Hub Headlines from the Johns Hopkins news network Hub Thu, 27 Aug 2015 14:58:00 -0400 Protective suit for Ebola caregivers lands Johns Hopkins, Jhpiego among finalists in global design competition <p>A team representing Johns Hopkins and Jhpiego is among the finalists for an international award that recognizes innovative designs that improve lives for its improved protective suit for health workers treating patients with Ebola and other infectious diseases. Winners of the <a href="">INDEX: Awards</a> were announced Thursday night at a ceremony in Denmark.</p> <p>The protective suit was initially designed by a team of global health experts, engineers, scientists, and students at a weekend-long hackathon in October 2014. The event—co-hosted by <a href="">Jhpiego</a>, a nonprofit global health affiliate of Johns Hopkins University, and the Johns Hopkins Center for Bioengineering Innovation & Design—came in response to a call to action from the White House and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for improved personal protective equipment during the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa, which killed nearly 6,500 people, including more than 500 health workers. Clinvue, a Baltimore-based innovation consultancy, also contributed to the design.</p> <p>The suit design has elements to keep the wearer more comfortable than in existing suits and reduce the risk of coming in contact with infectious fluids during treatment and while removing the suit. Enhancements include a large, clear visor in the hood, which is integrated into the suit; air vents in the hood; a rear zipper to reduce infection risks while removing the garment; and a cocoon-style doffing (removal) process that requires far fewer steps than existing garments. A more advanced version includes a small, battery-powered, dry air source to cool the user by blowing air into the hood.</p> <p>"To be considered for this prestigious award alongside so many remarkable institutions is truly a privilege," said Leslie Mancuso, president and CEO of Jhpiego. "As technical leaders in infection prevention and control and experts in building a skilled global health workforce, we are incredibly proud of the suit and its potential to save the lives of nurses, midwives, and other health professionals around the globe who are dedicated to delivering quality care, often under challenging circumstances."</p> <p>Added Youseph Yazdi, executive director of CBID and a professor in the Johns Hopkins University Department of Biomedical Engineering: "It has truly been a privilege and labor of love for CBID's students, faculty, and staff to work with great partners like Jhpiego and Clinvue to design something that addresses such a great need. We are just eager to see this in the field helping the front-line heroes providing care."</p> <p>The Ebola suit is one of five finalists in the Body category at the INDEX: Awards. A total of 46 finalists were selected in five categories from 1,123 nominations. Winners in each category receive $150,000.</p> <p><div class='teaser featured-teaser article has-image'> <div class='thumbnail'> <a href='/ebola'> <img src='' /> </a> </div><div class='teaser-text'><h5 class='overline'>FEATURED COVERAGE</h5> <h2><a href='/ebola'>Johns Hopkins responds to Ebola</a></h2><div class='summary'>Relevant news coverage and helpful resources related to the Ebola outbreak and how Johns Hopkins is responding at home and abroad</div> </div> </div></p> Thu, 27 Aug 2015 13:00:00 -0400 New Johns Hopkins students receive official welcome, well-wishes at annual convocation event <p>Orientation activities came to a close Wednesday night as members of the Johns Hopkins University Class of 2019 received an official induction into the Blue Jay community at freshman convocation.</p> <p>The new students ditched their Hopkins gear in favor of cocktail dresses and ties as JHU President Ronald J. Daniels and other university leaders welcomed the incoming class with celebratory remarks and words of wisdom.</p> <p>President Daniels likened the journey of the new students to that of <em>New Horizons</em>, the spacecraft built and operated by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory that recorded the first-ever close-up photos of Pluto last month.</p> <p>Members of the <em>New Horizons</em> team, the special guests of the evening, stood as President Daniels acknowledged their presence.</p> <p>"Like the <em>New Horizons</em> team, you—and your team of supporters—have set your sights high and fought to get this mission off the ground," Daniels told the first-year students. "Along the way, you may find yourself facing an unexpected debris field—one you could not have anticipated when you began. It may take the form of exams in Organic Chemistry or a tough critique on your first short story or facing long-time rivals on Homewood Field."</p> <p>Daniels' complete remarks, as prepared for the event, are below:</p> <blockquote> <p>Thank you, Vice Provost Phillips. And thank you to our entire Orientation team for their work in getting you here and to the Sirens, the Vocal Chords, and the Archipelago project for the soundtrack to tonight's festivities.</p> <p>Welcome, to the parents, siblings, and friends who are watching from around the world.</p> <p>And welcome to the great Class of 2019!</p> <p>So, I want to start my remarks tonight with a simple request: Would you mind taking out your cellphones. It's okay. We know you have been using them surreptitiously anyway—even as you hang breathlessly on the sage words of your elders.</p> <p>The device you hold in your hand has about 100 times more processing power than this. <em>[Picture of New Horizons spacecraft.]</em></p> <p>No, that's not a vehicle from <em>Star Wars: The Force Awakens.</em> It's the spacecraft <em>New Horizons</em> that in mid-July recorded the first ever close-up pictures of Pluto. <em>[Pictures of Pluto from various perspectives.]</em></p> <p>And it was designed, built, and is controlled by a team of scientists and engineers at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, or APL, as we know it.</p> <p>But what I'd like to do tonight is put this mission in the context of…you.</p> <p>When New Horizons began its historic fly-by journey in 2006, you had roamed the Earth for nine years. The iPhone launch was still a year away. Twitter had exactly zero users. And Pluto was still a planet.</p> <p>Nearly a decade later, as you were making preparations to land at Hopkins—searching out future classmates on Facebook and navigating the aisles of Bed, Bath and Beyond for dorm supplies —<em>New Horizons</em> was making its final approach toward Pluto, navigating the outer reaches of our solar system to upend our understanding of its planets.</p> <p>You may have seen the pictures, if you follow us on Twitter.</p> <p>What you may not know is the backstory of what it took to get them.</p> <p>Let's begin with the fact that the mission almost didn't happen. Funding was tight, and APL and its collaborators had to fight to get New Horizons off the ground. To do so, they assured Congress that they would deliver a spacecraft that would achieve its ambitious scientific aims—but for half the initial budgeted costs. And so Congress agreed, and APL and its partners completed the mission—and in record time.</p> <p>But I am jumping the gun. There is more to the story.</p> <p>Fast forward to 2011. The team is five years into the mission. With the help of the Hubble Space Telescope, the New Horizons team is already gleaning a better picture of the space around Pluto—even allowing scientists to identify new moons in Pluto's orbit.</p> <p>In this case, clearer images also created a clearer understanding of the enormous risks confronting the mission. Along with uncovering those previously unknown moons, scientists feared that these moons might throw off debris into the Pluto system that could batter the spacecraft on its fly-by mission.</p> <p>It turns out that when flying at 30,000 miles per hour, it only takes a particle the size of a grain of rice to knock the craft out. Something roughly this size. *</p> <p>I'm sure you can see it. It's right … there. Thanks to the laws of kinetic energy, that rice grain becomes the equivalent of a speeding bullet—literally.</p> <p>At this point, the team had to troubleshoot.</p> <p>It was as if you had to cram four years of increasingly complex physics courses, homework, and lab experiments into one weekend. It's like that—except exponentially harder and happening as your spacecraft hurtles through space.</p> <p>To manage this challenge, our APL colleagues had to calculate risks and consider alternative trajectories to Pluto. They had to confront the possibility that the only way to protect the spacecraft as it flew through the debris field would be to turn the spacecraft's cameras and instruments away from Pluto. And that would mean sacrificing the epic scientific discovery they hoped for in order to preserve the chance of making any discoveries at all. Luckily, the ultimate answer to this problem set was that <em>New Horizons</em> had a one in 10,000 chance of being hit, so with two weeks left in the mission, the team leaders decided to stay the course.</p> <p>That is, until the afternoon of July 4, 2015, when the spacecraft suddenly went silent. As Alice Bowman, the mission operations manager at APL, wryly observed: watching over this mission is like parenting a teenager. You send it out in the world well equipped and hope that it calls home once in a while (which, of course, you should consider doing every so often to your families back home).</p> <p>Well, that afternoon, <em>New Horizons</em> stopped calling home.</p> <p>They soon figured out that the craft was still connected but had gone into "safe mode" after its computers overloaded with too many commands. So Alice and a team that included the project manager, systems engineer, and several others spent the holiday weekend convincing the spacecraft that everything was okay and it could proceed. They succeeded in uploading the final flight plan with a week to spare before the once in a lifetime flyby. The only thing left to do was hope that <em>New Horizons</em> would make history.</p> <p>After nine and a half years and 3 billion miles, it did.</p> <p>Of course, with a spacecraft flying 3 billion miles away, it actually takes more than four hours for transmissions to travel back to Earth at the speed of light, and several hours after that for the messages to be processed. So we had to wait just a little bit longer to get the final confirmation.</p> <p>But when it came … well, see for yourself. <em>[Video on screen of <em>New Horizons</em> connection moment and celebration.]</em></p> <p>I had the amazing good fortune of being at APL with our collaborators and friends from NASA and the Southwest Research Institute when they celebrated the moment that <em>New Horizons</em>' signal reached Earth.</p> <p>It was both an extraordinary and a very ordinary day for your university.</p> <p>Because, you see, Hopkins is a place that refuses to be derailed by daunting problems, a place that embraces the thrill of intellectual risk-taking to solve those problems as they arise. And I believe we succeed because we are also a place where unparalleled collaboration opens avenues to new ideas and unites individual talents in a whole that is much greater than the sum of its parts.