April People Notes

Dr. Carmen Armon is the new chief of neurology, and Dr. Paul Kanev is the new chief of neurosurgery at Baystate Medical Center, the Springfield, Mass., hospital affiliated with Tufts School of Medicine.

Lawrence S. Bacow, president of Tufts, spoke about homeland security issues on college campuses at the American Council on Education’s (ACE) 86th annual meeting in Miami in March. During the conference, attended by 1,000 college and university presidents and administrators, he framed issues relating to student, faculty and staff welfare in times of crisis, research risks and benefits related to national security, the importance of campus preparedness and communications and the impact of increased security on international students and scholars. Bacow was joined on the panel by Brian Hawkins, president of EDUCAUSE; Robert O’Neil, director of the University of Virginia’s Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression; and Judy Genshaft, president of the University of South Florida. Bacow serves on the board of directors of ACE, the major coordinating body for the nation’s higher education institutions.

Emily Bersin, Rachel Bloom, Sika Henry and Jessica Trombly, the Tufts women’s track 4x400 meter relay team, crossed the finish line second at the NCAA National Championships March 13 at the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater. The foursome’s time of 3 minutes, 53.45 seconds was second only to Illinois Wesleyan’s 3:52.36. Tufts finished the meet in a tie for 23rd place.

Dr. Barry Briss, associate professor of orthodontics at the dental school, has been elected a director of the American Board of Orthodontics as the Northeastern representative.

Matan Chorev, a junior in Tufts’ five-year dual degree program with the New England Conservatory of Music, has returned from a 10-day fact-finding mission to Israel and the West Bank with a group of student members of the New Initiative for Middle East Peace (NIMEP). Chorev and other students started the program last year, and it is now part of Tufts’ Institute for Global Leadership. The group met with students at Haifa University’s Jewish-Arab Center and at Bir Zeit University near Ramallah. “We had an opportunity for very frank and in-depth exchange about internal Palestinian politics,” Chorev said. The team’s visits with faculty from Al-Quds University and others helped to create a web-cam dialogue initiative for Tufts and Al-Quds students that is slated to launch this spring. NIMEP already has created cross-institutional relationships with students and faculty at Bard, Vassar, Bentley, MIT and Harvard, and has begun to develop relationships with students and scholars in Israel and the West Bank. It also has been asked by the Cronin Center for International Affairs at Bentley to pursue a fact-finding mission with them in Cairo and Iran. The trip to Iran is being organized by the Tufts-in-Iran program.

John DiBiaggio, president emeritus of Tufts, is serving as liaison between the University of Colorado’s administrators and the athletics department, which has been in the news recently for recruiting violations and allegations of rape. DiBiaggio was selected because he’s nationally recognized for the college athletics reforms that he pursued while president of Michigan State University and for his leadership on national collegiate athletics reform commissions. University of Colorado President Betsy Hoffman says DiBiaggio will help the university evaluate the culture of the athletics department with respect to the treatment of women.

Bill Edington, associate director for grants and contracts, left Tufts on March 19 to take a position as Clark University’s director of research and grant administration. Edington had been at Tufts for 16 years. Michael Forgac, professor of physiology, has been invited to speak at the Gordon Conference in Molecular and Cellular Bioenergetics, which will take place June 20­25 at Proctor Academy in Andover, N.H. The title of his talk will be “Structure and Regulation of the Yeast Vacuolar ATPase.” Forgac also will speak at the Experimental Biology Meeting in Washington, D.C., April 17­21.

Ira M. Herman, professor of physiology and a seasoned marathoner, will participate in the Boston Marathon April 19 as part of the 230-member American Liver Foundation team. He has pledged to raise at least $2,500 for the foundation.

Fred Jones, the freshman track sensation, finished an excellent first season at Tufts by earning sixth place in the triple jump at the NCAA Track and Field National Championships March 12­13 at the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater. Jones jumped 47 feet, 4 and a half inches in the final. Junior teammate Nate Brigham ran ninth in the 5,000 meters, with a time of 15 minutes, 0.10 seconds. The Jumbos tied for 40th place overall.

Dr. John A. Libertino, clinical professor of urology, is leading a team of researchers at the Lahey Medical Center investigating whether specific DNA mutations in urine might provide a more effective screen for bladder cancer. Bladder cancer cells in urine are effective in predicting only about half of existing bladder cancers, and invasive examination of the bladder, while more accurate, may be uncomfortable. The researchers also are looking at whether DNA might be able to predict the possibility of recurrence among bladder cancer patients.

