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School of Medicine and Health Sciences


Grand Forks, ND

July 18, 2014

As we continue efforts to grow the healthcare workforce to meet North Dakota’s various unmet or partially met healthcare needs, we need to adapt and grow as an institution. As I mentioned last month, administrative oversight for the various health sciences programs in the SMHS will now be provided by Dr. Tom Mohr, the new associate dean for health sciences. Partly as a consequence of the increase in class sizes associated with the Healthcare Workforce Initiative (HWI) and partly as a result of the programs’ own maturation, I’m now pleased to report that two of those programs will “graduate” from program status to departmental status. Similarly, the two current administrative leaders of the programs will become department chairs, reporting to Dr. Mohr. So I’m delighted to welcome the newly designated Department of Medical Laboratory Science and Department Chair Dr. Ruth Paur along with the Department of Physician Assistant Studies and Department Chair Dr. Jeanie McHugo to their new status within the School. The Histotechnology Program will become a unit within the Department of Medical Laboratory Science, and the Sports Medicine program will remain a hybrid one with its academic home in the Department of Family and Community Medicine but with ongoing close liaison and coordination with the health sciences enterprise. The two new departments will join the existing Departments of Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy in forming the foundation of the health sciences component of the SMHS, all under the administrative leadership of Dr. Mohr, who will report directly to me. As I mentioned, Dr. Mohr will now join Drs. Dorscher, Halaas, Mr. Eken, and me as members of the Executive Committee of the SMHS.

I am pleased with the growth, maturation, and contributions of our health sciences departments. As we continue to emphasize the importance of interdisciplinary approaches to healthcare education and clinical care delivery, it is only appropriate to ensure that the health science disciplines are on an equal footing with the medical sciences, and these administrative adjustments will help to ensure that. For the taxpayers and legislators who may be reading of these changes, it is important to emphasize that these improvements are being achieved at no incremental cost to the School, UND, or North Dakota. And the benefits undoubtedly will include enhanced cooperation, coordination, and, most importantly, an even better educational experience for our students. So congratulations to our new chairs Drs. McHugo and Paur, and congratulations to the faculty members in the two new departments whose hard work, dedication, and commitment to students made this change essential and possible.

I am pleased to welcome the fifty-two future healthcare colleagues who began their clinical studies at the Department of Physical Therapy’s Entrance Into Professional Service Ceremony last evening. They have embarked on a challenging yet rewarding phase of their education in caring for patients.

In closing, I’d like to share an experience that I had earlier in the week that highlights one aspect of living in North Dakota that is so special to Susan and me—the offer to help a neighbor in need. I was driving home after a meeting in Fargo, and traffic was stopped despite a green light. It turns out that an elderly woman had been crossing the street, but because of her cane and various ailments she couldn’t make it across the street before the light changed. Traffic came to a halt to allow her time to finish crossing the street. But what was striking was something that did occur, and something that didn’t. What did occur was that a man on the other side of the street immediately came to the woman’s aid to help her cross the street. He took her arm, and guided her safely to the sidewalk. Even after she was safely across, I could see that he continued to assist her toward her destination. So what didn’t occur? Not a single one of the cars honked their horn! Now can you imagine a similar scenario in other places? I suspect the lady would have been left to fend for herself, and the street likely would have been a hubbub of honking horns. Thank you North Dakotans for watching out for our neighbors. And let’s hope that as North Dakota grows, we don’t lose the values and principles that make this such a special place!

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

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Shelby Beyer

     Medical Technologist

Shelby Beyer began employment at the Center for Family Medicine–Minot as a medical technologist on June 23. Her supervisor is Stacy Askvig.

Kenneth Davis

     Student Services Coordinator

Kenneth Davis began employment as a student services coordinator in the Center for Rural Health on July 16. His supervisor is Jacque Gray. 

