Friday, May 04, 2018

From The Dean

Friday, May 04, 2018

The annual flurry of activity at the end of the regular academic year is in full swing, but everything is coming together for commencement next weekend. As you probably know, university graduation is a week from Saturday, and our medical school commencement is a week from Sunday on Mother’s Day. Leading up to commencement are a variety of other activities, including the spring meeting of the UND Alumni Association and Foundation Board that started yesterday and continues today. I and the other UND vice presidents are ex officio members of the board, and we attend the meetings. I think that this is a good use of my time, because philanthropy has become increasingly important in carrying out our mission (especially in this time of state budget challenges).

As I’ve discussed here before, philanthropy is critically important to the UND SMHS for two main reasons: to help limit student debt, and to fund endowed professorships and chairs. The rationale for limiting student debt is to reduce the pressure on students to make career decisions based on a concern about their debt load, such as deciding to practice in an urban area rather than a rural one because of the better remuneration there.

Likewise, we need more endowed professorships and chairs to help us recruit and retain the best teachers and researchers around. Recruiting to North Dakota can be a challenge, as you know. But having a named chair vastly improves the School’s bargaining power when we are competing with more elite urban medical and health sciences schools elsewhere. So philanthropy really matters.

And our efforts to increase philanthropy are working! I just read the latest report from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) regarding medical student debt. The AAMC, among many other duties, compiles financial data from the 145 medical schools in the U.S. When compared with all other public U.S. medical school grads, SMHS graduates since 2012 had an average debt load that decreased by an average of 0.7 percent/year, while students at the other schools experienced over a 3 percent annual increase in medical school debt—a swing of almost 4 percentage points! That means that over the last five years, our students accumulated about 20 percent less debt than other medical students—and our students started with less debt to begin with! And none of our 2017 graduates had a cumulative debt load of more than $250,000, while nearly 16 percent of all other students at public medical schools did. We attribute these positive numbers to our many generous donors, along with the support of the people of North Dakota (through the North Dakota Legislature) for the RuralMed program.

Finally, during this time of graduation celebrations, it is natural that each of us think back to our own graduation(s) in the past. Tonight, Susan and I are headed to Fargo to enjoy the singing group Under the Streetlamp, which will be performing at the Fargo Theatre. The groups performers are prior members of the chorus in Jersey Boys, the musical that tells the story of the performing group Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. I heard the Four Seasons many years ago following my high school graduation prom, and just yesterday Valli celebrated his 84th birthday! Wow—how time flies! But the good news is that Valli is still going strong—and still performing!

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

Dean, UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences

back to top


Fifth Annual Epigenetics & Epigenomics Symposium to be held at UND May 7-8

The Fifth Annual Epigenetics & Epigenomics Symposium will be held at the School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) on the campus of the University of North Dakota May 7-8, 2018.

Researchers studying epigenetics explore the mechanisms that regulate gene expression and the activation and deactivation of specific genes. Improved understanding of how the human body can turn genes on and off during growth, aging, and in response to the environment, has important implications for the diagnosis and treatment of many diseases, including cancer, diabetes, and neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson's Disease.

Academic participants from around the region—including researchers from North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Indiana, Arkansas, and Manitoba—will be in Grand Forks to share their research on epigenetic mechanisms in health and disease.

The symposium is sponsored by the Centers for Biomedical Research Excellence (CoBRE) program, which was established by the National Institutes of Health to promote collaboration among researchers and strengthen research infrastructure at biomedical research institutions. The purpose of the symposium is to bring nationally recognized experts in the biomedical sciences to share their work as well as to highlight the research being accomplished at the University of North Dakota.

“The field of epigenetics is growing at a fast pace, and researchers in many fields are actively uncovering the role of epigenetics in a variety of human disorders and diseases,” noted Roxanne Vaughan, PhD, professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences at the SMHS and principal investigator of the CoBRE grant. “The understanding that environment and lifestyle can impact the genome to influence how genes are expressed has driven a number of discoveries, including many obtained here at UND. This symposium is an exciting opportunity for our researchers to learn about cutting edge epigenetics research from leaders in the field and showcase their own research and form productive collaborations.”

