Pinn Hall Dedication: What a Great Day!

Before I arrived at UVA, a colleague of mine at the National Institutes of Health told me, “When you get to Virginia, you have to meet Vivian Pinn.” It was great advice. I’ve become friends with Dr. Pinn over the past two years and I’ll repeat that advice to you: If you have an opportunity to meet Dr. Pinn — jump at the chance. She is an outstanding scientist and an even better person.

There are many reasons I am excited to be here at UVA. But meeting Dr. Pinn and honoring her legacy by renaming a building in her honor, a building that will be dedicated to advancing science for the betterment of mankind is yet another reason.

We will soon be renovating Pinn Hall to create state-of-the-art research space to support today’s most talented and ambitious scientific leaders. This facility will incorporate the latest technologies to encourage productivity and scientific partnership among interdisciplinary teams. By using open and flexible lab modules and shared equipment, this renovation will increase our space efficiency by 25%. Ultimately, this promotes team science, which is what we need to stay competitive with other elite schools of medicine.

I recommend watching the below 40-minute video from the Sept. 13 dedication ceremony. Her accomplishments and perseverance are truly commendable and worthy of your time. Included are timestamps for ease of use.

  • 00:00 – 05:40 | Teresa Sullivan, President, University of Virginia
  • 05:50 – 09:56 | Frank “Rusty” Conner III, Rector, UVA Board of Visitors
  • 10:15 – 14:01 | Dr. L.D. Britt, UVA Board of Visitors
  • 14:07 – 15:05 | Dr. David Wilkes, Dean, UVA School of Medicine
  • 15:12 – 20:12 | Video: Dr. Francis Collins, Director, National Institutes of Health
  • 20:21 – 25:53 | Dr. David Wilkes, Dean, UVA School of Medicine
  • 26:08 – 40:40 | Dr. Vivian Pinn, Senior Scientist Emerita, NIH Fogarty International Center

Additionally, during Dr. Pinn’s visit to UVA, she participated in the Medical Center Hour entitled “Assuring Fair Access for All.” You can view that video here.

She is an inspiring speaker and I encourage you to take time to watch the video.

David S. Wilkes, MD
Dean, UVA School of Medicine
James Carroll Flippin Professor of Medical Science


P&T: SOM Promotes as Many Women as Men

This year, for the first time, the School of Medicine promoted as many women as men to the rank of full professor. This is not just important in our SOM, but for women across the country — and how we got here is a story worth telling.

Nationally, women tend to apply for advancement to full professor at a lower rate and on a longer timeline than their male colleagues. As of 2015, representation of women at the rank of full professor had remained static in our SOM for at least a decade at UVA, hovering around 50 professors, or 16 percent of all full professors. While we had the data, we did not know why — so, a few years ago, we started looking into this. We had conversations about barriers and obstacles, conducted qualitative studies, and formed focus groups with those who had (and had not yet) made the choice to advance.

It is wonderful to be able to report that during this process many more women decided to seek promotion to full professor. In addition, more women were hired at that rank. Currently, 68 women in the School of Medicine are at the rank of full professor. That’s up from 48 just two years ago and represents a 42 percent increase! This is a significant stride toward equity and justly rewarding our faculty for their hard work and dedication to the school.

Here is what a few of them had to say, in their own words:

Carol Manning, PhD
Vice Chair for Faculty Development, Director Memory Disorders Clinic, Professor of Neurology
I’m co-chair of the School of Medicine Committee on Women, and we are doing research to understand why women get caught at the associate level. In participating in this research, I realized that that’s where I was and it was important for me to move forward.

In the Committee on Women research, we’ve heard that women who advance have had mentors who said, “Not only can you do this, but you need to do this. You are ready.” I didn’t feel the need until I became uncomfortable with where I was, and I put my work forward to the departmental P&T committee and they told me I was ready and that I absolutely should do it. That push was what I needed.

Being a full professor means a lot more than I it thought it would. It feels really good; that I’m recognized for my work and accomplishments, that I’m a player at the table, that I’m a role model for other women in the School of Medicine. I feel like I’m in position where I can encourage other associate professors to do this, and can show junior faculty that women can — and should — be full professors.

