Federal Official Says Health Reform Working

Posted in: G-Town News- Nov 23, 2010 Comments Off on Federal Official Says Health Reform Working

The Affordable Care Act is addressing both access to health care in vulnerable populations and the shortage of primary care providers, said Mary Wakefield, administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) during a speech at Georgetown.

Wakefield, whose agency is a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, spoke Nov. 22 as part of the McAuley Lecture Series at the university’s School of Nursing Health Studies (NHS).

The administrator directs a multibillion-dollar federal agency that promotes access to quality health care for Americans who live in underserved or rural locations.

“The [act] is the most important development in our lifetime,” Wakefield told an audience of more than 100 students, faculty and staff at Georgetown.

Distinguished Leader

President Obama appointed Wakefield as HRSA administrator on Feb. 20, 2009.

Before taking the position she served as a tenured professor at the University of North Dakota, where she also was associate dean for rural health at the School of Medicine and Health Sciences and director of the Center for Rural Health.

“We are proud to have with us a leader who has embraced various opportunities at each stage of her career,” said Julie DeLoia, interim dean of Georgetown’s NHS. “She is a strong voice in policy and she is an advocate for the underserved among us.”

Future Opportunities

According to Wakefield, more than 1,100 HRSA grant recipients operate approximately 8,000 community-based clinics in every U.S. state and territory. These clinics reach about 19 million people.

The Affordable Care Act will help expand services, she said, and create scholarships and training for people in the health professions.

She said that over the next five years HRSA hopes to double the number of patients treated at health centers. “That means we need more people to staff these clinics,” Wakefield said.

The administrator also highlighted HRSA’s National Health Service Corps, which provides scholarship and loan repayment services to health professionals who commit to work in underserved areas of the country.

“I’m looking at the faces of the next generation of health care providers,” Wakefield told the students in the audience. “The future is in good hands.”

Georgetown Student Wins Mitchell Scholarship

Posted in: G-Town News- Nov 22, 2010 Comments Off on Georgetown Student Wins Mitchell Scholarship

A Georgetown student who proposed the Bleeding Disorders Screening, Awareness and Further Education (SAFE) Act of 2010 in his junior year has won a prestigious Mitchell Scholarship.

Derick Stace-Naughton of Madison, Wisc., a senior who suffers from a genetic condition that prevents his blood from clotting properly, will use his Mitchell Scholarship to study health communication at the University of Ulster in the 2011-2012 academic year.

Policy and Science

“I intend to enter a career at the intersection of science and politics, influencing public policy as an elected official or government policymaker,” the 21-year-old wrote in his Mitchell application statement.

The scholarships are named for former Sen. George J. Mitchell (D-Maine) and provide for a year of graduate study at a university in Ireland. The U.S.-Ireland Alliance, which funds the scholarship, announced the winners Nov. 21.

“While I was working on the SAFE act, I constantly had to sell my idea to government policymakers,” the physics and English major said in an interview. “Now I’d like to be on the other side of that dynamic. I want to help solve the core global challenges of the 21st century.”

Mini-Golf Surprise

The student said he was in Virginia playing miniature golf when he got the call saying he’d won the scholarship.

“My first reaction was just pure excitement,” said Stace-Naughton, who also won one of the university’s Baker Scholarships. “My second thought was, ‘I have to call my mom.”

His mother and sister have the same disorder he does and are in chronic pain and on disability.

He attributed his less severe form of the disorder to “arbitrary luck,” in his Mitchell statement, and wrote, “And so I have chosen to commit my time, my knowledge, and my energy to support those with bleeding disorders who have not enjoyed my good fortune.”

Lobbying for Legislation

During his sophomore year, Stace-Naughton took part in the physics department’s Program on Science in the Public Interest (SPI), for which students examine national environmental, energy, health and security issues and have helped pass legislation.

He developed a proposal for the SAFE act, and, after being discouraged by many a politico in Washington, eventually found a sponsor in Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.).

