Category: Uncategorized

NEJM Perspective Focuses on Role of Prescriber Education for Opioids

January 27th, 2016 in Uncategorized

In recent decades, the United States has seen a dramatic increase in opioid prescribing for chronic pain. That growth has been associated with increasing misuse of these medications, leading to alarming increases in unintentional opioid overdose deaths.

In a perspective in this week’s New England Journal of Medicine, Daniel Alford, MD, MPH, associate professor of medicine and assistant dean of Continuing Medical Education and director of the Safe and Competent Opioid Prescribing Education (SCOPE of Pain) program at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM), recommends that prescriber education is the best approach to addressing the prescription opioid-misuse epidemic, allowing for individualized care on the basis of a patient’s needs after a careful benefit–risk assessment.

According to Alford, a key problem is that clinician education around pain management and safe opioid prescribing has been lacking. As opposed to blunt regulatory solutions that decrease access to opioids in an indiscriminant way, education is a more finely tuned approach that can empower clinicians to make appropriate, well-informed treatment decisions for every patient at each clinical encounter. “Education has the potential to both reduce overprescribing and ensure that patients in need retain access to opioids,” explained Alford, who is also medical director of Boston Medical Center’s Office-based Opioid Treatment (OBOT) program.

Alford points out clinicians have limited tools at their disposal to help patients with severe chronic pain and the reimbursement system favors the use of medications alone, despite evidence supporting multimodal pain management. Moreover, whereas clinicians can use objective measures to guide their management of other chronic diseases, here they must rely solely on the patient’s (or family’s) reports of benefits (such as improved function) and harms (such as loss of control).

Alford believes voluntary prescriber education may be insufficient to address this problem and that mandatory education may be required. “If so, it will be important to link mandated education to medical licensure to avoid having clinicians opt out — since that could lead to reduced treatment access, as well as burnout among the clinicians who opt in,” he added.

Alford believes that the medical profession is compassionate enough and bright enough to learn how to prescribe opioids, when they are indicated, in ways that maximize benefit and minimize harm. “Though managing chronic pain is complicated and time consuming and carries risk, we owe it to our patients to ensure access to comprehensive pain management, including the medically appropriate use of opioids.”


SPH Dean Sandro Galea Appointed Robert A. Knox Professor

January 27th, 2016 in Uncategorized

Leading expert on health consequences of mass trauma, conflict

SPH Dean Sandro Galea has studied the health impacts of the trauma of the September 11 attacks, Hurricane Katrina, conflicts in sub-Saharan Africa, and combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. Photo by Dan Aguirre

SPH Dean Sandro Galea has studied the health impacts of the trauma of the September 11 attacks, Hurricane Katrina, conflicts in sub-Saharan Africa, and combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. Photo by Dan Aguirre

Sandro Galea, dean of the School of Public Health, has been appointed Boston University’s Robert A. Knox Professor. The professorship supports a BU faculty member who demonstrates excellence in scholarship, research, and teaching, as well as impact on society.

“Professor Galea’s energetic leadership and foundational research in the health of urban populations are sparking important new conversations and producing tangible results in communities across the globe,” says Jean Morrison, University provost and chief academic officer. “His work exemplifies the impactful, multidisciplinary approach at the core of this distinguished professorship.”

Galea says he is honored by the professorship. “I am thrilled that this professorship joins other endowed professorships held by scholars who are part of our school community,” he says.

Galea’s current research interests focus on the social production of health in urban populations. He examines the causes of brain disorders, particularly common mood-anxiety disorders and substance abuse. He is also a leading expert on the health consequences of mass trauma and conflict, and has studied the health impacts of the September 11 attacks, Hurricane Katrina, conflicts in sub-Saharan Africa, and combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. His most recent book, Population Health Science, coauthored with Katherine Keyes, is forthcoming from Oxford University Press.

His work has been supported by the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and several foundations, including the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which gave him a 2006 Investigator Award in Health Policy Research. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine and of the American Epidemiological Society.

The second faculty member to receive the professorship, Galea is also the second from SPH. The previous Robert A. Knox Professor was Jonathon Simon, former director of the BU Center for Global Health & Development.

The Robert A. Knox Professorship was established through a 2012 $2.5 million gift from the Robert and Jeanne Knox Foundation, a philanthropic entity cofounded by Robert Knox (CAS’74, Questrom’75), chair of the BU Board of Trustees, and his wife, Jeanne, who heads the BU Parents Leadership Council.

This BU Today story was written by Michelle Samuels.

Jan. 20 Celebrate the Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.

January 13th, 2016 in Uncategorized

MLK & Kazi Nazrul Islam: The Spirit of Inclusion

Wednesday, Jan. 20, Noon-1 p.m., Hiebert Lounge
Open to Medical Campus students, faculty and staff
Refreshments will be provided.

