By Lisa Brown

Rev. Julian A. Cook Visits Medical Campus

July 5th, 2017 in Featured

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Rafael Ortega, MD, left, with Rev. Julian Cook.

On Monday, July 3, Rev. Julian A. Cook, assistant director for the Thurman Center at Boston University, toured the Medical Campus. The Thurman Center is dedicated to providing programs, events and experiences to students designed to encourage the creative exchange of ideas, thoughts, beliefs and opinions. Rev. Cook met with BUSM Associate Dean, Diversity and Multicultural Affairs Rafael Ortega, MD, to continue exploring areas of potential collaboration between the Thurman Center and the Medical Campus. Rev. Cook also serves as Senior Pastor at Roxbury’s historic St. Mark Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, the oldest black congregational church in Boston.

Hundreds Enjoy Diversity Networking BBQ

May 30th, 2017 in Featured

Diversity BBQ 3

More than 200 students, residents and faculty with diversity-related interests from across the Boston University Medical Campus, including Boston Medical Center, gathered for a networking mixer on Tuesday, May 23, on Talbot Green. Diversity BBQ 2Sponsored by offices invested in diversity and inclusion from across the Medical Campus, attendees included BUMC Provost and BUSM Dean Karen Antman, MD; BMC Senior Vice President of Medical Affairs and Chief Medical Officer Ravin Davidoff, MBBCh; Assistant Deans of Diversity Samantha Kaplan, MD (BUSM) and Yvette Cozier, PhD (BUSPH); BUSM Associate Dean Academic Affairs Doug Hughes, MD; GSDM Director of Diversity Larry Dunham, DDS; GSDM Assistant Dean of Students Joseph Calabrese, DMD; and Jeff Schneider, MD, BMC Office of Graduate Medical Education Designated Institutional Official.

Diversity BBQ 1

The evening featured a lively performance by the BUMC Band, an ensemble of students and faculty, along with friends from the Berklee College of Music, all of whom enjoy a broad variety of music. The relaxed atmosphere provided an opportunity for individuals to get to know one another better, while enjoying the good weather, live music and food.

The Medical Campus is dedicated to educating, recruiting and retaining a multicultural constituency and believes that diversity is essential to the development of future leaders in healthcare and research to serve our community, our nation and the world.

Cataldo Leone Elected Faculty Council Vice Chair

May 10th, 2017 in Featured

COM Cataldo LeoneCataldo Leone, DMD, DMSc, GSDM Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor, Periodontology and Molecular & Cell Biology, has been appointed as the Vice Chair of the Boston University Faculty Council, effective at the start of the 2017-2018 academic year.

BUMC Community Spreads Message of Inclusivity at March for Science

April 22nd, 2017 in Featured

Determined to communicate their message of inclusivity and support for science, nearly 100 of BUMC faculty, staff and students braved the rainy, chilly weather to carry colorful — and sometimes politically nuanced — signs as they marched toward Boston Common for the March for Science on Saturday afternoon.

Although their motivations for participating were varied, they all hoped to share positive messages about the impact science has on their lives and the need to have their voices heard.

Faculty, staff and students gather at the steps of the Boston Public Library before marching to Boston Common.

Faculty, staff and students gather at the steps of the Boston Public Library before marching to Boston Common.

Linda Hyman, PhD, associate provost of the Division of Graduate Medical Sciences, said she decided to march because it is important to communicate to the community at large that science is important, science saves lives and science is part of our everyday lives.

“What keeps me up at night is the training of the future leaders of the biomedical workforce,” Hyman said. “I am concerned that we are sending the message that science isn’t as important as it used to be.”

Ben Wolozin, MD, PhD, professor of pharmacology and experimental therapeutics, said he was inspired to participate in the March for Science in order to stand up for what he calls “evidence-based policy.”

“I don’t see how a company can run without addressing facts, I don’t see how you can plan your budget at home without addressing facts, and I don’t see how the government or Americans can address the future well without addressing facts,” he said.

