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STAT | Pulse of Longwood

Emmanuel College revives high-rise plan

Emmanuel College.

David L Ryan/Globe staff/file 2000

Emmanuel College.

This story was produced by Stat, a national publication from Boston Globe Media Partners that will launch online this fall with coverage of health, medicine, and life sciences. Learn more and sign up for Stat's morning newsletter at Statnews.com.

Emmanuel College, a once-struggling Catholic school, is floating revamped plans to shoot up into the Longwood skyline with an 18- to 19-story dormitory on Brookline Avenue.

The college wants to raze the four-story dorm known as Julie Hall and build a $110 million, 205-foot-high replacement with room for 650 students, said Sister Anne Donovan, Emmanuel’s treasurer.

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The high-rise concept isn’t new: The city approved a 17-story version in 2012 as part of the college’s 10-year master plan.

Donovan said Emmanuel is now in talks with the Boston Redevelopment Authority about revising that plan, which would require public hearings.

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If city approvals and fund-raising go smoothly, Emmanuel would demolish Julie Hall in May and open the new dormitory in 2018, Donovan said. The building would rise next to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center’s East Campus.

The plans continue an upward trajectory for the liberal arts college, which was facing tough times 15 years ago before going co-ed and leasing an acre of its campus to the pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co. for $50 million. Emmanuel now boasts an enrollment of 1,800 and aims for 2,200 students.

Previous college growth has created friction as student housing crept into the adjacent Mission Hill neighborhood.

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“Communities are always concerned when the colleges expand,” said state Representative Jeffrey Sánchez, who represents the area.

But Donovan said that by adding a net 430 dorm beds, the plan would encourage students now living in nearby neighborhoods to move onto campus.

Donovan acknowledged people might be surprised the once-faltering school is in a position to erect one of the tallest buildings in the Longwood Medical Area.

“I’m amazed myself,” she said.

Mango chicken fever strikes the Brigham

Metabolic technician Lisa West made a batch of banana bread bars at the metabolic test kitchen inside Brigham and Women’s Hospital. The bars came about by accident after a batch of banana bread didn’t rise.

Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

Metabolic technician Lisa West made a batch of banana bread bars at the metabolic test kitchen inside Brigham and Women’s Hospital. The bars came about by accident after a batch of banana bread didn’t rise.

Move over, meatloaf: One of the hottest dishes in Longwood hospital cuisine is mango chicken curry — with no added salt.

The curry sauce is bubbling at the Metabolic Test Kitchen at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, which churns out 7,000 meals a year for studies. A team of eight women carefully designs, cooks, and weighs the food to meet researchers’ needs; they may whip up dishes low in carbs, high in protein, or even 60 percent fat.

The mango chicken recipe goes like this: Saute onions, peppers, and mango with cumin, curry powder, cayenne pepper, and ginger. Throw it in a blender. Pour it over chicken with raisins, coconut milk, and more mango.

The sweet sauce distracts from the truth: The dish has just 50 milligrams of sodium. A restaurant version might clock in at 1,000 mg.

Dietitian Karen Yee devised the recipe in 2011 for a study looking at vascular disease in a Southeast Asian population. It soon caught on with a broad audience of research subjects, said dietitian Leigh Keating, nutrition director for the Brigham’s Center for Clinical Investigation.

Another popular low-salt food came about by accident. An intern was trying to make banana bread with salt-free baking powder. The bread never rose. But it still tasted good — so they renamed it a banana bread “bar.”

The recipes help the kitchen crew produce a tasty menu with just 230 milligrams of sodium per day. That’s a big challenge: There are 150 milligrams in a single piece of bread. Doctors wouldn’t recommend such a low-salt diet long-term. It’s designed to kick up the activity level of the hormone system that regulates blood pressure, just for research.

For the integrity of the study, people who sign up for this research are told to eat all of the prepackaged meals.

Participant Herb Thomas said that was never a problem: “I finished all my stuff.”

His typical comments: “Yum.” And: “More.”

Commuter of the week

Scott Jason got off a Plymouth&Brockton bus in Boston on Friday.

Scott Eisen for The Boston Globe

Scott Jason got off a Plymouth & Brockton bus in Boston on Friday.

Think your trip home from the Cape was a drag? Try doing that every day — for 15 years.

That’s the life of Scott Jason, director of clinical and informational technology at Harvard’s dental school, who has earned a reputation around Longwood for having one of the craziest commutes.

Every weekday, Jason wakes up at 4:45 a.m. in Yarmouth, about halfway down the “bicep” of Cape Cod. He drives to Barnstable in time to hop on a 5:25 a.m. Plymouth & Brockton bus. He jumps off near the Arlington MBTA stop, takes the Green Line to Brigham Circle, and walks one long block to work.

On a good day, the trip takes two hours in the morning and three at night. On a bad day, it can take four hours, Jason said: “I can almost fly to Florida in that amount of time.”

In winter, Jason sometimes doesn’t make it home at all. He has learned to adapt: He bought a leather reclining chair for his office, which he uses as a bed. And he has stocked his office with emergency food, including a case of 96 Nature’s Valley Oats ‘n Honey granola bars.

Jason has slogged through this 80-mile commute for a remarkable 15 years.

“It’s starting to get a little harder,” he said. “Just wear and tear on the body, on my mind.”

Though he calls his commute “nuts,” Jason said he doesn’t want to give up the job he loves.

So why not move closer?

“I’ve been on the Cape since I was 3,” said Jason, who’s now 47. He wants his two kids to grow up there, too. And he lives just a mile from the beach.

“It’s great to come home to,” he said, “when I can get there.”

Partners extends an olive branch

Massachusetts General Hospital may be working hard to poach pediatric patients from its crosstown rival, Boston Children’s Hospital. But there’s apparently room for some magnanimity, as well.

Partners HealthCare System, a network of 10 hospitals including MGH, is making a point of honoring its competitors in full-page ads in The Boston Globe, Boston Herald, and Boston Business Journal. The ads celebrate the latest US News & World Report rankings, which place Partners’ two flagship hospitals, Mass. General and Brigham & Women’s, in first and sixth place, respectively, in the country.

The ads also praise local hospitals outside the Partners network, including Children’s, which was rated the top pediatric hospital in the nation by the magazine.

Melissa Bailey can be reached at melissa.bailey@statnews.com. Follow her on Twitter @mmbaily. Follow STAT on Twitter @statnews.
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