The current issue of AAMC News and Leadership Announcements is now available:
A National Research Council and Institute of Medicine panel has found that on average, “Americans die sooner and experience higher rates of disease and injury than people in other high-income countries.” The panel also found “that this health disadvantage exists at all ages from birth to age 75 and that even advantaged Americans — those who have health insurance, college educations, higher incomes, and healthy behaviors — appear to be sicker than their peers in other rich nations.” The panel was chaired by Dr. Steven H. Woolf, professor of family medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University.
It was announced on Friday that Nancy-Ann DeParle, J.D., Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief of Staff, will join the Brookings Institution as a guest scholar in Economic Studies on January 28. Ms. DeParle helped craft the Affordable Care Act in 2010, as then Counselor to the President and Director of the White House Office of Health Reform. She also served in the Clinton administration as Administrator of the Health Care Financing Administration (now the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)). Before joining HHS, she was Associate Director for Health and Personnel at the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
CMS on Thursday announced that it has issued 106 new Accountable Care Organization (ACO) contracts. CMS says that since passage of the Affordable Care Act, more than 250 Accountable Care Organizations have been established.
Dr. Mark D. Smith, president and chief executive officer of the California HealthCare Foundation since its formation in 1996, has announced his plans to step down at the end of the year.
The New York Times reported on Saturday, “In a bold experiment in performance pay, complaints from patients at New York City’s public hospitals and other measures of their care — like how long before they are discharged and how they fare afterward — will be reflected in doctors’ paychecks under a plan being negotiated by the physicians and their hospitals.” The article further reported, “The proposal represents a broad national push away from the traditional model of rewarding doctors for the volume of services they order, a system that has been criticized for promoting unnecessary treatment. In the wake of changes laid out in the Affordable Care Act, public and private hospitals are already preparing to have their income tied partly to patient outcomes and cost containment, but the city’s plan extends that financial incentive to the front line, the doctors directly responsible for treatment. It also shows how the new law could change longstanding relationships, giving more power to some of the poorest and most vulnerable patients over doctors who run their care.”
New York City officials have announced that “Some of the most common and most powerful prescription painkillers on the market will be restricted sharply in the emergency rooms at New York City’s 11 public hospitals.” According to a New York Times report, “Under the new city policy, most public hospital patients will no longer be able to get more than three days’ worth of narcotic painkillers like Vicodin and Percocet. Long-acting painkillers, including OxyContin, a familiar remedy for chronic backache and arthritis, as well as Fentanyl patches and methadone, will not be dispensed at all. And lost, stolen or destroyed prescriptions will not be refilled.”
In the wake of the recent shootings in Connecticut, the AAMC joined 51 other medical associations in a Jan. 8 letter sent to President Obama and House and Senate leaders urging “the nation to strengthen its commitment and resources to comprehensive access to mental health services, including screening, prevention, and treatment.” The letter talks about the importance of providing sufficient access to mental health services, notes that physicians need to have frank discussions with their patients and parents of patients about firearm safety issues, and asks for funding for increased research on violence prevention.
NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., on Thursday announced plans to recruit a new senior scientific position, the Associate Director for Data Science. The associate director “will lead a series of NIH-wide strategic initiatives that collectively aim to capitalize on the exponential growth of biomedical research data, such as from genomics, imaging, and electronic health records.” A working group of the Advisory Committee to the NIH Director (ACD) that examined data and informatics challenges associated with biomedical research recommended that the position be created. Dr. Collins announced that Eric Green, M.D., Ph.D., will serve as the Acting Associate Director for Data Science during the search. Dr. Green directs the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI).
Dr. Collins also announced on Thursday the recruitment for a new senior scientific position, the Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity. The position was recommended by the ACD working group on diversity in the biomedical research workforce. Dr. Roderic Pettigrew will serve as the Acting Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity during the search. Dr. Pettigrew is the director of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB).
The Associated Press on Sunday reported on agreements between academic medical centers and industry. The article reports that “Now the two sides are often joining forces as equals.” The article details various evolving partnerships.
A commentary in Sunday’s Milwaukee Journal celebrates the 100 year relationship between Marquette University and what is now named the Medical College of Wisconsin. The essay was co-authored by John R. Raymond, Sr., M.D., president and chief executive officer of the Medical College of Wisconsin, and Father Scott R. Pilarz, SJ, president of Marquette University.
Dr. Sally Rockey, NIH Deputy Director for Extramural Research, has followed up her recent blog post on fiscal year 2012 success rates with an update of an earlier blog post on how paylines, percentiles and success rates relate to one another.
An article in Saturday’s Baltimore Sun reported that while the litigation over human Embryonic Stem Cell (hESC) research might be over, ongoing research funding concerns may limit research progress in the field.
The American Medical Association (AMA) has announced a Request for Proposals (RFP) from MD-granting medical schools in the U.S. for innovative projects that support the significant redesign of undergraduate medical education. The aim of this funding opportunity is “to alter the course of medical education through bold, rigorously evaluated innovations that align medical student training with the evolving needs of patients, communities and the rapidly changing health care environment.” The AMA is committing $10 million over the next five years to partner with medical schools and support their efforts to accelerate change in medical education. A mandatory Letter of Intent is due February 15.
Jim Burkhart, who has been named the new CEO of Tampa General Hospital, was interviewed in Sunday’s Tampa Bay Times. He discussed the hospital’s relationship with the University of South Florida College of Medicine.
