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‘Code Red,’ Howard Center’s Inaugural Project, Wins Top Professional Award For Innovative Storytelling

November 8, 2019
Contacts: 

Josh Land joshland@umd.edu 301-405-1321

COLLEGE PARK, Md The University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism and NPR were named the 2019 recipients of the National Press Foundation’s Innovative Storytelling Award on Wednesday for the first project by the new Howard Center for Investigative Journalism, “Code Red: Baltimore’s Climate Divide.” 

The multimedia project explored the effects of rising temperatures on the health and lives of the residents of “urban heat islands” in Baltimore. It premiered in September on Merrill College’s Capital News Service, NPR, Baltimore’s WMAR-TV and the Associated Press.

“ ‘Code Red’ put the future of journalism on display, with its data visualizations, motion graphics and sensor technology, illustrating how young journalists can use new techniques and methods to serve communities,” Dean Lucy Dalglish said.

The NPF judges cited those methods in their decision.

“The student journalists involved with this project literally built new tools — hardware to collect hard data — that tracked temperatures over time to get a sense of the stultifying impact of summer in the city,” the NPF judges said. “The brilliance of their innovation may offer early tea leaves of how innovation will drive the future of newsrooms. The ‘Code Red’ project, done in collaboration with NPR, also gave readers a peek behind the scenes to see how journalism works.”

“Code Red” brought together professional reporters and students in the Merrill College with experts from across the University of Maryland. Baltimore-based Wide Angle Youth Media’s students also contributed by writing blog posts, working as photojournalists and helping build the sensors used in the project. 

Led by Howard Center Director Kathy Best and Capital News Service Managing Director Marty Kaiser, the months-long investigation examined the impact of excessive heat on the lives and health of residents of urban heat islands, who are generally poor and racial minorities. The findings were presented in stories, photos, graphics, videos and interactives.

"We are beyond thrilled with this recognition for the inaugural project of the Howard Center,” Best and Kaiser said in a joint statement. “It defined the power of collaboration — with UMD's student-powered Capital News Service, with nationwide media partner NPR, with Wide Angle Youth Media's creative students, with experts in the Schools of Engineering and Public Health at UMD, and with our incredibly talented faculty and students, who built the trust on the streets of Baltimore that made our innovative storytelling possible. 

“We hope this project illuminated for readers the disproportionate toll the climate crisis already is taking, giving them more informed voices for future public policy debates.”

Howard Center data editor Sean Mussenden and assistant professor Krishnan Vasudevan taught students and members of the community to build low-cost sensors to gather temperature and humidity data from inside Baltimore homes, inspired by a project done in New York.

“The project produced startling data that the ‘Code Red’ team used as the foundation to tell an important story about heat, inequality and the climate crisis,” Mussenden said.

Through an additional $50,000 grant from ONA, Merrill College will share its “Code Red” sensor technology as well as its data and reporting methodology at no cost with news organizations or community groups throughout the country that want to explore the impact the climate crisis is having in their backyards.

NPR produced stories based on the partnership that aired on “All Things Considered” and “Morning Edition.” 

“We’re particularly proud of the way our team and the Howard Center’s journalists worked together to produce something so engaging and important,” NPR senior investigations editor Robert Little said. “Collaborations like this are key to NPR’s strategy to serve its audience, and we’re excited to do more.”

The AP distributed the project nationwide; stories appeared on more than 700 national and regional news websites, including The Washington Post and ABC News

The Baltimore Sun also published the full project.

“Code Red” was supported by the Scripps Howard Foundation and grants from the Park Foundation, the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Online News Association’s Challenge Fund for Innovation in Journalism Education.

“All of us at the Scripps Howard Foundation and The E.W. Scripps Company are proud of the important work being done at the Howard Center,” Scripps Howard Foundation CEO/President Liz Carter said. “ ‘Code Red’ exemplifies the kind of innovative reporting that legendary newsman and Howard Center namesake Roy W. Howard championed.”

The award will be presented at the NPF’s annual journalism awards dinner Feb. 13 at the Marriott Marquis hotel in Washington. The winner will also present at an educational event to explain and share the innovation behind the work.

This year marked the first since NPF merged its Innovative Storytelling Award with its Technology in Journalism Award. The Washington Post had won the previous three Innovative Storytelling awards, as well as the 2016 Technology in Journalism Award.

