Dean's Weekly Message

October 26, 2020

Dear colleague:

Casey Greene, PhD, has been named director of the new Center for Health Artificial Intelligence at the School of Medicine and professor of biochemistry and molecular genetics. Casey joins us from the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, where he is associate professor of systems pharmacology, and director of the Childhood Cancer Data Lab for Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. Casey’s experience is an ideal fit for our new center, which will build new capabilities on campus for advanced data analysis, which is one of the goals I outlined in my State of the School address in January. We are fortunate to have Casey joining our faculty and bringing his energy and talent to this key strategic focus. 

Lori Sussel, PhD, has been named associate vice chancellor for basic science research for CU Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus. Lori is a professor of pediatrics and cell and development biology and the director of the basic and translational research division at the Barbara Davis Center for Diabetes. She is the first person to hold this new role and she is an excellent choice for the job. Earlier this year, under Lori’s leadership, our campus was newly designated a Diabetes Research Center with a major award from the National Institutes of Health. 

Craig Jordan, PhD, CU Cancer Center member and chief of the Division of Hematology in the Department of Medicine, has been awarded a 2020 National Cancer Institute Outstanding Investigator Award. This seven-year award provides over $5.9 million in research funding. The work done in Craig’s lab focuses on acute myeloid leukemia and identifying common foundational properties of primary human leukemia stem cell (LSC) that can be employed in the development of therapeutic strategies. The focus of Craig’s studies will be to understand and exploit novel aspects of LSC biology. 

Each year, board-certified physicians in the ranked specialties are eligible to participate in voting for the top hospitals and specialties for the “U.S. News & World Report Best Hospitals” rankings. To be eligible to participate in the 2021 rankings calculations, you must be a registered member of Doximity by Nov. 1, 2020. Voting for the best hospitals rankings will open in February 2021. The School of Medicine has posted online more information about the U.S. News hospital ranking process. 

We would like to thank Gov. Jared Polis for providing video remarks that were shared during a Project ECHO presentation last week. The COVID-19 Just-in-Time ECHO for Primary Care is a statewide partnership to provide current information and to answer questions for primary care physicians and related providers throughout the state. The governor thanked physicians and allied health providers for “building the ship as it sails during this unprecedented time” and he added, “The ability to collaborate remotely with health care professionals from a variety of backgrounds is really important to disseminating the right information and ensuring that Coloradans are getting the best care.”  

The School of Medicine Gender Equity Task Force presented its report to the School of Medicine Executive Committee last Tuesday, with recommendations intended to provide better support and recognition of female faculty. The recommendations include establishing and maintaining stronger pathways for promotion from associate professor to full professor, revising promotion criteria to recognize service activity, and creating processes to ensure that women faculty are nominated for major awards. One obvious example: CU annually awards Distinguished Professor titles for career achievement, yet our campus recordkeeping is incomplete in how many women have been nominated. What we do know is that there are 12 current Distinguished Professors in the School of Medicine ranks, but only two are female. We can and must do better. As a School, we have made progress in some areas. Pay equity has been a priority and we have worked with departments to address those cases. In comparison to our national peers, we have also been successful in promoting women to full professor and hiring women to serve as chairs. Nine of the 23 departments of the School of Medicine, or 39 percent, are chaired by women, compared with the 2019 national average of 19 percent of women department chairs at U.S. medical schools. The task force report also shows that 32 percent of full professors at the School of Medicine are women. According to the AAMC, 25.7 percent of full professors at U.S. medical schools are female. I would like to thank Judy Regensteiner, PhD, director of the Center for Women’s Health Research and professor of medicine, and Angie Ribera, PhD, chair of physiology and biophysics, for leading this task force and all who served on the committee and supported it. I look forward to our School taking steps to make these practical recommendations a reality.  

The School of Medicine Executive Committee and the Faculty Senate voted last week to recommend approval of the creation of a Division of Pediatric Anesthesiology in the Department of Anesthesiology. The proposal now goes to the Provost and the Chancellor for review. Currently, pediatric anesthesiology is a section in the department. Becoming a division is intended to recognize the strength of its training programs and research work and to be consistent with structures at peer institutions. 

JAMA last week published a set of clinical guidelines for adults with Down syndrome. The recommendations address 10 selected high-priority areas: mental health, Alzheimer-type dementia, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, obesity, osteoporosis, atlantoaxial instability, hypothyroidism, and celiac disease. The average life expectancy for adults with Down syndrome has increased substantially, from 25 years in 1983 to 60 years in 2020. The Global Down Syndrome Foundation recruited expert Down syndrome clinicians, to form the Global Medical Care Guidelines for Adults with Down Syndrome Workgroup, which in turn created these evidence-based guidelines. The report is a significant contribution to care for people with Down syndrome and their families. Authors on the article include Bryn Gelaro and Michelle Sie Whitten of the Global Down Syndrome Foundation, and Barry A. Martin, MD, associate professor of clinical practice of medicine. 

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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