Johns Hopkins Gazette: December 16, 1996 Form

In Brief

University Ombuds Office closes; services retained

The university's Ombuds Office has closed temporarily, according to human resources vice president Audrey Smith. The office closed following the departure of its director, Kathy Baker. Smith said Baker's leaving has given the Human Resources staff the opportunity to assess the viability of that office, which was created July 1, 1988.

Faculty, staff and students who contact the Ombuds Office will be informed of the office's closing by a staff member, and some baseline information will be taken regarding the caller's concern. Richard Kilberg, senior director of the Office of Human Services, then will determine how that caller's inquiry should best be handled.

Students contacting the Ombuds Office for the first time will be referred to the Student Counseling Center for a confidential assessment. First-time faculty and staff callers will be referred to the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program for a similar evaluation. If issues presented require further intervention, Kilberg said, he will work with the student, faculty or staff member to explore alternative ways of resolving the problem.

Over the coming months, university administrators will examine mechanisms that will best provide needed services to faculty, staff and students.

Questions for the ombuds should be directed to (410)516-5300.

MPT to feature APL's VT-fuze development

Local history will be featured this month on Maryland Public Television in an hourlong special on the VT-fuze developed by the Applied Physics Laboratory during World War II. The program is scheduled to air at 11 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 17, on channels 22 and 67.

"The Deadly Fuze" recounts the crash program undertaken to build a variable-time fuze that would fit in the end of a projectile and bring down airplanes by exploding the shell in close proximity to the plane. The fuze was credited with ending the devastating buzz-bomb attacks on London and is said to be one of the major factors in bringing the Second World War to a close. The urgent need for the VT-fuze led to APL's formation in 1942.

Temporary road closing announced

The Office of Plant Operations will close the roadway between Whitehead Hall and the New Engineering Building to through traffic from Dec. 16 through 20 in order to accommodate a crane. Access to Maryland and Krieger halls and the Milton S. Eisenhower Library will be maintained from the roadway behind Whitehead Hall.

JHMI Parking Office's holiday schedule

The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions Parking Office will close at noon on Christmas Eve, Tuesday, Dec. 24, and will reopen on Thursday, Dec. 26. It will again close at noon on New Year's Eve, Tuesday, Dec. 31, and will reopen on Thursday, Jan. 2.

The parking office can be reached by calling (410)955-8803.

Medical News

Pancreatic cancer patients could gain longevity

Hopkins researchers have found that pancreatic cancer patients may live longer if they undergo chemotherapy and radiation after surgery, and that more people than previously thought may have an inherited risk for pancreatic cancer.

The findings provide further insight into the nation's fifth-leading cancer killer and may lead to earlier diagnosis and more effective treatment, say the Hopkins researchers.

Results of the two studies, which were supported by the National Institutes of Health, were presented recently at the annual meeting of the Southern Surgical Association and are published in the December issue of Cancer Research.

Despite the large number of inherited mutations, none of the families involved had a history of pancreatic cancer. That may be, in part, because the disease usually strikes late in life and the cancer never developed because the person died of other causes, said Scott E. Kern, the study's senior author and an assistant professor of oncology.

"A familial inheritance was thought to be uncommon, but we found an unusually high rate," said Kern. "Our results suggest that many people don't think they have a familial susceptibility, but yet they do."

Several genes and mutations have been identified thus far in pancreatic cancer, but Kern says several more may be involved and that actual rate of inherited susceptibility is even higher.

"This is an important first step toward developing a method for early diagnosis," he said. "Early screening is important, but we're still learning what genes and mutations are involved in pancreatic cancer."

U.S. birth rate continues to slow

The School of Public Health released its "1995 Annual Summary of Vital Statistics" last week, which indicated that while the infant mortality rate in the United States continues to decline, the United States ranks well behind other industrialized nations.

"The reasons for the poor ranking of the United States in infant mortality are still at the core of great political concern and intense debate," said lead author Bernard Guyer, the chairman of Maternal and Child Health. "It cannot be denied that U.S. policies regarding parental income benefits or social supports for families with children are very limited compared to other industrialized countries."

The annual summary was reported in the Dec. 10 issue of Pediatrics.

Among the report's other findings: the birth rate for teen-agers is down 8 percent; childbearing by unwed mothers is down 4 percent; Caesarean section births are down 7 percent; the number of divorces declined by 2 percent; multiple births are up 2 percent from 1993--and up 33 percent since 1980--and the life expectancy for black males is up one-half a percent, to 65.4 years.

Bayview, Nursing receive gift for geriatric research

An anonymous donor has made a $1 million gift for research in geriatric medicine and nursing to the Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology at the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center and the School of Nursing. The gift, which supports the Fund for Geriatric Medicine and Nursing, will be used over a two- to five-year period.

The funds will be used to start an interdisciplinary program in the rheumatological problems of the elderly, recruit a faculty member at the School of Nursing to initiate interdisciplinary research in geriatrics, and provide five nurses and physicians from Hopkins with pilot grants to test innovative ideas in geriatric research.

The new efforts will be administered by Sue K. Donaldson, dean of the School of Nursing, and John R. Burton, director of Geriatric Medicine at Bayview.

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