Archive for October, 2018

Nobel Peace Prize

2018 Nobel Prize Winner Shares Connection to School of Pharmacy

The University of Maryland School of Pharmacy is home to nearly 100 world-class faculty — researchers and practitioners who have gained national and international recognition for their tremendous accomplishments in their diverse fields of study.

Yet there was a time when these sought-after experts were students as well, learning from and being shaped by some of the foremost leaders in their fields.

For Patrick Wintrode, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences (PSC) at the School of Pharmacy, it was a pivotal postdoctoral fellowship at the California Institute of Technology that not only helped shape his career, but also introduced him to one of his most trusted mentors who, nearly 20 years later, would become the first American woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry.

Meeting His Mentor

From 1997 to 2001, Wintrode worked as a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Frances Arnold, PhD, the Linus Pauling Professor of Chemical Engineering, Bioengineering, and Biochemistry and director of the Donna and Benjamin M. Rosen Bioengineering Center at the California Institute of Technology, where he used directed evolution — the technique for which Arnold would be recognized with the 2018 Nobel Prize for Chemistry — to evolve enzymes for efficient activity and stability at high and low temperatures.

“My time in the Arnold Lab was critical in helping me to expand my scientific horizons,” Wintrode recalls. “As a graduate student, my research had focused on protein biophysics, and while I knew that proteins were products of evolution, I had not really thought about it in a deep way. Working alongside Dr. Arnold and her colleagues was a great experience for me intellectually and broadened my understanding of proteins.”

Pioneering the Field

Directed evolution is a specialized technique through which researchers are able to speed the evolution of enzymes by introducing mutations in the underlying sequences of proteins and testing the effect of those mutations on the function of the enzyme. Arnold first demonstrated the technique in 1993, using subtilisin E, evolving the enzyme to a variant that was able to maintain its activity in a highly unnatural environment.

Since that time, Arnold and her team — of which Wintrode was previously a member, authoring six publications with her during his time as a postdoctoral fellow — have repeatedly demonstrated that it is possible to evolve enzymes for use under a variety of new conditions, creating new enzymes that have been used in a wide range of products, including biofuels and medications, and earning her the title of the “mother of directed evolution.”

“Dr. Arnold never hesitated to ask whether enzymes can be evolved to perform functions that no one believed them capable of performing,” says Wintrode, whose research in the Arnold Lab focused on making enzymes function in unnatural environments, such as high fractions of organic solvents.

Cementing Her Legacy

Directed evolution is now commonly used in academic and industrial laboratories around the world, earning Arnold the 2018 Nobel Prize for Chemistry as well as some well-deserved kudos from colleagues and peers like Wintrode.

“I was thrilled to learn that Dr. Arnold had won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry, though not totally surprised, given her remarkable accomplishments and reputation,” Wintrode says. “Directed evolution was a fringe subject in the 1990s, but today it is a standard tool in industry and academic laboratories all over the world. In fact, almost any enzyme used in an industrial chemistry process today has likely been optimized using directed evolution, cementing Dr. Arnold’s legacy in the field.”

— Malissa Carroll

Malissa CarrollPeople, Research, UMB NewsOctober 12, 20180 comments
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Eighth Grade: From West Baltimore

Watch New Documentary on UMB CURE Scholars on Sunday, Oct. 14

Five scholars from the UMB CURE Program will be featured again on Maryland Public Television (MPT) thanks to the new documentary Eighth Grade: From West Baltimore.

A pipeline program that began in 2015 and guides West Baltimore students with an interest in science from sixth grade through high school and beyond, UMB CURE Scholars was first featured by MPT in the acclaimed documentary From West Baltimore. Both films, which follow the same five scholars, will be aired Sunday, Oct. 14, at 5 and 6 p.m., respectively.

The new documentary will provide an update on Shakeer Franklin, Davioin Hill, Courtney Jacobs, Tyler McKenzie, and Princaya Sanders as they navigate eighth grade before embarking on their high school years, supported by their UMB CURE mentors.

MedSchool Maryland Productions, which produced both documentaries led by director Susan Hadary, MA, describes the new film this way:

“Eighth grade, a year of incredible pressure for these young teens, determines their future. They must get a very high composite score to be accepted at one of the few highly competitive college preparatory schools in Baltimore. The stress of middle school now intensifies as they challenge themselves to get good grades and excel on standardized tests. Their future will be delivered in the all-important acceptance letter — the first hurdle to overcome in their personal fight for a better life.”

From West Baltimore, the original documentary, was nominated for an Emmy Award by the National Capital Chesapeake Bay Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and the five CURE Scholars attended the Emmy gala June 23 in Bethesda, Md.

To watch a trailer of the new documentary, go to the Eighth Grade: From West Baltimore webpage. For a look at the original documentary, go to the From West Baltimore webpage. To learn more about the UMB program, which involves the youngest students ever funded by the National Cancer Institute’s Continuing Umbrella of Research Experiences (CURE) Program, go to the CURE Scholars website.

