Dean's Weekly Message

March 8, 2021

Dear colleague: 

I am pleased to announce that Melissa A. Haendel, PhD, will be joining our campus as Chief Research Informatics Officer, a newly created position responsible for transforming the use of information and information systems. Melissa will also hold appointment as professor of biochemistry and molecular genetics in the School of Medicine. She joins us on April 1 from the Oregon Health & Science University, where she leads the Translational and Integrative Sciences Laboratory and is a professor of medical informatics and clinical epidemiology. Melissa is a highly accomplished and well-regarded national leader with a robust portfolio of externally funded programs and an impressive body of work. Among other accomplishments, during the pandemic she has been integral to the creation of the National COVID Cohort Collaborative (N3C), which is working to improve our understanding why some people get sicker than others, how the disease interacts with conditions like cancer or asthma, and whether particular treatments are effective. Please join me in welcoming her to the School of Medicine.

Andrea Gerard Gonzalez, MD, associate professor of pediatrics at the Barbara Davis Center for Diabetes, is one of the recipients of the 2021 CU President’s Diversity Awards. The award recognizes significant achievements of university community members in developing a culturally and intellectually diverse university community reflective of inclusive excellence. Andrea joined the Barbara Davis Center in 2013 to build a novel program dedicated to the special needs of Latinx children with diabetes. Today, the program helps over 100 Latinx families affected by childhood diabetes and works closely with the Colorado Latinx community to raise diabetes awareness across all age and ethnic groups. Her program now is part of a multisite effort at four outside diabetes centers across the United States. 

Last Monday, our campus hosted another in its series of virtual panels discussing COVID-19. Chancellor Don Elliman hosted more than 1,300 guests who tuned in. A video of the discussion is posted online.

I would like to commend our faculty for their remarkable productivity during a year when our work lives have been so disrupted. Several of our campus colleagues have been recently published in some high-profile journals.

Julia Promisel Cooper, PhD, chair of biochemistry and molecular genetics, is the senior author of an article, “Centromeres are dismantled by foundational meiotic proteins Spo11 and Rec8,” published last week in Nature.

Mamuka Kvaratskhelia, PhD, professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases, is the senior author of an article, “Sec24C is an HIV-1 host dependency factor crucial for virus replication,” published last week in Nature Microbiology.

Christopher Ford, PhD, professor of pharmacology, is senior author of an article, “Loss of nigral excitation of cholinergic interneurons contributes to parkinsonian motor impairments,” which was recently published online by Neuron, and is scheduled to appear in the April print edition.

Robert G. Kowalski, MD, MS, clinical instructor of neurology, is the first author of an original investigation published last week in JAMA Neurology that studied the recovery of consciousness in more than 17,000 patients with traumatic brain injury over a 31 year period.

The February 2021 Child Health Research Enterprise newsletter has been published. If you are unable to access it, contact for assistance.

Karen Orjuela, MD, assistant professor of neurology, has been elected 2021–2023 Chair of the Neurohospitalist Section of the American Academy of Neurology, which is the world's largest association of neurologists and neuroscience professionals, with 36,000 members.

Travis Leiker, senior director of development for the CU Anschutz Medical Campus, has been named one of the 40 under 40 by the Denver Business Journal. The publication annually honors 40 professionals under 40 years old for their leadership, professional accomplishment, and community service.

The current CU On The Air podcast by the CU System team features the creation of the Charles J. Blackwood Memorial Endowed Scholarship. The report features comments from Terri Richardson, MD, from the Mile High Medical Society, which led the effort to raise the private funds for the endowment. President Mark Kennedy and medical student Stephanie Nwagwu were also interviewed by CU Vice President of Communications Ken McConnellogue.

The Institute for Healthcare Quality, Safety and Efficiency (IHQSE) is requesting applications for entry into the ninth cohort of its Certificate Training Program (CTP). The CTP is a rigorous professional development program combining classroom sessions, coaching, and mentored enhancement of leadership teams who are charged with improving performance of care delivery systems. Applications are due April 2, and the program runs from August 2021 to June 2022. Visit the IHQSE CTP website for more details and to apply. Email questions to

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 →


If you would like to receive these emails directly, please contact  
To unsubscribe →

CMS Login