Dean's Weekly Message

January 8, 2024

Dear colleague: 

State of the School Address 
The annual State of the School address will be on Wednesday, January 10, at 4 p.m. in the Hensel Phelps West Auditorium. This year’s review and outlook will also include the announcement of the awardees of the Anschutz Acceleration Initiative , a $50 million gift from The Anschutz Foundation to support development of health care innovations poised to have direct impact for patients in the next three to five years. We were fortunate to receive 56 outstanding applications and we are confident that the selected projects will make substantial improvements to the lives of our patients and those who care for them. We are also grateful, as always, for the generous support of The Anschutz Foundation, which has been vital to the creation and growth of our vigorous academic campus that sustains so many talented people and improves the quality of so many lives. The campus calendar has details and a livestream link.

Faculty Survey
The School of Medicine is conducting a survey of faculty, residents, and fellows to evaluate our work environment and to develop efforts to improve our professional well-being. Your responses to this survey are necessary so that we can measure the effectiveness of our programs. To ensure candid responses, we are hiring an independent company to conduct the survey; your personally identifiable information will not be shared with the leadership of the school or your local units. To encourage your participation, we are offering incentives. Individuals completing the survey will be entered into a lottery to win Amazon gift cards. Also, departments with the highest response rates will receive $25 per respondent to support departmental efforts for well-being programming. Tomorrow and in the weeks ahead, faculty members who are 0.5 FTE or greater, residents, and fellows should watch their email for a message that links to the survey. Please take 10-15 minutes to fill it out. Your participation will contribute to our efforts to make our school a better place to work.

Faculty Updates 
Lilia Cervantes, MD, MSCS, associate professor of medicine, has been elected to the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI) . Lily is one of only 100 new members elected for 2024. The ASCI is dedicated to the advancement of research that extends understanding and improves the treatment of diseases of all people, and members are committed to mentoring future generations of physician-scientists of diverse backgrounds and biomedical disciplines. Lily’s research is focused on improving outcomes among documented and undocumented Latinos with end-stage renal disease on dialysis. In 2019, her research led to a health policy change that expanded access to quality care and thus a better quality of life for undocumented immigrants with kidney failure.

Allyson Alexander, MD, PhD, assistant professor of neurosurgery, has received a mentored clinical scientist development award from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke of the National Institutes of Health for her project, “Getting Excited about Cortical Malformations: Discovering the Mechanisms Leading to Seizure-prone Neurons in Malformations of Cortical Development.” Allyson studies basic mechanisms of how epilepsy develops using human and mouse models.

Andrew A. Monte, MD, PhD, professor of emergency medicine, is corresponding author of a research letter published in late December by the Annals of Emergency Medicine that compares psychedelic drug use in Colorado and Oregon, which have legalized and decriminalized some such drugs, with other states. As of August 2023, there were 22 states with active legislation on psychedelic medical use. The article is intended to help emergency physicians understand emerging use patterns and risks of the drugs. Co-authors are Richard C. Dart, MD, PhD, professor of emergency medicine, and colleagues at Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Safety, a division of Denver Health.

Stephanie W. Waldrop, MD, instructor of pediatrics, is corresponding author of a comment published January 3 by Nature Medicine that addresses inequities in access to medications for weight loss. Barriers to access for the medications known as glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists include high list prices, variable insurance coverage, and bias in prescribing. Stephanie and her co-authors conclude: “Health is a social good, and thus society has an obligation to provide health services that address the needs of all. GLP-1 agonists are effective treatments for weight management, and although regulatory bodies and medical providers are on the right path, we have a long way to go.”

Christopher J. Stille, MD, MPH, professor of pediatrics, is co-author of an original investigation, “Pediatric Medical Subspecialist Use in Outpatient Settings,” published January 4 by JAMA Network Open. The study used electronic health records and health plan claims data to compare rates of subspecialist use, finding that 8.6% of Medicaid beneficiaries, 10.4% of those with commercial insurance, and 21.3% of those whose primary care is received in academic health systems use pediatric subspecialty care each year.

Lucinda L. Kohn, MD, MHS, assistant professor of dermatology, and Spero M. Manson, PhD, Distinguished Professor of Public Health in the Colorado School of Public Health and of psychiatry, are authors of an editorial published December 27 by JAMA Dermatology that comments on a new study showing that previous studies may have overlooked American Indian/Alaska Native health disparities in melanoma cases.

