Medicine on the Midway - Fall 2015

Page 1


on the

Biological Sciences Division

FAL L 20 1 5

What the Biological Sciences Division is doing to empower

The art and science of funding research

researchers for success in the new scientific and financial landscape

Dean’s Letter

Dear Colleagues,

“I This issue of Medicine on the Midway examines the funding challenges we face and the innovative ways we are responding.

Kenneth S. Polonsky, MD The Richard T. Crane Distinguished Service Professor Dean of the Biological Sciences Division and the Pritzker School of Medicine Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs The University of Chicago

t wasn’t about the science; it was about how to frame the science. . .” Andrey Rzhetsky, PhD, professor of medicine and human genetics in the Biological Sciences Division, encapsulated the communications challenge that faces all biomedical scientists. The opportunities to prolong life and improve health are many, thanks to new research tools that have resulted in remarkable scientific breakthroughs. However, the commitment to support research funding, particularly by the federal government, is as weak as it’s ever been. So, in order to compete effectively for this limited pool of resources, researchers must develop creative approaches to make their work stand out. In the cover story, writer Stephen Phillips provides a comprehensive view of these funding challenges and our unique responses to them. We are providing access to those who have successful track records in funding, concentrating our resources across the University of Chicago to increase the success of research proposals, and cultivating funding sources beyond the federal government, among other interventions. These efforts are vital to our success in today’s marketplace of innovation and research. One interesting avenue we are exploring is through the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science. We have joined this center as an affiliate, one of only a dozen organizations working under the television legend’s eponymous organization, which seeks to enhance the public’s understanding of science. The goal of using the Alda Center, which uses improvisation and theater exercises to help scientists connect more directly with their audience, is to help us create and promote a culture of communicating research in accessible, engaging and effective ways. This will allow us to better spread the knowledge of our scientific advancements as we seek more research funding and recruit leading faculty, students and staff. But even as we improve our framing skills, as suggested by Dr. Rzhetsky, we continue to be proud of extraordinary research initiatives along the educational spectrum. In this issue, you’ll read about high school students from underrepresented groups who spent the summer working on research with BSD faculty mentors; an innovative International Summer Research program for undergraduates that is solidifying academic and research partnerships with China; fourth-year medical students who presented their research at the 69th annual Senior Scientific Session in May; and the first-ever Quantitative Approaches boot camp for incoming graduate students held in September at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass. Also, I hope you’ll enjoy profiles of Pritzker graduates Mia Lozada, MD  ’08, and Michael Silverman, MD  ’73. Dr. Lozada is passionate about her work with the Navajo community at the Gallup Indian Medical Center in New Mexico, and Dr. Silverman heads a consultancy that provides services to pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry clients. He is the new president of the Medical and Biological Sciences Alumni Association, and he talks about some of his plans for the MBSAA. We thank you for your continued interest in the University of Chicago Medicine and Biological Sciences.



on the

Biological Sciences Division

FA LL 20 1 5

What the Biological Sciences Division is doing to empower

The art and science of funding research

researchers for success in the new scientific and financial landscape

12 The potential for biomedical discovery has never been more promising. Yet investigators face the toughest federal funding climate in decades. Initiatives in the BSD are helping students and faculty stand out in the quest for research dollars, while the University elevates its profile with government agencies, industry and philanthropic sources.

Features 8 Sequencing the genome of a woolly mammoth gives clues to


the molecular basis of evolution, while the genetic makeup of the intelligent octopus may help scientists better understand brain development.

10 22

Mia Lozada, MD  ’08, mixes modern medicine and cultural sensitivity in her practice on a Navajo reservation.

30 Medical student group raises

awareness of spirituality’s place in a patient’s medical journey.

Michael Silverman, MD  ’73, president of the Medical and Biological Sciences Alumni Association, discusses plans for strengthening alumni-student ties. Resourceful graduate students create the advanced tools they need in the field using off-the-shelf materials.

6 BSD faculty member receives MacArthur “genius grant”

Pritzker News


Midway News

32 Medical students promote early literacy in primary care setting

BSD News

2 Partnership brings trauma care to Chicago’s South Side 3 New affiliation with the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science

28 Summer research programs provide stepping stones for undergraduate and graduate students

34 Reconnecting and reminiscing at Reunion 2015 36 The Class of 2019 White Coat Ceremony

John Novembre, PhD

29 Boot camp for incoming BSD graduate students at the Marine Biological Laboratory

Email us at Write us at Editor, Medicine on the Midway The University of Chicago Medicine 950 E. 61st St., WSSC 325 Chicago, IL 60637

Natalie Francis, MS1, tries on her white coat for the first time.


Letter from the Dean

A publication of the University of Chicago Medicine and Biological Sciences Division. Medicine on the Midway is published for friends, alumni and faculty of the University of Chicago Medicine, Biological Sciences Division and the Pritzker School of Medicine.

Aamir Hussain, MS2



Fall 2015 Volume 68, No. 2


The University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine and Biological Sciences Executive Leadership Kenneth S. Polonsky, MD, the Richard T. Crane Distinguished Service Professor, Dean of the University of Chicago Biological Sciences Division and the Pritzker School of Medicine, and executive vice president for Medical Affairs for the University of Chicago T. Conrad Gilliam, PhD, the Marjorie I. and Bernard A. Mitchell Distinguished Service Professor, dean for basic science, Biological Sciences Division Sharon O’Keefe, president of the University of Chicago Medical Center Holly J. Humphrey, MD  ’83, the Ralph W. Gerard Professor in Medicine, dean for medical education, Pritzker School of Medicine


7 Class Notes 3 Hear from your classmates, near and far 38 In Memoriam

Editorial Committee Chair Chris Albanis, AB  ’96, MD  ’00 Lampis Anagnostopoulos, SB  ’57, MD  ’61 Arnold Calica, SM  ’61, MD  ’75 Melina Hale, PhD  ’98 Noah Schwartz, MS4 Jerrold Seckler, MD  ’68 Coleman Seskind, AB  ’55, SB  ’56, SM/MD  ’59 Jack Stockert, AB  ’05, MBA  ’10, MD  ’10 Editor Anna Madrzyk Assistant Editor Gretchen Rubin

Editorial Contributors Hannah Brechka Thea Grendahl Christou John Easton Kevin Jiang Catherine Julitz Ruth E. Kott Ellen McGrew Stephen Phillips Gretchen Rubin Rebecca Silverman Anne Stein Tiffani Washington Lorna Wong Matt Wood Molly Woulfe Biological Sciences Division Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs UChicago News The University of Chicago Magazine

Photo Contributors David Christopher Lloyd DeGrane Megan E. Doherty Jim Haba Robert Kozloff Jean Lachat Katie Long Andrew Nelles Pritzker School of Medicine Shaun Sartin Rebecca Silverman Joel Wintermantle Medical & Biological Sciences Alumni Association Special Collections Research Center University of Chicago Library Design Wilkinson Design


FALL 2015



Midway News

UChicago Medicine partners to provide adult trauma care services


n a move to create a more comprehensive system of needed trauma and emergency care for Chicago’s South and Southwest Side communities, Sinai Health System and the University of Chicago Medicine are partnering to build and operate a Level 1 adult trauma center and to expand emergency services. The UChicago Medicine and Sinai Health System new joint Level 1 adult trauma center will be at Holy Cross Hospital, part of the Sinai Health System. Holy Cross, at 68th Street and California Avenue, is near some of the highest incidence of trauma injury and gun violence in the city. Under the University of Chicago Medicine-Sinai Health System partnership: • Holy Cross Hospital will renovate and expand its emergency department and build a state-of-the-art Level 1 adult trauma center. • UChicago Medicine will provide capital to help fund the facility improvements at Holy Cross Hospital, which are estimated to be in the range of $40 million.

• Sinai Health System, which operates a trauma center at Mount Sinai Hospital, will provide specialists dedicated to trauma care, including emergency department physicians, anesthesiologists, and nursing staff, along with trauma care support services. • UChicago Medicine will provide specialists at the new trauma center dedicated to trauma care, including general trauma, neurosurgeons, orthopaedic surgeons, plastic surgeons and urologists. In addition to the new trauma center at Holy Cross, UChicago Medicine plans to increase access to emergency services on its Hyde Park campus by expanding and building a state-of-the-art adult emergency department. “This important opportunity allows us to extend our commitment to invest our resources where we can have the greatest impact on the critical health needs of our communities,” said University of Chicago Medical Center President Sharon O’Keefe. “This collaborative partnership, a model for

Prematurity research center established at UChicago Medicine


he University of Chicago Medicine has joined forces with Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Duke University School of Medicine and the March of Dimes Foundation to establish a collaborative aimed at unraveling the mysteries of premature birth. Carole Ober, PhD, the Blum-Riese Professor and chair of the Department of Human Genetics, is the principal investigator. Insights from the multidisciplinary team — including geneticists, molecular biologists, epidemiologists, engineers and computer scientists — could reveal new gene expression pathways and novel


therapeutic strategies for altering the expression of relevant genes, resulting in lower preterm birth rates. “Our center will focus on one central question: Does the mis-regulation of key genes cause premature birth?” Ober said. “We’ll approach this challenge from two angles: first studying the changes that happen in normal pregnancy with respect to gene regulation and then trying to understand what part of those mechanisms go awry.” The March of Dimes will invest $10 million over five years in the center, the fifth in a nationwide network of prematurity research centers.


other care providers, leverages our collective experience and resources to expand access to life-saving, quality health care for the communities we serve.” The partnership anticipates filing a Certificate of Need application with the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board, and will also seek approval with the Illinois Department of Public Health. The approval processes and construction are expected to take at least two years.

“We’ll be paying particular attention to racial and socioeconomic groups that have elevated prematurity rates. We think that stress may directly affect gene regulation and manifest itself in biology. While the genes themselves do not change, those genes may be turned up or down with the stress of discrimination or poverty.” Carole Ober, PhD, principal investigator


Alan Alda Center brings science communications workshops to campus BY LORNA WONG

“Communicating science with clarity can only help scientists make their work better understood by voters, by policy makers, by funders, even by researchers in other disciplines — not to mention the scientists’ own grandmothers.” Alan Alda, actor, director and writer


Actor Alan Alda speaking to University of Chicago faculty at the Logan Center for the Arts in 2013. The lecture was part of a workshop sponsored by the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Science at UChicago and the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science.


he University of Chicago Medicine and Biological Sciences has joined the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science as an affiliate, becoming one of a growing number of organizations working under the TV legend’s eponymous nonprofit, which seeks to enhance the public’s understanding of science and health. The Alda Center uses improvisation and theater exercises to help scientists connect more directly and responsively with their audience. The center’s training method also includes “Distilling Your Message,” which focuses on tailoring the message to the audience, word choice and storytelling. “In order for scientists to bring about positive change in the current funding climate in this country, the general public needs to understand their work,” said Alda, best known for his roles in “M*A*S*H,” “The West Wing” and “The Blacklist.” The affiliation is a foundational element of UChicago Medicine’s Research Reputation Committee, launched late last year and headed by Geoffrey L. Greene, PhD, chair of the Ben May Department for Cancer Research, and Julian Solway, MD, associate dean for translational medicine and vice chair for research. This group of faculty, spanning different areas of the basic/biological sciences, is focused on positioning this organization as a thought leader in science and medicine and demonstrating the value of the research conducted here. The committee is supported by Medicine and Biological Sciences Development and the Marketing and Communications Department. The Alda Center, located at Stony Brook University in New York, started with four workshops in 2010 and now includes robust credit-bearing university-wide courses that so far have trained 500 graduate students from 25 STEM programs.

The first science communications training workshop for UChicago Medicine and Biological Sciences faculty was held on campus on September 25. Twenty basic scientists and clinician-researchers, ranging from deans to assistant professors, participated in the all-day workshop. Their experience and feedback will help shape upcoming training programs available for the greater UChicago Medicine and Biological Sciences research community. As an affiliate, the organization has access to training materials, curriculum, lessons learned, programmatic support and surveys. In addition, affiliates may use the center’s online learning modules for scientists and trainers. To date, other affiliates include the American Chemical Society, Boston University School of Medicine, Dartmouth College, Indiana University School of Medicine, Robert Wood Johnson School of Medicine-Rutgers University, State University of New York at Cortland, University of Maine, University of Texas at Austin Dell Medical School, UT Austin Moody College of Communication, University of Michigan School of Medicine and University of Vermont.

Read the latest from the bench and the bedside in Science Life


FALL 2015


Midway News



Professor honored for teaching excellence

New ad campaign highlights life-changing care

Ilaria Rebay, PhD, was named a 2015

recipient of the Llewellyn John and Harriet Manchester Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. Rebay is a professor in the Ben May Department for Cancer Research and the Department of Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology. For the past decade, she has taught Genetics and Development in the Advanced Biology sequence, a full-year course offered to first-year students with exceptional strengths in science and math. She also serves as course director. “University of Chicago students are incredibly eager to learn and genuinely want to think about questions in biology,” Rebay said. “Often in class they will impress me by showing, by the questions they ask, that they’ve really absorbed what I’m telling them and are thinking a few steps ahead. Then you really know you’ve made a connection.” The Quantrell Award — considered the nation’s oldest prize for undergraduate teaching — is one of the highest honors a University of Chicago faculty member can receive. The awards are based on letters of nomination from College students and faculty members. PHOTO BY ANDREW NELLES

Ilaria Rebay, PhD, is awarded one of the 2015 Llewellyn John and Harriet Manchester Quantrell Awards by University of Chicago President Robert J. Zimmer during the 523rd Convocation in June. 4

The University of Chicago Medicine

recently unveiled a reputation-building advertising campaign showcasing patients who received life-changing care at the medical center. The print and television advertisements feature a series of vignettes that tell the stories of a diverse group of patients in key clinical areas. The marketing effort is aimed






he deteriorated, and health gradually ant. ss of breath. His a heart transpl ering from shortne told him he needed o ws Jr. was suff sick that doctors University of Chicag Lawrence Matthe y. He became so performed at the as a firefighter transplant was with cardiomyopath he was sworn in was diagnosed available and the a that two years later, organ quickly became mile, climbing enough a Well ? running d Fortunately, an heart perform in which include well did his new ce knew it was his fitness test, Medicine. How in truth, Lawren enough to pass a building. But transplanted n Dolton. Well dummy out of Rachel Cole, his in south suburba . g a 180-pound his future wife, met draggin he and uchosp when visit ladder 0 or 100-foot the surgery. Because call 1-888-824-020 order soon after an appointment, make perfect working or ip. To learn more ® heart did a backfl N E M E D I C I O N T O F F O R E F R E H T AT

at a wide audience that includes patients, referring physicians, health partners and donors, as well as community, civic and business leaders. “The campaign captures our patients’ experiences with the incredible care teams who offered hope and changed the course of their lives,” said Kathy DeVries, vice president and chief marketing officer. “The ads are emotional, remarkable and human.” The first ad highlighted famed Chicago chef Grant Achatz, owner of renowned restaurants Alinea and Next. Experts at UChicago Medicine successfully treated Achatz for tongue cancer. (See the ad on facing page.) Created by New York agency DeVito/ Verdi, the multichannel strategy will include television commercials in the regional market, digital placement and print ads in prominent publications, including the Chicago Tribune, Chicago magazine and the Chicago edition of the Wall Street Journal. International and community media will also play a key role.

