Dean's Weekly Message

September 29, 2014


Dear colleague: 

I am writing again at 30,000 feet on a Sunday afternoon; this time after 48 hours in Atlanta where we helped celebrate a four-year-old grandson’s birthday. It was a weekend filled with building Lego bulldozers, dump trucks and excavators as well as playing a variety of different games with him and his six-year-old sister. The commitment to be there meant that I missed the annual Children’s Hospital Colorado gala, but I am told that it was a very nice event and, as it always does, raised a lot of money for the hospital.  

I began the week last Monday with breakfast with Patty Gabow, MD, CEO emerita of Denver Health and professor emerita of our medical school, hearing about her Bellagio (Italy, not Las Vegas) experience and what she has been up to since she stepped down a couple of years ago. It is nice to see how well she is doing. At noon that same day, Bob Anderson, MD, senior associate dean for education, and I had the first of our lunches with our medical students.  The formalin odor that accompanied several of them reminded me of 5 p.m. 51 years ago this week (October 4) that I smelled that way riding up the elevator at the NYU medical school dormitory to meet the young woman who is now my spouse.    

At a breakfast downtown on Tuesday, CU President Bruce Benson announced that Don Elliman will serve as chancellor of the Anschutz Medical Campus rather than dividing his time and energy as chancellor of University of Colorado Denver’s downtown campus and the Anschutz Medical Campus. Chancellor Emeritus Jerry Wartgow, PhD, will be returning as interim leader of the CU Denver downtown campus while the university conducts a national search for a full time chancellor for that campus. Lilly Marks, our esteemed executive vice chancellor here at the Anschutz Medical Campus until the end of this year, will continue as the university’s vice president for health affairs so she can step away from many of the day-to-day campus management responsibilities and will focus on strategic and clinical enterprise issues, retain her health system board position and represent our campus on various national committees and boards. Don has been a strong advocate for our campus and will help it continue to grow. Lilly has been a tremendous leader and a faithful friend whose wonderful vision, tireless attention to detail and commitment to hard work has helped us build one of the best academic medical campuses in the country. I’m glad she will still be around to support both Don in his new job and my successor even as she reduces her work load. As she said Tuesday, she still wants to work, but just a little less. For most people, that still equates to more than a full time job.  For those who worried about the seeming suddenness of this announcement, know that Lilly and I began talking about our transitions two years ago. We agreed that I would need to transition first, and that process is well under way. 

Last Wednesday, the School of Medicine announced that it is joining with Colorado State University and the National Institute of Radiological Sciences in Japan to conduct a feasibility study on whether to construct the nation’s first carbon-ion radiotherapy research and treatment facility in Aurora. The project is a significant collaboration between our institutions and it gives us an opportunity to evaluate the best way to develop a treatment that has been available only in Europe and Japan. Our deliberative approach will allow us to consider how to pursue the best science and build stronger bonds with colleagues at Colorado State University. A carbon-ion facility would provide significant research opportunities and the ability to treat cancer in humans and animals. 

Also Wednesday, I met with several associate deans from Wright State University’s Boonshoft School of Medicine. They wanted to learn more about our rural track because Ohio, like many states, is struggling to get physicians into rural communities. Mark Deutchman, MD, associate dean for rural health, had invited them for a two-day visit. In talking with them, it reinforced for me how fortunate we have been to be the only public school of medicine in Colorado. Five of the seven medical schools in Ohio are public, and they all have their own territory which means that if only a couple of them are interested in rural health, the legislature is not likely to help much.  

Congratulations to V. Michael Holers, MD, professor of medicine, who leads one of the 11 research groups awarded grants by the National Institutes of Health to establish the Accelerating Medicine Partnership in Rheumatoid Arthritis and Lupus Network.  Michael was also named one of the two leaders of the network’s leadership center. 

Jeffrey Kieft, PhD, associate professor of biochemistry and molecular genetics and an early career scientist with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, is featured in the fall issue of the HHMI Bulletin magazine. The feature offers insight into his lab’s research into viral RNAs and describes his approach to research: “Perseverance and attention to detail matter.” 

Sometimes holding open the mouth of an alligator with a stick is more than a metaphor. Last week I mentioned that Dan Theodorescu, MD, PhD, director of the CU Cancer Center, used that description to understand his research team’s way of blocking the activity of a protein known to drive cancer growth. It turns out a research team on our campus led by Daniel Tollin, PhD, associate professor of physiology and biophysics, literally put a stick in a gator’s mouth to hold it open while researching how alligators locate sound sources. Their paper in the Journal of Experimental Biology even has a photo to prove it. (See page 1103.) It’s always great to hear about the amazing research going on here. 

The American Nurses Credentialing Center Magnet surveyors arrived at University of Colorado Hospital (UCH) for a four-day visit this morning. This designation is important and has been a terrific “magnet” for recruiting nurses as well as other health professionals to UCH. I had the opportunity to be part of the opening session which seemed to go well.  A lot of work goes into these applications! 


Have a good week,

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



"What’s Going On Here" is an email news bulletin from Richard Krugman, MD, Dean of the CU School of Medicine, that is distributed to inform University of Colorado School of Medicine faculty members about issues pertaining to the School’s mission of education, research, clinical care and community service. See the UCH-Insider →

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