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In the Headlines

December 2014

UPI (December 24)

Naked mole rat, star of cancer research, honored by science journal

naked mole rat The naked mole rat isn't going to win any beauty contests but has been named Vertebrate of the Year by a leading scientific magazine. Thanks largely to the work of two University of Rochester biologists, Science Magazine, one of the world's leading journals on scientific research and news, has bestowed the honor on the naked mole rats, saying the long-living, subterranean rodents "may hold a lesson or two for humans" when it comes to warding off cancer.

(Also reported in:, News Track India, Siasat Daily, Zee News, Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, Cambodian Times )

New York Times (December 20)

Music and Success

boy playing violinDOES music make you smarter? Year after year, researchers report associations between children's participation in music classes and better grades, higher SAT scores and elevated cognitive skills. It's also well known that many successful adults played instruments as children. On the basis of such evidence, you might assume that music education helped cause such positive outcomes. Samuel Mehr, a graduate of the Eastman School of Music, is a doctoral candidate at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. (December 26)

Is it safe for pregnant women to eat peanuts?

peanuts"Certainly this is reassurance that eating nuts during pregnancy will not increase your child's risk of allergy," Dr. Loralei Thornburg said. "In fact, it may be tied to a decreased risk of nut allergies." Thornburg was not involved in the new study but is a high-risk pregnancy expert at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York.

(Also reported in: Baltimore Sun, Huffington Post, Reuters, Chicago Tribune, WXXI, Baby, Channel 13 )

NPR (December 14, 2013),

The Nobel Prize And The Rule Of Three

Nobel Prize ceremonyThe Nobel Prize-winning theory for the Higgs boson particle was developed by six scientists. But because of the Nobel Committee's rules, only Peter Higgs and Francois Englert received the Prize. Host Scott Simon speaks with one of the other contributing scientists, professor Carl Hagen, about not winning the Nobel. But distinguished as they are, Higgs and Englert are just two of six scientists who developed the theory and because of the Nobel committees rule of three; that no single prize can go to more than three individuals, most of these scientists missed out on winning the Nobel, including Carl Hagen, a University of Rochester physics professor.

ABC News (December 25)

Best and Worst Health Trends of 2013

marathon runnersBest and Worst Health Trends of 2013 Best: Fun runs Whether it involves running through foam-covered obstacles or getting splattered with colored powder, fun runs have it right: Fun is the ultimate motivator, according to Edward L. Deci, PhD, a motivational researcher and professor of psychology at the University of Rochester. People who work out for the pure joy of working out rather than for a result (think: lose those last five pounds) actually stick with workouts longer and reap better results, he says. So grab your girlfriends and sign up! (See slide 3)

NPR (December 23)

Screening Newborns For Disease Can Leave Families In Limbo

newborn's feet in hospital bassinetThey went to the University of Rochester Medical Center, where a neurologist, Dr. Jennifer Kwon, had their lab results. She told them that what was seen in Vera's DNA probably meant she was just a carrier who did not actually have the disease.

(Also reported in: WFSU Newsroom, WNYC, WGBH, NPR Berlin, WRVO, NewYorkNow, North Country Public Radio, WAMC, WSHU, WPPB, WNPR, WAER )

The Atlantic Cities (December 20)

Why Cities Can't Win in State Government

state capitol and cowboy statueBut an important new study provides the numbers to back them up. Despite having overwhelming advantage in terms of the size of their populations, the nation's biggest cities are typically hamstrung by their state legislatures. The study, by political scientists Gerald Gamm of University of Rochester and Thad Kousser of University of California San Diego, tracks how much worse big-city legislators have been historically at getting their way in state politics.

The Wall Street Journal (December 16)

Relationship Talking Points: Speak Your Spouse's Language

man and womanThere are no categorical differences between the sexes in areas such as sexual attitudes and behaviors, personality and social orientation (whether men are more aggressive or women more caring, for example), according to a re-analysis of 13 studies on the psychological characteristics of men and women published earlier this year in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. "Men and women are much more similar than they are fundamentally different," says Harry T. Reis, a researcher on the study and professor of psychology at the University of Rochester. Yet men and women often express themselves in what can seem like predictably different ways.

