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Up and Comer
Forever Altered
Here and Abroad
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Bottom Line

Protecting health care providers and serving patients in the event of a large-scale chemical or biological attack is now a focus of hospitals around the country. Administrators at Johns Hopkins Hospital have already set in motion a number of safety measures. Some associated costs:

$300: Cost per air-purifying respiratory mask, with 1,000 masks being purchased.

$600,000: Cost for four-day stock of antibiotics and antivirals to treat at least 100 victims for threats such as anthrax, plague, viral hemorrhagic fever, and tularemia. Also being purchased: antidotes such as atropine for chemical attacks.

$7 million: What Hopkins Hospital will be spending to prepare for such attacks, an amount likely to increase.

$50 million: How much the Bush administration requested from Congress to assist hospital preparedness.

$10 billion: The amount the American Hospital Association has estimated it will cost to upgrade preparedness for nearly 5,000 hospitals nationwide.
--Compiled by Joanne Cavanaugh Simpson and Jocelyn Kelly '02

Source: An update from Ronald R. Peterson, president of Hopkins Hospital and Health Systems, in the November 1, 2001, ON ALERT newsletter.

Up & Comer

Name: Steffanie Strathdee
Age: 35
Associate professor of
epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Stats: A Canadian, she attended the University of Toronto for her BSc ('88), MSc ('90), and PhD ('94). Lots of exposure in top Canadian publications: McLean's "100 Canadians to Watch" in 1997; Financial Post's "Top 40 Under 40" (one of only five academics) in 1998.

Scouting Report: Jonathan Samet, chair of epidemiology at Public Health: "As we were recruiting for our infectious disease program, I was told that a future 'star' from Canada might be interested. Her promise was clear--quick with words and ideas and committed to public health and to teaching. She radiates energy and enthusiasm."

Day Job: Supervising seven ongoing studies to track, reduce, and expand access to care for infectious diseases such as HIV and viral hepatitis. Several studies involve participants in the Baltimore Needle Exchange program. She's also teaching the next generation: Four students recently had papers accepted by top journals.

Bragging Rights: Brought in $13.5 million in grant money to Hopkins Public Health since June 1998; Young Investigator's Award in Public Health and Epidemiology at the 1996 XI International Conference on AIDS; testified before Congress twice on needle exchange programs; by end of 2001, had hit the 100 mark on papers accepted for publication.

Occupational Hazard: Misuse of her data. Her study of an HIV epidemic among drug users in Vancouver, which occurred despite a needle exchange program, was cited by opponents as justification for halting such programs. Her response: "No single intervention could keep the lid on an epidemic. Needle exchange programs are grossly underfunded."

Working Philosophy: "I read The Corner and decided to move to Baltimore. We don't need to look to the Third World to help the poor. We've got a Third World in our own back yard." --Mary Mashburn


Course: "Islam in Domestic and International Politics"

Instructor: Marius Deeb, Middle East Studies, Nitze School of Advanced International Studies

Course Description: The course focuses on the political dimensions of Islam, including the struggle between the reformist and militant world views. Islamic fundamentalism, with leaders such as Osama bin Laden, is explored as students discuss the role Islam plays in international politics. Students also evaluate the status of women in the conflict between modernity and tradition in Muslim nations. The course covers all the countries of the Middle East and North Africa.

Reading List:

The Dream Palace of the Arabs: A Generation's Odyssey, Fouad Ajami (1999).

Women and Gender in Islam, Leila Ahmed (1992).

Saudi Arabia and the Politics of Dissent, Mamoun Fandy (1999).

America and Political Islam, Fawwaz Gerges (1999).

The Vanished Imam: Musa al-Sadr and the Shi'a of Lebanon, Fouad Ajami (1993).

Between Memory and Desire: The Middle East in a Troubled Age, R. Stephen Humphreys (1999).

The Dual Nature of Islamic Fundamentalism, Johannes Jansen (1997).

Islamism and Secularism in North Africa, John Ruedy (1994).

Forever Altered

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

"During my senior year, in the fall of 1998, I enrolled in a course in French literature and culture, taught by Dr. Stephen G. Nichols. In this class, "Romance et le Merveilleux," we explored several medieval works from selected epics and romances and discussed their existence in the world of fantasy, or, as the French would say, l'irréel.

"Dr. Nichols's lectures were electrifying, his passion for the field contagious. He could practically give an entire lecture without even once having to refer to his notes. He made me want to learn everything I could about the topic at hand.

"A pre-med major, I started spending my free time going to various lectures of visiting French professors, and I began exploring options to live abroad. With his support, I applied for and won a Fulbright grant for a year of study in France.

