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2011 Press Releases

December 21, 2011
'Head-first' diversity shown to drive vertebrate evolution
The history of evolution is periodically marked by explosions in biodiversity, as groups of species try out a wide range of shapes and sizes. With a new analysis of two such adaptive radiations in the fossil record, researchers have discovered that these diversifications proceeded head-first.

December 15, 2011
Sharon O'Keefe elected to Illinois Hospital Association board of trustees
Sharon O'Keefe, President of the University of Chicago Medical Center, has been elected to the Illinois Hospital Association's Board of Trustees. O'Keefe will begin serving a three-year term on the IHA board on Jan. 1, 2012.

December 13, 2011
Molecular markers can predict spread of cancer, guide treatment
Molecular markers found in cancer cells that have spread from a primary tumor to a limited number of distant sites can help physicians predict which patients with metastatic cancer will benefit from aggressive, targeted radiation therapy.

December 12, 2011
A small step for lungfish, a big step for the evolution of walking
The eel-like body and scrawny "limbs" of the African lungfish would appear to make it an unlikely innovator for locomotion. But its improbable walking behavior, newly described by University of Chicago scientists, redraws the evolutionary route of life on Earth from water to land.

December 8, 2011
Tiktaalik discovery among National Geographic's top grants
Neil Shubin's 2004 discovery of the pivotal fossil Tiktaalik roseae, a transitional species between ancient fish and the first limbed animals, is among 10 projects selected for their historical significance as part of the National Geographic celebration of the magazine's first 10,000 grants.

December 8, 2011
Helping your fellow rat: Rodents show empathy-driven behavior
The first evidence of empathy-driven helping behavior in rodents has been observed in laboratory rats that repeatedly free companions from a restraint, according to a new study by University of Chicago neuroscientists.

December 7, 2011
University of Chicago's Susan Cohn, MD, elected treasurer of ASCO
Pediatric cancer specialist Susan Lerner Cohn, MD, professor of pediatrics and director of clinical sciences at Comer Children's Hospital at the University of Chicago, has been elected treasurer of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

December 6, 2011
Drug combination highly effective for newly diagnosed myeloma patients, study finds
A three-drug combination treatment for the blood cancer multiple myeloma compares favorably to the best established therapy for newly diagnosed patients, according to a multi-center study led by Andrzej Jakubowiak, MD, PhD, professor of medicine and director of the multiple myeloma program at the University of Chicago Medical Center.

December 1, 2011
Leading expert, Andrzej Jakubowiak, to direct myeloma program at University of Chicago Medical Center
Andrzej Jakubowiak, MD, PhD, an internationally known authority on multiple myeloma, has been appointed professor of medicine and director of the myeloma program at the University of Chicago Medical Center. He came to the Medical Center in October from the University of Michigan.

November 16, 2011
First MacLean Center Prize in Clinical Ethics awarded to Dartmouth's John Wennberg
The MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics at the University of Chicago awarded the first MacLean Center Prize in Clinical Ethics and Health Outcomes to John E. Wennberg, MD, MPH, the Peggy Y. Thomson Professor for Evaluative Clinical Sciences at Dartmouth Medical School and founding editor of The Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care.

November 11, 2011
Physicians expand capacity, develop new applications for robot-assisted surgery
When Arieh Shalhav, MD, section chief of urologic surgery, performed the first robotic operation at the University of Chicago Medical Center in 2002, skeptics said the new device, a $1.2 million da Vinci Surgical System, was just a gimmick. Today, the Medical Center has four da Vinci systems and recently surpassed its 3,000th robotic prostatectomy.

October 31, 2011
$50,000 prize, focus on future of medicine are highlights of annual ethics conference
The 23rd annual Dorothy MacLean Fellows Conference on medical ethics will tackle the role of professionalism in improving patient care and strengthening the alliance between medicine and society. A highlight of the conference, which will be held Nov. 11-12, will be the presentation of the first MacLean Center Prize in Clinical Ethics and Health Outcomes.

October 30, 2011
Fat cells in abdomen fuel spread of ovarian cancer
A large pad of fat cells that extends from the stomach and covers the intestines provides nutrients that promote the spread and growth of ovarian cancer, reports a research team based at the University of Chicago in the journal Nature Medicine, published online October 30th, 2011.

October 27, 2011
Drug treatment shows promise for brain blood vessel abnormality
A drug treatment has been proven to prevent lesions from cerebral cavernous malformation -- a brain blood vessel abnormality that can cause bleeding, epilepsy and stroke -- for the first time in a new study.

