May 6, 2016

It’s been another busy week as the spring semester winds down and the campus prepares for commencement and the summer break. The Faculty Academic Council (FAC) met this past Monday. The FAC is an important part of the School’s mechanism for shared governance. It is composed of faculty members and is responsible for formulating the School’s policy regarding academic issues. The big topic of discussion at the most recent meeting related to redefining the membership of the FAC. This discussion was occasioned by a recent change in the number of departments (and thus the representation on the FAC) in the School. As you may recall, we consolidated four basic science departments into one (a net decrease of three) and reformatted three health sciences divisions into departments (a net increase of three). So there was much discussion as to the most appropriate representation of various types of faculty members on the FAC. The bottom line is that two proposed membership formats soon will be available for comment before the FAC proposes a new membership formula to all of the members of the faculty for a final vote. We anticipate that all of this will occur over the next few months. So please give your feedback to the FAC, and be sure to vote.

On Tuesday, I was joined by President Schafer and Provost DiLorenzo in announcing that Brij Singh has been selected as a UND Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor. Brij’s research focuses on cell signaling, particularly the role that calcium plays in this process. His work has ramifications across biomedical research, particularly in the area of oral health, cancer, and neurodegeneration. For over 15 years, the National Institutes of Health has funded Brij’s research through Research Project (R01) Grants, which are the highest level of research supported by the NIH. This high honor is bestowed by UND on only its most esteemed faculty members who demonstrate high achievement in research, teaching, and service, and are recognized by UND colleagues as faculty members who have made valuable contributions to the quality of UND’s academic programs. Brij certainly fulfills these qualifications to the max!

Starting Wednesday night and continuing through today, the UND Alumni Association and Foundation spring meeting has been taking place. Both President Schafer and incoming President Mark Kennedy were in attendance. One of the topics of discussion was about student debt, and what more the UNDAAF could do to help with the debt load (it already does a lot!). In my March 11 E-News column, I highlighted the annual update the School gets from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) that compares the SMHS’s costs and student debt load with all the other medical schools in the country. And since the School designated that mitigation of student debt was its primary philanthropic focus several years ago, the debt situation of UND medical students has continued to brighten. Over the last five years, we’ve been able to reduce student debt more than almost any other medical school in the country—our students have benefited from a nearly 3 percent annual decrease in debt compared with an average annual increase of over 2 percent elsewhere, for a difference of 5 percent per year.

In addition to increasing scholarships to reduce student debt, we’ve also worked to keep our costs down. Compared with all other medical schools, the cost for a medical student to attend the SMHS is lower than that at about 85 percent of the other schools. In fact, we’ve been able to slightly decrease the cost to attend our school over the past five years, compared with a nearly 3 percent annual increase at other public medical schools. Good news indeed!

On Thursday, we hosted our final Dean’s Hour talk for the 2015–2016 academic year. We were honored to welcome Dr. David Blumenthal. He is perhaps the preeminent expert on the use of the electronic health (medical) record, something that affects all of us, whether provider or patient. He is best known as the first national coordinator for health information technology in the period from 2009 to 2011. Following this “inside the Beltway” experience, he has been the president of the Commonwealth Fund since 2012. If you couldn’t attend his talk, it is available here. And just a reminder again of last week’s message—I’d very much welcome more suggestions for desirable Dean’s Hour speakers for the 2016–2017 academic year starting in September. Please send your suggestions and thoughts here.

Finally, as the semester winds down, we are busy preparing for Commencement 2016 to be held next weekend. It’s a time of great excitement as our soon-to-be graduates say goodbye to friends and colleagues, and embark on the next phases of their lives. Best wishes to all!

Joshua Wynne, MD, MBA, MPH
UND Vice President for Health Affairs
Dean UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences


Recent Educational Policies to Review

Cultural Diversity Tuition Waiver

View all of the School's Policies and Procedures.

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Zen in 10 on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the SMHS

Zen in 10 focuses on stretching, breathing, and having fun with coworkers. Go back to work with less stress, more energy, and better body functioning. Services provided by Kay Williams, Certified Yoga and Relax and Renew Instructor®. Sponsored by UND Work Well.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, through June 9, from 11:00 a.m. to 11:10 a.m., Zen in 10 will take place outside on the east lawn or, if the weather is inclement, in the east lobby of the SMHS in Grand Forks.

Other Zen-in-10 locations are available here.

