On May 22, more than 1,000 newly minted health care professionals received their hard-earned degrees at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus commencement. While we expect them to put their education to work improving health in Colorado and beyond, many have already left a legacy of impact right here in Aurora. The DAWN Clinic (Dedicated to Aurora’s Wellness and Needs), which opened in March, is a student-staffed free clinic that serves uninsured adults from the Aurora community every Tuesday evening, offering free medical, physical therapy and dental services. At this clinic, our students are already practicing innovative primary care, interdisciplinary collaboration, community engagement and leadership development—the kinds of skills that will serve them (and the community) well throughout their careers.
Philanthropy accelerates vision
Just as our students are positively affecting the Aurora community, donors to CU Anschutz are accelerating our ability to innovate and invent the cures and care of tomorrow. With gleaming new facilities built over 230 acres in the past 10 years, private support is now fueling the vision and momentum for CU Anschutz to become a medical destination with innovations that change the world. In fact, we just ended our most successful year yet, with $148 million in total philanthropic and private support invested in the bright minds and big ideas that result in discoveries made and lives saved. To more aggressively support the discovery made on this campus, we are exploring the idea of a venture philanthropy fund, which would be an opportunity for people to provide seed funding that would make a direct contribution to medical advancement and might yield financial returns.
New leadership team
Key to our ability to bring research breakthroughs to our patients’ bedsides is our relationships with our affiliate hospitals. While a nationwide search is underway to identify a successor for University of Colorado Hospital CEO John Harney, we are fortunate to have exceptional new leadership in other key roles across the campus, with Liz Concordia at the helm of the UC Health system and Jena Hausmann at Children’s Hospital Colorado since May 1. They join John Reilly (right), who replaced Dick Krugman as dean of the CU School of Medicine in April, in a cohort poised to lead the Anschutz Medical Campus to the next level in research, education and treatment.
Revolutionizing personalized medicine
Nowhere is the power of this collaboration more evident than in the field of personalized medicine, which allows us to use a vast array of data to develop health care that is more preventative, predictive and precise than ever before. We’ve united with our campus hospital partners to create and fund the development of a biomedical informatics program and to establish the Center for Biomedical Informatics and Personalized Medicine, to be led by Kathleen Barnes who comes to us from Johns Hopkins.
The opening of the Gates Biomanufacturing Facility last month will also enable us to pioneer new treatments and therapies for people worldwide. Not since 1963, when the world’s first successful solid organ transplant (a liver) was performed at the University of Colorado Hospital, have we been so well positioned to revolutionize the face of personalized medicine.
Integrating behavioral health and primary care
Another emerging area we are focusing on is the integration of behavioral health and primary care. Mental and physical health problems are interwoven. Some recent studies show that as many as 70 percent of primary care visits stem from psychosocial issues, including underlying mental health or substance abuse issues. Integrating mental health services into primary care settings is, we believe, key to providing better overall care, lowering costs and improving the health of our population. CU Anschutz faculty played a pivotal role in Colorado’s successful effort to win a $65 million federal grant to support the development of innovative new models of health care. CU Anschutz will lead the "practice transformation" component of the grant, designing team-based approaches to providing primary care services that also integrate and address behavioral health needs.
At CU Anschutz, the process of coupling professors and researchers, some of the most experienced minds in medicine, with ambitious and eager students who want to champion medicine for the next generation, results in innovation. We’re proud of our work pushing the current boundaries of medical research and patient care, and we’re happy to share our latest initiatives with you. Please feel free to share this e-newsletter with others who may have an interest.