October 19, 2011
Moving poor women to lower-poverty neighborhoods improves their health
Low-income women with children who move from high-poverty to lower-poverty neighborhoods experience notable long-term improvements in some aspects of their health, namely reductions in diabetes and extreme obesity, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Chicago and partner institutions.

October 19, 2011
Laila Rashid named vice president for Medical Center Development
Laila M. Rashid has been appointed vice president and associate dean for Medical Center development at the University of Chicago. She has served in this role on an interim basis since January 2011.

October 18, 2011
Young human-specific genes correlated with brain evolution
Young genes that appeared since the primate branch split from other mammal species are expressed in unique structures of the developing human brain, a new analysis finds.

October 13, 2011
Sherer wins Chime Bell Award from Chinese province
Renslow Sherer, MD, Professor of Medicine in the Section of Infectious Diseases and Global Health at the University of Chicago Medical Center and a visiting professor at China's Wuhan University, has received one of ten Chime Bell Awards granted this year by Hubei province in China.

October 7, 2011
Three specialists join the University of Chicago Cancer Center at Silver Cross
Lawrence Schilder, DO, and Sunil Narula, MD, cancer specialists at the Midwest Center for Hematology/Oncology in Joliet, and Brooke Phillips, MD, from the Cleveland Clinic, have joined the University of Chicago as clinical associates to practice at the University of Chicago Cancer Center at Silver Cross, scheduled to open in spring 2012 in New Lenox, Ill.

October 6, 2011
New data-mining effort launched to study mental disorders
Chicago will be home to a new $13.75 million project that will apply data mining methods to better understand the genetic and environmental factors behind neuropsychiatric disorders.

October 3, 2011
Bruce Beutler, MD, U Chicago graduate, to receive 2011 Nobel Prize in Medicine
Bruce A. Beutler, MD, a 1981 graduate of the University of Chicago's Pritzker School of Medicine, is among three winners of the Nobel Prize in Medicine for 2011. He shares the honor with Jules A. Hoffmann and the late Ralph M. Steinman for their discoveries about the immune system, which helped to lead to treatment and prevention of cancers and infectious illnesses.

September 30, 2011
Zdenek Hruban, MD, PhD, 1921- 2011
Zdenek Hruban, MD, PhD, professor emeritus of pathology at the University of Chicago and a pioneer in early electron microscopy, died at at the University of Chicago's Bernard Mitchell Hospital on September 18 after a long illness. He was 90.

September 29, 2011
James E. Bowman, MD, 1923-2011
James E. Bowman, MD, professor emeritus in the departments of pathology and medicine at the University of Chicago, died at the University of Chicago Medical Center on September 28 at the age of 88 after a long battle with cancer.

September 22, 2011
Bucksbaum Foundation pledges $42 million to bolster doctor-patient communication
The Matthew and Carolyn Bucksbaum Family Foundation is giving $42 million to the University of Chicago to create the Bucksbaum Institute for Clinical Excellence, a unique initiative that will focus on how to improve doctor-patient interaction.

September 20, 2011
Food and drugs: Administer together
A regulatory bias against taking oral anti-cancer medications with food places many patients at increased risk for an overdose and forces them to "flush costly medicines down the toilet," argues Mark Ratain, MD, an authority on cancer-drug dosing.

September 20, 2011
Biochemist Tao Pan receives NIH director’s Pioneer Award
University of Chicago scientist Tao Pan, PhD, will be awarded $2.5 million by the National Institutes of Health to fund his research into the functional genomics of RNA and epigenetics.

September 16, 2011
New model for treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder created
A new model of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) that mirrors both symptoms of the disease and the timing of its treatment in humans has been created by University of Chicago researchers, according to a new study.

August 24, 2011
Three-part handoff delivers proteins to membrane surface
The delivery system for an important class of proteins in the cell membrane can be fully replicated with a mere three components, according to a new study.

August 16, 2011
New drug aids gout patients not helped by standard treatments
Pegloticase, a modified porcine enzyme, can produce significant and sustained clinical improvements in 2 out of 5 patients with chronic gout that is resistant to conventional therapies, researchers report in the August 17, 2011, issue of JAMA.

August 12, 2011
Religious beliefs shape health care attitudes among U.S. Muslims
The perceived role of God in illness and recovery is a primary influence upon the health care beliefs and behaviors of American Muslims, a first-of-its-kind study has discovered. Outreach and education efforts by the health care community can help address Muslim concerns and improve health care quality in this rapidly growing population, the report recommends.

August 10, 2011
Anonymous gifts support new professorships in Institute for Molecular Engineering
The University of Chicago has created four named professorships for its new Institute for Molecular Engineering, building momentum behind the new academic program.

