Dean's Weekly Message

September 11, 2023

Dear colleague: 

The CU Anschutz Medical Campus Block Party will be Wednesday, September 13. There will be food trucks, booths, and live music during the party, which runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Bonfils Circle, south of the Fitzsimons Building. Get outside and enjoy the company of your colleagues at this special event.

The CU Anschutz Medical Campus last week announced that university operations will be closed from the end of business on Friday, Dec. 22, 2023, through Monday, Jan. 1, 2024. Employees with clinical responsibilities and other essential functions who are scheduled to work that week will still be expected to report to work. Those employees will be eligible to take equivalent leave prior to the end of the fiscal year on June 30, 2024, and they should work with their supervisors to coordinate. Details are posted on the university human resources website.

Faculty Updates 

Kevin Lillehei, MD, chair of neurosurgery, has announced that he plans to step down as chair and has asked me to launch a search for his successor. Kevin has led the department since August 2004, first as interim chair and as chair since April 2006. In a recent note to colleagues, Kevin wrote: “With everyone’s help, we have built a Department that rivals any in the country. We have assembled a program with extensive expertise and depth in all of the surgical subspecialties, in addition to having an impressive research portfolio. The residency program has flourished with, in my opinion, the best residents in the nation. We should be proud!” Indeed, we are. We have an outstanding program that certainly will attract exceptional leadership candidates. I would like to thank Kevin for his years of exceptional service to our school and for his willingness to continue as department chair while we conduct the search.

Ken Tyler, MD, chair of neurology, has been notified that he will receive the Pioneer in NeuroVirology Award in October at the International Symposium on NeuroVirology. Ken joins a distinguished list of honorees who have received the award since it was established in 1999, including Donald Gilden, MD, Ken’s predecessor as chair, who was honored in 2007.

Jane E.B. Reusch, MD, professor of medicine, bioengineering, and physiology, is featured in a four-part video series about type 2 diabetes that debuted in The New England Journal of Medicine on September 7. The first video , “Type 2 Diabetes – Controlling the Epidemic, Episode 1: Understanding and Preventing Type 2 Diabetes,” is an outstanding introduction. The video explains factors that are contributing to the alarming rise in cases of type 2 diabetes in our country and makes a call for improved screening and treatment. Jane is the first voice in the video. “The day I was born, it was maybe 1 million people,” she says. “When I started my training, it was 3 to 4 million people and now we have 37 million Americans affected by diabetes – 90% of those type 2 diabetes.” The presentation, based on research by Jane and colleagues in the field, is a terrific public service to raise attention to a growing health crisis.

Ulli Bayer, PhD, professor of pharmacology, is the corresponding author of an article published by Nature on August 30 describing research that challenges long-standing dogma about the molecular mechanisms underlying learning and memory. A team of researchers led by Ulli report that long-term potentiation, which is crucial for learning and memory, requires structural rather than enzymatic functions by an enzyme known as CaMKII. In Nature, Ulli and his colleagues write that “it has not escaped our notice that the specific findings we have reported immediately suggest possible therapeutic applications for chronic CaMKII inhibition.” Ulli discusses the research in this article in the Anschutz Medical Campus newsroom.

Lesley Pepin, MD, fellow in toxicology with the Department of Emergency Medicine, is corresponding author of an August 28 article in Pediatrics that reviews cases of cannabis ingestions by children younger than 6 years. The article reports that the dose of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in the edible cannabis correlates to the degree of toxicity. Recognizing an increase in hospitalizations of young children due to cannabis exposures between 2017 and 2021, Lesley and her co-authors gathered information about toxic dose impacts to inform medical management of these patients. The information may also have implications for safety regulations. Lesley and five colleagues from Rocky Mountain Poison & Drug Safety and the School of Medicine are authors of the article.

Laura Campos, AuD, PhD, clinical instructor of otolaryngology - head and neck surgery, is corresponding author of an article published this summer by the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society that reports that older adults who consistently use hearing aids are at lower risk of falling. According to the study, hearing aid users were at 50% reduced odds of experiencing a fall compared with non-users. Laura’s co-authors include five colleagues from our campus.

Manali Kamdar, MD, associate professor of medicine and clinical director of lymphoma services, has been named the Morton and Sandra Saffer Endowed Chair, which was created by the Saffer family in gratitude for care they received after a lymphoma diagnosis. Since joining our school in 2014, Manali has developed and overseen our nationally recognized lymphoma program, and earlier this year she received the school’s Distinguished Clinician Award.

The Eugene S. Farley, Jr. Health Policy Center has published its 2023 Impact Report to highlight its accomplishments. The center develops and translates evidence so that it can be used in policymaking. The center also works to integrate systems to improve health, equity, and well-being. Several projects described in the report show how the center makes a difference in people’s lives. Examples include a project to support payment reform for integrated behavioral health in primary care, a program designed to support patients with legal needs outside the clinic, work done to inform firearm safety storage with the goal of protecting youth from gun violence, and a tool that helps rural hospitals and primary care practices implement better health care in their communities.

One Book One Campus 

This year’s One Book One Campus is What the Eyes Don’t See by Mona Hanna-Attisha, MD, MPH, who gives a first-hand account of the contaminated water crisis in Flint, Mich., where lead in water pipes poisoned residents. The book highlights social factors contributing to health inequity, the importance of interprofessional teamwork in providing care, and the concept of One Health . The author will speak on campus at noon Friday, October 20. Additional activities this fall will include book discussions, a Climate Grand Rounds presentation in conjunction with the Climate Medicine Program, and a CU Anschutz food pantry drive. Watch for event listings on the CU Anschutz Medical Campus events calendar. One Book One Campus is organized by the Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education.

Applications Due

The CU Anschutz Programmatic Incubator for Research Program is accepting applications for funding support for collaborative research groups of three to five investigators working on unmet needs in basic and translational science or clinical medicine. The program, known as CU Aspire, is intended to increase submission and success of program projects, center grants, and large multi-project team science programs. Letters of intent are due Monday, October 30, with full applications due December 15. Project applications should include budget plans for funding up to $100,000 per year for up to two years of support. Details are available at the program webpage.

The School of Medicine Dean’s Office is accepting applications for its bridge funding program. Bridge funding provides financial support to principal investigators while they re-apply for funding from the National Institutes of Health and other major funding organizations. Applications and chair letters of support are due Monday, September 25. The letters of support should be submitted directly to the bridge funding program committee. More information is available on the bridge funding website. New this year, full-time faculty members focused on child health may be eligible for a child health bridge funding supplement. Information on the child health research bridge funding supplement is available on this website.

Applications for Rymer Innovation Awards are open. School of Medicine faculty with academic rank of instructor or higher are encouraged to apply. Projects should focus on innovative approaches to instructional design, education technologies, faculty development, learner assessment, and learner well-being, diversity, equity, inclusion, and sense of belonging. Up to $18,000 is available. Proposals are due by Sunday, October 15. Details are available on the Academy of Medical Educators 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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