U.S. News and World Report last week released its annual rankings of medical schools and our school was listed No. 6 on the primary care rankings and No. 27 in the research category. In each case, the rankings are up from last year and are the highest placement we’ve had in the past six years. The categories and the U.S. News methodology for the rankings are described on its website. In addition, U.S. News ranks specific specialties and on this year’s list, our Department of Pediatrics ranked No. 5, Family Medicine No. 7, and internal medicine No 22. U.S. News rankings carry influence with many people who are looking for ways to evaluate medical school programs, which can be difficult to compare. We are pleased that we rank well among the 191 schools considered by U.S. News, but our most important measures of success are the health of our patients and communities, the quality of our graduates and trainees, and the impact of our research. I am proud of your achievements and we are committed to building on those successes every day and for the long term. Keep up the good work.
David B. Badesch, MD, professor of medicine, led an international team of investigators who conducted a 24-week study of Sotatercept, a new, first-in-class fusion protein therapy that showed significantly improved pulmonary-vascular, cardiovascular, and exercise-related outcomes in patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). The results of the study were reported in an article in The New England Journal of Medicine last week. David, who led the design of the study and served as the chair of the steering committee and as global principal investigator, called the work a team effort by collaborators from around the world. The study drug received Breakthrough Therapy Designation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which was the first such designation for a therapeutic candidate for PAH. David added that an editorial accompanying the article is by John Newman, MD, of Vanderbilt University Medical Center, who had trained in the pulmonary division at the CU School of Medicine. David trained with John at Vanderbilt and was inspired to come to Colorado by him. In his editorial, John observes that Sotatercept offers great promise: “This is a propitious advance for this difficult and fatal disease.”
Michael Zuscik, PhD, professor and vice chair of research of orthopedics, recently received a $3.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to analyze the link between the gut microbiome and osteoarthritis — specifically in the context of obesity – and investigate whether strategies that shape the gut microbiome can halt or reverse the progression of the disease. Michael and a colleague at the University of Rochester will lead a team of investigators from CU and the Rocky Mountain Regional VA Medical Center to explore how a dysbiotic gut microbiome causes osteoarthritis. The new grant is the latest in a successful expansion and integration of orthopedic research efforts at CU over the past two years. Michael is the director of the Colorado Program for Musculoskeletal Research, which serves as the research arm of the Department of Orthopedics. Since the program was established in 2018, five investigators have been recruited, doubling the number of research-focused orthopedics faculty to 10. The addition of these new faculty members has strengthened the department’s research base and has led to collaborations with more than 30 faculty in eight basic science and clinical departments across the four CU campuses. Even more impressive, the department’s total research portfolio has increased nearly eightfold, from $2.4 million in 2018 to $19.7 million today.
Kristen Nadeau, MD, professor of pediatrics, has been selected as the recipient of the 2021 American Diabetes Association (ADA) Outstanding Achievement Award, which recognizes scientific accomplishment by a scientist under the age of 50. As award recipient, Kristen is invited to deliver a lecture at the ADA’s annual scientific sessions later this year. Kristen’s studies aim to understand how insulin resistance in youth with type 2 and type 1 diabetes relates to the current and future complications of diabetes, such as heart disease, blood vessel disease, as well as exercise and muscle dysfunction and fatty liver disease. A critical feature of her work is a focus on underserved communities. Kristen’s early funding included support from the Center for Women’s Health Research and she was the recipient of the center’s first seed grant, which is now a major campus program.
Robert Meguid, MD, MPH, associate professor of surgery, and Daewon Park, PhD, associate professor of bioengineering, have been named recipients of the MSA Mentor of the Year Award. The MSA Mentor Award is based on student nominations and the nominees’ contributions to mentoring. The Mentored Scholarly Activity (MSA) project is a four-year longitudinal course requirement for all students, culminating in a capstone presentation prior to graduation. The MSA is aimed at fostering self-directed life-long learning and connects students with faculty member mentors. Congratulations to Robert and Daewon and thank you to all faculty who have shown their dedication to teaching through the MSA.
Melissa Lowrey has been promoted to director of professional risk management for the School of Medicine, effective May 1. Melissa has been with the school for more than 10 years, most recently serving as associate director of professional risk management. Prior to working in school’s risk management office, Melissa worked for more than 15 years as a nurse and nurse practitioner. This critically important role provides risk and claims management services, requiring clear-eyed evaluation of multiple individual cases and collaboration with many entities on campus. Susan West, who has filled the role for many years, is stepping down June 30 after assisting with a transition of duties to Melissa. We are grateful to Sue for her dedicated service in this important role.
The Pew Charitable Trusts is inviting nominations for a candidate for the 2022 Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences award. The deadline for submitting materials to the campus internal review committee has been extended to Friday, April 9. Interested candidates must send a one-page summary of their research proposal and their biosketch in pdf format to email@example.com. The deadline for sponsoring organizations to submit nominations to Pew is May 17. The February 16 research bulletin from the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research provides additional detail.
The CU Center for Bioethics and Humanities is hosting daily virtual events at noon April 5-8 as part of its annual Holocaust Genocide and Contemporary Bioethics Program. A series of speakers will address the theme “Then and Now: Courage, Complicity, and Compromise,” exploring how clergy, health care professionals, and others in Nazi Germany were complicit in facilitating the Holocaust and how this legacy intersects with efforts of contemporary health care workers who have faced a moral choice to speak up or remain silent while in the line of professional duty. A panel on “Moral Courage in Healthcare” with local community leaders is scheduled for Thursday. See the full schedule and RSVP here.
Free COVID-19 testing for members of the CU Anschutz Medical Campus community has been extended thanks to COVIDCheck Colorado. The testing is provided at the Aurora Public Schools Professional Learning and Conference Center, 15771 E. First Ave. Testing is available to CU Anschutz employees and students and their household members.
The University has been designated to receive a limited supply of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine and last week began scheduling vaccination appointments for CU Anschutz employees and students who had not previously been invited to schedule through our hospital partners. Those who need assistance with an appointment should contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a good week,
John J. Reilly, Jr., MD
Richard D. Krugman Endowed Chair
Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs and
Dean, School of Medicine