August 26, 2016

Just a quick update to last week’s column in E-News regarding our recent presentation to the Interim Higher Education Committee that met in the new building last week. In that column, I discussed the School’s research productivity and analyzed our record over the past two decades. Because we had not yet received the final “official” level of funding for the just completed academic year (2015–16), I used our best internal estimate of funding for last year. Well, we just got the official number from UND, and it was almost a million dollars more than our estimate! So the UND SMHS has yet again set a new record for sponsored funding—this most recent year marked the highest level of external funding (mainly from the National Institutes of Health) that our faculty has been awarded since the School was founded! Again—congratulations to all!

And welcome to all the health sciences and biomedical sciences students as well as undergraduates from other UND programs that started (or are continuing) their studies this week. They join the medical students who started earlier this month. It’s really exciting to see the new building humming with activity. And it’s also great to see Café 1905, the School’s eating establishment, up and running. The expanded food options are welcome indeed. It was inconvenient for many of us to have to leave the building or bring our lunches with us; now good selections are available right on the first floor.

It was fun to have Joel Heitkamp of KFGO radio in the building for his Tuesday broadcast earlier this week. Several UND representatives, including the SMHS's Dr. Colin Combs, Steve Westereng, and Randy Eken, were interviewed. The focus of Joel’s presentation was the start of the fall semester at UND, and we emphasized the good things happening at the School. You can listen to podcasts of the broadcast here.

Finally, UND’s strategic planning process officially got underway yesterday. During a meeting that lasted most of the day, cochairs Laurie Betting and Dana Harsell kicked off the process that should culminate in May 2017 with a new vision of where UND is headed. The SMHS is well represented in this process. As vice president for health affairs, I’m on the Strategic Steering Committee, and two SMHS deans are on the Strategic Planning Committee—Senior Associate Dean for Education Dr. Gwen Halaas, who represents me and the School as a member of the Provost’s Academic Affairs group; and Associate Dean for Health Sciences Dr. Tom Mohr, who was selected by UND’s Faculty Senate as a representative. We’ll keep you updated, although I suspect that many of you will be involved along the way in many of the components of the process.

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


Recent Educational Policies to Review

Standards of Capacity (for medical students)

View all of the School's Policies and Procedures.

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Brianne Melicher

     Administrative Secretary

Brianne Melicher began employment as an administrative secretary July 20 at the Southeast Campus office in Fargo. Her supervisor is Kristi Hofer.

Angela Olson

     Administrative Assistant

Angela Olson will begin employment as an administrative assistant in Biomedical Sciences on August 30. Her supervisor is Brij Singh.

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Save the Date—Java with Josh is September 8

All SMHS faculty, staff, and students are invited to have an informal, complimentary cup of coffee, juice, or tea with Dean Wynne in the West Atrium from 8:30 to 9 a.m. on Thursday, September 8, to discuss what’s new at the School.

Questions are encouraged!

RSVP to Kristen Peterson by Thursday, September 1.

Hope to see you there.

Dean Joshua Wynne, MD, MBA, MPH

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Social Media—Health Matters

On our Facebook page, Dean Wynne answers questions about omega-3 fatty acids and about skin cancer 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—UND expects its most academically qualified first-year class this fall

For the fourth consecutive fall, the University of North Dakota expects its incoming first-year class to be the most academically qualified in UND’s history, based on average high school GPA (grade point average) and ACT scores.

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.

"Strategies to Prevent Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome"—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. August's presentation is "Primary Prevention and Public Health Strategies to Prevent Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome." All of the webcasts are archived for later viewing.

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Grupo Medicos Dakota

Six members of the MD Class of 2016 build an intercontinental bridge with the people of Chimbote, Peru.

At the School of Medicine and Health Sciences Medical Doctor White Coat Ceremony in August 2012, six members of the MD Class of 2016 donned their white coats as first-year medical students. They had just completed their first week of orientation to medical school and their first week of classes in the SMHS’s nationally recognized patient-centered-learning curriculum, where biomedical and clinical sciences are taught in the context of patient cases. Their first patient case was taught by SMHS Dean Joshua Wynne, concerning Ben, a young man who developed osteomyelitis of his lower leg.

Almost four years later and over 4,000 miles away from Grand Forks, they carried to Chimbote, Peru, what they learned from Ben and other patients to complete a final elective before graduation. The formal title of the elective is International /Developing Nation Medicine. As a part of the School’s service-learning initiative, the course’s stated goal is “to provide education and experience in the unique challenges and strategies of healthcare delivery for people in a developing country.” For the full article, please read more.

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NIH funds Basson’s study of treatment for effects from starvation or intestinal surgery

When children or adults either undergo prolonged fasting or have much of their small intestine removed because of disease, they are often initially unable to eat enough to survive. Without sufficient intestinal adaptation, they may be condemned to permanent intravenous feedings, with a substantial impact on quality and length of life, or require small bowel transplantation, which has its own complications.

“Current medical treatment for this condition has limited efficacy,” said Marc D. Basson, MD, PhD, MBA, FACS, the associate dean for medicine and professor of surgery and of biomedical sciences at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences. “We have identified a novel protein that turns on the function of the cells that line the small intestine and may offer a new approach to the management of this condition.”

The National Institutes of Health has granted over $860,000 to Basson to continue research he initiated at Michigan State University in 2012. Basson’s unique approach is called Schlafen mediation of intestinal epithelial differentiation.

“We hope to trace the pathway that causes the small intestinal epithelial lining cells to differentiate,” Basson said, “The pathway may offer new targets that can be used to develop new therapies to help children and adults who have what is known as short bowel syndrome, which usually results from surgical removal of a large portion of the small intestine.”

Other researchers from the UND SMHS working with Basson in his study are Lakshmi Chaturvedi, PhD, research associate professor in the Departments of Surgery, Biomedical Sciences and Pathology; Emilie DeKrey, PhD, research assistant professor in the Department of Surgery; and Luis Garcia, MD, Sanford Health System, and clinical associate professor in the Department of Surgery at the SMHS. In addition, Basson will continue the research partnership he forged with Leslie Kuhn, PhD, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Michigan State University.

“We hope this research leads to pharmacologic interventions targeted at the mechanisms that we are tracing,” he said. “And we will study how treating this pathway may be adapted to weight-loss surgery to make such surgery more effective.”

Also of note, Basson was named editor in chief this month of the Journal of Investigative Surgery, which publishes peer-reviewed scientific articles for the advancement of surgery.

USDA GF Human Nutrition Research Center seeks study participants

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

  • Fish for HEALTH! 
    Are you interested in cardiovascular health? Would you like to eat more fish? The USDA Human Nutrition Research Center is seeking men and women, ages 20–70, 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
    Women on contraception: are you satisfied when you eat? The USDA is looking for female participants, ages 18–50, 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 9-month family membership at Choice Health & Fitness, to be paid at the conclusion of the study.

For more information, and to see if you qualify, check out our website, or 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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Health Sciences Library hours for Labor Day holiday

Health Sciences Library hours for Friday, September 2, through Monday, September 5, are the following:

  • Friday, Sept. 2—7:30 a.m.–5 p.m. 
  • Saturday, Sept. 3—Closed
  • Sunday, Sunday, Sept. 4—Closed
  • Monday, Sept. 5, Labor Day—1:00 p.m.–8 p.m.   

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

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