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News for BCM Faculty, April 23, 2020
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Frontline Research: Baylor College of Medicine researchers are participating in a number of coronavirus projects, including possible vaccines, potential treatments and ways to enhance testing capabilities. Pictured here are Dr. Harsha Doddapaneni, assistant professor and director of technology development in the Human Genome Sequencing Center, Sejal Salvi, senior research assistant, and Dr. Robert Glenn, instructor and senior robotics, part of the team working on the COVID-19 testing and research project.

Faculty Senate: The COVID-19 pandemic dominated discussions at the April 16 meeting:

  • Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine, predicted that coronavirus cases would peak in Texas on May 1 and cautioned that the virus could return in January and February. He expressed concern about re-opening the state for business, given the low rate of testing and the lack of a mechanism for contact tracing.
  • Clinical Affairs Dean Jim McDeavitt described working with the institutions of the Texas Medical Center to increase the capacity of the healthcare workforce, intensive care beds, ventilators, PPE and testing, now detailed daily in TMC updates. The Incident Command Center has made arrangements for post-shift showers, food, hotel rooms and dorm space for Baylor frontline teams and is preparing for a potential surge in coronavirus cases. The ICC also has started planning for a post-COVID-19 staged re-opening of the campus for patient care, research and education activities.
  • Research Dean Mary Dickinson detailed the College’s COVID-19-related projects, with the Office of Research recording 59 coronavirus pilot project applications, 16 new funding proposals and 42 IRB proposals. Teams of Baylor scientists are expanding virus testing, developing dependable serology testing and conducting clinical trials on convalescent plasma, remdesivir and tocilizumab. The orange badge system for campus access is generating data to inform plans for social distancing when labs are reintegrated.
  • Provost Alicia Monroe said the ICC Education Subcommittee is considering how best to provide clinical experiences for learners and onboard new students, residents and fellows, within College and affiliate policies and accreditation standards. Wellness resources for faculty, staff, trainees and students have expanded to include telehealth counseling and support groups.
  • Dr. Christie Lincoln, senate chair, and Dr. Jonnae Atkinson, senate secretary and chair of the elections committee, reminded senators that nominations for 37 Senate seats are open through Monday, April 27, with elections scheduled for May and June.
  • In the past year, the Faculty Senate has approved resolutions on Defining Pathways & Possibilities staff leveling communications, Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee guidance and Baylor Medicine compensation plan outcomes analysis, as well as endorsed the COVID-19 Tenure Clock Suspension policy. Senators also represent faculty interests on more than a dozen institutional committees.

Top Tips for Faculty: The Faculty Senate supports faculty members navigating the COVID-19 pandemic with news and tips you can use from the Incident Command Center’s Coronavirus Preparedness website:

  • Representing Faculty: This is the last weekend to apply for a Faculty Senate position representing faculty at-large or in one of 22 departments, centers, schools and affiliates in shared governance at the College.
  • Caring for Children: The Collaborative for Children offers solutions for essential workers who need quality childcare, childcare and financial assistance, or financial assistance for existing childcare.
  • Donating PPE: Help Baylor medical students in a donation drive for personal protective equipment and other essential items for Baylor Medicine, Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center and Ben Taub Hospital.
  • Supporting the Team: Make a gift to show support for the Center for Comparative Medicine staff members conducting critical coronavirus research.

Faculty Kudos

Dr. Hoda Badr, associate professor of medicine - epidemiology and population sciences, is leading a team of researchers in studying the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the health and well-being of individuals and families living in the United States. Participants will be asked to complete a one-time online survey on how the pandemic has affected daily life, health behaviors, emotional well-being and family relationships.

Dr. Sandesh Nagamani, associate professor of molecular & human genetics and medicine, has been selected as the newest member of the Osteogenesis Imperfecta Foundation's Medical Advisory Council. His research focuses on evaluating new and potential therapies for various genetic disorders. He will advise the foundation in their mission to improve the quality of life for people affected by OI.

Dr. Jovany Cruz Navarro, assistant professor of anesthesiology, has received a Department of Defense grant for his project, "Leveraging FITBIR Data to Improve Clinical Practice." His co-principal investigator is Dr. Jose-Miguel Yamal from UTHealth. By leveraging data from five multicenter traumatic brain injury trials included in the Federal Interagency Traumatic Brain Injury Research Informatics System (FITBIR) and additional studies, they will use an unprecedented quantity of data to develop mathematic prognostic models for long-term TBI outcomes.

Dr. Pedro Piedra, professor of molecular virology & microbiology, is developing a serological test in his CLIA-certified laboratory to identify recent or past infections with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Read more about how recovered COViD-19 patients - as well as anyone who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 - can donate blood for the development of an antibody test.

Faculty Resources

Benefits Open House: Representatives from Human Resources teams and external vendors will be virtually available throughout the day Tuesday, April 28, to answer questions about your Baylor benefits. Register and the Zoom information will be sent on Monday, April 27.

  • BCM BeWell: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Benefits: 9 to 10 a.m. and 1 to 2 p.m.
  • Retirement: 10 to 11 a.m.
  • Ayco Financial Counseling: 1 to 2 p.m. An Ayco financial coach will be online to discuss relevant topics and answer general questions. For specific questions about your financial situation, schedule an appointment with a coach.

DocTalk: Dr. Angela Catic, assistant professor of medicine – geriatrics, discusses “COVID-19: Opportunities and Challenges in Older Adults” at noon Wednesday, April 29. Register to receive the Zoom information. Eligible employees and spouses/domestic partners will receive 50 BCM BeWell Vitality points for submitting the verification survey and verification code given during the presentation.

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 webpage.

Mental Health Services: Baylor’s new Mental Health and Wellness Program provides options to get the support you need through private and confidential services. Call 713-798-0292 for more information or to access telehealth resources in the new program, including:

  • Speaking with an experienced counselor for support.
  • Using a self-guided cognitive-behavioral therapy app to help cope with anxiety and stress.
  • Participating in regularly scheduled support groups.
  • One-on-one counseling sessions to help manage distress.

Well-Being Index: Now you can reassess your well-being on a weekly basis with the Well-Being Index, a brief online self-assessment that provides individualized feedback, tools and national/local resources for mental health. Get started here with invitation code BCM PHYSICIAN (physicians), BCM GSBS (researchers) or BCM HEALTHPROF (advanced practice providers). If you previously have accessed the WBI, use the login page to check in with yourself again.

Diagnostic Excellence: The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation is soliciting novel ideas and approaches for developing new clinical quality measures to improve diagnosis, specifically targeting three major categories of disease: acute vascular events (such as stroke and myocardial infarction), infections (such as sepsis and pneumonia) and cancer (such as lung and colorectal). Grants of up to $500,000 each are available following a multistep competitive process. Eligibility criteria and application information is available online. The deadline has been extended to June 30.

From the Labs: Read how Dr. Ayse Sena Mutlu, a postdoctoral fellow in the Huffington Center On Aging, used the laboratory worm C. elegans to find a connection between the sense of smell and fat metabolism 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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