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Forever Altered
Up and Comer
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Bottom Line

$597 million: The amount secondhand smoke cost Marylanders last year, according to a new study from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

We've known since the 1970s that exposure to secondhand smoke increases the risk of certain diseases, says health economist Hugh Waters, an assistant professor in the Bloomberg School's Department of International Health. "It almost seems trivial to put the effects on people's lives into economic terms, but we want to know what the costs are so we can put the argument [whether or not smoking should be allowed in public spaces in Maryland] into perspective. So we decided to put a price tag on it."

In a study on behalf of the American Cancer Society, Waters estimated the costs of conditions linked to secondhand smoke: lung cancer, heart attacks, and strokes in adults, as well as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), ear infections, and asthma in children. According to the study, in 2005, an estimated 1,577 adults and 24 children died as a result of secondhand smoke in Maryland. Waters calculated the cost of adult illnesses and deaths to be $523.8 million and those of children to be $73.8 million.

"This is the first study to estimate the cost of secondhand smoke in a state," he says. Although $597 million is a lot of money, the true cost of secondhand smoke is likely to be much higher, Waters adds. The study doesn't include indirect costs associated with losing time from work or other activities due to illness and medical care.

The findings were presented at a February hearing before the Maryland House of Delegates, which is considering legislation to ban smoking in all restaurants and bars. To date, 11 states and numerous municipalities have already taken that step. — MB

Want to know what Johns Hopkins undergraduate admissions officers drink when they review applications from prospective students? (Hot chocolate or water.) Curious about the best place to find free food on campus? (Friday Film Series in Mudd Hall.) Yearning to know whether Hopkins is as competitive and cutthroat as everyone says? (It isn't.)

Johns Hopkins Interactive is the place to go for the skinny on admissions to Hopkins — and to find out what it's like here once you actually get in. The site, which went up last semester, combines message boards where prospective students, parents, and incoming freshmen can talk about what's on their minds with blogs from current students and admissions staff.

Bloggers talk about everything from the weather ("Who would have thought the weather would have been the most enticing temptation/lure-away-from-studies this weekend?" writes undergrad Stefanie B.) to their latest exams ("ChemE Thermo is supposedly one of the most difficult classes on campus, the exam was very fair, and it is a relief that it is over. Our professor really tries to make the class enjoyable," says Toni-Marie F.).

The Office of Undergraduate Admissions created Hopkins Interactive so people could see the university from the students' perspective. According to admissions staff, it is part of an emerging trend in university admissions, where schools are using blogs to personalize electronic content and expand upon the information available in a printed guidebook.

The School of Nursing's student blog site went up after Thanksgiving. Peabody may be adding one soon. — MB


Voracious vortices

Large vortices like hurricanes require tremendous energy to sustain themselves, and scientists long have been stumped as to where they get that energy. Now researchers at Johns Hopkins and Los Alamos National Laboratory have discovered that it's a vortex-eats-vortex world out there. Large vortices like hurricanes prey on smaller vortices, encountering them, stretching them out, siphoning most of their energy, then more or less discarding them. Co-author Shiyi Chen, Hopkins professor of mechanical engineering, noted that the finding should improve understanding of how hurricanes and large oceanic eddies form. "It should also help us to create better computer models to make more accurate predictions about these conditions," he says. The paper appeared in the March 3 edition of the journal Physical Review Letters.

New moons for Pluto

A team led by Hopkins astronomer Hal Weaver of the Applied Physics Laboratory announced in February their discovery that Pluto has a bigger orbiting family than previously known. Weaver and his associates used two sets of observations from the Hubble Space Telescope to determine that Pluto has two small moons orbiting it, in addition to Charon, the planet's unusually large companion. Then, in March they found that the two new moons are essentially the same color as Charon, suggesting that they were all formed in the same cataclysmic impact event. Long-range imaging instruments on New Horizons, the APL-built spacecraft now on its way to Pluto, eventually should afford astronomers a detailed look at all the moons. The first announcement appeared in the February 23 issue of Nature. The second was published in an International Astronomical Union Circular (No. 8686). — DK

Forever Altered

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

"In fall 1962, my freshman year, I met the Hopkins chaplain, Rev. Chester Wickwire. A group I belonged to, Students for a Democratic Society, met near his office, and he understood exactly where we were coming from on the issues of the day — not Vietnam, but racial segregation."

"I saw Chester one time from the other side of a jail cell. It was winter 1963, the first time I was arrested during a protest. There were 1,000 of us or more — students from Hopkins, Morgan State, and Loyola — who had gone to a segregated movie theater. We each had our $2, and we said that we wanted to sit downstairs with our friends, all of us together. When they asked us to leave the theater, we were polite but refused. We were arrested for trespassing and hauled downtown to the Baltimore City Jail. Chester and the Morgan State chaplain visited us. I think he got a kick out of it. I know I sure did.