Winston Langley

Winston Langley

Winston E. Langley
Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
Professor of Political Science and International Relations
University of Massachusetts Boston

Kazi Nazrul Islam is the national poet of Bangladesh. His writings explore themes such as love and freedom. He opposed all bigotry and assailed fanaticism in religion. Many of his works were devoted to the principle of human equality, vigorously assaulting religious extremism and the mistreatment of women, provoking condemnation from Muslim and Hindu fundamentalists.

Professor Langley is the author of “Kazi Nazrul Islam: The Voice of Poetry and the Struggle for Human Wholeness.” He is considered the first Western scholar to study Nazrul and will explore features of the poet’s thinking with that of Martin Luther King, Jr.

This event is brought to you by BUSM Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs in collaboration with the BMC Events Committee, Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine Office of Diversity, BU School of Public Health and the BMC Minority Recruitment Program.

Medical Ethics in the Shadow of the Holocaust: The Nazi Doctors, Racial Hygiene, Murder and Genocide

January 13th, 2016 in Featured, Uncategorized

Students, faculty and staff are invited to

“Medical Ethics in the Shadow of the Holocaust: The Nazi Doctors, Racial Hygiene, Murder and Genocide”

Wednesday, Jan. 20
Noon-1:20 p.m.
BUSM Instructional Building, L109 A/B

This talk is being given in memory of Robert Berger, MD, BUSM ’56, Distinguished Alumni Award recipient 1982, former Chief of Cardiac Surgery at BUSM and Director of Cardiovascular Research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Dr. Berger was a holocaust survivor who analyzed the science behind the hypothermia experiments that took place in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II. His paper, which was published in the May 1990 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine, found that the methods used by Nazi researchers were unsound, their approach erratic, the resulting reports “riddled with inconsistencies.” Dr. Berger found evidence of data falsification and suggestions of fabrication.

Michael A. Grodin, MD
Professor of Psychiatry; Family Medicine; Health Law, Bioethics and Human Rights, Boston University
Co-director, Joint Project in Jewish Legal Bioethics of the Institute of Jewish Law
Professor, Jewish Studies, Elie Wiesel Center for Jewish Studies
Director, Project on Ethics and the Holocaust

An internationally recognized expert on the Holocaust, Grodin received a special citation from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in recognition of his “profound contributions – through original and creative research – to the cause of Holocaust education and remembrance.” Grodin was the 2000 Julius Silberger Scholar studying Holocaust Survivors and was granted the 2014 Kravitz Humanitarian award of the Psychoanalytic Institute. He has delivered more than 400 invited national and international addresses, written more than 200 scholarly papers, and edited or co-edited seven books including ” Nazi Doctors and the Nuremberg Code: Human Rights in Human Experimentation” and “Jewish Medical Resistance in the Holocaust.” He has just completed a first draft of a new book “Jewish Spiritual Resistance in the Ghettos During the Holocaust.”

This presentation is sponsored by three student groups: the Maimonides Society, the BUSM Student Historical Society and the Student Internal Medicine Group.

Nov. 17 Resilience and Mindfulness Workshop

November 12th, 2015 in Uncategorized

Life is full of challenges. While we often have no choice over the challenges we encounter, we do have some control over how we respond. BUMC faculty and staff are invited to a free wellness workshop, Tuesday, Nov. 17. (Register at

This presentation will focus on cultivating psychological resilience – the ability to cope effectively with crises and bounce back quickly from setbacks.

In this interactive workshop participants will:

  • Explore the concepts of resilience and of mindfulness and the ways in which mindfulness boosts resilience
  • Sample mindfulness practices including mindful eating, meditation, and mindful stretching
  • Learn about other simple activities demonstrated to boost resilience
  • Identify free resources available for use in cultivating mindfulness and resilience

Nov. 17 Resilience and Mindfulness Workshop

Tuesday, Nov. 17
Noon-1 p.m.
BUSM Instructional Building, Room L209
Please register at

GSDM Hosts Students And Faculty From Three Chinese Dental Schools

November 12th, 2015 in Uncategorized

Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine (GSDM) hosted students and faculty from three Schools of Stomatology in China this summer, during three separate 14-day visits. The visits were part of an ongoing Global Externship Exchange with three Chinese institutions that began in October 2013. The exchange allows fourth-year DMD students to spend three weeks—guided by a GSDM faculty member—at three Chinese dental schools, gaining clinical and cultural experience as well as course credit. The exchange also allows for students and faculty from the Chinese schools to visit GSDM. These corresponding visits have been taking place each year since 2013.

