Dean's Weekly Message

February 22, 2016


Dear colleague: 

The University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus celebrated the generosity and passion of our supporters at the annual Donor Recognition Dinner on Thursday, Feb. 11, at the Seawell Grand Ballroom in downtown Denver. The event recognized the Helen K. and Arthur E. Johnson Foundation for contributing $10 million to the University of Colorado Depression Center, which has been renamed the Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Depression Center in their honor. Additionally, Judi and Joe Wagner, who have supported the Center for Women’s Health Research, the Barbara Davis Center for Diabetes and the CU Cancer Center, were honored, as were Sara and Bill Caile, who have recently focused on Assistive Technology Partners, which is part of CU Anschutz Medical Campus and CU Denver. There are excellent videos on the University website about these donors and Gail and Dave Liniger, who helped make CU South Denver a reality. 

I want to express gratitude to the Board of Directors of University Physicians, Inc., (UPI), which voted unanimously and enthusiastically last Tuesday, Feb. 16, to increase its support for UPI scholarships to $500,000 for the upcoming year, up from $350,000 this year. This funding will support scholarships for students in the medical, physical therapy and physician assistant programs. These scholarships show how our successful physician practice plan reinvests in the School and perpetuates a virtuous cycle. 

I also want to thank President Bruce Benson for agreeing to continue his office’s support for School of Medicine scholarships for another year, pledging $2.5 million for the upcoming year. The president’s office originally provided $10 million in funding for scholarships over a five-year period and has continued to support this important program. The Presidential Scholarship program has made a significant difference for our students and our School. Last August, we gathered with the 12 students in the Class of 2019 who received four-year awards ranging from $15,000 to $30,000 per student per year. Since its inception, the scholarships have been awarded to more than 80 students. The scholarships have been a key initiative that has improved the diversity in the School of Medicine. When the scholarship program began, about 10 percent of the students in the incoming class were from backgrounds underrepresented in medicine. In the most recent class, more than 30 percent came from such backgrounds. 

The School of Medicine Office of Student Life officially made its move to Building 500 on Wednesday, Feb. 10, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, complete with a large pair of very sharp scissors. We are pleased to have them join others on the Dean’s Office staff in Building 500. Please stop by to visit them in their new space, the former site of the campus bookstore adjacent to the Bookstore Brew. 

The Dean’s Office last week welcomed Suzann Ruedeman as the Director of Facilities and Planning for the School of Medicine. She succeeds Mollie Young, who is leaving the University after 31 years of service.  Suzann has a Masters of Architecture from Northeastern University.  She recently was a project manager under Facilities Projects for the Anschutz Medical Campus and has been on campus for four years, during which time she was the lead on more than 30 reconstruction projects.  Prior to coming here, she held several positions in the planning and design fields at Texas Tech University and with private architectural firms. 

One of Suzann’s first major tasks will be to work with Peter Buttrick, MD, Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, to implement the recommendations of the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus Research Space Task Force. Peter presented an overview of those recommendations to the School of Medicine’s Executive Committee last Tuesday. We have an urgent need for lab space driven by the growth in our research programs, but we have not enforced existing policy to make sure space is used optimally. We are not going to build a new research building in the near future, which means that the space we have must be used as efficiently as possible. We will be starting the process soon, using existing data that has identified underutilized lab space while working continuously to refine and improve the data, and establishing Campus and School oversight committees to provide advice and guidance. As Peter said at the meeting: “The time to begin this process is not in the distant future. The time is now.” He is correct. While some have asked for another year to study the issues, time is not our ally on this. 

Congratulations to the recipients of 21 grant awards from the Colorado Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CCTSI). The CCTSI provides support through the Colorado Pilot Program, the Center for NeuroScience Pilot Program and the Child and Maternal Health Pilot Program. The CCTSI is a valuable resource for our Campus and the community at large.

Congratulations to Khadijah Breathett, MD, who is the first recipient of the Department of Medicine’s Health Services Research Development Grant. The program supports fellows or junior faculty members who hare developing expertise in health services research. Using her Department of Medicine grant, Khadijah will study gender- and ethnicity-based differences in the impact of the Affordable Care Act on listing for heart transplantation.

Scott Cao, a junior biology major at the University of Colorado Denver, is the subject of a feature article on the University’s website about the Hot Spotter program, which was developed by Roberta Capp, MD, MPH, assistant professor of emergency medicine. The Hot Spotters worked at University of Colorado Hospital last summer to help patients get insurance coverage, follow-up care and other social services support they need. This worthwhile program improved patient and community health while also building crucial skills for future health care providers.

The Physical Therapy Program has posted its newsletter and it’s worth reading. There are excellent features about alumna Joanne Posner-Mayer, PT, physical therapy students working at the DAWN Clinic in Aurora and a non-contact boxing class for people with Parkinson’s disease. The Physical Therapy Program is making significant contributions to the health and well-being of our community and training professionals who provide great care. 

Richard Johnson, MD, professor of medicine in the Division of Renal Diseases and Hypertension, and Eric Poeschla, MD, professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases, have been elected to the Association of American Physicians (AAP), an achievement that recognizes each physician for his substantial career accomplishments. Rick has focused on the effect of sugar and uric acid metabolism on aspects of obesity and renal failure, while Eric has established new mechanisms that underlie RNA viral infections. Congratulations to both on this well-deserved honor. 

Richard Zane, MD, chair of emergency medicine, and Jennifer Wiler, MD, MBA, associate professor and vice chair of emergency medicine, are co-authors with a colleague from Yale University of an article published last week in NEJM Catalyst. The article, “How the Freestanding Emergency Department Boom Can Help Patients,” poses ways that free-standing emergency rooms could transform payment and care processes. 

The Arts and Humanities in Healthcare Program will feature a presentation, “African Americans and American Medicine: Confronting a Painful Legacy,” by Matthew Wynia, MD, MPH, director of the University’s Center for Bioethics and Humanities, at noon Monday, Feb. 29, in the Fulginiti Pavilion. Matt’s presentation will be followed by two of our medical students, Ani Reddy and Derek Jones, who will talk about their personal commitment to diversity at the University of Colorado. 

And commuters to and from our Campus can rejoice just a little. RTD announced earlier this month that the 17th Place access to Interstate 225 reopened on Saturday, Feb. 13. 


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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