Highlights: December MAC Meeting

The School of Medicine’s Medical Advisory Committee (MAC) met on Dec. 11, 2018, 4-5 p.m., in the Medical Education Building’s Learning Studio. Here are highlights from that meeting:

Opening Comments
David S. Wilkes, MD

Drs. DeSimone, Minor, and Tamm: Newly elected AAAS Fellows.

Dean Wilkes gave enthusiastic congratulations to Drs. James Nataro, Douglas DeSimone, Wladek Minor, and Lukas Tamm. The Latin American Congress of Microbiology held a special symposium in honor of Dr. Nataro for his work battling infectious diseases, such as E. coli and Shigella, in Latin America. Drs. DeSimone, Minor, and Tamm were elected as Fellows by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Each year the AAAS elects members whose “efforts on behalf of the advancement of science or its applications are scientifically or socially distinguished.” 

December Health System Board Update
A. Bobby Chhabra, MD
Chair of Orthopaedic Surgery
Dr. Chhabra reviewed the Health System’s FY19 Scorecard and provided a summary of the FY19 first quarter financial report. 

The Health System Development (HSD) report showed that $67.7 million was brought in, exceeding the goal of $62 million. The grants and gifts include $17.6 million in investigator-initiated philanthropic grants, some of which were the Bill and Melinda Gate Foundation ($9.4 million — Houpt, Moore, Petri, Nataro), the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation ($450,000 — Rutkowski), and the American Heart Association ($706,511 — Bilchick, Sun, McNamara). HSD is well on its way toward its FY19 goal of $100 million, with commitments that include $7.74 million for cancer research pilot projects, $1.62 million for clinical trials space, $1.25 million for biomedical research, and $2 million for a neurology fellowship and a general medicine professorship. 

Getting Ready for Workday
Julie Bird
UFirst Change Management Co-Lead
Ms. Bird reviewed key dates related to the January 7, 2019, launch of Workday, UVA’s new, cloud-based human resource and payroll system. Duo and the latest version of Internet Explorer or Google Chrome are required to access Workday. 

  • SOM monthly payrolls will be paid from the legacy system on December 31 and from Workday on February 1. 
  • SOM bi-weekly payrolls will be paid from the legacy system on December 28 and from Workday on January 11.
  • January 4 is the last day for time/absence entry and approval for the 12/14/18-1/6/19 time period. Those working that weekend will estimate their time for January 5 and 6 and, if necessary, make a correction the following time period.
  • W-2s for 2018 will be available through the legacy system.

If you have questions: 

Please see the Workday website, workday.hr.virginia.edu. 

Highlighting New Faculty
Jonathan Kipnis, PhD
Chair of Neuroscience
Dr. Chia-Yi (Alex) Kuan, MD, PhD, Professor of Neuroscience, received his MD from National Taiwan University (1989) and his PhD from Yale (1997). He is currently PI on three R01s and one R21. Dr. Kuan’s research interests are neonatal brain injury, stroke, and brain energetics. 

Dr. Ukpong Eyo, PhD, Assistant Professor of Neuroscience, received his PhD (2012) from the University of Iowa. He did his postdoctoral research at Rutgers University and the Mayo Clinic, investigating microglial-neuronal physical interactions especially in the hyperactive brain using real-time two photon imaging. He has published numerous articles, including eleven as first author. His research is concentrated on the role of microglia in epilepsy and neurodevelopmental disorders. 

The next meeting will be Tuesday, January 8, 2018, in the BIMS Classroom.

Connecting to the Waiting Patient: Summer Research Internship Program Benefits from an A3 Workout


Every summer, the University of Virginia School of Medicine (SOM) welcomes a group of 30-35 enthusiastic undergraduate students from across the country to participate in our Summer Research Internship Program (SRIP). Over the course of the 10-week program, the selected trainees benefit from an immersive research experience mentored by a member of the program faculty, participate in a professional development series, and attend communication workshops.

The SRIP receives over 400 applications for these coveted positions each year. Trainee selections are made based on academic performance, personal statements, and letters of recommendation. Previously, students would apply online and provide personal statements, while their paper transcripts would arrive through the mail and letters of recommendation would arrive via email. Then began the painstaking process of scanning the paper transcripts and matching each individual’s application with the correct transcript and letters of recommendation — over 400 times! This process consumed weeksof nearly fulltime effort by the program coordinator to compile the application packets, causing the program to miss out on many strong applicants because offers went out later than competing programs.

There had to be a better way to collect and process these applications.

