University of Michigan

Stateside: When body parts become commodities

Nov 28, 2012
Gray's Anatomy

For some, the idea of body parts functioning as units of exchange is unsettling.

But for Dr. Adam Lutzker, the concept is one worth investigating. Lutzker teaches at the University of Michigan- Flint, where he recently gave a lecture entitled “Human Body Parts as Commodities.”

Born from a teaching strategy used to spark his students’ attention, the lecture challenges what we view as viable commodities.

“A commodity is anything that is produced for profit and bought and sold. With a commodity, we tolerate the fact that not everyone will get them. This was the debate- should things be treated as commodities? Should they be treated as rights?” said Lutzker.

It's not every day that researchers learn something completely new about how the human body works.

To be sure, researchers already knew that human beings have a unique kind of sweat gland, not found in any other animal.

But they didn't know everything those sweat glands do.

Laure Rittié of the University of Michigan says it was assumed that our hair follicles create new skin cells to heal wounds - because that's how rodents and pigs do it.

user: jdurham / morguefile

Though expensive, the lifetime return of a college education continues to be unequivocal.

On today's show, University of Michigan Vice Provost Martha Pollack and Michigan State University College of Education Dean Don Heller address the long-term value of a college education.

They both say state funding cuts continue to propel tuition increases.

“Our state funding at University of Michigan on a per student basis has declined by 50%,” said Pollack.

In what is being called "the most lucrative insider trading scheme ever charged," federal prosecutors are filing a criminal case against Mathew Martoma, a former trader at a division of  SAC Capital.

Here's the press conference where the charges were described:

Martoma is charged with making around $276 million in avoided losses and combined profits on a deal based on insider information from a University of Michigan professor.

Will minority enrollment increase after federal court ruling?

Nov 16, 2012

On Thursday, the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Michigan’s 2006 constitutional ban on affirmative action unconstitutional.

Some argue that the ruling will have a major impact on minority enrollment at the state’s public universities.

Monica Smith, a lawyer opposed to the affirmative action ban, began attending Wayne State Law School a year before it took effect, MLive reports.

The following year, the number of incoming black students was cut in half, Smith says.

She thinks this recent court ruling should transform the admissions process:

"This means a lot to me," said Smith. "This means that my brother, my cousins, other people in Detroit, the Latino and black students can go to Wayne State Law School and Medical School."

"I graduated from the University of Michigan. I graduated from Wayne State Law School. My brother graduated from Michigan State University. All because of affirmative action," she said. "I am 100 percent a product of affirmative action. Not because I'm not 100 percent qualified to be there. But because all three of those universities couldn't discriminate against me or my brother or other similarly situated people."

Despite yesterday’s victory, Smith and other opponents of the ban will have to wait before they see any significant changes.

user joi / wikipedia

I still get the question from relatives, "what do you use Twitter for?"

Twitter is no Facebook, so the value of a 140 character "tweet" just doesn't appeal to them as much as status updates, "likes," and photo albums from friends and loved ones.

But while not as meteoric as Facebook (more than 1 billion users worldwide), Twitter's base of users continues to grow - there are now more than 500 million Twitter users worldwide.

In its most recent report, the Pew Research Center found that 15 percent of online adults user Twitter:

...the proportion of online adults who use Twitter on a typical day has doubled since May 2011 and has quadrupled since late 2010.

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo (or @dickc) is a University of Michigan graduate (#goblue). He will return to campus this Friday to talk about his business (Nov. 16).

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) - The University of Michigan says 40 of its students have received Fulbright grants from the State Department for overseas education.

The Ann Arbor school announced Monday that more of the grants were awarded to its students than any other U.S. institution for the 2012-13 academic year. Harvard University is second with 31 recipients, and Brown University is third with 29.

Michigan says this marks the sixth time in the past eight years it has held that honor. It also led the nation in Fulbrights in 2005, 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2011.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

University of Michigan researchers have created a mobile phone app that helps people who suffered a concussion track their symptoms.

