A Vision for the Future: Advance to Top Quartile

By: Sheila Champlin

Steve J. Schwab, MD Steve J. Schwab, MD

Vision has been defined as “the art of seeing what others can’t.”  In his more than three years as executive dean of the UT College of Medicine, Steve J. Schwab, MD, has consistently practiced that art.  During his tenure as executive dean, he has actively sought and enthusiastically seized new opportunities to advance the college and its myriad departments on three major campus sites across the state.  Undoubtedly those abilities contributed to his appointment as chancellor for UTHSC, a role he assumed in June 2010.

Although he has shifted into the leading administrative role at UTHSC and will transition from the position as executive dean, Dr. Schwab is committed to tenaciously pursuing a long-term, strategic vision for the College of Medicine (COM).  That vision is to advance the UT COM into the top quartile of academic medical institutions in the country.

Dr. Schwab recently spoke with Medicine magazine about his vision.

Editor:  The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) represents all 135 accredited U.S. and 17 Canadian medical schools.  Where does the UTHSC College of Medicine (COM) currently rank? 
Dr. Schwab:  At the moment, the Health Science Center is slightly better than mid-pack in terms of total all-source funding — clinical, state, tuition and research.  In terms of education, we’re top quartile already in most areas.  We’re rapidly moving forward in our clinical practices and are on track to top quartile.  The research enterprise needs investment in order to step up.  Recovery dollars will help us jump start that enterprise.  This will be a key area of focus. [Editor’s note: The “recovery dollars” reference alludes to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, often referred to as stimulus funds.]

Steve J. Schwab, MD

Editor:  What elements must be present to qualify an institution as top quartile? Since AAMC doesn’t maintain a list that ranks its members that way, can you comment on what is needed?
Dr. Schwab:  To be in that group clinically, you need at least eight major areas of clinical excellence.  Right now we only have five.  Clinically it also requires a volume of care performed as compared to other members. The growth in all of our faculty practices but especially UTMG has been very encouraging and has us near the volume goal.  In research we also need to double our NIH and all-source research funding to get into the top quartile.  We have to go from $50 or $60 million in NIH funds — $100 million all research source — each year to double those numbers, and we have to sustain those gains for two to three years.

In education, the key measures are the depth and breadth of your medical and residency programs, and your accreditation and board pass performance.

Educationally and clinically we are in striking range. Our College of Medicine is fully accredited. We have a medical school class of 165 and our students perform well on national board exams.  In advanced training we have more than 1,100 residents and fellows in 84 fully accredited programs with strong specialty board passage rates.

In research we need a financial commitment to growth. I have to extend kudos to Dr. Ken Brown and his vision for the new Translational Science Research Building and the potential new Clinical Building. Suddenly with a new building there, we can make an investment that irretrievably commits us to the science.  We will build it, and they have to come. 

Steve J. Schwab, MD

Editor:  Would you please identify the areas of excellence that you think will drive UTHSC into the top quartile and sustain our presence there?
Dr. Schwab:  Those nine areas of focus are the Hamilton Eye Institute, trauma, transplant, maternal-fetal medicine and obstetrics, musculoskeletal, neuroscience, children’s cardiac services, adult cancer and adult cardiovascular.

Right now, I think we perform very well in five of these key areas.  In two of them we are doing well, and I think we can get close to top quartile.  And the others are aspirational targets where we have some work to do.

Adult Cancer

The five areas that I believe are already top quartile are the Hamilton Eye Institute, which combines clinical care with vision science; our Trauma Institute at The MED [Regional Medical Center at Memphis], which is one of the best in the nation; our top-10-rated Transplant Institute that we run in cooperation with Methodist University Hospital [MUH]; our Neuroscience operation at MUH, Le Bonheur and The MED, in cooperation with Semmes-Murphey neurosurgery, which combines powerful basic science — neurobiology and pharmacology — and clinical science with outstanding clinical care; and our Musculoskeletal area, which includes both a long-standing affiliation with Campbell Clinic for orthopedics and our well-recognized expertise in rheumatology, plus now we have committed to musculoskeletal science based in orthopedics and medicine.  These areas can all be classified as having attained and sustained national stature.

Adult Cardio Care

Maternal-fetal medicine and obstetrics are areas where we think we can move forward to top quartile.  Dr. Mari and Dr. Dhanireddy are helping us get there.

