Dean's Weekly Message

October 26, 2015


Dear colleague: 

Vesna Todorovic, MD, PhD, MBA, has been named the chair of the Department of Anesthesiology and will be joining us here at the School of Medicine in January, succeeding Thomas Henthorn, MD, who has served as chair of the department since 2000. Vesna is currently the Harold Carron Professor of Anesthesiology and Neuroscience at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. She has been at University of Virginia since 2001. Prior to that she held faculty appointments at Washington University in St. Louis and practiced at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. She brings administrative experience, having served as vice chair of academic affairs for her department, and an impressive research portfolio. We are pleased to have her joining us and we are confident that she will make a significant contribution here.

At the School of Medicine Executive Committee on Tuesday, we discussed the Transformational Research Funding initiative and my goals for this effort. Earlier this month, the Dean’s Office received more than 60 letters of intent expressing interest in applying for the funding, which will be available for up to four of the proposals. We are interested in projects that will substantially advance knowledge in their selected field and be will be recognized nationally as important contributions. I expect that these programs will position CU as a leader in cutting-edge and emerging fields, attract extramural funding, help recruit and retain outstanding faculty, enhance education and training, and positively impact human lives and society in Colorado, the nation and the world.

We addressed several frequently asked questions from the Committee about the basis for selection of proposals. There are no predetermined favorites. The School plans to use external reviewers who will help evaluate the proposals. We are requiring that the funds be targeted predominantly at research done on the Anschutz Medical Campus because the primary funding sources – the academic enrichment fund from University Physicians, Inc., and the annual contribution from UCHealth – are generated by the excellent clinical work of our faculty on this campus. We are recommending that applicants look at one another’s letters of intent and work together on a combined application when that makes sense. A reminder: Applications are due on Monday, Dec. 7.

Also at the Executive Committee, Bob Anderson, MD, senior associate dean for education, offered an overview of our School’s curricular management, an ongoing effort with heightened interest now because of the upcoming accreditation review and site visit by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education in 2017. We will be using the data from surveys of graduates and interns that Bob presented to target areas where we can make improvements to the education we provide.

Carol Rumack, MD, associate dean for Graduate Medical Education, gave the 2014-15 annual institutional report to the Executive Committee. The School of Medicine is the largest of 13 sponsoring institutions in Colorado, training 76 percent of all the residents and fellows in the state. We are the 23rd largest of 676 institutions in the country in terms of the number of residents. The overall satisfaction with our training programs remains strong – 94 percent – in the 2015 survey. We intend to continue addressing issues of importance to the School and our community, such as enrollment of those from under-represented minorities.

The campus bookstore has moved from Building 500 to its new space in Education2 South. The new store will be managed by Barnes & Noble College.

David Engelke, PhD, assumed his duties as dean of the Graduate School on Oct. 1 and he shares his thoughts in an interview posted on CU Anschutz Today. David had been involved graduate training and administration at the University of Michigan since 1983 and he’s a welcome colleague here at the University of Colorado.

Congratulations to Robert Freedman, MD, chair of the Department of Psychiatry, on receiving the Lieber Prizefor Outstanding Achievement in Schizophrenia Research from the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation on Friday, Oct. 23. He was recognized for research examining the convergence between physiology and genetics in schizophrenia.

Stuart H Orkin, MD, chairman of pediatric oncology at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, will be delivering the annual Joseph W. St. Geme, Jr., MD Lecture on Friday, Oct. 30, from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. in Mt. Oxford Auditorium at Children’s Hospital Colorado. This Lectureship is sponsored by the Department of Pediatrics and the School of Medicine.  Orkin’s presentation is “Using Genetics, Epigenetics and Editing to Reactivate Fetal Hemoglobin for Therapy.”  The Joseph W. St. Geme, Jr., MD, Medical Student Award will also be presented at the lecture to Timothy Newton, MSIV, by his mentors Kathrin Bernt, MD, and Douglas Graham, MD, PhD.

The Leadership in Educational Administration Program (LEAP), directed by Eva Aagaard, MD, and Rita Lee, MD, is inviting applications for its training program. The program begins with a four-day course, followed by bimonthly workshops. The program offers leadership-skills development, journal club discussion and work time for projects. Applicants should have prior training in curriculum development and educational scholarship and must commit to attend and participate in all components of the program. Applications are due Friday, Dec. 11, and details are available on the LEAP website.

We welcomed Colorado Lt. Gov. Joseph Garcia to the Anschutz Medical Campus last Friday when he gave the keynote speech at the Department of Medicine Research Day. The Research Day is an annual showcase of achievements in basic and translational research on campus and a great opportunity for our campus to show the state’s leadership the contributions in medical science and community health accomplished here.

The Be Beautiful, Be Yourself gala to raise awareness and funding for the Global Down Syndrome Foundation, benefitting the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome on the Anschutz Medical Campus, was Saturday at the Colorado Convention Center. Several celebrity guests, including actor Beau Bridges, escorted models with Down syndrome at the fashion show. Actress Jamie Brewer, who has starred in the television program “American Horror Story,” received the 2015 Quincy Jones Exceptional Advocacy Award for serving as a role model. The gala has been a successful and enjoyable way to raise money for an important cause. One of the highlights of the evening was a video featuring 2015 Ambassador Clarissa Capuano, a second-grader who was described by a classmate: “I think she is a lot more awesome than she is different.”


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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