Wolozin, whose research focuses on the causes of, and potential treatments for, neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, said funding cuts to the National Institutes of Health would have far-reaching effects.

“Just the threat of funding cuts to the National Institutes of Health has had an impact on science,” Wolozin said.

Jasmeet Hayes, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry and research psychologist at the National Center for PTSD at the VA Boston Healthcare System, marched in order to speak up for military personnel and veterans.

“It is fundamentally important to support science,” Hayes said. “There are still a lot of treatments that don’t work for everybody, so we have to continue the scientific process and come up with the treatments that help as many people as we can.”

Hayes, whose research involves examining the effects of PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury on the brain and cognition for military personnel and veterans, said she hoped marching would raise awareness that science can affect people on a personal, day-to-day level.

“The bottom line is if you support our veterans, you need to support science,” Hayes said.

PhD candidate Alicia Wooten was one of the featured speakers at the event. Wooten is deaf, and took the opportunity to discuss the importance of inclusivity in science.

“I didn’t need to hear a single thing to know that I could make a difference in science, despite other people’s doubt,” Wooten said. “It doesn’t matter what kind of disability you have, or the color of your skin or your gender. It is about what you can bring to the table. I am a scientist who just happens to be deaf.”

Brad Zehr, a fourth-year medical student, is concerned about the national dialogue surrounding science. He feels science is being disrespected on many levels. As a student looking forward to starting his residency, he said he could be especially impacted by potential funding cuts.

“Part of the responsibility of having the privilege of being so highly educated is to be very public about why we need to respect science and fund science,” he said. “Suddenly it’s very real to me when science is threatened because that is going to be my livelihood. We need to be the generation that stands up for science.”

See the Facebook album for more photos of the March.

Nominations for 2017 BUMC Emerging Leaders Program

April 7th, 2017 in Featured

The Provost’s Office is looking for candidates for the 2017 Medical Campus Emerging Leaders Program. The two-day workshop will be held on August 9 & 10 at BU’s Questrom School of Business (on the Charles River Campus) focuses on developing the leadership skills of some of our most promising junior faculty.

Sessions taught by faculty who teach in the health management MBA program will cover:

  • Negotiating skills
  • Leadership styles
  • Financial decision making

Eligible faculty are:

  • Late assistant professor or early associate professor with a full-time appointment at one of the three Medical Campus schools
  • Willing to commit to attending both full days of leadership skills training
  • Effective, innovative, reliable, and capable of mobilizing and energizing others

Interested? Please discuss this with your department chair or center director who should submit your name, CV, and a brief description of your promise as a leader (paragraph or two, no more than one page) by April 21 to ttran16@bu.edu.

Chairs/Center Directors: Two, diverse candidates from each department preferred.

Candidates will be chosen on the strength of their promise as a leader, balance across schools and diversity of candidates’ backgrounds and expertise.

Alumni Medical Library Offering Assistance to BUMC Authors

April 7th, 2017 in Featured

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While preparing a manuscript for publication, one of an author’s chief concerns is plagiarism as even the accidental misuse of published material or the inclusion of insufficient citations can lead to serious consequences.

As a free service to authors on the Medical Campus, the Alumni Medical Library uses a program called TurnItIn to produce detailed Originality Reports, which flag each potential occurrence of plagiarism in the document along with providing an overall score indicating the possibility of plagiarism. The Librarians also provide context and commentary regarding these scores, as they can be a bit confusing to individuals unfamiliar with TurnItIn.

If you would like to make use of this service, please contact David Flynn.

April 17 Patriot’s Day Parking and Transportation Information

April 7th, 2017 in Featured

Patriot’s Day will be celebrated on Monday, April 17.

Shuttle: No Daytime Service on Patriot’s Day for Boston University Shuttle. Late night service begins at 10 p.m.

MBTA: Commuter rail trains will operate on a regular weekday schedule. Buses will operate a weekday schedule. Some routes will be detoured at certain times during Marathon Monday to prevent disruption to the race or other Patriots’ Day events. For additional information on routes and schedules for Patriot’s Day, visit http://www.mbta.com/events/

Parking: All Parking facilities will be open. Employees should park in their assigned garages.

