Dean's Weekly Message

Aug. 21, 2017


Dear colleague: 

During this past week, we have witnessed an abject failure of leadership by the President of the United States in his unwillingness to unequivocally condemn the racial hatred propounded by the hate groups that descended on Charlottesville, Va., earlier this month. His statements, whether he intended to or not, have lent support for people with such abhorrent views. This harms our country and does not represent the values we prize at our School and in the medical profession. As distracting and disheartening as the national discourse has become, I urge you to redouble your already considerable efforts to learn, to teach, to seek and to care for each other. We value the contributions of the members of our diverse community who are motivated by their willingness to help one another. We stand together because we are stronger together. 

The University of Colorado announced last Thursday that the entire system reached a record level of sponsored research funding during the 2016-17 fiscal year with faculty receiving awards totaling $1.034 billion. It is the first time the CU System has topped the $1 billion mark and is a 12 percent increase over the previous year’s total. Most sponsored research funding is awarded by federal agencies. Systemwide in 2016-17, CU received $636.6 million in federal awards and $398 million in non-federal awards. CU Boulder tallied $507.9 million for the year and CU Anschutz Medical Campus totaled $490.6 million. Our research improves the quality of life for individuals and communities and is an engine for the Colorado economy. 

Our faculty have been leaders in receiving sponsored research funding and many were awarded major research grants during the past year. Some examples: Wendy Kohrt, PhD, professor of medicine, was named principal investigator of a grant establishing a clinical center that is part of the National Institute of Health (NIH)’s Molecular Transducers of Physical Activity in Humans Program; David Schwartz, MD, chair of medicine, received a four-year, $10 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense to develop the scientific knowledge needed to predict and prevent the progression of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis; Judy Regensteiner, PhD, director of the Center for Women’s Health Research and professor of medicine, and Nanette Santoro, MD, chair of obstetrics and gynecology, were notified that the NIH had awarded a five-year, $2.5 million grant, through the institute’s Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health program; and Eric M. Poeschla, MD, professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases, was one of three 2017 recipients of the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s Avant-Garde Award for HIV/AIDS and Drug Use Research, providing a five-year, $3.9 million grant to study the innate immune system in a novel mouse model. There are too many awardees at our School to name all of them here, but we are proud of their accomplishments. I commend everyone on our faculty and staff who make such significant contributions to the success of our School and the University and I look forward to reports of the breakthroughs that come from the laboratories on our campus. 

The Colorado Health Foundation has awarded a $3.3 million grant to ECHO Colorado (Extension for Community Health Outcomes) to support the program center’s work through 2020.  ECHO Colorado, based on the Anschutz Medical Campus and led by CU School of Medicine faculty members John F. “Fred” Thomas, PhD, and Duane Pearson, MD, offers training and practice support to medical practices throughout the state and aims to increase capacity for managing complex health problems in primary care settings. This gift strengthens our partnership with the Colorado Health Foundation and recognizes ECHO Colorado’s efforts in partnering with collaborating organizations across the state to examine the reach and impact of the model in light of the ECHO Act passed by Congress in late 2016.  (Learn more about the ECHO Act). Thank you to Fred and Duane, the talented ECHO staff and the Office of Advancement for their work on this grant. 

Students in the Colorado Undergraduate Summer Program (CUSP), the DREAM (Department of Medicine Research and Equity in Academic Medicine) Program and the Colorado Undergraduate Research in Environmental Sciences Programs completed their research studies earlier this month with a graduation ceremony and poster presentations. In total, there were 32 students in the programs. CUSP and DREAM are led by John E. Repine, MD, director of the Webb-Waring Center. CUSP is supported by a grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health and provides a comprehensive learning experience for 18 undergraduates from colleges and universities across the country. In addition to those students, there are seven National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences-supported, CUSP-trained, University of Colorado undergraduates in a program led by Jared Brown, PhD, associate professor of toxicology in the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, and seven rising first-year CU medical students in the DREAM program. Thanks to John and Jared for their efforts leading these exceptional programs and to the many mentors, speakers, staff and supporters who helped teach these talented students. 

Congratulations to Vik Bebarta, MD, professor of emergency medicine, who has been promoted to Colonel and appointed to the Office of Chief Scientist of the 59th Medical Wing as a member of the Air Force Reserve. With the appointment, Vik will be an IMA (Individual Mobilization Augmentee), who are Air Force Reservists assigned to active-component units and government agencies. Vik has been serving in the Colorado Air National Guard and now will transfer to the Air Force Reserve. The 59th Medical Wing is the Department of Defense’s largest ambulatory surgical care facility, a multi-campus organization with over 1,500 medical personnel providing operational and expeditionary medical care to more than 55,000 enrolled members. The Office of the Chief Scientist commands 100 research staff and a $100 million operating budget. Earlier this year, Vik was featured in news reports on Colorado Public Radio, the Denver ABC affiliate and the International Business Times for his expertise on treating victims of chemical weapons attacks. Vik has more than 16 years of active duty in the U.S. Air Force and four combat deployments. 

Congratulations to Saketh Guntupalli, MD, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology, on the publication of his first book, “Sex and Cancer: Intimacy, Romance, and Love After Diagnosis and Treatment.” Saketh’s publisher hosted a book release party in downtown Denver in late July that attracted about 400 people. Saketh, who has received national attention for his work as a gynecologic oncologist, said he was inspired to write the book after working with some of his patients. Saketh and his co-author, Maryann Karinch, who is a uterine cancer survivor, drew on his research on the sexual effects of chemotherapy in women with gynecologic cancers. They also drew on the questionnaire his patients filled out about their sexual experiences during and after treatment, as well as talking with sex therapists and physical therapists doing research on this topic. Saketh has discussed writing his book in reports on the Denver ABC and local Fox television stations. 

