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Dean's Weekly Message

Aug. 11, 2017


Dear colleague: 

The Physical Therapy Program of the School of Medicine celebrated its 70th anniversary last Thursday with an Educational Day program featuring several guest speakers and with the PT70 Celebration and Reception at the Denver Art Museum. The evening’s proceedings at the Denver Art Museum featured honors for Patrick Grant, JD, MBA, chairman of the National Western Stock Show; former School of Medicine Dean Richard Krugman, MD; and Joanne Posner-Mayer, PT, alumna from the CU PT class of 1973 and a leader in establishing scholarship programs for the Physical Therapy Program. Kevin Morris, a Doctor of Physical Therapy student in the 2018 class, spoke about the importance of financial aid. “Scholarship represents opportunity,” he said. “Your generosity has helped my dream of becoming a doctor of physical therapy a reality.” The University of Colorado School of Medicine has one of the nation’s leading physical therapy programs and it has trained many distinguished alumni since graduating its first class in 1948. In rankings released this year by U.S. News and World Report, our Physical Therapy Program ranked 15th in the nation among the 217 programs considered. It is particularly gratifying to see the level of pride the Physical Therapy alumni have in our School – more than 400 people attended the reception at the Denver Art Museum. We are thankful for their support and guidance. Congratulations to Physical Therapy Program Director Margaret Schenkman, PT, PhD, and everyone on the team who organized this celebration. 

The School of Medicine Colorado Springs Branch has produced a video that introduces prospective students and others to the offerings of our medical school branch. Beginning in 2014, the School of Medicine increased its class size from 160 medical students to 184. For those additional 24 students in the MD program, the branch provides clinical training opportunities during their third and fourth years in medical school. Associate Dean Erik Wallace, MD, explains how the branch’s approach works: “We ask our doctors, ‘Can you take one student for one half day a week, but keep that same student for the entire year?’ The way that changes things is that the student becomes a part of that healthcare team.’” Thomas Wong, who is in the inaugural class of students at the branch scheduled to graduate next spring, said he chose CU and the Colorado Springs Branch because of that educational experience. Another feature of the program, Erik says, is the bond our students make with community leaders, learning the particular needs of local patients and developing specific projects to address them. 

The DAWN Clinic is an example of how students from the Anschutz Medical Campus are responding to local community needs in Aurora. DAWN, which stands for Dedicated to Aurora’s Wellness and Needs, is a student-run free clinic serving uninsured patients. It’s a joint venture between the Fields Foundation and Primary Care Progress. An article about the clinic in last week’s CU Anschutz Today report discusses how the students who set up the clinic specifically designed it to respond to the community needs. “One thing that happens in health care is we providers say, ‘This is a good idea, I’m going to do this.’ But we don’t ask the community what they want,” said Kari Mader, MD, associate director of the clinic. Kari practices at Denver Health. Listening to our patients and to one another is a critical skill we must develop to succeed in our profession. 

The Patten-Davis Foundation has made a $4.5 million commitment that will support immunology research on the Anschutz Medical Campus. Scott Arthur, vice chancellor of advancement, announced the gift to campus last Wednesday. The foundation, which has been a longtime supporter of the Barbara Davis Center for Diabetes and the CU Cancer Center, is providing a gift that will establish an endowed chair in basic human immunology and will support a translational research physician-scientist at the Barbara Davis Center. Also, a portion of the funding, which has been matched by the School of Medicine, will be used to attract and retain faculty who are focused on immune monitoring, autoimmunity, cancer immunotherapy and/or basic science immunology. We are grateful for the Patten-Davis Foundation’s steadfast support. 

U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette visited the Anschutz Medical Campus on Tuesday, August 29, to hear a presentation on research conducted by the team of scientists at the Rocky Mountain Alzheimer’s Disease Center and tour their laboratory. Huntington Potter, PhD, director of the center, summarized findings on the Leukine clinical trial, which were featured in a recent 9News report and presented at a conference in London. Congresswoman DeGette also brought reassuring news that White House budget proposals calling for drastic cuts in funding for the National Institutes of Health are unlikely to happen because of the strong bipartisan support in Congress for biomedical research. 

