March 31, 2016
As we welcome Spring, career milestones and diversity are in the spotlight.
The Office of Diversity and Inclusion is celebrating spring this week with special events highlighting our school’s people and cultures. I attended the Taste of McGovern Medical School Monday in the Leather Lounge, and I hope you had the opportunity to attend one of the events.
Our longtime employees were center stage this week at two STAR Award events. Awards are presented for every 5 years of university service—with recognition this year for some staff who have served for as long as 40 years. This is a wonderful opportunity to express our gratitude to our employees for the hard work and dedication they provide each day to help make UTHealth great.
We had a great turnout yesterday at the annual Cheves Smythe Distinguished Lecture. Dr. Linda Fried, Dean of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia and an internationally recognized expert on aging, spoke on a topic of growing concern to many – aging and frailty. Over the course of the day she had very productive meetings with our geriatric faculty, including Drs. Carmel Dyer, Holly Holmes, and Jessica Lee.
On Wednesday, I attended the Medical School Curriculum Retreat to review the revised MS curriculum that will be implemented August 1. This comprehensive curriculum revision has been a monumental undertaking, with the input of many of our clinical and basic science faculty. Revision Committee leadership, including Drs. Len Cleary, Patricia Butler, Phillip Carpenter, Margaret Uthman, and Eugene Toy presented the revised fall semester. They reviewed three areas of focus– “Cellular Basis of Disease,” “Doctoring–Clinical Skills and Organ Structure and Function,” and “Longitudinal Themes.” Over 70 faculty members attended this important event. A special thanks to Dr. Cleary and his team for their dedication to this important project and for a well-organized and thoughtful retreat.
Our clinical programs continue to show tremendous growth in terms of service to our community and support for our school. This past month we had the largest patient volumes and best performance in terms of charges and collections in our practice plan’s history. The funding provided by our clinical enterprise is critical to supporting our academic mission, so please join me in thanking our very hard working clinicians.
UTHealth welcomed a special visitor from UT System this week. Dr. Michelle Atchison, associate vice chancellor for federal relations at The UT System. Dr. Atchison leads federal relations for the UT System with the Department of Defense, focusing on research and collaborative opportunities.
Dr. Atchison had excellent discussions with Drs. Charles Cox, Billy Gill, and Pramod Dash on their traumatic brain injury research. She took an informative tour of the new NeuroRecovery Research Center at TIRR with Dr. Gerard Francisco and then hosted a roundtable discussion with a small group of researchers with interest in, or current projects with the DOD. Attending the meeting were Drs. Mike Blackburn, John Holcomb, Charles Wade, Tien Ko, Jair Soares, Bruce Butler, Anne Sereno, Bridgette Pullis (School of Nursing), Melissa Thompson (associate director, Strategic Industry Initiatives, UTHealth), Belinda Hernandez (SPH-San Antonio Regional Campus), and Pam Kennedy (Government Relations). Dr. Atchison’s personal relationships and knowledge of how military research funding works will be a key resource to our faculty.
I had a wonderful time Tuesday evening at the annual John P. McGovern Lecture and Banquet sponsored by the Houston History of Medicine Society. I was lucky to sit next to Mrs. McGovern at dinner—what a lovely person she is. Mimi Swartz, the executive editor of Texas Monthly, gave a wonderful talk on, “The Quest for the Artificial Heart.” She highlighted some of Houston’s leaders in the field and read touching excerpts from her next book. The Houston History of Medicine Society is a collaboration of UTHealth, Baylor, and TMC that sponsors monthly lectures open to all across the TMC. This year’s lecture series is focused on Living History: Made at the Texas Medical Center, see the 2015-2016 schedule here. It is inspiring to be a part of history made at the McGovern Medical School and the broader Texas Medical Center.
From the “wow” files:
Dr. Heinrich Taegtmeyer, professor of medicine, is the lead author on a recently published American Heart Association (AHA) Statement on “Assessing Cardiac Metabolism.” The work was commissioned, reviewed, and approved by the AHA’s Council on Basic Cardiovascular Sciences to provide a collective and curated resource on methods and models used to investigate cardiac metabolism, ranging from gene expression of metabolic genes to enzyme activities and metabolic flux analyses. A second important aim of the statement is to serve as a standard for rigor and reproducibility in scientific research. I asked Dr. Taegtmeyer to comment on this remarkable work. His thoughts, “How does the heart make just enough ATP to sustain its pump action, one beat at a time? As an engine, that heart turns chemical energy into mechanical energy, and it does this in a highly regulated and intricate way. As all medical students know, the intermediary metabolism of energy providing substrates (glucose and fat) is probably the best understood of any major biochemical networks. Yet understanding and correcting disturbances in the flux of energy remains a major unmet medical need, for example in the treatment of patients with heart failure. The same can be said about cancer, diabetes, or epilepsy.” Read the full article in Circulation Research.
Every month at LBJ Hospital, residents present research ideas – from case reports and quality improvement projects to more complex endeavors. Congratulations to those (pictured here) who share their projects and enthusiasm and to Dr. Gabriel Aisenberg, faculty mentor, for sharing the news and inspiration.