Wonder Women


Lynn T. Landmesser, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair, Department of Neurosciences, and
Arline H. and Curtis F. Garvin Professor in Neurosciences

       Lynn T. Landmesser, Ph.D., was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in May, attaining the highest honor accorded scientists and engineers short of the Nobel Prize.
       
Membership recognizes a lifetime of achievement in science and the contribution of groundbreaking discoveries in one's field.
       
The NAS is a private organization of scientists and engineers that acts as an official adviser to the federal government, upon request, in any matter of science or technology. Dr. Landmesser was one of 72 new members--including only seven women--elected in 2001, bringing the organization's active membership to 1,874.
       
The path to this much-deserved accomplishment was filled with fateful decisions and choices sometimes questioned by others, but her story ultimately serves as inspiration for those who hope to find both fulfillment and sustenance doing work they love.
       
"When I first went to college, I was actually going to be a medical technologist or something that one could earn a living from," Dr. Landmesser said. "But before you got into those courses, you had to take biology, and I realized that I was more interested in that. People said, 'Well, what can you do with a biology major? You'll never have a job.' But I didn't care that much. I thought, 'Well, I'm enjoying it, and when I get to that point [of having to make a living], I'll deal with it.'"
       
Despite her interest in her studies, the future Dr. Landmesser contemplated taking a year off when she was in her third year at the University of California, Los Angeles. "I liked to do research, so although I was doing well in all my courses, I was finding the class work somewhat boring," she said. So she wrote to one of her zoology professors about the possibility of doing a research project in her senior year. "I was starting to become interested in behavior, but in essence I realized that I was really more interested in what was making the behavior, in the nervous system that was underlying various types of animal behavior. So I wrote a letter to this professor. He was on sabbatical, and just by chance--all these things that happen in your life--they sent it to a different professor there. His name was Ted Bullock, and he was an early pioneer in the field of neuroscience." Dr. Bullock invited her to take his class on the nervous system, saying that if she did well, she could pursue her interest in a small lab course in the second semester as well as do her proposed research project. "I took the course, and then when I did the research project, I became really enamored of the nervous system. So that's what got me interested in neuroscience," she said.
       
In 1965, her bachelor of arts degree in hand, she decided her next step would be to pursue additional education. "Originally, I was going to get a master's degree, and then I decided to go on and get a Ph.D.," Dr. Landmesser said. "I didn't realize at that time that you could have a real career in science. That just wasn't something that I was considering. And then when I found out that you, indeed, could, it just matched well with a lot of things that I liked doing."
       
She earned her Ph.D. in neurophysiology from UCLA in 1969. Next, she planned to do a National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded postdoctoral fellowship in Czechoslovakia, because no one elsewhere was studying the type of neural development she had become interested in, but as with some previous plans regarding her education, her path changed. "The man that I was going to go work with had a heart attack and died," she said. She had an opportunity to go to Harvard but decided instead to go to Salt Lake City to work on her fellowship at the University of Utah College of Medicine with Guillermo Pilar, M.D. She had come to know him and his work through meetings of the Western Nerve Net, a forerunner of the Society for Neuroscience. "He was beginning to work on neural development, when few else were," she said. "We got to talking at one point, and the research proposed seemed like it would be very novel and interesting."
       
Again came the questions from others. "Everyone said, 'Salt Lake City? Boy, you must be out of your mind.'" But she went. The decision had personal consequences as well as professional ones: Dr. Pilar ultimately became her husband.
       
Dr. Landmesser spent two years in Salt Lake City and another at the University of Connecticut and was planning to gain another year of post-doc experience when Yale came knocking, seeking to hire a developmental neurobiologist, a rare breed in the early 1970s. "I decided, 'Well, I'll go and stay a while, but I can always go back to the West.' Having grown up in California, the East was just not appealing to me. And then, you know, one thing leads to another. So I spent 11 years at Yale and my husband, meanwhile, moved and was a professor at the University of Connecticut" two hours away in Storrs.
       
Dr. Landmesser lived in New Haven during the week and spent weekends with her husband, but years of commuting and the birth of a son eventually prompted her to move to the University of Connecticut, too, where she spent 10 years before coming to CWRU in 1993. Even the move to Cleveland was unscripted.
       
"There was an excellent group of people at CWRU who were interested in neural development and the molecular basis of axon path-finding, and they invited me to give a seminar. We got to talking afterward and the department chair, Story Landis, Ph.D., asked if I might have some interest in moving. I began to think that maybe that wouldn't be such a bad idea. A couple of years later, we moved," she said, noting that the relocation was timed so that their son, Gabriel, could attend all four years of high school in the same location.
       
Dr. Landmesser became chair of the CWRU Department of Neurosciences in 1999 and was named the first Arline H. and Curtis F. Garvin Professor in Neurosciences in 2001.
       
All along, her interest has been in trying to understand how neural circuits form, especially in the spinal cord. Her research has established basic principles of how nerve cells make accurate connections with other cells, such as muscles, skin or other neurons. The accuracy of such connections is essential for all aspects of brain function, including how humans control movements, sense the world, experience emotions, think and dream. Her initial experiments combined elegant microtransplantation of pieces of spinal cord with electrical recordings to show that even if nerve cells were moved relatively large distances from their normal positions, they could follow novel routes to reach their correct targets. This finding proved that there must be molecular factors that axons could follow to establish their connections. The principles established by these experiments, conducted in the 1970s and early 1980s, have served as a road map for subsequent experiments by scientists around the world looking for molecular cues that can be used to repair damaged or improperly developed nervous systems. Her work has relevance to developing strategies for enhancing recovery following spinal cord or peripheral nerve injury.
       
Currently, Dr. Landmesser's lab studies various knockout mice and uses molecular biological tools to hunt for genes that distinguish different types of motor neurons, the nerve cells that control muscles. In this way, she hopes to pinpoint the factors that produce the amazingly complex and precise connectivity found in the nervous system.
       
Dr. Landmesser said the thrill of discovery, as well as the people in the scientific community, are the aspects of her work that she finds most rewarding. "Experimental science is fun because you find new things, and you find unexpected things," she said. "You develop ideas, and sometimes your ideas aren't right. For the most part, that's why you do experiments, and often you find out that they're not right. But when you go into the lab and see something novel for the first time, that's very exciting because you realize that no one has ever seen this before. There's a lot of drudgery involved in experimental science, but these little moments make it all worthwhile.
       
"Also, biologists and biomedical researchers are in general a very nice group of people. People come through your lab--graduate students and post-docs--and they become your friends and colleagues forever, and over time you generate a very large circle of friends all over the world. It's a nice community. The people who are genuinely interested in science are really fun people to interact with."
       
