Study Finds Readability of Dense Breast Notifications Poor

 EMBARGOED by Journal of the American Medical Association until Tuesday, 4/26/16, 11 a.m. ET
CONTACT: Gina DiGravio, 617-638-8480,

Study Finds Readability of Dense Breast Notifications Poor

(Boston)—About half of American women have dense breasts, which makes it harder for mammograms to identify cancer and add to a woman’s risk for cancer. Nearly half of U.S. states have passed legislation requiring women to be notified of their breast density when they receive mammogram results, despite no scientific evidence or guidelines for appropriate care for women with dense breasts.

According to a new study, which appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association, there is wide variability in dense breast notifications (DBNs) across states and most are difficult to read and understand. Most DBNs are written at a literacy level exceeding that of the state’s population, suggesting that many women will find the information difficult to comprehend. This may create uncertainty for women attempting to make personalized decisions about supplemental breast screening and may heighten disparities in breast cancer outcomes.

Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and the VA Boston Healthcare System compared the content, readability and understandability of DBNs across the country. They also obtained the proportion of adults in each state lacking basic prose literacy skills from available statistics. “We found widespread discordance between states’ DBN readability and corresponding basic literacy levels,” explained lead author Nancy Kressin, PhD, director of the Health and Healthcare Disparities Research Program in the section of general internal medicine in the department of medicine at BUSM and Boston Medical Center.

They found only three states (out of 24) had DBN readability level at the recommended eighth grade level or lower, while some of the most difficult to read DBNs occurred where state literacy levels were the lowest.

The findings suggest that efforts should focus on enhancing the understandability of DBNs so that all women are clearly and accurately informed about their breast density status, its effect on their breast cancer risk and the harms and benefits of supplemental screening.

Local Researcher Awarded Fulbright Scholarship to France

CONTACT: Gina DiGravio, 617-638-8480,

Local Researcher Awarded Fulbright Scholarship to France

(Boston)–Katya Ravid, DSc, professor of medicine and biochemistry at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM), recently was awarded a Fulbright Scholar Award to France. She is the first to receive this honor in biomedical research at BU.

A Fulbright Scholar Award is one of the highest honors the federal government gives with regard to scholarship and international exchange. Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields.

Ravid will be leading innovative interdisciplinary research in hematopoiesis and megakaryocte/platelet biomedical research. She will serve as advisor to ongoing institutional interdisciplinary programs at the Biology and Pharmacology of Blood Platelet Institute within the University of Strasbourg and INSERM (French Institute of Health and Medical Research) France.

Ravid is the founding director of the Evans Center for Interdisciplinary Biomedical Research and BU’s Interdisciplinary Biomedical Research Office. She is an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and recipient of several awards including the Established Investigator Award from the American Heart Association, the University of Sidney International Scholarship Award, the Weizmann Institute Professorship Visiting Award, the Robert Dawson Evans Teaching Award and the Educator of the Year Award in Graduate Medical Sciences at BUSM.

She is the chair of the Thrombosis and Vascular Biology Scientific Committee at the American Society of Hematology, past chair of a Gordon Research Conference on the Cell Biology of Megakaryocytes and Platelets and member or chair of several national and international research planning or review committees.

The Fulbright Program aims to increase mutual understanding between the people of the U.S. and other countries, and it is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government. Since its beginnings in 1946, more than 360,000 Fulbrighters have participated in the Program, of whom a great number has resumed high leadership positions at university, state, community and industry levels.

BU Faculty Member Receives Highest Honor from Anxiety and Depression Association of America

(Boston)—Terence M. Keane, PhD, professor of psychiatry, clinical psychology and assistant dean for research at Boston University School of Medicine, is the recipient of the Jerilyn Ross Clinician Advocate Award from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA). The award honors the memory and lifework of Jerilyn Ross, cofounder and president from 1985 to 2010, and acknowledges a professional who exemplifies excellence and outstanding advocacy for patient education and care, training and research. It is the highest honor bestowed by the ADAA.

