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MEDICINE MIDWAY UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO

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Biological Sciences Division

Neuroscience at a turning point

Neuroscientists at the University of Chicago are using powerful new tools to study virtually every aspect of the brain and human behavior


Dean’s Letter

Dear Colleagues,

N We have begun the first systematic evaluation of our basic research and graduate education programs in more than 30 years.

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

euroscience has led to discoveries that have profound impact on the biological sciences and health care. Just as significant is the influence that technology continues to have on our exploration of the brain. The cover story by University of Chicago Medicine science writer Kevin Jiang gives a fascinating account of the scientists across our campus who are studying the brain and human behavior, as well as the sophisticated new tools that are accelerating their discoveries. You’ll read about brain-machine interfaces, a laser built to fire directly into the brain to control individual neurons, and the powerful tools that are advancing understanding of the genetics behind complex human behaviors. This research, of course, is driven by questions that demand answers. On page 18, faculty members from several disciplines share the fundamental questions that drive their work. Advancing knowledge is at the heart of our tradition. Scientists like Frank W. Fitch, MD’53, SM’57, PhD’60, and the late James E. Bowman, MD, are significant contributors to our legacy, and we proudly pay tribute to them in this issue. An annual lecture has been established in honor of Dr. Fitch, the Albert D. Lasker Professor Emeritus in the Department of Pathology and the Ben May Department for Cancer Research, and his wife, Shirley. Dr. Fitch pioneered cloning of T cells and advanced understanding of passive immunization, in which patients receive antibodies to fight infection. Dr. Bowman was the Biological Sciences Division’s first tenured African American professor, and this year we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Bowman Society, which brings the Pritzker School of Medicine community together for mentorship and scholarly discussion on health care issues affecting minority communities. The lasting impact of these pioneers continues to motivate and inspire many. Among those who are ready to advance the University of Chicago’s tradition of excellence are our students. Pritzker’s Class of 2015 is 100 percent matched, and our students have selected residencies at top programs around the country, including 19 who will be staying with us at the University of Chicago Medicine for all or part of their training. Also, more than 50 BSD graduate students were supported by research fellowships from the National Science Foundation and other agencies in 2014-15, an impressive number that speaks to their talent and creativity. These bright young physicians and scientists hold great promise for the future. I have been fortunate to receive extensive input from faculty groups and many individual faculty members about their views on the appropriate priorities for the BSD going forward. I take this input very seriously. We have begun the first systematic evaluation of our basic research and graduate education programs in more than 30 years. This will involve a rigorous review that will inform our strategy for elevating the quality, eminence and impact of the basic research and graduate educational programs over the next five to 10 years. Once this examination of our basic science programs is complete, we will also develop a process to determine ways to advance the eminence and impact of clinical investigation at the University of Chicago.


TA B L E O F C O N T E N T S

Cover Story MEDICINE MIDWAY UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO

on the

Biological Sciences Division

SP RIN G 20 1 5

Neuroscience at a turning point

Neuroscientists at the University of Chicago are using powerful new tools to study virtually every aspect of the brain and human behavior

10 A revolution is underway in neuroscience. Enabled by tools with power, sophistication and flexibility at once-unimaginable levels, neuroscientists across the University of Chicago campus are studying virtually every aspect of the brain and human behavior. Among the questions they seek to answer: How do billions of neurons create perception, cognition and action? How do genes influence behavior? And how can unified perception, coherent thought and goal-directed behavior emerge from the combined activity of millions of individual neurons?

Features 2

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20 Alumni authors pen a murder mystery

Nirav Shah, JD’07, MD’08, talks about how the University of Chicago prepared him for the challenges he faces as the new director of the Illinois Department of Public Health.

and a memoir.

22 Grassroots effort establishes a lectureship in honor of longtime faculty member Frank Fitch, MD’53, SM’57, PhD’60, and his wife, Shirley.

David Whitney, MBA’78, MD’80, 2 and family create a scholarship for Pritzker students pursuing a second degree, preferably in economics or business.

26 Sometimes a pet makes the best lab

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partner. Just ask Erin Adams, associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, with her dog, Xena.

Departments Letter from the Dean

BSD News

34 Pritzker Poetry Contest

Midway News

28 NSF Fellowship recipients talk about their research

35 Holly J. Humphrey, MD’83, gives the State of the School presentation

3 Pritzker makes the top 10 in latest medical school rankings 4 Dean Polonsky reappointed

30 BSD graduate students, including Sara Jackrel, above, take the lead on high-profile publications

38 Class Notes Hear from your classmates, near and far

6 Bowman Society marks its 10th anniversary

Pritzker News

39 In Memoriam

32 Match Day 2015 results

41 Remembering Donald F. Steiner, MD’56, SM’56

I

34 MS4 baby boom

Spring 2015 Volume 68, No. 1 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. Email us at momedit@uchospitals.edu Write us at Editor, Medicine on the Midway The University of Chicago Medicine 950 E. 61st St., WSSC 325 Chicago, IL 60637

uchospitals.edu/midway

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

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, MS3 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 John Easton Laura Ramos Hegwer Kevin Jiang Catherine Julitz Ellen McGrew Brooke E. O’Neill Stephen Phillips Gretchen Rubin Rebecca Silverman Anne Stein Matt Wood UChicago News

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Photo Contributors David Christopher Robert Kozloff Jean Lachat Jason Smith Joel Wintermantle 2020 Communications, Inc. Medical & Biological Sciences Alumni Association Pritzker School of Medicine Special Collections Research Center University of Chicago Library

Design Wilkinson Design

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Q & A W I T H N I R AV S H A H

Midway News

Hitting the ground running at the IDPH Nirav Shah, JD’07, MD’08, was appointed director of the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) in January. His background includes disease control work in Cambodia, where he managed outbreaks of dengue fever and multi-drug resistant malaria. He teaches in the global health program at the University of Chicago. Shah, 37, discusses his hopes and plans for an agency created to “protect the health and wellness of the people of Illinois” and the training — much of it at the Pritzker School of Medicine and the Law School — that prepared him for the role.

BY JOHN EASTON

“This is my dream job. This agency speaks up for the health and the rights of the most disadvantaged. What we do matters.” Nirav Shah, JD’07, MD’08

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What are your goals for this job? If you were extraordinarily successful, what would change? Although Illinois scores well on a variety of health care markers and metrics, we have significant room for improvement. I’m hoping to be more active, more aggressive in disease prevention areas like smoking cessation, vaccination rates and obesity. I also am concerned that modern public health has come unmoored from its classical underpinnings, gone astray in two areas. First, the field has taken on a decidedly paternalistic tone. “We know what’s best for you, and, therefore, we are going to tax your soda.” This is where my U of C stripes show. Rather than hectoring people about losing weight, smoking, things of that nature, we should help individuals who want to make positive changes in their lives. In a period of austerity, we want to become a resource for individuals who are willing to make the effort. That’s a better investment than spending to convince them. Second is the notion that public health is all about programs. I think modern public health is more about being a convener, ensuring that voices are heard, that all parties are included and have a stake in the outcome. That doesn’t cost much. It’s resoundingly effective to pull key individuals, community leaders and others, you name it, into a room and say, “OK, we’ve too long thought about health as simply a medical model.” Health is not just diabetes or heart disease. We need to focus on basic issues like food — quality food, food deserts, food security, take your pick — and housing. For many years these issues have been siloed off in other departments. The governor’s

THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO MEDICINE AND BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES DIVISION

focus on efficiency is an opportunity for us to work with colleagues at other agencies to reframe how we think about fundamentals. You mentioned that the University of Chicago and your work at the Sidley Austin law firm prepared you for IDPH. How do those two fit together? The University of Chicago educated me about medicine and law, but it fundamentally taught me to think rigorously and empirically as well as how to analyze data and use it to inform policy decisions. Sidley Austin taught me how to be a professional: how to be an effective communicator, manager, advocate; how to write a good business letter, interact with opposing counsel or soothe angry clients. Much of the work I did there involved public health, such as disaster preparedness. They gave me a firm grounding in the legal and regulatory aspects that are indispensable for my new job. Given the state’s financial status, your new job sounds like the kind of challenge a dual UChicago degree person might choose. What can we do to help? We need ideas, preferably radical ones. I have several of my own, but I want any faculty, staff, student, reader to email me if they’ve got an innovative idea. I will read them and try to respond. I have a few of my own, but I need a lot more. Tell us three of yours. Perhaps my craziest notion is to move away from educational models and toward frank incentives. Idea one: I want to reward people for doing the right things,


G R A D U AT E S C H O O L R A N K I N G S

for example not getting HIV. Two, we should look for ways to rationalize allocation and motivate donation to our organ procurement system. Three, on the local health side, there are ways to incentivize healthy behaviors at minimal expense. For example, offer cell phone minutes to people who can verify they are taking their hepatitis C or tuberculosis medications. Here’s one more wild idea. I would be delighted if, by the end of my tenure here, our department was the Google for public health, the place where our brightest young minds with an interest in public health want to work. I want to attract top University of Chicago graduates, undergraduates, bright people clamoring to get jobs in health policy or epidemiology or finance. That would be a coup.

Pritzker moves up to top 10 in latest survey

T

he University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine regained its top 10 status as one of the country’s best medical schools and its primary care program scored its strongest rating since 2010 in the most recent U.S. News & World Report Best Graduate Schools survey. Pritzker tied for 10th place in the 2016 rankings of research-focused medical schools with the University of Michigan and the University of Washington. Pritzker, the only Illinois medical school in the top 10, also made the top 10 list two of the three previous years. In the newest rankings, Pritzker’s primary care program climbed to 19th place — also the highest in Illinois — up from 26th in 2015 and 39th in 2014. Pritzker was third in the country for the amount of federal research grants it received per faculty member from the National Institutes of Health in the recent survey. Pritzker received an average of $255,800 for each faculty member, behind only Stanford University ($381,800) and New York University ($333,700).

Pritzker tied with Stanford as the thirdmost selective medical school, earning high marks for its median MCAT score, the median undergraduate GPA of its students and its overall acceptance rate. Only Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Pennsylvania earned higher selectivity scores. UChicago top in nation in paleontology The 2015 rankings for graduate programs in the biological sciences were re-published in the latest U.S. News & World Report survey. The PhD programs in the Biological Sciences Division ranked 14th in the country in last year’s report. The University of Chicago paleontology program, which draws from the interdepartmental and inter-institutional Committee on Evolutionary Biology, was rated No. 1 in the nation. And UChicago’s ecology/ evolutionary biology program tied for 4th with Stanford University. Those rankings will be updated in three years.

Read the full interview in Science Life uchospitals.edu/sciencelife-shah.

M E D I C I N E O N T H E M I D WAY

An app for you 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.

uchospitals.edu/midway

PHOTO BY ROBERT KOZLOFF

Medical students work in the Clinical Pathophysiology and Therapeutics (CPP&T) lab at the Pritzker School of Medicine. Pritzker ranked in 10th place in the latest U.S. News & World Report Best Graduate Schools survey.

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LEADERSHIP

Midway News

Polonsky reappointed as head of BSD, Pritzker and medical center

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enneth S. Polonsky, MD, the Richard T. Crane Distinguished Service Professor of Medicine, has been appointed to a second five-year term as dean of the Biological Sciences Division and the Pritzker School of Medicine and executive vice president for Medical Affairs at the University of Chicago. “Under Kenneth’s leadership, the medical center has made dramatic steps forward in virtually every aspect of clinical care,” said Robert J. Zimmer, University of Chicago president. “That this has been accomplished in a very uncertain and volatile environment for health care nationally has made these advances all the more remarkable. Thanks to the work that Kenneth, his leadership team and all members of our clinical care delivery program have done over the past few years, we are in a dramatically stronger position to address these challenges.” The growing strength of the clinical enterprise has enabled Polonsky, working closely with the faculty, to begin laying the foundations for new and major investments in research and education,

and for ensuring the strength of the structures that support the basic sciences. In the last four years, the BSD has recruited outstanding scholars who have been helping to build and enhance existing programs and launch new ones. “The University of Chicago is on an exciting trajectory and the opportunities for biology and medicine to participate in this positive momentum are substantial,” Polonsky said. “I am energized by the possibilities, and I can assure you of my enthusiastic commitment to ensuring that the next five years will be productive and rewarding in advancing our missions of research, education, patient care and community service.” Polonsky came to the University in 1978 for a fellowship in endocrinology. He joined the faculty in 1981 and soon became section chief of endocrinology and director of the Diabetes Research and Training Center. He spent a decade at Washington University in St. Louis, where he was chair of medicine, returning to the University in his current role in 2010.

“Working with the outstanding faculty, students and staff in both the BSD and medical center has been the most rewarding experience of my career.” Kenneth S. Polonsky, MD

B I G DATA

University of Chicago establishes Genomic Data Commons The University of Chicago is collaborating with

the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to establish the nation’s most comprehensive computational facility, which stores and harmonizes cancer genomic data generated through NCI-funded research programs. The establishment of the NCI Genomic Data Commons (GDC) will expand access for scientists around the country, speeding up research and, in turn, leading to faster discoveries for patients. The GDC will provide an interactive system for researchers, making the data easier to use. It also will provide resources to facilitate the identification of subtypes of cancer as well as potential therapeutic targets. “The Genomic Data Commons has the potential to transform the study of cancer at all scales,” said Robert Grossman, PhD, director of the GDC project and professor of medicine at the University of Chicago. “It supplies the data so that any researcher can test their ideas, from comprehensive ‘big-data’ studies to genetic comparisons of individual tumors, to identify the best potential therapies for a single patient.” NCI has funded a number of large research 4

projects that have collected genomic data on tumor types from more than 10,000 patients. However, the data for these studies are scattered across different locations and are in different formats, making it challenging for researchers to perform analyses. According to the Institute of Medicine, there is an urgent need for a system to store, harmonize and analyze existing cancer genomics data. The GDC will provide an expandable, modern informatics framework that uses standards to make raw and processed genomic data broadly accessible. The project will harmonize and centralize existing NCI datasets as well as streamline access to data for researchers regardless of their institution’s size or budget. The GDC also creates a foundation for future cloud-based technologies that one day will allow researchers to analyze large-scale datasets and perform experiments remotely. The open-source software being developed by the GDC has the potential to become a model for data-intensive research efforts for other diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and diabetes.

THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO MEDICINE AND BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES DIVISION

“With the GDC, the pace of discovery shifts from slow and sequential to fast and parallel. Discovery processes that today would require many years, millions of dollars and the coordination of multiple research teams could literally be performed in days, or even hours.” T. Conrad Gilliam, PhD, dean for basic science


C O M E R C H I L D R E N ’ S H O S P I TA L 1 0 T H A N N I V E R S A R Y

Training tomorrow’s leaders in pediatric medicine BY STEPHEN PHILLIPS

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ediatric residency program director Alisa McQueen, MD, regularly gives tours of Comer Children’s Hospital at the University of Chicago Medicine for prospective trainees. There’s one detail that catches her eye every time: the clouds, colorful flowers and trees painted on the ceiling in the emergency department’s trauma bay. “Imagine you’re a child hit by a car. You’re lying there, frightened, surrounded by doctors, looking up at the ceiling. Someone thought to put that artwork there, so you could see peaceful images.”

In the decade since its opening, Comer Children’s Hospital has trained 242 pediatric residents and 131 pediatric fellows. Shaping leaders is a core focus — graduates of the programs now work here and at other top children’s research hospitals throughout the U.S. McQueen and her colleagues take a broad view of leadership: “Leaders are physician-scientists who push the frontiers of discovery. But they are also policy and economic leaders who help navigate shifting economic and political

Generous donations from the Comer family were used to build the state-of-the-art Comer Children’s Hospital, a pediatric emergency department and a center for outpatient specialty care. The Comers’ contributions also have supported the recruitment of leading physician-scientists and scientists and advanced programs toward leadingedge innovations in pediatric medicine. Gary Comer, the founder of Lands’ End, grew up on the South Side. PHOTOS BY ROBERT KOZLOFF

Transplant chief J. Michael Millis, MD, professor of surgery, leads medical students, residents, fellows, nurses and other staff members on rounds in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Comer Children’s Hospital.

