AAMC News and Leadership Announcements, 2013 Nov. 13

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

The Kansas City Star reported on Saturday that, “After 12 years as dean of the medical school at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Betty Drees says she will step down in 2014.”  Dr. Drees told her colleagues,  “My plans are to work on patient safety and health policy programs, as well as teaching and community service.” She will remain in her leadership position during the search for her successor.

A page one article in Saturday’s New York Times was titled, “Cuts in Hospital Subsidies Threaten Safety-Net Care.”  The article discussed the impact of cuts in disproportionate share hospital payments, especially in states that are refusing to expand their Medicare program.

A lengthy investigative article in Sunday’s Seattle Times reported, “Thirty years ago, Congress acted to spur research on rare diseases. Today, we have hundreds of new drugs — along with runaway pricing and market manipulation, as drugmakers turn a law with good intentions into a profit engine.”  The article reviews the history of the Orphan Drug Act.  The article reports that before its passage, “the federal government approved only 10 drugs for rare diseases. Now, there are at least 363 approved drugs, licensed for 449 variations of rare disease. Still, there are about 6,000 rare diseases for which there is no licensed drug.”  However, according to the article, the statute has also led to some perverse outcomes.  The article will continue next Sunday.

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) is sponsoring its second annual Joining Forces Wellness Week from November 11 through November 15.  The initiative is an effort to heighten awareness about the health needs of the nation’s veterans, service members, and their families, and elevate the role that medical schools and teaching hospitals play in serving this community.  The events include a webinar series that begins on Monday.

The Wisconsin State Journal reported on Saturday, “The UW-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health has laid off all 60 employees from a nationally known eye research center after learning the center had run up a deficit of $4.6 million. The Fundus Photograph Reading Center faces an uncertain future after its staff was told of the layoffs at an Oct. 14 meeting.”

The November issue of Academic Medicine is now available online.  A highlight of the issue is an essay by my AAMC colleagues Drs. Philip Alberti, Ann Bonham and Darrell Kirch, “Making Equity a Value in Value-Based Health Care.”  In addition, articles from the December issue are now available in the “Published Ahead-of-Print” section of the journal’s web site.  The December issue is devoted to training the future health care workforce.

The Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and the Treasury on Friday jointly issued a final rule “increasing parity between mental health/substance use disorder benefits and medical/surgical benefits in group and individual health plans.” The final rule implements the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, “and ensures that health plan features like co-pays, deductibles and visit limits are generally not more restrictive for mental health/substance abuse disorders benefits than they are for medical/surgical benefits.”

The Kansas City Star reported that on Tuesday Jackson County voters defeated a ballot initiative aimed at raising $800 million over 20 years to fund translational research at two private hospitals and the University of Missouri-Kansas City.  Only 16 percent of the voters supported the tax increase. Jackson County is the second largest county in the “Show-Me State” and includes Kansas City, Missouri.

Drs. Benjamin P. Sachs, Ralph Maurer, Steven A. Wartman and Marc J. Kahn have posted an essay, “Saving Academic Medicine from Obsolescence,” on the Harvard Business Review/NEJM’s “Leading Health Care Innovation” web site.  The authors write, “The United States spent 17.9% of the GDP on healthcare in 2012. Academic medicine, which makes up, approximately, 20% of these costs ($540 billion), is under profound threat. Teaching hospitals and medical schools are faced with declining clinical revenue, dwindling research dollars and increasing tuition costs. To meet these challenges, we believe academic medicine must embrace disruptive innovation in its core missions: educating the next generation of health professionals, offering comprehensive cutting-edge patient care, and leading biomedical and clinical research.  Medical schools and academic health centers will need to significantly adapt in each of these areas in order to ensure the long-term health of the medical profession.”

At the recent AAMC Annual Meeting, Pulitzer-prize winning journalist and bestselling author Anna Quindlen delivered the annual Jordan J. Cohen Humanism in Medicine Lecture.  Ms. Quindlen has allowed the Gold Foundation to post her address, “Health Care in an Information Age: How Doctors, Nurses and Consumers Can Make One Another Better,” for one month. Dr. Cohen, AAMC President-Emeritus, is chairman of the Gold Foundation Board.

The March of Dines has issued a new report card on premature births in the U.S.  In a statement accompanying the release, the group’s president, Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, said, “The U.S. still has the highest rate of preterm birth of any industrialized country.”

The University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) on Friday dedicated its new Shock Trauma Critical Care Tower, marking the near-completion of 140,000 square feet of new space designed to care for the region’s most critically ill and injured patients. The new tower, which cost about $160 million, houses nine floors of patient care space including 64 new patient rooms and 10 new operating rooms.