</p> <p>It's just who we are.</p> <p>This is true of the surgeon-scientists, physicists, engineers, and nurses who are bringing new treatments to pediatric cancer patients. It is true of our economists, sociologists, and data scientists who are addressing the entrenched social, economic, and racial inequalities that plague our cities.</p> <p>It's true of Alice Bowman, Peter Bedini, Glen Fountain, Chris Hersman, and Mark Holdridge, the members of the <em>New Horizons</em> team who are here tonight. Would you stand? We know the Class of 2019 would like to meet you.</p> <p>What we saw in them is the same spirit of imagination and intellectual daring we saw in each of you. Not simply because of your transcripts and test scores—that's one snapshot—but also because we know the extraordinary stories that lie behind your arrival at this moment.</p> <p>Now, your journey from Convocation to Commencement will take a little less than half the time of <em>New Horizons</em>' trip to Pluto and significantly less than 3 billion miles.</p> <p>But, like the <em>New Horizons</em> team, you—and your team of supporters—have set your sights high and fought to get this mission off the ground. Along the way, you may find yourself facing an unexpected debris field—one you could not have anticipated when you began. It may take the form of exams in Organic Chemistry or a tough critique on your first short story or facing long-time rivals on Homewood Field.</p> <p>You may sail through it. You may have to navigate a different path to your destination. Or an unexpected encounter may set you on an entirely new trajectory, personally or professionally—a meeting with a patient while you are volunteering at a clinic, a poetry class you took because it fit your schedule, or perhaps a coffee with the person sitting next to you that turns into the relationship of a lifetime. We at Hopkins aim to be a full service organization—and are concerned about your romantic achievements as much as your intellectual ones.</p> <p>So know that whatever your course, we know you will fit right in here.</p> <p>At Hopkins, we do big things. Sometimes they happen in a moment. Sometimes it takes a little bit longer. And if we can get to this … <em>[Pluto image on screen]</em> with less than the power of this … <em>[holds up cellphone]</em>, we know you hold in your hands—and minds—the power to do so much more.</p> <p>By the way, I'll just assume you've been texting each other your next great idea while I've been talking.</p> <p>Welcome once again to the Hopkins family. And bon voyage!</p> </blockquote> Thu, 27 Aug 2015 09:45:00 -0400 Lights, camera, action: Johns Hopkins film program expands to new space <p>When the fall semester begins today, students taking classes in the Johns Hopkins <a href="">Program in Film and Media Studies</a> will be the first to make use of the university's brand new, state-of-the-art production facilities housed in the historic Centre Theatre.</p> <p>The JHU/MICA Film Center, part of the university's <a href="">growing presence</a> in Baltimore's <a href="">Station North Arts and Entertainment District</a>, greatly expands the resources offered by the program and its partnership with MICA's <a href="">Film and Video</a> program. JHU's Film and Media Studies Program—which is part of the Krieger School of Arts & Sciences but attracts students from the Johns Hopkins Peabody Institute who are interested in sound, audio, and film score courses—will also maintain a presence on the university's Homewood campus.</p> <p>"Students can now have access to everything they need to make professional films from their first day at JHU," says program director <a href="">Linda DeLibero</a>, "all in a collaborative, creative space that celebrates the art of film—history, theory, culture, practice—and that brings together undergrads and grad students from these world-class institutions."</p> <p>The 18,000-square-foot JHU/MICA Film Center occupies the second floor of the century-old Centre Theatre building, which opened in 1913 as a car dealership and operated as a theater from 1939 to 1959. The renovated building is now also home to the nonprofit <a href="">Baltimore Jewelry Center</a> and the <a href="">future offices</a> of video game developer <a href="">Sparky Pants Studios</a>. In addition to offices for both Hopkins and MICA faculty, the Film Center includes:</p> <ul> <li>A 49-seat screening room, capable of presenting both digital video and 16mm films. </li> <li>A 600-square-foot sound recording studio—designed by JHU Professor of the Arts <a href="">Thomas Dolby</a> and Peabody Institute Director of Recording Arts and Sciences <a href="">Scott Metcalfe</a>—that includes a smaller booth for vocal dubbing and foley mixing. </li> <li>A 2,000-square-foot cyclorama green room soundstage, which is large enough to accommodate set building and studio shooting (previously most student films relied on location shooting). </li> <li>A film room, which houses the 16mm Steenbeck film editing table. </li> <li>Dedicated individual high-definition editing suites, a computer room with 25 Macs, an equipment cage, classrooms, and lounge and meeting areas.</li> </ul> <p>Additionally, the <a href="">Homewood-Peabody-JHMI shuttle</a> has added North Avenue stops to its northbound and southbound routes.</p> <p>This semester, the center also welcomes the first students in the <a href="">Film and Media Studies Master of Arts</a> degree program. Ten students make up this inaugural class, and <a href="">program</a> director <a href="">Roberto Busó-García</a> has put together an impressive roster of working film professionals as instructors, including:</p> <ul> <li>Screenwriter Jeremy Pikser (who co-wrote <em>Bulworth</em> with Warren Beatty) </li> <li>International acquisitions consultant Erica Motley (also an executive producer working on the Tom Hardy television mini-series, <em>Taboo</em>) </li> <li>Veteran film and television assistant director Ricardo Méndez Matta (<em>A Better Life</em>, <em>Homeland</em>) </li> <li>Eileen Rodriguez, vice president of legal and business affairs at <a href="">Tribeca Enterprises</a> </li> </ul> <p>Busó-García and Peabody's Metcalfe will also teach classes as part of the program.</p> Wed, 26 Aug 2015 15:35:00 -0400 All together now: Johns Hopkins Class of 2019 poses for official class photo <p>On the last day of undergraduate student Orientation at Johns Hopkins University, all 1,310 new Blue Jays assembled side by side on Keyser Quad as a director in the Gilman Hall clock tower shouted commands from a loudspeaker.</p> <p>"Lower part of the nine, can you step a little bit forward?" he asked.</p> <p>The group inched forward, bound by neon pink tape that outlined the formation.</p> <p>After a few adjustments and some last-minute additions, the first-year students created a perfect, life-size "JHU 19" for their official class photo, a Johns Hopkins tradition.</p> <p>"GO HOP!" the students cheered in unison as the camera snapped the photo. When it came time to take a silly shot, hats were raised and thrown. Students piled on one another.</p> <p>"There were so many familiar faces already," said Grace Gannon, a first-year student from Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. "I got to wave to everyone and say hi. I like that we have a smaller community."</p> Wed, 26 Aug 2015 12:50:00 -0400 'Shots on the Bridge' explores deadly police shooting in wake of Hurricane Katrina <p>Ten years after Hurricane Katrina barreled into the Gulf Coast region, New Orleans is still contending with its aftermath, and the nation is still wrestling with the economic, political, and racial disparities in American cities that the disaster forced into light.</p> <p>Whatever the issue—whether <a href="">crises</a> in <a href="">housing</a> or the unequal distribution of <a href="">redevelopment investment</a>—the inconvenient fact is that to this day, <a href="">African-Americans</a> have <a href="">endured</a> the <a href="">brunt</a> of Katrina's <a href="">lasting turmoil</a>, so much so that the storm and its disastrous aftermath can be viewed as the catalyst for a <a href="">new wave of black protests</a>, as evidenced by the <a href="">Black Lives Matter</a> movement.</p> <p>With his new book, <a href=""><em>Shots on the Bridge</em> (Beacon Press)</a>, <a href="">Associated Press</a> investigative journalist Ronnie Greene—a 2013 graduate of, and now <a href="">science writing faculty member</a> in, the <a href="">Johns Hopkins Advanced Academic Programs writing program</a>—zeros in on a Katrina case that highlights another pressing contemporary issue: police brutality.</p> <p>Subtitled <em>Police Violence and Cover-Up in the Wake of Katrina</em>, Greene's book examines a shocking incident that took place on the morning of Sept. 4, 2005, six days after Katrina made landfall. Two New Orleans families, both African-American, were crossing the city's Danziger Bridge that day when a group of armed men spilled out of a Budget rental truck and began firing on them. When the shooting stopped, two of the unarmed civilians were dead and four others were wounded. (This <em>Times-Picayune</em> <a href="">graphic</a> provides a detailed timeline of the shooting.)</p> <p>The men were plainclothes members of the New Orleans Police Department who had responded to an officer-in-distress call. Some of them almost immediately began making plans to cover up what happened, claiming they saw a gun and responded with appropriate force to a life-threatening situation, then inventing witnesses who could attest to those facts. It took a few years for a federal investigation to indict, try, and convict five officers involved, but the presiding judge vacated the guilty verdict. Last week, the five New Orleans police officers were <a href="">granted a retrial</a>.</p> <p>Greene says he first came across the Danziger case in the fall of 2011. Earlier that year, he and his wife moved to the Washington, D.C., area when he started working for the <a href="">Center for Public Integrity</a>—he was a project editor on its <a href="">Breathless and Burdened</a> series, in which reporter Chris Hamby details how the coal industry's lawyers and doctors denied miners' black lung claims; the series was awarded the <a href="">2014 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting</a>. Greene knew he wanted to write another book. His first, <a href=""><em>Night Fire: Big Oil, Poison Air, and Margie Richard's Fight to Save Her Town</em></a>, followed one woman's grassroots fight against the giant Shell Oil Company after a chemical plant explosion in her small Louisiana town, a years-long journey that took Margie Richard from schoolteacher to <a href="">environmental activist</a>. So Greene understood the twists and turns a fight for justice often involves. He started looking into the Danziger case around the time he began graduate school at Johns Hopkins.