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Bottom Line
Forever Altered
Vital Signs
Here and Abroad
Up and Comer

Bottom Line

26: Years Johns Hopkins University has ranked first in science, medical, and engineering research spending, according to the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The new rankings compared the bottom lines of hundreds of American colleges and universities for fiscal year 2004. Johns Hopkins spent $1.375 billion — 43.8 percent more than second-place finisher University of California, Los Angeles, and 44.1 percent more than third-place finisher University of Michigan. Hopkins was also the biggest spender — dropping $1.229 billion — for research partially supported by federal agencies like the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense.

Though Hopkins is at the top of the list, the NSF reports that, overall, national spending on science research is slowing. In 2002 and 2003, nationwide science research expenditures grew by more than 10 percent. But the $42.9 billion spent in 2004 was only 7.2 percent more than in 2003, and when adjusted for inflation, only 4.7 percent more.

Hopkins has topped the NSF ranking since 1979, when it started including money spent on research done by the Applied Physics Laboratory. (APL accounted for $670 million, or 49 percent, of this year's figure.) Hopkins reached another milestone in 2002, when it became the first school to spend over a billion dollars — $1.14 billion, to be exact — in total research, and is still the only school to have crossed that benchmark.

"Discoveries and innovations that provide lasting benefit to humanity are the ultimate goals of the scientific, medical, and engineering research done at Johns Hopkins," said university President William R. Brody. "But we are also gratified that our scientists' success in winning support for their research has a major economic benefit at home here in Maryland, where the university is one of the state's largest private employers."
—Virginia Hughes, A&S '06 (MA)


"BLACK HOLES ... are out there. But what are they?" asks a soothing female voice when you first enter "Black Holes: Gravity's Relentless Pull." Physicists will tell you a black hole is a large mass packed so densely that its gravitational pull won't even let a beam of light escape.

Right, we can't really picture it either — but with clear explanations, lively animation, and interactive games, a Web site from the Space Telescope Science Institute helps. The site, geared toward kids and curious adults, lets you pilot a virtual spacecraft on a trip to a small black hole in our own Milky Way, Cygnus X-1, or to a supermassive black hole 2.5 million light-years away in the galaxy Andromeda. Once you arrive, you learn proper terms and perform "experiments," like calculating their mass, dropping a clock in to see how time slows, and even seeing what would happen if you fell in. —VH

Forever Altered

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

Photo courtesy The Ferdinand Hamburger Jr. Archives, MSE Library, Johns Hopkins University "Great institutions now measure themselves in terms of mega-achievements and macro-events. Small incidents of kindness seldom are recorded if they occur at all.

"I was the beneficiary of such a dispensation many years ago. For me it was life altering, and I have never forgotten it. It bespeaks the heart and soul of JHU, and my hope is that such a thing could also happen in today's frenetic world.

"It was 1942, and I was in the latter part of my junior year. Things were hectic with the readjustments necessitated by the war. One day I found myself at the height of elation and at the depths of despair. A letter of admission came from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, but with the condition that I absolve the then-existing requirement of Latin through the four books of Caesar. This was a standing requirement in addition to the reading knowledge of French and German for which I had had plenty of preparation. I had always fantasized about being admitted to Hopkins, but alas, I had also fantasized that the Latin requirement would be abolished. (It was, but too late for me.)

"In desperation, but with little hope, I turned for help to the legendary registrar of those days, Ms. Irene Davis. Her reaction was sympathetic and unbelievably innovative. It consisted of setting up a Latin class for me and one other student under the guidance of an associate professor. There being no classroom available, we met under a big shady tree, and a situation which held the promise of disaster was converted to one of the best learning experiences I have ever encountered.

"The manifestation of solicitude on behalf of a single student has always embodied for me much of the essence of Hopkins."

Irving Young, A&S '43, Med '46, was chairman of the Department of Laboratories at Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia. He retired in 1987.

Vital Signs

Keeping younger drivers safe...
Many U.S. states use graduated driver licensing — learner permits, followed by intermediate licensing, followed by full licensing as drivers accumulate experience. New research out of the Bloomberg School's
Center for Injury Research and Policy and the School of Medicine has found that these programs reduce fatal accidents among 16-year-olds by 11 percent. Programs vary state by state, and lead author Susan P. Baker of the Bloomberg School says, "It is clear that more comprehensive programs have the greatest effect." The research appeared in the July Pediatrics.

...And older drivers sound
School of Medicine researchers report in July's American Journal of Public Health that elderly people who drive themselves are less likely to enter assisted-living facilities than those who have lost their ability to drive. Interviews with 1,593 seniors, ages 65-84, found that non- drivers across the age group were four times more likely to enter expensive long-term care. Ellen Freeman, an epidemiological researcher now at Hopkins' Wilmer Eye Institute, was lead author of the study.

