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Dr. Perman speaking at TEDx UMB

TEDx UMB Videos Now Available Online

Videos from the 10-speaker lineup at TEDx University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) are now available to view on YouTube.

UMB President Jay A. Perman, MD, was among the speakers at the Nov. 9 event, which had “Improving the Human Condition” as its theme and was held at the SMC Campus Center.

To see the videos, go to this TEDx UMB webpage and click on each speaker’s “Watch on YouTube” link.

To read about the event, go to this UMB News page.

To see a photo gallery, go to this UMB Facebook page.

 

Communications and Public AffairsEducation, People, UMB News, University LifeDecember 18, 20180 comments
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Center for Interprofessional Education logo

2019 IPE Faculty Development Day Set for Jan. 30

President Jay A. Perman, MD, has made interprofessional education (IPE) a priority at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB). On Wednesday, Jan. 30, from 8:30 a.m. to noon at the School of Pharmacy, UMB’s Center for Interprofessional Education will be holding an IPE Faculty Development Day featuring three breakout learning sessions from which to choose. These sessions will help faculty improve their IPE knowledge and skills and learn how to integrate IPE in the classroom.

Breakout Learning Sessions

  • Introductory Session: Development of a Classroom or Experiential IPE Activity
  • Intermediate Session: Assessment of IPE
  • Advanced Session: Sustainability of IPE (including funding sources)

Agenda

8:30 a.m. – 9 a.m.
Registration and light refreshments

9 a.m. – 9:10 a.m.
Welcome: Jay A. Perman, MD, and Jane M. Kirschling, PhD, RN, FAAN

9:15 a.m. – 10 a.m.
Keynote Presentation: “What’s New in IPE at UMB: A Panel Discussion”

10 a.m. – 10:10 a.m.
Break

10:10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Breakout learning sessions

11:30 a.m. – noon
Debriefing and networking opportunity

The registration deadline is Jan. 18. Register here.

 

lcortinaCollaboration, Education, UMB NewsDecember 13, 20180 comments
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School of Medicine logo

Hugh Arthur Pritchard Memorial Lecture for Graduate Students on Jan. 10

The Department of Pharmacology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine invites you to join us as P. Jeffrey Conn, PhD, the Lee E. Limbird Professor of Pharmacology and director of the Vanderbilt Center for Neuroscience Drug Discovery at Vanderbilt University, presents the 5th Hugh Arthur Pritchard Memorial Lecture for Graduate Students.

The lecture is titled “Positive Allosteric Modulators of GPCRs as a Novel Treatment for Schizophrenia” and will be held Thursday, Jan. 10, at 3 p.m. in the Health Science Research Facility II Auditorium, with a reception to follow.

Previous clinical studies as well as a large number of cellular and animal behavioral studies suggest that selective activators of M1 and/or M4 subtypes of muscarinic acetylcholine receptors (mAChRs) could provide a novel approach to treatment of schizophrenia. Especially exciting is the possibility that such agents could have efficacy in treatment of positive, negative, and cognitive symptoms in schizophrenia patients. Unfortunately, previous efforts to develop selective agonists of individual mAChR subtypes have not been successful and previous compounds have failed in development because of adverse effects due to activation of multiple mAChR subtypes.

Furthermore, the relative roles of M1 and M4 in mediating the overall therapeutic effects of less-selective mACh agonists are not understood. We have developed highly selective positive allosteric modulators (PAMs) of both M1 and M4 that have excellent properties for in vivo studies and as drug candidates. Electrophysiology and genetic studies are providing important new insights into the mechanisms by which M1 and M4 PAMs act in specific cortical and midbrain circuits that are relevant for treatment of different symptom domains in schizophrenia patients. Interestingly, selective M1 PAMs have specific effects in forebrain circuits that are relevant for cognitive deficits and negative symptoms and have robust efficacy in animal models of these symptom domains. In contrast, selective M4 PAMs have novel cellular actions in the basal ganglia relevant for positive symptoms and have robust antipsychotic-like effects in animal models. Also we have now advanced highly optimized M1 and M4 PAMs into preclinical and clinical development to evaluate their potential utility in treatment of schizophrenia.

