AAMC News and Leadership Announcements, 2013 February 18

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

The lead story in Monday’s New York Times reported, “The Obama administration is planning a decade-long scientific effort to examine the workings of the human brain and build a comprehensive map of its activity, seeking to do for the brain what the Human Genome Project did for genetics.” According to the paper, the initiative will be officially unveiled as part of the Obama Administration’s FY 2014 budget proposal. The paper reported, “Scientists involved in the planning said they hoped that federal financing for the project would be more than $300 million a year, which if approved by Congress would amount to at least $3 billion over the 10 years.” The paper further reported, “The initiative will be organized by the Office of Science and Technology Policy, according to scientists who have participated in planning meetings. The National Institutes of Health, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the National Science Foundation will also participate in the project, the scientists said,” along with private foundations, research institutes, industry and others.

An article from the Texas Tribune on Sunday discussed the problems of the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas and the fallout affecting research funded from the state initiative that is currently on hold. According to the article, “The moratorium placed on Cprit grants in December has halted the distribution of $182.6 million — including $71.8 million to bring additional research teams to Texas and $16.2 million for cancer prevention services. As a result, Texas universities are scrambling to hold on to renowned cancer researchers who were promised millions of dollars to move their labs to Texas. And advocacy groups fear they will be forced to dismantle cancer prevention programs.”

Paul Krugman used his column in Monday’s New York Times to criticize House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s comments opposing the federal funding of social science research. Dr. Krugman also noted Rep. Cantor’s opposition to “comparative effectiveness research.” Rep. Cantor responded in Friday’s NY Times and appears to suggest redirecting funds away from the NSF’s Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences Directorate to “fund another 1,000 grants” in the life sciences, presumably through the National Institutes of Health.
http://tinyurl.com/akg7ksm (Krugman’s column)
http://tinyurl.com/b8qczvh (Cantor’s response)
http://tinyurl.com/bxhhsx2 (Cantor’s original address)

Science Careers, from the journal Science, has posted an article on a scientific workforce policy discussion at the AAAS Annual Meeting in Boston on Friday. Two of the speakers recommended increasing post-doc and graduate student stipends significantly in an effort to shrink the manpower pool.

The Baltimore Sun reported on Monday that Dr. Ben Carson, pediatric neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins, has been anointed the new “darling of the right” by the Fox television network. Dr. Carson said he is retiring from surgery in June. His recent pronouncements concerning the “nation’s moral decay” and in opposition to the Affordable Care Act, gay marriage, and federal deficits have led the Wall Street Journal editorial page to promote Dr. Carson as a possible presidential candidate.

The Tuesday, February 19, Federal Register contains a Request for Information from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) on specific design questions for incorporation into the Main Study Design of the National Children’s Study. According to NICHD, “The information obtained from RFI responses will be used to guide the construction of decision points or parameters for the Main Study design over the next 12-18 months.” The notice states that the response deadline is February 25, seven days after the notice’s publication in the Federal Register.

The Associated Press on Friday distributed a story detailing Dr. Francis Collins’ concerns about the impacts of sequestration on medical research.

The AAMC will be hosting a webinar entitled, “The Sunshine Final Rule: What Medical Schools and Teaching Hospitals Need to Know,” on Thursday, February 21, 2013 from 1:00-2:00 EST to present the major provisions of the final rule, the changes from CMS’ proposed rule of December 19, 2011, and the impact on clinical faculty and teaching hospitals. The webinar is free to individuals who work at AAMC member institutions, but registration is required. The registration form provides an opportunity to submit questions in advance for the presenter, Heather Pierce, JD, MPH, AAMC Senior Director for Science Policy and Regulatory Counsel.
http://tinyurl.com/avntoou (Webinar registration)
http://tinyurl.com/be2qjw3 (Fed. Register notice)

In an essay in Sunday’s Seattle Times, Dr. David Evans, a family physician and the past president of the National Physicians Alliance and a member of the University of Washington School of Medicine faculty, discussed the “Physician Payment Sunshine Act” and why disclosure of corporate payments to physicians is needed.

Monday’s Chicago Tribune profiled Dr. Kenneth Polonsky, Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs; Dean, Division of the Biological Sciences; and Dean, Pritzker School of Medicine, University of Chicago.

The NIH of Thursday posted a formal notice stating that on grant awards with a start date of July 1 and beyond: 1) it would begin delaying award processing if publications arising from it are not in compliance with the NIH’s public access policy; and 2) investigators will need to use MyNCBI to enter papers onto progress reports.

