Sabloff named to Smithsonian panel

In an effort to sharpen its scientific research, the Smithsonian Institution has appointed Jeremy Sabloff chairman of its science advisory commission.

Sabloff, the Williams Director of the University’s Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, and 17 other commission members will explore various topics, including the relationship between research and public programming. The commission members, whose areas of expertise span studies from anthropology to zoology, were selected by nationally recognized leaders in the scientific and academic community.

Carnegie award

Rogers Smith, Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Political Science, has been named one of 16 Carnegie Corporation scholars for 2001. Smith will use his grant towards the study of federal statutes and judicial decisions relating to basic citizenship issues from 1912 to the present. He argues that changes to U.S. citizenship laws during this period helped strengthened the realization of American democratic principles. From this study, he hopes to identify the current factors which help make civic participation a democratic process.

Research grants

Cancer research recently got a boost thanks to a $7.5 million grant to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Sponsored by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, the award is part of a global program that seeks to find cures for blood-related cancers.
The HUP team will focus on treatments and vaccines that are patient-specific. This approach has been neglected by the pharmaceutical industry, which tends to focus on drugs which they can develop for everyone instead of developing a combination of approaches
tailored to the needs of each patient. But HUP will not be alone in its efforts—it plans to carry out human clinical trials with CHOP for both pediatric and adult patients.

A $3.1 million bioengineering research grant will allow researchers at the University to study brain injuries at an unprecedented level of detail. Led by David F. Meany, associate professor of bioengineering, the team will study genes and proteins altered in single neurons in the brain to better understand the cells’ responses to contusions and other forms of brain trauma. The research, which will be funded by a grant from the National Institute of Child Health, aims to find new medications and treatment for victims of brain injuries.

An interdisciplinary team of Penn scientists will soon enjoy a new nanotechnology science and engineering center. The National Science Foundation has awarded $1.45 million so that Penn researchers may learn the process in which simple biological molecules organize into complex structures and apply that knowledge to the development of synthetic self-assembling molecules. Headed by Virgil Percec, professor of chemistry, the team is composed of Penn chemists, physicists, biochemists, biophysicists and materials scientists.

International awards

Irwin B. Levitan has received the 2001 Ranwell Caputto Award from the Argentine Society for Neurochemistry for excellence in the area of neurochemistry. Presented annually in Buenos Aires, the award recognizes Levitan’s work, which combines biochemistry, molecular biology, and electrophysiology to discover how the regulation of nerve cell activity controls behavior. Levitan is chairman of Penn’s department of neuroscience and David J. Mahoney Professor of Neurological Sciences.

Two Penn scholars have snagged 2001 International Communication Association awards.

Larry Gross, a professor of communications, received the ICA’s B. Aubrey Fisher Mentorship Award for his role in guiding communications research. Gross’s influence is apparent in the 40 doctoral dissertations and 140 master’s theses he has supervised.

Amy Jordan, a senior research investigator at the Annenberg Public Policy Center, was recognized with the Most Important Applied/Public Policy Research Award. Jordan’s studies focuses on the effect of the Children’s Television Act on parents and young television viewers.

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Originally published on August 30, 2001