It might seem like a small thing, said McQueen, assistant professor of pediatrics, but “if we can relieve some of a child’s anxiety, we can deliver better care.” That level of thought was put into the entire hospital, which opened 10 years ago, on February 19, 2005. Designed with input from physicians, nurses, parents and children, the 242,000-square-foot hospital welcomed young patients — and trainees — into a new era of pediatric medicine. “Residents learn the importance of environment the moment they set foot inside Comer,” McQueen said. uchospitals.edu/midway

times, primary care leaders who give kids a medical home, and medical education leaders who train future pediatricians.” This is reflected in a unique feature of Comer’s residency program — the option, introduced in 2011, to pursue scholarship tracks. These paths allow residents to conduct graduate study in medical education, public policy, health economics and other areas in addition to their residency training. As well as gaining enhanced training themselves, these residents enrich their peers’ experience, McQueen said. “Not being isolated on a medical campus expands our vision of scholarship and allows for collaboration and innovation in how we think about caring for children.”

Jill C. Glick, MD, professor of pediatrics, and Stephanie Comer at the 10th anniversary celebration for Comer Children’s Hospital.

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A living legacy The Bowman Society celebrates a decade of mentorship BY BROOKE E. O’NEILL

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hen renowned University of Chicago physician-scientist James E. Bowman, MD, was first approached about lending his name to a new society to support underrepresented minorities in their

academic medical careers, he was honored, but hesitant. As the Biological Sciences Division’s first tenured African American professor and a mentor to countless students and faculty, Bowman wanted to make sure the organization had legs to last beyond a few meetings.

individuals on this campus. … At Bowman Society lectures, he almost always lent a historical perspective on the issue being discussed. He could discuss the history of the scientific subject, but also explain to the group the history of that particular topic on campus. He was a very engaging, very thoughtful, very inspirational man. … He always thought people were coming to hear the lecturer, but I think sometimes they were coming to see him.” Holly J. Humphrey, MD’83, dean for medical education

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Ten years later, the Bowman Society is still going strong, bringing the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine community together for mentorship and scholarly discussion on health care issues affecting minority communities. To date, the Bowman Society Lecture Series has hosted more than 45 talks, drawing such speakers at former U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, MD, and Otis Brawley, SB’81, MD’85, chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society. Olufunmilayo I. Olopade, MD, the Walter L. Palmer Distinguished Service Professor of Medicine and Human Genetics, gave the anniversary lecture in April. “Dr. Bowman’s first act of generosity was to allow us to name the society after him as a living legacy,” said Holly J. Humphrey, MD’83, Pritzker’s dean for medical education. The professor emeritus of medicine and pathology continued to support the society’s mission financially and intellectually until his death in 2011. “We could always count on him to be sitting in the very front row at lectures and usually to ask the first question,” she said. “He was an inspirational figure.” For underrepresented minority students, residents and faculty, Bowman’s example is critical in a field that still struggles with diversity. “If you want to pursue an academic medical career, just being a good student isn’t enough,” said Bowman Society founding director William McDade, PhD’88, MD’90, who wanted to provide young physician-scientists an opportunity to learn “the ins and outs of academic life” through mentorship with senior faculty.

THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO MEDICINE AND BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES DIVISION

SPECIAL COLLECTIONS RESEARCH CENTER, UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO LIBRARY

“Dr. Bowman touched many, many lives of

James E. Bowman, MD 1923-2011


Valerie Jarrett, center, daughter of the late James E. Bowman, MD, and senior advisor to President Barack Obama, with the Jarrett Scholars: Jennifer Jones, MS4, left, Julie Mhlaba, MS3, Miguel Barajas, MS1, and Lola Oladini, MS2.

PHOTOS BY 2020 COMMUNICATIONS, INC.

As a medical student, McDade sought out Bowman’s counsel when debating which campus research lab to join. Bowman’s advice to investigate sickle-cell hemoglobin, an issue of particular concern for African American populations, led McDade to researcher Robert Josephs, PhD, professor of molecular genetics and cell biology, and, ultimately, to his doctoral dissertation topic. “Dr. Bowman was really a beacon,” said McDade, associate professor of anesthesia and critical care and deputy provost for research and minority issues. “It’s that kind of direction that the society aims to give people.” In addition to the lecture series, the organization holds regular meetings to encourage networking between physicians at different career stages. “It puts at the forefront people who have overcome odds and succeeded,” said Baddr Shakhsheer, MD, a general surgery resident at the University of Chicago Medicine. “It allows for natural mentorship channels to be formed.” He credits those connections for helping to further his own career and also pushing him to think more deeply about race-based issues in regard to patient care. Pritzker student Victoria Thomas, MS2, agreed. “Part of the reason I chose the University of Chicago was its strong focus on health care disparities,” said Thomas, who is researching cardiovascular health. “The Bowman Society allows me to learn about upand-coming research in the field and connect with

uchospitals.edu/midway

Holly J. Humphrey, MD’83, dean for medical education, speaks at the anniversary event.

people who have similar backgrounds to mine. It’s really empowered me to make sure I give back to my community.” That empowerment remains the heart of the society’s mission. “It still serves the purpose of bringing together people who might seldom encounter each other,” McDade said, “giving them a chance to meet others doing marvelous things.” He thinks Dr. Bowman would be pleased.

Valerie Jarrett, left, and Olufunmilayo I. Olopade, MD, the Walter L. Palmer Distinguished Service Professor of Medicine and Human Genetics, at the reception in honor of the Bowman Society’s 10th anniversary.

For the full list of Bowman Society lecturers, please visit uchospitals.edu/ pritzker-bowman.

“We really get the best and brightest to be Bowman Society lecturers. These are extraordinary scholars in their fields, and the esteem that the lecture designation has given individuals has become recognized around the country.” William McDade, PhD’88, MD’90 Bowman Society founding director

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ALUMNI PROFILE

Improving health care, one future physician leader at a time David Whitney, MBA’78, MD’80, and family fund a scholarship to prepare the next generation of physicians who aim to transform the business of health care BY LAURA RAMOS HEGWER

F Jennifer Ghandhi fifth-year MD/PhD student and scholarship recipient Research focus: How can we improve the way we care for vulnerable patients?

Her gift for challenging the status quo could change the way physicians work. Your gift can help. Join the Legacy Challenge. Your gift to the University of Chicago Medicine & Biological Sciences can help train the innovative physicians and scientists whose work will change the future of medicine—in Chicago and around the world. Thanks to the Legacy Challenge, your pledge of $25,000 or more will have even more impact. For every dollar you contribute for scholarships and training support, the fund will match half. The goal: $10 million in new gifts. With the match, that’s $15 million in new funding to support tomorrow’s leaders in science and medicine. Make an investment in the next generation of inquiry and impact. Email Sean Campbell at scampbel@mcdmail.uchicago.edu or call (773) 834-5428. For more information, visit givetomedicine.uchicago.edu.

ixing a complex problem like the rising cost of health care requires understanding what motivates people to change. That is one of the keys to price theory, an economic principle that made a lasting impression on David H. Whitney, MBA’78, MD’80, who studied economics while pursuing his medical degree at the University of Chicago. “If you want to understand how things work, you have to look at what incentivizes people,” Whitney said. “If we could arm physicians with a better understanding of this, we could make a difference. And I don’t think there is a better place on earth than the University of Chicago for those in medicine to get a grounding in economics.” That is why he created the Whitney Family Scholarship Fund, which supports medical students in the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) who are pursuing a second degree, preferably in economics or business. In 1974, Whitney graduated magna cum laude from Rice University and was offered a full scholarship to pursue his MD at the Pritzker School of Medicine and his PhD in biological sciences in the Biological Sciences Division. Soon after Whitney arrived on campus, he became increasingly intrigued by the University’s world-renowned economics program. “Even back then, I perceived that a big part of the issue facing medicine was the galloping cost of care,” he said. “I thought that with a degree in economics as well as medicine, I could straddle the line between both worlds.” Whitney shared his intentions with the late dean of students Joseph J. Ceithaml, SB’37, PhD’41, and became one of UChicago’s first

uchospitals.edu/midway

PHOTO BY ROBERT KOZLOFF

David Whitney, MBA’78, MD’80, and son Eric Whitney, a first-year student at the Pritzker School of Medicine.

candidates to pursue both an MD and a PhD in economics. Ultimately, Whitney chose to earn an MBA instead of a PhD, although he did pioneer a path that later evolved into Pritzker’s program in Medicine, the Social Sciences and Humanities (MeSH) for students interested in obtaining an MD and a PhD outside of the biological or physical sciences. Today, Whitney practices dermatology in the Chicago suburbs and lives downtown with his wife of 30 years, Juliana Chyu, MD, who recently retired from dermatology. The couple met as residents at the University of Chicago and have two adult sons. Their younger son, Eric, is a first-year medical student at Pritzker after spending several years teaching first-graders in Brooklyn through Teach for America.

“It does have extra meaning for me to be here, because I understand how much the University of Chicago means to my dad,” said the younger Whitney. An active volunteer, David Whitney served as president of Pritzker’s Alumni Council from 2004 to 2006. Today, he chairs the Visiting Committee to the Division of Biological Sciences and Pritzker School of Medicine. In this role, he leads a diverse network of business and cultural leaders whose advocacy and support help drive the institution’s success. Whitney’s desire to “give back” is one of the values that Eric admires most about his father. As Eric put it, “The years my dad spent here shaped him and were some of the most valuable in his life. Now, he wants to pay that forward.”

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ALUMNI PROFILE

Improving health care, one future physician leader at a time David Whitney, MBA’78, MD’80, and family fund a scholarship to prepare the next generation of physicians who aim to transform the business of health care BY LAURA RAMOS HEGWER

F

ixing a complex problem like the rising cost of health care requires understanding what motivates people to change. That is one of the keys to price theory, an economic principle that made a lasting impression on David H. Whitney, MBA’78, MD’80, who studied economics while pursuing his medical degree at the University of Chicago. “If you want to understand how things work, you have to look at what incentivizes people,” Whitney said. “If we could arm physicians with a better understanding of this, we could make a difference. And I don’t think there is a better place on earth than the University of Chicago for those in medicine to get a grounding in economics.” That is why he created the Whitney Family Scholarship Fund, which supports medical students in the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) who are pursuing a second degree, preferably in economics or business. In 1974, Whitney graduated magna cum laude from Rice University and was offered a full scholarship to pursue his MD at the Pritzker School of Medicine and his PhD in biological sciences in the Biological Sciences Division. Soon after Whitney arrived on campus, he became increasingly intrigued by the University’s world-renowned economics program. “Even back then, I perceived that a big part of the issue facing medicine was the galloping cost of care,” he said. “I thought that with a degree in economics as well as medicine, I could straddle the line between both worlds.” Whitney shared his intentions with the late dean of students Joseph J. Ceithaml, SB’37, PhD’41, and became one of UChicago’s first

uchospitals.edu/midway

PHOTO BY ROBERT KOZLOFF

David Whitney, MBA’78, MD’80, and son Eric Whitney, a first-year student at the Pritzker School of Medicine.

candidates to pursue both an MD and a PhD in economics. Ultimately, Whitney chose to earn an MBA instead of a PhD, although he did pioneer a path that later evolved into Pritzker’s program in Medicine, the Social Sciences and Humanities (MeSH) for students interested in obtaining an MD and a PhD outside of the biological or physical sciences. Today, Whitney practices dermatology in the Chicago suburbs and lives downtown with his wife of 30 years, Juliana Chyu, MD, who recently retired from dermatology. The couple met as residents at the University of Chicago and have two adult sons. Their younger son, Eric, is a first-year medical student at Pritzker after spending several years teaching first-graders in Brooklyn through Teach for America.

“It does have extra meaning for me to be here, because I understand how much the University of Chicago means to my dad,” said the younger Whitney. An active volunteer, David Whitney served as president of Pritzker’s Alumni Council from 2004 to 2006. Today, he chairs the Visiting Committee to the Division of Biological Sciences and Pritzker School of Medicine. In this role, he leads a diverse network of business and cultural leaders whose advocacy and support help drive the institution’s success. Whitney’s desire to “give back” is one of the values that Eric admires most about his father. As Eric put it, “The years my dad spent here shaped him and were some of the most valuable in his life. Now, he wants to pay that forward.”

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Neuroscience at a turning point How University of Chicago neuroscientists are using powerful new tools and big data to study the most complex structure in the universe: the human brain

BY KEVIN JIANG

I

n an office enclosed by the pale limestone walls

in a wheelchair, a few feet away from where a robotic

of Culver Hall on the University of Chicago’s

arm stands on a table. She concentrates and imagines

Main Quadrangles, Nicholas Hatsopoulos, PhD,

moving her arm, activating a flood of neural activity.

puts on a pair of broken glasses (he accidentally left

A microchip implanted in her motor cortex picks up

his good ones at home) and opens a program on his

the electrical signals of a few select neurons. It relays

computer. A grid appears, 16 columns by eight rows. In

the information to a device attached to her scalp.

of data are going

almost every square, multiple lines trace a short wave

These data — visualized in the grids of the neural

to open, and the

with a single dip and peak — resembling individual

interface software — are processed and translated by

heartbeats from an electrocardiogram superimposed

a computer into commands. The robotic arm moves,

on top of each other.

reaches for a water bottle on the table, picks it up and

“The floodgates

understanding will follow.” John Maunsell, PhD Director, Grossman Institute for Neuroscience, Quantitative Biology and Human Behavior

“What you’re looking at is a recording of our acquisition system. Each panel here represents the

Hatsopoulos, who helped develop the technology

action potentials, the firing, of a single neuron,” says

that allowed this woman to move the robotic arm

Hatsopoulos, professor of organismal biology and

with her mind, has dedicated his career to better

anatomy and chair of the Committee on Computational

understanding how the brain controls motor func-

Neuroscience. “We’re recording directly from the

tions. Through the use of state-of-the-art technology,

brain. This is how we give a subject control over a

he and his colleagues leveraged a basic understanding

robot arm or a cursor on a screen with their thoughts.”

of individual neurons to create instructions for a

He plays a video. A woman with quadriplegia sits

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brings it to her mouth. She takes a sip.

THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO MEDICINE AND BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES DIVISION

robotic arm.


How do billions of neurons create perception, cognition and action? Nicholas Hatsopoulos, PhD PROFESSOR

O R G A N I S M A L B I O L O G Y A N D A N AT O M Y

PHOTO BY JEAN LACHAT

Yet, however advanced his work may seem, it is only the vanguard of a revolution underway in neuroscience. Enabled by tools with power, sophistication and flexibility at once-unimaginable levels, research into virtually every aspect of the brain is accelerating. Across the University of Chicago, neuroscientists are taking advantage of this shift — developing not just mind-controlled prosthetics, but also touch-sensitive ones; building a laser, fired directly into the brain, that controls individual neurons and changes behavior; scanning tens of thousands of genomes to identify genes linked to loneliness; targeting brain tumors with cancer-killing viruses loaded into stem cells; and more. Innumerable questions still remain, but deciphering the brain’s language and structures, functions and malfunctions, appears to be a question of when, not if. uchospitals.edu/midway

Decoding the brain The human brain is perhaps the most complex structure in the universe. It contains something in the neighborhood of 100 billion neurons organized in vast and intricate networks. To put this in perspective, if 100 billion people were to stand shoulder to shoulder (picture a crowded concert), they would occupy an area the combined size of Rhode Island and Connecticut. But neurons are also wired to each other, communicating and interacting to perform all the brain’s functions. So imagine every single one of those 100 billion people having phone calls with 1,000 to 10,000 other people. All at once. From these trillions upon trillions of neuronal conversations arise every breath, thought and sensation: everything that every human has ever done. The brain makes the Gordian knot seem like a shape block toy for toddlers, but there are ways to approach the problem without swords. Back in Hatsopoulos’

Hatsopoulos helped develop the technology that allows a subject to move a robotic arm with her mind. The next challenge: augmenting these systems with sensory feedback.

