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Wayne State University to open Detroit Center for Black Studies

Last month, Wayne State University announced its plan to create the Detroit Center for Black Studies as part of its efforts to prioritize faculty and research centered on the Black experience. The university will recruit and hire 30 new humanities faculty, made possible by a $6 million grant from the Mellon Foundation. Dr. M. Roy Wilson is the president of Wayne State University. He says one of the goals in opening the Detroit Center for Black Studies is to connect the breadth of scholars who work in African American and African diaspora from all the universities in southeast Michigan. “The goal is an inclusive center that brings together the breadth of scholars who work in African American, African and African Diaspora Studies, and the interconnections with us and global histories, culture, economic, legal and health systems,” says President Wilson. 
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Driker posthumously presented with inaugural award in his honor

Eugene Driker was a pillar in the Jewish community, a prominent attorney, and a tireless supporter of the city of Detroit and Wayne State University. In recognition of his profound contributions, President M. Roy Wilson and the Wayne State Board of Governors have created the Eugene Driker Award for Distinguished Service. The award’s first recipient is Driker, who received the honor posthumously at the Dec. 2 Board of Governors meeting, with his friends and family in attendance. A two-time Wayne State alumnus, former member of the Board of Governors, chair of the Wayne State University Foundation Board, generous donor and tireless ambassador for the university, Driker passed away in September. But the enormous impact of his contributions to Detroit and Wayne State will be felt for years to come. His wife, Elaine, and his son Stephen Driker along with his wife, Jennifer, accepted the award. “My only wish is that he was here to accept this himself,” Elaine Driker said. “Everyone knows how much he loved this university. He called it the portal to the American dream. ... I believe that's why he worked so tirelessly on behalf of the university. Hearing everyone speak about all of his contributions to the university and to the city, I want everyone to know that he was also a remarkable husband, an incredible father and a devoted grandfather.” 
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$11.3 million NIH Superfund award to address environmental health issues caused by VOCs

Wayne State University has received a five-year, approximately $11.3 million award from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences of the National Institutes of Health to create a new Superfund Research Program, the “Center for Leadership in Environmental Awareness and Research (CLEAR).” The Center will be dedicated to understanding and mitigating adverse birth outcomes and serious developmental health problems that have been associated with urban environmental exposure to volatile organic chemicals (VOCs), a special class of pollutant found in the subsurface of post-industrial cities like Detroit. Headquartered on the Wayne State campus, CLEAR will focus on Detroit as the principal study site. The CLEAR team consists of engineering and biomedical scientists, educators and community partners. The CLEAR research team is led by Melissa Runge-Morris, M.D., and Carol Miller, Ph.D, who also co-lead the One Health Initiative at Wayne State University. 

MI universities get funding to sequence COVID, other infectious disease

By Lily Bohlke  A new grant will increase the capacity for infectious-disease sequencing and research in Michigan to improve the state’s ability to respond to health crises. Four universities, including Wayne State, are receiving a total of $18.5 million for the work. Dr. Teena Chopra, co-director of Wayne State University’s Detroit-based Center for Emerging and Infectious Diseases, said the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of upping the ante on researching and preparing for this and future pandemics. “The work under the grant involves looking at emerging infections, not only SARS CoV 2 which causes COVID, but also other multi-drug-resistant organisms that have plagued the city of Detroit for years and now are even worse after the pandemic,” Chopra said. Dr. Marcus Zervos, who also co-directs WSU’s Center, said the collaboration between the universities is important. He emphasized efforts to understand the spread and reach of viruses such as COVID require national and international cooperation. “We weren’t able to rapidly respond to a pandemic because we didn’t have mechanisms for testing and contact tracing and outbreak investigation and control,” Zervos said. “If it’s COVID, or if it’s a new strain of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, it’s critical to have the public health infrastructure in place.” 
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New NIH research study to investigate psychosocial determinants of cardiovascular disease risk among urban African American adults

The Biopsychosocial Health lab from Wayne State University has been awarded $3,590,488 from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health to conduct a project titled “Stress and Cardiovascular Risk Among Urban African American adults: A Multilevel, Mixed Methods Approach.”  The project, led by Samuele Zilioli, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Psychology and the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health Sciences at Wayne State University, aims to provide a fine-grained characterization of the psychosocial factors associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk and inflammation among urban middle-aged and older African American adults.  According to Zilioli, despite the steady decline in CVD morbidity and mortality in the U.S. over the last few decades, African American adults bear a disproportionate share of CVD burden.” Most of the research in this area has focused on proximate medical risk factors — such as diabetes and dyslipidemia — for CVD risk,” said Zilioli. “Only recently, however, have researchers started to consider the role of more distal risk factors, such as psychosocial stressors.” 
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Crain’s Newsmaker: M. Roy Wilson, President, Wayne State University

