Johns Hopkins Gazette: July 24, 1995


Medical News

Johns Hopkins Hospital 
ranked No. 1 in the U.S.

     For the fifth consecutive year, Johns Hopkins Hospital tops
the "honor roll" of hospitals in U.S. News & World Report's guide
to "America's Best Hospitals." The Mayo Clinic, Massachusetts
General Hospital, the UCLA Medical Center and Duke University
Medical Center were ranked second through fifth, respectively.
The results of the magazine's annual ranking were published in
the July 24 issue.

     The honor roll is based on total points, with each hospital
ranking within the top 10 of one of 16 medical specialties
earning from one to 10 points. To make the honor roll, a hospital
had to score a 10 in at least three of the 16 areas.

     Rankings were determined by a national research firm, which
used a confidential questionnaire sent to a geographic cross
section of 150 board-certified physicians in each of the
specialties. Physicians were asked to name the five hospitals--
among the 1,631 tertiary care centers nationally--they consider
the best in each of the 16 categories of patient care.

     Hopkins ranked first in ophthalmology, urology,
otolaryngology and gynecology.   

     "This ranking is a wonderful affirmation by our peers around
the nation of the work that you do on behalf of the people who
matter most--our patients," said hospital president and CEO James
A. Block in a letter to employees.

Seeking out cancer genes 
in 'haystack' of DNA 

     Scott E. Kern, an assistant professor of oncology and
pathology at the School of Medicine, has been leading a team of
researchers on a search similar to looking for a needle in a
haystack. But the needle they seek is a mutation of a gene linked
to certain types of cancer, and the haystack is the complex
linkages of DNA.    

     "Currently this approach [which narrows investigators'
search for a specific gene to a small area of DNA] is used at
only a few medical centers," Kern said, "but it is so promising
for searching genetic regions that it may be the technology of
the future." 

     The findings were recently published in the Proceedings of
the National Academy of Sciences.

     In the Hopkins study, the technique--representational
difference analysis--was used for the first time to search for
the loss of part of a gene linked to pancreatic and possibly
breast cancer. Investigators hope to use RDA to develop a test to
screen members of families with a history of cancer, so they can
be monitored throughout their lives, said co-researcher Charles
J. Yeo, an associate professor of surgery.

Women, nonsmokers 
make healthiest homes

     A recent study by researchers at the School of Public Health
found that women in households where no one smokes tend to live a
healthier life and possibly experience lower rates of chronic

     The study results, published in the July 15 issue of the
American Journal of Epidemiology, looked at the dietary habits of
nonsmoking women living with smokers and nonsmokers.

     In nonsmoking homes, the study found that the women were
more likely to abstain from alcohol, take vitamin supplements and
consume higher levels of vitamin A, C and calcium in their daily
diet. In homes in which the spouse smoked, women were found to be
less educated, tended to live in urban areas and had health
habits, such as poor nutrition, that could increase their risk of
lung cancer.

     "This study indicates that we need to look at passive
smoking and diet together, rather than trying to judge the
influence of one factor alone," said principal investigator
Genevieve Matanoski, a professor of epidemiology.

Other News

Deckers give $1 million 
to Continuing Studies

     Alonzo G. Decker Jr., former chairman and chief executive
officer of Black & Decker Corp., and his wife, Virginia, have
pledged $1 million to the Johns Hopkins Initiative.

     Their gift to the $900 million fund-raising effort of the
university and the Johns Hopkins Health System establishes the
Alonzo and Virginia Decker Venture Capital Fund in the School of
Continuing Studies.

     The fund will provide seed money to launch new programs in
the school, primarily for adult, part-time students. Once a
program becomes self-supporting, it will repay the seed money to
the fund, providing support for other new initiatives.

     The school's three divisions--Education, Liberal Arts, and
Business and Management--already are planning projects that will
receive Decker Fund support. Among the first are expected to be a
project to promote career-long teacher development and education;
a program to prepare health professionals in the economic,
social, psychological and legal issues associated with aging; and
a community leadership program to assist ministers in urban
African American communities to better serve their congregations.

     "It's especially fitting to name the Venture Capital Fund in
the Deckers' honor, as they have long been strong and
enthusiastic supporters of our school's mission," said Stanley C.
Gabor, dean of the School of Continuing Studies. "The Decker Fund
is critically important to our ability to identify and respond to
the educational needs of adults in the Baltimore-Washington
region. We couldn't be more proud than to have the name of Decker
permanently associated with our school."

     Alonzo Decker, a trustee emeritus of Johns Hopkins
University, has served on the university's board since 1968.
During the mid-1970s, he chaired the Hopkins Hundreds campaign,
and, in the late 1980s, he was honorary chairman of the Campaign
for Johns Hopkins. Both were very successful. Decker was awarded
the university Milton S. Eisenhower Medal for Distinguished
Service in 1983.

     With the Decker gift, commitments to the Johns Hopkins
Initiative have reached $379 million, 42 percent of the
institutions' overall goal for a campaign scheduled to continue
until 2000. Commitments for endowment and capital needs--the
primary focus of the campaign--stand at $259 million, 49 percent
of the target of $525 million.

Physicians learning 
the business of medicine

     Last month, 25 Hopkins physicians became the first class to
graduate from the Executive Medical-Business Graduate Certificate
program in ceremonies at the Turner Building. The program is
offered jointly by the Office of Continuing Medical Education in
the School of Medicine and the Division of Business and
Management in the School of Continuing Studies.    

     "Today, the role of the physician extends beyond the scope
of only practicing medicine and may include everything from
managing patient care to overseeing multimillion dollar
department budgets, grants and large staffs," said Pat Wafer,
senior program director in the School of Continuing Studies. "The
Business of Medicine certificate provided the first class of
graduates with a comprehensive foundation for applying basic
business principles to the full range of issues in health care

     This fall, the program will expand to include physicians
throughout the Washington/Baltimore region.

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