Dean's Weekly Message

April 27, 2015


Dear colleague: 

Sloan Gibson, deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, paid a visit to Aurora last Monday to hold meetings concerning the construction of the new VA hospital adjacent to the Anschutz Medical Campus. As has been comprehensively reported in the media, the project is long-delayed and has far exceeded its original budget, prompting scrutiny from Congress and concern among the community of veterans. In our meetings with Deputy Secretary Gibson, top VA leadership expressed a philosophy of cooperation and we are hopeful that VA representatives will use this as an opportunity to participate in meetings with our campus leadership. There are many ways to provide care to our veterans that we can achieve by working together. While Deputy Secretary Gibson was here, we also asked for consideration of our campus’ need to re-open 17th Place to relieve traffic congestion on the east side of campus. His staff is supposed to report back in a couple of weeks.

Tuesday’s Executive Committee of the School of Medicine featured a presentation by Scott Arthur, vice chancellor for advancement, who reminded the committee of his office’s efforts to change the philanthropic conversation with those who give to our campus. Scott explained that he is moving the fundraising team away from a transactional approach that relies on explaining our campus needs to one that emphasizes building strong relationships that fulfill the hopes and dreams of our supporters. I think this approach matches the passion and commitment of the physicians and researchers at our School and offers the best direction forward at a time when we increasingly need to rely on philanthropic support.

The following day, the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus announced a major gift that demonstrates just how valuable such an approach can be. On Wednesday, the University announced that the Helen K. and Arthur E. Johnson Foundation is providing a $10 million grant to the Depression Center. In recognition of the gift, the CU Board of Regents voted on Friday, April 17, to rename the center the Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Depression Center. As Chancellor Don Elliman said in his announcement to campus, “This grant will enable the Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Depression Center to have an incredible impact on public understanding of the importance of mental health care and will enhance the research and treatment our center can provide.” The center has been at the forefront of promoting evidence-based approaches to diagnosing and treating mood disorders and offering an essential public service by building awareness that mental health is as essential to healthy living as physical health. We are grateful for this very generous support of our program.

Also at Tuesday’s Executive Committee, Judith Albino, PhD, president emerita and associate dean for strategic planning and development for the Colorado School of Public Health, and Marc Moss, MD, Roger S. Mitchell Professor of Medicine, offered a call for participation in the Leadership for Innovative Team Science Program(LITeS), which is offered annually by the Colorado Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute to a cohort of 28 to 30 senior and emerging leaders of the university. While researchers on our campus have been active in seeking opportunities to collaborate with one another, some recent reviewers of our programs have noted that in some areas the research grants we receive are tilted heavily toward individual awards. The LITeS program offers an opportunity to build relationships on our campus that can possibly lead to grants for cooperative projects, which can only make us stronger.

On Thursday and Friday, Chancellor Don Elliman, Vice President of Health Affairs Lilly Marks, UPI Executive Director Jane Schumaker and I participated in the retreat of the Children’s Hospital Colorado (CHCO) Board of Directors.  The focus of the retreat was to review the CHCO strategic plan for the next five years.  Chancellor Elliman, CHCO interim CEO Jena Hausmann and I presented, in panel format, our commitment to have the School of Medicine, UPI and CHCO work closely together to promote continued success in a time of dynamic change in the clinical environment.   

Researchers from the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes are featured in the current issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, which is a theme issue on Child Health. Georgeanna Klingensmith, MD, professor of pediatrics, is one of the authors contributing to a report on high-dose oral insulin in children at high risk for type 1 diabetes. That international team found that daily dose of insulin resulted in an immune response without hypoglycemia, pointing toward the need for further trials to see if it is possible to develop a vaccine for the disease. The authors also credited the late George Eisenbarth, MD, PhD, former executive director of the center, who died in November 2012, for bringing the U.S. researchers into this study.

In a separate article in the same issue of JAMA, a team of researchers from the School of Medicine led by Arleta Rewers, MD, PhD, associate professor of pediatrics, found an increase in the number of children, who at the time of diagnosis with type 1 diabetes, have diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), a life-threatening complication that involves dangerously high blood sugar and substances in the blood called ketones. Patients with the episodic condition can suffer long-term health damage. The incidence of DKA in youth at diagnosis of type 1 diabetes in Colorado between 1998 and 2012 increased by 55% (from 29.9% to 46.2%), suggesting a growing number of youth may experience delays in diagnosis and treatment.

The open enrollment period for employee benefits begins today, Monday, April 27. There is a two-week window to elect new benefits or re-enroll in existing ones. The University’s Employee Services office will be holding an open enrollment fair on the Anschutz Medical Campus on Thursday, April 30, in Education 2 South, on the Student Community Bridge from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. There will also be sessions to explain details on the same day. For faculty, officers, university staff and classified staff who are 50 percent or greater, the hour-long sessions will be at 9 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. in Education 2 North, Room 2106. The session for retirees and surviving spouses will be at 11 a.m. at the same location.

Congratulations to Benzi Kluger, MD, associate professor of neurology, who has been approved for a $2 million funding grant from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) for a study of palliative care for patients with Parkinson’s disease. Benzi was one of only 34 proposals that received funding from PCORI, which supports comparative clinical effectiveness research.

Congratulations also to Dan Theodorescu, MD, PhD, director of the University of Colorado Cancer Center and professor of urology and pharmacology, who earlier this month was awarded the Barringer Medal from the American Association of Genitourinary Surgeons for his distinguished contributions to urology. He was recognized at the association’s meeting in San Francisco. Dan has been involved in developing and testing of COXEN (CO-eXpression ExtrapolatioN), a radical new personalized medicine strategy that aims to predict which tumors will be sensitive to which drugs based on genetic analysis of tumor samples.

The Junior Faculty Career Promotion Retreat Day is Friday, May 1, beginning at 8:30 a.m. in RC1 North, Hensel Phelps Auditorium West. There are a series of workshops planned that offer advice on climbing the academic ladder, dealing with grant rejection and balancing work life with clinical/research effort. Postdocs, instructors and faculty from all schools on campus are welcome to attend. 

The BioFrontiers Institute on the University of Colorado Boulder is hosting a roundtable discussion on Monday, May 4, with Congresswoman Diana DeGette on the 21st Century Cures Initiative, a bipartisan legislative effort intended to spur biomedical research and streamline the clinical trials process. Our campus has been well-represented in previous discussions of this important legislation by Dan Theodorescu, MD, PhD, director of the CU Cancer Center, who joined a national panel in Washington, D.C., to discuss this matter last fall. This discussion will be in the Jennie Smoly Caruthers Biotechnology Building, Room A104, on the CU Boulder campus at 4 p.m. Seating is limited so RSVPs are requested.


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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