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The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston




Two New Doctoral Programs for the School of Health Professions  UTMB’s Scribe Program Is a Success  Interprofessionalism and the Future of Health Care  Fighting Zika 

Advancing research, health care and education in Texas and beyond




love the beginning of the semester because it brings with it our new, eager student colleagues. These hardworking young men and women, each with his or her own unique story, brighten UTMB’s Galveston campus each year. We greatly value diversity at our institution, and it’s always exciting to welcome another class of learners who represent such a range of different backgrounds (read more on Page 2). As I spoke to a crowd of approximately 1,000 new students from the School of Health Professions, School of Medicine, School of Nursing and Graduate School for Biomedical Sciences at a recent orientation, I was struck by the power of their hopeful energy. It is our goal to support and guide our junior colleagues as they embark on their journey, instilling in them the lessons we’ve learned through our years of experience. But, all of us could learn something from our new trainees’ passion for learning. Each new UTMB student has recently dedicated their professional lives to serving others, in hopes that they will be part of a team that changes lives for the better. In all of our successes here at UTMB, passion and teamwork are key. These themes persist throughout the stories of outstanding work in this third issue of our Academic Enterprise magazine. In one feature on Page 9, dedicated UTMB scientists team up to battle the Zika virus. Learn more about how our faculty

Dr. Jacobs welcomes new students at orientation.

members are using interprofessional education to prepare our students for the future on Page 6 or read about how a passion for medicine and a love of baseball come together for two of our chairs on Page 20. Turn to Page 26 to read about our Department of Neurology, where innovation and collaboration are fueling excellence in the realms of health care delivery and translational research. Get a glimpse into how Texas Area Health Education Center East has been improving the health of individuals and communities in Texas for 25 years on Page 23, help us celebrate recent achievements from across our Academic Enterprise in the Highlights section on Page 28 and more. For fast facts on UTMB research, patient care and education, including commencement, turn to Page 16. I am so pleased to welcome the newest members of our UTMB community. Let us all embrace the new year with openness and enthusiasm: Together, we can work wonders.

Danny O. Jacobs, MD, MPH, FACS Executive Vice President, Provost and Dean of the School of Medicine Thomas N. & Gleaves T. James Distinguished Chair

Julian Quiceno

Passion provides the fuel, teamwork drives us forward

WINTER 2017 David L. Callender, MD, MBA, FACS President

Danny O. Jacobs, MD, MPH, FACS Executive Vice President and Provost, Dean of the School of Medicine

Cheryl A. Sadro, CPA, MSM Executive Vice President, Chief Business and Finance Officer

Donna K. Sollenberger, MA Executive Vice President and CEO, UTMB Health System

David W. Niesel, PhD Senior Vice President and Dean, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Chief Research Officer

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Elizabeth J. Protas, PT, PhD, FACSM, FAPTA Senior Vice President and Dean, School of Health Professions

Pamela G. Watson, RN, ScD Senior Vice President for Interprofessional Education and Institutional Effectiveness, Dean of the School of Nursing


Alexis Loyd Writers

Connie Holubar, MS, MBA Tammie Taylor, MLA Photographer

Mark Kinonen Designer

Robert Cortez

©Copyright 2017 The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. Member, Texas Medical Center® For more information regarding supporting UTMB, visit

UTMB Is a Leader in Student Diversity Legacy of Courage Working Together: Interprofessional Education and the Future of Patient Care Dedicated to Service Fighting Zika Training for the Future: Two New Doctoral Programs Physicians and Patients Benefit From UTMB’s Scribe Program

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UTMB Fast Facts

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For the Love of Baseball and Medicine

Translating Research to Treatment: Dr. MinKyung Yi and the Challenges and Successes of Working With Hepatitis C

Texas AHEC East Celebrates 25 Years Featured Department: Neurology Highlights From Across the Academic Enterprise Making an Impact: UTMB’s 125th Anniversary Milestones Gala

ON THE COVER: Bringing diverse and talented individuals together to collaborate across health care professions is key to the future of patient care. UTMB students clockwise from top left: Rocio Del Bosque, School of Nursing; Priscilla Ly, School of Medicine; Amy Khong, School of Medicine; Ryan Filardi, School of Medicine; Julian Quiceno, School of Nursing; Ronda Biondillo, School of Health Professions; and Vanessa Collins, School of Medicine.

UTMB Is a Leader in Student Diversity “



iversity is a core value at UTMB,” says Danny O. Jacobs, MD, MPH, FACS, executive vice president, provost and dean of the School of Medicine. “Our students strengthen our community through the diversity of their own experiences, and we are proud that they are dedicated to improving patient care in Texas and beyond when they graduate.” In 2015, UTMB’s School of Medicine led the nation in the total number of underrepresented minority graduates, according to information from the National Center for Education Statistics. For the past 16 years, the school has ranked among the top institutions every year for Hispanic and African-American graduates, as well as for overall underrepresented minority graduates. UTMB ACADEMIC ENTERPRISE

“A supportive, welcoming environment is essential for a long-term track record of increasing graduates from racial and ethnic groups underrepresented in medicine,” says Michael Ainsworth, MD, senior associate dean for educational performance and professor in the Department of Internal Medicine. According to Dr. Ainsworth, there are various components to creating and maintaining a diverse and inclusive educational institution. The School of Medicine reaches out to undergraduate institutions to attract students coming from a wide range of backgrounds. UTMB has developed strong relationships with undergraduate schools, particularly in Texas, through student diversity pipeline programs such as the Joint Admission Medical Program (JAMP). JAMP was created by the Texas

Legislature in 2003 to support and encourage highly qualified, economically disadvantaged Texas students pursuing a medical education. It is also important students see that UTMB’s commitment to diversity is genuine. When medical student candidates visit UTMB, says Dr. Ainsworth, they meet students and faculty members from various backgrounds. Equally as important as attracting a diverse student body is making sure those students are given support and guidance. “Once they get here, we want them to succeed,” says Dr. Ainsworth. “That is illustrated by UTMB’s success not just in student recruitment and retention, but in seeing these students graduate.” Diversity as a core value extends beyond the medical school. In 2015, UTMB ranked in the top 10 out of 98

From 2000–2015, UTMB’s School of Medicine ranks: • 1st nationally in the number of Hispanic graduates; 2nd nationally in 2015 • 4th nationally in the number of African-American graduates; 1st nationally in 2015 • 2nd nationally in total underrepresented minority graduates; 1st nationally in 2015 Source: 2015 Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) from the National Center for Education Statistics (excludes medical schools at historically black universities and in Puerto Rico).

comparable institutions* for percentage of bachelor’s degrees awarded to Hispanic students, as well as in the top 10 out of 111 for master’s degrees awarded to Hispanic students. UTMB awarded 17 percent of its bachelor’s degrees to Hispanic students, as compared to an average of 8 percent. This data includes programs in the School of Nursing, School of Health Professions and Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. David Niesel, PhD, senior vice president, dean of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and chief research officer says, “At UTMB, we aim to produce the diverse biomedical workforce of the future. We train talented students from a broad range of perspectives to be innovative researchers and providers who are prepared to meet today’s health care challenges.”

UTMB also awarded 11 percent — above the 7 percent average — of its bachelor’s degrees to African-American students in 2015, placing it in the top 20 out of 98 schools awarding bachelor’s degrees in health-related disciplines. “While we always strive to do better, the School of Nursing has a wonderful record of diversity,” says Pamela Watson, RN, ScD, senior vice president for interprofessional education and institutional effectiveness and dean of the School of Nursing. “One has only to look at photographs of our students either in their daily lives or at commencement, to recognize the diversity that is ours. We have grown in diversity not only with regard to race and ethnicity but also for the increased presence of men in our student body at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.”

Elizabeth Protas, PT, PhD, FACSM, FAPTA, senior vice president and dean of the School of Health Professions, adds: “In the School of Health Professions we work very hard to ensure that our students and graduates are from diverse backgrounds in order to better meet the health care needs of Texans.” UTMB encourages diversity and inclusion in other ways: 45 percent of the workforce are minorities and 72 percent are women. UTMB is also designated as “Military Friendly” by Victory Media — a nationally recognized ratings entity and trusted resource on post-military education and employment options for veterans and military families — for recruitment and retention of military employees, students and spouses. AE

*Comparison group contains academic health centers featuring a medical school and a variety of other schools and degree programs. WINTER 2017


Supporting students through the Hispanic Center of Excellence

UTMB’s Hispanic Center of Excellence (HCOE) was established in 1992 to recruit and mentor diverse medical students from across Texas, as well as provide resources and support to graduate linguistically appropriate, culturally competent bilingual physicians to better serve the health care needs of all Texans. Norma Perez, MD, DrPH, HCOE director, says that she and her colleagues have developed relationships with 22 undergraduate pre-med programs in the state, through which they reach out to promising underrepresented minorities interested in medicine. They help students determine whether medicine is the right career path, guide them through the admissions process and help them understand what it takes to succeed in medical school. In 2014, the HCOE launched a three-month online Medical College Admission Test® (MCAT®) study program. HCOE staff members provide planning and support to 10 students each year as they use daily video lessons, flashcards, practice questions and other resources to prepare for the exam. Dr. Perez is also director of the UTMB’s Bilingual Health Track, a concentration for medical students focusing on cultural competency in Hispanic health. She teaches an online clinical conversational Spanish course, which has been copyrighted, and is being adopted for the School of Nursing’s online master’s program and the Department of Physical Therapy. She says that the HCOE is helping to carry on a UTMB tradition: “We have a legacy of inclusion.” According to Dr. Perez and HCOE manager, Berengaria Navarre, the program is successful recruiting and retaining a diverse group of students because they receive mentorship beyond what traditional pre-med programs provide. The center staff members also mentor faculty members to provide students with mentors that mirror the student population. “The students get as much support as they need,” says Navarre. “Being in a supportive environment makes a huge difference for all students, but it’s particularly meaningful to those who are disadvantaged.” The HCOE hosts the annual Hector P. Garcia Cultural Competence Essay Contest — named for civil rights champion and 1940 UTMB graduate — which recognizes the student whose essay demonstrates cultural competency and a commitment to providing health care for all. AE Dr. Hector Garcia

Dr. Norma Perez (front middle) with students who participated in the Bilingual Health Track. Dr. Norma Perez (front middle) with students who participated in the Bilingual Health Track.