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Adulthood Milestones are Shifting and Charitable Behaviors Are Declining

November 7, 2019
Contacts: 

Kaitlin Ahmad, kaitlin@umd.edu (301) 405-6360  

Shifts in reaching, choosing, and acting on milestones that traditionally mark the transition to adulthood may help explain why charitable behaviors in the United States have declined even as more young adults exhibit a historically high interest in engaging in their community and are better educated, according to a new research brief released by The Do Good Institute. The report, Shifting Milestones, Fewer Donors and Volunteers, is available online at go.umd.edu/milestones.

Cumulatively, Shifting Milestones reviewed five traditional adulthood milestones: completing formal education, getting a job, marrying, becoming a parent, and living independently. Education attainment trends illustrates the important societal shifts explored. Roughly two-thirds of young adults (age 22 to 35) are or have pursued higher education today and educational attainment is more strongly associated with the likelihood of volunteering than any other demographic characteristic and is also strongly associated with the likelihood of charitable giving. However, as more young adults earn a college degree (from 28 percent in 2005 to 34 percent in 2015), the authors surprisingly finds a steady decline in volunteer rates among young adult college graduates from a high of 38.0 percent in 2003 to 31.2 percent in 2015 while giving declined from a high of 59.8 percent in 2011 to 55.7 percent in 2015.

“Young adults frequently need to gain experience and build strong community ties – through activities like owning a home, having children, and working full-time – before they become actively engaged contributors to civic activities,” said Nathan Dietz, Senior Researcher, Do Good Institute. “They also need awareness of opportunities and encouragement to participate in philanthropic activities – this is where the business community, nonprofit organizations, higher education institutions and even the government must play an active role to help turn around these downward trends.”

Among the report’s key findings are:

  • Young adult volunteering hit a high of 25.6 percent (2003) after the terrorist attacks on September 11 before displaying a substantial and long decline to a rate of 21.6 percent in 2015. If the volunteer rate had stayed at its 2003 levels, for example, an additional 2.42 million young adults would have volunteered in 2015.

 

  • Paid work helps strengthen social networks along with economic well-being and is strongly associated with volunteering and giving. The percent of young adults who were employed full-time actually decreased from 67.2 percent in 2005 to 63.4 percent in 2015, and the percent of young adults who are not in the labor force (not employed, but also not looking for work) has increased from 16.9 percent to 19.5 percent between 2005 and 2015. For young adults who are employed full-time, the volunteer rate has declined from 24.1 percent in 2005 to 22.0 percent in 2015, and the volunteer rate for young adults not in the labor force has declined from 22.3 percent in 2005 to 18.6 percent in 2015.

 

  • Marriage is strongly associated with volunteering and giving because it builds household wealth and socioeconomic status. As marriage rates continue to dive (from 45 percent in 2005 to 38 percent in 2015), so does the volunteer rate among married individuals.

 

  • Declining birthrates have important implications for philanthropy. Parenthood often introduces individuals to more civic invitations and opportunities. Shifting Milestones found that volunteer and giving rates today remain much higher for young adults who are parents (24.0 percent for volunteering and 46.8 percent for giving in 2015) than they are for non-parents (20.1 percent and 37.1 percent in 2015).

 

  • Young adults who live independently are much more likely to volunteer (25.4 percent versus 14.8 percent) and give to charity (43.1 percent versus 22.2 percent) than those living in someone else’s household. Between 2009 and 2015, the percentage of young adults who live independently declined (from 67.4 percent to 64.5 percent) as did volunteer rates among this group (from 27.1 percent to 25.4 percent).

 

  • Homeownership historically helps people build strong, lasting ties to one’s community. In 2015, among young adults living independently, homeowners were significantly more likely to volunteer (30.5 percent) and to give to charity (58.0 percent) than young adults who were responsible for paying the rent (21.2 percent volunteering, 39.8 percent giving). However, the homeownership rate for young adults living independently (42.0 percent) in 2015 was significantly lower than it was in 2009 (49.1 percent), and the percentage of independent-living young adults who chose to rent increased significantly, from 49.5 percent in 2009 to 56.1 percent in 2015.

