penn retakes 2nd place

The University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine reclaimed its second-place ranking on the list of research and training grants awarded to medical schools by the National Institutes of Health in fiscal 2004.

Penn was awarded 947 grants totaling $393.6 million last year, according to figures released by the federal agency last week.

With a budget of $28 billion, the NIH is a critical funding source for scientists at medical schools and other research institutions. The research also can have a strong impact on economic development, leading to the creation of companies and jobs tied to medical advancements.

Dr. Arthur H. Rubenstein, executive vice president of the University of Pennsylvania Health System and dean of the university’s medical school, noted Penn’s grant funding increased 9.4 percent last year at a time when the NIH awards to medical schools were up 3.9 percent.

That means there was more competition in what was an already competitive environment, he said.

Rubenstein said part of Penn’s strategy for attracting new grants was to follow the blueprint created by the NIH and focus more research in areas such as cardiovascular health; diabetes and obesity; and translational medicine (moving research from the lab bench to the patient bed). At the same time, he said, Penn continues to keep its commitment to other key areas such as oncology and neurosciences.

Rubenstein said while Penn is thrilled to be back in second place, a position it held from 1998 to 2002, the actual ranking is less important than the university’s effort to continually bring more research funds onto the West Philadelphia campus.

It takes extraordinarily good scientists who are flexible enough to respond when national imperatives change, he said.

Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore continued to lead all medical schools, with NIH grants totaling $449.5 million. Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, which displaced Penn in the No. 2 spot in 2003, slipped to fourth last year with grants worth $371.7 million. The University of California-San Francisco School of Medicine climbed one slot to third place with grants totaling $380 million.

Philadelphia is home to three other medical schools that ranked in the top 100.

Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University dropped four places last year to 50th, with 228 grants totaling $78.7 million. In 2003, the Center City medical school ranked 46th with $81.5 million in grants.

Dr. Robert L. Barchi, Jefferson’s president, said while he is never happy to see any slippage in the medical school’s rankings, the institution is already recruiting new physician-researchers to replace those who left before his arrival on the Center City campus last year.

Barchi said Jefferson’s fiscal 2005 rankings also will be down because of last year’s departure of internationally known cancer researcher Carlo M. Croce, who left Jefferson to lead Ohio State University’s human cancer genetics program.

I think after another year our numbers will grow again, Barchi said.

As part of a long-term planning process, Jefferson has identified several key areas where the university will focus its research efforts. Those areas include oncology; cardiology; neurosciences; infectious diseases, vaccine and biodefense; health-outcomes research and public health.

Temple University School of Medicine also slipped four slots, to 84th from 80, despite a slight increase in its grant amount, which was $28.1 million last year and $27.5 million in 2003.

In an interview last month, Dr. John M. Daly, dean of the medical school, said Temple has worked aggressively to bring more researchers to its campus.

In the past two-and-a-half years, Temple has recruited 191 members to its nearly 500-member faculty. Daly said Temple’s NIH funding has already increased as a result of that effort, which he believes will be reflected in next year’s and future NIH rankings.

Drexel University — which lists grant figures for its medical school and the rest of the college together — ranked 91st last year with 61 grants totaling $20.4 million. The medical school was not ranked in the top 100 in 2003.

Bill Stephenson, Drexel’s vice provost for research, said in the 2003 report the NIH did not include a combined figure for the college and its medical school — which is how Drexel tracks its NIH dollars.

We’ve been growing very rapidly this year, he said. Our grants to date are up 60 percent compared to the same time last year.

Stephenson said Drexel has expanded its research team by hiring a dozen assistant professor researchers, along with two mid-level faculty members — Dr. Timothy Block, a liver specialist who focuses on hepatitis research, and Dr. Jennifer Culhane, an obstetrician/gynecologist who specializes in research on the epidemiology of premature births — during the past three years.

We’ve placed an increased emphasis on research as one of our key missions, Stephenson said, particularly in the basic sciences with our biochemistry group, neurosciences group and microbiology group. All three of those groups have grown very rapidly for us. … I’m hoping we are going to jump up [in the 2005 rankings] quite a bit.

Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, the city’s fifth medical school, received four grants totaling $705,675.

national attention

We, members of the group affectionately called Philly Basketball Fans, seek your undivided attention as the NBA Draft day draws near. As general manager of [insert name of any one of 30 NBA teams here], you have searched long and hard for the right player, the perfect fit for your team: a hard-nosed defender who dives for loose rebounds and excites the home crowd, who also possesses an uncanny ability to shoot the ball, not to mention a knack for friendly yet courteous conversation off the court and a generous personality demonstrated by active membership in charitable organizations.

