The Scoop: A Publication of the University of Texas Medical School at Houston

Produced by the Office of Communications // March 29, 2012

MS1 class joins hands with AIDS Foundation Houston

MS1s sand the playground structure to prepare it for staining.

MS1s sand the playground structure to prepare it for staining.

Every year, the first-year medical school class organizes a class service project to provide students with an opportunity to temporarily shelve the books, close the laptops, and serve the local community. On March 17, more than 80 first-year students made their way to Friendly Haven, an apartment complex for previously homeless families living with HIV/AIDS.

From sanding and staining an old, inherited playground to installing gates to prevent children from wandering through dangerous alleys, the MS1s collaborated to work on several projects. Other tasks included planting trees and flowers, installing two playground rides, rerouting gutter drainage, and setting up a new basketball net.

Throughout the workday, the children of Friendly Haven came out of their homes one by one to put on some gloves and find a spade or rake to help with landscaping. Marc Cohen, Care Services Manager, said that the children, by working alongside the student volunteers, were becoming more invested in the upkeep of their apartment complex and would be more likely to prevent other children from pulling flowers or damaging the grass.

Diann Lewter, the Board Chair of AIDS Foundation Houston, stopped by after receiving a few photos of the ongoing project and was enthused by the medical students’ work.

From a student standpoint, the project was a refreshing chance to give time and strength and remember the human aspect of health and medicine.

“We were able to give directly to current patients, though not our own, by adding new colors to the complex, as well as keeping the residents’ walk paths from flooding and establishing safety measures for the children,” said Grace Lee, service senator for the Class of 2015. “It was a rewarding experience, and the first-year medical class looks forward to more volunteer opportunities that lie ahead.”

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Torres wins Kaplan award

UT Permian Basin graduate and first-year medical school student Andrew Torres is the 2011 Stanley H. Kaplan Achievement Award for Graduates winner. As such, he has been named the top first-year medical student in the state by the Texas Association of Advisors for the Health Professions (TAAHP).

“The winner of the Kaplan Achievement Award has the bragging rights of being considered the outstanding first-year medical student in the state of Texas,” exclaimed his proud former instructor and adviser at UTPB Dr. Doug Spence.

Health professions advisers from every Texas college and university may nominate a student for the award. The winner is selected from all the nominees by a committee of TAAHP Executive Board members and celebrated at the annual TAAHP conference.

Torres graduated from UTPB in 2011 and while an undergraduate was accepted into the Joint Admission Medical Program (JAMP), a unique Texas state program to support and encourage highly-qualified Texas students to pursue a medical education. Through JAMP and other venues, he was able to visit or spend time at several Texas medical schools, becoming familiar with medical school personnel and they with him. He was accepted into his school of choice, The University of Texas Medical School at Houston, and says he plans to be an anesthesiologist.

Torres said he was stunned by the honor. “When I first found out I had won the award, I was completely shocked, and it took me a few days to really believe I had. Since I had been to the TAAHP conference the previous two years, I had seen the caliber of students who were selected for this award. I honestly didn't think I matched up,” he said. “Finding out the news was a great surprise, and extremely humbling.”

The Kaplan Achievement Award for Graduates winner receives a $1,000 cash award plus a free review course for the USMLE (United States Medical Licensing Exam) Step 1 exam, which all second-year medical school students are required to pass in order to proceed to the third year.

— Melanie Nicholas, Office of Public Information, UTPB

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Kao voted president-elect of AAS

Dr. Lillian Kao

Dr. Lillian Kao

Dr. Lillian Kao, associate professor of surgery, has been voted president-elect of the Association for Academic Surgery (AAS). She has previously served as AAS secretary, co-chair of both the education and leadership committees, and institutional representative.

Kao’s election to the one-year term was announced at the recent 7th Annual Academic Surgical Congress in Las Vegas. The meeting was hosted by the AAS and the Society of University Surgeons. Kao will start a term as association president in 2013.

Kao’s research focuses on providing evidence-based care to improve surgical outcomes, particularly with regard to surgical infections. Kao has had a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Physician Faculty Scholars Award and a National Institutes of Health award.

Kao is co-director of the Center for Surgical Trials & Evidence-based Practice, a member of the faculty for the Center for Clinical Research and Evidence-Based Medicine, a vice-chair of Quality of Care for the Department of Surgery, and a member of the University of Texas-Memorial Hermann Center for Healthcare Quality and Safety.

Founded in 1967, the AAS is the largest association of academic surgeons with more than 3,000 members worldwide.

— Robert Cahill, Office of Advancement, Media Relations

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Instrumentation available as part of CPRIT grant


As part of a shared instrumentation grant funded by the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT), the Medical School’s Institute for Molecular Medicine Flow Cytometry Service Center will select several investigators to receive CPRIT-supported use of the BD FACS Aria II.

The goal of the support is to stimulate new cancer research initiatives at the Texas Medical Center. The funds will offset the hourly usage re-charge rate of the instrument for TMC investigators who:

  1. are new to the area of cancer research
  2. in need of grant-bridging support
  3. constitute a new group of interdisciplinary faculty to spur new collaborations in cancer research

Selection of CPRIT-supported investigators will be performed by the IMM Flow Cytometry Advisory Committee.

If you are interested in receiving CPRIT-supported use of the BD FACS Aria II in the IMM Flow Cytometry Service Center, please submit to Amy Hazen by April 30 a one-page proposal outlining your project and your future plans to secure external sponsored research.