M. Roy Wilson, M.D., is entering his seventh year as president of Wayne State University with a portfolio of accomplishments. Wilson, an ophthalmologist and researcher who has published papers on glaucoma and blindness in populations from the Caribbean to West Africa, previously has served as deputy director for strategic scientific planning and program coordination at the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities of National Institutes of Health. He also was dean of  the medical school at Creighton University in Omaha. Of all his achievements during his tenure, Wilson has said he is most proud of how Wayne State has increased graduation rates. Since he took office, Wayne State has nearly doubled its graduation rate to 47 percent from 26 percent. Wilson has said the school has more work to do to reach its goal of a 50 percent graduation rate before 2021. In 2020, Wayne State expects to complete several construction projects , including the STEM Innovation Learning Center, which will bring all of WSU’s science, technology, engineering and math programs into one building. He also has pointed to moving the historic McKenzie house on Cass Avenue to the other side of the block on 2nd Avenue, allowing the expansion of the Hilberry Theater, which will allow the complex to house a new jazz center. Last year, Wayne State established a partnership with the Detroit Pistons that will allow for the construction of a new $25 million arena for the men’s and women’s basketball teams. The arena also will serve as the home of the Piston’s G League team. Wilson also oversaw a turnaround of the Wayne State University School of Medicine.
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Chamber Honors Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson with “Excellence In Education Leadership Award”

The Detroit Regional Chamber founded the “Excellence in Education Leadership Award” to recognize educators who demonstrate outstanding public service and leadership on behalf of the region. The award was inspired by the legacy of the outgoing University of Michigan-Dearborn Chancellor, Daniel Little, who was the first recipient in 2018. This year, the Chamber’s Greg Handel, vice president of Education and Talent Initiatives will award Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson as the second inaugural recipient of the Excellence in Education Leadership Award. Wilson has demonstrated exceptional commitment to better serving his students – Detroit’s future talent base – and fulfilling the important role his institution has in catalyzing regional economic development. Under his leadership, Wayne State has garnered national attention for their new approaches that has lifted the university up as one of the most innovative universities in the country.
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Notable Women In Education Leadership

The women featured in this Notable Women in Education Leadership report were selected by a team of Crain’s Detroit Business editors based on their career accomplishments, track record of success in the field, contributions to their community and mentorship of others, as outlined in a detailed nomination form. Wayne State University awardees included: Monica Brockmeyer, senior associate provost for student success; Jennifer Lewis, associate professor of mathematics education and executive director, educator excellence, Detroit public schools community district; and Toni Somers, associate dean and professor at the Mike Ilitch School of Business.
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Wayne Law students honored by National Lawyers Guild

Two Wayne State University Law School students have been named student honorees by the Michigan and Detroit Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild. Cait De Mott Grady of Ithaca, New York, and Phillip Keller of Frankenmuth, received the honor at the chapter’s 82nd Anniversary Dinner on May 11. Both students graduated Monday, May 13. While at Wayne Law, De Mott Grady was a member of the executive board of Wayne Law’s NLG chapter, a member of the Student Board of Governors and was a junior member on the Mock Trial National Team for the American Association of Justice for the winter semester. In 2018, she was elected student national vice president of the NLG. De Mott Grady is a champion for public interest law. She has interned with the Juvenile Lifer Unit at the State Appellate Defender Office in Detroit and the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, and has worked for Wayne Law’s Criminal Appellate Practice Clinic and Asylum and Immigration Law Clinic.
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The Greater Detroit Philanthropy Awards are back with eight new recipients

Donors, fundraising professionals, and volunteers will shine at the 2018 Philanthropy Day Awards. Hosted by the Association of Fundraising Professionals Greater Detroit Chapter, the awards recognize the works of local philanthropists. Among the Wayne State University recipients are: Allan Gilmour, former Wayne State University president and former CFO of Ford Motor Co., George W. Romney Award for Lifetime Achievement in Volunteerism; Tracy Utech, associate vice president for principal gifts, Dr. John S. Lore Award for Outstanding Fundraising Executive; and Detroit Feedback Loop, founded in 2017 by Wayne State University students Nicholas Ang and Camilla Cascardo, Sparky Anderson Award for Youth in Philanthropy.
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Peter Hammer named inaugural Taubman chair at Wayne Law

