Timuel Black, AM’54. (University of Chicago News Office)

University news

MBL’s successful Hunt, streamlined cancer research, Comer’s expanding pediatric trauma care, honors for diverse leaders and scholars, Hope for the future, and more.

A successful hunt for MBL

Geneticist Huntington Willard has been named president and director of the Marine Biological Laboratory, effective January 1. Previously director of the Duke Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy, Willard also received a UChicago faculty appointment in human genetics. President Robert J. Zimmer, who also chairs the MBL Board of Trustees, said “Hunt Willard is an outstanding scholar and a proven scientific leader who has created programs that have earned international respect.” The Duke University institute he led for 11 years attracted faculty members from departments spanning life sciences, engineering, medicine, social sciences, and the humanities. Willard succeeds Joan Ruderman, who oversaw the MBL’s 2013 affiliation with the University of Chicago.

Uncommon data commons

Research projects funded by the National Cancer Institute have collected genomic data on tumor types from more than 10,000 patients, but that information is scattered in different locations and formats. Announced in December, an NCI collaboration with the University of Chicago Medicine to create the nation’s most comprehensive computation facility attempts to solve that problem and streamline cancer research. The NCI Genomic Data Commons expands access for scientists around the country, making the information available to researchers regardless of their institution’s size or budget. With the GDC, says Conrad Gilliam, the Biological Sciences Division’s dean for basic science, “discovery processes that today would require many years, millions of dollars, and the coordination of multiple research teams could literally be performed in days, or even hours.”

Expanding pediatric trauma care

UChicago Medicine has begun the formal process of raising the age limit of its pediatric trauma care program at Comer Children’s Hospital to include 16- and 17 -year-olds. Under Illinois Department of Health code, pediatric trauma centers are typically certified to treat patients up to age 15. UChicago Medicine leaders are working with state, county, and city officials to raise the age limit in its level 1 trauma center to correspond with an increase to 17 this past summer for nontrauma patients at Comer’s emergency department. University of Chicago Medical Center president Sharon O’Keefe said she expects the process, which includes the hiring of additional doctors and staff, to be complete within a year.

Dedicated to diversity

Timuel Black, AM’54, who worked alongside Martin Luther King Jr. during the civil rights movement, will receive the University of Chicago 2015 Alumni Diversity Leadership Award. He joins staff honoree Veronica Hauad, director of Equity and Access Programming and senior associate director of admissions, and the inaugural faculty recipient, Cathy Cohen, the political science department chair. A grandchild of former slaves, Black solidified his commitment to social justice during a tour of newly liberated German concentration camps as an Army soldier in World War II. Cohen, the David and Mary Winton Green Professor of Political Science, studies race and gender and serves as principal investigator for the Black Youth Project. Hauad, a first-generation college graduate, spearheads the No Barriers initiative, which helps ease financial and administrative burdens that prevent qualified students from attending college.

Miranda named operations VP, CFO

Rowan Miranda, AM’87, PhD’92, has been named the University’s vice president for operations and chief financial officer. In this role he helps lead the University’s integrated strategic financial planning and oversees its financial operations. Joining the administration in March 2014, Miranda became interim chief financial officer in August after the departure of Nim Chinniah. Previously the associate vice president for finance at the University of Michigan and an executive partner at Accenture, he has held several faculty appointments, including at Chicago Harris.

That winning feeling

Varsity teams in football, women’s soccer, and men’s soccer enjoyed winning seasons last fall and earned additional accolades. Women’s soccer went 15–5–1 and reached the round of 16 in the NCAA Division III Championship; fourth-year Sara Kwan was named First Team All-Central Region and Third Team All-American by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America. Men’s soccer had records of 11–5–2 overall and 5–0–2 in the University Athletic Association, earning them an automatic bid for the championship tournament. And the football team went 8–1 with its defense ranked nationally in Division III in first down defense (No. 3), turnover margin (No. 7), total defense (No. 8), and other categories.

Hope for the future

Fourth-year Hope Bretscher believes that cheap, clean energy is a human right—a necessity, she says, “for people to obtain other human rights, like health care and education.” She will use a Marshall Scholarship to do graduate work in physics that has the potential to promote those rights. Next fall Bretscher, the 21st Marshall Scholar from UChicago since 1987, will pursue a master’s in science and technology in society at the University of Edinburgh. The following year she will move to the University of Cambridge for a second master’s with a professor whose research includes expanding the power of solar cells.