Dr. Matthew Dacso: Building Collaborations


In this M3 Conference Breakout Session, Matthew Dacso, MD, MSc, FACP, Director of Academic Partnership for the UTMB Center for Global and Community Health, discusses building collaborations between academic and faith-based organizations to strengthen health systems in an era of pandemics.

The past several decades have seen profound shifts in the global burden of disease, which has strained health systems and highlighted the need for investment in greater global collaboration. The recent global experience with COVID-19 has demonstrated the fundamental interconnectedness of human, animal, and environmental health, and the need for an adaptive and responsive healthcare workforce. As we continue through an “era of pandemics,” academic and faith-based organizations have great potential to improve health for all by collaborating and enveloping deeper partnerships.

Dr. Matthew Dacso is the Chair ad interim of the Department of Global Health and Emerging Diseases and an Associate Professor in the Division of General Internal Medicine in the Department of Internal Medicine. He also serves as Director of Academic Partnership for the UTMB Center for Global and Community Health and as the Director of the 4-year Global Health Scholarly Concentration in the John Sealy School of Medicine. He is a general internist and global health practitioner who has extensive field experience forming partnerships with institutions in sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean that are rooted in relationships, respect, and reciprocity. To learn more about Dr. Dacso and his work, click here.

Dr. Stephen J. Spann: Healing Relationships


In this M3 Conference Plenary Session, Stephen J. Spann, MD, MBA, Founding Dean of the University of Houston College of Medicine, reviews the scientific evidence on the power of compassionate relationships between healthcare professionals and their patients, in terms of better clinical outcomes, better patient satisfaction, lower costs of care, and lower healthcare professional burnout and greater joy. Jesus healed through relationships, and we are instruments of His healing through our relationships with others; this is the cornerstone of medical missions.

Dr. Stephen J. Spann is a family physician leader, educator, researcher, and the Founding Dean of the University of Houston College of Medicine. Dr. Spann has dedicated his career to improving health and health care around the world by training future health care professionals, contributing to the scientific knowledge base of primary care, leading medical school faculty, physician medical groups and hospital medical staffs, and striving to practice excellent, evidence-based family medicine.

Dr. Anne Alaniz: One Surgeon, Two Worlds (Extended Session)


In this M3 Conference Breakout Session, Anne Alaniz, DO, expounds upon her Plenary Session and shares about her experiences as a surgeon serving in both Malawi and the United States. She tackles the tough questions that arise when we are faced with life and death disparities, and she encourages us to be creative with available resources, mobilize our individual capacities fully, and face these devastating discrepancies with grit, grace, optimism, and perseverance. Dr. Alaniz challenges us to open our eyes, and to open our ears and hearts to hear the cries of the forgotten. She reminds us that God already knows that we have what He needs to reach the unreached.

Dr. Anne Alaniz is a gynecologic oncologist who has been working for Houston Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas, since 2012. She is also the Co-Founder of Pothawira (Safe Haven) Christian Mission Organization in Malawi. Click here to learn more about the work of Pothawira.

Dr. Nicholas Comninellis: Tropical Fever Evaluation


Why is evaluating fever in a tropical setting uniquely difficult? From unfamiliar and unusual causes and limited lab and imaging to cultural divides and time pressure, several factors make diagnosis a daunting clinical challenge.

In this M3 Conference Breakout Session, Nicholas Comninellis, MD, MPH, DIMPH, reviews some of the principles we can use in managing tropical fever. He discusses knowledge of local epidemiology to assess probabilities and consideration of non-infectious and infectious causes taking clues from patient history, such as freshwater exposure (schistosomiasis), and physical exam, such as conjunctival injection (leptospirosis). Dr. Comninellis also highlights points to consider when deciding on diagnostic tools to take on mission, keeping in mind the current proliferation of rapid point-of-care diagnostic tests and their benefit.

Dr. Nicholas Comninellis is President and Professor at INMED, the Institute for International Medicine. He is also faculty in the Department of Medical Humanities at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine and faculty at Research Medical Center Family Medicine Residency. Dr. Comninellis has decades of experience serving in medical missions, including in Shanghai, Angola, and Honduras. Click here to learn more about INMED and the incredible work and training they are doing around the world.