The recipients of the CTSI pilot grants for 2014 have been announced...
By Lisa Brown
Boston University researchers have learned new information about the consequences of overeating high-calorie foods. Not only does this lead to an increase in white fat cell production, the type prominent in obesity, but it also leads to the dysfunction of brown fat cells, the unique type of fat that generates heat and burns energy.
This study is the first to describe how overeating causes brown fat cells to “whiten.” Published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, the results illustrate the important role that a healthy diet plays in overall health and the pivotal role that brown fat plays in metabolism.
Using experimental models, the researchers demonstrate that over-nutrition leads to a cellular signaling dysfunction that causes brown fat cells to lose neighboring blood vessels, depriving the cells of oxygen. In turn, this causes the brown fat cells to lose their mitochondria, which leads to their inability to burn fatty acids and produce heat. This collapse can have far-reaching effects on the development of metabolic conditions, such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease.
“If we go back to when humans were hunter-gatherers, days could pass between when they could eat, so it was a survival advantage to be able to store excess energy in white fat cells,” said Kenneth Walsh, PhD, director of the Whitaker Cardiovascular Institute at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and the study’s senior author. “What served us so well as primitive organisms is now hurting us because we have a continuous food supply and are accumulating too many white fat cells.”
The study results highlight the important relationship between fat tissue and the cardiovascular system and indicates that the cardiovascular risk factors, such as hypertension and high cholesterol that contribute to blood vessel damage, could also lead to the dysfunction of brown fat cells.
“In addition to the expansion of white fat cells, our study shows that overeating causes brown fat cells to get locked into a death spiral, leading to their ultimate dysfunction,” said Walsh, who also is professor of medicine at BUSM. “More research needs to focus on whether stopping these activities from happening in brown fat cells could help combat obesity.”
This study was led by Ippei Shimizu, MD, PhD, an instructor of medicine in the Whitaker Cardiovascular Institute. Funding for this study was provided in part by the National Institutes of Health under grant award numbers HL081587, HL68758, AG034972, HL116591 and HL120160.
Projects will increase academic flexibility, raise global signature
Geography and time are playing less of a role than they once did in higher education, and the Digital Learning Initiative’s first seed grants for online innovation are taking full advantage of the trend.
Thanks to these EdTech grants, medical professionals will soon earn microcredits for skills they didn’t have time to learn in their graduate school years. Dozens of Chinese graduate students will attend orientation before, not after, they arrive in Boston. Students of Korean, Hindi, and Urdu will be able to access grammar lessons on their smartphones, and undergraduates considering study abroad will get a firsthand view of life in Italy, Spain, and England before they get on a plane.
“Education is a process that prepares people for success and happiness in life,” says Chris Dellarocas, director of the DLI, which develops BU’s MOOCs (massive open online courses) and which awarded the University’s first EdTech grants last semester. “Every single dimension of this process has room for innovation and improvements through technology. BU needs to be on the forefront of innovation on all those dimensions.”
BU’s Council on Educational Technology & Learning Innovation (CETLI), which established the DLI last year, sent out the first call for distance learning proposals last spring to gather ideas from faculty and staff. Applicants were asked to consider three focus areas: expanding academic flexibility for University students, leveraging assets unique to BU, and supporting or extending BU’s global signature. Since choosing the awardees late last fall, Dellarocas, who is also a School of Management professor of information systems, DLI associate director Romy Ruukel, and members of a selection committee have been working with faculty and staff to develop their visions.
EdTech grants provide faculty with an opportunity to develop ideas that are out of the box or that push the envelope beyond traditional education methods, says CETLI cochair Azer Bestavros a College of Arts & Sciences professor of computer science and director of the Rafik B. Hariri Institute for Computing and Computational Science & Engineering. Bestavros says online technology encourages “flexibility on both sides: for the teacher to try pedagogies that are impossible to do face-to-face…and for students to be flexible about when and where they take courses.”
Faculty at the College of Communication were among those who welcomed the grant announcement. For the past five years, COM has seen a steady increase in the number of Chinese graduate students applying to its programs, quadrupling from 10 registered students in 2009 to 44 in 2013. The faculty welcomed the students, but saw that many struggled with the cultural nuances or classroom expectations taken for granted by native-born colleagues.
