The University of Texas Medical School at Houston The University of Texas Medical School at Houston
October 17, 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 have some good news to share with you: After a national search, I am very pleased and proud to announce a new chair for the Department of Internal Medicine, Dr. David McPherson. Internal Medicine is such a large and complex department, and I feel it should be the leading department of the Medical School. Dr. McPherson will provide the leadership to take this department to the next level, although it is not a one-person job. He will have to rely upon his chiefs and engage strong leaders. I believe he has the qualities to bring people together – he is ambitious, a team player, and effective at recruitment. He joined our faculty just two years ago and has since been named the primary investigator of the Center for Clinical and Translational Sciences and the director of the Memorial Hermann – Texas Medical Center Heart and Vascular Institute. He understands the importance of developing all of the divisions of this department, not just cardiology, and I know he will do very well.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Dr. Philip Orlander, who served as the department’s interim chair for more than a year, promoting the stability of the department during his tenure. You may know that Dr. Orlander is an established clinician and a phenomenal educator. We are grateful for his bridging of this massive department, and I am certain he will continue to contribute to the growth of internal medicine.

I want to thank State Rep. Dr. John Zerwas for his grand rounds presentation this week. He gave fresh information to our faculty on leadership, which is applicable to all of our faculty, staff, and students. If you missed the presentation, you may view it here. I like this quote from James Orlikoff, that he shared: “It is the job of leadership to drive the organization into the next paradigm, the next cure, the next environment … but not to keep things the way they’ve always been.” We will invite him back again.

Following that lecture, I received some feedback from a faculty member about what UT means to him: U Unsurpassed T Teaching, Training, Treatment, and Trust. What does UT mean to you?

You have undoubtedly heard the news that our founding chair of the Department of Reproductive Medicine and Biology, Dr. Emil Steinberger, passed away Oct. 12. I went to the funeral this week, along with many other UT representatives, including former Medical School deans. Dr. Nachum Dafny and Dr. Henry Strobel both gave very eloquent remarks at the services. Although I did not know him as well as so many of you did, I learned that Emil was very honest with others, which helped them to develop their own careers.

We lost another good friend of the Medical School last week. Rick Smith, director of chaplaincy services for Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, died unexpectedly while on a medical mission trip to Africa. Both of these friends will be missed.

I attended a few minutes of the Curriculum Committee this week, where Dr. Eugene Boisaubin led the discussion on the education of our students. We are reassessing the structure and resources of our educational program, and much good work is under way. I look forward to more discussions on these topics and thank those involved for caring about our students and their education – their reward is the success of our students. Our students want us leading medical education and making it relative to their lives – their future clinical life and more immediate standardized testing. Despite the financial hardships of our current economy, I pledge that the Medical School’s savings will go to education.

I was able to see a nice example of student mentorship in action this week. I had lunch with Dr. Pedro Mancias, associate professor of pediatrics, and first-year student Scarlett Boulos, who has an interest in pediatric neurology. She said Dr. Mancias’ message of hard work and being motivated, which he relayed at the White Coat ceremony, influenced her as a future physician. I encourage our role models and mentors to reach out and be involved in our students’ academic careers, as Dr. Mancias already has.

There has been harsh news from some of our fellow academic institutions about how they are handling this economic downturn. The University of Massachusetts, the University of Washington, and the public colleges in Virginia are all facing millions of dollars in budget cuts as those states look to absorb budget deficits. I am pleased to say we are not in this position and remain a very stable institution and state. Thank you for your hard work in keeping us strong and paying close attention to departmental spending.

We had a very productive meeting regarding collaboration between the Medical School and the nationally acclaimed TIRR Memorial Hermann. Carl Josehart, TIRR Memorial Hermann CEO; Jeff Scott, DMO; Dr. Gerard Francisco, interim chair of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation; and I discussed faculty recruitment and compensation and how we can serve the community needs while addressing the competition in this sophisticated medical center. I look forward to the integration of the TIRR name and brand with Memorial Hermann – Texas Medical Center and the Medical School.

We also had a good meeting at LBJ General Hospital with the service chiefs, Harris County Hospital District leadership, and Dr. Steve Brown, associate dean for Harris County programs. We reviewed our financial status and revisited our performance during Ike, analyzing what was done well and what we can improve upon. 

Dr. Stanley Schultz, associate dean for institutional advancement, represented the Medical School at a UT System meeting this week on its global initiative. The UT System is interested in advancing educational opportunities and exchange programs for students throughout the world. I will keep you updated on this group’s progress.

Dr. Jose Garcia, professor of pediatrics, was named Outstanding Texas Volunteer for Program Services this week from the March of Dimes. Please join me in congratulating him for his great work.

I am looking forward to honoring our recently promoted faculty at our annual Faculty Promotions dinner tonight. Three of our promoted faculty will give remarks: Dr. Samer Fakhri, who single handedly preserved the Department of Otorhinolaryngology – he was the department’s only faculty member at one time; Dr. Jeff Actor, who has championed the Faculty Senate and its involvement in communications and policymaking; and Dr. Joan Mastrobattista, who is a clinical leader in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. It is important to take time out and recognize the achievements and career development of our faculty.

Next week, on Oct. 22, I hope you will join me at the Office of Communication’s open house. For more details click here.

Have a great weekend,


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