Dean's Weekly Message

November 20, 2023

Dear colleague:

Jerica Berge, PhD, MPH, has been named director of the Adult and Child Center for Outcomes Research and Delivery Science (ACCORDS), effective Jan. 1, 2024. She will also hold a faculty appointment as professor in the Department of Family Medicine with secondary appointments in pediatrics and public health. She will also be associate director of child outcomes research at Children’s Hospital Colorado.

Jerica will join us from the University of Minnesota Medical School, where she is professor and vice chair for research in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health and serves as director of the Healthy Eating and Activity across the Lifespan Center and director of the Center for Women in Medicine and Science.

Allison Kempe, MD, MPH, professor of pediatrics, proposed the creation of ACCORDS, bringing together existing smaller programs and organizing the methodological cores needed to support faculty across campus. Since it was formed in 2014, hundreds of faculty members have relied on its services. Thanks to Ally’s vision, insight, and drive, we have a center uniquely focused on health services research, outcomes research, and implementation science.

In the 2023 fiscal year, ACCORDS provided educational programming that reached more than 1,200 attendees. Its fellowship programs trained 16 health service research leaders, with many graduates in key campus leadership roles. One hundred junior faculty researchers received support and mentorship in their efforts to secure early career funding, more than 60 investigators received support in their grant applications.

We welcome Jerica and offer thanks to Ally for her outstanding leadership and enduring contributions to the university, our School of Medicine, and our community-based research partners. Thanks also to Dan Matlock, MD, MPH, professor of medicine, who has served as interim director of ACCORDS since September.

CU Medicine Annual Meeting
Our faculty practice, CU Medicine, reported another strong year of clinical and financial results at its annual member meeting on Tuesday, November 14. Our faculty provided care to 736,207 unique patients for 4.2 million total patient visits for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2023. Our faculty plan expanded access through its community-based clinics, offered more telehealth service, and led the way in serving our state’s Medicaid patients. Even as rising costs have required increased attention to ensuring efficiency in our operations, our team running CU Medicine have delivered with outstanding administrative attention to detail. Our main challenge remains building the capacity we need to see all the people who want to see us.

Our successful faculty clinical practice provides critical support to other missions of our school. A particularly notable way through its support for scholarships for students at our School of Medicine. At its October board meeting, the CU Medicine board increased scholarship funding for the fourth year in a row, approving $1.4 million. We are a strong school because we reinforce one another in each of our missions. Thank you for your continued care, your support for future generations of caregivers, and your continual work to improve lives.

State of the Campus Address
Chancellor Don Elliman delivered the State of the Campus Address on Thursday, November 16, recognizing our continuing growth and emphasizing the need to support innovation by our faculty and staff. You can watch the address in this video. “Our goal is simply to be at the very forefront of innovation in health and medicine,” he said. “We seek to hire architects and dreamers, leaders who are shaping the health care landscape and bringing new ideas to life.”

An example Don cited is the partnership of Traci Lyons, PhD, associate professor of medicine, and Virginia Borges, MD, professor of medicine, in improving care for breast cancer. Traci joined our school in 1999 as a professional research assistant in microbiology, completed doctoral studies in pathology, and moved on to a postdoctoral fellowship in Virginia’s lab. Based on a discovery by Traci, they have formed a company to develop a novel treatment and they are working toward a clinical trial.

Don’s talk also featured a video describing the exceptional care received by Aurora native Josh Bryan. In 2016, during a trip to Thailand, Josh suffered a terrible scooter accident in which both of his femurs were broken. His wife, Melissa, who is a nurse at University of Colorado Hospital, helped him recover enough to return home. Once here, Nathan Donaldson, DO, associate professor of orthopedics, performed a rare and innovative procedure that saved enough of Josh’s left leg to give him a chance to walk again. Still, Josh struggled with the socket prosthesis.

