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.

Wilkes: School of Medicine Year in Review

Dean David Wilkes

Dear Colleagues: Cruising through the mountains on my bicycle is a great way to clear my head, slow my thinking, and contemplate how much there is to appreciate — such as the beauty of the forest and the valleys, the serenity of being in nature, and the joy that comes from doing what I am passionate about.

Something else that I’m passionate about is serving you in my role of dean. I am so proud of what our faculty and staff do each day to ensure that our patients and our learners have the best experience possible. As I begin my fourth year as dean, I am grateful for what we have accomplished together. Below are some of the highlights that come to my mind. Please remember these are some of the highlights, and is not all inclusive of the many great things that have occurred. So, I will welcome you to comment and let me know what you and your colleagues have done that’s missing from the list!

Match Day 2018

We had a wildly successful Match Day, with 99% of our students matching. Students are going to Yale, Emory, Penn, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, Johns Hopkins, Mass General, and other high-quality institutions. The most popular programs were internal medicine, emergency medicine, ob/gyn, pediatrics, and anesthesiology.

Thanks to the support of our alumni and donors, we are able to provide scholarships that allow our students to graduate with an average debt level that is lower than the national average. And thanks to sound fiscal stewardship, the School is entering its fourthyear of a tuition freeze. Our goal is no tuition increase through 2021.

The McIntire School of Commerce is collaborating with us on a leadership track in the medical school curriculum and has partnered with us to develop a leadership program for graduate students and faculty. These programs will differentiate us from other medical schools while helping our students and faculty learn the skills and qualities needed to flourish as leaders in the field of healthcare.

The education partnership with Inova reached another milestone when all three of the state and national oversight agencies granted formal approval to establish the UVA School of Medicine Inova Campus in Fairfax. The entering class of 2019 will be the first to have the option to complete their third and fourth years at the Inova Campus.

Our medical school class continues to be among the most diverse in the nation. For the sixth year in a row, the SOM received the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award from INSIGHT Into Diversitymagazine. And again, our entering class ranks in the 96th percentile academically of all medical students in the United States.

Since the inception of the graduate programs, the School of Medicine has been training the majority of PhD and Masters students in the biomedical sciences across grounds. However, this year is the first that these PhD and Masters degrees were conferred by the School of Medicine! Twenty students received their PhD, eight received their MS-Clinical Research, and 23 received their MPH.

(l-r) Dr. Gary Owens and MD/PhD student Richard Baylis

I was thrilled that our own Richard Baylis, an MD-PhD student, was selected to attend the 68th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in Lindau, Germany, in late June. He joined 600 young, international scientists who were able to talk with 43 Nobel Laureates and present current research for advice and feedback. He works in Gary Owens’ lab in the Cardiovascular Research Center investigating the influence of inflammation on key cell types thought to regulate the stability of high-risk atherosclerotic lesions.

The Hartwell Foundation again designated the University of Virginia as one of the Top Ten Centers of Biomedical Research. This allows us to nominate researchers for a Hartwell Individual Biomedical Research Award for early-stage, cutting-edge biomedical research with the potential to benefit children. Sanchita Bhatnagar, Assistant Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Genetics, was selected by the foundation as a Hartwell Investigator for 2018-2021.

This year’s U.S. News & World Reportrankings brought us good news, too. On the “2019 Best Medical Schools” list, the School of Medicine moved up one spot to #26 in Research. The rankings reflect the growing strength of our research funding as well as the continued impact of our innovative curriculum. In Primary Care, we went from #24 to #21, making us the top-ranked academic medical center in Virginia for Primary Care based on factors such as assessments by peers and residency directors and the percentage of graduates entering primary care fields.

Our research portfolio grew from $202 million in FY17 to $223 million in FY18! This increase represents hard work by all our faculty, including new recruits and strategic hires who both transferred and brought in new grants. I note that we have a record number of research proposals that include federal agencies and sources other than the NIH, and that concerted efforts are being made to submit collaborative and center proposals in addition to our historically strong individual proposals. I anticipate these will pay off in the near future.

The home of the new Global Genomics and Bioinformatics Institute, our partnership with Inova in northern Virginia, is in its final design phase. We expect to be able to occupy it in the early months of 2020. The mission of the research partnership is to improve the health and quality of life through the application of genomics and associated molecular science. To do this, we will be focusing on the thematic areas of genetics and genomics; structural and systems biology; developmental biology; computational biology, computational engineering and bioinformatics; and biomedically directed engineering.

