UTMB employees Sarah Burnett, Brenda Lundy and Betty Shipp received President’s Way to Go Awards at the July Town Hall meeting. Burnett, a medical lab specialist with Blood Bank Transfusion Operations, was recognized for a “long list” of accomplishments, including initiating several innovative projects to improve patient care and ensure blood products are used safely and efficiently, and for her volunteer work in the community. Lundy, a clerk with Clinics Administration and Support, was recognized for always going the extra mile to make sure patients receive special assistance, and for her brave actions during the John Sealy Hospital fire in January. Shipp, a nurse and care manager with UTMB’s Community Health Network, was recognized for making a difference in the lives of many patients. Speaking about Shipp, Dr. David Callender said, “I’ve heard several stories about patients who had been to the ER multiple times and had incredible social barriers that nobody else could help them overcome, but in every case, you did that and you helped them improve their social status, their health and their lives. Thank you for your brilliant work.”
UTMB’s media relations team won two regional awards for their efforts in educating and explaining the Zika virus to the public. The team was awarded first place in the “Crisis Communications” category at the Houston American Marketing Association’s Crystal Awards and at the Houston Public Relations Society of America Excalibur Awards. When the Zika crisis began, UTMB scientists were some of the few well-respected researchers who had actually worked on the virus. The media relations team made the news media aware of the the UTMB faculty's expertise on Zika.
Dr. Joseph Penn, director of Mental Health Services with UTMB Correctional Managed Care, co-authored the book chapter, “Correctional Psychiatry,” in Kaplan and Sadock’s Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry, 10th Edition. This was the 50th anniversary edition— and is the cornerstone text in psychiatry. Penn is board-certified in general, child and adolescent, and forensic psychiatry. He is a clinical professor in the UTMB Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and has served as a consultant regarding correctional and non-correctional mental health care delivery and standards of care.
Dr. Tian Wang, associate professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, was awarded $2.9 million from the National Institutes of Health to further develop a vaccine against chikungunya, a mosquito- borne virus which was recently ranked the No. 2 priority for global vaccine needs. Along with UTMB’s Dr. Scott Weaver, and other researchers, Wang recently helped develop the first vaccine for chikungunya fever made from an insect-specific virus that doesn’t have any effect on people, making the vaccine safe and effective. The findings are detailed in Nature Medicine.
Dr. Thomas Geisbert, professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, was awarded $6 million from the National Institutes of Health to develop a potential medical therapy to be used in the fight against Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus, a tick-borne disease that is often fatal. Focused on emerging viruses—with a particular emphasis on viruses causing hemorrhagic fever including Ebola virus, Marburg virus and Lassa virus—Geisbert has nearly three decades of experience working in Biosafety Level-4 containment.
The University of Texas System Board of Regents recognized five UTMB faculty members with the system’s top teaching prize, the 2017 Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award: Dr. S. Lynn Knox, professor, vice chair for education and residency program director, Anesthesiology; Dr. Ronald S. Levy, professor, Anesthesiology; Dr. Anita Mercado, associate professor, Internal Medicine, Dr. Joan Nichols, professor, Internal Medicine and Microbiology and Immunology, and associate director of research and operations at the Galveston National Laboratory; and Dr. Mary O’Keefe, professor, School of Nursing. This award is given annually in recognition of faculty members who have demonstrated extraordinary classroom performance and innovation in undergraduate instruction.
Eleven Frontera de Salud student members and faculty advisor Dr. Norma A. Pérez recently returned from their second mission trip to Presidio County in West Texas, a rural area that lies in the Chihuahuan desert and is adjacent to Mexico. Working with the area hospital district and the Presidio-Brewster County Indigent Healthcare Program, the students helped organize a health fair that included blood pressure, diabetes and BMI screenings, as well as information about immunizations and the Zika virus. Students also hosted a nutrition and healthy eating booth with a live demonstration on making a cactus salad. The arid region makes growing fruits and vegetables difficult, so the students built five hydroponic gardens that will grow broccoli, cabbage and spinach. These gardens are being adopted as a model by the Texas Department of State Health Services-Family and Community Health Services Program.