Dean's Weekly Message

Sept. 18, 2017


Dear colleague: 

The School of Medicine Faculty Senate held its first meeting of this academic year last Tuesday afternoon. Brian Dwinnell, MD, associate dean for student life, gave an update on the office’s efforts to update technology used in the process of reviewing medical school applicants. For our class of 184 students in the Class of 2021, the School of Medicine received 7,058 applications, interviewed 614 candidates and issued acceptances to 299 applicants. With so many students vying for a seat in the class, technology is an important tool for helping evaluate candidates. The composition of this year’s class is 64 percent Colorado residents and 36 percent from out-of-state, 48 percent of the new students are female, 51 percent male and combined they had a median grade point average of 3.69. 

In discussing the Office of Student Life, Brian praised Jeffrey Druck, MD, and Kristina Tocce, MD, the assistant deans for student affairs for the past year and half. He noted that Jeff and Kristina have done and continue to do a fantastic job as leaders in the Office of Student Life. I join him in expressing gratitude for their dedication and hard work.

Amanda Pennington, best practices specialist for the National Behavioral Health Innovation Center (NBHIC), asked faculty senators to consider participating in an upcoming anti-stigma panel that the center is planning to hold this fall in conjunction with the Interprofessional Education program. The NBHIC, which is based on the CU Anschutz Medical Campus, plans to offer a faculty/staff-led mental health panel highlighting experiences of faculty and staff living with mental illness or recovering from substance misuse. This panel is modeled after a successful student anti-stigma panel held last spring by Student Mental Health. That panel highlighted students from health professions programs who live with a mental illness or who are in recovery from substance misuse. The goal of the faculty/staff panel is to showcase successful faculty and staff who live with mental illness or are in recovery from substance misuse and who now serve as role models for de-stigmatization in seeking help for their health care needs. Another student anti-stigma panel is scheduled for Oct. 3 from 6 p.m.-8 p.m. in the Nighthorse Campbell Shore Family Forum, and the faculty/staff panel will be set for later in October or in early November, depending on the schedules of panelists. Please attend, and if you are interested in participating on the panel, please contact Amanda as soon as possible at

Congratulations to Wendy Macklin, PhD, chair of the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, on the selection of her grant for the Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award. The Javits Award is a seven-year research grant given by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) to scientists for superior competence and outstanding productivity. Wendy and her fellow researcher, Teresa Wood, PhD, professor of pharmacology, physiology and neuroscience at Rutgers University, submitted a grant application earlier this year to study the intracellular signaling pathways that regulate oligodendrocyte development. Last week, they were notified that their grant application had been selected for the award. Javits Awards provide long-term support to investigators with a history of exceptional talent, imagination, and preeminent scientific achievement. Investigators do not apply for the award. Rather, nominations for this award are made by NINDS staff and by members of the National Advisory Neurological Disorders and Stroke Council. Since the program’s inception in fiscal year 1984, more than 600 Javits Investigator Awards have been made. The award is named after former U.S. Sen. Jacob Javits, who had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and who was a strong advocate in support of research for disorders of the brain and nervous system. 

Three major grants have recently been awarded to investigators at the School of Medicine’s Adult and Child Consortium for Health Outcomes Research and Delivery Science (ACCORDS):

  • Russell Glasgow, MS, PhD, professor of family medicine, and Edward Havranek, MD, professor of medicine, have received a $2.9 million funding award by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) to train MD and PhD investigators in the integration of implementation science in the study of heart, lung, and blood diseases. This five-year training grant provides in-depth training including involvement in embedded research projects in healthcare settings. 

  • A team of investigators led by Bethany Kwan, PhD, MSPH, assistant professor of family medicine, and Jeanette Waxmonsky, PhD, associate clinical professor of family medicine, has been approved for a $4.76 million funding award by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to study diabetes shared medical appointments, also called group visits. This four-year study will compare patient-centered outcomes in group visits with patient-selected educational content delivered by multidisciplinary care teams including peer mentors, to group visits with set content delivered by health educators. 

  • The Maternal and Child Health Research Network Program of the Health Resources and Services Administration awarded a five-year, $5 million cooperative agreement to ACCORDS, to establish a Children with Special Health Needs Research Network in collaboration with three other academic research centers across the United States and the National Association of Children’s Hospitals and Related Institutions. Christopher Stille, MD, MPH, professor of pediatrics, is the principal investigator. The agreement will establish and maintain a new interdisciplinary, multi-site, collaborative research network that will lead, promote, and coordinate national research activities to strengthen the evidence base related to key components of a comprehensive, high-quality system of care for children and youth with special health care needs. 

