AAMC News and Leadership Announcements, 2013 Dec. 11

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

The chairs of the House and Senate Budget Committees announced a budget agreement on Tuesday night.  The agreement provides $63 billion in sequester relief over two years, split evenly between defense and non-defense programs.  Details on the agreement and its potential impact on accounts of interest to academic medicine will be included in the next issue of AAMC Washington Highlights, the Association’s legislative and regulatory newsletter.  The issue will be posted on Friday afternoon.  The newsletter is available on-line or via a free subscription.

The Washington Post’s lead editorial on Thursday focused on the budget squeeze and the toll it is taking on NIH research.  The editorial cited Dr. Francis Collins’ summary of the impact of the reduced national investment in research and concluded, “…when the scientist in charge of the nation’s research enterprise frets about ‘deep long-term damage’ to biomedical research, we ought to pay particular attention. The research NIH funds is precisely what we should demand from government. It is critical to our future as a healthy society and world leader in science, and it’s not something the private sector will do in government’s stead. Do political leaders really want to explain to future generations why they let the United States walk away from a great age of biomedical discovery?”

The December issue of Academic Medicine is now available on-line.  Articles from the January issue are also available in the Published Ahead-of-Print section of the web site. Of particular interest in the January issue is an article on “Educational outcomes for students enrolled in MD–PhD programs at medical school matriculation, 1995–2000: A national cohort study.” The journal also features a related commentary, “MD-PhD Training: Looking Back and Looking Forward,” by Ann Bonham, PhD, AAMC Chief Scientific Office.

The December 4 issue of JAMA focused on medical education issues. The lead viewport article is by AAMC President and CEO Dr. Darrell Kirch and colleagues on the “The New 2015 MCAT: Testing Competencies.”  The issue also includes an editorial by Dr. Jordan Cohen, the former president of AAMC, on upcoming changes in the MCAT and the USMLE and their proper role in applicant and learner assessments.

The Detroit Free Press reported on Tuesday, “The Detroit Medical Center says it has an exclusive partnership and ironclad contract with the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute and is asking a judge to block what it says is an improper merger and marketing partnership between the research center and Flint-based McLaren Health Care. Even though Karmanos would remain on the DMC campus in Midtown, the news of the acquisition in October stunned leaders at DMC and at the Wayne State University Physicians Group, which treats many Karmanos cancer patients. In its claim, filed late Friday in Oakland County Circuit Court, the DMC asked Judge Wendy Potts for an injunction.”

Wednesday’s issue of JAMA features an article highlighting “Recommendations From the Pew Task Force on Medical Conflicts of Interest.”  The article is authored by Dr. David Korn of Harvard and Dr. Daniel Carlat of the Pew Foundation.  The article highlights best practice recommendations generated by   members of the Pew’s Expert Task Force on Medical Conflicts of Interest. The Task Force’s full report is available on-line.

Five NIH leaders appeared on the CSPAN public affairs channel on Friday morning to discuss NIH budget and research issues.  Participating were Drs. Francis Collins, Tony Fauci, Harold Varmus, Eric Green, and Tom Insel.

An Institute of Medicine panel studying, “Oversight and Review of Clinical Gene Transfer Protocols: Assessing the Role of the Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee,” issued its report on Thursday.  The panel concluded, “In most cases, human gene transfer research is no longer novel or controversial enough to require additional review from the National Institutes of Health’s Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee [RAC].” The panel also found that “…most individual RAC reviews no longer provide benefits beyond the existing regulatory and oversight framework and may be impeding scientific advancement with unnecessary administrative burdens.”

Dr. James Siedow announced in November that he will not seek reappointment as vice provost of research at Duke.  An article in the Duke Chronicle on Wednesday reviewed the challenges facing his successor “in shifting financial times.”

Dr. Mahendra Rao, director of the Center For Regenerative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health, last week spoke at a stem cell research meeting about the limited ability of the federal government to support stem cell research due to fiscal constraints on NIH.

The University of Mississippi Medical Center last week named Dr. Srinivasan Vijayakumar director of the UMMC Cancer Institute, a role he’s held on an interim basis since August.  He has been professor and chairman of the Department of Radiation Oncology and deputy director of the Cancer Institute.

The Board of Regents, State of Iowa, last week approved a request from the University of Iowa to re-name the UI Cardiovascular Research Center in honor of its founder, Francois Abboud, M.D. He founded the Center in 1974, prior to becoming head of internal medicine at the University of Iowa in 1976, a position he held for 26 years before stepping down in January 2002.