Staff Recognition Luncheon is May 10

Please mark your calendars to attend the 2016 Annual Staff Recognition Ceremony and Luncheon on Tuesday, May 10, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the UND Memorial Union Ballroom. UND staff employees with continuous, benefited employment at UND will be recognized for their years of service. Also to be recognized will be this year's selections for Meritorious Service, and Ken and Toby Baker UND Proud awards.

Tickets may be purchased at the UND Human Resources Office, Twamley Hall Room 313. The cost is $5 per person. Cash or checks are accepted.

To view the School's honorees, please read more.

Jean Altepeter
Associate Director-Human Resources


Sophomore Awards Program is May 11

First- and second-year medical students, faculty, and staff are invited to attend the 2016 Sophomore Awards lunch and presentation of awards. The event will take place at noon on Wednesday, May 11, in the UND Memorial Union–South Ballroom.

Celebrate SMHS Commencement on May 15

Please join us for the 2016 SMHS Commncement activities scheduled for Sunday, May 15, in Grand Forks.

Keynote speaker will be Patrick Carr, PhD. He is the director of Education Resources, assistant dean for Faculty Development, and an associate professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences at the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences. The title of Carr's presentation is "Everything You Need to Know You Learned in Anatomy."

The schedule is as follows:

  • 10:30 a.m.—Awards brunch: Alerus Center (1200 S. 42nd Street, Grand Forks). Tickets are $15 each, must be purchased in advance, and can be obtained through the Office of the Dean by calling (701) 777-2514 or by sending a request and check (no cash can be accepted) to the following address:

Office of the Dean
UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences
501 North Columbia Road, Stop 9037
Grand Forks, ND  58202-9037

Please Note:  Make checks payable to "UND Alumni Association & Foundation"

  • 2:30 p.m.—Commencement Ceremony:  Chester Fritz Auditorium, 3475 University Avenue, Grand Forks.

Online registration deadline is May 10 for Dakota Conference

The online registration deadline is May 10 for the Dakota Conference (on-site registration available May 15–18).
The Dakota Conference on Rural and Public Health provides an opportunity for over 300 healthcare professionals, educators, and students to share strategies for building and sustaining healthy communities in North Dakota. It includes pre-conference workshops, keynote speakers, breakout sessions, poster presentations, evening workshops, and an awards banquet. The 2016 conference will be held May 16–18 at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks.

The Dakota Conference is coordinated and facilitated by the Center for Rural Health at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences and is supported by the following organizations:

Register now! Deadline to register online (or if you are paying by credit card) is May 10.

Contact Kylie Nissen, (701) 777-5380; or Julie Reiten, (701) 777-4173.

Scott Bultman will present Epigenetics Seminar on May 19

Scott Bultman, PhD, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine Department of Genetics, will present his seminar titled "A gut microbiome metabolite regulates histone acetylation by dual mechanisms that are differentially utilized by normal versus cancer cells due to the Warburg effect" at 4:00 p.m. on Thursday May 19 in the Clifford Haugen Lecture Hall, Room 1360, at the SMHS in Grand Forks.

This seminar is cosponsored by the Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) for Epigenomics and the Department of Biomedical Sciences at the SMHS.

All are welcome to attend.

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SMHS to present Master of Physician Assistant Studies degrees

The Department of Physician Assistant Studies Hooding Ceremony for the Master of Physician Assistant Studies Class of 2016 at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences will take place on Friday, May 13, at 2:00 p.m. at the Gorecki Alumni Center. Official diplomas will be granted during University of North Dakota Commencement on Saturday, May 14.

Thirty-three students will receive their Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS) degree. The program comprises a 24-month curriculum and includes a combination of online coursework, classroom experiences on campus, and clinical experiences under the supervision of a physician or physician assistant in rural or underserved primary care areas. (Shown is the Physician Assistant Class of 2016 after their White Coat Ceremony in January 2015.)

The primary mission of the University of North Dakota Department of Physician Assistant Studies is to prepare selected students to become competent physician assistants working collaboratively with physician supervision, emphasizing primary care in communities within North Dakota as well as regionally, nationally, and globally.

With this mission, the goal is to improve access to healthcare, help alleviate shortages of primary care providers, and deliver quality, affordable, and comprehensive healthcare to rural or underserved populations.

