Tag Archives: Joe G. N. “Skip” Garcia

Mayo Medical Schools Expands to Arizona

UA College of Medicine Accredited Through 2022

The medical education program at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson, designed to train the next generation of highly skilled physicians dedicated to improving patient care and advancing the state of medical knowledge, has earned accreditation through 2022, a full eight-year term.

The Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME), the accreditation authority for MD programs in the United States and Canada, announced the decision and identified a number of institutional strengths within the college that are distinctive and worthy of emulation. The LCME is jointly sponsored by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and the Council on Medical Education of the American Medical Association (AMA).

The UA College of Medicine – Tucson graduates 115 medical doctors each year and is led by Interim Dean Joe G.N. “Skip” Garcia, MD, who also serves as UA senior vice president for health sciences. The college’s medical education program is led by Kevin Moynahan, MD, deputy dean of education.

In January, more than 100 faculty, students, administrators and staff from the UA College of Medicine – Tucson (UA COM – Tucson) met with the LCME survey team during its site visit to determine accreditation eligibility.

“This achievement would not have been possible were it not for the tremendous leadership, teamwork and effort put forth by all. We are grateful to our UA COM – Tucson LCME project leadership team, to those students, faculty and staff who participated in the survey visit, as well as to the numerous students, faculty and staff who participated in the COM self-study process,” said Dr. Moynahan.

In addition to awarding the college accreditation for a full cycle, the 19 LCME members, who are medical educators and administrators, practicing physicians, public members and medical students appointed by the AAMC and AMA, determined that the college has a number of institutional strengths:

· The LCME found that the student-developed and student-administered Commitment to Underserved People (CUP) program, implemented by the UA College of Medicine in 1979, provides an exceptional number and variety of community service and service-learning opportunities for medical students. The CUP program provides UA medical students the opportunity to gain clinical experience by working with medically underserved populations. CUP was described by numerous medical students as a major influence in their decision to attend the college.

· The LCME also noted the development and implementation of an effective system of confidential and easily accessible personal counseling for its students, assisting them in adjusting to the ongoing emotional demands of a medical education. The UA COM – Tucson counseling program received high praise from students in the 2013 AAMC Graduation Questionnaire, in the independent student analysis and in conversations with students during the survey visit.

· In addition, the UA COM – Tucson Societies Program provides a strong longitudinal experience with a trained faculty mentor. Mentors are chosen from among the college’s most distinguished clinician-educators who teach students interviewing, physical examination and patient care skills at the patient bedside, helping students to develop clinical thinking, documentation and presentations and professionalism skills.

The LCME defines areas of strengths as those that reflect an aspect of the medical education program that has been shown to be critical for the successful achievement of one or more of the program’s missions or goals or a truly distinctive activity or characteristic that would be worthy of emulation.

The UA College of Medicine – Tucson provides state-of-the-art programs of medical education, groundbreaking research opportunities and leading-edge patient care. Together with the UA College of Medicine – Phoenix, the two colleges are Arizona’s only MD degree-granting institutions serving as a health care resource for the state and its people.

Founded on the campus of the University of Arizona in 1967, with an initial class of just 32 students, the UA College of Medicine – Tucson today has graduated more than 3,900 physicians. College of Medicine students, faculty, staff and alumni continue more than 45 years of service in advancing medical care and knowledge in Arizona—and around the world.

bioscience

Renowned Bioinformatician Joins UA

Yves A. Lussier, MD, FAMCI, a professional engineer and physician-scientist who conducts research in translational bioinformatics and personal genomics, has joined the Arizona Health Sciences Center at the University of Arizona.

Dr. Lussier will serve as UA professor of medicine; associate vice president for health sciences and chief knowledge officer for AHSC; associate director for cancer informatics and precision health for the University of Arizona Cancer Center; and associate director, BIO5 informatics, for the UA BIO5 Institute. He assumed his new duties Dec. 2.

Dr. Lussier is an international expert in translational bioinformatics and a pioneer in research informatics techniques including systems biology, data representation through ontologies and high-throughput methods in personalized medicine. At the UA, he will lead efforts to fully develop novel programs in biomedical informatics, computational genomics and precision health. Dr. Lussier will provide critical leadership in efforts to advance precision health approaches to health outcomes and healthcare delivery and in the development of big data analytical tools and resource services in support of the University’s clinical research and service missions.

“I’m extremely pleased to have Yves join the University of Arizona,” said Joe G.N. “Skip” Garcia, MD, UA senior vice president for health sciences. “Yves and his team of computational specialists bring much needed expertise and program capacity in informatics, sequence analysis, genomic annotation and computational biology that will accelerate translational research activity across campus and throughout the state.”

