AAMC News and Leadership Announcements, 2012 October 13

The current issue of AAMC News and Leadership Announcements includes the following stories that may be of particular interest at City of Hope:

NIH on Thursday issued a notice about how it will operation under the Continuing Resolution (CR) that was signed by President Obama on September 28. The CR continues government operations through March 27, 2013 at the FY 2012 level plus 0.6 percent. According to the notice, “Until FY 2013 appropriations are enacted, NIH will issue non-competing research grant awards at a level below that indicated on the most recent Notice of Award (generally up to 90% of the previously committed level). This is consistent with our practice during the CRs of FY 2006 – 2012. Upward adjustments to awarded levels will be considered after our FY 2013 appropriations are enacted but NIH expects institutions to monitor their expenditures carefully during this period. All legislative mandates that were in effect in FY 2012 remain in effect under the CR, including the salary limitation set at Executive Level II of the Federal Pay Scale ($179,700), which was effective with grant awards with an initial Issue Date on or after December 23, 2011.” Questions regarding adjustments applied to individual grant awards should be directed to the Grants Management Specialist identified on the Notice of Award.
http://tinyurl.com/8nj3jrz

Plaintiffs seeking to stop the National Institutes of Health (NIH) from funding embryonic stem cell (hESC) research filed an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court on October 11. The plaintiffs, led by James Sherley, M.D., Ph.D., of the Boston Biomedical Research Institute and represented by an anti-abortion legal group, contend that the NIH Stem Cell Guidelines violate the so-called Dickey-Wicker provision contained in the annual NIH appropriations bill that bans federal funding of embryo research. They also contend that the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) was violated when the NIH Guidelines were issued. A panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the plaintiff’s claims in August, as did a lower court last year. The plaintiffs are asking the Supreme Court to consider two procedural issues, one involving the APA and focused on whether the executive order issued by President Obama on hESC research obviated NIH’s need to consider comments from those totally opposing such research. A second issue raised by the plaintiffs concerns whether an earlier Court of Appeals decision rejecting the Dickey-Wicker claim in the context of a preliminary injunction motion should be granted deference.
http://tinyurl.com/9nmbgdn

The full list of announcements is below.

—–

Dr. Hal Jenson, the founding dean of the Western Michigan University School of Medicine, announced on Friday that the school has received preliminary accreditation from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education. The school plans to admit its first class in August 2014. The school is a collaboration between WSU and Kalamazoo’s two teaching hospitals, Borgess Medical Center and Bronson Methodist Hospital. Dr. Jenson’s announcement came at a groundbreaking ceremony celebrating the beginning of a $68 million renovation of a former Pfizer and MPI Research building in downtown Kalamazoo that will serve as the school’s home.
http://med.wmich.edu/node/1443
http://tinyurl.com/8fzxugu

Dr. Steven T. DeKosky, vice president and dean of the University of Virginia School of Medicine, has announced that he will step down at the conclusion of his five-year term on July 31. An authority on Alzheimer’s disease, he will remain on the faculty in the Department of Neurology to continue his research and patient care activities. Dr. DeKosky served as professor and chairman of the Department of Neurology and director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at the University of Pittsburgh before joining the University of Virginia.
http://tinyurl.com/9gsw2l9

An article in Saturday’s New York Times reported on the hard landing faced by many university endowment funds. According to the article, “…data compiled by the National Association of College and University Business Officers for the 2011 fiscal year (the most recent available) show that large, medium and small endowments all underperformed a simple mix of 60 percent stocks and 40 percent bonds over one-, three- and five-year periods. The 91 percent of endowments with less than $1 billion in assets underperformed in every time period since records have been maintained. Given the weak results being reported this year, that underperformance is likely to be even more pronounced when the fiscal year 2012 results are included. The impact is significant. Universities depend on returns on their endowments to finance operations, pay faculty and administrative salaries, provide scholarships and pay for building projects.”
http://tinyurl.com/9m7tbqd

The Houston Chronicle on Thursday reported, “Half of the principal scientific reviewers at the state’s $3 billion cancer initiative resigned this week, citing continued concerns about the integrity of its grant procedures. Phillip Sharp, chairman of the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas’ scientific review committee, and three more of the committee’s eight members resigned. Dr. Alfred Gilman, the chief scientific officer, announced in May that he would resign effective Friday.” The Cancer Letter and the Associated Press on Friday reported that seven of the eight CPRIT reviewers have now resigned, with the eighth and final member expected to do so shortly.
http://tinyurl.com/9ceqhfo
http://tinyurl.com/8mfdf93