The bill, whose co-sponsors included Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), would require the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to create a series of measures, including grants to provide screenings for the disorder among high schools.

The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

A Worthy Heir

“Derick Stace-Naughton already shows himself, at this very early stage, a worthy heir to the great Wisconsin legacy of leading the nation in the innovation of social policy,” said John Glavin, fellowship secretary and a professor in the English department. “In claiming that heritage he also demonstrates how deeply he has been touched and guided by Georgetown’s Jesuit ideal to train men and women for others.”

The Georgetown student said physics professor Francis Slakey, SPI co-director, helped him maneuver obstacles in the legislative process to advocate for the SAFE act.

“The course was a reminder that academic thought is most valuable when it’s applied in a way that improves the world,” Stace-Naughton said.

Carl Reiner in Library of Congress? Vet History

Posted in: G-Town News- Nov 22, 2010 Comments Off on Carl Reiner in Library of Congress? Vet History

November 22, 2010 –Georgetown’s visual and oral history with Carl Reiner, a World War II veteran who graduated from the School of Foreign Service in 1943, is one of three videos to become a permanent part of the Library of Congress Veterans History Project.

Two other Georgetown graduates plus Reiner were added to the Library of Congress’ 70,000 firsthand remembrances of American war veterans and civilian workers who supported them from World War I through the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Witness to History

The videos come from Georgetown’s own project – Witness to History – that has collected more than 70 histories of prominent alumni, including Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who graduated from the university in 1980 and entrepreneur Ted Leonsis (C’77).

“These are stories of Georgetown alumni who are making a difference in the world,” says William G. Reynolds (C’79), executive director of the university’s alumni association.

Oral history project consultant Anneliesa Clump Alprin (G’06), with the assistance of a recent history major, Lisa Fthenakis (C’10), managed the project under the leadership of Reynolds and the university’s Office of Advancement.

Treasure Box

“We are proud to have this special collaboration between Georgetown and the Library of Congress, two institutions that share a long history in the nation’s capital,” Reynolds adds. “Now both institutions will serve as a treasure box for these personal and important stories.”

This past April, Librarian of Congress James H. Billington hosted a meeting at the Library of Congress that featured the histories of Reiner and the two other World War II veterans, Dr. John Rose, a 1950 graduate and former dean of Georgetown’s School of Medicine; and Dr. George Mishtowt (C’38, M’42), the first medical director at the U.S. Department of State.

In the videos, the men share their memories of the war – Reiner operated an Army radio and trained as an interpreter, Rose navigated a B-24 in the Air Force and Mishtowt served in the 82nd Airborne.

Additional Veterans

In October, Georgetown sent a letter to its alumni from the classes of 1940 to 1955, inviting World War II and Korean War veterans to share their stories with the Library of Congress Veterans History Project. To learn more about the project and to participate in the national effort, go to www.loc.gov/vets.

To hear all of the alumni stories in the Witness to History collection, go to http://witnesstohistory.georgetown.edu.

Georgetown Students Receive Pickering Fellowships

Posted in: G-Town News- Nov 19, 2010 Comments Off on Georgetown Students Receive Pickering Fellowships

November 19, 2010 –Sarah Gardiner (SFS’11) heard she had become one of five Georgetown students and alumni to receive a Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship while studying abroad in Cote d’ Ivoire and preparing to cross the Liberian border.

As a Pickering undergraduate fellow, Gardiner receives financial support towards tuition and other expenses during her senior year and first year of graduate study.

The other four Pickering fellows are Emma Nagy (G’12) and Jeff Jung (G’12), who are in Georgetown’s Master of Science in Foreign Service program,
Harvard student Nathan Haft (SFS’07) and Columbia University student Jane Park (SFS’09).

The graduate fellows are receiving financial support toward their two-year, full-time master’s degrees.

New Career Path

Gardiner said she wasn’t thinking about entering the field of diplomacy before she transferred to Georgetown in 2009.