“We felt that we have an obligation to do all we can within reason to ensure success,” says Stephen Quigley, a COM associate professor of public relations. Along with Micha Sabovik (COM’96,’06), a COM assistant dean, Quigley is co–principal investigator of the college’s seed grant. “We saw this as an amazing opportunity to erase the geography” and facilitate Chinese graduate students’ transition to BU, he says.
COM will use its EdTech grant to pilot a series of summer online workshops and a weekly webinar that give entering Chinese graduate students an opportunity to ask questions about anything from culture and the English language to internships and professions. When they arrive in the fall, students will attend monthly seminars that focus on English writing and speaking. Current students and alumni from China will help faculty plan and present material. The experience is free and is optional for this year’s incoming class, but Quigley says it could someday become a two-credit course.
Gail March (CFA’73), a School of Medicine assistant professor and director of instructional design and faculty development, proposed the creation of the BUSM+ Medical Education Badge Program. The EdTech program would award digital badges—similar to Boy Scout and Girl Scout merit badges—to medical professionals who complete up to 10 online sessions covering lifelong learning skills. Enrollees would display their badges in electronic portfolios, CVs, or on social media sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook.
March’s pilot course, Teaching and Learning, will be available in October, and she envisions three more courses—Curriculum Design, Academic Leadership, and Medical Education Research—covering skills, she says, that medical students and professionals want to learn, but often don’t have time to pursue in traditional classes.
Gisela Hoecherl-Alden, a CAS assistant dean, director of language instruction, and a professor of the professional practice in German, will use her EdTech grant to reimagine how languages can be taught online. “Up until now, there’s been no real technology platform to replicate what we do in a classroom,” she says.
Working with an Information Services & Technology team, Hoecherl-Alden plans to identify software that facilitates oral and written instruction in a virtual classroom, with enrollment held to a maximum of 16 students. Beginner Korean, Hindi, and Urdu will be the trial courses, but Hoecherl-Alden believes many others could follow once the technology is perfected. Fall classes will feature some online segments, and—if the template works well—spring classes might be fully online. The EdTech project will allow more students from around Boston, and around the globe, to access the University’s language courses.
“Once the beginning levels have usable templates,” she says, “it will be much easier to move advanced courses online.”
Willis Wang, vice president and associate provost for global programs, and his team of Charles River Campus and international colleagues will use their EdTech grant to develop online courses that enhance study abroad students’ predeparture preparation, in-country experience, and reentry to the United States.
Using technology that will be available as early as spring 2015, the courses will also provide students with a “platform to reflect on what they’ve learned and measure it,” Wang says.
Ruukel points out that each of the projects is still an experiment. “We want them to be successful experiments,” she says, “but they can also be a proof of concept.” She says the COM course could someday become required curriculum for Chinese graduate students, or serve as a template for other schools and colleges welcoming international students into their degree programs.
Dellarocas and Ruukel are now sorting through the second round of EdTech grant proposals, which have a new set of focus areas: potential MOOCs, how to enhance the residential experience, and how to reduce the cost of a BU education or increase the University’s revenue stream.
Although the latest round of grants was officially due by January 31, Dellarocas says, “if people really have some ideas and they have a burning desire to implement them, they can approach us at any time.”
All Medical Campus students, faculty and staff are encouraged to share their thoughts in an anonymous survey regarding the University’s engagement with its international student population.
BU’s success in attracting students from diverse backgrounds and around the world has brought a renewed set of challenges and opportunities for self-evaluation and development of the university as a vibrant and fully international global learning community.
Please assist by suggesting the next steps the University can take to support the academic and social engagement of international students while educating all BU graduates for success in today’s global society.
A newly convened Provost’s ad hoc Committee on International Student Experiences and Institutional Impacts requests input and advice from all faculty, staff, and students. The Committee has set up a website http://www.bu.edu/provost/initiatives/iseii/ for anonymous responses to the following questions:
How has the presence of a large international student population affected your work and experience at Boston University?
- Please specify the challenges and suggest opportunities for BU to improve the academic success of a growing international student population.
