Dean's Weekly Message

September 19, 2022

Dear colleague:

Tianjing Li, PhD, associate professor of ophthalmology, has been awarded a $5 million grant from the National Eye Institute (NEI) to support the Cochrane Eyes and Vision US Satellite at the Sue Anschutz-Rodgers Eye Center. The award is one of the largest grants our Department of Ophthalmology has received from the NEI. The Cochrane Eyes and Vision US Satellite works to increase the number of researchers and practitioners who are trained in preparing and using systematic reviews. 

Catherine Musselman, PhD, associate professor of biochemistry and molecular genetics, and Christian Mosimann, PhD, associate professor of pediatrics, have received a $1.3 million grant from the National Science Foundation to support work over the next four years to better understand mechanisms of genome regulation. An article in the School of Medicine newsroom describes how a package intended for Christian ended up in Catherine’s lab – a delivery service apparently confused their last names – and that coincidence sparked a collaboration between the two scientists who hadn’t met before the pandemic. 

John Carroll, MD, professor of medicine, is co-author of an editorial published by The New England Journal of Medicine last Saturday that comments on a clinical trial of a technology intended to reduce the risk of stroke in patients who have a transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR). TAVR, which is the dominant therapy for aortic valve stenosis, is performed in about 100,000 cases annually. Stroke currently complicates 2% to 3% of cases. A procedure, called cerebral embolic protection (CEP), is intended to capture debris and potentially reduce stroke risk. A randomized trial of 3,000 TAVR patients found the difference in cases stroke was not significant. Stroke within 72 hours or before discharge occurred in 34 of the 1,501 CEP patients and 43 patients of the 1,499 patients in the control group. John and his co-author, Jeffrey Saver, MD, of David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, write that CEP offers a “ray of hope,” but that it “may not actually provide a clear and incontestable clinical benefit.” 

UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital announced earlier this month that it is offering robotic kidney transplants to patients with a body mass index over 40. These are patients who would otherwise be ineligible for a transplant and be forced to either lose weight or remain on dialysis. Thomas Pshak, MD, assistant professor of surgery, explains: “One of the reasons the traditional transplant surgery is risky for larger patients is that it can be very difficult to see the vessels needed to ensure the kidney is properly placed. Robotics allows for 10 times greater vision, therefore allowing us to do the surgery regardless of BMI.” In a related video, Thomas demonstrates using the device and making fine sutures with the equipment. UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital is the only hospital in the Rocky Mountain region offering a surgery of this kind and was the first hospital west of the Mississippi to transplant patients using the robot. It is yet another example of the exceptional clinical care we offer on this campus. 

Cristina Sarmiento, MD, assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation, will receive the Gabriella Molnar Pediatric Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Research Grant Award from the Foundation for Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at a meeting in Baltimore on October 20. The award will help with research on transition of care needs for adolescents and young adults with cerebral palsy. 

Jasmine Ramirez, a second-year student in CU Boulder’s audiology program, is the first recipient of the Richard D. Wyant Endowed Award in Audiology, from the Department of Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery. She is developing a clinical hearing screening project to serve residents in neighborhoods with populations underrepresented in medicine. Her project also is recruiting diverse subjects for a study on hearing loss treatments. Her faculty mentors are Anu Sharma, PhD, professor of speech, language, and hearing sciences at CU Boulder, and Vinaya Manchaiah, AuD, PhD, visiting professor and director of audiology in otolaryngology – head & neck surgery. 

Michael Miller, director of information technology and information services for the School of Medicine, is strengthening connections with the campus Office of Information Technology by adding a new role with that team. Effective October 1, Michael will also serve as the senior director of enterprise research computing, where he will assist the campus team directly with its efforts to implement solutions development. Michael has been effective at gaining support, understanding, and partnership for our school IT solutions and establishing collaborations. He’s an excellent choice to assist with the campus efforts. 

The inimitable Jim Hodge, associate vice chancellor for advancement, was feted by campus leadership last week with an appreciation dinner on Monday, September 12. Jim joined the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus team about eight years ago after 30 years at the Mayo Clinic, and he quickly established himself as a major force here. Jim has been a live wire making connections for our campus, and he has a story for every occasion, ranging from meeting U.S. presidents to Chicago mobsters. We have been fortunate to have him on our team and we wish him a relaxing and happy retirement when that time comes later this year. 

The Office of Advancement has posted its annual publication, Momentum, which celebrates the impact of philanthropy at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. This year, Momentum includes stories on the impact of scholarships, the growing network of nursing education across Colorado, investigative research into the immune system, the future of cancer treatment, and the widespread impact of philanthropic giving. The online siteis colorful, attractive, and features some of our School of Medicine colleagues. I encourage you to check it out. 

The Class of 2025 medical students celebrated their transition to patient care earlier this month at the 17th annual Student Clinician Ceremony. The event emphasizes humanism and professionalism and marks the transition from the classroom to clinical settings. Medical students Chiagoziem Anigbogu and Kate Kelson received student professionalism peer recognition awards. Residents who received the Humanism & Excellence in Teaching awards were Robert Torphy, MD, general surgery; Alejandro Suarez Pierre, MD, general surgery; Natalie Dequillfeldt, MD, internal medicine; Madison Hibshman, MD, internal medicine; Josh Schimmel, MD, dermatology, and Sorabh Singhal, MD, psychiatry. 

Neuron Forest: An immersive environment by Katie Caron opens at the Art Gallery at the Fulginiti at CU Anschutz at 4 p.m. Thursday, September 22. It will feature a discussion with the artist Katie Caron and Maureen Stabio, PhD, associate professor of cell and developmental biology and vice executive director of the Modern Human Anatomy Program. 

Children’s Hospital Colorado held its annual gala last Saturday at the Hyatt Regency Denver at Colorado Convention Center. This year is the 45th anniversary of the event. Through its history, guests and hospital supporters have raised more than $43 million to support care and research. This year’s headlining entertainment was comedian and CBS Sunday Morning contributor Jim Gaffigan.

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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