This free symposium will be held from 1 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on May 7, and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on May 8 in the SMHS; it includes a poster session and the following keynote speakers:

  • Jim Davie, PhD, professor, Department of Biochemistry and Medical Genetics; scientist, Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba; senior scientist, Research Institute in Oncology and Hematology; and director of the Manitoba Epigenetic Network
  • Mike Levine, PhD, professor of Molecular Biology and Director of the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics, Princeton University
  • Amber Mosley, PhD, associate professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Indiana

SMHS Sophomore Awards to be held May 10

First- and second-year medical students, along with faculty and staff, are invited to the 2018 UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences Sophomore Awards luncheon, to be held on Thursday, May 10. The luncheon and awards presentation ceremony will take place at noon in the Charles H. Fee, MD, Auditorium (Room E101). If you plan to attend, please RSVP HERE by noon on Friday, May 4.

We hope to see you there!

Celebrate MD Commencement on Sunday, May 13

Please join us for the 2018 MD Commencement activities scheduled for Sunday, May 13, in Grand Forks.

The event's keynote speaker will be Ralph Levitt, MD, professor of Internal Medicine (retired Dec. 2017) for the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences. The title of Dr. Levitt’s presentation is, “Why do we do it? The intangibles of practicing medicine.”

The Commencement schedule is as follows:

  • 10:30 a.m.—Awards brunch: Alerus Center (1200 42nd Street S., Grand Forks, ND). Tickets are $15 each and can be purchased by calling the Dean’s Office (701.777.2516) or e-mailing Jeanette Gratton.
  • 2:30 p.m.—Commencement Ceremony: Chester Fritz Auditorium, 3475 University Avenue, Grand Forks.

If you have any questions regarding the awards brunch or commencement ceremony, please contact Jeanette Gratton (701.777.2312 or

Java with Josh at SMHS in Grand Forks on May 15

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 Tuesday, May 15 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 Friday, May 11.

We hope to see you there.

Y. Peter Di to speak on antibiotic resistance and novel antimicrobials May 16

On Wednesday, May 16, 2018, Dr. Y. Peter Di will give a presentation at the SMHS titled “The Battle of Infection: Antibiotic Resistance vs. Novel Antimicrobials." The talk will be held from noon to 1 p.m. in Room W201.

Dr. Di is an associate professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, director of the Inhalation Exposure Facility, and chair of Chemical and Hygiene Safety Committee at the University of Pittsburgh. His research focuses on the cellular and molecular actions of environmental or occupational exposures to toxic chemicals and microorganisms that underlie the pathogenesis of chronic human lung diseases, including asthma, respiratory infection, COPD, sleep disorder, and lung cancer.

Dr. Di’s lab provided influential identification and characterization of a novel lung epithelial cell-specific secretory protein, SPLUNC1, and its roles in respiratory infection and pulmonary diseases. His research program has been continuously supported by multiple funding agencies and private foundations, including the NIH, AHA, and ALA. In addition, Dr. Di’s translational research projects have won several awards, including Pitt Innovator, I-Corp, and the first place Commercialization Award. Dr. Di has contributed significantly to the recent development of natural and engineered antimicrobial peptides to overcome emerging and challenging multi-drug resistant (MDR) bacterial infections.

UND and GF Public Health to host Medication Assisted Treatment workshop May 18

The University of North Dakota, Grand Forks Public Health Department, and Red River Behavioral Health System have officially opened registration for the coalition's Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) 101 workshop.

The workshop, which instructs health providers on evidence-based treatment options for opioid use disorder, will be held from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday, May 18, 2018, in Columbia Hall (former UND School of Medicine building) on the UND campus in Grand Forks.