Dr. Douglas W. Losordo, associate professor of medicine, and cardiologists at Caritas St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center are using a heart patient’s own stem cells to try to treat acute cardiac disease. The Phase I clinical trial Losordo is directing will seek 24 patients in the next nine months for whom more traditional treatments—such as bypass, angioplasty or stenting—have not worked. Their own stem cells will be injected into their heart muscles to help them grow new blood vessels around the heart. More than 125,000 people develop painful, debilitating angina each year.

Natanya Marracino, D05, earned top honors in the student poster competition at the Pan-Boston Oral Science Research Symposium in February for her project on “Which Vector Is Most Effective in Gene Transfer to Salivary Glands?” Marracino did her research under the mentorship of Dr. Bruce Baum, D71, after she received an NIDCR Summer Dental Student Award from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR). Baum heads the NIDCR’s gene therapy and therapeutics branch. The competition, hosted by the Forsyth Institute, was open to pre- and postdoctoral students from Boston’s three dental schools and the Forsyth Institute. Lili Tayari, D05, also gave a presentation in the pre-doctoral category.

Daniela O’Neill, a member of the international Class of 2005 at the School of Dental Medicine, and other international dental students raised $680 in March through the school’s annual international food festival. Faculty, staff and students were able to purchase an array of exotic dishes. The proceeds will be donated to the Joshua O’Dette Memorial Fund, established in memory of a first-year dental student who died in a car accident on March 6.

Jose Ordovas, director of the HNRCA’s Nutrition and Genomics Laboratory, discussed “Personalizing Nutrition: The Role of Nutrigenetics” at Columbia University’s Distinguished Lecture series in New York on February 2.

Susan Ostrander, professor of sociology, had two articles published in top journals. “Moderating Contradictions of Feminist Philanthropy: Women’s Community Organizations and the Boston Women’s Fund, 1995 to 2000” appeared in the February issue of Gender & Society, and “Democracy, Civic Participation and the University: A Comparative Study of Civic Engagement on Five Campuses” was published in March in Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly. The latter project was supported by the University College of Citizenship and Public Service.

Joshua Ries, D04, received an award from the American College of Dentists at the Yankee Dental Congress January 29 through February 1 in Boston. Ries, president of the American Student Dental Association, was recognized for academic achievement, leadership, integrity, ethics, professionalism and citizenship.

Dr. Scott Shaw, assistant professor in emergency and critical care medicine at the School of Veterinary Medicine, has been named a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care.

Dr. Abby H. Shevitz, assistant professor of family medicine and community health, has been honored by the Jewish Women’s Archive, a national nonprofit organization, as a “Woman Who Dared.” Shevitz was noted for her work on developing HIV testing protocols and more recently, researching nutritional problems associated with HIV.

Vickie Sullivan, associate professor and chair of political science, had her book, Machiavelli, Hobbes and the Formation of a Liberal Republicanism in England, published by Cambridge University Press.

Mika Sumiyoshi, A04, finished fourth in the 200 individual medley (2:08.33) and sixth in the 400 IM (4:32.67) to earn All-America honors in both events at the NCAA Swimming & Diving National Championships March 11­-13 at Principia College. Senior Beth Wecksell was 12th in both the one-meter diving (303.95 points) and the three-meter diving (336.50). The Tufts women’s swimming and diving team finished 27th overall at the meet.

Montserrat Teixidor i Bigas, associate professor of mathematics, has been awarded a Radcliffe Fellowship for 2004­05. Teixidor i Bigas, whose expertise is in algebraic geometry, plans to study the equations defining curves and the relation with their geometry. The Radcliffe Institute fellowships are designed to support scholars, scientists, artists and writers of exceptional promise.

Tish Vavado, coordinator of student services at the medical school, Dr. Matthew K. Waldor, associate professor of molecular biology and microbiology and chair of the medical school’s research committee, and 15 other medical faculty members met with 100 first-year medical students in March to discuss summer research opportunities at the school. “Having some first-hand knowledge of biomedical research will help [students become] better physicians—better prepared to understand the changes in medicine and even, perhaps, better diagnosticians,” said Dr. Michael Rosenblatt, dean of the medical school. There are more than 35 summer research scholarships of $3,000 each available for students between their first and second year of medical school.

Dr. Mark Jerome Walters, V93, has published a new book, Six Modern Plagues and How We Are Causing Them (Island Press, 2003). Coining the word “ecodemics” to illustrate the links between epidemics of disease and larger processes of human-mediated environmental change, Walters argues that human activities have been responsible for the exacerbation and even appearance of such diseases as mad cow disease, AIDS, West Nile virus and Lyme disease. Using a journalistic and anecdotal style, he describes the ecological factors that lead to the spread of disease, arguing, for example, that deforestation has lessened predator species that hunt deer and mice, animals that carry the ticks that spread Lyme disease.

