The Scoop: A Publication of the University of Texas Medical School at Houston

Produced by the Office of Communications // November 3, 2011

Scholarly Concentrations Information Fair set for Nov. 14

Scholarly Concentrations Information Fair

The Scholarly Concentrations Program will hold an Information Fair noon–1 p.m., Monday, Nov. 14 in the Medical School’s Leather Lounge to allow first- and second-year medical students an opportunity to learn more about the educational and research opportunities of specific concentrations.

Scholarly Concentrations provide interested students an opportunity to receive an expanded and enriched learning and scholarly experience in a theme-based area of emphasis while completing their four-year medical curriculum. Students are required to complete a faculty-mentored scholarly project and a defined set of concentration-specific required and elective educational offerings (courses, seminars, journal clubs, etc.).

Scholarly Concentration areas include: Child Health & Advocacy; Clinical Quality, Safety & Evidence–Based Medicine; Emergency Preparedness & Response; Geriatric & Palliative Medicine; Global Health; Medical Humanities; Molecular Basis of Medicine; Nanomedicine & Biomedical Engineering; Neurosciences; and Primary Care/Family Medicine.

Online applications will be available in the spring semester.

For more information regarding Scholarly Concentrations, please contact Linda Guardiola, program coordinator.

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Nobel Laureate to present Knobil Lecture Nov. 9

Dr. Richard Axel

Dr. Richard Axel

Dr. Richard Axel, of Columbia University, will receive the Ernst Knobil Distinguished Lecture Award at 4 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 9, in MSB 3.001 and present “Scents and Sensibility: Internal Representations of the Olfactory World.”

His research career began in the field of molecular biology and later branched off into multiple disciplines within the field, including the study of recombinant DNA at Columbia University. Mentored by Dr. Eric Kandel, renowned neurobiologist, it was here that he began to think about the connections between molecular biology and neuroscience and its effect on gene expression, behavior, and cognition.

Axel’s pioneering discoveries in olfaction have deepened our understanding of the sense of smell and led to a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, which he shared with Linda Buck in 2004. Axel’s research continues to focus on olfactory perception, how it is manifested in development, how it changes over time. and how smells can evoke thoughts and behavior.

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Helpline focuses on dangerous substances for pregnant women

Texas TIPS helpline

A new toll-free helpline developed to help pregnant women avoid medications and other substances that can cause birth defects has been launched by the Medical School for the Texas Department of State Health Services.

The free helpline for health care professionals and pregnant women, 1.855.884.7248, connects to bilingual counselors who can answer questions about substances that might harm a developing fetus. It is called the Texas Teratogen Information on Pregnancy Service (Texas TIPS). Teratogens are chemicals and environmental factors that can cause birth defects.

Those potentially harmful substances include alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine, as well as certain medications such as lithium for depression and bipolar disease; lisinopril for high blood pressure; and isotretinoin—also known as Accutane—for acne and Retin-A. Fetuses also can be affected by maternal infections such as the rubella virus (German measles), syphilis, and the herpes virus.

“We are extremely excited to have the privilege of serving women who are or might be pregnant by providing a helpline service for questions regarding exposures during pregnancy,” said Dr. Hope Northrup, professor and director of the Division of Medical Genetics in the Department of Pediatrics. “Pregnancy is such an important and vulnerable time in a woman's life. We want to be here to provide support and be a resource for any woman or health care professional who has questions or concerns regarding potentially harmful exposures.”

Birth defects are the leading cause of death among Texas infants, with 21 percent of infant deaths due to birth defects in 2008. According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, more than 17,000 babies in Texas are born with one or more major structural birth defects. Two-thirds of birth defects are caused by unknown factors, likely environmental or maternal exposures.

With two-thirds of pregnant women taking prescription medications during pregnancy, there is significant confusion and misinformation about which medications should be avoided and which are known to have no adverse effects, according to the state health department. While not all birth defects are preventable, there is the potential to decrease the occurrence of birth defects by 6 to 10 percent with appropriate counseling and intervention before and during pregnancy.

The helpline is part of a $125,000 grant awarded to Northrup from the Texas Department of State Health Services. For more information, visit the website.

— Deborah Mann Lake, Office of Advancement, Media Relations

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Students invited to participate in competition hosted by Houston Geriatric Education Center

Houston Geriatric Education Center logo

The Houston Geriatric Education Center encourages all students of UTHealth schools to participate in a unique learning experience during the 2012 spring semester. The Houston Geriatric Education Center, an interdisciplinary federally funded center at UTHealth, is sponsoring an educational opportunity for students to go beyond the traditional learning experience in the separate schools and work together on a project.

For the past four years, students from universities in the Texas Medical Center have participated in this competition. This year, one more university is joining the program—the American College of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.

This year’s competition will focus on the assessment of health and social needs of seniors and allow students to develop recommendations to help community centers provide the best possible services to seniors in their communities. The students will be judged by interdisciplinary faculty and community leaders on their ability to assess and analyze the structure and organization of community centers; profile elders using community centers; identify the needs of elders in the community; and identify additional social and health services for elders.

