October 2015 Newsletter

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October 2015
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department interview
Usha Stiefel, MD, Section Chief of Infectious Diseases and HIV Medicine at the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center and Vice Chair for Diversity and Faculty Development, discusses how her work with the Women Faculty School of Medicine will help her further diversity and faculty development in the Department of Medicine, shares useful approaches for establishing work/life balance and key resources essential to develop for the growth of faculty and trainees.
You have been a member of the Women Faculty School of Medicine (WFSOM) organization for many years. How did you first develop interest in the group?

I have had a long-standing interest in women's issues. I actually did an honor's thesis in feminist fiction when I was an undergraduate student. I then turned to medicine and most of my life was subsumed in clinical training. In 2008, soon after I took on the role of the Infectious Diseases Section Chief at the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center, a former President of the Women Faculty School of Medicine (WFSOM) reached out to me and invited to join their Steering Committee. The organization first started many years ago, when women faculty in the School of Medicine were few and greatly underrepresented, so at the time, the concerns of the membership were quite different. We did a lot of work between 2008 and now to bring the organization up to date, and make it relevant and reflective of the concerns that women faculty share today. We rewrote our bylaws to encompass our present-day tripartite mission of professional advocacy, networking and professional development for women faculty. I became very involved in the organization and ran for Vice President and took on the role in 2010-2012, and subsequently became President from 2012-2014. I have also been a member of the University's Faculty Senate Committee on Women for several years.

How have the needs of female faculty changed over the past couple of years?

In previous generations there were issues of frank gender bias and harassment. Now our concerns are career enhancement and development, effective mentorship and sponsorship. We are also focused on increasing the representation of female faculty in leadership positions.

What are some of the key resources that we need to develop to help females advance in the field of medicine?

I believe networking and mentorship are very intertwined. For example, one of the key things that the WFSOM does in addition to the organization's formalized program is that it connects women faculty with each other so that they have a broad network of peer mentors. This rich network includes professionals who can teach and share skills on negotiating, resolving conflict or action planning. The old mentoring model of one mentor and one mentee is not efficacious these days; we all need a strong network of mentors with a diverse and distinctive set of skills that offer help and guidance in multiple areas.

I also believe that women faculty and minority faculty want to see mentors they can associate with. At the Department of Medicine, we want to create an atmosphere where we lead by example. Interestingly, in both medicine and science, faculty begin as instructors or assistant professors and by the time they advance to full professorship, the percentage of women and minority faculty has gone down. Though people may be leaving for many complicated reasons, one of them might be that they are not seeing people in leadership roles they can identify with, so they early on unconsciously may start believing that this career track is not suitable for them. We need to do more education about the ways to get promoted and tenured, about leadership development, and we need to increase our ranks of senior women and minority faculty. If we can do this, the glass ceiling can break.

What are some of the initiatives you will be concentrating on first as the Vice Chair for Diversity and Faculty Development?

First of all, I am very excited that Dr. Salata has created this position. It is wonderful to see that the departmental leadership is so invested and involved in recognizing the importance of these issues. Though some of the details of the position are still being worked out, I look at it as predominantly a faculty service position.

My first priority will be to become an official and conscious advocate for faculty and for diversity in the Department of Medicine. For me this means serving in official roles in search committees and highlighting the issues of diversity and faculty for high leadership positions and outside recruitments. Over the years I have been able to develop a network of national contacts of women leaders at other institutions through my work with the Women Faculty School of Medicine. I believe these contacts can be used to increase the awareness of open positions at the institution and further improve the quality of our recruitment pool.

My second priority is to address faculty development. Though initially we will focus on women faculty and minority faculty, programs and resources will be applicable to all faculty members and I hope they will take advantage of them. One of the problems that we are faced with as medicine grows and becomes more specialized, everybody goes off into their own corner. I have found that many people are not aware of the tremendous resources we have on campus for career development, including the Flora Stone Mather Center for Women, the Women Faculty School of Medicine, the Women's Professional Staff Association at the Cleveland Clinic, and Office of Faculty Development and Diversity at the School of Medicine. Part of my job will be to centralize access to these resources and ensure our faculty members are aware of them.