The New York Times on Tuesday reported on a “trove of hospital cost data newly posted online by the State Health Department.”  According to the Times, “ Hospital trade groups, who opposed the release of the database, say the figures will only confuse consumers, who rarely pay the sticker price for hospital care, especially if they have insurance. The hospitals also argue that cost figures, though based on reports to the government by the hospitals themselves, cannot be reliably compared because the state did not edit them for deaths, transfers and aberrations. But even a quick search through the database for common procedures with the same diagnosis code and level of severity turns up a wild mix of startling bargains and enormous markups.”

A new Health Policy Brief from Health Affairs and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation “explores the promise and challenges surrounding Mobile Health, or mHealth: the use of smartphones, tablets, and other mobile and wireless devices in public health.”

The University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) and the Board of Directors of Upper Chesapeake Health (UCH) on Monday announced that the merger of UCH into UMMS has been completed. The two health care organizations began working together four years ago under a strategic affiliation agreement. UCH includes two acute care not-for-profit hospitals – the 185-bed Upper Chesapeake Medical Center in Bel Air, and the 89-bed Harford Memorial Hospital in Havre de Grace – both located in Harford County, Maryland. UCH will do business as University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health (UM UCH) and UCH’s two hospitals will become University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Medical Center (UM UCMC) and University of Maryland Harford Memorial Hospital (UM HMH).

An article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune on Sunday highlighted advancements in surgical simulators in use at the University of Minnesota.

The Salt Lake City Tribune on Sunday reported that “A new data tool developed by the [University of Utah] is helping doctors and surgical teams visualize when they stray from protocols by shining a light on the costs racked up by their patients. It’s sparking conversations about how to deliver better care more efficiently.”

AAMC is sponsoring a special webinar, “Innovative Institutional Partnerships in Research and Research-focused Training: Peer Learning Opportunities,” on Tuesday, December 17, 2013 from 11:30 am – 1:00 pm ET. Earlier this year, four projects received the AAMC Award for Innovative Institutional Partnerships in Research and Research-focused Training. Representatives from each of the four award-winning projects will describe their initiatives and answer questions. The webinar will also describe a new AAMC award to support peer learning opportunities to meet with and learn from these innovators.

The CDC last week reported, “During 1996–2010, the number of [Assisted Reproductive Technology] ART procedures performed in the United States doubled while the number of infants born as a result of these procedures nearly tripled. With this increasing use, ART-conceived infants now represent 1.5% of infants born in the U.S and might have a noticeable impact on the prevalence of low birthweight and preterm deliveries in many states, as 46.4% of these infants were born in multiple-gestation pregnancies that resulted in multiple births.” A separate research report published in Thursday’s New England Journal of Medicine, using more current data, concluded, “Over the past four decades, the increased use of fertility treatments in the United States has been associated with a substantial rise in the rate of multiple births. The rate of triplet and higher-order births has declined over the past decade in the context of a reduction in the transfer of three or more embryos during IVF.”

The New York Observer last week published an article about two newly announced initiatives: the City of New York Early-Stage Life Sciences Funding Initiative and the Mt. Sinai Institute of Technology (MSIT).  According to the article, “The Funding Initiative, launched by the New York City Economic Development Corporation, seeks to establish 15 to 20 new life science ventures by 2020. The EDC—together with Celgene Corporation, GE Ventures and Eli Lilly & Company—has pledged $50 million in anchor funds to the project, to be matched evenly with contributions from venture capital partners. MSIT, meanwhile—with $5 million in city funds—will confer graduate degrees in ‘technology-based life sciences,’ during completion of which students will engage in ‘product development and active entrepreneurship in areas including Big Data, cloud computing, social networking, scientific and clinical simulation, tissue engineering,  sensors, microprocessors,’ and a host of other ultra-complicated-sounding disciplines, according to a release.”

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) is sponsoring a two-day public conference, “Parkinson’s Disease 2014: Advancing Research, Improving Lives,” on January 6-7, 2014, at the Natcher Conference Center on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland.  The meeting will bring together leading neuroscientists, physicians, and other members of the community to assess the most significant challenges to Parkinson’s research and treatment and to identify the highest priorities for advancing basic, translational, and clinical research on Parkinson’s disease.  The meeting also will be webcast.

