Dean's Weekly Message

Oct. 23, 2017


Dear colleague: 

Richard Traystman, PhD, vice chancellor for research for the University of Colorado Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus and Distinguished Professor of the University, died last Thursday. Dick was a generous colleague, accomplished scientist, prolific author, and thoughtful administrator. He made significant findings in our understanding of cerebral blood flow and metabolism through decades of continually NIH-funded research and in more than 475 articles published in peer-reviewed journals. A recent grant – $2.5 million over four years from American Heart/Stroke Association and the Bugher Foundation – offers an example of Dick’s collaborative approach to research and his goal of improving the quality of patients’ lives. That grant aims to understand pediatric stroke and brings together investigators from seven departments or specialties on our campus: anesthesiology, biostatistics, cell and developmental biology, neurology, pediatrics, pharmacology, and radiology. Dick earned BS and MS degrees from Long Island University and a doctorate from Johns Hopkins University Medical Center, where he worked for more than 30 years until he was recruited in 2003 by the Oregon Health & Science University. CU recruited him in 2007. Dick’s kindness, wit, candor, and thoughtfulness will be missed. We offer condolences to Dick’s wife, Suzann Lupton, his family, and his legion of friends, mentees, and colleagues. A funeral service, by invitation for family and close friends, will be held on Nov. 1. Members of the campus community will be invited to pay respects at a memorial service to be scheduled later in the month. We will share details when they are available. 

The Liaison Committee on Medical Education notified the University last week that the School of Medicine has received full accreditation for an eight-year term. The long-awaited letter is the culmination of nearly two years of hard work by the Office of Medical Education, the Office of Student Affairs, and many of you on the Anschutz Medical Campus. A special thank you to Bob Anderson, MD, who led the effort to conduct the self-study and to prepare for the site visit by the LCME, and to Paula Harmer, LCME accreditation specialist, who joined the School to help us compile and prepare the voluminous information needed for our report. Everyone at our School should be proud of this accomplishment and know that we will continue to maintain the high standards necessary to provide a medical education that produces highly skilled physicians who are prepared for the ever-changing healthcare landscape. 

I am pleased to announce the appointment of Shanta Zimmer, MD, as senior associate dean for education for the University of Colorado School of Medicine. Shanta is a professor of medicine and associate dean for diversity and inclusion, and has served as the interim Senior Associate Dean for Education for the past four months, succeeding Bob Anderson, MD, who guided our School’s process to earn reaccreditation from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME). Since joining the School of Medicine in June 2016, Shanta has increased campus engagement on issues of diversity, inclusion, and equity and has strengthened the Office of Diversity and Inclusion as a prominent place of advocacy for students, residents, and faculty. Shanta has demonstrated the commitment, vision, and leadership needed to excel as senior associate dean for education and I am confident that her experience as a medical educator will serve our School well as we embark on a curricular review process. 

Chancellor Don Elliman announced in his State of the Campus address last Wednesday that the University is planning to build a new parking structure east of the Anschutz Health and Wellness Center and north of Research Complex II. That construction could begin next year. He also said that a new building to house the Colorado Center for Personalized Medicine, our campus’ mental health initiatives, and additional education and office space could also be under construction by the end of 2018. These commitments recognize the need for space for our growing academic community and will strengthen our University’s position to handle leading bioscience and health issues of our time. 

We welcomed Jon Samet, MD, MS, dean of the Colorado School of Public Health, to the Anschutz Medical Campus last Friday, October 20. Jon made a presentation in the Shore Family Room of the Nighthorse Campbell Native Health Building, followed by a reception. Jon joins us from the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, where he was distinguished professor and chair of the Department of Preventive Medicine. He is past-president of the American College of Epidemiology and the Society of Epidemiologic Research. He has been elected to the National Academy of Medicine, one of the highest honors in medicine, and holds a bachelor’s degree from Harvard College, an MD from the University of Rochester and a master’s degree from the Harvard School of Public Health. 

