Thought You Should Know

Thought You Should Know

  • Endowed academic positions an example of strong donor support

    I’d like to take a moment to celebrate an impressive statistic: One quarter of our total full-time faculty members hold endowed academic positions. We currently have 222 endowed academic positions valued at around $155 million. This funding is spread across all of our schools: 14 percent of our full-time School of Health Professions faculty members, 21 percent of our full-time School of Nursing faculty members and 26 percent of our full-time School of Medicine faculty members hold endowed positions.

    An endowed academic position is a faculty position supported by funds dedicated to salary supplementation, research support or other professional needs. Endowed positions are usually given to faculty members with distinguished careers. These donated funds make our efforts towards advancing patient care, research and education possible.

    In my recent Mondays in March presentation, I talked about how the strength of UTMB’s root system has allowed our institution to withstand change and continue to grow throughout its 125-year history. We can all be proud to be part of an institution with such extraordinary commitment from our surrounding community in Galveston and beyond. Such outstanding support is indicative of our university’s rich history and strong roots in our community. The generous benefactors who have contributed to these endowments are people who believe in what we do every day at UTMB to improve lives. They are community leaders, family members and friends whose lives have been touched by our institution and, in turn, have helped tend our roots so that we can flourish.

    Our new Jennie Sealy Hospital is a concrete example that great things are possible when a community bands together. As we move forward in this exciting time, let us be inspired by the incredible community that we serve.

  • Dr. Thomas Geisbert to speak at School of Medicine Graduation

    GeisbertI am excited to share that Thomas Geisbert, PhD, Professor in our Department of Microbiology and Immunology, will be the keynote speaker for our 126th School of Medicine Commencement on Saturday, June 4th. A scientist in our Galveston National Laboratory, Dr. Geisbert is one of the world’s foremost authorities on Ebola.

    Focused on emerging viruses — with a particular emphasis on viruses causing hemorrhagic fever including Ebola virus, Marburg virus, and Lassa virus — Dr. Geisbert has nearly three decades of experience working in Biosafety Level (BSL)-4 containment. He co-discovered the Reston species of Ebola virus in 1989, which garnered attention in the scientific literature and the popular press as well as Richard Preston’s best-selling novel, “The Hot Zone.”

    Dr. Geisbert received his PhD in Molecular Pathobiology from the Uniformed Services University of the Heath Sciences in Bethesda, MD. From 1985 to 2007, Dr. Geisbert served in various roles for the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, MD, most recently as Chief of the Department of Viral Pathology and Ultrastructure.

    He holds five U.S. patents on filovirus vaccines and treatments and he has filed two provisional U.S. patents on filovirus and arenavirus vaccines. He is the author or co-author of more than 150 original articles including publication in Nature, Nature Medicine, Science Translational Medicine and the Lancet, as well as numerous book chapters.

    Dr. Geisbert received two Department of the Army Commander’s Awards for Civilian Service; one for his work to identify Ebola-Reston virus and the second for his support of Operation Noble Eagle. He was among the dedicated group of Ebola fighters named collectively as Time magazine’s “Person of the Year” for 2014. Last year, he received an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Sciences from Hood College for his outstanding Ebola research.

    Dr. Geisbert is an exemplary scientist who is helping lead the fight against some of the world’s deadliest infectious diseases, and I am honored he will join us as this year’s commencement speaker.

  • Craig Cassidy joins the Academic Enterprise, jump-starts “Grants Central”


    I’m excited to share that Craig Cassidy, MHA, has returned to UTMB to serve as our Associate Director of Research Advancement.

    Bringing Cassidy to our institution is the first vital step towards enhancing research support, including grants development services — or “Grants Central” — which was one of our key AE2020 objectives. In this role, Cassidy will help faculty members develop new applications for extramural funding or revise those previously submitted. He will also help develop multi-investigator and multidisciplinary applications.

    “I hope to quickly build a research advancement group to complement the first-class faculty and staff at UTMB,” says Cassidy, who joined UTMB in January.

    Cassidy, who has worked with Congress to advance legislation protecting federal research funding, says that he is excited by the opportunities at UTMB, where leadership is investing wisely in its faculty and staff members.

    “My goal is to help the faculty members produce high-quality research proposals, so they can spend more time helping to improve health for the people of Texas and around the world.”

    Cassidy has served in various leadership roles in higher education for more than a decade, including as Assistant Dean for Research, Corporate Relations and Diversity for the College of Science, Engineering and Technology at Jackson State University; Executive Director of Research and Diversity Initiatives for the University of Houston System; and Assistant Director for the Center for Structural Biology at Texas A&M University.

