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May 19, 2014

School of Medicine


Dear Colleague,                                                                                                   

I’m writing this one from Jedediah’s restaurant in Missoula, Mont., where we are waiting for a plane back to Denver. We attended the University of Montana graduation ceremony, where one of our nephews was getting his degree. Saturday was a beautiful day; it is cold and rainy today. The student graduation speaker for his School of Performing Arts ceremony was terrific. Six minutes – short and sweet!

Last Monday evening, the Department of Microbiology had a thank you dinner for Randy Holmes, MD, PhD, who is stepping down as chair after nearly 20 years in the position. Randy will continue his NIH-funded research and teaching as “just a professor” and begin a phased retirement over the next several years. I was honored to be asked to be the speaker at the event and it was a pleasure to recount Randy’s contributions to the department, the school and the university.

The next afternoon, David Goff, MD, PhD, dean of the Colorado School of Public Health and chair of the search committee for my successor as dean of the School of Medicine, gave the Faculty Senate an update on the search. He said the committee hopes to have applications in hand by late June and that the public stage of the process could perhaps begin in August. I was unable to be at the meeting because of a site visit I was making in Michigan, but I am told that one of the more interesting questions posed by a faculty member was whether the search committee has considered how long the next dean should serve. David said there have been no such discussions about whether the next person needs to serve for 20 to 25 years.

The Global Down Syndrome Foundation hosted its third annual Be Beautiful Be Yourself DC Gala on Wednesday, May 7, in Washington, D.C., for the benefit of the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome at the Anschutz Medical Campus. Tom Blumenthal, PhD, executive director of the Crnic Institute, spoke about the importance of research funding and 18 beautiful models with Down syndrome walked the runway, escorted by members of Congress and local celebrities. Eleanor Holmes Norton, delegate to Congress from D.C., and U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran from Kansas received the Quincy Jones Exceptional Advocacy Award, and Holmes Norton’s daughter, Katherine Felicia Norton, was honored as the Global Down Syndrome Foundation Ambassador. The event put a spotlight on the needs and rights of people with Down syndrome, and the importance of research into the connection between Down syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease, in front of a packed crowd of legislators and officials from the National Institutes of Health, who can influence the direction of medical research.

Thanks to the anonymous first-year medical student who on Friday, May 9, escorted a lost 90-year-old physician who was looking for Education 2.  Dr. Knowles Curwen of Colorado Springs sent me a lovely letter describing his experience with her and how she went out of her way to be sure he got where he wanted to go. His quote: “Having medical students so concerned about the well-being of others augers well for the future of medicine.”  I agree.

Congratulations to Xiao-Jing Wang, MD, PhD, for receiving the William Montagna Lecture Award at the annual meeting of the Society for Investigative Dermatology on Saturday, May 10. The award honors young active investigators. Xiao-Jing’s laboratory has developed the first genetically engineered mouse model that develops head and neck squamous cell carcinomas with full penetrance.

The Department of Surgery’s first annual research symposium will be held on Monday, June 2. Clifford  Ko, MD, director of the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program, will be speaking at Grand Rounds that morning, followed by Department of Surgery research presentations in clinical and basic science categories.  Awards will be given to the best presentation in each category. Ko’s lecture is at 7 a.m. in the Anschutz Inpatient Pavilion 2 Auditorium.

I was struck by Timothy Egan’s piece on the New York Times op-ed page Friday entitled “The Commencement Bigots.”  I loved reading the quotes from the graduation talks of David Foster Wallace, Steve Jobs and Stephen Colbert and found the rest of his message – maintaining balance and being able to listen to other points of view – pretty important.

This week is commencement and reunion week here. Dinners every night except Tuesday! The Medical Scientist Training Program award dinner is tonight, the Alpha Omega Alpha dinner Wednesday night and the Silver and Gold Banquet Thursday night. Friday night, there are only eight reunion dinners to go to before the caloric climax of the week at the Saturday morning all-alumni breakfast. My annual Memorial Day weekend fast will begin shortly thereafter.

Keep your eyes on the weather forecast for Friday. Our School of Medicine’s Hooding and Oath Ceremony is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. on Boettcher Commons.  Early predictions by the National Weather Service were projecting a slight chance of rain, but hopefully it will hold off until the afternoon.  It has rained on two graduation ceremonies in the last 25 years. We’ll post information on the Anschutz Medical Campus’ website if we need to take cover from the elements.

No email next Monday. Have a quiet holiday if working and a wonderful holiday if off. Congratulations to all the graduates and award winners of the coming week.

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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