Friday, August 25, 2017

From The Dean

Friday, August 25, 2017

As we start this new academic year without several long-time loyal and incredibly hardworking members of our leadership team due to retirement (including Randy Eken, Dr. Gwen W. Halaas, and Gene DeLorme), it is obvious just how challenging it will be to continue their good work in their absence. One positive benefit that can come out of this challenging situation, however, is the opportunity to reassess the organizational structure of the School and to consider more efficient and effective ways of doing things. After considering all of this for some months now and discussing some options with the School’s senior leadership team, I’m pleased to share some changes that we have instituted and will be effective immediately.

First of all, it is imperative that the SMHS has robust representation and coordination with the other UND deans, all of whom report to Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Tom DiLorenzo. (As you may know, as dean I report to UND’s Vice President for Health Affairs, which happens to be me; as VP, I report directly to President Kennedy.) Dr. Halaas represented me and the School admirably over the past many years in formal and informal interactions with other UND deans, Provost DiLorenzo, and other offices and units throughout UND. To continue these positive and productive interactions, I’ve asked Associate Dean for Education and Faculty Affairs Dr. Ken Ruit to assume Dr. Halaas’s role as the School’s university representative. In this role, Dr. Ruit will represent me as well as the SMHS in discussions and interactions with other schools, colleges, programs, and units at UND. I will continue—as before—to coordinate with President Kennedy and the other UND Vice Presidents, as well as represent the SMHS with the UND Alumni Association and Foundation, the North Dakota University System, the North Dakota Legislature, the news media, and the general public.

So that explains the “external” representation and interactions of the School. What about internally? We have tweaked our current organizational chart in several modest but important ways that should bring enhanced clarity as to who does and is responsible for what at the School. The new structure highlights the important reality that we are a school of medicine and of health sciences. Accordingly, all educational activities related to the medical curriculum are now under the direction of Senior Associate Dean for Medicine and Research Dr. Marc Basson. This shift required a change in the reporting relationship of Dr. Pat Carr, whose new title of Assistant Dean for Medical Curriculum better reflects what he does so well, which is manage the curriculum on a day-to-day basis. Dr. Carr, who now reports to Dr. Basson, used to focus just on the first two years of the medical student curriculum; now he will coordinate all four years of students’ medical education. Dr. Basson will thus oversee the entire progression of a doctor’s maturation from medical student to practicing physician. That is, he now oversees all four years of the medical school curriculum, the School’s post-MD degree residency programs that last from one to five years, and the continuing medical education programs we offer to practicing physicians throughout the state. Additionally, the MD-PhD program, coordinated by Dr. John Watt, will now be under Dr. Basson’s direction.

Dr. Basson’s other hat (in addition to medical education) is as the senior administrator overseeing our research programs. Accordingly, Dr. Colin Combs, Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Biomedical Sciences, will now report directly to Dr. Basson, rather than to me as he did previously. For the first time, we’ll have one person who can help coordinate our basic and clinical research programs; in fact, this intersection between the bench and the bedside is an area where the School is uniquely positioned to rapidly expand our touch in the realm of clinical and translational research, which will be good news for the citizens of North Dakota who will profit from the more rapid application of things we’ve learned in the laboratory to treating their ailments and diseases.

Similarly, we’ve moved all of the health sciences departments and programs—all those that are not part of the medical curriculum or research—under Associate Dean for Health Sciences Dr. Tom Mohr. This meant moving the Department of Population Health and the associated Master of Public Health Program under the Health Sciences umbrella and Dean Mohr.

The SMHS’s Center for Rural Health and Center for Health Promotion and Prevention Research will continue to report directly to me, at least for the present, since such a reporting relationship of center directors to school deans is pretty typical around the country.

The three other associate deans will now have clear enterprise-wide responsibilities that transcend either just the medical or the health sciences domains. Dr. Ruit will head the Education and Faculty Affairs operation, and all activities under his oversight relate to functions that are not discipline-specific—Faculty Affairs, Simulation Center, Information Resources (computer and information technology), Library Resources, Interprofessional Education, and Education Resources. Thus, Dr. Ruit will head a group that works to assist faculty and students throughout the School, regardless of discipline, location, or focus.