The target audience for this workshop includes: primary care providers, case managers, mental health and substance use professionals, nurses, hospitalists and emergency department providers, pharmacists, law enforcement officials, probation and parole agents, and court officials.

A complimentary lunch and five continuing education credits are available for those who attend.

More details and an online registration platform can be found here.


Register now for the Dakota Conference on Rural and Public Health to receive discount rate

The 33rd Annual Dakota Conference on Rural and Public Health is taking place June 13-15 in Grand Forks, N.D. The Dakota Conference provides an opportunity for health care professionals, educators, and students to share strategies for building and sustaining healthy communities in North Dakota. It includes three days of sessions, pre-conferences, post-conference workshops, and an awards banquet.

Early Bird Registration and Payment is Due May 11. Register Now to Save!*

Register online here.

The Dakota Conference is coordinated and facilitated by the Center for Rural Health at the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences, and is supported by:

Contact Kylie Nissen at or 701.777.5380 with questions. Visit the Dakota Conference on Rural and Public Health’s website for more information.

Zen in 10 is back!

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 held from 10:40 a.m. to 10:50 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays from May 15 to June 28 on the East Patio of the SMHS, weather permitting. In case of inclement weather, Zen in 10 will meet in SMHS classroom W201. (Note: the group will meet in rm. W201 on Thursday, May 17 regardless of weather).

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

back to top


School of Medicine and Health Sciences announces Frank Low Day poster award winners

Congratulations to the winners of the 38th annual Frank Low Research Day poster awards. The following winners, by category, earned $100 each from the SMHS Office of the Dean for their Frank Low 2018 poster at the event held on April 19:

Biomedical Sciences Graduate Students
Moriah Hovde (Mentor: James Foster)
Anne Schaar (Mentor: Anne Schaar)
Jared Schommer (Mentor: Othman Ghribi)
Jessica Warns (Mentor: Othman Ghribi)

Health Sciences Graduate Students
Alycia Heisler, Occupational Therapy (Mentor: LaVonne Fox)
John LeClerk, Occupational Therapy (Mentor: Anne Haskins)
Patrick Olson, Master of Public Health (Mentor: C. Cristina Oancea)

Larson Danes (Mentor: Junguk Hur)

Medical Student—Clinical
C. Leigh Moyer (Mentor: Larry Burd)

Medical Student—Basic
Michael Storandt (Mentor: James Foster)
Jacob Greenmeyer (Mentor: Larry Burd)

Qinggang Wang (Mentor: Marc Basson)

Medical Resident
Karen Luk (Mentor: Mary Aaland)

“We want to thank everyone who participated in making Frank Low Research Day a success,” said Dr. Marc Basson, the School’s senior associate dean for Medicine and Research. “This year was our largest turnout ever, and we appreciate the high level of participation by students, faculty, and staff at the School of Medicine and Health Sciences. Special thanks to Dean of the School, Dr. Wynne, for his ongoing support of this important annual event, and to Dr. Rosanna Peeling for giving her address on antibiotic resistance.”

The event’s keynote speaker, Rosanna Peeling, PhD, professor and chair of Diagnostics Research at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and director of the International Diagnostics Centre, gave an engaging talk entitled “The Global Crisis of Antimicrobial Resistance: Be part of the Solution!”

Invited talks were given also given by: Nii Koney-Kwaku Koney, graduate student (Mentor: Sergei Nechaev); Meghan A. Rodriquez, graduate student (Mentor: L. Keith Henry); Ann Schaar, graduate student (Mentor: Brij Singh); Kai Guo, post-doctoral student (Mentor: Junguk Hur); Harpeet Kaur, post-doctoral student (Mentor: Colin Combs); Brett Johnson, medical student (Mentor: Kelly Birdwell); Sydney Larson, graduate student (Mentor: Sarah Nielsen); Rachel Bonneville, graduate student (Mentor: Anne Haskins); Avish Nagpal, MD, clinical assistant professor, SMHS Department of Internal Medicine; Ian Watson, graduate student (Mentor: S. Cristina Oancea); and Cecilia Benz, resident (Mentors: Cornelius Dyke and Marc Basson).

