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Arts Medalist named

first_imgKicking off the Arts First festivities, visual artist, writer, and curator Catherine Lord ’70 will receive the 2010 Harvard Arts Medal. President Drew Faust will present the medal as part of an event hosted by the Learning From Performers Program at 5 p.m. April 29 in the New College Theatre.Lord is the 17th distinguished Harvard or Radcliffe alum or faculty member to receive this accolade for excellence in the arts and contributions to education and the public good through arts. Past medalists have included poet John Ashbery ’49, composer John Adams ’69, M.A. ’72, cellist Yo-Yo Ma ’76, filmmaker Mira Nair ’79, and saxophonist Joshua Redman ’91.As a visual artist, writer, and curator, Lord addresses issues of feminism, cultural politics, and colonialism. Her artwork has been exhibited at the New York Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, La Mama in New York City, the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center, the DNJ Gallery in Los Angeles, and the Post Gallery in Los Angeles, among other venues. Her books include “Art and Queer Culture, 1885-2005” (forthcoming), “The Summer of Her Baldness: A Cancer Improvisation” (2004), and “Pervert” (1995).  She has organized presentations at venues including the University of California, Irvine Art Gallery, the Center on Contemporary Art in Seattle, and the Laemmle Theater in Los Angeles. Lord received her M.F.A. from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1983. She is currently a professor of studio art and an affiliated faculty member in the Department of Women’s Studies and Department of Visual Culture at the University of California, Irvine.For more information on the medalist or Arts First 2010 (April 29-May 2), visit the Office for the Arts at Harvard Web site.last_img read more

Housing Day

first_img Scoring one for Winthrop Famous residents of Winthrop House include John, Joseph, and Edward Kennedy. Here, Daniel Lage ’11 culls from history to heighten the allure of Winthrop House. Jungle love Leighdra the Lion (Johanna Rodda ’10) gets a beastly smooch off of Mike Pankratz ’11 of Mather House. Blood, sweat, and body paint Graham Frankel ’12, of Pforzheimer House, forgoes dignity and braves chilly temps in the name of Housing Day. The last bastion of innocence Eliot House’s resident tutor Brett Huggett holds one-and-a-half year old daughter Lucy for dear life. Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer Too much information Harvard’s most historic House gets freaky with the likes of Kate Leist ’11 (left) and Kellie O’Toole ’11, who make a bold argument. Resident bear Body paint just won’t do for Graham Frankel ’12, as he do-si-dos for Pforzheimer House with polar bear mascot Cara Sprague ’11. Eliot forever Shouts and signs? This ain’t no political rally. It’s Alfredo Montelongo ’11, and he loves Eliot House. Housing Day 2010 A sea of undergraduates flows outside Memorial Hall, shouting, dancing, pulsating, as students bob and weave to find and greet new housemates. Banners dip and soar like tethered kites. Colors abound, on signs, on painted faces, on makeshift tents and domes labeled “Adams,” “Winthrop,” and “Kirkland.” Music throbs, and the energy is frenzied, like at an outdoor disco. But it’s actually Housing Day at Harvard.This is the time when freshmen receive their assignments to one of the 12 upper-class Houses where they will live for the next three years. It is one of Harvard’s most hallowed rituals, an annual event generating more anticipation than the Harvard-Yale football game. “If you’re not happy with your House assignment today,” said one upperclassman, “just wait a month, and you will be.”“Just look around, it’s magical,” said another. He might have been referring to the costumed lion, two moose, and polar bears running about. It could almost be the Magic Kingdom, right here at Harvard. Mean green Danielle Gram ’11 (left) and Amy Rosenthal ’11 are lucky charms for Currier House. Cheeky wabbit Lavinia Mitroi ’12 dons ears and Leverett House cheek tattoos. Better than what? Housing Day is kind of like the Mardi Gras of Harvard. Here, Ebele Anidi ’12 shows his passion for Cabot House, and some New Orleans-style bling. A tall order Max Binder ’10, from Adams House, is on stilts, towering above freshmen inside Annenberg Hall. House party Life is a breeze at Eliot House, or so this T-shirt suggests.last_img read more