2017 SRIP class

Streamlining and Automating the Process
In May, the Program Director, Dr. Janet V. Cross, Assistant Dean for Graduate Research and Training, and the Summer Program Coordinator, Ms. Marya Johnson, undertook A3 problem-solving efforts. They formed a team that analyzed the current state of the process and identified opportunities to eliminate waste. As the team designed the future state, they saw an opportunity to leverage an existing resource. The prior year, the Biomedical Science (BIMS) Graduate Programs application had transitioned to the electronic platform, Slate. Recognizing the adaptability of Slate, the team worked with the Central Admission and Enterprise Application Admission teams to devise a complete application that will collect all the required information from the students as well as those providing recommendation letters, all through a secure, electronic platform.

The new-and-improved SRIP application went live on Sept. 1. A final assessment of the success of this Lean project must await the conclusion of the current admissions cycle in early spring. However, it is already clear that the new application platform will liberate weeks of work for Ms. Johnson and Dr. Cross, allowing them to focus on making offers earlier, attracting the best trainees to join our research teams, and developing educational programming for the participants. They anticipate that the streamlined process will also simplify the workload for potential applicants and improve the review process for the SOM faculty and BIMS students who participate in the admissions committee, allowing them to return to their research activities sooner. Overall, these improvements will enable us to continue educating the best and brightest students and setting them on the path toward contributing to the breakthrough discoveries of the future. Given that over 50 percent of our SRIP alumni go on to pursue PhDs, MDs, or combined degrees, the impact has the potential to be significant!

We thank Dr. Cross and Ms. Johnson for identifying the problem and undertaking the process improvement review, which led to such an elegant solution. We also thank Tracy Pettit and the members of her Central Admission team (Jacki Haney, Emillie Cobarrubias, and Alyssa Sellick) and the Enterprise Application Admission team (Briana Reid, Kristen Stanley and Jennifer Meyer) who worked with them to develop and ultimately build the new SRIP application. Finally, we thank the students, faculty, staff who support the SRIP in so many ways and allow us to provide a terrific experience for the trainees who are chosen to participate each summer.

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

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

Connecting to the Waiting Patient: Improving Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) Interviewing Processes

MSTP students at the 2015 White Coat Ceremony.

The primary goal of the School of Medicine dean’s office is to make sure that our efforts enable the School’s tri-partite mission of education, research, and clinical care, and benefit the “waiting” patient. It is the patient who is waiting for a cure, the next generation of physicians, or an appointment with a physician who can deliver needed care.

The dean’s office employees are focused on improving administrative processes that support the faculty’s work. The Be Smart program creates a meaningful framework for us to utilize Lean methodology for process improvement, standard work, problem solving, and data-driven decision making. This allows us to be more efficient and put limited resources where they can best support our mission.

As an example, here’s a story about how improvements in our Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) interviewing processes help faculty decrease administrative burden.

Thanks for listening! I’ll continue to share more stories with you in the coming months.

Katherine L. Peck, MBA
Chief Operating Officer

THRIV Holds 1st Annual Clinical Research Symposium

2nd-Year THRIV Scholars Jessica Keim-Malpass, PhD, RN; Kathleen A. McManus, MD, MSCR; and Brynne A. Sullivan, MD

Last month, the Translational Health Research Institute of Virginia (THRIV) held the 1st Annual THRIV Scholars Clinical Translational Research Symposium. THRIV was established in January 2017 as the cornerstone of our Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) Program application; a mechanism to promote excellence in clinical and translational research across UVA. One of the first major milestones was to create a mentored career-development program to support training for junior faculty, which we wrote about here (“THRIV Hits Milestone with Inaugural Class of Scholars”) and here (“THRIV Welcomes Second Class of Scholars”).

Karen C. Johnston, MD, MSc; Christopher P. Austin, MD; and Sandra G. Burks, RN, BSN, CCRC

At our research symposium, Christopher Austin, MD, Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) delivered the keynote address for research, “Catalyzing Translation Innovation.” Philip Bourne, PhD, Stephenson Chair of Data Science; Director of the Data Science Institute; and Professor of Biomedical Engineering, delivered the keynote presentation focusing on careers in translational research.

Philip E. Bourne, PhD

Dr. Austin was impressed with our team science, saying it showed in the Scholars’ presentations and in the conversations with THRIV leadership. Leveraging the expertise of the UVA Data Science Institute is invaluable in training the Scholars. This aspect of our program is a differentiator from other mentored career-development programs in the CTSA national network.