Building a suburban presence


he University of Chicago Medicine recently broke ground for a new $61 million, four-story ambulatory care facility in Orland Park, a southwest suburb of Chicago. The University of Chicago Medicine Center for Advanced Care at Orland Park seeks to meet the growing health care

Rendering of the University of Chicago Medicine Center for Advanced Care at Orland Park.


demands of the region in an outpatient setting with 80 exam rooms. Services will be offered in radiation oncology, orthopaedics, gastroenterology, cardiology, pediatrics, women’s health and surgical consulting. Scheduled to open by early 2017, the 108,000-square-foot facility will be UChicago Medicine’s largest off-site location. Plans are also underway to open a new outpatient facility in Chicago’s fast-growing South Loop. In other recent efforts aimed at boosting community access to specialty care, UChicago Medicine is developing a pediatric subspecialty center at Little Company of Mary Hospital in Evergreen Park, Ill., and will expand pediatric services at Edward Hospital in Naperville, Ill., and Elmhurst Hospital in Elmhurst, Ill.


T O N G U E C A N C E R, H E C A L L E D O U R D O C T O R S A N D M A D E A R E S E R V A T I O N.

Grant Achatz was only 33 when an international food magazine called his restaurant the best in America. But then Grant was diagnosed with stage IV tongue cancer, threatening his ability to taste, speak, and swallow. Several cancer specialists recommended the surgical removal of up to 75% of his tongue. Fortunately, Grant contacted Dr. Everett Vokes, an oncologist at the University of Chicago Medicine, for another opinion. Dr. Vokes recommended a new approach combining chemotherapy and radiation. In just a few short months, Grant’s cancer was in full remission, with no need for tongue surgery. He was ecstatic. Because to Grant, cutting out his tongue would have been like cutting out his heart. To learn more or make an appointment, call 1-888-824-0200, go to, or visit the University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center at our Hyde Park campus or at Silver Cross Hospital.






Midway News


Geneticist receives MacArthur ‘genius grant’ JOHN D. AND CATHERINE T. MACARTHUR FOUNDATION



ohn Novembre, PhD, was at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass., in September, teaching a course on quantitative approaches for incoming Biological Sciences Division graduate students, when he started getting calls from an unknown number. He ignored them, as well as a puzzling text. The computational biologist finally accepted a call while catching up on some work at a restaurant in Woods Hole. It was a team from the MacArthur Foundation with the news that he had been named a 2015 MacArthur Fellow. Awarded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to individuals for their exceptional creativity, significant accomplishments and potential for important future achievements, MacArthur Fellowships are among the most prestigious honors in academia and the creative arts.

“ You can’t be afraid of things outside your comfort zone. My research has led me down many unfamiliar paths — deeper math, obscure aspects of language families, archaeology, genetic processes, and more. I would encourage others to pursue the questions that arise from their work, because you never know where it will take you.” John Novembre, PhD, associate professor of human genetics


Often referred to as a “genius grant,” the fellowship comes with an unrestricted stipend of $625,000 over the next five years that provides recipients the freedom to pursue creative endeavors. Novembre, associate professor in the Department of Human Genetics, is the 34th current or former University of Chicago faculty member to receive the award. His research focuses on the development of powerful mathematical and statistical algorithms that shed light on the evolutionary history of populations, particularly on the processes that shaped human genetic diversity and disease. To this end, his work often relies on anthropology and human history as much as it does on genome sequencing and computation in order to decipher the subtle genetic signatures that appear when species undergo major events such as population bottlenecks, large-scale migration or dispersal events, or the development of resistance to disease. Among Novembre’s most prominent discoveries was the finding that genes almost perfectly mirror geography in Europe — an individual’s DNA can be used to determine the area where they were born, often to within a few hundred kilometers. This built upon insights drawn from earlier work Novembre conducted as a postdoctoral fellow with Matthew Stephens, PhD, professor of human genetics and statistics, in which they uncovered vulnerabilities in a classic statistical tool used to analyze the geographic distribution of genetic diversity and large-scale migration events. Novembre has applied his computational approach toward investigations in many other areas, including human migration, the causes of genetic disease, recombination rates — the mixing of genetic material as it is passed from parent to offspring — and even the genetic origin of domesticated dogs. “Much like physicists who study trace signatures left behind by particles that are difficult to observe directly, we


John Novembre, PhD

study the genetic signatures left behind by important moments in population history,” Novembre said. “Sometimes obscure and difficult math can lead to new insights about the evolutionary process and our human origins. It’s one of the things I love most about our work.” While still carefully thinking about how best to utilize the MacArthur stipend, Novembre is excited for upcoming projects focusing on ancient DNA, particularly from human populations within the past 10,000 years. The fellowship could enable improved data collection and generation, as well as archaeological fieldwork and site visits. A current project that could benefit, for example, is work with collaborators that explores how gene frequencies change and how unique genetic events such as the evolution of partial malarial resistance evolved in inhabitants of the island of Sardinia. Novembre has received numerous awards and honors, including an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship and an appointment as a Searle Scholar. His research has been published in such prestigious journals as Nature, Nature Genetics and Science. To read more about John Novembre and his work, visit


The BSD’s Committee on Evolutionary Biology (CEB) is having a banner year for awards. In addition to 2015 MacArthur Fellow John Novembre, PhD, three CEB faculty members recently received high-profile honors.

Susan Kidwell, PhD, William Rainey Harper Professor in the Department of Geophysical Sciences, won the Mary Clark Thompson Medal from the National Academy of Sciences for her work on fossil preservation.

Jack Gilbert, PhD,

associate professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution and Department of Surgery, was named one of Popular Science’s “Brilliant 10” for his work studying the microbiome.

Neil Shubin, PhD,

the Robert R. Bensley Professor in the Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy, shared an Emmy award for outstanding graphic design and direction with the production team for “Your Inner Fish,” a PBS series based on Shubin’s bestselling book. The Committee on Evolutionary Biology is a unique interdepartmental graduate student training program dedicated to the study of evolutionary biology. Faculty and students in the program engage in interdisciplinary studies that range from single generations to the entire history of life, from a molecular to a global scale.

Faculty elected to National Academy of Medicine


niversity of Chicago Medicine physicians Melissa Gilliam, MD, MPH, and David Owen Meltzer, PhD ’92, MD ’93, have been elected to membership in the National Academy of Medicine, considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine. Gilliam is the University’s dean for diversity and inclusion, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology, and pediatrics, and section chief of family planning and contraceptive research. As a physician, she addresses the gynecologic needs of girls and adolescents, with an emphasis on youth of color, sexual minorities and young people at risk for poor sexual and reproductive health. She also heads the University’s Center for Interdisciplinary Inquiry and Innovation in Sexual and Reproductive Health (Ci3) and is cofounder of the Game Changer Chicago Design Lab, which designs educational games and digital media projects for youth. Meltzer is a professor in the departments of medicine, economics and the Harris School of Public Policy. He also serves as director of the

Melissa Gilliam, MD, MPH

David Meltzer, PhD  ’92, MD  ’93

Center for Health and the Social Sciences, chair of the Committee on Clinical and Translational Science, and director of the University of Chicago Urban Health Lab. His research uses economic analysis to address problems in health economics and public policy with a focus on the cost and quality of care, especially in teaching hospitals. He also is a national leader in the study of the relatively new specialty of hospital medicine. With the two new appointments, there are now 13 current or emeritus faculty members who belong to the NAM.

Kronforst named Pew Scholar

Roosevelt medal for Olopade

Marcus Kronforst, PhD, Neubauer Family

Olufunmilayo I. Olopade, MD, the Walter

Assistant Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution, was named a 2015 Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences by the Pew Charitable Trusts. Scientists are nominated for their dedication to pursuing the high-risk, high-reward research that can lead to extraordinary findings in bioscience. Kronforst’s research focuses on evolutionary genetics, using butterflies as a model organism. He and his collaborators have made seminal discoveries, including the genetics of monarch butterfly migration and Marcus Kronforst, PhD warning coloration, a gene that functions as a mimicry supergene and the genetics of speciation. His current work aims to pinpoint genes linked to color preference. The 22 new Pew Biomedical Scholars this year join the ranks of more than 600 outstanding scientists who have been selected as Pew Scholars in the 30 years since the program’s inception.

L. Palmer Distinguished Service Professor of Medicine and Human Genetics and associate dean for global health, received the Franklin D. Roosevelt Freedom from Want Medal. The award is one of the Four Freedoms medals presented annually to individuals whose leadership and achievements have advanced the freedoms outlined by FDR in his Olufunmilayo 1941 State of the Union Olopade, MD address. The award recognizes Olopade’s path-finding research showing that women of African heritage can be genetically susceptible to more aggressive, earlier onset forms of breast cancer. “Her research has therefore changed the way doctors screen black women for this disease, ensuring these patients, underserved by the research community, receive proper care. She has successfully linked disciplines, cultures and countries in her mission to save lives,” reads the award citation. MEDICINE ON THE MIDWAY

FALL 2015


The genes that make a woolly mammoth a woolly mammoth BY KEVIN JIANG



Which is why Lynch and his colleagues from Penn State completed the first comprehensive, functional analysis of the woolly mammoth genome, published in Cell Reports in July. To accomplish this, Lynch and his colleagues deep sequenced the genomes of PHOTO BY KEVIN JIANG

Sequencing creatures great and smart

t’s been 10,000 years since woolly mammoths last roamed the frigid tundra steppes, but the lumbering giants continue to spark our curiosity and imaginations. Well-studied due to the abundance of skeletons, frozen carcasses and depictions in prehistoric art, the mammoth has recently made headlines due to research efforts around “de-extincting” the species through genetic engineering. Vincent Lynch, PhD, assistant professor of human genetics, isn’t particularly interested in bringing back the mammoth. He doesn’t even think it’s a great idea. But he does think that they’re an ideal species for studying the molecular and genetic mechanisms by which evolution works.

In the first study of its kind, a team of researchers led by Vincent Lynch, PhD, assistant professor of human genetics, comprehensively analyzed the mammoth genome.

two woolly mammoths and their closest living relatives, Asian elephants. They then compared these genomes against each other and against the genome of African elephants to identify roughly 1.4 million genetic variants unique to woolly mammoths. These caused changes to the proteins produced by around 1,600 genes, which they functionally analyzed via computational analyses, including comparisons to massive databases of known gene functions. Genes with mammoth-specific changes were most strongly linked to fat metabolism, insulin signaling, skin and hair development (including genes associated with lighter hair color), temperature sensation and circadian clock biology — all of which would have been important for adapting to the extreme cold and dramatic seasonal variations in day length in the Arctic. The team even identified genes associated with the mammoth body plan, such as skull shape, small ears and short tails. The team chose one particular gene involved in temperature sensation, TRPV3, and “resurrected” it to study what it did.

Deciphering an “alien” genome BY KEVIN JIANG


ctopuses are not aliens, but they might as well be. Along with squid and cuttlefish, octopuses are cephalopods — a class of predatory mollusks related to snails and clams, with an evolutionary history spanning more than 500 million years (long before plants moved onto land). They possess unique adaptations such as prehensile arms lined with suckers that can taste, camera-like eyes and the most sophisticated camouflage system in the animal kingdom. But it’s their large, highly developed brains, remarkable intelligence and elaborate problem-solving and learning behaviors that make octopuses so interesting for Clifton Ragsdale, PhD, associate professor of neurobiology and organismal biology and anatomy. As a researcher interested in how brains develop and evolve, Ragsdale saw in the octopus an opportunity to study the brain of an intelligent organism as distantly related to vertebrates as possible. A major obstacle, however, was the lack of knowledge about their genetic makeup. So together with international collaborators, including Nobel laureate PHOTO BY MICHAEL LABARBERA, PHD Sydney Brenner, Ragsdale set about sequencing the genome of the California two-spot octopus — the first cephalopod ever to be fully sequenced. They found a gigantic genome roughly 2.7 billion basepairs in size, with more than 33,000 protein-coding genes — slightly smaller in size, but with more genes, than a human genome. The large size of the octopus genome was initially attributed to whole The first whole genome analysis of an octopus was completed by an genome duplication events international team of scientists led by Clifton Ragsdale, PhD, associate during evolution, which professor of neurobiology and organismal biology and anatomy. When transplanted into human cells in the laboratory, the mammoth TRPV3 gene produced a protein that is less responsive to heat, which might have helped mammoths tolerate the Arctic. “We can’t know with absolute certainty the effects of these genes unless someone resurrects a complete woolly mammoth, but we can try to infer by doing experiments in the laboratory,” Lynch said. While his efforts are targeted toward understanding the molecular basis of evolution, Lynch acknowledges that the high-quality sequencing and analysis of woolly mammoth genomes can serve as a functional blueprint for efforts to “de-extinct” the mammoth. “Eventually we’ll be technically able to do it. But the question is: If you’re technically able to do something, should you do it?” he said. “I personally think no. Mammoths are extinct and the environment in which they lived has changed. There are many animals on the edge of extinction that we should be helping instead.”

can lead to increased genomic diversity and complexity. This phenomenon has occurred twice in ancestral vertebrates, for example. However, Ragsdale and his colleagues found no evidence of duplications. Instead, octopus genome evolution was driven by the expansion of a few specific gene families, widespread genome shuffling and the appearance of novel genes. The most notable expansion was in the protocadherins, a family of genes that regulate neuronal development and shortrange interactions between neurons. The octopus genome contains 168 protocadherin genes — 10 times more than other invertebrates and more than twice as many as mammals. It was previously thought that only vertebrates possessed numerous and diverse protocadherin genes. Others included zinc finger transcription factors, which are thought to play roles in neural development. Octopuses have around 1,800 zinc finger transcription factors, the second largest gene family so far discovered in animals (elephants have roughly 2,000 olfactory genes). Hundreds more octopus-specific genes were identified, including genes related to chemosensation in the suckers and light manipulation in the skin. Ragsdale and his colleagues are now parsing through these to reveal more of the molecular and genetic mechanisms responsible for the development of the octopus, particularly its brain. Carrie Albertin, a graduate student in organismal biology and anatomy, was co-lead author of the article, published in Nature in August. “The octopus appears to be utterly different from all other animals,” Ragsdale said. “The late British zoologist Martin Wells said the octopus is an alien. In this sense, then, our paper describes the first sequenced genome from an alien.”


FALL 2015



Building on the past, looking to the future Michael H. Silverman, MD  ’73, reflects on his education, his career experiences and his plans for the Medical and Biological Sciences Alumni Association BY RUTH E. KOTT

I Michael H. Silverman, MD  ’73, wants to build alumni-student relationships in his new role as president of the Medical and Biological Sciences Alumni Association.


“ My professional identity is ‘physician,’ and Pritzker is where that identity was forged. Even though I do not practice patient care medicine, my medical knowledge and perspective are absolutely indispensable to my professional activities and accomplishments.” Michael H. Silverman, MD ’73


n medicine, career paths tend to be linear — medical student, resident, practicing physician. Not so for Michael H. Silverman, MD ’73, president of Boston-area pharmaceutical and biotechnology company BioStrategics Consulting Ltd. He compares his career path to a clock: “At various points in my career, I’ve filled in various quadrants, or hours, of the clock,” he said. Silverman’s clinical education and training, as well as his broad clinical knowledge, filled the first quadrant. After several years in clinical rheumatology practice, he made a transition to the pharmaceutical industry in the mid-1980s. There, in leadership positions, first at large and then at start-up companies, he was introduced to the world of clinical research and drug development. As his career evolved, he learned more about drug development strategy and international drug development. Finally, he worked in a large firm that consulted to pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, filling the last quadrant. In 1999, Silverman founded his own pharmaceutical consulting company, BioStrategics Consulting Ltd. He provides consulting services to pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry clients, including planning clinical trials for new therapeutic agents, evaluating the safety and efficacy of novel drugs, and advising companies on development strategies across all therapeutic areas of medicine. But Silverman wouldn’t have been able to do this without the clinical skills and experiences he acquired over the years. “When a start-up engages me to assist them in developing a novel cancer drug, for example, I can bring a whole suite of skills and knowledge to them,” he said. The clock analogy makes for a timely lesson for the students he mentors. Each part of a career builds upon the parts before, allowing for consistent growth.