News Tonight (December 26)

What Does Compassion Sound Like?

Researchers are on tenterhooks to produce a behavioral catalog which would be emotionally helpful for patients and make doctors compassionate while dealing with them. The catalog will guide medical training and education by breaking down the discourse and analyzing the context. As many as 23 oncologists has been employed by senior investigator Ronald Epstein, M.D., professor of Family Medicine, Psychiatry, Oncology, and Nursing and director of the UR Center for Communication and Disparities Research and his team. These 23 oncologists were from a range of private and hospital-based oncology clinics in the Rochester, New York area.

(Also reported in: Reuters Health, Science Daily, Futurity, Syracuse Post-Standard, Batavia Daily News, )

The Wall Street Journal (December 6)

Detroit's Emergency Manager Weighs Pension-Fund Takeover

This city's emergency manager, in the midst of reorganizing the finances of America's most troubled large city, is threatening to take over one of Detroit's pension funds after a report found that retirees received extra payments while the funds lost value. "When workers in Chicago and L.A. realize that their pension benefits are no longer inviolate, unions are going to say what they really want is not bigger benefits but better funding. And that's going to put enormous pressure on current budgets," said Robert Novy-Marx, associate professor of finance at the Simon Business School at the University of Rochester.

(Also reported in: Los Angeles Times, U.S. News & World Report , Detroit Free Press, Fox Business)

U.S. News & World Report (December 3)

Students Compete for MBA Scholarships in the Simon Games

Beginning Feb. 10, 2014, MBA degree seekers will have a chance to compete in the Simon Games, according to the business school's website. There's a lot at stake in the Simon Games, an online business simulation competition. The grand prize is a full-tuition scholarship worth more than $90,000 to the Simon Business School's full-time, part-time or executive MBA program. To earn any one of these scholarships, competitors must first put their business skills to the test. Those who accept Simon's challenge will step into the role of chief executive officer and make business decisions that will affect the success of a fictional company. The Simon Games run for seven weeks.

Forbes (December 29)

The Top Ten Brain Science And Psychology Studies Of 2013

1. How the Brain Takes Out Its Trash While We Sleep In 2013, layers were peeled back from two interrelated mysteries: the function of sleep, and how the brain removes its waste byproducts. While it's been known for some time that the brain doesn't directly use the body's lymphatic system (our body-wide filtering and waste removal system) to dump its toxic waste, the mechanism that it does use wasn't identified until 2012. The research team that made this discovery was led by University of Rochester neurosurgeon, Maiken Nedergaard, who dubbed the brain's waste-removal mechanism the "glymphatic system."

Detroit News (December 10)

Just what is social media telling scientists?

Tweets for safe eats: Scientists at the University of Rochester found that by analyzing tweets from New York City diners, they could figure out how likely you were to contract food poisoning if you patronized a particular restaurant.

Rochester Business Journal (December 5)

Corneal surgeon pledges $4M for URMC professorships

James Aquavella M.D. has pledged $4 million to support two University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry endowed professorships, officials said Thursday. Aquavella is a David and Ilene Flaum Eye Institute corneal surgeon and UR ophthalmology professor. The Catherine E. Aquavella Distinguished Professorship in Ophthalmology honors Aquavella's late wife, who as a nurse, educator and administrator played a role in establishing UR's Flaum Eye Institute. The pledge also supports creation of the James V. Aquavella M.D. Professorship in Ophthalmology.

Rochester Business Journal (December 20)

Holcomb's tenure oversaw key architectural inventions

When University of Rochester president Rush Rhees and philanthropist Emily Sibley Watson dedicated the Memorial Art Gallery in 1913, it was one of the most striking works of architecture in the region. The Italian Renaissance-style building was constructed when the Prince Street site was still UR's original campus. What was then a free-standing, 14,000-square-foot structure was designed by the New York firm of Foster, Gade & Graham. "Favorite son" architect Claude Bragdon had a hand in the design and went on to design many of our local landmarks, including the First Universalist Church and Union Station, which has since been demolished.

