News and Notes

A roundup of all the latest news to come out of the Bayer School, including conferences and the Bayer School social media initiative.

Bayer School Hosts Film Screening

In honor of the 70th anniversary of the Jewish rebellion at the Nazi extermination camp Sobibor, a screening of the film Deadly Deception at Sobibor was held Nov. 11, 2013, in the Power Center Ballroom at Duquesne University.

Deadly Deception at Sobibor was sponsored by the Nathan J. and Helen Goldrich Foundation, Duquesne University and the Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences.

This documentary chronicles Yoram Haimi's attempt to uncover information about his uncles who perished at the Sobibor extermination camp in Eastern Poland. From a Moroccan-Jewish background, Haimi was educated as an archaeologist of ancient Israel and began the quest of a lifetime, intent on learning details of the "Deadly Deception" of the Holocaust at Sobibor.

Passing the Torch to a New Generation of JFK Assassination Researchers

Shale SymposiumThis fall, 50 years after the murder of President John F. Kennedy, the Cyril H. Wecht Institute of Forensic Science and Law took up the torch of assassination research at a three-day academic symposium intended to advance the collective understanding of what may be the world’s greatest cold case ever, and to pass interest in the case on to students and other new researchers.

Passing the Torch, the Institute's thirteenth annual symposium, convened experts in forensic science, criminal law, political science, journalism and other disciplines to analyze and discuss a wide variety of evidentiary, investigative and historical issues pertaining to the assassination. A sold-out crowd of over 500 people attended the symposium, which was held in the Power Center Ballroom and other campus locations.

Among the two dozen speakers on hand: first-generation researchers Mark Lane and Josiah Thompson, filmmaker Oliver Stone, Parkland Hospital surgeon Robert McClelland (appearing by videoconference), and, of course, the Institute's namesake and Advisory Board chairman himself, Dr. Cyril H. Wecht.

"We're very pleased with the progress we made here," said Dr. Wecht, who, as one of the earliest critics of the Warren Report, went on to serve on the U.S. House Select Committee on Assassinations, which concluded in 1979 that the president's death was probably the result of a conspiracy. "While we may not have found the "smoking gun," we did manage to synthesize multiple areas of research, bringing us that much closer to the resolution of this crime."

For more information about the conference, including the availability of video, please contact the Institute at wechtinstitute@duq.edu or 412.396.1330.

Regional Perspectives to Integrate Exposure & Exposome Measurement with Effects on Human Health Symposium

Duquesne University and Agilent Technologies sponsored the Regional Perspectives to Integrate Exposure & Exposome Measurement with Effects on Human Health Symposium on Oct. 10, 2013.

Children in Western Pennsylvania appear to be exposed to more toxic chemicals than other children nationwide, and children with autism may process these chemicals differently from other children, suggests a study by Duquesne University and The Children's Institute of Pittsburgh.

Dr. H.M. "Skip" Kingston, professor of analytical chemistry at Duquesne, collaborating with developmental pediatrician Dr. Scott Faber at The Children's Institute, has examined environmental pollutants and autism in children. In sampling Pittsburgh-area children with and without autism, Kingston and Faber found higher-than-national normal levels of some organic toxic chemicals.

"The magnesium and glutathione data support the presence of compensatory physiology in children with autism exposed to the high heavy metal and chemical stress of living in Western Pennsylvania," Kingston and Faber concluded, leading them to believe that children with autism detoxify differently from those without the condition.

The children in the study, with and without autism, had much higher blood concentrations of certain chemicals-benzene, toluene and xylene-compared to national concentrations.

Upcoming Mini-Symposium on Metals in Biological Systems

On Dec. 6, 2013, the Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences Center for Metals in Biological Systems will present the ninth annual Mini-Symposium on Metals in Biological Systems.

Environmental effects of metal ions are of concern, especially in Western Pennsylvania, and many researchers are actively addressing this aspect here in Pittsburgh. The Mini-Symposium on Metals in Biological Systems provides a forum for researchers and educators with expertise that spans from synthetic chemists to environmental toxicologists to biomedical scientists, who are at the interface of chemistry and biology to meet and discuss topics of common interests.

This venue fosters new collaborations and friendships between scientists with complementary skills and goals. It engages next generations of scientists into the current and emerging problems. One of the goals is to provide a platform for a diverse audience to share exciting new findings. In addition to the plenary lecture sessions, extensive poster sessions for undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral students are held to facilitate discussions in an open atmosphere. Exemplary posters presented by undergraduate students are recognized through awards.

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