Plus we think we can get close in children’s cardiac services.  We’ve paired Dr. Knott-Craig and Dr. Chin together to create a Children’s Cardiac Institute, and they are making significant progress.

Our aspirational targets are adult cancer and adult cardiovascular care.  I think we have a lot to do in cancer research, and we’ll work in novel ways with Dr. Reed, Dr. Pfeffer and Dr. Yunus at UTCI to move ahead.

Our Department of Physiology, which is doing world-class science under Dr. Tigyi’s direction, is committed to advancing toward our goals.  Their work lays the foundation for a number of specialties like cardiovascular care. Our recently opened Regional Biocontainment Lab opens up new research opportunities, and our affiliations in genetics with the Oak Ridge National Lab through our joint Center for Integrative and Translational Genomics are emerging.

When we talk about the path to the top quartile, I think we need to focus on our scientists and their research portfolios.  There’s also the national stature of the clinical enterprises and, there’s the educational portfolio.

Editor:  Why top quartile?  How did you arrive at that goal?
Dr. Schwab:  You have to set a goal that you can achieve.  Unattainable goals are just pie in the sky.  We’re going to say since we’re an AAMC medical school — like Harvard, Duke, Johns Hopkins — we are going to compare ourselves to all AAMC Medical Schools. We are not going to juggle the rankings and only compare ourselves with state-funded institutions of a certain size in an attempt to create a higher ranking.

The organizations with the huge endowments and that own hospital systems to feed their research funding are the ones that stay high in these rankings. They include Johns Hopkins, Duke, and now Vanderbilt to name a few.  Public schools like the universities of Michigan, North Carolina and Virginia are big contenders even though their state budgets were decimated too because they have private-school-level endowments and/or own their own hospital systems.  The state funds them like we’re funded now but they have a well-managed university-owned hospital system.  That’s a powerful advantage.

Editor:  What are UTHSC’s main obstacles in getting to the top quartile and staying there?
Dr. Schwab:  It’s all about funding.  Can we raise the revenues to get where we have to go through discretionary funding, clinical practices and alignment with hospitals?  Can we successfully partner with our affiliated hospitals to the extent that we can realize financial gains?  Can we create joint ventures that create revenue streams?

We need our alumni to recognize the importance of their role in moving us forward.  We need them to make an ongoing commitment to fund excellence in education.  We’re there as far as students are concerned.  We have very good pass rates, totally in sync with the top schools.  In fact, with a 95 or 96 percent pass rate for medical students, we are above the national average for medical schools.  It’s hard to get 1 or 2 percentage points above the mean of 95 percent but we consistently do.



Hamilton Eye Institute

Hamilton Eye Institute

Program:  Hamilton Eye Institute

Position:  Consistently ranks among the top 10 providers across the nation in ophthalmic clinical care

Leader:  Barrett G. Haik, MD, FACS, chair, UTHSC Department of Ophthalmology and Hamilton Professor in Ophthalmology

Mission:  “To prevent blindness through patient care, research and education … the institute is poised to fulfill this mission for Tennessee and the nation over the coming decades.”

Hamilton Eye Institute

Founded:  2004 – Dr. Haik first envisioned HEI nearly 15 years ago and has served as its leader since the institute opened.

Current Team:  28 physicians and eye specialists

Core Strength:  As a premier eye center providing an advanced level of vision care, the institute’s team manages more than 40,000 outpatient visits annually including off-site clinic locations at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, The Regional Medical Center at Memphis and Methodist University Hospital.  The faculty trains 12 residents, three fellows and more than 150 medical students each year, as well as additional students from other universities who participate in elective clerkships at the Hamilton Eye Institute.

Unique UTHSC Resources:  Through the UTHSC Telehealth Network, HEI physicians collaboratively treat and manage patients in 16 countries including Brazil, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Ireland, Jordan, Lebanon, Mexico, Morocco, Philippines, Venezuela, and Vietnam via bimonthly live teleconferences and Cyber-Sight® telecommunication mentorship.



Musculoskeletal

Musculoskeletal

Program:  Musculoskeletal

Position:  The UT-Campbell Clinic Department of Orthopaedic Surgery is one of the nation’s leaders in clinical practice and training specialists in sports medicine, pediatric orthopedics, general orthopedics, total joint replacement, foot and ankle, trauma, hand, and spine orthopedics.

