Diabetes Research Awarded University's Largest-Ever Grant
It's been a heck of a start to the fall semester for John Lachin.
In the weeks before and after the school year got under way, Dr. Lachin, a professor in the Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology and the Department of Statistics, was awarded two federal grants totaling nearly $150 million for studies into diabetes complications and treatments. The bigger of the two—$134 million over five years—is the largest grant in the history of the university.
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases awarded both grants. The larger one will fund the launch of a major clinical trial comparing the long-term effectiveness of the four most common drug treatments for type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes is estimated to affect 25 million people in the United States. The disease causes blood sugar, or glucose, to build up in the bloodstream due primarily to either an inability to produce insulin (type 1 diabetes) or to inefficient production or use of insulin (type 2 diabetes).
Type 2 diabetes—the form associated with age, obesity, and race—accounts for the majority of cases. Type 1 diabetes usually appears in children and young adults and is unpreventable, stemming from an immune system disorder.
For the study, Dr. Lachin is serving as senior biostatistician and is helping to lead GW's Biostatistics Center in its role as the study's coordinating center, overseeing the research on up to 6,000 patients nationwide. The study will be co-led by David M. Nathan, director of the Diabetes Center at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
Each of the four drugs has been shown to reduce blood glucose in the short term, Dr. Lachin says. But type 2 diabetes often requires management over a lifetime. The aim of the study "is a direct comparison of the commonly used drugs over a more realistic period of time with regard to glucose lowering, side effects, tolerability, other effects, and costs," he says.
Diabetes is one of the nation's leading causes of death, blindness, and kidney failure. It also increases the risk of heart disease and stroke, and is a major cause of lower-limb amputations.
Those complications are the focus of Dr. Lachin's other new grant. The nearly $14 million award will fund a five-year continuation of research into the impact of glucose levels and other factors in spurring diabetic complications, and the benefits of early treatment.
Among other high-profile funding awards in recent months:
Nearly $10.5M: Awarded to continue the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Aligning Forces for Quality program, which aims to raise the quality of health care in 16 communities and influence reform nationwide. School of Public Health and Health Services Professor Robert Graham serves as the project's director, and the Department of Health Policy as its national program office.
$5M: To fund a five-year project investigating substance abuse, violence, and sexual risk among immigrant Latino communities. The study is led by Mark Edberg, a professor in SPHHS' Department of Prevention and Community Health, and is funded by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities.
$2.6M: To study the implementation and outcomes of the redesigned Advanced Placement science curriculum in high schools. Dylan Conger, of GW's Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration, will work alongside researchers at the University of Washington and SRI International on the National Science Foundation-funded study.
$2.3M: From the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to evaluate a program aimed at boosting the number of new doctors and dentists trained in community-based health centers. The study, led by Department of Health Policy professors Marsha Regenstein and Candice Chen, will detail training program operations and develop means for measuring their impact.
$1.7M: To further develop a solar-powered process for producing cement and fuels that generates no carbon dioxide emissions. The project, funded by the National Science Foundation, is led by chemistry professor Stuart Licht and includes an interdisciplinary team of GW experts.
Colonials Athletics News
GW Baseball Hires New Head Coach
Head Baseball Coach Gregg Ritchie, BA '86
An alumnus and former Major League Baseball coach is joining the GW baseball team as its newest head coach this season.
GW announced Gregg Ritchie, BA '86, as the new head baseball coach this fall. He is returning to D.C. after serving as the hitting coach for Major League Baseball's Pittsburgh Pirates.
"GW's baseball program has a storied tradition of winning, and in his time as a Colonial, Gregg was certainly a major part of our success," says Director of Athletics and Recreation Patrick Nero. "Since his graduation he has honed his skills as a tactician, strategist, and teacher of the game, and we are extremely fortunate to be able to welcome him back to campus as our head baseball coach."
Mr. Ritchie, who met his wife, Kelly (Siegel) Ritchie, BA '89, at GW, says that returning to GW to coach brings his career "full circle."
"We both made a lifetime of extraordinary memories going to school and competing in the heart of the nation's capital," Mr. Ritchie says. "To have this opportunity to coach at my alma mater and to play our home games in the premier facility in the conference at Barcroft Park is extremely special."
One of Mr. Ritchie's former teammates at GW, major leaguer and GW Athletic Hall of Famer John Flaherty, was on the search committee to identify GW's new baseball coach.
