During the ceremony, graduates will be presented with a nursing pin by a person of their choosing, usually a friend or family member. The time-honored tradition is a symbol of newly graduated nurses entering the nursing profession.
“This graduating class will always be linked to the tragic events of the August 3 mass shooting at the Cielo Vista-area Walmart,” said Stephanie Woods, Ph.D., R.N., dean of the Hunt School of Nursing. “On that day, members of this graduating class were at University Medical Center (UMC) of El Paso and Del Sol Medical Center when those two emergency departments received victims of the shooting.”
Ten nursing students were at UMC and 15 students were at Del Sol Medical Center that day.
“In an instant, the students began to understand the importance of a well-prepared trauma team and the value of professional nursing. I have no doubt that many of this class will choose emergency and critical care nursing,” said Dr. Woods. “I believe that future leaders for trauma centers will be graduating on December 14. These students have been forever touched by the inhumanity of one man and the caring of hundreds more.”
Dr. Woods will be the keynote speaker at Saturday’s commencement ceremony.
Students in the Accelerated B.S.N. program take up to 17 credit hours per semester for four successive semesters. The rigorous program allows students to graduate in 16 months after working through a curriculum designed for cross-disciplinary collaboration. This is the only accelerated nursing program in the region.
What: Gayle Greve Hunt School of Nursing commencement and pinning ceremony
On Tuesday, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso (TTUHSC El Paso) announced that more than $350,000 has been raised for scholarships benefiting incoming and current students attending the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine.
Funding for scholarships was raised through sponsorships and gifts in honor of the 10th anniversary celebration of the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine, “A Red Tie Affair for A White Coat Occasion.” More than a dozen community sponsors have contributed to the event, including sponsors Datamark, Hunt Family Foundation, Robert and Sheri Brown, and El Paso Electric.
“Our 10th anniversary celebration is particularly unique in that all proceeds will fund the education of our students through special anniversary scholarships,” said Richard Lange, M.D., M.B.A., president of TTUHSC El Paso and dean of the Foster School of Medicine. “I am thrilled we have surpassed our original goal of $250,000, and I hope that this success will inspire even more giving in the time leading up to and during our celebration event.”
The scholarship program, which consists of Foster Scholarships, Excellence Scholarships, and Anniversary Scholarships, makes medical school and residency possible for more students, and it provides talented young people from the region the opportunity to attend medical school in their hometown.
With annual tuition and fees for an in-state medical student totaling less than $20,000, the Foster School of Medicine at TTUHSC El Paso has been ranked one of the most affordable public medical schools in the country by U.S News and World Report.
“We will continue to fundraise as the event nears and have exciting, competitive ways for our guests to help our incoming students during the night’s events,” said Andrea Tawney, Ph.D., associate vice chancellor for Institutional Advancement.
“The El Paso community continues to amaze me with their investments in our city’s future well-being. Thanks to their support, we are able to offer scholarships to students throughout their medical school journey and continue a “grow our own” approach to addressing our region’s physician shortage.”
The Paul L. Foster School of Medicine was established to serve the mission of improving access to quality health care in the Borderland. It opened its doors to an inaugural class of 40 students in 2009, and since then it has sent 523 aspiring doctors into the medical profession.
Graduates have been matched to residency programs at top national institutions, including The Johns Hopkins University Hospital, George Washington University, Baylor University, New York University, Mayo Clinic, Barnes-Jewish Hospital, and Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
All event proceeds will support student scholarships, with a focus on recruiting students from El Paso and West Texas who will go on to practice in the region and serve their local communities.
The celebratory event will include a special black carpet entrance with interactive social media experiences, a guest appearance from the Texas Tech Masked Rider and El Paso’s Thomas Jefferson High School band.
Munmun Chattopadhyay, Ph.D., M.Sc., an assistant professor at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso’s Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, has been awarded a $100,429 grant from the Edward N. and Margaret G. Marsh Foundation for her research project, “Gastroparesis, a Mysterious Stomach Disorder and its Prevalence in Women.”
