Dean's Weekly Message

November 13, 2023

Dear colleague:

I joined our campus leadership last week at a meeting with the University of Colorado Board of Regents to report our success in achieving the University of Colorado’s strategic planning goals for the Anschutz Medical Campus.

The CU System’s 2021-2026 strategic plan, Innovating for the Future, sets priorities, goals, and metrics for each campus. For our campus, a key performance measure is the number of patients we serve. At the regents meeting last Tuesday, we reported that our campus has already exceeded the 2026 goal set for our campus. In the fiscal year 2023, our clinical faculty served 739,556 patients. The strategic plan sets a goal of 706,867 patients served in the fiscal year 2026.

Significantly, in recent years, we have increased access to care for members of Health First Colorado, which is the state’s Medicaid program. Between 2017 and 2022, the number of Health First Colorado members seen by our School of Medicine faculty has increased 49%, from 122,009 to 181,432. The number of patient visits increased 89%, from 537,002 in 2016 to 1,015,458 in 2022.

Our school sponsors nearly 100 programs that focus on Health First Colorado members across the state. During the meeting, we offered many examples of the comprehensive care we provide, including:

  • ECHO Colorado, a virtual platform for health professionals across the state to provide interactive learning and case-based sharing.
  • Colorado Sickle Cell Treatment and Research Center, which provides clinical management and education statewide for people living with severe forms of inherited blood disorders.
  • Nurse telehealth home visits after hospital discharge for medically complex children who are at high risk of readmission.
  • Home visits for children with difficult-to-control asthma through Just Keep Breathing, a project of the Aurora Wellness Network.
  • Colorado Medical-Legal Partnership, which provides support for families who have civil legal issues affecting their health and well-being.

We exceeded the CU System’s strategic planning goal for providing care to an increasing number of patients thanks to the exceptional abilities and capacities of our faculty, staff, and partners. We are grateful for your dedication to service and commitment to excellence.

Faculty Updates 
The University of Colorado Board of Regents last week approved six new Distinguished Professors, the highest honor CU bestows on its own faculty members. With these additions, only 144 professors have been so honored since 1977 when the title was established. Distinguished Professors have demonstrated distinguished performance in scholarly or creative work, excellence in promotion of learning and student attainment of knowledge and skills, and outstanding leadership and service to the profession and to the university. Among the six new Distinguished Professors are two colleagues from our School of Medicine:

  • Sean Colgan, PhD, professor of medicine and Joel Levine-Fred Kern Jr. Chair in IBD Research. Sean’s lab studies mucosal inflammation with a focus on intestinal inflammation and his work has improved understanding of drug resistance in cancer, how the microbiome influences host immunity, the impact of microbial metabolic products on mucosal injury and wound repair, and how inflammation may affect gut motility and cellular health in colonic disorders such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
  • Frank Verloin deGruy III, MD, professor and former chair of family medicine. Frank served as the Woodward-Chisholm Professor and chair of family medicine from 1999 to 2021. Throughout his career, Frank has concentrated on transforming primary care by integrating behavioral health care, partnering with community health and public health resources, and engaging patients and their families in the care process. He was elected to the Institute of Medicine, now the National Academy of Medicine, in 2008.

Kenneth Lam, MD, assistant professor of medicine, is first author of an original investigation published last week in JAMA Internal Medicine that considers the age and level of disability for people entering long-term care facilities. This study found that persons often enter nursing homes and assisted living centers after months of severe disability and substantial help at home, usually from unpaid caregivers. Assisted living residents are less disabled when moving in, but they approach levels of disability similar to nursing home entrants within two years. Data from the study may help clinicians understand when in-home support is approaching a breaking point. Kenneth discusses his study in an article posted in the School of Medicine newsroom.

Matthew Wynia, MD, MPH, professor of medicine and director of the CU Center for Bioethics and Humanities, is author of a Viewpoint article, “Health Professionals and War in the Middle East,” published last week by JAMA. In the piece, Matt considers whether health professionals have a responsibility to speak out about the Hamas terrorist attacks and Israel’s military campaign.

Yoni K. Ashar, PhD, assistant professor of medicine, was featured in a report on NBC’s Today show for his work studying a therapy for back pain that doesn’t rely on medication or surgery. Yoni describes his study of pain reprocessing therapy. Yoni is first author of an original investigation published in late September by JAMA Network Open reporting that patients’ pain attributions are often inaccurate, and that promoting mind- or brain-related attributions may support effective treatment of primary chronic pain.

Chancellor Don Elliman will deliver the annual State of the Campus address at 4 p.m. Thursday, November 16, in the Elliman Conference Center in the Anschutz Health Sciences Building, with a livestream option at A recording will be online after the event. Faculty, staff, and students are encouraged to attend, and $1 parking will be available in the Vail Lot north of AHSB.

Russell Vance, PhD, professor of immunology and pathogenesis at the University of California, Berkeley, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, will deliver the Dean’s Distinguished Seminar lecture at 4 p.m. Tuesday, November 14, in the Hensel Phelps West Auditorium. His work focuses on how pathogens are sensed and eliminated by the innate immune system. The Dean’s Distinguished Seminar Series brings notable scholars to campus to discuss their work. You can find more information about this and other events on the campus events calendar, where you can also sign up for event notifications.

The CU Medicine annual meeting for members will be held at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday, November 14, in the Krugman Conference Hall. Our faculty practice plan is a critical key to the success of our school and we are pleased to continue reporting this good news to our members. A Zoom option is available for those not attending in person.

Nominations Due
Nominations for the 2023 Steven Fadul Award are being accepted through Thursday, November 30. The award honors the contributions of outstanding professional research assistants or staff in comparable positions in the School of Medicine. Nominees should show initiative in expanding the scope of their work and by mentoring trainees. The award is named in honor of Steven Fadul, who had a 30-year career as a researcher at the School of Medicine, most of it in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics. Nominations should be sent to Additional nomination information is available at the award’s  website.

Nominations for the Anschutz Medical Campus Annual Research Awards are being accepted through Friday, November 17.  There are multiple award categories. Details are available on the nomination form webpage.

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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