Dr. Chenchen Wang, assistant professor of medicine, and her colleagues, including Dr. Joseph Lau, professor of medicine, analyzed reports of physical and psychological effects of tai chi on chronic medical conditions. They concluded, with some reservations, that “long-term tai chi practice had favorable effects on the promotion of balance control, flexibility and cardiovascular fitness and reduced the risk of falls in elders.” In addition, the researchers found that this traditional Chinese martial art, which emphasizes slow and graceful movements, appears to reduce “pain, stress and anxiety in healthy subjects.” The research appeared in the March 8 issue of The Archives of Internal Medicine, published by the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Judith Wechsler, National Endowment for the Humanities Professor in the Department of Art and Art History, had the French premier of her film, “Rachel of the Comédie Francaise” at the Comédie Francaise, the French National Theater in Paris. The exhibition she co-curated, “Rachel, a Life in the Theater,” opened in March at the Musée d’Art et d’Histoire du Judaïsme in Paris.

Richard M. Weiss, professor of mathematics, has received a Humboldt Research Award, which recognizes a lifetime of achievement in science. Weiss was nominated for the award by Theo Grundhoefer of the University of Wuerzburg and Gernot Stroth of the University of Halle-Wittenberg in Germany. As part of the award, Weiss is invited to carry out research projects of his choice in cooperation with colleagues in Germany. The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation grants up to 100 Humboldt Research Awards annually to scientists and scholars from outside Germany with internationally recognized academic qualifications.

Arthur W. Winston, director of the Gordon Institute and research professor of electrical engineering and computer science, began serving a one-year term as president of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) on January 1. An IEEE fellow, he is an expert in instrumentation and measurement. Winston previously served on the IEEE board of directors as IEEE Region 1 director in 1996­97, as educational activities vice president in 1998­99 and as IEEE president-elect in 2003. One of Winston’s main goals for his term is to enhance the globalization of the IEEE. “Nearly 40 percent of our members reside outside the United States. So, IEEE has a great opportunity to encourage technological development and influence prosperity worldwide. At the same time, we must be sensitive to how globalization impacts our members, including those in the United States who are concerned about jobs going offshore,” he said. The IEEE produces 30 percent of the world’s literature in electrical and electronics engineering and computer science.

Maryanne Wolf, professor of child development and director of the Center for Reading and Language Research, has been invited by the Dyslexia Foundation to participate in the Seventh Extraordinary Brain Symposium in Como, Italy, June 16­19. The symposium, “Developing New Pathways in the Study of the Dyslexic Brain,” will bring together leading researchers from three fields of neuroscience: dyslexia, brain malformations and cortical rearrangement. Last fall, Wolf participated in a program commemorating the 400th anniversary of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, the oldest scientific academy in the world. She was invited to present a paper at a meeting on “Mind, Brain and Education” in Vatican City.

Dr. John Wong, professor of medicine, is the co-author of three papers published in the last two months. They include modeling mortality rates of hepatitis C compared with HIV deaths in France, finding that HVC may be the bigger threat. Another paper, in Medical Decision Making (January/February 2004), modeled a prognosis for Canadians who contracted hepatitis C because of transfusions of infected blood. And in Vox Sanguinis in February, Wong contributed to a study that determined the cost-effectiveness of nucleic acid test (NAT) screening of blood donations for hepatitis B and C and HIV. NAT can detect those viruses even in the period immediately after infection but before individuals have developed antibodies that are the focus of other tests. The study found that 37 HBV, 128 HCV and eight HIV cases could be avoided with the screening. “The cost effectiveness is outside the typical range for most health care interventions, but not for established blood safety measures,” the paper concluded. Wong also gave lectures at two conferences in March: the Second International Symposium on Viral Hepatitis and the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases conference. An article he co-authored on a decision-analytic approach to treatment for someone who might have been exposed to anthrax was published in the March issue of Annals of Emergency Medicine.

Margo Woods, associate professor of family medicine and community health, has discovered that low levels of B12 are found in HIV-positive patients, even in the presence of protease inhibitors (PI) and dietary supplements. HIV-positive patients not receiving PI are known to have low B12 serum levels. Woods’ research confirmed that 22 percent of HIV-positive patients not taking PI had B12 levels below what is considered borderline for developing neurological problems. However, she found the same situation in 17 percent of PI-using, HIV-positive patients. In addition, her study indicated that extremely high dosages of supplements—10 times the norm—were needed to boost serum levels in PI-using, HIV-positive patients. The research points to a need for annual measurement of B12 levels in all HIV-positive patients, Woods says.

Dr. Chihwen Alec Yen has been appointed clinical instructor of periodontology at the dental school.