"The experience convinced me that I wanted to have a career in French international relations. As it is for Dr. Nichols, 'Les Etats-Unis est mon pays, mais La France est mon chemin': The United States is my country, but France is my pathway."

Trenessa Coffey '98 is currently living in Paris, where she is pursuing a PhD in international relations at the American Graduate School, affiliated with Cergy-Pontoise and Université de Paris Sud XI.

Here and Abroad

President George W. Bush has named Shirin Tahir Kheli to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, formed in 1998 to monitor religious freedoms abroad and advise the president and lawmakers on foreign policy responses. Tahir Kheli, director of the South Asia Program, part of the Foreign Policy Institute at Hopkins's Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, says the commission's charter "is a very important one when you look at the whole war on terrorism and its impact on international relations."

... In the aftermath of September 11, the number of Middle Eastern patients coming to Hopkins Hospital dropped off by 40 percent, officials say. (Hopkins doctors see more than 7,000 international patients annually from 120 countries, more than half from the Middle East.) Many expressed concern about anti-Arab backlash in the States and while traveling, says Harris Benny, operations director of International Patient Services. "They are feeling uncertainty, saying 'We would like to be in our home countries and wait it out.' "

... Many international students at Homewood have decided against making trips back home in recent months. For those who do plan to travel, "We are warning them to make sure their visas are valid," says Nick Arrindell, director of the Office of International Student and Scholar Services. "If they are from the Middle East, we are recommending they don't go."

... Although a few Homewood students who are U.S. citizens canceled study abroad trips in the wake of September 11, the total number of those studying overseas is actually up this academic year, from about 92 last year to at least 110 by December, according to Ruth Aranow, senior academic adviser in the Office of Academic Advising. Hopkins students are studying in Spain, France, England, and Israel. "Apparently, they have discussed things with their families," Aranow notes.
--Joanne Cavanaugh Simpson


Nov. 15 and 16, 2001

Fourth-year med students Ellen Edens and Nathan Walk head to Washington University in St. Louis for the first of nine residency program interviews they'll be doing over the next two months. Edens is applying to be a psychiatry resident; Walk, general surgery. The husband/wife team is pursuing a "couples" match. Their goal: to wind up in the same city.

November 15, 3 p.m.
Arrive via car after 14-hour drive to keep expenses down. The psychiatry department picks up hotel tab for first night.

6-9 p.m.: Dinner Out with Psychiatry Residents
Disaster strikes after Edens meets up with a group of residents in the hotel lobby--only to find out they're Ob-Gyn. Eventually she finds the right party and the group heads out to a West End restaurant. This is a chance to find out the "down and dirty"--resident satisfaction, honest day-in-the-life accounts, and, of course, the on-call schedule.

Nov. 16, 6 a.m.: Wake Up and Dress
Edens dons her "interview suit," grabs her map of the hospital, then heads out after a good luck kiss from Walk.

9-9:30 a.m.: First Interview
Edens meets with director of oncologic psychiatry. Nervous at first, she feels at ease after she discovers a shared interest in women's health care. Interview goes well.

9:30-10 a.m.: Interview with Assistant Residency Director
This one feels more formal. Edens must explain her interest in psychiatry and tell where she sees herself in 10 years.

10:30-11 a.m.: Interview with Third-Year Resident
Edens hits it off with the resident, who talks about doing volunteer work at a psychiatry clinic next to a women's shelter.

11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.: Lunch with Residents and Hospital Tour

1:30-2 p.m.: Interview with Outpatient Psychiatrist
A chance to meet with someone who trained at Wash U. and now has a private practice in the St. Louis suburbs.

2:30-2:45 p.m.: Interview with the Chairman
Edens is relieved to find him easy to talk to. A St. Louis native, he clearly takes pride in his city and the department he heads.

3:30-4 p.m.: Interview with Residency Director
Whew! The last interview. The director, aware that Edens is couples matching, probes the pair's collective interest in Wash U.

6:30 p.m.: Reception for General Surgery Residents
Now it's Walk's chance to start the cycle. The couple heads out to a buffet reception at the hospital. Tomorrow he'll embark on his round of interviews while Edens sightsees. One city down (almost). Only eight more to go! --SD


Getting a Handle on Environmental Hazards

America's former and present industrial cities often face daunting environmental woes: landfills that leak chemicals, incinerators spewing air pollution, toxic waste buried at abandoned factories.

