Dean's Weekly Message

May 9, 2016


Dear colleague: 

On behalf of the School of Medicine and the University of Colorado Cancer Center, I and Dan Theodorescu, MD, PhD, director of the Cancer Center, joined several other people to celebrate the signing of House Bill 16-1408at Gov. John Hickenlooper’s office on Wednesday morning. The bill is an important contribution to the cancer research efforts on the Anschutz Medical Campus and we are grateful to the legislature, particularly bill sponsors, Rep. Bob Rankin and Sen. Pat Steadman, and Gov. Hickenlooper for their support. Lawmakers this year created a new formula for the allocation of the annual payment received by the state as part of the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement. Under the new formula, the CU Cancer Center will receive $1.75 million and it is the first time the state is allocating such funding for cancer research at the CU Cancer Center.

On Tuesday, May 3, I joined Chancellor Don Elliman, Gates Center for Regenerative Medicine Director Dennis Roop, PhD, and Ginger Borges, MD, MMSc, deputy division head of medical oncology, at a reception for the Daniel and Janet Mordecai Endowed Chair in Cancer Stem Cell Biology. The reception and luncheon gave us the opportunity to thank Janet Mordecai and her family for their generosity and to recognize the inaugural recipient of the chair, Antonio Jimeno, MD, PhD. Antonio has been an innovative scientist whose research has led to humanized animal models, a breakthrough reported last year in Oncogene. Gifts like this one from the Mordecai family advance science and improve clinical care and help us attract and retain excellent researchers. 

The University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus has received a $9 million gift from an anonymous donor to support the Head and Neck Cancer Research program. In announcing the gift last week, Vice Chancellor of Advancement Scott Arthur recognized the longstanding relationship between the donor family and David Raben, MD, professor of radiation oncology. We are thankful for the gift and we are hopeful that it will speed progress for therapies for head and neck cancer. 

Robert Freedman, MD, chair of psychiatry, announced last week at the department’s meeting that he will be retiring effective Aug. 31, 2016. Bob joined the University of Colorado faculty in 1978 as assistant professor of psychiatry and pharmacology and he became chair of psychiatry in 2000. Last October, he was awarded the Lieber Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Schizophrenia Research by the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation for “pioneering research that examines the convergence between physiology and genetics in schizophrenia.” In 2012, his book “The Madness Within Us: Schizophrenia as a Neuronal Process,” was published by the Oxford University Press. We have been fortunate to have such a distinguished national leader as chair of our department. As noted by the foundation: “Under his leadership, investigators at the Institute for Children’s Mental Disorders, which he co-founded in 1999, have discovered genetic variants that affect the risks for serious psychiatric illnesses, including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. These findings have led to new investigational treatments, currently in FDA-approved trials, for the treatment of schizophrenia in adults, and for administration to pregnant women and their newborn children to prevent abnormalities in early brain development that may lead to mental illness later in life.” 

Congratulations to Nee-Kofi Mould-Millman, MD, assistant professor of emergency medicine, who has been selected to take part in the Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Program. Nee-Kofi’s project, “Implementing a Novel Prehospital Shock Care Training Program in a Resource-Constrained African Setting,” will be conducted at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. The Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Program, now in its third year, is designed to avert Africa’s brain drain, build capacity at the host institutions, and develop long-term, mutually beneficial collaborations between universities in Africa and the United States and Canada. It is funded by Carnegie Corporation of New York and managed by the Institute of International Education in collaboration with United States International University-Africa in Nairobi, Kenya. 

Congratulations to Jennifer Wiler, MD, MBA, associate professor and vice chair of emergency medicine, who later this week will be receiving the Outstanding Mid-Career Achievement Award from the Academy for Women in Academic Emergency Medicine. 

A reminder that Open Enrollment runs through Friday, May 13. You can select new CU benefits plans or do nothing to stick with the ones you currently have for another year. Details are available at the Open Enrollment webpage

We offer our condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Nancy Zahniser, PhD, professor emerita of pharmacology, who died last Thursday. Plans for a memorial have not yet been made. Nancy joined the Department of Pharmacology as a postdoctoral fellow in 1977 and was promoted to professor in 1991. During a highly productive research career, Nancy was principal investigator on more than 30 extramural peer-reviewed grants, published extensively and was internationally recognized especially in her area of greatest expertise, which was dopamine receptor function.  She received many awards including the PhRMA Foundation Award of Excellence in Pharmacology/Toxicology and the University of Pittsburgh Distinguished Alumna Award further showing the high esteem in which her research was held by her peers. Andrew Thorburn, chair of pharmacology, also noted that Nancy excelled as a mentor, training more than 30 students and postdocs and that she had a significant impact in all aspects of our education mission, including serving for five years as associate dean for research education in the School of Medicine.


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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