Dean's Weekly Message

September 18, 2023

Dear colleague: 

The Colorado Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CCTSI) received official notification last week that the National Institutes of Health has awarded $54 million for CCTSI to continue its work over the next seven years. The CCTSI is a research partnership between our campus, CU Boulder, CU Denver, and Colorado State University, multiple hospitals, and many community organizations across the state. Principal investigators for the grant are Ronald J. Sokol, MD, Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics, and Janine Higgins, PhD, professor of medicine. This is the fourth consecutive time the NIH has funded the CCTSI. Ron adds that the CCTSI anticipates receiving another $9 million in training grants in the coming months.

The CCTSI is the power behind many programs that boost the skills and capacity of our most important asset: our people. Since it was established in 2008, the CCTSI has funded 153 research scholars and pre- and post-doctoral trainees. The CCTSI invests in our faculty through programs like CO-Mentor, which provides a yearlong evidence-based training for mentor/mentee pairs, and the Clinical Faculty Scholars Program , which offers junior faculty members guided project development and grant-writing classes.

An important feature of the CCTSI is that the people of Colorado feel the direct effects of its work. As an example, Stanley Szefler, MD, professor of pediatrics, at a CCTSI Summit in 2022, described a program that builds bridges for asthma care between schools, families, and community health-care providers. More than 1,900 children at 41 schools received improved school-based asthma management. Also, 2,450 school nurses, teachers, staff, families, and community members received asthma education and training, and all Denver Public Schools have implemented a program to reduce environmental triggers for asthma.

The CCTSI is an influential and critically important resource for the state of Colorado. The institute invests in programs that create a flourishing scientific environment that turns research breakthroughs into improved health care. We are fortunate to have this federally funded program based on our campus and staffed by so many dedicated professionals who are working for the benefit of our entire academic community. Congratulations to all on the grant renewal and thank you for your dedication to improving the health of so many.

Faculty Updates 

Emily McCourt, MD, associate professor and the Ponzio Family Chair for Pediatric Ophthalmology, and Marc Mathias, MD, associate professor of ophthalmology, are featured in an article posted this month in the Department of Ophthalmology’s newsroom that describes outstanding patient care and innovative treatment available on our campus. Working with colleagues, Emily created an injectable medication that aims to slow down vision loss that 13-year-old Grace Hoyt is experiencing due to a rare genetic condition that affects her vision and nervous system. This article captures the exceptional care we provide here because of the collective commitment of a remarkable assembly of talent. As Marc says: “It’s really taken a village to accomplish this. There has been support from many players including Grace, who has shown us all the reasons her family calls her Amazing Gracie.”

The Department of Medicine has published Reaching New Heights, its 2022 annual report, outlining many significant accomplishments. The department’s more than 3,000 faculty and staff collected $357 million in research funding for more than 1,100 extramurally funded projects, provided care for 173,000 patients, collected more than $300 million in clinical income, and trained 188 residents and 156 fellows. Kudos to everyone in the department for the lasting impact they have made. Vineet Chopra, MD, MSc, chair of medicine, shared a note about the report that highlights innovation, partnerships, achievements, and a bright future for the department.

The Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery hosted the 8th International Congress on Bone Conduction Hearing and Related Technologies earlier this month. The meeting brought about 450 attendees from more than 28 countries to metro Denver for presentations and posters and a “Boots and Bling Banquet” at the Denver Art Museum. Many thanks to Stephen Cass, MD, MPH, professor of otolaryngology – head and neck surgery, for serving as the conference president and to our colleagues for this successful gathering of leading clinical and scientific experts.

Members of the Department of Psychiatry have been featured in several recent reports discussing the importance of mental health care and suicide prevention. Matt Mishkind, PhD, deputy director of the Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Depression Center, was interviewed on CBS Colorado last week, where he offered thoughtful comments about the importance of making better connections with our colleagues and contemporaries. Alex Yannacone, who directs education and community programs at the Johnson Depression Center, was also on CBS Colorado in conversation with Lisa Hackard, a partner at accounting firm KPMG, about Lisa’s advocacy for mental health at work. In a Q&A in the School of Medicine newsroom, Julie Wolfe, MD, assistant professor of psychiatry and medical director of Student and Resident Mental Health , discusses warning signs, treatment options, and campus resources.

David Keller, MD, professor of pediatrics and the department’s vice chair of clinical strategy and transformation, will receive the Job Lewis Smith Award at the American Academy of Pediatrics annual meeting in Washington, D.C., on October 21. The award honors pediatricians with a history of significant career achievements in community pediatrics.

Ihuoma Eneli, MD, MS, will join our School of Medicine on October 1, when she becomes the new section head of nutrition in the Department of Pediatrics. She has been professor of pediatrics at Ohio State University and director of the Center for Healthy Weight and Nutrition at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus. She succeeds Nancy Krebs, MD, MS, professor of pediatrics, who has been section head since 1998.

Applications Due 

The School of Medicine’s Translational Research Scholars Program is accepting applications for grants. Awardees will receive $75,000 annually for up to four years to support professional development and research. Applicants must be within the first four years of their appointment as an assistant professor and must hold an MD, PhD, or equivalent professional degree. Letters of intent are due October 15. Application details are available at the program website.

Upcoming Events

Advocating for Children in Migration, symposium on Thursday, September 21, will feature keynote speaker Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigration Rights Project, and panels on approaches to advocacy that include arts and literature, law, medicine and behavioral health, music, and performing arts. Lunch will include a performance of Ghost of Abuelito by True North Duo. (You can get a preview by watching them perform a Tiny Desk Concert in 2020.) A reception and world premiere of Soul Echoes will conclude the day’s events. Hosts of this free symposium are CU Center for Bioethics and Humanities and the Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse. To attend, RSVP here. For questions, contact

Compositive Primary, a school for children ages three through fifth grade, is hosting an open house from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday, November 4. The school, at 2345 N. Ursula St., is in the Fitzsimons Innovation Community on land north of the Anschutz Medical Campus. To attend, register online.

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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