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Students call him ‘Super Stanley’

Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson went to Harvard Medical School with Samuel Stanley Jr. and stayed in touch over the years as part of the small group of university presidents who were also medical doctors. “I think it’s an absolutely outstanding pick,” Wilson said about MSU’s selection of Stanley. Wilson has the unique perspective of someone who knows both Stanley and Lou Anna Simon, the MSU president forced out because of the Nassar scandal. “I like Lou Anna, but in terms of personality, (Simon and Stanley) are very, very different," he said. “Sam is warmer. He’ll engage you in conversation, and Lou Anna is just not that way. It’s not that she’s dismissive but she’s more analytical.” Wilson said that Stanley’s demeanor has been shaped by being a physician and working with patients in vulnerable situations. “In general, physicians get into the profession because they want to help people, and they tend to be empathetic and compassionate,” he said. “Sam has those qualities, and that’s going to be helpful in going forward at MSU.” Stanley’s reputation as a good listener also will help, Wilson said. “He’s very smart, but he’s also very understated. He’s not going to overtalk you."
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Wayne State develops novel geocoded map to improve health outcomes

If you live in southeast Michigan, your ZIP code may determine how long you live. Live in the 48236 ZIP of Grosse Pointe and at birth you can expect to live to an average of 82 years. Just a few short miles away, however, if you’re born and live in the Detroit ZIP of 48201, you can shave 13 years off that respectable mark. The 13-year loss can be attributed to numerous factors, including a lack of access to healthy food, health care and safe places to exercise. Resource limitations and socioeconomic disparities in the 48201 ZIP code also contribute to soaring levels of toxic stress and poor health. That stress often manifests in the form of disproportionate levels of high blood pressure, which, if uncontrolled, brings on a host of illness guaranteed to shorten lifespan. That’s the bad news.
The good news, as attendees of the Detroit Regional Chamber’s annual Mackinac Policy Conference heard Thursday morning, is that a radically new form of mapping health data by census tract may give policymakers, researchers and health care providers the information they need to design targeted efforts to improve health in areas with a long history of worse outcomes. The goal, said Phillip Levy, assistant vice president of Translational Science and Clinical Research Innovation for Wayne State University, is to develop a precision approach to population health, guided by data provided by drilling down as far as possible, perhaps even to individual neighborhoods.
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First look at Wayne State’s master plan

Midtown and Detroit are changing fast. Wayne State University is trying to keep up. In August 2018, to help better position itself for these changes, the university began the creation of a new master plan that will shape the future look and function of its campus. It hired the planning firm DumontJanks, which has extensive experience working with universities, to be the lead consultant on the project. The firm and university officials have given a series of public presentations over the last few months. The general shape of the plan is becoming clear, but there’s still many more details yet to be released. The plan itself is not prescriptive—there’s no timeline and the recommendations are largely form-based that can be implemented as resources become available. “This is a framework that will allow us to have flexibility and includes a lot of data so we can understand impacts,” said Ashley Flintoff, director of planning and space management for Wayne State. “We’ll soon have a tool to make better, informed decisions.” Several developments on the campus are already underway and were decided on prior to this planning effort, such as the massive Gateway Performance Complex, relocation of the Mackenzie House, and a new basketball arena built in partnership with the Detroit Pistons. However these plans roll out over the next months and years, it’s clear Wayne State will be in a much better position to grow and adapt alongside the city.
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Addressing mental health key to improving criminal justice system

Diverting individuals with mental health disorders into treatment programs rather than simply jailing them not only significantly reduces the jail population but also lowers the chances of recidivism among offenders, according to a five-year study conducted by the Center for Behavioral Health and Justice at Wayne State University’s School of Social Work and released by the state of Michigan. According to the study, 54 percent of all individuals booked into jails in the target counties reported some variation of a substance abuse problem, while 45 percent described themselves as housing insecure and 42 percent said they had been recently incarcerated. Meanwhile, 34 percent had some indication of mental illness. “More than just a collection of data, this report offers us an early roadmap to drastic improvements in how our criminal justice system handles issues of mental illness and substance abuse,” said Sheryl Kubiak, dean of the Wayne State School of Social Work and the principal investigator for the study. “In addressing these issues, we also give ourselves opportunity to address many of the problems that these issues underlie, including jail overcrowding, poor access to mental health, and drug treatment and recidivism.” Drug abuse presented an equally thorny problem for many jails, said Kubiak. “Most jails have little therapy or protocols for inmates suffering withdrawals,” she said. “Some just hand out blankets and Gatorade and think that’s enough.” Kubiak concludes: “As the study proves, when we simply lock up mentally ill or addicted individuals with no real plan to get them help, we’re only prolonging and exacerbating problems that we have the tools to effectively address.”  
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Howard Stern talks childhood trauma, trauma psychiatrist talks about lasting effects