Kathie L. Hullfish, MD
Professor, Departments OB/GYN and Urology; Associate Chief Medical Officer, Peri-operative Services
I decided to go up this past year because of several factors. First, I have sustained investigative productivity with peer-reviewed publications and presentations in my clinical field of excellence. Second, I maintain a national reputation. Third, I have documented educational and clinical excellence in the subspecialty that I was charged to create and grow here at UVA. Finally, I wanted my administrative and executive leadership service as the Associate Chief Medical Officer and Physician Service Line Lead for Periop to be judged and valued by my institutional peers.

Before starting the process, I had vetted the idea to pursue promotion with several national leaders and mentors who strongly encouraged me to apply. To me, being a full professor means that the breadth and depth of my contributions locally, regionally, and nationally are fully recognized and appreciated by the institution. 

Wendy Novicoff, PhD
Department of Public Health Sciences and Orthopaedic Surgery

I had stayed on schedule from associate to full professor, and I didn’t realize how unusual this was, because that was always part of my plan. In talking to my colleagues, it became clear that this was not the experience for many people, especially women.   

 When I was thinking about applying to become a full professor, I spoke with both of my chairs and to Dr. Pollart, and they all said, “It’s time.” I broached the idea with them and they were very supportive. While my situation is different, I do know a lot of people in this department and many departments, both male and female, who get to the associate professor-level, and say, “I’m not going to go any further.” I’ve been incredibly lucky to find great colleagues, and I have been able to be very productive in terms of presentations and publications.

I can’t even describe the great feeling of being able to tell people I’m a full professor. Especially around here, people know what that means. This is not something that is just handed to you – I earned it through a lot of hard work and dedication. Being the first female full professor in orthopaedic surgery in the history of this institution — I find that amazing. 

One of the concerns people have voiced, because so many women were promoted in this round, was that the criteria were changed. I know they were not. There was a huge push to help women at our school apply for advancement, and it worked. But I know the bar was not lowered. I know the women who were promoted this year, and we all absolutely deserved it.

Congratulations to all who were promoted this year. Encouraging women to apply for promotion is something the Office of Faculty Affairs and Development has been focusing on, and it is incredibly gratifying to see progress. Let’s make sure we keep an eye on the academic progress of all of our faculty members and assure each has the opportunity to achieve the richly deserved recognition for their contributions and excellence.

Susan M. Pollart, MD, MS
Ruth E. Murdaugh Professor of Family Medicine
Senior Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs and Faculty Development

A Year in Review

Dean David Wilkes

The other day while my wife and I were having morning coffee, we realized that I’m starting my third year as dean of the School of Medicine! We talked about how quickly the first two years have passed, how much we love Charlottesville, and how happy I am at UVA — and what an incredible honor it is to serve as your dean.

In some respects, my role is like that of an orchestra conductor because I’m not the one actually making the music. I only facilitate and fully recognize that you are the ones doing the real work.

When we’re focused on the urgent tasks of each day, it’s easy to forget where we’ve been and what we’ve done. We’ve done a lot! This letter mentions only a few highlights. Because we have so many accomplishments to celebrate, I’ve added this link where you can see what we’ve achieved in specific areas.

UVA moved from 40 to 36 in the NIH rankings of schools of medicine, as reported by the Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research! Congratulations to all of you who worked hard on writing grants and preparing the submissions! Our FY17 extramural funding was $221 million … our highest level ever, excluding ARRA. This is remarkable growth from $162 million in FY14 and is truly a cause for celebration. The data also show that we are diversifying our research portfolio to spread risk and to create opportunity for further success. Related to this, we have just contracted with The Conafay Group to help us improve our chances of success with funding from the Department of Defense and related federal agencies.

UVA and Inova executed an academic affiliation agreement to establish the Genomics and Bioinformatics Research Institute (GBRI) on the former Exxon campus in Fairfax. We’re just in the early stages of setting this up and it will be a game changer. The affiliation agreement also establishes the UVA School of Medicine — Inova Campus where 72 of our students will complete their 3rd and 4th years in a high-volume, urban environment to begin in 2021. The School of Medicine has taken a lead position in what we anticipate to be a more broad expansion of UVA into northern Virginia.

In September 2016 we renamed Jordan Hall to Pinn Hall, and recently we held the dedication ceremony. A group of SOM leaders identified UVA alumna Dr. Vivian Pinn as the ideal choice for representing excellence in clinical care, research, scholarship, and the character and personal qualities we value. Phased renovations on Pinn Hall have begun. In addition to providing modern, open, flexible laboratories, Pinn Hall will house a Nobel Atrium to honor the Nobel laureates who did their pioneering work at UVA — thus highlighting our future by recognizing stars who represent what is best about us.

