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

 

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 https://news.med.virginia.edu/blog/deans-anniversary-letter/

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.

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.

—Peggy

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

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.

Assessing Students Today to Be Ready for Tomorrow

How can we ensure our medical students are prepared properly for the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) and our graduate students are ready to earn their PhDs and become leaders in biomedical research?

The answer: novel ways of assessment.

UME: Predicting the Future
The School of Medicine has had an integrated curriculum for years. This means that our students no longer study subjects in isolation. Learning is organ system-based, and this is how our students progress through the curriculum. Within each system, we assess performance in multiple ways. The weekend formative and summative assessments are main contributors to a student’s grade.

For the past two years, we have been reviewing class performance and determining how it correlates with board scores. James Martindale, PhD, Assistant Professor and Director of Test Development, oversees all SOM testing and is focusing on how overall system grades and weekend formative and summative assessment results relate to Step 1 performance (the application of important concepts of the sciences basic to the practice of medicine). He has found strong correlations in the data and is building a model that can determine how much of the variation in assessment performance can be predictive. While we are not teaching to the test, we do need to know if we are preparing our students for their future careers in medicine — including licensure. Later, we will review Step 2 (clinical knowledge and clinical skills) and Step 3 (taken after medical school graduation) data, to see if similar models can be built.

The impetus for this work is the need to identify the few students who are predicted to perform poorly on Step 1 while they still have time to remediate and enhance their study skills. This will be one additional tool to support our students.

BIMS: Say it out loud!
Amy Bouton, PhD
, Associate Dean for Graduate and Medical Scientist Programs, and her colleagues who teach the first-year core course for PhD candidates in the Biomedical Sciences (BIMS) Graduate Program want our graduate students to speak up. In fact, it’s an expectation.

Every first-year student in the BIMS Graduate Program takes an oral examination as the culminating assessment tool for the core course. This exam marks the beginning of their transition from a focus on grades and formal classes to a focus on self-initiated study, research, and professional development.

The examiners ask questions that cover basic information to ascertain that students understand the outline approaches and the purposes and goals of assigned papers. Students must interpret the results to demonstrate that they can make connections between the paper and topics in the course that apply to research, and show that they can make higher order reasoning and intellectual jumps.

We have found this method to be an excellent way to assess our graduate students. It allows us to determine whether they have acquired the basic skills emphasized in the core course and evaluates their ability to problem solve. It gives students an experience similar to what they will face later in their training when they must pass their advancement to PhD candidacy exam. A student who performs poorly on the oral exam is encouraged to work with the mentor to develop a plan for addressing the identified deficiencies.

A tremendous amount of preparation goes into administering these exams, which take place over a period of between 1-2 days and involve nearly 30 faculty members. These assessments provide an important means for early intervention for those students who have not yet developed the skills and knowledge needed to become a strong researcher and scientist.

We realize that English is not the primary language for some of our students. Our data indicate that this has not been a barrier to success, yet we continuously are monitoring for any outlying performance indicators. Since we have been administering this oral exam for only two years, it is too early to determine outcomes with respect to the impact on students’ advancement to candidacy exams.

Thank You, Faculty!
When I see the dedication of our faculty in ensuring we are continuously improving ways in assessing our students — driven by mission and goals — I am in awe. Thank you to Jim, Amy, and all the faculty whose tireless effort goes into student assessment.

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

Highlights: May MAC Meeting

Chair Update (Dean David Wilkes)

  • Dean Wilkes announced that, as of July 1, Brian Hoard, DDS, will be Chair of the Department of Dentistry.
  • Michael Dong

    UVA School of Medicine student Michael Dong is one of only 79 students nationwide to be accepted into the prestigious Medical Research Fellows Program at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The program provides a stipend and other funding that allows med students to take a year off from their studies for in-depth, mentored biomedical research. Mr. Dong will conduct his research in Dr. Jonathan Kipnis’ lab.