 

“American life in the twenty-first century is changing in ways that often leave individuals less likely to give or volunteer,” said Robert T. Grimm, Levenson Family Chair in Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership and Do Good Institute Director. “While this signals a serious challenge for communities that benefit from volunteers and donors, these declining trends also impact our ability to construct ties, build relationships and develop bonds of trust, which can leave people feeling isolated, distrustful and in poorer physical and mental health.”

Shifting Milestones uses data featured in recent U.S. Census Bureau research and data collected from the Current Population Survey (CPS) Supplement on Volunteering (Volunteer Supplement). Between 2002 and 2015, the CPS Volunteer Supplement collected national statistics on volunteering through or for an organization. In 2008, the Supplement also began to collect data on giving to charity.

For more information or to download the report, visit go.umd.edu/milestones. To access the Appendix, click here.

 

UMD Celebrates Homecoming with Fireworks at Terp Carnival 2019

October 31, 2019
Contacts: 

Tiffany Blossom, tblossom@umd.edu 301-405-4535

 

 

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - On Friday, November 1 from 4 – 8 p.m., the University of Maryland will host its annual Terp Carnival on McKeldin Mall, offering games, prizes, entertainment, and food for students, alumni, families and community members.

 

The evening’s festivities will cap off with a beloved university tradition - a spectacular fireworks display over McKeldin Mall. UMD welcomes all guests to enjoy the show and to be advised of increased noise levels during the event. 

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About the University of Maryland

The University of Maryland, College Park is the state's flagship university and one of the nation's preeminent public research universities. A global leader in research, entrepreneurship and innovation, the university is home to more than 40,000 students, 10,000 faculty and staff, and 280 academic programs. As one of the nation’s top producers of Fulbright scholars, its faculty includes two Nobel laureates, three Pulitzer Prize winners and 57 members of the national academies. The institution has a $1.9 billion operating budget and secures $514 million annually in external research funding. For more information about the University of Maryland, College Park, visit www.umd.edu.

 

NIH Grants $3.4m to UMD to Study Effects of Foster Care

October 31, 2019
Contacts: 

Audrey Hill audreyh@umd.edu 301-405-3468

A $3.4 million grant award from the National Institutes of Health will support University of Maryland College of Education research assessing how foster care in early childhood influences children previously institutionalized as adults.

The study, led by Distinguished University Professor Nathan A. Fox, extends his long-term project following previously institutionalized children in Romania to compare outcomes between foster care and state-run institutions. It will evaluate whether the benefits of foster care—which alleviates some of the negative effects of early childhood adversity on cognitive, emotional and neurobiological processes—have continued into their adulthood.

“This project is important in terms of understanding the effects of adversity on long-term mental health and brain outcomes,” said Fox, of the Department of Human Development and Quantitative Methodology.

The award from the National Institute of Mental Health will provide five years of funding to support Fox’s ongoing research in Romania, which from the mid-1960s until 1990 under the rule of Nicolai Ceascescu had harsh policies outlawing abortion and contraception, and penalizing families for not having a large number of children. The policies resulted in significant child abandonment and extremely poor conditions in state-run institutions.

Fox first became involved in Romania around 1999, when the country banned international adoption. With the backing of the Romanian government, he started the Bucharest Early Intervention Project, which followed institutionalized children who were or were not placed—through a randomized control trial—in high-quality foster care. The Bucharest Early Intervention Project’s other co-leaders are Harvard Medical School’s Charles A. Nelson III, and Dr. Charles H. Zeanah Jr., of Tulane University School of Medicine.

The children ranged in age from 6-31 months when they entered foster care, and initial follow-up assessments were completed at 30, 42 and 54 months, with subsequent checkups at 8 ,12 and 16 years old. Among the project’s important findings so far: Foster care is critical in remediating many, but not all, of the detrimental effects of institutionalization. Additionally, the earlier foster care is received, the better the health and developmental outcomes for formerly institutionalized children.

“The timing matters,” Fox said. “So that the earlier the child is taken out, particularly before the age of 2 the more likely that remediation is to take place.” The NIH grant will facilitate study of the children at age 21 to determine if the positive influence of foster care has held up in adulthood. The project, ongoing for 20 years,[1]  originally included 136 children, and Fox has maintained contact with 120 of them, most of whom still reside in Romania.

