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Media Tip Sheet: Bucknell’s January Story Ideas

LEWISBURG, Pa. — These are Bucknell University story ideas that may interest you for the rest of January, now that faculty are back for the start of the new semester.

A TRUE REASON TO ’RAY — The doctor who led the first-in-the-world transplant of a pig heart into a human patient a week ago, Dr. Bartley Griffith, is a 1970 Bucknell graduate who advised the University when it started its biomedical engineering program. Dr. Griffith performed the seven-hour surgery to transplant the pig heart into a 57-year-old patient with terminal heart disease on Friday, Jan. 7 at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore. Also parent of a 1997 Bucknell graduate and uncle and nephew of Bucknell grads, Dr. Griffith was a former member of the University Board of Trustees. As a student, he was a biology major, played men’s lacrosse and was in the ski club. Bucknell Professor James Baish ’79, biomedical engineering, met with Griffith during development of the University’s biomedical engineering program. “He was very enthusiastic about what we were doing,” Baish says. He called him “a man of a lot of energy and ideas. He is a high-energy, creative individual.” Creativity was needed to get David Bennett, a 57-year-old Maryland patient, a new heart. Bennett’s condition — heart failure and an irregular heartbeat — made him ineligible for a human heart transplant or a heart pump, so they chose this option. Prior attempts at such transplants — or xenotransplantation — have failed, largely because patients’ bodies rapidly rejected the animal organ. But the Maryland surgeons used a heart from a pig that had undergone gene-editing to remove a sugar in its cells that’s responsible for that hyper-fast organ rejection. Baish says pig hearts are anatomically similar to human hearts with the logistics of getting everything hooked up. He said pig hearts are about the same size and that blood vessels are in the same places. CONTACT: Baish, biomedical engineering, 570-577-1163,

NO SUPREME REACTION — While lawmakers argue that political backgrounds of Supreme Court justices may predict their decisions, new research co-authored by Bucknell Freeman College of Management Professor Kate Suslava, accounting & financial management, finds that the Supreme Court is unbiased and unpredictable when it comes to Wall Street reaction in cases involving publicly-traded companies. Suslava collaborated with business professors from Yeshiva University and Rutgers University on the paper, entitled Do Financial Markets Anticipate Corporate-Related Decisions of the United States Supreme Court? Using analysis of more than 500 Supreme Court cases from 1948 to 2018, the researchers found that the stock market reacts to both the announcement that the Supreme Court will hear the case and the final decision, suggesting that the stock market could not anticipate the Court’s actions. “We also find that case-specific characteristics, such as parties involved, the type of legal issue, and press coverage explain some of the cross-sectional variations in the stock returns across cases,” the authors wrote. “Our tests indicate that there is no information leakage prior to the events and no stock price drift after the events.” The researchers found some evidence that the option market anticipates the final decision as early as the date certiorari is granted, reinforcing the theory that smart money comes early to the option market. CONTACT: Suslava, 570-577-3385,

CONNECTING THE LIFELINE — The Chronicle of Philanthropy recently published a story featuring the Lifeline Association, a giving circle of about 250 men from the the State Correctional Institute — Coal Township that contributes to charities in the surrounding coal region. Academic learning is crucial in Lifeline and after a member initially wrote 57 letters to college professors asking them to teach a course for members, only Bucknell Professor (now Emeritus) Carl Milofsky, sociology, responded. He designed an “Inside Out” class that brought together about 12 Bucknell students and seven men serving life sentences. Lifeline has subsequently raised and donated $11,400 over three years to the Kaupas Camp, where Mount Carmel Area School District youngsters get to participate in both summer academic and athletic activities hosted by Bucknell faculty, staff and athletic coaches. The Lifeline has also given $5,000 to the Mount Carmel Area Food Pantry. CONTACT: Shaunna Barnhart, Bucknell Coal Region Field Station, 570-577-1724,


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