Dr. Landmesser's teaching and research activities have indeed produced a large circle of friends and colleagues. As a teacher, she has advised numerous Ph.D. candidates, post-doctoral fellows, and research associates, many of whom hold academic appointments around the United States and abroad. She also lectures on neural development at the medical school and in several graduate courses. In addition to holding two NIH research awards, she is the principal investigator on an NIH Predoctoral Neurosciences Training Grant and co-principal investigator on an NIH Developmental Biology Training Grant.
       
In addition to her election into the National Academy of Sciences--where she joins CWRU faculty members Cynthia M. Beall, Ph.D., Oscar D. Ratnoff, M.D., and Frederick C. Robbins, M.D.--Dr. Landmesser has earned numerous other honors and has held several leadership positions in her field.
       
She is president-elect of the Neuroscience Section of the American Society for the Advancement of Science, of which she is a fellow; has served as president of the Society for Developmental Biology and as secretary of the Society for Neuroscience; and was a member of the National Advisory Council of the NIH's National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Society for Developmental Biology, and the American Physiological Society. She serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Neuroscience.
       
Among her other awards and honors are the McKnight Senior Investigator Award (1997), election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1993), membership on the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives (1993), and two Jacob Javits Investigator awards (1985-92, 1992-99). She was named one of Northeast Ohio's Distinguished Women in Healthcare by the Visiting Nurse Association in November, local recognition of the same accomplishments which led to her election into the NAS earlier in the year.


Pamela Bowes Davis, M.D., Ph.D.
Professor of Pediatrics, CWRU, and Chief, Division of Pediatric Pulmonology,
Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital

       Following her residency in internal medicine, Pamela Bowes Davis, M.D., Ph.D., was invited to join the cystic fibrosis (CF) laboratory at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). "I didn't know anything about the disease, so I read about it and decided that it was a great thing to study because it potentially could be solved in my professional lifetime. I thought that would be tremendously exciting," she said. "That turned out to be quite a naïve response to a difficult problem, but as the years go on, I am more and more convinced that we will solve the major problems of the disease."
       
Today, Dr. Davis is a recognized authority in CF research who has made seminal contributions to the understanding and treatment of CF, one of the most common fatal genetic diseases in the United States. She has shared her findings as the author of more than 100 articles, book chapters and other publications related to the disease.
       
Dr. Davis, who has secondary appointments in the departments of medicine, physiology and biophysics, and molecular biology and microbiology, is the only CWRU faculty member to be awarded two simultaneous center grants from the NIH. She received one for the Cystic Fibrosis Research Center and another for the new Specialized Center of Research on Lung Inflammation. She consistently is named to the school's list of "Million Dollar Professors" for bringing in more than $1 million in research funding annually from sources such as the NIH. Her research focuses on developing new therapies for CF.
       
"Before the gene for CF was discovered in 1989, therapies were all directed at the symptoms, and they were effective in extending the lives of the patients to about 30 years," she said. "Patients with CF suffer much morbidity and mortality from the lung disease. They become infected with bacteria very early in life, and the infection cannot be killed no matter what we do with antibiotics. The patients mount a tremendous inflammatory response against the bacteria, and the inflammatory response progressively destroys the lung.
       
"In the late 1980s and extending into the 1990s, we worked on developing anti-inflammatory therapies for CF. The laboratory work culminated in a four-year clinical trial of high-dose ibuprofen for patients with CF, which was effective in slowing the rate of pulmonary decline. This represented proof that the inflammatory response in CF is indeed excessive and provided a whole new strategy of therapy for the disease." The research was a breakthrough.
       
"Eleven-year follow up of the patients who participated in that trial shows that they still show benefit from those four years of therapy," Dr. Davis said. "It is really exciting to deliver a new treatment for a disease, and to have the prospect of delivering other treatments to the patients. To me, it is the application to people that matters most."
       
Since the gene for CF was discovered in 1989, Dr. Davis' lab has worked on gene therapy. "We are planning our first clinical trial for 2002," she said. "In addition, we are working on the mechanism by which the CF protein works as a transporter of chloride ion, in the hopes of discovering ways to activate the defective protein in the disease state."
       
Dr. Davis has been working in Cleveland since 1981. "Case Western Reserve University / Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital (RB&C) has always had one of the world's best cystic fibrosis centers," she said. "One always wants to work where excellence in all aspects of the disease, clinical and research, is valued and where one's colleagues are first-rate, and the CWRU / RB&C center is such a place."
       
Dr. Davis herself has been recognized as "first-rate" too. Adding to a long list of awards, in 2001, her undergraduate alma mater, Smith College, presented her with the Smith College Medal. Also, she was inducted into the Cleveland Medical Hall of Fame.
       
Dr. Davis is a fellow of the American College of Physicians and a member of the Society for Pediatric Research, the American Thoracic Society, the American Physiological Society, the American Pediatric Society, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Society for Gene Therapy and the Biophysical Society. She serves on many committees at the local and national level, is associate editor of the American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology and Respiratory Research, and is a reviewer for several other journals.


Janice G. Douglas, M.D.
Professor of Medicine and Physiology and Biophysics, CWRU, and
Chief, Division of Hypertension, University Hospitals of Cleveland

       When Janice Douglas was a student at Meharry Medical College in her native Nashville, one of her professors had a stroke and died. "He was in his mid-30s, and he was really my best professor," she said, adding that, because high blood pressure often leads to stroke, "I got really interested in the whole issue about what's most effective for blood pressure control." Her interest was solidified when another professor had a stroke that resulted in an automobile accident and left him paralyzed.
       
Today, Dr. Douglas is an internationally renowned physician-scientist making a difference in the health of African-Americans and others through her basic and clinical research.
       
Because hypertension tends to develop more severely and at a younger age in African-Americans than in Caucasians, African-Americans have a greater risk of kidney failure and death from stroke or heart disease. Dr. Douglas consistently earns a place on the list of the medical school's "Million Dollar Professors," bringing in more than $1 million in funding annually from sources such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), trying to improve the odds.
       
One large study, the Genetics of Salt Dependent Hypertension, involving 1,000 patients, is examining "the genetic determinants of hypertension, particularly how salt affects blood pressure," she said.
       
Another large study, the African American Study of Kidney Disease and Hypertension, for which Dr. Douglas heads the steering committee, is focusing on why the incidence of end-stage renal disease secondary to high blood pressure is so prevalent in African-Americans. It is the first major study of kidney disease in African-Americans.
       
"African-Americans have anywhere from five to 20 times more end-stage renal disease secondary to high blood pressure than any other segments of the population," Dr. Douglas said. "And they're very much over-represented in the dialysis population. African-Americans represent more than 30 percent of the dialysis population and only 10 or 12 percent of the general population. We're looking at what drugs are most effective, comparing three different drugs [a beta-blocker, a calcium channel blocker and an angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor] and two levels of blood pressure control to see if we can prevent progression of diseases."
       