If you have any questions regarding this holiday schedule, please call the TranSComm Office of Transportation Services at 638-7473 or the Parking Office at 638-4915.

Meditation and Prayer Space on Campus

April 6th, 2017 in Featured

There are several spaces for meditation and prayer on the Medical Campus:

  • Interfaith Chapel on the second floor of the East Newton Pavilion
  • Temporary Chapel on the ground floor of the Dowling Building
  • 7th Floor of the BioSpace at 650 Albany St., where the Muslim community congregates every Friday (Jummah Prayer) from 12:15-12:45 p.m.
  • Muslim Dhur prayers Monday-Thursday in the Menino Temporary Chapel

The Medical Campus strives to create a culture and climate that demonstrates the belief that diversity adds value to intellectual development, academic discourse, patient care and research. We believe that diversity is essential to the development of future leaders in healthcare and research to serve our community, nation and world.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the BUSM Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs.

Art Days 2017 Seeks Submissions

March 23rd, 2017 in Announcements, Featured

art_daysAll students, faculty and staff from all BUMC schools are encouraged to submit artwork of any medium to the 27th annual Boston University Medical Campus gallery for the arts, sponsored by the Provost’s Office.

“Art Days” was begun by then Dean Chobanian to foster the support and growth of the creative arts at BUMC. It has been very successful and has shown work from students, faculty and staff and family members. The exhibition is mounted by the Creative Arts Society.

To be placed on the “submit list” or if you have any questions please contact: Keith Tornheim, PhD, at 638-8296

On March 31, the Creative Arts Society will accept paintings, photos, poetry, sculpture, needlework, etc. Pieces should be framed if possible. Security will be provided. Works will be returned April 5. Specific instructions will be sent at a later date to those who email Dr. Tornheim.

ART DAYS 2017
Monday-Tuesday, April 3-4
Instructional Building, Hiebert Lounge
Receptions both days at 3 p.m.

BU Faculty Looks Warily at Trump’s Proposed Budget

March 21st, 2017 in Featured, Research

With strong bipartisan support for NIH funding, deep cuts unlikely to pass

President Donald Trump, with Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney on his right and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on his left, discusses the federal budget at the White House February 22. Olivier Douliery/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

President Donald Trump, with Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney on his right and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on his left, discusses the federal budget at the White House February 22. Olivier Douliery/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

During his election campaign, Donald Trump barely mentioned science, and what he did have to say about it—that climate change is a hoax, that he’d heard a lot about the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and it was terrible—was hardly encouraging to scientists. But despite low expectations, Trump’s 2018 budget blueprint, released last week, with sweeping cuts to medical research and public health programs (including $5.8 billion, or 18 percent, from the NIH), stunned researchers at Boston University and at research institutions across the country.

“The NIH cuts were what really caught people by surprise,” says Gloria Waters, vice president and associate provost for research. “Republicans have typically increased funding for the NIH. There was a lot of talk about how the NIH might even go up, as funding for other areas goes down, or ceases to exist. Funding for health research is typically a nonpartisan issue that all agree the government has got to be behind.”

“Like most scientists, I am terrified by the proposal,” says Neil Ganem, a School of Medicine assistant professor of pharmacology and experimental therapeutics, whose research in understanding how cells become cancerous opens up new avenues for treating cancer. A cut of nearly 20 percent to the NIH would be catastrophic, says Ganem.

“There would be fewer scientific breakthroughs, fewer clinical trials, less drug development. Citizens would suffer.”

However, he adds, he remains optimistic. “I truly believe that Congress will never let this budget proposal pass,” he says. “I think this budget will get blasted by many smart, responsible, and socially conscious politicians who understand the real value of science.”

