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Harp Plucks Heartstrings

"Play me another good tune. I'm 73 and I know them all," a smiling patient says to volunteer harpist Margaret Stephens. Stephens (below), a certified harp practitioner, plays a small, 23-string Celtic harp for patients and their families two days a week at Dartmouth's Norris Cotton Cancer Center.

"I feel really privileged to have a little peep into people's lives and to be able to give something to them," she says. "It's soothing—there's something about the physics of sound of a plucked harp string that's a very pure tone." Stephens's repertoire ranges from operatic arias to Irish ballads to country-and-western tunes. She creates an individualized "cradle of sound"—for example, gradually slowing down the tempo to help reduce a patient's breathing rate or choosing pitches and keys that resonate with the listener. "When the music starts," says Deborah Steele, coordinator of patient services, "it's as if a new environment is created, a bubble of protection and healing." See http://dartmed.dartmouth.edu/fall06/html/vs_harp_we.php for some about Stephens and her harp.


Teatime Brews Teamwork

If you caffeinate them, they will come: That appeal works Monday through Thursday at 3:00 p.m. at Dartmouth's Norris Cotton Cancer Center. The sixth-floor atrium starts buzzing as doctors, researchers, and students emerge from their labs and offices to partake of coffee, tea, cookies, and conversation.

When people from different labs get to know each other in an informal setting, they are more apt to find ways to team up—to share equipment, supplies, and ideas—says the Cancer Center's director, Dr. Mark Israel. The interlude is a valuable place to network for novice researchers and seasoned investigators alike.

The turnout at the teas has been consistent since they began three years ago, says Israel. People "exchange ideas informally with others who work in related but oftentimes different disciplines," he says. The Cancer Center facility was actually designed to foster collaboration, with open labs, glass-walled meeting rooms, and atriums. "When scientists working on different aspects of the cancer problem relax together . . . sparks just naturally fly," Israel adds. "Minds open, new ideas tumble forth, new research pathways and collaborations emerge."


A Cut Above: The Children's Hospital at Dartmouth is the only medical center in the United States to have two pediatric neurosurgeons who research brain trauma in children, according the director of the program, Dr. Ann-Christine Duhaime.

A Hefty Log: Dr. Ira Byock, director of palliative medicine at DHMC, was asked to host a blog on Yahoo! with "advice, tips, and reassurance" for seriously ill patients and their families. Byock's blog is at http://health.yahoo.com/two-weeks/byock/.

Beest of Breed: The online edition of DARTMOUTH MEDICINE was chosen by the National Science Foundation (NSF) as an example of best practices of web usage. The NSF's Public Information Officer Resource Center site now has a link to DM's website.

Inner Circle: Three Dartmouth professors—including DMS plastic surgeon Dr. Joseph Rosen—participated in the Microsoft Research Faculty Summit in July. The invitationonly event focuses on issues and trends in computing.

Liquid Assests: Two undergraduates, with support from Dartmouth College First-Year Summer Research Awards, spent the summer working with DMS's Dr. Jay Buckey, a former astronaut, on measuring liquids' volume and mass in microgravity.

Taken For Granted: DMS was one of eight medical schools awarded a Caring for Community grant by the Association of American Medical Colleges. The funds will go to the Mascoma Valley Free Clinic, which aids the medically underserved.

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Dartmouth Medical SchoolDartmouth-Hitchcock Medical CenterWhite River Junction VAMCNorris Cotton Cancer CenterDartmouth College