December 10, 2001 Vol. VI, No. 8

Rheem Medh, left, and Jheem Medh joined the Northridge faculty this fall.

College of Science and Math Welcomes Twin Professors

Rheem Medh in Biology and Jheem Medh in Chemistry Bear More Than Just Physical Resemblance

For only the second time in campus history, Cal State Northridge has identical twins working at the same time as faculty members. Rheem Medh, an assistant professor of biology, and Jheem Medh, an assistant professor of chemistry, joined the university community at the start of the fall 2001 semester.

Rheem teaches general and human genetics classes to upper-division undergraduate and graduate students in the genetic counseling program. Her research interests include understanding cell death, what leads to cell death and how genes are involved in the process. Understanding cell death is essential to dealing with drug and therapy responses to neuro-degenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease, autoimmune disorders and cancers.

Jheem teaches two upper-division biochemistry lecture classes and one biochemistry lab class to dietetics majors. She also conducts research on the effects of high-level, low-density lipoprotein and low-level, high-density lipoprotein on cardiovascular diseases.

The twins, age 40, also earned their Ph.D.s together from the University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston in 1990, Rheem in biology and Jheem in chemistry.

Before coming to Cal State Northridge, the Medh sisters, who were born in India, had been teaching in undergraduate and professional programs for the past eight years.

Rheem taught graduate workshops in genetics to medical students at the University of Texas at Galveston, while Jheem was responsible for small group laboratory classes in biochemistry for undergraduates at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. Thus in recent years, the two had been living and working in different states.

"We lived quite far from each other and were looking for colleges and universities in California," Rheem said.

"We researched larger universities on the web because we wanted to live in the same place. But we didn't dream of landing at the same campus," Jheem said.

The twins describe their sisterly relationship as very trusting and understanding. "My sister is not just a sibling, but also a best friend," Rheem said. They share almost everything and have the same outside hobbies and interests-traveling and painting.

Jheem said the large size of the Northridge campus probably has helped avoid the problem of students and faculty members getting the twins confused. "We work in different buildings and most students don't know yet that we are twins," she said.

Both professors are enthusiastic about their futures at Cal State Northridge and are looking forward to conducting research after they set up their laboratories. "Everyone on campus is nice and friendly and is going the extra mile to make us comfortable and feel at home," the twins said.

Northridge's only prior faculty twins, campus officials said, were Richard and Robert Docter, both now retired. Richard, a psychology professor, taught at Northridge from 1966 to 2001, while Robert, an educational psychology professor, taught here from 1960 to 1996.

@csun | December 10, 2001 issue
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