Friday, September 14, 2018

From The Dean

Friday, September 14, 2018

This past Tuesday, a delegation from the UND SMHS traveled to Bismarck for a scheduled meeting of the SMHS Advisory Council. As I’ve discussed before, the Council is a legislatively mandated group that advises the School, UND, the member organizations that have representatives on the Council, and especially the Legislature regarding the strategic plan, programs, and facilities of the School. It was a productive meeting, and one of the major discussion topics was the School’s biennial budget that will be considered during the upcoming legislative session. Jed Shivers, UND’s vice president for Finance and Operations and chief operating officer (COO) gave an excellent presentation of the budget situation from the vantage point of UND, and clearly was quite supportive of the activities and strategic direction of the SMHS. He and the members of the Advisory Council all agreed that it is essential for the Legislature to endorse the “needs-based” budget proposed by the State Board of Higher Education (SBHE). For the School, the two essential components of such a budget are to maintain the same overall funding for the upcoming biennium (FY20/21) as the current biennium (FY18/19), and shifting some of the funding for the Healthcare Workforce Initiative from what the Legislature calls “one-time” funding to base funding. Since those funds are used to support programs for students and residents (doctors in training) who will be with us from three to five years or more, those programs cannot function properly with funding that may appear to be optional (since it has been designated as “one time”); thus, the change to base funding is important. We are grateful to Laura Block, our associate dean for Administration and Finance and COO; VP Shivers; and Tammy Dolan, vice chancellor for administrative affairs and chief financial officer at the SBHE, for bringing this proposal forward to the Legislature.

When considering the proposed budget, it is important to emphasize that UND and the SMHS have already accommodated a major reduction in state funding for the current budget. Jed presented preliminary (unaudited) data showing that UND as a whole weathered a more than $10 million reduction in state funding, constituting almost a 10 percent cut in such funding from FY17 to FY18. In fact, our number of full-time equivalent employees (FTEs) is down 6 percent in FY18, relative to 2017. Since more than two-thirds of our overall expenditures (about 70 percent for the SMHS) are for personnel costs, a reduction in workforce is one of the very few options we have for dealing with funding reductions. This, along with introducing additional efficiencies into the system, has allowed our institution to continue to carry out its various missions to this point. But further cuts likely will impact our faculty’s and staff’s ability to carry out the teaching, discovery, and service missions of the School.

So the bottom line is that we are looking forward to the upcoming legislative session during which we hope to secure sufficient state funding to allow us to continue our important healthcare-related programming while being sensitive to the extant economic situation in the state and the imperative not to spend more than we have available.

Later that same day, Dr. Ken Ruit, associate dean for Education and Faculty Affairs, and I represented the School when we attended a celebration hosted by President Kennedy for all newly promoted and tenured faculty at UND. Around two dozen faculty members were recognized for their academic achievements, including four from the UND SMHS. I’d like to acknowledge and congratulate the following faculty members, whom we are proud to have as colleagues at the School:

  • Corey Kroetsch – Promoted to assistant professor, Department of Surgery
  • Jay MacGregor – Promoted to assistant professor, Department of Surgery
  • Sergei Nechaev – Promoted to associate professor and awarded tenure, Department of Biomedical Sciences
  • Cindy Flom-Meland – Promoted to professor, Department of Physical Therapy

Please join me in extending a heartfelt “well done” to all four of our colleagues!

Finally, a reminder that next week is Homecoming 2018 at UND, and we have a variety of activities scheduled for Friday Sept. 21, 2018. Please join us for any or all, especially the Continuing Education Symposium on infectious disease on Friday morning. Please e-mail or call 701.777.4305 if you plan to attend.

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

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Sim Center staff back from NAEMSE Educator Symposium and Trade Show, prep for open house

Tim Shea, CHSOS, Simulation Coordinator at the SMHS, is back recently from the 23rd Annual National Association of EMS Educators (NAEMSE) Educator Symposium and Trade Show, which was held in Washington DC, Aug. 31 to Sept. 5.

