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AAMC’s David Skorton on Gun Violence; Lasker Award Winners Announced; Med School Dean Transitions; and Other Items of Interest

AAMC President and CEO David J. Skorton, MD, wrote an op-ed for USA Today that outlined steps the nation should take to stop the epidemic of gun violence, with an eye toward the role those in health care play in finding a solution. “It begins with recognizing that gun violence is a public health crisis and that, like any public health crisis, there is no single solution. The problem is multifaceted and so must be our approach. Any effective response to the gun violence epidemic will need to involve government, business, the nonprofit sector and other institutions. Those of us in the health care field have a central role to play,” Dr. Skorton wrote.
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The CEOs of 145 U.S. companies wrote a letter to Senate leaders urging them to expand background checks for firearms sales and enact “red flag” laws, reported the Washington Post. “Doing nothing about America’s gun violence crisis is simply unacceptable and it is time to stand with the American public on gun safety,” the executives wrote.
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The Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation announced the 2019 Lasker Award winners this week. Max Cooper, MD, and Jacques Miller, BS Med, PhD, DSc, were awarded the Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award for helping to launch the course of modern immunology through their discovery of B and T cells. H. Michael Shepard, PhD, Dennis Slamon, MD, PhD, and Axel Ullrich, PhD, were awarded the Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award for their invention of the life-saving cancer therapy Herceptin. Also, the Lasker-Bloomberg Public Service Award went to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, for providing sustained access to vaccines to children around the world. Lasker Foundation President Claire Pomeroy, MD, noted in a statement that each of this year’s awardees have made advances in the field of immunology. Considered among the top biomedical research prizes, the Lasker Awards gives an honorarium of $250,000 for each category. Awardees will be honored in a ceremony in New York City on Sept. 20.
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Nancy Brown, MD, has been named dean of the Yale School of Medicine, effective Feb. 1. Dr. Brown is the Hugh Jackson Morgan Professor and chair of the Department of Medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.
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Robert Wilmott, MD, has been named vice president for medical affairs and dean of the Saint Louis University School of Medicine. Dr. Wilmott has served as acting dean and vice president for medical affairs since January and previously served as chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the School of Medicine for 17 years. His term will run until Dec. 31, 2021.
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Brenda Hemmelgarn, MD, PhD, has been named Dean of the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry at the University of Alberta for a five-year term, effective Jan. 1, 2020. Dr. Hemmelgarn is now on faculty at the University of Calgary, where she heads the Department of Community Health Sciences and is a professor in the departments of medicine and community health sciences.
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Larry Kaiser, MD, is stepping down as president and CEO of the Temple University Health System and dean of the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University at the end of this year. Dr. Kaiser has led the School of Medicine and Temple Health since 2011. Emeritus Dean John M. Daly, MD, will serve as interim dean effective Sept. 30.
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Pamela Sutton-Wallace, MPH, is stepping down as CEO of UVA Medical Center to become senior vice president and regional chief operating officer at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, reported Modern Healthcare. Sutton-Wallace has served as CEO of UVA Medical Center since 2014.
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The percentage of Americans lacking health insurance rose from 7.9% in 2017 to 8.5% in 2018, marking the first increase in the uninsured rate since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, reported Politico in a piece that covered data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
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One positive data point hidden in the census data: while nearly 28 million Americans lack health insurance, about half of them are eligible for free coverage or government assistance in purchasing coverage, reported the Washington Post.
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Millions of people who bought individual health policies from insurers will receive a total of $743 million in ACA-mandated refunds if their insurers didn’t spend a big enough share of premium dollars on health care, said the Wall Street Journal.
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“The estimated 15 million Medicare enrollees with diabetes or chronic kidney disease are eligible for [personal nutritional counseling, but Medicare] paid for only about 100,000 recipients to get the counseling in 2017,” reported Kaiser Health News.
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Less than 0.1% of U.S. health care spending is devoted to evaluating which health policies actually work, meaning there is little evidence to inform decision-making on programs such as Medicaid and Medicare, said a piece in the New York Times by Austin Frakt, PhD, director of the Partnered Evidence-Based Policy Resource Center at the VA Boston Healthcare System and associate professor at Boston University School of Public Health.