Anne E. Cress, PhD, interim director of the UA Cancer Center, noted that “the integration of genomics with clinical information is the key to innovative approaches to provide ‘tomorrow’s medicine today’ for cancer patients. The addition of Dr. Lussier to the Cancer Center will greatly strengthen our clinical research efforts in cancer informatics and the delivery of personalized treatment plans.”

Fernando D. Martinez, MD, director of the UA BIO5 Institute, shared his enthusiasm for Dr. Lussier’s recruitment. “Informatics bridges the five core disciplines – agriculture, engineering, medicine, pharmacy and science – of BIO5. Dr. Lussier and his team will advance the Institute’s interdisciplinary, collaborative research efforts to successfully create solutions to the grand biological challenges.”

Dr. Lussier comes to UA from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), where he was professor of medicine, bioengineering and biopharmaceutical sciences, and assistant vice president for health affairs and chief research information officer for the University of Illinois Hospital and Health Sciences System. Prior to his tenure at UIC, Dr. Lussier was associate director of informatics for the University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center as well as co-director of biomedical informatics for the Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA)-funded Institute for Translational Medicine (2006-2011). From 2001-2006, Dr. Lussier was an assistant professor in the Departments of Biomedical Informatics and Medicine at Columbia University in New York.

Dr. Lussier’s research interests focus on the use of ontologies, knowledge technologies and genomic network model to accurately individualize the treatment of disease and to repurpose therapies. He has National Institutes of Health funding for a clinical trial that repositioned a combination therapy, he also bioinformatically predicted and obtained biological confirmation of several novel tumor suppressor microRNAs, including the first one underpinning the oligo- vs poly- metastasis development of cancer.

His research has been featured in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. He has authored 130 publications and delivered more than 100 invited presentations in precision medicine, systems medicine and translational bioinformatics, including 14 opening conference keynotes.

A Fellow of the American College of Medical Informatics, Dr. Lussier is a member of numerous governance, technology transfer, scientific and editorial boards, including the American Medical Informatics Association, International Society for Computational Biology, Society for Clinical and Translational Science, American Society for Cancer Research, Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists, American Association for the Advancement of Science and American Society for Human Genetics.

heart

Sweitzer Named Head of UA Sarver Heart Center

Nancy K. Sweitzer, MD, PhD, a board-certified advanced heart failure and transplant cardiologist and physiologist, will become director of the University of Arizona Sarver Heart Center and chief of the Division of Cardiology in the UA College of Medicine, Department of Medicine, effective March 1, 2014, announced Steve Goldschmid, MD, dean of the UA College of Medicine – Tucson.

“It is very clear that Dr. Sweitzer has a passion for professional excellence and delivery of high-quality cardiovascular care, combined with a curiosity that drives collaborative scientific discovery,” Dr. Goldschmid said.  “She also displays a deep commitment to seeking ways to improve. She personifies the UA’s ‘Never Settle’ vision – a vision that guides our strategic planning at the College of Medicine.”

Currently, Dr. Sweitzer is an associate professor of medicine and director of numerous programs, including clinical research, quality, and the heart failure and cardiac transplant programs (interim director) at the University of Wisconsin Cardiovascular Medicine Division in Madison. She also directs the cardiovascular medicine and heart failure and cardiac transplant fellowship programs there.

“Dr. Sweitzer is nationally recognized for her strong leadership and experience in clinical research. These unique talents will help her build impactful bridges between the clinical and basic science enterprises, and increase discovery in the areas of translational and personalized cardiovascular medicine,” said Joe G.N. “Skip” Garcia, MD, senior vice president for health sciences and professor of medicine at the University of Arizona.

Dr. Sweitzer has a clinical research program focused on the interaction of the dysfunctional heart muscle in heart failure with the vasculature and kidneys to better understand how to improve symptoms and organ function in heart failure patients.  She has done extensive work on the physiology of heart failure with preserved systolic function, a disease that disproportionately affects elderly women. She has led and collaborated on numerous studies sponsored by the National Institutes of Health as well as studies supported by industry and academic sponsors. She also has served on numerous NIH committees and currently serves as a member of its Clinical and Integrative Cardiovascular Science Study Section and the American Heart Association’s Cardiac Biology and Regulation Committee.

