AAMC News and Leadership Announcements, 2012 December 12

The current issue of AAMC News and Leadership Announcements is now available:

The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals on Monday announced that “agreements have been reached to form public-private partnerships involving three LSU hospitals. Interim LSU Hospital and its successor University Medical Center in New Orleans will partner with Louisiana Children’s Medical Center; Leonard J. Chabert Hospital in Houma has reached agreements with Ochsner Health System and Terrebonne General Medical Center; and University Medical Center in Lafayette has formed a partnership with its neighbor, Lafayette General Medical Center.” According to the state’s announcement, “The terms of each of the public-private partnerships announced [Monday] preserve the patient services and graduate medical education programs already in place at the three public hospitals, while providing opportunities for increased access to specialty care and enhanced medical training through work with the partner hospitals.” The partner hospitals will lease the LSU facility and “LSU staff will continue working at these facilities to maintain academic and clinical services, with the partner hospitals assuming responsibility for facility upkeep and operations. Each of the partners will expand their roles in the clinical care, medical research and education programs provided through the LSU hospitals.”

United Health Foundation’s 2012 America’s Health Rankings have been released. According to the report, “Americans are living longer due to several medical advances, but unhealthy behavior and preventable illness threaten quality of life. While premature, cardiovascular and cancer deaths have declined since 1990 by 18.0 percent, 34.6 percent and 7.6 percent, respectively, Americans are experiencing troubling levels of obesity (27.8 percent of the adult population), diabetes (9.5 percent of the adult population), high blood pressure (30.8 percent of the adult population) and sedentary behavior (26.2 percent of the adult population).” The report finds that for the sixth year in a row, “Vermont is the nation’s healthiest state. Hawaii is ranked second, followed by New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Minnesota. The five least healthy states are South Carolina (46), West Virginia (47), Arkansas (48), and Mississippi and Louisiana, which tied for the 49th slot.”

The Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs has awarded accreditation to the National Cancer Institute Central Institutional Review Board — the first National Institutes of Health entity to earn this distinction. The five newly accredited organizations are: Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center-New Orleans, NCI CIRB, National Taiwan University Hospital, and Seoul National University Hospital.

The Center for American Progress has issued a a report, “The High Return on Investment for Publicly Funded Research.” The repot highlights a number of breakthrough innovations that were generated from the federal investment in research. The report concludes, “While we have seen huge and tangible results from our research investments in the past, we are not making the level of investments we need to cultivate innovation in the 21st century. Our national investments in research and development as a percentage of discretionary public spending have fallen from a 17 percent high at the height of the space race in 1962 to about 9 percent today, reflecting a shift in priorities of our government. The biggest decline has taken place in civilian research and development, which has dropped significantly as a proportion of both GDP and federal spending…To ensure that the United States remains a leader in the 21st-century innovation economy, we need to double down on our investments in technology, the enabler of long-term efficiency gains and economic growth, and also change the way we think about the converging fields of science, technology, and business.”

AAMC’s Diversity Policy and Programs cluster has partnered with Cook Ross to adapt a seminar on unconscious bias for health professions audiences. Cook Ross has developed an intensive and dynamic 3-day learning lab which examines how unconscious biases develop, how they influence perceptions and decision making, and their impact on institutional diversity and inclusion efforts. This unique professional development opportunity is aimed at diversity leaders in academic medicine and other professionals in healthcare and biomedical research. The session has been scheduled for January 29-31, 2013.

The Wall Street Journal on Saturday reported that the number of homicides has been falling for two decade, but not because American has become less violent. According to the article, “…more people in the U.S. are getting shot, but doctors have gotten better at patching them up. Improved medical care doesn’t account for the entire decline in homicides but experts say it is a major factor. Emergency-room physicians who treat victims of gunshot and knife attacks say more people survive because of the spread of hospital trauma centers – which specialize in treating severe injuries – the increased use of helicopters to ferry patients, better training of first-responders and lessons gleaned from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan.”

The 52nd Annual Conference on Research in Medical Education (RIME) will be held in conjunction with the 124th Annual Meeting of the AAMC, scheduled for November 1-6, 2013 in Philadelphia, PA. The conference will provide a forum for the presentation and discussion of research concerning all aspects of medical education. Submissions must be received by February 8, 2012 at 11:59pm. Submission guidelines and forms are available on-line. Contact Caroline Ford Coleman (ccoleman@aamc.org) if you have any questions.

