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The Charlie Archive documents a global response

first_imgHow does a library capture a global debate about freedom of the press? The attacks on the Paris headquarters of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket in January 2015 by Islamic extremists provoked a worldwide conversation through all forms of media. Harvard librarians are collecting and organizing a diverse array of visual and textual materials such as blogs, cartoons, tweets, banners, and graffiti that represent the multiple viewpoints articulated in the aftermath in a digital archive. The Charlie Archive at the Harvard Library will be open and available to all Harvard Library users in January 2016, and is soliciting submissions via its website.The Charlie Archive includes a diverse range of materials containing opinions on ethics and satire, religious intolerance, and the political and social role of the media expressed in different languages. More than 1,000 individual items have been collected so far from donors from all over the world. In addition to the donations, librarians in the Western Languages Division at Widener are actively identifying materials to be added to the collection, which is growing every day. Its formation represents an opportunity to preserve unique, ephemeral materials such as social media content and all other types of fleeting print and digital output that otherwise would not be saved for the future.The response from the people of France has been enthusiastic. Several articles published in well-known French media outlets have resulted in a flood of donations. “The French people are very happy that an American university, and Harvard in particular, is building an archive around the slogan ‘Je suis Charlie’/ ‘Je ne suis pas Charlie’ [translation from French: ‘I am Charlie’/ ‘I am not Charlie’],” said Lidia Uziel, head of the Western Languages Division at Widener Library. “They hope that the archive will contribute to a better understanding in North America of what Charlie Hebdo stood for and the significance of ‘press freedom’ in France.”last_img read more

