Friday, January 12, 2018

From The Dean

Friday, January 12, 2018

First, a couple of reminders about two upcoming events next week:

  • The next Java with Josh will be next Wednesday, January 17 from 8:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. in the Tello-Skjerseth Atrium (across from the departments of Family and Community Medicine and Population Health office suite). Please join me for a conversation about matters of interest regarding the School over a cup of coffee or tea. Faculty, staff, and students are invited to attend.
  • The very next day—Thursday, January 18—I will present the annual SMHS "State of the School Address" in the Charles H. Fee, MD, Auditorium (Room E101). I would like to invite all faculty members to attend this Faculty Assembly, which will begin at 3:30 p.m. (CST) and will be broadcast to our campuses in Bismarck (Room 2108), Fargo (Room 219), and Minot (Northwest Campus Conference Room–Trinity Location) via videoconference.

I hope to see you at both events! But for those of you unable to attend the Faculty Assembly (either in person or virtually), I’ll post my presentation slides on our website following the talk and provide the URL in next week’s E-News column.

In February, I will be traveling to Chicago for the quarterly meeting of the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME), the accrediting body for medical schools and medical school curricula. As a new member of the LCME (I’ve been a member of the LCME for under a year), I’m still learning about the LCME, but I continue to be impressed by the professionalism of its staff. The following month I’ll be chairing an LCME survey team visit to a major West Coast medical school. Both of these trips remind me that our next LCME accreditation visit is “only” four years away (likely in March 2022). But unlike our prior visits, we are not waiting until two years or so before the visit to start getting ready; rather, we have been preparing continuously since the last visit under the oversight of Steve Tinguely, MD, assistant dean for medical accreditation and chief medical accreditation officer. Our ongoing preparation undoubtedly will involve a final preparation push in 2021 and 2022, but should be much less arduous than previously. More importantly, the process of continuous quality improvement (CQI) has become an industry standard and best practice. And I’m proud to say that our School has implemented a process for CQI and preparation for our next accreditation visit. In fact, the LCME only recently adopted a requirement for CQI—but we’ve been doing it since our last accreditation visit in 2014.

Finally, I recently had the opportunity to meet with some people who are actively involved in efforts to deal with the opioid and substance abuse problem in the state, including our own Andy McLean, MD, clinical professor and chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science; and Pam Gulleson, vice president for public affairs and government relations at Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota (BCBSND). As you know, misuse and overdose of opioids have become a serious public health problem in North Dakota and throughout the United States. I was pleased to learn that the BCBSND Caring Foundation has partnered with Prairie Public Broadcasting, Bell Bank and Dakota Medical Foundation to produce a 30-minute documentary about how North Dakota is addressing this problem. The documentary spotlights not only some of the things North Dakotans, opioid users, affected families, health care professionals, educators, businesses, and community members need to know about the opioid epidemic, but, most importantly, how they can take action in helping solve the problem. Here is a link to the video documentary. As you will see, it is quite powerful and compelling. I urge you to view it soon.

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

Dean, UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences

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Dr. Wynne to give State of the School address on Thursday, Jan. 18

Dr. Joshua Wynne, UND's Vice President for Health Affairs and Dean of the School of Medicine and Health Sciences, will present his "State of the School" address at 3:30 p.m. (CST) on Thursday, Jan. 18 in the Charles H. Fee, MD, Auditorium (E101) at the SMHS in Grand Forks. Please place this important Faculty Assembly on your calendar as we encourage all faculty members to attend.

Faculty at our other campuses can connect to the event through videoconferencing at the following sites:

  • Bismarck campus – Room 2108
  • Fargo campus – Room 219
  • Minot – Campus Conference Room – Trinity Location

We look forward to seeing you there.

Next Java with Josh to be held on Jan. 17

You are invited to join Dean Joshua Wynne for complimentary coffee or tea at Java with Josh from 8:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 17 in the Tello-Skjerseth Atrium (across the hall from the Family and Community Medicine and Population Health suites) at the SMHS building in Grand Forks.

Dr. Wynne will discuss what’s new at the School and take any questions you may have.

To ensure adequate seating, we ask that you RSVP to Kristen Peterson by Monday, Jan. 15.

We hope to see you there.

Check out Lego Social Hour at the SMHS on Jan. 17

The UND Department of Wellness and Health Promotion and the UND Work Well program invite you to a Lego Social Hour to be held from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. in room E226 of the SMHS on Wednesday, January 17.

