Friday, August 24, 2018

From The Dean

Friday, August 24, 2018

This past Tuesday, I testified before the Interim Higher Education Committee of the North Dakota Legislature on behalf of the UND School of Medicine & Health Sciences Advisory Council. I’m the executive secretary of the Council, and ordinarily I’d testify along with Chair Dave Molmen, CEO of Altru Health System, but Dave was out of town on Altru business. My slides for the presentation are available here. As you may recall, the SMHS Advisory Council is a legislatively mandated group of stakeholders from around the state that oversees the strategic direction, programs and facilities of the School, and makes recommendations regarding the School’s efforts in addressing the health care needs of the state, including health care workforce. The Advisory Council, in conjunction with the School, also is responsible for producing a biennial report on the status of the health and health care delivery in North Dakota. The fifth edition of the Biennial Report: Health Issues for the State of North Dakota 2019 is nearing completion and will be distributed (and available online) in December, just before the start of the 66th Legislative Assembly in January 2019.

In my presentation, I reviewed the purpose of the School as defined in the North Dakota Century Code, which includes physician and other health provider education, discovery (research) and service to the people of North Dakota to improve the quality of their lives. Next, I discussed our eight degree programs, our financial status (stable for the current academic year), and issues of cost and student debt. We have endeavored to keep tuition low and student debt manageable, and believe that those are some of the reasons why more graduates are staying in North Dakota to practice and going into rural areas. In fact, I presented some national comparison data that showed that in the course of the past decade, we’ve gone from well below the national average to well above it as to the fraction of our graduating physician classes that end up practicing medicine within North Dakota.

I reviewed our highly regarded and emulated small-group learning programs; the Indians into Medicine (INMED) program; the Simulation Center and our mobile vans that bring simulation training to all four corners of the state; our focus on interprofessional, rural, and primary care; our service programs that touch every one of the 53 counties in the state; and our research programs that focus on diseases that are relevant to North Dakotans.

Next I reviewed the progress that we’ve made with our Healthcare Workforce Initiative (HWI) that focuses on reducing disease burden, retaining more graduates for practice in the state, training more health professionals, and improving the efficiency of our health care delivery system.

I gave the Committee a preview of the Fifth Biennial Report that has all updated data and information, and much expanded coverage of issues related to the state’s nursing and behavioral health workforce.

The last part of the presentation was a report card of sorts of how the School in doing in meeting its objectives. I used nationally compiled data that showed how well we are doing in terms of physician retention for practice in North Dakota (discussed above), and how well we do in terms of our graduating medical students in selecting primary and rural care for practice and family medicine for specialty choice (98th and 100th percentile).

I concluded with a preview of our legislative agenda for the upcoming session and emphasized three priorities: First, we hope to make a persuasive case for continued robust state funding of our HWI and other programs that are designed to help provide the needed health care workforce for the state and improve the quality of life for North Dakotans (as a sidelight to this priority, we also hope to continue to keep tuition as low as possible, as this helps remove financial barriers to rural and primary care practice). Second, we hope that we can secure funding so that merit increases can be provided to faculty and staff who demonstrate outstanding job performance (so that we can attract and retain the best faculty and staff members possible). We would also hope to give an increase to those employees who are at the lowest end of the salary scale, since they have the least disposable income and are most impacted by any increase in the cost of living. Third, we emphasized the importance of UND’s Grand Challenges as envisioned by UND President Mark Kennedy. There are five Grand Challenges, focusing on energy, unmanned aerial systems, rural communities, big data, and our entry, clinical and translational medicine. We hope to focus on studying the causes and treatment of opioid addiction and cancer; virtual medicine (where we use telemedicine and other web-based technologies to bring the clinic to the patient rather than the other way around); and the use of artificial intelligence and other computer-based approaches to analyze patient data much more robustly than we do now in an effort to anticipate rather than treat health problems.

The members of the Committee asked several insightful questions, and all in all, the presentation and discussion seemed to go very well. The presentation was a good preview to the upcoming meeting of the Legislature, which kicks off with an Organizational Session from Dec. 3 to Dec. 5, 2018, prior to the first day of the Legislature on Jan. 3, 2019. Gov. Burgum will be delivering the State of the State address on that day as well. The outcome of the session is vitally important to the School, since we derive a vitally important fraction of our operating expenses from the state. As I’ve discussed before, state support (appropriations plus a mill levy) constitute over a third of our budget. So what happens during this upcoming session really matters to the School—and to the people of North Dakota!