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A microchip about the size of a baby aspirin is used to collect data for brain-machine interfaces. Electrodes measure the activity of individual neurons in the motor cortex of the brain.

office, he displays a microchip about the size of a baby aspirin used to collect neural data for brain-machine interfaces. Up close, the chip looks like a tiny bed of nails, with sharp spines lined up in neat rows. Each of these spines is a single electrode that, when implanted into the motor cortex of the brain, measures the electrical activity of individual neurons. “We record anywhere from 30 to 200 neurons,” he says. “This is obviously a tiny fraction of the neurons in the motor cortex, but it’s enough to give control. It’s remarkable.” Reaching out with an arm involves movements in different directions, Hatsopoulos explains. It turns out that different groups of neurons are tuned to movements in different directions. A certain population might only fire in response to a signal to move an arm left. Another group for down, others for up and so on. When a person is told to imagine moving his or her arm in a certain direction, a unique and measurable pattern of neurons fires. And how many times those neurons fire over a certain period of time is the key piece of information. “If we look at one cell and its firing rate, it doesn’t tell us much,” he says. “But if we look at the firing rates of many cells simultaneously, we can predict the direction in which an arm will be moved with a mathematical model. It’s actually kind of simple.” Hatsopoulos walks to a whiteboard and scribbles down an equation: N d(t) = ∑ n=1 an fn (t)

When a person is told to imagine moving his or her arm in a certain direction, a unique and measurable pattern of neurons fires. And how many times those neurons fire over a certain period of time is the key piece of information.

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Different people have different definitions of simple, but he elucidates. The formula describes how to calculate a direction of movement over time, d, from a thought. This is done by using the microchip to record the firing rates, f, of individual neurons as a subject imagines moving his or her arm. These measurements are multiplied by a coefficient, a, which is unique and calibrated to the individual, and then combined. The resulting value, d, is the directional instruction that, when fed to a robotic arm, moves it. There are other factors that need to be considered — for example, electrode placement (they’re placed on a region that controls the arm) and spike sorting (when electrodes pick up multiple neurons, those signals have to be teased apart) — but this formula is essential. “This is how we decode the brain,” Hatsopoulos says. “This is the basic underlying language of motion and movement.” The method, for now, won’t help someone play tennis or a violin. But functional motor control, enough to help someone feed herself or himself, for example, is within sight. To reach the next sea change for this technology, research groups are working to develop better ways to record neurons and improved

THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO MEDICINE AND BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES DIVISION

robotic devices. More important, however, is augmenting these systems with sensory feedback, Hatsopoulos said. Almost all current technologies rely on visual feedback to correct errors. But real limbs rely on the sense of touch and proprioception — the ability to sense the relative position of body parts. Fortunately, the same techniques used to create robotic prosthetics also allow scientists to impart sensory feedback into them. Mathematical models can decode the differences in activity of neurons that respond to the touch of silk or corduroy, for example; computer algorithms can recreate those patterns; and microchips can relay them back to the brain, directly stimulating neurons with the recreated pattern to generate a sense of touch. There are many complexities, but Hatsopoulos — as well as his colleague in the Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy, assistant professor Sliman Bensmaia, PhD, and other groups around the country — is working to combine these technologies into what will someday soon be a truly functional robotic prosthetic. However, deeper questions still loom. Sophisticated brain-machine interfaces rely on understanding and utilizing the basic “language” of the brain and have achieved remarkable results — more than enough for the Department of Defense to invest millions of dollars into research and development. But they do so by interpreting the activity of a few dozen neurons at once, akin to eavesdropping on a random conversation at Soldier Field to recreate a football game. And though they can move robotic arms, no computational model can identify how the brain decides to move. How neural patterns work across millions or billions of cells — how they create behavior, how decisions are made, how they form a single, unified experience — is still largely unknown.

A window into the brain “It’s clear that neuroscience is at a turning point,” says John Maunsell, PhD, director of the University of Chicago’s new Grossman Institute for Neuroscience, Quantitative Biology and Human Behavior. “An unprecedented number of new tools and approaches are enabling rapid progress on every front. It’s not one specific question or one specific area or one animal model. The floodgates of data are going to open, and the understanding will follow. The payoffs could be enormous.” Established to accelerate the discovery of fundamental insights about the brain and human behavior, the Grossman Institute spans boundaries and coordinates neuroscience research across the University of Chicago. It opened its doors in 2014, occupying


Mark Histed, PhD R E S E A R C H A S S O C I AT E ( A S S I S TA N T P R O F E S S O R ) N E U R O B I O LO G Y

How can unified perception, coherent thought and goal-directed behavior emerge from the combined activity of millions of individual neurons? John Maunsell, PhD A L B E R T D. L AS K E R P R O F E S S O R

N E U R O B I O LO G Y

PHOTO BY JEAN LACHAT

22,000 square feet of open laboratory and office space on the fourth floor of the 5812 S. Ellis Ave. building. Maunsell, the Albert D. Lasker Professor of Neurobiology, is still unpacking. A renowned neuroscientist who has made fundamental discoveries about the mechanisms that underlie vision, attention and perception, and former editor-in-chief of the prestigious Journal of Neuroscience, he joined the University of Chicago in 2014 from Harvard Medical School. While he juggles a myriad of tasks — establishing programs to foster collaborations and new exchanges of ideas, recruiting new faculty, developing new student programs and more — he manages the transition of his own laboratory to this new space. Tucked in a corner of the Grossman Institute, in one of the few areas behind closed doors, Maunsell’s lab is strewn with pieces of complex equipment, computers, oscilloscopes and boxes full of random wires and parts. His collaborator, Mark Histed, PhD, research associate (assistant professor) in the Department of Neurobiology, walks through this space and points to an open area. uchospitals.edu/midway

“That’s where we’re going to build the laser microscope,” he says nonchalantly. “We’re just making sure the floor is capable of handling it.” In a project funded by the BRAIN Initiative — a nationwide research effort to uncover fundamental insights about the brain announced by President Barack Obama in 2014 — Maunsell and Histed, along with international colleagues, are working to, quite literally, shed light on how the brain creates behavior and makes decisions. One of the greatest recent revolutions in neuroscience is the field of optogenetics, a method that enables control over neural activity with light. It involves genetically engineering neurons to express a light-sensitive protein transplanted from algae. These neurons can then be activated or inhibited with a flash of light, reacting with precise timing — incredibly important when a change of a few milliseconds can alter the activity of entire networks. For Maunsell and Histed, the real potential of optogenetics emerges when combined with other tools. The first are techniques to study behaviors in mice

In a project funded by the BRAIN Initiative, Maunsell and Histed, along with international colleagues, are working to, quite literally, shed light on how the brain creates behavior and makes decisions.

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A custom-designed microscope will use a powerful laser that targets cells with femtosecond pulses of light (a femtosecond is to a second as a second is to about 32 million years). The laser can be used to precisely control the activity of optogenetically modified neurons to see how behavior is affected. Maunsell and Histed plan to begin gathering data this fall.

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and measure their cognitive states. An example: A well-trained mouse holds down a lever while watching a video screen. When it notices a change in brightness, orientation or whatever measure the researchers are interested in, it releases the lever. In doing so, the animal effectively reports a shift in its perception, and any associated changes in its neural patterns can be measured. This may sound simple, but this behavioral approach, broadly known as psychophysics, has only recently been refined in mice. This is particularly significant because of numerous advantages to the mouse animal model, including the availability of optogenetic mice. Another tool is a custom-designed microscope that uses a principle known as two-photon excitation — basically a powerful laser that targets cells with femtosecond pulses of light (a femtosecond is to a second as a second is to about 32 million years). The laser can be shined deep into living brain tissue, through a clear window surgically implanted in the skull. By illuminating special fluorescent dyes or indicators that respond to neuronal activity, the laser lights up only active neurons. This allows clear visualization of the workings of hundreds of neurons at once in an awake, healthy animal that is performing behavioral tasks. This same laser can be used to precisely control the activity of optogenetically modified neurons to see how behavior is affected. “We will be able to perturb specific patterns of neural activity for the first time,” Histed said. “If we look at an area of a brain while we present a sensory stimulus, those many neurons fire in a complex pattern. If we change the activity of a few cells and see what results, we can begin to describe features of neural patterns that are most important for behavior. This is the key aspect of brain function that we don’t yet understand.” For now, the hard work of designing and building the equipment, writing and debugging software, and a myriad of other tasks remains. Impressively, much of this is done by the scientists themselves, as no commercial products have the specifications the team requires. For example, the team is assembling the twophoton microscope, which includes the femtosecond laser, piece by piece — effectively hand-building the clockwork network of lenses, mirrors and detectors that make up a microscope, but spread out all over a heavy table cushioned by air so that building vibrations don’t knock anything out of alignment. Maunsell and Histed plan to begin gathering data this fall. “We don’t know how long it will take before questions like these are answered,” Maunsell said, “but they will all be approachable. It’s a great time to be in neuroscience, and there’s no question that there will be enormous returns on this kind of investment.”

THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO MEDICINE AND BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES DIVISION

The lonely brain While the neuron is the working unit of the brain and understanding how neurons work one of the great challenges in science, neurons are not transistors in some immutable computer. Much remains unknown about how complex biology — protein production and signaling networks, nutrient transport systems, repair mechanisms, metabolic functions, genetic machinery and more — impacts normal brain function, behaviors and disease. But advanced tools are also enabling insights into these myriad questions. The Monday morning after the largest snowfall of the year, most Chicagoans groaned and prepared for an aggravating morning commute. Abraham Palmer, AB’92, PhD, happily strapped on a pair of cross-country skis and trekked to work, breaking his own trails down sidewalks, streets and the Midway Plaisance. Skis off, Palmer, associate professor of human genetics, settles in to focus on his own particular take on neuroscience research — deciphering the genes that influence complex human behaviors, such as loneliness. If it seems strange to think that there might be a genetic basis for loneliness, it helps to have a precise definition. A world-renowned collaborator doesn’t hurt either. John Cacioppo, PhD, the Tiffany and Margaret Blake Distinguished Service Professor of Psychology, studies the health effects of loneliness and other social behaviors. One of the many ways he approaches this topic is through surveys included in the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) — a longitudinal study of 20,000 Americans over the age of 50, around half of whom have been genetically characterized. Instead of loneliness as a state — feeling lonely because a spouse is going out of town, for example —  Palmer and Cacioppo are interested in individuals who perceive themselves to be socially isolated throughout the course of their lives. Two individuals may have similar social networks, but one might perceive himself or herself as being lonely where the other is perfectly content. This perceived social isolation can be thought of as a trait. Applying powerful computational tools to data from the HRS, Palmer and his team analyzed roughly 10,000 individuals to look for genetic differences associated with loneliness. They found that not only is loneliness a heritable trait, it’s significantly so — common genetic variants predict around 15 to 25 percent of the differences in perceived loneliness in their study population. “It’s clear that genes influence not only the risk for behavioral diseases, but normal traits as well,” Palmer said. “These studies are an avenue for us to understand how the brain works and how individual differences


How do genes influence behavior? Abraham Palmer, AB’92, PhD A S S O C I AT E P R O F E S S O R

HUMAN GENETICS

PHOTO BY ROBERT KOZLOFF

that are partially genetic lead to different behaviors and different ways of relating to the world.” While a sample size of 10,000 is an impressive number, it is still too small to identify specific genes for complex and variable behavioral traits. To draw unambiguous links, study sizes of 25,000, 50,000 and upward are needed. Only a few short years ago, this would have been unthinkable. But innovations in the field of human genetics are spawning genetic profiling technologies that are rapidly increasing in power and decreasing in cost. Taking advantage of this trend, Palmer is engaging in a unique partnership with 23andMe, a Californiabased company that offers genetic tests for ancestry for less than $100. With the voluntary participation of 23andMe customers, Palmer and his collaborators are sending carefully designed questionnaires to identify individuals with behavioral traits including loneliness. Since they have known genetic profiles, this represents an opportunity to add potentially tens of thousands more samples to the UChicago researchers’ studies. “A partnership with a company like 23andMe was uchospitals.edu/midway

not something you could imagine 10 years ago,” Palmer said. “There’s really an opportunity now, with all these technologies available, to start unlocking, at the molecular level, questions that we couldn’t even have hoped to have framed.” Studies of this kind are not simply for the sake of new knowledge. Loneliness is not a disease, but it is correlated with increased risk of depression, neurovascular issues and even death. Other behaviors that Palmer studies with close collaborators at the University of Chicago and around the world are closely tied to human health as well. They include impulsivity, which is linked to increased risk for drug abuse. To understand how these genes function and to make potential use of them to treat disease, Palmer and his colleagues utilize tools to overexpress or delete the genes in mice and rats, and to measure the subsequent effects on behavior. This has proven a fruitful approach. While studying anxiety, they found that mice that overexpressed the gene Glo1 had more anxiety-like behavior. This was strange because Glo1 — a gene involved in sugar metabolism that can be found in both plants and MEDICINE ON THE MIDWAY

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Supported by a $2.6 million NIH grant, Balyasnikova and Lesniak are investigating how stem cells delivered via intranasal application can migrate from

animals — had no known connection to the brain. A deeper investigation revealed why. The main function of Glo1 is to remove the molecule methylglyoxal, a metabolic by-product. The team discovered that, very unexpectedly, methylglyoxal inhibited the function GABAA receptors, a ubiquitous neurotransmitter receptor with a well-known role in anxiety and depression. Overexpression of Glo1 led to too little methylglyoxal. When mice were given methylglyoxal directly, they got less anxious within minutes. “This was an exciting discovery because manipulating the protein that Glo1 produces could conceivably lead to something that would have widespread clinical use,” Palmer said. “This comes entirely from our work in model organisms, from looking at the relationship of genetic variability and behavior. It gave us entrée into an unexpected relationship for this gene that had no obvious connection to neuroscience. We were able to exploit that point of entry to understand something new about basic cellular physiology that nobody previously understood.” Palmer’s aim is to understand how genes and molecular mechanisms influence behavior, but this is a means to an end. In one form or another, from one approach or another, the ultimate ambition of many neuroscientists is to engender new strategies to treat diseases or fix dysfunction of the brain. And of all the health challenges that humans face, these are perhaps

the most devastating. From depression to Alzheimer’s, stroke to traumatic brain injury, dysfunctions of the brain can affect our senses, thoughts and memories, interactions with strangers and loved ones, control over our bodies and everything else that makes us human.

Targeting brain tumors On a warm spring day in Boston in 2008, Maciej S. Lesniak, MD, professor of surgery and neurology, presented at a symposium during the annual American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy meeting. Named one of three outstanding new investigators, he spoke about developing oncolytic viruses — genetically engineered viruses that specifically target and kill malignant brain tumor cells, leaving normal tissues alone. But he found it difficult to focus. The speaker before him, Karen Aboody, MD, professor of neurosciences at City of Hope in Los Angeles, had just described her work with a special line of neural stem cells that have the natural ability to seek out and target invasive brain tumors. “As I was listening to her talk, all I could think about was ‘oh my god, I want those cells,’” Lesniak says, laughing. He and Aboody met for the first time that day, and sparked a collaboration that has now spanned the better part of a decade. Both of their technologies,

the nasal cavity, through bone and tissue, to treat highly invasive brain tumors.

