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Bottom Line
Forever Altered
Findings
JHUniverse
Syllabus
Vignette
Vital Signs
Datebook
Up and Comer
Here and Abroad
Academese
Backlist


Bottom Line

Cancer and HIV/AIDS get more press, but public health researchers are working to raise awareness about another major killer: road traffic injuries. Currently, traffic accidents rank as the ninth leading cause of death worldwide, ahead of malaria and measles, according to Adnan Hyder, an assistant professor of international health at the Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

87.8: Percent of total deaths worldwide from road traffic injuries that occurred in developing or emerging nations, despite a ratio of 2 vehicles to every 5 in industrialized nations.

1,170,694: Estimate of deaths in 1998 caused by road traffic injuries. More than 1 million were in Africa, Asia, South and Central America, and regions of the former Soviet Union.

2: Number of pedestrians killed for every driver killed. The rate is particularly high in developing nations where pedestrians and vehicles share the same roads.

100: Annual dollar cost, in billions, of road accidents in developing and emerging nations. The dollar cost includes lost productivity and health care costs, among other factors.

25: Percent of hospital beds worldwide occupied by road accident survivors.

2: Ranking, behind HIV/AIDS, of traffic injuries as the leading cause of ill health and premature death worldwide for people ages 15-44.

3: Estimated ranking of road traffic injuries in leading causes of death worldwide by the year 2020, behind heart disease and deaths linked to mental illness. --Mary Mashburn


Forever Altered

"'Story, sit down!'

"Sixty years ago, Hopkins' late peerless Orientalist/archaeologist, William Foxwell Albright, gave me that order in his office. Two years earlier, I had met him after hitchhiking to Baltimore to enroll as a candidate in the Oriental Seminary. The professor stood tall and straight, quite bald, wearing thick glasses over impaired but penetrating eyes. I received a key to his office and soon began to 'pay off' my tuition by indexing, successively, his works -- From the Stone Age to Christianity, Archaeology and the Religion of Israel, and the third volume of his excavations at Tell Beit Mirsim.

"Part-time teaching and youth work at a nearby church helped to defray living expenses. I roomed on Gilman Terrace, but my real 'home' for the next two and a half years was Albright's office in Gilman Hall.

"Unfortunately, my financial situation deteriorated. As I was pondering and praying one evening on North Charles Street, a man approached me seeking a dime for coffee but I had no dime and had had no food for well over a week. I could merely give him a gospel tract and share my faith, wondering how good is the good news to one who needs food.

"As for my academic life, the sword of Damocles was surely suspended above me. 'Professor Albright, perhaps I should check out of this place, I may not make it.' Then it was that his blunt order came, and I did 'sit down.' Prodigious scholar and faithful Methodist, he told of Moses, of Paul, and of other church heroes who persevered in preparing, each for a holy task, and Professor Albright implied that I could do the same. Upon leaving his office, I thought, 'This great man believes in me, I'll stay.' I indeed crossed a Rubicon that day."

Cullen I. K. Story (MA '43) was ordained as a Presbyterian minister in 1943 in Baltimore. A missionary to Lebanon for eight years, he taught at the Near East School of Theology in Beirut. For 27 years, he taught at the Princeton Theological Seminary.


Findings

Software to Encourage Structural Innovation

A free computer program developed by Hopkins civil engineering professor Benjamin W. Schafer allows designers of thin-walled structures, including buildings and bridges, to test the structures' stability and safety before a single beam is put into place.

Currently, civil engineers must adhere to rigid building codes that severely limit their design options, Schafer says. These rules were adopted to ensure that structures are safe and to maintain a level playing field among competitors. "These highly prescriptive building codes accomplished that, but they also took away the opportunity for structural innovation," Schafer says. "My software can help bring it back by giving engineers a way to predict buckling for structures that don't fall within the rules."

Schafer's software, called CUFSM, is available for free downloading on his Web site www.ce.jhu.edu/bschafer. --Phil Sneiderman

A New Spin on Frustrated Magnets

Physicists at Johns Hopkins and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have found a surprise lurking at the heart of geometrically frustrated magnets. The odd class of materials has tantalized condensed matter physicists for years with puzzling properties and hopes of new insights into the basic structure and organization of matter.

The surprise is connected to spin, a characteristic of electrons and the basis of magnetism in solids. When scientists cool a magnetic material sufficiently, electronic spins typically "freeze" into a periodic pattern throughout the material. Spins on neighboring atoms are usually either parallel or in opposition (antiparallel). Materials whose crystal structure is formed from square unit cells can readily achieve spin order, but in materials with a crystal structure that has triangular components, it can be geometrically impossible to achieve uniform global spin order, producing what physicists call a frustrated magnet.

