AAMC News and Leadership Announcements, 2013 July 28

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

The American Osteopathic Association (AOA) and the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) announced that they have been unsuccessful in reaching an agreement on a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for a unified graduate medical education accreditation system. The AOA and AACOM said they “remain open to continued discussions.”

An Institute of Medicine panel reported this week that “a ‘geographic value index’ that would tie Medicare payment rates to the health benefits and costs of health services in particular regions of the country should not be adopted by Congress.” The committee concluded “that decisions about health care generally are made at the level of the physician or organization, such as a hospital, not at the regional level. Because individual physician performance varies, sometimes even within a single practice group, an index based on regions is unlikely to encourage more efficient behavior among individual providers, and therefore, is unlikely to improve the overall value of health care.” The new report reiterates the findings of the committee’s interim report released in March 2013. The report was requested by Congress.

Paul DeWolf, who was entering his fourth year as a medical student at the University of Michigan and was a second lieutenant in the United States Air Force, was found dead on Wednesday at his residence at the Phi Rho Sigma medical fraternity. The Ann Arbor News reported that the police are investigating the death as a homicide.

Dr. Autumn Klein, chief of the division of women’s neurology at UPMC, died in April. Police and the local district attorney filed an affidavit this week stating that she had died of cyanide poisoning. Her husband, Robert Ferrante, PhD, has been arrested and charged in her death. Dr. Ferrante is a Professor of Neurological Surgery, Neurology, and Neurobiology at the University of Pittsburgh. An undated UPMC web site reports that he also is the Director of the Translational Therapeutics Laboratory, and Co-Director of the Center for ALS Research at the school, and also a Health Research Scientist in the Geriatric Research Educational and Clinical Center at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System.

The Sunday New York Times book review section featured an interview with Dr. Francis Collins, director of NIH, on his favorite books.

Dr. Kim A. Wilcox, the former provost of Michigan State University, has been named the new chancellor of the University of California at Riverside.

The New York Times review section on Sunday featured an essay titled, “The Hype Over Hospital Rankings.”

In a July 19 statement, the Framingham Heart Study (FHS) announced it expects to lose $4 million, or approximately 40 percent of its funding from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), as a result of sequestration. According to the statement, the funding reduction will result in a “reduction in workforce,” as well as “reductions in clinic exams and lab operations.” FHS, established in 1948, is the longest running cardiovascular epidemiological study in the world and has involved over 15,000 people, spanning three generations of Framingham, Massachusetts, residents and their offspring.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has posted a revised notice on how it is managing the sequester.

The European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) on Wednesday announced their endorsement of joint “Principles for Responsible Clinical Trial Data Sharing: Our Commitment to Patients and Researchers.” According to a joint statement, “Under the new commitments, biopharmaceutical companies will dramatically increase the amount of information available to researchers, patients, and members of the public.” An article in the New York Times on the announcement quoted Dr. Harlan M. Krumholz of Yale as saying, “What they are doing would have been thought to be inconceivable even a short time ago…If these companies truly fulfill these promises, then they will have made an important contribution to science and the common good.” The article continued, “But he said their efforts would need to be monitored.”

Dr. Lisa Rosenbaum, a cardiologist, has posted an essay on The New Yorker web site on the problems with patient satisfaction surveys. She concluded her essay, “…do higher scores on a satisfaction survey translate into better health? So far, the answer seems to be no. A recent study examined patient satisfaction among more than fifty thousand patients over a seven-year period, and two findings were notable. The first was that the most satisfied patients incurred the highest costs. The second was that the most satisfied patients had the highest rates of mortality. While with studies like this one it is always critical to remember that correlation does not equal causation, the data should give us pause. Good medicine, it seems, does not always feel good.”

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has announced the selection of six health professionals as this year’s cohort of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Health Policy Fellows.

The journal Cell has posted various perspectives on the impact of the sequester on research, including those of Drs. Francis Collins, Robert Tjian, Thomas D. Pollard, Robert Weinberg, and Rong Li.

Sunday’s Columbus Dispatch featured a profile of Dr. Hagop Mekhjian, who recently stepped down as chief medical officer at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center.

In a notice posted on Thursday, NIH announced its intent to reissue revised funding opportunity announcements (FOA) for “Opportunities for Collaborative Research at the NIH Clinical Center.” In addition to a revised U01 FOA, NIH will issue a related X02 FOA that utilizes a pre-application mechanism. The notice contains FY 2015 and 2016 key application and review dates. NIH also announced that, “To assist extramural (non-NIH) investigators in identifying opportunities for collaboration, NIH has created a web site for Investigator Access to the NIH Clinical Center.”

The Washington Post on Friday printed a Center for Public Integrity article on how budget cuts are reducing the staffing and the number of investigations at the HHS Office of Inspector General. The article reported that the OIG’s office is losing about 20 percent of its workforce, or about 400 staff members.