HMS partners with NFL Players Association

first_imgThe National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) has awarded Harvard Medical School a $100 million grant to create a transformative 10-year initiative — Harvard Integrated Program to Protect and Improve the Health of NFLPA Members. The program will marshal the intellectual, scientific, and medical expertise throughout Harvard University to discover new approaches to diagnosing, treating, and preventing injuries and illnesses in both active and retired players.“We are honored to work with the NFLPA to address the health challenges faced by NFL players and so many of America’s athletes,” said Jeffrey S. Flier, dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Harvard University. “We will harness the vast expertise of Harvard Medical School, its world-class affiliated hospitals, and Harvard University’s 10 Schools to ensure that we make a meaningful difference in the lives of these players through advances in medicine, science, and technology. We are committed to going beyond our walls. We will reach out to other institutions when necessary, in order to access the resources needed to solve the most pressing medical issues identified by the NFLPA.”“Our goal is to transform the health of these athletes,” said Lee Nadler, HMS dean for clinical and translational research, Virginia and D.K. Ludwig Professor of Medicine at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and director of Harvard Catalyst, who will direct the program. “In order to extend the life expectancy and quality of life of NFLPA members, we must understand the entire athlete, all the associated health risks, and all of their interactions. We refer to this comprehensive approach as the ‘Integrated NFL Player.’ Harvard Catalyst will convene and connect investigators from all disciplines, in all departments, across all of Harvard’s component Schools and affiliated hospitals, to work as a single team.”Professional football players often develop severe disability related to a number of health problems, including head trauma, heart problems, diabetes, and joint and other skeletal injuries, as well as psychological stress. Americans have become increasingly concerned about the risks posed by participation in contact sports. The program’s goal is to improve the health and well-being of NFL players, while further elucidating the risks of participation in American football. The researchers will develop strategies for preventing injuries, illness, and the undesirable consequences that sometimes result from participation in contact sports.Developing these strategies will require an intimate understanding of the specific needs of professional athletes. The program leadership team represents all the critical domains of knowledge and skills necessary for success. Joining Nadler as co-director is Ross Zafonte, Earle P. and Ida S. Charlton Professor and chair of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Associate directors will be William Meehan, director of the Micheli Center for Sports Injury Prevention, assistant professor of sports and emergency medicine, and director of the Sports Concussion Clinic at Boston Children’s Hospital, and Alvaro Pascual-Leone, HMS associate dean for clinical and translational research, professor of neurology, and director of the Berenson-Allen Center for Noninvasive Brain Stimulation at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.“Our partnership with the NFLPA will contribute to transforming our understanding of the effects of physical demands, emotional stress, and repetitive trauma on disease. We are excited about the contributions this extraordinary partnership will make to NFL players, the community, and the knowledge base of medicine,” said Zafonte.“The health issues that confront NFL players are alarming. When needed, we will reach out across the country and internationally to find the required expertise. For example, Herman Taylor, from the University of Mississippi Medical Center, who built and runs the unique Jackson Heart Study, makes us an even stronger team,” said Pascual-Leone.In order to ensure a thorough assessment, experts from a range of fields — including epidemiology, genetics, metabolomics, lipidomics, cell biology, neurobiology, regenerative medicine, neuroscience, imaging, and computational biology — will participate in this program. Researchers plan to immediately partner with NFL players themselves, identifying a group of at least 1,000 retired athletes from across the country. From this group, researchers will identify 100 healthy and 100 unhealthy players, and through a series of tests and examinations create what the researchers describe as a “biological profile of illness.” Such a comprehensive study of football players has never been done before. An effort of this magnitude is critical to developing novel tests that can detect the earliest signs of problems in active players, and to investigating interventions to prevent them.“We will immediately launch a number of innovative clinical trials to test new interventions for treating major health problems of NFL players,” said Meehan. These will include a method for regrowing anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, tissue; advanced imaging techniques to measure and assess heart function; and new approaches to directly treating concussion injuries.These and other projects are designed to yield results within the first few years, and will be followed by similarly innovative studies, identified through competitive academic challenges issued to researchers throughout Harvard and beyond. Researchers will be challenged to discover new risk factors, identify novel preventative measures, and develop innovative therapies. The key to the success of this initiative will be the partnerships among researchers, NFL players, and players’ families. Through ongoing “listening tours,” researchers will gain firsthand knowledge of players’ lives and experiences. Members of the Petrie-Flom Center at Harvard Law School will help address ethical, legal, and policy issues relevant to players.“In the United States, millions of kids and college athletes play football, formally and informally,” said Flier. “We cannot afford to ignore the health risks associated with this sport. This partnership between the NFLPA, Harvard’s Schools, and its prestigious hospitals represents an extraordinary opportunity to improve the health of NFL players and benefit generations to come.”NFL Commissioner Speaks at the Harvard School of Public Health In November of 2012, Roger Goodell, Commissioner of the National Football League, spoke about player safety in both the NFL and youth sports at The Dean’s Distinguished Lecture at HSPH. <a href=”” rel=”nofollow” target=”_blank”> <img src=”” alt=”0″ title=”How To Choose The Correct Channel Type For Your Video Content ” /> </a>last_img read more

City Year co-founder: ‘Action Tanks’ needed to bridge public policy, service

first_img Read Full Story After Monday’s tragic events at the Boston Marathon, the Kennedy School’s annual Public Service Week began on a somber note. Yet as the Shorenstein Center welcomed Alan Khazei, founder and chief executive officer of Be the Change Inc., co-founder of City Year, and HKS adjunct lecturer, the focus on service and policy seemed timely. Shorenstein Center Director Alex S. Jones introduced Khazei as a “genuine catalyst for positive change, and an inspiring leader of the effort to create social entrepreneurial ventures that benefit the common good.”Reflecting on the recent tragedy, Khazei noted that in spite of the horrific events, “we also saw the best of America.” In the stories of first responders who rushed toward the scene to help others, the nurses and doctors who worked tirelessly, the people who opened their homes and donated blood – “the innate spirit of people comes through…and takes over.” When tragedy strikes, people want to take action, and “we have to recognize that spirit,” Khazei said.City Year was founded out of the idea of an “action tank,” Khazei explained, a way to combine public policy with public service. Along with his friend Michael Brown, Khazei developed a theory that plenty of research had been done in think tanks about national service, but had never been tested. There were also programs emerging with a focus on service, but with no government support.last_img read more