(Note: Poster by Kellie Gable; poster photo by John Anglim, MedSchool Maryland Productions)

Communications and Public AffairsCommunity Service, Education, For B'more, People, UMB News, University LifeOctober 12, 20180 comments
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UMB Founders Week logo

Celebrate UMB at Founders Week Events

Each year, the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) celebrates the achievements and successes of our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and philanthropic supporters and pays tribute to UMB’s 200-plus-year history with a series of Founders Week events. The celebration kicks off with the Founders Week Gala on Saturday night, followed by these events next week:

Monday, Oct. 15

Staff Luncheon
11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Westminster Hall

To offer everyone a chance to enjoy lunch, there will be two seatings: 11:30 a.m. to 12:10 p.m., followed by 12:20 to 1 p.m. Tickets are required.

Register here.

Entrepreneurs of the Year Presentation and Reception
4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Shock Trauma Auditorium

4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.: Presentation by Thomas M. Scalea, MD, FACS, MCCM – Supporting Failing Organs
5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.: Reception immediately following in lobby outside of the auditorium

Register here.

Read about the Entrepreneurs of the Year, the MARS team: Scalea; Deborah M. Stein, MD, MPH, FACS, FCCM; and Steven I. Hanish, MD, FACS.

Tuesday, Oct. 16

Art Sculpture Unveiling
11 a.m. to noon

Health Sciences Research Facility (HSRF) III plaza

Special guests: First Lady of Maryland Yumi Hogan and members of the Maryland State Arts Council

Researcher of the Year Lecture and Reception
4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
HSRF II Auditorium

4 p.m. to 5 p.m.: Lecture presented by Karen L. Kotloff, MD — Global Health: Where Science Meets Humanity
5 p.m. to 6 p.m.: Reception immediately following in atrium of HSRF II

Register here.

Read about Kotloff, the Researcher of the Year.

Thursday, Oct. 18

Student Cookout
Noon to 1:30 p.m.
School of Nursing Courtyard

The student cookout offers free food, greetings from President Jay A. Perman, MD, and the chance to be served by a school dean, University vice president, or UMB administrator.

Register here.

More on Founders Week

Read about the Public Servant of the Year, Valli Meeks, DDS, MS, RDH.

Read about the Teacher of the Year, Geoffrey L. Greif, PhD, MSW.

Visit the Founders Week website for more information.

Communications and Public AffairsBulletin Board, Collaboration, Education, People, UMB News, University Administration, University LifeOctober 12, 20180 comments
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Flow Cytometry Graphic

Next UMGCCC Flow Cytometry Lecture Set for Nov. 5

The next Flow Cytometry Monthly Lecture will be held Monday, Nov. 5, 10:30 a.m. to noon, at the Bressler Research Building, Room 7-035.

This course — led by Xiaoxuan Fan, PhD, director, Flow Cytometry Shared Service — is needed  to become a trained user at the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center (UMGCCC) Flow Cytometry Shared Services. However, all are welcome to attend.

This lecture will cover:

  • How flow cytometry works
  • Multi-color design and compensation
  • Instruments and services
  • New technology and tools.

To RSVP, go to this link.

Karen UnderwoodBulletin Board, Clinical Care, Collaboration, Education, ResearchOctober 11, 20180 comments
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UMB Cure Scholars Cohort 4

A White Coat Welcome for New UMB CURE Scholars

Jamiyah Mitchell may only be in sixth grade, but she already has her sights set on going to medical school and becoming a pediatrician. The Southwest Baltimore Charter School (SBCS) student is one step closer to her goal after she was officially inducted into the CURE Scholars Program at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB).

CURE Scholar speaks to potential mentorsOn Saturday, Oct. 6, Jamiyah and 23 other sixth-grade students from SBCS, Franklin Square Elementary/Middle School (FSEMS), and Green Street Academy (GSA) were presented with the CURE program’s signature white laboratory coat in a ceremony at the University of Maryland School of Nursing Auditorium, symbolizing their acceptance into the prestigious academic program.

“I decided to join CURE because I wanted to do something outside of school where I was still learning, so I could get into good schools,” Jamiyah explained. “I just know I’m ready for a big experience like this one.”

Established in 2015, the UMB CURE Scholars Program is a unique pipeline initiative aimed at guiding West Baltimore children into challenging careers in medicine and public health. It is the first program in the nation to begin academic enrichment and mentorship for students as early as sixth grade.

“I am very excited for Jamiyah to be in the CURE program,” said Jamiyah’s mother, Shardae Randolph, “It offers a lot of help and a lot of support. I hope they help her to stay focused, stay on top of her grades to get her where she wants to go.”

Jamiyah is part of the fourth cohort of scholars to be welcomed into the CURE Program with its traditional White Coat Ceremony. It was fitting to have the scholars from cohort 1 — who have just begun their first year of high school — present the newest scholars with their lab coats.

(View a photo gallery and watch a video.)

“I remember cohort 1 when they were babies, and now they’re all taller than me!” Robin Saunders, EdD, MS, executive director of the UMB CURE Scholars Program, said to the crowd attending the ceremony. “I am so incredibly proud of them and happy for them to be here to welcome our brand-new scholars.”

After receiving their white coats, the new scholars headed to the SMC Campus Center to attend a “mentor mixer.” The scholars got the chance to meet some of the 261 mentors who are committed to guiding these youngsters on their journey to success. All donning red shirts, the mentors are made up of volunteers from UMB’s six professional schools and interdisciplinary Graduate School, UMB faculty and staff members, and participants from other universities and organizations. The mentors are paired with the scholars on a 5:1 ratio, which creates a strong foundation of support for each scholar starting from Day 1.

