Harvard’s undergraduates will compete and perform across the country and enjoy the rituals of residential life on campus again this year, thanks to renewed support from Dean Evelynn M. Hammonds’ Student Life Fund.“Students have consistently expressed a desire for funding to help with travel and their work on House committees,” Hammonds said. “I’m very pleased that the College was able to provide these resources for the past two years.”Hammonds announced today (Sept. 9) that she will make available up to $50,000 to fund domestic travel and House-based events during the 2010-11 academic year. Organizations with domestic travel needs can apply for grants by accessing the Common Grant Application. Hammonds will work with the Office of Student Life to review and determine awards. House committees as well as the First-Year Social Committee can apply for grants to fund formals and other events in their House.Last year, grants from the Student Life Fund enabled Harvard’s undergraduates to fight fiercely in Denver, make audiences laugh in Saratoga Springs, and dance the night away on campus.Harvard Taekwondo used the support to pay for accommodations in Denver, where members competed in the National Collegiate Championships. Anh-Khoa Tran ’10 qualified for the U.S. national team and said his success — and that of his teammates — would not have been possible without help from the dean’s fund.“The grant allowed us to come a few days early and get acclimated to the elevation of Denver before jumping into the competition,” he said. “Furthermore, we made a team trip out to Colorado Springs to visit the Olympic Training Center, and we were able to meet some former Taekwondo National Team members and train at their studios.”The College Dean’s Student Life Fund also helped Harvard’s Immediate Gratification Players (IGP) wow audiences at the National College Comedy Festival in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.“We surely did benefit from the fund greatly,” said IGP member Scott Levin ’11. “It really helped us to have a super successful year as an organization.”Although the Dean’s Student Life Fund enabled Harvard students to travel hundreds of miles from Cambridge, it also had a great impact here on campus. House formals are often some of the most memorable events of an undergraduate’s time at the University. Samantha Houston ’11 of the Adams House Committee said that support from the Student Life Fund helped make last year’s formal “exceptional.”“The fund allowed us to hire a professional swing band and to construct elaborate decorations,” she said. “Because we do the formal in the common spaces of Adams House, the band and decorations were essential to creating a different and special setting.”Hammonds says that her commitment to the Student Life Fund stems from a desire to ensure that Harvard’s undergraduates make the most of the time they spend outside the classroom and to support the activities of the Houses.
In the United States, large, long-running studies provide clues about people’s health, highlighting ailments such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, while providing a starting point for research and interventions.That’s not the case in Africa. Despite the enormous burden of disease there and the rise of what were traditionally considered diseases of industrialized nations, there are almost no broad population studies that might provide guidance for policies and priorities.A group of researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health is seeking to change that, taking aim at chronic ailments such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer through a major cohort study like those that have illuminated important trends in the U.S. population’s health.Led by Epidemiology Department Chair Hans-Olov Adami and Associate Professor of Epidemiology Michelle Holmes, the effort — called the Africa/Harvard School of Public Health Partnership for Cohort Research and Training — is seeking to enroll 500,000 people from four African countries: Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda, and Tanzania. The massive project will track people’s health, with a focus on what investigators expect will be a rising “tsunami” of chronic ailments.After decades of public health focus on infectious diseases, Africa’s population is in the midst of a demographic and epidemiological shift like that that has already occurred in industrialized countries. The population is getting older and, while infectious disease hasn’t been conquered — as the AIDS epidemic emphatically shows — chronic ailments that typically appear later in life are showing up with greater frequency.“This is what we call an epidemiological transition,” Holmes said. “You have to live long enough to get a chronic disease.”In addition, the spread of the less-healthy Western diet and sedentary lifestyle has led to a rise in the heart disease, diabetes, and obesity linked to that.“It’s probably one of the biggest experiments in lifestyle ever conducted in the history of man,” Adami said.Holmes, Adami, and a handful of faculty collaborators at Harvard have spent the past three and a half years laying the groundwork for the study, which they say is a partnership with African researchers that will rely heavily on African collaborators. The organizers have met with the ministers of health in the four nations, have identified African researchers who will work on the study, and have created staffed centers in each country where smaller pilot studies are being conducted. In addition, Adami and Holmes said, the project will provide ample opportunity to train African collaborators and staff at several levels, from providing doctoral research projects for aspiring researchers to job training for frontline staff.Before the survey can take off, however, it needs to be funded. Adami said the organizers are seeking funding sources for the $500,000 needed for the next phase, which is just a fraction of the estimated $100 million the project is expected to cost over the decade. They are reaching out in a variety of ways, including a push to use social media to raise small amounts from many donors.While that is a lot of money, Holmes pointed out that if society prioritizes such actions, money can be found. After all, she said, it’s what a single big-time athlete earns through a major contract.Harvard has a long tradition of successful cohort efforts, starting with the venerable Nurses’ Health Study, begun in 1976 to investigate the effects of long-term use of oral contraceptives by women. The study enrolled 122,000 nurses in 11 states and followed them for decades, with the scope of questions expanding over time. That study has been followed by ones involving younger groups, whose results continue to add to scientific knowledge about health and disease.“The Harvard cohorts have greatly informed health policy in this country. It’s a crime to have a whole continent without the benefit of that [information],” Holmes said.Once funding is found, Adami said it will take about a year to scale up the pilot infrastructure for the study. The project will likely employ hundreds of people and consists not only of questionnaires, but also collecting tissue samples from participants.Technology will likely play an important role, Holmes said, as researchers consider the best way to keep track of study participants and collect health information from them. Traditional paper questionnaires may not be the best route, she said, and organizers are considering using cell phones — becoming more common in Africa because they bypass the expensive and labor-intensive need to run phone cables to homes — as a way to keep in touch, either by speaking to a participant or texting them.Organizers are also hopeful that they can coordinate the effort with several similar studies going on in other countries, including Mexico, Sweden, and India, to make the results comparable across studies.