"Gregg's ability to teach the game was evident even when he was playing at GW," Mr. Flaherty says. "I've had the opportunity not only to play with him at GW, but to observe his career while we were both playing professionally and now to watch as his Pirates are one of the best young up-and-coming teams in all of Major League Baseball."
Colonials Basketball Gears Up for Big Season
The George Washington men's basketball team practiced, played, and toured together during a 10-day trip across Italy in August. Led by Head Coach Mike Lonergan, the student-athletes played five games throughout the country and conducted basketball clinics for children.
The men's and women's basketball teams tipped off their seasons this fall by holding their annual Colonials Invasion event at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Fort Myer, Va.
The event featured activities honoring members of the military and their families in addition to introducing the men's and women's basketball teams.
GW's men's basketball team traces part of its history to Fort Myer and Conmy Hall, as the team played home games there from 1956 to 1975. Built in 1934 as an indoor equestrian facility, Conmy Hall hosted 11 men's basketball George Washington University Athletic Hall of Famers during their college careers.
Women's Basketball team Celebrates Title IX
Women's basketball team members had an exciting preseason.
Not only did they hold their first practices with new coach Jonathan Tsipis, but members of the team also celebrated the 40th anniversary of Title IX—the 1972 law requiring gender equity in every educational program that receives federal funding—with a game of pickup basketball at the U.S. Department of the Interior.
They joined women's basketball student-athletes from Georgetown and Howard universities, as well as from Woodrow Wilson and Calvin Coolidge high schools. Also in attendance were U.S. government officials, including Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius.
Members of the GW women's basketball team participated in a pickup basketball game at the Department of the Interior to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Title IX.
"This is a great opportunity to bring together a lot of different people who have really benefited from Title IX," Coach Tsipis said. "I come from a family where my mom played basketball and didn't have the option of Title IX, but then the next generation, my sister was able to go to college to play because of it. It's just a special situation…to be able to be a part of this celebration."
GW Athletics National Advisory Council Convenes
The inaugural George Washington Athletics National Advisory Council gathered for the first time this September.
Co-chaired by alumnus, trustee, and President of the New York Yankees Randy Levine, BA '77, and alumna Michelle Rubin, BA '91, the council will offer fundraising and outreach to the GW athletics community while sharing insight and guidance with GW Athletics and Recreation senior leadership and the office of Athletics Development.
Council members participated in several activities, including a meet-and-greet with GW student-athletes, coaches, and staff over breakfast; tours of GW's athletics facilities, including the newly renovated Barcroft Baseball Park; panel discussions on what it takes to build champions in competition, in the classroom, and in the community; and meetings of three subcommittees focused on fundraising, mentoring, and engagement.
The U.S. men's national basketball team trained at the Charles E. Smith Center in July, preparing for an exhibition match with Brazil in advance of the Summer Olympics in London. While stars like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and Kevin Durant went through a two-hour practice, the Colonials Club on the west baseline of Tex Silverman Court hosted all-time NBA greats Lenny Wilkens, Patrick Ewing, and Alonzo Mourning.
"There are generalists running around everywhere. Nobody needs a generalist in today's world. We need experts."
—Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, a former Republican presidential hopeful and U.S. ambassador to China, participated in a conversation hosted by GW's Sigur Center for Asian Studies and the Asia Society in September.
Jessica McConnell Burt
"When somebody comes up on their hind legs in this election and says, 'I can get this done without touching precious Medicare, precious Medicaid, precious Social Security, and precious defense,' those people are fake, total phonies."
—Former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.) participated in "Election 2012 and America's Fiscal Cliff," a discussion with Jared Bernstein—former chief economist and economic adviser to Vice President Joe Biden—on the state of the U.S. economy. The event was hosted by Face the Facts USA, a project of the School of Media and Public Affairs.
"I want you to contemplate being in bed with a mosquito. Just a tiny mosquito. And think how much havoc it can wreak. So you're never too small to make a difference."
—Arianna Huffington, president and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, participated in Opportunity Nation on GW's Foggy Bottom Campus in September. Opportunity Nation—a coalition of more than 250 organizations and individuals—convened to discuss the "opportunity gap" facing many young Americans.
Jessica McConnell Burt
"When you leave this campus to serve others, what you're really doing is leaving your own comfort zone. You're consciously choosing to expose yourself to the way others live and the challenges they face. And that will always make you a better person."
