March 04, 2016
This week I was asked to present my vision for McGovern Medical School to the Medical School’s Advisory Council. This group of our most ardent supporters is charged with helping us to promote our message and strengths to the greater community.
While I only have 5 months on the job here, I did present an aspirational vision to be a nationally recognized medical school that is the best place to learn, work, do research, and care for our community. I invite you to share your vision of McGovern Medical School so that we can build a vision to reach for together.
Our executive director of development, Sandra Nauert, provided the group with an update on fundraising activities. I’m very proud of our development office, which continues to increase financial support for our school. Fiscal year 2016 is turning out to be a banner year, with $94.4M raised for the medical school (including the McGovern gift). As a reminder, the McGovern gift (when fully funded) will build our endowment and provide $20M for Endowed Chairs; $10M for Student Scholarships; $20M for Research; $20M for the McGovern Center for Humanities and Ethics; and $5M for Distinguished Faculty Awards.
I enjoyed a fabulous tasting dinner Monday evening at Underbelly — a fundraiser for our Children’s Learning Institute. Friends and supporters heard how CLI is making a difference in the lives of children. Speakers, who gave brief presentations of their work with every course of the meal, included CLI director Dr. Susan Landry, Michael Matthew Knight Memorial Professor in Pediatrics and Albert and Margaret Alkek Chair in Early Childhood Development; Dr. Anson Koshy, assistant professor of pediatrics; Dr. Matthew Foster, postdoctoral research fellow; Dr. Jenifer Juranek, associate professor of pediatrics; and Dr. Tricia Zucker, associate professor of pediatrics.
I also have started to meet with friends and potential donors of the medical school. I love to share the stories of our people and programs, so please continue to send your wow stories, so that I can highlight your work at these informal gatherings.
This week Dr. Eric Eichenwald, chair of the Department of Pediatrics, and I met with Ms. Darcie Wells, executive director of the March of Dimes Houston. The university has been a longtime supporter of this national organization, which provides research funding to enhance and support the health of mothers and babies. Their next event is the March for Babies April 24 at the University of Houston. I hope you will come support our teams for this, the largest national fundraiser of the March of Dimes.
Dr. Michael Fallon, director of the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, gave me a tour of the Ertan Digestive Disease Center. This outpatient center, named in honor of Dr. Atilla Ertan, professor of gastroenterology, provides expert care for patients with digestive diseases. The facilities are magnificent, and the center is doing amazing work.
Dr. Herb Fred, longtime UT faculty member and outstanding clinician and educator, presented me with his book, “On Medicine Today, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.” Dr. Fred is a prolific writer. After our conversation, I understand why he is loved by so many students and residents.
The Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences continues to impress me. I had the opportunity to meet with Dr. Julie Kaplow, associate professor of psychiatry, who is doing very important work as the director of the University of Texas Trauma and Grief Center for Youth. I lost my own father when I was only 12 and well appreciate the impact of her work.
UT Physicians is fortunate to have a Patient Navigator, Lynn Cutrer. She is a member of the healthcare team who facilitates access and helps patients get timely care. As a navigator, she helps coordinate patient care, connect patients with resources, and helps them understand the healthcare system.
I visited with Dr. Zhiqiang An, professor of chemistry and director of the Texas Therapeutics Institute of the Brown Foundation Institute of Molecular Medicine for the Prevention of Human Diseases. He described the Institute’s exciting work to develop new drugs, with funding from NIH, CPRIT, the UT System STARS awards, the Welch Foundation, and in collaboration with industry.
I was pleased to provide the opening remarks yesterday at the ninth annual Houston Aortic Symposium Frontiers in Cardiovascular Diseases. This internationally attended event is a wonderful collaboration among the Department of Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery, the Division of Cardiology, McGovern Medical School, and Memorial Hermann. Special thank you to our UT luminaries, Drs. Hazim Safi, David McPherson, Ali Azizzadeh, and Anthony Estrera for organizing a superb conference. I was able to hear some of the talks — a reminder of the outstanding and groundbreaking work of our colleagues.
Have a lovely weekend,