Largest biomedical research facility in U.S. opens in Streeterville

(Published June 30, 2019)

By Jesse Wright

In June, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine unveiled the largest academic biomedical research facility in the United States.

Opening ceremonies for the Louis A. Simpson and Kimberly K. Querrey Biomedical Research Center, 303 E. Superior St., included local officials as well as Sen. Dick Durbin and Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

The facility will provide additional space for biomedical research and, according to a news release, the school is the fastest-growing research center among U.S. medical schools.

Pritzker said the Chicago facility will attract top talent.

“Building the best biomedical research hub right here in Streeterville means that we can attract researchers from all around the globe,” the governor said. “And it also means the best and the brightest will stay right here in Chicago.”

Kimberly Querrey, for whom the building is partially named, said she expects the research done in the facility will change human health.

“Lou [Simpson] and I are fortunate to be able to support the biomedical community and we’re humbled by the collaboration of the many scientists in this room committed to improving human life,” she said.

The 12-story building was designed by Perkins and Will and features a curved-glass exterior and offers Northwestern 625,000 square feet of research space. In addition, the building is designed for a future expansion that can more than double its size vertically, with up to 16 new floors in the second phase of construction.

According to the release, the site will be staffed by 2,000 people and is expected to generate $390 million a year in economic activity.

Largest biomedical research facility in U.S. opens in Streeterville

(Published June 18, 2019)

By Jesse Wright

In June, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine unveiled the largest academic biomedical research facility in the United States.

Opening ceremonies for the   Louis A. Simpson and Kimberly K. Querrey Biomedical Research Center, 303 E. Superior St., included local officials as well as Sen. Dick Durbin and Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

The facility will provide additional space for biomedical research and, according to a news release, the school is the fastest-growing research center among U.S. medical schools.

Pritzker said the Chicago facility will attract top talent.

“Building the best biomedical research hub right here in Streeterville means that we can attract researchers from all around the globe,” the governor said. “And it also means the best and the brightest will stay right here in Chicago.”

Kimberly Querrey, for whom the building is partially named, said she expects the research done in the facility will change human health.

“Lou [Simpson] and I are fortunate to be able to support the biomedical community and we’re humbled by the collaboration of the many scientists in this room committed to improving human life,” she said.

The 12-story building was designed by Perkins and Will and features a curved-glass exterior and offers Northwestern 625,000 square feet of research space. In addition, the building is designed for a future expansion that can more than double its size vertically, with up to 16 new floors in the second phase of construction.

According to the release, the site will be staffed by 2,000 people and is expected to generate $390 million a year in economic activity.

Headache Foundation honors Nobel laureate neurobiologist Eric Kandel

(Published May 30, 2019)

By Jesse Wright

The Chicago-based National Headache Foundation honored pioneering neurobiologist Eric Kandel in May as part of their annual gala fundraiser.

Kandel won a Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2000 for his work showing how memories can physically alter the brain. Kandel will be 90 in November, and in an exclusive interview with the News, he talked about his current research.

“I’m studying age-related memory loss,” he said.

Through experiments he has shown older adults can offset memory loss and improve memory through the release of osteocalcin, a hormone released from the bones. The best way to get it is by exercise and movement. Kandel said his discovery changed his life.  

“I walk everywhere,” he said. “I now walk to work, and I walk back (from)work, and I walk more than I used to.”

While Kandel said he personally hasn’t done extensive research in headaches, early in his career he studied spreading depression, which is thought to be the underlying cause of migraines.

“Headaches are a universal problem,” he said.

Among migraine sufferers is his granddaughter. During the awards ceremony, Kandel said might have changed his research if he was aware of  her condition earlier in his career.

“Had I known one of my grandchildren would develop migraine headaches, I would have continued to study migraines,” he said. “But, I’m still relatively young.”

Headache Foundation Executive Chairman Seymour Diamond praised Kandel’s work before awarding him the Lifetime Achievement Award.

“His work has contributed in so many ways to understanding headaches,” Diamond said.

The evening raised $225,000 for headache research.

Grilling guac: Why not grill the dip?