Waters, and Jennifer Grodsky, vice president for federal relations, who closely tracks Congressional support for research funding as part of her job in advocating for BU faculty in Washington, agree that Ganem has a reason to be optimistic. “These cuts are unlikely to be enacted wholesale by Congress,” Grodsky wrote to administrators and faculty last week. “This is merely the first step in this year’s budget negotiations.”

“I truly believe that Congress will never let this budget proposal pass. I think this budget will get blasted by many smart, responsible, and socially conscious politicians who understand the real value of science.” —Neil Ganem

Trump’s budget blueprint is scant on details—it mentions no specific plans for the National Science Foundation (NSF), for example—and a more detailed proposal may be released as early as May, Grodsky says. (This budget, for fiscal year 2018, is separate from the current fiscal year 2017 budget, which remains in limbo until Congress completes work on its spending bills this spring.) There is strong bipartisan Congressional support for the NIH and medical research, she says, and it is unlikely that Trump’s deep cuts in those areas—part of the administration’s strategy for offsetting its proposed $54 billion increase in defense spending and paying to build a wall along the US-Mexico border—will be enacted.

Grodsky also believes that Trump’s proposed cuts to programs designed to make college more affordable, programs that have bipartisan support, are unlikely to come to fruition. The Trump blueprint eliminates Supplementary Education Opportunity Grants for low-income students, reduces the Federal Work-Study program significantly, and rescinds the $3.8 billion Pell Grant surplus. “Every Congressional office I visit puts college affordability and helping students at the top of their priority list,” says Grodsky. “I think legislators will reject any proposal that takes away resources for students in need.”

The funding priorities outlined in Trumps budget could have“direct impact on some of this country’s neediest college students,” says Christine McGuire, vice president ad interim for enrollment and student affairs, adding that BU students receive federal Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (commonly known as SEOG), and Federal Work-Study. “It is very early in the federal budget process,” she says. “But the University is concerned and is doing everything possible to mitigate the potential impact to our students.”

In fiscal year 2016, BU bucked the national trend of declining academic research funding and attracted $368.9 million in new research funding, an overall increase of 13 percent over the previous year. The federal government provided roughly $300 million—or nearly 82 percent—of that funding, with the biggest chunk coming from the NIH, which awarded BU faculty more than $200 million in grants, more than two thirds of the overall money.

“The thing we’ve said over and over is that the federal government is the largest funder of science,” Waters says.“Its not like there is anything in the wings that is going to replace that. Some people think industry can play a role, and we’re trying to increase our relationships with industry, but there is no way that is going to replace funding from the federal government. Some people think the university can pay for research, but we don’t have the funds to replace the money the federal government has put into research.”

Sabrina Reilly (CAS’19) (left) and Robert Reidy (CAS’19) using fluorescence microscopy to examine mouse brain slides in an Integrated Science Experience lab run by CAS instructor Brad DiBenedictis that joins organic chemistry and cell biology. Photo by Olivia Nadel (COM’17)

Sabrina Reilly (CAS’19) (left) and Robert Reidy (CAS’19) using fluorescence microscopy to examine mouse brain slides in an Integrated Science Experience lab run by CAS instructor Brad DiBenedictis that joins organic chemistry and cell biology. Photo by Olivia Nadel (COM’17)

Waters’ office is helping BU faculty increase their research funding by streamlining the grant application and fulfillment process and helping scientists form partnerships with industry and navigate the dizzyingly complex funding world of Washington. One way her office intends to respond to the budget blueprint, Waters says, is to intensify its efforts to aid faculty in securing research money.

Still, as she acknowledges, the budget blueprint can be viewed as a statement about Trump’s view of science, and researchers at BU and elsewhere have expressed fears that the blueprint threatens not just their work to improve human health, but the work of future generations of academic scientists.

“The proposed cuts to NIH research will significantly slow the pace of discovery,” says Daniel Remick, a MED professor of pathology and laboratory medicine. “The initiatives to understand and treat so many diseases—cancer, diabetes, substance abuse, Alzheimer’s disease—have just been told to slow down or stop.”