Dr. Chattopadhyay is a faculty researcher in the university’s Center of Emphasis in Diabetes and Metabolism within the Department of Molecular and Translational Medicine. Her research focuses on diabetes-related complications, which are a major health issue for El Paso’s diverse border population.
The Marsh Foundation grant will fund her research on gastroparesis, a rare but serious digestive disorder that prevents or delays the stomach from emptying food, leading to complications that include dehydration from vomiting, malnutrition and increased blood sugar levels that can worsen diabetes.
The most commonly known cause of gastroparesis is diabetes, a disease that can damage the vagus nerve that controls the muscles of the stomach. Diabetes is a major health issue in El Paso County, Texas, where 14% of adults have been diagnosed with diabetes, compared to 10.5% nationally, according to the Paso del Norte Health Foundation.
Other underlying causes of gastroparesis include hypothyroidism and viral infections of the stomach.
For reasons not well understood, gastroparesis affects women more than men. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, out of every 100,000 people in the U.S., about 10 men and about 40 women have gastroparesis.
“A growing number of teenage girls and women suffer from gastroparesis,” Dr. Chattopadhyay said. “To increase the understanding of this disorder, my study will help compile new and significant data on how this disorder affects people with diabetes, and also why it is more prevalent in women compared to men.”
Dr. Chattopadhyay’s project will involve the analysis of biopsy samples from gastroparetic (patients diagnosed with the disease) and non-gastroparetic patients to better understand the physiological processes associated with the disease. She will identify molecular markers that could be used to help improve treatment options for people with gastroparesis.
Underserved communities in the El Paso area will now have access to preventive and primary care right in their neighborhoods.
The Caring for Children Foundation of Texas has generously donated the full-time, exclusive use of a Care Van mobile health unit to Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso to address the great need for access to health care in the Paso del Norte region.
The van will be used by the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine’s Mobile Medical Student Run Clinic, the Texas Tech Physicians of El Paso (TTP El Paso) Family and Community Medicine Clinic at Kenworthy, and the Woody L. Hunt School of Dental Medicine’s public clinic.
The van was delivered to the university just as third-and-fourth-year Foster School of Medicine students, under the guidance and supervision of faculty physicians, were launching the Mobile Medical Student Run Clinic.
The mobile clinic’s services will include early childhood vaccinations, blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol screenings, and other important medical tests.
The communities and colonias to be served by the mobile clinic are located in the Montana Vista and Sparks areas just outside El Paso city limits. Vaccination services offered by the mobile clinic, with help from Immunize El Paso, are especially important because parents can have infants and young children vaccinated early, rather than waiting until they begin school.
In addition to the Mobile Medical Student Run Clinic, the van will be used for outreach by the TTP El Paso Family and Community Clinic at Kenworthy. The clinic will carry out medical education, conduct cancer screenings and administer vaccinations for human papillomavirus (HPV), along with other services.
HPV vaccinations are crucial for protecting teenagers and young adults from HPV infections, which can lead to cervical and other types of cancer.
The Hunt School of Dental Medicine’s clinic will use the van initially to offer cleanings, screenings and fluoride treatments, with the eventual goal of providing cavity filling procedures and other services.
The Care Van will run six days a week in various locations. The Caring for Children Foundation of Texas, which is sponsored by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas, purchased the van and will pay all costs associated with its use, including insurance, maintenance, tolls and gas.
TTUHSC El Paso’s new Care Van will provide quality health care while promoting the university’s mission of improving the lives of people in our community by focusing on the unique health care needs of the border population through education, research and patient care.
On Wednesday, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso (TTUHSC El Paso) announced community sponsorship support, as well as a collection of local and guest chefs, 100 days ahead of the 10th anniversary event of the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine, “Red Tie Affair For A White Coat Occasion.”
Local businesses Electronic Caregiver (the premier audiovisual sponsor), Crave Catering (the premier catering sponsor) and L&F Distributors (the premier beer and wine sponsor) will be supporting the February event through in-kind sponsorships.