Seung-Hun Lee, a Hopkins alumnus now working at NIST, and Hopkins physics professor Collin Broholm learned how such a material relieves its frustration by bombarding a frustrated magnet, zinc-chromite, with neutrons. They found that the spins organize locally, rather than globally, with hexagonal groups of six atoms acting together to achieve local magnetic order without order on larger-length scales.

According to Lee, identification of this new, higher-order organizing pattern could be helpful to scientists working to advance their understanding of a variety of scientific topics, including how high-temperature superconductivity works, how proteins fold, and how subatomic particles like quarks come together to form the components of atoms. The scientists reported on their findings in the August 22 issue of Nature. --MP


JHUniverse

caat.jhsph.edu

Although the use of lab animals in medical research, cosmetics, and other industries has declined since the 1970s, a growing reliance on transgenic mice in biomedical research worldwide has kept the issue of lab animal health on the minds of the public and scientists.

The Johns Hopkins Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing (CAAT) focuses on research into other viable study methods -- thus reducing the need for animal testing -- as well as better ways to conduct such research when needed. Among other efforts, CAAT, based at the Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, recently set up a grants program to support research into animals' pain processes. Findings could help alleviate pain or distress in humans as well as animals.

The center's Web site features summaries of CAAT research grants, abstracts from the center's 20th anniversary symposium in 2001, papers published by Hopkins faculty on ethics in animal testing and other topics, links to other sites, and CAATalyst, a curriculum created to introduce the concepts of alternatives to animal testing to middle school students and their teachers.

The site also links to Altweb, CAAT's online international clearinghouse of resources, information, and news on alternatives to animal testing. --Joanne Cavanaugh Simpson


Syllabus

Course: "Sovereignty and the Jews in the Middle Ages"

Instructor: David Nirenberg, Charlotte Bloomberg Professor of the Humanities

Course Description: Taught by the director of the newly created Leonard and Helen Stulman Jewish Studies Program, this graduate course explores the role of Jews and Judaism in medieval Christian thought. It focuses on a number of interrelated aspects of that thought: What is the proper relationship between body and soul? Between literal and spiritual? State and Church? Slavery and freedom? Medieval Christians approached these questions through an opposition thought to be even more basic: that between Jew and Christian. A partial list of readings follows.

Political Theology, Carl Schmitt

Homo Sacer, Giorgio Agamben

St. Paul: Epistle to the Romans, Epistle to the Galatians

Faith and Fratricide: The Theological Roots of Anti-Semitism, Rosemary Radford Ruether

The Origins of Anti-Semitism: Attitudes Toward Judaism in Pagan and Christian Antiquity, John Gager

Discourses Against Judaizing Christians, St. John Chrysostom

Reply to Faustus the Manichaean, St. Augustine

Qur'an, Surah 2 (the Cow)

Commentary on the Qur'an, Muhammad Abu Dja'Far, Al-Tabari Bin Djarir, trans. J. Cooper

Muslim Kingship: Power and the Sacred in Muslim, Christian, and Pagan Politics, Aziz al-Azmeh

The King's Two Bodies: A Study in Medieval Political Theology, Ernst H. Kantorowicz

"That Jesus Was Born a Jew," "Appeal to the German Nobility," "On the Jews and Their Lies," Martin Luther


Vignette

Even though this plastic model -- with a variety of tubes, clamps, monitors, and electronic components -- doesn't look like a standard poodle, its weight of 25 kilograms inspired students to nickname it the "plastic dog." A hydraulic model that simulates the human cardiovascular system, this dog is nearly 25 years old, in human years. "It's one really old dog," says Artin Shoukas, professor of biomedical engineering and physiology, who designed and built the model as a learning tool for students.

"Students learn in different ways, and many need a combination of hands-on and visual aids to understand complex systems," says Shoukas. The model, built with off-the-shelf plastic parts, has a valve system that connects to a mechanical pump serving as a heart. The system goes into action with the press of a button that starts the heart pump circulating red-colored water through simulated arteries and blood vessels. An eight-foot tube stands at one corner of the model, serving as a blood pressure indicator. Students use the indicator to measure the blood pressure level while conducting experiments that help them to understand pressures, volumes, and flow changes in the circulatory system. Attached to the dog is a computer that acts as a brain for the experiments and simulates the neural interactions between the brain and the cardiovascular system.

Artin Shoukas' "plastic dog" helps students envision the functioning of the human cardiovascular system.
Photo by Tamara Hoffer
Each year, more than 250 students from Engineering and Medicine work with the plastic dog to gain basic knowledge of the concepts of cardiovascular physiology. Undergraduate biomedical engineering students are required to work in teams to design an individual component that will both mimic a specific physiological process and fit into the model. "They're learning about how to apply engineering principles to physiological systems," says Shoukas. Those student-built components deemed "excellent" by Shoukas are incorporated into the plastic dog. (One such component is a new heart pump built by students last year.) "It's really an ongoing, evolving project the students love it," he says.

