Nine University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston faculty and staff, a medical student, a biomedical sciences graduate student and a lieutenant in the UTMB Police Department have earned President’s Cabinet awards for unique programs that bolster the university’s patient care, educational and biomedical research missions. The awards totaled more than $177,000.

The winning programs for this year include a public vaccine education campaign, a stroke support group and a sleep apnea program for uninsured or economically disadvantaged patients that provides equipment and supplies to treat the disorder.

Annual contributions from President’s Cabinet members — $500 for junior members (age 40 and under), at least $1,000 for individuals and $5,000 for corporations, foundations and other organizations — are pooled to make the awards possible. President’s Cabinet members have contributed more than $5 million since 1993. More than 90 awards have been given to innovative community programs during the last 18 years.

The 2012 awards were given to:

Lt. Ryan Erwin
UTMB Police Department

“Response to Deadly Behavior ALERRT
(Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training)”

To prepare for active shooting incidents, this project will strengthen the training and communication between police officers with the UTMB Police Department, the Galveston Police Department, the Port of Galveston Police Department, the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office and the University of Houston-Clear Lake Police Department. Special simulation equipment will be ordered to provide more realistic training scenarios, and quarterly sessions will be held among the participating law enforcement agencies.

Carolyn Nelson-Becker, EdD, CNM
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Regional Maternal and Child Health Program

“Growing Healthy Families in Galveston through Continuing Education for Community Health Workers”

In 2011 1,308 premature babies were born at UTMB. When these infants go home, the stresses they and their families experienced in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit can have lingering effects. This program will train community health workers, who among other important tasks, will facilitate communication between the family and NICU health care faculty and staff and instruct family members on the care of fragile babies once they are able to go home. Upon completing their training, these community health workers will be integrated into UTMB’s Regional Maternal and Child Health Program and nurseries. 

Karen Chapman, PT, DPT
Department of Rehabilitation Services
Marte Hersey, MA, CCC-SLP
Center for Audiology and Speech Pathology

“UTMB Stroke Support Group”

Research estimates indicate that nearly 795,000 U.S. citizens suffer from stroke each year. Stroke is not only a leading cause of death but also the main cause of long-term disability. This project establishes the UTMB Stroke Support Group to offer stroke survivors and their caregivers encouragement and the ability to re-establish and promote independence. Participants will meet bi-monthly and learn about various topics, including stroke and its prevention, food and nutrition, depression and hurricane preparedness. Free transportation will be provided for economically-disadvantaged people.

Cara Geary, MD, PhD
Rev. Kathy Ozenberger
Eva Blight, RNC, MSN, PNP-PC, NNP-BC
Department of Pediatrics

“Perinatal Hospice at UTMB”

The Perinatal Hospice and Palliative Care Program was established two years ago to serve as a support system for parents of terminally ill infants. President’s Cabinet funds will expand this program to 14 obstetric clinics, the emergency department and the inpatient obstetric department. The central elements of this project include staff education, family counseling, community support groups and special care packages for mothers and families.

Richard Rupp, MD
Bridget Hawkins, PhD
Sealy Center for Vaccine Development

“Public Vaccine Education Campaign: Enhancing Our Community’s Understanding of the Importance of Vaccines and the Diseases They Prevent”

Anti-vaccination campaigns and misinformation about the safety and efficacy of vaccines have led to a decline in immunization rates in many states during the last five years. To increase immunization rates in Galveston County, an educational campaign will be started that features podcasts, newspaper and magazine articles, videos, a public website and a customized Facebook page. Community presentations and interactive quiz and advertisement slides will be displayed before movie previews at local cinemas to reach a larger, more diverse audience.

Rimma Osipov, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences Student
Christine Horstmeyer, School of Medicine Student
School of Medicine, School of Nursing, School of Health Professions and Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

“Students Together for Service”

Lack of coordination between student-led patient care initiatives can lead to patients not receiving follow-up treatment. This program will establish a coordinating board for UTMB student service organizations and integrate the work of St. Vincent’s Clinic, Frontera de Salud, S.I.G.H.T. and the student service associations of the schools of Medicine, Nursing, Health Professions and Graduate Biomedical Sciences. This consolidated effort will eliminate service redundancy, improve efficiency for the allocation of materials and volunteers and enrich educational opportunities for UTMB students. 

Margaret Resto, RN, MSN, ANP-C
School of Nursing

“Sleep Apnea at the St. Vincent’s Nurse-Managed Health Clinic”

Although most St. Vincent’s patients qualify for free or discounted sleep apnea evaluations, they cannot afford the equipment and supplies needed to treat the disorder. This project will identify uninsured or economically-disadvantaged patients diagnosed with sleep apnea and provide them continuous positive airway pressure machines and related supplies. Nurse managers will conduct home visits to set up and demonstrate how to operate the equipment. The patients will be monitored and evaluated regularly to measure outcomes. 

The President’s Cabinet was established 19 years ago to provide financial resources that advance the mission of UTMB, home of the state’s oldest schools of medicine, nursing and health professions. The cabinet’s more than 300 members include community and business leaders from the Houston-Galveston area, UTMB faculty and staff, and alumni from across the state and nation. Through their gifts to the university, President’s Cabinet awards provide seed money to launch initiatives designed to improve the quality of life in the community and beyond.

For more information about the President’s Cabinet or how to join, contact Marie Marczak, UTMB director of annual giving, at 409-772-5151 or, or visit the organization’s website at