Malaria, Past and Future
It must be a heady time for all at the School with the Bloomberg
naming and the new malaria grants! Congratulations!
Beyond the incredible new stimulus for the malaria research, the
fun will begin as the School attempts to apply its findings in the
social, economic, and political environment of developing countries.
That challenge already fills a long history, one that the School
will need to take into account.
Fortuitously, the life of a legendary malariologist, Dr. Mohyeddin
Farid, DrPH '48, illustrates how few experienced malariologists
exist in the world. Mohi, whom I knew well, was not only brilliant
in his own work but as an Egyptian and an Arabic scholar. He was
the first to identify that the Prophet Mohammed died of malaria!
I enclose a brief note about Dr. Farid's remarkable life, which,
in the context of the School's new initiative, seems highly appropriate.
It should attract global public health attention. Dr. Farid died
Lee Howard, MD, DrPH '60, MPH '58
Reflecting on Philanthropy
As a longtime admirer of the School of Public Health and the myriad
achievements of its graduates around the world, I am pleased that
you had such good news to report on the inside cover of the spring
2001 issue. What a juxtaposition of stories, however; Mr. Bloomberg,
chair of The Johns Hopkins University Board of Trustees, financial
godfather of the School's difficult 1990s, now candidate for mayor
of New York City, has the School renamed in his honor, while below
Dean Sommer quietly points out, "The donor [of $100 million
to conquer malaria] has committed a fortune, not for personal reward,
but to win a victory for mankind."
The page provides a short course into the ways and morals of today's
philanthropy and raises important questions about the aims and responsibilities
of givers and recipients. I hope it will provide others an opportunity
to reflect as well.
Nancy Stowe Inui
for Essential Work
Thanks for your interesting review of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg
School of Public Health project that examined the association of
daily mortality and air pollution in American cities ["Airtight
Case Against Dirty Air," Spring 2001].
The purpose of this letter is to point out the essential role played
by Francesca Dominici, assistant professor of Biostatistics, in
this project. She has been the leader of most of the analyses central
to our New England Journal of Medicine (December 2000) report
and other project papers. Francesca and several other colleagues
including Frank Curriero have been critical to our success.
Again, thanks for your coverage of the air pollution mortality research
Scott L. Zeger, PhD
Professor and Chair
Department of Biostatistics
Thanks for the Memories
Receiving the beautiful medal commemorating the 50th anniversary
of my MPH graduation from the Johns Hopkins University School of
Hygiene and Public Health caused me to remember with pleasure and
pride the academic year I spent at the School and the great significance
it's had on my professional life.
Some years ago, as a former student of statistics professor Dr.
Margaret Merrell, I wrote her a letter on the occasion of her 90th
birthday, expressing my gratitude and admiration for her teaching.
In fact, after my experience with her, I decided to enter the field
of public health statistics. During the following years, I myself
became a professor in this discipline, and Dean of the Escuela de
Salud Publica de la Universidad de Chile. Today, as I approach the
age she was then, I treasure as an invaluable memory the handwritten
letter with which Dr. Merrell kindly answered me.
Reading the periodical publications from Johns Hopkins that so kindly
have been sent to me over these 50 years makes me feel proud to
be a former student of a University and a School with such a brilliant
history of development and progress. In a world divided by cruel
differences, where health problems are so enormous, I have no doubt
that Hopkins will continue making relevant contributions to overcome
Hugo Behm, MD, MPH '51
San Jose, Costa Rica
Et Tu, Al?
I liked Dean Alfred Sommer's critique of the current enthusiasm
for the "genetic revolution" ["Et Al," Spring
2001]. His comment should have a wider audience.
He seems not to know that the hypothesis relating dietary saturated
fat and cholesterol to the causation of CHD has been thoroughly
and expensively examined in the MRFIT and LCRP trials. Both failed
to support the hypothesis. The real culprit is dietary trans fatty
acids, so I think. This hypothesis has not been tested.
I suppose Dean Sommer gets vast amounts of unwanted advice, but
last summer I visited the School of Public Health and took a tour
of the buildings, new and planned. Buildings don't make discoveries,
people do. A creative person doesn't need much space, just a quiet
George V. Mann, MD, ScD '42
Dean Sommer responds: Thank you very much for your thoughtful
comments. There is little I would disagree with.
My understanding of the results
of the MRFIT and LCRP trials is somewhat similar to yours — that
trans fatty acids are indeed a disaster — but that only made them
even worse than saturated fat and cholesterol; they did not exculpate
Your observations on the seemingly
unbridled expansion of our facilities has been echoed by others.
All I can say is that it has not been our plan to "build buildings."
Our first and foremost priority is the recruitment of the most stellar,
promising faculty; despite all the devotion we give to limiting
the growth in faculty, and only recruiting the very finest, the
numbers constantly exceed our capacity to house them. In a modification
of "form follows function," we are simply forced to try
and have our "facilities follow faculty."