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News for BCM Faculty, May 14, 2020
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Ask Me About My Research: Navigating the COVID-19 pandemic is a challenge for everyone, but it can be particularly hard for children. In a special edition of the Ask Me About My Research series, Dr. Jill Weatherhead, assistant professor of infectious disease and tropical medicine, answers questions about COVID-19 submitted by elementary and middle school students.

Academic Council: Baylor College of Medicine is in recovery mode, the chairs and center directors heard at the May 11 meeting. Clinical Dean Jim McDeavitt, incident commander for the coronavirus crisis, detailed the phases of reopening at the institutional level:

  • Phase one includes a transition to Baylor’s non-incident (executive leadership team) management structure coordinating mission- and support operations-specific incident command centers to determine workflow and staff reintroduction rates. Pacing will differ between missions, depending on timing and density issues.
  • Phase two involves disbanding the main ICC, followed by decommissioning the mission ICCs, with the flexibility to revert to earlier phases until the pandemic is entirely resolved. Indicators like COVID-19 hospitalization rates and the subjective sense of “crowdedness” will guide progress. Post-vaccine, long-term stabilization defines phase three.

Top Tips for Faculty: Don’t let the new normal faze you, try these tips from the Faculty Senate and the Incident Command Center’s Coronavirus Preparedness website:

  • Voting for Senators: Be sure to submit your ballot by Monday, May 18, for Faculty Senate representatives in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Family & Community Medicine, Medicine, Molecular Physiology & Biophysics, Obstetrics & Gynecology, Otolaryngology, Pathology & Immunology, Pediatrics, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Radiology, Surgery, Center for Cell & Gene Therapy, Lester & Sue Smith Breast Center, Center for Medical Ethics & Health Policy, Center for Precision Environmental Health, Children’s Hospital of San Antonio, Menninger Clinic, Texas Children’s Hospital, TIRR, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and National School of Tropical Medicine.
  • Reopening Safely: Check out Baylor’s comprehensive guide to reopening businesses, including recommendations for taking care of employees, checking supplies, managing customers and cleaning facilities.
  • Staying Sharp: Learn more about the BCM Code of Conduct, now available as the required Annual Compliance Education training in SuccessFactors.
  • Screening Yourself: Save time by downloading the app or visiting the website to self-screen for COVID-19 symptoms and present verification upon entering a Baylor facility.

Faculty Kudos

image Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine, and Dr. Maria Elena Bottazzi, the school’s associate dean, co-directors of the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development, received a boost from Tito’s Handmade Vodka through a $1 million grant from the brand’s philanthropic arm Love, Tito’s to accelerate research on a vaccine for the COVID-19 virus.

Chancellor Bert O'Malley, professor of molecular & cellular biology, has been elected to the Fellows of the AACR Academy class of 2020 for his pioneering research in molecular endocrinology, gene regulation and steroid receptor biology. Fellows serve as a global brain trust, helping to advance the mission of the American Association for Cancer Research to prevent and cure all cancers.

image Dr. Vlad Sandulache, assistant professor, and Dr. Diane Chen, resident, both in the Bobby R. Alford Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, were recognized with a Community Service Award from the American Head & Neck Society. Their project instituted a successful screening program for veterans with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma and hepatitis C at the DeBakey VA Medical Center. Chen starts a fellowship in head and neck surgery at Indiana University School of Medicine in July.

image Dr. Roger Zoorob, Richard M. Kleberg chair of family & community medicine, and Dr. Alicia Kowalchuk, associate professor in the department, were awarded a $2.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health for “Bringing Alcohol and Other Drug Research to Primary Care.” The program’s focus is practical, innovative and effective outreach strategies to educate primary care providers about current research on substance use disorders.

COVID-19 Awards: In April, Baylor sent out an RFA for COVID-19-related research. Departments across the College responded, submitting 59 applications. Eleven teams led by Drs. Amir Sharafkhaneh, David Moore, Hashem El-Serag, James Martin, Melanie Samuel, Rikhia Chakraborty, Russell Ray, Venkatar Prasad, Weei-Chin Lin, Andrew Rice, Jason Kimata, Damian Young, John Faver and Timothy Palzkill have received funding for their research. Read about the projects, which range from studying health disparities in coronavirus care to risk of infection among non-clinical faculty.

Faculty Resources

The TMC Library has re-opened at 25% capacity, with seating for 47 visitors. For the safety of users and library staff, all visitors must arrive wearing a mask, check in at the Circulation Desk and observe social distancing while in the library. Digital resources and virtual consultations, meetings and other library services continue to be available.

PA Preceptors: The BCM Physician Assistant Program, which is ranked third in the nation, seeks primary care providers to serve as preceptors for students during two-week rotations throughout the year. Preceptors in pediatrics, family medicine, outpatient internal medicine, psychiatry and obstetrics & gynecology practices are needed. You need not commit to specific dates at this time. Helping to prepare PA students for their future careers is a great way to ensure our exceptional students are ready to take positions in your practice or those of your colleagues. Learn more about what is involved on the BCM PA Program website.

Equity Research Summit: Baylor’s third annual Center of Excellence in Health Equity, Training and Research Summer Research Summit is set for June 9. This virtual conference is open to everyone who is committed to workforce diversity in the health and biomedical sciences and quality healthcare for underserved and under-represented populations in the United States. CME credit will be available. Register online to livestream the conference.

From the Labs: Read about the challenges facing the National School of Tropical Medicine and the Center for Vaccine Development at Texas Children’s, co-led by Dr. Maria Elena Bottazzi and Dr. Peter Hotez, as they work to develop a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine 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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