The UTHSC Division of Connective Tissue Diseases (Rheumatology) is world renowned for its discoveries related to arthritis and connective tissue diseases.

Mission:  To be recognized as a leader in teaching and research in musculoskeletal disease and to provide unsurpassed patient care.

Founded:  1924 – orthopedics; 1972 – connective tissue diseases

Leaders:  S. Terry Canale, MD, chair, UT-Campbell Clinic Department of Orthopaedic Surgery; L. Darryl Quarles, MD, associate dean for research and head of the Bone and Mineral Research Team; and Arnold Postlethwaite, MD, chief, Division of Rheumatology

Focus:  Research being conducted by the Division of Connective Tissue Diseases (in the Department of Medicine) is funded by 12 grants from federal sources that total $2.6 million annually and span an array of basic and translational topics including genetic control of arthritis, osteoporosis and fibrosis, regulation of type II collagen autoimmunity in RA, matrix metalloproteinase, chondrocyte biology, monocyte transdifferentiation to fibroblasts, immune tolerance and effect of interrupted sleep on autoimmune arthritis.

Substantial federal and private funding has consistently supported research in the Division of Connective Tissue Diseases (Rheumatology) on the elucidation of the structure and biology of collagens (the major structural proteins of the body) and their role in arthritic and fibrotic diseases.  This large body of research has been translated from the bench and preclinical animal models to the clinic with recent testing of novel collagen-based therapies in clinical trials in two autoimmune musculoskeletal diseases, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and systemic sclerosis (Scleroderma).

Bone-related research has focused on epidemiology of osteoporosis and fractures in patients with spinal cord injury and mechanisms by which kidney diseases affect bone metabolism.  To widen the scope of research in musculoskeletal diseases, UTHSC recently set aside funds to recruit and support an accomplished scientist through an endowed chair (The Hyde Chair in Musculoskeletal Disease) who will bring additional unique strengths to the musculoskeletal research enterprise.

Musculoskeletal

Current Team:  UT-Campbell Clinic specialists include 41 physicians and more than 40 residents who provide clinical care through more than 9,500 clinic visits per month.  The Division of Connective Tissue Diseases/Rheumatology is composed of six adult and two pediatric rheumatologists, six PhD faculty and three fellows engaged in research and/or clinical practice.  The Bone and Mineral Research team from the Department of Medicine is composed of five scientists.

Core Strength: Campbell Clinic is recognized as a world leader in sports medicine, pediatric orthopedics, joint replacement, orthopedic oncology, physical medicine and rehabilitation, and surgery of the hand, hip, foot, knee, shoulder and spine.  For more than 100 years, Campbell Clinic has been a leading figure in orthopedics, a course immediately set by its founder, Dr. Willis C. Campbell when he opened his clinic in 1909.  Dr. Campbell organized the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at UT in Memphis, established the first orthopaedic residency program in 1924, and co-founded the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), serving as its first president.

New Initiatives: Dr. Quarles and his team have recently submitted a stimulus package application for funding support of the Hyde Chair as well as for the creation of the Musculoskeletal Orthopedics Dental Research Institute (MODI) at UTHSC.  “We have a unique opportunity to establish an interdisciplinary program in musculoskeletal diseases that brings together several groups from within and outside the university to use the stimulus package funds to their greatest benefit by developing a self-sustaining program funded by research grants, contracts, and philanthropic efforts in the community,” Dr. Quarles said.  “In the proposal, we presented a new organizational structure and business model that bridges various UTHSC departments, InMotion and Bioworks, bringing them into a functional consortium to develop synergistic research initiatives and private-public partnership that can serve as a model for supporting other research programs at UTHSC and in the community.” 



Neuroscience

Neuroscience Institute

Program:  Neuroscience

Position:  In most recent rankings (2008) of NIH funding, the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology (Chair, Matthew Ennis, PhD) was 13th overall among all U.S. medical school Neuroscience Departments, and 8th among peer public medical schools.  Neurosurgery (Semmes-Murphey) — both adult and pediatric — is continually in the top rankings (Chairs, Jon Robertson, MD, and Rick Boop, MD). Children’s Neurology (Chair, James Wheless, MD) is a leader in seizure disorders in childhood and is coupled with a strong Adult Neurology group (Chair, Bill Pulsinelli, MD).

