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July 8, 2004

People of the Times

Pitt’s University Center for Social and Urban Research (UCSUR) has awarded the fourth annual Steven D. Manners Faculty Development Awards, established in memory of the center’s assistant director, who died in September 2000. The awards, according to UCSUR director Richard Schulz, are intended to “continue the trend begun by Steve Manners, which was to support faculty members and their research and to improve the research infrastructure at the University.

” The 2004 awardees are:

* Ellen Olshansky, professor and chair, Department of Health and Community Systems, School of Nursing, for “Working Interdisciplinary Qualitative Research Group.”

The goals of this study are to create a forum for fostering dialogue and interdisciplinary collaboration in qualitative research among faculty and students at Pitt and to provide training, mentoring and resources in qualitative research methods for the entire University community.

* Seung-Hyun Yoo, research assistant professor in the public health school’s Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences, for “Development of an Interdisciplinary Working Group for New Media and Violence Research.”

This study aims to establish a network of scholars across disciplines of social sciences, public health, information science and arts and sciences who have expertise and interests in new media, such as the Internet, video and computer games and animation. The study will examine the effects of such new media on human behavior and build an interdisciplinary working group to integrate expertise from multiple disciplines and to develop a research initiative on new media and human behavior.

* Susan Zickmund, assistant professor, Department of Medicine, for “Communication and Barriers to Care in Veterans with Hepatitis C.” This pilot study will focus on the feasibility of generating a complex data set of medical, demographic data and information abstracted from patient interviews.

Such a study is expected to provide critical information about the ability to identify and recruit HCV patients, and about the appropriateness of the study instruments for this patient group. This information will provide key elements for the foundation of a larger VA MERIT grant that will address the association of patient reported provider communication problems with treatment enrollment, treatment retention an adherence to HVC medication.


Pittsburgh-based Agentase, LLC’s Nerve Agent Sensor was named one of the 10 “Greatest Army Inventions” of the past year by the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command. The sensor is a hand-held device that rapidly changes color in the presence of a contaminant such as sarin, one of many nerve agents that are feared to be used in chemical warfare or terrorist attacks.

The invention is based on research performed by Alan J. Russell, professor of surgery and professor of petroleum and chemical engineering at Pitt, and was funded by the U.S. Army Research Laboratory and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA).

Russell’s research has focused on the interface between enzymes and materials like polymers. As such, the Agentase Nerve Agent Sensor makes use of the pH-dependent catalytic activity of enzymes that have been embedded in a polymer sponge-like material. If contamination is detected, within seconds the sponge changes color from yellow to red.

Beyond its high sensitivity to nerve agents, the Nerve Agent Sensor also is resistant to environmental factors, such as high temperatures, and interference from other compounds. It has a two- to three-year shelf life and is compatible with all testing surfaces. The sensor already is in use in Iraq.

Nominations for the U.S. Army Greatest Inventions Program were submitted from across the Army laboratory community and evaluated by soldier teams from the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command and active U.S. Army divisions. The entries were judged based on their impact on Army capabilities, potential benefit outside the Army and their inventiveness.

The team recognized by U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command includes Russell, who also is director of the University of Pittsburgh’s McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine; Stephen J. Lee and Robert Campbell, both of the U.S. Army Research Office, a part of the U.S. Army Research Laboratory; Larry Pollack of DTRA, and Keith LeJeune, a former student of Russell’s and chief executive officer of Agentase, which he and Russell co-founded. The team received the award at a ceremony June 23 in McLean, Va.


Gary A. Silverman, associate professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, former chief of newborn medicine at Children’s Hospital – Boston and director of the Harvard-Wide Neonatal-Perinatal Fellowship Training Program, has been appointed professor of pediatrics at Pitt’s School of Medicine.

Silverman, who will join the faculty Nov. 1, also has been named chief of the Division of Neonatology and Developmental Biology in the medical school’s the Department of Pediatrics, and chief of neonatology at Magee-Womens Hospital. Silverman’s clinical duties will include oversight of medical care provided to high-risk newborns admitted to the neonatal intensive care units at Magee and Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and other critically ill newborns in the region. As division chief, he also will direct basic and clinical research programs and medical education and teaching in the field of neonatology.

“Dr. Silverman is an outstanding neonatal clinician and researcher who has been particularly adept at mentoring neonatal fellows and running one of the finest neonatology fellowship programs in the country,” said David Perlmutter, chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at the Pitt School of Medicine and scientific director of Children’s Hospital. “His recruitment raises the bar for pediatric care and research in the region.”

In addition to managing the division’s research efforts, Silverman will continue to conduct his own studies on a family of proteins called serpins, which are proteins that protect cells from injury. Serpins are key regulatory molecules in many complex biologic processes including blood cell coagulation, inflammation, tumor growth and cell death.