Dean Jeffrey W. Hutter and Dr. Laisheng Chou with Dr. Yumei Zhang, Dr. Jing Gao, and Dr. Lingzhou Zhao from FMMUSS

Dean Jeffrey W. Hutter and Dr. Laisheng Chou with Dr. Yumei Zhang, Dr. Jing Gao, and Dr. Lingzhou Zhao from FMMUSS

The three groups of Chinese students and faculty that visited GSDM this summer were from Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Stomatology (SJUSS), Peking University School of Stomatology (PKUSS) and the Fourth Military Medical University School of Stomatology (FMMUSS). The visitors were each in Boston for 14 days this summer, touring GSDM and the city of Boston while observation all of GSDM’s academic and clinical programs, as well as the school’s other various scholarly and research activities.

The Chinese visitors participating in this cultural exchange program all specialize in postdoctoral programs, and many of the visiting Chinese students had specific interest in rotations of GSDM’s postdoctoral clinic such as Orthodontics, Endodontics, Periodontology, Prosthodontics, Oral Surgery and Pediatric Dentistry. Therefore, each 14-day schedule was tailored to the interests of the visitors.

Visiting first, from June 25 to July 7, were Dr. Ming Cai, Ying Chen (student), and ZhouXi Ye (student) from SJUSS in Shanghai.

Visiting second, from July 8 to July 19, were Dr. Yumei Zhang, Dr. Jing Gao, and Dr. Lingzhou Zhao from FMMUSS in Xi’an.

Visiting third, from August 24 to September 3, were Meili Dong, Keang Fan (student), Donghao Wei (student), and Jihao Zhang (student) from PKUSS in Beijing.

“I am delighted to see that this important cultural and academic exchange between GSDM and our partner institutions continues to be both immensely beneficial as well as enjoyable for everyone involved” said Dean Jeffrey W. Hutter. “It was a pleasure to get to know all of the visitors from SJUSS, FMMUSS, and PKUSS during their visits.”

The exchange program is overseen by GSDM’s Office of Global & Population Health. Dr. Laisheng Chou, Professor and Director of Oral Medicine and Professor of Biomaterials, and Consultant to the Dean on Far Easter Programs serves as the Program Director.

The exchange program started with SJUSS and FMMUSS in 2013 and expanded quickly to include PKUSS in 2014. In 2015, the program continues to grow. Both Tokyo Medical and Dental University in Tokyo, Japan, and Chulalongkorn University Faculty of Dentistry, in Bangkok, Thailand were recently added to the exchange program, with students from GSDM visiting those schools in September 2015, and students from the respective schools set to visit GSDM in the summer of 2016.

This means that visiting international students—from five schools—will be on GSDM’s campus for a combined length of nearly two months in the summer of 2016.  At the same time, GSDM will continue to send its fourth year DMD students to five dental schools in Beijing, Shanghai, Xi’an, Tokyo and Bangkok for their global externship program.

The rapidly growing program is incredibly beneficial to GSDM students. The students who are selected to participate—only eight students can be selected into the program each year from a very competitive pool of applicants—receive fantastic exposure to the workings of international dental schools while also experiencing different cultures.

“The quantity and variety of the cases our students are exposed to at the dental schools in China, Japan and Thailand are remarkable,” said Dr. Chou. “It would certainly be unlikely for the students to experience the same type of cases in their short four-year DMD program in the United States.”

The schedules of the 14-day visits for this year’s incoming visitors from SJUSS, PKUSS and FMMUSS were jam-packed with events and activities designed to fully expose the Chinese faculty and students to the workings of GSDM, and help them explore any curiosities they may have about GSDM’s programs.

Each visit included a special dinner at Dean Hutter’s home, at which Dean Hutter personally welcomed the scholars and students from China to Boston, and thanked them for their continued support of the exchange program.

The Saturday and Sunday of each visit was reserved for sightseeing around Boston and the greater Boston area. DMD students were tasks with touring the Chinese visitors around the city. The DMD students who took part in these city tours were: Wenyu Qu DMD 17, Annie Xiaomeng DMD 17, Sen Wang DMD 17, Nic Branshaw DMD 16, Mohamed Bayoumy DMD 16, Kayla Cuddy DMD 16.

While the weekends of each of the visits this year were filled with laid-back, fun activities, the weekdays were packed tight with presentations and events designed to showcase GSDM to the Chinese visitors. Each group of Chinese scholars and students was given a tour of GSDM and the Medical Campus before immersing in their dense schedule of presentations and other activities.

The visitors were also able to observe GSDM’s Grand Rounds presentations and enjoy a lunch with the Boston University Asian Dental Student Organization (ADSO).

