Case Western Reserve School of Medicine Researchers Find Light Stimulation Restores Breathing to Paralyzed Rats

Individuals with spinal cord injury at the top of the spine (location C-3 or above) have a hard time breathing. The spinal cord injury, a lesion in the spine, prevents the brain from sending messages to the nerves that operate the diaphragm. As a result, the diaphragm has a difficult time working and therefore the individual has a hard time breathing.

Most people with neurologically complete lesions above C-3 die before receiving medical treatment. Those who survive are usually dependent on mechanical respirators to breathe.

Using a rat model, Jerry Silver, professor of neurosciences at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, performed a half lesion in the spinal cord at C-2, preventing the diaphragm from functioning on the side of the lesion. Knowing that Channelrhodopsin-2 (ChR2), a light sensitive protein, made neurons fire when exposed to light, he then injected a virus containing ChR2 into the spine between C-3 and C-6, just below the lesion. After four days, Silver and his team exposed the spinal cord to light. Normal breathing soon followed. Read more.

Guatemala Medical Mission Tour Uses Community Grant to Purchase Otoscopes


When the Center for Community Partnerships invited Case Western Reserve University departments and groups seeking charitable funding to apply for its new Community Outreach Program grants, they received dozens of applications. Groups that were starting new outreach initiatives, as well as those who wanted to continue ongoing programs, shared their stories of helping the community, and how additional funding would allow them to do even more.

Ten campus affiliates were selected to receive $1,000 each for the 2008-2009 academic year to continue their outreach work in the areas of Pre K-12, senior citizens, health, social service, community and economic development, and lifelong learning.

Each of the winning groups will be featured in an ongoing series. Today's story is about the Guatemala Medical Mission Tour from the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing. Read more.

Campus News

The Collegiate Behavioral Health (CBH) Advisory Council invites the campus community to attend the open results discussion of the Healthy Campus Online Health Behavior Survey at 9:30 a.m., Friday, November 14, in the Toepfer Room, Adelbert Hall. Conducted in spring 2008 for undergraduate students, the survey was offered by the Masters of Public Health program in conjunction with CBH. The results of the survey, conducted by Claire Boettler, an MPH student and Scott Frank, associate professor, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, will be presented. This capstone research project was sponsored by the Division of Public Health within the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and the CBH. Refreshments will be served. Contact Jes Sellers at 368-5872 with questions.

The University Center for Innovation in Teaching and Education (UCITE) and the Office of Greek Life are sponsoring a faculty-student panel discussion on the topic of "Is Four Years and One Major Enough?" Topics that will be discussed include: Why are so many students trying to obtain double majors or dual degrees? Is it driven by intrinsic needs or by peer pressure? What should be the optimum number of credits per semester? Is the idea of a four-year degree becoming unrealistic? The discussion will be moderated by Provost W. A. 'Bud' Baeslack III, and the panel of speakers consists of Lynmarie Hamel, Office of Undergraduate Studies; Renee Sentilles, Department of History; James McGuffin-Cawley, Department of Biomedical Engineering; and students Brad Farley and Kelli Herrick. Pizza and sodas will be served. No prior registration is required.

For Faculty and Staff

The Department of Human Resources is sponsoring a session on the topic of "Coaching vs. Mentoring" from noon to 1 p.m., Tuesday, November 18, in Nord Hall, Nord Hall, Room 310. The presenter will be Denise Douglas from the Office of Graduate Studies. The session will explore the difference between being a mentor and being a coach, as well as advice on when to use each method. Register online.

The University Center for Innovation in Teaching and Education (UCITE) is hosting a discussion on "Theatrical Techniques in the Classroom" from noon to 1 p.m., Thursday, November 13, in the Allen Memorial Medical Library's Herrick Room. The session will focus on how teachers can adapt some of the elements of theater to be more effective in the classroom in both formal lecture and informal discussion/seminar modes. Pizza and beverages will be served. RSVP to UCITE.

For Students

The Undergraduate Student Government and the College of Arts and Sciences invite students to attend a Meet the Faculty Reception, a mixer for students and professors, from 12:30 to 1:45 p.m., Friday, November 14, in the Thwing Center ballroom. Students will have an opportunity to talk with professors about the various degrees offered within the college during this free lunch reception.


Applications are being accepted for resident assistants for the 2009-10 academic year. The position allows students the opportunity to gain skills that are transferable to many careers, including communication skills, working on teams, leadership skills and time management. Join the team and create a positive, inclusive living community in the residence halls. Applications are available for spring 2009 (January-May) term positions and for the 2009-2010 year. An application and more information is available online.

