Old-Fashioned Retail

Passports at Night

For Job Hunters

Helping Trenton High

Donate Organs, Please

Corporate Angels

Corrections or additions?

These articles by Barbara Fox were prepared for the October 25,

2000

edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Shirley Tilghman’s `Fun’ Science

That Shirley Tilghman finds her work exciting

is an understatement. Last week one of her graduate students,

Ekaterina

Semenova, confirmed that she had made a very large deletion in

the mouse genome — a technical tour de force with enormous

implications

for studying the functions of genes.

As head of the new Institute of Integrative Genomics at Princeton

University,

Tilghman is charged with focusing on basic research, bringing to the

field not only a state-of-the-art scientific institute but a new

approach,

addressing integration and complexity. Her mission is to decipher

"how [genetic] parts fit together to create a functional cell,

a functional organ, a functional organism."

Tilghman is well aware that only lately have women been able to hold

such prestigious positions. Six years ago she warned in a women’s

journal, "I know of few other professions where the excitement

that brought you to the field in the first place is sustained over

so many years. It would be a tragedy to exclude women from all this

fun."

Tilghman is on a panel with Elliott Sigal of Bristol-Myers

Squibb

and John Baumann, a radiation oncologist at the Medical Center

of Princeton, moderated by science writer Richard Preston on

Wednesday, November 1, at 7:30 p.m., at Princeton University’s

Alexander

Hall. The Medical Center at Princeton is sponsoring the free program,

entitled "Releasing the Genome in the Bottle: The Promise of

Genomics

for New Medicines." Registration is required: call 609-497-4190.

She will focus on the science of the human genome project, what the

project has done, and what the impact will be on the understanding

of the fundamentals of biology. "Much attention has been given

to its impact on medicine — the ways information will be

translated

into better medicines, better diagnostics, and better therapies. I

will try to give people a better sense of how knowing the `parts list’

will help us write the `instruction manual,’ one of the many metaphors

that describe how the practice of biology is carried out."

Shirley Tilghman attributes her interest in science to a fascination

with numbers and puzzles, an interest in which she was encouraged

by her father. "He never questioned that it would be a wonderful

thing for a girl to be a scientist," she says. She grew up in

Ontario. Canada, where her father was a banker, and was the second

oldest of four sisters. One is now a professor of economics, one

raises

horses, and the eldest lives in a group home for the mentally

retarded.

She majored in chemistry and graduated with honors from Queen’s

University

in Ontario in 1968, later earning a PhD in biochemistry from Temple.

She did postdoctoral work at the National Institutes of Health, where

she did groundbreaking work in cloning mammalian genes, and then

working

at the Institute for Cancer Research in Fox Chase before coming to

Princeton University in 1986.

But right after college she taught school for two years in Sierra

Leone. "It was the ’60s, and I wanted to do something for somebody

else," she says. Working with people for whom English is a second

language, she says, "you learn how to use metaphors and get at

the core of an idea, rather than getting lost in the details."

Communicating her vision to philanthropists is one of

her most important jobs as head of the Institute. "I am absolutely

dependent on Harold Shapiro’s extraordinary rapport with the

alumni,"

she says. "The qualities that make somebody a good teacher also

make an effective fundraiser — the ability to communicate big

ideas, put the initiative in a broad perspective, and to feel

passionately

about what you are trying to raise money for. If you believe it, you

can convince others to believe in it."

These "good teacher" traits are not, she insists,

stereotypically

female. "I just don’t think that way. The most important thing

that directors need is a clear vision of what they want to do."

For hiring her fellows, she says, a director needs "very good

taste in science," particularly important for a multidisciplinary

institute. "It is virtually impossible to be an expert in every

area, and I have to depend on my colleagues for peer review."

Tilghman has made have four formal appointments so far and will do

several searches this year and next year. When the building opens

in 2002 she will move to get to capacity — 12 to 15 appointments.

Senior faculty members might bring 12 to 15 staffers with them, while

junior faculty may come alone and build their departments later. The

total in the building, including support staff, post doctorals, and

undergraduates working on senior theses, will be 120 to 150 people.