August 5, 2011
Michelle Le Beau, UCCCC director, named President-Elect of AACI
Michelle M. Le Beau, PhD, director of the University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center (UCCCC), has been elected Vice President/President-elect of the Association of American Cancer Institutes.

August 3, 2011
Italian academia is a family business, statistical analysis reveals
Unusually high clustering of last names within Italian academic institutions and disciplines indicates widespread nepotism in the country’s schools, according to a new computational analysis.

August 1, 2011
Susan Sher, former Chief of Staff to the First Lady, returns to University of Chicago Medical Center
Former White House adviser Susan S. Sher will return to the University of Chicago August 1 in a new role as Executive Vice President for Corporate Strategy and Public Affairs at the Medical Center, reporting to the Dean and Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, and Senior Adviser to the President of the University.

July 31, 2011
National asthma genetics consortium releases first results
A new national collaboration of asthma genetics researchers has revealed a novel gene associated with the disease in African-Americans, according to a new scientific report.

July 25, 2011
Two genetic variations predict second cancers after radiation treatment for children with Hodgkin lymphoma
A genome-wide association study published in the August issue of Nature Medicine has found two tiny genetic variations that can predict which patients with Hodgkin's lymphoma are most likely to develop radiation-induced second cancers years after treatment. Knowing in advance who is at risk could help physicians tailor treatment to reduce the risks for patients who are most susceptible to long-term damage.

July 19, 2011
National survey names University of Chicago Medical Center as one of the best U.S. hospitals
In its 2011-12 Best Hospitals survey, available online at, U.S. News & World Report selected the University of Chicago Medical Center as one of the finest hospitals in the United States.

July 13, 2011
Talking about faith increases hospital patients' overall satisfaction
Hospitalized patients who had conversations about religion and spirituality with the healthcare team were the most satisfied with their overall care. However, 20 percent of patients who would have valued these discussions say their desires went unmet, according to a new study by Joshua Williams from the University of Chicago and his colleagues. Their work appears online in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, published by Springer.

July 11, 2011
Genetic switch for limbs and digits found in ancient fish
Genetic instructions for developing limbs and digits were present in primitive fish millions of years before their descendants first crawled on to land, researchers have discovered.

July 11, 2011
Cancer program earns top accreditation
The American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer has awarded the University of Chicago Medical Center a three-year accreditation with commendation, its highest overall rating. The cancer program earned commendations in seven areas.

July 5, 2011
Head-and-neck surgeon and otolaryngologist, Vijay S. Dayal, MD, 1936-2011
An internationally known authority on the neurophysiology of the auditory and vestibular nerves and on treatment of diseases of hearing and balance, such as Meniere's disease, Vijay S. Dayal, MD, professor emeritus of surgery at the University of Chicago, died June 30, 2011, at age 74.

July 1, 2011
Pritzker School of Medicine, Medical Center announce 2011 Teaching Awards
The end of the 2010-2011 academic year for the Pritzker School of Medicine was celebrated with the announcement of several teaching awards voted on by medical students and faculty.

June 30, 2011
UCMC designated a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence
The University of Chicago Department of Radiology has been designated a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence by the American College of Radiology (ACR). The designation includes stereotactic breast biopsy, breast ultrasound, ultrasound-guided breast biopsy and mammography -- all of the College's voluntary, breast-imaging accreditation programs and modules.

June 25, 2011
Delilah greets patients in Comer Children's Hospital to raise awareness and money for children in crisis
Renowned radio personality Delilah visited Comer Children's Hospital at the University of Chicago over the weekend, to meet patients and their families, and to help raise money for their medical care.

June 13, 2011
James B. Nachman, MD, 1948-2011
Pediatric cancer specialist James B. Nachman, MD, professor of pediatrics at the University of Chicago--affectionately known as "Doc Nach"--died Friday, June 10, from a suspected heart attack while on a rafting trip in the Grand Canyon. He was 62 years old.

June 9, 2011
Three faculty members in Pritzker, BSD receive named appointments
Three members of the faculty in the Biological Sciences Division and the Pritzker School of Medicine have received named faculty appointments.

June 8, 2011
Grossman Institute for Quantitative Biology and Human Behavior created
The University has created a new institute designed to establish a group of scholars working at the intersection of quantitative biology, neuroscience, and the study of social and individual behaviors.

June 7, 2011
Many patients with advanced cancers get treatments that won't help
A study of more than 1,000 patients with colon cancer that had spread to distant sites found that one in eight was treated with at least one drug regimen that was not recommended. Those patients were exposed to significant risk without proven benefits, at an estimated cost -- just for the drugs -- of more than $2 million.