There are so many accolades that I can’t list all of the recognition our hospital, physicians, and specialty programs received this past year! U.S. News & World Reportdesignated UVA as the #1 Hospital in Virginia for the third year in a row, and identified five specialties in the Top 50, four High-Performing Specialties, and eight High-Performing Common Adult Procedures and Conditions. BlackDoctor.org also named the Medical Center one the 60 “Top Hospitals for Diversity.”

We were recognized with Comprehensive Stroke Center status, received Comprehensive Care Designation for the Pulmonary Hypertension Center, and 193 faculty members — almost 25% of our physicians — are on the Best Doctors in America list! Becker’s Hospital Review recognized UVA on many of its “100 Great Programs” list, including Oncology, Heart, Orthopedics, Neurosurgery and Spine, and Great Hospitals in America.

Seeing all of this recognition summarized — and remember, this is not a comprehensive list — really underscores that the work you are doing is being celebrated nationally for its excellence and quality. It’s exhilarating to be part of an organization that is doing such outstanding work and knowing that our teams are consistently recognized in the national arena. I’m proud of every individual who contributes!

Going forward
The members of my cabinet see their primary role as serving you. To that end, we work to create a work environment that enables excellence, improves organizational structures and processes, enhances the educational experience, and builds external relationships and strengthens development. We strive to ensure a working and learning setting where all are included, welcomed, and provided the opportunity to be their best.

The dean’s office will continue to put effort into the following priorities:

  • Operationalize the UVA Inova Genomics Institute and 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.

Thank you for pausing and reflecting with me on what we accomplished together during this past year. I also want to recognize that many of these accomplishments were made possible by the strong partnership and support from the Medical Center. I am honored to work for you — a group of capable, imaginative, inspiring, and passionate individuals who make up our faculty, staff, and students. Given your talents and drive, I know that the future of the University of Virginia School of Medicine is incredibly bright.

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

“3 Cavaliers” Provides Opportunity for Unique Collaboration

I am excited about the new pilot program, 3 Cavaliers, which begins this month. This rapid seed-funding program is designed to stimulate new ideas and cross-discipline and cross-school collaborations; research ideas that are creative, collaborative, and consequential. It is designed to minimize bureaucracy and maximize flexibility with high-risk, high-payoff projects.

Under 3 Cavaliers, research trios are formed by three faculty members who wish to collaborate on a new idea. This trio must represent at least two disparate disciplines located in different units or schools for projects at a level of $60K or $15K. Projects are for one year and funding is provided immediately.

Vice President for Research Melur K. Ramasubramanian

UVA’s Vice President for Research Melur K. (Ram) Ramasubramanian says, “3 Cavaliers unleashes the creativity of collaborative faculty teams, helping them define consequential research problems at the intersection of disciplines and to move rapidly toward generating powerful solutions. By engaging faculty members across disciplines, the research capacity of the University will be strengthened and faculty teams will be positioned to be highly competitive for extramural support from federal agencies and philanthropic organizations.”

UVA Today recently published an article on the program, which you can read here.

SOM full-time tenured and tenure-eligible faculty are eligible. Additional information is available in on the 3 Cavaliers website, in this brochure and FAQs can be found on the VPR website.

I look forward to seeing the trio teams formed and what they will accomplish.

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

Thinking About Developing Intellectual Property?

The entrepreneurial ecosystem University of Virginia provides knowledge, skills, and funds from many different sources to help develop research ideas. If you have an idea and want it to bloom, there are many ways in which you can get help. Here are a few resources. (You can click on the bold blue print to be connected to relevant links.)


