By Lisa Brown

Visit East Boston with the Outreach Van Project

February 27th, 2017 in Featured

Every Thursday the Outreach Van Project (OVP), a group of first- and second-year medical students at BUSM, travels to East Boston to feed and care for the homeless population. The students unpack a van full of food, clothing and supplies, and distribute them throughout the night for anyone in need. They, along with a physician, also provide necessary medical care, and over the years have built a positive rapport with the clients. The students are there rain or shine, even on holidays, because they have become a reliable, consistent source of food and supplies for a population that desperately needs it.

One harsh December night, Gillian Smith, a videographer with the Communications Office accompanied the OVP. Under a single street light sat a maroon van with all of its doors propped open, inviting passersby to take something from inside. Outside the van stood half a dozen medical students, bundled up against single-digit temperature. With plastic gloves pulled over their winter ones, they scooped hot food into clear containers and handed it to a line of people waiting on the sidewalk.

The OVP was established in 1997 by the students to provide basic necessities to clientele in East Boston, where 20 percent of the population and 25 percent of children live below the poverty line. More than 1,400 people are served annually through this project.

Tips for Staying Safe in Vehicles for Hire

February 8th, 2017 in Featured

Do you know how to stay safe when using Uber, Lyft, taxi cabs or livery vehicles?  The Boston Police Department has created a safety tip sheet on ways to say safe when using vehicles for hire.  Please review the safety tips at

Students Distribute Mittens to Homeless During Annual Census

January 27th, 2017 in Featured

On Wednesday, Jan. 25, as BUSM students joined more than 300 volunteers across the city to gather data of the number of people living on the streets with the hopes of connecting them with shelters and clinics, they brought with them a special message of compassion in the form of hand-sewn mittens.

The mittens they distributed were a donation from BUMC Associate Provost Thomas Moore, MD.


The array of mittens from unused sweaters!

“An awful lot of people who are homeless, but for a couple of bad decisions or bad breaks, would have had apartments in the South End,” Moore said. “They aren’t different from a lot of us.”

Moore was inspired to create something for the students to give to homeless they met during the census-taking process so the experience would be more of a bilateral exchange.

“I thought, ‘What can I do that would make any difference?’” Moore said. “The mittens are easy for me to do, so what the heck.”

Moore asked friends for any old or unused sweaters. He felted the sweaters, a process which involves putting the sweaters through a washing machine to change their texture, and followed a three-part pattern to design and sew the mittens together.

COM_we care about you mitten

Each mitten had a message attached to it.

“If all goes well, it takes about 45 minutes to do a pair,” he said.

The mitten project began during Intersession, and he finished his last pair a week before the census.

“Almost all of the materials were donated from friends,” he said. “I set an original goal of 25 pairs, but had enough material to keep going, so I ended up making 35.”

On each pair Moore pinned a tag that had a Boston University sticker on one side and on the other a message that said simply, “We care about you.”

Campus Celebrates Legacy of MLK with Kenn Elmore

January 20th, 2017 in Featured

MLK-Cele _1460

To celebrate the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, more than 100 members of the medical campus community gathered in the Hiebert Lounge on Thursday, Jan. 20, to hear BU’s Associate Provost and Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore, JD.

The event opened with audio of Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Elmore began by sharing that his speech was going to be very personal. “I never would have dreamed to be in a position where I get to honor Dr. King. That is something in which my parents take incredible pride.” noted. He explained that his mother was brought to tears when she found out he would be speaking about MLK because “a lot of people fought very hard” to give him such an incredible opportunity.

His remarks, “On the Way We Go: Chaos or Community?” were based on a book by King with a similar title, Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? “I’m one of those people who thinks a little chaos and a little community can do well by us now,” he confessed. Elmore noted that King felt “Power without love is reckless and abusive; and love without power is sentimental and anemic.” He explained that this sentiment might characterize our national climate over the past few years – including issues such as war, underprivileged schools, lack of the middle class, etc. After the tragic 2016 shootings in Dallas, Elmore reached the crossroad of chaos and community. He reengaged with people in different ways and reevaluated what his “bubbles” were.

He reflected on his past and shared the refrain of a church song from his youth that especially spoke to him, “Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me around…I’m gonna keep on walking, keep on talking, marching up to freedom land.” The song was part of his youth and was sung to by his congregation to members when they were about to take a significant step in their lives. It was sung to Elmore when he left for college and it stuck with him. The song reminded him of the freedom riders of the civil rights movement, and he realized he could not live ahistorically. When he “saw with history in mind,” he saw all the people that tried to help move the country forward.