Her biggest surprise since taking this job is how much of her input

was needed on the new building, designed by architect Rafael

Vinoly,

who also designed the Princeton University stadium. The building is

being named for Carl Icahn, the real estate and manufacturing

tycoon and 1957 Princeton graduate, who donated $20 million toward

the building’s construction. It is scheduled to be finished in early

2002.

"Essentially, I spent one day a week with the architects for the

last year. One of the most fascinating things is to get an insight

into how a different profession goes about their work," she says.

The design of the laboratories is innovative, she says, because she

rejected the traditional design of cookie cutter labs. "The notion

that one size fits all absolutely does not work for our institution.

We will have chemists and physicists and computer scientists in ratios

we cannot predict today. So we are using completely modular laboratory

furniture including walls that can be disassembled in a matter of

days." The system of metal panels connecting to grids on floor

and ceiling was developed in Silicon Valley for clean rooms. "If

you have a molecular biologist and change to a physicist, you don’t

have to spend six months ripping out and reassembling walls in a

different

state. It works like Legos, all assembled in little units."

In spite of all the fun Tilghman is having, at 54, she is looking

forward to retirement. "One of the downsides of having a very

demanding professional career AND having a family (she has two

college-age

children) is that there are literally hundreds of things that I would

like to do. The notion of dying in my mouse room is not attractive

to me, not at all. I have very strong plans for retiring, certainly

before age 65."

And anyway, the best research is being done by the young. "The

mean age of doing the experiment that wins you a Nobel prize is in

the mid 30s," says Tilghman. "It has been documented that

the most exciting research is being done by people in their 30s."

People like Semenova, who have both skill and good fortune. "She

had taken out a 1/2 million of the 3 billion base pairs in the mouse

genome," says Tilghman, "and did it with new technology that

allows us to manipulate chromosomes in animals as complex as mammals

in order to understand what the functions of the gene are in that

region."

"When Ekaterina designed this experiment, we assumed there were

many genes in this 1/2 million base pair. Now that we have the

sequence

we know that there is only one gene in that region. It is very unusual

to have so few genes in such a big amount of information. Now, when

she analyzes the mice that do not have this region, she will be able

to attribute the effect of the deletion," says Tilghman. "It

has changed her whole project — and it is also a technical tour

de force."

— Barbara Fox

Top Of Page
Old-Fashioned Retail

The trend for manufacturers with industrial products is to turn those

products into something that can be sold in the consumer market, says

Joan Sitarz, director of Market Entry Direct, who keynoted a

federal department of commerce meeting in Reno earlier this month. Her

presentation, "How to Get Your Products in Front of Millions of

Potential Clients" was presented to the National Institute of

Standards and Technology’s annual Manufacturing Extensions Partnership

joint technical working session.

Market Entry Direct, based on George Davison Road, acts as

manufacturers’ representatives to the catalog industry. "We are

national, and we are not industry specific, so we run the gamut from

autos to toys," says Sitarz, who is an alumna of Shippensburg

University, Class of 1981. A former owner of a small apparel

manufacturing company and department store buyer, she has helped

launched new companies and products for Fortune 500 firms and

independent start-ups (609-799-8898, E-mail: mediret@aol.com).

A manufacturer that wants to turn an industrial project into a

consumer product should:

Make sure the product can be individually packaged.

Get it market ready. Make needed improvements to color and

packaging.

Devise a marketing plan. Find out the markets and the

niche markets.

The big thrust now is to get products on the web, Sitarz

says, but that is not necessarily the best place to be, because

distribution can be difficult. Instead of making one wholesale

shipment, factories have to "drop ship" individually. "Also, websites

go out of business and that could kill you as a small manufacturer,"

says Sitarz, "whereas catalogs buy wholesale and have their

distribution set up to do ones-ies."

Catalogs are an excellent entree to the marketplace, in part because

they buy wholesale and reach millions of potential customers, but also

because catalog owners are very good at database management. "They

know who buys from the catalog and who should be getting the catalog."

"Having your product in a catalog gives you instant credibility and

national exposure and the ability to sell product," says Sitarz.

One caveat: "If you are in catalogs you can’t be out at retail, unless

you are in the high end mom & pop shops."

