AAMC News and Leadership Announcements, 2013 Sept. 10

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

The recipients of the 2013 Lasker Awards have been announced. The Awards, sponsored by the Lasker Foundation, are among the most respected science prizes in the world.
+ The 2013 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award honors Richard H. Scheller (Genentech) and Thomas C. Südhof (Stanford University School of Medicine) for their discoveries “concerning rapid neurotransmitter release, a process that underlies all of the brain’s activities.”
+ The 2013 Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award honors Graeme M. Clark (Emeritus, University of Melbourne), Ingeborg Hochmair (MED-EL, Innsbruck), and Blake S. Wilson (Duke University) who “developed the modern cochlear implant, a device that restores hearing to individuals with profound deafness.”
+ The 2012 Lasker-Bloomberg Public Service Award honors Bill Gates and Melinda Gates, “For leading a historic transformation in the way we view the globe’s most pressing health concerns and improving the lives of millions of the world’s most vulnerable.”

Brett P. Giroir, M.D., will assume the role of interim executive vice president for Texas A&M Health Science Center, effective Oct. 1, 2013, and will be nominated by Chancellor John Sharp to become the interim CEO for the health science center at the next regularly scheduled meeting of The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents. Dr. Giroir, a physician-scientist whose work has focused on infectious diseases, joined the A&M System in 2008, most recently serving as vice chancellor for strategic initiatives.

Bloomberg on Tuesday distributed a story titled, “DeVry Lures Medical School Rejects as Taxpayers Fund Debt.” Based on an article that will appear in the upcoming issue of Bloomberg Market, the story highlights the debt levels of students who attend DeVry’s two medical schools in the Caribbean (Ross and AUC), many of whom fail to graduate or do not obtain a residency position in the U.S. According to the article, “The loans, which totaled about $310 million in the year ended June 2012, leave the U.S. taxpayer — not DeVry — on the hook if students should fail to get jobs and be unable to repay them.” The article also discusses DeVry’s clerkship slot purchases in the U.S.

Rutgers University’s Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy have announced a new PharmD/MD dual degree program. According to Rutgers, “The 10-year program, available only to students enrolled in the PharmD program at the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy, will integrate core instruction in basic and clinical sciences with clinical clerkships and rotations, to train health care professionals as leaders in policy, research, and clinical settings, according to Peter S. Amenta, dean, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.” The PharmD/MD program is considered to the first of its kind.

The Census Bureau on Monday released two new reports, “Disparities in STEM Employment by Sex, Race, and Hispanic Origin,” and, “The Relationship Between Science and Engineering Education and Employment in STEM Occupations.” The reports show that, “Growth in women’s share of science, technology, engineering and mathematics occupations — commonly referred to as STEM jobs — has slowed since the 1990s… because their share in computer occupations declined to 27 percent in 2011 after reaching a high of 34 percent in 1990.” The reports also document that Blacks and Hispanics remain underrepresented in STEM jobs.

NIH has not changed its “no-cost extension” policy, according to a posting by Dr. Sally Rockey, NIH Deputy Director for Extramural Research, on her web site on Monday. Dr. Rockey wrote, “I have detected conversation swirling in our community about a rumored change in NIH’s policy for granting no-cost extensions… Thankfully this is not true – our no-cost extension policy remains intact.” She goes on to give some background “on project periods and the budget process, and clarify the policies that may have led to this misconception.”

The Baton Rouge Advocate reported on Monday, “LSU is asking [the LCME] to allow it to operate a Baton Rouge branch of its New Orleans-based medical school. It’s the first step toward having a full-blown medical school campus in Baton Rouge as LSU looks to train more physicians to address in-state shortages.”

The University of Nevada School of Medicine and Renown Health, the region’s largest integrated health care network, on Monday announced they have formed a steering committee to discuss a formal strategic partnership between the two organizations.

The submission deadline of September 15 is approaching for the AAMC’s video competition, “Light-years Beyond Flexner: Academic Medicine in 2033.” The competition challenges member medical schools to envision the innovations of the future of academic medicine. Schools interested in participating are asked to form a team and submit a two-minute video depicting any aspect of medical school or medical education 20 years into the future. The winning school will receive a “Golden Ticket” redeemable for one registration at the 2014 AAMC Annual Meeting and 10 additional AAMC meetings in 2014.

