Dear Colleagues,

seth landefeld 06Reduced
Welcome to the third Letters to Tinsley.  Thanks to the wonderful team that tells the stories you will read – Amanda Clark, Sam McElwee, Charles Bosshardt, Evan Raff, Monee Amin, Joshua Stripling, Adam Edwards, George Nelson, Starr Steinhilber, Ashley Haddad, Jori May and Carlie Stein.

Exciting things are happening at UAB and in the city of Birmingham, and I am thrilled to tell you some of my favorites. 

On Tuesday December 10
th, 6:00 PM at the UAB Alumni House, I hope you will join us in honoring George Karam (Housestaff, 1977-1980 and Chief Medical Resident 1980-1981) and Craig Coe (Housestaff 1980-1983), who together started the Legacy Fund to support the camaraderie of our residency program.  Dr. Karam will also give the annual “Dr. Alex Litz Memorial Lecture” at Medical Grand Rounds the following day, Wednesday December 11 at noon in Margaret Cameron Spain Auditorium.

vickers olive croppedOn October 15, Selwyn M. Vickers, M.D. became UAB’s Senior Vice President for Medicine and Dean of the School of Medicine.  A native of Alabama and most recently the Chair of the Department of Surgery at the University of Minnesota, Vickers brings passion, vision, and accomplishment to his leadership.  A world-renowned surgeon, pancreatic cancer researcher, and pioneer in health disparities research, he is also a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.

In June, 46 extraordinary young physicians began their internships in the program you helped build.   I got to know three of them especially well while attending on our Tinsley Harrison Service.  These are exemplary colleagues who are competent and caring, curious and compulsive; doctors any of us would love to have care for us or our families.   In morning report, I get to see many more of them think on their feet with me.  You would enjoy practicing and learning medicine with our current housestaff.

At the same time, we graduated 40 residents, sending many off to fellowships around the country, from Chicago to Texas, from the NIH to UC-Davis.  We’re lucky many chose to stay with us here at UAB in Cardiology, Infectious Diseases, Nephrology, Palliative Care, and Hematology-Oncology fellowships.

Our residency grows increasingly diverse as we reach out to students around the country and from all backgrounds.  Our interns hale from 18 schools in 13 states.  They include 16 women and 26 men and 3 from a variety of minority groups.  In a state with a large African American population and a growing number of Hispanics, our residency is increasing in diversity with physicians of these backgrounds. 

Lisa Willett and her team of program directors have added exciting dimensions to the exceptional clinical training in our program.  Lisa and Jason Morris lead a curriculum in quality and safety, and this fall Lisa has started a weekly “Near Misses and Great Catches” conference to learn directly from our housestaff about opportunities to improve patient care – delays in medications, admission to the floor when the ICU was needed, and preventable errors that led to Medical Emergency Team calls. 

I am excited by the new Global Health Track headed by Martin Rodriguez.   We now send one resident yearly to the Gorgas Course in Tropical Medicine, which is led in Lima, Peru by UAB’s David Freedman, Professor of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases.  Also this year we will send two residents on 1-month rotations, which they designed, in Africa.   Our hope is that these experiences will prove valuable, as we offer all our residents an opportunity to learn medicine abroad for a month.  I have begun to seek donors who are as excited as I am about creating these opportunities and hope to report initial success in our next Letters to Tinsley.

In addition to new curricula, we are building the heart and soul of our program: the Tinsley Harrison Internal Medicine Service.  The Department has committed $100,000 this year to support expanded teaching and faculty development, so the attendings on Tinsley will be the best in the country, as well as at UAB.  We will be using the residents’ feedback to enhance our teaching on Tinsley and make this the premiere teaching and patient care service at UAB and beyond!

The Department thrives, too.  Our faculty is making extraordinary discoveries.  In August, Anath Shalev, Professor of Medicine and Director of the Comprehensive Diabetes Center, reported in Nature Medicine her discovery that TXNIP (Thioredoxin-Interacting Protein) tells beta cells to stop making insulin and to self-destruct as diabetes worsens.  Shalev has identified novel ways in which drugs may stop this damage, potentially reversing the progression of diabetes.

Also in August, Orlando Gutierrez, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Nephrology and Monika Safford, Professor of Medicine, Division of Preventive Medicine, reported in JAMA that the urinary albumin-to-creatinine ratio predicts greater risk of incident coronary heart disease in black individuals when compared with white individuals.  Gutierrez’s discovery may improve the prediction and management of coronary heart disease in African Americans.

Our clinical services are expanding to meet the needs of our patients.  Our interventional cardiologists, led by Massoud Leesar, MD, performed the first Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) in Alabama and has now performed over 70 in less than a year.  Klaus Monkemuller, MD, PhD, Professor of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology performs sophisticated endoluminal endoscopy, including double balloon enteroscopy, to visualize the entire small bowel.  We are expanding our capacity to meet our patients’ needs in many other areas, too, including Critical Care, Hepatology, Hepatitis C, and Rheumatology.

Our Department and our Residency Program have never been better.  Enjoy Letters to Tinsley and stop by to visit me any time (BDB 420; 205-934-1088;


Seth Landefeld, MD

Chair, Department of Medicine

Spencer Chair in Medical Science Leadership