Rochester Democrat & Chronicle (December 14)

Loss reverberates at music school

Its inhabitants consider it a small town. The Eastman School of Music. Population about 1,275. "There's a deeply tangible sense of community within this school," Dean Jamal Rossi said Wednesday. "Whenever there is a loss, it reverberates through the entire school." Last weekend that loss was Tatiana Tchekina. The magnificent arc of her life began 69 years ago in Moscow, covered years as a renowned musician and teacher working under difficult politics, then immigration and a new life in America. Where, says Tchekina's friend and co-worker Jean Barr, her students regarded her as "teacher, mentor, mother figure." "She was one of the world's leading experts on string and violin music," said Rossi, marveling at Tchekina's ability to play a piece without consulting the sheet music. "She knew all of the repertoire by memory."

(Also reported in: Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, WXXI, 13WHAM-TV, WHEC-TV, YNN, WROC-TV, WROC-TV, Arts Journal ) (December 26)

Philly Inmates Speak Out About Religious Life in "Down in the Chapel"

"Down in the Chapel: Religious Life in an American Prison" (FSG; $14.99-$30) tells the story of one week at Graterford Prison. Joshua Dubler, an assistant professor of religion at the University of Rochester, shares how the men at Graterford pass their time, care for themselves and commune with their makers. We observe a variety of Muslims, Protestants, Catholics and others, at prayer and in study and song. And we listen in as an interloping scholar of religion tries to make sense of it all in one of the most religiously vibrant places in America: a state penitentiary.

Celebrity Parents Magazine (December 30)

How To Help Kids Cope With Grief During the Holidays

The holidays should be a joyous time of year for everyone. However, the holiday season is often a challenging time for children who have suffered a loss in their life. School counseling expert Bonnie Rubenstein, EdD, associate professor at the University of Rochester's Warner School of Education, says that the stretch between October and January becomes a downward spiral of grief for bereaved children. "Everywhere you go, there are constant reminders of the upcoming holidays," she says, "and as a result children have grief bursts of sadness and sorrow around the holidays."

Christian Science Monitor (December 12)

Auto sector pumps November retail sales, but holiday season still a question

"The good news is that things are on an uptick, but the bad news is, it's not much of an uptick, and it's certainly not something to write home about given historical precedence," says Clifford Smith, a professor of finance and economics at the Simon Business School at the University of Rochester in New York. Besides their increased purchases of autos and auto parts, consumers felt freed up in November to spend more on furniture (1.2 percent), electronics and appliances (1.1 percent), and building materials and garden equipment (1.8 percent).

YNN (December 7)

Batten Disease Conference Studies Moving to Phase 3 Trials

Researchers and clients met at the University of Rochester Medical Center Saturday to discuss the transition of a crippling and rare disease from lab research, to patient trials. Juvenile Batten Disease first causes blindness in early childhood, then breaks down cognitive and motor skills. The disease ultimately results in death in the late teens or twenties.

WHAM 1180 (December 16)

SMH Liver Recipient, Volunteer to Ride Rose Parade Float

Rochester, NY -- An area man who has lived ten years with a donated liver will take part in the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California, on New Year's Day. Richard Perez will ride on the "Donate Life" float and will represent the University of Rochester's Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network and Solid Organ Transplant Program. Perez's experience as a liver recipient led him to volunteer at Strong Memorial Hospital to help and support other transplant patients.

(Also reported in: WHCU )

Rochester Democrat & Chronicle (December 30)

UR economist who helped end U.S. draft dies

Walter Y. Oi was a distinguished economist who never let his loss of eyesight stand in the way of important achievements. Mr. Oi, 84, who spent 41 years on the faculty of the University of Rochester, died Tuesday at the Friendly Home after a long illness. (Also reported in: WHAM 1180, The Washington Times )

Rochester Democrat & Chronicle (December 13)

Finger Lakes council to seek guidance from Albany

"We always learn by listening," Joel Seligman, president of the University of Rochester and co-chairman of the regional council, which represents nine counties in the Rochester region, including Monroe County, said in a statement. "Last year, we modified our plan based on feedback we received from the state, and we will again ask the state review team to detail what can be done in future years to strengthen our plan." In this week's annual ceremony in Albany, the Finger Lakes once again was an also-ran in the competition for millions in state largesse. This year, the take was far lower. The region did not win a top-performer award, thus missing out on an extra $25 million in state funds, and was awarded $59.8 million for designated projects, nearly $40 million less than last year.

