Dean's Weekly Message

June 13, 2016


Dear colleague: 

Marian Rewers, MD, PhD, professor of pediatrics and medicine and director of the Barbara Davis Center for Diabetes, reported last week that the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has renewed the Diabetes Autoimmunity Study in the Young (DAISY) with a five-year, $3.9 million grant. DAISY, which has been continuously funded since 1993, is following more than 2,500 children who have a high risk for type 1 diabetes to get a better understanding of the environmental factors that may contribute to the condition. The Barbara Davis Center has also been awarded a $1.2 million grant by the JDRF and The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust to develop the Autoimmunity Screening for Kids (ASK) Program. ASK seeks to develop and implement new screening tests for the two most frequent autoimmune diseases of childhood: type 1 diabetes and celiac disease. Initially, the program will be offered to children 2-17 years of age living in metro Denver. 

Marian Rewers is also co-author of a paper, “Environmental risk factors for type 1 diabetes,” published June 4 by The Lancet. In that article, Marian and Johnny Ludvigsson, MD, professor in the Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine at Linköping University in Sweden, survey a range of factors, including infections, diet and toxins affecting children in utero, perinatally and during early childhood, that may be contributing to the increased incidence of type 1 diabetes over the past 30 years. 

I travelled to Washington, D.C., last week with others who participated in the Colorado Capital Conference, an annual event organized by the University of Colorado and Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction and hosted by Sens. Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner. This year’s event featured Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey, John Cornyn of Texas, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Marco Rubio of Florida, Chuck Schumer of New York, , and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. 

Prior to attending the conference, I asked Kent Springfield, the University’s assistant vice president of research and federal relations, to arrange meetings with leaders at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md. We met with Gary Gibbons, MD, director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Griffin Rodgers, MD, director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, and Marie Bernard, MD, deputy director of the National Institute on Aging. We had productive conversations about the research activities here at the School of Medicine and I offered my support for the important work done by these institutes.

I also want to thank the Medical Alumni Association for organizing a dinner with some distinguished School of Medicine alumni who live and work in the Washington, D.C., area.  Among those joining us at dinner were Darrell Kirch, MD ’77, president and CEO of the Association of American Medical Colleges and Audrey Corson, MD ’82, MPH, a member of the School of Medicine Alumni Board of Directors. We are grateful for the support and ongoing engagement of all those who attended the dinner. 

Rural primary care preceptors will qualify for a state income tax credit under a bill signed into law last week by Gov. John Hickenlooper. The measure offers a $1,000 tax credit to qualifying taxpayers who help train medical, advanced practice nursing, physician assistant and dentistry students. Each year for the next three tax years, beginning in 2017, up to 200 taxpayers can qualify for the credit. Preceptors, who don’t get paid for the personalized instruction they give, are an important part of the training experience for many future medical professionals. We thank the University’s team at the state capital for working hard to pass this tax credit. Also, thanks to Mark Deutchman, MD, professor of family medicine and director of the School’s Rural Track, and to 2016 School of Medicine graduates Logan Mims, MD, and Andi Hudler, MD, who testified in support of this legislation. The Central Colorado Area Health Education Center posted a video of the Governor signing the billon its Facebook page. 

Mark Deutchman attended the bill-signing event in the Governor’s Office, but he’s headed out of metro Denver this week to conduct the Interdisciplinary Rural Immersion Week program with medical, physician assistant, nursing, pharmacy and veterinary medicine students in Sterling. Mark and his team have posted a video about the Rural Track and its importance to the School and our state. Andi Hudler, who testified in favor of the bill, is also featured in a separate video describing why rural life is important to her. 

UCHealth announced on Friday that it will be constructing a new hospital in Greeley. The UCHealth Greeley Hospital will provide 53 inpatient beds, an intensive care unit, an emergency department, operating rooms, advanced cardiology and a birth center. The hospital will be the anchor of a $185 million health campus project on 22 acres southeast of U.S. Highway 34 and 71st Avenue. 

Meryl Colton, a member of the medical school class of 2019, was featured in news reports this past week for her research on mortality rates among young Hispanic and black cancer patients. Meryl, working with Adam L. Green, MD, investigator at the CU Cancer Center and pediatric oncologist at Children's Hospital Colorado, found that those patients between ages 15 and 29 were more likely to die of their disease than white patients of the same age. Meryl presented the study at the American Society for Clinical Oncology annual meeting. 

Congratulations to University of Colorado School of Medicine faculty members who were last week named Boettcher Investigators in the Webb-Waring Biomedical Research Awards program. These awards support promising, early-career scientific researchers, allowing them to advance their independent research while competing for major federal and private awards. Each Boettcher Investigator receives a $235,000 grant to support up to three years of biomedical research. This year’s School of Medicine awardees are:

Wen-Yuan Elena Hsieh, MD, assistant professor of immunology and microbiology and pediatrics

  • Ethan G. Hughes, PhD, assistant professor of cell and developmental biology
  • Bernard L. Jones, PhD, assistant professor of radiation oncology,
  • Cristin Welle, PhD, assistant professor of neurosurgery
  • Hongjin Zheng, PhD, assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular genetics 


As we go about our week, let us remember those who died and were hurt in the terrible attack in Orlando on Sunday. Such attacks happen far too frequently in our country and leave wounds that are difficult to heal. When President Obama addressed the nation yesterday, he said the shootings target more than the individuals who were harmed. “This is a sobering reminder that attacks on any American — regardless of race, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation — is an attack on all of us and on the fundamental values of equality and dignity that define us as a country.” Let us work together to offer support, comfort and hope in the face of tragedy. 


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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