    Some of Cassidy’s major accomplishments include coordinating research teams from 12 university campuses, developing partnerships between universities spanning 12 countries and four continents and writing grants to receive more than $80 million in research funding. He has also been recognized by Congress for his leadership on national diversity issues.

    Craig Cassidy can be reached at His office is located on the third floor bridge between MRB and BSB.

  • “No Margin, No Mission”: A New Year, A New Opportunity

    I recently read an article in Becker’s Hospital Review* that struck a chord with me as we take on a new year at UTMB. The article begins with a mention of Sister Irene Kraus and her famous phrase: “No margin, no mission.”

    As I’m sure many of you know, Sister Irene was the founding chief executive of the $3 billion Daughters of Charity National Health System and the only woman to chair the American Hospital Association. She was known for her remarkable business acumen as well as her good humor. Sister Irene believed that one must drive margin in order to fulfill one’s missions.

    While academic medical centers are facing a number of new challenges, Sister Irene Kraus’ words from decades ago are still relevant.

    Health care spending in the United States was more than $3 trillion in 2015, or about 18 percent of our gross domestic product. According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, it is projected to increase to nearly 20 percent of the GDP by 2024. As the article details, the health care industry has historically compensated providers based on volume ― do more, make more. But this model, alone, will no longer suffice.

    In 2013, operating margins for hospitals was close to 2 percent. Decreasing reimbursement from Medicare, tougher competition for patients, market consolidation and lack of accurate cost information are among the major challenges facing health systems today. And as an academic medical center, we have additional challenges associated with fulfilling our research and education missions, such as stagnant federal funding for research as well as recruiting and retaining the best and brightest faculty members and students.

    We are taking action on every front to respond to these challenges. We continue to expand our UTMB brand and services throughout Galveston and the mainland, while working to further enhance our quality of care. Implementing our margin improvement plans, strategic recruitment practices and continuing to optimize EPIC are also vital steps. We are working to improve grant efficiency while reducing administrative burdens, including the recent addition of a robust grants management system in POWER and the kickoff of our new research strategic planning efforts.

    With the excitement of celebrating our 125th anniversary as well as the new Jennie Sealy and League City campus hospitals opening, it is a great time to be part of our UTMB community. And, I feel confident that we are prepared to meet the financial challenges that face academic medical centers because we have such a diverse, talented and driven group of people here all committed to one overarching mission: to improve health for the people of Texas and around the world.

    In some respects, we are doing better than many of our counterparts. Our clinical performance and physician productivity increased by double digits between FY2012 and FY2015, while health centers across the country saw decreases in these same areas. UTMB’s clinic visits increased by approximately 26 percent from FY2013 to FY2015. Despite stagnant federal funding levels, UTMB received $73,345,646 in grant awards for FY2015 — a nearly 5% increase over FY2014. And, our educational programs and faculty members continue to garner national recognition for excellence.

    But, it is crucial that we continue our collective efforts to improve. For this reason, I encourage you to keep Sister Irene’s words of wisdom in mind: “No margin, no mission.”


    *“Margin + Mission: A prescription for curing healthcare’s cost crisis” by Dan Michelson.

  • COMING SOON: New system in POWER and myPOWER will help maximize grants across the Academic Enterprise

    POWER logoIn the current challenging research environment, a team of Academic Enterprise and Finance Accounting and Reporting staff is finding a way to maximize awarded grant funds and increase resource efficiency. As part of a Fiscal Year 2015 goal to revamp grants management and principal investigator (PI) reporting, leaders Paul Bristol (Assistant Vice President, Academic Development & Planning, Academic Enterprise), Glenita Segura (Director of Grants & Contracts Accounting) and Sonia Gonzalez (Assistant Administrator) and colleagues created a new system in POWER and myPOWER that allows PIs and grant administrators to use one application for managing grants.

    “This is a great opportunity to put the information at the fingertips of the PIs, administrators and grants management staff,” says Glenita Segura.

    Through eliminating non-valued tasks while providing better stewardship of grants funds, this streamlined process could potentially reduce the amount of unused or forfeited funds for sponsored programs, which could extend into the millions of dollars.

    In the past, grants administrators relied on four or five different systems to gather the data needed to provide one cohesive grants administration report. PIs did not have any way to report on their own grants; they relied solely on their grant administrators to create and print reports for them.

