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Michael Trush

Michael Trush and staff members Barbara Bates Hopkins (center) and Patricia Tracey advise neighborhoods on environmental health risks.

From Cellular Activity to Community Activism

Walking to his car one evening after work a few years ago, Michael Trush noticed a plume of black smoke against the South Baltimore sky. "I wonder what that is," he thought. He soon found out. The smoke came from an explosion in a chemical factory, located a stone's throw from a group of families Trush had been advising about health risks in their neighborhood.

"It was the most heavily industrialized neighborhood in Baltimore," recalls Trush, a toxicologist and an Environmental Health Sciences professor. "There were about 200 families in this little pocket of houses, completely surrounded by huge industrial plants. People were living 20 feet away from gasoline storage tanks." The chemical-plant explosion triggered a government buy-out program, which relocated the families to safer ground.

On the surface, Trush's research at Johns Hopkins has little to do with industrial disasters. His lab focuses on the cellular effects of reactive oxygen, a free radical produced by mitochondria. Widely blamed for cancers and aging, reactive oxygen has spawned a host of antioxidant products and food fads. Gradually, though, Trush has seen the scales of scientific judgment tip toward balance. "Reactive oxygen plays an important role in cell signaling and in controlling cell division," he says. "It's when there's an excess that problems occur, that the dose gets poisonous."

Trush's leap from cellular activity to community activism occurred in the mid-1990s, prompted by a federal research grant that required a community education and outreach component. He began by helping Maryland Public Television produce a series of science education programs. Gradually, he branched out to work with community leaders and activists in neighborhoods facing unusual health risks. "I'm a both-ends-of-the-spectrum kind of guy," he laughs, then—turning serious—adds, "It makes the science we do here and teach here real." Trush's education and outreach program now includes two staff members at Hopkins, as well as participants from other schools, including Morgan State University and the Maryland Institute College of Art. One artist is now creating cartoons to inform people about in-home asthma triggers (including smoking, mouse droppings and even plush toy animals); another project is assessing the health effects from a large bus depot that adjoins a neighborhood.

The communities where he and his colleagues volunteer their expertise are often low-income, minority neighborhoods—a fact noted by Johns Hopkins University, which gave a 2006 Diversity Recognition Award to Trush in honor of his service. Working with such a range of groups "really brings environmental health and public health alive," says Trush, PhD, MS. "That's what's so exciting."

Robert Blum
Scott Zeger

Two Elected to the Institute of Medicine
Adolescent health expert Robert Blum (top left) and biostatistician Scott Zeger were elected in October to membership in the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine (IOM).

Blum, the William H. Gates Sr. Professor and Chair of the Department of Population, Family and Reproductive Health; and Zeger, the Frank Hurley and Catharine Dorrier Professor in Biostatistics and chair of the Department of Biostatistics, were among the 65 new members elected nationwide. They join 15 faculty members with primary appointments at the School who were previously elected to the IOM.

Zeger, named one of the top 25 most-cited mathematical scientists of the past decade, is known for his research into statistical methods for time series and longitudinal studies. A fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Zeger, PhD, focuses on the design and analysis of data from biomedical studies.

Blum, MD, MPH, PhD, has led research in adolescent sexuality, chronic illness and international adolescent health care. Recently named interim director of the Johns Hopkins Urban Health Institute, Blum is a consultant to The World Bank, UNICEF and the World Health Organization.

Steven An, PhD, assistant professor, Environmental Health Sciences (EHS), was honored with the American Thoracic Society's Ann Woolcock Award for his outstanding contributions and future promise in asthma research.

Karen Bandeen-Roche, PhD, professor, Biostatistics, has been named chair of the National Institutes of Health's Biostatistical Methods and Research Design Study Section, Center for Scientific Review, for the term July 1, 2006, through June 30, 2008.