(Published May 30, 2019)

Guacamole is a popular side at any barbecue. While it’s usually cooked with raw ingredients, grilling the avocado, onion, pepper, garlic and tomatoes can add a complex, smoky flavor that improves the end result.

Ingredients:

1 medium red onion, skinned, cut in half

2 small tomatoes, halved

1 jalapeno pepper, halved (seeded, if you don’t want a lot of heat)

2 large ripe avocados, halved and pitted

1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

1-2 large cloves of garlic not skinned

The juice from one line (or ½ depending on taste)

Cumin to taste

Salt to taste

Chop up the cilantro and set it aside in a bowl. Add a dash of cumin and some salt.

On a grill over medium heat, place the avocados face down, so the flesh is exposed to the heat. Toss the rest of the vegetables—including the limes—face down to the heat. The avocados and onion will take 3-5 minutes to char, but the tomatoes, garlic, and jalapeno should be turned regularly, exposing all sides to the heat. The lime should be checked and, once it begins to char, taken off the grill.

Once all vegetables have been charred, scoop the avocado flesh from the rind into the bowl with the cilantro. Remove the garlic skin (after it’s cooled) and add that to the bowl. The garlic should be soft, but if not, mince it first. Mince the onion and add that to the bowl. Squeeze half the lime into the bowl. Chop up the jalapeno and add that to the bowl. Roughly chop up the tomatoes, add that to the bowl.

Mix everything together by hand with a large spoon or fork or a pestle. Taste; add more lime juice, salt, cumin as needed.

Serve immediately with chips.

Unique spring runs in Chicago include bubbles, colors and love

(Published April 29, 2019)

Abhinanda Datta, Staff Writer

Although April did bring snow, it is safe to say spring has finally sprung on Chicago. Just in time for spring are healthy, fun activities to get the body in shape before beach season. If ordinary 5k races are boring, here are some weirdly fun runs:

Superhero Run 2019

Where: Diversey Event Harbor

When: 9 a.m., May 4

Wear a cape and run for a good cause. The Superhero Run, the biggest fundraising event of the year for DePaul University’s Cities Project, provides Chicago Public School students with critical mentoring and after-school support. All proceeds go toward maintenance and expansion of the program. Tickets: $35-$40.

Night Nation Run

Where: Soldier Field

When: Gates open at 5:30 p.m., May 18

The Night Nation Run is a running music festival. More than one million people have participated over the years. The run begins and ends at the Soldier Field and the course includes studded bubble zones, live DJs, light shows and black and white neon lights. As participants enjoy this unique, musical running course, the major attraction awaits near the finish line—an epic main stage after party with top headliner DJs. Tickets: $30-$60.

Bubble Run Chicago

Where: Bridgeview

When: May 25

Participants wear white t-shirts, and run, walk, dance and play across three miles, with groups starting every three to five minutes. At each kilometer, participants run through Foam Bogs where they get doused in colored foam from head to toe. Each of the four Foam Bogs along the course will be represented by different colored foam. Tickets: $40.

The Color Run Chicago

Where: Soldier Field

When: June 15

A race that celebrates love, The Color Run requires participants to wear white and bring nothing but good vibes. As participants run through the course, they are plastered with colors and once they cross the finish line, there is a party with music, dancing and even more colors. Tickets: $25-$50.

Spark joy with organizing tips from Chicago’s experts

By Elizabeth Czapski, Staff Writer

With spring warmth just around the corner, it’s time to clean house and local pros have some advice.

Monica Friel, president and founder of Chaos to Order, a Chicago-based organizing company, recommends decluttering the house twice a year, in the fall and in the spring, to keep on top of the clutter.

Marie Kondo’s KonMari Method of tidying emphasizes discarding anything that doesn’t “spark joy.” The method suggests going through items by category (books, clothes and so on) and touching each one. If it sparks joy, keep it—then, once you’ve gotten rid of the things you don’t want, you can organize the rest.

Friel said Kondo’s Netflix show has resulted in an uptick in her business.

“I think it’s great that Marie Kondo has inspired us to declutter and get rid of things that don’t bring us joy.”

While Kondo’s methods don’t work for everyone, Friel said getting rid of excess baggage is healthy. “I believe that the clutter that accumulates in and around our homes really weighs us down, and it’s kind of a burden that you carry,” Friel said.

