Where Everybody Knows Your ... Biochemistry

Summer 2018
It’s March 16, and from the convivial confines of Morning Grounds—the coffee shop that opened in January on Scaife Hall’s fifth floor—three first-year Pitt Med students watch a stream of people hurry into the Petersen Events Center for the Match Day ceremony. Camila Ortiz, Lauren Auster, and Karen Olson plan to join in the ceremonies (for motivation and free food); they met here before heading across the street because they wanted coffee, obviously, and also because Morning Grounds has become Pitt Med’s new meet-up spot.
“It has doubled the time I spend in Scaife,” says Olson, a 25-year-old Arizona native. 
“I used to go home [after class] and study, but now I study here,” adds Auster, a Case Western Reserve University alum. 
Ortiz, a 27-year-old Allegheny County native, likes the coffee shop’s relaxed vibe. The space is warmly lit, with plenty of seating for those intent on getting acquainted with the Michaelis-Menten equation or fellow classmates. There’s a pair of long tables for study groups, and a row of lounge chairs with adjustable desk arms faces floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Terrace Street. 
“You can have conversations with people and study,” says Auster, 23. “And I like white noise when I study, so I like it here.”
Morning Grounds was created as part of a Scaife Hall renovation project. The latest phase included replacing the escalators between the fourth and sixth floors with an open staircase, remodeling the lobbies on the fourth and fifth floors (including a glass “storefront” entrance), and adding a fifth-floor tribute to legendary Pitt Med physician-scientists (see story below).
William Strober, a second-year Pitt Med student from Portola Valley, Calif., won the coffee shop’s naming contest. 
For his cleverness, Strober, 24, received a $100 gift card to Morning Grounds. He says he passed on puns involving an IV drip and bitter pills before landing on the winner. “I’m really happy that I’ll be able to leave my mark on Pitt Med,” Strober says.   


More Awesome, Please


Now it’s even easier to look up to Maud Menten.
“They were guaranteed nothing, and they gave everything,” Arthur Levine, the John and Gertrude Petersen Dean of Medicine and senior vice chancellor for the health sciences, said as he unveiled a digital and interactive tribute to five Pitt physician-scientists who changed the world. Those exiting the fifth floor elevators in Scaife Hall will now be reminded of the accomplishments of Bernard Fisher, who transformed breast cancer treatment and our understanding of cancer, Peter Safar, codeveloper of CPR who established the first modern ambulance service, Thomas Starzl, giant of transplantation medicine, Maud Menten, biochemist whose work made drug development possible, and Jonas Salk, of the killed-virus polio vaccine.
The doctors faced daunting challenges—Safar evaded the Nazi regime; Starzl dealt with medical residents who organized against his early attempts at liver transplantation; Menten, because she was a woman, was not allowed to be a university faculty member in her native Canada through most of her career. “These are the people we want our students to think about as they confront their own obstacles and prepare to write the next chapters in American medicine,” noted Levine. 
LEFT: Peter Salk (left) and Joy Starzl (right) with Pitt’s Maggie McDonald and Chancellor Patrick Gallagher at the exhibit unveiling. RIGHT: Trying out the interactive display.