The scholars in cohort 4 also will get an added layer of mentorship from the three older cohorts. Kaden Johnson, a GSA student in cohort 3, has one year of CURE under his belt. He received his white coat last year and is on the path to becoming a dentist. When asked what advice he would give to the newest class of scholars, he replied, “Stay focused. Don’t be shy. Have faith and hope in yourself, and you’ll be where you want to be.”

The support of many mentors and peers has proved successful for the CURE Scholars. In just three years, the program has seen vast improvements in its scholars’ academic achievements, including: a 66 percent improved math score and a 66 percent improved reading score at FSEMS; a 79 percent improved math score and a 76 percent improved reading score at GSA; and a 94 percent improved math score and an 83 percent improved reading score at SBCS.

The success of the program has become a catalyst for a new academic enrichment initiative that will be launched by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), which is a supporting partner of UMB’s CURE Scholars Program. NCI’s new initiative is called YES, which stands for Youth Enjoy Science. Modeled after UMB’s CURE Scholars Program, YES will provide support for eligible institutions to develop and maintain early intervention strategies to academically engage under-represented students and help prepare them for careers in biomedical research. Like the CURE Scholars, middle-school students across the nation will get the opportunity to participate in hands-on learning experiences under the guidance of mentors.

UMB President Jay A. Perman, MD, described the creation of YES during the CURE White Coat Ceremony in a welcome video. He congratulated the scholars on playing a vital role in the startup of the new, nationwide program.

“You made this possible,” he told the scholars. “Your interest, your excitement, and your success have already made a difference to countless more students who now have access to the same opportunities that you have.”

Perman went on to address the new cohort of scholars, explaining to them the importance of programs like CURE and YES that aim to diversify the medical, science, and public health workforces that will in turn reduce racial disparities in cancer research and treatment. He also impressed upon the scholars that they have a village of support whenever they need help. They can always turn to their mentors, teachers, and even fellow CURE Scholars for guidance.

This is exactly what Lynijiah Walker, a FSEMS student in cohort 4, needed to hear. “I’m excited, but scared at the same time,” she said. “I don’t know what will be coming next or what journey this program is going to take me on, but I am very excited.”

— Jena Frick

Jena FrickCollaboration, For B'more, People, UMB News, University LifeOctober 11, 20180 comments
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Cyber security logo

Cybersecurity Awareness Month: 10 Steps to Smartphone Security

Smartphones continue to grow in popularity and are as powerful and functional as many computers. It is important to protect your smartphone just like you protect your computer, because mobile cybersecurity threats are growing. These mobile security tips can help you reduce the risk of exposure to mobile security threats:

  1.  Set PINs and passwords. To prevent unauthorized access to your phone, set a password or Personal Identification Number (PIN) on your phone’s home screen as a first line of defense in case your phone is lost or stolen. When possible, use a different password for each of your important log-ins (email, banking, personal sites, etc.). You should configure your phone to automatically lock after five minutes or less when your phone is idle, as well as use the SIM password capability available on most smartphones.
  2. Do not modify your smartphone’s security settings. Do not alter security settings for convenience. Tampering with your phone’s factory settings, jailbreaking, or rooting your phone undermines the built-in security features offered by your wireless service and smartphone, while making it more susceptible to an attack.
  3. Back up and secure your data. You should back up all of the data stored on your phone — such as your contacts, documents, and photos. These files can be stored on your computer, on a removal storage card, or in the cloud. This will allow you to conveniently restore the information to your phone should it be lost, stolen, or otherwise erased.
  4. Only install apps from trusted sources. Before downloading an app, conduct research to ensure the app is legitimate. Checking the legitimacy of an app may include such thing as: checking reviews, confirming the legitimacy of the app store, and comparing the app sponsor’s official website with the app store link to confirm consistency. Many apps from untrusted sources contain malware that once installed can steal information, install viruses, and cause harm to your phone’s contents. There also are apps that warn you if any security risks exist on your phone.
  5. Understand app permissions before accepting them. You should be cautious about granting applications access to personal information on your phone or otherwise letting the application have access to perform functions on your phone. Make sure to also check the privacy settings for each app before installing.
  6. Install security apps that enable remote location and wiping. An important security feature widely available on smartphones, either by default or as an app, is the ability to remotely locate and erase all of the data stored on your phone, even if the phone’s GPS is off. In the case that you misplace your phone, some applications can activate a loud alarm, even if your phone is on silent. These apps also can help you locate and recover your phone when lost. Visit CTIA for a full list of anti-theft protection apps.
  7. Accept updates and patches to your smartphone’s software. You should keep your phone’s operating system software up to date by enabling automatic updates or accepting updates when prompted from your service provider, operating system provider, device manufacturer, or application provider. By keeping your operating system current, you reduce the risk of exposure to cyber threats.
  8. Be smart on open Wi-Fi networks. When you access a Wi-Fi network that is open to the public, your phone can be an easy target of cybercriminals. You should limit your use of public hotspots and instead use protected Wi-Fi from a network operator you trust or mobile wireless connection to reduce your risk of exposure, especially when accessing personal or sensitive information. Always be aware when clicking web links and be particularly cautious if you are asked to enter account or login information.
  9. Wipe data on your old phone before you donate, resell, or recycle it. Your smartphone contains personal data you want to keep private when you dispose of your old phone. To protect your privacy, completely erase data off your phone and reset the phone to its factory settings. Then, donate, resell, recycle, or otherwise properly dispose of your phone.
  10. Report a stolen smartphone. The major wireless service providers, in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), have established a stolen phone database. If your phone is stolen, you should report the theft to your local law enforcement authorities and register the stolen phone with your wireless provider. This will provide notice to all the major wireless service providers that the phone has been stolen and will allow for remote “bricking” of the phone so that it cannot be activated on any wireless network without your permission.

