Kristen Calandrelli ’10, explored her longstanding interest in foreign policy and international relations while working with the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs at the American Embassy in Copenhagen, Denmark. James McFadden ’10, created a body of first-hand primary source accounts of human rights progress and violations as a field communications reporter with EG Justice in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. Katherine Huang ’11 learned about investment research processes and asset management from a global perspective with Bank of Communications Schroders Fund Management in Shanghai, China while Oscar Basantes ’10 evaluated investment portfolios and analyzed financial markets and risk management at the Banco Cofiec in Quito, Ecuador. These are just a few of the internships in a variety of fields that 48 Harvard College Weissman interns explored in a variety of fields this summer, supported by the Weissman International Internship Program. Administered by the Office of Career Services, the program was established in 1994 by Paul ’52 and Harriet Weissman to help foster the development of Harvard College students’ understanding of the global community in which they live and work. Since its inception, the Weissman Program has enabled more than 350 students to work in fields ranging from public service to business, from science to arts administration.In their final reports, the 2009 Weissman interns related the joys and challenges of living and working in another culture, negotiating new environments, working with a supervisor, and using foreign language skills in daily life. Aditya Balasubramanian ’12, who analyzed financial statements, drafted funding proposals, and helped redesign a grassroots microcredit institution’s Web site in Resistencia, Argentina, detailed a process of self-discovery and unpredictability that has given him a new approach to life. After spending the summer at a nonprofit educational development agency in Dublin, Katherine Gunn ’11 related a fresh career direction and a sense of personal growth, thanks to the welcoming atmosphere in Ireland. Eric Dong ’11 expressed a greater interest in macroeconomics and an appreciation for the survival skills he learned in contrasting cities after spending the summer working with UBS-SDIC and Blackrock-Bank of China Funds in Shenzhen and Shanghai, China. Tannis Thorlakson ’11, who worked with Grassroot Soccer in Cape Town, South Africa, planned events that combined youth soccer tournaments or camps with HIV testing, counseling, and education. She is now considering a future in the environment, health, and international development areas.The Weissman Program was designed for returning undergraduates to ensure that students enrich the Harvard community and, in turn, have their remaining undergraduate time enhanced by their global experiences. Each fall, the recent Weissman interns are welcomed back at an annual luncheon held at the Harvard Faculty Club. On Oct. 22, interns spoke with Paul and Harriet Weissman, Associate Dean Jay Ellison, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Bill Fitzsimmons, and others of insights gained, perspectives shifted, and worldviews broadened.For more information about the Weissman International Internship Program, please visit the Office of Career Services Web site.
Last summer I met Tom, a bright-eyed and talkative 12-year-old who had an opinion about simply everything. He loved Michael Jackson and would frequently hijack my laptop to watch his music videos, singing along and enraptured with M.J.’s performance. Our communication was a mixture of simple Mandarin and flailing hand gestures and charades, since he did not speak English, and my Mandarin was limited. Throughout the summer, though, we were able to learn from one another (my Mandarin improved, and he picked up English idioms, his favorite being “bird brain”). Tom was a “regular” energetic boy. Unlike most, though, he was growing up in an orphanage.As a freshman, I became involved with Harvard China Care, a student group that works to improve the lives of Chinese orphans one child at a time. After working toward this mission domestically for a year through fundraising, I had the opportunity to go to one of the orphanages and actually interact with the children I was trying to help.I spent two months living and working at an orphanage in Luoyang, China. I arrived with only a year’s training in Mandarin under my belt, unsure of what to expect. I had never traveled alone before, and I did not even particularly like playing with kids. Accordingly, I was shocked at how easy it was to connect with the children, and how quickly I found myself growing attached to them.My stay at the orphanage was a string of