Dr. Joy Dorscher will continue to oversee Student Affairs and Admissions. While an important part of her operation is in fact discipline-specific (for medical students), many other functions apply to students throughout the School, including welcoming prospective students into the building and the health professions, and ensuring that student policies are uniform throughout the School, regardless of discipline. And since our esteemed Indians Into Medicine (INMED) program deals with students, it will now be under Student Affairs. This new reporting relationship is especially relevant now, since Dr. Dorscher has been kind enough to also function as the Interim Director of the INMED program since the retirement of Gene DeLorme.

Finally, the Office of Administration and Finance will continue its oversight of the School’s varied operations and finances. Obviously, this is an enterprise-wide responsibility. We are in the process of searching for a new leader for this vital unit, but until then, I’m delighted that my Chief of Staff Judy Solberg has agreed to provide oversight of this unit as Interim Director.

These updates and improvements in our organizational structure should improve our ability to deliver on our triple missions of education, discovery, and service. An ancillary benefit of the changes, while not the motivating stimulus, is that we are able to improve the School’s functionality while simultaneously reducing our expenditures. And that’s the defining aspect of what is known as a high-value proposition—higher quality at lower cost. We’re all excited about the changes. Let me know if you have any comments or suggestions for other improvements and enhancements we should consider.

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

Dean, UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences

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Joggin' with Josh scheduled for Thursday, September 7

Joshua Wynne, M.D., M.B.A., M.P.H., University of North Dakota vice president for Health Affairs and dean of the School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS), invites the community and all students, faculty, and staff at the School and the University to advocate healthful lifestyles by joining him for Joggin’ with Josh, an informal 5K, 10K, or one-mile walk, jog, or run on Thursday, September 7. This is a free public event. Everyone is welcome to participate, so please bring your family and friends.

A registration table will be located in the East Atrium of the School of Medicine and Health Sciences at the south entrance to the School, 1301 N. Columbia Rd. Event registration and T-shirt pickup starts at 4 p.m. The dean will speak to the group before the event, which starts at 4:30 p.m. To get a head start on your fellow participants, please complete the registration form available online and bring it with you to the SMHS on the day of the event. Forms will also be available in the SMHS East Atrium before the event.

Walkers, joggers, and runners are asked to gather on the patio outside the East Atrium before taking off on a route along the outskirts of campus. A water station will be located at the halfway point of the 5K, and water and healthful snacks will be available after the event.

UND Host-Pathogen Interactions CoBRE Symposium set for September 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.

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

Zen in 10 returns

Zen in 10 focuses on stretching, breathing, and having fun with coworkers. Go back to work with less stress, more energy, and better body functioning.

Sessions are from 10:40 a.m. to 10:50 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays from Sept. 12 to Oct. 19 on the east patio at the SMHS in Grand Forks. In the event of inclement weather, the event will move to W201 on Sept. 12 and Oct. 10, and the Charles H. Fee, MD, Auditorium on all other days.

Services provided by Kay Williams, Certified Yoga and Relax and Renew Instructor®.

Inaugural Scientific Meeting of the Great Plains IDeA-CTR Network is October 23-24

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 North Dakota, North Dakota State University, the University of Kansas Medical Center, and the University of South Dakota.

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 on November 4

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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Singh receives first portion of multiyear grant from NIH and DHHS

Brij Singh, Ph.D., professor and assistant dean for research at UND’s School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) and professor in the School’s Department of Biomedical Sciences, has received the first-year portion ($330,125) of a five-year, $1.65 million R01 grant for a project entitled “Epigenetic Regulations in Sjogren’s Syndrome.” The grant was awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the National Institutes of Health.

Sjogren’s Syndrome is an autoimmune disease that affects primarily moisture-secreting glands, especially in women over age 40. The syndrome’s most common early symptoms are dry eyes and mouth. Dr. Singh’s project seeks to understand how epigenomic changes in specific genes over women’s lifetimes affects the activation of immune cells that result in Sjogren’s Syndrome.

Epigenomics is the study of the epigenetic modifications (changes in the traits a person’s genes express that cannot be attributed to DNA) on the genetic material of a cell.

“Sjogren’s often occurs in conjunction with other autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus,” explains Dr. Singh. “It seems that as some people age, especially some genes on the X-chromosomes—females have two X-chromosomes and one of them is randomly inactivated—begin to ‘lose control’ of their inactivation mechanism for a number of reasons, including epigenetic changes. Thus, the long-term goal of this project is to elucidate the role of epigenetic regulations in the onset of Sjogren’s.”

