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    CFAS News Previous Edition

    President Biden’s COVID-19 Diagnosis Prompts Reflection on Public Health; New Agency to Oversee Pandemic Response; Dr. Monica Bertagnolli Likely to Become NCI Director; and Other Items of Interest

    After news that President Joe Biden tested positive for COVID-19, an op-ed in the Washington Post explored public health lessons that can be gleaned from the White House’s response. “Biden should use his illness as an opportunity to inform the public that covid-19 is a manageable disease for almost everyone, so long as they use the tools available to them,” wrote Leana Wen, MD. “It’s crucial to test as soon as someone develops symptoms, and if they’re positive, to isolate right away. Let people they’ve exposed know that they should take necessary precautions. Then, take advantage of available treatments. The earlier the better; don’t wait until symptoms become severe to initiate Paxlovid.” A regular Post contributor, Dr. Wen is an emergency physician and professor of health policy and management at George Washington University.
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    White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre issued a statement on the president’s diagnosis, outlining the treatment and quarantine regimen he’s currently undergoing. “Consistent with White House protocol for positive COVID cases, which goes above and beyond CDC guidance, he will continue to work in isolation until he tests negative,” the statement read. “Once he tests negative, he will return to in-person work.”
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    Politico reported on the challenges state health agencies across the country have had in dealing with the highly infectious BA.5 variant, noting that as cases have moved “skyward,” and hospitalizations and deaths are also rising, the U.S. public and policymakers appear ready to move on from COVID-19 — often at the expense of bold ideas or efforts to contain the pandemic. The piece noted that generally the practices for managing the likely widely underreported 130,000 cases per day are the same as what they were for the reported 30,000 daily cases four months ago.
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    Some in the infectious disease and research community are calling for an Operation Warp Speed 2.0 to improve the next generation of coronavirus vaccines in the era of BA.5, given the variant’s ability to evade barriers put into place by the current COVID-19 vaccines, reported The Hill.
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    The Hill also ran an opinion piece written by a public health expert noting that as we learn more about the effects of long COVID-19, people should be more vigilant about being up to date with vaccines and masking up in public settings.
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    Howard Foreman, MD, MBA, the director of the MD/MBA program at Yale School of Medicine and director of the Health Care Management Program at Yale School of Public Health, co-wrote an opinion piece in The Hill on the shortfalls in the United States’ health care system that have translated into a lack of knowledge of long COVID-19, even after two years of the pandemic. “From the allegedly most sophisticated health care system in the world, we cannot generate basic data that are paramount to supporting the population’s health. The lack of data reflects a gaping hole in our public health system, modeled on federalism. As the recent Meeting America’s Public Health Challenge report from the Commonwealth Fund concludes, fragmentation and lack of unified public health data systems continue to thwart proactive responses to COVID-19 and other health threats, as we lack accurate, real-time and generalizable data about the public’s health. While the National Institutes of Health’s [NIH’s] efforts in funding important cohort studies like NIH Recover should be applauded, they represent a whack-a-mole strategy when a far more systematic and reliable approach is essential to rebuild the public’s trust in our public health system and its recommendations.”
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    According to a new study published in Hypertension, the American Heart Association’s journal, high blood pressure can double the risk of severe cases of COVID-19, even after full vaccination. The Associated Press covered the study.
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    The Biden administration is creating a new division within the Department of Health and Human Services by elevating the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response to its own operating division, the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response, reported the New York Times. The move is meant to coordinate the nation’s response to pandemics and other health emergencies, granting what is now effectively a new federal agency oversight of health logistics including the Strategic National Stockpile and contracting for and distributing vaccines in an emergency.
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    Monica Bertagnolli, MD, a surgical oncologist at Dana-Farber Cancer Center and professor at Harvard Medical School, will be named by the Biden administration as the new director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), reported STAT and Science. The $7 billion agency funds the majority of U.S. cancer research and is central to the White House’s Cancer Moonshot effort. Dr. Bertagnolli would become the first woman to lead the NCI.
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    CNN covered how monkeypox is being treated and the symptoms that develop during the course of the disease. And the U.S. Government has laid out a set of research priorities to address the outbreak. Led by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), the Monkeypox Research Priorities Team has outlined a research plan to speed science and enable the U.S. and global monkeypox outbreak response, setting aside $140 million for the effort, according to a White House statement.
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    The American Hospital Association (AHA) is criticizing the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS’) 2.7% payment increase for outpatient care as inadequate considering continuing financial challenges faced by hospitals, reported Healthcare Finance. The payment rate was recently released as part of the CMS’ 2023 Outpatient Prospective Payment System and Ambulatory Surgical Center Payment System proposed rule. But both the AHA and America’s Essential Hospitals applauded the CMS’ decision to end payment cuts to the 340B drug discount program.
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    The 2023 Medicare physician fee schedule also gave the greenlight to align its billing requirements with recent evaluation and management guideline changes, which were recommended by the American Medical Association (AMA), reported Health Leaders.
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    Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Robert Califf, MD, initiated an external review of the agency’s food and tobacco programs by the Reagan-Udall Foundation in the wake of baby formula shortages and concerns about flavored nicotine products, reported the New York Times.