Even now, “I’m still learning,” Silverman said. “The clock continues to expand, and I always enjoy the new challenges this brings.” As the new president of the Medical and Biological Sciences Alumni Association, Silverman’s goals include expanding and fostering alumni-student networking and mentorship relationships. “These programs represent only a small commitment on the part of alumni,” said Silverman, a long-time member of the Visiting Committee to the Biological Sciences Division and the Pritzker School of Medicine. “But they bring large and important benefits for students.” The Residency Interview Hosting program, as an example, connects students who are interviewing for residencies around the country with alumni who offer to host them. “The advantages for students are enormous,” Silverman said, “both from an economic and from a mentorship standpoint.” Silverman has funded several scholarships at Pritzker, including a global health scholarship and a scholarship endowed through the Legacy Challenge, the University of Chicago’s campaign to support scholarships for MD and PhD students. “I tried to meet or communicate with every one of the students who was a beneficiary of the global health scholarship,” Silverman said. “They were so impressive, and it made me feel very humble.” For Silverman, being an active and engaged alumnus is all about leverage. “One of the interesting aspects of pharmaceutical industry drug development is that a new drug can help millions of patients — so assisting in that effort, in whatever small way I can, has the potential for tremendous benefit,” Silverman told the Pritzker Pulse. “In a way, I view the scholarship support as leverage operating on two levels: My modest gift enables a small number of Pritzker students to do big things; their work, in turn, can magnify the benefits.”

“I have a desire to keep learning from and caring for communities with less resources, and my scholarship gives me the freedom to live that dream without the looming burden of debt.” Sean Gaffney, Pritzker School of Medicine Class of 2017

Sean Gaffney Pritzker Class of 2017 and Margaret Bradley Scholarship recipient

WHAT WILL SEAN’S LEGACY BE? Sean, a former high-school economics and government teacher in a Texas border town, is driven to help answer big questions about medicine—questions like, “How do we ensure that, as a society, we meet everyone’s health care needs?” The answer starts with protecting the “sacred doctor-patient relationship,” he says. Sean aims to build strong relationships with his own patients and teach future medical students how to do the same, for generations to come.

WHAT WILL YOUR LEGACY BE? The Legacy Challenge is the University of Chicago’s campaign to support scholarships for MD and PhD students. A gift of any amount can help to provide security for students and meet our long-term goal of securing scholarship funding for future students at Pritzker and in the Division of the Biological Sciences. If you’re able to make a leadership-level gift of $25,000 or more, the Legacy Challenge will provide a 50 percent match—$1 for every $2 you contribute.

For more information, visit

the LEGACY Challenge

What the Biological Sciences Division is

The potential for life-changing

doing to



advances has


never been greater.

The funding environment

The art and science of funding research


for success in the new

has never


been more

and financial







un Ji Chung, PhD, had a vision—a nanoparticle delivered intravenously that would detect atherosclerosis, the potentially deadly build-up of plaque in arteries, administer therapy and signal whether the treatment has succeeded. The young biomedical engineer is a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Matthew Tirrell, PhD, dean and founding Pritzker Director of the Institute for Molecular Engineering at the University of Chicago. In 2013, she applied for a K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) to develop the so-called “theranostic” nanodevice. The five-year, $900,000 grant provides for two years of mentored research followed by three years of self-directed work. Chung’s project to open a new front in preventing and treating heart disease would launch her career as an independent investigator.

But, like roughly 78 percent of applicants for these awards across NIH agencies that year, Chung missed the cut. Undeterred, she enrolled in the new Career (K) Award Writing Workshop offered by UChicago’s Institute for Translational Medicine. For three months, Chung and three other postdoctoral researchers turned down for funding were put through their paces for 90 minutes a week by neuroscientist Harriet de Wit, PhD, and physician-scientist Steven White, MD. Between them, the faculty members count decades of experience winning federal awards. White had also just completed a stint chairing the NHLBI study section overseeing the grant Chung sought. “Eun Ji is a superb young scientist,” he said. “There’s little I can tell her about her area of science she doesn’t know.” What the faculty members could offer were insights into how to craft a compelling proposal: cueing the

A proposal writing workshop led by experienced faculty members helped postdoctoral fellow Eun Ji Chung, PhD, win an NIH career development award after being turned down the first time around. Chung is shown outside the William Eckhardt Research Center, which opened this fall. The building houses the Institute for Molecular Engineering and portions of the Physical Sciences Division.


FALL 2015


postdocs to what study sections look for, advising them on fixes to parts of their applications dinged first time round and generally serving as proxies for real-life agency reviewers. “The grasp the class gave me of the intricacies and nuances of grant writing was invaluable,” Chung said. Last November, Chung’s re-tooled proposal was approved. Development of the nanodevice is underway. And the Pathway to Independence Award lived up to its title. Chung fielded offers from multiple institutions before accepting an assistant professorship in biomedical engineering at the University of Southern California, starting next September. PHOTO BY MEGAN E. DOHERTY

Eun Ji Chung, PhD, is developing a nanodevice to detect and treat atherosclerosis. The five-year, $900,000 grant she received for the project supports two years of mentored research followed by three years of self-directed work.


Moment of opportunity Chung’s work exemplifies the emerging possibilities in biomedical research. Employing principles from physics and engineering to harness the remarkable properties of matter at the molecular scale, nanomedicine scarcely existed 15 years ago. It’s not an outlier; new technologies and approaches abound. For example, the CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing system confers exquisite control in manipulating basic biology to pinpoint the function of genes and proteins, as well as to potentially devise new therapies. Meanwhile, high-throughput sequencing, digital imaging and cloud computation herald a massive quickening in our ability to acquire and analyze biological data. To prepare for biology in the age of big data, members of the incoming Biological Sciences Division graduate class convened at the Universityaffiliated Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass., in September for an inaugural


pre-term boot camp on computation and statistics. Attendance at the weeklong intensive was mandatory for most students. “The University is making a big investment,” said Victoria Prince, PhD, dean for graduate education and professor of organismal biology and anatomy. “We’re building on this by developing new courses on campus. Quantitative methods are integral to modern biology; students need to be ready for the exciting times ahead.”

Financial challenges But Chung’s story also demonstrates the financial backdrop to these unfolding opportunities. In 2013, she found herself among more than 2,000 applicants turned down for career development funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which doled out almost $33 million less for these awards that year compared to 2005. NIH funding for biological and medical research is the fiscal backbone of the basic, translational and clinical biomedical research performed by the nation’s universities. Accounting for inflation, it has declined in spending value by 22 percent since 2003, according to the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. At the same time, more investigators than ever are chasing fewer dollars. From 1998 through last year, the number of grant applications more than doubled. Competition for awards is correspondingly stiff. In 2001, almost one in three applications won NIH funding. Last year, slightly more than one in six proposals were approved. The situation is especially bleak for first-time applicants competing against senior colleagues for scarce funds. Despite dispensations intended to level the playing field, their rate of success in securing RO1 grants in 2014 was approximately one in seven. Also hard hit is basic science. In 1990, basic science accounted for almost three-quarters of NIH research spending; this year it is projected to make up a little over half. Amid an emphasis on translational research offering the prospect of more immediate returns, funding for fundamental research has fallen more than 13 percent since 2006, after inflation is factored in. The fallout is being felt at UChicago as it is on every other research campus. Although it rebounded slightly in fiscal 2015, NIH funding for University research declined by 14 percent from fiscal 2009 to fiscal 2014, before inflation is taken into account. “The potential through sequencing, computation, imaging and other technologies for breakthroughs that improve health, prolong life and reduce suffering has never been greater,” said Kenneth S. Polonsky, MD, the Richard T. Crane Distinguished Service Professor of

Medicine and Dean of the Biological Sciences Division and the Pritzker School of Medicine. “Yet the government’s commitment to funding the work needed to produce these breakthroughs has never been weaker.” As a result, the University is not only helping researchers master the skills they need to flourish in a new scientific landscape but also those necessary to navigate a new financial one. Along the way, it is extending a hand to strapped investigators, tapping new sources of funding and taking its message about the importance of robust government support for research to lawmakers.

If history is any guide, many of the young investigators going without funding today are at the top of their game:

Smarter proposals sooner The writing workshop that helped Chung beat the odds forms part of a phalanx of institutional initiatives to help faculty build the strongest case for federal support in an environment where little can be left to chance. This requires turning what has long been something of an art into a science, moving beyond an impressionistic grasp of what makes a winning proposal toward a more data-driven understanding. A key tool in this endeavor is the 11-person Federal Funding Working Group convened in July by the Office of the Provost and slated to report to senior institutional leaders this fall. Comprising administrators and academic leaders from multiple divisions, the panel is tasked with identifying ways to boost faculty competitiveness for federal awards, with a particular eye toward improving the University’s standing relative to peer institutions. “We’re analyzing data on proposal submissions and awards over years to identify trends and drivers, and categorize the reasons behind unsuccessful submissions,” said Jessica Lawrence, director of preaward services and co-chair of the group. “We want to identify where we’ve been successful, where we haven’t and the reasons behind both.” Complementing this exercise is an expanded role in proposal preparation for University Research Administration (URA), the University’s grant management unit. This will allow faculty to farm out the administrative components of applications — project budgeting, logistics and regulatory compliance — to concentrate on the scientific content, said Michael R. Ludwig, associate vice president for research administration and URA director. “The traditional role of our office is to vet proposals for compliance. We’re trying to provide more centralized support from the start of an application. We want to handle the administrative parts of proposals, so faculty can focus on technical writing about their projects.”




Average age at which Nobel laureates in physiology or medicine from 1901 to 2008 performed the work for which they won the prize



Average age for first-time NIH R01 award recipient (MD) in 1980




Average age for first-time NIH R01 award recipient (MD) in 2011


In 2010, investigators AGED



held over twice the number of R01 grants as their counterparts younger than 37.



FALL 2015


incredible time to be doing biology.

Matchmaking in D.C.

“ This is an

The ability at the

level of a cell, tissue or entire organism to explore and control genes and proteins to understand what they’re doing is revolutionary. Coupled to improvements in imaging, it will change how we do science.” Richard Fehon, PhD PROFESSOR AND CHAIR OF MOLECULAR G E N E T I C S A N D C E L L B I O LO GY

“ You might have 100 outstanding scientists submitting applications into which they’ve put considerable thought, and

five to 10 will get funded firsttime around. You

Another prong in the effort to enhance faculty members’ competitiveness for awards involves helping them “get to know their customer — the agency from which they’re seeking funding,” said Eric D. Isaacs, provost of the University of Chicago. Based in Washington, D.C., Kate Von Holle serves as director of federal research development — the University’s dedicated liaison to the NIH and other funding agencies. The role, created in 2013, places UChicago among a select but growing cadre of campuses retaining such representatives. Von Holle funnels news of funding opportunities back to campus and relays updates on new directives that might affect grant eligibility. She also helps faculty navigate agencies’ idiosyncrasies — brokering meetings for them with key personnel — and generally serves as matchmaker between agencies and researchers seeking funding. “I try to meet as many faculty as possible to get a sense of what people are doing and how I can help,” said Von Holle, who has already had discussions with more than 100 faculty members. “I also have meetings on the agency side to understand their priorities and how they might manifest in funding opportunities.” One beneficiary of this networking is Andrey Rzhetsky, PhD, professor of medicine and human genetics. Rzhetsky employs artificial intelligence tools to parse research papers, electronic medical records and other datasets for fresh insights into disease. In February 2014, he learned of a prime funding opportunity with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to apply the technique to cancer data. Together with Von Holle, Rzhetsky met with DARPA officials to get a tighter fix on what the agency was looking for. “Kate organized meetings in which we collected information about how these proposals are written,” PHOTO BY RICK REINHARD

can resubmit and, in the aggregate, around 15 percent might get funded following multiple resubmissions, but that’s a very stringent — probably dysfunctional — success rate for highly trained and accomplished people.” Kenneth S. Polonsky, MD D E A N O F T H E B I O LO G I C A L SCIENCES DIVISION AND THE PRITZKER SCHOOL OF MEDICINE



Kate Von Holle, the University’s director of federal research development in Washington, D.C., helps match researchers to funding opportunities with federal agencies.

he said. “It wasn’t about the science; it was about how to frame the science and what to put in the proposal.” Rzhetsky also drew on expertise from Arete, the University’s research accelerator, with which Von Holle is affiliated, for his submission. “They helped me with the non-scientific components of the proposal, such as the management plan — how the project would be structured and who would do what,” he said. Last summer, Rzhetsky and his team got the nod — $4.5 million to develop computational algorithms that can mine research literature for testable models of the protein interactions behind cancer toward identifying prospective new therapies. “Better still,” Von Holle added, “through the meeting process, Andrey met a bunch of new people, some of whom he’s stayed in touch with.” Such activity forms part of a longer game. Beyond immediate funding opportunities, Von Holle is working to put UChicago investigators on the radar of grant-issuing officials, positioning them as thought leaders and generally raising the University’s profile with those holding the research purse strings. “I call it ‘socializing’ agencies to the work of the University,” she explained. “The ultimate goal is to get more people interested in and aware of the work happening at UChicago. This kind of influence is a long-term play, but it’s important for the University because there are a lot of other universities active and engaged in D.C., promoting their faculty work.”

Bridge to impact Here on campus, the University is nurturing research that might otherwise fall through the cracks. One practical effect of the funding downturn, investigators say, is reticence on the NIH’s part to commit tight funds to research not already substantially advanced toward its goal. Researchers can find themselves in a chicken-andegg situation: needing funds to prove the viability of a hypothesis, but unable to secure them for lack of proof. Among the casualties can be potentially transformative work. “Study sections are looking for researchers to confirm the feasibility of their approach,” said Prince. “It rules out a lot of cutting-edge stuff.” T. Conrad Gilliam, PhD, the Marjorie I. and Bernard A. Mitchell Professor and dean for basic science, estimates that up to one in 10 BSD faculty have received “bridge” funds to ease this quandary and, more generally, sustain them between federal grants. The principle behind the awards is simple: impetus to acquire more data and prove a concept toward securing federal funding. In this way, relatively modest infusions can yield outsize returns.

In 2011, Richard P. Kraig, MD, PhD, the William D. Mabie Professor in the Neurosciences, had a provocative proposal for a new way to treat migraines and multiple sclerosis based on a naturally occurring substance within cells that repairs neural damage. But the NIH deemed it “too far out on the edge,” he recalled. Putting $150,000 from the BSD to work, Kraig built out his dataset and substantiated the hypothesis, parPHOTO BY JEAN LACHAT

A $150,000 bridge grant from the BSD helped neuroscientist Richard P. Kraig, MD, PhD, secure $4.5 million in funding from the NIH and other sources.

laying it into $4.1 million in grants from the NIH plus $100,000 from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and $300,000 from UChicagoTech, the University’s center for technology development and ventures. “We got the data we needed to establish proof of principle and secure the federal funds,” Kraig said. Thanks to $3.5 million from the John Templeton Foundation, another mechanism for incubating earlystage research has been Arete’s Big Ideas Generator (BIG) program. Over the past year, this has disbursed small grants for pilot or proof-of-concept studies and $100,000 awards for projects that are further along but need more data. “We’ve tried to make risky ideas less risky by helping researchers get preliminary data to bring to the NIH,” said Jasmin Patel, MBA’12, Arete’s executive director. Borrowing from Silicon Valley, where venture investors bootstrapping tech startups also provide them with business guidance, Arete has taken a hands-on approach to funding. “It’s about more than giving investigators money,” said assistant director of research innovation Meera Raja, PhD. “We sit down with them Jasmin Patel, MBA  ’12, is executive director of Arete, which has incubated earlystage research through its Big Ideas Generator (BIG) program. Arete is now adapting the online platform developed for BIG into a portal through which faculty will be able to apply for seed funding awards University-wide. PHOTO BY ROBERT KOZLOFF


FALL 2015


“ The lack of emphasis on funding for basic research is particularly shortsighted given its track record of generating findings that have powerfully impacted medicine. Fundamental studies of bacteria fueled the molecular biology revolution that brought safe recombinant insulin to millions of diabetics, for example.”