Preliminary results of this 1,100-patient study, which began in 1995 and will continue for another five years, were presented at the American Heart Association meeting this fall. Some data were presented earlier when the commonly used calcium channel blocker being studied, amlodipine, was found not to protect the kidney as well as the ACE inhibitor ramipril.
       
"The other clinical studies we're involved in are looking at new directions for using different antihypertensive agents to protect the kidneys from deterioration," she said. In addition to the clinical studies, Dr. Douglas and her lab, together with researchers in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics, receive $1.3 million annually for basic research examining cellular mechanisms for blood pressure control and the progression of renal disease. "We're particularly interested in one of the hormones, angiotensin, and how it protects the kidney from deterioration," she said.
       
What excites her about her work? "There are a lot of challenges, and I like a challenge," she said. "I like the idea of developing hypotheses and testing them, seeing projects to completion. Because of all the technology we have and the large group that we have, it is possible to actually see conclusions of studies. You actually cannot only just develop a study, you can see it through to an end in terms of outcome."
       
Dr. Douglas recently completed service on the Advisory Committee on Research on Minority Health for the NIH's Office of Research on Minority Health. Among her many other honors, she was elected into membership of the Institute of Medicine of the Academy of Sciences. She currently is vice president of the International Society on Hypertension in Blacks and is a member of its board of directors. Also, she is a member of the American Heart Association, the American Society of Nephrology, the Inter-American Society of Hypertension, the American Physiologic Society, the American Society of Hypertension, the American Society for Clinical Investigation, and the Association for American Physicians. She has authored or co-authored well over 100 papers, has served in an editorial capacity for numerous journals, and has mentored more than 35 M.D. students, Ph.D. students and post-doctoral fellows.


Linda A. Headrick, M.D.
Professor of Medicine and Director of the Primary Care Track,
CWRU and MetroHealth Medical Center

       As a seventh-grade student, Linda Headrick knew she wanted to be a doctor. As a teacher during her chief resident year of training, she homed her interest to academia, because she enjoyed teaching.
       
Dr. Headrick came to Cleveland in 1985 to help run a residency program and a fourth-year primary care medical student clerkship. With the help of others, she improved the residency program but came to realize that, without quantifying the successes, the improvements might be difficult to sustain. "That got me interested in research in medical education," she said.
       
Today, Dr. Headrick has added a master's degree in health services research to her credentials and is internationally known for her work in continuous quality improvement. "I'm interested in how you teach students, physicians and other health professionals so that they finish their training ready to assess and improve what they do as part of their routine, daily professional roles--and also how we can use that same approach to improve what we do as educators," she said.
       
The field of quality improvement is relatively new to medicine. "Most physicians and other health professionals don't finish their training with the knowledge and skills in measurement, in interprofessional collaboration, and other key aspects of this area," she said.
       
This situation is changing, however, as research proves that the approach works and as accreditors and policymakers increasingly see improvement principles as a way to reduce error in medicine and shorten the time it takes practitioners to put into practice the updated treatment guidelines they learn about in the literature. The Council on Graduate Medical Education has identified practice-based improvement as one of six core competencies all physicians must have by the end of their training.
       
At the medical school, Dr. Headrick has plenty of opportunities to put quality improvement principles to work. Directing the medical school's Primary Care Track, she said, "taps into my core clinical interest in primary care and also is an opportunity to take what I've learned and apply it to something that would be of direct benefit to medical students. We've been very careful to look for ways to measure how we're doing and make it better over time, and that's one of the reasons that the program has been successful." Also at the medical school, Dr. Headrick is the faculty team leader of an interdisciplinary course on improvement, co-director of an elective about health promotion and disease prevention research for first-year students, and a member of the steering committee of the M.D., Ph.D. in health services research program.
       
At MetroHealth Medical Center, Dr. Headrick leads the Catalyst Initiative, with the goal of improving education and patient care in primary care practice. In 1999, she initiated a MetroHealth-supported health professional fellowship, Faculty Scholars in the Improvement of Health Care. Also, she is a member of the MetroHealth System Board of Trustees Quality Standards and Improvement Committee.
       
Dr. Headrick's commitment to quality improvement extends beyond her activities in Cleveland. Since 1994, she has led a series of demonstration projects in interdisciplinary education known as the Interdisciplinary Professional Education Collaborative, sponsored by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and the Bureau of Health Professions/Health Resources and Services Administration. This work has resulted in more than 25 peer-reviewed publications, including special issues of the Joint Commission Journal of Quality Improvement and the Journal of Interprofessional Care. She co-founded the Association of American Medical Colleges Group on Educational Affairs' Special Interest Group on Quality Improvement in Medical Education and co-chairs its faculty network.
       
Dr. Headrick is a member of the editorial board of the Journal of General Internal Medicine and the Joint Commission Journal on Quality Improvement and is a reviewer for several journals. She is a member of the North American Advisory Board for the Journal of Interprofessional Care and the Advisory Committee of the Association for Academic Health Centers/Health Resources and Services Administration Center for Interdisciplinary, Community-Based Learning. She is a member of the American College of Physicians, the Society for General Internal Medicine, Physicians for Society Responsibility, and Physicians for Human Rights.


Diana L. Kunze, Ph.D.
Professor of Neuroscience, CWRU, and
Senior Research Scientist, MetroHealth Medical Center

       As a child, Diana Kunze would bring home insects and snakes and other animals. "I really liked biology," she said. When it came time to go to college, "I didn't even think twice about what I was going to do."
As a graduate student, she began to study respiration and circulation and then became interested in how the nervous system could regulate them. Today, Dr. Kunze studies the autonomic nervous system and nurtures others' interest in science by mentoring Ph.D. and postdoctoral fellows and by participating in a program through which two young women who attend a Cleveland public high school are spending one day a week during the school year, plus summers, for three years in her lab.
       
These students have learned that the autonomic nervous system controls functions such as blood pressure, heart rate, respiration, and the gastrointestinal track that happen automatically without our thinking about them. "It's a complicated area to study because the neurons that control these functions are dispersed throughout many areas of the brain. You can't point to a set of neurons and say, 'Ah ha, this is it,'" said Dr. Kunze. "So to study this, we had to develop a lot of techniques to identify specific neurons and now we're addressing questions about how the pathways connecting these cells communicate. In particular, I'm interested in respiration and blood pressure and heart rate control."
       
Some of the neurons act as sensors, sending information to the brain so that it can make adjustments as needed. "If your blood pressure is too high, then the brain tries to lower it. If your oxygen level is too low, then the brain increases your respiration to raise the oxygen level," Dr. Kunze explained. "In a way it's like working with a thermostat, which is continuously sensing the temperature in the room and then making adjustments to keep the temperature in a set range."
       
