Dean's Weekly Message

February 13, 2017


Dear colleague: 

A successful medical education program depends on an awareness and commitment by our educators to our School’s graduation requirements and competencies and to the learning objectives for the courses and clerkships they teach. These standards are also important for accreditation of all U.S. medical schools. With the upcoming visit by our accrediting body in March, I would encourage everyone to review the competencies required for graduation. On that webpage, you’ll find an outline of the necessary standards our graduates must demonstrate, ranging from knowledge of established and evolving biomedical, clinical, epidemiological and social-behavioral sciences to an expectation of patient-centered care that is compassionate, appropriate and effective. The goals and learning objectives for our courses and clerkships are posted on the Preparation to Teach Medical Students webpage. I would like to thank the team in the Office of Medical Education for maintaining this valuable resource for the School. 

I would like to encourage faculty to participate in the Mentored Scholarly Activity Capstone event for the School of Medicine Class of 2017 on Thursday, March 2. The MSA program is seeking volunteers to assist as judges for the sessions that day. There are three sessions: Session 1:  1 p.m. to 2 p.m.; Session 2:  2:15 p.m. to 3:15 p.m.; and Session 3:  3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sign up through this link to participate as a judge in one or all sessions. For additional information, visit the MSA Capstone Poster Session website. If you have any questions, please email Faculty participation is key to the capstone event’s success and it fosters an appreciation of life-long learning in our medical students. 

Scholarly articles published last week by School of Medicine faculty demonstrate the breadth and depth of the learning here. From the laboratory to the bedside, our faculty are making essential discoveries about evolution and raising questions about providing compassionate patient care. In one study, published last Monday in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution, Kenji Fukushima, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in biochemistry and molecular genetics, uncovered evolutionary details of carnivorous plants. On the same day, Lilia Cervantes, MD, assistant professor of medicine, reported in JAMA Internal Medicine the human consequences of providing dialysis treatment to undocumented immigrants only in emergency settings. 

Kenji was the lead author of an article about the evolution of carnivorous pitcher plants. By sequencing the genome of the pitcher plant, the team succeeded in regulating the developmental switch between carnivorous and non-carnivorous leaves. The study concluded that in addition to convergent digestive physiology, the separately arisen digestive enzymes often incorporated similar genetic components, even though the lineages had split more than 100 million years ago, long before their respective carnivorous habits arose. In pursuing the research, Kenji was following the footsteps of Charles Darwin himself, who also spent many years studying the physiology of carnivorous plants. 

Lily’s article offers a study of 20 undocumented immigrants with kidney failure, who described the physical and psychosocial distress related to receiving emergent-only hemodialysis care. Those patients, who were treated at Denver Health, described harrowing physical symptoms, such as feeling like they were drowning, and the psychological stress related to waiting to receive care. Some states, under their Medicaid programs, allow scheduled hemodialysis treatments, while others do not. Lily and her co-authors conclude that states should reconsider how to provide high-quality, more-affordable and compassionate care to these patients with end-stage renal disease. 


There will be no message next Monday, Feb. 20, due to the Presidents’ 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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