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Simulation reveals how body repairs balance after injury
September 27, 2007
When the brain’s neural pathways are impaired through injury, age or illness, muscles are deprived of the detailed sensory information they need to perform the constant yet delicate balancing act required for normal movement and standing.
With an eye towards building robots that can balance like humans, researchers at Emory and Georgia Tech have created a computer simulation that sheds new light on how the nervous system reinvents its communication with muscles after sensory loss. The findings could someday be used to better diagnose and rehabilitate patients with balance problems (through normal aging or diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis or Parkinson’s) by retraining their muscles and improving overall balance. The research will be published in the October issue of Nature Neuroscience and was funded by the Whitaker Foundation.
“The ultimate goal of rehabilitation is for the patient to find the best way to adapt to their particular deficit. This system may help predict what the optimum combination of muscle and nerve activity looks like for each patient, helping patients and doctors set realistic goals and speeding recovery,” said Lena Ting, lead researcher on the project and an assistant professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory.
The Georgia Tech and Emory team hypothesized that the nervous system relies more heavily on the relationship between the body’s center of gravity and its environment to control balance. To test their theory, the researchers created a computer simulation that could accurately simulate standing balance and muscle reaction to balance disturbance by focusing on the relation of the subject’s center of gravity to the ground.
They determined that subjects who had impaired sensory information were slowly using new sensory pathways to track the motion of the body’s center of gravity, compensating for the loss of information from the damaged sensory pathways. In effect, the subjects’ muscles were using different neural information to perform the same balance tasks, resulting in muscle activity patterns that looked “abnormal,” but that were actually similar to the predicted optimum.
“This finding will change the way we approach rehabilitation,” Ting said. “We can’t expect patients to mimic normal balance performance when they’re using a different set of sensory information. Instead, our system identifies the best performance possible given a patient’s level and type of sensory impairment.”
Major events in October: Life of the Mind Inaugural Lecture, Emory Women's Symposium
September 20, 2007
Early October brings two major intellectual events to Emory's intellectual community. On Wednesday, October 3, the new Life of the Mind Lecture Series launches with Frans de Waal, C. H. Candler Professor of Primate Behavior and Director, Living Links Center, Yerkes National Primate Research Center, speaking on “Our Inner Ape: What Primate Behavior Teaches Us About Human Nature.” This new lecture series was created by the Office of the Provost and the Faculty Council in response to faculty and student’s desire for more interdisciplinary communication at Emory. Framed in a way that non-specialists can understand, the lectures are designed to appeal to a broad audience of faculty, staff and students as well as the wider community. The free lectures, held at noon in the Woodruff Library as part of “Wonderful Wednesdays,” will include ample time for discussion. Organizers hope that the lectures will spark connections, such as collaborations between professors and students or among faculty from different departments.
The rest of the fall series features
Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Chemistry and Biology
“On the Origins of Evolution”
Eddy Von Mueller
Lecturer in Film Studies
"The Empty Set: Labor, Technology and the Transmogrification of 21st Century Cinema"
On Thursday, October 4, and Friday, October 5, the symposium "Women at Emory: Past, Present, and Future," sponsored by the President's Commission on the Status of Women, The Center for Women, the Women's Studies Program, and the Office of the Provost, will feature keynote speaker Nancy Cantor, chancellor and president of Syracuse University, as well as readings, panel discussions, and presentations by leaders and scholars among the community of women at Emory. Break-out sessions will feature three tracks: Women in the Professions, Women's Health, and Women in culture and society.
The symposium begins on October 4 at 3:00 p.m. in the Jones Room of the Woodruff Library and resumes on October 5 at 8:00 a.m. in the third floor ballroom of Cox Hall. No registration is necessary. For a full schedule and more details visit www.pcsw.emory.edu.
Poet Kevin Young wins Quill Book Award
September 14, 2007
Kevin Young, Atticus Haygood Professor of English, was selected as the Quill Book Award for poetry for his collection, For the Confederate Dead, (Alfred A. Knopf). The award will be presented at the annual ceremony on October 22 in New York City.
“The Quill Awards acknowledge the power and importance of the written word, and we are proud to bring added awareness to this year’s recipients, representing a range of accomplished and beloved authors,” said John Wallace, president of NBC Universal Television Stations, one of the award’s sponsors.
The awards were established to celebrate excellence in writing and publishing; recognize and praise the creators of important books and great literature; interest more consumers in acquiring books and reading; and act as a bellwether for literacy initiatives.
Kevin Young is the author of five poetry collections, and editor of four others. His most recent volume, For the Confederate Dead, has been featured in The Boston Globe, The Los Angeles Times, Entertainment Weekly, and on National Public Radio. Young’s first book, Most Way Home, was selected for the National Poetry Series by Lucille Clifton, and itlater won the Zacharis First Book Prize from Ploughshares. Young’s second book, To Repel Ghosts, a “double album” based on the work of the late artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, was a finalist for the James Laughlin Prize from the Academy of American Poets and was reissued in a “remix” version in 2005. Young's third poetry collection, Jelly Roll, won the Paterson Poetry Prize and was a finalist for both the National Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. His previous collection, Black Maria, a film noir in verse, was been recently staged by the Providence Black Repertory Theater.
Other 2007 Quill Award winners include Diane Setterfield, debut author of the year (The Thirteenth Tale); Cormac McCarthy, general fiction (The Road); and Al Gore, for the second year in a row for history/current events/politics. (The Assault on Reason). Recipient also include Amy Sedaris, Nora Roberts, and Walter Isaacson.
Response to “Science in the Seams”
September 12, 2007
I enjoyed reading "Science in the Seams" very much and found much of it quite exciting.
One gets the impression, especially from Professor of Biomolecular Chemistry David Lynn's comments, that what is typically referred to as "basic science" is passe. Yet consider the basic science that gave us "quantum dots" and "nanoscience." These scientific breakthroughs have made huge and quite unexpected impacts in medicine, especially here at Emory. Dobbs Professor of Chemistry Lanny Liebeskind marvels at the capabilities of modern computers and mentions their fantastic speed and storage. The science that led to these great leaps in computational power are the "passe" ones of the twentieth century. Nanoscience, quantum computing, coherent control may take us to the next great breakthrough in computer power.
The prestigious journal Science featured on the cover of the 10 August 2007 issue the title "Attosecond Spectroscopy." This is another emerging and very exciting field in basic science. The issue contains articles and commentary on the fantastic potential of this new tool to look at biological processes in incredible detail. Undoubtedly new discoveries of how complex systems work will result from this new tool from basic science.
My point is the complex sciences, of which medicine and biology are examples, have always been advanced by the basic sciences. There is no reason to think this will not continue. And I'm confident that all the faculty quoted in "Science in the Seams" would agree with this and would support continued and perhaps even growing support of both the basic and complex sciences at Emory.
Joel M. Bowman
Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor
Department of Chemistry
Jews and Christians: Divided by a Common Book, Sept 16, 3:00, Carlos Museum
September 11, 2007
On Sunday, September 16, the Carlos Museum presents "Jews and Christians: Divided by a Common Book." This panel discussion features thirty-minute papers by each of these renowned scholars followed by discussion. A coffee and dessert break follows the second paper. “From the Bible to the Mishnah: the Emergence of Rabbinic Judaism,” Shaye Cohen, Nathan Littauer Professor of Hebrew Literature and Philosophy, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University; “Swallowing Jonah: Christianity's Borrowed Identity and the Prophet Who Wouldn't,” Wayne Meeks, Woolsey Professor Emeritus of Biblical Studies, Department of Religious Studies, Yale University. This event will take place at 3:00pm in the Michael C. Carlos Museum Reception Hall. It is free. For more information, please contact the Carlos Museum at 727-4282 or firstname.lastname@example.org
New Nanoparticle Could Provide Simple Early Diagnosis of Many Diseases
The ultimate goal is to use nanoparticles as a simple, all-purpose diagnostic tool for most diseases. In the future, the nanoparticle would be injected into a certain area of the body (the heart, for instance). If the nanoparticles encountered hydrogen peroxide, they would emit light. Should a doctor see a significant amount of light activity in the area, they might be able to discern early signs of disease in that area of the body.
August 28, 2007
Most people think of hydrogen peroxide as a topical germ killer, but the chemical is gaining steam in the medical community as an early indicator of disease in the body.