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Brains required

Children and families participate in Brain Night for Kids 2012, sponsored by the Neuroscience Research Center, at the John P. McGovern Museum of Health & Medical Science March 15.

— Dwight C. Andrews, Office of Communications, Medical School





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Events to know

Proposals for Faculty Development Leave are due April 1 in the Office of Faculty Affairs, MSB G.420. Proposals can be submitted twice a year: April 1 and Nov. 1. The guidelines can be found here. For questions, call Faye Viola, 713.500.5101.

March 30

LoneStar LEND Seminar: Dr. Linda Schmalstieg and Melinda Benjumea (MHMRA) present, “Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) and Development of the Texas State Plan.”
8:30–11:30 a.m., MSB 2.135.
This event is free and open to the public.

April 2

Department of Integrative Biology and Pharmacology Seminar Series: Dr. Donald Gill (Temple University) presents, “Calcium Signal Transduction and Stress Sensing through STIM Proteins.”
4–5 p.m., MSB 2.135.

April 4

Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences Grand Rounds: Dr. Glenn Belz, resident, presents, “Detecting Malingering.”
Noon–1 p.m., HCPC Auditorium.

April 5

Department of Surgery Grand Rounds: Dr. Rebecca Wiatrek (City of Hope National Medical Cancer Center) presents, “The Evolution of Surgical Education.”
7 a.m., MSB 3.001.
CME credit is available.

Microbiology and Molecular Genetics Seminar Series: Dr. Laurie Read (University at Buffalo, SUNY) presents, “Essential players in Trypanosome RNA editing.”
10:45 a.m., MSB 2.135.

April 9

Center for Membrane Biology Seminar Series: Dr. Yizhi Jane Tao (Rice University) presents, “Astrovirus Structure and Replication.”
Noon–1 p.m., MSB 2.135.

Department of Integrative Biology and Pharmacology Seminar Series: Dr. Mikhail Kolonin, assistant professor in the center for stem cell research, presents, “Depletion of adipose progenitors as an approach to obesity prevention.”
4–5 p.m., MSB 2.135.

John P. McGovern Endowed Lecture in Family, Health and Human Values: Dr. Alexandra Stern (University of Michigan) presents, “Don’t Reduce Me to a Label: Disability Rights, Genetic Diagnosis, and Social Values.”
7 p.m., Rockwell Pavilion in the M.D. Anderson Library, University of Houston.

April 11

Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences Grand Rounds: Dr. Kirti Saxena, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, presents, “Treatment of Pediatric Bipolar Disorder: Current State of Affairs.”
Noon–1 p.m., HCPC Auditorium.

April 12

Department of Surgery’s Annual Duke Day of Trauma: Dr. A. Brent Eastman, president elect of the American College of Surgeons and chief medical officer and senior vice president of ScrippsHealth, presents, “Trauma: A Global Endemic.”
7 a.m., MSB 3.001.
CME credit is available.

Microbiology and Molecular Genetics Seminar Series: Dr. Dominique Missiakas (University of Chicago) presents, Staphylococcus aureus: Portrait of a pathogen.”
10:45 a.m., MSB 2.135.

April 15

Microbiology and Molecular Genetics Seminar Series: Dr. John Taylor (University of California, Berkeley) presents, “Population genomics, natural selection and adaptive evolution of fungi.”
10:45 a.m., MSB 2.135.

April 16

Department of Integrative Biology and Pharmacology Seminar Series: Dr. Channing Der (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill) presents, “Aberrant Ras and Rho signaling and cancer treatment.”
4–5 p.m., MSB 2.135.

April 18

Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences Grand Rounds: Dr. Andrea Stolar (Baylor College of Medicine) presents, “The Insanity Defense.”
Noon–1 p.m., HCPC Auditorium.

April 19

Department of Integrative Biology and Pharmacology Seminar Series: Dr. A. Mark Evans (University of Edinburgh) presents, “The Lkb1-AMPK signalling pathway is required for carotid body activation and thus the regulation of breathing by hypoxia.”
2 p.m., MSB 2.135.

The First Year Medical Class Silent Auction to Build Mgaraganza, Tanzania's First Secondary School.
5:30–7 p.m., Fifth Floor Gallery.
Learn more and/or contribute.

April 23

Department of Integrative Biology and Pharmacology Seminar Series: Dr. Brian Wadzinski (Vanderbilt University) presents, “Novel regulatory mechanisms for PP2A family members, key regulators of the cell.”
4–5 p.m., MSB 2.135.

April 25

Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences Grand Rounds: Dr. Nubia Lluberes, resident, presents, “Bipolar Disorder and Creativity.”
Noon–1 p.m., HCPC Auditorium.

April 25–27

Clinical Research Education— Basic: “Facilitating Excellence in Clinical Trial Management.”
Visit the website for information, fee schedule, and registration.

April 26

Achieving Communication Excellence (ACE) Lecture Series: Dr. Harvey Max Chochinov (University of Manitoba) presents, “What’s Dignity Got To Do with It? Emerging Opportunities in Palliative Care.”
Noon–1 p.m., Hickey Auditorium, R11.1400, MD Anderson Cancer Center.
Lunch will be provided to the first 150 attendees.

April 27

Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Alliance hosts the 10th Annual William P. Blocker, MD Distinguished Lectureship: presented by Dr. Daniel Dumitru, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio.
8 a.m.–noon, Baylor College of Medicine, Kleberg Auditorium.

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