In particular, Dr. Kunze is studying the ion channels responsible for the electrical activity that transmits information from one neuron to another and how neurons adapt, short term and long term, to changes in blood pressure or oxygen levels."
       
Currently, Dr. Kunze is part of a National Institutes of Health program project grant studying intermittent hypoxia as a model for sleep apnea. "We're trying to understand how the nervous system responds when airways are obstructed during sleep. Your oxygen goes down, you wake up and then you resume regular breathing, and this process repeats over and over during the night. We hope that if we can understand what kinds of changes are occurring in the neurons in response to the intermittent hypoxia, then treatments or ways of ameliorating the problems associated with sleep apnea can be developed.
       
"The same thing is true with blood pressure control. Some forms of hypertension are the result of increased activity in the sympathetic nervous system, which is part of the autonomic nervous system. If we can understand why that occurs, by looking at animal models, then maybe specific treatments for that kind of hypertension can be developed."
       
Dr. Kunze and her lab have identified a number of ion channels and some of the mechanisms responsible for adaptation in neurons, but "no one knows why that part of the brain is overactive, why those neurons are overactive," she said. The possibility of answering that question excites her.
       
"I love mysteries," she said. "I had a mentor once who said, 'If you really like mysteries, this is what you should be doing.' I like going in every day and having the possibility of discovering something new. Obviously, it's not like that every day. A lot of days are not like that. But every time you wake up in the morning, you know you can go do something that's creative and that you can use your mind and can discover something new that you didn't know, and that no one knew."
       
Dr. Kunze has authored or co-authored 80 publications. She is a member of the American Physiological Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Biophysical Society, and the Society for Neuroscience. Locally, she is active on several committees related to research, education and faculty matters at CWRU and MetroHealth and is a member of the American Heart Association Northeast Ohio Valley Affiliate's Research Committee and of the Biomedical Research Cleveland Working Group.


Sandra Lemmon, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Molecular Biology and Microbiology, and
Associate Director of the Medical Scientist Training Program

       "I am a curious person by nature," said Sandra Lemmon, Ph.D. Curious meaning inquisitive. "My husband always laughs that I still ask as many questions as a small child. I love making new discoveries and finding out how things work."
       
At work, the basic scientist feeds this curiosity investigating the role of phosphorylation in the regulation of membrane transport. "All eukaryotic cells are surrounded on their surface by a plasma membrane and contain a complex array of internal membranes. There is a continual exchange of nutrients, signaling molecules, and other factors between the internal compartments and the cell surface," she explained. "My laboratory is interested in how proteins are transported between these different membrane compartments and find their proper location in the cell."
       
Particularly, her lab studies transport in baker's yeast that is mediated by a protein called clathrin. "Since a large percentage of the proteins expressed in yeast have relatives in animals, including humans, this has been an incredibly important organism for understanding a wide variety of basic processes that take place in the cells from any multi-cellular organism." Her research is currently funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
       
Dr. Lemmon came to CWRU in 1988 as an assistant professor, pleased by the number of bacterial geneticists on faculty. "The open, collaborative atmosphere here was also readily apparent, so overall I thought CWRU would provide a good environment for me as a young faculty member," she said.
       
Personal considerations came into play, also, she said. "My husband [Vance Lemmon, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Neurosciences] and I were a dual-career couple looking for two positions in the same city. Finding faculty positions together was challenging, and CWRU offered a great opportunity for both of us to continue to develop our scientific careers. Furthermore, we had two young sons, and we felt Cleveland offered many advantages of a city, but at the same time the size of the city and proximity of CWRU to nice housing and good public schools made it an easy place to live for a couple juggling careers and family."
       
Dr. Lemmon assumed her current title of associate professor in 1996 and in 1999 also became associate director of the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP).
       
MSTPs are NIH-funded M.D.-Ph.D. programs that develop researchers who can bridge the gap between basic science and clinical research. Each student earns a Ph.D. in the basic science discipline of his or her choosing, undertaking the usually three- to four-year Ph.D. portion of the program primarily after the first two years of medical school and finishing work toward the medical degree after the Ph.D. work is complete. CWRU's program is one of only 39 in the country.
       
As associate director, Dr. Lemmon said, "I am mainly an academic adviser who helps students with the graduate school aspects of their training that occur during the first two years in parallel to the medical school curriculum. I help them identify good mentors for research rotations in their areas of interest, with the ultimate goal that they will find a lab for their Ph.D. training by the time they finish their second year of medical school. I also advise them in selecting graduate courses, which they take in addition to their medical school classes. And I am there to consult with them and assist with any other concerns or problems that come up during the first two years.
       
"I really enjoy interacting with the students and getting to know them," she continued. "These students are very bright, talented and motivated. A combined M.D.-Ph.D. program is quite demanding and challenging, and the MSTP students have a lot of extra hurdles to leap. I find it very rewarding to see how the students develop into physician-scientists over the course of their time here, and it is satisfying to have this special role where I can provide support and advice as they learn and grow."
       
At CWRU, Dr. Lemmon serves on the MSTP Steering Committee, the School of Medicine Women's Issues Advisory Committee, and the School of Medicine's Nominating Committee. She also is very involved in activities of the university's cell biology community. She is a regular participant in the Cell Biology Journal Club and the Cleveland Membrane Traffic Group.
       
Outside the medical school, Dr. Lemmon is a reviewer for several journals, including Journal of Cell Biology, Molecular Biology of the Cell, Current Biology, Traffic, and Journal of Cell Science. She is a member of the American Society for Cell Biology and is a previous recipient of a Career Advancement Award from the National Science Foundation.
       
Dr. Lemmon also has contributed to the knowledge base in her field through invited seminars, symposia and meeting presentations and by authoring or co-authoring numerous abstracts, journal articles, reviews and book chapters.
       
Outside of work, Dr. Lemmon enjoys travel and outdoor activities such as hiking and biking. Her most memorable trip was the sabbatical year that she and her husband took in Switzerland in 1997-98. In addition to their laboratory work, they had many wonderful times touring Europe and biking, hiking and skiing in the Alps with their children. This past summer, she completed a 500-mile, seven-day bike trip across Wisconsin. She is proud of that accomplishment but is looking forward to a more leisurely vacation with her family this year.


Nancy Oleinick, Ph.D.
Professor of Radiation Oncology, CWRU, and
Director, Radiation Resources Core Facility and Radiation Biology Program,
Comprehensive Cancer Center, CWRU and University Hospitals of Cleveland

       Nancy Oleinick, Ph.D., has spent the past 15 years of her career studying photodynamic therapy (PDT), a promising treatment for cancer. "The focus of my current research is to elucidate the mechanisms by which it works," the basic scientist said.
       