The George Polk Awards, conferred annually to honor special achievement in journalism, were announced this weekend. Peter Whoriskey of The Washington Post was awarded the George Polk Award for Medical Reporting for “Biased Research, Big Profits,” a series that detailed, according to the award committee, “reprehensible practices of the pharmaceutical industry that are warping the practice of medicine and endangering patients.”
http://tinyurl.com/7jnzjkn (link to the series)

In an essay posted by the New York Times on Friday, Dr. Pauline Chen discussed “problems posed by hierarchies within the medical profession.” She highlighted a related article by Dr. Ranjana Srivastava, a medical oncologist, which recently appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The Brownsville Herald reported on Friday, “The University of Texas-Health Science Center in San Antonio has hired a Los Angeles-based recruiting firm to identify candidates for dean at the Rio Grande Valley medical school.” The article also reported, “The state Legislature has not yet begun hearings on legislation that would merge the two South Texas universities [UT-Pan American and UT-Brownsville] and establish a medical school.”

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Feb 13 published its final rules implementing the first-inventor-to-file (FITF) provisions of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act. The provisions go into effect on March 16, 2013. The FITF, a hallmark of the 2011 patent reform law, would assign “priority” to an invention based on the date a patent application is filed, not the date of the invention itself. The provision is intended as a step toward harmonizing the U.S. patent system with those of the United States’ major trading partners and allowing greater consistency in the prosecution and enforcement of U.S. patents. The new statute also includes safeguards to ensure that only an original inventor or her or his assignee may be awarded a patent under the first-inventor-to-file system.

The Naples (Florida) News began a three-part series on medical education on Sunday. The initial article was titled, “Despite high cost and residency shortage, Florida sees interest rise in medical school.”

Helen Piwnica-Worms, Ph.D., has been named vice provost, science, overseeing preclinical and basic science research at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. She also will be a professor in MD Anderson’s Department of Cancer Biology. Dr. Piwnica-Worms is currentlyy head of the Washington University School of Medicine Department of Cell Biology and Physiology as well as associate director for basic science and executive committee member at the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University in St. Louis.

UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Holden Thorp has been named the new provost of Washington University in St. Louis. Dr. Holden, a chemist, in September announced he was stepping down as chancellor at the end of the academic year. He will have served as chancellor for five years.

The Arizona Republic on Saturday posted a detailed story (with related documents) concerning ethical issues related to two cervical cancer screening clinical trials based at Tata Hospital in Mumbai, India. The trials were funded by the National Cancer Institute and the Gates Foundation. The HHS Office of Human Research Protections had earlier issued determination letters to Tata concerning the informed consent forms used in the trials and asserted they did not adequately inform control group participants about screening alternatives.

The Baltimore Sun on Saturday reported, “University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center loses about $400,000 every day it’s not certified by Medicare to collect payments from the federal health care program. The big question is how much that will ultimately cost the Towson hospital. Tens of millions of dollars could be at stake.” According to the paper, “St. Joseph officials have declined to discuss the case but revealed their position in a financial statement. The hospital reported that it lost $5.2 million in revenue in the two weeks it believes it was not Medicare-compliant. The financial statement also for the first time detailed how much the University of Maryland spent to acquire the troubled medical center. The medical system took out a $220 million short-term loan to cover the acquisition’s cost and working capital, the filing said. It hopes to refinance this year with a state-backed bond.”

The American Medical Association (AMA) announced the recipients of its top government service honor in health care, the Dr. Nathan Davis Award for Outstanding Government Service. Seven leaders who have served in different sectors of the government were presented with the award recently at the AMA’s National Advocacy Conference in Washington, D.C. The award is named after the AMA’s founder and is given to elected and career officials in federal, state and municipal service whose outstanding work has promoted the art and science of medicine and the betterment of public health. Honorees included: Dr. Donald Berwick, former Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and Dr. Thomas Insel, Director of the National Institute of Mental Health.

The Boston Globe reported last week that Dr. Carol Warfield, former chief of anesthesia at Beth Israel Deaconess in Boston, has reached a settlement with the hospital and others resolving her gender bias suit and “will collect $7 million — and will have the hospital’s pain clinic named in her honor.” According to the Globe, “[Dr.] Warfield sued the hospital, [former surgery chief Dr. Josef] Fischer, [former BID CEO Paul] Levy, and the hospital’s physician group in 2008. On Wednesday, the parties filed a notice in Suffolk Superior Court that they had resolved the case, and released a joint statement to the hospital community. A trial had been scheduled to begin this past Monday.”