The day the president died

first_img In 1959, Sen. John F. Kennedy, Class of 1940, attended Harvard’s Commencement. Kennedy spoke with Harvard Treasurer Paul C. Cabot (left) and Sidney Weinberg, senior partner at Goldman Sachs, who received an honorary degree that day. Kennedy’s suite in Winthrop House has been restored to reflect its former resident. Three of the Kennedy brothers, John, Joseph, and Edward, lived in Winthrop House. File photo by Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer AT SUPREME COURT, JUSTICES HUDDLED OVER A TINY TVAlan M. DershowitzFelix Frankfurter Professor of LawHarvard Law SchoolShortly after I began working as a law clerk for [Supreme Court] Justice [Arthur] Goldberg, I was in his secretary’s office while she was talking on the phone to her husband, who was an officer in the U.S. Armed Forces. He had something to do with communications because he told her that shots had been fired in Dallas.We turned on a small television set that had been in my cubicle ever since I had brought it from home to watch the World Series a couple of months earlier. Nothing was yet on the news. A few minutes later, everyone in the world knew that President Kennedy had been shot. It was a Friday, and the justices were in their weekly conference, which no one else was allowed to attend. I had been given strict instructions never to interrupt the justices during one of these conferences, but I knew this was an exception. I went to the door of the conference room and knocked. Justice Goldberg, being the junior justice, answered and gave me a dirty look, saying, “I told you not to interrupt me.” I said, “Mr. Justice, you are going to want to know that the president has been shot.”Several of the justices immediately gathered around my TV, which, it turned out, was the only one in the entire Supreme Court building. We watched as the news got progressively worse, finally leading to the announcement that the president was dead. The chief justice asked the justices to disperse for fear that there might be a conspiracy involving attacks on other institutions, such as occurred following the Lincoln assassination. The clerks stayed behind.The following night, Justice Goldberg asked me to drive him to the White House. He was closely connected both to the Kennedy family and to Lyndon Johnson, and the new president wanted his advice. I picked the justice up in my old Peugeot, which was filled with children’s toys, and I drove him to the White House gate. Goldberg asked me to wait for him, since the meeting would be relatively brief, and drive him home. When the White House guard looked into the car, he immediately flung the back door open and grabbed a toy gun. Nerves were tense. When Goldberg emerged from the meeting, he seemed relieved:  “The transition won’t be smooth, but it will work out.” It did.President Kennedy’s death affected me both directly and indirectly. Justice Goldberg had arranged for me to have a job with Attorney General Robert Kennedy, a job that I was considering taking. It soon became clear that Robert Kennedy would not remain in his job long enough for me to serve under him, so I did not pursue that opportunity. The assassination affected me indirectly in that it instilled a sense of cynicism in me about American politics and American justice. To this day I believe that it is likely that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, but I will never know for sure because the process by which the Warren Commission reached that result was deeply flawed. A FOCUS UP IN SPACE, AND THEN ON DALLASIrwin ShapiroAstrophysicist, Timken University ProfessorHarvard UniversityIn 1963, Shapiro was working on jam-proof communications as part of the U.S. Defense Department’s Project West Ford, which launched into orbit millions of tiny metal fragments, called dipoles, that functioned as antennae.A little before 1, I was at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory’s labs on 185 Alewife Brook Parkway. They had a Baker-Nunn system, which were cameras located on the Earth that took pictures of the sky, following satellites and stuff like that. I was there because their cameras should have detected these dipoles when they were closely packed, before they had spread out in a ring. They were launched something like Oct. 21, 1963, and this was about a month later. They had spread quite a bit but not all the way around. I wanted to see if they could detect them or not with the Baker-Nunn cameras.Someone had the radio on, and I heard that the president was shot, and he was being taken to the Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas. From the description, it didn’t sound to me as if he would get there alive. I was just totally shocked. The general response was shock, but it wasn’t that all work stopped. I have to admit it: We kept on working. Even though it was going around in my head, I still was able to work, and did.I don’t think my work was changed at all [with the assassination]. I remember being worried about Johnson being president and then being uplifted by his speech, which was impressive to me. I didn’t think he was capable of it.I’d like to believe he [Kennedy] would not have gone whole-hog into Vietnam. It’s easy to say, but who can prove it? But that’s what I thought in retrospect may likely not have happened. Of course, the whole country’s succeeding history would have been very different … Now, would we have made progress in civil rights like we made with Johnson?I would like to believe it, but I can’t do the experiment. Kennedy’s academic records reflected his campus memberships as “Football, Swimming, Chairman of Smoker Committee.” JFK at Harvard “GOOD LORD, I WONDER WHAT’S HAPPENED?”Francis M. BatorLucius N. Littauer Professor of Political Economy EmeritusHarvard Kennedy SchoolI was having lunch at the Metropolitan Club in Washington with an old friend who had been a colleague at the [Massachusetts Institute of Technology] Center for International Studies. We were sitting at a table fairly near the window. About 10 minutes after we began, [national columnist] Walter Lippmann came in … and sat down for lunch, and we waved hello. About halfway through lunch, I noticed that someone from the desk downstairs at the Metropolitan Club came running up the stairs, literally ran into the dining room to Lippmann’s table, and whispered something in his ear.Lippmann, 74 years old, not a spring chicken, bolted upright, and headed at a fast trot for the stairs. And I remember … saying … “Good lord, I wonder what’s happened?” Word passed quickly around the dining room that the president had been shot.At one point soon after the election, I had had lunch with [Kennedy adviser] Ted Sorensen at the MIT faculty club, and he asked if I’d be interested in going to work for the Kennedy administration, and I said yes, depending on the job. But other than occasional minor consulting, nothing came of it until September ’63 when I did go down as economic adviser … for David Bell, who had been Kennedy’s first budget director and went to run the Agency for International Development. That’s why I happened to be in Washington at the time of the assassination. … It was a ghastly thing to have happened, and though I barely knew John Kennedy, there was no doubt an element of personal shock. Wasn’t there for most Americans?You ask about how it affected my life personally. I am sure that I had hoped that eventually I might end up working directly for J.F.K. in the White House. …  As it happens, I continued in my A.I.D. job, but in March or April of ’64, [White House adviser] McGeorge Bundy did ask me to become the senior economist on the National Security Council staff, and I accepted, ending up as deputy national security adviser for Lyndon Johnson.I suppose it’s not inconceivable that’s where I would have ended up for Kennedy, but that’s just idle speculation.center_img Kennedy was photographed as he arrived to attend a Harvard Board of Overseers meeting on Jan. 9, 1961, less than two weeks before he was to be inaugurated as president. REALIZING SHE KNEW BOTH KENNEDY AND OSWALDPriscilla Johnson McMillanCenter associate, Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian StudiesAuthor of “Marina and Lee” (1977, reprinted 2013)McMillan is believed to be the only person who