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    The Justice Department disrupted a North Korean state-sponsored hacking campaign that targeted hospitals and other medical facilities, recovering about $500,000 in ransom payments, reported the Wall Street Journal.
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    AMA President Jack Resneck Jr., MD, said that prior authorization and other “hassle factors” are some of the biggest causes of physician burnout, reported Medpage Today.
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    Arthur Lazarus, MD, MBA, adjunct professor of psychiatry at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University in Philadelphia, contributed an opinion piece to MedPage Today on the importance in medical education of taking individual student learning preferences into account, creating a hybrid learning environment that goes beyond traditional learning and case-based learning.
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    AAMCNews covered efforts to improve skin cancer care for people with darker skin, since patients and providers often don’t recognize warning signs on darker skin.
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    Nature described how collaborations between American and Chinese researchers can still be protected and cultivated by the government despite espionage concerns.
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    The New Yorker explained the power of narrative in medicine and why storytelling is a part of being a good doctor.
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    Patient care is still the jurisdiction of health care practitioners, but artificial intelligence is showing promise in empowering medical imaging and helping to fight the growing burden of chronic conditions, reported Becker’s Hospital Review.
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    While the physician profession hasn’t historically been seen as a haven of organized labor, Modern Healthcare reported that attitudes may shift as more practicing physicians become employees of health systems and companies and after the pandemic made some doctors reconsider the benefits of collective advocacy to improve working conditions and patient care.
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    STAT profiled a summer training program sponsored by Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital that introduces young Indigenous people to medicine. “To say there are few Native American or Alaska Native physicians in the United States is putting it mildly. There are only 3,400 — that’s less than 0.4% of the more than a million physicians practicing in the U.S. The numbers are not increasing because trainees are also scarce in medical school; 43% of the nation’s medical schools enrolled no Native American/Alaska Native students in 2019,” the article stated.
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    Diverse Issues in Higher Education covered the AAMC’s newly released competencies for building diversity, equity, and inclusion in medical education and patient care.
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    Demand and starting salaries for physicians seems to be rebounding after the downward pressure of the pandemic’s first year, reported Health Leaders.
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    The Washington Post detailed the increasing burden of climate change-related health issues that are pushing hospitals to the breaking point.
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    The No Surprises Act went into effect on Jan. 1 but hasn’t fully stopped surprise medical bills because 1 in 5 patients still received an unexpected medical bill in 2022, reported Health Leaders.
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    The Texas Medical Association wrote a letter last week saying that some hospitals in the state have reportedly refused to treat patients with major pregnancy complications for fear of violating the state’s ban on abortion, reported the Associated Press.
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    The NIH awarded Virginia Commonwealth University’s MD-PhD program the Medical Scientist Training Program grant. The $1.2 million, five-year grant will partially defray the cost of tuition and stipends for up to six trainees per year.
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    Anthony Fauci, MD, plans to retire by the end of President Biden’s term in Jan. 2025, reported the Associated Press. Dr. Fauci has served as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, and has led research in HIV/AIDS, respiratory infections, Ebola, Zika, and COVID-19. During these last two years, Dr. Fauci has been the public face of the United States’ response to the coronavirus.
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    Vasan Ramachandran, MD, has been named founding dean of the University of Texas School of Public Health San Antonio. Dr. Ramachandran has served on the faculty of the Boston University School of Medicine and School of Public Health for more than a quarter-century and as principal investigator of the Framingham Heart Study since 2014.
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    Mark Anderson, MD, PhD, has been appointed executive vice president for medical affairs at the University of Chicago and dean of the Division of the Biological Sciences and Dean of the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, effective Oct. 1. Dr. Anderson is director of the Department of Medicine and the William Osler Professor of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and physician-in-chief of the Johns Hopkins Hospital.
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    Joanne Conroy, MD, has been named chair-elect of the AHA in 2024. Dr. Conroy is CEO of Dartmouth Health and former AAMC Chief Health Care Officer.
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    Mona Fouad, MD, has been appointed associate vice president of the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Dr. Fouad is senior associate dean for diversity and inclusion in the University of Alabama at Birmingham Marnix E. Heersink School of Medicine.
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    Vincent D. Pellegrini Jr., MD, professor and vice chair of education and research affairs in the Department of Orthopaedics at the Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center and a former CFAS chair and former member of the AAMC Board of Directors, is the recipient of the American Orthopaedic Association’s (AOA) 2022 Distinguished Clinician Educators Award. The AOA is a CFAS-member society.
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    Elza Mylona, PhD, MBA, has been appointed vice dean for faculty and academic affairs at the University of Texas at Tyler. Dr. Mylona previously served as vice provost for faculty affairs and institutional effectiveness at Eastern Virginia Medical School and has served as the ex officio member of the CFAS Administrative Board representing the AAMC's Group on Faculty Affairs.
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    Kim Templeton, MD, a professor of orthopaedic surgery at the University of Kansas School of Medicine, has been appointed associate dean for continuing medical education at the KU School of Medicine. Dr. Templeton has also been a CFAS rep from the American Orthopaedic Association and the American Medical Women’s Association.