More recently, we have built on recent human genetic studies that implicate two specific subtypes of metabotropic glutamate (mGlu) receptors, mGlu1 and mGlu3, in schizophrenia. Optimized mGlu1 and mGlu3 PAMs were used along with mouse genetic studies to evaluate the roles of these receptors in specific basal ganglia and forebrain circuits that have been implicated in schizophrenia. These studies are providing exciting new evidence that highly selective activators of these two glutamate receptors have potential utility in treatment of positive (mGlu1), negative (mGlu1), and cognitive (mGlu3) symptoms of schizophrenia patients. Furthermore, the novel mGlu1 and mGlu3 PAMs discovered in these studies provide excellent drug leads for further optimization and ultimate clinical testing. Collectively, these studies are providing insights that could lead to exciting new approaches for treatment of multiple symptom clusters in schizophrenia patients.

Shalon EdwardsBulletin Board, Research, UMB NewsDecember 11, 20180 comments
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Dr. Perman and Erika Pixley

Employee of the Month Pixley Is ‘The Glue’ to Palliative Care Program

Mary Lynn McPherson, PharmD, MA, MDE, BCPS, CPE, program director of the School of Pharmacy’s Master of Science and Graduate Certificates in Palliative Care, jokes that she sometimes feels superfluous in her role because of one person: Erika Pixley, MBA.

“Everyone calls Erika,” McPherson says of Pixley, senior academic program specialist. “In fact, when someone calls in, both of our lines ring on both of our phones. I’ll answer it and say, ‘Lynn McPherson.’ And someone will say, ‘Oh, I’m sorry, is Erika there?’ And I’ll say, ‘Well, this is Dr. McPherson, can I help you?’ And they say, ‘No, I really need to speak to Erika.’

“She’s indispensable to this program. She’s the glue.”

Helping to manage the program since its inception in spring 2017, Pixley was rewarded for her efforts Dec. 7 with the University of Maryland, Baltimore’s (UMB) Employee of the Month Award for December. UMB President Jay A. Perman, MD, presented Pixley with the award at the Saratoga Building, praising her professionalism, work ethic, and ability to meet the needs of students.

“Your colleagues have said a lot of great things about you,” said Perman, who gave Pixley a plaque, a letter of commendation, and news that an extra $250 would be in her next paycheck. “You’ve helped to build up a whole new program and you serve the students exceptionally well. This award is well-deserved, and on behalf of the University, I want you to know that your work is very much appreciated.”

The online program, which is open to other UMB disciplines such as medicine and nursing, is designed to meet the educational needs of those who already work or wish to work in hospice or palliative care environments and want to gain deeper understanding of the physical, psychological, spiritual, and social needs of patients and families involved in end-of-life care.

McPherson describes the program as “a university within a university” and says of Pixley: “Erika is the welcoming committee and the admissions committee and the student affairs committee and the graduation committee. She’s everything. And people adore her.

“She is extraordinarily professional in all her dealings — with faculty, students in the program, pharmacy students, and any other interested parties. She helps the students apply, enroll, develop their plan of study, pay their tuition, resolve technology issues, request graduate certificates, and does many, many more tasks.”

Pixley, an employee of the school’s Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science who came to UMB in 2016 to help launch the palliative care program, takes great pride in its success, with the first cohort set to graduate next spring.

“I’m with the students from Day 1 through graduation,” she says. “We are not even 2 years old yet and we have over 150 students, so I think that’s pretty successful. And we have great retention, because everyone who has started in the program is on their way to completion.”

Pixley says she learned more in the first few months in this role than in seven years in her previous jobs in education enrollment and admissions, adding that she appreciates the creative freedom she’s given with tasks such as managing social media, producing the program’s newsletter, and assisting with marketing materials.

“I’ve been given the flexibility to utilize my own resources and the freedom to try different things,” she says. “If I have an idea that will aid students or the program, I can actually go to somebody with the idea, instead of just sitting in my cubicle.”

Pixley collaborates with faculty, too, of course, but says the best part of her job is being in constant contact with the students.

“In previous positions I’ve held, students are handed off to other departments after their initial enrollment has ended,” she says. “Here, I like that I’m our students’ main go-to person and that they know they’re with me from beginning to end, through thick and thin. They know I have their backs, that I’ll handle all issues or changes that arise, and that they can come to me with any type of question.

“Our students feel comfortable with me, and many of them have said the students in this program and the support staff feel like a family. I’m very proud of that.”

And McPherson is clearly proud of Pixley.

“Erika is an asset and friend to our program, the School of Pharmacy, and UMB,” she says. “The program is an enormous success, and we cannot imagine that it would have been doing as well under anyone else’s care.”

