Dean's Weekly Message

April 11, 2022

Dear colleague:

Our campus hosted the University of Colorado Board of Regents last Thursday for its regular board meeting. During the meeting, the Regents approved a 3% salary pool for merit increases for university employees. Also at the meeting, leaders from our campus and our School of Medicine were in the spotlight for the impressive contributions we are making in medical care, education, and research. 

The first presentation, by Vik Bebarta, MD, professor of emergency medicine and director of the Center for COMBAT Research, was an overview of the impressive work of the center, which aims to address clinical challenges of the U.S. military by creating breakthroughs in the care of combat-related injury and illness. Vik explained how the center is unlike any other in the country in its scope of work, from conceiving research projects that address battlefield needs to designing and testing solutions across disciplines. 

As part of Vik’s presentation, he introduced two third-year medical students, who are decorated military veterans and research scholars in the COMBAT Center: Matt Paulson, who served as a Green Beret in the U.S. Army, and John Hesling, who flew fighter jet missions in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria for the U.S. Navy. Both described how the opportunity to participate in the research work of the center has expanded their opportunities to serve our country while improving the care they can provide to the community. Matt talked about how he had no research experience when he joined the center to now having a first-author publication, three more articles in the works, and multiple presentations, including the upcoming Aerospace Medical Association annual meeting where he will deliver a lecture on prehospital tourniquet conversion in extremity hemorrhage control. Similarly, John talked about his study of pediatric supermassive transfusion. 

“I had zero research experience, no idea what to do in terms of research or how to get involved, and the COMBAT Center set me up with all the mentorship and all the resources I needed to eventually achieve a first author publication in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine,” John said. “I can say honestly that joining the COMBAT Center, as well as coming to CU for medical school, was one of the best professional decisions I’ve made since leaving the Navy. I couldn’t be more thankful for the opportunities provided by the University of Colorado, as well as the COMBAT Center.” 

The other presentation to the Board of Regents was by Regina Richards, PhD, MSW, vice chancellor for diversity, equity, inclusion and community engagement for the Anschutz Medical Campus. She outlined the steps we are taking to expand collaborations that make medical careers possible for those who have been underrepresented in our profession. Three participants in the University Pre-Health Program (UPP) – Carla Cruz, an incoming student in our Child Health Associate/Physician Assistant (CHA/PA) program, Itzel Martinez, who is in the 2023 CHA/PA class, and Jim Do, MD ’16 – discussed how the yearlong program of workshops and training helped them prepare for medical careers. Each described their journeys as first-generation students who faced the challenges of the hidden curriculum. 

“We don’t really know where to go or what to do other than to get good grades and that’s not all the medical field or being in a PA program should all be about,” said Itzel, who moved to the United States from Mexico when she was 16 years old. “It should be more than this is a student who is getting straight As. It should be more holistic than that.” Itzel described how the UPP program gave her experiences she needed to help “patients see me as their own, so they can trust me.” Itzel said UPP is more than preparation for graduate medical studies. “I know how Dr. Regina was saying it was a yearlong program, but I would say it was a lifelong program because to this day they are still helping me,” Itzel said. 

These presentations are excellent examples of the commitment we share in providing service to all members of our community and a source of pride for everyone at CU School of Medicine. Thanks to all who are here making a difference in the lives of so many. 

Rachel Davis, MD, associate professor of psychiatry, is featured in an article posted last week in the Department of Surgery newsroom, describing her experience as a living organ donor. In the article, which was published on Donate Life Living Donor Day, April 6, Rachel says: “I don’t feel comfortable with this donation being portrayed as selfless or heroic. While donating part of my liver offered me no medical or physical benefit, the experience has provided immense psychological and even spiritual benefit.” The surgery to donate the right lobe of her liver was performed in January by Elizabeth Pomfret, MD, PhD, professor and chief of transplant surgery. Rachel, as a nondirected living donor, was not intending to meet the person who received her liver, but she did ultimately meet the woman. It’s a memorable story about how the care we provide on this campus saves and improves lives. It’s worth your time to remind yourself of the outstanding work of our colleagues and to draw inspiration for our continuing collaborations. 

“Hear My Voice/Escucha Mi Voz,” a book that compiles testimony from 61 children held in detention at the southern U.S. border, has received the 2022 Flora Stieglitz Straus Award, which honors a distinguished work of nonfiction that serves as an inspiration to young people. Warren Binford, JD, EdM, visiting professor of pediatrics and director for pediatric law, ethics & policy at the Kempe Center, compiled the book, which she describes as a labor of love that involved about 100 people working on the project. The book compiles accounts from children who were locked up at the border patrol facility in Clint, Texas, in June 2019. The book is illustrated with artwork by 17 Latinx artists. Warren’s acceptance speech is posted at the Bank Street College Children’s Book Committee website.

ACCORDS, a group of investigators who study health services and patient outcomes, has been granted center status by Chancellor Don Elliman. ACCORDS was established in 2014 as the Adult and Child Consortium for Health Outcomes Research and Delivery Science. The group is keeping the acronym ACCORDS, which will now stand for Adult and Child Center for Outcomes Research and Delivery Science. To become a center, units must submit a program plan explaining why the unit cannot be successful unless it is a center, adopt bylaws outlining governance structure and procedures, and provide a five-year budget that shows how it will achieve fiscal sustainability within five years or less. To commemorate its name change, ACCORDS plans an open house in September 2022 in its space in the Anschutz Health Sciences Building. 

Also moving to the Anschutz Health Sciences Building is theCenter for Advancing Professional Excellence (CAPE), which is our state-of-the-art training facility. The space in the new building will offer 30 outpatient exam rooms and many other training suites for educating health care professionals to provide safe, effective, compassionate, and high-quality health care. CAPE provides world-class education thanks to support from the community. One of CAPE’s biggest supporters, COPIC, recently donated $60,000 to support the purchase of SimMan3G Plus, a manikin of color. We are grateful for this generous gift and previous support COPIC has provided to the CAPE.

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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