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Bottom Line
Vital Signs
Here and Abroad
Forever Altered
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Bottom Line

Last fall, weather prognosticators warned that Baltimore could be in for one of its toughest winters in years, sending shivers through the souls of those charged with keeping Homewood's walkways and parking lots passable in the event of a major storm. Of course, there are others at Hopkins who revel in the promise of slick surfaces and chilly temps. To each his own....

25: Number of undergraduates (all male) on Hopkins' ice hockey club team, which practices at Baltimore's Mt. Pleasant Ice Rink.

7: Number of undergraduates doing research in Antarctica in January with Earth and Planetary Sciences professor Bruce Marsh. (3 arrived via Russian icebreaker.)

25: Tons of rock salt (for asphalt) and magnesium chloride (for brick and marble) needed to clear the Homewood campus and Wyman Park areas for 3- to 6-inch snow.

40: Tons of rock salt and magnesium chloride used to clear Homewood/Wyman Park on December 26, 2002, after Baltimore's Christmas snow/ice event.

15: Number of grounds employees at Homewood tapped to handle average snow/ice event. (Plus 5 to 10 custodial employees and 12 outside contractors.)

1: Number of rubber-tipped plows used to clear the AstroTurf on Homewood Field (operated by one of 10 trucks equipped to plow snow).

5: Number of undergraduates in Arts and Sciences and Engineering who hail from Alaska.
-- Sue De Pasquale

Vital Signs

New Method for Containing Brain Aneurysms

Tiny, Slinky-shaped platinum coils inserted in burst aneurysms in the brain appear to help halt further damage and forestall patient death, according to a new Hopkins study.

Preliminary results of a study published in the October 26, 2002, issue of The Lancet suggest coils inserted into burst aneurysms decrease by 25 percent the risk of patient death and disability during the first year after the procedure.

The most commonly used treatment for burst aneurysms requires doctors to open the skull and surgically clip the neck of an aneurysm to stop the bleeding. In coiling, a catheter is inserted through an artery in the leg up into the brain. The coils that travel up the catheter resemble "miniature Slinkys that are folded gently into the aneurysm like a ball of yarn one by one to stop the bleeding," says Kieran Murphy, Hopkins associate professor of radiology and neurological surgery, and the primary investigator for the study. The coils could also be used to prevent aneurysms from bursting, Murphy adds.

The study examined 2,143 patients at 44 medical centers in North America, Europe, and Australia. Patients were randomized to receive either the coils or the more common surgical treatment. "The results with coiling were so favorable the trial was ended ahead of schedule," says Murphy.

According to the National Stroke Association, as many as 18 million Americans have unruptured brain aneurysms, abnormal ballooning of artery walls that, when they rupture, can spill blood into the brain, causing severe damage.

Murphy and Daniele Rigamonti, study co-author and Hopkins professor of neurosurgery, note that the coils are not suitable for every aneurysm patient and that additional studies are needed to understand long-term effects.

Gene Targets Promising in Battle Against Cancer

In the ever-developing fight against cancer, scientists have discovered a new target: a gene that could be manipulated to squeeze off a tumor's blood supply.

Researchers at Hopkins' Kimmel Cancer Center and Northwestern University have shown how the gene, Id1, controls the switch for tumor blood vessel growth, which is known as angiogenesis. Blood sources are needed for tumor cells to thrive.

In the study, published in the December 17, 2002, issue of Cancer Cell, researchers conclude that the Id1 gene -- present in many cancers including those of the breast, prostate, and pancreas -- controls the angiogenesis pathway by turning off the production of a protein, thrombospondin-1 (TSP-1), a naturally occurring suppressor of cell growth.

Better understanding of such genetic processes in cancer cell growth could lead to new drugs, including the development of TSP-1 as an anti-cancer agent, note lead study authors Rhoda M. Alani, assistant professor of oncology, dermatology, molecular biology and genetics, and Roberto Pili, assistant professor of oncology, both at the Kimmel Cancer Center.


Nestled between Homewood's Mattin Center and the Baltimore Museum of Art's sculpture garden, a bronze statue now welcomes visitors to campus. It depicts a young man holding a violin and bow; he is seated on the edge of his chair, as if just finishing a piece of music. The expression on his face is joyous, inspired.

Dedicated on November 23, 2002, the two-thirds life-size The Spirit of Music is the first statue on campus dedicated to the memory of a former student. Rex Chao was a sophomore political science major at Hopkins in April 1996 when he was shot and killed by estranged friend and classmate Robert Harwood Jr., while walking with girlfriend Suzanne Hubbard on a dirt path near the Milton S. Eisenhower Library. At 19, Chao had already gained a reputation as an overachiever, serving as an intern on Capitol Hill and playing the violin in both the Peabody and Hopkins symphony orchestras. "I'd never met a more spirited person in general," says friend and former classmate Amy Claire Brusch '98. "We wanted to give him a fitting tribute."