Congratulations to a collaborative team of faculty from the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and the School of Medicine who received a Best Poster award at the Pharmacy Quality Alliance meeting for their poster, “Variations of Blood Pressure Measurement Results between Primary Care and Specialty Practices.” This work has also been accepted for presentation at the upcoming American Society of Hypertension 2017 Annual Scientific Meeting. The team consisted of Sarah Billups, PharmD, assistant professor of pharmacy, and co-authors Joseph Saseen, PharmD, professor of pharmacy and family medicine, Joseph Vande Griend, PharmD, UCHealth, clinical associate professor of pharmacy, and Lisa Schilling, MD, MSPH, professor of medicine. 

Barry Rumack, MD, director of the Office of Professionalism and professor emeritus of pediatrics and emergency medicine, has announced that he plans to step down from his position leading the Office of Professionalism effective September 1. The office was created in 2014 to improve how the School handles behavioral conflicts between members of our community. For many years, our graduates, in surveys conducted by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), had noted concerns about professionalism. As a result, the Office of Professionalism was established to develop processes to redress concerns and to help improve the culture of professionalism at the School. The office reviews complaints, addresses individuals involved, including notifying faculty leadership when appropriate, and teaches best practices. The office has had its intended impact, cultivating a culture of professionalism that is reflected in more recent AAMC surveys. Barry has offered to help with the leadership transition in the Office of Professionalism. Barry has been on our faculty for more than 40 years, always striving to make our School a better place, and this effort has had remarkable success and I thank him for his leadership.  A search committee will be established to identify a new director and Barry has graciously offered to help with the leadership transition in the office. In the interim, please direct inquiries about the position to Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Peter Buttrick, MD. 

The University of Colorado chapter of Alpha Omega Alpha, the National Honor Medical Society, elected 19 senior AOA members from this year’s graduating class. Criteria for selection are academic performance, community service, leadership and scholarship. This year’s senior AOA members join six members who were selected as juniors. The newly selected members and more information about AOA are listed on the chapter’s website. An induction ceremony will occur next year as graduation nears. Questions should be addressed to AOA Councilor James Beck, MD, professor and vice chair of the Department of Medicine and chief of medicine service for VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System,

The Department of Psychiatry is offering evening sessions for mental health counselling for students from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Mondays and Tuesdays, starting September 19. This is a pilot effort in response to student feedback requesting access to mental health services at times that don’t conflict with clinical or laboratory schedules. To access these services, contact Student Mental Health at 303-724-4716 or email

The Center for Bioethics and Humanities and the Graduate School are accepting applications until Friday, September 1, for fall matriculation in the new Graduate Certificate in Health Humanities and Ethics.  One of only a few programs nationwide to integrate the study of both health humanities and healthcare ethics, the certificate is designed to expand the traditional learning of health professions students and graduate students; to enhance the expertise of working professionals and researchers; and to provide an educational opportunity for community members as we explore the moral, social and cultural dimensions of healthcare. Upon completion of two foundational courses in health humanities and health ethics, students can pursue targeted electives in clinical and research ethics; narrative medicine; health communication; bioethics, law and social justice; and literature and visual arts. The certificate is 15 credit hours and can be completed in two years with courses offered as weekly evening seminars and as hybrid on-line/traditional classes. To register or for more information, contact Amanda McGuigan, education coordinator for the Center for Bioethics and Humanities, or 303-724-8865.   

The Directors of the Foundations of Doctoring Course and the Arts and Humanities in Healthcare Program are recruiting faculty to facilitate teaching Observation Skills and Clinical Reasoning Concepts Using Works of Art to Phase I and Phase II Students.  An upcoming session on Thursday, September 7, with Phase II students focuses on interpretation and pertinence as relevant to clinical reasoning.  The first small group exercise includes a guided discussion on interpreting a work of art with an emphasis on complexity and ambiguity. The second exercise involves describing and drawing a work of art, highlighting the importance of storytelling and identifying pertinent details in communicating to another health care professional.  The session commitment is 12:15 p.m. to 4 p.m. No formal art training is necessary. For more information or to sign up, contact Amanda McGuigan, education coordinator for the Center for Bioethics and Humanities, at

The School of Medicine is hosting the Association of American Medical College’s Western Group on Education Affairs meeting in March 2018. The Office of Medical Education plans to open an abstract submission and is recommending anyone who is interested in attending the meeting to save the dates: March 24-27, 2018. The meeting will be at the Westin Denver Downtown with the theme, “Training the Physician of the Future.”

The deadline to submit the tuition waiver benefit form is approaching on the CU Denver, CU Anschutz and UCCS campuses. The deadline for CU Boulder has passed. Deadlines vary by campus; details are about the benefit are posted on the Tuition Waiver Benefit FAQ webpage. The Tuition Waiver Benefit provides discounted or waived credits for most courses on all CU campuses and is available to employees and eligible dependents. For dependents to enroll, employees must give their benefit to their dependent (such as a child or spouse) for the academic year. The attendee must be enrolled as a student on the campus where he or she is attending classes. This requirement applies to both employees and dependents. Employees can receive up to nine waived credits for undergraduate and graduate courses on any CU campus, while dependents have a choice between “Option A – Home Campus” or “Option B – Other Campus.” The University’s Office of Employee Services has prepared a video that provides more information about each choice. 

The CU Medical Alumni Association is hosting a reception and performance of “La Bohème” by Opera Colorado at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House, Denver Performing Arts Complex, on Wednesday, Nov. 15. Registration with early-bird pricing is available through Thursday, Aug. 31. Tickets for early bird pricing are between $50 and $95. 


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 →


If you would like to receive these emails directly, please contact  
To unsubscribe →

CMS Login