</p> <p><em>Shots</em>, recently excerpted at <a href=""><em>Al-Jazeera America</em></a>, is a bracingly disquieting read. In fewer than 300 pages, Greene explores why these two families stayed behind, how they ended up on that bridge that morning, the NOPD's history of violence, the disorganized state of New Orleans law enforcement during and after Katrina, and the fallout of that terrible morning on the bridge. Greene will discuss the book, which has received favorable reviews from <a href="">NPR</a> and <a href=""><em>The Times-Picayune</em></a>, during a <a href="">taped C-SPAN2 interview</a> scheduled to air Saturday night at 7:30 p.m.</p> <p>The Hub caught up with Greene by phone to talk about investigating police brutality cases, the culture in which such corruption takes place, and the difficulty of seeking justice when cops are the defendants.</p> <p><strong>In your notes about the research, you say you were first drawn to the case when you saw an AP story about it in August 2011 and knew it would make a good book. What was it about this story that attracted you to it? This is before Judge Kurt Englehardt reversed the decision, so what about the story at that moment drew you to it?</strong></p> <p>There was one afternoon where I was just looking at the wires and I saw a story out of New Orleans about the conviction of the officers in this really tragic, painful event that occurred just days after Katrina. There were so many abuses during and after Katrina, this was the first time I had seen a story set just on this case. I took a few minutes to read this story and it was a very moving piece because it had information about the victims who were on the bridge, including Ronald Madison, a 40-year-old man with the mental development of a 6-year-old, who had been shot on the bridge. And something about reading that story, I just knew instantly that this was a book. My initial thought was, to the best extent that I can, to stop time, to get a sense of who were the residents on the bridge, who were the officers on the bridge, and how did they get there. Why was everyone still in New Orleans? How did they get to the bridge that day? To call it a tragedy is an understatement. I just knew at that moment that this was worthy of a deep exploration.</p> <p><strong>How did you start? And I ask because in your notes you talk about the mammoth trove of documents and transcripts and interviews you went through. Did you start by going through initial news reports to get a sense of the timeline? Where do you start putting together something that seems even at first blush fairly complex? And I'm sure the first few layers you unpeeled led you to even more complexities than that.</strong></p> <p>My instinct told me that this was such a meaningful story to pursue, but when you're trying to work on a nonfiction book there's no guarantee that your hope for a book will become a book. So the way I look at it is you have to do enough research to really have your arms around the subjects enough that you feel you can put together a compelling proposal, knowing that that's just the beginning of the research. So my next steps were trying to do that, to put my arms around what's going on. I had read a bit of the clips, and I had seen some of the lawsuits filed by family of the victims on the bridge. I started pulling up some of those lawsuits and reading the narrative backstories. And this was still early on, I was doing it nights and weekends, apart from my day job and grad school. And then in April 2012 was the sentencing of the officers; the four shooters on the bridge and one supervisor who went to trial were sentenced in New Orleans. I flew down to New Orleans to cover the sentencing, just to get a fuller sense of the story. I went from there and just kept reporting and reporting until I felt like I had my arms around the key elements of what happened.</p> <p><strong>In the research process, were there any surprises? As in, did you come across something that you didn't expect to give you an insight or a new perspective on the case?</strong></p> <p>The thing that kept striking me in researching this over a period of three years was how much there was to learn. I felt like every time I looked into one element of the story I was learning something new, whether it was about the officers and the people on the bridge and how they had gotten there that day, whether it was about the history of the New Orleans Police Department and its civil rights cases that go back decades. Learning about the terror and the trauma of Katrina in New Orleans. And, of course, learning about what happened in the case from the sentencing forward—I felt like every time I looked into one element I was learning something else.</p> <p>Let me give you one example. There were so many tumultuous moments in this story, from the hurricane coming in until that fateful morning, Sunday, Sept. 4. It was almost so much tragedy to take in you couldn't take it all in at once. One of the things I did later on in the reporting was get the transcript of the trial that played out over several weeks in the New Orleans summer of 2011. I read the entire transcript, and every time I read that transcript I learned something new. One of the families that was on the bridge was the Bartholomew family. A mother and a father, they had three children with them, and they had one of their nephews and their nephew's friend. That morning, the mother and father, two of the kids, and the nephew and the nephew's friend were heading out from the decrepit hotel they were staying in. They were trying to get to a store to get some cleaning supplies for the hotel, and also to get some medicine.</p> <p>The Bartholomew family had stayed in New Orleans because Susan Bartholomew, the mother, had just one van and there were 10 or 11 family members needing to get out. The van's not big enough to take everyone. And she made the decision, "If we all can't go, we're all going to stay." That's why they stayed.</p> <p>And on the bridge, Susan's arm was shot off, her husband was hit by shrapnel in the head. Her 17-year-old daughter, Lesha, was down by her mother and literally laid on top of her mother trying to protect her as the bullets kept coming. Their nephew, José Holmes, was shot in multiple parts of his body and barely survived. And José's friend, 17-year-old James Brissette, was killed. And the youngest son that was with them is Leonard Bartholomew IV—Little Leonard, they called him, because his dad was Big Leonard.</p> <p>There's so much tragedy here—the mother's lost her arm, her daughter's trying to save her mother's life in this heroic moment of lying on top of her—that in a way I lost track of Little Leonard. And as I looked into this much later I found that Little Leonard [who was 14 at the time] ultimately was taken in by a stranger and went up to Baton Rouge for a couple of weeks. This stranger, a great Samaritan, took him in, put a notice on the Internet, and one of Leonard's relatives from Texas saw the notice, came to Louisiana, picked him up, and they went instantly to the hospital. This was weeks after the shootings. Little Leonard had no idea what was going on with his family, and his mom, Susan, woke up with no idea where her son was. So Leonard goes to the hospital, sees his mom in a hospital bed and her arm is amputated. He sees his sister in a hospital bed; she can't walk. He sees his cousin, José Holmes, who is like a brother to him, he's in a hospital bed and he can't even talk. He can barely move. And suddenly this teenage boy, who escaped only because an officer fired two shots at his back and missed both times—he looked at his cousin José and basically said, <em>Why wasn't I shot, too?</em></p> <p>That moment just really hit me and I didn't get into that moment until years into the research because there were so many things to learn and so many painful, poignant moments that it took me forever.</p> <p><strong>That leads me a bit into my next question: You're looking at one case, and you're never going to know everything about it, but you do have the luxury of some time and distance from it to pore over it. Did going through this singular case, trying to get a sense of what happened—from Katrina and its immediate aftermath, through the shooting on the bridge, and up to and after sentencing—give you any sense of things journalists should be asking when they're in the midst of reporting a police brutality or corruption case? Did writing this give you any insight into ways to cover or questions to ask when a similar kind of case is ongoing?</strong></p> <p>I can answer that in two ways. One of them is that while I really focused on those moments on the bridge, it was important to understand those moments in context of the New Orleans Police Department's history. So I went back several decades and looked at some of the really infamous cases of police abuse against unarmed citizens. There are several cases where that happened. One New Orleans female police officer is on death row today. And the Danziger shooting is not the only tragic police shooting after Katrina. The other case, [which took place] just within days of the Danziger shooting and [which] also got a great deal of attention, is the <a href="">Henry Glover case</a>. There have been cases since. And after these events, the Department of Justice did a really detailed investigation, looking at the current history of civil rights abuses by the New Orleans police, with some really striking findings. So I spent a lot of time looking at those moments on the bridge, but I had to go backward and forward to understand it in context. That would be my advice to researchers—this case is the spine of what I'm looking at, but it fits into a larger story, and that's what I tried to do.</p> <p>Another thing I would say is keep an eye out for the culture of the department. In this case, there was a cover-up that was starting to be put in play right on the bridge before the paramedics took everyone away. That was laid out in testimony at the trial. One of the people I interviewed is the former mayor of New Orleans and the head of the National Urban League, Marc Morial, who had a very keen interest in this case because of his ties to New Orleans and his current role now. And he said, and I'm paraphrasing, but basically if the police department has corrupt practices, those kick in right away. And I think there's evidence of those kicking in right away here.</p> <p><strong>I wanted to ask you about that bigger context, because you do a compelling job of providing a background of the New Orleans PD's problematic history and touching on the culture in which corruption takes place. Did your own investigation lead to an understanding of how those things develop and persist? You allude to some things—reform-minded leadership that isn't in place for a long time, court systems that don't punish this behavior when it actually gets to court. I realize you can't make broad, sweeping generalizations from one case, but did having to take a deep dive into this culture and department offer some indications of how these issues develop over time?