The current issue of AAMC News and Leadership Announcements is now available:
David Duggan, MD, has been appointed dean of the SUNY Upstate College of Medicine. He has served as interim dean of the college since October 2011. In his nearly 30 years of service to Upstate, Dr. Duggan, an oncologist, has held a variety of leadership roles, including chair of the Department of Medicine, where he served for 15 years, Upstate University Hospital’s quality officer and associate vice president for clinical affairs.
Also at Upstate, Rosemary Rochford, Ph.D., has been named vice president for research. She is a member of the Upstate faculty and previously served as chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology. Dr. Rochford succeeds Steven Goodman, Ph.D., who has served as vice president for research and dean of the College of Graduate Studies since 2008. (Dr. Duggan will oversee the College of Graduate Studies on a temporary basis.) Dr. Goodman remains on the faculty as professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, and pediatrics.
Congress on Thursday gave final approval to the fiscal year 2013 spending package intended to fund federal programs through Sept. 30. The new issue of AAMC Washington Highlights, the Association’s weekly legislative and regulatory newsletter, provides details.
Dr. Francis Collins will appear on C-SPAN’s Q&A program on Sunday, March 24, at 8 PM and 11 PM.
The Institute of Medicine on Friday issued an “Interim Report of the Committee on Geographic Variation in Health Care Spending and Promotion of High-Value Care: Preliminary Committee Observations.” According to an IOM summary of the report, “Providing higher Medicare payment rates to hospitals and clinicians in regions of the country characterized by good health outcomes and relatively lower spending and decreasing payment rates in regions with overall lesser quality and higher spending would not give providers the incentive to deliver care more efficiently…Decisions about care are made at the provider level rather than regional level, and providers within regions do not spend consistently on care or routinely deliver the same quality of care, the committee observed. Using a geographically based value index to set Medicare reimbursements would reward underperforming providers in some regions and penalize those achieving good outcomes at lower cost in other areas.” A final report from the panel is due this summer.
A Federal Judge last week dismissed a law suit brought by animal rights activists challenging the constitutionality of the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA). The AETA, enacted in 2006, expanded the criminal prohibitions against the use of force, violence, and threats involving animal enterprises, and increased the penalties for violations of these prohibitions. The plaintiffs argued that the AETA is overly broad, discriminates on the basis of content and viewpoint, and was impermissibly vague. The Judge ruled that “Although Plaintiffs personally fear prosecution under the AETA, they have failed to establish an objectively reasonable chill on their First Amendment rights. Where Plaintiffs seek to engage in lawful and peaceful investigation, protest, public-speaking, and letter-writing, the court cannot reasonably conclude that these actions fall within the purview of a statute requiring intentional damage or loss to property or creation in an individual of a reasonable fear of death.” Thus the court dismissed the suit for lack of standing. The National Association for Biomedical Research (NABR) organized a friend of the court brief in support of the statute. AAMC joined the NABR brief.
An article in the recent issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education reported, “Librarians on many campuses have long been considered faculty, but some institutions are now reclassifying the position as a staff job as they reassess the role of their research libraries more broadly. The move to take faculty and tenure status away from librarians has generated controversy and raised questions about whether their role should be narrowed and what the future of the job should be.”
The Office of Management and Budget has extended the comment period for the “Proposed Guidance on Reform of Federal Policies Relating to Grants and Cooperative Agreements; Cost Principles and Administrative Requirements (Including Single Audit Act),” published on February 1, 2013. The original comment period was scheduled to end on May 2, 2013. OMB has now extended the public comments deadline to June 2, 2013.
An article and several additional features in Saturday’s Wall Street Journal discussed progress in the field of regenerative medicine. Effort to grow a human heart are highlighted, as are previous successes involving bladders, urethras, tear ducts, arteries, ears, and windpipes. A nose is almost ready for transplantation.
A recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle reported on an “exercise…aimed at helping scientists learn how to sell their research to an unscientific public with a short attention span.” The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine “hosted an informal contest during which nearly 60 scientists gave video ‘elevator pitches’ – super-fast presentations that are supposed to grab a listener’s attention in just 30 seconds.” While the exercise focused on stem cell research, the principles discussed are applicable to most areas of research.