Elmore’s speech was followed by a musical interlude with Margaret Lee, MD, PhD, assistant professor of Dermatology, and Moisès Fernández Via, Founding Director of Arts | Lab @ Med Campus, and an energetic town hall discussion. Along with Elmore, Associate Dean of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs Rafael Ortega, MD, and Jonathan Woodson, Faculty Director at the BU Institute for Health System Innovation, facilitated a discussion that allowed the community to voice their concerns and questions. The event provided support and reflection on the eve of Inauguration Day.

To view more photos from the event, visit our Facebook album.

The event was sponsored by BUSM Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs in collaboration with the BMC Human Resources Department, Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine Office of Diversity, BU School of Public Health and the BMC Minority Recruitment Program. To view the event, click here. For optimal viewing, please view in Firefox, Chrome, or Safari browsers.


Jan. 26 Visiting Professor Lecture: Optimal Structure of Basic Sciences at AMCs

January 20th, 2017 in Featured, Research

“Optimal Structure of the Basic Sciences at Competitive University Academic Medical Centers”

Arthur Palmer, PhDArthur G. Palmer, PhD
Visiting Professor

Associate Dean, Graduate Affairs; Robert Wood Johnson, Jr. Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics; Vice Chair, Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics; Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons

Dr. Palmer’s research interests include:
• Structure, function and dynamics of proteins and protein complexes
• NMR spectroscopy of biological macromolecules
• Molecular dynamics simulations of biological systems
• Fluorescence spectroscopy of biological systems

Thursday, Jan. 26
9-10 a.m.
Instructional Building, Hiebert Lounge

Coffee and tea reception to follow

Feb. 15 Deadline NIH (S10) Shared Instrumentation Grants

January 20th, 2017 in Announcements, Featured, Research

Feb. 15 Deadline NIH (S10) Shared Instrumentation Grants

The internal deadline for 2017 Shared Instrumentation Grants pre-submission applications is Wednesday, Feb.15.

An internal review is needed because while there is no limit to the number of S10 applications submitted, there is a limit of one application from the University for the same type of instrument. The NIH deadline for the S10 grants is 5 p.m. on May 31.

Please go to Shared Instrumentation Grant Program to complete the forms for the internal review.

Below are the SIG program announcements and online applications:

Questions? E-mail the Office of Associate Dean For Research at

Legalized Marijuana: What You Need to Know

December 15th, 2016 in Featured

Public use, smoking under age 21 still illegal

Growing marijuana is the only way to legally obtain it in Massachusetts until retailers, which must be licensed by the commonwealth, are allowed to open in 2018 under the just-passed law. Photo by Flickr Contributor Katheirne Hitt

Growing marijuana is the only way to legally obtain it in Massachusetts until retailers, which must be licensed by the commonwealth, are allowed to open in 2018 under the just-passed law. Photo by Flickr Contributor Katheirne Hitt

The legalization in Massachusetts of recreational marijuana use, starting December 15, doesn’t mean that every Terrier will now be able to light up. And for those who can, smoking pot on campus, including in dorms rooms, will still be illegal.

While the ballot initiative passed by voters last month allows legal use for those 21 and older, it continues the ban on public pot smoking. Because colleges receive federal money and are bound by federal law, which still prohibits marijuana possession and use, using the drug on campuses remains forbidden for both students and nonstudents.

“The enforcement policy will continue for those under 21 and for smoking in public,” says Scott Paré, acting chief of the BU Police Department. “The use, possession, distribution, or cultivation of marijuana for recreational or medical purposes is not allowed in any Boston University residence hall or on any other Boston University premises. Nor is it allowed at any University-sponsored event or activity off campus or at any student organization event or activity.”

Violators may face “civil citation, state or federal prosecution, and University discipline,” Paré adds.

Adults who can use legally, off campus, under the law are limited to possessing one ounce of dried pot or 5 grams of concentrated substance on their person, with another 9 ounces permitted in their primary residence, for a total of 10 ounces permissible at home. Adults can grow up to 6 plants individually, or 12 plants per household when more than one adult lives in the home. Massachusetts law also prohibits driving under the influence of marijuana.

The law will create a “legal gray zone,” in the Boston Globe’s words: while possession, purchase, and use will be legal as of December 15, retail stores selling pot cannot open until January 1, 2018. Nor can you bring marijuana in from other states, including the five states besides Massachusetts that have legalized recreational pot, says Seth Blumenthal, a BU Writing Program lecturer who teaches courses on marijuana law and endorsed the ballot initiative.

Bottom line for adults off campus: “Growing is the only legal way to get it when the law goes into effect,” says Blumenthal (GRS’13). “There are several regulations to growing: how much, where, and what you can do with it after, so that is something people should look at very carefully first.”

On the other hand, the law may affect fewer Terriers than many people think.

“There is a misperception on campus that marijuana use is common among BU students,” says Katharine Mooney (SPH’12), director of Student Health Services (SHS) Wellness & Prevention. In fact, a recent randomized survey revealed that 82 percent of students either have never used marijuana or hadn’t used it in the previous month, she says.

