University Research: Making an Impact
The remarkable expansion of research at the University of Louisville has taken our institution to the threshold of achieving its mandate of becoming a Premier Metropolitan Research University. Institutions such as ours ride the crest of discovery into the future and must constantly strive to be part of progress and change. Investigation and invention are catalysts of improvement in the quality of life and responsible for the betterment of humankind. We have embraced as an institution the concept that new knowledge should be refined for the benefit of all.
Despite the stagnant, thus dropping, research funding at the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) over the past four years we have sustained our budget that grew four-fold from 1998 to 2005, above the previous years in 2006 and 2007. Moreover, by judiciously reinvesting some of the indirect cost income from our successful grants, we have expanded our existing programs and created new ones.
The following pages highlight research in biomedicine, astronomy and global warming, but also attempt to direct our attention to the practical or applied use of science as in the case of Professor Hichem Frugui who, with the aid of computer-based mathematical formulae, can detect buried improvised explosive devises and mines. Intuitively one may think of war, but in fact more civilians than we care to think about are harmed by these artifacts. There are millions of these hidden death traps in countries where war has ended long ago. His work will help reduce the danger of such explosives and benefit millions.
Death may be the fate of many distant stars, but the galaxies light years away offer the spectacle of new heavenly bodies sprouting from gas masses, dust, radiation and gravitational forces to serve as the nucleus for new stars whose birth can be witnessed through the Moore Observatory telescopes by Professor John Kielkopf and his starry-eyed students.
Many planets and stars watch our globe from the distance and see us spoil our planet by expelling carbon into the atmosphere as a result of the suicidal activities we practice in our environment. Professor Keith Mountain and his fellow researchers are recording the melting of ancient glaciers under the effect of global warming and their findings may help convince the incredulous that we may be condemning our beautiful world to early extinction.
Mariusz Ratajczak’s discovery of very small embryonic like stem cells from the adult human bone marrow may lead to the successful treatment of a variety of illnesses presently without cure and circumvent the need for cells obtained from embryos and the moral and ethical dilemmas thus created. Similarly satisfying are the studies of Professors A. Bennett Jenson, Keith Palmer and their collaborators that offer the possibility of using tobacco, a plant perhaps destined for uses other than being crushed to bits, rolled inside a piece of paper and lit to have its smoke ruin lungs and most organs in the body, to grow a cancer preventing vaccine at a fraction of its present price that would make it accessible to millions. Nicotine can also ruin teeth, but Professor Dennis Kinane and his collaborators have found that poor oral hygiene and gum disease can affect general health by promoting other diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.
Amidst all potential dangers in the world stands music as an oasis of peace for the heart and soul, and our Cardinal Singers have been making wonderful music all over the world to the delight of listeners from Louisville to Spain from there to Germany and to Japan. These sounds are like those of angels and as expected from those ethereal beings help us bear the ills of nature, disease and our own irresponsibility.
I hope you enjoy this number and receive it as evidence of the work of some of the members of the great family that forms and sustains this wonderful institution: students and faculty.
Manuel Martínez-Maldonado, MD, MACP
Executive Vice President for Research