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June 30, 2014

What's Going on Here?


Dear Colleague,

The last week of this academic year was another very busy one with a whole lot going on. This message will, therefore, be a little longer than usual. 

Liz Concordia, CEO-designate of UCHealth, was in town Tuesday through Thursday for a whirlwind visit.  She met with the clinical chairs and University Physicians, Inc., and School of Medicine clinical leadership Tuesday morning, joined the UCHealth board meeting Tuesday afternoon, as well as the joint meeting of the boards from Poudre Valley Health, University of Colorado Hospital and Memorial Hospital. That evening, while the boards were hosted at a Rockies game by Chair of UCHealth (and Rockies Owner/Chairman and CEO) Dick Monfort, I drove to Aspen for the opening that evening of the Aspen Ideas Festival Spotlight on Health.  Many of our faculty were selected to give state-of-the-field talks. Tuesday night was Huntington Potter, PhD, professor of neurology and director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Clinical and Research Program, on Alzheimer’s disease; Wednesday morning Marian Rewers, MD, PhD, professor of pediatrics and medicine and clinical director of the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes, talked about type 1 diabetes; and Wednesday noon, David Schwartz, MD, chairman of the Department of Medicine, had a session on personalized medicine. 

I had to leave after David’s session, but there were others who spoke at the Aspen Ideas Festival, most of them in the subsequent two days. Other participants were Amy Huebschmann, MD, assistant professor of medicine, on women’s health research; Lawrence Hergott, MD, professor of medicine, on heart health; Michael Weissberg, professor and executive vice chair of psychiatry, on sleep; Robin Shandas, professor of pediatrics and surgery, on a panel on disruptive technologies; Ben Cort, business development manager for UCHealth’s Center for Addiction Recovery and Rehabilitation, on a panel about the marijuana industry; and Matthew Wynia, MD, director of the Center for Bioethics and Humanities, on a closing panel on ethics.

I left Aspen Wednesday afternoon having been sent an email link to a Denver Post article reporting that the long-awaited agreement between National Jewish Health and Exempla St. Joseph Hospital had been signed. The drive through Glenwood Canyon to Vail, where the Colorado Health Medical Group was having its annual meeting, was beautiful. Liz Concordia joined that meeting as well, and the following morning I had the opportunity to drive her back to the Anschutz Medical Campus, where she had more meetings and I attended the Children’s Hospital Colorado board of directors meeting. I am enormously optimistic about how well she will do here when she arrives on Sept. 2. I believe the clinical chairs with whom I met Thursday evening agree with this. 

The hour before my meeting with the clinical chairs, Thomas Henthorn, MD, chair of anesthesiology, met with his faculty and told them that he has asked me to form a search committee to begin recruitment of a new chair for that department. Tom will serve until his successor arrives. I’d like to thank Tom for his dedicated service to the School and his department. I appreciate his commitment to serve during the search process. In the coming weeks, I will meet with the department and then the faculty officers and I will form a search committee. We will want to time the process so that my successor as dean will be the one to select the final candidate and complete the recruitment process.

Friday morning I attended the first part of the Center for Bioethics and Humanities retreat and then had a wonderful, but too brief, time with the 20 Colorado Rural Health Scholars who completed their three week “camp” session. This was the 22nd group of high school students in a program we began back in 1993 to make our school more accessible to rural Colorado students. In the 20 years prior to 1995 we had not had one applicant to our medical school from high schools in eastern Colorado! Since beginning this program, I have handed diplomas to seven of these students, there are five more in our school now, and there are dozens of others of these scholars who have attended the other health professional schools and programs on our campus. It has been a terrific program and I am very grateful to the counsellors who are our first- and second-year students who give up three weeks of their time off to educate and chaperone 20 17-year-olds! I couldn’t attend their graduation this year, because at noon on Friday we began a family reunion with our children and grandchildren from Boston and Tokyo.

In other news of the week, congratulations to Matthew J. Kennedy, PhD, assistant professor of pharmacology, who last Tuesday was named a 2014 Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences. That program supports promising early-career scientists in the health sciences, particularly young researchers with innovative approaches and ideas. Matthew’s lab is investigating the molecular events that strengthen the connections between neurons during learning and memory.

And congratulations to Charles Lockhart, MD, emeritus professor of anesthesiology and pediatrics, who has been named the recipient of the 2015 American Academy of Pediatrics Robert M. Smith Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions to the field of pediatric anesthesiology. He served as director of anesthesiology at The Children’s Hospital in Denver from 1973 until 1997. He retired from clinical practice in 2007. This award, which will be given at the academy’s meeting in Phoenix in March 2015, recognizes a lifetime of scholarship, clinical leadership and service to the profession. Charlie was an early supporter of the Children’s Hospital/School of Medicine affiliation in 1990 at a time many of his colleagues were not sure that it would ever work.

We want to express our gratitude to Frederic C. Hamilton who has committed $3 million to support two major initiatives here at the Anschutz Medical Campus. Fred has pledged $2 million to support the CU Eye Center to establish the Frederic C. Hamilton Macular Diagnostics Center Fund and he has given $1 million to fully fund the Frederic C. Hamilton Endowed Chair in Endocrinology Research, whose initial holder is Chip Ridgway, MD, professor of medicine. Naresh Mandava, MD, chair of the ophthalmology and executive director of the CU Eye Center, said the gift will allow expansion of the macular degeneration research program with new equipment. Fred’s generosity will benefit the school and the people in our care for years to come.

Welcome to eight new members of the Academy of Medical Educators: Jennifer Adams, MD; James Beck, MD; Janet Corral, PhD; Tai Lockspeiser, MD; Chad Stickrath, MD; Erik Wallace, MD; Michael Yeager, PhD; and Nicole Zehnder, MD. The Academy supports and enhances educational programs and faculty and its primary goal is to create an environment that promotes and rewards teaching excellence and enhances the education of our students, residents, fellows, faculty and community.

The Academy of Medical Educators annually recognizes faculty and staff excellence with its Education Awards. This year’s recipients are Clay Cothren Burlew, MD, associate professor of surgery, for mentoring and advising; Claire E.M. Travis, MA, MBA, education manager, department of surgery, for education support and administration; Meghan Treitz , MD, assistant professor of pediatrics, for curriculum development and educational innovation; and Nathaen Weitzel, MD, associate professor of anesthesiology, for direct teaching. Thanks to each and all for their leadership.

Four Graduate Medical Education program coordinators were honored recently by their peers and Carol Rumack, MD, associate dean for graduate medical education, with Program Coordinator Excellence Awards: Patricia Braund, pathology; Jeanette Starkey, pediatric cardiology; Christine Raffaelli, OB/GYN; and Michele Bialkowski, pediatric critical care. Congratulations and thank you for your work.

A couple of housekeeping reminders that I also mentioned last week:

  • Payday for June is July 1, not the last day of month, as is the case with every other month of the year. Plan accordingly.
  • map offers two alternative routes while construction occurs during the next month.

Have a good week, Happy New Year (state and academic) and if you are off this Friday, July 4, enjoy the holiday.

Richard D. Krugman, MD
Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs and
Dean, School of Medicine


"What’s Going On Here" is an email news bulletin from Richard Krugman, MD, Dean of the CU School of Medicine, that is distributed to inform University of Colorado School of Medicine faculty members about issues pertaining to the School’s mission of education, research, clinical care and community service. 

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