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CFAS News Previous Edition


Tax Legislation Research Impact; Falling Medicare Margins; “Corrective Statements” from Cigarette Companies; and Other Items of Interest

Both versions of Congress’ tax overhaul could have a lasting impact on U.S. research institutions and the larger U.S. health research landscape because of the proposed 1.4% “excise” tax on endowments, said Modern Healthcare.
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On a related topic, David Nirenberg, PhD, executive vice provost at the University of Chicago, writing in the Washington Post, warned that the legislation would impose tax increases on graduate students, which would in turn hurt the vitality of the American economy and our scientific standing in the world.
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“Congress Isn’t Really Done with Health Care – Just Look at What’s in the Tax Bills” is the headline of an article in Kaiser Health News and NPR today. The piece enumerates several ways the tax bills under consideration will affect U.S. health care, research, and higher education.
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Falling Medicare margins are creating a sense of dread among hospital executives, according to an article in Modern Healthcare. “There is no light at the end of the tunnel other than another train,” said David Ramsey, CEO of Charleston Area Medical Center. The article noted that margins are expected to sink to a negative 10% this year.
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Newspapers and TV began carrying “corrective statements” from spokespeople from the nation’s four largest cigarette makers recently, noted a New York Times op-ed last week. The statements were ordered 11 years ago by Federal District Court Judge Gladys Kessler, who said Philip Morris and other tobacco companies had “marketed and sold their lethal product with zeal, with deception, with a single-minded focus on their financial success, and without regard for the human tragedy or social costs that success exacted.” The piece questioned how “corrective” the statements were, however, noting, “There is no mention of the industry’s long campaign of deception, nothing about what is actually being ‘corrected.’”
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The AAMC ran ads this week in several “inside the Beltway” publications calling on Congress to preserve funding for the 340B program, which allows safety net hospitals to purchase drugs at discounted rates, helping them care for low-income and underserved populations. Additionally, the AAMC, along with the American Hospital Association and America’s Essential Hospitals, continues legal efforts against the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to prevent these cuts.
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An opinion piece in STAT featured a wide-ranging discussion on nonprofit hospitals’ tax-exempt status and the benefits they provide to their surrounding communities. The piece, written by Haider Warraich, MD, a fellow in cardiology at Duke University Medical Center, said hospitals need to do a better job of earning their tax-exempt status.
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In recognition of Worlds AIDS Day 2017 (today), Anthony S. Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and Maureen M. Goodenow, PhD, director of the Office of AIDS Research, issued a statement outlining the NIH response to HIV/AIDS through the years, with an optimistic eye on the potential impact of promising, ongoing work.
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On a related note, STAT published an op-ed by Steven K. Grinspoon, MD, director of the Program in Nutritional Metabolism at Massachusetts General Hospital, on challenges of addressing cardiovascular disease in people ages 50 and over living with HIV.
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The nominee for HHS secretary, Alex Azar, said in a hearing that he plans to lower drug prices through increased competition and that he would also stop pharmaceutical companies from using patent extensions to block generics from entering the market, according to an article in Modern Healthcare.
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Despite the uptick in physicians transitioning to value-based care, 53% remain skeptical and reluctant to move away from the traditional fee-for-service approach, reported Modern Healthcare.
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An article in Academic Medicine explored the issue of faculty burnout, recommending that institutional decision makers focus attention on the evolving expectations for faculty and the risk of extensive faculty burnout. Among the articles coauthors are Darshana Shah, PhD; Roberta Sonnino, MD; and Steven M. Block, MB, BCh, all former CFAS administrative board members from the AAMC Group on Faculty Affairs.
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Ending DACA will be hard on many medical trainees but even harder on our health care system, which desperately needs them, said Clarence Braddock III, MD, MPH, vice dean for education at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and Kelsey C. Martin, MD, PhD, dean of the David Geffen School of Medicine. The two wrote an op-ed published in U.S. News and World Report.
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Darryl S. Weiman, MD, JD, wrote an op-ed in the Huffington Post on the need for a greater number of academic faculty in light of physician shortages. Dr. Weiman is professor of surgery at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.
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FierceHealthcare explored the question of whether health care needs a virtual medicine specialty.
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A short supply of the disabled viruses used in many forms of gene editing to insert good genes into cells that lack them is hampering widespread adoption of gene-editing treatments, reported the New York Times. A major reason for the short supply is the time and money needed to develop custom-made viruses in specialized facilities for each treatment.
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An article in STAT discussed efforts to make bacteriophage therapy more common and accessible.
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CNN covered a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report that concluded the VA failed to report potentially dangerous doctors, putting patients “at risk [of] receiving unsafe medical care.”
