Good News

Bryan Shepherd is co-author on a paper accepted in Epidemiology, describing statistical methods for estimating the optimal time to initiate therapy in HIV-infected patients.

Leena Choi is co-author on a paper accepted in Journal of Applied Physiology, describing distributed lag and spline modeling for predicting energy expenditure from accelerometry in youth.

Aixiang Jiang and Pengcheng Lu are co-authors on a paper accepted to Gastroenterology, reporting an experimentally derived colon cancer metastasis gene expression profile.

Town Hall Meeting

Dr. Jeffrey Balser, Vanderbilt’s vice chancellor of health affairs, attended the January faculty meeting to lead a town hall.

Dr. Balser first expressed his appreciation for the sacrifices made by all faculty and staff in the past year. Due to these sacrifices, in the form of an FY2010 salary freeze, Vanderbilt has been able to avoid large-scale layoffs.

Dr. Balser next spoke about the dry lab building, originally scheduled to be under construction by this time. Although new dry lab space remains a priority on both the medical and university side, construction is likely to be delayed for another several years, due to the effect of the economic crisis on Vanderbilt’s endowment. Vanderbilt must maintain an AA bond rate, which means that we are unable to borrow large sums of money while the value of our endowment is depressed. When the endowment regains value, we will be able to borrow the money required to build the dry lab building; construction may or may not occur at the site originally chosen (in front of MCN).

In the meantime, Vanderbilt’s strategy for dealing with growth will be to lease satellite buildings, for example, a large space in Green Hills that has recently been leased. University and medical center units that do not have to be housed on campus will be moved to these units.

Dr. Balser emphasized that, compared to institutions such as Harvard, Vanderbilt’s economic health is still strong; we have not suffered as great a setback due to loss of endowment value. Nevertheless, we do continue to face financial challenges. A major challenge arises due to Vanderbilt’s mission and commitment to treat all patients, regardless of insurance status. Vanderbilt treats the highest percentage of uninsured patients of any hospital in the area, with $270 million per year in costs for treating the uninsured. In addition, approximately 50% of all patients treated at Children’s Hospital are TennCare patients; thus, potential cuts to TennCare could put significant financial pressure on Vanderbilt.

At the end of the town hall, Dr. Balser opened the floor to questions. The first question addressed progress toward establishing an applied social sciences department. Dr. Balser explained that the proposed chair of this new department had decided not to move to Nashville; the search committee will begin a new search for candidates.

Yu Shyr and Frank Harrell asked Dr. Balser for his opinion regarding strategies for strengthening connections and collaborations among quantitative science groups at Vanderbilt (biostatistics, bioinformatics, human genetics, etc). Dr. Balser suggested that the chairs of these departments meet with Susan Wente, associate vice chancellor for basic sciences, to discuss the possibility of joint hiring across departments.

Dan Ayers asked about international collaborations, particularly Vanderbilt’s collaboration with the University of Melbourne. Dr. Balser mentioned that he will visit Melbourne this spring, and will then have a better sense of how this collaboration might proceed. In the meantime, Dr. Balser encouraged researchers to apply for available funding for any potential international collaborations of interest.

Best regards,
CQI Communications Team
Frank Harrell, Yu Shyr, Dan Byrne, Linda Stewart, and Lynne Berry

-- JohnBock - 01 Apr 2011
Topic revision: r1 - 01 Apr 2011, JohnBock

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