• Gerstner Family Foundation Attends 2019 #RealCollege Convening
    October 4, 2019

    Sarah Persily, our Program Director, was invited to participate in this year’s #RealCollege Convening in Houston, TX. #RealCollege is a national movement, focused on the struggles of modern-day students, seeking to change the landscape of higher education to ensure all students can afford their studies and complete their degrees. The movement is led by Sara Goldrick-Rab and her colleagues at the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice. Their two-day annual convening assembles students, practitioners, policymakers, researchers, and activists to raise awareness, develop strategies and take action to secure students' basic needs. In addition to attending a number of illuminating and powerful sessions addressing student experiences and the overall struggles they face, Sarah spoke on a panel highlighting the impact of emergency aid for college students, where she discussed the benefits and challenges of our student emergency fund programs. Sarah also got to hear directly from staff currently administering or who are interested in implementing emergency grant programs at their college to better understand the challenges that they encounter. Video of the Emergency Aid panel, along with video of many of the other informative sessions, are available at the Hope Center’s vimeo page:

    Watch #RealCollege Emergency Aid Panel at
  • We Need More Doctors Who Are Scientists
    September 25, 2019

    Unfortunately, the career path of the physician-scientist has become longer and a lot less appealing. In the United States, about 20,000 graduates emerge from medical school each year, many with significant debt. Many physicians are well into their 30s by the time they complete their clinical training. Doctors who decide to take the research path face the daunting prospect of many more years struggling to win grants and establish a lab. According to N.I.H. statistics, researchers with medical degrees on average receive their first major N.I.H. grant only at age 45. Recognizing the problem, the National Institutes of Health’s Physician-Scientist Workforce report, published in 2014, laid out a road map to address it. Nonetheless, the number of young doctors pursuing research continues to wane.

  • Not All Gifted Children are from Affluent Families
    September 19, 2019

    A recent Wall Street Journal article explores the lack of diversity in advanced placement and honors programs in schools. Despite increases in school spending over the past half-century, the U.S. Department of Education reports that nearly two-thirds of students score below the proficient level on national reading tests, and large socioeconomic disparities persist. In spite of recent criticism, the Advanced Placement program has experienced rapid expansion since its inception. By last year, nearly 40 subjects were available to some 2.8 million students enrolled in more than 22,000 high schools. The downside of this expansion is that many low-income and minority students who complete the courses don’t score well enough on the exams to receive college credit. Chester Finn, former head of the Fordham Institute, a think tank that specializes in education policy, believes the proper response to underwhelming test scores is better preparation for disadvantaged students who enroll, and he commends the AP program for maintaining high standards. “If we care about upward mobility, these are the kids we should be trying to help,” said Mr. Finn. “Who’s going to be the scientists and inventors and entrepreneurs of tomorrow? Are they just going to come from the already privileged, or are they going to incorporate the equally smart kids who didn’t start off with so many advantages?” Mr. Finn considers much of the criticism leveled at gifted-and-talented programs misplaced; our education system should be able simultaneously to “raise the ceiling” for those who are exceptionally able and “lift the floor” for others who are struggling.

  • Broad Institute Collaborative Study Reveals Genetic Alterations Linked to Cancer Drug Resistance
    September 10, 2019

    A new study from a group of researchers at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), IBM Research, and other organizations compared the results of liquid and tissue biopsies from patients who were treated for gastrointestinal cancer but developed drug resistance. It revealed that liquid biopsies, a new method for sampling tumors, provide a more complete picture of the patient’s genetic diversity and how drug resistance in tumors evolves. "Remarkably, we found that nearly every patient we analyzed had developed not just one, but multiple drug resistance mechanisms simultaneously, and this may be more common than we previously thought," said Gad Getz, director of the Cancer Genome Computational Analysis Group at the Broad and the Paul C. Zamecnik Chair in Oncology at the MGH Cancer Center. " The study also suggests possible molecular mechanisms underlying drug resistance, which could point the way to new and more personalized therapeutics. The study is part of a five-year collaboration between the Broad Institute and IBM Research to analyze tumors before and after the onset of drug resistance, in order to discover underlying mechanisms driving resistance. The collaboration grew out of a cancer drug resistance and blood biopsy project supported by the Gerstner Family Foundation.

  • University of Albany Unveils New Pantry for Students, Faculty and Staff
    September 5, 2019

    University of Albany officials held a ribbon-cutting Wednesday at the university's first on-campus food bank, the Purple Pantry, which is available to all students, staff and faculty members. At the ribbon-cutting, UAlbany Provost Carol Kim cited studies indicating that 50 percent of American college students are food insecure. "Think about how challenging it is for students to be academically successful when they are hungry and thinking about where their next meal is coming from," she said. A university-wide survey revealed at least 30 percent of students are skipping meals to stretch their food budget. Since the pantry's soft launch earlier this year, more than 400 students have stopped in seeking food. "We anticipate there will be a surge in individuals coming through in the fall," said Luke A. Rumsey, UAlbany's associate director of Off Campus Student Services.