Brusch and Hubbard organized a student committee at Hopkins that proposed a memorial. "What happened was horrible, but we didn't want that to be his legacy," says Brusch. The committee worked with Chao's parents, Robert and Rosetta Chao, as well as Hopkins administrators, to raise money, and commissioned artist Jud Hartmann to create the statue in cast bronze. Hartmann -- whose stunning rendering of American Indians playing lacrosse sits outside the Lacrosse Hall of Fame, adjacent to campus -- worked from a series of photos of Chao to create the piece. He also met a number of times with Chao's parents for their input. In considering how to portray Chao, Hartmann surmised, "He was a young man who had a real joy for life, and he loved music.... I wanted this piece to focus on what his life was all about, rather than the tragic end."

A plaque is not yet in place, but The Spirit of Music's message is clear. "What I love about this statue is that the figure is looking up as if he's acknowledging or welcoming someone around him," says Walter Melion, chair of the Krieger School's history of art department. "It invites a relationship."

Brusch shares a similar view. "Everyone is happy with how this turned out ... his spirit does live on." -- Diana Whitman


Scientists Discover New Signaling Pathway

A biochemical "clock" that processes live-or-die information within cells has been discovered by Hopkins scientists using groundbreaking computer modeling.

Messages sent from the surface of the cell to the nucleus can cause a cell to thrive or commit suicide. And the ability to manipulate such signaling pathways could help turn off cancer cells, among other treatments, researchers say.

"We know that cancer cells use this pathway," says Andre Levchenko, assistant professor in the Whiting School's Department of Biomedical Engineering. "If we can find a smart way to cut this 'wire,' it will be much easier to kill the cancer cells."

Signaling pathways have long been known to scientists, but not clearly understood. Levchenko and his colleagues made their discovery by first developing a computer model showing how they believed the NF-kappaB pathway works. Researchers at the California Institute of Technology then verified the results by studying the pathway in live mouse cells in the lab. Their joint study was published in the November 8, 2002, issue of the journal Science.

The research team concluded that the signaling process is even more complicated than the previously envisioned simple wire. "The pathway was operating like a clock with a pendulum," says Levchenko, a lead author on the study.

By better understanding this process, researchers might be able to create drugs that change or disrupt this line of communication. And the Hopkins computer model, since being validated by Caltech's lab tests, could be used to speed up the development of such pharmaceuticals, researchers predict.

Off the Deep End: A Tank for Underwater Robots

The Homewood campus is more than a few hours from deep water. But that isn't stopping Hopkins engineers from testing and developing smarter deep sea exploration robots: They simply brought water to Maryland Hall.

A new circular hydrodynamics tank -- 14 feet deep, 25 feet in diameter, and filled with 43,000 gallons of water -- is taking up a large lab on campus.

Researchers are using the tank to test the JHU Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV), a small underwater robot developed by Hopkins engineers. Navigation and control techniques to be developed in the new tank are aimed at improving the operations of such vehicles, which can explore some of the deepest parts of the ocean where divers can't go.

"Our research goal is to develop new technology to enable new oceanographic research," says Louis Whitcomb, director of the new testing facility and an associate professor in the Whiting School's Department of Mechanical Engineering. Hopkins is collaborating with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution to deploy new computer systems and other technologies for such vehicles. Says Whitcomb: "One advantage of an uninhabited submersible is that it can explore the deepest parts of the ocean 24 hours a day, seven days a week."

Here and Abroad

SAIS faculty member Ruth Wedgwood has been elected the U.S. member of the United Nations Human Rights Committee, a monitoring body on international human rights. Wedgwood, an oft-quoted expert on international law and justice in the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, directs SAIS' International Law and Organizations Program. "I want to make the committee an effective voice in persuading states to improve their criminal justice systems, democratic governance, and rule of law," Wedgwood says.

... Pianist and Peabody faculty member Leon Fleisher performed for the first time in China late last year, with concerts in Beijing and Shanghai. He took advantage of his proximity and dropped by the Hopkins Nanjing Center for an impromptu recital. In Shanghai, Fleisher received an honorary professorship from the Shanghai Conservatory; only two other Western musicians -- Yo-Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman -- have been so honored.

... An AIDS Resource Center designed to provide counseling, testing, health information, and funding sources to residents of Ethiopia has opened its doors in the capital city of Addis Ababa. In Ethiopia, 7.3 percent of adults are already infected with HIV. "Having access to accurate and current information is key to halting the spread of this virus," says Tadesse Wuhib, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director in Ethiopia. The center is a joint effort of the CDC, the Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health's Center for Communication Programs, and Ethiopia's HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Office, among other agencies.