The program is part of the Work Well team's Wellness Connect initiative and falls under the twin pillars of social and intellectual wellness:

  • The Social Dimension of Wellness is described as creating a support network of friends and family members who care about and love you for who you are. Friends can serve as a source of encouragement and reinforcement for practicing healthy habits. In order to grow your Social Wellness Dimension, try to stay connected to people, form new relationships, and participate in various social activities.
  • The Intellectual Dimension of Wellness is characterized by the ability to make sound decisions and to think critically. It encourages openness to new ideas, motivation to master new skills, a sense of humor, creativity, and curiosity.

Come to socialize, relax, or take a break while you create your own LEGO® masterpiece! Each Social Hour will have a theme with a chance to win a LEGO® set.

For more information, contact Andria Spaeth, MBA, UND Work Well Coordinator, at 701.777.0210 or

Zen in 10 in the New Year

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 will be from 10:40 a.m. to 10:50 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays from Jan. 9 to March 1 in Classroom W201 at the SMHS in Grand Forks. (Note that Zen in 10 will not be held on Tuesday, Jan. 30 or Thursday, Feb. 1.)

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

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Dr. Basson publishes article on patient attitudes toward appendicitis treatment in JAMA Surgery

If you or your child had appendicitis, would you choose surgery or antibiotics for treatment? Why?

Such is the scenario that Marc D. Basson, MD, PhD, MBA, FACS, senior associate dean for Medicine and Research at the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS), presented to nearly 2,000 participants in a research study published this week by the medical journal JAMA Surgery.

According to Dr. Basson (right), most patients know that the traditional treatment for appendicitis is appendectomy, or surgical removal of the appendix. And although antibiotic treatment for appendicitis is emerging as an alternative to surgery, disadvantages of antibiotic-only therapy for appendicitis—which include longer hospitalization, prolonged recovery, and a higher rate of appendicitis recurrence—mean that some surgeons resist offering patients non-surgical treatment options.

For this reason, Dr. Basson went straight to the people making this decision in an effort to gauge patient knowledge and attitudes toward the use of antibiotics for appendicitis.

“We decided to come at the question differently, asking, ‘Well, what do patients actually want and why?’” explains Dr. Basson, whose co-authors were Ross Crosby, Ph.D., vice president for research and director of biomedical statistics at the Neuropsychiatric Research Institute in Fargo, N.D., and professor in the UND SMHS Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science; and Alexis Hanson, a third-year medical student at UND.

As it turns out, a commanding 86 percent of the 1,728 survey participants would choose laparoscopic appendectomy (a less invasive type of surgery) for themselves and their children in such a scenario. Comparatively, 9.4 percent of respondents would choose antibiotics alone, and only 5 percent a traditional open appendectomy.

“What’s interesting is that we took a subgroup of that 86 percent surgery-first cohort and asked what their concerns were with antibiotics,” Dr. Basson continues. “We asked them ‘What would get you to change?’ We found that the failure rate of the drugs was the primary problem. But when we reset those numbers—asking their response if the antibiotic failure rate was lowered by 5 percent, 10 percent, and so on—we saw a lot more people willing to choose antibiotics over surgery.”

So Dr. Basson’s team explored not only what patients know when it comes to their treatment options, but what they value—and how their values influence their decision-making process.

“This, we believe, should set the research agenda for the future in this area. If we could come up with a new way of reducing the failure rate of antibiotics, that might result in a lot more people choosing antibiotic therapy, which would be a huge advance in the field.”

Dr. Basson’s article is available online here.

Department of Physician Assistant Studies presents white coats to Class of 2019 on Jan. 12

Thirty-two University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) students began the clinical portion of their studies this week in an effort to earn their Master of Physician Assistant Studies degree.

The White Coat Ceremony for these future physician assistant (PA) providers will be held at 2 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 12, in the Charles H. Fee, MD, Auditorium at the SMHS. Annette Larson, MSPAP, PA-C, will present the ceremony’s keynote address, focusing on the role of the PA in primary care. Larson, a Class of 1979 UND PA alumnus and former faculty with the SMHS Physician Assistant Studies program, is a practicing primary care physician assistant at UND Student Health Services.

Welcome remarks will be given by SMHS Associate Dean for Health Sciences Tom Mohr, PT, PhD, and UND Vice President for Research and Economic Development and Dean of the School of Graduate Studies Grant McGimpsey, PhD. Closing remarks will be given by Eric Johnson, MD, medical director of the SMHS Physician Assistant Studies Program and associate professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine.

“The presentation of the white coat is symbolic of the new profession the students are entering,” said PA Studies Chair Jeanie McHugo, PhD, PA-C. “The coats will be worn by students through the clinical phase of their training and denote their involvement with the PA program at UND.”