According to BUPD statistics, 61 students have received civil citations for marijuana use in the last three years.

Because federal law still makes marijuana illegal, “traveling out of the state with pot could bring in federal prosecution” for users, “especially on airplanes,” Blumenthal says. “The federal government has cracked down on some rogue dispensaries or growing operations, but nothing much on the user level. I would also point out possible implications of pot use for some international students and their federal status.”

Legalities aside, there are health reasons to dissuade younger people from pot. “Research has consistently shown that brain development of marijuana users who start young is different from those who start after the brain is fully developed”—around the age of 25, says Leah Barison, an SHS wellness counselor. Adolescent brains are “uniquely sensitive” to pot’s effects, Barison says, particularly in the hippocampus, which controls memory, the cerebellum (regulating coordination and muscle control), the basal ganglia (learning and motor skills), the amygdala (emotions), and the cerebral cortex (thinking).

“In the short term,” she says, “effects on these brain areas can impact memory, judgment, perception, and coordination, which, for our students, may mean impaired learning, lower sports performance, and impaired judgment, leading to altered decision-making.” Long-term consequences could be “poor attention, reduced processing speed, reduced memory, and lower IQ.”

This BU Today story was written by Rich Barlow. He can be reached at

New Degree Program Focuses on Health Sciences Education

December 8th, 2016 in Featured

Jeffrey Markuns, MD, EdM

Jeffrey Markuns

This October, a new program – the Master’s of Science in Health Sciences Education (MSHSE) – was unanimously approved by BU School of Medicine, the University Council Committee on Graduate Programs and Policies and the University Council. The program is offered through the Division of Graduate Medical Sciences (GMS), in collaboration with the School of Education (SED); Jeffrey Markuns, MD, EdM, assistant professor of Family Medicine serves as Program Director. Recruitment is underway for the inaugural class, who will matriculate in fall 2017. For more information, go to

The program offers those with degrees in nursing, medicine and other health-related areas an opportunity to pursue graduate studies in medical education. The MSHSE provides training in the principles of education and teaching that are applicable and adaptable to a specific health sciences discipline. It is designed to improve teaching skills and other aspects of health sciences education to help students advance their careers.

“This program will educate and train faculty from all the health professional fields who are committed to establishing themselves as master educators,” said Markuns. “The broad range of required courses along with a mentored practicum will produce world-class faculty in health sciences education.”

A certificate option is available for those with limited time and resources or who already have a strong background in general education, as well as the part- and full-time options to pursue the Master’s degree The certificate and Master’s degree options are available for the tuition remission benefit for eligible BU faculty and staff The program is expected to be initiated on campus in the classroom, but then students will be able to pursue a schedule that allows for part-time participation. Practicum based, it is designed for students to apply new skills from their studies directly to issues they already are seeking to tackle in their daily work.

The MSHSE provides numerous benefits to the University:

  • It provides an opportunity for those faculty interested in developing additional skills in teaching and education to pursue an advanced degree directly relevant to their daily work using BU tuition remission.
  • The program raises the profile of educational faculty throughout BU and creates new partnerships with educators from throughout the institution.
  • With an eye towards additional distance-learning options, the MSHSE offers faculty development mechanisms for internationalteachers in the health sciences from institutions around the world.


The Certificate and Master’s in Health Sciences Education are offered through the Division of Graduate Medical Sciences (GMS), in collaboration with the School of Education (SED), plus electives offered in the Schools of Medicine and Public Health

  • Strong focus on practical skills application
  • Core courses emphasizing curriculum development, research, evaluation, and teaching
  • Robust practicum experience personalized for specific career goals
  • Support and mentorship

Study Finds that School Shootings Less Likely in States with Background Checks

December 7th, 2016 in Featured

In a bid to address gun violence, researchers from Boston University Schools of Medicine and Public Health and Columbia School of Law drew analysis of media coverage of school shootings between 2013 and 2015 to see if the frequency of these events could be linked to state-level factors.

The study, led by Assistant Professor of Medicine Bindu Kalesan, PhD, MPH, found that school shootings are less likely in U.S. states with mandatory background checks on gun and ammunition purchases and with higher levels of spending on mental health services and public education.

Although this was an observation study without information on the perpetrators’ mental health, Kalesan notes “Our results may have a direct implication for public health approach to gun violence prevention and emphasizes the need for a national surveillance registry of mass shootings and school shootings with retrospective and prospective information to be a priority to better inform studies that consider the drivers and consequences of school shootings.”

Incidents of school shootings between 2013 and 2015

Incidents of school
shootings between 2013 and 2015

Read the full study here.

Nov. 1 Employee Wellness Fair

October 27th, 2016 in Announcements, Featured

Learn More and Schedule a Screening
COM Wellness 2016