— Lou Cortina

Lou CortinaEducation, People, UMB News, University LifeDecember 10, 20180 comments
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The President's Message - December 2018

The President’s Message

Check out the December issue of The President’s Message. It includes Dr. Perman’s column on our record-shattering year in extramural funding — $667.4 million in grants and contracts. Also, a holiday greeting; TEDx UMB showcases our big ideas; ceremonial opening for HSRF III; Project Feast serves Thanksgiving meals to those in need; Nursing, Social Work win HEED awards for diversity; students prevail in national public health interprofessional challenge; informatics pioneer saluted at UMB; University takes the fight against opioid addiction on the road; be merry, and wary, around the holidays; and a roundup of student, faculty, and staff achievements.

Back issues of the newsletter can be found in the archives.
Chris ZangABAE, Bulletin Board, Clinical Care, Collaboration, Community Service, Contests, Education, For B'more, People, Research, UMB News, University Life, USGADecember 10, 20180 comments
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Pharmacy student doing an experiment

School of Pharmacy Launches New Master’s in Pharmaceutical Sciences

The University of Maryland School of Pharmacy has launched a new Master of Science (MS) in Pharmaceutical Sciences (PSC) to provide students with the advanced education and cutting-edge training needed to obtain high-level research and leadership positions in pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies as well as in the federal government. The 16-month, full-time program is based at the Universities at Shady Grove in Rockville, Md., and integrates basic and applied pharmaceutical sciences with hands-on laboratory research experience.

“The School of Pharmacy is incredibly excited to offer the new MS in PSC,” says Sarah Michel, PhD, professor in PSC and director of the PSC Graduate Program. “We believe this degree fills a critical gap that many students encounter after completing a bachelor’s degree. While students might know that they want to pursue a career in research, they are not sure if a career in an industry, government, or academic setting is the best fit for them. Our program allows students to ‘test the waters,’ and equips them with the knowledge and skills necessary to pursue careers in the biopharmaceutical industry or federal government labs, or to take the next step in their education by completing a doctoral degree.”

Setting the Standard for Pharmaceutical Sciences Graduate Education

The MS in PSC is a full-time academic program designed for students who are interested in pursuing careers in scientific research. It builds on the School of Pharmacy’s more than 175-year reputation of advancing scientific knowledge across the spectrum of drug discovery and development, allowing students the opportunity to learn from faculty and other researchers who are widely recognized for their contributions to the field of pharmaceutical sciences, as well as pursue research in the areas of chemical and biology discovery, translational therapeutics, and pharmacometrics.

A hallmark of the MS in PSC is the completion of a biopharmaceutical research internship — an experience facilitated by the program’s prime location at the Universities at Shady Grove, which is just a short drive from several premier pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, research laboratories, and federal agencies that offer potential internships for students.

“The completion of a biopharmaceutical research internship truly sets apart the School of Pharmacy’s MS in PSC from other programs across the country,” Michel says. “Students are able to take the lead in designing and developing a unique research project, which they complete during their internship with a local pharmaceutical company, government agency, or faculty member at the school. This internship not only provides students with hands-on experience in a real laboratory setting, but also helps them better understand what to expect if they choose to pursue a career in that particular setting.

“This experience also helps students begin to build their professional network by introducing them to potential future employers.”

Preparing Students for Success Outside of the Classroom

The MS in PSC does not require the completion of a thesis. Instead, students complete and present a capstone project based on the research conducted during their biopharmaceutical research internship.

“The MS in PSC is a holistic program that provides students with the tools to both design a research project and disseminate the results of that projects,” Michel says. “We want to ensure that our graduates have all of the skills they will need to be successful pharmaceutical scientists.”

The MS in PSC welcomes students with degrees in a variety of different science disciplines, including chemistry, biology, and engineering. Students whose degrees are not in a scientific discipline, but who have completed specific prerequisite science classes are also invited to apply.

The application deadline for this program is March 15. To learn more, view this video or visit the program’s website.

— Malissa Carroll

Malissa CarrollEducation, UMB NewsDecember 6, 20180 comments
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Dr. Mackowiak discusses his new book

Mackowiak’s New Book Offers Intersection of Art, Medicine, and Science

Philip A. Mackowiak, MD ’70, MBA, is more medical historian than art aficionado, but in researching and writing his latest book, Patients As Art: Forty Thousand Years of Medical History in Drawings, Paintings, and Sculptures, he learned a few things along the way.