Keane, who also is the associate chief of staff for research and development at VA Boston Healthcare System and director of the National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder’s (PTSD) Behavioral Science Division, has worked to develop a world-class delivery network to better serve veterans. Using innovative, creative and practical solutions, Keane has improved access to care, reduced stigma and advocated on behalf of veterans.

Past president of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS) and the ADAA, Keane has published 14 edited volumes and 300 articles and chapters on the assessment and treatment of PTSD. For the past 36 years the VA, the National Institutes of Health, Department of Defense, and Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration have continuously supported his research on psychological trauma.

His contributions to the field have been recognized by many honors, including the Lifetime Achievement Award (2004) and the Robert Laufer Award for Outstanding Scientific Achievement (1996) from ISTSS, a J. William Fulbright Senior Scholarship (1993-94), the Outstanding Researcher in Behavior Therapy Award from the Association for Advancement of Behavior Therapy (2004), the Outstanding Research Contributions Award (2000) and the Distinguished Service Award (2002) from the American Psychological Association, Outstanding Research Contributions (2013) from the Society for Clinical Psychology (APA), and the Weisband Distinguished Alumnus Award (1998) from Binghamton University (SUNY) where he received his doctorate in clinical psychology in 1978.

Keane is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and the Association for Psychological Science. He consults, lectures and conducts workshops around the world on topics related to psychological trauma. His current work and interests surround the development of a VA registry of PTSD patients and the construction of an internet-based treatment program to assist in the readjustment of returning war veterans with post-deployment behavioral health problems.

ADAA is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to the prevention, treatment and cure of anxiety and mood disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder and PTSD and to improving the lives of all people who suffer from them through education, practice and research.

BUSM’s Professor Named Medical Director of the Child Family Health International

CONTACT: Gina DiGravio, 617-638-8480,

BUSM’s Professor Named Medical Director of the Child Family Health International 

(Boston)— Gabrielle A. Jacquet, MD, MPH, FACEP, assistant professor of emergency medicine at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM), has been named medical director of Child Family Health International (CFHI), a non-profit organization providing more than 30 Global Health Education Programs in 10 countries. Jacquet, an attending physician and director of Global Health in Emergency Medicine at Boston Medical Center (BMC), and assistant director of global health programs at BUSM, will assist with pre-departure training and research as well as curriculum development.

Jacquet’s background includes extensive work in medical education, strengthening emergency care in resource-limited settings and global health research. She is the managing editor of the department’s Public & Global Health Annual Newsletter (to be published in summer 2016). Most recently, Jacquet has focused her time on founding and serving as course director for the newly released Practitioner’s Guide to Global Health, a series of open-access, interactive courses available at

Jacquet received her medical degree from the University of Vermont and holds a master’s degree in public health from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She completed her emergency medicine residency at Denver Health Medical Center and fellowship training in International Emergency Medicine and Public Health at Johns Hopkins.

Founded in 1992, CFHI ( is a non-governmental organization (NGO) that provides global health education experiences and community empowerment in underserved communities around the world. More than 30 programs broaden students’ perspectives about global health and more than 8,000 students have participated in CFHI programs to date.

Originally established in 1848 as the New England Female Medical College, and incorporated into Boston University in 1873, Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) today is a leading academic medical center with an enrollment of more than 700 medical students and 950 students pursuing degrees in graduate medical sciences. BUSM faculty contribute to more than 668 active grants and contracts, with total anticipated awards valued at more than $693 million in amyloidosis, arthritis, cardiovascular disease, cancer, infectious diseases, pulmonary disease and dermatology, among other areas. The School’s teaching affiliates include Boston Medical Center, its primary teaching hospital, the Boston VA Healthcare System, Kaiser Permanente in northern California, as well as Boston HealthNet, a network of 15 community health centers. For more information, please visit

Cross River Bank and Boston University Center for Finance, Law & Policy to Host MPL Policy Summit

April 12th, 2016in 2016, News Releases

CONTACT: Boston University Public Relations, 617-353-2240 or

Cross River Bank and Boston University Center for Finance, Law & Policy to Host MPL Policy Summit

Policy summit will convene stakeholders to build consensus for regulatory framework that protects consumers and promotes innovation.

