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CORNERSTONES







For the Boys

A mother who lost her sons to
DMD mobilizes parents and
researchers to find a treatment.

BY JOSIE FISHER


DMD RESEARCHERS PAULA CLEMENS, ERIC HOFFMAN, AND SIMON WATKINS.


"Is it so much to ask that my child could live?" is a question Pat Furlong has heard many times. Furlong is president and founder of the Parent Project, a 600-member fund-raising and educational organization for parents of children with Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophy (DMD).

"It's a question I've asked every single day," says Furlong, who lost her two sons, Christopher and Patrick, to DMD. "But if you ask the question, you must be willing to do your part to get the answer."

In the United States, 100,000 boys are afflicted with DMD. The disease usually affects young males, most of whom will die from the disease when they are teenagers. In search of a treatment, the Parent Project last year helped establish the Center for Duchenne Research, based at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, and awarded researchers a $140,000 grant.

Eric Hoffman, associate professor of molecular genetics and biochemistry at Pitt, directs the center. Hoffman was a member of the team in 1987 that identified dystrophin, the dysfunctional protein responsible for DMD.

The center operates as a partnership of scientists, physicians, and families. Six labs in departments throughout the University of Pittsburgh, including Hoffman's, and one lab at the University of Missouri constitute the center's research activities. Families of diagnosed children work with the center to determine funding priorities.

"For a long time," Furlong explains, "catastrophic disease was the responsibility of the physician--to diagnose, to plan treatment, to manage in total. But parents, if they are educated, can support the research that leads to clinical applications."

Her sons taught her that lesson. "When they became ill I said, 'I will pray for your cure. Then we can return to the lives that we've planned.' But the boys told me that wasn't enough. They asked, 'What about all the others out there with this disease?'

"We'll stop when we have a treatment," says Furlong. "Not before."






Equal Representation

A gift from an alum helps ensure
today's law students carry on a
century-long tradition of service.

BY FAITH SCHANTZ


PITT'S LAW SCHOOL HAS ENTERED ITS SECOND CENTURY OF SERVICE.



When the University of Pittsburgh School of Law was founded a century ago, it sought to instill in its students the value of enriching and improving society through their profession. Like many Pitt law alumni before him, that value has guided Ed Beachler (Law '65) throughout his career. Beachler graduated in the middle of one of this country's most tumultuous decades, with a firm conviction about an attorney's responsibility to society. His experiences volunteering for low-income clients, first as a student and later as a successful local attorney, have come full circle now with his recent $100,000 gift to the School of Law's Centennial Campaign.

Beachler, a founding partner in the downtown Pittsburgh firm of Caroselli Spagnolli & Beachler, says his motivation for giving to the campaign was partly personal: He wanted to show his gratitude for the education he received here. And he has other, equally compelling, reasons: His gift will support Pitt's clinical legal education programs, underscoring the value of clinical legal education for students and the role that the law school can play as support for publicly funded legal services recedes.

Pitt's legal clinics provide law students with experience serving real clients, whose cases are often complex and research-intensive. They also provide a vital service to low-income people in the Pittsburgh area.

"Law, since I've been practicing, has always struggled with making sure that there is equal representation for everybody," Beachler stresses. He believes that the political and social climate that has brought about welfare reform, likely modifications to workers' compensation laws, and proposed restrictions for product liability and securities law has heightened the needs of the disadvantaged for representation. At the same time, public support for legal services has waned.

Beachler understands firsthand how a student's exposure to indigent clients through clinical legal education can have a long-term benefit for the community. As a student, Beachler volunteered for a legal aid program. "It was a great learning process for me," he says. Later, as an attorney, he provided representation pro bono for low-income clients in family law cases and for conscientious objectors during the Vietnam War. Beachler also has served on the board of Pittsburgh's Neighborhood Legal Services Association.

Beachler's donation reflects the spirit of giving that the Centennial Campaign hopes to inspire. With a goal of raising $10 million, the Centennial Campaign is the law school's largest fund-raising effort ever. Campaign organizers are raising funds to support expansion of the clinical legal education program as well as initiatives such as a legal writing program for students, scholarships, loan re-payment assistance programs, additional endowed professorships, establishment of academic centers (such as the school's new Center for International Legal Education), and physical enhancements to the law school building.

As the School of Law enters its second century, the generosity of alumni such as Beachler will help to ensure that there are more graduates like him: attorneys who have the education, skills, and values to make a difference as professionals and as citizens.






An American Classic

Pitt's new Center for
American Music recalls
our favorites.

BY ERICA LLOYD





If the world is addicted to American culture, then the nation's music must be one of its most potent influences. The works of Chuck Berry, George Gershwin, Patsy Cline, Duke Ellington, and so many other American greats have kept feet tapping all over the globe. Their genius has been, to paraphrase opera baritone Thomas Hampson, their ability to translate America's myriad voices into an intelligible form for all her citizens--to create a music that buoys the spirit.

The Center for American Music, established last spring by the University of Pittsburgh Library System, celebrates the genius of American music. The center is based at Pitt's Stephen Foster Memorial, named for America's first professional songwriter, who gave the nation a treasury of hundreds of songs, including "Beautiful Dreamer," "Hard Times Come Again No More," "Camptown Races," and "Old Folks at Home," before his death in 1864.

The center pays homage to the traditions Foster began through performances, exhibitions, recordings, publications, research, forums, and educational activities. It collaborates on projects with Pitt's music department as well as media organizations such as National Public Radio. In July, Hampson starred in a concert to benefit the new center; the show will be aired on German television as part of a documentary on Foster.

At the heart of the center's activities is the Foster Hall Collection, donated to Pitt in 1937 by the industrialist Josiah Kirby Lilly. The collection includes 30,000 items that document Foster's contributions and is "undoubtedly the most thorough library and archives devoted to an early American musician," according to Deane L. Root, the collection's curator and head of the new center.

Pitt has launched a $2 million endowment initiative to fund the Center for American Music and its collection. The campaign will augment Lilly's contributions, the last of which was awarded in 1991. H. Woodruff Turner, a partner with Pittsburgh's Kirkpatrick & Lockhart law firm, a University trustee, and chair of the center's fund-raising committee, stresses the importance of the endowment initiative: "Increasing the endowment will help us maintain and better utilize the collections we now have, project the influence of the center to a broader arena, and increase the scope and depth of the collection."

"We are expanding the collection's focus beyond Foster to include other American composers and genres as well," says Root. He says the center will study how this music affects America's social and racial relations. And he's eager to examine how the nation's music is represented abroad. Foster is a fitting starting point--his tunes are considered by many Japanese to be their own (even "My Old Kentucky Home") and are also sung in remote regions of Tibet.

"The Center will help the nation understand its musical heritage," says Root.


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