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Letters to the Editor

Breath of Fresh Air
For many years I have enjoyed the magazine and its contents. It is carefully styled and sometimes very American—which just reminds us foreign students of our time at the School. The recent issue was just right, but also electrifying and soothing at the same time, for there had been such a stagnation in research on asthma. I am excited about the successful work of Lynn Goldman, Allison Fryer, and colleagues [“The Breathtaking Disease," Fall 2002]. The reason for my excitement is that in Germany I also was constantly trying to direct the interest of epidemiologists in the field toward the pesticide issues, especially [pesticides’] interference with central nervous and autonomous regulation of the organism, including the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract. The interest here, though, was exclusively in mites, pollen, animal hair, and the like, as if chemical compounds were kind of taboo. The difficulties [Goldman and Fryer experienced in getting] funding mirrored almost exactly the situation in Germany, a country where the chemical industry controls research behind the scenes. 

The hypotheses formulated with so much brilliance and understanding [by your researchers] make me hopeful that in the School creative thinking has not been subdued by the mechanistic and unimaginative epidemiology of past years.

In a randomized, case-control study conducted at our institute, we found links between increased risks for multiple chemical sensitivity (and even some leukemias) and pesticides in house dust. We now may look into the issue again for a correlation with asthma. The devastating effects of strong biocides have been neglected all too long, and I congratulate the group at the School for having a breakthrough.

R. Frentzel-Beyme, MD, MHS ’72
Bremen, Germany

Ubiquitously Yours

I really enjoyed the story on the Ubiquiteers [“Social Studies,” Fall 2002]! I greatly appreciate learning about the inspiring early history of the club and its founder.

At a [recent] meeting of the Whiting School of Engineering’s National Advisory Council, there was much lamenting over the failure of the [Engineering] school—and Hopkins, in general—to bring about a spirit of gemutlichkeit among the students, and also the need for informal involvement of the faculty with them. It was stated that the great diversity of the Hopkins population increased the need for some action to bring a sense of togetherness. I then discussed your article on the Ubiquiteers, which I believe few, if any, of the Council had heard about. I pointed out how important the Club had been in pulling us together at the old H & PH—and I challenged any comparison between the “diversity” at Homewood with the truly worldwide, racial, national, and multi-socio-economic diversity that [characterized] the Ubiquiteers. I suggested the rebirth of the Ubiquiteers at Hopkins, including at Homewood, as an excellent and major step to solve the current problem.

See what you did!

Gil Levin, PhD
Beltsville, Maryland

Scholarly Review

I want to thank you for your well-written article about the Johnson & Johnson Evaluation Scholars who support the Johnson & Johnson Community Health Care Program [“Road Scholars,” Fall 2002].

Three partners, Johnson & Johnson, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and the National Council of La Raza, provide support to the nation’s safety net of community-based, non-profit health centers and providers that offer quality health care services to the medically underserved.

The Johnson & Johnson Evaluation Scholars not only gain valuable hands-on field experience through this program, but they are an important contribution to the program’s success.

Thank you to the past students who have worked with us, and welcome to our new students. You are assisting in “Helping the Hands that Heal,” hands that touch lives and make a significant difference in the quality of life for many thousands of people.

Joanne Fillweber
Manager, Medical Affairs & Corporate Contributions
Johnson & Johnson, Inc.
New Brunswick, New Jersey

Sweeney Family Reunion

Many, many thanks for [“Social Studies,” which focused on the Ubiquiteers and its founder, James Shirley Sweeney]. Dr. Sweeney was my father; all this had been unknown to me.

James Shirley Sweeney Jr.

Dallas, Texas

Dr. Sweeney was my grandfather and circumstances within our family kept me from ever meeting him.

Through articles like this I am able to get to know what kind of man he was. I wish I could have known him. Thank you for your insight.

Colleen Sweeney Steblein
Hitchcock, Texas

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