In PDT, a photosensitive drug is injected into a cancer patient. Fast-growing tumor tissue absorbs more of the drug than does surrounding tissue, so it accumulates in the tumor. When a laser is aimed at the tumor, its light interacts with the drug to destroy the cancerous cells without damaging the surrounding tissue.
       
If PDT is the word that describes her work for the past several years, collaboration is the word that describes a theme for her entire career.
       
"Before I got involved with this, I worked on mechanisms of damage to DNA by ionizing radiation," Dr. Oleinick said. "Around 15 years ago, I was involved in some conversations with Antonio Antunez, [M.D., now professor emeritus of radiation oncology], who used to be the director of radiation therapy in what was then the Department of Radiology. We used to meet and talk about his interests in radiation therapy and possible new ideas. I had learned a little about PDT, and I asked him, 'Would you be interested in some kind of collaborative work on this new treatment for cancer?' He was, and I went to a meeting and learned more about it. Then I said, 'I have to find out who else on this campus knows something relevant to this topic.'"
       
She went looking for people who knew about lasers and light and the kinds of molecules used for photosensitizers, and she found them. From an initial group of more than 20 people, an eventual core of about six or seven started to work together. Funding from several sources supported the research.
       
PDT-related work at CWRU has been supported through a National Cancer Institute grant for the last 11 years "because of a very strong collaboration with other investigators here at the university," Dr. Oleinick said. Among those collaborators are Malcolm Kenney, Ph.D., professor of chemistry, who synthesized the photosensitizer used in her studies, Pc 4; Hasan Mukhtar, Ph.D., professor of dermatology, who has worked with Dr. Oleinick for many years; and Timothy Kinsella, M.D., chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology, who is leading the first clinical trial of Pc 4 at University Hospitals of Cleveland. Also, she pointed out, Anna-Liisa Nieminen, Ph.D., associate professor of anatomy and "confocal microscopist par excellence" helped identify that mitochondria were the primary sites to which Pc 4 is attracted. Other long-time collaborators are Helen Evans, Ph.D., and Marie Varnes, Ph.D., both of the Department of Radiation Oncology, and Cecilia Whitacre, Ph.D., of the Department of Medicine.
       
Now, Dr. Oleinick said, "the lab is trying to understand the initial damage done when the photosensitizer creates damaging oxygen and causes oxidation of molecules in the mitochondria. What are those molecules-we think we know one of them; we may know two of them-and how does that damage lead to cell death? We think this has importance for understanding how PDT works in real tumors, and we think it also may offer a mechanism for combined modality treatment, which is the way most cancers are treated."
       
Testing of PDT with Pc 4 now has extended into the clinical setting. "It's handed over to my clinical colleagues," Dr. Oleinick said. "I cannot do a clinical trial, but I hope to do a translational study as part of the clinical work.
       
"As a basic scientist, I'm interested in mechanism, how something works. We study this in cells, we study this in model tumors in animals. We'd like to know if anything in our preclinical models has any relevance to the clinical situation. We certainly hope some of it does, but we won't know until we've done that. And then can we use that new information to improve treatment."
       
Delving deeper into mechanism, particularly biochemical mechanism, and working on something that may benefit patients, is exciting to Dr. Oleinick, she said. "I think any basic scientist in a medical school probably has those goals, but not every line of work allows them to do this. And there are fringe benefits that fall from this work, too. You get to meet and work with some fascinating people."
       
Dr. Oleinick came to CWRU in 1966 after earning her Ph.D. "My husband, for business reasons, had moved to Cleveland, so I was particularly interested in finding work in Cleveland," she said. The academic science community was still warming up to the idea of women faculty, but Dr. Oleinick found a home as a postdoc and instructor in the biochemistry department and, subsequently, as an assistant professor in the radiology department. She progressed to the rank of professor in 1985. The radiation oncology division of the department became its own department, and she's held her current title of professor of radiation oncology since 1998. "It's happenstance that I ended up here at CWRU, but what I have liked about being here is the tremendous openness for collaboration," she said.
       
With others, Dr. Oleinick holds two patents related to photosensitizers and their use, and she has lectured on PDT in courses offered through the pharmacology, environmental health sciences, and other departments.
       
She serves on several committees at the medical school and within her department and is perennially named a "Million Dollar Professor" at the School of Medicine in recognition of annually bringing in $1 million or more in research funding from sources such as the National Institutes of Health.
       
More than 40 undergraduate chemistry, biology, and biochemistry students have worked on research projects in her lab, and she has mentored medical students, predoctoral and master of science students, postdoctoral associates, and visiting scientists working on research projects.
       
And Dr. Oleinick's contributions to her field extend beyond the medical school. She has given numerous lectures and has chaired or participated in many symposia. She has written or co-written more than 100 journal articles and almost 20 reviews and chapters, and she referees manuscripts for numerous journals. She chairs the National Cancer Institute Initial Review Group's Manpower and Training Subcommittee, serves on the advisory board for a program project on PDT at Harvard and Massachusetts General Hospital, and serves on the Veterans' Advisory Committee on Environmental Hazards and the NASA Radiation Effects Review Panel.
       
She is a member of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, the Radiation Research Society, and both the European and American societies for photobiology, and she is a past president of the American Society for Photobiology.


Susan Redline, M.D., M.P.H.
Professor of Pediatrics, CWRU, and
Chief, Division of Clinical Epidemiology, Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital

       The first ties to Cleveland for Queens, N.Y., native Susan Redline, M.D., M.P.H. came in the late 1970s, as she graduated from the Boston University School of Medicine summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. "My husband and I chose to do our residencies as a couple in 1979," she said, "and Case Western Reserve University was very welcoming to couples."
       
After completing an internship and residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in pulmonary and critical care medicine at CWRU affiliate MetroHealth Medical Center, Dr. Redline undertook a fellowship in respiratory epidemiology at Brigham and Women's Hospital, at the same time pursuing her master of public health degree at Harvard. She went on to work at Brown Medical School but was attracted back to Cleveland in 1990. "I had maintained contact with many of my mentors" in Cleveland, she said. "The opportunity to work with people such as Drs. Murray Altose and Kingman Strohl [professors of medicine] and to live in a family-welcoming community such as Cleveland attracted me back."
       
Dr. Redline's work focuses on understanding the epidemiology (distribution, causes and outcomes) of chronic health conditions, particularly sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) and chronic airway diseases including asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. "I am especially interested in the issue of individual susceptibility to chronic diseases and how genetic and environmental factors interact to influence this susceptibility," she said. "I am also very interested in how prenatal and early childhood exposures influence the expression of disease in later life."
       
Her chosen field stems from a longstanding interest in environmental health. "It started in high school when I participated in a National Science Foundation summer program on the environment and studied mercury poisoning," she said. "As a pulmonary fellow, I was further exposed to many patients whose lung diseases appeared to be related to occupational and other environmental exposures."
       
