Winter 2008 Vol. VI, No. 2
Inside the Gate
Views from Campus
AUB, in collaboration with the United Nations Habitat Program,
held a consultative meeting for municipal, governmental, and non-governmental
groups active in south Lebanon to discuss ways to support the postwar
reconstruction effort. The October 18 meeting addressed all aspects of
a new two-year project—Good Governance for Enhanced Post-War Reconstruction—that
UN-HABITAT is implementing in partnership with the union of municipalities
of Tyre, Bint Jbeil, and Jabal Aamel in cooperation with Beit bil Jnub
and ACTED (Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development) Associations
The project is funded by the governments of the Netherlands and Cyprus
with $800,000 and $500,000 respectively. During the next two years it
seeks to reach some 4,000 affected families living in south Lebanon, helping
to rebuild destroyed houses while preserving the local architectural style.
There are also plans to set up regional technical offices to ensure the
sustainability of the project.
Led by Jala Makhzoumi, associate professor of landscape design and eco-management,
the project will strengthen the capacities of the municipalities and concerned
local groups, further their role in the areas of rebuilding according
to spatial planning considerations and specific design guidelines, and
monitor and oversee the process of reconstruction as a tool to improve
and speed up rebuilding in some of the areas that were most heavily destroyed
during the July 2006 war.
Launching Geo 4
AUB, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the United Nations
Information Center (UNIC) hosted the West Asia launch of the Global Environment
Outlook 4 (GEO 4) report on October 26 in Bathish Auditorium, West Hall.
Professor of landscape design and ecosystem management Rami Zurayk, who
contributed to the report, addressed the group at AUB and provided an
overview of the GEO 4 Report.
GEO 4 is a compilation of reports that highlights environmental, social,
and economic challenges and developments both regionally and globally
during the past two decades. The most comprehensive United Nations report
on the environment, GEO 4 was prepared and reviewed by hundreds of experts
from around the world. It addresses issues of air quality, poverty and
inequality, health, gender inequality, global warming and climate change,
pollution and gas emissions, and many other environmental concerns and
their effect on the economy, the atmosphere, and the ecological food chain.
Board of Trustees Announces New Members
Ayman Asfari, Carol Bellamy, Carlos Ghosn, and Gabriel Rebeiz were elected
last fall to join the American University of Beirut’s 37-member Board
of Trustees in New York. Three alumni, Yusef Abu Khadra, Abdulsalam Haykal,
and Raja Trad, who were proposed for nomination to the board as a result
of the Worldwide Alumni Association of AUB (WAAAUB) elections held earlier
this year, were also elected to the board at its November meeting. (See
Alumni Happenings for more information on these alumni.)
Elected to the AUB Board of Trustees:
Ayman Asfari is the group chief executive of Petrofac Limited,
which designs, builds, commissions, and operates facilities for oil and
gas production, gas processing, and oil refining both onshore and offshore.
He was previously the
chairman and chief executive officer of Petrofac International
Ltd., managing director of Petrofac UK Ltd., and managing director of
Desert Line Projects (DLP) in Muscat, Oman.
Carol Bellamy is president and chief executive officer of World
Learning, a nonprofit international organization that promotes international
and intercultural understanding worldwide through education and development.
She is formerly the executive director of the United Nations Children’s
Fund (UNICEF), director of the United States Peace Corps, and managing
director of Bear, Stearns & Co., Inc. She was named one of the “100 Most
Powerful Women in the World” by FORBES Magazine in 2004.
Carlos Ghosn is the president and chief executive officer of Nissan
Motor Co., Ltd., Renault S.A., and a director at Alcoa Incorporated. He
is a former director of IBM and Sony and was chairman, president, and
chief executive officer of Michelin North America, Inc., from 1990 to
1996. Ghosn was made commander of the British Empire in 2006. He received
an honorary doctorate from AUB in 2003.