The American Chemical Society on Monday issued a new report, “Advancing Graduate Education in the Chemical Sciences,” that proposes changes to ensure “that graduate education serves the needs and aspirations of students and society as a whole.” According to the ACS, “Although the report concluded that the state of graduate education in the chemical sciences is productive and healthy in many respects, it found that the education of doctoral-level scientists has not kept pace with major changes in the global economic, social, and political environment that have occurred since World War II, when the current system of graduate education took shape.”

Researchers at Johns Hopkins’ Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality will “provide scientific guidance to The Leapfrog Group, a national nonprofit known for publishing report cards detailing how hospitals perform in key quality and safety measures.” According to the school, “The Johns Hopkins experts will apply their knowledge and research of health care performance measures to guide the methodology behind the two primary mechanisms Leapfrog uses to assess hospitals: the Leapfrog Hospital Survey and the Hospital Safety Score.”

In an essay posted on the Huffington Post on Wednesday, William T. Talman, MD, Professor of Neurology and Neuroscience, University of Iowa, discussed the value of animal models in research and the advances in human and animal health that have resulted from their judicious use.

Bloomberg on Wednesday distributed an article about a bidding war by California agencies to lure psychiatrists after a federal court forced the state to improve prison inmate care. The prison system and the mental health department ended up bidding against each other “and costs soared.”

The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) on Tuesday announced the appointment of Dr. Margaret L. Kripke to the position of chief scientific officer, where she will be responsible for overseeing the Institute’s Research portfolio. Dr. Kripke retired in 2007 from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center where she was the executive vice president and chief academic officer. While there, she founded the Department of Immunology and was also a professor of immunology. Earlier this week Executive Director Bill Gimson resigned. The Texas attorney general and the Travis County (Austin) district attorney also announced this week that their offices are investigating CPRIT’s approval of an award to a private firm that “bypassed review.”

Dr. Jeffrey Gold, chancellor and executive vice president for biosciences and health affairs, at the University of Toledo, announced on Tuesday that the University of Toledo Medical Center will resume performing live kidney transplants. The transplant program had been suspended this summer after a viable kidney was accidentally discarded.

The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday reported, “Hospitals and public health officials are working to improve safety for mothers in the delivery room following sharp increases in the rate of severe complications from childbirth. Emergencies during delivery, such as cardiac arrest, respiratory distress and kidney failure, increased by 75% in the decade ended 2009, according to a new study by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the days immediately following delivery, severe complications for women more than doubled over the same time period.” According to the article, “A big reason for the increase is the number of pregnant women who are older, obese, or have chronic conditions such as diabetes and kidney disease that put them at higher risk.”

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center has created a new operating division to translate its academic and clinical research and discoveries into marketable products and services that will benefit patients. The new enterprise, Wake Forest Innovations, is being led by Chief Innovation Officer Eric Tomlinson, DSc, and Ph.D, who is also President of the Piedmont Triad Research Park.

Kaiser Health and the Washington Post on Tuesday published a lengthy article on the evaluation of senior physicians. The article reported, “About 42 percent of the nation’s 1 million physicians are older than 55 and 21 percent are older than 65, according to the American Medical Association, up from 35 percent and 18 percent, respectively, in 2006. Their ranks are expected to increase as many work past the traditional retirement age of 65, for reasons both personal and financial…Unlike commercial airline pilots, who by law must undergo regular health screenings starting at age 40 and must retire at 65 – or FBI agents, whose mandatory retirement age is 57 – doctors are subject to no such rules. Nor are any formal evaluations required to ensure the continued competence of physicians, many of whom trained decades ago.” The article reported that one expert estimates that “8,000 doctors with full-blown dementia are practicing medicine.”

Dr. Harry Beaty died on Sunday at the age of 80. Dr. Beaty, an infectious disease specialist, was dean from 1983-1997 of what is now the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. He also was chair of the AAMC Council of Deans (1992-93) and of the AAMC’s Advisory Group on Assessing Change in Medical Education (1990-92). He was an AAMC Distinguished Service Member. Before joining Northwestern, he was chair of medicine at the University of Vermont and on the faculty of the University of Washington for more than a decade.

And finally…in what must be one of the personal highlights of his first term as president, a paper in the new issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports on a recently discovered extinct lizard that has been named Obamadon gracilis, in honor of the 44th and current president of the United States.

Tony Mazzaschi

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