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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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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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The Christmas Store

UMB’s Christmas Store Seeks Donations of Affordable Gifts

We know Christmas gifts can be expensive. Our goal at the Christmas Store, an annual partnership between UMB’s Office of Community Engagement and The Foundry, is to provide families with a unique opportunity to purchase gifts at a significantly reduced price, so that every family can experience the joy of giving.

Donating to the Christmas Store is fast, easy, and affordable. Using the online Target Registry or Amazon Wish List, donors can purchase gifts priced as low as $3.99 from their computers or mobile devices, whether at work or at home. The gifts are automatically shipped, at no cost, to the Christmas Store organizers, who will arrange the gifts in the Community Engagement Center.

If you’re donating through a registry for the first time, the directions below might come in handy. Thanks for donating, and happy holidays!

How to Donate to the Christmas Store

    1. Click here to access the The Foundry & Christmas Store’s Target Registry. Alternatively, click here to access the Amazon Wish List. 
    2. Select toys to purchase by clicking “Add to Cart.” After adding an item to your cart, you can either “View Cart and Checkout,” where you can immediately purchase the item(s) added to your cart, or you can click “Continue Shopping” to select more items. When you’re ready to check out, click the button shaped like a shopping cart at the top right corner of the screen.
    3. Review your cart summary to make sure that your order is correct.
    4. If you have a Target.com or Amazon.com account, make sure you’re signed in. If you do not have an account, create one.
    5. Under shipping address, select “Ship to the address on the registry (or wishlist).” Do not add a new address. Click “Save and Continue.” The delivery cost in your order summary should say “free.”
    6. Choose your payment method, then enter your payment and contact information. Follow the order process until you successfully place your order. You will receive an e-mail confirmation of your purchase and notification of its shipment once it is processed.

There also are opportunities to volunteer at the Christmas Store on two Saturdays, Dec. 8 and Dec. 15. Please contact Camille Givens-Patterson in the Office of Community Engagement or call 410-706-3955 for any questions.

Office of Community EngagementCommunity Service, Global & Community Engagement, University AdministrationNovember 21, 20180 comments
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Dr. Perman talks at the TEDx UMB event

TEDx Event Amplifies UMB’s Cutting-Edge Innovations

The audience seated in an intimate ballroom at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) turned its attention to a small stage at the front of the room. The stage filled with red light as Nadine M. Finigan-Carr, PhD, MS, a research associate professor at the University of Maryland School of Social Work, entered from behind a black curtain off to the right.

“I am a P-H-Diva,” Finigan-Carr declared. “I study sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll, and I’m here to tell you about the perfect combination of the three: child sex trafficking.” And with that, Finigan-Carr began her TEDx talk titled Child Prostitutes Don’t Exist, which discussed the topic of minors being manipulated and trafficked for sex.

Her riveting talk was part of TEDx University of Maryland, Baltimore (TEDx UMB), an inaugural, day-long event for the University put on through TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design), a nonprofit organization devoted to “ideas worth spreading.” The goal of a TEDx program is to carry out TED’s mission in local communities around the world through a series of live speakers and recorded TED Talks.

On Nov. 9, 10 speakers from the UMB community took the stage to share their innovative ideas across a wide scope of subject areas united under a single theme culled from the University’s mission statement: Improving the Human Condition. Each speaker approached the theme from a unique perspective informed by life, work, and experience. This brought forth an engaging mix of topics ranging from pioneering augmented reality in the operating room to exploring a middle ground in gender beyond just male and female.

(View a photo gallery.)

“All of the speakers are passionate about the work they are doing,” explains Roger J. Ward, EdD, JD, MSL, MPA, UMB’s senior vice president for operations and institutional effectiveness and a member of the committee that organized TEDx UMB. “As an institution for health and human services, UMB conducts a multitude of cutting-edge research and education and we’re always looking for platforms to amplify our work.”

UMB’s cutting-edge research certainly was demonstrated by TEDx UMB speaker Samuel A. Tisherman, MD, FACS, FCCM, a professor of surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM), with his talk: A Cool Way to Save Dying Trauma Patients.

Tisherman discussed the idea of using EPR (Emergency Preservation and Resuscitation) on patients with severe traumatic injuries like gunshot or stab wounds to help stave off death during surgery. The innovative medical technique involves pumping the human body with cold saline (a saltwater solution used for resuscitation) to lower a dying patient’s body temperature to a hypothermic state. This slows the patients’ need for oxygen and blood flow, giving surgeons more time to perform life-saving operations.

“There’s this dogma in surgery that hypothermia is bad, but I would have to disagree,” Tisherman told the audience. “There are numerous reports of patients having cold water drowning, but they survived after being under water for over an hour. Think about that for a second. You’re underwater, can’t breathe, but your body cools fast enough so that your brain, your heart, and other organs are protected, and you can actually survive for over an hour.”

EPR is currently in human trials at the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center. If it continues to be successful, EPR potentially could lead to reduced mortality rates in trauma centers around the world, which fits right into TEDx UMB’s theme of Improving the Human Condition.

Mary J. Tooey, MLS, AHIP, FMLA, associate vice president for Academic Affairs and executive director of UMB’s Health Sciences and Human Services Library, served as emcee for the day, and UMB President Jay A. Perman, MD, kicked off the proceedings with his talk, No Money, No Mission. Perman discussed how he learned to balance empathy with good business practices from his parents while growing up in their family-owned dry cleaning business in Chicago. Perman explained how he has put that lesson to use as a pediatric gastrienterologist and as the president of a university that produces hundreds of millions of dollars worth of groundbreaking research and innovations every year.