How do we cure brain cancer? Maciej S. Lesniak, MD P R O F E S S O R S U R G E R Y A N D N E U R O LO G Y

Irina Balyasnikova, PhD R E S E A R C H A S S O C I AT E ( A S S I S TA N T P R O F E S S O R )

SURGERY PHOTO BY ROBERT KOZLOFF

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THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO MEDICINE AND BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES DIVISION


created by leveraging basic genetic, molecular and cellular laboratory techniques, were reaching a critical point in the transition to potential clinical use. Oncolytic viruses showed great promise, but delivering them to tumors was proving difficult. The brain’s innate defenses and immune reactions prevent the spread of the viruses from the initial site of injection and limit their therapeutic efficacy. At the same time, Aboody was showing that neural stem cells act as impressive therapeutic carriers. Combining the two technologies seemed a perfect match. Stem cells are typically known for turning into different cell types and for their utility in regenerative medicine. But they also are able to spread throughout the body and travel to damaged regions as well as to tumors. Importantly, the body’s defense systems ignore them. Lesniak and Aboody found that loading oncolytic viruses onto neural stem cells effectively shielded the viruses and escorted them to tumor sites. Once there, the stem cells die, freeing the viruses, which then infect and kill cancerous cells. “It’s like a one-way stealth bomber,” Lesniak said. “It travels to tumors unseen by the immune system. Once it gets there, the cargo or ‘the bomb’ gets released.” Lesniak, Aboody and their colleagues have worked hard to refine this approach over the years and have shown that it helps to reduce tumor sizes and prolong survival in animal models. In 2010, their neural stem cell line received FDA approval for a first-in-human clinical trial to treat high-grade malignant brain tumor patients, and efforts toward developing more trials are ongoing. At the same time, Lesniak and his colleagues are working on novel tools to improve the delivery of their technology. With Irina Balyasnikova, PhD, research associate (assistant professor) and colleagues in the Section of Neurosurgery, Lesniak’s team discovered that stem cells loaded with oncolytic viruses can actually be delivered to tumors via an intranasal application. After administration into the nasal cavity, stem cells can be seen in the brain in as little three hours. But as is the case with almost everything in the brain, the basic mechanisms of this process are poorly understood. Supported by a $2.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, Balyasnikova and Lesniak are investigating how it is that stem cells can migrate from the nasal cavity, through bone and tissue, to target highly invasive brain tumors. Using radioactive nanoparticles, they have been able to track up to 400 individual cells at once in animal models. Preliminary insights are showing that stem cells take advantage of openings created by the olfactory nerve and actually travel along it like a highway into the brain. Understanding the dynamics of this migration, as well as other important characteristics such as uchospitals.edu/midway

the clearance of cells from the nasal cavity and their activity once inside the brain, will be essential if a nasal spray containing cancer-killing viruses stored in stem cells is to someday become a clinical option. “The intranasal administration of medication is the least invasive thing to the body,” Balyasnikova said. “We don’t want to stick needles into patients’ brains or force them to come to the hospital for IVs every other day for months. If we could develop this as a therapeutic modality, the benefit to patients would be enormous.”

Loading oncolytic viruses onto neural

Watson and Crick moment It is because of the sheer complexity of the brain that so many of its functions are mysterious and so few cures and treatments exist for when things go wrong. Despite the proliferation of new and powerful tools in neuroscience, much, much more remains unknown than known. But these tools are enabling the development of strategies that begin to address questions — from basic mechanisms to translational therapeutics — that could not even have been asked a few years ago. In the Grossman Institute, Mark Histed takes a moment to put everything in perspective. He opens a short black-and-white video of a two-photon microscope focusing on a tiny portion of the brain. A field of neurons, perhaps hundreds of cells, can be seen. He hits play, and individual neurons begin to light up — dozens and dozens of them, for a second or two at a time, in apparently random patterns and sequences. It’s reminiscent of television static, and it seems staggering to even begin to make sense of the activity. Yet this is only a miniscule peek into what the brain does when it’s processing visual information, Histed explains. “Neuroscience is at a stage like biology was before Watson and Crick,” he says. “How do you go from these patterns to understanding how the brain works? That’s the enterprise upon which we’re embarking. There are thousands of labs across the country that are working on these issues, and it’s only a matter of time before someone figures out the most important principles.”

stem cells not only shields the viruses from the body’s defense systems, but escorts them to the tumor sites. “It’s like a one-way stealth bomber,” Lesniak said.

On the next page: More researchers, and the fundamental questions that drive their work

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How do neural circuits in the brain evolve to take on new functions? Melina Hale, PhD’98 PROFESSOR

O R G A N I S M A L B I O LO G Y A N D A N AT O M Y

How does the brain help an animal adapt to environmental challenges and increase evolutionary fitness? Xiaoxi Zhuang, PhD PROFESSOR

N E U R O B I O LO G Y

The Big Questions

What scientists throughout the BSD and across the campus are seeking to answer about the brain and human behavior

How is it that certain chemicals (i.e., drugs), in certain people, acquire control over behavior and apparently subvert rational choices? Harriet de Wit, PhD PROFESSOR

P S YC H I AT R Y A N D B E H AV I O R A L N E U R O S C I E N C E

What are the structures of computation in the brain that allow it to perform one of the most important problems it must solve: prediction? Stephanie Palmer, PhD A S S I S TA N T P R O F E S S O R

O R G A N I S M A L B I O LO G Y A N D A N AT O M Y

What happens differently in the brain when we “choke under pressure” vs. when we thrive when the stakes are highest? Sian Beilock, PhD PROFESSOR

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THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO MEDICINE AND BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES DIVISION

P S YC H O LO G Y


How do brains create wisdom from knowledge and experience? Howard Nusbaum, PhD PROFESSOR

P S YC H O LO G Y

What neural mechanisms guide moral reasoning and prosocial behavior and how they develop in young children? Jean Decety, PhD PROFESSOR

P S YC H O LO G Y

How do neural circuits in visual brain areas allow us to make decisions and form new memories about the things we see? David Freedman, PhD A S S O C I AT E P R O F E S S O R

N E U R O B I O LO G Y

What are the brain circuits that underlie helping behavior and can this help us address the fundamental issue of our time: Why can’t we all just get along? Peggy Mason, PhD PROFESSOR

N E U R O B I O LO G Y

What language do neurons use to communicate with one another and to convey information about the world around us? Sliman Bensmaia, PhD A S S I S TA N T P R O F E S S O R

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O R G A N I S M A L B I O LO G Y A N D A N AT O M Y

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Pritzker alumni pen captivating tales

The physician’s late-night reading list The Doctor and Mr. Dylan (Pegasus Books, 2014)

By Rick Novak, MD’80 PHOTO COURTESY OF RICK NOVAK, MD

My name is Dr. Nico Antone. I’m an anesthesiologist, and my job is to keep people alive. Nothing could inspire me to harm a patient. Alexandra Antone was my wife. Alexandra and I hadn’t lived together for nearly a year. I dreaded every encounter with the woman. I wished she would board a boat, sail off into the sunset, and never return. She needed an urgent appendectomy on a snowy winter morning in a small Minnesota town. Anesthetist options were limited. Life is a series of choices. I chose to be my

“I thought it was a novel way of killing someone,” said Rick Novak, MD’80, deputy chief of anesthesiology at Stanford University, describing the imagined hospital death that was the genesis of his dark thriller The Doctor & Mr. Dylan. A huge Bob Dylan fan — the rock icon was born in Novak’s hometown of Hibbing, Minnesota, where the story takes place — he then dreamed up a possible culprit: a psychotic anesthetist who thinks he’s Dylan. From there, the words flowed. “I would write whenever I was with my laptop and had a free moment: in mornings, in evenings, in gaps between cases,” said Novak, who also blogs about anesthesia topics. “I don’t sleep much.” After finishing the manuscript — one year to write, another to edit — came the challenge of finding a publisher. “In anesthesia, I’m an expert,” Novak said. “In the literary world, I’m an unknown.” After 207 responses of “no, thanks” or no answer at all, he landed an agent. Two months later, she informed him that Pegasus Books had bought his debut novel. “I started crying,” Novak admitted. “I have a third grader and at the time the big word the class was learning was ‘perseverance.’ That was it exactly.” Check out more of Novak’s writing or get in touch at ricknovak.com or theanesthesiaconsultant.com.

wife’s doctor. It was an opportunity to silence her, and I took it.

BOOK EXCERPT

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BY BROOKE E. O’NEILL

F

or most physicians, writing — patient notes, case histories, perhaps journal articles — is part of the job. But for anesthesiologist-novelist Rick Novak, MD, and neurosurgeon-memoirist Moris Senegor, MD, it’s a second career that consumes early morning hours long before they step into the operating room. Fans of John Grisham will find a kindred spirit in Novak, whose fast-paced medical thriller, The Doctor & Mr. Dylan (Pegasus

Books, 2014), transports readers to rural northern Minnesota, where an accomplished physician and a deranged anesthetist who thinks he’s rock legend Bob Dylan see their worlds collide in the most unexpected ways. Delivering real-life twists and turns — and a love letter to the Bay Area — is Senegor’s Dogmeat: A Memoir of Love and Neurosurgery in San Francisco (Xlibris, 2014), a comingof-age tale chronicling the author’s away rotation with renowned neurosurgeon

Charles Wilson, MD, at the University of California, San Francisco. Brutally honest, it spares no details of a time Senegor, who also served as a resident under the University of Chicago’s famed neurosurgery chief Sean Mullan, MD, describes as “one of the biggest failures of my life.” One a vividly imagined nail-biter, the other an intimate peek into the surgical suite, both books deliver an ample dose of intensity and drama.

Dogmeat: A Memoir of Love and Neurosurgery in San Francisco (Xlibris, 2014)

By Moris Senegor, MD’82 PHOTO COURTESY OF MORIS SENEGOR, MD

“Most memoirs are usually people, in one way or another, writing about what a great person they are, elevating themselves,” said California neurosurgeon Moris Senegor, AB’78, MD’82, whose book explores a tumultuous six months that nearly derailed his career. “I wanted to do the exact opposite.” In a high-risk field notorious for big egos, his riveting account of working under star surgeon Charles Wilson, MD, has shocked many of his colleagues. “Most doctors don’t present their shortcomings in such a candid manner,” admits Senegor, who as a “cocky young neurosurgeon” struggled to prove himself in Wilson’s high-volume pressure cooker of an OR. Providing the foil to Wilson is the University of Chicago’s legendary former head of neurosurgery, Sean Mullan, MD, under whom Senegor spent five years as a resident. “Personality-wise, he functioned more like an old-fashioned country doctor,” taking his time and offering impeccable bedside manner, Senegor said. He credits Mullan with teaching him to think creatively in the operating room to deliver the best possible treatment. “Surgery is an art,” Senegor said. “Ultimately, it’s the people you train with who influence you.” Learn more and get in touch at senegordogmeat.com or bluffy@gotnet.net.

uchospitals.edu/midway

“What are you doing here?” Jonathan asked, upon first greeting me. I explained that I was to be the Wilson Resident for the next six months. “Yes, I know,” he cut me off, “but why?” I had no answer. Was I to tell this stranger, friendly as he seemed, my aspirations to become a world-famous neurosurgeon, like Dr. Mullan or Wilson? Was I to tell him the complicated story of my academic inbreeding and what I had done so far to break its mold, and how fruitful it had been in London and Boston, and how much more fruitful I expected it here? It didn’t matter. Jonathan wasn’t expecting any answers. “Let me tell you one thing first. Your role here is to be Wilson’s dogmeat. You do all the work and he gets all the credit.” Then he added, with a sardonic smile that lifted the tips of his black moustache: “Welcome.” BOOK EXCERPT

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“A passion for doing it right” Lectureship honors an esteemed teacher, colleague and scientist ‘loved by many and respected by all’

BY STEPHEN PHILLIPS

T Last summer, 69 individuals and organizations, mostly past and present faculty and alumni, raised more than $100,000 to establish an annual lecture in honor of Frank W. Fitch, MD’53, SM’57, PhD’60, and his wife, Shirley.

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oday, monoclonal antibodies form an integral part of breast cancer care, helping physicians diagnose subtypes of the disease and determine the best treatment for patients. The seminal 1970s University of Chicago research that resulted in this new standard of care — conducted when monoclonal antibody production was in its infancy — owes much to the adroit actions of Frank W. Fitch, MD’53, SM’57, PhD’60, the Albert D. Lasker Professor Emeritus in the Department of Pathology and the Ben May Department for Cancer Research. Then-Ben May Laboratory director Elwood V. Jensen, PhD ’44, had tapped Fitch to help develop the first monoclonal antibodies for breast cancer diagnosis. But the rat from which they planned to harvest white blood cells went into anaphylactic shock. “I had no idea what to do,” recalled Geoffrey Greene, PhD, the Virginia and D. K. Ludwig Professor for Cancer Research and chair of the Ben May Department for Cancer Research, then a postdoctoral fellow in Jensen’s lab. “Frank didn’t hesitate; he took tubing, put one end over the rat’s nose and blew through the other.” The quick-thinking “mouth-to-nose resuscitation” revived the rat and kept on track a project that led to a supply of

THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO MEDICINE AND BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES DIVISION

“exquisite probes for detecting and quantifying estrogen receptor (ER) protein in breast tumors,” Greene said. Fitch’s resourcefulness left a powerful impression on Greene: Here was an established faculty member rolling up his sleeves to pitch in. “It was emblematic of Frank’s desire to help others,” Greene said. Greene is not alone in considering Fitch a formative figure in his development. He is among 69 individuals and organizations, mostly past and present faculty and alumni, who last summer raised more than $100,000 to establish an annual lecture in honor of Fitch and his wife of 63 years, Shirley. “This was a real outpouring of recognition for Frank and Shirley,” said Arthur Weiss, PhD ’78, MD ’79, Ephraim P. Engleman Distinguished Professor at the University of California, San Francisco, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, who studied under Fitch. “To a person, people thanked us for the opportunity to give back,” said Jeffrey A. Bluestone, PhD, A.W. and Mary Margaret Clausen Distinguished Professor in Metabolism and Endocrinology and director of the Hormone Research Institute at UCSF, who was hired into his first faculty position by Fitch and spearheaded the fundraising with Weiss. “Frank is loved by many and respected by all. He’s left a profound impact on a large community.” For Fitch, the lectureship is perhaps the ultimate accolade. Fitch arrived on campus as a 20-year-old medical student in 1949; he had compressed three years of undergraduate study into two by taking summer classes at Western Illinois University and Peoria’s Bradley University, in addition to his coursework at Monmouth College. It was the start of a more than fourdecade career at the University of Chicago. Besides being a major producer of monoclonal antibodies, Fitch pioneered cloning of T cells, the white blood cells critical to immune function, and led early efforts to distinguish different types of T cells. With the late immunologist Donald A. Rowley, SB ’45, SM ’50, MD ’50, he advanced understanding of passive immunization, in which patients receive antibodies to fight infection. Fitch and Rowley found that this procedure repressed patients’ native


immune response — an effect they showed could be harnessed to combat organ rejection in transplant recipients. Fitch also showed a flair for administration. In 1974, he co-founded the Committee on Immunology, which established a degreegranting program in immunology at the University, and in 1982 he was appointed director of the Ben May Laboratory for Cancer Research. It was a transitional time. The lab was chiefly identified with its previous directors, Nobel laureate Charles B. Huggins, MD, and Lasker Award-winner Jensen. Fitch presided over its diversification into a full-blown institute. “He really began its transformation into the department it is today,” said Greene. He is also credited with impeccable hiring: Two of his recruits were Bluestone and Marsha R. Rosner, PhD, who would succeed him back-to-back as Ben May Institute directors. Fitch doesn’t hesitate though when asked what makes him most proud: “The 35 MD and PhD students and seven postdoctoral fellows who trained in my lab.” “They’re accomplished people,” he said. “If I’ve helped them grow and be more effective, I’ve done what I should have.” Fitch spurred his students to use their initiative and follow their curiosity. “I had technical skills,” said Wendy L. Havran, PhD’86, now professor of immunology and microbial science at the Scripps Research Institute. “What he gave me was the push to be independent, self-driving, to take ownership of projects.” “Frank encouraged us to be adventurous, to take on challenging problems,” said Robert H. Waterston, MD’72, PhD’72, a prime mover behind the sequencing of the human genome, now professor and chair of genome sciences at the University of Washington. “He didn’t like to supply answers to questions but rather led us to answer the questions on our own.” “He emphasized self-discovery and the Socratic method,” said Thomas F. Gajewski, AB’84, PhD’89, MD’91, professor of medicine at the University of Chicago. “He provided resources and key knowledge points. Then he basically put a bunch of smart people in a room to solve problems in a self-motivated way. … It felt like an artists’ colony; a hive of creativity and knowledge generation.” This is not to imply a casual attitude. Havran recalled a backbone of rigor. Implicit uchospitals.edu/midway

PHOTO BY ROBERT KOZLOFF

Frank W. Fitch won the Norman Maclean Faculty Award from the University Alumni Association in 2008. The award recognizes emeritus or senior faculty members for outstanding contributions to teaching and student life on campus.

in Fitch’s approach were high expectations; what she called “a passion for doing it right.” Fitch set an example in his own research. Weiss recalled Fitch’s return from sabbatical at Switzerland’s University of Lausanne. “He wanted to replicate his lab there, but we couldn’t get it operational,” Weiss said. “He went through every reagent and ultimately pinpointed the formulation of a tissue culture medium — basically salts and sugars — that was slightly different from what he’d been using.” “Of all the people I’ve worked with, he’s the one who influenced me the most,” Weiss added. “Frank taught me how to do good experiments and ask good questions. He also had incredible integrity, epitomizing the highest ethical standards.” Fitch’s influence extends to his colleagues. “Frank taught me what loyalty, honesty and integrity are all about,” said Bluestone. “He was a great mentor as leader of the Committee on Immunology and Ben May Institute, teaching me how to respect each faculty member and build a cohesive team. “He was the first to acknowledge others. He’d highlight his students in every setting and say he was only the conductor; they were the orchestra making the music.”