</strong></p> <p>One of the things I heard, and I heard this from a former police officer in New Orleans who spent many years patrolling the urban core who is now a lawyer for police, and I heard this from Marc Morial and others, is that it really starts at the top. I don't want to sound cliché, but it starts at the top, from the mayor's office down. Who the mayor picks as his or her police chief really makes a huge difference. I talked to a number of civil lawyers in New Orleans and police watchdogs, and Marc Morial, when he was the mayor, appointed an outsider, a man from D.C. who wasn't friends with officers and came in and, apparently, had a focus of weeding out real corruption. The mayor of New Orleans at the time [of the Danziger shooting] was Ray Nagin, who had not had prior political experience and was a populist mayor who appointed a popular colleague already in the force [to be chief], who was really close with officers. And one thing I heard is, <em>You have to have a culture at the top where the message is sent that these types of abuses will not be tolerated</em>. And I think one thing that struck me when looking at the cover-up is you don't see any sense that the officers involved here were looking over their shoulders at the officers above them. You don't get any sense that there was any pressure from City Hall down to make them go a certain way or not. You didn't see that at all. And I think with a different type of administration, and I'm getting this from multiple different voices, you would see this differently. So the culture starts there, at the top.</p> <p><strong>I was very impressed by the concision of your storytelling in the book. You're dealing with a wealth of information and you're presenting it tightly. And you do it without trying to add emotion where the facts of the case are doing that for you. And I wanted to ask you to talk a bit about the writing process, because in the past 15 months or so we're seeing a lot more writing about police brutality for obvious reasons, and as much as we see a fair amount of conventional news reporting, we're also seeing a lot of emotionally powered storytelling. There's room for both, but this strikes me as a story where you don't need to add for the emotional weight of it, and the severity of that emotion, to land.</strong></p> <p>One of the things I always try to say as a reporter and editor, and this would apply to any deep dive, the story is the star, the writer is not the star. What happened on that bridge—the events leading up to it, what happened, and the events after it—was profound, and I didn't need to put anything extra in it. The best thing that I could do is tell the story and get out of the way. Let the story tell itself. My wife essentially told me that when she read some very early drafts, and she was so right. So my challenge as a writer was to gather as much information as possible. Try to keep an eye out for details that are telling or revealing. Learn as much as I could about the people and the place. I drove up and down that bridge so many times just to get a sense of it, and I retraced the steps of everyone as best as I could. But all of that was geared toward letting the story tell itself because, you're right, it didn't need anything more than that. The story is powerful enough that it carries itself.</p> <p><strong>I wanted to ask because I wanted to know if you have any advice for reporters following similar situations or even cities that are in the grips of watching a case like this play out, because we're now 10 years down the line from this and the case is still in the system and, for many people involved, it has yet to come to a resolution.</strong></p> <p>That's really one of the striking things to me, to be honest with you. The residents on that bridge were completely innocent. There was one family we talked about; they stayed behind because they had one van. The other family, the Madison brothers, Ronald and Lance, stayed behind because Ronald didn't want to leave his dogs. They were both driven away from their homes by the storm. Each family was on the rooftop waiting and pleading for help. And each [family] that day was just trying to survive. One family was trying to get to Winn-Dixie. The Madison brothers were trying to get back to their family house not far from where they were staying at their brother's dental office, essentially to get on bikes and pedal away. They couldn't get there, so by nature and fate they were drawn together on that bridge the moment that the police raced out. They were good families, good citizens, just trying to survive. They did nothing wrong, yet it's been 10 years and the [case] is still unsettled. That speaks for itself on the difficult road for justice—and experts will tell you this—when officers are on the other side as the accused.</p> Wed, 26 Aug 2015 11:27:00 -0400 Big-picture, reflective outlook on life could promote greater satisfaction, research suggests <p>There's more than one way to gain a sense of control over your life, according to new research from Johns Hopkins University.</p> <p><a href="">Erik G. Helzer</a>, an assistant professor at the <a href="">Johns Hopkins Carey Business School</a>, notes that the traditional view of a life in control is one in which an individual has taken actions to ensure success in both the near and long terms. This is "primary control"—the attempt to win mastery by striving for goals and asserting one's will upon circumstances.</p> <p>But, Helzer argues in <a href="">a study recently published by the journal <em>Social Psychological and Personality Science</em></a>, another method, "secondary control," has been overlooked in both scientific literature and the attitudes of Western societies. Secondary control can be described as a mindset in which one accepts and adapts to the fact that much of life can't be bent to human will.</p> <p>Each method of control operates in a unique way and contributes significantly to a person's sense of well-being, Helzer explains. His study, co-authored by <a href="">Eranda Jayawickreme</a> of Wake Forest University, examines the role of secondary control in everyday life, not merely in the usual context of clinical studies involving people who use the method as a coping strategy after major traumas.</p> <p>For their study, Helzer and Jayawickreme conducted two experiments with more than 500 subjects. The participants were asked a series of questions that measured their satisfaction with life, their mood at the time of the study, and the extent to which they agreed with statements reflecting primary or secondary control.</p> <p>In a central finding, the researchers saw that both methods of control were associated with positive present mood in the test subjects, but only primary control was linked to negative mood. Helzer and Jayawickreme write that this finding "suggests an interesting role for secondary control in promoting well-being." That is, the "sense making and experiential learning" employed by someone who takes a more big-picture, reflective view of life could "succeed in promoting feelings of daily happiness, warmth, and peace," even in the face of negative experiences.</p> <p>"Think of the old Frank Sinatra song, 'My Way,'" Helzer said. "A man is looking back on his life, and he generally feels satisfaction with how things turned out, but it wasn't all happiness. That's a richer notion of what it means to live a good, full life. It's an attitude that doesn't downplay the negative experiences of life, and yet it allows for a different kind of engagement with life so that reappraisal and learning can occur and lead to greater satisfaction.</p> <p>"This gets at what secondary control is about, being able to fit one's experiences into a broader narrative of life. Gaining mastery of your life and feeling satisfaction shouldn't be the domain exclusively of primary control. The idea of gaining mastery over your circumstances without having to conquer them is an important one. That's one thing we wanted to get across in this paper, that secondary control shouldn't be viewed as a passive, second-best, last-resort strategy, as it is in the previous literature."</p> <p>How might the paper's findings fit in the context of a business education?</p> <p>"I teach a course in managing conflict, and I see that topic as being ripe for future work on control questions," Helzer said. "Within organizations, you see managers who want to change the behavior of employees, and employees who waste a lot of time feeling frustrated when they encounter the limits of their control over certain outcomes or the behavior of their peers. Each side wishes the other behaved differently. So the potential here for understanding conflict and learning how to manage it could be huge. Being able to accept the other person's position and then build on that could be key to resolving conflicts, or at least to engaging colleagues in a more productive way.</p> <p>"You don't have control over a lot of situations, at work or elsewhere in your life," he added. "But you do have control over your response to it, over the meaning you assign to the event. Sometimes you have to give up on the idea that 'I just want to show that I'm right.' It's important to note that secondary control can be just as active and beneficial a method as primary control."</p> Tue, 25 Aug 2015 12:50:00 -0400 Baltimore gets $3.7M grant to address lead paint, other safety hazards in city homes <p>At a back-to-school event in East Baltimore this morning, U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro joined Baltimore City officials and major philanthropic and nonprofit leaders to call for more action to make homes healthier and safer, giving children better opportunities to stay healthy and succeed in school.</p> <p>Castro announced that the Department of Housing and Urban Development has awarded a grant of more than $3.7 million to Baltimore to protect children from lead-based paint and other safety hazards.</p> <p>"Every family deserves to live in a safe and healthy home where they can see their children thrive and excel," Castro said. "Communities will use these grants to help eliminate home-related hazards in neighborhoods across the country. A healthy home is vital to the American Dream."</p> <p>The event took place at the Henderson-Hopkins School, which is operated by the Johns Hopkins School of Education. Castro was introduced by Johns Hopkins University President Ronald J. Daniels.</p> <p>Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, U.S. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, and Baltimore author and civic activist Wes Moore—a 2001 JHU graduate—also attended the event and discussed the critical importance of making homes healthier and safer. Several leaders from national and Baltimore foundations were on hand to stress the connection between healthy homes and student success.</p> <p>"If our kids are missing school because of asthma or other ailments, or if they arrive here from homes that are full of lead paint, they cannot succeed academically," Daniels said.</p> <p>"Our university often talks about our role—our obligations—as an anchor institution in Baltimore. But we also welcome and seek out partners who share our aims. The group gathered here today represents a powerful collection of government, nonprofits, and foundations, all focused on the same goals—supporting the children of Baltimore."