Grant Support Index (Margaret Shupnik, PhD)

  • Background: There are new guidelines being discussed at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that may limit grant support to individual principal investigators. The reasoning for this is that there are too many researchers and too few dollars. As of today, 10 percent of PIs have 40 percent of the resources. Additionally, the scientific workforce is aging more rapidly than the general work force. The current system affects young PIs disproportionately.
  • Dr. Shupnik shared that on May 2, 2017, the NIH announced that in order to protect sustainability of the research enterprise it is working on guidelines to limit the number of awards going to successful PIs. It is important to note two things:
    • The NIH will not defund any grants.
    • This only applies only to NIH awards.
  • There is a proposal in place that would take effect for grants submitted in the fall of 2017. This new process would be based on a “grant support index.” (GSI) The GSI is a function of the number of “R01 equivalents” — not dollars or percent effort on R01s.
  • Dr. Shupnik noted that there are many unknowns with this new system. Unanswered questions include:
    • How will multi-PI grants will be scored?
    • How will large, complex grants be counted?
    • How will smaller grants or institutional grants be scored?
    • Additionally: There may be institute-specific aspects to this process.
  • NIH is soliciting input from the scientific community.
    • Updates can be found on “Open Mike,” Mike Lauer’s blog on the NIH website: https://nexus.od.nih.gov/all/category/blog/
    • For previous discussions, refer to the May 2 and January 26 blogs — “Research Commitment Index”.
  • This is still an open discussion at the NIH. Dr. Shupnik, Dean Wilkes, and Dr. Shannon urged chairs to share with their faculty that now is the time to come forth with ideas.
  • Given this new process, Dean Wilkes urged for more diversification of our research portfolio, and to look to other agencies and sources of funds.
  • Please share this information with faculty.

Be Wise (Margaret Plews-Ogan, MD)

  • Be Wise is a Health System-wide effort to allow us to do our best at work and be our best at work. The program will:
    • Enhance individual resilience and interpersonal communication
    • Identify and reduce unnecessary stressors
    • Recognize caregiver stress and know how to respond
  • This leads to improved caregiver wellbeing and the ability to do our best work together.
  • The two arms to Be Wise are prevention and intervention.
  • Over past few months, Be Wise has developed coaching resources. These include: critical conversations, a conversation framework, attention/awareness, self-mastery, stress assessment, communication skills, and resilience practices.
  • Dr. Plews-Ogan shared how best to use the coaches. She asked chairs to invite the coaches to your department or division to deliver presentations or workshops on communication, resilience practices, and the stress continuum.
  • With Dr. Randolph Canterbury’s assistance, Be Wise has developed the Henry Harrison Wilson award. This award — run by students — encourages medical students to catch faculty in the process of doing something well, with regards to the humanistic delivery of healthcare.
  • Plews-Ogan also shared that as part of the Be Wise initiative there is an interdisciplinary committee working on helping people to respond effectively to discriminatory behavior whether from patients, visitors, staff or faculty. The Be Wise program will also include promoting the existing disclosure and peer-support program. Chairs can contact Dr. John Schorling for any of these coaching resources.
  • A Be Wise website with resources is coming soon.

The next meeting will be Tuesday, June 13, 2017, in the BIMS classroom.

Photo: JFDP Deliver Scholarly Projects

Back in February, we wrote about the Junior Faculty Development Program. This is a program that provides networking, social opportunities, and peer mentoring among colleagues who are at a similar stage in their career; promotes the development and advancement of junior faculty through seminars and mentored scholarly projects; and facilitates mentoring relationships between senior and junior faculty.

On April 19, the first cohort of 12 junior faculty members presented their scholarly projects.

From left to right:

  • Kelly G. Gwathmey, MD, Assistant Professor of Neurology
  • Kelly B. Mahaney, MD, Assistant Professor of Neurological Surgery
  • Laahn H. Foster, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine
  • Michael K. Keng, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine
  • Jeanetta W. Frye, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine
  • Jonathan S. Black, MD, Assistant Professor of Plastic Surgery
  • Sana F. Khan, MBBS, Assistant Professor of Medicine
  • Amanda M. Kleiman, MD, Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology
  • Gilbert R. Kinsey, DPHARM, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medicine
  • Simon J. Lehtinen, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine
  • Sula Mazimba, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine
  • Anuj Singla, MBBS, Instructor of Orthopaedic Surgery

Congratulations to all!