Matters of note from around Johns Hopkins
In a dance studio deep in the basement of the Peabody Institute, Martha Clarke and Carol Bartlett talk shop. The two women occupy folding chairs next to a projector that fills the back wall with running feet, naked torsos, a yellow bridge, and the face of Angel Lam, a Peabody graduate student and composer.
"Midnight blue with embroidery," suggests Clarke, who
sports red-framed glasses and dark red lipstick. She and
Bartlett are debating costume colors for "Midnight Run,"
one of four original works being produced to celebrate
Peabody's 150th anniversary.
|Angel Lam's "Midnight Run" uses dance, recorded narration, and video footage to bring a childhood memory to the stage.||
Clarke, world-renowned choreographer and director and 1990 recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, may be Peabody's most famous alum. Raised in Baltimore's Greenspring Valley, she studied dance at Peabody Preparatory from kindergarten through high school, then left Baltimore to attend Juilliard. Forty years later, Clarke has returned to Peabody as an artist-in-residence to help Bartlett and three other choreographers put together New Work, a series of four collaborative pieces that will premiere April 14 and 15. Peabody's largest collaborative effort to date, New Work incorporates dancers, singers, actors, visual artists, composers, and choreographers from five area schools: the Peabody Institute, Towson University, the Washington School of Ballet, Goucher College, and Baltimore School for the Arts.
A mentor for the 28 artists involved, Clarke teaches them how to merge their talents and art forms. As a founding member of the Pilobolus Dance Theatre, she knows that collaboration can be an intense, difficult process. "It takes a confidence to let go and to just be able to explore things without feeling possessive about one's own ideas," says Clarke. And like marriages, not all collaborative efforts end happily. "Some work and some don't," she says.
Bartlett, who has been Peabody Dance's artistic director
for 17 years, says the work is both elating and exhausting.
"It's sacrificial to some extent," she says. "This is about
grassroots — starting with a blank page and giving a
tremendous amount of yourself to move forward." Whether
you're a novice or a veteran, she adds, "the same tensions,
the same joys, the same frustrations are always there."
|Martha Clarke, a Peabody Prep alumna who has returned to Baltimore to guide students through the process. "I'm really a cobbler," she says, "nails in my mouth, tacking my shoes."||
Clarke and Bartlett both emphasize that the process is far
more important than the product — and that New
represents a shift in Peabody's approach. "I don't think
many schools think about collaboration as a tool to be
learned," Clarke says. If the project is successful, it
could form the basis for a more permanent program focused
on the collaborative process, though it would take support
from other departments at Peabody to implement, says
For now, the two women have their hands full. Bartlett is choreographer for "Midnight Run," based on a memory from Angel Lam's childhood in Hong Kong — a woman in a yellow dress running barefoot through the streets at midnight. "I saw this image when I was 8 years old," recounts Lam, "and it stayed with me growing up." She told her story to Bartlett, who immediately saw the potential. In "Midnight Run," Lam tells her story through recorded narrative and her music. Bartlett adds video footage and dance — her own poetic interpretation.
At press time, Clarke had spent three weekends mentoring at Peabody and had plans to be in Baltimore once more before this month's performance. Each visit, she offers a fresh perspective, feedback, and unwavering good humor. "I think Martha above anybody is the person who has the vision as far as crossing disciplines," says Bartlett.
Clarke is more modest. "I'm really a cobbler, nails in my
mouth, tacking my shoes."
Offering wise counsel to Washington
Photo by Kaveh Sardari
"It is an honor to be asked to serve one's country at
any time, but particularly during wartime. I hope I can do
— Eliot Cohen, director of the Strategic Studies Program at Johns Hopkins' Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, who this month will become counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Though Cohen supported the war in Iraq, he has been critical of the administration's handling of the postwar period. After accepting the position in March, Cohen told The Washington Post that despite some of their differences, he would offer Rice "unvarnished and discreet advice." "I already have teeth marks on my tongue," he said. — Catherine Pierre
|From top: Dr. Robert (Bob) E. Green, Jessica Brociek, Christopher (Chris) Vee, and Porsche Lacewell-Davis||
In 2006, Jay VanRensselaer wanted the undergraduates in his
introductory photography course to experience studio
portraiture. So he set up a temporary studio in the Mattin
Center on the Homewood campus and had the students rig the
lighting and shoot pictures of one another. "It was kind of
a live demonstration," says VanRensselaer, director of
Homewood Imaging and Photographic Services. "The kids
started having fun mugging for the camera."
