Dean's Weekly Message

May 13, 2019

Dear Colleague:

Robert D’Ambrosia, MD, former chair of the Department of Orthopedics, was honored Tuesday evening at a campus celebration for his commitment to building an outstanding program at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. When Bob joined the School as chair of orthopedics in 2002, there were six faculty members in the Department and by the time we began searching for his successor, there were 114. Bob has always been a strong and effective administrative leader and a champion of the University’s diversity efforts. In his honor, the School established Robert D’Ambrosia, MD Diversity Endowment Fund to increase diversity and enhance cultural competency at the School of Medicine. The inaugural Orthopedic Research Symposium and D’Ambrosia Diversity Lecture was held on Wednesday, May 8, with E. Anthony Rankin, MD, delivering the keynote address. Dr. Rankin trained more than 120 minority and female residents as chief of orthopaedic surgery at Providence Hospital and professor of orthopaedic surgery at the Howard University College of Medicine in Washington, D.C. 

The School of Medicine held a reception Thursday, May 9, to commemorate naming Venu Akuthota, MD, chair of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, the CU Medicine Endowed Chair of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. The endowed chair is made possible by CU Medicine, our faculty practice plan. CU Medicine is successful because of the hard work of our faculty and the talent assembled at CU Medicine to support them. I want to thank the board of CU Medicine for showing its commitment to the School of Medicine and our shared vision with these important investments into endowments for our chairs. Vesna Jevtovic-Todorovic, MD, PhD, MBA, chair of anesthesiology, also holds a CU Medicine Endowed Chair. 

The School of Medicine last week announced the creation of the Joanne Posner-Mayer Endowed Chair in Physical Therapy, which was made possible with generous commitments totaling more than $2.5 million from Joanne Posner-Mayer, who graduated from our Physical Therapy program in 1973. The holder of this chair will be the new director of the Physical Therapy Program after Margaret Schenkman, PT, PhD, professor and director of the Physical Therapy Program, who plans to step down when her successor is hired. Joanne has been a successful physical therapist and entrepreneur and we have been fortunate to receive her extraordinary support for many years. This endowed chair will allow for continued growth and development of our outstanding Physical Therapy Program. 

Dennis Roop, PhD, professor of dermatology and director of the Gates Center for Regenerative Medicine, was honored at the ARCS annual gala on Friday, May 3. He received the 2018-19 ARCS Foundation Colorado Chapter Honoree of the Year award. Founded in 1958, ARCS is a national organization that advances science and technology by providing financial awards to academically outstanding U.S. citizens studying science, engineering, and medical research. 

  • The University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus on Wednesday hosted a dinner at the Fulginiti Pavilion to celebrate faculty members who have dedicated 25 years of their careers to CU. While I typically steer clear of providing long lists of names in the weekly email, these colleagues have given 25 years of their lives to our School, our students, and our patients, and we are grateful for their abundant and continuing contributions:
  • Suzanne Brandenburg, MD, professor of medicine
  • Renee Charlifue-Smith, MA, senior research instructor of pediatrics, JFK Partners
  • Maria Frid, PhD, senior instructor of pediatrics
  • Kenneth Gaipa, MSW, senior instructor of psychiatry
  • James Hagman, PhD, professor of immunology and microbiology
  • John Hill, DO, professor of family medicine
  • Steven Johnson, MD, professor of medicine
  • Sharon Jordan, MA, PT, senior instructor, physical therapy program
  • Kathleen Torkko, PhD, associate professor of pathology
  • Kenton Voorhees, MD, professor of clinical practice of family medicine
  • Marsha Wheeler, MD, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology

 The School of Medicine’s Foundations of Doctoring program held its 10th annual Golden Stethoscope awards banquet on Thursday, May 9. Each year, the Office of Faculty Affairs honors preceptors for their dedication to medical student education. We are grateful to the honorees and all the preceptors who generously offer their time and skill to help train the next generation of physicians. Preceptors work with medical students about two or three half-days per month at the physician’s place of practice, working with the students to develop individual learning goals and completing an evaluation of each student each semester. 

The Child Health Research Enterprise April 2019 newsletter has been posted online. The newsletter reports that phase 1 of the effort has been completed. The goal of that phase was to assess current state of child health research on campus. Phase 2 plans to more closely review legal, space and facilities, finance and budgeting, and communications. 

Last Tuesday, our community endured another horrific school shooting, this time at the STEM School in Highlands Ranch. As we deal with the political and social consequences, we should not lose sight that these events cause unfathomable losses for families and friends, shred our communities, and scar the survivors. Three days before the last day of school, senior Kendrick Castillo was killed as he and other classmates tried to stop one of the assailants at his school. It is an unfair and heartbreaking loss for his family and for all of us. Members of our CU Anschutz Medical Campus community were also shaken by events at the STEM School. Colorado Public Radio reported on Jason Persoff, MD, associate professor of medicine, and his wife Irma’s efforts to reach their two sons who are students at the school. Jason explained how helpless he felt: “But at the same time, I realized my kids were still locked in that school. And I couldn’t get there. I’m stuck at home, and I can’t do a damn thing. I didn’t know how to react.” Fortunately, their sons were not physically harmed. 

The Department of Family Medicine’s Eugene S. Farley, Jr. Health Policy Center, issued a health policy brief, “Protecting Colorado Youth from Gun Violence,” last week. The authors, Jennifer Mijer, MD, and Shale L. Wong, MD, MSPH, offer policy recommendations that include requirements for safe storage of firearms, waiting periods for purchasing firearms, and licenses or permits that authorize the individual to purchase and possess a firearm.

Richard Johnson, MD, professor of medicine, and Lee Newman, MD, professor at the Colorado School of Public Health and director of its Center for Health, Work & Environment, are two of the authors of an article, “Chronic Kidney Disease of Unknown Cause in Agricultural Communities,” published last week in The New England Journal of Medicine. They report: “A spate of chronic kidney disease is occurring in several regions of the world, affecting manual workers in hot, agricultural communities. The causes remain unclear but may involve a complex interplay of environmental exposures, infections, genetic factors, and heat.” 

Indira Sriram, PhD, and Robin Harland, who are graduating in this year’s School of Medicine class of MD students, with Steven Lowenstein, MD, MPH, professor of emergency medicine and associate dean for faculty affairs, wrote an article published last Friday by the Journal of Hospital Medicine from the perspective of the much unloved electronic health record (EHR). “We need to have an honest chat. My name is EHR, although you may call me Epic, Athena, Centricity, or just ‘the chart.’ You may have called me something worse in a moment of frustration. However, I do not hold grudges. I am your silent, stoic partner, a ubiquitous presence when you are at work, and sometimes even when you are at home.” The article is a thoughtful and entertaining way to reconsider how to incorporate the EHR into our clinical care. One bit of proffered advice is crucial and timeless: “Though your practice is increasingly imbued with technology, there is still space to stop and hear your patients’ stories, as physicians have done for centuries. Listen. Make eye contact. Touch. Stop typing.” 


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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