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Around & About


Dr. Gerald Fischbach, executive vice president and dean, and Dr. Sylviu Itescu, assistant professor of clinical medicine (in surgery) and director of transplantation immunology, testified March 12 at a Senate hearing on cloning and efforts to ban certain types of medical research. The hearing was held by the Senate’s Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies. Also testifying at the hearing were actor Kevin Kline, Congressman Bart Stupak, D-Mich., and former Sen. Connie Mack, R-Fla.

Next month, the Senate is likely to consider legislation authored by Sens. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., and Mary Landrieu, D-La., that would ban somatic cell nuclear transfer. The legislation would stop both human reproductive and therapeutic cloning. Dr. Fischbach, Mr. Kline, and Sen. Mack testified against the Brownback/Landrieu legislation, while Congressman Stupak spoke in favor of it. Dr. Itescu gave a summary of some of the work he is doing with adult stem cells.

Dr. Fischbach, testifying on behalf of the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research, made it clear that he supports a ban on human reproductive cloning but opposes banning somatic cell nuclear transfer for therapeutic purposes. The legislation, he said, “would deny Americans access to treatments for some of the most debilitating diseases known to medicine” and would have a chilling effect on future researchers.

Dr. Fischbach also noted the provision in the bill that bars doctors and patients from using treatments developed overseas involving somatic cell nuclear transfer. “If a cure or treatment for Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s disease were developed in another country using nuclear transplantation, Americans could be alone in being unable to take advantage of that treatment,” he said.

Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., ranking member of the subcommittee, said he and several other senators have offered legislation that bans reproductive cloning but allows somatic nuclear cell transfer for therapeutic purposes. He suggested that Dr. Fischbach and Mr. Kline encourage their friends and colleagues to ask their senators to oppose the Brownback/Landrieu legislation. The testimony by Dr. Fischbach and Dr. Itescu is available at (click on the Appropriations Committee home page and follow links under “Latest News”). Contact information about senators is available at

Columbia Health Sciences has launched a process to revitalize the Health Sciences web site. Under the guidance of Javier Broch, newly appointed web site director, the site will be rebuilt from the ground up.

“I have been meeting with representatives from various departments to get a feel for what people in the Health Sciences community look for in the web site,” Mr. Broch says. “More importantly, we’ll also focus this attention outside, using various methods to determine what is important for such external site users as potential students, potential donors, patients, healthcare professionals, and researchers from other institutions.”

Mr. Broch reports to Kevin Kirby, vice president for administration and senior associate dean for administration; Glenn Peterson, assistant vice president of communications, is also helping in this effort. They will work with an outside consultant to coordinate the process, which will result in a new home page for Columbia Health Sciences and policies to standardize web content and eliminate outdated information.

“We need a usability review to examine issues with the current web site, provide short-term and long-term solutions to the usability problems of the site, and help plan the development of a Health Sciences web standard,” Mr. Peterson says.

No new department is being created for this effort, and the many individuals and offices that contribute to the site will continue to do so. Mr. Broch and Mr. Kirby will be aided by a committee, to be appointed by Dr. Gerald Fischbach, executive vice president and dean. The committee will represent a broad cross-section of the Health Sciences community.

The Web Committee will recommend and approve web site standards and policies, make suggestions to improve site functionality, foster site collaboration and compliance, and solicit feedback from users to review usability.

“The new website will be based on users’ needs. We are going to use an ergonomic design that is highly user-friendly and supports the most important tasks,” Mr. Broch says. “In building the new user interface structure, we will consider input from all the key stakeholders. A good navigational structure is pivotal to a web site’s overall usability.”

In Vivo will continue to provide information about the web site project as the process continues.

The deadline for submitting any University Spending Account (USA) or Transit/Parking Reimbursement Program (T/PRP) claims for medical, day care, or transportation expenses incurred in 2001 is Monday, March 31. Money left in 2001 USA accounts will be forfeited and money left in T/PRP accounts will be refunded in May as post-tax income.