</p> <p><strong>Also see:</strong> <a href="">Baltimore to get $4 million to address lead paint in homes</a> (<em>The Baltimore Sun</em>)</p> <p>Lead, a harmful neurotoxin linked to stunted growth, kidney damage, and delayed development, has been banned from household paints in the U.S. since 1978, but lead paint remains common in Baltimore due the prevalence of poverty and older homes in the city. A 2013 <a href="">report by the Maryland Department for the Environment</a> noted that 65,000 children in Baltimore were identified as having dangerously high levels of lead in their blood from 1993 to 2013. According to the 2013 data, Baltimore's lead poisoning rate among children under age of 6 is more than twice the national average.</p> <p>Today's event was hosted by the Baltimore-based <a href="">Green & Healthy Homes Initiative</a>, the nation's largest organization focused on healthier housing. The group, which is now operating in 25 cities, has worked for three decades to improve living conditions for children, families, and seniors by making systemic home improvements that reduce the risks of lead-paint poisoning, asthma, and other health hazards. The theme for the gathering was "Healthy Homes Makes Healthy Readers."</p> <p>"By improving energy efficiency, addressing environmental health factors that exacerbate asthma, and fixing hazards like lead paint, we improve grade-level reading scores, reduce school absences, increase a parent's ability to get to work, and lower housing costs," GHHI President and CEO Ruth Ann Norton said. "These investments in proven healthy, safe, and energy-efficient housing interventions simply work. And we have the data to prove that."</p> <p>GHHI's housing interventions have lowered hospitalizations by more than 65 percent while improving school attendance by 62 percent, Norton said.</p> <p>The grant to Baltimore is <a href="">among more than $48 million in Lead Hazard Reduction Demonstration grants awarded to 14 local and state government agencies</a> today by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The awards are aimed at reducing the number of lead-poisoned children and protecting families by targeting health hazards in nearly 3,200 low-income homes.</p> <p>In Baltimore, the grant will pay for assessments of 330 homes for lead hazards and other environmental health hazards in Baltimore. Based on the assessments, the grant will help pay for lead hazard control in 230 homes and work to remove other environmental health hazards in 115 homes.</p> Mon, 24 Aug 2015 09:15:00 -0400 More than 1,300 new Blue Jays arrive at Johns Hopkins <p>This weekend, 1,310 members of the Johns Hopkins Class of 2019 arrived on the Homewood campus, to the sounds of applause and whistles as a crew of First Year Mentors and move-in volunteers cheered their arrival.</p> <p>The new Blue Jays, chosen from an applicant pool of nearly 25,000, had a busy weekend ahead of them with dorms to decorate, spirited celebrations to attend, and a new city to explore.</p> <p>As cars packed with carefully-labeled first-year necessities filed to the front of the freshman residences, First Year Mentors quickly whisked away the new students and escorted them to their new home away from home. A group of move-in volunteers were on hand to assist, lugging everything from life-size teddy bears to Tempur-Pedic mattress toppers.</p> <p>Over the next few days, a frenzy of first-year activities ensued.</p> <p>The Amazing Snapchat Race sent students around campus in search of famous campus landmarks and the view from President Ronald J. Daniels' home.</p> <p>On Saturday night, students gathered on Homewood Field for a kick-off celebration, followed by the annual First Night ceremony. Students were asked to embrace their "s" (like the "s" at the end of Johns, the first name of the man whose gift established the university) and decorate a bag with something that makes them unique.</p> <p>During "Baltimore Day," small groups of students set out to explore their new neighborhood, venturing beyond Charles Village to the Inner Harbor, Bolton Hill, Little Italy, Druid Hill, Station North, Mount Vernon, Federal Hill, and Fells Point.</p> <p>At the Baltimore BBQ that followed, students feasted on Maryland favorites, from crab cakes to the famous Berger Cookies to corn on the cob smothered in the unofficial state spice, Old Bay.</p> <p>"I'm so excited," said Jaycee Yao, a new student from China. "I'm looking to meet new people and enjoy the new atmosphere."</p> Mon, 24 Aug 2015 08:16:00 -0400 Doctor's support key to successful weight loss, Johns Hopkins study suggests <p>A review of survey data from more than 300 obese people who participated in a federally funded weight loss clinical trial found that although the overall weight loss rates were modest, <a href="">those who rated their primary care doctor's support as particularly helpful lost about twice as many pounds</a> as those who didn't.</p> <p>In a report on the study by Johns Hopkins researchers, published in the Aug. 21 issue of <em><a href="">Patient Education and Counseling</a></em>, the researchers say the findings could inform the development of weight loss programs that give primary care physicians a starring role.</p> <p>Researchers have long known that high-quality patient-doctor relationships marked by empathy, good communication, collaboration, and trust are linked to better adherence to medication schedules, appointment keeping, and other good outcomes, says <a href="">Wendy L. Bennett</a>, assistant professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a primary care physician at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. Previous studies also have shown, she says, that obese patients are more likely to report poor physician-patient relationships, with evidence of decreased respect and weight bias from providers.</p> <p>To see whether and what aspects of those relationships might influence weight loss efforts, Bennett and her colleagues reviewed information gathered by Johns Hopkins' <a href="">Practice-based Opportunities for Weight Reduction</a>, or POWER, trial, a two-year, randomized, controlled study funded by the federal government. During the trial, some obese patients worked to lose weight with the aid of health coaches while their efforts were supervised by their primary care physicians.</p> <p>At the end of the trial, patients filled out surveys that asked, in part, about their relationships with their primary care physician, including questions about how often their providers explained things clearly, listened carefully, and showed respect, as well as how helpful their physicians' involvement was in the trial. Of the 347 patients who filled out surveys, about 63 percent were female, about 40 percent were African-American, and all were obese, with body mass indices of 36.3 on average. Each participant also had one of three cardiovascular disease risk factors: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes.</p> <p>Results of a review showed that nearly all of the 347 patient surveys completed for the Johns Hopkins study reported high-quality relationships with their physicians, with the overall relationship showing little effect on weight loss. However, those patients who gave their physicians the highest ratings on "helpfulness" during the trial lost an average of 11 pounds, compared to just more than 5 pounds for those who gave their physicians the lowest "helpfulness" ratings.</p> <p>More than one-third of adults in the United States are obese, according to National Institutes of Health statistics. Though Medicare and private insurance reimbursements are low or nonexistent for physician-guided weight loss interventions, Bennett says, the findings could spur new reimbursement models that provide for physician involvement and enable more team-based care models.</p> <p>"This trial supports other evidence that providers are very important in their patients' weight loss efforts," Bennett says. Many current weight loss programs are commercially run, she adds, and patients often join these programs without their physician's knowledge.</p> <p>"Incorporating physicians into future programs might lead patients to more successful weight loss," she says.</p> <p>Other Johns Hopkins researchers who participated in this study include Nae-Yuh Wang, Kimberly A. Gudzune, Arlene T. Dalcin, Sara N. Bleich, Lawrence J. Appel, and Jeanne M. Clark.</p> Thu, 20 Aug 2015 15:48:00 -0400 Hopkins doctors assist in treatment of burn victims after massive Taiwan water park fire <p>A team from the Johns Hopkins Burn Center flew to Taipei, Taiwan, last month to provide medical care to survivors of the recent disaster at a popular water park, where colored powder sprayed on concertgoers during the June 27 "Color Play Asia" event ignited, killing 10 people and injuring more than 500.</p> <p>The group, led by <a href="">Stephen Milner</a>, director of the <a href="">Johns Hopkins Burn Center</a>, was part of a massive effort to treat burn victims following the incident. The Hopkins team also included Christina Catlett, assistant professor of emergency medicine; Kevin Gerold, associate professor of anesthesiology and critical care medicine; Denver Lough, plastic and reconstructive surgery resident; Linda Ware, director of burn rehabilitation services; and Theresa Lynch, a critical care and burn nurse. They traveled from Los Angeles on the presidential plane with Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou.</p> <p>The team visited 12 hospitals across the country and worked with the Taiwanese medical teams on surgeries, rehabilitation, critical care, and nursing techniques.</p> <p>"It was a memorable exchange for many reasons, and we hope our effort will help in the recovery of these brave young people who are receiving excellent care from their own medical staff," Milner says.</p> Thu, 20 Aug 2015 14:30:00 -0400 A quick look at the Johns Hopkins University Class of 2019 <p>Members of the Johns Hopkins University Class of 2019—more than 1,300 of them—will begin arriving on campus later this week. Who are they? Here's a quick look at JHU's newest undergrads.</p> <p><img src="" /></p> Thu, 20 Aug 2015 12:00:00 -0400 Hearing their voices: Johns Hopkins researchers tune in to what young Baltimore residents have to say <p>The conversation starts with a knock on the door, or a greeting at a public spot like a basketball court. After introductions, the first line of questioning is, "What's your life story?"</p> <p>What the "Hearing Their Voices" project is finding is that people want to talk. The free-ranging conversations researchers are having with young residents around Baltimore usually last about two hours. One lasted four.</p> <p>The research team, under the umbrella of the Johns Hopkins University's <a href="">21st Century Cities Initiative</a>, has been moving across Baltimore neighborhoods from east to west, giving residents ages 16 to 24 a chance to share their perspectives. Team members are dropping by homes, rec centers, and community hubs looking for young people willing to open up about their daily lives and, in particular, their experiences with the criminal justice system.