OLLI Founders' Day lecture features speakers on stem cell transplants

Stem cell transplantation could save your life or the life of a loved one. Learn more about this controversial yet highly-successful treatment during the Osher Lifelong Learner Institute’s (OLLI) 2014 Founders’ Day Lecture and Luncheon, featuring two experts in the field. The program is set for 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 26, in the Conference Center at Penn State York. Tickets are on sale now at $30 for OLLI members, $35 for nonmembers or $180 for a table of six. For tickets call 717-771-4015 or email OLLI at olli@yk.psu.edu.  Deadline for purchase is Sept. 19.

Dr. Christopher Ehmann, specializing in hematology and oncology stem cell transplantation at the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Cancer Institute, and Robert Farrell, molecular biologist and director of academic affairs at Penn State York, will discuss their experiences and research concerning stem cell transplantation in a presentation titled “Researcher and Practitioner: Stem Cells Now and in Our Future.”  
 
“Stem cell research and practice is a rapidly changing field and OLLI members felt it was important to learn more about this treatment that is being used more commonly for cancer and other serious diseases,” said Beth Gill-MacDonald, OLLI member and chairwoman of the Founders’ Day Committee. “Health is on everyone’s mind and our members are interested in gaining more knowledge about new and alternative treatment options that could possibly save their lives.”

Ehmann is a professor of medicine and the associate chief for clinical affairs, division of hematology and oncology at the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. He earned an undergraduate degree in medicine from Drew University in Madison, N.J., and his doctorate of medicine from Albany Medical College, Albany, N.Y.

Farrell is the chief academic officer at York campus and has a special interest in RNA biology. Farrell is a graduate of The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C., with both a doctorate in cell and molecular biology and a master of science degree in cell biology. He also holds a bachelor of science in biology from Providence College, Providence, R.I.

Both men will discuss a variety of topics and discuss how stem cell transplants are effective treatment for a wide range of diseases, including cancer.

The Founders’ Day event honors the work of OLLI founders Charmaine Kissinger, Olive Padden and the late Gussie Petron, three women who were bored and ready to make more of their retirement. Their mantra of “curiosity never retires” and their thirst for knowledge and mental stimulation, led them to gather volunteers and OLLI was born in August 2007 with the first courses offered in April 2008. The group has grown from a handful of people to more than 500 members.

OLLI is a nonprofit, volunteer driven organization established to enrich the lives of mature adults living in York County by providing a variety of educational and social enrichment activities. OLLI at Penn State York is one of more than 100 lifelong learning institutes across the nation that is supported by a grant from the Bernard Osher Foundation. The grant was made available locally though Penn State at University Park, which also has an OLLI program.

A chance meeting of the trio, who called themselves a cog (Charmaine, Olive, Gussie) in the wheel of learning at the Jacobus Library, was the beginning of what would later become OLLI. They began talking about what could be done to provide adult learners with educational opportunities and more. The idea of offering courses of interest during the day for adult learners without the stress of tests, requirements and official textbooks appealed to them.

The group met with then continuing education representatives at Penn State York, Bea Landis and Beth Gill-MacDonald, and things began to fall into place. York contacted the University and thanks to some quick hard work, York was named one of the University’s OLLI sites. Since that time, through the efforts of volunteers, OLLI has developed committees, offered courses, has a website and a newsletter. Penn State York’s OLLI group has a home in Room 40, Main Classroom Building, at the campus. The organization has continued to grow, offering a variety of daytime courses, bus trips, walking tours and other exciting activities.
 
To cover costs, OLLI requires members to pay a $50 yearly membership fee that covers two semesters and a fee for each course taken based on the course length. OLLI courses are taught by volunteers, who want to share their expertise and talents, including college faculty members, hobbyists, artists, schoolteachers and practicing professionals. The classes are offered during the day in a variety of formats, with most meeting on the Penn State York campus.  

Course topics range from culture, literature, history and nature to politics, science, religion, healthy nutrition and travel. There is also a Knitting Club and social events planned throughout the year.

Since OLLI is a volunteer organization, the group is looking for individuals who want to be a part of a group that enjoys learning and loves to have fun. OLLI members can choose from a variety of volunteer opportunities and participation is flexible, allowing members to contribute as their schedules permit.

Call 717-771-4015 or email olli@yk.psu.edu to receive registration and activity information. Visit the Website at http://olli.yk.psu.edu to discover how you can be a part of OLLI at Penn State York and never stop learning.

Last Updated August 28, 2014