"You have to understand. I was a middle-class Jewish kid. I had not been sent to college to be arrested. Very few of us had parents who supported what we were doing. But Chester made it very clear he was damn proud of us at a time when we all worried whether we were doing the right thing.

"He was more than a teacher in the traditional college sense. He was a teacher in the way that we feel a rabbi or Jesus or the Dali Lama is a teacher, someone who teaches by example. Chester didn't insist that every one of us must take political action, he just appreciated that we did."

Adam Kline, A&S '68, is a Washington state senator and attorney specializing in personal injury and civil rights law.

Up & Comer

Name: Cheryl Dennison
Age: 36

Position: Assistant professor, Johns Hopkins School of Nursing

Stats: BSN '91, Texas Woman's University; MSN '97, PhD '01, Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing

Scouting report: "Cheryl is one of those rare people who integrates theory, research methods, and data analysis with a passion for the clinical problem being addressed to improve patient care and outcomes," says Martha Hill, dean of the School of Nursing. "She naturally builds multiprofessional teams, and while she works hard, she has a great deal of fun doing it all."

Research: Focuses on improving the quality of patient care — from inpatient, to outpatient, to community settings. "Most of my research is cardiovascular-related, including hypertension and heart failure. I'm interested in a multi-faceted approach that focuses on reducing system-level barriers and improving provider adherence to guidelines, as well as patient self- management of disease."

What needs fixing: Chronic conditions are not resolved before the patient leaves the hospital. "We should be working toward a chronic care model" — which will involve "improving communication and coordination across the entire continuum of care." With heart failure patients, that means equipping them to follow a complex regimen (medication, change in diet, increased exercise) and communicating with their outpatient provider once they've been discharged. "Otherwise, they'll be re-admitted to the hospital again and again."

Reason for hope: "This is a great time to be a nurse. It's increasingly recognized that nurses have a unique understanding of health care systems, and provider and patient issues. We're leading efforts to solve challenging problems — to make a difference in patient outcomes."

Vital Signs

Drills show defects in pediatric care
A study of mock pediatric trauma cases revealed serious problems in how hospital emergency departments (EDs) stabilize patients. Researchers from
Hopkins' Children's Center and the Duke University Medical Center staged simulated pediatric traumas at one-third of North Carolina's EDs, using life-sized mannequins. No ED performed without mistakes, and though the researchers noted that performance during drills does not always reflect performance in actual emergencies, many of the mistakes were ominous. For example, 34 of the 35 EDs failed to properly administer dextrose in simulations of hypoglycemic shock. Thirty-four failed to warm hypothermic patients. Elizabeth A. Hunt, Hopkins assistant professor of anesthesiology and critical care, and lead author of the study, pointed out that compared to adult cases, pediatric ED cases are more complex yet require quicker responses, which may account for more frequent errors. The study, published in the March issue of Pediatrics, noted that trauma "is the leading cause of death in children."

Low-dose liver cancer protection
A synthetic compound derived from oleanolic acid has proven effective at preventing liver cancer in laboratory mice. A research team from the Bloomberg School of Public Health and Dartmouth Medical School found that the compound CDDO — Im prevented pre-cancerous lesions at a dosage 100 times lower than that of other compounds known to prevent cancer in humans. Thomas Kensler, a Bloomberg professor of environmental health sciences, noted that the compound could provide protection against other diseases linked to inflammation, such as cancers of the liver, colon, prostate, and gastric system, as well as asthma, emphysema, and forms of neurodegeneration. The findings were featured on the cover of the February 16 issue of Cancer Research. — DK

Here and Abroad

In March, four Krieger School mathematics professors — Steven Zucker, Jean-Pierre Meyer, Jack Morava, and W. Stephen Wilson — flew to Tokyo to receive the Mathematical Society of Japan's Seki-Takakazu Prize on behalf of the Japan-U.S. Mathematics Institute (JAMI). Based at Hopkins, JAMI was founded in 1988 to increase cooperation in mathematical research. The Seki- Takakazu Prize, which honors people or organizations that support and encourage mathematics in Japan, has only been given twice before in its 11-year history. "This is a great honor," says Zucker, JAMI's director. "It shows the level of esteem with which Japanese mathematicians hold JAMI."

... Mary Habeck, associate professor of strategic studies at Hopkins' Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, has published Knowing the Enemy (Yale University Press, 2006), which explores the inner logic of al Qaeda and other jihadists. Habeck argues that to defeat these terrorist groups, the United States must understand the religious motivations — often plainly stated, but ignored — behind their violent acts.