“I took a culture and diplomacy class once I got here,” said the Manchester, Conn., resident, “and the more I studied in the Institute of Diplomacy, the more I considered it as a potential career path.”

The institute is part of the School of Foreign Service.

“I can honestly say had I not been at Georgetown,” she said, “I would have never applied for the Pickering fellowship.”

She’s since interned at Amnesty International, the American Society of International Law and Sister Cities International,
and spent her junior year abroad studying in Western and Central Africa.

A Diplomat’s Legacy

The Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship Program, named for one of the nation’s most distinguished diplomats, is funded by the U.S. Department of State and administered by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation.

Fellows commit to working for three years as Foreign Service officers upon

completing their studies and passing the Foreign Service exam.

Gardiner notes that many people at the State Department are Georgetown alumni.

“The opportunity to meet people working in the diplomatic field and to be mentored by them has been invaluable,” says the senior culture and politics major.

Baker, Mitchell: Bipartisanship They Knew is Gone

Posted in: G-Town News- Nov 18, 2010 Comments Off on Baker, Mitchell: Bipartisanship They Knew is Gone

November 18, 2010 –Former Secretary of State James A. Baker III and former Sen. George J. Mitchell (D-Maine) bemoaned the lack of bipartisanship in today’s American politics as they were jointly awarded a prize for public service at Georgetown Nov. 17.

The Republican and Democrat friends received the Elliot L. Richardson Prize for Excellence in Public Service from the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA), which partnered with the Georgetown Public Policy Institute for the event.

“At every critical juncture in human history when there is a threat of instability, there tends to be upheaval and hard feelings,” said Mitchell, a 1961 graduate of Georgetown’s law school and President Obama’s special envoy to the Middle East, “…but I do agree that the situation now is worse than it’s ever been.”

Power of the Media

He blamed the lack of bipartisanship on the “enormous power of the electronic media … that lends itself to short, negative, inflammatory remarks” and the “enormous amount of money” involved in politics that has led Americans to believe politicians are “more in debt to their contributors than their constituents.”

The only way to combat these problems, he said, is to “reduce the degree of uncertainty and instability, and yes, fear, that makes people easy prey to demagogues and ideologues and those who seek to exploit [the situation].”

Baker, who was chief of staff in the George H.W. Bush administration when Mitchell was Senate majority leader, agreed, but wasn’t “convinced that economic prosperity will cure the problem.”

Bipartisanship: Gone

“With the emergence of the Internet, anybody can write whatever what want and throw it up against the wall and see if it sticks,” Baker said in his Texas drawl. “Once it’s out there in the ether it’s pretty hard to retract it.”

“The bipartisanship that we knew and that we exercised and we practiced is gone,” he said.

Waiting it Out

The National Journal group’s editorial director, Ron Brownstein, read questions from the audience and moderated the event, which the politicians often peppered with humor.

When asked to name their toughest negotiators, for example, Baker picked Hafez al-Assad, president of Syria from 1971-2000.

The former secretary of state explained it took him a long time to get al-Assad to sit down for talks with Israel, and noted that the Syrian leader is mentioned in one of his book’s chapters called “Bladder Diplomacy.”

“He would really wait you out,” Baker joked.

GPPI Dean Edward Montgomery praised the winners before the politicians were introduced.

Public Good

“James Baker and George Mitchell have lived remarkable lives and have never shirked from contributing their substantial talents and skills for the public good,” he said. “They have left us richer as a nation for their service and for their example.”

Toward the end of the event, Brownstein asked the politicians if they had any advice for public policy students.

“Get involved in the political process,” Mitchell said. “…The most important thing in life is to have a genuine, meaningful goal that is larger than your self-image, in which you can commit yourself to wholeheartedly, physically, spiritually and mentally,” he said. “That’s the real reward in life.”