Among Silverman’s current projects is the investigation of how serpins work in normal development as well as the role they play in certain cancers and infections.

Priorities for the division will include adapting new research findings in genomics, molecular medicine and bioinformatics to patient care, as well as nurturing relationships with community hospitals in the region, Silverman said.

“There are a lot of major challenges facing newborn medicine,” Silverman continued. “The goal is to provide state-of-the-art care in a clinical discipline that is rapidly changing in terms of the limits of viability and the ability to successfully treat disorders that were lethal just a few years ago.”

Before joining the faculty at Harvard, Silverman obtained his medical and doctoral degrees at the University of Chicago. He received specialty training in pediatrics at Children’s Hospital – Boston and additional training in neonatal-perinatal medicine at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the St. Louis Children’s Hospital. He graduated from Washington and Jefferson College in 1978.


At its 2004 national meeting in Arlington, Va., the Music Library Association announced the appointment of James P. Cassaro as editor of Notes, MLA’s quarterly journal that has been in publication since 1934.

Cassaro has served MLA in many capacities, most recently as past-president after two years as president (2001-2003), and four years as treasurer (1994-1998). He is head of the Theodore M. Finney Music Library at Pitt. Previously he was assistant music librarian for Cornell University (1983-1999), where he received an M.A. in musicology. Earlier he was assistant catalog librarian for the A.M. Willis Jr. Library at North Texas State University, and record/reference librarian for the music library at the University at Buffalo, SUNY, where he received a B.A. in music (1978) and an M.L.S (1980).

Cassaro’s recent publications include a critical edition of Jean-Baptiste Lully’s Ballet des Saisons (G. Olms, 2001), Gaetano Donizetti: A Guide to Research (Routledge, 2000), 19 articles on French Baroque and American composers in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (2nd ed., 2001), and 39 articles in Grove Music Online.

Additional articles include “The Musical Chadwicks: John M. and George M. of Central New York,” Notes 54/2 (Dec. 1997), and “Music Cataloguing and the Future,” Fontes Artis Musicae 41/3 (July, 1994). He contributed lists of essential works for full and vocal scores of choral music and opera to A Basic Music Library, (3rd ed., ALA, 1997), edited two MLA technical reports: Space Utilization in the Music Library (1991) and Planning and Caring for Library Audio Facilities (1989), served as an abstractor for RILM and published reviews for Notes, Fontes Artis Musicae and Serials Review.


Long-time Pitt supporter James J. Duratz has received the Donor of the Year Award, University Division, from the National Association of Athletic Development Directors (NAADD) at its national convention last month, in Dallas, Tex.

NAADD is administered by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics, which serves as the professional development and educational association for more than 1,600 institutions throughout North America.

Duratz’s many contributions to Pitt’s Department of Athletics include the establishment of multiple student-athlete scholarship funds, including the Barco Athletic Scholarship Fund. He also was the primary donor for the Panthers’ state-of-the-art football practice facility and training complex – the Duratz Athletic Complex at the UPMC Sports Performance Complex – and the Duratz Locker Room at Heinz Field.

Duratz’s relationship with the University began following his marriage to the late Helene Barco, the daughter of George J. Barco (LAW ’34) and sister to Yolanda G. Barco (LAW ’49). Pitt’s law school building recently was renamed the Barco Law Building in honor of the Barco family. Duratz’s contributions also included the creation of the George J. Barco Center for Continuing Education and the Helene Barco Duratz Plaza, both at Pitt’s Titusville campus, and the Duratz Technology Courtroom in the Pitt School of Law.

In 2000, Duratz was inducted as a charter member of the Cathedral of Learning Society, which recognizes individuals who have given $1 million or more to the University over their lifetimes. He also is a member of the Sutherland Society for annual gifts of $10,000 or more to the athletics department.


The Pittsburgh Center for the Arts (PCA) recently announced that Pitt adjunct professor of art Hilary Shames will serve as co-curator for the 2005 Pittsburgh Biennial, a signature exhibition at PCA since its premiere in 1994.

Showcasing the work of artists living within a 150-mile radius of the city, the Pittsburgh Biennial offers works of both established and emerging artists. The 6th Pittsburgh Biennial will run March 18 – June 19, 2005, coinciding with PCA’s 60th anniversary year.

Shames previously was the assistant coordinator for the International Sculpture Conference, held in Pittsburgh in 2001, and was awarded a fellowship to Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine in 1992.

Her current exhibitions include “Concealments,” a Group A exhibit at PCA. Shames also was featured as one of PCA’s “Generation Art” artists in a recent exhibition series of up and coming artists in the region.

Laura Domencic, exhibitions coordinator at PCA, also was named co-curator for the Pittsburgh Biennial.


Vernell Lillie, associate professor of Africana studies and founder and artistic director of Pitt’s Kuntu Repertory Theatre (KRT), received the Rob Penny Lifetime Achievement Award during the African American Council of the Arts first Onyx Awards ceremony June 18.