Will the Web kill catalogs? No, says Sitarz, because the Web is

supplementing catalogs. "Catalogs are now web-present. They are

branded in paper, are spreading to the web, and are now going to

bricks & mortar, where people can see and touch."

"The catalog sale is a very long sale, 18 to 24 months," says Sitarz.

"It is tough market to crack. You have to be tenacious."

Top Of Page
Passports at Night

Town halls in nearly every municipality are offering

passports now, but the East Brunswick Public Library is going them one

better: taking passport applications on evenings and Saturdays. The

administration office will accept passport application from on

weeknights, Monday to Thursday, from 5 to 9 p.m., and on Saturdays

from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Parking is free at 2 Jean Walling Civic Center, off Ryders Lane. The

library sends the applications to the passport agency office in

Philadelphia, which mails passports directly to applicants. Any U.S.

citizen can apply here; you do not need to be an East Brunswick or New

Jersey resident. Bring old passport, two 2 x 2 passport photos, and

two checks. Those without an old passport must bring items: proof of

citizenship such as a certified birth certificate and identification

such as a valid U.S. driver’s license. For information call

732-390-6761.

Top Of Page
For Job Hunters

Those who are looking for jobs, or foresee that they will lose their

jobs soon, can sign up for a free three-day workshop hosted by the

Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Greater Mercer County. It is

set for Tuesday, October 31 and Thursday and Friday, November 2 and 3,

from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 707 Alexander Road, Suite 102.

Participants will learn about self-assessment, opportunities to

develop skills, resume writing, interviewing, and the whole topic of

looking for jobs. Those who sign up must attend all three days and

preregistration is required. Call 609-987-8100.

Top Of Page
Helping Trenton High

Trenton Central High School seeks businesses and agencies to provide

sites for internships for its students who are being organized in

small, career-focused learning communities. "We would also like to

form an advisory board for each small learning community," says

Priscilla M. Dawson, the principal. "The advisory board will

serve as a resource by providing information about the latest trends

in the industry, helping to establish workplace standards for our

students, and assisting in securing resources."

In addition to working with the internship program, other

opportunities to help students might involve providing career

speakers, hosting students on a field trip to a company facility,

providing mentors to students, or providing scholarships. Yet another

way would be to offer slots for a Job Shadow Day set for Friday,

February 2, 2001.

A partnership breakfast will be held on Thursday, November 9, at 7:30

a.m. at the school at 400 Chambers Street. For information call

Mary Burks at 609-989-2425 or Mary White at 609-989-2474.

Or E-mail: mburks@tchs.trenton.k12.nj.us

Top Of Page
Donate Organs, Please

Reverend Peter K. Stimpson, director of the Trinity

Counseling Service on Mercer Street, has taken the lead to ask fellow

clergy members to encourage faith communities to sign organ and tissue

sharing donor forms on National Donor Sabbath Weekend, November 10 to

12. Stimpson’s wife has been battling an inherited autoimmune liver

disease and is on a transplant waiting list. For information call the

Sharing Network (www.sharenj.org or 800-SHARE NJ).

Top Of Page
Corporate Angels

Independent Insurance Agents of Mercer County are

sponsoring a Halloween party on Friday, October 27, for 100 teens and

young adult in the Association for Retarded Citizens.

Rider University’s Fine Arts Theater will be dedicated as the

"Yvonne Theater" on Friday, November 10, at a gala performance of "The

Fantasticks." A $250,000 gift from John Spitznagel and his

children, Yvonne and John Jr., honors Yvonne Alexander

Spitznagel.

John Spitznagel recently retired as president and CEO of Roberts

Pharmaceutical, a 16-year-old biotech company with 130 employees based

in Eatontown. He is a Rider journalism graduate (Class of 1963) as was

his late wife (Class of 1964), and both were editors of the student

newspaper and wrote theater reviews. This production was chosen

because when the future Spitznagels attended their first play at

McCarter Theater together, the play on the boards on that evening was

"The Fantasticks." The gift has paid for a modern light board and

sound system, new seating and carpeting, enhanced stage curtains, and

a remodeled lobby.


Previous Story Next Story


Corrections or additions?


This page is published by PrincetonInfo.com

— the web site for U.S. 1 Newspaper in Princeton, New Jersey.

Facebook Comments