In addition, as we find needs that are particular to our department, we will create special programs to address them. Dr. Salata is very invested in mentorship, and we have a lot of great ideas for programs that will be put in place shortly, including partnering junior faculty with senior faculty professional mentors, and implementing a speed mentoring program for junior faculty this coming spring. Overall, we want to concentrate on programs in leadership, mentorship, promotion and development as well as work and life balance.

How do we address professional development not only at a faculty level but also at the level of fellows and residents?

I feel like our residents have been left out of the professional development programming lately. This is our next generation of physicians and it is important to engage them in our programs. We have been speaking with our Chief Residents to identify and address the needs of the house staff. From the resident perspective, there seems to be a strong interest in issues connected to balancing personal life and professional career, which I think is very important for keeping our trainees motivated and dedicated to the field of medicine. Burnout is not infrequent among physicians, and we want to give people strategies to prevent this from happening. Right now this is an ongoing dialogue; as new interests and needs come up from our fellows and residents, we will offer more programs on mentorship and possibly leadership development.

In your opinion, how do you achieve the work/life balance? What are some of the approaches that were beneficial to you?

It is truly a very difficult concept. I have heard people say that there is no such thing as work/life balance, and in some ways I believe this. It is more important for everyone to find a place that makes them happy and we have to understand that it's never going to be quite perfect; there will be some days that will be worse than others. At one point, you have to let go of the idea of being perfect at every single thing. For women faculty in particular, I think there is definitely a "superwoman" syndrome, where you feel like you have to be good at every single thing that is a part of your life. That is not possible, nor is it even true. There are a lot of tasks, for example, that we can outsource now. No one will know if you clean your own house or if you hire a professional cleaner, so that you can spend a few extra hours with your children, or working on that grant you need to submit. I believe that by focusing on the things that make you happy you find your balance; an understanding partner and supportive colleagues can help you get to that happy balancing point much faster. I will say that during my time at the VA, I have received wonderful mentorship from my scientific advisor, Curtis Donskey, MD, and as a supervisor, Robert Bonomo, MD, has always been encouraging of faculty to develop and grow professionally, while at the same time being very understanding and supportive with regard to our family obligations. I think it is essential for faculty to seek out opportunities and create relationships that let them benefit from such leadership. However, if some faculty members are not as fortunate, it is particularly important for them to develop the skills to be able to negotiate for the resources they need in order to succeed and be happy.
department highlight
Richard Walsh, MD, has stepped down as Chair of the Department of Medicine after nearly 17 years of leadership. Below Dr. Walsh highlights some of the activities that he enjoyed being a part of during his time as Chairman of the department.
Dear Colleagues,

As you know, I have stepped down as Chairman of the Department of Medicine on July 1, 2015, after nearly 17 years at the helm. It has been a privilege and a pleasure to serve in this capacity. Despite the tectonic changes that have occurred in health care and the funding of biomedical research, this department has never been stronger by any measure. I am proud of the steadfast commitment to excellence in patient care, research and teaching exhibited by our faculty, staff and trainees.

Many of you have asked what (if anything!) is enjoyable about this leadership role. First, is the opportunity to work with departmental, hospital and School of Medicine leadership to develop, monetize and operationalize strategic initiatives in each of our missions. Second, is the ability to recruit outstanding leaders for our divisions, centers and institutes. Third, is the capacity to help mentor at multiple levels. Finally, I have enjoyed immensely the opportunity to teach our medical students and house staff.