Concisely put, you want a Lebron James. Fear not, our beloved general manager, for you will hardly be disappointed this summer. The 2005 NBA draft features some of the best and brightest stars of the future, and although there is no silver bullet embodied by the likes of Lebron and Yao Ming of previous years, the depth and the talent in this year’s draft rivals that of any other year.

But being the loyal Philadelphia fans we are, we implore you to consider the dazzling local products the City of Brotherly Love has to offer. Indeed, here you will find a plethora of talented athletes ready to make the jump to the NBA and eager to help any team improve. Though there is no Kobe Bryant (Lower Merion HS) in this year’s draft, players like Dwayne Jones (St. Joe’s University) and Hakim Warrick (Friends Central HS) who honed their skills on Philadelphia’s playgrounds are as ready as any other draft pick to make a difference on the next level.

Ranking fifth in the nation in both rebounding (11.6) and blocks (3.0) this past season, the 6’11” center Dwayne Jones grew up in Chester, PA and recently finished his junior year at nearby St. Joseph’s University. He was the first player in ten years to average a double-double for the Hawks, a team that, despite losing stars Jameer Nelson and Delonte West to the NBA last year, went 24-12 in the regular season and reached the Championship game of the National Invitation Tournament. Scouts commend the center’s athleticism and NBA-ready chiseled body; if you are the GM of the 76ers or the New Jersey Nets, two teams greatly in need of athletic big men, Dwayne Jones is your man.

A former teammate of Jones’, 6’5” Pat Carroll is another stellar player who plays a very different brand of basketball. The graduate of Hatboro Horsham HS finished his career at St. Joseph’s as their all-time leader in 3-point field goals (294) and 3-point percentage (44.5), and was named the Atlantic 10 conference’s co-player of the year. If selected in the draft, Carroll, a venerable scorer (18.3 ppg) who graduated this year, will undoubtedly make a living on the three-point line in the NBA. Teams like the Atlanta Hawks or the Utah Jazz may find him the perfect complement to their 3-point shooting-deprived rosters.

Down I-76 and into University City you will find the former home of perennial star Tim Begley, another fantastic shooter who graduated this year from Penn. With accurate shooting and deft passing skills in his arsenal, Begley spearheaded his team to a 54-2 record during his last two seasons and a berth in the NCAA tournament last season. He was named the Ivy League’s 2005 Player of the Year, ranking 2nd all-time in career 3-pointers (246) in the Ancient Eight. If you manage the LA Clippers or the New Orleans Hornets, you may consider Begley a worthwhile pick, not to mention amusing with his trademark leg kick-out after each shot release.

Hakim Warrick is perhaps the most athletic of these Philadelphia ballers. This Friends Central HS graduate dribbled a basketball for the first time in his hometown, Wynnewood, PA. Warrick attended Syracuse University and went on to lead the school to the NCAA Tournament title in 2003 alongside NBA-bound Carmelo Anthony. Projected to go as early as 15th in the draft by www.nbadraft.net, Warrick uses his long 6’9” frame and quick leaping ability to out-rebound and outscore opponents in the paint. But that’s only part of the package- Warrick is also noted for his all-around skills and versatility, having learned the fundamentals from his cousin Fred Warrick who now plays as a shooting guard in Europe. The New Jersey Nets are speculated not to pass on Warrick, to compliment Vince Cater in hopes of replacing Kenyon Martin.

As you, a General Manager in search of promising talent, can see, Philadelphia may just have what you’re looking for. From Dwayne Jones to Hakim Warrick, this city is proud to be home to such budding stars. When draft day is finally here, we hope you will consider one of these prospects as the building block of your future team.

tanning salon-style

It is the brainchild of a society obsessed over appearance. It lures the confident and the self-conscious, the mighty and the meek, the beautiful and the ordinary. It’s also what makes some people look orange.

Tanning salons, taking root in the 1970s and flourishing in the 1980s, are becoming extremely popular among today’s youth and have developed into a national epidemic, regularly attracting over 20 million people a year. With the rise of Hollywood Tans (which is by now fairly ubiquitous throughout the country), indoor tanning has become synonymous with the idea of year-round tans, something that people have now been able to enjoy even without going on vacation.

Looking to tan indoors? No sweat. There are many tanning salons in Philadelphia, so one is bound to be near. If you’re the type that swears by good, reputable service, look no further than Hollywood Tans, which has locations on 1107 and 2101 Walnut Street, as well as one on 1506 Spruce St. For $19.99 per month with no sign-up fees or a yearly contract, you can become a member and receive unlimited tanning at one of their tanning booths, where the maximum stand-time is only 11 minutes.