British Terrorism Policies Match U.S., Says Hague

Posted in: G-Town News- Nov 18, 2010 Comments Off on British Terrorism Policies Match U.S., Says Hague

November 18, 2010 –The most important shared foreign policy issue with the United States is working against terrorism, British Foreign Secretary William Hague told students and faculty at Georgetown Nov. 17.

The talk comprises his first major policy speech on American soil since the new British coalition formed earlier this year.

Hague called the U.S.-U.K. partnership in security “fundamental to both countries,” and listed as examples efforts in Afghanistan, Iran’s nuclear program and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Security Challenges

“Our government is determined to stand foursquare with the United States and our allies to confront the security challenges of the 21st century as robustly as we faced those of the past,” Hague said.

That won’t be easy, he said, especially considering the current economic climate, and recently restricted Britain’s spending on defense, diplomacy and development.

Add that to evolving technologies and growing interconnectedness throughout the globe, and “defense policy must be the instrument of a strong and clear-sighted foreign policy,” Hague said.

Addressing Threats

“Today, it is not enough to protect our citizens in their communities and within our borders,” he added. “In a networked world, we need to be able to address threats before they reach our shores and to use diplomacy, development and our intelligence services to help avoid the need for military action as a last resort.”

He called his country’s “indispensable relationship with America … at the heart of our view of Britain’s place in the world.”

Progress vs. Safety

In what School of Foreign Service Dean Carol Lancaster called “an enlightening and forceful presentation,” Hague acknowledged the need to balance cybersecurity and advancements in communication.

“If, in our response to genuine security threats, we inadvertently halt the last half-century’s march to greater freedom of communications,” he said, “then the terrorists and criminals who currently exploit Internet openness really will have won.”

He also said upholding democratic standards as well as promoting human rights and political freedom are all intrinsic to Britain’s foreign policy.

“If we are to maintain our influence in the world, we must always seek to retain the moral advantage,” he explained.

Preview of Georgetown?s New Website Now Online

Posted in: G-Town News- Nov 17, 2010 Comments Off on Preview of Georgetown?s New Website Now Online

A preview of Georgetown University’s new website is now available for viewing at beta.georgetown.edu.

The new site includes a redesigned homepage and “top tier” pages that are highly trafficked and which provide a broad range of information about the entire university. University Information Services has implemented a new technical infrastructure to support the site.

This is the first time the university’s website has undergone a redesign since 2002.

Reflecting Feedback

“The new website structure, design and content reflects feedback from our board of directors, students, faculty, staff, alumni and prospective students and parents,” says Julie Bataille, associate vice president for communications. “We hope to use the next few weeks to familiarize the community with the new site and make additional enhancements to further optimize user experience. I am especially grateful to our Guide Committee and many others throughout the university who have provided input to our work.”

You can learn more about the history of the project at the web redesign blog.

Going Live

The purpose of the preview site is to allow members of the Georgetown community to provide feedback before the new site goes “live,” which is currently scheduled for Dec. 3. Comments about the site can be posted to the blog or sent to betasite@georgetown.edu.

Until the formal launch of the site, search results will not include the content in the new site. So any searches made before that date will only bring up links in the current university site. The project will not affect core systems related to benefits, course registration or academic systems such as MyAccess.


Education Partnering Marks GU India Visit

Posted in: G-Town News- Nov 17, 2010 Comments Off on Education Partnering Marks GU India Visit

November 17, 2010 –On the heels of President Obama’s visit to India, a delegation of university leaders traveled to New Delhi Nov. 9, spending the week exploring India’s current educational infrastructure and the role of international collaboration in the future of the country’s higher education system.

School of Foreign Service Dean Carol Lancaster; Christopher Augostini, senior vice president, CFO and treasurer; and Georgetown President John J. DeGioia, among others, also met with Georgetown alumni in New Delhi.

“The delegation focused on productive and effective ways to engage in India with a variety of possible counterparts,” Lancaster says. “It also sought to strengthen ties with Georgetown graduates in that large, dynamic and important country.”