Arash Javanbakht, assistant professor of psychiatry, wrote a piece for The Conversation about the growing interest in trauma and childhood trauma. “A child’s brain is a sponge for learning about how the world works and who they themselves are. We humans have an evolutionary advantage in having the ability to trust the older and learn from them about the world. That leads to cumulative knowledge and protection against adversity, about which only the experienced know. A child absorbs the patterns of perceiving the world, relating to others and to the self by learning from adults. But when the initial environment is unusually tough and unfriendly, then a child’s perception of the world may form around violence, fear, lack of safety and sadness. Brains of adults who experience childhood adversity, or even poverty, are more prone to detecting danger, at the cost of ignoring the positive or neutral experiences.” Javanbakht continued: “Childhood trauma is more common than one would think: Up to two-thirds of children experience at least one traumatic event. These include serious medical illness or injury, firsthand experience of violence or sexual abuse or witnessing them, neglect, bullying and the newest addition to the list: mass shootings.

Learning to love (or at least leverage) technology

A client suffers from one of the oldest and most common fears: arachnophobia. The mere thought of a spider causes her anxiety, and she often has a friend check a room for spiders before she enters. She wants to get help, but she lives in a remote area without access to a clinical expert. Could the use of augmented reality help the client overcome this phobia and actually touch a tarantula? Arash Javanbakht, an assistant professor of psychiatry and director of the Stress, Trauma & Anxiety Research Clinic (STARC) at Wayne State University, has found that it can. At STARC, Javanbakht uses augmented reality along with telepsychiatry as a method of exposure therapy for clients with phobias.
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The challenges of the trailing spouse

Annmarie Cano, professor of psychology and associate provost for faculty development and faculty success, wrote a piece about the career challenges she faced as a “trailing spouse.” Cano wrote: ”Here are just a few ideas for those hiring at institutions as to how they can help achieve these goals. Offer dual-career policies and information. There’s no question that institutions must deal with a number of challenges when hiring one or both members of a dual-career couple. It’s not an easy process for them or the couples themselves. But the reality is that more than a third of faculty members at research universities have academic partners. Be open to what couples can bring, including diversity. Rather than narrowing the conversation to whether the partner’s scholarly area is a good fit for the department, consider the total package. Be mindful that how you treat one, you treat the other. Dual-career couples are people, too… Clearly developed dual-career policies, meaningful efforts to increase diversity and investment in the development of faculty and department chair leadership skills are needed to continue to improve the climate for dual-career couples and access to higher education careers for women and minorities.
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'Consensus builder' Stanley faces task of healing MSU

Michigan State University's next president is a skilled physician, nationally renowned researcher and a uniter who can help the university emerge from the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal, former colleagues said Tuesday. Those who have worked with Samuel Stanley Jr. hailed the former Stony Brook University president's broad range of academic, administrative, medical and research experience and his compassionate demeanor. Stanley, 65, was named president Tuesday by the MSU Board of Trustees after a decade-long stint as president of Stony Brook, a 17,364-student university on suburban Long Island in New York state. Stanley’s upcoming tenure, which begins Aug. 1, means that Michigan’s Big Three universities will all be headed by medical doctors. Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson and University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel are also trained as physicians. Wilson was a 1980 classmate of Stanley’s at Harvard Medical School and often played basketball with him in the university’s Vanderbilt Hall. Wilson also recently worked with Stanley on two national panels. One was a 2018 NCAA symposium titled “An ounce of prevention may keep you out of court.” Wilson also co-chaired a National Institutes of Health committee in 2018 for the director on Foreign Influences on Biomedical Research, with Stanley as one of the members. The WSU president spoke of Stanley with high regard, describing him as “compassionate” and “down-to-earth.” “MSU made an outstanding choice,” he said. “He’s a very smart guy. More than that, he is really well-rounded. He is not just a scientist. He is really well-rounded in the humanities.” Wilson added he felt Stanley will be able to navigate the university community through the turbulence of the Nassar fallout. “He’s very approachable,” he said. “I think the victims of sexual assault will feel like they can approach him in a way that may have not been able to with some other people.”
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High blood pressure is rampant in Michigan. Better data may lead to a cure