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Sun to present seminar on July 28

Deqiang Sun, PhD, postdoctoral research associate, Division of Biostatistics, Dan L. Duncan Cancer Center, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology at Baylor College of Medicine, will present a seminar titled "Epigenome analysis of hematopoietic stem cells," on Monday, July 28, at 11 a.m. in the Clifford Haugen Lecture Hall at the SMHS in Grand Forks.

Sun is a candidate for the bioinformatics faculty position in the Department of Basic Sciences.

All are welcome to attend.

Jennifer Hershey
Administrative Secretary
Department of Basic Sciences

2014 UND Epigenetics and Epigenomics Symposium is October 2

UND faculty, staff, and students are invited to attend the Third Annual Epigenetics and Epigenomics Symposium to be held by the University of North Dakota on Thursday, October 2, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Ralph Engelstad Arena, 1 Ralph Engelstad Drive in Grand Forks. This event will bring together experts from fields such as dynamics of chromatin structure and function; epigenetics and gene expression; genomics; computational biology; and medicine. A reception will be held after the conference.

Students will have an opportunity to present posters based on their research in the fields of epigenetics and epigenomics. This event aims to promote interaction and collaboration among researchers in the Dakotas and beyond, and provide opportunities for learning about cutting-edge tools, approaches, and resources to advance epigenetics as it applies to human disease and development.

Keynote speakers will be

  • Paula Vertino, PhD, codirector, Cancer Genetics and Genome Instability Program at Winship Cancer Institute, Emory University.
  • Jocelyn Krebs, PhD, director, Alaska INBRE, and professor of biology, University of Alaska, Anchorage. 
  • Frank Slack, PhD, professor, molecular, cellular, and developmental biology, Yale University.  

Please register now for the conference. Registration is free. Please register by September 12, 2014.

The UND Epigenetics and Epigenomics Symposium is sponsored by

  • SMHS Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) for Epigenomics
  • SMHS Department of Basic Sciences
  • UND Research, Development, and Compliance

For additional information, please contact Archana Dhasarathy, PhD, assistant professor, Department of Basic Sciences, (701) 777-4285.

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Doctor of Physical Therapy Class of 2016 begins clinical studies at the UND SMHS

Fifty-two physical therapy students, members of the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) Class of 2016, started the clinical studies portion of their journey to become doctors of physical therapy this week at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences. The students received white coats at the Entrance Into Professional Service Ceremony held at the Alerus Center on July 17.

The students, 16 men and 36 women, range in age from 21 to 36 years, with the average age of 23. Many are from North Dakota, and most completed their pre-PT coursework at UND.

Keynote speaker was William A. Hatherill, chief executive officer of the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy. Hatherill has over thirty years of experience in health care strategy and management and has spent the last 15 years as CEO of the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy. His broad and deep experience includes expertise in organizational design and management, feasibility analyses, and operations, enabling companies to improve their productivity, quality, and competitiveness. Before joining FSBPT, Hatherill held executive positions, including president and corporate operations officer, in a variety of organizations, including Texas Tech University Health Science Center, American Medical International, Republic HealthCorp, and St. Paul HealthCorp.

For a list of students and their hometowns as well as additional information, please read more.

Project Ishim—Recovered medical equipment for developing countries

Project Ishim is an endeavor of a private, unfunded organization composed of volunteers whose collective efforts are directed at transferring discarded medical supplies to developing countries. There is no charge of any kind for our services or materials. 

Shown in the photo are Thomas Wuo, (second from right) vice president of United Nimba Citizen’s Council (UNICCO) North Dakota, and his team as they prepare to leave Grand Forks with a load of medical supplies they received from Project Ishim. UNICCO is a nonpolitical, nonsectarian, and nonprofit organization of Liberians from the ethnic groups comprising peoples from the political subdivision of Nimba County. 

Project Ishim was formed in 1992 in response to the situation in Ishim, Russia, the Sister City to Grand Forks. After visiting Ishim as a member of a medical delegation, I realized that what medical equipment we were disposing of was extremely usable in rural Russia. We were able to collect and send unused medical supplies from Grand Forks to Ishim, saving both cities money. 