- Please specify the challenges and suggest opportunities for BU to improve social interactions/dynamics, mutual understanding, and learning opportunities within its diverse student population.
- Please specify the challenges and suggest opportunities for BU to improve support to faculty and staff who work with international students.
- Please describe efforts or success stories related to international students that you would recommend or suggest as best practices, and identify experts or resources of which the Provost’s Committee should be aware.
- Other comments
- Please indicate your BU affiliation: undergraduate student, graduate student, other student, faculty, staff, research staff, other ___________.
- Please indicate your US citizenship status: US citizen, US permanent resident, foreign national (non-US citizen/non-US permanent resident.
In an effort to promote wellness, BU Human Resources is hosting a Wellness Fair on the Medical Campus for faculty and staff. In addition to cardiac screenings there are a wide range of wellness offerings.
Highlights of the fair include:
- Private cardiac screening sessions (Registration required)
- 20 min fitness workshops and cooking demonstrations (Registration required)
- Chair massages, Skin analysis for sun damage, Glaucoma screenings and ergonomics demonstrations
- Select Departments and Schools of BU will provide information on their services
- Healthy refreshments and raffle prizes, including iPad minis
The Wellness Fair is presented in collaboration with Blue Cross Blue Shield. A representative will be available with information on health and dental plans.
BU Medical Campus Faculty & Staff Wellness Fair
- Tuesday, March 25, 11 a.m.- 3 p.m.
- BUSM Instructional Building, Hiebert Lounge
Faculty and staff unable to attend this event may choose to participate in Wellness Fairs on the Charles River Campus.
BU Charles River Campus Faculty and Staff Wellness Fairs
- Monday, April 7, 12:30-5 p.m. and Tuesday, April 8, 10 a.m.- 2 p.m.
- Fitness & Recreation Center, 915 Commonwealth Ave., Court 1 Upstairs Gym
Continuing his illumination of Boston University School of Medicine history, Doug Hughes, MD, associate dean for academic affairs, gave a presentation on Charles Eastman, MD, an 1890 graduate of BUSM and the first Native American to graduate from a medical school in the US. Hughes’ talk, titled “Oheyisha, Charles Eastman, MD, BUSM Alumnus: Tale of a man and of our school,” was hosted on March 17 by the BUSM Historical Society. He focused on the historical forces affecting Eastman’s early years and the School of Medicine’s tradition of accepting students regardless of race, creed, or gender noting for example that the first African-American woman to graduate from a medical school was Rebecca Lee Crumpler of the BUSM class of 1864.
Hughes’ “campaign” to bring important BUSM historical events and individuals and their contributions appears to be bearing fruit. Room L-112 was filled to capacity with faculty, staff and students where they learned that Oheyisha, Eastman’s birth name, was born in 1858 to the Sioux Nation in Minnesota. His early years were characterized by conflicts between the Sioux and the U.S. government including the battle of the Little Big Horn.
An 1887 graduate of Dartmouth College, Eastman came to BUSM where according to Hughes he thrived, eventually being chosen by his classmates as the class speaker. Shortly after Eastman returned to the west to the Pine Ridge Reservation in the Dakotas to bring medical care to his people, the attack on the Sioux at Wounded Knee took place. Eastman, with only a few months experience as a physician, and his wife cared for many of the wounded, which Hughes noted of the 51 in his care 44 survived.
“Eastman’s physician skills must have been excellent, to have saved so many lives under such dire circumstances is remarkable,” said Hughes. During his life, Eastman wrote a number of books and contributed articles to magazines, reviews, and encyclopedias.
Hughes also announced that a framed photograph of Dr. Eastman and framed monograph about him will be hung on the history wall in the first floor of the Instructional Building. The purchase of the hand crafted frames was made possible by a generous donation from Rafael Ortega, MD, associate dean for diversity and multicultural affairs and professor of anesthesiology.
The mission of the BUSM Historical Society is to expose students and the community to the rich history of the School, Boston Medical Center, medicine in Boston, and the medical profession, in general.
Six School of Medicine faculty members, whose areas of expertise range from post-traumatic stress disorder, fetal alcohol syndrome, and pediatric development to cardiovascular disease, traumatic brain injuries, and cardiothoracic surgery, have been promoted to the rank of full professor.
