The Rice Thresher, Vol. 96, No. 1, Ed. 1 Friday, August 22, 2008 Page: 6 of 32
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the Rice Thresher
Simmonses donate $3 million for
collaborative medical research
by Lily Chun
Thresher Editorial Staff
The Virginia and L.E. Simmons
Family Foundation donated $3 mil-
lion in May to enable researchers from
Rice, Texas Children's Hospital and
Methodist Hospital to work together
to conduct biomedical research.
Simmons said there were two fac-
tors behind the birth of the grant: One
has to do with cross-disciplinary re-
search involving genetics, mental sci-
ences, imaging, physics, biochemistry
and mathematics; another has to do
with the increasing difficulty of secur-
ing funding from the National Insti-
tute of Health, which he said is a key
source of medical-oriented financing.
"Unless you're a proven researcher
— 40 years or older — it's really hard to
get funds from them," Simmons said.
"The younger researchers, or research
dollars for new projects that don't have a
track record, are getting harder to find."
In order to receive the grant, re-
searchers from at least two of the three
institutions must collaborate together.
"We really want people to learn
how to work together and draw in oth-
er disciplines," Simmons said. "In the
past, Rice hasn't done a lot with Meth-
odist or Texas Children's Hospital, but
there are great projects that are being
done now with terrific success."
Simmons said he hopes the grant
will galvanize researchers to work to-
gether to accomplish more than they
could by themselves.
"While any type of research is
important, I think collaborative
research within the Texas Medi-
cal Center and Houston is going to
be the secret to long-term success
and breakthrough," Simmons said.
"There's too much going on in the
field, and there's so much expertise
in the medical center, that not to do
it collaboratively would be a terrible
waste of time, talent, opportunity
and potential duplication."
Simmons said he realized that the
three institutions needed to research
collaboratively because he is a trustee
at Rice and TCH as well as a member
of the board of Methodist Hospital.
We really want people
to learn how to work
together and draw in
"I have an unusually fortunate
position of being able to see what
the plans are and objectives are and
resources are at each of these insti-
tutions," Simmons said. "All three of
these institutions are all building sim-
ilar size and cost research centers, and
they're all going to be finished at the
same time, so they're all kind of excit-
ed about this idea of collaboration."
Simmons said TCH is building a
research center on neurological re-
search and is dependent on imaging,
mathematical modeling and physics —
something Rice researchers can do. He
added that Methodist boasts Dr. King
Lee, one of the top imaging doctors in
the world, and Dr. Chuck Frasier, one
of the top cardiovascular surgeons in
the world, who is working with Rice
researchers to design heart valves.
In fact, grant recipients will be
able to work with some of these re-
"The real thought leaders in these
fields are very interested in this — in-
terested in mentoring the younger ris-
ing stars," Simmons said.
Some of these thought leaders
include Dr. Huda Zoghbi, a Howard
Hughes-funded researcher, Rice's Vice
Provost for Research Jim Coleman,
Mike Lieberman at Methodist Hospital
and Morey Haymond at TCH.
"It's their support and backing in
helping make sure that the right scien-
tists get this down the line that's going
to make this work," Simmons said.
Coleman said one reason he got
involved with planning the grant was
because the Simmons' vision corre-
sponded with President David Lee-
bron's Vision for the Second Century
to have Rice increase its research ac-
tivity and scholarship program.
"We know one of the ways to be
able to [increase research activity] is
to collaborate as effectively as possi-
ble, particularly to take advantage of
enormous research opportunities at
the Texas Medical Center," he said.
Coleman said the project was
exciting because the outcomes of
the collaborative research could
"[The Simmons family] has the
vision that collaboration will ulti-
mately lead to new cures for disease
and hopefully ultimately ease human
suffering," Coleman said.
The application can be found at
is due Sept. 1. About two to three grants
per year — with a total of $200,000
awarded annually — can be awarded
for five years.
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Carless no more
Rice introduces student rental car system
by jocelyn wright
Students looking 10 pay less for
their daily commute to campis v/ill
have access to two alternatives this
year: Zipcar and NuRide. Zipcar,
which is targeted at students, is a car
rental service. NuRide, intended pri-
marily for faculty and staff, is a car-
pooling service. Both programs are
available through the transportation
Once we get more
publicity on campus
and people are more
aware of these pro-
grams I am sure they
will continue to use
Zipcar will allow students to rent
a car at the rate of $7 per hour with an
annual subscription fee of $35. The
hourly rental fee includes insurance,
gas and other expenses related to car
maintenance such as car washes, As-
sistant Transportation Manager Eliz-
abeth Gbordzoe said. Students can
sign up for the Zipcar program at the
launching event Aug. 26 in the Hous-
ing and Dining parking lot in front
of Baker College. Students will also
be able to see the two cars available
for rental, a Toyota Prius and a Volvo
S40, Director for Administrative Ser-
vices Eugen Radulescu said.