moments that reaffirmed my commitment to helping these children, all of whom had distinct personalities. Some were spunky, others were more reserved; some were athletic, others more intellectual; some were mischievous, others conscientious.I was pleasantly surprised to find that most of the children were hopeful about their futures. One little boy wrote to us, “My name is Shanghua, and my greatest wish is for a kind, loving American family to adopt me.”While most of the children looked forward to bright futures, others realized they might not be as fortunate. Many of them were abandoned because of disabilities and health problems. Jane, who was in her late teenage years and had only one arm, read me a story she wrote about a sheepdog that took a herd of sheep out to pasture. When one of them fell into a ditch, the dog left it because the dog had to take care of all the other sheep. But later when he fell into a hole and the sheep helped save him, he realized that every life is important. Jane told me she came up with this story after she saw two men abandon a baby at the orphanage.In spite of solemn moments like this one, at the end of the day the children were still just children. Jane would ask for advice about what to say to a boy she had a crush on. Tom, always vigilant against mushy moments, would cover his eyes during love scenes of movies. Although the children are orphans, that is not all they are, and most of them did not let that label define their identities.There is one moment I always find myself reflecting upon. During a typical hot and muggy day at the orphanage, a girl named Susan saw my laptop and asked if we could use it together. I ended up acting as a translator while she sat on my lap and video-chatted with one of my friends. Eventually, she lost interest in talking to my friend and refocused her attention on me. She turned to me and said, “Wo ai ni” (“I love you”), and kissed me on the cheek. Not a minute later, she turned back to the laptop and told my friend that he was handsome but looked like a monkey.Moments like these, however brief, are what have stayed with me. They remind me that my actions can have an impact, however small it may ultimately prove. Having glimpsed the interplay between social policy and health, my experience at the orphanage inspired me to pursue public health policy academically upon returning to Harvard.To learn more about Harvard China Care or to make a donation.
The Faculty of Engineering (LTH) at Lund University has decided to appoint Federico Capasso, Robert L. Wallace Professor of Applied Physics and Vinton Hayes Senior Research Fellow in Electrical Engineering at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), as an honorary doctor.Capasso will be among five individuals receiving honorary doctorates at the University’s doctoral degree ceremony in Lund Cathedral on May 27, 2011.Usually only very few honorary doctorates are awarded each year, but because LTH is celebrating its 50th anniversary as a school of engineering this year, five awards are being made, one for each decade.“With these five honorary doctors we want to demonstrate LTH’s breadth and diversity. The individuals’ work reflects LTH’s important role in influencing regional development, interacting with Europe for a sustainable society, cutting-edge research, internationalization and innovative enterprise”, says Anders Axelsson, dean of LTH.Capasso has influenced the research carried out in Lund in various ways, both within basic experimental and theoretical semiconductor physics and for applications focused on high-speed electronics and nanophotonics. He visits Lund several times a year and also acts as an adviser to several companies at Ideon Science Park.
Now we know it’s true: Toothpaste, chicken parts, Sheetrock, and sushi rice can be the stuff of art.“Oh, Pioneers!” is the proof. This year’s exhibit of thesis work by graduating seniors in the Department of Visual and Environmental Studies (VES) is on display through May 26. The art seems edgy, daring, surprising, and courageous — just the right qualities for young artists about to enter the world of work.It’s a good time to try to break through as an artist, observed VES studio arts Professor Annette Lemieux, who brought her cocker spaniel to the show’s April 29 opening at the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts. “Everyone’s broke,” she said. “The playing field is flat.”Nearby, Julia A. Rooney ’11, a VES concentrator, stood near her installation in the Sert Gallery. “True, it is one of the more risky and volatile careers,” she said of art. “But VES gives you a model of how it could work.”The exhibit’s title, an homage to courage, is still apt. But it also imparts the energy and hope of the Walt