Dr. Michael Crowder has been named professor and chair of the Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine, effective March 1, 2014. He will also hold the Alan J. Treuer Endowed Professorship. Dr. Crowder is currently at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, where he is the Dr. Seymour and Rose T. Brown Professor of Anesthesiology and chief of the Division of Basic Research in the Department of Anesthesiology and professor of developmental biology.

A viewpoint by Dr. Peter Provonost was posted by JAMA on Thursday on “Enhancing Physicians’ Use of Clinical Guidelines.”

NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D, announced on Monday the selection of Philip E. Bourne, Ph.D., as the first permanent Associate Director for Data Science (ADDS). Dr. Bourne is expected to join the NIH in early 2014. He will join NIH from the University of California San Diego, where he is the Associate Vice Chancellor for Innovation and Industry Alliances in the Office of Research Affairs and a Professor in the Department of Pharmacology and the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. He also is the Associate Director of the Research Collaboratory for Structural Bioinformatics (RCSB) Protein Data Bank.

Tufts University School of Medicine on Thursday announced the creation of a Center for Global Public Health.  Mkaya Mwamburi, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of public health and community medicine at Tufts, has been named director of the new center.

R. Bowen Loftin, outgoing president of Texas A&M University, has been named the new chancellor of the University of Missouri.  He succeeds Brady Deaton, who retired last month. Dr. Loftin is a professor of both physics and engineering at A&M.

Eric D. Isaacs, a physicist and director of Argonne National Laboratory, has been named the next provost of the University of Chicago. He succeeds Thomas F. Rosenbaum, who has been appointed president of the California Institute of Technology.

E. Gordon Gee, President Emeritus of the Ohio State University and former West Virginia University President has been named interim president of WVU, effective in early January.

The University of Michigan has launched a new “BioSocial Methods Collaborative,” bringing together “researchers from a variety of scientific disciplines to advance analysis of biological and social science data.”  The center is based at the U-M Institute for Social Research, and funded in part by the U-M Office of the Provost. Partners include the U-M Life Sciences Institute and the U-M Medical School. U-M psychologist Dr. Richard Gonzalez, has been named founding director.

Ian Aitken, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Menninger Clinic, has announced he will retire in June. During his tenure, the psychiatric hospital affiliated with Baylor College of Medicine and Houston Methodist Hospital in 2003, relocated the same year from Topeka, Kansas, to Houston, and built and opened its current 50-acre campus in April 2012.

Baylor College of Medicine has named Dr. Alicia D. H. Monroe as senior dean of education and senior vice president of academic affairs and faculty development, a new leadership position overarching all four schools of the College. Dr. Monroe currently is the chief academic officer and vice dean of educational affairs at University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine and is a professor of family medicine.

University of Utah pediatrician Carrie L. Byington, M.D., has been named associate vice president for faculty and academic affairs for the school’s health sciences campus. Dr. Byington, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Utah School of Medicine, has served as vice dean for academic affairs and faculty development for the School of Medicine since July 2012. In her new position, she will oversee faculty and academic issues for the entire health sciences and its Colleges of Pharmacy, Nursing and Health.

The Galveston Daily News on Wednesday reported that Michael Scheer, CPA, has been named interim chief financial officer at UTMB in Galveston.  William R. Elger stepped down from the CFO position this summer.

Dr. Robert Van Citters, who served as the University of Washington School of Medicine’s fourth dean from 1970 to 1981, died on December 7 in Edmonds, Washington, at the age of 87. A cardiovascular physiologist, Dr. Van Citters was a member of the Institute of Medicine.  During his tenure as dean at UW, he oversaw the start of the WAMI program (later changed to the WWAMI program when Wyoming joined).  He was a Distinguished Service Member of the AAMC in recognition of his contributions as a member of the Council of Deans and as a member of the LCME.  In a note to UW faculty informing them of Dr. Van Citters’ death, Dr. Paul Ramsey, the current dean, said, “We have lost a wonderful leader, colleague, role model and friend. His legacy is profound. I and many others will miss his grace, vision and quiet, down-to-earth humor.”

Tony Mazzaschi

P.S. CFAS-Mail is a service of the AAMC Council of Faculty and Academic Societies. The Council is composed of two representatives from each US and Canadian medical school and two representatives from member academic societies and is the voice of faculty in AAMC’s leadership structure.

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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