AAMC News and Leadership Announcements, 2013 Sept. 25

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

An article in Wednesday’s Washington Post reported, “The deep across-the-board cuts in government spending that took effect March 1 have sent shock waves through the nation’s research labs, delaying research and forcing layoffs. The budget for the National Institutes of Health, the world’s largest funder of biomedical research, shrank 5.5 percent. The National Science Foundation budget was trimmed by 2.1 percent… The sequester has affected all parts of the government but the impact has been especially painful to those in biomedical research, where federal investment in inflation-adjusted dollars has decreased every year since 2003.”

In a blog posting on Tuesday titled, “One Nation in Support of Biomedical Research?” Dr. Francis Collins and Dr. Sally Rockey of the NIH discuss how research is being affected by the federal funding crisis. They provided data that shows how NIH applicants are being affected while competitor nations are expanding their levels of investment in research.

The McArthur Foundation on Tuesday announced its new group of McCarthur Fellows. Among the 24 recipients of “genius grants” are:
+ Dr. Jeffrey Brenner, a primary care physician and founder and ececutive director of Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers. He also is the medical director of the Urban Health Institute at the Cooper University Healthcare and on the faculty of the Cooper Medical School at Rowan University.
+ Dr. Sheila Nirenberg, a neuroscientist and an Associate Professor, Department of Physiology and Biophysics, Weill Cornell Medical College.

Harvard Business Review and the New England Journal of Medicine have made available a new web site, “Leading Health Care Innovation.” It is described as “an eight-week online forum devoted to helping leaders, managers, and others in health care increase value by improving patient outcomes and reducing costs.”

The New York Times on Wednesday reported that Representative Louise M. Slaughter (D-NY) “is asking the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to investigate employer wellness programs that seek intimate health information from employees, and to issue guidelines preventing employers from using such programs to discriminate against workers.” The article noted that the request “came a few days after Pennsylvania State University suspended part of its new employee wellness program that had drawn objections from faculty members.”

The HHS Office of Human Research Protections has revised its response to the Frequently Asked Question (FAQ), “When does compensating subjects undermine informed consent or parental permission?” According to OHRP, “In sum, this FAQ has been changed to clarify that remuneration to subjects may include compensation for risks associated with their participation in research and that compensation may be an acceptable motive for some individuals agreeing to participate in research. It has also been revised to focus more specifically on issues related to consent.”

The NIH has announced the recipients of its NIH Director’s Broadening Experience in Scientific Training (BEST) awards. The initial BEST awards are supported by the NIH Common Fund’s Strengthening the Biomedical Research Workforce program. The program is intended “to enhance training opportunities for graduate students and postdoctoral scholars to prepare them for careers in the biomedical research workforce that could take them outside of conventional academic research.”

Hazelden and the Betty Ford Center announced on Tuesday that they are merging and will be known as the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation.  According to the announcement, “The combined entity will constitute the largest nonprofit addiction treatment provider in the country.”

In late August, the journal PNAS published a supplement on communicating science. The articles in the supplement were part of “The Science of Science Communication Sackler Colloquium,” held at the National Academies in May 2012. The Sackler Colloquium on the same topic was held this week.

A recent article in the journal, Systems Research and Behavioral Science, discussed the academic job market for current PhD graduates. The article, “Too Many PhD Graduates or Too Few Academic Job Openings: The Basic Reproductive Number R0 in Academia, ” reported that an average faculty member in a US higher education institution’s engineering department graduates 7.8 (R0=7.8) new PhDs during her or his career. If the number of faculty positions remains constant, a tenure-track position is only available for 1/7.8, that is 12.8% of new PhD graduates. In order to have faculty openings in the USA for 50% of the graduates, the whole field would need to grow at an improbable rate of 14% every year. The authors note that some fields have R0 much higher than average, such as biomedical (R0 = 13.6) and environmental engineering (R0 = 19.0).

