* * * NEWSBRIEFS * * * University gains $1.355 million from the Hodson Trust The Hodson Trust has contributed $1.355 million to the university, 58 percent more than the trust s largest previous gift in nearly 40 years of supporting Johns Hopkins. Finn M.W. Caspersen, chairman of the trust and chairman and chief executive officer of Beneficial Corp., said the grant to Hopkins is part of a Hodson Trust record $4.7 million gift to four Maryland independent colleges and universities. The Hodson Trust, created more than 70 years ago by the family of Col. Clarence Hodson, founder of Beneficial Corp., has now distributed a total of more than $16 million to Hopkins since 1958. The four schools Hopkins, Washington College, Hood College and St. John s College in Annapolis have together received more than $57 million since 1936. "We are fortunate indeed that Col. Hodson placed such value on higher education when he established the trust and that the trustees have remained steadfast to this intent," Hopkins President William C. Richardson said. The largest share of this year s gift to Hopkins, more than $900,000, will go to a separate endowment being established to support minority and merit scholarships at the four schools. Another $100,000 goes to the Oncology Center to support research by young faculty, and $50,000 goes to the Division of Education in Continuing Studies to support programs fo students and adults with special needs. The remainder of the gift is intended to support merit and minority scholarships while the new endowment is established. Patients provide unique windows into human thought Hopkins neurologists are collecting unprecedented direct measurements of human brain activity and producing images of the flow of thought from one part of the brain to another. Using a new technique called electrocortical spectral analysis, doctors directly monitor changes in the electrical activity of millions of brain cells. Other methods, such as positron emission tomography or functional magnetic resonance, can only monitor changes in brain blood flow. New ESA data, taken from a group of patients, will help scientists fine-tune maps of brain activity and perhaps reveal how separate parts of the brain work together to solve mental tasks. "We re very interested in whether one part of the thought process, such as associating a picture with a thought, has to finish its workbefore another can take over, such as getting the mouth to say that word," said Nathan Crone, a Hopkins neurologist. "Perhaps the brain can begin work on both of those tasks at almost the same time." ESA is currently used only in patients who are candidates for brain surgery because of seizures, tumors or abnormal gatherings of blood vessels. In these cases, doctors implant a grid of electrodes on the surface of the patient s brain. The grid varies in size; individual electrodes are about 2 millimeters in diameter, spaced 1 centimeter apart and are joined by a soft plastic sheet that rests on the brain s surface. Wires from the electrodes exit the skull through a single scalp incision. "Other methods generally record only from the surface of the scalp," Dr. Crone said. "It s a big improvement to record directly from the surface of the brain." Estrogen improves artery size, blood flow in heart patients Estrogen helps keep women s arteries open and flowing free when cold-related stress might otherwise cause them to close up, Hopkins heart researchers reported at last month s meeting of the American Heart Association. "We know many individuals may be more likely to get heart attacks or angina in cold weather," said Roger Blumenthal, assistant professor of medicine. "Our research has shown for the first time that estrogen may prevent stress-induced constriction of the arteries." Dr. Blumenthal studied a group of postmenopausal women whose circulatory systems responded abnormally when their hands were placed in cold water. Normally, arteries around the heart respond to such stress by dilating. In some people, though, they constrict, reducing blood flow at a time when it is most needed. Dr. Blumenthal gave patients an intravenous dose of estrogen and performed the cold test again. Estrogen prevented constriction. "A number of studies have shown that doses of est- rogen appear to halve the risk of heart attacks in wo men," Dr. Blumenthal said. "This may help explain why."
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