To date, the program has 1,780 graduates who are employed throughout the United States (including Hawaii, Alaska, and the Virgin Islands), Canada, and overseas. The program’s success in meeting its mission is evidenced by the following:

  • 67 percent of recent graduates are employed in primary care practices;
  • 78 percent of recent graduates reside in the same city or town as when they graduated (trained and retained as medical providers in home areas); and
  • 53 percent of recent graduates are practicing in a rural area (defined as fewer than 25,000 people).

University of North Dakota President Edward Schafer; UND Vice President for Health Affairs and
Dean of the School of Medicine and Health Sciences Joshua Wynne, MD, MBA, MPH; and SMHS Senior Associate Dean for Education Gwen Halaas, MD, MBA, will offer welcoming remarks along with Department of Physician Assistant Studies Chair Jeanie McHugo, PhD, PA-C. Associate Dean for Health Sciences Tom Mohr, PT, PhD, will deliver closing remarks. Awards will be given to academically outstanding students, committed preceptors, and students who performed well on their scholarly projects. Students will be hooded by their family and friends.

For a complete list of the graduates with their hometowns, please visit

Hartenstein receives a 2016 Lillian Elsinga Outstanding Student Leader Award

Sarah Hartenstein, a student in the Medical Laboratory Science Program, was nominated and was selected to receive a 2016 Lillian Elsinga Outstanding Student Leader Award. The staff of the Student Involvement and Leadership Office commended Hartenstein on the recognition and thanked her for her leadership at UND and in the Grand Forks community.

Hartenstein has been the copresident for the UND Medical Laboratory Science (MLS) Club for the last two years. She helped plan two blood drives this school year and last year, and included two other UND student clubs in the blood drive to increase participation. Last year the club participated in the UND Big Event. The club members also went on a tour of the Mayo labs in Rochester, Minn., both years. The club members designed T-shirts and jackets for club members and other students in the MLS major. Club members have planned social events for the club and marched in the UND homecoming parade with the SMHS’s float.

Hartenstein and others in the club have also talked to students in biology and chemistry classes about a 4+1 Program whereby the students can obtain a Bachelor of Science in Biology or Chemistry and also obtain a certificate in MLS. She has developed her leadership and organizational skills in making all these activities work and with input from many club members. She also has gained skills in running a meeting by holding club meetings once a month.

School of Medicine and Health Sciences to present Doctor of Medicine degrees

The University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences will confer the Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree during commencement at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 15, at the Chester Fritz Auditorium on the UND campus in Grand Forks.

Seventy-two degree candidates will participate in the ceremony. The graduates have completed four years of medical education to earn their Doctor of Medicine, beginning with two years of instruction at the UND campus in Grand Forks, followed by two years learning and working with practicing physicians who volunteer to serve as their teachers in hospitals and clinics throughout North Dakota. Upon graduating, the doctors will complete their residencies, a period of advanced intensive training in their chosen medical specialty before independent practice as a physician. Depending on the medical specialty, medical school graduates complete anywhere from three to seven years of residency training after medical school.

Patrick Carr, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences at the School of Medicine and Health Sciences, will deliver the keynote address titled “Everything You Need to Know You Learned in Anatomy.”

Carr was raised in western Manitoba and completed his undergraduate education at Brandon University and a doctoral degree in physiology at the University of Manitoba. He then completed further training at the University of Manitoba, the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., and at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. He joined the University of North Dakota in 1998, where he is currently the director of Education Resources and assistant dean for Faculty Development for the School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

Medical students have honored Carr with over 30 teaching awards. His teaching responsibilities currently include gross anatomy and neuroscience. When not at work, he can often be found encouraging medical students to join him at hockey, mountain biking, or playing guitar.

For a complete list of the graduates, with their hometowns and residency programs, please visit

Every Friday is Clean-Out Friday

Get organized for the move to the new building!

Every Friday is Clean-Out Friday. You can do the following:

  • Quickly destroy records that have met their retention time.
  • Organize your records now so you are ready for the new building.
  • Clean up your storage room.
  • Identify records that are historical or need to be put on a retention hold.

Shredding totes and recycling bins will be located in the Vennes Atrium.

As state employees, we all bear the responsibility of managing records. A clean-out day helps free up valuable space in your filing cabinets, work areas, and storage rooms. If your records are in proper order, you increase your work productivity, minimize litigation risks, and are complying with the SMHS retention schedule. Every Friday is Clean-Out Friday. Please make some time to go through your offices and storage rooms.

For further information, contact the Records and Information Management Program at 777-3783. 