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A perspective in the Washington Post offered an in-depth discussion of the best ways to treat depression based on the latest research. Nathaniel Morris, MD, a resident physician in psychiatry at the Stanford University School of Medicine, wrote the piece.
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Another article in the Washington Post profiled street medicine programs that take health care to homeless people wherever they are. The article noted that although street medicine has been around since the 1980s, it has blossomed from a few dozen programs into more than 60 in only the past five years.
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The AAMC’s November Analysis in Brief describes trends in racial and ethnic minority applicants and matriculants to U.S. medical schools.
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Wayne State University announced today a $10 million philanthropic boost for its Wayne Med-Direct program. The gift from philanthropist Mort Harris will help fund a cohort of academically gifted high school students from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds, especially those interested in studying health disparities. Students are simultaneously admitted into an undergraduate program and Wayne State’s School of Medicine with full scholarships.
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The December issue of Academic Medicine is online and features content on health humanities and medical education, teaching cultural awareness, and self-financing medical education, among other topics. CFAS reps David Sklar, MD, and Sidney Weissman, MD, are among the authors in the issue.
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The 2018 Breakthrough Prize ceremony on Dec. 3 will recognize top achievements in the fields of physics, life sciences, and mathematics with an impressive lineup of celebrity hosts: Morgan Freeman, Wiz Khalifa, Nana Ou-Yang, Ron Howard, Mila Kunis, and Ashton Kutcher, among others.
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Stephen T. Bartlett, MD, has been appointed executive vice president and chief medical officer at the University of Maryland Medical System, effective Jan. 1. Dr. Bartlett is the Peter Angelos Distinguished Professor in Surgery and chair of the Department of Surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
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Matthew Kulke, MD, has been appointed chief of the Section of Hematology/Oncology in the Department of Medicine at Boston Medical Center and Zoltan Kohn Professor of Medicine at Boston University School of Medicine, effective March 1. Dr. Kulke serves as the director of the Program in Neuroendocrine and Carcinoid Tumors at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
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John E. Tomaszewski, MD, has been appointed the inaugural Peter A. Nickerson, PhD, Professor and Chair of the Department of Pathology and Anatomical Sciences at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University of Buffalo (UB). Dr. Tomaszewski has served as professor and chair of pathology and anatomical sciences at UB since 2011.
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Robert K. Horowitz, MD, has been named chief of the Division of Palliative Care and the Georgia and Thomas Gosnell Distinguished Professor in Palliative Care at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC). Dr. Horowitz previously served as clinical director, acting chief, and interim chief of URMC’s Palliative Care Program.
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Brooke Solberg, PhD, has been named chair of the Department of Medical Laboratory Science at the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS), effective Jan. 1. Dr. Solberg serves as associate professor and graduate program coordinator in the department.
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Stephen Jarvis, MD, has been appointed interim chair of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Missouri–Kansas City School of Medicine. Dr. Jarvis previously served as the associate chief medical officer and clinical department chair for psychiatry at Truman Medical Centers.
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James Pacala, MD, has been appointed chair of the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at the University of Minnesota Medical School. Dr. Pacala is a professor and associate chair in the department.
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Riqiang Yan, PhD, has been appointed chair of the neuroscience department at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. Dr. Yan serves as the Morris R. and Ruth V. Graham Endowed Chair, and professor and vice chair of neurosciences at Cleveland Clinic.
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Due to Hurricane Irma, the AAMC had to reschedule its annual Minority Faculty Leadership Development Seminar. It will now take place Jan. 11–14, 2018, in New Orleans. The meeting is designed for early career faculty and postdocs who aspire to leadership positions within academic medicine and provides opportunities for guidance on career advancement, networking, grant writing, and communication skill building.
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You’re working in the ER and an unconscious patient is admitted with the words “Do Not Resuscitate” literally tattooed across his chest. What do you do? Gizmodo tells the true story, as described in a New England Journal of Medicine case report. Only in Florida.
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The NIH briefly launched a puppycam! The streaming event showed puppies getting trained as service animals for military veterans. Inverse Science covered the cam. If you need a little relaxation therapy right now, you can watch a recording.
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And finally, we just can’t get a break from all the bad news these days. The New York Times covered a study this week confirming your worst fears about eating raw cookie dough. Turns out that a type of E. coli bacteria known to contaminate raw meat also thrives in flour, so the risk of licking batter from mixer blades isn’t just linked to raw eggs. I know, I know—this is the worst news you’ve heard all year, but on the bright side, at least CNN reported today that eating chicken soup actually may help the common cold.
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Find more news items on AAMC's Research Clips page, and visit the CFAS Resources page for an archive of the previous four editions 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.

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