Mark Twain once famously observed that, “No man's life, liberty or property are safe while the legislature is in session.”
While Twain’s humorous warning is understandable, that certainly wasn’t the case for the UH College of Medicine during the 86th session of the Texas Legislature, which recently concluded. We were treated quite well, thank you very much. Our request for $20 million in crucial startup funding was included as part of the overall state budget that was approved by the legislators and passed along to the governor, who is expected to sign it into law shortly.
Getting this funding in place allows us to continue the steady and significant progress the College of Medicine has been making.
This level of financial support is essential to hire faculty and staff and move forward developing our curriculum. Having a first-rate faculty and suitable curriculum are vital to meeting the accreditation requirements of the Liaison Committee for Medical Education (LCME) as it evaluates our application. Fortunately, we appear to be on schedule and remain hopeful that we can begin enrolling our first students in fall of 2020, contingent upon receiving LCME accreditation. To quote Mark Twain again, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” And it’s fair to say that, with the Texas Legislature’s support, we have made a solid start indeed.
Faculty Affairs – As I mentioned, we continue to assemble an exceptional faculty for the University of Houston College of Medicine, and I’m pleased to announce these four new members:
- Donald A. Briscoe, M.D. – A family physician by training, Dr. Briscoe will serve as the Director of the Longitudinal Primary Care and Household Centered Care Clerkship. Prior to joining UH, Dr. Briscoe was the Chief Medical Officer of Vecino Health Centers, a Federally Qualified Health Center in Houston, and both the Family Medicine Residency Director and Chairman of the Department of Family Medicine for the Houston Methodist Hospital. He attended the University of Virginia for both undergraduate and medical school. Dr. Briscoe’s honors include the Texas Academy of Family Physician’s Exemplary Teacher Award and the Association of Family Medicine Residency Director’s Gold Level Recognition Award.
- Raj Kumar, Ph.D. – Dr. Kumar is a Professor of Biochemistry in the Department of Biomedical Sciences in the College of Medicine. He received his Ph.D. degree from the University of Lucknow and post-doctoral training from the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB). His expertise includes steroid hormone receptors and endocrine cancers as well as medical education in the fields of clinical biochemistry and endocrinology/reproduction.
- Shayne N. Hassler, Ph.D. – Dr. Hassler has been appointed Assistant Professor of Cell Biology in the Department of Biomedical Sciences. He received his Doctor of Philosophy degree at UTMB studying how reactive oxygen species contribute to chronic neuropathic pain after spinal cord injury. He completed a NIH-sponsored post-doctoral fellowship at UT-Dallas studying the role of protease-activated receptors in peripheral inflammatory pain and migraine. His expertise includes basic neuroscience research in the fields of pain neurobiology, chronic pain, neurotrauma and analgesic drug discovery. Dr. Hassler also has experience in medical education in the field of anatomy, neuroanatomy and cell biology.
- John Hubbard, Ph.D. – Dr. Hubbard joins us as Professor of Anatomy in the Department of Biomedical Sciences. He is a recognized expert in the anatomical sciences and has been teaching courses in Gross Anatomy, Histology, and Neuroanatomy in Medical and Allied Health schools since 1996. His numerous honors for teaching include the Texas A&M Former Students Association Distinguished Teaching Award. Dr. Hubbard is also the elected Chair of the Anatomical Board of the State of Texas. His expertise includes both medical education in the field of the anatomical sciences and clinical expertise in physical rehabilitation.
They are all welcome additions to the University and our medical school.
Clinical Matters – The Lone Star Circle of Care at University of Houston Clinic on campus (in the Health 2 Building) has been in operation since early April, but we have just now found time to officially celebrate its opening.
A group of community leaders, key University personnel and area health care executives attended a formal ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday morning. The clinic, a Federally Qualified Health Center, is a joint initiative between UH and Lone Star Circle of Care, intended to provide comprehensive primary and behavioral health care services to area residents. Five of our UH College of Medicine faculty members serve on the clinic’s medical staff, reinforcing our connection with this helpful community service. Maintaining the clinic on campus offers practical opportunities for our students in health- and health care-related programs to observe and participate under the supervision of our faculty.
For those UH employees who may be wondering if this clinic is available to them as a health care resource, it certainly is. At UH’s upcoming Benefits Fair (July 10), you can get specific information about using your standard Blue Cross Blue Shield coverage to designate one of the Lone Star Circle of Care at UH physicians as your PCP. And, of course, you are always welcome on a walk-in basis or to call 1-877-800-5722 for an appointment.
Your continued support and interest in the UH College of Medicine are appreciated. If you have any questions or suggestions, please visit our website or contact us at email@example.com.
Stephen J. Spann, M.D., M.B.A.
Founding Dean, College of Medicine
Vice President for Medical Affairs