The University of Texas Medical School at Houston The University of Texas Medical School at Houston
April 25, 2008 | from the Office of Dean Giuseppe Colasurdo

Distributed on Fridays via e-mail to all Medical School employees, students, residents, and postdoctoral fellows, UT 2 Me is Dean Giuseppe Colasurdo's weekly update of news and items of interest. He also welcomes feedback through this two-way communication.

This week I hope you have taken time to appreciate and celebrate our administrative professionals. It takes everyone working together to continue on this innovative path we have set forth for the Medical School, and I want to thank all of the staff for their support and hard work. As I have said before, the staff members are the backbone of this institution. A special thank you to all of the administrative support staff who help faculty and staff do their jobs better every day. You know we would be lost without you.

Each of us is a part of an amazing team here at the Medical School. The new Fact Book was just published from the Health Science Center, revealing that the Medical School has 840 total faculty, 1203 staff, 935 students, and 797 residents. We had nearly 1 million patient visits in 2007, and our research expenditures are up to $115 million – a giant leap from $63 million in 1998. These are unbelievable statistics, which show how much every one of you contributes to our mission. While I am very proud of the Medical School’s accomplishment, I want to encourage collaboration with the other Health Science Center schools and the IMM so that we can improve the Health Science Center as a whole.

One way for us to improve our offerings to students is through the creation of scholarly concentrations, which I have talked about previously. An alumnus wrote to me about this topic and wondered if the intent of this program was to promote the subspecialization of our students at an early point in the curriculum. It is not our intention to subspecialize the curriculum, as the concentrations will be offered in addition to the existing curriculum. Rather, our goal is to help students transition into any professional choice. About 40 percent of our graduates go into primary care – internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, and family and community medicine. We will strongly consider a concentration in this area and are seeking faculty and friend endorsements to fund scholarships in these areas.

Speaking of support for scholars, I am pleased to let you know that the National Institutes of Health has renewed its training grant for our Summer Research Program. Sixteen students are being sponsored on this grant, and the Dean’s Office will match funding provided by the mentoring faculty of 23 other students. I want to thank those faculty who have established these mentoring relationships with students – as the role of a mentor is a year-round responsibility.

One of our outstanding faculty members who is a great mentor and has a track record of producing successful junior faculty and fellows is Dr. John Reveille, director of the Division of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunogenetics. You may know that Dr. Reveille’s group is one of the best in the country, and we plan to help them in expanding the scope of their operations to include participating in a collaborative and multidisciplinary autoimmunity and immunology center – to be the only one in the city and one of the best in the country.

As I have mentioned, we are working on building a closer partnership between the Medical School and Memorial Hermann. I met with Dan Wolterman, president and CEO of Memorial Healthcare System;  Juanita Romans, CEO of Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center; Kevin Dillon, executive vice president, chief operating and finance officer; and Osama Mikhail, senior vice president for strategic planning, this week to discuss building our relationship. Dan is planning a town hall meeting at the Medical School (date to be announced), and I encourage you to attend to learn more about how we can become closer aligned to become more efficient.

Another town hall is in the works -- this one is planned with the sole finalist for the presidential position, Dr. Larry Kaiser, at 10 a.m. May 9 at the IMM. In addition to a meeting with faculty, staff, and students, he will be meeting with the leadership of the Health Science Center, and I look forward to getting to know him. I am confident he will continue the impressive work that Dr. Jim Willerson has begun.

I am pleased to report that the Medical School is structurally sound following our “run-in” this week with a Metro bus at the Ross Sterling breezeway. Please drive, and travel, safely!

This week we had an MSRDP Board meeting, where we heard updates on the group practice, the clinical performance at UT Physicians and LBJ, space planning for UT Physicians, and a new tagline for UT Physicians: 700 doctors, 80 specialties, individual care. The Medical Services Research and Development Plan (MSRDP) is the “trust fund” for the university’s clinical services, which encompasses our programs with the Harris County Hospital District and UT Physicians. The MSRDP is required by the UT System, and its bylaws are presently being updated. I would like to make this meeting more interactive, and I encourage clinical faculty participation. Let’s start with feedback on the new UT Physicians tagline.

We had a great visit this week with State Rep. Patrick Rose, who chairs the House Committee on Human Services. Rep. Rose toured the Medical School and discussed the $3 billion bond proposal passed by voters in the fall for cancer research and prevention. He said that he hopes the generosity of this funding will not support mediocrity, and I agree. The funding must be used to generate new knowledge and “cure” cancer, and I suggest the state look at building a first-class cancer initiative through the three Centers for Clinical and Translational Science in the state (Houston, Dallas, and next San Antonio) in concert with M. D. Anderson and other leading institutions.

More immediately, we are close to a final agreement on our operating budget with the Harris County Hospital District. This will be predominately based on an FTE (full-time equivalent) structure and include a productivity component. On the Memorial Hermann – Texas Medical Center annual operating agreement, discussions remain strategic, and selective chairs may be called in to further discuss the growth and structure of clinical services provided by UT faculty at Memorial Hermann.

I want to close today by sharing an example of the great contributions of our incredibly talented faculty to our curriculum. One of our medical students was watching a “medical mystery” program and saw a young patient who had been misdiagnosed and undiagnosed by countless physicians. The student knew what was wrong at the outset -- thanks to an invaluable lesson by Dr. Pedro Mancias, pediatric neurologist – before an astute clinician properly provided the diagnosis. This is just one example of the many clinical difficulties that our students can solve as a result of their search of knowledge and our great faculty. This is the greatest example of our educational environment at work – understanding situations that at times you don’t find in the textbook.

Have a great weekend,


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