(Fort Lee, N.J.)—Cross River Bank and Boston University Center for Finance, Law & Policy (“CFLP”) today announced they will jointly host the first annual MPL Policy Summit, scheduled for September 13 in Washington DC. The Summit will bring together policymakers, academics, regulators, consumer advocates, and leading businesses, as well as media figures to have a well informed discussion about the best ways to grow this industry in a fair and compliant manner.

The MPL Policy Summit will provide insight on the current regulatory environment, share best practices and offer proposed guidance to strengthen the MPL industry’s regulatory framework. The MPL Policy Summit will stress the policy and regulatory issues facing the industry. A list of speakers, including industry experts and policy makers, will be posted on in the coming weeks.

“The MPL Summit will be the first open forum where industry participants can discuss the current regulatory environment, share best practices and propose guidance to enhance the industry’s overall framework,” said Gilles Gade, President and CEO of Cross River Bank. “This is a great opportunity to get industry participants, banking experts, and policy makers into the same room to collaborate on a substantive discussion about the current regulatory environment for marketplace lending and about what the future holds for the industry.”

Cornelius Hurley, Director of Boston University CFLP said, “The Center seeks to improve the efficiency, accessibility, fairness, transparency, and stability of domestic and global financial system. We work toward that mission through high-quality research and events such as the MPL Summit that seek to engage policy makers, and relevant industry stakeholders.”

The results of the Summit will be gathered, analyzed and disseminated to all industry stakeholders by the Alternative Lending Policy Institute, an initiative dedicated to creating an open dialogue between MPL participants and policy makers. The Institute is an open, transparent and inclusive industry-driven effort that will convene stakeholders and facilitate industry consensus to develop and maintain a regulatory framework that protects consumers and promotes innovation.

Cross River Bank’s, Gade added, “The Institute began as a working group led by Cross River Bank and a dozen MPL companies that collaborated on a joint response to a U.S. Treasury Department RFI in September 2015. The Institute will seek to address the issues raised at the Summit in a concrete way, and open a constructive and effective dialogue between the industry agents and federal and state regulators.”

About the Center for Finance, Law & Policy (CFLP) at Boston University:

The Center for Finance, Law & Policy (CFLP) seeks to improve the efficiency, accessibility, fairness, transparency, and stability of domestic and global financial systems.  The CFLP works toward that mission through high-quality research, issue-specific task forces, teaching, engagement with policy makers, and fostering collaborative initiatives among the University’s component schools and colleges. 

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Bone Weathering Helps Determine Time of Death

CONTACT: Gina DiGravio, 617-638-8480,

Bone Weathering Helps Determine Time of Death

(Boston)—Researchers have made great strides in determining how long a human body has been dead by looking at characteristics of bones subjected to the elements. In one of the first studies looking at freezing and thawing specifically, researchers have concluded that freeze-thaw cycles are an important component of bone weathering (the chemical and physical breakdown that bones undergo when exposed).

These findings, published in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, may one day assist in crime scene investigations.

According to the researchers, ages of older skeletons (such as mummies) are routinely determined with carbon dating, and ages of more recent skeletons lying on the ground surface at outdoor crime scenes often rely on the state of decomposition, including the species of insects found at the scene. Determining the age of skeletons in-between proves more of a challenge, relying on techniques such as bone weathering.

In this study Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) researcher James Pokines, PhD, repeatedly subjected a large sample of bones to freezing and thawing cycles over the course of three months. At intervals, the bones were examined under microscopes for evidence of cracking.

“Imagine what happens to the paint on your house,” explains Pokines, who is the corresponding author and assistant professor of anatomy and neurobiology at BUSM. “When exposed to the elements, it bleaches, cracks, dries-out and flakes away, exposing what is underneath. A similar process occurs in bones that have been left outdoors.” By mapping out the process of how bones decay, Pokines hopes to help law enforcement answer the question, “How long has this skeleton been lying outside?”

