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hen snow started falling that April morning in Suches, Georgia, Jonathan Glass thought it would clear quickly, but instead it snowed steadily all day, covering the trail of the first annual Muscle Mountain Mania bike ride in white. Still, some 303 riders and 45 volunteers adapted: some cyclists shortened their routes, some hopped a local farmer’s cow trailer for a ride back to the lodge, and some actually finished the 62-mile snow-laden trail.
Glass, an Emory neurologist and director of the ALS Center, participated in the ride, which raised money for ALS research at Emory in honor of his patient, Bob Thompson, an avid cyclist who died of ALS in 2004. The event was organized by Thompson’s wife, Janie.
     "I see patients like Bob every week, slowly being robbed of muscle control and movement throughout their bodies," says Glass. "And every day, my fellow researchers and I return to the laboratory to investigate the causes of and potential treatments for this devastating disease. While celebrating life until the very end, Bob Thompson also imagined a cure for ALS. It was with a cure in mind that he and his wife Janie planned this event to support our work at Emory."
     Feeling helpless as the illness took hold, Bob and Janie Thompson turned their pain into hope as they envisioned a bike ride to raise money for ALS research. After Bob’s death in April 2004, Janie Thompson continued to turn grieving into positive action by organizing an annual ride. She came up with a name, Muscle Mountain Mania, and a motto, "Celebrate Life, Imagine a Cure," and she developed a website—
     The Muscle Mountain Mania inaugural ride raised $64,000 to support ALS research at Emory. This year’s ride, held on April 1, added $60,000 to that amount. Rather than fading, the memory of Bob Thompson is growing stronger in Suches and in the hearts hundreds of riders who are giving legs to a cure for ALS.


In March, the Winship Cancer Institute dedicated the new Vaughn-Jordan Healing Garden. With a fountain, plants and trees, seating, and a commemorative stone plaza, the garden provides a restorative retreat for cancer patients and their families. With support from the Vaughn-Jordan Foundation and the Wilbur and Hilda Glenn Family Foundation, the project was designated the 2005 Legacy Garden by the Southeastern Flower Show. Those interested in purchasing a commemorative paver for the second installment of the garden may contact the Development Office at 404-778-5175.



eland Chung is using nanotechnology to seek out prostate tumors in mice and then deliver the drug cyclopamine directly to the tumor. (Cyclopamine has been shown to block the prostate growth-enhancing gene, sonic hedgehog.) John Petros has discovered that more than 20 million men in the United States with a particular set of inherited characteristics and mutations in mitochonrial DNA are at significantly increased risk for developing renal and prostate cancers.
     These studies and others like them in Emory’s urology department are "revolutionizing the diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer," says urology professor and chair Fray Marshall. The department’s program in prostate cancer, spearheaded by Chung, is one of only 10 such funded programs in the nation, according to Marshall.
     At the first annual dinner for prostate cancer, held in September 2005, Emory raised $100,000 to support its research program with the help of key volunteers such as Dick and Linda Kruger, Pete and Ada Lee Correll, Clarence and Kenna Daws, and Jerry Wilson. The theme of the 2006 fund-raising dinner—slated for September 21 at the new downtown property, Twelve—is progress through research. Funds raised at this year’s event support prostate cancer research as well as studies of kidney stones and erectile dysfunction.
     For more information on attending the 2006 dinner, contact Sandy Mayfield, director of development, Emory urology, 404-778-5429,

n the final decades of the Soviet Union as the health care system unraveled, infant and maternal mortality rates spiked, with more than 50% of Russian babies born unhealthy. In response, the international medical community developed the Balashikha Project, a collaboration between Emory, the Future of Russia Foundation (FRF), WHO, and CDC. Now in its fifth year, the project is having a positive effect on maternal and infant health in Russia.
     Balashikha has two ambitious goals—to bring medical education and training to Russian health care professionals and to modernize and develop a regional perinatal center in Moscow. It aims to reduce neonatal morbidity by 50% in the Moscow region, an effort underwritten by FRF, Rotary Club of Atlanta, and Rotary International.
     Organizers already have converted an outmoded maternity ward in a Balashikha hospital to a regional referral center for high-risk mothers and babies in Moscow. And a medical team from Emory, led by pediatrician and Rotarian Alfred Brann, has traveled to Moscow three times each year since 2002 to train and exchange ideas. In turn, Emory has hosted Russian practitioners and nurses in Atlanta and held a distance-learning course linking Emory Crawford Long Hospital and Balashikha.
     "Infant mortality is not like polio, where you can simply give a vaccine," says Brann. "You have to have a system-wide reform providing for assessment, referral, and transfer to have an effect." The development of such a system is the focus of the current phase of the project, along with attention to improving primary health care for women of reproductive age. The medical team isn’t stopping there. They want to raise public health standards in Russia, such as adding folic acid to wheat to prevent birth defects, and to reform health care laws.
     "To change the national picture," Brann says, "we have to improve health care for every mom and baby, one at a time."