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Medical hope on horizon

first_imgA tea bag–sized packet of insulin beta cells implanted in the arm eventually may replace the parade of pricks and daily insulin injections necessary to monitor and regulate blood sugar levels in a diabetic. That’s the vision that Douglas Melton, co-director of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI), shared with HUBweek attendees last week.At the event, the institute hosted the first “Horizons in Regenerative Medicine” series, three panel discussions showcasing how stem cells can provide new therapies, fresh ways to model disease, and new approaches to understanding fundamental biological processes such as aging.For the first panel, “A Quantum Leap in Diabetes,” Melton was joined by Gordon Weir and Peter Amenta of the Joslin Diabetes Center, a Harvard-affiliated treatment and research institution; Sayeed Malek of Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), also a Harvard affiliate; and Robert Millman of Semma Therapeutics. All of the panelists are working together in the Boston Autologous Islet Replacement Therapy (BAIRT) program, a collaborative between HSCI, those hospitals, and the biotech startup with the goal of finding a cure for diabetes.“We have a good plan for the next generation of treatments, which will eliminate the glucose level checks and injections of insulin, and instead make what we call ‘nature’s own solution’ to the problem,” said Melton, who is also Xander University Professor in Harvard’s Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology (HSCRB).Melton spent the past 10 years developing the recipe to turn stem cells into beta cells and recently received the Ogawa-Yamanaka Stem Cell Prize for his efforts.Now, using a process that was first described by Nobel Prize laureate Shinya Yamanaka in 2006, researchers can take a sample of blood cells from a diabetic and turn them into pluripotent stem cells. Thirty days after that, and a six-step process later, lab technicians can turn those stem cells into beta cells that can then be transplanted back into the same patient, offering healthy replacements for the diseased or dysfunctional cells. Because the cells are returning to the same body, the body’s immune system will not flag them as foreign and attack or destroy them.BAIRT is planning a clinical trial to test these stem cell–derived beta cells in patients who have had their pancreas removed.In addition to creating therapeutic solutions, stem cells also offer a new paradigm for understanding diseases and for discovering and testing drug therapies.Advances allow for unique disease modelsFor decades, understanding how diseases work was limited to data gathered by studying biopsied tissues removed from patients or, for those diseases that affect tissues that cannot be removed, from mouse and other animal models.However, as panelists in the second “Horizons in Regenerative Medicine” discussion pointed out, although mouse models are useful for determining a starting point in understanding disease mechanisms, they have proven ineffective for studying diseases of the brain.Separated from humans by 90 million years of evolution, mice are fundamentally different both genetically and behaviorally. Unlike humans, mice are nocturnal, their dominant sense is olfactory, and they have very different social behaviors and cognitive abilities.Mice, for example, don’t naturally develop Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease, and as a result there is no way to verify whether a mouse model actually represents a given disease or condition.“What would a schizophrenic mouse look like, and how would we know it has schizophrenia?” asked panelist Steve Hyman, director of the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, HSCI principal faculty member, and Harvard Distinguished Service Professor in HSCRB. “Are they hearing squeaks?”Instead, researchers can use stem cell science to create diseased human cells in a petri dish and then compare those cells to healthy human cells.“We are at the beginning of a very exciting time that is going to change the way in which we investigate these disorders,” Hyman said.The three panelists, who included HSCI principal faculty members Kevin Eggan of Harvard and the Broad Institute and Adam Cohen of Harvard, were careful not to overhype or overpromise the current state of the field. Stem cell technology is, as Eggan cautioned, still “in its infancy.”Neurons created from stem cells more closely resemble neurons from a newborn in that they have not experienced a lifetime of wear and tear like the neurons of patients with late-onset neurodegenerative disorders, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson’s disease, and Huntington’s disease.That said, disease modeling in a dish has become more advanced, allowing for more sophisticated models of more sophisticated diseases, said the panel. For example, Paola Arlotta and Lee Rubin of Harvard are creating multiple types of neurons in a single dish and letting them self-assemble into complete circuits, or mini-brains. Such mini-organs, or organoids, more closely reflect the complexity of the vast and interconnected neuronal networks in the brain.Each person has about 86 billion neurons in the brain; these neurons are each connected to about 10,000 other neurons. Because of this, diseases in the brain affect not a single cell type but an entire circuit, and organoids enable the study of networks of cells, circuits, and electrical communication.But how to collect data on these circuits is a challenge.“We can’t see the electricity in a cell any more than we can see the electricity in this wire,” said Cohen, pointing to a wire on stage. “If researchers can’t measure the electricity of the neurons, they will have difficulty finding drugs that restore normal firing patterns.”To overcome this obstacle, Cohen developed a device that uses light-sensitive proteins to stimulate and record electrical energy in a single cell and in networks of cells.Using this tool, Eggan and colleague Clifford Woolf measured the activity of ALS-diseased motor neurons. ALS is a neurodegenerative disease that attacks the circuit that sends electrical impulses from the brain, down long motor neurons extending out into the limbs, and into the muscle tissue.Eggan and Woolf found that the diseased motor neurons are hyperexcitable, meaning they fire more often than healthy neurons. Because they are more active, the diseased motor neurons wear out more quickly and expire, severing the line of communication between the brain and the muscles. This leaves patients without the ability to talk, walk, and breathe as the disease progresses, and eventually leads to paralysis and death.The scientists used the ALS-affected motor neurons to test for compounds that calm the hyperexcitability and found that an FDA-approved drug called retigabine may be a potential therapeutic. The team, in collaboration with the ALS Association and GlaxoSmithKline, has begun recruiting patients for a clinical trial to test the effects of retigabine on ALS patients.As part of the trial, Eggan and his colleagues will make motor neurons from the enrolled patients and test the effects of retigabine on the cells to see if the patient’s neurons made in a dish react the same way as the patient’s neurons in the body. If so, the trial will confirm that these cells could be used to predict how individual patients respond to specific drugs.Studying age-related diseasesAnother approach to determining how to restore normal cellular function is to study cells in an environment where they naturally stop working. Amy Wagers and Richard Lee, both HSCI principal faculty and HSCRB professors, search for factors in multiple body systems that impede repair and regeneration as people age. In pinpointing these factors, they may be able to “turn back the clock” on those cells so that people can remain mobile and healthy throughout life. Increasing health span, not life span, is their mantra.“The field of aging research isn’t about the fountain of youth,” explained William Mair, assistant professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “That’s not the reason we do this research. It’s really because public health enabled us to live a long time in the last 100 years, and what it’s given us is an extended period of time to live in an unhealthy state. And the challenge is to find ways to make those extra years healthy ones.”Wagers, Lee, and Mair were joined by Paola Sabatini of Boston University and HSCI principal faculty member Tracy Young-Pearse of BWH for “Ageless Aging,” the third panel discussion of the Hubweek series. They discussed how the field of regenerative medicine was informing approaches to research involving the aging process.One way to do that is to tackle age-related diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease. As Alzheimer’s progresses and more neurons in the brain die, those affected suffer from memory loss and a decline in their cognitive abilities.“If doctors have to wait until these symptoms have presented, the neurons have already died, and it will be difficult to regain function,” said Young-Pearse, whose lab seeks to understand the underlying mechanisms of Alzheimer’s and identify new therapeutic interventions.Before the neurons die, amyloid beta plaques and tau protein tangles build up in the brain. Young-Pearse’s lab is working with Biogen on a new trial to test an antibody that targets amyloid beta protein.Rather than studying the process that goes wrong during aging, Sabatini looks at what is working in the body. Bridging scientific disciplines, she compares centenarians’ genetic, behavioral, and medical histories to understand the perfect storm of conditions that has allowed them to live long and healthy lives.The greater Boston biomedical ecosystem sits as a backdrop not just for Sabatini but for the many scientific collaborations and therapeutic advancements presented during the “Horizons of Regenerative Medicine” series and other HUBweek events.“One of the fantastic things about living in Boston is that we are probably the world’s epicenter, if not the world’s best place, to do biomedicine,” said Melton, who gives credit to the caliber of research institutes, hospitals, biotech startup companies, and pharmaceutical companies in the area.In reference to the movement of his research from the lab to the clinic, Melton said, “Frankly, this would not have been possible if this work had been started somewhere else.”last_img read more