The day continued with more compelling and thought-provoking discussions. Russell McClain, JD ’95, an associate professor and associate dean at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, used the back of a cereal box to demonstrate and launch a discussion about implicit bias and stereotype threat; Luana Colloca, MD, PhD, MS, an associate professor at the University of Maryland School of Nursing and at UMSOM, explored the idea of using the brain’s own power as a solution to the opioid crisis; and Jenny Owens, ScD, MS, the faculty executive director of UMB’s Graduate Research Innovation District (the Grid), delivered a talk about her passion project, Hosts for Humanity, an organization that connects families and friends of children traveling to receive medical care with volunteer hosts offering accommodations in their homes.

“I think events like TEDx are really encouraging,” Owens said. “Seeing all of the amazing work people are doing and how much time and commitment they’re putting into making the world a better place is really inspiring, and I hope it inspires people to go out there and get to work on their own ideas.”

Although each speaker at TEDx UMB was part of the UMB community, their audience was not limited to the 100 people seated in the ballroom. The event was livestreamed on YouTube to a global audience, allowing its outreach and engagement to go far beyond the local community.

“There are so many talented people doing important work here at UMB,” said John Palinski, MPA, a philanthropy officer at UMB and a member of the TEDx planning committee. “TEDx is a bit of education in just reminding people who we are by projecting to the world all the wonderful things that are happening here.”

Members of UMB’s TEDx planning committee hope that this year is just the beginning of an annual event that showcases UMB’s commitment to sparking deep discussions and spreading innovative ideas to improve humanity.

“I am so pleased with this year’s event and I’m already excited for next year,” concluded Palinski.

Jena FrickCollaboration, Education, People, Research, Technology, UMB News, University Administration, University Life, USGANovember 14, 20180 comments
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Dean Reece and Dr. Perman with Dr. Thomas Scalea

UMB States Its Case at Founders Week Gala

From the Berger Cookie-inspired cupcakes to the state flag on the program, there was no doubt that “Taking Care of Maryland” was the theme of the University of Maryland, Baltimore’s (UMB) 23rd annual Founders Week Gala on Oct. 13 at the Hyatt Regency Baltimore Inner Harbor.

“There’s scarcely a Marylander who hasn’t been touched in some way by the work we do here at UMB,” said University President Jay A. Perman, MD, who hosted the Gala, attended by more than 500 UMB faculty, staff, students, and supporters. “By the professionals we graduate; by the research we conduct; by the technologies we invent; by the care, counsel, and service we provide.

“You know, each year when I go before the legislature, I tell our lawmakers where their investment goes: how we use the money they give us to make Maryland better, its people healthier and happier; its laws more just; its communities more resilient. UMB is Maryland’s No. 1 asset in supplying the workforce we need to care for the state’s citizens.”

Dean Reece, Valli Meeks and Dr. PermanSpeaking about combating chronic pain as well as the opioid crisis that killed 2,200 Marylanders last year, Perman added, “We’re bringing all seven of our schools together to end this epidemic of addiction, to tie together the science, policy, and practice that save lives — and kindle hope.”

Those are some of the Big Ideas being addressed by UMB’s multi-year $750 million Catalyst Campaign. Catalyst co-chair Ellen H. Yankellow, PharmD ’96, was happy to inform the crowd of supporters that the campaign, which was launched at the 2017 Gala, has surpassed $424 million in gifts and commitments for student scholarships, faculty excellence and research, and school-specific and community engagement endeavors.

“With the exceptional leadership of Dr. Perman and his team of excellent academic and administrative leaders, the University benefits from the interest and support of a growing number of alumni, friends, and benefactors who strive on behalf of a cause that is undeniably improving the human condition,” said Yankellow, president and CEO of Correct Rx Pharmacy Services, Inc. “We enthusiastically aim to take this extraordinary effort to lofty new levels of achievement and distinction.”

UMB has done much to “take care of Maryland.” For instance:

  • 77 percent of UMB’s students are Marylanders
  • UMB confers 53 percent of the professional doctorate degrees awarded each year in Maryland
  • UMB creates 18,000 jobs in Maryland
  • Every year, UMB’s people contribute 2 million hours in volunteer service to Marylanders
  • Last year, UMB won a record-breaking $667.4 million in research grants and contracts, fueling Maryland’s knowledge economy
  • Every year, UMB provides $40 million in uncompensated care to Maryland residents
  • UMB has a $2.8 billion economic impact on Maryland
  • UMB returns $13 to Maryland for every dollar of state support

After Perman, Yankellow, and emcee Deborah Weiner, anchor of WBAL-TV, had praised the University’s many achievements, UMB Foundation chair Harry C. Knipp, MD, FACR, presented the foundation’s Distinguished Service Award to Margaret “Meg” Woodside, MBA, MSW ’07, for her “extraordinary dedication and impactful service” to the School of Social Work.

The Gala is the signature event of Founders Week, which honors UMB’s proud 211-year history, marks the achievements of current faculty, staff, and students, and looks ahead to the innovations to come. This year’s top researcher, teacher, public servant, and entrepreneurs — who were honored after dinner — carry on that fine UMB tradition.

MARS teammates Thomas M. Scalea, MD, FACS, MCCM, Deborah M. Stein, MD, MPH, FACS, FCCM, and Steven I. Hanish, MD, FACS (School of Medicine and R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center) were named Entrepreneurs of the Year. Their innovative application of the Molecular Adsorbent Recirculating System (MARS), considered a “dialysis machine for the liver,” has given new hope to acute liver failure sufferers, allowing time for spontaneous recovery or transplantation.

