AAMC News and Leadership Announcements, 2012 Aug 14

Here are the highlights from the August 14 edition of the AAMC News and Leadership Announcements:

An article in Sunday’s New York Times explored the motivations of people in Oregon and Washington who have utilized the states’ Death With Dignity (or assisted suicide) laws. According to the article, “Washington followed Oregon in allowing terminally ill patients to get a prescription for drugs that will hasten death. Critics of such laws feared that poor people would be pressured to kill themselves because they or their families could not afford end-of-life care. But the demographics of patients who have gotten the prescriptions are surprisingly different than expected, according to data collected by Oregon and Washington through 2011…They are overwhelmingly white, well educated and financially comfortable. And they are making the choice not because they are in pain but because they want to have the same control over their deaths that they have had over their lives.”
http://tinyurl.com/9xztckh

An architectural review of Columbia University Medical Center’s planned medical and education building appeared in Sunday’s Washington Post. The reviewer wrote, “To have human interaction shape a building is an extraordinary departure from the standard considerations that affect health-care architecture, namely technology, insurance reimbursements — even the distances between nurse stations and patient rooms. The medical-education building focuses on collaboration and problem solving that unites many disciplines from all four medical-education programs: physicians and surgeons; nursing; dental medicine; and public health.” The reviewer concludes, “If appealing collaborative spaces work for medical education, think what they could do for patient care.”
http://tinyurl.com/bte785v

The NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research is sponsoring a webinar on September 11 from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. ET, on “Integrating Economic Analysis Into NIH Funded Research.”
http://tinyurl.com/9p59a4b

The new issue of The Economist discussed how new computer programs are giving new life to old medicines. The article reported on some interesting “proof of principle” work that indicates that drug repurposing using initial computer analysis of molecular shapes is feasible.
http://www.economist.com/node/21560236

And finally…An article in the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday discussed the importance of suffixes in medicine and science. The article starts, “In the beginning, there was the genome. Then came the foldome, the phenome and the connectome, quickly followed by the secretome, the otherome and the unknome. Over the past decade, a linguistic trickle swelled into a flood of buzzwords tagged with the curiously resonant suffix ‘ome.’ Today, hundreds of ‘omic’ terms have worked their way into the lexicon, coined mostly by scientists intent on creating new sub-specialties. ‘It sounds futuristic. It sounds computational,’ said medical geneticist Robert C. Green at Harvard Medical School, who studies what he and his colleagues call the incidentalome—the realm of all incidental medical findings. ‘When you use the term ‘omics,’ it signals you are a new paradigm guy.’ ” The article further reports, “Some scientists roll their eyes at this speedily spreading suffix. ‘It’s a language parasite,’ said evolutionary biologist Jonathan Eisen at the University of California, Davis. They have even coined a word for their antipathy—the antiome.”
http://tinyurl.com/8hy7fts

The complete list of announcements is below.

—–

The AAMC, along with 29 other health education and professional organizations, filed an amicus brief on Tuesday in support of the University of Texas at Austin in the Fisher v. UT, Austin case that is being considered by the Supreme Court.  According to the Court, the case revolves around “Whether [the Supreme] Court’s decisions interpreting the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, including Grutter v. Bollinger, permit the University of Texas at Austin’s use of race in undergraduate admissions decisions.” Oral arguments are scheduled for Oct. 12.
https://www.aamc.org/download/301646/data/fisheramicusbrief.pdf

An article in Sunday’s New York Times explored the motivations of people in Oregon and Washington who have utilized the states’ Death With Dignity (or assisted suicide) laws. According to the article, “Washington followed Oregon in allowing terminally ill patients to get a prescription for drugs that will hasten death. Critics of such laws feared that poor people would be pressured to kill themselves because they or their families could not afford end-of-life care. But the demographics of patients who have gotten the prescriptions are surprisingly different than expected, according to data collected by Oregon and Washington through 2011…They are overwhelmingly white, well educated and financially comfortable. And they are making the choice not because they are in pain but because they want to have the same control over their deaths that they have had over their lives.”
http://tinyurl.com/9xztckh

