Dean's Weekly Message

January 23, 2023

Dear colleague:  

On January 11, I delivered the annual State of the School address, providing an overview of the many impressive accomplishments of our school community. We created a new Department of Biomedical Informatics, recruited key leaders for departments and important initiatives, and implemented a new curriculum that gets our medical students involved in clinical care in a meaningful way earlier in their education. During the past five years, our school has grown significantly as measured by many key indicators: a 36% increase in staff, a 45% increase in faculty, a 46% increase in overall budget, a 58% increase in NIH grant support, a 54% increase in student applications, and a 52% increase in endowed chairs. These are important measures, to be sure. But our achievements are even more significant in matters that are not easily quantified: the compassionate care we show to patients, the expanded knowledge and skills of our students and trainees, the scientific breakthroughs of our researchers. I want to thank all of you who make contributions to our efforts to improve human health and to make lives better for others. We remain dedicated to improving our clinics, labs, classrooms, and offices in ways that allow you to excel and we look forward to the continuing contributions you make. 

Condolences to family, friends, and colleagues of Stephen Berman, MD, professor of pediatrics and director of the Center for Global Health in the Colorado School of Public Health, who died January 17. Steve joined the School of Medicine Department of Pediatrics faculty in 1978. In 1981, he became the department’s youngest section head of General Academic Pediatrics at the age of 34. Steve led the section twice during his career, from 1981 to 1989 and again in 1998 to 2007. He also was president of the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2000 and he championed the MediKids Health Insurance Act of 2009. Steve became director of the Center for Global Health in 2011 and was a longtime professor of epidemiology in the Colorado School of Public Health. He was instrumental in advocacy for children at the state, national, and international levels, and was the recipient of numerous national and international awards in pediatrics and global health. Steve influenced countless others as a physician, advisor, mentor, and friend, and his tireless dedication to improving the lives of underserved children will be an enduring legacy. Steve’s funeral service was held Sunday, January 22, at the Hebrew Educational Alliance. Memorial contributions can be made to the Bell Policy Center. 

Every eight years, our School of Medicine is reviewed by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME), the accrediting body for medical schools. Preparing for the LCME’s site visit is a labor-intensive and time-consuming process. We have officially launched our effort to prepare for the LCME’s re-accreditation site visit in March 2025 because the amount of work and the high quality of the expectations demand our attention now. Accreditation is vital to our future because it ensures that our graduating students can apply to accredited residency programs and that we can recruit the most competitive students and faculty. We are fortunate to have highly capable leaders for this re-accreditation cycle in Bonnie Kaplan, MD, associate professor of emergency medicine, and Kristen Hyden, project manager, and they are depending on the cooperation and support of hundreds of members of our School of Medicine community. To prepare for the LCME site visit, we have several imminent tasks: building a self-study group, mobilizing our medical students to conduct an independent student analysis, and continuing our quality-improvement initiatives. Thanks to all who have already agreed to be part of the self-study process. For those who have questions, please contact Bonnie Kaplan and Kristen Hyden. 

A new machine learning tool to better understand long COVID is described in an article published earlier this month in eBioMedicine, part of The Lancet. Melissa Haendel, PhD, chief research informatics officer and Marsico Chair in Data Science, is the principal investigator of this work. The authors developed software that analyzes entries in electronic health records (EHR) to find symptoms in common between people who have been diagnosed with long COVID and to define subtypes of the condition. An announcement by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, where the lead authors work, explains that researchers from across the country worked together to analyze EHR information from 6,469 patients to identify similarities between patients. The researchers then applied machine learning to review relationships between symptoms, pre-existing diseases, and other demographic features, such as age, gender, or race. A bonus of collaborating with a national laboratory on high-profile work is that it catches the eye of people in powerful positions, such as U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm, who tweeted: “This crucial research will help fill the gaps in our understanding of how #LongCOVID works and develop more effective treatments for those still suffering.” 

Four physicians and three advanced practice providers on the School of Medicine faculty have been named the inaugural recipients of the University of Colorado School of Medicine Distinguished Clinician Award. The physician awardees are:

  • Rachel Davis, MD, associate professor of psychiatry
  • Manali Kamdar, MD, associate professor of medicine
  • Michael McDermott, MD, professor of medicine
  • David Partrick, MD, professor of surgery

The advanced practice provider awardees are:

  • Denise Abdoo, MSN, PhD, assistant professor of pediatrics
  • Keri Halsema, NP, MSN, RN, senior instructor of medicine
  • Glen Peterson, DNP, ACNP, RN, associate professor of medicine

The award was created to recognize faculty members for their dedication to providing excellent patient care and for sharing their clinical knowledge and skills with others. The awardees were selected by a committee of peers based on their demonstrated clinical expertise, sustained exceptional clinical service, patient-centered care, and high standard of professionalism. Congratulations to all and many thanks to Lotte Dyrbye, MD, MHPE, senior associate dean for faculty and chief well-being officer, for organizing this new honor. 

The Gates Grubstake Fund annually awards funding up to $350,000 per project to support campus investigators affiliated with the Gates Center for Regenerative Medicine who are working on translational research projects. This year’s recipients are:

  • Ganna Bilousova, PhD, associate professor of dermatology
  • Mi-Hyun Nam, PhD, instructor of ophthalmology
  • M. Eric Kohler, MD, PhD, assistant professor of pediatrics
  • Daniel Sherbenou, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine

In addition, two previous Gates Grubstake awardees who have demonstrated success in developing technology for a clinical trial based on their original grants have been granted second rounds of funding. They are:

  • Michael Verneris, MD, professor of pediatrics
  • Eduardo Davila, PhD, professor of medicine 

The Office of Research Education is continuing its partnership with the Tattered Cover Book Store to provide talks on the basic science featured in current books. The next event, at 6 p.m Thursday, January 26, will feature Aimee Bernard, PhD, assistant professor of immunology and microbiology, and Gabriella Albert and Marina Good, two PhD students in the Office of Research Education’s Immunology Program. Aimee, Gabi, and Marina will lead a session, “Your Shot at Protection: How Vaccines Train the Immune System to Fight Disease.” They will present a primer on the science and take questions from the audience. This outreach program features our exceptional students and faculty and makes stronger connections with the community we serve. Many thanks to the Tattered Cover for hosting the event at their store at 2526 E. Colfax Ave., Denver. Also, thanks to the Office of Research Education for creating this collaboration with one of Denver’s leading cultural institutions. 

In recognition of International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Friday, January 27, the Center for Bioethics and Humanities will present “How Healers Became Killers:  Nazi Doctors and Modern Medical Ethics,” a lecture by Matthew Wynia, MD, MPH, professor of medicine and director of the Center for Bioethics and Humanities. It will be followed by a panel discussion, “Professional Complicity in the Holocaust:  What can the professions of today learn from each other?” To attend the events in person or by Zoom, please RSVP. 

Submissions for The Human Touch have been extended until February 6. The Human Touch is an annual anthology of poetry, prose, visual arts, photography, music, and videos showcasing the creations and contributions of the students, staff, faculty, alumni, and friends of the Anschutz Medical Campus. All are welcome to submit. Online publication of the 16th volume is expected in late spring 2023. The call for submissions has additional details.

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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