Faculty members participating in the SJUSS visit (faculty previously mentioned in this article will not have titles in the following list):

  • Assistant Professor in the Department of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Hussam Batal
  • Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of General Dentistry, Assistant Dean of Students, and Director of Geriatric Dental Medicine Joseph Calabrese
  • Laisheng Chou
  • Professor in the Department of Health Policy & Health Services Research and Associate Dean for Global & Population Health Michelle Henshaw
  • Assistant Professor in the Department of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery and Director of the Preliminary Internship Program Timothy Osborn
  • Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Periodontology Dr. Mingfang Su

Faculty members participating in the FMMUSS visit (faculty previously mentioned in this article will not have titles in the following list):

  • Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Restorative Sciences & Biomaterials and Clinical Director of the Advanced Specialty Education Program in Prosthodontics Alexander Bendayan
  • Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Ishwar Bhatia
  • Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery and Director of Credentialing at Boston Medical Center Steven J. Bookless
  • Laisheng Chou
  • Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs and Clinical Professor in the Department of General Dentistry John Guarente
  • Michelle Henshaw
  • Clinical Instructor in the Department of General Dentistry Eric Mandelbaum
  • Assistant Professor in the Department of Endodontics Ramzi Sarkis

Faculty members participating in the PKUSS visit (faculty previously mentioned in this article will not have titles in the following list):

  • Assistant Professor in the Department of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery and Director of Faculty Practice Clinical Services Hussam Batal
  • Assistant Professor in the Department of General Dentistry Louis Brown
  • Joseph Calabrese
  • Associate Professor and Director of Research in the Department of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Radhika Chigurupati
  • Laisheng Chou
  • Clinical Professor and Director of Pre-doctoral Education in the Department of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery and Vice Chairman of Dentistry and Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery at Boston Medical Center Richard D’Innocenzo
  • Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of General Dentistry and Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopedics Yael Frydman
  • Professor of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology and Head of the Division of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology George Gallagher
  • John Guarente
  • Associate Professor in the Department of Restorative Sciences & Biomaterials Russell A. Giordano
  • Michelle Henshaw
  • Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Restorative Sciences & Biomaterials Ali Khiblil
  • Professor in the Department of Molecular & Cell Biology and Associate Dean for Research Maria A. Kukuruzinska
  • Eric Mandelbaum
  • Professor in the Department of General Dentistry Carl McManama
  • Professor and Chair of the Department of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery and Associate Dean for Hospital Affairs Pushkar Mehra
  • Clinical Professor in the Department of General Dentistry and Director of the Division of Pre-doctoral Removable Prosthodontics Ronni Schnell
  • Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery and Director of Quality Assurance and Ambulatory Operations at Boston Medical Center Bradford Towne

Other GSDM community members participating in the PKUSS visit:

  • Advanced Education in General Dentistry (AEGD) Resident Gaby Bonilla
  • Advanced Education in General Dentistry (AEGD) Resident Natalia Lopez

Photos from the visits from SJUSS, FMMUSS and PKUSS visits can be found on Facebook and Flickr.

Submitted by GSDM Communications.

The Power of Scholarships

October 2nd, 2015 in Uncategorized

Gratitude, excitement and anticipation – these three words describe the 2015 BUSM Scholarship Dinner on Thursday, Sept. 24.

In a candle-lit room at the Hotel Commonwealth in Boston, 18 medical students gathered together to meet – for the first time – their scholarship donors.

Dean Antman with students Adam Johnson (Class of 2017) and Karanda Bowman (Class of 2016)

Dean Antman with students Adam Johnson (Class of 2017) and Karanda Bowman (Class of 2016)

“Today is really important,” said Nick Smith, BUSM Class of 2016. “Getting to meet the face behind who’s doing this for me – it’s really special.”

To his surprise, Smith’s donor was Aram Chobanian, MD, President Emeritus, Boston University and Dean Emeritus of the School of Medicine.

“It’s terrific,” said Smith. “The weight that I’ll have in terms of debt going forward is that much less. Every little bit counts.”

Thanks to scholarships established by generous donors, every year students who otherwise could not afford a BUSM education can pursue their dream of becoming a physician.

According to Emir Morais, co-interim director of BUSM’s Student Financial Services, the cost of medical education presents a high barrier for many applicants – and a significant burden for many graduates. In fact, the Association of American Medical Colleges reports that 79 percent of medical students have debt of $100,000 or more after medical school.

“Scholarships help relieve some of the financial burden put on these students during and after their medical education,” said Morais. “These funds support their education and their intellectual, professional and personal development. It gives them the opportunity to attend a medical school that fits their passions and a chance to choose a field they care about.”

Over dinner and dessert, the students and donors were greeted by Dean Karen Antman, MD, who introduced Karanda Bowman, Class of 2016, and Adam Johnson, Class of 2017. Both students spoke about how their scholarships were a critical component in attending medical school.

“You haven’t just given me a gift,” said Johnson. “You’ve given my family a little more hope that everything really will be alright.”

As the students parted ways with their donors, handshakes and hugs were exchanged. Pleasantries and advice about medical school filled the room. But as this writer will attest, two common, contagious sentiments elevated this event – honor and gratefulness.

