Dean's Weekly Message

January 25, 2021

Dear colleague: 

At the State of the School address on January 13, I summarized School of Medicine accomplishments in 2020 that would be remarkable in any year. Our School celebrated the opening of a federally qualified health center in partnership with Salud Family Health Centers. Our clinical partners expanded throughout the community with our faculty as vital contributors to those efforts. Faculty-initiated clinical trials of cell-based immunotherapy – with treatments manufactured in our own facility – commenced on our campus. We recruited leadership to build a more robust data science and informatics program. Our updated curriculum for medical students will soon fully launch after years of diligent planning. Our collaboration with Colorado State University bloomed with third-year medical students beginning clinical training in the northern Colorado community, in advance of the first cohort of students for the full four-year program matriculating this year.

These achievements are even more impressive because members of our School community made them happen during the most challenging public health and economic crises in generations. You have been a constant source of strength, wisdom, compassion, and dedication during extraordinarily trying times. Our School made this progress by members of our community working together. You helped make this happen. Thank you for your good work. Let’s keep making progress this year.

One major goal for 2021 I announced in the State of the School address is our plan to move the supervision and administration of PhD programs from the Graduate School back to the School of Medicine. We are aiming to increase the number of graduate students in those training programs in the years ahead.

To help achieve that goal, the School of Medicine is seeking applicants for a new position – associate dean for research education – to lead and administer Graduate PhD programs within the Office of Medical Education. Our campus PhD programs offer training in a range of biomedical research areas and we are looking to strengthen and grow them with robust attention to recruitment and mentorship of highly talented and diverse applicants, students, and graduates. The associate dean for research education position is a 0.5 FTE, will recruit a full time director, and will report to the Senior Associate Dean for Education in the School of Medicine. Anschutz Medical Campus faculty interested in the position should have a doctoral degree and CU faculty appointment. Those interested should submit application materials to Deborah Stevens,, by Monday, February 8, with the subject line ADRE, and include a letter detailing interest, qualifications and vision, a statement of commitment to diversity and equity, and a full CV. Details are posted in an announcement of the position.

Another goal I discussed in the State of the School address is our constant duty to recruit top talent and help them achieve their best results when they are here. A major contribution in assisting the members of our campus community last year was contracting with to provide family care services, including child and adult care. With the stress caused by the pandemic and economic hardship, our campus leadership took an important step of adding an employee benefit intended to alleviate some of the concerns caused by needing extra help at home. Nearly 700 of the Anschutz Medical Campus community members who are eligible for the benefits have signed up, which is a 6 percent enrollment rate. The most common service used is back-up child care, with 102 days used since program benefits began to be offered in mid-September. Ninety percent of the reported use has been to replace child care because the participant’s usual provider was unexpectedly unavailable. We thank the campus human resources team for organizing the effort to add this critical benefit during a time of intense need.

While we continue to serve our patients and communities with excellent clinical care, professional training, and research, we must take care to protect our own health and those we encounter. Even though many faculty, residents, and others have begun receiving their vaccinations, we cannot relax the safety precautions we have instituted for those who are on campus. That means everyone coming to campus must check in each day, fill out the attestation form, and get a temperature check. Vaccinations have been shown to protect the person who gets the shot, but research is still needed to know whether those who have been immunized can spread the novel coronavirus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that all precautions continue, even for those who have been vaccinated.

Our campus precautions have been successful in limiting exposure on our campus. Due to the collective action we have taken, we have had very few outbreaks attributed to coronavirus exposure on campus. For the protection of all, we each must take appropriate action. If you are on campus, you must continue to wear a mask, limit in-person contact, wash hands frequently, and get a temperature check at check-in locations. No exceptions. Details are posted on the CU Anschutz coronavirus website.

Condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of Robert Schrier, MD, professor emeritus of medicine and the former chair of the Department of Medicine. He died Saturday at his home in Potomac, Md. Bob started his career in academic medicine at University of California, San Francisco in 1969 as an assistant and then associate professor. He moved to the University of Colorado in 1972 to become head of the Division of Renal Diseases and Hypertension. He became chair in 1976 and served in the role until 2002. Bob had numerous and significant research contributions in nephrology, including acute kidney injury, autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease, hypertension, diabetic kidney disease, and hormonal control of fluid and electrolytes in cirrhosis, heart failure, nephrotic syndrome, and pregnancy. His research was funded by the National Institutes of Health and other foundations for over 40 years and he was the author of more than over 1,000 scientific manuscripts. 

The University of Colorado Board of Regents this month announced its selection of this year’s recipients of Honorary Degrees, Distinguished Service Awards, and University Medals. Lyda Ludeman, a longtime supporter of the Center for Women’s Health Research, will receive an honorary Doctor of Science, from our campus. Amy Davis, a philanthropist who supported causes in Colorado and Wyoming through the Courtenay C. and Lucy Patten Davis Foundation, which created five endowed chairs and supported multiple research funds on campus, will receive the Distinguished Service Award posthumously. Margaret Neville, PhD, professor emerita of physiology and biophysics, will receive the University Medal in recognition of her distinguished career and in gratitude for her endowment of the Cobb Professorship in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. The CU System has posted full list of awardees, including those from other CU campuses.

Today is the first day of Housestaff Appreciation Week, so please join me in recognizing our residents and fellows. Throughout the pandemic, our residents and fellows have been asked bear extraordinary burdens. In response, our residents and fellows have made extraordinary contributions to our School and our affiliated teaching hospitals. We have been impressed by their commitment to provide excellent care to our patients and to each other. Take a moment to thank them for their dedicated service.

The CU Center for Bioethics and Humanities is hosting an afternoon of virtual events to commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance day on Wednesday, January 27. Matt Wynia, MD, MPH, director of the center, will present “How Healers Became Killers: Nazi Doctors and Modern Medical Ethics” at noon. A panel discussion with prominent leaders from around the world will follow. The panel discussion is co-sponsored by the AMA Journal of Ethics, which released a special issue this month on the Legacies of the Holocaust in Healthcare. To register for one or both programs RSVP here.

Jacqueline J. Glover, PhD, professor of pediatrics and clinical case consultation lead for the Center for Bioethics and Humanities, has been elected a Hastings Center Fellow. Hastings Center Fellows are recognized for outstanding accomplishment, whose work has informed scholarship and improved public understanding of ethical issues in health, health care, life sciences research, and the environment. Jackie is one of 14 fellows recently elected to a group of more than 200.

Edward Ashwood, MD, professor of pathology, has been elected president of the American Board of Pathology’s Board of Trustees. The American Board of Pathology, founded in 1936, sets certification standards and promotes lifelong competency of pathologists.

Paritosh Kaul, MD, professor of pediatrics, has been elected president-elect of the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine (SAHM). He will serve as president-elect for one year, starting his term at the conclusion of the 2021 annual meeting in March. He will then become president of SAHM at the annual meeting in 2022. SAHM is a multidisciplinary, international organization committed to improving the physical and psychosocial health and well-being of all adolescents. 

Three School of Medicine faculty members have this month been named to leadership positions at Children’s Hospital Colorado. Sarah Milla, MD, professor of pediatrics, has been named chief of pediatric radiology. Emily McCourt, MD, associate professor of ophthalmology, becomes chief of pediatric ophthalmology. Todd Hankinson, MD, professor of neurosurgery, is chief of neurosurgery while continuing his role as clinical medical director.

A company co-founded by Malik Kahook, MD, professor of ophthalmology, announced earlier this month that it had secured a round of funding to continue development of its treatments for chronic ophthalmic diseases. SpyGlass Ophthalmics has projects addressing cataract/lens replacement surgery.

Emily Worthem, an ICU nurse at UCHealth Highlands Ranch Hospital, was one of the singers featured in the “Celebrating America” virtual concert last Wednesday after the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. Emily appears about 53 seconds into the video and she is one of many health care workers shown singing “Lovely Day” along with Demi Lovato.

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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