Tim presented a four-hour pre-conference course entitled “Making Low Cost EMS Task Trainers.” The course introduced simulation educators to low-cost tips and tricks for developing task and skill trainers, including learning how to repurpose spare parts, find new ones, and make components of these trainers yourself. Many of these devices can be made for $5 or fewer, yet are high quality and very realistic for the purposes of simulation.

Participants also learned how to create an Airway Manikin, Suction Manikin, Tracheal Suctioning Machine, Massive Vomiting Airway Trainer, Infant IO Trainer, Adult IO Trainer, Massive Bleeding Wound Pump, Surgical Airway Training Platform, Birthing Trainer Box, Abdominal Assessment Trainer, Pedal Edema Trainer, External Jugular IV Trainer, Ultra Sound Trainer, and a resurrecting portable suction machine for teaching.

Tim is back just in time for the Simulation Center open house, which will be held on Friday, September 21, 2018, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. The event, in which guests can participate in self-guided tours and experience simulation in action, is open to everyone.

Simulation, or the creation of realistic circumstances in order to teach skills and enhance competencies, is rapidly changing the face of healthcare education. For this reason, the Society for Simulation in Healthcare, of which the SMHS Simulation Center is a member, is sponsoring the second annual Healthcare Simulation Week, to be held September 17-21, 2018. The purpose of Healthcare Simulation Week is to raise awareness about the importance of healthcare simulation in improving performance and reducing errors in patient care.

A Simulation In Motion-North Dakota (SIM-ND) mobile education unit—a custom built, 44 foot-long learning lab on wheels—will also be on-site for tours and to provide information regarding the SMHS state-wide simulation program. SIM-ND units bring simulation education to all third-year medical students training on SMHS campuses away from Grand Forks. Units also provide healthcare education to rural areas of North Dakota so emergency responders and other providers can upgrade their skills closer to home rather than leave their service area for training.

The open house will be held at the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences, 1301 N. Columbia Rd. Simulation Center staff will be available to answer questions and provide an interactive experience during guests’ self-guided tours.

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 SMHS website here.

Continuing Education Symposium
Held in room 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.

Simulation Center Tours
The Simulation Center at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) will host an open house on Friday, September 21, 2018, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. The event, in which guests can participate in self-guided tours and experience simulation in action, is open to everyone. The open house will be held at the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences, 1301 N. Columbia Rd. Simulation Center staff will be available to answer questions and provide an interactive experience during guests’ self-guided tours.

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.

16th Annual American Indian Health Research Conference at SMHS on Saturday, Oct. 20

The 16th Annual American Indian Health Research Conference (AIHRC) takes place Saturday, October 20, 2018, at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Grand Forks. The conference offers opportunities to discuss research directions, partnerships, and collaboration in health research focusing on American Indians.

Rodney Haring, PhD, MSW, assistant professor of oncology in the Department of Cancer Health Disparities Research at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in Buffalo, New York, is the keynote speaker. Haring’s presentation will address Roswell Park’s Memorandum of Understanding with the Indian Health Service (IHS) and how Roswell’s cancer research intersects with IHS outreach, student development, and patient care. Haring is a member of the Beaver Clan and an enrolled citizen of the Seneca Nation of Indians based in western New York.

The 2018 AIHRC will also feature speakers from the: American Indian Cancer Foundation, American Cancer Society, American Indian Public Health Resource Center at North Dakota State University, and Minnesota Department of Human Services. Register online here.

Connected to this conference, nominations are now being accepted for the Dr. Alan J. Allery Health Research Award. This award is presented to two American Indian students, one graduate and one undergraduate, in recognition of conducting research dedicated to improving the health and well-being of Native Americans. The deadline to submit nominations is October 5.

Registration now open! NDMA/ACP combined annual meeting

The North Dakota Medical Association (NDMA) is collaborating with the North Dakota Chapter of the American College of Physicians (ACP) for a combined annual meeting on Friday, October 5, 2018, at the Bismarck Event Center. The combined effort allows both groups to share educational sessions and increase peer networking opportunities. Meeting details can be found in the NDMA or ACP brochures.

An 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.

Register today with the NDMA (or with ACP for members).

We look forward to seeing you in Bismarck!


