Friday, August 11, 2017

From The Dean

Friday, August 11, 2017

The medical school Class of 2021 has started its studies! The class is entering the medical profession at a particularly exciting time in healthcare—and I’m not referring to the health insurance debate. Rather, I’m talking about the phenomenal opportunities these students will have to positively impact the lives of their patients when they complete their medical school studies in 2021. In my own field of cardiology, for example, the mortality rate from heart disease and stroke has fallen by about three-quarters in the past four decades. During their time here with us over the next four years, our students will learn about the importance of various modifiable risk factors for disease—and what to do to help patients modify those factors under their control (like diet, exercise, smoking cessation, and conscientiously taking medications for high blood pressure and high cholesterol). I distinctly remember my first day of medical school years ago, and still share the students’ excitement as their journey begins.

Susan and I have the pleasure and honor of jointly delivering the Dr. David and Lola Rognlie Monson Lecture address to this freshman medical school class later this afternoon at the White Coat Ceremony. We’ve chosen the topic, “A View from Both Sides: Marriage and Medicine in a Changing Social Environment,” to reflect our experiences over the past several decades as a married professional couple. And my, have times changed! 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, while our entering 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. If you can make it, we’d be happy if you can join us for the White Coat Ceremony that will be held later today at 5 p.m. in the Alerus Center Ballroom, 1200 S. 42nd St., in Grand Forks. The ceremonial address is named in honor of another couple—Dr. David and Lola Monson—whose generous donations to our medical education program enabled us to recruit Dr. Rick Van Eck to the School. Rick comes to us with a rigorous educational leadership background, and has helped us to bring our educational offerings to a new—and higher—level of excellence. Thank you again, David and Lola!

Finally, I’d like to share with you a few highlights from material that I presented to the new students and their families during Family Day at the SMHS earlier today. In analyzing some very recently available data from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), where our performance and achievements are compared with those of all other U.S. medical schools, it is clear that UND SMHS continues to perform a vital service for North Dakota (and note that some of the data are expressed in percentile terms, meaning that our school performed at least as well as, or better than, schools with lower scores):

  • Fraction of class practicing in rural areas -- 97th percentile
  • Fraction of class going into family medicine -- 98th percentile
  • Percent North Dakota family medicine physicians who trained at UND -- 72 percent
  • External funding (mainly federally supported research programs) -- $27.8 million

By the way, the nearly $28 million in external sponsored funding noted above is the largest amount of such funding in the history of the School! Much of it supports programs and research that directly impact the citizens of North Dakota.

Many of the other students in our health sciences programs will be arriving on campus soon as well, and in just a few short weeks the building will be buzzing with excitement and activity. I’d say that we are off to a great start for the new academic year!

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

Dean, UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences

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MD Class of 2021 White Coat Ceremony and Picnic to be held Friday, August 11

Seventy-nine first-year medical students, members of the Doctor of Medicine (MD) Class of 2021, are now on campus 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 will give the ceremony’s Dr. David and Lola Rognlie Monson Lectureship. 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. “This year, UND's 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!

Office of Education and Faculty Affairs sponsors ADA webinar to be held on Tuesday, August 15 at noon

Providing accommodation for students with disabilities is both a legal and moral obligation for colleges and universities, but confusion abounds about what constitutes a disability, what accommodations are effective and possible, and who is responsible for making these determinations.

To help faculty, administrators, and staff at UND SMHS better understand our institution’s obligations vis-à-vis ADA, the Office of Education and Faculty Affairs (OEFA) has purchased a 90-minute webinar on this topic to be broadcast on Tuesday, August 15, 2017, at 12:00 p.m. in SMHS room E493. This webinar, featuring a presentation by Tess O’Brien-Heinzen, Attorney at Law with Boardman & Clark, is open and relevant to anyone who teaches or works in the SMHS. If you cannot attend the event, OEFA has secured access to a download of the webinar for later viewing. Please join us for this event as your schedule allows and feel free to bring lunch with you as lunch is not provided.

Please RSVP here for planning purposes.

More information is available here.

Dr. Joel Erickson presents Psychiatry Grand Rounds on Wednesday, August 16 in Fargo

Joel Erickson, MD, will present "Parasomnia Side Effects of Z-Hypnotic Medications” from 12:10 p.m. to 1:10 p.m. on Wednesday, August 16, at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences Southeast Campus auditorium in Fargo, N.D.

