News in Brief

August 28, 2001

News in Brief


Oliver Sacks: “House calls at the edge of the mind’
Oliver Sacks, author of the best sellers “Awakenings” and “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat,” will address the 2001 Chancellor’s Convocation at the Kohl Center Wednesday, Sept. 5, at 7 p.m.

Hosted by Chancellor John Wiley, the event is an official welcome to the university for new students, though all students, faculty, staff and the general public are invited to attend the free event. No tickets are required.

Sacks studies the link between the body and the mind, and celebrates the humanity and creativity of the human spirit. A world-renowned neurologist and humanist, he has been described as a physician who makes house calls at the edge of the mind. His case histories, studies of life struggling against adversity, are told with compassion and care. His books urge readers to look at the familiar with new eyes and treasure the little things we often take for granted.

In 1966, Sacks encountered survivors of the great epidemic of sleeping sickness, which had killed millions in the 1920s. Administering the new drug L-DOPA, he saw these patients — frozen for decades — awaken. His best-selling book about their experiences, “Awakenings,” inspired a film starring Robert DeNiro and Robin Williams.

“The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat” brought Sacks’ work even greater public attention with heartbreaking and inspiring tales of patients with perceptions remarkably altered by various neurological conditions.

A book signing with Sacks, coordinated by the University Book Store, will follow the convocation, and free Babcock ice cream will be served.

Pharmacy deli to open
The new Rennebohm Pharmacy Building will open a quick-serve deli in time for the academic year. The “ApotheCafé” on the second floor will serve bakery and beverages, 7:15-9 a.m., and lunch, 10:45 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

Anyone with a current UW–Madison ID card may purchase food at the deli by using the university’s WisCard debit card program, which accesses debit account balances through the UW ID card. Customers also may pay with cash.

The deli is managed by the Division of University Housing, which also operates four dining rooms, three coffee houses, and two made-to-order/carryout facilities on campus. University Housing’s registered dietitians are planning the menus and creating special recipes for the new deli.

Bash welcomes new students
The first big event of the academic year is the Memorial Union Bash, Saturday, Sept. 1, from 9 p.m.-2 a.m. Aimed at new students, the bash introduces newcomers to the myriad programs and activities at the Union, in a smoke- and alcohol-free environment. Beer sales will end at the Union at 8:45 p.m.

Bash events are free and include live music by Deals Gone Bad; a free screening of “Meet the Parents”; a climbing wall; Mini Courses, including dance lessons; pottery and yoga; ComedySportz; a coffee house; free snacks and beverages; various giveaways; a condom casino; karaoke; and much more.

Science shows scheduled
The university will bring its most popular on-campus science presentations to the community in several free events this fall.

The Wisconsin Idea Explorations in Science will be presented Wednesdays, 7-8:30 p.m., in the auditorium of the BioPharmaceutical Technology Center Institute, 5445 East Cheryl Parkway, just off South Fish Hatchery Road in Fitchburg Center. The presentations are:

  • “Science is Fun!” Wednesday, Sept. 19, featuring Bassam Shakhashiri, professor of chemistry and the newly appointed William T. Evjue Distinguished Chair for the Wisconsin Idea.
  • “Discover the Nanoworld, the World of Atoms!” Wednesday, Oct. 17, featuring Arthur Ellis, Meloche-Bascom Professor of Chemistry.
  • “The Wonders of Physics,” Wednesday, Nov. 14, showcasing Clint Sprott, professor of physics and recipient of the Van Hise Outreach Award.

    For free tickets, call 262-4566 by Wednesday, Sept. 12.


Locally grown, organic food on residence hall menu
When freshmen arrive this week, they will find residence halls featuring food raised on Wisconsin farms and organically grown.

The university’s food service is adding four items to the dining center menu that come directly from Wisconsin farms. Students will enjoy tortilla chips made from organic blue corn grown in Janesville, apples grown in Richland Center, environmentally friendly potatoes grown in the Central Sands region and hamburger from cows raised without synthetic hormones.

Bob Fessenden, who leads the residence halls dining service, says student demand for organic food is growing. This reflects overall trends in the food industry, where the organic market is growing at a rate of 20 percent a year. After adding the apples and blue corn chips to the food service menu in the spring, Fessenden decided to offer all four locally grown items this fall.

Students ask for locally grown and organic food on the menu for economic and environmental reasons, as well as freshness and taste.


Does estrogen improve memory?
In a small, but carefully designed, study, a Medical School geriatrics researcher has found that high doses of a particular form of estrogen are associated with measurable improvements in attention and memory in women who have Alzheimer’s disease.

Sanjay Asthana, associate professor of medicine and a practicing geriatrician, published the findings of his research team in the Aug. 28 issue of Neurology, the journal of the American Academy of Neurology. Asthana joined the faculty from the Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System and the University of Washington, where the research was conducted.

The primary goal of the study was to discover whether giving women with Alzheimer’s a high dose of estradiol (the most potent form of estrogen) via a skin patch would improve their cognitive abilities, particularly attention and memory.

As a group, the women who received the estrogen patch performed significantly better than the placebo group in verbal and visual recent memory (remembering words and figures). They were also able to name more pictures on a memory test.

“A great deal more research must be done before we can recommend estrogen as a treatment for memory problems in Alzheimer’s patients,” says Asthana. “However, these findings suggest that giving a high dose of estrogen via the patch is associated with significant improvements in some important measures of memory.”