Joshua Wynne, MD, MBA, MPH
UND Vice President for Health Affairs
Dean, UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences

back to top


Java with Josh to be held on Thursday, Sept. 6

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 Thursday, Sept. 6 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, Sept. 3.

We hope to see you there.

Annual Joggin' with Josh walk/run scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 6

UND Vice President for Health Affairs and Dean of the School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS), Joshua Wynne, MD, MBA, MPH, 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 6. 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.

Dr. Eric Johnson to moderate "GameChanger" discussion at Empire Arts Center Sept. 6

On Thursday, September 6, Dr. Eric Johnson, associate professor in the SMHS Department of Family & Community Medicine, will host a discussion with theologian and Duke Divinity School professor Kate Bowler. Given her training, Bowler is no stranger to dealing with questions involving life and death. But when she was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer, she began to research the uniquely American concept that tragedy is a test of character. She'll talk to the audience and with Dr. Johnson about her book Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I've Loved in an on-stage discussion.

The event, which is free and will begin at 7 p.m. at the Empire Arts Center in Grand Forks, is part of the 2018 Humanities North Dakota GameChanger ideas festival. Humanities North Dakota (formerly known as the North Dakota Humanities Council) is a statewide nonprofit dedicated to providing communities with programs and events that challenge citizens to ask big questions and become informed about the issues that affect us all. Each year the group selects a new theme for its festival; this year's theme is "The Pursuit of Health and Happiness."

As a follow-up, on Friday, September 7 the Empire Arts Center will host a premiere of the play "A Beautiful Hell," which chronicles the true story of a mother's loss of her young son from cancer. Based on the book of poetry by the same name, the author—local writer and grief counselor Carol Kapaun Ratchenski—will take the stage following the performance to discuss grief and resilience.

UND Homecoming 2018 events at the SMHS in September

UND's Homecoming 2018 (Sept. 17-22) will soon be here, and as always the SMHS is involved in many of the week's events. Unless otherwise noted, SMHS-related events will be held at the new SMHS building, 1301 N. Columbia Rd., Grand Forks, N.D. For more information on any of the days' events, contact Kristen Peterson at 701.777.4305 or To register for any of the following events, please visit the UND Alumni Association & Foundation's website.

Continuing Education Symposium
Held in room W201-W202 of the SMHS building from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 21, the Continuing Education Symposium will focus on Infectious Disease. Presenters include physicians from area health systems and SMHS faculty-researchers. Business attire is suggested.

New Building Tours
The Office of Alumni and Community Relations will provide tours of the new SMHS building from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 21. Tours of the new facility start in the main floor lobby.

SMHS Banquet
An SMHS Homecoming banquet will be held from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 21 at the Grand Forks Hilton Garden Inn's Buchli/Bahl Banquet Room, located at 4301 James Ray Drive. Milestone and Biomedical Sciences alumni will be recognized at the event. Business attire is suggested.

2018 Homecoming/Potato Bowl Parade
And don't forget to attend the joint Homecoming/Potato Bowl parade, which starts at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 22. The parade route will again be in downtown Grand Forks.

Zen in 10 this summer

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 at the SMHS from 10:40 a.m. to 10:50 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays from July 31 through August 30 on the East Patio, weather permitting. In case of inclement weather, Zen in 10 will meet in the SMHS auditorium (E101).

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

back to top


Federal officials focused on rural health meet with UND's Center for Rural Health staff

The UND Center for Rural Health (CRH) recently hosted a group of national and regional rural health leaders on a tour of innovative rural and tribal health systems around North Dakota. Brad Gibbens, deputy director of the CRH, and Lynette Dickson, associate director of CRH, facilitated the site visits. The rural health leaders came to North Dakota to learn about rural and tribal health innovation. The leaders are from federal and regional agencies. Some of the members are charged with implementing health policy and forging administrative functions (FORHP and CMS), while others represent agencies that educate, inform, and advocate for rural health (NRHA and CHAD). Each may have a different focus and function, but they all came to listen, learn, and absorb some positive examples of rural and tribal healthcare. The group met with healthcare professionals in Beulah, Hazen, New Town, and Watford City.

Members of the group included: Tom Morris, associate administrator for Rural Health Policy at the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP); Sahi Rafiullah, chief advisor, FORHP; Cara James, PhD, director of the Office of Minority Health at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS); Diane Moll, deputy regional administrator, Denver Regional CMS Office; Alan Morgan, CEO, National Rural Health Association (NRHA); Brock Slabach, vice president for member services, NRHA; and Shelly Ten-Naple, CEO, Community Healthcare Association of the Dakotas (CHAD).

