Dean's Weekly Message

Oct. 2, 2017


Dear colleague: 

Chancellor Don Elliman and I welcomed to the Anschutz Medical Campus a delegation of business and government leaders from the Austin Chamber of Commerce on Monday, September 25. The group of Texans was touring Aurora, Denver and Boulder to meet with university, business, and government officials and to learn lessons and exchange ideas about building stronger communities. The visitors were particularly interested in our story because the University of Texas at Austin is in the early stages of its new medical school (whose dean is the son of our own Richard Johnston, Jr., MD, professor emeritus of pediatrics and former associate dean for research development), which is the first medical school in 50 years to be built from the ground up at a top-tier Association of American Universities research university. We touted the power of working together. This campus has an impressive origin story of its own. In just over a decade, the site was transformed from a decommissioned army hospital into a world-class campus dedicated to the improvement of human health – complete with health professions schools and laboratories and new adult and pediatric hospitals. We have become a successful academic medical center due to the strategic planning and deliberative decision-making of many people who proceeded us. We are fortunate that those with vision have assembled so many talented educators, investigators, clinicians and others here and we are committed to building on this strong foundation. 

The RNA Bioscience Initiative (RBI), which is one of the five Transformational Research Funding programs that received support from the Dean’s Office beginning in 2016, is hosting a daylong symposium on Monday, October 9, in the Shore Family Forum in the Nighthorse Campbell building. The symposium will feature presentations by 11 projects that have been funded through the RBI. The presenters are faculty in 10 clinical and basic science departments on campus and represent the collaboration and innovation that the Transformational Research Funding programs are intended to promote. The mission of the RBI is to create a vibrant center of discovery and innovation in RNA research, diagnostics, and therapy. In addition to sponsoring projects, the Transformational Research Funding projects are also helping recruit faculty to campus. RBI also has announced that it has recruited Olivia Rissland, PhD, Neel Mukherjee, PhD, and Matt Taliaferro, PhD. 

Thank you to the Medical Alumni Association Board of Directors for gathering Monday evening to work on ways to strengthen our School and build relationships with the graduates of our programs. We welcomed two new board members, John R. Sharp, MD ’67 and Donald G. Crino, MD ’91, who began their terms July 1, 2017. The association heard a report from Michele McKinney, assistant vice president of external relations and advocacy for the University of Colorado system office. Michele is responsible for the CU Advocates program, which promotes the university and helps raise awareness about issues affecting higher education. 

Brian Bacak, MD, associate professor of family medicine, has been appointed the 2018 chair of the Commission on Education for the American Academy of Family Physicians. The commission offers a platform for developing policy recommendations and the dissemination of expertise and new information related to the education and professional development of family physicians through completion of the residency training period. 

The Denver School of the Arts Orchestra will perform a free lunchtime concert at noon, Thursday, October 5, on the Student Community Bridge, which is on the second floor linking the Ed2 North and Ed2 South buildings. The concert is made possible with funding from the Office of the CU President. Thanks to Alex Reed, PsyD, assistant professor of family medicine, for securing the funding for this event. 

Kristina Tocce, MD, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology, has been named assistant dean of the clinical core in the office of undergraduate medical education, succeeding Brenda Bucklin, MD, who stepped down from the role. Kristina is adding this responsibility alongside her role as assistant dean for student affairs. We are fortunate to have Kristina’s prior experience as a clinical block director and her understanding of student concerns makes her an outstanding choice for this important role. 

Ben Honigman, MD, professor of emergency medicine and associate dean for clinical outreach, has accepted the position of faculty advisor to the Honor Council, succeeding in a role that had been held by Brian Dwinnell, MD, before he became associate dean for student life. Ben is well prepared to handle this role. He has mentored 43 medical students and residents, assisting them with academic projects and career development. He has also been a preceptor in the Foundations of Doctoring program for 14 years and for the Hidden Curriculum course for 13 years. 

The Steven Fadul Award each year recognizes a Professional Research Assistant or staffer in a similar role who has demonstrated the technical skills needed for the job and who has also has shown initiative by expanding the scope of their work and serving as a mentor to others. The deadline for nominations for the 2017 Steven Fadul Award is Tuesday, October 31. Nominations should be sent to Additional information is available at the award’s website

The Center for Bioethics and Humanities is hosting the public opening of Rembrandt: The Etchings on Friday, October 6, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at The Art Gallery at the Fulginiti Pavilion for Bioethics and Humanities. This is the second exhibit made possible by the generosity of Tobia and Morton Mower, who shared their artwork with us for the Masterworks exhibit earlier this year. Their collection of Rembrandt etchings encompasses his entire life’s work in a medium that is central to his achievement. Unlike his best known paintings, the etchings are relatively small, and the space at the Art Gallery makes them accessible for a closer look and for a renewed appreciation of his genius. Rembrandt: The Etchings will run through Friday, December 1. Entry into the exhibit is free and open to the public. Gallery Hours:  Monday–Friday, 9:00-5:00. 


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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