News from Dean Spann | November 2023
11/20/2023, 07:00:02 AM
Tilman J. Fertitta Family College of Medicine Dean's Newsletter November 2023 Edition

The Thanksgiving season is a time for reflecting on everything for which we are thankful.  I am grateful for so many things: for family and friends, for health and wellbeing, for the opportunity to lead, to teach and to provide health care.  I am grateful for relationships with faculty, staff and student colleagues within our University and our College, and for relationships with the many individuals who support the UH Fertitta Family College of Medicine; these relationships bring me great joy.  Thank you for your contributions to our medical school and its important mission.  May you enjoy a wonderful and joyful Thanksgiving!

Student News

Our medical students are finding the right way to make a difference:

Student Metrics

Tilman J. Fertitta Family College of Medicine welcomes the Class of 2027. Founding Dean, Stephen J. Spann M.D., M.B.A. and other leadership addressed 60 incoming students and inspired them as they donned the symbol of their commitment: white coats for the first time heralding the official start of their medical journeys.

  • Congratulations to Zainab Jimoh M2 who was selected as the Family Medicine Interest Group (FMIG) Coordinator for Texas Academy of Family Physicians! Zainab will represent her fellow student members and best interests of TAFP when serving as a liaison between the resident and student leader forum, the FMIG network and American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) Region 1 FMIG Coordinator.
  • Elliot Flint’s M3 and Nabeel Ahmad’s M4 abstract for the Dermatology Section of the National Medical Association's Medical Student Dermatology Symposium in honor of A. Paul Kelly, MD was selected as a semifinalist and accepted to move forward in the process of selection for Finalists and presentation at the National NMA Annual Meeting.
  • Breanna Chachere M4 was recently appointed as AAFP Family Medicine Interest Group (FMIG) Network Regional Coordinator.
  • Congratulations to Brandon Gonzalez M4, Itzel Amacalli Tejeda M2 and Guillermo Saldaña M2 upon receiving Hispanic Health Coalition scholarships this fall. The purpose of the Hispanic Health Coalition’s Scholarship program is to support Hispanic scholars in their pursuit of a career in the health professions by providing financial assistance for higher education expenses. Eligible students must exhibit excellent academic performance, strong leadership abilities, active involvement in meaningful extracurricular activities and a genuine commitment to serving their community. Congratulations to these outstanding students.
  • Latino Medical Student Association (LMSA) held a Medical Spanish Simulation earlier this month that was attended by their fellow students and also College of Medicine faculty. Through these simulations, LMSA seeks to narrow the health care gap caused by language barriers. It’s divided into three levels based upon the students’ language proficiency and is a peer mentorship system which helps students connect and develop leadership skills. LMSA plans to expand into the community by promoting health education in Houston Hispanic communities. To learn more about LMSA, click here.
  • Fertitta Family College of Medicine faculty, staff and students attended the Hispanic American Medical Association of Houston (HAMAH) Gala and Scholarship Awards. The event celebrated two of our College of Medicine students, Brandon Gonzalez M4 and Amacalli Tejeda M2, who received scholarships. The purpose of HAMAH is to increase the number of Hispanic students who are committed to increasing health equity and plan to successfully graduate from medical school, a health professions school or graduate school in science.
  • First author Amani Halawa, along with fellow second year medical students Annabella Awazi and Jessica Medrano were awarded first-place in their category at the 2023 Annual Session and Primary Care Summit hosted by the Texas Academy of Family Physicians. Their poster analyzed the associations between patient characteristics (demographic, geographic, and clinical) and self-reports of unhealthy mental health days in patients with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. Dr. Adepoju led this team, her third year in a row mentoring a first-place team at this conference.

Faculty News

LeChauncy Woodard M.D.