The Class of 2019 is the second group of students who have been admitted under a new admissions structure. The PA program now has two methods of entry with separate criteria for admissions purposes. Entry Point 1 is designated for licensed/certified health care professionals with at least three years of clinical experience. Entry Point 2 is designated for applicants with science-based educational backgrounds and a minimum of 500 hours of direct patient care experience.

Students have already completed their first two semesters of basic science instruction, and now will spend four weeks in the clinical setting in Grand Forks before returning to their home communities, where most of their training will take place under the supervision of physician and PA preceptors. Over the next 18 months, they will return to UND for several weeks at different junctures for education and training.

Seventy-five percent of this PA class is from North Dakota, South Dakota, and Minnesota. Students range in age from 21 to 44 years, with an average age of 30; the class includes 13 men and 19 women.

UND Master of Physician Assistant Studies Class of 2019

Kristi Bohlig, St. Joseph, Minn. Catherine Bopp, Bismarck, N.D.
Barbara Bowman, Stone Lake, Wis. Jenny Brown, Center, N.D.
Jennifer Christianson, Minot, N.D. Riann Collar, Neenah, Wis.
David Eastep, Ozark, Mo. Alyse Engen, Breckenridge, Minn.
Erik Fladmo, Billings, Mont. Stephanie Gagelin, Grand Forks, N.D.
Juan Carlos Garcia, Spring, Texas Philip Heiden, Grand Forks, N.D.
Lindsey Hiatt, Fargo, N.D. Zachary Horoshak, Eveleth, Minn.
Bryan Johnson, Fosston, Minn. Jenna Katnis, Buffalo, Minn.
Tracy Kirchner, Reiles Acres, N.D. Ashleigh Milbrath, Owatonna, Minn.
Tiffany Fletschock, Casselton, N.D. Chukwuka Oscar Nnoli, Grand Forks, N.D.
Killian Norton, Grand Forks, N.D. Ashley Pommer, Sioux Falls, S.D.
Nicholas Pierce, Minneapolis, Minn. Amy Quinn, Fort Worth, Texas
Timothy Simonich, Bismarck, N.D. Stephanie Severson, Tower City, N.D.
Nicole Streich, Grand Forks, N.D. Danielle Swanson, Fargo, N.D.
Budd Theriot, Thibodaux, La. Bryan Tipton, Deaver, Wyo.
Seth Tramm, Solway, Minn. Kaitlyn Wirtz, Fargo, N.D.

Dr. Sharma wins fifth major NIH award in seven years

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded Jyotika Sharma, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences at the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS), a major grant known as an R21. The two-year grant, worth nearly $400,000, is the fifth such award Sharma has won from the NIH since 2011.

According to Dr. Sharma (right), the long-term goal of her project, titled “Efferocytosis and neutrophil homeostasis in pneumonic sepsis,” is to understand the molecular processes that regulate inflammation associated with sepsis—a systemic, life-threatening condition where the immune system’s response to infection or injury damages a body’s own organs.

Upon infection, specialized white blood cells called neutrophils swarm the site of infection and engulf the virus or bacteria causing the infection. After the infection has been eliminated, these cells die and are cleared out of the body as well, if normal body function is to resume. This “clearing” is achieved by a process called efferocytosis, which prevents tissue damage and promotes tissue repair.

A defective efferocytosis process has been associated with several acute and chronic inflammatory lung diseases, such as sepsis and pneumonia, and is characterized by a condition called neutrophilia (the excessive accumulation of neutrophils). How efferocytosis mediates inflammation and controls neutrophilia at the site of an infection in conditions such as pneumonic sepsis is completely unexplored. Understanding the mechanism of neutrophil efferocytosis is the central goal of Sharma’s latest project.

“We expect that this project will identify a novel function of a specific host factor in mediating efferocytosis, which stops inflammation by clearing out dead and dying cells and can contribute to tissue repair,” Dr. Sharma explains. “These studies will guide the development of effective therapeutics not only for a wide array of inflammatory diseases, but also to treat stubborn microbes without introducing the threat of drug resistance.”

In addition to this grant, Dr. Sharma’s research is currently supported by an R01, another R21, and a local grant totaling nearly $2.3 million. She is also a principal investigator (PI) of a multi-PI Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (CoBRE) grant worth more than $10 million awarded by the NIH in May 2016 to study host-pathogen interaction for finding new strategies to treat infectious diseases.

While falling under the umbrella of biomedical science, Dr. Sharma’s research is one of many projects ongoing at the SMHS known as clinical and translational research: research that “translates” discoveries made at the laboratory bench for clinical implementation to benefit patients directly. For her studies, Sharma is collaborating with clinicians locally at Altru Health System as well as nationally at the NIH.