Satish Garg, MD, professor of medicine and pediatrics at the Barbara Davis Center, is the first author of an article, “Effects of Sotagliflozin Added to Insulin in Patients with Type 1 Diabetes,” published Sept. 13 by The New England Journal of Medicine. Satish and 14 co-authors conducted and report on a multi-center trial of Sotagliflozin, a new oral drug for treating patients with type 1 diabetes. The trial, conducted at 133 sites in 19 countries, evaluated the safety and efficacy of the drug in combination with insulin therapy. In the randomized trial that included 1,402 participants between October 2015 and September 2016, the drug showed clinically meaningful and statistically significant effects on glucose control. This is yet another example of how scholars and leaders from our campus are leading the way in improving the lives of people around the world. 

Howard Miller, MD, has been named director of service at Denver Health for its Department of Anesthesiology. Howard, an associate professor of anesthesiology at the School of Medicine, has served as the interim director of service since December 2016 and had been associate director since 2013. Howard is a School of Medicine graduate who completed his internship and residency training at Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Medical Center and the University of Colorado, respectively. He has been an anesthesiologist at Denver Health since completing his residency training in 1995. 

University of Colorado Hospital (UCH) was named one of the nation’s best-performing academic hospitals in rankings released last week by Vizient Inc., a health care performance company. The 2017 Vizient Bernard A. Birnbaum, MD, Quality Leadership Award recognizes UCH, which is one of seven hospitals in the UCHealth system, for demonstrating superior quality and safety performance as measured by the Vizient Quality and Accountability Study. This year, 107 academic medical centers and 161 community hospitals were included in the Vizient Quality and Accountability Study and University of Colorado Hospital ranked 7th.  The study measures performance based on the Institute of Medicine’s six domains of care: safety, timeliness, effectiveness, efficiency, equity and patient centeredness

The CU Medical Alumni Association is hosting a night at the opera with 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 deadline is Friday, Sept. 29. 

The inaugural Ruth Fuller Lectureship will be at noon Wednesday, Sept. 20, featuring Velma McBride Murry, PhD, professor of human and organizational development at Vanderbilt University. She will discuss, “Understanding and Addressing Barriers to Help Seeking Behaviors among African American Families: Implications for Health Disparities,” in the Shore Family Forum, Room 110, of the Nighthorse Campbell Native Health Building. The lectureship honors Ruth Louvenia Fuller, MD, a longtime member of the Department of Psychiatry who died in 2014. The lectureship was made possible by the leadership of Bonnie Camp, MD ’65, PhD, professor emeritus of pediatrics and psychiatry, and Nancy Gary, PsyD, a board member of The Piton Foundation and longtime supporter of the School. 

The original Mini Medical School will begin on Monday, October 2. Mini Medical School is a free online course offered by the School of Medicine that teaches the basic science of modern medicine. The course instructors are J. John Cohen, MDCM, PhD, professor of immunology and microbiology, and Helen Macfarlane, MA, assistant professor of family medicine and director of educational technology. The course is designed for the general public, including high school students, who are interested in learning more about how the human body works. There are no prerequisites. The program is an example of how the School provides valuable community service. I encourage you to share the link to the course with any friends who are curious improving their understanding of basic health questions and want to take a more active role in their own wellness. 

This month marks the 100th anniversary of the death of Lt. William T. Fitzsimons, MD. Our Building 500 on the Anschutz Medical Campus was named in honor Dr. Fitzsimons in 1920 and carried his name through the rest of the 20th Century. Dr. Fizsimons was an officer in the Medical Reserve Corps and the first U.S. Army officer to die in World War I. He died from wounds suffered during a German air raid on Sept. 4, 1917, while stationed at Base Hospital No. 5 near Dannes-Camiers in Pas-de-Calais, France. He was 28 years old. Dr. Fitzsimons earned his medical degree from the University of Kansas School of Medicine, interned in Kansas City, Kansas, trained in New York City, and then accompanied the Red Cross in Europe. He volunteered his medical services in England for six months under the direction of Sir William Osler, and after Dr. Fitzsimons died, he was memorialized former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt in an editorial in the Kansas City Star: “There is sometimes a symbolic significance in the first death in a war. It is so in this case. To the mother he leaves, the personal grief must in some degree be relieved by the pride in the fine and gallant life which has been crowned by the great sacrifice. We, his fellow countrymen, share this pride and sympathize with this sorrow.” 


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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