The University of Texas Medical School at Houston The University of Texas Medical School at Houston
Oct. 10, 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 had a visit from my good friend Dr. Herbert Fred. Each time Dr. Fred comes to my office, he captures me with his love of education. He reminds me that education is our primary mission – everything else comes after. I agree that we need to be known as a learning institution. Dr. Fred tells me that he considers himself a “medical dinosaur” – a physician committed to teaching but never forgetting the care and welfare of one’s patients. I have to admit that I am such a dinosaur myself, and I agree with him that bedside teaching is irreplaceable. Our students must be thoroughly versed in the basics of being a good doctor – how to take a patient’s history and perform a physical examination. This school is committed to education, and I am looking forward to our education retreat, which will focus on the full spectrum – from attracting students to giving them the best educational experience.

All of the assistant and associate deans had a nice meeting this week with President Larry Kaiser. Each dean presented the challenges, goals, and qualities of their respective areas. I’ll share a few of the highlights with you: Dr. John Byrne, assistant dean for research affairs, made the point that investigators need to be brought together through project program grants and training grants. Dr. Jon Tyson, assistant dean for clinical research, said one of the main challenges we face is finding protected time for faculty to pursue educational careers. Dr. Judianne Kellaway talked about how our student American Medical Association/Texas Medical Association group was named best in the nation in part because of the efforts they put forward to make the student interview experience the best in the country. I think Dr. Kaiser enjoyed everyone’s presentations and learning more about our Medical School – I thank him for his support and interest.

Speaking of our student interview process, faculty interviewers are needed for this important role. Each week, the offices of Admissions and Student Affairs must scramble to find faculty members to fill the slots. As we want to be known as an institution that prioritizes learning, the first contact our potential students have with a faculty interviewer is extremely important. Please e-mail me if you are willing to spend some time interviewing these applicants and helping to create a great class.

This week we honored five outstanding graduate researchers: Venkata Mogatadaakala, in Dr. Ponnada Narayana’s lab; Patrick Gibney, in Dr. Kevin Morano’s lab; Brett Chiquet, in Dr. Jacqueline Hecht’s lab; Diego Gutnisky, in Dr. Valentin Dragoi’s lab; and Wade Kothmann, in Dr. John O’Brien’s lab. These five blew me away with their “complicated” presentations of their spectacular research in varying fields of medicine. I know they will continue to master their presentation skills as they investigate the mechanisms driving their complicated language. This is a terrific example of driven students and their dedicated mentors.

We celebrated the start of the State Employee Charitable Campaign this week, which runs through the end of October. Regardless of the deadline or solicitation, giving back and showing our gratitude are sentiments we all share. I wrote out my first SECC check yesterday to UTMB, and I encourage you to show your UT spirit through this campaign.

Dr. Margaret McNeese brought to my attention another individual who has done much to facilitate the process of integrating  UTMB students into our environment. Jamie Munsinger, in Student Affairs, has been responsible for securing these students’ badges, pager rental, parking options, and e-mail accounts among other student necessities. Thank you, Jamie!

I would like to remind you that State Rep. Dr. John Zerwas will present a grand rounds, “Physician Leadership, or the Art of Herding Cats” at 8 a.m. Oct. 14 in MSB 3.001. I hope you all will be able to attend.

On the clinical front, I am pleased to report that we are making progress with our discussions with Memorial Hermann regarding a multidisciplinary critical care and hospitalist program. This program will promote the partnership between these two institutions and empower our physicians, who will lead these efforts.

Our nation is experiencing financial hardships unlike any I have seen in my two decades here. As we reset our plans for growth, we must promote the stability of our school. We are fully committed to ensuring our strength, and our administration takes this very seriously. We will be monitoring our first-quarter expenses, and we will depend on our managers to adjust expenses as we look to increase revenues. I feel confident that we have very qualified individuals in our financial roles who care about this institution – we are in good hands.

As we face new economic realities, the Medical School will have to reduce expenditures and improve efficiencies.  One way we are looking to do this is through the sharing of space. Space at our Medical School is at a premium – we simply do not have enough room for faculty offices. I want to encourage everyone to be collaborative with their space and think of opening it up to a neighbor instead of creating silos throughout our buildings. We also must share our technology and our techniques – if we don’t do this among our faculty, then where?

I have been pleased to receive your responses to the question I posed last week: What will you do differently this year compared to last? To make such a change, or fix a problem, you must have a proper diagnosis of the problem and then set priorities to remedy it. This is what we are doing with our billing strategy – we had our first meeting on this topic this week. This process of identifying the issue first, examining its cause and history, is an important step that must not be overlooked and that is applicable to all areas. What problems are you working on diagnosing? Let me know.

I encourage you to remember that adversity creates opportunities for improvement in everything we do – it also brings people together.

Have a great weekend,


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