Legacy of Courage UTMB alumni who changed history through their pursuit of medicine Contributed by Robert O. Marlin IV, MSIS, MA, CA, AHIP, and Kelly Caldwell, MLIS, CA Truman G. Blocker Jr. History of Medicine Collections

Edith Marguerite Bonnet (1897–1982) was one of the first women to intern at John Sealy Hospital in Galveston, Texas. After graduating from the University of Texas in Austin in 1919, she worked to save money to attend UTMB. She was not actually sure she was going to go to medical school, however, until the day she was to leave. She waited for two hours for her suitor to discuss their future; she was choosing

between marriage and medicine. When he did not show up, she traveled to Galveston to pursue her medical career. On the first day of classes at UTMB, Dr. Bonnet wrote in her diary, “I’m a little scared of what may be coming but I think this is the right thing for me to be doing so know I’ll be all right” (October 1, 1922). Only six weeks later, she wrote, “Failed in a Materia Medica quiz and am doing very poorly in Anatomy and Chemistry. It’s baffling to work hard and get nowhere” (November 26, 1922). However, she graduated tenth in her class in 1926. The top nine were qualified

to intern at John Sealy Hospital, but when one of the top nine elected to go elsewhere, she assumed she would take his place. Dr. Bonnet and another eligible female, Dr. Frances Vanzant, were initially denied internships at John Sealy, however, because they were women. The two young doctors appealed to the UT Board of Regents and Governor Miriam “Ma” Ferguson (the first female governor of Texas) heard their case. The state legislature declared that the two women, if eligible, must be admitted as interns. Dr. Bonnet went on to become the first physician in San Antonio to limit her practice to pediatrics as a specialist. Herman Aladdin Barnett, III (1926– 1973) was the first African-American male to graduate from UTMB in 1953. As a child, he had two major goals: to become a doctor and to learn to fly. During World War II, Dr. Barnett enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps and became a member of the famed Tuskegee Airmen. He served with distinction until he was honorably discharged in 1946. His great passion for flying continued after the war and he joined the Air Force Medical reserve. In 1949, he graduated with honors from Samuel Huston College and then focused on attending medical school. Although he had been accepted to Howard University College of Medicine and Meharry Medical College, Dr. Barnett followed encouragement from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and decided to attend UTMB. Amid controversy, he was registered at Texas Southern University as

a “contract student” but allowed to attend classes at UTMB on a contingency basis. By 1950, Dr. Barnett was officially enrolled at UTMB. His tenure at UTMB was not without struggles. He was once severely beaten by a police officer who pulled him over for speeding. Another time, he and a white classmate were yelled at by the driver of a city bus, who told them they could not sit together. The two medical students got off and walked. Dr. Barnett graduated cum laude and was the first African-American to serve on the State Board of Medical Examiners and elected president of the Houston Independent School District Board of Education in 1973. Dr. Barnett said he “hoped to see the day when it was no longer news when someone became the first black to do anything.”

Dr. Barnett died in 1973 when his private plane crashed in Wichita, Kansas. It was said that “the core of his life was helping others lead full lives.” AE



Working Together Interprofessional Education and the Future of Patient Care


magine a stage filled with well-trained, talented musicians. Woodwind, string, brass and percussion players — they all spent many months learning and practicing concert pieces for the evening individually and in section rehearsals for each instrument. Then, right before the curtain rises to reveal an eager audience, all of the musicians stand and take a few minutes to introduce themselves to one another and to their conductor… for the very first time. It’s easy to conclude that the ensuing performance would be disastrous. Failing to tune their instruments to a common tone would likely produce dissonance. Without agreeing on a tempo in advance, each musician could literally be playing to his or her own beat. And an untried conductor could hardly be 6


expected to hold the group together. In short, the concert patrons would probably experience a train wreck instead of the expected evening of musical entertainment. Health industry professionals once dealt with a similar scenario. While each group began their career path well-trained and prepared to do a good job, they had little or no interaction with health care professionals in other fields until they actually began working together. Physicians and nurses, occupational and physical therapists, community health workers, clinical scientists, biomedical researchers and others in the industry had minimal knowledge of each other’s roles or how their work might overlap. Health education around the world is changing to address this disconnect,

chiefly through efforts collectively labeled interprofessional education practice, or IPEP. At UTMB, opportunities for IPEP were traditionally informal and sporadic. But that changed in 2008 when IPEP became the focus of a five-year Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP). UTMB's plan, called "Synergy," began with the formation of the Office for Interprofessional Education and Practice, overseen by Pamela G. Watson, RN, ScD, senior vice president for interprofessional education and institutional effectiveness and dean of the School of Nursing. “After graduation, our students are expected to function as team members, although they didn’t learn as a team, or practice together as a team. We viewed Synergy as a platform to foster change that could remedy that situation,” says Dr. Watson.

Carol Wiggs, PhD, RN, CNM, AHNBC, RN-BSN track administrator and associate professor in the School of Nursing, took a lead role. She developed a plan with an advisory committee to implement interprofessional education activities involving students from all four schools: Health Professions, Medicine, Nursing, and the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. Shelley Smith, MEd, director of interprofessional education and QEP, was hired to put that plan into action. A central component of the effort was to create the Interprofessional Scholars Program, designed to cultivate and reward a notable commitment to IPEP by UTMB students. Its structure reflects UTMB’s goal to provide students with the core competencies necessary for effective interprofessional collaborative practice. Interprofessional Scholars must demonstrate proficiency in four distinct areas as part of the program: values and ethics; roles and responsibilities; interprofessional communication; and teams and teamwork1 by participating in IPEP events and creating scholarly projects with interprofessional teams. The specific competencies mirror those identified by the Interprofessional Education Collaborative, an initiative supported by 15 leading health care agencies. To date, 45 students have been honored as UTMB Interprofessional Scholars during commencement ceremonies. In 2013, the university issued an impact statement to chronicling the success of Synergy. In addition to the Interprofessional Scholars Program, UTMB established an annual Interprofessional Education Day, featuring workshops and activities to cultivate student collaboration across schools. Ongoing educational and outreach programs sponsored by individual schools or programs were expanded to create opportunities for students from other disciplines. And efforts to promote and expand faculty support for IPE were found to be effective. One of the most popular interprofessional activities cited is “What’s Wrong with Warren?” Introduced in 2016, this

campus-wide, interactive case study was created by: Judith Rowen, MD, professor in the Department of Pediatrics and associate dean for educational affairs; Laura Rudkin, PhD, professor and chair of the Department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health; Christine Arcari, PhD, MPH, associate professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health; Elisabeth Shell, PhD, PA-C, assistant professor in the Department of Physician Assistant Studies in the School of Health Professions; Kaitlin Ashmore, MPH, CHES, program coordinator for the Primary Care Plus Program; and Shelley Smith. Writers from each discipline also contributed to the case study. More than 700 students from 12 health care programs completed “What’s Wrong with Warren?” in 2016.

In this case study, faculty member leaders help students assess a difficult patient scenario — ambiguous symptoms, for example, or a possible infectious disease with community outbreak concerns — in three phases. First, students meet in small groups within their disciplines to understand their role in the case study. In phase two, the consultation phase, students realize that they must communicate with other professions to treat the patient. During this phase, students from various disciplines share their roles and responsibilities with each other. Students within each discipline are challenged to collaborate and use their areas of expertise to help the group develop a plan for decisive action. A debrief brings

all the students together, helping them understand the interconnectedness needed to care for the patient. After completing the exercise, 89 percent of students reported that they learned something useful and 76 percent said they had fun. Students also completed the Readiness for Interprofessional Learning Scale before and after the event; all items showed improvement. The success of Synergy and activities like “What’s Wrong with Warren?” have helped establish interprofessional education as a permanent component of instruction within all UTMB schools. In its review, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges praised the institution’s creative methods of engaging faculty members and fostering student participation. The agency also commended UTMB leadership for its robust commitment to interprofessional education. The concept of interprofessional education has also gained momentum globally in recent years. In a 2010 report, “Framework for Action on Interprofessional Education & Collaborative Practice,” the World Health Organization illustrates the link between interprofessional education, collaborative practice and improved health outcomes. Setting its sights on improving patient care and health outcomes, UTMB will likely focus on further enhancing interprofessional education for the next Quality Enhancement Plan, set to begin in 2018. Dr. Watson says: “It’s time to take interprofessional education to the next level here at UTMB. We believe that involves facilitating more actual practice opportunities for the students at all of our schools to work together.” UTMB is planning a new health education building with space dedicated to simulation and other potential interprofessional education activities, set to open in 2019. AE 1

Interprofessional Education Collaborative. (2016). Core competencies for interprofessional collaborative practice: 2016 update. Washington, DC: Interprofessional Education Collaborative.



