Four from HBS win Dean’s Award

first_imgFour members of the Harvard Business School (HBS) M.B.A. Class of 2012 have been named winners of the School’s prestigious Dean’s Award: Jessica Bloomgarden, Tiffany Niver, Andrew Rosenthal, and Daniel Rumennik.Bloomgarden, Rosenthal, and Rumennik were among the founders of Startup Tribe, an ad hoc group of HBS students who met weekly to brainstorm ideas, offer support, and pick the brains of local venture capitalists, serial entrepreneurs, and others on the tactical aspects of starting a business. As co-president of the active and influential HBS Women’s Students Association, Niver fostered an energetic and engaged community of women at the School and amplified the sense of excitement these women have for their roles as future business leaders.Bloomgarden also helped strengthen and communicate the advantages that HBS presents to women interested in pursuing high-growth entrepreneurship, while Rosenthal was an influential catalyst, connector, and advocate for the robust entrepreneurial communities at Harvard and in Greater Boston and beyond.  Rumennik was also lauded for working closely with Bloomgarden and Rosenthal, as well as HBS faculty and staff to create and launch the Minimum Viable Product Award, a competition for funding HBS students’ early-stage entrepreneurial ventures.For more information.last_img read more

Using nature to inspire robotics

first_imgScientists looking to nature for inspiration in solving humanity’s problems gathered at Harvard Medical School (HMS) on Friday to learn how robotics is helping to improve medical care.Participants in the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering’s annual symposium, called “Noise and Rhythm: Harnessing Complexity in Medicine and Robotics,” heard about how advances in the field are improving artificial limbs, about how other devices are teaching injured people to walk, about manufacturing and control of small flying robots, and about advances in “swarm intelligence” controlling bunches of machines.Wyss Director Donald Ingber, the Judah Folkman Professor of Vascular Biology at HMS and professor of bioengineering at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, introduced the daylong event, which took place at HMS’s New Research Building.Ingber said the Wyss has come a long way in the three-and-a-half years since it began, and today has 300 full-time staff members, 100,000 square feet of space, 180 patents, 20 to 25 industry collaborations, and two clinical trials about to begin.Three speakers in the morning addressed the complexity of nature’s rhythms, highlighting research that explored irregularities in heartbeat, in nerve signaling, and in babies’ breathing while asleep. Ary Goldberger, a core faculty member at the Wyss and professor of medicine at HMS and at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, said that the traditional view of medicine has been that health is a steady state disrupted by illness. Once the illness is overcome, the body returns to its normal state. The more researchers learn, however, the more they understand that health is not a simple steady state, but is complex and dynamic, which is an important lesson in understanding robotic design.Michael Goldfarb, Flowers Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Vanderbilt University and director of the Vanderbilt Center for Intelligent Mechatronics, described a new, powered, artificial leg that improves on current models that function passively. Passive prosthetics are hinged at the knee and work using the movement of a wearer’s upper leg to swing the lower leg into place.The passive legs, Goldfarb said, have several drawbacks, including the extra energy it requires to move. People using them walk slower and have trouble in places, such as on inclines and stairs, where those who have both legs can use muscle power to help.An answer to the problem was developed in Goldfarb’s lab, in the form of a powered prosthetic that provides a push from the forefoot with each step and that has been shown to improve the ability of amputees to climb and descend stairs and handle inclines.Arthur Kuo, professor of mechanical and biomedical engineering at the University of Michigan, spoke about how scientists are learning from nature about new ways to power mobile devices. Batteries are usually bulky and heavy, making up as much as 20 percent of the weight of prosthetic devices, while human body fat is much more energy-dense. Even a lean person has enough fat to walk for many kilometers, he said.“Is there some way to use fat to provide power in a useful way for mobile devices?” Kuo asked.Kuo investigated the human walking motion to see if it could provide an energy source. Energy is lost with every step due to collision forces occurring at the ankle and knee when the heel hits the ground. This understanding has allowed development of devices, one at the knee and one underfoot, that can generate power through the normal walking motion and that could power prosthetics.last_img read more