The LA Times on Sunday reported on the increasing number of prizes incentivizing selected areas of scientific research. The article reported that the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy reported that “more than 45 government agencies have placed more than 225 prizes into play…”
A group of public health school deans has written to President Obama condemning the CIA’s use of a fictional vaccination campaign to gather information about the whereabouts of Osama Bin Laden. The deans wrote, “…contaminating humanitarian and public health programs with covert activities threatens the present participants and future potential of much of what we undertake internationally to improve health and provide humanitarian assistance. As public health academic leaders, we hereby urge you to assure the public that this type of practice will not be repeated.”
Dr. Howard Markel, the director of the Center for the History of Medicine and the George E. Wantz Distinguished Professor of the History of Medicine at the University of Michigan, has a new blog on the PBS web site highlighting “the anniversary of a momentous event that continues to shape modern medicine.” In a posting on Friday, Dr. Markel discussed “How a Boy Became the First to Beat Back Diabetes.”
The American Association of University Professors has published a revised version of the 1973 joint Statement on Faculty Status of College and University Librarians. The statement—originally formulated by the AAUP, the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), and the Association of American Colleges (now the Association of American Colleges and Universities) — “calls for the granting of faculty status to librarians involved in teaching and research. The new version of the statement adds language about the teaching and information-access roles of librarians and the role of librarians in university governance and outreach, and it reaffirms their need for academic freedom and tenure.”
The Institute of Medicine has formed a new panel that “will conduct a consensus study that will produce a technical report on the current state of end-of-life care with respect to delivery of medical care and social support; patient-family-provider communication of values and preferences; advance care planning; health care financing and reimbursement; and education of health professionals, patients and their loved ones. The study will also explore approaches to advance the field.” The panel is being co-chaired by former Stanford Dean Dr. Philip Pizzo and Mr. David Walker, the former U.S. Comptroller General and head of the Government Accountability Office.
A survey released on Thursday by Moody’s Investors Services found “Weakened pricing power and difficulty in growing enrollment are impeding revenue growth at an increasing number of US colleges and universities.” The survey also “found that a third of universities expect net tuition revenue to either decline or grow at a rate below inflation in fiscal year 2013. In all, 17% of both private and public universities are expecting declines in net tuition revenue, while another 16% are expecting percent increases that are less than the rate of inflation.”
The Pittsburgh Post Gazette on Saturday reported, “A proposed debt-reduction deal between West Penn Allegheny Health System [WPAHS], insurer Highmark Inc. and WPAHS’s major bondholders that would pay those bondholders nearly 90 cents on every dollar of debt could be finalized within the next week or two. The deal would reduce the roughly $726 million owed to bondholders to between $620 million and $630 million, and would allow the financially ailing health system to avoid — at least for the moment — bankruptcy reorganization.” The paper further reported, “The debt-reduction deal could be the linchpin that allows the Insurance Department to finally endorse the larger deal that hangs in the balance — Highmark’s proposed takeover of West Penn Allegheny, which is the key to the insurer’s envisioned in-house provider health network. That takeover process has taken more than a year, and WPAHS’s finances have deteriorated in the intervening period.”
The National Academy of Sciences has announced the 2013 recipients of 18 major NAS awards that recognize outstanding scientific achievements in a wide range of fields spanning the physical, biological, and social sciences. The recipients will be honored in a ceremony on Sunday, April 28, during the Academy’s 150th annual meeting.
The new issue of the Columbia Journalism Review featured a cover story on why science reporters have such a hard time with stories about nutrition and dieting. The article, “Survival of the wrongest” is subtitled, “How personal-health journalism ignores the fundamental pitfalls baked into all scientific research and serves up a daily diet of unreliable information.”
NIH has announced the release of the Public Access Compliance Monitor, a web-based tool that institutions can use to track compliance of publications that fall under the NIH Public Access Policy. According to NIH, “By providing efficient and flexible methods for retrieving, viewing, and organizing public access compliance information, the compliance monitor supports the efforts of grantee organizations to ensure their awards are compliant.”
Retired Army Colonel Paul F. Pasquina, M.D., chief of the Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, and director of the Center for Rehabilitation Science Research at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU), has been selected to chair the newly-established Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) in the F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine at USU.
Michael Boulton, Ph.D., and Maria Grant, M.D., are joining the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Eye Institute and the Department of Ophthalmology at the Indiana University School of Medicine. Dr. Boulton will be the first director of basic science research and hold the Merrill Grayson Senior Chair in Ophthalmology; his wife and fellow researcher, Maria Grant, M.D., will be the first to hold the new Marilyn K. Glick Senior Chair. They will join the department at the beginning of the new academic year on July 1. Dr. Boulton is currently director of research and professor in the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at the University of Florida. Dr. Grant is currently director of translational research in the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Florida.
Benjamin A. Alman, M.D., will join the Duke University School of Medicine as chairman of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, starting in June. He is currently the A.J. Latner professor and chairman of orthopaedics at the University of Toronto. David Attarian, M.D., FACS, is serving as interim chair at Duke until Dr. Alman’s arrival.
The January/February issue of the Columbia Journalism Review reported that there were 95 weekly science sections in newspapers in 1989, 34 in 2005 and only 19 such sections in 2012.
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