June 16, 2016
I suspect we’ve all spent time this week thinking about the tragic events in Orlando last Saturday.
Tonight at 6 p.m. on Webber Plaza, a candlelight vigil will be held to honor the victims of this terrible tragedy. Innocent people lost their lives or were physically or emotionally injured in a place they thought was a safe haven. This tragedy highlights once again that gun violence is a public health emergency in America. I am out of town for meetings or would have been at the vigil.
I am in Atlanta today for a meeting of the Marcus Autism Center Board of Trustees, which I have served on since 2004. The Marcus Autism Center, an NIH Autism Center of Excellence affiliated with Emory University and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, is one of the largest autism treatment centers in the United States, caring for more than 5,000 children with autism and related disorders each year.
I also was in Washington, D.C., for a meeting of the Nominating Committee of the National Academy of Medicine – formerly known as the Institute of Medicine. This advising body, with more than 2,000 elected members, works to address critical issues in health, medicine, and related policies. I’m learning a lot by serving on the nominating committee and hope that UTHealth and McGovern Medical School will increase our faculty membership in this influential organization.
On the home front, even though it’s summer, two important education programs are underway. The Summer Research Program started May 31 and continues through August, with 65 first-year medical students, 48 undergraduate students, and 8 international students from Japan and China taking part in research projects guided by faculty mentors. In addition, we have 19 JAMP (Joint Admission Medical Program) students on campus for a six-week summer program. These rising college seniors hail from across the state and are enrolled in 15 undergraduate universities. They are working with 20 of our faculty preceptors 1.5 days a week studying gross anatomy, biochemistry, microbiology, ethics, and professionalism. These programs are a great way for students to gain extra training and access to our faculty and institution.
This time of year also marks a transition for graduate medical education programs – saying farewell and congratulations to our graduating trainees while welcoming our incoming residents and fellows. Our school offers more than 110 residency and fellowship programs, with more than 1,000 enrolled. These facts and more can be found in the newest edition of our Fact Book, available online as a PDF. Please feel free to pick up printed copies from the Office of Communications, MSB B.340, for your recruitment and other needs.
Thanks to a group of artistic pediatric residents, the patients and families who visit Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital will have a brighter outlook. The talented trainees painted tiles that are now hanging in the pediatric hallway of the hospital. I appreciate their handiwork, and I know the patients will as well.
UT System has asked each of its institutions to develop a white paper on population health. The UTHealth effort is being led by Dr. Jim Langabeer from the School of Biomedical Informatics. Representatives from the medical school include Drs. Eric Thomas, Kevin Hwang, Jon Tyson, and Ryan Walsh. We had a wonderful meeting last week to discuss the UTHealth proposal—starting to define the population to be served/studied and areas of focus.
Another highlight of last week was a visit to KIPP schools with founder Mike Feinberg to discuss a potential collaboration between UTHealth and KIPP on a new lab school that would focus on STEM education and healthy lifestyles for children, families, and communities. The meeting was led by Dr. Eric Boerwinkle, dean of the UT School of Public Health, and included other faculty from the SPH and medical school, including Dr. Susan Landry, professor of pediatrics and director of the Children’s Learning Institute. Dr. Landry has worked with Mike Feinberg and KIPP for many years. There was uniform enthusiasm around the possibilities for collaboration to build a great school and learning laboratory and to expand the reach of UTHealth in the community.