knew both Kennedy (for whom she worked in 1953 in his Senate office) and gunman Lee Harvey Oswald (whom she interviewed in 1959 as a reporter in Moscow).I was living in the basement of the Brattle Inn [near Harvard Square]. At that time it was a collection of little wooden buildings … at Brattle and Story [streets]. A friend of mine drove into the parking lot and told me Kennedy had been shot. I was angry at him, at my friend, for telling me, angry for telling me the news. Later I was walking past when I ran into one of the secretaries at the Russian Research Center, where I was then a fellow. I said, “Have they caught anybody?” and she said, “Yes. His name was Lee Harvey …” I knew the rest. I did not know he was back in this country. At that stage of the Cold War, it wasn’t so easy to come and go. That was a shock, of course.I remembered that I had written a profile of Oswald when I met him in 1959. So I got in touch with the North American Newspaper Alliance, for which I had been a reporter, to see if they still had that story … I still have a copy of it, of my story. It was a profile of a defector. We didn’t have many defectors in Moscow at the time. People came to Moscow for career reasons. There had never been someone in my experience who claimed to want to live there because he was a Marxist. Nobody believed in the system anymore, including the Russians. Someone who came, an American, as an ideological defector, was very unusual.I just described him. It was just a news story. He had just had his 20th birthday. He was slight. He was about 5 feet 8 inches or 9 inches, and thin. When he said “ask,” he said “axed.” He spoke through a fog of Marxist lingo. I tried to talk to him about himself, but he wanted to talk about Marxian economics.[After hearing that the president had been shot] I was very nervous. I tried to talk to people at the office. It sort of blew out the center of me. And the shooting of Oswald [two days later], even more so. It was so graphic.McMillan, who speaks Russian, met Marina Oswald, Lee’s wife, the following year and spent six months near her, eventually writing a book about their marriage called “Marina and Lee.”It took a lot emotionally out of me because I was trying to get inside of Oswald’s mind, and to a lesser extent her mind. But mostly I was trying to understand what went on in his mind … before he shot at President Kennedy. I was trying to get inside of their minds. When you write about something in depth, you see right through to the bottom of life. It changed me as a person. At the end of that, I understand a lot more about life itself.I just had a life. I got married and moved to the South. My husband was a reporter in the Civil Rights Movement. I was always in touch with Marina and would call her [with questions]. She was very patient, and we were good friends. For a while, all I did was review other people’s books. I appreciated what it took to write a book, and I wanted to see that other authors got a fair shake. I couldn’t think what I wanted to do next. The Class of 1940 Freshman Red Book, given to students once the semester was under way, listed John F. Kennedy’s address as Bronxville, N.Y., his dorm room as Weld 32, and his high school as Choate. Photos courtesy of the Harvard University Archives They are the touchstone moments, the rare flashpoints in American life where all who experienced them remember exactly where they were, how they felt, how their lives changed. The 9/11 attacks provide one such memory, the Pearl Harbor bombings another, and the killing of President John F. Kennedy a third.Kennedy’s assassination happened 50 years ago, but those affected remember the details of Nov. 22, 1963, as if it were yesterday. The Gazette’s reporters asked five members of the Harvard community how they recall that day, and how it affected them. Here’s what they remember, and what happened afterward:IN SHOCK, WALKING AWAY FROM THE STORYMarvin KalbEdward R. Murrow Professor of Practice EmeritusHarvard Kennedy SchoolI was the chief diplomatic correspondent for CBS News during those days. And I had just been at a briefing that Gov. Averell Harriman gave about a trip to Southeast Asia that he had just completed. He tried to persuade us that all of Southeast Asia was in support of the war in Vietnam. I wrote a 50-second radio spot and went into the radio booth that CBS had on the second floor of the State Department. When I picked up the earpiece to call in to the studio to do the recording of the piece, I heard the voice of Allan Jackson, who was one of the principal radio anchors at the time, telling the American people that the president has just been shot.I did not immediately understand that he was speaking of President Kennedy. I was in a bit of a haze until I heard him later in the broadcast speak specifically about President Kennedy, about Dallas, and the seriousness of the wound. At the very beginning, I didn’t know which president he was talking about. And I did not think it was Kennedy. My mind simply wasn’t there. And then when I heard him specifically say — I remember sitting in this very small, darkened broadcast booth in a state of some shock. I was not responding in a very professional way, by which I mean: “Wow, what a great big story this is, and I wonder what part I can play in it.” I was in a state of shock, and I sat there until finally, I believe it was 1 o’clock, I heard Walter Cronkite announce quite specifically that “President Kennedy is dead.”I knew immediately that my bureau chief would call me to come into the studio and help with the anchoring of the CBS News, and I also knew that I couldn’t do it. And so I did what I hope was the only totally nonprofessional thing I’d ever done in my life: I left the broadcast booth, left the State Department, and began to walk around the building itself trying to compose myself. And when I had completed this rather long walk, because it’s four long blocks, I still felt that I could not, that my mind was not clear enough to do a broadcast. That’s why I walked around it a second time. And then I felt as if I was together. I could do anything at that point — I felt I could anyway — and I walked back to the booth. Both phones were ringing. My boss was on both phones, and he was saying something like, “Where the hell have you been?” And I said, “I just found out.” I lied. And I said, “What can I do to help?” He said, “Get your ass in here.” Which I did.I think it had a major impact on America over the next decade or two. I think it was part of the beginning of massive changes within American society, changes to our politics, changes to race relations, changes to women’s rights, changes to popular uprisings against the continued war in Vietnam. I feel that if Kennedy had lived — I’m not saying these things wouldn’t have happened — but I am saying it would have happened in a different way. And he might, might have had the capacity to take a different view of the war in Vietnam and bring the troops home. I don’t know that he would have done that — in fact, I suspect he would not have — but there was that possibility.But without Kennedy, without the comfort, the security that comes with knowledge that there is a president doing his job, the White House is occupied, we would not have had to live through the trauma of his death, absorbing what it meant, and I think we would have been better off … And I say that in full recognition that the words may convey something less than I feel. I feel very strongly that, had he lived, America would have been a different and better place.Professionally, I’m embarrassed to say that I went back and did what I assume was a very good job because I got better and better assignments after that. I can only tell you, at the time, I was quite devastated. Like everybody who read a history book, I knew about other American presidents who had been killed. And of course, Lincoln was always on my mind. But I never believed that in my lifetime presidents would be killed. I thought that was in the past, something we had lived through and advanced beyond. But it was not true. And it is not true even to this day. Kennedy, who was elected to the Harvard Board of Overseers in 1957 and served until 1963, held an Overseers’ meeting at the White House on May 13, 1963.last_img read more

