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Winners in The Henrietta Lacks Foundation design contest

First things first: Congratulations to Holly Gaskamp (hollycopter) and Michael Lombardi (Amoeba Mike)!

Let me explain. The last two weeks have been a whirlwind while planning for the 102nd Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) held April 2-6 in Orlando, Florida. Having been invited by author Rebecca Skloot to serve on the board of The Henrietta Lacks Foundation, we used our recently-awarded 501(c)(3) status (non-profit charity) to host an exhibitor’s booth at the meeting.

Given the very short timeline between this IRS ruling and the meeting, I turned to you – dear readers – for graphic design expertise to fashion buttons and T-shirts to award at the meeting booth to promote the mission of the Foundation: “Helping those who’ve unknowingly made important contributions to science.”

Well, we were fortunate to receive a wave of entries into our contest and two designers were selected to imprint their designs on official HeLa Foundation paraphernalia.

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Elegant defense of the humanities by noted structural biologist

This crosspost first appeared on 20 November 2010 at the PLoS Blogs home of my free-range blog, Take As Directed.

I’m not in the protein crystallography field. Instead, the way that I came to learn of Gregory Petsko at Brandeis University was via a tweet from literary agent, Ted Weinstein, about an hour ago.

Ted’s tweet referred me to an open letter that Dr. Petsko wrote in Genome Biology

to the President of SUNY-Albany, George M. Philip. Now referred to as UAlbany, that state university campus announced six weeks ago that they were suspending admissions and eliminating several arts and humanities departments, including French, Italian, Classics, and the Theatre Arts.

President Philip himself earned a BA and MA in history from UAlbany and a JD from Western New England College School of Law. He became president of the university in 2009 after having been chief investment officer of the New York State Teachers Retirement System, described in his university bio as “one of the 10 largest public retirement funds in the nation, with more than 400,000 members and managed assets of $105 billion.”

Petsko, US National Academy of Sciences member and past-president of the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, crafted a simply beautiful defense of the value of broad university education. I’ll just direct you to read it because he is such a clear communicator with a quietly biting wit. In case you don’t have time right now, here’s one paragraph to give you the gestalt – Petsko uses as an example his own monthly column in Genome Biology:

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Another Award for Royce: Tar Heel of the Week

Royce W. Murray, 73, has taught chemistry for 50 years at UNC-Chapel Hill. Murray Hall, a building in the new $250 million science complex, honors his work. Photo by Harry Lynch/Raleigh News & Observer.

Royce Murray, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill chemistry professor recently recognized at the ACS National Meeting for his five decades of work, received another lofty award this weekend: The Raleigh News & Observer “Tar Heel of the Week.”

For folks outside the Research Triangle area, “Tar Heel” in this case does not refer just to University fans but rather all inhabitants of the state. The particular newspaper honor is bestowed weekly upon any citizen of the North Carolina who has made a significant impact on our diverse communities and raised the stature of our institutions and industries nationally and internationally.

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