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July 11, 2008
Proceedings of the HMS Faculty Council
HMS dean Jeffrey Flier began the April 9 Faculty Council meeting by introducing Michael Brenner, the Theodore Bevier Bayles professor of medicine at HMS and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, from the Committee for Immunology. Brenner gave a presentation titled, “The Immunology Program,” which focused on the history and current structure of the committee, challenges the committee is facing, and missed opportunities. He also discussed the importance of immunology in medicine and made recommendations for various aspects of the committee’s organizational model. Brenner stressed the desire of the committee to remain a broad organization, but said there is a definite need for a system to address faculty recruitment, funding, and centralization of resources for optimal utilization.
The council discussed the reasons for such a small proportion of junior faculty in the area of immunology and the impact of the Modell Center, which is providing a physical home for immunology classes and offices. Flier commented that a lot can still be done without moving all immunology faculty out of the hospitals. He also noted that creating a new department is a most difficult thing to do and called attention to the white paper on immunology that can be found on the HMS website through the strategic planning link.
The second speaker was Daniel Ennis, executive dean for administration, who gave a presentation on HMS finances. Ennis commented that both he and Flier are committed to transparency in HMS finances and spoke about budget allocation, the endowment, and revenues and deficits. There was also discussion around the impact of strategic planning, HUSEC, and Allston.
To begin the May 14 Faculty Council meeting, HMS dean Jeffrey Flier updated the council on an e-mail that voiced concerns about the HMS Novartis Symposium on Vaccine Science and requested that the issue of conflict of interest be brought to the faculty council for discussion. He stated that the symposium was originated by prominent HMS faculty working in the vaccine science area who were also involved in the strategic planning process and who were aware that Novartis is building a vaccine science institute in the Boston area. Sponsorship consisted of sharing the cost of the symposium, which was advertised widely and was open to the community. There were no quid pro quos of any kind. Flier opened the matter for discussion and Patricia Donahoe, the Marshall K. Bartlett professor of surgery at HMS and Massachusetts General Hospital, suggested devoting a Faculty Council meeting to conflict of interest.
After a brief update on strategic planning, Flier introduced David Altshuler, HMS professor of genetics at MGH, to speak on human genetics at HMS. Altshuler gave a historical perspective, describing the formation of a subcommittee in 2007 to put together an initial report on the field. He outlined the options Flier gave the subcommittee to consider, which were to invest in existing structural units, create a new institute of human genetics, create a new Quad-based department of human genetics, or create either a University-wide committee or department modeled after the Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology.
The subcommittee generated a report in February 2008—which has been shown to the pre-clinical chairs, Visiting Committee, Board of Fellows, and Strategic Planning Steering Committee—and put together a proposal that targeted problems such as the challenges in recruiting the best people due to the distributed nature of the human genetics field at Harvard and affiliated teaching hospitals; the lack of educational opportunities for students and faculty; and the perception among geneticists that they are not part of a Harvard-wide genetics community, which leads to competition rather than collaboration.
Altshuler concluded his presentation with the subcommittee’s recommendation for a University-wide committee or program that would preserve the multifocal, distributed nature of the human genetics field; take a coordinated approach to recruitment, with more participation from human geneticists; create new courses and more clinical training in the hospitals; and initiate projects and infrastructure promoting community-generated ideas, alignment of structure, and flagship projects.
Flier next introduced Roberto Kolter, HMS professor of microbiology and molecular genetics, who briefly described the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics and the Microbial Sciences Initiative, which he suggested could be used as a model for human genetics. The Microbial Sciences Initiative was a grassroots movement, started in 2002, that drafted an informal white paper and received a small amount of funding from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. In 2006 it was approved as an inter-faculty initiative. Currently seeking to become the first Harvard University Science and Engineering Committee-approved interdepartmental committee, it consists of 60 faculty members from FAS, HMS, HSPH, and HSDM who engage in chalk talks, seminars, symposia, and a journal club and who train postdocs and undergraduates.
An undergraduate secondary concentration is in the process of being approved.
Kolter next presented a proposal on two questions: Can we utilize microbial diversity as a source of future therapeuticAs? and Can microbial ecology help to develop future therapies? He said that pharma is pulling out because they feel that the well is dry, but that by all genomic indications scientists have made only a fraction of potential discoveries. The proposal recommends a Microbial Chemical Ecology Consortium, possibly to be expanded into Allston.
Mentors Honored in Award Ceremony
Students and faculty gathered to celebrate the HMS mentoring program at the 12th annual Excellence in Mentoring Awards on May 20, where awards were presented to 17 faculty members for their dedication as mentors. Both the recipients and the nominators who introduced them spoke of how professionally and personally enriching mentoring can be. Elazer Edelman, winner of the Clifford Barger award, said that it was Barger who taught him, “Schools can only be great if they honor teachers, and teachers can only be great if they honor students.”
The complete list of winners is below.