We are starting our third year of a tuition freeze. Nationally, medical students are completing their programs with staggering levels of debt. Thanks to the support of our alumni and the scholarship programs they fund, our students graduate with an average debt level that is much lower than the national average. Freezing tuition, while helping to reduce student debt, results from sound fiscal stewardship at the School of Medicine.

For the second year in a row, the University of Virginia Medical Center was recognized as the number one hospital in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Six specialties (Cancer, Ear, Nose & Throat, Orthopedics, Urology, Diabetes & Endocrinology, and Cardiology & Heart Surgery) were ranked in the top 50. And Gastroenterology & GI Surgery, Nephrology, Neurology & Neurosurgery, and Pulmonology were called out as being “high performing” specialties. Congratulations to our caregivers, researchers, and staff for this recognition of your work!

Our accrediting agency, the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, is monitoring our success in increasing diversity among our faculty. While our URM faculty increased from 4.8% to 5.3% we still have much work left to achieve the AAMC 50th percentile of 6.7%.  Now each department has a diversity plan that maps out a strategy and tactics to increase diversity among faculty and trainees.

I also want to share some information that makes a strong statement about our organization. As we continue to move as one Health System, it’s important to note that our partners in the Medical Center contributed $70.1 million in FY17 to the SOM for academic support. This is a significant and tangible statement of our partnership and of the shared trust between the individual entities of the Health System.

As I said, these are just some of the highlights. Clearly, we — that’s all of you! — have been doing a lot and accomplishing great things.

The events of August 11-12 created a lot of anxiety and uncertainty. We can get mired in the confusion or we can recognize something crucial — we are defined by who we are and what our values are, and not by the events of August. The importance of our work hasn’t changed. Let’s focus on our mission and our excellence. When someone asks where you’re from, you can stand a little taller and say, “I’m from the University of Virginia. I’m from Charlottesville.” And say it with pride, because you know who you are.

I’m very excited about what we are going to do together in the coming years. Although I’ve shared my priorities with you before, this is a good time to share them again.

  • Execute the development of the UVA-Inova Genomics Institute.
  • Operationalize the regional medical school campus for UVA 3rd and 4th year medical students at Inova.
  • Continue an aggressive investment in research and faculty recruitment.
  • Increase our NIH portfolio to $150 million by 2020.

This will take a lot of heavy lifting, but based on what we’ve already accomplished, I know we can do it. Every day we have the opportunity to do our best and every day I see the results of our efforts. My thanks to each one of you.

David S. Wilkes, MD
Dean, UVA School of Medicine
James Carroll Flippin Professor of Medical Science

See all accomplishments at

Preparing Students Better Through Direct Observation

This summer, the School of Medicine began a pilot program to use assessment of entrustable professional activities (EPA) to measure the competencies of medical students and their readiness to perform patient care tasks. The EPAs are the tasks a resident should be able to perform from day one of their training; activities such as taking a patient history, documenting an encounter, performing basic procedures (e.g., starting an IV), collaborating as part of an interprofessional team, and interpreting lab values.

A lot of what we’ve done in clinical education is based on presumptive trust. Performing an EPA assessment involves direct observation to collect data about a student’s abilities. Teachers provide feedback to students about their strengths and about skills they need to develop further and the learners then use this information to improve. For teachers, these data allow trust to be grounded in fact and enables them to design individual learning experiences for students. The School of Medicine also will be able to use the information from assessments to target curricular innovation for all students.

The pilot has been a positive experience for both learners and teachers. Here’s what some of those involved have to say about it:

Joshua Eby, MD
Assistant Professor Professor of Medicine

“This was an opportunity to help students do better with histories and physical exams and a nice venue to allow attendings to give honest feedback without feeling like it’s affecting a student’s grades. Because of this, it allows for a more open discussion with constructive criticism on how a student is performing.”