“What we want to know is whether or not the effects of our early intervention persist as these kids leave the institutions and go off to start families of their own,” Fox said. “So now that these 21-year-olds are adults, how’re they adapting to life outside the institution?”

Fox will use behavioral data amassed over the course of the project as well as neuroimaging technology to evaluate measures of cognitive, social and emotional functioning. Other studies of early childhood adversity have yet to examine these factors over such a long period of time, Fox said. 

“There are about 8 million infants and children who are now living in institutions around the world,” Fox said. “The study not only has policy implications for the United States, but also policy implications around the world.”

 

 

Maryland Breaks Ground on New School of Public Policy Building

October 29, 2019
Contacts: 

Natifia Mullings, 301-405-4076

Rendering of School of Public Policy Building

College Park, Md.--The University of Maryland, along with state and local officials, gathered today to celebrate the groundbreaking of the School of Public Policy building. The 70,000 square-foot academic building, designed for the critical exploration of the world’s most pressing issues, will bring together — for the first time in one facility— the School’s five research and policy impact centers and institutes: the Center for Global Sustainability, the Center for International & Security Studies at Maryland, the Center for Public Policy & Private Enterprise, the National Center for Smart Growth, and the Do Good Institute.

“This new building will accommodate the school’s rapid growth in students headed for public policy leadership in the national, international, non-profit, and philanthropic sectors,” said University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh. “Along with its unique curriculum, research leadership, and proximity to the nation’s capital, this building will help propel the school to become one of the very best in the country.”

“This building will be a new home for deliberation and discussion on campus,” added School of Public Policy Dean Robert C. Orr. “It will allow us to continue developing leaders trained in the art of policy and governance, who will go out into the world to do good.”

Located just steps from the forthcoming Purple Line light-rail station on Baltimore Avenue, the School of Public Policy building will feature a range of uniquely designed spaces for collaboration, an innovative assembly chamber, and an atrium that will serve as a center of activity and meeting place. The atrium will display digital screens for news and feature stacked seminar rooms and additional spaces for study and collaboration. The building’s library and rooftop terrace will offer scenic views of Chapel Field and beyond. 

As the hub of the nation’s first Do Good campus, the building will also house the new Do Good Hall of Fame and Do Good Plaza. 

In addition to being a facility where more than 90 faculty members and over 1,000 undergraduate and graduate students will research and impact public policy locally and globally, the School of Public Policy building will host influential policy leaders, providing a place for the community to interact and engage with experts and practitioners from around the world.

Today’s groundbreaking celebration is part of an ongoing effort toconnect the university community to policymakers in the state of Maryland and beyond. Speakers included Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., president of the Maryland Senate, Adrienne A. Jones, speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates,  James D. Fielder Jr., Maryland Secretary of Higher Education, and Bob Caret, chancellor of the University System of Maryland.

"The University of Maryland continues to educate and inspire the next generation of leaders,” said Miller. “The new School of Public Policy building will provide students with an incredible opportunity to be a part of solutions that will impact the State, as well as the world."

The School of Public Policy building is expected to open in 2022. For more information and hi-res renderings, visit spp.umd.edu.

 

UMD and The Phillips Collection present International Forum in Washington

October 18, 2019
Contacts: 

Hayley Barton hbarton@phillipscollection.org 202-387-2151

Alana Carchedi Coyle acarched@umd.edu 301-405-0235

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Academic and artistic partners The Phillips Collection and the University of Maryland (UMD) will present the International Forum in Washington on Thursday, November 14, 2019, 7 pm, highlighting a weekend of programming and outreach to commemorate Veterans Day and our nation’s veterans. 

 

The Phillips Collection’s annual International Forum stems from the institution’s aim to catalyze global conversations through the language of modern art, a central unifying theme of the museum’s programming and exhibitions. These conversations deliberately stretch beyond the walls of the museum to consider urgent issues of our time—from racial identity, philanthropic impact, and climate change. This year’s program, aligned with a key institutional theme of art and wellness, brings together medical experts, veterans, academics, and artists to discuss the impact that art and art therapies can have on the lives of veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), and other physical or psychological health conditions.

The program will include presentations by Jane Chu, Art Advisor for PBS, in conversation with Capt. Sara Kass, MD, Military and Medical Advisor, Creative Forces: NEA Military Healing Arts Network. Also joining the conversation will be veterans Army Sgt. Zach Herrick, founder of American Heroes HeART and Ben King, founder of Armor Down. 