Leader since 2006:  William E. Armstrong, PhD, UTHSC professor of Anatomy and Neurobiology, and director, Neuroscience Institute

Mission:  “To promote neuroscience research throughout UTHSC through its support of graduate and postdoctoral education, seed funds for recruitment, research equipment, symposia, a weekly seminar series, and community outreach programs such as those associated with Brain Awareness Week.”

Founded:  1985

Neuroscience

Current Team:  More than 90 investigators who span all basic science departments at UTHSC including Anatomy and Neurobiology, Molecular Sciences, Pharmacology, Pharmaceutical Sciences, and Physiology, as well as the clinical departments — Neurology, Neurosurgery, Ophthalmology, Pathology, Pediatrics, Psychiatry and Surgery.  The team also includes strong affiliations with health care partners including Methodist University Hospital, Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and the University of Memphis.

Core Strength:  Research diversity with groups studying a range of areas that encompass: neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s Disease; mental and addictive disorders, especially the consequences of gestational drug abuse; and neurogenetics and development.  Additional, historically strong groups cover the excitable properties of neurons, sensory information processing, and the visual system. These groups foster collaborative teams working within and across departments and colleges to develop multidisciplinary approaches to the study of brain function.

Another core strength is the Neuroscience Imaging Center, where neuroscientists can discover the anatomy of brain areas using shared equipment such as electron, light and confocal microscopes, and the computer-assisted quantification of neuron number, location and morphology.  This imaging center is critical for understanding basic brain function, as well as its impairment from injury or disease.

Musculoskeletal

Key UT Collaboration:  In 2009, Robert Williams, PhD, received the prestigious Governor’s Chair in Computational Genomics, which seeks to strengthen collaborations with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). Such collaborations allow UTHSC scientists access to world-class resources at ORNL in energy, computer and materials science. Access to these resources is key to the campus plan to move into the top quartile in research.

Animals with defined genetic alterations are at the forefront of neuroscience research. Dr. Williams spurred the development of unique inbred mouse populations, allowing precise genetic dissection of the brain and behavior.  His vision has been a pivotal element in making UTHSC one of world’s leading institutions in neurogenetics research. 



Transplant

Transplant

Program:  Transplant

Position:  Ranks in the top 10 liver transplant programs in the country

Leader since 2006:  James D. Eason, MD, UTHSC professor of surgery and program director of the Methodist University Hospital (MUH) Transplant Institute

Vision:  “To continue to be one of the top tier transplant programs with emphasis in innovation and excellence in clinical transplantation as well as research”

Founded:  1968 in UT Bowld Hospital, Methodist assumed management of UT Bowld Hospital and its transplant program in November 2002, and UTHSC continues to staff and operate the transplant institute

Current Team:  140 total; 10 physicians

Core Strength:  “Teamwork, along with an emphasis on excellence in patient care, teaching and research.  We are a true multidisciplinary and multi-institutional unit that includes transplant surgeons, transplant nephrologists, transplant hepatologists, plus professionals trained in transplant nursing and allied health, and doctors of pharmacy.

Transplant

“Training fellows is another real strength of the institute.  We train three fellows per year ... one in surgery, which is a two-year program, one in hepatology which is one year, and one in nephrology which is also one year.”

The UTHSC Contribution:  “Strong support that has made this all possible, especially on the academic side.  The university has made a commitment to excellence and support in recruiting as well as academic excellence.  That, and the pivotal partnership with MUH, has enabled us to become a top-tier program.”





Trauma

Trauma

Program:  Trauma

Position:  UTHSC physicians operate three of the state’s six Level 1 Trauma Centers treating nearly 12,000 cases annually, which places UTHSC trauma centers among the top facilities in the nation by volume.  For the past 25 years, UTHSC trauma centers have been among the world leaders in research advances in trauma care.

Memphis Leaders:  Martin A. Croce, MD, UTHSC professor of general surgery, and chief, Division of Trauma and Critical Care; and Timothy C. Fabian, MD, UTHSC professor and chairman, Department of Surgery

Mission:  To provide around-the-clock access to advanced life-saving care for the most severely injured patients of the state and region, while simultaneously training generations of trauma clinicians and researchers who will make future breakthroughs in trauma and critical care.

