Dean's Weekly Message

July 27, 2020

Dear colleague:

Leaders from the CU Cancer Center were featured in a virtual panel discussion last Thursday, July 23, that was moderated by Chancellor Don Elliman. They addressed challenges presented by COVID-19, including delayed clinical care, postponed screenings, and interrupted research. CU Cancer Center Director Richard Schulick, MD, MBA, said his schedule of cases is booked during the coming weeks with some even busier than usual days. Deputy Director Cathy Bradley, PhD, said an estimated 10,000 deaths due to cancer will be attributable to decreased screenings so far during the pandemic. Deputy Director James DeGregori, PhD, said his laboratory had fewer biopsies to work with because of the decrease in patient visits. Even with the disruptions, Jim said the CU Cancer Center team used the time evaluate large data sets, write manuscripts, read the literature, and do other productive work. “It’s not that we’re three months behind on research,” he said, “but we’re in a different place than we thought we’d be.” They each noted that the fight against cancer continues with the same vigor as always. We are fortunate to have this talented leadership team and all the dedicated members of the CU Cancer Center.

Last Monday, the School of Medicine and the Veterans Affairs Eastern Colorado Health Care System (ECHCS) held the first meeting of its reconstituted Academic Partnership Council. The meeting is an opportunity for us to work with the leadership of the VA on matters of mutual concern. Michael Kilmer, director of the VA ECHCS, and his team outlined their goals to boost the research collaboration between our institutions and I am confident that we have many opportunities to strengthen our ties. The local VA hospital is already in the top 20 of its peers in terms of research funding and through our partnership a top 10 status is within reach. These partnership meetings will also be beneficial for communicating with each other about our vital efforts to educate trainees and provide care to our nation’s veterans. At the meeting, we agreed to set up a task force to consider issues related to onboarding residents.

Kurt Stenmark, MD, professor of pediatrics and medicine, has been notified that his program project grant has been funded by the National, Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), providing nearly $14 million for the study “Complement Mediated Remodeling in Pulmonary Vascular Disease.” This proposal seeks to uncover novel pathogenic processes linking pulmonary vascular inflammation and vascular remodeling. The team will test the hypothesis that early and persistent pulmonary vascular specific activation of complement leads to persistent inflammation and vascular remodeling. Their goal is to uncover new biomarkers and new targets for intervention in this devastating disease. This new program grant follows the Cardiovascular Pulmonary Research Laboratory’s previous program project grant, “Adaptations to Hypoxia,” which is currently in its 45th year and is the longest continuously funded program grant at the NHLBI. Congratulations to Kurt and thanks to many investigators on our campus, including Maria Frid, PhD, Rubin Tuder, MD, Kirk Hansen  PhD,  Joshua Thurman, MD, V. Michael Holers, MD, Cassidy Delaney, MD, David Irwin, PhD, Raul Torres, PhD, and Claudia Michael, PhD.

The June/July 2020 Child Health Research Enterprise newsletter was distributed earlier month. This issue includes a Q&A with Stanley Szefler, MD, professor of pediatrics, who became the interim medical director for Children’s Hospital Colorado’s Research Institute in mid-June. The newsletter also includes a piece about collaborative work by CU School of Medicine faculty members Elena Hsieh, MD, Cullen Dutmer, MD, and Ross Kedl, PhD, in studying rare genetic disorders,  If you are unable to open the link, contact

Kathleen Flarity, DNP, PhD, associate professor of emergency medicine and deputy director of the CU Anschutz Center for Combat Research, has been promoted to the rank of Brigadier General in the United States Air Force. Her promotion from the rank of Colonel to Brigadier General was confirmed unanimously by the U.S. Senate on July 20. In addition, she has been selected to be the interim Command Surgeon of the USAF Air Mobility Command, becoming the first woman to hold this senior leadership role.

Ronald J. Sokol, MD, professor of pediatrics and director of the Colorado Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute, received the 2020 Sass-Kortsak Award from the Canadian Association for the Study of the Liver and the Canadian Liver Foundation, in recognition of outstanding contributions in the field of Pediatric Hepatology. Ron is the section head of pediatric GI, hepatology and nutrition in the Department of Pediatrics and director of the Children’s Hospital Colorado’s Digestive Health Institute, which was recently ranked No. 1 in the nation by U.S. News and World Report for pediatric GI and GI Surgery.

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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