Dedicated to Service AAMC recognizes UTMB for outstanding community service programs


TMB was honored by the Association of American Medical Colleges as a finalist for the 2016 Spencer Foreman Award for Outstanding Community Service, which recognizes long-standing major institutional commitment to addressing community needs. Established in 1993, this national award honors exceptional programs that go well beyond the traditional role of academic medicine and reach communities whose needs are not being met through the traditional health delivery system. Danny O. Jacobs, MD, MPH, FACS, executive vice president, provost and dean of the School of Medicine, accepted a plaque on behalf of the institution at the Awards Dinner at Learn Serve Lead 2016: 127th AAMC Annual Meeting in Seattle. “Service is a core value at UTMB and it is an honor to be recognized by the AAMC for our commitment to the communities we serve,” says Dr. Jacobs. The nomination process included a written application, which highlighted more than two dozen UTMB community service programs, and a site visit from the AAMC team to the Galveston campus. Highlighted programs included Frontera de Salud, Luke Society Medical Mission to the Homeless, St. Vincent’s House and the Osler Student Societies, through which UTMB students across all schools volunteer time to improve health and wellness. The Office of Educational Outreach was also featured for its many teacher development opportunities and student education programs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, as well as the School of Nursing’s Baby and Mother Bonding Initiative, designed to improve maternal bonding and breastfeeding among incarcerated mothers. UTMB’s Galveston National Laboratory was highlighted for maintaining a longstanding relationship with the local community and demonstrating UTMB’s commitment to the safe study of disease, which ensured community support during the 2014 Ebola epidemic and recent Zika outbreak. UTMB’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, Teen Health Center clinics, Center to Eliminate Health Disparities, Hispanic Center of Excellence and Texas Area Health Education Center East also added strength to UTMB’s nomination. “Being recognized as a finalist for AAMC’s Spencer Foreman Award is a tremendous honor for UTMB,” says President David L. Callender, MD, MBA, FACS. “Our faculty, staff and students have an impressive record of supporting, contributing to and volunteering in the communities that UTMB serves. We appreciate the national recognition from AAMC and look forward to continuing UTMB’s numerous community service and outreach programs.” AE



From top: Healthy Living on a Budget program, Office of Educational Outreach's Saturday biomedical science academy, Frontera de Salud, BAMBI participants

Fighting A Zika

s a research scientist, Shannan Rossi, PhD, an assistant professor in the Department of Pathology, is used to spending long days and nights in a laboratory where she often gets completely lost in her work. During her career, that work has primarily focused on the extrapolation of critical information from viruses with the goal of gaining genetic information needed to design vaccines. Most recently, Dr. Rossi and her colleagues in Dr. Scott Weaver’s lab at UTMB have been on the leading edge of research to tackle an epidemic: The Zika virus has infected millions of people in Brazil and other countries around the world since a 2015 outbreak, with concerns growing after local cases appeared in Florida and Texas. The Weaver lab is attacking Zika, spread through mosquitoes, from all

angles, with tasks that range from trapping and raising mosquitoes to analyzing blood sera from Brazilian and Mexican patients. Lab personnel have forged strong relationships with colleagues in Brazil, Colombia, the Dominican Republic and Mexico, and field research has become a major part of their efforts. Before the recent Zika outbreak, there were fewer than 100 published works on Zika and no significant history of funding for research on the virus. Scott Weaver, MS, PhD, and Robert Tesh, MD, are among the few scientists worldwide who had previously studied Zika and, thanks to the World Reference Center for Emerging Viruses and Arboviruses at UTMB, their lab teams had access to all the different strains dating back to the original 1947 discovery in Uganda. That helped place UTMB at the center of the WINTER 2017



global need for access to the virus. To date, UTMB has supplied Zika virus to hundreds of other institutions around the world who are now conducting research in the race to find new diagnostics and develop a vaccine. Dr. Weaver is one of the world’s leading experts on arboviruses, a group of viruses that are transmitted by mosquitoes, ticks and other arthropods. He serves as director of the Institute for Human Infections and Immunity and is acting chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at UTMB. He is also scientific director of the Galveston National Laboratory. Dr. Weaver was recently named chair of the Zika Task Force by the Global Virus Network. Dr. Tesh, professor in the Department of Pathology, not only serves as the director for the World Reference Center for Emerging Viruses and Arboviruses, but also has been studying mosquitoborne illnesses for decades and is a visiting scientist with the Evando Chagas Institute, a nonprofit organization in Brazil that promotes public health. The Zika virus is mysterious. Fewer than 80 percent of people who contract it will have any symptoms, which mostly are mild and flu-like. But in 2015 when hundreds of Brazilian babies were born with microcephaly, a devastating birth defect that occurs when the brain fails to develop in areas responsible for some of the most basic functions, the connection to Zika and its danger to pregnant women became a worldwide concern. Nikos Vasilakis, PhD, another leading member of the Zika team, lives and breathes research. And, he’s been involved with Zika since the epidemic began. An associate professor at UTMB, he is also married to Dr. Rossi. In December 2015, while many faculty 10


members were enjoying some welldeserved time off, Drs. Vasilakis and Rossi traveled to Brazil to train scientists in Salvador, in the northeastern epicenter region of the country, on how to use quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) tests to diagnose Zika. At the time, the suspicion regarding a link to Zika and the relative explosion of new babies born with microcephaly was all over the news in Brazil and scientists at Fiocruz — the Brazilian equivalent of the National Institutes of Health — were clamoring for answers and needed help. That trip to Brazil is what Dr. Rossi says has her burning the candle at both ends. That is where she witnessed the heartbreak of young mothers. “We went to a hospital and we spoke with grieving mothers, holding newborn babies with tiny, misshapen heads. It made the importance of our work heartbreakingly real, and it’s one of the most profound experiences of my career. Those images, those terrified mothers…They’ve left images burned into my mind that fuel my efforts every day,” Dr. Rossi says. Being on the forefront of research means going where the action is and Dr. Weaver has spent several weeks and made numerous trips to Brazil focused on assisting the Fiocruz Institute in Salvador with interpreting diagnostic and epidemi-

ologic data, and surveying mosquitoes to identify which are transmitting Zika and chikungunya. Dr. Weaver has served as a key resource not only to scientists and medical professionals around the world organizing emergency conferences, but also to lawmakers trying to determine how to combat the virus here in the U.S. In the past 18 months, he’s also been quoted hundreds of times by journalists working for both scientific and mainstream media. When it comes to Zika and other mosquito-borne illnesses, he is a scientific rock star. In a presentation made to physicians in Philadelphia in 2016, Dr. Weaver told the crowd that he believes the tremendous effort underway by research institutions around the world will lead to a vaccine to prevent Zika virus disease, as well as monoclonal antibodies to treat individuals with a high risk of harmful side effects. He estimated that a recombinant or DNA vaccine would be the first vaccine tested and used but, ultimately — as with the yellow fever vaccine given during childhood in endemic areas — a live, attenuated vaccine may be the most effective route to suppressing future Zika epidemics. His team hopes to be a major part of that vaccine development in collaboration

A microscopic view of mosquito cells infected with Zika virus using immunofluorescence, showing the yellow Zika virus antigen within the red infected cells. Photo Courtesy of Dr. Robert Tesh

that have proven successful in preventing “After World War II, there was a with Pei-Yong Shi, PhD, professor in the disease in monkeys. Human trials program to try to eradicate Aedes the Department of Biochemistry and are scheduled to begin soon, but vaccine aegypti from the Americas. They did Molecular Biology. Dr. Shi is one of the approvals can take years. a good job in some parts of the world, world’s experts on flaviviruses like Zika. That waiting time was one factor that but they were never able to eradicate it UTMB scientists published a paper in led Mariano Garcia-Blanco, MD, PhD, the American Journal of Tropical Medicine from the southern United States or the chair of the Department of Biochemistry Caribbean. By the 1970s, it had returned and Hygiene in March 2016 documenting and Molecular Biology, and his team to to most parts of the world wherever it the development of the world’s first approach the issue a different way. had existed before, and along with it animal model for studying Zika. The “It’s quite interesting that there is came dengue. These mosquitoes live in mouse model makes it possible to study not a single FDA-approved drug for a houses in relatively small numbers and the pathogenesis of this often symptomflavivirus,” he says. “That led free virus and its links to our lab to focus on a way we brain damage in newborn thought we could possibly infants. Eventually it will be make a difference quickly. used to test the efficacy of We decided to create a study newly developed vaccines. that would screen already “One of the biggest approved FDA drugs to see if problems with Zika is that any of them worked against it has the same presenting Zika.” symptoms as dengue, Dr. Garcia-Blanco’s lab chikungunya and even West acquired a library of more Nile virus, so doctors can’t than 770 FDA-approved tell you what you have,” drugs and began testing says Dr. Tesh. “About half of them with primary human the people who get dengue cells infected with Zika. Less will have no symptoms than one percent showed and about 80 percent of promise, but a recent paper those who contract Zika authored by UTMB’s Nichare asymptomatic. Once olas Barrows and published you’ve had one of these in the August issue of Cell viruses, you’ve got a lifelong Host and Microbe will likely immunity. That’s the good lead to clinical trials to test news.” efficacy of approved drugs “We have tested sera for fighting Zika. from Colombia, Brazil and One thing is certain: The Mexico and what we find Zika crisis has made it an is that people from those interesting time to be in regions have typically had During a research trip to Brazil, UTMB graduate student Chris Roundy checks for graduate school at UTMB. two or three flavivirus mosquito eggs in collection vessels. Roundy is involved in vector surveillance to look for Zika and its close cousin chikungunya virus. For Sasha Azar, who works infections by the time they in Dr. Weaver’s lab, it’s reach child-bearing age. made the long hours that Once you’ve had one of these are always associated with being a PhD lay their eggs in pools of water around viruses, your body creates antibodies, student much more relatable. Azar studies houses (planters, gutters, bird baths, rain but the antibodies are cross-reactive, so the interaction between mosquitoes and water collection barrels) or even inside someone who has had dengue will test the mammalian host. showers or other wet areas. Unlike most positive for Zika, even though he or she “Dr. Weaver is a fantastic mentor and mosquitoes that come out as the sun goes may have never had it. In Latin America, this has been an incredible opportunity down, they feed during the day,” Dr. Tesh it’s difficult to diagnose Zika.” overall. When there is an outbreak going says. According to Dr. Tesh, another major on, it makes the work a lot more tangible. So with all the work underway focus with Zika needs to be on mosquito worldwide, when will there be an effective You realize that the extra hours you are control. The Aedes aegypti, also known as putting in may make a difference in the yellow fever mosquito, is the mosquito diagnostic or a childhood vaccine for someone’s life,” Azar says. AE Zika? There are at least three vaccines that carries Zika virus. WINTER 2017



FUTURE School of Health Professions Introduces Two New Doctoral Programs


TMB’s School of Health Professions is looking to the future of patient care with two new programs: a Doctorate in Clinical Laboratory Sciences (DCLS) and a Doctorate of Occupational Therapy (OTD). In July 2016, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board approved both unique programs, which are aimed at improving patient care and providing health care professionals with innovative options to advance their career. The DCLS — a professional doctorate open only to laboratorians — is the second program of its kind offered in the U.S. The OTD is also a professional doctorate and is the second OTD program offered in Texas. The first students for both programs were admitted in the fall. “These innovative programs demonstrate the commitment of UTMB’s faculty to excellence in education and health care,” says Elizabeth J. Protas, PT, PhD, FACSM, FAPTA, senior vice president and dean of the School of Health Professions.