Dr. Erickson is a fourth-year resident in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science. Saif Mashaqi, MD, a physician board certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine in Sleep Medicine, will serve as Dr. Erickson’s discussant.

The objectives of his talk are to:

  • Describe insomnia and its treatments
  • Differentiate Z-drugs and how they work
  • Explore parasomnia side-effects and how they relate to Z-drugs

This Grand Rounds presentation, sponsored by the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences and the School’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, is broadcast via video conference to sites throughout North Dakota and Minnesota and is also streamed via personal computers. If you want information on how to attend, please contact Betty Jo Tostenson at 701.293.4101 or

The University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences designates this live activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™. Physicians should only claim the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Ralph Hutton retirement reception set for Thursday, August 24

Please join SMHS staff and faculty on Thursday, August 24, from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. in Room E493 at the SMHS in Grand Forks to congratulate Facilities Systems Specialist Ralph Hutton on his retirement from the University. Cake and coffee will be served. All SMHS faculty and staff are welcome to attend.

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, November 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., in Boston, Mass.

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

Please RSVP by October 9.

More information on this gathering is available here.

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Amanda Young receives Cedar award for Native American women advocacy

Amanda Young received the American Psychological Association (APA) Division 35 Section 6 Fire Keeper Cedar Award at the annual APA Convention held in Washington, D.C., recently. The award honors outstanding American Indian graduate students who perpetuate Indigenous ways of knowing, fueling the fires of scientific knowledge and weaving the threads of community together in ways that honor and sustain the Native American legacy.  

Young was selected for the award for her advocacy in bringing awareness to missing, murdered, sex trafficked, and raped Native American women.

Young is a graduate assistant with the Seven Generations Center of Excellence (SGCoE) program at the Center for Rural Health at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences. She is currently a second year student in the Masters Counseling Psychology and Community Service program at UND. Young is originally from the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa community, in Dunseith, N.D., but is an enrolled member of the Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara Nation (MHA).

Young works within an Indigenous framework to promote collective and spiritual ways of thinking when interacting with clients and peers. Her advocacy and outreach efforts have brought light to Native women's exploitation and how it affects the mental health of Native women and their communities.

The Cedar award is named symbolically after the Cedar tree and its many uses in Native culture. It is awarded to graduate students who have completed research or service that focuses on the needs of Indigenous communities and has made a meaningful contribution to Native American/Indigenous psychology and/or local Indigenous community efforts.

Melissa Wheeler receives award for contributions to Native and Indigenous Psychology

Melissa Wheeler recently received the American Psychological Association (APA) Division 45 The Society for the Psychological Study of Culture, Ethnicity, and Race, Joseph E. Trimble Outstanding Student in Native/Indigenous Psychology Award at the annual APA Convention held in Washington, D.C. The award honors outstanding American Indian graduate students who have made significant contributions toward making psychology responsive and relevant to the needs of Native and indigenous communities.

Wheeler received the recognition in part for her research contributions and passion in helping mend the psychological and health disparities in Native populations.

Wheeler is a research specialist for the National Indigenous Elder Justice Initiative (NIEJI) Innovation program at the Center for Rural Health (CRH) at the University of North Dakota (UND) School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Grand Forks. She received her Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology with an emphasis in Addictions at UND. Wheeler is from Round Rock, Ariz., and a member of the Navajo Nation. 

Wheeler co-authored an article in the Journal of Community Psychology entitled, “Assessment of Risk and Protection in Native American Youth: Steps Toward Conducting Culturally Relevant, Sustainable Prevention in Indian Country.” She is a member of the National Association for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC) and the American Psychological Association. She is also a past fellow of the NAADAC Minority Fellowship Program for Addiction Counselors.

The Joseph E. Trimble Outstanding Student in Native/Indigenous Psychology Award was created in honor of Joseph E. Trimble’s contributions to making Native and Indigenous psychology responsive and relevant to the needs of Native and Indigenous communities.

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Great Plains IDeA-CTR Scholars Program Applications Due Sept. 11

The Great Plains IDeA-CTR Network is pleased to announce that funding through a 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.

To apply for the grant, send a letter of intent (maximum of two pages) to the Great Plains IDeA-CTR Network by Sept. 11, 2017. In your letter, please 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. Finally, 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 is available 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 and UND 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”
  • Dr. Nadeem Khan (University of North Dakota): “A double edge function of host type 17 immunity in pneumococcal infections”

In addition, investigators from the University of North Dakota 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 registrationPrior registration is appreciated.

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

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

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