AAMC News and Leadership Announcements, 2013 March 19

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

The University of Virginia has named Dr. Nancy E. Dunlap as dean of its School of Medicine. A pulmonologist, Dr. Dunlap is physician-in-residence with the National Governors Association (NGA) Center for Best Practices. The appointment is effective May 1. Prior to her appointment with the NGA, Dr. Dunlap was professor of medicine and business at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She also served as vice chair for clinical affairs, vice president of the UAB Health System for Ambulatory Services and chief of staff and COO for The Kirklin Clinic, a large, multi-specialty, academic clinic. She succeeds Dr. Steven T. DeKosky, who announced last October he would be stepping down from the post to return to teaching full-time. According to UVA, Dr. “Dunlap is expected to be with the University for at least 18 months as U.Va. continues the process of hiring a new executive vice president for health affairs. A search for a permanent dean for the School of Medicine will be launched following that appointment.”


Vivian S. Lee, M.D., Ph.D., MBA, Senior VP for Health Sciences, Dean, School of Medicine, and CEO, University of Utah Health Care, has posted a thoughtful commentary reflecting on issues raised in the recent issue of Time on medical bills. Dr. Lee noted, “Today, the operating margins of academic medical centers around the nation average 5% for their hospitals. Profits pay for upkeep of the hospital and new facilities as well as to support education and research, both of which are seriously underfunded. Tuition and state funding covers only 44% of our medical school education costs. For every research dollar we receive, the institution must put in another 25 – 40 cents minimum, in additional support. Why are education and research so underfunded? Because administrators at the NIH and in the state and federal government expect us to use clinical profits to fund them.”

The New York Times reported on Tuesday, “Spending on prescription drugs nationwide has been slowing for years because of the increasingly widespread use of low-cost generics. But in 2012, something unheard-of happened: money spent on prescription drugs actually dropped. The dip was small – 1 percent, to $325.7 billion – but it was the first time the research firm IMS Health had recorded a decrease in United States drug sales since the company began tracking such numbers in 1957.” The article, however, does offer cautions from several observers about the rising cost of complex specialty medicines.

The Times on Tuesday also reported that some “lawmakers are calling for a review of federal policies they say have allowed businesses to profit on government research with limited return for taxpayers or consumers.” The article further reported, “Now, advocates for creative new funding policies might have an example for their cause, a new arthritis drug called Xeljanz that got its start in a taxpayer-financed laboratory at the National Institutes of Health.” Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) on Friday wrote to NIH “requesting documents about the Xeljanz collaboration ‘to gain an understanding of what the public can expect as a return on its research investment.'”  Pfizer has issued a response to the article.

F. King Alexander, president of California State University Long Beach, is the LSU Presidential Search Committee’s consensus candidate for the position of President of LSU. The recommendation was presented to the Board of Supervisors during its March 18 meeting and is scheduled to be approved at a meeting next week. Dr. Alexander has a PhD in educational leadership.

Rebecca M. Blank has been recommended as the new chancellor of the University of Wisconsin – Madison by a panel of the UW Board of Regents. Dr. Blank is currently the Acting Secretary of Commerce. An economist, she is the former dean of the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. President Obama issued a statement on the pending appointment.

A new study in the Annals of Internal Medicine reports on the results of a telephone survey of selected physician offices “for a fictional patient who was obese and hemiparetic, used a wheelchair, and could not self-transfer from chair to examination table.” The survey found “Of 256 practices, 56 (22%) reported that they could not accommodate the patient, 9 (4%) reported that the building was inaccessible, 47 (18%) reported inability to transfer a patient from a wheelchair to an examination table, and 22 (9%) reported use of height-adjustable tables or a lift for transfer. Gynecology was the subspecialty with the highest rate of inaccessible practices (44%).” The authors concluded, “Better awareness among providers about the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the standards of care for patients in wheelchairs is needed.”

Seven new human embryonic stem cell lines on Monday were added to the NIH Stem Cell Registry, bringing the total number of lines available to federally-funded researchers to 207. Four of the new lines come from the Karolinska Institute and three from Technion R&D Foundation.

