Dean's Weekly Message

October 6, 2014


Dear colleague: 


After a wet start, it looks like typical beautiful fall weather is here. What a gorgeous weekend!  Clear blue skies, cool mornings and a good win for the Denver Broncos. It followed a full week – five consecutive evenings out: Monday was the Medical Alumni Association board; Tuesday was the inaugural dinner of the Eugene S. Farley, Jr. Health Policy Center advisory committee; Wednesday, the Department of Pediatrics welcomed 124 new faculty at its annual dinner; Thursday was a reception and dinner with donors to the campus that included a great chamber music performance by a string quartet featuring Anthony Elias, MD, and Ellen Elias, MD; and Friday was a dinner for potential Branch campus faculty in Colorado Springs. Not quite full enough, Mary and I decided to have an early birthday dinner out downtown (her birthday is next weekend when we will be in Los Angeles for the Carousel of Hope Ball), and saw four of our senior faculty – Maggie Wierman, MD, Carl White, MD, Sally Stabler, MD, and Nanette Santoro, MD, at the restaurant before they headed over to the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. I’ll only have three nights out this week. 

Physicians on our faculty have been on the frontlines of two high-profile national stories about infectious diseases. First, here in Colorado, there has been a great deal of attention on a severe viral respiratory illness that hit scores of children. At least 10 of those children were later afflicted with muscle weakness. Several of our faculty, including Ann-Christine Nyquist, MD, MSPH, professor of pediatrics, Samuel Dominguez, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics, Joyce Oleszek, MD, associate professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation, and Teri Schreiner, MD, MPH, assistant professor of neurology, have been in the news helping people understand the condition, what we know and what we don’t. Our physicians, the state health department and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are investigating. 

The nation also has been warily watching the Ebola outbreak in Africa and last week there was the first known U.S. case with a man admitted to a Texas hospital, which prompted local news coverage about whether local hospitals could handle a case if it appeared here. Michelle Barron, MD, associate professor of medicine and medical director of infection prevention and control at University of Colorado Hospital, and Connie Savor Price, MD, associate professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Denver Health, said Denver-area hospitals are well-prepared with staff and resources to handle cases if they appeared here.

We received good news last week that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has awarded a Geriatrics Research, Education and Clinical Center (GRECC) to Colorado. It is the first GRECC funded by the VA in more than 20 years and I remember how disappointed we were when we were not selected in that competition. The proposal submitted by the School of Medicine’s Division of Geriatric Medicine and local VA leadership was selected from more than 10 other applications from across the country. The GRECC will provide up to $1 million to establish programs and add 12 new staff who will improve care for our country’s veterans. Congratulations to Robert Schwartz, MD, chief of the division of geriatric medicine and director of the Center on Aging, and the rest of the team who made this application successful.

Congratulations to April Armstrong, MD, MPH, associate professor of dermatology and vice chair of clinical research, for receiving a research funding award of $2 million from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI). There were 46 funding awards approved by the PCORI board of governors and April’s proposal to improve the quality of care via online services to people with chronic skin diseases was selected from the 490 submissions that responded fully to the funding announcement PCORI issued in February. Of note is that April was a recipient several years ago of one of the Colorado Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute’s Research Incubator awards, which I suspect may have given her a start on collecting the data that led to this successful grant.

The Academy of Medical Educators is sponsoring a new workshop series open to all faculty titled Leadership 101. The hands-on workshops are designed to give faculty a basic foundation of leadership skills in negotiation, conflict resolution, strategic planning and financial stewardship. The first workshop on Negotiation is 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Oct. 29. To sign up, use the Faculty Development Class Listing.

The University of Colorado Foundation last week published a nice article about Carmen Vandal, MD ’14, and the impact of the President’s Medical Scholarship. While doing her family medicine residency at Swedish Medical Center in Englewood, Carmen is busy organizing clothing drives, delivering strollers to new moms and making house calls to refugees. The President’s Medical Scholarship makes a big difference in the lives of students by rewarding their hard work and relieving some of the debt they face upon graduation, but this article shows how scholarships also ripple through our community. We are proud of our scholars, who make a difference in countless lives.


Have a good week,

Richard D. Krugman, MD
Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs and 
Dean, School of Medicine




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