WXXI (December 18)

Medical Marijuana and its Safety

The State Assembly's Health Committee has scheduled hearings today on legislation that would legalize the medical use of marijuana for patients with debilitating or life-threatening conditions. Dr. Timothy Wiegand, head of Toxicology at the University of Rochester Medical Center, says more research is needed on the efficacy of marijuana for medical use. Dr. Wiegand says many existing studies are incomplete. "There may not be control groups, they're based on self reports, the patient population is experienced cannabis users. That said, there is some favorable research, particularly in cancer, looking at nausea, anorexia or some side effects from treatment or medications used to treat side effects."

WXXI News (December 17)

NAACP President To Speak At The University Of Rochester

The outgoing president of the NAACP will deliver the University of Rochester's Martin Luther King Jr. commemorative address next month. He will speak on Friday, January 24 at the Strong Auditorium on the River Campus. Jealous will talk about the tradition of leadership that connects Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr., Shirley Chisholm, Frederick Douglass and others to inspire young people to change the world. The annual address kicks off the U of R's Black History Month celebration.

Alaska Dispatch (December 6)

What's that Jupiter-like thing doing so far afield from nearest star?

Astronomers have discovered a super Jupiter in a record-smashing orbit for a sun-like star, far outside the disk of dust and debris that rings the star and that typically gives rise to planets. The star HD 106906 is only 13 million years old. Where HD 106906b resides, at 530 AU from the estimated outer edge of the debris disk encircling the nearest star, there isn't enough material to build an 11 Jupiter-mass planet within that time span, if at all, explains Eric Mamajek, an astronomer at the University of Rochester in Rochester, N.Y., and a member of the team reporting the results.

WXXI News (December 19)

New Guidelines for Treatment of High Blood Pressure

They call it the "silent killer". Blood pressure can cause strokes, heart attacks, and kidney failure. And today, an expert panel is recommending a change in how older patients are treated. Dr. John Bisognano, cardiologist at the University of Rochester Medical Center, says after pouring through mounds of data, the experts concluded that the threshold for drug therapy could be relaxed for older patients. More aggressive treatment can sometimes cause fainting or falling.

(Also reported in: MedPage Today)

NewsRX (December 19)

University of Rochester: Figures of 8 and peanut shells: How stars move at the center of the Galaxy

Previous explanations suggested that the stars that form the bulge are in banana-like orbits, but a paper published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society suggests that the stars probably move in peanut-shell or figure of eight-shaped orbits instead. In the new paper Alice Quillen, professor of astronomy at the University of Rochester, and her collaborators created a mathematical model of what might be happening at the centre of the Milky Way. Unlike the Solar System where most of the gravitational pull comes from the Sun and is simple to model, it is much harder to describe the gravitational field near the centre of the Galaxy, where millions of stars, vast clouds of dust, and even dark matter swirl about. In this case, Quillen and her colleagues considered the forces acting on the stars in or near the bulge.

Rochester City Newspaper (December 11)

Jazz | Eastman New Jazz Ensemble

Specializing in music of the last two decades, the Eastman School of Music's New Jazz Ensemble is one of the most innovative college jazz bands anywhere. This week's concert features the world premiere of director/conductor Dave Rivello's "Re-Imagining The World," which involves the band singing as well as playing.

Rochester Democrat & Chronicle (December 23)

URMC gets grant to work with HIV patients

The University of Rochester Medical Center received a $2 million federal grant to research how best to address racial, ethnic, education and other differences that can affect care of people with HIV.

(Also reported in: Rochester Business Journal)

Rochester Business Journal (December 6)

UR searches for pair of key leaders

The University of Rochester had gone six years without a dean transition, President Joel Seligman points out. Now the university is facing two with the planned departure of Dean Mark Zupan from the Simon School of Business and the death in October of Dean Douglas Lowry of the Eastman School of Music. "In both the Simon School and the Eastman School we had strong schools with world-class deans," Seligman said. "The processes we're now going into to find new leaders are somewhat the same and somewhat different."

