Dean's Weekly Message

July 25, 2016


Dear colleague: 

At Tuesday’s meeting of the School of Medicine Executive Committee, I presented findings from the faculty climate survey conducted earlier this year. A majority of survey respondents – 61 percent – said they find their work stressful. At the same time, a large majority – 84 percent – said they were proud to be members of their Departments. While there was significant variability across Departments, we found that a common theme is that Departments could improve communication about promotion, tenure and job performance. In all, 40 percent of the faculty responded to the survey. I have asked the School’s Office of Professionalism to prepare a summary report of the School-wide results that can be shared with all faculty. 

In the conversation about the survey results with the Department chairs on the Executive Committee, I was impressed by those chairs who showed a strong commitment to addressing concerns that were identified by the survey respondents. I commend those chairs who have already shared Department-level results with their faculty and started review processes to address concerns identified by survey respondents. I encourage Department chairs to share the Department-level responses with their faculty. We expect Department chairs to create plans to address concerns and we will be working with those chairs to ensure they follow up on those issues. 

Also at Executive Committee on Tuesday, Bob Anderson, MD, senior associate dean for education, offered an update on the preparations for next year’s site visit by our accrediting agency, the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME). Bob said 12 committees, composed of 125 members of faculty and staff, have compiled the data we are expected to report to the LCME and a first draft of the School’s self-study has been prepared. The data and self-study are undergoing a review process by multiple leaders on campus and this fall external consultants will look it over. Bob plans to send department chairs and faculty leaders briefing notes beginning in September and he is preparing a mock site visit in January. The LCME is scheduled to be here in early March.

Nichole Zehnder, MD, associate professor of medicine and assistant dean of admissions, outlined the details of the incoming class of MD students. There were a record number of applicants – 7,324 – for the 184 seats in the Class of 2020. Among the incoming students, 73 percent are from the state of Colorado. The class’s average GPA is 3.7 and on MCAT scores, the group ranked in the 85th percentile or 88th percentile, depending on which version of the test they took. The group is almost equally divided between men and women (48 percent female, 52 percent male) and 29 percent are from backgrounds underrepresented in medicine. We are fortunate to have such an exceptional class of students joining our School. The matriculation ceremony is scheduled for Friday, Aug. 12. 

David Bentley, PhD, professor of biochemistry and molecular genetics, presented an overview of the RNA Bioscience Initiative at the Executive Committee meeting. The RNA Bioscience Initiative is one of the five Transformational Research Funding projects funded earlier this year by the Dean’s Office. David explained that improved understanding of RNA molecules offers vast potential for diagnostic and therapeutic uses. This research program has significant potential for our campus and aims to build on the strong community of scholars we have in this area. David invited anyone interested in the effort to contact with two or three sentences that describe their interest in RNA biology. Those signing up will receive information about upcoming events. The initiative has already been working to recruit new faculty to campus and has launched a competitive grant program. 

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner visited the Anschutz Medical Campus last Thursday for a tour that included the Beginning to Advanced Radiology Lab, the Center for Advancing Professional Excellence (CAPE) simulation suite and a conversation with experts on rural health care and education. One of the highlights was the Senator’s tour of CAPE, where he accepted the challenge of participating in a simulation experience, donning a white coat and working with   other medical professionals on a mannequin that presented with a shoulder injury but experienced heart failure. Sen. Garner kept calm under pressure and, with some help, the mannequin-patient survived. The Senator’s visit to introduced him to innovative educational initiatives here – the BAR Lab is the only one of its kind in the country – and allowed for an enlightening discussion of the critical needs for improving the quality of health care in rural communities. I’d like to thank Nicole Restauri, MD, assistant professor of radiology and BAR Lab director, and Gerald Dodd III, MD, chair of radiology, and Eva Aagaard, MD, director of CAPE, Joey Failma, senior simulation clinical educator, and the team at CAPE for hosting the Sen. Gardner in our outstanding learning environments. Also, thanks to Mark Deutchman, MD, director of the School’s rural track, John “Fred” Thomas, PhD, director of Extension for Community Health Outcomes in Colorado (ECHO Colorado), Jay Shore, MD, associate professor of psychiatry, Centers for American Indian and Alaska Native Health, and Monica Mika, director of the Centennial Area Health Education Center, for the conversation about rural health care issues. 

A team led by Jack Westfall, MD, professor of family medicine, has received a $3 million award from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to help rural primary care practices improve care for rural patients with opioid addictions. The University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus was one of three institutions receiving AHRQ awards for this purpose. Opioid addiction has emerged as significant healthcare issue in recent years and the AHRQ notes that in Bent, Colorado, the rate of overdose death has more than doubled since 2002. Jack’s team will provide primary care practices with comprehensive training and support, including face-to-face practice coaching and the Project ECHO tele-training model. Project ECHO (Extension for Community Health Outcomes) is a statewide program of training and practice support to assist in managing complex health care problems. 

The School of Medicine has established the Ruth Fuller, MD, Lectureship, named in honor of Ruth Louvenia Fuller, MD, who was a member of the Department of Psychiatry. Ruth, who died in 2014, was on the School of Medicine faculty from 1978 to 2002. She practiced child psychiatry, wrote books and served on many boards and committees. Ruth was a trailblazer, graduating from high school at age 15, earning a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and physics from Howard University and ultimately graduating with honors from the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center. She initially went into private practice in Harlem before being recruited to Colorado. 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. Lecturers will focus on the need for cultural competency, inclusivity, and diversity in medicine. For more information or to support the Ruth Fuller, MD, Lectureship, contact Travis Leiker, associate director of alumni relations and advancement at 303-724-2517 or

Former member of the School of Medicine faculty Julius Gordon, MD, died on July 13, in Bryan, Texas. He was 86 years old. He was a noted cancer researcher and served as president of the faculty and professor of biochemistry and pathology. Our condolences to his friends and family. 

The Courage Classic, a bicycle ride to raise money for Children’s Hospital Colorado, was this past weekend and the School of Medicine was well-represented by faculty, staff and friends. This event supports efforts to provide pediatric healthcare excellence and last year riders, volunteers, sponsors and donors helped raise $2.5 million. Edith Zemanick, MD, and her son were featured on a 9News interview about the ride. Thanks to everyone who participated. 

All members of the Anschutz Medical Campus community are invited to join us at 5 p.m. Thursday, July 28, on Boettcher Commons, south of the Fulginiti Pavilion for Bioethics and Humanities, to show support for those hurt by the recent violent attacks in the U.S. and around the world. These shootings and terrorist incidents cause grief and pain and are intended to instill fear and distrust in one another. Even when such events are far away, they can have an effect on us and the lives of the patients we see, the colleagues we work with and the students on our campus. The School’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion is organizing the event, which will include reflection, poetry and an opportunity to share emotions in a supportive and inclusive environment. Please join us to show your support. 


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 →


If you would like to receive these emails directly, please contact  
To unsubscribe →

CMS Login