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Harvard Kennedy School announces 2017 Neustadt and Schelling Awards winners

first_imgAn eminent nuclear physicist and a pair of renowned social scientists from the University of Pennsylvania are recipients of the Harvard Kennedy School 2017 Richard E. Neustadt and Thomas C. Schelling Awards. The awards will be presented April 6 during a ceremony in Cambridge hosted by Harvard Kennedy School Dean Douglas Elmendorf.Ernest Moniz, formerly the U.S. Secretary of Energy and currently a fellow at HKS’ Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, will receive the Richard E. Neustadt Award. The award is bestowed annually to honor individuals who have created exceptional solutions to significant problems in public policy. Past recipients include Navanethem (Navi) Pillay in 2016, former Irish President Mary Robinson in 2015, former U.S. Senators Richard Lugar (R-IN) and Sam Nunn (D-GA) in 2013, William “Bill” Drayton in 2012, Paul Volcker in 2011, Alice Rivlin in 2009, Gro Harlem Brundtland in 2008, and Muhammad Yunus in 2006.Barbara Mellers, the George I. Heyman University Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, and Philip Tetlock, the Annenberg University Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, will be presented with the Thomas C. Schelling Award, bestowed annually to individuals whose remarkable intellectual work has had a transformative impact on public policy. Past recipients include Stanley Fischer in 2016, William Nordhaus in 2015, Sara McLanahan in 2013, Amartya Sen in 2012, Esther Duflo in 2011, Harold Varmus in 2009, Daniel Kahneman in 2006, and Richard Posner in 2005.last_img read more

