Conference Call #11

July 10, 2008

The Conference Call began with an introduction of all those attending. These included Marc Schuckit, Marianne Guschwan, Marcy Gregg, Anika Alvanzo, Krishna Balachandra, Maritza Lagos, and Tim Lineberry.

The first order of business was to review accomplishments among the Senior Scholars. Anika Alvanzo just recently started her job at Johns Hopkins University where she will be the Medical Director for the Health Suite in the Program for Alcohol and Other Drug Dependencies. In addition, she will be involved with ongoing research with the NIDA Clinical Trials Network and continuing research on psychological trauma and substance use. Anika is now at a university much more active in teaching, and is working to establish connections with another faculty member who is working on improving the substance use disorder curriculum for internal medicine residents. At her previous institution, Virginia Commonwealth University, Anika has identified Dr. Weaver, Medical Director of the Substance Abuse Consult Service, to continue the lunchtime seminar series on substance use disorders. Dr. Alvanzo left a copy of the HBO documentary series, “Addiction”, with Dr. Weaver. Additionally, the lecture on screening and responding to heavy drinking in a primary care setting will remain as a part of the Foundations of Clinical Medicine curriculum, as will the standardized patient workshop in which students will have the opportunity to practice the skills covered in the didactic lecture. She also identified a person at VCU to assume her teaching responsibilities, and is doing as much as she can to try to help the person develop effective teaching skills.

Gavin Bart is working on his K Award, and is participating in another federal grant. He has made good progress regarding gaining a foothold in the medical school in outreach to second-year medical students. His entre is via the Physician and Patient 2 course, where he has developed a segment with a 20-to-25 minute PowerPoint presentation and his voice explaining the material on a voice-over, which is to be posted on the internet. The focus is on diagnosis, screening, and brief intervention, and will include a required link to the NIAAA Webcast on the same subject. Gavin has also developed two case histories regarding marijuana abuse and at-risk drinking that will be included as patient role-play scenarios during the objective clinical skills exam.

Our group then moved on to updates from the First-Year Scholars. We began with Krishna Balachandra. Krishna reported on his transition from the University of Western Ontario (UWO) to the University of Alberta (U of A). As a result of his participation in AMSP, he was able to make a contribution to the education of medical students and residents at UWO about substance use disorders. He plans to build on these initiatives at the U of A. Since the spring meeting, he completed a simple Web-based case that demonstrates alcohol dependence in collaboration with the information technology resource center at UWO ( Along with his collaborators, he presented some preliminary findings on a study entitled “Peer Led Versus Staff Led Group Therapy for Patients with Co-Occurring Mental Illness and Substance Use Disorders: a Qualitative Study.” He was awarded the Junior Faculty Research Award by the Department of Psychiatry at UWO. He was also awarded “Faculty Star of the Year.” Finally, he successfully obtained his subspecialty board certification in Addiction Psychiatry.

The next report, from Maritza Lagos, reviewed her activities as the newly appointed Medical Student Clerkship Director. This allows her to place alcohol and drug-related issues in the most prominent way possible as part of the medical school education. She has also developed new lectures for residents and is focusing much of her teaching around AMSP lectures on the Web site. She will continue to enhance education on both levels.

Tim Lineberry also reviewed his work with the psychopathology course, which was just recently completed. He developed and supervised many of the lectures, and has also developed an elective regarding substance use disorders (known at his University as a selective). Tim just recently participated in a JCAHO surprise visit to his University, which went well. His major project right now is working the on the third-year didactics for medical students in light of the revamping of the medical student clerkship in Psychiatry, including alcohol and drugs.

The group next went on to a discussion of an upcoming AMSP meeting to begin on October 15th, 2008 in Laguna Beach, California at the Surf and Sand Hotel. Marcy will be in contact with all of the participants regarding the meeting. Marc briefly reviewed the format, as well as the location.

The date for the Spring 2009 meeting is currently in flux. There are a number of developments that need to be discussed before the date is chosen. However, we are likely to be moving the time from the July date in conjunction with the Research Society on Alcoholism meeting, to a more traditional date earlier in the year instead. The most probable date for the spring meeting will be Wednesday, April 8th. Marc will discuss this with the new scholars, and remind everyone of the final date once it is chosen.

The conference call adjourned with many good wishes to the Senior Scholars who are moving on, and great enthusiasm for the upcoming meeting where new scholars will be welcomed.

Marc A. Schuckit, M.D.

Layout and design by Brian Klima