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1999 Press Releases

December 24, 1999
Chromosome centers defined and sequenced for model plant
The serendipitous discovery of a rare mutation and five years of concentrated effort have allowed a team of American and British researchers to define the centromeres of the five chromosomes of Arabidopsis thaliana, a flowering plant that has become the primary model for plant genetics. The findings are published in the December 24, 1999 issue of Science; they represent the first time that scientists working with a multi-cellular organism have been able to identify the genetic boundaries of the centromeres--which are resistant to standard gene mapping techniques--and to unravel their DNA sequences.

December 1, 1999
Thalidomide effective against refractory Crohn's disease
A study in the December issue of Gastroenterology shows that thalidomide, a drug that became infamous in the 1960s for causing thousands of severe birth defects, can be an effective short-term treatment for Crohn's disease--even for patients whose disease has not responded to other therapies.

November 23, 1999
Tenth anniversary of living donor liver transplant
Illinois Governor George Ryan, Secretary of State Jesse White, and special guests--liver donor Teri Smith and recipient Alyssa Smith--spoke at a press conference at the University of Chicago Hospitals to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the first successful living-donor liver transplant.

November 18, 1999
New tool for comparative gene studies
Scientists who study gene function in non-model organisms may get a boost from a new technique developed by researchers at the University of Chicago.

November 12, 1999
$500,000 gift launches new clinical research effort in peripheral neuropathy
A generous gift of $500,000 from Jack Miller of Lincolnshire, Illinois, founder and president of Quill Corporation, will be used to launch a concerted effort by neuroscientists at the University of Chicago--to investigate the basic biology of peripheral neuropathy and search for better treatments and a cure for this common nerve disorder.

November 9, 1999
Force of pollen adhesion measured
A collaborative effort between plant biologists and physicists at the University of Chicago has measured the binding force between pollen grains and their female counterparts, the stigma cells. The unexpected strength and specificity of pollen binding could form the basis of an entire family of superglues with wide ranging applications in medicine and technology.

November 4, 1999
Origin of primate color vision
Researchers at the University of Chicago have found evidence that trichromatic, or full color, vision originated in prosimians--a group of lemurs, Bush Babies and pottos--rather than in higher primates. This pushes the origin of primate color vision back roughly 20 million years.

October 28, 1999
The evolution of the sex chromosomes: Step by step
No other pair of chromosomes is as diverse as the sex chromosomes. In the October 29, 1999 issue of Science, Bruce Lahn and David Page describe how the sex chromosomes became so different--evolving from a pair of identical chromosomes into X and Y in several discrete stages over 300 million years.

October 21, 1999
Lack of sleep alters hormones, metabolism, simulates effects of aging
Chronic partial sleep loss can reduce the capacity of even young adults to perform basic metabolic functions such as processing and storing carbohydrates or regulating hormone secretion, report Chicago researchers. Cutting back from eight to four hours each night quickly produced striking changes that resembled the effects of aging or the early stages of diabetes.

October 8, 1999
Extract from traditional Chinese herb enhances recovery in stressed cells
Extracts from the Chinese herb Scutellaria baicalensis, contain powerful antioxidants that can significantly reduce cellular damage caused by free radicals--highly reactive compounds that are generated during metabolism and which contribute to the normal wear and tear of the cell.

October 6, 1999
Major grants support immunology, transplant and diabetes research
On October 6, 1999, the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation (JDF) and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) announced two major, closely related, multi-year grants to research teams headquartered at the University of Chicago. The JDF has awarded $7.5 million over a five-year period to establish the JDF Center for Islet Transplantation at the University of Chicago/University of Minnesota. The NIAID has launched a seven-year, $144-million initiative, involving nearly 40 research institutions to be known as the Collaborative Network for Clinical Research on Immune Tolerance.

October 5, 1999
Earl Evans, PhD, 1910-1999
Earl Alisan Evans, PhD, of Chicago, professor emeritus and former chairman of the department of biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Chicago, died from pneumonia on October 5, 1999 at age 89. Although Evans was a pioneer in several fields, including the use of radioactive isotopes to study metabolism and the use of a group of viruses known as bacteriophages to study the workings of DNA--research that was crucial to the development of the modern field of molecular biology--he was perhaps best known as a far-sighted, imaginative and magnanimous leader who built and maintained one of the top-rated biochemistry departments in the United States during his chairmanship, which lasted from 1942 to 1972.