Later, inspired by Andy Warhol's amusement park photo booth photos, he assembled 44 of the pictures in strips and created photo booth #1, a single piece displayed at the 2006 Homewood Arts Workshop Faculty Art Show. Little did he know what he'd started.
Paula Burger, dean of undergraduate education, liked the piece. "I thought everyone looked serious and engaged, like the kind of people you'd want to go to school with," she says. She was also struck by the extraordinary diversity from a small class of less than a dozen students.
"We sat down a couple of weeks later," VanRensselaer says, "and came up with the idea of photographing people from all across the university." Thus was born "Faces of Hopkins," a project that so far has gathered portraits of more than 500 people, including students, faculty, staff, maintenance and household workers, and several senior administrators.
All last month, VanRensselaer brought his portable studio to various locations and invited people to sit for portraits. He encouraged friends and colleagues to come together and take each other's pictures. People turned up in droves. Some brought props. Some were sober — this is Hopkins, after all. Many clowned for the camera. President William R. Brody wagged his fingers and stuck out his tongue. "He was laughing his head off," VanRensselaer says. "How many people see that side of him?"
The photos will be on display during the annual Hopkins Spring Fair, April 13-15, in the pedestrian tunnel that runs along Gilman Hall. "Hopkins is a wonderful place," VanRensselaer says. "The students are terrific, the faculty are terrific. I've worked here 20 years, and this is one of the reasons I've stayed around, because things like this come up."
To keep the project manageable and assemble it in time for Spring Fair, VanRensselaer had to limit its scope to portraits from the Homewood campus. "But I'd love to do all the other campuses," he says. "It puts a human face on Hopkins. Ordinarily you see the people who make the news, you see our administrators, and you see our faculty. But there's everybody else behind the scenes whom you never see. A lot of these pictures speak to who these people are." — Dale Keiger
Each year, scores of new residents come to Johns Hopkins
Hospital to study neurology, pediatrics, surgery, medicine,
and a host of other specialties. They stitch wounds,
examine broken bones, and clamp arteries, learning through
observation and supervised practice. Until this year,
though, a key component of their training was missing:
To fill this gap, the
Berman Institute of Bioethics
established the Program on Ethics in Clinical Practice. The
teaching faculty — Joe Carrese, Maggie Moon, and Mark
Hughes — offer the residents practical tools to
resolve the ethical dilemmas that can arise when doctors
and patients interact. "You can actually use logical
analysis to help sort out an ethics case in the same way
that you use logical analysis to sort out a diagnosis,"
explains Moon, an assistant professor of pediatrics.
"I think we encounter ethical issues on some level almost every day," says Laura Landgraf, a first-year resident in pediatrics. Often the issue is a conflict between the patient's wishes and the doctor's medical advice. On occasion, physicians are torn between respecting a patient's confidentiality and protecting someone else's health. Earlier this year, for example, the pediatric residents worked with an HIV-positive teenager who admitted to keeping his status a secret. "There was a person visiting him who the residents felt convinced was his sexual partner," says Moon. They felt a "moral obligation" to this woman, she says. The rulebooks can sometimes provide answers, but in this case the law was ambiguous: The doctors were allowed to break confidentiality, but not obligated. These gray areas, says Landgraf, are where their ethics training comes into play.
Without formal training, Moon says, residents tend to avoid the tough conversations. "If there's no teaching, then they're left to some sort of default position." Residents tend to pick up attitudes about ethics from attending doctors. Though some faculty have substantial ethics training and do a good job of transferring that knowledge, others lack expertise or "imply that it's not worth addressing," says Moon.
"It's a teaching moment that gets lost," Carrese adds.
Currently, the clinical ethics program is only available to residents in pediatrics and surgery, but the institute plans to expand the program this fall to include the residents in medicine at Johns Hopkins Hospital and Hopkins Bayview.
