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School of Medicine and Health Sciences


Grand Forks, ND

October 31, 2014

I’ve invited the senior leaders of the School to contribute their thoughts in the form of a guest column. Each month a different member of the leadership team will, in their own words, contribute some observations on a topic of their choosing. This month's guest columnist is the founding Gilbertson Endowed Chair of Neurology Jau-Shin Lou, MD, PhD, MBA.

My first year in North Dakota

My wife Chun-Mei and I moved to North Dakota from Portland, Oregon, in November 2013. The winter of 2013 was deemed to be the coldest winter over the last 30 years, notable for quite a few sub-zero days by December. However, we were pleasantly surprised by how quickly and seamlessly we were able to adapt. My daughter Susan, who lives in Portland, and my son Jason, who lives in Los Angeles, came to visit us for Christmas. As we were walking to the parking lot at the airport, Susan and Jason were muttering about how cold it was. I found myself exclaiming, “What do you mean it is cold? It’s only zero degrees!” Susan stared at me in disbelief, “Seriously, Dad? Listen to yourself. You’ve already transformed into a North Dakotan!” I was so proud of myself at that moment. Ironically, since last winter and spring (if there was a spring), we have enjoyed at least five times the number of sunny days in North Dakota than we could have experienced in rainy Portland. Throughout the winter, Chun-Mei continued to marvel at the remote car starter every time she used it. She thinks that it is the cleverest invention for humankind, ever.

In my time here thus far, I have met with many leaders of our School. They generously gave me their time to get me up to speed. I have visited the Bismarck and Minot campuses. There, I met with campus deans and most neurology clinical faculty (unfortunately, I missed a couple of them, because they were out of town). I have also had the opportunity to personally meet every single neurology clinical faculty member in Grand Forks and Fargo. I am touched by our clinical faculty’s enthusiasm and dedication to improving education for our medical students—our future generation of physicians.

North Dakota has a very severe shortage of neurologists. According to a supply-and-demand analysis of the neurology workforce conducted by the American Academy of Neurology, North Dakota needs 41 neurologists, but we only have 21 neurologists in the state now. This dearth of neurologists is expected to worsen over the next two decades because of the aging population in North Dakota. An aging population has a higher incidence of neurological conditions and demands more neurology care. According to the 2010 census, there were 101,168 North Dakotans between the ages of 60 and 79 and 180,781 between the ages of 40 and 59. North Dakota, therefore, will have an almost 80% increase in its population between the ages of 60 and 79 by 2030. At the SMHS, we are taking actions to address this shortage in neurologists to ensure that North Dakotans will get high-quality neurology care well into the future.

First, we formed a student-run Student Interest Group in Neurology (SIGN) to kindle our students’ interests in choosing neurology as a career. SIGN will invite speakers to discuss different aspects of neurology as a career throughout the year. These sessions are available to all of our medical students. We believe more students will choose neurology as a career if they have more information available to them. I have also individually met with several third-year and fourth-year medical students who are choosing neurology as a career. Statistics show that many of our medical school graduates return to North Dakota to practice after they finish their residency training elsewhere.

Second, we have started a two-week neurology clerkship to improve neurology education for our medical students. A clerkship is a course of clinical training that third- and fourth-year medical students take in a medical specialty. As inaugural director of the neurology clerkship, I have had the privilege of working closely with many of our third-year medical students. So far, 22 students from different campuses have finished their two-week neurology rotation and taken the examination from the National Board of Medical Examiners. I am very proud to report that they did well on the exam despite our rotation being only two weeks (versus the national average of four weeks for neurology rotations). I attribute the excellent results to our hardworking students and devoted faculty. Students who enjoy their neurology clerkships are more likely to choose neurology as their career. Our next step is to work with the course committee to expand the neurology clerkship to three or four weeks. I encourage those students who are interested in neurology as a career to do an additional four-week neurology elective during their senior year. Ultimately, we hope to establish a neurology residency in North Dakota to train our own neurologists. This will require collaborative efforts among the state government, the UND SMHS, and the healthcare systems in the state.