Robert E. Harbaugh, MD, has posted a provocative essay on the Wing of Zock web site, titled, “The Primary Care Shibboleth: Debunking the Myth.” Dr. Harbaugh questions some of the arguments and assumptions used by supporters of increasing investments in primary care.

An essay in the opinion section of Sunday’s New York Times reported that “…while experts say that doctors have an ethical obligation to warn their peers about bad drugs or medical devices, they often do not do so.” Barry Meier, a reporter who covers business and medicine for The New York Times, explored the many reasons why many physicians stay quiet.

The American Society for Hematology (ASH) has released a video intended to explain the value of medical research and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to Members of Congress. The video, featuring several researchers, urges members to avoid sequestration through a balanced approach to deficit reduction.

The Tulsa World reported on Friday, “The University of Tulsa will not complete the purchase of downtown Tulsa’s Hartford Building, which was to serve as the home of the planned Tulsa School of Community Medicine. The school will instead be located at the campuses of the partnering universities, TU and the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa.” The article further reported that pending accreditation decisions, “The first class of the medical school is expected to be admitted in fall 2015, although officials previously hoped the first class would be in 2014.”

Ralph Snyderman, M.D., Chancellor Emeritus of Duke University, posted an essay on the Huffington Post titled, “How Digital Technology Can Personalize Health Care.” He wrote, “Personalized health care on a digital platform can reconstruct our current expensive and inefficient sick-care approach into a cost-effective, health-enhancing system with individuals at the center of their care… Importantly, as technologies enable individuals to become more informed and empowered about health care, they will be a major force for insisting on care that is designed to improve their health personally.”

Two articles from the Boston Globe last week considered the challenges residents face in trying to balance marriage and medical training.

Justin Klamerus, M.D., has been named interim president and medical director of the McLaren Cancer Institute in Flint, Michigan. He is succeeding Dr. Ray Demers, who is retiring. Dr. Klamerus is a former chair of the AAMC Organization of Resident Representatives.

Dr. Richard Nakamura, director of the NIH Center for Scientific Review, was interviewed in a posting on the American Society for Cell Biology’s new web feature, “The ASCB Post.” Dr. Nakamura discussed various proposals intended to improve the peer review process, or at least make it more humane.

Giuseppe Giaccone, MD, PhD, has joined Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, a part of MedStar Georgetown University Hospital and Georgetown University Medical Center, as associate director for clinical research, co-leader of its experimental therapeutics program and director of the lung cancer program. He is also director of clinical research for the MedStar Georgetown Cancer Network, a clinical affiliation between MedStar Health and Georgetown Lombardi. Dr. Giaccone previously was chief of the National Cancer Institute’s Center for Cancer Research’s Medical Oncology Branch.

Garth Powis, Ph.D., has been appointed professor and director of the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute’s Cancer Center. Dr. Powis succeeds Kristiina Vuori, M.D., Ph.D., who has served as Cancer Center director since 2005 and who is now Sanford-Burnham’s president and interim CEO. Dr. Powis has most recently served as chair of Experimental Therapeutics and director of the Center for Targeted Therapy at the MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Wayne State University (WSU) officials announced last week that the NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development has awarded the University a second 10-year contract to continue housing the Perinatology Research Branch (PRB). The contract is valued at $165.9 million. The PRB offices, labs and clinical facilities are located within DMC Hutzel Women’s Hospital and at the C.S. Mott Center for Human Growth & Development on the School of Medicine campus. Roberto Romero, M.D., D.Med.Sci., has been the chief of the branch since its creation in 1992. The project site managers for the contract are WSU’s Robert Sokol, M.D., and Sonia Hassan, M.D.

Tony Mazzaschi

PS: Feel free to email <cas@aamc.org> if you have a problem accessing any article or resource mentioned in this summary. Also, have colleagues email <cas@aamc.org> if they would like to receive these news postings. We also welcome news tips and corrections.

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http://www.aamc.org/newsroom/aamcstat/aamcnews.htm (note subscription box on right)
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+AAMC Second Opinion, news and perspectives from AAMC’s Chief Public Policy Officer
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http://wingofzock.org/ and its Twitter feed @wingofzock
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