In this edition of Research Connections, find links to researchers in the news, updates on important deadlines, and more news for University of Rochester researchers. Email not displaying correctly?
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Images of research

This image from the lab of Minsoo Kim, Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology and of the Center for Vacccine Biology and Immunology, shows the crystal structure of human activated protein C (rhAPC), which has proven effective in combating sepsis. Sepsis in its severe stages -- associated with acute organ dysfunction -- is an increasing cause of death and an increasing challenge in critical care. Exactly why rhAPC is effective is not clear, and is the subject of several studies in Kim's lab. One theory is that rhAPC stems the abnormal flow of neutrophils, a type of white blood cells, into the affected area, which can occur when certain integrins of immune cells are not properly regulated. A better understanding of the role of APC in sepsis could be useful in the design of new therapeutic approaches.

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Institute for Data Science gets major support

In his Faculty Senate Speech on Tuesday, President Joel Seligman reiterated that Data Science is the University's top priority for the 2013-18 strategic plans that were adopted by the Board of Trustees in October. "This research field has emerged as one of the defining disciplines of the 21st century," Seligman noted. "The University of Rochester intends to be among the world's leading institutions in this rapidly accelerating discipline, focusing on health threat early warning systems, reducing the cost of health care and cardiac modeling, among other specifically defined areas."

That effort received a major boost recently with the announcement of $17 million in gifts from the Wegman Family Charitable Foundation, of which $10 million will provide the lead gift for a new Institute for Data Science. In addition, New York State in its recently enacted budget named the Institute for Data Science a Center of Excellence and provided in next year's budget $872,333 for next year, with the expectation that this will continue as annual support.

"In the next five years, we intend to hire 20 new faculty in computational science and applied fields, including biostatistics, psychiatry, physics, and political science," Seligman said. "We will also continue to acquire cutting-edge technology and build a new $25 million facility to house our Institute for Data Science."

To date, the University has spent approximately $50 million on this project thanks in part to New York State support for UR's Health Sciences Center for Computational Innovation, which has enabled more than 650 faculty, students and research staff and 100 principal investigators to use high performance computing and generated over $300 million during the past three years.

Gift from UR staffers supports orthopaedics research

Several years ago, Seth Zeidman, a neurosurgeon who is a member of Highland Hospital's medical staff, had a serious bicycle accident while riding along the Erie Canal. In addition to a broken arm and significant blood loss, he suffered a heart attack. Zeidman credits Stephen L. Kates, the Hansjörg Wyss Professor in the Department of Orthopaedics who cared for him that day, with discovering the heart attack and saving his life, as well as helping him regain the mobility he needed to continue his career as a surgeon. Zeidman and Eva K. Pressman, Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Henry A. Thiede Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, recently pledged a gift of $750,000 for orthopaedics research at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

"Their gift is a wonderful way to honor the care that Seth received at Highland as well as our stellar orthopaedics research program at the University," said Steven I. Goldstein, president and CEO of UR Medicine's Strong Memorial Hospital and Highland Hospital.

The couple, who joined the University in 1999, is committed to supporting the pioneering work being done by the Center for Musculoskeletal Research (CMSR), which is part of the University's Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation; their ultimate goal is to fund the Department's Stephen L. Kates Professorship in Orthopaedics.

Consent quandaries: Working with the deaf

(One in a series of postings examining ethical dilemmas in obtaining informed consent from human research subjects, explored at the recent 2014 CTSI symposium "Ethics in Research: Consent Quandaries.")

A hospital patient suffering from end-stage leukemia was asked for his consent to be administered blood products, by an oncologist giving the same presentation any other patient would get.

The problem, however, was that this was not just any other patient.

The man was deaf, and fortunately the sign language interpreter assigned to the case quickly sent for Robert Pollard, Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the Deaf Wellness Center.

Because deaf people are deprived of so many the auditory channels that inform our world, they typically have a much smaller fund of factual information to draw upon than hearing people, Pollard explained. In the case of the leukemia patient, "all he knew was that blood is the red liquid that comes out of your body when you have a cut. He had no idea what a cell was, much less a white blood cell, or what leukemia was, or the life and death consequences of the decision he was being asked to make."

Pollard spent several hours going over "Biology 101" with the man in order to "get his fund of information up to the level that he could make an informed decision."

