Dean's Weekly Message

Feb. 5, 2018


Dear colleague: 


The School’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the Office of Graduate Medical Education and Denver Health last Thursday sponsored a reception for residency applicants from diverse backgrounds who returned to Colorado this week for a second look at our training programs. One hundred fifteen guests, including program directors, department chairs, faculty, and current residents welcomed the returning applicants at a reception at the Hyatt Regency Aurora-Denver Conference Center. Among the speakers was Elbra Wedgeworth, chief government and community relations officer for Denver Health, who has been a valuable partner in this event since its inception seven years ago. Featured faculty represented our academic community and partners including the National Association of Health Service Executives, UCOLORES, and the Mile High Medical Society. After their evening reception, applicants joined their specialty programs of choice for individualized schedules on Friday, giving diverse applicants a chance to revisit and hopefully solidify their interest in training in our programs. Thanks to these departments, divisions and programs for participating: Emergency Medicine, Pediatrics, Internal Medicine, General Surgery, Ophthalmology, Medical Genetics, Med-Peds, Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 

The leadership of Children’s Hospital Colorado last Thursday hosted a 110th anniversary celebration at the Cherry Hills Country Club with special thanks to Bea Taplin, lifetime director of the hospital, for sponsoring the event. Children’s Hospital Colorado is a valued partner on the Anschutz Medical Campus and has been a shining light for compassionate care in our community for more than a century. Together, the hospital and the CU School of Medicine continue to make life-changing differences for our patients and we are recruiting the best talent to our campus to keep making progress for the generations to come. Congratulations to the leadership team, faculty, and staff who make Children’s Hospital Colorado such an asset for our community. 

Congratulations to Alberto Peña, MD, professor of surgery, who has been selected to receive the 2018 American Pediatric Surgical Association (APSA) Robert E. Gross Award for Excellence in Pediatric Research and Achievement. The award recognizes Alberto as an individual who has made a major impact on pediatric surgery and whose contributions have resulted in a major change in how pediatric surgeons manage a particular problem, with results that have been demonstrated as durable over time and widely accepted by pediatric surgeons as “standard practice.” Alberto will receive the award in May at the APSA meeting in Palm Desert, Calif. Alberto has also been named the 2018 recipient of the Sir Denis Browne Medal from the British Association of Paediatric Surgeons, to be awarded at its annual meeting in Liverpool, England, in July. The Denis Browne award is made annually to mark an individual’s outstanding contributions to pediatric surgery worldwide. 

Jay Lemery, MD, associate professor of emergency medicine, is the featured guest on the most recent CU On the Air Podcast, which is hosted by Ken McConnellogue, CU vice president for communications. Jay discusses climate change and its impact on human health – ranging from how bugs carrying harmful infections are migrating to places where populations haven’t established immunity to how sustained higher temperatures are harming vulnerable populations. “This is a health issue, it’s getting worse, we have the ability to change it, and therefore we should think about how to do that,” Jay said. “We’re trying to make that link.” Jay has been a leader in raising awareness of these issues in many ways. He’s the co-author of Enviromedics: The Impact of Climate Change on Human Health and teaches an online course, Foundations for Global Health Responders.  

Our former colleague, Richard Traystman, PhD, vice chancellor for research, was honored at the 2018 Denver Heart Ball on Saturday, January 27. Dick was a volunteer with the American Heart Association (AHA) throughout his career and he had received a $2.5 million grant from the AHA to support his research. The association honored his memory by recalling his personal support for its initiatives and calling for the assembled to carry on his legacy by “doing more and doing better for heart disease and stroke research.” Also recognized at the event was Peter Buttrick, MD, senior associate dean for education and professor of medicine, who was honored for his service as president of the board of the AHA’s Denver Chapter. 

A couple of recent news reports have featured ways our faculty are improving health care delivery in our community and are sharing their expertise with colleagues in the medical profession. 

First, the Denver Post had an article about the results of the Colorado Opioid Safety Pilot, conducted by the Colorado Hospital Association. That study found that Colorado hospitals were able to reduce the amount of opioids used for care by focusing on alternative pain treatments. For the eight hospitals and two freestanding emergency rooms participating, the pilot project set a goal of reducing opioid administration in emergency departments by 15 percent. Each facility reduced opioid use by at least 30 percent. Heidi Wald, MD, MSPH, associate professor of medicine in the Division of Health Care Policy Research, helped run the study. UCHealth participants included two free-standing emergency departments: Greeley Emergency and Surgical Center and the Harmony Campus in Fort Collins; and three hospitals: Medical Center of the Rockies, Poudre Valley Hospital, and Yampa Valley Medical Center. 