Victoria Prince, PhD, dean for graduate education



University of Chicago students, from right, Naomi Pacalin, Derek Wong and Alex Yoo, work on research projects in the Institute for Molecular Engineering.

to discuss what the project will look like down the road and the opportunities for future funding.” Now, Arete is adapting the online application system developed for the Templeton-funded awards into a portal for seed funding opportunities University-wide. Awards will remain at the discretion of divisions and departments, but the new web offering will provide a one-stop shop through which faculty can apply for them. “This is about streamlining the application process and making seed awards more easily discoverable for faculty,” Patel said. The service, slated to be operational as early as fall 2016, will also allow officials to better coordinate seed funding across campus and track demand for it more precisely. Arete also offers a lever for generating bold, often cross-disciplinary projects that can contend for substantial federal funding opportunities through quarterly brainstorming sessions it convenes to spur faculty to come up with creative solutions to tough problems. “The premise is to have a bunch of people propose and debate ideas for big things, then figure out the teams we can pull together to make them happen,” Isaacs said.

Diversifying funding At the same time, the University is cultivating funding sources beyond the federal government. One such income stream comes from researchdriven inventions that may either be licensed to


corporations or spun out into start-ups, in many cases involving the faculty investigators themselves. UChicagoTech brought in $5.8 million from commercializing intellectual property in fiscal 2015 — a significant portion of which was plowed back into the research enterprise. The University also pursues industry-sponsored research. Over the past 11 years, corporate backing of BSD research tripled to more than $55 million. Funding for clinical trials accounted for 83 percent of industry research support in the BSD in fiscal 2015 and the University is proceeding cautiously beyond trials, emphasized URA’s Ludwig. “Like our peer institutions, we’ve chosen not to accept funding that restricts our ability to publish research findings.” Still, industry-sponsored clinical and translational research represents an important and growing part of BSD’s research portfolio. Again, UChicagoTech is helping drive this activity. “We’re the interface between what’s happening in University labs and the business world,” said deputy director Steven Kuemmerle, PhD. At this year’s BIO International Convention in Philadelphia, UChicagoTech delegates met representatives from more than 80 companies, he said. “While we’re out there shopping the University‘s technology, we’re spotlighting UChicago investigators and their capabilities.” A so-called “master sponsored research agreement” negotiated by UChicagoTech and URA with BristolMyers Squibb (BMS) in 2012 provides several million

dollars for University research in cancer immunology, a promising new paradigm for cancer care that enlists the immune system to fight tumors as it would a virus. The pact grants BMS certain preferred rights to develop any discoveries arising from the funded research.

The gift of philanthropy Another lifeline for research is philanthropy. Last year, the University publicly launched its biggest capital campaign yet, targeting $4.5 billion in charitable gifts, including a goal of $1.2 billion for medicine and the biological sciences. “We’re seeing a boom in foundation support,” said Peter H. O’Donnell, MD ’03, assistant professor of medicine, who uses philanthropic awards to advance his research into how genes affect patient response to chemotherapy. “They’re real grants, offering hundreds of thousands of dollars. I see them as equivalent to federal grants; they allow you to do your research. They’re a great way to grow your career.” As a corollary, such funds improve investigators’ prospects for securing federal awards. Agencies look favorably upon philanthropy because of the momentum it builds behind work, Isaacs said. “Philanthropy is important for federal awards because agencies like to see leverage on their dollar.” Philanthropy is also a potent source of innovation in funding models. Many philanthropic gifts target pain points, neglected niches and areas of acute need in the current funding climate. For example, the W. M. Keck Foundation, which has previously supported work in molecular biology among other research at the University, expressly solicits novel ideas that would be a hard sell to riskaverse agencies. Among other criteria, the projects they fund must “demonstrate a high level of risk due to unconventional approaches, or by challenging the prevailing paradigm . . . have the potential for transformative impact [and] fall outside the mission of public funding agencies.” Meanwhile, the $150 million Faculty Scholars program, announced earlier this year by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Simons Foundation, extends support (up to $2 million over five years) to young tenure-track scientists, buying them time away from the grantwriting treadmill to double down on their research during a formative stage in their careers. “You have to be creative and look at different sources of support in this funding environment,” said O’Donnell, himself a 2010 recipient of the Cancer Research Foundation’s Young Investigator Award, intended “to enable promising young investigators to initiate successful scientific careers.”

Squeezed from all sides The downturn in federal research support comes at a time when other income streams are coming under pressure and the costs of research are rising. Academic medical centers are feeling the pinch from declining reimbursement amid efforts, through the Affordable Care Act, to curb health care costs. “Our sources of revenue to support research and other academic programs are becoming constrained,” said Kenneth S. Polonsky, MD, Dean of the Biological Sciences Division and the Pritzker School of Medicine and executive vice president for medical affairs. At the same time, government reimbursement for research has not kept pace with escalating administrative and regulatory compliance overheads from proliferating regulations governing the safety and privacy of research subjects and new requirements for investigators to publicly disseminate research findings. “These protections absolutely need to be made,” said T. Conrad Gilliam, PhD, dean for basic science. “But the increasingly onerous burden in cost and time is not being weighed.”


The imperative of NIH support

“ Writing proposals is harder and more competitive than ever. With the Federal Funding Working Group, we’re enhancing the support we provide faculty as they seek funds. This means helping them early on in their careers. It also means sparing them from the minutiae of

Dean Kenneth S. Polonsky, MD, left, introduces Senator Richard Durbin to students. The lawmaker was on campus in 2014 for a roundtable discussion on the research funding crisis. Durbin’s American Cures Act would raise funding for biomedical research.

But the University is not taking its eyes off the ultimate prize: restoration of NIH research funding to historic levels. At over $218 million, funding from the NIH represented more than 45 percent of the $468.7 million the University was awarded for research in fiscal 2015. The importance of NIH funding extends beyond its sheer magnitude. Faculty affirm the primacy of the federal government as a source of disinterested support for research, particularly basic science —the benefits from which may not be felt for decades — for which there can be scant other funding options. “Government funding is critical because it serves the entire population,” said Julian Solway, MD, the Walter L. Palmer Distinguished Service Professor in the Departments of Medicine and Pediatrics and director of the Institute for Translational Medicine. “The government alone can allocate funding broadly enough to create the portfolio of research we need. The incentives for industry are inadequate, and philanthropy, while tremendously important, tends to be focused on specific areas.” Polonsky recasts NIH’s budget, almost $30.1 billion in 2014, as a percentage of total U.S. health care expen-

grant applications. Faculty will always be responsible for the big ideas, but having a group that can take care of the parts of a proposal that are not its imaginative, innovative core makes it easier for them to apply for, and win, awards.” Eric D. Isaacs, PhD P R OVO S T O F T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F C H I CAG O PROFESSOR IN THE D E PA R T M E N T O F P H YS I C S , JAMES FRANCK INSTITUTE AND THE COLLEGE



ditures — projected to reach $3.1 trillion for 2014. “We’re talking about increasing the amount we spend on research, now around one percent of our total health care investment, and the impact would be profound.” “We need a robust pipeline of NIH-funded basic discoveries that industry can apply to make medical advances,” he added. “Without basic science discoveries, you choke off the entire ecosystem.” Spurred by such considerations, the University is flexing its advocacy muscles. In Washington, Von Holle forms part of a fiveperson Office of Federal Relations, established in 2008. “We are very engaged in educating a wide variety of groups on the impact of scientific research on human

health and the importance of federal funding in supporting the national research efforts,” Polonsky said. “This includes meeting with members of Congress.” In spring 2014, the University threw its weight behind legislation proposed by Richard Durbin (D-Ill.)to ease the funding crunch. The American Cures Act would peg increases in the budget of the NIH and other federal granting agencies for biomedical research to inflation plus a premium of 5 percent, injecting approximately $150 billion over a decade. To herald its endorsement of his bill, the University hosted Durbin on campus for a roundtable discussion with faculty and students. In May, Polonsky joined 18 other deans of leading academic medical centers as a signatory to an op-ed in Science Translational Medicine protesting the decline in federal support and calling for a “stable economic platform” for biomedical research.

Grounds for cautious optimism In the meantime, the prospects for such support are finally looking up. Following years of gridlock, political will is building behind increased research spending amid a convergence of factors, said Mary Woolley, president of advocacy group Research!America, a member of the Visiting Committee to the BSD and the Pritzker School of Medicine, and a longtime observer of the Washington scene. In June, the House of Representatives approved the 21st Century Cures Act, which like Durbin’s bill before the Senate would boost NIH’s budget. At the same time, the broad coalition of support coalescing around hiking funding for NIH spans liberal Democrats as well as conservative Republicans who have embraced a well-funded NIH as a tenet of fiscal conservatism — a hedge against incurring greater expense from health care costs down the road. Woolley also notes an increased sense of urgency around research amid mounting anxiety over Alzheimer’s. “Existential threats are an important driver of NIH funding,” she said. “Concern over HIV/ AIDS was one, the War on Cancer another and, before that, polio.” Finally, she sees in CRISPR-Cas9 a breakthrough technology with the potential to grip the imagination and energize lawmakers as the Human Genome Project did in the 1990s. “There remains a lot of work to do on many people’s parts,” Polonsky said. “But sooner or later people will realize we’re doing more harm than good by focusing exclusively on the cost of research.” “This is not a political philosophy,” he added. “It’s about a belief in science and medicine — the power of scientific discoveries to advance medicine.”

Meeting the challenge The Biological Sciences Division and the University of Chicago are taking action across multiple fronts to address the research funding crisis. Here is a sampling of the efforts underway: Boosting faculty competitiveness for federal awards ■■ ITM’s Career Award (K) Writing Workshop ■■ Seminars, workshops and personalized support to help more experienced investigators polish grant-writing skills and refine previously submitted proposals, offered through BSD’s Office of Faculty Affairs ■■ Arete’s Red Team Reviews, pulling together crossdisciplinary teams of experts to review complex proposals ■■ Analysis of previous submissions by the Federal Funding Working Group to put proposal writing on a more data-driven footing ■■ Outreach to federal funding agencies by the director of federal research development ■■ Outsourcing of administrative portions of proposals to a centralized bureau of research administrators (URA) Investing in early-stage research and individual investigators ■■ BSD bridge funding for faculty between federal grants who need additional data for proposals ■■ Seed funding through various University units ■■ Web portal under development by Arete to streamline applications for seed funding opportunities across campus Supplementing federal grants with alternative funding streams ■■ Courting industry support through UChicagoTech and other entities ■■ Launching the University of Chicago Campaign: Inquiry and Impact to raise $4.5 billion University-wide from philanthropic donors, including $1.2 billion for medicine and the biological sciences Public advocacy ■■ Raising awareness among lawmakers of the importance of increased NIH funding through the Office of Federal Relations ■■ Endorsing legislation proposed by Senator Durbin (D-Ill.) to boost NIH’s budget


FALL 2015



Science out of the big box A bespoke laboratory starts with a trip to the store. How BSD graduate students conduct sophisticated field research using everyday materials such as a tailgating cooler, PVC pipe and glitter.

Sixth-year CEB graduate student Courtney Stepien’s research starts with a question, a hypothesis and a trip to Walmart.

“ If I had unlimited funds, I would just buy a whole lab setup right near the field site; we don’t, so we have to be creative.”

Courtney Stepien, graduate student




very summer, the remote community of Sekiu, Washington, swells with transient visitors drawn by the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest and easy access to ocean waters. Tourism, however, is the last thing occupying

the mind of Courtney Stepien, sixth-year graduate student in the Committee on Evolutionary Biology (CEB), as she carefully makes her way through the few remaining bare patches of concrete floor in her landlord’s two-car garage. Strewn across the ground is an assortment of plastic buckets, chest coolers and dozens of small jars. Most are filled with water. A hodgepodge of equipment — wires, cans, boxes, tubes — occupies every shelf, table and chair. The room hums with the sound of electric motors and pumps.



Stepien carries with her several different species of seaweeds, a glistening dark green and brown bounty gathered from nearby waters of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the channel that separates the Olympic Peninsula from Canada. She places them into labeled plastic jars and transfers them onto a rack slowly tilting back and forth inside the largest chest cooler. There, the seaweeds bask under a network of powerful lights while bathed in seawater kept at a constant, frigid temperature by aquarium cooling pumps. To gather data for her study on how changing climate affects the composition of ocean communities, Stepien will check each of the 36 jars every few hours for the next 24 hours. She’ll measure what form of carbon the seaweeds consume and how fast they do so, and repeat this process with freshly harvested seaweeds, again and again, over several weeks — almost entirely through the use of equipment she designed and built by hand. “Usually you would use a commercial environmental chamber with very specific light and temperature controls to do this kind of experiment,” Stepien said. “But we don’t have those kinds of facilities in the field. I had to build something to mimic it as best I could. So I went to Walmart and got the biggest tailgating beer cooler I could find and went from there. The garage was my lab for the summer.” The University of Chicago has a long, storied history of world-leading research, much of it built on some of the most state-of-the-art technologies ever developed. But sophisticated research doesn’t always require expensive technology. Graduate students in the CEB, a unique interdepartmental and interinstitutional training program dedicated to the study of life on earth, know this better than most. For them, constructing their own tools and experimental rigs — from materials purchased in big box stores or local markets, improvised for uses that manufacturers could never have possibly imagined — is simply how science gets done. Without a healthy dose of ingenuity, Stepien’s field experiments in the Pacific Northwest, guided by her advisor Catherine Pfister, PhD, professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution, could not be conducted. Commercial environmental chambers come with a steep price tag, and finding ones that fit her scientific needs — the ability to handle seawater, to hold and agitate large samples, to set up in a remote location — was unfeasible. Building her own chamber, to the exact specifications she needed, was the only option that made sense.

“If we had unlimited funds I would just buy a whole lab setup right near the field site; we don’t, so we have to be creative,” Stepien said. “I think it’s fairly typical for anyone who does fieldwork in ecology. We’ve all made something with duct tape and a painter’s bucket for our experiments.”


A two-car garage in Sekiu, Washington, doubles as a custom-built field laboratory.

Jars of seaweeds, freshly gathered from the nearby ocean waters, are carefully prepared. They’ll be checked every few hours to study how they consume carbon in the face of a changing climate.


FALL 2015



Hand-built hypobaric chambers lie on the floor in a small, improvised laboratory in the Museum of Natural History at Sichuan University in China. Several more are kept cool in a large beverage refrigerator, right. Third-year CEB graduate student Shane DuBay prototypes his creations in Hyde Park, but must assemble everything from scratch on his expeditions to China. Bottom photo, a bird in a homemade hypobaric chamber.