“We are delighted to recognize the accomplishments of these exceptional senior faculty,” says Karen Antman, dean of MED and provost of the Medical Campus. “The vigorous promotions process requires national and international recognition of a faculty member’s contributions.”
Antman says faculty promotions are awarded for the quality of both laboratory research and classroom scholarship.
Denise Sloan, formerly an associate professor of psychiatry, has been promoted to full professor. Sloan is researching more efficient ways to treat post-traumatic stress disorder. “We do have effective treatments for PTSD,” she says, “but they are typically quite time-consuming, with at least 12 one-hour sessions, and they require intensive training for therapists.”
Sloan is intrigued by the resilience of some people in the face of a traumatic event, while others develop PTSD. She believes a better understanding of that difference will inform PTSD treatment approaches.
She points to “the limited number of women at this academic rank,” saying she finds mentoring students extremely rewarding. “I have had outstanding mentors throughout my career, and I view mentorship as my chance to give back to the next generation of clinical scientists. I am particularly committed to encouraging more women to pursue academic careers.”
Sloan is the associate director of education, Behavioral Science Division, National Center for PTSD, at the VA Boston Healthcare System. She is the associate editor of Behavior Therapy and is on the editorial boards of five other scientific journals, including, Behaviour Research and Therapy, Journal of Abnormal Psychology, and Psychosomatic Medicine. Her research has received funding from several organizations, among them the National Institute of Mental Health and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Rhoda Au (GSM’95), formerly a research professor of neurology, has been promoted to full professor. Au, an internationally recognized leader in neuropsychology research in cognition, has directed the collection, interpretation, and publication of neurocognitive performance of Framingham Heart Study subjects for two decades. By integrating digital technology into the evaluation process analyzing brain MRI images, she has developed novel cognitive biomarkers, new scoring methods, and standardization of cognitive measures correlated to vascular risk factors. Au, who is taking a leadership role in the study of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, has been a consultant to China’s Ministry of Science and Technology, advising on a national plan for research on Alzheimer’s disease. She is currently exploring collaborations for the study of nutritional variables involved in brain function and cognition.
Marilyn Augustyn, previously an associate professor of pediatrics, who developed an online training document for Boston Medical Center’s Reach Out and Read program, has been promoted to full professor of pediatrics and division chief of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics. Her curriculum, which has won international awards, is the core of a training program offered in multiple venues on DVD and as an online CME course.
Michael E. Charness, chief of staff at the VA Boston Healthcare System, has been promoted to full professor of neurology from associate professor. Charness is an expert on the neurotoxicity of alcohol and has defined some of the molecular changes that occur in fetal alcohol syndrome. He developed the first cell culture models to study alcohol’s effects on neural signaling and demonstrated molecular adaptations associated with chronic alcohol exposure. Charness codeveloped and codirects The Other Side of the Bed, an innovative interdisciplinary training program that allows medical students to work as health techs and nurses aides at the West Roxbury Campus of the VA Boston the summer after their first year. The program has been adopted by other VA-medical school affiliations around the country. Charness is scientific director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Collaborative Initiative on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders.
Hiran Fernando, a nationally recognized leader in thoracic surgery, has been promoted to full professor of surgery and division chief of cardiothoracic surgery. Fernando, who was formerly an associate professor of surgery, is known for developing new surgical procedures and for leadership in clinical trials and protocol development. His research focuses on minimally invasive CT surgery, including esophagectomy, treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease, thermal ablation for lung cancer, and robotic surgery.
Olga Gursky, director of the department of physiology and biophysics Spectroscopy and Bio-Calorimetry Core Facilities, has been promoted from associate professor to full professor of physiology and biophysics. Gursky leads a research program on the structure-function relationships involved in lipid transport that underlie cardiovascular disease. A highly regarded teacher who developed and teaches a major component of the core graduate level course Foundations of Biophysics and Structural Biology, she has led the Special Topics/Student Seminar, both mandatory components of the Physiology and Biophysics Graduate Training Program. She is a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Lipid Research and a peer reviewer for the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the American Heart Association study sections.
In addition to those promoted above, two medical experts have joined the School of Medicine faculty as full professors.
