Associate Professor of Biological Sciences Manojkumar Puthenveedu has received a $200,000 grant from the Shurl & Kay Curci Foundation to support his research into the cellular mechanisms that underlie pain and addiction to painkillers. The project could be a critical step toward a new, non-addictive way to treat pain. Opioids like morphine, which target the mu opioid receptor on the surface of neurons, are the main drugs prescribed to treat pain. These drugs, however, have severe limitations. They are not very effective in treating chronic pain, and their use often leads to tolerance and addiction — a serious and rapidly growing problem today. Under the new grant, Puthenveedu will investigate an alternate drug target to the mu opioid receptor. His target is the delta opioid receptor (DOR), which also can inhibit pain pathways when on the surface of neurons. Find out more.
Director of Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) Madelyn Miller recently participated in a workshop on improving safety in research laboratories in Bethesda, Md., and the National Institutes of Health. National leaders in laboratory safety from industry, government and academia were invited to brainstorm methods to enhance the laboratory safety culture within their organizations. The workshop coincided with a letter from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, the Association of American Universities, the American Chemical Society and the Council of Governmental Relations to all university presidents asking them to renew their commitment to improve the safety culture in academic, research, scholarship and teaching. There were 12 breakout groups that worked to provide guidance for the enhancement of laboratory safety in academia and industry. Participants divided into small groups to develop action items aimed at improving specific areas of lab safety.
Ken Koedinger, professor of human-computer interaction and psychology, is one of three keynote speakers who will present at the Learning@Scale Conference in Edinburgh, April 25-26. He will be joined by Sugar Mitra, professor of educational technology at New Castle University, U.K., and Mike Sharples, chair in educational techonology at the Open University, U.K. Learning@Scale refers to new approaches for students to learn and for teachers to teach, when engaging large numbers of students either in a face-to-face or remote setting. Koedinger's talk is titled "Practical Learning Resarch at Scale." Learn about the conference.
Alex John London, an acclaimed bioethicist, has been appointed to the Committee on Clinical Trials During the 2014-15 Ebola Outbreak by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. The committee will explore and analyze the scientific and ethical issues related to vaccine and therapeutic drug design, conduct and reporting in response to the West African epidemic. London, professor of philosophy and director of CMU’s Center for Ethics and Policy, researches foundational ethical issues in human-subjects research, issues of social justice in international contexts, and methodology issues in theoretical and applied ethics. Find out more.
A research proposal by Anis Charfi, associate teaching professor of information systems at Carnegie Mellon in Qatar, has received a National Priorities Research Program (NPRP) grant in Cycle 9 of Qatar National Research Fund’s (QNRF) flagship program. Charfi’s proposal, titled "Arabic Author Profiling for Cyber Security,” outlines how natural language processing will be used to analyze written Arabic text to ascertain an author’s characteristics like age, gender and nationality. This work has a number of practical applications, including detecting and preventing crimes like phishing, cyber-blackmailing and cyber-bullying in Arabic. Find out more.
Obituary: Leon “Pete” Smith
Leon “Pete” Smith, a bus driver for the Leonard Gelfand Center for Service Learning and Outreach off and on since 1994, died on Friday, April 15. He was 75.
In 2014, Smith and fellow bus driver William “Bill” Taylor were recipients of CMU’s Andy Award for Community Contributions. Gelfand Center Director Judith Hallinen nominated Smith and Taylor. Hallinen and supporters praised them for their diligence and congeniality.
“The Gelfand Center bus is invaluable to FORGE, not only in terms of building a stronger and larger student body engaged in mentoring the local refugee community but also providing a consistent space each week for student volunteers to bond and share their experiences with one another immediately after visiting their refugee families' homes. We are so grateful for the service that Bill and Pete have offered us, especially in picking up our Saturday afternoon shifts,” said former FORGE President Minnar Xie.
Gelfand Center colleagues will sincerely miss Smith’s jovial, can-do attitude, and his dedication to the students at CMU.
The viewing will be today (Thursday, April 21) from 4 – 8 p.m. at the Shiloh Community Baptist Church at 6940 Frankstown Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15208. The funeral will be at 11 a.m. tomorrow, Friday, April 22, at the church.