I am proud to report to you that our neuroscientists and neurologists are collaborating to develop more translational research at the SMHS to translate research findings from the laboratory into treatments. With our aging population, more North Dakotans will suffer from neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. There are currently no cures for these conditions. One of the best ways to improve our understanding and to ultimately find the cures for these conditions is to encourage the interactions among clinicians who see these patients firsthand and scientists who work in the laboratory to explore the basic mechanisms of neurodegeneration. Through these collaborations and translational research, we can improve the quality of life for all North Dakotans.

Jau-Shin Lou, MD, PhD, MBA
Dr. Roger Gilbertson Endowed Chair of Neurology

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Austin Thiesen

     Database Administrator

Austin Thiesen will begin employment as a database administrator in Information Resources on November 3. His supervisor is Nasser Hammami. 

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Gaultney presents graduate student research seminar on November 5

Robert Gaultney, a graduate student in the Microbiology and Immunology Program in the Department of Basic Sciences, will present a research seminar titled “Sticking it to the (hu)man: Lyme spirochete interactions with host extracellular matrix” at noon on Wednesday, November 5, in Room 5510 at the SMHS in Grand Forks.   

All are welcome to attend.

Lisa Brown
Education Coordinator
Department of Basic Sciences

Greenberg is biomedical science guest speaker on November 6

Miriam Greenberg, PhD, professor of biological sciences at Wayne State University in Detroit, will present her research seminar titled "The Enigmatic Functions of Cardiolipin Remodeling" at 1 p.m. on Thursday, November 6, in Room 3933 at the SMHS in Grand Forks.

All are welcome to attend.

Lisa Brown
Education Coordinator
Department of Basic Sciences

Support National Rural Health Day on November 20

The Center for Rural Health invites you to join us in promoting rural health in North Dakota during National Rural Health Day on November 20. There is no cost to support National Rural Health Day. We encourage your organization to be creative in your participation. The National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH) website has some ideas to get you started! Learn more by visiting the website at

For more information, contact Kylie Nissen, senior project coordinator, (701) 777-5380.

Save the Date! 2015 Dakota Conference on Rural and Public Health

2015 Dakota Conference on Rural and Public Health
June 3–5, 2015
Grand International Hotel, Minot, North Dakota

Reserve your room today!
Toll Free: 800.735.4493

Visit the Dakota Conference website for further details.

The Dakota Conference is facilitated by the

  • Center for Rural Health at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences 

The conference is supported by

  • Altru Health System
  • College of Nursing and Professional Disciplines (UND)
  • Department of Family and Community Medicine (UND SMHS)
  • North Dakota Public Health Association
  • North Dakota Rural Health Association

Contact Kylie Nissen

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APA awards Presidential Citation to Jacque Gray

American Psychological Association President Nadine Kaslow, PhD, ABPP, awarded the APA's Presidential Citation to Jacque Gray, PhD, research associate professor and associate director of indigenous programs at the SMHS Center for Rural Health and the Department of Pathology. Kaslow presented the citation to Gray at the National Latino/a Psychological Association Biennial Conference on Saturday, October 25. The APA recognized Gray for her “groundbreaking scholarship with Native and rural communities, leadership of landmark programs and national organizations, mentoring of Native students and colleagues, and courageous advocacy efforts.”

Gray is from Oklahoma and is of Choctaw and Cherokee descent. She directs the Seven Generations Center of Excellence in Native Behavioral Health and the National Indigenous Elder Justice Initiative. She works with the National Resource Center on Native American Aging, National Institute of Mental Health Outreach Partnership, ND IDeA (Institutional Development Award) Network of Biomedical Research Excellence, Death Investigator Training Grant, and the UND American Indian Health Research Conference. Gray also directs the Native Health Research Team and mentors over 25 Native students on research in Indian Country.

The APA noted in the citation that “She has worked tirelessly with tribes throughout Indian Country. Her research has advanced our understanding of suicide prevention, rural veteran health services, spirituality and health, psychometrics, and wellness and nutrition. Dr. Gray has an impressive leadership career as past-president of the Society of Indian Psychologists, consultant for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Disaster Technical Assistance Center, and member of APA’s Committee on Rural Health and the National Steering Committee on Health Disparities. Recipient of the Native Research Network’s Excellence in Training Award, she worked on Maori and indigenous suicide prevention in New Zealand.” 

Gray is a "Featured Psychologist" for the APA.