The New York Daily News reported on Monday that, “More than 1,000 people are slated to be laid off at financially-troubled SUNY Downstate Medical Center in the next year — with hundreds now getting word they’re being axed.”
http://tinyurl.com/8zk2qla

The New York Times late Tuesday reported, “During the Great Recession, when many hospitals across the country were nearly brought to their knees by growing numbers of uninsured patients, one hospital system not only survived — it thrived. In fact, profits at the health care industry giant HCA, which controls 163 hospitals from New Hampshire to California, have soared, far outpacing those of most of its competitors. The big winners have been three private equity firms…”  The article further reports, “Among the secrets to HCA’s success: It figured out how to get more revenue from private insurance companies, patients and Medicare by billing much more aggressively for its services than ever before; it found ways to reduce emergency room overcrowding and expenses; and it experimented with ways to reduce the cost of medical staff, a move that sometimes led to conflicts with doctors and nurses over concerns about patient care.”  The article will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.
http://tinyurl.com/947sgx9

Science reported this week that the NIH has responded to Senator Charles Grassley who asked NIH various questions related to the recent award of a 5-year, $401,675-a-year grant to Dr. Charles Nemeroff to study posttraumatic stress disorder. Dr. Nemeroff, formerly at Emory, is now chair of the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences at the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine.
http://tinyurl.com/8lohmwd

An architectural review of Columbia University Medical Center’s planned medical and education building appeared in Sunday’s Washington Post. The reviewer wrote, “To have human interaction shape a building is an extraordinary departure from the standard considerations that affect health-care architecture, namely technology, insurance reimbursements — even the distances between nurse stations and patient rooms. The medical-education building focuses on collaboration and problem solving that unites many disciplines from all four medical-education programs: physicians and surgeons; nursing; dental medicine; and public health.” The reviewer concludes, “If appealing collaborative spaces work for medical education, think what they could do for patient care.”
http://tinyurl.com/bte785v

Saturday’s New York Times featured four letters in response to the story last Tuesday concerning alleged unneeded heart treatments at some HCA hospitals. Dr, Christine Cassel of the ABIM wrote, “Left unsaid in your article is that many of the frameworks for evaluating quality in hospitals do not include whether the procedures being evaluated were actually needed or if the initial diagnosis that led to the procedure was correct; most just assess whether the procedure was done correctly or resulted in complications or readmissions. The article underscores that doctors’ diagnostic acumen, clinical reasoning and decision-making skills, scientifically accurate information about the appropriateness of given procedures, and a commitment to the highest ethical standards are the essential ingredients for quality. Without these, it doesn’t matter what structures, systems or payment incentives are in place.”
http://tinyurl.com/c8n7779

The cover story of Sunday’s Washington Post Magazine was titled “Daniel Amen: Pioneer or profiteer?” The subhead stated, “Psychiatrist Daniel Amen uses brain scans to help diagnose mental illness. Most peers say that’s bonkers.”
http://tinyurl.com/9hzqcrs

The NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research is sponsoring a webinar on September 11 from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. ET, on “Integrating Economic Analysis Into NIH Funded Research.”
http://tinyurl.com/9p59a4b

The Boston Globe on Tuesday reported, “An independent panel of scientists and veterinarians enlisted by Harvard Medical School to review its troubled primate research facility in Southborough [the New England Primate Research Center] is recommending that new leadership positions be created and a committee be formed to assure animal safety and foster closer ties with the main medical school.”  The Globe further reported, “In a statement, Dr. Jeffrey S. Flier, dean of the medical school, said Harvard accepted the recommendations.”
http://tinyurl.com/95gbfc5

An essay in the Review section of Sunday’s New York Times discussed the ‘nocebo” effect, which is described as “When a patient anticipates a pill’s possible side effects, he can suffer them even if the pill is fake. This ‘nocebo’ effect has been largely overlooked by researchers, clinicians and patients. In an article recently published in the journal Deutsche Ärzteblatt International, [Paul Enck, Winfried Häuser – the essay authors and colleague Ernil Hansen] reviewed 31 studies, conducted by us and other researchers, that demonstrated the nocebo effect. We urge doctors and nurses to be more mindful of its dangers, particularly when informing patients about a treatment’s potential complications.”
http://tinyurl.com/8q2e7gx
http://tinyurl.com/9kbw6fc (source paper)