NIH on Thursday issued a notice about how it will operation under the Continuing Resolution (CR) that was signed by President Obama on September 28. The CR continues government operations through March 27, 2013 at the FY 2012 level plus 0.6 percent. According to the notice, “Until FY 2013 appropriations are enacted, NIH will issue non-competing research grant awards at a level below that indicated on the most recent Notice of Award (generally up to 90% of the previously committed level). This is consistent with our practice during the CRs of FY 2006 – 2012. Upward adjustments to awarded levels will be considered after our FY 2013 appropriations are enacted but NIH expects institutions to monitor their expenditures carefully during this period. All legislative mandates that were in effect in FY 2012 remain in effect under the CR, including the salary limitation set at Executive Level II of the Federal Pay Scale ($179,700), which was effective with grant awards with an initial Issue Date on or after December 23, 2011.” Questions regarding adjustments applied to individual grant awards should be directed to the Grants Management Specialist identified on the Notice of Award.
http://tinyurl.com/8nj3jrz

An Institute of Medicine panel is being formed to review of the Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) Program at the NIH’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences. The panel will first meet on October 29th according to the IOM web page. Alan I. Leshner, Ph.D., CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and Executive Publisher of its journal, Science, will chair the panel.
http://tinyurl.com/8r7wwrg

Plaintiffs seeking to stop the National Institutes of Health (NIH) from funding embryonic stem cell (hESC) research filed an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court on October 11. The plaintiffs, led by James Sherley, M.D., Ph.D., of the Boston Biomedical Research Institute and represented by an anti-abortion legal group, contend that the NIH Stem Cell Guidelines violate the so-called Dickey-Wicker provision contained in the annual NIH appropriations bill that bans federal funding of embryo research. They also contend that the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) was violated when the NIH Guidelines were issued. A panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the plaintiff’s claims in August, as did a lower court last year. The plaintiffs are asking the Supreme Court to consider two procedural issues, one involving the APA and focused on whether the executive order issued by President Obama on hESC research obviated NIH’s need to consider comments from those totally opposing such research. A second issue raised by the plaintiffs concerns whether an earlier Court of Appeals decision rejecting the Dickey-Wicker claim in the context of a preliminary injunction motion should be granted deference.
http://tinyurl.com/9nmbgdn

The Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues on Wednesday released its report concerning genomics and privacy. The report, Privacy and Progress in Whole Genome Sequencing, concludes that “to realize the enormous promise that whole genome sequencing holds for advancing clinical care and the greater public good, individual interests in privacy must be respected and secured. As the scientific community works to bring the cost of whole genome sequencing down from millions per test to less than the cost of many standard diagnostic tests today, the Commission recognizes that whole genome sequencing and its increased use in research and the clinic could yield major advances in health care. However it could also raise ethical dilemmas. The Commission offers a dozen timely proactive recommendations that will help craft policies that are flexible enough to ensure progress and responsive enough to protect privacy.”
http://bioethics.gov/cms/node/765
http://www.bioethics.gov/cms/node/764

As reported earlier, the HHS and APHIS published regulatory changes to the select agent and toxin rules in the October 5 Federal Register. Our colleagues at the American Society of Microbiologists have posted a summary of the regulatory changes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will hold a 2012 Select Agent Workshop, which will be broadcasted via webcast-only, on Friday, November 16 from 9:00 am to 5:00 p.m (EST). All who wish to participate in the free webcast must register for the workshop.
http://www.selectagents.gov/
http://tinyurl.com/8n2aoms

Claire Pomeroy, MD, MBA, vice chancellor for human health sciences and dean of the School of Medicine at the University of California, Davis, wrote an essay posted this week by Becker’s Hospital Review, entitled, “A National Call to Action to Bring LGBT Health Disparities Out of the Closet!” Dr. Pomeroy concluded her essay, “Every American has the fundamental right to know that healthcare will be provided without judgment or discrimination. As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, ‘Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in healthcare is the most shocking and inhumane.’ National Coming Out Day is our opportunity to raise our voices together to proclaim that healthcare disparities experienced by the LGBT community are unacceptable and that we commit to creating a health-care system that ensures better health for all.” Dr. Pomeroy chairs the AAMC Council of Deans.
http://tinyurl.com/8cukfyv