If left undiagnosed and untreated, the syndrome results in certain cancers, lymphoma in particular, in more than 50 percent of patients. Researchers estimate that more than 1 million people around the world are affected by Sjogren’s, with many never knowing they have the condition.

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Education Corner: In Defense of the Lowly Lecture

You are probably wondering why someone like me, who has long extolled the virtues of Active Learning (AL), would write in defense of lectures.

Recently, the Washington Post reported that the University of Vermont’s (UV’s) College of Medicine plans to replace live lectures with videos to be watched outside of class in order to make more room in the curriculum for AL strategies like problem-based learning. This is a good thing, because AL produces higher test scores and 50% lower failure rates. Even the smallest effect would move a student from the 50th percentile to the 70th. But this decision by Vermont created headlines and discussions about whether the lecture is “dead,” including in the New England Journal of Medicine, where two authors ask whether the move to AL is a paradigm shift or a passing fad.

So why would anyone want to defend the lecture?

The language used implies a binary choice: that AL is always better than lectures and that lectures have no place in the curriculum. In fact, UV’s initiative is not “getting rid” of lectures so much as shifting the method and timing of their delivery. What is important is the format and quality of the instructional messages conveyed by any approach. Lectures are not inherently worse than other strategies; they just tend to be overused and poorly designed. A nationwide study showed that lecture was used nearly 53 percent of the time in elementary school alone, and the estimates are higher in college. No approach to learning is the ideal format for more than half of all public education.

Lectures are often used for information transfer, with teachers packing information onto slides and reading them fast enough to finish by the end of class. In the future, I will write about Gagné’s nine events of instruction, which lie at the heart of all effective learning activities. For now, suffice it to say that information transfer addresses at most two of these nine events (inform the learner of the objectives, and present stimulus material), ignoring the arguably more important events of providing guidance, eliciting performance, and providing feedback—which approaches like AL tend to incorporate. But this need not be the case; a well-designed instructional activity will always trump a poorly designed activity, regardless of the approach used.

So what are the potential strengths of a well-designed lecture, and where and when should lectures be used? First, lectures can embed any instructional strategy we choose, including AL, as I have written and presented on previously. Mini-lectures are routinely incorporated into AL to reinforce key concepts and activate prior knowledge, and the flipped classroom often consists of recorded lectures.

But lectures can serve even more important learning purposes. Consuming information is not the same thing as understanding what it means, how one idea relates to another, or how that knowledge applies to real-world contexts. Well-designed lectures allow an expert to convey these things through the way he/she organizes, presents, and discusses ideas. They allow us to model how an expert thinks. The inclusion of questions allows us to gauge student learning and ensure mastery of prerequisite ideas before moving on. And, lectures can be engaging, as anyone who has ever watched a TED Talk knows. They allow the instructor to model his/her passion, which promotes relevance, context, and attitudes that, in turn, promote future learning.

Yes, we use lectures too much and often for the wrong reasons, and through poor design they tend to promote fewer of the instructional events mentioned above compared to other approaches. But that does not mean lectures have no value and thus no place in our curriculum. Rather, we must use them (and all instructional approaches!) purposefully.  

In many countries, the passing of one monarch and accession of a new one were announced simultaneously: “The king is dead; long live the king!” If the overused and poorly designed lecture has been the king of instruction and our future holds a more balanced curriculum of well-designed strategies, including a good lecture, then I say, “The lecture is dead; long live the lecture!”

Evidence-Based Teaching: A Threaded Discussion Strategy to Build Student Expertise

The Evidence-Based Teaching (EBT) Group will meet at 2:00 p.m. on Monday, August 28, 2017, in SMHS room W202. Dr. Richard Van Eck, Associate Dean for Teaching and Learning, will present on the use of a threaded discussion strategy to build learner expertise.

Online or distance learning is often asynchronous in nature (i.e., students and instructors do not interact with each other at the same time and/or place), making it difficult to promote the same level of engagement and processing of content--as typically happens with synchronous learning. Threaded discussion boards theoretically allow for meaningful asynchronous discussion, but without careful planning such boards result in shallow discussion of ideas and a lack of social interaction and community that the best synchronous discussions often generate.