    With the new system, PIs can view and print their own reports from within myPOWER and grants administrators can view and print a variety of reports within POWER that allow them to view awards and projects at both a high level and a detailed level.

    The new system in POWER, which launches soon, is part of the team’s overall goal to present clear “best practices” for grants management, which include frequent faculty and staff meetings, identifying staff roles and assignments and providing tool kits to manage projects of all calibers.

    A talented group of programmers and trainers has made this effort possible. Required training for administrators and PIs has been going on since October and will continue through December and beyond. Stay tuned for a projections model planned for phase two of the project!

  • Continued Success: Update on the Faculty Compensation and Incentive Plan

    The Faculty Compensation and Incentive Plan (FCIP) seeks to progressively reward high-performing faculty members across all missions, while linking accountability, covering appropriate overhead and addressing productivity outliers. After 18-plus months within the program and careful examination of the data and results, I am pleased to announce an initiative currently taking place that seeks to further strengthen the guiding principles: transparency and positive correlation of productivity with compensation.

    For the FY 2015 plan year, I am proud to share that the Academic Enterprise paid out nearly $13 million to its more than 760 eligible members of the FCIP. Compared to the same time period in FY 2014, the third and fourth quarters of FY 2015 saw an 8.2% increase in productivity, which translated to a 10% growth in clinical incentive payouts. In an environment where NIH funding is declining, we have maintained funding and, as a result, maintained incentives. Overall, the actual teaching activities exceeded the projected activities for FY 2015.

    It is noteworthy that we have made significant efforts to maintain a healthy incentive plan despite the current challenging climate for academic health centers, while market forces have pushed integrated systems to reduce or eliminate similar plans altogether.

    As we embark on the current initiative to strengthen the FCIP and ensure that the plan is forward-thinking and moving in stride with upcoming changes in health care payment reform, I encourage everyone to keep in mind all UTMB’s missions, which, combined, make a vibrant and integrated institution. This mindset will help ensure collaboration as we seek input and feedback from faculty members for version 2.0, and make the FCIP more inclusive and effective.

    I would like to thank the faculty members, administrators and staff not only for their tireless efforts, patience and suggestions, but also the spirit of teamwork present during recent FCIP forums.

  • Our Academic Enterprise magazine hit the stands today!

    AE Mag Issue 1 CoverI am pleased to announce that the first issue of our Academic Enterprise magazine is now on newsstands at various locations across campus.

    Our new publication is dedicated to telling the great stories that happen at UTMB. Every day at our thriving institution, inspiring people are coming up with innovative ideas, working hard and achieving breakthroughs that will improve health care and medical education. These are the stories we need to tell.

    The premier issue highlights some of the things we have going on right now, for example, the two brand-new hospitals we will be opening this year, the research occurring in our Galveston National Laboratory, our School of Nursing’s award-winning awards graduate programs and more.

    Spreading the word about the wonders we are working here at UTMB helps us deepen our connection to each other and our historic institution and broadens the impact of all the great work that we do.


  • Revenue Cycle Operations assessment

    This summer, McKinnis Consulting Services conducted an assessment of Revenue Cycle Operations and presented a report to School of Medicine and Health System leadership in early September. The findings of their assessment identified net revenue opportunities through several different initiatives.

    McKinnis was engaged to assist with implementation of recommended initiatives, which are centered around process improvements as well as optimization of the Epic system.

    The assessment included meetings with School of Medicine and Health System leadership, and shadowing of revenue cycle employees to understand processes and work flows. The consultants have begun the implementation plan for these initiatives.

    We will continue to report the status and progress of these efforts in various forums such as the Quarterly MSRDP Meeting, Council of Chairs and MSRDP Budget and Finance Meeting. If you are interested in more specific information, please contact Becky Korenek, Interim Vice President of Revenue Cycle Operations at (409) 747-2210.

  • Honoring Dr. Samuel Baron

    baronIt is with sadness that I share that Samuel Baron, MD, former Chair of the Department of Microbiology & Immunology passed away on June 22.

    Chair for more than 20 years, Dr. Baron touched the lives of many faculty members, fellows and students at UTMB. He was an international icon in interferon research and helped build the reputation of infectious disease research at our institution.

    Dr. Baron received his MD from New York University in 1952 and served as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health from 1953 to 1955. Prior to joining UTMB in 1975, he was the Head of the Section on Cellular Virology within the Laboratory of Viral Diseases of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Bethesda.