Occasionally, Shoukas takes his plastic dog to science meetings and educational demonstrations. Back on campus, the dog resides in the hall near Shoukas' lab in East Baltimore's Traylor Building -- pretty much in keeping with a dog's life. --Diana Whitman


Vital Signs

At the Root of Broccoli's Benefit

Scientists already knew that sulforaphane, a compound found in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables like cabbage and turnips, helps prevent cancer. Now, thanks to researchers at the Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, scientists know exactly how sulforaphane works to counteract cancer-causing environmental pollutants at the genetic level.

The study, published in the September 15 Cancer Research, is the first to use gene chip technology to look at a cancer prevention agent. Gene chips are a relatively new technology that, borrowing principles from the semi-conductor industry, hold up to 500,000 pieces of DNA on a dime-size piece of glass and allow scientists to study entire genomes rather than single genes at a time. Says Shyam Biswal, assistant professor of Environmental Sciences, "When you eat broccoli, what genes get activated? We found all the genomic targets."

The study is important for two reasons: Understanding how sulforaphane works will make the development of targeted cancer prevention drugs and compounds possible, and Biswal and his team have demonstrated the usefulness of using gene chips to test cancer preventative compounds.

Keeping Pace With the Heart

Working with guinea pigs, Hopkins Medicine researchers have found a "natural" alternative to mechanical pacemakers. By genetically altering potassium levels in guinea pigs with damaged hearts, Eduardo Marban, Junichiro Miake, and Bradley Nuss were able to turn non-pacemaking heart cells into pacemaking heart cells, a process that could one day replace mechanical pacemakers. Their findings were published in the September 12 Nature.

According to Nuss, now at the University of Maryland, a healthy heart functions like an orchestra taking signals from a conductor. People with damaged hearts that require a pacemaker are simply "missing" their conductor, so the pacemaker tells the heart when to beat. The Hopkins team determined that, in fact, the heart's "orchestra members" each know how to play without the conductor. By lowering the heart's potassium levels, the researchers allowed the cells to do just that. --Sally McGrane


Datebook

September 28, 2002

In September, the Hopkins football team opened with two victories. One week later, Jim Margraff, Hopkins' all-time winningest football coach, pursued the Jays' third straight win against Carnegie Mellon University.

6 a.m.: Margraff awakens. "I don't sleep during the season. I'll go to bed around 1 or 2 in the morning, and wake up between 5 and 6." Reviews game plan, which presumes Carnegie Mellon won't be throwing the ball. Not to worry; Jays' defense looks great this year.

10 a.m.: Arrives at Hopkins locker room. Prepares material for his assistant coaches. Players come in an hour later, don tape, pads, uniforms.

12:25 p.m.: Supervises team's warm-up.

12:55 p.m.: Gives pre-game pep talk on the field instead of in cramped, hot locker room. The message: "Play with emotion and discipline."

1 p.m.: CMU kicks off. Margraff sends in three plays, lets quarterback George Merrell call the one he wants. "We've got smart guys. We'll play against some people who are better than us, but the smart take from the strong."

13:40 of the 1st quarter: Merrell sprints 12 yards into end zone. Hopkins leads, 7-0.

11:52, 2nd quarter: Hopkins scores again, leads 14-0. Margraff studies list of plays in hand.

14:58, 2nd quarter: Bad call nullifies Jays' third touchdown. Margraff looks disgusted.

Halftime: Coach finds official, tells him he's fine with the call. Thanks him for working on a Saturday.

9:55, 3rd quarter: Carnegie Mellon scores, game now 14-7. CMU quarterback is throwing passes left and right. So much for Hopkins' game plan. Margraff shrugs. "You adapt, improvise, and overcome."

14:40, 3rd quarter: Merrell throws touchdown pass. Hopkins up 21-7. Margraff paces, claps, paces some more.

14:15, 4th quarter: Jays add insurance touchdown, cap 28-7 victory. Now 3-0 for first time since 1967. Margraff calmly walks off field.

4 p.m.: In locker room, coach tells team: "'Pre-season' is over." Conference schedule starts next week against Gettysburg. Back to work.

6:30 p.m.: His wife has been hosting her sister's wedding shower, but Margraff figures coast is now clear. Goes home.

Note: At press time, the Jays were 5-0, their best start in 71 years. --DK


Up & Comer

Name: Bridget Welsh

Age: 35
Assistant professor, Southeast Asia Studies Program, Nitze School of Advanced International Studies

Stats: BA Colgate University '88; MA '91, MPhil '95, PhD '01, Columbia University

Scouting Report: Says Frederick Z. Brown, associate director of SAIS' Southeast Asia program, "Bridget is a rare commodity: a bright, extraordinarily energetic scholar on Southeast Asian political and social affairs who speaks the languages [Malay, Bahasa Indonesia] and who isn't afraid to do independent field research."