“Creating dialogue around issues that impact our nation is a theme that runs deep within our mission, along with providing a platform for visitors to have meaningful and compelling experiences. This year’s International Forum aims to generate conversations around these topics and reflect our gratitude to the members of our armed forces for their service,” said Vradenburg Director and CEO Dorothy Kosinski.

"Conditions facing veterans like post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury are often studied and highlighted within science and medical disciplines. This year's International Forum is taking an innovative approach by bringing together experts from all fields–medicine, academia, arts, and veterans themselves–to engage in challenging conversations about these important topics," said UMD Senior Vice President and Provost Mary Ann Rankin

ABOUT JANE CHU

Jane Chu was the 11th chairperson for the National Endowment for the Arts and now serves as the Arts Advisor for PBS. During her four years at the NEA, she managed grants on local and state levels and the agency awarded $430 million over her tenure. She helped grow the NEA’s Creative Forces Military Healing Arts Network. Previously she worked at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City, Union Station Kansas City, the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation, and the Kauffman Fund.

 

ABOUT SARA KASS

Sara Kass is Creative Force’s Senior Military and Medical Advisor. Dr. Kass retired from the Navy in March 2015 after serving as the Deputy Commander of the National Intrepid Center of Excellence (NICoE) at Walter Reed Medical Center. While serving at NICoE, she witnessed the healing power of the arts. Driven to increase access to these powerful services for military members and veterans as well as enhance research to understand their impact, Dr. Kass partnered with the NEA to develop and implement Creative Forces.  Today she remains a strong advocate and leader for the initiative.

ABOUT ZACH HERRICK

Zach Herrick is a veteran, advocate, public speaker, and artist who has earned a Purple Heart. Shortly after joining the US Army and three months into his deployment in Afghanistan, his platoon was ambushed; amid the attack, Herrick was shot in the face. During his rehabilitation at Walter Reed Medical Center he used art to recover and heal from his trauma. Herrick now uses his artistic knowledge and passion to help other combat-wounded men and women reframe trauma through the act of creating art with his foundation American Heroes HeART. 

 

ABOUT BEN KING

Ben King is a public speaker, community organizer, and veteran. After serving in Iraq as an Army Psychological Operations Team Leader, he founded Armor Down to help returning soldiers reintegrate into civilian life. He is the Senior Vice Commander for the Virginia Department of the Military Order of the Purple Heart and for six consecutive years has led Mindful Memorial Day at the Women’s Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery honoring post 9/11 fallen service members. He is also a contributing author in numerous books and publications including National Geographic. King earned a Purple Heart and the Meritus Military Service Medal during the Iraq War.

 

THE PHILLIPS COLLECTION AND THE UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND PARTNERSHIP

The Phillips Collection and the University of Maryland partnership aims to dramatically transform scholarship and innovation in the arts. Together, the Phillips will expand its education programs, and reach new and diverse audiences while UMD will grow its established scholarship and academic programs within the arts and provide unparalleled research and education opportunities for UMD faculty and students.

Admission for the event is $12; free for students and Phillips members. Tickets for the event can be purchased at https://www.phillipscollection.org/events/2019-11-14-international-forum 

ABOUT THE PHILLIPS COLLECTION

The Phillips Collection, America’s first museum of Modern art, presents one of the world’s most distinguished Impressionist and American Modern art collections. Including paintings by Renoir and Rothko, Bonnard and O'Keeffe, van Gogh, Diebenkorn, Daumier and Lawrence, among others, the museum continues to actively collect new acquisitions, many by contemporary artists such as Wolfgang Laib, Whitfield Lovell, Zilia Sánchez, and Leo Villareal. Its distinctive building combines extensive new galleries with the former home of its founder, Duncan Phillips. The Phillips’s impact spreads nationally and internationally through its highly distinguished special exhibitions, programs, and events that catalyze dialogue surrounding the continuity between art of the past and the present. Among the Phillips’s esteemed programs are its award-winning education programs for educators, students, and adults; well-established Phillips Music series; and sell-out Phillips after 5 events. The museum contributes to the art conversation on a global scale with events like Conversations with Artists and the International Forum. The Phillips Collection values its community partnerships with the University of Maryland—the museum’s nexus for academic work, scholarly exchange, and interdisciplinary collaborations—and THEARC—the museum’s new campus serving the Southeast DC community. The Phillips Collection is a private, non-government museum, supported primarily by donations. 

