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Puliafito leads USC delegation to Russia

From left, Christy Russell, Vladimir Zelman, Carmen A. Puliafito, Svetlana Medvedeva, Natasha Pastushenko and Stephen Sener

Keck School of Medicine of USC Dean Carmen A. Puliafito led a delegation of faculty members to Russia, where he signed a memorandum of understanding for an exchange program with a leading Russian medical school.

In addition during the four-day trip in February, faculty members spoke at the XVII Congress of the Union of Pediatricians of Russia and participated in a roundtable on cancer and women’s health chaired by Svetlana Medvedeva, wife of Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

The exchange program with the I.M. Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University calls for collaboration in medical education and medical science.

“We are delighted to build on USC’s long-term relationships in Russia,” Puliafito said. “We look forward to sending two of our medical students to enrich their medical education with international experience during a two-month clinical rotation in Moscow. In turn, we will host a scientist-clinician in our areas of research and clinical expertise at the Keck School.”

Petr Glybochko, rector of the Russian medical school, wrote in a letter, “I firmly believe that our mutually beneficial cooperation will provide a significant contribution to the development of international educational programs in medicine and resolve the most acute issues in health care.”

The discussion on cancer and women’s health was a follow-up to a 2010 meeting at which Medvedeva proposed to establish an association of nonprofit women’s health centers, beginning with one in St. Petersburg to focus on cancer prevention and early diagnosis in women.

“We remain very interested in helping Svetlana Medvedeva to create awareness around women’s health and to develop programs in breast cancer detection and treatment for Russian women,” said Stephen Sener, chief of breast and soft tissue surgery at the Keck School and USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Other Keck School participants in both the 2010 and 2013 cancer discussions were Christy Russell, associate professor of clinical medicine and director of the USC Norris Breast Center, and Vladimir Zelman, professor and clinical co-chairman of the Department of Anesthesiology, professor of neurology and neurological surgery and a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Zelman initiated and organized the trips.

The international program at the XVII Congress of the Union of Pediatricians of Russia focused on “Pediatric Education: Past, Present, Future.”

“This was a tremendous opportunity to meet with Minister of Health of the Russian Federation Veronika Skvortsova and other thought leaders in Russia on addressing an impressive timeline of improving child health outcomes,” said D. Brent Polk, vice dean for child health, professor and chairman of the Department of Pediatrics, and physician-in-chief and vice president for academic affairs at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA). “The Congress has recognized the need to train more pediatricians and invited her participation in a think tank on innovation in pediatric education. The Congress also included us in the program celebrating the 250th anniversary of the founding of the first children’s hospital in Russia by Catherine the Great.”

Among the speakers and panelists from the Keck School were Puliafito, Polk, Lawrence Opas, professor of clinical pediatrics, vice chair of pediatrics and associate dean for graduate medical education, and Kathleen Nelson, clinical professor of pediatrics at the Keck School and CHLA.

The delegation also met with the senior vice president for research and innovation and the vice president for research development at the Institute of Science and Technology and the governor of the Far Eastern region of Russia to discuss cooperation with the Far Eastern Federal University to develop a medical center.

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