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

Highlights: June MAC Meeting

Connect to Purpose and Department Faculty Meetings (Dean David Wilkes)

  • Dean David Wilkes highlighted recent accolades and awards:
    • UVA Neurosurgery Residency Program was cited as the second most academically productive out of the 105 programs in the U.S.
    • Terry Bennett (Department Manager, Medical Education Programs) received the Leonard W. Sandridge Outstanding Contributor Award — the highest honor a UVA Health System team member can receive.
    • The Heart and Vascular Center received the 2017 Get With The Guidelines-Heart Failure Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award and was named to the Target: Heart Failure Honor Roll from the American Heart Association. They also received the 2017 Charles L. Brown Award for Patient Care Quality.
    • The Department of Orthopaedics received Premier Level certification from the International Geriatric Fracture Society CORE Certification Program for UVA’s Geriatric Fracture Care Program.
    • Iga Kucharska, PhD, received the inaugural Gordon Hammes Scholar Award, which honors young scientists responsible for the best papers published in Biochemistry.
    • Ariel Gomez, MD, received the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine Distinguished Alumni Award.
    • UVA’s Board of Visitors recently approved $15.7M for the cross-disciplinary initiative called BRAIN, short for Bold Research Advancement in Neuroscience. Additionally, they approved an academic affiliation with Inova Health System Foundation that includes a research institute and a UVA School of Medicine regional campus in Northern Virginia.
  • By September, Dean Wilkes will be attending department meetings to have open conversations with faculty.

Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) Update (Margaret Shupnik, PhD)

  • Dr. Margaret Shupnik shared that, while our research portfolio is growing, we have discovered some rate-limiting challenges. Dean Wilkes, Dr. Shupnik, and Stewart Craig have been speaking with faculty and chairs about getting received grants money in the hands of the investigators in a more expedited manner. Last week they met with the Office of Sponsored Programs and discussed ways to make the process better.
  • Next steps being instituted by OSP include:
    • Assigned specific staff to individual schools and departments
    • New hiring (4 new staff in June, ongoing recruitment)
    • Streamlining account creation
    • By 6/13, establish all signature-ready accounts with a 6/1 notice of award (NOA)
  • Goal: to establish new accounts within 5 days of NOA
  • Dr. Shupnik expressed gratitude to Dean Wilkes, Dr. Richard Shannon, and Pat Hogan for helping to improve this process.

National Institutes of Health (NIH) Update (Margaret Shupnik, PhD)

  • Next Generation of Researchers Initiative: The NIH has decided that there will be no Grant Support Index point system or limits on grants per PI.
  • The NIH is working on alternative methods to support younger investigators.
  • There will be institute-specific prioritization, but propose funding to 25th percentile:
    • 4 years — $210M/year from existing funds
    • tracking progress, metrics — assess at 2 years
  • If you wish to comment, visit the Open Mike Blog or email publicinput@od.nih.gov.

June BOV Update (Bobby Chhabra, MD)

  • Dr. Bobby Chhabra represents Medical Center faculty on the University of Virginia Health System Board and shared information from its recent meeting.
  • Dr. Chhabra reviewed
    • progress since 2016 on the Health System consolidated goals and strategies,
    • the FY17 balanced scorecard improvements;
    • financial data and Medical Center cash flow sources and uses;
    • FY18 budget, operating income, projections, capital budget, and major strategic initiatives and investments in the coming year, including Epic Phase 2, Ufirst, the new endoscopy procedure center, the strategic hiring initiative, the clinical translational science project, advancing strategic partnerships, and retention and recruitment; and
    • UVA Medical Center’s statistics, as compared to benchmarks at other academic medical centers.

UFirst Project Update (Jennifer Oliver, Sean Jackson, Kelley Stuck)

  • Ufirst will deliver a unified HR function across the organization that delivers a best-in-class HR service, enhancing UVA’s ability to recruit, hire, retain, and develop top talent. Key to enabling this transformation will be the implementation of a user-friendly HR technology called Workday.
  • Ufirst will benefit the 28,000+ faculty, staff, and team members at the Medical Center, School of Medicine, University Physicians Group, the 10 other UVA schools, administrative units, and UVA College at Wise.
  • Kelley Stuck discussed the future-state HR service delivery model, aligning processes and leveraging new technology to create an excellent employee experience. She noted that the new model is an evolution of OneHR, and the work invested in OneHR has helped clear the way for this transition. She also shared the timeframe and milestones from today until Workday goes live in July 2018.
  • Contacts:
  • Be on the lookout for opportunities to view Workday demonstrations and to engage in SMR sessions in the coming months.

Getting Ready for One Patient, One Record

The goal of “one patient, one record” has been a glimmer in the eyes of UVA Health System administrators and clinicians for years. With the launch of Epic Phase 2 on July 1, our toolbox will finally include a completely integrated electronic medical record system that providers across our continuum of care will use.

