Trustees hear reports on medical school initiatives

The Board of Trustees met March 5 at the Eric P. Newman Education Center to hear reports on significant initiatives at the University and the School of Medicine, according to Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton.

Before the meeting, the medical school presented a special program on “Multidisciplinary Science — Lab to Patient and Back Again,” a description of how teams of investigators from multiple disciplines work toward common goals. Introducing the presentation was Timothy J. Eberlein, M.D., the Spencer T. and Ann W. Olin Distinguished Professor in Medicine, head of the department of surgery, and director of the Siteman Cancer Center.

Presenters were David M. Ornitz, M.D., Ph.D., the Alumni Endowed Professor of Molecular Biology and Pharmacology, and Helen M. Piwnica-Worms, Ph.D., professor of cell biology and physiology and of internal medicine and an investigator for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at the School of Medicine.

During the regular meeting of the board, trustees heard a report from Larry J. Shapiro, M.D., executive vice chancellor for medical affairs and dean of the School of Medicine, and from Jonathan D. Gitlin, M.D., the Helene B. Roberson Professor of Pediatrics, regarding the long-standing partnership between the University and St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

In his remarks, Gitlin described a new research thrust of St. Louis Children’s Hospital. He noted that the interdisciplinary research effort will focus on discovering cures to such childhood illnesses as congenital heart disease, cancer, lung and respiratory disorders, and musculoskeletal and metabolic diseases. He said that the sequencing of the human genome provides an opportunity to understand the fundamental basis of all human diseases and begin eliminating them.

In his report to the trustees, Wrighton reported on plans for the May 30-June 3 meeting of the International Advisory Council for Asia in Seoul, South Korea. The program will include presentations by the deans of the Olin School of Business and the medical school, as well as presentations by prominent medical faculty and economists from Arts & Sciences.

The chancellor reported that the freshman class that will enroll in the fall appears to be yet another record-breaking group in terms of the academic strength of the applicants, who come from all 50 states and nearly 100 countries. Also noted in the chancellor’s report were:

• The presidential debate scheduled for Oct. 8 in the Athletic Complex appears to be moving ahead well. Communication with the Commission on Presidential Debates continues as to the structure and nature of the event that will be telecast to more than 100 million viewers worldwide.

• The Sesquicentennial celebration that was launched in Sep-tember continues and will be culminated at Commencement May 21, with Thomas L. Freidman, the New York Times columnist and Pulitzer Prize winner, as the speaker.

• Raymond E. Arvidson, Ph.D., the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor and chair of earth & planetary sciences in Arts & Sciences, is deputy principal scientist for the current Mars mission. He is working at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., with several other University faculty and students, including Rhodes Scholar Bethany Ehlmann.

• Several more endowed professorships have been announced since the previous trustee meeting, bringing the current total to approximately 135 during the Campaign for Washington University.

• Construction and facilities renovation continues apace, with the groundbreaking for the Sam Fox Arts Center April 14 and the rededication of the Olin Library, which has undergone a $38.4 million renovation, May 7. Also to be dedicated on that date will be a statue of George Washington that will stand at the library’s south side.

• Other facilities announcements noted that the construction on the Earth & Planetary Sciences Building is continuing on schedule. The facility is expected to open for use next year. The new housing facility to replace Eliot Hall is expected to be completed in August.

Wrighton concluded his remarks by noting the exceptional performance of University athletic teams, including women’s basketball, the University Athletic Association co-champion that had its 15th-consecutive appearance in the NCAA Division III Tournament.

In other action, the trustees passed a memorial resolution and observed a moment of silence in memory of Emeritus Trustee David S. Lewis, who died Dec. 15 at age 86. Lewis had served on the board since 1971 and was the retired chairman and chief executive officer of General Dynamics.

The trustees received committee reports from the following areas: development, campaign, educational policy, medical finance, investments, research-graduate affairs, undergraduate life, audit, Hilltop finance and the Alumni Board of Governors.

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