7th in the NationRanked among "Best Pediatrics Programs" in 2022 by U.S. News & World Report
7th in the NationRanked among "Best Pediatrics Programs" in 2022 by U.S. News & World Report
24 SectionsThe strength of the Department of Pediatrics rests in part on the broad range of our subspecialty sections and related programs.
900+ Faculty MembersThe Department has over 900 full-time faculty members and more than 500 volunteer clinical faculty to help carry out our mission.
Residency ProgramThe department trains approximately 100 pediatric resident physicians, in addition to medical students and physician assistants.
Fellowship ProgramsWe train over 250 fellows in over 60 subspecialties, 33 of which are ACGME-accredited programs.
Dear Faculty and Friends,
Welcome to the July edition of the Department of Pediatrics Newsletter. Here you will find a sampling of all the amazing activity happening within the Department of Pediatrics and at Children’s Hospital Colorado. Thanks to all our talented faculty, trainees, and staff who make this the best Pediatrics Department in the country!
The month of June brought us the joy of Pride Month and the long overdue recognition of Juneteenth as a state holiday in Colorado and one supported by the University of Colorado systemwide. Our Department deeply values diversity, equity, inclusion, and dignity for all, and in our efforts for excellence across all mission areas, we recognize that differences make us and the community we serve better and stronger. June also delivered the appalling Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Together with the Department’s Vice Chair and Section Head leaders, we stand firmly in support of the statements made by the Anschutz Medical Campus leadership and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
End of Leadership Era for ACCORDS
Allison Kempe, MD, MPH (Professor, Section of General Pediatrics), the founding Director of the Adult and Child Center for Outcomes Research & Delivery Science (ACCORDS), has announced her decision to step down from her leadership role this fall. We have been incredibly fortunate to have had Dr. Kempe at the helm of ACCORDS over the past eight years, where she had the vision, insight and drive to create a unique Center focused on health services research, outcomes research and implementation science. The Department of Pediatrics has benefitted from a steady stream of ACCORDS based trainees and T3/T4 research collaborations among our faculty. We thank Dr. Kempe for her dedication and service in building these areas of science and look forward to her continued work as a faculty member and researcher. Dr. Kempe’s transition will allow her to dedicate more time to her research agenda, spend more time with her family, and, importantly for the Department, enable her to continue to provide mentorship support to a deep group of outcomes research focused faculty at both the junior and established levels. The Dean’s office is currently assembling a search committee to select a new ACCORDS director. Please join me in thanking Dr. Kempe for her outstanding leadership and enduring contributions to the University, the School of Medicine, the Department of Pediatrics, and our community-based research partners.
“Retirement” for Schmitt
An unstoppable force of nature, Barton Schmitt, MD (Professor, Section of General Pediatrics), has announced his plans to move to Professor Emeritus status. Dr. Schmitt will remain a teaching presence in the Child Health Clinic while also continuing to write telehealth protocols for nurses and parents. Dr. Schmitt is collecting memories, stories and photos relating to his remarkable 52-year career. Please send those to him directly at: email@example.com.
Cason-Wilkerson Selected for OHD PRIDE Program
Congratulations to Rochelle Cason-Wilkerson, MD (Assistant Professor, Section of Nutrition) on her selection as a Faculty Fellow in the prestigious National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) funded Obesity Health Disparities PRIDE (OHD PRIDE) program at the University of Houston. OHD PRIDE is one of several national programs designed to increase diversity among individuals engaged in health-related research. The mentored program offers research experiences, skills development, and grant writing training for junior faculty from diverse backgrounds. As a faculty fellow, Dr. Cason-Wilkerson will complete a comprehensive two-year program providing core skills training in research methods, scientific communication, and grantsmanship associated with community-based investigations addressing obesity disparities.
Witkowski Awarded NIH Career Transition Award
Matthew Witkowski, PhD (Assistant Professor, Section of Hematology, Oncology, and Bone Marrow Transplant) has been awarded a 3-year, $555,000 career transition award (K22-CA258520) from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) for his project titled, “Dissecting the Functional Role of Monocytes in B-cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Survival.” The goal of Dr. Witkowski’s project is to determine the precise function of leukemia-associated nonclassical monocytes in supporting B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL) survival and establish new immune-based therapeutic approaches that improve the efficacy of conventional B-ALL therapies. NCI’s career transition award (K22) program provides support to outstanding newly trained basic or clinical investigators to develop their independent research skills through a two-phase program. Support is also provided for an initial mentored research experience, followed by a period of independent research.
Spencer Awarded NIAID Research Project Funding
Lisa Spencer, PhD (Associate Professor, Section of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition) has been awarded a 4-year, $1.9 million research project award (R01-AI168134) from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) for her projected titled, “Cellular and molecular mechanisms of mucosal organ crosstalk in allergic diseases.” Dr. Spencer’s project builds on her team’s prior findings that suggest intragastric challenge affects allergic susceptibility of the airways through dysregulation of lung tissue eosinophils. This work will investigate the mechanisms of the gut-lung crosstalk that dysregulates lung eosinophils and exacerbate allergic susceptibility of remote airways. Completion of the project intends to offer important insights into the mechanisms that drive mucosal organ crosstalk and to the development of better diagnostic and therapeutic approaches for patients with allergic diseases.