October 4, 1999
Neighborhoods matter: Who gets CPR?
A University of Chicago study of more than 4,000 people who suffered a cardiac arrest found that the likelihood of having bystanders perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is associated with two neighborhood characteristics: the frequency of cardiac arrests and the racial mix.

September 21, 1999
Radovan Zak, PhD, 1931-1999
Radovan Zak, PhD, 68, a pioneer in the study of heart and skeletal muscle, died September 21, 1999. A professor in the medicine, physiology, and anatomy departments at the University of Chicago, he was an authority on the biology and biochemistry of contractile proteins--the building blocks of heart and skeletal muscle.

September 17, 1999
Mating process signal in salamanders found
Researchers at the University of Chicago have discovered a substance produced by male salamanders that acts on female salamanders as a chemical signal to speed up the courtship process and hasten mating.

September 13, 1999
Edward Cucci named president of Weiss Hospital
Edward A. Cucci was appointed president and chief operating officer of Louis A. Weiss Memorial Hospital, the University of Chicago Hospitals' North Side facility, effective November 1, 1999. Cucci will also serve as a vice president of the University of Chicago Hospitals and Health System.

August 16, 1999
Nathaniel Kleitman, PhD, 1895-1999
Nathaniel Kleitman, PhD, professor emeritus in the department of physiology at the University of Chicago, a pioneer in sleep research and the co-discoverer of REM sleep, died in Los Angeles, California on August 13, 1999 at age 104. The world's first scholar to concentrate entirely on sleep, Kleitman is universally recognized as the father of sleep research.

August 12, 1999
Plants, pathogens engage in trench warfare
Researchers at the University of Chicago have gained new insight into the co-evolution of plants and the microbes that attack them. In the August 12, 1999 issue of Nature, the researchers report findings that go against the widely held "arms race" theory in which plant resistance genes fight brief battles with microbes before both plant and pathogen mutate to higher levels of resistance and virulence.

August 9, 1999
Keck Foundation supports research at the edge
The Initiative for the Design of Bio-Inspired Materials--a research team comprised of University of Chicago biologists, chemists, and physicists--received a $2-million two-year grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation of Los Angeles, California to explore the creation of new physical materials based on biological templates.

July 31, 1999
Immunotherapy not helpful to prevent miscarriage
A treatment commonly used by physicians around the world to prevent recurrent miscarriage was found to have no benefit, according to a study led by researchers at the University of Chicago and reported in the July 31, 1999 issue of The Lancet.

July 29, 1999
Fly vs. fly
Researchers at the University of Chicago discovered two offensive mechanisms male fruit flies use to ensure that more of their genes get passed on to the next generation: displacement and incapacitation of a previous male's sperm.

July 23, 1999
Plakin proteins brace nerve axons and allow for the transport of neurotransmitter vesicles
At the University of Chicago, scientists interested in skin disorders caused by a weakening of the cytoskeleton have long known that a group of bolt-like proteins, called plakins, brace the intermediate filaments. Now, researchers led by Elaine Fuchs, PhD, Amgen Professor of Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology and Howard Hughes investigator, report in the July 23, 1999 issue of Cell that plakins bind to all three components of the cytoskeleton, providing an integrated bracing system that gives cells their strength and flexibility.

July 19, 1999
$325,000 Howard Hughes grant for biology outreach programs
The University of Chicago's Pritzker School of Medicine in the biological sciences division (BSD) received a grant of $325,000 from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) to expand its outreach program to teachers, high school and college students, and science journalists. The four-year grant will help support and expand existing BSD outreach initiatives that focus on educating the community about the rapidly changing world of science and medicine--also to increase public awareness of new developments in science.

July 14, 1999
Blocking VEGF can enhance radiation therapy
VEGF encourages the growth of new blood vessels. Tumors produce VEGF after exposure to ionizing radiation. An antibody that blocks VEGF increases the anti-tumor effects of radiation therapy. Anti-VEGF increases cell killing by radiation, makes blood vessel cells more susceptible to radiation therapy, and inhibits tumor recovery.

July 9, 1999
University of Chicago Hospitals top national survey
For the third year in a row, the University of Chicago Hospitals have been selected as one of the 13 best hospitals in the United States by U.S.News & World Report in their annual survey of America's nearly 7,000 hospitals.