Exemplifying this was a novel practice he introduced with Rowley and operated until the late 1970s, when funding reductions made it untenable. “Every student who published a paper would, if appropriate, be listed as sole author,” Weiss recalled. “I’ve never heard of that before or since, but it shows how generous he was. It was something I’ll never forget. Frank was incredibly generous; he promoted others’ careers more than his own.” Fitch applied the same communityminded ethos to sharing research findings.

The University of Chicago’s Frank W. Fitch Monoclonal Antibody Facility is named in Fitch’s honor. “He was adamant that when you made advances, you published them, shared them with other labs — that the way science advanced was through freely distributing findings,” said Havran. A further expression of this public spiritedness was his dedication to extramural service. Continued on page 24

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Frank Fitch doesn’t hesitate when asked what makes him most proud: “The 35 MD and PhD students and seven postdoctoral fellows who trained in my lab.”

Signature Style

PHOTO COURTESY OF FRANK W. FITCH

As editor-in-chief of The Journal of Immunology, Fitch initiated development of the first full-text online issue — a task that entailed working with a crew of mostly young IT contractors. “One day, the head of the group came to a meeting wearing a bow tie — Frank’s signature look,” recalled AAI executive director M. Michele Hogan. ”He wore it to remind himself to be more like Frank.” Years later, Hogan ran into the man again. “He was still wearing a bow tie.”

Happy Fridays Frank and Shirley Fitch hosted regular Friday evening beer-and-pretzel sessions — with cider for non-drinkers —  in their Hyde Park home. The gatherings became a tradition for many students. “Over the years, people would bring guitars,” said Fitch. “At Halloween, we’d have pumpkin-carving contests.” Said Robert H. Waterston, MD‘72, PhD‘72, “Frank and Shirley made Chicago feel like home.”

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Continued from page 23

FAC U LT Y A N D A L U M N I H O N O R E D

“Frank ingrained it in us to give back,” said Havran. “He insisted all students join the American Association of Immunologists (AAI), and it was a tradition to attend the annual meeting, submit an abstract and hopefully be selected to make a presentation.” Fitch’s commitment to the AAI culminated in 1992-93 when he served as president. The following year, he was named president of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, representing the nation’s biomedical researchers — a role to which he brought a working scientist’s perspective in advocating for increased research funding by Congress. “My pitch was that basic science can have tremendous practical implications and human benefit,” Fitch recalled. Following his retirement from the University, he served as editor-in-chief of The Journal of Immunology from 1997 to 2002. “It was neither a part-time nor a side job to him,” said AAI executive director M. Michele Hogan, PhD. “Frank set a high standard for scientific integrity, respect for authors, and the communication of science that we hold in place to this day.” A final measure of the esteem in which Fitch is held is the alacrity with which ex-students and colleagues mobilized the grassroots effort to endow the lectureship. “We crossed the fundraising finishing line in a very short time,” said Gajewski. “Many people cared about Frank and wanted to ensure he was remembered for his seminal work and exemplary manners.” There was a full house for the inaugural Frank W. & Shirley D. Fitch Lecture, given by Mark M. Davis, PhD, the Burt and Marion Avery Family Professor of Immunology at Stanford University School of Medicine, last October. “Frank got a standing ovation,’ Gajewski recalled. “It was a touching moment.” “The room was noisy and joyful,” said Hogan. “Frank was the rock star.” Despite offers from other institutions, Fitch said he “consciously chose to remain at the University because of the quality of the students and faculty and the emphasis on scholarship.” “I can’t put it very well into words,” he added, “but I am what I am because I have been at the University of Chicago.”

New Masters named

THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO MEDICINE AND BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES DIVISION

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hree alumni have been honored as Masters of the American College of Physicians. Masters are chosen for their eminence and contributions in practice, leadership or medical research. Mark Siegler, MD’67, is the Lindy Bergman Distinguished Service Professor of Medicine and Surgery at the University of Chicago, executive director of the Bucksbaum Institute for Clinical Excellence and founding director of the MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics. Otis Brawley, SB’81, MD’85, is chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society. He is a professor of hematology and medical oncology at the Emory University School of Medicine. Paul Volberding, MD, AB’71, is codirector of the UCSF-Gladstone Center for AIDS Research and director of the UCSF AIDS Research Institute. He is known for his pioneering work in treating patients with HIV.

2014 AAAS Fellows

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ive faculty members were named 2014 Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Fellows are elected by AAAS members for their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications. The faculty members, who were honored at the AAAS meeting in February 2015, are Francisco Bezanilla, PhD, the Lillian Eichelberger Cannon Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; Chuan He, PhD, the John T. Wilson Distinguished Service Professor, Department of Chemistry, and director, Institute for Biophysical Dynamics; Shohei Koide, PhD, professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; Manyuan Long, PhD, the Edna K. Papazian Distinguished Service Professor, Department of Ecology and Evolution; and Tao Pan, PhD, professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.


In Memoriam

Melvin J. Gordon, Tootsie Roll CEO and supporter of scientific research at UChicago

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elvin J. Gordon, CEO of Chicago-based Tootsie Roll Industries and a longtime supporter of scientific research at the University of Chicago, died in January 2015 at age 95. In 2006, Melvin Gordon and his wife, Ellen, made a generous donation toward the construction of the Ellen and Melvin Gordon Center for Integrative Science, which houses more than 100 senior scientists, along with 700 additional researchers and students. Visitors can enjoy Tootsie Roll confections as they pass through the lobbies of the Gordon Center, which have bowls stocked with a neverending supply.

Andrei Tokmakoff, PhD, the Henry G. Gale Distinguished Service Professor and an Institute for Biophysical Dynamics faculty member, whose lab space is located in the Gordon Center, said the building was instrumental in his decision to come to the University of Chicago. “The integrated physical and biological sciences environment was key,” he said. The Gordons were named Honorary Fellows of the Biological Sciences Division in 2008. Throughout Gordon’s more than 50 years as chairman and CEO, Tootsie Roll Industries saw tremendous success. Gordon led the company through a series of acquisitions, which added Dots, Junior Mints, and Sugar Babies to its portfolio of well-known brands. For those who knew him, Gordon represented the very highest values in business and acted with uncompromising integrity, wisdom and generosity. More than 300 people celebrated Gordon at a reception in Ida Noyes Hall in February. In addition to his wife, their four daughters and Tootsie Roll executives, longtime friend Fredric Coe, MD’61,

AB’57, SB’57, professor of medicine at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, also spoke at the tribute. “Everybody is fitted for something and when you’re doing what you’re perfectly fitted for, happiness comes,” said Coe. “Mel was perfectly fitted to be a captain of industry. He had the nerve, the brilliancy, the desire to win.” Gordon also had a desire to win people’s hearts with his music. A jazz musician, he wrote some 65 big band jazz songs across more than 70 years, many of which he recorded.

PHOTO BY ROBERT KOZLOFF

PBS SERIES

M A R I N E B I O LO G I C A L L A B O R AT O R Y A F F I L I AT I O N

Renowned researcher featured in documentary about cancer

MBL leader named

The late Janet Rowley, LAB’42, PhB’44, SB’46, MD’48, was one of the researchers featured in filmmaker Ken Burns’ “Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies” series that aired this spring on PBS. Rowley, the Blum-Riese Distinguished Service Professor of Medicine, Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology, and Human Genetics at the University of Chicago, was a pioneer in connecting the development of cancer with genetic abnormalities. Her work was featured in the second segment of the three-part, six-hour series based on the 2010 Pulitzer Prizewinning book “The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer” by Siddhartha Mukherjee. For more on the PBS series and cancer research at the University of Chicago, please visit sciencelife.uchospitals.edu.

uchospitals.edu/midway

Huntington Willard, PhD, an innovative leader in the fields of genetics and genome biology who has built comprehensive research centers at leading institutions, was appointed president and director of the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. Willard has earned a reputation as a groundbreaking scientist, outstanding scientific leader and talented educator. From 2003 to 2014, he was the founding director of the Duke Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy, a highly interdisciplinary unit spanning life sciences, engineering, medicine, social sciences and the humanities. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. “Hunt Willard is an outstanding scholar and a proven scientific leader who has created programs that have earned international respect,” said University of Chicago President Robert J. Zimmer, also chairman of the MBL’s Board of Trustees. “He exemplifies the values that guide the Marine Biological Laboratory and the University of Chicago — wide-ranging collaboration, eagerness to explore and define new fields of study, and a dedication to discovery through engaged education.” MEDICINE ON THE MIDWAY

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Lab partners Pets relieve stress and brighten life in the offices and labs of the BSD

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eet three professors and two graduate students and the animals that keep them company at work. View science writer Kevin Jiang’s delightful video and learn more about these pleasing pets at uchospitals.edu/sciencelife-lab-pets.

Erin Adams P h D | A S S O C I AT E P R O F E S S O R O F B I O C H E M I S T R Y

A N D M O L E C U L A R B I O LO GY

Xena, a Labrador and Catahoula leopard mix “She is my office partner.

Having a dog helps you focus on the really important things in life, which are taking care of yourself and the things you love.” Everybody’s best friend “She’s been

coming to the lab since she was a puppy. The entire department has seen her grow from a little fur ball to what she is today.” Stress relief “She provides therapy for me

and for my department mates. She really helps lighten the atmosphere and provides a release for students and postdocs.”

PHOTOS BY ROBERT KOZLOFF

Yoav Gilad P h D |

PROFESSOR OF HUMAN GENETICS

Dart frogs from Ecuador “I have always

loved frogs and I love tiny frogs in particular. I started with six and now I have countless. I think there are 30 or 40 now.” Pet sounds “Noise, that’s not noise, it’s a

mating call. I love that it’s a little jungle in my office.”

Detox diet “When they eat insects in the

wild, they can generate poison. These are not poisonous because the only thing they eat are Drosophila (which I culture myself).”

PHOTOS BY JEAN LACHAT

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THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO MEDICINE AND BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES DIVISION


Vinny Lynch P h D |

A S S I S TA N T P R O F E S S O R O F H U M A N G E N E T I C S

Siamese fighting fish from Southeast Asia “They are really pretty and dimorphic.

I’d love to sequence their genomes.”

Ommm “I’ll watch the fish if I’m thinking

deeply about something. They shift my focus. I am not a very stressed person, but the fish certainly help keep the aura of peace around.” Pretty boys “The females are tiny and kind

of bland. The males have elaborate fins and have lots of strange color combinations.”

PHOTOS BY ROBERT KOZLOFF

PHOTOS BY JEAN LACHAT

F R O M T H E L A B O F C L I F T O N R AG S DA L E , P H D :

Carrie Albertin | G R A D U AT E S T U D E N T I N

O R G A N I S M A L B I O LO GY A N D A N AT O M Y

Yan Wang | G R A D U AT E S T U D E N T

I N N E U R O B I O LO GY

Scooten Frudie the octopus (the name is

an amusing pronunciation of schadenfreude from a YouTube video). “Talk about a charismatic animal. He’s a lot of fun to watch and to interact with.” The illusionist “Octopuses can change their

complete appearance in a flash of a second or change their color or skin texture. It’s mind-boggling.” Target practice “He shoots water at our

faces from time to time. He has shockingly good aim.” On the menu “He eats a range of seafood

delicacies, including littleneck clams, shrimps and fiddler crabs. He eats better than the grad students here.”

uchospitals.edu/midway

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BSD News

R E S E A R C H AWA R D S

Fellowships enable innovative research Young BSD researchers successfully compete for fellowship support

BY ANNE STEIN

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ore than 50 graduate students in the Biological Sciences Division were supported by individual fellowships from the National Science Foundation and other agencies in 2014-15.

“Fellowships help our students to develop as independent scientists, and because our

students are bright and creative, their thesis work also often paves the way for exciting new

“The high rate of fellowship support that our students receive

larger projects that expand the research portfolio of both their labs and the division as a whole,” said Victoria Prince, PhD, dean for graduate affairs and professor of organismal biology and anatomy. Young researchers who attract fellowship support early in their careers have already

is a testament to their

started to develop critical grantsmanship skills that will be valuable when they seek

qualifications, creativity

funding for future research or apply for training and faculty positions, Prince said.

and talent.” Victoria Prince, PhD, dean for graduate affairs

The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program provides a stipend and tuition support for three years to outstanding graduate students in STEM fields. We asked three recipients of this prestigious fellowship to talk about their research and goals.

Aaron Olsen, left, Jenna Christensen and Joel Smith are among the BSD graduate students whose research is supported by National Science Foundation fellowships.

PHOTO BY ROBERT KOZLOFF

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THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO MEDICINE AND BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES DIVISION


Jenna Christensen C E L L A N D M O L E C U L A R B I O LO GY

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study the actin cytoskeleton, the structural framework within the cell that helps it to change shape when it performs different processes like moving, engulfing food or dividing. The building block of the actin cytoskeleton is the protein actin. Small actin subunits can link together to build large chains called actin filaments. Alone, actin can only make straight actin filaments, but actin can also work with other proteins to make more interesting structures like dense, branched networks or strong bundles that perform specialized functions within the cell. I’m interested in these proteins that associate with actin. In particular, I want to know how these actin-binding proteins choose which actin filaments to associate with. This is a very visual area of research, so in the lab we can take movies of cells to determine which actin structures these proteins associate with. We can then remove one of these actin-binding proteins and watch how that changes where the other actin-binding proteins localize in the cell. Long-range goals: I went to a small liberal arts college and I want to teach at a similar-size college so I can do research on a small scale and also teach undergraduates what research is all about. I enjoyed learning about bigger topics — the ethics of science, for example — and I want to explore those areas with students, too.