Researchers found that repeatedly freezing and thawing the bones caused some definite progression of cracking, but, the progression was not extreme. Pokines suspects that repeated wetting-drying of bones may play a larger role in bone weathering than freezing-thawing alone. “We hope that other scientists will perform similar research into what makes bones weather; including the freeze-thaw process, but also wetting-drying, warming-cooling, degreasing, mineral crystallization from ground water, and solar radiation.”

BU Professor Receives Excellence in Education Award from the Alliance of Medical Students Educators in Radiology

CONTACT: Gina DiGravio, 617-638-8480,

BU Professor Receives Excellence in Education Award from the Alliance of Medical Students Educators in Radiology

(Boston)—Kitt Shaffer, MD, PhD, has received the 2016 Alliance of Medical Students Educators in Radiology (AMSER) Excellence in Education Award, which honors an educator who has made outstanding contributions in medical student radiology education. Shaffer, professor of radiology at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and vice chairman of education at Boston Medical Center, was presented this award during the meeting of the Association of University Radiologists, in San Diego.

The AMSER Awards Committee votes each year to give the honor to the educator whom they feel has contributed the most to medical student radiology education in the United States. It is the only national organization for academic radiologists with a particular interest in medical student education.

“Dr. Shaffer’s tireless dedication to medical student education is remarkable, and we are incredibly fortunate and proud to have her among our BU faculty,” said Jorge Soto, MD, professor of radiology and vice-chairman of research at BUSM.

At BUSM, Shaffer is an advisor-at-large for medical students; lecturer in anatomy, histology, physical diagnosis and pulmonary medicine courses; and chairs the promotions committee for BUSM faculty, conducting many faculty development sessions focusing on clinician educators. She has developed a Resident-as-Teacher curriculum for the residents in radiology and was a founding chair of the Clinician Educator Development program, a series of national workshops for junior faculty interested in becoming better teachers.

A founding member and past-president of AMSER, Shaffer helped develop national curricular guidelines for medical student education in radiology. A longtime member of Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), she traveled to Shanghai, China, in 2008 as part of the RSNA International Visiting Professor program and currently leads a mentoring program for applicants to the RSNA Research & Education Foundation from the developing world.

After receiving a bachelor’s degree in biology from Kansas State University, Shaffer received her medical degree from Tufts University. She holds a doctorate in anatomy from the University of Kansas. She interned in medicine and surgery at Newton Wellesley Hospital and was a diagnostic radiology resident at Tufts New England Medical Center. She completed a fellowship in thoracic radiology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston.

Professor Christopher Muller, Ph.D., Awarded 2016 Hamburg Foodservice Prize For Contribution To The European Gastronomy Industry

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, April 4, 2016
CONTACT: Ahlea Isabella: +1 631-358-3868,; Leora Halpern Lanz: +1 516-680-8529,


(Boston, MA)—Dr. Christopher Muller was awarded the 2016 Hamburg Foodservice Prize by DVF Media Group at a formal industry gala for 500 people earlier this month in Hamburg, Germany. The award is presented “for the underlying creativity and pulse power of the winners from the professional gastronomy” industry. Since 1983, only one hundred individuals and organizations have been honored with the award; Professor Muller is the first individual from the United States to receive this special award.

“Chris is a gifted university professor in the School of Hospitality Administration at Boston University with a unique mix of knowledge and experience, both theoretical and practical,” says Thomas Hirschberger, award presenter and previous two-time winner.
“For nearly 20 years, Chris has been a teacher, coach, speaker and thought leader for the German and European professional catering industry.”

Muller’s work focuses on “Successful Multi-Unit Restaurant Management” which also serves as the title of his international management seminars. His three-day study programs teach companies how to overcome barriers when growing an organization from one to multiple units. Additionally, his book “The Leader of Managers” is used as an important guide by industry leaders around the world.

Professor Muller has been recognized as a global thought leader in hospitality and restaurant management education, research and executive education. He received his doctorate from Cornell University where he taught in the School of Hotel Administration. He helped found the Rosen College of Hospitality Management in Orlando, FL and served as Dean of Boston University’s School of Hospitality Administration where he now teaches as Professor of the Practice, Hospitality.

