Carnegie Mellon University

Summer 2011


Obituary: Dr. David Servan-Schreiber Empowered Cancer Patients

Dr. David Servan-Schreiber (CS’89,’90), who was awarded an honorary doctorate in humane letters at Carnegie Mellon’s commencement this past May, died of brain cancer on Sunday, July 24. He was 50.

Servan-Schreiber’s career spanned two continents as a professor and physician in Pittsburgh and Paris. After completing two medical degrees, Servan-Schreiber earned a Ph.D. in cognitive neuroscience at CMU under the guidance of Jay McClelland and Nobel Laureate Herbert Simon.

Servan-Schreiber’s distinguished career touched many Pittsburgh institutions, including senior leadership posts at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, where he co-founded the Center for Integrative Medicine, and academic appointments at the University of Pittsburgh and CMU. He published more than 90 scientific monographs and lectured at leading international academic centers.

One of the seven co-founders of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Doctors without Borders U.S., Servan-Schreiber served in Iraq, Guatemala, India, Tajikistan and Kosovo, addressing epidemics among refugees. He served as a member of the organization’s board for nine years.

In 1992, at age 31, Servan-Schreiber discovered a tumor in his own brain while conducting brain-imaging research. He was diagnosed with brain cancer and given six months to live. Confronting his illness and marshaling his own will to live, he embarked upon a 16-year journey fighting and seeking to understand his illness, culminating in his 2008 international bestseller, “Anticancer: A New Way of Life.” The book and his international lectures have empowered cancer patients and survivors with knowledge and tools to combat the disease.

Servan-Schreiber is the eldest son of the world-renowned Jean-Jacques Servan-Schreiber, the late politician, publisher and co-founder of the French newspaper L'Express. Jean-Jacques Servan-Schreiber was a distinguished lecturer at CMU during the years that his four sons, David, Franklin (E'86, HSS'89), Emile (S'85, HSS'89,'91) and Edouard (S'88) were students at the university. Jean-Jacques Servan-Schreiber worked closely with Raj Reddy, CMU's Mozah Bint Nasser University Professor, as founder and president of the World Center for Informatics and Human Resources.

The funeral will be held in Paris on Thursday, July 28.

Internal Communications


Software Engineering Students Develop Warhol App

Warhol AppThree students in last year's Institute for Software Research's Professional Software Engineering programs developed an iPhone/iPad application for The Andy Warhol Museum. The application allows users to create a digital silkscreen print by following Warhol's famed silkscreen process step by step.

As the project component of their master's degree, the Warhol Museum sponsored a team of students — Kothanda Ramakumar, Dinesh Ramadoss and Ramkumar Nagarajan — to develop the app. The team was mentored by Matthew Bass, MSE faculty and associate director for corporate and alumni relations for the Professional Software Engineering programs. The Warhol D.I.Y. Pop app, now sold through the iTunes AppStore, works on the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. The top-selling app on the day of its release, July 11, it was identified as a 'Pick of the Week' by Gizmodo and featured in the Wall Street Journal's "All Things D," the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and numerous other online and print publications.

With photos taken by their device's built-in camera or obtained from photo galleries, individuals use the application to create personal works of art. The hands-on process includes cropping, exposing, and painting.  Users employ their fingers as virtual squeegees, pulling them across the screen to apply the ink that completes the digital silkscreen.

"Working with The Andy Warhol Museum was a great experience for all concerned," Bass said. "The project provided a great learning opportunity for the students, and the end-result for the Warhol was a world class app. We look forward to future collaborations."

Byron Spice


Information Systems Students Support Props, Costumes Project

IS Summer 2011When a performing arts company donated millions of props and costumes to Urban Impact in Pittsburgh, they thought that they would never have to purchase another item for a play or musical again. But, the magnitude of the items quickly became overwhelming — simply locating specific items within the warehouse was virtually impossible.  

Urban Impact, a local ministry based on the North Side aimed at helping at-risk youth, did not have the financial means to solve the problem on their own.

Enter eight students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) who spent six weeks in the Information Systems in the Community Summer Program. Working under the direction of professors Larry Heimann and Jeria Quesenberry, the students created an inventory management system for Urban Impact's Performing Arts Program.  The program is designed to improve the lives of children through singing, dancing and playing musical instruments at venues and colleges across Pennsylvania.

Called the "Urban Impact Costume Collection," the system will allow Urban Impact's staff and production partners to browse and sort items, view photos and ultimately request to use specific items. The system also displays where in the warehouse each item is located.

Tammy Glover, director of Urban Impact's Performing Arts Program, said that working with the students was a wonderful experience that will impact kids lives for years to come.

"Not only did your work leave an imprint on your learning, but you've left a legacy in Pittsburgh," she said.  "Our city is better because you came and visited us."

For the past eight years, the CMU's Information Systems in the Community Summer Program has brought together students from HBCUs to complete an intense and complicated project designed to give them a hands-on learning experience. In addition to mastering new technical concepts, the students were taught project management, leadership and teamwork skills. The six-week program is generously supported by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

For more information about the Information Systems in the Community Summer Program, the students involved and this year's project, visit

Shilo Raube


Online Consumers Willing To Pay for Privacy

A new study by Carnegie Mellon researchers debunks the conventional wisdom that online consumers won't pay a premium to purchase from vendors with clear, protective privacy policies.

The study, authored by CMU researchers Janice Y. Tsai, Serge Egelman, Lorrie Cranor and Alessandro Acquisti, appears in the current issue of the INFORMS journal Information Systems Research.

"Our study indicates that when privacy information is made more salient and accessible, some consumers are willing to pay a premium to purchase from privacy protective websites," write the authors.

The researchers note that most online privacy policies are difficult for consumers to use and are often overlooked. Challenging a predominant belief that consumers would not sacrifice for greater Internet privacy, they designed their research to determine if consumers would pay extra to make a purchase at an online store whose privacy policy was medium to high and could easily be determined.

When shopping online for batteries, participants in one phase of the study made significantly more purchases from sites rated "high privacy" (47.4 percent) than participants buying from sites rated "no privacy" (5.6 percent).

To learn more about the study, check out the podcast interview with study co-author Acquisti here:

Ken Walters