AAMC News and Leadership Announcements, 2013 Aug. 26

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

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) on Wednesday announced that it is on track to spend over $400 million on research awards in 2013. PCORI Executive Director Dr. Joe Selbey said, “We’ve awarded $88.6 million already this year through the broad funding announcements tied to our national research priorities and committed another $30 million through a topic-specific announcement on preventing fall-related injuries in older adults. Between September and December, we plan to approve up to an additional $300 million for patient-centered outcomes research projects.” PCORI has posted additional funding allocation data on its web page.

Proposed revisions to the Common Program Requirements (exceptions to eligibility requirements) and an impact statement have been posted on the ACGME website for review and comment. Comments will be accepted until September 9, 2013. The proposed revisions will become effective July 1, 2015.

University of Colorado Health (UCHealth) announced on Friday that President Rulon Stacey and CEO Bruce Schroffel will resign effective January 31, 2014. Bill Neff, MD, who currently serves as UCHealth’s Chief Medical Officer, will serve as interim President and CEO beginning on October 1. On October 1, Mr. Stacey and Mr. Schroffel will become special advisors to the UCHealth Board. UCHealth announced that its Board of Directors will soon begin a national search for a new president and CEO and that the positions will now be combined. According to the Denver Post, Mr. Schroffel is indicating he will retire and Mr. Stacey “will pursue other opportunities in health care management…”

The Kaiser Family Foundation/Health Research & Educational Trust (HRET) reported this week that annual premiums for employer-sponsored family health coverage reached $16,351 this year, up 4 percent from last year, with workers on average paying $4,565 toward the cost of their coverage. Wages and general inflation were up 1.8 percent and 1.1 percent respectively during the same period.

The World Health Organization has issued the “World Health Report 2013: Research for Universal Health Coverage.” The WHO said, “The report shows how countries, when developing a system for universal health coverage, can use research to determine what health issues should be addressed, how a system should be structured and how to measure progress according to their specific health situation.” The report further stated that, “…on average, domestic investment in research in low- and middle-income countries has been growing 5% each year. This trend is most visible in emerging economies such as Brazil, China and India, all of which have embraced the concept of universal health coverage.”

The Sacramento Bee on Sunday reported, “Two UC Davis neurosurgeons who intentionally infected three brain-cancer patients with bowel bacteria have resigned their posts after the university found they had ‘deliberately circumvented’ internal policies, ‘defied directives’ from top leaders and sidestepped federal regulations, according to newly released university documents.”

An article written by the Texas Tribune news service and posted by the New York Times on Thursday discussed efforts to address the physician shortage in the Lone Star State. According to the article, “Texas lawmakers invested millions of additional dollars in the 2013 legislative session to address a looming physician shortage. Voters and university regents have rubber-stamped plans to open two new medical schools, in Austin and the Rio Grande Valley. But those moves have not placated the medical community, which remains concerned that Texas has no long-term solution to produce enough physicians, particularly in primary care, to support the surging population.” The article highlighted the shortage of residency training slots in Texas.

AAMC President and CEO Darrell G. Kirch, M.D., issued a statement on Tuesday about the appointment of Richard Kronick, Ph.D., as the new director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). Dr. Kirch said, “The AAMC congratulates Dr. Kronick on his appointment to succeed Carolyn Clancy, M.D., as director of AHRQ. As the agency that supports initiatives to improve patient safety, eliminate health disparities, and sponsor other health services research, AHRQ plays a critical role in ongoing efforts to improve the quality and effectiveness of patient care. The AAMC and its member institutions look forward to continuing their work with HHS and Dr. Kronick as, together, we transform health care in this country and train the next generation of health services professionals.”

The Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) has released its findings from the 2013 CGS International Graduate Admissions Survey, Phase II: Final Applications and Initial Offers of Admission. The CGS reported, “Applications from prospective international students to U.S. graduate schools increased 2 percent in 2013, marking the eighth consecutive year of growth.” The number of international graduate applications in the life sciences decreased by 7 percent from 2012 to 2013.

Akron General Health System announced on Thursday that it “has signed a non-binding letter of intent and entered into exclusive discussions with a subsidiary of Community Health Systems, Inc. and the Cleveland Clinic to form a strategic partnership that would provide clinical and capital resources, strengthening Akron General financially while preserving the health system’s century-long mission of offering outstanding care for area residents.” According to Akron General, the “proposed sale of the system’s assets to a newly formed joint venture would position Akron General for long-term stability and growth during a period of dynamic changes across the health care industry while also maintaining strong local leadership.”

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) on Friday released a report on the Department of Veterans’ Affairs performance pay policy that affects health care providers at the VA’s 152 medical centers and 21 networks. The GAO recommended “that VA clarify the performance pay policy, by specifying the purpose and documentation requirements and that VHA review performance pay goals for consistency with the purpose, and improve oversight to ensure compliance. ” The VA said it generally agreed with GAO’s conclusions and recommendations.

Sunday’s issue of the Washington Post featured a column by George Will lauding President Obama’s BRAIN initiative, “which aims at understanding how brain regions and cells work together, moment to moment, throughout our lives.” Mr. Will’s column is nationally syndicated.

The new issue of University Business featured an interview with Stephen Trachtenberg, the former president of George Washington University, on a new book he co-authored on failed university presidents. The interviewer noted that “Not too long ago, the average tenure of a college or university president was 8.5 years, but with the increasing demands of the job, it’s no surprise that number is shrinking.” The book is titled, “Why Presidencies Derailed: Why University Leaders Fail and How to Prevent It.”