Gabriel Rebeiz (BS ’82) is a leader in research and development
of the technology used in ultra small radio frequency and micro-electromechanical
systems (RF MEMS). He is a professor of electrical engineering at the
University of California, San Diego. In 1991 he was the recipient of the
National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator Award.
IAC Symposium 2007: “Act Two, Misunderstanding, Misinterpretation,
Misinformation— Education versus Ignorance”
In celebration of AUB’s 140th anniversary and the successful end of the
Campaign for Excellence, AUB’s International Advisory Council (IAC) held
a symposium at the New York Historical Society on November 15, 2007. Dr.
Richard A. Debs, chairman of the IAC, introduced the evening’s discussion
on “our favorite topic, the Middle East.” And why call it “Act Two”? “We
thought we’d use the same title again because unfortunately, not much
has changed in five years,” said Debs in his introduction. Lakhdar Brahimi,
former undersecretary- general, United Nations and director’s visitor
at the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton University; Vartan
Gregorian, president of the Carnegie Corporation; Paul Volcker, former
chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System; and
Jim Wolfensohn, former president, World Bank, spoke during the hour-long
event. (A full transcript of the presentations and Q&A session covering
a range of topics including the role of America in Afghanistan and Iraq,
US-Iranian relations, and the Israeli- Palestinian conflict, may be found
at MainGate online.) A reception and dinner followed, during which Dr.
Thomas Q. Morris, chairperson of the Board of Trustees, presented the
AUB University Medal to Dr. Kamal A. Shair honoring him for his leadership
of AUB’s successful Campaign for Excellence.
IFI: Peacemaking on Three Continents
The Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy welcomed former UN peace mediator
Alvaro de Soto to AUB on October 22 where he gave a public lecture, “Lessons
Learned from a Quarter Century of Peacemaking on Three Continents.” De
Soto argued that the United Nations has not been playing the role of mediator
in the Middle East, but rather a peripheral, shepherding role. De Soto’s
lecture is the first of ten Bill and Sally Hambrecht Distinguished Peacemakers
Lectures that the IFI will be organizing at AUB. The series is funded
by venture capitalist and AUB Trustee Bill Hambrecht and his wife Sally
Hambrecht. Transcripts and audio files of IFI events are available on-line.
From the Faculties
Evaluating HIV/AIDS Programs in MENA
The Faculty of Health Sciences organized a workshop on HIV/AIDS at AUB
September 17-21. The workshop, which was funded by the Ford Foundation’s
Cairo office, provided training on program monitoring and quality assessment
for activists involved in HIV/AIDS programs for young people in the Middle
East and North Africa (MENA). NGO representatives, educators, and members
of public institutions from Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Yemen, and Palestine
participated in the five-day workshop in which AUB researchers and health
care professionals, including Jocelyn De Jong, Mayada Kanj, Rima Afifi
Soweid, Kassem Kasak, and Danielle Khoury, provided training on how to
set goals and objectives and design interventions for their HIV/AIDS programs.
Bedouin Health Project
The CRPH has received a grant of $326,627 from the European Commission
to fund a project to improve access and quality of health care for Bedouins
in Jordan and Lebanon. This three-year project on Bedouin reproductive
and child health is a collaboration between CRPH and Oxford University’s
Dawn Chatty, the deputy director of the Refugee Studies Center. Basic
health provision for rural and pastoral peoples in the Middle East has
been difficult to provide. The estimated twenty to twenty-five thousand
Beka’a Bedouins who are descended from the Bedouin tribes of the Syrian
Desert are mostly domicile pastoralists, with the exception of seasonal
internal migration. The Bedouin community uses private and public local
health services available for the rural population. This project seeks
to improve access to, and quality of, reproductive health care in partnership
with local providers.