As of April 1, 2014, Project Ishim has recovered more than $13.5 million worth of usable discarded medical supplies. This is about 130 tons of supplies. The total cash output of only about $5,000. Of course, the charitable value of this material is incalculable! As an unanticipated benefit, this project avoided the incineration or landfill costs of a number of tons of "waste" with a savings to our local health system. In the mid-1990s, our local health system did an analysis, and it was estimated their cost savings was over $20,000 per year. Currently, we estimate that this savings is at least double that amount per year. We have also collected supplies from the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences, ND STAR Center (Simulation, Teaching and Research for Health Education) at the SMHS, and the UND College of Nursing and Professional Disciplines. 

We recover disposable supplies such as sponges, gowns, drapes, gloves, sutures, drains, and many other items that are discarded because they are considered "unsterile" when the closed package has fallen to the floor or when the package is "opened" but there has been no contact with a patient. They can be re-sterilized, but are no longer under warranty by the manufacturer and may not be used in the United States. We also recover many used pieces of medical equipment, such as surgery tables, exam tables, cribs, isolettes, and cardiac monitors.

In order to prevent possible black-market sale or other diversion of equipment, Project Ishim works through U.S.-based charities and shippers to ensure the most efficient distribution of materials.

Since 1992, we have been able to send supplies to Belarus, Bolivia, Chile, Haiti, Honduras, India, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Liberia, Madagascar, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Philippines, Russia, Tanzania, Uganda, Ukraine, and a number of other countries in Africa. We have done this through many small humanitarian aid groups. Plus we have taken large shipments to Global Health Ministries, sponsored by the Lutheran Church, Hope for the Cities, the African Web Net, or other humanitarian aid organizations, and they ship the supplies to people in developing countries that they work with. 

For more information about Project Ishim, please contact Tim Shea, coordinator, (218) 779-2659, or Mike McCarty, coordinator, (218) 779-1202.

Tim Shea
Simulation Coordinator, ND STAR Center
Medical Operation Director, SIM-ND (Simulation in Motion-North Dakota) Mobile Simulation Program

"Infertility"—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 "Infertility." All of the webcasts are archived for later viewing.

Social Media: Health Matters

On our Facebook page, Dean Wynne answers questions about health risks for young athletes 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: Margaret L. Williams new dean, UND College of Business and Public Administration

University of North Dakota Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Thomas DiLorenzo has announced that Dr. Margaret L. Williams, interim dean and professor of management at the School of Business at Wayne State University in Detroit, Mich., has been named dean of UND’s College of Business and Public Administration. Her first day on campus will be Aug. 7. She succeeds Dr. Dennis Elbert, who will return to a faculty role within the College this fall.
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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Deadline today! UND Neuroscience COBRE Pilot Grant Program 2nd Round of Commercialization Proposals

As part of our COBRE Phase III grant on neurodegenerative diseases, we are again inviting single- and multi-PI pilot grant proposals. The purpose of this pilot grant program is very specific: to encourage and facilitate neuroscience research leading to commercialization of research discoveries. The goals of this neuroscience pilot grant program are to assist researchers so that they may achieve measures of success, including the following:

  • Becoming first-time inventors.
  • Developing intellectual property.
  • Making invention disclosures based on research findings.
  • Filing and awarding patent applications.
  • Establishing R & D partnerships with industry partners based on disclosed technologies.
  • Developing prototypes.
  • Licensing patent rights for commercialization of products.

As part of our efforts to enhance the sustainability of the neuroscience community at UND and to benefit the public, we are pleased to directly assist UND neuroscience faculty members who have an interest in the commercialization of their research findings. Renewal of previously funded commercialization pilot grants is allowed, but new applications must be submitted as described in this announcement.

For more information and for applicant instructions, please read more.

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