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Aurora, CO 80045-0508

News Release

Rural medicine, Down syndrome programs receive federal support

12/22/2009
 

AURORA, Colo. (Dec. 22, 2009) – Several programs of the University of Colorado’s School of Medicine, including efforts to bolster rural health care and to research Down syndrome, got a recent boost from the omnibus federal spending bill.

“Down syndrome research and rural health care are areas of real need in Colorado, the nation and around the world,” said M. Roy Wilson, MD, MS, University of Colorado Denver Chancellor. “We are grateful to our federal lawmakers for helping us make the case for the importance of continued funding in these areas, which are crucial to the health and wellness of citizens in our own back yard and around the globe.”

The School of Medicine’s Rural Track is in line for $575,000.  The program is designed to address the shortage of physicians for Colorado’s rural population by increasing the number of doctors and improving health care in rural areas.

“The Rural Track, in its fifth year, now costs about a quarter of a million dollars a year,” said Mark Deutchman, MD, the program’s director. “This is a substantial step for a growing program,” Deutchman said.

The money will be used both for students in the Rural Track – now about 10 percent of the medical school -- and to provide rural-medicine experience for all medical school students.

The rural health-care problem is a serious one in Colorado. In 2007, no active licensed physicians lived in Bent County or Washington County, according to The Colorado Health Institute. Three other counties -- San Juan, Mineral and Costilla -- had one active licensed physician each. Fewer than five active licensed physicians lived in each of 10 other rural counties.

The Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome (LCI) at the University of Colorado’s School of Medicine will receive $1.5 million, thanks to the recently signed federal omnibus bill. Senators Michael Bennet and Mark Udall and Congressmen Ed Perlmutter and Jared Polis championed the effort with the support of the Colorado delegation.

The work of the LCI aims to eradicate the ill effects on cognitive function in people with Down syndrome. LCI researchers will break new ground and use a new model to bring researchers in a variety of disciplines together with clinical providers. The day-to-day challenges in patient care will be communicated to researchers and, conversely, emerging research opportunities in the laboratory will be conveyed to clinicians and clinician-researchers. Working together, UC Denver envisions an exciting synergy that will transform care of people with Down syndrome. But for this vision to be realized, the LCI needs a number of new instruments to examine the structure and function of the brain.

The $1.5 million, restricted to the sole support of LCI, will include purchasing medical laboratory equipment needed to conduct research on Down syndrome with the goals of understanding the biological basis for cognitive deficits and discovering effective new treatments.

The faculty will focus on the full spectrum of activities needed for success - basic research, clinical research, and clinical care and treatment of children, adolescents and adults with Down syndrome.

The economic impact of the Institute could extend to the discovery of new treatments, pharmaceuticals and procedures for restoration of neural function in individuals afflicted with a host of developmental brain disorders, most notable Down syndrome. The work done will benefit the State of Colorado, the Rocky Mountain Region, and the entire United States.

LCI is named in honor of the University of Colorado’s School of Medicine professor of pediatrics and psychiatry who died in a bicycle accident in 2004.  Dr. Crnic became a friend and mentor of Michelle and Tom Whitten when they received the prenatal diagnosis that their daughter Sophia would have Down syndrome. Crnic inspired the Whittens and the Sies to establish this global institute for Down syndrome that will provide the highest quality of basic, clinical and translational research trials, therapeutic development, medical care, education and advocacy.

The Anschutz Medical Campus is a model for the type of interdisciplinary research in translational medicine that will take basic discovery “from the bench to the bedside.”

Faculty at the University of Colorado’s School of Medicine work to advance science and improve care. These faculty members include physicians, educators and scientists at University of Colorado Hospital, The Children’s Hospital, Denver Health, National Jewish Health, and the Denver Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Degrees offered by the UC Denver School of Medicine include doctor of medicine, doctor of physical therapy, and masters of physician assistant studies.  The School is located on the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus, one of four campuses in the University of Colorado system. For additional news and information, please visit the UC Denver newsroom online.

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Contact: Caitlin Jenney, 303.315.6376, caitlin.jenney@ucdenver.edu