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Light years ahead

first_imgAuthor of “Longitude” and “Galileo’s Daughter,” Dava Sobel in her latest book tells the story of the female “computers” who worked at the Harvard College Observatory from the late 19th through the mid-20th century analyzing stellar data captured on a growing collection of photographic plates. Using complicated calculations, the women classified the stars, determined their brightness, and even discovered new stars, nebulae, and novae. Many of their findings led to important discoveries about the universe, and their work helped clear obstacles for women in science. The Gazette spoke with Sobel about her book,  “The Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of the Stars.”GAZETTE: How did you first hear of this story?SOBEL: I was interviewing astronomer Wendy Freedman more than 20 years ago as she was working on a Hubble telescope key project involving the expansion rate of the universe. She mentioned the work of Henrietta Swan Leavitt as being fundamental to her work in the present. I had never heard of Leavitt. When I looked into her work I found out that Leavitt had been working with literally a room full of women at Harvard, which was a big surprise because Harvard in the 1890s was not really a place one thinks of as being especially welcoming to women. But the observatory was a separate institution with its own director and its own financial responsibility. It already had a history of women working there. That struck me as powerfully interesting, as well as the notion that the work these women were doing was really important.GAZETTE: How did the photographic plates collection at the Harvard College Observatory factor into the work the women were doing?SOBEL: The glass plates were central to their efforts. In the 1800s the Harvard observatory began photographing the skies, in particular stars and their spectral characteristics, using a technique that captured the images on glass plates. Photographing the stars’ spectra didn’t become possible until the very late 1870s thanks to the efforts of amateur astronomer and American scientist Henry Draper. His sudden death led Draper’s wife to give Harvard her personal fortune to carry on her husband’s work. Her support gave the observatory’s director, Edward Charles Pickering, a lot of money to do the work and to hire women to look at these photographs. That’s what made the Harvard group of women more like astronomers than computers: They had these photographic plates from which they then made genuine discoveries.Glass plate A3393, taken with the 24-inch Bruce Telescope in Arequipa, Peru, in a 180-minute exposure on Nov. 10, 1898, shows the Small Magellanic Cloud, a companion galaxy to our own. Jon Chase/Harvard Staff PhotographerGAZETTE: Can you describe their work?SOBEL: A number of them were working on establishing a classification system for the stars — a taxonomy of stars, just the way animals and plants are classified as a way to get a grip on the natural world’s range of diversity. They had been given freedom in that assignment: “Here is the problem, you solve it.” Leavitt in particular was looking to make discoveries of variable stars and in the course of doing that she noticed a relationship between the brightness of a particular kind of variable star and the length of time it took to cycle through its variation — go from brightest point to dimmest point and back to brightest again. That observation remains the basis of the distance scale that was first used to figure out the distance to the very stars she was looking at, then to determine the size of the Milky Way. Eventually American astronomer Edwin P. Hubble used Leavitt’s stars to show that the Milky Way was not the sum total of the universe, that there were other galaxies beyond the Milky Way.GAZETTE: So her work really helped establish some fundamental understandings of the universe?SOBEL: Absolutely. Just a few years later Hubble showed that the Andromeda galaxy was a separate galaxy. And then he showed that of these distant galaxies, the ones that seemed to be the farthest away from us were receding from us at the greatest rates. And that too depended on Leavitt’s discovery. Her work had tremendous reach and it’s still used now.GAZETTE: Did she get the credit at the time?SOBEL: She absolutely did. Pickering wrote an announcement in an observatory circular that reached a much wider audience than just the observatory community. So he gave her credit there; that was 1908. In 1912 she published the work herself in the annals of the observatory, which was the official publication. So she got her own credit for making that discovery and in fact now many astronomers have started talking about her discovery, which for years was called the period-luminosity relation, as the Leavitt Law.GAZETTE: Can you describe the observatory’s relationship with Radcliffe and why it was so important?SOBEL: The Radcliffe students got instruction from some of the astronomers at the observatory. The students were also recruited to work there. Some of the most prominent, productive women on the observatory staff over a period of many years — Margaret Harwood, Henrietta Leavitt, and Arville Walker — were all Radcliffe alumnae.Author Dava Sobel. Photo by Mia BergGAZETTE: You mentioned Mrs. Draper. What I found equally fascinating — in addition to the women computers doing the work and making these important discoveries — was the story of the women who financed their efforts.SOBEL: Another thing that made this story so stunning to me was that not only were women doing the work, the money supporting them was coming from interested women. Mrs. Draper had been her husband’s assistant/partner. He trained her and she was really knowledgeable. She was determined just out of love to see his work done after he died. And she was independently wealthy, so she made that possible. She carried on a correspondence with Pickering for about 30 years while the work was going on. And you can see how much she understood. They have a technical discussion in their letters in addition to their ongoing friendship and general enthusiasm for the work. The other deep donor to the project was Catherine Wolf Bruce, who really didn’t have the sophisticated knowledge of astronomy that Mrs. Draper had, but she was sincerely interested and generous and gave money to build the big telescope for Harvard’s satellite observatory in the southern hemisphere. She also wanted to have Pickering help her identify astronomers all over the world whom she might help, which was an amazing concept and it was very much to Pickering’s liking as well. He had a generous spirit, gave a lot of his own money to the observatory, and helped Bruce set up that fund and reached out to astronomers encouraging them to apply for grants and aid from her. Then he read through all these proposals and advised her as to which ones were worthy.GAZETTE: Do you have a favorite character from the book?SOBEL: It’s easy to fall in love with Annie Jump Cannon. And like many people before me, that has happened. She is just so available because of her diaries. Here’s somebody who’s a lifelong diarist and her diaries are all there in the archives.Miss Cannon said she did not mind climbing up and down ladders to operate the 13-inch Boyden telescope and take her own plates of the southern stars. Courtesy of the Harvard University ArchivesGAZETTE: Can you describe her work?SOBEL: She perfected the Draper classification. Cannon inherited a system started by Williamina Fleming, who assigned letters of the alphabet to the various categories of stellar spectra. Cannon had to reorder the alphabet because of her own sense of the significance of the different spectral patterns. She dropped some letters and she put O at the beginning, so we come up with this O B A F G K M order of the stars which, if you take Astronomy 101, you will learn even now. She was so adept at classification she would get photographic plates that would have hundreds of those spectra on them, teeny little smudges, and she would be able to look at them and in seconds classify what group each star belonged to. She did hundreds of thousands of stars accurately and quickly and that made her world famous in her own lifetime. As they all were.GAZETTE: It struck me that she really devoted her life to this work.SOBEL: That’s another stunning feature here, the longevity in the job of most of these women. They did not leave. Some of them were there for 50 years.GAZETTE: What do you hope people reading your book will take away?SOBEL: I hope people get a true story about science in an age of alternative facts and terrifying anti-science sentiment in this political climate.last_img read more