Terri Albert of The Chicago Organizer said the KonMari Method doesn’t tend to work well for her clients because they often need more hands-on coaching.

Instead of “sparking joy,” Albert uses three words with her clients: need, use and love. Items that you need in your life, use regularly, and have a strong attachment to can stay. Everything else can be thrown away or donated.

The time it takes for someone to go through their entire house varies, so Albert suggests setting a timer and working for 15 or 30 minutes at a time. “People will be very amazed that they can get a lot more done if they really focus,” she said.

As for staying organized, Albert said it’s necessary to have a realistic “baseline,” or vision of what your ideal space looks like.

Albert said changing habits is hard but can be done by taking baby steps.

“A good one is to open up your mail every single day, immediately recycle the junk mail, immediately enter important event dates in your calendar, and if you can’t get to the rest of it, attend to the rest of it as soon as you can,” she said.

Single this Valentine’s Day? Focus on yourself

By Elizabeth Czapski | Staff Writer

Valentine’s Day can be a bummer for single people.

While some are content flying solo, for those who are not happily alone, the holiday can provoke anxiety and loneliness as friends post photos of roses, sweets and dinner plans on social media. But it all comes down to perspective.

Relationship expert, Sara Haynes advises singles to see Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to celebrate all kinds of love, not just romantic love.

Self love is also important. “[Think] about yourself and what you love about yourself. [Use] it as the time to reflect on you, and celebrate you as a person,” Haynes said.

It’s important to treat yourself with compassion on Valentine’s Day, as well as every day, Haynes said.

”“Really lean into the hard feelings of what it’s like to be single. It’s definitely not always easy, especially if you’re at a certain stage in your life where you thought you would be somewhere else. … Say, ‘Yeah, this kind of sucks, but I am here right now and I want to focus on what is present in my life.’”

Sue De Santo, a relationship coach and licensed clinical social worker, believes loving who you are is vital. “Before we can be in [a] relationship we have to really focus on, ‘What is it that I want [and] need in my life, and what do I enjoy?’” she said.

Valentine’s Day can be a good opportunity to hone in on what your interests are. In short, do something you like.

Buy yourself flowers or make yourself a nice breakfast, De Santo said, and focus on “developing a relationship with yourself.”

“We have to give to ourselves first so that we are open to receiving that [love] from another person,” she said. “Really [allow] yourself to receive that love we say we want.”

New takes on the Thanksgiving table

By Stephanie Racine, Staff Writer

Thanksgiving does not have to consist of the same canned cranberry sauce, cornucopia and bread stuffing every November. This year, throw out the rulebook and use these tips to augment your favorite holiday classics.  

 

Lighter dishes

Staying on the lighter side of Thanksgiving can be satisfying. Try adding cauliflower to stuffing in lieu of bread or rice. For vegan guests, swap out animal byproducts for lentils or chickpeas in a stuffing-type side dish. Sweet potatoes are a good substitute for regular potatoes in mashed, baked, or fried forms, while butternut squash soup is a light and classically-inspired alternative to heavier side dishes.

Cultural additions

For extra flavor, try adding a cultural twist to Thanksgiving favorites. A chile rub on the turkey can give your bird a Southwestern kick, while pumpkin egg rolls or turkey dumplings can make great finger foods. For a simpler option, add a dish from a favorite international cuisine: carbonara, stuffed grape leaves, rice pilaf and spring rolls all fit in with Thanksgiving mainstays.

 

Fun with pumpkins

Pumpkins aren’t just for Halloween. Spray paint pumpkins gold, white or silver for a unique addition to a table or decoration. Painting the menu on a pumpkin is a bold way to announce what will be on the table. Mini pumpkins can be used as seat markers or to denote what cheeses are on a cheese plate. Add flowers and glitter or string lights to pumpkins for an extra dimension.

Say goodbye to turkey

For the main course, consider going with a Midwestern classic like a  honey baked ham, and make your stuffing with a meat such as lamb or beef. A pescatarian Thanksgiving could feature lobster or salmon with a cranberry sauce. Or get rid of the meat altogether for a vegetarian spread – mushroom and chestnut “beef” Wellington can substitute turkey for a vegan main dish.