The St. Louis Post Dispatch on Wednesday reported that the Missouri Supreme Court has “blocked establishment of the Missouri Science and Innovation Reinvestment Act [MOSIRA], which would have set aside $4 million for growing science companies in the state.” The justices ruled the statute unconstitutional on technical grounds. The paper noted that the suit was brought by the Missouri Roundtable for Life “which is concerned that MOSIRA could lead state funds to be used for stem cell or cloning research.”
Portland’s Oregonian newspaper reported on Saturday about the “fire fixes” underway at OHSU’s Doernbecher Children’s Hospital as a result of inspections ordered following a “fluke hand sanitizer fire” on February 2 that severely burned a 12 year-old patient.
The Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues this week issued a report on its study of issues related to pediatric anthrax vaccine trials. According to the panel, “…the federal government would have to take multiple steps before anthrax vaccine trials with children could be ethically considered.” Bioethics Commission chair Dr. Amy Guttman authored a related essay in the new issue of the New England Journal of Medicine on the panel’s findings.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has posted its U.S. county health rankings for 2013. The data reflects 25 health factors, including high school graduation rates, obesity, smoking, family and social support, and other factors affecting health.
Dr. Walter J. Curran Jr., executive director of the Winship Cancer Institute at Emory University and a radiation oncologist, authored an essay in Saturday’s Atlanta Journal Constitution about the negative consequences of sequester cuts on NIH and NCI and the patients they are attempting to help.
The NIH has issued an RFA for the next round of the Lasker Clinical Research Scholars program. The program is designed for early stage clinical researchers, within ten years of completing their initial residency program. Lasker Scholars spend five years as funded, independent investigators in the NIH intramural program, then have the opportunity for additional independent financial support either at the NIH or at an extramural research institution. The application deadline is June 24, 2013, for positions that will begin in 2014.
Dr. Sally Rockey, NIH Deputy Director for Extramural Research, has posted data that shows that the number of institutions competing for R01 applications has been relatively stable, but the number of institutions submitting Research Project Grant (RPG) applications has increased.
Dr. James Lewis has posted an essay on the Wing of Zock innovation blog site titled, “Where Will the Clinical Faculty Come From?” Dr. Lewis lamented that during national discussions about physician workforce, issues related to the next generation of academic faculty and not being fully aired. He concluded, “We are in need of answers and discussion among the leaders of academic medicine, physician workforce analysts, and health care policymakers if there is to be full understanding of the gap between the size of the existing physician workforce and the projections of future needs when the demands for new clinician faculty are taken into account.”
NIH on Friday issued an information notice concerning plans to reissue a Funding Opportunity Notice regarding the NIH Pathway to Independence Award (K99/R00). NIH is planning to make major changes to the award, including the eligibility criteria.
The Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs (AAHRPP) this week announced several accreditation decisions. Most notably, accreditation has been awarded to Pfizer Inc. In 2009, Pfizer became the first pharmaceutical company to earn AAHRPP accreditation for its phase 1 clinical research units, which are located in New Haven and Brussels. The current accreditation action applies to all of Pfizer’s phase 2 through 4 clinical trials.
The Washington Post on Saturday published a response from a senior official of Johns Hopkins to an earlier Post story on concerns raised by a former employee at Hopkins about a study published in Nature.
The Alzheimer’s Association has released its “2013 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures” report. The report finds that “one in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another dementia in the United States. The new report shows that while deaths from other major diseases, such as heart disease, HIV/AIDS and stroke, continue to experience significant declines, Alzheimer’s deaths continue to rise – increasing 68 percent from 2000-2010.”
An article in Friday’s issue of the LA Times discussed the impact of the $1.6 billion reduction in NIH funding due to the sequester. The article focused on how the cut will affect medical schools and other research institutions. The article also noted the surge in R&D spending by many of the US’s economic competitors.
The Detroit Free Press on Sunday explored the $6.4-billion megamerger of Henry Ford and Beaumont health systems. The article discussed whether the merger will produce cost savings for the combined institutions and whether it will be beneficial to patients, the community, and payers.
