The Amazing Power of Teamwork

Collaboration, especially when it allows us to push the envelope in terms of innovation, will often reap impressive dividends. This is true across all of our missions. In research, a collaboration that began between the labs of Dr. Kaikobad Irani and Dr. Barry London more than six years ago has now resulted in a groundbreaking publication in the journal Nature Medicine. Both labs brought their unique expertise and perspectives to their collaborations which identified an interaction between a long-studied enzyme implicated in longevity (Sirtuin1) and the cardiac sodium channel, providing novel and fundamental insight into certain cardiac arrhythmias. I encourage you to read this publication and another recent publication from the Irani laboratory also concerning the so-called longevity protein Sirtuin1 in this post.

Additional evidence of the success and impact of our training programs materializes when our house staff and students show that they have internalized the importance of teamwork. The uplifting story presented earlier this week at Schwartz Center Rounds showcases one of the many elements that sets the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics apart from many other institutions. This amazing story of compassion and empathy started when a Nursing Assistant Jeni Beckman, recognized what was best for a patient and his family. Going above the call of duty, two of our Internal Medicine residents Dan Chakos and Nat Thompson, in collaboration with nursing and social work staff, granted our patient’s family perhaps their most meaningful gift. I salute and recognize all the members of our health care team for making such a difference in the life of this patient, their family, and all of the other fortunate patients you have the privilege of caring for.

Our clinical activities exceed expectation in part, again, because of ways in which our faculty find innovative ways to leverage the power of teamwork. Dr. Rolando Sanchez delivered an insightful presentation at yesterday’s Internal Medicine Grand Rounds demonstrating how multidisciplinary teams improved data collection and analysis. He has taken responsibility for the VA lung nodule registry program and, after identifying what VA Chief of Medicine Dr. Peter Kaboli called “a huge gap in our screening method,” Dr. Sanchez has reformed and refined this screening process. Besides a strong internal team at the VA to oversee this registry, Dr. Sanchez is also working with Dr. Rich Hoffman to expand this registry’s reach into rural areas.

At the other end of our healthcare campus, in the Medicine Specialty Clinic, another recent clinical innovation involving collaboration has begun to reveal astounding results. Under the direction of Dr. Joe Zabner and Administrator Karissa Pinkerman, the Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Clinic has dramatically increased its efficiency. By moving to a team-based approach and with the addition of a half-time nurse practitioner, three Pulmonary physicians combined their COPD patient rosters to reduce wait times for follow-up appointments and to open slots for new patients. They are currently on track to nearly triple the clinic’s productivity by year’s end. And while the team is keeping a close eye on any changes in patient satisfaction surveys, faculty satisfaction is on a dramatic upswing. Congratulations to NP Sara Kraus, Drs. Spyridon Fortis, Alejandro Comellas, and Joel Kline on their efforts to make this experiment so successful.

Finally, I’d like to extend my congratulations to Dr. Isabella Grumbach and Dr. Jack Stapleton. Both of them recently learned that their VA Merit Grant applications were renewed. Dr. Stapleton, Professor of Infectious Diseases, and the members of his lab will examine viral immune interference mechanisms in search of potential therapies and vaccines against a variety of deadly and debilitating viruses. Dr. Grumbach, Associate Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine, and her lab will continue their research into the ways in which blocking CaMKII activity in smooth muscle cells can potentially prevent oxidative stress and thus reduce the risks associated with hypertension. Please join me in congratulating our colleagues on their terrific successes. Go Hawks!

About E. Dale Abel, MD, PhD

E. Dale Abel, MD PhD Francois M. Abboud Chair in Internal Medicine John B. Stokes III Chair in Diabetes Research Chair, Department of Internal Medicine Director, Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center Director, Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism Professor of Medicine, Biochemistry and Biomedical Engineering

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