June 10, 2022

The latest news and updates from Interim Dean Robert L. Johnson!
Celebrating the End of Slavery
Juneteenth, also known as Emancipation Day, Jubilee Day and Liberation Day, commemorates June 19, 1865, the day that Major General Gordon Granger, who had fought for the Union, led a force of soldiers to Galveston, Texas, to announce that the Civil War was over, the Union had won, and it now had the manpower to enforce the end of slavery. 

Juneteenth became a state holiday in New Jersey and will now be celebrated as a federal holiday following President Joseph Biden’s signing of the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act last year.

Throughout the years, African-Americans have celebrated the holiday in a variety of ways, including cookouts, local parades, concerts, church services and other public events.

Juneteenth is being recognized and discussed throughout the medical school and university communities as well. Visit this site for events celebrating the holiday throughout the county.

Enjoy your day off next Friday and learn more about Juneteenth here!
Study Shows Stem Cell Irregularities in the Brain Cells of Patients with Autism
According to a recent study led by Emanuel DiCicco-Bloom, MD, professor of pediatrics and neuroscience and cell biology, irregular production of brain cells may lead to autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

The research focused on the stem cell activity of five individuals with ASD, including those with idiopathic autism where there is no known genetic cause, and others with genetically defined 16p11.2 deletion. Those with macrocephaly, a medical term for an abnormally large head, had neural precursor cells (NPCs) that produced too many brain cells. The remaining two patients, who did not have macrocephaly, had NPCs that produced too few brain cells.

Dr. DiCicco-Bloom shared with Rutgers Today, “The NPCs we studied from all samples showed abnormal proliferation, either ‘too little’ or ‘too much,’ which suggests that poor control of proliferation of brain cells is an important basis for ASD causation.”

James Milonig, PhD, senior associate dean of Rutgers School of Graduate Studies, and associate professor in the Department of Neuroscience and Cell Biology, along with Zhiping Pang, PhD,
associate professor in the Department of Neuroscience and Cell Biology, also contributed to the study, which revealed findings supporting a concept scientists have long suspected: ASD arises early in fetal development during the period when brain stem cells divide to form the elements of a functioning brain.

Learn more here.
Research Suggests Why Some Asthma Patients Respond Poorly to Treatment
Scientists uncovered that use of inhaled steroids in patients with severe asthma promotes the secretion of certain growth factors in airway lining cells known as the epithelium. As a result, these substances block the treatment of steroids from working.

The study, conducted by Genentech, in collaboration with Reynold Panettieri Jr., MD, professor of medicine and vice chancellor of Clinical and Translational Science, and Cynthia Koziol-White, PhD, assistant professor of pharmacology, compared samples of bronchial airway epithelial cells (BAECs) that had been exposed to inhaled corticosteroids and were collected from three groups: those with severe asthma, those with moderate asthma, and healthy volunteers. Researchers were able to see that these growth factors had been expressed only in the cells of the patients with severe asthma.

“Our study has uncovered a potential mechanism to explain why patients with severe asthma are unresponsive to conventional therapy,” Dr. Panettieri said. “If we can uncover new approaches to treatment that directly affect that mechanism, we may be able to restore a sensitivity to the steroid and improve outcomes.”

Read more in Rutgers Today.
Cannabis Users Appear Less Aware of Unhealthy Relationship Strategies
Researchers say cannabis users may think their approaches to managing conflict in romantic relationships are better than they actually are and don’t recognize potentially problematic dynamics that might exist.
In a study, conducted by Rutgers University and Mount Holyoke College, 145 couples in which at least one partner used cannabis were asked to report how often they used the substance and how satisfied they were in their relationship. The couples were videotaped engaging on a topic that they identified as a major source of conflict, while researchers measured their physiological stress response through heart rate and respiration.

Participants who used cannabis more frequently showed less parasympathetic withdrawal during interaction with their partner. They also issued more criticism and demands, among other behaviors. Yet when asked how they thought the conflict conversation went, cannabis users reported greater satisfaction with how the conflict was resolved and did not perceive themselves as having used demand or avoidance strategies.
“The assessments by the cannabis users were almost the exact opposite of what independent raters found,” said Jessica Salvatore, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry. “The study’s findings give insight into how couples can better navigate conflict and come to a resolution.”