Moon hopes the clinical ethics program will influence the way ethics is taught not only at Hopkins, but at other hospitals as well, as Hopkins-trained doctors move into leadership positions at other institutions.
The Berman Institute will be celebrating its 10-year anniversary this spring. In honor of the occasion, President William R. Brody has declared the week of April 16 Bioethics Week at Johns Hopkins. The institute will hold several lectures, conferences, and meetings at a variety of campus locations. — CW
The first figure a reader meets in David Bell's acclaimed new book, The First Total War (Houghton Mifflin, 2007), is the rakish and effeminate Armand-Louis de Gontaut, the Duc de Lauzun. Early in his military career, the "fair-skinned, red-lipped, and beautiful" Lauzun had already garnered a reputation as a philanderer of epic proportions — a reputation he both earned and flaunted. He even led a battle on horseback, dressed handsomely, with a mistress riding shotgun. (Fans of Dangerous Liaisons will recognize Lauzun in the character Valmont. The book's author, Choderlos de Laclos, was a friend of Lauzun's.) Lauzun's victories were not limited to the boudoir. He ably commanded regiments abroad, most notably during the American Revolution.
Bell, a Johns Hopkins history professor and a renowned expert on French history, chooses Lauzun to open his book, his first written for a general audience, because the Frenchman was the quintessential military commander of his times: an aristocrat who had as much flair in battle as he had at the royal court. He — and Napoleon Bonaparte, whom we meet later on — came of age during a time when wars were comparatively limited, restrained, and honorable, Bell writes. The 18th century was a time of sword duels, peasant soldiery, battlefield discourse between enemies, and splendidly costumed commanders who took time off to write novels and avoided fighting during winter months. In general, they spared civilians, at least compared with other periods.
The First Total War in large part tells the story of the changing philosophy of war that took place during Napoleon's time. The Age of Enlightenment hatched the theory that total peace was an achievable human goal — and that the means to that end was a final — or total — war. To achieve this ideal, however, meant eradicating the old regime who felt war was a part of life — an upheaval realized in the French Revolution. Out went the old armies and in came the new, made up of civilian volunteers and conscripts who were swept up by a spirit of nationalism and the pursuit of final peace. Bell defines "total war" as one of grand scope involving mass casualties, guerrilla warfare, and a blurring of lines between combatants and noncombatants. Bell writes: "What marked the conflicts that began in 1792 was not simply their radical new scope and intensity, but also the political dynamic that drove the participants relentlessly toward a condition of total engagement and the abandonment of restraints."
Between 1792 and 1815, warfare on an unprecedented scale ripped apart Europe. The fighting caused perhaps as many as 5 million deaths and affected every state on the continent. Before 1790, only a few battles involved more than 100,000 combatants, Bell writes, as compared to the Battle of Leipzig in 1813, for example, which drew 500,000, a third of whom were killed or wounded. No longer was war about securing a strategic location or pitting royal house against royal house. Entire nations were now at war, and hell-bent on slaughter for the sake of an everlasting peace.
A contributing editor for The New Republic and co-editor of The Tocqueville Review, Bell previously authored The Cult of the Nation in France: Inventing Nationalism, 1680-1800 (Harvard University Press, 2001), for which he won the Leo Gershoy Prize from the American Historical Association. With Total War, he set out to illustrate the apocalyptic horrors of such conflicts and how the meaning and fear of this type of warfare lives with us today.
Bell also uses the book to re-appraise Napoleon's role in history. "I think [readers] will be surprised by the extent to which I show Napoleon having been shaped by the literary culture of the day, and the extent to which I take seriously his own early literary ambitions," says Bell, remarking on the general's impressively bad foray into writing. "More fundamentally, perhaps, they will be surprised by the way I present him as someone in large part created by the phenomenon of total war, rather than creating it himself."
Critics say that Bell puts too great an emphasis on the Napoleonic wars, arguing that total wars of another sort existed before this time.
"There were obviously examples of [unrestrained war] going
back as far as you want," Bell responds, "but the idea that
an entire society can be politically mobilized for the sole
purpose of the enemy's destruction is a distinctly modern
one that is born in this period."
