Update from Section Chief Patrick G. O'Connor, MD, MPH
Led by Section Chief Patrick G. O’Connor, MD, MPH, a world-renowned expert on the interface between general internal medicine and addiction medicine, the faculty within the Section of General Internal Medicine (GIM) is committed to its core missions of clinical patient care, education, research, community care, and equity throughout health care.
Yale General Internal Medicine has seen unprecedented growth in its research, clinical and teaching programs over the past decade, and now includes nearly 160 faculty who contribute in many thoughtful, creative, and innovative ways to its core missions. To more effectively support this growth, eight vice chiefs were named in 2021: Aba Black, MD, MHS (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion); Lori Bastian, MD, MPH (Veterans Affairs); Karen Brown, MD (Community Affairs); Matthew Ellman, MD (Clinical Affairs); David Fiellin, MD (Faculty Affairs); Cary Gross, MD (Research); Jeanette Tetrault, MD (Education); and Joseph Velasco (Finance and Administration). The vice chiefs, along with the directors of Yale GIM’s many clinical, educational, and research programs, represent an exceptional leadership team that will enhance and guide Yale GIM’s future development.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Marcella Nunez-Smith, MD, MHS, is one of the country’s foremost experts on disparities in health care access. Since the earliest days of the COVID-19 pandemic, she has called attention to the unequal burden carried by communities of color. In 2020, Nunez-Smith was tapped to serve as chair of the COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force for the Biden-Harris Administration in the Department of Health and Human Services. The task force is spearheading numerous efforts to make health care more equitable, starting with its response to COVID-19. Nunez-Smith previously served as co-chair of the Biden-Harris Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board. She was recently appointed as director of the newly formed Center for Community Engagement and Health Equity (CEHE) within Smilow Cancer Hospital and Yale Cancer Center, with the mission of ensuring cancer health equity and improving outcomes in traditionally marginalized communities.
Inginia Genao, MD, is the associate chair for diversity and inclusion, and graduate medical education (GME) director for diversity, equity, and inclusion, internal medicine. Genao has dedicated her career to ensuring that providers reflect the communities they serve, and that those communities have access to quality care. The appointment of Aba Black, MD, MHS, to the role of vice chief of DEI represents an opportunity to further advance Yale GIM’s DEI agenda. As a first step in the process, Black instituted an annual DEI retreat for GIM faculty which will be accompanied by a series of activities to assure that DEI are a high priority on the daily agenda of Yale GIM faculty.
GIM physicians provide comprehensive patient care in both inpatient and outpatient settings. The New Haven Primary Care Consortium (NHPCC) was established in November 2020 to provide collaborative care to New Haven residents. NHPCC is a partnership of Yale New Haven Hospital (YNHH); Cornell Scott Hill Health Center; and Fair Haven Community Health Center, with leadership from Yale School of Medicine (YSM). The NHPCC internal medicine program is led by Daniel Tobin, MD, and Laura M. Whitman, MD. At Yale Internal Medicine Associates (YIMA) in New Haven, physicians provide general medical care for adults. The director, Matthew Ellman, MD, expanded YIMA’s primary care practice by recruiting three faculty from underrepresented backgrounds. YIMA emphasizes a patient-centered medical home approach to personalized and comprehensive care.
Under the leadership of Melissa Weimer, DO, the Addiction Medicine Consult service that was established three years ago at the St. Raphael campus of YNHH, has provided patient-centered care for ever-increasing numbers of patients. An expansion of the program to provide comprehensive care across both campuses of YNHH was approved this year.
Daniel Federman, MD, was named chief of medicine at the VA Connecticut Healthcare System; and vice chair, Veterans Affairs, for the Department of Internal Medicine. Federman replaces Michael Kozal, MD, who served in this role for more than six years.
The Department of Internal Medicine hosted the inaugural Dr. Jackie Satchell Honorary Grand Rounds in November 2021, memorializing the life and work of Jacqueline Rosemarie Satchell, MD, a clinician-educator in GIM and the VA Connecticut Healthcare System, who died unexpectedly in 2020. The lecture was followed by the dedication of the VA Center for Women Veterans as the Dr. Jacqueline Satchell Women’s Center, with the keynote address by Nunez-Smith.
Training Future Leaders
The National Clinician Scholars Program (NCSP) at YSM is a multidisciplinary fellowship training program for physicians and nurses with PhDs who want to go into leadership positions, research academic medicine, and community health. It is directed by Cary Gross, MD. GIM has 25 graduates of the program, formerly known as Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars, including O’Connor and Gross.
