Dean's Weekly Message

November 6, 2023

Dear colleague:

The University of Colorado system reported last week that CU faculty received $1.6 billion in sponsored research funding and gifts for research in the 2022-23 fiscal year. The total is a 9% increase over the previous year and is the highest amount ever tallied by the university.

Of that total amount, research awards were $1.4 billion, a 4% increase over the previous year, and most of that funding – $898.7 million – comes from federal agencies. Non-federal awards totaled $506.9 million. Gifts for research totaled $191.6 million, up 65% over the previous year. Top research award sponsors include the National Institutes of Health, NASA, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Commerce, and the U.S. Department of Defense.

Anschutz Medical Campus researchers collected $867 million of the total sponsored research funding and gifts for the year.

In the system’s report, the University of Colorado Cancer Center is highlighted. Collectively, CU Anschutz investigators were awarded more than $70 million in grants and gifts supporting cancer research during the 2022-23 fiscal year. That total includes $4.1 million in funding from the National Cancer Institute and a $20 million gift that established the new Katy O. and Paul M. Rady Esophageal and Gastric Center of Excellence.

Investments in research are building blocks that yield improvements in care, advancements in knowledge, and enhance our educational programs. Importantly, these investments in research also lead to future investments in research. As we build a community of experts who share knowledge and resources, they attract talented and productive colleagues who receive grants of their own. It is a virtuous cycle that adds to the vitality of our school.

At our School of Medicine, we’ve seen that success. In 2015, the total amount in research awards received by our school’s faculty was $347 million. In the fiscal year ending June 30, 2023, our school’s research awards totaled $598 million in research awards, according to the campus Office of Grants and Contracts.

During the past year, examples of research support on our campus include:

  • Sachin Wani, MD, professor of medicine, was named the inaugural Katy O. and Paul M. Rady Endowed Chair in Esophageal Cancer Research.
  • Sarah Tevis, MD, received a five-year Clinician Scientist Development Grant from the American Cancer Society and the Joel J. Roslyn Faculty Research Award from the Association for Academic Surgery. Her research research focuses on evaluating psychosocial and physical well-being outcomes for patients with breast cancer.
  • Angelo D’Alessandro, PhD, professor of biochemistry and molecular genetics, has been awarded funding with colleagues at the University of Pittsburgh by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to test interventions for life-threatening bleeding in traumatically injured children.

Their success, along with the thousands of others on our campus, is a magnet for future investment in research. Earlier this year, for example, we announced that $50 million had been committed by The Anschutz Foundation to fund the Anschutz Acceleration Initiative. With that gift, we will support faculty to develop medical treatments and preventive care, drive innovation in patient care, and transform health care delivery.

Research with the U.S. Military
Lester Martinez-Lopez, MD, MPH, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs for the U.S. Department of Defense, delivered a talk, “The Military Health System: Healthcare Innovation, Research Needs, and Civilian Collaborations,” on our campus on Thursday, November 2, as part of the Distinguished Leader Seminar series hosted by the CU Center for COMBAT Research. He explained that for academic researchers to succeed as partners with the military, it is essential that they translate how their work is going to make a difference in the lives of service members. Academic researchers often want to emphasize how they are expanding knowledge. He reminded the audience that gathered in the Hensel Phelps West auditorium that researchers must focus on how the product of the research will save lives or reduce harm.  “The no. 1 issue is language,” he said. “It sounds trivial, but there’s nothing trivial about it.” Research investigators also met with the assistant secretary to discuss how current research advancements in psychological health, arctic medicine, health and artificial intelligence technology, and clinical trials have direct implications to solving pressing military medical needs. Many thanks to Vik Bebarta, MD, professor of emergency medicine and director of the center, and the rest of his team for hosting the visit.

Faculty Updates 
Jayashree Kalpathy-Cramer, PhD, professor of ophthalmology, has been awarded a $300,000 grant from the Michael J. Fox Foundation to analyze clinical data curated at the Sue Anschutz-Rodgers Eye Center using artificial intelligence (AI) to identify biomarkers of Parkinson’s disease. Using a large retrospective dataset of images and health records, Jayashree and her team hope to predict the disease before symptoms manifest. In an article in the Department of Ophthalmology newsroom, Jayashree explains that photos of the eyes can reveal information about a person’s neurological or cardiovascular conditions. Work began on November 1 and is expected to continue for 18 months.

Darleen Sandoval, PhD, professor of pediatrics, is a featured expert in a National Public Radio report last week about how the medications Ozempic and Wegovy mimic the hormone glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1). Darleen is an integrated physiologist whose research focuses on advancing our understanding of the role of the gut-brain axis in regulation of metabolism. In the report, Darleen explains that GLP-1 degrades quickly in the blood so its effect is less persistent than semaglutide, the active agreement in those new weight-loss medications.

Michael Puente, MD, assistant professor of ophthalmology, and Emily McCourt, MD, associate professor of ophthalmology, discuss their work providing care to patients who have Down syndrome, in an article in the Department of Ophthalmology newsroom. They provide that care at the UCHealth Pediatric-Adult Ophthalmology Transition Clinic and they are working with the Global Down Syndrome Foundation to develop guidelines for adult eye care for patients with Down syndrome.

Tai Lockspeiser, MD, MEd, professor of pediatrics and assistant dean of medical education – assessment, evaluation, and outcomes, has been selected as a member of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Research in Medical Education (RIME) Program Planning Committee. The committee selects the medical education research abstracts/posters presented at the AAMC annual meeting and research papers published in Academic Medicine. Tai and several others from our school were presenters at the AAMC annual meeting in Seattle. The meeting, which began last Friday and continues through tomorrow, is an opportunity for our faculty and staff to meet with colleagues from across the country and to learn about best practices at other academic medical centers. We are fortunate to have so many of our colleagues counted as leaders among their peers.

Viral Shah, MD, associate professor of pediatrics, last Thursday received the Diabetes Technology Society Leadership Award at the society’s meeting. The award recognizes contributions for research that improves diabetes outcomes and access for people with diabetes. Viral joins a distinguished list of honorees who have received the award since 2001.

Improving Health Literacy
Maria Baimas-George, MD, MPH, a transplant surgery fellow in the Department of Surgery, has a deal with Cambridge University Press to publish seven books explaining complex medical issues to young patients. Maria had noticed that pediatric patients and their families weren’t getting the communication they needed, so she decided to create short, illustrated books that explained medical terms, such as appendicitis and dialysis, in language children could understand. An article in the surgery newsroom describes how Maria bought a watercolor set and got busy creating her first book, “Appendicitis: One Angry Worm.” For Maria, the process offers a way to relax while fulfilling an important goal. “Health literacy is a significant public health issue that impacts access to care, health disparities, and outcomes,” she says. “If we can improve patient education with resources written at appropriate health literacy levels, I think these books could actually make a difference.”

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 →

If you would like to receive these emails directly, please fill out this form.

Manage your email preferences | Update your contact information 

CMS Login