U-Md. Gets Schizophrenia Research Funds

The University of Maryland School of Medicine will receive $24 million over six years from a Swiss pharmaceutical company to develop new drugs that treat schizophrenia, school officials said yesterday.

University officials said they hoped the funding from Novartis Pharma AG will allow them to develop drugs that treat the cause of schizophrenia and not merely the symptoms.

"This illness is perhaps the most important unsolved health problem in the world," said William T. Carpenter, a professor of psychiatry and director of Maryland Psychiatric Research Center in Catonsville, where much of the research will be conducted. "It is the world's fourth-leading cause of disability and costs the U.S.A. more dollars than all cancers combined."

Those suffering from schizophrenia often hear voices, talk nonsensically, suffer hallucinations and have a distorted perception of reality. Schizophrenia affects about 1 percent of the population, including about 2.7 million Americans. Although some people respond to treatment, the disease is a chronic, long-term condition that is expensive to treat.

New Tenant Sought for Naval Lab Space

Anne Arundel County officials expect to get proposals this week from a handful of companies interested in moving into the 45 acres of space that housed a bank of naval laboratories for 96 years.

The Annapolis warehouse, called Building 100, was shut down Saturday, the latest result of defense cutbacks after the end of the Cold War. About 1,000 former employees gathered outside the building to silently watch Marines lower the flag at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, marking its official closing.

Over the past few months, the work done there has been distributed to research facilities in Philadelphia and Carderock, in Montgomery County.

Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens (D) said the challenge now will be to bring a private company to the site and maintain the strong sense of community that developed over the past 96 years.

Factions Join to Restore Shore Wetlands

In an unusual partnership, private investors are teaming with conservation groups to restore wetlands on the Eastern Shore.

The 190-acre property on Skinners Neck near Rock Hall, known since the 1830s as the Spencer Farm, will be preserved by a coalition that includes the Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage, the Maryland Environmental Trust and four private investors.

With development rapidly gobbling up open farmland across the Eastern Shore, conservationists say similar deals may be necessary to augment charitable or government grants or agricultural land preservation programs that typically bar development for 10 to 30 years.

Chesapeake Wildlife plans to restore the land over the next 18 months to three years.

When the restoration is completed, the partnership will sell a permanent easement to the state that will allow two houses to be built on the property. Most of the funding will be from state and federal sources.


Changes Proposed for Test Standards

The Virginia Board of Education released several proposals yesterday for changes in its school standards program, which calls for public schools to lose their accreditation if they do not meet state benchmarks on the Standards of Learning (SOL) exams.

As state officials had indicated previously, the board is proposing to give some leeway to schools that are close to the benchmarks and have made steady progress in their test scores.

Other proposals include awards for schools that help other schools raise their performance on the tests and a reduction in state regulations at schools that reach the test-score targets. The board also proposed to ensure that students from unaccredited schools are not penalized in college admissions.

Board members will meet Sunday night in Richmond to take a preliminary vote on the proposals, then hold public hearings this fall and take a final vote early next year.

Fairfax School Chief Proposes Bonus Plan

Fairfax School Superintendent Daniel A. Domenech released details yesterday of a proposal under which he and his top staff would receive bonuses if schools met certain goals. The School Board in July asked Domenech to develop such a pay-for-performance plan, and it will discuss the proposal Thursday.

Under Domenech's proposal, he and 11 other administrators would get extra pay if they met such goals as increasing the percentage of students enrolled in upper-level courses, closing the achievement gap between white and minority students, increasing the numbers of special education students attending their neighborhood schools and increasing the applicant pool of teachers in critical fields.

If the board agrees with those goals, Domenech will develop precise targets, and the board will vote on them by December.


School Is Nation's First to Use Data Portal

Hine Junior High School became the first school in the country yesterday to use a new information portal that gives administrators instant access to a wide range of testing, demographic, behavior and other student data.

The portal, designed by Columbia-based Sequoia Software Corp., allows school and youth services personnel to tap into a wide range of databases containing student information.

Sequoia officials said it would help educators make faster, better-informed decisions about the youngsters they serve.

Ex-Redskins to Hold Meeting on Center

The Anacostia Coordinating Council will sponsor a community meeting tonight with three former Washington Redskins players to discuss their plans for a youth center at Talbert Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE.

Art Monk, Tim Johnson and Charles Mann, who formed the Good Samaritan Foundation, asked for the meeting to get community input on opening the center.

The meeting will be from 7 to 9 p.m. at Birney Elementary School, 2501 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. SE.


"I've got nine felonies on my record. She thinks she can intimidate me? Well, welcome to the NFL."

-- Watergate burglar, author and radio personality G. Gordon Liddy, who is involved in a property dispute with a neighbor in Fort Washington.