Whitman poem that inspired it. “Pioneers! O Pioneers!” you may remember, is an exhortation to youth and action. Its sentiments apply to new artists (and graduating seniors) everywhere. “We cannot tarry here,” it reads.We must march my darlings, we must bear the brunt of danger,We the youthful sinewy races, all the rest on us depend, Pioneers! O pioneers!For the time being, at least, these youthful sinewy races have a sense of humor.In the Main Gallery, Rachel D. Libeskind ’11 displayed a few works that play off the accidental properties of toothpaste. The squiggly theme gets replayed in her animation, a video loop of rapid-fire fashion and facial collage called “Tell All the Truth, But Tell It Slant” (2011). In an exhibit that is otherwise silent, the loop’s low, whispery soundtrack is a creepy treat, a kind of modulated exorcism.A few feet away is “Garden” (2011) by Sarah Christian ’11, a whimsical and weird collection of painted objects, including a seeming mushroom tipped on its side and a red cross-county ski, whose slender grace is contradicted by the broad clay foot resting on it.Quincy Bock ’11 plays with water, including three wall-size digital panels that capture 10 minutes of the rippling Charles River in February. In the next room, her “Box of (G)rain (Bahamas)” uses tinted sushi rice and a hand crank to simulate wave action. (Bring your Dramamine.)A few steps away, oils on canvas by Jason Vartikar-McCullough ’11 are rendered in thick, bold strokes and seem as free and fun as finger painting. Vartikar is a 21st century Georges Henri Rouault — but without the misery. In one painting, only three words appear. One is “coffee.” What better summation of thesis work?Dana Kase, “Upholster the Pines, Upholster the Pond,” installation viewTurn the other way, and you get “Sticky Louis,” a cardboard-and-masking tape bust of King Louis XVI by Dana Kase ’11. But she was also busy deconstructing: An oriental carpet is laid out in neat strips (“Divide and Conquer”), and another is reduced to a box of fluff. It’s called “Join or Die.” Never tell artists that; they’re too contrary.Upstairs, in one corner of the Sert, the exhibit’s humor grows muted. Charcoal sketches by Ariella Dagi ’11 appear subtle up close. But seen together, wall-high and -wide, they loom like a coming storm.“Gallus,” a nearby installation by Ivy Pan ’11, invites the viewer to feel uncomfortable. In a Plexiglas case and on a shelf she has arranged neat rows of jars, plastic bags, and deli containers of chicken parts: heads, feet, and feathers. Bones suspended in agar agar, cloudy jars of unnamed organs.Around the corner, Rooney greeted guests at the gala reception, where the wheels of criticism were oiled by champagne and Chinese food.The oil-on-canvas works in her installation were inspired by three summers in Italy, the first two as a writer and researcher for “Let’s Go,” the undergraduate travel guide series. The painted objects, though, were emblematic of Rooney going beyond the traditional painting that drew her to VES as a freshman. This year she has put gesso, acrylic, and spray paint on plaster tiles, shipping crates, and sheetrock, a material she called a 21st century iteration of the wall and ceiling frescos that inspired her in Italy.“It comes down to the making,” said Rooney about the lure of VES and a career in the arts. “Making is what I wanted to do.”The reception was followed by student film screenings, 24 works that ran from 1 to 36 minutes. It was the third of four nights of screenings, which included thesis films by graduating VES seniors Gabriela Acevedo, Isidore Bethel, Maxwell Newman-Plotnick, Trisha Pasricha, Brian Shen, and Katherine Tygielski.After the nights of adulation came the day of critique: two three-hour sessions at Sever Hall on Sunday (May 1) that were interrupted by the traditional VES picnic.The thesis films were not casual productions, the result of a few hours with iMovie and a six-pack.Take “The Sketch Artist,” for instance, as the leadoff film on Saturday night (April 30). In this 33-minute effort by screenwriter, producer, and director Newman-Plotnick, the production values were Hollywood high. The score was subtle. The acting was solid. The writing was fine. And the story was apt: a down-and-out graphic novelist, reduced to a job as a small-town police sketch artist, makes way for the teenager who is poised to out-draw him. Make room, with Whitman, for those “youthful sinewy races.”Why not do these things and take these risks, suggested Lemieux. “One should always do what you’re passionate about,” she said of the new artists, emergent and brave. “It makes for a good life. A hard life, but a good life.”Read more on “Oh, Pioneers!” and the student artists. Read more on the student filmmakers.
