May 12, 2016
A commencement, a gala, and a retreat. Sounds like the setup for a joke, but it was my busy Saturday.
Rice University Provost Marie Lynn Miranda and I have been working together to forge closer collaboration between our schools. I took part in a stimulating retreat on the topic of pediatric bioengineering Saturday between McGovern Medical School and Rice University. Rice’s engineering department was represented by Drs. Rebecca Richards-Kortum and Gang Bao as well as several other speakers. Speakers from our departments of obstetrics and gynecology, pediatric surgery, and pediatrics were Drs. Kevin Lally, Eric Eichenwald, Charles Cox, Manish Shah, and Ramesha Papanna. Also in attendance were Drs. Pramod Dash, Anthony Johnson, and Jerri Refuerzo. After sharing our clinical problems and needs and some of our ongoing research, the engineers presented their technological capabilities and potential solutions. It was fascinating, and I can’t wait to see how these teams work together and expand to other clinical specialties. Houston is home to tremendous brainpower, and it is exciting to see collaboration in action solving clinical challenges.
That evening, Memorial Hermann Health System’s Red’s Sky Gala honored Houston trauma icon Dr. Red Duke, thanked Dan Wolterman for his years of service, and introduced incoming CEO and President Dr. Benjamin Chu. I had the opportunity to chat with Dr. Chu, who will join us at the July 18 clinical chairs meeting.
But before heading to the gala that day, I attended my first Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences commencement. It was a joyous and stately event that highlighted the wonderful partnership between Deans Michael Blackburn (UTHealth) and Michelle Barton (MD Anderson). I was proud to see so many of our master’s and doctoral students mentored by our faculty earn their degrees, taking that next step toward starting a career in biomedical science.
Speaking of commencement, this week I met with Student Affairs and Admissions for the first run-through of our own McGovern Medical School commencement. Of course I’m thrilled to experience my first commencement as dean, a particularly special commencement for our school as it is our inaugural McGovern Medical School commencement. This is an incredible moment for us to reflect upon and remember what this new name means for our school, our culture, and our future.
Being in Texas, I couldn’t let May 5 slip by the calendar as just another day. I celebrated Cinco de Mayo with Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, some of their Board members, and our pediatricians at Hotel ZaZa for a Summer Soiree. With wonderful food and camaraderie, we discussed our impact on the community.
I attended the LBJ Chiefs meeting yesterday, where we heard an update on the AMS contract from Dr. Jose Garcia; an update from the new administrator of LBJ Hospital, Dr. Alan Vierling; and met Philip Boedeker, the new communications specialist for LBJ. As always, Dr. Carmel Dyer led a wonderful meeting of the Chiefs.
Last week, Dr. Dyer, associate dean for Harris County Programs, presented a solution to healthy aging at the UT System Chancellor’s Council Annual Meeting and Symposium in Austin. Dr. Dyer explained how the UTHealth model of a geriatric hospital within a hospital could provide specialized care required by an elderly population and how that model could then be replicated throughout the state, making Texas a place to age healthily. This is a fantastic idea whose time has come.
May is designated as teaching excellence month. Congratulations to the wonderful faculty, who will be celebrated May 17 at a reception hosted by the Office of Educational Programs. In addition, congratulations to the three inaugural winners of the Women Faculty Forum Excellence Awards: Dr. Joyce Samuel, Dr. Yang Xia, and Dr. Joy Schmitz.
I was pleased to attend the Bone Diseases of Texas Retreat last week, a collaborative effort of UTHealth (Dr. Jacqueline Hecht), MD Anderson (Dr. Robert Gagel), and Baylor College of Medicine (Dr. Brendan Lee).
It is always a delight to attend a House Calls evening at the warm and welcoming home of Carolyn Keenan and Charlie Gaines. Last evening Dr. Johnny Huard gave a compelling talk on the Future of Regenerative Medicine. Dr. Huard is passionate about science and has a way to engender that passion in others. There was lots of interest, particularly on stem cell research, and many questions. I’m ready to give him my stem cells to store “for a rainy day.”