Second, the Department of Family Medicine was featured in an article in The New England Journal of Medicine for its efforts to improve the quality of care at the A.F. Williams Family Medicine Center. The clinic instituted a team-based model that allows the provider to focus on the patient while medical assistants gather data and handle other tasks. After completing those tasks, the assistant gives it to the provider and then stays in the room to document the visit. Corey Lyon, DO, associate professor and medical director of the A.F. Williams Family Medicine Center, explains the benefit: “The greatest advantage now is that the computer no longer stands between me and my patients. This allows for deeper thinking and connection.” 

Allen Staver, general counsel for UCHealth, has announced plans to retire at the end of June 2018 after practicing law for nearly 39 years. Allen joined University Hospital in 1987 and during the 30-plus years since he’s been an important contributor to building and strengthening our partner hospital. He was involved in moving the hospital to the Anschutz Medical Campus and he’s been a leader in the effort to form UCHealth and organize its structure to extend the reach of the health system. Allen has been a trusted and valuable partner and we wish him well on his impending retirement. 

5280 magazine has opened its annual Top Doctors ballot, which is available through Friday, March 16. Each year, the magazine polls Denver-area doctors for the physicians they trust most and then prints the results in its August issue. Typically, about half of the physicians on the list are CU School of Medicine faculty members. Every eligible physician living/practicing in the metro area (Adams, Denver, Arapahoe, Broomfield, Boulder, Jefferson, and Douglas counties) can log in to vote with his or her full first name, last name, physician license number, and a valid email address. The ballot can be found at

The CU Office of Government Relations has announced that the University of Colorado will co-host the 2018 Colorado Capital Conference with U.S. Sens. Cory Gardner and Michael Bennet, Colorado Mesa University and Colorado State University. University of Colorado Colorado Springs Chancellor Venkat Reddy, PhD, will be CU’s host at the conference, June 12-14, in Washington, D.C. The deadline for applications is Wednesday, March 21. For questions, contact Connie Johnson in the CU Office of Government Relations, or 303-831-6192. 

The University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus is seeking nominees for two major awards that are presented at the commencement ceremony on Friday, May 25. The Joseph Addison Sewall Award, named in honor of the first President of the University of Colorado, is given to a current or former member of the faculty or staff of the CU Anschutz Medical Campus who has made exceptional contributions of leadership and vision to the health sciences. A letter of nomination and at least two letters of support must accompany the nomination. The Florence Rena Sabin Award, named after an extraordinary researcher in neuroanatomy who made significant contributions in public health, is given to an alumnus of a CU program in the health sciences or to an individual outside of the institution who has made an exceptional contribution to the institution or to the health of the citizens of the State of Colorado.  A letter of nomination and at least two letters of support must accompany the nomination. Nominations are due by Friday, March 2. For questions, contact Beth Otis in the Office of the Provost at 303-315-2049 or

Children’s Hospital Colorado is hosting a medical conference on Ehlers-Danlos Syndromes on Friday, March 2, in the hospital’s conference and education center. Ehlers-Danlos Syndromes are a group of connective tissue disorders. Experts from programs across the country will discuss diagnosis and treatment of patients with Ehler-Danlos and related conditions. Conference organizer Ellen Roy Elias, MD, professor of pediatrics and medical director of the Special Care Clinic at Children’s Hospital Colorado, asks that colleagues in adult health medical practice, especially those in immunology, cardiology, GI, and pain management, consider attending. Many patients treated here are in their late teens and early 20s and will soon need care from adult specialists. Contact for more information. 

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is soliciting application for four leadership development programs: (1) Clinical Scholars (applications due March 14) is for interdisciplinary teams of two to five active clinicians in community, clinical or academic settings. (2) Culture of Health Leaders (applications due February 21) is for individuals from any field or profession who are highly motivated to explore new solutions and collaborate across sectors to build a Culture of Health. (3) Health Policy Research Scholars (applications due March 14) is for second-year doctoral students from any discipline—from anthropology to political science—who are interested in using their research to advance policies that build health. (4) Interdisciplinary Research Leaders (applications due March 14) is for teams of three people—two researchers and one community partner—who are interested in applying research to build healthier, more equitable communities. 


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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