(Also reported in: WHEC-TV)

WXXI (December 4)

The Search Formally Begins For A Dean Of The Eastman School Of Music

The President of the University of Rochester, Joel Seligman, says the search for a successor may look at candidates from around the world. Provost Peter Lennie will chair the search committee, and another committee that will interview final candidates will be chaired by Bob Witmer, a former chairman of the U of R Board of Trustees, and Renee Fleming, the famed soprano and Eastman School grad who grew up in Churchville, will also be on that committee. Jamal Rossi had earlier been appointed to be the dean of the Eastman School at least until the conclusion of the search.

WHEC TV NBC 10 Rochester (December 6)

Wrapping gifts for children in need

Students at the University of Rochester took the time today to help make sure others have a happy holiday. Its all part of the Simon Business Schools Secret Santa Program. Today the group held a party to wrap donated items like toys, clothes and school supplies for children in need.

Stars and Stripes (December 19)

Death rate unusually high for young veterans

Some of the same factors behind the suicide rate could also be driving accidental deaths. Researchers believe that there may be an underlying state of mind that increases the odds of both types of death. "There's a fine line between self-directed violence and ambivalence for life,” said Robert Bossarte, an epidemiologist at the University of Rochester and a suicide expert for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Heritage Foundation Press (December 5)

Why Congress Needs a New Budget Process

Just as history is the product of human choices and actions, the success or failure of any legislative procedure, including the budget process, depends on the Members of Congress themselves. Further, even if lawmakers could agree to the needed policy reforms, the disuse of regular budgeting might leave Congress with no systematic means of adopting them. Consequently, the government would continue running headlong on its unsustainable fiscal course. This could lead to what University of Rochester political scientist David M. Primo fears will be "a staggering level of government debt that will necessitate massive interest payments each year or, in the extreme, more severe consequences, such as a debt default or 'monetization of the debt' (i.e., the printing of money to pay off the debt, which will produce significant inflation).”

Rochester Democrat & Chronicle (December 21)

"Rainbow Classic” Brings Color to Future of Children's Hospital Teen Lounge

The holiday season heats up Friday night at three different venues for 10 different high school basketball teams. At the University of Rochester, the 13th Rainbow Classic will add more dollars to the $250,000 already donated over the past dozen years to Golisano Children's Hospital. The annual fund-raiser pits the varsity girls and boys teams from Pittsford Mendon and Pittsford Sutherland. The girls teams from No. 4 Sutherland and No. 8 Mendon are each ranked in the Democrat and Chronicle poll.

American School and University (December 12)

GCA Grand Award Higher Education: University of Rochester–River Campus and School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, New York

The University of Rochester River Campus and School of Medicine and Dentistry have had a green cleaning program for nine years. Though efforts have been in place for quite some time, a Sustainability Task Force was created in 2007, which eventually led to a University Council on Environmental Sustainability. The mission of this council is to "conduct an annual review of the University's progress in environmental sustainability initiatives in operational and academic areas; to establish and maintain communication vehicles for conveying the university's sustainability initiatives; and to recommend new sustainability initiatives that the University might undertake."The mission has consistently included a green cleaning program.

YNN Rochester (December 30)

Religion Professor on the Impact of Pope Francis

University of Rochester religion studies professor Curt Cadorette says Pope Francis is working to make the church more inclusive. "He's made it clear he wants the church to be transparent. He wants the church to be accessible. He wants the church to be an open institution."

Rochester Democrat & Chronicle (December 18)

Area college notebook

University of Rochester junior Alex Swanger (Penfield) has been named a Scholar All-American by the National Soccer Coaches Athletic Association. He previously was selected a Capital One Academic All-American, an NSCAA All-American and the UAA Player of the Year.

Rochester Democrat & Chronicle (December 12)

Bringing train station to life, pixel by pixel

Once an architectural masterpiece and monument to the locomotive, the city's last great train station was razed decades ago and exists today only in photographs and fading memories. Now a group at the University of Rochester hopes to re-create the station as a virtual, interactive 3-D model, layered with historical documents, letters and video testimonials. An object and an archive is how Joan Saab, UR associate professor of art history and director of visual and cultural studies, describes the undertaking. Also on the team is Joan Shelly Rubin, a history professor and UR director of American studies.