This was our first public-facing event to highlight work of the THRIV Scholars and it was a tremendous success.

Presentations from our second-year THRIV Scholars included:

  • Pulse Oximetry Cardiorespiratory Scores to Predict Adverse Events and Outcomes in Premature Infants” (Brynne Sullivan, MD, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, School of Medicine)
  • “Affordable Care Act’s effects on persons living with HIV (PLWH) in Virginia” (Kathleen McManus, MD, MSCR, Assistant Professor of Medicine, School of Medicine)
  • “A pragmatic clinical trial evaluating impact of continuous predictive monitoring on nurse-driven outcomes in a dynamic intensive care setting” (Jessica Keim-Malpass, PhD, RN, School of Nursing)
  • “Bioengineered Hydrogels to Facilitate 3D neural Stem Cell Survival and Growth in a Stroke Environment” (Kyle Lampe, PhD, Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences)

The first-year Scholars began their projects this summer, and they provided brief introductions to their research as well:

  • “Application of a Ketogenic Diet in Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis” (J. Nicholas Brenton, MD, Assistant Professor of Neurology, School of Medicine)
  • “Predicting injury risk after motor vehicle collisions using occupant and vehicle telemetry data” (Thomas Hartka, MD, MS, Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine, School of Medicine)
  • “Use of an Internet-based intervention to prevent cognitive decline in older adults with mild cognitive impairment” (Meghan Mattos, PhD, RN, Assistant Professor of Acute and Specialty Care, School of Nursing)
  • “Computational Modeling of Intestinal Mucosa: Image Analysis and Multiomics” (Sana Syed, MD, MS, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, School of Medicine)

(l-r) Nicole A. Chiota-McCollum, MD, MEd; Karen C. Johnston, MD, MSc; Sana Syed, MD, MS; Meghan K. Mattos, PhD, RN, CNL; J. Nicholas (Nick) Brenton, MD; Thomas R. Hartka, MD, MS; Kathleen A. McManus, MD, MSCR; Brynne A. Sullivan, MD; and Jessica Keim-Malpass, PhD, RN

Dean David S. Wilkes, MD, and Christopher P. Austin, MD

Several second-year Scholars have already begun to receive extramural funding for their work. Watching this group of junior faculty from diverse backgrounds and with very different research programs — pediatrics, data science, microbiome, nursing, neurology, and more — build this strong community of learning has been wonderful. I am thrilled by the program’s emphasis on team-science and data-science training for clinical-translational researchers, and look forward to the impact on our research programs across Grounds in future years.

Applications are now open for the next cohort of THRIV scholars. Visit the website for more details or contact Sandra Burks with questions. The THRIV Scholars program is open to all junior faculty from across Grounds at UVA who are pursuing careers in clinical or translational science.

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

Highlights: November MAC Meeting

The School of Medicine’s Medical Advisory Committee (MAC) met on Nov. 11, 2018, 4-5 p.m., in the Medical Education Building’s Learning Studio. Here are highlights from that meeting:

Opening Comments
David S. Wilkes, MD
Dr. Wilkes acknowledged the work that the chairs and center directors have done to increase diversity and build an environment of inclusiveness. The creation of diversity plans and appointment of diversity liaisons have made a difference, resulting in the School of Medicine being awarded the 2018 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award. Only 35 schools in the health professions get this recognition, and this is the seventh year in a row that we have received it! Congratulations, and thank you for your contributions. 

The work of Dr. Jose Oberholzer, Director of the Charles O. Strickler Transplant Center, was featured on the cover Nature Biomedical Engineering. Congratulations to him for this accomplishment. 

The department annual reviews (DARs) have been concluded and Dean Wilkes thanked the chairs and their teams for their participation. At the third year point of holding these reviews, he observed that there is a lot of positive momentum and chairs have embraced and moved forward on institutional initiatives that will distinguish UVA. In addition to diversity, mentioned above, there was impressive progressive in moving active learning to the goal of 80% active learning. Other common themes include greater collaboration among the departments and centers and more diversity in the research portfolio. Across the board, everyone is struggling with burnout, and in the clinical departments, a challenge is supporting high salaries for high RVU specialties while trying to provide salary increases for critical, but lower RVU, services. 

 The dean’s cabinet held its annual retreat after the DARs and identified four goals for the coming year: 

  • Create a work environment that enables excellence. 
  • Improve organizational structures and processes. 
  • Build external relationships and enhance development. 
  • Enhance the education experience. 

Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign
Elizabeth Shifflett
Ms. Shifflett, Pediatrics Department Administrator, is one of the executive sponsors of the Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign (CVC). The goal is to have 400 SOM faculty and staff contribute this year at whatever level they can afford. She pointed out that a small contribution of even $2 a pay period can make a big impact. And most of the money contributed stays in our community. The red envelope campaign is open through December 15 and the online campaign continues through December 26. Go here to donate online.

BIMS PhD+ Dual Degree Partnership with McIntire School of Commerce
Amy Bouton, PhD, Associate Dean for Graduate and Medical Scientist Programs
Dr. Bouton gave an overview of the dual degree pilot program established in partnership with the McIntire School of Commerce. The goal of the program is to provide BIMS PhD students with knowledge, skills, training, and credentials in commercialization, entrepreneurship, management, and leadership in the biomedical sciences arena. Students will earn an MS in Commerce in addition to the PhD. While the exceptional scientific training that students acquire in our BIMS-affiliated PhD programs will always provide the cornerstone of their professional portfolios, students who elect to participate in the sequential PhD/MS in Commerce program will gain additional training and credentials that will set them apart from the hundreds of other recent PhD graduates who have aspirations to pursue careers in pharma, biotech, commercialization, policy, etc. Given that approximately 60% of biomedical PhD graduates will not go into academic research, this program will differentiate UVA by providing expanded career opportunities to our students. 

BIMS PhD students will apply to McIntire during year 4 or 5, when they are less than a year from graduation. Once admitted to the MS in Commerce program, a SOM committee will accept up to two candidates for the dual degree “fellowship.” They must complete their PhD by August of the year in which they apply, after which they will begin the 10-month MS program in Commerce. We are running a three-year pilot and then will evaluate the results and the sustainability of the program. 

Business Intelligence
Kappu Ramasubramanian
The Business Intelligence (BI) program supports the achievement of our strategic objectives by delivering information to the end users more dynamically, reducing bottlenecks, making data actionable, and enabling the use of trusted information to understand and analyze organizational performance against set goals, make better and faster decisions, gain new insights, and optimize business processes. 

BI supports the program vision by 

  • Building an integrated data warehouse that hosts data from multiple systems 
  • Enabling the users to go to a single place to get their metrics 
  • Providing self-service analytics 
  • Documenting and surfacing consistent data definitions 

The first phase of the BI program focuses on providing administrative dashboards that will help both SOM and UPG by surfacing metrics that are directly connected to the mission drivers. 

BI governance includes three groups: the Steering Committee, the Governance Leadership Group, and the Operations Group. 

The BI Steering Committee is charged with executive level decision making, developing guiding principles, setting priorities for projects, and approving data definitions, standards, policies, and timelines. The guiding principles are: 

  • Focus on mission value. 
  • Treat data as an organizational asset. 
  • BI governance will promote transparency, trust, and accountability. 
  • The data warehouse is treats as the “trusted source of truth.” 
  • Promote a data-driven organization. 

The BI Governance Leadership Group provides strategic and tactical direction. It develops standards, policies, and data definitions to recommend to the BI Steering Committee for approval. 

The BI Operations Group includes domain-specific data stewards, subject matter experts, and others. The group validates data and improves the data quality and processes. 

BI recently completed its first project — the Academic Funds Available report, which will allow clinical departments to see a consolidated accounting of all their academic funds, regardless of where they are held. BI has three projects in process: budget variance (clinical affairs), research efforts and salary coverage (research), and underrepresented in medicine (education and faculty affairs). Three projects are in the queue: clinical productivity, space and funding, and EPA metrics. 

Bias Reduction in Internal Medicine (BRIM)
Mitchell Rosner, MD, Chair of Internal Medicine
The BRIM initiative is funded through the NIH and is a multi-site grant that includes twelve departments of internal medicine, with Molly Carnes, PI, from the University of Wisconsin. The BRIM Initiative offers the opportunity to help faculty overcome the bias habit and align their judgments and behaviors with their explicit commitments to be fair and objective. 

Over a two-year period, all divisions in the department will be offered a three-hour interactive workshop with three modules: 

  • Implicit bias as a habit. 
  • Becoming bias literate. (If you can name it, you can tame it.) 
  • Evidence-based strategies to break the bias habit. 

Divisions are randomized to receiving training or not. Surveys assess divisional climate, attitude, and engagement and changes in bias over time. The BRIM Initiative draws on decades of research on behavioral change in approaching stereotype-based bias as a “habit of mind” that can be changed by increasing awareness, motivation, and self-efficacy to practice evidence-based strategies. In three years, the divisions will be unblinded and the remaining divisions will be trained. 