At last week’s meeting of the Board of Directors of University of Colorado Medicine, Associate Medical Director Christina Finlayson, MD, presented a report showing how our practice plan compares in cost and quality for patients with Medicare to other practices across the country. The data, compiled by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, showed that our practice provides an outstanding level of high-quality care and that our costs are in line with our peers. One of the key points worth noting is that University of Colorado Medicine is one of just two organizations in which all 19 quality measures were each above the academic median. While the report is impressive, Tina reminded us that that we still have opportunities to improve our quality scores and more effectively control costs. University of Colorado Medicine faculty, supported by the CU Medicine Office of Value-Based Performance led by Lisa Schilling, MD, MSPH, provide superior clinical care to our patients, improving the health and well-being of our community while serving as an engine for our educational mission. I want to thank you for your valuable contribution to making our School, community, and world a better place. 

One of the ways we recognize the excellence of our faculty is with the support of our community who provide the funding for endowed chairs. Last Thursday, the CU Anschutz Medical Campus hosted its inaugural Endowed Chair Celebration. Special guests at the event were Colleen and Craig Slater and Malik Kahook, MD, who holds the Slater Family Endowed Chair in Ophthalmology. About 80 guests gathered at the Parkside Mansion in Denver for the event celebrating our generous benefactors and the faculty they support. The event was an excellent opportunity to say thank you and to show our dedication to attracting and retaining the best physicians and researchers to improve the quality of care we can provide. 

The National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Food & Drug Administration have invited Dennis Roop, PhD, director of the Gates Center for Regenerative Medicine and professor of dermatology, to present and participate in a panel discussion in Bethesda, Md., on December 6-7. The workshop is intended to help the two agencies implement the regenerative medicine provisions of the 21st Century Cures Act. The Gates Center received one of six grants awarded through those provisions to develop an effective treatment for epidermolysis bullosa, a group of rare inherited blistering disorders that can be devastating and in some cases lethal. The technological breakthrough pursued by the Gates Center allows adult skin cells to be reprogrammed into induced pluripotent stem cells, offering the possibility of developing a permanent corrective therapy for the condition. The grant funding has been matched by EB Research Partnership, the EB Medical Research Foundation, and the Sohana Research Fund, and will allow the Gates Center to manufacture clinical grade reagents for reprogramming and gene editing in the Gates Biomanufacturing Facility, which will be provided to members of the EB iPS Cell Consortium comprised of research teams from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Stanford University School of Medicine and Columbia University Medical Center. 

This week, Joaquín M. Espinosa, PhD, professor of pharmacology and executive director of the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome, is scheduled to address a Congressional hearing on Down syndrome researchand its impact on treatments for other health conditions including Alzheimer’s disease, autoimmune disorders, and cancer. Michelle Sie Whitten, president and CEO of the Global Down Syndrome Foundation, is also expected to testify. The hearing, by the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, is scheduled for 10 a.m. ET, Wednesday, October 25. 

The Center for Women’s Health Research hosted its 2017 Annual Community Luncheon last Thursday, October 19, featuring a keynote address, “Understanding Hormones and Health across the Lifespan,” by C. Neill Epperson, MD, professor of psychiatry and obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine and director of the Penn Center for Women’s Behavioral Wellness. A sell-out crowd of 750 supporters gathered at the Seawell Grand Ballroom at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, demonstrating the widespread community backing for the scholars who are working on our campus. Center Director Judy Regensteiner, PhD, noted that the Center for Women’s Health Research now supports 60 young MD and PhD scientists through funding seed grants and mentoring. We are grateful for the community’s support and for the opportunity to share our work with them. 

Congratulations to Mark Lucera and Juliette Petersen from the Anschutz Medical Campus on receiving AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellowships. Juliette graduated in December 2016 with a PhD from the Molecular Biology Program and Mark is a postdoc on our campus training in the Division of Infectious Diseases in the Department of Medicine. There were 280 scientists and engineers selected in the latest class of American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) policy fellows. Fellows serve yearlong assignments in the federal government, providing knowledge and analytical skills in developing and reviewing policy. 

The CU Heroes Clinic at the School of Dental Medicine and the University of Colorado Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus Office of Veteran & Military Student Services have created a way to send a personalized thank you to military veterans enrolled on our campus and downtown. It is free and allows you to show gratitude to those who have served our country in the military. This link will connect you to a website that allows you to pick a card design that will be delivered to CU military veterans for Veterans Day, November 11. The deadline for completing a card is Friday, October 27. 


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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