The Georgetown delegation joined nearly 50 members of Georgetown’s alumni community in India for a reception at the Imperial Hotel in New Delhi.

Community-based Education

The schedule included meeting with India’s country representatives for Georgetown’s Institute of Reproductive Health (IRH) for a site visit of the Child Rights Information Center (CRIC) in Badarpur.

In 2001, Dr. Victoria Jennings, IRH director and professor at the university’s Medical Center, worked with CRIC to address issues of family and reproductive health. Today the center provides free information on such topics as education and health and focuses on early childhood care and development.

Promoting Partnerships

The delegation also participated in a daylong higher education summit, convened by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) on “Renovations in Indian Higher Education: Renewed Focus on Autonomy, Accountability and Partnerships.”

Supported by India’s Ministry of Human Resource Development, the summit brought together more than 400 leaders in higher education and private enterprise from India and abroad. Minister Kapil Sibal, the Union Minister for Human Resource Development in India, spoke at the conference.

DeGioia gave the keynote address at the summit, which focused on India’s educational landscape and strategies for building partnerships with colleges and universities around the world.

“When we assemble talent from every corner of the globe, when we can connect that talent in new collaborative partnerships, and when the decisions made in one place can affect the lives of people in many other places,” he said, “I believe we need to acknowledge a new kind of responsibility to engage in the world.”

Previous keynote speakers at the summit have included the presidents of Yale and Stanford universities and the chancellor of the University of Oxford.

Neuroscientists Say Gene Loosely Linked to ADHD

Posted in: G-Town News- Nov 17, 2010 Comments Off on Neuroscientists Say Gene Loosely Linked to ADHD

November 17, 2010 –A team of neuroscientists at Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC) says brain scans show that a gene nominally linked to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) leads to increased interference in brain regions associated with mind-wandering during tasks.

The finding applies to issues of attention – sometimes called ADD – but not hyperactivity.

The researchers, who presented their findings at the Society for Neuroscience’s annual meeting Nov. 13-17 in San Diego, believe they are the first to show differences in brain network relationships between people who have this particular form of the gene and others who have a different kind.

Brain Networks

“Our goal is to narrow down the function of candidate genes associated with ADHD, and in this study, we find this gene is tied to competition between brain networks,” says Evan Gordon, the study’s lead author and a doctoral candidate in GUMC’s Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience. “This could lead to increased inattention, but it likely has nothing to do with hyperactivity.”

Chandan Vaidya, associate professor of psychology, served as Gordon’s mentor in the study funded by the National Institutes of Health. 

Contributes, Not Causes

“This is just one gene,” Gordon adds, “and it does not cause ADHD but likely contributes to it. The disorder is believed to be due to a myriad of genetic factors.”

The gene in question is DAT1 – its protein produces the dopamine transporter that helps regulate dopamine transmission between brain cells.

The DAT1 gene comes in two alleles, or forms – DAT1 10 and DAT1 9. People who inherit DAT1 10 are said to be at greater risk for developing ADHD than people with DAT1 9.

The researchers used functional MRI (fMRI) on a group of 38 participants. Half of the group had the greater ADHD risk type and half carried the other form. None of the participants had been diagnosed with ADHD.

Daydreaming and Problem-Solving

The researchers investigated the activity in two areas of the brain – the one associated with mind wandering or daydreaming that is active when the mind is at rest, and the area that is active during problem-solving and other cognitive work.

Food Safety Important on Thanksgiving and Always

Posted in: G-Town News- Nov 16, 2010 Comments Off on Food Safety Important on Thanksgiving and Always

Foodborne illnesses strike 76 million Americans each year, with 300,000 people hospitalized and 5,000 deaths, according to School of Nursing Health Studies associate professor Laura Anderko. With Thanksgiving around the corner, a few precautions can prevent dinner from turning into a food poisoning outbreak, the food safety expert says. But while cooks can take preventative measures for the upcoming holiday, food safety issues are not limited to Thanksgiving. Anderko, a member of Georgetown’s Food Safety Working Group, talks turkey, lax government regulations and what the public doesn’t know about food production.

