Dean's Weekly Message

August 24, 2020

Dear colleague:

David Ecker, MD, assistant professor in the Division of Hospital Medicine, will lead the first phase of the new MD Trek curriculum scheduled to launch in fall 2021. In this new role as assistant dean of medical education, David will be responsible for the implementation and oversight of the integrated basic, clinical, and health systems sciences for our first-year medical students. He will continue to serve as a member of the overall curriculum reform team. For the past nine months, he has been leading the complete redesign of the Plains component of the Trek Curriculum, assuring that organ system courses are integrated with health systems science, clinical reasoning, communications, and physical exam skills. David is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Tulane University School of Medicine and the 2019 recipient of the President’s Excellence in Teaching Award. David has experience in designing and leading educational initiatives that integrate basic and clinical science courses here and at the University of South Florida, where he received with the Dean’s Excellence in Teaching Award. Currently, he serves as the director of our Foundations of Doctoring Curriculum across all four phases of our curriculum and as the director of our required clinical practice examination for all graduating students. Join me in congratulating David and thanking him for his commitment to our students and faculty through an innovative curricular design positioning our students as curious, committed physician leaders.

This year’s One Book One Campus selection is “Black Man in a White Coat,” a memoir by Damon Tweedy, MD, who is a psychiatrist at Duke University School of Medicine. The book, which was published in 2016, describes his experience facing racial bias and the health issues facing Black Americans. The CU Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education (CU CIPE) in conjunction with the Strauss Library will offer book clubs. Sign-up information will be coming soon. Damon Tweedy will also be an invited speaker as part of the Center for Bioethics and Humanities’ Intersections of Race, Class, and Health Lecture Series. His talk will be at noon on Monday, October 19. Future talks complementing the One Book One Campus program this academic year will feature Naa Oyo Kwate, PhD, author of “Burgers in Blackface,” Jonathan Metzl, MD, PhD, author of “Dying of Whitness,” and Dayna Bowen Matthew, JD, author of “Just Medicine.” For a compilation of resources, go to the Department of Surgery’s Diversity Equity Inclusion webpage.

The Department of Family Medicine is beginning a study that will compare the effectiveness of medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder in primary-care office settings and at home. For the medication-assisted treatment with buprenorphine to be effective, the person with opioid-use disorder must be in active withdrawal. If not, the treatment can lead to serious side effects, such as nausea, tremor, and dysphoria. One of the difficulties is timing withdrawal to coincide with office hours. This study will compare the results of observed cases of induction in the office and unobserved cases of induction in the home. The study, funded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, is led by the Department of Family Medicine’s Linda Zittleman, MSPH, senior instructor, and Don Nease, MD, professor and vice chair for community.

C. Neill Epperson, MD, chair of psychiatry, and Judith G. Regensteiner, PhD, professor of medicine and director of the Center for Women’s Health Research, are among the international co-authors of a review article in the August 22 issue of The Lancet. The article explains clearly how the genetic, epigenetic, and hormonal influences of biological sex influence physiology and disease, and how the social constructs of gender affect the behavior of the community, clinicians, and patients in the health-care system and interact with pathobiology. The goal of the article is to guide clinicians and researchers to consider sex and gender in their approach to diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases as a necessary and fundamental step toward precision medicine, which will benefit men’s and women’s health.

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner visited the Anschutz Medical Campus on Monday, August 17, to tour the Marcus Institute for Brain Health and the National Mental Health Innovation Center (NMHIC). Matt Vogl, MPH, executive director of the NMHIC, was quoted in a Denver Post article about the visit by Gardner and U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, a Kansas Republican.

The University of Colorado’s economic impact to the state totaled $14.2 billion in fiscal year 2019, according to a new study completed by the Business Research Division of the CU Boulder Leeds School of Business. The report was delivered last week to the finance committee of the CU Board of Regents. The $14.2 billion total reflects the impact of expenditures and payroll – in education and research, and at clinics – across CU’s four campuses and its hospital affiliates on the CU Anschutz Medical Campus, UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital and Children’s Hospital Colorado. According to the report, the economic impact by unit is CU Boulder, $4.2 billion; CU Anschutz Medical Campus, $3.9 billion; CU Denver, $823 million; University of Colorado Colorado Springs, $591 million; and the CU system administration, $200 million. The economic impact of our partner hospitals on the Anschutz Medical Campus is $2.4 billion for UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital and $2.2 billion for Children’s Hospital Colorado.

Condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of Dennis Ahnen, MD, professor emeritus of medicine, who died last week. Dennis was a member of the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology and an international expert in the field of colorectal cancer. In 2014, Dennis retired from his faculty position at the Department of Veterans Affairs Eastern Colorado Health Care System after 32 years of service and in 2016, he retired from the University of Colorado School of Medicine faculty. In 2017, he was awarded emeritus status by the School of Medicine. Dennis was a highly respected clinician, educator, and research, and a valued member of our faculty. When Dennis was diagnosed with cancer about a year ago, a fund was established at the Denver Research Institute, which is a nonprofit affiliated with the VA Eastern Colorado Health System, to create the Ahnen Visiting Lectureship Fund in honor of Dennis. Anyone wishing to contribute to this fund can send a check made out to the Denver Research Institute, attention Judith Jung, 3401 Quebec St., Suite 5000, Denver, CO 80207.  A virtual celebration of Dennis’ life, will be held October 3, 2020 at 3 p.m.

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.  For clinical news and patient stories from UCHealth, please visit UCHealth Today

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