Research studies that involve deaf people as subjects -- or people from any other language or cultural minority group -- pose challenges that researchers must recognize and respond to. They should do so in close collaboration with the entire community from which the subjects are drawn, Pollard said.

That may require modifying the informed consent process itself.

For example, Pollard and a team of researchers are embarking on a study to test a novel "dialogic" approach that the National Center for Deaf Health Research has been using to obtain consent among deaf participants in research studies. The key points of a consent form are incorporated into a scripted story line that can be enacted on videotape by deaf actors using American Sign Language (ASL) to portray researchers explaining their study to potential study subjects.

The study, funded by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences and the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, will involve 144 subjects, who will be given consent forms in three different ways: the standard written form, a videotape of an ASL interpreter presenting the information, and a dialogic film about the key learning points of a consent form.

The dialogic approach is based on the belief that deaf ASL users learn best when information is conveyed through discussions.

"When you go to a meeting at a Deaf Club, and there's a lecture on something, it is never a monologue. It's a vibrant dialogue with people from the audience asking questions," Pollard noted.

Even the dialogic approach, however, may fail to address the challenge posed by deaf people who lack not only reading skills, but fluency in sign language, Pollard added.

Because deaf children are often raised by hearing parents who have little or no training in ASL, "you can't presume deaf people will be fluent in sign language," Pollard explained. "That judgment has to come from people who are fluent --and hopefully will be on your team."

Cornell, UR release RFA for new collaborative pilot program

Cornell University and the University of Rochester have announced a new joint collaborative pilot program. The purpose of this Pilot Award Program is to promote new inter-institutional, multidisciplinary collaborations in the domain area of "Immunity and Infection." The pilot award will be granted for one year and includes up to $50,000 in total funding, allocated 50/50 between the two sites. Deadline for applications is May 2. Click here for more information and to view the full RFA.

Congratulations to . . .

Kenneth Gross, a Renaissance scholar and Professor of English, who was installed as the inaugural holder of the Alan F. Hilfiker Distinguished Professorship in English.

Robert McCrory, Vice President and Vice Provost, Director of the Laboratory for Laser Energetics, and Professor of Mechanical Engineering and of Physics and Astronomy, who was appointed a University Professor in recognition of his contributions to the physics and engineering community, the Laboratory for Laser Energetics and to the University in general.

Riccardo Betti, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and of Physics and Astronomy, who was named the inaugural Robert L. McCrory Professor.

UR research in the news

The disturbing imagery or violent storylines of video games like World of Warcraft or Grand Theft Auto are often accused of fostering feelings of aggression in players. But a new study shows hostile behavior is linked to gamers' experiences of failure and frustration during play -- not to a game's violent content. Richard Ryan, a motivational psychologist at the University of Rochester, is a coauthor of the study, which is the first to look at the player's psychological experience with video games instead of focusing solely on its content. Researchers found that failure to master a game and its controls led to frustration and aggression, regardless of whether the game was violent or not. The findings of the study were published online in the March edition of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

African Americans and Latinos are the segments of society most likely to forget when they had their last screening programs like mammogram, Pap smear, or cholesterol test, a new study involving University of Rochester researchers finds. Lead author Kevin Fiscella, a Professor in the Department of Family Medicine and at the Cancer Center, said he is not sure why the discrepancy in reporting exists. One theory supported by social psychology research is that African American or Latino patients may feel some pressure to defy stereotypes. So, when doctors or nurses ask them about an event for which they are uncertain, they err on the side of caution and reply affirmatively, he said.

A $23 million grant from the National Institutes of Health will support a new Phase 3 clinical trial to evaluate the drug isradipine as a potential new treatment for Parkinson's disease. The study is being co-lead by the University of Rochester and Northwestern University. "This new study will determine whether the drug can be an effective tool in slowing the progression of the disease and could, thereby, complement existing symptomatic treatments and improve the quality of life of individuals with the disease," said Kevin Biglan, a UR neurologist and co-principal investigator of the study.

Upcoming Ph.D. defenses, lectures

Marzieh Bazrafshan, Computer Science, "Semantic Features for Statistical Machine Translation," Monday, April 14, 11 a.m., CSB 601. Advisor: Daniel Gildea.

