Dean's Weekly Message

April 23, 2018


Dear colleague: 


The Child Health Associate/Physician Assistant (CHA/PA) Program held an open house last Thursday, April 19, to celebrate moving into its state-of-the art space on the seventh floor of Building 500. We were joined by 60 alumni, benefactors and faculty of the program to recognize the program’s history of growth and accomplishment, and to look ahead to its 50th anniversary. Founded in 1968, CHA/PA is consistently ranked one of the best PA programs in the country. Chancellor Don Elliman and I talked about high demand for the program and the impact of its graduates. CHA/PA Director Jonathan Bowser shared his vision for the future, including the program’s adoption of the Colorado Curriculum – an approach based on clinical presentation, rather than traditional courses, giving students hands-on experience with how patients present for care and how clinicians practice medicine. CHA/PA will hold a 50th anniversary celebration event in October 2019. 

Students from the Anschutz Medical Campus and friends and family of body donors gathered Thursday evening to commemorate the donors’ lives. The annual ceremony offers a thoughtful and emotional tribute to for a gift beyond comparison. At this year’s ceremony, students described the donors with gratitude and respect. “When I meet a patient with nerve pain, I will picture your nerves,” said physician assistant student Liliana Hoverstein. “When I perform an abdominal exam, I will visualize your organs and when I listen for lung sounds, I will recall the awe of holding your final breath in my hands. I will be thinking of you and visiting you in every patient that I see.” 

The medical student Class of 2020 celebrated the transition from classroom to clinical training at the Annual Student Clinicians Ceremony (SCC). The SCC is a rite of passage for rising third-year medical students, designed to provide guidance and alleviate anxiety as students embark on the clinical phase of their education. The SCC also highlights the vital role humanism and professionalism play in providing high-quality patient care.  Sarah Williams, a graduating fourth-year medical student, and Cameron McGuire, MD, an internal medicine resident, led this year’s ceremony on behalf of the medical student and resident chapters of the Gold Humanism Honor Society. Steven Lowenstein, MD, MPH, professor of emergency medicine, gave the keynote address. Three second-year medical students, Oliver Bawmann, Sean Schooley and Matthew Spear, were selected by their classmates to receive Professionalism Awards.  Six residents – Matthew Belton, MD, Javier Gonzalez, MD, Laura Leonard, MD, Ajay Major, MD, MBA, Steven Taylor, MD, and Gabrielle Whitmore, MD – received Humanism and Excellence in Teaching Awards, in recognition of their exceptional teaching and compassionate patient care. At the conclusion of the ceremony, Kelsey Repine, MS-3, led her classmates in reciting the Student Clinician’s Oath. 

Children’s Hospital Colorado recently hosted it annual medical staff dinner, where several faculty received staff awards. The award recipients were:

  • Kevin Messacar, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics, received the Century Award, which recognizes a staff member with five or fewer years of training who has made major contributions through committee work, leadership and/or advocacy.
  • The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit’s Central Line-Associated Bloodstream Infection team received the Excellence in Quality Award.
  • Dan Atkins, MD associate professor of pediatrics, Pediatric Allergy and Immunology Section Chief, and co-director of the Gastrointestinal Eosinophilic Diseases Program, Mark Berman,    DDS, MD, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, and Jane Freeman, CPNP-PC in neurosurgery, each received Outstanding Service Awards.
  • John Strain, MD, professor of radiology, received the James E. Strain Award, which is given to a practitioner who exemplifies the ideals of the American Academy of Pediatrics and its advocacy for child health. 

UCHealth announced last week that its Memorial Hospital Central has been designated as a Level I Trauma Center, making it one of only four hospitals in the state with that classification. As a Level I center, the hospital is recognized for its ability to treat severe and complex injuries. Memorial Central houses the state’s busiest emergency department. In 2017, it provided care to more than 2,100 trauma patients who met trauma registry inclusion criteria. 

The American Association for Cancer Research recently approved a special conference, “Bladder Cancer: Transforming the Field,” to be held in Denver next year. Dan Theodorescu, MD, PhD, director of the University of Colorado Cancer Center, proposed the event and initiated its curriculum. He will also serve as chair of the conference. The program will bring international leaders in bladder cancer research and clinical care to Colorado from Saturday, May 18, 2019, to Tuesday, May 21, at the Grand Hyatt Denver. 

Congratulations to Neil Box, PhD, associate professor of dermatology, who received the Daneen & Charles Stiefel Investigative Scientist Award at the spring gala of the American Skin Association on April 10. The award was presented at the Plaza Hotel in New York. Neil was recognized as an emerging leader in the study of melanoma risk. To date, he has published 46 articles and has made important contributions to the understanding of melanoma risk mediated via genetic factors and environmental exposures. 

The Chancellor’s Diversity Showcase is scheduled for 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. today, Monday, April 23, in the Krugman Conference Hall. The event is for all CU Anschutz faculty, staff and students and is intended to present the programs, services and other ways that our campus aims to enhance diversity and foster a culture of inclusion. All are invited. 

A conference addressing concerns about physician burnout is schedules for May 10-11 at the Westin Riverfront Resort and Spa in Avon. The event will offer tools and resources for mitigating burnout and achieving a holistic approach to wellness. For questions or information about attending, contact

A ceremony to honor Dick Traystman, PhD, former vice chancellor for research, was held last Thursday, April 19, in front of Building 500. Since 2009, Dick donated funds out of his own pocket to pay for the maintenance and replacement of the American flag that flies outside of the building. A plaque with his name was dedicated on the flagpole, a fitting tribute to our friend and colleague. 


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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