The Arizona Desert Lamp

White Paper: College of Medicine

Posted in UA Transformation Plan by Evan Lisull on 20 October 2008

I love me some antibiotics, but in this white paper the College of Medicine is being downright pretentious. First of all, they feel the need to entitle their white paper “Tripartite Reorganization of College of Medicine,” which is to say that they have three proposals. Then, without any sort of introduction, they jump right into a program for “translational medicine.” This sort of smoke-and-mirrors-by-technical-thesaurus is a bit suspect.

1. Translational medicine, as defined by Wikipedia:

Translation Medicine is the emerging view of medical practice and interventional epidemiology, as a natural 21st century progression from Evidence-Based Medicine. It integrates research inputs from the basic sciences, social sciences and political sciences to optimise both patient care and also preventive measures which may extend beyond the provision of healthcare services.

The UA CoM maintains that this is the way of the future, and seeks to establish a translational research program to, “allow merged appointments of clinical science faculty into basic science departments or a basic science group within a clinical department such as the Radiology Research Group.”

The CoM doesn’t hold any punches, and comes out swinging against a current white paper proposal to merge CoM’s Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy with the UA’s Molecular and Cellular Biology. “Such cross campus mergers have not worked in the past, and in particular did not strengthen the College of Medicine in either translational research or teaching of medical students.”

2. The school is also unhappy with the performance of its first year students, and seeks to revamp the program, through recommendations from a college-wide Town Hall.

3. When funding is in doubt, Big Pharma the UA College of Medicine will do what it must:

Outreach should be improved by having a College of Medicine registered lobbyist who
would be in consistent contact with Legislators, so that substantial parts of outreach could be
aligned with Legislative priorities, and Legislative concerns could be addressed.

Don’t you just hate those mean, evil lobbyists who are ruining politics? Presumably, the lobbyist would operate at the state level; yet this is unspecified, and porker Gabby Giffords may very well come home with some goodies for the CoM as well.

The budget issues section is interesting, insofar as it has nothing to do with the preceding proposals. First, the CoM tackles administration:

Administration in the College of Medicine has become large and costly ($5.7 million) in the last 5 years.  In 2003 there were 6 people listed in the UA Directory under College of Medicine with
the term “Dean” in their title (Associate Dean, Special Assistant to the Dean, etc.), while in June
of 2008, there were 23 such individuals on the web site of the Tucson Campus College of
Medicine Administration.  This has since been reduced to 19 individuals, but is still large.  With
transfer of responsibilities to elected faculty committees, as in the past, this could save several
million dollars.

Any faculty members want to chime in about how they feel about taking up the administrative burden?

The section also provides a sense of the cost of the earlier proposals: at minimum, $1 million per year for the Translational Research program, and $100,000 per year for the lobbyist.

Frankly, though, this is a year of the stick, not the carrot. In all probability, Provost Hay will gladly hack away at administration, while ignoring requests for new programs and lobbyists.


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