The Department of Medicine is poised for continued positive growth and evolution given the foundation we have collectively worked hard to build.
department news report
Division of Cardiovascular Medicine

Mukesh Jain, MD, discovered that Kruppel-like Factor 15 (KLF15) is responsible for keeping the body in metabolic balance. Dr. Jain's work appeared in the journal of Nature Communications and promises to provide insight into the mechanisms human body metabolizes different medications.
Dr. Jain's team also identified KLF4 as the major regulator of mitochondria health and has been published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. Xudong Liao, PhD, determined that KLF4 governs mitochondrial biogenesis, dynamics and autophagic clearance. It is important to note that mitochondrial dysfunction contributes to numerous diseases, including heart failure.
In addition, Dr. Jain presented an insightful presidential address at 2015 American Society for Clinical Investigation. Dr. Jain views stating the mission of the organization, supporting physician-scientists' scientific and educational needs, and advancing their clinical aspirations as the key strategies to further the work of the organization. Dr. Jain's presidential address was published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.


Division of General Internal Medicine
Rajesh Chandra, MD, became the Vice Chair for Clinical Affairs and Transformation in the Department of Medicine.





Mimi Singh, MD, received the Society of General Internal Medicine Midwest award for excellence in clinician education.






Division of Geriatrics & Palliative Care
Gowrishankar Gnanasekaran, MD, MPH, published an article on early evening disruptive behavior among older patients entitled "Sundowning as Biological Phenomenon: Current Understandings and Future Directions - An Update" in the Journal of Aging Clinical and Experimental Research.




A study led by Stefan Gravenstein, MD, showing that a high-dose flu vaccine reduces the risk of all-cause hospital admission among nursing home residents during the flu season, has been publicized by the Today Show and NBC News. The study has been gathering growing attention after MedPage Today, Examiner.com, and Medical Daily published original articles surrounding the research.






Division of Hematology & Oncology
Matthew Cooney, MD, published an article entitled "Chemohormonal Therapy in Metastatic Hormone-Sensitive Prostate Cancer" in the New England Journal of Medicine. Dr. Cooney's work suggests that many men with metastatic prostate cancer could benefit from receiving chemotherapy with androgen-deprivation therapy as first line treatment.



Marcos de Lima, MD, became the inaugural recipient of the Don C. Dangler Endowed Director in Stem Cell Transplant.






Stanford Markowitz, MD, and his team published a study in Science Journal, detailing a new drug that repairs damage to the colon, liver and bone marrow in animal models.The developed drug acts like a vitamin for tissue stem cells, stimulating a quicker tissues repair, while healing tissue damage. The potential for the new drug could be immense as it may have applications for treating numerous diseases.





Division of Infectious Diseases & HIV Medicine

Robin Jump, MD, helped a 160-bed VA long-term care facility reduce the use of antibiotics by 30 percent over 18 months by coaching staff to evaluate patients more carefully for urinary tract infections. Diminishing antibiotic misuse and overuse in nursing homes has become a hot topic as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently found that up to 75 percent of antibiotic prescriptions in nursing homes are given incorrectly.

Robert Salata, MD, was appointed the inaugural Master Clinician in Infectious Diseases.
Dr. Salata also became the Chairman of Pharmaco-Kinesis Corporation's Infectious Diseases Clinical Advisory Board. Dr. Salata will lead a world-renowned team of infectious disease thought leaders that will provide clinical guidance and insight into pathogen detection by the carbon nanotube biosensor.
Division of Nephrology & Hypertension
Jackson Wright, MD, PhD, concluded his work on Systolic Blood Pressure Interventions Trial (SPRINT) early. Dr. Wright found that setting a lower blood pressure target for patients over 50 with at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease, will result in fewer cardiovascular complications. By implementing lower blood pressure guidelines, patients would benefit from lowered risk of stroke, heart failure, heart attack or death from heart disease. Dr. Wright's findings showing that lowering systolic blood pressure below 120 leads to better health outcomes may spur new treatment guidelines.

Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care & Sleep Medicine

The Intensive Care Unit at the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center was awarded a Beacon Award for Excellence by the American Association of Critical Care Nurses. This national award is presented to units that distinguish themselves by improving every facet of patient care and exemplifies exceptional care through improved outcomes and high patient satisfaction scores.

