Dean's Weekly Message

Dec. 17, 2018


Dear colleague: 

I am pleased to announce that Leslie J. Berg, PhD, has accepted our offer to become the new chair of the Department of Immunology and Microbiology. She will join the School of Medicine effective Feb. 1, 2019. Leslie is currently professor of pathology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, Mass., and a past president of the American Association of Immunologists. She brings substantial teaching, research, and administrative experience and we are fortunate to have her joining the outstanding faculty in the department. Leslie succeeds John Cambier, PhD, who has continued to serve as chair while the search was conducted. I would like to thank the search committee, led by Lori Sussel, PhD, professor of pediatrics and director of basic and translational research at the Barbara Davis Center, for the considerable time and energy devoted to reviewing applicants and providing recommendations. 

The University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus held its fall commencement ceremony on Saturday, December 15, at the Colorado Convention Center, where classes from the School of Medicine’s Physical Therapy and Anesthesiology Assistant programs received their degrees. The College of Nursing and the Graduate School also graduated students at the event. One of the high points of Saturday’s ceremony was the posthumous honor given to Richard Traystman, PhD, former vice chancellor of research of CU Anschutz Medical Campus and Distinguished Professor of the University. According to the citation read at the ceremony: “Dr. Traystman has left a rich legacy that the university will treasure. For work that helped change the way medicine is practiced around the world, for his accomplished stewardship of shared resources, for his valuable mentorship as a scientist and administrator, the University of Colorado awards Richard J. Traystman the Honorary Doctor of Science degree.” 

U.S. Rep.-elect Jason Crow visited the Anschutz Medical Campus on Monday, December 10, for a tour that included the Center for Advancing Professional Excellence, which is our patient-simulation space for educational programs, and meetings with faculty and staff at CellSight and the Marcus Institute for Brain Health. Our education, research, and clinical care provide significant community benefits and we were proud to show them to Rep.-elect Crow, who will be representing the district that includes our campus. We are fortunate that Rep.-elect Crow made time to come to the Anschutz Medical Campus during the extremely busy transition period before he takes office next month. 

National Geographic last week published an article about Vic Spitzer, PhD, professor of cell and developmental biology, and the Visible Human Project that is a thorough catalogue of Vic’s effort to create a “21st-century version of Gray’s Anatomy.” The article was more than 15 years in the making, with the donor Susan Potter, granting interviews in which she explained her reason for offering her body as a donation for the project. Susan died in February 2015 at the age of 87. As Vic explained to Susan, her body would be frozen and eventually milled into paper-thin sections that would be turned into computerized images. Vic and Susan made an extraordinary connection that is described in this remarkable report. ABC News also posted an interviewwith Vic and editor-in-chief National Geographic Susan Goldberg that is worth watching. “For her to talk to you about her body and how she felt — her disabilities, which bothered her a lot — that’s a different dynamic,” Vic said. “That’s not learning about her anatomy and physiology, it’s learning about her humanity.” 

On Friday, December 7, the University of Colorado Cancer Center hosted a delegation of state lawmakers, including Lt. Gov.-elect Dianne Primavera, a four-time breast cancer survivor, for a luncheon and presentation on the outstanding work by the team at the CU Cancer Center. The panel included Karyn Goodman, MD, Eduardo Davila, PhD, Terry Fry, MD, Dan Pollyea, MD, and Virginia Borges, MD, who all described impressive breakthroughs in research and efforts to reach across the state to provide the highest-quality care to those who need it. A video of the presentation is posted on the CU Cancer Center website. 

The Allen Institute in Seattle announced last Wednesday that it was creating the Allen Institute for Immunology that will initially provide funding for projects at five research organizations, including the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. Kevin Deane, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine, and V. Michael Holers, MD, professor of medicine and head of the Division of Rheumatology, are teaming with researchers at the University of California San Diego to identify how rheumatoid arthritis develops. The Institute posted a video that features Kevin and Michael and the others explaining work that is being supported by the Allen Institute with a commitment of $125 million by the late Paul G. Allen. 

Congratulations to three of the School’s second-year medical students, Simon Feseha, Stephanie Nwagwu, and Marcus Marable, who have been notified that they have been selected as recipients of the 2019 President’s Diversity Award from the University of Colorado System. Simon, Stephanie, and Marcus are being recognized for their work in developing a curricular intervention called “What Happened and Why?” for first-year medical students. The project was designed to assist our students in recognizing acts of bias and discrimination and to develop strategies and provide resources for addressing such acts. The work by Simon, Stephanie, and Marcus offers an important and previously missing component to the education of our students and provides a model for the rest of the University. They will receive the award at a ceremony next spring. 

Susan Apkon, MD, has been named vice chair of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and will serve as chief of pediatric rehabilitation medicine at Children’s Hospital Colorado, effective in January. Susan has been on the faculty of University of Washington since 2009. After graduating from Vermont College of Medicine in 1994, she completed a combined residency in pediatrics and physical medicine and rehabilitation at Children’s Hospital Colorado and the CU School of Medicine and then began her academic career here. Susan is a clinical researcher with a focus on care of children with neuromuscular conditions. We welcome her back to Colorado.

The Colorado Area Health Education Center program is seeking Anschutz Medical Campus volunteers to staff a booth at the National Western Stock Show in January. Each year, volunteers from our campus provide free health screenings for adults and children attending the stock show. Students and clinical and non-clinical faculty are welcomed as volunteers. The screenings include blood pressure, blood glucose, vision, balance, and oral health. This National Western Stock Show draws more than 700,000 attendees and it is a major opportunity for our School to show how we support our entire state. Volunteers sign up for four-hour shifts. For more information, contact Cindy Armstrong at 303-724-8927 or

The Dean’s message will return on Monday, January 7. Thanks to everyone who made 2018 such a momentous year on the Anschutz Medical Campus. I wish all members of our campus community and particularly everyone with the School of Medicine a happy and safe holiday season and a productive 2019. 


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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