... The Bloomberg School of Public Health's David Celentano received an honorary doctorate in health sciences from Chiang Mai University in northern Thailand. The degree was presented by Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn in January. Celentano, professor and deputy chair of the Department of Epidemiology, and colleagues have spent 15 years creating a collaborative research program with Chiang Mai's Research Institute of Health Science. The program has become a key scientific international resource for HIV/AIDS research.


Johns Hopkins' Homewood campus is a showplace for all sorts of fashion statements — five-inch heels and $200 jeans, flip-flops worn as snow boots and oversized starlet sunglasses.

Now there's a new hot accessory at Homewood: a bright yellow canvas bag with the university's name in a red square. Visitors use it to tote admissions materials, maps, and guides.

It carries a mission with it, too. When faculty, staff, and students spot a visitor carrying one of these distinctive totes, they are to take it as an invitation to offer directions, a greeting, or simply a smile.

The "Spot a Bag . . . make a friend" campaign was designed to make the Homewood campus more collegial and to attract more applicants in the process. A recent admissions marketing positioning study found that many prospective students ultimately chose not to attend Hopkins because they thought it wasn't friendly.

"When they only spend an hour and a half on your campus, people have these very superficial reactions," explains William Conley, dean of enrollment and academic services. "We found that their experiences seemed to be more about brick and mortar than community. This is a beautiful campus, but at the end of the day you want to like the feel of this place."

The bags are just part of a marketing campaign aimed at helping the Hopkins community connect with visitors, Conley says. Other efforts include a revamped admissions Web site that features pictures of Hopkins people, and campus tours in which student guides focus on the many positive changes to the Homewood campus.

More friendliness is on the way. Welcome banners have been hung inside Garland Hall and outside Levering, and "Ask me anything!" lapel buttons will be the new must-have accessory for admissions staff. — MB


Course: Science vs. Intelligent Design — The Current Debate

Instructor: Dr. Peter Achinstein, professor of philosophy, founder and co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for History and Philosophy of Science.

Course description: What is the theory of Intelligent Design? How do its proponents argue for it? Is the theory compatible with standard scientific doctrines such as Darwin's theory of evolution and the "Big Bang" theory of the origin of the universe? What is scientific method, and is the theory of Intelligent Design incompatible with it? The course will begin with different classical views about scientific method as expressed by three scientists, all of whom invoked God as the Intelligent Designer: René Descartes in the 17th century, Isaac Newton in the early 18th century, and William Whewell in the mid-19th century. Discussion will then turn to Darwin's theory of natural selection and to views of contemporary Intelligent Design theorists and their critics. Finally, the class will examine two positions about science different from the three discussed at the beginning: the instrumentalism of Pierre Duhem in the early 20th century and the "anarchism" of Paul Feyerabend in the mid-20th century. How does Intelligent Design fare under these views of science?

Selected readings:
Intelligent Design, Creationism, and Its Critics: Philosophical, Theological, and Scientific Perspectives, ed. Robert Pennock (2001).

The Origin of Species, Charles Darwin (1859).

Science Rules: A Historical Introduction to Scientific Methods, ed. Peter Achinstein (2004).


Undergrads on the Trail to Discovery
More than a dozen students and alumni from the
Krieger School are studying abroad this year on Fulbright Scholar grants. Created in 1946, the Fulbright Program — which aims to increase mutual understanding between the United States and other countries — awards approximately 1,000 grants annually.Here's a brief look at the research of some current scholars:

David Schrag has an interest in how Germany has adjusted to changes since reunification in 1989. His fieldwork in East Berlin has focused specifically on the topic of education reform and citizenship. "Germany has been formally unified in a political and economic sense since 1990, but a lot of differences remain and continue to be categorized along the lines of East and West," says Schrag, a fifth-year PhD candidate in anthropology. "There are a significant number of people who have the experience of being de facto second-class citizens." Schrag has been visiting schools and talking to high school students. He has also interviewed current teachers who taught in the former German Democratic Republic, having them compare school systems of the past and present.

Mary Ashburn Miller first started thinking about the violence of the French Revolution in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. "I was interested in how people tried to explain events that were, in many ways, inexplicable," says Miller, a fourth-year PhD candidate in European history who is conducting her research in Paris. "The Revolution was a moment of such amazing hope and opportunity, yet it also gave rise to mass imprisonment, execution, and public bloodshed on a shocking scale." Her research began as a question of how people grappled with the juxtaposition of hope and horror and how violence was being justified to the public at large, through festivals, speeches, and plays. — MB Return to April 2006 Table of Contents

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