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News for BCM Faculty, April 30, 2020
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COVID-19 Diaries: See the Baylor College of Medicine community staying positive, adjusting to the new normal and supporting each other during the COVID-19 pandemic in this month’s BCM Family. Pictured here are Baylor Improvement Group’s Marie Van Pelt dropping off snacks donated by the Partnership for BCM to Quality Nurse Angela Sterling for frontline teams.

Baylor Town Hall: President Paul Klotman hosts a Town Hall for faculty and staff at noon Friday, May 1, to discuss the College’s response to COVID-19 and its plan for a staged recovery. Leaders from all mission areas will be available to answer questions, which can be sent ahead of time to Chief Communications Officer Claire Bassett. Watch the event livestreamed on You Tube.

GSBS Update: Dean Carolyn Smith announced that three programs in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences have had their T32 grant applications funded, with expected start dates of July 1. The Neuroscience program, directed by Dr. Matthew Rasband, has six slots funded, while Cancer & Cell Biology, directed by Dr. David Nelson, and Clinical-Translational Research Certificate of Added Qualification, directed by Dr. Igna Van den Veyver, each have eight slots funded to support graduate students in the coming year. In related news, GSBS Admissions and the seven Ph.D. graduate programs have recruited 103 students from 1,722 applications for the 2020-2021 academic year.

HGSC News: The Human Genome Sequencing Center recently was awarded a National Institutes of Health grant for acquisition of the Pacific Biosciences Sequel II DNA sequencing instrument. This technology will help improve sequencing capacity and efficiency. It is the first Sequel II instrument in the city of Houston and will be made available to NIH-supported investigators across Baylor and the Texas Medical Center.

Top Tips for Faculty: To address the needs of faculty members working in extraordinary times, the Faculty Senate shares these tips from the Incident Command Center’s Coronavirus Preparedness website:

  • Teaching Trainees: Read how educational leaders plan to continue training the next generation of physicians, healthcare professionals and researchers effectively and without interruption.
  • Caring Virtually: Baylor Medicine now has telehealth options available for all specialties.
  • Staying Informed: Keep up on the newest published and pre-print COVID-19 research with a weekly newsletter from the Department of Medicine's Section of Infectious Diseases.
  • Being Fashionable: By popular demand, the pangolin T-shirts referenced in Dr. Klotman’s video message last week are for sale, with proceeds going to coronavirus research at Baylor.

Faculty Kudos

Dr. Hugo Bellen, professor, March of Dimes Chair in Developmental Biology and Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, has been elected to the prestigious National Academy of Sciences in recognition of his distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. In addition, he was one of 276 artists, scholars, scientists and leaders in the public, non-profit and private sectors elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

imageDr. Keila Lopez, assistant professor of pediatrics – cardiology, and Dr. Asim Shah, executive vice chair of psychiatry & behavioral sciences, have been appointed to the Health Equity Response Task Force by Mayor Sylvester Turner. They will help to implement and accelerate Houston’s rapid response to provide information, supplies and services to vulnerable members of the communities most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Ivan Rosas, chief of the pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine section in the Department of Medicine is the lead investigator at the Baylor site for a clinical trial evaluating tocilizumab (TCZ) in patients hospitalized with COVID-19. Since TCZ has been used successfully to treat hyperimmune responses in cancer patients undergoing treatment with immunotherapy, investigators speculate that it will have a similar effect in those affected with severe COVID-19 pneumonia.

Dr. Huda Zoghbi, professor, director of the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute and Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, and Sir Adrian Bird, professor of genetics at Edinburgh University, will be honored with the Lundbeck Foundation Brain Prize for their mapping of Rett syndrome, a rare neurological disorder. His Royal Highness Crown Prince Frederick will present the Brain Prize, the world’s largest award for brain research, on Sept. 13 in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Faculty Resources

COVID-19 Webinar: Dr. Pedro Piedra, Dr. Robert Atmar, Dr. Laila Woc-Colburn and other experts from around the Texas Medical Center assess the current COVID-19 situation and the way forward in this public webinar series hosted on Zoom and Facebook Live.

  • "COVID-19 101 – Debunking Myths," 2 p.m. Saturday, May 2.
  • "The Path Forward," 2 p.m. Sunday, May 3.

LCME Update: The School of Medicine's April LCME newsletter features recent subcommittee work and an overview of Element 11.5 – Confidentiality of Student Educational Records and Element 11.6 – Student Access to Educational Records. The newsletter also contains pertinent information for the site visit Sept. 26-29, 2021.

Blood Donations: The Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center is taking necessary precautions and adhering to social distancing by asking that donors make appointments. See information online for a donation site near you.

Pew-Stewart Scholars: The College may nominate one candidate for the Pew-Stewart Scholars Program for Cancer Research, which supports assistant professors (appointed after June 15, 20167 conducting innovative, cutting-edge, basic cancer research that may accelerate progress toward a cure for cancer. Read the complete program description online. If you are interested in applying, please submit a two-page letter of intent and an NIH biosketch to DLDCCCgrants@bcm.edu by Friday, May 1.

From the Labs: Read how after eluding researchers for more than 30 years, the VP3 protein of rotavirus has finally revealed its unique structure and function to a team led by the labs of Dr. B. V. Venkataram Prasad and Dr. Mary K. Estes 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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