Sarah Dillon
School of Medicine, Class of 2019

“I may have been the first or one of the first to do an EPA. I liked it because it formalized a process that was already being done. I think that physicians are good at giving feedback to students, but this ensured that regular feedback was happening. It was helpful to have it happen early on in the rotation, so that I could get advice on what to work on. I did my EPA with Dr. Eby, who gave me great advice on history taking and physical exam skills. One of the big takeaways I had was how he emphasized the importance of the physical exam — taking my time and developing my own routine with doing an exam, head to toe, and being very thorough.”

Brian Uthlaut, MD
Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine
Program Director, Internal Medicine Residency Program

“One success so far has been in organizing a large number of our general medicine inpatient teaching faculty to come together for faculty development on EPA-based assessment. This was the largest workplace based assessment activity that I’ve been a part of at UVA. It was a good step for us, as we grow in terms of bedside observation, skills, and consistent observation of our medical students. I look forward to a greater environment for bedside observation for all of our learners — from medical students to residents to fellows. I think that the faculty development that we’ve started — and increasing comfort level with this — is an important step in achieving more frequent and higher quality bedside observation.

 As we get the faculty up to speed, I’ve heard positive feedback from faculty about the quality of the time they’ve been able to spend with our students at the bedside … we are off to a good start and this is really a very common-sense way to train our students with higher reliability.”

Mitch Rosner, MD
Chair, Department of Medicine
“It is critical to have methods to critically evaluate the skills of our students in real-world situations. We need to ensure that our students are as prepared as possible to enter residency and this program goes a long way in achieving this goal. It is gratifying to see UVA lead the way nationally in this program.”

In the next phase of the pilot, students, faculty and residents from the departments of pediatrics and Ob/Gyn will engage in EPA-based assessments.

Many thanks to the leadership team (Drs. Mitch Rosner, Gerald Donowitz, Molly Hughes, Alex Millard, and Brian Uthlaut), the faculty and the residents from the department of medicine for supporting this initiative and for their commitment to our students and the educational mission.

R.J. Canterbury, MD, MS, DLFAPA
Wilford W. Spradlin Professor
Senior Associate Dean for Education

Highlights: September MAC Meeting

Opening Comments from the Dean

  • Dean Wilkes recognized some noteworthy accomplishments that impact the entire Health System.
    • US News & World Report identified UVA as the number 1 hospital in Virginia for the second year in a row. Along with this, six specialties were included in the Top 50: Cancer (30); Ear, Nose & Throat (32); Orthopedics (33); Urology (35); Diabetes & Endocrinology (44); and Cardiology & Heart Surgery (50). Also, Gastroenterology & GI Surgery, Nephrology, Neurology & Neurosurgery, and Pulmonology were identified as “Top Performers.”
    • UVA has achieved Comprehensive Stroke Center status, one of only three institutions in Virginia to have earned this status.
    • The SOM saw a 42% increase in the number of women professors over two years. For the first time, the SOM is at the national average for women professors.
  • Dean Wilkes welcomed three new department chairs:
    • Martha A. Zeiger, MD – Surgery
    • Stephen S. Park, MD – Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery
    • Susan M. Pollart, MD – Family Medicine (Interim)
  • On the occasion of his second anniversary at UVA, Dean Wilkes reviewed his priorities:
    • Execute development of the Inova/UVA Genomics Institute.
    • Develop the regional medical school campus at Inova for 3rd and 4th year medical students.
    • Continue aggressive investment in research and faculty recruitment.
    • Increase our NIH portfolio to $150 million by 2020.

Health System Financial Overview
Douglas Lischke, Chief Accounting Officer

Mr. Lischke provided an unaudited review of the FY17 consolidated Health System financials.

Draft Policy: Standards for Laboratory and Computational Space Use
Margaret A. Shupnik, PhD

Dr. Shupnik invited comments and feedback regarding this policy, which was distributed to chairs and directors in advance of the meeting. She thanked the Research Space Committee (composed of David Brautigan, PhD; Douglas DeSimone, PhD; Myla Goldman, MD; Russ Manley; Wladek Minor, PhD; James Nataro, MD, PhD, MBA; and Stephen Rich, PhD) for their year-long efforts developing the draft policy.

The committee, which is advisory to the dean, will oversee space reassignment and requests for additional space. Initially the committee is reviewing laboratory and computational space with metrics for clinical space to be developed later.

The SOM’s facilities team will conduct periodic assessments. It is recognized that:

  • space allocations are not permanent;
  • chairs and center directors are responsible for stewardship and will manage space in alignment with the policy; they will manage the space as a whole, including strategic decisions and decisions regarding individual assignments;
  • space reallocation agreements between units require dean’s office approval; and
  • vacant space will be reassigned.