“We have to give kids the opportunity to be able to go to medical school without worrying about huge debts,” said Elaine Kirshenbaum, a BU donor since 1983. “It’s an honor to be able to support them.”

View the Facebook album.

Transgender at BU

September 21st, 2015 in Uncategorized

Students find a welcome, but want a few changes

Ray arrived on the BU campus two years ago as a freshman from Texas who identified as female and lesbian. A sociology class that October changed everything.

“Some theorist had talked about how everything we think about in society is a social construct,” Ray (a pseudonym) says. “We were talking about that in direct relation to gender, and there was a moment when I felt, in my brain, like something fell apart. I could feel the fabric of my reality crumbling. It was scariest thing I’d ever felt. I was like, ‘Maybe I’m not a female.’ That thought had never crossed my mind before. It was really shocking to me as an 18-year-old. What am I supposed to do with this information?”

Ray (CAS’17) came to BU in part because it promised a more welcoming environment than that in Texas. “I had never really thought about identifying as transgender while I was growing up or at school, but I think that may have been due to lack of exposure and lack of a comfortable space to explore,” Ray says. “When I came to BU, a lot of things changed for me, perspective-wise.”

So Ray spent much of freshman year grappling with gender identity in “crisis mode,” and on-campus counseling didn’t provide an answer. “People can point you to resources,” Ray says, “but it’s your personal identification that only you can figure out internally.”

These days, Ray identifies as neither male nor female, but somewhere else on the gender spectrum. Like many people in the trans community, Ray rejects the idea of gender as purely binary, and prefers “they” as a singular pronoun, instead of he or she.

Ray found like-minded people to talk to at BU’s student Center for Gender, Sexuality & Activism and the Trans* Listening Circle hosted there: “I knew I had peers in that space that I could talk to about what I was feeling. That’s where I went to find support.”

There’s no count of transgender students at the University, and no one interviewed really wants to venture a guess. An unrelated survey on the climate around sexual misconduct taken last March and April found that about one percent of 5,875 student respondents identified as trans, gender queer, or other.

“I will say that, anecdotally, it seems the number of students who are publicly identifying as trans or nonbinary is on the rise,” says Stacy Ulrich, director of the College of Arts & Sciences Student Programs & Leadership and faculty advisor of the Trans* Listening Circle.

Ray is one of three transgender students who agreed to talk to BU Today about their experience at BU, where, they say, the University has done a good bit to support trans people, but still needs to do more.

Clearly this year is a turning point. The transition of Caitlyn Jenner created the biggest media splash, following Orange Is the New Black actress Laverne Cox, who made the cover of Time magazine in 2014 in a story touting “the social movement poised to challenge deeply held cultural beliefs.” The White House recently hired its first openly transgender staffer. And just last night, Jeffrey Tambor won the Emmy award for outstanding lead actor in a comedy series for his role as Maura Pfefferman in the acclaimed Amazon series Transparent.

But not all the news is promising. According to Time, between January and August this year, 15 trans people were murdered, most of them young women of color.

Cameron Partridge, an Episcopal chaplain at BU, came out as a transgender man 14 years ago when he was a doctoral student. He says it’s important to remember that “the Trans Day Remembrance movement started about a mile from BU, with the killing of Rita Hester in 1998.” Hester, whose killer was never found, was stabbed to death in her apartment in Allston. Many in the trans community believe that her murder was a hate crime, and a yearly vigil held in remembrance has grown into the national movement.

Suicide is also a major issue. A study by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Williams Institute found that 41 percent of trans people try to kill themselves at some point in their lives, compared with 4.6 percent of the general public.

Pronouns matter

Discussion of transgender issues has been front and center on many campuses this year. Harvard recently began accepting “they” and other gender-neutral pronouns as part of the registration procedure. Women’s colleges, including Wellesley and Smith, decided after public discussion to accept applications from transgender women.

“It’s such a weird cultural moment. So many people are becoming aware that trans people happen—and we have always happened everywhere,” says Michelle Samuels (GRS’16), a transgender woman who began her transition in earnest a year ago, when she came to BU to pursue a master’s in the Creative Writing Program.

“Society is at this point—and the campus is at this point—where we are trying to get our head around it all,” says Kenneth Elmore (SED’87), BU’s dean of students. “There is a cultural shift that is happening as far as how you engage with transgender people, and how we are all respecting what that means, how we are making sure we respect the dignity and worth of that individual.”

The three BU students have not been openly threatened or harassed, and they say their lives in the BU community are defined, for better or worse, by small moments: an awkward, distressing encounter at the door of a FitRec bathroom, or a helpful faculty member going beyond the call of duty to cut through red tape.

“If my professors didn’t support me, I think the whole thing would have been much harder,” says Jamie Weinand (MED’17), who came out as a transgender man during the last school year. “They made me feel really empowered to be who I am.”