Dr. Rosner said that Medicine has trained twelve high-level faculty and staff facilitators through the BRIMS Initiative. In the next six months, they may be available to train other departments, and he asked that you contact him regarding their capacity to meet your training needs. 

The next meeting will be Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018, in the MEB Learning Studio.

What Is the PhD+ Dual-Degree Program?

Being in close proximity to the other University of Virginia schools has benefits, the most recent being our new partnership with the McIntire School of Commerce to create the “Biomedical Sciences (BIMS) PhD+ Dual Degree Program.” It will provide a platform in which BIMS doctoral students can pursue a sequential BIMS PhD followed by an MS in Commerce.

This is a three-year pilot program in which BIMS doctoral students will gain scientific knowledge, skills, training, and credentials to become leaders in academia, biomedical research, industry, healthcare/science policy, and education. In addition, the MS portion of the degree will allow them to gain expertise in commercialization, entrepreneurship, management, and leadership in the biomedical arena.

While the exceptional scientific training that students acquire while in our BIMS-affiliated PhD programs will always provide the cornerstone of their professional portfolios, students who elect to participate in the sequential PhD/MS in Commerce program will gain additional training and credentials that will set them apart from the hundreds of other recent PhD graduates who aspire to careers in pharma, biotech, commercialization, and policy. Given that approximately 60 percent of biomedical PhD graduates will not go into academic research, this program will differentiate UVA by providing expanded career opportunities to our students.

After earning a PhD in Biochemistry, Biophysics, Cell Biology, Experimental Pathology, Microbiology, Neuroscience, Pharmacology, or Physiology, students will spend 10 months (August to June) completing coursework and a Global Immersion Experience for the MS at the world-class McIntire School of Commerce. They will focus on one of three tracks: Business Analytics, Finance, or Marketing and Management. There will also be a three-week international experience where students will join McIntire faculty members visiting international sites, examining different companies and types of businesses.

We’ll be enrolling students in 2019, 2020, and 2021, with support for up to two students a year. After this first cohort is completed, we will have data on the pilot’s success (how valuable was the training, how useful was it to get into desired positions early in their careers, etc.) and I hope that we will have sustained support to make this a full-fledged component of our graduate program.

I love that we can take advantage of the strengths of the University of Virginia to provide our students with additional training and credentials to facilitate their career development. This is the first of many potential cross-Grounds partnerships. Stay tuned for news of collaborations with the Data Sciences Institute and with the Curry School of Education.

Thank you to all who worked so hard to move this program from dream to reality.

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

Share Your Story of Community Engagement

The School of Medicine faculty have always been engaged with our community in meaningful ways. Through the Engaged UVA website, a product of the Office of the Vice Provost for Academic Research, faculty can share information about their community outreach work. The website is a repository of stories of research and teaching in partnership with communities in pursuit of the public good.

It is important to note that, in this context, “community” is used broadly and can mean local to Charlottesville or refer to the other side of the world. The site has a fantastic mapping function, “Where We Work,” that is a powerful reminder of the University’s global reach. I’m eager to see how the maps fill out as faculty add their work to the site.

The criteria for including projects on the website are:

  • a UVA faculty member must be involved
  • a community partner must be involved
  • the initiative or project must run at least two semesters

Many School of Medicine faculty projects meet these criteria. I would love for the SOM to be well-represented in this showcase. Scrolling through the site today, I see Dr. Becca Dillingham and the Center for Global Health; Dr. David Burt and the UVA-Guatemala Initiative; Ruth Gaare Bernheim and the Institute for Practical Ethics and Public Life; and Maurice Apprey and the “Impact of Civil Engagement.”

Visit engageduva.virginia.edu to learn more. If your work meets the above guidelines, please reach out to Mary Allen at mea4ue@virginia.edu. She will assist in gathering the requisite information.

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

3 Cavaliers Funds First Round of Projects

It was only a little over three months ago when we were discussing the launch of the new rapid seed-funding initiative, 3 Cavaliers. Developed by the Office of the Vice President for Research (VPR), 3 Cavaliers unites three faculty members around a new research idea and provides seed funding of $15,000 or $60,000. I am pleased to report that the first round of funding has been completed and the projects are intriguing.

