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Department of Medicine Announces 2016 Rising Stars

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The University of Colorado Department of Medicine has selected four early-career faculty members as 2016 ‘Rising Stars,’ joining a group of faculty who exemplify the department’s core values of excellence in research, clinical work, education, and community service.

Jose Castillo-Mancilla, MD joined the Division of Infectious Diseases in 2008. Initially hired as a full-time clinician, alongside his productive clinical service (and without the benefit of substantial ‘protected’ time) he has built a productive HIV research program that has resulted in 20 publications (11 as first/senior author). After initial funding from the Center for AIDS Research, the Colorado Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute and an NIH/NIAID-funded junior minority investigator award from the AIDS Clinical Trials Group, Dr. Castillo-Mancilla has focused his research on the pharmacology of drug adherence in HIV-infected individuals. He characterized unique pharmacological biomarkers allowing for complementary quantification of cumulative adherence and recent dosing, findings that have produced many literature citations and have been instrumental to quantifying drug adherence in HIV prevention trials. In 2013 he received an NIH/NIAID K23 award to evaluate pharmacological adherence measures in HIV-infected individuals. Parallel to this ongoing work, he has developed an interest in the biological consequences of antiretroviral adherence beyond virologic suppression. In collaboration with the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study he found that, even in individuals on chronic antiretroviral therapy who maintain viral suppression, suboptimal adherence is associated with higher concentrations of biomarkers of inflammation and immune activation, suggesting that antiretroviral adherence could have significant clinical consequences that are independent of virologic suppression. In March 2016 he was awarded an NIH/NIAID R21 grant to expand upon this new line of research, which has the potential to help maximize the effect of HIV cure and eradication strategies. As a continuation of his post-fellowship work with underserved populations in New Mexico, Dr. Castillo-Mancilla has also established a community-based specialized HIV clinic for underserved Spanish-speaking patients in collaboration with the Metro Community Provider Network (MCPN) in Aurora, serving as medical director from 2009-2013.

Brendan Clark, MD joined the Division of Pulmonary Sciences and Critical Care Medicine in 2011. Motivated by the need to improve the fragmented care that ICU survivors with alcohol use disorders receive, he has a research program focused on improving outcomes for these patients. He received a K23 career development award focused on improving the transition of care from the hospital to the outpatient environment, and plans to begin a pilot study on the effectiveness of patient navigators for this population in late 2016. He has been the author of 18 peer-reviewed manuscripts, most as first author.  His most recent editorial was published in JAMA. He has written several reviews and book chapters and presented multiple abstracts at national meetings. His work in this area has also led him to form collaborations with alcohol health services researchers outside of CU. Dr. Clark is a member of the CCTSI pre-K review committee, helping prepare young researchers to apply for career development awards. He chaired a task force dedicated to building the pulmonary division’s research infrastructure, and has served on the division’s fellowship selection committee for the past 4 years. Dr. Clark is active in the American Thoracic Society, and is the 2015-17 chair for the ATS Resident Boot Camp, bringing together over 150 residents from across the country to prepare them for their pulmonary/critical care fellowships. He has also been appointed to the program committee for the ATS assembly on behavioral sciences and health services research. Dr. Clark attends in the medical ICU, receiving high evaluations by fellows and residents, and teaches small group sessions on mechanical ventilation to medical students. He also mentors med students and residents on research projects.

Jessica Kendrick, MD, MPH joined the Division of Renal Diseases and Hypertension in 2010. As a researcher, she is interested in vascular function in chronic kidney disease (CKD) and end-stage renal disease. Since the most common cause of mortality in CKD is cardiovascular, her work elucidating the mechanisms and interventions which alter the abnormality in vascular biology has the potential to decrease the mortality of CKD. In addition to developing a number of non-invasive techniques to determine the relationship between vascular dysfunction and mortality, Dr. Kendrick is testing a number of fairly simple interventions (such as bicarbonate) with the potential to improve vascular function in patients with CKD. In these challenging studies, she has been successful in overcoming major obstacles, such as the difficulty recruiting patients into invasive studies. Of her 41 publications, 16 are within the past two years, with 9 of these as first or last author. She has been recognized with a K award, and small grants from Denver Health, Amgen and the American Heart Association. Recently, Dr. Kendrick’s first R01 attempt scored at or just below the funding line, and she is beginning to receive national recognition for her research with an increasing number of invited talks and committee memberships. She is an associate editor for BMC Nephrology. In addition to her research credentials, as an educator Dr. Kendrick uniformly receives top 5% reviews while attending on internal medicine and nephrology. She is sought out by housestaff, chief residents and conference organizers to speak locally and regionally. In her primary clinical responsibilities at Denver Health, she is recognized as a top physician and is sought out by patients, families and staff to be involved in clinical care.

Kathleen Suddarth, MD joined the Division of General Internal Medicine in 2010. As an associate program director of CU’s internal medicine residency, she helped transition the program to block scheduling, a strategic change allowing for greater clinical focus and structured education time. She also helped establish a more robust remediation process for struggling learners, identifying learners who need assistance earlier and developing tailored learning plans. Dr. Suddarth formally mentors numerous residents and students, and acts as an informal mentor for the chief residents. She precepts medical students at all levels and in the resident clinic, and consistently receives outstanding evaluations and reviews. In 2013, she was named the Mountain West Society of General Internal Medicine Clinician Educator of the Year. Dr. Suddarth is also a role model for her learners as an exceptional clinician. She has quickly become a highly sought-after primary care provider, with the top patient satisfaction scores in her division (and in the top 1-2% across CU). Dr. Suddarth has published her findings on the impact of block scheduling on continuity of patient care, and is currently researching the impact of block scheduling on resident burnout and professionalism. She was invited to join a national leadership team for the Educational Research Outcomes Collaborative, a group of well-established education investigators, and has made significant contributions to the group’s work related to implementation of competency-based evaluation and assessment, which has helped to inform educators across the country. She has also given numerous national workshops about these topics. Dr. Suddarth is an active member of the American College of Physicians and has made significant contributions to the local ACP chapter, including coordination of the annual Doctor’s Dilemma medical jeopardy competition. She was named the 2014 ACP Early Career Physician of the Year.

The photographs and stories of these faculty members will be featured on the 8th floor of Academic Office One and the DOM website, as a reminder of their contributions to the department’s clinical, research, education and community missions. Please join us in congratulating Drs. Castillo-Mancilla, Clark, Kendrick and Suddarth.

Learn more about the Rising Stars faculty group.