Professor Peter J. Hammer, director of the Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights at Wayne State University Law School, has been named the Law School’s inaugural A. Alfred Taubman Endowed Chair. Hammer, who joined the Law School faculty in 2003, is a leading voice on economic and social issues impacting Detroit and the nation. He has spent more than 25 years engaging in matters of human rights law and development in Cambodia. Hammer is an expert on domestic health law and policy, as well as international public health and economic development. The $1.5 million endowed chair is part of a $3 million gift from the late A. Alfred Taubman in 2006 that led to the construction of the Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights building at Wayne Law.
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Andy Appleby to receive Ilitch School's Executive of the Year Award

If Andy Appleby shared one tip with aspiring entrepreneurs this would be it said the CEO and commissioner of the United Shore Professional Baseball League, who was recently named this year's winner of the Wayne State University Mike Ilitch School of Business Michigan Executive of the Year Award. "Be willing to take a risk and be willing to support that risk with unending work ethics," added Appleby, who will be honored at the school's 38th Annual Recognition and Awards Program at the Detroit Athletic Club, Oct. 15. "It's a nice award to win. It is even more special given the enormous impact Mr. Ilitch had in our sports and entertainment profession over the years," Appleby said, during an interview at General Sports and Entertainment, taking place almost 20 years, to the day Appleby took one of the biggest risks of his life.
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WSU’s graduate supply chain program ranked among top 25 in the country

Wayne State University’s graduate global supply chain management program is among the nation’s top 25, according to Gartner, a leading industry research company that releases rankings every other year. Ranked No. 17, WSU is a new entrant alongside the University of Minnesota, the University of Southern California and the University of Washington. Offered through the Mike Ilitch School of Business, Wayne State’s global supply chain management program prepares students with in-depth knowledge about global challenges and the critical links in the value chain of goods.