Harvard will turn 375 this fall, ready to celebrate its vibrant present and promising future. But every anniversary is predicated on a past — often a faraway time that in retrospect seems humble.In 1636, Harvard began as an idea, a pledge by the young Massachusetts Bay Colony to build a Puritan college in the wilderness of early New England “to advance Learning and perpetuate it to Posterity.”By 1638, Harvard was a building as well, “very fair and comely within and without.” The structure was steep-roofed, with a spacious hall, a parlor, and a lean-to kitchen and buttery out back. Peyntree House stood on one and one-eighth acre in what was called Cowyard Row.And by 1642, Harvard was a college. It graduated its first class on Sept. 23 that year — nine “young men of good hope,” as colonial leader John Winthrop recorded in his journal. Edward Mitchelson, the colony’s marshal general, began the ceremony by striking the dais with the butt of his pikestaff.That first Commencement included a long prayer and oration in Latin, followed by “disputations” from the graduates to prove their grasp of Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. Afterward, the School’s president made a private appeal for funds. At the time, Harvard — with no rents, annuities, or estates — scraped by on about 55 English pounds a year.Since that modest beginning, Harvard has grown from a training school for ministers to a global institution that promotes public service; from a school that forbade music outside of chapel services to a University where the arts are integral to scholarship; from an institution where learning “letters” followed strict classical models to one where a rainbow of humanities options reflect a diverse world; and from a place that focused on Latin and Greek to one that embraces science, technology, and innovation.All this is what Harvard celebrates as it prepares to mark its 375th anniversary.“With this anniversary celebration, we hope to both glance back and leap forward,” said Harvard President Drew Faust of the festivities, which will span 10 months starting in the fall. “We plan to honor Harvard’s rich history and cherished traditions, the great minds that have taught here, and the great minds those teachers have inspired. And we will also focus our energy and attention on the questions that will define our present and our future.”Here are some key areas that Harvard has helped to shape in recent decades, and that in turn have helped to shape Harvard.The rise of the sciencesPresent and future depend on the past, and so it was with Harvard and the sciences. But first came centuries of reluctance, as the young College clung to a classical model of education.French journalist J.P. Brissot de Warville visited Harvard in 1788. He marveled at the College’s great library but also said that the “sciences are not carried to any high degree,” in keeping with a young nation that he found more interested in commerce than in Newton-like inquiry.In 1847, Harvard opened the Lawrence Scientific School, the progenitor of today’s top-flight engineering and physical sciences departments. (In the Physics Department alone, there are now 10 winners of the Nobel Prize.) The new School helped to provide the scholarly grist to power the rising nation’s manufacturing, mining, and agriculture.In World War II, Harvard’s embrace of the sciences transformed the campus into “Conant’s Arsenal,” named after President James B. Conant, a chemist by training. Myriad researchers worked on radar jamming, night vision, aerial photography, sonar, explosives, a protocomputer, blood plasma derivatives, synthesized quinine, anti-malarial drugs, and new treatments for burns and shock. By 1945, Harvard’s income from government contracts was the third highest among U.S. universities.Chemistry Professor George B. Kistiakowsky tested new explosives and later led the Manhattan Project’s search for a way to trigger a nuclear bomb. Organic Chemistry Professor Louis Fieser invented napalm, lightweight incendiary grenades, and the M-1 firestarter used for sabotage.But the Harvard project that most influenced postwar science was the Mark I Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator, a protocomputer developed in the Computation Laboratory by Harold Aiken, Ph.D. ’39, in cooperation with IBM. Unveiled in 1944, it was 51 feet long, contained 72 tiered adding machines, and had 500 miles of wire. It calculated ballistic tables and Manhattan Project equations.Now, science and innovation are deeply embedded in the architecture of Harvard, where research has led to the grand (the heart pacemaker), the odd (breathable chocolate), and the futuristic (one of the first multimedia online scholarly journals).