Dean's Weekly Message

May 9, 2022

Dear colleague:

Congratulations to Aimee Pugh Bernard, PhD, assistant professor of immunology and microbiology and executive director of the Human Immunology & Immunotherapy Initiative, on receiving the 2022 Chase Faculty Community Service Award. The Chase Faculty Community Service Award is presented annually to a full-time CU faculty member who volunteers in the community, providing exceptional educational, humanitarian, civic, or other service. Through the Think Like a Scientist program, Aimee guides student volunteers from our campus as they encourage elementary school students to explore science, technology, engineering, and math. Aimee also was recognized for her advocacy on behalf of immunization requirements in Colorado’s public schools. These are exceptional contributions and Aimee is highly deserving of the recognition. 

Bonnie Kaplan, MD, assistant professor of emergency medicine, has been named faculty lead for our Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) reaccreditation process. Bonnie is the residency program director at Denver Health and will continue until a successor is named. Reaccreditation with the LCME is an extraordinarily detailed process that is critical to our school. In her new role, Bonnie will report to Senior Associate Dean Shanta Zimmer, MD. Bonnie will manage the required self-study process and the myriad details involved in preparing for a site visit in 2025. The previous accreditation cycle was completed in 2017, with notice of full accreditation for an eight-year term. 

Franklin Wright, MD, assistant professor of surgery, has been awarded a $2 million grant by the U.S. Department of Defense to investigate hypocalcemia in severely injured trauma patients prior to and following blood administration. The grant supports the prospective CALCIUM (Clinical Assessment of Low Calcium In traUMa) trial. This study is another in the growing portfolio of projects supported by the CU Center for Combat Medicine and Battlefield (COMBAT) Research. 

Vik Bebarta, MD,professor of emergency medicine and a colonel in the U.S. Air Force, has been named a recipient of the Hero of Military Medicine Awardsponsored by the Henry M. Jackson Foundation. The award recognizes individuals who are distinguished in medical research or clinical care through compassion, excellence, and selfless dedication that goes above and beyond the call of duty. Awardees are committed to advancing military medicine and enhancing the lives and health of our nation’s wounded, ill, and injured service members and veterans. Vik, who is the director of the CU Center for Combat Medicine and Battlefield (COMBAT) Research, is highly deserving of the award for his leadership, expertise, and professionalism. Under his leadership, the COMBAT Center has had a remarkable record of attracting federal research funding to our campus researchers and their partners. 

If you were unable to attend the Transforming Healthcare event featuring the School of Medicine’s RNA Bioscience Initiative in late April, you can catch a video or read a summary. The Transforming Healthcare series features our faculty describing their work for non-scientific audiences. This was the first in-person gathering for this series since the pandemic put the meetings on hold. Our campus was impressively represented by five School of Medicine faculty members who are part of the RNA Bioscience Initiative. They discussed their work, their motivations for studying RNA, and the remarkable cases using RNA science to improve medical care. 

The University of Colorado School of Medicine Office of Admissions celebrated the end of the 2021-2022 admissions cycle with the return of its appreciation dinner on Wednesday, May 4, at Cattivella restaurant. We have many people to thank for their dedication to recruiting an outstanding class of medical students, from Senior Associate Dean for Education Shanta Zimmer, MD, to Assistant Dean for Admissions Jeffrey SooHoo, MD, all the other deans and staff from the Office of Student Life and to every member of the admissions committee. It’s a monumental task to manage and our crew did an outstanding job. We were able to thank 80 people at the event and offer them encouragement as we ramp to do it again. 

Last Tuesday evening, our campus hosted a reception to honor faculty members who have been with the university for 25 years. It was the first time since 2019 that we have been able to have an in-person celebration of those reaching this milestone. A total of 156 faculty members crossed 25 years of service in 2020 and 2021. Sixty-nine have crossed that threshold this year. This group has persisted through a few leadership and institutional name changes. We are pleased they have stayed with us and we like where we’ve landed – CU Anschutz Medical Campus. Chancellor Don Elliman recognized the group for their significant contributions to the growth of our academic community. Forty of our School of Medicine colleagues attended the reception, which was held in the Anschutz Health Sciences Building. We thank all of them for their contributions to the success of our School of Medicine. 

Erik Wallace, MD, associate dean for the Colorado Springs branch, announced that he is resigning effective June 30 to become the senior medical director for Colorado for Oak Street Health while pursuing a Master of Public Health degree from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. As the inaugural associate dean for the Colorado Springs branch, Erik led the effort to recruit community-based volunteer faculty who helped train a cohort of third-year students from our School of Medicine in the longitudinal integrated curriculum model with an emphasis on community engagement. We thank Erik for his eight years of service to our students and the community. We will be expanding the central support from our Anschutz Medical Campus-based curricular deans to continue Erik’s legacy. 

Participants in the Leadership for Innovative Team Science program presented their projects to campus leadership on Friday, May 6. The year-long program focuses on developing leadership and team-building skills. This year’s projects were by teams that studied the feasibility of hemophilia gene therapy, developing leaders for diabetes translation research for American Indians and Alaska Natives, and gaining improved understanding of food insecurity and nutrition screening. 

Children’s Hospital Colorado has posted its Child Health Research News. If you need assistance accessing the newsletter, contact 

John Moore, MBA, associate dean for administration and finance, and Chris Smith, MBA, vice chancellor of information strategy and services, were featured speakers at a spring meeting of the Association of American Medical Colleges’ Group on Business Affairs and Group on Institutional Planning. At the meeting in San Francisco last month, they discussed the creation of The Hub on our campus in 2019 as a way to address a shortage of office spaces for full-time clinical faculty. The concept of shared offices was new for our campus, so adopting the model offered some risk. It has proved to be popular with faculty – we now have 500 members who are Hub members – while offering a more efficient use of office space. 

Juneteenth has been recognized as a state holiday and the CU system has announced that employees will have an additional holiday as a paid personal day of observance that they can take on June 19 or another day of their choosing. With their supervisor’s approval, eligible faculty and staff on our campus may take this day any day before Dec. 31, 2022. Campus leadership opted for this approach because establishment of this state holiday comes shortly before June 19, or Juneteenth. They said they will review how to best to implement the holiday in future years. Juneteenth commemorates the day in 1865 when enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, received word of their freedom after the Civil War had ended. 

Condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of Morton Mower, MD,a cardiologist who developed the implantable cardioverter defibrillator, who died April 25. The University of Colorado School of Medicine added Mort to our faculty when he moved to Denver around 2010, following a distinguished career at Sinai Hospital, where he rose to become chief of cardiology. Mort received his medical degree from the University of Maryland in 1959, served in the Army Medical Corps, and launched his professional career at Sinai in 1966. Throughout his life, Mort was a prolific inventor, and he is named on more than 80 patents. We were fortunate on our campus to have scientific partnerships with Mort, and to host two exhibitions of art he collected with his wife, Toby.

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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