In a community-based school like ours that has a distributed educational delivery system that involves four campus operations (along with a distant site in Casper, Wyoming, and several rural sites that compose our Rural Opportunities in Medical Education (ROME) Program), it is easy for the remote sites to feel . . . well, remote. You may recall that one of the accreditation citations of our medical education program by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) was that the regional campuses didn’t have enough central oversight and coordination. So we’ve worked hard to show how interconnected we really are. And one of the ways in which we’ve tried to demonstrate that is by hosting holiday receptions at each of our four campus locations. This week, we’ve had very successful gatherings in Bismarck (Monday night), Minot (Tuesday night) and Fargo (last night). The turnout has been wonderful, and students, faculty, staff, and guests really seemed to enjoy the camaraderie. The reception in Grand Forks is next Tuesday, and we’ve already had about 150 affirmative RSVPs. I look forward to greeting the attendees then, and I enjoyed meeting with many of you earlier this week in Bismarck, Minot, and Fargo. And yesterday, we capped off the holiday celebrations with our Annual Holiday Luncheon that is held in the SMHS building in Grand Forks, during which we welcome students, faculty, staff, and guests.

I hope that you’ll be able to attend the final Dean’s Hour presentation for 2015, when the School will welcome Dean G. Smith, PhD, dean of the Louisiana State University School of Public Health and professor of Health Policy and Systems Management. Dean has a special interest in healthcare financing and what is termed value-based purchasing, and his talk is on “The Converging Interests of Public Health and Medicine.” The presentation is at noon on Thursday, December 10, and lunch will be provided for those attending in Grand Forks; the talk will also be available online at: I got to know Dean when he was a professor at the University of Michigan, where I obtained my Master of Public Health degree. I think that you’ll enjoy the talk—and learn a lot!

And speaking of Dean’s Hour, the lineup of guests for the remainder of the 2015–16 academic year is impressive! We’ll kick off the second half of presentations for this academic year on Thursday, January 14, 2016, when we’ll welcome Dr. Richard Derman, the Marie E. Pinizzotto, MD, Endowed Chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Christiana Care in Delaware and professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Thomas Jefferson University. Dr. Derman is a principal investigator of the Global Research Network for Women's and Children's Health that is funded by the National Institutes of Health, and he will be speaking to us about global health challenges and remedies. We will then have weekly presentations (except for break and study times) by guest speakers (and a few homegrown ones as well!) through early May. I hope that you’ll be able to attend the sessions in person or virtually via the Web.

Congratulations to Mary Ann Sens, MD, PhD, professor and chair of the Department of Pathology at the School and her colleagues! The department’s forensic pathology facility earned full accreditation from the National Association of Medical Examiners (NAME). UND’s facility is the first to achieve NAME accreditation in North Dakota or South Dakota; it is the sole accredited forensic pathology provider between Minneapolis and Spokane. Other faculty members who work with Dr. Sens as forensic pathologists include Associate Professor Mark Koponen, MD, Assistant Professor Sarah Meyers, MD, and Associate Professor Walter Kemp, MD, PhD.

And congratulations also are in order for our researchers at the School, from the experienced to the up-and-coming in their disciplines! Dr. Jyotika Sharma’s pivotal work on sepsis was recognized by the National Institutes of Health when it granted her $1.7 million to continue her research. And congratulations to UND undergraduate Danyelle Osowski and second-year medical student Matthew Glogoza for earning awards to participate in national conferences of the principal scientific societies in their fields of study. Research by students early in their academic careers is encouraged by the University and the School. And student research wouldn’t be possible without faculty mentors at the School. Thank you to all of our faculty members who encourage students in their exploration of the biomedical sciences.

Congratulations are extended to Charles Christianson, MD; he received the Faculty Service Learning Stone Soup Award from the UND Center for Community Engagement for his work in creating the student clinic at the Northlands Rescue Mission in Grand Forks. Charlie is an associate professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine, where he is co-coordinator of clinical sciences education for first-year medical students.

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


Recent Educational Policies to Review

Automatic Dismissal of First-Year Medical Students.

Inhibiting Conditions for Health Sciences and Medical Students.

Student Bloodborne & Biological Pathogen Exposure Management.

Conflict of Interest for Assessment.

Conflict of Interest for Standing Committees.

View all of the School's Policies and Procedures.

