Friday, August 04, 2017

From The Dean

Friday, August 04, 2017

It is fun to see the new building on the Northeast Campus (Grand Forks) come back to life with the return of our students. While student education and research activities go on year-round in the building, activity really picks up as the new fall semester begins. In fact, the medical student Class of 2021 starts this Monday, August 7. Susan and I are hosting a welcome reception for the first-year medical students on Monday evening. It always is exciting to see their enthusiasm and energy!

One of the terrific student programs that occurs during the summer culminated yesterday when 50 undergraduate students presented the results of their summer research at the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience poster session. The one-day event was held on the second floor of the new building. For the past 10 weeks, students from UND, as well as from rural and tribal colleges in Minnesota, North Dakota, and across the nation, conducted research and participated in a number of related educational activities. Students worked shoulder-to-shoulder with their mentor scientists from the UND Department of Biology, the UND Department of Civil Engineering, the UND SMHS Departments of Pathology and Biomedical Sciences, Cankdeska Cikana Community College, and the UND SMHS Center for Rural Health. One of the goals of the summer research program is to provide students with the opportunity to work directly with an established research scientist. An additional goal is to recruit students, especially those from rural and tribal colleges, for future participation in UND undergraduate and graduate programs.

These activities are important for the state, and are in keeping with the School’s purpose as established by the people of North Dakota through their Legislature. As I’ve mentioned before, the School is the only institution of higher education in the state whose purpose is clearly defined by statute. For us, the North Dakota Century Code Section 15-52-01 defines our direction, which is “to educate physicians and other health professionals for subsequent service in North Dakota (and the) discovery of knowledge that benefits the people of this state and enhances the quality of their lives.” The School’s Summer Undergraduate Research Experience does both. Congratulations to all involved!

For me, it is gratifying to write about educational and research activities at the School, rather than recounting the latest development in the budget challenges that higher education (and the state) have been facing. The School’s budget situation for this biennium (July 2017–June 2019) is stable, and we’ve been able to meet the budget challenges we faced through the ingenuity, sacrifice, and hard work of our faculty and staff. And there may be good news on the status of the state’s financial situation. As reported by Pam Sharp, the director of the state’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB), in a presentation to the Government Finance Interim Committee this past Wednesday, overall state revenues are up almost 1 percent above forecast, with sales tax income up almost 2 percent and corporate income tax receipts up over 4 percent. And even with the recent downturn in state revenues, receipts still are above the pre-boom era. Maybe, just maybe, we’ve reached the bottom of the downturn and we’re on the way back up. Here is a link to the OMB report.

Finally, I hope that you’ve been thinking about the “teaser” on healthcare insurance that I left with you in last week’s E-News column. To refresh your memory, I asked you to consider this question: How does the way most people think about health insurance differ from the actual intent and purpose of insurance? I plan to give my answer to this question when my series on healthcare systems and healthcare insurance begins soon.

Joshua Wynne, MD, MBA, MPH
UND Vice President for Health Affairs

Dean, UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences

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Save the Date: White Coat Ceremony and Picnic

Seventy-nine first-year medical students, members of the Doctor of Medicine (MD) Class of 2021, begin their journey next week to become physicians at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences (UND SMHS).

Medical students’ first week is dedicated to orientation, including introduction to UND’s nationally recognized, four-year, patient-centered curriculum, where biomedical and clinical sciences are taught in the context of an interdisciplinary educational setting. Special emphasis is placed on the students’ new roles and expectations of them as healthcare professionals.

Orientation concludes with the White Coat Ceremony at 5 p.m., August 11, in the Alerus Center Ballroom, 1200 S. 42nd St., in Grand Forks where students receive their first white coats, the physician’s traditional garment, which have been donated by the North Dakota Medical Association. Students will also recite the Oath of Hippocrates, a vow physicians have been taking for more than 2,000 years to uphold basic ethical principles of the medical profession. Each student will receive a lapel pin, donated by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, engraved with the phrase “Humanism in Medicine.”