ABOUT THE UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND

The University of Maryland, College Park is the state's flagship university and one of the nation's preeminent public research universities. A global leader in research, entrepreneurship and innovation, the university is home to more than 40,000 students, 10,000 faculty and staff, and 280 academic programs. As one of the nation’s top producers of Fulbright scholars, its faculty includes two Nobel laureates, three Pulitzer Prize winners and 58 members of the national academies. The institution has a $2.1 billion operating budget and secures $514 million annually in external research funding. For more information about the University of Maryland, College Park, visit www.umd.edu.

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NIH Awards UMD $1.67M for Research on Reducing Bias and Promoting Diverse Friendships in Childhood

October 16, 2019
Contacts: 

Audrey Hill, audreyh@umd.edu 301-405-3468

COLLEGE PARK, MD—A $1.67 million grant from the National Institutes of Health will support University of Maryland College of Education research that promotes children’s friendships across different backgrounds and aims to reduce prejudice in childhood.  

The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development award will fund research to evaluate the effectiveness of a classroom program comparing whether participants hold fewer gender, racial and ethnic stereotypes, more cross-group friendships and a greater sense of school belonging than children in the control group. 

The four-year study will address issues of equity, fairness and mutual respect in peer relationships, and aims to foster positive classroom environments that stimulate academic learning and achievement in schools, with inclusivity among children playing a key role.

“This is a very timely issue right now in our culture and country,” said Melanie Killen, a professor in the Department of Human Development and Quantitative Methodology and the project lead. “There are tensions and crises about inclusion and exclusion based on race, ethnicity and immigrant status, to name a few. Stereotypes are deeply entrenched by adulthood. The time for intervention is in childhood.”

Previous research has shown that social segregation has long-term detrimental effects on children’s physical, emotional and academic development. The “Developing Inclusive Youth” project, which includes Tracy Sweet, associate professor in the Department of Human Development and Quantitative Methodology, is rooted in a three-year study funded by the National Science Foundation and led by Killen and Laura Stapleton, professor and associate dean of the college.

The research team’s in-classroom intervention program has students in grades 3–5 view a series of online, animated scenarios about peer social encounters. The first session, for instance, involves characters deciding whether to include a “new kid” in playing at recess; other scenarios include social interactions at a birthday party or in a science classroom that involve exclusion based on gender, race, ethnicity, immigrant status and wealth status.

Students are then asked to assess how they think the characters in the scenarios feel, evaluate decisions of peer inclusion or exclusion, and choose how they think the characters should react in the situation. Teachers, trained by the researchers, then facilitate classroom discussion about inclusivity based on the animated scenario. The discussion often results in students relating the scenario to real-life situations, Killen said.

“The science scenario, where a girl is excluded from a group project, came up in the classroom discussion and led one girl to tell the others that it was similar to when she wasn’t allowed to play soccer with the boys at recess. The boys said, ‘We didn’t know you wanted to play,’ and then publicly stated [in the classroom] that they’re going to help her. That’s a way to change norms and expectations,” she said.

The NIH grant will expand the “Developing Inclusive Youth” project beyond the feasibility study of 400 students in Montgomery County, Maryland, to additional schools in its public school system; the project has received interest from school systems in other states and countries as well. 

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University of Maryland Statement on Amicus Brief in Support of DACA - October 11, 2019

October 11, 2019
Contacts: 

Hafsa Siddiqi, hafsa@umd.edu, 301-405-4671

The University of Maryland has joined 164 colleges and universities across the nation to support a legal challenge to rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Filed in federal court last week and coordinated by the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, the amicus brief seeks to advocate for the rights of roughly 700,000 young immigrants to study and work in the United States under legal protection. The brief further argues that revoking DACA status for the thousands of students across private, public and community institutions is not only unethical but unconstitutional. 