Emory and Georgia Institute of Technology researchers are the first to create a nanoparticle capable of detecting and imaging trace amounts of hydrogen peroxide in animals. The nanoparticles, thought to be completely nontoxic, could some day be used as a simple, all-purpose diagnostic tool to detect the earliest stages of any disease that involves chronic inflammation—everything from cancer and Alzheimer's to heart disease and arthritis.
The research, lead by Niren Murthy at the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Dr. Robert Taylor in the Division of Cardiology at the Emory School of Medicine, is published online and will appear in the October issue of Nature Materials. The research was funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.
Hydrogen peroxide is thought to be over-produced by cells at the early stages of most diseases. Because there were previously no imaging techniques available to capture this process in the body, the details of how the hydrogen peroxide is produced and its role in a developing disease must still be determined. The Georgia Tech and Emory nanoparticles may be the key to better understanding the role of hydrogen peroxide in the progression of many diseases and later play an important diagnostic role.
“These nanoparticles are incredibly sensitive so you can detect [very small] concentrations of hydrogen peroxide,” says Murthy. “That's important because researchers aren’t yet certain what amounts of hydrogen peroxide are present in various diseases.”
Enrollment Surge for Women in Sciences
August 17, 2007
As concern has grown about declining enrollments of men generally in higher education, engineering colleges and technology institutes have the opposite problem: not enough women. But more than two years after Larry Summers thrust the controversy over women in the sciences into the spotlight, a number of technologically oriented colleges have posted significant gains in women’s enrollment that admissions officers are attributing in part to beefed-up outreach efforts, according to the August 7 issue of Inside Higher Education.
Administrators are also finding that many women matriculating at technology-oriented colleges are angling towards specific majors in the life sciences, biomedical engineering, and environmental engineering. The trends suggest that new ways of targeting specific groups of students can lead to real results in the ultimate makeup of a freshman class. And once that class reaches campus, evidence suggests, the women do just as well—or even better—than their male counterparts, in both performance and retention. The upward trend has shown itself not only at elite institutions such as the California Institute of Technology and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (where women made up forty-four percent of the undergraduate population in the last academic year), but at their lower- and middle-tier counterparts as well, such as Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy NY, which has seen a fifty-four percent increase in female enrollment over the past five years; their incoming class will be thirty-one percent female.
Part of the solution, according to admissions officers, has been marketing. Last year at Michigan Technological University—where twenty-four percent of its 6,544 undergraduate and graduate students are women—officials placed female students on the cover of the viewbook and arranged for enrolled women to make calls to prospective students who might be worried about the institution’s gender breakdown. Enrollment for last fall jumped from nineteen to twenty-six percent women, said John B. Lehman, Michigan Tech’s assistant vice president for enrollment services. “I think that that air of authenticity appealed to a lot of the women who were shopping around for a degree,” he said.
Overall, the trends at these various colleges tend to include a recent dip in female enrollment, followed by a big boost; increases in the number of applications; and references to national outreach and education efforts. Not only are individual colleges making inroads with their female applicant pool, but programs across the country are taking aim at girls—possibly in the wake of the Summers fiasco—and extolling the advantages of studying science and engineering fields.
Visit the Academic Exchange coverage of issues around women in the sciences.
Poet Kevin Young on PBS’s The NewsHour
August 13, 2007
“Both of my parents were from Louisiana, rural southern segregated Louisiana, and I often write about that, and that brought me to my new book, For the Confederate Dead, which is very much about the South, and returning to the South, and also wrestling with some of the demons of history and war.” That’s what Kevin Young, Atticus Haygood Professor or English, said during an appearance on the August 7 episode of the PBS television show, The News Hour, where he describe his recently released collection of poems, For the Confederate Dead. He went on to say that he grew up in Kansas, and moved around a lot, and comes from a long line of musicians, preachers, and storytellers.
“I think the title, For the Confederate Dead, is both ironic and also reverent. I think also I’m trying to reclaim that word and change the word ‘Confederate’ a little bit. I guess my new definition of Confederate is the old definition, as in a friend, an ally. I was trying to honor this history, and make up my own Confederates, from Gwendolyn Brooks, who opens the book, to Lionel Hampton, the jazz musician, to my friend, Filippe Wamba, who died. . . .
“Writing is a necessity, you know. It’s not just fun, though it can be fun, and it’s not just torture, though it can be torture, too. I think the point is really to find that middle ground between pleasure and necessity, and for me that’s what a poem is. My previous book, Black Maria, is a sort of film noir in verse. Sometime after I had finished the book I heard from the Providence Black Repertory Company, and I was just thrilled to hear that they were interested in doing it as a stage production.”
Young read several of his poems, including Redemption Song, which he called “a poem about personal grief but also about the transformative power of beauty and the healing power of time.”
Grief might be easy
if there wasn’t still
such beauty--would be far
simpler if the silver
maple didn’t thrust
its leaves into flame,
trusting that spring
will find it again.
All this might be easier if
there wasn’t a song
still lifting us above it,
if wind didn’t trouble
my mind like water.
I half expect to see you
fill the autumn air
At night I sleep
on clenched fists.
Days I’m like the child
who on the playground
not so much from pain
Concussion Evaluation System Lets Athletes Know When It’s Safe to Return to the Field
August 3, 2007
To ensure better management of sports concussions, physicians at the Emory Sports Medicine Center have incorporated Immediate Post-concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing (ImPACT) into their program for high-school athletes.
“The computer-based test is a breakthrough for concussion management,” says Ken Mautner, assistant professor in the Department of Orthopaedics. “It eliminates much of the uncertainty and nervousness about return to play. We can finally objectively evaluate what has always been a very subjective decision. It is the equivalent of giving the brain a physical exam.”
A concussion is not an unusual injury for athletes who participate in contact sports. Athletes who are sent back into the game before the brain is allowed to heal, however, are at risk for more serious injury. “Previously ImPACT was available only to athletes on collegiate, elite, or professional sports teams, or within athletic organizations,” Mautner says.
Concussions are caused by sudden and violent rocking of the brain inside of the skull from a traumatic blow to the head or upper body. They occur in about 10 percent of all athletes in contact sports. Symptoms vary in length of time and may include amnesia, disorientation, confusion, fogginess, headache, blurred vision, nausea, fatigue, and sometimes loss of consciousness.
Athletes in the ImPACT program take a twenty-minute baseline test on a computer that measures brain processing such as speed, memory, and visual motor skills.
Athletes who suffer an injury will take the ImPACT test several times in the days following the concussion. Post-concussion data are then compared to baseline data to help determine the severity and effects of the injury. Most athletes recover completely as long as they don’t return to play too soon. Repeated concussions are cumulative and may cause critical damage to the brain.
Lawyer for Enemy Combatant Joins Faculty
July 27, 2007
Former Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift, counsel to an enemy combatant whose legal case made Supreme Court history, has been named acting director of the newly-established International Humanitarian Law Clinic at Emory University School of Law.
Swift, who represents Salim Hamdan in his ongoing legal fight against his enemy combatant designation, also will teach international humanitarian law, criminal law, evidence and military law, as a visiting associate professor this fall.
Swift, a runner-up for The National Law Journal's Lawyer of the Year award in 2005 for his work on behalf of Yemeni detainee Hamdan, was denied a promotion to full commander and under Navy policy, he was required to leave the service. Shortly before the promotion denial, he and his co-counsel, Professor Neal Katyal of Georgetown University Law Center, had won their controversial Supreme Court challenge with a ruling that the military commission system for trying enemy combatants violated military and international law. Hamdan v. Rumsfeld. He and Katyal continue to represent Hamdan, a driver for Osama bin Laden, in challenges to later changes in the Military Commission Act.
Swift's interest in Emory, he said, was triggered during a spring semester visit when he gave a lecture on U.S. detention policies in Guantanamo Bay. The law school, he said, expressed an interest in making a practical difference in the field of international humanitarian law.
“International humanitarian law governs the use of military force, and as such, it represents the ground floor for the protection of human rights,” Swift said.
The idea for an IHL clinic evolved out of the work of six Emory law students this past academic year, according to the law school. The students were part of a course that included a workshop with attorneys at the Atlanta office of Sutherland Asbill & Brennan. The students helped attorneys handling pro bono cases for Guantanamo detainees.