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Dean G. Smith presents at Dean's Hour on December 10

Dr. Dean G. Smith, dean of the School of Public Health at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center–New Orleans and professor of health policy and systems management, is the next Dean’s Hour speaker at noon on Thursday, December 10, in the Reed Keller Auditorium, Room 1350 at the SMHS in Grand Forks. The title of his presentation is “The Converging Interests of Public Health and Medicine.”

Lunch will be provided to those attending on the Grand Forks Campus.

His presentation will be broadcast at the following UND SMHS campus sites:

  • Bismarck, Southwest Campus Room 2108
  • Fargo, Southeast Campus Room 219
  • Minot, Northwest Campus Office—Trinity Location

Also available at your desktop at the following link:

For additional information, contact the Office of the Dean at (701) 777-2514.

Lori L. Sannes
Administrative Officer
Office of the Dean

Save the Date! Building Better Brains Symposium is April 11–12

The two UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence—the Center for Neurodegenerative Disorder Research and the Epigenomics of Development and Disease—will sponsor a two-day joint neuroepigenetics symposium, “Building Better Brains,” on April 11 and 12, 2016, at the Gorecki Alumni Center in Grand Forks.

The keynote speaker will be Eric Nestler, MD, PhD, Nash Family Professor of Neuroscience at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, where he serves as chair of the Department of Neuroscience and director of the Friedman Brain Institute.

More information blitzes concerning additional speakers as well as registering for the conference and presenting data will be forthcoming.

Bonnie Kee
Administrative Assistant
Department of Basic Sciences

Save the Date! 2016 Dakota Conference on Rural and Public Health

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, University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences and is supported by the following organizations:

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

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Danyelle Osowski garners Pfizer SOT Undergraduate Student Travel Award

Danyelle Osowski, a UND undergraduate student performing research in the laboratory of Associate Professor Jane Dunlevy, PhD, in the Department of Basic Sciences, has been awarded a Pfizer Society of Toxicology Undergraduate Student Travel Award to attend the 2016 Annual Meeting of the Society of Toxicology (SOT) in New Orleans, Louisiana.

The Society of Toxicology and Pfizer will provide complimentary registration for the meeting and access to all sessions, travel to and from the meeting, lodging, and a stipend to offset daily and miscellaneous food and travel expenses. The award provides for participation in the Undergraduate Education Program on Sunday, March 13, which includes special toxicology lectures, tips on graduate school admission, and an opportunity to meet with graduate program directors. The Pfizer Award will be recognized at the SOT Awards Ceremony on March 13 in the Convention Center. An opportunity to network with Pfizer scientists will also be provided as will recognition of the award at a special Pfizer event.

In addition, Osowski will also present her poster on research performed as part of the UND SMHS Summer Undergraduate Research Program. Her presentation is titled “Increased Expression of CD44 in Cadmium and Arsenite Transformed UROtsa Cells.” Osowski’s research was supported by an Institutional Development Award (IDeA) from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under grant number P20GM103442.

Professor Donald A. Sens, PhD
Department of Pathology
Director of ND INBRE

Matthew Glogoza awarded Looking to the Future Scholarship

Matthew Glogoza, a second-year medical student, was awarded a Looking to the Future Scholarship to attend the January 2016 annual meeting of The Society of Thoracic Surgeons in Phoenix, Ariz. This highly competitive award is given to medical students throughout the United States who are potentially interested in a career in thoracic surgery.

The Society of Thoracic Surgeons is a not-for-profit organization representing more than 7,100 surgeons, researchers, and allied healthcare professionals worldwide who are dedicated to ensuring the best possible outcomes for surgeries of the heart, lung, and esophagus, as well as other surgical procedures within the chest.

Glogoza, a Fargo, N.Dak., native, will be among 29 other students from schools such as Duke, Johns Hopkins, UCLA, and Michigan attending the meeting. 

Cornelius (Mac) Dyke, MD
Associate Dean, Southeast Campus

Forensic Pathology Facility earns NAME accreditation

The National Association of Medical Examiners (NAME) has announced that the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences Forensic Pathology Facility has earned full accreditation. UND’s facility is the first to achieve NAME accreditation in North Dakota and South Dakota; it is the sole accredited forensic pathology provider between Minneapolis, Minn., and Spokane, Wash.

