The University of Texas Medical School at Houston The University of Texas Medical School at Houston
May 9, 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.

I am pleased to welcome Dr. Larry Kaiser, the sole finalist for the presidency of the UT Health Science Center, to our campus today. I hope that you had the opportunity to attend the Town Hall meeting he hosted this morning to hear firsthand of his leadership style, values, and the experiences he brings to UT-Houston. I enjoyed my visit with him, and I look forward to getting to know him better. He has an incredible track record and has been very successful in building one of the best surgery departments in the nation, complete with strong philanthropic support. I am certain that he will apply this philosophy here. His potential confirmation is on the agenda for the UT System Board of Regents meeting May 14-15. A strong medical school is required for a leading health science center, and we will commit to that goal of excellence.

Earlier this week, we had a couple of special celebrations – our Cinco de Mayo lunch and the grand opening of the Dan L. Duncan Children’s Neurodevelopment Clinic both were held on Monday. At the Cinco de Mayo fest, we celebrated the diversity of our Medical School community. Our goal is to have an institution that reflects our community and celebrates our diverse cultures. It takes all of us working together to achieve this.  The Dan L. Duncan clinic is the newest addition to the Children’s Learning Institute, which was founded in 2003 by Dr. Susan Landry. You would be hard pressed to find such a multidisciplinary center anywhere in the world. The center’s team is dedicated to children with complex learning and developmental disorders and is an asset not only to the Health Science Center but to our entire community. Such a comprehensive approach can only exist within an academic setting, which features the strong clinical and research components that allow us to provide the best care for patients and train the physicians of tomorrow.

We had a great visit Tuesday with Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who came to announce the award of $5 million from the Texas Emerging Technology Fund for our new trauma research center, which will be headed up by Col. John Holcomb, M.D. The lieutenant governor understands our environment of clinical service and research and will return for a visit to discuss how best practices in health care and education may be applied more globally throughout the state. Texas ranks in the 40s out of all of the states for access and quality in health care despite considerable expenses – planning, collaboration, and accountability are needed to improve these unacceptable quality trends.

Also this week, we had a follow-up meeting with Kevin Dillon, executive vice president and chief operating officer; Juanita Romans, CEO of Memorial Hermann – Texas Medical Center; and Dan Wolterman, president and CEO of Memorial Hermann Healthcare System, to further explore the partnership between our institutions. Similarly, we have begun discussions to reassess our staffing model at LBJ General Hospital. Emphasis will be placed on high-quality and efficient clinical services that will improve the overall experience for patients and families. We have strong support at high levels to strengthen these relationships, and both sides will continue the discussion in the next few weeks on this topic as we strive to become more efficient, improving our quality and curbing our expenses. Through this relationship we will reinvest in programs that are beneficial to our institutions and our community.

I had the opportunity this week to attend my first Faculty Wives and Women Faculty event, the group’s annual spring luncheon. This organization, a powerful and influential group, has been a great supporter of the Medical School since its founding in 1973. These women serve as ambassadors in our community, and I thank them and encourage them to continue to proclaim the good messages of the Medical School as we reach new heights. Dr. Peter Davies, executive vice president for research, gave a wonderful overview of the history of research at the event, showing how biomedical research has saved lives. Our recent award from the National Institutes of Health for the Center for Clinical and Translational Sciences, along with all of the other prestigious grants our investigators receive, are evidence that the NIH strongly believes in our scientific community.

I want to let you know of another prestigious award – this one received by a group of psychiatry residents, all of whom graduated from our Medical School: Drs. Magdalena Peixoto, Peter Ly and Tanya Krolls. This talented group received the 2008 Excellence on Education Award from the American Psychiatric Association this week during the group’s annual meeting. This is truly outstanding for our trainees to represent the Medical School so well on a national level. We are committed to helping the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, as we have strengthened its residency program and will be adding fellowships in addiction and depression. This is an area that we must build as we face a significant shortage of psychiatrists – both adult and pediatric.

I am pleased to announce another accolade – Dr. Eric Thomas, associate professor of internal medicine, has been named a Chancellor’s Health Fellow by Dr. Kenneth Shine, executive vice chancellor for health affairs. This is an important recognition for Dr. Thomas and our school, which shows our strong leadership role in education.

We are making progress on our pharmaceutical conflict of interest policy. It is shaping up to be a rather strict policy for gifts and lunches, with the exception of research support. The discussion is clearly beneficial to our environment, and the document is awaiting the Faculty Senate’s final approval.

Regarding the educational programs, our faculty, residents, and students will not be happy with the “survival mode” in which some seem to be operating. We must have a competitive residency program – and we do have a large one, ranked 13th in the nation in terms of size. We have a big responsibility to match the quality of our trainees, and we will place an increasing scrutiny on the structure of our programs. The institutional expectations for teaching and mentoring will continue to increase as we learn how to create an environment that enhances recognition for education and promotes training initiatives. The value of bedside, evidence-based teaching remains essential as we continue to introduce an increasing number of technological options to our educational programs.

In closing, I want to share a message from the book “Conversation with a Medical School – The University of Texas-Houston Medical School, 1970-2000," written by Dr. Bryant Boutwell and Dr. John P. McGovern: “It is almost routine that people tell us that this School has a different attitude to them than other schools have. It is hard for them to describe exactly what it is, but it is one of interest, of courtesy, of being really caring for students who are under stress at the time they are here." Let’s carefully protect these “mysterious” values. Let’s continue to build on this strong “attitude.”

Have a great weekend,


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