August 2011

August 2011

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Welcome to the August edition of Round Table…

…and welcome to the beginning of a new academic year. Earlier this month our incoming undergraduate class participated in the traditional White Coat Ceremony. Much is changing in medicine and in the world around us, but it's nice to see some traditions remain. At 156 students, this year's class is our largest UVA School of Medicine class in history! Like its predecessors the new class is highly talented, diverse and includes students from many states and territories. With the evolving Next Gen curriculum, students are learning about the practice of medicine in a very different way than most of us did when we went to medical school. They are learning in a team-based environment (beginning with the Myers-Briggs exercise) and by incorporating Team-Based Learning into everyday activities – including an exercise around patient safety during orientation. They are a lively bunch of inquiring minds who I know will take away a lot from their four years here, and also will give a lot to the school and to the community. We wish them well as they immerse themselves in the life of the School and Central Virginia for the next four years.

This summer also marked the opening of a new imaging technology to aid in research in diagnosis and treatment of patients. The technology uses PET scanning (positron emission tomography) to benefit patients with cancer, Alzheimer's disease, heart disease, drug addiction, traumatic brain injury and other conditions. The technology is located at the Snyder Translational Research Building at Fontaine Research Park. The centerpiece is a $2 million cyclotron, purchased through a 2008 grant from the National Institutes of Health. The Principal Investigator of the grant, Stuart Berr, PhD, Professor of Research in the Department of Radiology and Medical Imaging, spearheaded the project, which took more than five years to complete at a total cost of $4 million.

The cyclotron is an impressive piece of technology. It is a circular particle accelerator about 8 feet in diameter, and it weighs more than 50,000 pounds. It allows UVA scientists to manufacture radioactive elements locally that can be used to turn biomarkers into imaging agents that accumulate in specific diseased areas of the body. The biomarkers then can be detected non-invasively on a PET scan. One immediate use of this technology will be to assess the effectiveness of a particular cancer therapy. Normally, we may have to wait months after chemotherapy to see if a tumor is smaller. Now we can use PET imaging days after chemotherapy is administered to see if the treatment is having an effect on the cancer. If it isn't, the therapy can be changed right away. Prior to coming to UVA, I oversaw the clinical research evaluation of a novel PET tracer, invented by colleagues at Pitt, which utilized a cyclotron to produce the new experimental ligand that identifies amyloid plaques, the hallmark of Alzheimer's disease in the brain. Thus the power of the cyclotron to help us in translational research is apparent. The cyclotron will allow our radiochemists and clinicians to make new research ligands to identify pathological biomarkers in any number of diseases. This is a significant investment for UVA and will be of great benefit to our patients. Many congratulations to Dr. Berr and colleagues for bringing this project to fruition.

Also this summer the University of Virginia Board of Visitors (BOV) made a significant contribution to our strategic planning process. The Board focused its retreat on the Health System, and especially strategies for dealing with the changes in the health care environment in the Commonwealth and anticipated changes to government payments for Medicaid and Medicare. As pointed out by President Sullivan at the opening of the retreat in Alexandria in July, the Health System is about half of the total University budget and half of the faculty of the University; therefore thoughtful strategic planning for the Health System is important to the entire institution. Present at the retreat were several new members of the BOV who had recently been appointed by the governor. I was impressed by their level of engagement and their willingness to learn about the Health System, our opportunities and our challenges.

Following a Request for Proposals this spring, Chartis Consulting was selected to lead the strategic planning process, which is expected to continue through November. Many of you also will be asked to provide input as to the direction of our clinical practice, clinical research, and teaching goals.

At the same time we have developed and are evolving our new medical and graduate student curricula, and are reworking our research facilities and resources to facilitate our basic, clinical and translational research. Now we have embarked on this collaborative process with the Medical Center to determine our strategy for clinical care, determine its integration with our education and research programs, and provide first rate care while maintaining our fiscal stability.

In this edition of Roundtable you will find information on:

  • New Medical Center Policy: The Aging Practitioner
  • Cancer Center Reaccredited with Highest Ever Rating
  • Dean's Seminar Series - Introducing New Faculty
  • Health System Website for Patients, Families and Referring Physicians
  • Andrew Lockman, MD, Receives Teaching Recognition

Respectfully,

Steven T. DeKosky, MD, FAAN, FACP

 

The Aging Practitioner

All areas of medicine are coming under increasing scrutiny from government, regulators, state boards, insurers, the public, and others. Physicians are no exception to this scrutiny. Many institutions, including UVA, are taking the initiative to develop policies around the credentialing of physicians as they get older. A fifth of the nation's physicians are over 65, and that number is expected to increase sharply.