In Cleveland, Dr. Redline's research interests have led to the establishment of two of the largest population-based studies of sleep apnea, a pediatric cohort and a family cohort. Her work has played a key role in defining the population distributions of SDB and the role of gender, race, and age in this disorder; describing the natural history of the disorder; describing racial differences in age of onset (identifying blacks to have SDB at younger ages); and describing racial differences in SDB-associated outcomes. Recent work has provided evidence that the incidence of SDB increases in children born prematurely. "This finding suggests intriguing possibilities regarding the role of developmental influences on respiratory control and/or craniofacial anatomy and helps identify susceptible subsets of the population," she said.
       
"The Cleveland family cohort also has provided the strongest data to date characterizing the role of genetic influences on sleep apnea," Dr. Redline continued. "We have obtained genome-wide scan data on 635 members of this cohort, and early genetic analyses suggest genes for obesity, blood pressure, lung function, and sleep apnea."
       
Dr. Redline and her colleagues also have established an internationally recognized center for the collection, processing, and analysis of sleep studies, known in the field as research polysomnograms. The methods and manuals they developed now serve as templates for use in other research and clinical centers.
       
"The Sleep Heart Health Study data are being made available electronically to the public to allow a variety of technical and physiological questions to be broadly addressed," she said. "The most recent work from this study, published in April 2000 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, has provided the best evidence to date linking hypertension to SDB. We have now been invited to participate in two new, large-scale, population-based studies, one on the relationship of SDB to cardiovascular disease in African-Americans, and the other on the relationship of sleep disorders to osteoporosis and falls."
       
Also, Dr. Redline has been involved in community-based asthma screening initiatives and just completed a one-year project in which her team developed and validated a new tool to screen for asthma and allergies in schools. Initially used in the Shaker Heights schools, the work will be extended to the Hough schools through a grant from the Ohio Commission of Minority Health, and a modification of this tool soon will be tested in Dallas, Chicago and Rochester, Minn., for use in other cities across the United States.
       
Dr. Redline repeatedly has been named one of the medical school's "Million Dollar Professors" for annually bringing in more than $1 million in funding from sources such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), but she contributes to the growing body of knowledge in her field in many ways in addition to her research. As an educator, she has organized programs, lectures and elective courses, and she has mentored more than 20 medical students, doctoral students, fellows and faculty members. Also locally, she is a member of the Greater Cleveland Asthma Coalition Steering Committee and St. Luke's Foundation's Healthy Children 2020 Think Tank.
       
Her expertise is recognized beyond Cleveland, too. On a national level, Dr. Redline is very active on NIH committees. For the NIH's National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, she is chair of the subcommittee on polysomonography for the Sleep Health Study and is a member of the Data Safety and Monitoring Board of the Multicenter Asthma Clinical Network. For the NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, she is a convener of the Peak Flow Pilot Study Committee.
       
Also, Dr. Redline is an associate editor of Sleep and the American Journal of Respiratory Critical Care Medicine. She is a fellow of the American College of Chest Physicians, chairs the clinical trials subcommittee for the American Association of Sleep Medicine, and is a member of the American College of Physicians, the American Thoracic Society and its Committee on Questionnaire Revisions, the Society for Epidemiologic Research, the International Society for Human Genetics, the American Professional Sleep Society, and the Ohio Lung Association.
       
She has made numerous presentations to fellow researchers as well as students and patient groups and has authored or co-authored more than 60 peer-reviewed publications and an equal number of abstracts, as well as several other publications.


Sylvia Rimm, Ph.D.
Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, CWRU, and
Director, Family Achievement Clinic, Westlake, Ohio


©
Janine Bantivegna

       Sylvia Rimm, Ph.D., is nationally known for her books, tapes, newsletter, syndicated newspaper column, scholarly and popular articles, and radio, TV and personal appearances, all aimed at helping parents raise their children and examining what motivates children to be successful. The psychologist's book See Jane Win and its companion, How Jane Won, have earned her appearances on the New York Times bestseller list and well as the "Oprah" show. Her textbook Education of the Gifted and Talented is the most popular one in its field.
       
She has a special interest in gifted and creative children. "Though I work with all children, the phenomenon of some gifted children doing so well in school and other gifted children underachieving and not working to their ability always challenged me," Dr. Rimm said.
       
Through her work, she has found that in addition to learning skills, parents who stress the importance of education and "who set high expectations, who are positive in those expectations, who are united in those expectations, are really a very key part of success" for children.
       
In addition to helping parents across the nation, as a member of the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine's clinical, or part-time, faculty for the past nine years, Dr. Rimm has helped medical school students and residents become better doctors through her teaching and through grand rounds presentations at the university's affiliated hospitals. "Right now, we're working with the family practice residents in clinical work," she said. "Each resident spends a couple days with us and we introduce them to parenting and child issues that may affect them in their family practice."
       
Doctors play a crucial role in the lives of families and in helping parents be good parents, Dr. Rimm said. Physicians may be confronted with questions about school, siblings, rebellion, sexual issues and adolescent issues, so "helping them understand what kinds of answers they can handle medically and when they should refer for extra help is extremely important.
       
"For example, one of the concerns nationally now is the overuse of attention deficit medications. Families will often come to their family physician or their pediatrician for those kinds of prescriptions, so learning to work with a psychologist or a psychiatrist on when to prescribe and when not to prescribe is really important. Another example might be headaches or stomachaches and when they're psychological and when they're related to school phobia and anxieties. Psychologists refer to physicians to look at the physical components first, but if they find there isn't anything, it's important to be aware of the kinds of symptoms that suggest that this child needs psychological help. Psychologists and docs need to work together, particularly when they're working directly with families."
       
The students and residents with whom she works already often have come to appreciate the importance of collaboration; what they gain from her is an awareness of a more subtle point of doctoring, she said. "One thing I've taught medical school students that I've gotten an 'a ha' response from is something I call referential speaking, adult talk about a child in front of the child, and how it affects the child. Sometimes doctors don't realize the impact of what they say to a parent about the child in front of the child. The child assumes that whatever the doctor says is true and immutable. Suppose a doctor says to a parent, 'Your child needs medication because he's impulsive and can't concentrate' and proceeds with a long description of the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). That child may think, 'Am I sick? Will I never be able to concentrate? Am I a bad person?' I tell a doctor, 'You need to either say that differently in front of that child or ask the child to leave the room, because you don't want to disempower that child. After all, many children outgrow the symptoms of ADHD and can learn to control impulses.' Furthermore, even children on medication can learn more appropriate behaviors. Even simple kinds of things--'Oh, he's a little devil, isn't he?'--are really hurtful to children. Saying 'this child is a genius' can put terrible pressure on a child.
       
