December 03, 2015
I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. I am still on cloud nine with our big announcement last week. I want to thank the John P. McGovern Foundation, Mrs. McGovern, Dr. Colasurdo, Kevin Foyle, James Hughes, and all of those who worked behind the scenes to establish and announce this transformational gift for our school. With the gift, our school name has changed and a new logo is forthcoming, along with editorial guidelines, which will help us transition completely to the McGovern Medical School. These are exciting times!
In this season of good cheer and good food, it seems appropriate that UTHealth is developing an Obesity Consortium. Led by Dr. Mark Chassay, assistant dean for admissions and student affairs and associate dean for alumni relations, stakeholders include faculty and staff at all six schools. The consortium has the vision to “inspire healthy lifestyles toward an obesity-free world” and will focus on inter-professional patient care; education of patients, families and professionals; support for research; and advocacy/health policy. A new obesity medicine fellowship, led by Dr. Deborah Bade Horn, clinical assistant professor of surgery, will accept its first fellow in 2016.
I received a wonderful historic perspective on our school from Dr. Bert DuPont, a longstanding and internationally known UTHealth faculty member, who is proud “to have taught every single medical student who has come through UT.” Dr. DuPont and I are bonded by Emory roots – he earned his medical degree there.
Before the Thanksgiving break, I had the pleasure of attending the “Jubilee of Caring” for Harris Health, which honored Sue and Lester Smith. This lovely event underscored the importance of philanthropy and community support. I also had the chance to attend and address the Harris Health Board of Managers this morning. I value our partnership with Harris Health and continue to be impressed by our faculty and leadership at LBJ. The Board meeting included comments from the community. One speaker reminded us that today is “International Day of Persons with Disabilities.” Of note, the United Nations is marking this day throughout the world with the theme “inclusion matters: access and empowerment for people of all abilities.”
Earlier this week, I met with Rice Provost Marie Lynn Miranda to discuss collaborations between our institutions. We discussed the possibility of having Rice undergraduates shadow our physicians as part of an ongoing course; a new Rice University postdoc program that might be expanded to include trainees who could work at both Rice and UTHealth; and the potential for UT faculty mentors to become involved as Rice Faculty Fellows. Rice is a wonderful institution and neighbor – I look forward to working with Provost Miranda and others to enhance our links.
Applications for the AAMC’s Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine (ELAM) program for women are due January 15. Our school has five graduates of this prestigious program, and I hope that more of our faculty will join their ranks. Our ELAM graduates include: Dr. Wendy Wolf ’96 , formerly of the Department of Pediatrics; Dr. Katherine Loveland ’99, Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences; Dr. Patricia Butler ’00, Educational Programs & Psychiatry; Dr. Margaret Uthman ’02, Educational Programs & Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine: and Dr. Dianna Milewicz ’05, Department of Internal Medicine.
Nominations for the Institute of Medicine/National Academy of Medicine are also due at the end of January. I know we have several faculty who would make excellent candidates for nomination. I urge our department chairs and leadership to send me names of outstanding UTHealth faculty.
Finally, on this day in 1967, Christian Barnard implanted the first human heart. See this interesting piece from the NYTimes briefing, the last item. As an intern in pediatrics, I cared for the first pediatric patient to have a heart transplant at Columbia Presbyterian. I have never forgotten this very brave young girl. Think how far we’ve come and how proud we are to have wonderful 21st Century cardiac care and research at UTHealth.