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March 8, 2001


Thomas E. Starzl, professor of surgery at the School of Medicine, was awarded the King Faisal International Prize for Medicine at a formal ceremony last month in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, under the auspices of the King of Saudi Arabia.

According to the King Faisal Foundation, the prize is in recognition of Starzl's outstanding contributions in the field of organ transplantation.

He shares the award with two other transplant pioneers, Norman E. Shumway, a heart transplant surgeon from Stanford, and Sir Roy Calne, a liver transplant surgeon from the University of Cambridge. Each will receive a commemorative 24-carat, 200-gram gold medal. The award's cash endowment of $200,000 will be divided among the three winners.

"Professor Starzl's pioneering work has influenced all aspects of organ transplantation," said officials from the Faisal Foundation. Starzl performed the world's first liver transplant in 1963 at the University of Colorado.

Since coming to Pittsburgh in 1981, Starzl pioneered the immunosuppressive agent tacroli-mus, resulting in significant improvements in organ transplant survival rates and allowing successful transplantation of the small intestine and multivisceral grafts. More recently, he has made important discoveries about transplant tolerance, which have changed the face and conventional paradigms of transplant immunology.


Andrew Hopkins, of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, has been awarded one of 12 Hubble Fellowships for 2001, funded by NASA and administered by the Space Telescope Science Institute.

Hopkins will conduct his fellowship at Pitt, working with Andrew Connolly on the evolution of star-forming galaxies.

Hopkins is the third Pitt astrophysicist to be awarded this prestigious honor.

Initiated in 1990, the Hubble Postdoctoral Fellowship Program has gained a high level of prestige in the international astronomical community. The program awards fellowships to recent Ph.D. recipients in astronomy, physics and related disciplines. Hubble Fellows take appointments at participating host institutions throughout the U.S. for research related to the mission of the Hubble Space Telescope.

Hopkins is researching the connection between star formation rate and the ages and shapes of galaxies. He will analyze Hubble Space Telescope observations of star-forming galaxies at early times in the development of the universe, and will tie that information in with subsequent galaxy evolution, spanning the latter two-thirds of the age of the universe, through surveys with ground-based telescopes.

The Johnstown campus is now the home of South Asian Review, the annual refereed journal of South Asian Literary Association, an allied organization of the Modern Language Association.


Kamal D. Verma, professor of English at UPJ, is the new editor of the journal. South Asian Review publishes scholarly articles on any aspect or historical period of South Asian literature (ancient, precolonial, colonial or postcolonial).

The journal is open to all ideas, perspectives, positions and critical and theoretical approaches. Recognizing the cultural and linguistic diversity of the subcontinent, South Asian Review welcomes essays in intercultural, comparative and interdisciplinary studies in the humanities. The journal also welcomes scholarly articles in the areas of art, music, architecture and sculpture.


Richard D. Wood, an internationally renowned scientist whose research focuses on DNA repair, has been appointed the Richard M. Cyert Chair in Molecular Oncology and director of the molecular and cellular oncology program at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI).

The Cyert chair was established in 1997 and funded by a $1.5 million grant, half from the Vira I. Heinz Endowment and half from the H.J. Heinz Company Foundation.

The chair is named after Richard M. Cyert, former president of Carnegie Mellon University, a member of the UPCI Council's technology transfer committee and a former UPCI patient. Cyert, who died in 1998, was recognized for his research in economics and was an economic consultant for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and several European countries.

Wood's work focuses on how cells repair their DNA. His work has shown the similarities among and differences between DNA repair systems of vastly diverse organisms, including viruses and human cells. DNA repair allows cells to withstand damage leading to uncontrolled cell growth (cancer) or eventual cell death. DNA repair also enables cells to pass functional copies of genes from generation to generation.

Much of Wood's work has focused on xeroderma pig-mentosum, a hereditary disorder in which cells cannot repair sunlight-induced DNA damage, leading to the formation of spontaneous skin cancers. By studying this disorder, Wood and his colleagues elucidated the complex cascade of molecular events needed for human nucleotide excision repair.

These findings have broad potential for clinical use. Identifying individuals with faulty DNA repair genes could allow doctors to more closely manage patient care and detect early cancers or precancerous conditions. Conversely, by understanding how DNA repair works at the molecular level, cancer researchers may be able to develop ways to subvert the ability of some cancer cells to repair DNA damage after exposure to chemotherapeutic agents, thus making a given therapy more likely to kill a cancer completely.