Stuffy head, runny nose, sore throat — chances are, you're infected with one of the 200 or so viruses that cause the common cold. The symptoms that make you feel so bad are the work of specialized white blood cells responding to a virus by ramping up the immune system. New research out of Johns Hopkins suggests that your eventual return to health will be caused in part by a protein called Carabin, which your body uses to shut down that response.
The study found that Carabin inhibits two proteins that would otherwise prompt white blood cells to produce immune- activating chemicals. As the amount of Carabin increases, the cell gradually releases fewer and fewer of the chemicals needed to sustain the fight against infection. These findings appeared in the January 25 issue of Nature.
One of the authors, Jun Liu of the School of Medicine's Pharmacology Department, says the most interesting part is that a viral infection triggers white blood cells to produce chemicals that induce an immune response, and simultaneously to produce Carabin. "It's as if you're stepping on the gas but also hitting the brake," says Liu. But the brake works gradually, leaving a window during which white blood cells and other anti-viral agents can wipe out the infection. Individual differences in Carabin production may be one reason some people have a cold for just a day or two while others suffer for weeks.
What would happen if the body didn't produce Carabin? Liu and his colleagues compared normal white blood cells to those from which Carabin had been removed. Those without the protein generated three to five times the amount of chemicals used to switch on the immune system. A stronger immune response could lead to more acute symptoms. "Imagine if someone had a fever that was three times as severe," says Liu. "It could be extremely detrimental."
The proteins that Carabin inhibits are involved in many
other processes, and Liu hopes to explore how Carabin
functions in other cells. "We think that this brake system
is not only confined to the immune system," he says.
During her 14 years as Johns Hopkins' university chaplain, Sharon Kugler built a strong interfaith community representing students of more than 25 religious groups, created a new campus interfaith center, and guided the university community through crises big and small. She's also won raves for her chili — a spicy concoction dished out to resident advisers and Interfaith Council members at dinners where the décor includes strings of lights shaped like hot peppers.
Now she's taking her talents (and her chili pepper lights)
to New Haven, Connecticut. In February, Kugler became the
first woman, first lay person, and first Roman Catholic to
be named chaplain of Yale University. She starts July
Sharon Kugler is considered one of the nation's most
creative college chaplains.
Photo by Will Kirk
Kugler has a reputation as one of the most creative college
chaplains in the nation. While at Hopkins she cultivated a
chaplaincy that served the needs of the diverse cultural
and religious traditions here. Her programs — ranging
from "Our Big Fat Everything Wedding" (a celebration of
marriage traditions from different faiths) to a religious
calendar featuring photographs of students — brought
people together. Her kindness and sensitivity helped keep
them involved. "She's one of the most giving and wonderful
people I've ever met," says Maytal Saltiel, a senior
international relations major and member of the Interfaith
Council. "Her view of the world — to sit down
together and have a meal and learn about each other as
people, not just as members of a religious group —
has really helped build a special place."
"Sharon created something here that doesn't have any rival anywhere in the country," says Dean of Students Susan Boswell, who has worked with Kugler since 1993. "It's absolutely wonderful that she is able to move from here to Yale, but it is a tremendous loss for us. I don't even know how to tell you how much she will be missed."
Kugler says she wasn't looking to leave Hopkins, but when a search firm contacted her about the position at Yale, she was moved to apply. "I felt that I had another challenge in me," she says. The school's long tradition of campus ministry also appealed. "Yale has had some pretty famous chaplains like William Sloan Coffin and Sidney Lovett," she says. "And the proximity to a divinity school means I might have a hand at training some of tomorrow's chaplains."
Kugler has more than 25 years of experience in ministry in higher education, interfaith collaboration, and pastoral and social ministry. She was the resident counselor at a battered women's shelter in Ohio before becoming an associate campus minister at Santa Clara University. Before her arrival at Hopkins, she was the founding director of AIDS Interfaith Residential Services, Baltimore's first residential program for adults in the last stages of HIV/AIDS. She has served as president of the National Association of College and University Chaplains and president of the Association for College and University Religious Affairs.