Often, however, just finding the right materials to begin construction can be its own adventure. This past spring, on the other side of the world, third-year CEB graduate student Shane DuBay faced a problem: There is no Home Depot in Chengdu, China. And to do what he had traveled thousands of miles to do, he needed large-diameter PVC pipe. A large construction market on the outskirts of the city, where PVC could be special ordered and cut, turned out to be the solution. With the right materials in hand, DuBay set about his ambitious project — constructing hypobaric chambers to house mountain birds. Migration is typically thought of as a long distance phenomenon, but many bird species native to mountain ranges undergo altitudinal migration, breeding at upper elevations in the summer and wintering downslope. As such, individual birds must adapt to

dramatic changes in temperature and atmospheric pressure every year. However, adaptations to high elevations, such as hemoglobin that binds tightly to oxygen, can be detrimental traits at low elevations. “How species mitigate the stress of this switch and whether there is a cost to being physiologically flexible are not well understood,” DuBay said. “These are important evolutionary questions, and birds that inhabit the eastern Himalayas are an exceptional model to explore them.” With the help of his advisors Trevor Price, PhD, professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution, who has spent his career studying Himalayan birds, and John Bates, PhD, associate curator at the Field Museum, DuBay connected with collaborators at Sichuan University in southwestern China. There, in 24



Pipe scheme

a small room in the Natural History Museum, they constructed a bespoke laboratory. Newly acquired PVC sections served as the frame for chambers that mimicked the pressure and temperature at altitude or at sea level. DuBay drilled holes into the sections, attached pressure relief valves and hooked them up to medical-grade vacuum pumps purchased from another Chinese market. Suction kept plexiglass sheets firmly attached to the top and bottom of the pipe sections, and voilà — hypobaric chambers with flowing fresh air that simulated the low air pressure at 13,000 feet. For temperature control, DuBay and his collaborators purchased a drink refrigerator, the kind found at convenience stores, large enough to hold nine chambers. The rest of the chambers sat on the floor, with a space heater nearby to keep them warm. Setup complete, the team spent the next month and a half at a meteorological station on the lower slopes of Mt. Gongga, a 23,000-foot peak a few hours drive from Chengdu. While performing a variety of other experiments, they captured specimens of two closely related species of the Tarsiger bush robin — one that undergoes altitudinal migration, and one that does not. The birds were brought back to the makeshift lab and each housed for two weeks under one of four conditions (low or normal pressure paired with cold or warm temperature). DuBay then performed a suite of physiological measurements to characterize gene expression, blood chemistry, metabolic capacity and more. By controlling both temperature and pressure, and studying two closely related species with different migration patterns, he hopes to tease apart the relative and combined effects of the two conditions. “We think that these birds must have some ability to fine-tune their biochemistry and inner physiology in response to their local environment, and constructing these chambers was the best way to shed light on what those adaptations are, at least with the budget I had,” DuBay said. “I’m going back next spring to finish data collection. If had more money? I’d buy a climate-controlled room. That fridge is a huge pain to work with.”

PhD candidate Christopher Schell is now studying urban coyote populations in Denver and Los Angeles with the techniques and insights he developed in his graduate work. He successfully defended his dissertation and will receive his PhD at Autumn Convocation.

and then measuring hormone levels in both parents and their pups over time. To avoid additional stress caused by drawing blood, they used hair and fecal samples. Shaved hair was easy enough to track, but figuring out which animal left which fecal sample wasn’t quite as simple — they couldn’t be watched at all times, after all. The solution? Glitter. By spiking treats with common, non-toxic glitter, determining which animal deposited which sample could be achieved by just looking at the color of the sparkling flakes contained within. Detailed in his recently defended dissertation, Schell found that parental reproductive and stress hormones, particularly when they spike late in pregnancy, correlate with differences in traits such as personality and hormone levels among pups — correlations that endure as the pups become adults. With the support of a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellowship, he is now taking the techniques, insights and finely honed improvisational skills generated through his captive studies and applying them to study urban coyote populations in Denver and Los Angeles. “It’s amazing what you can learn with some dog toys and glitter,” Schell laughs. “And it’s really cost effective, too.” PHOTO COURTESY OF CHRISTOPHER SCHELL

It’s not always remote or exotic fieldwork that forces the exercise of creative resourcefulness. To Lincoln Park Zoo from Hyde Park is a 20-minute drive, or an hour or so via CTA. Recent CEB graduate Christopher Schell knows the trip well. Every year, millions visit the zoo to view sea lions and zebras and other exotic animals, but few are aware of its less prominent inhabitants, such as research-designated coyotes from the USDA (yes, that USDA). Coyotes are remarkable survivors. They inhabit almost the entirety of North and Central America, from Alaska to Panama — a range that covers many major cities, including Chicago. Recent efforts, such as that by the Urban Wildlife Institute at the Lincoln Park Zoo, are beginning to show that cities represent a unique ecological system, with barriers to survival that can drive the evolutionary divergence of species — including the coyote. “My main interest is in how urbanization influences behavioral, hormonal and even to a certain extent genetic patterns of urban versus rural populations of coyote,” Schell said. “But to build a base of knowledge and develop the necessary techniques to study these traits, I had to start with captive animals.” To accomplish this, he had to improvise. Under the guidance of advisors Jill Mateo, PhD, associate professor of comparative human development, and Rachel Santymire, PhD, director of the Davee Center for Epidemiology and Endocrinology at the Lincoln Park Zoo, Schell spent hundreds of hours observing coyote behaviors — particularly, the trait of boldness, which has been hypothesized to be important for success in urban environments. Among his experiments were novel object tests, which involved exposing the animals to completely new things. Colorful dog toys purchased from a local Petco turned out to be the perfect tool for this test. To develop an objective, repeatable paradigm to evaluate coyote behaviors, he created his own version of the Volhard Puppy Aptitude Test, a checklist of actions normally used to assess the suitability of dogs for service or police work. “I got very good at looking for things that normally go unnoticed: their gaze, their posture, their breathing, what they do with novel objects and more,” Schell said. “Our data are starting to show that instead of calling it boldness, we should probably be calling it tolerance or avoidance for novel objects.” Of particular interest to Schell and his advisors are stress hormones, which drive the “fight-or-flight” response in all animals. Parental stress has been shown to have lasting effects on offspring — a possible route that shapes differences between urban and rural animals. They tested this by exposing a breeding pair to a minor stressor (foreign scent lures) during pregnancy,


All that glitters


FALL 2015


‘ The intensity of rural medicine is amazing’ Mia Lozada, MD  ’08, bridges modern medicine, cultural tradition in her Indian Health Service practice PHOTO BY JENNIE WEI, MD, MPH

Mia Lozada, MD  ’08, at Horseshoe Bend near Page, Arizona. During her off-duty hours, the Indian Health Service physician enjoys hiking and camping.




or the Navajo, spiritual connections to nature, family and tradition converge with self-identity. Mia Lozada, MD  ’08, strikes a balance between Western medicine and ancient customs in her practice among the Navajo, one of the largest Native American populations in the United States. The Pritzker graduate doubles as a general internist and quality improvement director for internal medicine at the Gallup Indian Medical Center (GIMC) in Gallup, New Mexico. The hospital is located near the border of the Navajo reservation that stretches into Arizona and Utah.


Nearly 300,000 Navajos live — up to a third without running water or electricity —  on the vast reservation. The 99-bed hospital, the largest dedicated to the tribe, admits 5,800 patients and records 250,000 outpatient visits annually. The Indian Health Service (IHS) employs Lozada and her physiciancolleagues to provide free medical care. “It’s very exciting,” said Lozada, 34, who arrived at Gallup in 2012 after completing her residency at the University of California, San Francisco. “I’m knee-deep in it, living in the Navajo community and getting to know specific cultures and traditions.”

Her customary goodbye to patients is “You will be well,” a term that reflects the Navajo people’s positive, holistic attitude.

Her average week is an exercise in immersion. Lozada tends to six to nine patients, meets with 15 outpatients and attends thriceweekly rounds to improve care continuity and peer learning. She also spearheads the monthly Readmissions Reduction Task Force. If the schedule sounds manageable, consider that the patients range in age from 18 to the mid-90s, an interpreter may be required for communication and Lozada performs multiple procedures herself due to limited resources. GIMC internists are expected to be deft at skin biopsies and central line and arterial line placement, as well as lumbar puncture, paracentesis, thoracentesis and joint arthrocentesis. The incidence rates of alcoholism, cirrhosis, diabetes and hepatitis are disproportionately high even among 20- and 30-something Navajos. Yet the GIMC lacks specialists in nephrology, pulmonary, endocrinology and more. The IHS yearly expenditure per Native American is $3,099; the U.S. health care expenditure per capita is $8,097. Necessity “pushes me to learn as much as possible,” Lozada said. “The intensity of rural medicine is amazing. The nearest hospital to us is two hours away.” The daughter of a Peruvian surgeon and an American occupational therapist, Lozada has long gravitated to underserved communities, social justice and spearheading innovations in the quality of care. At Pritzker, which she credits for inspiring her to pursue internal medicine, she cofounded the Pritzker Community Service Fellowship (PCSF) to foster a community of students and faculty dedicated to lifelong patient advocacy. Her work with the PCSF and at the Maria Shelter led to her induction into the Gold Humanism Honor Society.

Pritzker faculty emphasize cultural sensitivity and communication in forging doctor-patient bonds. Lozada finds these ideals essential in her practice. Her prescriptions range from antibiotics to consultations with the IHS-approved Hataali (traditional medicine men) in the Office of Native Medicine. The GIMC has two medicine men on staff to perform sacred healing ceremonies in a traditional hogan. Lozada also speaks enough Navajo to set patients at ease. Most tribe members know English, yet the physician took classes to master basic expressions like Yá’át’ééh (Hello). Her customary goodbye is Yá’át’ééh Nii’de’glil (“You will be well”), a term that reflects the Navajo people’s positive, holistic attitude toward life. The language is complicated — recall the Navajo code talkers, who baffled the Japanese in World War II — “but beautiful,” Lozada said. “I know how to introduce myself and say, ‘Can you take a deep breath?’ We are lucky to have numerous staff members who speak fluent Navajo.” The Navajo affection for one’s extended clan comes naturally to her. The Harvardeducated Lozada grew up in Honolulu, where the concept of ohana (family) extends beyond blood relatives to emphasize community and cooperation. Like Hawaiians, the Navajo bestow familial titles to show respect. Lozada accordingly addresses a female patient, depending on her age, as “sister,” “aunt” or “grandmother.” Likewise, men are “brother,” “uncle” or “grandfather.” In turn, the older nurses call her “daughter.” “A nurse on the floor will say, ‘I have a question about Grandma in Bed 24’ in a warm and caring way. It feels like we’re a giant family and you’re taking care of your own,” Lozada said.

“ I’ve visited a few patients (on house calls), which has been eye-opening. A third of the patients on the reservation don’t have running water or electricity. Yet when they arrive in clinic, they are so well-groomed and on time. When you realize the numerous challenges they faced just to get there — dirt roads with horrible mud, no at-home baths or showers — it’s a great reminder that just arriving at the clinic is a formidable challenge.” Mia Lozada, MD  ’08


FALL 2015


BSD News


BSD summer programs offer worlds of opportunity BY ANNE STEIN

L “Not only have I learned a lot about experimental skills, but I also learned how to think like a researcher, how to present my

ast summer, the Biological Sciences Division welcomed a small, select group of China’s top life sciences undergraduates to campus to engage in a rigorous nine-week research program. Now in its second year, the International Summer Research program for undergraduates is solidifying academic and research partnerships with China. “It helps prepare the students for graduate school, and gives us an opportunity to showcase our graduate programs, as well as our wonderful campus and city, to the participants,” said Victoria Prince, PhD, dean for graduate education and professor of organismal

thoughts logically and scientifically and how to effectively communicate with other researchers.” Harry Feng Peking University student

Harry Feng, left, and Xintong He outside the Gordon Center for Integrative Science. The two students are among a select group of Chinese undergraduates who spent last summer doing research in BSD laboratories. PHOTO BY NANCY WONG

biology and anatomy. Two students who participated in 2014 are returning to the BSD this fall as graduate students. “The program is a great stepping stone for a research career, which is what most of them will pursue,” said program co-director Ilaria Rebay, PhD, professor in the Ben May Department for Cancer Research and Department of Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology. 28


The 2015 cohort included seven rising seniors from Tsinghua and Peking universities, elite institutions in China’s C9 League, similar to the U.S.’s Ivy League. The students work in labs with faculty members, gather twice weekly for faculty talks and present their research at the end of the program. “We also provide guidance to graduate student programs for them, and we train and expose them to the American way of scientific thinking and training,” said codirector Wei-Jen Tang, PhD, professor in the Ben May Department for Cancer Research. Tsinghua University student Xintong He worked on understanding how cells negotiate the transition from stem cell-like progenitor state to a more specified differentiated state, in context of multicellular, developing tissue. Rebay was her mentor. Weidong (Harry) Feng, a biology major at Peking University, spent the summer working in the lab of Richard Fehon, PhD, professor and chair of the Department of Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology. His research focused on the Hippo signaling pathway that is thought to control growth. “My data strongly suggests that a known protein complex called Chromatin Assembly Factor 1 complex could also regulate the Hippo signaling pathway besides its already known functions,” Feng said. But the Chinese students’ summer wasn’t spent entirely inside labs and classrooms. “I really enjoyed the mild weather in Chicago and the excellent location of UChicago,” said Feng. “The buildings, parks and museums downtown are brilliant, the gym and sports field on campus are great, and I’ve enjoyed jogging to Lake Michigan.” Research experience for undergraduates Students from institutions across the U.S. spent last summer on the University of Chicago campus through Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) programs in the BSD: the Conte Center for Computational Neuropsychiatric Genomics REU, the National Institute on Drug Abuse Genes and Addiction REU and the REU in Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology. These 10-week programs are funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. Daniela DeCristo, a senior and biology major at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, investigated associations of specific genetic polymorphisms that may be related to conduct disorder. Guiding her research was Benjamin Lahey, PhD, the Irving B. Harris Professor in the Departments of Public Health Sciences (Epidemiology) and Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience. “I had a lot of freedom to design and implement different methods for my research, and creatively

work to solve a complex problem,” said DeCristo, who is applying to medical school. “My mentor placed a lot of trust in me, allowing me to explore any possibility that I was interested in exploring.” PHOTO COURTESY OF DANIELA DECRISTO

Daniela DeCristo, a senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was one of 10 students in the Conte Center for Computational Neuropsychiatric Genomics REU.

Like the International Summer Research program, the REUs offer students the chance to work in a leading-edge research lab for a summer and to build strong connections for the future. “Many of the participants ultimately attend graduate school, with several alumni of the program currently enrolled in our graduate programs,” Prince said. Graduate summer research Christina Roman got a head start on her research during the graduate summer research program for incoming BSD students. She spent the summer studying the structure and function of two proteins believed to play an important role in neuronal localization and axon guidance, working with faculty mentor Engin Özkan, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. “I’m solving their structures with crystallography and using biophysical techniques to measure their homodimerization affinity,” said Roman, who has a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from Stony Brook University. “With any luck, my project would give us new insights into how this class of proteins works to direct axon growth and snaps formation.” The program, co-directed by Victoria Prince, PhD, dean for graduate education and professor of organismal biology and anatomy, and Phoebe Rice, PhD, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, included a weekly class on the nuts and bolts of science and research, including how to write and apply for grants. “While prospective graduate students must demonstrate their academic abilities through a strong record of achievement in the classroom, this alone is not sufficient to indicate that they will be successful researchers,” Prince said. “Having demonstrable hands-on research experience is an absolute requirement for acceptance to our graduate programs or those of our peer institutions. Our various undergraduate summer programs provide a key piece of this preparation, while simultaneously helping to diversify our student body.”


