Dean's Weekly Message

April 24, 2017


Dear colleague: 

Congratulations to David Wagner, PhD, associate professor of medicine, Jeffrey Olson, MD, associate professor of ophthalmology, and Kenneth Liechty, MD, professor of surgery, on being awarded $350,000 each by the Gates Center for Regenerative Medicine and CU Innovations to support research on development of new therapies or devices. The funding comes from the Gates Grubstake Fund, a term from the Gold Rush, when investors would give prospectors seed money known as grubstakes to buy food and supplies to help them survive while they searched for gold. David’s research could lead to new therapies that regenerate parts of nerve cells and could help with treatments for multiple sclerosis. Jeffrey is developing a device to treat age-related macular degeneration. Kenneth is working to show that nanoparticles can decrease inflammation around wounds. 

The School of Medicine Executive Committee last Tuesday received a presentation by Lisa Schilling, MD, MSPH, professor of medicine, on the progress of the Data Science to Patient Value (D2V) initiative that was funded through the School of Medicine’s Transformational Research Funding process. D2V is a multidisciplinary research initiative that focuses on Big Data methods, their applications to medicine and health care delivery, and ultimately, the achievement of high value, patient-centered health care. The leaders of D2V have been focused on establishing a fellowship, event programming, and a pilot project funding program. 

Earlier this month, leadership at the University and Children’s Hospital Colorado established a committee of academic leaders to propose a structure for child health research. This committee aims to align the broader research resources on the Anschutz Medical Campus with the goal of ensuring optimal governance, administrative, and operational structures to oversee and serve our entire research community and to enable us to rise to the highest level of child health research institutions and to enhance support for our principal investigators. The Future State of Child Health Care Research Committee grows from a comprehensive review effort that began last year when the University and Children’s Hospital Colorado engaged Huron Consulting Group for a review of our research support processes. The committee members were selected to represent a broad group of child health researchers, including basic, translational, clinical, outcomes, and population investigators as well as the different departments and schools that participate in child health research. Both junior and senior investigators are represented on the committee. The committee will report directly to the executive sponsors, Gil Peri, chief strategy officer for Children’s Hospital Colorado, and Steve VanNurden, executive director of biotechnology for the CU Anschutz Medical Campus and CEO of the Fitzsimons Redevelopment Authority, who in turn represent Jena Hausmann, CEO of Children’s Hospital Colorado and Chancellor Don Elliman, respectively. The announcement includes a list of committee members and the guidelines for creating the new model. 

The University last week announced that John Cambier, PhD, chair of the Department of Immunology and Microbiology, has been named the winner of the Joseph Addison Sewall Award for exceptional contributions of leadership and vision to the Anschutz Medical Campus. John has been a prolific author and a leading scientist in understanding intracellular signaling in cells of the immune system. He is also well-known as a dedicated mentor, helping graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in his labs and serving on more than 48 exam, dissertation and mentoring committees. In addition, Wagner Schorr, Jr., MD ’63, is receiving the Florence Rena Sabin Award for exceptional contributions to the campus and to the health of the citizens of Colorado. Both are highly deserving of these awards, which will be presented at this year’s commencement ceremony in May. Wag had a distinguished career as a renal transplant pioneer, initially studying under Thomas Starzl, MD, PhD, and later helping introduce kidney transplant procedures in the United Kingdom. In Colorado, he has served on several boards, including the Colorado Health Foundation. For the School, he has been a lecturer in the Gates Summer Internship program, and an esteemed member of the School’s admission committee and current president of the Medical Alumni Association. 

In addition to recognizing John and Wag for their contributions, the University has announced other faculty award winners from the School of Medicine who will be honored at the May 26 commencement ceremony. The President’s Excellence in Teaching Award will be given to Austin Butterfield, MD, senior instructor of psychiatry, and the Chancellor’s Teaching Recognition Award will go to Steven Lowenstein, MD, MPH, professor of emergency medicine and medicine. Congratulations to Austin and Steve. 

University of Colorado Medicine Executive Director Jane Schumaker announced last Monday, April 17, that Alejandro Rojas-Sosa, MBA, has been named CU Medicine’s new vice president for business development and planning, beginning June 1. Alejandro has been the director of finance and administration for the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology since 2013. Prior to that, he held administrative positions in Departments of Radiology, Radiation Oncology and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Texas Medical Branch as well as administrative positions at the MD Anderson Cancer Center. We are fortunate to have Alejandro joining the team at CU Medicine and we express gratitude to Nanette Santoro, MD, chair of obstetrics and gynecology, for her graciousness in supporting Alejandro’s acceptance of his new role. 

Last Saturday evening, the Kempe Foundation for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect held the Imagine 2017 gala at the Seawell Grand Ballroom at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. David Olds, PhD, professor of pediatrics and founder of the Nurse-Family Partnership, received the 2017 Kempe Professional Award. For the past 40 years, David has worked to develop the partnership, which is a leading model in maternal-child health programs. The partnership serves more than 33,000 U.S. families per year and another 18,000 in eight other countries. Blair and Kristin Richardson received the Imhoff Family Community award. Richard Krugman, MD, a Distinguished Professor of the University and former Dean of the School of Medicine, offered keynote remarks. 

Today, April 24, from noon to 3 p.m. at the Fulginiti Pavilion, there will be a presentation and panel discussion to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Nuremberg trials of the national Week of Remembrance of the Victims of the Holocaust. The events on the Anschutz Medical Campus are part of a Week of Remembrance that will include additional events at the University of Colorado Denver, CU Boulder and the University of Denver. Details are available at the website of the Center for Bioethics and Humanities. 

Chief of Police Doug Abraham will be honored at a retirement open house on Friday, April 28, in the E. Chester Ridgway Board Room 7000 in Academic Office One. The event will be from 7:30 a.m. until 9 a.m., with presentations at 8 a.m.  Doug has been chief for the past 13 years and we wish him a happy retirement. 

On Friday, April 21, students from the Anschutz Medical Campus gathered with families and friends of people who donated their bodies to medical research for the annual DonorMemorial Ceremony.  The event is a tribute to the many people who donate their bodies for the education of the next generation of medical professionals. At the ceremony, relatives of the donors spoke about the lives of their loved ones, including a woman whose father was a donor. During his life, he had been a medic in Hiroshima during World War II and had been sent to the Fitzsimons Army Hospital after falling ill during his military service. She said he learned to play golf on the nearby golf course. Also at the ceremony Sarah Beck-Pancer, who is a student in the Modern Human Anatomy Class of 2018, said she was struck by students’ respect and gratitude when learning from their “silent teachers.” “A plastic model can teach structures, but it cannot teach empathy. It cannot convey the humanity of what it means to age or suffer. And empathy is the most important quality to have as a health practitioner, teacher or person .” 


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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