    Under his leadership of the Department of Microbiology & Immunology, the size of the faculty greatly increased, the number of graduate students more than doubled and the department earned more recognition for advances in research. After stepping down as Chair, Dr. Baron continued to serve as Professor of Microbiology and Internal Medicine until 2007, when he became Professor Emeritus. The Samuel Baron Distinguished Professorship in Microbiology at UTMB was created with institutional funds in 1997 in honor of Dr. Baron for his significant contributions.

    A member of Alpha Omega Alpha, Dr. Baron was also an elected member of the American Academy of Microbiology, the International Society for Interferon and Cytokine Research and the American Association of Immunologists. His honors include the NIH Minority Affairs Award, the Distinguished Faculty Research Award from the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, the Sinclair Award from the Galveston Chapter of Sigma Xi and the Katherine and Nicholas C. Leone Award for Administrative Excellence. In addition to publishing nearly 300 peer-reviewed journal articles and several book chapters, Dr. Baron edited four editions of the classic textbook, Medical Microbiology.

    Read more about his career here.

    Please join me in extending sympathy to Dr. Baron’s family, friends and colleagues.

  • Regents honor six UTMB faculty members for outstanding teaching

    The University of Texas System Board of Regents has awarded six faculty members at the University of Texas Medical Branch with the top teaching prize in the UT System: the Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award.

    One of the nation’s most competitive teaching awards, the regents’ award recognizes educators for their performance in the classroom and their dedication to innovation and advancing excellence. Each recipient will receive a $25,000 award and will be honored at a dinner hosted by the Board of Regents on August 19th in Austin.

    Congratulations to our 2015 Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award recipients:

    Kimberly Brown, MD

    Associate Professor in our Department of Surgery, Director of Surgical Simulation Surgery Clerkship Director, Associate Program Director for the General Surgery Residency, Medical Director for the PA Studies Program and holder of the Thompson Family Distinguished Professorship for Surgical Simulation

    Lisa Cain, PhD

    Associate Professor in our Department of Neuroscience & Cell Biology, Director of Medical School Enrichment Programs and Assistant Dean for Faculty Affairs

    Mark Holden, MD, FACP

    Professor in our Department of Internal Medicine, Vice Chair for Undergraduate and Continuing Medical Education, Director of General Internal Medicine and holder of the Edna S. and William C. Levin Professorship in Internal Medicine

    Susan McCammon, MD

    Associate Professor and Vice Chair in our Department of Otolaryngology, Residency Program Director Scholar in the John P. McGovern Academy of Oslerian Medicine and holder of the Jehu Matthews Robison Distinguished Professorship in Otolaryngology

    Victor Reyes, PhD

    Professor in our Departments of Pediatrics and Microbiology & Immunology

    Carolyn Utsey, PT, PhD

    Associate Professor and Chair in our Department of Physical Therapy and holder of the Winfree Professorship in Physical Therapy

  • The Road to Safety Begins with You

    By Drs. Rex McCallum and Selwyn Rogers

    We talk about patient safety a lot. We need to focus on your safety as well. An accident is defined as, “…an undesirable or unfortunate happening that occurs unintentionally and usually results in harm, injury, damage, or loss; casualty; mishap…” Slow down. Accidents can be prevented.

    This is the first of a two-part series concerning bloodborne pathogens.

    In 2014, like many academic medical centers, numerous employees reported possible exposure to a bloodborne pathogen. The majority of the incidents were sharp exposures, which resulted in several employees testing positive for a hospital-acquired disease.

    In their 2013 article, Julia Tortorice and Dana Bartlett assert: “One serious bloodborne infection can cost more than a million dollars for medications, follow up laboratory testing, clinical evaluation, lost wages, and disability payments.” Costs of occupational exposures to hepatitis B and C and HIV are case specific, but a 2007 article estimated the one-year cost for these incidents can be as high as $400 million. (Leigh, Gillen, Franks, 2007)2. “The human costs after an exposure are immeasurable. Employees and their families may experience anger, depression, fear, anxiety, difficulty with sexual relations, trouble sleeping, problems concentrating, and doubts regarding their career choice. The emotional effect can be long lasting, even in a low risk exposure that does not result in infection (Green, Griffiths, 2013; Zhiang, Yu, 2013; Lee, Botteman, Xanthakos, 2005)”.3

    One must accept that, “… during care for any patient, one should assume that an infectious agent could be present in the patient’s blood or body fluids, including all secretions and excretions except tears and sweat. Therefore appropriate precautions, including use of PPE, must be taken.” (ICT September 2012)

    Inspectors from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) may soon be citing hospitals if employees are not wearing gloves, gowns, and eye and face protection to prevent exposure or contamination. The CMS survey tool specifically highlights the use of PPE when performing aerosol-generating procedures.

