Week 21: Memories on Memorial Day

For most of you, I hope that you had a chance to get some rest, enjoy time with family over the Memorial Day Weekend and hopefully not overeat or get too badly sun-burned. For those who were on-call or assigned to clinical duties, let me thank you for your service to our patients. I also know that some of you are working on grants, seeing that I received requests for letters of support, and even provided feedback on a couple of specific aims pages. Wishing you every success! Sadly, this weekend is clouded by the recent spate of mass shootings in the USA and the particularly tragic event in Uvalde Texas where 19 little children lost their lives alongside two of their teachers. Today I approved and will be signatory to a statement to be issued by the Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine, in my role as president of the Association of Professors of Medicine, calling for meaningful legislative action to reduce firearm related injury and death. There is a part of me that is pessimistic, but we should never not stop advocating for policies that will promote the health and safety of our communities.

This week, I had the opportunity to visit several of our clinics in the South Bay.  I also hosted the second of three wellness town halls, with colleagues who practice in the South Bay. My knowledge of LA County geography is rapidly expanding, as prior to these visits there was a part of my brain that was oblivious of everything on the 405 south, after the exit to LAX. I was pleased to meet colleagues who live and work in Torrance, Redondo Beach, Palos Verdes and surrounding neighborhoods and to see your commitment to serving the patients in your communities.


Pictured above with Dr. Abel (from left to right): Teo Soleymani, MD, Katie Hu, MD, Myeshia Strozier, MSO II, Didi Mwengela, MD, Yesenia Portugal, MA, Brenda Luna, LVN, Nicole Bryant, Hospital Assistant III, Jacqueline Alvarez, Sr. Vocational Nurse, Patricia Quinn, MSO II.


Pictured above: UCLA faculty and staff attending the department of medicine's wellness town hall in Torrance, CA on May 25, 2022.

Thank you, Dr. Dianne Cheung, one of our endocrinologists in Torrance, for sharing with me your innovative tele-cytology program. The program is one of a few in the country providing a reliable and timely approach for patients to get results from their thyroid biopsies. Pictures below:

First row: FNA procedure room and set-up

Second row: Diff quick staining and cytotechnologist for the day, Yong Ying reading adequacy with cytopathologist. UCLA Chief of Cytopathology Dr. Jian Yu Rao zooming in for rapid on-site reading

I was also pleased to learn of a poster that will be presented by one of our medical students, who spent time with Dr. Cheung in the Torrance clinic. Here is an excerpt from the note that Dianne sent me:

“I wanted to send along to you a poster that my fabulous MS4, Alisse Singer, Class of 2022, is submitting as a late breaking abstract to ENDO SOCIETY 2022.  Alisse Singer rotated with me as an MS1 at the UCLA Health South Bay Endocrinology office for the Ambulatory Preceptorship rotations.  She astutely noticed I saw a lot of “skinny Type 2 DM”.  

Fast forward to her MS3 year, she reached out asking if she can do a data analysis of our South Bay population. We worked together for the last 1.5 years working on this IRB approved project – and she has done an amazing job.  

And attached are the findings from her analysis. She was accepted by ENDO Society late breaking abstracts, and this is the poster she is submitting.  She will be presenting virtually.”

Congratulations Alisse! Great to see that our community sites are not only delivering best in class care but are also serving as training sites for future physicians. Alisse, I heard that you matched to UCSD for Internal Medicine residency, we will be watching though for your application for endocrinology fellowship (no pressure).

One theme that has recurred in two town halls is the need for faculty in the department to have a clearer understanding of the benefits that the department provides as it relates to maternity and paternity leave, and how this compares with other UCs and other physician groups in Southern California. It is clear that we need to do a better job in communicating what these benefits are.  We will be summarizing these policies and sending them out to all faculty and will work with HR to make them easily accessible through our DoM intranet. You can also access the UC system's policy on leave of absence here which provides a framework for a leave.

Our residents are graduating this weekend, having completed three years of training in our diverse training programs. Some of you are staying at UCLA to obtain subspecialty training. Some are joining us as faculty either as hospitalists or primary care physicians. Others are moving on to other institutions, or elsewhere in California or the USA. I will share a summary of our graduates comings and goings next week. I have lost track of how many certificates of completion of training I have signed as I paced myself to limit the risk of repetitive motion injury.  But as I looked at each name, I am sure that there is a rich story of what brought you to UCLA and what you will take away from here. The department is proud of your accomplishments, grateful for your service, particularly during the pandemic and we are confident that you will wave the Bruin flag high, no matter where your journey next leads.

At this week’s Department of Medicine Executive Committee (DMEC) meeting, we celebrated the receipt of ~ $185M in new grant funding for which we received notices of award during the month of May! We will compile a 6-month list of new awards and share these with the department at the end of the next month. But I couldn’t wait to give you a preview of the tremendous success of your colleagues in competing for and securing research funding. Our engine of research and innovation charges forward. However, we have opportunities to ensure that our early and mid-career faculty will continue to receive the support that they need to remain competitive in their research endeavors.



I wrote this sitting in the sun. Not on the beach though, just my front porch.

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