More questions answered about the new SMHS website

If you haven't noticed, the new UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences website is live at:

Here are more answers to some questions we've heard a lot over the past week:

Q:  How do I add an event to the SMHS calendar on the home page?

Go the UND's calendar platform ( and log-in per your UND/NDUS IDM info. Then, click the green "Submit an event" button on the top-right of the screen. Fill in the appropriate boxes and notice that under the "Filters" area near the bottom of the page you can select the SMHS for the box "Events by Colleges & School." Be sure to do that to get the event to pull into the calendar on the SMHS website.


back to top


Evidence-Based Teaching Group to meet on Sept. 4

The Evidence-Based Teaching Group (EBTG) will meet on Tuesday, September 4 to discuss "Applying Type-A Tendencies to Teaching: Tips to Coordinate the Chaos and Support Student Success." The meeting will be held from 11 a.m. to noon in SMHS room W201. You are invited to attend!

Research continues to show that practices such as active learning, project-based or case-based learning, formative feedback opportunities, and personalized educational experiences are beneficial to students. Engagement, retention, transfer of knowledge, and positive outcomes are often increased in comparison with traditional course formats. Studies have shown that these benefits are further bolstered when students feel that their professor knows them, cares about their progress, and regards the class and topics as important. But where can faculty find the time to deliver rich content, interact, provide feedback, evaluate, and develop meaningful relationships with students? Day-to-day scheduling constraints and responsibilities related to and beyond teaching make it difficult to find dedicated time to engage. Plus, time zones and technology present as additional obstacles to effective and efficient online instruction.

This session will apply organizational and resource management methods to the "madness." Tips and tools designed to support intentional, meaningful, timely, and personalized interactions with students will be discussed. Furthermore, strategies and tools designed to help faculty efficiently manage the evaluation of authentic learning activities, close the feedback loop, and cultivate rewarding instructor-student relationships will be explored.

The session will be led by Adrienne Salentiny, PhD, Education Resources.

The EBTG hosts events based on topics determined by the expressed interests of its members. The EBTG meets the first Tuesday of every month in rooms W201 or W202 and meetings are free and open to anyone—no RSVP needed! Past topics include 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

back to top


Biomedical Sciences and COBRE Host-Pathogen group present Richard K. Plemper, PhD, Aug. 29

On Wednesday, August 29 the Host-Pathogen CoBRE team and the SMHS Department of Biomedical Sciences will host a presentation by Dr. Richard K. Plemper entitled "Developing Novel Therapeutics against Influenza Viruses and Respiratory Viruses Associated with Influenza-Like Disease."

A professor at Georgia State University's Institute for Biomedical Sciences, Dr. Plemper is an experienced molecular virologist and biochemist by training who has assembled a strong research team that brings together collaborators with diverse areas of expertise including molecular virologists, synthetic and medicinal chemists, and pharmacologists to meet the drug development goals of its studies. He has established a productive antivirals discovery and development research program (with particular focus on pathogens of the myxo- and pneumovirus families) that has advanced the fundamental understanding of paramyxo- and pneumovirus entry and replication, and the development of novel antiviral candidates.

After 12 years at Emory University, in 2013 he joined the newly established Institute for Biomedical Sciences at Georgia State University with his research team. Enjoying tangible institutional support to advance infrastructure and equipment of his laboratory, he built a state-of-the-art automated drug-screening facility at GSU. Combined with an outstanding biochemistry infrastructure and vivarium in the building, his laboratory has full control over all mission-critical pre-clinical stages of the drug discovery and development pipeline.

The presentation is free and open to everyone. It will be held in SMHS Room E101 (the Charles H. Fee, MD, Auditorium) at noon.

UND Host-Pathogen Interactions CoBRE Symposium set for September 25

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 UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences on Tuesday, September 25, 2018. The Symposium will bring together experts investigating both microbial infectious agents and host responses to those infectious agents.

Confirmed Speakers for the event are:

In addition, investigators from the University of North Dakota will present their research related to infection and immunity in both oral and a poster sessions.

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.

Researchers investigating host-pathogen questions are encouraged to submit an abstract for poster presentation (to be held in the afternoon on Sept. 25) to Kim Dickman ( by Friday, August 31. Prior on-line registration is appreciated.

The Symposium will be from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Complimentary continental breakfast and lunch will be provided. The School of Medicine and Health Sciences is located at 1301 North Columbia Road in Grand Forks, N.D.