</p> <p>It's one of <a href="">several rapid response research projects</a> launched by Johns Hopkins after the April 12 death of Freddie Gray and the protests, unrest, and national media attention that followed.</p> <p>Researchers are focusing on the area around Mondawmin Mall, where police in riot gear clashed with adolescents in late April, as well as the Morrell Park and east Highlandtown neighborhoods.</p> <p>Through the project, the team has also formed some stronger connections in the communities they've been working in. In Penn North, for example, they got acquainted with neighborhood fixture Sister Tanya White of the <a href="">Gethsemane Baptist Church</a>. In July, the team members volunteered at one of the church's regular food outreach events; they planned to return later to conduct interviews with young parishioners there.</p> <p>The goal is 60 interviews total, to be transcribed and shared with the public—including those in the communities.</p> <p>The conversations are revealing that Freddie Gray's story and the events that followed remain fresh in these young people's minds, though some have admitted, "I've never actually talked about what happened in April," says team member Janice Bonsu, a recent Hopkins grad who served as Student Government Association president. One teen told her: "People have told me what they think I should feel, but nobody has actually asked me how I really feel."</p> <p>At the same time, researchers have also learned that for many, Freddie Gray's death isn't necessarily the lightning-rod moment the media has made it out to be.</p> <p>"The problems didn't start or end with respect to the Freddie Gray situation," says <a href="">Monica Bell</a>, a Harvard PhD candidate who teamed up with Johns Hopkins researchers to help lead the study. "A lot of people are saying that's not the moment when they realized this is a problem."</p> <p>Bell got involved with the project through her Harvard affiliation with <a href="">Kathryn Edin</a>, a sociologist in JHU's Krieger School of Arts and Sciences who directs 21st Century Cities. The interdisciplinary effort works on solutions for revitalizing American cities, including but not limited to Baltimore. With the rapid response projects, Edin is overseeing the qualitative side with sociology professor <a href="">Stefanie DeLuca</a>.</p> <p>On the ground, the "Hearing Their Voices" team numbered about a dozen this summer, a mix of high-schoolers and 20-somethings from Baltimore communities, alongside college interns from Hopkins and elsewhere. At Gethsemane Baptist, Sister White noted that their youth helps lead to more candid conversations. "It's easier to talk to someone of a similar age," she says.</p> <p>A ceremony in early August on JHU's Homewood campus marked the end of the summer's research for some interns, with presentations of some preliminary findings. But the project will continue through fall with most of its team intact, Edin says. They'll continue to share information through public forums and other outlets, possibly publications.</p> <p>"We're hoping to be able to add the perspectives of youth—in their own voices—to the public debate" through both academic and non-academic channels, Edin says. She says the research could expand over the year to include shopkeepers and other local stakeholders. The project is housed at the <a href="">Poverty and Inequality Research Lab</a> at Johns Hopkins, which encourages collaboration between faculty and grad students.</p> <p>Community events and engagement are also a critical piece of this project, Edin notes.</p> <p>"This is not just a one-way exercise," she says, "but really a two-way exchange."</p> Thu, 20 Aug 2015 09:50:00 -0400 Ice Bucket Challenge helped make ALS breakthrough possible, researchers say <p>Researchers at Johns Hopkins are crediting the viral ALS Ice Bucket Challenge with helping to raise the funds needed for an important scientific step forward in our understanding of the deadly disease.</p> <p>In <a href="">a study described earlier this month in the journal <em>Science</em></a>, the researchers offered <a href="">an explanation for the protein clumps found inside the brain or nerve cells of patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis</a>, more commonly known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease, a progressive neuromuscular disease with no known cure.</p> <p><a href="">Philip Wong</a>, a professor of pathology at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and the study's lead author, <a href="">told <em>The Washington Post</em></a> that the more than $220 million in donations generated globally by the Ice Bucket Challenge played a key role in making his team's work possible.</p> <p>"Without it, we wouldn't have been able to come out with the studies as quickly as we did," said Wong, who is affiliated with <a href="">The Robert Packard Center for ALS Research at Johns Hopkins</a>. "The funding from the ice bucket is just a component of the whole—in part, it facilitated our effort."</p> <p>The Ice Bucket Challenge, an online push to raise awareness and funding, encouraged Facebook users to film themselves pouring a bucket of ice water over their heads, then share the video in their feeds and urge others to take the challenge and/or make a donation to support ALS research. About three million people took the plunge.</p> <p>Approximately 6,400 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with ALS each year, according to the <a href="">ALS Association</a>, which <a href="">reintroduced the Ice Bucket Challenge this month</a> in hopes of garnering more awareness and support. Those living with the disease typically die within two to five years after they are diagnosed.</p> <p>More from <em>The Post</em>:</p> <blockquote> <p>Wong and his team have been studying ALS for about a decade, but as Jonathan Ling, another researcher at Johns Hopkins, said in an <a href="">"Ask Me Anything" thread on Reddit</a>, the millions of dollars brought into the field has given researchers the financial stability to pursue "high risk, high reward" experiments.</p> <p>"The money came at a critical time when we needed it," Wong said.</p> </blockquote> Wed, 19 Aug 2015 20:00:00 -0400 Johns Hopkins announces new, consolidated sexual misconduct policy <p>Johns Hopkins University today unveiled a <a href="">new sexual misconduct policy</a>, consolidating several existing policies into one and outlining a new, streamlined process for the review and resolution of cases.</p> <p>The policy spells out the procedures for reporting sexual misconduct—including sexual assault complaints—the rights of the complainant and the respondent, the obligations of the university, and the protocols for investigating and resolving a complaint. It also reiterates the prohibition on retaliation against those who make complaints or participate in the process.</p> <p>In announcing the new policy, Johns Hopkins University President Ronald J. Daniels also released a <a href="">report that describes JHU's ongoing efforts to combat sexual violence on its campuses</a>, highlighting the work the university has undertaken over the past year.</p> <p>"As a community, we have worked to determine how best to prevent sexual misconduct of all kinds," Daniels wrote in a message to faculty, staff, and students today. "We have enlisted the help of experts in our response to incidents and in our support for those affected. We have worked diligently to educate every member of our community. And, while we have made mistakes, we have held ourselves accountable and continue to improve."</p> <p><strong>Also see:</strong> <a href="">The Johns Hopkins University Sexual Misconduct Policy and Procedures</a></p> <p>The new document combines existing university policies related to sexual harassment, sexual assault, relationship violence, and stalking, a change based on feedback from members of the university community, who indicated that a single policy would be easier to access, navigate, and understand.</p> <p>It also outlines a new process for the review of cases involving student respondents from any Johns Hopkins school. Going forward, those cases will be resolved by a three-person panel made up of two faculty and/or staff members and one retired judge or other qualified legal professional. According to the new policy, appeals will be reviewed by the vice provost for student affairs, Kevin Shollenberger, or his designee.</p> <p>Cases involving faculty and staff respondents will continue to be resolved at the school or unit level, and all cases will continue to be investigated by the university's <a href="">Office of Institutional Equity</a>.</p> <p>The new policy retains existing guidance on consent and includes a clear and detailed definition—"consent requires a clear 'yes,' verbal or otherwise; it cannot be inferred from the absence of a 'no'"—adding that consent cannot be obtained from an individual that is "unconscious, asleep, physically helpless, or … unable to make a rational decision because the person lacks the ability to understand his or her decision." Further, the policy states that consent can be revoked at any time, and past consent does not necessarily imply future consent.</p> <p>Last fall, the university issued a Sexual Violence, Sexual Assault, Relationship Violence, and Stalking Policy and related procedures. At that time, Daniels said that there was "more work to be done, and we know well that solutions to such a persistent challenge will have a lasting impact only if they reflect the voices and perspectives of our community, and most especially our students."</p> <p>Heeding the president's call, the university sought input and perspective from across the Johns Hopkins community, particularly from students. The Sexual Violence Advisory Committee developed and released recommendations based on the feedback it received, leading to the creation of the new unified policy.</p> <p>"Our work is guided by the federal requirements of the Title IX statute and the 2013 Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act," Daniels wrote. "It is shaped by our interactions with the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights, which is investigating our response to reports of misconduct. It is framed by our understanding that a victim is never to blame for a sexual assault. And it is rooted in our fundamental commitment to ensuring our processes are responsive, compassionate, fair, and transparent. I urge you to review the report."</p> Wed, 19 Aug 2015 12:00:00 -0400 Hopkins neuroscientists pinpoint part of brain that taps into our memory banks <p>You see a man at the grocery store. Is that the guy you went to college with or just someone who looks like him?</p> <p>One tiny spot in the brain has the answer.</p> <p>Johns Hopkins University neuroscientists have identified the part of the hippocampus that creates and processes this type of memory, furthering our understanding of how the mind works, and what's going wrong when it doesn't. Their findings are published in the current issue of the journal <em>Neuron</em>.