2012 Issues   /   January 2012

Progress Notes

By U.S. Medicine

THE JOHN D. CHASE AWARD FOR EXECUTIVE EXCELLENCE has been awarded to Michael Finegan, network director for Veterans Integrated Service Network 11. The award was presented at the 117th Annual Meeting of the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States last month. Finegan’s career at VA includes serving as chief financial officer and VA facility director. The John D. Chase Award for Executive Excellence recognizes sustained executive leadership by an individual from any healthcare discipline who exhibits significant demonstrated accomplishments that support VA’s mission through high professional performance. The award is named after John D. Chase, who was the chief medical director of the Veterans Administration from 1974 to 1978. Finegan oversees a regional veterans’ healthcare network of eight VA medical centers and 27 outpatient clinics covering more than 90,000 square miles in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. Finegan has been employed with VA since 1990. During his VA career, he has improved financial performance by enhancing internal controls and revenue cycle, resulting in improved third-party payer collections by 15%. He also serves as national operational sponsor of the Department of Veterans Affairs initiative to eliminate veterans’ homelessness by 2015.

SIX NEW MEMBERS HAVE BEEN APPOINTED TO THE VA COMMITTEE ON WOMEN VETERANS, a panel of experts that advises VA on issues and programs affecting women veterans. Established in 1983, the advisory committee makes recommendations to the secretary for administrative and legislative changes. The new committee members, who are appointed to two-year terms, are: Sherri Brown, Alexandria, VA; Latoya Lucas, Rocky Mount, NC; Sara J. McVicker, Washington; Delphine Metcalf-Foster, Vallejo, CA; Robin Patrick, Virginia Beach, VA; and Felipe Torres, Helotes, TX. All of the new members are veterans and very active in veteran outreach and service organizations. According to VA, women veterans are one of the fastest growing segments of the veteran population. Of the 23.4 million veterans, approximately 1.8 million are women veterans. They comprise nearly 8% of the total veteran population and nearly 5% of all veterans who use VA healthcare services.

ERIC DAVIDSON, PHD, A LONG-TERM NIH GRANTEE, HAS BEEN AWARDED the International Prize for Biology from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. Davidson was recognized for his efforts in deciphering gene-regulatory networks, the intricate sequences of genetic control switches that guide the formation of the embryo. Davidson is Norman Chandler Professor of Cell Biology in the Division of Biology, California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. For the past decade, Davidson and his colleagues have been mapping these gene-regulatory networks in sea urchins. His laboratory has used the purple sea urchin as a model for embryonic development of all animals, including human beings. Purple sea urchins produce hundreds of thousands, and sometimes millions, of rapidly developing embryos, which are very easy to observe and study. Davidson’s work has helped researchers understand how genes affect the entire biology of an organism.

NANCY MUNRO, an acute-care nurse practitioner at the NIH Clinical Center, is one of 10 recipients of Washingtonian magazine’s 2011 Excellence in Nursing Award. Munro is the senior nurse practitioner in the Critical Care Medicine Department and on the Pulmonary Consult Service. She earned a bachelor’s in nursing from Villanova University, Philadelphia, and a master’s in nursing at Emory University, Atlanta. Munro got her acute-care nurse practitioner certificate in 1997 from Georgetown University, Washington, as the field was emerging. She was the first nurse practitioner on the Surgical Critical Care Service at Washington Hospital Center, then worked at Enova Alexandria Hospital before joining the NIH Clinical Center in 2004. In addition to her full-time position at the Clinical Center, Munro is a clinical instructor in the Acute Care Nursing Practitioner/Clinical Nurse Specialist Graduate Program at the University of Maryland School of Nursing in Baltimore. She has made significant contributions to the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, serving on the group’s national board of directors and chairing various workgroups that wrote standards for care delivery and identified important education topics. This year marks the first Excellence in Nursing Awards from Washingtonian.

SALLY ANN HOLMES, MD, THE SPINAL CORD INJURY CARE LINE EXECUTIVE at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston, received the Operation American Heroes Foundation Founder’s Award at a ceremony last month. The Founders Award is given annually to honor local heroes, veterans and first responders who have gone above the call of duty to serve their country and community. Holmes was born and raised in Memphis, TN. She graduated from Rhodes College in 1985 with a Bachelor of Science in Biology. She received her Doctor of Medicine from the University of Tennessee Medical School at Memphis in 1990. Holmes completed her internship in Preliminary Medicine at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis. Afterward, she was accepted by Baylor College of Medicine in Houston to complete her residency in physical medicine and rehabilitation. There, she worked at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center for several of her rotations. She now oversees medical care for more than 500 patients who are in rehabilitation from spinal-cord injuries.

THE FIRST U.S. FACILITY TO USE CELL-BASED FLU VACCINE TECHNOLOGY was dedicated last month as part of an initiative that could provide vaccine supplies sooner in an influenza pandemic. The plant in Holly Springs, NC, can create vaccine using cultured animal cells instead of the conventional process of using fertilized eggs. The facility is a public-private partnership of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics Inc. of Cambridge, MA. This partnership will be maintained under contract for at least 25 years. The dedication signals that in an influenza pandemic the facility can produce cell-based influenza vaccine that could be authorized by FDA for use during the emergency. In an influenza pandemic, the new Novartis facility may be able to produce 25% of the vaccine needed in the United States. In addition, cell-based technology used in this facility for manufacturing seasonal and pandemic influenza vaccines may be adapted to produce vaccines for other known and unknown emerging infectious diseases in an emergency.

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