Dean's Weekly Message

March 6, 2017


Dear colleague: 

In a series of reports last week, 9News featured our Rocky Mountain Alzheimer’s Disease Center and a clinical trial of Leukine as a drug to treat the disease. The team led by Huntington Potter, PhD, director of the center and professor of neurology, is testing whether the promising results from the laboratory can translate into effective treatment. The effort has attracted support from CU First Lady Marcy Benson, who discusses in the introduction to the series how Alzheimer’s affected her mother. The efforts of the center have attracted support from the Alzheimer’s Association, which last summer awarded $1 million for the research. And last week, the Office of Advancement announced that the University has received a $1 million commitment from the Sprout Foundation to establish the Elizabeth Campbell Fanch Alzheimer’s Disease Research Fund. Elizabeth was the mother of Sprout Foundation co-founder Robert Fanch, and this fund was named in honor of her life. The resources made available through the fund will support research initiatives and clinical trials, specifically trials by Hunt and his colleagues at the Rocky Mountain Alzheimer’s Disease Center. 

Our Interprofessional Education and Development program was recently featured in an article in the AAMCNews that focuses on questions regarding teaching informed consent to medical students. In our program, students work on case studies in interprofessional teams and have their work reviewed by medical ethicists. Our classwork teaches students to provide patients with the support tools needed to make decisions and also teaches how to assess a patient’s competency to give truly informed consent. “The broader concept of engaging with patients and seeing them as partners in their care is an attitude that needs to be developed over time,” says Wendy Madigosky, MD, MSPH, associate professor of family medicine and curriculum director for Foundations of Doctoring. 

Congratulations to Stephanie Stevens, MD, associate clinical professor of pediatrics, and everyone who has contributed their time and care to the Healthy Beginnings clinic in Denver. Healthy Beginnings is a University of Colorado School of Medicine student-run pediatric clinic that provides convenient, free healthcare services for the residents of Warren Village. The clinic offers pediatric clinical experiences for first- and second-year medical students and a venue for second-, third-, and fourth-year medical students to gain clinical management skills. Our students there learn how to interview children and parents, examine children and give treatment plans. In some cases, it’s the first place the students give a vaccine. On Feb. 22, the clinic received the Program Award at the Celebrating Wellness luncheon and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock proclaimed it “Healthy Beginnings at Warren Village Day” in honor of the compassion and commitment to excellence at the clinic. Stephanie was a first-year medical student in 1995 when she and others started Healthy Beginnings. All these years later, Stephanie says it’s still a place she finds inspiration. “This community is my love,” she said in accepting the award for the clinic, “and these medical students are actually my most important teachers.” 

A major instrumentation grant from the National Institutes of Health has been recently awarded to the Animal Imaging Shared Resources. Natalie J. Serkova, PhD, professor of anesthesiology, is the principal investigator. The $2 million grant will be used to purchase a new 9.4 Tesla MRI scanner for animal research, with substantial matching funds provided through the School of Medicine’s Strategic Infrastructure for Research Committee, the Vice Chancellor for Research Office, the CU Cancer Center and the Colorado Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CCTSI). The new MRI scanner will allow for non-invasive high-resolution functional and anatomical imaging, including fMRI in rodents, providing new opportunities for cutting-edge research in on our campus. Only a few academic institutions around the United States have the 9.4 Tesla scanners available. Congratulations to Natalie and the team on receiving the grant. 

Congratulations to Distinguished University Professor Richard Traystman, PhD, vice chancellor for research and vice chair for research in the Department of Anesthesiology, on the announcement last week that he is the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Society for Cerebral Blood Flow & Metabolism. The Society will formally bestow the honor at the Berlin Brain 2017 meeting in April. Dick will accept the award at the meeting when he’s not busy giving scientific presentations. This is a well-deserved honor his many achievements. 

UCHealth and University of Colorado Medicine announced last week the launch of UCHealth Integrated Network. Clinically integrated networks manage cost and quality outcomes for defined patient populations. For payers, employers, and patients, these networks offer access to a high-performing group of healthcare providers. For physicians, hospitals, and other providers, the networks assume financial accountability in providing health services. Providers get the benefit of the latest tools, support and some financial incentives, while shared infrastructure reduces fixed costs and enhances overall effectiveness. Together, UCHealth and University of Colorado Medicine will work toward improved patient experience, better health outcomes, lower costs of care and increased satisfaction for providers. UCHealth Integrated Network extends the UCHealth infrastructure to all participating partners including independent physician groups and hospitals throughout Colorado. With University of Colorado Hospital as its academic anchor, UCHealth is able to provide advanced treatments and innovative clinical trials, ensuring excellent care and outcomes for more than 1.2 million unique patients each year. Through its Office of Value-Based Performance and expertise in quality and performance measurement, CU Medicine will develop models of delivering care that improve the health of patients. 