... The Hopkins men's soccer team toured Costa Rica for eight days in January. The Jays played matches against teams from San Jose, San Carlos, and Jaco, and also enjoyed, according to the team's itinerary, an "afternoon off at the beach" on Day 7. -- Joanne Cavanaugh Simpson, DK

Forever Altered

Mentor, hero, inspiration: Hopkins teachers who have left their mark

"That's so difficult to pick one!" says Antonia C. Novello, MD, MPH '82, DrPh 2000, a former U.S. surgeon general and now New York state health commissioner. She begins to reel off names with little asides: Donald A. Henderson, whose work eradicating smallpox prompted her to get her MPH at Hopkins. Helen Abbey ("such a brain in such a small body!"), Edyth Schoenrich and Donald Steinwachs ("such brilliant teachers!"). Current School of Public Health Dean Alfred Sommer, "for leadership, chutzpah, and his ability to get everything out of you. And he makes public health sound exciting." Whew.

But then Novello pauses, thoughtfully, and begins to talk about a teacher whose course helped to change the direction of her life and career.

"I went to my class with Karen Davis, and I saw this woman talking about government, about public health policy, and all of a sudden I thought, it seems like government has a lot of influence. She made it clear that if you really know about government, then you might be able to impact people's health.

"When you have been at the National Institutes of Health all your life [Novello held many leadership positions during her 12 years there], you tend to think how you can save the world with medications, treatment, drugs. I saw that you could change public health with government and laws.

"During my MPH, I learned that there is something called humbleness. It's very different from medicine, where there is immediate gratification -- you cure, you save. But in public health you draft, you accomplish, and no one will ever know you were part of it.

"Now Karen is here in New York at the Commonwealth Fund, and we do a lot of work together. And she's still for the poor and she's still for public health." -- MM


When Craig Hankin, head of the Homewood Art Workshops, teaches introductory drawing and painting classes to Hopkins undergrads, he tries not to get too heady with the terminology. "Chiaroscuro? I almost never use that -- too complicated," he says. "We don't spend much time on theory. We want to get their hands dirty, get them feeling what the medium is like." So, to get the feel of a little paint under your nails, here's a short primer:

L-mode/R-mode: Refers to brain hemisphere functions, with L the verbal, analytic mode and R the visual, perceptual mode. Taken from Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards, a book Hankin favors for intro classes.

Blind contour drawing: Drawing while looking at the subject and not the paper. "Students panic -- but this forces them to give up control. The eye and the drawing hand need to be in sync."

Gesture drawing: In minute-long increments, students sketch a figure model with fast strokes to show where the energy is in the form, rather than making a detailed sketch. "It's a way to get the students over being self-conscious about a nude human being in the room."

Alla prima: Oil painting done in one sitting instead of building color with layers of paint.

Glazing: Generally refers to putting a paint on top of a lighter color with the goal of making the color deeper while retaining transparency: for example, putting color on someone's cheeks.

Scumbling: Applying a thin layer of opaque color over a darker underlayer for a soft effect. "Bonnard was a master of scumbling."

Master copy: A time-honored tradition in which artists copy the works of the greats, this is one of the final assignments for Hankin's painting class. -- MM


Test your knowledge of the health and environmental issues facing our overcrowded planet with six multiple-choice quizzes on the Hopkins Center for Communication Programs site. From the "Population and the Environment" quiz: Which country emits the most carbon dioxide? If you pick C -- "The USA accounts for nearly half of atmospheric carbon emissions" -- you're on your way to higher knowledge. In addition to the quizzes, the site features the full text of the quarterly Population Reports, on topics from dwindling freshwater to HIV/AIDS.

Up & Comer

Name: Ruby Lal

Age: 34
Assistant professor in
anthropology and history; associate director of the Program for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality

Stats: BA '89, MA '91, MPhil '95 University of Delhi; PhD '02 Oxford University

Scouting Report: English department chair Frances Ferguson calls Lal "a vigorous intellectual leader" in the WGS program, who brings her training in history and anthropology to bear "in very original ways." Notes Ferguson, "Ruby's work -- like much of the best scholarship -- tries to capture the understanding that takes place even in mutual misunderstandings."

Current Work: In studying the ruling family of 16th century India, the Grand Mughals, Lal zeroed in on the memoir of princess Gulbadan Banu Begum, the daughter of the first Mughal emperor, sister of the second, and aunt of the third. "She was born in Afghanistan in 1508 and had seen the empire in the making. Who would be a better person to record the memories of the empire? Everybody else wrote in the general way of making the emperor the center of everything -- about how many victories he'd had and his wonderful accomplishments." What the princess wrote "had nothing to do with kings as the center of things. It was all about domestic life and manners and emotions" -- arguments between kings and their wives, presents being sent, even courtly matters.