For more information and resources on mobile and cybersecurity, visit the FCC’s website and the Department of Homeland Security’s Stop.Think.Connect.

Sarah SteinbergTechnologyOctober 9, 20180 comments
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Police officers talking to Tour participants

On University Tour, UMB Police Stress Theme of Safety First

Personal safety was the focus Oct. 2 when a group of University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) staff members traversed the campus and city streets with UMB police officers and Office of Parking and Transportation Services (PTS) leaders during the first of five University Tours scheduled for Tuesdays this October. (See schedule here.)

Lt. Erk Pecha speaking to the groupUMB Police Force Capt. Erik Pecha and Lt. Dennis Smith led the way, enlightening the employees on ways to avoid becoming a victim of crime and urging the use of services such as the Safe Walk/Safe Ride program, where uniformed officers accompany UMB students, staff, and faculty between campus sites when requested.

“I can’t walk next to you 24/7 and 365 days a year to make you feel safe,” Smith told the group. “The police forces does as much as it can, but we can’t have a cop on every corner of the campus. That’s not practical. In the end, you are responsible for your personal safety, but we can help you along the way.”

To that end, the UMB officers offered safety tips on the tour, which began at Lexington Street Garage, moved south on Pine Street to West Baltimore Street, then east to Greene Street, south to West Lombard Street, east to South Paca Street, and north to Lexington Market.

Perhaps the central message conveyed was: Be aware of your surroundings. The officers lamented the fact that too many people, with cellphone in hand or earphones on, are not paying attention to what’s happening around them as they navigate the campus.

“One thing that we preach all the time: no headphones or texting while you are walking,” Smith said. “Take your headphones off and pay attention to what’s going on around you. People who are looking to commit crime are watching to see who’s paying attention and who’s not. If you are oblivious to your situation because you are on your phone or have headphones on, you are a prime target.”

Other tips:

• If you feel uncomfortable on the street or think someone is following you, walk into any UMB building and seek out a security officer or attendant who can contact police immediately. “Don’t worry that you might offend someone by doing that,” said Pecha, who also holds the title of assistant chief. “You are not doing it because of any bias, you are doing it because you don’t feel safe.”

• Do not jaywalk. Instead, use the marked crosswalks, but never assume that just because you are in a crosswalk that you don’t have to pay attention to the vehicles. “You should take an extra moment and try to make eye contact with drivers before crossing,” Pecha said.

• The emergency blue light phones around campus and in garages are analog devices that call the police dispatcher, but if you use one, you can’t just hit the button and leave the site. You need to talk to the dispatcher and give them information about the emergency.

• Use a backpack to carry your belongings, and bring as few valuables to campus as possible. “With a backpack, you’ve got everything in there secure and two straps on your shoulders,” Smith said. “Most women carry their purse on their side, and a thief can give it a good yank and most likely it’s going to come out of your hands. … And if you don’t need something, don’t carry it with you. But also don’t leave it in your car and visible, because someone might break a window to get it.”

• When walking around the city, avoid alleys and other shortcuts; stay on streets that are well-lit and heavily traveled. This is an emphasis for Pecha. “Shortcuts are bad!” he said. “Everyone makes fun of me for repeating that, but it’s the truth. There’s no reward for taking a shortcut.”

• Use police services such as Safe Walk/Safe Ride — even if the distance between your destinations is short. “It’s a resource that we offer, so why not use it?” Pecha said (simply call 6-6882 on campus or 410-706-6882). “You are not putting us out in any way, shape, or form. That’s part of our job.”

The tour also offered suggestions on places to eat that you might not know about, like the School of Dentistry cafeteria or the snack bar in Health Sciences Research Facility I; pointed out the location of UMaryland Immediate Care on West Lombard Street for health care needs; and provided guidance on how to interact with the homeless and panhandlers.

The tour ended at Lexington Market, where Stacey Pack, marketing and communications manager for Baltimore Public Markets, pointed out the many culinary, produce, and shopping choices at the historic site, which is soon to be redeveloped. The market tour ended with a walk through Mem Sahib Indian Cuisine restaurant, a participant in the UMB Office of Community Engagement’s Local Food Connection.

The group then sat down for a Q&A session with the police officers and three PTS officials, including director Robert Milner, MS, CAPP.

Tony Green, manager, TDM and Transportation Services, discussed the UM shuttle, alternative transportation options, and electric vehicle services, while encouraging the group to follow PTS’ Twitter and Facebook accounts. Stacy Holmes, operations manager, talked about garage services such as flat tire assistance, battery jumps, and lockout help.

During the feedback session, one member of the UMB group, a new employee who has moved to Baltimore from New York, said that she appreciated the safety and security aspects of the tour and that she gained more familiarity with the campus’ landscape — which is what University Tours is all about.