"Thank you" from the Student Occupational Therapy Association

The purpose of the Student Occupational Therapy Association (SOTA) is to broaden campus and community knowledge of occupational therapy, to unify students and increase knowledge of occupational therapy and related fields, and to participate in national association issues. And it was a busy and successful fall semester for this group of student leaders and aspiring occupational therapists.

Besides monthly meetings, which average over 100 OT and pre-OT students per meeting, this fall SOTA hosted or participated in social events, in-service events, out-service events, and fundraising events. Funds raised by SOTA are used for three primary purposes: 1) support St. Catherine’s Challenge; 2) financially support an individual/family experiencing difficult circumstances; and 3) support the attendance of one student delegate at the annual American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) conference. 

Thank you to everyone who supported the organization's fundraising efforts this past fall by entering bids in our “Rent-An-OT” event and sampling some of the goodies at our bake sale. The “Rent-An-OT” fundraiser brought in $800, which will be sent directly to the St. Catherine’s Challenge in support of occupational therapy research! The late-fall bake sale raised $550! The financial support from SOTA this year will provide $500 to the Kendra Loch family for medical expenses. Our efforts could not have been realized without your financial support!

So, again, thank you,

Cherie Graves & Julie Grabanski, SOTA Faculty Advisors

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Great Plains IDeA-CTR Institutional Coordinator to speak at Biomedical Sciences Seminar Jan. 31

You are invited to the next Biomedical Sciences Seminar Series event, featuring Ted R. Mikuls, MD, MSPH, vice chairman of Research and Umbach Professor of Rheumatology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

Dr. Mikuls will present a talk titled “Biorepositories in Clinical Translational Research” at the SMHS Department of Biomedical Sciences Seminar Series on Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018, at noon in SMHS Room E101. For more information about Dr. Mikuls’s biography, see his CV here.

Dr. Mikuls is also the Institutional Coordinator for the Great Plains IDeA-Clinical Translational Research (CTR) grant. The Great Plains IDeA-CTR Network is a collaborative effort between nine institutions in Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota (including the UND School of Medicine & Health Sciences), and Kansas to reach the medically underserved populations in these states and transform health delivery and outcomes in the Great Plains region.

Everyone is welcome.

Evidence-Based Teaching group to meet at 11 a.m. on Feb. 6

The Evidence-Based Teaching (EBT) group will meet at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 6 in SMHS room W202.

The meeting topic for this session is "Active Learning Applied: Simple Strategies for Complex Content." The session will be led by Richard Van Eck & Adrienne Salentiny, Education Resources, and Devon Olson, Library Resources.

Do any of these teaching problems sound familiar to you?

  • Students can memorize facts but can’t see the big picture.
  • I don’t know how to get students to master concepts and apply them.
  • What I’m teaching is often too complex for my students, but they have to master it.
  • Students seem to “get” what I’m teaching, but then fail parts of some tests.
  • My students always want to know the “right” answer, but sometimes it’s not that simple!

These and many other problems can be addressed through evidence-based teaching strategies like Active Learning, which has been shown to be effective. For many, however, active learning is synonymous with flipping the classroom. While a flipped classroom can be effective, there are dozens of much simpler active learning strategies for solving individual teaching problems.

In this interactive session, we’ll show you techniques that anyone can use without overhauling the entire course! Whether you’ve experienced the problems above or have your own concerns to share during the session, join your colleagues to hopefully leave with at least one potential solution!

The Evidence-Based Teaching group meets monthly at the same time. This group will host topics as determined by 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 Adrienne Salentiny at 701.777.4272 or

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Great Plains IDeA-CTR calls for proposals for three grant programs with a deadline of Jan. 31

The Great Plains IDeA-CTR, a coalition of nine research institutions that includes both the University of North Dakota and North Dakota State University, has posted calls for proposals connected to three clinical-translational research programs: Cancer Related Research, the Biomedical Informatics Big Data Pilot Program, and the Community-Academic Partnership Program. Each of the grant programs have a submission deadline of Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018. More information on the specifics of each proposal can be found by clicking on the links below.

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 in the center’s history. Funding for the network is provided through the Institutional Development Award (IDeA) program and the NIH’s National Institute of General Medical Studies. The network 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.

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Library Notes

Library Resources hours for Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend

The Library Resources team would like to announce the following hours for the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend:

  • Friday, Jan. 12: 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Saturday, Jan. 13: Closed
  • Sunday, Jan. 14: Closed
  • Monday, Jan. 15: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

For more information, contact the SMHS Library Resources staff here.

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