Aaron Olsen I N T E G R AT I V E B I O L O G Y

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y research combines natural history collections, imaging and biomechanical modeling to better understand how vertebrate feeding systems function and evolve. The main project of my dissertation seeks to uncover the direction of the evolution between aquatic and terrestrial feeding behaviors in the bird order Anseriformes (the order that includes ducks, geese, swans and mergansers). The evidence I have collected so far — data on 3D beak shape, diet and feeding behaviors put through evolutionary models — supports the theory that terrestrial, grazing (more goose-like) birds evolved from aquatic, filter-feeding (more duck-like) birds uchospitals.edu/midway

multiple times independently. This is also supported by some fossil evidence. What makes this particularly interesting is that both grazing and filter-feeding are relatively rare feeding strategies in birds. This larger evolutionary picture forms an essential foundation for future work to identify the unique biomechanical adaptations associated with each behavior. Long-range goals: I love teaching and designing research projects, so my dream is to become a professor. I’ve been a teaching assistant for the Pritzker human anatomy course for the past three years. Getting to witness the beginning of a medical student’s career and helping him or her become an expert anatomist has been the most rewarding and fun teaching experience I’ve had as a graduate student.

Joel Smith

BSD graduate students supported by research fellowships in 2014-15 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships Tyler Starr, Matthew Tien, Jenna Christensen, Adam Isabella, Robert Arthur, Molly Gallagher, Sara Jackrel, Evan Koch, Alice MacQueen, Christina Masco, Laura Merwin, Elizabeth Sander, Mohammad Siddiq, Joel Smith, Alexander White, Hussein Al-Asadi, Nicole Bitler, Daniel Hooper, Dallas Krentzel, Timothy Sosa, Lu Yao, Nicholas Vankuren, Justin Lemberg, Aaron Olsen, Thomas Stewart

E C O LO G Y A N D E VO L U T I O N

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he focus of my research is on beneficial mutations in different human populations and developing statistical methods to understand where and when adaptation has taken place. It’s becoming common practice among evolutionary biologists to scan the genomes of various species to find signatures of natural selection left by adaptive mutations — long stretches of linked genetic variation with few differences among individuals. My method uses the extent of this signature to estimate how long ago selection happened. In humans, for example, a number of genes show adaptive signatures for skin pigmentation, changes in diet and pathogen susceptibility. Some species may be constantly undergoing adaptation to keep pace with a changing environment while others can only adapt to major ecological events or not at all. If we can estimate the timing of adaptation for a large number of mutations, we may get a more clear sense of the pace of evolutionary change and what drives it. Long-range goals: I enjoy being creative and working with data, especially population genomic data. Developing my own research group at a university would be one way to continue down that path. As long as I can continue doing research in an environment that fosters creative thinking in biology, I’ll be happy.

Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Awards Nicholas Banovich, Alan Chang, Natalia Gonzales, Justin Mark Lunderberg, Matthew Odenwald, Colles Price, Michael Priest, Adrian Sanchez, Jason Matthew Torres

American Heart Association fellowships Angika Basant, Jennifer La, Michelle Miller, Noel Pauli, Michael Powers, Corey Tabit, Lena Thomer, Andy Vo

Foundation fellowships and awards Yuta Asano, Stefan Anghel, Choongwon Jeong, Silvia Kariuki, Iuri Matteuzzo Ventura, Orissa Moulton, Ziyue Gao, Christopher Schell, Laura Southcott, Jiajie Xu

Find more fellowship recipients on page 31.

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O R G A N I S M A L B I O L O G Y A N D A N AT O M Y

S C I E N C E S T U DY

BSD News

Nizar Ibrahim named 2015 TED Fellow

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aleontologist Nizar Ibrahim, PhD, a postdoctoral scholar in organismal biology and anatomy, has been named a 2015 TED Fellow. Also a National Geographic Emerging Explorer, Ibrahim is the first paleontologist in the history of the TED program. Ibrahim studies the deep past, searching in the deserts of northern Africa for insights about life in the time of the dinosaurs. He has contributed to numerous major discoveries, including Spinosaurus, a semi-aquatic predatory dinosaur larger than the T. rex, and a 95-million-year-old flying reptile with an 18-foot wingspan. Postdoctoral scholar Nizar Ibrahim, PhD, gives a talk at a recent International Community Event in Ida Noyes Hall.

CaMPARI labels neuron activity (magenta) in an awake zebrafish.

Taking a snapshot of neural activity

PHOTOS BY JOEL WINTERMANTLE

To understand how the brain works, scientists

As one of 21 newly appointed 2015 TED Fellows, Ibrahim joins a network of more than 360 international thought leaders from many disciplines who have demonstrated remarkable achievement and impact in their fields. TED Fellows will participate in either the TED or TEDGlobal conferences in 2015, where they will present their own TED talks.

Modern genetics relates fingers and fins

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volutionary biologists have wondered why the bones that make up our wrists and digits have no obvious morphological counterpart in the fins of living fish. In the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in December, University of Chicago researchers argued that previous efforts to connect fingers to fins fell short because they focused on the wrong fish. The researchers found the rudimentary genetic machinery for mammalian digit assembly in the spotted gar, a fish whose genome was recently sequenced. Andrew Gehrke, graduate student in organismal biology and anatomy and member of Neil Shubin’s lab, was lead author on the paper. Inserting gar gene switches related to fin development into developing mice evoked patterns of activity that were “nearly indistinguishable,” the authors noted, from those driven by the mouse genome.

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THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO MEDICINE AND BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES DIVISION

must be able to study neural activity, from a single neuron to large, complicated networks. Scientists can see this activity, but they have not been able to mark large populations of active neurons at specific moments in time. Ben Fosque, now a graduate student in biochemistry and molecular biophysics at UChicago, first became captivated by the idea of visualizing the activity of neurons with fluorescence when he was an undergraduate at MIT. He found an opportunity to work on a project focused on improving these technologies. Under the guidance of scientists at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s (HHMI) Janelia Research Campus, Fosque worked on developing a new tool that would allow scientists to permanently mark all the neurons active at a particular time in live animals with a flash of light. In a paper published in Science in February, the group described the results of their work — a fluorescent protein called CaMPARI, which stands for calcium-modulated photoactivatable ratiometric integrator. CaMPARI switches from green to red when the concentration of calcium inside a neuron changes, indicating its activation. But this only occurs when the protein is illuminated with violet light, giving experimenters precise control over the time period during which neural activity is tracked. “The ability to take a high resolution ‘snapshot’ of neuronal activity across several hundred thousand neurons is a new and potentially transformative development for neuronal imaging,” said Fosque, co-first author on the study. “We imagine it could find broad application in correlating behavior with neural activity with single-cell resolution.”


O R G A N I S M A L B I O LO GY A N D

C O M M I T T E E O N I M M U N O LO G Y 2015 NSF

A N AT O M Y

Graduate student chosen to attend Nobel laureate meeting

Palmer awarded Sloan Research Fellowship

F E L LO W S H I P S

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raduate student Taylor Feehley, AB’10, has been selected to participate in the 65th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting this summer in Germany. She is a Committee on Immunology student and a member of the Cathryn Nagler Lab at the University of Chicago. Feehley will be among more than 600 young scientists and researchers from around the world to attend the meeting, where they will interact Taylor Feehley, AB’10 with Nobel laureates in chemistry, physiology or medicine, and physics. Feehley is one of only 55 students selected from the U.S. She also received the 2015 LefrançoisBioLegend Memorial Award from the American Association of Immunologists.

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tephanie Palmer, PhD, assistant professor of organismal biology and anatomy, was awarded a 2015 Sloan Research Fellowship. The award from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation honors early-career scientists and scholars whose achievements and potential identify them as the next generation of scientific leaders. The Sloan Fellows receive $50,000 to further their research. Palmer studies how the brain performs the complex task of pre- Stephanie Palmer, PhD diction. She also runs Brains!, a program that gives local public school students an opportunity to perform hands-on neuroscience experiments at her lab with guidance from University of Chicago graduate students.

E C O LO G Y A N D E VO L U T I O N

Trees on the defense BY MATT WOOD

Plants can change the chemistry of their leaves

to ward off attackers like insects or small animals. In a recent study, Sara Jackrel, graduate student in the Department of Ecology and Evolution, showed that these chemical changes could then impact nearby streams, which rely on fallen leaves as a food source. Jackrel simulated herbivory — or the activity of insects eating leaves — on red alder trees in a forest on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state by systematically punching holes in the leaves with an office hole punch. Caterpillars ate fewer leaves from these trees than from those that were left alone. Leaves from these trees also decomposed much more slowly when submerged in nearby streams.

uchospitals.edu/midway

Understanding how trees’ defensive responses impact nearby streams will help scientists better predict the effects of climate change and other human activities like logging and agriculture. “With climate change, insect communities are going to change,” said Jackrel, a member of the Tim Wootton Lab at the University of Chicago. “So understanding fundamentally how these communities naturally affect leaf chemistry and how that might affect stream systems are critical references to have. Then we can work to predict how climate change, along with other anthropogenic changes, might be affecting aquatic systems.” Jackrel is the lead author of a study published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Five Biological Sciences Division students are the newest recipients of National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships. The students are Anastasia Beiriger (Developmental Biology), Christopher Craddock and Ashley Rich (Cell and Molecular Biology), Katherine Silliman (Evolutionary Biology) and Ayse Tenger-Trolander (Ecology and Evolution). Five other students have received honorable mentions: Benjamin Blanchard (Evolutionary Biology), Nathan Buerkle (Neurobiology), Andrew George (Integrative Biology), Katherine Leon (Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics) and Matt Smith (Ecology and Evolution). NSF received more than 16,000 applications for the 2015 competition and made 2,000 fellowship award offers. The awards were announced March 31, 2015.

MEDICINE ON THE MIDWAY

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Pritzker News

M AT C H DAY 2 0 1 5

The community worker, the researcher and the MBA

PHOTO BY ROBERT KOZLOFF

Fourth-year students Kunmi Sobowale, left, Vaibhav Upadhyay and Emily Stockert pursued different paths and passions in medical school.

BY GRETCHEN RUBIN

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he Pritzker School of Medicine is known for a student body with boundless enthusiasm for learning, investigation, science and community. Pritzker supports these students of

exceptional promise not only in their medical training, but also in their other intellectual and innovative pursuits. We profile three students from the Class of 2015.

Kunmi Sobowale, MS4 Before and during his studies at the Pritzker School of Medicine, Kunmi Sobowale conducted psychosocial research in Japan and China. Sobowale, who matched for psychiatry at Yale-New Haven Hospital, is passionate about helping underrepresented groups get better access to science and math education as well as to health care, particularly mental health services. 32

THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO MEDICINE AND BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES DIVISION

“I’m interested in different problems and how they connect,” said Sobowale, whose volunteer activities during medical school ranged from organizing a well-attended education conference for minority high school and college students in Chicago to taking a year off to deliver psychotherapy and microfinance services to low-income women in Vietnam. During his final year at Pritzker, Sobowale


offered his expertise to the Vietnamese community in Illinois, surveying the health care needs of teens and college students. Recently, he and three other University of Chicago students won a Healthy Chicago Innovation Challenge, a grant program aimed at improving the health of Chicagoans. The group’s project will use insights from behavioral economics to increase monetary savings in low-income families during pregnancy. “By reducing the stress of poverty and financial issues, we hope to improve birth outcomes and early childhood health,” Sobowale explained. Sobowale says he is indebted to Pritzker for the exposure and support for his community work here and abroad. “A lot of schools say they are dedicated to the community,” he said. “But when it comes to walking the walk, it’s hard to find another place like the University of Chicago.”

Vaibhav Upadhyay, MS4 Summer jobs in science labs during his premed college years — along with a little encouragement from his older brother, Gaurav Upadhyay, MD’06 — prompted Vaibhav Upadhyay, PhD, to apply to MD/ PhD programs with an eye toward a career in academic medicine and research. But when he started his doctoral studies under the mentorship of Yang-Xin Fu, MD, PhD, professor of pathology, Upadhyay felt intimidated. “Dr. Fu encouraged me to come up with a project,” the student recalled, “but I was muddling along and things were not going well. He told me ‘you need to come up with the question that needs to be answered.’” While working on an experiment involving a microbe living in the distal gut, Upadhyay noticed that these bacteria were much more numerous in mice that lacked a gene linked to obesity. “Dr. Fu was very excited about my finding and told me to form a hypothesis,” he said. Upadhyay and other researchers in Fu’s lab then compared normal mice with the mice who had the genetic defect, one that renders them unable to produce lymphotoxin, a molecule that helps regulate interactions between the immune system and bacteria in the bowel. Mice lacking lymphotoxin, they found, did not gain extra weight, even on a high-fat diet. Further experiments confirmed that gut microbes play a role in regulating weight gain.

In August 2012, Fu’s research team published their findings on the relationship between the immune system, gut bacteria and weight gain in Nature Immunology. Upadhyay was first author on the paper. Upadhyay applied to residency programs in internal medicine at institutions known for their outstanding research environments, many investigators and robust funding. After two years at the University of California, San Francisco, he hopes to fast track into a research fellowship and create his own scientific identity.

Emily Stockert, MS4 Following graduation from the University of Chicago, Emily Stockert, AB’05, MBA’10, worked in health care consulting for three years before pursuing her MBA at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. “I looked into the pharmaceutical industry during my first quarter at Booth,” she said, “and I decided I wanted to be in the delivery of care. I wanted the perspective of a physician.” Booth supported Stockert’s decision, allowing her to take organic chemistry and biochemistry as electives while also concentrating in entrepreneurship. Soon after entering the Pritzker School of Medicine in 2011, Stockert put her MBA to work in the medical field. As part of Pritzker’s Summer Research Program, she teamed up with Alexander Langerman, MD’05, assistant professor of surgery, and the medical center’s administration to examine waste in the operating room. To assess the costs of intraoperative inefficiencies related to surgical instrument trays, Stockert collected data on supplies, manpower and water usage for the sterilization procedure. She and Langerman published the results of their quality improvement research in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons in October 2014. Stockert plans to continue using her MBA in her residency and beyond. “There’s a big disconnect between quality and cost in health care,” she said. “I want to make it easier for patients and doctors to understand what patients are billed for and why.” Her residency search focused on academic medical centers with strong business school ties as well as hospitals known for applying business principles to the delivery of health care. She will do her anesthesiology residency at Stanford University.

PRITZKER CLASS OF 2015 BY THE NUMBERS

A perfect match 100 percent matched 87 students in the match

17 students matched in internal medicine, the most popular specialty What else our students will be doing: Anesthesiology (9) Pediatrics (8) Family medicine (6) Psychiatry (6) 19 graduates will stay at the University of Chicago Medicine for all or part of their training Where else our students are going: Washington University-affiliated programs (5) Northwestern University-affiliated programs (4) University of Colorado School of Medicine (4) Case Western/University Hospitals, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Oregon Health & Science University, Stanford University, Harvard-

affiliated programs (3 each)

Fourth-year students Meghan Daly, above left, and Sarah Dabagh celebrate on Match Day. Below, Camil Correia looks at her envelope in anticipation.