"These are examples of things that I've heard from doctors, and when I point this out to medical students or residents, they really find it surprising."


Susan B. Shurin, M.D.
Professor of Pediatrics, CWRU, and Chief, Division of Pediatric
Hematology/Oncology, Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital


Photo by Marius Chira

       To an outsider, the prospect of working with children who have cancer or blood diseases such as sickle cell disease or hemophilia might seem depressing, but to Susan B. Shurin, M.D., it is her life's work.
       
"I think people tend to focus on the fact that death in children is a reality among our patients," she said. "It is there, but there's an awful lot of success, too, and we contribute to that. Virtually all of the patients we take care of are taken care of on research protocols, so we're not just benefiting these patients, we're benefiting future generations of patients. And most of our patients not only survive but live very productive and happy lives."
Dr. Shurin especially enjoys the ability to establish long-term relationships that her specialty affords.
       
"Oncologists get to know the families really well. I know the grandparents, I know the dogs. I have a really powerful sense of how all the pieces fit together, and I like the sense of being able to make a difference in terms of how people face very challenging times."
       
Those challenges were part of the attraction when she chose to concentrate in hematology/oncology, she said. "I went into this because it was intellectually exciting, because I admired the people who were doing this, and because I like taking care of whole people and melding cutting-edge science with clinical care. Over the course of my career, I've seen a very significant number of completely new entities described. I've actually described three of them myself. And that's fun."
       
As an educator, Dr. Shurin has advised master's degree and Ph.D. students. She teaches hematology to second-year medical students, in the classroom and in small groups. She also works with the third-year medical students who do a month of inpatient training on the pediatric hematology/oncology unit of the hospital. "A huge piece of what we do is the art of communicating with people. Often that means giving people bad news," she said. "The students rotating through are very much an integral part of our team. We want to be graduating students who have all the factual knowledge they need, but we're also trying to make sure they learn how to be humane doctors."
       
She's passing along wisdom to future researchers and clinicians, fully aware that her own education never stops. "I learn something from every patient I see-and a lot from some of them," she said.
       
Some of the patients from whom Dr. Shurin learns are those she meets because the hospital is a member of the Children's Oncology Group, a national cooperative clinical research group. Dr. Shurin is chair of the group's bioethics committee. The group refines promising or proven treatments for childhood cancers. "Most of the kids we take care of are treated on protocols designed to provide the optimum therapy and collect information so we continue to make advances," she said. "And if we already have very good therapies for some of these diseases, then we try to diminish the side effects or shorten the duration of treatment." She is an active member of and director of pediatric activities in the CWRU comprehensive cancer center, "comprehensive" being the highest classification among National Cancer Institute-designated cancer centers.
       
That advances in the field come relatively quickly is exciting to Dr. Shurin. "In the 24 years I have been here, the management of many hematologic disorders has been transformed,' she said. "We have gone from bench to bedside and back again several times. The clinical work stimulates the laboratory, and vice versa. I have seen formerly incurable diseases routinely cured. Children who formerly would have died of complications that are now preventable are sending me pictures of their children. This really keeps you going!"
       
In addition to her bioethics work with the cancer group, Dr. Shurin is chair of a Data Safety and Monitoring Board for a pediatric study at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. "The best science is also the most humane science. No experiment is good if it does not optimally protect its subjects," she said. "Much of what I am involved in is an attempt to optimize medical care and enhance the standards of care we offer, which is crucially important in national networks of clinical research."
       
Dr. Shurin also is very active outside the hospital room, lab and classroom. At CWRU, she is immediate past chair of the university's Faculty Senate, has served on several search committees for key personnel, and has served on and chaired the medical school's Faculty Council. She's also served on numerous hospital committees. She is chief of the division of pediatric hematology/ oncology at Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital, with administrative responsibilities for running the clinical service, and developing the careers of faculty colleagues and postdoctoral trainees.
       
Her leadership experience and potential was recognized in 2000-2001 when she was selected to participate in the Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine program for women. The prestigious national program, for women who aspire to be deans or department chairs or to hold other senior leadership positions at academic medical centers, is a chance to learn new skills and meet similarly accomplished women.
       
Dr. Shurin also is active in numerous professional organizations related to her field. She is a member of the board of trustees of the local and state chapters of the American Cancer Society and chairs or serves on several committees within several other organizations.
       
She is a reviewer for several medical journals and serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology. She is the author of numerous journal articles, abstracts and other publications.


Laura Siminoff, Ph.D.
Professor of Bioethics, Medicine and Epidemiology

       When Laura Siminoff was a young child, her grandfather died of cancer. "At the time, people did not say the 'c' word, and they certainly did not speak to young children about cancer, so I was told very little," she said. "He just went off and then died and was gone. That made a lasting impression on me, which was that keeping people in the dark doesn't necessarily help people feel better, and it doesn't necessarily help them cope with serious illness. I have a feeling that that very traumatic experience stayed with me, and when I went into the field of public health, I became very interested in this issue."
       
Today, Dr. Siminoff's research seeks to ease the health care experience for breast cancer patients making decisions about post-surgery treatment and families trying to decide whether to donate the organs of loved ones. She is a perennial "Million Dollar Professor," bringing in more than $1 million a year in research funding from sources such as the National Institutes of Health.
       
About her work related to women choosing treatment for breast cancer following surgery, she said, "What we're finding is that patients want to try to make decisions that are in line with their own personal beliefs and preferences and values, but that they need really specific information, the sort of information that an oncologist would have but that tends not to be very accessible to patients because it tends to be complicated.
       
"We've developed a decision guide to try to make that information easier for patients to understand and easier for physicians to share. We're looking at sharing prognostic information, very specific numbers, with patients so they can partner more with their physicians and decide what they want to do with that information." Doing so helps physicians as well as patients, she said. "When we do that, we find that patients are more satisfied with their decisions and tend to stick with their decisions rather than starting treatment and then changing their minds."
       
A request from an administrator at another institution led Dr. Siminoff to do 15 years' worth of research related to organ procurement. Dr. Siminoff was asked whether she could determine why the organ donation level was so low at the institution at which she worked at the time.
       
"We did a very small study, and we found a very strange thing--well, at the time it seemed strange: most of the families who were asked to donate refused to do so," she said. "We thought, 'Well that's strange, because everybody tells us that everybody wants to donate, that it's just a matter of asking them.'" A subsequent large study verified the smaller study's findings, however.
       
Attracted to CWRU because of its top-rated bioethics and cancer centers, Dr. Siminoff came to Cleveland and completed another large study to determine the reasons people refused to donate. The results of that study were published in the July 4 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
       
The research found that "people who had some sort of discussion with their family members ahead of time were much more likely to donate," Dr. Siminoff said. "It may have been a large discussion, such as 'I checked my license and I want to be a donor,' or it could have been something more casual in which somebody said, 'Listen to this news report about somebody who needs an organ. If I were ever in a situation where I could donate, I'd like to do it.' We found that having those discussions is very, very important."
       