 

“As institutions of higher education, we see every day the achievement and potential of these young people, and we think it imperative for both us and them that they be allowed to remain here and live out their dreams,” wrote the signatories in the brief. “Once at college or university, DACA recipients are among the most engaged students both academically and otherwise. They work hard in the classroom and become deeply engaged in co-curricular activities, supporting communities on and off-campus. Indeed, it defies rationality to prevent the government from utilizing its discretion to protect this set of young people from removal.” 

 

On Nov. 12, the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments on a series of consolidated cases and determine whether the administration’s rescission of DACA was lawful.

 

DACA recipients help build and nourish Maryland’s robust community, from their academic excellence in research and science to their entrepreneurial and industrial spirit through business and the arts. The university will continue to identify avenues for offering support to our DACA students and advocate for a restoration of their legal protections.  

UMD Researchers Discover New Mechanism in Liver that Helps Prevent Infections

October 9, 2019
Contacts: 
Samantha Watters 301-405-2434, Leon Tune 301-405-4679

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- A UMD team of researchers has made a breakthrough in understanding how our immune system deals with invasive fungal infections that are a major health threat, particularly to people who are immuno-compromized. Led by Meiqing Shi, associate professor with the University of Maryland Department of Veterinary Medicine, the researchers discovered a pathway in the liver by which immune system cells called macrophages capture  and “eat” fungi before the fungi spread to target organs like the brain and kidney. 

This pathway explains why individuals with liver disease have enhanced risk of fungal infection, and also points to possible new therapeutic options for preventing these infections, which annually kill some 1.5 million people.

“Under intravital microscopy [a  tool to study cell biology in living animals], we can directly see how the KCs catch fungi in real time,” said Shi. KCs (Kupffer cells) are liver-resident macrophages that constitute some 90 percent of the total tissue macrophages in the body.

“This is a protective mechanism that is working once the fungus becomes invasive, or gets into the bloodstream, to prevent it from spreading. Stopping the dissemination process throughout the body is so important, because once you get dissemination, you get the disease, Shi said. “These findings suggest therapeutic strategies for preventing dissemination, and this could be applied across many types of fungal infections, since they work in similar ways.”

Fungal infections affect 1.2 billion people globally each year. In the current paper, Shi and colleagues specifically examined two types of fungi - Cryptococcus neoformans and Candida albicans. Both of these fungi, if disseminated to their target organs (the brain for Cryptococcus and the kidney for Candida), are fatal infections that are very difficult to treat once contracted. Cryptococcus, for example, is the main cause of meningitis. Each year, more than a million people are infected and contract meningitis, and 60 percent of these will die from the disease. HIV infection is the main risk factor for cryptococcal meningoencephalitis, but the use of immunosuppressive drugs also increases patient susceptibility.

“Cryptococcus and Candida are fungi that are actually everywhere,” says Shi. “People with healthy immune systems can usually control the fungi after infection, but once it gets into the bloodstream, either one of these fungi can get into the target organs and become fatal. For Cryptococcus, this is especially a problem for those with impaired immune systems, like HIV patients or organ transplant patients. Patients with liver disease are also more prone to Cryptococcus infection, and no one understood why before.” 

This new discovery that liver macrophages (KCs) are responsible for catching free fungi in the bloodstream to prevent further dissemination helps explain this phenomenon, since if the liver is impaired as it is in patients with liver disease, it would stand to reason that this protective mechanism would also be impaired. 

“This finding is very interesting and very unusual, because in the field of fungal infections, nobody focuses on the liver,” says Shi. “Researchers tend to look at the target organs like the brain or kidney. The liver is not a target organ, but it tries to clean out the fungus in the bloodstream. As the whole body is connected, this paper gives a more whole system approach to how fungal dissemination interacts in the entire body.”

With this whole body approach in mind, the discovery of this mechanism has implications not just for those with liver disease, but for the treatment of fungal infections as a whole by targeting this mechanism, preventing fungal dissemination, and treating invasive fungal infections. 

The paper, entitled “Fungal dissemination is limited by liver macrophage filtration of the blood,” is published in Nature Communications, DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-12381-5

This work is funded by the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, grant AI131219. 

UMD Prevention Research Center to Focus on LGBTQ Mental Health with new $3.75M from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

October 8, 2019
Contacts: 

Kelly Blake, kellyb@umd.edu, 301-405-9418

The University of Maryland Prevention Research Center (UMD-PRC) is working to improve

mental health and health care for LGBTQ+ people with new funding from the U.S. Centers for

Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

 

Through a new cooperative agreement that supports a select group of national prevention

research centers, the CDC is funding the UMD-PRC’s research, service and training efforts with$3.75 million over five years (2019-2024).