Save the Date: American College of Physicians poster competition

The American College of Physicians North Dakota Chapter will hold its annual meeting at the Bismarck Event Center on Friday, October 5, 2018. The annual poster competition associated with the meeting will be held at Sanford Medical Center in Fargo on October 3, 2018. All UND medical students and Internal Medicine residents are invited to participate. Poster abstracts will be due on September 14, 2018. The meeting brochure can be found here.

New Great Plains IDeA-CTR funding opportunity

The Great Plains IDeA-CTR Network is pleased to announce an opportunity for pilot funding through an NIH/NIGMS grant for clinical and translational research.

The network is requesting a Letter of Intent (maximum of two pages) for research proposals due Friday Sept. 7, 2018. For more information at on the specifics of the LOI, contact Jonathan Geiger ( or Bonnie Kee (

Those invited to submit full applications will be notified by September 28, 2018. Solicited applications will be due November 16, 2018. The requirements for invitees are detailed below. Please email your LOI and NIH biosketch as a single PDF document to the Great Plains IDeA-CTR Office at If you have any questions, contact Heather Braddock at or 402.559.9870.

GP IDeA-CTR research priority areas are:

  • Behavioral health including, mental health, substance abuse (e.g., opioids and alcohol), and violence as a public health issue
  • Obesity treatment and prevention
  • Aging and Age-related cognitive impairment
  • Injury prevention
  • Technologies and models to improve health access including the evaluation of new or existing tools (e.g., telehealth) with a focus on rural populations
  • Connecting clinical care and community services (e.g., schools, food banks, YMCA’s)
  • Addressing health disparities based on social determinants, race, ethnicity, and geography

Highest priority will be given to the strongest science and those projects most likely to lead to successful extramural funding. In addition, projects that make an impact on medically disadvantaged, underrepresented minority, and/or geographically or clinically isolated populations—and can introduce or evaluate new tools or technologies useful in these populations—are of high interest.

Interdisciplinary and collaborative approaches: To increase the likelihood of a strong scientific proposal, applicants are encouraged to engage in new or existing interdisciplinary collaborations, inter-institution proposals, and to develop links to other existing IDeA programs (INBRE and COBRE) in the participating Great Plains region.


  • Current full-time faculty appointment at a participating institution
  • Eligible to apply for NIH funds (i.e. US citizen or a permanent resident)
  • Has a focus on relevant clinical, clinical-translational, or community-translational research
  • GP IDeA-CTR faculty with pilot funding with projects that are competitive and have demonstrated good progress on the current award are eligible
  • Note: You are not eligible if you currently have funding from any IDeA-CTR program

The Great Plains IDeA-CTR (GP IDeA-CTR) is a collaboration of 8 eligible institutions which include: Boys Town National Research Hospital, North Dakota State University, University of Nebraska Kearney, University of Nebraska Lincoln, University of Nebraska Medical Center, University of Nebraska Omaha, University of North Dakota, and University of South Dakota.

The goal of the Pilot Program is to provide support to the most promising and novel clinical and translational research (CTR) projects, and help investigators obtain preliminary data necessary for successful investigator-initiated extramural grants. Successful applicants will receive up to $50,000 in direct costs for a one year project, as well as access to resources of the GP IDeA-CTR to support their research efforts.

Request for Applications: Great Plains IDeA-CTR Superstar Competition

The Great Plains IDeA-CTR network is excited to announce a funding opportunity: the Great Plains IDeA-CTR Superstar Competition.

The GP IDeA-CTR group is requesting a brief research pitch (2 pages maximum) to include: project title, principle investigator(s), participating institution(s), study aims, hypotheses, methods (brief overview of design, study sample, measures, budget and statistical analysis plan), one year deliverables, a statement addressing how the project advances CTR, and a lay summary. In addition, we ask that applicants provide a biosketch for PI and all key personnel.

The grant will be awarded at the GP IDeA-CTR Annual Scientific Meeting on October 10, 2018. Funding will be awarded to an innovative research project based on criteria delineated in the full application. 

The goal of this opportunity is to raise awareness of CTR by promising scholars who are developing innovative tools and methods for medical research. The winning investigator/team will receive a pilot grant award to catalyze cutting-edge research that may translate to a sustainable product or a larger federal grant. 

The winner will receive up to $20,000 for one year, and access to resources of the GP IDeA-CTR to support these research efforts.

The application deadline is September 24, 2018 (5 p.m.). For more information or to find a full application, see the GP IDeA-CTR website.

back to top