Leaders in Clinical Excellence Awards

Program Development Award

This award celebrates the innovation and collaboration that are foundational to the success of UT Southwestern Medical Center. It recognizes a group of clinical faculty and staff who have partnered to create, develop, and sustain an innovative program that significantly advances our ability to improve patient care.

The 2019 Winners:

UT Southwestern Kidney Cancer Program

James Brugarolas, M.D., Ph.D.

Professor of Internal Medicine
Director of the Kidney Cancer Program
Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center
Sherry Wigley Crow Cancer Research Endowed Chair in Honor of Robert Lewis Kirby, M.D.

Launched in 2013 by Dr. Brugarolas with a campuswide email soliciting faculty participation, the Kidney Cancer Program (KCP) has garnered a national reputation for excellence. The program’s culture of collaboration draws on the strengths of UT Southwestern’s cutting-edge research, combining it with 21st century problem-solving skills to fuel breakthroughs. 

And the results are telling. Stage for stage, the KCP survival rates exceed national benchmarks, most notably for stage 4 patients, where five-year survival rates are more than double. The KCP has become the resource for sophisticated diagnostics and complex interventions, drawing patients from across the state, the country, and the globe. They include novel approaches in stereotactic radiation to control invasive and metastatic disease. A shared vision for excellence and innovation underlies the program’s success, along with an overarching commitment to patients. Further enhancing the patient-centric focus is a trailblazing Patient Advocacy and Volunteering Program.

Honored by the National Cancer Institute in 2016 with a prestigious Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) award – one of only two for kidney cancer in the U.S. – the KCP provides support to 57 investigators at UT Southwestern, including 33 laboratory-based principal investigators. With a rolling RFA and progressive recruitment, the program has possibly become the largest globally. 

In the span of just six years, the KCP has developed into a  program of enterprising agility – the kind of program that is pioneering genetic discoveries in adult and pediatric kidney cancer, providing unparalleled understanding of tumor metabolism and the microenvironment, and developing first-in-class drugs. Holding an investigational new drug (IND) approval from the FDA, the KCP is evolving molecular imaging tools for immunotherapy prediction (NCT04006522). A second trial is evaluating a novel multiparametric MRI to improve bone metastases detection. 

Breaking ground in biobanking and artificial intelligence, the four-years-in-the-making Kidney Cancer Explorer – a self-updating registry – links clinical information with research data, including genomics and live tumor specimens, furthering a platform for collaboration and discovery.

In his words: “The success of the Kidney Cancer Program is a testament to the caliber of the faculty and staff, who are inspired by a shared commitment to the pursuit of excellence in research and patient care.”

Leaders in Clinical Excellence video: Kidney Cancer Program

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UT Southwestern Outpatient Psychiatry Multi-Specialty Program

Hicham Ibrahim, M.D.

Professor of Psychiatry
Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute

In the last three years, the Outpatient Psychiatry Multi-Specialty Program at UT Southwestern has undergone an incredible expansion and complete transformation to respond more fully to the demand for psychiatric services within the Medical Center and among the community at large. The results have been nothing short of staggering. 

Prior to 2016, the psychiatry outpatient program treated fewer than 800 patients per year and offered mostly general psychiatric care.

Now, specialty treatments for all major psychiatric disorders are located together, creating a “one-stop shop” to better meet the needs of all patients. In fiscal year 2019 alone, the program treated more than 9,000 patients, including more than 5,000 new patients, and completed more than 43,000 outpatient visits at its Dallas and Richardson sites. Average new patient wait times are only 14 days. 

During this time, the program, under the direction of Dr. Ibrahim Department Vice Chair for Clinical Affairs, and Medical Director Dr. Larry Thornton, has developed a regional reputation for treating the most complicated psychiatric conditions and cases. It has also incorporated state-of-the-art and experimental techniques, such as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and magnetic seizure therapy (MST). In addition, UT Southwestern is one of the first programs in the nation, particularly in academic settings, to implement measurement-based care. This data-based advancement has already resulted in better care, including improved safety for patients. 

The program now offers telehealth, allowing patients to receive treatment in their homes. And its Psychiatry Medicine Integration team has embedded behavioral specialists in non-psychiatric clinical settings to improve interdepartmental collaboration and patient outcomes.

In his words: “Our team is truly honored to receive such terrific recognition. The success of our multidisciplinary program has been made possible by the sum of all the individual efforts of our faculty and staff. Their hard work, dedication to patient care, collaboration, support of each other, and endorsement of our tripartite mission have been inspirational. In addition, our program could not have existed without the unwavering support of our UTSW leadership, which allowed us to grow and provide our patients with much-needed services. Together, we will continue to strive for excellence, the UTSW way!”

Leaders in Clinical Excellence video: Outpatient Psychiatry Multi-Specialty Program