Getting ready for this big change requires extensive preparation. Groups across the Health System are preparing to use the nine new applications to go live during Epic Phase 2, and thousands of team members are now engaged in online, classroom and personalized training.

As Senior Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs and Chief Medical Officer, Chris Ghaemmaghami, MD, reminds in this month’s special video message on UVA Connect, clinical teams are playing a crucial role in defining new workflows, and it is important for them to work hand-in-hand with operations and the Epic team. Such collaboration is essential to making our push toward one patient, one record a success. Acknowledging that change is disruptive, Dr. Ghaemmaghami notes that it has a positive purpose: “It is how we stay at the forefront of care and continue delivering our best for our patients.”

[Note: Video is internal-only. Access while on the Health System network.]

Slides: Spring General Faculty Meeting

If you missed the April 20 General Faculty Meeting — or if you attended and just want to review! — you can find a PDF of the presentation slides here.

Highlights: April MAC Meeting

som-bldg_NEW_12122014New World Order in Hospitals … and Academic Medical Centers

  • Dean David Wilkes discussed that, given the degree of uncertainty with the healthcare landscape, we need to be conservative about new clinical hires until we understand how possible changes will affect us. Other institutions are performing workforce lay-offs — that is not a position in which we want to find ourselves.
  • Given the precarious nature of the budget at the National Institutes of Health, Dean Wilkes said that we should pursue only funded, mid-level or senior investigators.
  • Dean Wilkes reiterated that while we will be fine, we need to exercise caution in our hiring. Clarity on these issues will surface in the coming months.

March Board of Visitors Update

  • Background: In the fall of 2016, Dr. Chhabra was appointed as faculty representative to the Medical Center Operating Board (MCOB) of the Board of Visitors. As standard practice going forward, Dr. Chhabra will report to the MAC highlights from the MCOB meetings.
  • From the March MCOB meeting:
    • Health System Dashboard update
      • Positive changes include success in Be Well Phase 2, an increase in referral patterns, and the recruitment of 5 new physician-scientists.
    • Finance update
      • Positive operating margin was reviewed and explained.
    • Epic Phase 2 update
      • Reviewed timeline and implementation plan. The Health System is on track for a summer launch.
    • Be Safe Approach and Outcomes
      • Reviewed service line accountability and provided an example of heart and vascular center success for STEMI patients, a significant improvement when compared to our peers.
    • Strategy update
      • Dr. Richard Shannon provided updates on why patients want to see clinical outcomes that matter, sharing publicly available clinical data, our progress in the Joint Operating Agreement (JOC) with Novant, developing a statewide pediatric care network, and progress on the developing academic relationship with Inova.

The next meeting will be Tuesday, May 9, 2016, in the BIMS classroom.

We Are Growing the Research Enterprise

research_microscope_03042016The Strategic Hiring Initiative (SHI) is a major part of growing our research enterprise. We are investing $60 million over five years to hire a total 30-32 faculty, primarily physician-scientists. The goal is to strengthen existing collaborative research groups and to catalyze new initiatives and collaborations.

Through the SHI and other strategic recruitment efforts, we’re hiring the best scientists and physician-scientists into thematic areas of organ transplant, metabolic disorders, precision medicine, regenerative medicine. These themes build on the strengths of the previously identified areas of cancer, cardiovascular, and neurosciences. We are now a year and half into this initiative and have already hired a number of outstanding faculty. Below are recent strategic hires who are joining us this year:

  • bourne1_03292017Philip Bourne, PhD, arriving on May 1, will be the Director of the Data Science Institute. Dr. Bourne comes to us from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) where he served as the first NIH Associate Director for Data Science, reporting directly to NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins. He is regarded nationally and internationally as one of the top researchers in the field of informatics and data.
  • garret-bakelman_03292017Francine Garrett-Bakelman, MD, PhD, arrived on March 1, is an Assistant Professor of Medicine, Hematology Medical Oncology, and Biochemistry & Molecular Genetics. Dr. Garrett-Bakelman came from Cornell University School of Medicine. She’s working on the genetics of leukemia and is the lead investigator on the NASA “Twins” project, which studies the effects of weightlessness on the human genome. This research is in preparation for sending humans to Mars.
  • basuNEW2_03292017 basuNEW_03292017Ananda Basu, MD, and Rita Basu, MD, a husband-and-wife team, arriving on July 1, are Professors of Medicine (Endocrinology) from the Mayo Clinic, where Rita chaired the Institutional Review Board for the Mayo Clinic Office of Human Research Protection. They collaborate with Dr. Boris Kovatchev’s on the artificial pancreas and, with support from the University’s Strategic Investment Fund, will work with him on the wireless diabetes clinical trial.
  • oberholzer_03292017José Oberholzer, MD, who arrived on March 1, is the Director of the Charles O. Strickler Transplant Center. He comes to us from the University of Illinois and is an international expert in the robotics of organ transplantation. Dr. Oberholzer researches cell therapies for diabetes and other endocrine disorders. Under his guidance, our center will be the only one in the nation that can transplant all solid organs.

