The rising number of COVID-19 cases in Colorado in October and November and the identification of the Omicron variant last month have re-emphasized the need for everyone to be attentive to practices that can reduce spreading the virus. Wearing masks remains a requirement inside our campus buildings and it is always a best practice when you are at indoor locations throughout the community. Donning a mask is a simple yet highly effective way to protect one another and to continue the progress we have made.
We know that viruses adapt to survive. So must we. To combat the new variant, we should get booster shots of vaccine. Last week, Pfizer-BioNTech announced that its vaccine produced serum antibodies that neutralize the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant after three doses. The third shot boosted protection from infection. Their laboratory study found that individuals without the booster shot were less protected from infection, though it appeared that they remain protected against severe forms of the disease.
Boosters are available to all Coloradans 18 and older six months or more after the initial Pfizer or Moderna vaccine series, or two months after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. I encourage you to schedule your booster when eligible, either through UCHealth My Health Connection or any vaccine provider.
The members of the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus community have been leaders in getting COVID-19 vaccinations. By adhering to our campus vaccination requirements, you have helped create a safer place for all to work, study, teach, research, and provide care. Now it’s time to take another step to protect our campus. In September, President Biden issued an executive order that requires us to show verification of employee vaccination. Failure to meet this requirement could jeopardize our federal contract funding. We’ve already done the hard part of getting everyone vaccinated, so now we need to document it. Take action today to document your COVID-19 vaccination status. It a simple process described in this message from Chancellor Elliman.
Steven Johnson, MD, professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases, was recognized last week by leaders of the National Institutes of Health for his contributions to the NIH “Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Treatment Guidelines .” A December 8 letter from NIH Director Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD, and Anthony S. Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the guidelines are the gold standard that have accrued more than 27 million page views as of late November. They wrote: “Your expertise has been invaluable. Your devotion to the process, participating in virtual meetings that typically occurred multiple times per week, and numerous hours spent in writing and editing content, are much appreciated.” They credited Steve and his fellow contributors’ efforts as resulting in guidelines that have “substantial national and international impact.”
Richard Schulick, MD, MBA, director of the CU Cancer Center and chair of surgery, and CU Cancer Center member Marco Del Chiaro, MD, clinical director of the Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary Program and division chief of surgical oncology, have been recognized as world experts in pancreatic neoplasms by the 2021 Expertscape rankings. They received this distinction based on data analysis placing them in the top 0.1% of scholars writing about pancreatic neoplasms, or pancreatic tumors, over the past 10 years. An article about the designation is posted in the CU Cancer Center newsroom, where you can also see a nice note from reader Jim White, who credits Rich for saving his life.
Congratulations to David Constantino, who last week was named this year’s recipient of the Steven Fadul Award, which annually recognizes an outstanding Professional Research Assistant or other member of the School of Medicine’s technical research staff. David has been a valued member of our campus community for more than 19 years in the laboratory of Jeffrey Kieft, PhD, professor and vice chair of biochemistry and molecular genetics. David handles day-to-day operations of the lab, which has around 15 members and a multitude of projects. In addition to managing the lab, David has produced scholarly work of his own, as an author on more than 15 papers from the Kieft lab, including first author papers in journals like Nature, Molecular Biology, and RNA.
The Department of Pediatrics awarded its 2021 Career Teaching Scholars Awards on Friday, December 10, to Professor Edwin Asturias, MD, Clinical Professor Adam Huff, MD, Professor Marilyn Manco-Johnson, MD, and Clinical Professor Shen Nagel, MD. The department also honored Professor Emeritus Arnold Silverman, MD, for 56 years of service.The Office of Medical Education is seeking candidates for the position of assistant course director for the Global Health & Underserved Populations Advanced Science Course. The assistant director will help create and implement the new course as a part of the required Advanced Science Course curriculum, which occurs immediately following the core clerkship experience. In this course, students will learn and apply biomedical, clinical, and health systems science concepts that are central to providing care to patients in a global health or underserved context. Applicants for this 0.1 FTE position must have a professional level degree and a current appointment in the School of Medicine. See the link at CU Careers for the job description and to apply. Contact Mary Teel,
firstname.lastname@example.org, with questions. Application review begins December 31.
The CU Board of Regents last week approved its charge to the Presidential Search Committee members to work with search firm Storbeck Search of Media, Pa., to provide a list of at least five candidates for review by the regents. The 16-member committee includes faculty, staff, students, deans, alumni, donors, and community members from across the state. From the Anschutz Medical Campus, the search committee includes Cindy O’Bryant, PharmD, professor of clinical pharmacy at the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, and William Mundo, a member of the Class of 2022 MD class and graduate of CU Denver. William also deserves congratulations because he was selected last week as a recipient of an American Academy of Emergency Medicine Resident and Student Association scholarship to assist him with costs for applying to residencies.
The CU Medical Alumni Association has launched a gratitude program to recognize our alumni this holiday season. Anyone can submit an alumnus or alumna for recognition as a CU Anschutz Alumni Hero at this link . Every nomination received before Jan. 31, 2022, will receive a hero pin and a handwritten note from an alumni association.
Have a good week,
John J. Reilly, Jr., MD
Richard D. Krugman Endowed Chair
Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs and
Dean, School of Medicine