Amy Teddy is an Injury Prevention Program Manager at C.S. Mott Children's Hospital.  Teddy says the app, called “Return2Play”, will help patients communicate better with their doctors by asking them questions about their recovery from a concussion.

“It may prompt them to consider things they didn’t realize they should be tracking,” says Teddy.

Michigan vs. Notre Dame. The two teams play their final game in 2014.
Michigan Football / Facebook

Notre Dame announced this week the school is suspending its century-old rivalry with the University of Michigan after the 2014 season.

The only constant is change. 

Yeah, yeah.  We know that – and in case we didn’t, there’s always some office blowhard too eager to say it, as if it’s some profound truth.

But that’s why, the more things change, the more we appreciate things that don’t.

When Carole King sang, “Doesn’t anybody stay in one place any more?” she probably wasn’t talking about NFL franchises, but she could’ve been.

Michigan Ranked 8th Worst in funding

Sep 26, 2012

Michigan ranks 8th worst in the nation for state support of public research universities.  That’s according to an 8 year study by the National Science Board. 

Funding from states averaged 20-percent lower - and universities’ reliance on tuition for revenue was up to 50 percent higher during the study.  Michigan per pupil funding has dropped almost a third during the study.

Denard Robinson avoids a rush from the Fighting Irish.
Michigan Football / Facebook

It appears that a storied college football rivalry is coming to an end. The two teams first met in 1887.

More from the Associated Press:

Notre Dame has notified Michigan it is exercising a three-year out in their contract, meaning their last scheduled game against each other will come in 2014.

A letter from Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick to Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon cancelling games in 2015-2017 was obtained by The Associated Press on Tuesday through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The AP reports the teams were scheduled to take hiatus for the 2018 and 2019 seasons.

The Notre Dame football team is required to play five games against Atlantic Coast Conference teams. The school recently joined the conference, but kept its football team independent. reports the two teams have taken long breaks in the past.

They've played every year since 2002 and regularly since 1978 after not meeting from 1944 to 1977 or 1910 to 1941.

Michigan Athletic Director David Brandon was handed a letter before last Saturday night's game (which Michigan lost 13-6). Brandon said he hopes to work with Notre Dame on another contract in the future:

"The ball is in their court because they've triggered the three-game notice," he said. "We'll play them next year at Michigan Stadium for the last time in a while -- it appears -- and we'll make our last scheduled trip to South Bend in 2014. There will likely be nothing on the board for five years after that. Beyond that, I don't know what will happen." reports "the Wolverines have an NCAA-best .735 winning percentage in football, and the Irish (.732) are second. Michigan leads all-time series 23-16-1."

No word on Notre Dame's game contract with Michigan State University.

Denard Robinson avoids a rush from the Fighting Irish.
Michigan Football / Facebook

Last week, the University of Michigan football team beat up University of Massachusetts, 63-13.

Okay, U-Mass was pretty bad. Even lowly Indiana crushed them.

But the Wolverines did exactly what they were supposed to do, and did it very well. Many Michigan fans complained anyway.

This is not uncommon.

A few years ago, Michigan blew out 15th-ranked Notre Dame team 38-0, the first shut out over the Irish in over a century. The next day, I challenged listeners on a sports talk show to find something to complain about.

University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman and several researchers will travel to Brazil this coming Saturday for a very busy week of meetings and working sessions.

The U-M group hopes the visit will strengthen relationships with several leading universities and foundations. Coleman previously led U-M faculty to China, Ghana and South Africa.

Coleman said this trip presents a wonderful opportunity to listen to colleagues in Brazil. She hopes to provide new opportunities for collaboration and attract more Brazilian students to the University of Michigan.

The MGoPatio in Ann Arbor.
Martin Vloet / Facebook

Marketplace's Tess Vigeland handed out their "Piggy Bank Award" to Ann Arbor's Martin Vloet.

Vloet and his wife bought a house in Ann Arbor a few years ago near Michigan Stadium.

They knew the garage needed some work, so when they re-built, they decided to make the space big enough for tailgaiting events.

