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News for BCM Faculty, Nov. 19, 2020
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College News


Baylor Vaccine: Biological E. Limited (BE), a Hyderabad, India-based vaccines and pharmaceutical company, DynavaxTechnologies Corporation, a U.S.-based vaccine-focused biopharmaceutical company, and Baylor College of Medicine announced Nov. 16 that BE has initiated a Phase I/II clinical trial of its COVID-19 subunit vaccine candidate following approval from the Drugs Controller General of India. The vaccine candidate includes an antigen in-licensed from BCM Ventures, along with Dynavax’s advanced adjuvant, CpG 1018, to boost immune response. The results of the clinical trial are expected to be available by February 2021. Vaccine developers Dr. Peter Hotez and Dr. Elena Bottazzi, co-directors of the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development and respectively dean and associate dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, are pictured in their lab, pre-pandemic.

Regional Campus: The College and Baylor Scott & White Health have announced an affiliation to develop and establish a regional campus for the Baylor College of Medicine School of Medicine in Temple, Texas. The first class of 40 students is scheduled to enter in fall of 2023. After four years, there will be 160 students on campus. All prospective students will be subject to the same admissions process and will be drawn from the same pool of candidates regardless of campus location. The curriculum will be the same on both campuses, students will be trained by Baylor faculty and the regional campus will be overseen by Dean Jennifer Christner.

Committees Election: Faculty members have through Monday, Nov. 23, to cast ballots for their candidates for at-large seats on the Environmental Safety, Institutional Policy and Research Conflict of Interest Committees. This is a pilot project to establish a robust process for the institutional committees and to ensure full faculty engagement and participation in the life of the College. In 2021, additional institutional committees will open their membership to at-large faculty, providing more opportunities to self-nominate for service on these important, College-wide committees.

Faculty Kudos

image Stacey Cook has joined the Office of Instutional Advancement as assistant vice president of advancement services, with responsibilities for donor stewardship, digital fundraising and proposal development. She completes the office’s leadership team, which comprises Matt Piede, assistant vice president of strategic initiatives and alumni affairs, whose portfolio includes corporate partnerships and Baylor Medical Foundation; James Hughes, assistant vice president of development, overseeing major gift fundraising, foundation relations and estate planning; and Stephanie Murillo, business operations manager.

The Global TB Program at Baylor and Texas Children's Hospital, headed by Dr. Anna Maria Mandalakas, professor of pediatrics, received a five-year, $5 million grant from the CDC for its project "Closing TB Gaps for People Living with HIV: TB Guidance for Adaptable Patient-centered Services." TB GAPs will concentrate on sub-Saharan African countries with high rates of tuberculosis and HIV: Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda.

Dr. Fritz Sedlazeck, assistant professor in the Human Genome Sequencing Center, organized the second HGSC Hackathon, which focused on problems involving structural variants, pangenomics and the COVID-19 pandemic. The event’s virtual format greatly expanded its reach, attracting 80 genetics experts from all over the world as participants.

Dr. John Wolf, professor and chair of dermatology, has received a 2020 Ashbel Smith Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston where he earned a master's degree in anatomy and a medical degree in 1965. He previously received distinguished alumnus honors from Lamar High School and Rice University.

College (Virtual) Events

Art Show: Be sure to see the annual BCM Charity Art Show this week, Nov. 16-20. The virtual gallery includes paintings, photography, textiles, pottery, jewelry and crafts and more created by the members of the Baylor family. Forty percent of proceeds benefit the Arts in Medicine Program at Texas Children's Hospital and remaining profits go directly to artists. To bid on art, visit the auction website.

Molecular Biology Seminar: Dr. Christine Mayr, professor of cancer biology and genetics at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, speaks on “Regulation of protein functions by 3’UTRs” at 4 p.m. Thursday Nov. 19, via Zoom, meeting ID 957 6606 3660, passcode: 755382.

COVID-19 Update: Texas Doctors for Social Responsibility hosts Dr. Junda Woo, medical director of the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District, on “COVID-19 Vaccine and Where We’re At” at 12:15 p.m. Friday, Nov. 20; view online.

Cancer Grand Rounds: Dr. George Van Buren, associate professor of surgery, discusses “Surgical Advances in Pancreas Cancer” at 12:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 20, via Zoom, meeting ID: 387 923 767, passcode: 831342.

Autism Webinar: Spark for Autism hosts “An introduction to SPARK and Genetics 101: How information from genetic testing helps our understanding of autism” with Dr. Robin Kochel, associate professor of pediatrics, and Dr. Chaya Murali, assistant professor of genetics, at 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 21. Register for a link to the public webinar.

Evening with Genetics: Dr. April Adams, assistant professor of obstetrics & gynecology and molecular & human genetics, joins genetic counselors Veena Mathur and Sandra Darilek, co-director of the Prenatal Genetics Service, in a discussion on “noninvasive prenatal testing for chromosomal and single-gene disorders” at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 24. Register to receive a link to the public webinar.

Cancer Seminar: Dr. Perrin Jhaveri presents “Optimizing Transfusion in Cancer Patients” at 8 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 25, via Zoom, meeting ID: 387 923 767, passcode: 831342.

Thanksgiving Schedule: The College will be closed Thursday, Nov. 26, in observance of the holiday. The next issue of Faculty Commons will publish Thursday, Dec. 3.

  • Morrison Café, main Baylor campus, will be closed Thursday and Friday, Nov. 26-27.
  • Mary O’s Café, McNair Campus, will close at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 25 and remain closed Nov. 26-27.
  • The Baylor shuttle schedule will not change for the holiday.

Faculty Resources

LCME Update: The School of Medicine's November LCME Newsletter features recent subcommittee work and an overview of Element 12.3—Personal Counseling/Well-Being Programs, Element 12.4—Student Access to Health Care Services and Element 12.8—Student Exposure Policies/Procedures. The newsletter also contains pertinent information for the site visit Sept. 26-29, 2021.

Environmental Health: The Gulf Coast Center for Precision Environmental Health has pilot project funding available for projects in genetics/epigenetics, environmental health and data science to understand individual and place-based determinants of disease risk. The pilot projects are for one year and a maximum budget of $40,000. To apply, submit a letter of intent including a cover letter and a one-page summary of the research objectives to Tracie Albritton by Tuesday, Nov. 24. Contact Ms. Albritton for more information.

Welch Grants: The Welch Foundation is accepting proposals to support research in chemistry. Grants provide a minimum of $80,000 per year in funding for fellowships, equipment, services and travel. More information is available online. Proposals are due Jan. 29, 2021.

Faculty Opportunities

Faculty Appointments: The Department of Education, Innovation and Technology is pleased to invite applications for inaugural faculty appointments in the department. Faculty members with strong educational expertise may apply for co-primary, secondary or transfer of appointment to the Department of EIT. Staff members of the education mission or other areas with appropriate terminal degrees may apply for faculty status. More information is available online. The first phase application deadline is Monday, Nov. 23.

Robertson Awards: The 2021 Barbara and Corbin J. Robertson, Jr. Presidential Award for Excellence in Education is accepting nominations for this most prestigious, college-wide award for stellar and enduring contributions to the educational mission. As part of the Baylor academic community, you are strongly encouraged to identify and nominate those you believe qualified for this award. The criteria and review process have been updated to assure that the selection of awardees applies to the broad scope of education at Baylor and recognizes teaching that transcends current techniques and topics. Please see the award website for criteria and instructions. Nominations will be accepted through Dec. 11.

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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