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Trendsetters - May 2006

Karen Dow
University of Central Florida Professor, Beat M. & Jill L. Kahli Endowed Chair in Oncology Nursing, School of Nursing Orlando

Her dad: "I consider my dad a survivor."

Traveler: "Just about everywhere" -- Australia, Korea, the Philippines, New Zealand, Japan, China, Spain and elsewhere

So now: Spring break in Mexico and, for the summer, "back to Paris"

Cooking: "My big goal in life is really to have a cookbook or be on 'Iron Chef America.' " She cooks all cuisines and readily experiments. "In one sense, it's just like chemistry."

Recent dish: Tea-smoked duck

Degrees: Bachelor's, Georgetown University, 1975; master's, Boston College, 1980; Ph.D., Boston College, 1992

Supporting Survivors

Karen Dow

As a young oncology nurse, Karen Dow cared for breast cancer patients. The experience sparked an interest in cancer survivors that has led to her holding the first endowed oncology nursing chair at the University of Central Florida and completing two major federal- and foundation-funded studies of breast cancer survivors' quality of life.

Born in the Philippines (her father survived the Bataan Death March), Dow grew up in St. Louis. Her father, a physician, wanted her to be a doctor too, but she followed her mother into nursing. She worked for a time at Boston's Beth Israel Hospital, which was pioneering breast-conserving cancer treatment that attracted young patients from around the world. Dow took an interest in their care and in preserving their fertility. She's written three textbooks. Her third, "Women and Cancer," came out just this year.

At UCF for 11 years, Dow says, "There are so many needs, and it's such a huge state. I just see I can make a difference here."

This year, she's finishing a quality-of-life study of 256 central Florida breast cancer survivors. Participants received face-to-face visits, follow-up calls and audio and written materials, including tip sheets (internet info sometimes overwhelms more than helps).

Patients discussed pain, fatigue, fear, lymphedema -- swelling in the arms -- and issues like returning to work. Those who got the intervention scored much higher, much sooner on a battery of quality-of-life tests than a control group that got the intervention after six months. Survivors in the control group actually declined in quality-of-life measures before rebounding but never reached the level of those that had the intervention earlier.

Says Dow: "It supports what we believe about survivors -- that with education and support they can do very well after treatment."

» W. Gregory Sawyer, University of Florida associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, has devised a very wear-resistant and low-fiction lubricant designed for the military.

» Aswani Volety, Florida Gulf Coast University marine and ecological sciences chair, uses oysters as indicators of ecosystem health, while colleague Greg Tolley, director of FGCU's Coastal Watershed Institute, leads a scientific team addressing concerns about watershed health, use and conservation.

» Grammy-nominated producer and Florida Atlantic University eminent scholar Michael Zager founded the university's commercial music program four years ago. It now has 90 students majoring and its own unique, student-run record label, Hoot/Wisdom Recordings, that released two CDs last year. Hoot/Wisdom has eight faculty and student artists either recording or about to start recording.

Research With Teeth

peter Murray
Nova Southeastern University College of Dental Medicine
Postgraduate research administrator, assistant professor


Toothbrush and toothpaste recommendations: Buy products with the ADA seal, and buy the newest available. They have the most up-to-date research behind them.

Education: Bachelor's, 1996, University of St. Andrews; Ph.D., 2000, University of Birmingham, United Kingdom

Non-clinical: "I've always enjoyed research and discovery. With research, it's always new."

Following dental researcher Peter Murray around his laboratory is far easier than following what he's saying about tooth pulp stem cells, scaffolds and the metabolic dyes in the tissue culture flasks he examines.

This much becomes clear: Murray, 37, is key to the plan of Nova Southeastern's 8-year-old dental college to make a name in pioneering research. Murray researches using adult stem cells to grow teeth and tissue to restore and replace diseased and damaged ones -- work that Dr. Marc Balsam, president of the American Association of Endodontists, singled out as innovative in the association's December journal.
A native of Scotland, Murray came to Nova three years ago at the behest of Dr. Franklin Garcia-Godoy, the college's associate dean for research and editor of the American Journal of Dentistry. The college at the time had only one 400-sq.-ft. lab. "I was taking a big risk," Murray says. Now it has 35,000 square feet of research lab space.

Garcia-Godoy and Murray have brought $2.5 million in research money to Nova, including a $1-million National Institutes of Health award to devise faster and cheaper biocompatability safety testing methods by using cultured organ tissue in labs rather than human and animal trials. The work could lower development costs in all medical fields. They also work on improving toothpastes, filling materials and other treatments. But adult stem-cell work holds the breakthrough promise. "We're very interested in where stem cell research can take dentistry," says dean Robert Uchin. "That's why Peter's here."

Murray calls it the future of dental care. It also fits the research strategy of a young college. Says Murray: "We have to jump ahead of the competition to get anywhere." Christina Frederick-Recascino
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Associate provost, Daytona Beach

Degrees: Bachelor's, 1985, SUNY-Geneseo, psychology; Ph.D. in psychological development, 1991, University of Rochester
Task: Lead Embry-Riddle's push into securing more private corporate money and government funds for research and development

For instance: Coordinating efforts to further develop Embry-Riddle's research capabilities on unmanned aerial vehicles for military and civilian uses and, with external relations Vice President John Metzner, turn Daytona's airport with $18 million to $30 million in government and Lockheed Martin and Transtech Airport Solutions funding into a test-bed for new airport management and security technology. "This is big. This is big. Everyone in aviation will want to come see this." She hopes to draw in additional private companies and their technologies.

Bio: Raised on an apple farm in western New York, Frederick-Recascino, 41, started college at 17 with a certainty that psychology was her field. After a doctorate at the University of Rochester, she taught in Utah and at UCF before joining Embry-Riddle six years ago.

Attraction: Embry-Riddle's human factors and systems department emphasizes scientific psychology, the interplay of humans and technology and ergonomics and designing products that are easier for people to use. "This is where psychology should be going," she thought. Joining Embry-Riddle turned out to be "the best move I've made in my entire life."

Military Support

"The overarching theme is developing chemical and biological sensors that would be effective in homeland security and combating terrorists and also supporting the military in battlefield situations," says the University of North Florida's Jay Huebner, 66, of three Department of Defense research grants totaling $2.7 million he's working on. Huebner is a Kansas native and founding faculty member at UNF. His first professional work was on the Atlas rocket. He has degrees in physics and electrical engineering and post-doctoral work in biophysics and photochemistry. A favorite saying: "Dividing nature into academic disciplines is a concession to human weakness."