    Barbara Kazmierczak, MD, PhD, Gustavus and Louise Pfeiffer Research Foundation MD/PhD Program director and professor of medicine (infectious diseases) and microbial pathogenesis has been named vice chair, Basic Research, for the Department of Internal Medicine at Yale School of Medicine.
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    Stephanie White, MD, has been named senior associate dean for medical student education at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine. Dr. White is a professor of pediatrics at the UK College of Medicine.
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    Jason Hall, MD, has been named surgeon-in-chief and chair of the Department of Surgery at Tufts Medical Center and professor of surgery and Benjamin Andrews Chair of Surgery at Tufts University School of Medicine. Dr. Hall previously served as chief of the Section of Colon and Rectal Surgery in the Department of Surgery, director of the Dempsey Center for Digestive Disorders at Boston Medical Center, and associate chair of faculty development and academic affairs at Tufts University School of Medicine.
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    A.M. Barrett, MD, is joining the University of Massachusetts T.H. Chan School of Medicine as chair and professor of neurology. Dr. Barrett also has been named chief of the Neurology Service at the VA Central Western Massachusetts Healthcare System.
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    David Anthony “Andy” Clump, MD, PhD, has been named Radiation Oncology department chair at West Virginia University School of Medicine, effective Sept. 19. Dr. Clump will join WVU from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, where he has served as medical director at the Mary Hillman Jennings Department of Radiation Oncology at Shadyside Hospital.
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    Kevin Grumbach, MD, is stepping down as chair of the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine after 19 years of service. Megan Mahoney, MD, will become the new chair, effective Sept. 12. Dr. Mahoney is professor of medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine and chief of staff of Stanford Health Care.
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    Susan Ingram, PhD, has been named vice chair of Research in the Department of Anesthesiology and the inaugural Richard Traystman, PhD, Endowed Chair in Anesthesiology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. Dr. Ingram previously served as a professor of neurological surgery at the Oregon Health and Science University.
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    Arthur Ollendorff, MD, has been named associate dean for graduate medical education at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine. He will serve in the role while also acting as the designated institutional official for all graduate medical education programs at Carilion Clinic. Dr. Ollendorff is a professor in the departments of OB/GYN and health systems and implementation science at the VTC School of Medicine.
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    Joseph Uberti, MD, PhD, professor of internal medicine and chief of the Division of Hematology, will become the interim leader of the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute and chair of the Wayne State University School of Medicine’s Department of Oncology beginning Sept. 30.
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    Kathleen Nelson, MD, who chaired the CFAS predecessor Council of Academic Societies (CAS) and oversaw the transition of CAS to CFAS as chair of the then-new AAMC council, is the recipient of the AAMC Group on Faculty Affairs 2022 Carole J. Bland Phronesis Award. Dr. Nelson is a clinical professor of pediatrics at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California.
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    Michael Brown, MD, MSc, professor and chair of emergency medicine at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, has been appointed deputy editor-in-chief for Cochrane Evidence Synthesis & Methods, a new open access journal launching in 2023. Dr. Brown is a CFAS rep from the Association of Academic Chairs of Emergency Medicine.

    “I’m still a normal 13-year-old,” said Alena Analeigh Wicker, who has just been accepted to UAB Heersink School of Medicine as she is wrapping up two separate undergraduate degrees in biological sciences. The Washington Post profiled the very young medical-student-to-be, who also founded with a friend an organization called Brown STEM Girl, which supports and boosts girls of color in STEM fields. “What is age?” Alena asks in the profile.
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    Apparently, people often make exceptions to the fabled “five second rule,” which would have us believe that as long as that buttered side of your English muffin has been on the floor for five seconds or fewer, it’s still just fine to pop it in your mouth and chew — but it’s not the exception you might initially think. In a survey for a hygiene and infection prevention solution company called Ecolab, test subjects revealed that they consider some places so clean that the five second rule can safely be extended to 10 seconds. Included in those extra safe environments? Hospitals or medical facilities.
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    And finally, the interaction between plants and animals is well known — bees pollinate, spiders build webs among branches, and of course all manner of insects chew away at leaves and berries — but you might not necessarily think about your part in that plant-insect relationship as you settle in with your nice cup of fresh tea. Smithsonian magazine reported on research showing that a single tea bag can contain the DNA remnants of hundreds of crawling creatures. A paper, evocatively titled “The Bug in a Teacup — Monitoring Arthropod-Plant Associations with Environmental DNA From Dried Plant Material,” published in Biology Letters in June, described how the scientists found 1,200 different arthropod species upon analyzing just four plants: chamomile, mint, tea, and parsley. Ick factor aside, the researchers note that their work will help scientists better understand endangered insect species as well as pests that threaten crops. So put the bugs out of your mind and drink up!
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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.

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