“Like the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine, we too began our medical journey 10 years ago,” said Anthony Dohrmann, CEO of Electronic Caregiver. “With four employees and a mission to improve medical monitoring technology and services, we have grown and are now proud to be able to support Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso and look forward to providing their event with interactive activities for guests and immersive experiences throughout the evening.”
Additional support includes Clear Channel Outdoor who provided in-kind billboard advertising, Table Occasions, which will provide event decor and J&K Presents who will be providing the cocktail lounge entertainment experience for the event.
“Support from the El Paso community has been more than we could have hoped for,” said Andrea Tawney, Ph.D., associate vice chancellor for Institutional Advancement at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso. “Every dollar raised through sponsorships is going directly toward funding student scholarships, and businesses have gone above and beyond providing in-kind contributions to ensure we maximize the dollars serving our students.”
Also announced ahead of the celebration is the participation of acclaimed chef Giuliano Matarese of Mille Lire restaurant located in Dallas, Texas.
Chef Matarese has worked in prestigious restaurants in Sardegna, Veneto, Lago di Garda and New York, and has also appeared on top cooking shows, including “Chopped” and “Beat Bobby Flay.” He will join a collection of local chefs participating in the event, including Chef Yadira Perez of Anson11, Chef Raul Gonzalez of Rulis’ International Kitchen and Chef Jason Lucero of Ita Kitchen among others.
“The Italian way of cooking is very similar to that of the El Paso border; we pour our heart and love into handcrafted dishes that represent the best of where we come from,” said Chef Matarese. “The opportunity to participate in such a premier and momentous celebratory event for the city is an honor.”
For information on the “Red Tie Affair For A White Coat Occasion” celebration, visit the 10-year anniversary website . Also on the site is an opportunity for alumni of the Foster School of Medicine to share memories and experiences during their time as medical students.
TTUHSC El Paso’s “Red Tie Affair For A White Coat Occasion” event will be held on Friday, Feb. 28, 2020, in celebration of the Foster School of Medicine’s 10-year anniversary.
The event is sold out and all event proceeds will go toward medical student scholarships with a focus on recruiting students from El Paso and across West Texas who will remain or return to the region to address the physician shortage in our community.
The Foster School of Medicine was established to serve the mission of improving access to quality health care in the Borderland. The school opened its doors to an inaugural class of 40 students in 2009.
Since then, more than 400 students have graduated and continued their medical careers locally and across the nation.
Officials with Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso Friday announced a gift of $50,000 from Graham Bell, M.D., to the university’s Center for Neurogastroenterology and Gastrointestinal (GI) Motility to establish the Graham Bell GI Motility Fund for Excellence.
Dr. Bell, a San Francisco real estate developer and entrepreneur, has known center director Richard McCallum, M.D, since the two were teenagers in Brisbane, Australia. After graduating from medical school in Australia, Drs. Bell and McCallum completed their post-graduate training in the U.S. Dr. Bell sought a specialty in hematology and oncology while Dr. McCallum pursued a specialty in gastroenterology. The two have remained close friends for decades.
In addition to his role as Director of the Center, Dr. McCallum is professor and head of gastroenterology research and founding chair of the Department of Internal Medicine at TTUHSC El Paso as well as being an honorary professor at the University of Queensland, Medical School in Brisbane, Australia
“We hope to build on Dr. Graham Bell’s example of generosity and provide long-term, lasting support to the center,” said Dr. McCallum.
The center has a life-changing impact on its patients based on the scope and scale of diagnostic tests and therapies as well as GI motility research which is recognized regionally, nationally and globally. GI motility refers to the relationship of nerves and muscles to create movement within the digestive system. GI motility disorders can be associated with abdominal pain as well as be disruptive to those who suffer from them.
One example is gastroparesis, a serious digestive disorder that prevents or delays the stomach from emptying food. Gastroparesis often affects people with diabetes, which means the disorder has a particular impact in El Paso County, where up to 20% of adults have been diagnosed with diabetes.
