The American Medical Association has designated September as “Women in Medicine Month,” We are proud to recognize the important contribution of women to the fabric of our department, from trainees to faculty and senior leaders. Last year, I opined on many of the ways that our department works to create a level playing field for our female colleagues as we continue to seek to identify and avoid the pitfalls and prejudices—both conscious and unconscious—that could get in the way. Our commitment to removing barriers for women to succeed in medicine is a core value of our department. We have much farther to go, but I hope that signs of progress are undeniable. In our assessment last year, we identified leaders within our fellowship programs, leaders in our research labs, clinics, and classrooms, and leaders in departmental administrative roles. Last year, too, about half of our faculty promoted to both Associate Professor and Professor were women. In this year’s class, women comprise slightly less than half of our Associate Professor promotions. And although only two of the nine faculty promoted to Professor this year were women, I am encouraged by the fact that our dossiers for promotion in 2019 reveal that next year women will outnumber men in both categories. This should not diminish the accomplishments of Dr. Kyle Brown in the Division of Gastroenterology and of Dr. Isabella Grumbach in the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, who this year joined the distinguished and growing ranks of female full professors in our department.
One of the women in our department who is a leader in our training programs is Dr. Hilary Mosher. The VA Quality Scholars (VAQS) Program that she directs is an outstanding example of how our department innovates in clinical care and quality. We are fortunate to have a productive relationship with the VA Medical Center here and their environment has been a strong venue for clinical training and clinical innovation. The VAQS hosts a half-dozen physicians and nurses each year who receive hands-on experience in a variety of research projects in implementation science. Whether it is designing a new protocol for hand-offs to ensure optimal continuity of care, or performing a retrospective cohort study on one of the single largest collections of patient data in the nation, the VAQS is on the cutting-edge of health services and quality improvement research. We are proud to be one of only nine VA sites nationwide to host this program. Congratulations to Dr. Mosher and her colleagues on their successful competitive renewal of this program.
Another innovative training program that we are proud to participate in comes through the Institute for Clinical and Translational Science (ICTS), led by Dr. Patricia Winokur. Last spring, they successfully renewed their application for the NIH’s Clinical and Translational Science Award, which includes the KL2 Scholars program, a guided career development award similar to the K08 but with more PhD-level coursework. Shortly thereafter, the ICTS put out a call for applicants among junior research faculty interested in additional training. We are proud to say that of the four Scholars selected by ICTS this year, Dr. Brad Rosen was one of them. Dr. Rosen is an Associate in Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Occupational Medicine and has been working in the lab of Dr. John Engelhardt for the last few years. Under the mentorship of Dr. Engelhardt and Division Director Dr. Joseph Zabner, Dr. Rosen will continue to have protected time that will enable him to develop a scientific portfolio that will increase his competitiveness for independent future research funding. This is evidence of mentorship in action. I congratulate Dr. Rosen and thank his mentors for their excellent stewardship of the future of scientific inquiry, underpinning one of the core missions of our department and ensuring that we will continue to develop physician investigators to populate our ranks.
Another example of the value of mentorship is exemplified in the recent renewal of the five-year, $11.5M Program Project Grant from the NIH for cystic fibrosis research. For many years, Dr. Michael Welsh has steadily and consistently built one of the strongest CF research programs in the world. But this strength is not just due to his expansion of our understanding of the CFTR gene nor his development of the pig model, both of which dramatically changed the lives of countless people with the lung disease. The endurance of Dr. Welsh’s work can be seen in the assumption of the role of principal investigator by Dr. David Stoltz, who was trained in part by Dr. Welsh and many others within the department and college. Congratulations to both of them. A similar eye toward the future can be found in the awarding of pilot and seed grants. Both the Carver Trust and the Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center have a solid tradition of receiving significant “returns on investment” in their awards, with awardees parlaying these seed grants into larger extramural funds. Congratulations to all who received these awards, and notably to Dr. Chad Grueter who has received one of each.
Finally, a reminder that Monday, September 17, we will hold Internal Medicine’s 52nd Annual Research Day, a wonderful tradition that showcases the great diversity and range of research being conducted within our department. There will be short presentations from faculty in the Bean Conference Room, a keynote lecture from Dr. Stephen Forman of the City of Hope on CAR-T therapy in the Medical Alumni Auditorium, and a poster session and competition in the MERF Atrium. We hope to see you all there.