This session will give attendees an effective strategy for developing threaded discussions appropriate for online or face-to-face courses. This strategy was validated through a discourse analysis of student contributions over a five-week graduate course. The strategy, analysis suggests, leads to content and group leadership expertise for all students and illustrates how community is actually a necessary prerequisite for expertise. We will discuss the strategy, research on it, and applications to different courses.

The Evidence-Based Teaching group meets every three weeks at the same time. This group will host topics as determined by the expressed interest of its members. It is free and open to anyone—no RSVP needed! If you are interested in anything related to Evidence-Based Teaching (assessment, online learning, precepting, active learning, simulation, ADA compliance, or any topic you see fit), join us and let us know what you’d like to see at future meetings. If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact Shae Samuelson at

Turning Technology to offer on-site training on August 31 at SMHS for faculty using clickers

Stephanie Naoum, a representative from Turning Technology, will be at the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences on Thursday, August 31, 2017. She will be available from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in room E224 to answer questions from faculty already using clickers in the classroom, and help orient faculty and staff who would like to do so. Please RSVP to or 777-6349 if you plan to attend.

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Writing an NIH grant proposal? Update your Personal Profile

The Grants Management Office at the SMHS encourages any faculty, staff, and graduate students developing grant proposals for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) through the Application Submission System & Interface for Submission Tracking (ASSIST) system to update their NIH personal profile, including the employment section. Why? We have learned that some information is automatically pulled into ASSIST through the researchers’ NIH commons ID. Updating your profile will not only guarantee that your most current information is “caught” by the ASSIST system, but should save you time—and possibly some headaches—come submission time.

And as a reminder, applicants can also apply for NIH grants using Workspace, which separates the application package into individual forms. Applicants can create a workspace, complete the individual PDF forms, and submit their application workspace package. For any funding opportunities where applicants have downloaded the legacy PDF application package, they will be able to continue to submit that package until March 31, 2018. For any funding opportunities where applicants have NOT already downloaded the legacy PDF application package, they will be able to continue to download and submit through December 31, 2017.

For more information about Workspace, please visit our various Workspace resources:

For more information, feel free to contact Diane Hillebrand, CRA, Grants Manager at the SMHS, at

Public Health Service Financial Conflict of Interest Education: Thursday, September 21

U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) requires that all PHS grantees, or those considering submitting grant applications to PHS, complete a mandatory education class. According to the policy, all grantees working on research funded by PHS agencies must be trained in Conflict of Interest every four years. UND's Division of Research & Economic Development will be conducting a PHS Conflict of Interest session on the following date:

  • Thursday, September 21 – 9:00 a.m., Memorial Union, President’s Room

PHS grantees only need to attend this session if you have not attended one in the past four years. PHS agencies include:

  • National Institutes of Health (NIH)
  • Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)
  • Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR)
  • Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)
  • Indian Health Services (IHS)
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

Sessions will be coordinated by Barry Milavetz, Ph.D., Associate Vice President for Research & Economic Development.

Great Plains IDeA-CTR Scholars Program applications due September 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.

Call for abstracts from American College of Physicians - N.D. Chapter

Compete to win a trip to New Orleans in 2018!

Do you excel at research or clinical evaluations? Have you come across an interesting case where your colleagues could benefit from your findings? Do you have any projects that promote patient safety or outcomes measurement? Don’t miss this opportunity to submit a medical abstract to the American College of Physicians - North Dakota State Chapter competition. The winner of the competition will be eligible to enter the National Poster Competition at the ACP's Internal Medicine Meeting, to be held in April 2018 in New Orleans, La.

This competition offers an exciting opportunity for Medical Students and Residents to present research and case reports at a prestigious event and to gain recognition from peers and internal medicine leaders. Abstracts/Posters could focus on any of the following categories: Clinical Vignette, Research Paper, and Quality Improvement / Patient Safety.

The poster competition will be held on Thursday, September 21, 2017, at the UND Medical Education Center in Fargo, N.D. Posters will be displayed at the ACP North Dakota Chapter Scientific Meeting on September 22, 2017, at the Hilton Garden Inn in Fargo.

Abstracts have a 450 word limit, excluding the title. See these guidelines for abstractsThe deadline for abstracts is Friday, August 25, 2017.

Please submit abstracts in MS Word format to Carla Mosser (

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