Breaking down ‘Bad’

first_imgSpoiler alert: Walter White could have lived.That’s right — not even “Breaking Bad” creator Vince Gilligan was certain of the fate of his antihero, played by Bryan Cranston, when it came time to draft last fall’s season finale.“Everything was on the table,” Gilligan told a Farkas Hall crowd Thursday in a conversation that proved illuminating but also nail-biting for hundreds of fans seeking a behind-the-scenes glimpse of a show whose five-season run has been hailed as one of the best in TV history.But before the audience had their say, Gilligan broke down “Bad” with Harvard President Drew Faust, who admitted that she, like others in attendance, was a big fan after having “binge-watched” the series on Netflix.Her first question: “Where did the preposterous premise come from?”Gilligan giggled.The Richmond, Va., native explained that the idea came during a phone call from a fellow “X-Files” writer. With that show over, “he joked that we should buy an RV and start a meth lab, and as he said that the idea was one of those eureka moments,” said Gilligan. “The idea that I was about to turn 40, and we were a couple of plain-Jane, law-abiding citizens” created the foundation for a character that was “kind of like me, except with chemistry and scientific knowledge.”That character turned out to be White, a meek chemistry teacher in Albuquerque, N.M., who “breaks bad” after a cancer diagnosis and, in an effort to provide for his family, begins cooking an unadulterated form of methamphetamine with the help of former student Jesse Pinkman, played by Aaron Paul.“I knew what the central spine of the show was going to be,” said Gilligan, who wrote the pilot episode on his own before a team of writers signed on. “I wanted to create a show where the protagonist metamorphoses into the antagonist. Historically you haven’t seen that on TV.”Faust supplemented her interview with scenes from the show, among them Episode 12 from Season Two, in which White lets Pinkman’s girlfriend Jane choke on her own vomit, instigated by heroin and meth use, instead of saving her.“This was the one time the studio thought killing off Jesse’s girlfriend was turning Walt into Scarface too quickly,” said Gilligan.Gilligan praised his fellow writers throughout the talk. Stepping back from the writing process was actually a joy and relief, he told Faust, who pointed out his meticulous attention to symbolism and detail, or “granularity” — right down to choosing a character’s shoes.“I’m more microscopic than macroscopic,” he said. “All that production stuff is more fun than writing.”That granularity lit up the blogosphere throughout the show’s run. “Color is important, wardrobe changes are important,” said Gilligan. “The layered look Jesse had started to go away” as the series progressed, he said, and Jesse’s shaved head mimicked White’s chemo-induced baldness when Jesse still admired White.Other revelations?Teasers for Season Two depicted strange, catastrophic scenes whose link to a plane crash over Albuquerque was eventually revealed. But Gilligan said four episodes from that season were titled to be clues of the plane’s fate: “Seven Thirty-Seven,” “Down,” “Over,” “ABQ.”Oh, and Jesse was doomed — initially.“My general thought was that we’d get rid of Jesse — he’d die in some horrible way,” Gilligan said. “Very quickly I just knew there was no way we’d want to kill this guy.”Gilligan told the crowd that his favorite episode was “Fly,” which he said viewers either loved or hated. The episode centered on White and Pinkman in an underground lab, with White going temporarily insane trying to kill a fly that has contaminated their workspace.Calling it a “bottle episode” written “because we were drastically over budget,” Gilligan said that filming in one location saved a lot of money and that the action was brilliantly directed by Rian Johnson.In a question from the audience about the relationship between his life and his art, Gilligan admitted that, like White, “I’m not as nice as I appear.”“When I’m happier, I’m nicer. I think everyone has a darkness, but I’m not a particularly interesting person,” he said. “I do ask myself things like why I never backpacked through Europe when I was younger … Walter White does terrible things, and he does them out of fear. He says, ‘Before cancer, I’d worry about everything.’ After cancer, he says, ‘I sleep like a baby.’ I don’t want cancer, but I want the fear to go away.”Those who have seen “Breaking Bad” know that White’s fear does go away — and that Jesse is salvaged.“We discussed every possible ending,” Gilligan said. “There’s a version where everybody dies; there’s a version where nobody dies. We didn’t have the ending figured out even weeks in advance.”Gilligan is now at work on a spinoff featuring Saul Goodman, the show’s slippery but lovable attorney, called “Better Call Saul.”“We tried to be novelistic, we tried to write ourselves into inescapable corners,” said Gilligan. “And I love that this show belongs to you folks now, that people interpret it the way they see fit.”last_img read more