Read more in Rutgers Today.
University Commemorates the 50-Year Anniversary of Title IX
Half a century after Title IX, the groundbreaking gender-equity legislation that was signed into law, nine informed voices from Rutgers University, including Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, and esteemed faculty, offer their own reflections and unique perspectives on its far-reaching effects across diverse topics including; labor laws, Black women in sports, and women's health.
Gloria A. Bachmann, MD, MMS, professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences and associate dean of women's health, says, "I was one of the fortunate women to have as a medical school teacher and role model like Dr. Helen Dickens, who was a trailblazing Black obstetrician and gynecologist as well as a health-equity advocate and social activist....There are no words that can adequately describe my gratitude toward Dr. Dickens. I know that she was one of the many voices who helped Title IX become a reality."
Remembering Suzanne Anderson
Suzanne Anderson, former program assistant for the Office of Inclusion and Diversity, passed away on Jan. 19 following a short illness. Five months following her death, the university remembers and pays tribute to Suzanne by having the Rutgers flag at Old Queens flown at half staff from June 8 - June 9.

Suzanne was a recipient of the RBHS Chancellor’s Sustained Service Award for “her unwavering support to the Pediatric Department at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in the midst of a challenge, exemplifying a positive attitude, persistence, professionalism, and fortitude.”
Dr. Ira Braunschweig Joins Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and RWJBarnabas Health
Following an extensive national search, Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and RWJBarnabas Health have appointed Ira Braunschweig, MD, as chief, Section of Transplant and Cell Therapy at Rutgers Cancer Institute, chief of the Transplant and Cell Therapy Service of the RWJBarnabas Health Oncology Service Line, and director for Cell Therapy and Bone Marrow Transplantation at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. Dr. Braunschweig will also join the faculty at the medical school to serve as professor of medicine.

“We look forward to Dr. Braunschweig implementing his vision for the program, further enabling our physicians to deliver comprehensive, multidisciplinary care for our patients and our investigators to foster the development of the next generation of cellular therapies to improve patient outcomes,” says Roger K. Strair, MD, PhD, professor of medicine and chief of Blood Disorders at Rutgers Cancer Institute.

Congratulations, and welcome, Dr. Braunschweig!

Learn more about Dr. Braunschweig here.
Bookmark This Summer Reading List from Our
Rutgers Community!
Rutgers Today asked members of the university community what one book they are most looking forward to picking up during the warm months ahead. Attached is the list of recommendations, which includes More After the Break: A Reporter Returns to Ten Unforgettable News Stories, by Jen Maxfield.

Jen Maxfield is a network television news reporter and anchor with more than 20 years of experience in the field. She is also the daughter-in-law of Barbara M. Ostfeld, PhD, professor and program director of the SIDS Center of New Jersey.

Dr. Ostfeld says, "Jen’s covered many compelling stories, interviewing individuals moments after their lives have been altered forever by unimaginable tragedies. The book pays homage to the human spirit and its capacity to grow beyond tragedy, to let it inform one’s future but not define it."

Learn more about this book and the other selections here.
Save the Date for White Coat Ceremony on July 22
The Robert Wood Johnson Medical School community is invited to celebrate a memorable milestone--welcoming our newest class of medical students donning their white coats for the very first time during a special ceremony.

The White Coat Ceremony takes place on Friday, July 22 at 2 p.m. at the State Theatre. The ceremony is the culmination of a week-long orientation for the class. During the event, faculty and staff will officially welcome students into the medical school community, assist them into their white coats, and recite the Hippocratic Oath together.

The event will be live-streamed, but faculty and staff may obtain a ticket to attend in person by emailing Lauren Marshall. We hope to see you there!
Brain Myths Debunked
Brad Kamitaki, MD, assistant professor of neurology, explains what IQ tests actually measure, the difference between a seizure and epilepsy, and why the size of your brain doesn't matter. Also learn which memories improve as you age and how to prevent a stroke.
Social Media Post of the Week
Watch highlights of Meghan McMullin as she wraps up her first year of medical school with an Instagram takeover!

Follow us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter and tag #rwjms in your posts.
In the News

Have trouble sleeping in summer? NJ doc says you’re not alone -- Matthew Scharf, MD -- NJ 101.5 and other radio broadcasts

Parents Often Ignore Safe Sleep Advice After Baby Wakes at Night -- Thomas Hegyi, MD -- US News and World Report, and Health Day

Reefer Romance: Marijuana Users More Likely to Misperceive How Well Their Relationships Are Going -- Jessica Salvatore, PhD -- NJ 101.5, Neuroscience News, Science Blog, and more

The 7 Best Multivitamins for Women Over 50 -- Gloria Bachmann, MD -- Prevention

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