Transgender people and their supporters pay careful attention to the words they use to describe themselves and their journeys, especially names and pronouns: he, she, they.

“For a trans student, that’s who they are,” says Ulrich. “Having others respect you as a person is one of the most important things in life, and you want to feel like you’re respected by the person that’s teaching you in classroom, by your roommate, by your friends, by staff you interact with on a daily basis.”

Samuels, who was hired this month as an assistant editor and social media coordinator in the School of Public Health communications office, says SPH has been wonderful and her overall BU experience positive, including with those in her MFA program.

“I haven’t experienced any kind of classic textbook harassment or meanness or bullying,” says Samuels. “On the other hand, there are the everyday things that really grind you down. Pronouns are a big one, being misgendered by strangers, accidentally misgendered by people who know my pronouns, being called ‘sir’ at the burrito truck.”

Tangling up gender and sexuality

It’s not uncommon for gender and sexuality to get tangled up as young people grapple with their identity. All three students say they’d come out as gay or lesbian to family members and others before they fully understood that what they were struggling with was more about gender than sexuality. Samuels says her feelings of femininity were a source of confusion, given that she was—and is—attracted mainly to women. At first, those feelings seemed to fit certain stereotypes.

So Samuels first came out as a gay man. “Erroneously!” she says, with a big laugh.

Although people increasingly address gender identity in high school and even before, many confront the issue during their college years. “People are solidifying who they are,” says Partridge. “They have a little freedom, space from their home context, so it’s a time of exploration. That’s just true in general.”

Samuels avoided the issue during her relatively happy undergraduate years at Hampshire College. “One of things that kind of scared me when trying to figure this out was that I haven’t known for my entire life,” she says. “I’ve known something was off my entire life, but I think most people feel kind of off most of their lives. I started to bump up against gender role stuff in middle school. I started thinking a lot about the idea of being female-bodied in high school. It’s a thing that has gradually become clearer. But the fact that I didn’t say at age five, ‘I’m a girl,’ doesn’t mean I’m not trans. People come to it differently.”

When she came to BU for grad school, Samuels made a pact with herself to take advantage of the Boston area’s many medical and counseling resources and start working it out. “The more attention I gave to it, the more the excuses and doubts started to look flimsier and flimsier, and the need to transition continued to feel very pressing,” she says.

Talking with a social worker at Student Health Services Behavioral Medicine started to help with her internal conflict, known as gender dysphoria, and she now seeing a therapist at BU’s Danielsen Institute.

“I started at Fenway Health with hormone replacement therapy back in the middle of March,” she says. “I joined a support group in Cambridge of student-age and grad-student-age people. It’s really proven the great place to be doing it that I expected Boston to be, and BU’s doing a pretty good job too.”

In summer 2014, before Weinand came out as trans, one of his School of Medicine professors asked him and another student for help writing a new piece of curriculum for the first-year Introduction to Clinical Medicine course. The professor wanted to offer students some instruction in patient interviewing that took into account gender identity.

“And I thought, wow, you have the initiative to want to include this in your class? That’s wonderful,” Weinand says.

The module they wrote debuted this past spring in the class, taught by Nanette Harvey, a MED assistant professor, and has since became part of the resource library for the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine. Weinand is also the first author on a study published in the Journal of Clinical & Translational Endocrinology that concluded hormone therapy in transgender adults is safe with supervision.

Weinand says faculty and administrators helped make his campus experience after coming out a positive one, especially Karen Symes, MED assistant dean of student affairs, and Douglas Hughes, associate dean of academic affairs. Single-stall, gender-assigned bathrooms on the Medical Campus became gender neutral. Gender-identity and pronoun-selection options were added to the online admissions form. Weinand’s chosen name appeared on paperwork before it was in the directory.

“The Medical Campus has been awesome,” says the upbeat Weinand.

BU can be proud, but more can be done

Some BU policies directly support trans people, and as Ulrich says, “BU should be proud of that.” For example, University health insurance covers hormone therapy and some other aspects of a transition, and BU has a gender neutral housing option, created in part to ensure that LGBT students feel safe in their living situation, although the policy is not specifically crafted for them.

Trans students seeking counseling can find support at Behavioral Medicine, as Samuels did. And Partridge says he is available to anyone who wants to talk informally. He can be reached through Marsh Chapel.

But Ulrich and others believe more can be done to make the University a welcoming place for trans students. This summer, she and a pair of students associated with the Trans* Listening Circle spoke on transgender issues to a meeting of the University administration’s Campus Activities Team—a group whose mission is to develop an environment conducive to learning and personal development for all students.

“The big takeaway here was the extreme deficit in knowledge and programming around LGBT issues at BU,” team chair Raul Fernandez (COM’00), associate director of Student Activities, says. “We need to do more, and we need expert staff members that are specifically assigned to work with this population, and to educate the rest of us on related issues.”