GREG DIXON/Herald photoWith in-state bragging rights and a pair of winning streaks on the line, the University of Wisconsin women’s basketball team travels to UW-Green Bay to take on the Phoenix at the Kress Center tonight.UWGB — which enters the contest with a seven-game winning streak — is expecting a sellout crowd of more than 4,000 fans and has a “white out” planned for the game against Wisconsin and its eight-game winning streak. The crowd promises to be the most raucous the Badgers have experienced since losing their opener at South Dakota State.“Green Bay is a lot like South Dakota State with big crowds and hostile environments,” sophomore guard Alyssa Karel said. “I think that we have improved a lot since the beginning of the season, and we’ve grown a lot and just kind of figured out how to win.”In order to take the crowd out of the game, the Badgers will look to start strong early by putting up some quick points and making stops on defense.“It always helps to get off to a quick start when you’re in an environment that’s kind of hostile,” Karel said. “Everybody is against you, and we need to quiet them down so we can kind of get comfortable right away and establish ourselves early on.”UWGB, despite its relatively small enrollment of 5,416 students, has long been known for its women’s basketball program.“I think a lot [of their success] has to do with tradition,” UW head coach Lisa Stone said. “They’ve been good for a long time, since back when Carol Hammerle was there, when I was in high school. They have prepared themselves well to put themselves in the top position of the Horizon League each year.”Offensively, the Phoenix will challenge the Badgers’ defense as they lead Wisconsin in nearly every offensive category. UWGB averages 69 points per game to just 60.1 for UW and are shooting 47.4 percent from the field and 72.8 percent from the charity stripe, compared with 41.1 percent and 64.4 percent, respectively, for the Badgers.“They play very well together. When someone’s hot, they find that person,” Stone said. “They’ll spread us out, they’ll look inside and they’ll bring their best. They’ve done very well thus far and they’ve taken on some tough opponents.”In addition to an atmosphere similar to South Dakota State, UWGB will feature a similar style of play, something Wisconsin struggled mightily against in its season opener. After winning eight in a row, the Badgers are ready to show how much they have grown since that 64-44 loss.“It absolutely [is a chance to put the SDSU game behind us]. There’s no question about it,” Stone said. “What I love about this team is the fact that we have found different ways to win, and we’ve stayed mentally tough.”UWGB has four players averaging double figures offensively, with center Lavesa Glover leading the team with 11.6 points per game. The starting guards for the Phoenix — junior Rachel Porath, sophomore Celeste Hoeswisch and senior Kati Harty — average 10.7, 10.4 and 10 points per game, respectively.With so many talented scorers for the Phoenix, the Badgers will need to avoid letting up late in the ball game if they have a big lead once again. Over the past week, Wisconsin has let leads as big as 18 and 20 points dwindle down to two- and six-point victories.“I think we just get too comfortable with our lead,” Karel said. “We lose our ‘go get ’em’ mentality and we just relax. That’s something we’ve talked about a lot, and we can’t do that anymore. We have to keep pushing through, regardless of our lead.”After beating UW-Milwaukee at home last week, Wisconsin finishes up its in-state schedule with UWGB and Marquette this week. Although the Badgers lead the overall series against the Phoenix 17-7, today’s matchup is one that they look forward to every year.“This is a really big week for us,” junior guard Rae Lin D’Alie said. “They’re in-state rivals, and we’ve always kind of battled with them, the last two years especially. We’re going to have to bring it defensively, period. We definitely know we have to bring it.”