The first year of the project includes gathering data from the rural health
centers and conducting interviews with all the stakeholders in health
care provision. The second phase involves preparing a report (in both
Arabic and English) and carrying out workshops to share and discuss the
findings with stakeholders in order to devise and pilot proper capacitybuilding
Mobilizing Help for Better Health
The Wellcome Trust, UK, has awarded the Center for Research on Population
Health a grant of $410,406 to support a three-year intervention study
on mental health and unexplained symptoms of gynecological morbidity among
low-income women living in the suburbs of Beirut.
School of Nursing Receives Landmark Accreditation
The Board of the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) in
the United States granted the School of Nursing’s BSN and MSN programs
full accreditation for a five-year term, effective October 13, 2007, thus
making them the first nursing programs to receive CCNE accreditation outside
the United Sates. The granting of CCNE accreditation, which comes at the
end of a two-year international peer assessment, recognizes that AUB’s
nursing programs have effectively met all international professional standards
essential for nursing education at the undergraduate and graduate levels.
A Very Real Virtual Instrumentation Center for Excellence
The Faculty of Engineering and Architecture in collaboration with National
Instruments (NI) recently founded the Virtual Instrumentation Center of
Excellence at AUB. The center will enable students to use modern professional
technology to expand their classroom knowledge and implement engineering
concepts, namely in areas of control and instrumentation, DSP (digital
signal processor), RF (radio frequency) telecommunications, and mechatronics.
The center includes more than 14 teaching and research labs on campus
in the fields of electrical, mechanical, and civil engineering.
Discovering Ancient Sites
Led by AUB Professor of Archaeology Helen Sader, a group of AUB archaeology
students recently discovered for themselves the Bronze Age site of Tell-Fadous.
The 5,000 year-old site is located on the northern coastal area between
Kfarabeeda and Batroun. A former coastal farmer’s village, Tell- Fadous’
remains recall a lively trade and farming community. “The excavations
have a double purpose: the scientific investigation of a Lebanese coastal
site and to give AUB students the opportunity to meet the fieldwork requirement
for their degree,” says Sader. Each season an average of eight AUB graduate
and undergraduate students participate in the excavations (which started
in 2001) and last for four weeks, usually every summer. “The last two
summers the excavations did not take place because of the local situation;
nevertheless, the project is still going on,” she adds.
AUBMC Receives US Accreditation
The American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC) formally received
full accreditation by the Joint Commission International (JCI) on January
AUBMC has a long tradition with JCI; in 1956 it was the first hospital
located outside the United States to be accredited by the Joint Commission
on Accreditation of Hospitals. Until 1986 the hospital was repeatedly
surveyed and maintained its accreditation. AUBMC recently applied to JCI
for reaccreditation as part of a systematic and institution-wide initiative
to improve patient care. JCI is a division of Joint Commission Resources
which is the largest accreditor of health care organizations in the United
States, surveying nearly 20,000 health care programs through its voluntary
“The Joint Commission International Accreditation has reviewed the survey
findings for the American University of Beirut Medical Center. It is with
great pleasure that I inform you of the decision to grant accreditation
to the American University of Beirut Medical Center. Congratulations to
you, and all the other leaders and staff of the American University of
Beirut Medical Center in achieving this recognition of your commitment
to provide quality care on an ongoing basis,” wrote Ann K. Jacobson, executive
director of International Accreditation at JCI in a letter to Dr. Nadim
Cortas, VP for Medical Affairs and Raja N. Khuri Dean of the Faculty of
Medicine. “The Joint Commission International Accreditation Hospital Standards
are intended to stimulate continuous, systematic and organization-wide
improvement in daily performance and in the outcomes of patient care.
The citizens of Beirut should be proud the American University of Beirut
Medical Center is focusing on this most challenging goal—to continuously
raise quality to higher levels,” she continued. Members of the survey
team expressed their opinion that AUBMC clearly ranks in the top 10 of
the 142 hospitals that JCI has accredited outside the United States.