  • LeChauncy Woodard, M.D., M.P.H., clinical professor at the University of Houston Tilman J. Fertitta Family College of Medicine and founding director of the Humana Integrated Health System Sciences Institute, has been awarded Mastership in the American College of Physicians (ACP), the national organization of internal medicine physicians. Only 1-2% of ACP’s 161,000 members have obtained Masterships, putting Woodard in exclusive company. Click here to learn more.
  • Ben King, Ph.D., M.P.H. Environmental Protection Agency, Science Advisory Board on Toxicology Review of Hexavalent Chromium. (July 19 & 27, 2023).
  • James H. Bray, Ph.D., received the Distinguished Contributions to Professional Practice Award by the American Psychological Association, Division of Independent Practice at the 2023 American Psychological Association Convention.
  • Thomas Gest, Ph.D., clinical professor of Anatomy, is retiring from the Fertitta College of Medicine after more than three years of service with the Department of Biomedical Sciences. We wish him a pleasant and enjoyable retirement after his service to the college.
  • Grant funding to Zhengwei Li, Ph.D., principal investigator, for: Development of Ultrasensitive Smart Bioelectronic Sensors for Colorectal Cancer Prevention and Health Disparities Reducing among Black Americans. Funding Agency: National Institutes on Health’s National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities NIH/NIMHD, for $50,000.
  • Grant funding to Tameka A. Clemons, Ph.D., principal investigator, for: Don’t let the sweet taste fool you: A look at the relationship between sweet taste bud receptors and gut health in African Americans”Funding Source: American Society of Cell Biology Peer Imaging Cluster, for $50,000.
  • Grant funding to Omolola E. Adepoju, Ph.D., M.P.H., principal investigator, for: Multisectoral Partnerships to Chronicle and Assess the Impact of Successive Disaster Events on Social Needs and Mental Health Outcomes in Underserved Communities. Funding Agency: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine for $1,499,058.
  • Grant funding to Omolola E. Adepoju, Ph.D., M.P.H., principal investigator, and Lauren R. Gilbert, Ph.D., M.P.H.,co-investigator for: Evaluating Telemedicine Related Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) Services in Underserved Populations. Funding Agency National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine for $155,000.
  • Grant funding to James Bray Ph.D., for: FRONTLINES+ Project: First Responder Opioid overdose Naloxone Training and Linkage Into Needed Evidence-based Services PLUS for $99,826.
  • Grant funding to James Bray Ph.D., for: Maternal Initiative for Reflective Recovery-Orient Residential Services for $495,011.

Welcome the following new faculty members to our college:

Lani Ackerman, M.D., clinical professor for Clinical Sciences, is director of Electives and the interim director of Advanced Clerkships.

James H. Bray, Ph.D., joined as a Clinical Psychologist and the new chair of the Behavioral and Social Sciences Department.

Jamie Everett, M.D., clinical associate professor of Pathology, joined the department of Biomedical Sciences. Everett is also a practicing pathologist.

Jonas Garcia, M.D., adjunct clinical professor for Internal Medicine and will be on clinical staff at the UH Health Family Care Center.

Jorge Gonzales, Ph.D., clinical professor for Behavioral and Social Sciences is a clinical child and adolescent psychologist at the Family Care Clinic.

Terence Ma, Ph.D., M.B.A., clinical professor, joined the department of Biomedical Sciences. Ma is the Assistant Dean for Assessment and Quality Improvement for Biomedical Sciences.

Saralyn McMorris, LCSW, licensed clinical social worker, clinical assistant professor and mental health clinician for Behavioral and Social Sciences.  

Sarat Munjuluri, M.D., M.S., clinical assistant professor for Behavioral and Social Sciences.

Pooja Patel, M.D., M.P.H., M.M.S., FACOG, associate professor, joined the department of Clinical Sciences.

Stephen Scott, M.D., M.P.H., senior associate dean for education and clinical professor.  

Suzan Skef, M.D., M.S., interim director of the Longitudinal Integrated Clerkship (LIC) and clinical associate professor for Clinical Sciences.

Lu Wang, Ph.D., assistant professor, joined the Health Systems and Population Health Sciences and the Humana Integrated Health System Sciences Institute.

UH Health Family Care Center Ready to Serve You

Toy Drive Promotion

The UH Health Family Care Center will host a Jolly Holiday Party on December 16 with the goal of giving gifts to 500 children in the Third Ward and East End! In order to reach our goal, we are having a Toy Drive during the month of November. New toys can be dropped off at the following locations: Student Center South, Ezekiel W. Cullen Building, Health 2 inside the Family Care Center, and the Tilman J. Fertitta Family College of Medicine first floor lobby, or you can make a purchase off our Amazon wish list here.

Shasta at teh Back to School Block Party

On August 12, the UH Health Family Care Center hosted its first Back to School Block Party in partnership with Boynton Chapel Methodist Church. The Family Care Center gave away more than 250 backpacks with school supplies to the 350 plus attendees, provided sports physicals, vaccines and exams to the community and connected the families with local resources and partners. Thank you to all who volunteered and supported this event!

Kind regards,

Stephen J. Spann, M.D., M.B.A.
Founding Dean
Tilman J. Fertitta Family College of Medicine
Vice-President for Medical Affairs
Humana Endowed Dean's Chair in Medicine
Phone (713) 743-0875

Mission - To Improve health and health care in Houston, Texas, and beyond.
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