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A Productive Year

By John J. Reilly, Jr., MD

(May 2016) My first year as Dean of the University of Colorado School of Medicine has been a fulfilling and rewarding experience.

In January, we announced five projects that were awarded Transformational Research Funding grants, totaling $80 million over five years, to bolster initiatives that show great promise for our School, for the health of our patients and community and for medical science in general.

The Office of Medical Education has been immersed in preparation for the March 2017 site visit by the Liaison Committee for Medical Education, which accredits medical schools. The dedication of our staff, led by Senior Associate Dean Robert Anderson, MD, and working with dozens of faculty, are ensuring that we have focused attention on the myriad details necessary for this important event.

The School of Medicine branch in Colorado Springs became home to the first group of students who will conduct their third-year clinical rotations there. Associate Dean Erik Wallace, MD, has spent two years building relationships with providers in the community and overseeing the implementation of the curriculum.

The clinicians on our faculty continue to provide the best care in our community and offer the solid foundation on which our School depends. Our faculty and our practice plan, University Physicians, Inc., offer considerable funding to support the School’s operations, create endowed chairs and provide student scholarships.

We are implementing a plan that will ensure that we are using research space on campus to its best potential. While that process can be difficult for some, it is essential to our future. We cannot recruit and retain the best faculty with a scattershot plan for using our space. The sensible principles we are putting in place will ensure we have productive laboratories and that we are locating investigators with common interests near one another.

The School received one of the largest programmatic gifts in its history in April 2015, when the Helen K. and Arthur E. Johnson Foundation gave a $10 million grant to support the Depression Center. In honor of the donors, the CU Board of Regents voted to rename the center the Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Depression Center.

And in March 2016, the University announced a $10 million pledge from The Anschutz Foundation to support establishing the National Behavioral Health Innovation Center, which will bring innovative approaches for preventing, identifying and treating behavioral health and substance abuse.

The Transformational Research Funding grants, which I previously mentioned, are a significant investment in our future. We are funding areas of research that will have high impact, nurture cross-disciplinary collaboration, and involve partners from other institutions. Those projects are described in this issue, page 26, and on the School of Medicine’s website.

We are able to make these investments with funding provided by the clinical earnings of the faculty, from annual financial support from the University of Colorado Health and from philanthropy, including a commitment of $15 million by The Anschutz Foundation. No state-appropriated dollars or student tuition or fees are being used for the Transformational Research Funding awards. 

What we discovered in the process of selecting the award recipients was not a surprise: This campus is home to an abundance of immensely talented people. In fact, we received so many excellent proposals that it was a reminder that my work as Dean is never done. Just as our clinicians always strive to improve care, our teachers work constantly to provide the best education and our researchers remain committed to advancing the frontiers of knowledge, it is my job to provide the best conditions possible for them to excel.

With warm regards,  


John J. Reilly, Jr., MD
Richard D. Krugman Endowed Chair
Dean, School of Medicine
Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs
University of Colorado