Jeanette Tetrault, MD, director of the Addiction Medicine Fellowship Program, oversaw the expansion of the program with the acquisition of an HRSA-funded grant to support three additional fellowship slots each year. Expansion of the program supports ongoing implementation of the Collaborative Behavioral Health and Addiction Medicine in Primary Care Program (CHAMP), another HRSA-funded initiative training future primary care providers to care for patients with substance use disorders. Tetrault and CHAMP Director, Kenneth Morford, MD, and colleagues aim to reach patients from medically underserved backgrounds by training future primary care providers to address the opioid crisis and addiction more broadly.
Donna Windish, MD, MPH, directs the GIM Medical Education Fellowship program for people coming out of residency. Windish also is the director of the Advancement of Clinician-Educator Scholarship (ACES) Faculty Development Program, a year-long program in which junior faculty learn how to conduct educational scholarship and carry out a research project.
Aba Black, MD, MHS, was named co-director of Race, Bias, and Advocacy in Medicine (RBAM), which aims to provide residents with the tools to understand and combat the impact of racism and bias on the health care system, medical education, and physician practice. Residents will partner with the New Haven community to better understand disparities in access to and quality of health care and improve care delivery. Inpatient GIM firm chiefs and leaders at YNHH (Gretchen Berland, MD; Christopher Sankey, MD; Jeremy I. Schwartz, MD; Andre N. Sofair, MD, MPH) and at the VA (Craig Gunderson, MD; Daniel Federman, MD) all made major contributions to assuring a robust response to the COVID pandemic.
- Tetrault received the 2021 ASAM Training Directors Award for outstanding training in the evaluation, treatment, research, and teaching of substance use disorders.
- Gross received the Yale Cancer Center Award for Mentorship Excellence for accomplishments in 2020.
- Jaideep S. Talwalkar, MD, received the Alvan Feinstein Teaching Award during YSM graduation ceremonies in 2021.
Faculty from GIM provided vital services and information during the COVID-19 pandemic, and served as attending physicians for patients with COVID on teaching services at YNHH and the VA. Their YNHH Hospital Medicine colleagues provided expert care to thousands of inpatients, going above and beyond to assure the best possible care under challenging circumstances. Inpatient GIM firm chiefs and leaders at YNHH (Gretchen Berland, MD; Christopher Sankey, MD; Jeremy I. Schwartz, MD; Andre N. Sofair, MD, MPH) and at the VA (Craig Gunderson, MD; Daniel Federman, MD) all made major contributions to assuring a robust response to the COVID pandemic.
Yale GIM outpatient practices provided care for hundreds of patients suffering from COVID-19 infection along with providing screening and testing for thousands of other patients. COVID-related research was conducted by several GIM faculty.
Brita Roy, MD, MPH, MHS, director of Population Health for Yale Medicine, helped to lead Yale’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts by serving as a liaison between Yale New Haven Health (YNHHS) and Yale University.
Concern about vaccine hesitancy among communities that have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 convinced Jorge Moreno, MD, to post a video about his vaccination experience in Spanish.
Supporting the households of health care professionals during COVID-19 was the theme of an invited commentary in Academic Medicine, authored by Joseph H. Donroe, MD, MPH; Tracy L. Rabin, MD, SM; and Jeremy I. Schwartz, MD.
Carol Oladele, PhD, MPH, was a lead author of a Yale-led study that suggests that the protocol known as SOFA (Sequential Organ Failure Assessment) could promote racial disparities in treatment outcomes. The GIM Section’s Equity Research and Innovation Center (ERIC) provided resources for the study under the guidance of Oladele and Saria Hassan, MD.
As part of a new program by the Center for Community Engagement and Health Equity (CEHE), directed by Nunez-Smith, and in partnership with the Community Alliance for Research and Engagement, community members from New Haven joined research groups at Yale Cancer Center for a fellowship in 2021 to bring community perspectives to cancer research.
Will Becker, MD, translated his groundbreaking research on the complex needs of veterans with chronic pain on long-term opioid therapy into an innovative clinical program - VA Connecticut’s Opioid Reassessment Clinic (ORC), an interdisciplinary referral clinic. Through evidence-based and team-based care, including collaborations among internal medicine, psychiatry, psychology, pharmacy, and nursing, the ORC strives to use patient-centered approaches to improving pain relief, function, and overall wellness among veterans with chronic pain.
