Dean's Weekly Message

May 24, 2021

Dear colleague: 

Our School of Medicine graduates celebrate commencement on Friday, May 28, with a Hooding and Oath Ceremony for medical students scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. After more than a year of isolation and infrequent contact with one another, we are fortunate to allow a limited number guests at this year’s event. Each graduate can invite two vaccinated guests to join us in celebrating this important accomplishment in their lives. Our school is launching a well-trained and pandemic-tested Class of 2021 into the world. The resilience of our graduating class is extraordinary and we are confident that they will be outstanding physicians and leaders. Graduating students Eliza Baird-Daniel, Simon Feseha, Gavi Roda, and Sara Graves are featured in articles on our Graduation Ceremony 2021 webpage. For those who cannot attend the ceremony, the school is also offering a livestream of the ceremony. Please join me in calling on Mother Nature to cooperate with our gathering by granting us a day of sunshine. Special thanks to Chancellor Don Elliman for allowing our graduates to invite their two guests to campus for the event. 

As we celebrate our graduates, it’s also a good time to consider what our School of Medicine has accomplished during this same period of time. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, our faculty, staff, students, trainees, and colleagues have been leading the way in providing comfort and care, testing therapies and vaccines, and giving vaccinations to protect our fellow community members. Our school has expanded the availability of clinical services throughout Colorado to people who depend on Medicaid. Our faculty scientists and investigators have recorded strong growth in their portfolio of funded research. This summer, our school will roll out an updated innovative curriculum for medical students, and our new medical school branch in Fort Collins in partnership with Colorado State University will enroll its first students. The number of applicants seeking admission to our school has grown faster than national rates. The percentage of women leading departments in our school exceeds most of our peer institutions, and we have recruited outstanding faculty to organize a newly focused effort on informatics and data science. Thank you to everyone who has been so engaged in making our school a better place and a reliable source of strength for our university and our state. Your contributions are making a difference. Keep up the good work. 

Medscape has published the first episode of a four-part series, “Air Supply: Targeting Eosinophils in Severe Asthma,” that features members of the Anschutz Medical Campus community. In episode one, Fernando Holguin, MD, MPH, professor of medicine, explains how researchers have come to understand asthma as an umbrella term for a collection of diseases with overlapping clinical phenotypes. Fernando and Lynda Ferguson, RN, BSN, an asthma educator at UCHealth Asthma and Immunology Clinic, discuss the challenges of identifying and treating eosinophilic asthma. Patient Sheila Brillhart describes her experiences with asthma. Future episodes will include Anne Fuhlbrigge, MD, associate professor of medicine and senior associate dean for clinical affairs. 

Ken Tyler, MD, chair of neurology, has been selected to serve as the editor-in-chief of the Annals of Neurology, which is published monthly and considered the pre-eminent American journal in clinical neurology. The journal publishes articles of broad interest in neurology, particularly those with high impact in understanding the mechanisms and treatment of diseases of the human nervous system. The journal took its current form in 1977 and is the successor of the Transactions of the American Neurological Association which began publication in 1875. Ken will succeed Clifford Saper, MD, PhD, head of the Department of Neurology at Harvard University. Ken will be the journal’s seventh editor and he joins an esteemed list of editors from other major institutions, including Columbia University; University of California, San Francisco; and University of Pennsylvania. 

Natalie Serkova, PhD, professor of radiology, has received the 2021 Senior Fellow Award of the International Society of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine for her leadership in pre-clinical MRI and significant contributions to functional and molecular MRI in cancer. 

Elizabeth Harry, MD, visiting associate professor of medicine at the School of Medicine and senior director of clinical affairs at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital, was featured last week by The Joint Commission in a blog post on physician task load and burnout. Liz discusses her study, published last fall in The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety, that identifies a correlation between task load and burnout. She recommends some steps that could help reduce task load: increased standardization across units in hospitals and providers; decreased redundancy in communication of data; and consolidating data in ways that allow focused attention. 

Earlier this month, I moderated a discussion with data science leaders who have recently joined the Anschutz Medical Campus to foster cooperative efforts to use data to improve human health. With that information, we can make better-informed clinical decisions, we can open unexpected lines of inquiry in our research laboratories, and we can teach better ways to collect and analyze the data. We – as a campus and as a society – have made major investments in collecting source material and related information; we must match those precious resources with skillful use of them. At the School of Medicine, we are making a significant investment in developing and expanding the smarter use of that data. You can watch a video of these dynamic leaders talking about their plans for our campus. 

The University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus will soon have its own investigational drug service to support clinical research studies. The CU Research Pharmacy will be housed in the new Anschutz Health Sciences Building, which is scheduled to open this fall. The CU Research Pharmacy will assist in the clinical and administrative functions of drug research, ensuring that studies are conducted in a safe, effective, and efficient manner and that the studies comply with all federal, state, and Colorado Multiple Institutional Review Board regulations concerning investigational drugs. Details about the services provided and pricing structure are posted on the CU Research Pharmacy website

There will be no message on May 31 due to the Memorial Day holiday.

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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