Hero: "My hero is humanity. I think it's very important to be a good human being. Anybody who can be that is really my hero."

Alternate Career: "There is a secret I will tell you -- I've been writing short stories. I want to finish a collection in the next year or two." -- DK


Course: "Hard-Boiled Fiction and Film Noir"

Instructor: John Irwin, Decker Professor of the Humanities, and author of The Mystery to a Solution (1994), which minutely analyzed mystery stories by Edgar Allan Poe and Jorge Luis Borges.

Course Description: An undergraduate course exploring the uniquely American tough-guy fiction of Hammett and Chandler et al. from the 1930s and '40s, and the films these books inspired.

The Maltese Falcon (reissued 1992), Dashiell Hammett

John Huston's 1941 film The Maltese Falcon (starring Humphrey Bogart, Peter Lorre, and Sydney Greenstreet)

The Big Sleep (reissued 1992), Raymond Chandler

Howard Hawk's 1946 film The Big Sleep (Bogart again, opposite Lauren Bacall)

Farewell My Lovely (reissued 2002), Raymond Chandler

Double feature: Edward Dmytryk's 1944 film Murder, My Sweet (starring Dick Powell and Claire Trevor); Dick Richard's 1975 film Farewell, My Lovely (with the always cool Robert Mitchum and the always icy Charlotte Rampling)

Double Indemnity (reissued 1992), James M. Cain

Billy Wilder's 1944 film Double Indemnity (starring Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck)

High Sierra (reissued 1979), W. R. Burnett

Raoul Walsh's 1941 film High Sierra (Bogart once more, opposite Ida Lupino)

Night Has a Thousand Eyes (reissued 1989, now out of print), Cornell Woolrich

John Farrow's 1948 film Night Has a Thousand Eyes (starring Edward G. Robinson and Gail Russell)


For Meera Popat, tonight's talk by Chris Matthews of MSNBC's "Hardball" marks the end of her tenure as co-chair of the 2002 Milton S. Eisenhower Symposium. This year's topic for the annual lecture series organized by Hopkins undergrads: "An Introspective Look at American Identity in the 21st Century."

3 a.m. Popat goes to sleep. An international relations major in year three of a five-year bachelor's/master's degree, she has a12-page paper due tomorrow.

8 a.m. Popat wakes up to keep writing. She finishes nine pages.

Noon The caterer arrives at Popat's apartment to drop off platters of crudites, sandwiches, and desserts for the event.

5:55 p.m. First crisis of the night: The Hopkins van reserved to transport the food is missing from the university lot.

6:40 p.m. Co-chair Dennis Boothe arrives; he and Popat wait in her apartment for the replacement van. Her cell phone rings. It's symposium publicity coordinator Tannaz Rasouli. "Channel 11? Are they going to come? Hold on -- " Popat's regular phone rings. "Hello? Hello? Hello? You're downstairs?" It's the van. "Let me get my shoes on really quickly!"

6:59 p.m. The van pulls up to Shriver Hall, where an orchestra concert is just letting out. Popat, Boothe, and six MSE staff members have an hour to unload the food, set up tables, clean the auditorium, get lights and sound check going, and figure out what to do with the piano blocking the stage.

7:15 p.m. Crisis No. 2. The electrician had an emergency call and isn't back yet. "We really need an electrician," says Popat.

7:25 p.m. Between rapid-fire cell phone calls to iron out the cup situation, procure tablecloths, and ask somebody to videotape the Channel 11 news, Popat greets symposium staff members, the security guards, and her parents.

7:37 p.m. "He's here! He's here!" Panic. Chris Matthews is half an hour early. "Wait," says Popat, "did you say the lecturer, or the electrician?" It's the electrician. Sound check goes smoothly.

7:55 p.m. The Shriver "Green Room." It's dead time until Matthews arrives. "You feel like you shouldn't be sitting down," says Popat. "You feel like you're forgetting something."

8:10 p.m. Matthews walks in and shakes hands. He wants black coffee. Popat gets it. He wants to know what time his show airs in the Baltimore area. She steps outside and uses her cell phone to call a friend who checks the TV guide online. Matthews asks, "Are the students here pro-war? Or do they even talk about it?"

8:40 p.m. Popat does the welcome, Boothe introduces Matthews.

10:19 p.m. Matthews' speech -- "Crossing Borders: Looking Outward to a Connected World" -- and the Q&A are over. Symposium staff members give Popat and Boothe flowers and chocolates. Matthews goes upstairs for a book signing.

11:15 p.m. Matthews poses for a photo with the symposium staff. Popat walks him outside to his limo. Now comes clean-up.

11:46 p.m. Popat goes home to finish her paper.
-- SM

Return to February 2003 Table of Contents

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