SHI investigators are starting to add to the already impressive gain in NIH funding that was initiative this past year, when our school’s rankings moved from 40th to 35th, seen in the recent Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research report, which provides medical school rankings by total NIH grant awards. (You can read more about those rankings here.)

Please join me in welcoming these new faculty to the University of Virginia School of Medicine. I look forward to seeing their medical science advancements in the coming years.

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

Highlights: March MAC Meeting

som-bldg_NEW_12122014Opening Comments from the Dean

  • US News & World Report: The dean congratulated our faculty on their work that resulted in the School of Medicine moving from 28 to 27 for research and from 25 to 24 for primary care.
  • Dean David Wilkes reported on two strategic hires, Dr. Francine Garrett-Bakelman (genomic studies of leukemia and head of the NASA “twins project”) and Dr. José Oberholzer (Director of the Charles O. Strickler Transplant Center).

Budget Update

  • Kathy Peck reported that the budget review shows significant increases in costs, especially those related to new hires. The budget team will circle back to the departments for a closer look prior to the April 4 submission date.

Managing the Research Portfolio

  • Dr. Anita Clayton, chair, and Michelle Storer, Director of Research Administration, from the department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences discussed the management of their faculty research portfolios.
  • The program is a robust, pro-active, and successful tool for PIs and grant administration alike. It assumes research time is fully funded, provides for detailed quarterly reviews, encourages diversification and collaboration, and offers early identification of potential trouble and follow-up planning. Streamlined access to necessary information/forms, SOPs, policies and deadlines that support an effective grant application and administration process, and a flexible, solution-focused approach keeps research funded and moving forward.
  • Contact Michelle Storer for details.

Faculty Diversity

  • Dr. Susan Pollart thanked those who have submitted their diversity plans. She reminded us that the LCME is monitoring us in the area of diversity and specifically will want to know how we are doing with the search for a Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer (CDIO) and how well we are doing in recruiting URM faculty.
  • She identified several promising practices that departments may wish to emulate and will circulate information about these practices in an upcoming email.
  • Each department facilitator will receive an edited version of their plan in the coming week. The next steps are to finalize the department plans and submit current year, one year, and three year goals.
  • The CDIO search will begin in the next few weeks.

This Is a Blog About the Blog

blogaboutblog_03162017Another revolution around the sun has come and gone. This month marks the one-year anniversary of the Dean’s Office Blog. The blog was created to help increase the quality and consistency of communication from my office. It is meant to provide faculty and staff with an additional channel of information to learn about important news that affects your work and the School of Medicine at large.

In the last year we have published 42 stories on strategic hires, notes from the Medical Advisory Committee (MAC) meetings, innovative methods in promoting research and enhancing education, funding opportunities, safety measures, and more.

But it has been a year, so I’d like to ask: Does this site work for you?

In looking at the site’s analytics, it appears to me that faculty and staff are, indeed, visiting, reading, and (sometimes) commenting. The Dean’s Office Blog has had nearly 29,000 pageviews and over 5,800 readers. And, while numbers do not lie, they rarely tell the whole story.

Can you help fill in the gaps of this story?

I’d like to know your thoughts. Please post a comment below and let me know how this site could be improved, what topics you would like to read about, and where we can make adjustments so that you are better served over the next 365 days and beyond.

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

[As of May 18, comments have been turned off due to spam. If you have a comment to post, please email Brian Murphy at bpm3q@virginia.edu.]

THRIV Begins to Thrive

Genetic Science ResearchThe University of Virginia is a big place. Researchers, groups, committees, initiatives, and programs are legion. “I never knew that was there” is not an uncommon saying, even for folks who have been here a while. But it does not have to be that way, does it? What if we had a common front door for research through which everyone could walk, regardless of years on Grounds or tenure or even school affiliation? And upon walking through that door, you’d be greeted by someone who could assist with questions, information, and education?