The Onyx Awards are modeled on the annual Chicago Black Alliance Awards. Among the other honorees were Pittsburgh dance and theater performers and artists, as well as productions from the past season. Penny, who died in 2003, was an associate professor of Africana studies at Pitt and KRT’s playwright-in-residence.


David Hayes, associate professor of education, reading and language arts and chairperson, Division of Education at Pitt-Johnstown, is one of 24 participants who have completed the Pennsylvania Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP). The EPFP program is a 10-month professional development program that enables EPFP fellows the opportunity to develop a broadened understanding of the policy process and educational policy issues and improve communication and decision-making skills. The EPFP fellows, through a partnership with the U.S. Army War College, also enhance strategic leadership skills.

Hayes joined the UPJ faculty in 1985 and was named chairperson of the campus’s education division in 1992. He received a Bachelor of Arts in government from the University of Massachusetts and master’s and doctor of education degrees from the University of Virginia.

Members of the 2003-2004 EPFP graduating class represent diverse sectors from state government to higher education to the U.S. military. The graduates join 89 Pennsylvania EPFP alumni and more than 5,000 EPFP alumni from other states.

The EPFP is offered in Pennsylvania through The Education Policy and Leadership Center. The nationally recognized education policy fellowship program was established 40 years ago by the Institute for Educational Leadership in Washington, D.C.


Ping Y. Furlan, associate professor of chemistry at the Titusville campus, recently was named to represent Titusville in the Manchester Who’s Who Among Executives and Professionals, and for inclusion in the upcoming 2004-2005 Honors Edition of the registry.

Individuals are named based on the candidate’s current position and accomplishments with information obtained from researched executive and professional listings.

In addition, Furlan again was nominated to be honored in Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers. Fewer than 2 percent of the nation’s teachers are included in more than one edition.

Furlan coordinates and teaches in the Summer Enrichment Program offered each July at UPT for middle school and junior high school students.


Pitt alumnus Herbert W. Boyer, co-founder of Genentech and professor emeritus of biochemistry and biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), is one of the recipients of the newest million-dollar science award, the Shaw Prize. The award was announced in Hong Kong by the Shaw Prize Foundation.

Boyer will share the $1 million prize in Life Sciences and Medicine with research partner Stanley Cohen of Stanford University, for discoveries related to DNA cloning and genetic engineering, and scientist Kan Yuet-Wai, the Louis K. Diamond Professor of Hematology and professor of laboratory medicine at UCSF, for his research on DNA polymorphism.

“The University of Pittsburgh takes great pride in the wonderful news that alumnus Herb Boyer will receive the Shaw Prize,” said Pitt Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg. “Without question, his seminal work in the field of genetic engineering has not only revolutionized science but has also truly advanced the cause of human health – making him one of the most important figures of our day. It is extremely gratifying to see Dr. Boyer’s contributions recognized by such a prestigious international award. He is an inspiring example for us all.”

Hong Kong media executive Run Run Shaw, who made his fortune producing a string of kung-fu action movies, established the Shaw Prize in 2002 to honor scientists for breakthroughs in academic and scientific research.

Boyer and the other winners will be honored at a Sept. 7 ceremony in Hong Kong. In 2000, Pitt honored Boyer with the degree of Doctor of Science, Honoris Causa. Boyer and Cohen were awarded the Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research in 1980 and the Lemelson-MIT Prize in 1996. Boyer has won the Medal of Technology and the National Medal of Science, and he is a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Boyer earned the Master of Science and Ph.D. degrees in applied statistics from Pitt in 1960 and 1963, respectively, after receiving the Bachelor of Science in biology and chemistry from St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa.

In 2000, he and his wife provided $1.5 million to establish the Herbert W. and Grace Boyer Chair in Molecular Biology in Pitt’s Department of Biological Sciences.

In 1976, Boyer co-founded one of the world’s first biotechnology companies, Genentech, which uses recombinant DNA technology to produce commercial pharmaceutical products. Two years later, Genentech synthesized human insulin, which has enhanced the lives of millions of diabetics. In 1985, Genentech received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the growth hormone protropin, which became the first recombinant pharmaceutical product to be manufactured and marketed by a biotechnology company.


Ted Rice, associate professor of pharmacy and therapeutics at Pitt’s School of Pharmacy, was named a fellow of the American Society of Health System Pharmacists at their annual meeting in June. The designation recognizes excellence in pharmacy practice.

Also at the pharmacy school, Karen Steinmetz, assistant professor of pharmacy and therapeutics, achieved certified diabetes educator (CDE) status from the National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators. The CDE credential demonstrates to patients and employers that the health care professional possesses distinct and specialized knowledge for promoting the quality of care for patients with diabetes.

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