AAMC News and Leadership Announcements, 2013 Oct. 3

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

As you are undoubtedly aware, the Congress has failed to pass a continuing resolution to fund the government for fiscal year 2014, which began October 1. The Washington Post on Thursday featured an article on the shutdown’s impact on federal research agencies, as well as on U.S. science, innovation, and competitiveness.  The Miami Herald and The Atlantic Magazine also featured articles on the shutdown’s impact on the research community and the patients they are trying to help. The House on Wednesday voted to exempt several popular agencies from the shutdown, including NIH.  The effort was considered a political stunt and not likely to be considered by the Senate.  However, it did produce pages of Congressional Record statements lauding the value to the nation of NIH and the research it funds.  The Congressional Record and the Federal Register are continuing to publish during the shutdown.

AAMC President and CEO Dr. Darrell Kirch’s issued a statement on the shutdown.  He concluded, “We urge Congress and the administration to work together to develop a plan to keep the federal government running. At the same time, we encourage policymakers to consider the dramatic impact that funding cuts to medical research and doctor training will have on the health of the country and the millions of patients who depend on the lifesaving research conducted at, and critical health care services provided by, the nation’s medical schools and teaching hospitals.”

On October 1st, AAMC launched a new suite of web pages dedicated to Health Equity Research and Policy.  The pages aim to provide institutions and researchers with up-to-date information about current health equity-focused funding opportunities, upcoming conferences and meetings, and recently published research.  Additionally, the pages will highlight exemplary AAMC member health equity research-related activity.  Users can also elect to sign up for monthly “AAMC Health Equity Research Updates” by emailing healthequityresearch@aamc.org with their name, institution and title.

AAMC’s Chief Health Care Officer, Joanne Conroy, MD, authored a blog entry on the October 1 opening of the health insurance exchanges created by the passage of the Affordable Care Act. She discussed resources available to educate people about the program.  More importantly, she wrote, “It is easy to forget in the tremendous noise surrounding [ACA implementation] that creating access to affordable care for people without health insurance was what the ACA was all about. Denying those people even the most basic coverage sends the message that, at some level, they are expendable: Do we really believe that?”  She reminded us that there are millions of people who are uninsured and that they include colleagues, friends, and relatives “and they deserve basic health insurance coverage… Do not send the message that these people don’t matter.”  She concluded by providing ideas for what each of us can do to help people become aware of the options they have under the ACA and the health care exchanges.

The governing boards of Baylor Health Care System and Scott & White Healthcare on Monday announced the completion of the merger of their two health systems to form the largest not-for-profit health system in the state of Texas. The deal creates a new $8.3 billion organization that will be known as Baylor Scott & White Health.

The Mount Sinai Medical Center and Continuum Health Partners (CHP) on Monday announced completion of their transaction to establish a new, integrated health system called the Mount Sinai Health System.

Tenet on Tuesday announced it has finalized its $4.3 billion purchase of Vanguard, the parent of Detroit Medical Center.

The new issue of the AAMC Reporter features a viewpoint by the two co-secretaries of the LCME, Dan Hunt, M.D, and Barbara Barzansky, Ph.D.  They discuss the LCME’s review of its standards and elements, aimed at clarifying intent.  They also discuss an AAMC-led project to facilitate the web-based submission of all documents related to an LCME survey visit.

Before the federal government shut down, the National Cancer Institute posted a Request for Information regarding NCI’s policy for ensuring the public availability of results from NCI-funded clinical trials.  NCI has posted some specific issues for comment, but is explicitly welcoming broader comments on its policy as well.  Comments are due by November 20.

The family of Paul DeWolf, a 25-year-old medical student at the University of Michigan who was killed in July, is asking the public for help in solving the case.