July 9, 1999
Single amino acid change in herpes virus prevents it from infecting neurons
Researchers at the University of Chicago have found that a single amino acid change in a viral protein called ICP0 stops the herpes virus from entering the nervous system. The finding provides clear evidence of how viruses usurp the machinery of the cells they infect, and reveals a "potential new target for a herpes vaccine or future therapies," says Bernard Roizman, PhD.

July 1, 1999
Richard Schilsky, MD, named associate dean for clinical research
Cancer specialist Richard L. Schilsky, MD, was named the associate dean for clinical research in the Division of the Biological Sciences, effective July 1, 1999.

June 6, 1999
Skater Peggy Fleming to speak at cancer survivors celebration
Peggy Fleming, Gold Medal winner in the 1968 Olympics and breast cancer survivor, will be the keynote speaker for the Hospitals' Cancer Survivors Day celebration, noon to 3 p.m. at the Westin Hotel, 909 N. Michigan on Sunday, June 6, 1999. Anyone who has had cancer, plus friends or family members, is welcome to attend.

May 26, 1999
Protein misfolding, not mutant gene, key to lethal sleep disorder
When the witches in "Macbeth" needed a truly horrible curse, they denied their victim sleep. Researchers from UCSF and University of Chicago describe the first case of the neurological disorder that matches that curse, sporadic fatal insomnia, and demonstrate that SFI symptoms are determined by the shape of a misfolded protein.

May 17, 1999
Progress in cancer-vaccine studies: Simpler, safer approach producing encouraging results
Researchers from the University of Chicago and Genetics Institute report at ASCO on a new approach to a vaccine-based therapy for advanced melanoma, using the immune stimulant interleukin-12. Surprisingly, moderate doses of IL-12 were far more effective than higher, more toxic doses. Several patients have already benefited from the therapy.

May 15, 1999
New drug combinations improve treatment for advanced lung cancer
A phase-II study testing three drug combinations found that all three were more effective than standard therapy for treatment of stage-3 non-small-cell lung cancer. Median survival for patients receiving standard therapy is about 14 months. The new drug combinations added about four months to the median, raising it to 18 months.

May 11, 1999
University of Chicago surgeons perform heart-liver-kidney transplant
On Friday, May 7, 1999, after 11 weeks of waiting, 64-year-old Kent Slater of Rockford, Michigan, father of four and grandfather of nine, received a new heart, liver, and kidney at the University of Chicago Hospitals. This is believed to be only the second time this combination of organs has ever been transplanted.

May 6-7, 1999
Conference on the business of Healthcare, May 6-7
Industry leaders from across the country will gather to discuss the future of healthcare institutions. "The Business of Healthcare: Positioning Yourself to Survive," will examine how rapid change is altering and perhaps endangering the healthcare industry and its consumers.

May 3, 1999
Infant mortality research breakthrough
Short intervals between pregnancies have been linked to increased risk of infant mortality due to injuries and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), a team of researchers from the University of Chicago Children's Hospital reports May 3, at the annual meeting of Pediatric Academic Societies in San Francisco.

April 27, 1999
Janet Rowley, MD, receives prestigious National Medal of Science at White House ceremony
Janet Rowley, MD, of the University of Chicago Medical Center, will receive the National Medal of Science--the nation's highest scientific honor--in a ceremony beginning at 2:30 pm (EDT), on Tuesday, April 27, 1999 at the White House.

April 26, 1999
Evo-devo seminar
On May 13-15, 1999, the University of Chicago's Division of the Biological Sciences will sponsor a symposium bringing together some of the biggest names in evolutionary developmental biology. The symposium, titled "The Developmental Basis of Evolutionary Change," will be held Thursday, May 13, 1999 through Saturday, May 15, 1999

April 9, 1999
Breast Center opens
On Friday, April 9, 1999, Illinois Lieutenant Governor and breast cancer survivor Corinne Wood helped the University of Chicago Hospitals celebrate the opening of its new comprehensive Breast Center, which brings together the full spectrum of clinical and support services.

April 7, 1999
University of Chicago medical students' "gross!" anatomy lesson wins national award
The University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine's Adolescent Substance Abuse Prevention (ASAP) program will be recognized on Capitol Hill as one of eight winners of the "1998 Exemplary Substance Abuse Programs" by the United States Department of Health and Human Service's Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP) this week.