“Before doing this book, I couldn’t even spell the word ‘art’ — but now I’m an expert, thanks to the internet,” Mackowiak joked before launching a presentation about his new book to a crowd of 60 that included members of the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) community and his family and friends on Dec. 4 at Davidge Hall.

Mackowiak, professor emeritus of medicine and the Carolyn Frenkil and Selvin Passen History of Medicine Scholar at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM), delivered background and insight on the book during his half-hour lecture, which was sponsored by the UMB Council for the Arts & Culture. He displayed slides of 10 of the 160 pieces he analyzed from a medical and scientific perspective, ranging from Rembrandt’s famed The Raising of Lazarus to a watercolor titled Pollution, painted by a Canadian artist named Catherine Hennessey.

The watercolor, in fact, is featured on the cover of the book, which spans 244 pages and 10 chapters relating to medical subjects such as nutrition, surgery, mental health, genetics, and death and dying. Pollution is included in the chapter on public health. In the book, Mackowiak describes it, writing, “Hennessey’s image is arresting, shocking, yet strangely beautiful, like the vibrant colors of a sunset viewed through sickening urban smog.” (See photo, above)

“This artist has done a number of really captivating watercolors, but this is the opus magnum,” Mackowiak told the crowd, adding that he was so taken with the painting that he bought it from Hennessey.

Mackowiak continued the lecture with more art analyses and medical diagnoses, including:

  • The Dissection of a Cadaver, 15th century: Mackowiak noted that the procedure illustrated probably wasn’t a dissection at all, because a close inspection shows that three of the men standing over the body seem to be holding him down, an insight first noted by his former UMSOM colleague Frank M. Calia, MD, MACP. “And you see a fellow on the far right of the painting who’s holding something in his hand. So based on Dr. Calia’s observations and doing another consideration of the painting, I suggest that this is not the dissection of a cadaver. In fact, it’s a lithotomy — the removal of a bladder stone, and that stone is being held by the person at the far right.”
  • The Beggars, 1568: This painting depicts beggars with missing legs, but Mackowiak surmises that there was no medical reason for amputation. Studying the expressions on their faces led him to believe they were mentally retarded. “There was no disorder at that time that could have destroyed the lower legs in a symmetrical fashion without killing them,” he said. “So I suggest these were strategic amputations done by the family to make these poor souls more pitiable and therefore more effective as beggars. That sounds bizarre, and it’s hard to believe. But I saw exactly this same thing in Bangladesh when I was there as a medical student at this institution.”
  • Battle of Issus, 100 B.C.: From this mosaic, Mackowiak blew up an inset of Alexander the Great and takes a keen focus on Alexander’s eyes, which seem to show concern rather than confidence. “Does that look like an all-conquering warrior?” Mackowiak said. “To my way of thinking, it looks like a warrior who wonders, ‘What the hell am I doing here?’ The artist who produced this might well have realized the existence not only of post-traumatic stress disorder in the common soldier, but also that this sort of thing can happen to commanders, too.”

Mackowiak’s presentation clearly showed his expertise as one of the most accomplished medical historians in the country, and Patients As Art follows his first two books, Post Mortem: Solving History’s Great Medical Mysteries, and Diagnosing Giants: Solving the Medical Mysteries of Thirteen Patients Who Changed the World.  

Since the mid-1990s, he and the University of Maryland Medical Alumni Association have organized the Historical Clinicopathological Conference, which has examined the illnesses or deaths of figures such as Edgar Allan Poe, Abraham Lincoln, Eleanor Roosevelt, Christopher Columbus, Beethoven, and Mozart. The 2007 conference, for instance, determined that President Lincoln would have survived an assassin’s bullet if the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center existed in 1865. The 26th conference will be held in May 2019. 

Larry Pitrof, the alumni association’s executive director, noted that when Mackowiak talked about retiring five years ago, two benefactors — Carolyn Frenkil and Selvin Passen, MD — stepped up to fund the doctor’s endowed scholar position. Pitrof thanked Frenkil, who was in attendance, for her support, as well as the UMB Council for the Arts & Culture for its sponsorship of the lecture.

“We’re celebrating an awful lot of history on the UMB campus right now,” Pitrof said, “and it’s our belief that programs like this truly separate the great institutions from the good ones.”

— Lou Cortina

Learn more about the book.