“We began these tours about three years ago,” Pecha said, noting the need to educate those new to UMB or anyone who might be unfamiliar with an urban environment. “It’s not a historical tour, like, ‘Oh, there’s the School of Pharmacy, and there’s the School of Medicine.’ It’s more of a practical and social-type tour: ‘You can get coffee here. There’s a snack bar there. Don’t walk this way. Walk on this street.’

“It’s also a chance for students and staff to get to know us as human beings, and we can learn about them and learn from them as well.”

— Lou Cortina

Read about more safety tips from the UMB Police Force.

Lou CortinaCollaboration, People, UMB News, University Life, USGAOctober 9, 20180 comments
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Stethoscope and gavel

Trump and the ACA: A Panel Discussion on Multi-City Litigation

The Law & Health Care Program at the Francis King Carey School of Law is hosting a panel discussion Oct. 25 on the multi-city lawsuit brought against the Trump administration for failure to implement the Affordable Care Act.

On Aug. 2, several cities (including Baltimore) filed suit against the administration for actions they say sabotage the Affordable Care Act. The suit alleges violations under the Administrative Procedure Act and the Take Care Clause of the Constitution.

We will hear from Baltimore City Solicitor Andre Davis, JD ’78, who is engaged in the lawsuit as the attorney for the city of Baltimore. Vincent DeMarco, JD, MA, president of the Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative, will provide perspective on the impact of Trump administration actions on Maryland residents. Professor Mark Graber, PhD, JD, MA, will discuss the constitutional arguments asserted in the complaint, particularly the argument that the administration’s actions violate the Take Care Clause.

Here are the details:

  • When: Thursday, Oct. 25
  • Time: 3:15 p.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Location: Ceremonial Moot Courtroom, Francis King Carey School of Law, 500 W. Baltimore St., Baltimore, MD 21201
  • Note: The panel is free and open to the public.
  • Registration: Go to this link.
Lauren LevyBulletin Board, EducationOctober 9, 20180 comments
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Researcher of the Year: Karen Kotloff

Founders Week-Researcher of the Year: Karen Kotloff

Every fall, the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) commemorates our rich history and celebrates the future we’re building together during Founders Week, which this year runs Oct. 13 to 18. Among the highlights is recognizing the extraordinary work of UMB’s faculty and staff with four awards, each signifying outstanding accomplishment in one facet of our mission. Leading up to Founders Week, we will highlight the award winners every Tuesday on The Elm. For more information on UMB’s annual celebration and associated events, please check out the Founders Week website.

Sign up to attend the Researcher of the Year presentation and reception.

Today: Researcher of the Year

Karen L. Kotloff, MD
School of Medicine
Professor, Department of Pediatrics
Head, Division of Infectious Disease and Tropical Pediatrics
Associate Director, Clinical Studies, Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health

When Karen Kotloff accepted a fellowship at the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s (UMSOM) Department of Pediatrics and Center for Vaccine Development (CVD) in 1983, she didn’t realize she was signing on for a lifetime commitment. That’s just the way it turned out.

“During my fellowship at the CVD, I was exposed to the field of global health,” says Kotloff, a professor in UMSOM’s Department of Pediatrics and associate director of clinical studies for the CVD. “I learned that in addition to treating children one-by-one as a clinician, I could help to introduce public health interventions like vaccines that improve the lives of millions of children at once.

“I began traveling to amazing places, seeing things I never imagined, working next to incredible, dedicated people to solve some of the toughest problems. But what plagued me was that in countries of Africa and Asia, one in every 10 children did not survive until their fifth birthday. Trying to change that became my life’s work and I never looked back.”

Today, Kotloff is an international figure in the field of vaccinology and a leading authority in human controlled infection models for shigellosis, a major cause of diarrhea morbidity and mortality in children.

CVD Director Kathleen Neuzil, MD, MPH, is one of Kotloff’s biggest supporters. “Karen is a pioneer and has performed more Shigella challenge studies than anyone in the world,” Neuzil says. “She modified an earlier challenge model to make it more standardized, reproducible, and safe for participants. The model that she developed is the one currently used throughout the world. She’s a tireless champion for access to vaccines and children’s health around the globe.”

In addition to conducting large epidemiologic studies to understand the causes and health outcomes associated with infectious diseases in children, Kotloff has tested numerous vaccines in adults and children, including for influenza and group A streptococcus. An advisor to the World Health Organization, and author of more than 200 peer-reviewed articles, Kotloff’s research portfolio totals over $50 million.

“My career has really evolved in two intertwined tracks: studying the epidemiology of infectious diseases to understand what causes disease and death in children and conducting clinical trials to test new and improved vaccines to prevent these infections,” Kotloff says. “I have been fortunate to receive funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and NIH to pursue both tracks.”

One of her favorite projects took place in Mali, a poor country in West Africa with one of the world’s highest childhood mortality rates. Kotloff has worked there steadily since 2001, conducting a series of epidemiologic studies to understand the causes and consequences of fever, pneumonia, diarrheal diseases, and tonsillitis from group A streptococcus. Whenever possible, she helped to introduce vaccines and other interventions to curb the disease burden and then measure the impact of that intervention.

“I received the Legion of Honor in Mali for our initial work,” Kotloff recalls. “As a result of this project, I met Dr. Samba Sow, who was the coordinator of our field site and is now the Malian Minister of Health. Working with Dr. Sow and his incredible team of dedicated epidemiologists and doctors has been one of the greatest joys of my career.”

