President’s Cabinet Awards 

For more than 30 years, the President's Cabinet has provided a vehicle for UTMB and the community to work together to support these promising initiatives to improve health and well-being.

  • Patient Navigation - Improving Outcomes and Reducing Barriers to Care

    Deana M. Gehring
    Cancer Center

    Patient navigation has become critical to the success of UTMB’s breast cancer programs. These navigators assist patients with overcoming socioeconomic obstacles, maneuvering the health care system, coordinating diagnostic follow-up, investigating financial resources and providing continuity of services. In order to provide navigation services for uninsured and medically underserved women, the UTMB Cancer Center will extend this program to satellite clinics and allow for the creation and administration of a comprehensive patient database to manage demographic, clinical, coding and billing information.

  • Perinatal Hospice at UTMB

    Cara Geary, MD, PhD
    Kathy Ozenberger
    Eva Blight

    Established in 2010, the Perinatal Hospice and Palliative Care Program has served as a support system for parents whose baby has received a terminal diagnosis. President Cabinet funds will allow this program to be expanded to 14 obstetric clinics, the emergency department, and the UTMB inpatient obstetric department. Coordinated efforts relating to staff education, family counseling, community support groups and special care packages for mothers and families are the central elements of this outstanding project.

  • PocketPath:  Providing an Innovative Tool for Each Clinician

    Adam Booth, MD
    Barbara Bryant, MD
    Judy Trieu, MD, MPH
    Chris Zahner, MD

    The ongoing shortage of blood supply in the United States continues to remain a critical issue particularly when an increase in the number of blood components are being wasted through inappropriate transfusions. With a goal to reduce the number of inappropriate blood product orders by clinicians, the PocketPath mobile application was created by three UTMB residents in an effort to provide guidelines and suggestions regarding the utilization of blood products and services at the bedside. Year one of the project will focus on launching, promoting and assessing the platform, while year two will focus on expanding the application to create two-way communication between clinicians and pathology residents in order to facilitate questions not available via the application.

  • Practice of Medicine Year 3 Expanded Pilot Project

    Judith L. Rowen, MD, Associate Professor
    Hans M. von Marensdorff, MD
    Department of Pediatrics

    The Practice of Medicine Year 3 (POM3) course has been in existence since the 2006-07 academic year. This project expanded the course and provided third-year medical students with a “safe” place to reflect and grow as professionals. The course provided a venue for presenting “orphan topics”- such as understanding how patients pay for health care, how a patient’s culture influences medical decision-making, how to address the issues of patient safety, and much more. Faculty served as facilitators/mentors and assign advanced readings and reflective essays for each session. The project included two Austin-based groups and seven Galveston-based groups who met monthly in a longitudinal small group format.

  • Preventive Medicine:  Shumsky Therapeutic Pillows

    Gisele A. Lombard
    Transplant Services

    Hospital-acquired pneumonia is the second-most common infection originating in U.S. hospitals. The most effective therapies to prevent its occurrence are deep breathing and intentional coughing exercises. Through the program, the UTMB Transplant Council will provide organ-specific therapeutic pillows to post-operative transplant recipients to facilitate these exercises. Each pillow is designed for the respective shape of the transplanted organ and features an anatomical diagram for patient education.

  • Project ACCESS (A Cared for Child is Everyone's Success Story)

    Kwabena Sarpong, MD, FAAP
    Tiffany Moffett, CPNP
    Department of Pediatrics

    Several years ago, UTMB partnered with the Children’s Advocacy Center of Brazoria County to provide medical care to abused children in that area. This successful partnership provided exams to children in the southern county areas, yet data showed that children in the northern counties were not having their medical needs met. To address this problem, Project ACCESS expanded this partnership into the Pearland, Manvel and Alvin communities and created a safe and child-friendly medical suite to care for abused children.

  • Providing Dental Run Services at St. Vincent's Student Run Clinic

    Tyler Bliss
    Tracy Cable
    Taylor Surles
    Jacqueline Posada
    Dr. William Glenn
    Dr. Roger Throndson
    Dr. Vic Sierpina
    Family Medicine

    Research shows that Galveston County is lacking in dental care options for the indigent, uninsured and underinsured. To serve this population, this project will provide non-urgent basic dental services such as tooth extraction, drainage of periodontal abscesses, and treatment of gum and mouth infections at the St. Vincent’s Clinic. This award supports the initial investment for the purchase of supplies, instruments and equipment to be installed in a dedicated area of the clinic. The continuity of the clinic will then be provided through the existing St. Vincent’s budget and leadership.