Wayne State’s ‘Pure Michigan’ research impacts health around the world

The National Institutes of Health’s two-month social media campaign, “NIH in Your State,” is an initiative focused on reminding the public about NIH’s impact on the health of citizens in each state through federally funded research. The state of Michigan is highlighted on June 18. In fiscal year 2017, Wayne State University received $85 million in awards from the NIH to support its research efforts. Examples of NIH-funded research at Wayne State include: PERINATOLOGY RESEARCH BRANCH (PRB) Wayne State University is home to the Perinatology Research Branch, a part of the Division of Intramural Research that conducts research to understand the mechanisms of disease for obstetrical complications and develop diagnostic, prognostic and therapeutic strategies to reduce infant and maternal death. Seminal contributions of the PRB in recent years include: • The use of progesterone for the prevention of preterm birth in women with a short cervix, which can reduce the rate of preterm birth by 40 percent and save the U.S. health care system $500 million to $750 million annually. • Identified the first biomarker for unexplained fetal death – a condition for which there was no biomarker or method of prevention in the third trimester. Through the work done in Detroit, a biomarker has been discovered that identifies 80 percent of late fetal deaths with a 10 percent false-positive rate based on a simple blood test. This may lead to better assessment, and a randomized clinical trial to prevent fetal death in patients at risk is being planned. • Described the fetal inflammatory response syndrome, a condition that affects unborn babies of mothers with premature labor, and is akin to an adult systemic inflammatory response. This multi-systemic disorder can cause neuroinflammation and fetal cardiac dysfunction, and the finding is a major conceptual breakthrough in the understanding of prematurity, and why premature babies are at risk for cerebral palsy. • Made pioneering advancements in fetal endoscopic surgery, such as the first case of twin arterial perfusion syndrome (New England Journal of Medicine), the first fetal cystoscopy (Lancet), laser ablation of posterior urethral valves (Lancet) and the development of a patch to treat the rupture of membranes after amniocentesis or surgical procedures (Lancet). • Invented intelligent navigation sonography, and in particular, fetal intelligent navigation echocardiography, which can be used for the screening of congenital heart disease, the most frequent congenital anomaly by organ system, often undiagnosed before birth. Strategies to Innovate EmeRgENcy Care Clinical Trials Network The Wayne State University School of Medicine Department of Emergency Medicine is one of only 11 institutions in North America awarded the National Institutes of Health’s the Strategies to Innovate EmeRgENcy Care Clinical Trials Network, or SIREN designation. The collaboration executes pre-hospital and acute care clinical trials, recruits and retains difficult to reach emergency care patients and collaborates with investigators from major U.S. population centers, health care systems and academic environments. SIREN serves as the clinical recruitment arm for major acute care NIH and Department of Defense research trials. The network hubs select and provide oversight to satellite clinical sites, known as “spokes,” which facilitate access to even larger patient populations for enrollment in clinical trials. The primary spokes in the Wayne State University hub include the University of Michigan, Beaumont Health, the Henry Ford Health System, St. John Health System, Spectrum Health System and Vanderbilt University. Others spoke sites may join the Detroit hub in the future. Read more. Obsessive-compulsive disorder Wayne State University School of Medicine researchers discovered that the chemical glutamate plays a major role in children with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). David Rosenberg, M.D., the Miriam L. Hamburger Endowed Chair of Child Psychiatry and professor of Psychiatry in the School of Medicine, collaborated with researchers at the University of Michigan, Children’s Hospital of Michigan and University of Toronto/ Hospital for Sick Kids. This international team discovered that the chemical glutamate plays a key role in children with OCD. OCD is a debilitating neuropsychiatric condition that affects approximately 1 percent to 3 percent of the population worldwide. As many as 80 percent of all OCD cases begin in childhood and adolescence. In the study, children with OCD had abnormal glutamate levels in key brain regions that were reversible with effective treatment. Learn more. Neonatal study Lowering an infant's body temperature to about 92 degrees Fahrenheit within the first six hours of life reduces the chances for disability and death among infants who failed to receive enough oxygen or blood to the brain during birth, a Wayne State University School of Medicine study found. The study led to the standard practice of cooling such infants to protect them immediately after birth. Learn more. African-American cancer study Wayne State University and the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute have launched the nation’s largest study of African-American cancer survivors to better understand disproportionately high incidence and mortality rates from cancer and its impact on this specific patient population. The study is funded with a five-year, $9 million grant from the National Cancer Institute. The Detroit Research on Cancer Survivors, or Detroit ROCS, study will include 5,560 cancer survivors to better understand major factors affecting cancer progression, recurrence, mortality and quality of life in African-American cancer survivors. African-Americans continue to experience disproportionately higher cancer incidence rates than other racial/ethnic groups in the United States. They are also diagnosed with more advanced-stage disease and experience higher cancer mortality rates than other groups. Learn more. Center for Urban Responses to Environmental Stressors Funding from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences of the NIH has established the Center for Urban Responses to Environmental Stressors (CURES) at Wayne State. CURES is situated in the heart of Detroit, with the goal of understanding the integrated health impacts of environmental exposures to complex chemical and non-chemical contaminants in Detroit’s urban landscape. CURES is focused on establishing a cleaner and healthier living and working environment in the city of Detroit and throughout the region. “Modern-era” diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes compromise the quality of life of residents living in an industrialized urban environment such as Detroit and are a consequence of dynamic interactions among an individual's genetic and epigenetic make-up, nutritional status and environmental stressors, which affect key cellular networks causing disease. Learn more. Researching hearing loss in Detroit firefighters During responses to fires or other hazardous events, firefighters may be exposed to, inhale or ingest toxic gases, vapors or particles. In particular, heavy metal exposure – such as lead and cadmium – is a major public health issue with firefighters in postindustrial cities such as Detroit. Cadmium, a poisonous metal that has been used to electroplate materials to protect them from corrosion, was heavily used in the automobile industry and is a major source of contamination in Detroit. In addition, over 90 percent of buildings in Detroit were built prior to 1980 and are likely to contain lead-based paints. One adverse health outcome associated with long-term environmental exposure to lead and cadmium is hearing loss. With the help of funding from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences of the NIH, Wayne State is researching gene-environment interactions to determine the association between environmental exposure to lead and cadmium and hearing loss in Detroit firefighters. The goal of the study is to apply knowledge from the study to human remediation studies in this vulnerable population, and identify preventative measures that will protect firefighters and others from hearing loss caused by environmental exposure. Learn more. Antibiotic resistance Wayne State’s Department of Biological Sciences is using NIH funding to identify novel antibiotic targets that will open the door to new antibiotic treatments where bacteria have become difficult to treat or even resistant to antibiotics currently available. Learn more. Bacterial endophthalmitis An award from the National Eye Institute of the NIH is working to develop new ways to treat bacterial endophthalmitis – a severe inflammation of the interior of the eye caused by bacteria that enter the eye following trauma or surgery, particularly cataract surgery. The Wayne State team aim to identify novel pathways and new means to treat these blinding ocular infections by determining how cellular metabolism of immune cells impacts their ability to kill pathogens and mount protective immune responses to defend the eye from infection. Learn more. Cystic Fibrosis An award from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the NIH is aiding a team of researchers at Wayne State University to develop an immunoscreening library derived from sarcoidosis tissue that can differentiate Cystic Fibrosis-specific antigens from healthy controls and lung cancer patients. Their creation of the T7 Phage Library may have utility in developing molecular therapy in addition to being useful in diagnostics and forecasting response to therapy for Cystic Fibrosis. Learn more. Improving MRI contrast agents An award from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering of the NIH is assisting researchers in Wayne State’s Department of Chemistry to develop innovative contrast agents for magnetic resonance imaging that will fill a void in current diagnostic medicine. The contrast agents will allow for earlier detection of traumatic brain injury, cancer, heart disease, stroke and rheumatoid arthritis that will aid research focused on treating these diseases. This will lead to higher success rates and better monitoring of therapeutic treatments, significantly advancing the nation’s capacity to protect and improve health. Learn more. These are a sampling of the many research projects funded by the National Institutes of Health at Wayne State University. To learn more about research at Wayne State, visit Wayne State University is one of the nation’s pre-eminent public research institutions in an urban setting. Through its multidisciplinary approach to research and education, and its ongoing collaboration with government, industry and other institutions, the university seeks to enhance economic growth and improve the quality of life in the city of Detroit, the state of Michigan and throughout the world. For more information about research at Wayne State University, visit