Karen L. Kotloff, MD, is UMB’s 2018 Researcher of the Year. Considered a leading authority in the world on human controlled infection models for shigellosis, a major cause of diarrhea mortality in children, Kotloff’s work with the School of Medicine’s Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health has saved the lives of countless children in the U.S. and developing countries.

A 30-plus-year UMB employee like Kotloff, Geoffrey L. Greif, PhD, MSW, was named Teacher of the Year. In addition to shaping the next generation as a challenging professor at the School of Social Work, Greif is a researcher, author of 14 books, and community organizer, counseling prison inmates, AIDS patients, and parent support groups.

Valli Meeks, DDS, MS, RDH, an alumna of the School of Dentistry who has worked there for 29 years, is UMB’s Public Servant of the Year. She not only opened (and still directs) the state’s first dental clinic for Marylanders with HIV/AIDS and no insurance but also led a collaboration that helped form the first school of dentistry in Rwanda.

After the awards presentation, the attendees enjoyed a dessert reception of Maryland-inspired treats and enjoyed the music of the Sounds Good! jazz ensemble.

— Chris Zang

View the Gala photo gallery and learn more about the award winners and Founders Week.

Watch a video recap of the Gala.

Chris ZangCollaboration, Education, People, UMB News, University Administration, University LifeOctober 19, 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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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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Stein and Scalea

Founders Week-Entrepreneurs of the Year: The MARS Team

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 Entrepreneurs of the Year presentation and reception.

Today: Entrepreneurs of the Year

The MARS Team
Steven I. Hanish, MD, FACS
Thomas M. Scalea, MD, FACS, MCCM
Deborah M. Stein, MD, MPH, FACS, FCCM
School of Medicine
R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center
University of Maryland Medical Center

Entrepreneurs transform their discoveries into outcomes that benefit the people they serve. In the case of MARS (Molecular Adsorbent Recirculating System), the three physician-scientists listed above have demonstrated how discovery-based clinical innovations can make the difference between life and death for thousands of patients.

Liver failure is a devastating disease that affects around 1,600 patients in the U.S. each year. Modern medicine has developed a variety of devices to support failing organs — ventilators for the lungs, ventricular assist devices for the heart, dialysis for the kidneys. Until recently, there was nothing for the failing liver.

Thanks to these three outstanding physician-scientists and their innovative application of MARS now there is hope. This “dialysis machine for the liver” can remove toxins, improve clotting, and reduce brain swelling. MARS can be used to buy time for the liver to recover. In some cases where recovery is not possible, MARS is a bridge to liver transplant.

Steven HanishIn addition to the expertise of Thomas Scalea, physician-in-chief of the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center, Deborah Stein, its chief of trauma, and Steven Hanish, a liver transplant surgeon who has since left Shock Trauma, good old-fashioned luck played a part in Shock Trauma becoming the first to use MARS when a gunshot victim being treated there developed profound liver failure.

“We had heard of the MARS. It seemed like the perfect application. We called the company and it turned out there was one in the area. An institution had bought it but then changed its mind,” Scalea recalls. “The device was on a truck passing through Maryland. I called Karen Doyle [senior vice president at Shock Trauma] and we purchased it that day. It was delivered within hours.”

When the patient and then several more responded to the MARS treatment, which can replace hepatic function in acute liver failure sufferers, Scalea, Stein, and Hanish began a formalized study.

From January 2013 to December 2016, they assessed data from increasing numbers of liver patients, who were referred to Scalea and his team as word spread of their MARS success. At the conclusion of their study, the three reported their encouraging results before the American Surgical Association.

“The results are nothing short of amazing,” says Samuel A. Tisherman, MD, FACS, FCCM, director, Surgical Intensive Care Unit at the University of Maryland Medical Center. “These are patients who surely would have died, but they survive and go on to lead happy, healthy, and productive lives.”

Adds School of Medicine Dean E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, “Working collaboratively, Drs. Hanish, Scalea, and Stein have repurposed an existing technology to help extend and, indeed, save the lives of patients who have experienced acute liver failure. They have published the results of their life-saving work with MARS, paving the way for other clinicians to use this device and affect the lives of countless other patients,” says Reece, who is also executive vice president for medical affairs at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB). “Their results using MARS as a bridge-to-transplant could also serve as an important first step in gaining FDA approval for liver transplant recipients.”

One of the foremost authorities in the world on trauma research, education, and clinical practice, Scalea is a seemingly round-the-clock fixture at Shock Trauma, where he has worked 80- to 100-hour weeks since becoming physician-in-chief in 1997. He says he is grateful for the Entrepreneur of the Year recognition of “the wonderful interaction between clinical care and investigation. It is especially meaningful to be recognized in conjunction with Dr. Stein. I have really enjoyed watching her career mature and seeing her develop into a master clinician, administrator, and investigator. Watching our trainees excel makes me know that our specialty is in good hands going forward.”

Stein, who said she was “pleased and honored” by the award and whose national service includes active participation in virtually every major trauma, critical care, and surgical society, paid tribute to Scalea when she was invested as the R Adams Cowley, MD, Professor in Shock and Trauma in May 2016.

Stein, whose father and grandfather were physicians, called Scalea her voice, her conscience, her source of confidence, her mentor in every way. “What can I possibly say to the man who, quite literally, changed my life?” she said of Scalea. “You have trained me to be the best, to provide the absolute best care to patients. You have modeled kindness and compassion and humanity and sympathy and service.”

Hanish, who is now director of adult, pediatric, and living donor liver transplant at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and the Children’s Medical Center of Dallas, recognizes firsthand the hardship that patients must endure while waiting for a suitable organ donor. According to national statistics, the liver transplant waiting list contains nearly 14,000 people — many of whom may die before they can receive surgery.