“Enormously honored” to be named the University of Maryland, Baltimore’s (UMB) Researcher of the Year, Kotloff says she shares the award with colleagues like Sow, Neuzil, former CVD Director Myron “Mike”  Levine, MD, DTPH, and others. “This award really goes to the group of dedicated, talented physicians, scientists, and health professionals with whom I work every day both here and at the international sites where my projects are conducted,” Kotloff says. “And of course those who have mentored and supported me.”

Kotloff is returning the favor, mentoring hundreds of investigators internationally in performing rigorous trials and field studies, conducting research to international regulatory standards, and preparing papers, abstracts, and presentations. James Campbell, MD, MS, Milagritos Tapia, MD, and Wilbur Chen, MD, MS, are just three at UMSOM who have developed their own independent research careers under Kotloff’s tutelage.

Asked about the satisfaction she derives from mentoring students, fellows, and junior faculty, Kotloff says, “The Center for Vaccine Development is a very special place with a legacy, extending over 40 years, of one generation of researchers training the next. Because of the stellar reputation of the CVD, we have been able to attract highly qualified fellows and I have had the pleasure of watching these talented individuals grow into highly successful senior faculty. It is extremely gratifying to me to see that they will carry on the work that I find so important.”

Kotloff also is grateful to her family. “I am married with two wonderful grown children, a fantastic daughter-in-law, and two adorable dogs,” she says. “My husband and children have always been very supportive and enthusiastic about my work, occasionally even joining me on a trip. My favorite activity of all is to spend time with my family. I enjoy hiking and kayaking in my spare time. Believe it or not, I also enjoy traveling.”

That’s a good thing, because she has done a lot of it since her first trip — to Somalia in 1993 during a refugee crisis. “It was an experience I will never forget,” Kotloff says. “I saw firsthand the tireless, impeccably organized efforts of a courageous team of Doctors Without Borders providing life-saving vaccines, treatment, and nutritional support to a devastated population and the gratitude that they received in return.”

Saying “it breaks my heart to see a sick child — it is always better to prevent a disease than treat it,” Kotloff also has focused on infections that affect infants and children in the United States. For example, she led a recent study that showed that an antibacterial ointment could be applied to the nose and skin of infants in the Intensive Care Unit to prevent severe staph infections.

After 35 years at UMSOM, Kotloff says there are more challenges to tackle.

“During my career, I have worked to lay the groundwork for introduction of new and underused vaccines in poor countries in Africa and Asia. Now that there are vaccines for many of the major infectious diseases affecting children, those that remain each make up a small piece of the pie. We need to rethink our approach to preventing deaths,” she says. “My current work has turned to strategies that we hope will improve the underlying health and nutrition of young children in these settings so that the children will be stronger and more able to handle the infectious assaults that they face.”

E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, executive vice president for medical affairs at UMB and the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor and dean at UMSOM, points out that as of mid-2018, 60 percent of countries in Africa have introduced rotavirus vaccines nationally thanks in part to Kotloff’s efforts. She also has consistently ranked among the top-funded UMSOM researchers for the past five years, he says.

“Dr. Kotloff’s research contributions as well as her mentoring have proven critical in advancing our vaccinology research to the best program worldwide,” Reece says. “She is dedicated to serving the world’s most vulnerable populations and is recognized by her peers as a leader in vaccinology and pediatric infectious disease research.”

—  Chris Zang

Chris ZangEducation, People, Research, UMB News, University Administration, University LifeOctober 9, 20180 comments
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The President’s Message

Check out the October issue of The President’s Message. It includes Dr. Perman’s column on Promise Heights’ game-changing $30 million grant; a look ahead to Founders Week; President’s Symposium and White Paper Project tackles gun violence; John T. Wolfe Jr. talks disruption and diversity at DAC Speaker Series; UMB leaders discuss policing and emergency management; new CURE Scholars documentary to air on MPT; “I’m new to Twitter — come say hello @JayPerman;” and a roundup of student, faculty, and staff achievements.

Chris ZangABAE, Bulletin Board, Clinical Care, Collaboration, Contests, Education, For B'more, People, Research, Technology, UMB News, University Life, USGAOctober 8, 20180 comments
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UMB ICTR: Molecules to Communities

Campuswide Funding Opportunity from UMB ICTR

The University of Maryland, Baltimore Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (UMB ICTR) is a campuswide initiative that provides financial support, infrastructure, environment, training, and workforce development to invigorate, facilitate, and accelerate clinical and translational research to improve patient and community health.

The UMB ICTR Accelerated Translational Incubator Pilot (ATIP) Grant Program is now accepting applications. There are two types of ATIP opportunities: the ICTR Innovative Collaboration Pilot Grant and the ICTR Community-Engaged Research Grant. ATIP awards provide starter funds (up to $50,000 over 12 months) for projects specifically focused on innovative, translational research that involve multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary collaborations among faculty from the schools of medicine, pharmacy, dentistry, nursing, law, and social work or UMB-community partnerships.

Applications are due Jan. 7, 2019. Visit the ATIP Grant Program webpage for more details and application materials.