</p> <p>"You see a familiar face and say to yourself, 'I think I've seen that face.' But is this someone I met five years ago, maybe with thinner hair or different glasses—or is it someone else entirely," said <a href="">James J. Knierim</a>, a professor of neuroscience at the university's <a href="">Zanvyl Krieger Mind/Brain Institute</a> who led the research. "That's one of the biggest problems our memory system has to solve."</p> <p>Neural activity in the hippocampus allows someone to remember where they parked their car, find their home even if the paint color changes, and recognize an old song when it comes on the radio.</p> <p>Brain researchers theorized that two parts of the hippocampus—the dentate gyrus and CA3—compete to decide whether a stimulus is completely new or an altered version of something familiar. The dentate gyrus was thought to automatically encode each stimulus as new, a process called pattern separation. In contrast, CA3 was thought to minimize any small changes from one experience to the next and classify the stimuli as being the same, a process called pattern completion. So, the dentate gyrus would assume that the person with thinner hair and unfamiliar glasses was a complete stranger, while CA3 would ignore the altered details and retrieve the memory of a college buddy.</p> <p>Prior work by Knierim's group and others provided evidence in favor of this long-standing theory. The new research shows, however, that CA3 is more complicated than previously thought—parts of CA3 come to different decisions, and they pass these different decisions to other brain areas.</p> <p>"The final job of the CA3 region is to make the decision: Is it the same or is it different?" Knierim said. "Usually you are correct in remembering that this person is a slightly different version of the person you met years ago. But when you are wrong, and it embarrassingly turns out that this is a complete stranger, you want to create a memory of this new person that is absolutely distinct from the memory of your familiar friend, so you don't make the mistake again."</p> <p>Knierim and Johns Hopkins postdoctoral fellows Heekyung Lee and Cheng Wang, along with Sachin S. Deshmukh, a former assistant research scientist in Knierim's lab, monitored rats as they got to know an environment and as that environment changed.</p> <p>The team implanted electrodes in the hippocampus of the rats. They trained the rats to run around a track, eating chocolate sprinkles. The track floor had four different textures—sandpaper, carpet padding, duct tape, and a rubber mat. The rat could see, feel, and smell the differences in the textures. Meanwhile, a black curtain surrounding the track had various objects attached to it. Over 10 days, the rats built mental maps of that environment.</p> <p>Then the experimenters changed things up. They rotated the track counterclockwise, while rotating the curtain clockwise, creating a perceptual mismatch in the rats' minds. The effect was similar, Knierim said, to your opening the door of your home and finding that all your pictures were hanging on different walls and your furniture had been moved.</p> <p>"Would you recognize it as your home or think you are lost?" he said. "It's a very disorienting experience and a very uncomfortable feeling."</p> <p>Even when the perceptual mismatch between the track and curtain was small, the "pattern separating" part of CA3 almost completely changed its activity patterns, creating a new memory of the altered environment. But the "pattern completing" part of CA3 tended to retrieve a similar activity pattern used to encode the original memory, even when the perceptual mismatch increased.</p> <p>The findings, which validate models about how memory works, could help explain what goes wrong with memory in diseases like Alzheimer's and could help preserve people's memories as they age.</p> <p>This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health grants R01 NS039456 and R01 MH094146 and by the <a href="">Johns Hopkins University Brain Science Institute</a>.</p> Wed, 19 Aug 2015 08:19:00 -0400 Johns Hopkins launches nation's first undergraduate minor in computational medicine <p>The <a href="">Johns Hopkins Institute for Computational Medicine</a>, acclaimed worldwide for its groundbreaking research, has launched the nation's first undergraduate minor in the emerging field of computational medicine.</p> <p>The minor course of study exposes students to the fundamentals of computational medicine—a discipline devoted to the development of quantitative approaches to understanding the mechanisms, diagnosis, and treatment of human disease.</p> <p>A core faculty of 19 researchers, who hold primary and joint appointments in multiple departments and schools, will act as advisors to students. Courses will guide students through recent advances in modeling and computing technologies that have opened the door to new possibilities for identifying, analyzing, and treating diseases.</p> <p>The program, which is open to any Johns Hopkins undergraduate, is expected to attract students interested in computer science, biomedical engineering, electrical and computer engineering, applied mathematics and statistics, biology, neuroscience, biophysics, and public health, as well as those interested in medical school.</p> <p>"We can no longer pretend that our mental models and intuition are sufficient to guide us to an understanding of human disease," says Rai Winslow, director of the Institute for Computational Medicine, a multidisciplinary research institute spanning the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and the Whiting School of Engineering. "Complexity demands that we develop experimentally and clinically based mechanistic computer models of disease that can be tailored to the individual and applied to deliver improved health care at lower costs. Students with a minor in CM will have unique preparation for medical school. The role of computer modeling of disease is expanding in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, and students with a minor in CM will be able to pursue novel career paths in these areas."</p> <p>While there are no formal tracks or specializations within the minor, students will be exposed to key areas that include:</p> <ul> <li><p><strong><a href="">Computational Physiological Medicine</a>:</strong> A field that develops integrative, mechanistic models of biological systems in disease and applies insights gained from these models to the development of improved diagnostics and therapies.</p></li> <li><p><strong><a href="">Computational Molecular Medicine</a>:</strong> A field that harnesses massive datasets from high-throughput assays, such as next-generation sequencing systems, to construct statistical models for identifying the drivers of disease.</p></li> <li><p><strong><a href="">Computational Anatomical Medicine</a>:</strong> A field that uses medical imaging and computational methods to analyze the variation in structure and function of human organs in health and disease to assist in the diagnosis and prognosis of complex diseases.</p></li> <li><p><strong><a href="">Computational Healthcare</a>:</strong> An emerging field devoted to statistical modeling and analysis of large healthcare datasets to improve patient health.</p></li> </ul> Tue, 18 Aug 2015 17:00:00 -0400 Study shows remarkable adaptability of our brain's vision center <p>By early childhood, the sight regions of a blind person's brain respond to sound, especially spoken language, a Johns Hopkins University neuroscientist has found.</p> <p>The results, published this week in <a href=""><em>The Journal of Neuroscience</em></a>, suggest that a young, developing brain has a striking capacity for functional adaptation.</p> <p>"The traditional view is that cortical function is rigidly constrained by evolution. We found in childhood, the human cortex is remarkably flexible," said Johns Hopkins cognitive neuroscientist <a href="">Marina Bedny</a>, who conducted the research while at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "And experience has a much bigger role in shaping the brain than we thought."</p> <p>Bedny, an assistant professor in JHU's <a href="">Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences</a>, studied 19 blind and 40 sighted children, ages 4 to 17, along with MIT cognitive scientists Hilary Richardson and Rebecca Saxe. All but one of the blind children were blind since birth.</p> <p>They monitored the children's brain activity with functional magnetic resonance imaging while the children listened to stories, music, or the sound of someone speaking an unfamiliar language. The blind children's vision portion of the brain, the left lateral occipital area, responded to spoken language, music, and foreign speech—but most strongly to stories the children could understand. In sighted children and sighted children wearing blindfolds, that same area of the brain didn't respond.</p> <p>The researchers concluded that blind children's 'visual' cortex is involved in understanding language.</p> <p>Working with individuals who are blind gives cognitive researchers an opportunity to discover how nature and nurture, or a person's genes and their experience, sculpt brain function. Though scientists have shown that occipital cortexes of congenitally blind adults can respond to language and sound, this study provides the first look at how and when the change in brain function occurs.</p> <p>The team found the blind children's occipital cortex response to stories reached adult levels by age 4. Because spoken language had colonized the brain's visual region so early in the children's development, the team realized the brain adaptation had nothing to do with a child's proficiency in Braille, a tactile writing system used by those who are visually impaired. Scientists had previously guessed that brain plasticity for spoken language in blind people had something to do with Braille.</p> <p>Blind children's occipital reaction to the other sounds, music and foreign speech, did increase as they aged.</p> <p>Bedny believes her findings could one day lead to improved therapies for people with brain damage. If someone had a damaged part of the brain, she said, it could be possible to train another part of the brain do the damaged part's work.</p> <p>"Early in development, the human cortex can take on a strikingly wide range of functions," Bedny said. "We should think of the brain like a computer, with a hard drive ready to be programmed and reprogrammed to do what we want."</p> <p>This research was supported by the <a href="">David and Lucile Packard Foundation</a> and the Harvard/MIT Joint Research Grants Program in Basic Neuroscience.</p> Tue, 18 Aug 2015 12:43:00 -0400 Return on investment in biomedical research on the decline, Hopkins researchers say <p>As the amount of money spent on biomedical research in the United States has grown over the past 50 years, there has been diminished return on investment in terms of life expectancy gains and new drug approvals, two Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health researchers say.</p> <p>In <a href="">a report published Monday in the <em>Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences</em></a>, the researchers found that while the number of scientists has increased more than nine-fold since 1965 and the National Institutes of Health's budget has increased four-fold, the number of new drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration has only increased a little more than two-fold. Meanwhile, life expectancy gains have remained constant, at roughly two months per year.