Designated Level 1 Trauma Center:  1985 – Elvis Presley Memorial Trauma Center in The Regional Medical Center at Memphis; 1987 – UT Medical Center, Knoxville; 1988 – Erlanger Health System, Chattanooga

Trauma

Current Teams:  Memphis – Eight trauma surgeons and team members treat 4,500 cases annually; Knoxville – Six trauma surgeons and team members treat 3,700 cases each year; Chattanooga – Five trauma surgeons and team members treat 2,800 patients a year.

Core Strength:  Teamwork that brings patients back from the brink on a regular basis.

Life-Saving Assets:  The state of Tennessee, using criteria developed by the American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma (ACSCOT), designated all three UTHSC facilities as Level 1 Trauma Centers.  The ACSCOT determines the criteria that separate a Level 1 Trauma Center from the typical hospital ER or a lower level trauma unit.  All three UTHSC Trauma Centers include:

  • Surgical capability 24/7/365 – A typical trauma team includes a general surgeon, neurosurgeon, orthopedic surgeon, radiologist, anesthesiologist, and trauma nurses.
  • Clinical research conducted and published.
  • Medical education offered.
  • Public education promoted.


Adult Cancer

Adult Cancer

Program:  Adult Cancer

Position:  The Center for Cancer Research (CCR) is the Mid-South’s only adult cancer research facility.

UT Cancer Institute (UTCI) is a partnership between UTHSC and Boston-Baskin Cancer Group that combines research and teaching capabilities with patient care from the Mid-South’s largest cancer physicians group.

Leaders:  Lawrence M. Pfeffer, PhD, director, Center for Cancer Research, Muirhead Professor and vice-chair, Department of Pathology; Furhan Yunus, MD, chief medical officer, UT Cancer Institute, and interim chief, Division of Hematology and Oncology; and Guy Reed, MD, Diggs Alumni Professor and chair of the Department of Medicine

Vision:  To develop a premier, patient-centered cancer center that provides integrated, cutting-edge care, and to foster research to improve cancer treatment and prevention.

Founded:  CCR – 2005; Dr. Pfeffer was charged to bring together well-funded investigators from the various colleges with a general interest in cancer research to discuss being housed in the Cancer Research Building, which opened in 2007

UTCI – 2001; Partnership organized to develop a clinical infrastructure and a critical mass of clinical faculty to establish a regional comprehensive clinical cancer center.

Current Teams:  CCR –15 principal investigators from medicine, dentistry and pharmacy, and some 50 other scientists

UTCI – Nearly 200 employees in 10 locations throughout Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi

Core Strength:  CCR – “Our multidisciplinary research approach and a general openness to share resources, expertise and knowledge with others.  This general philosophy of group science fits well with the modular concept of the building that has [32] laboratories without walls, which breaks down the barriers between investigators.” – Dr. Pfeffer

UTCI – Sees 60,000 patients per year with 3,000 being new.  Has six multidisciplinary teams [malignant hematology, thoracic, breast, gentourinary, head and neck, and gastrointestinal oncology], providing clinical cancer care while conducting disease-specific cancer research. Conducts 40 open cancer clinical trials at any given time and trains 12 fellows annually to excel in research and patient care.

In conjunction with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, UTCI is a member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), a not-for-profit alliance of 21 of the world’s leading cancer centers.  NCCN develops clinical practice guides for the treatment of cancer; its guidelines are the world’s standard for providing cancer care.

FUTURE Plans:  CCR – Recently formed specific working groups in skin, oral, brain, breast and urological cancer, as well as in experimental therapeutics to facilitate establishment of a successful cancer center.  The short-term goal of these groups is to encourage interactions between basic and clinical investigators in order to enhance translational research.  Some of the drugs and molecular diagnostic and prognostic tests that are presently in the laboratory stage may be brought into the clinical setting.

UTCI – Short-term goal is to develop a regional comprehensive cancer institute.  Obtaining National Cancer Institute (NCI) designation as a comprehensive cancer center remains the long-term goal.



Adult Cardio Care

Adult Cardio Care

Program:  Cardiovascular Physiology and Cardiology (Medicine)

Situation:  Cardiovascular disease and stroke kill more Americans than any other disease, and the impact is far greater when one considers those disabled, requiring long-term care, and institutionalized. The costs of acute care are enormous, and prolonged care for those surviving incidents is even more daunting.  Tennesseans have among the highest incidents of cardiovascular disease and stroke in the country.