Jeffrey Miller, who comes to BU from the Boston Biomedical Research Institute, is a full professor of neurology and of physiology and biophysics. He and his colleagues hope to develop new therapies for currently untreatable muscle diseases. By identifying the molecular changes that cause the loss of muscle function, and then testing methods to restore those pathways to normal, Miller’s lab focuses on finding novel treatment targets or ways to prevent neuromuscular disorders.
“BU provides an excellent combination of intellectual depth, collaborative environment, and support for research,” he says. “I hope that we will contribute to BU’s research excellence.”
Before joining MED, Miller was an associate professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School.
Hemant Roy is a full professor of gastroenterology as well as chief of the section of gastroenterology at Boston Medical Center. Before coming to BU, Roy was a clinical associate professor at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine. He is noted for fostering collaboration between basic scientists and clinicians on the development of noninvasive screening tools for gastrointestinal cancer. Roy’s research focuses on cancer risk stratification and prevention using new approaches to cancer screening, such as optical sensing of tissue to detect colon, lung, and ovarian cancers. He recently completed a National Cancer Institute investigator-initiated Phase 2b grant on the ability to predict the outcome of chemoprevention therapy.
Tomorrow BU Today will publish a story about Charles River Campus faculty promoted to full professor.
Kira Jastive can be reached at email@example.com.
In fall 2013 Boston Medical Center announced plans to redesign its clinical footprint and consolidate inpatient operations to the west side (Menino Pavilion) of campus. This multi-year redesign project will feature a number of improvements including an expanded Emergency Department (ED) unified with Urgent Care and with a separate Behavioral Health area; a consolidated state-of-the-art Radiology Department next to the ED; centralized, modernized Operating Rooms; a new women’s and children’s facility in the Yawkey Ambulatory Care Center; Intensive Care Units in one location; and a new bridge to transport helipad patients to the ED. As part of the redesign, patient services will be transitioned out of Newton Pavilion in 2017.
The month of March will bring much construction activity to the campus and will result in wayfinding changes.
March 17: Alperin Garden Closes
The Alperin Garden located next to the Moakley Building will close, enabling the start of the Moakley addition construction.
Week of March 17: E. Concord Street MBTA Bus Stop Moves
During the week of March 17, the bus stop on E. Concord Street will move 50 yards north of its current location in order to enable construction to begin on the addition to the Moakley Building. Several parking meters will be removed from the street to accommodate the new bus stop location. Pedestrian access will be redirected and new crosswalks will be paved.
This move was originally scheduled for March 14, but has been delayed pending city and state regulatory approval.
March 21: BMC Occupational and Environmental Medicine Moves
On Friday, March 21, BMC’s Occupational and Environmental Medicine Clinic will move from Yawkey Ambulatory Care Center 1 to Doctors Office Building 7. The office will close at noon that day in preparation for the move and reopen Monday, March 24, in its new space for normal business hours. The department’s phone numbers will remain the same. Patients have been notified of the move and campus signage will be updated to reflect the new location. Please direct questions about the move to 638-4144.
March 22: Emergency Department Walk-In Entrance Relocates to Harrison Avenue
At 5 a.m. Saturday, March 22, the walk-in entrance to the Emergency Department will relocate from Albany Street to the main entrance of the Menino Pavilion on Harrison Avenue. From this date forward all patients, staff and visitors will only be able to enter the Menino Pavilion from Harrison Avenue.
If you have questions or concerns about construction activity, such as noise, report them to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 638-4144. Emailed questions will be responded to the same day.
Every year the Federation of American Societies of Experimental Biologists (FASEB) brings scientists to Washington DC as part of Capitol Hill Day. Scientists from across the country meet with Congressional staff to discuss the importance of federal research funding. On March 5, 2014 scientists from 21 states met with their representatives. FASEB’s specific recommendations for funding included $32 billion for the National Institutes of Health and $7.6 billion for the National Science Foundation. The $32 billion recommendation for NIH funding represents fewer actual dollars (not inflation adjusted dollars) compared to 2010. More information about federal funding for basic science research is available on the FASEB website.
