February 04, 2016
Last week I asked you for your stories of Wow, and I’ve been delighted by the response. To share a few:
Several of our faculty are attending the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine meeting in Atlanta this week to learn about and present the latest research in the field. Congratulations to Dr. Jerrie Refuerzo, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology, who received the March of Dimes award for Best Abstract in Prematurity at the meeting. Using nanoparticles to engineer a special drug, Dr. Refuerzo and her team have demonstrated in mice a new way to both reduce preterm birth and avoid the risks to unborn babies of medication in pregnancy.
Also in the news, Dr. Carmel Dyer, associate dean for Harris County Programs and professor of geriatric and palliative medicine, was a member of the panel that developed the new CDC guide for elder abuse definition and surveillance. I encourage you to review it.
And congratulations to Dr. Eleazar Soto-Torres, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology, maternal fetal medicine, who was named Physician of the Year at Cypress Fairbanks Medical Center, where he also received the Physician Lifesaver Award for the impact of his care on moms and babies.
Earlier in the week I attended the Friends of the McGovern Medical School luncheon, hosted by the Office of Development. We had a great turnout and were treated to fascinating presentations by Dr. Jair Soares, chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and Dr. Alan Prossin, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences. Did you know clinical depression can have severe medical consequences, increasing risk for cardiac events by as much as four times? Using experimental mood induction, Dr. Prossin and his colleagues have altered a potent plasma protein involved in the pathophysiology of various medical illnesses that are often seen in patients with depression. The outcomes of this research are poised to change the way treatment and prevention strategies are developed and delivered.
I’ve been meeting with our senior leadership in educational programs and student affairs. I am delighted that they are developing a new program to enhance the wellness and resilience of our students. It is well known that healthy students are better prepared to learn and practice medicine. These new programs will include an expanded Master Advisor Program and supplementary initiatives to add wellness and resilience mechanisms to our students’ skillsets. The program held its first pet therapy session last Friday after our first-year students finished a week of exams. The programs will officially roll out in the 2016-17 academic year, to coincide with the medical school’s new curriculum. We look forward to the creation of a palpable culture of wellness and resiliency in which students are given the tools to build lifelong mental, physical, and emotional balance.
Dr. Mike Blackburn, dean of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and chief academic officer of UTHealth, explained at our recent basic science chairs meeting that applicants to the GSBS usually make their decision on whether or not to come to UTHealth during the Visitation Weekends. The GSBS needs faculty and Ph.D. students to roll out the “red carpet” – attend events, give tours, and show these applicants what the GSBS has to offer. To participate in one of the upcoming weekends – Feb. 11-13, Feb. 25-27 or March 10-12, please contact Dr. Blackburn.
‘Tis the season for budget meetings. I will be reviewing the budgets of 37 of our departments and offices over the next few weeks. I’m sure I will learn a lot.
Please join me in welcoming a new face in the Dean’s Office. Devan Santora joined our staff this week from the University of Central Florida, where she worked in the Office of the Vice President for Medical Affairs and Dean. Please help us make her an important part of the McGovern Medical School community.
February 3 was the first ever National Women’s Physician Day. The day marks the birthday of Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman physician in the United States. Please thank all of the wonderful women physicians at McGovern Medical School. The week continues with a spotlight on women’s health. You can show your support for raising awareness of women’s cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke) by wearing red tomorrow for national wear red day. In conjunction with American Heart Month the UT System is also promoting a system-wide 10-minute walk at 10 a.m., Feb. 10. See details.