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April 4, 2002


Steven T. DeKosky has been named chairman of the Department of Neurology in the School of Medicine.

Widely regarded for his clinical expertise and research achievements in Alzheimer's disease, DeKosky has focused his interests on the neurochemistry, genetics and treatment of the disease, and on the spectrum of clinical disorders of memory and cognitive function. He also has focused on central nervous system regeneration and the response to injury.

At Pitt, DeKosky has served as professor of psychiatry and neurology with tenure since 1990. He also holds secondary appointments as professor of neurobiology in the School of Medicine and of human genetics at the Graduate School of Public Health.

He has directed the Alzheimer's Disease Research Center since 1994, and from 1992 through 2001 he directed the division of geriatrics and neuropsychiatry in the Department of Psychiatry. He also is a member of the graduate faculty in the School of Medicine.

DeKosky chairs the executive committee of the National Alzheimer's Coordinating Center and also serves as vice chairman of the National Board of Directors of the Alzheimer's Association and has served as chairman of the Alzheimer's Association's National Medical and Scientific Advisory Council.


A research assistant at the medical school's Department of Cell Biology and Physiology received first place for her poster at the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) meeting in Washington, D.C. The annual ASCB meeting provides minority students the opportunity to network with interested senior researchers.

Nikkisha Prentice, along with 44 other minority scientists, presented her poster, "Gap Junction Mobility in Connexin 43-GFP Transfected Cells as Assessed by Time Lapse Photography," during the Minority Affairs Committee poster competition. The competition is sponsored by the association's grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health.

Prentice works as a research technician at Pitt under the supervision of Sandra A. Murray. Murray and Prentice's research at the School of Medicine is supported by the National Science Foundation.

"Cells of the body 'talk' directly to one another," Prentice said. "By understanding the language of this communication, future studies will allow us to control cell behavior, for example, to stop cancer cells from growing and spreading throughout the body."


Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg presented the sixth Global Peace Award of the International Amateur Athletic Association (IAAA) March 27 to Rudolph Giuliani, former mayor of New York City.

The Global Peace Award was established in 1993 initially in honor of Olympic great Jesse Owens and to recognize individuals who best personify Owens's humanitarian spirit. It is awarded to a person who "has made a significant and lasting contribution of enduring quality to peace" and who "has shown distinguished leadership through personal example of work, deeds, or written and spoken statements."

Nordenberg chaired the award selection committee.

Joan M. Lakoski has been named assistant vice chancellor for academic career development for the newly established Office of Academic Career Development.

The office has been created by the Schools of the Health Sciences to establish, evaluate and sustain initiatives that will enhance the recruitment, retention and academic success of biomedical scientists at Pitt. The focus of the office will be on addressing the career development and advancement needs of all biomedical researchers from undergraduate students to postdoctoral fellows and scholars, as well as junior and senior faculty.

The office, which is believed to be the first of its kind in the United States, also will provide support for diverse populations in the biomedical research community, including the provision of opportunities for the engagement of women and minorities as leaders in biomedical research.

Lakoski will join the University's faculty in July 2002 from Penn State College of Medicine, where she is interim chair of the Department of Pharmacology and professor of pharmacology and anesthesiology.

She has received numerous professional honors, including appointment as a Committee of Institutional Cooperation Academic Leadership Fellow and an administrative fellow at Penn State.

She has served as co-chair of a committee on postdoctoral fellows at Penn State College of Medicine and has pursued long-term interests in the area of professional development, research ethics, responsible conduct in science and the enhancement of postdoctoral education.

Lakoski helped to organize and administer a nationwide, informal survey to learn about administrative structures that exist for postdoctoral students across the country.

Results showed that many institutions lacked the organizational infrastructure to support postdocs and handle their affairs.

"The academic community is finally realizing that we need to better support our faculty," Lakoski said. "By developing the Office of Academic Career Development, the University of Pittsburgh has positioned itself not only to become a leader in emerging fields of biomedical research but also to become the best place to go if you want to develop a career in research and if you want that career to flourish. I am excited and honored to lead this office."

