Dean's Weekly Message

Jan. 13, 2020

Dear colleague: 

Thank you to all who attended or watched the State of the School address last Wednesday, January 8. Our School is continuing to invest and grow, and we are able to do this because of the dedication and productivity of you. Our faculty and staff are continually striving for excellence in teaching, research, and providing clinical care, and the results are improved health for our patients and our community. We have many accomplishments to be proud of, but we have many more challenges to face. In the near term, we are working on several priorities. Among them: Redesigning our medical school curriculum, organizing a structure to provide improved data analytics, and opening in partnership with Salud Family Health Centers a clinic that will provide care to some of the 48,000 of our neighbors who lack a primary care provider. We are strengthened by the work of our faculty, our clinical partners, and our generous philanthropic supporters. I want to thank everyone who contributes to the success of our School. We are interdependent and together we can provide better care to those who depend on us.

The CU Cancer Center recently was named a National Pancreas Foundation Center of Excellence, a designation that is reserved for only those sites that meet a set of criteria related to personnel and services. One factor in particular, the ability to surgically remove the cancer, is notable in the case of our cancer center. The use of surgery to remove pancreatic cancers is possible in about 15 percent to 20 percent of patients at the time of initial diagnosis. The techniques here allow for our faculty to operate on 30 percent or more of pancreatic cancer patients. In announcing the designation, Richard Schulick, MD, MBA, director of CU Cancer Center and chair of surgery, said: “We have one of the highest volumes of taking care of pancreatic cancer patients in the country. This has allowed us to develop specific expertise in the management of the disease.”

Congratulations to Marcy and Bruce Benson on receiving the Citizen of the West award at an event today, January 13, at the National Western Events Center. The Bensons served as outstanding leaders for the University during Bruce’s 11 years as president. They also have been community leaders with Denver Public Schools, Children’s Hospital Colorado, the Denver Zoo, the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District, and the Republican Party. The award, which is presented annually by the National Western Stock Show, recognizes leaders who have shown the spirit and determination of the western pioneers. The University grew stronger as a result of this formidable and effective team and they are highly deserving of this honor.

Speaking of the National Western Stock Show, volunteers are still needed for the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and Colorado Area Health Education Center (AHEC) booth at the National Western Stock Show. The stock show began last Saturday and runs through January 26. Volunteers will have access to the show grounds on the day they volunteer and those who volunteer for multiple shifts will be eligible for free event and rodeo tickets. Details about registering to volunteer are on the AHEC website. For more information, contact Patti Jo Wagner at 303-724-3808 or​.

Nichole Zehnder, MD, assistant dean for admissions and assistant dean for student affairs, has announced that she has been named associate dean for educational strategy at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, effective April 15, 2020. The University of Colorado School of Medicine has been fortunate to have her leadership and she will be missed by her many friends and colleagues here. Her energy, enthusiasm, and productivity have been a model for her peers. During her tenure as associate dean for admissions, applications to attend our School have increased significantly and she is a highly regarded leader in education. As a result of Nichole’s impending departure, the School will be conducting searches for both of her leadership roles.

The Clinical Faculty Scholars Program (CFSP) is accepting applications for its 2020 cohort. CFSP is an intensive mentored training program for early career faculty as they work toward career development awards or on their first independent, extramural project. Four to five faculty members are selected for the program and faculty from affiliated institutions are eligible. Since 2004, this program has trained 77 scholars, many of them are now in scientific and administrative leadership roles.  As a group, the scholars have published more than 800 peer-reviewed manuscripts in top general medical and specialty journals, and have obtained over $18 million in external grant funding from federal, foundation, and industry sources. The program is part of the Education, Training, and Career Development Core of the Colorado Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute. Program directors are Anne Libby, PhD, professor of emergency medicine, Allan Prochazka, MD, MSc, professor of medicine, and Brian Berman, MD, associate professor of neurology, with biostatistics expert Sarah Schmiege, PhD. Applications are due by Friday, March 20.

CU Anschutz Alumni Relations is hosting a new alumni wellness series, Happy & Healthy Hour, created to bring the CU Anschutz alumni community together for practical advice on personal wellness as health professionals. Each month, featured speakers will share their expertise on resiliency and wellness. January’s speaker is Neill Epperson, MD, chair of psychiatry. On Wednesday, January 15, Neill will be sharing “Tips for Mental Health and Wellness Across the Lifespan.” The event is at 6 p.m. in the Skaff Board Room, 4th floor of the Skaggs School of Pharmacy Building. Register here to join alumni, students, faculty and staff for a short talk on personal wellness followed by a reception.

The Medical Student Council held its Winter Gala on Friday, January 10, at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. This event was an enjoyable opportunity to relax and share the company of students, faculty, and alumni away from campus. In conjunction with the event, attendees donated care kits for the homeless. Thanks to all who organized and attended this event.

For those who work in the Fitzsimons Building, this is a reminder that there will be an electrical power outage from 5 p.m. Friday, January 17, until 5 p.m. Sunday, January 19. Service to the entire building will be off to replace the building’s main electrical service equipment. Entry into the building during the outage will be restricted to emergency access and essential personnel only. All electrical equipment, including computers and AV equipment, must be unplugged. Break room refrigerators also must be emptied and unplugged prior to the outage. Questions or concerns regarding this electrical outage should be directed to CU Anschutz Project Manager Robert Holzwarth at

There will be no message on Martin Luther King Day, Monday, January 20. Everyone is invited to join the School’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion to participate in the city of Denver’s annual MLK Jr. Marade, a 5K march that starts at the Martin Luther King Jr. statue in City Park near East 17th Avenue and Esplanade Street at 9:30 a.m. January 30.

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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