Transforming cancer treatment

first_imgA Harvard researcher studying the evolution of drug resistance in cancer says that, in a few decades, “many, many cancers could be manageable.”“Many people are dying needlessly of cancer, and this research may offer a new strategy in that battle,” said Martin Nowak, a professor of mathematics and of biology and director of the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics. “One hundred years ago, many people died of bacterial infections. Now, we have treatment for such infections — those people don’t have to die. I believe we are approaching a similar point with cancer.”Nowak is one of several co-authors of a paper, published in Nature on June 28, that details how resistance to targeted drug therapy emerges in colorectal cancers and describes a multidrug approach to treatment that could make many cancers manageable, if not curable.The key, Nowak’s research suggests, is to change the way clinicians battle the disease.Physicians and researchers in recent years have increasingly turned to “targeted therapies” — drugs that combat cancer by interrupting its ability to grow and spread — rather than traditional chemotherapy, but such treatment is far from perfect. Most targeted therapies are effective for only a few months before the cancer evolves resistance to the drugs.The culprit in the colon cancer treatment examined in the Nature paper is the KRAS gene, which is responsible for producing a protein to regulate cell division. When activated, the gene helps cancer cells develop resistance to targeted-therapy drugs, effectively making the treatment useless.To better understand what role the KRAS gene plays in drug resistance, a team of researchers led by Bert Vogelstein, the Clayton Professor of Oncology and Pathology at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, launched a study that began by testing patients to determine if the KRAS gene was activated in their tumors. Patients without an activated KRAS gene underwent a normal round of targeted therapy treatment, and the initial results — as expected — were successful. Tests performed after the treatment broke down, however, showed a surprising result: The KRAS gene had been activated.As part of the research, Vogelstein’s team analyzed a handful of mutations that can lead to the activation of the KRAS gene. To help interpret those results, they turned to Nowak’s team, including mathematicians Benjamin Allen, a postdoctoral fellow in mathematical biology, and Ivana Bozic, a postdoctoral fellow in mathematics.Analyzing the clinical results, Allen and Bozic were able to mathematically describe the exponential growth of the cancer and determine whether the mutation that led to drug resistance was pre-existing, or whether it occurred after treatment began. Their model was able to predict, with surprising accuracy, the window of time from when the drug is first administered to when resistance arises and the drug begins to fail.“By looking at their results mathematically, we were able to determine conclusively that the resistance was already there, so the therapy was doomed from the start,” Allen said. “That had been an unresolved question before this study. Clinicians were finding that these kinds of therapies typically don’t work for longer than six months, and our finding provides an explanation for why that failure occurs.”Put simply, Nowak said, the findings suggest that, of the billions of cancer cells that exist in a patient, only a tiny percentage — about one in a million — are resistant to drugs used in targeted therapy. When treatment starts, the nonresistant cells are wiped out. The few resistant cells, however, quickly repopulate the cancer, causing the treatment to fail.“Whether you have resistance prior to the start of treatment was one of the large, outstanding questions associated with this type of treatment,” Bozic said. “Our study offers a quantitative understanding of how resistance evolves, and shows that, because resistance is there at the start, the single-drug therapy won’t work.”The answer, Nowak said, is simple: Rather than the one drug used in targeted therapy, treatments must involve at least two drugs.Nowak isn’t new to such strategies. In 1995 he participated in a study, also published in Nature, that focused on the rapid evolution of drug resistance in HIV. The result of that study, he said, was the development of the drug “cocktail” many HIV-positive patients use to help manage the disease.Such a plan, however, isn’t without challenges.The treatment must be tailored to the patient, and must be based on the genetic makeup of the patient’s cancer. Perhaps even more importantly, Nowak said, the two drugs used simultaneously must not overlap: If a single mutation allows the cancer to become resistant to both drugs, the treatment will fail just as the single-drug therapy does.Nowak estimated that hundreds of drugs might be needed to address all the possible treatment variations. The challenge in the near term, he said, is to develop those drugs.“This will be the main avenue for research into cancer treatment, I think, for the next decade and beyond,” Nowak said. “As more and more drugs are developed for targeted therapy, I think we will see a revolution in the treatment of cancer.”last_img read more

