February 11, 2016
It continues to be a busy time as I meet with local and national leaders of programs whose fundamental goals are to improve health.
Last week, a group of faculty met with Mary Woolley, president of Research America, “the nation’s largest not-for-profit, membership supported grassroots public education and advocacy organization committed to making medical and health research a higher national priority.” Mary is a dynamic leader working on behalf of all of us. Our institutions have much in common as we work to put the spotlight on research and increase the medical school’s focus on research.
I have become a member of the Memorial Hermann Medical Executive Committee and continue to familiarize myself with the hospital and its operations and programs. Our medical school is fortunate to have such a strong and committed hospital partner, and Memorial Hermann is fortunate to have the clinical expertise and dedication of our physicians, as well as the collaboration with our outstanding academic programs. This partnership has enabled the development of innovative and compassionate clinical programs. One such program is the Fetal Center. Located at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center and under the direction of Drs. KuoJen Tsao, Ken Moise, and Anthony Johnson, the Fetal Center is a multi-specialty group that provides comprehensive care for mothers with high-risk pregnancies and their babies, and conducts life-changing research. As a neonatologist and as a mother, the work of the Fetal Center holds a special place in my heart.
This week I had the pleasure of meeting with Elena Marks, president and CEO of the Episcopal Health Foundation. The foundation is a not-for-profit corporation that operates as a supporting organization of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas. We discussed their interest in addressing the social determinants of health and health disparities in Houston. This is an issue at the forefront of this medical school, and we welcome everyone’s assistance in closing the gaps for the good of our community.
“Life Changing Innovation at UTHealth” was a spectacular evening, featuring the work of neurosurgeons Drs. Daniel Kim and Mark Dannenbaum. Collaborating with engineers and computer scientists, Drs. Kim and Dannenbaum are developing a microsurgical robotic system. Ultimately, they hope to use this tool to perform delicate surgical procedures remotely in the new world of “telerobotics.” What amazing science and technology that will transform care – being developed in our midst!
I had the opportunity to learn more about the people and projects of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences this week when I attended their faculty meeting. Under the leadership of Dr. Jair Soares, our Department of Psychiatry is tackling some of the most complex issues in mental health.
I have been attending the monthly LBJ Hospital Clinical Chiefs meeting, chaired by Dr. Carmel Dyer. The Chiefs meeting is collegial with open and engaged discussions of important issues facing faculty, staff, and hospital administration. The group is committed to working together to improve care for the patients at LBJ.
The third annual Ertan Lecture was presented this morning by Dr. Serhat Bor, professor of gastroenterology at Ege University School of Medicine in Turkey. He spoke on “Non-cardiac chest pain 2016 – From GERD to esophageal motility disturbances with new diagnostics.”
Today, I attended my first IMM Advisory Council meeting. The Advisory Council is a group of community friends who are working to build philanthropic support for the IMM. The community played such an important role in establishing this institute and continues to support our faculty, programs, and innovative science.
Collaboration and improving health for Texas was the topic of a meeting with Scott Forbes, vice president of governmental relations; Jennifer Deegan, associate vice president of governmental relations; and Dr. David Lakey, senior vice president for population health at UT Health Northeast and associate vice chancellor for UT System. Dr. Lakey’s work focuses on population health with the goal of improving health outcomes statewide. We hope that McGovern Medical School will play an important role in achieving the goal of improved health for Houston and beyond.
Zika virus is a serious global health concern, declared a public health emergency by the World Health Organization. This mosquito-borne virus is spreading quickly in the Americas and its suspected link to microcephaly in newborns is particularly alarming. The UTHealth Offices of Environmental Health & Safety and of Occupational Safety and UT Physicians are joining forces to inform various audiences about risks and taking steps toward prevention. The Harris County Public Health & Environmental Services has a Zika resources page and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has a comprehensive site that includes travelers’ resources. Please stay informed and stay safe.