  • Classes & Seminars. Many classes provide education around intellectual property and commercialization of ideas, including the graduate class CELL8401, “The Essentials of Translational Science,” or the “Due Diligence in Seed Funds” course at Darden, in which students work alongside the UVA LVG Seed Fund team in assessing opportunities and learning about investing in science via projects. The Batten Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, too, has a number of such classes. Dr. David Touve coordinates a seminar series called Cornerstone, which brings together MBA students with PhD students in the sciences to focus on the commercialization of projects. Last fall, the PhD students received a semester-long background in the language and tools of early-stage ventures. They discussed how a company might think about commercialization, market sizing, and product pricing. This spring, teams formed around particular inventions which resulted in a presentation project.
  • Entrepreneurship Cup. This University-wide student competition consists of three different stages: concept, discovery, and launch. Each stage has its own competition and run in the fall, winter, and spring, respectively. Students can win $25k for the first two stages, and $50k for the final stage. Click here for more information.
  • Going Pro. Biomedical Engineering’s (BME) program provides BME graduate students hands-on experience to pursue a career in industry by providing an internship, mentoring, and professional development. Students who have completed their second year of the PhD program and successfully passed their comprehensive exam are invited to apply. More information can be found here.


  • Cville Biohub. Development, promotion, and growth of business does not happen in a vacuum; sometimes it takes community. This local group was created to inform and connect the biotech and life sciences communities, to provide pathways for business growth, and to promote the Charlottesville as a center for this dynamic industry. Check out their data and graphics on how UVA is driving innovation in our area. There are 60+ members in this biohub; click here for the list.
  • Galant Challenge. Have a compelling seed- or early-stage-venture? Seeking investors to take it to the next level? This annual event, held in the spring, is sponsored by the McIntire School of Commerce and connects startups from the UVA community with potential investors. In the past few years, this event has successfully funded ventures with more than $1.5M in capital. Click here for details on the 2018 event and stay tuned for details on 2019’s challenge.
  • I-Corps. UVA is one of 89 locations to be named a National Science Foundation (NSF) I-Corps Site. This designation’s purpose is to develop commercial products from federally funded research. This program is orchestrated by Engineering and is focused on customer discovery (e.g., “Who may want this?”) around inventions. UVA receives this funding to train teams of students, faculty and community businesses to inspire effective innovation and entrepreneurial thinking. Two cohorts have been completed with participants from a variety of schools and research topics. About 27 percent of the participants are from the heathcare and medical fields. For more information, click here.
  • i.Lab. The W.L. Lyons Brown III Laboratory, or i.Lab, is a University-wide initiative that supports innovators and entrepreneurs with programs, funding, workspace, mentors, and community. This is the result of 11 schools at UVA collaborating. Check their site for i.Lab events, like workshops and Entrepreneurs + Espresso, throughout the year. i.Lab’s Incubator Program is a 10-week residential program that supports 20-25 early-stage ventures a year and develops new entrepreneurs. Check out the site or contact Sandra McCutcheon to get connected with the Incubator Program.
  • UVA EntrepreneurshipThis site aggregates entrepreneurial resources across from across the University. It lists courses, competitions, communities, conferences, and provides a calendar of events. Other resources found here include available centers, workspaces, and makespaces. Bookmark this page — entrepreneurship.virginia.edu — if you think you may need some assistance and want to know what’s going on across the University.
  • UVA Licensing & Ventures Group. If a faculty member is thinking about starting a company, this is the place to start. This group’s mission is to maximize the impact of UVA’s innovation assets via commercialization, while providing high levels of customer service, value-added business development, new venture creation, and a focus on driving quality transactions. They partner with faculty, entrepreneurs, and investors to bring innovations discovered at UVA into the marketplace. Additionally, they facilitate invention disclosures; patent, copyright, or trademark strategies; licensing and market assessment; and proactive assistance in assessing new ventures based on UVA technology. Each department in the School of Medicine has a specific member of this group assigned to them — please take advantage of their expertise.

This is by no means a comprehensive list, but it provides a general overview of the landscape and offers a starting point where entrepreneurs and innovators can get assistance with their ideas.

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

A Special Message from Dean Wilkes

The July 4 holiday begins the most popular time for summer vacations for many of us. I wish for each of you a well-deserved rest. Prior to vacation season, I’d like to share some good news about our School.

Even though we’ve not reached the June 30 end of the current fiscal year, it’s clear that you have knocked it out of park in all areas of our School’s mission.