Antioxidants and the eyes
Hopkins scientists have blocked retinal degeneration in mice by applying vitamin E, alpha-lipoic acid, and other antioxidants. Peter Campochiaro, professor of ophthalmology and neuroscience at the School of Medicine, led a team that studied retinitis pigmentosa (RP) in mice. The researchers believed that cone photoreceptors in the eye die from oxygen produced after a genetic mutation kills rod photoreceptors. The antioxidants inhibited this damage, and could lead to a therapy that would help people with RP retain some of their sight. The research appeared in the July online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. —DK


During the first decade that Andrew Harrison, material culture archivist at the Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives, spent at Johns Hopkins, he got repeated inquiries about the Harriet Lane House elevator doors. Harriet Lane had housed a children's clinic since it opened in 1912, and people seemed strangely attached to the elevator, which according to legend was so slow that more business was conducted waiting for its doors to open than was done in the building's board room. "Three or four times a year I'd get a call from someone who wanted a photograph of the doors," Harrison says. "But we didn't have them."

The doors were auctioned off just before the building was torn down in 1974, and for years no one at the archives knew their whereabouts. Then two years ago, one of the two copper-wrapped wood doors resurfaced as a gift to George Dover, chairman of pediatrics, who hung it outside his office (shown here).

Last January, the other door showed up. As it turned out, the neurology department's John Freeman had the door in his basement for 25 years. Other than a few dings, it was in excellent shape. "I was going to make a coffee table out of it," he says. Freeman donated the door to the archives, and it will eventually go on display with its mate in the new Children's Center Tower.

Though it is the only door in the archives, Harrison says, it's far from being the most unusual item. That would be William Halsted's death mask on the shelf over there, he says pointing, or the upside-down skeleton of a three-toed sloth in the corner, or maybe the stuffed alligator standing there on his hind legs. ..."We have more than 10,000 objects in the collection," Harrison says. "The doors are actually pretty tame." — MB


This summer, 29 Hopkins students pursued research projects as part of the Provost's Undergraduate Research Awards. Here is a look at two of the projects:

Adnan Ahmad, A&S '07, political science, "Radical Islamism and State Crackdown: Examining the Implications of Bangladesh's Strategy to Combat Domestic Terrorism"
The large-scale terrorist attacks in Bangladesh last summer came as a surprise to Ahmad, a Bangladeshi-American. Then, when he saw the connection between the intensity of the state response to Islamist groups and the dramatic escalation in violence, he was intrigued. He sees his project as a case study of the global problem of domestic terrorism. By examining news accounts from the past decade, he plans to track where and when Islamist groups in Bangladesh first appeared. Then he wants to interview lawyers, judges, professors, members of religious groups, and their leaders. "I'd like to see how the secular legal institution is surviving amidst challenges from Islamist groups and from a government that sidelines the law in order to crack down on domestic terror," he says.

Rachel Walker, Nurs '07, "Partner Violence and HIV/AIDS-Related Behavioral Outcomes in Women of African Heritage"
Walker's project examines how cultural perspectives related to partner violence among African immigrants in the United States may have an impact on their health-promoting behaviors related to HIV/AIDS. Can fears of domestic violence affect the abilities of these women to protect themselves and their loved ones from HIV infection? This summer Walker investigated the answers through a series of interviews and focus groups with women and men of African heritage in Baltimore. It's a topic that hasn't been studied extensively in the past, she says, and her findings could aid in designing more effective health-promotion strategies for this vulnerable population. —MB


For the blind, a handy tool
Hopkins engineering students have created a low-cost Braille writer that could aid blind people unable to afford more expensive technology. The students, four mechanical engineering majors who were part of the
Whiting School's Engineering Design Project last year, produced a prototype for the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), which had challenged them to invent a device that would not require a computer to use and would cost less than $50. The students — Emily Kumpel, Peter Lillehoj, Mark MacLeod, and Penny Robinson — created a hand-held unit that uses six buttons and an innovative system of pins to form the Braille characters. The device is purely mechanical and could be manufactured, they estimate, for $10. The final design, though it has some engineering flaws that kept it from working perfectly, was praised by NFB officials as a proof-of-concept starting point in the federation's effort to develop a low-cost, low-tech writer.