“I believe in the mission of the current leadership of the University of Arizona, the College of Medicine, and The University of Arizona Health Network. Together, we are able to provide the highest level of unique advanced and specialized service to patients with heart disease in Tucson and the Southwest  and to support other cardiovascular and primary care providers in the region. The leadership at UA, combined with the strong faculty already in place, offer tremendous opportunity to grow the division’s regional and national presence and increase its prestige and recognition. I plan to build the cardiovascular division so that we will provide consistently excellent and comprehensive advanced and specialized cardiovascular disease services. As an advanced heart failure and transplant cardiologist, my focus has always been on providing the best care to the sickest patients with heart disease,” said Dr. Sweitzer.

“Dr. Sweitzer’s expertise will have a huge impact on the future advances that come from the Sarver Heart Center. Her experience as a translational researcher will be extremely valuable in terms of boosting collaboration between Sarver Heart Center members who have a strong basic science focus on cardiovascular diseases and those who understand the clinical advances that are within our grasp. We are grateful for the support we received from both the College of Medicine and The University of Arizona Health Network for making this recruitment possible,” said Carol C. Gregorio, PhD, director of the Molecular Cardiovascular Research Program and head of the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine at the UA College of Medicine, who has served as interim director of the Sarver Heart Center since July 2013, following the retirement of Dr. Gordon A. Ewy, who served as director since 1991. Dr. Gregorio also chaired the director search committee.

“I am looking forward to the unique opportunity to lead both cardiology and cardiovascular research efforts, coupled with a successful center of excellence in the UA Sarver Heart Center. The potential to make a significant impact is far greater than most cardiology opportunities. This is largely due to the tremendous legacy of Dr. Gordon Ewy. His amazing work in both research and public outreach, saving lives and increasing understanding and awareness of cardiovascular disease is an awe-inspiring and motivating legacy. The Sarver Heart Center and the talented and dedicated staff are poised to be a real force in the Tucson community as well as the regional Southwest for improvement of care disparities and cardiovascular disease awareness, and large-scale preventive heart disease efforts,” said Dr. Sweitzer.

health.education

UA Cancer Center Director Earns Title

David S. Alberts, MD, director of the University of Arizona Cancer Center from 2005-2013, has been granted the director emeritus title by the Arizona Health Sciences Center.

The title is retroactive to July 1 and will accompany his current title of Regents Professor of Medicine, Pharmacology, Nutritional Science and Public Health. Anne Cress, PhD, was named interim director of the UA Cancer Center on July 19.

“Your career at the University of Arizona has been more than distinguished, and your years of service to advancing our institution is much appreciated,” said Joe G. N. “Skip” Garcia, MD, UA senior vice president for health sciences, in a letter addressed to Dr. Alberts on Oct. 4. “We value the renown and prestige you have built for the Cancer Center, and thank you for your dedication and leadership. The passion by which you have served is evident to all.”

Under Dr. Alberts’ leadership, the extensive research portfolio of the UA Cancer Center includes more than $60 million in annual research funding. Clinically, Dr. Alberts pioneered new treatments for advanced ovarian cancers, including in vitro tumor cell chemosensitivity testing for personalized medicine strategies, intraperitoneal chemotherapy and maintenance chemotherapy.

Currently, Dr. Alberts helps to coordinate Phase I and II and pharmacokinetic drug studies at the UA Cancer Center for molecularly targeted chemopreventive agents. His laboratory research is concentrated on the evaluation of new surrogate endpoint biomarkers for cancer prevention trials. His National Cancer Institute-funded drug and diagnostics research has resulted in more than two dozen patents and the co-founding of five Arizona pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.

During his career, Dr. Alberts has served as an advisor to numerous cancer research foundations and committees, such as chair of the Oncologic Drug Advisory Committee to the Food and Drug Administration (1984-1986). And he was a member of the NCI’s Board of Counselors (to the Division of Cancer Prevention, 1990-1994), the Board of Scientific Advisors (1999-2006), and the coordinating subcommittee to the NCI’s Clinical Translational Advisory Committee (2006-2009).

Dr. Alberts has authored or co-authored more than 550 peer-reviewed publications, more than 100 book chapters and 60 invited articles, and has served as editor and co-editor of eight books. He has served on the editorial boards of several peer-reviewed scientific journals, including associate editor for Cancer Research from 1989-2002. Between 2002-2008, he acted as the co-editor-in-chief of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, the leading cancer public health research journal worldwide.

Dr. Alberts received his MD in 1966 from University of Virginia School of Medicine. He conducted his internship at the University of Wisconsin, before becoming a clinical associate in medical oncology at the National Cancer Institute’s Baltimore Cancer Research Center. Dr. Alberts conducted his internal medicine residency at the University of Minnesota and then served on the faculty of the University of California, San Francisco, for five years and obtained board certification in medicine and medical oncology in 1973. He joined the UA College of Medicine in 1975 as an assistant professor, where he has served for 38 years.