Archive for the 'Science and Medicine' Category

Bringing history to life with art@Bartrams

Art at Bartrams Report cover

The Lindy Institute’s report proposes ways to bring this historic treasure to life through art.

How do you infuse energy and culture into an historic site that’s an island among neighborhoods in the midst of slow revitalization? Here’s how: you make it the next piece of the Schuylkill River trail. And add art. Drexel’s Lindy Institute for Urban Innovation has garnered the vision for Bartam’s Garden, and is now seeking the funding to bring it to life.

I had the pleasure of editing this intensive 28-page proposal, which spans history, urban planning, and some of the best landscape-based art installations in the world.

You might not know: John Bartam (1699–1777) was a pioneering North American naturalist and devoted Philadelphian. His home and grounds are lovely—well worth a visit the next time you’re headed down 95 past the airport or on a trek into deep Southwest Philly. (Head over in the spring and summer for some dreamy and free kayaking and canoeing on the Schuylkill.)

The report was designed with sumptuous visuals by the eminently talented Andee Mazzocco at Whole-Brained Design.

The trajectory of a research university

Rowan University has undergone a number of exciting changes in the past 18 months. First, it became New Jersey’s newest comprehensive public research university (joined only by Rutgers). Second, it merged with the School of Osteopathic Medicine in Stratford, NJ, to offer an even more broad-based educational program with expanded research and clinical opportunities for students.

FY13AnnualReport FNL cover

To capture the university’s multifaceted talents and initiatives behind these changes, Rowan needed to devise a unique annual report—one that highlighted advances and successes from the previous year, but also branded the diverse research program in light of these developments. Rowan brought in ARC to devise an effective print strategy to integrate the growing South Jersey Technical Park, located on the edge of its Glassboro campus.

Alison conducted interviews with the Associate Provost for Research, who also directs the SJTP, and worked closely with the marketing staff to establish a structure for the publication, but also a voice. I conducted in-depth interviews with high-level administrators—including Dr. Kenneth Blank, who joined Rowan from Temple, in the new position of Vice President for Health Sciences—to integrate into the report the broad, innovative vision for the university in this area.

Continue reading ‘The trajectory of a research university’

A Match Made in Medicine

Finding a living kidney donor is a godsend for patients on dialysis. A donor who’s a match (in blood type) is even more precious. Berch Harris was fortunate enough to find both—in his wife, Vallerie Armstrong, whom he’d met at a hemodialysis center. I write about their courtship, marriage, and putting to the test the vows “in sickness and in health” in a recent issue of Surgical Solutions for the Department of Surgery at Thomas Jefferson University.

I was also intrigued by what transplant surgeon Dr. Ramirez explained as the intricate logistics involved  in matching donors with recipients, especially if a patient’s loved one is willing to donate, but is not a match; it turns out that, since he/she could be a match for someone else, this could guarantee a kidney that is a match, and circumvent what could be a long wait on the transplant list. Jefferson is now part of an elaborate national network that orchestrates “paired kidney donation.” This can involved multiple pairs, and requires many operating rooms and organs transported—all of which needs to happen within a matter of hours.

At a time when it seems we’re scrambling to repair and protect ourselves from human error on all fronts, it’s heartening to read about medicine getting it right and making all the difference in people’s lives.

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Scooping This American Life

This summer I had the pleasure of interviewing a world-renowned classical composer who is working on a way to kill cancer cells using sound waves. (Think opera singer who can shatter glass with her voice.) He did a mini-sabbatical at Jefferson’s Department of Surgery in July, and got some promising results. Imagine a side-effect-free treatment that can be dispensed to a room full of patients for just a few pennies’ worth of electricity.

A documentarian has been following Dr. Holland for months, and collecting video diary entries, in the hopes that this research will cross over from promising into ground-breaking. (My sources tell me that he’s also pitching the story to This American Life.) Be one of the first to read about this true Renaissance man. Read the full article here or the PDF version here.

Holland profile

A little backstory: Dr. Holland came to Jefferson because of happenstance. Dr. Jonathan Brody, of Jefferson’s Division of Surgical Research, gave a talk last year at Skidmore, his alma mater, where Dr. Holland has taught for 27 years. (Turns out Dr. Brody is quite the Renaissance man himself, and a classically trained percussionist.) Dr. Holland attended Dr. Brody’s talk, and approached his former student about what he’d been “playing around with” in the biology labs. And a research partnership was born. Stories of how great partnerships come about have always intrigued me, and I love the role of classical music in this one.