UB Today welcomes letters from readers commenting on its stories and content. Please include your UB degree and the year it was received, along with a daytime telephone for verification purposes. Letters are subject to editing and may be condensed for length. Send-mail to ub-alumni@buffalo.edu


Reader offers testimonial of Hamburg’s work

Referring to the profile of Janet Hamburg, BS ’73, in the winter ’08 issue: As a person with Parkinson’s who has used her Motivating Moves DVD, I can attest to the increased flexibility and range of motion I experience with regular use of this program. Janet’s knowledge and experience are gifts to those who benefit from her continued dedication.
Lawrence, KS

Swim strokes were mischaracterized

Regarding the article on page 10 of the winter 2008 issue titled “No Bull: swimming styles,” the description of some of the swimming styles (strokes) is incorrect.

In the description of Butterfly, the article states the flutter kick is used. The kick used in doing the Butterfly is the dolphin kick and flutter kick is used in the front crawl (often mistakenly referred to as freestyle) and in the back crawl (backstroke).

Reference is also made to the “the fifth event—the individual medley.” On the fourth leg of this event, the swimmer must use some other stroke than the previous three. Therefore, the fourth stroke used is not truly “freestyle” but rather front crawl.

During a competitive swimming meet, several events (different distances) are labeled as freestyle. Because front crawl is the fastest stroke, it is the one all swimmers use in freestyle events. However, the rulebook states that a swimmer may use any stroke when participating in freestyle events (thus the name “freestyle”). It is during the Individual Medley and the Medley Relay where the fourth leg must be something other than the previously used three strokes.
JIM DECKER, EdM ’69 & EdB ’64
East Aurora, NY

Editor’s note: The writer was a member of the UB men’s swim team from 1960 to 1964 and team captain in 1964. UB Today regrets these errors, also brought to our attention by Anita Gelarie, BA ’91 of Atlanta, GA, a former member of the UB women’s swim team and a USA Swimming coach.

The following two letters pertain to the story “Anticancer drug begins clinical trials” that appeared on page 6 of the winter 2008 issue.

Where’s humanity in drug development story?

While it is very exciting that UB has a hand in the development of an innovative anticancer drug that is entering a new testing phase, I found several sentences in this article completely chilling. Allen Barnett of Kinex states that if the drug works only a portion as well as it did in trials “it will have a blockbuster, billion-dollar potential.” Barnett’s strange optimism dramatically feeds an already distrusting public’s suspicions that the end to so many deadly ailments that rip apart families and tragically shorten lives is only going to happen if a pharmaceutical company can build their bottom line. So, what, I ask, is UB’s participation in this project motivated by?

In the penultimate paragraph, it is stated that kinases are “one of the most lucrative classes” of pharmaceutical industry drug targets. Lucrative, you say? So, again, it apparently matters not whether this focus of research is a promising step toward a cure, but rather that [it] means a profit.
Ogdensburg, NY

I find [this article] disturbing in two ways. First, the CEO of the pharmaceutical company partnered with a UB researcher is quoted about its “blockbuster, billion-dollar potential.” It is also mentioned to be in the “most lucrative” class of drugs in the pharmaceutical industry.

Secondly, [there is] not a single word of what this drug may represent to cancer victims. I find it insensitive that a publication coming from a university that possesses a school of public health and health professions, and their corresponding mission statements, would not offer an article that focused, at least in part, on implications for the patient.
Little Valley, NY

Editor’s note: The article referred to was adapted from a news release pitched to area media as a business story—the economic effects of a promising new drug are clearly of interest to consumers of Western New York media. In hindsight, though, we should have realized how the article might be misinterpreted to read that Kinex Pharmaceuticals CEO Allen Barnett is uncaring about the humanitarian aspects of his company’s drug developments. Given an opportunity to respond, Barnett said he and his colleagues are currently very involved in testing this drug in cancer patients. “So the human side of cancer is always an important part of Kinex and a major motivation for all its employees. It is true, nonetheless, that new drugs come from commercial entities much more often than from nonprofit institutions, and that these commercial entities also are accountable to their investors. Since these commercial entities are not government supported, they need to generate revenue to fund the discovery of additional useful drugs to benefit future patients, as well as to compensate their investors for the risk they are taking with their investments.” As a CEO of a commercial venture, Barnett says he stands by his response to a question concerning the financial aspects of this new drug.

Exploring research helps younger students, too

I was impressed and excited when I read the article about new undergraduate initiatives at UB (“A fresh start,” winter 2008). I have always believed that collaboration between disciplines will bring about the greatest achievements in the 21st century.
I teach seventh-grade science for the Ken-Ton School District and have students develop a research topic in science and then conduct the actual experiment and present the results. After reading your article, I think this project would better relate to students’ [individual] interests if it focused more on areas of study they plan on pursuing.

It would be wonderful if UB could extend the existing program in a scaled-down format to the surrounding high school or middle school students. I know that students at these lower levels can be inspired easily; one encounter can literally change their lives. Most cannot conceptualize that research can be conducted in a huge variety of venues, so a community-outreach program like this could be very empowering!
Kenmore, NY

Quiz evokes memories of ’64 campus hoax

I just read the alumni magazine for winter 2008 and loved the “Are you a UB Brainiac?” quiz. I can’t believe you had a question about the Thallus of Marchantia—this brings back fun memories. Has there ever been an article written about what happened at the Buffalo airport during that incident in December 1964?

Thanks for all the chuckles the quiz brought me.
 Golden Valley, MN

Editor’s note: UB Today wrote of the legendary campus hoax for its sesquicentennial issue in 1996—perhaps it’s time for a retelling!


Some swimming styles were incorrectly described in the winter 2008 issue (“No Bull,” page 10). For correct descriptions, please see letter above from Jim Decker, EdM ’69 & EdB ’64, a member of the UB men’s swim team from 1960 to 1964.