Current Work: Writing a book on state formation in Malaysia; studying electoral behavior in Malaysia and vigilantism and gangsters in Indonesia.

How She Came to Her Specialty: "I grew up overseas. My father was a petroleum engineer and we traveled extensively in parts of Southeast Asia. I've often seen myself, from an early age, as bridging different cultures and different perspectives. That's what I'm trying to do in my work."

The Prospectus: "Southeast Asia is in transition. You have a new generation of leaders emerging. It's going through an economic recovery without clear examples to follow. And Southeast Asia has come on the stage in the 'war on terror,' so security is now a major force in its relations with the international system. You have two very large Muslim countries [Malaysia and Indonesia] that see the question of Palestine as a major problem, but the Islam practiced in them is quite different from what is practiced in the Arab Muslim world. It's important to realize that Indonesia is not only the largest Muslim country in the world, but it's also the largest Muslim democracy in the world."

Hero: "As a good, analytical academic, I try to avoid putting people on pedestals. With that caveat, I admire Nelson Mandela, for his sacrifices for his country, his bravery, and his standing up for his principles." --DK


Here and Abroad

Johns Hopkins emergency room physicians are taking their expertise to China, where many doctors lack formal training and formal residencies are virtually unheard of. Each month a Hopkins doctor spends time in the ER of Beijing's Chaoyang Hospital -- a 1,000-bed facility with 1,000 doctors and nurses -- advising physicians, lecturing, and helping to establish formal training programs that will serve as models for other hospitals in China. "I've been extremely impressed with the eagerness of these [doctors] to try to learn medicine from us and how we practice," says Hopkins ER physician Michael DiNapoli. In return, he said, Hopkins doctors may learn more about Chinese herbal medicines. The program is sponsored by Hopkins' Center for International Emergency, Disaster, and Refugee Studies.

Two incoming freshmen, one from Saudi Arabia and the other from Malaysia, remain in a state of limbo in their home countries, unable to begin fall classes, reports Nicholas Arrindell, director of International Student/Scholar Services. In the wake of increased national security, federal officials have held up approving the students' visas. "This is very unsettling for us," says Arrindell. The two, whose admission will be deferred until January, are among 66 international students in the 2002-2003 freshman class at Homewood.

The Singapore Conservatory of Music, a joint venture of Peabody Conservatory and the National University of Singapore, has begun accepting applications for its first class, which will begin training in July 2003. Peabody also announced that Marian Hahn of its piano faculty has been named to the Singapore Conservatory's first endowed chair. --SD, DK


Academese

Talk about a learning curve. This fall, some 180 master's degree candidates in Hopkins' School of Professional Studies in Business and Education signed on as new teachers in Baltimore City, hitting the classroom after a summer of preparation. Many are career-changers who want to make a difference in urban schools. As they teach, they'll work toward completing their degree. Along the way, they'll have to adjust to contemporary classroom parlance:

Assess: Students aren't "tested," they are assessed. What used to be known as the unit test has become the "summative assessment."

Text features: Pictures, graphs, and diagrams. Teachers frequently ask students to "evaluate the effectiveness of the text features."

FAT-P: A prompt teachers give students before standardized writing tests. ("Remember, kids: Form, Audience, Topic, Purpose!")

Inclusion: Federally mandated effort to bring special education children into the regular classroom to the fullest possible extent.

IEP: Implemented for children with special needs (emotional, behavioral, learning disabilities), the Individual Educational Plan is drawn up by a team that includes the child's parents, a special education teacher, and counselor. It can prescribe everything from extra time taking tests to getting help from an IA ...

IA: The instructional assistant who aids in implementing IEPs, either directly (sitting next to the student) or indirectly, by helping the teacher modify lesson plans to help a child with special needs succeed.

FAPE: Under federal law, every student is entitled to a "Free and Appropriate Public Education." --SD


Backlist

India and Pakistan: The Cost of Conflict,
The Benefits of Peace,

Mahmud Ali Durrani
Oxford University Press, 2000

Major General Durrani -- a top graduate of the Pakistan Military Academy, a onetime paratrooper who trained with the U.S. Army, and a commander of his nation's elite First Armored Division until the late 1990s -- is arguing for peace.

In his 118-page book first published by the JHU Foreign Policy Institute, Durrani, a recent visiting scholar at Hopkins' Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, evaluates the risk of confrontation between Pakistan and India. As most of the world has eased back from the nuclear arms race, leaders in Pakistan and India have fueled their own. Among the greatest costs, the author argues: The nations' citizens suffer from failing economies and entrenched poverty. Both governments spend lavishly on defense, shortchanging funding for rural development, water supply, sanitation, and education. Peace, Durrani says, would bring dividends in increased economic trade and stability. --JCS

Return to November 2002 Table of Contents

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