New Orleans area higher education briefs for July 8, 2013

Cowen named
to education panel

Tulane University President Scott Cowen has been named to the Presidential Innovation Lab, an American Council on Education effort to examine how new educational technologies, such as massive open online courses can help more Americans, especially low-income young adults and nontraditional students, earn a college degree.

Cowen is among 14 leaders from a diverse group of colleges and universities who will participate July 21-23 in the Presidential Innovation Lab at the Institute for the Future in Palo Alto, Calif., funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The lab meets again in October in Washington, D.C.

Discussion topics will include how MOOCs and other new learning technologies can help close persistent attainment gaps between disadvantaged youth and others; how such educational innovations could be used by all students toward degree completion; and the impact of such innovations on the design and delivery of instruction, institutions’ recognition of learning and the finances of higher education.

Cowen was appointed to the White House Council for Community Solutions in 2010, which advised the president on ways to reconnect and empower young people who are neither employed nor in school. He is also interested in developing a Tulane-affiliated course on the topic of civic engagement in a democratic society.

LSUHSC professor named to editorship

John England, the Grace Benson professor and head of Neurology at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans School of Medicine, has been named editor-in-chief of the Journal of the Neurological Sciences, the official journal of the World Federation of Neurology.

Nicolas Bazan, Boyd professor and director of the Neuroscience Center of Excellence at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans, has been named associate editor for Basic and Translational Sciences. Nicole Villemarette-Pittman, Neurology Research Development administrative director and neurology instructor at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans School of Medicine, has been appointed managing editor in New Orleans.

England is a past president of the American Association of Neuromuscular and Electrodiagnostic Medicine and chairman of the Polyneuropathy Task Force of the American Academy of Neurology, the American Association of Neuromuscular and Electrodiagnostic Medicine and the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. He is a past president of the American Academy of Clinical Neurophysiology. He serves on the Guideline Development Subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurology, which he has chaired since 2009. He has been the editor for the Neuromuscular Disorders section of Current Treatment Options in Neurology since 2003.

Volunteers sought diabetes drug study

Tulane University is one of 37 centers participating in a nationwide five-year study to compare the effectiveness of diabetes drugs.

Funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Glycemia Reduction Approaches in Diabetes: A Comparative Effectiveness (GRADE) study needs volunteers to test the risks and benefits of four diabetes drugs widely used in combination with metformin, the most common first-line medication for treating type 2 diabetes.

Researchers at Tulane and the other centers want people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes within the last five years. The volunteers may be on metformin but not on any other diabetes medication. During the study, participants will take metformin along with a second medication randomly assigned from among four classes of medications. During the study, participants will receive all of their diabetes medications free of charge, including at least four medical visits per year.

If metformin is not enough to help manage type 2 diabetes, doctors may add one of several other drugs to lower blood sugar levels. But while short-term studies have shown the effectiveness of different drugs used with metformin, there have been no long-term studies of which combination works best and has fewer side effects.

“We are pleased and excited that NIH has selected Tulane University to conduct this important trial in New Orleans,” said Vivian Fonseca, professor of medicine at Tulane University School of Medicine and principal investigator for the Tulane study site.

“We will conduct the study through the NIH-funded Clinical Trials Unit at Tulane and also in New Orleans community clinics, bringing research-evaluating treatments to the community. The results of the trial are likely to help guide us in treatment decisions in the future.”

For information on participating in the study, call (504) 988-0200.

UNO’s Fos named to Gold Key Society

University of New Orleans President Peter J. Fos became an honorary member of the Golden Key International Honor Society’s UNO chapter.

Golden Key recently held its first new member recognition event at UNO in more than a decade.

The 147th Golden Key Chapter UNO was originally chartered on April 17, 1990, but, until recently, the group has been inactive, officials said. The UNO group inducted more than 100 new members over the last three months, growing from 13 members to more than 135.

The chapter also distributed five honorary memberships, recognizing Fos, Robert J. Eichhorn, keynote speaker at the event and a past director of Lions Club International; Natalie M. Costa, instructor in the UNO Psychology Department; Eliza M. Ghil, professor and chair of UNO’s Foreign Languages Department, and Sean P. Hickey, instructor and manager of UNO’s Chemistry Department. James A. McAllister, instructor in French and Spanish, was recognized as the group’s chapter advisor.

Founded in 1977, Golden Key accepts undergraduate members in the top 15 percent of their class and top performing graduate students from all academic disciplines.

Shakespeare Fest to stage 2 productions

The New Orleans Shakespeare Festival at Tulane will present “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)” and “Romeo and Juliet” during July.

The Complete Works will run through July 17 at 7:30 p.m. on Sundays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays at the McWilliams Hall, Lab Theater. Tickets are $15.

“Romeo and Juliet” will be performed July 11-27 with evening performances at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and matinees at 1:30 p.m. Sundays at Dixon Performing Arts Center annex, Lupin Theater. Tickets are $25.

The production is set in the Napoleon-occupied Italy in the 1800s, and explores the difficulty of creating peace in a culture conditioned not only to accept but to relish violence; and questions if Romeo and Juliet’s love can triumph over centuries of violence, rage and bloodshed.

For information, visit or call 504-865-5106.

Compiled by
the New Orleans bureau