 

Lou CortinaEducation, People, UMB News, University LifeDecember 6, 20180 comments
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School of Medicine logo

Heart Failure Seminar Scheduled for Jan. 18

Spend Jan. 18 learning about the latest advances in heart failure care, including when to refer patients for consideration of mechanical heart pumps and heart transplant. The registration deadline is Jan. 5, but you can register early for a discount by Dec. 15. Food and parking are complimentary.

Purposes of the seminar

  • To provide state-of-the-art, up-to-date reviews of diagnosis and management for patients with heart failure with reduced and preserved ejection fraction, pulmonary hypertension and right heart failure, amyloidosis, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, mechanical circulatory support, and heart transplantation.
  • To emphasize the importance of early referral for advanced therapy evaluation.

More info

  • Speakers: Experts in the field of heart failure and cardiothoracic surgery from the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins Hospital.
  • Target audience: Physicians, pharmacists, NPs, PAs, RNs, fellows, residents, students.
  • When: Friday, Jan. 18
  • Time: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Where: SMC Campus Center
  • Registration:  Go to this website. RNs should click option for NPs and pharmacists to register.
  • Early bird registration: Dec. 15 by 5 p.m.
  • Regular registration deadline: Jan. 5 by 5 p.m.
  • Note: Submit your challenging cases for discussion via email to vton@som.umaryland.edu
Van-Khue TonClinical Care, Education, UMB NewsDecember 6, 20180 comments
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Ashlee Mattingly, PharmD, BCPS

Mattingly Awarded $2.2 Million Grant to Investigate Bulk Drug Substances for Compounding

Ashlee Mattingly, PharmD, BCPS, assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science (PPS) at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, has been awarded a three-year, $2.2 million grant from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate the use in clinical practice of drugs, including certain bulk drug substances (active ingredients) that have been nominated for use in compounding by outsourcing facilities. The research will assist the FDA in its efforts to develop a list of bulk drug substances that outsourcing facilities can use in compounding under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

“Compounded drugs serve an important role for patients whose medication needs cannot be met by an FDA-approved drug product, such as patients who have an allergy and need a medication to be made without a certain dye,” says Mattingly. “Our research will examine how drugs compounded with certain bulk drug substances have been used historically, as well as how they are currently used in clinical practice, which will help the FDA determine whether these substances should be included on its list of bulk drug substances that outsourcing facilities can use in compounding.”

Improving Drug Quality

In 2012, contaminated injectable drugs that a state-licensed compounding pharmacy shipped across the country caused an outbreak of fungal meningitis that led to more than 60 deaths and 750 cases of infection across the United States. In response to this outbreak, Congress enacted the Drug Quality and Security Act (DQSA), which amended the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to strengthen the FDA’s authority to regulate and monitor compounded drugs.

The legislation, among other things, established a new category of compounders known as outsourcing facilities, which are registered with the FDA and operate under the direct supervision of a licensed pharmacist. These facilities can only compound using bulk drug substances if the substance is used to compound a drug on the FDA’s drug shortage list, or appears on a list that will be developed by the FDA of bulk drug substances for which there is a clinical need.

Stephen Hoag, PhD, professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences (PSC) and director of the Applied Pharmaceutics Lab at the School of Pharmacy, who joins Mattingly as a collaborator on this project, explains, “It’s a difficult balancing act with which the FDA has been tasked. The FDA wants to make compounded medications available for the patients who need them, but it must also take certain precautions to help ensure that the medications are compounded properly, and not otherwise harmful to patients. We will help the FDA collect information that it will use to make informed decisions about which substances should be used in compounding, as well as which substances should not be used in compounding.”

Leveraging an Existing Partnership

This University of Maryland Center of Excellence in Regulatory Science and Innovation (M-CERSI) grant is part of an ongoing partnership between the University of Maryland, Baltimore; the University of Maryland, College Park; and the FDA. M-CERSI focuses on modernizing and improving the ways drugs and medical devices are evaluated. James Polli, PhD, the Shangraw/Noxell Endowed Chair in Industrial Pharmacy and Pharmaceutics at the School of Pharmacy and co-principal investigator for M-CERSI, will partner with Mattingly and Hoag on this project.

“The goal of M-CERSI is to bring together researchers from across the University of Maryland to assist the FDA with a wide range of regulatory science issues,” says Polli. “We want FDA scientists to be best informed when making decisions that will affect patients, providers, researchers, and manufacturers across the country. Through our involvement in this project, we are helping to support FDA’s efforts in identifying bulk drug substances for which there is a clinical need.”

