Dean's Weekly Message

Oct. 1, 2018


Dear colleague: 


We express our gratitude to benefactors Susie and Ed Orr for their generous $2 million commitment to establish the Orr Family Endowed Chair in Adult Diabetes. The inaugural holder of this endowed chair is Peter Gottlieb, MD,professor of pediatrics and medicine. The Orrs have been supporters of the Barbara Davis Center for Diabetes since 2012. With assistance from the CU School of Medicine Acceleration Program, which provides funding for the endowment while the contribution is invested, this gift will have an immediate impact on campus. 

Children’s Hospital Colorado Foundation held its 41st annual Children’s Gala on Saturday, September 29, at the Hyatt Regency Denver at the Colorado Convention Center, where hundreds gathered to raise money to support the outstanding care provided at one of the nation’s best pediatric hospitals. We are fortunate to have Children’s Hospital Colorado as a strong partner on the Anschutz Medical Campus and throughout our community. The black-tie party raises more than $2 million each year with donations large and small that are put to work for the benefit of Children’s Hospital Colorado’s patients and their families. 

Congratulations to Ernest E. “Gene” Moore, MD, Distinguished Professor of the University of Colorado and professor of surgery, on the well-deserved tribute held on Saturday, September 29, when Denver Health hosted a black-tie dinner reception in his honor and to introduce the hospital’s Ernest E. Moore Shock Trauma Center. The event recognized Gene’s accomplished career that includes leadership as a clinician, educator, and researcher. Gene served the chief of trauma at Denver Health for 36 years and chief of surgery for 28 years. Under Gene’s leadership, Denver Health’s Level 1 Trauma Center became internationally recognized for its innovative care for injured patients. His trauma research laboratory has been funded by the National Institutes of Health for 30 consecutive years and he has lifetime achievement awards from the Society of University Surgeons, the American Heart Association and the International Association for Trauma and Surgical Intensive Care. The event recognizes an esteemed career that is not yet complete. The celebration invitation made it clear: “Dr. Moore is not retiring. He is continuing his 40-year career with Denver Health.” 

The Physical Therapy Program hosted Pain & Healthcare in Society, an educational forum, on the Anschutz Medical Campus on September 17, addressing the opioid abuse crisis that has affected American society in recent years. The event offered the 250 attendees an improved knowledge of the problem and the barriers to achieving effective collaboration. While there have been some efforts by our faculty to pioneer ways to prevent over-prescribing opioids, it is beneficial to hear what we can learn from others. This event brought to our campus Anthony Delitto, PhD, PT, dean of the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh, and Robert Saper, MD, MPH, director of integrative medicine at Boston Medical Center and associate professor at Boston University, to discuss their efforts. Toward the end of the daylong event, state Rep. Chris Kennedy discussed legislative efforts to address the issue. 

Denver Health is addressing an important aspect contributing to the opioid crisis – a shortage of mental health professionals – by establishing a 12-month psychiatric training program for physician assistants (PAs). There are only four such programs in the United States. After graduating from PA school, trainees in Denver Health’s Behavioral Health Physician Assistant Fellowship will complete supervised rotations providing psychiatric care throughout the Denver Health system. The program currently has one trainee with another scheduled to start in December 2018. Michelle Gaffaney, PA, is the training director and Christian Thurstone, MD, associate professor of psychiatry, is the program director. 

Faculty, students, and medical education leaders in the School of Medicine have been working to revise the medical student curriculum at CU to educate physician leaders who are curious, life-long learners with a commitment to service to the profession, our patients, and society. Over the past year, more than 200 faculty, students, staff, and community members on 11 curriculum reform subcommittees reviewed evidence and best practices for curricula from peer institutions around the world to make recommendations for how CU might update our MD program curriculum. Full committee reports from 2018-2019 are available on the curriculum reform website. In order to integrate and implement the recommendations, the SOM is forming four Curriculum Reform Implementation Teams, representing an integrated basic science curriculum, a longitudinal clinical curriculum, a health and society curriculum (health systems science), and a rigorous assessment, outcomes and evaluation program. We are now seeking interested and committed faculty, staff, and students to serve on these Implementation Teams. Details about the scope of each team are available online. You can also sign up to be a volunteer at that website. 

The annual Down Syndrome Research Symposium, hosted by the School of Medicine’s Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome, was last Wednesday, September 26, on the Anschutz Medical Campus. More than 100 leading scientists gathered to discuss current research and to hear from Michelle Sie Whitten, president and CEO of the Global Down Syndrome Foundation, and several invited speakers, including Roger Reeves, PhD, professor of physiology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Thanks to strong support from the Global Down Syndrome Foundation and other backers, metro Denver has become a major investigative center with some 42 research teams and more than 200 scientists involved in efforts to address health issues related to Down syndrome. 

Anschutz Medical Campus police officers and student leaders from our diversity council and student organizations gathered last week for a conversation about steps to build community on our campus. The dialogue focused on a campus culture of respect, increased communication, and the challenges of community building on a non-residential campus such as ours. The gathering was prompted by case studies the students review during their First Course about bias and discrimination. Sponsored by the Police Chief Randy Repola in collaboration with the School of Medicine Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the discussion was facilitated by Vice Chancellor Brenda J. Allen, PhD, and topics ranged from the call to service that students and police share to societal challenges around the relationship between minority communities and law enforcement. Students and officers generated several ideas for next steps in engagement and future conversations. We appreciate working and studying on a campus where these types of meaningful conversations can occur.    

A reminder: The VA Research Days are scheduled for Thursday, October 4, and Friday, October 5, in the auditorium of the new Rocky Mountain Region VA Medical Center (RMRVAMC). Posters will go on view beginning 11 a.m. Thursday, October 4, and Friday, October 5, with speakers, including School of Medicine faculty, at 1 p.m. each day. 

CU Anschutz Today, an online publication featuring news about people and activities on our campus, posted an article last week about the Girls’ Career Day that happened in June. About 50 high school girls were hosted by the Center for Women’s Health Research and were given tours, talks, and demonstrations of what life is like on an academic medical campus. Special thanks to Judy Regensteiner, PhD, and her team at the center for hosting the event, and to Aviva Abosch, MD, PhD, professor of neurosurgery, and Sarah Perman, MD, assistant professor of emergency medicine, who were among the speakers.


Have a good week,

John J. Reilly, Jr., MD
Richard D. Krugman Endowed Chair
Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs and
Dean, School of Medicine



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