With Swift at the helm, the students will gain firsthand experience in the practice of humanitarian law by assisting organizations, law firms and military tribunals in prosecuting or defending individuals.
To read an excerpt from Swift’s remarks during his spring visit, visit the AEWeekly archive.
Researchers Discover Gene Responsible for Restless Legs Syndrome
July 20, 2007
After a four-year study, an international team of researchers, including several from Emory, has identified the first gene associated with Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS), a common sleep disorder affecting tens of millions of people worldwide. The findings are published July 18 in the online edition of the New England Journal of Medicine and will appear in an upcoming printed edition of the journal. The work was led by scientists at Emory and deCODE Genetics, Inc., in Reykjavik, Iceland.
Restless legs syndrome is a condition that produces an intense, often irresistible urge to move the legs and is a major cause of insomnia and sleep disruption. RLS affects approximately 10 percent of the U.S. population and about one percent of school-aged children. The discovery provides strong new evidence that RLS is a genuine syndrome, a fact which has recently been the subject of some debate.
“We now have concrete evidence that RLS is an authentic disorder with recognizable features and underlying biological basis,” said David Rye, professor of neurology in the School of Medicine, director of the Emory Healthcare Program in Sleep, and one of the study’s lead authors. “This is the most definitive link between genetics and RLS that has been reported to date. We have known for quite some time that the majority of RLS patients have a close family member with the disorder, and now we have found a gene which is clearly linked to RLS.”
Donald L. Bliwise, professor of neurology, and Salina Waddy, assistant professor of neurology, also contributed to the study.
The researchers report a population-attributable risk for RLS of at least 50 percent, meaning that were the gene variant not present, more than half of all RLS cases would disappear. The variant is very common—nearly 65 percent of the population carries at least one copy of the variant. Two copies of the variant more than doubles one’s risk of experiencing RLS.
According to Dr. Rye, having two copies does not ensure that one will develop symptoms of RLS. “There remain yet-to-be-identified medical, environmental or genetic factors that appear necessary to translate genetic susceptibility into RLS symptoms,” he said. Rye added that though RLS is very common, it is not taught as a part of standard medical education, leading many medical professionals, educators, and academicians to challenge its commonality and authenticity.
To read the AE article about Emory's sleep research program, visit Anatomy of a Lullaby, February/March 2005.
Rollins Family Gives $50 Million Gift to School of Public Health
July 13, 2007
The Rollins School of Public Health of Emory University has received a commitment of $50 million from the O. Wayne Rollins Foundation and Grace Crum Rollins, Emory University President James W. Wagner announced last Monday. The gift will enable the school to more than double its physical space and help to attract high-caliber faculty and students.
Specifically, the funding will be used to create a public health complex with 160,000 square feet of new space and designed to enhance collaboration with Atlanta based public health partners, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Carter Center, as well as partners throughout Emory. The new building will provide onsite and virtual educational opportunities as well as enhanced research space, more laboratory space, technologically sophisticated “smart” classrooms, offices, conference space, and an auditorium.
“This new gift from the Rollins family reflects their vision and their desire to go to extraordinary lengths to ensure that we have the capacity to make our leadership for public health a reality, both locally and globally,” said University President James W. Wagner.
The Rollins family has been a generous benefactor to Emory for generations. Earlier gifts include major funding for the construction of the Grace Crum Rollins Building, and donations to the Candler School of Theology, the O. Wayne Rollins Research Building, and the Rollins School of Public Health. Their commitments to Emory were recognized with the naming of the School of Public Health in 1994. O. Wayne Rollins, an entrepreneur, orchestrated what is recognized as the first leveraged buyout when he purchased Orkin Inc. in 1964.
“The new facility will provide state-of-the-art space needed to accelerate teaching and collaborative research in key areas including global health, predictive health, infectious disease, nutrition, cancer, diabetes, and other chronic diseases,” said Rollins School of Public Health Dean James W. Curran.
Research University Competition Heats Up
July 6, 2007
The “greatness game” among top research universities is moving at an ever increasing pace. Yale University recently announced the purchase of the 136-acre Bayer HealthCare campus in New Haven, Connecticut. The acquisition will allow Yale to begin science and medical research in the next few years that otherwise would have been delayed ten to fifteen years as if new facilities were built from the ground up, the university’s president, Richard C. Levin, told the New York Times. The campus contains seventeen buildings with more than half a million square feet of laboratories, offices, and warehouses. The cost is estimated at about $100 million. Levin said that money was not a problem and that Yale would pay cash.
The move is another sign of the intense pressure on major research universities to draw top scientists. According to the Times article (July 4), research universities nationwide are trying to add acreage to their campuses, often at a substantial cost and over the opposition of local residents. For example, Harvard acquired about three hundred acres in a Boston neighborhood with plans to build a life sciences building this fall. Columbia is seeking to get New York City to rezone seventeen acres just north of its thirty-six acre main campus so it can build science labs and other buildings. And the University of Pennsylvania will acquire twenty-four acres in Philadelphia from the United States Postal Service this summer, part of which will be used for research space.
Robert M. Berdahl, president of the Association of American Universities, called Yale’s purchase “a real boost” for its scientists. Berdahl said that although the University of California, Berkeley, started a biomedical initiative eight years ago, when he was chancellor there, the first significant building in that project was just now being completed.
“Acquiring the right kind of laboratory space to allow people from different disciplines to work together is critical,” he said. “Virtually all this new space that Yale is acquiring has that character.”
Read the New York Times article “At Yale, A New Campus Just For Research.”
To read AE coverage of competition among research universities for top scientists and scholars, click on
The Greatness Game: Strengthening Faculty Distinction at Emory and
Staying Power: Challenges in Faculty Recruitment and Retention at Emory
Emotions on Politicians’ Brains
June 28, 2007
Emotion trumps logic and facts when it comes to how people choose their political leaders. That’s the bare-bones message from research conducted by Drew Westen, professor of psychology and psychiatry. His work has gotten a lot of media attention lately, as the 2008 race heats up. Recently he was interviewed on NPR’s Morning Edition and MSNBC. He’s also getting calls from candidates, though he won’t disclose who.
Westen details his years of research, and what it all means for the political process and the country’s future, in his new book, The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation.
In one part of his work, Westen conducted MRIs to look at brains of voters during the run-up to the 2004 election. The subjects were shown a statement made by either George Bush or John Kerry, followed by a contradictory statement or action they had made. Bush supporters were quick to believe that Kerry would contradict himself, but the brain tried to find a way around contradictions spoken by Bush. The same pattern occurred for Kerry supporters.
“Essentially, it appears as if partisans twirl the cognitive kaleidoscope until they get the conclusions they want, and then they get massively reinforced for it, with the elimination of negative emotional states and activation of positive ones,” Westen told MSNBC in describing how his findings play out in the political arena. “We did not see any increased activation of the parts of the brain normally engaged during reasoning. What we saw instead was a network of emotion circuits lighting up, including circuits hypothesized to be involved in regulating emotion, and circuits known to be involved in resolving conflicts. . . . The result is that partisan beliefs are calcified, and the person can learn very little from new data.”
The findings, Westen said, also explain that Democrats have lost the last two presidential elections because the candidates backed down from defending themselves against character attacks and failed to launch similarly visceral retaliations that could grab voters’ attention.
Pakistan Condemns Rushdie Knighthood
June 20, 2007
Pakistan on Monday condemned Britain’s award of a knighthood to author Salman Rushdie as an affront to Muslim sentiments, and a Cabinet minister said the honor provided a justification for suicide attacks, according to news reports.
“This is an occasion for the [world’s] 1.5 billion Muslims to look at the seriousness of this decision,” Mohammed Ijaz ul-Haq, religious affairs minister, said in parliament.
“The West is accusing Muslims of extremism and terrorism. If someone exploded a bomb on his body, he would be right to do so unless the British government apologizes and withdraws the ‘sir’ title,” ul-Haq said.
In October, the acclaimed writer joined Emory’s faculty as Distinguished Writer in Residence and gave his archive to the Woodruff Library. His 1980 novel Midnight’s Children won the Booker Prize, Britain’s most prestigious literary award.
