Johns Hopkins Gazette: March 11, 1996

In Brief

Grad of part-time writing program publishes novel

     Elly Summers, a recent graduate of the Krieger School of
Arts and Sciences Part-time Graduate Program in Writing, sold her
first novel, This Never Happened, to Random House for $100,000.
And that's only the North American hard-cover rights.

     Summers started the book the year she enrolled in the
part-time writing program--which meets in Washington--in 1992. It
took her two years to complete.

     "I knew I knew how to write," she said, "but I needed
intelligent readers as I went along, and I had them [in this

     Summers is a schoolteacher who has been writing for about 10

     "I always wrote as a kid. Then I got married young, I had
kids, and I had to work. But when I was 30 or so, a story about
five siblings growing up came to me, and I wrote it," she said. 
     That book was never published. It was good enough, though,
to interest one agent in Summers' follow-up effort, drawing upon
the same five siblings grown up.

     Her agent thought the book was "an extraordinary novel,"
Summers said. "She went to England, and when she was there she
sold the British rights. Then she got back on a Monday to New
York and had sold it by Thursday to Random House," Summers said.

     For now she keeps writing, hard at work on her next novel,
which she will complete next year while on sabbatical from her
teaching responsibilities. And while she says "there's tremendous
satisfaction in being validated" by a contract, she doesn't feel
that much different. "I still do dishes and take care of my kids
and go to school." Perhaps that all will change when the book
comes out next spring.

Medical news

Imaging shows cortex difference in sexes

     Hopkins researchers have found that differences in two
specific areas of the brains of men and women may explain why
women tend to have better verbal ability than men. 

     The Hopkins team found that the percentage of gray matter in
two areas of the brain involved in speaking is larger in women
than in men. Specifically, researchers discovered that the amount
of gray matter in the side of the brain at the level of the eye
(dorsolateral prefrontal cortex) is 23.2 percent larger in women
than in men, while the amount of gray matter in the lower side of
the brain (superior temporal gyrus) is 12.8 percent larger. 

     Previous imaging studies comparing the brains of men and
women focused on parts of the brain involved in sexual behavior
and sex drive, the authors said. This is the first imaging study
to show differences in the cortex between men and women.  The
cortex is the outermost part of the brain, responsible for
complex mental processes.

     "This is a big difference in gray matter, which is the
substance of the brain we use to think with," said Thomas
Schlaepfer, assistant professor of psychiatry. "It helps to
explain why, on average, women have greater verbal ability than
men," said Schlaepfer, first author of a paper describing the
study, published in the fall 1995 issue of the quarterly journal
Psychiatry Research and Neuroimaging. 

     The results challenge a belief widely held that all such
differences are caused by education and other environmental,
rather than biological, factors, the authors said.  

     The Hopkins team studied 60 healthy individuals (17 women
and 43 men) of similar ages. The average age of women was 33.7,
and the average age of the men was 30.7. The researchers created
brain maps that let them compute the amount of gray matter as a
percentage of total brain volume, and account for differences in
the overall size of each individual's brain.

Marriage biggest risk for HIV among Thai women

     Despite the AIDS epidemic in Thailand and a huge government
condom campaign, men of all ages and marital and socioeconomic
status still visit prostitutes and have unprotected sex with
their wives, according to a School of Public Health study
published in a recent issue of The Journal of the American
Medical Association.

     Because the majority of Thai men still have sex with
prostitutes, marriage is the No. 1 risk factor among Thai women
for becoming infected with HIV.

     "The AIDS epidemic has made prostitution less popular, but
business is still thriving," said David Celentano, professor of
health policy and management and the study's lead author.
"Eighty-five percent of all men over the age of 16 have visited
prostitutes, down from 96 percent in 1993."

     Because men rarely use condoms with their wives, the next
wave of the epidemic is going to be heterosexual monogamous

     Thailand's AIDS epidemic is the second fastest-growing
epidemic in the world, overshadowed only by India's, with an
expected 2 million cases by the year 2000, Celentano said. 

     "Programs that increase effective condom use in brothels are
essential to slow the epidemic," Celentano said. In 1989, the
Ministry of Public Health in Thailand instituted a "100% Condom
Campaign" that supplied condoms to brothels and persuaded brothel
owners to enforce their use, he said. 

     The government tests women for sexually transmitted diseases
every two weeks and HIV every three months, Celentano said.

     "If the prostitute is HIV positive, the brothel is notified
but generally the women remain working until they develop

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