Tulane produces most Peace Corps volunteers

Tulane University’s graduate school produces the most Peace Corps volunteers of any school nationwide, the agency announced.

Tulane also ranks No. 12 among midsized undergraduate schools on the Peace Corps’ 2016 list of top volunteer-producing colleges and universities.

“The Peace Corps is a unique opportunity for college graduates to put their education into practice and become agents of change in communities around the world,” Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet said.

At present, 18 Tulane graduate students and 19 undergraduate alumni are Peace Corps volunteers, according to school officials. Since the agency was created in 1961, more than 520 Tulane graduates have served as Peace Corps volunteers.

“Tulane is committed to preparing and inspiring its students to address the world’s most pressing problems and needs,” Tulane President Mike Fitts said.

Many of the volunteers are students in the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.

Tulane receives grant for Congo research

The Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine has received $7.2 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation for family planning research and programming in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Researchers will participate in the ACQUAL II Project, whose name stands for “access” and “quality.”

The Congo has the third-largest population in sub-Saharan Africa, with 77 million people. Women on average give birth to more than six children in their lifetimes. Yet in many developing countries, birth rates have decreased as women and men have realized the benefits of smaller families.

According to Tulane officials, family planning reduces maternal mortality, slows rapid population growth and alleviates hardship. Tulane’s work in the Congo is intended to increase access to contraceptives to encourage this process.

“At some point, women and men opt to have fewer children in hopes of giving their children a better life,” said Jane T. Bertrand, who holds the Neal A. and Mary Vanselow chair and is principal investigator of the new grant.

The three-year grant will fund the expansion of Tulane’s community-based contraceptive distribution program throughout the capital city of Kinshasa and the neighboring province of Kongo Central. The program will serve adults, adolescents and young people.

LSU professor gets medal for teaching

Dr. Nicolas G. Bazan, a renowned professor and director of the Neuroscience Center of Excellence at the LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine, has been selected as the recipient of the 2016 Gradle Medal for Good Teaching.

As a researcher who has become a primary source of information about blinding eye and neurodegenerative diseases, Bazan has served as a mentor to the next generation of ophthalmologists and neuroscientists, LSU officials said.

The award will be presented by the Pan-American Association of Ophthalmology at the World Ophthalmology Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico.

The Gradle Medal acknowledges excellence in teaching and education in the field of ophthalmology.

Its award honors Bazan’s demonstrated leadership in developing, implementing and maintaining an outstanding training program and continuing education in ophthalmology. Bazan has served as chairman of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology Foundation, where he established and funded the Nicolas Bazan Fellowship for Latin American ophthalmologists to attend the annual association meetings.

In 1994, he established the summer undergraduate neuroscience program, a pipeline program he still directs that offers undergraduate students hands-on experiences in laboratory research and education in the neurosciences and ophthalmology.