Amalia Dache-Gerbino, Warner School, "The Labyrinth in the Metropole: A Postcolonial Mixed-Method Study of College Access and Choice," Monday, April 14, 1 p.m., LeChase Hall 215. Advisor: Judy Marquez Kiyama.

Joseph Henderson, Warner School, "'Not for Everyone, but Kind of Amazing': Institutional Friction and the Nature of Sustainability Education," Monday, April 14, 4 p.m., LeChase Hall 215. Advisor: David Hursh.

Irina Statnikova, Neuroscience, "GPi is Involved at Multiple Levels in Selection and Inhibition of Competing Motor Behaviors," Monday, April 14, 9 a.m.. Aud. K-307 (3-6408). Advisor: Jonathan Mink.

Zhuang Hou, Mathematics, "Blow-up Properties of Stochastic Delay Differential Equations," Tuesday, April 15, 3 p.m., Hylan 1106A. Advisor: Carl Mueller.

Emily Martinez-Vogt, Warner School, "Navigating the Transition to Community College: Understanding the Perceptions and Strategies Related to Latina Experiences," Tuesday, April 15, 11 a.m., LeChase Hall 215. Advisor: Judy Marquez Kiyama.

Jennifer George, Warner School, "The Influence of Gender Role Attitudes on the Romantic Relationships and Future Aspirations of Rural Youth," Wednesday, April 16, 1 p.m., LeChase Hall 481. Advisor: Dena Phillips Swanson.

Sadie Gorman, Toxicology, "Mice lacking the organic solute transporter Osta-Ostb have altered lipid and glucose homeostasis," Wednesday, April 16, 10 a.m., Aud. K-307 (3-6408). Advisor: Patricia M. Hinkle.

Alex Kuczynski, Eastman School, "From Diminution to Autonomous Themes in Schenkerian Theory," Friday, April 18, Noon, Room Annex 710. Advisor: Jonathan Dunsby.

Merry Pullolickal Mani, Electrical and Computer Engineering, "Acceleration of High Angular and Spatial Resolution Diffusion Imaging," Thursday, May 1, 2 p.m., CSB 426. Advisor: Jianhui Zhong.

Mark your calendar

April 15: Deadline for pre-proposal applications for next round of awards from the Technology Development Fund. For more information contact the TDF Fund Manager, Omar Bakht, call direct at (585) 276-6610 or visit the website.

April 18: HIV/STD Mini-Residency Program for Clinicians, a free training seminar, will provide clinicians with experience in the diagnosis and treatment of HIV and other Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs). The program will include a four-hour seminar in the morning followed by a four-hour period of clinical observation that will be completed at the participant's convenience. Contact Tom Della Porta or call (585) 275-7655.

April 18: A Center for Integrated Research Computing (CIRC) symposium. Juilee Thakar, Assistant Professor of Microbiology and Immunology and of Biostatistics and Computational Biology , will demonstrate the use of Boolean networks in immunology and discuss their computational complexity. Brendan Mort, Director of the Center for Integrated Research Computing, will give a summary of the capabilities of the new BlueHive 2 computing cluster, an update on the timeline of its deployment, and its capabilities for research. Pizza and soda will be served during the event.

April 25: Conversation & Book Signing with Joanne Larson, the Michael W. Scandling Professor of Education at the Warner School, author of Radical Equality in Education: Starting Over in U.S. Schooling, 7 to 8:30 p.m., Writers & Books, 740 University Ave. Free and open to the public. (Checks are requested for book purchases.)

April 25: International experts in infectious diseases and vaccine development gather to honor their colleague and collaborator, Caroline Breese Hall. Join the Department of Pediatrics for a Festschrift involving a full day of scientific talks and discussions. See Schedule of Events.

May 1: Deadlline to apply to the Institute for Innovative Education for grants of up to $5,000 each to support interprofessional research projects that examine how electronic health records can be used to improve access to information and foster and improve humanistic patient interactions. Click here for complete details.

Please send suggestions and comments to Bob Marcotte. To see back issues, click here.

Copyright 2013, All rights reserved.
Rochester Connections is a weekly e-newsletter for all faculty, scientists, post docs and graduate students engaged in research at the University of Rochester. You are receiving this e-newsletter because you are a member of the Rochester community with an interest in research topics.