Dean's Weekly Message

July 11, 2022

Dear colleague:

The University of Colorado School of Medicine welcomed the Department of Biomedical Informatics last week, the first new department within the School of Medicine since the Department of Emergency Medicine was established in 2008. The Department of Biomedical Informatics (DBMI) will examine complex systems in biomedicine using big data to advance patient care at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus and beyond. Casey Greene, PhD, who was recruited to the School of Medicine in 2020 to lead the Center for Health AI, is the founding chair of the department, which is based in the Anschutz Health Sciences Building. Casey and DBMI faculty will focus on addressing health disparities, improving quality in health care, and training the next generation of biological and clinical scientists. The creation of this new department is vital to our future and we are pleased to have such a strong crew launching it. 

Dave Young, MD, assistant professor of emergency medicine, went to Ukraine earlier this year to provide care to people in that besieged country. He describes the experience in an article posted in the School of Medicine newsroom. Dave connected with Team Rubicon, which arranges disaster-relief efforts, and in April he flew to Krakow, Poland. Within days, Dave and others crossed the border into Ukraine and were providing care to Ukrainians living in shelters after fleeing their home cities. Dave described his work in Ukraine as a way to pay forward the support he received when he was training to become a physician. He added that he was surprised that he spent considerable time teaching while in Ukraine. We are proud to count Dave as one of our faculty and commend him for his bravery and compassion. 

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) late last month released a report on the economic impact of medical colleges and teaching hospitals that shows substantial employment and a major contribution to the nation’s economy. According to the report, medical schools and teaching hospitals add more than $728 billion to the gross domestic product, accounting for 3.2% of the total GDP of the country, and support more than 7.1 million jobs. The results are based on 2019 data from 154 medical schools and 258 teaching hospitals in 47 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. In Colorado, our school and the five teaching hospitals that are members of the AAMC (Denver Health, University of Colorado Hospital, St. Joseph Hospital, National Jewish Health, and Children’s Hospital Colorado) contribute $6.87 billion to the state’s economy and support 75,334 jobs, according to the report. 

The Department of Psychiatry and Aurora Public Schools have been awarded a $67,000 grant from the state of Colorado’s Office of Career and Technical Education for the department’s program to provide undergraduate students opportunities to work with patients and to conduct research. The Psychiatry Undergraduate Research Program and Learning Experience (PURPLE) was established in 2016 to pair students with faculty mentors for a 12-week paid program that involves direct patient interaction, a research project, and a poster presentation. With this state grant, Aurora Public Schools and the department will develop pathway programs that include week-long intensive work and year-round internships for high school students to explore careers in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and mental health. PURPLE is featured in this article in the campus newsroom. 

Denver Health is listed No. 10 on the Lown Institute’s Hospitals Index for Social Responsibility hospitals.  The ranking was announced in late June. The Lown Institute measures social responsibility of more than 3,600 hospitals nationwide, evaluating 53 metrics across equity, value, and outcomes. Only hospitals with “A” grades on each of the three major categories are named most socially responsible. The Lown Institute is a think tank that conducts evidence-based assessment of America’s health care providers. 

The School of Medicine is seeking a faculty advisor for the Honor Council, succeeding Benjamin Honigman, MD, who has served in the role since 2017. We offer our gratitude to Ben for his dedicated service. CU has had a medical student Honor Code since at least 1908, aiming to instill and maintain ethical and honest behavior. The Honor Council strives to create an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect among all members of the campus and medical community. The role of the faculty advisor is to provide for continuity of action, to advise Honor Council members, and to serve as a liaison between the council, faculty members, and school administrators. Applicants for this volunteer position must have a professional degree, though it need not be a clinical degree. To apply, please submit a statement of interest and a curriculum vitae to the Office of Student Life to 

Thanks to campus Police Chief Randy Repola for organizing a threat-assessment briefing for campus leaders last week. The purpose of the meeting was to establish a common language for threat assessments and to hear from the U.S. Secret Service’s National Threat Assessment Center, which provided an overview of threat assessments and examined case studies. While our facilities have been well-protected with appropriate security measures, being well-prepared requires continual evaluation of our efforts to provide a safe working and learning environment. The meeting allowed our campus leaders to build strong connections with those who can help us interdict or mitigate activities that would lead to harm. 

The School of Medicine’s Program to Advance Physician Scientists and Translational Research has announced that four teams have received awards under its incubator program designed to support collaborative research groups. Team leaders of the awardees and their projects are:

  • Fernando Holguin, MD, MPH, professor of medicine, Airway inflammation in obese asthmatics;
  • Ram H. Nagaraj, PhD, professor of ophthalmology, Vision loss from traumatic brain injury;
  • Beth Tamburini, PhD, associate professor of medicine and immunology and microbiology, Immune protection and pathology by lymph node stromal cells;
  • York Miller, MD, professor of medicine, Premalignant lesions in the lung. 

Campus leaders gathered Thursday evening to honor Lilly Marks for her substantial contributions to the financial strength of our School of Medicine and her dedicated service to the University of Colorado. Lilly, a CU alumna, began working for the university in 1976 and her leadership laid the groundwork that has helped establish the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus as one of the nation’s premier academic medical centers. We continue to build on that solid foundation, and we are stronger thanks to Lilly’s vision and leadership. For 20 years, Lilly was senior associate dean for finance and administration and executive director of our faculty practice plan. She then served as vice president for health affairs for the university and executive vice chancellor for our campus. In 2019, when Lilly was completing her term as chair of the Association of American Medical Colleges, she explained in her Leadership Plenary address that the success of academic medical centers depends on collaboration: “Our ability to fuse the latest learning and medical discovery with the clinical care we provide is the defining characteristic of academic medicine. It is the secret sauce that differentiates us from other clinical providers.” We thank Lilly for gathering the many ingredients and writing a recipe for our success.

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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