Q. What are some precautions we should take when preparing Thanksgiving for our families?

A. There are four key things to think about when cooking for a large crowd – clean, separate, cook and chill.

Clean means wash your hands and surfaces often. Particularly with fowl, salmonella contamination is a concern. Separate means don’t cross-contaminate – cut raw meats and vegetables on separate boards. With cooking, you need to make sure you’re heating food to the proper temperature. Turkeys have that pop-up thermometer, but it’s always a good idea to double check. For chilling, make sure you refrigerate leftovers promptly – don’t let them sit out for hours.

Q. Do foodborne illness cases tend to increase this time of year?

A. I don’t know that we see spikes in food poisoning around this time, but there is the potential for it because so many people are cooking at home. Obviously there are no regulations in your home like there are in restaurants.

Q. Tell us about the Food Safety Working Group at Georgetown. What are you trying to accomplish?

A. It’s a transdisciplinary group that began meeting in 2008. We have policymakers and folks from across the university campuses. We have proposals to look at food from farm to fork. One issue we’re concerned about is establishing surveillance of produce in the field so if there is a contamination, that food never makes it to market.

We’ve created systems that track, through computerized mechanisms in the field, produce that may be contaminated. Biologists, food scientists and public health professionals would use that information and work together to alert the production line before the food makes it to the supermarket shelf.

Q. Do you think that’s feasible, given what seems like a never-ending list of food recalls just this past year or two?

A. There are a lot of issues hampering such efforts. Unfortunately, in the last administration, there was a reduction in the number of inspectors. It was like having one city cop for all of Washington, D.C. You cannot possibly regulate and enforce food safety with a small number of inspectors.

Right now we track individual cases and outbreaks through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but food isn’t the jurisdiction of any one federal agency. Many agencies are involved in food safety in one way or another, but there hasn’t been an interagency mechanism for people to problem-solve across agencies.

Q. Is the country making any progress in protecting food safety?

A. President Obama did establish a federal Food Safety Working Group so the different agencies can coordinate. Some of the core principles include increasing the number of inspectors and improving response times by getting agency systems linked.

I think there has been progression, but that only deals with food from within the U.S.

Q. What do you mean by that?

A. We import a lot of food items internationally and there are very few international trade food safety regulations. That’s why there’s lead in candy imported from Mexico and China. We need to look at opportunities to increase accountability on foreign food importers and create partnerships with other countries to have stronger food safety systems. But we’re not there – we’re not even close.

Q. What do events like the recent massive egg recall tell us about food safety precautions?

A. A lot of the problems can be traced to agribusiness practices. How agribusinesses run their farms, and the impact it can have on the public, is a very big deal.

For example, the fellow who owns the two Iowa egg farms that recalled 250 million eggs lends money to other egg companies in Ohio. Now a recall is happening there. A few farmers in Ohio put up $10,000 for their farms and this fellow put in $126 million into the farms. He’s hiding behind these other farmers because he has a long, long record of infractions.

Q. What can the people do to protect themselves from these food safety issues?

A. People need to educate themselves. If they knew about the risks and few regulations that come from confined agricultural feeding operations and large farming practices, I think people would be upset by it and change their behaviors. We like paying $1 for a hamburger, but there’s a price for that through contamination and illness. I think people are willing to spend more money to know that their food is safer.

Change can come from the public. When there were concerns over BPA bottles, within a couple months people could buy BPA-free baby bottles and water bottles – without any government intervention.

Q. What do you think people would be surprised to know about food safety in the U.S.?

A. While we may have food safety regulations in place, we don’t have the people power to enforce them. People think their food or water is protected, but don’t really understand the politics behind food safety – and there is a lot of politics behind food safety.