“No other thinker in the German and English-speaking restaurant world has as comprehensive an intellectual and practical foundation as he does,” adds Hirschberger.

Photos available upon request.

About the Hamburg Foodservice Prize

The Statute provides that: Once a year the Hamburg Foodservice Prize honors up to five companies and personalities who have rendered outstanding services to the foodservice industry. The award is given to an entrepreneur or personality who is able to trigger new ideas, lead to better market penetration, increase the profile of the industry, and to secure long-term success in the professional Gastronomy Market.

About Boston University School of Hospitality Administration: Established in 1981, Boston University’s School of Hospitality Administration (SHA) offers students a combination of rigorous academics, liberal arts curriculum and international experiences for the pursuit of success in lodging, restaurants, food service, and other avenues of the hospitality industry. SHA has a unique relationship with the city of Boston, where the area´s hotels and restaurants provide students with numerous opportunities for internships to satisfy work experience requirements for their degree. . The Boston Hospitality Review is a quarterly news magazine featuring the contributions of professors, alumni and industry colleagues of the School of Hospitality Administration.   Developing Leaders. Inspiring Entrepreneurs. Creating Remarkable Experiences. 

About Boston University: Founded in 1839, Boston University is an internationally recognized institution of higher education and research.  With more than 33,000 students, it is the fourth-largest independent university in the United States.  BU consists of 17 schools and colleges, along with a number of multi-disciplinary centers and institutes integral to the University’s research and teaching mission.  In 2012, BU joined the Association of American Universities (AAU), a consortium of 62 leading research universities in the United States and Canada.

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Survey Gives Clearer View of Risky Leaks From Gas Mains

March 28th, 2016in News Releases


CONTACT: Kira Jastive, 617-358-1240 or

Analyses across metropolitan Boston show the need for better detection of natural gas emissions.

(Boston) – March 28, 2016 – Precise measurements of leaks from natural gas pipelines across metropolitan Boston have demonstrated that almost a sixth of the leaks qualified as potentially explosive, and that a handful of leaks emitted half of the total gas lost.

The findings by Boston University researchers differ significantly from results gathered by gas companies and other monitoring groups, and highlight the risks that these “fugitive” gas emissions pose both for safety and the environment, says Margaret Hendrick, a PhD candidate in BU’s Department of Earth & Environment.

Hendrick is lead author on a paper published today in Environmental Pollution, which emphasizes the need to develop standardized ways to detect leaks and prioritize their repair.

Natural gas is considered a relatively clean fossil fuel, but a substantial amount of the gas is lost in production and distribution. In addition to the safety risks, methane (the main component of natural gas) is a major contributor to atmospheric warming.

Gas pipelines may date back as early as the mid-nineteenth century in east coast cities such as Boston. About a third of the installed pipelines use leak-prone materials such as cast iron, wrought iron or unprotected steel. There are thousands of gas leaks in these cities, but how the sizes of these leaks vary in an urban area “was a big black box until this project,” Hendrick says.

She and her colleagues looked at emissions from cast iron pipelines at 100 sites in greater Boston where leaks had been detected in the air along roadways. The researchers painstakingly analyzed the release of methane inside custom-built chambers created with plastic buckets and the lids from child sandboxes. “To fully ascertain the safety hazards of leaks really does require us to get out on the ground with instrumentation,” Hendrick explains.

This was the first survey that performed detailed measurements of loss from pipelines on this urban scale, says Professor of Earth and Environment Nathan Phillips, Hendrick’s advisor and senior author on the paper.

Risk of explosion doesn’t necessarily correlate with the amount of methane leaking, because the local environment around the leak also plays a part. “Even a very small leak can be a great safety concern,” says Hendrick, who notes that a 2014 gas explosion in Dorchester injured 12 people. There were 113 gas distribution pipeline incidents, with 18 fatalities, in the United States that year.

The seven “super-emitter” leaks that released half the methane in the study also raise warning signs for climate change. Methane accounts for about one tenth of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. On average over a 20-year period, a methane molecule released into the atmosphere traps about 86 times as much heat as does a carbon dioxide molecule, Phillips points out.

