Dean's Weekly Message

December 14, 2020

Dear colleague:

Chancellor Don Elliman announced last week that CU Anschutz faculty and staff have been granted an additional day of paid administrative leave for the holiday season. Employees may take one eight-hour day of additional leave between December 23 and January 1. Any leave must align with your business unit’s operational needs as directed by the unit’s leadership. Faculty and staff assigned to work in any UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital or Children’s Hospital Colorado space during this period who are responsible for patient care and clinical operations, or others who must work during this period, must report to work unless the specific hospital, clinic, or business unit announces a change in operations. If you are required to work, you may, with supervisor approval, choose an alternate administrative leave day prior to the end of the fiscal year on June 30, 2021.

Jay Lemery, MD, professor of emergency medicine, is the lead author of an article, “Training Clinical And Public Health Leaders In Climate And Health,” in the current issue of the journal Health Affairs. The article presents an agenda for expanding education on climate and health in health professions schools, and in professional and continuing education settings. The article represents work performed on behalf of the School’s Program on Climate Change and Health, which was recently launched. Listed among the co-authors are Cecilia Sorensen, MD, and Emilie Calvello Hynes, MD, from the Department of Emergency Medicine, and John Balbus, MD, MPH, who is senior advisor for public health at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Jay is a national leader in the field examining the health impacts of climate change on people around the world, and he is co-author of Enviromedics.

An article by Allison Kempe, MD, MPH, and colleagues from the School of Medicine, was listed as one of the Best Pediatrics Articles of 2020. The journal annually selects articles that had the greatest impact on readers. Allison’s article, “Parental Hesitancy About Routine Childhood and Influenza Vaccinations: A National Survey,” reports that nearly 1 in 15 parents in the United States are hesitant about routine childhood vaccines, whereas greater than 1 in 4 are hesitant about influenza vaccine. Allison W. Saville, MSPH, Laura Helmkamp, and L. Miriam Dickinson, PhD, all from the University’s Adult and Child Consortium for Health Outcomes Research and Delivery Science (ACCORDS), are co-authors with seven others from other academic institutions.

The Department of Anesthesiology last week was notified by the National Institutes of Health that the department has received a T32 training grant, which Chair Vesna Jevtovic-Todorovic, MD, PhD, MBA, said is the first in the history of the department. The department will be funded for one trainee in the first year and two slots in subsequent years. Congratulations to Paco Herson, PhD, professor of anesthesiology and vice chair for research, and all who contributed to the successful application.

Congratulations to the three recipients and all nominees for the 14th Annual Faculty Professionalism Award, which will be presented a future Faculty Senate meeting. This year’s awardees, with accompanying comments from nomination letters, are

Carlos Franco-Paredes, MD, associate professor of medicine. “Carlos advocates for the right thing both within and outside our institution, taking a stand, even when unpopular, to make sure our we are all consistently honoring the core traditions of the profession of medicine.” 

Jeremy Long, MD, associate professor of medicine. “Jeremy is a role model for professionalism who shows civil and courteous behavior in support of staff and colleagues, and has a singular ability to successfully navigate and avoid ego clashes and facilitate strong working relationships between different services in support of better patient care and coordination.” 

Carol Okada, MD, associate professor of clinical practice of pediatrics. “She elegantly weaves an ask of others that they hold themselves to a high standard as physicians and people, while simultaneously nurturing their growth and supporting them through difficult moments.” 

Thomas Flaig, MD, vice chancellor of research for CU Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus, gave his inaugural State of Research Address on Tuesday, December 8. The overview offered an organized summary of the role of central research operations on our campus and noted some of the accomplishments of research faculty. If you missed the live presentation, you can catch a recorded version on the State of Research webpage.

The Colorado Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute is hosting a town hall at noon Tuesday, December 15. Director Ronald Sokol, MD, will share information about resources for researchers, educational programs, and career development and funding opportunities. Sign up online.

Condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of William Hiatt, MD ’76, professor of medicine in the Division of Cardiology, and chief science officer and former president of CPC Clinical Research, who died Tuesday, December 8. Will joined the School of Medicine faculty in 1981, after completing residencies at Boston University and CU, and a fellowship here. Under Will’s leadership for 22 years, CPC established itself as a distinguished academic research organization providing expert scientific oversight and execution of clinical trials, including major studies that redefined therapies for peripheral vascular disease. In addition to his expertise in clinical trials, Will was an accomplished scientist, with more than 230 peer-reviewed publications. His research focused on new therapeutics for peripheral artery disease and endpoint variability adjudication in clinical trials. He was twice honored by the American Heart Association with major awards: In 2014, he was recognized as a Distinguished Scientist, and in 2018, he received the Clinical Research Prize. His colleagues at CPC have posted a remembrance that calls on us to honor Will’s legacy by following the Code of the West, which exhorts us to “Live each day with courage” and “Take pride in our work” among admonitions. Arrangements for a memorial are pending.

Condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of Mark Laudenslager, PhD, professor of psychiatry, who died Friday, December 4. Mark joined the department in 1980 as a postdoctoral trainee, rising to a full professor in 2008. Mark was a longtime leader of the Developmental Psychobiology Research Group T32 training program. Mark was a highly regarded mentor who was closely involved in training more than 60 graduates of the program. In 2013, he received the Norman Cousins Award from the Psychoneuroimmunology Research Society. As a researcher, he focused on the mitigation of distress in target populations, particularly caregivers, and its effects on mental health and physical well-being. He collaborated with more than 120 laboratories in his work. C. Neill Epperson, MD, chair of psychiatry, said Mark will be remembered as a beloved colleague.

Brad Nieder, MD ’00, offered a respite from the relentless clouds of 2020 and the pandemic with “An Evening of Comedy,” hosted by the CU Medical Alumni Association and the CU Anschutz Alumni. Brad, aka the Healthy Humorist, offered nearly an hour of stand-up for more than 280 alumni, students, residents, faculty, and staff, starting on a note of relief that people showed up. “I thought I was going to be up Anschutz Creek with this event, but you turned out,” he quipped. “By the dozens.” Brad offered many observations on our lives during COVID-19, including a riff on how the lack of themed birthday parties for children has reduced illness in his family. The attendees included current staff and graduates from as far back as 1954. “Old campus, new campus,” Brad said. “We’re all on the Zoom campus.” A recording of the event can be found on the CU Anschutz Alumni YouTube account.

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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