PHOTOS BY ROBERT KOZLOFF

uchospitals.edu/midway

MEDICINE ON THE MIDWAY

SPRING 2015

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Pritzker News

M AT C H DAY 2 0 1 5

ANNUAL POETRY CONTEST

Medical students find the fourth year is a good time to have a baby

Poetry rounds

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edical students often bring special guests — parents, spouses, significant others — to Match Day in March. This year, three baby boys and two baby girls joined their MS4 moms for the envelope-opening ceremony. Kimberly Clinite, Stephanie Kazantsev, Melissa Naylor, Elizabeth Rhinesmith and Emily Stockert each pursued careers or graduate studies between college and medical school — a growing trend among incoming medical students across the country. Now in their early 30s, the women wanted to start or add to their families before beginning their residencies. Rhinesmith’s daughter Kate, 4, and Kazantsev’s son Noah, 3, also joined their moms for the celebration, wearing pint-sized versions of the official Class of 2015 Match Day T-shirt. “One of the wonderful things about Pritzker is they let you figure out how to make your life work,” said Stockert, who is married to Jack Stockert, AB’05, MBA’10, MD’10. She and her pregnant classmates knew they had the school’s full support if they needed to take extra time off. “None of us did, but knowing that really reduced stress.” Stockert interviewed for residency positions up until her eighth month of pregnancy. “I was worried about how the interviewers would react,” she said, “but they were all supportive and excited for me. Things are really different now.”

Two Pritzker School of Medicine students are the winners of the fourth annual Pritzker Poetry Contest. The Pritzker Poetry Contest’s mission is to foster compassionate care for patients and enhance the therapeutic caregiver-patient relationship throughout the medical center. This year, nearly 100 entries were submitted. A multidisciplinary team of judges chose the winners from the pool of finalists in each category. Rama Jager, MD, and University Retina sponsor the contest and provide financial support for the awards. To read all of the 2014-15 finalists, please visit uchospitals.edu/pritzker-poetry.

F I R S T P L AC E W I N N E R : S I X- WO R D P O E M E N T R Y

Untitled By Hasenin Al-Khersan, MS2

When I cannot remember, Don’t forget. (An Alzheimer patient’s request to her family) Hasenin Al-Khersan, MS2

— Gretchen Rubin PHOTO BY ROBERT KOZLOFF

F I R S T P L AC E W I N N E R : O P E N P O E M E N T R Y

The Intern’s Prayer By Victoria Okuneye, MS1

My nails are stubs of insecurity Chipped fuchsia, canvases of neglect My skin is rough There are calluses and blisters Anything but smooth I’m afraid these hands weren’t made to soothe MS4 baby boom: Kimberly Clinite with baby Tobin Schlesinger; Melissa Naylor with baby Cecilia Francis; Stephanie Kazantsev with baby Alexei and 3-year-old Noah; Cassandra Fritz, nine months pregnant on Match Day; Elizabeth Rhinesmith with baby James and 4-year-old Kate; and Emily Stockert with baby Juniper. Fritz had a baby boy, Nico, in April.

Victoria Okuneye, MS1

See how my pinky still quivers How the scalpel shakes in these hands like they are scared they’ll break something or worse yet someone These palms have never healed anyone Most days I can’t save myself So though I don’t pray much I’m on my knees, fingers clasped begging the lord for gifted hands

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THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO MEDICINE AND BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES DIVISION


SERVICE

S TAT E O F T H E S C H O O L

A new partnership

A very good year for the Pritzker School of Medicine

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he University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine’s Health Professions Recruitment and Exposure Program (HPREP) celebrated a new partnership with the revitalized Provident Foundation in a reception last fall. A grant from the foundation will allow HPREP to double the number of high school students in this year’s program and provide additional resources and educational materials for the group. Second-year medical student Lola Oladini, 2013-14 HPREP co-coordinator, was a featured speaker at the reception. The Provident Foundation preserves the legacy of Provident Hospital through support for low-income urban youth interested in pursuing health care careers.

PHOTO COURTESY OF THE PROVIDENT FOUNDATION

Emeka Okafor, MS1, left; Lindsay Chun, MS1; James Woodruff, MD, associate dean of students; Lola Oladini, MS2; and Miguel Barajas, MS1, at a reception celebrating a new partnership with the Provident Foundation

Service on spring break

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PHOTO COURTESY OF AAMIR HUSSAIN, MS1

welve Pritzker students volunteered at a Lakota Native American reservation in Rosebud, South Dakota, during the JOURNEES (Journeying Out to Underserved Regions of the Nation to Engage in Effective Service) student organization spring trip. The students shadowed physicians at the local Indian Health Service (IHS) hospital and volunteered with Habitat for Humanity. The Huffington Post published first-year student Aamir Hussain’s thoughtful and uplifting reflection on the trip. Read it at huffingtonpost.com/aamir-hussain/reflections-from-rosebudreservation_b_6963082.html.

Holly J. Humphrey, MD’83, dean for

medical education, highlighted the accomplishments of the University of Chicago Pritkzer School of Medicine community in the State of the School 2015 address in Billings Auditorium. Among the highlights:

Students: 99 percent of Pritzker students participated in a research project with a faculty member, well above the national Holly J. Humphrey, average (69.3 percent). Pritzker students MD’83 gave 98 cumulative presentations in 2014 at national conferences. More than 7,000 applicants applied for fall admission. Residents: More University of Chicago Medicine residents presented at the Student National Medical Association national meeting than residents from any other medical center in the country. Pritzker graduates are now chief residents here and at other top institutions in the nation, including UCSF, Johns Hopkins and Columbia. Diversity: The Visiting Clerkship Diversity Program expanded to include medicine, pediatrics and surgery. Monica B. Vela, MD’93, received the 2014 Herbert W. Nickens Minority Health and Representation in Medicine Award and was chosen as the keynote speaker at the National Medical Fellowships ceremony. Watch the speech: http://youtu.be/vwN5O-QYsrA

M E D I C A L E D U C AT I O N DAY

Faculty members honored The Pritzker School of Medicine named seven new Fellows of

the Academy of Distinguished Medical Educators and a new Master, H. Barrett Fromme, MD, MPH, associate professor of pediatrics. The Academy was founded in 2006 to support and promote research, innovation and scholarship in medical education at the University of Chicago. The 2014 inductees are Lolita Alcocer Alkureishi, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics; Brian Callender, AB’97, AM’98, MD’04, assistant professor of medicine; David Glick, MD’90, MBA’03, professor of anesthesia and critical care; Wei Wei Lee, MD, MPH, assistant professor of medicine; Alisa McQueen, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics; Amber Pincavage, MD’07, assistant professor of medicine; and Ernest Wang, MD, clinical associate professor of emergency medicine, NorthShore University HealthSystem.

Pritzker students during a service trip to South Dakota uchospitals.edu/midway

MEDICINE ON THE MIDWAY

SPRING 2015

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Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society

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eventeen fourth-year Pritzker School of Medicine students named to the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society were honored at the annual AOA banquet this spring. Students are selected based on academic excellence, capacity for leadership, compassion and fairness. The AOA Class of 2015 chose Rita F. Redberg, MD, MS, professor of medicine and director of women’s cardiovascular services at the University of California, San Francisco, as the keynote speaker. Redberg also delivered the Department of Medicine Grand Rounds lecture, “Less Is More: Why Sometimes Less Health Care Results in Better Health.” The class elected the following to the Illinois Beta chapter (University of Chicago): Faculty: Savitri Fedson, MD, MA’90, associate professor, Department of Medicine; and Keme Carter, MD, assistant professor, Department of Medicine. Alumnus: Christopher Straus, AB’88, MD’92, associate professor, Department of Radiology.

PHOTO BY ROBERT KOZLOFF

Pritzker News

F O U R T H -Y E A R S T U D E N T S H O N O R E D

Housestaff: Michael Drazer, MD’12,

Department of Medicine; Alan Schurle, MD’14, Department of Medicine; and Pedro Vivar Cruz, Department of Neurology. Michael Ujiki, MD, a member of the Department of Surgery at NorthShore University Health System, received the Volunteer Clinical Faculty Award, which recognizes a community physician who contributes with distinction to the education and training of clinical students.

Members of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society are, from left, bottom row: Annie Castro, Camil Correia, Vaibhav Upadhyay, PhD’13, Claire Shappell, Jack Peace, Katlynn Adkins; top row: Thomas Couri, Michael Hayes, Jennifer McCoy, Claire Naus, Elizabeth Rhinesmith, Kyle Ericson, Kevin Hodges, Jimin Kim, MS, Lorenzo Rinaldo, PhD’13, Emily Stockert, MBA’10, Kimberly Clinite.

Gold Humanism Honor Society inductees ighteen students from the Pritzker School of Medicine Class of 2015 were inducted into the Gold Humanism Honor Society, which honors senior medical students, residents, role-model physician teachers and other exemplars for “demonstrated excellence in clinical care, leadership, compassion and dedication to service.” Monica B. Vela, MD’93, associate professor of medicine and associate dean for multicultural affairs, was the keynote speaker for the induction ceremony in Bond Chapel. Keme Carter, MD, assistant professor of medicine, and Thomas Couri, MS4, received the Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award for Faculty and Student, respectively. The Leonard Tow Award recognizes those physicians and students who best demonstrate the Gold Foundation’s ideals of outstanding compassion in the

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PHOTO BY DAVID CHRISTOPHER

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delivery of care and respect for patients, their families and healthcare colleagues, as well as demonstrated clinical excellence. Sonia Oyola, MD, clinical instructor in the Department of Family Medicine is the 2014 AAMC Arnold P. Gold Foundation Humanism in Medicine Award nominee.

THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO MEDICINE AND BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES DIVISION

The 2015 Pritzker School of Medicine Gold Humanism Honor Society inductees are, from left, bottom row: Joanna Perdomo, Jimin Kim, MS, Alisha Ranadive, Elizabeth Rhinesmith, Christopher Castaneda, Annie Castro. Middle row: Chad Hochberg, Rebecca Harris, Katlynn Adkins, David Goese, Jack Peace, Patricia Osmolak, Robert Sanchez. Top row: Michael Hayes, Hannah Wenger, Thomas Couri, Richard Schroeder, Claire Naus.


5 June 4-6, 2015 1965 | 1970 | 1975 | 1980 | 1985 | 1990 | 1995 | 2000 | 2005 | 2010

Have you registered for Reunion 2015? Don’t miss your chance to join your classmates in Chicago, June 4-6. This year’s Reunion welcomes back to campus five- to 50-year Reunion classes, as well as Emeriti participants. Register online at http://medbsd.uchicago.edu/alumni/Reunion or call the Medical & Biological Sciences Alumni Association at (888) 303-0030.


Class Notes

Class Notes

1960s Mark Siegler, MD’67, the Lindy Bergman Distinguished Service Professor of Medicine and Surgery, has received the John Conley Foundation Award for Outstanding Contributions to Clinical Ethics Education. The award recognizes Siegler for co-authoring the first modern textbook of clinical ethics and for founding and directing the University of Chicago’s MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics. “We and our colleagues were particularly impressed by the enduring influence of the MacLean Center, which, in the 30 years since its founding, has graduated more than 350 ethics fellows serving in clinics, medical centers and governmental agencies in the U.S. and around the world,” selection committee members said. The award will be presented in May at the 11th annual International Conference on Clinical Ethics and Consultation (ICCEC 2015), hosted by the Bioethics Program of Union Graduate College and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

1970s Michael Silverman, MD’73, is pleased to celebrate the 16th anniversary of his company, BioStrategics Consulting Ltd., which assists early-stage biopharmaceutical companies in new product clinical research and development. Over the past several years, Silverman has been devoting more time to volunteer and nonprofit activities, including service to both the Medical and Biological Sciences Alumni Association Council and the Visiting Committee to the Division of Biological Sciences and the Pritzker School of Medicine. Eugene Chang, MD’76, is a recipient of a 2015 Frank R. Lillie Research Innovation Award, along with collaborator A. Murat Eren, PhD, of the Marine

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NEWS

Alumni, get the latest news and stay connected with your classmates through the Medical & Biological Sciences Alumni Association (MBSAA) website at medbsd.uchicago.edu/alumni.

Biological Laboratory. Chang calls the grant Eren’s “brainchild” and praises his colleague’s leadership through this effort. Together, they will build a high-performance, open-source software platform to study metagenomics, a powerful tool that is used to analyze the genetic material of microbial communities extracted directly from the environment. Chang’s role in this endeavor will include setting up experiments and obtaining the samples for DNA sequencing, and Eren will be developing the computational platforms for performing the data analysis.

1980s Samuel Rabkin, PhD’84, recently was appointed the Thomas A. Pappas Professor of Neurosciences, Department of Neurosurgery, at Harvard Medical School. He has been at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School since 2000. Todd Golub, MD’89, was elected to the Institute of Medicine in October 2014. Considered one of the highest honors in the fields of science and medicine, election to the Institute recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement.

Amy Lehman, AB’96, MBA’05, MD’05, was honored as one of Chicago Magazine’s 2014 Chicagoans of the Year. Six years ago, Lehman founded the nonprofit Lake Tanganyika Floating Health Clinic, engaging in health systems building for the more than 3.5 million Africans who live around the world’s second largest freshwater lake. Her organization has served more than 350,000 people. Carmen Varela, PhD’08, is a recipient of the NARSAD Young Investigator Grant Award for 2015 through 2017. Varela will use state-of-theart techniques to study how different brain regions interact while we sleep in order to preserve memories. More specifically, her work investigates the role of the thalamus in the interactions between the hippocampus and neocortex regions of the brain during sleep. Varela currently conducts research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Josh Williams, MD’13, has been selected as one of three chief residents for the 2016-17 academic year in the University of Colorado Denver’s pediatric residency program. He plans to pursue a career in pediatric infectious diseases and global health.

2014-15 ALUMNI COUNCIL Rene Mora, PhD’88, MD’89, President Robert Doroghazi, MD’77, Immediate Past President Michael H. Silverman, MD’73, Vice President and Chicago Partners Chair Paul R. Rockey, MD’70, National Reunion Chair Dean Rider, MD’78, Regional Programs Chair Chris Albanis, AB’96, MD’00, Editorial Committee Chair Diane Altkorn, MD’82 Amy Derick, MD’02 Mark Ferguson, MD’77 Sanford A. Garfield, PhD’74 Melina Hale, PhD’98 Michael W. Kaufman, MD’72 Joel E. Kleinman, SB’66, MD’73, PhD’74 Charles G. Kulwin, MD’10 Dennis Lee, MD’91 Kenneth L. McClain, PhD’72, MD’73 Ernest E. Mhoon, MD’73 Doriane C. Miller, MD’83 Jacqueline Moline, AB’84, MD’88 Daniel Rosenblum, SB’62, MD’66 Jack Stockert, AB’05, MBA’10, MD’10 William C. 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, SB’56, MD’59, SM’59 Russ Zajtchuk, SB’60, MD’63

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Medicine on the Midway

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Linda DeCherrie, AB’95, MD’99, is a geriatrician at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. DeCherrie also directs the Mount Sinai Visiting Doctor Program, the largest academic House Call Program in the country.

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 alumni@bsd.uchicago.edu.

The new age of biomedicine

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2000s Malcolm Nason, PhD’04, is the director of business development at Kinetic in New York City. Kinetic is a startup that creates wearable devices to prevent back injuries in materialshandling workers, nurses and construction workers.

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Reunion is coming up June 4-6, 2015

Attention alumni emeriti and those from the Classes of 1965, 1970, 1975, 1980, 1985, 1990, 1995, 2000, 2005 and 2010. Reunion is coming up in June 2015. So that you stay up to date, be sure to submit your current contact information at medbsd.uchicago.edu/alumni/get-involved/update-your-info.

THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO MEDICINE AND BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES DIVISION

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In Memoriam John W. Cashman, AB’44, MD’46, died October 18, 2013, in Tacoma, Washington. He was 90. During his 46-year career, Cashman served as deputy medical director of the Peace Corps and assistant surgeon general of the United States, achieving the rank of rear admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service. Among his achievements were helping to create federal regulations for nursing home and mining safety and helping to establish the Medicare program. He is survived by two sons, two grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Mark Gorney, SB’45, MD’47, died November 17, 2014, in Portland, Oregon. He was 89. A U.S. Army veteran, Gorney trained in plastic and

Colin Gordon Thomas Jr., SB’40, MD’43, died September 2, 2014, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He was 96. A U.S. Army veteran, Thomas spent more than 60 years on the faculty of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, serving as chair of its Department of Surgery

and chief of its general surgery division. A renowned surgeon, researcher and teacher, he developed innovative methods for intestinal and endocrine surgeries and authored 165 scholarly articles. Thomas received the Medical & Biological Sciences Alumni Association’s Distinguished Service Award in 1982. He is survived by two daughters, two sons, three granddaughters, a grandson and two great-grandchildren.

