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UB Today

A publication of the University at Buffalo Alumni Association

Fall 2008





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University News

Multimillion dollar gifts to grow university

Jeremy M. Jacobs and his wife, Margaret. Jeremy M. Jacobs and his wife, Margaret. Photo: Douglas Levere, BA ’89

John N. Kapoor, PhD ’72. John N. Kapoor, PhD ’72. Photo: Douglas Levere, BA ’89

Two recent landmark gifts promise to propel the university in its current efforts to grow by 40 percent between now and 2020.

Jeremy M. Jacobs, his wife, Margaret, and family gave a $10 million gift to establish the Jacobs Institute, which will support research and clinical collaboration on the causes, treatment and prevention of heart and vascular diseases. The Jacobs’ gift is the largest single gift ever to UB and makes the Jacobs family the university’s most generous donor, with gifts totaling $18.4 million.

The gift was made in honor of the late Lawrence D. Jacobs, a world-renowned medical pioneer and the brother of Jeremy Jacobs. Lawrence Jacobs was chair of the Department of Neurology in UB’s School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and chief of neurology at Buffalo General Hospital at the time of his death in 2001.

John N. Kapoor, PhD ’72, has made a $5 million investment in the UB School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences through the John and Editha Kapoor Charitable Foundation. The gift will support construction of a new home for the pharmacy school, as well as faculty research, student financial aid and an emerging technologies fund.

Kapoor’s gifts to UB total more than $10.8 million. In light of this generosity, the university will name the new home for the school of pharmacy on the South Campus John Kapoor Hall. This building is the former Acheson Hall, which is being retrofitted.

University News

UB a ‘great place to work’

UB is rated very highly as a “great place to work” by the Chronicle of Higher Education in a national survey of the quality of the academic workplace. According to the Chronicle, UB is ranked in the top five in eight different ranking categories among large research universities of 2,500 or more employees. The categories include health insurance, compensation and benefits, tenure clarity and process, collaborative governance, housing assistance programs, career development, research and scholarship, vacation or time off, and post-retirement benefits.

The results are based on responses from more than 15,000 administrators, faculty members and staff members at 89 colleges and universities. The rankings were compiled for the Chronicle’s “2008 Great Colleges to Work For.” Scott Nostaja, UB interim vice president of human resources, has led the UB HR Transformation Initiative. “Our goal is to create a culture of excellence at UB in everything we do,” Nostaja says. “In the same way that excellence in research and scholarship is part of the UB culture, creating an excellent workplace for faculty, staff and students has become a priority at UB.”

Breaking Research

Scientific glow worms

glow worms

Scientists at UB have created a mutant worm that changes color when it moves.

The color change is generated by an optical sensor called stFRET. The sensor is composed of a pair of fluorescent molecules connected by a molecular spring that is inserted into structural proteins in the worm’s cells. When the worm is prodded, stretching the structural proteins in muscle fibers, the linking spring is stretched, and the worm fluoresces in a different color. The color change is observable using a confocal microscope.

The fluorescence indicates the amount of mechanical stress in the host protein, and this can be imaged in different parts of a cell or an organism. This development opens the door to studying in real time pathological processes that are influenced by changes in mechanical stress, such as cardiac arrhythmias, muscular dystrophy and brain tumors.

“Mechanical forces are part of the life cycle of all cells, whether they are protozoa, morning glories or ballet dancers,” says Frederick Sachs, SUNY Distinguished Professor and senior author on the paper describing this development.

The study was published in the June 2008 issue of FEBS Journal, the journal of the Federation of European Biochemical Societies.

UB By the Numbers

UB Today Green Circulation Campaign

a stack of magazines

Previous circulation
Readers choosing online edition exclusively over print version
Current circulation
Total mailing reduction
“Blue” readers opting to still receive the magazine*

* Some readers long out of contact with the university received a blue wrap asking them to affirm their free subscription or they would no longer receive UB Today.

University News

Exploring the Arts

Middle school students Photo: Nancy J. Parisi

Middle school students let loose their creativity while painting on fabric July 8 during a session of Explore the Arts, the annual theatrical summer arts program run by the Center for the Arts. Other sessions focused on stage design, scenery construction and scenery painting.

UB People

Marathon mathletes

math Photo: Michael Gelen, JD ‘88

Two UB graduates who spent 96 hours solving a complex, mathematical modeling problem last semester received multiple awards in the international 2008 Mathematical Contest in Modeling, in which 1,162 teams competed from universities around the world.

The UB team of Amy Evans and Tracy Stepien was one of nine teams to be awarded an Outstanding Winner designation, placing the team’s work in the top 1 percent of all papers submitted. They also received the Ben Fusaro Award, named for the founder of the contest; and the SIAM prize given by the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics.

“Amy and Tracy brought to the contest a perfect combination of knowledge, abilities and skills; principles and techniques of applied math, computer programming, reading and writing extremely well under pressure, and excellent time management,” says John Ringland, UB professor of mathematics and faculty adviser.

UB People

Award honors developers of drug that helps premature babies breathe

math Bruce (left) and Edmund Eagan

UB has created an annual Faculty Entrepreneur Award to recognize faculty who demonstrate the vision and perseverance to translate their discoveries and inventions into products that save lives, relieve suffering or otherwise improve the well-being of individuals and communities.

The first UB Faculty Entrepreneur Award was presented at UB Business Partners Day 2008 to Edmund Egan, president and chief executive officer of ONY Inc. and UB professor of pediatrics, physiology and biophysics; and co-inventor Bruce Holm, executive director of UB’s New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences and UB professor of pediatrics, gynecology-obstetrics and pharmacology.

In 1985, Egan and Holm formed ONY Inc. based on the work of academic scientists from UB, the University of Rochester and the University of Western Ontario. The company was formed to commercialize InfaSurf (calfactant), a lung surfactant Egan and Holm developed to prevent respiratory distress in premature babies, which in some cases can be fatal. InfaSurf was approved by the Food and Drug Administration and has been on the market since 1999. More than 250,000 premature babies throughout the U.S. have received InfaSurf to assist their breathing in the first critical hours after birth. Some of them owe their very survival to this product developed by UB researchers.

Academic Insight

By design

math CultuurNacht, 2003

In July the UB Art Gallery presented an exhibition featuring graphic posters and an interactive multimedia installation by NLXL, a design studio for visual communication and interaction design based in The Hague.

Ben Van Dyke, assistant professor in the UB Department of Visual Studies, organized the NLXL exhibition in conjunction with TypeCon2008. The internationally recognized typography conference, hosted in Buffalo this summer, was organized by Richard Kegler, MA ’94.

NLXL experiments with the possibilities of combining visual and interactive elements within single design solutions, including logos, corporate and visual identities, Web sites and Web identities, posters, animations, books, digital presentations, and other digital applications. Their diverse range of clients includes cultural groups (Royal Academy of Art, The Hague), corporations (Nike Europe) and media outlets (MTV).

University News

Oral history


StoryCorps, a national initiative to document everyday history and the unique stories of Americans, came to Buffalo this summer to collect the stories of Buffalo’s residents as part of its cross-country tour.

The StoryCorps mobile StoryBooth—an Airstream trailer outfitted with a recording studio—was parked alongside the Central Branch of the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library through July and August.

StoryCorps partnered with WBFO 88.7 FM, Western New York’s leading NPR station and a major public service of UB, which will air a selection of the local stories. Selected segments also may air nationally on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Since its launch in 2003, StoryCorps’ recording studios have collected more than 18,000 stories. At the StoryBooth, interviews are conducted between two people who know each other. With their permission, a recording of the interview becomes part of an archive at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress for future generations to hear.

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