    Be aware of your risks

    Protect yourself

    Accidents which result in exposure to bloodborne pathogens from sharps may occur:

    1. During or after disposal of sharps (in transit to disposal, improper disposal, during disposal);
    2. After use and before disposal of sharps (activation of safety feature, recapping needle, during clean up); and/or
    3. During use (Access line, transfer/process specimens, pass/transfer equipment, collision with sharp or worker, insertion or removal of needle, manipulating sharp in patient, suture needle handling)


    Accidents which result in exposure to blood borne pathogens from splash of bodily fluids occur because of:

    1. Poorly fitting PPE
    2. Not wearing PPE
    3. Improper removal of PPE

    Encourage others to protect themselves

    If there is an untoward event REPORT IT and SEEK TREATMENT

    Click here to view the program, “Risky Business: Blood Exposures in the Healthcare Setting,” presented by Dr. David Henderson on April 22, 2015. For more information, contact: Kathleen O’Neill, Director, Employee Health and Wellness, at extension 28890.


    1 Leigh, J.P., Gillen, M., Franks. P., Sutherland, S., et al. (2007). Costs of needlestick injuries and subsequent hepatitis and HIV infection. Current Medical Research and Opinion. 23 (9), 2093-2105.

    2 Green, B., Griffiths E.C. (2013). Psychiatric consequences of needlestick injury. Occupational Medicine. 63(3), 183-188. Zhiang, M.X., Yu, Y. (2013). A study of the psychological impact of sharps injuries on healthcare workers in China. American Journal of Infection Control. 41(2), 186-187. Lee, J.M., Botteman. M.F., Xanthakos, N., Nicklasson. L. (2005). Needlestick injuries in the United States. Epidemiologic, economic, and quality of life issues. AAOHN. 53 (3), 117-133.


  • UTMB Receives $3.4 Million to Continue Research on Maintaining Independence in Older Adults

    VolpiThe UTMB Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center, directed by Elena Volpi, MD, PhD, has renewed its funding for the next five years through a $3.4 million grant from the National Institute on Aging. The grant enables the center to continue its mission to improve physical function and independence in older adults.

    The UTMB Pepper Center, founded in 1999, nurtures scientific collaborations among translational research investigators by supporting research infrastructure, training and pilot studies. Dr. Volpi has been serving as the center’s director and Principal Investigator since 2010. The focus of the UTMB Pepper Center for the next five years is to identify pathways of physical function loss and gain, and develop targeted interventions to improve functional recovery from illness in older adults.

    The UTMB Pepper Center is comprised of five cores led by senior investigators in the Sealy Center on Aging: the Leadership Administrative Core led by Drs. Elena Volpi and James Goodwin; the Research Career Development Core/KL2 Program led by Drs. Kenneth Ottenbacher, Rebeca Wong and James Goodwin; the Pilot/Exploratory Studies Core led by Drs. Taylor Riall and Melinda Sheffield-Moore; the Clinical Research Resource Core led by Drs. Elena Volpi, Douglas Paddon-Jones and Gulshan Sharma; the Metabolism and Biology Resource Core led by Drs. Blake Rasmussen and Labros Sidossis; and the Biostatistics and Data Management Resource Core led by Drs. Kristopher Jennings and Yong-Fang Kuo.

    Congratulations to the UTMB Pepper Center leadership for this award.

  • School of Nursing programs receive 10-year reaccreditation

    The School of Nursing’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Master of Science in Nursing and Doctor of Nursing Practice programs all received reaccreditation through 2025 from the national accreditation agency, the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). According to the CCNE, the three programs met all necessary standards with no concerns.

    Dr. Pamela Watson, Vice President for Interprofessional Education and Institutional Effectiveness and Dean of our School of Nursing says, “The School received 10 years of accreditation taking us to 2025. And, 10 years is not given to all schools, most only get five years of accreditation. We are very proud to have received a perfect report. The faculty here is amazing.”

    The CCNE assess and identifies baccalaureate, graduate and residency programs in nursing that engage in effective educational practices. UTMB’s SON programs were last accredited by the CCNE in 2005, which extended to June 2015.

    Voluntary accreditation through CCNE is a nongovernmental peer review process that ensures a nursing program has a mission statement, goals and outcomes designed to appropriately prepare students to fulfill their expected roles; evaluates the success of a nursing program in achieving these goals and expected outcomes; and assesses the extent to which the program meets accreditation standards.

