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Around the KU School of Medicine

Highlights including faculty news from around the KU School of Medicine.

photo of the KU School of Medicine sign outside the Murphy building.

KU Medical Center awarded Medical Science Training Program grant from the NIH

The physician-scientist training program at the University of Kansas Medical Center, which enables students to earn both a medical degree and a doctoral degree in a biomedical science, is now recognized as one of the most prestigious such programs in the country. This dual-degree program was awarded a Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This five-year award effectively makes KU Medical Center's M.D/Ph.D. dual degree one of only 50 such physician-scientist training programs nationwide that is designated by the NIH. MSTPs combine medical and graduate school into a rigorous but supportive training program that prepares students for medical research careers in academia, industry and the government. According to the NIH website, the MSTP currently supports 1,000 trainees across the country. The average length of time it takes students to complete a dual M.D./Ph.D. degree is eight years. Students have earned both M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from KU as far back as the 1980s, but a formal joint-degree program was not offered until the late 1990s when Joseph Bast, Ph.D., professor of anatomy and cell biology, led the effort to create one, said Timothy Fields, M.D., Ph.D., who has directed the program since 2008 and is the principal investigator of the Kansas MSTP.

KU Medical Alumni Association and Office of Medical Education partner to advance medical education research

Research in medical education plays a key role in improving educational formats and outcomes for learners and has resulted in many of the innovative curricular components in KU’s medical education program. KU School of Medicine offers a unique opportunity to support faculty innovations in medical student teaching and evaluation through the Medical Alumni Innovative Teaching Fund (MAITF), provided by the University of Kansas Medical Alumni Association and managed by the Office of Medical Education. A recent paper published in Medical Science Educator coauthored by a team of six from KU School of Medicine describes the MAITF grant program and its outcomes. The partnership between the Medical Alumni Association and the Office of Medical Education fosters ongoing research in the areas such as simulation, interprofessional education, and development and implementation of tools and techniques for instruction and assessment.
From: Journal publishes analysis of KU Medical Alumni Association’s fund for teaching excellence

KU researcher increasing cervical cancer screening rates for women in jail

Megha Ramaswamy, Ph.D., MPH, associate professor in the Department of Population Health has championed women’s health in vulnerable populations, beginning with incarcerated women. According to The Sentencing Project, a nonprofit organization for criminal justice reform, the number of women in jail has increased by 700% since 1980. The jail population is four to five times more likely to develop cervical cancer than the general population of women. To identify contributing factors, Dr. Ramaswamy began a pilot project in 2010 to survey female inmates about cervical cancer screenings, funded by the KU Cancer Center. Subsequently, she was awarded a grant from the National Cancer Institute of the National Institute of Health to address cervical cancer prevention in the justice system. A comprehensive educational intervention was developed and maintained contact with the women over time and follow up surveys indicated a 10% increase in reported up-to-date pap screenings. Dr. Ramaswamy’s program served as a model for other programs rolling out in Oakland, California and Birmingham, Alabama.

KU Medical Center converted incubator to coronavirus test lab

Andrew Godwin, Ph.D., professor and director of molecular oncology in pathology and laboratory medicine, opened a pharmacogenomics company, Sinochips Diagnostics, which operates within an incubator at KUMC. The lab focuses on personalized medicine and studies how and why medical treatments effect patients differently depending on their genetic makeup. As the pandemic began impacting the state in mid-March, Dr. Godwin connected with Allen Greiner, M.D., chief medical officer for Wyandotte County and professor and vice chair of family medicine, to see if they had a need for laboratory processing services. In response to community need, Sinochips changed focus and within ten days, they were processing COVID-19 tests. They offered services to others in Kansas, including safety net clinics in Wyandotte County and the Linn County Health Department. The lab continues to run tests at cost, which results in cost savings for the community organizations using their services.
From: Lab in KU Medical Center incubator switches to coronavirus test to meet community need

Virtual White Coat Ceremony

When KU School of Medicine welcomed the class of 2024 in July, the class could not be together with faculty to celebrate the White Coat Ceremony, marking the beginning of their medical school training and their commitment to upholding professional ethical standards. The faculty, staff and students were creative and thoughtful in their approach to celebrate the new matriculating class while mitigating possible transmission of COVID-19. Dr. Akinlolu Ojo, executive dean, delivered the keynote address through Zoom videoconferencing. Faculty and staff ensured that students received their white coats in advance so they could be cloaked at their homes. This approach fostered a safe celebration, in which 771 unique sites tuned into the videoconference.
From: Pandemic-era White Coat Ceremony makes history

Office of Graduate Medical Education provides wearable pumps for residents who breastfeed

Medical science is clear that breastmilk is the best food for most new babies, and doctors-in-training are educated about the many benefits of breastfeeding: stronger immune systems and lower risk of childhood diseases for the baby, as well as emotional benefits and a reduced risk of some cancers for the mother. Yet when female medical residents return to work after having their own infants, many struggle to practice for themselves what they have learned to support and promote for most patients. Medical residencies—the stage of education after graduating from medical school when newly minted doctors train in a particular specialty—are famous for their long shifts and intense workloads. The Office of Graduate Medical Education at the University of Kansas School of Medicine has launched an innovative program to support residents who are breastfeeding. The program provides, free of charge, wearable breast pumps for up to one year to medical residents who need them. These lightweight, wireless pumps fit discreetly inside a bra, enabling a mother to go about routine activities while the pump silently expresses milk. The pumps, powered by chargeable batteries like those in cell phones, can be controlled through a smartphone app. The program also provides mini-fridges to store the milk after pumping.

KU School of Medicine

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