Dean's Weekly Message

July 23, 2018


Dear colleague: 



University of Colorado President Bruce Benson announced that he will retire effective July 2019, after serving more than 10 years, the longest tenure of any CU President in the past 65 years. Bruce’s leadership during the past decade has been strong and effective and he has offered practical problem-solving and steady guidance through a disruptive time for higher education. During his tenure, CU has awarded degrees to some 135,000 students at all its campuses, increased total research funding from $660 million annually to $1.03 billion annually and nearly doubled the size of the University’s endowment to $1.2 billion. His announcement will give the CU Board of Regents time to identify and hire a successor. In his announcement, Bruce said: “CU is among the top universities in the world and has a bright future. The university advances the economy, health and culture of our state every day, and I’m proud of the work we’ve done to ensure it is one of Colorado’s most important public assets.” The University has been well served by Bruce and we hope that his final year at the helm will be the best ever. 

Congratulations to Cristin Welle, PhD, assistant professor in neurosurgery and bioengineering, on receiving a $2 million grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to pilot the use of peripheral neuromodulation to accelerate motor learning. The grant, which will be received over four years, comes from the DARPA Biological Technologies Office through the Targeted Neuroplasticity Training program, led by Tristan McClure-Begley, PhD, who had been on the CU Boulder faculty prior to joining DARPA in October 2017. The goals of this project are to understand the effects of precisely timed stimulation of the vagus nerve during motor learning on motor performance, and to utilize optogenetics, electrophysiology and in vivo two-photon imaging to investigate the mechanisms that underlie this effect. This work could lead to translational opportunities using invasive or non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation to improve rehabilitation from stroke or to drive enhancements in the learning and performance of skilled tasks. 

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs cut the ribbon on its Rocky Mountain Regional Veterans Affairs Medical Center on Saturday, July 21, with fanfare and comments from the acting VA Secretary Peter O’Rourke, veterans groups, and elected officials. The project will offer improved care for veterans and enhanced opportunities for collaboration between our faculty researchers and clinicians. We welcome them as partners with the CU Anschutz Medical Campus and look forward to a productive relationship serving those who have served our nation. 

The Courage Classic fundraiser for Children’s Hospital Colorado raised more than $2.6 million last weekend with more than 2,000 riders powering through routes starting and ending at Copper Mountain. The Anschutz Campus was well represented with riders representing various programs from all of the campus partners. A special thanks to Jonathan Radin, MBA, director of clinical strategy and program development for the Department of Surgery, for organizing the CU Medicine team that participated this year. For a vivid reminder of why we ride the Courage Classic and why we study, care, and research so passionately on the Anschutz Medical Campus, read these patient stories posted on the Children’s Hospital Colorado Foundation website. 

Last Friday, Diana Lautenberger, who directs constituent engagement activities related to diversity and inclusion and women in medicine and science for the Association of American Medical Colleges, presented on the Anschutz Medical Campus. Her talk, “Unconscious Bias and Busting Myths about Women in the Workplace,” covered an important and timely issue at medical schools and other academic settings across the country. In June, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine released a report, “Sexual Harassment of Women: Climate, Culture, and Consequences in Academic Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine,” that addresses this widespread problem. We are fortunate to have Diana come to our campus. She was a panelist who presented to the committee working on the National Academies report. 

The CU Medical Alumni Association is hosting a reception and performance of “Sleeping Beauty” by the Colorado Ballet at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House, Denver Performing Arts Complex, on Friday, October 12. Registration with early-bird pricing is available through Wednesday, August 1. Tickets for early bird pricing are between $55 and $115. 

Registration for the University of Colorado Physical Therapy Program’s Opioid Educational Day is now open. The daylong event, “Pain & Healthcare in Society: Changing Attitudes, Behaviors and Health Systems to Address the Opioid Crisis,” will be on Monday, September 17. Details and a link for registration are available online. A discounted rate for registration is available through Wednesday, August 1. 

Condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Bruce Wallace, PhD, professor emeritus of physiology and biophysics, who died July 13. Bruce was on the School of Medicine faculty from July 1990 until he retired in April 2012. Bruce made major contributions in science and in teaching. He was a co-discoverer of agrin, an important molecule involved in the formation of synapses in skeletal muscle. He was a co-author of the third and fourth editions of a popular neuroscience textbook, “From Neuron to Brain.” He was instrumental in a major reorganization of the medical school’s curriculum, which debuted in 2004, and he served as the first assistant dean of the essentials core for several years. A memorial service is planned for 11 a.m. Saturday, July 28, at Cherry Creek Presbyterian Church, 10150 E. Belleview Ave., Englewood. 


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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