Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of the Shivers Cancer Foundation | Daily Texan Staff

The Dell Medical School established a faculty chair to honor Austin physician Dr. Robert Askew, who graduated from UT and completed his residency at UT Medical Branch-Galveston in 1959.

The Shivers Cancer Foundation contributed $1 million to establish the Askew Chair in Oncology. The foundation commemorated the donation Friday, after Askew passed away in July. The gift represents one of the largest contributions associated with the foundation.

According to Clay Johnston, dean of the Dell Medical School, the chair will help the school maintain qualitative standards in treating patients and training doctors.  

“The gift will help ensure that the Dell Medical School has a top-flight physician providing cancer care to Travis County residents and training the next generation of doctors,” Johnston said in a statement.

Johnston also said the chair will be in charge of recruiting top faculty members to help maintain a high standard for the school.

“The Askew Chair in Oncology will also be a model for how we recruit and retain the best faculty members and shape the Dell Medical School into a world-class institution,” Johnston said.

This is the second chair to be established within the school — the first being the Chair for the Department of Medical Education, which Susan Cox currently holds. 

UT System chancellor Francisco Cigarroa designed a framework of goals to improve higher education that has developed four-year graduation initiatives, relationships with technology-based corporations and two new medical schools in Texas. 

Photo Credit: Marisa Vasquez | Daily Texan Staff

Even in his role overseeing one of the nation’s largest university systems, UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa is first and foremost a physician.

Since his appointment as chancellor in 2009, Cigarroa has taken on his duties in what he described as a medical approach — leveraging technology, taking calculated risks and changing course when things don’t work out.

“I think it’s worthwhile taking a little risk in higher education if it’s for the right reasons,” Cigarroa said. “Sometimes we’re so risk-adverse that in fact we’re a little paralyzed. If I was nervous every time I made an incision, I don’t think I’d be a good surgeon.”

He said his medical approach is essential to his Framework for Advancing Excellence, a nine-pillar action plan of System priorities that has guided almost all actions voted on by the UT System Board of Regents since it was approved in August 2011.

The framework’s mission has led to four-year graduation initiatives, developing relationships with technology-based corporations to improve advising and online learning and setting forth the foundation for two new medical schools in Austin and South Texas.

Cigarroa said the framework, which aligns the goals of the regents, the system administration and the institution presidents, was a priority when he began his tenure as chancellor.

The framework has garnered national attention, and Cigarroa was invited to discuss the pillars of the framework with other higher education officials at the White House this past year.

While the framework has received criticism for implementing micromanagement and lacking quantitative measures, Cigarroa said he likes to be innovative and try new things, and keeping up with a changing model of higher education is one of the most energizing parts of his job.

“Otherwise we’d be treating diseases the way we did 100 years ago,” he said. “I like to plan for the future.”

One framework goal yet to be completed is the implementation of performance-based compensation plans for presidents of the System’s nine academic institutions.

“It’ll be interesting because we’re one of the first university systems to try to this beyond health institutions,” Cigarroa said.

The metrics of the plan for each president will be discussed at the upcoming regents’ meeting in December. The presidents will be able to earn bonuses of up to 10 percent of their salaries based on those performance measures.

With the upcoming legislative session, Cigarroa’s third as chancellor, he said the System is supportive of two educational initiatives — outcome-based funding and four-year fixed tuition rates.

Both initiatives have already been filed as legislative bills by Rep. Dan Branch, R-Dallas. The System will push for metrics that fall in line with each institution and its demographics to provide tuition options rather than regulations, Cigarroa said.

Cigarroa said he originally planned on returning to surgery full time after his tenure as president of the UT Health Science Center in San Antonio for almost nine years, when the position as chancellor opened up.

“The real ‘ah-ha’ moment was when I realized education saves lives,” Cigarroa said.

Cigarroa is on call every third weekend and does liver and kidney transplants in San Antonio. The shelves in his office are lined with portraits of his family, most of whom are also involved in medicine.

Cigarroa and four of his nine siblings all practice medicine. The Cigarroa Heart & Vascular Institute is housed in one of Laredo’s two hospitals, and cardiologist listings in the local phone book include the offices of Carlos and Ricardo Cigarroa. His father Joaquin Cigarroa still practices cardiology in Laredo at the age of 88.

“You will never separate the love for medicine from a Cigarroa,” the chancellor said. “It’s in our genome.”

Printed on Monday, Nov. 26, 2012 as: UT System Surgeon: Chancellor Cigarroa's medical approach contributes to advancement of University

A Central Texas doctor whose son died of an accidental overdose has been sentenced to nearly six years in prison in a drug case.

A federal judge in Austin on Monday sentenced Dr. David James Jacoby.

The 63-year-old physician in April pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute controlled substances. Prosecutors say the case involved distribution of hydrocodone.

The defense has said Jacoby is a recovering drug addict whose medical license was suspended last year.

The body of 24-year-old Brandon Jacoby was discovered in late 2010 in the home he shared with his father. The son was on probation for a drug crime. Investigators say the emergency room doctor wrote unlawful prescriptions to people who knew his son and the scam resulted in the death.

Medical schools across the country, including those within the UT System, have increased enrollment despite a tough economic climate, according to a report released last week.

First-year enrollment at medical schools has increased 13.2 percent since 2002, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges, which surveyed deans of 133 medical schools in 2010. Enrollment will likely reach a 30-percent increase by 2016, said Clese Erikson, the interim director of the association’s Center for Workforce Studies. The association called for schools to increase enrollments in 2006.

“Due to the growth and the aging of the population and the slower growth of the physician workforce, which is also aging, it became increasingly clear that we were going to face a shortage of physicians,” Erikson said.

The percentage of deans concerned that tough economic conditions will limit their ability to maintain or increase enrollment grew from 39 percent to 52 percent between 2009 and 2010. Erikson said the lingering effects of the recession could limit state and philanthropic funding for medical education.

The University of Texas Medical School at Houston has increased first-year enrollment from 207 to 240 since 2005, said Margaret McNeese, associate dean for admissions and student affairs. McNeese said she is not worried the economy will limit the school’s ability to enroll students.

“Our tuition rate in Texas is very, very low, and students all get loans that will cover their costs of tuition and living,” she said.

Erikson said the government capped Medicare funding for residency training programs in 1997 with the Balanced Budget Act. She said the federal government should increase funding to help residency programs grow at the same rate as medical school enrollment.

“You won’t actually increase the workforce if you don’t increase the number of residency training opportunities available to them, since that’s really the ultimate gateway into the practice of medicine,” she said.

Erikson said implementing the national health care reform bill Congress passed in 2010 will exacerbate the national physician shortage and will require increasing enrollments in medical school, as well as residency training programs and innovative approaches to medicine.

“One of the things that is talked about a lot as a potential solution is increased use of team-based medicine, where it’s not just physicians practicing alone, they’re in a whole cadre of clinicians,” she said.

The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio has increased first-year enrollment from about 200 to 220 since 2000, said David Jones, senior associate dean for admissions.

Jones said he is not concerned about how the economy will impact the school’s ability to maintain enrollment. However, Jones said limited residency training opportunities in Texas do pose a challenge.

“Texas is training physicians or is educating physicians who ultimately leave — a significant portion of them leave to go do residency training elsewhere,” he said.