“From Ph.D. to Professoriate: The Role of the Institution in Fostering the Advancement of Postdoc Women,” is a new resource book developed by the National Postdoctoral Association (NPA). As noted on the NPA website, “The book provides an overview of our current understanding of the various factors impeding postdoc women’s continuation in academia and recommended practices that have shown promise for aiding these women in overcoming these obstacles. The goal is to help focus institutions’ efforts to support postdoc women to foster their career advancement.”
In May, the Consortium of Social Science Associations (COSSA) sponsored a workshop entitled, “Enhancing Diversity in Science: Working Together to Develop Common Data, Measures, and Standards.” A summary of the workshop will be posted on-line this week.
Registration is now open for the 2013 Geisel Leadership Course at Dartmouth. The theme of the course, which will be held in Hanover on June 20-24, is “The Science and Practice of Leading Yourself.” Dr. Wiley “Chip” Souba, Dean of the Medical School and Vice-President for Health Affairs at Dartmouth, is the course director.
Avalere Health recently posted a white paper, “Delivering Value in Healthcare: A Multi-Stakeholder Vision for Innovation.” The paper was developed by convening leaders representing patients, product developers, providers, payers, and the research community. They helped identify “key domains in which stakeholders can work together to attain a vision for a healthcare system that rewards innovation and delivers effective, efficient, and equitable care to patients.” Participants “worked together to prioritize several solutions within each domain, based on whether the solutions embodied eight key principles that attendees viewed as important and the estimated timing and magnitude of impact on innovation.”
An article in Sunday’s Miami Herald discussed the new medical-law dual degree program that will be offered at the University of Miami starting this fall. UM’s Miller School of Medicine and School of Law will offer a joint M.D. and J.D. degree program that can be completed in six years.
An essay in Sunday’s New York Times by Rebecca Skloot, author of “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” discussed the recent publishing of the HeLa genome by the European Molecular Biology Laboratory. The issue of whether the permission of the Lacks family should have been obtained first is debated. The posting of the genome data has been removed and the Laboratory has apologized to Ms. Lacks’ family.
A new Report Card on State Price Transparency Laws developed by two non-profits – Catalyst for Payment Reform (CPR) and the Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute (HCI3) – “aims to improve the information available to consumers about prices for health care services and encourage further effort in this area. The Report Card takes a comprehensive look at state laws designed to give consumers basic information about the average or expected prices of common health care services and gives only 14 states a ‘C’ or better.” CPR is funded by large employers and other healthcare purchasers.
Michael Milken and Elias Zerhouni wrote an op-ed column in Friday’s Baltimore Sun titled “Sickening Cuts to NIH: We will all suffer when the sequester leads to pulling the plug on promising medical research.” Dr. Zerhouni is the former NIH director and now an executive with Sanofi. Mr. Milken is chairman of Faster Cures.
The CDC has announced that Christopher Portier, PhD, Director of CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (NCEH/ATSDR), has announced his retirement, effective March 29, 2013. Beginning April 1, 2013, Robin Ikeda, MD, MPH, (Captain, U.S. Public Health Service), will assume the duties of NCEH/ATSDR Director in addition to her role as CDC Deputy Director, Office of Noncommunicable Diseases, Injury and Environmental Health. A search for Dr. Portier’s permanent replacement will soon begin.
Our colleagues at COSSA report that Dr. Edward Sondik has “announced his plans to retire and step down as Director of the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which he has led for 17 years. Before joining NCHS in 1996, Sondik worked at the National Cancer Institute and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. In a message to staff, CDC Director Tom Freiden praised Sondik’s leadership and his ‘unwavering dedication to data and science as the cornerstone of effective public health action.’ On April 1, Charles J. Rothwell, current head of NCHS’s Division of Vital Statistics, will take over as Acting Director as CDC begins its search for a replacement.”
