Dean's Weekly Message

October 3, 2022

Dear colleague:

Three School of Medicine faculty members affiliated with the Consortium for Fibrosis Research & Translation (CFReT) have recently been awarded more than $8 million in grants by the National Institutes of Health to advance their research.

  • Kunhua Song, PhD, associate professor of medicine, received two grants: a $2.2 million, four-year study of long non-coding RNA in control of calcium handling and its impact on the heart, and a $2 million five-year study of congenital heart disease in people with Down syndrome.
  • Maggie Lam, PhD, associate professor of medicine, was awarded a four-year, $1.96 million grant to develop new proteomics methods to study stress response and aging.
  • Edward Lau, PhD, assistant professor of medicine, received a five-year, $1.9 million grant aiming to understand the process of protein synthesis and degradation during cell state transitions.

CFReT is one of the transformational research projects funded by the School of Medicine to spur advances that will improve human health. These projects, which received their initial NIH funding in the past few weeks, are impressive examples of how the transformational research funding program has had an impact on our campus. 

The School of Medicine is calling for nominations for the inaugural annual Distinguished Physician Award and Distinguished Advanced Practice Professional Award. There will be up to three recipients for each award. The purpose will recognize outstanding physicians and advanced practice professionals for their dedication to providing excellent patient care and for sharing their clinical knowledge and skills with others. The deadline for applications is Tuesday, November 1. Additional details regarding award criteria and eligibility, as well as the nomination form can be found at the Distinguished Clinician Nomination Form. If you have questions, please contact 

The School of Medicine alumni reunion was held Friday, September 30, and Saturday, October 1. We welcomed about 200 guests, with many members from the Class of 1972 and from the Class of 2002. We even had regrets from Kjell Lindgren, MD ’02, who couldn’t make it back because he’s currently on the International Space Station. Many thanks to our generous alumni, notably the Class of 1972, which raised funds to support the Center for Advancing Professional Excellence on our campus, and the Class of 1982, which has committed funding for student scholarships. On Friday, we celebrated the 50-year reunion class at the 1883 Society breakfast and lecture by Vik Bebarta, MD, professor of emergency medicine and director of the Center for COMBAT Research. That evening, we gathered with alumni at the Denver Botanic Gardens for dinner and a presentation on the current state of the school. Thanks to all who attended and to the hardworking team at the Medical Alumni Association for organizing the festivities. 

An article published last week in UCHealth Today tells the story of an 80-year-old Missouri farmer who has one of the world’s longest-lasting transplanted kidneys. For 56 years, Lawrence “Butch” Newman has lived with a kidney that was donated by his younger sister, Patty Newman Byrn. The surgery was performed by Thomas Starzl, MD, who had done Colorado’s first kidney transplant in 1962 and who had performed the world’s first liver transplant at University of Colorado Hospital in 1963. Butch, 80, and Patty, 79, are alive and well and living still in their hometown of Kirksville. You can hear them tell their story in this video. 

Emmy Betz, MD, MPH, professor of emergency medicine, and Joseph Simonetti, MD, MPH, assistant professor of medicine, are co-authors of a Viewpoint article, “Firearms, Suicide, and Approaches for Prevention,” published last week in special issue of JAMA addressing gun violence. Emmy and Joe report that from 2010-2020, among all firearm deaths, 60% were due to suicide, and among all suicides, 51% were due to firearm injury. “Studies have consistently shown that firearm availability increases the risk of suicide, which in part explains why US firearm suicide rates are highest among populations with high ownership rates, including veterans and middle-aged and older white men,” they write. In addition to their School of Medicine faculty appointments, their author affiliations on the article note that they hold key research roles with our partners at Veterans Affairs. 

Jennifer Wiler, MD, MBA, professor of emergency medicine, chief quality officer of UCHealth Denver Metro, and co-founder of the UCHealth CARE Innovation Center, last week was named the recipient of the Colin C. Rorrie, Jr., PhD Award for Excellence in Health Policy from the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP). The award recognizes significant contributions to ACEP’s health policy objectives, or for demonstrating outstanding skills, talent, and commitment as an administrative or political leader. Jennifer serves on the Physician-Focused Payment Model Technical Advisory Committee, an expert panel within the Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation. She also has held numerous state and national leadership positions including chair of the American Medical Association (AMA) Women Physicians Congress and ACEP representative to the AMA Relative Value Scale Updates Committee, a Medicare advisory panel. 

The Office of Student Life is searching for an Assistant Dean of Student Affairs who will report to the Associate Dean for Student Life and will work closely with the Assistant Dean of Admissions, the Assistant Dean of Student Success, and other senior staff in the Office of Student Life. The Assistant Dean of Student Affairs will also work directly with medical students, focusing on their academic, professional, and personal success. Successful candidates for these positions will have a track record of working with medical students or other adult learners, and an understanding of the MD curriculum. The team in the Office of Student Life, led by Associate Dean Brain Dwinnell, MD, plays an important in role in key milestones for students, from orientation and matriculation through Match Day and graduation.  For more information or to apply, please see the Assistant Dean of Student Affairs position announcement.   

The School of Medicine Clinical Effectiveness and Patient Safety (CEPS) Grant Program has selected its awardees for 2022. The CEPS grant program has been supporting quality and patient safety initiatives since 2007, providing funding, coaching, and support to help faculty, staff, and trainees at Children’s Hospital Colorado and UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital.  

“Research Rounds: Examining breakthrough research in bioethics,” a new series presented by the CU Center for Bioethics and Humanities, today is hosting Mildred Cho, PhD, professor of medicine and pediatrics at Stanford University and associate director of the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics. At noon, she is presenting findings from interviews of developers at companies developing machine learning-based tools for health care. The event is hybrid: In-person at Fulginiti Pavilion for Bioethics and Humanities or via zoom. RSVP here. 

The University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus 2022 Shared Resources Fair will be Thursday, October 6, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Krugman Conference Hall on the second floor of Research Complex 2. Register to attend. Participants who visit eight booths will be entered to win a $1,500 voucher towards shared resource services. 

The Office of Medical Education last Friday hosted the LCME 2025 Re-Accreditation Preview Launch. The Liaison Committee on Medical Education conducts comprehensive reviews of the nation’s medical schools on an eight-year cycle. This process is critical to our school and requires thousands of hours of preparation by hundreds of people in our School of Medicine community. For more than two years, we will be working on preparing for the LCME’s site visit in spring 2025. At the preview launch, School of Medicine leaders were given an outline of the comprehensive self-study process, with specific assignments that consider everything from curriculum, administrative structure, finances, and student life. Many thanks to Bonnie Kaplan, MD, associate professor of emergency medicine, and Kristen Hyden, project manager, who are leading the team that will be coordinating our effort. When members of the LCME preparation team contact you in the months and years ahead, please respond with the seriousness that their inquiries and requests for help deserve. We have done a remarkable job creating a vibrant School of Medicine and a successful reaccreditation is vital to our future.

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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