The experience requires approximately 24 hours of time spread over three months. You may register for credit (and pay tuition), or you may register for a certificate at no cost. View more information and contact Fang Ye at 713.500.9170 if you have any questions.

—Laura Niles, Houston Geriatric Education Center

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Carving winners

UTMSH-Academy of Master Educators

Dr. Judith Smith, left, Xue Zhang, Mona Jaffari, and Andrew Tindall, a team made up of both Medical School and MD Anderson employees, stand beside their first-place, award-winning pumpkin display depicting Angry Birds. The display also won “Most Creative” during the Medical School's annual pumpkin carving contest on Halloween.

— Dwight C. Andrews, Office of Communications, Medical School





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Events to know

November 3–5

Third Annual World Wide Congress of Clinical Robotic Surgery Association.
JW Marriott Hotel, 5150 Westheimer.
Visit the website for more information or to enroll.

November 3

55th Edward T. Smith Orthopaedic Lectureship.
Four Seasons Hotel.

Microbiology and Molecular Genetics Seminar Series: Dr. Jonathan Silberg (Rice University) presents, “Ironing out the regulation of iron-sulfur cluster assembly by molecular chaperones.”
10:45 a.m., MSB 2.103.

November 4

William Fields Lecture: Dr. Louis Caplan (Harvard) presents, “Brain Ischemia— Hypoperfusion? Embolism?
Or Both.”

Noon, MSB 2.135.
For details, contact Annie Rose, 713.500.7051.

UTHealth Student Symposium 2011: Dr. Richard Myers (HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology).
Noon, MSB 2.103.
Lunch provided for the first 50 people. View the symposium schedule.

UTHealth Student Symposium 2011: Dr. Ricardo Dolmetsch (Stanford University).
4 p.m., MSB 2.103.
Reception to follow. View the symposium schedule.

November 5

Student Leadership conference: Jonathan Sprinkles presents, “Step up and be the One.”
University of Houston Clear Lake.
Open to all college students around Texas. View details and registration.

November 7

Friends of the Medical School Fall Luncheon: Drs. Oscar Bukstein and Alan Swann present, “Stress Symptoms— Effects on your Body, Feelings and Behavior.”
11:50 a.m.–1 p.m., Bagby Parish Hall at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church.
Tickets are $25 each. RSVP to Katie Mears.

Bioterrorism and Emerging Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response Series: Dr. Joseph Petrosino (Baylor College of Medicine) presents, “Tularemia.”
Noon, MSB B.610.

Global Health Lecture Series: Dr. Christopher Greeley, associate professor of pediatrics, presents, “The State of Children’s Health Around the World.”
Noon, MSB 2.006.

Center for Membrane Biology Seminar Series: Dr. James McNew (Rice University) presents, “Molecular Analysis of Membrane Fusion by the GTPase Atlastin.”
Noon–1 p.m., MSB 2.135.

Department of Integrative Biology and Pharmacology Seminar Series: Dr. Qingyun Jim Liu, Institute of Molecular Medicine, presents, “Regulation of Wnt/beta-catenin signaling by stem-cell-specific receptors.”
4–5 p.m., MSB 2.135.

Rice University’s President’s Lecture Series: UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa presents, “Hispanics in Texas: Educational Opportunities for the Next Generation.”
7:30 p.m., Shell Auditorium, Graduate School of Management, Rice University.

November 8

Tina Marin presents, “Human Subjects—Strategies for Successful IRB Submissions.”
11:30 a.m.–1 p.m., MSB 2.135.
Lunch will be available for the first 25 attendees. Registration is not required.

November 9

Topics in Neurobiology of Disease: Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine: Dr. Jaroslaw Aronowski, professor of neurology, presents, “Modulation of brain cleanup process to facilitate post stroke recovery.”
Noon, MSB 7.037.
Sponsored by the Neuroscience Research Center and GSBS.

Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences Grand Rounds: Dr. Mujeeb Shad, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, presents, “Neurobiology of Self-Awareness in Schizophrenia.”
Noon–1 p.m., HCPC Auditorium.

Family & Community Medicine Grand Rounds: Dr. Grant Fowler, professor of family and community medicine, presents, “Ultrasound Training.”
1–2 p.m., MSB 2.135.

Ernst Knobil Distinguished Lecture: Dr. Richard Axel, Nobel Laureate (Columbia University) presents, “Scents and Sensibility: Internal Representations of the Olfactory World.”
4 p.m., MSB 3.001.

November 10

Microbiology and Molecular Genetics Seminar Series: Dr. David Thanassi (Stony Brook University) presents, “Pilus assembly and secretion by the outer membrane usher protein.”
10:45 a.m., MSB 2.135.

November 11

Cheves M. Smythe, M.D., Retirement Celebration.
2–4 p.m., Webber Plaza.


The AAMC will offer free live webcasts of five major annual meeting sessions, including the town hall meeting with AAMC President and CEO Dr. Darrell Kirch Monday, Nov. 7. Read more information about the webcasts.

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