By Lisa Brown
In an article in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Laura White, associate professor of biostatistics, and colleagues from the Slone Epidemiology Center at BU probed the association between ambient air pollution exposure and weight gain over 16 years among a large group of African American women in the long-running Black Women’s Health Study (BWHS). Levels of fine particulate matter, ozone, and nitrogen oxide were estimated at participants’ residential locations in 56 metro areas, and weight was tracked. The study adjusted for potential confounders, such as diet, neighborhood socioeconomic status, exercise, births, and smoking status.
The researchers found “no consistent pattern between weight change and pollutant exposure across BMI (body mass index) or SES (socioeconomic status) categories,” the study says. “The weight change associated with other exposures (such as different diet patterns and pregnancies) … was more substantial.”
The only statistically significant weight change detected was a loss of 0.50 kg over 16 years associated with each quartile increase in nitrogen dioxide. The authors said that finding may have emerged by chance or may reveal “underlying challenges in analyses of air pollution” where multiple environmental factors play a role.
Substantial research has been dedicated to understanding the reasons for the dramatic rise in obesity rates in the US in the past two decades. Animal studies and epidemiologic studies in children have suggested that air pollution might contribute to weight gain. In one such study, mice exposed to diesel exhaust prenatally were found to have greater weight gain in adulthood.
White and her co-authors noted that their models for particulate matter and nitrogen oxide levels relied on government monitoring sites, which tend to be located away from major roadways—meaning pollution exposures may have been underestimated.
Other BU authors on the study were: Lynn Rosenberg, associate director of the Slone Epidemiology Center and professor of epidemiology; Patricia Coogan, senior epidemiologist at Slone and research professor of epidemiology; and Jeffrey Yu, research data manager at Slone.
Submitted by Lisa Chedekel
Shipley Foundation gift will fund research in personalized medicine
Each year, more than 100,000 men diagnosed with prostate cancer in the United States undergo a prostatectomy, a surgical procedure that leaves most of them unable to function sexually and many of them incontinent. The majority would live just as long with no treatment at all.
It’s “Dark Ages” medicine, says Richard C. Shipley (Questrom’68,’72), who was diagnosed with prostate cancer 18 months ago and eventually sought out a new, less invasive treatment, called focal laser ablation. The successful technology investor and former CEO wants to see such humane, high-tech treatment become the norm for all men with prostate cancer. To help that happen, the BU trustee is giving the School of Medicine $10.5 million to create a prostate cancer research center on the Medical Campus and a website with information about treatment options.
“There are options, good options, that men don’t hear about,” says Shipley, “and I want to get that message out.”
The Shipley Prostate Cancer Research Center will focus on personalized medicine, finding genomic approaches to better determine which cancers are aggressive and need to be removed or radiated and which can be dealt with less aggressively, eliminating unnecessary treatment with devastating side effects.
“Research can provide a paradigm shift in how we diagnose and treat prostate cancer,” says Avrum Spira, director of the BU/Boston Medical Center Cancer Center. “There is a new, broader vision for what we can accomplish in prostate and other cancers in terms of precision genomic medicine.” Spira (ENG’02), the Alexander Graham Bell Professor in Health Care Entrepreneurship and a MED professor of medicine, pathology, and laboratory medicine and of bioinformatics, is a lung cancer specialist. He created a successful genomic test for early diagnosis of lung cancer, and believes prostate cancer could yield a similar outcome.
When Shipley learned that he had high PSA (prostate-specific antigen) levels, which can indicate cancer, he chose to have a closer examination by a powerful 3T magnetic scanner, a procedure that is less invasive than the common course of blind biopsies. Such biopsies take many cores of the prostate without knowing if there are any lesions. And when lesions were found in Shipley’s case, he chose to have them treated with laser ablation, which is far less damaging than a prostatectomy. Shipley, who compares his chosen treatment to lumpectomy versus radical mastectomy for women with breast cancer, learned of these new treatments not from the usual medical sources, he says, but by using “Dr. Google.”