Ilana Richman, MD, MHS, published papers on the comparative effectiveness of digital breast tomosynthesis and 2-dimensional mammography, and health care costs associated with tomosynthesis.
Paul Joudrey, MD, MPH, published a paper with faculty colleagues and Yale medical students in JAMA Network Open that examined the impact of COVID-19 on access to opioid use disorder treatment.
A study found that many seniors get unnecessary cancer tests. The report was published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine with an accompanying editorial by Cary Gross, MD.
Jennifer Miller, PhD, Cary Gross, MD, and Joseph Ross, MD, MHS, collaborated on two studies of pivotal trials leading to FDA approval assessing racial and sex-based equity and access to therapies in lower and middle-income countries where drugs are tested. Both studies were published in JAMA Network Open.
In a New England Journal of Medicine commentary, “Bringing Harm Reduction into Health Policy — Combating the Overdose Crisis,” Kimberly Sue, MD, PhD, and David Fiellin, MD, urged the Biden Administration to implement harm reduction programs.
Amy Justice, MD, PhD, was senior author of a VA study, “Genome-wide association study of smoking trajectory and meta analysis of smoking status in 842,000 individuals,” in Nature Communications.
Marcella Nunez-Smith, MD, MHS, and Emily Wang, MD, received funding through the NIH RADx Underserved Populations (RADx-UP) program to study COVID-19 population health disparities. Nunez-Smith is the principal investigator of a project funded by a research grant from the biotechnology company Genentech that was awarded to Yale Cancer Center and Smilow Cancer Hospital to measure, address, and create accountability around cancer health inequities.
A team from YSM and YNHHS, including Jeremy Schwartz, MD, with colleagues from other institutions, will evaluate the impact of Real-Time Prescription Benefit (RTPB) tools so that prescribers can address costs of and barriers to medication adherence with patients. Schwartz and colleagues at Yale’s Center for Methods in Implementation and Prevention Science (CHIPS) and other institutions received a grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute for their project, “Strengthening the Blood Pressure Care and Treatment Cascade for Ugandans Living with HIV – Implementation Strategies to Save Lives.
Faculty from the Yale Institute for Global Health Global Addictions Network, in partnership with faculty from The University of Jordan, received a two-year grant from the U.S. Department of State to create a joint addiction training program. Jeanette Tetrault, MD, is the principal investigator; Ryan McNeil, PhD, is contributing. Amy Justice, MD, PhD, is the principal investigator of a newly funded 5-year NIAAA P01 award for her project, “The HIV and Alcohol Research center focused on Polypharmacy.”
Kristina Talbert-Slagle, PhD, and colleagues celebrated as 86 students in Liberia, West Africa, completed an inaugural four-week science camp in 2021. The Camp xSel program grew out of a $15 million, five-year U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) award to advance the use of research in Liberia’s health sector. The funded project is BRIDGE-U: Applying Research for a Healthy Liberia.
- Patrick O’Connor, MD, MPH, was elected treasurer of the Society of General Internal Medicine (SGIM).
- Patrick O’Connor MD, MPH, chosen as a mastership recipient by the American College of Physicians.
- Marcella Nunez-Smith, MD, MHS, was elected to the National Academy of Medicine.
- Inginia Genao, MD, received the American College of Physicians Connecticut Chapter Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Award.
- Inginia Genao, MD, was recognized in 2021 with the Herbert W. Nickens Minority and Representation in Medicine Award, one of SGIM's highest honors.
- Jeanette Tetrault, MD, was elected president of the American Association for Academic Addiction Medicine (ACAAM).
- Shaili Gupta, MDDS, and Christopher Ruser, MD, received Coins of Recognition from VA Secretary Robert Wilkie.
- Lynn E. Fiellin, MD, recognized as a Science Breakthroughs of the Year winner at the 2020 Falling Walls World Science Summit.
- Nancy Angoff, MD, MPH, completed her 23-year term as Associate Dean of Student Affairs, which was celebrated at an event sponsored by the Dean’s Office.
- John Francis, MD, PhD, was recruited back to Yale as the new Associate Dean for Student Affairs.
- Program Manager Angela Consorte marked 45 years with Yale in 2021.
To learn more about the Section of General Internal Medicine, visit medicine.yale.edu/intmed/genmed/.