The University of Colorado System announced last Thursday that the university’s economic impact on the state in 2016 was $12.35 billion. The study was completed by the Business Research Division of the CU Boulder Leeds School of Business and was presented to the CU Board of Regents while they were meeting on the Anschutz Medical Campus. According to the study, the University’s schools on the Anschutz Medical Campus accounted for $2.9 billion in economic impact and our partner hospitals on campus – University of Colorado Hospital and Children’s Hospital Colorado – contributed an additional $4 billion in economic impact. The full report and a summary are posted on the Regents’ website. In announcing the report, CU President Bruce Benson said: “The study demonstrates what we have long known – the University of Colorado is a substantial driver of Colorado’s economy. We’re proud of the many contributions we make to our state and its quality of life and we intend to continue our efforts to advance Colorado.” 

Daniel Pastula, MD, MHS, assistant professor and associate director of medical student education in the Department of Neurology, has been appointed by Gov. John Hickenlooper to the Colorado Board of Health for a term that expires March 1, 2021. Dan specializes in neuro-hospitalist medicine, neuro-infectious diseases, epidemiology, and public health. He sees patients at the University of Colorado Hospital. Earlier this year, Dan was one of three physician-researchers working for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who published an article in JAMA Neurology based on their study of the Zika virus triggering cases of epilepsy in infants. Dan was also one of the authors on the initial reports identifying cases of a polio-like illness, acute flaccid myelitis, associated with Enterovirus D-68 infection in children who were first identified at Children's Hospital Colorado and then later became a nationwide epidemic in 2014 and 2016. 

John Moore, MBA, has accepted the position of director of financial operations for the School of Medicine, effective Oct. 1. He joins the School from the College of Nursing where he has served as the associate dean for finance and administration. Prior to the College of Nursing, John was director of finance and administration at the Anschutz Health and Wellness Center, where he also served in other financial roles. John has experience with the fiscal and personnel systems of the University, the fiscal system of CU Medicine, and a strong understanding of tuition models. Please join me in welcoming John to our staff. 

The Anschutz Medical Campus Block Party is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 13, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Bonfils Circle, south of Building 500. This is the 5th annual block party, which brings food trucks, games, live music and more than 120 booths with exhibitors from on- and off-campus. Each year this event gets bigger and better. Admission is free and everyone is invited. 

The School of Medicine is seeking faculty members to serve as mentors for Mentored Scholarly Activity (MSA) projects for the medical students in the Class of 2021. Faculty members can submit options through the online MSA Project form. For additional information, contact Caitlin Zoghby, longitudinal curriculum coordinator for the School, at Caitlin.zoghby@ucdenver.edu. The MSA is an important part of the educational experience for our medical students. Each student pairs with a mentor to pursue a scholarly project that culminates in a written paper and capstone presentation in the spring of graduation year. The MSA allows students to explore their interests, develop a plan to pursue a project, and be exposed to research methods and mentoring. While being a valuable part of the medical school experience, the MSA also fosters the lifelong learning habits all medical professionals need to succeed. 

The 6th annual Education Scholarship and Innovation Symposium, hosted by the Academy of Medical Educators, will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. All Anschutz students, residents, graduate students, post-docs and faculty are invited to submit an abstract on educational research and/or innovations in the health sciences professions. Abstracts are due by 11:59 p.m. Monday, October 16. Details about the abstract submission process and the symposium are available at the Academy of Medical Educators website. All abstracts will be considered for poster presentations, with some selected for oral presentations. 

On Saturday, Sept. 2, three days before the Trump administration announced that it would rescind the executive action related to individuals with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status, CU President Bruce Benson and the chancellors of all four University campuses issued a call for Congress “to quickly find a pathway that will allow current and future undocumented students, all of whom have spent years being educated in the United States, to complete their studies without fear for their futures.” The announcement also says undocumented students and workers should be treated with respect and dignity in our classrooms and in our campus community.  “We will engage Colorado’s senators and representatives and offer our support,” the statement says. “We will work with national educational organizations that are communicating their concerns for your futures to Congress and the White House. It’s important for you to know where we stand – and our message to the DACA recipients in our community is simple - we stand with you.” It’s worth noting that support for these young people has been strong from across the political divide and throughout the business community. More than 400 business executives, including the president of the Colorado Business Roundtable and the CEO of Colorado-based Western Union, have signed a letter calling for the preservation of DACA. Similarly, the Association of American Medical Colleges issued a statement that said it was “extremely dismayed” by the decision to rescind the executive order. We hope that those in Congress will heed these calls and recognize the leadership, inspiration and vital contributions the dreamers make to our communities. 

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. 

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