The University of Colorado Board of Regents was briefed Wednesday, April 29, by senior University leaders on the state budget process and funding scenarios for the CU System. CU Chief Financial Officer Todd Saliman reported that the state legislature’s Joint Budget Committee has posted recommendations on its website that call for eliminating the 7 percent increase to the state’s overall higher education budget that had been approved earlier this year, removing funding for capital construction and controlled maintenance, and eliminating a 3 percent salary increase for state employees for the 2020–21 fiscal year. Todd said that campus budget scenario planning includes three scenarios: reductions of 5 percent, 10 percent, and 20 percent to system and campus operating budgets. The legislature is expected to begin debate over the state budget in mid-May.
U.S. Reps. Diana DeGette and Fred Upton gathered signatures from more than 180 congressional colleagues to urge lawmakers to include $26 billion in the next coronavirus relief package for scientific and medical researchers. Rep. DeGette is a Democrat from Denver and Rep. Upton is a Republican representing a district in southwestern Michigan. The pair worked together in 2016 to pass the 21st Century Cures Act, which boosted funding for biomedical research. In an announcement by Rep. DeGette last week, CU President Mark Kennedy offered his support, noting that the CU campuses have more than 2,100 graduate students and 850 postdoctoral researchers: “This proposed funding will ensure that we can keep researchers working in the short term and will ensure the success of the national research enterprise in the long run.”
Last week, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases reported that hospital patients with advanced COVID-19 and lung involvement who received remdesivir recovered faster than similar patients who received placebo, according to a clinical trial involving 1,063 patients. Preliminary results indicate that patients who received remdesivir, an antiviral treatment, had a 31 percent faster time to recovery than those who received placebo. On our campus, Thomas Campbell, MD, professor of medicine, has been leading has been leading an effort to study the drug. In a report on Colorado Public Radio, Tom said the trial shows some promising results, but that further review is needed.
Oliver Eickelberg, MD, professor of medicine in the Division of Pulmonary Sciences and Critical Care, and his laboratory colleagues are participants in the Human Lung Cell Atlas Lung Biological Network, which are among the authors of two papers published in high-profile journals in late April. The papers – one in Cell and the other in Nature Medicine – describe in detail the SARS-CoV2 receptor/entry protease expression patterns in humans, and are the first peer-reviewed large-scale studies of their kind. Such research is crucial to efforts to develop therapies that are molecularly guided. This work is a notable example of how scientists around the world are collaborating, sharing knowledge, and providing a source of inspiration for all as we confront COVID-19.
The Colorado Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CCTSI) announced four awardees of pilot grants under the CCTSI COVID-19 Related Research Program, which supports the development of novel diagnostic and treatment methods and innovative technologies related to the COVID-19 outbreak.
J. David Beckham, MD, associate professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases, plans to conduct a trial for treating hospitalized COVID-19 patients with convalescent serum. Anna Maw, MD, assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Hospital Medicine, plans to use ultrasound as an alternative to chest x-rays in diagnosing and monitoring COVID-19 lung involvement. Brian Montague, DO, associate professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases, aims to validate the use of serologic testing in healthcare workers to assess for the risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2. David Prawel, PhD, associate research professor of mechanical engineering at Colorado State University, will study additive manufacturing of certified PPE as a path toward mass production. I would like to thank the team at CCTSI for acting quickly to respond to the need for multiple investigations to treat patients, protect health care workers, and seek ways to prevent the disease. By funding such efforts, the CCTSI is proving how its work to accelerate research can improve lives.
Michael Bristow, MD, PhD, professor of medicine in the Division of Cardiology, is leading a team that received a grant last week from the American Heart Association (AHA) to study the specific mechanisms for how COVID-19 impacts the cardiovascular system. There were 12 institutions in the U.S. that were awarded $1.2 million in grants by the AHA as part of its COVID-19 and Its Cardiovascular Impact Rapid Response Grant initiative.
