Med School Receives Gates Grants

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation recently awarded Weill Cornell Medical College two $100,000 grants as part of its Grand Challenges Explorations initiative. The five-year, $100 million initiative — which awards grants on a competitive basis — aims to foster and advance innovative solutions to complex diseases and other medical conditions.
In order to receive funding, researchers needed to submit two page proposals outlining why their project takes an unconventional or creative approach to solving medical problems.

C.U. Rejects Proposal For Honorary Degrees

Cornell’s longstanding tradition of not granting honorary degrees came into discussion again earlier this year when David Hajjar, dean of the Weill Cornell Medical College, proposed that the medical school be exempt from this policy to grant honorary doctorates of science. In May, the Faculty Senate voted against it.
Honorary degrees, which are conferred upon non-graduates, are a way of recognizing extraordinary achievements in public service or within a specific academic field. Such degrees are most commonly doctorates, and the recipients are selected through a faculty nomination process.

Weill Qatar’s First Dean and Pioneer Retires Post

After 43 years as professor and administrator of the Weill Cornell Medical College, Dr. Daniel R. Alonso announced his retirement as dean of the school’s Qatar campus. When he leaves this January, he will be replaced by Deputy Dean Dr. Javaid Sheikh. Alonso’s retirement comes shortly after the graduation of WCMC-Q’s first class in May.
“He brought really bold vision to the project,” said Dr. Carol Storey-Johnson, senior associate dean of education, WCMC in Manhattan. “He had faith in the project at a time when people weren’t sure it would work.”

C.U. Researcher Critical of New HIV Treatment

A Cornell medical researcher has been vindicated in his claim that a recently-released HIV vaccine would be unsuccessful after the drug was pulled last month from the market in South Africa.
Dr. Kendall A. Smith of Cornell Weill Medical College explained that the leading pharmaceutical company Merck’s vaccine went on to Stage II testing in South Africa because “the vaccine had no adverse affects in Stage I.”
Smith described that testing the effectiveness of this and all HIV vaccines is so difficult because there is no animal model for HIV. While doctors do test some vaccines on monkeys, because they have SIV (which affects simians as opposed to humans) it is difficult to find matching cures.

Weill Cornell Research Findings Link Nicotine, Atherosclerosis

Nearly 70.3 million Americans over 12 years of age used tobacco at least once a month in 2004 according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. This statistic is of increasing concern, as findings recently published by researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College linked nicotine and atherosclerosis.
Nicotine, the addictive ingredient found in tobacco, stimulates reward pathways and releases certain neurotransmitters in the brain, according to the NIDA. These events lead to feelings of pleasure which shortly dissipate, creating a powerful addiction.
Not only is nicotine highly addictive, but it also presents other serious health risks.