Briefly Noted

Issue Date: 
March 28, 2011

Pitt Jazz Ensemble to Hold Annual Spring Concert March 29

The Pitt Jazz Ensemble—a University of Pittsburgh student ensemble of 27 musicians—will hold its annual spring concert at 8 p.m. March 29 in the Assembly Room of the William Pitt Union.

Larry Coryell, one of jazz guitar’s masters, will appear as a special guest. Other performers will include local jazz musicians Cecil Washington, Latin drums; Jeff Grubbs, bass; Craig Davis, piano; and Roger Humphries, drums.

Concert tickets are $10 general admission and $5 for students and are available at the WPU box office or at the door the night of the concert. For more information, call 412-624-4187.

—Sharon S. Blake

Noted Biochemist, Former Pitt Professor to Discuss DNA Research April 4

Renowned biochemist and former Pitt professor Nigel Grindley will deliver the 2011 Tousimis-Lauffer Distinguished Lecture sponsored by the Department of Biological Sciences in the School of Arts and Science. A professor in the Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry at Yale University, Grindley will discuss his ongoing study of the enzymes that initiate DNA replication and rearrangement. His lecture, “Holding Hands While Doing the Twist: A Nano-Scale Rotational Bearing in DNA Recombination,” is open to the public and will be held at 4 p.m. April 4, Room 169, Crawford Hall. A reception will follow in Room 219B, Langley Hall, which is connected to Crawford.

Grindley’s noted career began during his doctoral studies at London University where he contributed to the discovery and characterization of transposons—or jumping genes—that facilitate the spread of bacterial resistance to antibiotics. This discovery initiated a long and productive quest to discover the molecular mechanisms through which transposons can jump from one part of a genome to another. Grindley’s work has led to both an atomic-level description of the specialized proteins that are involved and a nanoscale understanding of the dynamic process of DNA strand exchange.

Grimley earned his PhD degree from London University in 1974 and conducted his postdoctoral research at Carnegie Mellon University and at Yale. He joined Pitt’s biological sciences department as an assistant professor in 1978 before taking his position at Yale in 1980.

—Morgan Kelly

Health Book Center Relocates To The Book Center

The Health Book Center has relocated from its location at 3527 Forbes Ave. to inside The Book Center, 4000 Fifth Ave., effective Monday, March 28.

General books from the Health Book Center are located alongside other general books on The Book Center’s first floor, while textbooks for health sciences classes are located in the textbook department. The Book Center will also continue to offer health-related supplies and gift items.

This change comes in response to the rapidly changing  book/publishing industry, said Debra Fyock, director of The Book Center. With an increased variety of delivery methods, such as eBooks and rentals, and the rise of Internet book sales, the Health Book Center no longer required the amount of space it had needed in the past. In addition, Fyock said, the convenience of one-stop shopping at The Book Center was an added incentive to relocate.

—Alex Russell

School of Pharmacy, Steeltown Entertainment to Showcase Competition’s Polio-Related Videos April 3

The University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy and Steeltown Entertainment Project will showcase a number of videos that are part of a competition involving the region’s middle-school and high-school students. The event, which is open only to students who have submitted their work to the competition, will take place from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. April 3 in the School of Pharmacy, Room 402, Salk Hall. Titled “Take a Shot at Changing the World,” the competition was launched last year and invited students to create videos connecting the collective effort that fostered the development of the Salk polio vaccine at Pitt 55 years ago to current efforts to eradicate polio from the planet.

The initiative was inspired by the documentary The Shot Felt ‘Round the World produced in 2010 by Pitt Film Studies Program faculty member Carl Kurlander. The film tells the story of the Pitt research team’s and the Pittsburgh community’s roles in the creation of the Salk polio vaccine.

Kurlander said students from 55 schools are participating in the competition. During the April 3 event, a number of videos will be showcased for attending students as well as Peter Salk, a son of Jonas Salk and a featured interviewee in The Shot Felt ‘Round the World, who will attend as a special guest. Also expected to attend are other members of the documentary cast, including Randy P. Juhl, Pitt’s vice chancellor for research conduct and compliance and Distinguished Service Professor of Pharmacy.

The winning video will receive $5,000, divided between the student filmmaker and his or her school. Four finalists will receive $1,000 each, with each of the cash awards also divided between the student finalist and his or her school. The winning video will air on WQED-TV and be posted on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Web site. More information is available at

—Alex Russell