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Butterfly wings inspire air-purification improvements

first_imgIllnesses caused by air pollution are the third-leading cause of death in developing nations, and more than 5 million people worldwide die every year from air pollution exposure. Catalytic converters, the most widely used air-purification devices, convert the toxic gases and pollutants produced by fuel combustion into benign chemicals before the exhaust is released into the atmosphere. However, catalytic converters are very expensive because the catalysts required for the cleaning reactions are precious metals, which account for 70 to 90 percent of the cost of manufacturing the converters. Additionally, they are inefficient, because the precious metal particles are embedded randomly in the catalytic coating and, therefore, some never come into contact with the pollutants they’re meant to clean.Researchers at the Wyss Institute and Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) are developing a new type of catalytic coating that is inspired by the honeycomb-like nanostructure of a butterfly’s wing. This underlying structure creates channels through which air can flow unimpeded, and the precise placement of catalysts on the structure maximizes the efficiency of the catalysis reactions while decreasing the amount of precious metals needed by approximately 80 percent. These coatings can be easily integrated into the existing $20 billion catalytic converter industry, and their lower cost could extend the market for catalytic converters to home use in lower-income countries.,This work was supported by the National Science Foundation Designing Materials to Revolutionize and Engineer our Future program, the Integrated Mesoscale Architectures for Sustainable Catalysis, and an Energy Frontier Research Center funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Basic Energy Sciences.To read the full story, visit the Wyss Institute website.last_img read more

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Gina McCarthy questions proposed car emission rollbacks

first_imgA U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plan to undo an Obama-era rule requiring vehicles to average 54.5 miles per gallon (mpg) by 2025, announced April 2 by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, will harm air quality and public health, according to Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Gina McCarthy.McCarthy, who served as EPA Administrator from 2013–17 under President Barack Obama and who is now director of Harvard Chan School’s Center for Health and the Global Environment, was quoted about Pruitt’s plan in several media outlets. “This is really all about continued work by this administration to undermine or roll back everything the Obama Administration did or considered,” she said on the WBUR show “Radio Boston” on April 3, 2018. She said that there is nothing about rolling back the emissions standards “that is actually going to be beneficial to public health, beneficial to our actions to address climate change, or beneficial to the industry itself.”McCarthy was also interviewed on CNN’s “New Day” on April 6 and on MSNBC’s “Kasie DC” on April 8 regarding the leadership direction at the EPA. Speaking about current EPA chief Scott Pruitt on MSNBC, McCarthy said, “You have an administrator who isn’t focused on the mission of the agency, who is solely looking at costs to industry rather than public health and lives saved.”Listen to WBUR’s “Radio Boston” interview: Former EPA Administrator Says Rollback Of Emissions Standards is ‘Heartbreaking’Watch CNN’s “New Day” interview: How Scott Pruitt is reshaping the EPAWatch MSNBC’s “Kasie DC” interview: Former EPA head McCarthy: Pruitt ‘hiding in his office’Read a Huffington Post article: EPA To Gut The Only Major Federal Rule To Cut Climate Pollution From Vehicles Read Full Storylast_img read more

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Merkel named Harvard Commencement speaker

