The University of Texas Medical School at Houston The University of Texas Medical School at Houston
April 18, 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.

By now you probably know the news that the sole finalist for the next president of the UT Health Science Center has been named. Dr. Larry Kaiser, chair of surgery at the University of Pennsylvania, has a strong track record in research, teaching, and clinical care, directing one of the top surgical departments in the country. We are looking forward to upcoming “meet and greets” with the sole finalist and welcome him back to our campus. The UT System Board of Regents is expected to finalize Dr. Kaiser’s selection at its May 14-15 meeting.

New statistics from the UT System reveal we are part of an incredible enterprise – one of the nation’s largest higher education systems. The UT System has an annual operating budget of $10.7 billion, with $2.3 billion in research dollars. Student enrollment exceeds 194,000, and the UT System employs more than 81,000 people. Impressive.

As part of the UT System, we are charged with improving and enhancing our educational model. The future of education is the topic of an upcoming retreat of UT System presidents. President Jim Willerson will present on new directions in education, how our schools will grow our student and faculty bodies to eliminate deficits in specific professions, and tackle the topics of curriculum changes and distance education. Education, just as in research and clinical care, requires us to look forward and visualize our future instead of reacting to trends and crises.

If you are in tune with the news of the day, you couldn’t help but see the New England Journal of Medicine article about premature survival factors, which appeared in publications from the New York Times to USA Today. Co-authored by our own Dr. Jon Tyson, Dr. Nehal Parikh, and Dr. Charles Green, the article was the result of a six-year study of neonates born in hospitals of the Neonatal Research Center, which is comprised of 16 institutions nationwide. Memorial Hermann- Texas Medical Center and LBJ General Hospital were among the sites used for this research, which is a great example of partnership and collaboration.

The Medical School also made the front page of the Houston Chronicle this morning thanks to the good work of Dr. Mark Wong, professor in the Division of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. Again, another good example of collaboration, as the article highlighted a research project with Rice University focused on regenerative medicine.

I want to let you know that we are having challenges with providing selected services. Some clinical specialties in high demand – interventional radiology, pediatric surgery, and cardiology – are struggling at LBJ. We hope to be fully staffed by the end of the academic year and are putting a plan in place for our teaching and clinical programs there. On the research recruitment side, we must learn to be efficient and collaborative to encourage science. This means sharing equipment and resources. We will “furnish” the new Medical School Research building so that people can aggressively search for new knowledge; we just need to look at our equipment needs and see if some creative collaboration can help us maximize our resources. We always support the technical development of our faculty.

The pharmaceutical conflict of interest policy is still under review. We will continue to explore this issue and retain and promote efforts for collaboration with industry in translational and clinical research.

A big “thank you” to all of those faculty who interview student applicants. I really appreciate your hard work in the admissions process. I encourage faculty to contribute to this process as our new students are selected. I am amazed that some of our faculty interview 40-50 applicants a year.

I also want to thank the faculty and alumni who have responded to our call for financial support. Please help us support our educational and research endeavors – more than 30 faculty, staff, and alumni have given back to the Medical School to support scholarships, research, and special projects. We deeply appreciate your generosity.

Along the lines of development, we have a small committee prioritizing our research investments. This group will look for links with development as we seek to integrate our research program and recruit and build in areas where we can excel. We don’t want to look where research is now but instead where it will be invented 3-5 years from now. Exceptional individuals, from around the world, with innovative technologies and “high-risk” ideas should be aggressively recruited to lead our ambitious research mission.

I attended a spectacular meeting at the School of Public Health this week, “Bridging the Divide: From Institutional Health to Community Well-being.” The panel discussion featured Michael Jhin, former CEO of St. Luke’s Episcopal Health System; Larry Mathis, former CEO of  The Methodist Hospital System; and Dan Wilford, former CEO of Memorial Hermann Healthcare System. They gave us historical insights on the challenges of working within the Texas Medical Center, including past negotiations between institutions.

The deans of the health science center visited the Memorial Hermann Memorial City campus to meet with their leadership in response to Dan Wolterman’s (president and CEO of Memorial Hermann Healthcare System) request of a closer partnership between our organizations. I am impressed by that operation, and we strongly support the MHH leadership’s vision to strengthen our relationship and expand our programs within Memorial City.

I want to let you know the March of Dimes’ March for Babies is April 27. To join a team or more information, contact Rose Mary Betancourt-Trevino at 713-500-3209 or

On professionalism this week, I want to remind you that the role of a leader is to bring people together. Again, I am hearing of unprofessional behavior from our faculty and staff; however, I also know that individuals are taking the initiative to improve professionalism and customer service. At UT Physicians, an employee has created a presentation on customer service and problem solving, and in the Medical School we have an office conducting internal professional development courses taught by their peers. I applaud these efforts and encourage you to contribute to improving professionalism. E-mail me and let me know how you incorporate these values in your office and in your day.

Today was the dedication of Freeman Hall, which is on the ground floor of the Medical School Expansion. The portrait of John H. Freeman was unveiled, and we had a very nice event honoring the memory of Mr. Freeman, for whom the two-story building on that site was named. It was wonderful to hear stories about Mr. Freeman and the founders of what has become our incredible Texas Medical Center. As Mr. Freeman said, “There is no limit to what a man can do if he doesn’t care who gets the credit.”

Have a great weekend,


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