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) on Thursday “announced new measures to further advance its commitment towards greater openness, transparency and collaboration.” Specifically, Glaxo announced: 1) its tuberculosis ‘compound library’ will be made available to help stimulate research into TB; investment in GSK’s Tres Cantos Open Lab will be doubled with an additional $8 million funding awarded; and, 3) detailed data from GSK clinical trials will be made available to researchers to further scientific understanding and knowledge.
http://tinyurl.com/8v4y6w3

Executives of Highmark and West Penn Allegheny Health System exchanged public correspondence on Friday concerning their now defunct proposed affiliation agreement. It is difficult to discern whether their is any spark left in this long-running courtship saga.
http://tinyurl.com/92jcyuc

An article in Saturday’s Austin Statesman-American newspaper discussed the pending county ballot initiative that would raise property taxes to fund a medical school in Autin and a new teaching hospital to replace University Medical Center Brackenridge.  According to the article, “Taxpayers in other Texas communities have helped finance medical schools and teaching hospitals through various means, but the proposal by Central Health, Travis County’s hospital district, differs in two important ways. One, voters must first approve a 63 percent increase in their property taxes for health care, going from 7.89 cents to 12.9 cents per $100 of assessed value. No other medical school in Texas has hinged on raising local property taxes. Two, a specific amount of the estimated $54 million a year in new tax revenue — $35 million – would be permanently earmarked for services provided to needy patients by the medical school’s faculty and residents, who are physicians in training.”  The vote is on November 6th.  Austin is now the 13th largest city in the US.
http://tinyurl.com/8lw4sae

Marketwatch, a product of the Wall Street Journal, on Friday featured a rather negative column titled, “10 things medical schools won’t tell you.”
http://tinyurl.com/8p49m4d

Terry Wolpaw, M.D., will join Penn State College of Medicine as vice dean for educational affairs, effective January 28, 2013. In this role, Dr. Wolpaw will oversee the offices of student affairs and admissions, undergraduate medical education, graduate medical education, and academic affiliations. In addition, she will provide oversight of continuing medical education, the office for diversity, the office of global health, the clinical simulation center, the George T. Harrell Health Sciences Library, and the office of medical education research. Dr. Wolpaw comes to Penn State from Case Western University School of Medicine, where she is associate dean for curricular affairs and professor of medicine, as well as interim director of Case Western’s Center for Medical Education.
http://tinyurl.com/8nkgntu

Dr. Susan Murin has been named chief of the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine and the Gordon A. Wong Professor in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at UC Davis. She succeeds Dr. Timothy Albertson, who led the division for 23 years and recently became chair of the UC Davis Department of Internal Medicine.
http://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/publish/news/newsroom/7042

Laura Goetzl, MD, MPH, has been appointed Professor and Vice Chair of Research in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Temple University School of Medicine and an attending physician who will practice high-risk obstetrics and prenatal diagnosis at Temple University Hospital. She will also serve on Temple’s Institutional Review Board. Dr. Goetzl comes to Temple from the Medical University of South Carolina where she was an Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Medical Director of Labor and Delivery, and Director of OB Quality.

And finally (1)…The new issue of Newsweek features a cover story, “Heaven Is Real: A Doctor’s Experience With the Afterlife,” with a subhead, “When a neurosurgeon found himself in a coma, he experienced things he never thought possible—a journey to the afterlife.” The article is an excerpt from a new book by Eben Alexander III, M.D., titled, “Proof of Heaven.” According to Simon and Shuster, Dr. Alexander “has been an academic neurosurgeon for the last 25 years, including 15 years at the Brigham & Women’s and the Children’s Hospitals and Harvard Medical School in Boston.” He currently practices with a private neurosurgical group in Lynchburg, Va.
http://tinyurl.com/962djlf

And finally (2)…In a note published in this week’s issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, a study concludes, “The principal finding of this study is a surprisingly powerful correlation between chocolate intake per capita and the number of Nobel laureates in various countries.”
http://ht.ly/eoFId

Tony Mazzaschi
AAMC

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