Dean's Weekly Message

March 22, 2021

Dear colleague: 

We gathered virtually on Friday, March 19, to celebrate our Class of 2021 on Match Day and for the news about the next destinations on their journey. Members of the class are heading to outstanding programs across the country, from University of California, San Francisco to Massachusetts General Hospital, from Oregon Health and Science University to Emory. More than 40 members of the class are staying in residency programs in Colorado that are part of the CU School of Medicine. After many students announced their future destinations on the online event, Jeff Druck, MD, associate dean for student affairs, summed up the feelings of our school, “Our hearts are filled with pride.”

The revelations of the day were not limited to residency assignments. We also found out about the emergency shopping list of faculty speaker Austin Butterfield, MD, assistant professor of psychiatry, who had recently rushed to Target to buy a plunger and Drano to cope with a home emergency. Austin transformed the awkward moment into a life lesson. Learn from challenges and don’t let your emotions control your ability to face them. Recalling Stoic philosophy, Austin explained, “The obstacle is the way.” He also advised the class members to keep their perspective, or as he put it, “Beyoncé didn’t become Beyoncé in a day; she was part of Destiny’s Child.” In other words, don’t forget where you came from, but keep going toward where you want to be.

We are certain that the members of the Class of 2021 are well-prepared for the challenges in the days and years ahead because they have been remarkably resilient, altruistic, professional, and dedicated during their time in medical school, and particularly during this pandemic year. We are indeed very proud and look forward to their continued contributions to our communities and the future of medical science and patient care.

Thanks to the Office of Student Life for organizing the festivities and, special thanks to Hailey Herman, student life events and admissions manager, who is leaving us to join the administrative staff at the Graduate School of CU Boulder. For several years, Hailey has been the glue holding together activities for our team and we are grateful for all her excellent work.

UCHealth last week announced the release of its 2020 UCHealth Community Benefits Report, showing that the health care system provided $1.1 billion in community benefits in the fiscal year 2020. That amount includes $427 million in uncompensated patient care. In fiscal 2019, UCHealth reported a total community benefit valued at $933 million, including $367 million in uncompensated care. The report shows a wide range of programs throughout the state that are supported by UCHealth. Our partnership with UCHealth is critical to the strength of our school. In 2020, UCHealth provided about $250 million to CU to support education, research, and clinical programs.

Michelle Haas, MD, assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases, has been selected as recipient of the 2021 Chase Faculty Community Service Award. The award provides $10,000 to a full-time University of Colorado faculty member who, in addition to fulfilling university responsibilities, has, pro bono, provided educational, humanitarian, civic, or other service in the community. Michelle has for many years provided pro bono exams for people seeking asylum. Initially, she conducted exams after hours at the Denver Metro Tuberculosis clinic and later expanded that to include the ICE Detention Center in Aurora. Working with physician leaders at Denver Health, she supported the development of the Denver Health Human Rights Clinic, which provides forensic exams for individuals seeking asylum. Last year, she led the implementation of the COVID-19 Enhanced Patient Support Program, which provides essential medical and social support resources to families and communities most impacted by COVID-19, as well as empowers communities with trusted health information through partnerships with community-based organizations. Congratulations to Michelle on this exceptional honor.

A new $8.7 million National Institutes of Health grant will fund a team of Colorado Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute investigators, led by Adit Ginde, MD, MPH, professor of emergency medicine, to test the real-world effectiveness of treating high-risk COVID-19 outpatients using monoclonal antibodies. Adit and a research team also will study ways to reach population groups at greatest risk of serious COVID-19 disease and hospitalization. The project aims to reach at least 4,000 Coloradans. For three months, the study will follow the outpatients with telephone surveys and electronic health records to determine the effectiveness of monoclonal antibody treatment in preventing hospitalization, to track long-term symptoms, and to gauge treatment access and health equity issues.

Sana Karam, MD, PhD, associate professor of radiation oncology, has been named the Marsico Endowed Chair in Head and Neck Cancer Research. This chair, established by longtime School of Medicine supporter Thomas F. Marsico, provides resources that will allow Sana to pursue high-risk, high-reward projects. Sana focuses on head and neck cancer research and investigator-initiated clinical trials to translate her scientific discoveries into clinical interventions. Endowed chairs ensure that our faculty can pursue innovative research that improves patient care. We are grateful to Tom for his partnership and generosity, and we look forward to Sana’s continuing contributions thanks to this support.

Joshua D. Garcia, who is pursuing a doctoral degree in the pharmacology graduate program, was named to the Rising Stars in Neuroscience Symposium at the University of Utah. Josh is one of eight late-stage graduate students selected to a program that provides career development and mentorship, with a particular focus on scientists from underrepresented groups. Josh is a mentee of Katharine Smith, PhD, assistant professor of pharmacology. Josh is also a recent recipient of a highly competitive National Institutes of Health Blueprint Diversity Specialized Predoctoral to Postdoctoral Advancement in Neuroscience (D-SPAN) Award, which supports pre- to postdoctoral transition of diverse graduate students.

Our country has seen a growing number of acts of violence against members of the Asian and Asian American community, culminating with the terrible shootings in metro Atlanta last week that resulted in eight deaths, including six women of Asian descent. We grieve with the families and friends of those who lost loved ones and we condemn these acts of violence. The hate crimes against Asians that have been occurring during the last year have been stoked by xenophobia and hostility and this divisiveness must stop for our country to heal. Our Office of Diversity and Inclusion is always available to provide support and resources for students, trainees, faculty, and staff. Please call on them for help. Also, Chancellor Don Elliman last week also reminded campus of other resources that are available. For reporting acts of discrimination, contact the Office of Equity. To share student concerns, contact CU Anschutz Listens. For assistance with mental health care, contact campus mental health resources. For additional external resources, go to Stop AAPI Hate.

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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