There was faculty participation from all 11 of UVA’s schools, the library on the academic side, and the three pan-University institutes. Funding was provided by the Strategic Investment Fund to the VPR for this project, and by the participating institutes and schools, including the School of Medicine. Overall, 114 project ideas were submitted and $4,530,000 in seed funding was awarded to 77 of those submissions. Twenty of the projects are led by School of Medicine faculty (see below) and an additional 35 have SOM faculty as participants in projects led by other schools. Each one of those projects represents a trio of multi- and cross-disciplinary faculty excellence. This is an outstanding illustration of our faculty’s willingness and ability to collaborate on new ideas.

There will be a symposium (tentatively in December 2019) for faculty members to present these funded projects, and to discuss the outcomes and external funding obtained from this opportunity.

In addition to being a funding mechanism, 3 Cavaliers also maintains a faculty database (3c.virginia.edu) which anyone can use to help find research collaborators at UVA. Bookmark the web page and use it as a resource.

Thank you to all faculty who participated. I look forward to seeing the results.

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

SOM-led projects and associated faculty

“Brain Mechanisms of Pain Fear Acquisition and Extinction in Humans”

  • Jeff Liu (Neurosurgery), Per Benjamin Sederberg (Psychology), Jeff Elias (Neurosurgery)

“Modeling cerebral reperfusion injury using photoacoustic microscopy and oxygen-sensing nanoparticles”

  • Yashar Kalani (Neurosurgery), Song Hu (Biomedical Engineering), Shayn Peirce-Cottler (Biomedical Engineering)

“Genetically-Encoded Norepinephrine Sensors”

  • Jun Zhu (Pharmacology), B. Jill Venton (Chemistry), Wendy Lynch (Psychiatry and Neurobehaviorial Sciences)

“Effects of perturbation of mRNA export pathways on neuron function”

  • Marie-Louise Hammarskjold (Microbiology), George S. Bloom (Biology), David Rekosh (Microbiology)

“Generation and characterization of a preclinical models to study DDX3X disorder”

  • Sanchita Bhatnagar (Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics), Michael Wormington (Biology), Howard P. Goodkin (Neurology)

“Building an in vitro Model for Neural Tube Defects”

  • Christine I. Thisse (Cell Biology), Raymond E. Keller (Biology), Xiaowei Lu (Cell Biology)

“Role of innate immunity in impaired neurodevelopment during zika virus infection”

  • Young S. Hahn (Microbiology), Kevin A. Janes (Biomedical Engineering), Chia-Yi Kuan (Neuroscience)

“Neuromuscular pedicle for improved functional outcome of novel muscle regeneration scaffolds”

  • Patrick S. Cottler (Pastic Surgery), Chris Highley (Biomedical Engineering), George Joseph Christ (Biomedical Engineering)

“Extracellular life style of an intracellular pathogen”

  • Herve F. Agaisse (Molecular Physiology and Biological Physics), Andreas Gahlmann (Chemistry), Huiwang Ai (Microbiology)

“Development of Smart Algorithm for Cardiac Device Discrimination of Arrhythmias to Deliver Personalized Therapy”

  • Nishaki Mehta (Medicine), Nikolaos D. Sidiropoulos (Electrical and Computer Engineering), James Michael Mangrum (Medicine)

“Determination of Cardiac Reserve in Heart Failure using Pulse Wave Velocity Analysis”

  • Sula Mazimba (Medicine), John A. Hossack (Biomedical Engineering), Andrew D. Mihalek (Medicine)

“Quantitative MRI of body fat and risk of cardiometabolic diseases”

  • Weibin Shi (Radiology), Xiwei Tang (Statistics), Jiang He (Radiology)

“An engineered probiotic for diabetic health”

  • Mark Kester (Pharmacology), Steven L. Zeichner (Pediatrics), Keith Kozminski (Biology)

“Development of antibiotic resistance ‘in the wild’”

  • Jason A. Papin (Biomedical Engineering), Lisa Colosi Peterson (Engineering), Peter M. Kasson (Molecular Physiology and Biological Physics)

“Small molecule inhibitors of the CXXC domain, an epigenetic reader of DNA methylation”

  • John H. Bushweller (Molecular Physiology and Biological Physics), Steven Richard Caliari (Chemical Engineering), Francine Evalina Garrett-Bakelman (Medicine)

“Genetic modification of dietary effects on nutrient distribution and metabolism”

  • Susanna R. Keller (Medicine), Sibylle Kranz (Kinesiology), Mete Civelek (Biomedical Engineering)

“Big data approaches for analyzing genomic intervals”