“We know we have a problem with aging natural gas infrastructure, but we need a better understanding of how big the problem is and the best ways to solve it,” Hendrick says.

One major issue is a lack of agreement on the number of gas leaks. For instance, Phillips led a 2013 survey on all Boston city roads that found 3,356 gas leaks. The most recent estimate from an annual report filed by National Grid with the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU), which regulates natural gas in the state, is about half that number.

Massachusetts categorizes gas leaks by risk, with potentially explosive leaks given a Grade 1 classification. The National Grid annual report cited a total of 36 Grade 1 leaks—but the BU fieldwork, identifying 15 out of 100 leaks as Grade 1, suggests that that figure may be low.

Even if all parties agree on how to assess gas leaks and prioritize their repair, fixing them won’t be inexpensive, and the cost is borne by gas customers.

“We’re stuck in this conundrum where if we were to retrofit this infrastructure quickly, there would be huge rate increases, and families might not be able to pay their utility bills,” Hendrick says. “But it isn’t if these old pipes will start leaking, it’s when.”

Bills now before the Massachusetts legislature may help to better address these challenges. In the meantime, the BU researchers encourage the public to stay watchful for any gas leaks. “People may become habituated to the smell of a gas leak, but if you smell one you should call it in to your local gas company,” says Phillips.

While the first priority in dealing with leaks is to assure public safety, it’s also critical to consider the climate implications, Hendrick emphasizes. Her paper proposes a leak classification scheme that includes both safety and climate risks.

“We are consuming more natural gas than ever before in the United States,” she notes. “We need research to try to characterize fugitive methane emissions across the entire natural gas system.”

That need is highlighted by the recent environmental disaster as natural gas escaped from storage in Porter Ranch, California—the worst such leak in U.S. history. “We’re starting to realize that unless the entire natural gas system is better regulated, the carbon footprint may be just as bad for natural gas as it is for coal and oil,” Hendrick says.

BU graduate students Bahare Sanaie-Movaheda and Xiaojing Tang, and Robert Ackley of Gas Safety, contributed to the study. Funding came from the Conservation Law Foundation, the Barr Foundation, the Environmental Protection Agency STAR program and the National Science Foundation ULTRA-Ex program.

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New Proteins Discovered that Link Obesity-driven Diabetes to Cancer

EMBARGOED by PLOS ONE until March 23, 2016, 2 pm ET
CONTACT: Gina DiGravio, 617-638-8480,

New Proteins Discovered that Link Obesity-driven Diabetes to Cancer

(Boston)—For the first time, researchers have determined how bromodomain (BRD) proteins work in type 2 diabetes, which may lead to a better understanding of the link between adult-onset diabetes and certain cancers.

The findings, which appear in PLoS ONE, show that reducing levels in pancreatic beta cells of individual BRDs, called BET proteins, previously shown to play a role in cancer, may also help patients who are obese and diabetic.

The research was led by Gerald V. Denis, PhD, associate professor of pharmacology and medicine at Boston University School of Medicine, who was the first to show that BET protein functions are important in cancer development.

Adult-onset diabetes has been known for decades to increase the risk for specific cancers. The three main members of the BET protein family, BRD2, BRD3 and BRD4, are closely related to each other and often cooperate. However at times, they work independently and sometimes against each other.

According to the researchers new small molecule BET inhibitors have been developed that block all three BET proteins in cancer cells, but they interfere with too many functions.

“The BET proteins provide a new pathway to connect adult-onset diabetes with cancer, so properly targeting BET proteins may be helpful for both,” explained Denis, who is the corresponding author of the study.

He believes this discovery shows the need for deeper analysis of individual BET proteins in all human cell types, starting with boosting insulin and improving metabolism in the pancreas of adults who are obese.

 “Without better targeted drugs, some ongoing cancer clinical trials for BET inhibitors are premature. These new results offer useful insight into drug treatments that have failed so far to appreciate the complexities in the BET family.”

Funding for this study was provided by a grant from the National Cancer Institute.