Signs of Hope

By John J. Reilly, Jr., MD


( 2021) This spring we have hope.

A year ago, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we faced a crisis with fearsome consequences: a highly contagious and deadly virus, an unprecedented economic shutdown, school closures, and social isolation. 

While we are not yet through the tunnel, we can see light and we are moving toward it. Vaccines, developed in record time, are being widely distributed, offering the promise of better days ahead.

We have been able to get to this point because science provided a solid foundation for the rapid development of vaccines. And we are moving in the right direction because of smart solutions and compassionate care.

Richard Zane, MD, chair of emergency medicine and chief innovation officer at our partner UCHealth, told the Colorado Sun that the vaccination rollout effort is momentous. “It is rocking,” he said in December at the beginning of the vaccine rollout. “It is one of the most important events in the history of science and medicine, and people are excited they are participating.”

It is a big deal. Everyone from the Anschutz Medical Campus should be proud of their contributions to this historic effort. Hundreds from our academic medical center have volunteered to help the rest of our community. Our faculty have been go-to experts for state leaders and media representatives, reassuring the community that vaccines are safe and administering the shots to tens of thousands of Colorado residents. Our students have been active volunteers, stepping up when needed, even as they continued their studies.

All the while, we have continued to provide care and advance biomedical science in our chosen fields of expertise. After a sharp decline in non-COVID patient visits last spring, most of our clinics have recovered. Our research grant portfolio grew in 2020, with Anschutz Medical Campus researchers attracting $762 million in sponsored research funding.

Through it all, the School has continued to pursue other important strategic goals. Among the highlights:

  • We are working in partnership with Salud Family Health Centers to expand medical coverage to our neighbors and we are working with state Medicaid authorities to improve primary and specialty care throughout the state.  
  • Faculty-initiated clinical trials of cell-based immunotherapy – with treatments manufactured in our own facility – commenced on our campus. 
  • We have recruited leadership to build a more robust data science and informatics program, launching a new Center for Health Artificial Intelligence and hiring a new Chief Research Informatics Officer for the campus.
  • Our updated curriculum for medical students will fully launch this summer after years of diligent planning. 
  • Our collaboration with Colorado State University bloomed with third-year medical students beginning clinical training in northern Colorado, in advance of the first cohort of students for the full four-year program matriculating this year.

These achievements are even more impressive because members of our School community made them happen during the most challenging public health and economic crises in generations. 

Our school community and our supporters have been a constant source of strength, wisdom, compassion, and dedication during extraordinarily trying times. We look forward to gathering with you soon to celebrate these achievements.

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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