“You can throw all the medicines you want at the [hypertension] problem, but if you can’t fix the upstream social determinants, you’ll never solve it,” said Dr. Phillip Levy, an emergency room physician at Detroit Receiving Hospital and cardiovascular researcher who developed the tool. Levy’s work will be presented Thursday at the Detroit Regional Chamber Mackinac Policy Conference. If all goes well, the map could one day address health disparities at the street level throughout Michigan, combining neighborhood health data with demographic information such as age, race, demographics, income, insurance coverage, pollutants, access to transportation, fresh food and more. “This is about using information to address adverse health outcomes of the state. We know that heart disease disproportionately affects Detroit, so it makes sense to start there,” he said. Levy’s work is part of an emerging focus in health care on “precision public health, as more practitioners, public health advocates, and even community leaders and businesses better understand that certain demographics and neighborhoods carry more “disease burden” than others.
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Combatting undue foreign influence at U.S. research institutions

Stronger security measures may protect intellectual property, but how high is the cost? Aggressive actions could discourage top talent from coming to the United States. Tighter controls could disrupt collaboration and the free flow of information. But the most commonly cited fear is racial profiling. In its March 2019 issue, Science published a letter from three organizations, including the Society of Chinese Bioscientists in America, expressing concerns about polices that “single out students and scholars of Chinese descent … for scapegoating, stereotyping, and racial profiling.” Chinese American scientists have been wrongfully accused of spying in the past, the letter notes. Even supporters of measures to protect U.S. research worry about unfairly targeting scientists of Asian descent. “As a black male, I’m very sensitive to racial profiling,” says M. Roy Wilson, M.D., M.S., president of Wayne State University and co-chair of the NIH advisory committee that considered foreign influences. “The vast majority of foreign investigators in this country are contributing to the advancement of science and doing good work. It just so happens that a large proportion of people in this group are of Chinese descent. And we should not overly stigmatize an entire group of people, most of whom are great collaborators, great postdocs, and have no connection whatsoever with anything that could be considered even inadvertent subverting of process and policy.” 
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Family of falcons nest at Wayne State University

A family of Falcons are the latest addition to the campus of Wayne State University. Hovering above Old Main are two peregrine falcons. A mom and a dad - named Isabella and Freedom. The couple moved into the Wayne state campus in 2016. "They've been taken off the endangered species list because the re-introduction into the eastern United States has been so successful," said Michelle Serreyn, WSU Department of Biological Sciences. "Part of that started with people introducing them into urban environments." And now Wayne State is setting up a webcam for viewers to track the trio of chicks as they grow up. "They are the fastest animal on earth," she said. "So what they do, is they hover in the air about birds because they are bird eaters. And they fold their wings and go into what's called a stoop, so they are diving. When they do that, they have been clocked at 200 miles per hour." The fact that Isabella and Freedom chose Detroit as home, means something for the region. "It says a lot about the revitalization of the Detroit area," she said. "So here we are fixing up the campers, we are creating habitat for people but we are also creating habitat for wildlife at the same time. And they are recognizing that this is a safe place to be, it is a good environment for them. So just as people are moving back into the city, so are these animals moving back into the city."

As more states create compensation exoneration laws, some run into funding problems

Richard Phillips was just allocated $1.5 million for three decades that he wrongfully spent in prison for a murder that he didn’t commit, but he’s still going to have to wait a while to see that money. The issue isn’t with his case, but with the money itself: the fund that pays out exoneration compensations in Michigan is nearly empty. Michigan’s Wrongful Imprisonment Compensation Act (WICA) went into effect in 2017, and the state has already spent the vast majority of the $6.5 million appropriated to the fund. The fund was set to be refilled with an additional $10 million but that was the target of the state’s new governor’s first line-item veto on a technicality -- though the governor has expressed her support for approving the $10 million appropriation in a separate bill, which those involved believe will come in the next few weeks. But for people close to the exonorees that have not only have spent decades unjustifiably behind bars, but continue to have to fight for compensation, it’s a slap in the face. Marvin Zalman, a Wayne State University criminal justice professor, said that while the details of how newer exoneration compensation laws are ironed out, they should not be addressed in a silo -- as any factors that contribute to the wrongful convictions in the first place should also be addressed. “We should be thinking about these laws," Zalman said. "I certainly don’t want my tax money going into compensating people for wrongs if the wrongs can’t be eliminated."
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Water stays in the pipes longer in shrinking cities – a challenge for public health

