Tag Archives: wake forest

Wake Forest Lab Developing Frankenweenies

Not sure how this escaped the local press, or if it didn’t escape the local press how I missed it when they covered it, but it seems that Wake Forest’s Institute for Regenerative Medicine has graduated from creating lab-grown bladders to lab-grown penises:

Penises grown in laboratories could soon be tested on men by scientists developing technology to help people with congenital abnormalities, or who have undergone surgery for aggressive cancer or suffered traumatic injury.

Researchers at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, are assessing engineered penises for safety, function and durability. They hope to receive approval from the US Food and Drug Administration and to move to human testing within five years.

While it is fun, in a very immature way, to play word games with this story it really is serious science that will mean a lot to the men it helps. It’s also quite cool that it’s happening here in Winston-Salem.

FYI, they’re working on a LOT more than bladders and penises:

Atala’s team are working on 30 different types of tissues and organs, including the kidney and heart. They bioengineered and transplanted the first human bladder in 1999, the first urethra in 2004 and the first vagina in 2005.

Finally, a random fact for you: the plural of penis can be either penises or penes. Who knew?

Doing Things the Right Way

College sports, at every level, is about winning. That's particularly true at the highest level for the major-revenue sports like football and basketball. The pressure on the players and coaches to win is tremendous and for the coaches if you don't win then you won't have your job for long. With that kind of environment it's no wonder that programs come under scrutiny for putting the sports above academics and doing whatever it takes, right or wrong, to get talented athletes on the field. And that's why Jim Grobe, who resigned his position yesterday, has been such a remarkable football coach for Wake Forest.

Coach Grobe is a man, so undoubtedly he's made mistakes and surely there are things that have happened in his program that weren't great, but by all accounts he's done things the right way. He's held his players to high expectations, he hasn't run afoul of NCAA regulations and he's built a tremendously positive culture at the second-smallest of all the FBS schools in the country. In the process he also built a win-loss record over 13 seasons that was close to break-even, which to anyone familiar with the history of Wake football knows is damn-near a miracle.

Unfortunately for those of us who hate to see him go Coach Grobe's record was a winning record after eight seasons, but a string of five straight losing seasons took him to a losing overall record at Wake. He inflicted his own judgment on that trend by stepping aside rather than searching for answers for another season or waiting to be pushed out. That should not come as a surprise to anyone who's watched him over the last 13 years.

I'll let Dan Collins, who covered WFU Football for the Winston-Salem Journal, tell you what you need to know:

Over the countless times I've been around Jim Grobe, he's always been the same guy. And he was that guy today while announcing he was stepping down after 13 seasons as the Deacons' head coach…

Emotions did begin to show when Wellman got up to announce Grobe was stepping down. With eyes glistening, Wellman professed not only his admiration and respect for Grobe, but his love as well.

Thankfully, he recognized it as a universal sentiment.

"When you cut through it all, Jim Grobe was a winning football coach but he was a better man,'' Wellman said. "Whenever I talk with anybody, whether it be other athletic directors across the country, whether it be conference personnel, whether it be other head coaches across the country, the first thing they ask me when I talk with them is, `How is Jim? How is he doing?'

"And it's always with a smile. They usually end the conversation by saying `Jim Grobe is one of the best men I know.' I will tell you he's one of the best men I know. He's not only a friend, but he's a tower of a man.''…

But I'll close now by saying that for all the emotions in the room today, there were few present who had more reason than me to be sad over the realization that Grobe has coached his final game at Wake.

Jim Grobe has been good to me every day he's been at Wake. That's not because I'm special. It's because he's special.

Truth is, he's been good to everybody.

Before resigning Coach Grobe was the only FBS coach to have a losing record for five straight years. It's a testament to how he built this program that he was able to stay around for that long. Losing while doing something the right way sure is easier to take than winning while doing something the wrong way and the folks at Wake seemed to realize it. Let's hope Coach Grobe's successor sees things the same way.

Packed House (Not)

Opening paragraphs of an article in today's Wall Street Journal titled "Where Have All the Fans Gone?":

It was the kind of college-basketball game that used to guarantee a packed house.

When North Carolina took the court to play Wake Forest in Winston-Salem, N.C., one night last month, it marked the reunion of two storied conference rivals whose campuses are separated by a short drive across the spine of a basketball-crazy state.

Yet when the No. 5 Tar Heels arrived, they found a crowd nearly 2,000 short of capacity. Never mind that Wake is having an off year; it was the lowest turnout for that matchup since Joel Coliseum opened in 1989.

It would be easy to blame the low attendance on Wake's horrific teams these last couple of years, but I think anyone from these parts who was being honest would tell you that in years past a UNC trip to Winston-Salem to scrimmage a high school team would have sold out the Joel. 

The article goes on to posit several possible reasons for the ACC's attendance decline: conference expansion which has diluted traditional rivalries, mediocre teams, low-profile coaches, a "charisma deficit" and the proliferation of cheap HD TVs that make the at-home viewing experience better than ever before. I'd say all of those factors have contributed to the conference's current malaise, but whatever the reasons I'd say ACC basketball seems to have jumped the shark, at least for now. 

The Mind is a Powerful Weapon

Wake Forest's men's basketball team has had a rough couple of years.  Last year was coach Jeff Bzdelik's first year at the helm and he inherited a situation that was challenging to say the least.  I don't care if Wake had hired the love child of Adolph Rupp and Bobby Knight, last year's squad was going to have a losing record and the only question was how bad.  It ended up being VERY bad and as you can imagine Wake fans weren't too happy.  I can recall many a conversation with fellow fans throughout the season who were highly skeptical of the program and of the coach.  My refrain was, and will be for the foreseeable future, that Coach Bzdelik cannot be fairly judged until at least year three of his tenure; it will take that long before he can have his own recruits in place and his system instituted.  

Coming into the current season I think any reasonable fan would say that in order for the team to be considered successful it would need only improve on the number of wins, be competitive in more ACC games and look like an actual team on the court.  So far it's looking good for the Deacons.  As you'd expect with a very young squad the team has been inconsistent, but compared to last year they're a dream to watch.  On the days when they're bad they look like a high school team out there, but they look like a team.  On the days when they're good they look exactly like what they are – a team that is trying to climb the ACC ladder and is a dangerous foe on any given day to all but perhaps UNC and Duke. And yes, they look like a team.

Obviously the jury's still out on Coach Bzdelik's program, but personally I'm liking what I see.  I also think every player and coach in every sport should listen to this blurb from the coach's press conference after his team's win over Virginia Tech last Saturday (found at Dan Collins' excellent My Take on Wake blog). He's spot on about the power of believing in yourself and the mind being a powerful weapon:

Ish Getting Some Minutes

I stumbled on this article about one of my favorite Wake Forest alums, Ish Smith, who wound up his college career last spring.  He went undrafted, was picked up as a free agent by the Rockets, was third on the depth chart at his position, and now thanks to injuries to the guys in front of him is playing some real significant minutes and handling himself well so far.  That's great news for a guy who proved himself to be a class act during his time at Wake.