  • Providing Exercise Programs for Person's with Parkinson's Disease in Galveston County

    Ann L. Charness, PT, MS PhDc
    Physical Therapy

    There are nearly one million people living with Parkinson's Disease in the United States. Treatment predominantly consisted of medication and/or surgery, but researchers are favoring the positive effects of exercise in slowing down the progression of the disease. This project will provide free community-based therapeutic exercise groups for people with Parkinson's in Galveston County. Under the supervision of the UTMB Physical Therapy Department, students and practitioners will operate weekly classes from November to June with the goal to improve the walking, functional mobility and balance capabilities of participants in order to reduce the risk for falls.

  • Public Vaccine Education Campaign: Enhancing Our Community’s Understanding of the Importance of Vaccines and the Diseases They Prevent

    Richard Rupp, MD
    Bridget Hawkins, PhD
    Sealy Center for Vaccine Development

    Anti-vaccination campaigns and misinformation about the safety and efficacy of vaccines have led to a decline in the immunization rates in many states over the past five years. To increase the rates of immunization in Galveston County, an extensive educational campaign using podcasts, videos, newspaper and magazine articles, a public website and a customized Facebook page will be launched. Community presentations and special interactive quiz and advertisement slides will be displayed just prior to movie previews in local cinemas in an effort to reach a larger and diverse audience.

  • Pulmonary Rehabilitation Clinic at St. Vincent's House

    N. Miles Farr, MD, MPH
    Daneen Nastars, DHSc, RRT, RRT-ACCS
    Melissa Yanes, MS, RRT-ACCS
    Internal Medicine - General Medicine

    A six-week pulmonary rehabilitation program for uninsured populations diagnosed with chronic lung disease and/or shortness of breath issues will be established at the St. Vincent's House. Under the direction of UTMB Respiratory Care faculty, students will work with patients to follow individualized treatment plans and measure outcomes. The program will collaborate with the American Lung Association, the American Thoracic Society Pulmonary Rehabilitation Chapter and the UTMB Pulmonary Department to ensure patients are meeting the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Pulmonary Rehabilitation guidelines. A smoking cessation component will also be part of the clinic.

  • Realizing UTMB's Institutional Vision through 100 Kitchen Gardens and Door-to-Door Compost

    Victor Sierpina, MD
    Anna Fields, School of Medicine Student
    Mercedez Hernandez, School of Medicine Student
    Jessica Stauber, School of Medicine Student
    Daniel White, School of Medicine Student
    Family Medicine

    Food insecurity is an unreliable access to affordable and nutritious food.  Rates of food insecurity in Galveston exceed national and state averages.  A partnership between UTMB, the UTMB Greenies Gardening Club and Seeding Galveston will work with at-risk residents to build and maintain backyard and neighborhood gardens.  The program will also establish a compost pick-up program designed to generate a cost-effective alternative to conventional garden fertilizer.

  • Religion, Medicine and Culture:  Making Life and Death Decisions

    Harold J. Vanderpool, PhD, ThM
    Institute for Medical Humanities

    The influences and implications of end-of-life decisions can be deeply religious, spiritual and cultural; therefore, a one-size-fits-all approach is not effective or reasonable. This program was designed to offer UTMB employees, students, patients and families with planning strategies that considered religious, spiritual and cultural influences relating to life and death decisions. The practical intervention consisted of information and public education about existing legal and ethical options for advanced care planning and end-of-life decision making through a series of public lectures and film screenings designed to educate the UTMB and Galveston community about bridging common cultural divides.

  • Respite Care for Geriatric Patients - UTMB Geriatrics and St. Vincent's House

    Melissa Lockhart, PhD, APRN, GNP
    Erin Hommel, MD
    Andrea Wirt, MSN, GNP
    Internal Medicine - Geriatrics

    Caregiver burden is significant for families of geriatric patients. Following the success of a 2019 collaboration between the UTMB Geriatrics Department and the St. Vincent’s House Clinic, this project seeks to expand free respite care to all UTMB campuses. By providing more than 1,340 hours of free respite services, this program seeks to reduce caregiver stress, anxiety, and depression. Based on referrals from UTMB providers and social workers, contracted service providers from three local licensed in-home agencies will be dispatched to urban and rural geriatric patient homes to assist and/or relieve caregivers. Caregivers participating in Galveston, Brazoria and Harris counties will have the option to choose half-day or full-day periods.

  • Response to Deadly Behavior ALERRT Training (Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training)

    Ryan Erwin
    UTMB Police Department

    In the event of an active shooter, this project will increase the training and communication efforts of police officers with the UTMB Police Department, the Galveston Police Department, the Port of Galveston Police Department, the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office and the University of Houston-Clear Lake Police. Instead of using paintball guns, special simulation equipment will be purchased to provide more enhanced and realistic training scenarios. Quarterly sessions will be conducted among these multiple law enforcement agencies.