The new issue of The Economist discussed how new computer programs are giving new life to old medicines. The article reported on some interesting “proof of principle” work that indicates that drug repurposing using initial computer analysis of molecular shapes is feasible.
http://www.economist.com/node/21560236

A recent Cleveland Plain Dealer story on a pilot program conducted by University Hospitals reported that physical and operational changes to reduce noise produced dramatic results and improved patient satisfaction scores. The article highlighted similar initiatives at other institutions.
http://tinyurl.com/bux6cfv

Mark Cichon, DO, has been named chair of the new Department of Emergency Medicine of Loyola University Medical Center. Dr. Cichon formerly was head of the division of Emergency Medicine within the Department of Surgery at Loyola. As of July 1, the division was elevated to department status.
http://tinyurl.com/8mf6glh

John N. Kastanis, FACHE, has been appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of Temple University Hospital, effective immediately. Mr. Kastanis has served as Interim CEO of Temple University Hospital since December 19, 2011.
http://tinyurl.com/9zsbovg

Indiana University Health has named William F. McConnell, Jr., senior vice president and chief information officer of IU Health. Mr. McConnell was president and CEO of an Indianapolis start-up company, FlowCo, Inc.
http://tinyurl.com/9r9yg65

Elizabeth Flury has been named Chief Strategy Officer for Children’s National Medical Center, effective September 1st. This is a newly created position. Ms. Flury comes to Children’s National from the Johns Hopkins Health System, where she served as the Senior Director, Health Care Transformation and Strategic Planning. Before joining Johns Hopkins, Ms. Flury worked at KPMG, where she provided national leadership to KPMG’s Health Care Strategy and Governance Practice, and ran her own healthcare consulting firm for a time.
http://tinyurl.com/8nblzuq

Also at Children’s National Medical Center, Timothy Kane, MD, has been named Chief of the Division of General and Thoracic Surgery. Dr. Kane has been at Children’s National since August of 2010.
http://tinyurl.com/8zrx5hu

Zeljko Vujaskovic, M.D., Ph.D., has been named director of the new Division of Translational Radiation Sciences in the Department of Radiation Oncology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Dr. Vujaskovic joined the University of Maryland from his previous position as professor, Director of the Normal Tissue Injury Laboratory and Director of the Clinical Hyperthermia Program at Duke University Medical Center.
http://somvweb.som.umaryland.edu/absolutenm/templates/?a=2012&z=41

David Schwartz, M.D., FACOG, has been named director of Clinical Affairs Programs at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Dr. Schwartz most recently was Chairman and Chief of Service of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Director of residency education at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore.
http://tinyurl.com/9arlpjq

Xiao-Li Meng, PhD ’90, the Whipple V. N. Jones Professor and the chair of the Department of Statistics, has been named dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS), effective August 15, 2012.  In addition to offering numerous graduate degrees in the life sciences, GSAS also jointly sponsors the MD/Ph.D. program with Harvard Medical School.
http://www.gsas.harvard.edu/news/xiao-li-meng-named-gsas-dean.php

And finally…An article in the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday discussed the importance of suffixes in medicine and science. The article starts, “In the beginning, there was the genome. Then came the foldome, the phenome and the connectome, quickly followed by the secretome, the otherome and the unknome. Over the past decade, a linguistic trickle swelled into a flood of buzzwords tagged with the curiously resonant suffix ‘ome.’ Today, hundreds of ‘omic’ terms have worked their way into the lexicon, coined mostly by scientists intent on creating new sub-specialties. ‘It sounds futuristic. It sounds computational,’ said medical geneticist Robert C. Green at Harvard Medical School, who studies what he and his colleagues call the incidentalome—the realm of all incidental medical findings. ‘When you use the term ‘omics,’ it signals you are a new paradigm guy.’ ” The article further reports, “Some scientists roll their eyes at this speedily spreading suffix. ‘It’s a language parasite,’ said evolutionary biologist Jonathan Eisen at the University of California, Davis. They have even coined a word for their antipathy—the antiome.”
http://tinyurl.com/8hy7fts

Tony Mazzaschi
AAMC

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