Until now, trans students have had to rely on individual faculty and administration members to step up, and that will change, says Elmore.

“What we’re trying to do with the working group is look at ways that those things can happen systematically,” he says. “This is about a cultural shift in thinking…so it can happen with students saying, ‘Here’s who I am, here’s what I’m about, and this is why I may need a set of circumstances that may not happen very often.’” That will probably include more and better-marked gender-neutral bathrooms and changes in policies or operations concerning how students are identified in college systems, he says.

“I think we were doing a lot of this before some of the national attention that this summer has brought to it,” Elmore says. “The great thing about this summer is that it’s gotten us all thinking a lot about it, and hopefully that does help us to move a bit faster.”

Practical challenges

Students hope that administrative attention will help solve some of the day-to-day problems and bureaucratic glitches that trans students can still face. Ray found it difficult to negotiate a new gender-neutral housing arrangement after a planned roommate didn’t return to school. Samuels, who graduates in January, spent weeks trying to make sure her correct name would appear on her diploma, and ended up prodding the Registrar’s office via email for a quick change.

“They wrote back pretty quickly saying, ‘We do not currently have a policy,’” she says. “They said, ‘We’re working on developing one. But in the meantime, we’re changing names and gender on a one-by-one basis and we’ll put that it right in.’ And they did.”

Samuels is still trying to get a new ID and picture, which also appears in the directory accessible to faculty. In the outdated picture now in use, she has a beard, she says, and seeing it is both strange and painful.

Weinand complains about the lack of a gender neutral restroom in FitRec. “Basically you’re telling me that transgender people who don’t feel comfortable in the assigned gender restrooms can’t work out or have to go work out and feel uncomfortable,” he says. “I’ve certainly done the thing where I use the outside locker and don’t go into the single-sex bathroom, and I just hold it.”

He’s had doors slammed in his face, he says, and has heard more than one nasty comment when he was still using the women’s restroom. He takes a deep breath, his otherwise cheerful demeanor gone for a moment.

“If you are wondering, if you don’t know the gender of someone or what bathroom they’re supposed to use, don’t worry about it, it’s not your issue,” Weinand advises, then smiles again. “I’ve also had people who did the opposite, who found me as a fairly masculine-presenting persona and still held the door for me when I was entering the women’s restroom…whether that person knew it or not, it was a huge ally move.”

The heart of the college experience is the classroom, and the students say that most, but not all, professors are quick to accommodate new names and pronouns.

“It’s hard for students to be empowered by what they’re learning when they’re hampered by not being able to be who they are in the classroom,” says Partridge, who navigated the issue as a grad student. “When they can be who they are, the classroom becomes this launching pad, not in a utilitarian career sense, but in a full-human-being sense.”

Support is welcome, probing questions less so, say Partridge and the trans students. Fellow students who find out that a classmate is trans should ask about pronouns, but not about their old name or what their family thinks. Particularly troubling to trans people are invasive questions about medical transitioning. None of your business, they say.

“For the first time, people are sort of aware that people transition, that people are trans,” says Samuels, “and that means there are a lot of people who react really horribly, and a lot of people who have every good intention don’t know how to go about it, and there are people who go and educate themselves, which is wonderful, and people who expect trans people to educate them—which is exhausting, but better than nothing.”

For many trans people, their story is still in progress, and they may be feeling vulnerable about it, Partridge says. Let them decide what parts of their story to share and with whom. “I think a good rule of thumb is, people’s stories are theirs to tell,” he says.

“Here’s the hard part,” says Elmore. “We can put a lot of systems in place, but there’s still going to be the interaction that students are going to have with each other—in offices, in workplaces, in residences, in classrooms—where you want this higher order thinking about the dignity and worth of a human being. And that’s where it will be awkward, and that’s where it may butt up against some old views that people have had for so long, or people who have been indifferent or haven’t even thought about this issue.”

This BU Today article was written by Joel Brown.

New GSDM Students Gather for 2015 Professional Ceremony

September 15th, 2015 in Featured, Uncategorized

Students seated during the 2015 Professional Ceremony

Students seated during the 2015 Professional Ceremony

Four-year DMD 19 and two-year AS DMD 17 students from Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine (GSDM) marked the end of their first week of orientation on Friday, July 31, at one of the most significant events in the educational careers of our dental students, the annual Professional Ceremony.

The students marched into the ceremony grounds, the Talbot Green, and took their seats under a large white tent. Hundreds of friends and family members looked on and cheered as the DMD 19 and AS 17 students participated in the 2015 Professional Ceremony.

Assistant Dean of Students Dr. Joseph Calabrese welcomed the crowd under the packed tent.