  • Nathan Sheffield (Public Health Sciences), Haiying Shen (Computer Science), Donald E. Brown (Systems and Information Engineering)

“Engineering Cell-adhesive Microparticle Systems to Enable in vitro Modeling of Mammalian Neural Development”

  • Bernard V. Thisse (Cell Biology), Kyle J. Lampe (Chemical Engineering), Rachel Letteri (Chemical Engineering)

“Predicting Functional Deficits after Volumetric Muscle Loss in the Lower Extremity”

  • David B. Weiss (Orthopaedic Surgery), Susan A. Saliba (Kinesiology), Silvia S. Blemker (Biomedical Engineering)

“Scalable Microfluidic Devices for Controlled Manufacturing of Micro-encapsulated Islets for Transplantation”

  • Melur Ramasubramanian (Engineering and Applied Sciences), Yong Wang (Surgery), Jose Oberholzer (Surgery)

Thank You, Principal Investigators, for a Good Year!

The books are closed, the numbers have been tallied, and the data compiled. Fiscal Year 2018 was a successful year, with regards to the School of Medicine’s extramural funding.

Last year we realized a gain of $16 million in National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding and $5 million in our non-NIH portfolio, for a total net increase of $21 million over FY17. If you remove the money received from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), FY18 is the best funding year the School has ever seen, as we topped $223 million. This is fantastic growth!

Looking to the horizon, I am further encouraged as we continue to partner with The Conafay Group, which is helping us to broaden our Department of Defense funding. The number of proposals in this area has increased substantially and I look forward to them bearing fruit in the coming year. Conafay; David Driscoll, PhD, SOM Director of Research Development; and UVA’s ResearchNet, continue to support proposals that seek larger awards from less-traditional funding sources. We expect additional funding dollars from the Strategic Hiring Initiative (SHI), both as transfers and new awards. Of course, we would not see our research portfolio grow by 10 percent if not for the efforts of our existing faculty — their continued excellence is the bedrock of the School’s success.

The final financial icing on the funding cake is with Congress, which continues to support biomedical research and is currently proposing a strong increase for next year. We’ll know more on this soon.

Internally, the large number of seed-funding programs has been beneficial to our faculty as well, by providing an initial step toward external funding. SOM gap funding — which has run for nine cycles — has been tremendously successful in getting our investigators to the pay line. Of the 65 gap grants supported, 39 have resulted in new NIH awards representing $12.8 million in year 1 and $49.7 million over the entire awards, as a result of our $3.9 million investment in the program. This is spectacular!

Moving forward, we are working on initiatives that will help investigators obtain or initiate funding more efficiently. Examples include programs such as Clinical Research Connect, which decreases the length of time from proposal to initiating a clinical research study, and the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP)’s effort to help accelerate the grant-review and contract-negotiation processes. Streamlining the administrative aspects of research will allow us to more seamlessly move from ideation to actual research.

A big thank you to all of our faculty — and the administrators who support them — in assembling strong proposals that illustrate to funding agencies that research at UVA’s School of Medicine is worthy of funding. Your efforts are greatly appreciated by the School, colleagues, and, ultimately, our patients.

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

Highlights: October MAC Meeting

The School of Medicine’s Medical Advisory Committee (MAC) met on Oct. 9, 2018, 4-5 p.m., in the Medical Education Building’s Learning Studio. Here are highlights from that meeting:

Opening Comments
David S. Wilkes, MD
Dr. Wilkes announced that Dr. Li Li is the incoming chair of the Department of Family Medicine. Dr. Li, who comes to us from Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, has research interests in cancer, molecular/genetic epidemiology, and disease prevention. He will start January 1, 2019. Dr. Wilkes thanked Dr. Susan Pollart for serving as interim chair while she continued to carry out her responsibilities as Senior Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs and Faculty Development. 

Dr. Jonathan Kipnis’ article, “The Seventh Sense,” regarding his discovery that the immune system is crucial to the brain’s functioning, was featured on the August 2018 cover of Scientific American. Dr. Kipnis received an ovation from his colleagues for being recognized with an NIH Director’s Pioneer Award. 

StandPoint Survey
Susan M. Pollart, MD
Senior Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs and Faculty Development
At the end of the first week that the StandPoint Survey was open, the response rate was 20%, surpassing the AAMC week one average response of 16%. Dr. Pollart thanked the chairs for encouraging their faculty to participate. The survey will be open through November 9. 