im Robbins knows cable inside and out. In January, Robbins retired after 20 years as president and 10 years as CEO of Cox Communications, the third largest cable provider in the country. He also knows too well the complications of juvenile diabetes. When his middle daughter, Payson, was only 2, she developed diabetes. Now a grown woman and newly married, she remains dependent on daily insulin injections.
     Recently, Robbins and his wife, Debby, decided to do something to help people who, like their daughter, have type 1 diabetes. They are supporting research at Emory to find new strategies for insulin independence for diabetics. Their younger daughter, Hilary, is a third-year medical student at Emory.
     "The reason we stepped up at Emory is because of Chris Larsen and the work he’s doing," says Jim Robbins. Larsen is director of the Emory Transplant Center and the clinical islet transplant program, whose team has completed 15 successful islet cell transplants in eight patients since 2003. Surgeons take islet cells from a donor pancreas to restore normal insulin production.
     The Robbinses learned about Emory’s active program in diabetes research through their involvement with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). Jim served as chairman of the international organization, and Debby was a long-time officer in the Atlanta chapter. Emory’s JDRF Center was created and funded in 2002 through a $4.1 million grant from JDRF to address rejection of donor islets by the patient’s immune system. In 2005, the foundation contributed another $8.5 million to advance islet transplantation to become a mainstream therapy for type 1 diabetes.
     Several projects are focusing on refining acceptance of the transplants without long-term immunosuppression. One tack researchers are taking for islet transplant recipients is a study of the safety and effectiveness of Efalizumab, a drug from a new class of therapeutic agents not previously used in transplants. They also are focusing on anti-inflammatory strategies for islet engraftment, the process in which islets become incorporated into the patient’s own system.
     Scientists at Emory’s Yerkes National Primate Research Center are exploring methods of inducing tolerance to allogeneic islet transplants (islets from within the same species). They also are using nonhuman primates to test the use of xenotransplantation, islets transplanted from other species.
     The goal of all these studies is to address rejection of donor islets by the immune system—a goal shared by the Robbins family.

oraine Williams and her late husband, Tom, always believed in the value of Emory heart care. When they needed heart services themselves, they turned to Emory for help: Loraine underwent valve replacement and open heart surgery at Emory, and Tom had bypass surgery. It’s fitting, then, that when the Williamses decided to support a worthy cause, they chose Emory once again.
     They made their first gift to medicine at Emory nearly 10 years ago. Today, the couple’s donations have grown to more than $500,000.
     Because of a recent gift Loraine Williams made to Emory’s heart services, the anticoagulation management clinic at 1525 Clifton Road has been named in honor of her husband, who died of thyroid cancer in 2002. At the Thomas R. Williams Anticoagulation Clinic, patients who take blood thinners receive the close monitoring they need to live healthy lives.
     "This is a wonderful service that Emory is providing to patients," says Williams, who is a patient of the anticoagulation clinic herself. "They follow up on you and enable you to lead a normal life. It’s lifesaving."
     Tom Williams, a well-known Atlanta business leader who served as chairman of Wachovia Bank and First Atlanta, was an Emory trustee emeritus. His philanthropy lives on through his wife.
     "It’s because of people like the Williamses that we can continue to improve our patient care," says Dean Thomas Lawley. "It’s because of their faith and investment in Emory that we can continue to recruit the best and brightest minds here to find more answers." —Terry McIntosh

n many ways, Ben Rechler is a typical teenage boy. He likes sports, both watching and playing them. In fact, he’s the goalie for a highly competitive boy’s soccer team on Long Island and an outfielder in a local baseball league, sometimes fitting practice for both into a single day. But unlike many 13-year-olds, Rechler already has stepped up to the philanthropy plate to help others. He recently gave a donation from his bar mitzvah money to the Emory Vaccine Center.
     During his bar mitzvah service, he spoke about his decision. "The Emory Vaccine Center is a research facility working hard to find a cure for AIDS. I chose this because a very close friend of me and my family is suffering from this disease. Everyone that knows this person loves him because he is the nicest person you will ever meet. Not only that, but he helps everyone that is sick even when he is sick, so I think that it is time for me to help him."
     The family friend to whom Rechler refers is Andrew Lipschitz, one of the first physicians in the country to contract HIV from a needle stick in the mid-1980s. Lipschitz, who is no longer in private practice, serves as the scientific adviser for Concerned Parents for AIDS Research. When Ben Rechler was looking for a worthy cause to support, Lipschitz directed him to Emory.
      Rechler’s first gift to the Vaccine Center was taken from a portion of his Chanukah present in 2004. His sister, Willi, also donated her Chanukah money to the center, which was doubled by a contribution from the children’s parents, Mitchell and Debbie Rechler. The Rechlers are committed to instilling in their children a culture of giving. Likewise, Ben’s uncle, Roger Rechler, matched his nephew’s bar mitzvah donation to Emory with one of his own.
     The family examples are taking hold with young Ben. He worked for a full year with his rabbi on preparing his bar mitzvah speech and on practicing to make the milestone perfect. At the Friday night service when he delivered his remarks, he read from notes. But according to Ben’s father, the most touching part of the service came during the thank-yous when Ben discovered a page of his speech was missing. "Well, you know me, and I’ve misplaced my notes," he improvised. "But I don’t need any notes to thank my wonderful parents, who I love." He went on to say how much he appreciated his parents and their example. Now the seventh-grader is setting his own example.

Dean Thomas Lawley lends a hand in clearing the site for the medical school’s new education facility, now under construction. As of April 2006, the medical school had raised $37 million in commitments for the 162,000-square-foot building, which is scheduled to open in late 2007.
Copyright © Emory University, 2005. All Rights Reserved