This year, two speakers are slated to give the ceremony’s Dr. David and Lola Rognlie Monson Lecture. Dr. Joshua Wynne, professor of Internal Medicine, vice president of Health Affairs at UND, and dean of the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences, and his spouse, Dr. Susan Farkas, clinical associate professor of Internal Medicine at the UND SMHS, will give a joint presentation entitled “A View from Both Sides: Marriage and Medicine in a Changing Social Environment.” “When I entered internal medicine residency training years ago, there were 12 fellow interns who were men, and only one woman—a 93 percent to 7 percent ratio,” commented Dr. Wynne. “On Monday, our medical student class of 2021 is composed of 37 men and 42 women, which is a 47 percent to 53 percent ratio. What a change that represents.”

After the ceremony, the School will host an indoor picnic for students, family, and friends at the Alerus Center.

The 42 women and 37 men, ranging in age from 21 to 41 years, come to medical school with experience in an array of fields and academic degrees, including: American Indian studies; anthropology; behavioral neuroscience; behavioral sciences; Bible; biochemistry; biochemistry and molecular biology; biological sciences; biology; biomedical sciences; business economics; business management; cell and molecular biology; cell biology and neuroscience; chemistry; economics; English; genetics, cell biology, and development; health science; honors; human developmental neuroscience; interdisciplinary studies; international studies; mechanical engineering; medical technology; microbiology; bacteriology; music; psychology; radiology; religious studies; respiratory therapy; Spanish; and zoology. Some students already hold advanced degrees, including master’s degrees in anthropology, business administration, healthcare management, nutrition, Portuguese, and public health. Four students hold Doctor of Philosophy degrees: one in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, one in Chemistry, and two in Pharmacy.

Hope to see you there!

Inaugural Scientific Meeting of the Great Plains IDeA-CTR Network is Oct. 23-24, 2017

The UND SMHS is a member of the Great Plains IDeA-CTR Network, which will hold its inaugural scientific meeting on Oct. 23–24, 2017, at the University of Nebraska Medical Center's Truhlsen Event Center in Omaha.

The Great Plains IDeA-CTR Network was created by a $20 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha (UNMC), the largest grant ever in the center’s history. Funding is provided through the Institutional Development Award (IDeA) program and the NIH’s National Institute of General Medical Studies. It will focus on developing early career researchers into independent scientists and increasing the infrastructure and other resources needed to support clinical/translational research (CTR) around the region.

Jonathan D. Geiger, Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences at the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences, serves on the leadership team.

In addition to UNMC, the Nebraska institutions involved in the network include the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Nebraska at Omaha, University of Nebraska at Kearney, and Boys Town National Research Hospital. Other participants are the University of South Dakota, University of North Dakota, North Dakota State University, and the University of Kansas Medical Center.

The program will highlight presentations on clinical and translational research and resources, team science, community engagement activities, a mock study review panel, and more!

UND / USD Alumni Reception in Boston

A reception will be held for University of North Dakota and University of South Dakota alumni on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017 in Boston, Mass. The reception will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the Dartmouth Room of Boston Marriott Copley Place, 110 Huntington Ave.

Hors d’oeuvres and refreshments will be served. All alumni and friends are welcome!

Please RSVP by October 9. More information available here.

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Doctor of Physical Therapy Class of 2019 begins clinical studies

Fifty-two University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences students, members of the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) Class of 2019, start the clinical studies portion of their journey to become doctors of physical therapy on August 14, 2017.

The students, 27 women and 25 men, range in age from 20 to 26 years, with the average age of 22.67. Many are from North Dakota, and most completed their pre-PT coursework at UND.

The first three years of the PT curriculum at the UND SMHS are considered to be pre-physical therapy (undergraduate, pre-professional work). The professional component of the DPT requires three academic years and two summer sessions following completion of the 90-credit pre-physical therapy entrance requirement. After completing their first year of the professional component of the physical therapy curriculum, students have to pass an intense, comprehensive examination before they begin their clinical studies, which typically occur outside the Greater Grand Forks area.

