AAMC News and Leadership Announcements, 2013 February 24

The February 14 issue of AAMC News and Leadership Announcements is now available:

Dr. John Holdren, the director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), issued a memo on Friday to agencies announcing a new Federal-wide open access policy. Under the policy, Federal agencies with more than $100 million in R&D expenditures must develop plans to make the results of Federally-funded research freely available to the public, in most cases within 12 months of publication. The policy is similar to NIH’s current policy.

The Baltimore Sun reported on Saturday, “University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center said Friday that it has received a new Medicare provider agreement, allowing it to again seek reimbursement for treating patients on the federal government’s health program. The Towson hospital has not billed Medicare patients since the University of Maryland Medical System voluntarily declined to keep St. Joseph’s prior federal certification when it bought the hospital Dec. 1.” The paper further reported that the hospital is at odds with CMS on whether it can seek back reimbursements.

The American Medical Association has reported that 115 of the 141 LCME accredited medical schools have submitted proposals in response to its $10 million “Accelerating Change in Medical Education” initiative. “The AMA is encouraged by this tremendous response,” said AMA CEO/EVP James L. Madara, M.D. He added, “It’s a clear sign that medical schools are eager and ready to implement the transformative changes needed to respond to the evolving medical environment and the future needs of patients.” The AMA will review the individual proposals and select 20-30 schools to submit full proposals for further consideration. The 8-10 awardees are expected to be announced in June.

The Boston Globe has posted an interview with Dr. Howard Hiatt, a founder of the Brigham and Women’s Division of Global Health Equity and the former chair of the department of medicine at the former Beth Israel Hospital. He also is the former dean of the Harvard School of Public Health. The Brigham celebrated Dr. Hiatt, now 87, and the division’s 10th anniversary at a dinner on Tuesday.

A new report, “Equity in the Digital Age: How Health Information Technology Can Reduce Disparities.” was released on Thursday by various health and consumer advocacy organizations at a White House Summit on Achieving eHealth Equity. The report makes policy recommendations “for how advancements can best improve health in all communities and highlights the importance of improving access to new technologies in underserved areas to avoid exacerbating existing disparities.”

Crain’s New York Business on Sunday reported on the impact of an estimated $2.1 billion in potential federal funding cuts to New York hospitals from sequestration. The impact on the Empire State as a whole could be more than $5 billion. In the article, Dr. Dennis Charney discussed the impact the cuts could have on the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and its various missions.

An article in Sunday’s Baltimore Sun discussed a possible brain drain from the U.S. as researchers frustrated and angry with the lack of Federal financial support and stability for their research consider offers from other countries. Two scientists who have already emigrated are highlighted.

The Pittsburgh Post Gazette on Sunday featured an article on patient no-shows and how much it costs health system. The article also describes initiatives taken by the VA and others to curb the problem.

Dr. David Eagleman, an assistant professor of neuroscience at Baylor College of Medicine, authored an op-ed in Saturday’s New York Times on neuroscience and the proposed brain activity map. Dr. Eagleman concluded his essay, “Brain health, drug rehabilitation, computer intelligence, adaptive devices — these economic drivers would lavishly pay back any investment in brain research. So when a taxpayer asks how to endow our country with a confident future, you can reply, the answer is right in back of your eyes.”

Abdullah Nasser, a neurobiology degree candidate at Harvard University, authored an essay in Saturday’s Washington Post on physician shortages and the structure of medical education. Mr. Nasser wrote, “A reasonable, and relatively cheap, way to address the issue is to allow a two-stream medical education system: one stream — similar to what we have now — for college-graduate entry into medical school; and one that is slightly longer for students straight out of high school (say, five or six years). This sort of model has been shown to work in several countries, including Australia and Britain…The hybrid approach too would allow the United States to catch up with the rest of the world and reduce the critical demand for doctors without increasing our reliance on doctors with degrees from other countries or pushing our medical schools to their limit.” The on-line version of the essay has produced some interesting responses.

An article in the new issue of Crain’s Chicago Business discussed the business model and supply and demand cycles of the Anatomical Gift Association of Illinois. A professor of managment said the Chicago-based Association faces “the same challenge any business would have, whether I’m selling Hostess Twinkies or cadavers,” The executive vice president of the Association said, “Whether or not we’re a nonprofit, we’re still a business… And like any business, you grow and adapt and evolve, or you disappear.”

Sunday’s Los Angeles Times featured a column concerning the relationship between the Herbalife nutritional supplement firm and UCLA’s Geffen School of Medicine. The column is highly critical of the relationship, which is featured extensively in Herbalife’s marketing efforts.

The Richmond Times Dispatch on Friday and Saturday reported on objections to the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine’s removal of “Medical College of Virginia” from its diplomas.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune on Sunday reported on the Mayo Clinic’s expansion plans and it possible impact on the city of Rochester. According to the article, “Mayo wants to spend $3.5 billion over the next two decades, doubling the size of a campus that already takes up large swaths of downtown Rochester. It also plans to leverage another $2 billion in private investments to turn the rest of Rochester into a destination city in its own right, bristling with high-quality hotels, restaurants, sports and entertainment facilities and amenities.” The article also reported that Mayo wants Minnesota to contribute more than $500 million to fund related infrastructure improvements.

The Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel on Sunday reviewed the relationship between Florida Atlantic University and the Scripps Research Institute, which is located on the school’s Jupiter campus. According to the article, the “returns appear to have been slow to come. There has been only one major joint research project since Scripps arrived in 2004. Scripps did help FAU start a new medical school, but has had little involvement since it opened in 2011. FAU touted the possibility of students earning joint degrees, an M.D. from FAU and a Ph.D. from Kellogg School of School of Science and Technology, the educational arm of Scripps, but in the two years since it started, the dual program has signed up a total of two students.”

The New York Times on Sunday featured a major article on the veterinary workforce. According to the article, the debt levels of vet students has skyrocketed, the demand for vets has been falling even as the workforce continues to expand, resulting in reduced employment prospects of newly minted vets. The article reports that starting salaries have sunk by about 13 percent during the recent 10-year period and the ratio of debt to income for the average new vet is roughly double that of M.D.’s. The article also reported, “In 2012, a mere 45 percent of graduating vets reported that they had accepted a permanent job offer – as opposed to a time-limited and lower-paying internship, or a residency – down from 84 percent in 1999. Last year, 39 percent of graduates had no job offers, up from 19 percent in 1999.”

The Washington Post on Feb. 21 published an interview with Elias Zerhouni, M.D., former director of NIH from 2002 to 2008. Dr. Zerhouni said sequestration would be “a disaster for research,” adding, it is not “an activity that you can turn off from year to year. It’s an activity that takes time.” Dr. Zerhouni said he is “most concerned” about the loss of “vibrant” human capital, adding “if we don’t offer the young bright minds a career that is predictable, then we lose them.” In closing he said, “research is an investment, it’s not an expense.” Dr. Zerhouni is now an executive with Sanofi.

An Associated Press story appearing in many papers this weekend discussed the legal, ethical, and operational issues involved when a patient demands that health professionals of certain races not be involved in their treatment, or in the treatment of their children.

The Pittsburgh Post Gazette on Saturday reported that, “The Pennsylvania Insurance Department told Highmark Inc. officials it has become concerned that financial projections in recent filings related to the Pittsburgh health insurer’s proposed affiliation with West Penn Allegheny Health System ‘are inconsistent with Highmark’s stated intention and actions.'” The specific concern relates to the status of Highmark’s contract with the UPMC health system. The article also focused on other projections in Highmark’s submission to the Department, including a projected 25,000 additional admissions to WPAHS annually, an estimated increase of 45 percent over the current level.

The University of Maryland School of Medicine has announced changes in the structure of the school’s Program in Trauma. The program will now be organized into three divisions: Trauma Services, Critical Care Service and Acute Care Surgery. Thomas M. Scalea, MD, FACS, continues to direct the program and serves as Physician-in-Chief for the R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center. Deborah M. Stein, MD, MPH, has been appointed Chief of Trauma. James V. O’Connor, MD, FACS, has been named the Chief of Trauma Critical Care. Jose J. Diaz, MD, continues as Chief of Acute Care Surgery.

The AAMC has developed a new Web portal highlighting its leadership development training opportunities and resources. Organized by topic and position, the site makes it easier for deans, CEOs, faculty, and staff to identify AAMC courses and publications on improving leadership skills relevant to their roles. The site will be updated regularly as new offerings become available.

The Division of Graduate Education at the National Science Foundation (NSF) has announced the 2013 Innovation in Graduate Education Challenge. The NSF challenges STEM graduate students across the nation to submit innovative ideas to prepare them for tomorrow’s opportunities and challenges. Entries are solicited for ideas with the potential to improve graduate education and professional development, and must be submitted by April 15, 2013.

University of Colorado President Bruce D. Benson on Friday announced the selection of Don Elliman as chancellor of the “University of Colorado Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus”. Mr. Elliman has been interim chancellor since February 2012.

Joanna Groden, PhD, has been named vice dean for Research for The Ohio State University College of Medicine. Dr. Groden succeeds Dr. Clay Marsh, who has been named vice dean for Innovation for the College. Dr. Groden has been a member of the Molecular Virology, Immunology and Medical Genetics faculty since 2005 and served as the College of Medicine’s associate dean for Basic Science Research from 2007 until 2011 and associate dean for Graduate Studies since August 2011. She also co-directs the school’s Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Med Into Grad Scholars Program.

Robert Langer, M.D., MPH, has been appointed to the new position of associate dean for clinical and translational research at the University of Nevada School of Medicine. He joins Nevada from UC San Diego where he was on the faculty in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine for the past 20 years.

Titus Schleyer, DMD, Ph.D., MBA, has been named to lead the Center for Biomedical Informatics at the Regenstrief Institute. Dr. Schleyer joines the Regenstrief Institute and Indiana University from the University of Pittsburgh, where he is associate professor of dental public health and founding director of the Center for Dental Informatics in the School of Dental Medicine, as well as co-director of the Biomedical Informatics Training Program in the School of Medicine.

The AAMC’s Diversity Policy and Programs unit has collaborated with Cook Ross to develop a 3-day workshop which examines how unconscious biases develop, how they influence perceptions and decision making, and their impact on institutional diversity and inclusion efforts. After a successful launch of this program in January 2013, the program is being extended to additional participants. The Learning Lab will be held at Cook Ross Headquarters just outside Washington, DC in Silver Spring, Maryland.

CORRECTED URL: An article posted on The Atlantic magazine’s web site features seven charts purportedly describing the bleak employment outlook for newly minted Ph.D.s.

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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