Reaching Out to the Experts

The project will include an in-depth review of clinical practice guidelines, published literature, and other relevant sources regarding the clinical use of drugs containing certain bulk drug substances. Some of the bulk drug substances that Mattingly and her team have been tasked with evaluating include alpha lipoic acid (a supplement often used by individuals with diabetes and peripheral neuropathy) and glycolic acid (a substance used to treat conditions affecting the skin, such as scarring and hyperpigmentation).

Mattingly and her team will also conduct outreach to medical specialty groups, medical experts, and specialists in the relevant fields to gain a better understanding of the medical conditions these substances are used to treat, how long these substances have been in use in the clinical setting, the patient populations in which the substances have been used, the extent of their use, and whether the substances are used to compound drugs that health care providers store in their offices in advance of identifying the individual patients that will receive the drugs, as was the case for the contaminated steroid injections linked to the fungal meningitis outbreak in 2012.

“We want to make sure FDA has all of the information it needs to develop the best, most thorough list of bulk drug substances for use in compounding,” says Mattingly.

Informing Best Practices

From 2014 to 2015, FDA sought nominations from relevant medical experts and existing outsourcing facilities for bulk drug substances to include on its list. More than 200 substances have been nominated to-date.

Mattingly and her team will work together, while leveraging their individual expertise in pharmacy practice and pharmaceutical sciences as well as their extensive outreach to medical experts, to understand use in clinical practice of more than 200 substances. Once the research is complete, the team will prepare a report summarizing its findings, which the FDA will use to help inform its decisions regarding each substance.

“This project is really about learning as much as we can about each substance that has been nominated for inclusion on FDA’s list of bulk drug substances for which there is a clinical need,” says Mattingly. “Our goal is to support FDA’s efforts to preserve access to compounded drug products that meet individual patients’ medical needs.”

For more information about this project, please visit pharmacy.umaryland.edu/compounding.

 

Malissa CarrollClinical Care, Research, UMB NewsDecember 4, 20180 comments
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Hello ... Hola on chalkboard

Spanish Language Conversation Group Meeting on Dec. 7

The Spanish Language Conversation Group will meet Friday, Dec. 7, from 12:15 p.m. to 1:15 pm. at the School of Social Work, Room 2310.

The group will be joined for the first part of the meeting by guest speaker Amy Greensfelder, who will talk about her work as executive director of the Pro Bono Counseling Project of Maryland and will offer information about volunteer opportunities and advanced clinical field placement opportunities for social workers. The meeting will include some time afterward for discussion in Spanish.

There will be light snacks provided, so please bring your lunch.

For questions, please email Katie  at kgolden@umaryland.edu.

Katie GoldenClinical Care, Collaboration, Community Service, Education, People, UMB News, University LifeDecember 3, 20180 comments
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Barbara Mikulski speaks to the UMB audience

Mikulski Talks Social Work Roots, Local Organizing, D.C. Politics

Barbara Mikulski, MSW ’65, was a social worker before launching her legendary and pioneering 45-year political career, but she doesn’t consider it a former job.

“People always say that I was once a social worker, but I say this: If you are a social worker, there’s never a ‘once,’” said Mikulski, drawing applause as the featured guest in the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) President’s Panel on Politics and Policy on Nov. 27 at the SMC Campus Center. “You are a social worker forever in whatever you do and whatever you become. And I think going into politics is social work with power.”

A proud graduate of the University of Maryland School of Social Work, Mikulski talked about those social work roots, community organizing, civility in Washington, presidential politics, the 2020 census, and more in her conversation with UMB President Jay A. Perman, MD. She also took questions from the crowd of 220-plus that filled the Elm Ballrooms for the seventh installment of the panel series, which was launched in January 2017 to examine issues important to the University community that are likely to be affected by the Trump administration and Congress.

(Read about past speakers here and view a photo gallery from the Mikulski event here.)

In his introduction, Perman described Mikulski as his friend and advisor and detailed her trailblazing work as a champion for women, higher education, seniors, and the disadvantaged as the longest-serving woman ever in the U.S. Senate. He pointed out that when Mikulski was asked why she wasn’t seeking a sixth term in 2016, she said, “Well, do I spend my time raising money, or do I spend my time raising hell?”

“You know which one she chose,” Perman said with a smile.

Indeed, during the hourlong event, Mikulski showed the mix of feisty and folksy that made her a Maryland political legend and a 30-year force in the Senate, stressing that interpersonal relationships and unconventional thinking often are the keys to getting things accomplished. Now a professor of public policy at Johns Hopkins University, Mikulski began by recounting her shift from social worker to community organizer, rallying opposition to a federal highway construction project in Baltimore 50 years ago.

