Dean's Weekly Message

April 2, 2018


Dear colleague: 


The University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus hosted its annual Benefactor Recognition Dinner last Thursday, this year honoring CancerCure, Don and Sue Fisher and the Fisher Family, and Edward and Karen Skaff. In addition to recognizing these benefactors, it was notable that the university, for the first time, joined forces with UCHealth’s University of Colorado Hospital to host the event. One of the keys to success on our campus is partnership and by working together we are finding ways to improve human health. Research in our laboratories, learning in our classrooms, and expert care in our clinical settings contribute to progress for all. By sharing our gratitude for the generous support we’ve received, we are sending a broader message to the community that investment in a specific program on the Anschutz Medical Campus extends to a compassionate network of care for all. 

The honorees at the dinner have been longtime supporters of the work of our University’s faculty. CancerCure was started by Carolyn Fancher and Midge Wallace, neighbors who each battled breast cancer. Since 1996, the group has raised more than $2 million and over the years, it has funded early-stage faculty research, summer student fellowships and state-of-the-art laboratory equipment. In 2012, CancerCure established a fund to endow a chair in cancer prevention and control. Another neighbor, Nina Ahbe, joined the group to complete the funding and in 2017 Myles Cockburn, PhD, was named the inaugural chair holder.

Don and Sue Fisher and the Fisher family have been steadfast supporters of the Rocky Mountain Alzheimer’s Disease Center. Don’s brother, Bob, received care at the center and the Fisher family has helped fund the research of Huntington Potter, PhD, director of the center. Hunt is leading a clinical trial into a drug that could possibly be used to treat people with Alzheimer’s. Though Bob wasn’t eligible for the trial, the Fisher family has continued to support this work on our campus, establishing the Don F. and Sue Fisher Alzheimer’s Disease Research Fund, in the hope that others will benefit. 

Edward and Karen Skaff were honored for their contributions to the CU Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. As alumni, they give credit to their CU education for rewarding careers and in 2016 they endowed a scholarship fund for students pursuing doctorates in pharmacy. That endowment is the latest of gifts that date back decades. In 1990, their philanthropy helped build the university’s pharmacy building on the former campus at Ninth Avenue and Colorado Boulevard. Ed served on the pharmacy school’s development council and raised funds for the construction of the new building here on the Anschutz Medical Campus. 

The Office of Advancement has posted outstanding video tributes to these benefactors that are well worth your time to watch. The messages of the videos combine hope and pride in the work we do here. As Jonathan Woodcock, MD, clinical director for the Rocky Mountain Alzheimer’s Disease Center, says in the video honoring the Fishers: “I think it will be possible eventually to cure Alzheimer’s disease and probably all of the neurodegenerative diseases. The payoff is going to be in really understanding how the brain itself works and how it changes with aging, but it’s going to require a lot commitment, a lot of bright people, and a lot of money, and that’s why the additional help from donors like the Fishers is so important.” While we depend on these benefactors for material support they offer, we get even more. Their belief in us inspires our work and gives power to our discoveries. Their confidence gives us hope and pushes us to achieve. We thank them for their support. 

The state legislature is in the thick of its annual budget debate and so far the University is on track to receive significant funding. The CU Government Relations team reported last week that state lawmakers who write the budget included a 10 percent increase in funding for CU, which was as requested last fall by Gov. John Hickenlooper. Notably, lawmakers are providing a commitment of funding for a new building on our campus that will bring together behavioral health programs and will house the Colorado Center for Personalized Medicine. While the budget still has several steps to go through at the Capitol and we have additional work to do to make the new building a reality, we are fortunate to have strong legislative support for programs that are key to our future success on the Anschutz Medical Campus. 

Our School and our partner teaching hospitals have an extraordinary impact on the Colorado economy, according to a new report released last week by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). According to the study, the AAMC medical schools and teaching hospitals in Colorado contributed 56,056 jobs and $4.31 billion to the state economy in 2017. Nationally, medical schools and teaching hospitals supported more than 6.3 million jobs and added more than $562 billion in value to the nation’s economy in 2017. Together, the institutions account for 3.3 percent of the U.S. workforce and 3 percent of the gross domestic product. The study, conducted by RTI International on behalf of the AAMC, examined the economic impact of medical schools and teaching hospitals represented by the AAMC in 46 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. 

The Fitzsimons Redevelopment Authority is hosting a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday, April 3, to celebrate the construction of Bioscience 3, a $55 million, three-story, 115,000-square-foot building that is scheduled to open in 2019. In an article in the Denver Business Journal last week, Steve VanNurden, president and CEO of the Fitzsimons Redevelopment Authority, said the FRA is also working with Denver-based developer AIMCO to bring 240 more apartments to the 600-unit “Fitzsimons 21” building already there. “What we’re really trying to do is build a community,” Steve said. “We’re not going to build out the campus just to build it out. We want to be strategic about it. It’s more strategic growth.” CU President Bruce Benson, Chancellor Don Elliman, and members of the Colorado Congressional delegation are expected to attend the event. 

Congratulations to Omid Jazaeri, MD, associate professor of surgery and radiology, who has been named recipient of the 2018 E.J. Wylie Traveling Fellowship by the Research and Education Committee of the Society for Vascular Surgery Foundation. Omid, who also holds an appointment in bioengineering, was awarded the grant for his interests and research on 4D MRI technologies in pathologies of the aorta and peripheral vasculature. The primary purpose of the E.J. Wylie Traveling Fellowship is to provide the recipient with the opportunity to visit excellent vascular surgery centers worldwide to stimulate academic inspiration, promote international exchange, and foster development of fellowship in vascular surgery. 