April 5, 1999
Yeast provides evidence for continuous membrane theory
Researchers at the University of Chicago have new evidence to support a controversial theory about tiny intracellular structures called organelles. Their findings support the theory that certain organelles form an interconnected system where one organelle gives rise to another through outgrowths of its own membrane.

March 21, 1999
Student drug awareness program goes to Washington, DC
Medical students from Georgetown University, George Washington University, and the University of Maryland will receive a crash course from University of Chicago medical students in the Adolescent Substance Abuse Prevention (ASAP) program this week.

March 14, 1999
University of Chicago performs liver-cell transplant to rescue infant
On March 11, Mujahid Musa, a three-pound, premature infant with liver failure, became the youngest and by far the smallest person ever to receive a new form of liver "transplant." Since Mujahid is too tiny and far too fragile to withstand major surgery, the University of Chicago Hospitals' liver transplant team infused about a billion liver cells through a catheter into his portal vein, a blood vessel that leads into the liver, in an innovative attempt to restore his liver function.

March 11, 1999
T-cell memory finding may provide key to cancer, AIDS vaccines
Vaccines to treat AIDS or cancer rely on cytotoxic T cells that can remember their targets. University of Chicago researchers looking for the origin of these memory T cells found that it required intense, prolonged stimulation to convert a significant number of naive T lymphocytes into memory T cells.

March 8, 1999
University of Chicago Medical Students' "Gross!" Anatomy Lesson Becomes National Standard in Adolescent Drug Prevention
Eighty medical students from around the country will receive a crash course from University of Chicago medical students in the Adolescent Substance Abuse (ASAP) Prevention Program at this year's American Medical Student Association's (AMSA) convention to be held in Chicago. ASAP uses a scientific approach to educate fifth through eighth graders about the effects of drug abuse by having them compare and contrast healthy and damaged organs.

March 5, 1999
Joseph Kirsner, MD, PhD, receives prestigious award
Joseph B. Kirsner, MD, PhD, the Louis Block Distinguished Service Professor of Medicine at the University of Chicago, has received the Distinguished Educator Award from the American Gastroenterological Association. The award was established by the AGA to recognize an individual for achievements as an outstanding educator over a lifelong career

February 25, 1999
Trial begins for first artificial liver device using human cells
Physicians at the University of Chicago Hospitals are beginning clinical testing of the first artificial liver device that uses cells from humans rather than from pigs. The ELAD (Extracorporeal Liver Assist Device) is designed to serve as a temporary liver for patients with acute liver failure, keeping them alive until their own organ can recover or until a suitable organ becomes available for transplantation.

February 23, 1999
Popular book explains how to determine and reduce your "RealAge"
A new book (and Web site) by Michael Roizen, MD, chairman of anesthesia and critical care, quantifies the "real present value" of health-enhancing behaviors and helps readers assess the benefits of healthy choices.

February 19, 1999
Brief exposure to high temperatures has lasting effect on nervous system
Researchers at the University of Chicago, in collaboration with scientists at Queens University in Ontario, Canada, have shown for the first time that brief exposure to high temperatures has long-lasting physiological effects on the nervous system.

February 3, 1999
University of Chicago researchers receive $2.5 million to evaluate mental health self-help program
The National Institute of Mental Health has awarded a $2.5 million grant to a consortium of researchers, based at the University of Chicago Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation in Tinley Park, Illinois, to evaluate the impact of GROW--a self- and mutual-support program for patients with mental illness.

February 3, 1999
Andrew Boxer, PhD, 1952-1999
Andrew M. Boxer, PhD, 46, assistant professor of psychiatry and director of the Evelyn Hooker Center for Gay and Lesbian Mental Health, died at his Chicago home Wednesday, January 13, 1999. The cause of death was lung cancer.

February 3, 1999
James Ryan, MD, 1934-1999
James Warren Ryan, MD, 64, associate professor of clinical radiology and medicine at the University of Chicago, died at his Hyde Park home on February 2, 1999. The cause of death was cancer.

February 2, 1999
Popular Mini-Med School offers second chance for those still curious
For whatever reason, like most people, you didn't go to medical school. Still think you've got what it takes? All you need is a sense of curiosity and some free evenings this spring. The University of Chicago's award winning Mini-Med School is a free, 10-week series of easy-to-understand, entertaining, and educational lectures for the general public.

February 1, 1999
Little Company of Mary joins with UCH
Little Company of Mary Hospital and Health Care Centers has entered into an agreement with the Medical Oncology Group of the University of Chicago Hospitals.

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