Dean's Weekly Message

May 22, 2023

Dear colleague: 

Today we celebrate the University of Colorado School of Medicine Class of 2023 with commencement activities. This is an exceptional class who faced extraordinary challenges during their time in medical school. They arrived prior to the pandemic and endured through it. Our graduates now head to the next phase of their careers with a commitment to excellence, compassion for those they serve, and a curiosity that will support a lifetime of learning and care. Five graduates are featured in profiles on our graduation 2023 webpage:

  • Marlie Fisher, PhD, and Matt Svalina, PhD, bonded during anatomy lab and are now married parents. Their next steps are residency programs here: Marlie in plastic surgery and Matt in neurosurgery.
  • Brenda La, daughter of immigrants from Vietnam, is planning to continue her work caring for underserved populations, which she has already done at the DAWN Clinic as a care coordinator. She begins her residency with CU in the Medicine-Pediatrics Residency Training Program.
  • Bianca Sanchez, daughter of immigrants from Mexico, grew up just miles from our campus and was a sophomore in high school when she participated in our school’s Mini Med School. She will be in the pediatrics residency here.
  • Steve Haberkorn participated in his White Coat ceremony in 2017 when he and his wife were new parents. He was diagnosed with testicular cancer in January 2019. After a leave of absence for chemotherapy and surgery, and with the support of his family and our faculty, Steve returned and will be an anesthesiology resident here.
  • We have had the great privilege of being teachers and caregivers to everyone in our graduating classes. We look forward to the exemplary contributions these new physicians will be making in medicine. Commencement celebrations are set to occur across Anschutz Medical Campus today. Times and locations are listed on the campus commencement website. The School of Medicine hosted the Honors Convocation last Wednesday, where many of our graduates received accolades from departments and centers. 

Yuri Agrawal, MD, MPH, has been named chair of the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, effective August 1, 2023. Yuri joins us from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine where she is professor of otology, neurotology, and skull base surgery in the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. Yuri is principal investigator on multiple major National Institutes of Health grants that focus on the vestibular system in aging and Alzheimer’s disease. In clinical practice, she is an accomplished ear and skull base surgeon, and oversees the largest otolaryngology clinical practice site in her department. She succeeds Herman Jenkins, MD, who stepped down in 2022 after 21 years as the department’s chair. Many thanks to Todd Kingdom, MD, for serving as interim chair, and to the members of the search committee, including its chair Kevin Lillehei, MD, chair of neurosurgery. Please join me in welcoming Yuri to our School of Medicine. 

Kristyn S. Masters, PhD, has been named chair of Department of Bioengineering at the University of Colorado Denver and director of the Center for Bioengineering on the Anschutz Medical Campus. For the past seven years, Kristyn has been professor and vice chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She succeeds founding chair Robin Shandas, PhD, a University of Colorado Distinguished Professor, who led the program for more than a decade before stepping down in 2022. Our campus is hosting a breakfast at 9 a.m. June 9 in Bioscience 2, 12705 E Montview Blvd., to welcome Kristyn. If you would like to attend, contact

Mark Earnest, MD, PhD, head of the Division of General Internal Medicine in the Department of Medicine, is author of an exceptional perspective article, “The Thin Pane,” in The New England Journal of Medicine, published on May 18. Mark describes a couple, Pete and Margaret, who were world travelers for decades before moving to a dream house in the mountains west of Denver. Pete was in his 70s and his heart was failing. Margaret’s spine had degenerated and she was in constant pain. That’s when he became their physician. “At our first meeting, they spelled out clearly what they hoped to get from my care: the minimal amount of testing and intervention necessary to maintain their independence and quality of life for as long as they could,” Mark writes. “The round-trip cab ride cost nearly $200. They were glad to pay it if it was necessary, but their preference would be to make the trip just twice a year.” This elegant article is a clear window into our relationships with those who entrust their care to us. It’s a valuable reminder that we need to listen carefully to them because for all the expertise we bring to bear, their view matters too. 

Achim Klug, PhD, professor of physiology and biophysics, and Jose Riguero, a PhD student in the neuroscience program, are the next presenters in our community outreach partnership between our Office of Research Education and the Tattered Cover Book Store. Achim and Jose will present “Age related changes affect not only your ears but also your brain (or, Why older people don’t like to go to loud bars)” at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 25, at the store at 2526 E. Colfax Ave., Denver. Check out the Tattered Cover’s website for more details. 

Children’s Hospital Colorado held its annual medical staff dinner on Thursday, May 11, and recognized School of Medicine pediatrics faculty with awards. David Scudamore, MD, associate professor of clinical practice, and Brandon Nuechterlein, PA-C, MPAS, senior instructor, received Outstanding Service Awards. Sara Saporta-Keating, MD, assistant professor, received the Century Award, which recognizes a medical staff member five or fewer years out of training, and Michael Narkewicz, MD, professor, received the James E. Strain Award, which honors a practitioner who exemplifies the ideals of the American Academy of Pediatrics and its advocacy for child health.

Elizabeth Concordia, president and chief executive officer of UCHealth, announced last week that UCHealth and Parkview Health System have received final approval for Parkview to become part of UCHealth. The partnership will help stabilize Parkview’s finances, strengthen the care they provide, and ensure that Pueblo residents will continue to have access to high-quality care. UCHealth expects to officially welcome Parkview on July 1. 

The School of Medicine’s Office of Faculty Relations is seeking an associate director who will, among other duties, assist with handling referrals of alleged unprofessional behavior and with administering restorative action plans. Details, including job duties, minimum qualifications, and application expectations, are included in the job posting. The Office of Faculty Relations, formerly known as the Office of Professional Excellence, advises and supports school leaders in managing performance and behavioral concerns by establishing and holding our colleagues accountable to standards of excellence. 

There will be no message on May 29 due to the Memorial Day holiday.

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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