After four years, Josh sought osseointegration, a bone-anchored prosthesis, a complicated procedure in the best circumstances, and Josh’s wasn’t an easy case because a major artery crossed the bone where the implant would go. In a first-in-the-world procedure, Jason Stoneback, MD, associate professor of orthopedics and director of the Limb Restoration Program, and Nathan moved the artery out of the way to set the stage for osseointegration. Jason describes the surgery and the result in a video incorporated into Don’s address.

“This campus and all of the wonderful, talented people that I have the privilege to work with, putting our heads together and our individual skillsets to make these sorts of things happen for people who have often been told, ‘There’s no hope, there’s no way forward, we have no options for you,’ but our limb restoration program is able to find options when others think there aren’t, it’s been the best part of my career,” Jason says. “That’s why I do what I do.”

Faculty Updates 
The Cape-Colorado-Combat (C3) Global Trauma Network received two research grants totaling $4.7 million from the U.S. Department of Defense. One study will assess how timing of wound care and antibiotics impact infectious complications and multi-organ failure in patients with high-risk injuries. The second will assess timing of critical interventions in patients with life-threatening bleeding from trauma, known as hemorrhagic shock. Both four-year projects will build on the C3 Network’s decade-long experience in collaboratively studying injured patients in the Western Cape province of South Africa. Nee-Kofi Mould-Millman, MD, PhD, associate professor of emergency medicine, is principal investigator for the C3 Network. Details about the grants are included in an article in the Department of Emergency Medicine newsroom.

Bhargavi Chekuri, MD, assistant professor of family medicine and director of Graduate Medical Education for our school’s Climate and Health Program, was honored for her leadership in climate and health advocacy at Healthy Air and Water Colorado’s annual event on Thursday, November 16. Bhargavi has been a key partner with the group in advocating for policy solutions to the climate crisis and its impacts on public health. At our school, she has been a leader in developing future cohorts of medical professionals as experts in climate and health advocacy, especially through integrating climate into medical curricula, and has served as a role model in testimony for equitable policies to combat Colorado’s climate pollution.

Ann E. Caldwell, PhD, assistant professor of medicine, is the first author of a research article published this month by the Proceedings of the Royal Society B that examines lifestyles of physically active Tsimane people, an indigenous population of forager-horticulturalists in lowland Bolivia, to consider similarities and differences to adolescents living in post-industrialized nations. The study reports that the slowdown of physical activity during adolescence is not likely caused by lifestyle and environment but by energy demands placed on the body as it grows and sexually matures. Ann discusses the study in an article in the campus newsroom.

Ronald J. Sokol, MD, Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics, and Janine Higgins, PhD, professor of medicine, discuss the Colorado Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute in last week’s CU Connections. The institute recently announced that it received a $54 million, seven-year grant from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences to continue its work.

Chapman Award
Gladys Arguello Fletes, MD, fellow in radiology, and Maria Baimas-George, MD, MPH, transplant surgery fellow, have received the 2023 Michael Chapman Endowed Award, which was created to honor the former radiology resident who was known for his humor, kindness, and willingness to work hard. Mike died in October 2021, two years after a leukemia diagnosis. The award was established by Mike’s father, Richard Chapman, to inspire resident physicians to follow the example of Michael’s indefatigable energy as a physician-researcher and to pursue a similar path in their medical careers.

IHQSE Training
Advanced training for the teams providing care on our campus is available from the Institute for Healthcare Quality, Safety and Efficiency (IHQSE). The institute offers a menu of options that range from half-day workshops to year-long trainings. Its programs focus on quality and process improvement, patient safety, leadership, and team development. Participating in these programs enhances the quality of care we provide, so check out the schedules for IHQSE’s winter and spring programs.

Thanksgiving Break
As we pause this week for Thanksgiving, I want to express gratitude to all who are dedicated to making our school such an extraordinary community. We dedicate ourselves to relieving suffering with advanced knowledge and compassionate care, and we see examples every day. I encourage you to remain focused on our mission and to support one another as we pursue our shared goals. We also offer our thanks to our colleagues who are working this holiday. Due to the shortened workweek, there will be no message on November 27.

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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