Division of Rheumatology

Charles Malemud, PhD,
was named the Founding Editor and Editor-in-Chief of Global Vaccines and Immunology.

department conferences &events

Grand Rounds

Time: 12:00 - 1:00 p.m.

Location: Kulas Auditorium


November 3

"Delirium: Dilemmas, Biology and Therapeutics" by Gowrishankar Gnanasekaran, MD


November 10

"Variability of Biological Signals and What This Tells Us About Health and Disease" by Frank Jacono, MD


November 17

"What Is New in Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis" by Jihane Faress, MD





Department of Medicine Clinical Retreat
Date: Saturday, November 7
Time: 8:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Location: Wolstein Research Building
Topics: The Accountable Care Organization; Shared Team Responsibilities; Models of Chronic Disease Management; Telemedicine; Patient Engagement; Transitions of Care; EMR; ICD-10; Future Measurable Outcomes and Quality Metrics; Referral Practices.
Click here for a full schedule of the event



AGRE Society
Date: Wednesday, November 4
Time: 5:30 - 6:00 p.m.
Location: Carpenter Room, Lakeside, 3rd Floor
Speaker: Clifford Harding, MD

Development and Diversity Events
Latina Inc Fall Symposium: Latinas in Executive Roles
Date: Thursday, October 29
Time: 5:30 p.m.
Location: FSM Center for Women, Tinkham Veale University Center, Suite 248
Speakers: Wanda Cruz-Knight, Family Medicine; Marla Perez-Davis, MD, Deputy Director, NASA-Glenn Research Center; Suzanne Rivera, MD, Vice President of Research, Case Western Reserve University

Learning to Lead: Strategies for Women Surgeons
Date: Tuesday, November 3
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Location: Cleveland Clinic Administrative Campus BLDG 4, 4th Floor, 3050 Science Park Drive, Beachwood, OH 44122
Speaker: Scott Allen, PhD, Associate Professor of Management, John Carroll University

Faculty Happy Hour
Date: Thursday, November 5
Time: 6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
Location: TBD, will be provided on RSVP

Diversity in the Physical Sciences: A Personal Journey
Date: Monday, November 9
Time: 3:00 - 4:00 p.m.
Location: Tinkham Veale University Center, Senior Classroom
Speaker: Carlos Crespo-Hernandez, PhD, Associate Professor of Chemistry, Director, Center for Chemical Dynamics

Work, Family and the Academic Profession: Leaning In? Backing Out?
Date: Thursday, November 12
Time: 12:00 - 1:30 p.m.
Location: FSM Center for Women, Tinkham Veale University Center, Suite 248
Speaker: Kelly Ward, MD, Professor and Chair, Department of Educational Leadership, Washington State University

Improving Supervision Skills
Date: Tuesday, November 17
Time: 12:00 - 1:00 p.m.
Location: BRB 105 Auditorium
Speakers: Sana Lou, PhD, JD, Vice Dean for Faculty Development and Diversity; faculty panel

LGBTQ Research Group
Date: Tuesday, November 17
Time: 12:00 - 1:30 p.m.
Speakers: Guest speakers coordinated by Amanda Schaffer, MA, ACC, GPCC, Director, Office of Faculty Development

How to Publish Your Teaching Innovations
Date: Tuesday, November 17
Time: 4:00 - 5:30 p.m.
Location: SOM Room E429B

Date: Wednesday, November 18
Time: 5:00 - 7:00 p.m.
Location: WRB 1403
Speakers: Elaine Schulte, MD, Professor and Chair, Department of Pediatrics, Cleveland Clinic; Andrea Sikon, MD, Associate Professor, CCLCM
Among the nation's leading academic medical centers, University Hospitals Case Medical Center is the primary affiliate of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, a nationally recognized leader in medical research and education.