FOCUS Newsletters

Jan/Feb 2015

Gut Bug Enthusiast - Over the past few years, the microbial world’s reputation has been turned on its head. Since Louis Pasteur proved the so-called germ theory of disease in almost 150 years ago, we humans have diligently tried to purge bacteria from our lives. But scientists today are telling us at that the story isn’t so simple, and that the bacteria that colonize our bodies – more than one hundred trillion of them – are actually our coevolutionary partners, crucial to maintaining human health.  FULL STORY>>

BWF Awardees Search for SolutionOne of the most ambitious research programs on the Ebola virus began over 14 years ago in the start-up laboratory of a newly minted PhD named Erica Ollman Saphire. Saphire had just solved the structure of one of the first antibodies against HIV, and she was in search of a new challenge.  FULL STORY >> 

Carr Thompson Retires -- When Carr Thompson started at the Burroughs Wellcome Fund in March of 1977, she was one of two employees. The foundation was dependent on the Burroughs Wellcome Company (USA) since its assets—about $7 million at the time—were directly tied to the company’s profits and losses for the year.  FULL STORY >> 

October 2014

Claudia Walker is a fifth grade teacher at Murphey Traditional Academy in Greensboro, North Carolina, a magnet K-5 school in the Guilford County Schools where Latin is taught and mathematical skills are emphasized. She has been a classroom teacher since 1992, she is a national board-certified teacher, and has been teaching math and science at Murphey for the last six years. She holds a BA from Rutgers University and a master’s degree in Education, Curriculum and Technology from the University of Phoenix.

In 2009, Claudia received a Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award for Science and Mathematics Teachers, a $175,000 grant over the course of five years designed to give outstanding North Carolina classroom teachers resources to enhance professional development and collaboration with other teachers. With that five years wrapping up in 2014, we thought it would be a good time to check in and take stock with Claudia, and recognize her noteworthy achievements in mathematics education.  FULL STORY >>

August 2014

Aaron Batista Helps Researchers Unravel Neural Patterns Behind Learning

When Aaron Batista graduated with philosophy and computer science degrees from the University of Pennsylvania in 1994, he serendipitously stumbled into the budding field of bioengineering. An interest in neuroscience eventually led him to a postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University, where he was surrounded by scientists trying to understand how populations of neurons communicate. In his own research, Batista wondered how neuronal communication can flex and change, allowing learning to take place.  FULL STORY >>

June 2014

Science Advocacy:  Taking it to the Schools

Citizens and policymakers could all benefit from a methodical, evidence-based approach to making the choices they face. Should I immunize my preteen against HPV? Will fracking be good for my community? Unfortunately, science is often viewed as an amalgamation of esoteric facts rather than a process that can be used to inform those critical decisions.

For many Americans, science is simply a prerequisite on the path to careers in far-removed disciplines like business, politics, or the arts. Even though it might make sense to leave the science to the scientists, doing so can lead to a culture where even well-meaning individuals find themselves picking and choosing their facts or ignoring the scientific consensus.  FULL STORY >>

May 2014

FOCUS IN SOUND - Maria N. Geffen

Dr. Maria N. Geffen is an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Otorhinolaryngology: Head and Neck Surgery and Neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania.  She received her bachelor’s degree from Princeton, her Ph.D. in Biophysics at Harvard, and did her post-doc at the Center for Studies in Physics and Biology at Rockefeller University in New York.  In 2008, when she was still at Rockefeller, she received the Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award at the Scientific Interface, a $500,000 grant designed to help bridge advanced postdoctoral training and the first three years of faculty service. FULL STORY >>