Letter from the Dean


April 2024

Last October I announced that I plan to step down as Dean when my successor is hired, so I expect this issue of CU Medicine Today to be my final opportunity to address this audience. I write to express my sincere appreciation for your support during the past nine years and to celebrate with you the many accomplishments of our faculty, staff, students, trainees, and clinical partners.

When I arrived in April 2015, the Anschutz Medical Campus was already an extraordinary place, and our school was key to its trajectory. On my first day as Dean, we celebrated the opening of the Gates Biomanufacturing Facility, a resource unlike any in the region. Few medical schools have connected to them the capacity to make cell-based therapies for their patients at their affiliated hospitals.

That precious resource – made possible by the generosity of the Gates Frontier Fund – has fueled scientific discovery and advanced patient care on our campus. To date, the facility has completed more than 100 production runs made to the highest quality standards. We are pioneering cancer therapies through clinical trials on our campus that use T cells engineered at the Gates Biomanufacturing Facility.

At the time of my arrival, our campus was often described as one of Colorado’s best-kept secrets because visitors were surprised to find a vibrant community of scholars and scientists, educators and caregivers clustered on the abandoned acreage of a shuttered army hospital in Aurora.

That’s because many neighbors hadn’t visited here yet. In the dozen years after moving from Denver to our campus, two world-class hospitals, thousands of laboratories, and state-of-the-art classrooms were constructed here.

These buildings and equipment are fundamental needs for our work, but to unlock their potential, we know that it’s our people who add value and fulfill the promise. This is a community of exceptionally talented people who are constantly focusing their energy on improving the lives of others and exploring the boundaries of human knowledge.

Our faculty and clinical partners led our community through a global pandemic, caring for the sick and organizing vaccination efforts that protected all of us. Our clinicians care for more patients than any other medical practice in the state, handling 4.2 million patient visits in 2023, up from 2.7 million in 2017. Among peer public medical schools, our School of Medicine ranks in the top decile of schools in total practice plan revenue.

In 2015, the research portfolio of the school was $359 million, and in 2023, our School of Medicine investigators received $598 million in extramural funding. This growth in total grant awards is due to the collective success of our investigators working in an environment that supports and encourages their work.

Our medical education team led the innovative restructuring of our curriculum so that all students are trained in longitudinally integrated clerkships that emphasize compassionate and holistic patient care. We established a Department of Biomedical Informatics to offer scholarship and training that is essential for the future of medicine. We welcomed the first class of medical students at our branch in Colorado Springs in 2016, and in 2021, we opened a branch campus in Fort Collins in partnership with Colorado State University,

We have emphasized fairness and equity at our school. In 2015, the number of women serving as department chairs at our school lagged national benchmarks. Today, 12 of the 24 departments in the school are chaired by women, and nine of those 12 chairs were recruited since 2016. By comparison, only 23% of the departments at medical schools across the country are led by women.

I am confident that there are many great accomplishments ahead for our school. We certainly are no longer the best-kept secret in Colorado. Rather, we are one of the premier academic medical centers in the country. It has been a privilege to contribute to the creation of an environment where so many of our colleagues can flourish. I look forward to the continued success of the CU School of Medicine.

With warm regards, 

John J. Reilly, Jr., MD
Richard D. Krugman Endowed Chair
Dean, School of Medicine
Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs
University of Colorado

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CU Medicine Today will keep alumni knowledgeable about and connected with the School of Medicine and the University of Colorado  by writing truthful and relevant articles highlighting university news, both positive and challenging, and providing a forum for news and comments from alumni.

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