The Canada Gairdner International Awards were announced this week. Harvey J. Alter (NIH), Daniel W. Bradley (CDC) and Michael Houghton (U. of Alberta) were selected for their contributions to the discovery and isolation of the hepatitis C virus. Dr. Houghton has declined the award, reportedly because two collaborators were not also honored. Stephen Joseph Elledge (Harvard) is being honored for his work in DNA repair, and Sir Gregory Winter (MRC, Cambridge) is honored for creating synthetic human antibodies. Dr. King K. Holmes (U. of Washington) was selected for the Canada Gairdner Global Health Award for his work on defining and treating HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. The Canada Gairdner Wightman Award selection is Dr. James C. Hogg (U. of British Columbia) for his research and leadership in the field of chronic respiratory diseases.
Medical practice groups reported an average turnover rate of 6.8 percent in 2012, according to the 8th annual Physician Retention Survey from Cejka Search and the American Medical Group Association (AMGA). This is the highest rate since the survey began. The survey also reported turnover of 11.5 percent among advanced practice clinicians (APCs), which includes physician assistants and nurse practitioners. This is essentially unchanged from 2011, the first year APC data was collected.
The AAMC Group on Diversity and Inclusion (GDI) has posted a new resource: “GDI Navigator to Excellence: Summaries of Disability Articles in Academic Medicine: 2001-2012.” According to an announcement from the Group, “This resource summarizes selected articles published between 2001 and 2012 that explore the nuances of the term disability, new options for training doctors to care for people with disabilities, and the endeavor of educating physicians with disabilities.”
Sunday’s New York Times featured a column from Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel and more than 20 other oncologists titled, “A Plan to Fix Cancer Care.”
Dr. Wendy Baldwin, former NIH Deputy Director for Extramural Research and now head of the Population Reference Bureau, recently authored a commentary on “Youth Are Critical to Stemming the Worldwide Tide of Chronic Disease,” in the Journal of Research on Adolescence. Dr. Baldwin wrote, “Adolescence may be the ‘last best chance’ to address some of the behaviors that can have significant repercussions for an individual’s health trajectory, specifically the path to noncommunicable diseases (NCDs).” She noted that “Nearly 80% of NCD deaths occur in low- and middle-income (developing) countries…”
Dr. Robert Bazell on Friday announced that he will be leaving his position as NBC News’ chief science and health correspondent to serve as an adjunct professor in the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology at the Yale School of Medicine. Dr. Bazell has been with NBC for 38 years. He earned his Ph.D. in immunology from UC, Berkeley.
Karen E. Anderson, MD, has been named director of the Huntington Disease Care, Education and Research Center, a joint endeavor of Georgetown University Medical Center and MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.
Dr. William Brinkman has announced he will step down in April as head of the Dept. of Energy’s Office of Science. He was a professor of physics at Princeton before joining DOE.
Christopher R. Mosley, FACHE, DSL, has been named Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Grady Health System in Atlanta, which is affiliated with both Emory and Morehouse Schools of Medicine. Most recently, Mr. Mosley served as Senior Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer of Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami.
Robin Lorenz, M.D., Ph.D., has been appointed to the new position of Assistant Dean for Physician-Scientist Education, at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Medicine. Dr. Lorenz is the director of the UAB Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP).
Joe Selby, MD, MPH, Executive Director, Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, announced on Thursday that Anne Beal, MD, MPH, PCORI’s Deputy Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer, has been named to the newly created position of Chief Officer for Engagement (COE). Dr. Selby said, “Dr. Beal’s transition to COE will take place over the coming months once we have identified a new full-time COO to support our growing administrative, programmatic, and research funding activities. She will continue to serve as Deputy Executive Director after she takes on her new duties.”
March 24 is World TB Day. The CDC reported on Thursday, “In 2012, a total of 9,951 new tuberculosis (TB) cases were reported in the United States, an incidence of 3.2 cases per 100,000 population. This represents a decrease of 6.1% from the incidence reported in 2011 and is the 20th consecutive year of declining rates.” The CDC further reported that while TB was reported in every state, four states (California, Texas, New York, and Florida) reported half of all TB cases in the United States.
And finally…In a special report, the new issue of Stanford Medicine magazine tells blood’s story, from 17th-century attempts at blood transfusion to the workings of a modern blood bank to today’s studies of gene therapy to treat hemophilia. As Goethe’s Mephistopheles said, “Blood is a very special juice.”
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