UND SMHS professionals at the facility perform full medicolegal death investigations and forensic autopsies for Grand Forks County and eight counties in northwestern Minnesota: Kittson, Lake of the Woods, Mahnomen, Marshall, Norman, Polk, Red Lake, and Roseau. In addition, they serve as consultants to North Dakota coroners and perform forensic autopsies for 21 counties in North Dakota. The facility aids investigations for issues in public health, occupational safety, law enforcement and other agencies. Most importantly, the office serves North Dakota families at a time of need, personal loss, and tragedy. (Shown with the NAME Accreditation Certificate are [from left] Mary Ann Sens; Ed Bina, forensic investigator; Sarah Meyers; Walter Kemp; and Mark Koponen.)

NAME is the national professional organization of physician medical examiners, medical death investigators, and death investigation system administrators who perform the official duties of the medicolegal investigation of deaths of public interest in the United States. NAME is recognized as the premier professional organization of forensic pathologists and death investigators.

“NAME-accredited offices represent the highest quality of death investigation system,” said Barbara Wolf, cochair of the NAME Inspection and Accreditation Committee, in a letter announcing UND’s achievement. “The citizens of North Dakota can be proud of the hard work, dedication, and leadership of you and your staff in attaining this accreditation.”

“We have a great team serving the citizens and community,” said Mary Ann Sens, MD, PhD, professor and chair of the Department of Pathology at the UND SMHS, and past president of NAME. “NAME Accreditation is validation on a national level of our high standards of death investigation and forensic pathology. We are proud and honored by this recognition, reflective of our commitment to the communities we serve.”

Faculty members assisting Sens at the forensic pathology facility are Associate Professor and Assistant Medical Examiner Mark Koponen, MD, Assistant Professor and Assistant Medical Examiner Sarah Meyers, MD, and Associate Professor and Assistant Medical Examiner Walter Kemp, MD, PhD.

Sens has been chair of the Department of Pathology since 2002 and was president of NAME in 2011, where she was a past member of the Board of Directors and Executive Committee as well as serving on several committees within NAME.

She is certified by the American Board of Pathology in Anatomic and Forensic Pathology and licensed to practice medicine in North Dakota, Minnesota, South Dakota, and South Carolina.

In addition to her work at UND, Sens serves as the Grand Forks County Coroner and is the medical examiner for Kittson, Lake of the Woods, Marshall, Mahnomen, Norman, Polk, Red Lake and Roseau counties in Minnesota. She participates in numerous professional organizations, has served on the Fellows Council and Board of Directors for the American Society of Clinical Pathologists as well as serving on several committees for the College of American Pathologists, Renal Pathology Society, and the Association of Pathology Chairs. She was recently appointed to the Federal Interagency Working Group in Forensic Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

Medical Student Council donation tree

Hello All,

The Medical Student Council is working with the Northeast Human Service Center in Grand Forks on a holiday project. We have set up a gift donation tree in the basement of the Harley E. French Library of the Health Sciences at the SMHS in Grand Forks and ask that you consider giving to this great program.

The gifts will benefit two programs at the Northeast Human Service Center. The first one is for senior citizens, age 55 and over, who are volunteers in the Foster Grandparent Program. These are low-income men and women who donate 15 hours or more per week working with children in schools, Head Start programs, healthcare facilities, or nonprofit child care centers. The second is for children in foster care in the County of Grand Forks. Foster parents do not get extra funds during this time to purchase presents, so this can be an added hardship for these families. All of the recipients and their families are very appreciative of your kind donations.

If you would like to give a gift, please do the following:

  1. Select a tag from the tree.
  2. Purchase a gift (~$20).
  3. Wrap the gift and attach the tag to the outside.
  4. Leave the gifts under the tree by December 16!

Please contact me if you have any questions or concerns. Thank you for your thoughtful contributions. Happy holidays!

Sara Paulson
MSI Student Council Secretary

Coming Together: New questions and answers

The UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences Transition Management Team continues to plan for the move to our new building in 2016.

Two questions have been revised on the new building FAQs page on the Coming Together website.

  • Will laptops be required?
  • What do we do with books that don’t fit in the new offices?

For more new building information, to view all the frequently asked questions and answers, or to submit a question, please visit the Coming Together website.

Jessica Sobolik
Director of Alumni and Community Relations  

"Strengthening a Culture of Laboratory Safety"—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. December's presentation is "Strengthening a Culture of Laboratory Safety." All of the webcasts are archived for later viewing.

Social Media: Remembering Dr. Michael James Schlosser

On our Facebook page, we remember Michael James Schlosser, MD '87.

