Dean's Weekly Message

April 15, 2024

Dear colleague: 


Faculty Updates 
Lilia Cervantes, MD, professor of medicine and director of immigrant health, has been named the winner of the 2024 Bernard Lown Award for Social Responsibility for her exceptional work advancing health equity and expanding access to care for undocumented immigrants. The award is given annually by the Lown Institute to recognize extraordinary clinicians dedicating their time, skills, and energy to tackle important health issues. Nominees must be U.S. clinicians aged 45 or younger and stand out for their leadership in social justice, environmentalism, global peace, or other humanitarian efforts.

Stephen Daniels, MD, PhD, chair of pediatrics, has been awarded the Robert Suskind and Leslie Lewinter-Suskind Pediatric Nutrition Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Society for Nutrition (ASN) and the ASN Foundation. The award honors a clinician or researcher for lifelong contributions to pediatric nutrition, emphasizing its importance in child health.

Lexie Gallant, PA-C, assistant professor of medicine, received the 2024 Clinical Leadership for Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants Award at the Society of Hospital Medicine Converge annual meeting in San Diego this past weekend. Lexie is a graduate of our Child Health Associate/Physician Assistant Program and a leader in the Division of Hospital Medicine, serving as co-director of provider experience and collaborating on wellness-related initiatives.


Traci Lyons, PhD, associate professor of medicine, has received a $3.3 million federal grant from the National Institutes of Health to study how a semaphorin 7A promotes resistance to therapies for estrogen receptor positive breast cancers, which represent about three-quarters of all breast cancer cases. Traci will work with Virginia Borges, MD, professor of medicine, and Weston Porter, PhD, professor at the Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. An article in the CU Cancer Center newsroom describes the study.

Robert Eckel, MD, professor emeritus of medicine, is co-author of a review article published April 3 by The New England Journal of Medicine about prevention of cardiovascular disease in type 1 diabetes. Life expectancy for persons with type 1 diabetes is about 13 years shorter than the general population, and cardiovascular disease is the primary cause. The article notes that cardiovascular disease prevention in persons with type 1 diabetes depends on observational studies because of a lack of evidence from randomized clinical trials.

Fan Zhang, PhD, assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Rheumatology, is a co-author of a research article published April 10 by Science Translational Medicine describing a study that may identify new targets for pain treatment in rheumatoid arthritis. Joint pain due to rheumatoid arthritis had been presumed to be related to inflammation in the tissue that lines the joint cavity, called the synovium. Recent studies show pain scores in patients do not correlate with synovial inflammation. For this study, the authors developed a machine-learning approach to identify an 815-gene expression module associated with pain from biopsy samples from patients with rheumatoid arthritis who had limited synovial inflammation.

Joshua T.B. Williams, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics, is corresponding author of an original investigation published April 8 by JAMA Network Open that reports increased COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy among pregnant or recently pregnant survey respondents from 2021 to 2023. The surveys, which included 1,227 respondents, took place from October 2021 to February 2022 and from November 2022 to February 2023 at 13 health care systems. Despite substantial evidence of vaccine safety, the surveys found decreasing confidence in perceived safety.

Paul Christine, MD, PhD, assistant professor of medicine who practices at Denver Health’s Westside Family Health Center, was a round table panelist meeting with the U.S. Senate Finance Health Care Subcommittee last Tuesday. The lawmakers and panelists discussed opportunities to improve substance use disorder care in federal health programs. Paul’s prepared remarks covered insurance barriers to effective addiction care, complexity of care, and innovative approaches to improve care.

Elizabeth Pomfret, MD, PhD, professor of surgery and chief of transplant surgery, and the team at the UCHealth Transplant Center have received the INTERLINK 2024 Chairman’s Award for superior patient outcomes in kidney transplant. This award is based on exemplary transplant rates, waitlist survival, as well as graft and patient survival. INTERLINK, which each year identifies the nation’s top-performing transplant programs through an analytical approach, identified the UCHealth Transplant Center as INTERLINK’s No. 1 performing program for kidney transplantation. With about 300 patients last year, our kidney-transplant program is one of the country’s largest.

U.S. News Rankings
Our Physical Therapy Program has been ranked No. 11 on the U.S. News & World Report list of best physical therapy programs. The last time physical therapy programs were ranked, in 2020, our program was listed No. 13. Michael Harris-Love, PT, MPT, DSc, professor and associate dean of the CU Physical Therapy Program, thanked his faculty and staff for their commitment to “scholarship, program development, clinical education, holistic application reviews, and service to our profession and community.” He added, “We don’t do these things because of rankings; we strive to excel because that’s who we are.”

The U.S. News rankings of medical schools had been scheduled for release last Tuesday but was delayed due to questions about its methodology. No publication date has been set.

Leadership Opportunity
Our campus is seeking applications for director of interprofessional education, a 0.3 FTE position overseeing the operation, growth, and development of interprofessional education programs. The CU Center for Interprofessional Practice & Education offers curriculum that integrates preclinical and clinical training for all our health profession students. The center ensures that our graduates are ready to be members of a collaborative interprofessional workforce. Internal university applicants only. Details are available in the job listing. Questions should be directed to

Concealed Carry Ban Proposal
I thank the CU Board of Regents for accepting public comments last week on proposed changes to the weapon control policy for CU campuses. On Friday, the board received a “notice of motion” that would amend current policy so that it would say: “In recognition of its obligation to preserve the learning and working environment, the Board of Regents prohibits possession of concealed firearms, even if allowed by state statute, on all campuses, and authorizes the enactment of additional rules lawfully regulating the possession of firearms, explosives and other weapons.” The proposal is to be considered by University Affairs Committee’s zoom meeting on June 4. Details on how to provide public comment at the meeting are posted on the committee website.

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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