“I said, ‘Look, we need to fight this,’” Mikulski said. “So we got people in the community together at a bar, had a few shots of ouzo, and said we have to give ourselves a militant name and create the illusion of power. So we came out with SCAR, the Southeast Council Against the Road, and I began the highway fight that took me into politics.”

In her next stop, early during her tenure on the Baltimore City Council that began in 1971, Mikulski said she asked the body’s president to go outside the committee structure to create a rape task force, aiming to treat women who had been assaulted as trauma victims rather than merely crime victims. Counting the task force as among her proudest achievements, Mikulski said of her approach, “Always go outside the box, because otherwise you leave yourself in a box forever.”

This type of thinking was present during her time in the House of Representatives (1976-1986) and in the Senate (1986-2017), she said, particularly in regard to bipartisanship. Mikulski, a Democrat, recalled that in the early 1990s a newly elected Republican senator from Texas, Kay Bailey Hutchison, reached out to her for a meeting and, despite her staff’s misgivings, she obliged. This led to a friendship with Hutchison and regular meetings among female senators from both political aisles, she said.

“We didn’t agree on a lot of issues,” Mikulski said. “But we agreed on two things first: We would approach each other in a zone of civility and we would never demonize each other. We would always interact with integrity, a sense of honor, and intellectual rigor.”

Mikulski said that areas of agreement included promoting women’s economic empowerment and especially women’s health, and that the senators from opposing parties could find common ground on issues such as mammogram quality standards and breast cancer research funding.

“We all agreed if we were going to ‘Race for the Cure,’ we wanted to lead the marathon, so that was another proud accomplishment,” Mikulski said.

Searching for Common Ground

Staying on the topic of political relations, Perman asked about the state of affairs in Washington today and whether the partisan divide could ever be bridged. “How do these two parties at odds on absolutely everything find some common ground?” he said.

While lamenting the vitriol and gridlock, Mikulski was optimistic that newcomers in the next Congress — “a blue wave that I’d hoped would be a tsunami,” she said — could help to turn the tide of negativity.

“There’s a tremendous new group coming in and a lot of new women got elected,” Mikulski said. “And not only does the blue wave wear lipstick and high heels, it wears camouflage. Many of the women coming in have had military service. And these veterans bring a different view. They’re a different generation. They’re not only going to come to fight for veterans’ health care, but they will oppose wars that should not be fought and make sure we win wars if we’re going to fight them.

“Most important, I believe they’re going to put country over party. I think that they’re going to make a difference, not only in terms of policy, but in terms of tone and tenor. Keep an eye on them.”

Asked about her thoughts on the 2020 presidential race, Mikulski said she thinks the Democratic nominee will come out of the West or Midwest and that President Donald Trump will face a challenge from within the Republican Party. She said the Democrats’ race could be over quick, partly because California’s primary was moved from June to March, and she mentioned four senators — Amy Klobuchar, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, and Sherrod Brown — as possible contenders.

“These are very talented people,” she said. “You also have Joe Biden pondering a run and Bernie Sanders pondering another run. So it’s going to be exciting.”

2020 Census Critical for Baltimore

Bringing the discussion back to the local level, Mikulski, a lifelong resident of Baltimore, stressed the importance of the city’s participation in the 2020 census, tasking Perman and the University community with aiding Mayor Catherine Pugh to make sure every person is counted so the city can receive its fair share of federal funds.

“The consequences for Baltimore and Maryland are significant,” Mikulski said. “Eighty-five percent of all federal funds that will come to Baltimore will be formula-driven, from Medicaid to mass transit, from Section 8 housing to school lunch programs. If we don’t get the census right, we will disadvantage ourselves for a decade — for a decade!”

An undertaking like the census, Mikulski added, is where members of the UMB community can learn real-world lessons in civic engagement. And while she recognizes the power of technology and social media, she hopes that young people will realize that it takes more than emails, tweets, or hashtags to effect social change.

“This is a fantastic tool for organizing,” Mikulski said, holding up her cellphone, “but it’s also bloodless, you know? You might get the email, but you don’t get the person. So that’s why there’s nothing like interpersonal gatherings.

