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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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progress James G. Smirniotopoul os 1.jpgJames G. Smirniotopoulos, MD, recently was honored as “Outstanding Educator” by the Radiological Society of North America (USUHS). Smirniotopoulos is a neuroradiology expert and a pioneer in electronic and online radiologic education. He is professor, chair and director or co-director of various courses at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. While at USUHS, Smirniotopoulos co-developed MedPix — a web-based teaching file application that allowed cases to be shared with military physicians all over the world. He was awarded a patent in 2006 for MedPix, which receives more than six million hits per month. He also is creator of the Washington Neuroradiology Review Course, designed for radiologists, neurologists, neurosurgeons and pathologists. Smirniotopoulos also is editor of the American College of Radiology Learning File, developed under a grant from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to standardize radiologic education nationwide.

Cmdr. Calliope E. Allen, a Naval Medical Center San Diego (NMCSD) ophthalmologist who was deployed as an Individual Augmentee to Afghanistan as of last month, won the 2012 Building Stronger Female Physician Leaders in the Military Health System Award, Junior Navy category. The award will be presented during the annual MHS Conference from Jan. 30 through Feb. 2. According to NMCSD, Allen is the sole NATO Role 3 Ophthalmologist and Oculoplastic Surgeon in southern Afghanistan. She deployed in June of 2011 and performed more than 240 surgical cases in her first two months at Kandahar, Afghanistan, and performed life-changing reconstructive surgeries to war-wounded patients daily.

On Dec. 2, Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta announced the nomination of Army Col. Jimmie O. Keenan for appointment to the rank of major general and for assignment as chief of the Army Nurse Corps. At the time of the nomination, Keenan was serving as commander, U.S. Army Medical Activity, Fort Carson, CO. According to her bio, Keenan entered the Army as a Nurse Corps Officer in July 1986. She was commissioned from Henderson State University, Arkadelphia, AR, with a Baccalaureate of Nursing. She also holds a Master of Science in Nursing Administration from the Medical College of Georgia and a masters degree in Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College. Her military education includes the Army Medical Department Officer Basic and Advance Courses, the U. S. Army Command and General Staff College and the U.S. Army War College.

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DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS ASSISTANT SECRETARY Tammy Duckworth returned last month to Walter Reed Army Medical Center, a key site in her long recovery from wounds suffered in Iraq, to take the oath of office as the chief spokesperson for VA. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki presided over the swearing in ceremony as Duckworth, a major in the Illinois National Guard, became VA’s assistant secretary for public and intergovernmental affairs. As assistant secretary, Duckworth will direct VA’s public affairs programs and its intergovernmental efforts. She will also oversee programs for homeless Veterans and consumer affairs. Duckworth was an Army helicopter pilot who flew combat missions in Iraq in 2004. She suffered grave injuries when her helicopter was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade, and she lost both legs and partial use of one arm. She spent 13 months at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

EIGHT YOUNG PERFORMERS living with mental health challenges from across the country joined Academy Award winner Goldie Hawn last month for a celebration of resilience. The event was part of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s “HEAR ME NOW: A Celebration of Resiliency through the Performing Arts” commemoration of National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day, which took place at the Harman Center for the Arts in Washington, DC. Hawn received the SAMHSA Special Recognition Award for her work to increase public understanding of the role mental health plays in the total well-being of children and youth through her non-profit foundation, The Hawn Foundation. SAMHSA presented the award at the national Awareness Day event that was co-hosted by “Twilight’s” Solomon Trimble and Sabrina Bryan of Disney’s “The Cheetah Girls.” National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day is SAMHSA’s annual demonstration of collaboration among numerous and diverse individuals, organizations, and agencies in the public and private sector working to provide greater access to community-based mental health services for children and youth with serious mental-health needs and their families.

HHS SECRETARY KATHLEEN SEBELIUS last month welcomed Deputy Secretary Bill Corr and Indian Health Service Director Yvette Roubideaux, MD, to the Department of Health and Human Services. Corr and Roubideaux were confirmed unanimously by the Senate on May

6. Bill Corr most recently served as executive director of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. Previously, Corr served for 12 years as counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Health and the Environment. Additionally, Corr served as Chief of Staff for the Department of Health and Human Services. Corr is a graduate of the University of Virginia and the Vanderbilt University School of Law. Dr. Yvette Roubideaux served most recently as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Family & Community Medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. She has conducted extensive research on American Indian health issues, with a focus on diabetes in American Indians/Alaska Natives and Indian health policy. Roubideaux previously worked in the Indian Health Service as a medical officer and clinical director on the San Carlos Indian Reservation and in the Gila River Indian Community.

