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    CFAS News Current Edition

    AAMC Statement on Spending Bill Passage; Response to Anti-DEI Measures; AAMC Joins Amicus Brief Supporting HHS on EMTALA Preemption; and Other Items of Interest

    AAMC President and CEO David J. Skorton, MD, and Chief Public Policy Officer Danielle Turnipseed, JD, MHSA, MPP, issued a statement regarding passage of the second and final package of six fiscal year (FY) 2024 appropriations bills for the federal government. “The AAMC is pleased that the U.S. Congress has passed a FY 2024 spending package that preserves funding for critical health care programs and services that are integral to supporting the academic medicine community and the patients they serve.”
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    Health care and medical associations across the country made a statement in support of diversity, equity, and inclusion policies in health care as a means to help improve the health of the nation. “We represent organizations and health care professionals in the United States, including physicians of varied specialties and backgrounds, who have dedicated their entire careers to improving patient outcomes. For decades, we have strived to equip physicians with the best tools and evidence so our patients receive the highest quality care possible. Our efforts to promote DEI seek to address the long-standing and well-documented inequities in our health care system and its impact on the health of our patients and communities,” read the statement in part. The statement was released by the AAMC, the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, the American Board of Medical Specialties, the American Medical Association, the American Osteopathic Association, the Council of Medical Specialty Societies, the National Board of Medical Examiners, the National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners, and the National Resident Matching Program®.
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    A letter co-authored by David J. Skorton, MD, AAMC president and CEO, and Alison J. Whelan, MD, AAMC chief academic officer, was published in the Wall Street Journal. The authors assert that a previously published op-ed “mischaracterizes the way medical schools establish curricula, including considerations of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Teaching related to DEI, health equity, and the care of our diverse population supplements, but in no way replaces, a strong focus on the latest science and evidence on human health and disease.”
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    Science published an editorial by Shirley Malcom, senior advisor and director of the STEM Equity Achievement Change initiative at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, on strengthening the case for DEI initiatives as a backlash to DEI initiatives is taking hold. “STEMM should ideally benefit all of society,” she writes. “However, this will not happen until the country creates a STEMM community as diverse as the population it should serve.”
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    Reuters reported on a case argued before the Supreme Court this week restricting access to the drug mifepristone for medical abortions. Several justices questioned the appropriateness of the court challenging a drug that has been repeatedly deemed safe and effective by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and seemed to undercut arguments that the group bringing the case had the standing to do so, noting that there are existing laws that shield health care workers who do not wish to perform or assist in abortions. The AAMC additionally submitted a brief in the case.
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    The AAMC joined the American Hospital Association (AHA) and America’s Essential Hospitals in a March 18 Supreme Court amicus brief asking the court to affirm the district court’s preliminary injunction in a case involving an Idaho statute that makes it a crime for health care providers to terminate a pregnancy without making an exception for stabilizing care, as the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) requires. Providers seeking to comply with EMTALA could face felony charges and the loss of their professional licenses. The brief explains that the threat of criminal and professional sanctions interferes with the exercise of expert medical judgment and intrudes upon the relationship between a patient and their physician.
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    AAMCNews covered the long history of medical research underrepresenting women in clinical trials and other areas of research, leading to gaps in knowledge to this day regarding the effectiveness of many common drugs and medical devices for women. “Historical bias, policies designed to shield unborn children from exposure to drugs and treatments, and ongoing challenges to recruiting and retaining women in clinical trials and medical research limit the understanding of how women, and particularly women of color, experience disease and how best to treat them for many conditions,” reported AAMCNews.
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    The Washington Post covered an update – the first in about a quarter-century – on how the U.S. government classifies people by race and ethnicity. The goal is to provide policymakers a fuller picture of U.S. diversity and how it affects society. Two notable changes is the combining of race and ethnicity into a single question, and adding “Middle Eastern and North African” (MENA) as a new category, allowing those with this heritage to check a box other than “white.”
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    President Joe Biden is curtailing the Trump-era expansion of short-term health insurance plans, limiting the duration of new sales of the plans to three months with the option of renewal for a maximum of four months, reported CNN.
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    An opinion piece in USA Today explored how responsible implementation of artificial intelligence can help get medicine back to its humanistic roots and make patients feel heard. The piece was written by Joan Perry, MD, a pediatrician, the chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Lenoir Memorial Hospital in Kinston, North Carolina, and an adjunct assistant clinical professor of pediatrics at East Coastal University and the University of North Carolina School of Medicine; and Victor Agbafe an MD-JD student at the University of Michigan Medical School and Yale Law School.