Although the Transportation Of-
fice has been interested in the Zipcar
program for several years, it ran into
a roadblock with the student age re-
quirements for rentals. Previously,
the program required that drivers be
21 or older to qualify for insurance on
the rental cars. Radulescu said the
Transportation Office was able to sign
up for the program this year because
the insurance requirement for drivers
dropped to 18 and over.
For those who already have cars
and are looking to split gas money
with others, NuRide is a free online
nationwide carpooling service that
helps its members coordinate car-
pools with people in their neighbor-
hoods. Gbordzoe said NuRide also
tracks the amount its members car-
pool and offers rewards such as gift
cards or tickets to the theater to mem-
bers who use the service frequently.
Students, faculty and staff can sign
up for NuRide at www.nuride.com.
Although the service has been
available for Rice faculty and staff for
approximately two years, Gbordzoe
said usage has been fairly low over
the past years. Gbordzoe credits high
gas prices with the increased usage
of the NuRide program over the sum-
mer. She said she is confident that
the number of participants in the pro-
gram will continue to rise.
"Once we get more publicity on
campus and people are more aware
of these programs 1 am sure they will
continue to use them," Gbordzoe
Radulescu said the Transportation
Office will try to make the Rice com-
munity more aware of the services it
offers. Gbordzoe said there would be
a speech on NuRide Sept. 9, and her
office is planning a transportation
fair Sept. 17 to raise awareness about
Vardi wins computing
by Sarah Mitchell
Thresher Editorial Staff
Computational Engineering Pro-
fessor Moshe Vardi received the As-
sociation for Computing Machinery
Presidential Award )une 21, in rec-
ognition of his contributions both to
the field and the association.
Vardi, the director of the Ken
Kennedy Institute for Information
Technology, led the ACM Job Migra-
tion Task Force, which studied the
phenomenon of offshoring and its
effects on the U.S. job market. In
2006, the task force published its re-
port, "Globalization and Offshoring
of Software." The study concluded
that while offshoring is a major phe-
nomenon, the computer technology
industry is still growing and thriv-
ing in the U.S. and will continue to
do so, as long as an effort is made
to keep up with global trends and to
continue to be innovative in a global
Additionally, the award also rec-
ognizes Vardi's contribution to the
ACM's flagship publication Commu-
nications of the ACM.
"1 lead an effort to revitalize the
flagship publication of the organi-
zation," Vardi said. "The magazine
is 50 years old and in the last few
years, it went downhill. For the last
three years, I've been reviving it."
Vardi serves as the magazine's
editor in chief. Last July, Vardi over-
saw the first issue of the revamped
publication. Vardi said he appreci-
ates being recognized for his efforts
and for his work.
Harlow appointed director of
Chao Center for Asian Studies
by Rachel Carlson
Thresher Editorial Staff
fani Barlow, a professor of history
and women's studies from the Uni-
versity of Washington, was appointed
in May to be the director of the Chao
Center for Asian Studies and the Ting
Tsung and Wei Fong Chao Professor
of Asian Studies. Due to a previous
commitment, Barlow will spend the
fall semester at the National Univer-
sity of Singapore and begin her offi
cial duties as director Jan. 1. Barlow's
scholarly journal, Positions, which
addresses East Asian culture, was
transferred to Rice in early June.
In addition to providing intellec-
tual leadership, Barlow will report di-
rectly to the office of Provost Eugene
Levy and oversee 26 full-time faculty
members and the department's ad-
ministrative structure. Richard Smith,
the interim director of the Chao Cen-
ter, said Barlow was chosen for her
interest and background in transna-
tional circulations and cross-cultural
"What we wanted and got in
Professor Barlow was a person who
could provide dynamic intellectual
leadership of the Chao Center's in-
terdisciplinary and collaborative ap-
proach to Asian Studies," Smith said.
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Chun, Lily & Farmer, Dylan. The Rice Thresher, Vol. 96, No. 1, Ed. 1 Friday, August 22, 2008, newspaper, August 22, 2008; Houston, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth443209/m1/6/: accessed February 29, 2024), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Rice University Woodson Research Center.