Named in honor of the former SMHS anatomy professor who came to UND in the 1960s and pioneered a series of new techniques for the electron microscope, Frank Low Research Day is the culminating event of the academic year for many area researchers working in the biomedical and health sciences. At this year’s Frank Low Day event, 122 faculty members, post-doctoral fellows, and students presented oral and poster presentations on a wide range of basic biomedical, health sciences, translational, and clinical topics.

SMHS Simulation Society hosts first ever E.R. simulation

On Friday April 27, the UND SMHS Simulation Society hosted the first ever Emergency Department Simulation. First- and second-year medical students saw seven critical patients in 60 minutes. Cases included: gastrointestinal bleed, pulmonary embolism, airway suction training, severe pediatric burn, sepsis, EtOH intoxication, and a code blue.

This inaugural Emergency Department Simulation allowed SMHS medical students to practice their clinical and diagnostic skills in a student-led environment. Second-year leaders of the Simulation Society include co-presidents Annika Strand and Jimmy Evers, and members Jason Barba, Tyler Beattie, and Ryan Brown.

The Simulation Society was founded in the summer of 2017 by Annika Strand and Jimmy Evers. The Simulation Society has hosted a variety of events in its debut year. Events include an orientation and demonstration on medical simulation for the first year students; an ECG event with over 20 different cardiac rhythms to identify and treat; an airway clinic with one-on-one intubation instruction from an anesthesiologist, nurse anesthetist, and paramedic; and a Simulation Competition event better known as the “Simlympics.”

The Simulation Society would like to offer a special thanks to the UND SMHS Simulation Center staff for their assistance and time throughout the year.

Peg Mohr named executive editor of publications, chair of editorial board for Team-Based Learning Collaborative

Congratulations are in order to Peggy Mohr, PT, PhD, professor in the Department of Physical Therapy, who has been named the new Executive Editor of Publications and chair of the editorial board for the Team-Based Learning Collaborative (TBLC). The Team-Based Learning Collaborative is a non-profit, volunteer organization which encourages the use of Team-Based Learning (TBL) in the higher education classroom. TBL is a process that dramatically shifts the focus of classroom time from conveying course concepts by the instructor to application of course concepts by student teams. The components of TBL are adaptable to many situations and special resources, making it a practical solution to teaching "outside the box."

In her new role with the TBLC, Mohr will help steer the organization's efforts and edit the many papers and other writing projects TBLC produces each year. 

Dr. Mark Jensen, Department of Surgery, publishes surgery textbook

Mark Jensen, MD, FACS, professor in the SMHS Department of Surgery, has published a new surgery textbook entitled Surgical Anatomy for Mastery of Open Operations: A Multimedia Curriculum for Training Surgery Residents.

"This is a training curriculum for surgery residents," said Dr. Jensen from his office in Fargo. "One aspect of this that I hadn't anticipated is that the publisher is translating this into 30 different languages. They must have really looked for another source like this and not found one anywhere. To dedicate resources like that to this project--they're anticipating that this will have appeal internationally as well. So it looks like UND is going to get on the map here."

Published by Wolters Kluwer, the textbook lists as its reviewing surgeons several SMHS faculty, including Robert J. Bates, MD, FACS; Michael S. Bouton, MD, MA, FACS; Jason M. Erpelding, MD, FAAOS; John W. Jones, Jr., MD, PhD, FACS; Jay M. MacGregor, MD, FACS; Michael Traynor, MD, FACS; and Thomas Wambach, MD.

The textbook "fills an important niche in education of surgeons in training and in practice," writes Mark A. Malangoni, MD, associate executive director of the American Board of Surgery, in the book's Forward. "It is a 'go to' reference for open operations, both common and uncommon."