Other causes of gastroparesis include viral infections of the stomach, damage to the vagus nerve, autoimmune, central nervous system disorders, as well as thyroid and adrenal gland problems. For reasons not well understood, gastroparesis affects women more than men, with a female to male ratio of 4:1.
It’s a condition that changed the life of El Pasoan Desirae Manzanares. After a couple of months of doctors not being able to figure out why she couldn’t keep food down and losing 30 pounds, Manzanares was diagnosed with gastroparesis. She sought treatment from Dr. McCallum at the center as essentially her “last hope.”
“I came in feeling kind of down, and I left feeling like I had an advocate,” Manzanares said of her initial meeting with Dr. McCallum. “I had no idea if the medicine was going to work. I had no idea if it’d be a week or a month or a year. But I knew I had someone on my side whom I trusted and who was going to exhaust every possibility.”
In a short time, Dr. McCallum was able to include her in a clinical trial of a medicine to treat gastroparesis. The medication worked and Manzanares was able to keep food down. Within a few weeks, she was back to eating one of her favorite foods – green chile – after months of a bland diet.
The relief that many patients feel and the improved quality of life after treatment at the center is profound, and many continue to express their gratitude for years after their treatment ends. Grateful for a restored quality of life, patients and their loved ones often ask how they can contribute to the center to help future patients. There is now a way for them to do that, thanks to the new fund established by Dr. McCallum’s old friend and medical school colleague, Dr. Graham Bell.
“It’s exciting to be able to contribute to something that will make a difference in the lives of patients,” Dr. Bell said of his gift to the center.
Teresa Adame, associate managing director in the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso, received the first-ever Sheri Pulis Outstanding Service in Research Administration Award.
The OSP assists faculty and staff with identifying, obtaining and maintaining funding for sponsored projects at the university.
Adame received the award at the 2019 Cayuse Round-Up, a research administration conference held annually by Cayuse, a research administration software company based in Portland, Oregon.
The award was created in honor of Sheri Pulis, an electronic research administration programs and business analyst in the Office of Research at the University of California-Davis who passed away in February 2019.
The award is given to research administrators from Cayuse customer institutions who embody Pulis’ spirited traits, including demonstrated service to the research community and a strong dedication to their institution.
Adame, who has over 20 years of experience in the research administration field, was selected as the first-ever award winner by a panel of Cayuse company leadership.
“I am passionate about research administration; it is a career that has allowed me to be a small part of something big – research. Research that has not only helped further science, but has also positively impacted our community’s health care infrastructure,” said Adame.
After leading her OSP team through an implementation of Cayuse 424, the company’s research grant proposal submission software, Adame successfully submitted TTUHSC El Paso’s first National Institutes of Health R01 federal grant proposal as a standalone institution within the Texas Tech University System.
Once Cayuse 424 was implemented, it was made available to the entire TTUHSC El Paso campus in September.
“Receiving this award not only highlights my accomplishments, but the accomplishments of the entire OSP and research information technology team,” said Adame.
On Tuesday, leaders from El Paso’s higher education and health care communities came together to mark two key milestones on the road to opening the Woody L. Hunt School of Dental Medicine, Texas’ first dental school in more than 50 years, at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso.
Officials first announced the approval of the school’s Doctor of Dental Medicine degree program by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), followed by the presentation of a $25,000 gift from El Paso dentist Dennis Care, D.D.S., establishing the Care Family Dean’s Dental School Discretionary Fund.
Richard Black, D.D.S., M.S., dean of Hunt School of Dental Medicine, and Richard Lange, M.D., M.B.A., president of TTUHSC El Paso, announced the THECB’s approval and Dr. Care’s gift during a news conference on the third floor of the university’s new Medical Sciences Building II, where the Hunt School of Dental Medicine will be housed.
Attendees were given a hard-hat tour of the area using virtual reality technology to see what the school and its Dental Learning Center will look like once construction is complete next year.
“With the board’s approval and Dr. Care’s gift to the school, we are another step closer to making our dream of a dental school in El Paso a reality,” said Dr. Black. “The new school will provide local young people with the opportunity to enter a rewarding profession and help address a critical oral health care need in the El Paso community.”
