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In this edition:

Message from the Chair

Dear CFAS Colleagues,

With the new academic year in full swing, it is clear that, at least for the foreseeable future, the threat of a recurring upswing in the global pandemic remains a real threat, and we will have to remain alert and ready to respond and adapt to a fluid situation. I feel enormously grateful for the accomplishments of modern biomedical research, for the multiple technological advances, and for the commitment and dedication of a skilled workforce, that despite this real threat and its challenges, we can continue to teach, mentor, and train students; advise and treat patients; pursue scientific discoveries; and serve our institutions and communities. In fact, a graduate class I have been offering in the fall semester for several years now has increased its enrollment by almost 30%. I was able to accommodate a new undergraduate student and two rotation students in my lab, and for the time being, my research group is operating on a normal schedule. For this I am grateful.

Similarly, CFAS has been operating at full capacity. I have met virtually with committee chairs to finalize rosters and leadership commitments for the 2021 – 2022 service year, which starts on November 2021, a day after Learn Serve Lead: The Virtual Experience concludes.

The CFAS Ad Board has also met virtually and discussed a survey conducted by the Program Committee that gauged members’ comfort with an in person CFAS Spring Meeting in 2022. Thank you all for your thoughtful comments! Based on the results of this survey and a lively discussion within the Ad Board last week, we decide to play it safe and forgo the in-person meeting. It was a difficult decision to take, as there were strong, legitimate reasons for both options. Given the high uncertainty about safety, travel restrictions at many institutions, and the need to begin planning a robust meeting program, I hope you will support our decision to organize a virtual meeting and continue to engage with us despite the very real Zoom fatigue we are all experiencing. There will be much more information and more detailed communication on this coming to you soon.

On a high note, the CFAS Connects second season launch last week and hosted a well-attended social hour. We hope to bring you many new ways to get together and stay up-to-date in your social connections with one another through the upcoming year.

In closing, I wish you all a healthy, successful, and fulfilling new academic year. I look forward to your continued support and engagement to distill "the voice of faculty" into a strong and compelling message.

Stay well,

Gabriela K. Popescu, PhD
CFAS Chair, 2019 – 2021

CFAS Participation in Learn Serve Lead 2021: The Virtual Experience

Early bird registration is still available — but ends Oct. 3 — for Learn Serve Lead 2021: The Virtual Experience. The event will explore academic medicine’s greatest challenges while providing an opportunity for attendees to reconnect with colleagues while making new contacts. The meeting will feature six plenary sessions with an array of internationally known speakers, six Voices of Medicine and Society Series sessions, and 30 breakout sessions, including two which were developed through CFAS committee work.

CFAS Advocacy Committee Chair and Ad Board Member Art Derse, MD, JD, will moderate a panel discussion titled, “Science Matters: Defending Public Health Facts in an Era of Empirically False News” on Monday, Nov. 8 from 12:15 – 1:45 pm EST. The speakers for the session will be AAMC Chief Scientific Officer Ross McKinney, MD, CFAS Ad Board Member Vera Donnenberg, PhD, and former CFAS Ad Board Member and former editor-in-chief of Academic Medicine David Sklar, MD.

And on Nov. 10 from 2 – 3 p.m., Faculty Resilience Committee Chair and Ad Board member Cathy Pipas, MD, will lead a session, “We Can’t Afford to Burn Out: Addressing Well-Being and Supporting the Role of Wellness Champions,” which will also feature CFAS rep speakers including Mona Abaza, MD; Jon Courand, MD; and Serina Neumann, PhD. This session will describe the work behind a new report, written by members of this team, that the AAMC will be issuing in October on the notion of wellbeing champions. That report will be made freely available to all CFAS reps when it is available.

Be sure to show your support for these CFAS reps and the work they’re doing by taking part in the sessions and joining in the conversation.

If you haven’t already, there’s still time to register for the meeting.

CFAS Connects: Back to School: Has Pandemic Fatigue Set In?

Last week, CFAS held its first session in what we’re calling the second season of CFAS Connects on pandemic fatigue. The session featured perspectives from four CFAS reps heavily engaged in medical education, clinical work, and biomedical research, followed by a lively conversation of reps on the issues and challenges faced by faculty as they immerse themselves in a second year of teaching, conducting research, and providing clinical care in a challenging pandemic environment. Like all CFAS Connects sessions, the event was recorded and notes along with other resources will be available online on the CFAS Resources page.