If Hollywood Tans is simply not your thing, other tanning salons that have sprouted in the area include Soleil Tanning Center (202 S 12th Street), Salon Sabel (2020 Penrose Ave), and appropriately-named Sun Worshippers (1326 Spruce St). Also, many local beauty salons now own tanning beds and booths to many a salon-goers’ delight.

As you search for the perfect tanning salon, remember: these seemingly safe, hassle-free beautifying salons are not without their hitches. Studies have clearly shown that sunlight, whether natural or artificial, does damage to your skin. There are two types of ultra-violet rays emitted by sunlight: UVB and UVA. UVB rays, containing shorter wavelengths than their counterpart, are mainly responsible for sunburn. UVA rays, considered the more potent of the two, deeply penetrate the skin and are noted as the primary cause wrinkles and raise the potential for skin cancer. Unfortunately, most tanning salons, desiring efficiency and quick tans, implement the use of UVA rays.

That shouldn’t scare the pale away. If you do decide to tan inside, infrequent trips to the salon would be the best bet for maintaining healthy skin. And there’s also one big yellow alternative to salons. If you enjoy being in the great outdoors, be sure to wear 15+ SPF sunblock. Though less concentrated, there UVA and UVB rays are still shining into your skin. Still want the look without breaking a sweat. Tan-in-a-can is always available at the local drugstore (that is, if orange suits you well.)

education at the mann center

The Mann Center for the Performing Arts — part of what is being billed as Philadelphia’s Centennial District in Fairmount Park — will open a new education center as part of its expansion plans.

The Mann Education and Outreach Center, a studio and workshop space that can be used for schoolchildren and other groups, is the largest of the capital improvements. Other additions include an outdoor lobby known as Peco Plaza, new entry gates, improved roads, expanded parking, pedestrian paths, rest rooms, concessions and improved access for the disabled. And, for those that have helped make the changes happen, the Pitcairn Donor Terrace and Garden.

In all, the Mann will spend $13.2 million in improvements to be finished in time for the 2006 season, which coincides with the organization’s 30th anniversary. They are the first significant renovations to the outdoor music venue, which was opened by philanthropist Frederic Mann in 1976.

The plans were disclosed last July, when the organization unveiled a $13 million upgrade as part of a longer-term, $35 million vision that would include backstage improvements, as well as a year-round restaurant. The Mann has not set a definite time frame for the remaining upgrades.

Of the $13 million needed for upcoming improvements, $11 million has been raised, the Mann said.

We’re going to get to $13 million and take a breath, said Mann Center President and CEO Peter B. Lane.

The Mann Center, Please Touch Museum, Philadelphia Zoo, Negro Leagues Baseball Memorial and miscellaneous Fairmount Park attractions are part of what’s being called the Centennial District, after the exhibit that was staged there in 1876.

This is a very exciting time for Fairmount Park and the community with the relocation of the Please Touch Museum, the expansion of the zoo and now the Mann’s new vision for arts and culture, said Peter G. Gould, vice president of the Mann’s board of directors and chairman of the zoo’s board of directors.

Much of the focus in the Centennial District will be on kids.

In the case of the Mann, some 17,000 students a year participate in education programs at the center. It hopes the number is closer to 25,000 by 2009, it said.

It offers several free programs, including a Young People’s Concert Series, as well as All-City Master Classes and the Connecting Arts-N-Schools program, in which performers go into Philadelphia schools.

The Mann also offers 60,000 tickets through its community-based Access to Arts program.

mercato

Thirty minutes into savoring the artisanal cheese plate at Mercato, I knew this would be a dining experience to remember. The cheeses gradually disappeared as I constructed miniature, perfect bites, spreading each onto sourdough, smearing it with lavender-infused honey and finally topping it with a rosemary-scented cherry or pressed figs. A sip of Spanish wine, purchased elsewhere and brought to this B.Y.O.B, capped each taste.

Appreciating good food for all its sensuous, aromatic value is tantamount at an evening at Mercato, the month-old Northern Italian restaurant opened by the owners of neighboring Valanni. A meal begins with bread and three types of olive oils. This time there was one from Chile, another from California and another from Italy, aged for 18 years in oak barrels. Just as the knowledgeable staff promised, each oil had a distinct flavor – one nutty, one spicy and one creamy.

The main course lived up to the high expectations raised by the appetizer. The black bass was given a nice contrast of sweet caramelized cipollini onions in a tangy red wine reduction sauce. The fish was succulent, and melted in my mouth alongside porcini mushrooms and marinated artichokes.