"I found through some of the people that I worked with and through some of my connections in town, that there was a lot of interest in a space like that, because it was so close to Michigan football. "

With the 2012 college football season around the corner, Ann Arbor-native Pat Stansik found a new way to express his home team fandom. Follow the link to watch the music video for his song "I Love You, Denard."

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is in Michigan today touting a major advance in Smart Car technology.

By October, three thousand cars, trucks and buses outfitted with a special Wi-Fi system will travel around Ann Arbor as part of a one year test of the system.

A few hundred are already on the road.

LaHood says the Smart Car system allows vehicles to “talk” to each other and hopefully avoid accidents.

Medicare is cracking down on hospital readmissions in a way that is going to hurt the bottom line of facilities in most parts of the nation.

Read about U of M scientists' and space enthusiasts' reaction to last night's successful landing of Curiosity on Martian terrain after the dreaded “seven minutes of terror." Follow the link to also see the accompanying video reaction to the landing at NASA.

NASA / wiki commons

The search for life on Mars takes a giant leap forward this weekend, and University of Michigan scientists are part of the mission. 

By now you’ve probably heard about the unmanned rover called "Curiosity." Set to land on the red planet Sunday night, it’s NASA’s most ambitious robotic operation yet. A science lab on wheels, the rover will scour Mars for any sign the plant could support life.

Michigan Radio sports commentator John U. Bacon says the University of Michigan and Michigan State University are inadvertently benefiting from sanctions handed down against Penn State today.  

Johns Hopkins University publicity photo

The University of Michigan Taubman Institute is rewarding doctors who turn lab discoveries into medical treatments.

The first winner may have found a cure for aneurysms in people with Marfan Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder. That could, in turn, unlock treatments for more common diseases. 

Dr. Hal Dietz  of Johns Hopkins University used to work with kids with Marfan Syndrome and other inherited diseases that damage blood vessels. But he got so frustrated with how poor the available medications were, he set out to find better ones himself. 

In addition to the attention he's receiving for contributing to the possible discovery of the the Higgs boson, or "God particle," University of Michigan professor Gordon Kane is also set to cash in on $100 in bet money from Stephen Hawking.

The University of Michigan's Bob Chappuis hurdling a tackler.
Michiganensian (1947) / University of Michigan

One of Michigan Football's most famous players died earlier this month. Bob Chappuis played for the Wolverines in the '40s. He was a College Football Hall of Famer and a World War II hero. But that’s not how Chappuis described himself.

You can read about Bob Chappuis’s heroics as a World War II tailgunner, or as a Michigan Wolverines tailback, just about anywhere -- from his Time magazine cover story in 1947, to his obituary in the New York Times last week.  But my favorite stories are the ones he told his granddaughters.

I met Chappuis in 2000, while writing a story about his famous Michigan football team.  But I really got to know him when I coached his grandson Bobby’s high school hockey team.When Bobby went to Culver Academies for a post-grad year, I joined the family to see him graduate.

We all relaxed in a hotel suite, eating and drinking, while Chappuis’s teenage granddaughters goaded him to tell stories.  He could not refuse them, but he shared stories you couldn't find in magazines -- like when his father told him he could go to any school he wanted -- except Ohio State.  

Chappuis skipped the part about leaving college to volunteer for the Army, where he served as an aerial gunner on a B-25.  But his son interjected to explain how their granddad’s plane was shot down over Northern Italy, forcing the crew to parachute behind enemy lines. 

Chappuis waved it off.  “Everybody says we’re heroes.  But what kind of idiot wouldn’t jump from a burning plane?”   

He told his granddaughters how they hid in a ditch behind some bushes while Italian soldiers marched by. One of his crewmates grabbed a knife, and motioned to attack. Chappuis grabbed his shoulder, pushed him down and whispered, “They’ve got us outnumbered 30 to 3, and they’ve got guns.  I think you’ve seen too many Hollywood movies.  We are staying put.”

Smart move.  They were rescued by a family, who hid them in their attic.  They buried the Americans’ identifying clothing – but Chappuis drew the line at his Michigan ring.  “This stays with me,” he said. 