Iran’s late spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, issued a 1989 fatwa, or religious edict, ordering Muslims to kill the author because his book The Satanic Verses allegedly insulted Islam. The threat forced Rushdie to live in hiding for a decade. Britain’s envoy defended the decision to honor Rushdie, one of the most prominent novelists of the late twentieth century. Britain announced the knighthood on Saturday in an honors list timed for the official celebration of the Queen's eight-first birthday. In the eastern city of Multan, hard-line Muslim students burned effigies of Queen Elizabeth II and Rushdie. About one hundred students carrying banners condemning the author also chanted, “Kill him! Kill him!”
Lawmakers in Pakistan’s lower house of parliament on Monday passed a resolution proposed by Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Sher Afgan Khan Niazi who branded Rushdie — who was born in India into a Muslim family — a “blasphemer.”
Robert Brinkley, Britain's high commissioner to Pakistan, defended the decision to honor Rushdie for his contributions to literature. “It is simply untrue to suggest that this in anyway is an insult to Islam or the Prophet Muhammed, and we have enormous respect for Islam as a religion and for its intellectual and cultural achievements,” Brinkley said.
Library offers print-on-demand rare/out-of-print books
June 14, 2007
If you want to hold a particular antique volume from Emory’s library in your hand, smell its ancient must, feel the embossed lettering on the binding, then you have to take yourself to the library. But if you just want to read the words, you may be able to do it from your home, your office, a coffeeshop—or anywhere you can get an Internet connection.
Emory is launching a digital scholarship project in which books from its collections will be digitized and made available on Amazon.com as well as through other book distribution channels. It will enable Emory to apply automated scanning technology to thousands of rare, out-of-print books in its research collections, making it possible for scholars to browse their pages on the Internet, or order bound, printed copies. Emory has partnered with Kirtas Technologies, which specializes in digital scanning technology.
“We believe that mass digitization and print-on-demand publishing is an important new model for digital scholarship that is going to revolutionize the management of academic materials, said Martin Halbert, director for digital programs and systems at the Robert W. Woodruff Library. “Information will no longer be lost in the mists of time when books go out of print. This is a way of opening up the past to the future.”
Initiatives to digitize library collections have gained traction, and significant publicity, with the announcement in 2004 of the Google Book Search Library Project, the ambitious effort to digitize the world’s books and make them searchable on the Web. A number of prominent institutions have signed on, including Harvard, University of Michigan, and Stanford, as well as universities in Europe.
There is one notable holdout, however: the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin, which houses an enormous and highly regarded literary archive (not to mention a lock of Byron’s hair). More to their liking is the touch and feel of the “real thing” over replications. The director of the center, Thomas Staley, stated adamantly in a recent New Yorker article that the object itself can never be replaced by a digital reproduction.
There are no such qualms at Emory, according to Rick Luce, vice provost and director of libraries. “That need can be met by physically coming to the library and putting your hands on those materials. But this project will make those materials available in a wider context,” he said. “My observation is that we’ve got a digital generation, and increasingly if things aren’t available on the Web they become invisible. There’s a lot of data out there to support that contention.”
Materials in Emory’s collections that are rare and unique to the history of the university and the South are currently being digitized as part of a pilot project. The university expects the print-on-demand feature for these targeted materials to become available by the fall semester. Altogether, the university houses more than 200,000 out-of-print volumes that were published before 1923.
To read the Academic Exchange's coverage of the growing role of digital technology in the academic library, visit "Library Past, Library Present: The age and angst of digitization."
Physician elected to American Society of Clinical Investigation
June 7, 2007
Fadlo R. Khuri, deputy director for Clinical and Translational Research at the Winship Cancer Institute, has been elected to the prestigious American Society of Clinical Investigation. The ASCI, established in 1908, is one of the nation’s oldest and most respected medical honor societies. Khuri is the first physician scientist from Emory’s Hematology and Oncology section to be elected to the organization.
Each year, ASCI members nominate colleagues who have made significant accomplishments in their careers at a relatively early age—forty-five or younger.
“I am truly honored to have been nominated and elected into ASCI,” said Khuri. “As we move forward in cancer research and treatment, the ability to collaborate and share ideas is critical to our success. Organizations such as ASCI play an important role in bringing physicians and researchers together for this purpose.”
In addition to serving as deputy director at Winship, Khuri serves as the Blomeyer Professor of Hematology and Oncology; professor of Hematology & Oncology, Otolaryngology, Medicine and Pharmacology; and chief medical officer and co-director of the Institute's Cancer Drug Discovery, Development, and Delivery Program. In 2006, the National Cancer Institute awarded Khuri $7.9 million for his translational research project, “Targeting Cell Signaling in Lung Cancer to Enhance Therapeutic Efficacy.”
“Membership [in ASCI] is considered an exceptional honor in academic medicine and industry, and Dr. Khuri has certainly earned this honor," said Thomas Lawler, dean of the School of Medicine and an ASCI member. “He is devoted to improving therapies for tobacco-related cancers, which account for the majority of cancer deaths, and his focus is on developing novel treatment strategies for patients facing poor outcomes. Dr. Khuri’s work is advancing the body of knowledge in cancer research and treatment.”
MLA Calls for Language Instruction Reform
May 31, 2007
Declaring the traditional model for undergraduate foreign language instruction to be “rigid and hierarchical,” as well as outdated and narrow, the Modern Language Association (MLA) has called for major reforms, according to a recent article in Higher Education.
In a report issued by a special MLA committee, the organization urged departments to reorganize how languages are taught and who does the teaching. In general, it suggested a shift from the traditional model that starts with basic language training and moves to literary study to one in which a greater emphasis is placed on history, culture, economics and linguistics, and other topics of the societies whose languages are being taught. The MLA report also raised questions about academic staffing and calls for departments to give adjuncts and lecturers more of a role in the curriculum, while not letting tenure-track faculty members stay away from the first parts of the language major. In addition, the report envisions a different sort of graduate education to prepare professors to teach in this way, and calls on departments in the humanities and social sciences to take language requirements for doctoral students more seriously.
“The language major should be structured to produce a specific outcome: educated speakers who have deep translingual and transcultural competence,” the report says. “Advanced language training often seeks to replicate the competence of an educated native speaker, a goal that post-adolescent learners rarely reach.”
Rosemary G. Feal, executive director of the MLA and a Spanish professor by training, acknowledged that some have wondered if the association wasn’t “rattling the cages” by exploring these issues. Feal acknowledged that the changes being called for wouldn’t be easy for everyone, and that some would be controversial. But she said that in the wake of 9/11, there is growing consensus about the importance of language instruction, about the inadequacy of American students’ language skills, and a willingness to consider new models.
The MLA also calls for changes outside of language departments:
- The creation of language requirements for undergraduates majoring in fields such as history, anthropology, music, art history, philosophy, and sociology, and for those preparing for careers in law, medicine, and engineering.
- The enforcement of language requirements in doctoral programs, which have lost some of their requirements and much of their enforcement, the report says.
- Expansion of efforts to train graduate students on using technology to teach languages.
- The promotion of efforts for faculty members to learn new languages.
Faculty in Emory's program of language instruction in Italian anticipated some of these calls several years ago and have designed a pedagogy designed to help students attain "translingual and transcultural competence." Italian studies lectures Christine Ristaino and Judy Raggi-Moore wrote about the approach for the Academic Exchange in September 2006. Read the article here.
Ape Gestures Offer Clues to the Evolution of Human Communication
May 24, 2007
Researchers at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center have found bonobos and chimpanzees use manual gestures of their hands, feet, and limbs more flexibly than they do facial expressions and vocalizations, further supporting the evolution of human language began with gestures as the gestural origin hypothesis of language suggests. The study appears in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Working with two groups of bonobos (thirteen animals) and two groups of chimpanzees (thirty-four animals), Amy Pollick, a recent Emory PhD, and Frans de Waal, C.H. Candler Professor of Primate Behavior, distinguished thirty-one manual gestures and eighteen facial/vocal signals. They found both species used facial/vocal signals similarly, but the same did not hold true for the manual gestures. Both within and between species the manual gestures were less closely tied to a particular emotion and thereby serve a more adaptable function. For example, a single gesture may communicate an entirely different message depending upon the social context in which it is used.
“A chimpanzee may stretch out an open hand to another as a signal for support, whereas the same gesture toward a possessor of food signals a desire to share,” says Pollick. “A scream, however, is a typical response for victims of intimidation, threat, or attack. This is so for both bonobos and chimpanzees, and suggests the vocalization is relatively invariant.”