The book's contributing surgeons were SMHS faculty members Cornelius Dyke, MD, FACS; Linda B. Lindquist, MD; Kurt D. Lindquist, MD, FACS; Denise M. Rondeau, MD, FACOG; Robert P. Sticca, MD, FACS; and Andrew Terrell, MD, FACS.

The book will be officially published on May 5, 2018, but can already be viewed and pre-ordered at several textbook retailers online.

Congratulations, Dr. Jensen!


UND Medical Laboratory Science and Mayo Clinic hold 10th graduation at Mayo

On April 13, 2018, the UND Medical Laboratory Science (MLS)/Mayo Clinic Cohort Program held its tenth graduation celebration in historic Phillips Hall on the campus of Mayo Clinic in Rochester. Graduates of UND undergraduate and graduate MLS programs who are Mayo Clinic employees were invited to participate in the celebration.

Kenneth Ruit, PhD, associate dean for Education and Faculty Affairs at the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences, delivered an empowering keynote address to the graduates. Dr. Ruit also highlighted the significant contributions of recently retired MLS department chair and faculty member, Dr. Ruth Paur, in developing and sustaining the UND MLS/Mayo Clinic partnership, which began in 2001. 

Dr. Bradley Karon, professor of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology and associate dean at the Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences, spoke on behalf of Mayo Clinic. Dr. Karon noted that UND MLS graduates are the “heart and soul” of the Department of Laboratory Medicine at Mayo Clinic, which employs more than 2,350 people and is one of the largest clinical laboratories in the world.

The 17-year joint venture between Mayo Clinic and the UND Medical Laboratory Science Department blends an online MLS curriculum from UND with onsite intensive laboratory training sessions and clinical rotations at Mayo Clinic. This program has been developed for working professionals and is designed to be completed around work hours, with no outside travel required.

To date, over 130 Mayo employees have received a BS degree in MLS from UND through the seventeen-year UND MLS/Mayo Clinic Cohort partnership. This long-standing, unique collaboration allows Mayo Clinic employees to earn a BS degree in MLS from UND while continuing to work full-time in Rochester. Students complete lecture courses online, and all hands-on laboratory requirements are taught on-site at the Mayo Clinic campus each semester by Bob Porter, Chris Triske, and Samantha Peterson, UND MLS faculty members. In addition to teaching the intensive lab sessions, these UND MLS faculty members also perform academic advising for active UND MLS/Mayo Clinic Cohort students (approximately 100), as well as recruitment activities and other duties.


City of Grand Forks seeks feedback from UND community on healthcare access, housing, and employment

The City of Grand Forks and its partners (including UND) are seeking guidance from community members on how to strengthen the ways in which Grand Forks welcomes new residents. As such, the City has produced a “welcoming community” survey open to all members of the community, but especially recent arrivals to the city, including UND students and faculty, or other professionals new to Grand Forks.

The survey asks respondents their thoughts on local issues as they relate to larger questions of healthcare access, housing, and employment in the City.

“Our heritage is one steeped in making sure opportunities to succeed are universally available and recognizing that our community fabric consists of vibrant and diverse threads,” said Mayor Michael R. Brown, MD. “This effort to engage our residents in identifying gaps and opportunities to improve as a welcoming community means we are continuing to make sure that Grand Forks is a place of opportunity for everyone.”

You may take the survey online here.

Survey results will be used to spur discussion with focus groups and work groups. Draft recommendations on action steps will be shared with the community to engage in further discussion to develop the final Roadmap. This final product is expected in September 2018.

back to top


Carlos Orihuela to speak on preventable cell death and pneumonia on May 30

The Department of Biomedical Sciences has invited microbiologist and infectious disease specialist Carlos Orihuela, PhD, to give a presentation titled “Preventable cell death in the respiratory tract during pneumococcal infection" from noon to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, May 30. The presentation will be held in the Charles H. Fee, MD Auditorium (Room E101) on the Grand Forks campus.

