News from Dean Spann | December 2020
12/14/2020, 10:05:02 AM
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Dear UH College of Medicine Friends and Family,

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and other immense challenges of this year, the UH College of Medicine has shown resilience, adaptability and achieved many successes, for which we are grateful.

Our students

We welcomed our inaugural class in July and hosted our first White Coat Ceremony (following COVID-19 safety guidelines!) in August. We have an extraordinary class that is strongly mission-driven and diverse; I am extremely proud of each one of them.

The admissions process for the second class is going well, with approximately 4000 applications to screen, and virtual interviews occurring every week. We hope to complete interviews in February 2021 and the Texas student match will occur in March.

Our faculty and staff

We have added 13 talented new faculty members since February:

  • Thomas Richard Gest, Ph.D., clinical professor, Biomedical Sciences
  • Omolola Elizabeth Adepoju, Ph.D., research director with the Humana Institute and clinical associate professor, Health Systems and Population Sciences
  • Kathleen Ann Jones, M.D., clinical professor, Biomedical Sciences
  • Jerome W. Crowder, Ph.D., clinical associate professor, Behavioral & Social Sciences
  • David Raskin, Ph.D., clinical associate professor, Biomedical Sciences
  • Bhavna Lall, M.D., clinical assistant professor, Clinical Sciences
  • Maureen O. Grissom, Ph.D., clinical associate professor, Behavioral & Social Sciences
  • Thomas Thesen, Ph.D., clinical associate professor, Biomedical Sciences
  • Lauren Rose Gilbert, Ph.D., clinical assistant professor, Health Systems and Population Sciences
  • Ben King, Ph.D., clinical assistant professor, Health Systems and Population Sciences
  • Michael W. Nash, clinical assistant professor, Behavioral & Social Sciences
  • Jay Radhakrishnan, M.D., adjunct faculty, Biomedical Sciences
  • Frene' Deshaw LaCour-Chestnut, M.D., director of the Longitudinal Integrated Clerkship and clinical associate professor, Clinical Sciences

Research News

In 2020, the College of Medicine received external funding from the National Institutes of Health, Humana Corporation and regional foundations for interdisciplinary research studies ranging from COVID-19, health equity and health disparities, as well as social factors that negatively impact health outcomes. Our faculty researchers, research staff and students have been busy conducting important research that will make a difference in patients’ lives and improve health in our community.

Out in the community

We have partnered on a number of important projects with local community organizations and agencies, involving our students, staff and faculty.
In June, our College hosted a food and toiletry distribution in Third Ward with the American Heart Association, Riverside United Methodist Church, and Humana. We delivered 117 boxes of fresh produce and toiletries to residents of Cuney Homes and Royal Palms Apartments.  On October 30, the College co-hosted a Trunk-or-Treat drive-through community event for the distribution of food, toiletries and Halloween treats at the Tejano Center for Community Concerns/Raul Yzaguirre School for Success in the East End. We served 563 adults and 488 children.  

Our new home

Work is progressing on the new College of Medicine education building. The three-story, 130,000-square-foot structure will be located on a 43-acre tract along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, across from MacGregor Park. To date we are at 5% completion with an anticipated occupancy date of July 2022. The COM team has been working closely with the Facilities and Construction team to ensure all details are covered.  We now know where every light switch and electrical outlet will be.

In addition to our LinkedIn page, we now have a presence on Facebook. So, there are many ways to be part of the UH College of Medicine community.

Looking to the future

Next year we plan to continue building on our successes as we build our College. There are some great things in store:

The College of Medicine is launching the Coordinated Care Network on January 25, 2021 in support of our Household-Centered Care program. This is a network of social services and medical providers who will be able to make seamless referrals for Household-Centered Care participants through the Unite Us platform.

Household Centered Care is a partnership with the community through student interprofessional teams, community health workers and community working groups. This partnership will coordinate care and promote healthy choices to improve health and access to care of households facing significant health disparities.

In 2021, the College also plans to host its first Undergraduate Summer Shadowing Program. This is an opportunity for students of diverse backgrounds – attending the University of Houston, University of Houston-Downtown, University of Houston-Clear Lake, Texas Southern University or Texas A&M Prairie View – to gain experience in the clinical setting while building connections with practicing physicians. All placements will be with primary care physicians with different specialties – family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, ob-gyn and psychiatry.

I believe we are making progress towards accomplishing our mission of improving the health and healthcare of the population of Greater Houston.  I am thankful for each and every one of you and your contributions to the College of Medicine and I wish you a wonderful holiday season and all the best for 2021.

Kind regards,

Stephen J. Spann, M.D., M.B.A.
Founding Dean, College of Medicine
UH Vice-President for Medical Affairs
Humana Endowed Dean’s Chair in Medicine
Phone (713) 743-7047
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