  • Safe Kangaroo Care with our Innovative Gown

    Souby George, MSN, RNC-MNN
    Tracey Santiago, MSN, RNC-OB
    Women Infant and Children

    Kangaroo Care is a form of developmental care that benefits all newborns, especially those in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). The more an infant is exposed to skin-to-skin care, the more likely the infant will experience positive outcomes. Current patient hospital gowns do not facilitate skin-to-skin care or allow for privacy or proper securing of the infant. This project seeks to create a new gown so that all new mothers at UTMB can provide safe and modest skin-to-skin contact with their child within the first few hours of giving birth. Staff will also be trained and certified in Kangaroo Care in order to teach proper positioning and care of the infant during their hospital stay.

  • Save a Life Tour:  A Program to Increase Drunk and Distracted Driving Awareness in Galveston County Young Drivers

    Dr. John Fraser
    Dr. William Mileski
    Surgery/Trauma Services

    Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death in adolescent and young adult drivers. To lower the incidences of drunk and distracted driving, the Save a Life Tour will feature day-long programs at five local schools through high-impact demonstrations and video. Students also will participate in driving simulators that mimic the effects of alcoholic beverage consumption and/or texting while driving. Computer survey kiosks will record students’ knowledge and attitudes about impaired driving before and after the presentations.

  • Saving Sight: The Expansion of Eye Care at St. Vincent’s House

    Jed Assam, MD
    Karima Khimani, MD (PGY-4)
    Misha Syed, MD

    A 2019 President’s Cabinet Award revitalized ophthalmology service at St. Vincent’s House Clinic and as a result patient volume has increased four-fold in the past year. To help manage growth and create a fully- equipped glaucoma diagnostic service center, this expansion will allow for the purchase of a human field analyzer, a handheld fundus camera and a slit lamp. These additional diagnostic tools and screening equipment will open more exam lanes and provide quality ophthalmic services to Galveston’s underserved community.


  • Saving Sight: The Expansion of Eye Care at St. Vincent's House

    Ardalan Sharifi, MD (PGY-3 Resident)
    Matthew Yang, MD (PGY-3 Chief Resident)

    Due to the success of two previous President's Cabinet Awards (2019 and 2021), this project will significantly expand the reach of St. Vincent's House to treat vision-threatening issues such as diabetic retinopathy, cataracts and glaucoma for Galveston's most vulnerable population. More diagnostic tools will be purchased to open more exam lanes and additional screening equipment will support the continued growth in patient volume in order to continue providing the highest standard of eye care.

  • SCHIP and Children’s Medicaid Enrollment Project

    Jessica Allen, Student
    Kyler Elwell, Student
    School of Medicine

    With a majority of Galveston’s public school children qualifying for the State Children Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) or Children’s Medicaid, there has always been a substantial demand for children’s healthcare coverage in our area. However, low enrollment in these programs results from many factors: inaccessible bureaucracies, intricate forms, detailed documentation, extended time lapses between application and enrollment, and rapid expiration of coverage. Recognizing the importance of this growing problem, UTMB medical students Jessica Allen and Kyler Elwell, created this project to organize county-wide outreach efforts utilizing UTMB students, faculty and staff who worked with families and helped them complete complicated applications and educate them on the enrollment process and policy maintenance. This two-year project coordinated three county-wide outreach visits per year, created a working-relationship with the Galveston Independent School District to train district employees and disseminate information to families, and established a website to facilitate access to information on state and federal health insurance and related resources.

  • School-based Depression Education, Screening and Treatment Program

    John F. (Fred) Thomas, PhD
    Community Health Services

    The overlying goal of this project was to improve adolescent mental health in the Galveston community through psycho-education, screening and provision of culturally sensitive, evidence-based services. Three prevention strategies were incorporated into a single program and was implemented on a racially mixed and economically diverse sample of Ball High school students. Students were taught how to recognize signs of depression in themselves and others.  Additionally, students were screened to assess depressive symptoms; those with clinically significant scores were encouraged to utilize the services available through the Teen Health Centers located at Ball High School and Central Middle School. Participants were also directed to a project-based website that was monitored by an experienced clinician who reviewed all responses and wrote a detailed, personalized assessment. Assessments were emailed to the student and were offered the option of talking anonymously with a licensed clinician regarding “feelings-related” issues. Questionnaire responses that suggested significant problems were addressed by urging students to seek immediate assistance at one of the two Teen Health Clinics.

Awards by Year