Dr. Pollart stated that department chairs will have three institutional goals and one departmental aspirational goal as an outcome of the department annual reviews. One of the institutional goals is the chair’s encouragement of faculty participation in the survey and development of a robust action plan based on the survey results. 

Health System Board Update
A. Bobby Chhabra, MD Chair, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery
Dr. Chhabra shared highlights from the September 2018 HSB meeting. The meeting was shortened considerably due to weather concerns, so the only topics to review were the year-end HS financials and results from the physician engagement survey. The results provide a baseline that will inform future surveys. 

Highlighting New Faculty
Anindya Dutta, PhD
Chair, Biochemistry & Molecular Genetics
Dr. Dutta provided an introduction to Hao Jiang, PhD, and Golam Mohi, PhD, both of whom are recent recruits in the area of cancer research. 

Dr. Jiang’s research interest is on the MLL complex in hematologic malignancies and differentiation. His research has shown that AKAP95 forming liquid condensates with appropriate dynamics is important for gene regulation and tumorigenesis. This offers an unconventional opportunity for cancer treatment by perturbing the material state of protein droplets. He comes from the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine. He brings to UVA an R01 and Scholar Awards from the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, American Cancer Society, and American Society of Hematology. 

Dr. Mohi’s research interests are in hematopoietic stem cell biology, cell signaling, and cancer, with a major focus on myeloproliferative neoplasms and breast cancer. He works on the JAK-STAT signal transducing pathway and on several tyrosing protein phosphatases important for these disorders. He comes from SUNY Upstate Medical University and brings an R01, two R21s, a Scholar Award from the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and a Worldwide Cancer Research Award. 

Both recruits stated that the opportunity to collaborate with our outstanding faculty, particularly John Bushweller, PhD, and the multiple BMG faculty members interested in epigenetics and cancer was a factor in their decision to come to UVA. 

Highlighting New Faculty
James P. Nataro, MD, PhD, MBA
Chair, Pediatrics
In the last two years, Dr. Nataro recruited two physician-scientists into the Division of Hematology & Oncology to work with the core of excellent clinicians focused on patient care. Brian Belyea, MD, a member of the Child Health Research Center, is investigating cell type that lead to leukemia and works closely with Ariel Gomez, MD, and Maria Luisa Sequeira-Lopez, MD. The division was further enhanced with the recruitment of Daniel “Trey” Lee, MD, from the National Cancer Institute. He works with CAR T-cell therapy to battle treatment-resistant leukemia in children and also has been the first to use CAR T-cell therapy for pediatric brain cancer. 

Dr. Nataro has just recruited Michael Engel, MD, PhD, who will start November 1 as the division chief for Hematology & Oncology. His research focuses on the use of small molecules to repair the GFI1-LSD axis in T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and he will have collaborations with Biochemistry. 

In 2016, Dr. Nataro recruited Sean Moore, MD, as a strategic hire into the Division of Gastroenterology & Nutrition. Dr. Moore’s major research interest is the influence of the intestinal microbiota in environmental enteropathy. His investigation into the use of intestinal organoids to understand diurnal variation in gut function is funded by the NIH, and he has Gates Foundation support to study gender differences in the response to under-nutrition. 

Sana Syed, MD, MS, was recruited from Harvard to join Dr. Moore’s research team. Dr. Syed very quickly acquired funding from the Gates Foundation, an NIH K award, and an iTHRIV award. Dr. Syed uses Big Data to understand the histopathologic features of environmental enteropathy among children in developing countries. She is a member of the Center for Global Health and holds an adjunct faculty appointment in the Department of Pediatrics and Child Health at the Aga Khan University in Karachi, Pakistan. 

Patricio Ray, MD, is a strategic hire who joins the Division of Nephrology on November 1. Coming from Children’s National Health System, he brings five R01s to fund his work in HIV nephropathy. His group has developed new biomarkers and permeability assays to follow the outcome of HIV nephropathy, hemolytic uremic syndrome, and acute kidney injury in critically ill children or newborns with hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy. His interest in the unique susceptibility of African individuals to HIV nephropathy fits well with the focus of the Global Genomics and Bioinformatics Research Institute in Fairfax, where he will have a lab. 

Dr. Ray joins three other R01-funded pediatric nephrologists (R. Ariel Gomez, MD; Maria Luisa Sequeira-Lopez, MD; and Jennifer Charlton, MD) in the Child Health Research Center, making the center the largest pediatric nephrology research center in the world. 

The next meeting will be Tuesday, November 13, 2018, in the MEB Learning Studio.