Dean's Weekly Message

Jan. 7, 2019


Dear colleague: 

Josina Romero O’Connell, MD, assistant professor of family medicine and a clinician for the underserved at Westwood Family Medicine Clinic with Denver Health, has been named the new executive director of the Colorado Area Health Education Center (AHEC). Josina is also director of the Denver Health Healthcare Interest Program, a pipeline program for college students interested in health care professions. She will be serving AHEC while continuing her clinical and leadership work at Denver Health. She succeeds Mark Deutchman, MD, professor of family medicine, who has served as the AHEC executive director since 2013 and who will remain the School of Medicine’s associate dean for rural health and director of the Rural Track. The AHEC program office works with six regional offices in the state to promote careers in the health professions and to increase access to health education for residents in medically underserved areas. 

Denver Health announced last week that Christian Thurstone, MD, associate professor of psychiatry, has been offered the hospital’s position of director of service for behavioral health. Chris has been with Denver Health for 13 years, currently serving as director of addiction services and as medical director of the substance abuse treatment, education and prevention program. He also directs CU’s addiction psychiatry fellowship and Denver Health’s psychiatric physician assistant fellowship. Chris is a highly regarded expert in his field, receiving honors that include the White House Advocates in Action Award in 2012. 

There’s still time to sign up to be a volunteer at the Anschutz Medical Campus booth at the National Western Stock Show, which begins January 12. Each year, the Colorado Area Health Education Center program hosts a booth providing free health screenings for adults and children. Students and clinical and non-clinical faculty are welcomed as volunteers. The screenings include blood pressure, blood glucose, vision, balance, and oral health. This National Western Stock Show draws more than 700,000 attendees and it is a major opportunity for our School to show how we support our entire state. Volunteers sign up for four-hour shifts. For more information, contact Cindy Armstrong at 303-724-8927 or

The leadership of the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, CU School of Medicine, and Children’s Hospital Colorado last fall convened a process to review the structure of research related to child health on campus. The process is being coordinated by consultant Manatt Health Strategies. For an update on the process, check out the Child Health Research Enterprise December newsletter

Maureen Garrity, PhD, our longtime colleague and a passionate advocate for our medical students, died on December 23. Maureen set a standard for outstanding attention to the needs of the CU School of Medicine’s students, and over the course of her career she received many honors including the Chancellor’s Teaching Recognition award in 2013, the Faculty Professionalism Award in 2016, and nationally, the 2014 Association of American Medical Colleges Group on Student Affairs Exemplary Service Award. Maureen joined our faculty in 1983 and throughout her career, she served as associate dean for admissions, associate dean for student affairs and associate dean for student life. When she retired 2017, the University established an endowed medical scholarship fund in Maureen’s honor. A memorial service for Maureen is scheduled for 4 p.m. Wednesday, February 20, in the Krugman Conference Hall. Memorial contributions may be made to the University of Colorado Maureen Garrity Endowed Scholarship Fund. We offer our condolences to friends, family, and colleagues of Maureen, whose positive and joyous spirit will endure with all who knew her. 

Condolences also to the friends, family, and colleagues of Leslie Burrows, PhD, who was the founding Dean of the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine. For many years, he served as a faculty member in School of Medicine’s Department of Anatomy. He was born in La Junta, was married to Jean Pabst for nearly 60 years, and together they had four children, including son David Burrows, MD, who graduated from the CU School of Medicine in 1989. David, who is in private practice, is now an assistant professor of clinical medicine for the School. A memorial service was held Saturday, December 29.


Have a good week,

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



The Dean’s weekly message is an email news bulletin from John J. Reilly, Jr., MD, Dean of the CU School of Medicine, that is distributed to inform University of Colorado School of Medicine faculty members, staff, students and others about issues pertaining to the School’s mission of education, research, clinical care and community service.  See the UCH-Insider →


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