Clinical experiences are a crucial component of the UND physical therapy curriculum and take place at more than 300 clinical sites across the nation. These experiences meld academic learning with hands-on clinical experience. Students participate in direct delivery of physical therapy services in a variety of settings under the direction and supervision of one or more clinical instructors. A physical therapist is on-site during the delivery of any service by a student physical therapist.

Earlier this summer, students received their white coats at an Entrance Into Professional Service Ceremony in Grand Forks.

The event’s keynote speaker was Dr. Laurie Betting, PT, DPT, senior advisor to UND President Mark Kennedy. Dr. Betting is a UND PT alumnus with more than 15 years of increasing responsibility and service at UND, including national recognition for award-winning facilities, programs, and services. She has been presented with the UND Presidential Medal of Honor, the Charles E. Kupchella Preventive Medicine and Wellness Award, and APTA Emerging Leader Award.

According to David Relling, PT, PhD, associate professor and chair of the Department of Physical Therapy, the ceremony emphasized to the students the professionalism required in the clinic and within the physical therapy profession.

“Students are making the transition from being a student to being a health care professional. With that transition comes a great deal of responsibility and accountability to themselves and to their patients,” noted Relling. “For many students, this will be the first life experience they will have had that requires such a high level of professionalism and responsibility. We have trained them well, they have worked hard, and we anticipate they will do a great job working within a comprehensive, interprofessional health care team.”

The full list of Class of 2019 DPT students at UND SMHS can be found here

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Request for Applications: Great Plains IDeA-CTR Scholars Program

The Great Plains IDeA-CTR Network is pleased to announce that funding through an National Institutes of Health (NIH)/National Institute of General Medical Sciences grant is available to support two faculty who are in the early stages of their career.

We are requesting a letter of intent (maximum of two pages), to include: project title, principal investigator and mentor(s), participating institution(s), study aims, hypothesis, methods (brief overview of design, sample, measures, statistical analysis plan), and a statement addressing how the project advances clinical and translational research. Also, include a specific paragraph listing your training needs to support your research program. In addition, submit your NIH biosketch.

Up to 10 applicants will be invited to submit a full application. Those invited to submit full applications will be notified by Oct. 2, 2017. The RFA and requirements for invitees are detailed below. Please email your letter of intent and NIH biosketch as a single PDF document to the Great Plains IDeA-CTR Office at

Solicited applications will be due Nov. 20, 2017.

More information here.

UND Host-Pathogen Interactions CoBRE Symposium Set for Sept. 18

The Center for Biomedical Research Excellence (CoBRE) for Host-Pathogen Interactions is inviting UND faculty, staff and graduate and undergraduate students to attend the Annual Host-Pathogen CoBRE Symposium to be held at the University of North Dakota Gorecki Alumni Center on Monday, September 18, 2017. This event will bring together experts studying cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying host responses in acute infections and chronic disease conditions, and will include a poster session showcasing research carried out by UND faculty, graduate and undergraduate students.

Confirmed Speakers for the event are:

  • Dr. Elaine Tuomanen (St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital): “Expanding bacterial signaling vocabulary from inflammation to neuroproliferation”
  • Dr. Anjana Rao (La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology): “Epigenetic and transcriptional responses driven by the calcium-calcineurin-NFAT pathway in T cells”
  • Several investigators from the University of North Dakota, who will present their research related to infection and immunity

This event aims to promote interaction and collaboration among researchers in the area and provide opportunities for learning about cutting-edge tools, approaches, and resources to advance their research in broad areas of infection and inflammation as it applies to human disease.

Interested researchers are encouraged to submit an abstract of their poster presentation (to be held in the afternoon on Sept. 18) to Angie Olson ( by Friday, August 11, or at the time of on-line registration.

The event, which runs from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. is free, and a continental breakfast and lunch will be provided. The Gorecki Alumni Center is located at 3501 University Avenue in Grand Forks.

A more detailed invitation with schedule information will be made available soon.

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