Conference Call #1

January 11, 2001



Present on the line were Laura Bierut, Marianne Guschwan, Donna Londino, Vania Modesto-Lowe, Vijay Ramchandani, Susan Tapert, Karen Trocki, Jean-Joel Villier, Christopher Welsh, and Lauren Williams.

Marc Schuckit began with an overview of the agenda for the call. In light of everyone's busy schedule, participants were assured that we would end promptly within an hour.

The first order of business was to review the progress being made on the lectures that the junior scholars will present at the May, 2001 meeting in Laguna Beach. Marc began with an overview of some generic issues that all lectures might include:

1. Remember that the original audience is medical students. Therefore, we must make the material as applicable to what they need to know as possible. Of course, lectures will also be easily modified for other audiences, but it is probably best if we all begin with the same audience in mind.

2. The lectures have to fit within a 40-to-60 minute or so time slot. This fits the amount of time usually allowed for medical school lectures, and is also fairly representative of what one might face in other teaching situations.

3. Clarity of thought and flow of ideas is important. The lecture should be organized so that the audience takes notes that pretty much follow exactly what the lecturer's outline is. This requires a careful flow of thoughts along some logical line (such as chronology).

4. It is important to present a thought, develop it fully, and then go on to the next thought. It is best not to come back to earlier ideas---a thought should be completely presented and then one moves on.

5. Medical student (and many other) audiences might have trouble following when the material relates to people who are drinking or using drugs, versus those who are having some temporary problems, versus those who might have a substance use disorder. These issues must be clearly covered within the lectures. Furthermore, it is important to use the terms "abuse" and "dependence" as presented in some diagnostic manual (such DSM-IV), not using "abuse" to really mean a substance use disorder, use, or a combination of abuse or dependence.

6. Slides need to be very carefully and thoughtfully developed. The audience should look at a slide and understand the basics of what it says within 10-to-30 seconds. There must be enough there to be worth doing a slide, but not so much complicated material that the slide must be studied. Words must be carefully used within the slide so that audiences do not have to think a great deal about what they mean. All of this is so the audience will pay attention to what is being said, and not go off on some tangent of thought related to a problem inherent in the slide itself.

7. There is a tendency in developing lectures to do a simple listing of ideas, or a straightforward review of study after study after study. Unfortunately, this doesn't go over very well in an oral lecture, and it is much better to take the material and carefully synthesize it rather than simply listing it.

8. Be careful not to state or infer that A caused B just because they correlate.

9. Don't forget that the lecture outline should use references. To save space, they can be numbered consecutively. You should then prepare a reference list that uses the American Journal of Psychiatry reference style.

Marc then reviewed the three lectures that he had received to date. Chris Welsh has produced a very detailed and impressive initial lecture outline to which Marc responded on January 5th. Chris will see if it is possible to do a next version with some rough outlines of slide copy before Marc leaves the country on January 16th. Donna Londino has also produced a detailed outline, and Marc is now working on specific suggestions for her, with the hope he will get back to her by fax by January 15th. Lauren Williams has made some progress on an outline of the material that she is developing, and hopes to get a full lecture outline to Marc as soon as possible. Jean-Joel is still considering some of his thoughts regarding his topic area, and has been asked to please send his material to Marc as soon as possible. All junior scholars were reminded that lecture outlines and slide copies generally take multiple drafts before they are completed, and that we are facing a hard and fast deadline for presentation of these lectures at the May meeting. Future drafts of material should be produced by e-mail and sent directly to Marc Schuckit's travel e-mail address which is mschuckit@yahoo.com at least until April 10th, after which they can be sent to his office in San Diego.

The senior scholars were asked for additional suggestions they might have for the junior scholars. The junior scholars were encouraged to contact the seniors when they have specific questions. They were also encouraged to look carefully at the structures of lectures and slide copy on the website which can be used as a template for the new lectures they are developing.

The group next turned to a review of the progress by the junior scholars at each of their four medical schools regarding impacting on alcohol and drug topics.