The next CFAS Connects event will be an Oct. 20, 2021 CFAS Business Meeting from 3 – 4 pm (Eastern). Knowing that some of you will be unable to attend due to teaching, clinical, or other work schedules, the event will be recorded, and slides and related resources will be published online. Following is a schedule of all CFAS Connects events for 2021-22:

Month Activity Date/Time (all times Eastern)
October CFAS Connects – CFAS Business Meeting October 20, 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.
November LSL Programming / No CFAS Connects (LSL: Nov. 8-10)
December CFAS Connects Session Topic TBD December 16, 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.
January CFAS Connects Session Topic TBD January 19, 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.
February CFAS Connects Session Topic TBD February 17, 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.
March Invited: David Skorton Town-hall discussion March 16, 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.
April CFAS Spring Meeting – TBD programming TBD
May CFAS Connects Session Topic TBD May 19, 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.
June CFAS Connects Session Topic TBD June 15, 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.
July CFAS Connects Session Topic TBD July 21, 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.

CFAS Committee Profile: Biomedical Research and Education Committee (BREC)

For the first feature in a new series of CFAS Committee profiles, we talked with BREC committee chair Rich Eckert, PhD, about the committee's mission, accomplishments, current projects, and more.

Mission: The CFAS Biomedical Research and Education Committee (BREC) works with the AAMC Chief Scientific Officer and the CFAS team to provide opportunities for basic science faculty (in both basic science and clinical departments) to discuss issues of concern. These issues include:

  • The impact of research and other funding trends on faculty vitality and their mission activities
  • Defining, evaluating, and promoting the value of fundamental research to the public, policy makers, and other members of the academic community
  • Training and sustaining the research and basic science educator workforces of the future
  • The committee works with the CFAS Advocacy Committee and other AAMC professional development groups.

Achievements: To accomplish its mission, the committee has facilitated sessions at the CFAS Spring Meetings and the AAMC’s Learn Serve Lead annual meetings on the importance of federal support of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other agencies that fund biomedical research, explaining why sustained funding is required to maintain research careers and how researchers can advocate to enhance this investment and promote the value of research to the public. The committee has sponsored sessions that educate CFAS reps and other AAMC constituents about the importance of research to enhance patient welfare and promote a fertile medical school academic environment. Additional discussions have centered on how to design PhD and MD/PhD scientist training programs to develop the next generation of gifted researchers. The committee also organizes sessions describing how to break down institutional barriers to facilitate transfer of discovery and translational research to the patient bedside.

Benefits: A major benefit of membership in the committee is the opportunity to meet with colleagues to discuss issues of relevance to discovery and translational science, challenges facing research-directed investigators, issues with educating the next generation of faculty, research funding, and many other related topics.

Current Projects: The committee is currently working on two important efforts: Sponsoring a session titled “PhD Education and PhDs as Educators” to identify best practices in educating the next generation of medical researchers, and a session titled “Regulatory Burden and Administrative - I was an Agent of Change,” which will discuss successful practices that reduce regulatory burden to enhance faculty wellness and institutional efficiency.

Communicating with Faculty: The BREC Committee communicates with faculty members via e-mail, at in-person meetings, and at remote Zoom meetings. The in-person meetings are generally at LSL and CFAS Spring Meetings, and Zoom meetings are the preferred method of engagement in the periods between those meetings.

How to become a member: BREC membership is open to all CFAS reps who are interested in BREC-related issues. To join the committee, contact Eric Weissman (eweissman@aamc.org) or Anne Berry (aberry@aamc.org) or the BREC Chair (listed on the CFAS website).

CFAS Society Profile: The Society of Behavioral Medicine

The Society of Behavioral Medicine (SBM) brings together more than 20 independent disciplines – from psychology and nursing to medicine and public health – to provide new perspectives and progress on human behavior, health, and illness. SBM is the nation’s leading scientific society dedicated to behavioral medicine, representing approximately 2,400 researchers, clinicians, educators, and industry professionals who focus on the development and integration of behavioral, psychosocial, and biomedical theory, knowledge, and interventions relevant to the understanding of health and disease. These health professionals work to understand, prevent, and treat chronic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, respiratory diseases, diabetes, and cancer.