Shawn P. McElmurry, Wayne State University associate professor of civil and environmental engineering; Nancy Love, University of Michigan professor of civil and environmental engineering; and Richard Jackson, professor emeritus of environmental health sciences, University of California, Los Angeles, wrote an article for The Conversation. “The geographic locations where Americans live are shifting in ways that can negatively affect the quality of their drinking water. Cities that experience long-term, persistent population decline are called shrinking cities. Urban shrinkage can be bad for drinking water in two ways: through aging infrastructure and reduced water demand. Major federal and state investments in U.S. drinking water occurred after the World Wars and through the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund created by the 1996 amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act. Many of the pipes and treatment plants built with those funds are now approaching or have exceeded the end of their expected lifespan. Shrinking cities often don’t have the tax base to pay for maintenance and replacement needs. So the infrastructure, which is largely underground, out of sight and out of mind, deteriorates largely outside of the public eye…Despite all its accomplishments, the Safe Drinking Water Act is an imperfect law. Simply relying upon and then communicating about a water quality parameter that “meets all regulatory standards” – as per the law – is an inadequate way to communicate about water quality, as you can see in Flint.”
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Supreme Court delays redrawing districts in Michigan gerrymandering case

The U.S. Supreme Court has issued a temporary hold on a federal court order to redraw legislative and congressional districts in Michigan by August. The justices on Friday issued a brief order that stayed the April 25 decision pending the disposition of the appeal of the case or further order by the court. Republican lawmakers two weeks ago filed an emergency request asking the Supreme Court to suspend the judgment of the lower court, pending the outcome of similar cases that the justices are expected to decide by July. The Supreme Court heard arguments in March in alleged partisan gerrymandering cases from North Carolina and Maryland. The high court's five conservative justices asked at oral arguments whether unelected judges should police the partisan actions of elected officials. The court is simply holding off on the Michigan case, including deciding the appeal, until it rules in the North Carolina and Maryland cases, said Robert Sedler, a constitutional law expert and professor at Wayne State University Law School. "It’s not surprising that the court stayed this case until it decides the cases from North Carolina and Maryland," Sedler said. "That will determine whether the claim in this case — that the Constitution prohibits political gerrymandering — is a viable claim. This is what the court typically does when the result in a lower court case is going to be controlled by cases that the court is already hearing."
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Wayne State preps water study participants

An independent study by Wayne State University into Adrian’s water got underway Tuesday night as representatives prepped participants on what to expect. The meeting with Adrian residents was closed to the media but Wayne State student Andrew James briefed media ahead of the meeting on his study. James will test water samples throughout Adrian for the presence of cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) and certain toxins affiliated with the bacteria, specifically microsystin and anatoxin. James said the study was suggested by Thomas Prychitko, due to the previous findings. The Wayne State professor will help supervise James through the project. “The gist of it is, yes, we are testing to see if there is any harmful bacteria in the water of these fine people in Adrian, Michigan,” James said. The study is for James’ master’s degree and thesis, he said. The study is not in conjunction with any other agency, nor is it affiliated with the city of Adrian and its water study being conducted by Tetra Tech. Wayne State is funding the project. “This is a significant investment by Wayne State,” Taylor said as each water sample can cost up to $225. James said the purpose is to identify if there is cyanobacteria in the water and where in Adrian it might be. The university put a call out in April for participants.
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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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Sea dragons, human compost, Lego dinosaurs: News from around our 50 states

A new exhibit at the Detroit Historical Museum takes visitors through 150 years of life in the city’s Corktown neighborhood. Called “The Journey to Now,” the exhibit opened this month and is scheduled to run through July 7. The exhibit is hosted by the nonprofit organization Corktown Experience in conjunction with Wayne State University’s Anthropology Museum. It tells the story of the people who lived in the Workers’ Row House in Corktown and of the workers who helped build Detroit into an industrial and automotive powerhouse. This exhibit kicks off an effort by Corktown Experience to turn the Workers’ Row House and the surrounding property into a community hub and cultural center.
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How to pay off student loans without a billionaire bailout

Nearly 400 graduates in the Class of 2019 at Morehouse College in Atlanta will receive a stunning graduation gift — all their college debt wrapped up and paid off by Robert F. Smith, who started out as a chemical engineer and later founded the technology-focused investment firm Vista Equity Partners. "My first thought when I heard the news is what an amazing graduation gift!" said Lynita Taylor, diversity and inclusion program manager at the Mike Ilitch School of Business at Wayne State University. "College can certainly be seen as a worthy investment," she said, "but the staggering amount of debt you can accrue while pursuing that investment is heartbreaking. Hopefully these young men will utilize this gift to take bold, advantageous next steps," Taylor said. "It’s so easy to take any paid position when you’re a new graduate with significant debt over your head. But with a clean slate, maybe they can take the 'dream' job or start their own business. The pathway of opportunity just got even wider for these graduates." About 65 percent of college seniors who graduated from public and private nonprofit colleges in 2017 had student loan debt, according to the Project on Student Debt. Borrowers owed an average of $28,650, roughly 1 percent higher than the 2016 average.