In addition to her duties as assistant vice chancellor, Lakoski will continue her federally funded research in neuropharmacology and neuroendocrinology of aging as a professor of pharmacology.


Head men's basketball coach Ben Howland has signed a contact extension through the 2008-09 season. Financial terms of the contract were not disclosed.

This past season Howland coached the Panthers to one of the most successful campaigns in the program's history. Pitt went 29-6, won the Big East West Division championship and advanced to the NCAA Tournament's third round for the first time in 28 years.

Howland has been named recipient of the Naismith College Basketball Coach of the Year Award and also received the United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) Coach of the Year, the Associated Press Coach of the Year and ESPN The Magazine Coach of the Year honors.

Additionally he was selected the Big East Conference Coach of the Year by league coaches. Howland is the first Pitt coach to receive these awards.

He also was a candidate for the National Association of Basketball Coaches top honor.

Howland is 61-35 in three seasons at Pitt and 140-94 in eight years as a head coach. Last year, he led the Panthers to a 19-14 mark and the Big East championship title game for the first time in school history.

"I am extremely excited about our new long-term contract and commitment with the University of Pittsburgh," said Howland. "The future is very bright for our program. The return of a very strong group of players, coupled with our move into the new Petersen Events Center, signal what I have believed for some time now — that we are in the early stages of building something really special here at the University of Pittsburgh."


Harvey L. White, associate professor of public affairs and international development at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, recently received the Trailblazer Award from the national Conference of Minority Public Administrators (COMPA). The award was presented to White in February at COMPA's annual meeting in Jackson, Miss.

According to COMPA, White earned the award for his outstanding work in international affairs, service to the organization, scholastic achievement and contributions to the advancement of public service.

White served as COMPA's national president in 1996 and 1997. During his term, he helped establish an endowment to enhance minority participation in public service, the Ronald Brown scholarship for high school students and the Tyrone Baines Award for college students.

White also helped establish COMPA's Journal of Public Management and Social Policy and served as its editor-in-chief from 1995 to 1997.

COMPA also cited White's research and advocacy for environmental justice.

The organization noted White's participation in the 1990 Michigan Conference on Race and the Incidence of Environmental Hazards, which was the first gathering of scholars worldwide to address issues of environmental justice. The proceedings and other follow-up activities from the Michigan conference led the federal government to establish the Office of Environmental Justice within the Environmental Protection Agency.


Frank A. Cassell, president of Pitt's Greensburg campus, has been named to the President's Leadership Group of the Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention, a national U.S. Department of Education funded program to prevent alcohol and drug abuse among college students.

Cassell will join presidents from 23 other U.S. colleges and universities in bringing national attention to alcohol and other drug prevention on college and university campuses. President's Leadership Group members also will serve to further statewide and regional alcohol and drug prevention efforts, with members adopting leadership roles in existing regional initiatives or taking the lead in states where statewide efforts have not yet taken hold.


Pitt-Greensburg won a grant from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board in 1999 to establish a campus-community coalition to prevent dangerous and underage drinking on area college campuses.

The coalition established a dialogue between UPG and local college presidents, state and local government representatives, school superintendents, tavern owners and law enforcement officials to discuss ways to specifically address alcohol abuse and consumption among young people in the community.


Cynthia Coburn, assistant professor at the School of Education, won the Dissertation Award from Division L of the American Education Research Association for her dissertation titled "Making Sense of Reading: Logics of Reading in the Institutional Environment and the Classroom."

This is the first year of the award, which Coburn will receive today, April 4, at the association's conference in New Orleans. The American Education Research Association's Division L focuses on education policy and politics.

Coburn came to Pitt in September. In addition to serving as a faculty member in the Department of Administrative and Policy Studies, Coburn works as a research scientist at the Learning Research and Development Center.

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