</p> <p>"The idea of public support for biomedical research is to make lives better. But there is increasing friction in the system," says co-author <a href="">Arturo Casadevall</a>, professor and chair of the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at the Bloomberg School. "We are spending more money now just to get the same results we always have, and this is going to keep happening if we don't fix things."</p> <p>Casadevall, who did the research with Anthony Bowen, a visiting scholar at the Bloomberg School and an MD/PhD student at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, says that understanding the issues that are making the scientific process less efficient is a key to remedying the underlying problems.</p> <p>"There is something wrong in the process, but there are no simple answers," Bowen says. "It may be a confluence of factors that are causing us not to be getting more bang for our buck."</p> <p>Among the factors, they suggest, is that increased regulations on researchers—everything from the lengthy process of gaining consent to take blood samples for a study to cataloguing every trip to a conference for government oversight—add to the non-scientific burdens on scientists who could otherwise spend more time at the bench. Some have argued that the "easy" cures have been found and that to tackle Alzheimer's disease, most cancers, and autoimmune diseases, for example, is inherently more complex.</p> <p>Casadevall and Bowen also cite "perverse" incentives for researchers to cut corners or oversimplify their studies to gain acceptance into top-tier medical journals, something that has led to what they call an epidemic of retractions and findings that cannot be reproduced and are therefore worthless.</p> <p>"The medical literature isn't as good as it used to be," Casadevall says. "The culture of science appears to be changing. Less important work is being hyped, when the quality of work may not be clear until decades later when someone builds on your success to find a cure."</p> <p>One recent study estimated that more than $28 billion, from both public and private sources, is spent each year in the United States on preclinical research that can't be reproduced, and that the prevalence of these studies in the literature is 50 percent.</p> <p>"We have more journals and more papers than ever," Bowen says, "but the number of biomedical publications has dramatically outpaced the production of new drugs, which are a key to improving people's lives, especially in areas for which we have no good treatments."</p> <p>For the study, the researchers searched through public databases for published medical literature, looked at NIH investment data, FDA new drug approvals, data on life expectancy gains, and other similar data.</p> <p>The authors acknowledge that new drug approvals and life expectancy rates are not the only measures by which to judge the efficiency of biomedical research. But, they argue, when it comes down to it, when someone is sick, they either need medicine or surgery to save their lives and many times the medicines haven't been developed. Also, they say, life expectancy is a good measure of the overall system, because gains have been made due to research into seat belts and pedestrian safety as well as due to medical therapies.</p> <p>Casadevall says that many of the best drugs being used to treat conditions today were developed many decades ago, including insulin for diabetes and beta-blockers for cardiac conditions. From 1965 to 1999, the NIH budget grew exponentially. Over the next four years, the budget doubled before a steady decrease from 2003 to 2014, which is larger than apparent because of the rapidly rising costs of scientific experiments. The cost per new drug, in millions of dollars of NIH budget, has grown rapidly since the 1980s, they say.</p> <p>Casadevall doesn't doubt that more cures are out there to be found and that a more efficient system of biomedical research could help push along scientific discovery.</p> <p>"Scientists, regulators and citizens need to take a hard look at the scientific enterprise and see which are problems that can be resolved," he says. "We need a system with rigor, reproducibility, and integrity, and we need to find a way to get there as soon as we can."</p> Tue, 18 Aug 2015 08:52:00 -0400 Expert advice: Five tips to help ease your child's back-to-school jitters <p>The transition back to school as summer ends can be stressful for children and parents alike. Some anxiety is a normal response, but parents should know the difference between normal back-to-school jitters and anxiety that warrants clinical attention, say psychology experts from the <a href="">Johns Hopkins Children's Center</a>.</p> <p>Anxiety symptoms that continue beyond the first few weeks of school and that seem excessive may require consultation with an expert, says Johns Hopkins Children's Center psychologist <a href="">Courtney Keeton</a>, who specializes in the treatment of childhood anxiety and selective mutism.</p> <p>Many children, for example, have some difficulty separating from parents to attend school. But tantrums when separating, problems sleeping alone, or refusal to attend activities without parents may suggest a problem requiring intervention.</p> <p>Similarly, some shyness or worry about schedules, schoolwork, or friends is natural during the back-to-school transition, but ongoing withdrawal or worries may signal a problem.</p> <p>"If a child's anxiety is causing a great deal of distress in her or his daily life, or if getting along with family members or friends becomes difficult, normal activities in and outside of school are avoided, or there are physical symptoms like stomach aches or fatigue, these 'red flags' indicate that the child's anxiety should be evaluated by a child psychologist or psychiatrist," Keeton says.</p> <p>However, it is normal for nearly all children to experience mild back-to-school jitters that gradually diminish over a few weeks.</p> <p>Here are a few tips to help ease your child's back-to-school anxiety:</p> <ul> <li><p>A week or two before school begins, start preparing children for the upcoming transition by getting back into school-year routines, such as an earlier bedtime and selecting the next day's clothes ahead of time.</p></li> <li><p>Arrange play dates with one or more familiar peers before school starts. Research shows that the presence of a familiar peer during school transitions can improve children's academic and emotional adjustment.</p></li> <li><p>Visit the school before the school year begins, rehearse the drop off, and spend time on the playground or inside the classroom if the building is open. Have the child practice walking into class while the parent waits outside or down the hall.</p></li> <li><p>Come up with a prize or a rewarding activity that the child could earn for separating from mom or dad to attend school.</p></li> <li><p>Validate the child's worry by acknowledging that, like any new activity, starting school can be hard but soon becomes easy and fun.</p></li> </ul> Mon, 17 Aug 2015 12:30:00 -0400 Charm City crash course: Orientation at Johns Hopkins includes full day devoted to seeing, learning about Baltimore <p>Helping new Johns Hopkins students get to know the Homewood campus is one goal of <a href="">Orientation</a> for undergraduates, which kicks off later this week. But another equally important goal is to help them move beyond it.</p> <p>"Baltimore Day," scheduled for Sunday, is designed to help the more than 1,300 first-year JHU students get better acquainted with the city where they'll spend much of the next few years—its culture, its history, its neighborhoods. And its crab cakes.</p> <p>Part of that process began before students arrived in Baltimore. Over the summer, incoming students <a href="">were asked to read</a> <em>The Beautiful Struggle</em> by Ta-Nehisi Coates, the West Baltimore native's memoir of growing up in the city as a young black man. New students will discuss the book in small groups as part of Orientation activities.</p> <p>On Sunday, the incoming students will get the chance to experience their new home up close through a variety of Baltimore-themed activities. In the afternoon, students will spread out across Baltimore in small groups to get a taste of some of the city's neighborhoods beyond Charles Village.</p> <p>In Little Italy, for example, participants will sample pastries from Vaccaro's, give bocce ball a try, and hear from Johns Hopkins Professor <a href="">Eugenio Refini</a> about Italian-American culture, particularly the Maryland experience. Refini, director of undergraduate studies in Italian, is fairly new to Baltimore himself and says he sees the value of "making students aware of other bits of the city" outside the Homewood bubble.</p> <p>"Students tend to live on campus and around campus, so they know this area … but it's important to engage in exploration of Baltimore," says Refini, adding that he has been surprised by how much the city has to offer. "Honestly I've found it much more interesting than I thought when I moved."</p> <p>In addition to Little Italy, different student groups will head to Druid Hill, Station North, Mount Vernon, Federal Hill, and Fells Point, among other locations. Each group will visit some of the sites and attractions in its assigned neighborhood and hear about its culture and character from a community or faculty member, says orientation coordinator Justin Beauchamp.</p> <p>"We want them to learn about the community, meet people within the community, and really just experience it," Beauchamp says.</p> <p>Baltimore Day is book-ended by two major presentations. In the morning, there's "In the City and of the City," during which students will be encouraged to get involved in Baltimore and navigate their way around it. The speakers are Rollin Johnson Jr., who directs the <a href="">JHU Center for Social Concern</a>, and Greg Smith, director of transportation for Hopkins, who will talk about public transit options for students.</p> <p>In the evening, several Baltimoreans—including a current Hopkins undergrad, a faculty member, and an alum who remained a resident of the city—will give short talks, followed by more small-group discussions. One talk will specifically address inequality and poverty in Baltimore and nationally, and will provide an overview of research over the summer in which students interviewed Baltimore residents about the roots of the April unrest.</p> <p>That will be followed by a picnic dinner, where students will get to enjoy some local favorites, including crab cakes, pit beef, Utz chips, and steamed corn with Old Bay seasoning.</p> <p>This is the second year Hopkins has hosted Baltimore Day as part of its Orientation events. The goal, says Beauchamp, is to let new students know that "we're part of Baltimore—we don't just happen to be here."</p> <p>More information can be found on the <a href="">New Student Orientation web page</a>.</p>