Doctors wait to evaluate
success of brain surgery
By LISA POLLAK
While the state's first brain tissue transplant patient
recovers at the University's Medical Center, doctors
debate the operation's ability to alleviate the symptoms
of Parkinson's disease.
Her doctors won't know whether the unnamed De-
troit-area woman has improved for three to five weeks,
said Dr. Terry Hood, one of four University surgeons
who conducted the four-hour operation last Friday.
Hood said the patient, given a 50 percent chance of
improving, understood that the last-resort procedure is a
very experimental treatment for patients unresponsive'
The nation's one million Parkinson's victims can-
not secrete dopamine, a chemical in the brain that
regulates neuromuscular functions. Symptoms include
senility, loss of balance, respiratory problems, and
During the procedure, University surgeons grafted
tissue from the patient's adrenal glands - which con-
tain dopamine - onto her brain. The operation has
been performed on 50 patients nationwide in the last
year, with mixed success and unknown long-term ef-
"Just a reduction in the extremes of her symptoms
is what she is hoping for," said University neurologist
Dr. Harry Greenberg.
Like most victims of this neurological disorder, the
woman can't move during the most severe points in
the sickness, Greenberg said.
Some physicians view the surgery as too experi-
mental for even the most severe Parkinson's victims.
"Our feeling is at this moment, more animal exper-
imentation is required before this should be brought to
the realm of patient care," said Dr. James Ausman,
chair of neurosurgery at Henry Ford Hospital in De-
But Hood said some patients improved dramatically
after the surgery, and none have become worse.
A spokesperson for the American Parkinson's Dis-
ease Association, which condones the procedure, said
two patients have died following the operation. "A fewv,.
however, remarkably come around. Otherwise patients
experience little or no change," said the spokesperson
who requested anonymity.
At a Parkinson's Disease symposium in New York
last July, doctors lauded the procedure but were skepti-
cal about its long-term effectiveness.
Dr. George Allen, chair of neurosurgery at Vander-
bilt University - where the surgery has been success-
ful in nine out of 18 tries - told Time magazine:
"This is still very much an experimental procedure. It
is too early to tell if the improvement is due to the
Michigan joins Vanderbilt and New York Universi-
ties in pioneering the use of the brain tissue transplant
surgery. Five more patients will undergo the procedure
this year at the University, Hood said.
Daily Photo by ELLEN LEVY
A job for Tide
Phi Delta Theta fraternity members play a dirty game of football with Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity mem-
bers during the annual Mud Bowl battle at South University and Washtenaw Streets.
Chem. expansion on schedule
By MICHAEL LUSTIG
Construction on the $60 million addition to
the chemistry building is about three months
behind schedule, but contractors are working
additional hours to reach the February 1989
completion date, an engineer said.
The new four-story building is the first part of
a three-step renovation of the department.
The target date for completion is February
1989, and a delay could push the date back to
May. If construction is finished on time, the
chemistry department should be moved in by
August 1989, said James Cather, LSA associate
dean for facilities.
An underground tunnel connecting the
construction site and the existing building
collapsed and had to be rebuilt, causing a four-
week delay, said Georges Selim, a senior
construction engineer with the University's Plant
And the construction has already been delayed
by unstable soil. Builders had to shore up
support beams because the soil base, largely
sand, is not strong enough to hold the beams on
its own, Selim said.
The focal point of the building will be a
central atrium, which will allow sunlight to
reach to the basement. The main floor will house
a 500-seat and a 120-seat lecture hall,
classrooms, and computer facilities. The upper
floors will be devoted to lab space.
Lab areas "are been designed with safety
factors in mind," Chemistry Chair M. David
Curtis said. Most labs will have one exhaust
hood per work station to remove toxic fumes.
Chemicals will be stored in private hallways to
minimize contact with students.
Hiring new professors is also part of the
internal renovation plan. In the past four years,
seven new assistant professors of "outstanding
quality" have been hired to replace retiring
faculty, Curtis said. He added that he believes
"the prospects of the new building have helped us
recruit new faculty." The new staff members have
been able to receive fellowships and grants
quickly, Curtis said.
The department has also requested that the
LSA Executive Committee create seven new
positions in the next several years. Curtis said
most of the appointments will have to wait until
after 1989 because "we really don't have any
more room in this building for additional
Even with all the planned improvements,
Curtis said that the popularity of chemistry has
been dropping nationally and that at the
University, "even the number of people taking
general chemistry has decreased in the past year."
He estimated that 250 more students took
introductory chemistry last year than this year.
Curtis said the disinterest is connected to a
national drop in medical school applicants.
Introductory chemistry is a basic pre-med course.
Even the number of students graduating with
degrees in chemistry, nationally and at the
University, has been dropping, Curtis said.
To make a chemistry concentration more
attractive, the curriculum will be revamped. One
plan, Curtis said, will eliminate the need for
general chemistry and allow students to go
straight to organic chemistry, which is now the
second course a student takes. This will free up
the student's senior year for independent research,
The second phase of the project is a $12
million renovation of the existing chemistry
buildings. The complex, first built in 1908 and
added to in 1948, will essentially be redone from
top to bottom, Curtis said. Air conditioning will
be installed as part of the renovation.
The final phase of the renovation is the
addition of an underground natural sciences and
Committee says research policy
allows for loose interpretation
By MELISSA RAMSDELL
Members of the Research Policies
Committee said Friday that the
University's new classified research
policy risks being loosely interpreted
because of "big political swings in
the next decade."
"I think it opens up the
possibility of swings in what is
decided to be permissible, which are
related to the political mood of the
society," committee member Tom
Juster, an economics professor, said
in the meeting with Vice President
for Research Linda Wilson.
The guidelines, adopted last
April, say that the University will
accept classified research grants
unless the research is not "clearly in
the public interest." Committee
member Rebecca Eisenberg said this
section of the policy allows the
University's Board of Regents to
make a political judgment about
whether classified research is in the
"I would rather not have a policy
that requires a lot of judgment calls,"
For example, Juster said, if the
country became more concerned
about national security, military
research could be interpreted as being
in the public interest and "some
faculty would feel they wanted to do
more military research."
The Research Policies Committee
recommended last November that the
regents adopt a more restrictive
policy that banned classified research
and contained more specific and
defined time constraints for
publishing research results. The
regents rejected the proposal.
The "end-use" clause, which
forbade classified research that could
have applications harmful to human
life, was removed, and the
responsibility for enforcing the
guidelines was given to individual
researchers, deans, department heads,
and the vice president for research.
Wilson said that of the 1,000
proposals passed since the policy's
adoption, only one was classified.
"Hopefully that's likely to be the
way things will develop," Juster
The new rules reduced the
committee's status to an advisory
role to the vice president. Under the
previous guidelines, the committee
had review power.
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Gale Research Company, a major
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