“MARS allows us to hopefully save those who wouldn’t be saved without the technology,” Hanish says. “The beauty of the system is not the box and cartridges, but how it represents a multidisciplinary/multi-modal approach to a critical care organ failure problem.”

James L. Hughes, MBA, oversees the Entrepreneur of the Year process as UMB’s chief enterprise and economic development officer and vice president, and he says the MARS team’s pioneering spirit symbolizes what the award is about.

“Entrepreneurship combines innovation and impact,” Hughes says. “Through persistence and meticulous research, the MARS team is on the path to turn inspiration to save one life into a new standard of care for thousands of patients.”

Adds Anthony F. Lehman, MD, MSPH, senior associate dean for clinical affairs at the School of Medicine, “We believe that this team is a perfect example of what differentiates UMB and its faculty from other universities: Our collaboration and entrepreneurial mindset is focused on helping the most critical patients when life is truly on the line.”

— Chris Zang

(Note: Top photo is Stein and Scalea; inset photo is Hanish)

Chris ZangEducation, People, Research, UMB News, University Administration, University LifeOctober 2, 20180 comments
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Dr. Perman, John Wolfe, and Elsie Stines

Speaker Enlightens UMB on Diversity and Inclusion Through Disruption

As the former associate vice chancellor for diversity and academic leadership development for the University System of Maryland, John T. Wolfe Jr., PhD, MS, isn’t one to back down from challenges.

So when he was asked to give the third presentation in the Diversity Advisory Council (DAC) Speaker Series at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) on Sept. 17, Wolfe jumped in with both feet, stirring the pot from the outset.

Before a roomful of UMB students, faculty, and staff, Wolfe began by quoting the English poet, John Milton. “Where there is much desire to learn, there of necessity will be much arguing, much writing, and many opinions,” Wolfe said. “For opinion in good men is but knowledge in the making,”

Smiling at those assembled in the SMC Campus Center Elm Ballrooms, Wolfe added, “I intend to stir curiosity, to provoke thought, test boundaries, reinforce some things that you already know and hopefully – if I do it right – disrupt.”

Wolfe came back to the concept of disruption several times during his hourlong presentation “Managing Disruption: Cooperating and Collaborating Even When We Disagree.”Founder and principal of Avant-Garde Higher Education Services and Solutions, Inc., Wolfe defined a disruption as words, actions, or occurrences that may distract or test people and their reactions. The outcome could either cause conflict and chaos or it could inspire progressive movement within an organization or group. In this context, he is hoping to accomplish the latter.

Through a series of anecdotes and words of wisdom, Wolfe talked about managing disruptions in both working environments and everyday life.

“Disruption is a part of life. You have to anticipate it,” continued Wolfe, whose decorated career spans five decades including stints as English teacher, employee relations manager, tenured faculty member, department head, and provost. “I have been a disrupter. I have had to mediate and mitigate, and I found that in order to make diversity and inclusion work, you have to find a common ground.”

Finding common ground is one of the aims of the DAC, which provides recommendations that promote UMB’s commitment to diversity, equality, and inclusion in every aspect of the University.

“The DAC created the Diversity Speaker Series to provide a forum for faculty, staff, and students to deepen their knowledge and understanding of issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion,” said DAC member Elsie Stines, DNP, CRNP, a pediatric nurse practitioner who is assistant vice president of special projects and initiatives in the President’s Office.

“We wanted to find a speaker who most aligned with where we were going with diversity and conflict management,” said DAC member Vanessa Fahie, PhD, RN, assistant professor in the School of Nursing. “Dr. Wolfe seemed like a logical choice.”

— Jena Frick

Watch a video of Wolfe’s presentation. Read about previous DAC speakers.

Jena FrickCollaboration, People, UMB News, University Administration, University Life, USGAOctober 1, 20180 comments
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Founders Week: Public Servant of the Year Valli Meeks

Founders Week-Public Servant of the Year: Valli Meeks

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.

Today: Public Servant of the Year

Valli Meeks, DDS, MS, RDH
School of Dentistry
Clinical associate professor, Department of Oncology and Diagnostic Sciences

When she was young, Valli Meeks had an uncle who told her to never miss an opportunity to travel. She has taken him up on that — and then some.

Meeks, an alumna (1988 and 1998) and faculty member of the University of Maryland School of Dentistry (UMSOD) since 1989, has helped Rwanda address its oral health care crisis through the creation of its first dental school. She makes the 20-hour flight (including layovers) to the African nation to assist with the dental school’s curriculum, teach, mentor, and bring donated dental equipment that she and her students and faculty colleagues procure.

Back home in Baltimore, Meeks directs the state’s first dental clinic for Marylanders with HIV/AIDS and no insurance, which she established in 1989.

Rwanda isn’t the only place she visits. As an international expert on people living with HIV, the Pennsylvania native also has given presentations in Brazil (her favorite country), Nigeria, Germany, Trinidad, and London just to name a few.

“I always knew I wanted to be ‘hands-on’ working with patients. But I never thought I would have had the opportunity to travel to all the different countries I have to lecture and exchange ideas,” Meeks says. “I will always be grateful to UMSOD for allowing me the opportunity to travel.”

Colleagues say it is them who should be thanking her.

“As a clinical trainer for the MidAtlantic AIDS Education and Training Center, Dr. Meeks developed training materials for dental and medical providers to enable them to recognize oral lesions associated with HIV disease and in the dental management of HIV-positive patients,” says Carol Anderson, DDS, MS, director at East Carolina School of Dental Medicine.

