Dean's Weekly Message

May 21, 2018


Dear colleague: 


I am pleased to announce that C. Neill Epperson, MD, has been named the new chair of the Department of Psychiatry, effective September 1. Neill joins us from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, where she is professor of psychiatry and obstetrics and gynecology. She was recruited to Penn from Yale University School of Medicine in 2009 to launch and serve as director of the Division of Women’s Mental Health at the Penn Center for Women’s Behavioral Wellness. In addition, she is the co-director of Penn PROMOTES Research on Sex and Gender in Health. Neill’s research improving our understanding of hormones and their impact on the brain and behavioral health has been consistently funded for more than 20 years. I am confident that she will add significantly to the already strong program we have in women’s health and I look forward to welcoming her to the Anschutz Medical Campus. 

Neill succeeds Robert Freedman, MD, who joined the CU faculty in 1978, became chair of psychiatry in 2000 and who stepped down as chair in August 2016. I would also like to thank Alison Heru, MD, who has served as interim chair; Frank deGruy, MD, chair of family medicine, who served as the search committee chair; and all the search committee members who reviewed applications, interviewed candidates and recommended finalists. Also thanks to Carolyn Goble, office manager for the Dean’s Office, who masterfully coordinates the scheduling for the search process. Their service to our School through this leadership transition at the Department of Psychiatry is greatly appreciated. 

Steven Berkowitz, MD, who is Neill’s spouse, also will be joining the CU School of Medicine faculty. Steve is a leading expert in treating children affected by trauma and violence. He is director of the Penn Center for Youth and Family Trauma Response and Recovery, the medical director of the Pediatric Integrated Care Program at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and formerly co-chair of the American Association of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Taskforce on School Violence. 

Last Monday, May 14, the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus celebrated its grand opening with a ceremony that included remarks by Congressman Mike Coffman, Chancellor Don Elliman, Clinic Director Gillian Kaag, PhD, and Anthony Hassan, EdD, CEO and president of the Cohen Veterans Network. This clinic, which is one of 25 planned nationally, will offer confidential mental health care to post-9/11 veterans and their family members, regardless of the veteran’s discharge status, role while in uniform, combat experience, ability to pay or coverage by insurance. This clinic is an example of the importance of partnerships in helping to fulfill our mission of serving our community. We have a strong partner in the Cohen Veterans Network and we have a talented team of CU faculty and staff who are providing the care to these deserving veterans who have served our country and their families. 

Congratulations to Jean Kutner, MD, professor of medicine, and the team in the University of Colorado Palliative Care program on the renewal of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant for the Palliative Care Research Cooperative Group. The five-year grant from the NIH’s National Institute of Nursing Research will support the research and resource activities of the PCRC and will aid in conducting studies on end-of-life and palliative care. Jean, who is the principal investigator on the grant, and our University, which is one of three national coordinating centers, have been leaders for many years in this important area of research and care. This grant will further enhance the reputation of the University of Colorado as a national leader in palliative care research. 

Congratulations to Lori Sussel, PhD, professor of pediatrics and director of research for the Barbara Davis Center for Diabetes, on receiving the Donald F. Steiner Award for Outstanding Achievement in Diabetes Research. The award, which was established in 2006 to honor an investigator conducting diabetes research, is named for a pioneering diabetes investigator at the University of Chicago and discoverer of proinsulin. 

Congratulations to Perry Dickinson, MD, professor of family medicine, who this month received the Curtis G. Hames Research Award from the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine. The award recognizes Perry for his dedication to research in family medicine. Perry is director of the Practice Innovation Program and the Colorado Health Extension System. 

Congratulations to Robin Christian, MD ’17, who is now a resident at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, on the publication of an article, “Measuring the Health of an Invisible Population: Lessons from the Colorado Transgender Health Survey,” by the Journal of General Internal Medicine. The article is result of Robin’s Mentored Scholarly Activity while at CU as a medical student and reflects on the high quality of the education we provide and the dedication to community service and clinical care of everyone at our School. Rita Lee, MD, associate professor of medicine and associate director of the Mentored Scholarly Activity program, is a co-author. 

The Medical Student Council recently announced the inaugural recipients of the Student-Funded Leadership Awards: Bijan Ghaffari, Class of 2018; Megan Kalata, Class of 2018; Taylor Lynch, Class of 2018; Billy Kromka, Class of 2018; and Corey Walsh, Class of 2021. The awards provide funding for students to participate in extracurricular programs that develop leadership skills and encourage community engagement and social change. This year’s recipients will participate in the North American Refugee Health Conference; a project related to the racial disparities in neonatal mortality; efforts to advance LGBT equity in health care; and professional training related to health care access in immigrant housing communities. The Medical Student Council established the awards with gifts from students and from other School of Medicine benefactors. Additional details about the program are available from Travis Leiker, director of development, at or 303-724-2754. 

To honor Michael Carry, PhD, associate professor of cell and developmental biology, several faculty members have established a scholarship in his name. Mike, who is retiring on June 30, has taught anatomy to first-year students at the CU School of Medicine for more than 30 years. Friends, colleagues and former students are invited to share their memories and to thank Mike at the Michael Carry, PhD Honorary Scholarship Fund webpage. We offer our best wishes for a happy retirement. 

Commencement and class reunion activities are scheduled this week. The all-campus commencement is scheduled for 8:30 a.m., Friday, May 25, on the Boettcher Commons, south of the Fulginiti Pavilion for Bioethics and Humanities.  The School of Medicine convocation, where the Class of 2018 will receive their degrees, will follow that program. NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren, MD ’02, will be giving the commencement address. The graduation ceremony for the Class of 2018 Child Health Associate/Physician Assistant graduates is scheduled for Thursday, May 24, on the Library Commons. Events may be relocated in cases of inclement weather. Details will be posted on the Spring Commencement 2018 website. To celebrate the impending graduation events, the Class of 2018 held senior skits at Herman’s Hideaway last Wednesday evening with a feast of lip-syncing, mean-tweet-reading and other flights of fancy. 


There will be no message next Monday, May 28, due to the Memorial Day holiday. 


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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