The Writing Resource Center (WRC) is offering its third and final fall term workshop from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., Friday, November 14, in Nord Hall, Room 410. The workshop will cover portfolio-keeping practices and address questions regarding the SAGES portfolio requirement. No RSVP is required. More information about the WRC can be found onlineContact the center by e-mail with questions.


The Department of Art History and Art announces a free lecture, "The Metamorphosis of Ruins for Cultural Identity," beginning at 7:30 p.m. this evening at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. Sponsored by the Cleveland Archaeological Society, the talk will feature Marcello Barbanera from the University of Rome.

Students for Organ Donation Awareness (SODA) is hosting several events during Donor Sabbath, a time honoring organ recipients, organ donors and the families of organ donors. From 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Thursday, November 13, in the 1914 Lounge, there will be an event featuring free food from Aladdin's and a candle ceremony in honor of those who have saved a life by donating one or more of their organs. Marcia Burke, a kidney recipient, will discuss her experience. Students are invited to play in SODA's 3-on-3 basketball tournament from 6-10 p.m., Friday, November 14. There will be prizes for the winners and runners-up of the tournament. The entry fee is $15 per team; CaseCash will be accepted. Proceeds will go to Donate Life America, an organization dedicated to organ donation education. Register in Nord Hall November 13 or 14 or e-mail

"Bad to the Bone: Can Our Genes Help Make Us Evil?" featuring Barbara Oakley of Oakland University will take place from 7-9 p.m. this evening at Strosacker Auditorium. Free, hosted by the Case Center for Inquiry.

The views and opinions of those invited to speak on campus do not necessarily reflect the views of the university administration or any other segment of the university community.

November 12, 2008

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Athletics Spotlight


Visit the Case Western Reserve University athletics Web site to read student-athlete profiles, check game schedules and get the latest scores and news updates. This week, learn more about Case Western Reserve University's freshman volleyball middle hitter Tricia McCutchan. The University Athletic Association named her to the All-UAA Second Team.

Case in the News

Cleveland scientists harness light-activated switch in algae to treat paralysis in rats

The Plain Dealer, November 12, 2008
When the sun shines on the slimy green algae coating the surface of a pond, something miraculous happens. Inside the millions of one-celled creatures, sunlight's energy trips a molecular on-switch. A team of Cleveland scientists has borrowed the algae's light-activated switch and has harnessed it to treat paralysis. In an extraordinary account published today in the Journal of Neuroscience, the Case Western Reserve University team reports that they installed light switches from algae in the dormant spinal cord nerve cells of paralyzed rats, then triggered the rats to breathe normally again by flashing the neurons with a blue light. Jerry Silver, a neuroscientist, is the lead researcher.

Foreclosures: Washington to the rescue?

Business Week, November 12, 2008
Federal agencies plan to push harder to modify mortgages for homeowners facing foreclosure. After years in which attempts to help focused heavily on the private-sector institutions that dominate the global capital markets, expect a new emphasis on jobs, big employers, and ordinary consumers. Susan Helper, an economist at Case Western Reserve University, comments.

Gene behind several birth defects uncovered

Newspost Online (India), November 11, 2008
A multidisciplinary research team at Case Western Reserve University has uncovered a gene the absence of which may lead to a number of birth defects, which affect the development of the heart and head. Gary Landreth, a professor in the School of Medicine's Department of Neurosciences, says that abnormal development of the jaw, palate, brain and heart occur due to genetic errors that affect a key developmental pathway.

Exercise helps heart failure patients

TechJournal South, November 12, 2008
Heart failure patients who regularly exercise fare better and feel better about their lives than do similar patients who do not work out on a regular basis, say researchers at Duke University Medical Center. Ileana Piña, professor of medicine at Case Western Reserve University, comments.

Higher Ed News

Ohio's public colleges lure businesses with the promise of a skilled work force

The Chronicle of Higher Education, November 14, 2008
At a time when college leaders across the country are talking about their contributions to state and local economies, Eric Fingerhut's vision is notably bold and comprehensive. He says that the state's higher-education system needs to be transformed to squarely focus on economic revitalization. Fingerhut is chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents.

Colleges struggle to preserve financial aid

New York Times, November 10, 2008
Educational institutions are cutting spending, delaying projects and holding off on hiring. While many schools and colleges say their commitment to helping families pay the costs of education will not waver, some experts maintain that as investments shrink and donations fall, some institutions will be forced to cut back on financial aid.