Bridging the Gap Between the Lab and the Bedside The DCLS is designed for practicing clinical laboratory scientists who want to advance their clinical expertise and further develop leadership and management skills. The program combines online coursework with four four-week clinicals offered at the UTMB Galveston campus. Most full-time students will complete the DCLS in three years, part-time students will take four to six years. “Sixty to 70% of all disease identification, treatment and management decisions are based on laboratory results,” says Vicki Freeman, PhD, MASCP, MLS(ASCP)CM SC, FACB, professor and chair of Clinical Laboratory Sciences and associate dean for faculty development in the School of Health Professions. “We are excited to offer the Doctorate in Clinical Laboratory Sciences degree to educate laboratory professionals who will take an active role in interpretation and application of lab results.”

From left: DCLS student Julie Soder, MS, MLS(ASCP)CM and Michael Laposata, MD, PhD

From left: Eddie Salazar, PhD, MLS(ASCP)CM, Vicki Freeman, PhD, MASCP, MLS (ASCP)CM SC, FACB and DCLS student, Rajendran Rajkumar, MS, MLS(ASCP)CM

UTMB’s DCLS program is a collaboration between the departments of Clinical Laboratory Sciences in the School of Health Professions and Pathology in the School of Medicine. Dr. Freeman, who joined UTMB in 1996, was working to establish the DCLS for more than a decade to improve care and create better opportunities for clinical laboratory scientists. The program came to fruition, however, when Dr. Freeman joined forces with Michael Laposata, MD, PhD, who joined UTMB as professor and chair of the Department of Pathology in 2014. Dr. Laposata is equally passionate about using laboratory expertise to improve health and help institutions increase efficiency. Working together — with support from Dr. Protas and Danny O. Jacobs, MD, MPH, FACS, executive vice president, provost and dean of the School of Medicine — Drs. Freeman and Laposata were able to get the cutting-edge DCLS program off the ground. UTMB’s DCLS is one of a kind because its clinical education is built into the program. Students work as part of a diagnostic medical team, a concept Dr. Laposata pioneered at various institutions before joining UTMB. Diagnostic medical teams bring pathologists, clinical laboratory scientists, expert physicians and others together to select appropriate diagnostic tests and interpret results for patients. “These clinical lab scientists will be working as part of a team to improve patient care,” says Dr. Laposata. DCLS graduates will help providers choose the appropriate tests, interpret the results and use these results in clinical decisions, says Dr. Freeman. “This will improve patient care and safety; prevent errors in diagnosis and treatment. The health care system will see a cost savings by utilizing the DCLS in consultative roles and on interprofessional teams.” Eddie Salazar, PhD, MLS (ASCP)CM, assistant professor in the School of Health Professions and director of the DCLS program says, “It will greatly benefit patients to have someone that can act as a bridge between the lab and the patient.” The DCLS also provides a great opportunity for clinical lab scientists who want

to expand the reach of the lab and be more involved in patient care, says Dr. Salazar, who earned his bachelor’s degree in clinical laboratory sciences at UTMB in 2003. “This is a phenomenal step for our profession.” According to Dr. Laposata, UTMB is ahead of the curve with this program and there are several institutions across the country hoping to establish DCLS programs to fill the existing demand. Dr. Salazar agrees: “Everyone in the U.S. is looking at UTMB to see what we can do.” There are 10 students currently enrolled in UTMB’s DCLS program. There is such a high level of interest, Dr. Salazar says, that they hope to be able to expand the program in the future. Preparing OTs for the Future The post-professional Doctorate of Occupational Therapy (OTD) program — which offers bachelor’s-to-OTD and master’s-to-OTD options — prepares practicing occupational therapists to serve in leadership roles, including as managers, and/or as clinical faculty members. This program is primarily online with two visits to the Galveston Campus for on-site learning and can be completed in six to seven semesters while maintaining active clinical practice. Occupational therapists are in demand. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, opportunities for occupational therapists are expected to grow 28% between 2014 and 2024. The field is evolving, says Patricia Fingerhut, OTR, PhD, associate professor and chair of the Department of Occupa-

tional Therapy, and there are many OTs practicing with bachelor’s or master’s degrees despite the fact that in the near future the entry level in the field will be a clinical doctorate degree. For this reason, there has been a demand for a post-professional occupational therapy doctorate for several years, says April Cowan, OTR, OTD, CHT, assistant professor and director of the OTD program. About three years ago, however, it was the right time at UTMB: “We realized we now have the manpower, we have the gumption and we’re going to do this.” The program came together just in time for 2017 — the 100th anniversary of the occupational therapy profession. According to the American Occupational Therapy Association, occupational therapists improve the lives of people of all ages through the therapeutic use of everyday activities. OTs help children with disabilities participate fully at school and in social settings, assist patients recovering from injury to regain skills and provide support for older adults experiencing physical and cognitive changes. UTMB’s OTD program — designed to enhance leadership, professional development and evidence-based practice skills — is different from other programs in the state because it accepts students without master’s degrees. UTMB provides a pre-semester to prepare those students for the doctoral program. According to U.S. News & World Report, UTMB’s entry-level Master of Occupational Therapy program ranks first in Texas and 14th out of 163 institutions across the country. AEDepartment of ClinWINTER 2017


Physicians and Patients Benefit from UTMB’s Scribe Program


ore than ever, physicians are challenged to balance administrative responsibilities and enhance efficiency while providing patients with the best care. UTMB is meeting the challenge with its new scribe program, which is improving physician job satisfaction and work-life balance while enhancing patient satisfaction. “Scribes have the potential to increase physician access and availability, patient satisfaction and provider efficiency — all of which are key to staying successful in an ever-changing health care environment,” says Rex McCallum, MD, FACP, FACR, vice president, chief physician executive and associate dean for clinical affairs. UTMB launched the Scribe Pilot Program in September 2015 in an effort to allow physicians to spend more time with patients and still capture complete and accurate documentation. Ten scribes served in various UTMB locations during the pilot program, including six working with primary care physicians in communitybased clinics, two in otolaryngology and two in dermatology. “My quality of life is so much better, and in just this short time I am already feeling less burned out. Needless to say, I am a big fan,” says Lauren Raimer-Goodman, MD.



Ten physicians participated in a six-month pilot program

Dr. Raimer-Goodman works in the Pediatric and Providers in the Scribe Pilot Program completed a satisfaction survey to analyze the effect of the scribes Adult Primary Care clinic in Friendswood, one of UTMB’s community-based clinics that participated in Without Scribe With Scribe the pilot scribe program. VS. Scribes are used nationwide for clinic Physicians Do Not Feel Rushed Physicians Do Not Feel Rushed optimization, physician satisfaction and quality of Patient Visits During During of Patient Visits of care. Historically used primarily in emergency departments, scribes are Physicians Stayed on Schedule Physicians Stayed on Schedule helping alleviate the strain During of Patient Visits During of Patient Visits documentation puts on a health care provider’s time Physicians Spent One Hour or Less in the contemporary world Completing Documentation After a Shift of patient care. Stayed on Scribes enter patient Schedule chart information into the of of electronic health record — the time the time Epic at UTMB — on the provider’s behalf, including history of present illness, physical exam, assessment and plan, procedures and treatments, discharge plans, and took time to get to know me. She John Moore, MD, from the Texas past medical history and diagnostic listened, which seems to be a lost art. City Primary Care Clinic, says, “With results. This enables providers to She had a medical scribe, which allowed the addition of a scribe, I feel like I can concentrate entirely on the patient. her to look at me as we spoke. I hope the extend my career an additional five According to the American College of scribe position is continued. ” years.” Medical Scribe Specialists, there were Allison McCorkle, MHA, a senior While Adri Smith, MD, from the about 20,000 scribes in 2014 and that project leader at ScribeAmerica, helped Pediatric Primary Care Clinic in Texas number is estimated to increase to implement the scribe program at various City wrote that adding a scribe reduced 100,000 by 2020. UTMB sites. her paperwork outside the clinic. Physicians who participated in the “Patients can feel a difference — the “When I get home, my time is for my Scribe Pilot Program were universally physician is now focused entirely on family. I am able to enjoy things with satisfied with the scribes’ service. them and not on the computer.” She them because I am not dreading having Many doctors felt a restored sense of adds that many organizations could to get back on the computer to write fulfillment from the enhanced care they potentially see similar success to UTMB. notes.” could provide patients, along with noted “Scribe programs can be beneficial to Patients also noted the difference improvements to their work-life balance. providers everywhere.” in early surveys. Most notably, survey Survey data and physician feedback UTMB is expanding the scribe data indicated a marked increase in highlighted a significant decrease in program, which was adopted as a longpatient satisfaction regarding time spent charting and record review time spent term initiative in March 2016. Scribes after clinic sessions. Physicians surveyed with their physician when scribes were continue to serve in community-based present. reported that they did not feel as rushed clinics and specialty locations and One patient said of a UTMB during patient encounters when scribes are being added to assist physicians community-based clinic provider upon were present. With the use of a scribe, in other areas including surgery and the first visit: “I was most pleased with some physicians saw more than two orthopaedics. AE the way she already knew my history additional patients per clinic session.

