I am delighted to welcome you to a pilot newsletter, Letters to Tinsley. Letters is for you, for all who trained in our residency program, which was named the Tinsley Harrison Internal Medicine Residency Program in 2011 in honor of the Chair who set our Program on the path to greatness.  Many thanks to our current Chief Residents, who compose and edit Letters – Mallika Mundkur, Editor-in-Chief, and Contributing Editors DJ Daly, Brita Roy, and Win Williams. We hope you enjoy this newsletter and urge you to send us your suggestions for future issues.

I am also delighted to introduce myself as the new Chair of the Department.  I have loved getting to know your Department, which I joined September 1.  I trained at UCSF, where I served as Chief Resident under Holly Smith, a legendary chair and key advisor to Claude Bennett when he led our Department.  Our Department has one of the finest traditions in American medicine, and it is poised for exceptional growth. 

My personal goal for the Department is that it will be the most fun Department in the country to learn medicine, to practice, and to pursue breakthrough research.  This goal begins with having a great residency, and a great residency begins with its alumni and the work you do.  I am deeply committed to doing all I can to support our Program Directors, our faculty, and our Chief Residents in continually enhancing our program to provide exceptional training.  I look forward to meeting as many of you as possible, and my door (Boshell 420) is always open to welcome you back to UAB.

-Seth Landefeld, M.D.
Chairman of Medicine

Effective July 1, 2012, I had the privilege of becoming the program director for our residency program.  I am honored to continue the tradition of excellence in medical education for which UAB is nationally known, and to build upon the wonderful tradition in medical education established by Dr. Dismukes and Dr. Heudebert. 

As the accreditation requirements change (again!), our residency program has never been stronger.  We remain one of the top tier Internal Medicine Residency Programs in the country and our geographic recruitment of trainees expands each year.  We are developing electives in Patient Safety, Women’s Health, Disparities, and Medical Education.  Next year, we will add a Global Health Track to our long standing Primary Care Track (director, Dr. Alan Stamm) and Women’s Health Track (director, Dr. Erin Snyder).  We continue to have one of the best Medicine-Pediatrics residency programs in the country, under the direction of Dr. J. R. Hartig (former UAB resident and Med-Peds CMR 1996-2000).  

We remain committed to preserving our core values of excellence in medicine – valuing patient ownership, clinical reasoning, and professionalism. To quote our first Chairman of the Department of Medicine, Dr. Tinsley Harrison, we believe “no greater opportunity, responsibility, or obligation can fall to the lot of a human being than to become a physician.”  Please come visit or send an email ( to update me on your personal and professional accomplishments.  I look forward to hearing from you and advancing our Department of Medicine’s longstanding commitment to excellence for educating our future physicians. 

-Lisa Willett, M.D.
 Program Director

CobbsOn June 26, 2012, the UAB Tinsley Harrison Internal Medicine Residency Program held its first annual Legacy Dinner at the home of Professor Emeritus Dr. C. Glenn Cobbs. Some 35 rising senior residents and 10 current and former UAB faculty shared the evening of fellowship and reflection on the role of the physician.

Three generations of UAB resident graduates, including faculty who trained directly under Dr. Tinsley Harrison, spoke about his lessons, values and mentorship, and described how the core values of our profession remain present and relevant in today’s training environment.


For those who know Mike Wells, an image of the soft-spoken, red-headed teddy bear of a guy comes immediately to mind.  Mike completed residency in Internal Medicine in 2008.  Since that time, he has been Chief Resident of Internal Medicine, a Pulmonary Fellow, and is now an Assistant Professor in Pulmonary Medicine.  Shortly after starting his faculty position, the life of Mike and research mentor Mark Dransfield changed drastically with the acceptance a manuscript by The New England Journal of Medicine.  In the September 3, 2012 issue of NEJM, Drs. Wells and Dransfield report a groundbreaking observation. In patients with COPD the strongest predictor of exacerbation and hospitalization in two multicenter cohorts was a pulmonary artery larger than the ascending aorta on CT scan (having a PA:A ratio >1).  Since the publication of this article, they have been invited to speak at numerous institutions locally and internationally.

What gave you the idea to do this research?

There had been an article published a few years ago— if you had a COPD exacerbation before, you were at risk for future events. I was trying to come up with a better model for who these people are. I think that’s where the idea came from.

MyBoys3Think about your training at UAB.  You will probably recall gifted teachers and skilled clinicians, people who dazzled you with their breadth of knowledge, technical skills and diagnostic acumen.  With a little more reflection, however, you might sense that there was much more that contributed to your professional development. The concept of the "hidden curriculum" has received much attention in medical education circles, and there is no doubt that a lot of acculturation occurs during the transition from layperson to physician.1,2  There are substantial negative connotations associated with this notion of the hidden curriculum and we would do well to examine carefully the counter-productive aspects of medical culture and tradition that we mindlessly propagate.  On the other hand, there may be useful, even formative, learning experiences that come about not as the result of overt efforts but rather by serendipity.

ColeAdam Cole graduated from University of Transylvania in 2006, Magna cum laude. He was able to balance a heavy college workload with the busy schedule of a college athlete and played on the Men’s Varsity Basketball team for four years.  Adam later attended the University of Kentucky College of Medicine in Lexington Kentucky, was elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha society in 2009 and graduated from medical school in 2010 when he chose to join the Internal Medicine program here at UAB.

CMRs_ResizedWe are thrilled to have the opportunity to dedicate this year of our lives to the program we love so dearly.  In the past few months, we have had the pleasure of organizing our traditional yearly program events, such as Camp Dismukes and the Intern Picnic.  In addition, we conducted a new residency-wide Scavenger Hunt around the city of Birmingham and helped Habitat for Humanity build a house for a family in need. Please enjoy the photographs capturing some of these activities!

Aside from social events and community involvement, we are enjoying our roles as clinician-educators, attending on the wards and clinic, as well as facilitating resident report, intern report, ambulatory report, Journal Club and Tinsley Conference.