Mission:  To reduce the morbidity and mortality from cardiovascular disease through outstanding cardiovascular research, patient care and educational programs.

Position:  Division of Cardiovascular Physiology, Department of Physiology – Cardiovascular research has been a strength of UTHSC for decades and is one of two major focuses of the Department of Physiology.  Our faculty members are international leaders in this area. The UTHSC Department of Physiology (Chair, Gabor Tigyi, MD, PhD) ranks fourth nationally in extramural funding in its discipline. Particular focus areas include cerebrovascular physiology and stroke, perinatal cerebral circulation, vascular smooth muscle cellular/molecular biology, ion channels and cell signaling.

Division of Cardiovascular Diseases, Department of Medicine – Particular focus areas include heart failure research, vascular and cardiothoracic surgery, interventional cardiology, heart rhythm disorders and our cardiology training program.

For cardiovascular specialists in both physiology and medicine, a key goal is to increase collaborations between basic scientists and clinical faculty with the intent of speeding the translation of basic cardiovascular research into new methods of treatment and prevention.

Leaders:  Since 2007 – Charles W. Leffler, PhD, professor and director, Cardiovascular Renal Center, Department of Physiology; Since 2008 – Guy Reed, MD, Diggs Alumni Professor and chair of the Department of Medicine

Founded:  Physiology – 1928; Cardiology (Medicine) – 1968

Current Researchers:  Cardiovascular Physiology – 14; Department of Medicine, Division of Cardiovascular Diseases – 16

Core Strength:  In addition to further developing a premier cardiovascular research effort, we envision establishment of a multidisciplinary, internationally recognized Cardiovascular Institute to provide outstanding training for the next generation of scientists, physicians and teachers who will make new discoveries that provide novel avenues for prevention, treatment and cutting-edge clinical care to Tennesseans.

Integration of our efforts will open new avenues for extramurally supported research and will provide unique opportunities for interdisciplinary training for medical students, graduate students, allied health students, residents and fellows.  It will also provide a platform for collaboration with biotech start-up and other commercial interests that seek to transform research discoveries into new medical products.
           



Neonatology Maternal Fetal

Neonatology & Maternal-Fetal

Programs:  Neonatology and Maternal-Fetal Medicine

Position:  The Sheldon B. Korones Newborn Center is the oldest NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) in the area and one of the first few in the country, established in 1968.

The Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM) and the Maternal Fetal Institute were established in 2008 to augment the long-standing health care efforts of the Obstetrics and Gynecology (OB/GYN) Department.

Leaders:  Since 2005 – Ramasubbareddy Dhanireddy, MD, chief of the Division of Neonatology
Since 2008 – Giancarlo Mari, MD, chief of MFM and director of the Maternal Fetal Institute; since August 2009 – chair of OB/GYN

Vision:  Neonatology – To improve comprehensive delivery of care to high-risk newborns in this region, and to develop public health initiatives with county and state government agencies to reduce infant mortality in Memphis and surrounding areas.
MFM – To expand its capability to positively impact maternal and fetal health both regionally and statewide.

Current Teams:  Neonatology – Has 10 full-time faculty members and one part-time, with a fully accredited fellowship program and five fellows. Patient care is also supported by several neonatal nurse practitioners and neonatal nurses. Pediatric, med-peds and family practice residents also rotate through the Newborn Center to gain clinical experience.

MFM – Has seven full-time faculty members, with a fully accredited fellowship program and one fellow. An additional fellow joined the team in summer 2010. Patient care is also supported by a number of perinatal sonographers, nurses, nurse practitioners, and genetic counselors.

Neonatology Maternal Fetal

Core Strength:  Neonatology – In the 1960s, Dr. Korones took up the challenge to establish a Level 3 NICU in Memphis to fight the extremely high infant mortality rate.  Currently the UTHSC faculty manages two Level 3 NICUs in the city, one at the Regional Medical Center at Memphis (The MED) and the other at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital.  Together these Newborn Centers have a total 98-bed capacity.  Over the past 40 years, these units have served more than 45,000 newborns.

MFM – The Fetal Therapy Center at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital is a state-of-the-art interdisciplinary program providing integrated care by a team that includes MFM specialists, neonatologists, pediatric radiologists, pediatric cardiologists, and pediatric surgeons, among others.  The MFM team recently expanded its services to provide exceptional subspecialty care to women in the region.  The Center for High Risk Pregnancies at Baptist Hospital for Women is an outreach program that draws from the surrounding cities and states.