—Donna Brazile, political analyst for CNN and ABC and vice chair of voter registration and participation for the Democratic National Committee, spoke at GW's Freshman Convocation in September as part of the university's annual Freshman Day of Service.
Jessica McConnell Burt
"Freedom of speech includes freedom to speak crap. We should try and not live in a world in which the threat of violence determines what we say or don't say."
—Author Salman Rushdie visited Lisner Auditorium in October to talk with NPR host Robert Siegel about Joseph Anton: A Memoir. The book covers the aftermath of the release of his novel The Satanic Verses, when Mr. Rushdie lived under a death threat for more than nine years. The event was presented by the Center for Inquiry-D.C. and Politics & Prose Bookstore.
"Almost nobody likes killing, but everyone likes human connection, and people in war experience human connection in a way that they feel quite confident they will never, ever experience again in their lives. That's heartbreaking…it makes it very, very hard to come home."
—"War reporter and documentarian Sebastian Junger delivered the keynote address for GW's First Chapter Forum on writing and war—four days of events focused on writing and veterans, sponsored by the University Writing Program—in September. The author of The Perfect Storm and War, Mr. Junger also co-directed the Academy Award-nominated documentary Restrepo.
"In moments of crisis—economic or fiscal, military or spiritual—what has made America amazing is [that]…there have been men and women with the courage to think more about the future of their children and their grandchildren than they have about their own political futures."
—Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was among the Republican politicians hosted at the Marvin Center for the 34th National Conservative Student Conference, sponsored by Young America's Foundation. Other guests included former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann.
For more information on these and other events hosted at GW, go to gwtoday.gwu.edu.
Innovation Task Force Selects New Initiatives
GW's Innovation Task Force has selected six new initiatives to implement, including new online degree programs for military families, winter enrichment programs, and an international gap year.
President Steven Knapp established the program in October 2009 with the charge of generating $60 million in annual, recurring savings and new revenue for reinvestment in the university's top academic priorities. To date, 46 initiatives and approximately
$50 million have been identified toward the $60 million goal, with six new initiatives being selected every six months.
This quarter's new initiatives, expected to generate more than $15 million per year in recurring annual savings and revenue enhancements, are:
New online programs: Offer online undergraduate programs to military families and national service personnel, to be completed in three years at a reduced tuition rate. Expand master's level online programs. Offer online courses to high school students for college credit. Create a GW School of Business Digital Community, featuring online programs combining cutting-edge business curricula with innovative web-based technologies.
Post-baccalaureate pre-health professional certificate: Create an independent post-baccalaureate pre-health professional certificate program on the Virginia Science and Technology Campus for prospective medical, dental, veterinary, and nursing students.
Relocating select off-campus sponsored research projects onto campus: Increase net indirect cost recovery by moving some off-campus sponsored research projects from rental space to university-owned buildings.
International gap year: Develop an individualized education program for students from around the world to come to GW to study English and prepare for U.S. higher education.
Winter enrichment programs: Offer additional educational programs during winter break.
Global experience degree: Offer a unique bachelor's degree program that will provide students with up to two years' experience studying abroad.
As the new batch of initiatives moves into the planning stage, the ITF's Exploration Committee is vetting the next round of ideas, which were showcased this fall.
At a Glance
A Military-Friendly School
For the fourth year in a row, G.I. Jobs magazine recognized GW on its list of "Military Friendly Schools," which honors the top 15 percent of colleges, universities, and trade schools that are "doing the most to embrace America's military service members, veterans, and spouses as students and ensure their success on campus." The university also extended its ability to serve its military population by hiring U.S. Army veteran Michael Ruybal as its new veteran services coordinator.
Mr. Ruybal hopes to establish a "one-stop shop" for student veterans to serve as a support center and provide practical assistance on things like financial aid. He will oversee the university's activities and programs for veterans, including its orientation for military students and their families and Veterans Day events.
Mastering Government Contracts
GW's new Master of Science in Government Contracts degree combines a core business curriculum with the study of government procurement law, the rules controlling how the federal government contracts with private parties and monitors the performance of its contracts. The degree is geared toward working professionals in both the public and private sectors, and is meant to give them the knowledge and skills they need to work in a position related to federal acquisition. It is one of few programs of its kind in the world.