Do you have a favorite recipe you’d like to share? Submissions are still being accepted for a new cookbook to be produced by Columbia Health Sciences. “Headstart on Cooking” will benefit the Columbia University Headstart program.

The cookbook will include approximately 75 recipes, featuring all types of foods, including entrées, appetizers, salads, and desserts. The recipes should be simple, fun, and, if possible, nutritious. Traditional and ethnic favorites are encouraged. The book will debut at a food tasting reception.

The Columbia University Headstart program is sponsored by the Mailman School of Public Health and the P&S Department of Pediatrics. It serves pregnant women and children from birth to age 5 in Washington Heights. Funding currently provides assistance for 158 women and children. Among the services provided are home-based lessons for parents and children, weekly classroom groups for children, and employment skills training for parents. A childcare center for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers is under development at 154 Haven Avenue; additional sites are planned for infants and toddlers.

For more information about the cookbook fund-raiser, contact Tina Hansen, administrative director of the Office of the Executive Vice President and Dean, at 305-8038 (ext. 5-8038), or Ivy Fairchild, associate vice president for government and community affairs, at 305-6359 (ext. 5-6359). Submit your recipes by e-mail at or by internal mail to the Department of Government & Community Affairs, P&S Box 62.

Dr. Gerald Fischbach, executive vice president and dean, was the scientific honoree at the National Neurofibromatosis Foundation’s Harvest Dinner on Wall Street in February. The NNFF is a non-profit foundation dedicated to improving the health and well being of individuals and families affected by neurofibromatoses.

Dr. Marianne Legato, professor of clinical medicine, was presented with the Women in Science Award from the American Medical Women’s Association during AMWA’s annual meeting in February. The award, begun in 1993 and sponsored by Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories, is presented to a woman physician who has made exceptional contributions to medical science, especially in women’s health, through research, publications, and leadership in her field.

Dr. Vincent A. DeLeo, associate professor of clinical dermatology, has been elected to a four-year term as a member of the board of directors of the American Academy of Dermatology.
Dr. Donald O. Quest, professor of neurological surgery and department vice chairman, has been elected president of the American Academy of Neurological Surgery. The academy is an organization of leaders in academic neurosurgery throughout the country. Dr. Quest’s one-year term will culminate in the academy’s annual meeting in October.
Stavros Lomvardas, a Ph.D. candidate in biochemistry and molecular biophysics, is one of 17 winners of the 2002 Harold M. Weintraub Award sponsored by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. The award is given to advanced students at or near the completion of their studies in biological sciences based on the quality, originality, and significance of their work. Mr. Lomvardas was recognized for his research of the mechanisms of transcriptional activation and repression.

Good Food, Good Wines

Curious onlookers who filled the Faculty Club March 13 were treated to a cooking demonstration and brief tutorial about wine. Dr. David Bickers, the Carl Truman Nelson Professor and Chairman of Dermatology, left, spoke briefly about wines native to the French province of Alsace and the two wines he chose for the food being demonstrated. The appetizer, a grilled vegetable tart, was prepared by Faculty Club Chef Joaquin Macias, center. Tina Hansen, administrative director of the Office of the Executive Vice President and Dean, demonstrated the evening’s entrée, a vegetable risotto. Roberto Jerez of the Faculty Club was master of ceremonies.

The Security Department held a computer security fair March 14 in the lobby of the Black Building. Members of CU security provided information on the latest techniques for keeping computers and other personal belongings safe in an office or laboratory environment. Also available was free property engraving, where a personalized number, registered with the NYPD and CU security, is etched into a laptop or PDA, making items easily traceable in the event of theft.

The main lounge of Bard Hall was transformed into a runway Feb. 26 for the second annual “Sexy in Scrubs” charity fashion show. Medical students modeled outfits made entirely of scrubs, white coats, and medical supplies and designed by Jeff Nicholls, a fourth-year P&S student. Money raised at the event—donations made in lieu of admission plus proceeds from sales of the evening’s fashions—will benefit Operation Smile, a non-profit organization that provides reconstructive surgery and related healthcare in developing countries and the United States.