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  August 2012 Edition
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University News

$125 million U.S.-India Initiative for Clean Energy drives expansion of WUSTL's solar energy program


Hundreds of Washington University physicians make 'Best Doctors' list


Brown School's Master of Public Health program receives national accreditation



Hundreds of random mutations in leukemia related to aging, not cancer


Federal regulatory spending budget to decrease next year


First detailed timeline established for brain's descent into Alzheimer's



Scientists read monkeys' inner thoughts


The bridge: applying occupational therapy where it matters most


Giant ice avalanches on Iapetus provide clue to extreme slippage elsewhere in the solar system




The Record


Alumni & Development Programs




WUSTL Newsroom





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"The health professions are science based, but they are carried out in social settings. We want to have, and must have, good science and well-trained individuals. But that by itself is not enough. If you have someone who has all of the information but has difficulty conveying that information in a way that is credible and understandable to the patient being served, that health outcome may go for naught. We need cultural competence for the outcome to be good."


~ Louis Sullivan, M.D., president emeritus of Morehouse School of Medicine, during his talk on “The American Journey to Health Equity,” at the Brown School on April 11, 2012





Thomas W. Ferkol Jr.,


M.D., the Alexis Hartmann Professor of Pediatrics, professor of cell biology and physiology, and director of the Division of Pediatric Allergy, Immunology and Pulmonary Medicine at the School of Medicine, was installed as vice president of the American Thoracic Society in May 2012. He will serve as its president from 2014-2015.

Robert David H. Gutmann,


M.D., Ph.D., the Donald O. Schnuck Family Professor in Neurology and director of the Neurofibromatosis Center at the School of Medicine, received the 2012 Friedrich von Recklinghausen Award. The Children’s Tumor Foundation gives the annual award to individuals who have made significant contributions to neurofibromatosis research and clinical care.

David Holtzman,


M.D., the Andrew B. and Gretchen P. Jones Professor of Neurology, professor of developmental biology and head of the Department of Neurology at the School of Medicine, has received the 2011 Alzheimer Research Forum Extra Mile Award. He is the only scientist to win the award twice. Holtzman is associate director of the Charles F. and Joanne Knight Alzheimer's Disease Research Center and a member of the Hope Center for Neurological Disorders.

Keith Hruska,


M.D., professor of pediatrics, of medicine and of cell biology, and director of the Division of Pediatric Nephrology at the School of Medicine, was elected president of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research, the world’s leading scientific organization for bone health research, last fall for a one-year term. He previously served as president-elect and as secretary/treasurer from 2006-09.

Henry L. “Roddy”
Roediger III,


Ph.D., the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor in Arts & Sciences, has received the William James Fellow Award from the Association for Psychological Science (APS). Describing Roediger as “one of the world’s best known and most respected researchers in cognitive psychology,” the APS presented him with its highest honor during the association’s annual convention in Chicago May 24-27.

Jean Schaffer,


M.D., the Virginia Minnich Distinguished Professor of Medicine and professor of developmental biology, and Daniel S. Ory, M.D., professor of medicine and of cell biology and physiology, have been elected to the Association of American Physicians in recognition of their work investigating the cellular mechanisms that contribute to heart disease in people who are obese or diabetic.

Robert Alan L. Schwartz,


Ph.D., M.D., the Harriet B. Spoehrer Professor and head of the Department of Pediatrics at the School of Medicine, will become president of the American Pediatric Society in May 2013.



University News


$125 million U.S.-India Initiative for Clean Energy drives expansion of WUSTL’s solar energy program



President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Singh of India walk toward the East Room Nov. 24, 2009. It was during this state visit that they signed a memorandum of understanding to work jointly to accelerate development and deployment of clean energy technologies, to invest in clean energy projects in India and to take significant actions to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.


PHOTO: White House photo by Chuck Kennedy


In The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, there is a moment where the only landline phone in the dilapidated hotel in Jaipur, India, starts ringing after a silence of many years. Sunny, the hotel’s owner, frantically digs through accumulated clutter in the hotel office trying to locate the phone before it stops ringing. Ironically, he is hampered in his search by the cell phone conversation that is also demanding his attention. The scene epitomizes a phenomenon called leapfrogging that holds great promise for sustainable development. ... more


Hundreds of Washington University physicians make ‘Best Doctors’ list


Nearly 400 physicians at Washington University have been named to the Best Doctors in America for 2012. One of every three physicians in St. Louis is a Washington University physician. Best Doctors in America uses peer-to-peer surveys to identify specialists considered by fellow physicians to be the most skilled in their fields and most qualified for reviewing and treating complex medical conditions. Washington University’s 2,100 employed and volunteer faculty physicians are also the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals. ... more