President of Kosovo Constitutional Court speaks at HLS

first_imgOn Feb. 4, more than 70 Harvard Law School students, faculty, and other members of the Harvard community gathered in Wasserstein Hall to hear Enver Hasani, president of the Constitutional Court of Kosovo, speak on “European Self-Determination and the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice on Kosovo.”The nine-member Constitutional Court of Kosovo was established in 2009 as the final authority on the interpretation of the Republic of Kosovo’s constitution. Before his appointment to the court, Hasani was the head of Kosovo’s newly established Office of Foreign Relations, a legal adviser in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Albania, and a delegate to the Rambouillet Conference on Kosovo. He has also served as rector, dean of the faculty of law, founder and head of the Human Rights Centre, and professor of international law and international relations at the University of Prishtina.In his HLS talk, Hasani traced the evolution of nation-building from the Renaissance to the Napoleonic Wars, then turned to the making and unmaking of the former Yugoslavia, from the Versailles Peace Conference in 1918 to the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, the ensuing conflict in Kosovo, and the new republic’s declaration of independence in February 2008. He focused next on the U.N. General Assembly’s request, at the behest of the government of Serbia, for an advisory opinion by the International Court of Justice on the legality of the declaration under international law.Read more on the Harvard Law School website. Read Full Storylast_img read more

Eat, play, sleep

first_imgSleep. Eat three meals a day. Get outside the “Harvard bubble.” Try new things. And remember, professors are people too. Sounds easy enough, right?As the Class of ’17 heads for campus on move-in day Monday, faculty, fellow students, and administrators have some advice for the new freshmen.“Experiment, take intellectual risks, break the mold by doing things you haven’t done before,” said Jeffrey Hamburger, Kuno Francke Professor of German Art and Culture. “Also, seek advice, but don’t feel obliged to take it.”The freshmen, many of them with their parents’ help, will move into the dorms in and around the Yard on Monday, and then spend the next several days exploring the campus and the many opportunities that lie ahead of them before classes start the following week. They also will begin to get to know their roommates and classmates.Here are some transitional tips from those who already know Harvard:Just relax“When I first came to campus, my first concern was: Will I make friends, and who will I be friends with? I questioned if I was smart enough to be here. And I was very curious about what the year would bring,” said Jayshlyn Acevedo, a senior. “Just relax. The schedule over the first few days is created with thought and detail so that most of the questions you have as a freshman will be answered by the time the week is over.”Dean of Freshman Thomas Dingman said Acevedo’s initial reaction is common since this can be an exciting yet anxious time for freshmen.“Just remember that everyone is in the same boat. No one knows where anything is. You are not the only one,” Dingman said. “I also think it is great practice to plunk down next to someone at Annenberg (Hall) you don’t know very well and continue that practice throughout the year.”Harvard provides a wealth of opportunities both in and out of the classroom, which interim Dean of Harvard College Donald Pfister said could seem overwhelming, but shouldn’t be.“The richness of the community can have the potential to draw them into too many things — this sense that if they don’t do all of these extracurriculars they’re falling behind. I think the message is find what it is you want to do and do it well,” said Pfister, the Asa Gray Professor of Systematic Botany. “I do think stepping back and relaxing and developing your own pace is a big part of it.”Remember to sleep, eat, and exerciseAnya Bassett, a lecturer on social studies, advises freshmen. She stresses the basics of health and wellness when she meets with them.“For busy Harvard freshmen, sleep and exercise are often the first things to go, and they are so important to students’ balance,” Bassett said. “When I meet with my freshmen advisees, I ask them to keep track of how much they are sleeping, and I strongly encourage them to exercise regularly.”Krystal Ortiz, a junior, said the beginning of the semester is a time for freshmen to become acclimated to their new environment, but then the pace quickens.“In about the third week, things really start to pick up. You need to remember to take care of yourself and pay attention to the signals your body is giving you,” she said. “One of the biggest questions in every freshman’s mind is, ‘How did I get in here?’ It is important to recognize that everyone is here for a reason, and yes, you do belong here.”Break the Harvard bubbleThose who have been at Harvard for a while agree that the close proximity to Boston provides an unusually broad opportunity for exploration.“The T is so easy to use, you can be in Boston in minutes, or you can bike five miles and be anywhere you need to be,” said Acevedo. “Boston is a beautiful city, and there is so much to do and explore. Or you can join a service organization and really get involved in the community that surrounds Harvard.”Many incoming freshmen have told Dingman they chose Harvard over other Ivy League schools because of its location across the river from Boston.“I think getting out of the Harvard bubble is great advice. There are tremendous opportunities to explore in Boston,” Dingman said.Fun matters“The extension outside of the classroom is really what Harvard is about. This holistic environment will create the possibilities for you and enable you to practice what you learn in the classroom,” said Acevedo. “Have an open mind about all aspects of the campus when you come here. Take everything in so you can decide what it is you want to do. You could take a class for fun that becomes your passion.”Harvard is an academic experience, but Dingman stressed that freshmen — and all Harvard students — need to ensure they have a healthy social life as well.“Fun matters,” said Dingman. “The more they can take meaningful breaks, the more successful they will be. We know the people who do best are doing things outside of the classroom.”Professors are people tooOrtiz said freshmen shouldn’t be apprehensive about approaching professors to ask questions or seek help. “The faculty want to interact with students; they want you to ask questions,” she said.Hamburger and Melissa Franklin, Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics, both said that professors are people too.“But don’t call your professor ‘dude,’ ” Franklin suggested.“Don’t be afraid to knock on your professor’s door. We want to talk to you,” said Hamburger. “And most importantly, don’t focus on success. Focus on finding a vocation.”It will be over quicklyPfister, a former House master and member of the Harvard faculty for nearly 40 years, has taught and interacted with thousands of students. He said to remember that freshmen won’t be freshmen for long.“We always say, ‘Today you’re here as freshmen, and tomorrow you’ll be at Commencement.’ It may feel like an eternity, but it will be over quickly, so enjoy it and make the most of it.”Read more advice and share your own for Harvard’s incoming freshmen on Twitter using #Harvard2017.last_img read more

