March 06, 2014

Preparing for our future

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After two years of preparation and much anticipation, next week, March 9-12, the School of Medicine will host the Liaison Committee on Medical Education. This “LCME site visit” is the most important event for any medical school because it leads to accreditation and the privilege of being called an academic medical center.

The committee will scour every aspect of our school, from our curriculum to the condition of our classrooms. They will tour hospital units and have lunch with students, quiz department chairs and conclude their visit by meeting with President Ray Watts and Provost Linda Lucas. If you happen upon the LCME team, please extend UAB’s hospitality.

New leadership

One area the LCME will inspect closely is our efforts at diversity and inclusion. Data from the Association of American Medical Colleges reflect that our percentage of underrepresented minorities among the faculty is consistent with peer institutions, but there is room for improvement, especially among senior faculty and leadership.

In order to address this gap, and to provide comprehensive leadership for diversity, it is my pleasure to announce Mona Fouad, M.D., as the first senior associate dean for Diversity and Inclusion. Dr. Fouad, who will continue in her roles of director of the Division of Preventive Medicine and director of the Minority Health and Health Disparities Research Center, has long championed the need for increased diversity and inclusion. She has earned respect among her colleagues at UAB and across the nation, and she brings instant credibility to the position.

Please join me in congratulating Dr. Fouad, and in supporting her efforts. Her immediate focus will be helping our department chairs create a more diverse faculty, and creating a more inclusive environment. You can read more about her appointment here.

Update on Pediatric Chair Search

The search committee for the next chair of the Department of Pediatrics has assembled a very impressive cadre of finalists. We are now in the process of bringing these candidates, from some of the most prestigious pediatrics programs in the country, to campus for public presentations. The next presentation is tomorrow at noon in Volker Hall.

The Chair of Pediatrics is key not just to the UAB School of Medicine, but to the Greater Birmingham community, to Alabama and to our region and nation. We have the great fortune of having Children’s of Alabama as a partner. Through COA, the UAB Department of Pediatrics has some of the largest patient volumes in the country, but our faculty is much smaller than other schools’. The next chair of Pediatrics will be responsible for growing the clinical and research faculty and will serve as physician-in-chief of Children’s of Alabama. Watch the School of Medicine calendar for information about other candidates’ presentations and attend if you can.

Coming up

This Friday and Saturday, Rick Myers, Ph.D., president and director of HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, and five of his colleagues will join several leaders from the School of Medicine’s strategic planning areas to discuss ways we can work together in genomics research. Genomics is the foundation for personalized medicine, being able to tailor medical care to an individual patient’s genome. It has great promise for our patients, but there still are many answers that need to be unlocked through basic research. We have tremendous potential at UAB to become a national leader in this area because of our large and diverse patient population and our stellar scientists. Collaborating with HudsonAlpha, a world-class biotechnology company, is another advantage. Our meeting will aim to find new ways to collaborate, creating opportunities for our researchers, clinicians and, eventually, our patients.  Stay tuned for more details.
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