Scribe Presence Improves Clinic Experience









Total Institutional Workforce*: 12,939


Faculty Members

Academic Enterprise: 3,811 Faculty** – 961

Female Male Total

455 (47%) 506 (53%) 961

Post-Doc – 130 Research Fellows – 9 Residents – 618 Staff – 2,093

Health System w/o CMC: 4,339 Correctional Managed Care: 3,041 Institutional Support: 1,748


of Faculty Members Are Underrepresented Minorities

American Indian Asian Black Hispanic Pacific Islander Total

4 238 53 82 2 379

*FY2016 **Excludes without salary and pay-by-letter faculty

Patient Care*

Economic Impact

Recorded 1,015,673 outpatient encounters and 30,298 hospital discharges


Delivered 6,091 new Texans

$3,300,000,000 in business volume

Served 66,209 Emergency Department patients Conducted 128,966 telemedicine encounters, including medical services to National Science Foundation research stations in Antarctica *FY2016

46,242 total jobs

Research* $122 million in research expenditures (FY2016)




202 active U.S. patents protecting UTMB

Total business volume:

Total business volume:

Total business volume:




School of Medicine’s Microbiology & Immunology department ranked in top 3 in National Institutes of Health (NIH) rankings

Total jobs:

Durable goods purchases:

Durable goods purchases:


which accounts for one-quarter of all jobs on the island



Jobs (direct and indirect):

Jobs (direct and indirect):




5 faculty members ranked in NIH Top 50 in their respective disciplines School of Health Professions ranked 12th in NIH funding For 2016, UTMB received 264 awards from NIH totaling $97,437,303; this is a 13 percent increase from 2015, when UTMB received 235 awards for a total of $85,901,018

Source: Quanticon, LLC, FY2015, The Economic Impact of UTMB Galveston *FY2015 unless otherwise noted




UTMB has conferred about 40,000 degrees from all four schools during its 125-year history. The School of Health Professions graduated 343 students on Aug. 12. The School of Nursing awarded 610 degrees in 2016, with 450 graduates participating in commencement on April 29. The School of Medicine held commencement on June 4,

2016 School of Medicine Graduates Match at Institutions Across the Country


Matched in Texas

with 216 graduates. The Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences awarded 39 degrees on May 20. For the entire academic year, which includes three terms, the GSBS awarded a total of 68 degrees.

Enrollment increased by ~30 percent since 2009 in Schools of Health Professions, Medicine, Nursing and Graduate Biomedical Sciences UTMB is 9th in the U.S. in the number of MD graduates with an active license to practice medicine and 1st among schools west of the Mississippi River New state-of-the-art Health Education Center to open in 2019 in Galveston School of Nursing’s online graduate program was recently named the best in the nation by



Translating Research to Treatment UTMB’s Dr. MinKyung Yi and the Challenges and Successes of Working with Hepatitis C




n 2014, scientists and health care workers marked an auspicious anniversary. It had been 25 years since the elusive hepatitis “C” virus — HCV — that attacks the human liver was finally identified. The condition it causes, hepatitis or inflammation of the liver, was well-known by 1989 and isolation of the “C” virus brought the number of hepatitis viruses to five. But by 2014, there was good news. At last, a new drug therapy, one that completely eliminated HCV in an infected person, had been approved by the FDA and was now available to the public. Decades of frustrating research faded into history in that triumphant moment. But the biomedical research community involved in HCV research knew that progress in the first 15 to 20 years of investigation had been agonizingly slow. Results were often inconsistent and some of the most promising therapeutic treatments ultimately yielded intolerable side effects. So why was this particular virus so difficult to conquer? After all, effective vaccinations, treatment and prevention methods were developed in a relatively short time to combat other viruses identified as causing hepatitis. What made the battle against HCV so much harder? The answer was simple really — replication. In order to conduct effective research on the virus, investigators needed easy access to it. The problem with HCV is that it only survives and replicates within humans and chimpanzees. Taking the standard approach to grow HCV in test tubes and growth in tissue culture dishes to conduct experiments wasn’t really possible. Research scientists focused on HCV, like Stanley M. Lemon, MD, former UTMB dean of medicine, were wellacquainted with this challenge. Dr. Lemon’s work on the molecular level of human hepatitis viruses was internationally recognized and his lab at UTMB was filled with young scientists working on solutions. One of those scientists was MinKyung Yi, PhD, then a postdoctoral fellow investigating HCV to learn more about its replication process. Even with the significant hurdle of replication, investigators around the world,

including Drs. Lemon and Yi, remained motivated by the daunting statistics of chronic HCV infection. By 2000, HCV had become the most prevalent cause of infection among the five viruses that target and damage the liver. Today, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates there are 130–150 million people with chronic hepatitis C infection worldwide, with 3–4 million in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Dr. Yi began experiments to identify cell culture adaptive mutations that allow a clone of HCV genotype 1 — one of the most prevalent variants of the virus — to survive and replicate in a cell culture in the laboratory, outside of humans and chimpanzees. In 2000 she hit on the right combination and, with assistance from UTMB’s Office of Technology Transfer, began the lengthy process of securing a patent for her discovery. Sundeep Mattamana, PhD, MBA, director of that office, recalls it took five years to gain approval for the initial patent. “That sounds like a long time but you have to understand that after an application is submitted, the Patent and Trademark Office may take a year or more to even begin its review. And every inquiry the Patent Office makes back to the applicant takes at least six months to process.” The Office of Technology Transfer specializes in obtaining patents and licensing agreements on behalf of UTMB and helps establish business partnerships between UTMB researchers and private companies, as well as other universities. Finally, in 2005 the first patent was granted and news of the groundbreaking discovery was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S. in February 2006. The abstract of that article concludes with a simple, but powerful prediction from Dr. Yi: “The ability of this genotype 1a virus to infect cultured cells will substantially benefit antiviral and vaccine discovery programs.” She was right. Using the clone proved pivotal to HCV research, ultimately

leading investigators to one of the curative treatments available today. After 2005, as more applications for the clone were identified, the university sought and secured additional patents. Total revenue realized by UTMB from those patents is expected to top $10 million by the end of 2016. “It’s very gratifying to see the work we do at UTMB play a role in global health advances like this,” says David W. Niesel, PhD. Dr. Niesel is senior vice president, dean of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and chief research officer. “So many factors contributed to the success — the support of Dr. Stanley Lemon, the determination of Dr. MinKyung Yi and the work of other researchers to hone in on a treatment that ultimately proved successful and greatly impacted people’s lives.” He continues, “It’s important to understand that achievements like this are only possible because our institutional leadership supports efforts that foster the vibrant, cutting-edge research environment we enjoy here at UTMB.” Dr. Yi now serves as professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology. Her work with HCV is one example of UTMB scientists partnering with industry to create products that will improve patient health. Other recent examples include a novel and affordable diagnostic test for chikungunya developed by a team led by Scott Weaver, MS, PhD, from the Department of Microbiology and Immunology and scientific director of the Galveston National Laboratory. In 2016, a multidisciplinary team from UTMB was also the first in the world to genetically engineer a clone of the Zika virus strain, which could lead to faster vaccine and therapeutics development. Lead author Pei-Yong Shi, PhD, professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and his team published the study in Cell Host and Microbe, and have filed a patent application. AE



From left: Dr. Michael Laposata and Dr. Randall Urban




passion for patient care and a love of baseball intersect for two UTMB chairs, Michael Laposata, MD, PhD, chair of UTMB’s Department of Pathology and Randall Urban, MD, professor and chair of the Department of Internal Medicine. The chairs each have an impressive collection of baseball memorabilia with an intriguing back story that relates to their true calling: medicine. Dr. Laposata has a dream to create a national baseball card museum. “So many adults and kids have touched and treasured a baseball card,” he says. “They can see reminders of their own experience.” The museum would be a treasure for all baseball fans, he says, but first and foremost it would serve to benefit a special cause for him: Proceeds from the museum would be donated to help prove the innocence of those wrongly accused of child abuse. The idea for a national baseball museum came to Dr. Laposata in the 1990s, while he was working at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. He was inspired by the children at the hospital and hoped to bring some joy into these small patients’ lives through his baseball collection. The concept evolved as Dr. Laposata began taking on child abuse cases.

For the Love of Baseball and Medicine

An avid Red Sox fan with a true love of the game, Dr. Laposata opened his first pack of baseball cards when he was five years old. When he was in his 30s, he began trading duplicates he saved of the cards he amassed from 1957 to 1966 to create a complete collection of Topps cards from 1952 to 1993 (minus the particularly pricey Mickey Mantle rookie card from 1952). The extensive collection that resulted is in pristine condition — almost all of his cards are creaseless with sharp corners.

He envisions a display that would include more than 50 sets of baseball cards, arranged by teams according to their standing that particular year. Recorded commentary about each set would be available for visitors, and assorted other memorabilia would be featured. Dr. Laposata hopes to find other collectors willing to exhibit their unique items to the colorful and historic attraction, which would appeal to baseball lovers of all ages. Dr. Laposata, holder of the Class of 1955 Teaching Professorship, joined UTMB in July 2014 from Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where he served as Edward and Nancy Fody Professor and executive vice chair of pathology. He is one of the world’s top pathologists and is internationally renowned for his expertise in blood coagulation. He first encountered a case of misdiagnosis of child abuse in 1998. In the majority of cases where parents or caretakers are accused of abuse because a child suffers from bruising or bleeding, Dr. Laposata says, that child is abused. In about five percent of possible child abuse cases, however, the child is not abused but rather afflicted with a blood-clotting disorder that causes bruising and bleeding. Misdiagnosis in these cases can tear families apart, and, in many cases, the acWINTER 2017


cused don’t have the money for the often expensive diagnostic tests needed to prove their innocence. That first case led to similar cases, and soon Dr. Laposata felt compelled to use his expertise to help address the issue. “I’ve been involved in more than 40 cases of people who have been falsely accused,” Dr. Laposata says. He works to identify these cases by reviewing hospital records and performing blood tests, volunteering his time and resources to vindicate falsely accused caretakers. “The work I do, which I do mostly at home, is analysis of records or autopsy reports from outside hospitals or medical examiners. I have chosen, for myself only, to work for these underserved and underrepresented people without charging them,” he says. “I’m happy to do it, because the people involved often have no advocates to help them.” Dr. Laposata picks up a hefty stack of papers sitting on his windowsill: “This is just for one case.” Dr. Laposata’s goal is to be able to pay to help exonerate those wrongly accused of child abuse through a national baseball museum. Throughout the years, Dr. Laposata researched what would be involved in making his baseball museum a reality, floating the idea in Boston, then while he worked at Vanderbilt. When Dr. Laposata 22


joined UTMB, he brought his dream of a baseball museum with him. With a strong baseball fan base in Houston, Dr. Laposata hopes the place and time are finally right for his baseball dream to come true. Baseball and medicine intertwine in a different way for Dr. Randall Urban. Dr. Urban has been a baseball fan all of his life. A native of Victoria, Texas, Dr. Urban grew up listening to the Astros games on the radio or attending games in the Astrodome, a beloved Houston landmark and the Astros’ former home. He is holder of the Edward Randall & Edward Randall Jr. Distinguished Chair in Internal Medicine; his specialty is endocrinology. The central feature in Dr. Urban’s office is a large conference table with baseball cards and other memorabilia displayed under its glass coverslip, the manifestation of a suggestion from a faculty member when Dr. Urban first became chair in 2005. The shelves and walls of Dr. Urban’s UTMB office are also lined with tokens of baseball history. “I am not a collector,” says Dr. Urban. “These are gifts.” Every year the chief residents buy a gift for the chair, says Dr. Urban. The first set of residents knew he is a baseball fan, so the baseball theme started with their gift: a set of framed autographed photos of Astros players. Other items in his collection include a Jimmy Wynn figurine, historic Astros