New paper: Oil and dynastic rule influence Arab Spring outcomes

first_imgThe Arab Spring, which raised hopes for a wave of democratic reforms throughout the Middle East, has so far led to regime change in only four countries—Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen. Why that dramatic series of almost synchronized uprisings reaped such modest dividends is the subject of a new paper, “Tracking the ‘Arab Spring’: Why the Modest Harvest?,” published in the Journal of Democracy, co-authored by Harvard Kennedy School Associate Professor Tarek Masoud.“The Arab Spring that resides in the popular imagination is one in which a wave of mass mobilization swept the broader Middle East, toppled dictators, and cleared the way for democracy. The reality is that few Arab countries have experienced anything of the sort,” the authors write. “The Arab Spring’s modest harvest — a record far less inspiring than those of the East European revolutions of 1989 or sub-Saharan Africa’s political transitions in the early 1990s — cries out for explanation.”Masoud and co-authors Jason Brownlee of the University of Texas, Austin and Andrew Reynolds of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, examined the political, social and economic conditions under which the various national protest movements were launched and sustained. Their analysis identified two primary factors – a nation’s oil exports and the nature of its ruling structure – that directly influenced the outcomes in each country.According to the authors, oil wealth endows leaders with extra repressive capacity, and the means to buy off regime elements that might otherwise defect in the face of protest.last_img read more

People lacking insurance not likely to migrate to obtain Medicaid coverage

first_img Read Full Story Amidst the patchwork nature of Medicaid expansion in the U.S. under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), some have worried that low-income adults in states without expanded coverage might move to states that have chosen to expand—thus placing a financial burden on those states. But a new Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) study finds little evidence of such cross-state migration.“Though many states have not opted in to the ACA Medicaid expansion, they may decide to do so in the future. Our study can inform these decisions by showing what happened when states implemented similar public insurance expansions in the past. We found no evidence that these states became so-called ‘welfare magnets,’ attracting low-income individuals from other states,” said lead author Aaron Schwartz, a doctoral candidate in health policy at Harvard.The study was published in the January 2014 issue of Health Affairs—and was one of several in the issue co-authored by Harvard School of Public Health researchers.last_img read more

Support for Medicaid expansion strong among low-income adults

first_imgLow-income adults overwhelmingly support Medicaid expansion and think the government-sponsored program offers health care coverage that is comparable to or even better in quality than private health insurance coverage, according to a new study from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researchers.The study appears online October 8, 2014 in Health Affairs.“In the debate over whether or not states should participate in Medicaid expansion, we rarely hear the perspectives of those people most directly impacted by policies surrounding Medicaid,” said study co-author Benjamin Sommers, assistant professor of health policy and economics at HSPH. “Our survey shows that expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act is quite popular among lower-income Americans and that they generally consider Medicaid to be good coverage.”Under the ACA, states can choose whether or not to expand Medicaid to adults with incomes below 138% of the federal poverty level. So far, 27 states and Washington, D.C. are expanding, while 23 states are not — and the issue is controversial in many of the latter states. Read Full Storylast_img read more

