Sharing progress and good news in the school

Message from Dean Sharon Anderson

September 11, 2017

I am guessing that I’m not alone in wanting to hear some good news amid the hurricanes, smoke, ash, heat, floods and ongoing federal divisiveness. Gratefully, we have plenty to share. 

Dean Sharon AndersonIn the spirit of progress, I’m really pleased to report that among a number of excellent new recruits and promotions – including Alejandro Aballay from Duke as chair of MMI, Joaquin Cigarroa as head of cardiovascular medicine, David Jacoby as interim chair of medicine, Greg Landry as head of vascular surgery and Erik Mittra of Stanford as head of nuclear medicine – are some outstanding new women leaders. Farah Husain is our new head of bariatric surgery and Susan Gurley, also from Duke, will become head of nephrology and hypertension.

Dr. Husain has proven herself as a clinician leader, teacher and team builder at OHSU. She came to us after a decade on active duty in the U.S. Army, a fellowship at Emory and then helping Kaiser launch a metabolic-surgical weight management department in Denver. Dr. Gurley is not only highly regarded nationally in nephrology, she is a physician scientist. Especially amid national Women in Medicine Month, I could not be more pleased to have Dr. Gurley and Dr. Husain in these leadership roles.

Speaking of great women leaders, Mary Stenzel-Poore has stepped down as the school’s senior associate dean for research to become chief of research operations in the Knight Cancer Institute, and it’s taking three women to replace her. Mary Heinricher, associate dean for research, and Maggie Jameson, director of research strategy and operations for the school, will join me in handling research administration for the school. When in doubt on who to contact, please view Maggie as a point of entry. Meanwhile, we will soon be able to share more information about plans for recruiting a chief scientific officer to integrate and lead research across OHSU.

While I’m talking about research, I want to congratulate the Oregon Clinical and Translational Research Institute for being refunded. OCTRI is a crucial resource, a catalyst for scientific collaboration and innovation and a bridge builder from bench to bedside. I also want to say thank you to the group known as the G-5 who hosted me at their meeting this week. This group of our five clinical and research leaders in neuroscience – Dennis Bourdette (Neurology), Marc Freeman (Vollum), George Keepers (Psychiatry), Bita Moghaddam (Behavioral Neuroscience) and Nate Selden (Neurosurgery) – are shaping the vision for OHSU neuroscience, and I’m excited about their efforts.

In our clinical mission, I want to recognize Esther Choo (Emergency Medicine) for her New England Journal of Medicine piece last year and her tweet in August about dealing with racist patients in the ER, as well as her subsequent, solutions-oriented viewpoint piece and participation in a panel put on by our chapter of the Student National Medical Association. Dr. Choo is an outstanding example of courage and clarity around what it really takes to honor and uphold both diversity and inclusion – for women and for minorities.

I am also really proud of our medical students who, after the violence in Charlottesville, partnered with the OHSU Center for Diversity and Inclusion, Drs. Choo, Brian Gibbs and George Mejicano on the “In the Face of Hate” panel, as one of many activities they are undertaking to understand and combat racism. Likewise, our graduate students have created the Alliance for Visible Diversity in Science to focus OHSU efforts on recruiting, retaining, and most importantly, supporting graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, staff, and faculty members from underrepresented backgrounds. Our students are at the forefront of this necessary culture change in medicine and biomedical research. Their efforts support growth in all of us, and they give me great hope for the future.

I’ll end with a wistful yet celebratory note. On Sept. 6, just a few days after the anniversary of Mark Richardson’s untimely death, OHSU leaders, community members and Dean Richardson’s widow Ellen Richardson came together to dedicate a sculpture in Mark’s name. The sculpture, donated by Northwest artist Bruce West, who also attended the ceremony, stands in the courtyard behind Mackenzie Hall and will soon have an engraved plaque affixed to it.

Mark enjoyed the sounds of campus life that drifted up from the courtyard, where his sculpture now stands, to his office on the fourth floor of Mackenzie Hall. OHSU President Joe Robertson remarked that now "future deans will look down on the sculpture and be inspired by Mark's memory.” As the first dean to have the privilege of doing so, it was comforting to me in the days after the dedication to realize that the light reflected off of this stainless steel sculpture changes throughout the day - as if Mark is still here, tracking time as we work to build on his legacy.

Thanks for all you do for our school and for OHSU.

Sharon Anderson, M.D.