I believe that THRIV will be the University’s new front door for research. THRIV is the Translational Health Research Institute of Virginia, a new cross-grounds entity whose focus is to use data to improve health. THRIV’s main components are:

  • Informatics: THRIV will bring together groups (such as those in Public Health Sciences, Information Technology, the Data Science Institute, and others) to look at ways to integrate and use health-related data to improve the health of citizens of the Commonwealth. It will provide opportunities to analyze already-existing, large data sets (both from the health and non-health realms) to explore new research hypotheses, inform health decisions, and predict outcomes. We want THRIV to inspire researchers to think differently and to train our young researchers to think bigger.
  • Community Collaboration: While we are already working with colleagues in the Schools of Nursing and Education, we have plans to expand beyond Grounds. We will bring together community networks, non-profit organizations, public schools, state and federal health departments, and others, to understand the interests of the community. We will then leverage those interests and connections to perform health-related research in (and for!) the community. Our partnerships with Virginia Tech and Inova are examples of how collaboration allows us to broaden what “community” means for UVA. Community is more than Charlottesville. Each partnership broadens the area of those who we serve.
  • Education: THRIV has created a mentored career development award that will train small groups of junior faculty seeking a clinical and translational research career. Separate from that program, THRIV encourages the use of existing resources such as the Health Sciences Library and the Bioconnector for on-going training opportunities.  THRIV is also a developing a broader training environment with a substantial menu of learning opportunities in different forms and environments from which to choose. If you’re thinking, “I want to learn about [insert subject],” you can. This will be for everyone, even for those who are not in research. And remember: This isn’t restricted to just School of Medicine topics. THRIV spans across-Grounds, so the learning opportunities are only limited by the scope of the University.

Collectively — with partners on and off Grounds — we will improve health in the Commonwealth. Sharing data provides more grant opportunities for researchers. And science advances faster when we leverage our collective strengths. THRIV will create efficiencies, too. It is our intention to make it so researchers do not have to “recreate the wheel” every time they embark on a project. THRIV will be the information resource hub that will help all researchers do what they do best.

Why Are We THRIVing?
Next year we will be applying for a Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) funded by the NIH’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences. This award brings together “a national network of medical research institutions that work together to improve the translational research process to get more treatments to more patients more quickly. Members of these hubs collaborate to catalyze innovation in training, research tools, and processes.” Before we apply for a CTSA, we need to demonstrate that we already have a thriving clinical/translational research program across Grounds that facilitates activity across the Commonwealth. The door is open in THRIV for researchers and community partners, and all are invited to contribute and benefit from this new University resource.

Thank you to Karen Johnston, MD, Harrison Distinguished professor of Neurology, Associate Vice President for Clinical & Translational Research; Sandra Burks, RN, THRIV’s Program Director; and Donald Brown, PhD, W.S. Calcott Professor of Systems & Information Engineering, Director of the Data Science Institute, for getting THRIV off the ground.

Get involved with THRIV today. You can be a mentor, a mock study-section grant reviewer, a subject matter expert, an experiential trainer, or an advisor. If you have questions, please contact Sandra Burks.

Sincerely,

Margaret A. Shupnik, PhD
Senior Associate Dean for Research

Highlights: February MAC Meeting

Opening Comments from the Dean

  • The Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research publishes rankings of National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant dollars rewarded to medical schools. Dean Wilkes announced the School of Medicine moved from 40th to 35th and thanked the faculty and staff who had a part in this achievement.
  • Dean Wilkes announced the strategic hires who will be starting soon at the School of Medicine.
    • May 1: Philip Bourne, PhD, Director, Data Science Institute (from NIH).
    • March 1: Francine Garrett-Bakelman, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medicine-Hem/Onc and Biochemistry & Molecular Genetics (from Cornell University SOM).
    • July 1: Ananda Basu, MD, and Rita Basu, MD, Professors of Medicine (Endocrinology) (from Mayo Clinics).
    • March 1: José Oberholzer, MD, Director, Charles O. Strickler Transplant Center (from University of Illinois).
  • Dean Wilkes introduced Lynne Boyle, Federal Relations Professional, Office of the Executive Vice President of Health Affairs.

Department Diversity Plans

  • Dr. Susan Pollart thanked the 28 departments that have submitted their diversity plans.
  • Next steps: Dr. Pollart will be in contact with the department facilitators to refine the plans and request action steps for the coming year.
  • Reminder: The Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Program Scholars application process is open now. Deadline March 15. virginia.edu/diversity/resources/awards/

Be Wise

  • Drs. Margaret Plews-Ogan, Raymond Costabile, and Norman Oliver presented Be Wise, a program to create a welcoming and healthy workplace throughout the Health System. Be Wise creates a defined mechanism to help people be their best selves, so that we can give the best care possible to our patients.
  • Be Wise aims to enhance individual resilience and interpersonal communication; to identify and reduce unnecessary stressors; and to recognize caregiver stress and know how to respond.
  • Two key components are prevention and intervention. It is important to note that this is a supportive and restorative process, not a punitive one.
  • Next steps: Dr. Plews-Ogan will gather individuals for clarity on Be Wise processes. Please send any feedback on the flowchart (distributed at the meeting and via email) to her.

The next meeting will be Tuesday, March 14, 2017, in the BIMS Classroom.