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Sunday, January 6, 2013

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  AREA NEWS 

Bioengineers who helped create LASIK eye surgery win Russ Prize A trio of bioengineers have been awarded this year’s Fritz J. and Delores H. Russ Prize for advancements that enabled LASIK and PRK eye surgery. The prize was established in 1999 with a multimillion gift to Ohio University made by OU alumnus and esteemed engineer Fritz Russ and is awarded biennially by the National Academy of Engineering as its top honor. Modeled after the Nobel Prize, the Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ Prize is a $500,000 biennial award recognizing a bioengineering achievement that significantly improves the human condition. Rangaswamy Srinivasan, James J. Wynne, and Samuel E. Blum are being recognized for their development of laser ablative photodecomposition, which made pulsed ultraviolet laser surgery possible. Dennis Irwin, dean of the Russ College at Ohio University, noted the trio’s work is just the kind of achievement that the Russes hoped to celebrate. “LASIK and PRK corrective eye surgeries have given millions of people throughout the world better vision,” Irwin said. “Clearly, the enabling technology, ablative photodecomposition, is responsive to the overarching goal of the Russes, to improve the human condition.” In 1981 while working at the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center, Srinivasan, Wynne, and Blum discovered that pulsed laser radiation at 193 nm from an argon fluoride (ArF) excimer laser could etch animal tissue, with sub-micron precision. Just as important, the laser caused no thermal damage to the adjacent tissue. The initial discovery was made on Nov. 27, 1981, when Srinivasan brought leftovers from his Thanksgiving meal into the lab. He irradiated turkey cartilage with pulses of light from the ArF (193 nm) excimer laser, and found it made a clean “incision” in the tissue. On subsequent days,

Srinivasan and Blum carried out additional turkey cartilage procedures under controlled conditions, measuring the laser’s effect and the number of pulses used to produce incisions. In 1982 and 1983, Srinivasan and Wynne began to study the effects of the ultraviolet excimer laser on human tissue through collaborations with cardiologists, ophthalmologists, dermatologists, and dental anatomists. In 1983, Srinivasan, his IBM colleague Bodil Braren, and ophthalmologist Stephen Trokel published a paper on the potential for laser eye surgery in the American Journal of Ophthalmology. The publication detailed an excimer laser experiment conducted by the two men on several enucleated calf eyes, which also yielded excellent results and is regarded by the ophthalmic community as a seminal paper in laser refractive surgery. Ohio University President Roderick McDavis noted that part of the Russes’ goal in creating the prize was to inspire a new generation of engineers by increasing awareness about how engineering benefits society. “We are very grateful to the Russes and their desire to promote engineering education by creating this extraordinary award, which recognizes how engineering achievements improve the human condition,” he said. “Ohio University is proud to partner with the National Academy of Engineering to steward the Russes’ vision,” said Ohio University President Roderick McDavis. Srinivasan, Wynne and Blum are the seventh recipients of the Russ Prize. They will receive the award at a National Academy of Engineering gala ceremony in Washington D.C., on Feb. 19. Previous recipients of the Russ Prize include the inventors of the implantable heart pacemaker, kidney dialysis, and the automated DNA sequencer.

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School for as long as most people can remember. It is believed that someone locally forwarded a photo of the picture to the foundation’s Staff Attorney Rebecca S. Markert, of Madison, Wisconsin. Now Markert, on behalf of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, is demanding the picture be removed because it is an “egregious violation of the First Amendment.” Markert goes on to cite numerous case files in her letter to Howard. “It is illegal for Jackson Middle School to post religious images on the wall of its school,” Markert wrote. “If true, the District must remove the picture of Jesus at once. We ask that you commence an immediate investigation into the allegation and take the appropriate and necessary steps to bring Jackson Middle School into compliance with the Constitution. Please respond in writing so that we may assure our complaintant, members, and those following the situation that the district has not impermissibly endorsed religion,” the letter stated. “I, personally, don’t believe we are in violation of the Constitution,” Superintendent Howard said. “That picture was donated or presented to the district by Hi-Y Club students and has been hanging in that building since 1947. I have done some research, and because it was a student led presentation, it is permissible as far as I am concerned,” Howard explained. Howard went on to say that he has served as the Superintendent for Jackson City Schools for six years, and that this is the first time anyone had complained about the picture. Howard also stated that the picture hangs in the Wall of Honor portion of the school and that there are many other pictures on display in that entranceway of people who have had an impact in the district over the years. After discussing the situation with the school board members, Howard stated, “I am not running over there to take the picture down and all of the school board members totally support that decision.” Howard indicated that at this point the only way the picture would come down is if he was ordered to do so by a court or judge, or if the board members requested he do so. Markert protected the identity of the person who sent the information and would not divulge

Shown is a copy of the photo in question at Jackson Middle School. The only difference is that the original has become darkened with age and is enclosed in a gilded frame. any information in regards to if this person was from Jackson. She indicated the foundation is a national membership organization that receives tips about church and state violations from all over the country and that they protect the identities of those individuals who make the reports. She also implied that many of the foundation’s members themselves are somewhat secretive because they don’t want to be outed in their communities as atheists. “The first letter was just sent out two days ago and we asked for an investigation to determine whether the picture is still there and then to respond to us about whether or not it was done,” Markert said of Freedom From Religion Foundation’s initial steps. “We normally give about a month for the investigation to be conducted and if we don’t hear back from them within that time, a second letter will be sent,” she added. Markert implied that once the foundation receives a response as to whether or not the entity has complied with their request, they determine what their further actions will be. “Most school districts generally comply,” Markert stated, “But some don’t because of community outrage. Then we decide what the next step will be, and most times they eventually do comply.” Note: The Freedom From Religion Foundation’s letter to Jackson City School Superintendent Phil Howard, can be read in its entirety by visiting www. jacksoncountydaily.com. For more information on the Freedom From Religion Foundation go to www. ffrf.org.

ftackett@timesjournal.com

The Jackson County Times-Journal

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Preparing to transport accident victims, two medical helicopters landed in a field near the scene of a twocar collision at Idaho on Thursday afternoon.

Auto accident takes woman’s life near Idaho FOR THE TIMES-JOURNAL

WAVERLY – The Chillicothe Post is investigating a two vehicle fatal crash that occurred at 3:24 p.m. Thursday, January 3, 2013 on state Route 124 in Pike County. Miriah C. Daniel, age 18, of Peebles, was operating a 2003 Chevy Cavalier westbound on state Route 124 when she traveled left of center striking a 2002 Ford Ranger which was traveling eastbound on state Route 124 and operated by Abigail Horner, age 22, of Waverly. Passenger in Ms. Horner’s vehicle, Amy A. Baker, age 44, of Piketon, was pronounced dead at the scene by David PHOTOS By Julie Billings Kessler from the Pike County Responders work to clear the scene of a fatal accident near Idaho Thursday afternoon. Coroner’s Office. Ms. Horner was transported to OSU Wexner Medical Center by AirEvac and Ms. Daniel was transported to Cabell Huntington Hospital in Huntington, West Virginia by AirEvac. The following agencies provided assistance, Pike County Sheriff’s Department, Ohio Department of Transportation, Pike County EMS, Portsmouth EMS, Benton Township FD and Pebble Township FD. State Route 124 was closed for approximately four hours during the investigation. The accident was located northwest of the intersection of state Routes 124 and 772 near Beavers Ridge Road and Leeth Creek Road. The crash is still under invesTraffic is stopped on state Route 124 for a two-car fatal collision Thursday afternoon. tigation.

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