I recently mentioned the creation of a new Department of Anatomic and Clinical Pathology at Tufts University Medical School.  However, that is just part of a much more significant department restructuring.  According to an article on the reconfiguration, “The seven basic science departments that were in place when [Dr. Harris] Berman assumed the deanship three-and-a-half years ago have been trimmed to four—the existing neuroscience and microbiology departments (two longstanding powerhouses of the medical school) and two newly configured ones.” The new departments are:
+The Department of Developmental, Molecular and Chemical Biology (DMCP).  Dr. Phil Hinds has been named interim chair.
+The Department of Integrative Physiology and Pathobiology (IPP).  Dr. Laura Liscum has been named interim chair.
The article further reported, “Two permanent chairs plus eight new faculty members, divided between DMCB and IPP, are to be hired in the near future.”

The Boston Globe reported on Tuesday, “A federal court has ruled that Boston University can proceed with its decade-long push to study some of the world’s deadliest infectious diseases in a South End laboratory, a decision that leaves the university needing only permission from local health officials before the controversial research can begin.”  The article further reported, “The 192,000-square-foot BU building where the [BSL-4] research would be conducted has sat largely vacant since construction was completed roughly five years ago, as federal reviews and the legal challenges dragged on. But BU opened a small portion of the building, a BSL-2 lab, last year for work on less dangerous germs.”  Litigation in a state court continues, with a hearing in that case scheduled for December.

Before the federal shutdown, the NIH announced “that it was awarding 78 grants “to scientists proposing highly innovative approaches to major contemporary challenges in biomedical research, under the High Risk-High Reward program supported by the National Institutes of Health Common Fund.”  NIH is awarding 12 Pioneer Awards, 41 New Innovator Awards, 10 Transformative Research Awards, and 15 Early Independence Awards. The total funding, which represents contributions from the NIH Common Fund and multiple NIH institutes and centers, is approximately $123 million.

In a commentary in USA Today on Tuesday, Rep. Lamar Smith, chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, and Rep. Eric Cantor, majority leader of the U.S. House of Representatives, attack specific National Science Foundation grants, asserting, “While the NSF spends most of its funds well, we have recently seen far too many questionable grants, especially in the social, behavioral and economic sciences.”  The authors conclude, “Reprioritizing the government’s research spending in favor of improving Americans’ quality of life is not anti-science. It is common sense. We look forward to working with the NSF to address these concerns and to create a better process for evaluating research proposals.”

September 23rd marked the third anniversary of the appointment of the Board of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI).  To mark the anniversary, Dr. Joe Selby, PCORI executive director, posted some highlights of the Institute’s first three years of service.

AAMC is holding a webinar on Thursday October 17th (12-1pm ET) on its “Learning Health System Challenge and Planning Awards.” Although this is a free webinar, registration is required.

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, The Rockefeller University and Weill Cornell Medical College announced on Tuesday that they have formed the Tri-Institutional Therapeutics Discovery Institute, Inc. (Tri-I TDI) and have partnered with Takeda Pharmaceutical Company, Ltd. According to the institutions Tri-I TDA “represents a novel partnership of academic institutions working together to more effectively develop therapeutics that arise from discoveries made in basic science labs.”

The September issue of the Annals of Surgery reports on a survey to “assess readiness of general surgery graduate trainees entering accredited surgical subspecialty fellowships in North America” produced some disturbing results. Of the subspecialty program directors who responded to the survey, “21% felt that new fellows arrived unprepared for the operating room, 38% demonstrated lack of patient ownership, 30% could not independently perform a laparoscopic cholecystectomy, and 66% were deemed unable to operate for 30 unsupervised minutes of a major procedure. With regard to laparoscopic skills, 30% could not atraumatically manipulate tissue, 26% could not recognize anatomical planes, and 56% could not suture. Furthermore, 28% of fellows were not familiar with therapeutic options and 24% were unable to recognize early signs of complications. Finally, it was felt that the majority of new fellows were unable to conceive, design, and conduct research/academic projects.”  The journal published responses to the survey results from a variety of leaders in the surgical community.