Jane Barrow, MS, associate dean, Harvard School of Dental Medicine, adds that Meeks also mentors students and junior faculty. “Both in Rwanda and in Maryland she is dedicated to her students. She sets an excellent example. They see her passion, empathy, and commitment to research, patient care, and teaching, and are inspired. She is never too busy to help and is always thinking about how both the student and patient experience can be improved.”

A humble woman who calls the 2018 UMB Public Servant Award “quite unexpected” despite previous honors including the 2016 University System of Maryland Regents’ Faculty Award for Public Service, Meeks says she could do more if she could ever get the hang of scheduling.

“I never seem to be able to stick to a schedule. I’ll stay up late to do work or I’ll take a power nap and wake up at 3 a.m. and work,” says Meeks, who is single with no children but enjoys spoiling her niece and grand-niece. “Between patients I’ll do administrative work or lecture preparation. So it is continuous … I would probably be a lot more sane if I stuck to a schedule.”

The PLUS Clinic, which is still Baltimore’s primary facility to provide comprehensive oral health services to uninsured and underinsured people living with HIV/AIDS, has made major gains under Meeks’ direction. In 2013, Meeks partnered with the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s Institute of Human Virology’s JACQUES Initiative to reduce new HIV infections by providing HIV testing in UMSOD clinics. In 2017, 293 HIV rapid tests were administered at the PLUS Clinic, a 165 percent increase from 2016. She also proudly points out that a new fourth-generation HIV rapid test reveals results four weeks after a possible exposure instead of 12 weeks as in the past.

Thanks to her efforts to secure city and state funding, almost 98 percent of PLUS Clinic patients receive care at no cost. “I am fortunate to have a great staff working with me in the PLUS Clinic,” she says. “They enjoy participating in health fairs with community-based organizations to promote not only the importance of oral health, but we really serve as ambassadors for the dental school.”

UMSOD Dean Mark A. Reynolds, DDS, PhD, MA, says the need for quality oral health care among those diagnosed with HIV/AIDS is great. “With weakened immune systems, they are at greater risk for ailments such as oral warts, oral fungal infections, and periodontal disease,” Reynolds says. “Yet this population frequently has difficulty finding dental care due to the stigma associated with the transmission of HIV disease.”

Adds Meeks’ UMSOD colleague Renty Franklin, PhD, Dr. Meeks exemplifies the mission of the University of Maryland, Baltimore to improve the human condition and serve the public good of Maryland and society.”

Despite the praise, Meeks says the PLUS Clinic can’t “rest on our laurels.”

“There is always something that the HIV/AIDS community is involved with,” Meeks says. “Now it’s the opioid crisis and young adults becoming infected with HIV. But in addition to that, there are still cohorts of people living with HIV disease that are not receiving oral health care. I still want to target them, e.g., women of color and Native Americans.”

She can do the seeming impossible, like in 2011 when she was asked by a department head on a Wednesday if she would like to go to Rwanda on Saturday. With the commitment to meeting the health needs of its citizens by 2020, the government of Rwanda, through the Ministry of Health, launched the Human Resources for Health (HRH) Program in August 2012.

“Thanks to the impassioned argument of Dr. Valli Meeks, oral health was incorporated into the HRH plan,” Barrow says. “Rwanda now has its first ever dental school and its inaugural class of dental surgeons will graduate in November 2018.”

Adds Bonnie Bissonette, EdD, director of the UMB Center for Global Education Initiatives, “She is a champion of the underserved and under-represented, always working toward social justice and equity, and in Rwanda that includes collaboration with colleagues from Harvard and the University of Rwanda College of Medicine and Health Sciences.”

Aside from the new dental school in Rwanda, Meeks also has teamed with American Arlene Brown and nonprofit Hope Made Real to make the Urukundo Learning Center a reality there. It began as an orphanage for children displaced by the genocide of 1994 and now provides children up to age 21 with an education.

“Dr. Valli Meeks is a quiet and wonderful soul who has dedicated her life, both figuratively and physically, to treating a particular population who had historically been condemned to isolation or to death,” says Brian Swann, DDS, MPH, chief of oral health, Harvard School of Dental Medicine. “When it was not popular and when our society became completely paranoid about being in contact with people with HIV/AIDS, Dr. Meeks was on the front line, providing and educating about their care. This is her life’s work. Her actions speak volumes.”

Meeks, who enjoys reading and going to the beach in her rare down time, isn’t done contributing. Asked her proudest accomplishment, Meeks says, “I hope it hasn’t happened yet. I don’t want to think I’ve done it all and start singing ‘I Did It My Way’ just yet.”

— Chris Zang

Chris ZangEducation, People, Research, UMB News, University Administration, University LifeSeptember 25, 20181 comment
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UMB Police Chief Alice Cary

Leaders of UMB Emergency Management, Police Force Say Relationships Key to Success

UMB Emergency Management Executive Director Jonathan Bratt

Relationships matter.

That was the common theme voiced by leaders of the University of Maryland, Baltimore’s (UMB) emergency management services and police force in presentations Sept. 18 at the University’s quarterly Q&A.

Jonathan Bratt, MS, CEM, who is UMB’s new first-ever executive director of emergency management, drove home that point while discussing his aim to develop strong relationships with city, state, and federal agencies.

“There’s a saying in the first responder world: ‘The worst place to exchange business cards is at the scene of the incident.’ You want to have exchanged them beforehand,” Bratt told a crowd about 70 UMB faculty, staff, and students who gathered in the Francis King Carey School of Law’s Moot Courtroom. “So we establish relationships at UMB and with the external community, bringing in the city’s and state’s emergency management offices, the fire departments, and non-governmental organizations together to understand how can we better respond to an emergency before we actually have to respond to one.”