THE LONGEST U.S. STUDY OF PEOPLE WITH HIV/AIDS was honored at a 25th anniversary commemoration on May 12 at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, DC. The Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS) has significantly contributed to the scientifi c understanding of HIV, AIDS, and the effects of antiretroviral therapy through more than 1,000 publications, many of which have guided public health policy and the clinical care of people with HIV. MACS investigators prospectively study the natural and treated history of HIV infection in thousands of homosexual and bisexual men at sites in Baltimore, Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Los Angeles. A key characteristic of the MACS is its 25 years of behavioral and biological data and specimens from men who have sex with men, before and after they became infected with HIV, before and after they were diagnosed with AIDS, and before and after they began highly active antiretroviral therapy—along with data from a control group of same-aged, HIV-free men who have sex with men. Comparing these before-and-after specimens and data from HIV-infected and uninfected individuals has yielded numerous seminal discoveries.

THE NIH ADVISORY COMMITTEE on Research on Women’s Health of the Office of Research on Women’s Health announced the appointment of five new members last month: Margery L.S. Gass, MD, Paula Adina Johnson, MD, Jeanne Craig Sinkford, DDS, Farida Sohrabji, PhD, and Gary E. Striker, MD. The committee advises the ORWH on appropriate research activities to be undertaken by the national research institutes with respect to research on women’s health, research on sex/gender differences in clinical trials, and research on women’s health conditions that requires an interdisciplinary approach. The committee members are actively involved in reviewing NIH women’s health research priorities, the women’s health research portfolio for NIH, career development, and the inclusion of women and minorities in clinical research. The committee is composed of up to 18 members who are appointed by the NIH director.

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THE DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS HAS LAUNCHED its new “Returning Veterans” Web site—www.oefoif.va.gov—to welcome home veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts with a social, veteran-centric Web site focusing on their needs and questions. The Web site will feature videos, veteran stories and a blog where veterans are encouraged to post feedback. The site also will restructure the traditional index-of-benefits format found on other VA pages into question-based, categorized and easily navigated links by topic. This will allow veterans to easily find benefits of interest and discover related benefits as they explore.

THE NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH ANNOUNCED the selection of three individuals to serve as members of the Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD). Since 1966, the ACD has advised the NIH Director on policy and planning issues important to the NIH mission of conducting and supporting biomedical and behavioral research, research training and translating research results for the public. The new members of the council are Maria Freire, Ph.D., of New York, New York; Beatriz Luna, Ph.D., of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and James Thrall, M.D., of Boston, Massachusetts. Dr. Freire is the president of the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation with a background in biophysics, immunology and virology. Dr. Luna is associate professor of psychiatry and psychology at the University of Pittsburgh. She is also the founder and director of the Laboratory for Neurocognitive Development. Dr. Thrall is the Juan Taveras Professor of Radiology at Harvard Medical School and radiologist-in-chief of the Massachusetts General Hospital. He is internationally known for his work in nuclear medicine and for his development of research programs in radiology.

THE UNIVERSITY OF CINCINATTI WILL BECOME the 39th member of NIH’s Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) consortium. Led by the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), this national network of medical research institutions is working together to accelerate the process of turning laboratory discoveries into treatments for patients, to engage communities in clinical research efforts and to train the next generation of clinical and translational researchers. The consortium was launched in 2006, with new members added in 2007 and 2008. Approximately 60 CTSAs will be connected when the program is fully implemented in 2012. In this latest award, the University of Cincinnati will receive $22.7 million over five years. The new Center for Clinical and Translational Science and Training will expand its support for pediatric research through the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center; enhance new translational technologies, including large-scale studies of proteins (proteomics), drug discovery, imaging, nanomedicine, gene transfer and stem cell biology. The center also will increase outreach into the local community, including collaborations with the Cincinnati Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

W. SCOTT GOULD, A RETIRED NAVY RESERVIST and senior executive took the oath of office as the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs last month. As the number-two executive in the VA, Gould will oversee VA’s day-to-day operation. Gould recently served as vice president for public-sector strategy at IBM Global Business Services, where he also founded and led IBM’s Global Leadership Initiative. Prior to IBM, he was chief executive officer of The O’Gara Company, a strategic advisory and investment services firm, and chief operating officer of Evolve, a technology services company. Gould’s previous service in the federal government includes positions as the chief financial officer and assistant secretary for administration at the Commerce Department and, later, as deputy assistant secretary for finance and management at the Treasury Department. As a White House Fellow, he worked at the Export-Import Bank of the United States and in the Office of the White House Chief of Staff. A fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration, Gould is a former member of the National Security Agency’s Technical Advisory Group and the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award Board of Overseers. He has been awarded the Department of Commerce Medal, the Treasury Medal and the Navy Meritorious Service Medal.

TO PROVIDE TRAINED NURSES to serve the healthcare needs of the nation’s veterans, the Department of Veterans Affairs is establishing new partnerships with five of the country’s top nursing schools. With these new partnerships, the VA Nursing Academy will expand the number of collaborations between the department and nursing schools from 10 to 15. The VA Nursing Academy is a virtual five-year pilot program with central administration in Washington. The five-year, $59 million program began in 2007. Five nursing schools will form new partnerships with five VA medical centers and join the VA Nursing Academy this year. They are: Western Carolina University, Asheville, N.C.; University of Alabama, Birmingham, Ala.; University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu; Pace University, Manhattan and Brooklyn, N.Y.; and Waynesburg University, Pittsburgh.

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