By studying similar types of communication in closely related species, researchers are able to determine shared ancestry. We know gestures are evolutionarily younger than facial expressions and vocalizations, as shown by their presence in apes and humans but not in monkeys. “A gesture that occurs in bonobos and chimpanzees as well as humans likely was present in the last common ancestor,” says Pollick.
“A good example of a shared gesture is the open-hand begging gesture, used by both apes and humans. This gesture can be used for food, if there is food around, but it also can be used to beg for help, for support, for money and so on. Its meaning is context-dependent,” adds de Waal.
Looking for further distinctions between species, the researchers found bonobos use gestures more flexibly than do chimpanzees. “Different groups of bonobos used gestures in specific contexts less consistently than did different groups of chimpanzees,” said Pollick. The researcher's findings also suggest bonobos and chimpanzees engage in multi-modal communication, combining their gestures with facial expressions and vocalizations to communicate a message.
New York Times Article Identifies Emory as "Second Tier" School with New Cachet
May 18, 2007
As acceptance to top-tier colleges becomes ever more competitive, students are turning with greater zeal to the so-called second-tier schools, among which Emory is grouped named in a May 16 New York Times article—which also noted that the phrase is one that “some administrators despise.” According to the article, twenty-five to forty universities, such as Lehigh, Bowdoin, New York University, and Emory, have seen their cachet climb because of the astonishing competitive crush at the top. According to William M. Shain, the dean of admissions and financial aid at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, it’s harder now for students to get into Bowdoin than it was to get into Princeton when he worked there in the 1970s. The Times said that the country’s most prestigious colleges turn away nine out of ten applicants. And some students who might have readily won admission to Lehigh, Middlebury College, Colgate University, Pomona College, or just a few years ago are now relegated to waiting lists, left to confront the long odds that an offer of admission might materialize over the next month.
Students have generally been quicker to adapt to the new realities than parents have been, according to guidance counselors. “My sense is that parents are a lot more concerned with how the name is going to look to neighbors and family members, and there is a real sense among parents that it’s almost embarrassing if your child has to settle for a lower-level school,” said Carolyn Lawrence, a private college counselor and the author of a blog, AdmissionsAdvice.com.
The logjam, continued the Times article, is the result of supply and demand. The number of students graduating from high school has been increasing and the preoccupation with the top universities, once primarily a Northeastern phenomenon, has become a more national obsession. High-achieving students are also applying to more colleges than they used to, primarily because of uncertainty over where they will be admitted. Supply, however, has remained constant. Most of the sought-after universities have not expanded their freshman classes.
To read the article online, click here.
To read the AE's ongoing coverage of Emory's aspirations to the "top tier," click on the following:
The Greatness Game
Jockeying in the Rankings Race
The "Discipline" of Planning
Emory Nursing Dean Urges New Strategies to Cure National Nurse Shortage
April 27, 2007
The future health care of millions of Americans will be compromised if the U.S. doesn't develop innovative strategies to tackle the national nursing shortage, says Emory University nursing leader Marla Salmon.
“Most of us assume that when we need nursing care, someone will be there to provide it,” says Salmon, dean and professor at Emory's Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing. “The assumption that nurses will be there when we need them is simply no longer true. For the first time ever, this country is facing a shortage of nurses that threatens the health of each of us. And unless urgent measures are taken, this shortage will become increasingly more severe over the next fifteen years.”
Dr. Salmon address the severity of the U.S. nursing shortage at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, on April 25. The national deficit of registered nurses is expected to rise to 29 percent by the year 2020, leaving a gaping shortage of more than 400,000 nurses by 2010. She described the nursing population as “an equation that is failing,” with mainly “white, middle-class, middle-aged women” who don't represent demographic trends.
In 2005, nursing schools across the country rejected about 150,000 qualified applicants—an 18 percent increase from the year before—because they did not have enough teachers, according to the National League for Nursing.
“So at the same time that we're looking at increased enrollments, the question arises of who will teach nurses in the future,” Salmon said. At Emory, about 75 percent of the nursing faculty is over 50. She added that the lack of nurses is being compounded by the extra duties required of them, and that nurses spend between 25 and 50 percent of their time doing administrative tasks. “Think of that as a shortage in itself," she said.
Salmon was one of several health policy experts from the Atlanta university to speak at Emory Day at the National Press Club in Washington, where they discussed ways to prevent crises in the health-care system. Arthur Kellermann, chair of the department of emergency medicine, said the nursing shortage was part of a confluence of health-care problems, including overcrowded emergency rooms and rising levels of uninsured patients.
Trethewey Wins 2007 Pulitzer for Poetry
April 17 , 2007
Poet and Emory Associate Professor of English Natasha Trethewey has been awarded the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for book of poetry Native Guard (2006, Houghton Mifflin).
A native of Gulfport, Mississippi, “Native Guard” draws on her personal experience and Southern history. Growing up in the South, Trethewey was never told that in her hometown, Black soldiers had played a pivotal role in the Civil War. Off the coast, on Ship Island, stood a fort that had once been a Union prison housing Confederate captives. Protecting the fort was the second regiment of the Louisiana Native Guards—one of the Union’s first official Black units. The title poem imagines the life of a former slave stationed at the fort, who is charged with writing letters home for the illiterate or invalid POWs and his fellow soldiers. Just as he becomes the guard of Ship Island’s memory, Trethewey recalls her own childhood as the daughter of a Black woman and a white man. Her parents’ marriage was still illegal in 1966 Mississippi. The racial legacy of the Civil War echoes through poems that honor her own mother and the forgotten history of her native South.
The Pulitzer Prize is the most recent honor for the poet. Trethewey’s first poetry collection, Domestic Work (Graywolf Press, 2000), won the inaugural 1999 Cave Canem poetry prize, a 2001 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Book Prize, and the 2001 Lillian Smith Award for Poetry. Her second collection, Bellocq's Ophelia (Graywolf, 2002), received the 2003 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Book Prize, was a finalist for both the Academy of American Poets’ James Laughlin and Lenore Marshall prizes, and was named a 2003 Notable Book by the American Library Association. Her work has appeared in The Best American Poetry 2003 and 2000, and in journals such as Agni, American Poetry Review, Callaloo, Gettysburg Review, Kenyon Review, New England Review, and The Southern Review, among others.
Trethewey has a B.A. in English from the University of Georgia, an M.A. in English and Creative Writing from Hollins University, and an M.F.A. in poetry from the University of Massachusetts. She is the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Bunting Fellowship Program of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
To hear Trethewey read from Native Guard, go to southernspaces.org.
Emory's Public Intellectuals on NPR
April 12 , 2007
Several Emory faculty members have appeared on National Public Radio in recent weeks.
On the March 11 edition of Weekend, the show hosted by Bob Edwards, Kevin Young, professor of English, discussed his poetry and being the curator of the Danowski poetry collection.
On the March 19 Morning Edition, Reshma Shah, marketing professor, talked about the ubiquity of advertising during a segment about a new look for Atlanta’s MARTA buses, Some of which are wrapped in a “glow skin” that display luminescent ads, and which can seem to float through space along dark streets.
“You can't really turn very far without seeing some kind of message somewhere,” Shah told NPR, adding that much has changed in the last decade about how people see advertisements, in large part because most people no longer stay home after work to watch television or read newspapers, spurring advertisers to get their messages across in new ways. “There are studies out there that show we see on average five thousand to six thousand messages from marketers in a day. So consumers have to have some way to filter out what they see. Marketers know that consumers are filtering out things, at the same time they are getting more savvy how they get under our perceptual radars.”
On the March 29 Morning Edition, David Rye, an Emory neurologist and director of the Healthcare Program in Sleep, joined several experts to discuss restless leg syndrome (RLS), a condition that causes strange sensations (sometimes described as “tugging” or “creepy crawly”) and uncontrollable leg movements, and can lead to moderate to extreme distress. Often, symptoms occur when a person is trying to relax or sleep. Rye has the disorder and has used himself as a guinea pig. At one point, he attached a special device to his leg to measure how often he kicked while he was asleep. An estimated eight percent of Americans have experienced RLS in the last years, and there is good evidence that the condition has a strong genetic component. Rye thinks he and others are close to finding a gene responsible for the condition.
