Dean's Weekly Message

July 24, 2023

Dear colleague: 

On Friday, July 28, we welcome 184 new medical students at the Matriculation Ceremony. Our school attracts around 10,000 applicants each year, which gives us a diverse pool of accomplished candidates to consider. Many thanks to the admissions team, faculty, and staff who have helped us attract an impressive new class to the University of Colorado School of Medicine. This Friday, the Class of 2027 will receive their white coats and our school will continue to fulfill our fundamental mission of providing excellent programs for students who are committed to providing outstanding care and advancing knowledge to improve human health. We are excited to get started with our new class of medical students.

Our School of Medicine newsroom includes an article about Brisa Avila, who grew up in Commerce City and is a first-generation college graduate. Brisa joins us after earning a degree in psychology from the University of Colorado Denver as part of the BA/BS-MD program . Brisa says her goal is to become a primary care physician serving patients who have historically faced challenges getting the health care they deserve. In the article, she describes how her grandfather, who spoke only Spanish, had greater health challenges due to difficulty communicating with physicians. “I know I can use my diversity and experiences to help people who might not have representation in the medical field,” Brisa says..

Faculty Updates 

Judy Regensteiner, PhD, Distinguished Professor of Medicine and director of the Ludeman Family Center for Women’s Health Research, presented at the Innovation Equity Forum earlier this month. The forum was jointly hosted by the National Institutes of Health Office of Research on Women’s Health and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Judy’s committee focused on training and careers, and she discussed ideas for a curriculum for women’s health and sex differences.

Lisa Bero, PhD, professor of medicine and chief scientist for the Center for Bioethics and Humanities, is cited in a news feature article published last week by Nature that discusses the potential use of trustworthiness checks for clinical trials. Lisa is a leader in evidence synthesis, meta-research, and studying commercial determinants of health, focusing on tobacco control, pharmaceutical policy, and public health.

Matthew DeCamp, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine and member of the Center for Bioethics and Humanities, is an author of a perspective article published this month in Science in its special issue, “A Machine Intelligent World.” The piece explains that incomplete datasets that don’t reflect a diverse population aren’t the only challenge with using artificial intelligence (AI) systems. The article notes that emergent biases related to implementing AI need to be understood and evaluated. As an example, Matt and his co-author note that some physicians are more likely than others to adopt the use of AI, resulting in disparate benefits and risks for different groups of patients. A summary of the Science article is posted in the School of Medicine newsroom.

Daniel Pastula, MD, MHS, associate professor of neurology, and colleagues report in Emerging Infectious Diseases, which is published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on a woman in her 30s with multiple sclerosis who traveled to Mexico for a stem cell treatment that resulted in a severe Mycobacterium abscessus infection. The case study, published earlier this month, highlights the problematic nature of medical tourism, particularly when it comes to stem cell therapies. “Right now, stem cell therapy for various chronic neurologic conditions, chronic progressive [ones], is not proven,” Dan told MedPage Today. “It has not proven to be ... safe, and it is not proven to be effective.”

Following recent elections, the leaders of the Faculty Senate for the upcoming year are:

  • President: Patrick Henn, MD, assistant professor of pathology
  • President-elect: Tyler Anstett, DO, associate professor of medicine
  • Secretary: Lavanya Kondapalli, MD, associate professor of medicine
  • Past president: Merlin Ariefdjohan, PhD, MPH, assistant professor of psychiatry

Thomas “Tem” Morrison, PhD, professor of immunology and microbiology, and Frances Li, an MD/PhD student, will present “What is a virus?” at 6 p.m. Thursday, July 27, at the Tattered Cover Book Store, 2526 E. Colfax Ave., Denver. The event includes a 20-minute primer on the science, followed by a Q&A session. The event is the latest in a series led by members of our Office of Research Education at the Tattered Cover.

More than 100 physicians who served at the Fitzsimons Army Medical Center reunited earlier this month on the Anschutz Medical Campus in the first gathering since the center was shut down on the 1995 recommendation of the Defense Base Realignment and Closure Commission. Among the attendees were many School of Medicine faculty members, including Col. (Ret.) Sterling West, MD, professor emeritus of medicine in the Division of Rheumatology, who made a presentation on the history of the center. The hospital originally opened in 1917. The rebuilt Fitzsimons General Hospital, which is now known as the Fitzsimons Building and home to many administrative offices for our campus, opened in 1941, just days before the attack on Pearl Harbor. According to this article, other School of Medicine faculty who attended the reunion were: Mike McDermott, MD, Steve Johnson, MD, Steve Freeman, MD, Bill Burman, MD, Rose Gates, NP, PhD, and Steve Lawrence, MD.

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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