June 2, 2011
Patients with bowel disease eager to test "fecal" therapy
The first study of the social and ethical issues associated with a provocative approach to treatment for ulcerative colitis has found that the majority of potential patients are eager for what is now called "fecal microbiota transplantation" to become available, although many have concerns about donor selection, screening, and methods of delivery.

May 31, 2011
Sleep loss lowers testosterone in healthy young men
Cutting back on sleep drastically reduces a healthy young man's testosterone levels, according to a study published in the June 1 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

May 23, 2011
Physicians' offices in Matteson expand to offer more specialty services to the south suburbs
The University of Chicago Physicians at Matteson are moving to a new location to allow more patients access to medical services in the area, and to make room for more surgical specialty services.

May 18, 2011
Errors in protein structure sparked evolution of biological complexity
Over four billion years of evolution, plants and animals grew far more complex than their single-celled ancestors. But a new comparison of proteins shared across species finds that complex organisms, including humans, have accumulated structural weaknesses that may have actually launched the long journey from microbe to man.

May 17, 2011
Comer Children's Hospital gains ground on annual best hospitals survey
Comer Children's Hospital at the University of Chicago has again been ranked among the best children's hospitals in the United States, according to the 2011 U.S. News Media Group's Best Children's Hospitals rankings, now available online at

May 6, 2011
Cigarette smoking and arsenic exposure: a deadly combination
Arsenic exposure and smoking each elevate the risk of disease. But when combined together, the danger of dying from cardiovascular disease is magnified, a new study finds.

May 4, 2011
Neil Shubin elected to National Academy of Sciences, honored for teaching
University of Chicago evolutionary biologist Neil Shubin, PhD, the Robert R. Bensley Professor and Associate Dean of Organismal Biology and Anatomy, has been elected a Member of the National Academy of Sciences and honored with a prestigious national teaching award.

May 3, 2011
Nicotine and cocaine leave similar mark on brain after first contact
The effects of nicotine upon brain regions involved in addiction mirror those of cocaine, according to new neuroscience research.

May 2, 2011
Insomnia linked to high insulin resistance in diabetics
In the largest study of its kind to establish a link between sleep and diabetes, researchers found that people with diabetes who sleep poorly have higher insulin resistance, and a harder time controlling the disease.

May 2, 2011
The winners of mass extinction: with predators gone, prey thrives
In modern ecology, the removal or addition of a predator to an ecosystem can produce dramatic changes in the population of prey species. For the first time, scientists have observed the same dynamics in the fossil record, thanks to a mass extinction that decimated ocean life 360 million years ago.

April 18, 2011
Elderly diabetes patients with very low glucose levels have slightly increased risk of death
A new study of older diabetes patients has found that well-controlled blood sugar levels were associated with a lower risk of major complications such as heart attacks, amputation and kidney disease, but the very lowest blood sugar levels were associated with a small but significant increased risk of death. The study published in the June 2011 issue of the journal Diabetes Care, followed more than 70,000 type 2 diabetes patients from Kaiser Permanente who were over 60 years of age for four years.

April 18, 2011
Cancer specialist Mark Ratain receives prestigious award from leading oncology society
Mark Ratain, MD, the Leon O. Jacobson Professor of Medicine at the University of Chicago, has been awarded the Translational Research Professorship for 2011 by the American Society for Clinical Oncology's Conquer Cancer Foundation.

April 4, 2011
Stronger alcohol "buzz" predicts future binge drinking problems
For some people, alcohol is a social lubricant. For others, it's an unpleasant downer. New research shows that a person's response to alcohol can predict their future drinking behavior, including their frequency of binge drinking and the risk of developing an alcohol-use disorder.

March 29, 2011
Survey: University of Chicago Medical Center one of top Chicago-area hospitals
The University of Chicago Medical Center, long recognized as one of the finest hospitals in the country, has now been named one of the best in the city in the first Best Hospitals metro-area rankings from U.S.News & World Report.

March 28, 2011
Many elderly men undergo unnecessary PSA screenings
Many elderly men may undergo unnecessary prostate cancer screenings while men in their early fifties, who are more likely to benefit from early diagnosis and treatment, do not, according to a new study published March 28 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

March 16, 2011
University of Chicago medical school continues to rise in graduate rankings
The University of Chicago's Pritzker School was ranked 12 and the graduate programs in the biological sciences were ranked 13th in the United States in U.S.News & World Report's annual "Best Graduate Schools" issue, out this month.