The study also found that families had questions about whether there was a cost involved with organ donation (there is no cost to the family), whether they still would be able to have an open-casket funeral if organs were donated (they would, since no disfigurement is involved with organ donation), and whether they could tailor the donations (they can designate which organs to take).
       
"The research also has shown that it's not enough to just ask people to donate organs, that the process we use is very important," Dr. Siminoff said, "and we found that organ procurement organization staff are probably better people to be having these discussions with families rather than physicians and nurses." She and her colleagues now are planning a randomized controlled trial of an intervention "to see whether we can put together a process that will make a difference."
       
Making a difference is the bottom line of her work. "There's a saying that the cure is worse than the disease, and I think that can happen in medicine. I think we need research that will ameliorate that as much as possible. I'm hopeful that the work I do will help improve people's quality of life and help improve their experiences as they go through the health care system."
       
Dr. Siminoff was selected to participate in the national Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine Program for Women for the 2001-2002 academic year. The prestigious national program, for women who aspire to be deans or department chairs or to hold other senior leadership positions at academic medical centers, is a chance to learn new skills and meet similarly accomplished women.
       
She is a member of the American Public Health Association, the Society for Clinical Trials, the National Women's Health Network, the Society for Medical Decision-Making, the Association for Health Services Research, the American Society of Bioethics and Humanities, and the American Gerontological Society. She is on the editorial boards of the Journal of Transplant Coordination and Progress in Transplantation and is a referee for numerous journals.
       
Dr. Siminoff has made lasting contributions to her field by authored or co-authored journal articles, books and other publications; delivering lectures at the university and elsewhere around the country; and mentoring those pursuing master's and doctoral degrees as well as fellow faculty members. She directs the doctoral program in bioethics at the Center for Biomedical Ethics based at the medical school, and she is director of the prevention research educational postdoctoral training program based at the comprehensive cancer center of CWRU and University Hospitals of Cleveland.
       
She is a study section member for several national organizations related to cancer and health services research and has been a member of several committees at the medical school.


Lynn Singer, Ph.D.
Interim Provost and University Vice President, and Professor of Pediatrics,
CWRU, and Staff Psychologist, Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital

       April 16, Lynn Singer, Ph.D., was named vice provost for planning and assessment at Case Western Reserve University.
       
The Office of the Provost, as the chief academic budget and operating office for the university, provides leadership to support the scholarly enterprise of the university and plans and implements academic programs. The principal duties of Dr. Singer's newly created position include institutional planning involving resource allocation and policy assessment and development; evaluating the structure and staffing of the university's School of Graduate Studies; coordinating activities related to the university's new ad hoc Committee on Postdoctoral Researchers; and implementing strategies to help ensure the university's continued accreditation.
       
Dr. Singer, whose titles, in addition to the ones listed at the top of this page, also include professor of psychiatry at CWRU and associate medical staff member at University Hospitals of Cleveland and MetroHealth Medical Center, planned to work half-time in this newly created position while fulfilling the responsibilities of her other roles at the university's School of Medicine and its affiliated hospitals. April 27, however, CWRU's president, David H. Auston, Ph.D., resigned and Provost James W. Wagner, Ph.D., was named interim president, leaving Dr. Singer alone in the Office of the Provost.
       
"I have to laugh when I remember that I was originally worried about taking this position because I was afraid it would be too bureaucratic and boring," she said. In light of the unforeseen events, Dr. Singer has increased her commitment to the Office of the Provost but noted that the experienced administrative staff of the office has been of great assistance. She has been able to continue her medical research by working nights and weekends and with the help of the co-investigators and coordinators of her two major studies, including Bob Arendt, Ph.D., assistant professor of pediatrics; Betsy Short, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology; Sonia Minnes, Ph.D., senior research associate; and Sarah Fulton.
       
Of her work in the Office of the Provost, Dr. Singer said, "Everything I am doing is exciting right now. Particularly challenging and fun for me has been having the chance to speak out 'at the table' on women's issues such as equity in hiring and promotions for female faculty, especially in the sciences. I am particularly concerned that we have only two endowed chairs held by women faculty in the medical school, out of a total of 60, and we must make efforts to increase the numbers of women on the tenure track and at senior levels within the university. CWRU has only 37 percent women undergraduates, and we know that to attract women students, we need to have role models on the faculty.
       
"Working through the issues related to hospital affiliations and, especially, trying to represent the concerns and interests of faculty, is gratifying. Becoming acquainted with parts of the university that I had little or no contact with in the past--for example, engineering, tech transfer activities, the business school, and members of the board of trustees--has left me awed by their talents, accomplishments and hard work. The undergraduate initiative to transform the educational and social experiences of CWRU students was also very appealing."
       
When she's not working in the Office of the Provost, Dr. Singer focuses her medical research on high-risk infancy conditions. "Over the last decade, my collaborators and I have been investigating the developmental sequelae of bronchopulmonary dysplasia, a chronic lung disease of prematurity, as well as the implications of caring for the high-risk, very low birth weight infant for the family," she said. "I have focused on the effects of very low birth weight birth on maternal psychological status and its impact on the developing infant. We have demonstrated that very low birth weight birth results in significant psychological stress for mothers and that mothers whose infants have significant disabilities are at high risk for significant depression.
       
"The other major focus of my work has been a longitudinal study of cocaine-exposed infants, whom we have now followed until six years of age," she continued. "Over time, we have come to recognize that fetal exposure to various substances, whether drug abuse or pesticides, or even prescribed drugs, may affect fetal brain development and have long-term implications."
       
As she does with her provost-office work, Dr. Singer enjoys affecting policy changes through her research. "What excites me most from my work as a scientist is the realization that you can make a difference with your research," she said. "It is really very important that we as a society examine issues systematically. When others write you and you see that your work may actually be influencing the development of policies, it's exciting. I recently received a letter from a neonatologist who is also the mother of a very low birth weight infant who wrote to me about how accurately our descriptions of the responses of mothers in the neonatal intensive care unit were."
       
Dr. Singer also is the principal investigator of a new National Institutes of Health-funded longitudinal study to assess the effects of MDMA ("ecstacy") on infants with investigators from the University of East London in Great Britain. She serves on two data safety and monitoring boards at the NIH's Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and is a reviewer for journals such as Pediatrics, the New England Journal of Medicine, and the Journal of the American Medical Association. Another major accomplishment, which occurred this summer, was serving as senior editor of a new book, Biobehavioral Assessment of the Infant.


Medical Bulletin, Vol. 7, No. 2, 2001/2002
© Case Western Reserve University