programs, a red Astros hat covered with players’ signatures and a bat the residents had emblazoned with his own signature. But the ultimate gift came in 2009. That year, the residents came up with the idea to get Dr. Urban out on the field. Through a little research, the group found out that they could give Dr. Urban the opportunity to throw out the first pitch at an Astros game if they could sell 1,200 tickets. So they set to work, collaborating with UTMB’s marketing team to designate an Astros Day for employees and even made shirts emblazoned with a cartoon of Dr. Urban. For his part, Dr. Urban spent time on the Galveston Whitecaps’ field practicing throwing a pitch from the mound. When it came to game time, Dr. Urban’s practice paid off: The throw was decent enough to warrant a “Good pitch,” from the catcher. He was even featured on a local TV channel. Knowing this effort from the residents would be tough to beat — “They really moved the needle” — Dr. Urban has since told his chief residents to stick to non-baseball related gifts. When asked how baseball and medicine are similar, Dr. Urban says: “Teamwork is essential for both.” In the Department of Internal Medicine, everyone has to do his or her part. “You can have one superstar, but if you don’t have a team, you won’t be successful.” Baseball is also a slower paced, thoughtful game, he says. And in caring for patients, it is key to have a thoughtful approach that considers the whole picture. Drs. Laposata and Urban are not the only physician leaders at UTMB who are baseball fans. The friends and colleagues attend Astros games together with a handful of other UTMB chairs. But, Dr. Urban says he always sits next to Dr. Laposata at the games because they share a joy for the details of the game: “We can talk baseball.” AE


High school students attending an intensive health careers camp, where they tour local hospitals and have opportunities to learn medical procedures, participate in simulation labs and shadow health professionals.

Texas F AHEC East Celebrates 25 Years YEARS

all 2016 marked the 25th anniversary of UTMB’s Texas AHEC East program, which serves dozens of communities annually across 111 counties through its nine regional operations. UTMB’s AHEC program was started in 1991 to focus on the desperate needs of communities across East Texas that often had poorer health indicators and less access to health care than the Rio Grande border region. The acronym, AHEC, stands for Area Health Education Center. However, as is the case for the FFA, YMCA, and many other organizations, the acronym’s origin words are not fully descriptive of the organization today. Texas AHEC East (TAE) works to improve the health of individuals and communities it serves through a wide array of programs that support health workforce development, cultivate health literacy and spur health care practice transformation. A national network of AHECs was established through a federal grant program now under the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. With funded programs in 49 states and territories, the AHEC network encompasses nearly WINTER 2017


250 community-based centers. Programs are headquartered at health science center campuses. TAE’s nine regional operations serve almost 75 percent of the state’s population including Dallas, Fort Worth, Waco, Austin and Houston. If TAE’s region were a separate state in the U.S., it would be the fifth largest in population and 10th largest in area. TAE is primarily a state-supported program, with funds directed by the Texas Legislature. Federal and other grant and contract sources have added almost $40 million in additional funds to the program over the years.

Health Career Exploration Texas AHEC East provides health career information to tens of thousands of youth through its health careers guide, “Texas H.O.T. Jobs.” TAE also provides structured, ongoing learning experiences to approximately 2,000 students per year such as shadowing, mentoring, touring health care facilities and volunteering. TAE also provides academic preparation and application as well as pre-matriculation support for college and health career program enrollment. Clinical Learning Experiences UTMB’s Texas AHEC East supports 500–700 students per year — primarily medical, nursing and physician assistant — who complete 800–1000 community-based clinical learning experiences with partnering clinicians and community health clinics. AHECfacilitated rotations are predominantly in primary care, serving rural and medically underserved communities. TAE aims to connect communities with students and residents to help recruit their future health workforce. Staff members also engage students in local events and connect them to organizations and schools where they can become mentors and create ongoing relationships. Each 24



year, TAE supports student placements from about 15 disciplines and 30 different campuses with approximately 75% of those being for UTMB medical, PA and NP students.

Supporting Health Professionals Texas AHEC East’s regional operations tailor programs and services to the needs of local providers, clinics and health care facilities. Examples of those services include: • Practice management assistance to more than 40 vulnerable primary care practices and consultation on administration and operations with more than a dozen

new Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) startups. • Design and maintenance of Texas Health Match, a job-matching website for employers and job seekers ( • Continuing education for health professionals focused on always-indemand topics, such as domestic violence and CPR, as well as emerging issues including recognizing mental health needs of returning service members, navigating the health insurance marketplace and strategies for increasing HPV vaccination rates among adolescents to prevent cancer.

Making Communities Healthier Texas AHEC East’s health literacy programs and projects range from teaching elementary school children how to brush their teeth to training newly diagnosed diabetic patients to make better food choices. TAE helped a rural school district develop and deliver a program that lowered their teen pregnancy rate. Other initiatives sought to curb flu outbreaks, HIV infection as well as ATV injuries and deaths. In 2009, the 81st Texas Legislature charged TAE with designing and piloting an Emergency Medical Services Dispatch Resource Center to support rural 911 answering points with no EMS dispatch training. This program saves lives: Rural dispatchers can transfer a call to the EMS Dispatch Resource Center where qualified personnel provide pre-arrival instructions to callers until local first responders arrive on the scene. UTMB Texas AHEC East has been a leader in developing and training of Community Health Workers (CHWs) in Texas and across the nation. Largely due to TAE’s efforts, Texas is one of only six states with established CHW Certification Programs. TAE staff members have served as consultants in more than a dozen other states wanting to establish programs. Seven of TAE’s nine regional operations are state-approved training centers. Staff members are also active in local CHW organizations and leading constituency groups of the National AHEC Organization and the American Public Health Association. TAE created and piloted a curriculum to train CHWs to support behavioral health needs in primary care practices. TAE developed CHW programs, including training to support early discharge of stable premature infants for home monitoring; support of families participating in research on childhood obesity prevention; and targeted outreach to veterans. 25 Years of Effort Responding to urgent and ongoing community needs is a hallmark of Texas AHEC East’s regional operations. When

Students practicing proper sterile glove procedure. Each regional AHEC offers high school students an opportunity to explore a wide variety of health careers through a camp experience.

five teen suicides occurred in Victoria in one school year, TAE-Victoria facilitated community dialog among school, health care, church and community organization stakeholders that increased the availability of child and adolescent behavioral health services. When NASA’s Challenger shuttle fell out of the sky over East Texas, TAE-Piney Woods was the first community entity to call the sheriff, mayor and county judge to offer assistance and helped set up the initial staging center for recovery operations. After Hurricane Ike in Galveston, TAE partnered with the Texas Methodist Conference Relief Services to distribute hundreds of buckets of cleaning supplies to residents and staff who helped clean up the homes of coworkers, friends and neighbors. Texas AHEC East’s numerous honors include the Eugene S. Mayer, MD, Award, given by the National AHEC Organization to recognize TAE as the outstanding AHEC program in the country in 2006. Both Governor George

Bush and Governor Rick Perry formally acknowledged TAE’s contributions to the state. Mary Wainwright (ret.), TAE deputy director, received the Red Koelling Award for Outstanding Service from the National AHEC Organization in 2014. In 2015, Steve Shelton, assistant vice president for community outreach at UTMB and TAE’s executive director, received the Louis H. Gorin Award for Outstanding Service in Rural Health from the National Rural Health Association. This award is presented annually to an outstanding individual who has dedicated time and talent to improving the health and well-being of rural Americans. Many TAE staff members serve in a variety of leadership roles at the local, state, regional and national level. Leadership service also has included federal advisory committees and professional accreditation boards. AE



Featured Department



ction expresses priorities.” Anish Bhardwaj, MD, MBA, CPE, FAHA, FCCM, FAAN, FANA, professor and chair of the Department of Neurology, concluded a recent presentation with these powerful words from Mahatma Gandhi. Dr. Bhardwaj has been putting his vision for the department into action since joining UTMB in 2013. Dr. Bhardwaj envisions a department that represents a continuum of care — connecting basic science to the clinic — while keeping up with rapid, dramatic changes occurring in health care. “We strive to provide excellence in all domains of academic medicine. We have to be innovative; we have to be ahead of the curve.”




Dr. Bhardwaj appointed Giulio Taglialatela, PhD, vice chair of research and director of the Mitchell Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases in 2014. “Under Dr. Taglialatela’s disciplined leadership, our research enterprise has skyrocketed.” Dr. Taglialatela fell in love with Galveston’s laid-back lifestyle as a postdoctoral fellow at UTMB in 1988. He rejoined the institution in 1993 after a brief return to his home country of Italy and now serves as professor and inaugural holder of the Lawrence J. Del Papa Distinguished Chair in Neurodegenerative Disease Research. UTMB’s Department of Neurology faculty members have received more

than $12 million over the past three years, increasing department research funding from $132,000 in Fiscal Year 2013 to nearly $6 million in Fiscal Year 2016. Almost all of these grants were awarded to members of the Mitchell Center under Dr. Talialatela’s leadership. Dr. Taglialatela works to empower the center’s scientists: “I am the director, but every single faculty member in the center is a leader.” Strong leadership support made expanding the research program possible, from Dr. Bhardwaj who is a “huge cheerleader for research” to provost Dr. Danny Jacobs to president, Dr. David Callender, who understands the need to invest in research, says Dr. Taglialatela.