first_img The Daily Gazette Sign up for daily emails to get the latest Harvard news. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, one of the world’s most influential leaders since ascending to her country’s highest office in 2005, will be the principal speaker at the Afternoon Program of Harvard’s 368th Commencement on May 30.“Angela Merkel is one of the most widely admired and broadly influential statespeople of our time,” said Harvard President Larry Bacow. “Over her four terms as Germany’s chancellor, her leadership has done much to shape the course not only of her nation, but also of Europe and the larger world. She continues to play a central role in confronting some of the great challenges of our era, and I very much look forward to welcoming her to Harvard next May and to hearing what is sure to be a memorable address.”Born in Hamburg, West Germany, in 1954 to a Protestant pastor and a Latin and English teacher, Merkel (née Kasner) and her family moved to the small East German town of Templin when she was 3. In 1978, she graduated from the University of Leipzig with a degree in physics and physical chemistry, and in 1986 she obtained her doctorate in quantum chemistry from the German Academy of Sciences. Early in her career, Merkel worked as a chemist at the Central Institute for Physical Chemistry at the Academy of Sciences in Berlin, where she was one of only a few female researchers.In 1989, inspired by the Peaceful Revolution, which led to the fall of the Berlin Wall, Merkel joined the political movement and political party Demokratischer Aufbruch (Democratic Awakening), which later merged into the political party the Christian Democratic Union (CDU). “Angela Merkel is one of our era’s most globally respected leaders, a statesperson of formidable intellect, commitment, empathy, and principle.” — Margaret Wang, president of the Harvard Alumni Association Since 1990, she has been a member of the German parliament, the Bundestag, assuming a series of leadership roles for the CDU and also serving stints as Federal Minister for Women and Youth and Federal Minister for the Environment. In 1998, Merkel was elected secretary-general of her party, a position that would ultimately pave the way for her election as Germany’s first-ever female chancellor, in 2005. She is also the first East German to hold the office.Often referred to as the “de facto leader of Europe,” Merkel is the longest-serving head of government in the European Union and the most senior leader within the G7 group of nations, having been elected to her fourth four-year term as chancellor in 2017. Earlier this fall she announced that this would be her last term in office.Throughout her tenure Merkel has been a staunch proponent of the EU and has done much to steer its course. She is credited with leading her nation’s robust economic recovery following the recession of 2008, and with shepherding negotiations between Greece and its fellow EU member states in order to preserve the Eurozone. Her tenure in office has also been characterized by advocacy for environmental sustainability and green energy, by leadership in the international response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and by continuing efforts to address contentious issues of migration in the wake of the refugee crisis fueled by conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan, and beyond.,Merkel’s many honors include the Charlemagne Prize for “work done in the service of European unification,” and the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom, awarded to her by President Barack Obama in 2011. She was Time magazine’s Person of the Year in 2015 and has repeatedly topped the Forbes magazine list of the world’s most powerful women.“Angela Merkel is one of our era’s most globally respected leaders, a statesperson of formidable intellect, commitment, empathy, and principle,” said Margaret Wang ’09, president of the Harvard Alumni Association. “As a defender of democracy and human dignity who has stood by her beliefs and worked to promote stability and peace, she will engage our graduating students, our alumni, and our entire community. I am thrilled she will join us at this year’s Commencement and look forward to her address during this time when we seek inspiration from our global leaders.”Past Commencement speakers have included U.S. Rep. John Lewis, who gave last year’s address; former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright; entrepreneur and talk show host Oprah Winfrey; former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg; and author J.K. Rowling. Three German chancellors have delivered the address: Helmut Kohl, in 1990; Helmut Schmidt, in 1979; and Konrad Adenauer, in 1955. German President Richard von Weizsäcker was the speaker in 1987.As principal speaker at the Afternoon Program, Merkel will address the annual meeting of the Harvard Alumni Association, held in Harvard Yard’s Tercentenary Theatre between Widener Library and the Memorial Church. She will also be awarded an honorary degree.For a full schedule of Commencement Week events, visit the Commencement Office website.last_img read more

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The power of positive phrasing

