Dean's Weekly Message

May 10, 2021

Dear colleague: 

Last week, I had lunch with a small group of first-year medical students in the Fitzsimons Building. It was the first such gathering we’ve had in person since the pandemic began last year. Some students in the group had not yet met one another in person because of the need to remain socially distant. Others had not yet been inside the Fitzsimons Building. These lunches with students have been a feature of my time as Dean and I’ve missed them, even when the questions and conversations have been on challenging topics. For students, these meetings are important because they build community and strengthen bonds with each other and with the School of Medicine. For us, we hear directly how we can help and how we can do better. Our work reaches its highest meaning when we improve the lives of others. As we begin to emerge from the restrictions of the pandemic, we can again enjoy the company and collaboration that comes from meeting in person. When we meet face to face, it allows us to focus on listening to one another instead of staring at a bunch of boxes on a computer screen. Listening is required to understanding and then improving. Right now, we still must be careful about our in-person gatherings, but we can see a time when we can all safely be together again. Please follow the campus guidance and urge others to get the vaccine. 

Details about the Anschutz Medical Campus phased return-to-campus are posted online. There are a list of changes to expect starting June 1. These are first steps, not a full return to campus. These protocols should allow us to continue to have a healthy and safe workplace as we begin a slow and steady return. Please review them and abide. 

As we have seen with reports from India in recent weeks, we must remain vigilant in combatting COVID-19. According to the World Health Organization, for the week ending May 2, the number of COVID-19 cases globally remains at the highest levels since the beginning of the pandemic. India accounts for 46% of the global cases and 25% of global deaths reported, while making up 18% of the population. I would encourage you to consider ways you can help. Of note, our faculty and colleagues at UCHealth have organized a shipment of supplies. Saketh Guntupalli, MD, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology and director of the division of gynecologic oncology, and Shauna Sutton, an associate nurse manager at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital, were recognized in news reports last week for their efforts.

Last week, the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus unveiled a new name for one of our well-established and successful programs: the Ludeman Family Center for Women’s Health Research. Lyda Ludeman has been a longstanding philanthropic partner of the center and she has bestowed a level of support that deserves this honor and increased recognition by the wider community. Judy Regensteiner, PhD, co-founder and director of the Ludeman Center, has assembled formidable talent at the Ludeman Center, supporting more than 70 researchers with funding, mentoring, and training. The center has also provided educational programs reaching thousands community members in Denver and beyond. We are grateful for the extraordinary generosity of Lyda Ludeman and her family. The power of their philanthropy lives in the work of the center’s many dedicated scholars, who in turn are working to improve countless lives. 

The CU Physical Therapy Program has announced the establishment of the Andrew and Robyn Levy Family Endowed Fellowship in the CU Physical Therapy Program. This fellowship will provide at least $5,000 in support each year for a graduate student in the Rehabilitation Science PhD Program. The Levy family has deep roots in the CU Physical Therapy Program. Herbert Levy, PT, who is Andy’s father, was among the first group of PT Program graduates in 1947. Andy graduated from the program in 1977. We are grateful for Andy and Robyn’s generosity and for creating this opportunity for our students and researchers. 

Constance McMenamin, NP, MSN, senior instructor in the Department of Neurology, has been elected to serve as the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP)’s Colorado state representative. The AANP is the leading professional organization representing 118,000 Nurse Practitioners in the United States. Connie will serve a two-year term, effective July 1.   

Christopher Smith has been named vice chancellor for information systems and services for the Anschutz Medical Campus, effective June 1. Chris has held many leadership positions in the School of Medicine and at CU Medicine, and most recently he has been serving as associate dean of administration and finance for the School of Medicine. We have valued Chris for his hard work, dedication to the School of Medicine, solutions-oriented approach, and sense of humor. Laura Morris, who has been serving as interim chief information officer, has been named associate vice chancellor for information technology and chief information officer, effective May 1. We look forward to her continued contributions to the success of our campus. Please join me in congratulating Chris and Laura on their appointments. 

Congratulations to Jennifer Adams, MD, associate professor of medicine, for receiving the Chancellor’s Teaching Recognition Award, and to Deborah Seymour, PsyD, associate professor of family medicine, for receiving the President’s Excellence in Teaching Award. School of Medicine colleagues and graduating students selected Jennifer for her award, and Deb’s award is determined by selection of graduating students. Graduating students and colleagues in the Graduate School selected Chelsea Lohman Bonfiglio, PhD, assistant professor of cell and developmental biology, to receive the Chancellor’s Teaching Recognition Award

Jordana Hoppe, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics, is the lead author of an article published last week in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine that shows that a modulator therapy is safe and effective for young children with a common form of cystic fibrosis. This chronic, progressive, life-shortening genetic disease is caused by an absent or defective protein called the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) protein. Following approval of the first CFTR modulator in 2012, treatment could target the condition in some cases. Jordana’s study shows that the CFTR modulator lumacaftor-ivacaftor can be safe and well-tolerated by children ages 2 to 5 years old. Accompanying the article is a comment co-authored by Jennifer Taylor-Cousar, MD, professor of medicine for the School of Medicine and medical director of clinical research services at National Jewish Health. 

The School of Medicine is preparing to conduct a survey of faculty this fall. We launched the survey in 2016, with plans to follow up every two years. We conducted the 2018 survey, but last year our survey plan, like so many other plans, was disrupted due to the pandemic. The School’s Office of Professional Excellence is planning to utilize the Association of American Medical Colleges survey instrument, which will allow us to have access to comparative data at peer institutions. These surveys are important to our efforts to continuously improve our school, so please watch for notices and fill out the survey when you receive it this fall.

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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