Dr. Orihuela obtained his bachelor of science degree from Baylor University in 1996. He subsequently earned his PhD in microbiology and immunology from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston where he was a Kempner Scholar. From 2001 to 2005, Dr. Orihuela completed his postdoctoral research training in the Department of Infectious Diseases at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn. He returned to Texas in 2005, as an assistant professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. While at San Antonio, Dr. Orihuela was promoted with tenure to associate professor and received the Presidential Junior Research Scholar Award, Distinguished Hispanic Faculty Award from the Graduate School, and Glenn Award for Research in Biological Mechanisms of Aging. In 2015, Dr. Orihuela joined the Department of Microbiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Dr. Orihuela currently is a member of the Host Interactions with Bacterial Pathogens Study Section for the NIH, associate editor for the journals PLOS Pathogens and Infection and Immunity, and editor of a recent book on the molecular mechanisms of Streptococcus pneumoniae pathogenesis. His research is focused on the host-pathogen interactions that prevent and enable development of invasive pneumococcal disease.

Everyone is welcome to attend!

Next Evidence-Based Teaching Group to meet on June 5

The Evidence-Based Teaching Group (EBTG) will meet on Tuesday, June 5 from 11 a.m. to noon in SMHS room W201. You are invited to attend! The meeting topic is "Evidence-Based Precepting: Challenges, Opportunities, and Solutions."

Are you a healthcare professional charged with providing high-quality learning experiences for healthcare students in clinical settings while simultaneously meeting your responsibilities as a provider? You are not alone! Many preceptors have demanding healthcare practices, have rarely had formal training as educators, and find it challenging to bring evidence-based teaching practices into the clinical setting. What are the best ways to ensure high-quality precepting under these kinds of constraints?

This SMHS Evidence-Based Teaching Group session will explore evidence-based precepting. We’ll start with a panel of healthcare educators who will share some of their solutions and strategies. For example, contrary to conventional wisdom, the role of feedback, scaffolding, and guidance are just as important on the job as they are in formal learning environments. This will be followed by an interactive discussion of solutions to your precepting questions and challenges.

Panelists, who will be moderated by Richard Van Eck (Education Resources), include Steve Westereng (Sports Medicine), Bryan DeLage (Family & Community Medicine), and LaVonne Fox (Occupational Therapy).

The EBTG hosts events based on topics determined by the expressed interest of its members. The EBTG meets the first Tuesday of every month in W201 or W202; meetings are free and open to anyone—no RSVP needed! Past topics have included assessment, online learning, precepting, active learning, simulation, ADA compliance, and educational scholarship. Many of the past events can be streamed from our website. If you are interested in anything related to evidence-based teaching, join us! If you have any questions, would like more information, or would like to suggest (or lead!) a future meeting topic, please contact Adrienne Salentiny at

Hope to see you there!

back to top


Great Plains IDeA-CTR to host community-based research workshop in Omaha on May 23

The Great Plains IDeA-Clinical and Translational Research (IDeA-CTR) group, of which the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences is a member, will host a community-based research workshop from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 23. The one-day event will be held at the University of Nebraska Medical Center's Maurer College of Public Health, room 3013, in Omaha, Neb.

Invited presenters include:

  • Kenneth Wells, MD, MPH, professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at UCLA
  • Loretta Jones, CEO and Founder of the Los Angeles-based Healthy African American Families II
  • Felicia Jones, director of programs for Healthy African American Families II

This workshop has been developed for individuals interested in learning about community-engaged research, finding a mentor, or becoming a mentor for someone who is utilizing community-engaged research approaches from the academic (faculty or staff) or community partner perspectives.

For more information, email Heather Braddock or call 402.552.2260. To register for the event, go here.

back to top