Margot Gill appointed new administrative dean for International Affairs

first_imgOn Tuesday, May 26, Michael D. Smith, Edgerley Family Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS), announced that Margot Gill has been appointed to the newly created role of administrative dean for International Affairs, effective July 1.In this new role, Gill will support and implement international initiatives of the FAS, as defined by the faculty. She will serve as a liaison to and key negotiator with foreign governments, international corporations, foundations, and NGOs on behalf of the FAS.For more than 20 years, Gill has served as administrative dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences’ (GSAS). In this role, she served as GSAS’s point person and primary negotiator for all new interfaculty Ph.D. programs, including the recently established Ph.D. in education and consolidated Ph.D. in religion. Internationally, she has met with alumni, foundations, universities, and foreign governments who seek to increase their country’s research capacity through the training of graduate students and postdoctoral students. She has also been a strong supporter for GSAS international students and created the Graduate School’s English Language Program (ELP) that serves as a model for Intensive English language training and acculturation to the American Classroom.“Margot has a profound understanding of what needs to be done and unrivaled experience in getting it done when it comes to establishing important, new academic agreements with foreign governments and international institutions,” said Smith. “I am thrilled that she has accepted this new role.”“I am excited by the opportunity to advance FAS goals in the international arena,” said Gill, “And I am especially pleased to be working with our world-class faculty and students on developing stronger ties throughout the world.”last_img read more

Ups and downs of sea level

first_img Poison in Arctic and human cost of ‘clean’ energy Hydroelectric energy may be more damaging to northern ecosystems than climate change Instead, distant parts of the globe would feel the effects. The ocean is not a bathtub, but Greenland’s meltwater would have to go somewhere.That scenario, described by Mitrovica in his talk at the Geological Lecture Hall, would also apply to glaciers and the other major ice sheet scientists say is endangered by climate change: the West Antarctic. In that case, the falling sea level would be near Antarctica and the highest rise would be offshore of Washington, D.C.“The moral is what you’re going to see depends on where you are,” Mitrovica said.Mitrovica’s talk, “Ancient Eclipses, Roman Fish Tanks, and the Enigma of Global Sea Level Rise,” examined the dynamics of sea level rise and debunked the arguments of climate-change deniers.Using levels inferred from Roman fish holding tanks and records of ancient eclipses, scientists have determined that average sea level rise in the last century has been the most significant in 2,000 years. Further, Mitrovica said, it appears that the rise over the last decade has been the most dramatic in a century.Recent research conducted at Harvard fine-tuned estimates of the average global sea level rise across the 20th century, pegging it at about 1.2 millimeters a year. That was a downward revision from the previously accepted figure of between 1.5 and 1.8 millimeters a year. The revision isn’t good news, however, because it means sea level has been rising faster in more recent years. Satellite measurements of 3.4 millimeters annually in recent years appear to be correct, Mitrovica said.One important result is that flood zones are rapidly moving inland. Areas that used to be endangered by 100-year floods are now in the 20-year flood zone.The sea level picture isn’t all bad news, Mitrovica said. Some have worried that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet could undergo catastrophic collapse, raising the sea level enough to inundate many cities. The fear emerged because the bedrock underneath the sheet is below sea level. If seawater were to penetrate and lift the sheet, the thinking goes, its collapse could happen fast.The gravitational effect of the ice, however, alters that scenario. As the ice melts, the nearby sea level will fall, reducing the risk of catastrophic collapse. Still, a single bright spot doesn’t change the worry that sea level could rise a meter over the next century, Mitrovica said.“We are changing this planet and sea level [rise] will accelerate. One meter more of sea level won’t appear evenly. It depends on which ice sheet melts.” Funny thing about sea level rise: Sometimes it falls.While many of us think of the oceans as a bathtub in which the level rises evenly as it fills with meltwater from glaciers and ice sheets, the reality is not so neat, Professor of Geophysics Jerry Mitrovica said Monday.The ocean, it turns out, is not a bathtub, and the ice melting thanks to climate change is not a spigot. That ice is vast, however. The Greenland Ice Sheet alone is more than a mile deep and extends beyond 1,000 miles.The ice exerts a gravitational pull, as do all things with mass. As it melts, the pull relaxes, causing the nearby sea level to drop even as meltwater pours into the ocean.“Sea level after a melting doesn’t remotely resemble a bathtub,” Mitrovica said.On a global scale “nearby” can cover a lot of territory, he pointed out, extending more than 1,000 miles. In other words, were Greenland’s massive ice sheet to collapse, nearby regions such as Iceland and coastal Europe would not be inundated. Relatedlast_img read more