Largest Ever Lilly Endowment Grant Creates Indiana Genomics Initiative
In the 20th century, physics transformed society and improved general well-being. In the 21st century, it will be biology, a trend that has already been marked by this year’s unveiling of the complete sequencing of the human genetic code by the Human Genome Project, which occurred five years earlier than expected.
A $105 million three-year grant from Lilly Endowment Inc., the largest ever received by Indiana University and the largest single gift ever awarded by LEI, has positioned IU to take a commanding role in the next step, the promising field of genomics research. Genomics goes beyond mapping a raw sequence of data: the 60,000-100,000 genes in the human body. It involves understanding how the genetic codes work and what the sequencing means. Such discoveries would drive unprecedented changes in our ability to cure diseases and improve health.
The primary objective of the Indiana Genomics Initiative (INGEN) is to tackle such questions. It builds strategically on assets already in place at IU: a skilled cadre of scientists and technologists, our new School of Informatics, the Lilly Endowment-funded Indiana Pervasive Computing Research Initiative, the Regenstrief Medical Record System (funded in part by the Regenstrief Institute for Health Care), supercomputers, 3-D visualization labs, and the Advanced Research and Technology Institute’s ability to promote transfer of research knowledge to practical biomedical applications through patents and licensing.
Together these resources offer a unique combination of critical capabilities: the ability to capture and analyze vast amounts of data involving complex, detailed information on both large numbers of patients and on how tens of thousands of individual genes affect cellular and other functions in the human body.
IU President Myles Brand said, “The project will illustrate on a grand scale the truth that IU's excellence is a public resource. That means we not only have an obligation to educate the state's citizens but to improve their quality of life and help create a 21st-century Hoosier economy. INGEN will enable us to do that in new and exciting ways.”
The Power of Two
Prompted by several recent news items, the rest of this letter is devoted in significant part to current examples of the IU/Purdue collaboration that is a defining characteristic of IUPUI.
$2.7 million Gift to IU and Purdue Aids Joint Spinal Cord Injury Research
Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s Mari Hulman George has contributed $2.7 million for endowed professorships in the Purdue School of Veterinary Medicine's Institute for Applied Neurology and the IU School of Medicine's Division of Neurosurgery. Her gift augments state funding of $1 million annually for two years, which was designated to provide stable operating funds for IU and Purdue in joint activities that create a bridge between basic science research and care of patients suffering spinal cord and head injuries.
The Federal Drug Administration has approved the Indiana University School of Medicine Head and Spinal Cord Injury Center at IUPUI as a site for the first human clinical trial of a new treatment for spinal cord injuries based on ones developed at Purdue for dogs suffering paralysis. The human clinical trial will test whether weak electrical fields applied to spinal cord injuries can promote better functional recovery through regeneration of injured spinal cord nerve fibers.
Purdue and IU Schools at IUPUI Offer Computer Information Systems Major Jointly
The U.S. Commerce Department estimates that more than1 million new information technology workers – including systems analysts and programmers – will be needed by 2003. The Midwest has the highest demand, according to the Information Technology Association of America. Supplying enough qualified workers will be an increasingly challenging task.
A new computer information systems major, a collaboration between the IU Kelley School of Business and the computer and information science department in the Purdue School of Science at IUPUI, hopes to help fill that need so that Indiana area employers will have a better chance of hiring graduates interested in jobs involving both management and technical skills.
This new departmental major follows on the heels of other university efforts to meet the growing demand for computer information systems and information technology skills, alone or in combination with other majors.
For example, IUPUI started admitting students to its “new media” program in the fall of 1998. This fall, it became part of the new IU School of Informatics, based at both Indianapolis and Bloomington, the first new school established at Indiana University in more than 25 years.
To help support the new School of Informatics, IU is seeking $16 million in 2001-2003 operating appropriations as its highest budget priority from the Indiana General Assembly.
Relief for Highway Construction Project Management Coming down the Pike
Thanks to a new class offered this fall in the Purdue School of Engineering and Technology at IUPUI, construction technology students can develop special expertise that would provide much-needed project managers for highway construction sites. Professor Hadi Yamin decided to offer the class after a survey of public street departments and private construction firms showed that such skills are in short supply. The class, the first of its kind to be offered at the school, enrolled 15 working engineers and technologists, as well as undergraduate students.
Traffic flow, highway drainage, pavement design, the bidding process, and quality control were among the topics covered. It will be offered again next semester to students with academic or work experience equivalent to junior standing.
Engineering Students Modify Toy Jeep to Accommodate Boy’s Special Needs
For Mike Venne and Scott Blackwell, students in the Purdue School of Engineering and Technology at IUPUI, completing their senior design project meant more than just a grade; it meant independence for a six-year-old boy with severely limited mobility.
Ian Farrar has never walked, much less run. With only partially developed limbs, the only way he can move himself at all is to roll short distances. As part of an ongoing program to aid disabled children, the students modified a battery-operated jeep, donated by toy manufacturer Peg Perego. Using his fully formed right arm, Ian can grasp a joy stick and drive the vehicle.
“Most engineering students have analytical minds,” said Chuck Dietzen, Ian's doctor and clinical assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation in the IU School of Medicine, “but this gives them the opportunity to use their hearts.” Dr. Dietzen matches IUPUI engineering students with children who need, but cannot afford, special devices. All materials are donated.
Ian’s story and the students’ project, which involved both electrical and mechanical engineering expertise, were featured in the December 8, 2000, issue of the Indianapolis Star.
Long Lost Vietnam-Era Works by Combat Artist on Display at Indianapolis Art Center
Our mission,” says Richard Emery Nickolson (Specialist 4th Class, U.S. Army Combat Artist Team XI), “was simply to document military and civilian life in Southeast Asia in 1970-1971. The only stipulation was not to do anything which would go against our consciences or our integrity as artists. Without this, there is no real power of documentation or true witnessing.”
Nickolson, who has been a professor of painting and drawing in the IU Herron School of Art at IUPUI since 1973, was drafted while in graduate school at IU and became a member of the Vietnam Combat Artist/ Illustrator Program. Unfortunately, the works of Nickolson and his Vietnam-era colleagues were lost while sitting on a dock in Bangkok, waiting to be shipped back to the United States. Some 30 years later, art collector and Navy Seals veteran Dr. Christopher Stack found some of them at the Center for Military History and arranged for the recovered works displayed at the Indianapolis Art Center, 820 E. 67th Street, until January 7. For more information, call (317) 255-2464 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Christmas Cheer and Cheers at IUPUI
Each Christmas, the occupants of the IUPUI Administration Building are treated to the singing of Christmas carols by children enrolled in IUPUI’s child care center. With the opening of the new IUPUI Center for Young Children, and its increased capacity, the number of carolers has outgrown our lobby where their annual concerts take place. This year, we left our offices to visit them instead and hear the children’s always exuberant renditions of holiday songs.
The children, however, have not yet learned the lyrics to “Let's Go Jags!” – IUPUI’s new collegiate fight song. Accompanied by IUPUI's pep band, the IU Singing Hoosiers and the Purdue Musical Organization debuted the new fight song in November, at our basketball season tip-off luncheon. Gary Fry, a talented composer from Chicago, wrote the words and music, including this verse, my personal favorite:
We're raising by the power of two
Both Indiana and Purdue
Doubly strong, we're ever true
Gerald L. Bepko