Susan Carlson, CRM, MS
Associate Director–Administration and Finance
Records and Information Management

"Mind Your Risks and Act FAST to Prevent and Treat Strokes"—CDC Grand Rounds

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Public Health Grand Rounds is a monthly webcast created to foster discussion on major public health issues. Each session focuses on key challenges related to a specific health topic, and explores the latest scientific evidence and the potential effect of different interventions. The Grand Rounds sessions also highlight how the CDC and its partners are already addressing these challenges and discuss the recommendations for future research and practice. May's presentation is "Mind Your Risks and Act FAST to Prevent and Treat Strokes." All of the webcasts are archived for later viewing.

Social Media: View photos of Ashley and Fosston students who toured the SMHS

On our Facebook page, view photos of high school students from Ashley, N.Dak., and Fosston, Minn., who toured the School.

Also on our Facebook page, Dean Wynne answers questions about bariatric surgery and about peanut allergy in his latest Health Matters column, which can be found in the Grand Forks Herald every other Monday. Please submit any general health-related questions to

You can also get the latest SMHS news by following the School on Twitter

University Letter—Singh, Weinstein will receive Chester Fritz Distinguished Professorships

At General Commencement on May 14, the University will honor two outstanding faculty members with its highest academic honor—Chester Fritz Distinguished Professorships. This year’s recipients, who just found out about the honor on May 3 in separate surprise announcements, are Brij Singh in the Department of Biomedical Sciences at the SMHS (shown at right) and Jack Russell Weinstein, professor of philosophy and director of the Institute for Philosophy in Public Life.

More information about this and other UND news can be found in the University Letter. Published on Tuesdays and Thursdays, it is distributed electronically to the University community and is always available online. For more information, contact editor Jan Orvik at (701) 777-3621.

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SMHS community asked to complete appendicitis survey

Dear colleagues and friends:

We are attempting to understand how different people would choose between appendectomy or antibiotic treatment alone if they had appendicitis. The link below is to a quick Web-based anonymous survey that will provide a little information about each scenario, ask you to choose, and then ask you a few questions about yourself and your reasoning. No personal identifying information will be collected. The survey should take 5–10 minutes of your time. We would really appreciate it if you would take the time to complete the survey, as this is an important subject on which the patient viewpoint has really not been heard. If you have friends or family to whom you can pass this on so that they can also complete the survey, we would also be incredibly grateful if you would forward the link to them.

Thank you in advance.

Marc D. Basson, MD, PhD, MBA
Professor of Surgery, Pathology, and Biomedical Sciences
Associate Dean for Medicine
School of Medicine and Health Sciences

USDA GF Human Nutrition Research Center seeks study participants (new study just added)

The United States Department of Agriculture Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center is seeking participants for two research studies.

  • Whole Egg Intake and the Mediterranean Diet
    This study will evaluate the daily intake of whole eggs in the Mediterranean Diet. We are looking for men and women ages 20–75 to test how the addition of eggs to this diet affects blood lipids and other risk markers for cardiovascular disease. You may be compensated as much as $858.
  • Fish for HEALTH! 
    The purpose of this study is to determine whether eating rainbow trout with different omega-3 levels reduces heart disease risk markers. Receive up to $500 for completing the study.
  • Acute Effects of Fats on Satiety & Energy Needs
    We are looking for female participants to join our study to assess how dietary fat affects
    energy metabolism and feelings of fullness after eating. Receive up to $530, or a 13-month
    individual membership, or a nine-month family membership at Choice Health & Fitness, to be
    paid at the conclusion of the study.

For more information, contact Vanessa Thyne, Biological Laboratory Technician, Dietary Prevention of Disease Research Unit, Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center, (701) 795-8493.

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Library of the Health Sciences hours for Reading and Review Day and finals week

Library of the Health Sciences hours for Friday, May 6, through Saturday, May 14, are the following:

  • Friday, May 6, Reading and Review Day—7:30 a.m.–10 p.m.   
  • Saturday, May 7—10 a.m.–10 p.m.  
  • Sunday, May 8—1 p.m.–midnight 
  • Monday, May 9—7:30 a.m.–midnight 
  • Tuesday, May 10—7:30 a.m.–midnight   
  • Wednesday, May 11—7:30 a.m.–midnight  
  • Thursday, May 12—7:30 a.m.–midnight   
  • Friday, May 13—7:30 a.m.–10 p.m.  
  • Saturday, May 14—10 a.m.–10 p.m. 

If you have any questions, please contact Kelly Thormodson (701) 777-4129.

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