The initial steps for reactivating non-COVID related research activities on the Anschutz Medical Campus are ongoing. While we look forward to more activity on campus, the community is not there yet in terms of implementing the necessary testing and contact tracing we need. As a result, any work that can be done remotely should continue to be done remotely. We continue to abide by the “safer at home” approach. Only critical personnel currently should be on campus and no additional personnel should report to campus until they are invited. Prior to returning, personnel who have been notified that they can return will need to complete a Skillsoft training module entitled “CU: COVID-19 Return to Campus.” To find that training, go to https://passport.ucdenver.edu/login.php, then click on UCDAccess, then click on the tile SKILLSOFT, and then click on the tile CU Denver | Anschutz. The module is listed there.
Amos Bailey, MD, professor of medicine in the Division of Internal Medicine and director of the Palliative Care Program, offered a first-person account of his experience having COVID-19 in a blog post last week. “On March 10th, while at work, I started to feel sick and finished up at 1 PM,” Amos writes. “The next day I had fever, body aches, cough and was extremely tired. My wife started to feel bad as well. We both noticed we could not smell or taste anything and that it was hard to eat and drink when you have no desire.” Amos and his wife needed four weeks to recover and he describes the experience of taking steps to protect his family and co-workers. Since his recovery, Amos has become a plasma donor in the hopes that his antibodies against COVID-19 can help others. We are pleased to welcome Amos back and wish him and his wife a continued successful recovery.
Amira del Pino-Jones, MD, associate professor of medicine in the Division of Hospital Medicine, has been named assistant dean of student affairs in the Office of Student Life. Amira graduated from the CU School of Medicine in 2007 and completed her residency here in 2010. She has been a member of the School’s admissions committee for 10 years and has served as a mentor in the Advisory College Program since 2012. She also has been a Foundations of Doctoring preceptor, small group facilitator, and course director. She currently serves as the director of the Integrated Clinicians Course. We are pleased to welcome Amira to this critically important role of advising students at this challenging time. Thanks to students, faculty, and staff, who served on the search committee chaired by Steven Lowenstein, MD, MPH, associate dean for faculty affairs and professor of emergency medicine.
A new online Coursera course, “Researcher Management and Leadership Training,” by Anne Libby, PhD, professor and vice chair of academic affairs in the Department of Emergency Medicine, has been launched. This course, which features many faculty members and staff from the School of Medicine, is for early career researchers and mentors to help them develop management and leadership skills to execute funded projects well, and consequently enhance their research careers. Despite scientific preparedness and mentorship, many people have training gaps when it comes to managing resources from sponsored projects. Anne has published articles on the importance of good management skills, including a study of the University’s Clinical Faculty Scholars Program, which shows that it has helped young scholars boost their success in being awarded grants. Course development builds on work that Anne did during her fellowship with the Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine Program and was funded by a grant from the Doris Duke Foundation to Anne and Judy Regensteiner, PhD, professor of medicine and director for the Center for Women’s Health Research.
A message for our students was recorded by the faculty to express our confidence and support for them. The video splices together clips of faculty with a message: “You’ve got this.” The video is also a reminder that, even amid the turmoil of the pandemic, we can use this moment to focus on ways to improve the way we teach and care for one another. Our faculty point out that medical educators are improving the quality of virtual health, strengthening relationships and support structures, and emphasizing how to become key players in public health initiatives. They conclude with this message for students: “We are here for you because we know you are who we want to be there for us.”
The Association for American Medical Colleges has posted a virtual resource library that includes articles from the Harvard Business Review and the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and leadership tools from Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. In addition, there are several School and University websites with information and resources for members of the CU Anschutz Medical Campus community:
School of Medicine COVID-19 Informational Resources: https://som.ucdenver.edu/COVID-19
Coronavirus Research Guidance: https://www.cuanschutz.edu/coronavirus/research-guidance
Anschutz Medical Campus updates: https://www.cuanschutz.edu/coronavirus
Division of Infectious Diseases: https://medschool.cuanschutz.edu/infectious-diseases/information/ncov
Department of Psychiatry: https://medschool.cuanschutz.edu/psychiatry/covid-19-support
Thank you again to all who are putting in extra effort at this challenging time. Remember to take care of yourself so that you are in the best condition to take care of others.
Have a good week,
John J. Reilly, Jr., MD
Richard D. Krugman Endowed Chair
Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs and
Dean, School of Medicine