Dean's Weekly Message

June 14, 2021

Dear colleague: 

With the relaxing of COVID-19 protocols across the state and more activities beginning to return to campus, it has been good to see many new and familiar faces this month. As a reminder to those returning to campus, there is now an optional vaccine sticker available. To get your sticker, stop by Hensel Phelps in Research 1 North Building between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m., scan your badge, show your vaccination verification, and get a sticker applied to your badge. 

The CU Cancer Center’s head and neck cancer program received a highly competitive Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPORE) grant from the National Cancer Institute. Antonio Jimeno, MD, PhD, professor of medicine in the Division of Medical Oncology, and XJ Wang, MD, PhD, professor of pathology, led the team to secure the grant, which is designed to enable the rapid and efficient movement of basic scientific findings into clinical settings, as well as to determine the biological basis for observations made in individuals with cancer or populations at risk for cancer. The SPORE grant directly impacts our cancer patient population in real time and enables access to and initiation of CU Cancer Center clinical trials that otherwise would not be possible.  

You may have noticed some new TV commercials, billboards, and ads promoting the work of the CU Cancer Center in partnership with UCHealth. The “Art of the Comeback” campaign launched last week and spotlights our facilities’ cancer survival rates, which are higher than the state average. We are proud of the work of the CU Cancer Center members who are helping improve testing and treatment options for those in Colorado and surrounding states. 

Lilia Cervantes, MD, associate professor of medicine, was honored with a Society of Hospital Medicine Award of Excellence for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for her work in the Latino community during the COVID-19 pandemic. Early in the pandemic, Lily noticed the disproportionate toll the virus was taking on Denver’s Latino community. She immediately began conducting research to understand the challenges Latino communities were facing and what interventions might help. Her work has led to local and national interventions to address disease misinformation, coupled with economic and immigration concerns. Those changes included training community workers at community-based organizations and offering pop-up vaccine clinics in medically underserved areas. 

Lauren Hughes, MD, MPH, has been named the chair-elect of the board of directors of the American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM). Lauren is an associate professor of family medicine and state policy director of the Eugene S. Farley Health Policy Center at Anschutz Medical Campus. She serves the ABFM on the Research & Development Committee, the Engagement & Communication Committee, the Certification Committee, and the Strategy Implementation & Operations Committee as its chair. 

Melissa Haendel, PhD, chief research informatics officer for the Anschutz Medical Campus and professor of biochemistry and molecular genetics, has been named the Marsico Endowed Chair in Data Science. This chair, established by longtime School of Medicine supporter Thomas F. Marsico, supports our vision to transform the campus use of information and information systems to accelerate discoveries, streamline health system operations, and continuously improve patient care. We are grateful to Tom for his partnership and generosity, and we look forward to Melissa’s continuing contributions thanks to this support. 

Condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of William “Bill” Kaehny, MD, who died June 4. Bill joined the University of Colorado School of Medicine in 1973 and served in numerous roles, including program director for the internal medicine residency, from 1991­­to 2006. He also worked at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center and was chief of the renal section for several years. He served as chief of the medical service from 2008–2011. His family plans to have a memorial event at the medical school later this year. Until then, the family asks that those so inclined will help celebrate his life by sharing a story.

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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