Looking to the FUTURE:  “Over the next few years, we plan to recruit additional faculty members to develop new research programs and obtain more extramural funding for research.  We also plan to maintain an active fellowship program and possibly expand it.

“The new NICU at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital is being built with 60 new beds and will help to improve comprehensive delivery of care to high risk newborns in this region.” – Dr. Dhanireddy
[Editor’s note: Le Bonheur built a new $340 million hospital adjacent to its current facility near the UTHSC campus in Memphis.  The new hospital held its grand opening on June 15 and will begin serving patients in December.]

MFM – “The MFM Division plans to continue its expansion in patient care, education and research through the hiring of several faculty members, training of additional fellows, and by securing funding to support existing and future studies that will hopefully lead to better patient outcomes in the entire state of Tennessee.” – Dr. Mari



Pediatric Heart Institute

Pediatric Heart Institute

Program: Pediatric Heart Institute

Position:  The Pediatric Heart Institute serves a three-state area: West Tennessee, East Arkansas and North Mississippi.  Services provided by the institute include the diagnosis and treatment of congenital defects, arrhythmias, and acquired diseases of the heart in the fetus, infant and child.  Adults with congenital heart defects also receive cardiac care through the institute.

Established as a partnership between the UTHSC, UT Medical Group and Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, the Pediatric Heart Institute combines research and teaching capabilities with patient care. The institute works in tandem with the Maternal/Fetal Centers at Le Bonheur and at The MED to diagnose and manage cardiac problems occurring during the fetal period.  The institute also provides cardiac services for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and collaborates with the hospital on clinical and basic science research.

Leaders:  Since 2007 – Thomas K. Chin, MD, medical director of the Pediatric Heart Institute and chief of pediatric cardiology; and Since 2008 – Christopher Knott-Craig, MD, surgical director of the Pediatric Heart Institute and chief of pediatric cardiovascular (CV) surgery

Vision:  To provide accessible, full-service, patient-centered care that is unsurpassed in quality.

Founded:  2007

Current Teams:  Pediatric Cardiology – 13 cardiologists and cardiac intensivists, including specialists in diagnostic and interventional catheterization; echocardiograms in fetuses, infants and children; arrhythmia and cardiac electrophysiology, exercise physiology, cardiac intensive care, adult congenital heart disease
Pediatric CV Surgery – Three surgeons with expertise in repair of congenital heart defects, pediatric heart transplants, hyperhydrosis

Pediatric Heart Institute

Core Strength:  “Our team of cardiologists and surgeons is composed of physicians who have been recruited from essentially every major medical center across the country.  The strength of our program is due to the diversity and expertise offered by each individual physician, the collective experience offered by the group, and to the ability of our group to work in a cohesive manner,” Dr. Chin said.

“We have successfully provided comprehensive pediatric cardiac services to a three-state area by establishing a strong tertiary care center and academic teaching hospital – Le Bonheur, The MED and St. Jude; by maintaining a network of eight out-patient satellite clinics, and by developing an extensive telemedicine program throughout the areas we serve,” he observed.

“The surgical program has grown and developed rapidly under Dr. Knott-Craig’s leadership.  This growth is demonstrated by the increase in the volume and complexity of cases – more than 360 major procedures last year – the exceptional outcomes, and the low morbidity and mortality,” Dr. Chin explained, adding, “The perioperative care was enhanced by the opening of a ‘stand-alone’ cardiac intensive care unit two years ago, and the recruitment of a team of cardiac intensivists and cardiac intensive care nurses.

“Our academic mission is exemplified by our pediatric cardiology fellowship program, which includes six fellows.  The physicians completing training in our organization have been extremely well prepared and have obtained faculty positions in major academic programs,” Dr. Chin stated.

FUTURE Plans:  The Pediatric Heart Institute is expected to relocate to the new Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital facilities in December 2010.  The new hospital will house a 10-bed cardiac intensive care unit and a hybrid catheterization lab, allowing joint surgical/interventional catheterization procedures. Non-invasive imaging will be enhanced with new, state-of-the-art cardiac MRI equipment and facilities.  The institute’s leaders also anticipate re-establishing a pediatric heart failure and transplant program in the near future.