The University of Texas Medical School at Houston The University of Texas Medical School at Houston
July 17, 2009 | from the Office of Dean Giuseppe Colasurdo

Distributed every other Friday 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 announce that Dr. Walter Lowe has been selected as our new chair of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. This appointment will certainly strengthen the department, which has a solid clinical reputation. I know Dr. Lowe will build upon the efforts of his predecessors, Dr. Kyle Dickson and Dr. Tom Clanton, to create something that this community will be proud of for a long time. Dr. Lowe told me he is truly excited and honored by the new position, and we share his feelings. He is a graduate of our Medical School, so I am certain he will do well.

This position marks the eighth department chair that has been filled since I was appointed dean. In my opinion, our school is our chairs. I expect them to lead and advance our school and its missions, and I think they are doing an outstanding job.

Speaking of chairs, I met with Dr. Hazim Safi this week, who is going out to explore clinical opportunities in the community. He and his group will be providing support for vascular and thoracic surgery and Memorial Hermann Southeast and Northeast. I applaud his work to build these relationships and grow UT Physicians, and I encourage all of the chairs to explore such opportunities.

I am happy to share the good news of the clinical group practice with you – by the end of June, charges were up 13 percent from last year at this time. This is remarkable considering the economic challenges we face these days, and I am grateful to the faculty and staff who are making this happen. Among the impressive increases from our clinical departments were the Department of Otorhinolaryngology, the Department of Pediatric Surgery, and the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. The majority of our departments are posting a positive margin now, which is great, but there always is room for improvement as the success of our group practice is critical for the growth of our academic programs. Our researchers also are working hard. I am pleased with the large number of proposals they have submitted for stimulus and conventional grants. We are beginning to learn the outcome of these efforts, which I am confident will be positive. I never doubt the talent and competitive nature of our faculty.

This is a great time for us to be a part of the Medical School and the UT System, which grants more than one-third of the state’s undergraduate degrees and educates nearly three-fourths of the state’s health care professionals each year.  As such, our institution continues to be tuned into the national health care reform discussion. I attended two meetings on the topic last week sponsored by President Larry Kaiser. Look for an upcoming UT 2 Me and a special department chair meeting dedicated to this topic.

I want to give a well-deserved “thank you” to the outstanding Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation faculty who moved to the UT Professional Building to accommodate new faculty in the Medical School building doing bench research. This is a great example of collaboration and support for the expansion of our programs. Regardless of where they are officed, they are our great UT Physicians who I know are proud to be among best provider centers in the nation – as Memorial Hermann TIRR was just named in the top five in the nation for their excellent care.

In other news, a new critical care program has been developed in collaboration with Memorial Hermann – Texas Medical Center, with the support of Juanita Romans and Dr. Jeff Katz. Led by Dr. Bela Patel, we now have six full-time critical care physicians and 12 fellows in a new structure that prioritizes the highest standards of patient care. This group is available and dedicated to all of the medical and surgical services, and I encourage our departments to engage Dr. Patel and to work together as we serve a growing number of critically ill patients. We aim this to be a referral service for all physicians practicing in our facilities in the Texas Medical Center.

I am happy to announce Memorial Hermann will be the Presenting Co-Sponsor of the 2010 March for Babies. You may recall President Kaiser will be the chair, and I encourage you all to mark your calendars for April 25 – we want this to be the best walk ever.

Also for clinical faculty members, please make plans to attend the MSRDP quarterly board meeting at 4 p.m., Monday in MSB 2.103.

Another item for your calendar is Sept. 24 – National Postdoc Appreciation Day. Dr. Philip Clifford, associate dean for postdoctoral education at the Medical College of Wisconsin, will join us for a special seminar. I am happy to see our postdoc numbers increasing – the Medical School is home to about 160 of the 210 postdocs of the Health Science Center. Although my list of requests is long these days, we will try to keep our young, energetic, international friends happy.

As we approach the end of the fiscal year, our budget meetings with each department continue. I want to thank the DMOs and chairs for their time and for addressing the differences between requests and available funding. We are carefully looking at expenses in these lean budgets, including faculty compensation. I have encouraged the chairs to review the compensation/productivity table that the administration has developed and to make specific recommendations. In order for us to support growth and remain competitive, we need an incentive-based group practice. Unfunded research is not sustainable in this environment.

You know I am always looking for your feedback, and want to bring your attention to the UT Physicians survey online. If you have been one of our patients, we welcome your positive and critical feedback in order to make improvements.

Have a great weekend,


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