Dean's Weekly Message

April 9, 2018


Dear colleague: 


About 150 prospective medical students and their guests came to campus last Friday for “Second Look Day.” These visits are critical to our recruitment efforts because about 65 percent of the students we accept have multiple offers to consider. Through your dedication and innovative work, we have an impressive opportunity to offer medical students who want to join our thriving academic medical community. This week’s message offers a snapshot of the cutting-edge research, the impressive community-service programs, and the leadership of members of our School. Thanks to all for your work. Together, we make CU School of Medicine a place that offers a superior experience and professional model to these aspiring physicians. I would also particularly thank the Office of Student Life and everyone who spent time with our guests last week. 

University leaders, lawmakers and community members gathered last Tuesday to celebrate beginning the construction of Bioscience 3, a $55 million, 115,000-square-foot building in the Fitzsimons Innovation Community, the 125-acre parcel north of Anschutz Medical Campus along Montview Boulevard. “Today marks a major milestone for us,” CU President Bruce Benson said. “We’ve worked many years to get to this point.” Many years indeed. For about 20 years, officials from the Fitzsimons Redevelopment Authority have been negotiating with the U.S. Army to complete the acquisition of the property, which is slated to serve as hub of bioscience industry. Steve VanNurden, president and CEO of the Fitzsimons Redevelopment Authority, said plans are already underway for Bioscience 4, 5 and 6. Joining us in the celebration were U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman and Danielle Radovich Piper, chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter. Each lawmaker played a role in prodding the Army through the negotiations. 

Dennis Roop, PhD, professor of dermatology and director of the Gates Center for Regenerative Medicine, was notified last week by the U.S. Department of Defense that his application for a grant to support the Epidermolysis Bullosa iPS Cell Consortium, composed of teams from CU, Stanford and Columbia universities, was recommended for funding. The $3.8 million grant was described by one reviewer as being “based on the strongest cutting-edge scientific rationale in the field of wound care and dermatology.” The reviewers also noted that it is a national collaborative effort among to physician-scientists, scientists, health care providers, patients, families and charities. Epidermolysis Bullosa is a group of inherited skin diseases that result in severe blistering and scarring. Earlier this year, the team at the Gates Center described in the journal Nature Communications a more efficient way to reprogram a patient’s diseased skin cells into stem cells. This grant would make it possible to move production for the consortium into the Gates Biomanufacturing Facility, where they will work to produce induced pluripotent stem cell therapies that meet good manufacturing process standards. 

ResponderStrong, an initiative supported by the National Mental Health Innovation Center, issued a report last month that found emergency responders in Colorado are not getting the mental health support they need. Alarming data point to a critical need for better care. Between 2004 and 2014, police officers committed suicide at a rate that is three times higher than police deaths in the line of duty, while firefighters committed suicide at a rate that is 50 percent higher than firefighter deaths in the line of duty. According to a first-of-its-kind survey of emergency responders in Colorado, ResponderStrong reported that funding to support mental health needs is inadequate and that emergency responders are reluctant to ask for help because they might be considered weak. Rhonda Kelly, who spent 17 years as a firefighter and paramedic in Aurora and who now serves as project manager for ResponderStrong, last week told Colorado Public Radio, “Our culture needs to change.” Promoting the discussion is just a start. The report offers potential solutions to explore, including peer support programs, telehealth and other options. In the meantime, ResponderStrong has created an emergency responder crisis text line that offers free, confidential service. 

The School of Medicine Colorado Springs Branch hosted a reception on Monday, April 2, to recognize faculty who have supported the education of students at our branch. At the event, there were 11 faculty teaching awards given to providers throughout the community. We were joined by Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers and members of the El Paso County Medical Society, which also gave its physician awards at the event. The evening included a poster session and reception featuring current third-year medical students who conducted quality improvement and community leadership projects, followed by faculty and student project awards. Dennis Boyle, MD, professor of medicine and assistant dean of the Office of Community Based Medical Education, made a presentation on physician wellness. 

Congratulations to Cari Levy, MD, PhD, professor of medicine in the Division of Health Care Research and Policy and an associate director of the VA’s Seattle-Denver Center of Innovation, who has been selected president of AMDA – the Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine, which has 5,500 members who are medical directors, physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and other practitioners working in post-acute and long-term care settings. The American Medical Directors Association (AMDA) was chartered in 1977 and updated its name in 2014. In a video introducing her as the society’s president, Cari describes herself as a geriatrician first and a palliative care physician. “This is an interdisciplinary sub-specialty, and we should be training that way, we should be educating that way, we should be in the community that way. My sincere hope is that this is a big tent that we’re all under, and we are working for the same mission: creating competent clinicians that work in this space and offering quality care for those in [post-acute and long-term care].” 

Congratulations to Brandi Freeman, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics, on her selection as one of the winners of the 40 Under 40 Leaders in Health Awards from the National Minority Quality Forum. Brandi is an attending physician at the Child Health Clinic of Children’s Hospital Colorado and the faculty liaison for diversity in pediatric resident education and recruitment. She receives the award at the forum’s gala dinner on Tuesday, April 17, at the Ritz-Carlton in Washington D.C. 

Colorado Cancer Blogs, which is run by the CU Cancer Center, was named one of the best blogs in the state by Feedspot, a content reader of blogs and news sites. According to Feedspot, it culled the top 25 Colorado blogsfrom thousands in its index. Those selected for the list were honored “for actively working to educate, inspire, and empower their readers with frequent updates and high-quality information.” Congratulations to the team at the Cancer Center for creating, compiling and curating an important source of news about the outstanding work of the team on the Anschutz Medical Campus. 

We offer our condolences to the friends, family and colleagues of Jack Humphrey, DO, associate professor of anesthesiology, whose death was announced last week by Connie Savor Price, MD, chief medical officer of Denver Health. Jack was a police narcotics detective in Boulder before becoming a physician and joining Denver Health in 2002 after completing his residency training at CU. Connie noted his sense of humor and diligence, writing in tribute: “He was an adored educator and was awarded Outstanding Teacher of the Year from the program. He was always a strong advocate for the residents and served on numerous committees related to training and education.” A memorial service is scheduled for 4 p.m. Tuesday, April 10, in the Rita Bass Auditorium, 190 W. 6th Ave., Denver. 


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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