He also partnered with Betsy Clardy, vice president and chief development officer, to find philanthropic support for innovative work. These contributions enable cutting-edge research before ideas are developed enough to garner support from the National Institutes of Health. The department received nearly $1.3 million in gifts and endowments in 2015-16. Dr. Taglialatela’s own work is boosting UTMB’s reputation as a leader in neurodegenerative disease research. “I’ve been pursuing an idea that is a little bit of a game changer in the field of Alzheimer’s.” More than 5 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer’s disease, the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. according to the Alzheimer’s Association. But, studying Alzheimer’s is challenging because of its unpredictable risk factors and because scientists are still unsure what casuses it. Beyond that, translating research from animal models to humans can be ineffective. So when Dr. Taglialatela encountered several human brains with the neuropathological features of Alzheimer’s — but without the disease itself — he recognized the research potential. “These brains are telling us that there is a natural way for the human brain to resist the cognitive complications of Alzheimer’s.” Through studying these Alzheimer’sresistant brains, Dr. Taglialatela and his

team identified critical features that seem to be associated with the ability to stave off neurodegenerative disease. “The hope is to induce these mechanisms in anyone,” he says. In another study, stemming from original work on experimental animals developed in Dr. Taglialatela’s laboratory over nine years, he and Luca Cicalese, MD, professor in the Department of Surgery, revealed that a treatment taken daily by people who received transplants to prevent organ rejection protects against Alzheimer’s. Mitchell Center scientist Rakez Kayed, PhD, associate professor, is also engaged in groundbreaking research. He was recently awarded $1.9 million from the National Institute on Aging to study the formation and propagation of tau oligomeric strains in Alzheimer’s. Tau protein forms highways that enable brain cells to receive nutrients and get rid of waste. In Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases, tau protein transforms into a toxic tau oligomer. Dr. Kayed is exploring how tau oligomers form and move through the brain. His study could advance development of diagnostic and therapeutic applications to target toxic tau oligomers and help identify approaches for screening drug candidates. Dr. Kayed’s team is also studying the link between traumatic brain injury (TBI) and neurodegenerative disorders.

They recently found evidence that a form of toxic tau protein induces symptoms of TBI and may also be responsible for increased risk for neurodegenerative disease. Drs. Kayed and Taglialatela see their work as complementary; the ideal therapy combines multiple approaches. “We’re hoping this will be diseasemodifying therapy, not just relieve symptoms,” says Dr. Kayed. “We want to cure people, not just make them feel better for a short time.” Partha Sarkar, MS, PhD, another key member of the center, received more than $2.3 million this year from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke for his project, “Mechanism of DNA strand-break repair deficiency in Huntington’s disease.” He also recieved nearly $1.4 million from the National Eye Institute for his grant, “Pathogenic Role of DNA-Damage Response Pathway in Diabetic Retina.” “Maybe we’re small in size, but when it comes to scientific contributions we are really doing cutting-edge research,” says Dr. Kayed. Dr. Bhardwaj, who also serves as associate dean of faculty affairs, believes teamwork is essential. Dr. Taglialatela agrees: “The power output of a team far exceeds the power output of its individual components. The team is the winning model.” AE










Dr. Jose Barral

From Across UTMB’s Academic Enterprise

Dr. Mark Hellmich

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality awarded Timothy Reistetter, OTR, PhD, FAOTA, more than $2.3 million for his four-year project, “Development and Evaluation of Rehabilitation Service Areas.” Dr. Reistetter and his colleagues will work to develop a rehabilitation-specific tool that policymakers can use to evaluate post-acute care and the extent and cause of geographic variation in costs, quality and utilization. He serves as an associate professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy in the School of Health Professions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention awarded UTMB $10 million to establish the Western Gulf Center of Excellence for VectorBorne Diseases. The Center aims

Dr. Bernard Karnath

Dr. Alice Hill

Four UTMB faculty members received the 2016 Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award The UT System Board of Regents recognized four UTMB faculty members with the top UT System teaching prize: • Jose Barral, MD, PhD, professor and vice chair for operations, Neuroscience and Cell Biology and GSBS associate dean for academic affairs; • Mark Hellmich, PhD, professor, Surgery and Neuroscience and Cell Biology, and program director for the Human Pathophysiology and Translational Medicine Graduate Program; • Alice Hill, PhD, RN, FAAN, professor, associate dean for graduate programs, School of Nursing, and director, Nursing PhD Program; and • Bernard Karnath, MD, FACP, professor, Internal Medicine.



to protect public health in the region, the nation and beyond by helping stop the spread of diseases caused by Zika, West Nile and other viruses. Scott Weaver, PhD, MS, will lead the new center. He also serves as interim chair for the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, scientific director for the Galveston National Laboratory and director of UTMB’s Institute for Human Infections and Immunity.

James Le Duc, PhD, was recognized by the National Academy of Sciences with a lifetime appointment as a National Associate of the National Research Council. This honor is

given to those who have provided extraordinary service to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. While thousands volunteer time to committee activities each year, only a select few are singled out for their dedication and exemplary contributions

as National Associate. Dr. Le Duc was also recently invited by the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, Sylvia Burwell, to serve on the Board of Scientific Counselors for the Office of Infectious Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dr. Le Duc is a professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology and director of the Galveston National Laboratory. NIH’s National Institute on Drug Abuse awarded Gabrielle Rudenko, PhD, and Jia Zhou, PhD, from the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology and the Sealy Center for Structural Biology and Molecular Biophysics, and Eric J. Nestler, MD, PhD, Dr. Jia Zhou from Mt. Sinai Medical School, nearly $3.1 million for the five-year project, “Small Molecule Modulators of FosB Function.” The researchers will develop and optimize new chemical probes that target delta-FosB, a substance that accumulates in highly specific regions of the brain in response to cocaine or other drugs, in hopes of revealing novel strategies to treat drug addiction. Dr. Rudenko is an associate professor and Dr. Zhou is a professor. Carolyn A. Phillips, PhD, RN, received a 2016 Excellence in Nursing Award from the Good Samaritan Foundation. Dr. Phillips was selected

as a Gold Medal winner in the Nursing Education category. The award recognizes

nurses who are passionate and exemplify excellence in teaching, mentoring, leadership and service in the Houston community. Nurses are nominated by their peers. Dr. Phillips is an associate professor in the School of Nursing. Joan Nichols, PhD, was one of 10 Texas professors selected by the Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation as a 2016 Piper Professor. Dr. Nichols,

professor in the Departments of Internal Medicine and Microbiology and Immunology, associate dean for student affairs in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and associate director for research and operations for the Galveston National Laboratory, received a $5,000 grant. The Piper Professor Awards were introduced in 1958 and honor effective and dedicated professors from two- and four-year colleges and universities in Texas. Cornelius Elferink, PhD, professor in

the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology and director of UTMB’s Sealy Center for Environmental Health and Medicine, received an award totaling more than $2.2 million from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences for his five-year proposal, “Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor-Mediated Epigenetic Processes.” Maureen Wilder, DNP, RN, ANPBC, associate professor and master’s program director in the School of Nursing, Dr. Maureen Wilder was awarded nearly $600,000 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and

Services Administration. Dr. Wilder’s

project, “Adding Practice Partnerships for Learning to Advance Underserved Service Efficiency,” prepares adultgerontology primary care and family nurse practitioner graduates to work with underserved populations in the greater eastern Gulf Coast of Texas.

Frank Ward, EdD, MSA, PA,

was appointed associate professor and chair of the Physician Assistant Studies Department in the School of Dr. Frank Ward Health Professions. Dr. Ward joined UTMB from the University of Southern Indiana’s College of Nursing and Health Professions, where he served as chair of health services. His background includes clinical, administrative and educational experience: He practiced as a physician assistant, served as a hospital administrator and held leadership roles in higher education. Dr. Ward is also retired from the U.S. Navy and had numerous duty stations in the U.S. and abroad. Janice Endsley, PhD, MS, and Benjamin Gelman, MD, PhD, received more than $2.1 million for their proposal, “HIV-induced Defects in Pulmonary Macrophages Exacerbate Mycobacterium Tuberculosis Co-infection.” Drs. Endsley and Gelman will

work to identify new targets to intervene clinically to restore normal host immunity and reduce disease in millions of HIV-infected people. Dr. Endsley is an associate professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology and director of UTMB’s Flow Cytometry and Cell Sorting Facility. Dr. Gelman serves WINTER 2017



From Across UTMB’s Academic Enterprise

as a professor in the Departments of Pathology and Neuroscience and Cell Biology, director of the Texas NeuroAIDS Research Center and associate director of the Neuropathology Section of the Department of Pathology. The National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases awarded Alfredo Torres, PhD, MS, a total

of more than Dr. Alfredo Torres $1.9 million for his five-year project, “Glycoconjugate nanoparticle vaccines against Burkholderia infections.” Dr. Torres serves as professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology and director of faculty diversity for the School of Medicine. He serves on the editorial board of numerous publications including Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology, Scientific Reports, Infection and Immunity and Clinical and Vaccine Immunology. Nisha Jain Garg, PhD, MBA, was appointed chair of UTMB’s Academy of Research Mentors. Dr. Garg leads

a multidisciplinary team of more than 30 NIH-funded, experienced mentors in enhancing the culture of mentoring at UTMB. Professor in the Departments of Microbiology and Immunology and Pathology, Dr. Garg holds the Robert E. Shope, MD, Distinguished Chair in Global Health and serves as the associate research officer in basic sciences and associate director of the Institute for Human Infections and Immunity.



David Herndon, MD, Jesse H. Jones

Distinguished Chair in Burn Surgery and professor in the Departments of Surgery and Pediatrics, was awarded more than $1.1 million from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences for a renewal of his five-year proposal “Postdoctoral training in Trauma and Burns.” The program provides an educational environment to physicians and/or scientists interested in academic research in the areas of burns and trauma. Dr. Herndon’s numerous awards include the Tanner-Vandeput-Boswick Burn Prize from the International Burn Foundation of the United States, the Special Achievement Award from the American Burn Association, the Flance-Karl Award and the Medallion for Scientific Achievement from the American Surgical Association — one of the most prestigious awards in American surgery.

Donna Sollenberger, MA, is America’s Essential Hospitals chair-elect.