Although she's looking forward to new challenges, Kugler admits that leaving behind the students, faculty, and staff she's come to know at Hopkins won't be easy. "They will always be in my heart," Kugler says. "I will always be their chaplain." — Maria Blackburn
Alex Nisichenko had an idea. He wanted to start a company that could assess the commercial value of intellectual property owned by university, government, and private research labs and make recommendations on how the organization could achieve the greatest value for it. National consulting companies charge big money for such services. Nisichenko knew he could do the same professional job for less, but as a 21-year-old Johns Hopkins senior, he didn't have the cash to start his own business.
Enter Hopkins Student Enterprises. HSE was founded in 2006
by the Center for Leadership Education to offer student
entrepreneurs opportunities to develop business ideas and
implement them on campus. With HSE's help, this semester
Nisichenko started his business, Hopkins Technology
Commercialization Agency. He has four employees and counts
as his clients the Applied Physics Laboratory, the Krieger
School of Arts and Sciences, the Whiting School of
Engineering, and Johns Hopkins Medicine. His first project?
To assess a new technology developed by the Whiting School,
APL, and JHM.
William L. Brown
"They make it easy for a student to start a company," says Nisichenko. "They gave me money, access to a domain name, an office on campus with a computer, printer, fax machine. Basically we got all of this stuff for free."
Here's how it works: Students submit their ideas to HSE as a business plan. If Max Dement, president of HSE and a junior majoring in economics, thinks the student can make the business a reality, it goes to a review board of Hopkins administrators from the Dean of Students Office, the Office of the General Counsel, the Purchasing Office, and other offices on campus. "What they're looking at is whether they think the idea is feasible, if it's a good fit for the university culture, what risks and liabilities might be associated with it," explains Benjamin Gibbs, HSE adviser and financial analyst for the center. Then it goes to the HSE Board of Directors, which decides whether to move forward with the project.
"We're not trying to start the next Google," says Dement. "What we're looking for is basic service businesses that students could run and that would be beneficial to the campus."
Unfortunately, that doesn't include a Wendy's franchise — a business idea one student pitched to Dement. "We're not in the food service business," he says. "Anything sticky we want to avoid."
Students with business plans that win approval get between $4,000 and $6,000 in seed money. They also get access to Hopkins students to hire as staff. By graduation, they have real-world experience running a company, but because Hopkins owns their business, they can't take it with them.
So far two other student businesses have been formed through HSE: Hopkins Student Storage, which stores student belongings over the summer; and Action Video Productions, which produces, edits, and archives lectures, performances, concerts, and other campus happenings.
Other universities, such as Penn, Harvard, and Princeton, all have student-run business programs, often with a long history. The program at Hopkins is patterned after these, but it has its differences. For starters, HSE is part of the university, not an independent corporation. "We can use university resources and have an affiliation with the university," Dement explains. "We're just another department on campus."
Then there's the kind of businesses Dement is hoping to help out. "Most schools do laundry service, water delivery, fridge rentals," he says. "We want service-based businesses, but we also want to pick businesses that set us apart," he says.
Nisichenko's company is a prime example. The senior international studies major says it's the nation's first student-run technology commercialization agency, and that's a big deal. "We're doing serious work," he says. "The recommendations we make to a client make or break years of work done by PhD's. There's a huge amount of responsibility and a huge amount of weight on our work. Everyone's watching to see if we're capable of delivering."
Gibbs says he's confident that Nisichenko and his employees will get the job done. "They're really smart, confident guys who know about doing technology commercialization assessment," he says. "If they weren't, we wouldn't have brought them aboard." — MB
The body's mucus acts as a protective mesh to trap and remove pathogens and unwanted foreign materials before they can do any damage to sensitive tissue such as the lungs, intestines, and vaginal tract. That's a good thing. But you know what they say about too much of a good thing.
This mucus layer also blocks ben-eficial medications that
get caught up in its net. However, a team of Johns Hopkins
scientists has recently discovered a way to coat
nanoparticles with a material that helps potential drug
delivery systems slip through this sticky barrier to fight
such diseases as cervical, colon, and lung cancers. The
researchers also found that the mucus layers have much
larger pores than previously thought, a pathway that could
allow for larger and longer-acting doses of these
nanomedicines to reach the protected tissue.