Sunday’s New York Times reported on efforts at Harvard Business School to advance gender equity. The article reported that the “… aggressive program intended to foster female success brought improvements, but also resentment and uncertainty.” The article highlighted the role academic leadership can play in advancing a change in culture. The on-line version of the article features various perspectives both on the article and program from current and past business school students.

A detailed article posted by Slate and the Tampa Bay Times delves into the reasons that life spans have doubled.

The New York Times on Tuesday highlighted a recent study showing significant lapses in reporting problems with robotic surgical equipment. According to the article in the Times, “Between January 2000 and August 2012, thousands of mishaps were reported to the F.D.A. In the vast majority of cases, the patient was not harmed, but among the reports were 174 injuries and 71 deaths related to da Vinci surgery, according to a study published last week in The Journal for Healthcare Quality. Yet by combing news reports and court records, researchers at Johns Hopkins were able to find examples of botched operations that were not reported to the agency. They concluded that adverse events associated with the da Vinci were ‘vastly underreported.’ ”

Joseph P. Newhouse, PhD, and Alan M. Garber, MD, PhD, authored a commentary posted by JAMA on Friday titled, “Geographic Variation in Health Care Spending in the United States: Insights From an Institute of Medicine Report.” The authors wrote that the IOM panel, “… concluded that payment should provide appropriate incentives for care. Several payment changes being tested by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (such as shared savings programs) do just that by giving physicians and hospitals incentives to increase the quality and control the quantity of services they deliver. However, the committee did not endorse area-wide incentives (such as increased payments per service in low-cost areas) because doing so would not have the desired effects on individual clinician behavior. Geographic variation is best addressed by ensuring that payment and other incentives support the goals of the health care system: better quality and lower costs.”

The W. Montague Cobb-NMA Health Institute has launched the Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities. The Editor-in-Chief is Cato T. Laurencin, M.D., Ph.D., from the University of Connecticut, and the publisher is Springer. The journal will report “on the scholarly progress of work to understand, address, and ultimately eliminate health disparities based on race and ethnicity.” The first issue will be published in early 2014, and the journal is now accepting submissions.

Joshua M. Cooper, MD, FACC, FHRS, has been appointed Professor of Medicine at Temple University School of Medicine, and Director of Electrophysiology at Temple University Hospital, effective September 9, 2013.  Dr. Cooper was most recently an Associate Professor of Medicine at Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and an Attending Physician in the Cardiac Electrophysiology Section at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

The AAMC has named two new additions to its leadership team. Diana Bourke will join as the association’s new chief information officer, and Constance Filling will take on a newly created position as the AAMC’s first chief learning officer. Both will join the association this month. Most recently, Ms. Bourke served as senior vice president of operations and technology at LifeCare, Inc. Ms. Filling previously served as chief education officer of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS).

Loyola University Chicago (LUC) has appointed Amy Luke, PhD, professor of Public Health Sciences at LUC Stritch School of Medicine, as director of the new LUC Institute of Public Health. Dr. Luke’s responsibilities include development of research, educational, and community outreach components that incorporate faculty expertise from throughout the university. The institute is dedicated to the reduction of disease and health disparities due to racial, ethnic, socio-economic, environmental or gender factors.

Dr. Robert Hernandez has been named Executive Associate Dean for Student Affairs at the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine of Florida International University. He has been at the school since 2011, having earlier been on the faculty of the University of Miami.

Jeffrey R. Martens, Ph.D., has been appointed chairman of the department of pharmacology and therapeutics at the University of Florida College of Medicine. Dr. Martens is currently an associate professor of pharmacology and chairman of the pharmacology graduate program at the University of Michigan.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has issued a clarification to its summary of Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project Statistical Brief #156, which I cited in a recent posting. The summary should have read: “In 2010, more than 70 percent of injury-related emergency department visits among persons age 65 and older were related to falls.” The qualifier “injury-related” was omitted in the initial posting by AHRQ.

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.

PPS: Registration is now open for the 2013 AAMC Annual Meeting, November 1-6, in Philadelphia.


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