The NIH on Tuesday posted a notice encouraging institutions to develop individual development plans for graduate students and postdoctoral researchers. The recent ACD Working Group on the Biomedical Workforce recommended that “NIH should require individual development plans (IDPs) for all NIH-supported postdoctoral researchers, whether on training grants, fellowships, or research project grants.” NIH is not making plan development mandatory, but also is encouraging them for graduate students.

An article in Friday’s Wall Street Journal described civil investigations into a network of physician-owned spinal-implant distributorships operated by two former medical-device company employees, the people with knowledge of the matter say. This network, which was run out of Utah and comprised at least 11 physician-owned distributorships in six states, generated tens of millions of dollars in profits for its investors over six years. The article reported, “Physician-owned distributorships, or PODs, have proliferated in medicine. Distributorships, whether owned by physicians or not, act as intermediaries between medical-device makers and hospitals: In exchange for marketing and stocking devices, the distributors get a cut of each sale. When surgeons own the distributorship, that commission goes into their pockets. And since surgeons often dictate to their hospitals which devices to buy, they can effectively steer business to themselves.”

On August 1, the Association of School of Public Health officially becomes the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH). The new entity will welcome over 30 public health programs in addition to the 50 accredited schools of public health.

Thomas P. Loughran, Jr., MD, has been named director of the University of Virginia Cancer Center, F. Palmer Weber-Smithfield Foods Professor of Oncology Research and Professor of Medicine. He will begin on Aug. 15. He has been the founding director of the Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute since 2002. Dr. Wafik El-Deiry has been named interim director of the Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute, effective Aug. 1.

Timothy D. Henry, MD, has joined the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute as director of Cardiology. Dr. Henry most recently was director of research for the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation and professor of medicine at the University of Minnesota School of Medicine. He succeeds Prediman K. Shah, MD, who has led the Division of Cardiology for nearly 20 years. Dr. Shah will remain on the faculty to focus on patient care and on basic and clinical research.

Elisabeth J. Van Bockstaele, Ph.D., has been named the founding dean of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and Professional Studies of Drexel University College of Medicine, effective September 1, 2013. Dr. Van Bockstaele will join Drexel from Thomas Jefferson University, where she is a professor in the Department of Neuroscience, and the founding director of the Graduate Program in Neuroscience in the Jefferson Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.

Stanford University recently announced the creation of a new independent institute – the Institute for Chemical Biology. According to the school, “Formed in partnership with the schools of Medicine, Humanities and Sciences, and Engineering, and engaging with the schools of Law, Education, and Business, its mission is to strengthen the chemical foundations of biomedical science and to accelerate molecular discoveries that transform human health.” Dr. Chaitan Khosla, a professor of chemistry and of chemical engineering, will direct the new institute.

Henry R. Kranzler, M.D., has been named Director of the Center for Studies of Addiction in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania. The Center for Studies of Addiction, which was established in 1971 as a clinical research and treatment center for addictive disorders, consists of a multidisciplinary group of faculty and staff that conducts research on the etiology and pathogenesis of addictions, as well as clinical trials of pharmacologic and psychotherapeutic treatments for a variety of addictive disorders. Dr. Kranzler is Professor of Psychiatry, having moved to Penn in 2010 after a lengthy career at the University of Connecticut Health Center. He succeeds Dr. Charles P. O’Brien, the founding Director of the Center for Studies of Addiction. Dr. O’Brien will continue his research at the Center.

Michigan State University has appointed Suresh K. Mukherji, MD, FACR as professor and chairperson of its Department of Radiology, a unit that is jointly administered by the College of Osteopathic Medicine and College of Human Medicine. His appointment is effective Aug. 1. Dr. Mukherji joins the Spartans from the University of Michigan, where he served as division director of neuroradiology.

The Cancer Letter reported on Friday that Dr. Richard Van Etten has been appointed director of the Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center at UC Irvine. Dr. Van Etten is the former head of the Tufts Cancer Center and the former chief of the Division of Hematology/Oncology at Tufts Medical Center. (Subscription may be necessary.)

Our colleagues at Public Responsibility in Medicine & Research have announced two new webinars: “Doing More with Less: Best IRB Practices for Institutions with Small Research Programs” (September 18, 1:00-2:30 PM ET) and “AVMA Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals: Key Changes in 2013” (November 12, 1:00-2:30 PM ET).

The American Society for Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET) announced the appointment of Judith Siuciak, PhD, as Executive Officer, effective August 19. She succeeds Christine K. Carrico, Ph.D., who served with distinction as ASPET’s Executive Officer for the past 16 years. Dr. Siuciak brings diverse experience from the academic, industry and non-profit sectors and is currently a Scientific Program Manager for the Biomarkers Consortium at the Foundation for the NIH.

Tony Mazzaschi

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

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