Young Mentor Award
S. Bryn Austin, assistant professor of pediatrics at Children’s Hospital Boston
Diane Bielenberg, assistant professor of surgery at CHB
Barbara Dworetzky, assistant professor of neurology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Karin Hoffmeister, assistant professor of medicine at BWH
Mark Johnson, assistant professor of surgery at BWH
Ellen McCarthy, assistant professor of medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Baldev Vasir, instructor in medicine at Dana–Farber Cancer Institute
A. Clifford Barger Excellence
in Mentoring Award
Harold Bursztajn, associate clinical professor of psychiatry at BID
Elazer Edelman, professor of medicine at BWH
Kenneth Freedberg, associate professor of medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital
Kenneth Mandl, associate professor of pediatrics at CHB
Richard Pels, assistant professor of medicine at Cambridge Health Alliance
Maria Troiulis, associate professor of oral and maxillofacial surgery
William Silen Lifetime Achievement in Mentoring Award
Daniel Singer, professor of medicine at MGH
Frank Speizer, Edward H. Kass professor of medicine at BWH
Jerry Trier, professor emeritus of medicine at BWH
Ormandy Professorship Strengthens Orthopedics
Celebrated in May, the Catharina Ormandy Orthopedic Professorship will advance orthopedic research at HMS and Children’s Hospital Boston as it honors the memory of Catharina and Laszlo Ormandy, who funded the chair, and first incumbent Matthew Warman. In his opening remarks, HMS dean Jeffrey Flier recounted Laszlo Ormandy’s emigration to the United States from Hungary and his service at both Massachusetts General Hospital and Children’s. “Laszlo and Catharina’s ties to Harvard Medical School and Children’s Hospital Boston will forever remain with the creation of this chair and the important work to be carried on by Dr. Warman and future incumbents,” Flier said. After talks by Warman and James Kasser, chair of the Children’s Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Flier presented a Revere bowl to Roberta Klein and Dolores Neumann, nieces of the Ormandys, in recognition of their family’s gift.
Lab for Hearing Research Celebrates 50th
Nearly 200 participants gathered in June for the Eaton–Peabody Laboratory’s 50th anniversary celebration, which included an opening reception at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, a symposium at MIT, and a banquet at the Kendall Square Marriott Hotel. The reception featured remarks by Charles Liberman, director of the EPL; Joseph Nadol, chair of the Department of Otology and Laryngology and the Walter Augustus Lecompte professor of otology and laryngology at HMS and MEEI; and John Fernandez, MEEI president and CEO.
The daylong symposium summarized research on hearing, from the inner ear to the cortex, and featured experts in the field from MEEI and around the world. Posters by former and present lab members were displayed in the hallway. The banquet ended with a series of historical presentations by former lab members.
Founded in 1956, the Eaton–Peabody Laboratory is a consortium of the MEEI, HMS, the Research Laboratory of Electronics at MIT, and Massachusetts General Hospital. Research interests span the auditory system from peripheral to central, animal model to human patient, from normal to abnormal function, neurophysiology to behavior, and the molecular and genetic bases of deafness to its treatment via hearing aids and cochlear implants.
Honors and Advances
The winner of the 2008 Dolores J. Brown Award is Robert Heroux, executive assistant for Programs in Medical Education at the Academy Center for Teaching and Learning. The Dolores J. Brown Staff Award recognizes a staff member who has a record of outstanding service with HMS, demonstrated respect for the HMS mission, and who helps create a good work environment.
Marie McCormick, the Sumner and Esther Feldberg professor of maternal and child health in the Department of Society, Human Development, and Health at HSPH has received the Bowditch Award for Excellence in Public Health from the Massachusetts Medical Society. The award honors a physician who demonstrates creativity, innovation, and leadership in public health. McCormick uses epidemiologic and health services research to study infant mortality and the outcomes of high-risk neonates.
Elsbeth Kalenderian has been appointed assistant dean of clinical affairs for the Harvard Dental Center, and joins the HSDM faculty as an instructor in oral health policy and epidemiology. As assistant dean, she is responsible for the overall management of the dental practice and facilitates bridging basic and translational research with clinical research in patient care delivery. A Fulbright scholar and oral surgeon by training, Kalenderian has more than 20 years of experience in health care, human services, and public health, including senior roles at Children’s Hospital Boston, Partners HealthCare System, and the American Heart Association (AHA). Before coming to HSDM, Kalenderian was senior vice president for health strategies for the AHA’s Heritage affiliate in New York City.
The March of Dimes has awarded the Prize in Developmental Biology to Clifford Tabin, the George Jacob and Jacqueline Hazel Leder professor of genetics at HMS for his research leading to the understanding of how hedgehog genes guide anatomical organization. He shares the $250,000 prize with Philip Beachy of Stanford University, who also researches hedgehog genes.
Dennis Keefe, chief executive officer of Cambridge Health Alliance, has been honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the health care advocacy group Health Care For All. Keefe was recognized for his efforts to improve access to medical care and accepted the award at Health Care For All’s 23rd annual “Celebration of Health Care Leaders,” held at the Westin Copley Place in Boston.
Steven Locke, HMS associate professor of psychiatry at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, was awarded the Ronnie Stangler Award for Innovation by the American Association of Technology in Psychiatry (AATP), an affiliate of the American Psychiatric Association, at their annual meeting in Washington D.C. in May. He was honored for his role in organizing the annual Summit on Behavioral Telehealth, which was held at the NRB June 2 and 3.
Eleanor Counselman, HMS assistant professor of psychology in the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital, was honored by the American Group Psychotherapy Association at its annual meeting in February 2008. She received an award for her outstanding contributions in the field of group psychotherapy on the local and national levels. She is president-elect of the Northeastern Society for Group Psychotherapy.
Dennis Selkoe, the Vincent and Stella Coates professor of neurological diseases in the Department of Neurology at HMS and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, will receive the 2008 Lifetime Achievement Award at the International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease later this month. He is being honored for his use of molecular approaches to study Alzheimer’s. Selkoe and colleagues developed a method to isolate the disease’s characteristic neurofibrillary tangles and, along with other labs, identified the protein tau as the principle component of these structures.