For questions, please contact Meriem Gaval Cruz at

Meriem Gaval CruzCollaboration, ResearchOctober 8, 20180 comments
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Artist's rendering of spine pain

Oct. 25 Lunch & Learn Seminar: ‘Advances in Spine and Back Treatment’

Kanchana Gattu, MBBS, of University of Maryland Pain Medicine will present a free Lunch & Learn seminar titled “Pain in the Neck: Advances in Spine and Back Treatment” on Oct. 25 in Columbia, Md. Gattu will answer questions and provide information about the latest treatments available.

Registration is required and lunch will be served.

Merideth MarrBulletin Board, Clinical Care, People, University LifeOctober 8, 20180 comments
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UMB Champion of Excellence: Nicole Mattocks, MSW '10

UMB Champion of Excellence: Nicole Mattocks, MSW ’10

The Champions of Excellence campaign is a multi-year branding campaign at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) in which we highlight individuals and teams that exemplify extraordinary accomplishment and represent excellence at the University. For the past few months, the Elm has featured these UMB Champions, who are making Baltimore, our region, and in some cases the world a better place. (Read about all of the 2017-18 UMB Champions of Excellence.)

Today’s Champion:
Nicole Mattocks, MSW ’10
Advancing Positive Community Health Outcomes

In 2009, as a University of Maryland School of Social Work student, Nicole Mattocks interned with a community development organization in Northeast Baltimore. Shortly after earning her Master of Social Work in May 2010, Mattocks worked at a local high school in West Baltimore.

It didn’t take long for her to realize how different the two neighborhoods were.

“The physical environment was drastically different … and the really stark contrast struck me,” says Mattocks, who now is pursuing her PhD at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB). “There was not nearly as much green space in Harlem Park [West Baltimore]. It wasn’t as well-kept [as Northeast Baltimore], with a lot of broken glass and trash. There were all these signs of what’s called physical disorder — graffiti, litter, vacant and abandoned buildings.”

Her mind bursting with knowledge from her coursework, Mattocks wondered how living in these conditions might affect a person’s well-being. Through her years of studying at UMB, she had gained a base knowledge about how having access to green spaces and healthy, safe environments leads to overall positive community health.

“I started thinking that there’s got to be a connection between growing up in this concrete jungle where everything’s falling apart and one’s experience and perception of the world,” she says. “That was the beginning of being interested in the relationship between the physical environment and all kinds of outcomes.”

Now, as she completes her doctorate in social work, she has focused her dissertation on the relationship between the physical environment and urban green spaces of Baltimore’s neighborhoods and mental health outcomes, such as depression and anxiety.

Mattocks was a logical fit for an opportunity that arose when two School of Social Work faculty, Caroline Burry, PhD, MSW, and Carolyn Tice, DSW, MSW, applied for a grant to develop an environmental social work course. The aim was to design a course that would be taught at both UMB and at its sister school, Rajagiri College of Social Sciences, in India. The faculty needed someone to go to India to gather information about what environmental social work looked like and what environmental challenges were most important to the people in that region. Burry and Tice chose Mattocks.

For two weeks, she visited Indian environmental groups and agencies, learning about their needs and brainstorming ways to incorporate an environmental social work course into the college’s curriculum.

“The experience was really interesting because I had never traveled to a developing country before,” she says. “There’s not a lot of infrastructure in place to manage the environment there. They don’t even have trash pickup. There aren’t organized processes there in the way that we have, and take advantage of, here [in the United States].”

But Mattocks is quick to add that the problems with the environment in India have nothing to do with the community’s lack of caring.

“I talked to so many people who cared about the environment. There are these grass-roots initiatives to develop nonprofits and organizations to manage recycling and trash pickup,” she says. “It was more that the government didn’t prioritize the environment or that there weren’t enough resources.”

Mattocks worked closely with professors Burry and Tice to add her knowledge from India into the course curriculum. She hopes to see the final product of their efforts by spring 2019, when the course is piloted on both campuses — UMB and Rajagiri.

As she prepares for graduation in May 2019, Mattocks is open to a future working in either an academic or non-academic job.

“If I end up at a research institution studying the environmental impacts on health, I would like that,” she says. “I definitely want to stay local; I like the Baltimore region because it’s such a good place to do research.“

Mattocks, who was born in Prince George’s County and raised in Ellicott City, says her experience at UMB is, without a doubt, a contributor to her love of Baltimore.

“It’s nice to be in an environment where everyone is working on a professional degree,” she says. “There are a lot of faculty to work with in other disciplines and good opportunities for interdisciplinary research. Baltimore has many needs and a lot of populations we can serve. It’s the perfect location.”

Communications and Public AffairsCollaboration, Education, People, UMB News, University LifeOctober 8, 20180 comments
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Social worker in a library

Social Work Students to Serve in Three More Baltimore Libraries

After engaging more than 600 community members in its first year, the Social Worker in the Library program, which pairs social work students with library patrons seeking social services, will expand from four library branches in Baltimore City to seven.

“We are so proud to be launching another year of the successful Social Worker in the Library program,” Heidi Daniel, president and chief executive officer of the Enoch Pratt Free Library, said at a Sept. 18 “meet and greet” for the newly expanded program, a collaboration between the Enoch Pratt Free Library and the University of Maryland School of Social Work (SSW)

“This partnership … is truly making a difference in all of our communities,” Daniel said to the library and social work officials and student interns gathered at the Herring Run branch.

