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Executive Updates

Executive Updates
from Dr. Byington

July 2017: Health Science Center Executive Update


During the last six months, I've had the pleasure of meeting and working alongside many dedicated colleagues eager to plan for a future that will be even brighter than our past. Over the next few weeks and months, you will hear of important strategic updates that are expected to better position the Health Science Center, helping us to more fully deliver on our promise of excellence for our students, faculty and staff, and for the state. Within this executive update, I'd like to share a few key institutional adjustments, while updating you all on a few recent issues of interest.

Search continues for leadership positions:
As I mentioned in a previous update, we have a number of national searches that are ongoing. Working with Korn-Ferry, a search firm with expertise in leadership for academic health centers, for the College of Medicine we are recruiting a Vice Dean for Education, who will provide leadership for all academic issues for the college and a Department Head for Psychiatry, who will take the lead on a Mental Health Practice Plan. For the Health Science Center, we are recruiting an Associate Vice President for Clinical Strategy and Chief Medical Officer, who will provide important administrative leadership for the proposed Texas A&M Faculty Practice Plan and an Associate Vice President for Research, who will provide important administrative leadership as we focus on innovation and technology as a mechanism for advancing the research enterprise across the institution. I look forward to sharing important updates as we move forward in the recruitment process.

Darnall Army Medical Center partnership expanded:
In June, we formalized an expanded partnership with Fort Hood's Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center (CRDAMC), which will allow for a minimum of 60 medical students to rotate through CRDAMC per year-a number we expect to grow, and diversify across the health professions, in the coming years. Given the College of Medicine's roots as one of five medical schools created by the Teague-Cranston Act to meet the needs of the medically underserved areas of the country-namely veterans and rural community members-and Texas A&M University's strong military tradition, it's a particularly fitting partnership.

Collaboration with Army Reserve provides health care on border:
Over a two-week period in late June, the Army Reserve partnered with students from across The Texas A&M System-including our own medical and nursing students-to provide health care and infrastructure projects to thousands of people living in impoverished neighborhoods, known as colonias, around Laredo. Under the Innovative Readiness Training program, the event provided an excellent training opportunity for future health professions students across the A&M System, while providing much-needed care to critical regions of the state. Plans are already in the works for additional events in the coming years.

School of Public Health establishes joint program with Houston Methodist:
The School of Public Health has entered into a partnership with the Houston Methodist Research Institute and the Center for Outcomes Research. Under the direction of Bita Kash, PhD, MBA, FACHE, associate professor at the School of Public Health, the collaboration will allow researchers at both organizations to pursue internally and externally funded research opportunities. Research will focus on improving health outcomes of patients treated in acute-care settings and throughout the cycle of their care in the ambulatory environment and the community. I'm delighted to watch as promising findings are translated into actionable strategy for health system leaders.

Good Manufacturing Lab set to open:
The College of Pharmacy will soon open its Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) Laboratory, a first-of-its-kind facility for the Bryan-College Station campus. This new lab will help create solid dosage forms such as immediate and modified-release capsules and tablets, novel drug delivery systems including nanoparticles and topical products such as ointments or creams for animal or human testing under rigid regulatory protocols. The GMP facility will dramatically increase research opportunities across the A&M community, leading to translations of discoveries into life-saving drug formulation for patients.

Texas A&M and Driscoll Children's Hospital Global Hispanic Health Institute:
The Institute for Public Health Improvement has been renamed the Texas A&M and Driscoll Children's Hospital Global Institute for Hispanic Health. Indra Reddy, PhD, dean of the College of Pharmacy, has joined me as a Texas A&M representative on the four-person governing board that also includes Steve Woerner, president and CEO of Driscoll Health System, and Eric Hamon, executive vice president and CFO of Driscoll Health System. The joint institute will advance the health of the Hispanic community, ensuring the needs of this population are addressed when developing new drugs and life-saving therapies. This one-of-a-kind reach in South Texas ties nicely with our Healthy South Texas initiative as we work to improve the health of rural populations throughout the state.

College of Dentistry awarded Center of Excellence grant:
The College of Dentistry has been awarded a second five-year Center of Excellence grant, totaling $3.5 million, from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Centers of Excellence program to advance diversity in faculty and students. This well-deserved accomplishment recognizes the college's two-decade history of building successful community outreach and pipeline programs for recruitment and retention of students, faculty and staff from underserved communities, which have resulted in the college being named one of the most diverse dental schools in the country. I applaud the College of Dentistry's dedication to producing a health professions workforce that can provide care inclusive of all of the United States' racially and ethnically diverse populations.

Nursing faculty named fellow of American Academy of Nursing:
Stacey Mitchell, DNP, MBA, registered nurse and clinical associate professor at the College of Nursing, has been named an American Academy of Nursing fellow for her significant contributions to the field of nursing. Stacey teaches forensic health care at the college and, in 2015, was awarded the Virginia Lynch Pioneer in Forensic Nursing Award, the highest honor the International Association of Forensic Nurses bestows. Stacey will be honored at the academy's annual policy conference in October in Washington, D.C. Congratulations Stacey!

College of Medicine welcomes third Tillman Scholar in three years:
Anthony Dolomisiewicz, who is pursuing his Doctor of Medicine, is the College of Medicine's most recent Tillman Scholar. Awarded by the Pat Tillman Foundation, the award recognizes 60 of the best-poised leaders from U.S. military, veterans and their spouses and helps them impact our country for years to come through higher education scholarships. Anthony plans to continue serving with the National Guard as a military physician after graduation. We are honored to have students like Anthony, engrained with a service mindset, at our college.

Healthy South Texas continues fight against Zika:
One of the priorities of Healthy South Texas is arming communities with the knowledge and ability to defend against the potentially devastating consequences of Zika. Healthy South Texas is working with local health departments, physicians, women's health clinics, federally qualified health centers and other organizations to distribute Zika prevention kits that provide expectant mothers with mosquito repellent, bed nets, condoms and educational material about preventing Zika. More than 4,000 kits have been distributed throughout the region, with more going out daily. You can read about Healthy South Texas' work-with support from the state-to address health disparities in Texas in my op-ed in the Corpus Christi Caller Times .

In closing, thank you for all you do to make the Health Science Center a success and an institution that adds value to those we serve. For real-time updates, please follow me on Twitter @carrie_byington and visit the Vital Record news site.

With warmest wishes,
Carrie L. Byington, MD