Dean's Weekly Message

October 23, 2023

Dear colleague: 

Each month, our campus hosts scores of lectures, seminars, and other activities that contribute to the vitality of our academic home. These events are critical to advancing our individual and collective knowledge. We build a vibrant community, we gather with current collaborators, and we meet potential new partners for our work. We recognize the value of lifelong learning with these events.

You almost certainly have seen the flyers inviting you to attend these events. These flyers are posted in elevators and pinned to bulletin boards. We also used to flood your email with one-off messages promoting each individual event. This constant flow – message by message by message by message – likely defeated the goal of raising awareness of any specific event. You were getting hundreds of these emails in any given month.

To relieve that email burden, we shifted these one-off announcements to the campus events calendar. The calendar has a feature that allows you to sign up for a digest of events of interest to you. The digest will be delivered to you on the day of your choice, for the time frame of your choice, with the number of results of your choice.

That means you need to use the calendar to find out about campus events. It’s not hard, but it does take a little bit of your attention to sign up. The reward is that you get event listings that are targeted to your interests. Learn how to build an event digest by watching this video or by referring to this step-by-step guide . Use these so that you can be a valued contributor to our campus activities.

Each unit of our school is responsible for posting their events to the calendar. That means your program, your division, center, or department needs an event administrator who can post to the calendar. To help understand the task, the school has posted videos on accessing the event administrator dashboard and on adding an event as an event administrator.

I look forward to seeing you at an upcoming event.

Faculty Updates 
Matthew K. Wynia, MD, MPH, professor of medicine and director of the CU Center for Bioethics and Humanities, is first author of an invited commentary on addressing conflicts of interest in residency programs that was published last week by JAMA Network Open. The article notes that drug and device makers are not required to annually report payments to residents. Matt and his co-authors, Christine M. Baugh, PhD, and Eric G. Campbell, PhD, both members of the Center for Bioethics and Humanities and the Department of Medicine, also cite a report showing that in programs where gifts to residents are rare, gifts to program directors are common. They describe the findings as disappointing and add that the reporting required by federal law is insufficient to reduce risks of conflict of interests in residency training programs.

Lotte Dyrbye, MD, MHPE, senior associate dean of faculty and chief well-being officer, is corresponding author of a research letter about medical student plans to practice in underserved areas that was published by JAMA last week. Using responses to surveys by the Association of American Medical Colleges of medical school graduates in 2019, 2020, and 2021, Lotte and her co-authors report that 27.6% of the 45,687 respondents planned to practice in an underserved area. Considering demographics, women were more likely than men, and respondents from racial or ethnic groups, including Black, Latino, American Indian, and Native Hawaiian, had higher odds of intent to practice in an underserved area than those who did not identify with those respective racial and ethnic groups. Also, bisexual, gay, and lesbian students had higher odds of practicing in underserved areas than their heterosexual peers.

The fourth and final video in The New England Journal of Medicine’s series “Type 2 Diabetes – Controlling the Epidemic” posted last week. Jane E.B. Reusch, MD, professor of medicine, is a featured expert in the series and she is prominent in this final episode, which discusses therapies for diabetes. Monica Peek, MD, MPH, professor of medicine at University of Chicago, who is one of the physicians featured in the series with Jane, offers this excellent summary of our role as caregivers: “Everyone’s walk to wellness is different. There are so many environmental factors that impact that journey. Many people have lots of boulders on that pathway. Sometimes they’re able to move that out the way, and all they see now is that there are 24 more ahead of them. It is our job as physicians and as a health care system to remove those obstacles that are in the way for patients as they are marching on their way to wellness.”

Alexa Burger, PhD, associate research professor of pediatrics, is a corresponding author of an article published last week by Nature Communications that describes research related to notochord and spine development. Working with labs from around the world, Alexa and colleagues discovered the gene-regulatory elements of Brachyury, the key factor for notochord development and disease. Brachyury controls the formation of the notochord, a rigid, rod-like structure in the embryo that is the template for our vertebral column and especially its discs. Using genome sequencing insights from humans and genetic experiments in mouse, zebrafish, axolotls, and sea squirts, the team cracked the code in how Brachyury is active in the forming notochord, an evolutionary feature that dates back hundreds of millions of years. The work has implications as to how the notochord subsequently transforms into our intervertebral discs and how Brachyury maintains these in a healthy spine. From our campus, Alexa worked with Christian Mosimann, PhD, associate professor of pediatrics, Cassie Kemmler, senior PRA in the Burger and Mosimann labs, and Hannah Moran, who is earning her PhD in cell biology, stem cells and development. Christian and Hannah were co-authors of an article published in Nature earlier this year that uncovered new clues about the origin of paired appendages. That work is described in an article in the School of Medicine newsroom. Alexa, Christian, Cassie, and Hannah are all scientists in the Department of Pediatrics Section of Developmental Biology.

The Office of Advancement hosted an endowed chair celebration last week to highlight the generosity of Delta Dental of Colorado and the Climate and Health Foundation and the work of their chairholders. Philanthropy strengthens our work by focusing attention on the needs of our communities and by building ties between our faculty and the people we serve. At the celebration on Thursday evening, Bruce Dye, DDS, MPH, who is the Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation Chair in Oral Health Equity, and Jay Lemery, MD, Endowed Chair in Climate Health, discussed their work on a panel led by Cathy Bradley, PhD, dean of the Colorado School of Public Health.

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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