Social Worker in the Library, which began in 2017 at four library branches, brings graduate student social work interns into library branches to help customers address issues such as poverty, food insecurity, homelessness, and addiction. Three additional library branches will host the program in 2018-19 — Herring Run, Light Street, and Walbrook — joining the original program locations of the Brooklyn, Hamilton, Pennsylvania Avenue branches and Southeast Anchor Library.

Social work interns will be in the libraries at least two days a week providing one-on-one counseling to customers, conducting programs to serve the community, and training library staff on topics such as crisis management and positive engagement. The University of Maryland, Baltimore‘s Social Work Community Outreach Service (SWCOS) co-designed and manages the program for the SSW.

SSW Dean Richard P. Barth, PhD, MSW, said the school and the Enoch Pratt Free Library are committed to bringing services to people where they live and can best use them, so forming a partnership made a lot of sense.

“There’s no question that the library has many patrons who come and want to use the services there, but they don’t necessarily know how to use those services, or don’t have access to them,” Barth said. “The branch managers have recognized that for some time and working with the development team, as I understand it from Enoch Pratt, began to look for opportunities to expand the capacity that they have in libraries to serve some of our most in-need residents.”

“People turn to the Pratt Library because they trust the Pratt, because we’re anchors in our community,” Daniel said. “Before this program started, our librarians said that they were seeing more and more people coming into our buildings looking for social services. Our staff is wonderful, and they were always able to point people in the right direction, but many times our customers didn’t follow up because they didn’t want to go to another facility. We started looking for a way to bring the services into our library, a place of trust in our city.”

In 2017, the partnership between the SSW and the Enoch Pratt Free Library took shape, bringing eight social work graduate student interns into the four original branch locations. Twelve interns will serve in the expanded program.

“In just eight months, they were able to touch the lives of more than 600 library customers,” Daniel said of the 2017 social work interns. “The social work interns have truly ingrained themselves in the library community in each of the neighborhoods. They provided referrals and information about housing, general and mental health, access to transportation, food, jobs and job training, and city, state, and federal government assistance.”

Daniel credited Kimberly Street, MSW, LMSW, LPN, the SSW faculty clinical instructor who oversees the student social workers, for much of the program’s success. Street “has been seen bringing birthday presents to regular library customers, going to other library branches when they have a customer in need of help, and even walking a customer to a local bank to help them open their very first checking account,” Daniel said. “It’s service like this that has made the program so powerful.”

The Pratt library also has hired its first full-time social worker, Laurel Smith-Raut, LMSW ’04, a SWCOS alumna.

“The growth of this program truly shows what can happen when anchor institutions like the Pratt Library and the University of Maryland come together,” Daniel said. “The success stories we’ve heard have been life-changing, and I can’t wait to hear more as the second year moves forward.”

Barth said the partnership has turned out to be not only a great idea for Baltimore City but also could be a great idea for other schools of social work. To that end, Barth said he has shared the concept with the National Association of Deans and Directors of Schools of Social Work. “We’re sharing ideas and best practices, and eventually I think this is an idea that could be not only something in Baltimore but that would be available to citizens all around the country.”

Social science research suggests that institutions of social work coupled with libraries is a good fit for patrons, according to Wendy Shaia, EdD, MSW, clinical assistant professor and executive director of SWCOS.

“For many people, libraries serve as urban sanctuaries. Libraries are a free space where anybody can come,” Shaia said. “They contain a high degree of social and natural support systems. Libraries are safe and natural spaces to find answers to questions and to inquire about resources.”

Now with one full academic year completed for the program, Shaia said the possibilities are promising.

“We created a paradigm for how social work might play out in these urban sanctuaries, and it’s really exciting,” she said. “We believe that this pilot project will lead to an initial blueprint for how to engage social work professionals in a library system. We look forward to updating you over the next few years about our growth and evolution.”

Street said the program has been one of “responsible field training and cultivating social workers that are compassionate and competent. Thank you for allowing me to be part of that family.”

Another new aspect to the program this year will be the Circle of Security in the Pennsylvania Avenue branch, Street said. Circle of Security is an evidence-based early intervention program designed to enhance attachment and security between parents and children.

Kendra Owens, a library patron who frequents the Pennsylvania Avenue branch and has befriended Street since the Social Worker in the Library program began, also spoke at the event.

“She has attended every single support group meeting we have had,” Street said of Owens. “Kendra is one of so many amazing people that we’ve met.”

“Miss Kim [Street] is like a second mother to me,” Owens said. “And when she asked me to come to a group at the library, she got me to open up. Now I don’t stop talking.”

Funding for the Social Worker in the Library program is provided by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, as well as the PNC Foundation, the Bunting Family Foundation, the Greif Family Foundation, and other key donors.

– Mary T. Phelan


Mary T. PhelanCollaboration, For B'more, People, UMB NewsOctober 5, 20180 comments
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Drug Take-Back Day

DEA Drug Take-Back Initiative: Oct. 24 and Oct. 27

To help improve medication safety in the local community, student pharmacists from Generation Rx in the American Pharmacists Association-Academy of Student Pharmacists (APhA-ASP) at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy will partner with the UMB Police Force for the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Take-Back Initiative on Wednesday, Oct. 24, and Saturday, Oct. 27, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the SMC Campus Center.

UMB faculty, staff, students, and members of the local community are invited to turn in their unused or expired medication for safe disposal.

Erin MerinoEducation, For B'more, University LifeOctober 5, 20180 comments
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