This is the first dental school degree program approved by the THECB for a new dental school, because the THECB did not exist in its
current form when the other three Texas dental schools were established.
The THECB’s approval on Oct. 24 came as TTUHSC El Paso’s Paul L. Foster School of Medicine celebrates its 10-year anniversary. The university is also home to the Gayle Greve Hunt School of Nursing and the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.
Through the Foster School of Medicine’s city-wide clinical practice, Texas Tech Physicians of El Paso, the health sciences center provides patients with high-quality clinical care in more than a dozen specialties.
“I am proud of everything we are doing to transform health care delivery and education in the Borderplex region,” said Dr. Lange. “Over the past decade, our campus has done more than produce a new generation of health care professionals; it has also changed the way people think about patient care and clinical research in El Paso.”
Local businessman and philanthropist Woody Hunt also spoke at the event.
“Knowing the great need we have in El Paso to provide quality oral health care for our community, it is very exciting to see it so close to reality,” Hunt said. “I hope that Dr. Care’s gift inspires even more members of El Paso’s community to become Friends of the Dental School and invest in this first-class facility.”
TTUHSC El Paso created the Friends of the Dental School to bring together local dentists and other community members who understand the need for improved oral health care in the Borderland.
The group, of which Dr. Care is a member, gets together for social events and updates on the school, helping to ensure a strong relationship between the local dental community and the soon-to-open school.
“I know how important it is for students to access both high-quality training opportunities and the equipment they need to run an effective and efficient dental clinic,” said Dr. Care. “I am honored to play a foundational role in building a culture of opportunity for El Pasoans to return home for dental school and stay to practice. I look forward to helping mentor the next generation of dentists, periodontists and dental hygienists.”
The fund established by Dr. Care’s gift will be used to support, at the dean’s discretion, projects and initiatives that will advance the school’s mission of alleviating the documented shortage of dentists within the El Paso and West Texas regions.
Dr. Care is a second-generation dentist in El Paso. His father, Ronald Care, D.D.S., has been a practicing dentist in El Paso for more than 40 years. Dr. Care noted his two-year-old son may choose to follow his father and grandfather in the dental profession.
“If he does, I’m glad he will be able to study close to home,” Dr. Care said.
Earlier this year, the Texas legislature passed legislation to make the Hunt School of Dental Medicine a reality at TTUHSC El Paso.
The school, scheduled to welcome its first class of students in 2021, will be the first dental school in West Texas, the fourth in the state of Texas and first on the U.S.-Mexico border.
Bharathi Gadad, Ph.D., research assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso’s Paul L. Foster School of Medicine, recently received a 2019 NARSAD Young Investigator Grant.
The grant was awarded by the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, originally called the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD).
Dr. Gadad was one of 200 new faculty worldwide who received the grant from the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation and will use it to assist in the development of her own independent research program.
She was awarded $70,000 to fund a study titled, “Functional Characterization of Neuron-Microglial Specific Markers in Post-Mortem Brain Subjects of Major Depressive Disorder.”
Dr. Gadad’s research aims to uncover risk factors for suicide and major depression by using an innovative bioengineering technique to culture specialized brain cells, known as neurons and microglia, from postmortem brain tissue. Dr. Gadad will study neuron-microglia interactions to better understand their role in brain dysfunction.
Residents of El Paso County experience higher rates of frequent mental distress than other counties in Texas, according to Healthy Paso Del Norte. Recent surveys show that an estimated 12.5% of adults in the county reported mental distress that lasted for an extended period of time.
In 2018, the El Paso County Office of the Medical Examiner reported 83 deaths due to suicide, a climb from the previous year. Individuals between the ages of 22 and 47 made up 62% of suicides, and suicide victims were most frequently male.
“I am honored to receive this award from the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation,” said Dr. Gadad. “It will help me immensely at this this early stage in my scientific career.”
