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News for BCM Faculty, Dec. 17, 2020
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Vaccine Progress: Dr. Ashwin Viswanathan, professor of neurosurgery and a faculty senator, was in the first wave of healthcare providers in the Texas Medical Center to be inoculated against COVID-19. Refer to the online FAQ to learn more about vaccines for Baylor faculty, staff and trainees.

Academic Council: Kristin Wade, chief operating officer for Baylor Medicine, gave an update on vaccine planning at the Dec. 14 meeting. Texas guidelines prioritize healthcare workers in the first phase. The College’s affiliates will vaccinate Baylor employees and learners who have patient-facing roles at the hospitals. Processes are in development to support vaccination of employees and learners at Baylor upon allocation.

  • Dr. Toi Harris, associate provost of student and trainee services and institutional diversity, inclusion and equity, highlighted progress on the College’s Commitment to Racial Justice to Improve Public Health initiative, including efforts to recruit and retain underrepresented minorities in clinical trials. She announced that the 2021 Diversity Engagement Survey, gauging the campus climate for inclusion and equity, will launch in January.
  • Dr. Peggy Goodell, chair of molecular & cellular biology, summarized the findings of the CPRIT Recruitment Task Force, which found that taking a more strategic approach to applications could yield a higher success rate with candidates.

Faculty Senate: COO Joe Doty discussed fiscal year 2021 operations goals at the Dec. 10 meeting. These include initiating and completing the second phase of the staff leveling project, which involves research staff, replacing the budget planning tool, and operational improvements to human resources, payroll and supply chain functions.

  • CFO Julie Nickell presented a history of Baylor’s financial decision-making and explained how the reduction in 401(a) retirement plan contributions and other strategies helped the College maintain its workforce during the pandemic.
  • Dr. Sherita Love, executive director of interactive instruction and innovative delivery, detailed for the Education and Communication committees the extensive array of online tools available to faculty with teaching responsibilities and interests. Instructional design, faculty development and instructional multimedia development services and coaching are offered through the Education Innovation Core.
  • The Faculty Affairs and Administrative Operations committees of the senate met with executive leadership to discuss streamlining credentialling processes across affiliates. This project will be developed in FY 2022.
  • Dr. Christie Lincoln, chair, and senators Dr. David Rowley and Dr. Lee Lu ran the inaugural at-large faculty elections for institutional committees as part of their involvement in LCME workgroups.
  • The Strategic Planning Committee is gearing up to engage faculty participation as the 10-year plan, “Road to a Learning Health System,” rolls out in 2021.

Healthy Kudos: For the fifth straight year, Baylor College of Medicine has been recognized by Healthiest Employers LLC and the American Heart Association (AHA) for its outstanding health and well-being initiative, BCM BeWell. Baylor achieved the recognition of second place in Texas and 12th place nationally for the Healthiest Employers award and received the Gold recognition from the AHA.

Faculty Kudos

Dr. Benjamin Deneen, professor in the Center for Stem Cell & Regeneration, has posted a podcast about the life of Dr. Kenneth L. Scott, a Baylor professor and researcher for the NCI Center for Cancer Genomics Cancer Target Discovery and Development Network. Colleagues and friends discuss Scott’s vision for precision oncology, his experience with rare cancer and his unique relationship with the honey badger.

Dr. H Courtney Hodges, assistant professor in the Center for Precision Environmental Health, and Dr. Nate Hathaway of the University of North Carolina have been awarded a grant by The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research. The two are collaborating to develop new types of chemicals to restore genetic circuits that are frequently disrupted in cancer.

Dr. Doug Lawson, CEO of St. Luke’s Health and senior vice president of operations, Texas Division, at CommonSpirit Health, was commended by Texas CEO Magazine for his exceptional leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic. He was recognized for his support for innovative technologies like critical care ultrasonography and telemedicine. In related news, Baylor St. Luke's Medical Center earned an "A" safety grade from Leapfrog this week.

Dr. Krithika Lingappan, associate professor of pediatrics – neonatology, received a four-year NIH R01 grant for "Leveraging multiomics and advanced mouse models to delineate mechanisms underlying sex‐specific differences in recovery and repair after neonatal hyperoxia exposure in the developing lung." She also received a two-year R21 grant for "Sex as biological variable in Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia: Role of the Notch pathway."

Dr. M. Hossein Tcharmtchi, associate professor of pediatrics – critical care, has been appointed to the Credentials Committee of the American College of Critical Care Medicine, which focuses on intensive care quality management. He is charged with reviewing fellowship applications and making recommendations to the board.

Dr. Samuel Wu, professor and Camille and Raymond Hankamer Chair in Ophthalmology, received the Retina Research Foundation Paul Kayser International Award in Retina Research from the International Society for Eye Research. He delivered a lecture on “A2 Amacrine Cell-mediated Signaling Pathways in Health and Diseased Mammalian Retinas” during the ISER Award Winners webinar this week.