In most cases, says Spira, “we biopsy a prostate, look under the microscope, and unfortunately, we often don’t know what to do next because it’s often a low-grade lesion.” He says it’s almost always impossible to distinguish an “indolent” and essentially harmless form of the cancer from a form that may become aggressive and needs immediate attention.
Such uncertainty leads to overtreatment and damage to quality of life. Although statistics vary widely, and outcomes depend on the surgeon and on surgical technique, anywhere from 30 percent to 70 percent of men will have erectile problems in the long term after prostatectomy. Urinary incontinence affects a smaller, but still significant number of men.
Shipley hopes that the Shipley Center website, offering accurate, impartial information about alternatives in plain English, will become a resource for patients and a hub for scientific exchange on the disease.
“We are all very excited about this gift, which will catalyze research around determining the optimal treatment for a specific patient,” says Karen Antman, dean of MED and provost of the Medical Campus.
She says that $1.5 million of the gift, plus a $500,000 contribution from BU, will go toward building the Shipley Center labs in existing space on the Medical Campus. The gift, which comes through the Shipley Foundation, allots $400,000 a year for 15 years to fund research projects, such as developing genetic tests to determine the threat posed by lesions or blood or urine tests to screen high-risk individuals. Antman estimates that, with support staff, the center will comprise 20 to 30 people, and continue to grow as pilot grants lead to additional federal and industry funding.
Shipley’s gift will also create an endowed professorship designated as “at any rank”—full, associate, or assistant professor—to allow BU to choose the candidate most at the forefront of the research. Antman says that researcher could start as early as January 2017.
A community engagement group, with men who are either in a high-risk group or are already diagnosed with prostate cancer, will be organized at the center as well. The group will meet at least quarterly to provide a patient perspective on issues and procedures related to the disease.
Shipley, of Sanibel, Fla., is the founder of Shiprock Capital, a private equity firm investing in early- and expansion-state technology companies. Previously, he was president and CEO of Shipley Company, LLC, a firm founded by his parents in 1957, which became a world leader in electronic materials and process technology development.
Prior gifts from Shipley to BU are $2.5 million in 2008 to endow the Richard C. Shipley Professorship in Management at the Questrom School of Business and $4 million in 2013 to endow the Beverly A. Brown Professorship for the Improvement of Urban Health. He is chairman and a founding fellow of the University’s William Fairfield Warren Society.
This BU Today article was written by Joel Brown.
Talbot Green was the place to be on Thursday, April 14!
The North Shore Animal League of America’s puppy van, along with Boston Medical Center’s Healing Paws therapy dogs helped spread some puppy cheer to faculty, students and staff on the Medical Campus.
BUMC’s Earth Day Festival also set the scene for a fun and interactive day with food, activities, giveaways and more!
If you missed the puppies, they’ll be back Friday, April 15 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
n April 6, 1991, Iraq accepted the provisions of United National Security Council Resolution 687, thus ending the Gulf War. On April 9, 2016, Boston University joined with the VA Boston Healthcare System to host an event to thank those who served.
Dr. Terence Keane, Associate Chief of Staff, Research and Development at the VA Boston Healthcare System and Assistant Dean for Research at BU School of Medicine, gave the opening remarks. “We take this opportunity, on the 25th anniversary of the Gulf War, to offer you our sincere thanks,” Keane told the approximately 100 Gulf War Veterans in attendance.
Dr. Anna Hohler, Director for the Center for Military and Post Deployment Health at BU, and associate professor of Neurology, thanked the Veterans for their continued service. “Not only did you serve in the Gulf, but you have continued to serve through your participation in research studies that will ultimately improve the health of your fellow soldiers and of the population in general,” Hohler said.
The Color Guard of the US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine presented the Colors while The Newtones of Newton South High School sang the National Anthem.
