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UMass Medical School 2018 Media Fellowship Schedule

Below is the 2018 Fellowship Program schedule. The schedule for the upcoming program will be announced in the summer of 2020.

Day #1
Tuesday Dec. 4, 2018

Arrivals & Welcome


Settle in and meet the folks with whom you’ll be spending the next two days. Coffee & light breakfast will be available.


Welcome from Chancellor Michael F. Collins, MD


Chancellor Michael F. Collins, MD welcomes the fellows with an overview of what UMass Medical School is all about and what we are focused on right now. What was once lakeside farmland is now a highly-ranked hub for education and biomedical research. With more than $250 million each year in external research funding, UMass Medical School is home to a Nobel Laureate; winners of the Breakthrough Prize and Lasker Award; multiple investigators of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute; members of the national academies; and serves as a leading academic and economic engine that makes an impact across the entire Commonwealth.


On the leading edge: The search for an effective ALS therapy


In 1993, Robert Brown, DPhil, MD, identified SOD1, the first gene known to cause amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). SOD1 is one of the more common causes of inherited ALS, with more than 180 different mutations to the SOD1 gene accounting for 12 percent of all inherited cases of ALS. Twenty-five years after the discovery of SOD1, an effective treatment for this intractable condition remains elusive – but is now on the horizon. Dr. Brown shares 30 years of scientific and clinical investigation and how the confluence of expertise in RNA biology and gene therapy delivery at UMass Medical School have led to one of the most promising potential ALS therapies yet.

He’ll be joined by Angel Fund president Rich Kennedy, whose family has found itself on the front lines of this fight, for his perspective on ALS, advocacy and the hope that patients derive from medical research.






MedEd Innovation


Yasmin Carter, PhD, assistant professor of translational anatomy, is the founding director of the Innovations Lab at UMass Medical School, a “maker space” dedicated to creative & out-of-the-box thinking in medical training. Fellows will experience first-hand how the role of virtual and augmented reality - including HoloLens and 360-degree video - is creating an immersive learning environment. Fellows will also see how Carter’s lab serves as an incubator for new ideas in medicine and education.




In the six short years since it was first used to edit the genome of mice and human cells, the laboratory technique called CRISPR has run the gamut of the hype cycle, going from a little regarded bacterial defense system to being hailed as the breakthrough genome editing technology for the lab and the clinic – and then to a complex and possibly frustrating disappointment. Erik J. Sontheimer, PhD, professor of RNA therapeutics, was among the first to show that small CRISPR RNAs could target DNA molecules for interference over a decade ago. In 2008, Dr. Sontheimer began articulating the transformative potential of CRISPR RNA-guided genome engineering applications. Where are we now? What are the challenges that need to be overcome? What are the ethical considerations? What is the ultimate promise of CRISPR? Sontheimer shares his views on the quickly evolving world of gene editing, CRISPR and how science will harness the potential of this budding technology.


A physician’s take on a singularly American epidemic – gun violence


These days physicians find themselves squarely at the intersection of America’s gun violence crisis – one that encompasses suicide, violence prevention, mental health, public health, personal rights and public policy. The NRA called on physicians to “stay in their lane” but, increasingly, doctors are speaking up and calling for change. Pediatric trauma surgeon Michael Hirsh, MD answers your questions and shares his perspective from decades of work in emergency departments, operating rooms and as a public health leader.


Check in to the hotel, check email, check-in with family

5p – whenever
72 Shrewsbury Street, Worcester (let’s carpool

Casual networking dinner out at Volturno Privato

Day #2
Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018



The Fourth Trimester


Depression during pregnancy and in the year after delivery (sometimes called the “4th” trimester) affects one in seven women – making it twice as common as gestational diabetes in pregnancy. When left untreated, perinatal depression impacts the new mom, her children and the entire family. Tiffany Moore Simas, MD, MPH, MEd,and Nancy Byatt, DO, MS, MBA created a program to screen, identify and treat women with postpartum by educating and connecting with their providers. Byatt, associate professor of psychiatry, obstetrics & gynecology and quantitative health sciences and director of the Division of Women’s Mental Health; and Moore Simas, vice chair and director of research in the department of obstetrics & gynecology, explain how the program has evolved into a national model for maternal mental health screening.


Beige, Brown or White: What Color is Your Fat and Why it Matters

Biotech II

Silvia Corvera, MD holds the Endowed Chair in Diabetes Research and is a professor of molecular medicine. She will explain the surprising story behind the different kinds of body fat, and how her lab is turning white fat into beige to harness its ability to burn energy and accelerate metabolism as a potential treatment for type 2 diabetes. We’ll also visit her lab to look through the microscope and see for ourselves some of the meaningful differences and variations.






Think Being a Caregiver Is Tough? Try For Yourself!

In the medical school’s state-of-the-art interprofessional Center for Experiential

Learning and Simulation (iCELS), simulation technologies are changing medical education, helping health professionals keep their skills current, and improving the overall practice of health care. We’ll explore the potential of iCELS with hands-on activities demonstrating the benefit of various training sessions, including an opportunity to participate in the Opioid Safe-prescribing Training Immersion (OSTI) program, which received the Association of American Medical Colleges Curricula Innovation Award in 2018. Journalists will interact with standardized patients who help teach clinical skills to learners. In the Virtual O.R., journalists will have an opportunity to perform intubation and chest compressions on specialized mannequins in ‘need’ of urgent medical attention, and ‘treat’ an overdose patient with nasal naloxone. The session will be hosted by Melissa Fischer, MD, MEd, professor of medicine, associate dean for undergraduate medical education, curriculum innovation & iCELS, and certified health care simulation educator Jorge Yarzebski, BA, NREMT-P.


Final Gathering


Ask us anything and complete an evaluation to let us know your thoughts about the two days on campus before you head back to your newsrooms.