Testing a New Cure for MS
On October 3, neuroscientists at AUBMC started a pioneering clinical trial
to test bone marrow stem cell therapy on individuals suffering from advanced
multiple sclerosis. The trial is one of the first to be carried out by
an international task force that was created almost a year ago. AUB professor
and neuroscientist Bassem Yamout, who is a member of the European Charcot
Foundation Expert Group on the use of human stem cells for the treatment
of multiple sclerosis, is leading the AUB trial. Assistant Dean for Research
Ali Bazarbachi and his team will be collaborating with Dr. Yamout.
Lollipops Help the Medicine Go Down
After conducting extensive research on whether sedation or lidocaine lollipops
offer more effective pain relief for people needing upper gastrointestinal
endoscopic procedures, researchers at AUBMC found that those lollipops
are more effective. It turns out that the lollipops that are made with
the anesthetic lidocaine eliminate the need to sedate patients and are
much more effective than lidocaine spray. Dr. Assaad Soweid, one of the
doctors involved in the study, says, “The lollipop proved to be a safe
and well-tolerated topical anesthetic.”
Hope for Working Children
AUB Professor Iman Nuwayhid recently received a $200,000 grant from the
National Institute of Health to conduct a two-year pioneering study on
the exposure and neurotoxic effects of organic solvents in adolescents
exposed to harsh working conditions in Lebanon. Conducted in collaboration
with the Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU), the study is sponsored
by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in the United
States. Nuwayhid hopes “the findings of this study will provide needed
evidence to guide national and global policies on child labor and solvent
Finding Therapies for Leukemia Patients
Wafica Itani, who will be working under the supervision of Professor Hala
Muhtasib, is enrolled in AUB’s PhD program in cell and molecular biology.
Wafica Itani’s PhD research at AUB builds on a project she worked on with
Professor Hala Muhtasib and Dr. Ali Bazarbachi (Medicine) as a research
assistant: an investigation of how thymoquinone (a black seed extract)
induces apoptosis (programmed cell death) in leukemic cells. Experiments
done in Muhtasib’s laboratory have shown that this natural, easily available,
and relatively non-toxic drug induces programmed cell death in a variety
of cancers including skin, colon, osteosarcoma, and leukemia. Itani also
plans to look at the main cellular receptors (both membrane and nucleocytoplasmic)
that mediate thymoquinone’s effect. To do so, she will be studying the
anti-cancer effects of thymoquinone in an “in vivo” mouse model, where—as
she explains—“we will be initiating leukemia in mice through a xenograft
and a chemicallyinduced model.” Muhtasib is quick to point out, however,
that Itani’s PhD research will “involve more than just a continuation
of her previous work. We expect—and we should expect— more from doctoral
students. They need to produce original research—a body of work that contributes
to our understanding of a particular problem or issue.”
When asked what prompted her to focus her research in this area, Itani
mentions the growing trend in recent years toward using “less toxic and
more effective plant-derived treatment modalities in leukemia.” Itani’s
goal is to identify effective and targeted therapies for patients with
Itani is one of three PhD students in cell and molecular biology this
year. Muhtasib says that the goal of the department is to maintain the
quality of its graduate programs while expanding the dimensions of the
PhD program as resources and student quality allow. “Right now,” she says,
“we measure the success of the program one student at a time.”
Before earning her MSc degree from AUB, Wafica Itani received a BS in
biology and environmental sciences from Beirut Arab University (2003 with
distinction) and a BA in archaeology from the Lebanese University (2005).
As a master’s student at AUB, she worked with Professor Muhtasib, Professor
Makhluf Haddadin (Chemistry), and Dr. Fadi Geara (Medicine).
Students Head to US as Part of University Exchange
FEA student Maher Qanso and Nicolas Khattar, from AUB’s Faculty of Health
Sciences, were chosen to spend four months in the United States as part
of the University Exchange Program for the Near East and South Asia launched
by the US State Department and administered by the US Embassy in Lebanon.
The goal of the program is to encourage dialogue and cultural exchange.