Johns Hopkins researchers have won a $5 million-plus federal grant to determine exactly how urban industrial sites become contaminated, and to find better ways to clean them up. The new Center for Hazardous Substances in Urban Environments, a joint five-year project involving researchers from Hopkins, the University of Maryland, University of Connecticut, and other institutions, will study an array of environmental threats to city dwellers, including air pollution, contaminated groundwater, and toxic chemicals generated by landfills, incinerators, and Superfund sites.

The center, directed by Edward Bouwer, professor in the Hopkins Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering, also will focus on community outreach, including technical and scientific assistance to residents hoping to clean up and redevelop abandoned properties known as "brownfields."

Water Aplenty on Ancient Mars

Planetary researchers have reported new evidence that Mars, the dusty red planet, was once likely covered with oceans vast and deep.

Paul Feldman, Hopkins professor of physics and astronomy, and Vladimir Krasnopolsky of Catholic University analyzed data gathered by the orbiting Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer (FUSE), which is operated by Hopkins for NASA. FUSE measured the abundance of molecular hydrogen, a remnant of primordial water on Mars. The researchers then compared those readings to Mars data collected earlier using the Hubble Space Telescope and to measurements of frozen water currently present on Mars.

"We calculate that if the initial quantity of water on Mars could have been evenly distributed across the planet somehow, it would have been equivalent to a global Martian ocean at least three-quarters of a mile deep," says Krasnopolsky. The scientists report their findings in the November 30, 2001, issue of Science.

Their findings that Mars's upper atmosphere contains molecular hydrogen, or H2, confirms earlier theories about the planet's water history. Over the past few billion years, it is believed, Mars's atmosphere has been thinning and the planet losing water because of a variety of factors, including bombardment from asteroids and comets. Through their research, Krasnopolsky and Feldman were able to derive how much Martian water has been lost to space and then estimate the amount of water on Mars shortly after its formation.

Mars is not officially a dry planet, even today. The planet's polar ice caps have been measured by NASA's Mars Global Surveyor probe, and orbiting spacecraft recently have taken photos that seem to show erosion furrows created by the flow of water. Whether such indications of water translate into life remains a Martian mystery, for now. --JCS


Parents (and other interested parties): Conversing with your Hopkins undergrad needn't be an exercise in confusion. A short guide to student lingo, courtesy of the editors of the student News-Letter ...

AcPro: Short for academic probation, this awaits students whose GPA falls below a "C." After two semesters on AcPro, without improvement, you're a goner.

Beast: The beer known as "the nectar of life" to some undergrads. At just $8 a case, Milwaukee's Best is a staple at frat parties and post-exam celebrations.

Breezeway: The walkway between Homewood's upper and lower quads, it's the place passersby get nailed by student organizations handing out fliers and wielding petitions.

HopCops: Campus security officers at Homewood, appreciated by students for being helpful--and ever-present.

MegaBYTES: Equipped with cable TV, couches, and computerized cash registers, this once-dingy campus snack bar (in the AMR dorms) has brought its pizza and burgers into the 21st century.

Occ Civ: Short for Occidental Civilization; other schools opt for the more ped-estrian title "Western Civilization" for this humanities staple.

RoFo: The Royal Farms store, a popular 24-hour convenience store at the corner of 33rd and St. Paul streets. Early a.m. partyers are drawn by the greasy chicken and eclectic snacks. The RoFo in nearby Hampden, with two floors, is even snazzier.

Throat: Short for cutthroat, "throating" is legendary among Hopkins premeds; it refers to sabotaging others' work to improve your own prospects (i.e., stealing a classmate's lab notes.)
--Compiled by Jocelyn Kelly '02


Join thousands of other "site" seers in chronicling the discoveries made by a team of Johns Hopkins archaeologists at a dig in Luxor, Egypt. The monthlong excavation in January, led by Betsy Bryan, chair of the Near Eastern Studies department, focused on a 10-acre site surrounding the Temple of Karnak. The goal: to determine what the temple looked like in its earlier form--between 1500 and 1200 B.C.- -and to gain further insight into the lives of ancient Egyptians.
Bryan and her team of 10 graduate students provided daily cyber updates in the form of photos, letters from the field, aerial views of the site, and background information on the temple's era, the Early New Kingdom. This is the second year her group has explored the area surrounding the temple. Last year's dig garnered 17,000 hits on the Near Eastern Studies department Web site. --SD


Each Friday, the world over, members past and present of the Hopkins Hospital Osler house staff search their closets for navy neckwear dappled with classic white shields. The shields bear the motto aequanimitas, a word summoning, for the insider, the legacy of Sir William Osler and the intensity of a residency at Hopkins Medicine.