1950s James I. Gabby, SB’50, SM’51, MD’53, died of Alzheimer’s disease on June 11, 2014. He was 87. Following medical school, Gabby relocated to San Francisco for training in psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center at Mt. Zion. Gabby’s love of children encouraged his pursuits in child and adolescent psychiatry. In recognition of more than 50 years of private practice, Gabby was appointed founding medical director of the California

Medical Clinic for Psychotherapy, a nonprofit designed to serve people who could not afford traditional mental health services. He enjoyed teaching medical students at UCSF and was recognized as a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. Gabby was preceded in death by his first wife, Olga Demas Gabby, and he is survived by his second wife of 28 years, Dore Selix-Gabby. Gabby leaves three children, including daughter Tina Gabby, MD’85, and four grandchildren from his first marriage, as well as three step-children and six step-grandchildren from his second marriage.

In Memoriam

1940s

reconstructive surgery and went on to a long career in international work and leadership in the field. He served as president of the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons and was a leader and participant in many other specialty groups. For many years, he focused on charity reconstructive work overseas, particularly in Latin America and Vietnam. While still active in surgery, Gorney helped found The Doctors Company, a national insurance firm based in Napa, California, that specializes in medical malpractice insurance. He served as medical director for two decades and was an ardent campaigner for higher standards of care and against what he regarded as irresponsible malpractice suits. Gorney is survived by his wife, Geraldine, five children, four grandchildren and a great-granddaughter.

Leonard Hersher, PhD’55, died July 11, 2014, in Syracuse, New York. He was 89. A World War II veteran, Hersher served in the U.S. Army as a communications officer in France and was awarded a Purple Heart. He spent 37 years on the faculty of the pediatrics department at the State University of New York’s Upstate Medical University. Survivors include his wife, Hilda, a daughter, two sons, nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Faculty

Harry A. Fozzard, MD

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arry A. Fozzard, MD, a pioneer in internship at Yale University, he comthe study of cardiac muscle activpleted two years of active duty in the ity, died on December 9, 2014. He U.S. Marine Corps. In 1966, he came to was 83. Fozzard, the Otho S.A. Sprague the University of Chicago as an associDistinguished Service Professor Emeritus ate professor of medicine and director in the Department of Medicine at the of the myocardial infarction research University of Chicago, helped lay the unit. He was promoted to professor foundation for modern clinical electroin 1971 and named co-section chief physiology by mapping out the structure of cardiology. During this period, he and function of the voltage-gated ion directed the biomedical computer facilchannels in heart muscle. These memity, the cystic fibrosis research center brane proteins mediate fast communicaand the Committee on Cell Physiology. tion in heart muscle. They generate the From 1990 to 1998, he chaired the rhythm, coordinating and controlling Department of Pharmacological and cardiac contraction. Abnormalities in Physiological Sciences. In 1998, he took this system are responsible for several emeritus status. Fozzard’s contributions cardiac arrhythmia diseases and sudden to the field of electrophysiology brought PHOTO BY RANDY TUNNELL cardiac death. Fozzard was part of a dismany accolades. He was editor-in-chief tinguished team recruited to the University in the late 1960s of Circulation Research and on the board of directors for the to work closely with clinicians to learn more about cardiac American Heart Association, which gave him the Award diseases and to use that knowledge to develop more effecof Merit in 1983 and the Distinguished Scientist Award tive therapies. He was the author or co-author of nearly in 2005. Fozzard was chair of several NIH study sections, 250 original papers, reviews, editorials and book chapters, a Fulbright Scholar at the University of the Republic in and he earned continuous funding from the National Uruguay and a Litchfield Professor at Oxford University. He Institutes of Health (NIH) for his research for more than four was a valued teacher to countless college, graduate and decades. In 1966, he helped secure the University’s first medical students. And he was a cherished colleague to cardiovascular sciences training grant from the NIH, one whom heart specialists and others turned for both clinical of the oldest and most successful grants in the country. It and scientific advice. Fozzard is survived by his wife, Lyn, remains active today under the direction of the cardioltwo sons and four grandchildren. Donations in Fozzard’s ogy section chief at the University. Harry Allen Fozzard was honor may be made to the Lane Fund at the Western North born April 22, 1931, in Jacksonville, Florida. After graduaCarolina Community Foundation, 4 Vanderbilt Park Drive, tion from Washington University School of Medicine and an Suite 300, Asheville, NC 28803. uchospitals.edu/midway

“When I first arrived as a postdoctoral student in his lab in the early 1980s, he was just about the only person around doing ionchannel electrophysiology. He trained with one of the founders of the field and then served as mentor to more than 60 PhD and MD/PhD candidates, postdoctoral fellows and scientists on sabbatical.” Dorothy Hanck, PhD Professor of Medicine

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In Memoriam

Edward Alan Wolpert, AB’50, AM’54, PhD’59, MD’60, died November 2, 2014, in Scottsdale, Arizona. He was 84. A psychiatrist and the former director of clinical services at the Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center, Wolpert had also been a clinical associate professor at the University of Chicago. He is considered a pioneer in the use of lithium to treat manic depression and was a past president of the Illinois Psychiatric Society in Chicago. Survivors include three sons and four grandchildren.

1960s W. Robert Gronewald, MD’64, died December 29, 2014. He was 75. Following medical school and training, Gronewald served as a physician in the U.S. Air Force from 1965 to 1968 with an assignment to the Panama Canal Zone. He also was active in Medical Civic Action, which set up clinics in areas often accessible only by helicopter. In 1971, he relocated to Morristown, Tennessee, where he

practiced internal medicine with a concentration in diabetes and geriatrics until his retirement in 2006. Gronewald harvested the first kidney in east Tennessee for a transplant and was appointed to the board of the Knoxville chapter of the American Kidney Foundation. Gronewald served as chief of medicine and chief of medical staff of both Morristown hospitals. He counted many co-workers and patients as friends and was proud to be greeted by three generations of former patients when out and about. He liked to say that “the gravy in life is helping people.” Nicholas Vick, MD’65, died October 2, 2014, in Evanston, Illinois. He was 74. Vick was well known for his research on brain tumors and treatment options. He was the former chair of the neurology department at NorthShore Evanston Hospital, where he founded a regional clinical neuro-oncology program in the 1970s. He also taught medical students at the University of Chicago and at Northwestern University. At Northwestern, he spent 31 years on the faculty and received the school’s outstanding teacher award nine times.

He is survived by his wife, Lois, three sons, including Stephen Vick, AM’99, a sister; four granddaughters and a grandson.

1970s Jerrold F. Schwaber, AB’69, PhD’74, died June 6, 2014, in Haddonfield, Pennsylvania, of complications following surgery. He was 67. Schwaber was an immunologist and cell biologist whose work as a graduate student at UChicago helped pioneer the creation of monoclonal antibodies, now used in a variety of cancer drugs. Schwaber continued this line of research as a professor at Harvard Medical School, Boston Children’s Hospital, Hahnemann University Hospital and Thomas Jefferson University. He is survived by his wife, Susan Hoch, AB’70, MD’74; two sons; and four grandchildren. Reed A. Wendel, MD’75, died May 20, 2011, in Port Angeles, Washington, of Alzheimer’s disease. He was 61. Wendel served in leadership

roles within the medical community. He was chief of staff of Olympic Medical Center (OMC) for three separate terms, and he was on OMC’s executive council throughout most of his career. After being elected a fellow of the American College of Surgeons in 1983, he represented Washington State as a young leader in surgical practice. In the 1990s, he was a councilor for the state chapter and member of the Washington district committee that selected applicants to the American College of Surgeons. Wendel was instrumental in improving medical care on the Olympic Peninsula. Despite his diagnosis with Alzheimer’s, he still had a drive for living life. Wendel is survived by his wife, Annette; their two sons, Arthur and Reed; and five grandchildren, who were the light of his life. Arthur is an MD/MPH who works at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia, and Reed works as a forester in Port Angeles.

Faculty

Willard G. Manning Jr., PhD

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illard G. Manning Jr., PhD, a leading researcher in health economics, died on November 25, 2014. He was 68. Manning taught at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy and in the Department of Public Health Sciences before his retirement in 2011. With a focus on health economics, Manning is known for his studies that tested how the structure of insurance and costs affected demand for medical care and health. He developed a robust model to estimate optimal health insurance coverage by considering the tradeoff between the costs from moral hazard and the gains from risk pooling in health insurance. In addition, his work involved rigorous examinations of statistical issues in modeling health and economic data, and the investigation of economic consequences of poor health habits, smoking, heavy drinking and lack of exercise. He was widely known for his work on the RAND Health Insurance Experiment, a randomized trial of alternative insurance plans conducted from 1974 to1982. His work is noted as the gold standard against which research in health economics and health services are still measured today. Manning published more than 150 articles and chapters in his career and co-authored five books, including “The Costs of

Poor Health Habits” (1991, Harvard University Press). He received numerous awards for his papers on health economics, including the Victor Fuchs Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Society of Health Economists in 2010, the Distinguished Investigator Award at the annual meeting of Academy Health in 2009 and the Kenneth Arrow Prize for the Best Health Economics Article in 2003. A member of the Institute of Medicine, Manning served on different committees addressing the lack of insurance and health care at the end of life. He was also on a National Academy of Sciences panel that examined adding measures of medical risk to new poverty measures. Manning’s devotion to his students was legendary, as he would spend endless hours helping students solve their most difficult problems, setting a standard for mentorship that inspired his peers. As a father, Manning taught his children and grandchildren to embrace the joy of learning and encouraged many endeavors that they pursued in life. Manning is survived by his wife, Erika, two daughters and two grandchildren. Donations in memory of “Willard Manning” may be made to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, jdrf.org. Click “Donate to JDRF,” then select “Memorial Donation.” For the next-of-kin section, please use: Heather Manning Carlson, 822 Highview Avenue, Glen Ellyn, IL 60137. PHOTO BY JASON SMITH

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THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO MEDICINE AND BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES DIVISION

“Will’s scholarship made timeless contributions to our knowledge about how to analyze data on health spending and has allowed us to better understand critical health policy issues. The methods he developed are essential tools for all health economists today.” David Meltzer, PhD’92, MD’93 Professor of Medicine


Faculty

Donald F. Steiner, MD’56, SM’56, 1930-2014 “He was an extraordinary mentor for so many people. He was a model of how science should be done and how a friend should behave.” Louis Philipson, PhD’82, MD’86 Professor of Medicine and Director, Kovler Diabetes Center

Donald F. Steiner, MD’56, SM’56, revolutionized thinking about how the body produces insulin. His discoveries helped improve the quality of life for millions of people and put the University of Chicago at the forefront of diabetes research.

uchospitals.edu/midway

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onald F. Steiner, MD, a pioneer whose research improved lives for millions of diabetic patients worldwide, died at home in Chicago on November 11, 2014. He was 84 and a member of the University of Chicago faculty for more than 50 years. Steiner, MD’56, SM’56, the A.N. Pritzker Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in the Departments of Medicine and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, revolutionized thinking about how the body produces insulin. In 1967, he showed that insulin, thought to be made from two separate protein chains, began instead as a longer single chain, which he named proinsulin. Steiner showed that a small interior part of that single long chain was sliced out, leaving behind the two connected A and B chains that together compose the insulin molecule. This fundamental discovery paved the way to understanding how other hormones, as well as neuropeptides in the brain and endocrine system, are made and processed. It established the field of protein-precursor processing. It also enabled the pharmaceutical industry to improve the purity of insulin preparations, leading to insulins that were less likely to provoke an immune response, and paved the way for biosynthetic human insulin production. “This was a remarkable piece of work, a truly creative and ultimately beautiful set of experiments,” said diabetes specialist Arthur Rubenstein, MBBCh, who did postdoctoral training with Steiner and later served as chair of medicine at the University of Chicago. “No one else at that time was thinking through such problems in the same way.” Steiner and Rubenstein found that the small part of proinsulin that was sliced away from the middle of the molecule, which they named “C-peptide,” provided a useful independent indicator of insulin secretion that is in clinical use to this day. Circulating proinsulin is also useful for the diagnosis of insulin-secreting tumors of the pancreas. Working with RNA from the insulin gene, Steiner later discovered an even larger precursor of proinsulin, which he termed preproinsulin. The discoveries of C-peptide and proinsulin transformed the manufacturing process of highly purified insulin, helping millions of people taking insulin to avoid complications from impurities and dramatically improving their quality of life. In 1987, working with Rubenstein and the late Howard S. Tager, PhD, Steiner described the first mutations in the insulin gene, now known as insulin Chicago. Such mutations — there are now more than 30 — are associated with neonatal diabetes as well as other syndromes that combine mild diabetes and elevated circulating insulin or proinsulin. Collaborating with colleagues in Japan, Steiner subsequently found the first mutation of the insulin receptor. He also contributed to important work on understanding how insulin binds to its receptor.

“In addition to his seminal contributions to science, Don Steiner had a profound impact at the University, particularly on the diabetes program,” said diabetes specialist Kenneth S. Polonsky, MD, Dean of the Biological Sciences Division and the Pritzker School of Medicine and executive vice president for Medical Affairs for the University of Chicago. “The broad implications of his discoveries of the pathways of insulin biosynthesis and secretion placed the University of Chicago at the forefront of diabetes research.” Donald Frederick Steiner was born in Lima, Ohio, on July 15, 1930. Colleagues said his small-town roots shaped his personality. “He grew up in a family with a strong belief in honesty, generosity and hard work,” said Rubenstein. “He respected everyone and never demonstrated an ulterior motive. That, and his scientific brilliance, made him the perfect mentor.” Steiner earned his BS in chemistry and zoology from the University of Cincinnati in 1952, followed by a master’s degree in biochemistry and MD from the University of Chicago. After completing his residency and fellowship at the University of Washington, he returned to the University of Chicago as an assistant professor of biochemistry in 1960. He rose quickly through the ranks, becoming professor in 1968 and department chair in 1973. Steiner served as director of the University of Chicago Diabetes-Endocrinology Center (1974-78), as well as associate director (1977-81), director (2000-04) and co-director (2004-14) of the University of Chicago Diabetes Research and Training Center. From 1985 to 2006 he was a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Senior Investigator. Steiner published more than 400 peer-reviewed papers, and other researchers have cited his work more than 10,000 times. He won dozens of prestigious national and international honors and awards. These include the Lilly Award and the Banting Medal for Scientific Achievement from the American Diabetes Association, the Joslin Medal from the New England Diabetes Association, Israel’s Wolf Prize, and, from Japan, the Manpei Suzuki International Prize for Diabetes Research — the largest financial award for diabetes research. He was an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. In 2014, he was awarded the University of Chicago Alumni Medal. A talented pianist, Steiner was an avid patron of the arts. He also enjoyed sailing on Lake Michigan and gardening at his lakeside Michigan cottage. Steiner was “an extraordinarily kind, gentle and attentive person,” Polonsky said. “He always had time for his staff and colleagues, would answer questions at length and in depth, and was absolutely devoted to this University. We miss him profoundly.” Steiner is survived by Ellen Steiner, the wife of his late brother, Phares; his niece, Adrienne Steiner; his nephew, Paul Steiner; several cousins; and many, many friends. A memorial service was held May 1, 2015, at Rockefeller Memorial Chapel.

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