Basic training in Woods Hole In early September, incoming BSD graduate students attended the first Quantitative Approaches boot camp at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass. The one-week course was designed to help the biological sciences students gain a working knowledge of statistical and computational approaches, as well as a familiarity with handling large datasets. The course was co-directed by BSD faculty Stephanie Palmer, PhD and Stefano Allesina, PhD who led a series of tutorials. Students also attended workshops led by Sarah Cobey, PhD, John Novembre, PhD, Leslie C. Osborne, PhD, and Donald

Vander Griend, PhD. Professional development sessions and imaging tutorials were led by Barry Aprison, PhD, Christine Labno, PhD, and Victoria Prince, PhD, dean for graduate education. The class also participated in evening seminars by MBL researchers and learned about MBL educational and research resources while at the Cape Cod facility. “This intensive retreat gave our students a jumpstart on the future of our field,” Prince said. “It also allowed them to get to know their classmates in a location that is unique in its ability to encapsulate the excitement of research.” Students attending the Quantitative Approaches boot camp at the Marine Biological Laboratory examine a horseshoe crab during an excursion aboard the Gemma, the MBL’s collecting boat.


Willard receives genetics education award Huntington F. Willard, PhD,

president and director of the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass. and professor of human genetics at the University of Chicago, is one of three recipients of the 2015 Award for Excellence in Human Genetics Education by the American Society of Human Genetics. The award recognizes contributions of exceptional quality and importance to human genetics education internationally. Willard has developed and directed educational programs at

the medical, graduate and undergraduate levels in human genetics, genomics and computational biology at universities in the United States and Canada. As a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor, he also developed educational programs and a four-year undergraduate curriculum in order to engage students in research and increase the numbers of students entering graduate programs. Willard’s research focuses on the structure and function of chromosomes and genomes. MEDICINE ON THE MIDWAY

FALL 2015


Pritzker News

A space for spirituality Getting medical students talking about the role of religion and spirituality in health care BY ANNE STEIN

Aamir Hussain, MS2, outside of Rockefeller Memorial Chapel. Hussain founded the Spirituality and Medicine Interest Group at Pritzker.


n a profession that deals regularly with joy and suffering, life and death, it seems natural that spirituality and religion might have an important place at the table. But some physicians find these difficult subjects to discuss, among themselves and with patients. Aamir Hussain, MS2, wants to get the conversation started in medical school. An interfaith activist, devout Muslim and Jesuit university graduate, Hussain is the founder of the year-old Spirituality and Medicine Interest Group (SAM) at the Pritzker School of Medicine. Launched




with a $5,000 grant from the Interfaith Youth Core and sponsored by the medical school Dean’s Council, the student organization meets monthly for lectures and discussions. “SAM is a group that aims to create a safe space to discuss how spirituality affects health care,” said Hussain, who has a degree in government with a minor in theology from Georgetown University. The group is open to students of all faith backgrounds or no faith background. While nearly nine out of 10 Americans say they believe in a divine or spiritual power, according to a Pew Research Center poll, the number of those who say they have no religious affiliation is increasing, especially among Millennials. “When Aamir came to me and said he wanted to do this, I endorsed it 100 percent,” said SAM faculty mentor Daniel P. Sulmasy, MD, PhD, the KilbrideClinton Professor in the Department of Medicine and Divinity School, director of the Program on Medicine and Religion, and associate director of the MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics. “Religion is critical to the self-identity of many patients, and even those who aren’t religious may have deep spiritual concerns connected to their response to illness and how they make medical decisions,” said Sulmasy, a former Franciscan friar. “To ignore these faith-based concerns is to ignore something of deep importance to patients and to fail to treat them as whole persons.” With his own patients, Sulmasy starts the conversation by asking what role religion or spirituality plays in their lives. “It’s a simple, non-threatening and open-ended question to which patients can answer ‘none,’ ‘it’s the most important thing in my life,’ or anything in between,” he said. Faith-based communities also can have a powerful impact on the larger community and serve as a source of support when dealing with health issues, Hussain said. “When faith communities are actively involved in health, you can reach a segment of the population you couldn’t reach otherwise,” he said. That’s borne out by Pritzker faculty research on health disparities related to religious affiliation.



Aasim Padela, MD, director of the Initiative on Islam and Medicine, has published extensively on American Muslim health disparities. He is a University of Chicago Medicine emergency department physician and a faculty member at the MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics.

Aasim Padela, MD, assistant professor of medicine and director of the Initiative on Islam and Medicine, found that poor screening rates for breast and cervical cancer among Muslim women is, in part, due to factors such as faith-based ways of coping with health and illness as well as discrimination in health care due to religion. He is working to achieve higher screening rates by developing religious messages about caring for one’s health and deploying these messages in educational classes in mosques. In another study, University of Chicago Medicine researchers worked with Catholic churches in Chicago’s Mexican community to identify patients with diabetes “Religion is critical and offer health promotion and prevention classes. to the self-identity “People were very pleased that the program was at of many patients, the church, the class leader was someone from the community and that it was held in a comfortable, and even those who familiar place,” said Arshiya Baig, MD, MPH, assistant aren’t religious may professor of medicine and lead author of the study. have deep spiritual One of SAM’s goals is to help future physicians feel concerns connected comfortable discussing religion and faith with patients. “Especially when suffering, patients may bring up the to their response language of religion, and if the doctor is comfortable, to illness and how it makes the patient more comfortable,” Hussain said. they make medical Natalie Feldman, MS2, said one of the group’s most decisions.” interesting discussions centered on when a patient’s religious views conflict with what is best medically. Daniel P. Sulmasy, MD, PhD “How do you communicate your priorities and also Director, Program on Medicine and Religion understand your patients?” she asked. The University’s nationally recognized Program on Medicine and Religion is one of the reasons Hussain chose Pritzker for his medical education. “Medicine’s interest in the connection between spirituality and health is growing,” said Hussain, who blogs on interfaith issues, religion and medicine for The Huffington Post. “And I hope to continue to be a part of that.”

Pritzker students awarded fellowships to help improve health in vulnerable communities


hree second-year Pritzker students —  Phillip Hsu, Amol Naik and Katherine Palmer — were recently selected as Schweitzer Fellows for 2015-16. Named after humanitarian Albert Schweitzer, MD, the fellowship program aims to empower young health care professionals to address health disparities and improve health outcomes in vulnerable populations. Through mentored community work and research, the Chicago area fellows program is “dedicated to developing a pipeline of emerging professionals who enter the workforce with the skills and commitment necessary to address unmet health needs.” Hsu is continuing to develop services at a new free health clinic in the Bridgeport neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side, home to a rapidly growing population of underserved Asians and Asian Americans. Naik will lead a health discussion group for residents of a facility on the West Side of Chicago that provides safe housing and social services to formerly homeless individuals living with chronic illness. Palmer will lead a group of high school students at the University of Chicago Charter School Woodlawn Campus as they explore health care topics and share what they learn with their school and greater community, ultimately equipping them to become leaders in health care and in health disparities. PHOTO BY REBECCA SILVERMAN

Schweitzer Fellows Phillip Hsu, MS2, left, Katherine Palmer, MS2, and Amol Naik, MS2, are working with community organizations in underserved Chicago communities.


FALL 2015


Pritzker students promote reading readiness BY THEA GRENDAHL CHRISTOU


Pritzker News



ritzker School of Medicine students are partnering with the Friend Family Health Center (FFHC) to advance early reading and school readiness among patients and families who visit the South Side community clinic. The two groups jointly run a chapter of Reach Out and Read (ROR), a nationwide effort by doctors, nurses and early childhood educators to improve educational success by incorporating literacy education into pediatric primary care. Health care providers at the FFHC clinic follow the ROR model — promoting early literacy to parents and distributing new books to pediatric patients during regular check-ups. “When books are given to children at routine well care visits, it allows us to open a discussion on developmental skills and milestones,” said Lauren Conti, MD, associate medical director of pediatrics for the clinic and an ROR advisor. Pritzker students, trained to be certified ROR book distributors, read to children in a dedicated corner of the FFHC waiting room. The students also connect with local libraries to identify services for families; share a list of libraries within a 10-mile radius; and outline the process for getting a library card. Last spring, chapter members successfully piloted a new program, engaging first-year medical students to organize and tag books, read to patients and shadow pediatricians as they distribute books. Sarah Kennedy, MS2, one of five executive board members for the chapter, taught in an urban school before enrolling at Pritzker. “Reach Out and Read allows me to combine my passions for education and medicine,” she said. “It has given me the

Pritzker student Maggie Dennin, MS2, reads to 3-year-old Malia Willis at the Friend Family Health Center.

opportunity to apply my teaching skills to a clinical setting and understand the important role medical professionals play in promoting development of the whole child.” The University of Chicago’s Women’s Board recently awarded the chapter a generous grant, allowing them to purchase more than 3,000 new books, expand outreach activities and maintain the reading corner. To donate to the ROR Pritzker chapter or give new books for children or gently used books for the waiting room, contact Sharon Heichman, MS2 ( or the chapter’s advisors, Lauren Conti, MD (lconti@peds.bsd.uchicago. edu) and Nicola Orlov, MD, MPH (nmeyerorlov@peds.bsd.


And the Memmy goes to . . . “I Don’t Know,” a video parody created by the Pritzker School

of Medicine Class of 2016, placed first in the 2015 Medical School Emmys (Memmys). The students’ musical production topped Harvard, Duke and 24 other entries in the contest sponsored annually by the University of South Carolina School of Medicine. With more than 2 million hits, “I Don’t Know” — set to the song “Let it Go” from the Disney movie “Frozen” — is one of the most watched medical school parodies on YouTube. The video highlights medical students’ anxieties as they start their third year. Jacqueline “Beanie” Meadow, MS4, led the project and lent her impressive vocal talent to the production. Julie Mhlaba, MS4, choreographed the dance moves and Sammita Satyanarayan, MS4, did the filming.




Faculty, housestaff and students honored

Pipeline program attracts top students

rnest E. Mhoon, MD  ’73, professor of surgery, and Mindy Schwartz, MD, professor of medicine and associate program director, internal medicine, received the 2015 Faculty Physician Peer Role Model Award at the Pritzker School of Medicine’s annual Student Clinician Ceremony. The ceremony marks the second-year students’ transition from the preclinical to the clinical curriculum. Medical student Rachel Stones, MS3, received the PreClinical Student Peer Role Model Award. The University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine’s Professionalism Steering Committee created the Peer Role Model Awards in 2009 to honor faculty physician and rising third-year students recognized by their peers as best

exemplifying the standards of professional competence and integrity. This year, more than 180 clinical faculty members from 12 departments were nominated for the Faculty Physician Peer Role Model Award, and 65 members of the Class of 2017 were nominated for the Pre-Clinical Student Peer Role Model Award. Other awards include: LDH Wood Pre-Clinical Teaching Awards: James O’Reilly, PhD, senior

lecturer in the Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy, and Jeanne Farnan, MD  ’02, MHPE, associate professor of medicine, director of clinical skills education, director of curricular evaluation and medical director of the Clinical Performance Center at Pritzker.


Humanism and Excellence in Teaching Awards: Residents Gray

Akoegbe, MD; John Byrne, MD; Naoum Issa, MD; Moses Kim, MD; Brett Palama, MD; Carolyn Shima, MD; and Christian Yeasted, MD.

Wesleyan University student Akila Raoul

participated in the 2015 Summer Research Symposium and Poster Session for the Pritzker School of Medicine Experience in Research program. Students in the 8-week summer program live on campus and work on basic science or clinical research projects with faculty mentors. The program seeks students from disadvantaged backgrounds and groups that are underrepresented in health sciences and medicine.

Creating tomorrow’s cancer researchers PHOTO BY DAVID CHRISTOPHER




Students Teaching Students Award:

Shilpa Vasishta, MS3, and Katlynn Adkins, MD  ’15. Pritzker School of Medicine students recognized Rachel Stones, MS3, right, with the 2015 PreClinical Student Peer Role Model Award. Caitlin Chicoine, MS4, was last year’s recipient.

Pritzker School of Medicine Student-Run Free Clinic Faculty Volunteer Award: Marc Robinson,

MD, chief resident in the Department of Medicine.


Fourth years recognized at research showcase


embers of the Pritzker School of Medicine Class of 2015 presented their research at the 69th annual Senior Scientific Session in May. Ten students gave oral presentations and 41 gave poster presentations. The 2015 session was chaired by Jessica Kandel, MD, the Mary Campau Ryerson Professor of Surgery and surgeon-in-chief at the University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children’s Hospital. Prizes for excellence in science and presentation were awarded to Claire Naus, MD  ’15; Vaibhav Upadhyay, PhD  ’13, MD  ’15; Patricia Osmolak, MD  ’15; Camil Correia, MD  ’15; David Binder, PhD  ’13, MD  ’15; John Lim, MD  ’15; Cassandra Fritz, MD  ’15; and Kevin Stephens, Jr., MD  ’15, MBA  ’15.

Janishia Calhoun, a student from North Lawndale College Preparatory High School, participated in the Continuing

Umbrella of Research Experience (CURE) Program for underrepresented high school and college students. Calhoun worked in the laboratory of faculty mentor M. Eileen Dolan, PhD, professor of medicine and associate director for education for the University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center, and presented her work at the 2015 Summer Cancer Research Programs Symposium. Dolan led a team that expanded the CURE Program this year and started a new multi-institutional high school summer cancer research program called researcHStart. MEDICINE ON THE MIDWAY

FALL 2015


Pritzker News


Pamela Vohra Khullar, MD  ’05, right, poses with her family in a giant photo “booth” at the reunion picnic.


Picture-perfect reunion A

lumni returned to campus in June to reconnect with classmates and catch up on what’s new at the University of Chicago Medicine and Biological Sciences. They learned what it’s like to be a medical student in 2015 and about new initiatives at the Pritzker School of Medicine. They mingled with students and housestaff at a family picnic in the

sun-drenched Wyler courtyard. And the weekend ended with a reception for Medical and Biological Sciences Alumni Association award recipients, followed by an evening of reminiscing at class dinners. It’s not too early to plan your return to campus. For information on next year’s Reunion, please turn to page 38.



A two-generation alumni family: Kim D. Given, left, Katherine Given Ligtenberg, AB  ’08, PhD  ’13, MS4, and Douglass B. Given, PhD  ’79, MD  ’80, enjoy the Alumni Awards reception together.


The way they were: Members of the Class of 1980 look back at their composite photo.



Alumni honored for leadership and service


he 2015 recipients of the Medical and Biological Sciences Alumni Association Distinguished Service Awards for their leadership and contributions to the biological sciences or medicine are: Charis Eng, AB  ’82, PhD  ’86, MD  ’88,


Michael Barricks, MD  ’65, right, greets fellow alumni at the Dean’s luncheon.

Pritzker School of Medicine students Russell Becker, PhD  ’14, MS4, left, and Sean Gaffney, MS3, talk about what it’s like to be a medical student today.


See more reunion photos and class pictures on our Flickr page:

founding chair of the Genomic Medicine Institute and founding director of the institute’s clinical component, the Center for Personalized Genetic Healthcare, at the Cleveland Clinic. She is a professor and vice chairman of the Department of Genetics and Genome Sciences at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. Jennifer Leaning, MD  ’75, director of the François-Xavier Bagnoud (FXB) Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University and the FXB Professor of the Practice of Health and Human Rights at Harvard School of Public Health. Prior to her current appointment, she served for five years as co-director of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative.

Wai-Kwan Alfred Yung, MD  ’75,

professor and chair of neuro-oncology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, where he is co-director of the Brain Tumor Center. His basic, clinical and translational research focuses on developing new therapeutic approaches to block the regulatory mechanisms of brain cancer cells. The Distinguished Service Award for Early Achievement was presented to Amy Derick, MD  ’02, founder and medical director of Derick Dermatology and clinical instructor of dermatology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. She serves as president of the Illinois Dermatological Society. Ernest Mhoon, MD  ’73, received the Gold Key Award for outstanding and loyal service to the Biological Sciences Division and the University of Chicago. Mhoon was a professor in the Department of Surgery until his retirement on July 1. He had been a faculty member since 1977.