Cardiovascular Health Focus of New NIH Funded Program
Congratulations to Katherine Sauder, PhD (Associate Professor, Section of Nutrition, pictured on the left), Mandy Allison, MD (Associate Professor, Section of General Pediatrics, pictured on the right), and their research colleagues on securing a new 2-year, $1.2 million Exploratory Cooperative Agreement award (UG3-HL162967) from the National Hearth, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) for their project titled, “Colorado Nurse Family Heart Trial for the ENRICH Program.” Drs. Sauder, Allison and team will leverage two widely-available interventions – the Nurse Family Partnership (NFP) and the National Diabetes Prevention Program (NDPP) – to promote and maintain the cardiovascular health of mothers and children. The combined intervention (NFP-Heart) will evaluate care among 600 nulliparous women (and their offspring) recruited in early pregnancy and promote intergenerational cardiovascular health with programming delivered from 20 weeks gestation to 24 months postpartum by home visiting nurses.
Department Faculty Dominate 2022 Boettcher Investigators Class
Three of the eight recipients the Boettcher Foundation’s 2022 Webb-Waring Biomedical Research Awards are faculty from the Department of Pediatrics. Martin Breuss, PhD (Assistant Professor, Section of Genetics and Metabolism, pictured on the left), Shanlee Davis, MD, PhD (Assistant Professor, Section of Endocrinology, pictured in the middle), and Michael Leibowitz, MD, PhD (Assistant Professor, Section of Hematology, Oncology, and Bone Marrow Transplant, pictured on the right) are all newly named Boettcher Investigators. Each will receive a $235,000 grant to support up to three years of biomedical research.
Dr. Breuss’ project titled, “Elucidation of the features of germ cell mosaicism and its impact on human health,” seeks to identify the occurrence of sperm mosaicism in a population with congenital diseases. In some cases of severe pediatric disorders, such as congenital heart or neurodevelopmental diseases, the underlying causal genetic mutation is present only in the child but not the parents. The fact that these mutations can be ‘mosaic’ in one of the parents; present in only some but not all their cells, typically does not influence the daily life of the parents but may have a catastrophic impact on a child if transmitted. Dr. Breuss’ proposes three approaches to performing sperm mosaicism assessment that will better predict the transmission of mosaic disease-causing mutations to children, a critical requirement for eventual prevention.
Dr. Davis’ project titled, “Pathophysiology of cardiometabolic dysfunction in Klinefelter Syndrome,” seeks to evaluate a specific pathway (PPAR-α) involved in fat metabolism that she and her research team have found to be abnormal in boys with Klinefelter Syndrome. Klinefelter Syndrome (KS) affects males who are born with an additional X chromosome. Hormone deficiencies, cardiometabolic disorders (like type 2 diabetes), and mental health conditions contribute to a poor quality of life in individuals with KS. Through her research Dr. Davis, hopes to identify the first ever non-hormone intervention for KS.
Dr. Leibowitz’ project titled, “Altering the tumor microenvironment to increase epitope spreading and augment chimeric antigen receptor T (CAR-T) cell therapy for metastatic osteosarcoma,” intends to increase understanding of how CAR-T cells impact the solid tumor microenvironment and may represent the first pre-clinical study combining CD47 blockade with CAR-T cells. The goal is to provide the rationale for a clinical trial utilizing FLT3L secreting CAR-T cells in combination with anti-CD47 to treat pediatric osteosarcoma, the most common malignant bone tumor in children, adolescents, and young adults.
Department Again Atop US News and Blue Ridge Rankings
For the 16th time, U.S. News & World Report has compiled its list of the very best Children’s Hospitals and specialty programs for pediatric care and treatment. Once again, the Children’s Hospital Colorado has been ranked within the top 25 programs in all eight of the pediatric medicine specific specialties evaluated by U.S. News. Overall Children’s Colorado was ranked the 7th best destination nationally for parents seeking care for their ailing children. The rankings of our programs for 2022 were as follows:
These rankings reflect the deep commitment to and passion for our mission to improve the health of children through high-quality patient care, education, research, and advocacy. That passion is held by all Department of Pediatrics faculty, trainees, and staff and by our Children’s Hospital Colorado colleagues. Thanks to everyone for your service to our mission and congratulations on this well-deserved national recognition.
The Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research has released the ranking tables of National Institutes of Health funding to US Medical Schools for federal fiscal year 2021 (October 1, 2020, to September 30, 2021). Once again, the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus was ranked among the top in NIH funding among Pediatrics Departments. With a record high funding level of $61.6 million, our Department placed second in total NIH funding. Thirty of our faculty investigators have NIH funding of over $500,000 and 12 have funding that exceeds $1 million annually. The $61.6 million in funding was not only a record high, but also a $4.4 million increase from last year’s previous record.
This is remarkable performance by our faculty for some of the most highly competitive federal awards. This outstanding performance reflects the tremendous breadth and depth of our research portfolio and the results of the passionate work of all our faculty investigators and their research teams. This level of productivity is also made possible by the significant, ongoing investment in research by our Department and Sections, the School of Medicine, and Children’s Hospital Colorado. Congratulations to all our research programs who continue to make discoveries that will improve the health of children in Colorado and beyond.
Please continue your best efforts to remain healthy and resilient during these challenging times. I hope the just completed July 4 holiday and other summer vacation plans provide you the time to engage with family and friends. Wishing everyone personal and programmatic success as we enter the start of a new academic year.
Stephen R. Daniels, MD, PhD
Professor and Chair
Department of Pediatrics | University of Colorado School of Medicine
Pediatrician-in-Chief | Children’s Hospital Colorado