Despite the historical reference to Osler, one of four original medical faculty at Hopkins and the man who instituted residency training in America, the tradition of wearing matching ties on Fridays dates back just 25 years. John F. Beary III, who served as a flight surgeon for the Air Force One crew before returning to Hopkins to complete his residency in 1977, understood what a uniform could do for esprit de corps. So he broached the idea of a tie as a signifier for residents to Victor McKusick, then chair of the Department of Medicine and head of the Osler house staff training program.

McKusick liked the idea; the pair decided the tie's design should relate to Osler, who founded the house staff program in 1889 and whose principle of learning at the bedside of patients infuses resident training. They settled on aequanimitas, Latin for equanimity and the title of a famous speech delivered by Osler.

"In the physician or surgeon no quality takes rank with imperturbability ... coolness and presence of mind under all circumstances, calmness amid storm, clearness of judgment in moments of grave peril," said Osler, expounding on the concept to University of Pennsylvania med school graduates. "The physician ... who betrays indecision and worry ... loses rapidly the confidence of his patients."

For Beary, now medical director for arthritis research at Procter & Gamble Pharmaceuticals, Osler's words resonated in his Hopkins training. "I was extremely impressed by the legacy that Dr. Osler still projected onto the medical service. It was summarized by the dedication to patient care and communications," he says, adding that under McKusick, "You learned your medicine, and you learned an appreciation for the heritage of medicine."

Each June at orientation, new Osler house staff residents are introduced to Osler and aequanimitas and given an Osler tie. The tie comes in four incarnations: necktie and scarf--the most popular--and a bowtie and women's floppy tie. (The tie has spawned a trend, says McKusick; other departments have devised their own.)

The Osler tie is a private edition, but McKusick remembers one instance when it could be had by any observant shopper: "A resident was looking through the ties at Jos. A. Banks and he was shocked to discover an Osler tie there." Banks, the clothier that designed and first produced the tie for Hopkins, apparently had a box left over after delivering the order. "I raised the roof about that," says McKusick, and the exclusivity of the tie was preserved.

In its quiet way, the tie gets noticed. "Once an Oslerian, always an Oslerian," says McKusick. "People tell me they've run into people in out-of-the-way parts of the world wearing the tie. They know immediately where they've been." --MM
[Osler neckwear photos by Tamara Hoffer]

Vital Signs

A New Link to Schizophrenia?

Pregnant women infected with genital herpes appear to be at increased risk of bearing children who develop schizophrenia and other mental disorders, according to a new study by researchers at Johns Hopkins and six other research centers.

Previous studies had suggested that infections during pregnancy--such as measles or flu--could make children more prone to schizophrenia later in life, but these studies were based on the women's recollections of whether they had been infected. The new correlative study is the first to compare direct lab evidence--blood samples drawn from pregnant women involved with a large-scale nationwide health study between 1959 and 1966--with later psychosis in children.

"Whether the herpes infection is a direct cause [of future mental illness] or just a factor is still unknown," says Robert Yolken, a neurovirologist at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center and coauthor of the study, which appeared in the November issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Tracking Stem Cells With MRI

Using tiny rust-containing spheres to tag cells, scientists from Hopkins and elsewhere have used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to successfully track stem cells in a living rat's brain.

"Until now, tissue had to be removed from an animal to see where stem cells were going, so this gives us an important tool," says Hopkins href="">radiologist Jeff Bulte, author of the study that appeared in the December issue of Nature Biotechnology. "Tracking stem cells non-invasively will likely be required as research advances, although human studies are still some time away."

Scientists mixed the magnetic spheres, made of iron oxide, with stem cells that make the neuronal covering of the brain, then injected the iron-laden cells into the brains of rats that lack the neuronal covering. Using MRI, the researchers were able to track the transplanted cells and watch as they made new neuronal tissue in the brain. The next step for Bulte: injecting--and observing--the magnetic tags in the circulatory system.

The Robot That Fills Prescriptions

The scene may seem futuristic, but it's actually unfolding each day in the Hopkins Hospital's new central pharmacy, where RxOBOT is filling prescriptions. Prescription in hand (figuratively), RxOBOT scans a wall stocked with hundreds of bar-coded drugs, selects the correct drug at the correct dosage, then places it on a tray destined for a patient's room. One down, only hundreds more to go. (The pharmacy fills 12,000 doses a day for 800 patients.) And RxOBOT automatically restocks his own supplies.

The newly upgraded central pharmacy, more than double its former size, consolidated several operations. The goal, says pharmacy director Daniel Ashby: to minimize errors, increase efficiency, and improve service to patients and nurses. A positive air pressure clean room now provides a dust-free area for (human) pharmacists to prepare medicines free of contamination.
--Compiled by SD

Return to February 2002 Table of Contents

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