Dean's Weekly Message

February 1, 2021

Dear colleague: 

UCHealth inoculated 10,000 people over the weekend at the largest mass vaccination event in the state of Colorado. Richard Zane, MD, chair of emergency medicine and UCHealth’s chief innovation officer, said: “First and foremost, we were able to vaccinate almost 10,000 over the course of two, six-hour days. The time in which we vaccinated them, we hit it out of the park.” The average time per vehicle entering the Coors Field parking lot for the drive-through clinic to departure was 22.4 minutes, and that includes the 15-minute observation period after getting the shot. Another highlight: Zero doses lost. This is an outstanding achievement by the team of nurses, pharmacists, physicians, and all other professionals who came together for this important effort. National Jewish also hosted a large-scale vaccination event on Saturday, inoculating 1,000 people last Saturday. 

Richard Duke, PhD, associate professor in the Division of Medical Oncology and co-director and principal investigator of the Colorado AMC REACH Hub, has been named recipient of the 2020 Tibbetts Award, which recognizes individuals or organizations exemplifying the spirit and intent of the Small Business Innovation Research and the Small Business Technology Transfer programs. In its announcement, the U.S. Small Business Administration says that Rick’s career “provides a textbook example of the close ties between academia, business, and innovation.” Rick is a successful entrepreneur and a leader in public policy. Working with the Colorado Biosciences Association, he helped create the Biotechnology Discovery Evaluation Grant Program to support early-stage life science technology. He also founded the Colorado Institute for Drug Device and Diagnostic Development, a nonprofit that provides seed capital early-stage life sciences companies. 

Mark Kissler, MD, instructor in the Division of Hospital Medicine, Katherine Kissler, PhD candidate at the CU College of Nursing, and Marisha Burden, MD, head of the Division of Hospital Medicine, are authors of a Perspective article, “Toward a Medical ‘Ecology of Attention,’” published last week by the New England Journal of Medicine. They offer suggestions for ways to improve concentration to improve patient care and work satisfaction. It’s a good reminder to turn off the interruptions and focus. 

Heather Carmichael, MD, a resident in the Department of Surgery, is author of “The Surgeon and the Mother,” a Perspective article published last week by The New England Journal of Medicine. She writes about her experience giving birth to a son who had a congenital diaphragmatic hernia and needed immediate life-saving care. “I did not get to hold you for the first 3 weeks of your life,” she writes at the beginning of her essay. It’s a worthwhile read. 

Diane M. Straub, MD, MPH, has been named head of the Section of Adolescent Medicine in the Department of Pediatrics. She joins our faculty as visiting professor of pediatrics on June 1, 2021, from the University of South Florida, where she has been professor of pediatrics and chief of its division of adolescent medicine since 2006. She succeeds David Kaplan, MD, MPH, who has been section head for 37 years. 

Stephanie Nwagwu, medical student in the Class of 2022, has been elected national chairperson of the Student National Medical Association. Last year, Stephanie was elected to the SNMA Board of Directors as regional director to the executive committee and Region III Director. The Student National Medical Association (SNMA) is the nation’s oldest and largest independent, student-run organization focused on the needs and concerns of medical students of color. The SNMA has more than 7,000 members who are medical students, pre-medical students, and physicians. 

Condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of Robert Allen, MD, professor emeritus of medicine and former head of the Division of Hematology, who died on Friday, January 22. Bob joined the CU School of Medicine in 1977 and had a distinguished and productive career. He published over 200 major scientific papers and received 16 U.S. patents for a range of blood tests and treatments for diseases related to vitamin deficiency. His most significant discovery was the existence of chemical analogs of Vitamin B-12 in human blood. These analogs produced false results on the tests in use at the time, causing misdiagnosis of sometimes fatal vitamin deficiencies. He also discovered that early formulations of pre-natal vitamins were designed in a way that prevented the proper uptake of B-12 and iron. His reformulation, along with the blood tests and treatments discovered in his lab, are still considered the gold standard of diagnosis and treatment for B-12 and folate deficiencies. In 2019, the campus hosted a luncheon to express gratitude to Bob and his wife Nancy for their generous support that has led to the creation of four endowed chairs at the School of Medicine. 

The Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS) test of the United States Medical Licensing Examination has been discontinued, the two organizations that sponsor the exam announced last Tuesday. “We have no plans to bring back Step 2 CS, but we intend to take this opportunity to focus on working with our colleagues in medical education and at the state medical boards to determine innovative ways to assess clinical skills,” the United States Medical Licensing Examination statement said. When the Step 2 Clinical Skills test was postponed last May due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the test sponsors said they planned to suspend for 12 to 18 months. The decision should strengthen our evaluation process by shifting the emphasis away from a one-day, high-stakes test to a more comprehensive analysis of student competency. 

Judges are needed for the Mentored Scholarly Activity Capstone presentations on Tuesday, March 2. There are three hour-long sessions beginning at 1 p.m. and judges are needed for each session. The Mentored Scholarly Activity project is a four-year longitudinal course requirement for all students. It is aimed at fostering self-directed, life-long learning. Students work with a mentor to complete their projects. Sign up through this link to judge one, two, or all three sessions. For questions, email

5280 magazine has opened its voting for 2021 Top Doctors. Physicians are invited by the magazine to vote for the doctors they would trust to treat themselves or a loved one. Last year, the magazine listed 339 doctors from 98 specialties. Each year, about half of the list is comprised of faculty members of the CU School of Medicine. To vote, physicians need their Colorado license number. Polls close on Friday, March 12.

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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