March 18, 2004 – Vol. 23 No. 12

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    In the News

    The Chronicle’s biweekly column In the News offers a digest of commentary and quotations by a few of the University faculty members, students and alumni who have been headlining the news in recent weeks. Chicago faculty members are some of the most frequently quoted experts, so space allows publishing references to only selected examples. To read many of the full newspaper articles mentioned in this column, visit the In the News column at the University News Office Web site: http://www-news.uchicago.edu/.

    Don Browning, Professor Emeritus in the Divinity School, co-wrote an op-ed that was published in the Tuesday, March 9 New York Times. Browning and his co-author Elizabeth Marquardt of the Institute for American Values wrote about the history of marriage as an institution. They suggest that “rather than expanding the status and privileges of marriage to same-sex couples and then gradually to other kinds of caring relationships, as logic would soon require, society should find alternative ways of meeting the needs not only of same-sex couples but also interdependent friends and dependent but unmarried kin. Tax benefits, legal adoption, welfare transfers, and more refined and accessible legal contracts should all be used to meet these needs—but not the institution of marriage.“

    George Chauncey, Professor in History and the College, was interviewed for an article published Sunday, Feb. 29, in The New York Times, which described the evolution of the gay rights movement and the currently growing issue of same-sex marriage. “Culturally, marriage has often been seen as maturation. But I don’t like to talk about a movement that way. There is no single gay agenda. Marriage can look like the most assimilationist gesture possible or, as has become obvious from the reaction, like the most transgressive and revolutionary gesture. This has emerged as the central issue of the gay movement less because of its being at the top of any gay agenda than because of the thunderous reaction it has produced.“

    Mark Ratain, Professor of Hematology/Oncology in Medicine and Chairman of the Committee on Clinical Pharmacology, was a primary source for a story that appeared in the Tuesday, March 9 Chicago Tribune, which reported on the debate between supporters and critics of drug advertisements. Ratain helped organize a debate on the topic at last year’s meeting of the American Society for Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics in Washington, D.C. “I have a big problem when I see ads that say, ‘Are you tired? Ask about Procrit.’ That’s a drug for a life-threatening condition. That’s not something that should be advertised. Anti-depressants? I have a problem with that. Basically any drug for a life-threatening illness or that requires chronic use, I have a problem with advertising that.“

    Austan Goolsbee, Professor of Economics in the Graduate School of Business, commented in a Saturday, Feb. 28 Chicago Sun-Times article on Peoples Energy Corp.’s decision to no longer award stock options to its top executives. “It’s gotten into the popular view that stock options fuel speculation and managers do things they shouldn’t. It’s kind of like derivatives got to be a dirty word because some people got into trouble with derivatives,“ said Goolsbee.

    Richard Epstein, the James Parker Hall Distinguished Service Professor in the Law School, was quoted in a Thursday, March 4 New York Times story on the recently released private notes and journals, which were kept by the Library of Congress, of the former Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun. Epstein commented on the character of Blackmun, who worked to preserve the right to an abortion by protecting the Roe v. Wade decision. “He was not a man with a generalized philosophy. He was an absolute straight shooter who thought that hard work would get him to the right place.“

    Gina Olson, Assistant Director of the Center for Gender Studies, was interviewed for a Monday, March 1 Chicago Sun-Times article that reported on the impact of women’s studies at colleges and universities. “One of the major shifts over the last 10 or 15 years,“ said Olson, “is that women’s study programs got renamed gender studies. Another shift is that the increase in the lesbian and gay issues had been integrated into gender studies, as well as race and class. This has broadened the area of study.“

    Hedy Kindler, Assistant Professor of Hematology and Oncology in Medicine, was quoted in a Tuesday, March 2 Chicago Tribune story about two new drugs being used to fight cancer cell growth. The drugs, Avastin and Erbitux, which are now available for use in hospitals, deprive cancer cells of the nutrients they need to grow and spread. “We’re in a new era of drug development for cancer,“ said Kindler. “The idea is to turn cancer into a chronic disease and to have people live better and longer. The next step will be to move these drugs into patients with earlier-stage disease that may be more curable.“