Researchers examine the role of glutamate in aging cognitive diseases

Jeffrey Stanley                                Naftali Raz As people around the world live longer, the prevalence of age-associated cognitive disorders is growing. Alzheimer’s disease (AD), for which advanced age is the most significant risk factor, currently defies all therapeutic efforts. Experts argue that identifying the onset of this progressive disease as early as possible will advance the fight against its devastating effects. A research team at Wayne State University hopes to give clinicians tools for identifying the early signs of impending disease by measuring subtle deviations in the way the brain modulates its chemistry during the formation of new memories. Their research project, “Task-related modulation of hippocampal glutamate, subfield volumes and associative memory in younger and older adults: a longitudinal ¹H FMRS study,” was recently awarded a two-year, $423,500 grant from the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health. The study, led by Jeffrey Stanley, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences in Wayne State’s School of Medicine, and by Naftali Raz, Ph.D., professor of psychology in Wayne State’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and director of the Lifespan Cognitive Neuroscience Program in the Institute of Gerontology at Wayne State, will use a noninvasive technique called  functional magnetic resonance spectroscopy (fMRS) to characterize memory function based on the modulation of the brain’s most common neurotransmitter, glutamate, in real time, as study participants engage in a memory task. Stanley and Raz will examine changes in glutamate within the hippocampus — one of the brain regions that is critical for memory — during creation of new associations between pictorial stimuli and their location.  “Studying glutamate, sometimes called the brain’s light switch, will help us better understand the brain chemistry behind basic memory processes,” said Raz. “Most of what we know about glutamate changes with age, and its relations to memory comes from animal models and measurements of stationary levels of glutamate in humans. The fMRS technique perfected by Dr. Stanley will allow us to examine age difference and age-related changes over time in task-related glutamate modulation, in intact human participants.” The research team will acquire a structural MRI of the whole brain, a high-resolution scan of the hippocampal body, and a ¹H fMRS of the hippocampus during formation of associations between common objects and locations in healthy, young and older participants. An important feature of this study is a one-year follow-up that will help gauge the rate of change and individual differences in change over time in a fundamental memory-related brain process, while avoiding potentially misleading conclusions based on cross-sectional comparisons of age groups. The investigators believe that the results of this study will lay the foundation for intervention aimed at mitigating cognitive decline. The grant number for this National Institutes of Health project is AG059160. Wayne State University is one of the nation’s pre-eminent public research institutions in an urban setting. Through its multidisciplinary approach to research and education, and its ongoing collaboration with government, industry and other institutions, the university seeks to enhance economic growth and improve the quality of life in the city of Detroit, the state of Michigan and throughout the world. For more information about research at Wayne State University, visit