  • Congratulations to our recently graduated 2014-15 fellows of ELAM and ELATE

    Freeman Garg RiallThree of our faculty members recently completed one-year fellowships in national leadership development programs for women faculty members. Drs. Nisha Garg and Taylor Riall recently completed fellowships in the Hedwig van Ameringen Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine (ELAM) program, a part-time fellowship for women faculty in schools of medicine, dentistry and public health. Dr. Vicki Freeman graduated from the Executive Leadership in Academic Technology and Engineering (ELATE) program. Both programs are sponsored through Drexel University.

    ELAM is dedicated to preparing women for senior leadership roles at academic health science institutions; the program enhances institutional leadership diversity, while contributing to organizational strategy and innovation. More than 800 ELAM alumnae hold vital roles at institutions around the world, including department chairs, research center directors, deans and college presidents, as well as chief executives in health care and accrediting organizations.

    Dr. Nisha Garg, Professor in our Departments of Microbiology & Immunology and Pathology and internationally recognized expert in parasitology, says that the ELAM program allowed her to develop a large network of colleagues from various medical schools around the country, which she can reach out to for advice. ELAM also gave her a new perspective on UTMB. “I developed a deeper appreciation for my colleagues at UTMB who gave me time, support and feedback; and importantly, the opportunity to develop programs that are aligned with institutional priorities in research. ELAM also helped me develop a broader vision of my professional role within the organization.”

    Dr. Taylor Riall, Professor of Surgery and Director of the Center for Comparative Effectiveness and Cancer Outcomes also mentions the rich network of diverse contacts as an important benefit of the program, adding, “ELAM was a very powerful and worthwhile experience. It stretched me both professionally and personally and contributed to my academic progress.”

    ELATE is a national leadership development program designed to advance senior women faculty in academic engineering, computer science and related fields into effective institutional leadership roles within their schools and universities. Dr. Vicki Freeman, Professor and Chair of the Clinical Laboratory Science Department and Associate Dean for Faculty Development in the School of Health Professions, was invited to participate in the program because of her background in biochemistry and laboratory sciences.

    Dr. Freeman says that the experience allowed her learn about differences between traditional campuses across the country and academic health science centers, such as UTMB. She also gained valuable knowledge about budgeting and strategic planning, which helped her put UTMB’s processes into perspective. “One of the best experiences was meeting with different leaders on the UTMB campus to learn about their pathways to leadership and some of their challenges,” Dr. Freeman says. “I would highly recommend this program for other individuals who are looking at or are in leadership positions.”

  • Dr. Harold Pine and team travel to Nepal for medical mission and unparalleled trek

    EverestHarold Pine, MD, FAAP, FACS, Associate Professor for Pediatric Otolaryngology in our Department of Otolaryngology, will lead a team to Nepal this week for the Everest Medical Expedition 2015. One part personal challenge, one part medical mission, the journey will last nearly three weeks and encompass 12 days of trekking along a route to Mount Everest. The team hopes to run ENT clinics at various locations, including at Everest Base Camp.

    While attending the 12th International Congress of the European Society of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology (ESPO) in Dublin last year, Dr. Pine met Dr. Kashi Raj Gyawali, an Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) surgeon at B & B Hospital in Nepal. Having been to Nepal — Dr. Pine proposed to his wife there and calls the surroundings “some of the most spectacular scenery on the planet” — Dr. Pine was interested in returning to the region to serve in a health care capacity.

    After ESPO, he and Dr. Gyawali maintained their connection and began designing the Everest expedition. Traveling to the region will allow Dr. Pine’s team to learn more about what Dr. Gyawali does and how they might assist the community.

    “We happen to have not only the expertise but the particular tools that can help.” The group will bring standard otoscopes to look in patients’ ears, along with alligator forceps to remove objects from the ear, if necessary.

    “With simple stuff, we can make a big difference,” he says. They are also donating some disposable curettes for adenoid surgery and some high-end blades to assist in endoscopic sinus surgery.

    Also joining Dr. Pine from UTMB are Dayton Young, MD, Assistant Professor of Otolaryngology; Lemuel Aigbivbalu, MD, a Pediatric Infectious Diseases and Pediatric Hospital Medicine Physician; and Ben McIntire, MD, Postgraduate Year Two Otolaryngology resident. Five other doctors, an experienced mission volunteer and two hiking enthusiasts make up the rest of the group.