Healing outside the box

first_imgWhat if health care workers in under-resourced countries could administer a prognostic test on patients in the field, miles from any hospital, simply with a smartphone app?This is the kind of innovation that the winners of the 2014 President’s Challenge will now be able to bring to thousands, if not millions, of people suffering from diabetic foot ulcers.President Drew Faust on Thursday awarded $70,000 to the project, called VACU Scan.The support will be crucial in widening its reach.“There were so many really great ideas and teams here, I’m just really happy right now,” said Benjamin Brush, a student at Harvard Medical School (HMS) and a member of the VACU Scan team.“This money will speed up our implementation process,” said team member Richard Lin, also of HMS. “The equipment we can buy, the trials we can perform, the personnel we can hire … this is a game-changer for us.”Changing the game, or at least advancing possible solutions for some of the world’s greatest problems, has been the focus of the President’s Challenge since its inception three years ago. This year Faust, in collaboration with the Harvard Innovation Lab (i-lab), challenged Harvard students to generate social change by developing entrepreneurial solutions in five categories: education innovation, affordable health, energy and the environment, economic development and sustainable employment, and efficient governing.“Nobody could have predicted the reaction the i-lab has engendered, and nobody could have predicted how much it would be offering to the world in the way of great ideas, improvements, and inspiration,” Faust said in remarks before announcing the winner.Faust was particularly impressed by the range of the competitors — the 130 teams in the challenge came from 12 different Schools at Harvard. “As I walked around and talked with the different teams I so enjoyed asking where they were from and figuring out how in the world these collaborations ever evolved,” she said. “They evolved because this space is here and this space encouraged it and made it happen.”In March, 10 finalists were announced and the challenge picked up momentum, with teams working at an accelerated clip to build their ideas into viable ventures. Their resources included time and space at the i-lab, $5,000 seed money, and insight from mentors.The three runners-up from that group were OpportunitySpace, a platform that helps communities find the best uses for public land; Virtudent, a telehealth solution for dentistry; and Giant Otter Technologies, a Web-based, 3-D simulation tool for conflict resolution focused on  school bullying.“The President’s Challenge process meant so much to us,” said Geoff Marietta, a doctoral student at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a co-founder of Giant Otter. “We were able to get feedback from the Harvard community about whether this is an idea that should move forward and be scaled. It showed us the validity of our idea.”The challenge has yielded impressive results. Since winning in 2012, Vaxess, which developed a method of using silk to stabilize vaccines so they can be stored and shipped without refrigeration, has raised $3.75 million in its first round of venture funding. Now established in a new lab in Kendall Square, its team has grown from the original four founders to seven employees.“The President’s Challenge played a huge role in Vaxess’ success, providing us with initial seed capital to push the technology forward, access to great mentors who worked with us to advance the plan, and pressure from competing against great entrepreneurs, which prepared us to head out into the real world and compete for funding,” said Michael Schrader, who graduated from Harvard Business School in 2012.Adam La Reau, the founder of finalist One Summit, which helps children with cancer build self-confidence and resilience through the rigors of rock climbing, said the competition spurred him to ask the right questions. “What direction do I want to go? What’s the end state? What’s the impact I’m trying to have and how do we measure it?”But the toughest test for La Reau, a student at the Kennedy School, was not a business or technological challenge. “It was finding out just how many kids suffer from cancer. This is what inspires you to want it to scale — and scale smart. We want to do it, but do it well, and deliver the impact we set out to deliver.”last_img read more

A monstrous passion

first_img“I was 14 and he didn’t have a baseball card so naturally I didn’t recognize him,” he said. “When I introduced myself, I asked him who he was reading currently and he said Seamus Heaney. I started to get into a discussion with him about ‘Beowulf’ — the poetry of it — and it instilled me with drive. As soon as Derek Jeter stopped being the model for my existence, it gave me an idea of what I wanted to do.”As a Harvard student, that’s meant immersing himself in courses like English Department Chair James Simpson’s “Arrivals: British Literature 700-1700,” taken last year. Part of the fun was writing an essay on his beloved “Beowulf.”“I made the argument that though it was written from a Christian perspective, and its author clearly loathed paganism, ‘Beowulf’ had nostalgia for pagans or, more accurately, warrior pagan culture. I tried to be interdisciplinary, using linguistics, English, and history,” he said, before breaking into another passage from the poem.Sometimes at pagan shrines they vowed / offerings to idols, swore oaths / that the killer of souls might come to their aid / and save the people. That was their way, / their heathenish hope; deep in their hearts / they remembered hell.Student Charles Hyman reads from Seamus Heaney’s translation of “Beowulf.” Simpson, Donald P. and Katherine B. Loker Professor of English, said he immediately recognized Hyman as “serious and very well informed” when, three classes into the course, he questioned his teacher’s understanding of “The Odyssey.”“By the time he presented his essay on ‘Beowulf,’ mid-term, I understood that he was the kind of student who would profit enormously from learning to read Anglo-Saxon,” Simpson wrote in an email.Hyman, a Newton native, is just as much a student of the past when he’s off campus. An avid gardener, he grows chives from the same seeds his grandmother used. His detailed study of his family’s genealogy has connected him to ancestors who survived the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City, died during the Holocaust, fought alongside Lajos Kossuth in Hungary, and served as court Jews during the Holy Roman Empire.“These are disparate threads, but they do connect who I am,” he said. “It’s not just about family or history or literature. It’s about creating a worldview that combines these elements into what I hope is an empathetic and dynamic understanding of the world and my place in it.”Save This article is part of a series on the impact of humanities studies in and out of the classroom.Through dead languages, Charles Hyman ’18 has found intellectual life.In his deep study of Latin, ancient Greek, and now Old English, the 20-year-old history and English concentrator has discovered words that, far from being obsolete, are gateways to gripping narratives and powerful learning.“They capture the imagination,” said Hyman, who recalled his earliest romance with ancient history, discovered while visiting reliefs of Assyrian hunters in the British Museum in London when he was 6. “It might seem unreachable. Yet if you learn these languages, you feel so connected with the past in an immersive way.”A detail image of Hyman’s copy of Seamus Heaney’s translation of “Beowulf,” opened to the messenger’s eulogy of the title character. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff PhotographerAt the heart of his affection for these extinct languages is an undying love of “Beowulf,” the eighth-century Old English epic he began listening to at age 10, as a book on tape, with his dad, Steven, a professor of stem cell and regenerative biology.“At the beginning, I loved the blood and gore,” he said. “When you’re 10, it’s quite appealing and, admittedly, at 20 it still is.”Sipping coffee at Lamont Café, Hyman recalled the monster Grendel’s arrival at the mead hall, one of many passages he’s memorized from Seamus Heaney’s translation of “Beowulf.”Nor did the creature keep him waiting / but struck suddenly and started in; he grabbed and mauled a man on his bench, / bit into his bone-lappings, bolted down his blood / and gorged on him in lumps, leaving the body / utterly lifeless, eaten up / hand and foot.Student Charles Hyman reads from Seamus Heaney’s translation of “Beowulf.” It’s a moment — one of many — that makes the epic hard to put down. As an eighth-grader at Roxbury Latin, in West Roxbury, a teacher told Hyman to stop bringing it to class.“So I brought “The Iliad,’” he said. “My teacher still wasn’t happy. He wanted literature from the 20th century.”The Winthrop House resident noted that his parents have always convened “academically rigorous” dinner table conversation. The same is true for evening walks with his dad and the family collie, Flag.“We get into passionate arguments and discussions that have molded me,” he said.There have been many other formative exchanges. Hyman, an avid sports fan, remembered meeting Wole Soyinka, winner of the 1986 Nobel Prize in literature, at a Christmas party.last_img read more

