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New twists on old tales

When we last met Stanford Medical Center's emergency medicine chief Bob Norris, he was back on campus between stints in Iraq helping that country's overwhelmed physicians cope with war casualties ("Helping Hands," Farm Report, November/December 2008).

Little surprise, then, that when the earthquake struck Haiti in January, Norris led a team of seven Stanford emergency specialists to treat victims of the disaster.

Martin Hellman, emeritus professor of electrical engineering, is on a mission to alert people to the risk, determined mathematically, of depending on deterrence, rather than disarmament, to prevent nuclear disaster ("How Risky Is Deterrence?" Farm Report, September/October 2008). Although he's a firm believer in spreading awareness virally until the issue grabs a critical mass of society, Hellman recently borrowed a different tactic from the business world: market segmentation. His initial "target market": the Stanford student body—and Hellman reports an enthusiastic response so far.

By all accounts, English professor Diane Middlebrook, who died in December 2008, was an unforgettable teacher. Her scholarly and literary gifts live on, too, in her controversial biographies ("Telling Tales out of School," November/December 2003).

This year she will be memorialized in a different way, with the planned establishment of the Diane Middlebrook Memorial Writers' Residence on the grounds of the Djerassi Resident Artists Program in Woodside, founded by Middlebrook's husband, Carl Djerassi, emeritus professor of chemistry.

Drew Endy came to Stanford in 2008, hoping Silicon Valley would be an ideal place for his burgeoning new field of synthetic biology to flourish ("Assembly Required," July/August 2009). The assistant bioengineering professor's dream was to set up a factory to produce free, standardized DNA "parts" that would lower the cost and speed up the engineering of complex, synthetic biological systems. By January this year, BIOFAB: International Open Facility Advancing Biotechnology launched, with Endy as director.

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