Dean's Weekly Message

September 22, 2014


Dear colleague: 

What has been a very nice summer officially ends tonight with the fall equinox. September 22 has always been a day to celebrate in my family. My late mother was born on that day in 1912 and my fifth of six grandsons has his fourth birthday today. The past week was longer than usual since I crossed back over the International Date Line coming back from Japan on Wednesday to face a Thursday and Friday with meetings and events beginning at 7:30 a.m. each morning to an evening dinner Thursday to honor the Physical Therapy Program Scholarship recipients, and then an evening at the symphony Friday with more than 200 medical alumni and students. That last event was terrific. Jerry Kern, CEO and co-chair of the board of the Colorado Symphony, welcomed us all, reminded us that the symphony has $10 student tickets available to our medical students for any of its performances, and thanked us for making the evening a sellout at Boettcher Concert Hall.  The performance of Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy and his Ninth Symphony was fabulous.   

The Executive Committee had a special guest at its meeting last Tuesday: Liz Concordia, president and CEO of University of Colorado Health. The committee also heard reports on two important initiatives: continuing education and professionalism. We are working to develop the support for volunteer clinical faculty with our maintenance of certification program, a benefit that would recognize these volunteers’ contribution to the education of a new generation of physicians. The School’s Office of Professionalism will help address issues related to treating learners with respect. Executive Committee members asked several good questions that will help advance efforts with both of these programs. 

For those who haven’t yet had a chance to meet and hear Liz Concordia, she is holding a physician gathering on Thursday, Sept. 25, beginning at 5 p.m. in the Anschutz Inpatient 2 Conference Center. I encourage you to go if you can. 

Nominations for the 2015-2016 Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine (ELAM) Fellowship are now being accepted. ELAM’S yearlong program develops the professional and personal skills needed to lead and manage in today’s complex health care environment, with special attention to the particular challenges facing women faculty in leadership positions. More than 700 women leaders have participated in the program since its inception in 1995. The University of Colorado has been represented in each fellowship class for the past eight years. Nominations, including a CV and a short letter of interest, are due to by Tuesday, Oct. 7. 

The Health Acceleration Challenge is seeking applications through Monday, Sept. 29. This is an opportunity to share ideas that have the potential to improve health care delivery. The goal of the program is to help move good ideas faster into the health care marketplace. Sponsored by the Forum on Health Care Innovation, which is a collaboration between Harvard Business School and Harvard Medical School, the program seeks ideas that improve quality and reduce costs. The finalists will be invited to an invitation-only conference in April 2015 and will split a $150,000 award. 

A major report from the Institute of Medicine, “Dying in America: Improving Quality and Honoring Individual Preferences near the End of Life,” was released last week. The report finds that improving quality and availability of medical and social services for patients and their families could enhance quality of life through the end of life and contribute to a more sustainable care system. Jean Kutner, MD, MSPH, associate dean for clinical affairs at the School of Medicine and chief medical officer at University of Colorado Hospital, served on the 21-member committee that authored the report, which attracted attention in the media

Dan Theodorescu, MD, PhD, is lately becoming a regular in my weekly email, thanks to his recent testimony in Washington, D.C. This week, though, he’s here because of a CU Cancer Center research study published in Nature. The research team found a new way to block the activity of a protein that is known to drive cancer growth. Dan offered a particularly vivid description of how to understand the approach: “When you want to keep an alligator from biting you, you can tie its mouth shut. We took another approach – we put a stick in its mouth to hold it open.” 

The CU Cancer Center is also celebrating a bequest that will support research and we celebrate with them. Benefactor Sandra “Sandy” Saffer made bequest gifts that will result in at least $2.7 million to create new positions and fund new projects here on the Anschutz Medical Campus. Prior to this bequest, the Saffer family supported the Cancer Center through an endowed chair in lymphoma research in memory of Sandy’s husband Morton, who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 1997 and treated at the University of Colorado. Morton lived until 2007, which Sandy credits to the excellent care he received at CU. We are grateful for Sandy’s generosity and we know that her gift will have a positive impact. 

Congratulations to James Borgstede, MD, professor of radiology, who was installed earlier this month as president of the International Society of Radiology. 

The School of Medicine was well represented earlier this month at the Alliance of Academic Internal Medicine meeting in Washington, D.C., with at least 18 faculty members attending and/or making presentations. Rita Lee, MD, course director of the LEADS (Leadership Education Advocacy Development Scholarship) track, and Diana Mancini, MD, associate program director of the internal medicine residency, were highlighted during the final plenary session. It is always rewarding to hear our faculty members are recognized by peers for their innovative approaches to education. 

Jeanne Dise-Lewis, PhD, died Thursday, Sept. 18, following a battle with liver cancer. Jeanne joined the Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation in 1985 after completing her PhD at the School of Medicine. She is nationally and internationally recognized for her study of neuro-cognitive recovery in children and adolescents who have sustained a traumatic brain injury. Her "BrainStars" curriculum to re-integrate children back into their school and community is used worldwide. Memorial services will be held Sunday, Sept. 28 at 3 p.m., at Horan & McConaty, 1091 S. Colorado Blvd. 

The School of Medicine’s website has a new look today. We've eliminated the blue background and replaced it with a white design. This change affects all School of Medicine websites. Please report any problems to

Finally, last week, while I was in Japan, several of us who were attending the International Congress on Child Abuse and Neglect meetings took an afternoon to visit Hiroshima. It was an extraordinarily sobering experience. The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park with its monuments and shrines, the still-standing prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall, which was right under the atomic bomb blast, and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum leave one without words. As an American walking through room after room of the remnants and relics of the people including hundreds of Japanese school children who died that morning gives new meaning to feeling self-conscious. The museum does point out that Japan was the aggressor in World War II by bombing Pearl Harbor on Dec. 8, 1941, and that U.S. officials considered using the bomb the best of four difficult alternatives to try to end a very long war. 


It is good to be home.  Hard game yesterday, but clearly the two best teams in the NFL played in it…. 


Have a good week, 

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



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