Drugs used to treat RLS are imperfect, and in some patients may cause a worsening of symptoms. One of the first drugs used contained levodopa, often used for Parkinson’s disease. It seemed to work well and made patients grateful, says Rye, “They would remain happy for weeks to months,” he says. “Then invariably you'd get a phone call saying they were worse than when they first came to see you. What they were screaming and describing to you is not something you would want to repeat to your children.”
Ethics Center Receives New Home, New Name, $5 million
March 30, 2007
Emory has received a gift of $5 million from John and Sue Wieland of Atlanta to support its Center for Ethics, which will be renamed in their honor and move into a new building under construction at the heart of the campus. The announcement was made public at the building's groundbreaking ceremony March 20.
“John Wieland has been an important part of the life of the Center for Ethics since 1994,” said Kathy Kinlaw, interim director of the Center for Ethics. “With this gift, which makes a new home for the center possible, John and his wife Sue help us to cultivate deep roots, making tangible the vital role that the center and ethical engagement play in the life of Emory.”
Wieland, founder, chairman and chief creative officer of John Wieland Homes and Neighborhoods, is a founding member of the Advisory Council of the Center for Ethics and is the immediate past chair of the council, a position he served in for eight years.
The new John and Susan Wieland Center for Ethics will occupy the first floor and 10,000 square feet in a new $34 million, 70,000-square-foot structure near the quad. It will also be the new home for Emory's Candler School of Theology. The center’s new home will triple its current space, with seventeen faculty/staff offices, a library, conference room and seminar room, in addition to a hundred-seat flexible-use room for classes, seminars and public lectures.
Emory Physicist Peers Through Walls In Search of Leonardo
March 25, 2007
The talents of Ray DuVarney, chair of Emory’s Physics Department, have been tapped by the art world to determine if a suspected mural by Leonardo da Vinci is, in fact, where it started out—behind a wall in Florence’s Palazzo Vecchio. According to a recent article in the Atlanta Journal/Constitution, DuVarney thinks he can build a machine that would use nuclear energy to locate “The Battle of Anghiari.” Leonardo painted—though never finished—the dynamic scene 1504. But in 1563, artist Giorgio Vasari painted his own fresco in the same spot. The question is did Vasari destroy “The Battle of Anghiari” when he created his mural, or did he first build another blank wall in front of it? If so, did the hidden mural survive?
DuVarney is no stranger to solving significant technological problems and designing precision instruments. With a grant from NASA, he developed the Wavefront Sensor Camera that eliminates distortions caused by atmospheric turbulence, and which is in use at observatories worldwide.
He first learned of the search after hearing a talk by Maurizio Seracini, a Florentine who has been searching for the painting for thirty-two years. “Seracini mentioned that he had run into a wall, literally,” DuVarney said. “He couldn't drill a hole or take out a brick. He asked if anyone knew of a non-destructive way to see through a wall. Nobody did. In fact, I didn’t either at that moment. That evening I was sitting around thinking about it, and I came up with an idea.”
DuVarney believes that it might be possible to design a camera that would project a neutron beam through the wall of the Palazzo Vecchio. By counting and measuring the wavelengths of the returning gamma rays, he could plot an image of what’s behind the wall. Seracini embraced the idea: “I thought it was simply the best idea I had heard,” said Seracini, director of the newly formed Center for Interdisciplinary Science for Art, Architecture and Archaeology at the University of California, San Diego. The Florentine government is now considering the proposal. But when they’ll make a decision is hard to predict. “It's Italian time,” Seracini said.
“I've learned a lot about art,” said DuVarney, who noted that the departments of art history and physics have inaugurated a course called “Investigating Art With Physics.”
Emory Cited Among Best Places to Work for Postdoctoral Students
March 16, 2007
Emory has been named the eighth best institution in the nation for postdoctoral fellows by The Scientist magazine. It was the second year in a row that the school placed in the top ten in the “Best Places to Work for Postdocs” survey. The university employs nearly six hundred postdoctoral fellows in laboratories in the School of Medicine, Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory College, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Rollins School of Public Health, and Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing. The survey covered eleven categories in which respondents judged their respective institutions. Categories included the quality of mentoring, the level of communication, and opportunities for networking and career development. The most important factor cited was the quality of training and career preparation offered by an institution.
“Postdocs are the lifeblood of academic science,” said The Scientist editor Richard Gallagher. “Our survey is one of the few nationwide efforts to assess their needs and desires and to recognize excellence in postdoc programs.”
“We owe our success to our dedicated faculty, the early establishment of an office for postdoctoral fellows by Dr. Susan Rich in 1999, and the continual support of postdoctoral fellows through the years by Emory University administration and many university offices,” said Mary Delong, the School of Medicine’s new director of postdoctoral education.
Emory top ranked for commercialized research
March 8, 2007
A report released last week by the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM) ranked Emory first in commercialization revenue in 2005 among reporting universities, with more than $585 million in licensing revenue. That year Emory sold its future royalties from the Emory-discovered HIV/AIDS drug Emtriva to Gilead Sciences and Royalty Pharma for a one-time payment of $525 million. Emtriva, along with another Emory-invented HIV/AIDS drug, Epivir, is among the most commonly used HIV/AIDS therapies, in combination with other drugs. Emory also created four start-up companies in 2005, executed thirty licenses, filed fifty-four new patent applications, received issuance of seventeen U.S. patents, and had total research spending of $345.7 million. Over the past fifteen years, commercialized Emory research discoveries have resulted in revenues in excess of $720 million to the university.
“Part of the mission of Emory University is to create, preserve, teach, and apply knowledge in the service of humanity, and our technology transfer program does exactly that,” said Todd Sherer, director of Emory's Office of Technology Transfer. “Our robust pipeline includes world-class products in all stages of development and regulatory approval, and will continue to ensure that outstanding discoveries from our faculty become available for prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease, as well as other consumer needs.”
The most widely used drugs for HIV/AIDS, diagnostic tests for genetic disorders, a technology to improve angioplasty, and imaging software for diagnosing cardiovascular disease are among Emory University discoveries now commercially available for patients and physicians. And dozens more Emory-discovered products are in the pipeline on their way to the marketplace.
“A large proportion of recent royalties, including those from Emtriva, are being used to implement the relevant components of Emory's new strategic plan, which includes faculty recruitment, financial aid, and new initiatives in predictive health, global health, neurosciences, and computational and life sciences,” said Michael Mandl, executive vice president for finance and administration.
Emory's technology transfer program has resulted in sixteen licensed therapeutic products already in the marketplace and thirty-eight licensed products in various stages of drug discovery, clinical development, or regulatory approval. In addition, thirty-seven companies have been started around Emory’s technology, leading to seven publicly traded companies and seven companies selling product on the market.
To read the AE's coverage of technology transfer issues at Emory, visit
For Its Own Sake: When knowledge isn't for sale
Money Changes Everything: Commerce, philanthropy, and the culture of the academy
Ideas for Sale: Will technology transfer undermine the academy or save it?
African scientists join search for new drugs at Emory
February 23, 2007
African scientists will soon begin training at Emory University as part of a unique partnership between Emory and the Republic of South Africa. The South Africa Drug Discovery Training Program will address the rising dangers of diseases that unduly affect developing countries. By training African scientists in drug discovery, the partnership is designed to give South Africans not only a voice but also a choice in how best to combat their disease epidemics.
“As part of this collaboration, the scientists will work with academic researchers in departments and schools throughout the Emory campus, including chemistry, pharmacology and other basic biomedical science departments,” said Dennis Liotta, professor of chemistry. “The scientists will gain hands-on experience in translating research into healthcare solutions and will then return to their home countries to receive post-training placement in industrial or academic positions.” The visiting scholars will initially come from South Africa, but scientists from all over sub-Saharan Africa will soon take part in the training.
Liotta noted also that HIV, tuberculosis (TB), and malaria all have an enormous impact on Africa’s impoverished populations. “One of the issues with TB, for example, is that we know how to control the disease,” he said. “We have drugs that are 50 plus years old, and they work, but the problem is that patients have to take them for six to nine months. With such a prolonged dosing period, it is very difficult for people to remain compliant.” He and his collaborators are hoping to develop anti-tuberculosis drugs that will require only two-week regimens.
“To effectively battle the neglected infectious and immunologic diseases of poverty, the transfer of money and technology is not enough—it is expertise in the discovery and development of new medicines that is the intrinsic requirement,” Liotta said. He and his colleagues have produced several new drugs, including crucial anti-HIV drugs used in the majority of AIDS cocktails today.