“The Privacy Conundrum and Genomic Research: Re-Identification And Other Concerns,” was the topic of a recent essay by Joel Kupersmith, MD, posted on the Health Affairs blog site. Dr. Kupersmith is the CEO of Kupersmith Associates, a medical research and healthcare consulting firm, and until June 2013, Chief Research and Development Officer of the Veterans Health Administration.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported on Tuesday that Michael Moritz, a venture capitalist, and Harriet Heyman, a former editor at the New York Times, have donated $30 million to UCSF to support Ph.D. students. The article reported, “UCSF will match $25 million of the gift and will raise an additional $5 million from at least 500 donors, university officials said.” The Chronicle reported, “The massive gift – the largest ever for doctoral students at the University of California – will fund programs in cell biology, biochemistry, neuroscience and other basic science programs that are key to solving medical mysteries and developing cures and treatments.” The donor was quoted in the article as saying, “It’s easy to finance buildings. But it’s what happens inside the buildings that’s what’s important.”

Phil Knight, co-founder of Nike, announced on Friday that he and his wife will contribute $500 million for cancer research at OHSU, if the school can match it in the next two years. In other development news, Harvard kicked off a $6.5 billion fundraising campaign, “an effort that, if successful, would be the largest ever in higher education.” Separately, Harvard announced that its endowment had an 11.3 percent investment return last year and now has a value of $32.7 billion.

The AAMC and The Patrick and Catherine Weldon Donaghue Medical Research Foundation have announced the recipients of the 2013 funding opportunity titled, “Advancing Effectiveness Research and Implementation Science in our Own Backyards: AAMC/Donaghue Grant Opportunity for Academic Medical Centers.” For this funding opportunity, researchers developed proposals focusing on priority health improvement topics that actively engage their health system and educational enterprise. Based on competitive peer review, Jeffery A. Gold, M.D., of Oregon Health & Science University and Simon A. Mahler, M.D., M.S., of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center were selected to receive the awards.

A recent article in the New York Times, reprinted in several papers, discussed the study of individuals with multiple genomes.

Reuters reported, “Multiple myeloma research advocates on Tuesday will begin providing open Internet access to genetic and research data on hundreds of patients in hopes of speeding the development of new treatments for the deadly blood cancer. The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation’s (MMRF) Researcher Gateway, a $40 million program funded by the foundation and drug company partners, will give researchers around the world access to information, such as specific patient gene mutations associated with the disease and how patients respond to treatment.”

A study published in PLoS Medicine recently found, “A dramatic rise in the number of physicians trained in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) emigrating to the United States….” According to a summary, the study found “that migration trends of SSA-educated physicians to America increased dramatically—40 percent overall when compared to the last decade.” It also documented that earlier émigrés (in the 1980s and 1990s) “arrived in the United States eight years after graduation, on average, compared to 2.4 years for the later émigrés.”

Daphne Koller, one of the co-founders of Coursera, was recently interviewed on the “Future of MOOCs in Medical Education.”

Scott Thompson, PhD, has been named Chair of the Department of Physiology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Dr. Thompson is a professor in the Departments of Physiology and Psychiatry. He has been Interim Chair of Physiology since 2011.

Andrew N. Pollak, M.D., an orthopaedic trauma surgeon, has been named the new chairman of the Department of Orthopaedics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Dr. Pollak will also serve as Chief of Orthopaedics at the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC). He was previously Professor of Orthopaedics at the School of Medicine and Chief of Orthopaedics and head of the Division of Orthopaedic Traumatology at the University of Maryland R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center. Dr. Pollak has been serving as interim chair of the department since October 2012. In addition, Dr. Pollak will also serve as System Chief of Orthopaedics for the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS), coordinating orthopaedic efforts across its 12 member hospitals.

James Abbruzzese, MD, has been named the Chief of the Division of Medical Oncology within Duke Department of Medicine, and Associate Director for Clinical Research for the Duke Cancer Institute (DCI), effective November 11, 2013. Currently, Dr. Abbruzzese holds the Waun Ki Hong Distinguished Chair in Translational Oncology and 44 is chairman of the Department of Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology and Digestive Diseases at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

Janis Orlowski, M.D., will join the AAMC as a senior director in Health Care Affairs on Oct. 21. Dr. Orlowski will serve as a senior clinical leader in the Clinical Transformation Unit and will be responsible for leading the Chief Medical Officers Group, the Integrating Quality Initiative, and support development of a Cost of Care program. Dr. Orlowski is currently chief operating officer-chief medical officer at Washington Hospital Center.

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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