“I would encourage civic engagement and volunteerism, and my advice is this: Don’t treat civic engagement like it’s just an event. ‘Oh, I will go to the march. Oh, I will race for the breast cancer cure.’ That’s great. That’s wonderful. But you’ve got to do more than that.

“Engagement has to be a lifestyle, not an event.”

— Lou Cortina

Lou CortinaFor B'more, People, UMB News, University Administration, University LifeNovember 30, 20180 comments
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Employee of the Month Ferdine Ramadan and Dr. Perman

With Quick Action, Security Officer Ramadan Earns Employee of the Month Award

“Protect the people.”

That’s the mindset Ferdine Ramadan carries with her every day in her job as a University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) security officer stationed inside Health Sciences Research Facility I. And it’s what prompted her quick thinking and actions recently when two men took an apparent disagreement from the sidewalk into the building.

One man entered the facility first, being pursued by a second man, but Ramadan’s rapid response defused the situation. She stopped the first man from moving farther inside the building while calling for backup on her radio, then persuaded the other man to back down before sending both outside the facility while UMB Police arrived on the scene.

“My main thought was to get them out and protect the people inside the building,” says Ramadan, an 18-year UMB employee. “I didn’t want them to get upstairs. I didn’t want them to scare people or get to the point where it gets physical and escalates.”

For her actions, Ramadan received the UMB Employee of the Month Award for November, earning praise from University President Jay A. Perman, MD, and congratulations from UMB Police Chief Alice Cary, MS, and other public safety colleagues during a ceremony Nov. 26 in the President’s Boardroom at the Saratoga Building.

The ceremony was supposed to be a surprise, but Ramadan had figured it out. Someone told her she’d been nominated for the UMB award, and her colleagues had been offering congratulations, without saying why. “I’d say to them, ‘What are you congratulating me for?’ And they would walk away without replying,” she said. “I kind of knew something was going on.”

Perman took note of that in his remarks. “This was going to be a surprise, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that we want to honor you … so act surprised or something!” he joked before handing Ramadan a plaque, a letter of commendation, and news that an extra $250 would be in her next paycheck.

Turning serious, Perman told Ramadan, “You are the Employee of the Month because the people who you help and the people who you protect have chosen to honor you. And it’s a real privilege for me to thank you. Clearly you provide an example for everybody at UMB because you are so devoted to this institution. It’s very much appreciated.”

Ramadan’s effective response was appreciated, too, by Anita Warren, a research data entry operator at the School of Medicine who observed the security officer’s actions that day and promptly put forth her Employee of the Month nomination on the Human Resources website.

“I was able to witness firsthand the professionalism, effectiveness, and safety-first attitude of Ferdine Ramadan,” Warren said. “These men were attempting to enter the facility without due cause or reason, other than to harm each other and maybe innocent bystanders. Ms. Ramadan politely but forcibly got these men to leave the building, then she was able to alert her fellow officers to the situation.

“With her willingness to ensure the safety of the staff and visitors first, she was able to provide vital information to responding officers. I believe if it was not for her quick action, this situation could have escalated.”

Asked about being singled out for such praise, Ramadan says that she doesn’t like to draw attention to herself and that she was simply doing her job. And she called it a teachable moment.

“When I got home, I replayed the whole incident in my head, sort of thinking, ‘What could I have done differently? Maybe next time I should communicate to my superior officers better via my radio.’ But the more I think about it, I was just doing my job the best I could.

“The main thing is that nobody got hurt, and I’m happy for that.”

— Lou Cortina

 

Lou CortinaPeople, UMB News, University LifeNovember 30, 20180 comments
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Human finger while it pushes the blue register online button on aluminium computer keyboard on office desk.

Spring Semester Parking Registration for Students

Attention, student parkers at UMB:

Spring semester online parking registration begins Jan. 1, and new and returning parkers must register online. After Feb. 8, posted garage rates will apply to all students who have not purchased or renewed their permit and garage access will be denied.

Visit the UMB Parking and Transportation Services website for more information.

Jennifer CoolahanBulletin Board, UMB News, University Life, USGANovember 26, 20180 comments
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Thank You image

Thank You from President Perman: Paid Administrative Leave on Dec. 24

With thanks for your hard work throughout the year, UMB President Jay A. Perman is offering one day of paid administrative leave to staff on Monday, Dec. 24.

Staff who are not categorized as essential employees will be excused from work. (Policies governing leave administration are available from your supervisor and from Human Resource Services.)

Communications and Public AffairsUMB News, University AdministrationNovember 21, 20180 comments
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