first_imgThe researchers acknowledge that they did not have a way to compare the scientific merits of each publication relative to others and determine whether the linguistic framing was justified in this large set of articles, or to determine how much the difference in language might be determined by journal editors rather than the papers’ authors. However, the trend was patently clear — the findings of studies led by men were clearly framed as more important than those led by women.So what can be done to alleviate any possible effects of such linguistic disparities?The first step is building a body of evidence and increasing awareness of differences wherever they exist, the researchers said.“It’s useful for men and women to be aware that these language differences exist, and that they may impact how research is perceived,” Lerchenmüller said.The researchers acknowledged that gender imbalance in biomedical research and academic medicine has many causes, which means that increasing equity will require many approaches across many fronts, including education, mentoring, and publishing.The scientific and medical communities will need to work together to find ways to close these persistent gender gaps, the researchers said. For example, mentors should help women be thoughtful about using all available tools to position and promote research in a way that the research deserves, so it gets read, shared, and used. Journal editors should be aware that these differences exist and should have objective protocols in place to make sure that researchers use the same language to describe similar research results.“As a society, we want the best work to rise to the top on its own merits — how it helps us understand and improve health — not based on the gender of the researchers or on the researchers’ own opinion about whether their work is groundbreaking,” Jena said.Jena has received consulting fees unrelated to this work from Pfizer, Hillrom Services, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Novartis, Amgen, Eli Lilly, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, AstraZeneca, Celgene, Tesaro, Sanofi-Aventis, Biogen, Precision Health Economics, and Analysis Group. Lerchenmüller is a co-founder and shareholder of AaviGen GmbH.Olav Sorenson of Yale University was co-author on the study.Support was provided by the Office of the Director, NIH (1DP5OD017897) to Jena, from the German Research Foundation (DFG grant LE 3426/1-2) to Lerchenmüller, and from Yale University’s Initiative on Leadership and Organization to Lerchenmüller and Sorensen. Who’s that girl? Research suggests men’s ability to recognize famous females depends on their country’s degree of gender equity Perception is reality, the adage goes, and that may even be true when it comes to conveying the findings of medical and life-science research.The language male and female scientists choose to describe their discoveries can drive levels of attention from peers, boost subsequent citations, and eventually contribute to career advancement.These are the findings of an analysis led by an international team of researchers in the Blavatnik Institute at Harvard Medical School, the University of Mannheim, and Yale University, and published today in BMJ. It is believed to be the first large-scale study to quantify gender differences in language framing in biomedical research.The researchers analyzed more than 6 million peer-reviewed clinical and life-science publications and found that papers with male lead authors were up to 21 percent more likely to use positive framing — language that casts the findings as highly significant — in titles and abstracts than those with female lead authors.The study, which used natural language processing to parse the papers’ language, found that the titles and abstracts of research led by men were likelier to use words such as “excellent,” “novel,” and “unique” than papers led by women. The research also showed that studies using such framing had up to 13 percent more citations by other researchers than papers without the positive spin.Despite increasing equity in the numbers of men and women doing research in medicine and science, the study authors noted that women remain underrepresented on faculties of medicine and the life sciences. Women also earn lower salaries, receive fewer research grants, and garner fewer citations than their male colleagues. While many systemic, social, and cultural factors affect this, including conscious, unconscious, and structural biases, another contributor to these persistent gender gaps may be differences in the extent to which women promote their research accomplishments relative to men, the authors said. “One theory you hear to explain this is that maybe men promote themselves more, at least in part, because it is deemed more socially acceptable for them to engage in such behavior.” — Marc Lerchenmüller, lead author In part, conference examines parental leave, and how U.S. and Europe compare Related Guideposts toward gender equality “The factors that underlie gender disparities in academia are many and complex, but it is important to be aware that language may also play a role — as both a driver of inequality and as a symptom of gender differences in socialization,” said senior author Anupam Jena, the Ruth L. Newhouse Associate Professor of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School.Longstanding sociological studies and observations suggest that, in general, men promote themselves more strongly in all lines of work, the researchers said.“One theory you hear to explain this is that maybe men promote themselves more, at least in part, because it is deemed more socially acceptable for them to engage in such behavior,” said lead author Marc Lerchenmüller, assistant professor for technological innovation and management science at the University of Mannheim in Germany. “But we wanted to quantify the magnitude of this effect in biomedical research and measure objective differences in the way research done by men and women is presented in scholarly journals.”To account for any potential changes in editorial practices over the years or between journals, the researchers compared papers from the same publication and from the same year with one another. To control for differences in types of research, the team compared only publications that investigated topics of similar novelty (determined from the keywords assigned to the articles), such as randomized controlled trials in cancer.The researchers analyzed 101,720 studies published between 2002 and 2017 in clinical journals indexed in PubMed, as well as more than 6.2 million general life-science studies. They determined the probable gender of the authors of these studies using the database Genderize. Articles in which the first and last authors were both female were, on average, 12.3 percent less likely to use positive terms to describe research findings compared with studies in which either the first or last author was male. The gender difference in positive presentation was greatest in high-impact clinical journals — those whose studies are most heavily cited — with women 21.4 percent less likely to present research positively.The research also showed that the use of positive words had a significant impact on how the research was perceived by readers. This type of framing was, on average, associated with 9.4 percent more subsequent citations. The effect was even more pronounced in high-impact clinical journals, where papers with promotional titles and abstracts had 13 percent more citations. “The factors that underlie gender disparities in academia are many and complex, but it is important to be aware that language may also play a role — as both a driver of inequality and as a symptom of gender differences in socialization.” — Anupam Jena, senior author The Daily Gazette Sign up for daily emails to get the latest Harvard news.last_img read more