While the experience of older physicians is invaluable, our credentialing committee has developed a policy to ensure that our patients and colleagues can have every confidence that physicians can perform at the highest level. This regulation, Medical Center Policy 0294, goes into effect September 1, 2011. The policy calls for a physical and cognitive exam when a physician is 70 years old, and for those exams to be completed on an annual basis going forward once the physician reaches 75 years of age.

The results of the exams will be forwarded to the physician's chair/chief for consideration and will be included with the other required privileging documents submitted to the Credentials Committee.

Dean's New Faculty Seminar Series

I am pleased to announce upcoming seminars in our monthly series in which new faculty will present their research and be "introduced" to the faculty at large. The seminars will be an opportunity for presenters to be introduced to other faculty, and make contacts with others in their field and around the School of Medicine. All faculty, students, and staff are welcome. All seminars will be in Jordan Hall Auditorium. The Fall schedule is as follows:

Thursday, September 15, 4pm.

  • Presenter - Kyle Hoehn PhD, Assistant Professor of Pharmacology.
  • Topic - Multiple Insulin Resistance Pathways Converge at Mitochondria.

Thursday, October 20, 4pm.

  • Presenter – Hui Li PhD, Assistant Professor of Pathology in the Cancer Center.
  • Topic - Chimeric RNAs and Their Implications in Cancer.

Wednesday, November 16, 4pm.

  • Presenter – James Stone MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Radiology.
  • Topic - Neuroimaging correlates of repetitive blast exposure in human military service members.

 

It is my hope that this merit-based series will speed the introduction of exciting new research ideas, and accelerate collaborations and interactions between our new faculty and all of our established colleagues!

Health System Website Information for Patients, Families and Referring Physicians

Increasingly, patients and families are using the internet to search for information about medical conditions and providers. As the Health System continues to grow its clinical operations, a user-friendly website for patients and their families is essential. We are moving away from a universal website for everyone and developing a series of standalone websites, including http://uvahealth.com, for patients, prospective patients and their families. This is the Health System's website for information on where to get care and how to access UVA's services, including maps, directions, phone numbers, physician profiles, treatment and procedures, MyChart access and a link to Health System news.

This is an approach adopted by many of our peers, including Cleveland Clinic, Duke Medicine and New York Presbyterian Hospital. It allows us to tailor each site to the needs of specific audiences.

I encourage you to refer patients, families and referring physicians to http://uvahealth.com.

Andrew R. Lockman selected by the Virginia Academy of Family Physicians as the 2011 James P. Charlton Teacher of the Year

Please join me in congratulating Andrew Lockman, MD, Vice Chair for Clinical Affairs for the Department of Family Medicine, on the recognition he recently received at the annual meeting of Virginia's family physicians. The James P. Charlton award is given annually by the VAFP to recognize a Virginia family physician who has made an outstanding contribution to the education of students, residents, or both.

Dr. Lockman attended medical school and residency here, and has been a faculty member since 1995. In addition to his Vice-Chair position, he serves as Medical Director at UVA Family Medicine- Crossroads (located in North Garden).

In nominating him for the award one of his peers described Dr. Lockman as a truly special physician and the ideal role model for any training family physician.

In accepting his award, Dr. Lockman reflected on the many excellent teachers he has encountered at UVA, and said he feels fortunate to be in a department where teaching is valued so highly.

Congratulations to Dr. Lockman and to everyone in our Family Medicine department!

School of Medicine Medical Education and Research Featured on NPR

In August, National Public Radio reporter Sandy Hausman visited with Associate Dean for Medical Education Randolph Canterbury, MD, and several of our medical students for a story on the changes in the way medical students are trained. Ms. Hausman's news story can be found at the WVTF website.

LISTEN HERE/NOW!

Also on the WVTF website under the heading "Research Shows Brain Cells Can Regenerate," is a 8.22.11 story about recently published research authored by Jonathan Kipnis, PhD, associate professor of neuroscience, and Kodi S. Ravichandran, PhD, chair of the Department of Microbiology and director of the UVA Center for Cell Clearance. Congratulations to both and to Neuroscience Chair, Kevin Lee, PhD, also featured in the story.

LISTEN HERE/NOW!

 

Respectfully,

-STDeK