Professor’s new book helps children better understand dementia

Paul Gerber, Ph.D., professor emeritus in the School of Education and former Ruth Harris Professor of Dyslexia Studies, has authored a children’s book illustrated by his wife, Veronica Geran Gerber, which serves as a vehicle for discussion and understanding of loved ones who suffer from dementia.

Ferguson the Forgetful Frog: A Story about Dementia,” is written for children ages 5 to 8 and provides an age-appropriate format for dealing with a family member with dementia. Gerber and his wife produced the book after experiencing dementia among family members.

Read more.

NPR backs podcast co-created by VCU faculty member, will explore people’s paths not taken

A podcast co-created by a faculty member in the Department of African American Studies in the College of Humanities and Sciences is one of only three in the country to win funding from the NPR Story Lab, NPR’s idea hub that creates pilots for radio shows, launches new podcasts, and introduces new voices to the public radio network.

In the podcast, “Do Over,” Virginia Commonwealth University faculty member Chioke I’Anson, co-host Kelly Jones and producer Claire Tacon will tell stories of pivotal moments in people’s lives and explore what might have happened had they made a different decision.

The idea, I’Anson said, is for “Do Over” to examine the “real fake story of what your life would be like if you had made a different choice that one time.”

Read more.

Psychology faculty members promoted to Commonwealth, University professors

Faye Belgrave, Ph.D., left, and Albert Farrell, Ph.D.

Faye Belgrave, Ph.D., left, and Albert Farrell, Ph.D.

Two faculty members in the Department of Psychology in the College of Humanities and Sciences have been promoted to the prestigious ranks of University and Commonwealth professors.

VCU has promoted Faye Belgrave, Ph.D., professor of health psychology and social psychology and director of the Center for Cultural Experiences in Prevention, to University Professor, and Albert Farrell, Ph.D., professor of clinical psychology and director of the VCU Clark-Hill Institute for Positive Youth Development, to Commonwealth Professor.

Faculty members nominated for University Professor must either teach or conduct research that crosses discipline boundaries. These individuals must have an established prominence in multiple fields of study, with national or international recognition in at least one field of study.

Read more.

International study led by VCU chemistry professor finds promise in new class of anti-cancer drugs

Nicholas Farrell, Ph.D.

Nicholas Farrell, Ph.D.

A new class of platinum-based drugs has shown significant anti-metastatic effects in fighting cancer, according to a recently published study led by a Virginia Commonwealth University chemistry professor and cancer researcher.

The study, “Antiangiogenic platinum through glycan targeting,” which was published in the August edition of Chemical Science, found that polynuclear platinum-based drugs are effective by identifying new targets in tumor cells, which had previously been unidentified for platinum-based anti-cancer drugs. Chemical Science is the flagship journal the U.K.-based Royal Society of Chemistry, publishing research of exceptional significance from across the chemical sciences.

“We think our findings are very significant because it gives a whole new direction to platinum-based drugs,” said Nicholas Farrell, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Chemistry in the College of Humanities and Sciences and a member of the Developmental Therapeutics research program at VCU Massey Cancer Center. “And it gives us a whole new understanding of what was going on with the original drugs. It’s an area that might have been overlooked for 30 years. It’s opening up a whole new avenue of research for platinum-based drugs.”

Read more.

Company launched at VCU selected for ‘Best University Startups’ event at Congress

Arun Sanyal, M.D.

Sanyal Biotechnology, a company that has flourished with the support of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Innovation Gateway, will participate in the University Startups Demo Day at Congress on Sept. 20 in Washington, D.C.

The National Council of Entrepreneurial Tech Transfer, an association of university startup officers, selected Sanyal Biotechnology to be featured at the event alongside other exciting early-stage companies created at U.S. universities. The University Startups Demo Day is the university community’s opportunity to show how far it has come in its bold, new vision for the future of the university, and how that vision is central to national competitiveness and economic growth, peace and prosperity.

“To lead the world in the 21st century, our nation must have a sustained commitment to education, scientific research and startups,” said Tony Stanco, executive director of the National Council of Entrepreneurial Tech Transfer. “And American universities are uniquely positioned to deliver on all three to ensure the U.S. continues to lead socially and economically in this century, as it did in the last.”

Read more.

VCU professor is helping America’s oldest tambourine ‘sing again’

Bernard Means, Ph.D., a VCU anthropology professor, prepares to 3-D scan a small copper alloy cymbal that was once part of a tambourine dating to prior to 1610 at Jamestown.

Bernard Means, Ph.D., a VCU anthropology professor, prepares to 3-D scan a small copper alloy cymbal that was once part of a tambourine dating to prior to 1610 at Jamestown.

In 1994, Preservation Virginia’s Jamestown Rediscovery archaeologists were excavating the original site of James Fort when they found a small copper alloy cymbal, also known as a “jingle,” that was once part of a tambourine that arrived in the colony prior to 1610 — making it the oldest known English tambourine in the United States.

