Trustees meet, hear reports on cutting-edge medical research

Spring meeting held at School of Medicine

At the spring meeting of the Board of Trustees, Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton reported on a number of recent developments on the Medical, Danforth and North campuses. Trustees also heard special reports from leading medical faculty on several cutting-edge research and clinical projects.

The chancellor reported good news on the admissions front, noting that the university received an all-time record number of nearly 25,000 applications for the fall 2010 freshman class that will enroll approximately 1,500 students. It is likely that this will be among the most talented group of entrants in the university’s history. The admissions office also welcomed the largest number of campus visitors in the university’s history throughout 2009.

In his remarks, Wrighton said that construction on the School of Engineering & Applied Science’s new building — Brauer Hall — will be completed in early April, with faculty move-in taking place throughout the spring and early summer. The LEED-rated structure will feature a solar hot-water heating system, energy metering and even a wind turbine to generate electricity. An accompanying chiller plant also is slated for completion in April. The building is named for Stephen F. and Camilla T. Brauer. Stephen Brauer is chair of the Board of Trustees.

The chancellor congratulated the School of Medicine on completion and fit-out of the BJC Institute of Health at Washington University biomedical research building, which opened in December and for which internal laboratory construction will continue throughout the spring and early summer. The project, capped by a unique plaza currently under construction, is planned to qualify for LEED Gold certification.

In a long-awaited development, the chancellor announced that construction has begun on the day-care center located on the North Campus, northeast of the intersection of Enright Avenue and Skinker Boulevard. The day-care facility will serve the children of university faculty and academic and non-academic staff as well as the children of full-time graduate and professional students.

The facility will be constructed by the university and managed by Bright Horizons Family Solutions and will open in late July for the beginning of the 2010-11 school year. It also was reported that work progresses ahead of schedule on the South 40 construction of the additional facilities for both undergraduate student services and housing.

In his review, the chancellor congratulated several university faculty who have received awards in areas ranging from surgery support for victims of the Haitian earthquake to archeology’s gold medal for achievement.

The chancellor concluded his remarks by reporting on outstanding seasons for women’s volleyball — winners of the 2009 NCAA Division III national championship — and the women’s soccer team, national runners-up. He also reported on the progress of both the men’s and women’s basketball teams currently competing in the NCAA Division III national playoffs.

Prior to the business meeting, the trustees heard reports from leading School of Medicine faculty on important research being conducted on the Medical Campus. Those reports include:

• Alison Goate, D.Phil., “The Hope Center Program on Protein Aggregation & Neurodegeneration,” the Ludwig Professor of Genetics in Psychiatry; professor of neurology and co-director of the Hope Center Program on Protein Aggregation & Neurodegeneration.

• Jean E. Schaffer, M.D., “Diabetic Cardiovascular Disease Center,” the Virginia Minnich Distinguished Professor of Medicine and director of Diabetic Cardiovascular Disease Center.

• Jeanne M. Nerbonne, Ph.D., “Center for the Investigation of Membrane Excitability Diseases (The EXCITE Center),” the Alumni Endowed Professor of Molecular Biology and Pharmacology in Developmental Biology and co-director of the EXCITE Center for the Investigation of Membrane Excitability Diseases.

• Scott J. Hultgren, Ph.D., “Center for Women’s Infectious Disease Research,” the Helen L. Stoever Professor of Molecular Microbiology and director of the Center for Women’s Infectious Disease Research.

• David R. Piwnica-Worms, M.D., Ph.D., “Bridging Research with Imaging, Genomics & High Throughput (The BRIGHT Institute),” professor of radiology & developmental biology, director of the Molecular Imaging Center and co-director of the BRIGHT Institute.

The trustees also heard a report from M. Kent Turner, president of Cannon Design, regarding the design and construction of the BJC Institute of Health biomedical research building. His remarks were followed by a guided tour of the new facility for trustees.

During the business meeting, a review of the Pediatric Cancer Genome Project with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital was presented by Larry J. Shapiro, M.D., executive vice chancellor for medical affairs and dean for the School of Medicine, and Richard K. Wilson, Ph.D., professor of genetics and molecular microbiology and director of The Genome Center.

This groundbreaking project was announced in February in Washington, D.C. The project will perform multiple maps of the genomes of more than 600 children in an effort to better understand ways in which medical science can prevent and treat pediatric cancers.

In other action, the trustees received reports from the committees on educational policy, development, medical finance, university finance and audit as well as from the Alumni Board of Governors.