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ProPublica explored what exactly “Medicare for All” is in a lengthy piece that covered everything from the origin of the term to the history of health care reform in America and where the current presidential candidates stand on a single-payer health care system.
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Three faculty at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine — Marianne Green, MD, senior associate dean for medical education, Diane Wayne, MD, vice dean for education and chair of the Department of Medical Education, and Eric Neilson, MD, vice president for medical affairs and Lewis Landsberg Dean — wrote an editorial in JAMA that described how medical education should change to address some of the seemingly intractable issues in American health care. “Improving health care in the United States will require careful consideration of future needs of the population as reflected in the physician workforce and the skills and competencies students and trainees will need to modernize clinical practice,” they wrote.
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Cancer patients are increasingly turning to crowdsourcing websites, especially GoFundMe, to help pay for travel, alternative treatments, funeral expenses, and other costs associated with their care, reported Becker’s Hospital CFO Report in coverage of a study in JAMA Internal Medicine.
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After 450 lung illnesses and at least five deaths were attributed to using e-cigarettes, the American Medical Association urged Americans to stop vaping, called on doctors to inform their patients about the dangers of the activity, and asked the FDA to accelerate regulation of e-cigarettes and remove all unregulated products from the market, reported Reuters.
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The Trump administration also moved to ban all flavored e-cigarettes, reported the Washington Post.
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And Michael Bloomberg announced he will spend $160 million over the next three years in a partnership between Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids seeking to completely ban flavored vaping products from stores and online. The Huffington Post covered the news.
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Mega-journals such as PLOS One and Scientific Reports, once differentiated from traditional journals for their rapid publishing output, are experiencing drops in publishing volumes, in part due to a decline in submissions, the logistical difficulty of handling large volumes, and the emergence of newer open-access journals, said Science.
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Citing scientific advances that potentially allow researchers to evaluate chemicals faster, more accurately, and at lower cost, the EPA announced it will phase out all experiments on mammals by 2035, reported Science. The article commented on the strong reactions to the decision from both sides of the debate on whether experiments using animals are necessary for research.
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The New York Times also covered the animal testing news and concerns that the move is too ambitious.
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Two members of Congress, Reps. Anna G. Eshoo and Adam B. Schiff, both of California, contributed an op-ed to the Washington Post on a potential national security risk created by a vulnerable supply line of active ingredients in lifesaving, widely used pharmaceuticals — a majority of which come from China. “By cutting back their supply or manipulating prices, China could cause pharmaceutical costs to surge. Or worse, we could experience shortages,” they wrote.
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A team of researchers from medical schools has identified over two dozen biomarkers that may predict whether a soldier coming back from a war zone has PTSD. Researchers are now developing a blood test that accurately diagnoses PTSD 77% of the time so far, reported the Wall Street Journal. The article covered a study published in Molecular Psychiatry.
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The Associated Press reported that scientists studying Alzheimer’s are shifting their focus to explore “multiple novel ways of attacking a disease now considered too complex for a one-size-fits-all solution. On the list, researchers are targeting the brain’s specialized immune system, fighting inflammation, even asking if simmering infections play a role.”
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CAR-T cells have proven effective at battling cancer cells, but could they also be used to mend scar tissue in the heart and target other troublesome cells in the body? The New York Times explored the question after Nature published a study that was characterized as a potential “breakthrough paper” by Richard Lee, MD, a professor stem cell and regenerative biology at Harvard University and professor of medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
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Over a period of six years, UVA Health System sued former patients more than 36,000 times, seizing wages, bank accounts, and putting liens on property, in pursuit of more than $106 million unpaid bills, reported the Washington Post and Kaiser Health News. The article also covered how other health systems have navigated the waters of collecting unpaid debt. Later in the week, the Post ran an update to the original story, noting that UVA has announced new policies designed to provide more financial assistance to patients in need, bigger discounts for the uninsured, and a new approach to legal action.
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A piece in the New York Times discussed how to strike a balance between being emotionally supportive toward medical students and trainees when giving feedback while also helping them accept and work through the inevitable discomfort, difficult situations, and tricky conversations that arise during medical education.
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The Los Angeles Times reported on research efforts that appear to put an HIV vaccine in closer reach, noting that scientists are feeling “cautiously optimistic” on the eve of a large-scale clinical trial launching this fall.