With reductions to federal funding in the past decade, it is already tough enough for Ganem and other researchers to win the grants that keep their labs afloat. Trump’s budget blueprint threatens “to make success as an academic researcher even more difficult to attain,” says  Catherine Klapperich, a College of Engineering professor of biomedical engineering and director of the Center for Future Technologies in Cancer Care. “It sends a message to young scientists that we do not value their work.”

Sandro Galea, Robert S. Knox Professor and dean of the School of Public Health, worries that “the biggest hit of this budget could be the reduction of opportunities for the next generation of public health scientists, who will see their options curtailed, and who may choose to take their talents to other industries.” He says that “we would face a lost generation from which it would take us decades to recover.”

For more than 20 years now, Boston has received the most NIH funding of any US city, according to the  Boston Planning and Development Agency. In 2015, 41 Boston institutions, including the BU Medical Campus, received more than $1.74 billion in NIH funding—or nearly 70 percent of all NIH funding to Massachusetts entities. “Any proposed cuts to NIH funding are not only bad for our local economy here in Massachusetts, but more important, would have devastating impacts for patients across the world,” says Bob Coughlin, president and chief executive officer of the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council. “Growth in research is what leads us to breakthrough therapies and much-needed cures for patients.”

“The NIH cuts were what really caught people by surprise… Funding for health research is typically a nonpartisan issue that all agree the government has got to be behind.” —Gloria Waters

If the deep cuts to NIH become a reality, Ganem says, “it would mean that hospitals, medical schools, and universities would immediately institute hiring freezes. Consequently, postdocs, unable to find academic jobs, would start accumulating and be forced into alternative career paths, many, I’m sure, outside of science. Jobs would be lost. The reality is that if principal investigators don’t get grants, then they don’t hire technicians, laboratory staff, and students; they also don’t buy reagents or services from local companies. There is a real trickle-down economic effect.”

In addition to the deep cuts to the NIH, the administration has also called for a reduction of $900 million, or 17 percent, to the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, and it would eliminate the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, which develops energy technologies that are too early in the development phase for private sector investment.

The Trump administration has also proposed increasing funding for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Planetary Science to $1.9 billion, or about 16 percent, while cutting its Earth Science program by $102 million, or about 5 percent.

“These are all proposed budget cuts, so until people’s funding gets taken away or entire programs actually get cut, we won’t know who or what projects will be affected,” says Pamela Templer, a College of Arts & Sciences professor of biology, whose research focuses on the impact of environmental change. “We’re all currently focused on the uncertainty.”

However, Templer adds, if the proposed budget were to be approved by Congress, it “would have a devastating effect on many aspects of science throughout the United States, with big hits on the environment and health. Clean water and air are not partisan issues. Maintaining a healthy environment benefits all Americans.”

For humanities scholars, who have been contending with threatened cuts in federal funding for many years, the budget blueprint brings yet more bad news. Trump has proposed eliminating the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), an independent federal agency that was created in 1965 and is one of the largest funders of humanities programs in the country, as well as eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).

“The NEH and NEA are crucial for supporting not only the scholarly or creative work of faculty in higher education, especially at BU,” says Gene A. Jarrett, CAS associate dean of the faculty, humanities, and a professor of English and African American studies, “but they also fund the programming outside of our academic walls, such as public libraries and museums, which advance the early education of children and the civic education of people living in our communities. Slashing the support of these endowments would undercut the robust educational apparatus, with its attention to the diverse and free expression of ideas, that has distinguished our civic society since the Congressional creation of these endowments in 1965.”

But Grodsky says she is skeptical that the NEH and NEA will be eliminated. “These are important cultural agencies, with strong champions on both sides of the aisle in Congress,” she says. “Democrats and Republicans have both already expressed concerns about the proposal.”

In the wake of the Trump election, she says, more BU faculty have begun expressing strong interest in becoming involved in advocacy efforts. “When scholars stand up for their research on Capitol Hill,” she says, “we know it makes a difference.”

This BU Today story was written by Sara Rimer.