    Expecting the environment to be challenging, Dr. Pine notes that any trip of this nature includes various unknowns. “It’s not an easy place to be; it’s not an easy place to work,” he says. “At one point, we’re going to be high enough that the oxygen is half what it is at sea level.” But, he adds, there can be a big payoff for the hard work: “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime kind of crucible to do this trek. With the right prepping, it can be a really life-altering experience.”

    Dr. Pine joined UTMB in 2009. He is a member of the Humanitarian Efforts Committee for the American Academy of Otolaryngology. His honors include the Excellence in Clinical Teaching Award from the John P. McGovern Academy of Oslerian Medicine, the Byron Bailey Surgical Society Teaching Excellence Award from UTMB’s Department of Otolaryngology, and the Rose Award for Excellence in Pediatric Otolaryngology. He was named to the Texas Super Doctors Rising Stars list in 2013.

  • Farewell and best wishes to Dr. Jim Mahon

    MahonI am saddened to share the news that Jim Mahon, PhD, will be leaving at the end of June to return to his consulting work.

    For more than three years, Dr. Mahon has served in a variety of leadership positions within the Academic Enterprise, including Interim Executive Director for Research Services, Interim Director for Basics Sciences I, Interim Executive Director for Student Services and, most recently, Vice President of Communications and Academic Resources.

    He joined us from Compass Clinical Consulting and he will be returning there to take on the role of Managing Director.

    Dr. Mahon plans to remain on the island and continue to hold after work “meetings” at 21 on Postoffice Street! We will announce plans for a send-off next month.

    Please join me in thanking Dr. Mahon for his hard work and wishing him the best. His great attitude and energy will be missed.

  • Dr. Christopher Lewis to speak at School of Medicine Commencement

    LewisIt is my pleasure to announce that University of Texas Medical Branch alumnus Christopher Lewis, MD, will be the keynote speaker for our 125th School of Medicine Commencement on Saturday, May 30th. Dr. Lewis is Chief Educator and Production Manager at Doctors in Training and a family physician in Round Rock, Texas.

    A native Texan, Dr. Lewis graduated magna cum laude from Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, in 1999 and earned his MD from UTMB in 2003. He went on to complete his residency training in family medicine in Waco, Texas.

    In his role at Doctors in Training, an online education company, Dr. Lewis has been responsible for the creation, editing and teaching of hundreds of lectures. He has worked on Step 1, Step 2 and Step 3 board review courses, as well as standalone courses in subjects such as anatomy, pharmacology, obstetrics, gynecology and internal medicine. He co-authored the third edition of Step-Up to USMLE Step 2 CK and Step-Up to USMLE Step 1.

    He is also Associate Professor at Texas A&M Health Science Center, where he teaches third-year medical students during their family medicine clerkship.

    In addition to caring for patients at Brushy Creek Family Physicians group practice, Dr. Lewis volunteers his services through Samaritan Health Ministries, a faith-based, non-denominational nonprofit that provides health and wellness services to uninsured families in Williamson and Travis counties.

    Dr. Lewis is known for his engaging and humorous teaching style, and I am excited to welcome him as this year’s commencement speaker.

  • Enhancing patient access and quality of care through the Texas Health Care Transformation and Quality Improvement Program

    As of October 2014, UTMB’s Academic Enterprise had achieved several goals aimed at enhancing patient access and quality of care and earned $12.1 million through the Texas Health Care Transformation and Quality Improvement Program, or Medicaid 1115 Waiver. We are currently in year four of the waiver.

    The five-year, statewide program allows health care providers to work collaboratively within their regions to transform and improve Medicaid systems to enhance patients’ experience, increase quality and better manage costs. Providers are eligible to receive incentive payments for participating in health care quality and delivery system reforms through the Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment (DSRIP) program.

    The Academic Enterprise is engaged in six projects: Expand Primary Care Access in Galveston and Brazoria Counties; Expand Specialty Care Access in Galveston and Brazoria Counties; Implement Technology-Assisted Services (Telehealth, Telemonitoring, Telementoring, or Telemedicine) to Support, Coordinate or Deliver Behavioral Health Services; Implement Web Based EMR Portal to Improve Clinical Communication Between UTMB and Referring Community Providers; Integrate Primary and Behavioral Services; and New Model Clinic: Medical Homes for Patients as Education Homes for Trainees.

