For Your Health
For Your Health

News from the University of North Dakota School of Medicine & Health Sciences

From the Dean: Frank Low, Wacipi, and Dean’s Hours

Yesterday the SMHS held its 44th annual Frank Low Research Day. Named in honor of the former SMHS professor of anatomy who came to UND in the 1960s and pioneered a series of new techniques using the electron microscope, Frank Low Research Day is the culminating event of the academic year for many area researchers working in the biomedical and health science fields. We had over 150 participants, including students, postdoctoral trainees, and faculty members who came together and presented oral and/or poster presentations on a wide range of basic biomedical, health sciences, translational, and clinical topics.

The guest speaker for this year’s conference was Susan Amara, Ph.D., scientific director of the Intramural Research Program at the National Institute of Mental Health, who gave the keynote presentation focused on the “intimate” regulatory relationships between G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) signaling and neurotransmitters. Dr. Amara also met and spoke with many of our investigators, and I had the pleasure of joining her and other colleagues at dinner yesterday evening.

The event served to highlight the importance of basic, translational, and clinical research in the day-to-day management of patients. We continue to learn and thus continually improve the care we give to patients. An old and somewhat comical aphorism encapsulates this ongoing process: “I know that half of what I’m teaching my students will be shown to be wrong; I just don’t know which half!” Now I don’t think that the figure is half, but the concept is correct; as we do further experiments and studies, we will need to change our management strategies accordingly.

Here is a simple example of a common problem in my field of cardiology. A not uncommon finding as people age is an irregularity of the heartbeat called atrial fibrillation (AF). We used to think that low-dose aspirin provided protection (at least to a degree) against the most serious complication of AF, which is stroke. But further studies over the years have shown that when one also considers the bleeding risk from aspirin, there is no good evidence that in most patients the benefit of aspirin in AF outweighs the risk.

So thanks to all who participated in Frank Low Research Day, and to all the students, faculty, and staff involved in the ever-growing research enterprise at the School – keep up the good work!

Finally, here’s a “heads up” on a few events upcoming next week:

  • April 16 – DakMinn Blood Drive 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in room E311 to recognize Medical Laboratory Professionals Week
  • April 17 – A virtual presentation on Artificial Intelligence in healthcare by Dr. Richard Van Eck, associate dean for teaching and learning and the Monson Endowed Chair of Medical Education
  • April 18 – “A collaborative approach to addressing social determinants of health,” a noon Dean’s Hour presentation by SMHS Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Dr. Victoria Haynes (Room E101)
  • April 18-19 – The annual Indigenous Trauma and Resilience Research Center COBRE Symposium to be held at the UND Memorial Union Henry Family Ballroom
  • April 19-20 – UND’s Wacipi (celebration of life) Powwow
  • April 20 – Indians Into Medicine (INMED) celebration for graduating INMED medical students in the class of 2024 (just prior to the grand entry at the afternoon Wacipi Powwow)

A lot going on for sure! Did I say in last week’s column that things at the School were quieting down as we approach the end of this academic year? Maybe I should rephrase that statement to indicate that things will be settling down with the end of this semester a little over a month from now!

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