Based on an external engineering report, the committee agreed on the following standards:

  • Grade A space – $500/SF
  • Grade B space – $400/SF
  • Grade C space – $300/SF

(Definitions of graded space have been sent to chairs, directors, and administrators and will be posted on the Office for Research website after the policy has been approved.)

A Research Investigator within a team of 6 FTEs and meeting the standards will be assigned approximately 1,270 SF lab space.

The policy will be phased in according to the quality of space. All space is subject to the defined metrics, which are based on a 3-year rolling average. Departments verify their space annually.

Summary statement – August 11-12 events

Dean David S. Wilkes

Dean Wilkes observed that some consider Charlottesville has been “branded” based on the August events. He reminded everyone that we will not be defined by external events that we have no control over, and that we should be proud of who we are and the excellent results of our work.

We Are Not Alone

[9/18/17 Update: OrlandoHealth expresses its support, too! Scroll down to the bottom of this page to see the new banner image.]

Since the events of August 11 and 12, I have experienced an incredible churn of emotions. Anger and confusion. Sadness and grief. But eventually, I rediscovered hope. It’s important to remember that we are not alone in battling hate and intolerance. My hope was bolstered by the many notes of encouragement and support in recent weeks. I wanted to share two of the most visible gestures of kindness.

Penn State College of Medicine students sent a large, signed placard. It reads:

“We the students of Penn State College of Medicine want to convey our sincerest support during these troubling times. It saddens us to hear that such hateful acts are disturbing your community. Please know that these recent events have impacted us all and that we stand with you as allies. We trust that through love and unity, your city and our nation will come together in collaboration and cooperation to overcome these hardships.

If you want to see it for yourself, it is currently on display in the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library lobby.

Pam Cipriano, PhD, RN, President of American Nurses Association (ANA), delivered a banner on behalf of the ANA national staff to UVAHS staff in honor of our service during the events of Aug.12. Check the images below to read their messages of kindness and support.

These are wonderful reminders that we are not alone. Charlottesville is a small town, yes, but our friends are plentiful, vocal, and they stand with us. In this way, our Grounds extend much farther than the borders of the University.

9/18/17 Update: This just arrived via email. More autographed support from our colleagues at OrlandoHealth | Orlando Regional Medical Center. Thank you, Florida!

R.J. Canterbury, MD, MS, DLFAPA
Wilford W. Spradlin Professor
Senior Associate Dean for Education

Pan-University Institutes Offer Opportunity for Collaboration

It seems to me that great advances in science and research are made when experts from different disciplines — who have been thinking about only one aspect of a problem — gather and collaborate. This is when we see real needle movement on a given challenge. Personally, I’ve had the most fun in my career when I’ve been involved with such collaborations and conversations.

Over the past few years, the University of Virginia has been creating opportunities for faculty with the pan-University institutes. The first four of such entities are the Data Science Institute, the UVA Brain Institute, the Global Infectious Diseases Institute, and the Environmental Resilience Institute.

Two of the most recent institutes — the UVA Brain and Global Infectious Diseases institutes — have had particularly wide participation by School of Medicine faculty. These two institutes have clear and inclusive visions that span many schools and they are wonderful opportunities for School of Medicine faculty.

I invite you to contact the directors — Jaideep Kapur, MBBS, PhD, for UVA Brain, and Alison Criss, PhD, for Global Infectious Diseases — and participate. Both institutes will have opportunities for faculty and trainees, and for linking people in different departments, schools, and disciplines. I hope you will take full advantage of these two exciting initiatives.

Alison Criss, PhD

Global Infectious Diseases Institute
The Global Infectious Diseases Institute’s goal is to catalyze new transdisciplinary research that reaches across Grounds to bring together faculty of varying disciplines, all directed toward combating the most vexing global infectious diseases challenges. This institute involves eight schools across Grounds and over 100 faculty, many of whom are from the School of Medicine. As it is trying to be inclusive — to reach as many experts in this arena as possible — participation is not limited. Anyone can be a member.

In the beginning, the Global Infectious Diseases Institute will be focusing on three subject areas: pandemics, antimicrobial resistance, and diarrheal diseases in children. These are some of the most pressing infectious diseases challenges worldwide. They are also areas where we feel UVA has expertise and in which we can make an immediate difference on an international stage.

