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
March 12, 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 update of news and items of interest. He also welcomes feedback via e-mail.

Well my calendar these days have been filled with strategic budget meetings. The word “budget” is perceived differently by everyone, and we are always mindful of the effect this word has on the morale of faculty and staff. 

So far, we have reviewed the budgets of 14 Medical School departments, and each one takes a varied approach to our collective goal of long-term stability. From the bold approach of neurosurgery, the enthusiasm of anesthesiology and pathology, the solid reputation of dermatology, and the experience of emergency medicine, to the challenging nature of our "primary care" programs, the difficult payor mix of diagnostic and interventional imaging, and the highly organized structure of integrative biology and pharmacology, I appreciate the hard work and leadership of each of our departments. Someone told me the other day that “no one can be thanked enough.” And I believe this is true.

As we go forward in our budget planning for the new fiscal year, we are doing so with a 5 percent reduction in state funds. Even in these tough economic times, our Medical School and institution remain strong. UTHealth has posted a positive margin the last seven years, and our Medical School practice plan is projecting another positive margin this year thanks to your hard work, the support of our hospital partners, and the continued mindfulness of expenses and improving efficiencies.

In this climate, we must reward productive people who are helping us achieve our amazing milestones – educating our highest number of residents and students, marking our greatest improvement in the group practice, exceeding new faculty recruits by 400 in the last two years. These are outstanding accomplishments – and our good people who have done this work must be retained and recognized.

It was a chilly day when we opened the doors to the new Behavioral and Biomedical Sciences Building last month, but I understand that Dr. Jair Soares and his faculty are now moved in and content in their new home. Thanks to the generosity of Mrs. Evelyn Griffin, the Evelyn H. Griffin Stem Cell Therapeutics Research Laboratory is now open, and Dr. Charles Cox will direct the regenerative medicine program in that facility.

You have probably read that in an effort to improve efficiencies and collaborations, President Kaiser announced a new reporting structure for the Institute of Molecular Medicine, moving it from the Office of the President to the Medical School, effective March 1. A town hall meeting with IMM faculty, Dr. Tom Caskey, President Kaiser, and the Medical School administration is planned for next week, where we will address the issues of tenure, research and clinical integration, opportunities for mentorship, and involvement in the educational program. The IMM is a successful institution, and I am confident that working together we will be able to greatly advance its long-term financial outlook. I want to reassure the IMM faculty that its goal and mission is unchanged, and Dr. Caskey’s model for innovative research is one in which we strongly believe.

I want to thank the Vaughans for inviting us into their lovely home Thursday evening as we enlarge the circle of friends of this institution.

The Friends of the Medical School were out in full force at a recent lunch at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church, which featured Dr. Carmel Dyer describing her incredible aging center. I cannot thank Sally Harvin enough for her leadership developing this very successful program.

I always enjoy visiting with our faculty, and I had the chance to talk with Dr. Erik Wilson recently, who is an international leader in minimally invasive and bariatric surgery. He is incredibly productive – one of those faculty members who refuses to sit still. His contributions to the field are numerous  as demonstrated by his invited lectures at Duke, Cincinnati, and the country of Columbia combined with his recently published paper on robotic-assisted gastric bypass surgery. I am grateful for his leadership and innovation.

I also very much enjoyed meeting with Dr. Dong Kim and Dr. Roc Chen, a recently recruited faculty who has become a leader in the city for endovascular neurosurgery. Dr. Kim has a genuine interest in promoting his faculty's career development, and I am confident  Dr. Chen and his colleagues will provide significant contributions in the field of clinical neurosciences. It is inspiring to see a chair who cares about developing the career of young faculty, and I want to see a lot more of this.

Dr. Sheila Coogan, one of our outstanding cardiovascular surgeons, recently hosted an open house for her new clinic in the community. I applaud her sharing knowledge and serving a need beyond our TMC borders.

Recently, President Kaiser and I have had very productive meetings with our Memorial Hermann friends, Juanita Romans, Chuck Stokes, and Dan Wolterman. We have never had the support we have today from Memorial Hermann leadership, and we are grateful for this partnership.

President Kaiser and I also recently met with AAMC President Dr. Darrell Kirch to talk frankly about the current and future challenges of our academic health center, especially in light of uncertain “health reform.”

I am looking forward to a special student event hosted by Ralph and Becky O’Connor, which will help promote our need for student scholarships. We will have representation from the “old school” and “new school” of teaching to give us a talk – Dr. Red Duke and Dr. LaTanya Love.  I can’t wait to hear what they have to say. Speaking of Dr. Love, I would like to congratulate her on her new position as assistant dean for the newly combined Office of Admissions and Student Affairs.

UT System Chancellor Dr. Francisco Cigarroa and Executive Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs Dr. Ken Shine were among those on campus for a recent visit by the UT System. Although it was not easy to describe the tremendous progress of the Medical School in 15 minutes, I think our leadership felt the positive momentum and bold attitude of our people, and they always enjoy the fresh reports directly from the students.

Have a great weekend,



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