Dr. Roberta White, Chair of the Department of Environmental Health at the BU School of Public Health, gave an overview of research conducted over the past quarter century. White, who told the Veterans of her personal connection having lost her own father to a war-related illness, has been involved in extensive research that has led to acceptance of Gulf War Illness (GWI) as a physical illness. White presented a summary of studies that have identified chemical exposures associated with GWI and neuroimaging evidence of structural brain damage associated with GWI.
Veterans also heard from several BU and VA researchers who continue to conduct ground-breaking studies related to Gulf War Illness. Drs. Barbara Niles, Margaret Naeser, Kimberly Sullivan, Rosemary Toomey, Maxine Krengel, Neil Kowall (represented by Ms. Tranijit Singh) and Scott Kinlay presented information on current studies aimed at increasing our understanding of and improving treatment for GWI.
Mr. Anthony Hardie, a Veteran advocate and Director of Veterans for Common Sense, urged audience members to take part in ongoing research at BU and the VA. “These studies are only as good as our participation,” Mr. Hardie told his fellow Gulf War Veterans.
In addition to providing important information on Gulf War Illness and services available to Veterans, the event provided a forum for Veterans to talk with one another about their shared experiences. Most important, the gathering gave researchers and clinicians an opportunity to say thank you to the men and women who have served and continue to give through their study participation.
Submitted by Monica Parker-James.
Do you consider yourself to be a Mentor, or are you looking for a Mentor in a particular area?
BU Profiles has a NEW Mentoring Section which:
- Is highly visible and showcases faculty mentoring expertise.
- Makes it easy for students, trainees and faculty to find mentors across BUMC.
BU Profile holders can edit their profile and add a dedicated mentoring narrative about their approach and outlook. Are you willing to act as a mentor but haven’t provided your mentoring narrative? Please do the following:
- Read the Mentoring FAQs section, which contains tips on what to include. You’ll find excellent examples of faculty who have already added mentoring here and here.
- Make your Mentoring section public to ensure it will be visible.
Anyone can use the new “Find Mentors” search option to look for mentors by role, department/section or keyword.
Learn about the new mentoring features by looking at the “what’s new” section, or by reading the Mentoring FAQs. Please give us your feedback on this new feature, or on anything else in BU Profiles. You can use that form if you have questions or issues of any kind.
Did you miss BUMC’s Art Days 2016? Take a look at this campuswide event and see who’s channeling their inner Monet.
24-hour fundraising drive: challenges, activities, social media shout-outs
Today, the Boston University community will come together for the University’s third annual Giving Day, a 24-hour fundraising drive that will benefit the BU Annual Fund. In addition to raising money online, there will be activities across the Charles River and Medical Campuses and a community-wide social media shout-out of favorite things about BU.
Since launching in 2014, Giving Day has raised more than $2.1 million from over 7,954 students, alumni, parents, faculty, staff, and friends of the University. Those funds have been used to support BU’s individual schools and colleges, scholarships, athletics, study-abroad experiences, libraries, the Community Service Center, and sustainability initiatives.
“Giving Day is a chance for everyone in the BU community to come together for 24 hours and celebrate the things they care about at BU,” says Dan Allenby, Development & Alumni Relations assistant vice president for annual giving. “In the first two years of this event, 332 worthy causes at BU received donations on Giving Day. We hope that continues to grow this year as more members of our community choose to give back.”
The day’s goal isn’t just to raise money, but to connect the entire BU community—no matter how far-flung—through school spirit and the common goal of supporting the University’s research, education, athletics, and programs. Terriers are encouraged to support any area of BU they choose with a donation. As in previous years, donors can unlock bonus funds throughout the day by winning challenges sponsored by alumni. Gifts made to schools, colleges, and varsity athletics will also qualify for additional matching funds. Dollars raised for particular causes and by various groups (e.g., school vs school, team vs team, and alumni vs students) are tracked, leaderboard-style, on the Giving Day website.
Challenges offer extra incentive to give
New this year are two challenges sponsored by recent graduates. The first comes from the 2016 Class Gift Committee and encourages current students to support their favorite campus activity. The clubs or organizations that secure the most student donors will win matching funds.