This institute’s research will support a range of areas from the fundamental mechanisms by which pathogens of global infectious diseases of significance cause disease, to new interventional approaches (treatments, educational approaches, and treatment policies), to deploying those interventions, to policy.

The Global Infectious Diseases Institute will be disbursing seed funding to bring together research groups to address these critical infectious diseases challenges. These seed grants will position multidisciplinary teams to gather preliminary data that can then be applied to grant or foundation applications to really grow the research enterprise. This institute will be the catalyst — the matchmaker — in that regard.

The institute has also been sponsoring activities across Grounds to begin the conversation among faculty who may not have worked together, so that we may form partnerships between and among the schools. We’re hoping that these partnerships will bear fruit in the form of exciting research ventures. Though this is a brand-new institute, it has already been hosting monthly lunches on topics that are directly related to pandemics, antimicrobial resistance, and diarrheal diseases in children. In May, the institute held a symposium, open to the UVA community, that also addressed these issues. Activities such as these will continue in the coming months and years.

It’s amazing how many UVA faculty have international research partners. Did you know that UVA is partnered with existing research ventures at more than 100 sites around the world? The Global Infectious Diseases Institute will help support these relationships, as well as nucleate research opportunities with these international partners. One of the activities the institute aims to nurture is an international research exchange. This would take the form of a mini-sabbatical for the UVA faculty member and the international partner to spend a short amount of time at each other’s institutions to launch a collaborative project. The institute will also be supporting trainees at all levels, providing them with opportunities to position them for their next career step. (Details to come.)

It’s exciting to see this institute come to fruition. School of Medicine and Health System leadership have been supportive of the Global Infectious Diseases Institute since its inception. It is the culmination of 18 months of work by UVA faculty across Grounds. This was an incredible grass-roots initiative. Faculty came up with the idea and gathered colleagues with similar interests. They realized the power they could wield, as a group, when they worked together in a way they had not done before.

For more information, please check out the website. To get involved, contact Dr. Criss.

Jaideep Kapur, MBBS, PhD

UVA Brain
UVA Brain’s mission is to develop the network of collaborating labs and individuals in brain research across Grounds. This ranges from clinicians to engineers to basic scientists to data scientists — all working together on big problems in neuroscience that would benefit society.

UVA Brain wants to take research from the bench to bedside, choosing problems that impact the care of patients and improve patient outcomes, using solutions derived from fundamental research. We are optimistic about these efforts, because UVA has already done it in the past with efforts like focused ultrasound. Less than eight years ago focused ultrasound was a concept: now we have two clinical trials. Further evidence of this bench-to-bedside success can be found in our major national clinical trials in stroke and epilepsy.

UVA Brain is building collaborations across Grounds by offering seed grants aimed at investigating transformative research and ideas. UVA Brain awarded seven grants last year and intends to repeat that this year. It also awarded six presidential fellowships for graduate students who work between two labs — again, emphasizing that collaborative research between labs.

An idea UVA Brain will explore in the future is to develop what are called “studios” at other institutions. When a clinical investigator has a hypothesis, grant, or project to develop, we will bring together experts in in multiple areas — people who know how to do clinical trial design, biostatisticians, faculty with expertise in a particular clinical area, imaging experts — whatever knowledge is needed to move the project forward. This is something that has been done successfully at Vanderbilt, Emory, and Johns Hopkins.

Since its creation, UVA Brain has helped to enhance the University’s imaging infrastructure. UVA has upgraded to a 3D prisma MRI for brain research, installed a research PET scanner, and recruited a radiochemist to synthesize radiochemicals for PET scanning — with all of these new facilities, we can employ a novel set of strategies to perform medical diagnostic research in the brain. In the future, UVA Brain will also be supporting seed-grant funding with PET scanning. (Keep an eye out for details on this.)

UVA Brain has plans to expand the neuroscience graduate program from six to 12 admissions per a year over the next three years. It is also revamping the neuroscience PhD program and would like to increase the size of neuro-engineering by partnering with Frederick Epstein, PhD, Professor and Chair of Biomedical Engineering, and the School of Engineering and Applied Science. UVA Brain is also trying to break existing boundaries, crossing over to data science and engineering, and engage in areas beyond focused ultrasound and epilepsy to areas like traumatic brain injuries, sensory systems, neurodegenerative disorders, and integrative neurosciences.

