

As the team progresses through their research and clinical tests, they hope to develop a drug that will take some of the edge off. “The goal is first to calm people down,” illustrated Huggins, using a large chart featuring the Petersen Events Center with a long and winding road to New Orleans.

“We hope the drug will let people watch the games with less anxiety. This would make a loss more bearable and a win less overwhelming. I mean, we gotta work fast, especially with the Panthers playing so well. We could have an epidemic on our hands.”

“Thank God March Madness gets pushed back later every year, because we need the time,” said Huggins. “Maybe ‘April Madness’ will be easier to cure.”

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