“I’m choosing to give back to BU on Giving Day because the tuition I pay goes to the general BU student body, but my gift goes directly to something specific on campus that I care about,” says 2016 Class Gift cochair Juliana Zeta Freeman (CAS’16). She and her fellow committee members are hoping for a strong senior turnout to take advantage of the matching funds.
The second challenge is sponsored by Hillary Babick (CFA’11), who hopes it will inspire her peers to give. If 100 recent graduates make donations between 1 and 2 p.m. tomorrow, she will give $500 to the Community Service Center, which oversees 14 service programs as well as numerous one-time service projects and events.
“Recent grad giving is really important,” says Babick. “I’ve found that a lot of my peers have great affinity for the University, but that doesn’t necessarily match what we can contribute. I choose to give on Giving Day because it’s all about participation and raising your hand.”
There are several ways to be part of Giving Day in person, as well as online. On the Charles River Campus, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. the GSU Link will be Giving Day headquarters. Activities will include a photo booth and appearances by Rhett. Student radio station WTBU deejays will provide the soundtrack for the day, and participating student groups will host informational tables. Multiple giving stations will be set up on the Medical Campus, with opportunities to be featured in photos and posts shared over social media.
Social media activity
Participants can use the hashtag #BUGivingDay on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Vine posts to join in the conversation and to check out what others are saying about Giving Day. You can also follow the day’s activities on the University’s Snapchat account, @bostonu. Participants can tell the BU community why they donated by posting videos, photos, or testimonials using the #IGivetoBU hashtag.
Watch a video about this year’s Giving Day above.
This BU Today story was written by Lindsay A. Roth.
Each year Boston University holds recognition events to honor employees who have reached service milestones in their careers at BU.
A luncheon was held March 31 to honor faculty and staff who have completed 10 and 25 years of service. In total, there were 87 people honored for 25 years and 238 honored for 10-year service milestones.
“Your dedicated service has been and continues to be a key factor in realizing the University’s mission. We are delighted to honor you and, in doing so, to celebrate the diversity of talent and expertise that makes this University great. Your service is the foundation of our institution,” said President Robert A. Brown.
“We are proud to honor these employees who have made a significant career commitment to the Boston University,” said BU Medical Campus Provost and BUSM Dean Karen Antman, MD. “We appreciate your ongoing dedication to the continuing success of the Medical Campus.
Celebrating 10 Years of Service
|Edith||Ablavsky||School of Public Health|
|Sandhya||Agnihotri||Alumni Medical Library|
|David||Ananian||National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories|
|Kimberly||Avila||Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine|
|Markus||Bachschmid||School of Medicine|
|Marco||Basta||Information Services & Technology|
|Jennifer||Beard||School of Public Health|
|Alexander||Bendayan||Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine|
|Shalender||Bhasin||School of Medicine|
|Steven||Bookless||Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine|
|Lisa||Brown||School of Medicine|
|Ci-Di||Chen||School of Medicine|
|Clara||Chen||School of Public Health|
|Ilia Jorgji||Coka||School of Medicine|
|Sharon||Coleman||School of Public Health|
|Tasha||Coughlin||School of Public Health|
|Yolanda||Cuevas||Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine|
|Kathie||Davis-Dottin||Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine|
|Richard||Dinnocenzo||Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine|
|Melissa||Dipetrillo||School of Medicine|
|Gheorghe||Doros||School of Public Health|
|Denise||Eckstrom||School of Medicine|
|Margaret||Errante||Dental Health Center|
|Stephanie||Ettinger De Cuba||School of Public Health|
|Alik||Farber||School of Medicine|
|Jesuina||Fernandes||Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine|
|Anne||Fidler||School of Public Health|