Dr. Elizabeth Zuniga-Sanchez, assistant professor of ophthalmology, is the inaugural recipient of the Genentech Career Development Award for Underrepresented Minority Emerging Vision Scientists from the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology. The two-year, $100,000 grant will support her work identifying key factors that guide wiring of photoreceptors to their respective synaptic targets, information that is critical for developing new therapies to treat patients with retinal diseases.

College Events

Cancer Grand Rounds: Dr. Abbas Rana assistant professor of surgery, discusses “Liver Transplant HCC” at 12:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 18, via Zoom, meeting ID: 387 923 767, passcode 831342.

Hematology Conference: The Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center presents the Hematology High Risk Conference, featuring two speakers during the holidays:

  • Dr. Michael Kroll of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center on “Hypercoagulable State” at noon Tuesday, Dec. 22, via Zoom, meeting ID: 387 923 767, passcode: 831342.
  • Dr. Joseph Mikhael of City of Hope Cancer Center on “Refractory Myeloma” at noon Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021, via Zoom, meeting ID 387 923 767, passcode: 831342.

Holiday Schedule: The College will be closed Friday, Dec. 25, in observance of Christmas. Faculty Commons will next publish on New Year’s Eve, Dec. 31.

  • Morrison Café, main Baylor campus, will be closed Thursday and Friday, Dec. 24 – 25.
  • Mary O’s Café, McNair Campus, will be closed Thursday and Friday, Dec. 24 – 25.
  • The TMC shuttle is off service Friday, Dec. 25. Remote parkers should make alternate plans. The Baylor shuttle is already on the holiday schedule.
  • The TMC Library will be closed from Thursday, Dec. 24, through Sunday, Jan. 3. 2021.

Faculty Opportunities

Community Outreach: The newly launched Baylor COATS (Community Outreach, Action, Training and Service) program is seeking staff, faculty, students and trainees who are interested in activities and opportunities to advance the College’s diversity, inclusion and equity goals. Learn more about Baylor COATS, and to participate, email institutionaldiversity@bcm.edu.

Postdoc Recruitment: Are you planning to hire a research postdoctoral associate next year? The Office of Postdoctoral Affairs sponsors the Postdoctoral Research Opportunities in Science program to recruit top senior graduate students from around the nation. A virtual event will be held in April where graduate students can meet with faculty, network with peers and learn about Baylor and Houston. Faculty can complete this form to identify themselves as potential postdoc mentors. Learn more about the program. Email questions to the postdoc office.

Faculty Resources

Policy Updates: The Board of Trustees approved several new and revised institutional policies and procedures in 2020, most notably: Faculty Performance Assessment and Development Policy (29.1.02); Title IX Misconduct & Grievance Policy (02.2.20) and Procedures (02.2.22); Policy Regarding Harassment, Discrimination, and Retaliation (02.2.25); Sexual Misconduct and Other Prohibited Conduct Policy (02.2.26); Accommodations for Employees and Employment Applicants with Disabilities (02.2.30); Diversity and Inclusion Policy (02.2.40); Influenza Vaccination Policy (18.1.04); and Public Emergency Response: Business Continuity Policy (18.3.01).

  • Additionally, the Board approved: Accommodations for Learners and Program Applicants with Disabilities (23.1.07); Student Appeals and Grievances Policy (23.1.08); Credit Hour Policy (23.1.11); Research Postdoctoral Scholars Grievances Policy (23.2.05); School of Medicine Policies (28.1.12 – 28.2.01) about technical standards, access to health care services, convictions, environmental hazards, and respirator fit testing, and more; and several HIPAA Privacy Policies (31.4.01, 31.4.02, 31.4.05, 31.4.11, and 31.4.21). For more information refer to 2020 Policy Updates, which describe other policy updates and modifications to related policies as necessary to align with these changes. Contact Megan Monroe, director of policy governance, with any questions or concerns.

USMLE Seminars: Register now for the IAMSE Winter 2021 Webcast Audio Seminar Series, “USMLE STEP-1 is going to Pass/Fail: Now What Do We Do?” Sessions begin at 11 a.m. Thursdays, Jan. 7 – Feb. 4, 2021, presented by the International Association of Medical Science Educators. To view, please email Faculty Development.

Emergency Distributions: Employees facing financial challenges because of the pandemic have been able to request CARES Act loans and distributions from retirement plans. The deadline for submitting a CARES Act Distribution request to the Baylor retirement team for withdrawals from the 401(a) plan at Fidelity is Monday, Dec. 21. Withdrawals from the 403(b) plan at Fidelity and TIAA can be submitted to Fidelity and TIAA through Dec. 30. This will allow for CARES Act distributions to be processed and distributed by Dec. 31. For questions, contact ask-retirement@bcm.edu or call 713-798-1500.

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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