    Through our AE initiatives, we have:

    •  Increased primary care capacity and access in Galveston and Brazoria counties within UTMB’s Community-Based Clinics;
    •  Hired new providers in order to achieve additional specialty care visits;
    •  Increased the number of telemedicine visits;
    •  Implemented UTMB CareLink, a web-based Electronic Medical Record physician portal designed to provide improved communication between specialty and primary care providers;
    •  Worked towards integrating behavioral and primary health care by using the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ) to measure depression and introducing collaboration between nurse practitioners and counselors at primary care visits; and
    •  Created a clinic where medical students and residents follow their own panels of patients as part of an interprofessional team, contribute to quality improvement projects, participate in community health interventions, and learn about the health system and clinic operations.

    UTMB serves as anchor for 16 counties across Southeast Texas, including Brazoria, Galveston, Liberty, Nacogdoches, Tyler and Shelby participating in the Regional Health Plan. These 16 counties cover almost 14,500 square miles and are home to nearly 1.5 million individuals.

  • Dr. Ruth Constant to speak at School of Nursing Commencement

    Ruth Constant Photo #2I am pleased to share that Ruth L. Constant, EdD, MSN, CHCE, FHHC, a UTMB graduate, will serve as our School of Nursing’s commencement speaker. Dr. Constant was selected as the 2014 recipient of the School of Nursing Distinguished Alumnus Award, and the honoree traditionally delivers the commencement address at the following year’s ceremony. SON commencement will be held on Friday, April 24th, at 3:00 p.m. in the Moody Gardens Convention Center. There are 525 graduates expected for the School of Nursing this year.

    Dr. Constant developed the first Home Health Agency in Texas certified under the Medicare program in July of 1966. In 1969, she founded Beaumont, Port Arthur, and Wichita Home Health services, of which she continues to serve as President/Administrator. She directs activities of approximately 800 employees.

    Throughout her career, Dr. Constant has been actively involved in various state and national organizations. She was appointed by Governor John Connally to the Governor’s task force for mental health planning for the state of Texas in 1963 and appointed by Governor Mark White to the Governor’s Home Health Advisory Council for the state of Texas in 1983. In 1992, she was named a Founding Fellow of the national Foundation for Hospice and Homecare and currently serves as Co-Chair of its Board of Directors. She has served on the National Association for Home Care & Hospice Board of Directors in different capacities from 1983 to present and named NAHC Administrator of the Year in 1990. In 2009, she was appointed to the Devereux South Texas Advisory Board of Directors.

    Dr. Constant’s numerous accolades include the Rotary Outstanding Vocational Achievement Award, Distinguished Citizen Award from the Boy Scouts of America, South Texas Council and the Texas Association for Home Care & Hospice’s Ida Mae Hebert Meritorious Award. Dr. Constant was named Outstanding Health Care Practitioner of the Year by the Victoria Chamber of Commerce. In 2013, Dr. Constant she was inducted into the UTMB Health School of Nursing Hall of Fame and also received the UTMB Health School of Nursing President’s Award. She currently serves as Treasurer of the Caring Institute and a member of the Victoria College Foundation Board of Directors.

  • The Office of Faculty Affairs introduces the new Faculty Development Council

    In order to encourage collaboration between our faculty development groups, we are pleased to announce the establishment of a new Faculty Development Council. The Council will be comprised of representatives from various UTMB faculty development organizations who will regularly meet to:

    •  Share and disseminate information regarding the activities, missions and goals of each group and identify common areas of interest
    •  Generate ideas about activities to enhance faculty development and discuss overall implementation at UTMB
    •  Identify and monitor the current success of faculty development activities as well as the gaps or obstacles that limit progress
    •  Coordinate faculty development activities and discuss methods for sharing resources and information

    Members of the Faculty Development Council:
    Office for Faculty Affairs, Lisa Cain, PhD
    Faculty Senate, Janet Enderle, PhD, MLS (ASCP)
    Community of Developing Educators/
    School of Health Professions, Vicki Freeman, PhD, MLS (ASCP) SC, FACB
    Scholars in Healing Program, Cara Geary, MD, PhD
    Office of Continuing Education, Brenda Johnson, MEd, CCMEP
    Academy of Master Teachers, S. Lynn Knox, MD
    Scholars in Education Program, Oma Morey, PhD
    School of Nursing, Carolyn Phillips, PhD, RN
    Academy of Master Clinicians, Linda Phillips, MD
    The UTMB Health Physician Leadership Academy, Selwyn Rogers Jr, MD, MPH, FACS
    Academy of Research Mentors, Robert Rose, MD
    Professionalism Committee, Rebecca Saavedra, EdD
    Interprofessional Education, Carol Wiggs PhD, RN, CNM, AHN-BC
    Office of Educational Development, To Be Announced