Specialists take on opioid crisis

first_imgHarvard and the University of Michigan have joined forces to combat the opioid crisis and are convening this month a summit of scholars, scientists, and practitioners to take a close look at the epidemic of drug use and overdose deaths that has swept the nation. Mary Bassett, director of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s François Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights and the François-Xavier Bagnoud Professor of the Practice of Health and Human Rights, got a close-up view of the epidemic as New York City’s health commissioner for four years. Bassett is the Harvard chair of the meeting, which examines stigma and access to treatment, on Oct. 10 at the Joseph B. Martin Conference Center on Harvard’s Longwood Campus in Boston. Bassett gave an update on the fight to combat overdose deaths nationally and a look ahead to the meeting.Q&AMary BassettGAZETTE: Where are we now with the opioid crisis? Have some states started bending the curve of overdose deaths downward?BASSETT: There is good news. Nationally, we have seen a modest decline, what I would describe as a flattening of the curve of overdose deaths. Overdose deaths in Massachusetts and Michigan are declining, but there are states where deaths are still rising. So, as a nation, we’re seeing fewer lives lost to the opioid crisis — and the data from 2019 look as if that’s been sustained — but there are states still struggling. Really, all of us are still struggling: Massachusetts, where deaths are declining, remains in the top 10 in terms of fatal overdose rates. This is not unusual in public health: We make progress, but there’s still a long way to go.GAZETTE: What are Massachusetts and Michigan doing that seems to be working that other states could learn from?BASSETT: The first thing was a prescription-monitoring program, which is an effort to modify the prescribing habits of doctors and other health workers who are allowed to prescribe. It requires doctors to look to see whether or not the patient they’re seeing has other opioid prescriptions. Then there is a direct educational effort to encourage clinicians to prescribe judiciously, to give lower doses for shorter durations. Michigan has pioneered a drug-give back program. One of the ways that people have access to prescription opioids is by “shopping the medicine cabinet” containing leftover pills from prior prescriptions. Both states have been energetic in reducing access to prescriptions. Conversations have come up recently on the other side of the problem, the fact that some providers are responding to the over-prescription of opioids by not prescribing them at all. We should be careful that the pendulum doesn’t swing too far. We don’t want to see patients abandoned or people who have been prescribed opioids and become dependent simply told, “Sorry, we’re no longer going to give them to you.” GAZETTE: We know overprescribing has been part of this epidemic. BASSETT: Absolutely, and it’s still the overarching problem. Compared to other wealthy nations, the U.S. is the absolute outlier in the number of opioids prescribed in this century. We’ve seen a quadrupling of prescriptions. This was encouraged by the pharmaceutical industry, which put out this idea in the mid-’90s that pain was the “fifth vital sign” and that no one should feel pain. GAZETTE: I think with all the coverage of the epidemic, it’s easy to think that all opioids are bad. What kind of pain and what kind of conditions are they still appropriate for?BASSETT: Opioids are appropriate for people in severe pain, like that of terminal cancer, for example. Instead, people have been given them for all kinds of pain. Those for whom a prescription is no longer appropriate need to be tapered off and should work out a program with their doctors, not be abruptly terminated. There are guidelines emerging that can help. My summit counterpart at the University of Michigan, Chad Brummett, has been very involved in drafting guidelines for the appropriate management of people who are on a high dose of opioids.GAZETTE: Why don’t we talk about the summit? Who is going to be there and is there a specific audience in mind? Or is the benefit expected to come from the participants networking?BASSETT: Like all epidemics, we need multiple disciplines in order to address it. There are people from multiple fields attending. In addition to public health and medicine, there will also be lawyers, policymakers, people with lived experience — the intention is to bring a multidisciplinary array of thinkers to the audience. It should include anyone concerned about a broader response to the overdose crisis and willing to engage in a wide-reaching conversation. Our focus is on stigma, which represents an often-underrecognized barrier to effective treatment. “The character of the response became much more sympathetic and much more accepting of the idea that people who have drug-use problems need help, not punishment.” Pharma-to-doc marketing a vulnerability in opioid fight GAZETTE: I noticed on the agenda for the summit is a conversation with a patient. Why is it important that someone who’s been through addiction and treatment address this summit?BASSETT: That’s one of the sessions as we begin the day. I think as we talk about all these facts and figures and show graphs on the whys of the overdose crisis, we should remember that real people have been affected. It’s important to remind ourselves that each one of those numbers is a human being, and that’s what I hope this conversation will do. Of course it takes a special clinician and a special patient to participate in this kind of conversation. It reflects the fact that people who use drugs are really part of the answer to this epidemic and shouldn’t need to hide. Nonetheless, it takes a certain amount of courage to step forward, and I’m very grateful to this individual. GAZETTE: Why is stigma important to look at in some depth here?BASSETT: Anyone who’s witnessed the current epidemic knows that the response changed when those who bore its burden shifted from largely poor members of communities of color to white, often middle-class, working people. The character of the response became much more sympathetic and much more accepting of the idea that people who have drug-use problems need help, not punishment. This is a good change, though it would have also been good during the heroin epidemic of the ’70s and ’80s, when the response was massively punitive. I think that stigma originates, partly, in how racialized our response to addiction has been. People who use drugs are characterized as irresponsible, just seeking to get high, as people who need to be monitored and punished for their problem drug use.So stigma is partly due to the history of drug use and the policy response in the United States. Part of it is also due to an enduring belief that people who use drugs have some kind of moral failure. This intensely individualistic society that we live in says everybody’s responsible for where they are. So people who use drugs often feel ashamed — their families are ashamed, too — and aren’t open about their drug use. Health-care workers find people with problem drug use disruptive to their practice, so they aren’t eager to offer treatment, which is also related to stigma. So stigma presents a huge barrier to timely access to effective treatment.GAZETTE: I see some panels will discuss stigma in different parts of the response, like law enforcement. How can stigma change the response to drug use and overdoses?BASSETT: Law enforcement has really been a particular example of change. Many senior members of police departments have said, “We can’t arrest our way out of this epidemic,” and that is true. They recognize that the people that they’re encountering need help, need to be directed to treatment, and don’t need to be in the criminal justice system. Many jurisdictions are experimenting, and we’ll hear about some pilot programs at the meeting that basically redirect people away from the criminal justice system. That is really forward thinking on the part of police departments, and I think we have a lot to learn from it. There are other programs where people get arrested and, if they get treatment, their cases won’t be pursued. I prefer to see people never enter the criminal justice system, but there’s no doubt law enforcement is working with public health in ways that they really haven’t before. GAZETTE: Medication-assisted treatment has been held up as an effective way to help people recover. Is there still resistance to it and is that related to stigma? BASSETT: The answer to both questions is yes. I just use the term “effective medical treatment” because when we talk about treatment for somebody with diabetes, we don’t call their insulin “medication-assisted treatment.” We have three drugs: methadone, which is highly stigmatized; buprenorphine, which is very underused; and naltrexone. The idea that a person who’s recovered from drug use should not be on medications to be completely “clean” is very, very strong. We need to dispel the idea that somebody who is on effective medical treatment is not in recovery. That person is in recovery: They have their life back; they can hold a job.We need to reduce the stigma associated with effective medical treatment. It’s pretty close to punishment to be on methadone and you have to go daily for your medication. Buprenorphine providers have to get special waivers. It’s less onerous than it once was, but they can write a prescription for the opioid that makes somebody dependent with nobody looking over their shoulder, but they have to get waivered to prescribe buprenorphine. These are policy questions that should be up for discussion: How do we make access to treatment less extraordinary and more ordinary, just like treating any other chronic disease?GAZETTE: The general thrust of these medicines is that they treat the craving without the high? So you can go and function, be a parent to your kids, and go to work?BASSETT: That’s correct. In New York City, we ran a campaign called “Living Proof,” which was a series of testimonials with real people talking about how they were living proof that treatment works. Media campaigns that help destigmatize treatment and show people on treatment, living their lives, are part of the answer to stigma. Yet this all-or-nothing approach may not be to patients’ advantage Proven opioid treatment faces roadblockscenter_img Harvard-Michigan summit on issue explores addiction, policy First-time opioid prescriptions drop by 50 percent Buprenorphine difficult to access, especially among patients with Medicaid coverage Relatedlast_img read more