UMB Police Chief Alice Cary, MS, who assumed command in June, seconded Bratt’s notion, stressing how she plans to build relationships within the University community while ramping up engagement initiatives in Southwest Baltimore with efforts such as UMB’s Police Athletic/Activities League program and collaborations with the Office of Community Engagement.

“The culture and philosophy is changing toward community-based policing,” said Cary, who is the first female chief in the UMB Police Force’s 70-year history. “So in moving forward, we want to develop a proactive police force. And our vision is to connect with the UMB community and the neighborhoods that surround us.”

Bratt, who has been in his post since April, delivered his PowerPoint presentation first, offering his vision for making UMB an emergency- and disaster-resilient University and detailing strategic goals for the short and long terms. He described emergency management as being a collaborative and integrative process that requires many disciplines to work together to succeed.

“There’s not just one science that encompasses all of emergency management,” Bratt said. “It involves engineering, medicine, sociology, psychology — every discipline has some input in the process. It’s a team effort. As we prepare for and respond to emergencies, different expertise is brought in to help us understand how to manage and mitigate these events.”

Bratt says he wants to introduce a culture of preparedness to the UMB campus and do it through training, exercises and community engagement initiatives such as Stop the Bleed, a campaign led by the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center that teaches techniques to stem life-threatening bleeding in emergency situations. It’s all part of his presentation’s theme: Learn. Prepare. Act.

“You’ll see it on the tagline of my emails — ‘You are the help until help arrives’ — and that’s a reminder to take action in an emergency situation,” Bratt said. “The true first responders are the bystanders, so it’s important to learn what you need to do before an emergency.”

In a similar vein, Bratt wants to integrate more emergency management into the schools’ curriculums. He says he’s talked to several deans who support the idea.

“For example, the Strategic National Stockpile might be a topic for the School of Pharmacy. Or resource management in hospitals could be a topic for the School of Medicine,” Bratt said. “And outside the curriculum, there could be similar training and seminar opportunities for students as well.”

Bratt says he will develop a five-year strategic plan for the University’s emergency management program, review and update UMB’s emergency operations plan, and build a team of professionals to execute the plans. That team was put to the test recently as Hurricane Florence threatened the East Coast. It met to assess the situation, then sent out a University-wide email to relay that UMB was tracking the storm and where updated information could be found. An audience member thanked Bratt for the email, saying it was comforting.

“It was a team effort. We came together, saw that there was a potential hazard coming, and knew we had to let you all know that we’re watching it,” Bratt said. “We’ll strive to put out that type of messaging in the future.”

Cary also cited the need for improved communication, saying she wants to make sure her officers are out and about and talking to not only members of the UMB community but the institution’s Southwest Baltimore neighbors, too.

“We need to get out of the car and walk around,” she said. “We need to communicate through emails, through websites, through just saying hi, how are you today. Our officers are out there on the front line — they’re the ones who are leading this agency, and they’re the ones that get the feedback to our department so I can better understand the needs of our community.”

Cary says it’s important for officers to be visible but not stationary.

“I’ve tasked our officers to look at the hot spots, the concern areas,” she said. “It’s a focused patrol approach, so it’s not predictive policing where you know that there’s an officer standing at the corner from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. every day, but something that works to mix it up.”

Ashley Valis, MSW, UMB’s executive director of strategic initiatives and community engagement, told Cary she’s taken notice of that approach and appreciates it.

“I walk back and forth a lot from the Community Engagement Center, and I’ve seen police officers in different spots, switching it up,” Valis said. “That makes me feel safer, because it’s not that same old pattern.”

Like Bratt earlier, Cary fielded questions after her presentation:

  • On concerns about safety around Lexington Market: “We’re working with the city of Baltimore to ensure that that area is safe, and that’s certainly something we need to move forward on and even prioritize.”
  • On body cameras for officers: “We are beta-testing a model with Panasonic and wrapping that up in the feedback stage, so that’s the next step in getting everyone outfitted. That promotes transparency, protects you as a citizen, and protects our officers.”
  • On the transient population and panhandling: “I’m working on creating a homeless liaison officer program so that we’ll have somebody that coordinates with the city of Baltimore on homelessness and panhandling issues, someone who will work cooperatively with our Office of Community Engagement.”
  • On feedback for the police force: “I have an open door for any concerns. You can come directly to me and I can relay that information. I have an exceptional staff that thinks outside the box and is very creative to ensure that you’re safe coming and going to campus.”

Dawn Rhodes, MBA, UMB’s chief business and finance officer and vice president, who moderated the Q&A discussion, urged attendees to take the lessons back to their own departments. “Relationships, collaborations, and partnerships. This doesn’t just apply in the safety world,” Rhodes said. “It applies to all of us in how we do our jobs and how we get things done.”

— Lou Cortina

Lou CortinaCollaboration, For B'more, People, UMB News, University Administration, University LifeSeptember 20, 20180 comments
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Teacher of the Year: Geoffrey Greif

Founders Week-Teacher of the Year: Geoffrey Greif

Every fall, the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) dedicates one week to commemorating our rich history and celebrating the future we’re building together. Among the highlights of Founders Week is recognizing the extraordinary work of our faculty and staff. Four awards are given every year, 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, please check out the Founders Week website.

Today: Teacher of the Year

Geoffrey L. Greif, PhD, MSW
Professor, School of Social Work

Geoffrey Greif likens the ingredients of a skilled instructor to that of a good soup.

“The classroom is like a pot of soup,” he says. “To make it tastier, you have to add a pinch of salt, a dash of pepper, and turn the heat up a bit or lower it a tad to achieve the right meal. All classes are different and some students are hungrier and can consume more. Hopefully, by the end of the first class, they will catch the aroma and want to be nourished.”