Maher Qanso went to Jackson State University in Mississippi while Nicolas
Khattar headed to Greenville Institute for Technology in South Carolina
in August 2007 where they spent four months living with American families
and sharing stories about life in Lebanon.
Enfin un ange: Med Student Wins Best Play Scenario
Enfin un ange (Finally an angel), a play written by first year medical
student Nicolas Khattar, won first prize for best play scenario at Manuscrit.
com. The website provides interactive information about literary and cultural
life and invites talented writers to submit and publish their writings
in several languages. Nicolas Khattar describes his play as a social satire
in which he “tries to portray the vices of his compatriots.” His strong
passion for writing dates back to elementary school.
USAID Provides Support for 20 Franklin Scholarships
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is providing
support for 20 need- and meritbased scholarships at AUB. The full tuition
scholarships are named for Benjamin Franklin (1706–90), a cel ebrated
American scientist, inventor, political philosopher, journalist, and diplomat
who made significant contributions to science and learning. He is also
one of the “founding fathers” of the United States and a drafter of its
Declaration of Independence. The scholarship recipients were announced
during a ceremony on October 30 attended by US Ambassador to Lebanon Jeffrey
Feltman, President John Waterbury, Dean of Student Affairs Maroun Kisirwani,
and Director of Financial Aid Salim Kanaan.
Laughter under the Bombs: Diaries of a Dramatherapist
(Authorhouse Press: 2007) by Sharif Abdunnur and Jennifer S. Hartley.
Laughter Under the Bombs serves as both a living testimony to the horrors
of surviving under war conditions and as a drama therapy handbook. It
documents—day by day—the therapist’s experience as the July 2006 war unfolds,
and highlights successful attempts to set up a safe haven for displaced
children and teens through drama workshops. Workshops become a means of
helping children come to terms with the mental and psychological wounds
caused by the horrors of war.
Sharif Abdunnur is a fine arts instructor at AUB’s Department of Fine
Arts and Art History.
Reflections of My I
(Cadmus Project: 2007)
by Shahe Kazarian
This compilation of Armenian and English poems written during the last
three decades addresses themes of multiculturalism, human rights, and
collectivist and individualist identities. The poems reflect a deep concern
for history, morality, citizenry, and the choice between war and peace.
Shahe Kazarian is a clinical professor of psychology at AUB.
(Oxford University Press: 2007)
by Fuad Mrad and Ahmad Smaili
This textbook offers programs in applied mechatronics and blends theoretical
treatments of the subject with its practical implementation. A companion
website for instructors and students that includes lectures and a solution
manual can be found at www.oup.com/us/smailimrad.
Fuad Mrad is a professor of electrical and computer engineering at AUB.
Ahmad Smaili is a former AUB professor of mechanical engineering.
Introduction to Consciousness
(Palgrave Macmillan Press: 2007)
by Arne Dietrich
In addition to providing a theoretical and research based overview, Dietrich’s
textbook is inspired by the major disciplines that make up the study of
consciousness, including neuroscience, cognitive science, psychology,
and philosophy. The text places strong emphasis on empirical evidence
and is designed as an introductory overview of the field of consciousness.
Arne Dietrich is associate professor of psychology and chair of the Department
of Social and Behavioral Sciences at AUB.
When Silence Speaks
by Amy Zenger, Nicole Khoury, and Natasha Frank
This textbook, which was created specifically for AUB English 203 students,
contains readings on contemporary issues in the Middle East and around
the world that reference issues, places, and people of relevance to students
in the Middle East. The theoretical essays, poems, and stories collected
in this volume will resonate with students, inspire conversation, and
encourage critical reading, discussion, and writing.
The Quantum Beat: Principles and Applications of Atomic
Clocks, 2nd Edition
(Springer NY Press: June 2007)
by Fuad Major
The book surveys the wide range of understanding of the physical principles
underlying the workings of quantum based atomi.