The deadliest catch: Can you eat Chicago river fish?

By Elizabeth Czapski | Staff Writer

With summer comes fishing and in the Chicago River, the fish are biting. But should people be eating them? Well, it depends on the type of fish.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, fish in Illinois waterways can be contaminated with several chemicals, but in the Chicago River, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are the most common contaminant. This group of man-made chemicals was used in manufacturing until it was banned by the Environmental Protection Agency in 1979.

A local fisherman holds up a carp caught in February of 2017. Photo courtesy Marcin & Henryk Carp Fishing Tournament Team

PBCs are known as legacy contaminants that stay in the environment for a long time, according to Dr. Timothy Hoellein, Associate Professor of Biology at Loyola University Chicago. Once an organism consumes these contaminants, the PCBs remain in the tissue of living organisms and can be passed up the food chain to humans.

The Department of Public Health’s fish advisory states that there is “no immediate health threat from eating contaminated fish.” The key word there is immediate because long-term low-level exposure may be harmful and could cause developmental problems in children.

The Department of Public Health recommends limiting consumption of certain species. Channel catfish that are 18 inches or longer should be limited to once per month. For largemouth bass and sunfish of all sizes, the recommendation is one meal per week. Common carp smaller than 12 inches should be limited to six meals per year, and carp longer than 12 inches should not be eaten at all. All of these species are contaminated with PCBs.

According to Melaney Arnold, public information officer at the Illinois Department of Public Health, the larger the fish, the longer it has been consuming contaminants, which leads to a higher build-up of chemicals in the fish.

The bottom line is, just because you’re hooked on fishing, don’t get hooked on eating everything you catch.

Published August 2, 2018

Running the river with Urban Kayaks

By Taylor Hartz | Staff Writer

Get up, get out and get active with Urban Kayaks, a water sports rental company that has something for everyone.

With two locations, the company offers rentals that allow patrons to cruise the river on their own or join a guided tour. In addition to the Riverwalk location, last month Urban Kayaks added a lakeside location at 111 N. Lake Shore Drive.

The company is open daily, 9 a.m. through 7 p.m., and Urban Kayaks has many tour options, including sunset cruises, the Navy Pier fireworks display and the historical Chicago sights and architecture.

Urban Kayak tours offer great views of downtown architecture | Photo by Taylor Hartz

Novices can start with the Riverwalk Introductory Paddle Tour, a one-hour experience for $45 per person.

Paddlers of every age and level are welcome. “Urban Kayaks has infant life vests available that can allow the littlest members of your family to join you safely on the water,” said manager Eric Schwartz. Schwartz said he takes his eight month old out with him regularly.

If you have older parents or grandparents who would like to check out Chicago from the water but fear they aren’t fit enough to keep up – tandem kayaks are a great option. Older kayakers can take the front seat while all the paddling is done from the back.

At the new location, the company offers paddle boards and sit-on-top kayaks.

“The sit-on-kayaks are a bit easier to get back on if you fall off,” Schwartz said.
Paddlers can sit or stand on paddle boards and Schwartz said they’re not difficult to master.

Those new to paddle-boarding can try out the Intro to Paddle Board Tour—a one-hour class. Meanwhile, for the masters, there is a paddle board yoga class starting in July.

A kayaker enjoys a paddle on the Chicago River with Urban Kayaks. Photo by Taylor Hartz

No matter the tour, arrive a bit early for a safety lesson. In their pre-launch safety video, Urban Kayaks explains that “The Chicago River works exactly like a city street” and makes sure kayakers are prepared to hit the road – or, river.

On the water, kayakers are encouraged to think of large tour boats like CTA buses, smaller, private boats as cars, and themselves as bikers with their own safe lane.

The company is offering a season pass. The pass includes unlimited kayak and paddle board rentals seven days a week and 25 percent off for guests during the week. If members rent a tandem kayak, they can bring a guest for free every time.

“The memberships are good for people who live around here and want to use it a lot,” Schwartz said. The next season pass is for the fall months, called “Fall You Can Kay-
ak,” for $100.

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