Jean-Joel has said that his major emphasis to date has been on thinking and beginning to look at some references for the development of his lecture. Marc suggested that he and other scholars should be considering:

1. Helping to begin a DOC program. This can easily be started by going to a medical school lecture hall and before any lecture giving a brief background of the DOC program, asking if there are any students who might be interested in reaching out to youth in their community. If any of the scholars would like a contact at DOC, they can get in touch with Dr. Alan Blum (ablum@cchs.ua.edu), or might contact Marcy Gregg in Marc Schuckit's office who might be able to put them in touch with a medical student working with the DOC program here at UCSD.

2. It is hoped that all of the four junior scholars will be able to present an overview of what is currently happening regarding medical school education at their university. It is suggested that they call the people in charge of the lecture courses in Psychiatry, Physiology (regarding liver disease for example), Neurology (regarding alcohol withdrawal seizures for example), and Pharmacology (to see what is being taught on drugs of abuse). This is a fine way to determine what might be needed at a specific university.

3. Each scholar should look carefully at the elective course that was developed at UCSD and is now posted on the website. This might serve as a template for an elective course that can be produced at their university.

4. Each scholar should consider going to the Dean of Students at their medical school (or an equivalent office) offering to set up a noon time get together with medical students for a brown bag lunch discussion of alcohol and drug problems, as well as approaches that might be useful for intervention. These are usually very well received, and at UCSD, the Dean's Office has agreed to pay for lunch---although a brown bag will be fine.

Lauren Williams then described the experiences she has had looking at undergraduate programs relating to substance use disorders. She is also attempting to have an impact on Greek Week activity. Furthermore, she is considering activities related to DOC.

Donna Londino faces a situation where she works on a campus that is very receptive to anything she offers regarding alcohol and drugs. She is already working with the DOC program, and well on her way to preparing an elective.

Chris Welsh has met with the directors of the pathophysiology course, is considering the development of a literature club for residents, and is getting more information about what is going on at his campus.

The next order of business was to introduce the names of two new scholars who will be joining our group as of August, 2001 as the first members of the new junior scholar class. At the suggestion of Vijay Ramchandani, Marc has spoken with and chosen for the new group Margaret Rukstalis. Also, at the suggestion of Marianne Guschwan, continuing discussions with Patty Ordorica in Florida resulted in the selection of Woody Levy. These appear to be excellent candidates for the AMSP program and we are all looking forward to working more closely with them in the future.

Marc then reminded everyone about the upcoming meetings. The next face-to-face meeting will be in Laguna Beach at the Surf and Sand Hotel. It is imperative that everyone plan their program so that they are there well before the approximate 6:00 p.m. dinner on Wednesday, May 16th. It is sad that the senior scholars will be rotating off and that it is primarily for the junior scholars that Marc reminded all of the Fall, 2001 meeting which is scheduled for the Kapalua Bay Resort on Maui, Hawaii beginning on Wednesday, October 17th. Once again, everyone should plan their travel schedules to be certain they are there for the kick-off dinner on Wednesday night.

Karen Trocki reminded scholars about the upcoming Research Society on Alcoholism meeting in Montreal. Marc told all the scholars how good the lectures on Friday, June 22nd and Saturday, June 23rd are likely to be, with the meeting officially beginning on June 23rd. Karen reminded scholars that those who would like to submit a poster must do so by January 31st.

The conference call ended with the discussion of several general issues. Marianne Guschwan and Susan Tapert were congratulated for having presented a lecture on how to develop lectures at a recent meeting. This symposium will be repeated at the upcoming American Psychiatric Association meeting in New Orleans. Participants were urged to continue work on their lectures and education at their medical school.

Before signing off, Marc reminded people that the May AMSP meeting in Laguna Beach will involve presentation of the four new lectures by the junior scholars, three lectures by senior scholars (Vijay Ramchandani, Vania Modesto-Lowe, and Marianne Guschwan) and updates on progress at all ten schools.

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