That's what comets are made of
Analysis of material ejected when NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft deliberately collided with the comet Tempel 1 on July 4, 2005, has revealed substances never before found in comets. An observation team headed by Carey Lisse of the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory used the imaging spectrometer on NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope to determine the chemical composition of the ejecta. The scientists found carbonates, smectite (basically clay), metal sulfides, and a type of hydrocarbon also found in automobile exhaust. Lisse was surprised to find the presence of materials from the inner solar system and others from the outer planetary reaches. "It implies there was a great deal of churning in the primordial solar system," he says, "with high- and low-temperature materials mixing over great distances." Lisse wrote about the findings on the "Science Express" Web site, which publishes selected papers before they appear in the journal Science. —DK

Here and Abroad

The Nitze School of Advanced International Studies' Bologna Center on August 1 welcomed a new director. Kenneth H. Keller, Engr '63 (MA), '64 (PhD), was most recently a professor of science, technology, and public policy at the University of Minnesota, where during his 35-year career, he served as president from 1985 to 1988. A Johns Hopkins chemical engineering doctoral graduate, Keller was a member of the Whiting School's National Advisory Council and a member of the Department of Chemical Engineering's Board of Visitors. In 2003-2004, he was a professorial lecturer and visiting professor at the Bologna Center.

... In July, the School of Nursing came to the aid of five graduate nursing students from the American University in Beirut. The Lebanese students, who were in the United States for a seven-week clinical nursing residency at Hopkins, were stranded when war broke out at home, and airports and ports there were closed to incoming travelers. The school and the Johns Hopkins Hospital's Department of Nursing are hosting the students until they are able to head home again, covering their housing and living expenses, and offering them additional educational opportunities for their extended stay.

...Also in July, JHPIEGO was awarded a three-year, $24 million grant by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to implement the AIDS, Population, and Health Integrated Assistance Program in Kenya's Eastern Province. JHPIEGO, an affiliate of Johns Hopkins that aims to improve health care for women and families in poor regions throughout the world, will lead efforts to provide high-quality HIV/AIDS services, including increasing the number of people who receive antiretroviral drugs; preventing mother-to-child transmission; and offering palliative care.


Course: Consumer Behavior Analysis

Instructor: Erik Gordon is an assistant professor of marketing in the School of Professional Studies in Business and Education's Graduate Division of Business and Management.

Course description: Consumer behavior is basic to marketing. That includes not only marketers of goods and services in profit-seeking companies, but also people in governmental and nonprofit organizations who want to understand — and influence — behaviors like smoking, voting, healthy eating, attending the symphony, even making charitable contributions. This course spans a wide spectrum of public policy areas, from consumer fraud to consumer comprehension of prescription drug labels. Through lectures, discussion of case studies, and class debates, students will learn the factors that influence consumer beliefs and behaviors. They'll also consider the practical impact of consumer behavior analysis on marketing strategies, market positioning, and brand loyalty.

Suggested readings: Students will read case studies published by the Harvard Business School, including:

In-N-Out Burger: A fast-food chain with 171 locations, In-N-Out has a hard-core customer base. But when the company expands, will customers stay loyal?

BMW Films: BMW's recent ad campaign featured five short films for the Internet, directed by some of Hollywood's hottest directors, and it's been a huge success. But with such non-traditional marketing, what should it do for an encore?

Pacific Western Brewing Company: The brewery is preparing a Japan market-entry strategy for the company's newly developed organic beer. But with Japanese consumer behavior undergoing a revolution, is the move too risky?

Up & Comer

Name: Nicholas Katsanis
Age: 36

Position: Associate professor of ophthalmology in the McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine

Stats: BS '93, University College London; PhD '97, University of London; PostDoc '00, Baylor College of Medicine.

Scouting report: "Nico has brought a clarifying light to what was previously a neglected area of human genetics and mammalian cell biology," says Johns Hopkins molecular biology and genetics professor Jeremy Nathans, who adds that talking with Katsanis "is the intellectual equivalent of drinking a triple-strength cappuccino. He has this terrifically high energy level — the gears are always whirring."

Research: Katsanis wants to answer key questions in the field of genetics: How do specific genes give rise to disease? Why do genetic diseases vary so widely among people? "We've been getting better at identifying a gene for a particular disorder, but where we're not so successful is in using genes as tools to predict what we'll see in the clinic." He focuses on Bardet-Biedl syndrome (BBS), a rare disease that affects every tissue in the body and can cause mental retardation, obesity, and vision loss.

Big news: In spring 2004, Katsanis' lab found that damages to cell cilia — long thought to be "vestiges of evolution" — actually have "front and center roles" in the development of BBS. "The whole ciliary field is undergoing a little bit of a revolution right now."

Most surprising finding: Though BBS has been studied for 100 years, Katsanis' lab was the first to figure out that patients with the disease can't smell.

Alternate career: "No, never. I can't imagine myself doing anything else."

But... Katsanis has written about a dozen short stories — "a surrealistic psychological, Twilight Zone-type" — and loves to sail the Chesapeake.

Return to September 2006 Table of Contents

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