March 16, 2011
Rock-paper-scissors tournaments explain ecological diversity
The mystery of biodiversity -- how thousands of similar species can co-exist in a single ecosystem -- might best be understood as the result of a massive rock-paper-scissors tournament, a new study has revealed.

March 7, 2011
Cancer surgery society awards top honor to Kimberly Duchossois
At its annual cancer symposium, the Society of Surgical Oncology presented the 43rd annual James Ewing Layman's Award to Kimberly T. Duchossois of Barrington Hills, Ill., for her deep commitment and long-term efforts to improve the quality of cancer treatment and help cancer patients get the information they need to make wise decisions about their care.

March 7, 2011
Matthew Tirrell named founding director of Institute for Molecular Engineering
Matthew Tirrell, a pioneering researcher in the fields of biomolecular engineering and nanotechnology, has been appointed founding Pritzker Director of the University of Chicago's new Institute for Molecular Engineering, effective July 1. The institute, created in partnership with Argonne National Laboratory, will explore innovative technologies that address fundamental societal problems through modern advances in nanoscale manipulation and the ability to design at a molecular scale.

February 28, 2011
University of Chicago physician named to National Cancer Advisory Board
On February 24, 2011, President Barack Obama announced his intent to appoint Olufunmilayo Falusi Olopade, MD, as one of five new members of the National Cancer Advisory Board.

February 28, 2011
Kurt+Peter Foundation supports research on rare form of muscular dystrophy
The Kurt+Peter Foundation has awarded two grants totalling $70,000 to Elizabeth McNally, MD, PhD, professor of medicine and human genetics at the University of Chicago, to study potential treatments for limb girdle muscular dystrophy, type 2C--a rare but severe form of muscular dystrophy.

February 17, 2011
Radiation therapy pioneer Melvin Griem, MD, 1925-2011
A leader in the early days of radiation therapy for cancer, Melvin L. Griem, MD, professor emeritus in the Department of Radiation and Cellular Oncology at the University of Chicago, died of pneumonia at The Grove at Lincoln Park, Chicago, IL, on Monday, February 7, 2011. He was 85.

February 17, 2011
Subtle shifts, not major sweeps, drove human evolution
The most popular model used by geneticists for the last 35 years to detect the footprints of human evolution may overlook more common subtle changes, a new international study finds.

February 14, 2011
Few women seek help for sexual issues after cancer treatment, but many want it
Many women who survive breast and gynecologic cancers want medical help for their sexual issues, but most do not get it. A survey of hundreds of cancer survivors, published online in the journal Cancer, confirms that more than forty percent want medical attention for their sexual health needs.

February 11, 2011
Research funding to accelerate South Side health and wellness community-mapping project
The University of Chicago Medical Center announced $500,000 in new public and private-sector support that will help researchers, in partnership with South Side residents, take the next steps in a groundbreaking effort to compile and publish maps of all of the area’s health, wellness and commercial resources. Mapping includes businesses, public agencies, churches, social-service organizations and health-related facilities.

February 9, 2011
Human and mouse studies sharpen focus on cause of celiac disease
Blocking a factor that can activate the human immune response against intestinal bacteria or certain foods could prevent the development of celiac disease in those most at risk, researchers report in the journal Nature.

January 24, 2011
Sharon O'Keefe to become President of the University of Chicago Medical Center
Sharon O'Keefe, a nationally recognized authority on hospital operations, health care quality, patient satisfaction and employee engagement, has been named President of the University of Chicago Medical Center, effective February 23.

January 17, 2011
Australian birds attract mates with 'scary movie effect'
Using a horror film to bring your date closer is a classic move in the teenage playbook. Now, a study of Australian birds finds that other animals use the same "scary movie effect" to attract female attention, by hitchhiking mating signals onto the calls of predators.

January 14, 2011
UHI donates $50,000 grant to first CommunityHealth Englewood Clinic
The Urban Health Initiative of the University of Chicago Medical Center has provided a $50,000 grant to the inaugural CommunityHealth Englewood Clinic to support area residents in need of health care services.

January 10, 2011
Hard-to-find fish reveals shared developmental toolbox of evolution
A SCUBA expedition in Australia and New Zealand to find the rare embryos of an unusual shark cousin enabled American and British researchers to confirm new developmental similarities between fish and mammals.

January 10, 2011
H1N1 pandemic points to vaccine strategy for multiple flu strains
Although the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic infected an estimated 60 million people and hospitalized more than 250,000 in the United States, it also brought one significant benefit--clues about how to make a vaccine that could protect against multiple strains of influenza.