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    Relatedly, a study supported by the National Institutes of Health analyzed Facebook posts using AI and found that standard language-based computer models were able to predict depression severity for White people but not for Black people, and that Black people with depression used different language to express their thoughts.
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    In other AI news, AAMCNews explored how AI tools are analyzing images and tissue samples to detect cancer sooner and more precisely.
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    MedPage Today covered the advice of Anthony Fauci, MD, to public health students on navigating politically charged topics and the importance of sticking with the science when confronted with misinformation.
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    A report from the Government Accountability Office advised that the FDA should evaluate its efforts to recruit and retain the component of its workforce that is dedicated to conducting inspections in hospitals and other health care settings due to persistent problems with attrition and the long time it takes to train new investigators.
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    Mpox cases are twice as high in the United States as they were around this time last year, but still far below 2022 levels, reported CNN. The article added that vaccination rates are lagging and experts are warning that the country may be vulnerable to a further rise in cases.
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    UnitedHealth Group paid another $1 billion to providers impacted by the Change Healthcare cyberattack since last week, bringing the total amount of relief payments to more than $3 billion, reported CNBC.
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    The Department of Health and Human Services released its Federal Health IT Strategic Plan, which was covered by Becker’s Health IT.
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    The AHA disputed a report from the Lown Institute, a nonpartisan health care think tank, that found charity care from most nonprofit hospitals trails behind the hospitals’ tax breaks, reported Becker’s Hospital CFO Report. “The report cherry-picks categories of community benefit and ignores other areas of great importance by omitting the very real underpayments from Medicaid and Medicare that hospitals must absorb,” said AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack.
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    The AAMC is seeking applications for its 2024 Integrated Behavioral Health Awards as part of the association's continued efforts to support the work of AAMC-member institutions to expand and enhance access to mental and behavioral health care. The deadline to submit applications is April 12.
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    Robert Harbaugh, MD, has been appointed chief medical officer at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. Dr. Harbaugh has served in the role on an interim basis since April 2023. He will also continue to support the outpatient practices affiliated with Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.
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    Naomi Nixon, JD, has been named associate dean for development at the Florida International University Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine. Nixon previously served as senior major gifts officer at the Greater Miami Jewish Federation.
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    Darryl DiRisio, MD, has been appointed chair of the Department of Neurosurgery at Albany Medical Center. Dr. DiRisio had been serving as interim chair since May 2022.
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    Markus Bredel, MD, PhD, has been named chair of the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine’s Department of Radiation Oncology. Dr. Bredel succeeds Alan Pollack, MD, PhD, professor of radiation oncology, who has led the department since 2008.
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    Itzhak Fischer, PhD, is stepping down from his position as chair of the Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy at the Drexel University College of Medicine on July 1. Dr. Fischer has served as chair for the last 25 years.
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    George Mashour, MD, PhD, has been appointed senior associate dean for faculty and faculty development of the University of Michigan Medical School, effective May 1. Dr. Mashour served as chair of the U-M Medical School Department of Anesthesiology and the Robert B. Sweet Professor of Anesthesiology since December 2019. Prior to his chair appointment, he served as associate dean for clinical and translational research and director of the Michigan Institute for Clinical and Health Research.
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    Beethoven’s extraordinary musical ability was apparently not in his genes, it would seem, according to research from Vanderbilt University Medical Center. A team of scientists were able to tell that Beethoven had a “low genetic predisposition for beat synchronization” —a deficit that might have compromised his ability to compose such rhythmically complex music. In a statement from Vanderbilt, the authors noted it would be wrong to conclude from Beethoven’s low polygenic score that his musical abilities were unexceptional. Noted. (See what I did there?) The paper describing the research was published in Current Biology.
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    And finally, it’s official. Teenagers really do smell like goats, according to a paper published in Nature Communications Chemistry. But it’s not limited to that. Other scent profiles detected by a team of German researchers studying how body odors change from infancy into post-puberty included “fruity,” “earthy,” “cheesy,” “fecal, horse stable-like,” and thankfully, “soapy” made it into the mix.
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    Visit the CFAS Resources page for an archive of the previous edition of CFAS News as well as our People of Academic Medicine page, which features a running list of academic promotions, appointments, and departures.

    Your comments and news tips are always welcome. Please email them to Eric Weissman at eweissman@aamc.org.

    Read the previous edition of CFAS News.

    Eric Weissman
    Senior Director, Faculty and Academic Society Engagement
    AAMC
    eweissman@aamc.org
    www.aamc.org/cfas