a collage of pictures each with a group photo of people honored with a 2022 President's Cabinet award

UTMB President’s Cabinet announces 2022 award recipients

Eight original projects at the University of Texas Medical Branch have earned President’s Cabinet awards totaling $204,987.

The projects include the continuation of two successful initiatives at St. Vincent’s House – one to expand eye care for vision-threatening issues and one to expand preventative screening and treatment protocols for heart disease. Other projects call for building gardens at Holland House and improving hurricane preparedness for homebound seniors.

The President’s Cabinet was formed in 1993 to increase discretionary funding for emerging priorities and provide an avenue for UTMB and the community to work together in support of promising initiatives. The more than 300 members, which include faculty, staff, community members, alumni and others, have provided over $6 million in seed grants to 184 developing community programs.

To continue this kind of progress, The President’s Cabinet has opened its 2023 awards application process and will begin accepting applications on April 1.

The application is available on the President’s Cabinet's website

All proposals should be based on the theme UTMB Health – The Community and Beyond: Working Together for Our Future. The deadline for submission is 4:30 p.m., Friday, May 19, 2023.

Questions regarding the application or awards process can be directed to Marie Marczak at 747-4876 or via e-mail at mmarczak@utmb.edu.

The 2022 award recipients are:

“Saving Sight: The Expansion of Eye Care at St. Vincent's House”

Ardalan Sharifi, MD (PGY-3 Resident)
Matthew Yang, MD (PGY-3 Chief Resident)

Due to the success of two previous President's Cabinet Awards (2019 and 2021), this project will significantly expand the reach of St. Vincent's House to treat vision-threatening issues such as diabetic retinopathy, cataracts and glaucoma for Galveston's most vulnerable population. More diagnostic tools will be purchased to open more exam lanes and additional screening equipment will support the continued growth in patient volume in order to continue providing the highest standard of eye care.


“St. Vincent's Preventive Heart Failure Program: Expansion Project”

Frederick Ditmars (MS3 student)
N. Miles Farr, MD, MPH
John Sealy School of Medicine

This project builds upon a 2021 award and will implement evidence-based screening and treatment protocols for hypertension, type II diabetes melliltus, coronary artery disease and early-stage heart failure. An interprofessional team of students will identify high-risk patients and provide them with social and medical services. To complement the program, an AI-assisted bedside ultrasound machine will be purchased and used to screen for early-stage heart failure and more health maintenance equipment (glucometers, blood pressure cuffs, etc.) will be added to inventory. 


“SMART Heart Partners - Starting Early to Build Healthy Adult Hearts”


Abe DeAnda, Jr., MD, FACS, FAHA
Elizabeth Turner
Department of Surgery & SMART Family Literacy Program

The UTMB Family Medicine Department will partner with the SMART Family Literacy program and purchase 9,000 books to create a permanent curriculum library and distribute another 9,000 age-appropriate books to Galveston County children. The books will concentrate on nutrition, heart-healthy lifestyles, science, and math. In-school sessions and family literacy events will be held to distribute books, healthy snacks and conduct hands-on STEM activities. UTMB Family Medicine Faculty will serve as guest readers and second-year pediatric residents will assist to gain more experiences with children while observing their developmental stages and differences.


“Learn Together to Work Together: Saving Lives Through Interprofessional Collaborative Care”

Erin McGoff, DProf, MSc, PGCE
Health Education Center

In an effort to expand and enhance the current successful Disaster Day program, UTMB will collaborate with the Galveston College Emergency Medical Services Program.  To provide more hands-on experience for students, the Health Education Center ambulance and trauma bays will be used to include pre-hospital care services during the event.  Two trauma manikins will be purchased to provide life-like learning experiences for students as they navigate through realistic medical emergency scenarios.


“St. Vincent's Women's Wellness (WoW) Program”

Martha T. Garcia (MS3 student)

Ayeesha Mohammed (MS4 student)

Jacob Moran (MD/PhD student)

Otto Pantoja, MD

Nathan Smith (MS4 student)

Lucy Villarreal, MD

Jerome Yaklic, MD, MBA

Obstetrics and Gynecology

A recent survey of females in the St. Vincent’s community revealed a strong need for breast and cervical cancer screenings and family planning services. This award will help revitalize the St. Vincent’s Gynecology Clinic with new equipment, instruments, supplies, the creation of a robust training curriculum and revised operating procedures for women’s health screening. The goal is to increase screening rates for cervical cancer, breast cancer and intimate partner violence by 30%.


“Pulmonary Rehabilitation Clinic at St. Vincent's House”

N. Miles Farr, MD, MPH

Daneen Nastars, DHSc, RRT, RRT-ACCS
Melissa Yanes, MS, RRT-ACCS
Internal Medicine - General Medicine

A six-week pulmonary rehabilitation program for uninsured populations diagnosed with chronic lung disease and/or shortness of breath issues will be established at the St. Vincent's House. Under the direction of UTMB Respiratory Care faculty, students will work with patients to follow individualized treatment plans and measure outcomes. The program will collaborate with the American Lung Association, the American Thoracic Society Pulmonary Rehabilitation Chapter and the UTMB Pulmonary Department to ensure patients are meeting the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Pulmonary Rehabilitation guidelines. A smoking cessation component will also be part of the clinic.


“Improving Hurricane Preparedness in Galveston County Homebound Seniors”

Zach Carson, DNP, APRN

Jessica den Herder, MSN, AGNP
Tammie Michael, DNP, APRN
Jennifer Young, MSN, APRN

UTMB Geriatric House Call Program

The goal of this program is to increase the number of Galveston County home bound residents enrolled in the State of Texas Emergency Assistance Registry (STEAR) program. Hurricane preparedness boxes will be prepared and distributed by the UTMB House Call Program to 200 home bound seniors. Each box will contain STEAR registration information and other essentials like medical list needs a basic first aid kit, batteries, a radio, flashlights, water, dry goods, etc.

“Garden Beds at Holland House to Empower Residents”

Kathleen T. Nguyen (OT doctoral student)

Tuan Pham (MS1 student)
Office of Student Affairs

Construction of garden beds at Holland House in Galveston (a housing complex for low socioeconomic families, senior citizens and persons with disabilities) will empower residents to garden and help grow their own nutritious food, encourage exercise through the maintenance of the garden beds, foster community engagement and provide an aesthetically pleasing addition to the courtyard of the facility.

For more information about the President’s Cabinet, visit https://development.utmb.edu/cabinet-intro.