SBM offers its members access to a multi-disciplinary group where their experience and expertise plays a vital part and where they can always learn from other health professionals in behavioral medicine. SBM helps members find research funding, jobs, and collaborators, and advances members’ careers and the field of behavioral medicine through special interest groups, webinars, an annual meeting, two journals, and mentoring and consultation programs, among other activities.

“SBM’s vision is ‘Proven Science. Better Health’TM so we are always working to make sure our members’ scientific research is put to use in the real world, including via public health laws and policies,” said Lindsay Bullock, Executive Director of SBM. Lindsay also highlighted three current policy priorities for SBM: (1) educate lawmakers about evidence-based ways to ensure children from all income levels have access to, and actually eat, healthy foods; (2) educate lawmakers about evidence-based ways to best manage pain and combat opioid misuse; and (3) educate lawmakers about the unique health care needs of rural populations and evidence-based strategies to improve their health outcomes and quality of life. A full list of SBM’s policy positions can be found on its website.

The senior CFAS rep for SBM, Jamy Ard, MD, a clinical researcher and professor of epidemiology and prevention at the Wake Forest School of Medicine, commented on some of the current issues facing physicians working in behavioral health, as well as how SBM and CFAS can collaborate.

“I think one of the issues facing physicians in this space includes expanding how we engage patients in conversations around the diagnosis and management of chronic disease in the context of the very real impact of social determinants of health. Physicians are realizing that conversations in the office are simply the start of disease management. We have to connect to community-based infrastructure to complete the delivery of care and to better understand how to promote the adoption of treatment plans.” Physicians working in behavioral health are also leveraging advances in big data and artificial intelligence to provide more tailored interventions to their patients, said Dr. Ard.

In terms of how CFAS and SBM might work together on topics of mutual interest, Dr. Ard highlighted the following possibilities:

  • Collaboration on op-eds, position statements, etc. with the AAMC’s advocacy team.
  • Collaboration on science communications, especially since the ongoing pandemics of COVID-19, systemic racism, and health disparities have included an unbelievable misinformation campaign. Teaming with AAMC on evidence-based methods of communicating science to facilitate behavior change could make a big difference.
  • Many of SBM members are in academic settings and a fair number of those are in academic medical centers. Collaboration with CFAS reps on recommended standards for evaluating promotion and tenure that include valuing science communications, policy publications, and public education as scholarship and education would be important to recruiting and retaining faculty that are passionate about making a difference beyond their immediate sphere.

CFAS-ROCC Tweet Chat on COVID-19 Research

Join us later in October for the rescheduled joint conversation on Twitter with the AAMC’s Council of Faculty and Academic Societies (CFAS) and the AAMC’s Research on Care Community (ROCC) group. The Tweet Chat will focus broadly on COVID-19 research and pandemic prevention and preparedness. This is a great opportunity to highlight your work and share important research and resources.

Anyone with a Twitter account may participate by including “#CFASChat” in their tweets, provided that those tweets are on the topics of the conversation. To see the conversation unfolding in real time, search “CFASChat” on Twitter, go to that page, and monitor the tweets coming in by clicking on the “Latest” tab.

Please share the information about this Tweet Chat with any colleagues you know who would be interested. We hope that junior researchers and researchers from underrepresented backgrounds will participate in this networking opportunity. The transcript of the conversation will be preserved and turned into a web resource that we hope will demonstrate academic medicine’s unique capabilities in combating the pandemic and preventing future pandemics.

Tell Us How You’re Doing in Response to the Pandemic

During this public health crisis, we ask you to keep the lines of communication open so we can provide you with the resources and information that would be most useful. It is helpful for the AAMC to understand in detail what is happening on the ground at the medical schools, teaching hospitals, and academic societies we serve. Please email Eric at eweissman@aamc.org, or call directly at 301-437-2572 with updates or feedback from your perspective. You can also reach out with questions or comments to CFAS Communications Specialist Alex Bolt.

Have you received an honor or award from your society or school? Or have you published a recent paper that you’d like to share with your CFAS colleagues? Please send a note to Eric Weissman or Alex Bolt and we’ll let the rest of the CFAS community know.

If you are looking for information about CFAS, find what you need on our website, from the names of CFAS leaders, to updates on committee and working group initiatives, to upcoming offerings and meetings, and finally, current and previous editions of CFAS News.

Do you have an article or study coming out? A new promotion or professional accomplishment? Let us know and we’ll feature it in an upcoming edition of the CFAS Rep Bulletin.

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