Mike Trenchard / Earth Sciences & Image Analysis Laboratory , Johnson Space Center (Wikimedia Commons)

The University of Michigan has been selected to lead a $152 million NASA satellite project aimed at improving hurricane and extreme weather prediction.

The school announced today that the Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System is designed to make accurate measurements of ocean surface winds throughout the life cycle of tropical storms and hurricanes. It's made up of small satellites to be carried into orbit.

Information collected will enable scientists to explore key air-sea interactions that take place near the core of storms.

Principal investigator Christopher Ruf is a professor of atmospheric, oceanic and space sciences, and electrical engineering and computer sciences. The satellite system science team includes Aaron Ridley and Derek Posselt, who are professors of atmospheric, oceanic and space sciences.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) - Six new human embryonic stem cell lines derived at the University of Michigan are available for federal research.

University of Michigan Health System officials say in a release Thursday that researchers can begin using the stem cell lines to study the origins of diseases and potential treatments. U-M now has eight cell lines on the U.S. National Institutes of Health's registry, including five that carry genetic mutations for serious diseases including hemophilia B, Huntington's disease and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

This little blurb appeared in USA Today... today.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers played a concert in Columbus, Ohio on June 4.

Drummer Chad Smith lingered on stage as the crowd was heaping praise on Smith.

Then they weren't. Take a look:

Scott Galvin / U-M Photo Services

The University of Michigan softball team won the Big Ten title this year – for the fifth year in a row, and 15th time overall. It went to the NCAA tournament – for the 18th straight season.  Winning titles is what they do.   

And this was not even one of head coach Carol Hutchins’ best teams. 

Ann Gordon / Flickr

The National Institutes of Health has set a goal to prevent and treat Alzheimer's disease by 2050.

Henry Paulson is the director of the University of Michigan's Alzheimer's Disease Center.

"I'm a 100-percent supporter of this," he says. "This is a huge medical problem. We have over 5-million people who have Alzheimer's now in this country and as we get older, the number is increasing rapidly. So this is a crisis and although we understand a lot about the mechanisms of the disease, we still don't have effective therapies. So this push, this additional support I think will drive toward those therapies that we so desperately need."

16-million Americans are expected to have Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia by 2050.

The Obama Administration has allocated $50-million for Alzheimer's Research. N-I-H will spend an additional 30 million on two national studies.

"One of the things I like about the announcement yesterday is there are two major studies that they emphasize that are going to be funded right away," Paulson says. "One is a symptomatic study, that is the intranasal insulin, is looking to see if that can improve symptoms in people who have cognitive impairment. The other study is a preventative study from families who actually have inherited caused dimentia which is not what most people have."

Paulson says many investigators with the U of M's Alzheimer's Disease Center will be applying for additional funding for Alzheimer's research.

- Emily Fox, Michigan Radio Newsroom

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) - The University of Michigan is getting $1.3 million in federal money to help train and educate the next generation of leaders in the nation's nuclear industry.

The U.S. Department of Energy on Tuesday announced the money in research grants, fellowships and scholarships. They're part of the department's Nuclear Energy University Program and Integrated University Program that will support nuclear energy research and development efforts.

Part of the money for the Ann Arbor school will go to a research project aimed at developing new and advanced reactor designs and technologies.

Funding is going to 46 colleges and universities nationwide.

user wane / YouTube

At age 16, Austin Hatch from Ft. Wayne, Indiana was looking forward to a bright future as a University of Michigan basketball recruit.

Here he is talking about his decision to commit to the school:

Nine days after this video was posted Austin Hatch was in a plane crash near Charlevoix, Michigan that killed his father, his stepmother, and a family dog.

Austin survived, as did a second family dog.

The small plane was being piloted by his father, Dr. Stephen Hatch, an anesthesiologist from Indiana. A recent NTSB report found the plane stalled due to inadequate airspeed.

Tragically, this was the second time Austin Hatch and his father had been in a plane crash.