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CNBC reported on a Google policy change that will ban online advertisements for “unproven or experimental medical techniques,” which would include several stem cell or gene therapies that have been promoted on the internet. Advertisements for research projects, including clinical trials, would still be acceptable under the policy. The move is meant to curb the use of unscrupulous and potentially dangerous therapies that have spread through online advertising.
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STAT reported on a JAMA Network Open study published last week that investigated the role race and ethnicity play in determining where an ambulance will deliver a patient. Findings suggested that black and Hispanic patients were “more likely to be transported to safety net hospitals compared to white patients living in the same zip code.”
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A piece in NPR pondered how scientists’ access to personal health data should be managed and covered the differing philosophies behind three major health databank projects in the United States.
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A report from the CDC stated, “[d]uring 2007-2016, black and American Indian/Alaska Native women had significantly more pregnancy-related deaths per 100,000 births than did white, Hispanic, and Asian/Pacific Islander women. Disparities persisted over time and across age groups and were present even in states with the lowest pregnancy-related mortality ratios and among groups with higher levels of education.”
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Modern Healthcare covered the debate over whether the 21st Century Cures Act changed the FDA’s review process for better or worse.
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The American Medical Association and Manatt Health released a report that highlighted best practices used in Colorado, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania to increase access to opioid use disorder treatments and called on other states to step up their game and follow suit, said Modern Healthcare.
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NPR discussed how medical schools and medical education stakeholders are adapting to teach future physicians about effective pain management in the midst of an opioid crisis that has everyone thinking about restricting prescription painkillers.
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Physician-staffing firms are waging well-financed campaigns and running TV ads to oppose efforts to limit balance billing, reported Kaiser Health News.
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But nearly eight in 10 Americans support legislation to protect patients from surprise medical bills, and the legislation is highly popular regardless of political party, reported Kaiser Health News.
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Apple is continuing its expansion into health care with an announcement that it will oversee three new studies using data from participants’ Apple devices, reported CNBC. The studies focus on women’s health, hearing, and mobility.
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Perhaps your PJs are your next personal health metrics data tool. Science Daily reported on the next step in “smart sleepwear,” physiological-sensing pajamas its developers at the University of Massachusetts - Amherst call the “phyjama.”
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“Instead of having a knee-jerk rejection of all regulations of the medical profession, doctors should design the regulations themselves … But we have been unwilling to assume this responsibility, only to react with outrage and self-pity when onerous or ineffective regulations are forced on us,” wrote Sandeep Jauhar, MD, a cardiologist, in an op-ed for the New York Times.
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Jane Tillman, PhD, director of the Erikson Institute for Education and Research at the Austen Riggs Center and clinical assistant professor in the Child Study Center at Yale Medical School, wrote an opinion piece in AAMCNews that discussed how providers can cope with a patient's suicide and offered some suggestions for how they can prepare for a patient suicide and manage communication afterward. Key suggestions include educating staff on what to expect after a suicide, offering to meet with the family, creating both short- and long-term plans after the suicide, and ensuring that organizational leaders communicate with a supportive tone.
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The National Academy of Medicine’s Action Collaborative on Clinician Well-Being and Resilience is hosting a Twitter chat on the role of gender in clinician burnout on Sept. 25 from 1 to 2 p.m. ET. Kim Templeton, MD, of the University of Kansas Medical Center and American Medical Women's Association, and a CFAS rep from the American Orthopaedic Association, is among the organizers. Former Council of Academic Societies rep Carol A. Bernstein, MD, is also involved. (On a related note, CFAS will be holding a discussion on diversity and inclusion in academic medicine in its fourth CFAS Tweet Chat on Sept. 19 at 8 p.m. ET. Tweet with #CFASChat and #AAMCCFAS to join that conversation.)
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The Center for Innovation and Leadership in Education (CENTILE) at Georgetown University Medical Center and MedStar Health are co-hosting the 2019 Strategies to Promote Well-Being of Health Professionals in the Learning and Work Environments on Oct. 27-30. Aviad "Adi" Haramati, PhD, who will be named the next CFAS chair-elect at Learn Serve Lead 2019: The AAMC Annual Meeting in November, is chair of the planning committee for CENTILE. A number of CFAS reps also serve on the planning committee and will be presenters at the meeting. Group hotel reservation and standard conference registration rates apply through Sept. 27.
