Month: February 2009

Medical/Dental Student Scientific Research Day

The nineteenth annual Medical/Dental Student Scientific Research Day was held Monday, February 23. Oral and poster presentations of summer research projects were highlighted by the students. The fact that our students conduct basic science and clinical research projects help to make our Health Center a “super” academic center, and strengthens our commitment to research as an integral and vital educational component of both schools. I remember how excited I was when I presented my first project and how the experience catalyzed my research interests. As one of my mentors once told me, “To know the literature, you must be the literature.” Congratulations to all the medical and dental students who participated in this rewarding experience.

Medical student Tariq Lescouflair discusses his research findings.
Medical student Tariq Lescouflair discusses his research findings.
Dental student Vina Zinn explains the findings of her study to me.
Dental student Vina Zinn explains the findings of her study to me.

Congressman Christopher Murphy Visits the Health Center

Cato Laurencin, Christopher Murphy, and Ellen Leone
Ellen Leone and I take Christopher Murphy on a tour of the hospital.

Congressman Christopher Murphy (CT-5) visited the Health Center on Tuesday and met with several individuals to learn about health information technology projects that could be eligible for funding from the Economic Recovery Bill. As a new member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which oversees national health care policy, Murphy pushed for a $19 billion investment in health information technology. During his visit, Murphy also met with researchers and heard about several research initiatives that are critical to the Health Center’s mission and vital to the state’s economy. His visit ended with a tour of the hospital.

Congratulations to Dr. Cheryl Oncken

Cheryl Oncken, M.D., M.P.H.
Cheryl Oncken, M.D., M.P.H.

Congratulations to Dr. Cheryl Oncken, associate professor of medicine, who just received a five-year, $4 million federal grant to study whether an exercise program can help postmenopausal women quit smoking, abstain from cigarettes, and improve their overall health. The study is being done in collaboration with the University of Minnesota and will recruit about 300 postmenopausal women. The researchers will use the Health Center’s Powerful Aging exercise program. All participants will receive smoking treatment of behavioral counseling and the medication varenicline and then be randomly assigned to either a supervised exercise program or a supervised relaxation control program.

Dr. Oncken is a nationally recognized expert on smoking cessation, who received the grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Well done Dr. Oncken!

Faculty Reaching Out

I had the opportunity to attend a Discovery Series program the other night. I was really surprised by the number of people that turned out on a cold, wintry night to listen to a talk on shoulder, elbow, hand and wrist problems. My colleagues from the New England Musculoskeletal Institute did a fantastic job presenting the information in layman’s terms mixed with a bit of humor. Who knew they could be so entertaining? I believe the Discovery Series is an essential component of our mission as an academic medical center. It provides the public with timely, relevant health information and empowers individuals by providing them with the knowledge to make thoughtful health care decisions. Although I couldn’t stay for the whole program, I had another surprise before I left – they serve great cookies!

Employee Work Time Suggestion

An employee recently submitted this interesting very timely question:

In an attempt for the Health Center to save money, I was wondering if it would be possible for whoever would like to do so, to cut their hours. For instance, if someone is currently working 40 hours, would it be possible to work 32? I think this could be one way to save money and preserve some jobs. Recently, Governor Rell proposed that her state employees take a day off without pay. That may be something we could look at as well.

My reply:
I have asked our Human Resources Department to consider your suggestions and make a recommendation to me about the feasibility of an initiative that would allow employees to volunteer for an unpaid day or reduce their time.
I should note that consistent with the Governor’s request to all of the state’s managerial employees, this week I requested that our manager’s take a voluntary unpaid furlough day between now and March. I am heartened by the very positive response we have seen even in just two days. Like you, I believe there are many others in our workforce would also like to make a contribution in this way if we are able to extend this offer to them.
Thank you for your suggestion.