September 16, 2016
As we begin the new fiscal year and school year, it is a good time to catch up on all of the good news that has been happening around us and look back on a great year.
This past fiscal year, 9 of our faculty and 21 of our staff retired. A heartfelt thank you for jobs well done. At the same time, we hired 159 new faculty and 1,052 classified staff—a busy year of recruitment. Congratulations to all of our recently promoted faculty—15 were promoted to full professor and 27 to associate professor.
On the research side, we have done very well with capturing UT System STAR awards. Five new recruits to the medical school were awarded Rising STAR awards and two faculty (one a new recruit) were awarded Translational STARs. Our faculty were awarded $162 million in research grants this past FY, with $66M of that coming from the NIH. This reflects an increase of about $20M from last year’s research awards total. Well done in this very competitive climate. Please join me in thanking our hard working investigators and their teams.
Congratulations are also in order to Dr. LaTanya Love, who was named UTHealth’s vice president for Diversity and Leadership Development. This university position will be in addition to her role as our associate dean for Diversity and Inclusion and associate dean for Admissions and Student Affairs.
Eleven residents recently completed a new elective course on the business of medicine. Covering topics such as healthcare economics, finance and accounting, legal aspects of healthcare, billing and coding, quality programs, IT issues, negotiation, strategic planning, marketing, and leadership principles, graduates were issued a Certificate in Healthcare Management by the University of Houston-Clear Lake School of Business. This course strengthens our resident curriculum and helps prepare our trainees for the real world of healthcare.
I feel recharged and refocused as the result of attending some terrific retreats lately. The Deans of all 6 UTHealth schools came together to learn about each school and to learn from each other. I also attended a superb Department of Internal Medicine retreat a couple of weeks ago, hearing from Janis Yadiny, associate vice president, faculty and academic development of UT MD Anderson, and Eduardo Salas, of Rice University, on leadership development and team performance. What they taught us will directly be applied to a Team Science component of our Center for Clinical and Translational Sciences—designed to teach team science and collaboration at UTHealth. The Department of Neurology retreat touched on all missions—research, patient care and satisfaction, education, finances, and philanthropy. Department chair Dr. Louise McCullough presented her vision, highlights, and results of an external review of the department.
Together with President Colasurdo and other faculty leaders, I attended a Memorial Hermann retreat this weekend where Dr. Benjamin Chu spoke. His vision is to promote “One Memorial Hermann,” a focus on the patient, a goal of outstanding “end-to-end” care, and a long-term affiliation with UTHealth. We are delighted to have Dr. Chu on board and look forward to this next chapter of our university/hospital partnership. Items of importance to both Memorial Hermann and the medical school were on the agenda during discussions I had with two Memorial Hermann board chairs – chair-elect Deborah Cannon, former CEO of the Houston Zoo, and Will Williams, current board chair.
Research teams from the School of Public Health and our McGovern Medical School are collaborating to develop projects of relevance to high-risk children and families. I met recently with this group who include Drs. Ricardo Mosquera, Jon Tyson, and Susan Tortolero.
This past week I charged a search committee led by Dr. Lance Gould, professor and the Martin Bucksbaum Distinguished University Chair in Heart, to find the next director of the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition. A national search was launched and a number of very qualified applicants have already applied and will be coming through the search process.
Congratulations to Dr. Jair Soares, chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, for being named a 2016 Chancellors Health Fellow, which will give him the opportunity to work closely with Dr. David Lakey, UT System chief medical officer and associate vice chancellor, assisting on mental health issues as the UT System discusses a behavioral health strategy for the state.
On the topic of mental health, this past Saturday was World Suicide Prevention Day. It is sobering that depression and suicide are more common among the medical profession than the general population. We’ve just debuted a new Wellness and Resiliency program for our medical students to add to existing resources to help all members of the UTHealth community. These include the Student Health and Counseling Services (713-500-5171), the I-M-UT Hotline (713-500-4688), and the Employee Assistance Programs (713-500-3327). No faculty or staff should feel unsupported by our medical school.
Enjoy the weekend.