Dr. Gadad looks forward to helping the community through research that could potentially lead to intervention and treatment for mental health issues. “The proposed research will have a great impact on the El Paso community since the subjects utilized in the study are from the U.S.-Mexico border region,” she said. “This will help us to unravel the risk factors for suicide and major depression.”
Students from the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine conduct screenings in the clinics where they volunteer, and faculty members carry out research to expand potential treatments.
In their efforts to raise breast cancer awareness and enable early detection, the American Breast Cancer Foundation (ABCF) and the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF)have provided ongoing support of the Foster School of Medicine’s Medical Student Run Clinic (MSRC).
The MSRC provides diagnostic, preventive and educational care to residents in the community of Sparks, Texas, just outside El Paso city limits.
In 2019, the NBCF awarded a $10,000 grant, and the ABCF a $7,500 grant, to the MSRC for a combined total of $17,500, which will provide screening and diagnostic mammograms and ultrasounds to the uninsured and underserved population in Sparks.
Through these joint efforts, it is expected that 90 to 100 mammograms will be given, and approximately 20% of those screenings will lead to follow-up testing with ultrasound and/or a diagnostic mammogram.
Both the ABCF and the NBCF strive to identify cases of breast cancer as early as possible so patients who test positive can be immediately referred for treatment.
Additionally, funding from both foundations will be used to provide health education to residents on overall breast health, preventive care, important signs and symptoms to watch for and discuss with health care providers, and how to properly conduct a breast self-exam at home.
Health-education discussions and materials are provided in English and Spanish.
Without funding from the ABCF and the NBCF, women in the Sparks community would have had little or no other means for screening, and diagnosed cases could have been missed until the disease progressed further.
Most recently, the Texas Medical Association Foundation awarded a $3,000 grant to the MSRC to increase breast cancer screening in the Agua Dulce colonia in East El Paso.
Volunteer students and physician faculty at the MSRC will provide free breast exams through a mobile mammography unit.
About 50 women will receive bilingual breast health education and 20 will receive free mammograms at the mobile mammography unit operated by Desert Imaging. These breast exam services would normally cost about $260 per patient.
“It’s important to continue our outreach efforts in the underserved areas of West Texas and bring services to those in need in their own communities,” said Maureen Francis, M.D., FACP, assistant dean for medical education at the Foster School of Medicine and a medical director of the MSRC. “Support from partnerships like these are critical in providing potentially lifesaving care to women who would otherwise have little or no access to this type of preventive care.”
The Foster School of Medicine established the MSRC in 2013, and the clinic has served more than 2,000 patients since then.
Nearly three dozen TTUHSC El Paso students volunteered to offer several free workshops around El Paso in recent weeks to teach community members how to use tourniquets to prevent life-threatening blood loss from injuries.
One of these Lone Star Survival Texas Tourniquet Training events took place at the Fountains at Farah in East-Central El Paso on October 18, a short distance from the Walmart where a mass shooting on Aug. 3 took the lives of 22 people and injured more than two dozen.
“It’s important for me to get the community to know these simple lifesaving techniques like tourniquet placement and CPR, because often the general public doesn’t know what to do,” said Tori Oakes, a second-year medical student at the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine.
This is the second year Oakes has trained community members in bleeding control through the Lone Star Survival program. She said participants, based on what they’ve seen on TV or in movies, often think stopping massive amounts of blood loss is as easy as grabbing a belt and tightening it on an arm or leg.
“You see what’s going on in the movies and it’s completely different,” Oakes said. “If you don’t have a tourniquet, it’s actually more important to place pressure on the wound than to ‘MacGyver it’ with a belt, because a belt actually doesn’t apply enough pressure and just continues to allow it to bleed.”
Tourniquet training includes four basic steps:
Identify heavy bleeding.
Hold direct pressure.
Apply a tourniquet if bleeding doesn’t stop.
A tourniquet can be purchased online for about $10 to $15. They are also included in some first aid and survival kits popular with campers, hikers and others who work and play outdoors.