Wood, who joins the UPCI faculty today, March 8, also will hold appointments as professor in the School of Medicine's pharmacology department and in the Department of Biological Sciences. Wood comes to Pittsburgh from the Imperial Cancer Research Fund in the United Kingdom, where he was a principal scientist and an honorary professor in the department of biochemistry and molecular biology at University College in London.

He received his doctorate in biophysics from the University of California at Berkeley and his bachelor's degree from West-minster College in Salt Lake City. He is a fellow of the Royal Society, the U.K. equivalent of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the world's oldest scientific academy in continuous existence. He was elected a member of the European Molecular Biology Organization and was chosen to receive the Meyenburg Award, an annual prize awarded by the German Cancer Research Institute.


Magee-Womens Hospital has named Anthony N. Wakim medical director of assisted reproductive technology and associate director of clinical operations, reproductive endocrinology and infertility.

Wakim has treated thousands of infertile couples and is among the most experienced infertility specialists in the country. He is skilled both in surgical techniques and medical treatments used to treat infertility in women and men.

According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, about 10 percent of the reproductive-age American population is infertile, defined as the inability to conceive a child after at least one year. As reproductive technology becomes more sophisticated, an increasing number of couples is turning to the variety of treatments available to help them conceive.

Among the major initiatives to be undertaken by Wakim are clinical trials to determine which fertility drugs are optimal for stimulating egg production, thus helping a woman achieve pregnancy. Building up the egg donor program is another of Wakim's priorities. "There is an overabundance of infertile, or sub-fertile, women who want to have children but who require donated eggs to do so. Yet there are far too few donor eggs to accommodate them," he said. "One of our goals is to increase the donor egg pool to meet the needs of women who need them."

Before joining Magee, Wakim was director of the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at Allegheny University Hospitals, Pittsburgh.

He received his medical degree from the American University of Beirut in 1978. He completed an internship and a residency at the University of Maryland Hospital, and a fellowship at the University of Louisville Hospital.


Lynda J. Davidson, associate dean and assistant professor, School of Nursing, was elected chair of the board for the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for 2001. CCNE accredits baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs throughout the United States.

Davidson, who joined the School of Nursing in 1994 as an assistant professor, also taught at the University of Oklahoma College of Nursing, Duquesne University School of Nursing, Brigham Young University College of Nursing and the University of Washington Department of Physiological Nursing.

Davidson has a Ph.D. from Case Western University, an M.N. from the University of Washington, and a B.S.N. from Mankato State University.


Harvey White, a professor in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, will receive a 2001 Presidential Citation of Merit from the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) for outstanding contributions to the organization's international activities.

The award will be presented March 12 during ASPA's 62nd national conference. The Presidential Citation of Merit recognizes the most effective activities by an individual directed toward improved public perception of public service, and advocacy on behalf of public service.

In announcing the award to White, ASPA President Marc Holzer said White was selected for his leadership role in forging international ties with public administration counterparts in Africa. White helped organize the first International Conference on Public Management and Development Administration in South Africa in 1997 and served as general chair for the second biannual event in Ghana in 1999. Currently, he is organizing the third conference, scheduled for June in Ethiopia.


Lisa Fiorentino, assistant professor of nursing and director of the nursing department at the Bradford campus, has been nominated to serve as a program evaluator on the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission.

The commission is the leading accrediting body for nursing education programs and is the only national organization that represent nurses at all levels of education and practice.


Three anniversaries of Nicholas Rescher were celebrated at a two-day workshop last month.

The workshop, "The Limits of Knowledge," was held in honor of Rescher's 50th anniversary as a teacher of philosophy, his 40th anniversary as a member of the Pitt faculty and the Center for Philosophy of Science, and his 30th anniversary as a University Professor of Philosophy.

Rescher served as chair of philosophy, directed the Center for Philosophy of Science from 1981 to 1988, and served as vice chair of the center for the past 13 years.

He has written more than 60 books on philosophical subjects and has been a pioneer in the revival and refurbishing of the idealistic tradition in epistemology and metaphysics in light of ideas drawn from American pragmatism.

In 1989-90, he served as president of the American Philosophical Association, Eastern Division. He has been editor of the American Philosophical Quarterly since 1964. In 1983 he received an Alexander von Humboldt Prize awarded under the auspices of the German Federal Republic for distinguished scholarship in the humanities.

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