Nieman Fellows announced for 2020-21

first_imgIn a period of unprecedented challenges for journalism, Harvard University’s Nieman Foundation has selected an innovative and distinguished group of journalists for its 2020-21 fellowship class and has created new visiting fellowships to address racial justice and public health.Nieman, a center for internationally recognized journalism fellowships, publications and programs, has selected 16 Nieman Fellows for its 83rd class, including investigative reporters, science journalists, editors, television and radio producers, a critic, a columnist and newsroom executives working across all media platforms.Due to Harvard campus restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the academic-year fellows will begin their fall studies online. The university and Nieman are preparing classes and programming that utilize Harvard’s vast academic and creative resources and take advantage of the interactive capabilities of distance learning.In addition, Nieman will offer remote visiting fellowships this coming year in support of projects that address racial justice and public health in the U.S., dual challenges underscored by the growing anti-racism movement and the global coronavirus pandemic.This special initiative, designed to complement our yearlong fellowship program, will offer targeted research opportunities and specialized training to individuals in the U.S. with innovative ideas to advance the representation of journalists of color throughout the news industry; improve coverage of underreported stories and communities; explain the impact of coronavirus on an area or group; or enhance reporting expertise and coverage of public health. Learn more about the visiting fellowship and view the rolling application, due by September 25.“The challenges for journalism are as consequential as ever, inspiring Nieman to recommit to its mission of fortifying journalists through its fellowships while also creating new opportunities to meet this moment,” said Nieman curator Ann Marie Lipinski. “This will be a historic year at Harvard and we look forward to working with these gifted journalists to redefine what education and fellowship can look like during a pandemic. We are also eager to offer new support for projects focused on fostering racial justice and public health, areas of deep concern for the nation and our industry. Journalism’s new challenges are opportunities for Nieman to help in new ways.”The Nieman Foundation has educated more than 1,600 journalists from 99 countries since 1938. In addition to taking classes during their time at Harvard, fellows participate in Nieman seminars, shop talks, workshops and master classes and conduct research with Harvard scholars and others in the Cambridge area.Nieman will host journalists Emily Corwin and Scott Dance as the 2021 Abrams Nieman Fellows for Local Investigative Journalism. After two semesters of study at Harvard, they will receive fieldwork support for a public service reporting project and participate in specialized journalism education. The fellowships are funded by a generous grant from the Abrams Foundationdesigned to strengthen local news coverage in underserved communities across the United States.Visit the website for the full list of fellows. Read Full Storylast_img read more