Dean's Weekly Message

March 2, 2020

Dear colleague: 

The School of Medicine and Salud Family Health Centers on Friday, February 28, celebrated the grand opening of the Aurora Community Health Center at its interim home at 562 Sable Boulevard. This clinic is a partnership between CU and Salud to provide greater access to primary care for the people of Aurora. This project has been in the planning stages for more than a year and the Sable location is a temporary site while Salud develops a 27-acre parcel at the southeast corner of North Airport Boulevard and East Colfax Avenue, that will house the clinic and other resources to help residents lead healthier lives. Other possible services include subsidized low-income housing, early childhood education, para-professional education, and job training.

The entire development will be known as the Aurora Community Health Commons and it is a much-needed resource in our community. In an analysis of three ZIP codes that surround the Anschutz Medical Campus – 80010, 80011, and 80012 – there are an estimated 48,000 people who do not have primary care providers. Our goal is to create a medical home that can help Aurora residents lead healthier lives and offer them the care they need when it can help them the most. Without a primary care clinic, too many people postpone care, which can cause ailments to spiral into more serious health problems. Delayed care also causes a reliance on higher cost emergency rooms for their care. We hope that this clinic will offer comprehensive and compassionate care for individuals at a lower total cost for the community.

Salud operates 13 community health centers in Colorado. Salud’s chief medical officer, Tillman Farley, MD, is an associate professor of family medicine and the son of that department’s former chair, Eugene Farley, MD. We are partnering with Salud because it has long been a valued partner of the School of Medicine. In Fort Morgan, for example, we have a family medicine residency training program at the Salud clinic. Together, we have plans to make the Aurora Community Health Commons a community resource and training center for CU health professions students. Salud will provide clinical rotations for students from the School of Medicine and our physician assistant and physical therapy programs. Students from CU’s nursing, pharmacy, and public health schools will also train there.

We are grateful to all who attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony last Friday, including Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman, who read a proclamation from the City of Aurora, and state Sen. Rhonda Fields, who has been a vital partner in our School’s efforts to provide care to everyone in the community, notably with her support of the student-run DAWN Clinic, which offers care for the uninsured. Also, I would like to thank Anne Fuhlbrigge, MD, senior associate dean for clinical affairs, for her persistent and successful leadership of this effort, which is a prime example of how our missions to provide excellent care and medical training are a valuable service to our community.

The CU Cancer Center hosted about 170 students from area high schools at its 12th annual “Learn About Cancer Day” on February 13. The students toured 14 cancer-focused labs, attended a panel of a young women’s breast cancer survivor group moderated by a genetic counselor, and heard lectures from John Tentler, PhD, associate professor of medicine in the Division of Medical Oncology, and Sarah Milgrom, MD, assistant professor of radiation oncology. Meghan Buran, MPH, from the Colorado School of Public Health, addressed “Cancer Prevention, Tobacco and Vaping.” This daylong event is another way we share our campus with our community and offer inspiration to high school students who aspire to become medical professionals. Thanks to everyone on campus who made it happen, especially Jill Penafiel, education and program manager for the CU Cancer Center.

Thomas Flaig, MD, professor of medicine in the Division of Medical Oncology, has been named vice chancellor of research, effective March 1. Tom has been serving as interim vice chancellor since August 2019 and prior to that he had been associate dean for clinical research for the School of Medicine and chief clinical research officer for UCHealth. Tom led the efforts to improve the clinical trials process and coordinate the research activities between the University and our clinical partners on the Anschutz Medical Campus. Tom is an excellent choice for the role of vice chancellor and brings great strengths as an administrator and a prolific researcher to the role.

With Tom’s appointment as vice chancellor for research, the School of Medicine and UCHealth are seeking candidates for the position of associate dean for clinical research and chief clinical research officer. Applicants must be a physician investigator with a doctoral-level degree, have a distinguished record of research leadership, and an appointment or eligibility for an appointment as an associate professor or professor in the School of Medicine. Details about the position are included in the job posting on the School’s website. For questions, contact Peter Buttrick, MD, senior associate dean for academic affairs for the School of Medicine, at and Jean Kutner, MD, chief medical officer for UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital, at

Congratulations to Marisha Burden, MD, associate professor of medicine and head of the Division of Hospital Medicine, and her co-author colleagues who wrote one of the top three articles published in 2019 by the Journal of Hospital Medicine (JHM). The article, “Opioid Utilization and Perception of Pain Control in Hospitalized Patients:  A Cross-Sectional Study of 11 Sites in 8 Countries,” was selected for the honor by JHM editors and Marisha and Angela Keniston, MSPH, data and analytics manager for the Division of Hospital Medicine, were invited to present the research at the Society for Hospital Medicine’s annual conference in April in San Diego in a session called “Evidence That Should Change Your Practice.” There were a total of 25 authors listed on the article including six colleagues from CU. The School of Medicine announced the publication of the article last summer, where you can find all the CU co-authors listed.

The School of Medicine hosted an event Friday, February 28, at the Denver Country Club to commemorate the establishment of the Emily McClintock Addlesperger Endowed Chair in Ovarian Cancer, which was made possible with a $2 million commitment from Richard and Peggy McClintock, along with family, friends, and the CU Gynecologic Oncology Council, chaired by Carol Goldstein, RN, PhD. The McClintocks made the gift in memory of their daughter. We are grateful to them and their son-in-law Jason Addlesperger for their generosity and vision. They were inspired by the innovative work of Saketh Guntupalli, MD, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology, and his team in the CU Division of Gynecologic Oncology. Kian Behbakht, MD, professor of obstetrics and gynecology, has been named the inaugural holder of the endowed chair.

Project managers for the Anschutz Health Sciences Building will hold a town hall meeting at noon Monday, March 9, in the Krugman Conference Hall to provide updates on the construction and to offer an opportunity questions and general discussion. CU Facilities Management has posted project information on its website.

A reception to say farewell to Nichole Zehnder, MD, assistant dean for admissions and assistant dean for student affairs, will be held at 5 p.m. Wednesday, March 4, in the Krugman Conference Hall. Nichole has accepted a position at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, effective April 15. Our School’s recruitment efforts have been bolstered by Nichole’s leadership. Please join us in thanking her for her dedication, energy, and productivity. All are invited.

The University has posted a webpage, “What You Need to Know at CU About Coronavirus,” to assist with questions about COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019). The spread of COVID-19 worldwide has led to concerns among public health officials, governmental officials, and stock market investors. The U.S. State Department in early February issued a travel advisory for China, raising it to “Level 4: Do Not Travel.” For CU employees, travel requests to China require approval by the provost. For all international travel, employees should follow university policy on pre-approval for international travel. Questions about employee travel should be directed to Associate Director of International Operations Joanne Wambeke​. As of Saturday, February 29, there were no reported cases in Colorado. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has posted a website with updated information about what is currently known about COVID-19, along with information for healthcare professionals.

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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