The University of Texas Medical School at Houston
The University of Texas Medical School at HoustonThe University of Texas Medical School at Houston
The University of Texas Medical School at Houston
Feb. 15, 2010 | 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 regular update of news and items of interest. He also welcomes feedback through this two-way communication.

These are busy times for the Medical School as department chair reviews have begun, new recruitments are under way, our clinical programs are expanding into the community, and guidelines for budgeting for both fiscal year 2010 and 2011 are coming online. With all of these new tasks, we must remain focused upon our missions as we continue our aggressive but controlled growth.

Admissions is providing us good news – with 231 talented students currently on our acceptance list for next fall. This list of names will be fluid over the next few months, but I assure you we will only accept the best into our school. I thank the admissions committee and the countless volunteers who have worked hard to select these outstanding students.

After several successful residency site visits, our school must always be prepared for the next. I have no doubt that the Department of Otorhinolaryngology will shine at its review. We have discussed with all of our residency program directors the importance of maintaining accurate projections of residents to be accepted to our program July 1 in light of the increased costs associated with coming salary adjustments. As always, we emphasize our educational mission and must protect our residents from a heavy clinical load.

On the research front, we continue to receive great news about new grants and have applications from outstanding people who feel this place is unbeatable. Our new provost, Dr. Peter Davies, is looking at new initiatives for interdisciplinary collaborations to help us become even more competitive.
After 21 years of outstanding leadership, Dr. Sam Kaplan, chair of the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, is planning his retirement day. I want to thank him for building a phenomenal department and for his insightful recommendations as he has voiced his faculty’s wishes. I have appointed Dr. John Hancock, chair of the Department of Integrative Biology and Pharmacology, to lead the search committee for a chair who can build upon Dr. Kaplan’s great work.

Sadly we also must say good-bye to Dr. Pedro Ruiz, who served 16 years on the faculty of the Medical School in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. His dedication to education, research, and clinical excellence is evidenced by his recent appointment as president of the World Psychiatric Association.

Thanks to those who attended the Town Hall meeting last week. This was another opportunity to encourage two-way communication, and I appreciated your questions.

One of the topics we address was our current economic climate. I am looking to each of you to improve efficiencies and reduce expenses. I welcome your specific suggestions on these topics.

Speaking of money, we are approaching our annual operating agreement with Memorial Hermann. As we enter these discussions, we are heavily dependent upon the invaluable help of each of you, the chairs, Julie Page, and Angela Hintzel. Angela, our executive director of finance, always teaches me something about the complexities of our budget and its moving targets. I am grateful to her leadership and her effective team for all they do for our school.

At our recent clinical chairs meeting, we had the opportunity to hear from the Harris County Hospital District leadership. I appreciate their honest assessment of their present state and future challenges in this environment of undefined health care reform. You can be assured that we will continue to work with HCHD to promote health care access and quality.

I want to thank all of our participants at the Alumni Association Board meeting last week – several of whom attended via teleconferencing. I also want to wish the Alumni Board President Dr. John Green a happy 40th birthday (again). He and I have a lot in common – including not preferring the limelight.

Last week two of our star faculty, Dr. Hazim Safi and Dr. Dianna Milewicz, presented their outstanding clinical and research findings at UT Talks. Their outcomes are among the best in the world, and thanks to their good work, people are being screened and lives are being saved. Their good friend, Amy Yasbeck, shared her story about why genetic testing is so important and the relevance of bringing research to the clinical arena. Dr. Safi and our other experts will lead the Houston Aortic Symposium March 25-27, sharing their clinical excellence with colleagues.

Another strong team on our staff is Dr. Gretchen Von Allmen and Dr. James Baumgartner, who head up one of the busiest pediatric epilepsy program in the nation in terms of surgical approach to refractory epilepsy. This team has grown to incredible levels and handles all of the most challenging cases. I thank them for their outstanding work and commitment as we strive to make neurosciences a priority for our school.

We have another star in our midst – Dr. Jim Grotta was recognized this weekend by the American Heart Association with its medical award.

And it was an afternoon of stars at the annual STAR Awards Thursday. Recognizing years of service to the Health Science Center, dozens of Medical School honorees were a part of this special ceremony.  Among those Medical School employees marking 30 years: Carolyn Ardoin, Ivy Baines, Juserine Devereaux, Elizabeth Dial, K. Lance Gould, Jacqueline Hecht, Julia Lever, Roger O’Neil, Stanley Schultz, Linda Soliz, and Stephen Tucker. Talk about dedication! My congratulations and appreciation to all of those recognized this year. A reminder that the Medical School will celebrate a special milestone this year – its 40th.  Please save the date Sept. 1.

President Larry Kaiser officially kicked off this year’s Houston March of Dimes Wednesday in partnership with Memorial Hermann. Together we can show Houston our caring strengths, as money raised for the walk supports the health of babies.

And earlier this week, you all heard Dr. Kaiser say that now it is our time as he announced a new shortened name for the Health Science Center – UTHealth. Our name is long and complicated, and we thank Dr. Kaiser for his leadership of this effort to bring us increased recognition as bold, collaborative, caring, and cutting-edge. The brand promise is a reminder of why each of us comes to work every day, “to deliver innovative solutions that create the best hope for a healthier future.” Together, this is what we do.

Have a great weekend,


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