Three scientists from Boston University formed the State of Massachusetts delegation for Capitol Hill Day: Shoumita Dasgupta, PhD, Department of Medicine, Biomedical Genetics Section; Daniel Remick, MD, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine; and Douglas Rosene, PhD, Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology. They were escorted by Joseph McInerney, Executive Vice President, American Society of Human Genetics. The group visited the offices of Senators Warren and Markey as well as Representatives Tierney and Kennedy.
At each office the group gave specific information about how reduced funding for science was having multiple negative impacts. Individual stories were told including:
- Scientists no longer doing research because of lack of funding.
- Increased scientific publications from other countries in the Journal of Immunology compared to publications from the United States.
- International genomic sequencing initiatives (e.g. Beijing Genomics Institute) surpassing efforts at the NIH.
- Loss of funding for the Framingham Heart studies and missing a generation of data.
- Decreased funding resulting in fewer experiments to examine the devastating effects of aging. These studies require a long term, consistent commitment since aging takes place over decades and it is difficult to start and stop science.
All of the staff assured the delegation that the senators and representatives were highly supportive of increased funding for basic science research. Each agreed to submit programmatic requests to the budget committees. This will ensure that funding for basic science will be considered as an integral part of the budget process and not as a separate earmark. They also agreed to sign a “Dear Colleague” letter to be circulated to other senators and representatives advocating increased funding for NIH research. On behalf of Provost Antman, the Boston University faculty invited Massachusetts senators, representatives and their staff to come and visit the basic science labs at Boston University, and thanked them for their continued support.
BUSM has established a new endowed professorship, the Aubrey Milunsky Professor of Human Genetics. Faculty, staff and students are invited to attend the following lectures related to this opportunity.
March 11, 11 a.m.-noon, L-110
“Adam and Eve seek NextGen sequencing and functional variant analysis”
Harry Ostrer, MD, Professor of Pathology, Genetics, and Pediatrics, Albert Einstein College of Medicine
March 13, 11 a.m.-noon, L-110
“Genetic alterations in CARD14 in inflammatory diseases of the skin and joints: A paradigm for complex disease genetics?”
Anne Bowcock, PhD, Imperial College, London, UK
March 14, 11 a.m.-noon, L-110
“Blueprint for the genetic architecture of Alzheimer Disease: Combine big data, multidisciplinary science, and smart thinking”
Lindsay Farrer, PhD, Chief, Biomedical Genetics section, Professor, Medicine, Neurology, Ophthalmology, Epidemiology, and Biostatistics, BU Schools of Medicine and Public Health
March 26, 11 a.m.-noon, L-112
“Genetics and epigenetic markers of psychiatric conditions”
Edwin van den Oord, PhD, Professor and Director Center for Biomedical Research and Personalized Medicine, Virginia Commonwealth University
March 27, 11 a.m.-noon, L-110
“Mineralized tissue development, disease and regeneration using zebrafish and tissue engineering approaches”
Pamela Yelick, PhD, Professor, Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology, Tufts University School of Medicine
Submissions due Friday, March 28
Exhibit: Monday-Tuesday, March 31-April 1
BUSM Instructional Building, 14th Floor Hiebert Lounge
All students, faculty and staff at the Boston University Medical Campus are encouraged to submit artwork of any medium to the 24th annual “Art Days”, founded by former BUSM Dean Aram Chobanian to foster the support and growth of the creative arts at BUMC. The exhibition is mounted by the Creative Arts Society. See images from Art Days 2013
This is the third year of a university-wide arts initiative with an annual keyword to be used as a thematic organizer for various courses and events. The Keyword for this year is “transformation”. Transformation is marked by metamorphosis or a process of profound or radical change. See http://www.bu.edu/cfa/about/initiatives/keyword/. While there may be a special section at Art Days for display of works addressing transformation, it is also fine to submit work not related to the keyword.
Submissions are due Friday, March 28. Paintings, photos, poetry, sculpture, needlework, etc. will be accepted. Pieces should be framed if possible. Security will be provided. Works will be returned April 2. Specific instructions will be sent at a later date to those who respond to this announcement.
To be placed on the submit list or if you have any questions please contact Keith Tornheim, PhD, 638-8296 or email@example.com.