Johns Hopkins Gazette: May 6, 1996

Medical News

Shark-liver substance may slow brain tumors

     Results of Hopkins animal studies show that a natural shark
substance nearly stops the growth of new blood vessels that
nourish solid brain tumors.

     The results suggest that the substance, squalamine, named
for the shark genus Squalus, may find a role with chemotherapy,
radiation and surgery in treating brain cancer and other solid
tumors in people, say scientists from Hopkins and Magainin
Pharmaceuticals, which processes squalamine and funded the

     Hopkins scientists added squalamine, a hormone-like chemical
concentrated in the liver of the dogfish shark, and a growth
factor to lab dishes containing central nervous system blood
vessel cells from cows and squalamine alone to lab dishes
containing human, rabbit or rat solid brain tumor cells. The
blood vessel cells' rate of growth fell by up to 83 percent after
two days, while the tumor cells treated with squalamine were

     Results of a second study showed that time-release capsules
containing squalamine slowed the growth of new blood vessels
caused by tumors in rabbits' eyes by up to 43 percent after three

     Uncontrolled growth of blood vessels fuels the runaway cell
growth of malignant tumors. Other investigators also are
exploring natural shark substances for use against human
diseases, but this is believed to be the first evidence that
squalamine may work against brain cancer. Squalus sharks' livers
produce an oil used in manufacturing drugs, and small amounts of
squalamine are found in shark cartilage.

     Squalamine dramatically slowed blood vessel cell growth
without damaging healthy cells, according to Henry Brem,
co-author of the studies and director of neurosurgical oncology,
and Allen K. Sills, lead author and a Hopkins neurosurgery

Other News

Students organize rally in support of living wage

     A coalition of student groups, faculty members and others
held a rally on April 30 to support the Campaign for a Living
Wage at Hopkins. 

     Rally organizers wanted to draw university-wide attention to
employees who were earning the minimum wage of $4.25 an hour,
without benefits, in the employ of Broadway Services Inc., a
for-profit subsidiary of the Dome Corp., which is jointly owned
by the university and the Johns Hopkins Health System. 

     Speakers at the noon rally, which attracted about 200
faculty, staff, students and others to Homewood campus' Levering
Hall, demanded that Hopkins insist that these employees get at
least $6.10 an hour--with benefits. That hourly wage was based on
a recently passed Baltimore City ordinance--the first in the
country--that requires companies with city contracts to pay
employees at least that amount with an increase to $6.60 after
July 1. 

     Michelle McLaurin, a member of the organizing Graduate
Representative Organization and a graduate student in political
science, said the rally was originally planned to force the
administration to discuss the matter. 

     But a meeting had already been set for May 8 between worker
representatives, chairman and CEO of the Dome Corp. James Flick
and senior vice president for administration Eugene Sunshine. So,
she said, the rally's purpose shifted to putting pressure on the
administration to accept the living wage policy.

     In an April 16 letter to students, Sunshine put the
employment situation into context. The letter noted that as of
March, BSI employed 976 full-time and 660 part-time employees. Of
these employees, 39 full-timers and 207 part-timers earned the
minimum wage, and all full-time workers received subsidized
health and retirement benefits. 

     Of the 246 minimum wage workers, Sunshine stated, 170
(nearly 70 percent) are employed under a Baltimore City school
contract in which the city is paying BSI, as the contractor, only
enough money to provide for a minimum wage to individuals doing
the work.

     University spokesman Dennis O'Shea said that because BSI
bids against other commercial companies for jobs, including those
for Baltimore City, BSI "would go out of business" if it offered
wages higher than its competitors.

     The letter points out that BSI generally pays minimum wage
only for entry level positions with the expectation that
employees will soon move into higher paying positions. 

Barton Hall lobby to be named for Julian Smith   

     A dark, gloomy entryway in a building that once housed
secret military research at Johns Hopkins has been transformed
into a bright modern lobby, thanks to a gift from the family of a
prominent Baltimore broadcasting executive.

     The family of the late Julian Sinclair Smith, who received
an electrical engineering degree from Hopkins in 1952, will join
university officials at 4:30 p.m. Friday, May 10, to name the
refurbished lobby of Barton Hall in honor of Smith. The ceremony
will take place on the lower quad, outside the main entrance to
Barton Hall.

     The building opened in 1961 as the Radiation Laboratory.
Inside, Hopkins conducted classified research for the U.S. Air
Force. As a result, the lobby had no windows and was set up for
restricted access.

     In 1962, the building was renamed in honor of Carlyle
Barton, president of the university's board of trustees between
1941 and 1958. Radiation research at this site ended in 1970.
Barton became the home of the Department of Electrical and
Computer Engineering and, later, the Center for Language and
Speech Processing. Yet until now, its lobby remained as dark and
dreary as it was during the Cold War era. The Smith family's gift
allowed the installation of new doors, new lighting fixtures and
warm cherry wood accents, along with transom windows to let in
natural light. Fresh white paint now covers the formerly dark

     A portrait of Julian Smith will hang in the lobby. A new
display case will let visitors view memorabilia from his career,
including his 1952 Hopkins diploma, signed by Carlyle Barton.

     In 1986 Smith and his family founded the Sinclair
Broadcasting Group, which is now the seventh-largest broadcast
group in the United States. The company's local holdings include
WBFF-TV, Channel 45, Baltimore's Fox Network affiliate and
WNUV-TV, Channel 54. Smith died in 1993 at age 72.

     Smith's widow, Carolyn, and their four sons have pledged $2
million to Hopkins' Whiting School of Engineering to honor his
achievements. From the gift, $1.5 million will establish a
professorship in electrical engineering. 

     The remaining funds are to be used for extensive renovations
at Barton Hall; the lobby project represents the first phase of
that work.

     One quirky fixture from the old Radiation Lab will remain as
a tribute to Ferdinand Hamburger, former chair of the Department
of Electrical Engineering. Hamburger, who was left-handed,
insisted that the main doorknobs be mounted on the left side. The
revamped Barton Hall lobby will continue to have doors that cater
to lefties.

'Homicide' episode filmed at WJHU to air
     WJHU-FM will make its national television debut on Friday,
May 10, at 10 p.m. on WBAL-TV. The studios on Charles Street were
transformed into the set for Homicide: Life on the Street in
February for the upcoming episode.

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