“We can celebrate that Harvard is — but doesn’t feel — 375 years old,” said Jonathan Zittrain, co-founder and faculty co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, who has broad-based faculty appointments in law, public policy, engineering, and computer science.Harvard values traditions and “inspiringly worn pathways from those who have come before,” he said, but it is at its best when its sturdy foundations lead academics and researchers “to venture into genuinely new scholarship and teaching.” When the old supports the new, said Zittrain, “the University can catalyze activity far beyond campus.”When Faust took office in 2007, she said that higher education has an “accountability to the future.” At Harvard, that mission includes pushing ideas out of the laboratory and into the marketplace. From 2006 to 2010, Harvard research spawned 39 start-up companies, 216 patents, and 1,270 faculty inventions. Institutionally, the players include the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering and Harvard’s Office of Technology Development, which considers sharing innovation a form of public service.The public service missionIn his 1923 memoir, longtime President Charles Eliot said one defining quality lay at the heart of Harvard’s traditions: “a spirit of service in all the professions, both learned and scientific, including business,” as well as “a desire, a firm purpose, to be of use to one’s fellow men.”Eliot’s own memory of that service stretched back to the Civil War, in part because of the many participants from Harvard who fought to save the Union. So he would hardly be surprised to find that the University’s sense of self-sacrifice includes military service. When Faust spoke at a ceremony this March reinstating ROTC after a hiatus of 40 years, she said the agreement “recognizes military service as an honorable and admirable calling — a powerful expression of an individual citizen’s commitment to contribute to the common good.”During last year’s Commencement address, Faust underscored the importance of giving back, announcing creation of the Presidential Public Service Fellowships, which fund 10 students annually to spend a summer helping others. She also promised to double funding for student service opportunities, including in the graduate and professional Schools, and to create a Harvard-wide public service website.In recent years, the number of service opportunities at Harvard has grown, taking on an astonishing diversity. Earlier this year, 110 undergraduates fanned out during Alternative Spring Break, going on 11 service trips. They helped to rebuild a burned church in western Massachusetts, worked with AIDS patients in New York City, and constructed affordable housing in El Salvador.At Harvard Law School, every student must complete 40 hours of pro bono work before graduating. Members of the Class of 2010 averaged 556 hours of free legal services apiece. Students in public health, medicine, and dentistry regularly perform aid work. The Harvard Kennedy School regards service as a core mission, and the Harvard Business School supports a Social Enterprise Initiative. Similar service opportunities are open to graduate students in education, divinity, and design.Undergraduates and faculty regularly volunteer at the Harvard Allston Education Portal, tutoring neighborhood students in science, math, and the humanities.The Phillips Brooks House Association (PBHA), Harvard’s oldest and largest public service club, is also home to the Public Service Network, which supports independent, student-led service programs, and the Center for Public Interest Careers, which administers paid internships for summers and after graduation.Helping others can change lives. Emmett Kistler ’11 came to Harvard to study chemistry. But during his first Alternative Spring Break two years ago, he not only learned how to swing a hammer, but decided to study religion and civil rights. Public service “has been one of the most shaping experiences of my college career,” said Kistler.“Some of Harvard’s best souls” use their personal time to help others, said Tim McCarthy ’93, a College lecturer in history and literature, as well as public policy. He led the first such work trip in 2001, and has since squired hundreds of undergraduates on similar forays. “I’m on my own spiritual journey,” said McCarthy. “This is part of it.”Blossoming of the artsAcross Harvard, a different sort of spiritual journey involves discovering the power of the arts.“There is much to celebrate, of course,” from Harvard’s first 375 years, said Stephen Greenblatt, John Cogan University Professor of the Humanities, “principally the fact — so easy to take for granted, so astonishing in reality — that the pedagogical commitment, intellectual power, and spirit of exploration embodied in this University have been renewed for so many generations.”To the University’s core values, Greenblatt said, “have more recently been added a vital interest in the role of art-making in the cognitive life of the Harvard community and of the world at large. This development seems to me crucial in furthering the University’s project of advancing our best qualities as human beings.”Greenblatt chaired Harvard’s 2007 Arts Task Force, which the next year released an influential, 63-page report that favored making the arts a greater part of the University’s intellectual life. After all, “art-making is a way of knowing,” said Office for the Arts Director Jack Megan at the time. “It has to do with understanding the world around us.”The report forcefully echoed one from 1956, when the University’s Committee on the Visual Arts released what became known as the Brown Commission Report, urging enhanced arts education for undergraduates. “Talking about knowing” was a medieval model of scholarship, that report said. It argued instead that “knowing and creating” belonged together.Though the Brown Commission did not turn Harvard on its head, it did make a difference. By 1960, Harvard had built the Loeb Drama Center on Brattle Street, and in 1963 the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts. Harvard soon created a Visual and Environmental Studies (VES) program. “It comes down to the making,” said VES concentrator Julia Rooney ’11, a painter. “Making is what I wanted to