Aaron Murillo-Ruiz, a first-year Foster School of Medicine student, said knowledge of bleeding control and tourniquet application is needed in urban environments, where car accidents are common, and, unfortunately, mass shootings seem to be on the rise.
The training is also a must for El Pasoans who enjoy hiking in the Franklin Mountains and other wilderness areas in the region, he said. A hiker who slips on a log and is cut by a sharp branch, or who experiences a severe fall resulting in a compound fracture, may need to stop life-threatening bleeding until help arrives.
“Applying a tourniquet is a relatively simple method that can be used any time someone is bleeding and less aggressive approaches (i.e., pressure alone) fail,” Murillo-Ruiz said. “The knowledge we are imparting on our community members is essential, because being prepared for an unexpected crisis can potentially be life-saving.”
The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) has awarded four new grants to the Texas Tech University System totaling over $6 million, including a $1.9 million grant to Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso.
TTUHSC El Paso’s prevention grant will go toward Tiempo de Vacunarte 2 (Time to Get Vaccinated Two), a cancer prevention program that focuses on cancers caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV).
The program is directed by co-principal investigators Jennifer C. Molokwu, M.D., M.P.H., an associate professor and director of medical student education in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at TTUHSC El Paso, and Jessica Calderón-Mora, Dr.P.H., a research instructor in the Department of Molecular and Translational Medicine’sCenter of Emphasis in Cancer and a clinical instructor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine.
The program will expand efforts to make HPV vaccinations available to uninsured or underinsured residents of El Paso, Hudspeth, Culberson and Brewster Counties.
HPV vaccines have been proven to be highly effective in preventing HPV infections, according to the National Cancer Institute. HPV is a group of related viruses, and infections from some types of HPV can cause cervical, anal, oropharyngeal, penile, vulvar and vaginal cancers.
Cervical cancer is most often caused by HPV. According to the NCI, El Paso County has a rate of 10.3 cases of cervical cancer per 100,000 females, significantly worse than the U.S. rate of 7.5 cases per 100,000.
Tiempo de Vacunarte 2 will create outreach across a network of 175 community sites, as well as expansion to new sites, including school districts, community centers, clinics, faith-based organizations, food banks, city/county services, local and state health departments, and other community-based organizations.
To date, CPRIT has awarded $2.4 billion in grants to Texas research institutions and organizations through its academic research, prevention and product development research programs. CPRIT has recruited 181 distinguished researchers, supported the establishment, expansion or relocation of 36 companies to Texas, and generated over $3 billion in additional public and private investment.
CPRIT funding has advanced scientific and clinical knowledge and provided 5.7 million life-saving cancer prevention and early detection services reaching Texans from all 254 counties.
In May 2019, the Texas Legislature approved a constitutional amendment for the Nov. 5, 2019 general election ballot to authorize an additional $3 billion in bonds for cancer research and prevention.
About 140 Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso students participated in community service projects in September as part of the university’s annual Corazón de Oro (Heart of Gold) community outreach event.
SGA President Albert Romero said events like Corazón de Oro help bring the university together through a shared spirit of philanthropy.
“It means a lot to students to take part in an event like Corazón de Oro,” Romero said. “The student population naturally wants to help others, and this event gives them that opportunity. As future health care professionals, we have to help the community in any way we can.”
Organized by TTUHSC El Paso’s Student Government Association, Corazón de Oro 2019 included students from all three TTUHSC El Paso schools — the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine, the Gayle Greve Hunt School of Nursing and the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences — in an effort to give back to the community.
The students volunteered at nine different sites, including the Center Against Sexual and Family Violence, the Salvation Army, YMCA, Candlelighters of El Paso and Compadres Therapy.
Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso and Peter Piper Pizza are teaming up to invest in scholarships for students at the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine.
“Peter Piper Pizza is proud to support Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso and their ongoing mission to improve the lives of those in the El Paso community,” said Kirk Robison, chairman and CEO of Pizza Properties.
The local franchise is contributing $25,000 to the Decade Scholarship as a major sponsor of TTUHSC El Paso’s “Red Tie Affair For A White Coat Occasion” celebration on Friday, February 28, 2020.