 

“We are proud to be one of only 25 academic institutions to receive CDC funding for our

Prevention Research Center,” said Dr. Laurie Locascio, Vice President for Research at the

University of Maryland. “I am hopeful about the difference that our University of Maryland

research leaders can make in improving mental health for the underserved LGBTQ community across the United States.”

 

This initiative brings together a diverse team of researchers from the University of Maryland,

College Park’s School of Public Health, along with a growing coalition of LGBTQ+, mental health and health care organizations and community partners.

 

“The University of Maryland is a recognized leader in supporting LGBTQ health and wellbeing,” said Dr. Brad Boekeloo, a professor of behavioral and community health who is the director and principal investigator for the UMD Prevention Research Center. “In addition to our expertise in the School of Public Health, we have resources across the UMD campus, including the LGBT Equity Center, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the LGBTQ Studies Program and the College of Education to support us in our mission to address LGBTQ+ mental health disparities. We also have students, community partners and people from the communities we want to serve on our team. We’re all working together to serve and lift up the most vulnerable LGBTQ people.”

 

Beginning in 2009, the UMD Prevention Research Center focused on research to inform HIV

prevention plans and intervention programs in Maryland and the Washington, DC region. It will continue to partner with health departments and community organizations on its mission, now expanded to prioritize LGBTQ+ mental health and health care.

 

“The LGBTQ community faces significant barriers to health equity, ranging from policies and

practices that exclude rights and protections, to everyday experiences that are related to

discrimination, stigma and violence. These things keep LGBTQ people from living healthier lives,” said Dr. Jessica Fish, an assistant professor of family science and a core research scientist with the UMD-PRC. “So, the Prevention Research Center is dedicated to trying to elevate awareness, knowledge and competent training for mental health care providers so that it can be a pathway to wellness for this population.”

 

Among the UMD-PRC’s priorities, it will focus on implementing and evaluating a LGBTQ+ cultural competency training to equip mental health care providers with the sensitivity and knowledge needed to work with clients of diverse gender identities and sexual orientations. The curriculum, which has been developed by Sean Lare and Michael Vigorito, two clinicians who are part of the PRC team, includes a combination of training and technical. It has already been delivered in Washington, DC, Maryland, and Virginia by the UMD-PRC with a grant from the District of Columbia Department of Health over the last three years.

 

“I've heard the need from clinicians of how they can better support their LGB and transgender

clients and patients,” said Sean Lare, a licensed clinical social worker who specializes in serving LGBTQ+ individuals and their families. “My work with the PRC offers a unique opportunity to develop that training program piece that will increase that capacity for individual providers in their one-on-one work with people, but also to influence the culture of the agency or organization they are working within.”

 

The UMD-PRC will assess the success of these trainings and how well mental health providers improved in their LGBTQ+ cultural sensitivity and competence through simulated online clinic sessions using actors. In addition to training mental health care providers and serving as a hub to connect providers, researchers, and LGBTQ+ individuals and allies, the UMD-PRC team also aims to provide the scientific evidence to inform health systems, policies and practices that support LGBTQ health.

 

Topics that PRC research will provide evidence to inform may include:

 

  • The creation of health insurance policies that are more inclusive of LGBT individuals and families, and sensitive to their mental health needs
  • Policies and legislation that would ban conversion therapy and other discriminatory pseudoscientific approaches
  • Support for LGBTQ youth and parents in child welfare systems
  • The creation of more gender-inclusive facilities
  • Increasing mental health care access for LGBTQ people in rural areas
  • Preventing substance abuse in LGBTQ youth

 

UMD-PRC Director Brad Boekeloo is proud of the niche that the UMD Prevention Research

Center is playing as one of the only academic research centers focused on the mental health and well-being of the LGBTQ community.

 

LGBTQ people face stigma, discrimination and violence in many settings, and may avoid medical care as a result. By increasing the availability of affirming and supportive mental health care for the community, Dr. Boekeloo and the UMD-PRC team hope that it may also increase the use of other health care services and create a pathway to overall wellness.

 

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