In education

  • The incoming class of 156 medical students has a mean GPA of 3.86 and a mean MCAT of 518.27 (the 97th percentile!). This year the class is 57% out-of-state and continues to have good diversity. The BIMS PhD programs have recruited a strong new class of graduate students.
  • 99% of our class matched in outstanding post-graduate programs.
  • Richard Baylis, MD/PhD student in the lab of Gary Owens, attended the 68th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in June, where he and other young investigators from around the world had the opportunity to mingle with and get feedback from 43 Nobel Laureates.
  • All of the accrediting bodies that were required to approve the establishment of the School of Medicine-Inova Campus did so without stipulation. Our admissions team is getting ready to start recruiting the class of 2023, which will be the first class to have the option to do their clerkships at the Inova Campus.

In the clinical realm

  • Over 25% of our physicians are included on the 2017-18 Best Doctors in America list. This is phenomenal!
  • Becker’s Hospital Review recognized our hospital as one of the 100 Great Hospitals in America in 2018.
  • Our hospital continues to be #1 in Virginia.

And in research

  • SOM funding is poised to exceed last year’s totals, thanks to the continued outstanding efforts of all of our faculty and new strategic hires.
  • We scored a 21 on our CTSA application! Although we’ll know more in August, a number of people outside of UVA have confirmed that this is an extraordinary score.
  • The Hartwell Foundation again named UVA as one of its Top Ten Centers of Biomedical Research.
  • The UVA IRBs received accreditation from the Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs, Inc. (AAHRPP).
  • The U.S. News & World Report rankings were further evidence of the extraordinary work you do. Primary Care rose to 21 (from 24) and Research went to 26 (from 27).

Finally, the School is in a strong financial position with operating revenues exceeding expenditures. Year-to-date through May 2018, the School of Medicine had an operating net income of $8 million. The Dean’s Reserve funded $31 million in strategic investments in all mission areas in clinical and basic science departments, as well as in centers. In addition, with strong financial management at all levels, we are entering our fourth consecutive year of no tuition increase for medical students.

You, our faculty, are the reason we have had such a remarkable year and are in a strong position both academically and fiscally. I am deeply grateful to you for your commitment to our shared vision and for your hard work that has resulted in this banner year for our School.

With warm regards,

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

Research Integrity Matters

Dean David Wilkes

The “I” in our University of Virginia Health System ASPIRE value system, which stands for “integrity,” has been on my mind as of late. A few years ago, while at Indiana University School of Medicine, my colleagues and I published an article in Science Translation Medicine (STM), on which I was the senior investigator. I later hired a fellow to reproduce the data in my lab. He was unsuccessful. Simply stated, he was unable to match the success illustrated in the article.

I looked into why this was happening. We discovered that another post-doctorate fellow, the first author on the STM article, had manipulated data. I requested that the institution’s research compliance committee conduct an investigation into possible research fraud. During this investigation, it was discovered that handwritten data did not match the data on the hard drive of an oximeter. This confirmed our suspicion that this post-doctorate fellow had manipulated the data. Because of this incident, the STM article in question will be retracted later this year.

The point: integrity matters.

Science requires open and clean data. This is one of the reasons why our collaboration with AstraZeneca has been so successful — in the lab, our teams work side-by-side with their teams. Additionally, because data requires integrity, I’ve asked Peggy Shupnik, PhD, Senior Associate Dean for Research, to explore how we can help our faculty ensure that what happened to me does not happen to you. As part of an ongoing discussion, we will be exploring options to increase openness, integrity, and reproducibility of research.

Please learn from my experience. As a biomedical enterprise, it is incumbent upon all of us to closely monitor the data we generate. Discovery is not discovery if the data is fiction. I ask all of you to be aware of what is happening in our labs.

While all of the letters in our ASPIRE acronym are important, none of them are worthwhile without the “I” of integrity.

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

Highlights: June MAC Meeting

The School of Medicine’s Medical Advisory Committee (MAC) met on June 12, 2018, 4-5 p.m., in the Biomedical Sciences classroom. Here are highlights from that meeting:

Closed Session
The meeting began with a closed session restricted to department chairs and the dean’scabinet.

Research Integrity
David S. Wilkes, MD
Dean Wilkes discussed the importance of open, clean data that can be reproduced and the importance of monitoring the quality of work that trainees and others are doing in the lab. He underscored these points by sharing his experience about a paper of his, published in Science Translational Medicine, that will be retracted in the next few months.

Dean Wilkes described how a new fellow in his lab at Indiana University was unsuccessful in reproducing data. Dean Wilkes began a probe and discovered that a post-doctorate fellow had manipulated data. Dean Wilkes asked the institution’s research integrity committee to conduct an investigation into possible research fraud. The results confirmed his suspicion and led to the upcoming retraction.