The event celebrates the 10-year anniversary of the Foster School of Medicine, which opened its doors to an inaugural class of 40 students in 2009. With help from community supporters like Peter Piper Pizza, the Foster School of Medicine is educating the future of health care and has graduated 422 students to date.
All event proceeds will go toward medical student scholarships with a focus on recruiting students from El Paso and across West Texas who will remain or return to the region to serve their community. The Foster School of Medicine was established to serve the mission of improving access to quality health care in the Borderland.
Peter Piper Pizza is also one of several local restaurants joining in the celebration by offering discounts for TTUHSC El Paso students and employees.
For information on the “Red Tie Affair For A White Coat Occasion” celebration, visit the 10-year anniversary website. Also on the site is an opportunity for alumni of the Foster School of Medicine to share memories and experiences during their time as medical students.
The Department of Emergency Medicine at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso plays a major role in preparing physicians and first responders for mass casualty incidents like the August 3 shooting at the Walmart in East-Central El Paso.
The attack killed 22 people and injured more than two dozen others.
Approximately every 18 months, the department conducts large-scale disaster drills as part of its three-year training program for emergency medicine residents. The department’s disaster drill in 2017 was based on an active-shooter scenario.
In April 2019, the department ran a two-day drill featuring a scenario involving trauma and toxicology: a train crash that unleashed a spill of hydrofluoric acid.
The drills typically bring together a wide range of participants, including residents training in other specialties, TTUHSC El Paso medical and nursing students, personnel from the El Paso Fire Department, and first-responder trainees from the community.
Middle and high school students from area schools have also participated in the drills, sometimes role-playing as simulated patients or training as part of their high schools’ first-responder programs.
“Physician residents and TTUHSC El Paso students have some opportunity during their training to see multiple patients, one after the other, in the emergency department, but it’s very rare that it is at the pace of a mass casualty incident,” said TTUHSC El Paso Professor of Emergency Medicine Stephen W. Borron, M.D., M.S., who helps organize the disaster drills.
“Being able to juggle multiple balls—keeping patients alive when you’re taking care of several patients at a time, and their conditions are changing very quickly—is a skill set that almost has to be learned outside the emergency department, because we just fortunately don’t see these kinds of incidents frequently,” Dr. Borron said.
TTUHSC El Paso Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine Scott Crawford, M.D., who works with Dr. Borron to organize the drills, said the exercises help emergency responders maintain focus and efficiency in an often-chaotic environment.
“One of the biggest benefits of (the drills) is that in a relatively controlled setting, they allow individuals to experience the challenge with communication and coordination of care between groups,” said Dr. Crawford, who also serves as director for the Training and Educational Center for Healthcare Simulation (TECHS) at TTUHSC El Paso.
Alejandro J. Rios Tovar, M.D., assistant professor and the associate trauma medical director for TTUHSC El Paso’s Department of Surgery, participated in disaster drills while completing his general surgery residency at TTUHSC El Paso from 2011 to 2016.
“I would always take the drills seriously as if they were real. The mass casualty drills help and it showed on the day of the shooting,” said Dr. Rios Tovar, who treated gunshot victims at University Medical Center of El Paso on Aug. 3. “Everybody knew what they were supposed to do.”
Now that the community has tragically experienced a mass-casualty incident that it hoped would never happen, the Department of Emergency Medicine will examine whether it can organize more frequent disaster drills, Dr. Borron said.
Dr. Crawford said the next drill likely won’t be based on an active shooter scenario because it could be emotionally traumatic for those that worked in emergency rooms on the day of the shooting.
Given the drills’ proven benefits, future events will surely include more participants from an array of academic departments, the physicians said.
“There needs to be even more interaction between physician residencies,” Dr. Borron said. “For example, it would be good for us to drill with the surgical department, the trauma residents, the radiology residents and the orthopaedic residents at a minimum; and maybe some of the internal medicine and pediatric residents. Almost every specialty comes into play in some way or other in a disaster situation.”