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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University October 31, 2005 | Vol. 35 No. 9
SoM Celebrates Record Percentage of Women Full Professors

Nobel laureate Linda Buck

By Eric Vohr
Johns Hopkins Medicine

On Tuesday, Nov. 1, the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine will celebrate the milestone of having promoted more than 100 women to full professorships. The celebration, scheduled to begin at 7:45 a.m. in Turner Auditorium, East Baltimore campus, will include a symposium featuring 2004 Nobel laureate Linda Buck, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at the University of Washington, Seattle, as keynote speaker. Also featured are faculty member Catherine DeAngelis, editor in chief of the Journal of the American Medical Association, Cokie Roberts of ABC News and more than a dozen of Johns Hopkins' leading women physicians and scientists.

The School of Medicine, which opened in 1893, leads the country as the institution with the largest percentage of female medical faculty who have been promoted to full professor. "We have come a long way, and there are more to come," said Janice Clements, vice dean for faculty and director of the Department of Comparative Medicine at Hopkins.

The symposium honors the legacy of Mary Elizabeth Garrett, the Baltimore philanthropist who raised the funds to open the medical school and who insisted from the beginning that the school admit women on equal terms as men.

"We have reached the 100-plus mark largely because of Miss Garrett's insistence that women be admitted to the medical school," Clements said.

The event's speakers will discuss the advancement of women and review Johns Hopkins' record, thanks to a recent report from the Committee on Faculty Development and Gender.

Additional speakers include Julia Haller, Department of Ophthalmology, vitreo-retinal surgical services; Barbara Migeon, Institute of Genetic Medicine, pediatrics; Diane Becker, Department of Medicine, general internal medicine; Nancy Davidson, Department of Oncology, breast; Susan Michaelis, Department of Cell Biology; Jennifer Haythornthwaite, Department of Psychiatry, medical psychology; Geraldine Seydoux, Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics; Nancy Craig, Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics; Ethylin Jabs, Institute of Genetic Medicine, pediatrics; Cynthia Rand, Department of Medicine, pulmonary; Cynthia Sears, Department of Medicine, infectious disease; and Pamela L. Zeitlin, Department of Pediatrics, pulmonary.

Among the Johns Hopkins full professors being honored at the celebration are:

Janice Clements, a professor since 1990 whose research expertise is in molecular virology and the pathogenesis of HIV in animal models. Since 1993, Clements has been the director of the Retrovirus Laboratory, an interdisciplinary group of 30 faculty, fellows and students who study in vitro and in vivo molecular virology, pathology, immunology and cellular signal transduction pathways related to HIV and AIDS.

Clements is interested in the molecular mechanism that HIV uses to enter the brain and establish infection and latency. Her group has been successful in understanding the events that occur which establish virus infection in macrophages and microglia in the brain and has recently demonstrated that a unique mechanism is responsible for establishing viral latency in these cells. The scientists have also recently demonstrated that the antibiotic minocycline has both antiviral and anti-inflammatory action in the infected brain and substantially reduces the central nervous system disease.

Carol Greider, director of the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, who joined Hopkins as an associate professor in July 1997. Her work is based on her discovery and study of the enzyme telomerase. Until her discovery, the existence of telomerase had been only speculative, but now scientists know the enzyme is found in all organisms with "linear" chromosomes, including humans. Thanks to her achievements, it is now known that normal cells stop dividing when the ends of their chromosomes--telomeres--get too short. Cancer cells can divide indefinitely in part because they turn on telomerase to keep the ends intact.

Greider's lab is divided between those working on the biochemistry of telomerase to identify and characterize telomerase components and those working on the consequences of telomere dysfunction, including the role of telomeres in tumor growth.

Barbara Fivush, chief of pediatric nephrology and a professor of pediatrics, who has been a long-standing advocate for the pediatric end-stage renal disease community in Maryland. In 1984, she petitioned the state to allow the creation of a dialysis facility solely for children and worked to improve pediatric renal transplantation outcomes in Maryland.

Fivush has supported legislation that benefits pediatric patients with ESRD and has worked closely with the National Kidney Foundation of Maryland, the Johns Hopkins Comprehensive Transplant Center and the Transplant Resource Center of Maryland. Her research interests have been dominated by pediatric ESRD, and in particular she has been instrumental in setting the standard for immunizing pediatric patients maintained on dialysis. More recently she has become involved in pediatric ESRD on a national level.

Linda P. Fried, a professor of medicine, epidemiology, health policy and nursing, who heads the Johns Hopkins Center on Aging and Health and the Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology. Her work focuses on promoting the health of our aging society by determining the causes of frailty and disability in older adults, and opportunities for prevention and treatment of these major adverse health outcomes.

Fried is internationally recognized as the developer of the leading phenotype of frailty in older adults and for directing research to discover its causes. She is the co-designer of the Experience Corps, a program to promote the health of older adults by enlisting men and women, 60 and older, to serve in public elementary schools.

Gabrielle V. Ronnett, a professor of neurology, with long-standing interests in two principal areas: the use of the olfactory system as a model of neuronal development and of developmental diseases, and the role of brain signaling pathways in regulating energy balance and food intake. Her contributions in the field of neurology include understanding the molecular basis of Rett syndrome, a form of autism, and using the olfactory system as a developmental model to understand the factors involved in maintaining health of nerve cells. Her contribution in the field of feeding is the discovery of novel brain pathways that may control food intake and the development of compounds that may eventually be used to control appetite and weight gain.

Cynthia Wolberger, a professor of biophysics and biophysical chemistry, who is investigating the molecular mechanisms underlying gene regulation in eukaryotic cells. She uses X-ray crystallography and other biophysical approaches to study the structure and behavior of protein complexes that control the packaging of chromosomes and regulate the synthesis of messenger RNA. Her recent work focuses on the Sir2 family of proteins and the mechanism by which they bring about transcriptional silencing. She also studies the mechanism of polyubiquitin chain assembly.

Additional information about the 100 Women at Hopkins gala is available online at


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