Kay Redfield Jamison, PhD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and author of “An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness,” will make a presentation and participate in a discussion on the Anschutz Medical Campus on Friday, April 13, as part of the Distinguished Levitt Speaker Series. “An Unquiet Mind” is a first-hand account of bipolar illness and it was the featured title in our One Book One Campus initiative last year. Her visit is sponsored by the Department of Family Medicine and the Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education. A reception will begin at 3:30 p.m. in Education 2 South room 1102, with the presentation and discussion scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. An RSVP if you plan to attend is requested. 

The current student members of the University of Colorado School of Medicine’s chapter of Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA), the national medical honor society, met recently to elect members of the junior medical school class.  After evaluating academic performance, community service, scholarship, and leadership for each eligible applicant, the students selected 6 individuals for AOA membership.  The names of junior and senior members are posted on the AOA website. At the same meeting, the AOA students elected faculty and house officer members.  The faculty members elected are Michael Overbeck, MD, assistant professor of emergency medicine, Matthew Rustici, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics, and Deborah Seymour, PsyD, associate professor of family medicine. The house officers elected are Matt Belton, MD, (Orthopedic Surgery), Jennifer McKinney, MD, (Obstetrics/Gynecology), and Colin Price, MD, (General Surgery, St. Joseph Hospital).  All members will be welcomed into AOA formally during the induction ceremony on May 8, for which the students selected keynote speaker Shanta Zimmer, MD, senior associate dean for education and associate dean for diversity and inclusion.  Congratulations to all. Questions can be addressed to the AOA Councilor, James M. Beck, MD, professor of medicine,

The Academy of Medical Educators is accepting nominations for its annual Education Awards. All faculty, including volunteer faculty, in the School of Medicine, including the Physical Therapy and Child Health Associate/Physician Assistant programs, are eligible for these awards. The categories include Excellence in Direct Teaching, Excellence in Curriculum Development or Educational Innovation, Excellence in Educational Administration or Leadership, Excellence in Research or Scholarship in Education, and Excellence in Mentoring and Advising. You can find more information and the nomination form on the Academy’s Education Awards webpage. The deadline to submit nominations is Friday, May 4. 

The Colorado Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CCTSI) is accepting applications for its Team Oriented Training across the Translational Sciences Spectrum through its TL1 program, which provides financial and programmatic support to pre- and post-doctoral trainees to develop skills for team-oriented clinical and translational research. Details about the program and how to apply are available on the CCTSI’s website. Applications are due Friday, May 4. 

The School of Medicine’s Office of Medical Education hosted the Association of American Medical Colleges’ 2018 Western Group on Education Affairs in downtown Denver, March 24-27.  The meeting focused on discussing innovation in educating future physicians. Three hundred fifteen people attended the meeting, representing 25 medical schools across the western United States, with 25 CU School of Medicine faculty, 14 students, and four staff members participating. Christine Waasdorp Hurtado,  MD, associate professor of pediatrics, Erik Wallace, MD, associate professor of medicine and associate dean of the Colorado Springs Branch of the School of Medicine, and Chad Stickrath, MD, associate professor of medicine, won the award for best Oral Presentation in Innovation for their presentation titled “Peer Teaching in the Core Clinical Year.” Thanks to Michele Doucette, PhD, assistant professor of family medicine and Medical Student Education Specialist, for serving as the meeting planner and chair, to Caitlin Zoghby for coordinating the meeting, and to the planning committee Janet Corral, PhD, Helen Macfarlane, MA, Brooke Parsons, MPA, and Daisy Talavera, MPA.


The School of Medicine’s Office of Education is currently seeking candidates for three positions:

1.      Disease and Defense Basic Science Block Director, which is a 0.25FTE position.  Click here to review the job description, and interested applicants can e-mail letter of interest and CV to Carolina Jensen ( Applications are due by Friday, April 20.

2.      Mentored Scholarly Activity - Basic Science Associate Director, which is a 0.20 FTE position.  Click here to review the job description, and interested applicants can e-mail letter of interest and CV to Caitlin Zoghby ( Applications are due by Wednesday, April 18.

3.      Mentored Scholarly Activity - Clinical Science Associate Director, which is a 0.20 FTE position. Click here to review the job description, and interested applicants can e-mail letter of interest and CV to Caitlin Zoghby ( Applications are due by Wednesday, April 18.

Candidates must have a CU School of Medicine faculty appointment to be eligible for the positions listed above (additional minimum requirements for each position are listed in the job description). 


We offer our condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Theodore Eickhoff, MD, professor emeritus of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases, who died on March 24. He was 86 years old. Ted was one of the founding fathers of the now critically important discipline of infection prevention and control. He began his career at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and was actively involved in the global campaign to eradicate smallpox. He was a life-long champion of adult immunizations. Ted joined the Department of Medicine in 1967, and 6 months later was appointed head of the new Division of Infectious Diseases. Ten years later, he was appointed Chief of Medicine at Denver General Hospital, now Denver Health Medical Center. He later returned to the health sciences campus and served as medical director of infection prevention and control at the University of Colorado Hospital from 1991-2002. He was awarded emeritus status in 2003. Funeral services will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday, April 15, at Saint Peter Lutheran Church, 9300 East Belleview Ave., Greenwood Village. 



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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