Zen in 10 in September

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 throughout September (except Sept. 13) on the East Patio, weather permitting. In case of inclement weather, Zen in 10 will meet in the SMHS auditorium (E101).

Note: If we are indoors on Sept. 25, Zen in 10 will be held in the Tello-Skjerseth Atrium.

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

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Geiger awarded four-year, $2.25 million grant from the National Institutes of Health

Jonathan Geiger, PhD, Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences, is on a multi-university, multiple principal investigator team that received a four-year R01 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) totaling more than $2.25 million. The grant, titled “Ketogenic Diet and Adenosine: Epigenetics and Antiepileptogenesis,” marks the first time that a faculty member at UND has been the recipient of three simultaneously held R01 grants from the NIH as a principal investigator. NIH R01 grants are considered one of the most prestigious grants for which individuals can apply, and funding for these grants is extremely competitive.

A ketogenic diet is one that promotes the metabolic formation of ketones—organic compounds made via the oxidation of alcohols—by causing the body to use fats, rather than carbohydrates, as its principal energy source. For nearly 100 years, metabolic therapy with a ketogenic diet (KD) has been shown to control seizures in people with epilepsy. More recently, such diets have shown promise in treating pain, increasing longevity, and increasing athletic performance.

The team of investigators includes Detlev Boison, the director of basic and translational research at the Legacy Research Institute in Portland, Ore.; and Susan A. Masino, Vernon Roosa Professor of Applied Science at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn. The three principal investigators have worked closely together and the awarded grant represents a renewal of an NIH R01 grant that the same team held for five years. The current grant is looking to identify and validate key epigenetic mechanisms engaged by metabolic therapy with a KD and pave the way for novel therapeutic opportunities.

“Receiving this grant is very meaningful in multiple ways,” noted Dr. Geiger. “This is a renewal of an NIH R01 grant that Detlev, Susan, and I held for five years, resulting in us publishing over 20 manuscripts, two books, and multiple book chapters. The three of us believe strongly that a metabolic approach might yield new targets for therapeutics against epilepsy. And, we desperately need new targets and therapeutic strategies because one-third of people living with epilepsy are completely resistant to all current anti-epileptic drugs." 

The team’s hypothesis is that epigenetic changes in DNA methylation (a process by which methyl groups—portions of molecules containing one carbon atom bonded to three hydrogen atoms—are added to DNA) mobilized by a ketogenic diet provide a therapeutic target for disease prevention and treatment. The project’s approach is unique in that it initiates disease-modifying treatment after disease onset and their approach stresses the rigor and reproducibility of findings across models of epilepsy and between laboratories. The project also is unique in so far as it includes a strategy that aims to restore homeostasis—and thus offer hope for a cure.

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

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Next Evidence-Based Teaching Group to meet Tuesday, Oct. 2

The Evidence-Based Teaching Group (EBTG) will meet on Tuesday, October 2 from 11 a.m. to noon in room W201 to discuss "Competency-Based Assessment: Using Behavioral Observation Forms to Measure the Development of Student Competency Over Time." You are invited to attend!

The medical curriculum at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences (UND SMHS) recently adopted new competency-based program goals, including some focused on lifelong self-directed learning skills, professionalism, and personal and professional development. Because competencies like these are attained incrementally over time and are reflected behavior choices rather than recall of factual information, they cannot be taught or assessed using traditional teaching (e.g., lecture) or testing (e.g., multiple-choice tests). One way the UND SMHS curriculum promotes these outcomes is through our patient-centered learning (PCL): a form of problem-based learning that occurs over the course of the first two years of the curriculum. We developed and piloted an observational form to measure these competencies. This session will provide an overview of the problem, solution, and results, and we’ll discuss how this approach can be extended to other programs, content, and competencies.

The session will be led by Richard Van Eck, PhD, our School's associate dean for teaching and learning.

The Evidence-Based Teaching Group (EBTG) hosts events based on topics determined by the expressed interests of its members. The EBTG meets the first Tuesday of every month in W201 or W202 and meetings are free and open to anyone—no RSVP needed! Past topics have included assessment, online learning, precepting, active learning, simulation, ADA compliance, educational scholarship, to name a few. 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

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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.

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.

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.

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