do.”The arts have come a long way. Making art at a 17th century Puritan college was considered subversion. Edward Taylor, Class of 1671, eventually went down in literary history as a great poet in the metaphysical tradition — but it took until the 1920s for an American scholar to discover him. In his own day, Taylor kept his poems private.The first documented concert at Harvard came in 1771, and singing was confined to chapel services. General Oliver, Class of 1818, concealed his flute under his featherbed, fearing the wrath of College officials and of his Puritan father. The first course in music was taught in 1855, a watershed moment, according to music champion John Sullivan Dwight, Class of 1832. It was, he said, “the entering wedge, and we may all rejoice in it.”A century and a half later, that wedge has widened to include today’s student painters, filmmakers, poets, actors, dancers, novelists, and photographers, some of whom make the arts their careers. There are so many Harvard graduates in the Los Angeles entertainment industry, for example, that alumni founded Harvardwood, a nonprofit that makes networking easier.Increasingly, noted arts professionals move in and out of Harvard’s academic settings with ease, leaving inspiration in their wake. In late April, famed jazz virtuoso Wynton Marsalis launched a two-year lecture and performance series at Sanders Theatre. The same month, the Office for the Arts and the Music Department sponsored “40 Years of Jazz at Harvard: A Celebration.”Last year, the nonprofit Silk Road Project moved its headquarters from Rhode Island to Harvard, strengthening a partnership between the University and an organization that promotes innovation and learning through the arts.This fall, art-making will be prominent during the Oct. 14 launch of the official 375th anniversary. The celebrations during the academic year will include scholarly panels and symposia. But the opening will be festive and musical, putting Harvard’s “vital arts mission” on display, said University Marshal Jackie O’Neill, M.P.A. ’81. “The launch is decidedly and intentionally supposed to be fun.” At one point, guests will assemble in the Tercentenary Theatre for orchestral and choral interludes, with a capstone performance by cellist Yo-Yo Ma ’76.A university of the worldThe Harvard of the dim past was small, insular, and guardedly parochial. Now it is a university of the world.Some historians say Harvard finally assumed that role in 1936, when it decided to celebrate its 300th birthday on a bright stage presented to the world. Everything about the 1936 celebration was grand and represented “a seismic shift in institutional weight and presence,” wrote authors Morton and Phyllis Keller in “Making Harvard Modern” (2001).That summer, 70,000 visitors toured Harvard Yard, and a light show on the Charles River in September drew 300,000 viewers. The fall convocation was preceded by two weeks of scholarly symposia. About 15,000 guests attended the final day of festivities.Representatives from 502 universities and learned societies gathered to recognize Harvard’s three centuries. The climax of the event was a speech by President Franklin D. Roosevelt ’04, who sat gamely though heavy rains.In the decades since, Harvard has cemented its position as a global university. This year, more than 4,300 international students — nearly 20 percent of enrollment — attended, coming from among 130 countries. The web portal Harvard Worldwide lists more than 1,600 activities, and notes that Harvard has offices in nine countries.Last year, nearly 1,500 Harvard College students traveled to a total of 104 countries for research and other activities. Harvard Summer School faculty will lead 28 study abroad programs in 18 countries this year.“In a digital age, ideas and aspirations respect few boundaries,” Faust told a scholarly audience in Dublin last year. “The new knowledge economy is necessarily global, and the reach of universities must be so as well.”Jorge I. Domínguez, Antonio Madero Professor for the Study of Mexico and vice provost for international affairs, said most Harvard College seniors have had a significant international experience. Moreover, “roughly two-thirds of the faculty at the Kennedy School, the Graduate School of Design, and the Business School say on their websites that some significant part of their professional work takes place outside the United States.”One trunk, many branchesModern Harvard also has evolved profoundly in its embrace of diversity. The University of decades ago that one wag described as “male, pale, and Episco-pale” now has a student body that is just over 50 percent white, with 13 percent foreign-born.Harvard College, which was all male just a generation ago, has a student body evenly divided by gender. Women have a full place at the Harvard’s table, though it was only in 1971 that they were allowed to process into Harvard Yard for Commencement.Economically, any student admitted to the College is guaranteed a place in the class. If money is a factor in attending, the University will provide financial support.Longtime faculty member Fred Abernathy, the Gordon McKay Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Abbott and James Lawrence Research Professor of Engineering, has served as a Commencement official for decades, and has witnessed Harvard’s social transformation from close up.“It has changed dramatically,” he said. “We’ve done it with gender, and (now) we’ll be more international — and the better for it.”