Support for the South Africa Drug Discovery Training Program will come from the South African government and the Emory Global Health Institute, which was established to support Emory faculty, students, and alumni in their work to find solutions to critical global health problems.
February 16, 2007
Salman Rushdie says that he receives an annual “sort of Valentine’s card” from Iran every February 14 letting him know the country has not forgotten its vow to kill him, according to an Associated Press article, as well as numerous other news sources.
He made the comment in Atlanta one day before the eighteenth anniversary of the death threat he received for writing The Satanic Verses. Rushdie was forced into hiding for a decade after the late Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran issued a 1989 fatwa, or opinion on Islamic law, ordering Muslims to kill Rushdie because the book allegedly insulted Islam. In 1998, the Iranian government declared it would not support but could not rescind the fatwa. But the yearly notes continue. “It's reached the point where it's a piece of rhetoric rather than a real threat,” Rushdie said.
Rushdie also said that his relationship with Emory will be his only long-term commitment with a United States university because he wants to focus on writing more novels. He picked Emory “because they asked me and nobody else ever had,” he said at a news conference. “The opportunity this offered is to go into much greater depth with a subject and with a group of people—both students and faculty.”
During his five-year appointment to Emory’s faculty, Rushdie will lecture, teach, and work with students for several weeks each year. His first class was Tuesday. He has also donated to Emory his notes, photos, manuscripts, letters, and two of his early unpublished novels. The material will also include the private journal that Rushdie kept to detail his life under the fatwa, said Steven Ennis, director of Emory’s Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Books Library. Of Emory’s library, Rushdie said “There is an attempt to build an extraordinary library here. The idea of becoming a part of developing that archive into another direction, which is prose, became very attractive to me,” Rushdie said.
School of Nursing Ranked Second in Scholarly Productivity
February 8, 2007
The Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing has been ranked second in the nation among nursing schools in scholarly productivity, according to a new index released this month and reported in The Chronicle of Higher Education. The 2005 Faculty Scholarly Productivity Index surveys the productivity of faculty among 7,200 doctoral programs, including nursing, across the country. Faculty productivity is measured using data variables assessing publication activity, federal-grant funding, and honors and awards.
The index ranked Emory’s faculty the highest among the top ten nursing programs for citations per faculty and per paper. Specifically, Emory’s doctoral faculty averaged more than fifty citations per person and more than twelve per paper. These numbers are more than double the next highest ranked program on the list.
Kenneth Hepburn, the School of Nursing's associate dean for research, said the report suggests a high level of productivity for a relatively small, yet growing, program: “The high level of citation indicates our faculty's expertise and leadership reach broadly to important audiences, and in turn they have a great measure of influence.”
The School of Nursing established its doctoral program only eight years ago. Since, then, the program has graduated fifteen PhD in nursing students. Currently, twelve students are enrolled in the program that focuses on the development of nursing science and knowledge to improve health care.
Emory Physician Responds to AE Cover Story on "Drugs and Money"
February 5, 2007
Thank you for highlighting one of the most important issues facing medical education and academic medicine—"Drugs and Money". There are clearly many different views on this issue, ranging from severing all ties with drug companies to allowing full access. However, in order to address these issues honestly, we must be honest with ourselves. I was astonished by the comments of Dr. Peter Block, the medical director of our Clinical Trials Office and an interventional cardiologist. Dr. Block states that he "needs a lot of things" in order to train students, residents and fellows. He argues that without the generosity of drug reps, he could not have journal clubs and other conferences, because "someone has to pay for lunch". I hope we are not that desperate as a medical school or as a profession that we cannot afford to buy a few pizzas and cokes for a lunchtime conference. Are interventional cardiologists unable to afford their own lunches? A teaching conference that is worth attending should attract participants whether or not food is served. The reality is, that many of these conferences are held at some of the priciest restaurants in the city and have less to do with the academic exercise than the chance for a "free" fancy meal. Dr. Block also states that he is not beholden to the company who is paying for lunch or dinner. The research on this topic, which is extensive, concludes that this is unlikely. Humans, including doctors, who receive gifts, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, ARE beholden to the gift giver. We as physicians cannot continue to deceive ourselves that we are somehow different and immune to influence.
Jonathan D. Glass, MD
Professor, Neurology and Pathology
Emory Center for Neurodegenerative Disease
Emory Historian Speaks Out About Carter Book
January 31, 2007
Last week, Ken Stein, William E. Schatten Professor of Contemporary Middle Eastern History and Israeli Studies, spoke on National Public Radio about his disagreements with Jimmy Carter over Carter’s book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. Here are some excerpts from that interview:
The difficulty comes between me, the historian, and Jimmy Carter, the mediator. He tends to want to be more agile in the use of the facts. I'm a little bit more rigid and historically consistent. And my disagreement with him comes from that.
In response to Carter’s use of the word "apartheid," Stein said,
I would argue with the terminology. I think in his interview with you on Thursday he used the word total domination, he used the term harsh oppression. Make no mistake about it, the manner in which the Palestinians have lived in the territories since 1967 has been bad. Part of that has been clearly imposed and applied by the Israelis. Part of it has been clearly imposed by leadership that has not been able to demonstrate that it’s more interested in the Palestinians than it's interested in itself. In other words, what Carter has done in his book has put the burden of responsibility on one side…. The difference to me is that part of this problem is that the Palestinians have chosen to use terrorism. And every time they've chosen to use terrorism, the Israelis have come into the territories or they have closed the territories and they have made it more difficult for the Palestinians to have regular life. There's no doubt that the Israelis have confiscated Palestinian lands—confiscated Palestinian lands illegally. But if you tell of the Arab- Israeli conflict, and you tell the history of it, you cannot unpack it in such a way that one side is just seen to be responsible. History always tells us that truth is someplace in between.
Economist Responds to Lawley's Remarks on Promotional Practices of Pharmaceutical Companies
January 23, 2007
In his “State-of-the-School Address,” partially reprinted in the AE Weekly Volume 7, Issue 20, Monday, January 22, 2006, Thomas J. Lawley, Dean of Emory Medical School discusses several behaviors by the pharmaceutical companies, including distribution of free samples, promotion to physicians and consumers, and several other forms of spending. He concludes by asking us to “Just think of what all of these activities do to our health care costs.”
While it is reasonable to assume that added costs lead to higher prices for medicines, the economics of pharmaceuticals is peculiar, and in fact these forms of spending actually benefit patients. It costs a huge amount to produce a drug; recent estimates have been as high as $800 million, and costs have been increasing. But these costs are what economists call “fixed costs” – the costs of creating a new drug and getting it approved for sale by the FDA. Once a drug is approved, in most cases the “marginal cost” – additional cost of producing an extra unit – is quite low. It sometimes said that the cost of the “first pill” it $800 million and the cost of the “second pill” is on the order of $1.00 or less.
In this circumstance, promotion and other expenditures that lead to increased sales of drugs can have great beneficial effects. By expanding the size of the market, these forms of expenditure increase the revenues of drug companies and make it worthwhile for them to invest in the high costs of developing new drugs. If these expenditures were reduced, the reduction in sales that would follow would mean that Dr. Lawley and his colleagues and students would have many fewer drugs to prescribe, and we patients would have fewer medicines available.
—Paul H. Rubin, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Economics and Law
Dean Lawley's comments:
Pharmaceutical, device, and equipment companies have a fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders to make money. Physicians have a moral and ethical obligation to their patients, their peers, and their trainees, a social obligation to the public, a professional obligation to their profession and societies, and a fiduciary duty to their universities. Physicians have an obligation to put patient care and the education of their trainees and peers first….
The top nine pharmaceutical companies spent about $58 billion on marketing alone in 2004—a figure that is twice the size of the NIH annual budget then. The money was spent on free samples, drug representatives and direct-to-physician promotions, direct-to-consumer advertising, and physician education, including funding of medical meetings, journal advertising, company educational events, continuing medical education, graduate medical education, travel and expenses for faculty, and my personal favorite, speakers bureaus. These spending categories raise issues for academic medicine. Free samples from pharmaceutical companies are beneficial in the care of indigent patients, but they raise the cost of drugs. Should they be provided directly to and dispensed by individual physicians or provided to pharmacy for distribution? All of us support better education as part of improved health care for our patients, but is health care well served by direct-to-consumer advertising? Often, funding for physician education comes in the form of unrestricted gifts, but are they unrestricted when it is understood that the company’s name will be directly associated with the gift to the individuals who receive it? Speakers bureaus raise concerns because the purpose is for industry to use the names of prestigious faculty, as well as the linked names of their institutions, to support, endorse, or sell the product. Just think of what all of these activities do to our health care costs.