Dr. Sidney A. Ribeau, President of Howard University, has announced his resignation, effective at the end of the year. According to the Washington Post, “The board appointed Wayne A.I. Frederick… Howard’s provost since June 2012, as interim president. Frederick, a professor of surgery and a cancer specialist at Howard’s College of Medicine, holds three Howard degrees.”

Kalamazoo on Wednesday celebrated the official topping out of Western Michigan University School of Medicine’s 350,000-square-foot building renovation.  The $68 million renovation and addition started a year ago and is scheduled for completion by June 2014. The original building was donated to the school by MPI Research.  The school is a collaboration between WSU and Kalamazoo’s two teaching hospitals, Borgess Health and Bronson Healthcare, and will matriculate its founding class in the fall of 2014. Hal B. Jenson, MD, is the school’s founding dean.

National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition included a segment on “Wendy Shindler, a nurse [who] works in the waiting room of New York City’s Montefiore Medical Center’s emergency department, where she identifies patients waiting for services who don’t actually need emergency room-level care. The program is an intervention aimed at improving care at the busy Bronx hospital while reducing costs.”

The New Yorker has posted an article titled, “Why Is No One On the First Treatment to Prevent H.I.V.?”  The article concerns the failure of Truvada, a “pre-exposure prophylaxis” or PrEP, to be become more popular despite clinical success.

The Detroit News reported on Monday that the University of Michigan Health System and the U of M Medical School will no longer offer sugary drinks in their cafeterias and vending machines, “banning the sale of everything from sodas to sweetened coffees.”  The article reported, “A growing number of hospitals across the country are doing the same…”

The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) is offering a $5,000 prize for a short video to inform Americans about how federal agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, fund research throughout the country. Video submissions will be accepted through November 30, 2013. The winning entrant will be announced in February 2014.  Last year’s winning entry, “What’s Next,” underscored the importance of federal funding to science and technology, and highlighted the adverse consequences of spending cuts on innovative research.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xesajZ5eRLc (last year’s winning video)

Our colleagues at the Association of American Universities and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities have posted a short, but informative paper on “Understanding the Costs of Federally Sponsored Research at Universities.”  The two-pager concisely discusses direct and indirect (or facilities & administrative – F&A) costs and how they are allocated and calculated.  A related FAQ on indirect costs has also been posted.

The AAMC Group on Diversity and Inclusion is sponsoring a webinar titled, “GDI Navigator to Excellence:  Promoting Scholarship Through Social Media,” on Thursday, October 24, 2013, 2:00 – 3:00 PM EDT. Topics will include how use social media for scholarly research and career advancement, a case study on its effective use, and a review of standards for digital professionalism and safeguarding your online footprint.

David Fine has been named president of the national research institute operated by Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI).  He has been President and CEO of St. Luke’s Episcopal Health System in Houston.  St. Luke’s is now part of CHI. Cliff A. Robertson, MD, MBA, chief operating officer of CHI’s Franciscan Health System, Tacoma, WA, has been named interim CEO for St. Luke’s.

Michael S. Cookson, M.D., M.M.H.C., has been named chair of the Department of Urology at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine. Dr. Cookson joins OU from Vanderbilt University where he was vice chairman of the Department of Urologic Surgery.

Two NIH researchers, Tara Palmore and Julie Segre, have been named Federal Employees of the Year, for their “groundbreaking use of DNA sequencing techniques to end the 2011 outbreak of a hospital-acquired ‘superbug’ that killed seven patients and sickened many others at the National Institutes of Health’s Clinical Center.  Drs. Palmore and Segre, an epidemiologist and genome researcher, are two of the nine Federal employees who received the award.  The Washington Post reported on Thursday that four of the nine awardees have been furloughed as a result of the government shutdown.