5280 magazine’s 2017 Top Doctors ballot is open until March 17. Each year, our faculty physicians are well represented on this list, which is determined by a vote of physicians in metro Denver. Typically, more than half of the list is comprised of physicians who are on the School of Medicine faculty. Please consider taking a few minutes to cast a ballot for your peers. 

Last fall, I mentioned in my weekly message that School of Medicine faculty should consider signing up for Doximity, an online professional networking site, to be eligible to participate in the U.S. News Best Hospitals rankings. Last week, emails were sent inviting physicians to vote. If you haven’t seen an email, please check your clutter or junk email boxes for an email from Doximity, or check your Doximity app. In order to enhance the reputation component of the U.S. News scoring, please consider participating. 

The School of Medicine’s Office of Medical Education is seeking applications for Director of the Mentored Scholarly Activity program for medical students. The director is responsible for curriculum, logistics, student assessment, evaluation and all other aspects of the program. All medical students are required to complete a mentored scholarly activity during their four years in medical school. The details of this 0.3 FTE position are available in the job description. An MD or DO degree and School of Medicine faculty appointment is required. Applications including a letter of interest and current CV should be sent to Caitlin Zoghby at by Monday, March 13. 

The Leadership for Innovative Team Science (LITeS) program is seeking participants for its 2017-2018 class. Each year, a group of 20 to 30 senior and emerging leaders from the University of Colorado are selected to participate the yearlong program, which aims to foster leadership skills for team science. Participants should be senior or advanced mid-career faculty involved in clinical/translational research or with responsibilities related to academic administration or training programs in which clinical/translational research is involved. The participants attend a quarterly series of two-day workshops, work together throughout the year on a team project and receive individual coaching sessions. The program schedule and additional details are posted on the program website. Nominations should be sent to Galit Mankin, program manager,, by May 15 for priority review in the selection process. In addition, LITeS is seeking an intact team of leaders who wish to enhance their teamwork through the program. This intact team will be participating alongside a senior research leadership team from the University of Minnesota, who will be commuting to Colorado to participate. For more information, contact LITeS Director Judith Albino,, or Associate Director Susan Johnson,  

Guillermo “Bill” Aragón, MD, a longtime member and generous supporter of the Department of Surgery, died on Feb. 21 at the age of 96. In 1973, he was appointed clinical assistant professor of surgery and a member of the staff of the Denver General Hospital, where he specialized in the surgical management of trauma. He was promoted to clinical professor of surgery in 1983 and to emeritus clinical professor in 1987. He also served on the CU Foundation Board of Trustees from 1999 to 2005. In 2015, the University honored Bill and María de Lourdes Gonzalez-Guisti de Aragón at the Eighth Annual Donor Recognition Dinner for their philanthropic contributions to the University, where their support includes the endowment of the Aragón/Gonzalez-Gíustí Chair. I would encourage you to watch the interview with Bill that is posted on the Department of Surgery’s website. In it, with a great smile, Bill describes meeting a police officer 16 years after performing surgery that saved the officer’s life. The officer recognized Bill and gave him a hug, “He said, ‘Thank you very much, you’ve given me a very wonderful life.’” 

Thomas Starzl, MD, PhD, who performed the world’s first liver transplant in 1963 while he was on the faculty of the University of Colorado School of Medicine, died on March 3. He was 90. Tom was a pioneering surgeon who led the CU School of Medicine’s Department of Surgery from 1972 until 1980. In 1981, Tom moved to the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and in 1996, the University renamed its transplant unit the Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute. During the first 20 years he was in Pittsburgh, the team there transplanted more than 5,700 livers, 3,500 cadaveric kidneys, 1,000 lungs and 500 hearts. During his storied career, he published more than 2,200 articles and much of the center’s success is credited to his insights into the human immune system. His life’s work has had profound impact on medical science and many lives have been changed for the better due to his influence. We offer our condolences to his family, friends and colleagues. 

A reminder: site visitors from our accrediting body, the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, are on campus today and tomorrow. If you are scheduled to meet with them, please arrive early. Thank you to everyone who has worked so diligently to prepare for this important visit. 


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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