Greif has been nourishing students at the School of Social Work (SSW) since 1984. Called by some the most popular and sought-after professor at the school, regularly graded 15 on a 15-point student evaluation scale, Greif says he is surprised to still be here.

“I expected to stay about a month, which is when I believed they would find out I didn’t know anything and would fire me,” he says in the humble manner that has attracted him to so many. Despite his longevity and many awards for his teaching, research, and community service, Greif still does the little extras.

Why?

“The context in which we practice social work changes,” Greif says. “I have to stay on my toes or the ‘context-train’ will pass me by and neither the students nor I will learn.”

Colleagues and students scoff at that possibility.

“Our graduate students are not the only beneficiaries of his teaching skills,” says professor Frederick A. DiBlasio, PhD, LCSW-C, a 32-year SSW veteran himself. “Many of us standing alongside Dr. Greif have gleaned from his numerous approaches to teaching that have served us well in the classroom and have withstood the test of time.”

Like calling the students by name, which Greif tries to do from day one. “Geoff knows and cares about his students,” says SSW Dean Richard P. Barth, PhD, MSW. “And they know and care about him.”

Adds Megan Meyer, PhD, MSW, senior associate dean,Dr. Greif has been a mentor to many younger faculty, always willing to share his sage advice on topics ranging from navigating difficult conversations in the classroom to maintaining a steady rate of publishing while dedicating time to school leadership and community service.”

In fact, his work on difficult conversations grew into an in-service training video that is part of orientation for new SSW faculty.

Students mention how his risk-taking in the classroom — using demonstrations, role plays, observations, student projects, and more — promote active learning and enhance their interest.

“Ten years later, his teaching continues to impact my own engagement as an educator,” says Shari E. Miller, PhD ’08, associate dean at the University of Georgia School of Social Work. She remembers Greif approaching her in her first year as a PhD student and saying, “I hear you have an interest in social work education research. I’ve got this idea for a study, would you be interested in collaborating?”

Now Miller looks to pass on Greif’s insight to others. “I hope to mentor my students and give to them in the profound ways Geoff has given to me and to countless other students over the years.”

Through his voluminous writing (14 books and more than 125 journal articles and book chapters), Greif has provided guidance to many who never sat in his class. Parenting is a favorite topic, and not just because he and his wife of 42 years, Maureen, have two daughters of their own.

“It is hard to travel far in clinical social work and not run into family systems,” he says. “I was fortunate to do a yearlong training in the 1970s with one of the greatest 20th-century family therapists, Salvador Minuchin. That training solidified my clinical work and my research around the importance of understanding our interconnectedness.”

Books he’s written in recent years also revolve around relationships: understanding male friendships, couples friendships, and adult sibling relationships.

He’s not tied to the UMB campus either. He is coordinator of the Dual Degree Program in Jewish Leadership with Towson University and has collaborated with Freeman Hrabowski, PhD, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, in writing about his Meyerhoff Scholars Program.

“Freeman is a fabulous role model in so many ways,” Greif says. “He has the uncanny ability to draw in people for a common cause — creating a world-class learning environment.”

Then there is the community service of Greif, who has offered pro bono clinical assistance to many groups, including patients with AIDS, low-income parents, and groups such as The Family Tree, Christopher’s Place, Jewish Family Services, the Chesapeake Detention Center in Baltimore, and more. He also was a founding co-leader of a parent support group “Help! My Kids Are Driving Me Crazy!” at various elementary schools in Baltimore.

What was his advice?

“There are so few ‘correct’ answers about how to parent given the amazing variability in people’s experiences,” he says. “You have to find a way, by connecting with and supporting your clients, to help them arrive at their own conclusions about how to make their relationships better.”

Greif’s caring nature has crossed from professional to personal on more than one occasion at the School of Social Work.

Sarah Wise, MSW ’18, associate director of development, recalls how she was taking Greif’s Family Therapy course when her father died. “When I returned from Colorado, Geoff immediately reached out to me. He was not worried about where my midterm paper was, he wanted to know what I needed. He asked me to tell him about my dad. Ironically they had common interests, in particular enjoying live music. Geoff has a gift for connecting with people.”

Tanya L. Sharpe, PhD, MSW, associate professor at SSW, calls Greif “my guy” who has been a faculty mentor for 11 years — never more so than shortly after Sharpe’s arrival when her mother in Connecticut became seriously ill.

“As an only child and a junior faculty member, my time was emotionally and physically split between caring for my mom and meeting the demands of being on the tenure track. At every turn, Geoff was there, checking in. This is the kind of person Geoff is. When my mother passed, his phone call was one of the first I received. He has been for me and so many the voice of reason and calm within the storm. I am forever grateful for that.”

A “ridiculous optimist” who “got lucky in getting into the right profession,” Greif humbly sees such support as part of the job. Teacher. Mentor. Writer. Community and diversity advocate. Committee member. Grandpop (“FaceTiming with the four grandkids” is his favorite hobby). And don’t forget his terms as associate dean and chair of the SSW faculty.

Despite receiving many honors, including the UM Board of Regents’ Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence in 2010, Greif was “thrilled” to learn he was UMB’s 2018 Teacher of the Year. “It is a tremendous honor to receive an award for something I love doing so much.”

 — Chris Zang

Chris ZangEducation, People, Research, UMB News, University Administration, University LifeSeptember 18, 20185 comments
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UMB Founders Week logo

2018 Founders Week Award Winners Named

Every fall, we dedicate one week to commemorating UMB’s rich history and celebrating the future we’re building together. Among the highlights of Founders Week is recognizing the extraordinary work of our faculty and staff. Four awards are given every year, each signifying outstanding accomplishment in one facet of our mission. We’re delighted to announce the recipients of our 2018 Founders Week Awards.

