Dean's Weekly Message

March 21, 2016


Dear colleague: 

Our Class of 2016 medical students celebrated Match Day last Friday at a breakfast with family, friends and members of the CU School of Medicine community. Rob Winn, MD, a former associate professor of medicine at the School of Medicine and now professor of medicine at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago and associate vice president for health affairs at the University of Illinois Hospital and Health System, was the keynote speaker. Congratulations to the Class of 2016 and thanks to the Office of Student Life for organizing the celebration. 

I am pleased to announce the appointment of Suzanne Brandenburg, MD, as the new Director of Interprofessional Education on the Anschutz Medical Campus. Suzanne, a professor in the Department of Medicine, has been program director of the Internal Medicine Residency Program for the past 10 years and the Department’s vice chair for education since 2012. Suzanne practices ambulatory general internal medicine in the University of Colorado Hospital system and on the medicine wards at the Denver Veterans Affairs Hospital. Suzanne, who is a recognized leader in medical education, will start in her new position on May 1. 

Colorado Public Radio recently had a report on looming proposed budget cuts to Medicaid, the publicly funded health insurance program for low-income Coloradans. Even as the state’s economy grows, the state budget is constrained by limits on the revenue it can collect to support state programs. To make mandatory tax refunds in the upcoming fiscal year, state officials are considering a 23 percent cut in Medicaid reimbursement rates to primary care physicians. That cut hurts people who need medical help. For us, it also means an estimated decrease in Medicaid reimbursement of $13.4 million to our physician practice. Such cuts disproportionately affect children. About $8.8 million of that amount applies to health care coverage for children. The cut in state funding for Medicaid also jeopardizes a larger share of federal matching funding. 

State lawmakers have an option that would relieve pressure on the state budget. The Hospital Provider Fee is currently classified as revenue in the state’s general fund budget. On Feb. 29, the Colorado Attorney General’s office released an opinion determining that the fee could be classified as an enterprise for state budgeting purposes so that it would not be counted toward the state constitution’s limits on spending. While the reclassification has stirred a few lawmakers, there is bipartisan recognition from Colorado’s top elected leaders – the Democratic governor and Republican attorney general – that the change is legal and merited. There is also strong support for the change from Colorado’s business community. If you have an opinion about the desirability of the Hospital Provider Fee reclassification, I would recommend you contact your state legislator. 

Facebook Live Q&A with Kjell at 2 p.m. March 24. On Friday, March 25, Kjell will visit Children’s Hospital Colorado. We are fortunate to have Kjell, the only graduate of the University of Colorado School of Medicine to become a NASA Astronaut, visit. We also express our thanks to the Department of Emergency Medicine, the Office of Student Life and Children’s Hospital Colorado for helping to organize the events. 

Congratulations to Arezoo Bahramirad, a medical student in the Class of 2017, on receiving the Thomas Jefferson Award from the University of Colorado. The award recognizes faculty and students who exemplify the humanistic ideals associated with the third president of the United States. Arezoo was born and raised in Iran, earned an undergraduate degree in the Netherlands and a master’s degree in mathematics from the University of North Carolina Charlotte. She has been an active volunteer at food banks and health care sites and has been a leader in coordinating resources to provide mental health care for patients and student peers. 

U.S. News & World Report released its annual rankings of medical schools and other graduate programs last week. The University of Colorado School of Medicine was ranked No. 35 as a research institution and ranked 11th in the nation for primary care. Several of our programs continue to rank high: 4th in Pediatrics, 5th in Family Medicine, 5th in Physician Assistant Program, 6th in Rural Medicine and 15th in Physical Therapy Program. 

James Hill, PhDannounced on Friday that he is stepping down as executive director of the Anschutz Health and Wellness Center. I want to express my appreciation to Jim for his efforts to get the center launched and wish him well in his plan to devote more time to the Colorado Nutrition Obesity Research Center and his own research into weight management and behavior change. A committee led by Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Peter Buttrick, MD, will conduct a national search for a successor to lead the Anschutz Health and Wellness Center. 

The CU School of Medicine Clinical Effectiveness and Patient Safety (CEPS) Small Grants Program has been funding quality improvement projects at University of Colorado Hospital since 2007 and projects at Children’s Hospital Colorado since 2012. The program is now accepting Letters of Intent (LOIs) for innovative quality and safety initiatives that enhance skills and knowledge of healthcare providers, with the goals of improving patient safety and/or enhancing the quality and cost-effectiveness of health care delivery. Please contact the CEPS Program Manager or the visit the program website in the links provided for more information. The LOIs are due no later than 11:59 p.m. Sunday, April 3. 

The School of Medicine’s Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA) Chapter on March 8 selected new members for the national medical honor society.  Current AOA students selected new members based on academic achievements, scholarly activities, leadership, and community service.  Junior AOA members selected from the Class of 2017 are James Engeln, Daniel Hecht, Nicole Look, Arcadia Paine, Maithri Sarangam, and Alyssa Self.  House officer inductees are Jasmeet Dhaliwal, MD, (Emergency Medicine), Yihan Lin, MD, (Surgery), and Jill Liss, MD, (Ob/Gyn).  Faculty members elected are Anthony Oliva, MD, assistant professor of anesthesiology, School of Medicine Dean John Reilly, Jr., MD, and Chad Stickrath, MD, assistant dean for the School of Medicine’s Colorado Springs Branch. The induction banquet will be May 24, and will feature Stuart Linas, MD, professor of medicine, as the keynote speaker. Any questions about the chapter can be directed to the AOA Councilor, James M. Beck, MD, professor of medicine and vice chair of veterans affairs for the Department of Medicine, at   

An exhibition of paintings, “ISWASWILLBE: The Holocaust Series” by Geoffrey Laurence will be on display in the Fulginiti Pavilion Gallery beginning Sunday, April 3. An exhibit opening event will begin at 3 p.m. A conversation, entitled, “Art After the Holocaust: The Generation of Post-Memory,” between the artist and gallery curator Simon Zalkind will begin at 5 p.m. The exhibition, which runs through Aug. 4, is co-sponsored by the Mizel Museum and is open and free to the public. The exhibition is part of the Holocaust Genocide and Contemporary Bioethics Program, which will feature events on Monday, May 2, with Art Caplan, PhD, one of the country’s leading bioethicists and author of the book “When Medicine Went Mad: Bioethics and the Holocaust.” 

Larry Hergott, MD, senior scholar in creative writing at the Center for Bioethics and Humanities, has been awarded the American College of Physicians 2015 Annals Poetry Prize. His poem, “Tragedy of Shadows,” was judged the best poem of the year published in Annals of Internal Medicine. Also, another of Larry's poems, “On Gazing Out the Corner Window,” was published in the current issue of the Annals. 


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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