The dessert selection is limited to only three choices, but the trio of gelatos and a flawless cappuccino satiated my sweet tooth.

At times, the service was over-attentive with no less than four people tending the table, all demonstrating a slightly contrived vocabulary. When general manager Ed Hackett checked on us, he asked, “How are your flavors?” And, isn’t there a limit to the number of things describable with qualifiers like oven-roasted” or “slowly braised?” But that is part of Mercato’s charm. The menu and atmosphere lends to its patrons’ relishing each bite and noticing the nuances of each taste.

The tiny dining room is cozy, seating 60 without being cramped like other Center City BYOBs, and the open kitchen at the back of the room takes up less space than some coffee tables. On nice summer nights, the restaurant opens its massive windows to let in a cool breeze allowing customers to take in a modest view. Four small tables on the sidewalk offer the option of al-fresco dining.

While prices may be a bit outside of most students food budgets, the value is far greater here than at most other restaurants in the neighborhood. Appetizers range from $7 to $10 and most entrees are under $20

the ultimate sport

All you need is a Frisbee, some friends, and these simple rules, and you’re ready to go. You can waste away hours this summer and have a blast with this popular game. Ultimate is as easy as throwing a Frisbee itself, but it’s much more fun. Read on to learn the rules, but you’ll have to actually play to learn what all the fuss is about.

Invented in Maplewood, New Jersey in 1968, Ultimate is a team sport in which two teams, consisting of seven players each, compete to score the most points. A point is scored when a pass is caught in the end zone. Sounds a bit like football, right? Well it is, except you’re playing with a Frisbee, and no one should be getting a concussion.

According to Wikipedia.org, the field used for an official game of Ultimate is played on a grassy surface measuring 70 by 40 yards, with end zones 25 yards deep. However, if there is a smaller area or fewer players present, you can still get a good game going. The Frisbee is tossed to decide who will receive it first. Then, both teams line up by their own end zone, and just like the kickoff in football or soccer, the defensive team pulls, or throws, the Frisbee to the offensive team to begin the game.

The offensive players need to throw the disc to each other to get down the field until a player manages to complete a pass to the end zone. Each player has ten seconds to throw the Frisbee to a teammate, and no player is allowed to run while in possession of the disc. But like in basketball, the player in possession of the Frisbee is able to move his or her body on a pivot foot. Before the disc is thrown, the closest defensive player counts out the amount of time an offensive player holds the Frisbee, which is known as a stall count. When a pass is completed, the player who caught the pass continues down the field until the team is able to get a pass into the end zone. Following a point, the team that was on defense goes to the other end of the field and waits for the pull.

The defenders are not allowed to grab the Frisbee from the offense. But if the throw made by the offensive player is not completed, it is a turnover, and the Frisbee is given to the other team. That team is then the offensive team, and they take turns going for a point. If the throw is intercepted, the same thing happens—the defensive team becomes the offensive team and vice versa.

Turnovers also occur if an offensive player drops the disc, a defender blocks the Frisbee in the air and it falls to the ground, or if the Frisbee flies out of bounds.

Fouls can be called if there is contact, but unlike in most sports, the players themselves are responsible for all calls. According to Wikipedia, this is part of what is known as the “spirit of the game.” This places emphasis on fair play, sportsmanship, and respect among players.

Now grab a Frisbee, and enjoy.

oh so good-a deserved name

Buffets rank fairly low on the culinary totem pole, and often for good reason. Atlantic City’s have a kitsch value going for them, but Philly’s often feel more like cafeterias without a sliver of atmosphere. Bland food is cooked in huge quantities and dumped in steaming trays without a bit of love.

The three-branch chain of Oh So Good, however, distinguishes itself in an otherwise uninspiring club. The newest location, on South 11th just below Market, is a welcome addition to this lunch truck district, offering up both standard buffet fare and some surprising additions. There’s the stock meatloaf, mashed potatoes and fried chicken, but those buffet warhorses are overshadowed by a salad bar with dark leafy lettuces, thick, red tomatoes that look like Jerseys and not the California imports they probably are, and a grilled vegetable medley of eggplant, zucchini and peppers.

The buffet’s best choice is a chilled asparagus salad. Asparagus is often overcooked until the stalks are limp and the color of pea soup, but at Oh So Good, it’s quickly blanched, retaining its crispness and splendid shade of green, then topped with a flavorful onion and pepper relish.

Of course plate weight determines price, but while other buffets seem to serve only the densest foods, Oh So Good’s bountiful vegetarian choices means a plate piled high often comes in under $4.99, the per pound price.

The super budget conscious will find that the lightest, and therefore cheapest foods, tend to be the healthiest