March 29, 2012

Checking in...

The last decade has been an outstanding one for the University of Kansas Medical Center as we saw unprecedented growth in the span and quality of our education, research and clinical programs. The latest annual rankings from U.S. News & World Report are a sign that our momentum has not slowed.

Our School of Health Professions once again made a strong showing, with four departments placing in the top 10. Occupational therapy is #2 in the country; speech-language-pathology came in at #6; audiology is #7; and physical therapy is #9. Nursing-anesthesia also placed in the top 25, at #21.

Meanwhile, the KU School of Medicine's strength in the areas of family medicine, primary care, and rural medicine continues to grow. In December, KU Chancellor Gray-Little told the Board of Regents that the university's goal for the School of Medicine is to be a top-25 school in rural medicine. I am pleased to report that we exceeded that goal in this year's rankings by tying for 12th overall in the nation. In addition, the school’s primary care ranking rose to 25th among public schools and 35th overall, while the family medicine program ranked 16th overall.

I believe the opening of our Salina campus and the expansion of our Wichita campus to a four-year program have helped bring national recognition for the outstanding job we are already doing when it comes to educating primary care, rural and family physicians.

But while U.S. News & World Report rankings are one of the most popular ways to compare a school or department to its national peers, the magazine’s rankings are just one small way in which KU Medical Center charts its progress.

When it comes to tracking research success, for example, we look very closely at how the National Institutes of Health is supporting institutions with research grants. The NIH doesn’t rank schools, but the Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research sorts through the NIH’s data and has become a solid resource for comparison rankings. According to Blue Ridge’s most recent rankings, the KU School of Medicine is 59th among 140 schools – and we have been climbing consistently over the last several years.

What I know for sure is that our improved national standing in research, education and clinical care reflects the talent of our outstanding faculty and the dedication of our students. I am confident our drive toward becoming one of the premier academic medical centers in the country will continue in the years ahead.

Student awards

KU School of Medicine second-year student Travis Gratton receives an award from Dianne Durham, Ph.D., associate professor of otolaryngology, at the 10th Annual Academic Society Medical Student Recognition Ceremony. Awards for professionalism were also presented at the March 22 event. A full list of the award recipients is here.


Congratulations to Jeffrey Burns, M.D., and Russell Swerdlow, M.D., who are among five KU faculty members who have been named winners of the University Scholarly Achievement Awards. Winners were chosen for contributions that advance the field of scholarship, exhibit novelty and originality, promote scholarly and research activity at KU and enhance the university’s national and international reputation. Drs. Burns and Swerdlow were given a joint award for bringing a nationally designated Alzheimer’s Disease Center to KU. They will be honored at a ceremony at 4:30 p.m. May 8 in the Commons at Spooner Hall in Lawrence. Read about all the award recipients here.

The Society of Toxicology awarded its highest honor, the Merit Award, to Curtis D. Klaassen, Ph.D., University Distinguished Professor of Pharmacology, Toxicology & Therapeutics, at its 2012 annual meeting earlier this month in San Francisco. The Merit Award is presented in recognition of distinguished contributions to toxicology throughout an entire career in areas of research, teaching, consulting, and service to the society.

Around campus

The KU Family Medicine department, along with A Better KCK and Community Creating Opportunities, are launching two school-based health centers in Wyandotte County. The centers, located at Wyandotte High School and Northwest Middle School, will try to address the unmet health needs of adolescents in the county. To get the word out, KUMC and its partners are holding a community forum from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday, April 5, at St. Peter CME Church (1419 N. Eighth St., Kansas City, Kan.) If you are interested in attending the forum, please RSVP to Arden Day at

The School of Medicine has published its 2011 annual report. The theme of this year's report is A Defining Year. You can download the report here.

Don’t forget to stop by Battenfeld Auditorium on April 10-13, when KUMC is live-streaming the annual TEDMED conference. TEDMED is a gathering of 1,300 thinkers and doers from 300 medical and nonmedical disciplines at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. Visit the TEDMED website for a list of speakers (note that the schedule is Eastern Standard Time). Also, starting April 3, you can download an app from the Apple Store and Android Market to interact from the audience at Battenfeld. Learn more here.

A new voice-mail system is scheduled to launch April 16 on about 6,000 phone lines throughout the main and Westwood campuses and 18 satellite locations. CallXpress features Web PhoneManager, which lets you access voice-mail messages through your work or home computer. It can also send a text to your cell phone. Over the next three weeks, all existing voice-mail boxes will be moved to the new system. From April 2-13, employees will need to complete a quick tutorial on their phones to set up new voice-mail boxes. Find more information about the system and optional training sessions here.

In the news

The Kansas City Business Journal last week published its annual list of the region's Best Doctors. Among them is Sharon Lynch, M.D., a neurologist at the Landon Center on Aging. The paper included an interview with Dr. Lynch, which can be read here.

The Wichita Business Journal devoted two stories to Match Day at the KU School of Medicine-Wichita. The most recent story, which includes links to the previous coverage, is posted here.
See photos from Match Day at KUMC here.