Analysis of data from two long-term studies of the impact of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) on the development of psychiatric disorders in young adults confirms that ADHD alone significantly increases the risk of cigarette smoking and substance abuse in both boys and girls. The report from a team of Harvard researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) will appear in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (JAACAP) and has been released online.“Our study, which is one of the largest set of longitudinal studies of this issue to date, supports the association between ADHD and substance abuse found in several earlier studies and shows that the increased risk cannot be accounted for by coexisting factors such as other psychiatric disorders or family history of substance abuse,” says Timothy Wilens of the MGH Pediatric Psychopharmacology Unit, who led the study. “Overall, study participants diagnosed with ADHD had a one-and-a-half-times greater risk of developing substance abuse than did control participants.”While previous studies from Harvard investigators at MGH and elsewhere found an increased risk of substance abuse in adolescents and young adults with ADHD, questions have been raised about whether specific aspects of ADHD such as impulsive behavior, cognitive problems, school problems, accompanying conditions such as bipolar disorder or conduct disorder, or family factors were actually responsible for the risk. To get a clearer picture of the factors behind the increased risk, the researchers examined data from two previous studies — one of boys, one of girls — that analyzed the prevalence of a broad range of psychiatric and behavioral disorders in participants diagnosed with ADHD as children.From those two studies, a decade or more of follow-up information was available for a total of 268 participants with ADHD and 220 control participants, both groups equally divided by gender. Among the ADHD participants, 32 percent developed some type of substance abuse, including cigarette smoking, during the follow-up period, while only 25 percent of control participants had substance abuse problems. Factors such as gender, cognitive difficulties, mood disorders, school problems, or family history of substance abuse did not impact the risk. The only additional diagnosis that had an effect was conduct disorder, which tripled the risk when combined with ADHD.“Anyone with ADHD needs to be counseled about the risk for substance abuse, particularly if they have any delinquency,” explains Wilens. “We still need to understand why some kids with ADHD develop substance abuse and others don’t, whether particular treatment approaches can prevent substance problems, and how best to treat young adults that have both ADHD and substance abuse.” Wilens is an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.Additional authors of the JAACAP report are MaryKate Martelon, Gagan Joshi, Clancey Bateman, Ronna Fried, Carter Petty, and Joseph Biederman, all of the MGH Pediatric Psychopharmacology Unit. The study was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the Eli Lilly and Company Foundation, and the MGH Pediatric Psychopharmacology Philanthropy Fund.
Read Full Story Coping with humanitarian emergencies brought on by war, famine, or a natural disaster is rife with challenges. Aid workers can face armed militias, an earthquake-stricken landscape of blocked roads and crumbling buildings, masses of displaced people on the move, or a confusing situation in which dozens of aid organizations are all trying to help at the same time—but are not coordinating with each other.Given the challenges, said Michael VanRooyen, director of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI), it’s essential for humanitarian organizations to utilize new technologies that can help with communication, information-gathering, and data analysis. VanRooyen spoke at an HSPH Hot Topics lecture on Aug. 16, 2011.A research and academic center focused on humanitarian issues, HHI runs a number of programs aimed at helping governments, non-governmental organizations, and the United Nations make the best possible use of the latest technology while delivering humanitarian aid.