|Fausta||Freire||School of Medicine|
|Shahnaz||Gharib||Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine|
|Avneesh||Gupta||School of Medicine|
|Selim||Hascelik||Alumni Medical Library|
|Lori||Henault||School of Medicine|
|Ronald||Iverson||School of Medicine|
|Scharukh||Jalisi||School of Medicine|
|Rinat||Jonas||School of Medicine|
|Joanne||Kayden||Dental Health Center|
|Bruce||Larson||School of Public Health|
|Ana||Lemus||School of Medicine|
|Karin||Leschly||School of Medicine|
|Gang||Liu||School of Medicine|
|Donna||Magnanti||School of Medicine|
|Keith||McDonald||BUMC Facilities Management|
|Raquel||McDonald||School of Medicine|
|Hans||Meier-Ewert||School of Medicine|
|Asim||Mian||School of Medicine|
|Linda||Ng||School of Medicine|
|Jingbo||Niu||School of Medicine|
|Sheree||Norquist||Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine|
|Maria||Ober||School of Medicine|
|Christopher||Pellegrino||Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine|
|Aeisha||Pringle||Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine|
|Fuzhong||Qin||School of Medicine|
|John||Reilly||Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine|
|Catherine||Rich||School of Medicine|
|Linda||Rosen||Graduate Medical Science|
|Jennifer E||Rosen||School of Medicine|
|Amy||Rubin||School of Medicine|
|Kelley||Saia||School of Medicine|
|Erdjan||Salih||Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine|
|Sepehr||Sekhavat||School of Medicine|
|Kimberly||Shea||School of Public Health|
|Dhurata||Shosho||Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine|
|Elizabeth||Stier||School of Medicine|
|Tony||Tannoury||School of Medicine|
|Alexander||Walley||School of Medicine|
|Mary||Walsh||School of Medicine|
|Jennifer||Ward||School of Medicine|
|Rebecca||Washburn||School of Medicine|
|Elizabeth||Whitney||School of Medicine|
|Mary||Wienke||School of Medicine|
|James||Wolff||School of Public Health|
|Weining||Zhao||Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine|
Celebrating 25 Years of Service
|Ildiko||Akey||School of Medicine|
|Thomas||Barber||School of Medicine|
|Edward||Bernstein||School of Medicine|
|Pelly||Chang||Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine|
|Wendy||Cheney||Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine|
|Lora||Forman||School of Medicine|
|Haiyan||Gong||School of Medicine|
|Joseph||Kahn||School of Medicine|
|Vasken||Kroshian||School of Medicine|
|Harold||Lazar||School of Medicine|
|Birgitta||Lehman||School of Medicine|
|Christine||Paal||School of Public Health|
|John||Palfrey||School of Medicine|
|Hee-Young||Park||Graduate Medical Science|
|Nicole||Prudent||School of Medicine|
|Richard||Rabbett||Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine|
|N. Paul||Rosman||School of Medicine|
|Shelley||Russek||School of Medicine|
|Eugene||Uzogara||School of Medicine|
Last year more than 100 faculty, staff, residents and students attended John McCahan Medical Education Day at the BU Medical Campus. Now is your chance to submit an abstract for a workshop or a poster.
This year the event will be held on Wednesday, May 25 and it will be hosted by the Department of Medical Sciences and Education. The theme of the day will be “Interactive Learning” and the keynote speaker is Dr. Colin Montpetit.
Please visit the McCahan Day website for more information and to submit a workshop proposal or poster abstract; submission deadline is April 8.
Free, confidential counseling for navigating work and life issues
This is the first in a series about Boston University services available to faculty and staff to help with work-related and personal issues.
BU’s Faculty & Staff Assistance Office (FSAO) provides a quiet, reassuring environment where employees can talk about issues affecting their professional or personal lives. For three decades, the office in the basement of the School of Social Work building on Bay State Road—staffed by licensed clinical social workers—has offered counseling, resources, and referrals to those seeking help with addiction, domestic violence, mental health, relationship, and parenting issues, and managing a work-life balance. Services are free and completely confidential.
“We are experienced behavioral health providers who know and understand the culture here at Boston University,” says Bonnie Teitleman (SSW’83), director of FSAO. “We offer a compassionate, caring environment.”
