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News for BCM Faculty, April 16, 2020
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Called to Care: The coronavirus pandemic has been challenging but Baylor College of Medicine has answered the call of caring for patients, the community and each other. Whether it’s researching new treatment options, continuing classes online, meeting shipments of personal protective equipment in the loading dock or keeping the College wheels turning from home, we want to know how YOU answer the call to care! Print this sign, fill in the blank, snap a photo and share on social media with the hashtags #CalledtoCare and #BCMCares. Or send your photos to Anna Kiappes to share on Baylor’s social media and in internal communications.

Academic Council: Baylor’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic was the sole focus of the executive leadership team's presentations at the April 13 meeting:

  • Clinical Affairs Dean Jim McDeavitt provided an overview of the Texas Medical Center’s collaborative efforts to increase the capacity of the healthcare workforce, intensive care beds, ventilators, PPE and testing across the greater Houston area. The Incident Command Center has made provisions for post-shift showers, food, hotel rooms and dorm space for Baylor employees (see next article). It now is preparing for the possibility of a surge in coronavirus cases
  • Research Dean Mary Dickinson detailed the work underway on a variety of COVID-19 fronts, including expanding virus testing capacity for surveillance studies, conducting clinical trials on remdesivir, tocilizumab and convalescent plasma, and prioritizing research ideas and novel therapeutic approaches for pilot projects and external funding.
  • Provost Alicia Monroe reported on the schools’ success in maintaining the continuity of education programs and services, while staying compliant with affiliates and accreditors on training and patient care guidelines. Commencement will be a virtual ceremony.
  • The College has started planning for a post-COVID-19 staged re-opening of the campus for patient care, research and education activities. It is exploring all available recovery avenues, including FEMA, the CARES Act and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services funding opportunities, vaccine development grants and philanthropy.

Top Tips for Faculty: To address the needs of faculty members working in extraordinary times, the Faculty Senate, in coordination with the Baylor Support Task Force of the Incident Command Center, shares these tips from the Coronavirus Preparedness website:

  • Keeping Clean: Clinicians and health professionals can use the shower facilities in the Baylor Gym to change and freshen up from 6 to 10 a.m. and 4 to 8 p.m. daily on the eighth floor of Garage 6, which has free one-hour parking. Bring your own soap, towel and flip flops.
  • Catching Some ZZZs: The TMC Marriott hotel offers lodging for those needing rest between hospital shifts.
  • Staying Away: The University of St. Thomas dormitories are available for week-long stays by those in critical patient care roles who have COVID-19-vulnerable people at home.
  • Grabbing to Go: Morrison’s Café is now stocking pantry basics like milk, eggs, bread and toilet paper as well as grab-and-go sandwiches, salads and snacks from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. weekdays at main Baylor.

Zoom Security: Information Technology, working with Compliance and Audit Services, has reviewed Zoom’s updated privacy policy in light of recent concerns and confirms that Zoom is a safe and secure means of communication for the College.

  • The use of BCM Zoom by BCM faculty, students, and staff - regardless of location - is covered by Baylor’s HIPAA-required Business Associate Agreement with Zoom.
  • Protect your meeting by following recommendations by Zoom, including setting a password for each meeting.
  • Watch a video about connecting to Baylor resources and tools remotely, along with tips to remain safe in cyberspace.

Faculty Resources

Financial Relief: The Benefits Administrative Committee has approved changes to the Baylor retirement plans to allow employees diagnosed with the coronavirus disease or facing economic loss due to the virus to take a loan or a hardship withdrawal on their vested retirement funds. CARES Act distributions from the 403(b) plan are available through Dec. 31. BCM is working closely with Fidelity and TIAA to make CARES Act 401(a) distributions and loans from the 401(a) and 403(b) available to those who qualify as soon as possible. Please see the CARES Act FAQs for more information.

Faculty Elections: At-large as well as electoral unit seats are open in this spring’s Faculty Senate Elections. Submit your application now for one of the 15 at-large senate positions or 22 department, center, school or affiliate representative spots. With many senators facing term limits, this is your opportunity to get involved with the Faculty Senate and participate in shared governance and strategic planning for the College. Information the 2020 elections and a link to the application form are online. The deadline to apply is Monday, April 27.

Curriculum Committee: The Medical School Curriculum Committee is soliciting nominations for a vice-chair and an at-large position. Interested faculty members from all disciplines are encouraged to apply for these important leadership roles by Friday, April 24. The Curriculum Committee has the integrated institutional responsibility for the overall design, management and evaluation of a coherent and coordinated curriculum. For more information, please see the Faculty Opportunities page.

Industry Payments: The Physician Payment Sunshine Act requires applicable manufacturers ("Industry") to report certain payments these companies have made to physicians and teaching hospitals. Physicians have until May 15 to review and dispute Industry payments allegedly made to them in 2019 by industry, such as drug and device manufacturers. The payments will be published on June 30. Physicians should review and challenge any payments attributed to them that may be misleading or inaccurate. For more information, read the Open Payments User Guide from the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services as well as this FAQ sheet.

Research Certificate: The Clinical Scientist Training Program offers a one-year program leading to a Certificate of Added Qualification in clinical investigation. The CAQ is designed for academic clinicians who are interested in an in-depth introduction to clinical research and grant writing but cannot commit to the additional years required to obtain a graduate degree. Participants learn how to develop a rigorous grant proposal and complete a K-23 or similar mentored career award proposal in the yearlong program. More information is available on the CSTP admissions page. Applications are due June 1.

Pew Scholars Program: One College nomination is allowed for the Pew Scholars Program, which supports assistant professors (appointed after June 15, 2017) of outstanding promise in science relevant to the advancement of human health. Strong proposals will incorporate particularly creative and innovative approaches. Candidates whose work is based on biomedical principles, but brings in concepts and theories from more diverse fields, are encouraged to submit materials to the internal portal by 4 p.m. Friday, April 24, for the Faculty Committee on Awards’ review.

Drug Discovery: Baylor seeks biological targets with supporting human genetics background information that could intelligently inform initial drug screening and clinical development. Interested scientists and clinicians may provide preliminary information about their genetically informed targets using the online form. A response to this solicitation is not a guarantee of project approval or funding. However, potential funding mechanisms could be available for drug discovery and development of select targets if a partnership to conduct the research plan is established.

From the Labs: Read how Dr. Hugo Bellen, professor, March of Dimes Chair in Developmental Biology and Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, and his team used fruit fly genetics to solve the mystery of an unidentified neurodegenerative disorder in this week’s post. Receive From the Labs via email by entering your email address in the box at the end of any article and clicking the "subscribe" button.

Questions or Comments?

Faculty Senate: Please contact your senator for faculty-related questions or suggestions.

Institutional Policy Committee: Contact the Policy Committee to learn more about College policies and procedures.

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