Read Full Story Stop by Maxwell Dworkin to see our new exhibit on 21st-century engineering!It’s big.Engineers invent the future in fits and starts. They dream, tinker, design, build, test—and learn from “happy mistakes.”At SEAS, we are dedicated to thinking big, breaking down boundaries, leaping at opportunities, and leading change.Engineering is emerging as crucial knowledge for the 21st century. In a world of ubiquitous technology and global interconnection, we believe critical reasoning, knowledge of quantitative techniques, and problem-solving skills are essential qualities for any broadly educated person.Through research and scholarship, SEAS is creating collaborative bridges across Harvard and educating the next generation of global leaders.
Young patients with an aggressive form of leukemia who are likely to relapse after chemotherapy treatment can significantly reduce those odds by receiving additional courses of chemotherapy, suggest the findings of a clinical trial led by investigators at Harvard-affiliated Dana-Farber/Children’s Hospital Cancer Center in Boston.The trial leaders today presented the results of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) Consortium study, which involved nearly 500 patients under age 18 with B-precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL), at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology (ASH).Trial participants received an initial course of induction chemotherapy for B-ALL, a cancer of the blood that is one of the most common cancers in children younger than 15. After a month of treatment, the patients’ bone marrow samples were sent for a test able to measure levels of leukemia that cannot be seen under a microscope. Thirty-five of the patients were deemed to have a very high risk of relapsing because they retained relatively large numbers of leukemia cells as measured by this test. An additional 16 patients were also considered very high-risk because their leukemia cells had certain chromosomal abnormalities.These 51 patients then received an intensified treatment regimen consisting of two additional rounds of chemotherapy using agents not typically given to newly diagnosed patients with B-ALL. This was followed by an intensified consolidation phase of therapy to keep the disease in remission, then a standard maintenance phase to further deter the disease from returning.Investigators estimate that five years after reaching complete remission, the rate of event-free survival (a measure of survival without relapse or development of another cancer) was 76 percent for these very high-risk patients. By contrast, less than half of similar patients who receive standard chemotherapy reach the five-year mark without relapsing.“Pediatric patients with B-ALL traditionally receive a standard course of chemotherapy if their risk of relapse is low, and a slightly intensified course if their risk is higher,” says the study’s lead author, Lynda M. Vrooman of Dana-Farber/Children’s Hospital Cancer Center and Harvard Medical School (HMS). “In this study, we identified a new risk group — those with a very high risk of relapse — and studied the effect of a novel, even more intensive chemotherapy regimen on their outcome.”“Though it involved a relatively small number of patients, the new trial is one of the first to show improved outcomes for this set of patients as a result of an intensified chemotherapy protocol,” says HMS Associate Professor of Pediatrics Lewis Silverman of Dana-Farber/Children’s Hospital Cancer Center, the senior author. Trial leaders will continue to track the study participants to gauge the durability of the remissions produced by the intensified treatment.Co-authors of the study include Kristen Stevenson and Donna Neuberg of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute; Marian Harris of Children’s Hospital Boston; and Stephen Sallan of Dana-Farber/Children’s Hospital Cancer Center.
Read Full Story It’s estimated that about five million children in India are addicted to tobacco. They’re lured in by small, brightly colored packs of chewing tobacco—very popular in India—that cost just pennies a pack and are available everywhere, often close to schools. Frequently, children start using chewing tobacco, then graduate to cigarettes as they get older.To combat this trend, the Mumbai-based Salaam Bombay Foundation has offered innovative school-based programs since 2002 to steer kids away from tobacco use by engaging them in spirited anti-tobacco campaigns and helping boost their life skills and confidence through sports, arts, and cultural activities. Padmini Somani, Salaam Bombay’s executive director and founder, described the organization’s work in a talk at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) on March 5, 2013 to health communication students and faculty.Kasisomayajula Viswanath, associate professor of social and behavioral sciences at HSPH, introduced Somani. With other HSPH colleagues, Viswanath has helped Somani evaluate Salaam Bombay’s programs. An April 2012 study published in PLOS ONE by Viswanath; Glorian Sorensen, professor of social and behavioral sciences at HSPH; Prakash Gupta, PD ’85, director of Healis-Sekhsaria Institute of Public Health in Mumbai; and Eve Nagler, SD ’10, a research scientist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, found that students enrolled in the foundation’s programs were half as likely as other children to start using tobacco.