Brown School’s Master of Public Health Program receives national accreditation


The Brown School’s Master of Public Health (MPH) program was recently accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health. The mission of the program, which conducted its first classes in the fall of 2009, is to challenge students to apply transdisciplinary problem-solving skills to public health challenges, especially in vulnerable communities. ... more



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Hundreds of random mutations in leukemia related to aging, not cancer


Even in healthy people, stem cells in the blood accumulate hundreds of mutations. When a cancer-initiating event occurs in one of these stem cells, it captures the genetic history of that cell, including the earlier mutations, and drives leukemia to develop. A schematic of that evolution is pictured above.


PHOTO: Joshua McMichael, The Genome Institute


Hundreds of mutations exist in leukemia cells at the time of diagnosis, but nearly all occur randomly as a part of normal aging and are not related to cancer, new research shows. Scientists at Washington University School of Medicine have found that even in healthy people, stem cells in the blood routinely accumulate new mutations over the course of a person’s lifetime. And their research shows that in many cases only two or three additional genetic changes are required to transform a normal blood cell already dotted with mutations into acute myeloid leukemia. The research was published July 20 in the journal Cell. ... more


Federal regulatory spending budget to decrease next year


The budget for issuing and enforcing federal regulation is expected to decline in the 2013 fiscal year. While the estimated cost of running regulatory agencies in fiscal year 2012 is $59.1 billion — an 8.6 percent increase over 2011 spending — President Barack Obama’s proposed budget for regulation declines to $58.7 billion in 2013. The on-budget cost of regulation is detailed in a new report, Growth in Regulator’s Budget Slowed by Fiscal Stalemate: An Analysis of the U.S. Budget for Fiscal Years 2012 and 2013. The annual report is published by the Weidenbaum Center on the Economy, Government, and Public Policy at Washington University and the George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center. ... more


First detailed timeline established for brain’s descent into Alzheimer’s


Scientists have assembled the most detailed chronology to date of the human brain’s long, slow slide into full-blown Alzheimer’s disease. The timeline, developed through research led by scientists at Washington University School of Medicine, appeared July 11 in The New England Journal of Medicine. As part of an international research partnership known as the Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer’s Network, scientists at Washington University and elsewhere evaluated a variety of pre-symptomatic markers of Alzheimer’s disease in 128 subjects from families genetically predisposed to develop the disorder. ... more



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Scientists read monkeys’ inner thoughts



In the classic center-out reaching task, a monkey reaches from a central location to targets on a circle surrounding the starting position. This task does not allow the neural encoding for hand position to be separated from the neural encoding for hand velocity. If the starting position varies, however, as in the task shown here, hand position and initial hand velocity can be disambiguated.


PHOTO: Moran/Pearce


Anyone who has looked at the jagged recording of the electrical activity of a single neuron in the brain must have wondered how any useful information could be extracted from such a frazzled signal. But over the past 30 years, researchers have discovered that clear information can be obtained by decoding the activity of large populations of neurons. Now, scientists at Washington University, who were decoding brain activity while monkeys reached around an obstacle to touch a target, have come up with two remarkable results. ... more


The bridge


At a homeless day shelter in St. Louis, 27-year-old Rashad McGlone struggles to find his way back to a productive life. “I’m not a bad person,” he says softly. “Drugs overwhelmed me. Now I need to figure out how to get a job. Here, I can get away from those negative things that were all around and identify what I need to do.” McGlone is one of a handful of men who are listening to Allison J. L’Hotta, a doctoral student in the Program in Occupational Therapy at Washington University School of Medicine. As part of her coursework, L’Hotta is not only learning how to give community talks, she also has identified resources in the surrounding neighborhood that can help participants with resume development, job searches, even suitable clothes for a job interview. ... more


Giant ice avalanches on Iapetus provide clue to extreme slippage elsewhere in the solar system


“We see landslides everywhere in the solar system,” says Kelsi Singer, a graduate student in earth and planetary sciences in Arts & Sciences at Washington University, “but Saturn’s icy moon Iapetus has more giant landslides than any body other than Mars.” The reason, says William McKinnon, Ph.D., professor of earth and planetary sciences, is Iapetus’ spectacular topography. “Not only is the moon out-of-round, but the giant impact basins are very deep, and there’s this great mountain ridge that’s 20 kilometers (12 miles) high, far higher than Mount Everest. So there’s a lot of topography and it’s just sitting around, and then, from time to time, it gives way,” McKinnon says. Falling from such heights, the ice reaches high speeds — and then something odd happens. ... more



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