Lilliam Ambroggio, PhD, associate professor of pediatrics, Christina M. Osborne, MD, instructor of pediatrics, and Brandie D. Wagner, PhD, associate professor of biostatistics and informatics in the Colorado School of Public Health, are co-authors of an article published January 2 in Nature Communications that adds information about antimicrobial resistance in the lung microbiome. The authors performed an observational study of children and adults with acute respiratory failure. Their findings of higher resistance in adults compared to children could have implications for clinical management and public health.

Rachel Cafferty, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics, and Bruno Anthony, PhD, professor of psychiatry, are co-authors of a viewpoint article published December 28 by JAMA that calls for formal training in suicide prevention for frontline emergency clinicians and staff caring for children and adolescents. They propose standardized screening practices and increased engagement with community partners and outpatient mental health services.

Peter E. DeWitt, PhD, assistant research professor of biomedical informatics, and Tellen D. Bennett, MD, professor of biomedical informatics, are corresponding authors of an article published January 2 by Scientific Data that describes the need for inexpensive and computationally lightweight methods for data sharing and hosting data challenges, and a workflow they developed that allows for reproducible model training, testing, and evaluation. Margaret A. Rebull, research services program manager in biomedical informatics, is also a co-author.

David M. Naeger, MD, professor of radiology and director of radiology at Denver Health, has been named 2024 ARRS Distinguished Educator by the American Roentgen Ray Society (ARRS). The award celebrates inspirational people dedicated to providing education that improves competence and performance and leads to improved patient outcomes.

ACCORDS – the Adult & Child Center for Outcomes Research & Delivery Science – has announced funding for three pilot awards from the Ergen Family Chair Pilot Program, which supports investigators pursuing projects focused on enhancing the health and well-being of children. The 2024 awardees and their projects are:

  • Anna Abrams, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics, to evaluate the impact of law enforcement officers when they are present in the emergency room.
  • David Higgins, MD, MPH, fellow in the ACCORDS Primary Care Research Fellowship, for work to better integrate pediatric primary care nurses and medical assistants in vaccine communication training.
  • Monica Perez-Jolles, PhD, associate professor of pediatrics, to create process maps that increase family links to behavioral and safety net services.

Gates Institute has announced recipients of Gates Grubstake Fund grants, which provide support of up to $350,000 for translational research projects. The 2023 awardees and their projects are:

  • Mayumi Fujita, MD, PhD, professor of dermatology, Modified CD4+ T Cells Expressing IL-37.
  • Jordan Jacobelli, PhD, associate professor of immunology and microbiology, Engineered CAR T Cells for Improved Solid Tumor Rejection.
  • Joshua Thurman, MD, professor of medicine, C3d Targeted CAR T Cells for the Treatment of Solid Tumors.
  • Sujatha Venkataraman, PhD, associate professor of pediatrics, Next-Generation CAR T-Cell Therapy for Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma.

Ganna Bilousova, PhD, and Igor Kogut, PhD, associate professors of dermatology, also received $100,000 in a second round of funding for a project initially funded in 2015, Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell Services as a Platform for Clinical Research.

Polina Anikeeva, PhD, professor of materials science and engineering and professor of brain and cognitive sciences at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will deliver the Dean’s Distinguished Seminar lecture at 4 p.m. Tuesday, January 9, in the Hensel Phelps West Auditorium.  She joined MIT faculty in 2011 and her research group focuses on the development of minimally invasive biologically inspired approaches to record and modulate physiology of the nervous system. She has received several awards, including a National Science Foundation CAREER Award, DARPA Young Faculty Award, Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise, and the NIH Pioneer Award. The Dean’s Distinguished Seminar Series brings notable scholars to campus to discuss their work. You can find more information about this and other events on the campus events calendar, where you can also sign up for event notifications.

The Farley Health Policy Center will be offering monthly updates on the Colorado legislative session, beginning on Wednesday, January 24. The meetings will be at 2 p.m. on the last Wednesday of each month through May. To attend the updates, fill out the center’s legislative updates interest form.

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, January 16.  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 the director of the Graduate Program in Cell Biology, Stem Cells and Development will lead the panel.

Call for Submissions
The Human Touch, an anthology of creative work by members of the Anschutz Medical Campus community, is accepting submissions of original prose, poetry, photography, and other creative arts for its 17th edition. Submissions are due by January 28. Details and contact information are available in the call for submissions.

No Message Next Monday
There will be no Dean’s message on Monday, January 15, due to the Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday.

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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