Dean's Weekly Message

November 21, 2016


Dear colleague: 

At last Tuesday’s meeting of the School of Medicine Executive Committee, Jeffrey Druck, MD, associate professor of emergency medicine and assistant dean of student life, presented a proposal to establish a Master’s in Medical Science degree that would be available to School of Medicine medical degree students who discontinue pursuing an MD after successfully completing the first two years of the program. Jeff explained that only one or two students per year are unable to finish their degrees, but the Master’s in Medical Science would recognize their effort to that point. Other medical schools, including those at Harvard University, University of Michigan, University of Southern California, Tulane University, Temple University, among others, offer a similar master’s degree to students who complete their pre-clinical coursework. Similarly, the Graduate School here at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus offers master’s degrees to students who complete all coursework and the comprehensive exam, but then decide not to complete the research necessary for a PhD. The Executive Committee recommended approval of the proposal, which still must be reviewed and approved by University leadership. 

David Schwartz, MD, chair of the Department of Medicine, gave the annual State of the Department address last Thursday, summarizing recent accomplishments and outlining plans to improve equity in the ranks of the department. The department also has released an annual report on its activities. This past fall, the department appointed Margaret Wierman, MD, professor of medicine in the Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Diabetes, to lead the department’s Strategic Initiative on Gender Equity.  David noted that the department has been doing an annual year-in-rank salary analysis for the past three years, using Association of American Medical Colleges benchmarks to identify potential salary inequities. But data from other sources, including the faculty climate survey conducted earlier this year by the School of Medicine, continue to identify gender equity as an area of concern within the department. This is an issue of vital importance to the School of Medicine and the department and it is encouraging to see the department’s leadership seriously address issues identified by the survey. 

Physicians on the School of Medicine faculty should consider registering with Doximity, an online professional networking site, so that they can participate in voting for specialty programs and hospitals used by U.S. News & World Report for its annual rankings. While some may question the merit of such ranking systems, we must acknowledge that they have an effect on the public perception of the quality of services we provide. To be eligible to vote through Doximity for next year’s U.S. News rankings, you must become a member by December 1. If you have not already joined, the process to claim your profile is simple. You already have a profile in Doximity because every U.S. physician is included. 

Children’s Hospital Colorado held a ground-breaking ceremony last week to celebrate the construction of a new hospital in Colorado Springs. The new pediatric hospital is scheduled to open in late 2018. It will include 40 medical surgery and pediatric intensive care beds, 36 neonatal intensive care beds, 22 exam rooms in the emergency department, five operating rooms, and room to grow. The groundbreaking ceremony featured Noah Devolve, a student at the Classical Academy school in Colorado Springs, who had open-heart surgery at Children’s Hospital Colorado when he was 18 days old, surgery at 14 years old to realign his knee and ankle and treatment at 15 years old for a concussion.  Another patient, Jordan Peak, described how doctors saved her life after she suffered a pulmonary embolism that triggered heart failure during a basketball practice three years ago. 

On Wednesday, Nov. 9, the School held its Dean’s Circle Dinner, an annual event to thank alumni for supporting the School of Medicine during the past fiscal year. Joining the alumni supporters for the evening was a talented musical quartet of School of Medicine students: Brian Adams, Priya Krishnan, Leah Bowen, and Andrew Eitel.  They performed several works, including Brahms’ Piano Trio, Pachelbel’s Canon in D, and even selections by Coldplay. I also want to thank Medical Alumni Association President, Wag Schorr, MD ’63, for hosting us at the Denver Country Club. 

The GI and Liver Innate Immune Program (GALIIP), supported by Transformational Research Funding awarded to team leaders Sean Colgan, PhD, Hugo Rosen, MD, and Ron Sokol, MD, recently concluded an award cycle seeking applications for Pilot and Feasibility research projects. The goal of the GALIIP Pilot and Feasibility program is to promote innovative and high-risk research aimed at understanding how the innate immune system molds the gastrointestinal and hepatic environment and how these processes influence organ function, mucosal immunity, innate host defense, acute and chronic inflammation, and microbial pathogenesis.  The request for applications yielded 24 excellent applications, and one-year awards were made to the following eight recipients:  Ed de Zoeten, MD, PhD; Peter Dempsey, PhD; Kristine Erlandson, MD, MS; Blair Fennimore, MD; Dan Kao, MD, PhD; Eric Pietras, PhD; Shikha Sundaram, MD, MSCI; Clyde Wright, MD.  

The University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus has issued a call for judges for the 31st Annual Student Research Forum. The Forum is intended as a campus-wide student research showcase and includes research from all schools on campus. The research forum poster presentations are Tuesday, Dec. 13, in Education 2 North and South. The registration for the event begins at noon with session one at 1 p.m. and session two beginning at 2:15 p.m. Faculty judges can sign up on the online call for judges. Questions can be addressed to

The Foundations of Doctoring is seeking small group facilitators for an abdomen and endocrine physical exam session on Tuesday, Dec. 6. The session is from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., with a faculty development session that begins at noon. Faculty will be working with second-year medical students and will be paired with a patient with diabetes or thyroid disease or with a standardized patient portraying abdominal pain. Facilitators can sign up online.  If you have questions contact Meleah Himber, Foundations of Doctoring Administrator, at 303-724-6421 or email

The Zimbabwe AIDS Treatment Assistance (ZATA) Project is holding a sale of original paintings by African artists. ZATA was established by the faculty and staff from the CU School of Medicine’s Department of Medicine Division of Infectious Diseases in 2004. ZATA has raised over $300,000 for research and clinical care at its partner site, the Department of Medicine/Clinical Research Center at the University of Zimbabwe College of Health Sciences. The artwork has been discounted for this sale and is on display at the Health Sciences Library, Nov. 28 – Dec. 9, to view and purchase. 

Last week, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, MD, released a report, Facing Addiction in America, providing a summary of the impact of substance abuse on the health and welfare of our country. In an interview on National Public Radio, Murthy said that more people use prescription opioids than use tobacco and that there are more people in the U.S. with substance abuse disorders than people with cancer. The University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus has an important leadership role to play in addressing issues of behavioral health and their widespread impact on communities and the health care system. With significant government and foundation grant support, our faculty and staff are focusing on ways to improve the access to and quality of behavioral and mental health care. One example is a $1 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to establish a technical assistant program for designing policies that help integrate behavioral health. In May 2016, the University announced the creation of the National Behavioral Health Innovation Center with a $10 million, five-year commitment from The Anschutz Foundation. These are important programs that will help us set the pace for improving the lives of the people of Colorado and across the country.


Have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.

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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