Award winners, deans and alumni leaders at the Alumni Awards reception: Front row, from left, Paul Rockey, MD  ’70, MPH, 2014-15 reunion chair; Holly J. Humphrey, MD  ’83, the Ralph W. Gerald Professor in Medicine and dean for medical education; and Rene Mora, PhD  ’88, MD  ’89, 2014-15 president of the Medical and Biological Sciences Alumni Association. Back row, from left, award winners Ernest Mhoon, MD  ’73; Wai-Kwan Alfred Yung, MD  ’75; Charis Eng, AB  ’82, PhD  ’86, MD  ’88; Amy Derick, MD  ’02; and Jennifer Leaning, MD  ’75 (Distinguished Service Award); and Kenneth S. Polonsky, MD, the Richard T. Crane Distinguished Service Professor and Dean of the Biological Sciences Division and the Pritzker School of Medicine.


FALL 2015


A white coat and the Physician’s Oath O

n a sunny day in early August, the Pritzker School of Medicine Class of 2019 gathered with family and friends for the annual White Coat Ceremony. Keynote speaker Ross Milner, MD, professor of surgery, Bucksbaum Institute Master Clinician and a career advisor for the Huggins Society, welcomed the students to the Pritzker family. Milner used a

variety of metaphors throughout his talk to illustrate three principles to remember in medical school: let your emotions make you a better doctor; cultivate things that keep you grounded; and always stay directed toward patient care and act as an advocate for your patients. “Ask yourself, ‘Am I better today than I was yesterday?’” he said. Holly J. Humphrey, MD  ’83, dean


Pritzker News


Vascular surgeon Ross Milner, MD, gives advice to the new medical students.

After receiving their white coats, the Class of 2019 takes the Physician’s Oath. On behalf of the Bucksbaum Institute for Clinical Excellence, Matthew Sorrentino, MD  ’84, gave each student a stethoscope, representing the doctor-patient relationship.

for medical education, introduced the Pritzker Advising Societies. Recently, Pritzker students proposed renaming one of the societies for Janet Rowley, LAB  ’42, PhB  ’44, SB  ’46, MD  ’48, in honor of Rowley’s unparalleled contributions, not only to the University of Chicago but to the field of cancer research. The name change was formalized at the ceremony, and new students were welcomed into the Rowley Society (formerly the Phemister Society), along with their classmates in the Coggeshall, DeLee and Huggins Societies.


Congratulations to the Class of 2015 Members of the Pritzker School of Medicine Class of 2015 filed into Rockefeller Memorial Chapel for the Divisional Academic Ceremony. The keynote speaker was Jeffrey I. Gordon, MD  ’73, the Dr. Robert J. Glaser Distinguished University Professor and Director of the Center for Genome Sciences and Systems Biology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Gordon deftly wove his experiences working on the human microbiome with larger ideas about self-actualization and self-knowledge, while incorporating ideas from journalist David Brooks, AB  ’83, another prominent University of Chicago graduate. PHOTO BY GRADIMAGES



Class Notes 1960s

1970s Mark D. Batshaw, MD  ’71, physician-inchief at Children’s National Health System in Washington, D.C., assumed the role of vice president and president-elect of the American Pediatric Society in May 2015. Batshaw is an internationally renowned researcher in the area of inborn errors of metabolism, and formerly served as the principal investigator of a National Institutes of Health-funded Rare Diseases Clinical Research Center on Urea Cycle Disorders and a project grant on testing an innovative therapy in a model of ornithine transcarbamylase deficiency. In addition, he is the chief academic officer and director of the Children’s Research Institute, the Fight for Children Professor of Academic Medicine at Children’s National, and the associate dean for academic affairs at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. Nathan M. Szajnberg, AB  ’74, MD  ’74, published a book, Sheba and Solomon’s Return: Ethiopian Children in Israel, based on his three years of work with a community near the Gaza border (including during the Gaza War). Szajnberg served as the Freud Professor of Psychoanalysis at Hebrew University during this time. He continues to serve as the Wallerstein Research Fellow in Psychoanalysis of the San Francisco Center for Psychoanalysis. More of his works are available on his website at He lives in Palo Alto with his wife, Yikun, their 2-year-old son, Natti, and a newborn, Yadid.

Walter Koroshetz, MD  ’79, was selected as the director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), effective June 2015. Koroshetz had served as acting director of the NINDS since October 2014. Prior to that appointment, he was vice chair of the neurology service and director of stroke and neurointensive care services at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School, and led neurology resident training at MGH. Koroshetz was instrumental in the creation of the StrokeNet, a national clinical trial network for research in stroke treatment, prevention and recovery.

1990s Keith William Roach, MD  ’90, combines an academic career at Weill Cornell Medical College with creation of consumer tools to improve health both electronically and through traditional media. Roach is one of the creators of the RealAge Test, a unique and patented webbased interactive tool that empowers people to learn which lifestyle choices, medical issues, and genetic characteristics are making them healthy and unhealthy, and offers recommendations about how to improve health and life expectancy. He also acts as chief medical officer for Enforcer eCoaching, a company dedicated to giving individuals specific daily coaching on improving diet, exercise, weight loss, and quitting

smoking. Roach is author of “To Your Good Health,” a medical advice column syndicated in more than 150 newspapers. He continues to see patients and teach medical students and housestaff at Weill Cornell. Susan C. Alberts, PhD  ’92, SM  ’92, is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Alberts has been a faculty member in the Department of Biology at Duke University since 1998. She also serves as associate director of Science at NESCent and co-directs the Amboseli Baboon Research Project with Jeanne Altmann of Princeton University, Elizabeth Archie of University of Notre Dame and Jenny Tung of Duke University. Hossein Jadvar, MD  ’93, was elected 2015-16 president of the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging, the premier international society in nuclear medicine, with more than 18,000 members worldwide. Jadvar is past president of the American College of Nuclear Medicine and a recipient of the Academy of Radiology Research Distinguished Investigator Award. He is a tenured associate professor in radiology at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine in Los Angeles. Following medical school, he went on to receive his master of public health degree from Harvard University and executive master of business administration degree from the University of Southern California. Jadvar lives with his wife, Mojgan, and two daughters, Donya and Delara, in Pasadena, California. James E. Bradner, MD  ’99, has been appointed president of the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research (NIBR) and a member of the executive committee of Novartis, effective March 1, 2016. Bradner will be based at NIBR’s global headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School in the Department of Medical Oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Bradner has co-authored more than 130 scientific publications and 30 U.S. patent applications.


Alumni, get the latest news and stay connected with your classmates through the Medical and Biological Sciences Alumni Association (MBSAA) website at

2000s Andrew Hack, AB  ’95, PhD  ’00, MD  ’02, was recently appointed chief financial officer of Editas Medicine, a biopharmaceutical company focused on translating the promise of genome editing into transformational genomic medicines. Prior to his appointment, Hack most recently served as a portfolio manager at Millennium Management, where he ran a healthcare fund focused on biotechnology, pharmaceutical and medical device companies.

Class Notes

Saul Wasserman, MD  ’67, is now the psychiatric consultant for the Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County Refugee Foster Child Program. The consultation role is a good fit, since Wasserman has extensive experience in foster care and the treatment of serious child trauma.

James Magner, MD  ’77, is working as a vice president at Genzyme, a Sanofi company. This year he published a book, Free To Decide, which contains humorous anecdotes about going to medical school and training, as well as subsequent events in academics and industry. You can also follow his poker career by searching “James Magner poker,” tuning in to the Main Event of the World Series of Poker, or watching episodes on YouTube.

Karen E. Sears, PhD  ’03, joined the faculty at the University of Illinois at UrbanaChampaign in 2007. Sears is presidentelect of the new Pan American Society for Evolutionary Developmental Biology, adjunct curator of paleontology for the University of Colorado Museum, and associate editor for Evolution. She actively engages in community outreach through the Orpheum Children’s Science Museum in Champaign and was a featured scientist in the PBS documentary “Your Inner Fish.” Eric Vallender, PhD  ’06, is an associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi, and core scientist at the Tulane National Primate Research Center. Vallender’s main research interests have focused on comparative evolutionary genetics, with a primary focus on non-human primate neurogenetics. Erica Aronson, LAB  ’98, MD  ’09, joined Solano Dermatology Associates in St. Helena, California. Aronson is practicing dermatology full time. Anuradha Phadke, MD  ’11, and her husband Stuart are located in the Bay Area following her time at Pritzker. She finished her internal residency in 2014 and completed a one-year quality improvement fellowship before joining the internal medicine faculty at Stanford University in summer 2015.


FALL 2015


Class Notes

Reunion is coming up June 2-4, 2016

In June 2016, the MBSAA will welcome alumni emeriti and those from the Classes of 1966, 1971, 1976, 1981, 1986, 1991, 1996, 2001, 2006, and 2011 back to campus for Reunion. So that you receive registration materials and information about the weekend, be sure to submit your current contact information at

‘ The trip has been a joy’ I just came back from the 50-year reunion of graduation from medical school. It was an extremely touching moment in my life and I had a great time seeing my classmates. We reconnected so quickly that I felt I had seen them the day before and not 50 years ago. I realize how important my training was at the University of Chicago and how it shaped my entire life and also my professional life. I wanted to express my deep gratitude to the school and let you know that my life in medicine might be coming to an end, but the trip has been a joy. Fernando Ugarte, MD  ’65




Executive Committee Michael H. Silverman, MD    ’73 President Rene Mora, PhD   ’88, MD   ’89 Immediate Past President Paul R. Rockey, MD   ’70 Vice President Douglass B. Given, PhD   ’79, MD   ’80 Chicago Partners Chair Dean Rider, MD   ’78 Regional Programs Chair Chris Albanis, AB   ’96, MD   ’00 Editorial Committee Chair



on the

FALL 20 14

Biological Sciences


Continuous Inno vation

How the Pritzke r School of Medicin is helping redefin e e medical educat UNI VER SITY OF ion CHI CAG



20 1 5




on the
























Neuro scienc e at

a turnin g poin t

Neuros cientist s at the Chicag Univers o are using ity of tools to powerf study ul new virtuall of the y every brain and aspect human behavi or

Join us Are you interested in guiding the editorial content of your alumni

publication? The Medicine on the Midway Editorial Committee is seeking new members. Please contact

Get the app The free Medicine on the Midway mobile app keeps

you connected with links to web pages and social media, embedded videos and instant access to current and back issues. Find it in the App and GooglePlay stores.


In Memoriam 1930s Selmer M. Loken, MD  ’38, of Shoreview, Minnesota, died May 8 at age 102. Loken was on staff at Bethesda Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota, from 1938 to 1978, serving as chief of medicine from 1955 to 1966. In 1978, the hospital recognized his service by inaugurating the S. M. Loken Humanitarian Medicine Award, and in retirement he continued to provide care to medically underserved populations at local clinics. He is survived by five daughters, eight grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. Frances Oldham Kelsey, PhD  ’38, MD  ’50, whose refusal to approve the drug thalidomide without extensive safety testing spurred landmark reforms in the way the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) evaluates drug safety and efficacy, died August 7 at age 101. Frances Oldham was born on Vancouver Island in British Columbia and earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at McGill University in Montreal. In 1936, she enrolled at the University of Chicago, where she earned a doctorate in pharmacology in 1938 and joined the faculty as an assistant professor of pharmacology. She received her medical degree from the University in 1950. In 1960, Kelsey had accepted a position at the FDA evaluating

applications for licenses to market new drugs when the application for thalidomide crossed her desk. Now known as a drug that caused severe birth deformities when taken during pregnancy, thalidomide was commonly prescribed in Europe in the late 1950s as a miracle cure for morning sickness. The William S. Merrell Company of Cincinnati had just licensed and begun to distribute thalidomide in the U.S. At the time, a drug could go on the market for 60 days while the FDA application was reviewed. The requirements for safety testing often relied on anecdotal evidence from doctors prescribing it to their patients, not the strict safety trials required by today’s standards. When Kelsey rejected the drug’s application, asking for more data such as basic safety assessments of the drug’s effect in pregnant animals, the drug company put pressure on the agency to push approval through. Her persistence kept the exposure of thalidomide to mothers and children in the U.S. to a minimum, but her influence lies beyond just one dangerous drug. Her story sparked a huge push to reform the drug approval system and to create the modern clinical trial system — particularly, the passing of the 1962 Kefauver Harris Amendment that required drug companies to provide definitive proof that the drug

Diane Altkorn, MD   ’82 Andrew Aronson, MD   ’69 Oliver G. Cameron, PhD   ’72, MD   ’74 Amy Derick, MD   ’02 Robert Doroghazi, MD   ’77 Stanley E. Friedell, MD   ’85 Sanford A. Garfield, PhD   ’74 Susan Glick, MD   ’90 Melina Hale, PhD   ’98 Joel E. Kleinman, SB   ’66, MD   ’73, PhD   ’74 Karyl Kopaskie, AB   ’07, PhD   ’14 Charles Kulwin, MD   ’10 Dennis Lee, MD   ’91 Howard Liang, PhD   ’92, MBA   ’01 Ernest Mhoon, MD   ’73 Doriane C. Miller, MD   ’83 Daniel Rosenblum, SB   ’62, MD   ’66 Christian W. Sikorski, AB   ’94, MD   ’00 Jack Stockert, AB   ’05, MBA   ’10, MD   ’10 Baruch Solomon Ticho, PhD   ’87, MD   ’88 William Weese, MD   ’69 David Whitney, MBA   ’78, MD   ’80 Lifetime Members L.D. Anagnostopoulos, SB   ’57, MD   ’61 Arnold B. Calica, SM   ’61, MD   ’75 Coleman Seskind, AB   ’55, MD   ’59, SM   ’59 Russ Zajtchuk, SB   ’60, MD   ’63


Frances Oldham Kelsey, PhD ’38, MD ’50, receives the President’s Award for Distinguished Federal Civilian Service from President John F. Kennedy. Kelsey’s refusal to approve the drug thalidomide without extensive safety testing not only prevented tragedy but also revolutionized the U.S. drug approval system.


1940s H. Cary Coppock, SB  ’38, MD  ’41, of Lake Oswego, Oregon, died January 27 at age 98. A World War II veteran of the Army Air Forces Medical Corps, he practiced family medicine in Tacoma, Washington, until his retirement in 1982. He is survived by his wife, Lillian; two daughters; two sons; nine grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren.

Alexander Hilkevitch, MD  ’41, died January 1 in Wilmette, Illinois. He was 97. Hilkevitch had a five-decade career as a psychiatrist, working mainly with patients who required extensive therapeutic or medical intervention. He continued to be active after retiring in the late 1990s; just a month before he died, he taught a course on brain functions at National Louis University’s Lifelong Learning Institute. He is survived by his partner, Marilyn Richman; a daughter; a son; and four grandchildren. George C. Beattie, MD  ’43, of San Mateo, California, died May 16. He was 95. Beattie served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and the Korean War, earning a Bronze Star, and continued his service at two U.S. naval hospitals. In 1956, he joined a private orthopaedic surgery practice in Burlingame, California, retiring in 2000. He was the president of the Western Orthopaedic Association and of the Northern California Easter Seals Society. He is survived by his wife, Nancy; a daughter; two sons; five granddaughters; one grandson; and two great-grandchildren.

