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2015 Rising Stars

Department of Medicine

The CU Department of Medicine is proud to announce the selection of four outstanding junior faculty members who exemplify the department’s core values of excellence in research, clinical work, education, and community service. These four faculty members were selected from an extremely qualified pool, for recognition as 2015’s Rising Stars:


Cervantes 05 08 2015.jpgLilia Cervantes, MD
Assistant Professor, Division of General Internal Medicine
Founder, Healthcare Interest Program and Health Equity Lecture Series at Denver Health

Since joining CU in 2008, Dr. Cervantes has dedicated her career to increasing diversity in the physician workforce, as well as health disparities research. In 2009, she launched the Healthcare Interest Program (HIP), bringing together CU and Denver-based community organizations to increase the number of underrepresented minority (URM) students maintaining an interest in a healthcare career. She received the Rosa Parks Award and the President’s Diversity Award for this work. Dr. Cervantes also helped re-establish the University of Colorado Organization for Racial and Ethnic Support (UCOLORES), a program for URM junior faculty, and founded the Health Equity Lecture Series at Denver Health, bringing academic and community leaders together to increase understanding of the social determinants of health in Denver. Dr. Cervantes’ research is focused on improving palliative care outcomes for Latinos with end-stage renal disease; she was awarded the four-year Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Award from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and was selected to join the Clinical Faculty Scholars Program for 2015. 


Demoruelle 05 08 2015.jpgKristen Demoruelle, MD
Assistant Professor, Division of Rheumatology
Principal Investigator, rheumatoid arthritis

Dr. Demoruelle’s research focuses on identifying the causal pathogenic mechanisms underlying the development of rheumatoid arthritis (with special attention to mechanisms that drive the increased incidence in women). After her initial first-author publication during her CU internal medicine residency, she published several first-author publications and reviews as a rheumatology fellow, receiving one of ten highly competitive Distinguished Fellow Awards from the American College of Rheumatology. Since joining the CU faculty in 2013, she has generated significant grant support with several highly competitive awards, including an NIH K12 BIRCWH award and a five-year NIH K23 Award. The work undertaken by Dr. Demoruelle is innovative and highly competitive, and has already generated a change in the research paradigm in her field. She has also been a valuable mentor for several medical students and clinical fellows, as well as for PhD graduate students working on translational research projects.


Lieu 05 08 2015.jpgChristopher Lieu, MD
Assistant Professor, Division of Medical Oncology
Director, Colorectal Medical Oncology

Dr. Lieu serves as the Director of Colorectal Medical Oncology within the GI Cancer Program. Since joining CU in 2011, Dr. Lieu has helped to grow the colorectal program by 15% annually; he now has the highest volume of patients within the GI program, with high patient satisfaction ratings. He serves as Deputy Director of the Clinical Trials Office at the CU Cancer Center, and initiated the first NCI trial in the experimental clinical trials network (ET-CTN). As the medical oncology lead for colorectal cancer in the multidisciplinary clinic (which also involves surgery, radiation oncology, pathology, radiology, nutrition and social work) he helped to develop a program enabling patients to meet and discuss their treatment plan with all of these providers at once. Dr. Lieu also has a research interest in resistance mechanisms to targeted therapy in GI cancers, and he was awarded the 2013 Conquer Cancer Foundation Career Development Award to study targeted therapies in colorectal cancer.  


Pierce 05 08 2015.jpgRead Pierce, MD
Assistant Professor, Division of General Internal Medicine
Creator, Health Innovations Scholars program and Hospitalist Training Program (Leaders Track)

Since joining CU in 2012, Dr. Pierce has helped to create two programs for aspiring physician leaders: the Health Innovations Scholars program for first-year medical students interested in systems redesign, and the Hospitalist Training Program (Leaders Track) within the internal medicine residency program. Both programs focus on developing leaders of clinical systems, using experiential projects and intensive faculty mentorship. To date, these programs have enrolled nearly 50 participants. Since 2012, Dr. Pierce has also been a founding member of CU’s Institute for Healthcare Quality, Safety and Efficiency, a campus-wide initiative to increase organizational capacity to pursue clinical transformation. He has directed three training programs supported by the Institute, which have worked with more than three dozen teams from CU Anschutz, resulting in implementation of robust, sustainable improvements. Dr. Pierce also serves as Director of Quality Improvement and Clinical Innovations for CU’s Hospital Medicine Group.

Click here to view all Rising Stars since 2012.