Innovation that’s worthy of recognition

February 2, 2016

Healthcare Heroes UNTHSC

By Alex Branch

The announcement that UNT Health Science Center and Texas Christian University will create a new MD school together reflected the institutions’ shared vision of teamwork in education and caregiving that will benefit patients.

This innovative project, so crucial to the future of health care in Fort Worth, is why both universities will be awarded the 2016 Vision Award by Fort Worth Business.

The magazine also is recognizing four UNTHSC employees as 2016 HealthCare Heroes on Feb. 3 at the Fort Worth Club.

The Vision Award

Plans for the MD school call for a philosophy of teamwork among physicians and other health care providers. The goal is to prepare the next generation of physicians to meet health care needs in Texas and beyond, as well as increase educational and research opportunities at both institutions.

“Our students will become physicians who focus on their patients and learn to deliver care as part of larger health care teams,” UNTHSC President Michael R. Williams said.

The unique collaboration allows TCU and UNTHSC to utilize existing educational, research and training facilities and faculty at both universities, minimizing the privately funded start-up costs. The MD school plans to accept its first class in 2018.

Rebecca Cunningham

Assistant Professor in the Center for Alzheimer’s and Neurodegenerative Disease Research

Dr. Cunningham’s research is advancing the boundaries of discovery in Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases — all while fighting her own personal health battle.

She excels in the laboratory, publishing ground-breaking research and studying how testosterone, sleep apnea and oxidative stress work together to promote brain inflammation and increase the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.

After being diagnosed with thyroid cancer, Dr. Cunningham founded the LID Life Community, named for the low iodine diet that thyroid cancer patients must follow for two to four weeks before radiation treatment. The community has grown to 2,300 members in less than a year, providing invaluable comfort and information to other people with thyroid cancer.

Barbara Harty

Geriatric Nurse Practitioner, Center for Geriatrics

Harty is known for providing extraordinary care to geriatric patients and vital support to their families.

She had over 900 patient encounters last year in assisted-living centers and nursing homes, monitoring patients’ health, listening to their stories and improving their quality of life.

By also serving as a clinical research coordinator, Harty plays an important role in advancing UNTHSC ground-breaking research into Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and cognitive impairment. She is a source of wisdom for medical students interested in geriatrics.

D Magazine has named her a recipient of its Excellence in Nursing Award in geriatrics.

Pam McFadden

Associate Vice President of PACE

Pam McFadden does not treat disease, perform surgery or diagnose illness ­– but patients across North Texas and beyond get safer, better care because of her.

As head of the nationally recognized Professional and Continuing Education office, McFadden leads a team that identifies and provides innovative educational opportunities for health professionals in a wide variety of fields.

McFadden led projects that helped reduce unnecessary hospitalizations related to pulmonary disease, saving more than $16 million in health expenditures, and made it possible to supply immunizations to 8,400 at-risk children.

Jamboor K. Vishwanatha

Director of the Texas Center for Health Disparities

Dr. Jamboor Vishwanatha is a national leader in health care research.

An accomplished bench scientist, his innovative research investigates genetic markers that predict the development of aggressive prostate and breast cancers, and discovery of nanotechnology-based therapies to treat them.

For the past 10 years, Dr. Vishwanatha has organized the Texas Conference on Health Disparities, which draws national experts to focus on health issues crucial to North Texas.

He also is a leader with the National Research Mentoring Network responsible for developing and recruiting a diverse group of mentors and mentees into the biomedical and behavioral workforce. He has a leading role in designing mentorship networking and professional development opportunities that will help diversify the biomedical workforce.

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