Dean's Weekly Message

February 5, 2024

Dear colleague: 

Focus on Innovation
The Fitzsimons Innovation Community north of our campus features prominently in an article about co-working laboratories published January 29 by Nature. April Giles, vice president of business development for the community, explains that companies based in the community collaborate by sharing equipment, and often by sharing employment and business opportunities. The availability of a cell-culture core facility, for example, led Melissa Krebs, PhD, a chemical and biological engineer at Colorado School of Mines in Golden, to set up her company GelSana Therapeutics at the Fitzsimons Innovation Community at the end of 2020.

CU Innovations recently posted its 2023 annual report. CU Innovations brings together industry partners, entrepreneurs, and investors to help CU researchers create biomedical technology that improves the quality of life worldwide. With expertise in patents, copyrights, licensing, business development, startup formation, and venture financing, CU Innovations translates discovery into impact through transparent and flexible best practices. The annual report includes several examples of impressive startups, partnerships, and milestones.

Survey Update
We are making good progress in collecting responses from our faculty, residents, and fellows to the survey about our workplace and professional well-being. Last Monday, we reported that the overall response rate was 44%. By Friday, the survey response rate had risen to 53%. The more responses we get, the better, so if you haven’t yet responded, please do so. The survey is for residents, fellows, and university-paid faculty who are at least 50 percent full time and who joined us before October 2023. The survey closes on February 20. Watch your email for reminders or use the QR code to access the survey. It takes about 10-15 minutes to complete.

Medical Student Honored
Courtney “Coco” Wham, a fourth-year medical student, has been named recipient of the National Outstanding Medical Student Award by the American College of Emergency Physicians and Emergency Medicine Residents’ Association (EMRA). The award is given to fourth-year emergency medicine-bound medical students for humanism and professionalism, leadership in medical organizations and the community, research, awards, and academic excellence. The recognition will be given at EMRA’s virtual Spring Medical Student Forum on Saturday, March 9. Congratulations to Coco on this exceptional achievement.

Faculty Updates 
David M. Higgins, MD, MPH, instructor of pediatrics, and Sean T. O’Leary, MD, MPH, professor of pediatrics, are authors of a perspective article about the risks of normalizing parental vaccine hesitancy published February 3 by The New England Journal of Medicine . They explain that reports of hesitancy among parents have been exaggerated and make it appear that many more people are declining to have children vaccinated. They write: “The data, however, are undeniable: apart from important challenges with influenza and Covid­19 vaccina­tion, the vast majority of parents in the United States continue to choose to have their children vac­cinated” according to recommended vaccination schedules. They note that only 1% of children born in 2019 or 2020 hadn’t re­ceived any vaccines by their sec­ond birthday.

Six members of our campus community are authors of an article published by Telemedicine and e-Health about the environmental benefits using econsults to deliver care. The authors reviewed 15,499 econsults between July 2018 and December 2022 from the Peer Mentored Care Collaborative (PMCC) at our school. Among the benefits they tally are a reduction of 310,858 miles of in-state travel distance, 5,491 hours of saved travel time, fuel reduction of 13,575 gallons, and a reduction of 77 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions. Susan L. Moore, PhD, MSPH,  research assistant professor at the Colorado School of Public Health, is the corresponding author, and John “Fred” Thomas, PhD, professor of pediatrics and public health and executive director of PMCC, is senior author.

Barry H. Rumack, MD, professor emeritus of emergency medicine and pediatrics, received the Prince Mahidol Award for 2023 in a ceremony in Bangkok, Thailand, last month. Each year, two Prince Mahidol Awards are given to individuals or institutes who have demonstrated outstanding and exemplary contributions to advancing the world's medical and public health services. Barry was recognized in the public health category for his work on an antidote to paracetamol toxicity, which results in liver failure, and for pioneering the use of Poisindex as a poison information database. Barry, looking dapper in his tux, and fellow awardee Italian molecular biologist Napoleone Ferrara, MD, who received the award for medical service, are featured in photos posted with the announcement.

Commencement Honors
The University of Colorado Board of Regents announced the 2024 recipients of honorary degrees and awards that will be given at this year’s commencement ceremonies. Ted Harms, executive director of The Anschutz Foundation, will receive an honorary degree and Ned Calonge, MD, MPH, associate dean for public health practice at the Colorado School of Public Health and chief medical officer for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, will receive a distinguished service award. The university’s entire slate of awardees is named in an article in the CU system’s weekly newsletter.

Programs for Medical Educators 
The Academy of Medical Educators Education & Innovation Symposium is set for May 1-2. The symposium aims to build and strengthen our community of educators and innovators by providing a forum to share their scholarship and to connect colleagues for future collaborations. Faculty, staff, students, and trainees are invited to present abstracts and to participate in panels and workshops. Discussion topics include teaching methods, new education programs and curricula, learner assessment and program evaluation, promoting diversity and inclusion, and innovations to boost morale, wellness, and engagement. Submissions will be accepted through Thursday, February 29. Learn more and register at Education Symposium 2024.

The Teaching Scholars Program (TSP) is accepting applications for the 18-month program offered by our school’s Office for Faculty Development.  The TSP allows health professions faculty to develop and use knowledge and skills in curriculum development, health care education scholarship, and educational leadership. Participants attend a Tuesday afternoon seminar series, engage in regular mentoring sessions, and complete a curriculum development or educational research project. The application deadline is Sunday, March 10, with notifications of acceptance by April 15. A full program description, eligibility information, and application instructions are available at Teaching Scholars Program. Questions, contact:

Community Event
Our school’s Office of Research Education will present Ask a Scientist at the Tattered Cover Book Store, 2526 E. Colfax Ave., Denver, at 6 p.m. Tuesday, February 13. The panel is part of an ongoing series of science talks at the bookstore. Jeffrey K. Moore, PhD, associate professor of cell and developmental biology and director of the Graduate Program in Cell Biology, Stem Cells and Development will lead the panel. This event was originally scheduled for January 16, but was canceled due to extreme cold.

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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