Sollenberger, executive vice president and Donna Sollenberger chief executive officer of UTMB’s Health System, now leads the nation’s top association and champion for hospitals and health systems dedicated to highquality care for all, including the most vulnerable. Sollenberger began serving as chair-elect of AEH’s board in July 2016 and will become board chair in July 2017. Nikos Vasilakis, PhD, MA, associate

professor in the Department of Pathology, received an award totaling $2.4 million his four-year proposal, “Mechanisms and Public Health Impact

of Sylvatic Dengue Virus Emergence in Borneo” from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. He is a member of UTMB’s Center for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases, Center for Tropical Diseases and Institute for Human Infections and Immunity. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality awarded Yong-Fang Kuo, PhD, MAS, MEd, professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health, more than $745,000 to conduct the first national population-based investigation of patients who receive their care from a team of both physicians and nurse practitioners in a “shared care” model. Although interdisciplinary team care has been shown to improve outcomes, especially for patients with complex medical conditions, how these models operate in diverse patient populations and clinical settings is unknown. The study will address this critical knowledge gap. Dr. Kuo holds the Don W. and Frances Powell Professorship in Aging Research. She also directs UTMB’s Office of Biostatistics. The National Institutes of Health awarded Jeff Temple, PhD, more than $3 million to evaluate a program designed to Dr. Jeff Temple help teenagers learn ways to resolve conflicts, deal with peer pressure and prevent violence. The study will evaluate a new

version of “Fourth R,” a program that helps reduce risky behaviors among high school students. The Fourth R integrates the promotion of healthy relationship skills and prevention of dating violence

into school curricula. Similar to teaching the traditional “Reading, (w)Riting and (a)Rithmetic,” the Fourth “R” (for Relationships) uses lessons, role-playing exercises and homework to build healthy relationship skills. Dr. Temple was recently elected to the Texas Psychological Association’s 2017 Board of Trustees. He is an associate professor and director of behavioral health and research in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Fernanda Laezza, MD, PhD, received $1.6 million from the National Institute of Mental Health. Her

five-year project is entitled, “Discovery of Chemical Probes for Psychiatric Disorders and Addiction.” Dr. Laezza is an associate professor in the Departments of Pharmacology and Toxicology and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. She is a member of UTMB’s Center for Environmental Toxicology and the Center for Addiction Research as well as a fellow of the Mitchell Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases. Susan D. McCammon, MD, MFA, received the 2016 Arnold P. Gold Foundation Award for Humanism in Medicine. Dr.

Dr. Susan McCammon McCammon was presented the award recognizing her practice of compassionate, patient-centered care at the 2016 Annual Meeting & OTO EXPO™ of the American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery Foundation in San Diego. Dr. McCammon is an associate professor in the Department of Otolaryngology and

co-director of the Center for Cancers of the Head and Neck. She has served as the medical director of the only nonprofit hospice care center in Galveston County for the last three years. Shao-Jun Tang, PhD, MS, received $2.6 million from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders for his five-year project, “Antiretroviral Therapy and Neuroinflammation in the CNS.”

Dr. Tang is an assoicate professor in the Department of Neuroscience and Cell Biology. He holds the William Willis Jr., MD, PhD, Distinguished Professorship in Neuroscience. He is an academic editor for PLOS ONE. Kenneth Ottenbacher, PhD, OTR, FACRM, was appointed by the director of the National Institutes of Dr. Kenneth Ottenbacher Health (NIH) to serve a five-year term as a member of the National Advisory Board on Medical Rehabilitation Research, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. The Board advises

the directors of NIH and the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research on issues relating to the Center’s medical rehabilitation research and training programs, as well as reviews recommendations for the coordination of research conducted and supported by NIH and other federal agencies. Dr. Ottenbacher is Russell Shearn Moody Distinguished Chair in Neurological Rehabilitation; director and professor of the Division of Rehabilitation Sciences; director of the Center for Recovery,

Physical Activity and Nutrition and associate director for the Sealy Center on Aging. Dr. Ottenbacher recently received the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine’s 2016 Gold Key Award, established to honor members of the medical and allied professions who have rendered extraordinary service to the cause of rehabilitation Lillian Lockhart, MD, and Ben G. Raimer, MD, FAAP, were honored at the 2016 meeting of the Texas Pediatric Society (TPS). Dr. Lockhart,

professor in the Department of Pediatrics, received the Charles W. Daeschner, Jr., MD, Lifetime Achievement Award, the highest TPS award, which recognizes contributions to the health and well-being of children and also to the mentoring of students of pediatrics. Dr. Lockhart has served at UTMB for more than 55 years. Dr. Raimer, professor in the Departments of Pediatrics, Family Medicine, and Preventive Medicine and Community Health, received the Sidney R. Kaliski Award of Merit, recognizing a member who has served as an advocate for children’s health and made a substantial contribution to the TPS. In his role as senior vice president for health policy and legislative affairs, Dr. Raimer works to impact policy relevant to children. Dr. Raimer is inaugural director of UTMB’s new Coordinating Center for Global Health Opportunities and Initiatives. Courtney Townsend Jr., MD, is the 97th president of the American College of Surgeons, the largest

organization of surgeons in the world. Dr. Townsend is professor in the Department of Surgery and holds the Robertson-Poth Distinguished Chair in General Surgery. He serves as interim chair for UTMB’s Institute for the Medical Humanities. WINTER 2017



From Across UTMB’s Academic Enterprise

UTMB faculty members recently received three grants totaling more than $8.2 million from the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT). James Goodwin, MD,

professor in the Department of Internal Medicine and UTMB’s George and Cynthia Mitchell Distinguished Chair in Geriatric Dr. James Goodwin Medicine, is principal investigator of a $6 million grant, “Comparative Effectiveness Research on Cancer in Texas (CERCIT) 2.0.” CERCIT is a multidisciplinary consortium of investigators engaging in outcomes and comparative effectiveness research. Dr. Goodwin and his colleagues will seek to identify which tests and treatments work best for patients.

Abbey Berenson, MD, PhD, received nearly $1.5 million for her project aimed at increasing the number of women who receive a full series of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine. The HPV vaccine can prevent various kinds of cancer, including cervical and throat cancer. Dr. Berenson and her colleagues will provide the first dose of the vaccine to women who are 26 years old or Dr. Abbey Berenson younger before they go home with their newborn and follow-up HPV vaccine shots at newborn checkups or other medical appointments. This allows new moms to get vaccinated without adding appointments to their busy schedules. Dr. Berenson is the director for Interdisciplinary Research in

Women’s Health and professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Ana Rodriguez, MD, MPH, assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Dr. Ana Rodriguez Gynecology, is the lead investigator on a third project, which received nearly $750,000 for a schoolbased HPV vaccination program in the lower Rio Grande Valley. To date, CPRIT has awarded 1,114 grants totaling more than $1.76 billion. The agency was launched after Texas voters overwhelmingly approved a 2007 constitutional amendment committing $3 billion to the fight against cancer. CPRIT’s grants support prevention services for some of the most vulnerable populations in Texas.

Modernizing Medical Education: The Transformation in Medical Education Initiative The first eight students chosen to participate in the innovative Transformation in Medical Education (TIME) initiative — a six- to seven-year pathway to medicine — started medical school at UTMB in 2016 after completing three years of undergraduate training. TIME is a collaboration between UTMB and the health science undergraduate programs at the University of Texas-El Paso and the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley. Physician education hasn’t changed a great deal in 100 years — but medicine has. The past century has seen remarkable advances in biomedical science and increasingly complex physician roles require new skills and knowledge. The premedical and medical school phases of physician education are poorly coordinated, high educational debt affects physician diversity and specialty choice, and the length of time in school contributes to educational debt. Medical education is in need of modernization. The TIME curriculum at UTMB includes a clinical skills curriculum typically provided during medical school to students enrolled in an undergraduate premedical program as well as competency-based assessment of progress toward the Entrustable Professional Activities (EPAs) prior to and during medical school. In addition to relevant basic and clinical sciences, this model incorporates four major elements. 1. Pre-health professions program: Students work interprofessionally to learn traditional, non-traditional and clinical subjects and demonstrate teamwork and professionalism. 2. Competency-based education: Student advancement and degree completion is based upon demonstration of abilities rather than duration of education. 3. Professional identity formation: Personal and professional maturation — an essential complement to competency-based education — is achieved through intentional experiences, reflection and mentoring. 4. Non-traditional fields of study: Education important to future physicians includes medically related and non-medical subjects that have not traditionally been emphasized. AE 32


Making an Impact M

ore than 750 supporters attended UTMB’s Milestones Gala: 125 years - The Best is Yet to Come on May 21. The black-tie fundraiser at Moody Gardens Convention Center brought together friends of UTMB to honor the chancellor of The University of Texas System, William H. McRaven, and celebrate the institution’s past, present and future. Pat and Fred Burns, Barbara Gibbs, MD and David Gibbs and B. J. and Buddy Herz served as chairs for the event, which raised more than $3.7 million and created 19 new scholarship and faculty member endowments. This generous support will help UTMB recruit and retain some of the brightest minds in academic health care. The gala’s highlight was an interview of Chancellor McRaven by correspondent Stone Phillips, former co-anchor of the award-winning TV news magazine Dateline NBC. Chancellor McRaven, a retired U.S. Navy four-star admiral, oversees 14

125th Anniversary Gala Raises More Than $3.7 Million and Creates 19 New Endowments

From left: Stone Phillips and Chancellor William H. McRaven

institutions encompassing 217,000 students, 20,000 faculty members and more than 70,000 health care professionals, researchers, and staff. Prior to becoming chancellor in 2015, McRaven was the

commander of U.S. Special Operations Command during which time he led a force of 69,000 men and women and was responsible for conducting counter-terrorism operations worldwide. AE

Celebrating the Philanthropic Legacy of The Sealy & Smith Foundation, Moody Foundation, Harris & Eliza Kempner Fund and The Cynthia & George Mitchell Foundation WINTER 2017


NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION U.S. Postage PAID North Houston, TX PERMIT NO. 27600 The University of Texas Medical Branch Office of the Provost 301 University Blvd. Galveston, Texas 77555

A mouse that shows symptoms of a disease similar to Parkinson’s has elevated toxic tau (green) as well as cells that signify inflammation called astrocytes (red). To read more about research by UTMB scientists on degenerative neurological diseases, see our story on Page 26.


UTMB Academic Enterprise Magazine Winter 2017  

UTMB Academic Enterprise Magazine Winter 2017

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