Stay tuned for more details on the upcoming neuroscience retreat. Calls for proposals have been sent out and proposals are due Sept. 15.

Faculty interested in collaborating with colleagues in UVA Brain should apply for seed grants. You can also contact Diane Payne, Senior Medical Office Coordinator, to join the UVA Brain listserv.

Greater Than the Sum of Our Parts
These are important initiatives and I am excited that School of Medicine faculty have the opportunity to participate. With these institutes, we are taking advantage of strengths that have been building here at the University — strengths built by you! In connecting faculty and crossing disciplines, we will together create discovery greater than any single department or school could on its own. It’s wonderful to have the University dedicate resources to these institutes for the advancement of science and, ultimately, to better the lives of our patients.


Margaret A. Shupnik, PhD
Gerald D. Aurbach Professor of Endocrinology
Professor of Medicine
Senior Associate Dean for Research

THRIV Hits Milestone with Inaugural Class of Scholars

In January 2018, the University of Virginia will be applying for a Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA), which will allow us to join a national network of 60+ medical research institutions working together to improve the translational research process to get more treatments to more patients more quickly. The network collaborates locally and regionally to catalyze innovation in training, research tools, and processes. (We wrote about it last February, which you can read here.)

Before we apply for the CTSA, we need to demonstrate that we already have a thriving clinical/translational research program across Grounds that facilitates activity across the Commonwealth. As such, we are developing the Translational Health Research Institute of Virginia (THRIV), a pan-University effort. One of THRIV’s major milestones is to create a mentored career-development award, a program that will train small groups of junior faculty seeking a clinical and translational research career. The inaugural class — which includes faculty from the Schools of Medicine, Nursing, and Engineering and Applied Sciences — was announced in May and met for the first time just a few weeks ago. The awardees, projects, and mentors include:

  • Jessica Keim-Malpass, PhD, RN, Assistant Professor, Department of Acute and Specialty Care, School of Nursing
    Research Proposal: A pragmatic clinical trial evaluating impact of continuous predictive monitoring on nurse-driven outcomes in a dynamic intensive care setting (Primary mentor: J. Randall Moorman, MD)


  • Kyle J. Lampe, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
    Research Proposal: Bioengineered Hydrogels to Facilitate 3D Neural Stem Cell Survival and Growth in a Stroke Environment (Primary mentor: Bradford B. Worrall, MD, MSc)


  • Kathleen McManus, MD, MS, Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, School of Medicine
    Research Proposal:  Affordable Care Act’s effects on persons living with HIV (PLWH) in Virginia (Primary mentor: Rebecca Dillingham, MD, MPH)


  • Brynne Sullivan, MD, Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics, School of Medicine
    Research Proposal: Pulse Oximetry Cardiorespiratory Scores to Predict Adverse Events and Outcomes in Premature Infants (Primary mentor: J. Randall Moorman, MD)


  • Dustin Walters, MD, Assistant Professor, Department of Surgery, School of Medicine
    Research Proposal: The Role of CD8+ T Cell Mediated Tolerance in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (Primary mentor: Sasha Krupnick, MD)

Every week, the scholars will come to the THRIV offices to participate in a curriculum which includes experiential learning, research methods instruction, mentored translational experiences, training in data sciences, as well as personal/professional development and off-Grounds site visits. The program started July 1 and the awardees will receive funding from the School of Medicine Dean’s Office for two years.

Thank you to the mentors for participating in the growth and development of colleagues and to the department chairs for providing protected time for the scholars to pursue these research projects and goals.

Please join me in congratulating the inaugural THRIV scholars class!

Margaret A. Shupnik, PhD
Gerald D. Aurbach Professor of Endocrinology
Professor of Medicine
Senior Associate Dean for Research

(l-r) Dustin Walters, MD; Jessica Keim-Malpass, PhD, RN; Karen Johnston, MD; Kathleen McManus, MD, MS; Brynne Sullivan, MD; Kyle J. Lampe, PhD; and Sandra Burks, RN.

New Hire: Director of Research Development

David Driscoll, PhD

On August 21, the School of Medicine will be welcoming David Driscoll, PhD, as Director of Research Development, and a key member of the UVA ResearchNET team led by the VPR Office and sponsored by the Strategic Investment Fund.