The lead story in Monday’s Boston Globe focused on recent OMB proposals to modify the cost allocation circulars related to Facilities and Administrative Costs (F&A or indirect costs). OMB’s decision to drop an earlier flat rate proposal is highlighted.

Eric G. Neilson, MD, Vice President for Medical Affairs and Dean of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, and Dean M. Harrison, President and CEO, announced on Friday the “intent to fully integrate Northwestern Memorial HealthCare (NMHC) and Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation (NMFF) by September 1, 2013.” Crain’s Chicago Business last year reported that NMFF was Chicago’s second largest physicians group, with $454.0 million in net revenue in 2011,

Will Deal, M.D., a former senior vice president of Medicine and dean of the School of Medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, passed away suddenly on Friday. He was 76. Dr. Deal has also been dean and vice president for Health Affairs at the University of Florida and also president of the Maine Medical Center and Foundation.

Howard Schapiro, MD, an anesthesiologist at Fletcher Allen Health Care and associate professor at the University of Vermont College of Medicine, has been named interim president of the UVM Medical Group and interim senior associate dean of Clinical Affairs at the College.  He will serve in these roles while a national search is conducted to replace Paul Taheri, MD, MBA, who has joined the Yale School of Medicine as deputy dean and CEO of the Yale Medical Group.

Gregory Holmes, M.D., has been appointed the inaugural professor and chair of neurological sciences at the University of Vermont College of Medicine and as physician leader of neurology at Fletcher Allen Health Care, effective May 1, 2013. He will succeed Rodney Parsons, Ph.D., and Rup Tandan, M.D., who have shared leadership of the new department since August 2012. Dr. Holmes joins UVM from the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, where he served as professor and chair of neurology and director of the Neuroscience Center.

Dr. Allan R. Tunkel, chair of medicine at Monmouth Medical Center and professor of medicine at Drexel University College of Medicine, has been appointed associate dean for medical education at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. Effective July 15, Dr. Tunkel will succeed Dr. Phil Gruppuso, professor of pediatrics, who has served eight years in the post.

An article in Saturday’s issue of the New York Times reported, “Around the country, waning state support, rising tuition and the competitive threat of online education have raised fears about the future of public universities. Trustees and politicians in several states have increasingly flexed their muscles to influence university operations, leading to turf battles with presidents and chancellors who are largely used to having their way.” The article further reported, “Terry W. Hartle, senior vice president of the American Council on Education, said the problems that the University of Virginia faces, and the questions over who is in charge, are national phenomena. The traditional approach for trustees and governors, which he advocates, is ‘noses in, hands off,’ he said, but that view is under fire.”

Arthur S. Levine, M.D., senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and dean of the School of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, authored a commentary in Monday’s issue of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette concerning the sequester’s impact on medical research funded by NIH. Dr. Levine concluded, “Unless the president and Congress achieve a mutually agreeable solution that alleviates the worst of these effects in the coming days and weeks, Americans will be robbed of the very significant economic gains and the better and longer lives that result from the nation’s investment in biomedical research.”

Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital in Wheaton, IL and the Chicago Medical School at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science recently announced a new relationship that designates the Marianjoy Residency Program as an academic affiliate of the school.

Raymond L. Woosley, M.D., Ph.D., president and chair of AZCERT Inc. and the founder and former president of Critical Path Institute, recently authored an article in the Annual Review of Pharmacology and Toxicology titled, “One Hundred Years of Drug Regulation: Where Do We Go from Here?” Dr. Woosley concluded, “Congress has enacted legislation to expand the FDA’s authority with the intent of protecting the public health but often without appropriating the necessary resources. Each change in the FDA’s authorization is an experiment that has the potential to either encourage or stifle innovation. If the FDA is to remain a net positive influence on the public health and biomedical innovation, it must be given the resources, relationships, and talent to continue its science-based focus. Also, Congress must move from being reactive, i.e., making changes that address the latest crisis, to being proactive, i.e., anticipating what scientific strengths will be needed when innovative products arrive for FDA review.”

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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