Leading the Academy
Dean of the Graduate School of Education and Human Development Michael Feuer is the new president-elect of the National Academy of Education—a title he will hold until October 2013, when his four-year term as president will begin.
Founded in 1965, the NAE undertakes research studies that address pressing issues in education and professional development fellowship programs focused on the preparation of the next generation of scholars. The academy's president is elected by its 194 U.S. members and 19 foreign associates. Among the academy's current efforts is a project, chaired by Dr. Feuer, on the evaluation of teacher education programs.
Daily Show host Jon Stewart sparred with Bill O'Reilly of Fox News in "Rumble in the Air-Conditioned Auditorium," an October debate hosted in Lisner Auditorium. Half of the net profits from ticket sale proceeds (including on-demand access) went to charities including the Wounded Warrior Project, Doctors Without Borders, the USO, and the Alzheimer's Association.
Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images
Basketball legend Magic Johnson—pictured with GW President Steven Knapp—was among the guests at "A Celebration of Science," a conference on scientific discovery co-hosted by George Washington University and the National Institutes of Health. Other guests included U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu and NIH Director Francis Collins.
In August, GW unveiled a new synthetic chemistry laboratory in Corcoran Hall. Chemistry Department Chair Michael King says that renovating the former lecture hall—which professors and students remembered as too cold, too hot, and constantly noisy—offers an opportunity to model on a smaller scale the "new designs and new thinking" that are central to the Science and Engineering Hall project and the future of science education at GW.
New Interdisciplinary Institutes Help Set Research Priorities
Jessica McConnell Burt
Global Women's Institute Director Mary Ellsberg (above) and Computational Biology Institute Director Keith Crandall (below)
GW established two new interdisciplinary research institutes in computational biology and global women's issues this summer as part of its commitment to cross-disciplinary research.
The Computational Biology Institute, which will bring together elements of biology and computer science, will be located on the university's Virginia Science and Technology Campus. Its goal will be to help develop tools to effectively analyze the huge volumes of data generated in researching genetics and genomics, including genetic mapping and DNA sequencing.
Former chair of the biology department at Brigham Young University Keith Crandall, who began at GW as director of the institute in July, says the university is targeting three main areas as it develops the institute's agenda: biodiversity informatics, systems biology, and translational medicine.
"These are three areas I see as real strengths of this institution," Dr. Crandall says.
The Global Women's Institute, which enhances the roles of women and girls worldwide through research, teaching, and engaged service, is also beginning work.
Mary Ellsberg, the institute's founding director, says the first year of the institute will focus on violence against women, beginning with a planned 16 days of activism against gender-based violence from Nov. 25 to Dec. 10. Speakers, panels, and activities across the disciplines will raise awareness on campus and pave the way for deeper engagement on the issues.
Dr. Ellsberg says she hopes that the institute will be global in every sense: that it will focus not only on women and girls in low-income countries but will also "recognize that many women in our own country, even here in Washington, D.C., and on the GW campus, face violence and discrimination."
Gretel Truong, Haddad Media
Former Pentagon Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Douglas Wilson (above) and NPR National Political Correspondent Mara Liasson (below)
Steve Barrett, NPR
NPR Journalist, Former Pentagon Spokesman Join SMPA as Fellows
National Public Radio's Mara Liasson and former Pentagon spokesman Douglas Wilson are the School of Media and Public Affairs newest fellows.
Ms. Liasson joined NPR in 1985 and currently serves as its national political correspondent, contributing regularly to NPR's award-winning programs All Things Considered and Morning Edition. In election years, Ms. Liasson provides analysis of the candidates and issues in both presidential and congressional races. She has covered five presidential elections.
Mr. Wilson served as the Pentagon's assistant secretary of defense for public affairs from February 2010 until his retirement from government in March 2012. As the Pentagon's senior spokesman and communications adviser, Mr. Wilson was responsible for communication strategies on issues including Afghanistan, Iraq, and counterterrorism. He also led Pentagon communication efforts following the death of Osama bin Laden. Mr. Wilson has been awarded the Distinguished Public Service Medal—the Pentagon's highest civilian honor—three times.
In its third year, the SMPA Distinguished Fellows program brings exceptional professionals from the fields of media, political communication, and public affairs to GW for one academic year. Past fellows include Joe Lockhart, former White House press secretary under President Bill Clinton; Ed Henry, CNN's senior White House correspondent; and former Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah). The program is funded by parents of SMPA students.