Also on our Facebook page, Jessica Ruhland, MD '05, was recognized as a member of Prairie Business Magazine's 40 Under 40, and Dean Wynne answers questions about what high blood pressure is, its causes, and its treatment 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: President Kelley invites UND community to campus master planning open forum

Dear members of the campus community,

We seek your feedback as we develop a campus master plan. To that end, I encourage you to attend the campus master planning open forum from 9 to 10:30 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 11, in the Lecture Bowl of the Memorial Union. This open forum is especially significant because we will be discussing different strategies for possible building reassignments. A second open forum is planned for the week of Jan. 11.

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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Seeking a Better NET Result—NIH grants $1.7 million to Jyotika Sharma

The National Institutes of Health has granted $1.7 million to Assistant Professor Jyotika Sharma, PhD, in the Department of Basic Sciences at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences, to pursue research on a possible mechanism that causes a life-threatening reaction in pneumonia patients. The five-year R01 grant is the highest level of research supported by the NIH.

Funded by two R21 grants, an American Heart Association grant, and a UND Faculty Research Seed grant since she joined UND in August 2011, Sharma’s research focuses on sepsis, which is a life-threatening medical condition that results from a systemic inflammatory response by the body to fend off a severe infection or to recover from a traumatic injury.

“Sepsis is a medical condition where your immune system gets overactivated,” said Sharma, a microbial immunologist.

The patient’s immune system reacts to the body’s signal of impending peril with a defense that goes horribly wrong—it doesn’t distinguish between molecular friend and foe. The onslaught of sepsis is frighteningly fast; it can progress from simple sepsis to severe sepsis to septic shock sometimes within hours. Blood vessels are particularly affected by the hyperinflammation that accompanies sepsis. Extensive blood clotting occurs in vessels as a result of the ongoing inflammation, which disrupts blood flow and thus oxygen supply to the organs. Patients suffer a fever or hypothermia, a rapid heart rate, rapid respiration, and multiple organ failure because vital tissues lack perfusion with oxygen as a result of low blood pressure.

“The mortality rate is very, very high: 20 to 50 percent of people admitted to an ICU with sepsis are at risk of dying,” she said. “Half of the ICU resources in this country are spent on these patients. The annual expenditure is around $20 billion.”

Sharma’s work in this R01 grant examines the most common type of infection-fighting white blood cell—neutrophils—that are the first responders for combatting bacterial infections like pneumonia. Neutrophils fight pneumonic bacteria in two ways. Primarily, they engulf and destroy the bacteria. Or they can form NETs outside of cells. NETs are neutrophil extracellular traps in which the neutrophils expel DNA fibrils with molecules attached that can trap and kill bacteria. But the factors controlling NET formation are not well understood.

Sharma’s team has identified a molecule called “Mincle,” which is acting as a central regulator of NET formation in pneumonia and sepsis. In the absence of Mincle, the neutrophils don’t form NETs, which allows the bacteria to grow unchecked, ultimately leading to hyperinflammation and sepsis.

“Our observation of Mincle-mediated NET formation through a novel signaling pathway presents an exciting opportunity to understand NET formation and its role in sepsis at an unprecedented level.”

However, NET formation comes at a cost. Uncontrolled NET formation can also lead to collateral damage from inflammation. Hyperactive immune response because of too many NETs has now been identified in many diseases like lupus, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), arthritis and even Alzheimer’s disease.

“In the future, when we are equipped with the understanding of NET formation from this work along with unique ways to manipulate NET formation that we are trying to develop currently, we will be able to harness the beneficial outcome of NETs while avoiding their potentially harmful effects. It’s a goal that has remained elusive so far.”

Assisting Sharma with this project has been her postdoctoral fellow Atul Sharma, PhD (not related). Sharma’s project will have a clinical component as well. Associate Professor Mary Aaland, MD, who is the director of rural surgery and the director of clinical research in the UND SMHS Department of Surgery, will be coordinating the acquisition of patient samples from Altru Clinic in Grand Forks with the help of UND SMHS Associate Professor of Surgery and Altru Hospital Surgeon Randy Szlabick, MD.

“Determining the relevance of NET formation in a clinically relevant pneumonic sepsis model as well as in sepsis patients will not only provide possible therapeutic interventions for this deadly immune disorder,” Sharma said, “but it also may possibly provide treatments for a variety of disease conditions where unregulated NET formation is an underlying cause.”

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