Dean's Weekly Message

November 11, 2019

Dear colleague:

Lilly Marks, vice president for health affairs for the University of Colorado, gave the plenary address on Sunday at the annual convention of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). The speech focused on the challenges ahead for academic medical centers in an era of growth and consolidation for clinical providers amid increased pressure from lawmakers and consumers to control costs. Lilly noted that these forces put at risk the fundamental priorities of education and research that are core to the mission of academic medicine. She called on those gathered at the meeting in Phoenix to “preserve the soul of academic medicine.” While these challenges are not easy to address, she emphasized that it is essential for all of us to have courage, tenacity, and faith in our ability to make the changes necessary for the continued vitality of our indispensable, integrated missions. It was an inspiring talk that marked the conclusion Lilly’s service as chair of the AAMC. Her leadership at CU and at the AAMC has been crucial for our success and we celebrated her many contributions at a gathering on Saturday during the conference.

University of Colorado Medicine, our faculty practice, held its annual member meeting on Wednesday, November 6, to discuss its results for the previous fiscal year and the outlook for the current year. The practice continued to grow in fiscal 2019, increasing total revenue by 7.9 percent. Productivity of our practice providers grew by 8.3 percent. CU Medicine has grown because our faculty are extraordinarily dedicated and productive, offering the best care to as many patients as possible. In fiscal 2019, we cared for 592,442 patients. CU Medicine also constantly works to strengthen our clinical partnerships and to make strategic investments. As our hospital partners have expanded their roles in the community, we have collaborated. In addition, we have worked with the state Medicaid program to extend specialty care to patients throughout the state. Our team at CU Medicine provides outstanding expertise in managing revenue cycles and negotiating contracts with payers, providing a stable foundation for our physicians and advanced practice providers to provide care. The results are significant sources of support for the CU School of Medicine. In recent years, our faculty practice has endowed chairs and this year is providing $1 million in scholarship funding for our students. I would like to thank our faculty and the team at CU Medicine, including our past executive director Jane Schumaker and her successor Brian T. Smith.

Congresswoman Diana DeGette visited the Anschutz Medical Campus last Wednesday to hear about the research and innovations of CU School of Medicine faculty. Her first stop was the Gates Biomanufacturing Facility, which provides cell-based therapies and protein biologics for use in preclinical investigations and clinical trials. Our campus is fortunate to have this valuable resource, which is one of six in the country with the capacity to manufacture both protein- and cell-based therapies. Joining us for the conversation was Diane Gates Wallach, whose leadership with the Gates Frontiers Fund has been instrumental in supporting the facility and the Gates Center for Regenerative Medicine. During the presentation to Rep. DeGette, Dennis Roop, PhD, director of the Gates Center, explained that his work helps to find ways to treat a skin blistering condition, epidermolysis bullosa (EB). In a partnership with researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine and Columbia University Medical Center, the effort includes production of stem cells at the Gates Biomanufacturing Facility. Dennis also mentioned that the research on EB is the only project in the country funded twice under the Regenerative Innovation Project created by the 21st Century Cures Act, landmark legislation that was co-sponsored by Rep. DeGette.

After that tour, Rep. DeGette visited two laboratories in Research 1 North. First, she went to CellSight, which is a collaborative of scientists in the Department of Ophthalmology, who are working to grow retinal cells that one day may be used to treat conditions that cause blindness. Then, she met with Emily Bates, PhD, associate professor of pediatrics, and her student Yunus Ozekin to hear about their research to understand the molecular mechanisms that lead to birth defects such as cleft palate. Their previous research has led them to study the developmental consequences in mice of vaping nicotine. These studies may help change regulations on vaping. Many thanks to Rep. DeGette and to Dennis, Emily, Yunus, and the team at CellSight for presenting outstanding examples of the work done here on the Anschutz Medical Campus.

The Anschutz Medical Campus website for clinical trials has been updated to make it easier for potential participants to find research studies. The new website offers a list of research studies by category, in addition to a search tool. For each study listed, there is a description of the primary objective, the name of the principal investigator, some study details, and a link to a form to apply to participate in the study. The new website for research studies was created by a partnership between the School of Medicine and the University Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and we ask that efforts to recruit study participants be directed to this new website, ResearchStudies.CUAnschutz.edu. For this effort to succeed, we need all investigators conducting studies to ensure that their information is up to date in OnCore, the clinical trial management system we use on the Anschutz Medical Campus. Please refer to this guide for more information, including a listing of the fields in OnCore which correspond to the fields on the website. Questions should be directed to ResearchStudies@CUAnschutz.edu

The University celebrated the creation of the Joanne Posner-Mayer Endowed Chair in Physical Therapy with a reception Tuesday, November 5. More than 100 people gathered at the Fulginiti Pavilion to honor Joanne and to welcome the inaugural recipient of the chair, Michael Harris-Love, PT, MPT, DSc, who joined the School of Medicine earlier this year. Joanne is a 1973 graduate of our PT program and she has had a successful career as a physical therapist and entrepreneur, pioneering the use of Swiss Balls in the fitness market. Her devotion to our program is remarkable and we are grateful for her generosity.

Nominations for the Steven Fadul Award are now being accepted. The award is an annual prize of $1,500 given to an outstanding PRA or other member of the School’s technical research staff. Applications must include a nomination letter with a description of the nominee’s job history that addresses how the nominee meets the selection criteria. In addition, the application must include supporting letters from one to three references. The nomination letter should be no more than one page. Send the materials to Fadul.Award@ucdenver.edu.‚Äč Steve worked in School of Medicine laboratories for 30 years, where he distinguished himself as quick learner, who was dependable, careful, and accurate in his work, self-directed, and professional. He was technically competent, but equally as important, he made people feel comfortable and welcome, and he was very generous with his time and his help. Applications are due by Friday, November 22.

The Consortium for Fibrosis Research & Translation (CFReT), which is one of the School of Medicine’s Transformational Research Funding projects, was cited last week in an announcement by CU Boulder as an example of how faculty and administrators from our campus are working with colleagues at CU Boulder to expand research collaborations. The Transformational Research Funding projects were created in 2016 and they represent a major investment by the School in scientific advancements in human health. CFReT’s achievements have included many scholarly works to help us understand fibrotic disorders and offering potential treatment targets for patients with fibrotic diseases. The CU Anschutz Medical Campus collaboration with CU Boulder on expanding research opportunities will consider ways to streamline processes, use seed grants to spur early collaborations, help faculty rapidly respond to federal research opportunities and increase connections between the two campuses for joint public and private proposal submissions.

The Center for Women’s Health Research hosted its 11th annual Women’s Health Research Day on Tuesday, November 5, featuring keynote speaker Carolyn Mazure, PhD, professor of psychiatry and psychology at Yale School of Medicine and founder and director of Women’s Health Research at Yale. Women’s Health Research Day celebrates research focused on women’s health, and sex and gender differences, and gives faculty from our campus, CU Boulder, University of Colorado Colorado Springs, and Colorado State University an opportunity to present their latest findings to peers and senior scientists in a judged poster session. Congratulations to the winners who are posted on the Women’s Health Research Day website.

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.  For clinical news and patient stories from UCHealth, please visit UCHealth Today

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