The NIH Office of Disease Prevention (ODP) is seeking comments on its Draft Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years (FY) 2014–2018. Responses must be received by November 22, 2013.

The Arnold P. Gold Foundation is soliciting proposals for mentoring interventions that are specifically designed to help physicians and nurses in training and early practice to be more humanistic in their patient care. The purpose of the RFP is to fund mentoring programs that result in enhanced capacity of healthcare providers to deliver care that is as humanistic and compassionate as it is scientifically and technically sophisticated. Responses to the RFP are due on December 1.

The University of Alabama School of Medicine has named 31 faculty as “Clinical Skills Scholars.”  The faculty were selected in a competitive process.  According to the school, “The scholars’ home departments receive financial support from the School of Medicine to dedicate half a day each week to mentoring five to seven students for at least two years.”  Stan Massie, M.D., director of the Introduction to Clinical Medicine course and an associate professor of Internal Medicine, is directing the new clinical skills scholars program. Two of the scholars, Marjorie Lee White, M.D., and Caroline Harada, M.D., were chosen as co-assistant directors.

U.S. News & World Report last week sponsored the “Hospital of Tomorrow Forum.” Sessions focused on “the challenges that hospitals will face in the future.”  Highlights of the conference’s 20 breakout sessions have been posted.

Sunday’s Washington Post reported on NIH’s selection by AARP as the best employer for workers over 50, “…based on criteria including career development opportunities, workplace accommodations, flexible scheduling, job sharing and other employee benefits.”

The Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday, “A robotic-surgery device called the da Vinci Surgical System is linked to ‘an overall increasing trend in the rate of injury and death reports’ since 2004, according to a draft analysis of such events reported to the Food and Drug Administration.  The draft analysis, by the chief of adult cardiac surgery at Rush University Medical Center and co-authors from the University of Illinois and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, focused on all adverse-event reports made to the FDA from January 2000 through last December.”  The manufacturer of the device, Intuitive Surgical Inc., disagrees with the analysis. According to the article, “FDA officials said they were uncertain as to whether the adverse events represented a true increase in clinical problems or simply an increase in the rate of reporting as the device drew more attention.”
http://tinyurl.com/nhk839k (subscription may be necessary)

An article in Saturday’s San Diego Union-Tribune reviewed the research progress that has resulted from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, or CIRM.  The organization was established by a state ballot initiative nine years ago.  According to the article, CIRM “is expected to run out of funds in 2017. About $1.87 billion in grants have been approved by the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee, which governs the San Francisco-based agency. Of that amount, about $1.59 billion has been allocated after staff review. And $1.19 billion has actually been paid out.”  The paper further reported, “If the institute is to continue once the money runs out, it must raise more, from the government, from philanthropists, from corporate partnerships, or some combination of the three.”

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Director Nora Volkow, M.D., on Nov. 8 announced that Wilson Compton, M.D., M.P.E., has been appointed the Deputy Director of NIDA. Dr. Compton has served as the Director of NIDA’s Division of Epidemiology, Services and Prevention Research since 2002.

Dr. Wendy Baldwin, president and CEO of the Population Reference Bureau, has stepped down. Prior to joining PRB, she was vice president and director of the Population Council’s Poverty, Gender, and Youth Program; executive vice president for research at the University of Kentucky; deputy director for extramural research, Office of the Director, National Institutes of Health; and deputy director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development at NIH.

The Cancer Letter reported on Friday that Dr. Max Wicha has announced that he is stepping down as director of the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, a position he has held for 27 years.

The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) has announced the appointment of James L. Griffith, M.D., as the Leon M. Yochelson Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. Dr. Griffith has served as the chair of this department in an interim capacity since 2011, and has been a member of the faculty since 1994. He is also a professor of neurology at GW and serves as a psychiatric consultant for Northern Virginia Family Services in the Program for Survivors of Torture and Severe Trauma.

Toni R. Leeth, M.P.H., has been appointed assistant dean for Strategic Planning at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Medicine, a new position “created to help keep UAB Medicine moving forward in its vision of being the preferred academic medical center of the 21st century.”

Tony Mazzaschi

P.S. The Research-AAMC listserve was recently combined with CFAS-News, a free service of the AAMC’s Council of Faculty and Academic Societies.  If you are receiving duplicate copies , email CAS@AAMC.ORG.

P.S.S. To be added to the distribution list for these listserve messages, e-mail a request to CFAS@AAMC.ORG.


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