ND STAR trains new volunteers to participate in healthcare simulations

The UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences’ North Dakota Simulation, Teaching, and Research Center (ND STAR) recently launched a new volunteer opportunity for undergraduate students interested in careers in the health sciences. The volunteer program was created to train volunteers to actively participate in simulation scenarios. ND STAR held its first orientation and training sessions for the volunteers, known as the Sim Squad, throughout October, with 15 students participating in the training.

The goal of the program is to increase the level of realism during simulations at ND STAR. The Sim Squad members will portray the role of a healthcare professional, such as a nurse or paramedic for implementation of the treatment plan within the simulated environment. During training, the Sim Squad members are provided the basics of potential treatments that they may be asked to provide, such as apply oxygen, give an ordered medication, or finding equipment for the health professional learner.

The first simulations at ND STAR to utilize the Sim Squad will begin in early November. ND STAR is excited to expand this role and the added realism it will provide for our learners.

Andrew Lundstrom
SIM Education and Mobile Specialist

Health screening appointments still available on November 5

There are still FREE health screening appointments available on Wednesday, November 5, in the Vennes Atrium at the School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Grand Forks. This is a wonderful benefit for UND staff, faculty, and your spouses or partners.

You get your cholesterol, glucose, blood pressure, and BMI checked as well as personal attention from a registered nurse and wellness coach about your health.  

There are still prime appointment times open, including 7:10 a.m. through 10 a.m. Just click here to make an appointment.

Kim Ruliffson, MPA
Coordinator of Work Well
University of North Dakota

Scrubs Academy now taking applications for 2015

The Fourth Annual R-COOL-Health Scrubs Academy is taking place June 15–18, 2015, at the University of North Dakota campus in Grand Forks. It is open to students who have completed Grades 6–8. The academy encourages middle-school students from across North Dakota to pursue a career in healthcare by participating in hands-on activities related to a variety of healthcare professions.

Applications are due February 18, 2015. 

"Unusual Donor Derived Transplant-associated Infections—Just How Unusual?"—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. November's presentation is "Unusual Donor Derived Transplant-associated Infections—Just How Unusual?" All of the webcasts are archived for later viewing.

Social Media: INMED students and program

On our Facebook page, read the Grand Forks Herald article about our INMED students and program.

Also on our Facebook page, Dean Wynne discusses how bad smoking is for you and staph infection 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 will accept Presidential Excellence Award

President Robert Kelley is being recognized as one of the best higher education leaders in a large region of the United States, according to one organization. Kelley, in his sixth year at UND, will be awarded the Presidential Excellence Award at the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) IV-West Conference Nov. 11–13, in Albuquerque, N.Mex., which happens to be where Kelley grew up.
The theme of this year’s conference is “Reaching New Heights, Lighting the Future.”
Since the awards ceremony is in Albuquerque, it provides him with a nostalgic opportunity to reconnect with his roots and reflect on the success he’s achieved since leaving The Duke City. There, Kelley attended preschool at Sunset Mesa Day School, Inez Elementary School, Monroe Junior High School, and Sandia High School, where he graduated in 1961.
Kelley’s father preceded him in the education workforce as director of the Zimmerman Library on the University of New Mexico (UNM) campus from 1949 to his retirement in 1973. Kelley served as a faculty member of the UNM School of Medicine from 1968–1997, and chaired the Department of Anatomy for 17 years.
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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Research ND grant applications due November 21

The Division of Research & Economic Development wishes to remind research faculty that the Research North Dakota (RND) program has a deadline of November 21, 2014, for its fifth cycle of applications. There are subsequent deadlines, for example, February 20, 2015.

Applicants are also reminded that they must have a binding agreement concerning the disposition of intellectual property that may be created or used in the project with their private sector partner before the application is submitted. The IP Commercialization & Economic Development (IPCED) office has a template agreement for such use. The North Dakota Department of Commerce has stated that, due to the availability of funds, it is likely that they will not be accepting Venture Grant applications for the 2013–2015 biennium.

Please contact Michael Moore, Associate Vice President, IPCED, at 701.777.6709 for further questions. Further information may also be obtained at

Michael F. Moore
Associate Vice President for Intellectual Property Commercialization & Economic Development

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