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Advanced Leadership Initiative welcomes largest group of fellows

first_imgHarvard University’s Advanced Leadership Initiative (ALI) announced the selection of its 2020 cohort, including 53 fellows and 10 partners, who will take part in ALI’s intensive, multi-disciplinary program during the coming year. Meredith B. Rosenthal, ALI Faculty Chair and C. Boyden Gray Professor of Health Economics and Policy at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, highlighted that this was the program’s greatest number of fellows to date.ALI aims to deploy a new force of experienced leaders to help address society’s most pressing challenges. Through its fellowship program, the initiative provides a unique combination of education, skill-building, and collaboration opportunities to a global community of leaders, enabling sustainable social impact at scale.Each year, ALI welcomes a group of fellows to Harvard to spend a year learning, engaging with the resources of the university, and developing a social impact strategy to drive progress on a specific challenge. Past fellows have gone on to address a wide array of issues in fields as diverse as health, education, environmental sustainability, humanitarian relief, financial inclusion, and human rights issues.ALI Fellows have at least 20 years of leadership experience, a track record of innovation, and are motivated to take on some of the biggest problems facing communities around the world.This year’s cohort welcomes 23 female fellows, the greatest number to date. The group hails from 16 countries on six continents, bringing diverse professional leadership experiences in law, medicine, technology, finance, manufacturing, government, social enterprise, and the military.The group also has the largest number of public and social sector leaders in ALI’s history, with nearly a quarter of the cohort having spent the majority of their careers working in public service. The remainder of the group have significant volunteer experience working with public and social sector organizations.“Above all, this group stands out for its clear commitment to service,” said Rosenthal. “We are excited to welcome a group as diverse and dedicated as the 2020 ALI Fellows and Partners to campus in January.”This year also marks the first for seven new members of ALI’s faculty board. New faculty board members include Anne Becker of Harvard Medical School, Hannah Riley Bowles and Cornell Brooks of Harvard Kennedy School, Andrew Crespo of Harvard Law School, Eric Mazur of Harvard’s John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Charles Stang of Harvard Divinity School, and Brian Trelstad of Harvard Business School.“We hope to establish ALI as a hub for social impact at the university,” Rosenthal said. “These faculty bring not only tremendous knowledge and expertise about social impact, but also the opportunity to deepen collaboration with schools across Harvard and broaden our collective impact.”View the complete listing of ALI’s 2020 Cohort at its website.last_img read more

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Leaping ahead

first_imgOur recent Unleash Simplicity event was broadcast live to over 4,000 participants, and attended by customers, partners and executives in San Jose.  It was the largest product launch in VCE’s history, as we introduced a new wave of innovation and extended the value of converged infrastructure to new markets, operations, and industry-leading software applications.Our announcements represent a significant leap forward for VCE and for our customers and partners. Our Vblock Specialized Systems – starting with fully installed SAP HANA® software – bring pre-installed applications to our customers with speed and simplicity. VCE Vision Intelligent Operations is another major step as we evolve and advance the state of IT from converged infrastructure to converged operations, simplifying the management of data centers. The Vblock System 100 and 200 are VCE’s first moves outside of the core data center into remote office, branch office and the mid-market. Finally, the Vblock System 320 and Vblock System 720 represent significant steps forward for our flagship and Vblock System 300 and 700 families.It’s a huge infusion of exciting new hardware and software for our customers and partners.  But it’s also a major leap forward for the VCE brand.  The milestones that we announced, followed by the wave of innovation and the industry recognition that came with it are all further proof that VCE is stronger than ever.  We’re the fastest growing company in one of the fastest growing parts of the IT industry.  Our brand has become one that’s associated with innovation, forward thinking and customer value.  We’re bringing the next generation data center to customers today – and we’re working closely with our partners to make it happen.We were fortunate to have a number of our key customers attend the event live in Cisco Studios, and several of them commented that VCE’s announcements were closely aligned with their wish list for new offerings and they appreciated that we were always listening to them.It was great feedback to hear.  And now, we begin to answer the question that was on everyone’s mind as the event wrapped up: “what’s next?”For VCE, next is going to be about . . . more.  More innovation and execution on our vision.  Working closely with partners to bring more value to customers.  Building our brand so more customers understand the speed and simplicity that converged infrastructure can bring to their business.The past three years have been a major leap forward for VCE and for customers. There is much more to come.last_img read more

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