—Thomas J. Lawley, Dean of Emory Medical School, from his State-of-the-School Address, “Professionalism and Conflict of Interest: Heightened Challenges for Academic Medicine,” October 10, 2006
Carter Agrees to Speak At Brandeis Amidst Book Controversy
January 17, 2007
Former U.S. president, Nobel laureate, and Emory professor Jimmy Carter has been embroiled in a heated controversy over his latest book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. After declining an initial offer to speak at Brandeis University, Carter changed his mind and agreed to speak and field questions on the book, according to the Boston Globe.
The book sparked outrage among Jewish groups and others immediately after its release late in 2006. According to the Globe, Carter originally declined to speak because Brandeis had suggested that he debate Alan Dershowitz, a professor at Harvard Law School and a strong critic of the book. Carter has since agreed to speak for fifteen minutes and answer questions for forty-five minutes on January 23, according to campus officials. A spokeswoman for Brandeis said that the president has set no conditions and would answer as many questions as possible. This will be the first time Carter has spoken about the book at a university.
Dershowitz told the Globe that he vowed to attend: “I will be the first person to have my hand up to ask him a question,” he said. “I guarantee that they won't stop me from attending.” He went on to say that he would like to ask Carter why the former president has accepted money from Saudi Arabia and why the Carter Center has been critical of Israel while not looking into “the far more extensive human rights abuses” in Saudi Arabia.
Carter’s book led to the resignation of fourteen members of the Carter Center’s advisory board, who charged that the book unfairly blamed Israel for the failure of the Mideast peace process. They also objected strongly to the use of the word “apartheid.” And said they could “no longer in good conscience continue to serve.”
Kenneth Stein, William E. Schatten Professor of Contemporary Middle Eastern History and Israeli Studies at Emory, executive director of the Carter Center from 1983 to 1986, and a Carter Center fellow for Mideast affairs since 1983, also cut his ties with the center. In a letter he called the book “replete with factual errors, copied materials not cited, superficialities, glaring omissions and simply invented segments.” Stein told the New York Times that he had used similar language in a private letter he sent to Carter but received no reply.
Emory Acquires Love Letters of Ted Hughes And Assia Wevill
January 10, 2007
Emory University’s Robert W. Woodruff Library has acquired the correspondence from Ted Hughes, the late-poet laureate of Britain, to his lover Assia Wevill. In one letter in the collection Hughes instructs Wevill to “please burn all my letters,” an instruction she obviously did not follow. The surviving correspondence begins in March 1963, continues until 1969, and “offers readers unprecedented access to Hughes’s state of mind at a time of crisis in his personal and professional life,” said Stephen Enniss, director of Emory’s Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library.
The collection includes more than sixty letters from Hughes to Wevill, six from her to him, as well as a number of notes, sketches, fragmentary diary entries, and a small number of photographs of Wevill. Wevill is remembered as the woman with whom Hughes began an affair in the summer of 1962, which led to the separation of Hughes and his wife, poet Sylvia Plath. After Plath’s death in the winter of 1963, Hughes and Wevill struggled to establish a new basis for their life together. Wevill debated whether to leave her own husband, poet David Wevill, and in the years that followed she and Hughes tried a variety of living arrangements, at times living together, sometimes apart. In 1965 Assia gave birth to a daughter, Shura. The couple never married, and in March 1969 Wevill took her life and that of her young daughter in a manner that bore a resemblance to Plath’s death.
The correspondence spans the period in Hughes’s life when he was writing “Gaudete,” editing Plath’s “Ariel” for publication, and writing the sequence of poems based on the life of a mythical crow figure. This intimate correspondence reveals Hughes’ struggle to find peace in the years after Plath’s death and his sometimes tortured relationship with Wevill. “You’ll see that I’ll fulfill all my promises eventually,” he assures her in one poignant letter. In another, written to Wevill’s sister, Celia Chaikin, in the weeks after her death, Hughes confesses that their life together had been complicated by the presence of “old ghosts,” but adds, “Assia was my true wife.”
To read AE coverage of Emory's growing prominence in poetry, click here.
Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, 1941-2007
Updated January 4, 2007
The Funeral Mass for Elizabeth Fox-Genovese will be held at 10 a.m. on Friday, January 5 at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, 2855 Briarcliff Road NE, Atlanta, Georgia 30329-2501. The church has a website: http://ihmatlanta.org/. Their phone number is 404.636.1418.
Immediately following the Mass, a reception for family and friends will be held at the Briarcliff Woods Beach Club, 1830 Morris Landers Drive, Atlanta, Georgia 30345. Directions are available on the website: http://www.bwbc.net/.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be sent to the following address: Society of St. Vincent de Paul, National Council of the United States, 58 Progress Parkway, St. Louis, Missouri 63043-3706.
Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, Eléonore Raoul Professor of the Humanities, died yesterday. She had been a faculty member since 1986. Fox-Genovese leaves behind a long legacy of accomplishment. She was the founding director of Emory’s Institute for Women’s Studies, and in 2004 received the National Humanities Medal, which honors individuals “whose work has deepened the nation's understanding of the humanities, broadened citizens’ engagement with the humanities, or helped preserve and expand America's access to important resources in the humanities.” She also served on the Governing Council of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Fox-Genovese served as editor for The Journal of The Historical Society and spoke widely on public policy, education, history, literature, religion, and women's issues. She received, among other grants and awards, the Cardinal Wright Award from the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars, the Doctor of Letters from Millsaps College, the C. Hugh Holman Prize from the Society for the Society of Southern Literature, and the ACLS and Ford Foundation Fellowship.
She received her BA from Bryn Mawr College, and her MA and PhD from Harvard.
Her publications include:
- Women and the Future of the Family (2000)
- Reconstructing History: The Emergence of a New Historical Society, co-edited with Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn (1999)
- “ Feminism Is Not the Story of My Life”: How the Elite Women’s Movement Has Lost Touch With the Real Concerns of Women (1996)
- Feminism Without Illusions: A Critique of Individualism (1991)
- Fruits of Merchant Capital: Slavery and Bourgeois Property in Rise and Expansion of Capitalism, with Eugene Genovese (1983)
- The Origins of Physiocracy: Economic Revolution and Social Order in Eighteenth-Century France (1976)
Chemist Hill Awarded Multiple Honors
December 13, 2006
Chemist Craig Hill has been elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), an honor bestowed upon members by their peers. Awarded to 449 members this year, the individuals were chosen because of their efforts to advance science or applications that are deemed scientifically or socially distinguished. This year’s AAAS Fellows were announced in the November 24 issue of the journal Science, and will receive the award February 17 at the AAAS annual meeting in San Francisco. Hill was also elected a Distinguished Fellow of the Victorian Institute of Chemical Sciences, an Australian honor, and will give talks in several locations in Australia in June and July 2007. In addition, the National Science Foundation Workshop in Inorganic Chemistry elected him as their chair for 2007-2009.
Hill, the Goodrich C. White Professor of Chemistry, joined Emory in 1983 and is renowned for his work in inorganic, catalytic, and nanomaterials chemistry. Hill and his research group, among other accomplishments, have developed a pollution-free method of converting wood pulp to paper. The process uses oxygen instead of chlorine as the whitener and water as the solvent, thus generating only carbon dioxide and water as byproducts instead chlorinated chemical pollutants. This bleaching/conversion approach mimics nature with the use of inorganic mineral cluster compounds called polyoxometalates to break down and whiten the wood pulp.
In general, Hill and his research group design and investigate the properties of nanosize cluster molecules and develop their applications in medicine and technology, including environmentally-friendly green chemical processes, the detection and destruction of toxic compounds, catalysis and other uses. They also do fundamental research on the nature of reactions involving inorganic compounds and materials.
Hill was cited by AAAS “for establishing many of the fundamental properties of metal oxygen anion clusters (polyoxometalates) and pioneering unprecedented catalysts, pharmaceuticals, and functional materials based on this science.”
Founded in 1848 the AAAS and its journal, Science, form the world’s largest general federation of scientists.