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An article from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) explored the beginning of the tenure of John Fildes, MD, as interim dean of the UNLV School of Medicine and commented on his career as an internationally known trauma surgeon who coordinated the response to the Oct. 1, 2017, mass shooting in Las Vegas that killed 58 people.
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Sue Grigson, PhD, has been appointed chair of the Department of Neural and Behavioral Sciences at Penn State College of Medicine. Dr. Grigson is a professor of neural and behavioral sciences at the College of Medicine and has served as interim chair of the department since October.
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Christopher Cooper, MD, executive vice president for clinical affairs and dean of the University of Toledo (UT) College of Medicine and Life Sciences, has been appointed to serve as vice provost for educational health affairs at UT. Linda Lewandowski, PhD, RN, dean of the College of Nursing, has been appointed to serve as vice provost for health affairs for interprofessional and community partnerships at UT.
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Ann Marie Chiasson, MD, MPH, has been named director of the Fellowship in Integrative Medicine at the Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine - Tucson. Dr. Chiasson has served as interim director since 2017.
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Li Wu, PhD, has been named chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine, effective Nov. 1. Dr. Wu is professor in the Department of Veterinary Biosciences in The Ohio State University (OSU) College of Veterinary Medicine and the Department of Microbial Infection and Immunity at the OSU College of Medicine.
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Allen S. Anderson, MD, has been named professor of medicine and chief of the Janey and Dolph Briscoe Division of Cardiology at UT Health San Antonio. Dr. Anderson is moving from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, and begins his new role Nov. 1.
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The University of Maryland School of Medicine announced three new leadership appointments: Nirav Shah, MD, an associate professor in the Department of Medicine, was named assistant dean for curriculum in the Office of Medical Education; Kathryn Robinett, MD, assistant professor in the Department of Medicine, was named assistant dean of admissions; and John Allen, MD, assistant professor in the Department of Medicine, was named assistant dean for student affairs.
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In a small clinical trial in California, “nine healthy volunteers took a cocktail of three common drugs — growth hormone and two diabetes medications — and on average shed 2.5 years of their biological ages, measured by analysing marks on a person’s genomes. The participants’ immune systems also showed signs of rejuvenation,” reported Nature. The results of the trial were published in Aging Cell.
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But one man apparently has no need to shed years off his biological age: Jeremiah Stamler, MD, a pioneering cardiovascular epidemiologist who will still be teaching, advising colleagues, and leading research at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine when he turns 100 next month. Dr. Stamler’s work recently earned him roughly half a million dollars in NIH funding. The Washington Post reported on Dr. Stamler and his research.
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In case you didn’t already have a reason to go to Hawaii in search of a healthy island lifestyle, a study presented at the American Heart Association’s national meeting and covered in Hawaii News Now showed that hula dancing has a “significant” positive impact on cardiovascular health, including bringing blood pressure levels into a healthier range for study participants. No word on the role wearing a grass skirt plays.
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And finally, while many of you might have been watching (or deliberately not watching) the Democratic primary debate in Houston last night, a relative handful of lucky souls gathered in Harvard’s Sanders Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to witness something far more rarefied: the 2019 Ig Nobel Prize Awards, which famously highlight “research that makes people LAUGH and then THINK.” This year’s Medical Education Prize went to U.S. researchers who studied the time-tested method of clicker training — well known to anyone who has taught a puppy to sit and stay — to train orthopaedic surgeons. The Economics Ig Nobel Prize went to researchers who wrote the paper, “Money and Transmission of Bacteria,” a 2013 study exploring in part the countries whose paper money is most prone to passing infections (pro-tip: wash your hands after paying for dinner with the Romanian leu). The 2019 Ig Nobel Peace Prize went to an international team of researchers who published a paper on the pleasures of scratching an itch, literally. And since CFAS News is a family publication, we will resist describing details of the Anatomy Prize beyond saying it was a French study involving naked and clothed postmen. You’ll have to read the source material yourself if you’re interested, but even that description may be TMI. Parental discretion is advised.
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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.

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

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