Victor Fink, MD  ’44, passed peacefully away at age 93 on January 3 due to head injury complications from a fall. Immediately after medical school graduation, he was inducted into the U.S. Army Medical Corps and served in the Far East. Upon returning to civilian life, he opened a private internal medicine practice in Chicago and was on staff at Michael Reese and Weiss Memorial hospitals. Later, he sold his practice to the University of Chicago, where he became a member of the University of Chicago Physicians Group. He was esteemed by his colleagues and beloved by his patients. A lifelong student of medicine, he continued to attend cardiology and gastroenterology clinical conferences and grand rounds at the University until the end of his life. Recently he personally financed a lectureship at the University. His wife, Sheila, died in 2007 of metastatic carcinoid. He is survived by two children, Robert Fink, MD, and Nancy Levine, MD. Anthony Pizzo, SB  ’43, MD  ’45, of Bloomington, Indiana, died January 14. He was 93. Pizzo was a pathologist

and educator at Indiana University Health as well as a civic leader, serving as county coroner, city council member and state representative. His medical background inspired him to propose and help enact one of Indiana’s first smoke-free laws in Bloomington. He received the University of Chicago Alumni Association’s Public Service Award in 1983, and in 2005 he was inducted into the Monroe County Hall of Fame. He is survived by his wife, Patricia Pizzo, EX  ’48; three daughters, Sarah P. Press, AB  ’75, Julie Pier Pizzo, AB  ’77, and Fiora G. Pizzo, AB  ’88; four sons; a sister; 16 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

In Memoriam

is both safe and effective before FDA approval and general distribution. She also was crucial in establishing institutional review boards, which are now a cornerstone in ensuring ethical practices in medical testing. Kelsey was awarded the President’s Award for Distinguished Federal Civilian Service by President John F. Kennedy. In 2000, she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame, joining the ranks of Helen Keller, Eleanor Roosevelt, Margaret Mead and other luminaries. Most recently, she was honored in 2010 by the FDA as the first recipient of an annual award that continues to be given in her name. Kelsey is survived by her two daughters, a sister and two grandchildren.

1950s Franz J. Berlacher, SB  ’49, MD  ’51, died April 29 in Sylvania, Ohio, at age 86. Berlacher completed his residency in Detroit and was stationed briefly in Honolulu with the U.S. Army before becoming chief of cardiology at Mercy Hospital in Toledo, Ohio, a position he held for 30 years. He was an avid Notre Dame football fan and enjoyed traveling to California wine country. He is survived by his wife, Audrey; three daughters; four sons; 19 grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren.


Charles M. Rubin, MD


harles M. Rubin, MD, a highly respected specialist in the care of children with cancer and a role model for medical students, residents and even established physicians, died suddenly on Friday, July 17. He was 62. An authority on all aspects of pediatric cancers, Rubin had a particular interest in brain tumors and cancer occurring in children with genetic syndromes. He combined considerable experience in basic laboratory research on the genetics of cancer with broad clinical expertise and an inborn talent for informing, calming, comforting, motivating and inspiring patients and their families. Rubin earned his medical degree from Tufts University School of Medicine in 1979. He completed his pediatric residency at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in 1982, followed by a fellowship in pediatric hematology/oncology at the University of Minnesota. He came to the University of Chicago in 1985 as a cytogenetics and molecular biology fellow in the laboratory of Janet Rowley, LAB  ’42, PhB  ’44, SB  ’46, MD  ’48, an internationally recognized pioneer in understanding the genetics of cancer. Rubin joined the faculty in 1987 as an assistant professor of pediatrics and medicine and a member of the University’s Cancer Research Center. In 1991, he and adult oncologist

Olufunmilayo I. Olopade, MD, co-founded the University’s nationally recognized Cancer Risk Clinic. Although he continued to work closely with his basic science colleagues, contributing to more than 50 original reports in academic journals, his interests increasingly focused on patient care — at which he excelled. At the same time, Rubin took on several administrative roles. He served as course director for pediatric grand rounds and the medical center’s pediatric tumor board. He directed the pediatric hematology/oncology fellowship for seven years and the pediatric neuro-oncology program for 10 years. He also volunteered for medical staff positions in various summer camps for children with cancer. An associate professor of pediatrics, Rubin was a leader in the University of Chicago Medicine’s efforts to take a research-driven approach to pediatric cancer care into the community, serving as director of pediatric hematology/ oncology outreach since 2008. He is survived by his wife, Gretchen, a member of the University of Chicago Medicine marketing and communications department and assistant editor of Medicine on the Midway; their daughters, Elizabeth, Jane, Lucy and Claire; and brothers Michael, Peter and Richard. A memorial lecture and service are planned for late winter.

“Chuck Rubin was one of the finest individuals I have ever known. He was a consummate academician and physician who blended compassion and sensitivity with brilliant clinical acumen.” Michelle M. Le Beau, PhD The Arthur and Marian Edelstein Professor of Medicine Director, University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center


FALL 2015


In Memoriam

Irwin A. Rose, SB  ’48, PhD  ’52, died June 2 at age 88. Rose shared the 2004 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with two collaborators for their discovery of how cells break proteins down in a controlled process. The discovery of “ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation” advanced the understanding of such diseases as cancer, cystic fibrosis and Parkinson’s, and the groundbreaking research led to the development of new treatments. Rose received his doctorate in biochemistry from the University of Chicago, writing his dissertation on the biochemical synthesis of nucleic acids. After graduation, he spent most of his career at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia. He shared the Nobel Prize with collaborators Aaron Ciechanover and Avram Hershko of Technion (Israel Institute of Technology). Rose was a member of the National Academy of Sciences and professor emeritus of physiology and biophysics at the School of Medicine, University of California, Irvine. He is survived by his wife, Zelda; three sons; and five grandchildren. Alford Claudon Diller, MD  ’54, died November 7, 2014, in Sacramento, California. He was 89. A U.S. Navy veteran who served in World War II, Diller was a family practice physician

in Ohio and founded a computer data-processing company. He later became medical director for the Karuk tribe in California. He retired from clinical practice in 2005. He is survived by his wife, Phyllis; a daughter; four sons; two sisters; three brothers; 15 grandchildren; 11 greatgrandchildren; and a stepson.

1960s Kenneth Stephen Brown, LAB  ’45, AB  ’49, MD  ’60, died February 11 in California, Maryland. He was 85. Brown spent 30 years doing genetic research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), from which he retired as a captain in the U.S. Public Health Service. He also taught graduate courses at the NIH and at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. He is survived by his wife, Eva Rau Brown, SB  ’56; a daughter; a son; three granddaughters; and one grandson. Brian E. Henderson, MD  ’62, an internationally renowned expert in cancer epidemiology and former dean of the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles, died June 20 after a valiant fight with lung cancer. He was 77. Henderson, who joined the Keck School of Medicine of USC

as an associate professor of pathology in 1970, set up the Los Angeles Cancer Surveillance Program at USC, which remains an important resource for researchers throughout the country. He was a founding member of the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and its director from 1983 to 1994, as well as founding chair of the Keck School of Medicine’s Department of Preventive Medicine. He served as dean of the Keck School of Medicine of USC from 2004 to 2007 before returning to research. Henderson’s contributions were recognized with election into the Institute of Medicine, the American Association for Cancer Research-American Cancer Society Award for Research Excellence in Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention, and the USC Presidential Medallion, the university’s highest honor. He is survived by his wife, Judith; five children; and 11 grandchildren. Julian Katz, MD  ’62, of Gladwyne, Pennsylvania, died November 5, 2014. He was 77. A U.S. Navy veteran, Katz founded one of the largest private gastroenterology practices in Pennsylvania and performed influential early research on lactose intolerance. He was a clinical professor at the Medical College of Pennsylvania and at Drexel University, the editor of multiple medical textbooks and president of the Philadelphia County Medical Society and the Pennsylvania Society of Gastroenterology. He

is survived by his wife, Sheila; a daughter, Sara Ward, MD  ’94; a son, Jonathan Peter Katz, MD  ’93; and six grandchildren. Marshall Morgan, MD  ’68, died April 16 in Los Angeles. He was 73. Trained as a cardiologist, Morgan gravitated to the emerging specialty of emergency medicine and in 1974 was appointed assistant professor and acting co-director of the emergency medical center at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Later chief of UCLA’s emergency medicine division and chief of staff of the UCLA Medical Center, he was honored with UCLA’s most prestigious faculty award in 2007. He served as president of the Los Angeles County Medical Association in 2013-14. He is survived by his wife, Jean Marie; two daughters; three sons; 10 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

1980s David Elliot Eisenbud, SM  ’79, MD  ’81, died February 6 in Philadelphia. He was 60. Eisenbud was a vascular surgeon with a particular interest in wound care and healing. He wrote and lectured frequently on those topics and founded Advanced BioHealing, a company devoted to regenerative medicine. He was also a past president of the American Academy of Wound Management. He is survived by two sons, his mother, and a sister.


Charlene Sennett, MD


harlene Annette Sennett, MD, a highly respected clinical specialist in breast imaging, died on March 23 after suffering a stroke while awaiting a heart transplant. She was 62. Sennett was well known throughout the Chicago area as a thoughtful and talented clinician, dedicated educator and fierce advocate for her patients. She was a coauthor of multiple studies focused on the acquisition and computer-aided analysis of diagnostic images. She contributed to scientific presentations, invited lectures, publications and collaborative grant projects, all focused on breast cancer prevention, detection, diagnosis and therapy. She was a principal or co-investigator on many studies evaluating new breast cancer imaging techniques or efforts to combine multiple imaging and diagnostic technologies. From 2005 to 2013, Sennett helped train 18 clinical and research fellows, four of whom are now faculty members at the University of Chicago. Born September 25, 1952, in Crawfordsville, Indiana, Sennett earned her BS in nursing at DePauw University in


Greencastle, Indiana, followed by an MS in cardiopulmonary physiology from the University of Washington in Seattle in 1977. She practiced as a nurse for several years and continued to work as a nurse while attending medical school at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. After graduating in 1986 with “outstanding distinction,” she came to the University of Chicago as a resident and served as chief resident in 1989-90. Colleagues noted that her training and clinical work as a nurse prepared her well for a central role in patient care. Sennett spent 11 years as a staff radiologist with a private group at St. Francis Hospital in Blue Island, Illinois, before returning to the University of Chicago in 2002 as an assistant professor of radiology. She was promoted to associate professor in 2011 and served as interim section chief of breast imaging from 2011 through 2014. During that time, her team was designated a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence by the American College of Radiology. Sennett is survived by her husband, H. Rodney Holmes, PhD; their daughter, Robin Holmes, MD; and their son, Kyle.


“She was an exceptional doctor and person. She was wonderful with patients — kind, helpful, conscientious and sweet. But she also shared her extraordinary expertise on clinical breast imaging with the research team. When she spoke, we paid attention.” Greg Karczmar, PhD Professor of Radiology

Faculty Emeritus

John (Sean) Mullan, MD


ohn (Sean) Francis Mullan, MD, the John Harper Seeley Professor Emeritus in the Department of Surgery at the University of Chicago, died from lung cancer on June 4, surrounded by family members at his home in Hyde Park. He was 90. Mullan was a pioneer in 20th-century neurosurgery. In the 1960s, he developed minimally invasive methods to improve the treatment of cerebrovascular diseases, including novel ways to seal off arteriovenous malformations and aneurysms using electrical currents delivered through a needle or by packing the abnormality with tiny copper coils, blocking blood flow through the distorted vessel. His efforts “spawned a vast body of work that has culminated in the use of intravascular coagulative techniques for the management of vascular malformations throughout the world,” according to colleagues Barry G.W. Arnason, MD, and Bryce Weir, MD. In 1983, Mullan and Terry Lichtor, MD, PhD, published results from the first 50 cases of another new procedure in which they inserted a tiny expandable balloon to disrupt severe pain signals involving the trigeminal nerve. The balloon catheter — now known as the Mullan percutaneous trigeminal ganglion microcompression set — is still in use. Mullan also developed and popularized the trans-oral approach for surgical problems located near the base of the skull. He devised a minimally invasive system to retrieve blood clots as a treatment for stroke. And he performed important basic research on the consequences of internal bleeding on the nervous system. He published more than 180 scholarly

papers as well as more than 30 book chapters and a 1961 textbook, “Essentials of Neurosurgery for Students and Practitioners.” He was born May 17, 1925, in Northern Ireland and graduated from Queen’s University medical school, Belfast. He completed his internship at Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, followed by residency training in Belfast and London, and a neurosurgical residency at the Montreal Neurological Institute. In 1955, Mullan came to the University of Chicago as an assistant professor of neurological surgery and rose to associate professor in 1959 and professor in 1963. He served as section chief of neurological surgery from 1967 to 1992, including two years as acting chairman of the Department of Surgery. He was a key player in the creation of the Brain Research Institute at the University, serving as its first director from 1964 to 1984. In 1961, Mullan received the McClintock teaching prize from the University. He was the first recipient of the Herbert Olivecrona Award from Sweden’s Karolinska Institute, in 1976. He received the Penfield medal of Canada in 1979 and the Jamieson Medal of Australia in 1980. In 1985, he was elected president of the Society of Neurological Surgeons. He met his wife, Vivian Dunn, a former neurosurgery nurse, in Chicago and they married in 1959. They had three children: Joan Mullan Goldwater, LAB  ’78, MD  ’91, an internal medicine specialist at Northwestern University; John Mullan, LAB  ’79, MD  ’87, a Minneapolis-based neurosurgeon; and Brian Mullan, LAB  ’81, MD  ’91, a clinical professor of radiology for University of Iowa Health Care.

“Sean Mullan was a superb physician and mentor, soft-spoken, compassionate, communicative and gentle with patients, who revered him.” Issam A. Awad, MD John Harper Seeley Professor of Surgery

Faculty Emeritus

Raul Hinojosa, MD


aul Hinojosa, MD, a leading authority on diseases affecting the ear, died from complications related to Alzheimer’s disease on April 26 at his winter home in Morelos, Mexico. He was 86. Hinojosa conducted a series of important studies on the fine anatomy of structures within the ear and the causes of hearing loss — ranging from damage caused by injuries to natural aging and exposure to various medications, including cancer chemotherapy. He also brought more precise standards and new methods, such as electron microscopy, to the imaging, diagnosis and measurement of gradual and sudden hearing loss. He taught generations of medical students and residents about diseases of the ear, nose and throat. Hinojosa received his MD from the National Autonomous University of Mexico in 1954, followed by two years of additional training in pathology there. A fellowship from the Mexican government enabled him to study temporal bone pathology and electron microscopy, which

he pursued with leading figures at multiple universities, including Harvard, Johns Hopkins and the University of Chicago. In 1962, he joined the otolaryngology section of the surgical faculty at the University of Chicago as an assistant professor. He was promoted to research associate (assistant professor) in 1968 and to associate professor in 1988. He retired with emeritus status in 1998. Hinojosa was author or co-author of 86 research papers and 11 book chapters, and lectured internationally. His research and worldwide connections enabled him to acquire one of the world’s largest collections of temporal bones and related tissues, which will provide material for further scientific study. Hinojosa and his wife, Berta, travelled the world together, scuba diving in such places as the Great Barrier Reef, the Red Sea, New Guinea and the Caribbean. The opera and classical music were among the pair’s other passions. He is survived by Berta; their children, Bertha Elena Baillie, Raul, Jorge, and Maria Hinojosa; four grandchildren; and two sisters. A memorial service was held at the University of Chicago’s Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts. MEDICINE ON THE MIDWAY

FALL 2015


Nonprofit Organization U.S. Postage


Chicago, IL Permit No. 5179

950 East 61st Street WSSC 325 Chicago, IL 60637