Entrepreneurs of the Year

MARS Team
Steven I. Hanish, MD
Thomas M. Scalea, MD, FACS, FCCM
Deborah M. Stein, MD, MPH, FACS, FCCM
School of Medicine
R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center
University of Maryland Medical Center

Liver failure is a devastating disease that affects around 1,600 patients in the U.S. each year. Modern medicine has developed a variety of devices to support failing organs — ventilators for the lungs, ventricular assist devices for the heart, dialysis for the kidneys. Until recently, there was nothing for the failing liver.

Thanks to these three outstanding physician-scientists and their innovative application of the Molecular Adsorbent Recirculating System (MARS) now there is hope. This “dialysis machine for the liver” can remove toxins, improve clotting, and reduce brain swelling. MARS can be used to buy time for the liver to recover. In some cases where recovery is not possible, MARS is a bridge to liver transplant.

The first use of MARS was at the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center, where Dr. Scalea is physician-in-chief, Dr. Stein is chief of trauma, and Dr. Hanish is a liver transplant surgeon. A patient suffered gunshot wounds with irreparable liver damage. This provided the impetus to expand indications to other causes of acute severe liver failure, a new indication for the device.

Drs. Hanish, Scalea, and Stein have published the results of their life-saving work with the MARS in one of the largest studies to date, paving the way for other clinicians to use this device and affect countless lives. Their results using MARS as a bridge to recovery and/or transplant also could serve as an important first step in gaining FDA approval for liver transplant recipients.

Public Servant of the Year

Valli Meeks, DDS, MS, RDH
School of Dentistry
Clinical associate professor, Department of Oncology and Diagnostic Sciences

Dr. Meeks has made outstanding contributions to advancing oral health and public service both nationally and internationally in her 29 years at the School of Dentistry. Her accomplishments include pioneering innovations in the care of Marylanders living with HIV as well as raising oral health awareness and education in Rwanda.

In 1989, Dr. Meeks founded the PLUS Clinic at the School of Dentistry, the only dental clinic in Maryland to provide comprehensive oral health services to uninsured and underinsured people living with HIV/AIDS consistently for nearly 30 years. Through city and state funding secured by Dr. Meeks, almost 98 percent of PLUS Clinic patients receive care at no cost.

In 2013, Dr. Meeks partnered with the School of Medicine’s Institute of Human Virology’s JACQUES Initiative to reduce the number of new HIV infections by providing HIV testing in School of Dentistry clinics. In 2017, 293 HIV rapid tests were administered at the PLUS Clinic, a 165 percent increase from 2016.

Dr. Meeks’ service goes beyond the Baltimore community. In Rwanda, she has helped address the country’s oral health care crisis through the creation of a dental program at the University of Rwanda College of Medicine and Health Sciences. She continues to visit Rwanda to assist with the dental school’s curriculum and bring donated dental equipment that she procures from suppliers and alumni.

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

Dr. Kotloff’s research focuses on the epidemiology of infectious diseases and their prevention with the use of vaccines in both the U.S. and developing countries. She is principal investigator of the Vaccine Treatment and Evaluation Unit at the School of Medicine’s Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health (CVD).

She has been instrumental in advancing the understanding of infectious pathogens and preventive and therapeutic interventions for children around the globe.

She is best known for her research on diarrheal disease, and in particular shigellosis. Using a unique case-control design, Dr. Kotloff showed Shigella species to be a leading cause of diarrhea morbidity and mortality in children. Globally, diarrheal diseases are the second leading cause of death among children under 5.

CVD Director Kathleen Neuzil, MD, MPH, calls Dr. Kotloff the world’s leading authority in human controlled infection models for shigellosis, and says she has performed more Shigella challenge studies than anyone in the world. She also has studied cholera, typhoid, and respiratory diseases like pneumonia.

Dr. Kotloff, who has spent her entire faculty career at the School of Medicine, starting in 1986, serves as an advisor to the World Health Organization, the Gates Foundation, the Food and Drug Administration, and others. She also is a proud mentor of fellows and junior faculty members, including several who have now developed their own independent successful research careers at the school.

Teacher of the Year

Geoffrey L. Greif, PhD, MSW
Professor, School of Social Work

Dr. Greif has made extraordinary contributions to education at the School of Social Work in his 34 years on the faculty. He is a distinguished scholar — author of 14 books and more than 125 journal articles and book chapters – but what he loves most is to teach and inspire the next generation of social workers.

He routinely wins the dean’s teaching award (given when 95 percent of students rate faculty 15 on a 15-point scale). He teaches complicated clinical methods such as family therapy and group work. Yet he clearly succeeds. Students routinely rave about him.

Dr. Greif’s upbeat and engaged manner in the classroom transmits to his students, who respond with similar engagement. He is notably sensitive to issues of difference, such as gender, race, and sexual orientation, and models for students how such differences can be broached in social work practice.

Chair of the SSW faculty for six years, Dr. Greif has served on many other committees at the school and University. He mentors junior faculty. He was associate dean from 1996 to 2007. Outside of campus, he is a member of community-based boards and led a fathering group for federal detainees at the Chesapeake Detention Center from 2011 to 2016.

In recent years, Dr. Greif has explored horizontal relationships with his books Buddy System: Understanding Male Friendships, Two Plus Two: Couples and Their Couple Friendships, and Adult Sibling Relationships.

For more on the Founders Week events, including the awards presentation at the Founders Gala on Saturday, Oct. 13, visit the Founders Week website in the weeks to come.

Communication and Public AffairsBulletin Board, People, UMB News, University Administration, University LifeAugust 22, 20180 comments
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