Constance A. Howes, FACHE, Esq., president and CEO of Women & Infants Hospital, on Tuesday announced her decision to step down from the position. In her place, Mark Marcantano, currently executive vice president and chief operating officer at Women & Infants, has been named acting president of the hospital by Care New England President and Chief Executive Officer Dennis D. Keefe.  According to the hospital, Ms. Howes “will assist [Dr.] Marcantano with the transition over the next six months and then will continue to serve at the Care New England system level as executive vice president of women’s health.”  Women & Infants is a major teaching affiliate of the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.

Dr. Michael Choti, a surgical oncologist, has joined UT Southwestern Medical Center as Chair of the Department of Surgery and Surgeon-in-Chief of William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital, opening in 2014.  Dr. Choti spent 21 years at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where he was Vice Chair of the Department of Surgery and Professor of Surgery, Oncology, and Radiology.

Dr. Todd Rosengart, professor and DeBakey-Bard Chair of surgery at Baylor College of Medicine, has announced a number of department leadership appointments.
+ Dr. Steven A. Curley has been named chief of the division of surgical oncology and associate director for clinical affairs in the NCI-designated Dan L. Duncan Cancer Center at BCM. He most recently has been at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center where he was chief of gastrointestinal tumor surgery and medical director of the MD Anderson Gastrointestinal Cancer Multidisciplinary Care Center.
+ Dr. William E. Fisher has been named the new chief of the division of general surgery. He is currently a professor of surgery and director of the Elkins Pancreas Center.
+ Dr. Daniel Albo has been named vice-chair for network development and director for surgical network development. He is currently professor of surgery and Dan L. Duncan professor in the Duncan Cancer Center at BCM.
+ Dr. Bradford G. Scott, associate professor of surgery, has been named chief of a newly-created section of trauma surgery in the division of general surgery.
+ Dr. Christine Ann O’Mahony, assistant professor of surgery, has been appointed section chief of renal transplantation.

Dr. Selina Smith, Deputy Director of the Morehouse School of Medicine Cancer Research Program, has been named Director of the Georgia Regents University Institute of Public and Preventive Health. She will also serve as a Professor in the Medical College of Georgia Department of Family Medicine, and as a member of the Cancer Center’s Population Science Program.

Howard Ross, MD, FACS, FASCRS, has been appointed Professor of Clinical Surgery and Chief of Colorectal Surgery at Temple University School of Medicine, and Surgical Director of the Digestive Disease Center at Temple University Hospital, effective October 1. Previously, Dr. Ross has served as Director of Colon and Rectal Oncology for Meridian Health System in New Jersey; Chief of the Division of Colon and Rectal Surgery, and Director of the Crohn’s and Colitis Management Center at Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank, NJ; and Clinical Associate Professor of Surgery at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

Antonio Di Carlo, MD, has been appointed Associate Professor of Surgery at Temple University School of Medicine, and Chief of Abdominal Organ Transplant at Temple University Hospital, effective October 1, 2013.  Dr. Di Carlo was most recently Chief of Transplantation and Director of Hepatobiliary Surgery for Fletcher Allen Health Care.

Mark Turrentine, MD has been named the new Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery in the Department of Surgery at the Indiana University School of Medicine.  He  has served as Interim Chairman since 2010 and succeeds John Brown, MD, who stepped down as Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery in 2010, but continues to serve on the IU faculty.

Katie Galbraith has been named interim president of Duke Regional Hospital.  She is a former vice president of Duke Regional, and succeeds Kerry Watson, the new president of Newton-Wellesley hospital, a member of a member of Partners HealthCare.

And finally…An article posted by the American Journal of Medicine is titled, “The Autopsy of Chicken Nuggets Reads ‘Chicken Little.’” The study of chicken nuggets served by two national chains was conducted by Richard D. deShazo, MD, Steven Bigler, MD, and Leigh Baldwin Skipworth of the University of Mississippi Medical Center.  They found that, “Striated muscle (chicken meat) was not the predominate component in either nugget. Fat was present in equal or greater quantities along with epithelium, bone, nerve, and connective tissue.”  The authors concluded, “Chicken nuggets are mostly fat, and their name is a misnomer.”

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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