Johns Hopkins Gazette | January 5, 2009
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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University January 5, 2009 | Vol. 38 No. 16
In Brief


Johns Hopkins immunologists awarded $10 million NIH grant

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine have been awarded a $10.3 million grant — the largest basic immunology grant ever received by the university — from the National Institutes of Health to dissect the human immune system.

Specifically, they aim to learn more about what happens when the immune system goes wrong, and how to suppress undesired immune responses in the cases of rejected tissue or organ transplants or in autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis or lupus.

"The current approach to immune responses gone awry is to hit the TV set with a hammer and use drugs that globally suppress all immune activity," said project leader Jonathan Schneck, a professor of pathology. "We know these approaches are limited in their effectiveness; it would be great to develop targeted therapies, and in order to do that, we need to know more about how the immune system works."

The comprehensive research brings together experts from across Johns Hopkins to "build a better overview" of the immune response. The team will take on five different projects, led by five researchers in addition to Schneck: From the School of Medicine, Stephen Desiderio, director of the Institute for Basic Biomedical Sciences, head of the ImmunoICE program within the Institute for Cell Engineering, and professor of molecular biology and genetics; Abraham Kupfer, professor of cell biology; Joel Pomerantz, assistant professor of biological chemistry; and Jonathan Powell, associate professor of oncology; and from the School of Arts and Sciences, Michael Edidin, professor of biology.

The team will study how protein receptors on the surface of immune cells are organized in order to understand how they respond to foreign cells and particles in the body, as well as how they recognize the body's own cells. The researchers also will study how to use the immune system to fight cancer, and how immune cells communicate with themselves and with other cells.

"We're really excited about this opportunity because it breaks down traditional boundaries found at many research institutions and allows us to cross-fertilize ideas and projects across many disciplines," Desiderio said. "It's a huge investment to basic immunology research, and we are eager to get started on the work."


Engineering for Professionals wins $140,000 BRAC grant

Johns Hopkins Engineering for Professionals, the part-time graduate program of the Whiting School of Engineering, has won a $140,000 grant from the Maryland Higher Education Commission to help prepare workers for jobs coming to Maryland through the federal Base Realignment and Closure process. Johns Hopkins is one of 13 schools statewide that received grants ranging from $25,000 to $165,000.

"Owing to the state's current budget situation, the competition for these grants was pretty intense," said associate dean Allan W. Bjerkaas, who oversees the EP program. "We were one of only two private institutions in the state to receive one." With the grant, Johns Hopkins will be able to offer a fully online master's degree in systems engineering by the end of 2009.

The awards were announced by Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown and Higher Education Secretary James E. Lyons Sr. at a ceremony held last month in Annapolis.


Labor statisticians adopt guidelines for measuring volunteering

The International Labour Organization has announced that the world's labor statisticians have for the first time adopted guidelines for measuring the work of volunteers using labor force and other household surveys.

At the 18th International Conference of Labour Statisticians in Geneva, 260 statisticians representing a cross section of the world's official statistical agencies supported proposals for the ILO to proceed with the issuance of a Manual on the Measurement of Volunteer Work developed with the assistance of the Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies. The manual will suggest an international definition of volunteer work and offer guidelines for countries to use in measuring such work.

Lester Salamon, director of the Center for Civil Society Studies, said, "Volunteers comprise nearly half of the work force of the world's nonprofit organizations, yet it has remained largely invisible in official economic statistics. Now we can highlight and measure this important renewable resource for social and environmental problem solving, and thus lay the groundwork for policies to promote it."


Nominating begins for Women's Network Leadership Awards

Nominations are now being accepted for the Johns Hopkins Women's Network Leadership Awards, to be presented in May. One honoree from each chapter — APL, Bayview, Homewood and JHMI — will be selected. The deadline is Friday, Feb. 27. To complete the nomination form, go to:



The month during which employees listed in the Dec. 15 issue celebrated milestone anniversaries with the university was November, not December as stated.


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