Further stressing the need for open and clean data, Dean Wilkes said one reason the AstraZeneca collaboration is successful is because the AZ investigators are in the lab, side-by-side with our investigators. Everyone is aware of what is happening. He shared that Dr. Shupnik will explore a partnership with the Center for Open Science, based here at UVA.

The next meeting will be on Tuesday, July 10, 2018, in the BIMS Classroom.

Highlights: May MAC Meeting

The School of Medicine’s Medical Advisory Committee (MAC) met on May 8, 2018, 4-5 p.m., in the Biomedical Sciences classroom. Here are highlights from that meeting:

StandPoint Survey
Susan Pollart, MD, Senior Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs and Faculty Development

  • In 2015, the SOM had an outstanding 74% response rate to the AAMC Faculty Forward survey. (The survey is now known as StandPoint.) The survey indicated a number of things the faculty wanted from the Dean’s office:
    • more transparency regarding SOM finances;
    • more communication from the dean’s office about the medical school;
    • more opportunity for participation in SOM governance; and
    • improvement in retaining high quality faculty members.
  • Actions were taken at the dean’s office in follow up to these data.
    • In the areas of communication and governance, Dean Wilkes engaged the SOM faculty senators in regular governance discussions, a department annual review programs was implemented, the Junior Faculty Development Program was launched, and new channels of communication were established (e.g., Dean’s Office Blog, social media, senior leadership attendance at department faculty meetings.).
    • Among the actions in the area of diversity, equity, and inclusion were the appointments of diversity facilitators and development of diversity plans in every department, sharing of best practices, and system-wide unconscious bias training.
    • To help bring transparency to SOM finances, the Financial Advisory Committee was created, the dean and CMO discussed finances in department faculty meetings, and departments received monthly consolidated financial reports.

3 Cavaliers Program
Melur Ramasubramanian, PhD, Vice President for Research

Ram gave an overview of the “3 Cavs,” a pilot program to stimulate new ideas and cross-discipline and cross-school collaborations. It is designed to minimize bureaucracy and maximize flexibility.

  • Research trios are formed by three faculty members who wish to collaborate on a new idea. The trio must cross at least two disparate disciplines located in different units or schools. A faculty expertise database will help researchers find collaborators.
  • Each member of the trio receives a “token” for $20,000, which provides the trio with a total of $60,000 in seed funds. At least 50% of each project must support a trainee who works with the researcher. The remaining funds may be used for non-salary items to support the project. The funds may not be used to pay faculty salaries. Mini-trios, with $5,000 tokens (total of $15,000) are also possible.
  • Projects are for one year. They are semi-randomly selected without peer review, and funding is provided immediately.
  • SOM full-time tenured and tenure-eligible faculty will be eligible to receive a token. The SOM funds one-third of the expense for each token and the VPR funds two-thirds.
  • The VPR’s office is still building the website with an anticipated go-live date in early July and a submission deadline in September. The SOM will send additional details at go-live.
  • Additional information, a brochure, and FAQs are on the VPR website.

2018 General Assembly Session
Federal Legislative and Regulatory Issues
Carol Craig, Government Relations Specialist
Lynne Boyle, Federal Relations Professional

  • The Health System Office of State and Federal Government Relations (“Government Relations”), headed by Sally Barber, works with Health System leadership to establish legislative and regulatory priorities. It coordinates with the academic division on state and federal issues, maintains relations with government officials, and serves as a resource to leadership, faculty, and staff for state and federal governmental matters.
  • Karen Rheuban, MD, is the SOM liaison to Government Relations.
  • Key legislation of the 2018 General Assembly session included:
    • Nurse Practitioner Pathway to Independent Practice (HB 793)
    • Medicaid expansion
    • Certificate of Public Need
    • Opioid/substance abuse
    • Termination of Medically/Ethically Inappropriate Care (HB 226/SB 222)
  • Health System priorities at the federal level include:
    • Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) 340B drug discount program
    • Medicare and Medicaid hospital and physician payments
    • Funding for the National Institutes of Health
    • Student loan programs
    • Regulatory relief for hospitals
    • Opioid abuse
  • State and Federal Dashboards of laws, regulations, and other activities being tracked are posted on the website,

Strategic Hiring Initiative: New Recruits and Exciting Collaborations

At the April 19 General Faculty Meeting, Dean David Wilkes provided updates on a range of topics, one of which was the Strategic Hiring Initiative (SHI). We are over two years into the 5-year plan where we are investing $60 million dollars to hire faculty who will help to strengthen our already outstanding research groups and to catalyze new initiatives and collaborations.