With locations on both the Charles River and Medical Campuses, the FSAO is available to all full- and part-time employees and their families, providing what’s called a brief treatment model, where people can be seen for up to six sessions. During the initial visit, an employee meets with a counselor to talk about the nature of the issue. “We will brainstorm potential ways to cope with the situation—sometimes that will be a series of brief meetings, where we’ll identify and solve the person’s problem,” Teitleman says. Other times, a person may present with a longer-term problem that requires a referral to a therapist, a family counselor, or another experienced professional in the community. When outside help is required, Teitleman and Karen Brouhard, the FSAO’s other counselor, help to find the right provider.
“If it’s a relationship issue, we might take several sessions to discern if it’s a relationship the person wants to work with, if it’s salvageable,” says Teitleman. “We have couples therapists in the community we could refer them to with their partner for some of that work on repair. If, on the other hand, they’ve decided through several sessions that they either don’t want to stay in the relationship or they don’t know what they want to do, at that point we would consider referring them to another clinician in the community.”
Teitleman and Brouhard, both with years of experience in a variety of mental health and medical settings, have seen and dealt with just about every problem imaginable. They routinely help people to navigate workplace issues, from harassment and bullying to a bad performance review. They may serve as a sounding board for a supervisor struggling with an ineffective employee, a faculty member who needs help mediating a difficult relationship with a colleague, a family struggling with the death of a loved one, or a new employee who has relocated to Boston and needs help finding a mental health provider for themselves or a family member.
“People don’t have to have a mental health problem or symptoms to access our services,” says Brouhard. “So often it’s an issue that’s emerged in a relationship or in their personal life, where they need a little extra support, some assistance coping, someone to help them think through an issue.”
FSAO also helps people hoping to enhance their job performance. An employee may want help becoming more assertive, being a better listener, or learning to cope with stress so they can respond thoughtfully in situations, rather than being reactive.
“We’ll work with someone to help figure out how they want to manage their career,” Brouhard says. “We’ll help someone figure out if it’s time for them to move on from a job that’s not a good fit or that has them hitting their heads on the ceiling.” The office maintains a list of career counselors in the Boston area they can refer faculty and staff to as needed.
Often, employees seek out FSAO’s help for problems at home, such as dealing with the emotional fallout from a divorce, finding resources for aging parents, or parenting children with special needs.
The FSAO website provides information and suggestions for dealing with a host of subjects, including stress and anxiety (the number one issue for employees, according to Teitleman), compulsive behaviors, work issues, family challenges, relationships, coping with change, elder care, trauma, anger management, and retirement. There are quizzes that help identify areas where support is needed.
In addition to seeing individuals one-on-one or with family members, FSAO has customized workshops for departments and groups across campus, on topics from strategies for maintaining a healthy work-life balance to mindfulness as a tool for building resilience to how to talk to elderly loved ones about end-of-life issues to how to manage addiction. In times of crisis, the staff is often called upon as first responders, offering grief counseling.
“With a workforce this large, there are going to be deaths, there are going to be tragedies that affect our employees,” says Brouhard. “If there’s been an incident that’s affected an employee, a manager often will contact us to consult about how to support the employee at such a time. That might involve us coming in and meeting with the work group, facilitating the conversation, providing some critical incident debriefing.”
“I often find myself saying to distressed people that organizations per se don’t have a conscience, but the people who work in the organizations do,” says Teitleman. “That’s the part of the organization that we want to represent—the part that wants to see people treated well, treated with respect. One of the things I find most gratifying about our work is to help an employee with a problem this year, and then they come back next year with a different problem. That tells us that we’ve been successful with them, when we see them as repeat customers.”
The Charles River Campus Faculty & Staff Assistance Office is at 270 Bay State Rd. Call 617-353-5381 for an appointment. The FSAO also has a Medical Campus office, in the Solomon Carter Fuller Mental Health Building, 85 East Newton St., eighth floor, Room 818B. Call 617-638-5381 for an appointment.
This is a BU Today article.