Justin Hanes, an associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering who supervised the research, says the findings are important because mucus layers can block the localized delivery of drugs to many parts of the body, including the lungs, eyes, digestive tract, and female reproductive system. Because of these barriers, doctors often must prescribe pills or injections that send drugs through the entire body, an approach that can lead to unwanted side effects or doses too weak to provide effective treatments. (Drugs taken orally can degrade in the stomach, and drugs administered by injection can be processed by the kidneys before they reach their intended destination.)
The team's findings were first reported on January 23, in the early online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Samuel K. Lai, a chemical and biomolecular engineering doctoral student, was lead author.
To reach its breakthrough, the Hopkins team first studied another set of mucus gatecrashers: viruses. Earlier research led by Richard Cone, a professor of biophysics, had established that some viruses can make their way through the human mucus barrier by diffusion. They are attracted to water (hydrophilic), have a net neutral electrical charge, and are small enough not to adhere to the mucus mesh.
Hanes and his colleagues decided to look for a chemical coating that might mimic the characteristics of a virus. They found polyethylene glycol, or PEG, a non-toxic, water- soluble material commonly used in pharmaceuticals. PEG can be excreted harmlessly by the kidneys. Next, the team wanted to determine how big — or small — the coated nanoparticles could be to pass through the tiny openings in the mucus mesh. Previous studies indicated that even if nanoparticles did not stick to the mucus, they might have to be smaller than 55 nanometers wide to pass through. (A human hair is roughly 80,000 nanometers wide.) However, results from high-resolution video microscopy and computer software demonstrated to the researchers that PEG-coated nanoparticles as wide as 500 nanometers could not only penetrate the mucus, but move through it faster than smaller ones.
Larger nanoparticles are more desirable because they can release greater amounts of medicine over a longer period of time, Hanes says. "With these coated nanoparticles, side effects can be minimized and drugs can be slowly released and delivered in a very controlled manner. These findings show the potential for a new wave of drugs for a host of very important diseases that can be enhanced by this technology."
Through Johns Hopkins' Office of Technology Transfer, the team has applied for patents covering this process, which Hanes says promises many disease-fighting applications for cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, asthma, cystic fibrosis, glaucoma, and others. It may also find widespread use, he says, for the prolonged delivery of optimal doses of many common drugs now taken orally. — GR
Johns Hopkins basketball enjoyed a first, a second, and a
500th as both the men's and women's teams scored winning
seasons. Senior forward Matt Griffin became the first
player in Hopkins history to be named a finalist for the
Jostens Trophy, presented each year to the nation's most
outstanding men's and women's Division III basketball
player. The men's team won the Centennial Conference
championship for the second time in school history. And
women's head coach Nancy Funk secured her 500th victory as
a college coach.
|Coach Nancy Funk||
The men's team won the conference championship at Goldfarb
Gym with a 68-61 victory over Haverford College. That
victory was a school-record 23rd for the season and
qualified Hopkins for the NCAA national championship
tournament for the first time since 1999. In the opening
round, also played at Goldfarb, Hopkins faced nearby Villa
Julie College. After a slow start, the Jays trailed by 17
points but came to life in the second half and won, 84-72,
to advance to the second round. The following night, the
Jays again fell behind and this time could not make up the
difference, falling to Guilford College, 80-73, to end the
season with 24 wins against only five losses.
In January, Griffin became only the 13th player in Hopkins history to score more than 1,000 career points. He led the conference in shooting both from the floor and the foul line, and finished third in the conference in scoring. The Jostens Award recognizes accomplishments in three areas: basketball, academic performance, and community service. (The winner was to be announced just as Johns Hopkins Magazine went to press.) Besides his stellar play, Griffin compiled a 3.45 grade-point average as a double major in philosophy and psychology. ESPN: The Magazine named him to its academic all-America team.
The women's team concluded its season with a 14-9 record. The team's 13th victory was coach Funk's 500th. Only seven other coaches in Division III women's basketball have ever won as many games. In her 21 years as Hopkins' head coach, Funk has guided the Jays to 10 seasons of 20 or more wins and eight appearances in the NCAA tournament. Of her 501 career victories, 375 have come at Hopkins. — DK
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