Dean's Weekly Message

June 4, 2018


Dear colleague: 


The School of Medicine’s MD Class of 2018 graduated on Friday, May 25, under bright sunshine with a keynote address by Kjell Lindgren, MD ’02, who is also known as “coolest doctor to ever graduate from CU,” according to Katherine Lind, MD ’18, the co-president of the graduating class who introduced him. Kjell, a NASA astronaut who spent 141 days aboard the International Space Station in 2015, described the convocation ceremony as one of the peaks in students’ lives that will have multiple peaks and valleys. “Peaks are the challenges you choose and the valleys are the challenges that choose you,” he said. “Enjoy the view. You have many more challenges ahead.” He told the graduates that they already have tools that will be key to their success – the “white coat of competence,” the “phone of humility” (for use in calling others to ask for help), and the “pocket of kindness” (sewn on scrubs or white coats right above the heart) – and that each tool carries with it responsibility and opportunity. Richard Froude, MD ’18, eloquently tallied their shared experiences as classmates – from their first days at the YMCA camp in the Rocky Mountains to anatomy class, from seemingly endless studying sessions through rounds in clinics. “We’ll always have this in common. We did these things here and we did these things together.” 

The Doctor of Medicine is a terminal degree and it is a major life accomplishment, but earning it represents a beginning rather than an ending. Keeping pace with the advances that will occur in medicine and healthcare will require diligence and a commitment to lifelong learning.  The degree is terminal, but earning it does not represent the end of your life as a student. Similarly, the completion of the learning program at CU is just the beginning of a lifelong mutual attachment with the University. As former CU President George Norlin stated in his address to graduates in 1935: “Commencement does not mean, as many wrongly think, the breaking of ties and the beginning of a life apart. Rather it marks your initiation in the fullest sense into the fellowship of the University, as bearers of her torch, as centers of her influence, as promoters of her spirit.” We are proud of our graduates’ accomplishments so far and we look forward to the results of their enduring commitment to helping others. 

On Thursday, May 24, the School of Medicine held the convocation ceremony for 44 graduates from the Child Health Associate/Physician Assistant program. Jonathan Bowser, MS, PA-C, director of the program, offered a personal example of how PAs provide excellent medical care, explaining how a recent tumble while running led to seven stitches above his right eye. For a lucky seven students in the PA Class of 2020, it was a bonus opportunity to snip stitches from their program director during the American Academy of Physician Assistants’ annual meeting in New Orleans. While Jonathan expressed regrets to the Class of 2018 that he hadn’t offered himself as a patient under their care, he said he was confident that they also were more than prepared for the dynamic health care settings where they will work. Congratulations to the graduates, family and friends, and the PA program’s first Teaching Award recipient, cardiologist J. Kern Buckner, MD. 

In addition to celebrating graduations, the School of Medicine also held alumni events beginning May 23 and running through the Memorial Day weekend. There were special events for all alumni and, in particular, the Class of 1968 celebrating its 50th reunion. We were fortunate to so many members of the Class of 1968 joining us during the festivities. There were also awards bestowed on four distinguished alumni:


  • George A. Lopez, MD ’73, Distinguished Achievement Award
  • Wagner Schorr, MD ’63, Distinguished Service Award
  • Linda L. Williams, MD ’84, a Denver-area psychiatrist, the Silver and Gold Award
  • M. Robert Yakely, MD, who completed his residency at CU after graduating with a medical degree from The Ohio State University in 1966, Alumni Association Humanitarian Award 


The School’s Academy of Medical Educators has announced the seven recipients of its annual awards for medical education. These awardees are nominated by students, residents, fellows, faculty and peers in a range of categories, from direct teaching to educational administration and curriculum development or educational innovation. Congratulations to all. 

The American Society for Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery (ASSFN)’s biennial meeting began Saturday, June 2, and runs through Tuesday, June 5. This meeting is being held in Denver and several of our faculty members are filling key leadership roles in hosting the event. Aviva Abosch, MD, PhD, professor of neurosurgery and past president of ASSFN, is the meeting chair; Steven Ojemann, MD, associate professor of neurosurgery, is serving as the local meeting host; Cristin Welle, PhD, assistant professor of neurosurgery and biomedical engineering, is on the scientific program committee; and John Thompson, PhD, assistant professor of neurosurgery, is a member of the abstract selection committee. This high-profile meeting is expected to bring more than 500 attendees to Denver, representing a multi-disciplinary international community of professionals involved in the scientific research, therapeutic advances, and diagnosis of patients with nervous system and neuropsychiatric disorders. For this year’s meeting, there were over 250 abstracts submitted, with meeting attendees traveling from 18 countries to participate. Notably, updates will be presented on the National Institutes of Health’s BRAIN and SPARC Initiatives, and on brain-relevant Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency initiatives, by national program officials and by key investigators involved in this work. 

Three members of the School of Medicine faculty were inducted on Sunday, May 20, as Fellows of the American College of Radiology (ACR): Laura Fenton, MD, professor of radiology, Karyn Goodman, MD, professor of radiation oncology, and David Ingram, MD, associate professor of radiology. Fellowship is one of the highest honors bestowed by the American College of Radiology and it recognizes members for a history of service to the ACR, organized radiology, teaching and research. Only 10 percent of the membership of the ACR receive the honor. Congratulations. 

Colton Sauer, member of the MD Class of 2020 in the Research Track, was awarded the Kevin Granata Young Investigator Award for Best Student Presentation at the Gait & Clinical Movement Analysis Society’s annual meeting in Indianapolis from May 22 to May 25. Colton’s presentation was titled “Comparison of Rotational and Clinical Outcomes in Femoral Derotation Osteotomies between Blade Plate and Intramedullary Nail Fixation” and his mentors are James J. Carollo, PhD, associate professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation, and Jason Rhodes, MD, associate professor of orthopedics. Colton wasn’t able to receive the award in person, though, because as a good third-year medical student, he had already returned to Colorado for a clinical rotation. Congratulations Colton. 

Congratulations to Janine Young, MD, associate professor of pediatrics who practices at Denver Health’s Lowry Family Health Center, on receiving the 10th Annual Pro Bono Service Award at the 13th annual Immigrant Liberty Awards in early May. The Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network organizes the event to recognize outstanding contributions of immigrants and exceptional advocates. Betsy Ruckard, refugee services coordinator for the Denver Health Refugee Clinic at Lowry Family Health Center, said of Janine: “She has a commitment to patients that is overwhelming and a work ethic that is remarkable. I could list story after story outlining her late hours, phone calls to experts, coordination of care and her relentless pursuit of excellence for case after case.” Janine is an excellent example of the compassionate care we strive to provide and we are fortunate to have her on our faculty. 

The Human Touch launch celebration will be 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 12, at the Fulginiti Pavilion for Bioethics and Humanities. The Human Touch is a compilation of poetry, prose and visual art created and contributed by students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends of the Anschutz Medical Campus. This year’s edition is the 11th annual anthology and copies are available for free at the AMC Bookstore in Education 2 South and the Fulginiti Pavilion. 

The CU Medicine Today magazine has been published. This issue includes a profile of Jeffrey Kieft, PhD, professor of biochemistry and molecular genetics, a feature on “game-changing” research by Joaquín Espinosa, PhD, director of the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome, and an article about Tell Me More, a Gold Humanism program that encourages compassionate care. 


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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