Dean Jeffrey W. Hutter as well as Boston University Medical Campus Provost and Boston University School of Medicine Dean Dr. Karen Antman delivered the opening remarks, while student anxiously anticipated receiving their BU pins.

The Keynote Address was delivered by Professor in General Dentistry Dr. Carl McManama. Dr. McManama began his now 39 year dental career at GSDM as a Clinical Instructor in the Department of Operative Dentistry in 1976.  He was later promoted to Clinical Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, and Professor. He Chaired the Department of Operative Dentistry from 1986 to 1995.

After Dr. McManama’s speech, Assistant Dean for Admissions and Associate Professor in  Health Policy & Health Services Research Catherine Sarkis took to the podium to present the DMD Class of 2019 and AS Class of 2017 to Dean Hutter.

Five faculty members then stood on the stage to present the pins to the DMD 19 and AS 17 students. The faculty members were: Dr. Calabrese; Dr. Sarkis; Associate Professor in the Department of General Dentistry Dr. Stephen Dulong; Professor in the Department of Periodontology, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, and Professor in the Department of Molecular & Cell Biology Dr. Cataldo Leone; and Clinical Professor in the Department of General Dentistry and Faculty Liaison for the Advanced Standing Program Dr. Janet Peters.

Each DMD 19 and AS 17 student shook hands with Dean Hutter and Provost Antman before exiting the stage. When each new student had received their pin, the Professional Oath was read.

One paragraph of the Professional Oath reads: “I will conduct myself with the highest ethical and professional behavior in the classroom, the clinic, and in all areas of my life. I will promote the integrity of the profession with honest and respectful relations with other health professionals. I will strive to advance my profession by seeking new knowledge and by reexamining the ideas and practices of the past.”

After Dean Hutter delivered his closing remarks, the students and attendees stayed for a reception under the tent for a reception on the Talbot Green.

“The Professional Ceremony is one of the most important moments in these students’ dental  educations here at GSDM,” said Dean Hutter. “I know that each of the students who received pins today will go on to make me, and everyone else at GSDM, very proud over the next four years.”

Photos from the Professional Ceremony can be found on Facebook and Flickr.

Submitted by GSDM Communications.

Peregrine Falcons Find a Home at the Medical Campus

August 18th, 2015 in Uncategorized

A family of peregrine falcons have made a nest on a window ledge atop the Solomon Carter Fuller Mental Health Building. Photos by Anita DeStefano, PhD, professor of Biostatistics and associate director of the BUMC Genome Science Institute.

A family of peregrine falcons have made a nest on a window ledge atop the Solomon Carter Fuller Mental Health Building. Photos by Anita DeStefano, PhD, professor of Biostatistics and associate director of the BUMC Genome Science Institute.

High above Talbot Green a pair of watchful eyes scopes the concrete canyon below looking for its next prey. This isn’t a scene from Mission Impossible. It’s more like a National Geographic documentary.

Perched on a window ledge atop the Solomon Carter Fuller Mental Health Building, two peregrine falcons have decided to make the BU Medical Campus their home.

COM Falcon 2

“It’s simply fascinating that such beautiful wildlife can exist in this urban area,” said Anita DeStefano, PhD, professor of Biostatistics and associate director of the BUMC Genome Science Institute.

DeStefano noticed the male and female falcons in late spring and began taking pictures of the birds from the rooftop of the medical campus parking garage. In early summer, she observed two falcon chicks in addition to the adults. After reading a recent article on BU Today about another pair of falcons on the Charles River campus, DeStefano contacted Ursula and Dave Goodine, certified volunteer observers for Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.

That evening, DeStefano met with the Goodines to point out the nest site and to observe the adults with one of their fledglings.

According to Ursula Goodine, peregrine falcons are the fastest flying birds in the world – reaching speeds of 200 miles per hour during a dive. They feed on pigeons and other small birds.

In 1964 nesting pairs of Peregrines were extinct in the eastern United States, but over time, conservation success was responsible for changing them from “endangered” to “protected” status. There are now more than 30 nesting pairs in Massachusetts.

Contrary to popular belief, peregrine falcons do not build a nest. They lay their eggs on cliffs.

“As the falcon population increased, some birds looked for other territories and began using tall buildings instead of the natural landscape of cliffs and quarry ledges to raise their young,” said Goodine. “This just reveals how adaptable peregrines have become in order to perpetuate their species.”

In an effort to help facilitate a safer environment for the birds, experts from the MassWildlife Natural Heritage and Endangered Species program have set up simple wooden “nest-boxes” lined with gravel in several locations throughout the city.

The Goodines now are working on a plan to have one installed on the BU Medical Campus this fall to give the birds time to acclimate to its presence. They hope the pair of falcons will use it next spring.

“Reintroduction programs have helped Peregrines make an amazing recovery,” said Goodine. “While city living poses all kinds of dangers to these birds, they are resilient and their population has rebounded quite well.”