Dean's Weekly Message

August 29, 2022

Dear colleague:

Amira del Pino-Jones, MD, associate professor of medicine, has been named associate dean for diversity, equity, and inclusion for the School of Medicine. In that role, she will provide leadership of the school’s DEI initiatives in education, research, community outreach, recruitment, and support of faculty, residents, students, and staff. Amira has been a member of the School of Medicine faculty since 2010, and she has been serving as assistant dean for student affairs and as the assistant program director for DEI for the Internal Medicine Residency Program. Amira has substantial experience in an area that is critically important to our school’s future, and we are fortunate to promote her into this role. 

Fredric Pieracci, MD, MPH, has been named director of service for the Department of Surgery at Denver Health. Fred has been the department’s interim director since February 2021 and was selected after a competitive national search. Fred, who is a professor of surgery at the School of Medicine, has been with Denver Health for 11 years, serving in roles as medical director of the Denver Health Bariatric Surgery Center, Thoracic and Pulmonary Nodule Clinics, and Trauma Center. He also served as Denver Health’s medical staff president from September 2020 to February 2021. 

Nicole Christian, MD, and Virginia Borges, MD, are authors of a Perspective article published Saturday by The New England Journal of Medicine that discusses the impact of the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade on treating women diagnosed with breast cancer during pregnancy. Nicole and Ginger write that the decision interferes with the patient-physician relationship and may cause some patients to forgo cancer treatments. “Under Dobbs, some U.S. patients will be forced to carry a high-risk pregnancy and will have limited choices for treating their cancer,” they write. “Making this compromise could result in worse oncologic outcomes and a greater risk of death for these patients – risks that apply to pregnant patients with any type of cancer.” 

Matthew Wynia, MD, MPH, director of the Center for Bioethics and Humanities and professor of medicine, is author of a Perspective article in The New England Journal of Medicine about professional civil disobedience in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling overturning Roe v. Wade. The essay, “Professional Civil Disobedience – Medical-Society Responsibilities after Dobbs,” was published online last Wednesday. Since that court decision in June, several leading medical organizations have expressed concern about governmental interference in patient-physician relationships. The American Medical Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American College of Physicians, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have raised concerns. Matt notes that “medical organizations are rarely so united.” While acknowledging that a “thoughtful debate over whether and how to embark on a path of professional civil disobedience will take time and commitment,” Matt writes that “now is the time for these conversations to begin.” 

Marian Rewers, MD, PhD, executive director of the Barbara Davis Center for Diabetes and professor of pediatrics, is corresponding author of a research letter published earlier this month in JAMA. Marian and his co-authors, including three others from the Barbara Davis Center, reported that after screening more than 50,000 youths in diverse populations of Colorado and Bavaria, they found no association of SARS-CoV-2 infection with autoimmunity related to development of type 1 diabetes.  

Joseph Gal, PhD, professor emeritus of medicine, has been awarded the 2022 Franklin-Lavoisier Prize by the Science History Institute and the Paris-based Fondation de la Maison de la Chimie. Named for Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier and Benjamin Franklin, the prize recognizes meritorious efforts in the preservation or promotion of the entwined scientific heritage of France and the United States. Joe is being recognized for his extensive research on the life and work of French microbiologist Louis Pasteur. He will present a recorded lecture on Pasteur’s discovery of molecular chirality that will debut on October 12.  

Our Office of Research Education is joining with the Tattered Cover Book Store to provide talks on the basic science featured in current books. The first event, at 6 p.m. Wednesday, September 14, will feature Olivia Rissland, DPhil, associate professor of biochemistry and molecular genetics and core member of the RNA Bioscience Initiative, and Deviyani Rao, a PhD graduate student in the molecular biology program, speaking on RNA biology and mRNA vaccines. Each will give a 10-minute primer on the science, and then take questions and discuss with the audience. This is an outstanding outreach program to feature our exceptional faculty and students. Many thanks to the Tattered Cover for hosting the event at their store at 2526 E. Colfax Ave., Denver. Also, thanks to Angie Ribera, PhD, associate dean for research education, for working to create this new collaboration with one of Denver’s leading cultural institutions. 

The Denver Health Foundation held its NightShine Gala on Saturday, August 27, at the Hyatt Regency Denver. Honorees at the event were Brooke and Tom Gordon for their longstanding support of Denver Health and the Denver Health Foundation. The Gordon family donated $1 million, the largest gift from individuals in the foundation’s history, to establish the Brooke Gordon Comprehensive Epilepsy Center at Denver Health. The gala also honored the Roots & Wings Foundation of Seattle for its support. Attendees thanked retiring Denver Health CEO Robin Wittenstein, EdD, for her leadership, received comments from Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and Gov. Jared Polis, and were treated to a musical performance by Macklemore. 

There will be no message next Monday, September 5, due to the Labor 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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