October 29, 2015
Last week I attended the first annual meeting of the newly named National Academy of Medicine/Institute of Medicine. One of the highlights of the meeting was a very interesting all-day seminar on “Aging: Complexities, Opportunities and Impacts on Society.” The program underscored the public health importance of our aging population, particularly issues of cognition and frailty, and highlighted advances in understanding the biology of aging, as well some innovative research groups.
The American Society for Bioethics and Humanities met in Houston last week. Our McGovern Center for Humanities and Ethics was well represented by Center Director Dr. Tom Cole and other faculty and postdocs who all contributed papers, spoke on panels, and led specialized affinity groups.
I attended a McGovern Center-sponsored event the other evening, a screening of the film “Merchants of Doubt,” which is based on the best-selling book by the same name by historian and Harvard Professor Naomi Oreskes, who also spoke. The film is a thought-provoking documentary about how science can be misused to influence important social and political issues, including the public debate on climate change.
By the end of this week I will have met with each of our 24 department chairs to learn about their programs. My takeaway—we have excellent chairs who are orchestrating a lot of great work at UTHealth. We have incredible opportunities for further growth and collaborations.
Speaking of collaboration, I’m hoping we can forge stronger ties with Rice University. I have been in discussion with Rice’s new provost, Dr. Marie Lynn Miranda, an environmental health researcher recruited from the University of Michigan. This week a group of faculty from the Department of Pediatrics Division of Neonatology (Drs. Eichenwald, Khan, and Katakam) met with a team from Rice, including Dr. Rebecca Richards-Kortum and my former colleague from Atlanta, Dr. Gang Bao. We had a tour of the Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center NICU and discussed potential joint projects involving the development of new technologies to improve care for our tiniest patients.
Yesterday I attended a development advisory council meeting that included the councils from the Medical School, Children’s Learning Institute, Harris County Psychiatric Center, and the Institute for Molecular Medicine. I had the opportunity to introduce myself to these friends of our institution and learn about the work they do on our behalf. We are so fortunate to have such champions in the community.
Looking ahead to next week, I hope to see you at the Nov. 4 UTHealth Medical School Research Retreat at the Brown Foundation Institute of Molecular Medicine for the Prevention of Human Diseases.