Now, as part of an upcoming exhibit refresh at the Jamestown Settlement museum, the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation is seeking to recreate that tambourine, and has enlisted the help of a Virginia Commonwealth University professor to ensure the replica is as accurate as possible.

“This is bringing an object back to life,” said Bly Straube, Ph.D., former Jamestown Rediscovery senior curator who was instrumental in the effort to find the 1607 remains of James Fort, and who is consulting on the exhibit. “It was buried for 400 years. We did resurrect it, and put it in the museum — it’s in Jamestown Rediscovery’s archaeological museum, the Archaearium, on Jamestown Island.

“Now, we’re going to make it sing again.”

Read more.

VCU honors seven at faculty convocation

VCU recognized seven faculty Tuesday at the university's annual Opening Faculty Address and Convocation. (Thomas Kojcsich)

VCU recognized seven faculty Tuesday at the university’s annual Opening Faculty Address and Convocation. (Thomas Kojcsich)

Sonya Clark recently hurt her back. So when she gingerly made her way to the podium Tuesday at Virginia Commonwealth University’s annual Opening Faculty Address and Convocation, she decided to use the moment as metaphor.

First, she told a joke.

“Those of you who know me know I don’t usually do anything slowly, and, though I’m Jamaican, clearly I’m not channeling Usain Bolt,” Clark said. “There’s this great aphorism that if you want to go fast you go by yourself and if you want to go far you go with a community. I’m going slow today because of the community that I’ve had the privilege of being involved with here at VCU.”

Clark, chair of the Department of Craft and Material Studies in the School of the Arts and director of the department’s graduate programs, was one of seven faculty honored Tuesday at the 34th annual faculty convocation. VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D., and Gail Hackett, Ph.D., provost and vice president for academic affairs, presided over the ceremony, which featured remarks from the honorees and Marsha D. Rappley, M.D., chief executive officer for VCU Health System and VCU vice president of health sciences.

“What really distinguishes VCU’s faculty is the innovation and transformation and collaboration,” Rao said. “Part of the evidence is the transformational impact we have on the communities we serve. The most important thing we do: We continue to take what we do at this institution and connect it to the greatest and most important needs of the people in our community.”

Read more.

VCU School of Business announces its first artist-in-residence

Noah Scalin.

Noah Scalin.

The Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business will host its first ever artist-in-residence during the upcoming 2016­–2017 academic year.

Celebrated artist Noah Scalin will help the school institute its new strategic plan, which aims to drive the future of business through the power of creativity. Scalin will conduct several creative-thinking seminars, guest lecture in courses, create large-scale artwork installations with the students and spearhead a 30-day Creative Sprint challenge in October and during the spring semester. These will connect VCU School of Business students, faculty and staff with elements of the strategic plan through experiential learning, creative problem-solving curricula, innovative research and creative culture.

Read more.

VCU will honor distinguished faculty

Virginia Commonwealth University will recognize distinguished faculty during the 34th annual Opening Faculty Address and Convocation.

VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D., and Gail Hackett, Ph.D., provost and vice president for academic affairs, will preside over the ceremony, which takes place at 11 a.m.on Tuesday, Aug. 23, at the W.E. Singleton Center for the Performing Arts, 922 Park Ave. A reception will follow the ceremony. VCU will live stream the event online at http://go.vcu.edu/convocation.

Awards will be presented to faculty members who have distinguished themselves and the university through their commitment to excellence, service, teaching and scholarship.

For the first time, two additional faculty members will be recognized in the categories of outstanding early career faculty and outstanding term faculty.

Read more.

“The best year of my life:” Neurosurgery resident conducts brain tumor research in New Zealand

Supported by the most prestigious fellowship in neurosurgery, VCU Medical Center resident Lisa Feldman spent a year doing research in New Zealand.

Supported by the most prestigious fellowship in neurosurgery, VCU Medical Center resident Lisa Feldman spent a year doing research in New Zealand.

As a sixth-year neurosurgery resident at Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center, Lisa Feldman, M.D., Ph.D., aches for her patients battling aggressive brain tumors.

Despite surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatments, the average life expectancy for patients diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme, the most aggressive type of brain tumor, is 15 months.

“We have to do better than that,” Feldman said. “It’s so frustrating. I see so many patients suffering.”

Thanks to a prestigious fellowship and numerous collaboration efforts, Feldman is feeling optimistic about the future. The Chicago native was selected last year for the William P. Van Wagenen Fellowship, which awarded her a $120,000 stipend and $15,000 in research support. She used the funds to travel to New Zealand, where she studied perfluorocarbons as a new oxygen delivery therapy in hope of reversing the death of healthy cells that results from radiation treatment of brain cancers.

Read more.