The University of Texas Medical School at Houston The University of Texas Medical School at Houston
May 17, 2009 | 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.

May not only marks commencement but it also is the month the Medical School recognizes teaching excellence. We honored this year’s teaching award recipients at a reception earlier this week. The outstanding faculty recognized included Dr. Cheves Smythe, the President’s Scholar Award for Teaching; Dr. Pedro Mancias, Benjy F. Brooks, M.D., Outstanding Clinical Faculty Award and the John P. McGovern Award; Dr. Francisco Fuentes, Herbert L. and Margaret W. DuPont Master Clinical Teaching Award; Dr. Margaret Uthman, John Freeman Faculty Teaching Award; and Dr. James “Red” Duke, Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award Presented by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation. A special award was granted this year to Dr. Allison Ownby, director of educational programs, who has been truly outstanding in her contributions to the Office of Educational Programs, led by Dr. Patricia Butler.

Dr. Butler and several of her colleagues represented the Medical School at the recent Millennium Conference 2009: Patient Safety – Implications for Teaching in the 21st Century. Our Medical School was among 10 medical schools in the nation selected to attend this conference, co-sponsored by the Carl J. Shapiro Institute for Education and Research at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts.

With 29,400 employees, do you know who the top corporate employer is in Houston? If you said UT, you are correct! This number includes everyone employed by The University of Texas System in the city, but to me it is not the number that counts. What counts are the values of this institution and the special qualities of the Medical School and the Health Science Center. I know you are proud to be a part of such a great and thriving institution.

President Larry Kaiser shared an incredible story with me this week about a good friend of his serving the troops in Iraq. The surgeon was called stat to the operating room for a patient with a gunshot wound to the chest. But this was a patient unlike most – it was the Special Forces dog. He operated all night on the dog, who is recovering nicely. This speaks to the heart and soul of physicians – giving their time and hard work for any life.

Our service and care to children were the topics of the Memorial Hermann quarterly meeting I presented at this week. Craig Cordola invited me to give an overview of the Medical School and the children’s programs before the new board of the Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital. I shared our strong growth in this area and Dr. Andrew Papanicolaou’s innovative work using magnetoencephalography (MEG) in clinical studies from epilepsy to autism. I want to thank the board and Dan Wolterman for their support of these programs. Proceeds from the recent Memorial Hermann’s Circle of Life Gala went to support the Children’s Hospital, and I’m told Children’s will be the beneficiary again next year.

I attended the annual Department of Pediatrics promotion meeting, where division chiefs presented to the committee selected faculty’s “readiness” for promotion.  We need to make sure meetings and peer reviews are more than just filling out paperwork – this is expected to be quality time spent between the supervisor and faculty and staff to talk in detail about career development.

I met with David Bradshaw, of Memorial Hermann, to expedite the process of aligning our branding initiatives with Memorial Hermann – Texas Medical Center and other partners. Andrew Casas, Rose Hochner, and the Office of Communications will continue this discussion as to how we can best connect with the community together. We will keep President Kaiser and the Health Science Center leadership informed of our progress.

If you haven’t already heard the news, I am pleased to announce Dr. Gerard Francisco as the chair of our Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. He has done a tremendous job as interim chair, and the future of the rehabilitation program and our partnerships with TIRR and LBJ General are very bright with his leadership. Speaking of new chairs, I want to thank Dr. John Holcomb and Dr. Carin Hagberg for their leadership of the orthopaedic surgery chair search. We have some phenomenal applicants, and I expect the committee to soon name the finalist(s) for this position. As you know, the role of the search committee is to screen candidates and then to make a recommendation. It is the final responsibility of the dean’s office to make sure we have the right individual to lead the department. 

This week we had the open house for the UT Otolaryngology Clinic at the Memorial Hermann Plaza. This is a beautiful space for this fully grown department, which I believe is the leading such group in the city. Of course, I may be biased on that point. I want to thank everyone who has contributed to this success, especially Memorial Hermann for its support.

Friday morning, I attended a March of Dimes meeting where President Larry Kaiser was invited to lead the Houston March of Dimes efforts next year. The success of this year’s event was remarkable – the Health Science Center had about 350 walkers, and the Houston walk is the largest in the nation. I know Dr. Kaiser was very honored by this request, and the Medical School is behind him with our support so that we can help the March of Dimes achieve its goals for the improvement of children’s health.

I am pleased to report we have a new structure of the Alumni Relations Office, and I want to thank the Alumni Association President Dr. John Green and the committee members for their support. I am confident the structure will allow that office to achieve something never before achieved for our students and alumni.

We are planning to convene a task force/committee to specifically address our plan for the next 3-5 years to make minority recruitment and retention a priority. I thank those of you who have reached out to volunteer your support on this topic – you are listening and you want to help. Please let me know if you are interested in participating.

Back to our faculty awards, Dr. Duke, this year’s humanism winner, was unable to attend but sent me a very nice letter. He wrote:

“It is always my intention to attempt to treat others, be they patients, colleagues or strangers with the dignity and respect that I can best determine would be their desire. I have never considered this some special behavior, just the manner in which any individual would relate to another human being.”

We are indeed fortunate to have Dr. Duke as a committed, long standing member of our faculty. There are so many of you like Dr. Duke – abiding by the Golden Rule and making our environment a better place.

Have a great weekend,


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