YNN (December 24)

Teen Donates Gifts For Sick Children

An Ontario County teen is helping patients at Golisano Children's Hospital have a Merry Christmas. Children battling a variety of illnesses will feel much better this Christmas because of Corin Delonge. The 17-year old went on a shopping spree to bring a smile to the faces of kids spending the holiday at Golisano Children's Hospital.

WHAM TV ABC 13 (December 11)

Xerox celebrates 75 years

What started as an experiment in a small kitchen in Astoria, New York, transformed the world and became one of the cornerstone companies of Rochester. 75 years later, Xerox is not only a household name, but is known worldwide. Tuesday, the University of Rochester recognized the works of Chester Carlson. Carlson produced the world's first electrostatic image also known as the photocopier or Xerox machine today. Each year the U of R recognizes Carlson's work. This year's exhibit showcases that first invention.

WROC TV CBS 8 Rochester (December 8)

Learning With LEGO's

Hundreds of local students learned about natural disasters through LEGO's Sunday afternoon during the first annual LEGO Leauge Championship at the University of Rochester. The goal was to teach kids about how natural events meet the places people work and live. Students were excited to build their own robotics and work as a team.

(Also reported in: YNN )

Rochester Democrat & Chronicle (December 5)

Rochester protesters call for higher minimum wage

"The minimum wage is not a livable wage. People can't survive on that; they can't support their families," said Kay Embrey of Brighton as she stood in front of the restaurant with a posterboard sign reading "Low pay is not OK. My son works 3 jobs." Raising the minimum wage, particularly to $15 an hour, "has a wonderful populist ring," said Mark Zupan, dean of the University of Rochester's Simon Business School. Meanwhile, Zupan said, raising the price of labor through a higher minimum wage would drive down demand, meaning less hiring and lower employment, and drive up prices — negating the benefit of a higher minimum wage. (December 3)

Fischer named director of public safety at UR

Mark T. Fischer of Victor has been named director of the University of Rochester's Department of Public Safety, effective Dec. 1. He succeeds Walter O. Mauldin as director, who after more than 33 years of service to the University will transition to a senior adviser role, focusing on assessment, policy, and planning. Fischer becomes director of a 134-member University force that serves a community of over 25,000 students, faculty and staff.

Rochester Democrat & Chronicle (December 4)

UR to offer unique photographic preservation degree

A master's degree program in photographic preservation and collections management will be offered as part of a collaborative effort by the University of Rochester and the George Eastman House. The program, which begins in the fall of 2014, is the only one of its kind in the nation - combining care in handling photos with academic study of images.

(Also reported in: Rochester Business Journal, WHEC-TV, WXXI News )

WROC-TV (December 31)

Are NYS dollars going to smoking cessation programs?

Anti-smoking advocates say the state needs to spend more money on programs to help smokers. New York gets about $2.5 billion a year in revenues and settlements related to smoking. According to the CDC, nearly $300 million of that money is needed to run effective anti-smoking campaigns. "We're missing an opportunity because right now we're only spending around $40 million a year," Dr. Geoffrey Williams said.

(Also reported by: Rochester Democrat & Chronicle)

WXXI (December 1)

Posters Visualize The Fight Against AIDS

To commemorate World AIDS Day December 1, some of the AIDS posters from a global online collection go on display this week at the University of Rochester's Rush Rhees library. The posters provide a visual history of the HIV/AIDS crisis from 1981 up until today.

England Daily Mail (December 17)

The 'smart bra' that could give your diet a boost: Underwear will measure wearer's mood to help prevent over-eating

Scientists have developed a 'smart bra' which can measure the wearer's mood to help prevent over-eating and potentially aid weight loss. The bra is a result of a study called Food And Mood: Just-in-Time Support For Emotional Eating, written by researchers from the University of Southampton, Microsoft Research and the University of Rochester in New York, United States.

(Also reported in: England Telegraph )