This is a new and important role. As Director of Research Development, Dr. Driscoll will support investigators by creating links among the research-intensive schools here at the University of Virginia, fostering collaboration within the School of Medicine and among the other schools, working to increase funded interdisciplinary projects, and lending support to more complex projects.

Dr. Driscoll will be examining untapped organizations and agencies for potential funding sources. He will be our advocate at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), an entity from which the SOM receives a large portion of its research funding. He will work with his counterparts in the College of Arts & Sciences and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences to identify potential collaborations. This will be a bi-directional arrangement, in that Dr. Driscoll will both market our faculty to funding agencies and find new funding opportunities where faculty can apply. He will help tailor proposals to maximize their chance of success. I also see his efforts interlocking well with the Strategic Hiring Initiative (SHI), our Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA), and cross-disciplinary research efforts.

Dr. Driscoll comes to us from the University of Alaska where he was the Director and Associate Professor of Public Health at the Institute for Circumpolar Health Studies. Previously, he was Associate Dean for Research at the University of Alaska’s College of Health and, before that, the Senior Public Health Scientist in the Health Communication Program at RTI International in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. Dr. Driscoll received a Master of Public Health degree with a concentration in epidemiology from the College of Public Health at the University of South Florida and a Doctor of Medical Anthropology degree with a specialization in social marketing from the University of South Florida.

As the co-investigator on the IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) — a 5-year, NIH-funded project — he is looking to strengthen and expand the network for biomedical and health research and training toward translational perspectives.

When Dr. Driscoll arrives next month, please join me in giving him a warm welcome to the University of Virginia School of Medicine.

Margaret A. Shupnik, PhD
Senior Associate Dean for Research

Update: Diversity Action Plans

As we approach the University’s 200th anniversary, it is good to remind ourselves of our history, so we can sometimes use it as a point of reference from which to move away. African-American undergraduate students were not allowed into our College of Arts and Sciences until the 1950s, and women were barred until the 1970s. Exclusion was common for three-quarters of this institution’s history. We are working continuously and actively to address this history so we may offer everyone — faculty, staff, and students — equal opportunity to succeed.

Last fall, during the Department Annual Reviews (DAR), each department was asked to think about how to improve diversity and inclusion for their areas. While the School of Medicine has had a diversity plan for several years, we wanted specific actions from the departments. In early 2017, we received thoughtful plans from every department. Upon reviewing these plans, Greg Townsend, MD, Associate Dean for Diversity and Medical Education, and I discovered common ideas and themes. These themes allowed Greg and me to develop guidelines for improving the plans and developing short-term and long-term goals.

These plans and goals provide a reference to one- and three-year strategic actions that departments will undertake. This way, we will all know the expectations for the coming year and by the end of 2020. This transparency provides an opportunity to collaborate, to share creative solutions, and to let our School’s greatest resource — our faculty and staff — be the source of the best ideas.

While we were working on diversity and inclusion action plans at the department level, the Provost’s office asked for a diversity plan from each of UVA’s schools. The School of Medicine’s plan is still under review, though we expect to receive feedback by the end of the summer. I will share it as soon as it is available.

Why be diverse?
Diversity is critical to becoming the kind of institution we think we should be — excellent, innovative, creative. Googling “why diversity matters” will give you abundant reasons why we should do this. Study upon study has been performed, and the data have been scrutinized and examined. In academic medicine, the data confirm that greater diversity is better for science, education, and patients.

Let us assume that you do not have time in your schedule to read the 3.8 billion Google returns for the search “why diversity matters” and you want a local example. Why does it matter for us? Here is an interesting chart showing the association between the school’s percentage of underrepresented in medicine students and the USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 scores.

(Click to enlarge.)

You can see the increased scores as we started making a conscious effort to increase student diversity. While it does not show causation, the correlation is powerful. What the scores do demonstrate is that our focus on diversity has not diminished the academic excellence of our student body.

Stayed tuned for more updates. We will be updating the Diversity website with best practices and will be sharing plans and guidelines in the coming months. Thank you to all of our faculty and staff who have put time and effort into these plans. Your efforts are noticed and appreciated.

Susan M. Pollart, MD, MS
Ruth E. Murdaugh Professor of Family Medicine
Senior Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs and Faculty Development