Through 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, and regenerative medicine. These themes build on the strengths of the previously identified areas of cancer, cardiovascular, and neurosciences, and intersect with areas of excellence in imaging, immunology, infectious diseases and genomics/epigenetics.  We have been particularly interested in hiring on the intersections of excellence, to seed future collaborations and interactions between our themes.

Our two most recent SHI hires are:

Imre Noth, MD

Imre Noth, MD

  • Pulmonary & Critical Care Division Chief
  • Has collaborations with Center for Public Health Genomics
  • Is an expert in clinical trial design, genomics, transcriptomics, pharmacogenomics
  • Comes to UVA from the University of Chicago



Ken Walsh, PhD

Ken Walsh, PhD

  • Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Studying the contribution of cumulative mutations in hematopoietic stem cells to a wide range of major chronic diseases including cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, autoimmune diseases, fibrotic diseases
  • Comes to UVA from Boston University


Recent SHI Collaboration in Action
The effect of SHI is not limited to the funding brought by the new hires. They are making an impact through collaborations across departments and across schools. A few highlights include:

  • Two SHI hires in transplant and adaptive cell therapy (Jose Oberholzer and Larry Lum) are part of a successful SIF application with Boris Kovatchev and Stephen Rich to treat and cure Type 1 diabetes.  Two additional SHI hires in Endocrinology (Andy Basu and Rita Basu) have joined this SIF effort, and have begun educational and research collaborations with the Cardiovascular Research Center and the Data Science Institute.
    • This larger diabetes group is mounting an effort to submit ten multi-Principle Investigator grants in response to a special NIH opportunity, which involves four SOM departments and two Engineering departments.
  • In Pediatrics (Sean Moore), is working with colleagues in Medicine (Bill Petri), the Global Infectious Diseases Institute and Alison Criss, and the Gates Foundation to develop a research facility and projects to study the influence of the microbiome on numerous diseases.
  • In Medicine and Biochemistry, Francine Garrett-Bakelman is part of a multiple PI consortium with Mazur Adli and colleagues in Biochemistry between the SOM, the College of Arts and Sciences, and Signature Sciences that is proposing to do research on the human epigenome in response to environmental toxins.
  • In Public Health Science, SHI hire Bob Klesges and colleagues in Psychiatry (Nassima Ait-Daoud Tiouririne, Lee Ritterband, Karen Ingersoll), Emergency Medicine (Chris Hostege), Medicine (L. Blackhall), Nursing (V. LeBaron) and Engineering (Laura Barnes and John Lach) are working together on a SIF project to reduce the burden of addiction, including a project to reduce binge drinking in college students.

The SHI committee, co-chaired by Dr. Coleen McNamara and me, review the nominations from chairs/directors. If you have questions regarding the Strategic Hiring Initiative, please contact Dr. McNamara (cam8c@virginia.edu) or me (mas3x@virginia.edu).

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

Second Cohort of JFDP Deliver Scholarly Projects


Top row, left to right: Andrew Schomer, David Hamilton, John McNeil, Dushant Uppal. Second row: Angie Nishio-Lucar, Elizabeth Gaughan, Andrea Garrod, Scott Sperling. Third row: Brent DeGeorge, Katherine Fedder, Thomas Hartka, Chantal Scott, Gina Andersen, Patrick Cottler. Front: Troy Buer and Susan Pollart

Last year, we wrote about the Junior Faculty Development Program (JFDP), which can be read here and here. 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 11 and 25, the second cohort of 17 junior faculty members presented their scholarly projects, which explored a range of topics including an evaluation of machine learning for assignment of triage severity level in the emergency department, predicting cardiac instability following seizures, contraception and the medically complex woman, and improving access to kidney transplant for Hispanic minorities in the state of Virginia. The list of 2018 JFDP projects can be found here.

Congratulations to the 2017-2018 JFDP participants who graduated from the program!

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