The American Society for Bone and Mineral Research (ASBMR) has announced that it will pledge $1,000,000 “to fund critical research for its members through the newly established Grants in Aid Program (GAP). The program is in response to flat lined research budgets and the difficult funding climate worldwide that has reduced or eliminated funding for bone and mineral research.” According to ASBMR, “The GAP program will offer $50,000 USD grants each to 20 ASBMR members who have submitted a peer-reviewed grant application within the last 15 months to a major funding sponsor, such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) or other major funder outside the United States, but because of fiscal constraints was not funded.”

The AAMC Group on Faculty Affairs (GFA) presented their annual Carole J. Bland Phronesis Award earlier this month to Laura Schweitzer, Ph.D. The award was established to commemorate the legacy of Dr. Carole Bland, former assistant dean for faculty development at the University of Minnesota Medical School, and serves to honor members of the faculty affairs community who exemplify the spirit of phronesis — or, seeking and enabling the development and success of others — through dedicated and selfless promotion of faculty vitality. Having previously held key leadership positions at SUNY Upstate, Syracuse University, Bassett Healthcare and the University of Louisville, Dr. Schweitzer is now the President of Union Graduate College in Schenectady, NY.

The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday featured a lengthy story on how the health care reform effort will impact Hispanics in the U.S. According to the article, the Hispanic population is “a segment of the U.S. population that offers huge opportunity but also presents many challenges.”

USA Today this week posted a story and video feature that asserted, “Thousands of doctors are able to continue practicing despite records of serious misconduct that puts patients at risk. Many of those doctors have had their clinical privileges restricted or taken away by hospitals, HMOs and other health care institutions, but their state medical boards have taken no action against their licenses to practice.”

UPMC on Thursday reported that its operating margin fell from 3.6 percent in fiscal 2012 to 1.8 percent for the fiscal year ending June 30.

The Wall Street Journal on Friday featured a story on the implementation of the Sunshine Act, which mandates the public reporting of most pharmaceutical company payments to physicians.

Our colleagues at Public Responsibility in Medicine and Research (PRIM&R) will host a “Hot Topics for IOs, a 2013 Advancing Ethical Research (AER) Pre-Conference” program designed specifically for institutional officials (IO) interested in discussing best practices and common concerns with experts and peers. Hot Topics for IOs is a full-day course, taking place on November 6 in Boston, that aims to address critical issues faced by IOs and their range of responsibilities, including ensuring the conduct of ethical research and maintaining effective compliance programs.

Clarence H. Braddock III, M.D., M.P.H., has been named Vice Dean for Education at the David Geffen School of Medicine (DGSOM) at UCLA, beginning November 1, 2013. Dr. Braddock currently serves as Associate Dean of Undergraduate and Graduate Medical Education at Stanford University, as well as Director of the Stanford Center for Medical Education Research and Innovation, and Director of Clinical Ethics at the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics. Dr. Braddock also is Professor of Medicine and a practicing internist with particular interest and expertise in bioethics, doctor-patient communication, and shared decision making. According to UCLA, “As Vice Dean for Education in the DGSOM, a newly created position, Dr. Braddock will oversee all aspects of medical education, including undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate medical programs.”

Nashville’s Tennessean newspaper featured an interview this week with Dr. Jeffrey Balser, Vanderbilt’s vice chancellor for health affairs. Dr. Balser discussed the steps Vanderbilt is taking to reduce expenditures, including layoffs.

William Roper, MD, MPH, Dean of the School of Medicine, Vice Chancellor for Medical Affairs, and CEO of University of North Carolina Health Care System, announced this week the appointment of Norman “Ned” Sharpless, MD, as director of the University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, effective January 1, 2014. Dr. Sharpless succeeds H. Shelton “Shelley” Earp, MD, as center director. Dr. Earp will continue as director of UNC Cancer Care, a role in which he coordinates cancer care and research across the School of Medicine, the University and UNC Health Care System.

Dr. Sally Rockey, NIH Deputy Director for Extramural Research, has posted a blog entry on the reporting to NIH of race and ethnicity data regarding clinical research participants on NIH-funded protocols. Dr. Rockey reported on changes in the requirements as well as changes in the reporting format.

The Association of Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP) and the Alliance for Clinical Research Excellence and Safety (ACRES) have created a “strategic alliance… for collaboration among ACRP’s clinical research professionals and ACRES’ global stakeholders in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device fields.” According to the two non-profit organizations, the alliance “will focus on 3 issues: the professional development, training and credentialing of clinical research professionals globally, an expertise of ACRP; the registration and accreditation of ACRP-affiliated sites as members of the ACRES Global Network; and tools and services to enhance safety, quality, compliance, productivity and sustainability of research sites worldwide.”

Brown University and Care New England Health System have named Dr. Maureen G. Phipps the new chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and assistant dean for Teaching and Research on Women’s Health in the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, and chief of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island and the executive chief of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Care New England. Dr. Phipps has been serving as interim chair.

President Obama this week released “an ambitious new agenda to combat rising college costs and make college affordable for American families.” The White House has released a fact sheet on the initiative.

Duke will formally launch the Duke Institute for Health Innovation (DIHI) in September, at the “Inaugural Summit on Transformative Innovation in Health Care.” The institute is a Duke University-wide initiative that will engage faculty across schools and disciplines. DIHI will be housed administratively in Duke Medicine.

The Board of Directors of the National Postdoctoral Association (NPA) has announced the appointment of Belinda J. Huang, Ph.D., as its new Executive Director, effective August 12, 2013. Dr. Huang succeeds Cathee Johnson Phillips, M.A.

The University of Utah School of Medicine has announced that Wendy Chapman, Ph.D., will be the new chair of its Department of Biomedical Informatics, effective Sept. 1. Dr. Chapman was most recently at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine’s Division of Biomedical Informatics.


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