November 05, 2015
This continues to be a busy time as I learn more about our school and university by meeting many of you and attending the fundamental and traditional events that comprise the life of this institution.
The biggest news of the week is that Dr. Jamie McCarthy accepted our offer to become Chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine. Following an extensive national search, we concluded that we have the best person to lead the Department within our midst — our own Dr. McCarthy. Dr. McCarthy has the experience, skills, and personal qualities needed to continue to grow and strengthen this vibrant department. I am absolutely delighted.
Last week, I had the honor of joining Dr. Jiajie Zhang, Dean of our School of Biomedical Informatics, and Dr. Jair Soares, Chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, for a first-hand introduction to Texas state politics at the Greater Houston Partnership Texas State Regional Delegation dinner. Scott Forbes, vice president for Governmental Relations, and Jennifer Deegan, associate vice president for Governmental Relations, did a wonderful job introducing us to elected officials, many of whom have been strong supporters of UTHealth.
I joined my fellow UTHealth deans on Tuesday evening for a wonderful “welcome to Houston” for the newest Deans — Dr. Lorraine Frazier, Dean of the School of Nursing, and me. This gracious event was hosted by longtime UTHealth supporters, Carolyn Keenan and Charlie Gaines, with nearly 300 members of our community attending. I had the opportunity to make some remarks to these generous friends of UTHealth and then did my best at “speed dating,” trying to meet as many people as I could.
I had the pleasure of addressing our research community at the Medical School’s 16th annual Research Retreat this week. What a wonderful day — a great opportunity to highlight exciting and innovative research being done at the medical school and a venue to inspire young scientists and foster new scientific collaborations. The presentations were amazing. One of the goals of the UTHealth Strategic Plan (2015 – 2020) is to “advance UTHealth’s research portfolio with a focus on transformational discovery.” I am committed to supporting our research community and determined to achieve this goal.
On the topic of research, I was very impressed by presentations at last week’s Webber Prize Competition for Summer Research Program students. This program provides a research introduction and foundation for many of our students. Congratulations to all of our student presenters and thank you to their mentors. A special thank you to Dr. Gary Rosenfeld and Vaccaro Greaves who direct the event. This year’s Webber prize winners and their mentors are: First place — Michael Diffley, mentored by Dr. KuoJen Tsao (Pediatric Surgery); second place — Clay Martin, mentored by Dr. Laura Moore (Surgery/CeTIR); and third place — Jonathan Huynh, mentored by Dr. Pramod Dash (Neurobiology & Anatomy).
I recently met with Dr. Michael Bungo, professor of internal medicine, and Dr. Patricia Butler, vice dean of educational programs, to discuss our MD/MBA program and a new Certificate in Healthcare Management (for residents and fellows). Both courses are presented in conjunction with the University of Houston Clear Lake. I hope our students and trainees take advantage of these programs, which will help them navigate the complex business of the ever-changing world of medicine.
As we work to enhance diversity at the Medical School, I was pleased to attend a seminar at MD Anderson sponsored by their Women Faculty Programs. Dr. Joan Reede, Harvard’s Dean for Diversity and Community Affairs, was the featured speaker. We are fortunate to have an engaged Office of Diversity and Inclusion led by Drs. LaTanya Love and Pedro Mancias. Of interest, they are hosting a Veteran’s Day event Nov. 11 at noon in MSB B.645 with veteran Dr. Charles Cox giving a presentation titled “What did I sign up for?”
Finally, congratulations to everyone who helped Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center earn an “A” grade on the Hospital Safety Score from the LeapFrog Group. This nationally standardized study measures hospital performance on patient safety, quality and resource utilization and is a testament to the partnership between our medical school and Memorial Hermann and a clear commitment to quality and safety.