Patrick Breysse

Patrick Breysse, PhD '85, MHS '80, professor, EHS, received the 2006 Meritorious Achievement Award from the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH), for his outstanding long-term contributions to the field of occupational health and industrial hygiene.

John F.P. Bridges, PhD, MEc, assistant professor, Health Policy and Management (HPM), was awarded the 2006 Bernie O'Brien New Investigator Award by the International Society of Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research (ISPOR), for his exceptional promise in the field.

Thomas A. Burke, PhD, MPH, professor, HPM, served as chair of the National Academy of Sciences' Committee on Human Biomonitoring for Environmental Toxicants. The committee's report provides a framework for the conduct of biomonitoring studies, the interpretation of results and communication of the public health implications of population exposure to environmental chemicals.

Ciprian Crainiceanu, PhD, assistant professor, Biostatistics, received the 2006 American Statistical Association's Noether Young Scholar Award. The award honors researchers younger than age 35 who have performed significant research and teaching in nonparametric statistics.

Marie Diener-West

Marie Diener-West, PhD '84, Helen Abbey and Margaret Merrell Professor in Biostatistics Education, has been elected a fellow of the American Statistical Association in recognition of her outstanding professional contribution to and leadership in the field of statistical science.

Francesca Dominici, PhD, associate professor, Biostatistics, has been named the recipient of the 2006 Mortimer Spiegelman Award by the American Public Health Association (APHA) Statistics Section.

Kevin Frick, PhD, MA, associate professor, HPM, co-authored an article in Health Services Research (HSR), "The causes of racial and ethnic differences in influenza vaccination rates among elderly Medicare beneficiaries" (HSR 2005;40:2), which was named the 2006 John M. Eisenberg Article of the Year by HSR.

Alan Goldberg, PhD, professor, EHS, was appointed Commissioner for the National Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production. The Commission is charged with conducting a two-year comprehensive and fact-based examination of key aspects of the farm animal industry.

Thaddeus Graczyk, PhD, MSc, associate professor, EHS, received the National Ocean Service Unit Citation Award, recognizing his scientific leadership in developing and implementing innovative techniques leading to the discovery of Cryptosporidium in U.S. commercial shellfish and in completing the first study to measure levels of the human pathogen in shellfish throughout the Atlantic and Gulf Coast region.

John Groopman

John D. Groopman, PhD, Anna M. Baetjer Professor and Chair, EHS, has been appointed for a four-year term to the visiting committee for biological engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Ruth Karron, MD, professor, International Health, was named chair of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee. The 12-member panel advises the FDA on matters concerning the safety, effectiveness and appropriate use of vaccines and related products. It also recommends which influenza strains should be covered by the vaccinations developed for the coming flu season.

Thomas A. LaVeist

Thomas A. LaVeist, PhD, professor, Health Policy and Management, will be installed as the inaugural William C. and Nancy F. Richardson Professor in Health Policy. LaVeist is the director of the Center for Health Disparities Solutions, a collaboration between Morgan State University and the Johns Hopkins University.

Wayne Mitzner, PhD '72, MS, professor, EHS, received the American Thoracic Society's Joseph R. Rodarte Award for Scientific Distinction, for his achievements in and contributions to the fields of respiratory physiology and medicine.

Richard Morrow, MD, MPH, professor, International Health, has received the 2006 Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Health Section of the American Public Health Association for his significant contributions in the areas of tropical diseases and the measurement of burden of disease, and for his groundbreaking work in bringing quality assurance to the field of international health.

Ellen K. Silbergeld

Ellen K. Silbergeld, PhD '72, professor, EHS, was elected to Delta Omega, the honorary society for graduate studies in public health.

Alfred Sommer, MD, MHS '73, dean emeritus and professor, Epidemiology and International Health, was awarded the Spirit of Helen Keller Award by Helen Keller International for his pioneering research on vitamin A. The award was presented by actress Meryl Streep at the organization's 90th anniversary celebration April 27 at the Waldorf Astoria Starlight Roof in New York.

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